Tag Archives: Alexander Skarsgård

Mute (2018) Movie Review by Darrin Gauthier

Mute Review

Director: Duncan Jones
Writers: Michael Robert Johnson (screenplay by), Duncan Jones (screenplay by)
Stars: Alexander Skarsgård, Paul Rudd, Justin Theroux

Plot:  A mute bartender goes up against his city’s gangsters in an effort to find out what happened to his missing partner.

Running Time: 2 hours 6 mintues

IMDB Score: 5.4

Why I Watched It: I like Duncan Jones but his was a watch to see if it was as bad as the buzz and the critics said it was.

Random Thoughts: This is a Netflix Original and it was pushed pretty well and they spent money the hook here is that this was a passion project of director Duncan Jones, he’s tried to get this made for a long ass time and now he finally did it, he had this script even before he made Moon, by the way keep an eye out for Sam Rockwell making a fun cameo in his Moon character, now the tricky thing with a director and a personal passion project is that it might be so inside him it doesn’t work for the masses.  It’s often a case that a director is too close to a project and Mute seems like another example of this.

What I liked: At it’s core Mute is a noir, take all the sci-fi elements away and it’s a old fashioned film noir, a man looking for his love and discovers mysteries and lies and of course some very bad people, and we get to watch and think does anyone really know anyone.  On that level I liked the detective story if you will, there is one twist I didn’t see coming and it made sense and is maybe the best part of the story.

Alexander Skarsgard is playing against type here and he’s good, he doesn’t get to speak but the big thing is he’s likeable and you follow him and you have to believe he’s over his head but he can over come this and you do care about him finding answers.  Also the set up of the relationship between him and Saleh works you buy them as a couple and you do believe he would go to the end of the world to find her.

What I Didn’t Like: I don’t see how setting this in the future changed the story at all because it pretty much does not help the story and also by setting it in the future that kind of forces you to world build which Mute doesn’t do at all.  The main problem is that the future setting doesn’t help the story and it may get in the way cause everything else is by the numbers.  I’ll give a big example Paul Rudd’s character is desperate to get out of Berlin, which the story is set, but everyone speaks English and it looks like anywhere else they never let us know what the US is like or why Berlin is worse.  If you’re going to set a story in the future then you have to have that come into play otherwise there’s no point.

Let’s talk about Paul Rudd, yes he’s playing a bad guy, so that’s against type and yes a lot of people will talk about his stretching or showing how good an actor is, look Rudd is a good actor who happens to be good at comedy and here it’s no surprise when he’s playing off Justin Theroux he comes off well and when he’s trying to be tough he comes off that he’s trying to hard, it’s like he’s jumping up and down screaming “Look I can do more, look I’m acting” he’s not bad but it’s Paul Rudd playing a bad guy I never saw a character I saw Rudd not doing comedy.  There’s a couple of scenes that plain out don’t work cause he’s over acting.  Now I will say he has one really good scene when he confronts Justin Theroux that really works and was his best work here.  So Let’s get to the Justin Theroux character, yes we get two bad guys and his character is gross, something comes to light about him that is very unsettling and yes it makes him a bad guy but I question why you needed it, cause it should have been a bigger point but even after Rudd finds out things stay the same it comes off as cheap heat.

The biggest flaw in Mute is that it’s overblown, this is a simple story and it’s dragged out to over 2 hours and let’s be honest this film didn’t need to be that long cause the ground they cover is cliched and boring, we get strip joints and brothels and oh look criminals running the city, been there done that and the sad thing the biggest miss is that the film doesn’t look that great for a story set in the future at least make it look cool, oh look flying cars, oh boy.  Also I want to add that the lead character is Mute so it has a gimmick but like the setting it isn’t used well and really besides him writing stuff down I don’t know why this guy had to be mute, to make it different?

Final Thoughts: I didn’t hate it and I think if it was 15 minutes shorter I might have even liked it, I’m a film noir junkie and we don’t get these types of stories much anymore but it was too flawed to really enjoy.  It’s too bad cause I like Duncan Jones as a director and I hope he can bounce back if you want to see him do a lot with nothing go watch Moon.

