DARKMATTERS - The Mind of Matt

You met me at a very strange time in my life...

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Darkmatters Review: Justice League


Justice League (12a)

Dir. Zac Snyder

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

“There are heroes among us. Not to make us feel smaller, but to remind us of what makes us great…”

Buckle up for another super smack-down as the heavyweight characters of the DC Comics Extended Universe – Batman (Ben Affleck), Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), The Flash (Ezra Miller), Aquaman (Jason Momoa) and Cyborg (Ray Fisher) assemble to form the ‘Justice League’.

"no, we're not the Avengers"

With earth deemed to be unprotected after Superman (Henry Cavill) “died” in Batman vs Superman, world killer CGI alien Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds) and his army of flying insect men decide to come and forcibly take over. Obviously all that’s required to turn our planet into a murky computer generated hell are 3 ‘mother boxes’ which are hidden and protected by the Amazonians, Atlantians and erm, Humans.

Cue two hours of fast forward team building and bonding, pondering about and then trying to resurrect Superman himself in order to give us a fighting chance and some actually decent and fun banter between the various heroes.

"He's an Aqua-fan of Wonder Woman"

Director Zack Snyder crams in a lot after his BvS was accused of being overly leisurely paced – but this time just as we’re getting into an exciting action situation or an interesting conversation, things cut and rush on to something else (often some plot exposition to help viewers keep up).

Justice League is very much the DC version of Avengers – and if that sounds like your super powered cup of tea then you’ll have a blast watching this band of iconic heroes doing their thing. Wonder Woman keeps up her scene stealing form after her great solo film earlier this year but all the team have some good moments.

"evil eyes"

If you’ve had enough comic book superhero action then this won’t likely change your mind. But for long term fans (full disclosure I LOVE both Superman and Batman, ok and Wonder Woman) then there is plenty to make you grin with glee.

As a film, it is a bit of a mess – and weak points include a seriously forgettable villain who looks like he’s escaped from an Xbox rather than outer space and the jump cuts that hamper coherent plot development.

"Atlantis is real"

Somewhere in this jumble is an epic adventure that rivals anything Marvel have put on screen – as it stands though, Justice League is a great fun movie but not one that will have the Avengers losing sleep as they plan their Infinity War next year.

Be sure to check the after credit scenes too for both clues of what might come next and a super stand off that made some of the audience I saw this with cheer!

Out of a potential 5, you have to go with a Darkmatters:

ööö1/2

(3.5 - All In - the directors cut?)

Awesomeness öööö – Some great scenes

Laughs ööö – Super banter

Horror öö – Limited grimness unless you hate CGI

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - Salvation in teamwork?

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Darkmatters Review: The Florida Project


The Florida Project (15)

Dir. Sean Baker

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

“The doctor says we have asthma and we gotta eat ice-cream right away!”

Welcome to the flip side of comfortable life, where poverty stalks every character and surviving is no mean feat – even when you live in the very shadow of Disneyland itself…

Sean Baker’s The Florida Project is a heavy duty treatise on the durability and joy of childhood, a soul-destroying expose of living on the edge and heart-breaking almost-romance that never could be.

I was blown away by this film which tells the tale of six-year-old Moonee (an epic and totally winning performance from Brooklynn Prince) who lives with her young mother Hailey (an incredible breakthrough performance from Bria Vinai who was approached to play her part after the Director spotted her on Instagram).

"life is not always explainable"

We get to hang out with this small family unit over the course of a few weeks of summer as they struggle to live their lives holed up in a seedy hotel called The Magic Castle. Fortunately for the two girls the hotel is managed by Bobby (Willem Dafoe whose probably never been better than he is here). Bobby is a genuinely good soul, a compassionate white knight who makes everyone’s lives better even though his consistent and selfless acts of kindness for Hailey are largely unappreciated and rebuffed.

Moonee has a ruthlessly mischievous streak, effortlessly courting trouble and generally having a good time even in a hopeless situation. Scamming tourists for ice cream money, spitting on cars and accidentally torching a local condo with her pals – this is a childhood of hard knocks but infused with an inescapable joy and freedom which is easy to get lost in.

As the kids play, danger lurks only a heartbeat away – be it the naivety of not understanding consequences or actual predatory adult intervention. Seeing the youngsters grappling with situations they cannot fully comprehend is emotionally draining such as when Hailey must sell their iPad to pay the rent and can’t really explain why.

