A good film can often come from one simple idea. This week two examples at very different ends of the cinematic spectrum demonstrate this. So sit back and enjoy a sunny weekend of film.
First up there’s high concept at its very best. Man’s wife dies, wife leaves puppy as parting gift, puppy is killed by gang of car thieves. All very sad. And all very violent when the man in question turns out to be Keanu Reeves’ retired mob assassin John Wick. Taking an absurd premise and running with it full pace, John Wick is ridiculously good fun as Reeves deadpans his way through the mass slaughter of an entire criminal enterprise. A decent supporting cast that includes Willem Dafoe, Adrianne Palicki, Ian McShane and Alfie Allen all add to the fun. Look out for a nightclub scene that rivals Kingsman’s ‘Colin Firth goes psycho in a church’ moment for best set-piece of the year so far.
Also blessed with a great idea at its core, though of a distinctly more complex variety, comes Swedish film Force Majeure. Premiering to great acclaim at Cannes last year, Ruben Östlund’s fourth feature puts a family into a near avalanche and examines what happens when the husband cuts and runs. When the snow clears and it turns out to be a false alarm, the awkwardness commences as they face up to the fact that he’s not the man he thought he was. Playing with gender roles and familial expectations, and shot through with dark humour, it’s compelling drama.
To round out a good week of new releases at the cinema, there’s Richard Linklater’s muse, Ethan Hawke, in Good Kill. Teaming up again with director/writer Andrew Niccol (Gattaca), Hawke plays a former military pilot who now flies drones from a cabin outside Las Vegas. Lumbered with unnecessary subplots, the film excels when airborne over American military targets half way across the world. Examining the ethics of drone combat, and the toll it places on operators, it’s a smart take on a topic that is only likely to grow in importance in coming years.
Out on DVD this week comes more Ethan Hawke in Predestination. Based on a Robert Heinlein story, it tracks Hawke’s temporal agent as he pursues a criminal through time. Addressing the many paradoxes of time travel through the comfortable lens of pulp science-fiction, it should prove a satisfying way to spend a quiet evening at home.
That concludes a good week for film. See you soon for Mads Mikkelsen in the Wild West.