Tag Archives: Naomie Harris

Southpaw (2015)

15 Aug

Billy Hope (Jake Gyllenhaal) is the World Light Heavyweight Boxing Champion, enjoying a life of celebrity and wealth with his beautiful wife Maureen (Rachel McAdams) and daughter Leila (Oona Laurence). Billy’s life soon spirals out of control however, soon after losing his wife in a bizarre act of violence spurred on by a competing boxer.  The stakes are raised when Billy’s child is taken into custody by Child Protection Services, and it’s up to Billy to piece his life back together if he wants his daughter (yawn) back.

Southpaw is a gritty boxing film that tries to examine the lengths a father is willing to go to win back his daughter’s love; it sort of works. Starring alongside Racheal McAdams, Forest Whitaker, 50 Cent, and Naomie Harris, is Jake Gyllenhaal – a lumbering towering figure of muscle and pure rage. As always, Gyllenhaal makes for a captivating screen presence. With him, Southpaw makes for a watchable but barely enjoyable film; without him, the haphazard storytelling, and trite emotional punches bring the film to the ground faster than a KO’d novice boxer.

For such a cookie-cutter role, Gyllenhaal really does give a solid performance. It’s obvious he has completely sucked himself into the role, and everything from his cautious mannerisms to his accent-ridden, quavering voice bring sincerity to even the sappiest bits of dialogue. Unfortunately, there is too much sentimentality here to go around, and Southpaw dissolves into an enjoyable piece of melodrama at its best, and a formulaic lifetime-movie at it’s worst. Director Antoine Fuqua (Training Day, The Equalizer) is no stranger to violence or melodrama, but he seems to have outdone himself here. Thanks to lots of quick edits and dramatized chiaroscuro lighting, most of the action feels more like an uninspired music video than an effective way of advancing the plot.

Bottom Line:  While Gyllenhaal is surely worth watching, the majority of Southpaw spends too much effort building up an emotionally over-exhausted story. 

Rating: 5/10 

Film Recipe: Glory Road (2006) – Basketball + Rocky (1976) + “Believing in yourself”

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Skyfall (2012)

10 Nov

Bond is back and he is better than ever before.  Daniel Craig once again takes on the 007 persona in this latest addition to the James Bond franchise.  Sam Mendes, of American Beauty fame, directed Skyfall and he does a great job commanding both the action and characters in the film.

In Skyfall, a cyberterrorist has been plotting a serious of attacks against Britain’s MI6 headquarters, specifically directed against the organization’s leader, M. Bond, who has been presumed dead, must prepare himself to enter the field again against a new type of terrorist.  It basically boils down to old school training and gunfighting versus  new school gadgetry and computer hacking.

Javier Bardem, mostly known for his spine-chilling performance in 2007’s No Country For Old Men, plays Silva, the film’s villain, and once again he plays his role with perfection.  Seeing Bardem here somehow reaffirmed my thoughts on he deserved his oscar from No Country, as Bardem is an incredibly versatile and adaptable to any role. He never takes the limelight away from the film’s real star, who is this case, is Judi Dench for her portrayal of M.

Her usually-unsympathetic character somehow provides the film’s real emotion, as well as contrasting with Craig’s character as Bond, who is as cool and classy as ever.

The film, though not flawless, is one of the year’s best action movies.  The action sequences are a visual spectacle to witness and somehow maintain their realism while being completely over-the-top.  The opening scene in particular becomes a tumbling rush of energy when Bond takes control of a tractor and begins rolling over cars like they are soda cans, all the while chasing the bad guy on a speeding train of course.

Looking back there are few pacing issues with Skyfall; some scenes go on for a bit too long, or we expect dialogue when there is nothing but silence.  I also had an issue with one of Bond’s new toys, (a gun that can only fire in the hands of 007), but perhaps I’m just being nit-picky. Overall, Skyfall is a great tribute to the old-school Bond films of the past while setting the stage for the new-school Bond films of the future (and I have a funny feeling this won’t be the last time we see Craig as 007).

 

Rating: 7/10