Entries in Daniel Craig (6)

Friday
Dec222017

Logan Lucky- review

 

“Logan Lucky” (2017)

Directed by Steven Soderbergh

Starring Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, Daniel Craig

Running Time 158 Minutes, Rated PG-13

3 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

Director Steven Soderbergh is back.  After his short self imposed early retirement, which I didn’t believe in much anyways the Oscar winning director is back and that’s a good thing.  Soderbergh puts a rural spin on his most commercially successful films; Ocean’s 11, 12, and 13 with “Logan Lucky”.  Channing Tatum and Adam Driver are the ‘unlucky’ Logan brothers who decide to take back something for themselves with a heist during the Charlotte Motor Speedway.

 

Breezy is a good way to describe this film, but I would say it’s even better described as cool glass of lemonade on a very hot day.  It won’t do more than quench your thirst for that moment, but for its nearly two hour running time, I was quenched.  Shout out to Daniel Craig playing bigger comedically than I’ve seen him do before. Also, was it just me, or did Tatum put on a few pounds for this role?  That’s commendable commitment in what turned out to be on deaf ears as this film did nothing at the box office.  

Consider yourself lucky and watch this film.

Matthew 5:6

 

Thursday
Nov192015

Spectre- review

 

“Spectre” (2015)

Directed by Sam Mendes

Starring  Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Léa Seydoux

Running Time 148 Minutes, Rated PG-13

2.5 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

In short, the latest 24th installment in the James Bond series suffers from Star Trek: Into Darkness-itis. Homage is one thing, but just like J.J. Abrams got a little too cutesy with bringing back beloved canon, so does Sam Mendes.  Too me, this retreading doesn’t pay respect to each series’ creative forefathers, but instead, just reeks of running out of ideas.  

I did not grow up with Sean Connery, so he is not my Bond.  I did grow up with Pierce Brosnan, but he is not my Bond either, the blonde and brooding Daniel Craig is.  “Casino Royale” gave me the dark Bond that resonates more any that came before Craig and “Skyfall” gave me what I consider the most complete Bond film to date.  Oscar winning director Sam Mendes is responsible for “Skyfall”, and the greatness of that film definitely outweighs the mediocrity of “Spectre”.  Mendes and Craig look like they’re on their way out, and unfortunately “Spectre” won’t have them going out on top.

 

Bond is closer than ever getting to the head of the worldwide new world order crime syndicate that is Spectre. The opening sequence in Mexico City got a lot of people revved up, but not me. As a whole, the action in this film is extraordinarily mundane for a Bond film.  While French actress Lea Sydoux brings a lot of energy to her character, the romance between her and the much older Craig seems awkward at best.   The saddest thing was the wasting of Christoph Waltz who can’t seem to shine through unless Tarantino is casting him.  Mendes strangles the flow of the film with Waltz’s poorly planned homage.  It stops everything in it’s tracks as more knowledgeable fans will easily point out that tribute, and that other tribute, and that other other needless tribute.

“Spectre” isn’t necessarily a bad film, it’s just a bad Bond film.

Luke 1:23

 

Monday
Nov122012

Skyfall- review

“Skyfall”(2012)
Directed by Sam Mendes
Starring Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem
Running Time 143 Minutes, Rated PG-13
4 Mitch’s out of 5
Mitch Hansch/ movieswithmitch.com

Daniel Craig made James Bond relevant for me.  Stripped bare from the goofy gadgets and the cartoon implausible action that embarrassed the Bronson years,  Craig’s  Bond embodies the cold, scraggly, and tortured soul infused with a blinding ego, perfectly suited as the blunt killing force to serve and protect mother England. I’m moved by the brutal force of Craig’s 007 and by the fact for the three films he’s been Bond there’s been an unparalleled commitment to figuring out what makes this man tick.  That and the action is friggen awesome to the max yo’.

In the franchise's 50th year, “Skyfall” is its 23rd feature to date, and it’s darker than ever.  A tremendous opening scene has Bond motorcycling on Istanbul rooftops, playing surgeon with the end of a train, and being shot off a bridge into a rushing river for dead.  This dissolves into the best Bond credit sequence to date, as Adele’s co-written song of the film’s title plays over director Sam Mendes macabre visuals.  Oscar winning director of “American Beauty”, Mendes gives the dark dramatic intelligence that he’s known for while being more than game for high stakes action.  

Believed to be dead, Bond drinks his nights away on sunny beaches.  MI6 chief, M, (played by Judi Dench for the seventh time) even writes his obituary.  M is under much heat from Mallory (Ralph Fiennes), Chairman of Intelligence, over the lost hard drive from Bond’s last mission that contains all MI6 agents real identities. The hard drive ends up in the hands of former MI6 agent Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem), the now turned cyber terrorist with major mum issues.  When Silva blows up the MI6’s headquarters, Bond utilizes his hobby of resurrection and decides to suit up once again for the Queen and country.   

