Tag Archives: Channing Tatum

“Kingsman: The Golden Circle”

LOUISA: 3.5 STARS


LOUISA SAYS:

From the moment I first saw “Kingsman: The Secret Service,” I knew it was something truly special. It topped my Top 10 Best Movies of 2015 list in the coveted number one slot and after multiple viewings, cemented itself among my favorite movies of all time. To say my expectations for “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” were high is something of an understatement. The original film was a rare one that begged for a sequel and I’m glad we’ve been handed one, but I really wish it was better than it turned out to be.

I want to be clear that while this film is disappointing and mostly lacking in intelligence, charm and wit, it still has its moments and the glorious, hyper violent end action sequence is a ton of fun. But it’s impossible to overlook what amounts to a relentless dumbing down of the entire “Kingsman” franchise in a lame attempt of desperation to outdo its predecessor.

When the Kingsman HQ is blown up by missiles launched by the drug peddling super villain Poppy (a delightfully psycho, hammy performance from Julianne Moore), our hero Eggsy (Taron Egerton), back-from-the-dead Harry (Colin Firth), and loyal sidekick Merlin (Mark Strong) join up with their American counterpart, the Statesman. Champ (Jeff Bridges) runs the secret organization and heads the team, including Tequila (Channing Tatum), Whiskey (Pedro Pascal) and Ginger (Halle Berry). With their exaggerated Southern accents, ten gallon cowboy hats, and bloated swagger, the filmmakers seem to have mistaken Kentucky with Texas. The Statesman crew is enjoyable (although Tatum is completely wasted), but Pascale becomes the scene stealer with his 1970s macho Burt Reynolds bravado.

The film confuses a string of stunt casting with meaningful humor, and overall the project lacks creativity and the pulsing mean streak that made the first movie feel so original. Instead of another smart and snarky send-up of James Bond movies, audiences are forced into two and a half hours of aggressively tiresome repetition (we see characters dumped into a meat grinder twice and an extended, distracting celebrity cameo that quickly wears out its welcome as it balloons into a supporting role) and callbacks to the first film that serve as reminders of the sequel’s role as a pale imitator. Worst of all, the film is missing its clever, subversive humor. The smart satire is tossed out the window in favor of more slam-bang action sequences and animated spy weapons like an electric lasso. It’s violent fun, but it’s missing that spark that made the original film so beloved by film nerds.

Most disappointing is the film’s opening car chase scene, an awkward, CGI mess through London’s streets. I’m so disappointed that real stunt drivers and practical effects weren’t used, making this the second most frustrating animated car sequence this year since “The Fate of the Furious” and the awful looking parking garage bit. Perhaps I should refer to my disappointment as the “Baby Driver” effect: if you’re going to have cars in your movie, then put actual cars in the frame and talented drivers behind the wheel.

Once the plot delves into a truly irrelevant and weird message about the stigma of drug use, it skids off the rails in a spectacular fashion. Instead of steering itself back on track with a trademark crackerjack smugness, director Matthew Vaughn visually says “screw it” and goes full blown overkill, making the film feel like he was hell bent on trying to outdo himself rather than making a quality film. This sequel tries too hard and the film suffers for it. This doesn’t necessarily make “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” a total dud, but it is very disappointing to those of us who are super fans of the original.

“Logan Lucky”

LOUISA: 2.5 STARS


LOUISA SAYS:

I can’t really recommend “Logan Lucky” to anybody I know because I can’t think of one person who would actually find the movie enjoyable. Steven Soderbergh‘s redneck heist romp isn’t a terrible movie, but it isn’t a whole lot of fun either.

The story centers around the blue collar Logan brothers Jimmy (Channing Tatum) and Clyde (Adam Driver) who plan to execute an elaborate heist during the big Memorial Day NASCAR race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. The comparisons to 2001’s “Ocean’s Eleven” are inevitable, but instead of the suave, suit-clad sophisticate played by George Clooney, we have a ragtag band of rednecks with Charlie Daniels t-shirts and really, really bad Southern accents. It mirrors far better stories that are grounded in the same type of absurdity, plodding along like a poor man’s Coen brothers movie while borrowing heavily from the greatness of similar films. All of this adds up to more than a shade of mediocrity.

As is to be expected, the actual heist (get ready for those requisite twists and “gotchas”) is the best part of the film. What a pity that you’re forced to sit through a lengthy, excruciating, off-key performance of John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads” by an untalented child in a beauty pageant.

