Tag Archives: Ed Skrein

Deadpool

deadpool-movie-stills-dream

“Whose balls did I have to fondle to get my very own movie?”

Let’s get this out the way quick and easy; I don’t read comic books, I don’t care about comic books and I certainly couldn’t care less about how faithful comic book films are to their source material. I just want a good film out of whatever I’m paying to see this week. That being said, no matter how aggressively average X-Men Origins: Wolverine was, its depiction of Deadpool may have been one of the worst things I have ever seen put to film. Ryan Reynolds’ Wade Wilson was funny, but the Deadpool character he was mutated to, played by Scott Adkins – an entirely different actor – was just fucking awful.

Thankfully, after years of threatening to give fans exactly what they wanted with a real, true to the comics, Deadpool; Reynolds and first-time director/long-time video game effects producer Tim Miller have vowed to do us all proud and brought the “Merc with a mouth” to the big screen in not just the best comic book film that Fox has put out, ever; but maybe a challenger for my favourite comic book film ever.

Chasing after the man that left Wilson a scarred, deformed mess under his red spandex, Deadpool sees our hero cutting a path through anyone that gets between him and his new worst enemy; a man who has made a career creating mutants from desperate people. Having offered Wade Wilson escape from the multiple cancers that riddle his body, his cure comes at far too high a price for ‘Pool who loses far more than he gains from his “treatment”.

Story wise? That’s pretty much all you need. Deadpool isn’t a film that lives and dies on its story telling. It is a film whose sole existence is to make you laugh harder than you’ve laughed at any comedy in the last year or so. Making no bones about the fact that this film isn’t supposed to exist, Deadpool is a beautifully self aware film that shows far more genius than anyone expected. Within a couple of minutes of the opening titles, the fourth wall is broken as the red-suited nutter addresses his audience and drags us kicking and screaming into a world that so many of us thought we would never get to enjoy.

The real surprise with this flick, though, is the emotion at its centre. Most of Deadpool’s motivation comes via the girlfriend he proposed to just before his cancer diagnosis; Morena Baccarin’s Vanessa is the perfect emotional core for a film that I wasn’t expecting to have one. They bring us some weighty, heartfelt moments that serve not only to help us connect with the pre-mutated Wade Wilson; but they also amplify the already pretty out there, balls to the wall comedy to insane levels.

The laughs and the action are where Deadpool‘s greatest strengths lie. Razor sharp humour that takes aim at some of the most unexpected targets with a few politically incorrect and just flat out wrong digs at some that clearly wronged the writers in a past life. Genuine laugh-out-loud moments that had me wishing I could pause the film to wipe the tears from my eyes before the next joke came along. With action scenes as sharp as its humour; every fight, every explosion, every set piece looks absolutely gorgeous and feels bone-crunching. When your film’s fights include people with super-powers, the only way to go is completely ridiculous and that, is Deadpool‘s bread and butter.

With impressive and surprisingly good support from his bad guys, Deadpool has as much fun with its bad guys as its hero. With fun turns from Ed Skrein, a man who has finally embraced his budget price Statham image and enjoyed his time with it; and the always fun to watch Gina Carano in as his henchman (henchwoman? Henchperson?) doing all his heavy lifting. We’ve had a couple of X-Men imported into our film but even when the over the top Colossus and the delightfully stupid Teenage Warhead come on screen, nothing feels out of place or overpowered. Everyone compliments everyone else and at no point, even when we are eyeballs deep in insane superhero jousting tournaments, do any of these characters feel stupid or out of place.

Everything about this film screams that it’ll be filled with in-jokes and meta humour that will quickly become irrelevant and in a couple of years simply won’t we worth watching anymore. Thankfully, that’s nothing like what we get here. On its surface, Deadpool is a childish, silly flick for those looking to giggle their way through a couple of hours. But in reality, its sharp humour, superb cast and great action make this a film that not only blows away most of what Marvel have been putting out over recent years, but will still be fun to watch without losing any edge for years to come. In his fifth comic book movie appearance, Ryan Reynolds has finally given us an almost perfect film and an almost perfect performance. I can’t recommend it enough.

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Kill Your Friends

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“What music do I like? Whatever’s profitable.”

