The Wheelman – A Wheel Mess

Dear Reader,

I don’t know exactly I thought watching The Wheelman would be a good idea. Maybe I wanted to root for Netflix’s ability to produce quality content. Or maybe I gave into my love of crime movies.

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I mean I could have spent that time rewatching more BoJack Horseman

Anyway, The Wheelman is about a criminal driver played by Frank Grillo, who ends up between two mysterious factions after a job goes bad. If that doesn’t sound generic enough, he’s going through a divorce and has a thirteen-year-old daughter.

This movie reminded me a lot of a movie called Locke, starring Tom Hardy. Both movies are about a person driving a car who’s on the phone during the worst day of their lives. The difference is Locke is well written. The main character in Locke doesn’t exactly have to be in the dilemma he’s in, but throughout the movie, you begin to understand his motivations.

The Wheelman, however, has a very basic story with no real reason to care. This might work if it had some great action or awesome car chases, but alas this movie has neither. Frank Grillo tries his best, but considering the lame writing, I don’t think it would have mattered if it was Jai Courtney or Jake Gyllenhaal in the driver’s seat. The only remarkable thing about the dialog is that if you take a shot every time someone says ‘fuck’, you’re gonna be wasted within ten minutes, and that’s probably for the best.

Even when special effects are used, they’re terrible. There’s one point in the movie where a person is shot in the side of the head. Despite this, a shower of blood sprays from the front of his head, instantly turning a shocking moment into a laughable one.

There are hundreds of better movies with similar premises. I’m sure a few of those are on Netflix. The Wheelman fails to do anything remotely interesting. I’d highly recommend avoiding this one unless you need to do a cynical review for your blog and pretend your life has meaning even though in the grand scheme of the universe we are just a speck of dust and eventually we all die.

Regards

Your Writer

 

 

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Kingsman: The Golden Circle

Dear Reader,

Warning: The following will contain spoilers for Kingsman: The Secret Service, although if you’ve seen the trailers for Kingsman: The Golden Circle, this will not be new information.

In my opinion, Kingsman: The Secret Service is one of the best action movies to come out in recent years. It had great action and a ton of laughs. That said when I first saw the trailer for the sequel, I was honestly nervous. Unfortunately, I was right.

Kingsman 2 was directed by Matthew Vaughn who directed the previous installment. I honestly really like Matthew as a director and I genuinely like the other two movies of his I’ve seen (Layer Cake and X-Men: First Class).

So what went wrong?

Storywise I found the film to be quite predictable. On top of that, I was uninvested in what was happening. Part of what made the first movie so great is watching Eggsy (Taron Egerton) improve as a person, and without a more emotional element like that, I just found didn’t care what happened.

One thing I noticed early on was the overuse of CGI. A lot of backgrounds in the movie look fake. Part of me thinks this might be an intentional reference to old James Bond movies, but that doesn’t make it a good decision. I found it really distracting and it gave the movie a ‘fake’ feel. I’m not against the use of CGI but Kingsman 2 abuses it.

I also found there to be a bit too much CGI in the action scenes. Additionally, the camera cuts got a bit fast which in turn made the movie a bit disorientating. The end battle was probably the best scene, even if it was a rehash of the infamous church scene from the first movie.

This sequel introduced a new organization, the Statesmen, who are an American counterpart to the Kingsmen. Unfortunately, the four characters that were introduced are just bland and boring. Tequila (Channing Tatum) and Champ (Jeff Bridges) are barely in the movie. Ginger (Halle Berry) is passable as the tech expert, but shadows compared to Merlin (Mark Strong). Finally, Whiskey (Pedro Pascal) is okay, but I can’t say I cared about what happened to him during the events of the movie.

Despite that, Julian Moore as the main villain Poppy is great. She really sells the mentally unstable aspect of the character and is really entertaining. The rest of the cast from the previous movie are also solid although I do take issue with one character’s return.

Unfortunately, the decision was made to bring back Harry (Colin Firth) despite his death in the first movie. As much as I enjoy the character, I really dislike this decision as I felt his death was a critical moment that had a lot of impact. In my opinion, a spin-off prequel would have been a much better way to bring Colin Firth back in the role.

Overall this was a really unnecessary sequel that doesn’t hold a candle to the original. It added nothing interesting to the Kingsman universe and failed to engage me beyond the most basic level.