"motherhood isn't easy"

The relationship between the world-weary Bobby and the hot-headed Hailey is shot through with a growing tension. Caught between wanting to protect Hailey like a father and yet still potentially be the man in her life, he’s a rare good guy in a bad world. But can he save her from herself as she slips down the poverty spiral into making heart breaking, self-destructive decisions.

The Florida Project is a powerful and vibrant film that will haunt you for days after seeing it. Wise beyond her years Moonee says things like: “I can always tell when adults are about to cry” when she observes some honeymooners who have inadvertently booked into the crappy Magic Kingdom thinking it was an actual part of the Disney resort.
But when life gets too much for our young heroine, all she can do is stand a cry in a scene which will just destroy you. The ending too is one of the bravest ever committed to film – just a superb few moments of unforgettable and mesmerising cinema.

"You're only young once"

I can’t recommend The Florida Project enough – it’s brutal and bleak but also engaging and wonderful in equal measure. Can’t wait to see not just what this director does next but all of the talent involved here.

Out of a potential 5, you have to go with a Darkmatters:

ööööö

(5 - Save the Hailey, Save the world...)

Awesomeness ööööö – Joyful and poignant from start to end

Laughs ööö – Lots of fun but not a comedy

Horror ööö – Real life can break you

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - Where is God when you need Him?

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Darkmatters Review: Paddington 2


Paddington 2 (PG)

Dir. Paul King

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

“Aunt Lucy says to look for the goodness in everyone you meet…”

Michael Bond's furry fun loving, marmalade endorsing, orphaned little bear is back. Since his first excellent big-screen adventure, Paddington (once again voiced by Ben Whishaw) has happily settled in with the Brown family and become a popular and useful member of the local community.

"multi-purpose brushes" 

Now his Aunt Lucy's 100th birthday approaches and he must find a perfect gift for her, as luck would have it, a unique pop up book of London has been found in Mr. Gruber's antique shop. The only drawback is that it costs a grand and so Paddington enters the world of work in order to save up and buy it. But when the book is stolen, it's up to Paddington and the Browns to unmask the thief and see justice done.

The good news is that this sequel is simply superb on all levels, packed with genuine wit and winning performances from the human contingent, and blessed with a fun lite-weight plot which bounds along without ever being tiresome…

"showman and show-bear"

Baddie of the piece is the villainous Phoenix Buchanan (a wonderfully OTT performance from Hugh Grant sending himself up) - a bitter faded actor looking to launch is own one-man show on the West End. The detective subplot leads to a hair-raising finale that sees a steam-powered chase, hand-to-hand combat and an anxious life-or-death moment that had the children in the screening I caught this at squealing in delight.

Due to some miscarriage of justice, Paddington finds himself behind bars but being a cheerful young bear he has in no time befriended the dangerous criminals he’s locked up with who include Knuckles McGinty (Brendan Gleeson), T-Bone (Tom Davis) and Jimmy the Snitch (Robert Stevenson).

"High ho!"

The CGI animation is exceptional, Paddington himself is a walking, talking, wonder and other nice touches abound such as a moving scene of 2D paper cut-outs which mimic the classic ‘70s TV show).

Everything works so well, director Paul King has served up a winning treat, refreshingly free of cynical cash grab merchandising (unless you count the numerous plugs for marmalade) – effectively capturing a joyful innocence. This is a must-see for anyone who with children or those who are just young at heart.

"The Browns"

Paddington 2 really is the Empire Strikes Back of furry animated comedies – it’s un’bear’ably good family friendly fun…

Out of a potential 5, you have to go with a Darkmatters:

öööö1/2

(4.5 - Very tasty marmalade sandwiches all round)

Awesomeness ööö – Joyfully furry fun

Laughs öööö – Lots of good laughs to be had

Horror ö – A little tense but nothing very grim

Spiritual Enlightenment öööö - Looking for the good is good way to live...

Monday, November 06, 2017

Darkmatters Review: Murder on the Orient Express


Murder on the Orient Express (12a)

Dir. Kenneth Branagh

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

Read the newspaper version of this review at: The Observer

“I see evil on this train...”

