Tag Archives: James Mangold

Le Mans ‘66 (2019) Movie Review By Philip Henry

Ford v Ferrari Review

Director: James Mangold
Writers: Jez Butterworth, John-Henry Butterworth & Jason Keller
Stars: Matt Damon, Christian Bale, Caitriona Balfe

This film, also known as Ford v Ferrari in some territories, follows the grudge match that got Ford into the racing game. After a business deal goes south, Henry Ford II vows to show Enzo Ferrari just how big a mistake he’s made by making the fastest racing car in the world.

Matt Damon plays Carroll Shelby, a racecar driver benched before his time because of medical problems. He now makes custom sports cars for the rich, but he’s still struggling financially, so when a representative from Ford shows up at his door with a blank cheque and challenges him to build a car that can beat Ferrari, Shelby doesn’t take much convincing. But he needs a driver and Ken Miles (Christian Bale) is his top choice, but the suits at Ford don’t like Miles; he’s brash, opinionated and prone to losing his rag, but you know he’s going to end up driving eventually. Caitriona Balfe from the TV show Outlander stops her time-travelling long enough to play Miles’s long-suffering wife, Mollie. She doesn’t have a lot to do, but she gets a couple of memorable scenes and, along with Ken’s adoring son, Peter, paints a picture of the driver as a conflicted family man. He loves the adolescent thrill that racing gives him, but he knows it isn’t paying the bills and is about to jack it all in when Shelby shows up with an offer he can’t refuse.

The film recreates the late sixties flawlessly and seeing the Ferrari showroom is car-porn for any enthusiast. I’m not a car racing fan by any stretch of the imagination, and frankly the thought of driving in a twenty-four hour race would bore me to death, but this film still had me gripped from start to finish. Most of the 2hrs 32mins running time flies by at 200mph so I didn’t even notice it being that long.

It’s a David and Goliath story and the director makes no bones about who’s the baddie of the piece. During the final race, as Enzo Ferrari shouts orders to his pit team from the grandstand, I couldn’t help but think of Mussolini on that famous balcony screaming propaganda. Whether this is intentional or not, I don’t know, but it seems like an apt parallel.

The Ford team aren’t without their drawbacks too. The suits constantly interfere with the design and building of the car, instead of leaving it to the experts. Leo Beebe (Josh Lucas) is the worst of these and is the kind of spineless, toadying yes-man that would make Wayland Smithers seem like a rebel in comparison.

If you’re a fan of fast cars and racing in general, I think you’ll probably have a great time, but even if – like me – your knowledge of cars starts and ends with how to drive one, there’s still a great tale of the underdog against the giant that everyone can relate to. I didn’t know how the big race turned out in ‘66 and I won’t spoil it here; suffice to say it’s bittersweet, but when you’re making a movie based on a true story, some things are set in stone. The final scene sees some terrific acting from Damon. I’ve rarely seen him better. You may even leave the cinema wiping your eyes.

The film isn’t setting the box-office alight at the time of writing, having made back a little over half of it’s $97M budget so far. I assume this is because most Americans have probably never heard of Le Mans (hence that alternate title) and are more interested in Nascar. The long runtime and niche subject matter mean it probably won’t be unseating Avengers: Endgame anytime soon, but I hope good word of mouth helps it to a respectable showing. It’s much better than your average Hollywood fare, and deserves to be seen on a big screen.

Logan (2017) Movie Review by Darrin Gauthier


Director: James Mangold
Writers: James Mangold (story by), Scott Frank (screenplay by)
Stars: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Dafne Keen

Plot:  In the near future, a weary Logan cares for an ailing Professor X, somewhere on the Mexican border. However, Logan’s attempts to hide from the world, and his legacy, are upended when a young mutant arrives, pursued by dark forces.
Running Time: 2 hours 17 minutes
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics 93%   Audience 90%

Why I Watched it: A R-Rated Wolverine movie how could you say no.
Thoughts: Now it took me awhile to watch this and it’s because of the hype, it’s the one thing with fan boys now nothing is just good it has to be called the best, the best comic book movie, the best Wolverine movie, and I have to say with watching the trailers it looked dark which I like but it also looked somber, not sure I wanted a depressing Wolverine movie.  The other thing I will say going into the review just because something is different doesn’t make it better so much has been made of Logan being a great film cause it’s different from other super hero movies, and it is but just on that fact alone doesn’t make it better.