I’ve said before, many times, how I try very hard to read a book before I see the film it’s based on, especially if it’s interesting looking or if someone I trust recommends it to me. Of course, there’s a limit, I absolutely will NOT be reading any of the Hunger Games books, ever. But Kill Your Friends looked like an interesting read and it was recommended to me by a friend who, if he recommended them, would have me buying animal porn that starred Japanese men with Hitler moustaches and bowler hats because I know full well it would be worth a butcher’s if he says it is.

So, comparisons to American Psycho – a book I genuinely loathed and couldn’t finish – be damned, I grabbed John Niven’s nineties music business romp and hid myself in a corner for a bit to read. Sadly, this is where my comparison to Bret Easton Ellis’ novel starts, because I couldn’t finish the book. I hated it. I hated the characters, the setting, the dialogue, everything; so at a measly 47%, my kindle has been retired for a bit and I hoped that, much like American Psycho before it, the film turns out to be much better than the book that I couldn’t stand. I was genuinely fearful as our protagonist – a word that really doesn’t suit our main character, Steven Stelfox – uttered the words “Get fucked. You couldn’t last ten minutes” as I thought I quite possibly won’t.

Steven Stelfox is a young A&R executive, hip deep in the mid-nineties British music business at the height of the brit-pop era. Ambitious, in that “I want to have everything, but it sounds like awfully hard work” kind of way; the hungry Artists and Repertoire (nope, I didn’t know what A&R was either – I’m still none the wiser) agent is far more comfortable conniving and back-stabbing his way to the top and isn’t adverse to treading on and stepping over his friends and colleagues to get what he wants. As we learn very quickly, he’s more than willing to quite literally kill his friends if it means a better office.

As we come to find out, the music business is a cutthroat business, and successes and failures come in at extremes. Success can mean a big pay check and a happy, easy life; but failure can mean your job. We meet Stelfox as he is dancing along a razor sharp edge between the two; without a hit record and a way to make his name for quite some time but always seemingly on the cusp of making a killer move to make himself and his label a ton of money. The problem for Stelfox, however, is that he is more adept at accidentally sabotaging himself than he is at discovering hit records and his preference of snorting cocaine instead of working is beginning to get the better of him. Among a haze of booze, drugs, women and music both good and bad; Stelfox and his ilk are searching for the next big thing and, perhaps more importantly, putting all their effort into making sure their counterparts, their enemies, don’t get their hands on the hit makers they are discovering.

Nicholas Hoult is fast becoming an actor whom I would watch, no matter what he was in. His awesome turn in Mad Max: Fury Road earlier in the year was spectacular. But in a completely different and relatively original role, his portrayal of Steven Stelfox is just as good. The hate fuelled music agent who seemingly runs on a massive amount of cocaine and alcohol without having a need or want to slow down is the purest form of the word “anti-hero” since The Terminator and he best reason to cheer for a bad guy since Riddick as he snorts his way into and back out of trouble on several continents with a lot of money at stake. The contempt he has for his co-workers, and us, the audience he talks to throughout the film oozes sinisterly from the screen as he pulls off a world-class “What the fuck is this?” face with every awful new band he’s forced to listen to for our pleasure. As his world collapses around him and he fights to build it back up before it’s too late, Stelfox is an interesting, if completely unlikable, character that no one can relate to, but we can all love to hate. We don’t want him to find redemption and we don’t want him to come out on top, but we know he will and he’ll drag us kicking and screaming with him.

With a tremendous supporting cast that includes Georgina King, James Corden, Jim Piddock and Ed Skrein (I know no-one else likes him, but I do, dammit!) Kill Your Friends is a tremendously dark comedy that will have you feeling bad every single time you laugh, but won’t actually stop you from laughing. With a (not completely unexpected) soundtrack that is guaranteed to bring those memories rolling back, even if it does play a little like “Now That’s What I Call Music 1997” minus the Spice Girls poisonous shit, Dutch music producer Junkie XL has done an amazing job on everything from the licensed music to his own composed score that instantly transports the audience to the end of one of the most insane decades for music in Britain and keeps us there for the duration of the drug fuelled flick.

