This week - Michael Douglas proves he can still run unassisted (The Sentinel), a "comedy" about a midget who masquerades as a baby (Little Man) and a Speed-like film in which a man will die unless he keeps his adreniline level above a certain, very high, level (Crank).
First up, The Sentinel featuring OAP Michael Douglas, trying to prove that he can still be an action hero, Kiefer Sutherland, playing Jack Bauer, and Eva Longoria, because she's worth it.
None of the papers are impressed by this film, the Guardian, Independent and Times slapping on a two out of five.
Wendy Ide at the Times writes,
This is the kind of film where you can guess the identity of the undercover mole almost as soon as he appears on the screen. It’s a movie which, for all its gloss and gunfire, is decidedly low on thrills.
Kiefer Sutherland ("It’s almost as if he actually wants to be typecast") invites unflattering comparisons with 24, which according to Ide, "still manages to seem groundbreaking" whereas, "the film is far more conventional."
What is the point of rehashing a story that has been told many times before, or watching a film that is outclassed at every turn by a TV series?
Anthony Quinn at the Independent has a similar problem with this film, there are simply much better instances of this sort of gentre. The film,
can hardly help invoking the ghosts of earlier, better movies: the agent's race to foil a presidential assassination is a straight lift from Clint Eastwood and In the Line of Fire (and lacks the frisson of John Malkovich's unreachable villainy);
Peter Bradshaw doesn't have any kind words either, calling it, "convoluted and unsatisfying". He also picks up on a point that is explored in all the reviews regarding the film obsession with code names, secret service protocol and cars with blacked our windows (in a cool White House way rather than a boy racer Vauxhall Nova way),
Like so many movies about the presidency in peril, The Sentinel assumes a sublimely innocent pomposity about the paraphernalia of White House security; its factual research into the secret service agent's life is worn very heavily indeed.
Personally, we find all that White House paraphernalia quite exciting, but then again we've always secretly wanted to be spies.
Next up, Little Man.
A unanimous one star for Little Man! Tremendous! Reviews really do speak for themselves at this level -
The Vatican is supposed to have induced Galileo to renounce his subversive views about the Earth going round the sun by showing him the instruments of torture. They could have got him to say that the Earth is cubic or banana-shaped just by holding up a DVD copy of Little Man.
Wendy Ide -
What amounts to a rape perpetrated by a dwarf disguised as an infant is as low a moment in cinema as I can remember.
The film's parade of racial stereotypes is moronic enough; the accompaniment of asinine "jokes" about sex and farting marches it into the realm of the purely insufferable.
Bradshaw (3/5) describes Crank rather nicely,
Crop-headed Londoner Statham stars as the LA hitman who has been injected with a Chinese death serum, and the only way for him to stay alive is to keep his adrenalin up above a certain level: screaming, shouting, necking Red Bull, having sex in public, bloodily avenging himself on his would-be killers. Stuff like that.
Ide (3/5) likens it to Keanu Reeves blockbuster, Speed,
except that instead of a booby-trapped bus the object hurtling through this picture and creating havoc is the British actor Jason Statham.
Both Ide and Bradshaw call it a "guilty pleasure" which probably means it was written on the press release but although it "nutritional content of a packet of crisps" this does look like good fun to us. If you aren't already convinced, the clincher for us is the mention of "speeded-up montages" in the Independent's review (2/5).
Other films out this week - Adrift (A weekend cruise on a luxurious party yacht goes horribly wrong for a group of old high-school friends.),
Trailer of the week - The Queen (A movie about the Queen and Tony Blair! It's going to be rubbish!)