Tag Archives: Chris Pine

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018) Movie Review By Stephen McLaughlin

Spider-Man Into the Spider- Verse

Directors: Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey
Writers: Phil Lord (screenplay by), Rodney Rothman (screenplay by)
Stars: Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, Hailee Steinfeld, Mahershala Ali, Zoë Kravitz, Lily Tomlin, Nicolas Cage, Liev Schreiber, Chris Pine, Kathryn Hahn

Where do I begin reviewing this Marvel (pardon the pun) without sounding like a total sycophant. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse not only took me by surprise but knocked me for six with its stylishly stunning animation, taking a combination of 2-D and 3-D effects to create a modern masterpiece. Am I coming on too strong? Well I don’t care. Using the largest collection of animators for a Sony Pictures Animation project (somewhere in the region of 180 individuals) The technical aspects of this film is half of what makes this film a ten on ten (I don’t normally rate films in this fashion) and the other half being a combination of great characters and a strong storyline. A combination of various “Spider” superheroes an hour in really surprised me and knocked me off my stride for a few moments before appreciating how the filmmakers managed to create these different styles but somehow make them fit into this film. Sounds crazy right?

Miles Morales becomes the Spider-Man of his reality and meets his counterparts from other dimensions to stop a threat to all reality. I have known about Morales for a number of years now and when it was announced that the character was finally appearing in a cinematic release, it was music to my ears. My brother Kevan introduced me to this character a while ago and it intrigued me on how the character would be accepted and received by the Spider-Man traditionalists. Fear not.

Spider-Man Noir, Peni Parker and Spider-Ham with all of their different perspectives shouldn’t work on paper but thank the maker for Spider-Ham. The MCU for many years now has mastered the right of humour in the darkest of places to perfection. Well here Spider-Ham is to an extent the “Comic Relief” in this film. That’s not to say the character is two dimensional, he has done heart warming scenes also. Peni Parker is a welcome addition that I liked. The Anime style gives the character a real bubbly feel and is the mirror opposite of Spider-Man Noir. The character wouldn’t be out of place in Watchmen. In fact, Noir reminded me of the incarnation of DC’s Batman character in Gotham By Gaslight and was clearly a hero from yesteryear.

Peter Parker on the other hand surprised me. It’s crazy saying this due to the film being an animation but the character doesn’t waste any screen time. Parker is flawed in many ways mentally and physically (check the gut on him) he still has those loveable characteristics that make you route for him and this film reminds you of this.

The cast is amazing. Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, Hailee Steinfeld, Mahershala Ali, Zoë Kravitz, Lily Tomlin, Nicolas Cage, Liev Schreiber, Chris Pine, and Kathryn Hahn all play their part. At no point do you pinpoint the voices to the ensemble of talent. Their audio participation just threads through the fabric with ease.

Overall Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse is a new take on a classic character. The introduction to Miles Morales will surely have been a tie dipping exercise for the studio testing the water with their fan base. They need not to have worried as Miles is a great interpretation of a character we all ready know but want to know more about this kid and how he will deal with “with great power, comes great responsibility” I really hope they go one further with a live action film in the next few years. Technically a masterpiece and a storyline on par with the visuals means I can’t recommend this enough. A must see!

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Outlaw King (2018) Movie Review By John Walsh

Outlaw King

Director: David Mackenzie
Writers: Bathsheba Doran (screenplay by) (as Bash Doran), David Mackenzie (screenplay by)
Stars: Chris Pine, Stephen Dillane, Rebecca Robin 

Has there been a more wronged man in the history of film than King Robert the Bruce? If there is then I’m oblivious to their identity. In fairness, I only know of one film featuring the legendary Scottish figure, that being the equal parts loved and maligned, historically inaccurate, Braveheart from 1995. There was undoubtedly some rousing moments within the Mel Gibson blockbuster that technically could serve as a prequel to Outlaw King, but it heavily romanticised the period and unforgivingly butchered the name of the Bruce.

