Tag Archives: Armie Hammer

Free Fire (2016) Movie Review by Darrin Gauthier

FREE FIRE

Director: Ben Wheatley
Writers: Amy Jump (screenplay by), Ben Wheatley (screenplay by)
Stars: Sharlto Copley, Brie Larson, Armie Hammer

Plot:  Set in Boston in 1978, a meeting in a deserted warehouse between two gangs turns into a shootout and a game of survival.

Running Time: 91 minutes
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics 67%    Audience 54%
Why I watched it: Mostly the cast.

Thoughts: Ben Wheatley is a different director he bounces from genre to genre and a lot of the times his stuff is a tad pretentious but here he goes for a straight crime shoot’em’up.

What I liked: The set up is good, they do a nice job of giving us a glimpse of each character and then set the plot in motion.

This is a very good cast for this type of film my two favourites were Sharlto Copley who’s way over the top but his timing is so good you have to laugh at him, he fleshes out a stock character by making him weird and humorous. I also liked Armie Hammer, with a full beard and not playing his stock pretty boy, he’s very entertaining and I think gave the best performance.  Some of his asides are very fun and break up the non stop shooting and swearing, he’s actually trying to think his way through this.

I’ll give them credit this is basically one set and this is about a 40-50 minutes shoot out, they do ring tension and humour out of the situation.

What I didn’t like: I’ll be honest when I read the plot description I didn’t realise this was set in Boston and really there was no reason to have it set in 1978 except for the fact they wanted no cell phones maybe.

I really think they wasted Cillian Murphy here, he’s a very good actor and one of my personal favourites and really he has nothing to do and his character is one note and I’ll be honest I didn’t learn a thing about him, very bland character.  Brie Larson didn’t work in this at all, and actually she stands out like a sore thumb and not because she was the only women but she seem to be in a different movie, she’s cold and detached and that’s hard to be when bullets are flying everywhere.  Her character is even more bland than Murphy’s, her only thing is that she’s a women, nothing else.  She didn’t add or bring anything to the character she reacted that’s it.

Even though the film is 91 minutes, it drags and really by the 70 minute mark I stopped caring,  they didn’t throw anything new to spice up the end, this was just one big fire fight in an old factory that’s it and it did have some style but it ran out of steam and also we weren’t routing for anyone.  I didn’t care you lived or died and to that point I really didn’t care for the ending.

Final Thoughts: Decent short film idea stretched to feature film length.  It was directed well and had some good performances but mainly forgettable.

Rating: 5/10

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The Man From Uncle (2015) Movie Review by Darrin Gauthier

THE MAN FROM UNCLE

Director: Guy Ritchie
Writers: Guy Ritchie (screenplay), Lionel Wigram (screenplay)
Stars: Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer, Alicia Vikander

Plot: In the early 1960s, CIA agent Napoleon Solo and KGB operative Illya Kuryakin participate in a joint mission against a mysterious criminal organization, which is working to proliferate nuclear weapons.

Running Time: 1 hour 56 minutes

Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics 66% Audience 73%

Why I Watched it: I had watched the TV on reruns as a kid, my mother was a big fan, it was a pretty good show so I knew the source materiel, I will say I was worried about Guy Ritchie directing it.

Thoughts: I will say I’m always a little worried when they make a movie out of an older show, The Man From Uncle is from the 60′s a much different time and even though they were doing it in the time period I was afraid they change the characters and try to make it more modern cause let’s be honest the kids don’t know this show. Also being a fan of the show I had a bias watching a new movie with old characters.

What I liked: The first thing is that Guy Ritchie did a good job not turning it into a big loud slick Guy Ritchie movie, it is slick and pretty well directed but he did stay pretty true to the source material.