Foul deeds are afoot on the most famous train in the world (other than perhaps The Hogworts Express). Here we have an all star update of Agatha Christie’s famous whodunit which sees the ridiculously moustachioed Belgian detective Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh) pondering the killing of a Mr Edward Ratchett (Johnny Depp) which happens en route to Paris from Istanbul.

"sorry for the delay, Branagh on the tracks"

Murder on the Orient Express is blessed with an impressive cast which should in theory make this an incredible watch. The 12 suspects include young Mary Debenham (Daisy Ridley), flirty American Mrs. Hubbard (Michelle Pfeiffer), outspoken Pilar Estravados (Penelope Cruz) and haughty Princess Dragomiroff (Judi Dench) as well as Hilgarde Schmidt (Olivia Colman) and Countess Elena Andrenyi (Lucy Boynton) as the potential killer women. Also aboard are the potentially murderous male suspects such as Gerhard Hardman (Willem Dafoe), Hector MacQueen (Josh Gad), Edwards Masterman (Derek Jacobi) and more.

"who's the killer?"

Alas, even with so many A-grade talents vying for screen time, the end result is a thrill-free snooze fest (I clocked several people gently snoring their way through this in the screening I was in). It’s a shame because it all looks lovely and has occasional bursts of stunning cinematography but nothing here rivals the classic and much more sinister 1974 version in terms of anything other than production values.

It seems to take forever to get going, and lacks a consistent style which means that rather than an edge-of–your-seat mystery, Branagh delivers a ponderous mystery culminating in a weirdly underwhelming finale which sees Poirot and his crazy 'tache explaining the killer’s motivation whilst the suspects are gathered at long table framed to look like the last supper.

"the queue for the toilet wasn't too bad"

Director Branagh is also guilty of giving himself the lion's share of screen time which feels a little self indulgent when there is so much other acting talent on hand. Oh and if his prosthetic moustache isn’t up for a ‘best supporting actor’ award it will also be a crime.

There is surprisingly little nastiness, violence, cussing or gore – so you can take your granny with you without fear. But a horrendous murder in a claustrophobic setting like a train should really be more unnerving and involving.

In the end, this is a murderous cinematic train-ride that manages to not be a complete train-wreck but never feels like it hits full steam.

Out of a potential 5, you have to go with a Darkmatters:

öö1/2

(2.5 - Chuff chuff Zzzzzz)

Awesomeness ööö – Occasionally delivers quality.

Laughs öö – Limited unless you can't stop sniggering about that tache.

Horror öö – Very little for a murder tale.

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - Revenge n stuff.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Darkmatters Review: Thor Ragnarok


Thor: Ragnarok (12a)

Dir. Taika Waititi

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

“Last time we saw you, you were trying to kill everyone. What are you up to these days?”

It can be tough being a super hero, God of Thunder. One day you’re saving earth from all kinds of threats, the next you’re imprisoned by a crazy dictator and forced to fight one your strongest team mates in a lethal gladiatorial contest… All the while letting your evil older sister who happens to be the goddess of death lay waste to your home world in the prophesied ‘Ragnarok’ Armageddon…

"she's Hela cool"

Yes, Thor the ‘Point Break Avenger’ (Chris Hemsworth) is back and things are looking grim for the blonde demi god. He’s lost his hammer, been dumped by his girl and finds himself trapped on planet Sakaar, which is a hive of scum and villainy governed by Grandmaster (the superb over acting Jeff Goldblum). If you’ve seen any of the posters or trailers it won’t be surprise to know that he finds Hulk ‘The Strongest Avenger’ (Mark Ruffalo) is there too, but so also is Thor’s untrustworthy brother Loki (Tom Hiddlston).

"get ready to rumble"

What follows is a kind superhero buddy movie and it’s a grin inducing riot of quality laugh out loud humour, crunching super smack downs and brilliant sci-fi, feel good heroics.

Directed by Taika ‘The Hunt for the Wilderpeople’ Waititi, takes the Marvel Cinematic Universe and gives it a endorphin boost. Not since Deadpool has a super hero film been such fun and Thor: Ragnarok manages to pack in jaw dropping action, laugh out loud gags (both visual and dialogue) and even keeps it all almost family friendly with a 12a certificate.