What I Liked: Hugh Jackman will always be Logan, he just nails the character and for me he’s been the best part of the X-Men franchise, he never sleeps walks and he always shows heart and emotion playing Logan.  In this film I think Patrick Stewart is even better he gets to be sad, funny, noble, wise and also tired.  We’ve never got to see comic book characters end or get old, there’s no riding off into the sunset for these guys cause comics by their nature get to reboot whenever they want but you get the sense in both Stewart’s and Jackman’s performances that they’re saying goodbye to dear friends.

One thing I want to point out here there’s a couple of fight scenes and they’re just wicked, I don’t think I’ve ever seen fight scenes in this genre being this ferocious, the energy in these fights are off the charts.  Really like the young actress Dafne Keen, she does a lot in her fights, she has personality in her fights. For a young actress she has a very strong presence.  I liked half of Boyd Holbrook’s performance the first half and boy this guy can be a star. A lot of talk has gone into what this film is like and for me it’s the first comic book movie to really look at the person not the character, not the ability but what cost they’ve paid to be what they are and yes they take that to the grave.  It’s like ‪The Wild Bunch‬ and Unforgiven was to Westerns, bare bones the grit and reality of it all.

What I Didn’t Like: I had a few major problems with the film, and I didn’t care for the writing of Logan this time around, look Jackman owns it but he’s so one note here it bothered me, I get he has demons but come on, he has no charm and no sense of humor at all and just yells at everyone, his lines are just saying “take your pills, there’s no more mutants, I don’t care, there’s no Eden it’s a dumb comic book” Take a drink for every time he’s wrong in this film, he’s not an anit-hero he’s an annoying old man and I wouldn’t want to be in the same room as him.  Now I don’t think it worked and I don’t like the character as written in this film.  Also I was very disappointed in no word building here, they say the future they say no more mutants, how?  what’s the world like now?  How did we get there?  Also are we going from the comics or the movies?  Never got the sense of this future.

I found the film boring and slow at times and the sub-plots didn’t work for me, it’s like now all comic book films feel they have to be over 2 hours the long running time shows how important it is.  Near the end all the momentum is drained from the film, hey let’s have three scenes of Logan sleeping, the drama. The ending left me cold, look we all knew what was going to happen and it didn’t move me the way it should, they set this up not of wondering what will happen but when it will.  Really the main bad guy is an evil doctor, really?  Boy it’s so different.

Final Thoughts: It was for the most part a well done film and for the record I liked that it was R-Rated and I liked seeing these characters again played by these actors.  It’s just not the greatest anything of all-time and it doesn’t have to be to be a solid film.

Rating: ‪6/10‬

The Wolverine (2013) Movie Retro Review by Stephen McLaughlin


Director: James Mangold
Writers: Mark Bomback (screenplay),  Scott Frank(screenplay) 
Stars: Hugh JackmanWill Yun LeeTao Okamoto 

I was pretty confident back in 2012 that they would finally nail a perfect portrayal of arguably the most famous of the X-Men after the disaster that was the Gavin Hood’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009) with James Mangold in the Directorial Chair this time was a good sign and the fact that this movie wouldn’t over emphasise and indulge in the X-Men Universe and have Logan fighting in Japan against Samurai Warriors excited us as filmgoers alike.

“The Wolverine” was released in between “First Class” and “Days of Future Past” at a time the jury was out on more X-Men films. Thankfully “First Class” was a success and a small amount of faith was restored that possibly aided the release of this stand alone.

When Logan (The Wolverine) is summoned to Japan by an old Japanese acquaintance named Yashida he saved during World War II, he is embroiled in a conflict that forces him to confront his own demons.

I’m not sure where this instalment fits into the sequence of events. I can only assume this is many years after X-Men: The Last Stand as Logan is still haunted by the death of Jean Grey (Famke Janssen) who appears in his dreams and visions. Logan is now sleeping rough in the wild and only appears into civilisation when he requires supplies. This is when we as the audience learn that he is being watched by Yukio played by Rila Fukushima (Star of the TV series “Arrow”) closely and finally intervenes when Logan confronts a hunter in the local bar who illegally used poison darts to take down a grizzly bear earlier that night.

Fukushima as Yukio shows her abilities very early on in the story and acts as the master of ceremonies throughout the movie and has a ability to vision when a person will face their death. Yukio explains that Yashida who is now an old man would like to thank Logan personally for saving his life all those years ago and has a sword that he has been holding for him for all this time. This sets up the rest of the movie and where it is going. Someone as stubborn as the character Logan easily accepts this invitation which surprised me as the last response “The Wolverine” gave to someone who invited him to join them was the brief cameo in “First Class” where he told Professor X and Magneto where to go (in a more direct and obscene manner you can imagine)

Nevertheless the journey over to Japan by private jet allows Yukio to explain and fill in Logan on what Yashida has been doing since his days as a soldier and his business. These scenes are always necessary for the audience to understand where a character we know nothing about in their first 5 minutes explained quickly and never bog us down with too much exposition.

