Tag Archives: Famke Janssen

Primal (2019) Movie Review By D.M. Anderson

Director: Nick Powell
Writer: Richard Leder
Stars: Nicolas Cage, Famke Janssen, Kevin Durand

National treasure Nicholas Cage squares-off against a deadly jungle cat and a vicious assassin on-board a cargo ship. Man, I don’t see how anyone could pass that up. It’s a concept as wonderfully ridiculous as Samuel L. Jackson battling snakes on a plane. Primal doesn’t milk its premise to the campy heights of that kitschy classic, but it’s a lot more fun than the average Nick Cage Movie of the Week.

Cage plays Frank Walsh, a grizzled, grumpy game hunter who traps wild animals to sell to zoos. His latest haul includes birds, angry monkeys, poisonous snakes and – his biggest prize – a rare white jaguar. Sharing the boat ride home, however, is rogue assassin Richard Loffler (Kevin Durand), who’s been captured by U.S. forces and being returned in chains to stand trial for his crimes. Naturally, he manages to escape and frees all the animals. So now it’s man vs. man and man vs. nature, with Loffler and the cat picking off the supporting cast one by one.

Primal has less actual animal action than I hoped. Not that the conflict involving Loffler isn’t enjoyable. Durand does a decent job playing your standard over-confident bad guy, but watching nature get even is a lot more entertaining, especially in an unusual setting. Still, the beasties manage to get-in their licks here and there. Those scenes are the goofiest, therefore the liveliest, even if the CGI-rendered jaguar is laughably unconvincing.

Cage attacks his role with his inimitable brand of gusto, tongue planted firmly in-cheek, which is always enjoyable. Less vital is Famke Janssen as Ellen Taylor. She plays a Navy doctor tasked with monitoring Loffler’s health, but mostly exists to bicker with Cage and place herself in peril. The remaining cast – including Michael Imperioli – are essentially cannon fodder (or cat food).

Well made on a relatively limited budget, Primal won’t win any Oscars, but it’s hardly Razzie-worthy, either. Fast-paced and enjoyably silly, this features Nick Cage in prime any-role-to-pay-off-my-debts mode. And that isn’t always a bad thing, especially once he breaks-out his trusty blowgun.

Primal (2019) Movie Review By Peter Pluymers

Primal Review

Director: Nick Powell
Writer: Richard Leder
Stars: Nicolas Cage, Famke Janssen, LaMonica Garrett

Films where animals mess with the protagonists’ life. There are a lot of those movies. Only recently you could see in “Crawl” how alligators tried to outwit a father and daughter with their immense mouths full of razor-sharp, meat-tearing teeth. In “A quiet place” there were creatures with such a developed hearing that they can locate any human sound and quickly go there to tear the source of the noise to pieces. Birds, dogs, cats, crocodiles, tarantulas, grizzly bears, monkeys, ants, snakes, and sharks. An entire segment of the animal kingdom has already been used. This movie “Primal” immediately reminded me of a movie I saw years ago. Namely “Burning Bright“. In this last film, too, it was a tiger chasing two innocent people. Only it took place in a kind of Pippi-Longstocking-house. In “Primal”, on the other hand, it’s a cargo ship that serves as a hunting ground. And Nicolas Cage is also present. Maybe that’s why it’s worthwhile to give this film a chance.

Nicolas Cage. Man, I admire this actor enormously. He’s a phenomenon. I’m sure he’s aiming to reach a specific goal in his life. And that’s being able to announce on his deathbed that he broke the world record of “Actor with most appearances in feature films“. The man (known for his phenomenal roles in “Leaving Las Vegas” and “Joe“) did his utmost best in recent years. Every year he appeared in no fewer than six films. Of course, they aren’t all masterpieces. But La Cage seems to have an enormous endurance. I think he accepts every offer he gets. Apparently, his love for acting is infinite.

The crucial question you can ask yourself is of course: “Is this movie worth watching or is it completely rubbish?“. Well, the truth is actually somewhere in the middle. When Frank Walsh (Nicolas Cage) embarks on board a container ship, together with a whole load of exotic animals, he soon notices that he’s not the only one with a unique, life-threatening specimen. Frank earns his living by catching exotic animals, which he then resells to the highest bidder. And the white jaguar (“white jag” as Frank repeatedly pronounces) is a lottery ticket for him. A million to one shot and the guarantee he’ll own some real estate in Pine Lake. And suddenly the American authorities show up with a highly dangerous mercenary (Kevin Durand) in chains, a battalion of soldiers armed to the teeth and a personal female doctor (Famke Janssen) to ensure that the mercenary survives the trip. It has something to do with a brain abnormality and atmospheric pressure. A side issue afterward. You can already guess what’s going to happen. Soon Frank realizes he has to use his hunting instincts to hunt both the white jaguar and the perilous Richard Loffler.