I liked the look and I liked that it was a period piece, they didn’t try to convert the show to the modern time, the best part for me was Henry Cavill he was not only very slick and cool but I liked his take on the character, he took things in stride, he wasn’t yelling and screaming and he wasn’t trying to macho it up too much, he was a thinking man’s spy and a criminal. He did have chemistry with Armie Hammer, of course this was the beginning of the partnership so of course they had to be at odds. It was also good to see that Alicia Vikander had a somewhat fleshed out character and that she wasn’t just playing the love interest. I also liked Elizabeth Debicki, I liked her look and acting someone to watch for. I did like that Vikander was the love interest for Hammer and not Cavill.

The plot was fine, these kind of movies have to have something to do and the story was decent enough, they had stakes, they had to work together. What I liked most about the film was the tone, this was a tough back film for me, some people call it slight but I liked the slick and fun films where the actors got to have fun, look good and be witty. It was somewhat of a light tone but that’s what the show was, and if the movie nailed anything almost perfect it was the tone and look.

There was a couple of nice bits, one was Hammer and Cavill arguing over women’s fashion and there’s a really cool bit with Cavill being drugged, realising it but also knowing there isn’t anything to do about it so he’s talking and also getting a pillow and a place to lay down so when he falls he won’t hurt himself, very cool.

What I didn’t like: They changed the characters especially Illya Kuryakin, they also changed Solo has well don’t recall him being a thief in the series. If there was a flaw in the film it was casting Hammer he’s fine a decent to good actor but playing a Russian not his strong suit and he did stick out, I think they should have gone more rugged with that character to balance out Solo. The film was also a tad long at almost 2 hours, it did drag a bit and I also wished they would have made this a more stand alone as clearly this was suppose to be set up for another film.

Final Thoughts: I liked it, it was a change of pace for me something lighter and more breezy, it made me smile a few times and overall enjoyed watching it.

Rating: 7/10

Free Fire (2016) Movie Review by John Walsh

FREE FIRE

Director: Ben Wheatley
Writers: Amy Jump (screenplay), Ben Wheatley (screenplay)
Stars: Sharlto Copley, Brie Larson, Armie Hammer, Cillian Murphy, Michael Smiley

Lacking a little in the story/plot department (there’s none to speak of), but more than making up for it with a cast bursting at the metaphorical seams with chemistry and also an enjoyable, relentless, maniacal theme of needless violence throughout. Ben Wheatley has directed easily one of my favourite films of the year so far with Free Fire.

As I mentioned it lacks majorly in terms of the story, the premise and development throughout are incredibly simple, but it somehow works and it’s a fun, enjoyable, hour and a half ride of pure escapism. It’s set in the 1970s, within the confines of a Boston warehouse, as two opposing groups meet for a botched arms deal. One side, consisting of IRA hard men, headed up by Chris and Frank (Cillian Murphy and Michael Smiley); and the other, a neurotic Rhodesian once mistaken for a child genius, his ex-Black Panther associate and a menacing hitman (actually can’t recall what he was?). The latter three going by the names Vernon, Martin and Ord respectively (Sharlto Copley, Babou Ceesay and Armie Hammer). Acting as go between of sorts and the architect behind the meeting is Justine (Brie Larsen).

The tension builds almost immediately as the Irish await a couple of their underlings arriving, before meeting with Ord, who’s obnoxious and dismissive taunting tone does nothing to alleviate matters. And it’s said underlings that act as the catalyst for the mayhem that ensues. Vernon, you see, is a bit of dodgy git and heightens the tension by trying to hoodwink the Irish, selling them the wrong guns and seemingly getting away with it too. Unfortunately for him though, underlings Stevo (Sam Riley) and Harry (Jack Reynor) come to blows after a freak double crossing of paths, the former glassing Harry’s young cousin the night before. When shots are then fired, the entire deal goes south and the warehouse soon turns into a war zone, the events literally playing out in slow-motion at one point to weirdly humorous effect.