He wasn’t a calculating, traitorous, coward that flip flopped muddy, medieval battlefields in English or Scottish regalia depending on his mood. No, in actual fact, it was Robert that was termed ‘Braveheart’ and it’s this particular inaccuracy that David McKenzie sets out to correct. 

The romanticism that was abundant in Braveheart has been ditched for the blunt, brutal, viscerally violent reality of 14th century Scotland. There’s not a handkerchief in sight, nor any fictitious French ladies sent north in English convoys. The Outlaw King is, in the main, a faithful recreation of the events that led to the controversial coronation of Robert and the ensuing eight year war of independence with England that followed. Is there some artistic license used, including Edward II appearing for a sword duel in a battle he was never present at? Yes, but a degree of karma is required for non-history buffs, looking for the villain of the piece to get his just desserts. 

The film picks up with the lords of Scotland each pledging fealty to Edward I (Stephen Dillane), in return for titles and land. Aside from the opening 5-10 minutes, which features a cool continuous shot, the film chops around furiously, racing to the point where Elizabeth Burgh (Florence Pugh) is married to the future king, Robert the Bruce Snr (James Cosmo) dies, William Wallace is betrayed and a quartered body part is sent northward for an enraged Bruce jnr to witness. When the story resettles permanently upon Robert, his primary purpose of rounding up support for a war against the English is brought firmly into focus. 

The story itself primarily flips perspectives between Robert, his band of followers and Edward II (Billy Howle). The former goes through an emotional wringer of a journey that takes him up and down the length of the country. His first brush with the Earl of Pembroke’s (Sam Spruell), English forces ending with a cowardly, night time ambush that sends him northward to Islay to regroup. The infamous murder of John Comyn III that set him on the path to be King of Scots also left him with many an enemy in his homeland with the enraged clans looking for every opportunity to stab him in the back, a fact shown almost immediately afterwards. 

Edward II meanwhile has his eyes on emulating his tyrannical father, who was titled the hammer of Scots and historically was a thorn in the side of the nation. Sadly, Stephen Dillane settles for a backseat role in the film, with old age and dysentery hamstringing his character, effectively handing the role of antagonist over to his son. The trouble is, the younger Edward was incompetent, a point that was perfectly portrayed by Mckenzie. He flung his weight around, was a bit of a bastard, but gave me Theon Greyjoy vibes and despite his misplaced bravado, he never truly convinced as a fitting antagonist or felt like a real threat. 

I’ve seen this film described as an overly long, drag by some critics, presumably from the States or outside Scotland. I didn’t think that was the case at all. It seems pretty clear to me that they were expecting something different, perhaps a bigger, more bombastic epic, with huge, sprawling battles, akin to that seen in Braveheart. It was never going to be that kind of film. It focused on the Bruce during the formative years of the post-Wallace independence wars, when he was still learning to adapt into the infamous guerrilla warfare that would come to personify his battle against the infinitely stronger forces from south of the border. 

I actually enjoyed the pacing, the side ventures off to Islay with Angus Og MacDonald (Tony Curran), the re-taking of Kildrummy Castle, the relationship and romance between Elizabeth Burgh (Florence Pugh) and Robert, the extended redemption arc of James Douglas (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and even the growing impatience of Edward at his sons increasingly forlorn attempts at stemming the uprising.

They married in organically with the main arc, showing the trouble they had in gaining support from the clans, the stark difference between the warring ‘monarchies’ and it allowed me to connect on different levels with the more prominent side players. Douglas in particular was a firm favourite. He was charismatic, funny, absolutely stone mad and he had a highly memorable and violent return to Douglas Castle. Intriguingly, the latter is amongst just a handful of sporadic fights that occur before the climatic Loudoun Hill battle. I recall four in total, off the top of my head, but they’re handled well and they pack a punch. 