The film never really gets exciting. It looks more like a long version of playing “hide and seek”. The accompanying soldiers are systematically liquidated easily. That kind of looked ridiculous. Also, after a certain period, Dr. Ellen Taylor no longer had a real function. Famke Janssen restricts herself to some annoying protests about catching endangered species. She looks like a feministic environmental activist, who’s about to pull up a protest sign with slogans about animal rights. Even the jaguar only managed to convince in the opening scene. Afterward, the jaguar was nothing more than a sneaking shadow. Only the two characters Cage and Durand played, caused some excitement. Kevin Durand managed to play a psychopathic character convincingly. And Cage visibly had fun here. And to be honest, compared to “A score to settle“, “Kill Chain“, and “Running with the devil” (I shamelessly fell asleep while watching this last one), this Cage-B-film isn’t that bad. Are you a Nicolas Cage fan? Well, you can safely add it to your list of “Must See Cage-Movie”.

Asher (2018) Movie Review By Peter Pluymers

Asher Review

Director: Michael Caton-Jones
Writer: Jay Zaretsky (screenplay by)
Stars: Ron Perlman, Famke Janssen, Jacqueline Bisset

I just killed a man in the bathroom, and I’m afraid if we don’t leave right now, they’re gonna call the cops.

Hmm… So it’s true.

What’s that?

Men will say anything for sex.

A hitman who, by chance, encounters a lovely dance teacher and realises that it’s time to turn his back on his dangerous profession. And then he comes to the conclusion that it’s not so obvious to do that. Well, doesn’t it sound familiar to you? It’s a bit like “Polar“, the “John Wick” -like action thriller, but with considerably fewer action scenes. The way Asher (Ron Perlman) enjoys a carefully cooked meal and a glass of wine on his rooftop terrace while observing the nocturnal activities in the city, is a snapshot that perfectly reflects how the rest of the film feels. You’ll get that easy-going feeling the entire film. So don’t expect an impressive and magically choreographed action film.

The fact that one of the targets who Asher had to liquidate, drops dead because of a heart attack before Asher does anything, is telling. Not that the film is deadly boring. But it’s not energetic either.

In my opinion, Ron Perlman really was the most suitable person to play Asher. This impressive-looking actor with his characteristic facial features exudes a kind of calmness and is at the same time intimidating enough. Ron Perlman, better known as “Hellboy” but also known for his contributions to an infinite number of other films, delivers a suitable interpretation. Maybe his age has something to do with it. As a 70-year-old, he does not have to put a lot of effort into playing an almost retired killer. A grayish, tough guy who suddenly starts to notice that his shape is deteriorating. When the lovely Sophie (Famke Janssen) crosses his path, he suddenly realises that being lonely at an old age isn’t something he’s looking forward to. In any case, it’s a role that demands more than just brute force. And Perlman, who in my eyes looks very much like Thanos, knows perfectly how to keep the balance between the professional, experienced assassin and the old, somewhat gloomy man who realises that his career is over and that the younger generation will soon take over.

Famke Janssen, who immigrated from the Netherlands to the US and played in blockbusters such as “Taken” and “X-men“, isn’t playing her most impressive role here but still manages to portray the person Sophie in an excellent way. A timid and stressed young woman with a turbulent past and dealing with her own personal problems. It’s mainly her dementing mother Dora (Jacqueline Bisset) she’s worried about. The old woman no longer recognises her and sometimes responds in a sharp and angry manner. This ensures emotionally charged scenes. And in one way or another, it’s also the reason for an unconsciously funny moment. For me, the conversation between Asher and Sophie about putting Dora out of her misery was the most moving and at the same time funniest moment of the film. An exchange of ideas on how to accomplish this while Sophie has no idea what Asher is actually doing. Let’s say, a tragicomic moment.

“Asher” is a mediocre crime movie that has difficulties getting off the starting blocks. And even when it gains momentum, the pace still seems to be slow and the film still colours nicely within the lines. This time it’s not about bad acting but rather the action-less content. They focus more on the development of a close relationship between two lonely souls. For me, this was enough to call it an interesting film. Even though the subject itself isn’t groundbreaking and some things are bluntly idiotic. For example, I found the corridor scenes in which Asher stood there with his umbrella while the fire alarm went off, completely ridiculous. I thought it was odd that only the targeted person runs out of his apartment in a panic. So, the movie isn’t a high flyer, but if you come across it somewhere on a VOD service, you might still be able to give it a chance.