Bardem knows how to play bad.  You can tell he relishes the villain mask and has the sick imagination to back it up.  Although he has another bad hairdo, Silva is no Anton Chigurh as he’s almost under utilized.  

The best scenes come from the relationship between Dench’s M and Craig’s Bond.  Their complex relationship of boss and prized employee also takes the time to comment on how they have to wage war with enemies that have no names and no borders to define their loyalties.

The adrenaline isn’t as high as it was in Casino Royale, but Mendes still finds ways to involve the gorgeous backdrops of Shanghai skyscrapers where fight scenes play like a ballet and even uses man eating komodo dragon lizards in a way that somehow doesn't come off too silly.  Mendes got his first choice with cinematographer Roger Deakins (The Shawshank Redemption, No Country For Old Men), and our eyes are very thankful for all the locals: From the neo glam of Shanghai to the dusty golden hue of Macau to the silhouettes of a bawmy Scotland.  

Craig has two Bond films left on his five picture contract, and I’m very excited to see where they go next with a man who may have nothing left to take from him.

I’m very excited to see where they go next with a man who may have nothing left to take from “this”.

Romans 6:5

Friday
Dec302011

The Girl With Dragon Tattoo- review

 

“The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” (2011)
Directed by David Fincher
Starring Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara and Christopher Plummer
Running Time 158 Minutes, Rated R.
4 Mitch’s out of 5
Mitch Hansch/ movieswithmitch.com

I didn’t read Stieg Larsson’s best selling thriller, “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo”, because you don’t have to wait long for those to get made into movies.  I didn’t watch Niels Arden Oplev‘s 2009 Swedish film by the same name because you don’t have to wait long for Hollywood to remake international blockbusters.  So now, it’s all fresh to me like all the Harry Potter films were (didn’t read a one) and David Fincher rewards my patience with his version.  Stupid American.

Even though that formula would quite often work out for you, the truth is I did not take that route on purpose, I just never got around to the revered Swedish take and just so you know- I read the first Harry Potter book- and I plan to get around to the rest when the rest are put on tape in gift form.  So while everybody will be making the comparisons between Oplev versus Fincher’s direction or Noomi Rapace versus Rooney Mara’s iconic Lisbeth performance, I will not.

Right from the opening credit sequence that involves a sadomasochistic-black rubbery-weird bondage motif with a Led Zeppelin cover you can see Fincher’s slick execution taking hold of his usual dark storytelling. Fincher brings back Trent Reznor from The Social Network for an even more in your face score that damns subtlety and embraces punk angst.  “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” is also served well by Steven Zaillian‘s script that embraces the oddities of its two leads who don’t come together until the third act.  Rapists, serial killers, Nazi’s, and so much more with darkened tones is David Fincher’s way of Season’s Greetings.

Recently disgraced journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) is hired by wealthy island owner Henrik Vanger, played by Christopher Plummer taking a page from Max von Sydrow, to solve a family member murder 40 years ago that has long gone cold.  Along the way Blomkvist is knee-high in Vanger family quarrels, and through above average detective skills, uncovers a bevy of female murders, unleashing a strong message of men who hate women.  

Larsson’s novel and Zaillian’s script give us vengeance justified with a female lead like no other in Lisbeth Salander played by Rooney Mara.  Rooney Mara, who you know from the first five minutes of “The Social Network”, gives an absolute star making performance as the violently troubled bi-sexual computer genius. Lisbeth isn’t much for extraneous conversation, which can be hard to keep interesting for the audience, but Mara’s intensely brave portrayal accomplishes more than just interest, it accomplishes fascination.  Still under the ward of the state, Lisbeth’s social welfare worker is the worst of men.  Two anal-rape scenes show you the injustices to Lisbeth and her ‘an eye for an eye’ way of living.  

“The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” may not be as smart as it wants to be, and I never reached the edge of my seat.  There’s a Lord of the Rings multi-ending that isn’t much for holding tension but like the “..Rings” Fincher’s expertise has characters interesting enough to follow for 158 minutes.

Expertise has “this” interesting enough to follow for 158 Minutes.

 

 

Friday
Dec302011

The Adventures of Tintin- review

 

"The Adventures of Tintin" (2011)
Directed by Steven Spielberg
Starring Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis and Daniel Craig
Running Time 107 Minutes, Rated PG.
2.5 Mitch’s out of 5
Mitch Hansch/ movieswithmitch.com

Either you can get past the Mo-Cap still-creepy-looking-human-animation, or you can’t.  As for me, they give me the heeby-jeeby’s with their lifeless eyes and dead expressions.   So if visionaries Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson haven’t got it right yet, than that tells me the science isn’t close to being perfected.  “The Adventures of Tintin” won’t give you nightmares like the Tom Hanks zombie in Robert Zemeckis’ “The Polar Express”, but the live-action heights of “Avatar” and “The Rise of the Planet of the Apes” it has not reached.