Chris Pine worried me going in because the Scottish accent is very difficult to do correctly, especially in a cast full to the brim with actual Scots. I’m pleased to say that his accent was actually decent however.  He didn’t go full Scotty, it was understated and it didn’t take me out the film. His acting ability is undeniable and he combined beautifully with McKenzie before in Hell or High Water, one of my favourite films from 2016 and he’s very good again here. There was times when he didn’t even have to open his mouth to convey the sorrow or rage within and thankfully he passed on the blue face paint. 

The other standouts for me were Tony Curran, Aaron-Taylor Johnson and Florence Pugh. They all brought some different to the table, injecting necessary energy and personality into the story. Angus was the level headed ying to Douglas’ loose cannon yang, whilst Elizabeth had by far the greatest transformation from the young, mellow and innocent figure, into the bold and courageous lady that was standing up to Edward II when an easy get out was dangled in front of her. 

The dialogue was great too, another feature of McKenzie’s films that I’ve enjoyed. It was organic, punchy, funny in the right spots and stirring in others. From Edward’s clever put downs, Angus’ wife’s funny berating to James Douglas screaming “what’s my fucking name?” to Robert giving a short and sweet pre-climatic battle speech. Speaking of which, the battle was very enjoyable, if not quite historically accurate. I particularly enjoyed the ingenuity of using the land against the cavalry heavy, English invaders. It flowed well and was a fitting conclusion to the film.

I can’t round this review up without giving mention to the stunning cinematography. Scotland is a stunning country, with epic scenery. Barry Ackroyd is immensely talented and he captured the beautiful blue seas off the coast of Islay, the rolling valleys of the highlands and the violence of medieval warfare perfectly. The set design was immaculate too, though sadly, the score rather unmemorable. 

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed Outlaw King. I’ve been fascinated with the figures of Robert the Bruce and William Wallace since I was young and it’s truly fantastic to see David McKenzie exploring the history of a cinematically, misrepresented, Scottish hero. The fact it was filmed exclusively in Scotland, primarily around Stirling is an added bonus and I can only hope it inspires a new generation to become as equally interested in the period. It has some little inaccuracies, but is well directed by a man clearly passionate about the subject, it features a large and excellent cast across the board, bolstered by three or four standout performers. 

Rating: 4/5

Wonder Woman (2017) Movie Review by Darrin Gauthier

Wonder Woman

Director: Patty Jenkins
Writers: Allan Heinberg (screenplay by), Zack Snyder (story by)
Stars: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Robin Wright

Plot:  When a pilot crashes and tells of conflict in the outside world, Diana, an Amazonian warrior in training, leaves home to fight a war, discovering her full powers and true destiny.
Running Time: 2 hours 21 Minutes
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics  92%   Audience  88%

Why I Watched it: I can thank itunes for putting this on for .99 cents cause I’m not the biggest DC fan but I gave it a go.

Random Thoughts: So many critics bring up in their review about how this was directed about a women and being about a woman super hero and I think that’s great but it doesn’t make it a great movie because of that, I don’t care who directed it, man, women, what nation their from just direct a good movie, now I would love to see more woman directors get a chance at doing blockbuster movies but I can’t judge them till they do it.

What I liked: Speaking of the director Patty Jenkins I think she did a great job in two areas, one she isn’t known for directing action films and she shot the crap out of this, some of the best part of the film is the action, very well done and she also tried for the most part to get away from DC’s style over substance MO and yes there’s still too many slow motion shots but I thought it was shot very well.
I wasn’t sold on the casting of Gal Gadot but she’s very good here and she can strike that Super Hero pose like nobodies business and it helps that she’s very likable.  It’s her movie and she carried it well one of the reasons the film works so well is she wears this character very well and everything fits with her.  I also really liked Chris Pine, I say that cause I don’t usually like him to me he’s more smug than charming but here he finds a chemistry with Gadot and he’s comfortable with being the second lead and that’s tough for an actor who’s the lead in his own franchise.  The character had an arc and he wasn’t just thrown in as a romantic sub-plot.
One of the things that usually bug me about comic/super hero movies is the origin part and what hit me was we haven’t really seen Wonder Woman’s origin story told on the big screen. It worked for me gave her a decent set up.  The other thing with the film is that it looked great and sounded great, so hats off to the tech departments cause they hit it out of the park.

