Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Horrible Bosses 2 – It’s Always Funny . . . May be a Slight Overstatement

Charlie Day, Jason Bateman and Andy Sudeikis are back in the sequel to 2011’s ‘Horrible Bosses’; a movie I haven’t seen, but one I'd heard reasonably good things about.

From what I can gather, the first film consisted of the three leads teaming up to off their ‘horrible bosses’. An endeavour that left *spoilers* Kevin Spacey in prison, (the downright creepy) Jennifer Aniston visiting a sex addiction help group, Colin Farrell dead and the three guys with a brilliant new showering product.

This time round, Christoph Waltz’s Bert Hanson is their target after he drops out of a deal over the ‘Shower Buddy’. The gang (‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’ reference #1) are forced to seek revenge and they plan to kidnap Hanson’s obnoxious son, Rex (Chris Pine, who seems slightly too comfortable playing a slimy little jerk).

And that’s the movie, essentially. Obviously, things don’t go quite as planned and there are a number of predictable cock-ups along the way, resulting in a drab car chase finale (another example of an otherwise broad comedy aiming for action comedy, and failing).

But, it’s not all bad. The cast are undeniably strong and they manage to draw some laughs out of the lacklustre script, but none of them really hit top gear. In fact, Spacey’s slight cameo brings a whole new meaning to phoning it in. The real gem here, though, is Day who’s the go-to-guy for charming buffoon-ary. But, his role never really extends beyond his It’s Always Sunny character. Just, this time round, the writing’s not as sharp, the comedy’s not as dark and the production values are offputtingly glossy.

Like that show, the writers go for an interruptive approach to the comedy that sees the three guys spending half the movie talking over each other and bickering about this that and the other. It’s fine, but it’s not Sunny.

‘Horrible Bosses 2’ is a by-the-numbers American studio comedy with a great cast and some undeniably funny scenes, but little else. Passable, but uninspiring.


*A big thank you to the Film Distributors' Association (FDA) for hosting the screening*

Friday, 14 November 2014

The Raid 2 – A Ballet of Blood

Well, what can I say . . .

Gareth Evans (director) has done it again.

‘The Raid 2’ rocks!

Picking up from where we left Rama (Iko Uwais) in ‘The Raid’, this sequel forces our hero-cop even further into the bowels of the Jakartan criminal underworld. And, as the kill count rises, the true web of deceit and double-crosses is slowly revealed to us; dead flies and all.

In this regard, The Raid 2 is far more narratively ambitious than it’s predecessor and Evans obviously spent a great deal of time working through the intricacies of the system of gangs and clans. While he does have a tendency to bombard us with names, the drama is always compelling and far from superficial. In fact, by the time we reach the finale, there’s a huge amount riding on every switch of allegiance.

The result is a slow-burn, but undoubtedly epic, crime drama . . . and that’s without the Raid-y bits.

Picture ‘The Godfather’; take off the suits, fly to Indonesia and replace the guns with fists and you’ve got The Raid 2. Uwais leads the charge with a powerhouse performance displaying every ounce of his superhuman physicality. Evans matches the visceral thrills of the first film by the first fight and then continues to up the ante with increasingly complex set pieces.

One car chase, in particular, demonstrates Evans unparalleled directorial flare. He does things with a camera that I’ve never – and I repeat, never – seen anyone do. Matching Steve McQueen’s (the director, not the actor) remarkable eye for painterly visuals, Evans draws a heartbreaking beauty out of the carnage. His camera acts as our unflinching eye into this world of chaos.

Evans has done the virtually unimaginable and delivered a worthy sequel to the greatest action movie of our generation. But that begs the question; does The Raid 2 improve on that? Yes, you know, I think it does. In fact, I know I’m not the only one to say this, but The Raid 2 may well be the greatest action movie of all time.