From the narcissism to the petty one-upmanship; from the feel, tone and attitude of the main character’s narration to the uncomfortably extreme violence; whilst Kill Your Friends feels like it’s influenced quite heavily by the writings of, and subsequent films based on, Hunter S. Thompson, its comparisons to American Psycho certainly aren’t unfounded or unwarranted. But Kill Your Friends does do enough to separate itself from most of the dark crime thrillers we’ve been getting and is a glorious film to behold.

Owen’s 2015 in Film: Part 9 – September Refuelled

As yet another month passes in 2015, it’s time for the next entry to Owen’s year in review series, looking at a selection of the films that he’s been watching throughout September. As with each of the previous articles in the series, the month will be broken down by week, with a review of one arbitrarily chosen film seen during each period.

by Owen Hughes (@ohughes86)

everest-base-camp-movieNormally in this series I’d pick whichever movie that I happened to fancy writing about. Be it the one I found the most interesting, the one I loved most, one that I hated, etc. It typically changes with each new entry.

However, having taken a look back through the whole month, it appears that I’ve seen at least one new release in each week of September. Therefore, I’m going to do something slightly different for this month’s article, I think. After all, it’s been a month of new starts for me personally, beginning life as a full time University student.

I’ve learnt a lot over the past five weeks; how to be a better writer, the essence of what being a journalist actually means – and just how much I missed going to work. Seriously. I spent just over one solitary week unemployed, having left employment on Friday 11th September before enrolling at University on Thursday 24th. It was horrible. My expectations were that it would feel like a holiday. A nice, albeit short break before my life completely changed.

Wrong.

It was a tedious, slow, excruciating week of sitting around doing nothing, getting more and more anxious about whether or not I’d done the right thing. I do not envy anybody who has to spend longer than that out of work. But at least it did give me a chance to reflect a little. Some time to think about the decisions I’d made; about what I had let myself in for.

Contrary to the seemingly popular opinion that student life is all about causing queue congestion by paying for everything with a cheque, staying in bed until 2pm and eating Pot Noodles for breakfast, it’s been bloody hard work. Rewarding and exciting. But hard.

It’s certainly threatening to scupper my plans to resurrect my Horrorble Month sequel, the project I completed last October where I watched a horror movie every day in the lead up to Halloween. It’s actually where I conceived the idea of doing this as a more regular thing.

Although, back in September, I did still manage to actually get through a decent number of movies. Starting with…


Week 1 – Tuesday 1 – Sunday 6 September 2015

Tuesday – Star*Men (2015), Welcome to Leith (2015), No Tears For The Dead (2014); Wednesday – [absolutely nothing]; Thursday – [absolutely nothing]; Friday – The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out Of A Window And Disappeared (2014); Saturday – Area 51 (2015), Blood Lake (2014); Sunday – THE TRANSPORTER REFUELED (2015)

transporterI know it’s weird how I constantly feel the need to defend my preference for action movies; quite frankly, it shouldn’t be an issue. Taste is a subjective thing, of course. However, there is a stigma attached to the genre that suggests those who enjoy mindless action on camera are morons. Personally, I don’t subscribe to that opinion. People are entitled to enjoy whatever the hell they want and it’s not necessarily a reflection on your level of intelligence. Laugh at Adam Sandler if you want, cry whilst watching My Little Pony, ponder the nature of existence during the three hours of motorway footage you found on YouTube. It’s your choice. That said, what an absolutely enormous waste of everybody’s time the latest entry to the Transporter franchise is. From its tacky opening scenes trying (and failing) to revive the swagger that the original Luc Besson movie had in swathes, to its boring and overdue conclusion; I had no fun watching this whatsoever. The only thing more annoying than Ed Skrein’s Statham impersonation is the missing ‘L’ in the movie title. I love the original movie as much as anyone should, but the sequels have been subpar. Even The Stath agrees, given his comments in an interview with Sabotage Times about working with Ben Foster:

“…for me to be able to work opposite someone like that and not some hairdresser cast off the street – which is what happened with Transporter 3 – well, it was fantastic.”