Rating: 4/10

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What Maisie Knew (2012) Movie Retro Review by Stephen McLaughlin

WHAT MAISIE KNEW

Directors: Scott McGehee, David Siegel
Writers: Nancy Doyne (screenplay by), Carroll Cartwright (screenplay by)
Stars: Julianne Moore, Alexander Skarsgård, Steve Coogan, Joanna Vanderham, Onata Aprile

“What Maisie Knew” is set in New York City and is about a young girl who is caught in the middle of her parents’ bitter custody battle. The Movie is based on the acclaimed novel by Henry James. The story is primarily focused from 6 year old Maisie’s perspective and is portrayed by the Onata Aprile who is unfortunately caught in the midst of a bitter custody battle between her mother Susanna (Moore) and father Beale (Coogan)

Susanna is an ageing rockstar and from what I gather Moore used real life inspiration from Courtney Love and Patti Smith for her character in this movie. Moore’s portrayal throughout the movie is frustrating and brilliant at the same time. Committed to touring and battling against her husband for custody for her daughter results in emotional abandonment and neglect.

The same can be said for Beale who is an Art-Dealer struggling for work in New York and commits his time to traveling for business and like Susanna results in emotional neglect. Moore and Coogan appear to be the same side of the coin in many ways. They use their daughter as pawn against each other and abandon her with their Nanny named Margo (Vanderham) when they are too busy and in near enough every scene with them their young daughter is witnessing argument after argument.

Onata Aprile as Maisie plays the role naturally as a subdued child not showing physical signs of trauma because of her nature to take things in her stride. Aprile is brilliant and you really do feel for her and the situation she is in. For me Susanna and Beale don’t deserve Maisie (as stated by Lincoln later in the movie) they are selfish and very egotistical and their abandonment of their child at the drop of a hat infuriated me. Thankfully there are people in Maisie’s life who are willing to step up and look after the girl.

Ironically, Beale marries former nanny Margo (Vanderham), and in retaliation Susanna also remarries, to young bartender Lincoln, (Skarsgård). Margo and Lincoln for most of the movie are basically drop off points for Susanna and Beale who show evermore disrespect towards them and confirm what a couple of horrible people they are. We discover a bond between Maisie and Lincoln. At first I was unsure of the character and what his motives were but you get the sense that from early on he senses what the young girl is missing in her life and falls naturally into their friendship like a big brother (rather than a step father) to Maisie.

Vanderham and Skarsgård play their roles very well and the audience are just glad their portrayal of their characters are like saviours for Maisie. Both actors don’t have a lot of shared on screen time for the duration of the movie but when they do there is a natural bond there that like Maisie have been used by Susanna and Beale and are definitely the flip side of the coin.

I love the way “What Maisie Knew” is shot and directed by Scott McGehee and David Siegel. It’s always interesting to see a movie from the perspective of the child and reminded me a little bit like “I Am Sam” a lot of the shots are from the view of Maisie and adds to the emotional impact of adults arguing in front of their child.

Overall the movie is very interesting because it follows around what the girl sees and hears, and we see her world through her eyes and her conversations to other adults. Though the storyline is upsetting, it is real and happens everyday in life and there are lessons to be learnt for all adults out there whether you have children or not. Scott McGehee and David Siegel manage to portray the events in the movie without being overly dramatic thanks to a brilliant screenplay by Nancy Doyne and Carroll Cartwright. It is emotionally painfully to watch Maisie being passed about like a parcel from one adult to another, yet surprisingly Maisie is still holding up without showing negativity. It shows that her world is innocent and untainted and in her eyes you see hope. “What Maisie Knew” is highly recommendable.

War on Everyone (2016) Movie Review by Darrin Gauthier

WAR ON EVERYONE

Director: John Michael McDonagh
Writer: John Michael McDonagh
Stars: Alexander Skarsgård,  Michael Peña,  Theo James

Plot: Two corrupt cops set out to blackmail and frame every criminal unfortunate enough to cross their path. Events, however, are complicated by the arrival of someone who appears to be even more dangerous than they are.
IMDB Score: 5.9
Running time: 1 hour 38 minutes

Why I watched it: I was on the fence with this one, I had seen the trailer and thought it looked alright, at first I heard good things but then there was a kind of backlash saying on violent and vile all the characters were, I decided to give it a go.
Random thoughts: Just to get it out of the way, this is a tricky film to review cause it’s a few genres rolled into one and it really feels like a throwback movie to me, late 80’s early 90’s, gritty, not PC at all and the good guys are more anti heroes or less bad than the guys they go up against and even with everything going on some vile shit happens there’s a lot of humor to it, dark but there’s some laughs.  This one is not for everyone that’s for sure.