Spielberg, a fan of the post WW-ll comic books from artist Georges Remi who went by the pen name of Herge, sadly chose the motion capture route to tell his adaptation of Tintin.  While Spielberg is allowed to have his camera roaming all over the place giving us glimpses of “Raiders of the Lost Arc” spectacular-like action, those are but a mere few set pieces in an otherwise jumbled “Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” outcome.   

Much of the money was spent on the film's talent.  Jaimie Bell plays the titled Tintin, a newspaper reporter with an insatiable drive for the truth who acts likes he’s in his twenties but looks like he just hit puberty. When Tintin comes upon an antique model ship that has many secrets, he is met by the opposition of Rackham, evilly voiced by Daniel Craig, who also wants the ship and (is it just me) looks like an evil Steven Spielberg. Andy Serkis who’s better known for his portrayal of Gollum and King Kong plays the drunkard Captain Haddock who befriends Tintin on his journey.  Serkis gets to ham it up as he adds to his mo-cap resume that will one day award him an Honorary Oscar.  Also along on the trail are Thomson and Thompson, two bumbling policemen voiced by the comedic duo of Nick Frost and Simon Pegg.   

Captain Haddock’s alcoholism is poorly used for comedic purposes.  To flesh out a family secret, Tintin’s trusty K-9 sidekick Snowy knows that only giving him the sauce will do the job- not my ideal message to the youngsters who are bound to respond to the film more than adults will.  Paced poorly, we’re left with flashbacks doing more of the storytelling than the characters we’re following.  “The Adventures of Tintin” left this viewer unimpressed.

“This” left this viewer unimpressed.

 

 

Monday
Aug012011

Cowboys and Aliens- review

"Cowboys and Aliens" (2011)
Directed by Jon Favreau
Starring Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Olivia Wilde
Running Time 118 Minutes,  Rated PG-13
2 Mitch’s out of 5
Mitch Hansch/ movieswithmitch.com

Peanut butter and mayo sandwiches.  Political parties and compromise.  Women and contentment. They’re not what you think of when it comes to ideal matches, but somebody somewhere down the road has tried it and have even liked it.  So what would happen if you meshed the film genre of western with alien invasion sci-fi and go for summer blockbuster entertainment?  (Glad you asked) In the case of “Cowboys and Aliens” you get a stellar cast that’s wasted by director Jon Favreau’s inability to take a different idea and truly make it something different.  

A mysterious fella (Daniel Craig) wakes up in the hot Arizona desert with no memory of how he got there or who he is.  We know nothing about him except that he has a nasty wound by his stomach, a picture of a woman, and a mechanical bracelet we later find out shoots powerful light bullets (lasers).  We also know because of Craig that if you stare in his steely blue eyes for too long you’ll get lost.  If I ever meet the actor I’ll make sure to have my google maps app on me.    

He learns his name is Jake Lonergan (solid western name) when he sees it on a wanted flier.  Grievances come from ex-colonel Woodrow Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford) who brings in the towns only money with his cattle.  Other familiar characters of the era include a ill-respected barkeep played by the great but underused here Sam Rockwell, the just sheriff (Keith Carradine), a white raised Native American played by Adam Beach who I don’t know if he’s typecast as the guy you call for handsome Native American roles (he was even in the t.v. film Cowboys and Indians: The J.J. Harper Story ) or he does it for heritage pride or both.  Olivia Wilde (Tron: Legacy) plays Emma with a mysterious beauty about her that’s appropriate with a secret of her own.  Any disputes amongst them take a back seat on the horse when bright lights from the sky become dragonfly looking spaceships blowing things up and abducting some of the town folk.

Everyone in the cast more than holds there own, even Ford who overcomes early scenes where his raspy voices drowns out everything else.  Trouble is after the aliens invade, nothing much happens besides gun fights and lasers.  Beside a few gothic set designs that catch your eye nothing much generates excitement.         

(Beginning of rant) Every time you make a film that includes evil aliens you’re going to be compared to Ridley Scott’s “Alien” and rightfully so.  If you’re intention is to create alien creatures that are designed to be menacing with evil intentions but ignite no fear or suspense into the audience then the “Cowboys and Aliens” alien is the quintessential blueprint.  Nine times out of eight a CGI creature will never have the emotional attachment that costumes, puppetry, and makeup create; and Favreau’s computer generated dullards are no different.  John Carpenter's masterpiece, The Thing has a prequel being released this October 14th, and I will bet you a million-gillion-bazillion dollars (don’t worry, I’m good for it) that the latter CGI treatment won’t hold a grotesque-shape-shifting-alien-candle to Rob Bottin’s wonderfully terrifying special makeup and design work of the original.  Oh, and another thing, babies and puppies are adorable! (End of rant)

There’s no fear in this film, unless you count a fear of a long running time.  Everything is explained to you, right down to the aliens motive for invasion (which you can mark under the file: things that make you go hmmm).    How wonderful this tale might have been by taking the staples of a Sergio Leone western and immersing that lonesome gunslinger into an unexplainable H.P. Lovecraft type fear where we the viewer would have to fill in the blanks with our own imagination.       

“This” would have to fill in the blanks.