DARKMATTERS - The Mind of Matt

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

Read my novel: Complete Darkness

Listen to the PODCAST I co-host: Hosts in the Shell

Friday, September 25, 2015

Matt Adcock meets ‘Captive’ star David Oyelowo

Matt Adcock meets ‘Captive’ star David Oyelowo

As the gripping new crime drama Captive hits the UK, Darkmatters' Matt Adcock (@Cleric20) caught up with the lead star in London... (Read the: Darkmatters Captive review)

M. Why in world where we’re told people are disillusioned with God did you decide to make this film that has a Christian book at its core?

D. Because I don’t necessarily agree with that assessment. Never more has been more of a need for redemption – hope and finding out what God really is: which is Love… The two people in the film are not pursuing God but find that faith, grace and redemption intersect with them in this very dark situation that they find themselves in…

"bad times"

M. In the film there is a line where Brian describes himself as having a ‘demon in him’ – what are your thoughts on that?

D. Well, I’m a producer on the film and it was a line that I wanted in the film even though it was not in the original script. But he said that, it’s in Ashley’s book, he talked about feeling that he felt he had been possessed by a demon.

For me personally there is a physical, emotional life and a spiritual life and Brian had engaged in a very dark spiritual space to do what he did… He was taken over by something to do what he did – you can’t not have that in the movie.

"no hope?"

M. Could anyone have the capacity to act as Nichols did if pushed?

D. I don’t think everyone has it in them to be a murderer but we all have buttons within us and personalities whereby through nurture maybe nature – we can go to places that are fundamentally the opposite of ‘Godly’. You know ‘sin is sin’ – and I really struggled with playing a murderer.

M. You were scarily convincing can I just say

D. Why thank you, but I could identify (as a father of four) with the notion of being kept away from my children and what that could elicit within me, so there are things that can come along and push you to do things that you probably didn’t know were within you to do.

No one knows how they will react in situations like that but grace is grace and God is God.

"not so scary"

M. Do you think believers invest their time in overtly faith based films or just maybe ‘be’ Christians in wider films?

D. For me, I am not interested in preaching to the choir – I feel that anything that has an overt agenda cannot be good storytelling or art – it should be thought provoking rather than leading you to a clear agenda ridden opinion on the basis of the person who created the art. For me I want to make films that make you look at your life… and are films that even if you don’t come from a place of faith you can watch it and get something from it – even it’s just entertainment value.

"criminal pecks"

M. How much did you have to work out physically for the role?

D. Yeah, that was painful. Brian Nichols was an ex football player so was a big guy and I, as much as possible, especially when you play an actual person, you’ve got to get as much of an assimilation of the real person as possible…

You also want to play on the audience’s prejudices. You have this big black man who kills four people and then takes this diminutive white woman hostage, that does all kinds of things to your prejudices whether you’re black or white. And as a black person I was like ‘Do I really want to play the black guy who goes and murders people?’ but ultimately it was the humanity of the people involved that came out…

So yes it was a lot of time in the gym, a lot of work but my wife was very happy with it!

M. Thank you so much.

If interested in finding out more about the film or accessing useful materials you should visit:

Darkmatters Review: Captive

Captive (12a)

Dir Jerry Jameson

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20) - read: Matt's interview with David Oyelowo 

“I have a demon inside me”

How far do you have to go before you’re considered ‘beyond redemption’? That’s a key question at the heart of Captive, the impressive fact based crime drama based on hostage victim Ashley Smith’s account: Unlikely Angel.

"not your average mealtime"

The plot follows the heart-wrenching impact on two desperate people’s lives when convicted felon Brian Nichols (David ‘Martin Luther King in Selma’ Oyelowo) kidnaps drug addict Ashley Smith (Kate ‘Fantastic Four’ Mara). We get to witness a tense long night of the soul as Nichols holds Smith captive in her home after murdering four people during a frantic escape from the court (where he had just been convicted of rape). As a massive police manhunt rages across the State, Nichols lies low and finds himself interacting with Smith in ways that will potentially change both their lives.

A gritty true crime kidnap-em-up, Captive is at first glance a somewhat unlikely candidate to be a film that carries a heavyweight plug for the power of redemption featuring Christian Pastor Rick Warren’s best-selling book: The Purpose Driven Life. But much like the suitcase McGuffin in Pulp Fiction, Warren’s ‘Christian life motivation tome’ is an interesting element of the plot, which is used sparingly to thought provoking effect.


Director Jameson keeps the action tight and is aided by the powerful interaction of the two leads as they explores issues of including spiritual darkness, desperation and yes redemption but not in an overly saccharine preachy way. Mara is excellent as the twitchy troubled Smith whilst Oyelowo is simply outstanding as the mentally disturbed, psychotic Nichols, who believes that he is fighting a one-man war against his oppression.

