We cover The Man From U.N.C.L.E, Legend, and Furious 7 in September’s Intermission podcast, as well as something of a potted recap of all of The Fast and the Furious franchise so far. If it’s not the best podcast you listen to all month, we’ll give you double your money back. YOU SIMPLY CANNOT LOSE.
The Man From U.N.C.L.E
First up is Guy Ritchie’s latest, a big screen outing for the 60’s TV show that walks up to the border of outright parody before dialling back just enough to be taken sort-of seriously. After passing though nearly everyone in Hollywood, we have wound up with Henry Cavill as the unflappable CIA agent Napoleon Solo and Armie Hammer as the KGB agent with anger control issues Illya Kuryakin as they initially clash over extracting Alicia Vikander’s Gaby from East Germany, before all teaming up to try and stop a terrorist agency that’s using Gaby’s father’s research to spread cheap, easily made nuclear weapons to countries the superpowers take a dim view of. Made with largely the same knockabout tone of Ritchie’s recent Sherlock films, it’s constrained somewhat by a cast clearly being instructed to conform to a pretty narrow stereotype, and the plot in general is somewhat lacklustre, but there’s enough style on display, both through Ritchie’s handling and the period accents of 60’s Italy, to make this an easy, if far from genre-redefining, watch. Mildly recommended.
Brian Helgeland and Tom Hardy would seem like a pair of safe pairs of hands, although with Hardy taking on the role of both Ronnie and Reggie Kray, the notorious Laaahhhnndaaaahn psychopaths of the 60’s organised crime scene, there is perhaps a sense that he’s bitten off more than he can chew, but he’s put in a very commendable performance. The other aspects of the film don’t fare quite so well, however. While it does a half decent job of showing how the pair became so feared, respected, and ultimately, bizarrely, celebrated, it comes off a little flat.
The seventh instalment of the The Fast and the Furious franchise reflects the general insanity on display in the film by continuing the wildly inconsistent film-naming conventions. We spend a little bit of time delving into the past to see how on earth we got to where we are, from its roots as a film mainly concerned with street racing and honour amongst thieves to its current incarnation, which appears to be set in an alternate reality where physics, sense and basic scriptwriting no longer apply. Pretty much everyone previously involved in the films shows up to unite and take down an enraged Jason Statham, playing a bad guy so over the top overpowered that you’d really need to be bringing the comic book superhero teams in. Thankfully, Vin Diesel, The Rock and Paul Walker have gained commensurate superpowers, including the ability to manifest cars from the ether, which gives them a fighting chance. Having not seen any of the recent films, the stylistic turnabout to out and out action with a passing reference to driving made a real shock to the system, not helped by a wandering plot and the most consistently ham-fisted dialogue I may have ever heard. It’s big, it’s daft, but it’s not really a great amount of fun for all of that, and that’s really all we’re after. We’d recommend a pass on this, in the unlikely event you haven’t already seen it.
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