At this point any notion of a plot goes out the window, the main objective appearing to be who’s claiming the briefcase packed with cash that’s dropped in no man’s land between the two warring parties. Vernon in particular can be heard repeatedly screaming about it in his almost humorously, high pitched, South African accent. Later he’s heard telling Ord, without a hint of irony, “What the fuck is wrong with you? How can you think about money in a time like this?”. To make matters worse, there’s a rat in their midst and a third party soon turns up in the form of a sniper, taking pot shots at the exposed bodies on the floor. This chaotic shootout continues on for what seems like the entire running time, with some intermittent ceasefires dotted throughout, and it was incredibly entertaining for a reason I can’t really put my finger on. Maybe it was just the mindlessness of it all.

The dialogue between the characters was a massive plus for this film. It was witty, realistic and hilarious at times as insults were hurled around and retorts quickly sent flying back. My favourite of these was perhaps Frank’s cracker to Ord, “Save it for your fucking autobiography”. The timing was absolutely perfect and the little laugh that rang out after only added to it. There was so many though that it’s honestly difficult to choose. There was also a cool use of background sound in this film and I’m not totally sure if this was done deliberately or not. But there was numerous times were characters could be heard continuing their conversations off camera, as attention turned away from them and this was also evident during the wild cross fire in the extended middle act. An example of this being the aforementioned screams about the briefcase from Vernon. It was a subtle little thing I noticed and liked it.

Another hugely enjoyable aspect was the real ensemble performance from the cast. As I mentioned before, I thought there was bucket loads of chemistry between them all and the combination of this and the well written dialogue made it a joy to watch. Cillian Murphy, Brie Larsen, Armie Hammer and Sharlto Copley were all excellent here as they went to town on each other. Larsen in particular with her flip flopping between sides and then eventual turn to lone wolf. Whilst the grudge match between Sam Riley and Jack Reynor’s characters that threaded it’s way throughout the story to a fitting conclusion was equally brilliant. I’ve left a few names out, but there honestly wasn’t one actor from the main core of characters that was poor in this. It really did remind me of a Tarantino film in a lot of ways, with the excellent dialogue, music at times and manner in which side characters were given relevance.

This film really should be enjoyed with as little spoilers as possible, so I’ll not prattle on any more with that in mind. There’s not much more I can say other than watch this bloody film. It’s entertaining and worth giving up an hour and half of your time to see.

Mine (2016) Movie Review by John Walsh

MINE

Directors: Fabio Guaglione, Fabio Resinaro
Writers: Fabio Guaglione (screenplay), Fabio Resinaro (screenplay)
Stars: Armie Hammer, Annabelle Wallis, Tom Cullen

Fabio Guaglione and Fabio Resinaro have given us something of a mixed bag in their new psychological thriller Mine. It follows the trials and tribulations of Mike (Armie Hammer); a soldier tasked with assassinating the leader of a terrorist cell. Things don’t quite as they were planned, forcing him to face the harsh reality of both his inner demons and the arid landscape that surrounds him.

The film opens right in the midst of Mike and fellow soldier come best friend Tommy’s (Tom Cullen) covert mission. The pair are seen laying low, awaiting on their target arriving, high up on a rocky plateau, whilst overlooking the desert below. It doesn’t take long for the action to heat up, with two very different parties meeting for what appears to be an impromptu wedding. One of them, a ragtag group of civilians, arriving at the rendezvous point on foot, whilst the other arrives from the opposite direction in a series of vehicles, just about every one of them armed to the teeth. Mike, a sniper, has been tasked with assassinating the leader of the terrorist cell, but when the moment arrives, he just can’t seem to pull the trigger as his target shares a tender moment with his new bride. This moment of weakness proves to be a rather bad decision by Mike, but considering they were badly outnumbered, I doubt shooting the man would’ve changed much.

