Spling reviews The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, I Came By and Zeroes and Ones 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 a crime action comedy caper, a crime thriller and a war thriller.
Starting off with a film now on Google Movies…
Nicolas Cage plays Nick Cage, channeling his iconic characters as he’s caught between a superfan and a CIA agent.
Director: Tom Gormican
Stars: Nicolas Cage, Pedro Pascal and Tiffany Haddish
– This movie essentially serves as a self-congratulatory tribute and high five to the household name, who’s come to represent the best and worst of Hollywood.
– Catching up with the present day actor, who’s vying for a new role and staring down a $600,000 hotel bill, Cage is forced to accept a lucrative VIP invitation to a wealthy fan’s home only to become embroiled in a dangerous game.
– Cage enjoys surprisingly good chemistry opposite Game of Thrones and Wonder Woman 1984’s Pedro Pascal who expertly balances light-dark vibrations in this bizarre “vanity” project.
– While the self-reflective Hollywood insider comedy turned covert CIA thriller plot has its campy charms, compelled by its subversive pop culture undercurrent, it’s really just an exercise in Nic Cage appreciation.
– Much like its title, this equivalent of a greatest hits album is a wink-wink affair, playfully tipping the hat to various iconic Cage roles without requiring expert knowledge to be entertained.
– Cage has plenty of fun as Nick Cage with a ‘k’, a self-parody with enough substance to mine due respect and play up the egotistical side of being a Hollywood star.
– A rollicking action comedy, the language is coarse and there are a few moments where it verges on ludicrous but Cage anchors the vehicle with his off-the-wall antics, charm and conviction.
– A playful jaunt that cleverly utilises and counterbalances its star power, perhaps this film will create its own subgenre for other actors who have been around the block.
A solid 7 on the splingometer!
Moving on to a film now on Netflix…
A young graffiti artist discovers a shocking secret that would put him and the ones closest to him in danger.
Director: Babak Anvari
Stars: Hugh Bonneville, Kelly Macdonald and George MacKay
– I Came By is a dark crime thriller that recalls films such as Don’t Breathe and Disturbia, centred on a home with a dark secret.
– Starting with a politically-charged George MacKay in one of his most wild-eyed performances yet, the film’s star attraction becomes Hugh Bonneville who shatters his Downton Abbey typecasting with the kind of role usually written for Anthony Hopkins.
– I Came By centres on a group of Robin Hood type graffiti artists turned social justice vigilantes who try to buck the system by shining the spotlight into the darkest reaches – leaving their signature wall art in their wake.
– When a solo mission goes awry in an attempt to expose a former judge, the young man’s disappearance provokes his loved ones to embark on a search leading them to the judge’s door.
– This crime thriller benefits from full-fledged and fiery performances from its recognisable and talented cast.
– While the story is familiar, its social justice angle keeps it fresh as two complex yet divergent characters clash.
– I Came By is entertaining, elevated by its stars yet restrained by its pacing, distanced by its timeline hopping and splintered by its perspective shift.
– A fairly modest production, the overall quality of its ingredients is respectable enough to push through but limited by superficial handling… it did just enough to warrant…
A satisfactory 6 on the splingometer!
And finally a film on Showmax…
An American soldier stationed in Rome, tries to uncover and defend against an unknown enemy threatening the entire world.
Writer-Director: Abel Ferrara
Stars: Ethan Hawke, Cristina Chiriac and Phil Neilson
– Ethan Hawke is an accomplished, well-respected and underrated actor who is at a stage in his career where he’s more interested in collaborating with directors than pay days.
– This explains his decision to explore Abel Ferrara’s latest vision, a director best known for cult classics such as The Driller Killer, Bad Lieutenant and King of New York.
– Unfortunately, while a bold, experimental outing… Zeroes and Ones is a murky misfire – a film where everything you actually remember is neatly bundled in the trailer.
– Using roving guerilla style shooting techniques and intermittent slow-mos, Ferrara’s trademarks are in full effect.
– Dated by virtue of its Covid-era elements, Ferrara attempts to explore systems of government and religion with some philosophising.
– Poorly lit and muddled, the story has intrigue with its Strange Days vibrations but wading through the stylised humdrum does become tedious.
– As much as Hawke musters with an impassioned performance, playing brothers on either side of the war, Zeroes and Ones is too alienating, poetic ad wispy for its own good.
– From its dim and sleazy free-range storytelling to its open-ended resolution, it struggles to gather substance and momentum.
– Elusive to the point of frustration, Hawke’s valiant performance is the only real takeaway from this short-lived and brooding experiment.
A third-rate 3 on the splingometer!
So just to wrap up…
THE UNBEARABLE WEIGHT OF MASSIVE TALENT… Nic Cage energy, self-parody novelty and fun co-lead chemistry drives this amusing crime action comedy caper… A solid 7!
I CAME BY… a fine cast and an intriguing story elevate and compel this modest thriller beyond its familiar feel, disjointed pacing and narrative switch… A satisfactory 6!
ZEROES AND ONES… Hawke goes beyond the call of duty in this dated, poorly lit, seedy, muddled, short-lived guerilla style war thriller… A third-rate 3!
For more movie reviews and previous Talking Movies podcasts visit splingmovies.com.
And remember, Don’t WING it, SPL!NG it!