Captive provides a strong depiction of two lost souls finding an understanding around their common ground of each having estranged children, which allows their humanity to seep through.

There is strong support from Mimi Rogers as Smith’s aunt who has custody of her daughter and Michael K. Williams as Detective John Chestnut - the lead investigator on the Police task force (who channels the energy of Wesley Snipes at his most dynamic).

"real fear"

Even as film shot through with spiritual energy you should be prepared for scenes of hard drug use and a truly brutal massacre that isn’t an easy watch.

Captive is an intense and tragic thrill ride that will leave you with much to contemplate.

As a Christian I was worried that this would fall into the risible category of twee faith films that are almost unwatchable due to their combination of low production values and Churchy 'cheese' but Captive deftly avoids those pitfalls and is thus highly recommended.

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


(3 - Faith, Redemption, Survival writ large)

Awesomeness ööö – the fear is tangible

Laughs ö – not a comedy vehicle

Horror ööö –  violent and disturbing in places

Spiritual Enlightenment öööö - redemption is for all

Click this banner to find and download some fantastic additional resources that explore the issues raised in CAPTIVE from @EthosMedia

Monday, September 21, 2015

Darkmatters Review: A Walk In The Woods

A Walk In The Woods (15)

Dir. Ken Kwapis

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

Read the newspaper version of Matt's review: The Tring Gazette

“Writers don't retire. We either drink ourselves to death or blow our brains out.”

Not just writers but also possible viewers of turgid films too... If you go down to the cinematic woods today, you’ll potentially be in for a new ‘comedy’ adventure based on celebrated travel writer Bill Bryson’s much loved book. A Walk in the Woods is the account of how Bryson (played by Robert Redford), challenged himself to hike the ‘Appalachian Trail’ which is over 2,000 miles of America's most unspoiled countryside from Georgia to Maine.

"I can pass for 44 right?"

I have to admit to not reading the book so can only take the film at on it’s merits and this was without doubt one of the most disappointing cinema experiences of the year.

Joining Bryson on his – was going to say midlife crisis walk as he was 44 when attempting this but as Redford is 79 is changes the dynamic somewhat – is his degenerate pal Steven Katz (Nick Nolte, 74). And whilst Redford might not be the dynamic, charismatic twinkle eyed smoothy he once was, Nolte is walking nightmare, bumbling about dropping F words and generally looking so out of shape that you fear this could turn into a snuff movie at any moment.

"remind me what I'm doing here again?"

It’s like seeing punch drunk former world champions suffering in the ring when it would have been a much more compelling movie (my lovely wife pointed out) if they had cast actors nearer the age of the characters in the book, maybe I’d pick Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper? Star of this show is Emma Thompson who is only on screen for about 8 minutes as Bryson’s left at home wife.

So it’s poor stilted dialogue and unfunny writing every step of the way – with a pervasive ‘haven’t I seen this before’ kind of déjà vu feel. Very few tired clichés are left unused and director Kwapis even manages to alienate the nature fans in the audience by limiting the incredible shots of the actual forest trail and focussing on the conversations and ‘antics’ of the two leads at the many hotels, cafes and erm, laundry breaks.

"most annoying walker ever?"

Redford and Nolte have both been undoubtedly great actors in their time but this feels like an indulgent quick paycheque of a movie for each of them. Ironically the theme of regrets in later life is brought very much front and centre when you consider that this ‘walk’ eats up almost two hours of your life that you are not going to get back.

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


(1.5 - Nolte, Nolte, very very Nolte...

Awesomeness öö – "just a walk in the 'Appalachian' Park Kazansky"

Laughs öö – awkward rather than funny

Horror ö – no pensioners were harmed in the making of this movie (alas)

Spiritual Enlightenment öö - not quite there and back again

Recommended Hashtags: #Hobbled

LINKAGE: A Walk In The Woods

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Darkmatters Review: LEGEND


Dir. Brian Helgeland

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

Read the newspaper version of Matt's review: Luton News

“They were twins. Reggie was a gangster prince of East End, Ronnie Kray was a one-man mob.”

Welcome back to London in the 1960s, where everyone had a story about the Krays – the larger than life, charismatic but deadly notorious criminals.

Director Brian Helgeland (who wrote the excellently brutal Man On Fire) goes about telling the Kray twin legend with gusto and pulls no punches.