Regards

Your Writer

 

Replay: Max Payne

The Game

Max Payne is a third person shooter developed by Remedy Entertainment. The game revolves around the titular character, a police detective whose life is turned upside down after the murder of his wife and infant child by some junkies who are under the influence of the designer drug ‘Valkyr’. Three years later he’s deep undercover, working for the DEA until one fateful night, he finds himself framed for the murder of a fellow agent. On the run and with nothing left to lose, Max blazes his way through the criminal underworld whilst unearthing the truth behind his family’s murder.

What I think has really helped this game stand the test of time is the game’s story. The game takes place during a freezing night in New York City, which is the perfect setting for the Noir-style story telling. It does get a bit cheesy at times, but the story is still engaging. Most of the plot is portrayed in graphic novel style cutscenes which are effective and stylish.

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Max himself is an enjoyable character, even if he often looks like he’s constipated. That being said a lot of the supporting cast isn’t expanded on much. I feel this works for the most part but it would’ve been nice to get bit more of a background on some of the antagonists.

Visually the game might look a bit ‘weird’ by today’s standards, but for the time it’s pretty impressive. The environments, although dark and drab, are fitting for the setting. The animation is very good, with enemies and Max clutching wounds and changing faces when severely injured.

Weaponry-wise the arsenal is effective and enjoyable to use. Every weapon serves a purpose and is effective in certain situations. For example, the pump action shotgun is better in a sustained fight compared to the double barrel sawed off, but the sawed-off allows the player to get two shots off whilst shoot dodging due to its rate of fire. Learning how and when to use weapons is critical for success.

Although not the first shooter to introduce slow motion (Requiem: Avenging Angel to my knowledge has that honor), Max Payne was the game to popularize it. Using Bullet Time and Shoot Dodging (where you dodge through the air in slow motion) is the key to success. During slow motion the player can aim as fast as they can in real time, allowing them to rapidly engage targets. Bullets in this game are physically rendered, rather than hitscan. What this means is that it’s possible to dodge projectiles and avoid taking damage, so long you are Shoot Dodging or are in Bullet Time. My only complaint is that at times the camera angle can be awkward when Shoot Dodging against walls, but this is a rare occurrence.

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And trust me, shoot dodging never gets old

You’ll certainly need this leg up during fights, as this is a very hard game. Max doesn’t have a lot of health, and even enemies wielding weaker weapons can quickly kill you if you’re not fast and accurate. Enemies aren’t exactly smart but due to clever placement can often outmaneuver you if you’re not careful. With all that said it rarely unfair and even the areas I would call unfair are only slightly so.

So Should You Play It?

I’d highly recommend the entire Max Payne series if you haven’t played the series before. Some people might find them difficult to begin with, especially if they’re use to easier shooters of the modern day, but if you ask me challenge is a good thing.

If you don’t own the respective console (PlayStation 2 or X-Box for Max Payne 1 and 2, PlayStation 3 or X-Box 360 for 3) the games are fairly easy to get running on modern PCs. You will have to install some fan-made patches for the first two games to get them running and maybe run them in a compatibility mode (I’ve found running both games in Windows 98/ME to be effective). I only ran into one bug in each game, and only one required me to restart the game.

Legacy

Max Payne spawned two sequels, Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne and Max Payne 3. The second game is mostly the same, although it adds new weapons and bullet time has been changed so the player moves and fires in real time rather than in slow motion, and can now perform this silly ‘spin-reload’ trick that instantly reloads weapons. That combined with some story elements and the over the top physics (which admittedly are impressive for the time) gives the game bit of a cartoony feel. That said it’s still a fine game and like the previous game has great gunplay and a fantastic story.

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Just don’t ask me how this is supposed to reload your weapon faster.

The third however made some pretty extreme changes, having been developed roughly nine years later than it’s prequel by a different dev team: Rockstar Studios. This one’s pretty divisive among fans as it makes plenty of changes, including the addition of a cover system, a three weapon limit and a much different setting of Sao Paulo, Brazil. In my opinion, I think the changes aren’t too drastic and the core gameplay still remains similar enough to the previous titles, especially considering the time between the previous installment.

That said Max Payne 3 does have its issues. The biggest one would be the lengthy load times, concealed with cutscenes. A lot of the side characters are also really unlikable and obnoxious. Despite that, Max Payne 3 has a lot going for it, including its smooth gunplay, impressive animation, and Max’s dialog.

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Seriously, Max is the king of cynical one-liners

Max Payne also got it’s own movie, directed by the same guy who directed A Good Day to Die Hard. As I somewhat value my time I have decided to spare myself from watching it.

Slow motion would also be a core mechanic of the F.E.A.R. series, a horror based first person shooter. It also certainly has a movie like flair to it, combing American Sci-Fi with Japanese Horror and Hong Kong action. If you like the Max Payne series you’ll most likely enjoy F.E.A.R.