Taken 3 (2014) Movie Retro Review by Stephen McLaughlin

TAKEN 3

Director: Olivier Megaton (as Olivier Mégaton)
Writers: Luc Besson,  Robert Mark Kamen
Stars: Liam Neeson,  Forest Whitaker,  Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen, Dougray Scott

Taken 3 is rumoured to be the final installment in the trilogy of the franchise and the concluding chapter somewhat abandons its original idea, intent and formula and instead makes a DIET “The Fugitive (1993)” The Taken series no longer aims the straightforward formula or the context of the original. Don’t get me wrong while it’s still pretty fun to watch Neeson doing his best as Brian Mills, as an action hero, the movie somehow losses the senses of his character.

Mills used to be a clever guy who was always four or five steps ahead of everyone who could get out of any situation with careful, calculating precision. In this instalment he appears to be going out his way basically to make everyone’s accusation of him as a criminal even worse. He just couldn’t do the simple things, his actions always have to unreasonably lead from one disaster to the next. At least in the previous movies we can understand why he strikes his enemies without any remorse. In Taken 3, he comes off looking like the villain who just does things without reason, out of character and clumsy, in spite of his good intentions.

The movie has to go through all of these reasons to make it a lot exciting. There are some action sequences that look great and are shot spectacularly those sequences, but the fast paced editing hurts every action scene, unable to focus in many of its angles, making It harder to follow and can even cause motion sickness in the same way some video games do this.

Taken 3 should have been the topping finale to an excellent franchise with the first class cast who signed up. With the original Neeson, Janssen and Grace carrying the story forward and the addition of the brilliant Forest Whitaker (playing his version of Tommy Lee Jones “Sam Gerard”) and Dougray Scott replacing Xander Berkeley as Stuart, husband to Lenore (Famke Janssen)

As an actor, Liam Neeson hasn’t lost his enthusiasm for the role of Brian Mills, at least, but his talent deserves better than what the movie has done to itself. Taken 3 is a rather difficult thing to experience, not because it has a excellent and complex story, but because of its lacking consistency. Taken and Taken 2 consist of the same actors and storylines link together well with the first sequel having a knock on effect with the events of the first and original. The action looks larger and stylish than before but it still doesn’t make for a good replacement.

Forest Whitaker is always a good addition to the movie and does make it a little better, but even he, the ever suspicious FBI detective, tend to just follow Brian Mills around and then proclaims he knew all along what happened because the bagels were still warm. Give me strength.

One of the biggest disappointments was how little screen time Famke Janssen is given and is promptly killed off at the beginning of the movie for the films basis. Now, hold up this isn’t a spoiler so don’t be having a go at me. On the movies original trailer release it was surprisingly revealed and shockingly exposed that Lenore was being killed off. Before I went to see the movie in the cinema the basis of this film left me a little depressed that after everything Brian went through in Taken 2 to ensure his family was safe in Istanbul was quickly removed in the third instalments opening 15 minutes….yes, 15 Minutes.

Maggie Grace as Kim begins to really show her age. In the original she barely passed for a teen, but in the sequels she shows more of her age. A convincing college girl now?  I have to say she was possibly the weakest actor in the movie. Maggie Grace  reprises her role here but since Famke Janssen’s character dies very early at the movie’s beginning, Grace has the added burden of carrying the movie opposite Neeson but falls under the weight of the expectation levels of a character who previously was the “Damsel in Distress”

Dougray Scott replacing Xander Berkeley as Stuart St. John. Here is the link and only link to the previous movies. It was mentioned in the 2008 original film that’s Stuart had some dealings with Russian businessmen and nothing more was said or implied in that conversation. Here Besson and Kamen’s use this as a vehicle for the movies badguys but with a twist at the end which I will not spoil. Dougray Scott, who like Neeson and Whitaker also is much better than the material he’s often given, he tries to make it as the grieving widowed husband with more to him than meets the eye.

Director Olivier Megaton uses a Jason Bourne style of hyper fast edits for the action scenes but they actually come across rather cheaply and messy. Megaton relies on multiple cameras to capture the action throughout the 109 minutes.The film lacks the  energy and action of the first two films. Too often the film halts for deep emotional scenes or plot exposition. To be honest Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen’s screen writing skills have not been severely tested in this instalment in the franchise.

The movie wasn’t the greatest but it wasn’t the worst either. It was just a run of the mill adventure movie with Neeson that has distanced itself not on purpose from the rest of the franchise. Unfortunately Taken 3 looks like the cash in to complete the trilogy with a quickly knocked off and poor script, which is a pity as it could have been a flawless trilogy we would all be talking about in years to come.