What I liked: The biggest thing for me that worked is the two main characters played by Skarsgard and Pena, their not just types or cliches, they’re not defined by being cops or corrupt.  Now there’s a lot of violence, swearing and some vile things going on in this film but for me it’s a character study, not only the two main characters but their friendship.  They don’t talk about it but these guys love each as friends, there’s a couple of times when other people say some bad things to one about the other and you can tell it not only pisses them off but they don’t buy it. For all this film is I think it does a good job of not over talking some of the big points, they don’t talk about their friendship, their home lives, they feel like real people in these lives not just written for a plot device.

For my money Michael Pena is one of the best actors working today, one of the most versatile and underrated he’s played in almost every genre you could think of the funny thing here he does have the big arc it’s Skarsgard.  One thing I like about his film is that it starts out as a buddy cop film, granted corrupt cops, I want to make this clear they only screw around with bad guys, their not Bad Lieutenant bad, they’re in it for the money.  Things change as the case they’re chasing brings them into contact with some different people.  Skarsgard character is almost always drinking and we find out he lives alone in a big house, Pena is married with two kids.

We also find out Skarsgard character has some demons, he ends up dating a girl he meets and also picking up a boy who’s mother killed his father, now the thing that surprised me about the film is that in this action genre they kind of include some really touching subjects and we find Skarsgard might have something in common with the boy.  For me their’s a heart to this film, a twisted heart but it’s there.  The bad guys in this film at least the two main ones are vile, I’ll give Theo James credit here cause he’s playing against type and he underplays, he doesn’t run around over the top he’s a spooky, creepy guy.  Caleb Landry Jones is right out of the 70’s with his look and performance and he out creeps James.

What I didn’t like: Tone is it’s biggest problem, like I said it’s tricky, some people are going to be turned off cause it’s not black and white, this is a very dark grey film.  Sometimes the film is hurt by it’s sense of humor considering what else is going on.  As much as I like the character work here I do feel Pena’s character could have been fleshed out more, we know he’s married with two boys and they seem to have a good relationship, but besides providing for his family we don’t really know why he does what he does.  Skarsgard is a wounded animal, a broken toy and he kind of follows, he’s looking for a family.  Now this is done with a lot of subtext I think the film would have been better if it toned down some of the “cool action” stuff and dealt even more with the motivations.

Final thoughts: One think I didn’t mention is I did find the film funny at times, there’s some fun bits, they follow this lead to Iceland, and suddenly their in Iceland dressed the same and freezing their asses off.  For me this is a film you are either on board for or not, some people are going to be turned off and rightfully so but I liked enough of it to go along for the ride.

Rating: 7/10

War on Everyone (2016) Movie Review by Stephen McLaughlin

WAR ON EVERYONE

Director: John Michael McDonagh
Writer: John Michael McDonagh
Stars: Alexander Skarsgård, Michael Peña, Theo James

The third film (not counting a short called The Second Death) from English Director John Michael McDonagh after The Guard and Calvary. War on Everyone is a sharp, funny and deliberately offensive comedy written by McDonagh also.

Bob Bolaño (Michael Peña) and Terry Monroe (Alexander Skarsgård) are two bent cops who blackmail criminals all over town. The two of them drive about in a Chevrolet Monte Carlo with their type of justice the order of the day (just not the kind of justice their Lieutenant Gerry Stanton, played by the brilliant Paul Reiser (Mad About You & Beverley Hills Cop) would approve of).

Some of the humour is in your face and obvious and some of the funniest moments are observational. During one scene in particular the crime fighting partners are on a stakeout eating burgers. When it’s time to intervene, Terry kicks in the door to the house, guns in position, they still have the burgers they were eating in their other hands. They find a man slumped on the floor bleeding with a knife in his stomach and the mans wife sat there screaming much to the annoyance of Bob and still, yes that’s right…eating their burgers. I know this may not be everyones kind of humour but I thought it was silly funny.

Some of the one liners will tickle you and one that springs to mind is when Terry and Bob show photographs to their informant Reggie (Malcolm Barrett) who quick wittingly says “who took these pictures? An epileptic?” berating the quality of Terry’s camera skills.

Michael Peña (Ant-Man and The Martian) is excellent as Bob Bolaño and is well suited to the role. His one liners will have you laughing (especially his conversations with his kids and the way he treats them) his character is excellent with his screen wife, (Stephanie Sigman) and the film would have benefited greatly by more of their on screen chemistry.