What I didn’t like: The whole Gods stuff kind of bothers me, I have to say I find it hard to cheer for a God, it’s what always bothered me about Thor, not that relateable  and also the whole fish out of water stuff just doesn’t ring true, Wonder Women says she’s study people and knows about men and women being together but when she goes into the world she doesn’t know why couples hold hands. As much as I liked the cast I have to say the casting of Danny Huston and David Thewlis was really lazy casting, heck Huston has played the same role in the X-Men franchise and really he brings nothing to the part at all, I like Thewlis and I won’t spoil his role but once you see it’s him you know and that’s half way through the movie.  They should have either casted against type or went with lesser known actors.
Here’s my pet peeve the film is too long at close to two and half hours, bottom line the film does drag and also they have all this time and instead of telling us where Wonder Women is from and how it’s been hide for this long and also how a pilot could crash right in their river/lake/ocean doesn’t make sense and it’s not explained instead they waste a could 15-20 minute battle that we have seen countless times and is boring, oh look Gods are fighting, yawn.  The film does some things really well and tries to break the mold a bit but then falls back on a very well worn cliche for their finish.

Final Thoughts: It’s a good looking film, and I really liked parts of it, very watchable and one of the better DC movies period.  Wonder Women did it’s job by setting up the character and giving her a voice.

Rating: 7/10

Star Trek: Beyond (2016) Movie Review By Darrin Gauthier

STAR TREK BEYOND

Director: Justin Lin
Writers: Simon Pegg, Doug Jung
Stars: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban

Plot:  The U.S.S. Enterprise crew explores the furthest reaches of uncharted space, where they encounter a new ruthless enemy, who puts them, and everything the Federation stands for, to the test.
Running Time: 2 hours 2 minutes
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics 84%    Audience  80%

Why I watched it: I dragged my feet on this one, I’ve seen all the ‪Star Trek‬ movies but Into Darkness bummed me out and I didn’t have the desire to rush to see the new one.

Thoughts: This ‪Star Trek‬ franchise is a strange duck, they want to be different, different time lines and realities but they also want to keep some of the old chestnuts that made the original so loved.  I liked the first one but Into Darkness was not good, I didn’t even get through it and that’s saying something since I’ve watched all the ‪Star Trek‬ movies.  They lost the tone and it was something they needed to get back cause they lost the heart of Star Trek.

What I liked: They got the tone and heart back for the most part.  This felt like a ‪Star Trek‬ movie and I credit the screenplay and director Justin Lin for turning it around.  It’s not perfect but it did hit what Star Trek should be and it’s the best of the three for me.  They felt sure of themselves this time and the actors have a grip on their roles, for the most part it’s their’s now.

I really liked the scope and the look of the film.  This is a nice looking film and all the technical stuff is very good.  Also the stakes are high here and there’s real tension.  They got a very good villain played by Idris Elba, here’s a very bad dude and scary.  I also liked the addition of Sofia Boutella, it’s hard to add someone knew to Star Trek cause you already have some many characters but she stands out as a different character, liked her look and they why her arc played out.

The main cast is solid, Cho and Saldana get short changed as neither had much to do.  Pine seems comfortable now and he’s grown up a bit in this role, he’s a steady influence now.  Urban is underrated MVP or the glue that keeps things together as it’s too bad Spock and Kirk don’t have a lot to do together but Urban as Bones is that bridge to both characters. My favorite part of the film is the early attack that sets everything up, it’s done very well, the stakes felt high and it was very well shot.

