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Tag: Emily Blunt

QuickView: The Fall Guy (2024)

“I’m not the hero of this story; I’m just the stunt guy.”

Colt Seavers

I have a soft spot for David Leitch, the stuntman-turned-director, who has produced some of the most creative and reliably entertaining action films of the last decade, particularly as the once-staple action comedy has fallen out of favour. Loosely based on an 80s TV show of the same name, The Fall Guy is an ode to Leitch’s former profession, with a stuntman reluctantly returning to work only to find himself immersed in real danger as he hunts for a missing movie star. The subject matter becomes increasingly meta as a number of action sequences flit between moviemaking stunts and the finished cinematic product, a further layer added during the credits which provide the film’s actual stunt crew with their moment in the spotlight. The heart of The Fall Guy is a love story, evident from the opening blast of “I Was Made For Lovin’ You”, which is used not only as a recurring needle-drop but woven throughout Dominic Lewis’s bombastic score which combines orchestra, 80s synth and rock. Ryan Gosling shines, by turns charismatic and jaded, with guileless sleuthing reminiscent of his role in The Nice Guys. Emily Blunt’s Jodie is more rounded than a mere love interest, her bitterness selling the romance as much as the pair’s chemistry. Meanwhile the supporting cast provides colourful caricatures of Hollywood archtypes. The acting allows us to buy in, but ultimately The Fall Guy is only as good as its action choreography — fortunately it delivers, from a checklist of classic action shots to fresh variations on familiar stunts with clever flourishes. This is all more than entertaining enough to overlook a few plotholes — expect to laugh and spend a significant portion of the two hour running time grinning inanely.

8/10

QuickView: Oppenheimer (2023)

“They won’t fear it until they understand it. And they won’t understand it until they’ve used it. Theory will take you only so far.”

J. Robert Oppenheimer

Based on the book American Prometheus, Christopher Nolan has crafted a Charlie Kaufman-esque biopic that is as much about the concept of political myth-making as it is about Oppenheimer himself, a brilliant physicist whose self-importance was matched only by his actual importance to the war effort in the 1940s. After years of supporting roles, Cillian Murphy finally takes centre stage in a Nolan production and his powerful portrayal of the conflicted scientist is multifaceted and captivating. Nolan presents him as a man who saw beyond the world at a time when it was pivoting, quantum physicists around the globe seemingly drawn to one another by their ideas as they replaced the old guard. This is also an unusual use of the IMAX format, filled with close-ups showing incredibly expressive facial detail rather than grandiose imagery. As is often the case with Nolan, the social aspects are the least convincing: Florence Pugh in particular is ill-used, with Oppenheimer’s popularised quotation from the Bhagavad Gita unnecessarily tied to a sex scene. Although the Manhattan Project provides the meat of the film, Oppenheimer uses a framing device of two committee hearings after the war that sought to discredit him for his communist connections and opposition to the arms race. These provide layers of nuance to the character study, the stark black and white providing an external viewpoint whilst colour presents Oppenheimer’s subjective perspective. This structure is not an unreserved success, leading to repetition and bloat — at first it seems the framing is being used to allow the film to culminate with the Trinity nuclear test; in fact there is a full hour of political machination which follows. The Trinity test itself is perfect for Nolan’s cinematic vision, eking out tension despite our knowledge of its success, and using the medium to transport us to this defining moment — a blinding light and fiery conflagration in silence as time seems to hang before sound rushes in with the shockwave. Oppenheimer casts doubt on US propaganda about the necessity of the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to end the war, though it is disappointingly indirect. However the far more direct use of haunting imagery intrusively plaguing Oppenheimer is effective in communicating his disturbance by the destructive power he helped to unleash, ultimately wishing to be remembered for the invention but not its use.

8/10

QuickView: A Quiet Place Part II (2020)

“There are people out there. People worth saving.

Evelyn Abbott

Sequels are a precarious prospect, particularly when continuing the narrative of a high concept breakout hit like A Quiet Place, which was never envisioned as the start of a franchise. Aside from an opening flashback to the arrival of the creatures, A Quiet Place Part II unfolds over a handful of days after the first film’s ending. Lee’s sacrifice to save his children in A Quiet Place leaves a significant hole in the excellent family dynamic, though one of the themes is Regan and Marcus discovering that they each have their father’s strength of character. The physical void is ably filled by Cillian Murphy, with a character who is not simply a replica of Krasinski’s. Whilst the narrative may be thin, Krasinksi’s assured direction delivers a solid second outing which still effectively ratchets tension despite the creatures being a known quantity and in full view from the start. Midway through Part II, he opts to split the group up, leading to a wonderfully edited sequence that cuts rapidly between simultaneous attacks, the use of tonal similarities heightening the suspense rather than detracting from it. The sound design is once again exceptional, although there is less use of Regan’s hearing impaired perspective than one might expect when she takes off alone.

7/10

QuickView: A Quiet Place (2018)

A Quiet Place quad poster

“Who are we if we can’t protect them? We have to protect them.”

Evelyn Abbott

John Krasinski’s second feature-length directorial outing is excellent, tightly constrained, high concept survival horror with an emphasis on tone. The conceit of blind reptilian creatures with incredible hearing is perfect for film, allowing for tense sequences that do not rely on darkness masking what we can see. Some of the film’s tensest moments occur in broad daylight, although its final act still unfolds at night. The excellent sound design demands watching in a quiet environment or with headphones. We learn about the characters gradually (it is a film best experienced with as little knowledge as possible), with their depth coming from broader themes about family, grief and guilt. Like many such films, narrative holes emerge upon close inspection, but that does not detract at all from the exhaustingly atmospheric experience Krasinski has crafted.

8/10

"A film is a petrified fountain of thought."

(CC) BY-NC 2003-2023 Priyan Meewella

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