Neil Fox on film (03.11.11)

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In Time

It’s a really mainstream, schlocky week for releases this week, at least locally. As always there are a lot of great films around, but somehow we don’t get them.

First up is this dystopian thriller starring Justin Timberlake as a man who doesn’t like his lot.

In a future where time is controlled and distributed to people like currency, and no-one lives past 25, JT plays a man who decides to break the system and take time back, going up against henchman Cillian Murphy in the process, and falling in love of course.

It feels timely with global protests against the 99 per cent taking place, as there are clear echoes of a world where the strings of the many are controlled by the hands of the few, but it’s just a confusing and cliche- ridden mess of nonsense and misses all opportunities to be entertaining and truly pertinent. A shame.

Tower Heist

Following on swiftly from a sci-fi ‘take down the fat cats’ movie is this ‘take down the fat cats’ action comedy with a fab cast, directed by the heavy-handed Brett Ratner. Like In Time, it misses the mark and its chance.

Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy lead a team of people who feel robbed by a businessman’s pyramid scheme and decide to rob his penthouse apartment.

It’s a motley band of ordinary Joes and a great idea. There are even some laughs but it is all a bit lazy and self-flagellating, especially with the actual actions of ordinary citizens against corrupt corporations currently taking place around the world.

Machine Gun Preacher

When will Gerard Butler act in a movie? Any guesses? Anyone know when he will look like he is making any kind of effort at inhabiting a character?

I am sure he is capable of it. But again, in this disappointing turn from normally reliable director Marc Forster (Finding Neverland) he is just a gruff, two-dimensional brooder and the schtick is getting old.

The film tells the story of a former drug-dealing biker who finds God and becomes a missionary helping Sudanese children who have become embroiled in militia violence.

You couldn’t make it up, and apparently they haven’t as it is based on a true story.

I’m sure the original man it’s based on is happy, aesthetically, that Gerard Butler played him, but as the years pass he may have wished for someone a little more inclined to act, or try.

Straw Dogs

There are two ways to look at this. You could either get riled up and angry that they have remade a classic or just realise it’s a commercial endeavour featuring talent beneath the original and move on. The overwhelming feeling when watching it is ‘what is the point?’

It’s a decently executed thriller that still manages to unsettle, but lacks the force or aggression of the controversial original.