Swedish actor Alexander Skarsgård (The Legend of Tarzan and Zoolander 2) brings a deadpan character to his role of Glen Campbell obsessed Terry, who became a policeman because “you can shoot people for no reason”.

Skarsgård shows that given a half decent script he might even be able to deliver the goods as there is some good comedic moments, but other times he came across a little awkward next to Pena, who is much more suited to the comedic role.

I can’t review War on Everyone without mentioning the whole host of colourful characters supporting Terry and Bob from Tessa Thompson’s Jackie Hollis, Reggie, the informant (Malcolm Barrett), the strange Russell Birdwell (Caleb Landry Jones) and The bearded Paddy Power (David Wilmot), but unfortunately at times it made the story feel like a disjointed and segmented from scene to scene whenever the supporting characters appeared apart from every scene with Malcolm Barrett who delivered every time with some memorable one liners.

The grainy cinematography by Bobby Bukowski (Arlington Road) had a blend of a 1970s vibe mixed together with Tarantino edge to it in the style of Death Proof, which is heightened by John Michael McDonagh’s possibly overusing wipe effects.

War on Everyone is not for everyone as it is a bit over the place at times if I’m being honest, but certainly, the movie is funny and has enough to enjoy it for Peña alone and worth at least one watch.

The Legend of Tarzan (2016) Movie Review by Stephen McLaughlin

LEGEND OF TARZAN

 

Director: David Yates
Writers: Adam Cozad (screenplay), Craig Brewer (screenplay)
Stars: Alexander Skarsgård, Christoph Waltz, Samuel L. Jackson, Margot Robbie

Tarzan is a story that has been told so many times in different mediums and inspired versions of the Lord of the Jungle.

In this incarnation Tarzan (Alexander Skarsgård), has been there, done it and bought the leopard print t-shirt as he finds himself acclimatising to his life back in civilised London as John Clayton III. The Prime Minister played by the brilliant Jim Broadbent who communicates an invitation from King Leopold II of Belgium, to come to the Congo and see all the good things that the King is doing for the natives.

Tarzan has no desire to go back to Africa, but he is persuaded by George Washington Williams (Samuel L. Jackson), a U.S. government representative who is skeptical of the King’s activities in Africa and wants to see the conditions on the ground for himself.

It turns out that Leopold’s invitation was a set up and that he King was not making as much money from the Congo’s natural resources as he had hoped. Hence why he sent Captain Léon Rom (Christoph Waltz) to Africa seeking out new sources of income. Rom is looking for some rumoured diamond mines when he runs into Chief Mbonga (Djimon Hounsou) and his warriors.

Unaware of how ruthless the Belgians can be, Mbonga offers Rom access to the region’s treasures in exchange for Tarzan, with whom the chief has a score to settle. Hence, King Leopold’s “invitation”. Upon their arrival in the “Free State of Congo”, Tarzan and Jane (Margot Robbie) reunite with old friends, but their joy is short-lived, thanks to Rom’s cruel plan.

Tarzan, does what he can to help the natives, protect his wife Jane and stop Rom, while Williams does his best to keep up and help Tarzan when he can. The scene were Williams takes a leap of faith into the trees from a great height is a little naff as he plummets on to a log unscathed (Hardly First Blood)

“The Legend of Tarzan” updates the character and establishes who he is while giving us a fresh story with a great supporting cast that was let down at times with the characters being a bit unbelievable.

I wasn’t really sure why Samuel L. Jackson’s character was in the film, other than to set Tarzan on his merry way back to his spiritual home he never served a purpose other than to keep Tarzan company.

Jane Clayton played by on form Robbie had her moments but on the whole was really just leverage for Rom against Tarzan.

Christoph Waltz played the villain (as he does) well even if the character was a little unbelievable.

Visually at times I felt the movie let it’s self down with some of the CGI. Don’t get me wrong the effects aren’t appalling and at no point take you out of the movie. Just sometimes especially with the animals you can “just tell”

I give the makers and the writers credit for trying a different spin on the character and story whilst keeping the origins of the legend intact but the plot is a little over the place at times with flash backs (at one point I wasn’t sure if I was in the present day or a flash back) but if you like Tarzan I would give it a go. This movie burner is in no hurry to revisit jungle anytime soon…a bit like John Clayton III at the start of the movie.