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There’s also plenty of the red stuff if you’re into that.

Finally, there’s the game Stranglehold. Most interestingly this game is intended as a sequel to the movie Hard Boiled, which is not only one of the big inspirations behind the Max Payne games but is even directly referenced in the game, as are it’s director John Woo and lead actor Chow Yun-Fat. Stranglehold has a more arcade feel to it, but is a solid, if somewhat short experience. Of course, it’s also funny to watch influences go full circle.

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There’s also one level where you have to defend a jazz band from attack, which is pretty cool.

Lessons For Modern Games

I find a lot of modern shooters focus on overwhelming the player with hordes of dumb enemies. Don’t get me wrong the enemies in Max Payne aren’t exactly smart, but they are smartly placed throughout the level. This forces the player to be careful and to listen out for audio cues such as grenades landing.

Another problem I have with shooters, especially military shooters such as Call of Duty and Battlefield, seem to think they need to have five assault rifles that all basically play the same, rather than weapons that have a purpose. Max Payne‘s arsenal might not be massive, but all the weapons serve some sort of purpose and are effective in the right situations.

Finally, creative presentation will overcome limited graphics. Max Payne’s fantastic graphic novel cutscenes, engaging story and trippy dream sequences are going to withstand the test of time. A creative story and art style counts for more than a game that only has visually impressive graphics.

 

 

 

Doorkickers – The Top Down Tactics Masterpiece

Kit Up

Released in 2014 by Killhouse Games, Doorkickers is a seemingly simple game. The objective is to lead a SWAT team through various missions, giving them checkpoints as they move through an area. With those checkpoints you can decide where they move, where they aim and if they need to deploy stun grenades or other gadgets. You can either attempt to plan out an entire mission or have some level of improvisation. With the ability to pause in real time and plan your next move, it’s easy to control the action if something you didn’t account for catches you off guard.

There are five classes available to select for your operators. Pointmen are the fastest, but only wield a pistol. Assaulters are great all rounders who can take a submachine gun or assault rifle. Breachers provide the fastest way through a door with their shotguns which are also devastating at close range. Stealth have silenced weapons that can be useful for gaining the element of surprise. Finally Shield operatives carry a shield that can stop incoming rounds and provide cover for other officers, at the cost of movement speed and accuracy. Each class is useful in certain situations and no one class can do everything.

On top of the classes, there are dozens of weapons, armour and gadgets for each class. As the developers have been adding in many weapons since the initial release, there’s plenty of equipment at your disposal.

Unfortunately you do have to spend a lot of time unlocking this gear. To begin with you only start with the Pointman with only one body armour and one sidearm. For every mission you complete you gain 1-3 stars which are used to unlock equipment. Considering some weapons can cost up to 40 stars there’s a lot of grinding to do. I’ve found the best way to get stars is to complete the campaigns, as you get double the amount once you complete one. You also have to level up to unlock the other classes. Initially this does limit your options, but at the same time helps keep the game streamlined whilst you learn it.

The big problem with the unlocking system is the balance. Some weapons are extremely effective and aren’t nessecarily scaled to cost. The P90 submachine gun for the assaulter is a good example of this, as it only costs 15 stars yet is an absolute beast in close quarters and highly effective against armour. Many weapons that cost twice as much struggle to keep up with it. Additionally many weapons fulfill the same purpose and just come across as unneeded.

On top of this you also have to worry about leveling up. Completing missions grants experience for both your squad and individual troopers. Leveling up the squad allows you to unlock new classes and doctrine in the skill tree. These doctrine can be absolutely critical and include abilities such as Hold Fire for Stealth troopers or the Mozambique Drill that makes pistols practically instantly lethal at short range. Individual troopers can improve their ability to shoot at close, at distance and their speed with using equipment. I’ve honestly never noticed the difference between troopers no matter their skill levels. That being said, if they die during the campaign they will be replaced with another trooper who will start at the lowest level.

I really wish that the leveling wasn’t part of the game. I just think it adds an element the game doesn’t end. That being said, it probably takes five to six hours at most to fully level up so it’s not a deal breaker.

On the Streets

As mentioned above, how you complete a missions is up to you. You can plan every move or improvise the entire thing. On top of that you can chose to be stealthy, or use sound to lure enemies into kill zones.

To begin with, missions only require you to kill all enemies on the map. Soon enough hostages are introduced. Later missions involve preventing executions, defusing bombs, escorting VIPs, arresting certain targets or collecting evidence before it’s destroyed.