What I didn’t Like: I liked the villain and I like Idris Elba but sticking him in that much make up is just mean, not only is he an attractive actor but he’s very charismatic and this role didn’t showcase that, now we dos see him out of makeup but I will say it was off putting.  Also how his character change physically is not explained.
Now the most off putting thing about Into Darkness was the heavy political overtones now here it’snot as bad but still they tend to beat us over the head with their views, a lighter touch would be better. I still think there’s room to go deeper with the main characters and I still think they’re just scratching the surface.  I would also like to see them not rely so much on the older series, they need a stamp for this franchise and they haven’t found it yet.

Final Thoughts: I was almost giving up on the franchise but now I hope they do more.  Also what to say I like how they did Ambassador Spock, it was a nice moment for him.

Rating: 7/10

Wonder Woman (2017) Movie Review by John Walsh

Wonder Woman Review

Director: Patty Jenkins
Writers: Allan Heinberg (screenplay), Zack Snyder (story by)
Stars: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Robin Wright

Warner Bros and DC have had a tough time in recent years trying to emulate the success of comic rivals Marvel in their continued attempts at growing a successful, cinematic universe. Man of Steel was a very decent film, but the subsequent releases of Suicide Squad and Batman vs Superman had failed to hit the heights, leading to an onslaught of criticism for both DC and the studio. This certainly hasn’t been helped by the amateurish indecision and confusion often displayed by the latter.

But I digress, this isn’t yet another DC bash fest. It’s easy to do that and it’s certainly the ‘in’ thing at the moment. Personally, I love DC and the plethora of fantastic characters and stories they have at their disposal. I want to see them get to grips and build momentum with their cinematic universe and they’ve certainly got some fairly promising releases coming up. The first of these new batch of films is Patty Jenkins Wonder Woman. Now, I’m going to admit that I wasn’t overly excited for this film (for the same reasons I’m not that excited for the Han Solo standalone) and watched it with some slight trepidation. I’m happy to say that it proved me wrong. Admittedly, it’s story wasn’t the strongest I’ve seen and there was some minor niggles in there, but I thought it was a well cast, taut and pacy affair.

It begins in Themyscira, the Amazon island home to Diana (Gal Gadot) and her female dominated group of fierce warriors, magically hidden from the outside world. It’s 1918 or at least it is when the film finally kicks into action following an enjoyable, short and intriguing training montage come backstory. Incidentally, I’ve seen quite a few people bash this segment of the film, but I thought they got it just right. It tells of Diana’s rise to demi-god warrior status, whilst also highlighting the plight of the Amazonian’s in their previous battle with Ares. That last part coming in the form of a neat moving, little painting montage of sorts. Yeah ok, it was maybe slightly rushed, there was some inconsistencies like the defiance of Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen) and then her sudden change of heart on the training issue. In short, they could’ve delved more deeply into it, but this film is quick paced and they did what was necessary.

Diana’s idyllic existence on Themyscira comes to an end almost immediately after a final training battle with her Aunt, General Antione (Robin Wright), when a mysterious plane manages to break through the magical barrier before crashing into the water right in front of her. It’s almost like fate is calling her forth. This leads to a sudden intense battle between pursuing German soldiers and the Amazonian’s. The result of which (there’s a spoiler in there that I won’t give away) gives Diana the encouragement needed to step into her ‘Wonder Woman’ persona. The identity of the pilot is revealed afterwards as Captain Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), an American spy working for British intelligence who possesses a diary that could potentially save hundreds of thousands of lives. His harrowing insight into the horrors of WW1 and the deaths of innocents all but makes Diana’s mind up. She and Trevor make their way off the island with the reluctant blessing of the Queen and seek to save humanity.