Finally Logan meets Yashida and learns he is gravely ill and we the audience begin to suspect that Logan isn’t just over in Japan to accept gratitude and a sword for his troubles. Yashida has a proposition for “The Wolverine” that he may or may not have a choice in. It is during this part of the movie we learn that Yashida has a son Shingen (Hiroyuki Sanada) who he is disappointed in and a granddaughter Mariko (Tao Okamoto) he is proud of and decides to leave everything to which angers his son Shingen.

It is at the point apart from the opening where most of the characters really are just introducing themselves and going through the motions. In fact it isn’t until (spoiler alert) the passing of Yashida that things begin to kick off. Mariko is being pursued, Logan is trying to follow her and protect her and it’s during the bullet train sequences things begin to hot up. Particularly Logan’s fighting sequences with the movies henchmen on top of the speeding train that I found the best part of the movie. This is full credit to the director of photography Ross Emery and just as important the film editing by Michael McCusker. The special effects team must have spent a lot of time working on this sequence as although in reality it will be green screened it isn’t distracting and feels like they are up there fighting at high speeds. Also the logistical aspects of the fighting choreography has to be taken into account and be congratulated.

There are also what can only be said to be future echoes in what we the audience and fans of “The Wolverine” have to accept and expect in Logan (2017) that the character can be vulnerable and is beginning to slow down and age. In this movie it is through being infected (although it appeared to be a dream sequence that turns out to be real) by “Viper” a poisonous mutant played by Svetlana Khodchenkova that Logan is slowly dying and is taking longer than usual to heal from his injuries. It is surprisingly to see first time around a Wolverine that is suffering. Logan must find away to recover from the poison and I won’t spoil how this happens but I will say Yukio has a rather graphic vision of this.

The final third of the movie reveals a few twists and turns and the end fighting sequences are in classic x-men fashion. Overall “The Wolverine” is a decent movie. It is certainly better than 2009 origins story in structure, storytelling and acting. It was refreshing to take the “fish out of water” approach with the character and Jackman never lets you down with his delivering wit and his devotion to the character. They perhaps could have left out the Jean Grey parts of the film as they only reminded us of “The Last Stand” and at this point we never knew what “Days of Future Past” had in store for us. I would recommend this to anyone who hasn’t seen it if you enjoy action films and although it is a slow start to the movie it soon picks up and is explosive. Hang around for the mid end credit scene set 2 years after the events of this movie. They are Wow…just Wow.

Logan (2017) Movie Review by Stephen McLaughlin


Director: James Mangold
Writers: James Mangold (story by),  Scott Frank (screenplay)
Stars: Hugh Jackman,  Patrick Stewart,  Dafne Keen, Stephen Merchant, Boyd Holbrook, Richard E Grant

After two excellent trailers “Logan” is the movie everyone has been anticipating for the last year or so. Again Logan (The Wolverine) is using his birth name of James Howlett in the year 2029 trying to lead an ordinary existence driving a limo as a driver. whilst in his spare time looking after his old friend and mentor Charles Xavier (Professor X) who is now sick and old and is having seizures that are so blinding they are effecting the last reminisce of the mutants on earth that Logan tries to contain by giving Charles his medication on time. Accompanying both the Professor and The Wolverine is the albino mutant Caliban (Stephen Merchant) whose ability is sensing and tracking others of his kind. All three of them live in the outskirts of nowhere on a run down old farm leading a recluse life in which seems to me just living out the remainder of their lives.

Logan has been tracked down by a lady named Gabriela (Elizabeth Rodriguez) asking for his help to get a young girl to the Canadian border for her own safety as both have been pursued by Donald Pierce played by Boyd Holbrook. We first meet Gabriela at one of Logan’s driving jobs (at a funeral service) where Logan doesn’t want to know anything about what she is asking as he is trying his best to keep a low profile and  Gabriela knows more than enough about Logan being The Wolverine and his abilities to protect and handle himself.

Pierce’s first intervention with Logan is short and at times shows a respect for the one time well known X-Men and makes it clear that he isn’t tracking down The Wolverine or Professor X (who he admits would like to meet) but the Young Girl who goes by the name of Laura (Dafne Keen) who is labelled X-23.