At least The Transporter Refueled wasn’t quite that bad, I suppose. Also in its favour is that it did introduce the always watchable Ray Stevenson as the father of the notorious getaway driver Frank Martin. The plot too is acceptable (if badly structured) for this sort of film, with the delivery package this time being four women enacting their revenge. But it was in essence a dull, unexciting and incredibly stupid crapfest.


Week 2 – Monday 7 – Sunday 13 September 2015

Monday – Tabloid (2010)Tuesday – [absolutely nothing]; Wednesday – [absolutely nothing]; Thursday – Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002); Friday – [absolutely nothing]; Saturday – SONS OF BEN (2015)Sunday – The Hunted (2003)

sons of benOrdinarily I wouldn’t cover a film in this series that I’d already written a review for on the website and talked about on the podcast. Nevertheless, it: a) fits the criteria I set out in the introduction; and b) is an indie documentary that deserves a bit of extra publicity. As such, here are a few snippets from my original review to give you an overview:

“What happens when you’re a fan of the beautiful game in a country where football is not even close to being in the top three most popular sports on the continent, never mind without half a dozen teams a stones throw from your bedroom window? Well, if you’re in Philadelphia, then of course the only viable solution is to set up a supporters club called the Sons of Ben for a team that doesn’t yet exist. That’s exactly what Bryan James, Andrew Dillon, and David Flagler did in January 2007 hoping that one day a Major League Soccer franchise would open in their beloved home town.

“Director Jeffrey C. Bell tells the entire unbelievable story of this passionate community of soccer fans coming together to support a non-existent team, from its humble beginnings as a conversation at a bar, through to its surprising conclusion.

You can purchase Sons of Ben: The Movie on DVD directly from their website. They have other outlets such as streaming and digital download planned to happen soon so keep an eye on their Twitter and Facebook pages for updates. In the meantime, check out the trailer below.”

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sqAFIAHox6w]

Week 3 – Monday 14 – Sunday 20 September 2015

Monday – L’eclisse (1962)Tuesday – Mortal Kombat (1995), Legend (2015)Wednesday – Starry Eyes (2014); Thursday – Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie (1994)Friday – Class of Nuke ’em High (1986), Pernicious (2015)Saturday – Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (1997)Sunday – EVEREST (2015)

60ea71a0-dcbf-4e43-92f6-415984fbdbd6-1020x612To borrow an often used football cliché, director Baltasar Kormákur‘s Everest is a film of two halves. The first hour of this adventure-turned-disaster movie is mind numbingly slow. It drags. There’s a lot of emphasis placed on the characters involved in this 1990’s expedition to the summit of Mount Everest, led by Jason Clarke as real-life New Zealander Rob Hall. I understand why the film is purposefully designed to be this slow, as it builds up enough backstory to make you care about the characters involved, hoping that you’ll be bothered by them if something were to happen. Perhaps the reason that this drudges on so tamely is because there are too many characters, each with their own stories to tell. This may be a very slight spoiler, so apologies in advance, but once they finally got to the top of the treacherous mountain, it did occur to me that surely there wasn’t much of the 120 minute run time left. And yet! I was wrong. I glanced at my watch and there was still somehow an hour to go. But what an hour of cinema it was. I was surprised by just how invested I became in these people given the fact that I was certain that up to that point, I’d been bored. I’d have liked to have seen a little more about what Rob Hall’s wife (Keira Knightley) was going through back home but otherwise it was a very emotional 60 minutes. It’s probably the first movie for years that has caused me to well up in the cinema whilst watching. Apparently a lot of the footage was actually taken at camp one on the real mountain too. The film looks amazing for it and between the visuals and the latter half of the story, it’s definitely a film worth seeing and makes up for a tepid opening half.


Week 4 – Monday 21 – Sunday 27 September 2015

Monday – Bride of Re-animator (1989); Tuesday – Dawn of the Dead (1978)Wednesday – Day of the Dead (1985), Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief (2015), Sicario (2015); Thursday – Day of the Triffids (1962), From Beyond (1986)Friday – Invaders From Mars (1986), Return to Oz (1985); Saturday – [absolutely nothing]; Sunday – THE MARTIAN (2015)

maxresdefault-3I’m going to spare your eyes from going even more square whilst staring at your computer screen for any longer and suggest you click the link below and instead listen to my review of Ridley Scott’s latest sci-fi movie:

FAILED CRITICS PODCAST: THE INTERN, THE MARTIAN & SICARIO (29 Sep 2015)

Alternatively, read on below if you’d rather.