"He's a friend from work"

Baddie of the piece is the seemingly unstoppable and very nasty Hela (Cate Blanchett on imperious form). Also on hand is the kick-ass one-time Asgardian Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), faithful gatekeeper Heimdall (Idris Elba), Odin (Anthony Hopkins) and perhaps most fun of all - rock creature Korg (Taika Waititi – who gives himself many of the best lines). There’s another Avenger who shows up too for a class fun meeting with Thor.

I grinned so much watching Thor: Ragnarok that it made my face hurt but man it was worth it. Almost every scene will make any comic book loving soul burst with pleasure as the plot rattles through an upbeat and memorable romp, this is a million miles away from the somber reflective gloom of many superhero tales.

"Sworn to protect"

This is essential viewing, building up next year’s Avengers: Infinity War in fine style.


Out of a potential 5, you have to go with a Darkmatters:

ööööö

(5 - BEST. THOR. EVER.)

Awesomeness ööööö – Incredible, this is just super...

Laughs öööö – Excellent well judged comedy humour

Horror öö – Comic book violence throughout

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - The gods aren't all friendly...

Darkmatters Review: Happy Death Day


Happy Death Day (15)

Dir. Christopher Beau Landon

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

“I know this isn’t going to make any sense. I feel like I’m losing my mind. I’ve already lived through this day…”

Here for Halloween comes a fun new time-looping slasher thriller directed and co-written by Christopher B. ‘Paranormal Activity’ Landon. This is the tale of queen bitch college student, Theresa ‘Tree’ Gelbman (Jessica ‘La La Land’ Rothe), who has to somehow relive the day of her murder with both its unexceptional details and terrifying end until she discovers her killer’s identity and why someone wants her dead.

"chemistry?"

It begins like a normal day for Tree, who wakes up on her birthday in the dorm room of classmate Carter Davis (Israel Broussard) after a drunken romp the previous evening. She spends her day in a self-centred, condescending whirlwind, mean to her classmates, evil to her previous hook-ups, and rudely ignoring her father's invite to take her out for her Birthday. Tree is also having an affair with her professor and generally acts like nobody else matters.

But someone is watching with murderous intent and after a freaky underpass Birthday surprise Tree is brutally killed, only to immediately wakes up again in exactly the same situation as she started the day. Before you can say ‘Groundhog Day’ Tree is living the same events over again – but even though this time she avoids the tunnel of death, the same masked killer manages to murder her again.

"when mascots attack"

The time-loop dynamic is used effectively here both for fun e.g. one day Tree decides to walk through the campus naked just for kicks, but also for some effectively nasty surprises. The violence isn’t extreme but there are many scream out loud moments (if the crowd I saw this with were any indication).

Part of the fun is in guessing how Tree will die each time – but the bad news for her is that each death is starting to weaken her and soon she is hospitalized by her unnatural injuries. Afraid and unable to work out who is killing her, Tree manages to convince Carter of her predicament by showing that she holds knowledge of the day's events.

"When you know someone's out to get you"

Can Tree crack the case of her own murder? Will she learn that she should be a nicer person in the experience? Sure the plot is pretty predictable but Happy Death Day delivers a fun if disposable mildly horrific thrill ride.

Out of a potential 5, you have to go with a Darkmatters:

ööö1/2

(3.5 - Lots to enjoy, and re-enjoy, and re-enjoy)

Awesomeness öööö – Classier slasher moments than many out there

Laughs ööö – Very funny in places

Horror ööö – Gets nasty too

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - Karma eh?




Monday, October 16, 2017

Darkmatters Review: The Ritual


The Ritual (15)

Dir. David Bruckner

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

Read the newspaper version of this review: The Observer

“It wasn’t your fault, mate…”

This is the unhappy tale of what happens following the untimely death of a nice guy called Rob (Paul Reid) whose pal, Luke (Rafe Spall), hid rather than stepped up to try and save him. Ridden with guilt Luke joins his other friends - Hutch (Robert James-Collier), Phil (Arsher Ali) and Dom (Sam Troughton) on a hike in Sweden in memory of Rob. But it’s not long before the group is being hunted through the forest wilderness by something terrifying and the body count starts to rise.