Visually the game is simplistic, but effective. This might not be as artistic as Bastion or Pyre, but everything is functional and clear, plus the menu art is fantastic. It’s easy to understand what is going on both visually and audibly. Environments are also effective in portraying their locations and audio is atmospheric.

The only minor complaints I’d have visually is that there is no variety among the hostages, which would have been nice and that sometimes flashbangs will hit corners even when the line indicated they wouldn’t. As for audio, I wish there was more variety in the voice acting of the troopers. There is only one voice for them, and that means that the few female troopers have male voices. Neither are a big deal but they would’ve been nice to have.

Like many puzzle games the game starts off easy enough, but as things go on missions start getting more complicated, with larger maps, timed objectives, multiple storey buildings and more suspects that are better equipped. Figuring out what to do will most likely come down to trial and error, so expect to be repeating levels over and over, especially if you want high scores.

The only levels I dislike are some that are found in certain campaigns where once the mission start your officers are thrown into a gunfight instantly. This is frustrating as injuries carry over for one mission and taking injured officers into a mission makes them more likely to die. This is even more problematic when playing Iron Man mode where you cannot restart levels.

Additional Reinforcements

If you get bored with the campaigns and single missions, you also have the random mission generator, which will give you a random mission to do in either one of the levels from the single missions, or a completely random killhouse. It’s not the most balanced mode, but it’s a fun addition. There’s also a level editor where you can make your own missions. It’s a fairly easy to use tool if you’re willing to put in the time.

The game also has it’s fair share of mods. These include adding even more weapons, levels and even some total conversions. It’s pretty cool to see a fairly active modding scene on a small indie title.

Debriefing

Overall Doorkickers is a very solid first outing from Killhouse Games. I’ve been following this game since it’s late alpha state and it’s only gotten better. With a sequel and a spin off in the works, there’s certainly gonna be plenty of door kicking in the future.

 

 

Shadowrun: Dragonfall – Indie Cyberpunk Goodness

Dear Reader,

My history with the Shadowrun franchise began with the 2007 first person shooter which has little to do with the actual Shadowrun universe. Still, 13-ish year old me loved the idea of sci-fi meets magic.

Originally released as DLC for the game Shadowrun Returns, the so called director’s cut of Dragonfall was released by Harebrained Schemes as a standalone game in 2014. This review will be covering this director’s cut. A lot of what I say in this review could also apply for both the previous game Shadowrun Returns and it’s sequel Shadowrun: Hong Kong. I also have little concern how this game’s rules line up with the original table top game as I have not played said table top game.

It’s All About the Atmosphere

Dragonfall takes place in Berlin in a future where magic has returned to the world. You play as a Shadowrunner (mercenary) who joins a team headed by Monika. During your first mission things goes sideways, Monika ends up dead and your team is forced to deal with a conspiracy involving an event that happened years ago known as the Dragonfall.

I find the best element of Dragonfall is the worldbuilding. The game allows you to build just about any character you want, picking from five races and multiple skill trees. Wanna be a ten foot troll cyborg who wields assault rifles and a katana for close quarters? What about a hotshot Dwarf drone rigger? Or maybe you want to sling spells as an Elf? The only thing you have to remember is that this is a game that focuses on specialists, so trying to create a jack of all trades will end in tears. The only real problem I’d say is that once you make your character you’re stuck with it. This means you won’t really be able to experiment with what play style you like unless you start over again.

On top of your character, you also have your team of colorful Shadowrunners. There’s Dietrich, the middle-aged punk rocker turned shaman, Eiger, the former special forces soldier who has series trust issues when it comes to the player and Glory, the withdrawn, stoic combat medic sporting old cybernetic body parts. There’s also the potential to recruit Blitz, a cocky decker (hacker). Blitz is the only character I don’t find particularly interesting. He feels like more of an afterthought added so the player had a decker always available. That being said Dietrich, Eiger and Glory are all very compelling characters.

There are also many characters you encounter during the game. Even the various merchants and side characters are interesting with their own backgrounds, fleshed out personalities and conflicts. Everything is brought to life via the vivid descriptions given. Writer Andrew McIntosh deserves serious props as his writing easily propels this game into being something special. There is a lot of reading to do in this game, but it’s all for the best.

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The music is appropriate, but at the same time isn’t exactly amazing. I don’t feel you’d lose much listening to your own choice of music rather than that in game. Combat sound effects also lack a sense of impact, and everything useful is communicated via text anyway.