The two make their way to London (very quickly, too quickly) where they meet stony resistance from the British intelligence services and military, even after warning of a new hydrogen based gas being developed by Doctor Poison (Elena Anaya) and General Ludendorff (Danny Huston), which could swing the war back in Germany’s favour and kill thousands before peace can be brokered. There’s some real good comedy moments in this part of the film that deserve a mention and I had a good chuckle at. Afterwards, Diana chastises said military leaders and Steve for their meek impetus on the matter, and the latter flustered, volunteers to take her to the front with a small group of others to bring the fight to both Poison and Ludendorff. This ragtag group, completed by a drunken (how original) Scotsman called Charlie (Ewen Bremner) and Sameer (Saïd Taghmaoui), a Moroccan secret agent, set out for German occupied Belgium together. They’re joined over there by Chief Napi (Eugene Brave Rock), a Native American (Lord knows why he’s there?) trader that’s in it for profit.

One of the areas where this film excels for me is in its development of Diana’s character into Wonder Woman. She leaves the insular society of Themyscira completely oblivious to the customs or norms of wider humanity and all the little naiveties and perplexed questioning which stem from this are perfectly portrayed by Gal Gadot. By the end of the film, she’s learnt a great deal, embraced love and empathy fully and is very much transformed into Wonder Woman. She’s not the greatest actress, but she does a great job and despite concerns she looked perfect for the role. Alongside her in this origin journey is Trevor played by a fantastic Chris Pine. This guy is on fire at the minute and he’s one of my favourite things about this film. There’s an argument to be made for him perhaps overshadowing Wonder Woman at certain points and stealing her glory, but I don’t really buy into this. I thought the two played off each other beautifully and had great chemistry together.

It wasn’t all positive though, I did have some niggles. Firstly, the fractured nature of the films villains. They could’ve picked one and stuck with it, but instead we get three and none of them are particularly memorable. Ludendorff seems to be the main villain for three quarters of the film whilst never actually doing anything. Doctor Poison hangs onto his coat tails, relying on a face prosthetic and social awkwardness to look ominous. Then there’s a twist at the very end which reveals the true Ares. This seemed unnecessary and a hastily added way for them to have a final show off for Wonder Woman against an opponent that would provide an actual challenge. The second niggle is a pet hate of mine and that’s actors speaking with corny accents in English dialogue. This film is littered with this especially in German scenes. What made this all the more grating was that they had Diana speak in proper foreign language. Why? Thirdly, the overuse of slow-mo in fight scenes. It was better than King Arthur’s terrible attempts, but still way overused.

Visually, I thought the movie was stunning. There were some dodgy points, especially in the finale, but it was mostly superb. The early parts in Themyscira were beautiful, as were the trenches/no mans land and the early 20th century London looked authentic. I also loved the period costumes, especially Pine’s gear. That coat deserved a mention in the credits it was that good. I wasn’t too impressed with the soundtrack however. It just didn’t strike a chord with me for whatever reason and for the most part it was unmemorable.

Overall, I loved this film. A Wonder Woman film has been a long time in the making and, whilst it’s not my favourite character of all time, I can understand the importance of getting a strong female superhero out there. Was it perfect? Hell no. It didn’t need to be though. To quote the haggard gimp of a prime minister we have, it just had to be ‘strong and stable’. It was that and some. Patty Jenkins did a great job marrying comedy and action together to produce a highly enjoyable film. Special mentions to David Thewlis and Etta Candy too, both of whom I failed to mention. The latter in particular provided lots of good comedy relief and was excellent. I just pray now that Justice League, the Flash and Aqua Man can continue in the same vain and that DC can start genuinely rivalling Marvel. Any road, this is well worth a watch for anybody into this genre.

Rating: 3.5/5

 

Hell or High Water (2016) Movie Review by John Walsh

HELL OR HIGH WATER.png

Director: David Mackenzie
Writer: Taylor Sheridan
Stars: Dale Dickey, Ben Foster, Chris Pine

A classic cop and robbers tale with a modern twist. Hell or High Water is a pacy, and at times, highly absorbing, neo-western drama from talented Scottish director David Mackenzie. We follow the escapades of two brothers, reunited against the bank that’s threatening to foreclose their families oil rich farm. It’s a simplistic story, that packs a punch, questioning the morality of today’s society, the greed of banks and the human effect of the economic decline in south west Texas.