"not a happy shopper"

The Ritual is an effective survival horror which takes tropes from films such as The Blair Witch Project and The Wicker Man, mixes them up with some nasty Nordic mythology. The acting is surprisingly strong for a horror and the build-up works really well. Each of the friends has their own demons but together they are a good bunch of guys who bring some quality believable banter and plenty of laughs before they start to come apart (literally in some cases). Having real empathy with the protagonists makes you care about them when things start to get bad – and the nerve-shredding slow burn build up is expertly handled.

"what could go wrong?"

Director David Bruckner has a great eye for visuals and some of the Swedish landscape cinematography is just stunning. The friends I saw this with were suitably freaked out as the group stumble upon sinister warning signs after taking an ill-advised shortcut through a creepy forest.

When the running and screaming starts it delivers a fascinatingly twisted scenario and the plot shifts from a tense stalk n jump horror to full-on crazy Nordic ‘pagan-em-up’. It’s a shame that the ending – however unsettling feels a bit rushed and silly after the excellent work that has gone before.

"slightly sinister"

Even as the friends find themselves in a horrific life or death situation the chemistry and group dynamics hold firm elevating what could have been a very average horror effort to something that is really worth checking, as long as you have the stomach for grisly goings-on.

The ‘big bad’ in the film is something that hasn’t been seen on film before either which is a plus, but the trim running time means that there isn’t enough bridge from the hidden killer to the ‘well that’s just freaky’ monster mash.

"shock and awe"


If you go down to the woods today, you’ll be both scared and entertained but might not make it out alive…

Out of a potential 5, you have to go with a Darkmatters:

ööö1/2

(3.5 - Beware the woods at night... scary stuff)

Awesomeness öööö – Some very effective chills on offer

Laughs ööö – Nice lads banter

Horror öööö – Icky and grim

Spiritual Enlightenment öö - Would you die for a friend?


Friday, October 06, 2017

Darkmatters Review: Blade Runner 2049



Blade Runner 2049 (15)

Dir. Denis Villeneuve

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

Read the less Voight-Kampff test version of this review which is published in the newspapers: HERE

“I was told you’re special. Your story isn’t over yet. There is still a page left. ”

Welcome, thank you for coming. Please look up and to the left while I examine your eyes. Now answer these questions, please answer quickly as reaction time is a factor…

You're watching TV. Suddenly you realise there's a wasp crawling on your arm. What do you do?

OK, you’re now watching the sequel to one of the most iconic and groundbreaking sci-fi films of all time. It’s incredible near future neo-noir stuff, heartbreaking and thrilling in equal measure. Denis ‘Sicario’ Villeneuve, the director, has packed it with retina burningly cool scenes and a stunning storyline that adds pathos to the events that follow on from thirty years before.

"she wants you"

This is the tale of a new Blade Runner on the block, LAPD Officer K (Ryan ‘Drive’ Gosling). K’s job is to hunt down surviving dangerous old model replicants (robots who look and act human) and when off duty he lives with his virtual girlfriend Joi (Ana ‘Knock Knock’ de Armas). After he has a run in with a rogue replicant K unearths a long-buried secret that he is intimately connected to and could plunge what's left of society into chaos.

Wanted by villainous tycoon Niander Wallace (Jared ‘Suicide Squad’ Leto) and hunted by the seemingly unstoppable replicant enforcer Luv (Sylvia Hoeks), K must find the original Blade Runner Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), who has been missing for 30 years and who might hold the key to the mystery.

"ask questions later"

Blade Runner 2049 is everything that fans of the original could want in a sequel. Gosling is superb in the lead role and he’s ably backed up by the rest of the cast including Ford who delivers his best performance for many years.

The cinematography is eye-popping too, taking the incredible dystopian near future visuals of the first film and expanding them. The gadgets, vehicles and even the iconic skyscraper-sized adverts all add to the feel that the action takes place in very much the same Blade Runner universe.

At almost 3 hours this is a veritable feast for sci-fi lovers but despite the bum-numbing length it doesn’t drag. The storyline is poignant and moving, raising big questions about what it means to be human and what the value of life (even virtual life) is.

"she looks real enough..."

Blade Runner 2049 is an instant classic and possible film of the year. Make it your mission to hunt it down but be sure to have watched the original first.

"not so subliminal messaging"


Out of a potential 5, you have to go with a Darkmatters:

ööööö

(5 - Wake up - time to die happy)

Awesomeness ööööö – Incredible, unforgettable scenes

Laughs öö – some sly humour

Horror ööö – gets violent in places

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - are we human? or are we dancer?


