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Showing posts from November, 2015

Whatever’s in that package, it’s absolutely vital that I get hold of it. If I don’t, well, governments will fall, chaos will ensue.

The Avengers 2.5: Propellant 23
With a title that invokes Robert Anton Wilson’s most celebrated of occult numbers, one might have expected dark dabblings to ensue. But Propellant 23is a remarkably low-key affair, its action revolving around a Marseilles airport and Steed and Cathy’s quest for a flask of Chinese rocket fuel.

The plot is propelled by who will get their hands on said item first, since the man (Meyer, played by Frederick Schiller) carrying the flask dies of a (suspected) heart attack on arriving at the airport. As a result, the various parties engage in some fairly clumsy detective work trying to track it down, arousing the suspicions of airport security chief Roland (Ralph Nossek), if not his less guarded subordinates and staff. Before long Steed is persona non grata, having attempted a break-in, and it’s up to Mrs Gale to do the nosing around. And she too instantly manages to tip Roland off that she’s snooping.

Steed: Whatever’s in that package, it’s absolutely vital that I…

There are no serial killers in the Soviet state. It is a decadent western phenomenon.

Citizen X (1995)
(SPOILERS) Twenty years ago, HBO made an extremely decent TV movie (surprising, I know, HBO making extremely decent TV) about the Andrei Chikatilo serial killer case. Low key, fairly unpolished, but superbly scripted and acted, Citizen X knocks the recent Child 44 into a cocked ushanka.

Chris Gerolmo’s Hollywood career hasn’t been too prolific, the screenplay for Mississippi Burning aside. This was his first directorial effort, and it’s a bit rough around the edges (yet conversely featuring some nice, simple touches), but the quality of his script is unquestionable. Based on Robert Cullen’s The Killer Department, Citizen X documents the decade-long quest to capture the first (recognised) Soviet serial killer, a mission continually hampered by bureaucracy and propaganda.

Victor Burakov (Stephen Rea) a forensic specialist tasked with examining the first eight bodies (the victims would end up numbering 52) found buried and decaying on a collective farm in 1982, is appointed…

Stalin tells us that murder is strictly a capitalist disease.

Child 44 (2015)
(SPOILERS) I’m unable to attest to the quality of Tom Rob Smith’s best-selling airport novel of the same name, but Child 44 carries with it the sort of sterling cast that screams “prestige adaptation”. Certainly, that’s what I hoped for, despite the resoundingly scathing reviews. Unfortunately, they aren’t wrong. Maybe the actors were somehow hoodwinked into signing up, as this movie is a woeful piece of unmitigated pulp, its potential drowned in an unwieldy plot (one that seems to forget what it’s supposed to be about half the time) and directed with the same indiscriminatingly flashy eye that actually benefited Daniel Espinosa’s previous Safe House.

Given the lurid subject matter (it’s based on the 1980s case of the first officially identified Soviet-era serial killer Andrei Chikatilo, albeit set three decades earlier, with activities here confined to the murder of boys) and the oppressively totalitarian fear-based setting, perhaps everyone thought something diligently …

You shouldn’t have asked about Dubai.

Survivor (2015)
If James McTeigue’s sub-Salt agent-on-the-run thriller had a self-awareness and sense of humour about its unbridled idiocy, it might feasibly have become really good fun. Instead, it’s left to Pierce Brosnan’s assassin, “the best operative in the business” to bring the entertainment value. He thunders through the proceedings as if a permanent bad smell is lingering just under his nose, while Milla Jovovich’s titular Survivor is left wearing a permanent startled expression, the only one her rictus face seems able to convey.

Presumably no one thought much of Survivor’s box office prospects as it went to video on demand in the US, accompanied by a few grudging (probably contractual) cinema screenings. McTeigue only seems capable of delivering when he has the Wachowski siblings to mentor him, which may explain why he ended up plumping for this cheapie shot entirely in London and Bulgaria (despite a Times Square finale on New Year’s Eve). His action occasionally passes muster …