You visibly see Logan is old and a shadow of his former self but by going on this reluctant mission he unlocks some of the old Wolverine inside of him and we see snippets of this throughout the movie and involving X-23 when she’s more capable than Logan and Professor X thinks and she’s able to fend for herself.
Logan also begins to realise things about himself through the vision of this little girl because they have striking similarities.

It has to be said that every scene in this film feels necessary and not shoehorned in from the character development to the humour and action. Nothing feels forced and everything comes off natural which is refreshing and a great testament to these characters that we have grown and loved for the past 17 years in the cinematic world and especially as it is both the original actors Stewart and Jackman who just fit right into their characters as if they have never been away (especially Stewart who apart from limited time in X-Men: Days of Future Past and a cameo in X-Men Origins: Wolverine hasn’t really played the part for a good decade) and I was very pleased with that.

Hugh Jackman gives it all in this his final performance as Logan and I don’t think many people will disagree he has saved the best for last after than disappointing Origins story and the okay “The Wolverine”. I don’t think we have seen The Wolverine this vulnerable. He’s now old, he’s beaten and walks with a slight limp. He doesn’t  heal like he used to and this is down to the conviction from Hugh Jackman in the movie. Jackman has always stood out from the rest in the X-Men franchise with his portrayal as Wolverine/Logan and that’s partially down to the Character but mostly down to the actor portraying his take on the character. He hits the nail on the head with this somber performance and you just know he wants the character to go out with a bang.

The real surprising standout performance is from Dafne Keen who plays Laura (X-23). She gives Logan a run for his money on the brutality who is this mysterious young girl born with a same clawing-wielding gift as Wolverine. At first Keen didn’t talk and I thought this was going to be for the rest of the movie with some nods and shakes of the head for conversation in between going on violent rampages and the occasional Spanish-spoken lines, but it’s the subtly in her character that stands out as you begin to see she cares for Logan and Charles and I think by the end of watching the movie the audience want to see more of Keen as Laura in her own stand alone movie or as part of a new generation of x-men….or in this case x-children. I can see why a lot of folk would want this as there is that potential to continue the story in this universe now that Jackman, Stewart etc are hanging up their boots as mutants and it also looks like the First Class mutants have finished their trilogy with the bitterly disappointing Apocalypse. So why not continue the story instead of a reboot?

Patrick Stewart who proudly reprising his role as Charles Xavier has done what is needed for his character and he does it with perfection. With the aged Xavier now handicapped without his ability to walk, Stewart gives a blissful, if occasionally humorous portrayal as this signature role and there is a particular scene that is so touching as he lies in his bed after being taken in by a family who feed and give Logan, Charles and Laura a room for the night that hints at why there isn’t any mutants anymore and how this is the happiest he has been in as long as he can remember. Stewart as I previously mentioned just slips back into the role but with a bit of cutting humour it must be said that will make you laugh out loud in disbelief with “did he just say the f-word?”

If I had one gripe with this movie it is main villains in Donald Pierce (Boyd Holbrook).Who isn’t the kind of villain that tries to scare you. He just messes around with Logan but will become nasty if needed. Holbrook is a suitable villain for this movie but really is just a bounty hunter who doesn’t have too much to do. We are then introduced to Doctor Rice (Richard E. Grant) who is behind Pierce and who is clearly desperate to retrieve X-23 and take her back to his lab for experimentation I felt was a little villain-light and really just served as the ‘Mad Scientist” behind the plan but with no real punch.

James Mangold manages to capture every element which thrives on the edge of this conflict that he creates. it is beautiful and the talk on the street is whispers of Oscar nominations…..“in March?” you say? Yeah it’s that good. Don’t get me wrong, Director and Writer James Mangold has crafted a very fine film.  He certainly knows how to keep the action flowing and all that bad wire work we saw in the origins movie is nowhere to be seen in this beautifully shot film. Not only are the visuals stunning but the development of all ready established characters might appear to be an easy thing to pick up but Mangold is dealing with “Old Logan” and a decrepit Charles Xavier here and still manages to capture the essence of the characters from the previous movies but adds to their story, sadness, regret and above all…hope for the future of mutants alike.

I believe that this movie will be very well received by fans as the early indications are looking good and some critics are already labelling “Logan” as one of the best comic book movies of all time. I personally consider the film more in the superhero western genre? as it has that gritty feel and texture about it. I highly recommend this movie for all those reasons mentioned because it distinguishes itself from the usual superhero movies. I have all the x-men films and i liked most of them but none of them managed to reach this movie’s level of action or emotion .