"this isn't going to end well for someone"

Based on the biography ‘The Profession Of Violence: The Rise And Fall Of The Kray Twins’, Legend tells the bruising tale of the boys – flitting over their starting out in the local boxing club and jumping into the action from the ‘60s when they were well onto the path of their seemingly unstoppable ascent to become the most fear gangland bosses London had ever seen.

Tom Hardy who plays both Ronnie and Reggie is just incredible in the dual lead roles, capturing the easy charm / scary violence that was the core characteristics which set the brothers apart. The CGI used to allow Hardy to interact with himself is incredible, there is even a crunching Reg vs Ron fight that is flawlessly choreographed and shot.

"power play"

We get a voice over from Reggie’s sweetheart Frances Shea (Emily 'Sucker Punch' Browning) which helps show just how captivating the sway of the Krays was – and allows the viewer to witness the degenerating corruption of the human spirit that violently maintained power instils. Browning is fine but can’t help but feel like a weak link up against Hardy’s astonishing powerhouse performances.

The vicarious thrill that arrives in the wake of the immaculately attired Krays is like playing a 1960’s version of Grand Theft Auto as high-octane robberies, beatings, banter, murder and torture go hand in hand with flash cars and luxury lifestyle… There is also a surprising amount of dark humour flowing through the script which adds to the high overall entertainment value of the film.


Legend can’t help but glamorise the bad guy clique but manages to keep the threat and danger levels high and then also wades in with a heavy duty ‘crime doesn’t really pay in the long term’ message.

There are some nice supporting roles too - Taron 'Kingsman' Egerton catches the eye as Teddy - Ron's constant 'assistant' and Christopher Eccleston plays the straight cop on the trail of the Krays with steely conviction.

"they're behind you!"

Sharper and more fun than The Krays from 1990, although with a title like Legend it is probably a fair bit less accurate - this is a potentially iconic crime classic.

The Kray twins would very much like to make your re-acquaintance at the nearest cinema, don’t keep them waiting…

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


(4 - No sign of Tom Cruise in tights or any unicorns...)

Awesomeness öööö – strong biopic action

Laughs ööö – Brutal fun and criminally enjoyable

Horror ööö –  nasty brief violence in places

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - family can undo you

Sunday, September 06, 2015

Darkmatters Review: American Ultra

American Ultra (15)

Dir. Nima Nourizadeh (@nimanourizadeh)

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

“Something very weird is happening to me: I keep killing people! There's a chance I may be... a robot!”

I am a highly trained special agent – able to tackle any threat with little more than the objects around me. In my hands a dustpan becomes a means of decapitation, a spoon a potent murder weapon and a frying pan - a bullet deflecting trick shot bullet guidance device. But I’m not active like Borne or Bond, my name is Mike Howell (played here by Jesse Eisenberg), and I am a stoner convenience-store clerk. Life for me is a series of meaningless days, frequent panic attacks (which stop me from travelling) with the only high points thanks to my awesome girlfriend, Phoebe (Kristen Stewart).

"drug deal goes wrong"

Life goes on, I buy drugs from my dealer Rose (John Leguizamo) in order to get through the day but everything changes when a kill squad of heavily armed assassins come to take me out. Seems the boss at CIA has decided to wipe out all unused operatives and I’m on the hit list.

Director Nima ‘Project X’ Nourizadeh brings his ‘A’ game with American Ultra – an action comedy indie and thanks to screenwriter Max ‘Chronicle’ Landis, the film crackles with enough dark comedy alongside the crunchingly violent action.

Eisenberg is superb in the lead – wielding his winning geekiness and loveable charm even whilst cutting a swathe through the ranks of killers ranged against him. Stewart is a decent foil and proves to be surprisingly adept at helping Mike fight to survive.

"coffee man"

The romantic core of the film works well too – the running joke of Mike looking for the right moment to propose to Phoebe adds a feel good element which helps offset the genuinely jarring violence. Mike is a fun unwitting hero – a lethal slacker who’d rather be writing his graphic novel about an astronaut monkey than fighting off goons.

The bad guys are led by vicious but pitiable Yates (Topher ‘Predators’ Grace) whose team includes the seemingly unstoppable ‘Laugher’ (Walter ‘Sons of Anarchy’ Goggins) who has more than a little of Batman’s Joker vibe to him.


Also on hand are Tony ‘Arrested Development’ Hale, Connie Britton and Bill Pullman all offering good support.

American Ultra is a cool, adrenalin fuelled romp, which offers a great alternative to more mainstream action films. This is a cinematic hit you should definitely accept, man.

"don't mess with the clerk"

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


(4.5 - Everyone's getting smoked)

Awesomeness ööööö – superb action, backed up with fun

Laughs öööö – really funny

Horror ööö –  some crunching violence

Spiritual Enlightenment öö - love is like, important man