Movies of the Week #16 (2020)

In the Line of Fire (1993): In what feels like a John Grisham/Tom Clancy political thriller of the 90s (but is actually an original screenplay by Jeff Maguire), I was reminded by the times when the US actually treasured its presidents to such a degree, that they often required saving or protection in big movie productions. Here, Clint Eastwood stars as Frank Horrigan, a secret service agent who is still struggling to cope with his inability to save Kennedy back in the day, when the president is targeted once more. Naturally, Frank wants to redeem himself, and is pitched against Mitch Leary (John Malkovich), anything but your run-of-the-mill presidential assassin. Their rivalry is exciting to watch, in a more nuanced take on the subject matter, which builds up to a satisfying finale. Maybe a bit on the long side, with a few predictable twists, but overall a perfect genre piece, thanks to the dynamic between its two leads. 8/10

The Gentlemen (2019): Guy Ritchie doesn’t break the mold with his latest movie, but he finally produces something that feels reasonably fresh and entertaining. To be fair, I didn’t mind The Man from UNCLE either, but The Gentlemen is Ritchie’s bread and butter – a mob movie. Thanks to his solid cast, and particularly Hugh Grant’s performance, there’s fizz and kapow to this chronologically challenged story about marijuana, Anglo-American joint ventures and Chinese interference. That’s all I ever asked for, which is why some of the narrative excesses can be forgiven, as can the less than surprising twists and turns. So, lo and behold, a Guy Ritchie movie worth recommending. 7/10

Deathgasm (2015): For whatever reason, I thought Jason Lei Howden’s flair (of recently reviewed Guns Akimbo) might have a better showcase in his previous movie. Ultimately, though, the main thing that separates the two is blood and gore – present in GA, in holy abundance here. Also, maybe you get a teensy liking for the characters, as Brodie, metalhead, is forced to move in with his religious aunt and uncle, and just craves to find some semblance of acceptance and empowerment…which leads to him summoning a demon intent on taking over the world. Or something. High school sure is tough in New Zealand. Definitely a staple for the blood and gore connoisseurs, in the direction of Evil Dead/Shaun of the Dead, but lacking the wit of either. 6/10

Kedi (2016): So how do you like your cats? Kedi is a charming and enjoyable journey around the streets of Istanbul, “the city of cats” due to the vast numbers roaming about. This documentary captures the…frequently demure joie de vivre of our (second) favourite household pet, as it does the particulars of one of the world’s most identifiable cities. It didn’t impress itself upon me greatly, but I was in a grouchy mood watching the thing, maybe asking more of it than it set out to do. 7/10

The Meg (2018): I was fooled by the slick trailer to give this Sharknado spin-off a shot, but it turned out that no matter how big you make a shark, the returns are marginal. The best I can write about The Meg is that it’s a well-oiled trope machine – filled to the brim with cliches and inane dialogue, one moment waxing dramatically about the death of some of its characters, the next fronting a ten year old to play cupid. Not even Statham’s two dimensional charm can keep this one afloat, both because of some ill chosen casting decisions, and because all characters are as flat as their one-liners. The movie never clicks, making it beyond saving even by all the splashy effects that fill the narrative void. 4/10