Soon after their cover is blown, alerting the small band of heavily armed men below, when Mike’s rifle glints in the blinding sunlight after he puts it down in frustration at his failure to take the shot. A quick chase scene plays out as the two soldiers hastily retreat down from the plateau, with Tommy smashing his GPS device after the pair are forced to jump from a rocky ravine. This proves to be a killer blow to their hopes of a quick escape and the catalyst for what’s to come afterwards. Just when they appear to be surrounded, Mike’s quick thinking provides a much needed distraction before a massive, approaching, sand storm scares their pursuers off and engulfs them as they attempt to head to a new extraction point. Mike spots a couple of lonely looking figures making their way across the desert during the wild storm and they use them as a directional aid, before the film unsubtly hints at the fate awaiting them with a metal mine warning sign blowing off into the storm. When the storm clears, the two make their way out across the desert again in the middle of the energy zapping, afternoon heat towards what they hope is the locals village.

This short moment of relative calm allows the two men a degree of respite as Tommy discusses his life back home and family. Then a rather unlikely and highly convenient moment occurs. The metal sign from earlier lands right at Mike’s feet, which of course causes him to tread just a little more carefully, especially when he mentions that 33 million mines (surely a little on the high side?) have been buried in the area during the war. Tommy, who’s just been discussing phoning his young four year old son and the prospects of tucking into a granita is having none of his friends new found caution and is in no mood for turning back to almost certainly die of thirst. This leads us directly into the next scene where, after being re-energised with a drink of water, he walks backwards with idiotic bravado, and rather predictably, right into a mine. Mike in shock at what’s just transpired, appears to step on a mine himself, naturally causing him to freeze, rendering him utterly helpless and forcing him to become a witness to his gravely injured friends suicide.

What follows is a surprisingly riveting hour of entertainment as we watch Mike, stranded in the same position, struggle to survive alone in the harsh desert climate, braving the searing heat during the day and the equally bone chilling cold under darkness. Unable to move an inch for fear of the unexploded mine detonating, Mike meets an interesting local that quickly assumes the name Berber (Clint Dyer); who on his numerous, zig-zagging visits to the minefield, switches from gloating about the situation to providing amateur philosophy in equal measures. He also has to cope with a couple of nightly visits from a group of particularly ravenous wild dogs that are intent on ripping him to shreds; a massive sand storm that threatens to knock him off balance; several bouts of psychosis like hallucinations from his troubled past induced from severe dehydration and sleep deprivation; and towards the end, he even has to face an onslaught of gunfire, as enemy soldiers discover his position and move in for the kill.

I have to say it wasn’t a film full to the brim with incredible performances by any means, but a degree of credit must be given to Armie Hammer who put in a very good showing as Mike. He effectively carried the film for the overwhelming majority of the running time, which I’d reckon from about half an hour in essentially became something of a one man show, as his character battled increasingly difficult physical and mental hardship in the isolation of the desert. Clint Dyer was impressive too as the cheeky, enigma that was Berber. He drifted in and out of the story, but added an interesting element nonetheless. Whilst Tom Cullen did ok in the earlier moments as Tommy, I didn’t feel like the film gave the character anywhere near enough time to be developed before unceremoniously killing him off. The death was a little strange too, though probably necessary, it has to be said. I mean, fair enough, he probably would’ve bled out eventually, as Mike couldn’t move, but he literally went from discussing his young son one minute to shooting himself in the head the next. It felt a little rushed to me, but hey ho.

I have to say I was pretty impressed with some of the visuals at times. There was some pretty haunting wide shots of Mike alone in the desert that really helped to emphasise the precariousness of his situation. The approaching sand storms looked ominously realistic and the claustrophobic darkness during his night time encounters with the dogs was very well visualised and helped crank up the tension. I’d love to talk about the score, but I honestly can’t remember it. That would mean it was either nonexistent, fairly rubbish and unmemorable or I’ve developed temporary amnesia an forgotten it’s brilliance.

Would I recommend it? Yeah, I probably would. It’s not the greatest film, but it does a decent job of keeping you entertained throughout, which considering it’s about a guy who kneels in the same position for an hour is pretty impressive. It does begin to lag a little in the final act and I could see some getting bored with it, but I stuck with it and the twist towards the end was pretty neat.