There appear to be two types of ‘Ridley Scott’ in this world. There’s the Ridley Scott who makes ambitious, misunderstood or sometimes simply just plain bad movies such as American Gangster, Exodus: Gods & Kings, Robin Hood, Kingdom of Heaven (the theatrical cut at least) and The Counsellor, to name but a few. Then there also appears to be a Ridley Scott who makes exciting, intelligent and often influential science fiction movies with an enticing premise and wondrous, imagination-capturing special effects and plots. Think Blade Runner, Alien and (yes, even) Prometheus. Where that leaves The Martian is definitely more towards that of a studio-led film than a recognisably Ridley Scott movie. There’s very little character in the picture; you certainly wouldn’t guess from looking that it was Ridley Scott rather than, say, Steven Speilberg, Robert Zemeckis, Ron Howard etc. Not that this is necessarily a problem. The lack of identity in respect to its director is moot considering just how enjoyable The Martian is. Adapted from the Andy Weir novel of the same name, the plot revolves around wise-cracking astronaut and botanist Mark Watney (Matt Damon) who is stranded on the planet Mars where his crew have abandoned him, assuming him dead. Although there’s a large support cast of talented actors (Jessica Chastain, Jeff Daniels, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Benny Wong(!) etc) the majority of the run time is carried by Damon, whose antics and humour make his time on the red planet seem all too brief. Even though the final third descends into Gravity with pop tunes sound tracking it, the biggest compliment I can think to pay The Martian is that I wish it were a biopic simply so I could spend more time learning about this fascinating and epic adventure.


Week 5 – Monday 28 – Wednesday 30 September 2015

Monday – Vamp (1986); Tuesday – Wolf Cop (2014); Wednesday – SKIN TRADE (2015)

skintradeheaderAh, Netflix. From time to time, you throw up some real gems that I would otherwise have overlooked. Usually they’re films starring Scott Adkins or Donnie Yen. On this occasion, Skin Trade lured me in by plastering martial arts movie icon Tony Jaa’s name all over it. If that wasn’t tempting enough, they only went and got Dolph Lundgren involved too. What the double team that is, eh? But wait! Ron Pearlman, as well? Well, blow me down with a feather (or flaming flying kick – Onk Bak, anyone?). The truth is, Skin Trade is complete and utter tosh. Quelle surprise, right? Maybe that’s a bit unfair as for at least 10 minutes, it’s OK. It’s alright. It’s not horrendous. Dolph plays a NYC cop who teams up with a Thai detective (Tony Jaa) to stop the Serbian crime boss (Ron Pearlman) and his human trafficking gig. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that; I’d even stretch that a bit further and say Jaa’s first action scene in a small room was impressively well choreographed and set the bar too high too early. You can see he’s clearly still got it in him to pull out some fantastic moves on screen. Unfortunately, it just gets progressively worse from then on. Its great cast are left to scrape together something resembling a cohesive plot but without fully capitalising on the potential of its concept. I will keep my fingers crossed in the hope that Tony Jaa gets another crack at the lead role in an American movie, Skin Trade somewhat remarkably being his first. He definitely proved he’s capable enough during his cameo role in Furious 7.


And that’s it for another month. Join me again roughly this time in November for part two of my “horrorble month” lists, where once again I aim to watch at least one horror film every day through October. Until then, feel free to comment below on any of my reviews – or send me a tweet!

The Transporter Refueled

by Andrew Brooker (@Brooker411)

The-Transporter-Refueled-13“I don’t ask questions on a job. This is a favour.”

Now I don’t know about you, but the thought of recasting a role that I love always leaves me with a sour taste in my mouth. When it happens, there’s never really a middle ground where the film or TV show is just okay; you almost always find your self at one of the extremes of the spectrum where the result is fantastic, or utter toilet. We’ve seen it a hundred times; from James Bond and Hannibal Lecter to John and Sarah Connor, so last year when news hit that Jason Statham was walking away from The Transporter Refueled and letting someone else take on the role of Frank Martin, I was horrified. Now, after a couple of release date shifts, we have a fresh faced Ed Skrein – a man I only know from his short stint on Game of Thrones before his role of Daario Naharis was handed to someone else – taking on the role of the contract transporter and looking to reboot the franchise.

