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Review: Trance

Cinema Review

tranceAt least my second trip to the cinema didn’t involve a carefully planned trek across the city since this film is showing at the local multiplex. This violent gory crime thriller from Danny Boyle is smart and full of misdirection and it had my attention throughout. I’ve a feeling I’ll get more out of a second viewing since it is a film that has a reveal in the last act that changes what you know but this is set-up earlier in the film. I’m a sucker for crime thrillers with convoluted plots and this film certainly delivers.

This film starts out as a heist film with a light-hearted cheerful voice-over from Simon (James McAvoy) a junior auctioneer at a large auction house who gives us a bit of background on the subject of art heists from auction houses that has resulted in increased security measures by the auction houses and staff being drilled on the procedures to protect the art while keeping themselves safe. Then Simon mentions that the thieves have also upped their game in response to these measures.

This leads straight into the heist itself. Goya’s Floating Witches is up for sale when the thieves strike with smoke bombs in the auction room while other members of the gang take care of the security. Simon grabs the painting and takes it to the safe and the security procedures all go to plan but one of the thieves Franck (Vincent Cassel) is waiting by the safe. He orders Simon to hand over the painting but for some reason Simon grabs a taser from Franck and zaps him in the back of the neck. This only pisses off Franck who smacks Simon over the head with the taser then he grabs the painting and runs.

Simon ends up in hospital getting emergency surgery to treat the injury to his head. Meanwhile Franck discovers that all he has stolen is an empty picture frame and the painting is missing. As soon as he gets out of hospital Simon gets grabbed by Franck’s gang who beat and torture him to find out what he did with the painting but it’s useless because he has amnesia and genuinely can’t remember. Franck even gets confirmation from the doctor at the hospital who can’t do anything medically to help restore Simon’s memory but suggests hypnotherapy might work.

Going with the doctor’s suggestion Franck gets Simon to pick a hypnotherapist and he chooses Elizabeth Lamb (Rosario Dawson). Simon is told to get her to help without revealing what they are really after so he tells her that he is after his lost car keys. Elizabeth knows that Simon is not telling her the truth and quickly finds out his real name. She succeeds in helping him to find the car keys but not the painting so Franck wants Simon to try again.

This time Elizabeth knows what is really going on and she wants in on it. She insists that Simon is subconsciously blocking his memories because he thinks Franck and his gang will kill him once they have the painting. Elizabeth has to make Simon feel safe before she can unlock his memory of where he left the painting.

From this point the film starts twisting around quite a bit and characters and motives shift around as it turns out that the painting is the not the only thing that has been stolen but so have Simon’s memories. When the film does come to its final twist it has being set-up with enough hints so it certainly doesn’t come out of the blue and while surprising it does make sense.

This is an interesting crime thriller that reminds me of Danny Boyle’s earlier more intimate films like Shallow Grave. Rosario Dawson and Vincent Cassel deliver great performances and James McAvoy is certainly convincing as the lovable rogue and though the changes in his character are bit less convincing he does give it a go. This film looks great and it has a decent soundtrack but then Boyle is film-maker who knows how to make good use of music. It is pretty brutal at times there are a couple of memorable gory scenes. There’s also sex and nudity from all three leads though not all at the same time.

Rating 7.5/10

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Posted by on March 29, 2013 in Entertainment

 

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Film Review: Unstoppable

In a rail yard in Pennsylvania a total idiot called Dewey (Ethan Suplee who plays Earl’s brother Randy in My Name is Earl) screws up badly while driving a massive freight train No.777. This train is full of dangerous cargo so Dewey naturally enough doesn’t bother connecting the air brakes then jumps off the train to change points. The train speeds off without him. Disaster looms but the scale is not quite grasped as they think the train is coasting without power

We learn a bit about rookie conductor Will (Chris Pine) and experienced driver Frank Barnes (Denzel Washington). Union and company politics means Frank faces enforced retirement to make way for younger cheaper workers such as Will Colson (and of course Dewey). Will screws up by attaching five too many cars to the train but Frank keeps going instead of going back and detaching the other cars.

Connie Hooper (Rosario Dawson) the yard master gets her chief welder Ned Oldham along with Dewey and another idiot Gilleece to try and intercept the train at a siding. That’s when they realise the train is not coasting but is going full throttle and will very likely go off the rails in a heavily populated area, mostly likely into a large fuel dump in the town of Stanton just positioned right under a large S-bend in an elevated section of the track and seemingly designed to result in maximum carnage.

Before that we have a train that is full of school kids on a special train safety awareness trip and their train is heading straight for 777. The tension builds as precious little angels sing stupid rail safety songs and the driver turns into a siding and narrowly avoids blood and death for himself and all the little brats.

When 777 obliterates a horse box the media soon take an interest. Police and media helicopters buzz around the train and the company vice-president of train operations Oscar Galvin takes charge of trying to stop 777. His mad plan is getting a little train to push it from the front to slow it down enough for a helicopter to smash an ex-marine on a rope into the window of the drivers cabin. As you’d expect hitting the runaway train with a smashed up marine on rope does very little to slow it down very much. And for extra fun the little train that couldn’t derails in a ball of flames and a dead driver.

After Franks and Will’s train has a close encounter with 777 (thanks to the five extra cars) Frank comes up with a plan a little less psychotic than Galvin’s. After Galvin fails yet again with a plan to derail the train in a little town it’s all up to Frank and Will to stop 777.

I really liked the action scenes and the use of the news clips was quite well done – nice way to build up the tension by having it done by rolling news coverage. I suppose they had to get in all that character stuff as well but I wasn’t too interested in that. At first I thought Chris Pine was some sort of kiddie stalker but don’t worry, it’s just his kid and he’s separated from his wife, gun – threats – restraining order blah blah blah. Chris Pine didn‘t really convince me of any of that stuff at all. Fortunately he is okay at the action scenes.

 

Rating 6/10

http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B004INGLYO

 

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0477080/

 
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Posted by on July 30, 2011 in Entertainment, Film

 

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