Spling reviews Red Notice, 7 Prisoners and Tenet as broadcast on Talking Movies, Fine Music Radio. Listen to podcast.
Good morning – welcome to Talking Movies, I’m Spling…
This week, we’re talking about an action adventure comedy, a crime drama and a sci-fi thriller.
Starting off with a film now on Netflix…
An Interpol agent tracks the world’s most wanted art thief.
Writer-Director: Rawson Marshall Thurber
Stars: Dwayne Johnson, Ryan Reynolds and Gal Gadot
– This slick and candied yet lazy, uninspired, mainstream-to-oblivion and straight-to-video content shouldn’t be allowed to masquerade as a film.
– Aspiring to The Mummy’s comic adventure tone and led by the actual ‘Scorpion King’ himself it also has a National Treasure vibration as culture and history intertwine with charm and hot pursuit to create high adventure, while the art thievery and gamesmanship aligns Red Notice with the mischief and misdirection of the sultry cat-and-mouse thriller, The Thomas Crown Affair.
– Red Notice uses these films as footholds rather than inspiration, wringing the nostalgia and fun out of these superior action adventure thrillers in order to set the platform for its big stars to vegetate.
– One of the film’s biggest failings is that it seems to have been shot almost exclusively in a green room… over a weekend.
– Instead of wasting time with pesky international locations like Carmen Sandiego, the bulk of the backdrops are predominantly enhanced by visual effects creating a false reality that undermines the danger factor as star power and charm become the frayed all-access pass.
– Forced to chew on manufactured dialogue, pithy one-liners and cliched action comedy… Red Notice is as mindless as bubblegum gets with the stellar trio essentially playing a version of themselves without much conviction, thrust in front of camera to “lights, camera and CHARM” with rote material.
– While some audiences may relish the opportunity to allow this poor excuse for a movie to wash over them in a year they’d rather forget, it represents a new instantly forgettable low in film as entertainment fodder.
A third-rate 3 on the splingometer!
Moving on to another film on Netflix…
A young man accepts a job in a junkyard but becomes trapped in the dangerous world of human trafficking.
Co-writer-Director: Alexandre Moratto
Stars: Christian Malheiros, Josias Duarte and Rodrigo Santoro
– Set in Brazil, this crime drama captures injustice and the complicated cycle of oppression as a broken system perpetuates itself.
– Moving from an innocent to accept his role as a captive only to be given enough power to eventually become the warden, 7 Prisoners wrestles with the situational dynamic and notion of trust against a swirling mix of character motivations.
– Desperately sad, knowing that modern slavery is as rampant as it has ever been, this crime drama makes a thoughtful character portrait and an allegory for a much broader discussion.
– Every character is enslaved but on different strata, trying to make headway in a bogged down system that tends to reward the bold, brutal and ruthless.
– Through well-balanced performances and an authentic tour of this bleak world, we are able to get a raw and visceral slice-of-life from the scrapyard.
– Documenting the helplessness and ever-present threat of harm to self or family from criminals and corrupt officials, this film conveys the mental and physical hardships of confinement and slave labour.
– Teetering on the line between captive and captor we undertake a suspenseful and thought-provoking journey into the corruption of the soul as the pursuit of money through unscrupulous opportunity becomes a way of life.
– While harrowing and treacherous, this well-acted and haunting crime drama has snippets of what made City of God and City of Men so captivating in its realistic dramatisation of a thriving criminal underworld.
A solid 7 on the splingometer!
And finally a film on Showmax…
Armed with only one word, Tenet, and fighting for the survival of the entire world, a Protagonist journeys through a twilight world of international espionage on a mission that will unfold in something beyond real time.
Writer-Director: Christopher Nolan
Stars: John David Washington, Robert Pattinson and Elizabeth Debicki
– Tenet must surely be his boldest, most challenging and self-indulgent film to date, based in a single electron universe, where like it’s title suggests, time moves forward and backward through inversion, toying with the Grandfather Paradox.
– The narrative progresses with a character simply known as Protagonist, moving in a linear fashion long enough to get a semblance of his mission and the story’s main characters, doubling back on itself for us to realise that the characters have witnessed scenarios from different viewpoints in an alternate dimension.
– Taking on a Bond panache for stylish action set pieces and sleek cinematography the film contrasts this with a Matrix appetite for interdimensional world-building, deja vu, duality and storytelling.
– While visually spectacular, immense and thought-provoking, it’s also alienating, joyless and confusing, offering obscure film detective clues, most of which you’d only unlock on a second or third viewing.
– While it features a stellar ensemble including a strangely effective and distracting Kenneth Branagh, an unemotional videogame superficiality substitutes any real connection, foregoing contact points in favour of a frustrating and fairly soulless experience.
– As intricate and tricky as it seems, it’s alienation limits immersion and its detached feel blunts emotional investment, making this opulent and rather pretentious affair only for the most ardent Nolan fans, a puzzling film you will probably appreciate more on a repeat viewing, yet one that’s so uninviting it hardly seems worth it.
A satisfactory 6 on the splingometer!
So just to wrap up…
RED NOTICE… a cliched and subpar action adventure comedy pivots on its stellar cast’s charm and extensive visual effects… A third-rate 3!
7 PRISONERS… sharp performances, timely themes and authentic production design compel this harrowing and thought-provoking Brazilian crime drama… A solid 7!
TENET… while it borders on maddening genius, this sleek, immense and spellbinding sci-fi thriller is an alienating, detached and frustrating puzzle of a film… A satisfactory 6!
For more movie reviews, previous Talking Movies podcasts and upcoming Bingeing with Spling watch parties visit splingmovies.com.
And remember, Don’t WING it, SPL!NG it!