Luckily the talented cast of actors are more than enough to keep audiences engaged. Daniel Craig hams it up as incarcerated career criminal Joe Bang, a scene stealer like you’ve not seen in a long while. Tatum brings yet another charismatic riff to his charming doofus persona, Driver is given little to do as a one-armed bartender, and Riley Keough is wasted in a lame supporting role as their sister Mellie. With a cast like this, the film should’ve been way more fun that it actually is. There are some funny moments, but nothing comes close to classifying this one as a bonafide comedy.

The clunky story feels slow, and the oddly uncomfortable supporting performances from Hilary Swank as an FBI agent on the trail and Seth MacFarlane in a completely pointless and distracting role as a British energy drink purveyor don’t help matters at all. The movie has an air of an undeserved pedigree that hovers throughout as if it’s straight up daring audiences to say they don’t like it.  Perhaps this will be one of those movies that failed to resonate with me upon first viewing but will later become a classic. I suspect not, but it’s hard to say.

“Logan Lucky” is made by talented people but it is never successful in finding the right tone, causing a strong feeling that something really important is missing.

 

“Hail, Caesar!”

LOUISA:     3 STARS     MATT:   3 STARS


LOUISA SAYS:

Packed with a who’s-who of A-list stars, “Hail, Caesar!” is an utterly confusing and borderline mess of a movie. It seems like one very long and very confusing in-joke about the Golden Age of the Hollywood studio system.

The oddball script doesn’t make much sense even for those who are well versed in the history of Hollywood. I counted at least a dozen “WTF?” moments that left me scratching my head and wondering what the heck the intention of this movie is. It’s sort of an unsuccessful satire, it’s sort of a fun period piece, it’s sort of a comedy / musical, it’s sort of a commentary on movies and religion and politics and Communism. There’s no clear focus. In the end, “Hail, Caesar!” comes across as a very angry hate letter to Hollywood (which isn’t surprising given that it’s made by the Coen brothers, themselves a pair of nonconformist filmmakers).

At least the movie is mildly amusing with some phenomenal performances from the star-studded cast (a very funny George Clooney, a very penitent Josh Brolin, a comically frustrated Ralph Fiennes, and a simply charming Alden Ehrenreich in particular). Sadly, Scarlett Johansson, Tilda Swinton and Jonah Hill have their talents mostly wasted with storylines that enter with a bang and simply go nowhere. I hated how these characters were just abandoned and I wanted to see more.

The bright spot in this mess is Channing Tatum, playing a Fred Astaire type character who, well, let’s just say he makes a rather dramatic exit from the story. Tatum’s musical number is one of the best things I’ve seen in a movie in a while. It brought me pure joy (but who doesn’t love to watch him dance?)

The filmmaking style of the movie is as lovely as expected but in the end, “Hail, Caesar!” is dragged down with way too many insider Hollywood studio jokes that just aren’t funny. Fans of the Coen brothers will still enjoy it, but this isn’t a movie for your average audience. If you’re a fan of their other comedy work, go; otherwise, you should wait for Netflix.

MATT SAYS:

A meta, referential and quasi-reverential cinematic love letter/hate tract to the golden age of Hollywood and the studio system, “Hail Caesar!” isn’t for everyone. Yes, it’s chock-full of big A-list stars and yes, they have some fun and interesting material to work with. But that doesn’t mean you’ll like it.

When you watch a film like this, you can just feel it losing the audience. People go to see it expecting a comedy (which it sort of is) and start out laughing loudly at just about everything that could remotely be classified as a joke, even if the joke isn’t very funny. As the picture unspools, the laughs slowly taper off. By the time it gets to something that is actually very funny, the picture is met with mostly silence — the audience having disengaged with it long before.

There are some good bits here — I enjoyed seeing its fictionalized version of Hollywood in the fifties and its behind-the-scenes, exaggerated view of how movies are made (a dance sequence featuring Channing Tatum is particularly memorable). Some of the cartoonish characters are lots of fun to watch (most notably Tilda Swinton‘s feuding twin gossip columnists).

That said, this “movie about moviemaking where they are shooting multiple other movies within the movie” feels a little too insider-y, like it was made for a handful of historians and old-timers who will be able to catch all of the references and understand who is being portrayed and/or satirized. Maybe those folks will find this hysterically funny and completely coherent. The rest of us, however, will leave feeling slightly confused by the experience.