Monday, October 02, 2017

Darkmatters Review: Flatliners


Flatliners (15)

Dir. Niels Arden Oplev

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

Read the newspaper version of this review: The Observer

“You Haven't Lived Until You've Died…”

What happens when a bunch of medical students get obsessed by what lies beyond the confines of this mortal life? Well, in Flatliners (a remake of exactly the same film from 1990) they embark on a risky experiment - stopping their hearts for short periods to ‘die’ and then be resuscitated in order that they can actually experience the afterlife and live to tell the tale. What on earth could go wrong?


"do you like my head gear?"

First to defy death is Courtney (Ellen ‘Juno’ Page) – she’s obsessed with finding out if there is life after death due to the fact that she accidentally caused the death of her young sister. Then there’s Jamie (James ‘Grantchester’ Norton) who plays a womanising cad trying to get by doing the absolute minimum work. Also on this near-death ride is Marlo (Nina ‘The Vampire Diaries’ Dobrev) who is hiding a past fatal mistake and goody goody Sophia (Kiersey ‘Bad Neighbours 2’ Clemons) complete with an overly controlling mother.

Then there’s the more sensible Ray (Diego Luna) who refuses to go under and experience death but is happy to help with the procedure for his friends. Of course, death doesn’t like being tinkered with and the meddling students start to get all sorts of demonic hallucinations – that just might actually kill them!?

"at least it looks like the cast had fun on set"

Oh, there is an obligatory cameo - Kiefer Sutherland from the ‘90s version - who plays one of the medical professors but even he seems a bit bemused to be there. So slowly but surely the lurking dread tries to build up but it all feels a bit forced.

Once the film shifts gear from pseudoscience thriller into limp horror-wannabe, it’s all weak jump scares and unexpected loud noises. Have the sins of the past found a doorway through the near death and come to settle scores? What are the chances that every single one of the students has a sinister secret too huh?

Ala, the film starts to desperately drag despite the competent cinematography and great cast – especially Page who is just awesomely wasted in this role. Director Opley seems determined to slavishly make his version almost but not quite as good as the original (apart from the special effects).

"it's DOA alas"

Some lines shouldn’t be crossed and unfortunately, the line for tickets to see this new Flatliners is one of them.

Out of a potential 5, you have to go with a Darkmatters:

öö1/2

(2.5 - Life after death shouldn't be this dull...)

Awesomeness öö – not much alas

Laughs ö – very few

Horror öö – not scary enough

Spiritual Enlightenment öö - some lines shouldn't be crossed

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Darkmatters Review: Kingsman - The Golden Circle


Kingsman: The Golden Circle (15)

Dir. Matthew Vaughn

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

Read the newspaper version of this review: The Guardian

“My name is Poppy Adams, CEO of the Golden Circle. We engage in an aggressive business strategy… our world leaders have let us all down, so we are coming out of the shadows and taking over. And to make sure no one gets in our way... Kingsman is crumpets – as in ‘toast’ but more British!””

Here it is then, the kick ass sequel to the stylish hyperkinetic action spy-em-up Kingsman: The Secret Service. Leaping from the mind of comic book genius Mark Millar, the oh-so-British super spies are back to save the world and look very dapper whilst they do.

"anything Bond can do..."

From the jaw dropping opening – a full on action car chase through the streets of London at night - through to the insanely ultraviolent and suitably over the top climactic showdown, this is an action flick that really delivers.

Back - and now a fully-fledged Kingsman agent - is likeable teen chav turned gentleman spy Eggsy (Taron ‘Legend’ Egerton), when he’s ambushed by the robotic armed former Kingsman wannabe Charlie (Edward Holcroft) things go very wrong for the Kingsman organisation.

"to absent friends"

With their headquarters destroyed and the world held hostage by new big baddie Poppy Adams (the excellent Julianne Moore), whose HR selection process is to make her team kill, then eat, one of their friends, the remaining Kingsman agents call on their US counterparts the ‘Statesman’.

So we have Kingsman Quartermaster Merlin (Mark Strong), and if you’ve seen a poster or trailer it’s not a spoiler to let you know that the superb Harry (Colin Firth) is also back.