But the question is, can he replace Statham as The Transporter? And if he can, can he make the role his own and bring enough to fulfil the new trilogy that Luc Besson’s Europacorp are hoping for?

As Frank Martin adds his name to a list of great characters to whom shit just seems to keep happening, the fourth instalment in the Transporter series sees Martin back behind the driver’s seat in France, doing shady things for shady people and getting paid well for it. This time around, he finds himself quickly embroiled in a revenge plot against Eastern European human traffickers a decade and a half in the making; as a handful of women who have managed to escape the clutches of greasy pimp in a nice suit Karasov, the women set about robbing the man and his associates and start in motion a chain of events that they hope will bring down the entire filthy operation.

Hiring Frank as a getaway driver for a bank robbery, the former sex workers make it personal by kidnapping Martin’s retired father – personal favourite actor Ray Stevenson – and threatening his life to force Frank’s hand and make him hang around long past the point of his contract being finished. Unwittingly and unwillingly, the father and son duo are now part of the team taking on this nasty prostitution ring and trying to keep the girls, and themselves, alive; a feat that they find pretty difficult when shit hits the fan and they start pissing off some scary guys who aren’t backwards in coming forwards and punching you in the face. If Frank and his dad, a man who has a few of his own skeletons in his closet, can come out of this in one piece, it’ll be nothing sort of a miracle.

The thing with the Transporter franchise as a whole, is that while in reality it isn’t anything special and it certainly isn’t flawless, it’s an absolute arse full of fun and they are surprisingly well made for a low budget bunch of films about a guy that drives really fast. I went in to The Transporter Refueled expecting all the fun and quality to be gone. With the stories of Jason Statham leaving the franchise because producers didn’t want to pay him and that they were going into production without a proper script, my this-is-gonna-be-shit-o-meter was going nuts as I sat in my seat this afternoon.

But to my complete surprise, I was completely wrong. Transporter Refueled is everything I’ve come to expect from the series. Great action, superb fighting and amazing car chases all strung together with a story put together at the last minute and just kind of thrown at the people acting it out on screen the day before it was being shot. I mean, the whole Eastern European sex worker story is starting to wear thin, with Liam Neeson recently taking three movies to eradicate it with the Taken series, we are seeing it come back with The Transporter, with all the rubbish stereotypes in tow. Not to worry, Ed Skrein is here to wipe them all out again and the guy is pretty damn convincing in Jason Statham’s shoes, and man does he know how to drive that car! Mmmmm. That car. An erection inducing Audi S8 that roars to life with a tap to the accelerator and just leaves me drooling like an imbecile at every rev. Forget Fast and Furious, ladies and gentlemen; this is the kind of car porn I like and boy is it good.

Mmmmmm. Cars. Mmmmm Audis.  I feel like I’ve been subliminally pushed into buying an Audi by the last couple of films I’ve watched. I can’t afford a bloody Audi, you bastards! Anyways… Yeah, where was I? Oh right.

The story, and the film as a whole takes a little while to kick into a good gear while it lays the groundwork for the story and introduces us to the new Frank Martin. It’s definitely a bit of a slog to get through the first twenty minutes or so because as much as I tried to look past it, I couldn’t help but miss Jason Statham on the screen and kind of pined for him for a bit. But, by the end of the first fight, the first car chase and the first bit of back and forth with his old man, the story has ramped up and I’ve all but forgotten The Stath and accepted The Skrein as the new Frank Martin. Camille Delamarre, long time editor to Luc Besson, is on director duties and does a pretty good job in keeping the film running at a good pace and at a little over an hour and a half, has kept the film down to a run time that even those burning out on daft action films like this won’t be sat long enough to get bored.

At the end of the day, if you’ve stuck with The Transporter long enough to be going to see the fourth film, then you know exactly what you’re going to get and you’re sure to enjoy it. A new star and a slightly different direction aren’t going to stop The Transporter Refueled from being a shit load of fun and a welcome return for a Frank Martin.