Very quickly, it becomes clear that the dialogue in this film is a star in and of itself. Nigh on every person with a speaking part has a way with words and a level of wit normally reserved for characters with chunkier roles more central to the main story. Following the first heist, one of the bank tellers is asked the question “Black or white?” by the investigating officer “Their skins or their souls?” is her response. An old man complains “This is crazy, ya’ll ain’t even Mexican” before cheekily responding to a question about having a gun. Even a disenfranchised cattle herder gets to have his say a short while later and does it was some panache. Bemoaning his antiquated profession and sympathising with his kids unwillingness to follow in his footsteps.

Chris Pine gives perhaps his best performance to date as the scruffy, unkempt looking Toby Howard. “I’ve been poor my whole life, till my parents and their parents before them. It’s like a disease, passing from generation to generation” we hear him say. He’s a man with a past and he’s looking to make amends. It’s for this sole reason that he enlists the help of his ex-con brother Tanner Howard (Ben Foster). They face a race against time to save the family property, which if successful, will provide Toby’s sons with the financial security he never had. It’s Pine’s character that devises the plan to rob the banks and he’s the brains behind the brawn of the older Tanner. Famed for his role as Captain Kirk, he couldn’t be more unrecognisable here.

It would be fair to say that the Howard brothers are not your typical bank robbers, only hitting the registers and stealing fairly low sums of money in each heist. They target the small, local branches of Texas Midlands Bank, spread out across the south west of the state in a deliberate attempt to remain under the radar of the FBI. They are successful in doing so and the chase is left to veteran Texas Ranger Marcus Hamilton (Jeff Bridges) and his stoical partner Alberto Parker (Gil Birmingham). “You may get to have some fun, before they send you off to the rocking chair just yet” we hear Alberto quip to Marcus as news of the heists break. Just weeks from retirement, the grizzled, wily, old veteran, with all the detective traits of a Colombo and the determination of a Harry Callaghan, is in no hurry to accept the quiet life. He sees a pattern in the robberies and persuades his long suffering partner Alberto to join him. Jeff Bridges incidentally, is able to slip into the character of Marcus with consummate ease. Not many are able to do the hardened, grizzly character better than Bridges and he manages to do so whilst providing plenty of wit and sardonic humour to boot.

Taylor Sheridan and David McKenzie really weave a beautiful story together here. Blurring the lines of morality as the movie goes on, the violence starts to increase and things begin to take a turn for the worse on both the perceived good and bad side of the line. His punchy dialogue really brings the film to life, adding an air of authenticity to the bonds of both the opposing pairs, with some cracking banter at times. Marcus continually jokes about his half Comanche partners heritage and Toby takes delight in telling his brother to “Drink up” after he complains about being given Mr. Pep instead of Dr. Pepper as “Only assholes drink Mr. Pep”.

As the film enters its final act the ‘leading quartet’ for want of a better word continue to share equal screen time and a fantastic synchronous scene plays out to the beautifully, melancholic lines of Gillian Welch’s ‘I’m Not Afraid to Die’. Toby and Tanner spend what could ultimately be their final day together, playfully fighting with each other, drinking beers whilst reminiscing and contemplating the day ahead. Meanwhile, Marcus and Alberto, likewise spend their the day and night staking out a potential heist target in almost abandoned town, that harkens back to the ghost towns of the old westerns. A special mention must be given to the visuals during this scene. They are stunning and amongst some of the best in the movie.

Speaking of visuals. Giles Nuttgens does an incredible job of making the south west Texas landscape every bit as much of a character as any of the stars in the film. The use of a predominantly beige, brownish, earthy palette and oversaturated image really helping to emphasis the harsh heat and dustiness of the arid landscape. Nick Cave and Warren Eillis’ score provides slow, contemplative piano and string arrangements with a healthy mixture of country rock ballads from the likes of Waylon Jennings and Townes Van Zandt interspersed between. The juxtaposition between the two creates a perfect balance that really adds some emotional depth to the story.