Our weekly roundup of film reviews returns, courtesy of James Bryan...
This week’s biggest release is also the biggest letdown; the De Niro / Pacino team up Righteous Kill. We also have the preposterous looking Death Race as well as Kristin Scott Thomas drowning in praise for her performance in I've Loved You So Long.
The cloud of wasted opportunity hangs heavily over Righteous Kill. What should have been an epic clash of the acting titans that are Al Pacino and Robert De Niro turns out to be nothing more than a run of the mill police thriller. The Guardian (2-star) reckons they “deserved a better showcase than this” while The Times finds the story irrelevant as the film is so “utterly infatuated with the two big egos” (2-star). Exploding expectations The Independent warns, “Righteous Kill is nothing like Heat; it's not even warm. The real wonder is what either actor saw in it” (2-star). The disappointment is palpable. The Guardian sums it up:
They require a bigger stage, a sharper script and a more rigorous director. Without these, the long-awaited De Niro/Pacino show amounts to nothing so much as a novelty bout, a celebrity sparring session. Its sound and fury signifies very little.
Death Race is a nausea inducing mix of hot chicks, death and exploding metal all cynically blended to appeal to it’s teen male target. A remake of cult trash classic Death Race 2000 it was never going to impress the critics. The Guardian (2-star) calls it a “bone-headed yarn” you’re unlikely to care about while The Times, despite a 1-star review, inadvertently sells a few extra tickets with the line about “half-naked supermodels” clearly being “contractually obliged to synchronise their breasts and buttocks in bouncy slow-motion”.
The Times’ favourite film this week is Appaloosa, a good old fashioned slow burning western with Ed Harris and Viggo Mortensen playing two men hired to protect the local town, it gets 4 stars, “This is no revisionist western designed to shock life into an unfashionable genre, rather a film that respects the conventions of the traditional western. As such it’s a solid, satisfying piece of story-telling.” The Guardian agrees in a 3-star review saying that it’s “photographed handsomely with wide-angled majesty.”
The critics are rhapsodising about Kristen Scott Thomas’ performance in French film, I've Loved You So Long. The Times (3-star) calls it “a classy, emotionally intelligent portrait of two women rebuilding a relationship”. There appear to be issues with how it concludes but as The Guardian says, “Scott Thomas's performance, easily the best of her career, countermands any such qualms: the centre of a deeply involving, beautifully acted and expertly constructed human drama by and for grown-ups” (4-star).
Swing Vote has Kevin Costner as a washed up divorcee who has the deciding vote in the US election. Just because it’s timely doesn’t mean it’s any good. The Times (1-star) calls it “a party political broadcast brought to you by the Idiot Party”. The Guardian is slightly kinder with 2-stars, saying that are “some surprisingly sharp digs at the political process”.
Another film to avoid this week is Taken with Liam Neeson which is a 1-star “toxically stupid Europhone thriller” according to The Independent backed up by The Guardian’s perspective that “it’s slick, dubious and morally bankrupt” (1-star).
Next week the heavily promoted How To Lose Friends and Alienate People and Al Pacino is back again, this time in 88 Minutes, a film that might just be the worst of his career. Bet you can’t wait.
By James Bryan