The Statesman agents who are named after drinks include lasso wielding Whiskey (Pedro Pascal), bad boy Tequila (Channing Tatum), weapons specialist Ginger Ale (Halle Berry) and boss Champagne (Jeff Bridges). These new heroes are fun addition and open the door to more international collaborative action in the future.

"action time"

Also in the mix is Eggsy’s Royal girlfriend Princess Tilde (Hanna Alström) and her potential love rival Clara (Poppy Delevingne) who gets a questionably tasteless Glastonbury Festival scene. And then there’s Sir Elton John who plays himself and manages to be an absolute boss, stealing all his scenes.

Sure, if you’re easily offended by bad language, macho bravado or crunching violence, this isn’t the film for you. But for a balls out, feel good adrenalin overload The Golden Circle out ‘Bond’s’ James Bond at his own game and is more fun than all the Bourne films put together. The Kingsman franchise is the new golden (circle) standard for action spy adventures and sets the bar for all future efforts.

"official Statesman skipping rope"

Out of a potential 5, you have to go with a Darkmatters:

öööö1/2

(4.5 - All Hail the Kingsman...)

Awesomeness ööööö – Insane and jaw dropping action set pieces

Laughs öööö – Laugh out loud funnies

Horror ööö – Gets grim in places and violent throughout

Spiritual Enlightenment öö - For Queen and Country

Read Matt's review of the first Kingsman: HERE

Darkmatters Review: The Hitman’s Bodyguard


The Hitman’s Bodyguard (15)

Dir. Patrick Hughes

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

Read the newspaper version of this review: Buckingham & Winslow Advertiser

“Go with God! This man's killed over 150 people...”

Generic buddy action comedies don't often come with such a strong cast – and The Hitman’s Bodyguard brings some A-game likeable heroes with Ryan ‘Deadpool’ Reynolds (who is the titular bodyguard) and Samuel L. ‘Kong: Skull Island’ Jackson (as the hitman)…

Alas that is all Patrick ‘Expendables 3’ Hughes has going for him as despite the fun foul-mouthed banter of the two leads, The Hitman’s Bodyguard is just not a great film in any way.

So we have Michael Bryce (Reynolds), a once AAA rated security provider to the rich and powerful. His career gets nuked when he loses a high-profile client and is consigned to looking after coked out lawyers such as Seifert (a fun but brief cameo from Richard E. Grant).

Meanwhile evil President of Belarus, Vladislav Dukhovich (Gary ‘Child 44’ Oldman) is busy committing genocide and killing off all witnesses who might testify against him. Except that is for ultra hitman Darius Kincaid (Jackson), who has dirt on Dukhovich and thus needs to be protected en-route to give evidence at The Hague, from Manchester in the UK.


Cue some mildly entertaining but ‘seen it all before’ assassination attempts, car chases and lots of banter. One of the problems is the low rent setting for the first major action scene. The streets of Coventry are just really hard to make look cool even when you have a small army of tooled up mercs trying to kill Kincaid. It looks for all the world like one of them might pop in a Tesco Express and grab a sandwich mid battle…

"not a test drive"

As the predictable plot ticks along, there are love interests on hand in the form of Bryce’s ex-lover Amelia (the excellent Elodie ‘Elektra from Netflix’s Dare Devil’ Yung), a C.I.A. agent who blackmails him into protecting Kincaid in the first place. Speaking of whom, Kincaid’s wife Sonia (Salma ‘Savages’ Hayek) is locked up and is being used to persuade him to testify in order for her to be released.

"never cross the streams"

There is one funny flashback of how Mr and Mrs Kincaid met but otherwise it's a case of lazy swearing rather than actually funny lines. Couple this with action which wouldn’t look out of place in a bargain bin DVD and this is massive missed opportunity.


The Hitman’s Bodyguard is averagely entertaining, it’s not rubbish but it could and with the cast it has, should, have been so much better!

Out of a potential 5, you have to go with a Darkmatters:

öö1/2

(2.5 - Average fun and action that should have been better)

Awesomeness ööö – Occasional passable action banter

Laughs ööö – Tries hard for funnies and sometimes works

Horror ööö – Bit nasty torture scene seems unnecessary

Spiritual Enlightenment ö - Coerced friendship still counts?

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