Visually this game is a mixed bag. Sure the backgrounds, and character portraits look beautiful, but unfortunately some of the worst character models have been jammed on top of said backgrounds. To be fair there are a lot of various assets for different armours, weapons, drones, computer decks etc, but the models just look so jarring compared to the rest of the visuals.

But Then There’s the Combat…

I’d best describe this game as Mass Effect meets X-COM. There’s a focus on building and socializing with your team as you work towards an objective. Gameplay wise this plays very much like the X-COM reboot, with turned based combat.

There is a ton of combat in this game, and unfortunately it has issues. First of all I’m not a big fan of the turn based system. Like X-COM you have 2 (later 3) Action Points. You can move a certain distance (say a max of 10 tiles) for 1 Point. If you want to move 11, you have to use 2. This might not seem like a big deal, but I find the problems start to arrive when you’re trying use melee builds. A character can move and attack, but you can’t chose the exact path that character moves. This can leave characters outside of cover, which is still in the 1 AP movement range, making them vulnerable. I prefer the system seen in Jagged Alliance 2 or Silent Storm, where the player has a lot of AP, where step takes a certain amount of AP.

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The blue path would cost the same AP movement wise, but would put my character in cover from the other two enemies on the right.

I’d also say the cover system is a bit basic. Characters can get behind objects of varying strength to protect from incoming attacks. To counter this, you can either use melee or throwing weapons to weed enemies out of cover, or attempt to flank enemies. Being on a target’s flank increases hit and critical chances massively. Sometimes I find the logic of this system rather inconsistent.  There are plenty of times where I think my character should have an easy line of sight that’d allow for a clear shot.

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Yes apparently the mercenary (left of the red line) right in the open there is ‘in cover’ from my sniper (right of the red line)…

Another problem I have is how hit chance is calculated. As the game goes on, enemies seem to be able to avoid a lot of damage, even at very close range. This increases when the player sets the difficulty to higher levels. On the highest difficulty I had a shotgun specialist point blank, flanking an enemy and somehow they only had about a 60% chance to hit. I’d recommend the player sticks to Normal/Hard to avoid being put at the mercy of the random number generator

To be fair, the hit chance does probably compensate for the weak AI. With the said flanking mechanic, the AI seems to get stuck on trying to flank the player, rather than their own safety. This at times leaves them in the open, allowing the player to cut them down.

Finally although the game in it’s current state is practically bug free, I’ve still encountered a gamebreaking bug when decking. At random the game has locked my ability to perform a move or end the turn whilst decking. Granted this has only happened twice, both during separate playthroughs but I feel it’s worth mentioning.

With all that said, the combat isn’t too difficult, and I’m a sucker for turned based games like this. Building up a team and using their abilities to turn the tables on a superior number of enemies is always a lot of fun and considering the variety of builds the player can go for, every play through ends up being different combat wise.

Play Your Way

The missions themselves are also quite engaging. Again the writing team deserves a lot of praise here for the effort they’ve put into it all. Not every mission the player participates is necessarily morally acceptable. How you execute a mission is also up to you and your team. Having a Decker on hand can be handy to hack computers, having a strong character can allow for you to break down walls or move heavy objects, and a charismatic main character can talk their way out of many situations.

A single play through would take about 20 hours. Considering the multiple options you have with building your character and paths that are available during missions plus multiple endings, there’s a lot of replay value when it comes to Dragonfall. Considering the low price of $15 US it’s certainly good value for money.

Conclusion

Dragonfall leads the player through an engaging world where characters and choices matter. The writing and world building is about as good as it gets. The combat might be a bit basic compared to other turned based games, but otherwise, this is a very strong outing. I’d highly recommend Shadowrun: Dragonfall, and also Shadowrun Returns and Shadowrun: Hong Kong.

Regards

Your Writer

 

Marvel’s The Defenders – Now With 75% Less Iron Fist

Dear Reader,

I’ve been following the Marvel’s Defenders series ever since I first got Netflix. Hell, Daredevil was the first TV series I’ve followed since My Name Is Earl. I enjoyed both the first season of Daredevil and Jessica Jones a lot but I wasn’t big on Daredevil Season 2 or Luke Cage. That being said Iron Fist is the only series in this universe I flat out hated. I find the character of Danny Rand to be very bland.

In Defenders, the Daredevil (Charlie Cox), Jessica Jones (Kysten Ritter), Luke Cage (Mike Colton) and Iron Fist (Finn Jones) team up to fight The Hand, a Illuminati-esque criminal group that are seeking immortality after using up all of ‘the substance’ to revive Elektra (Elodie Yung) who is also part of some prophecy.

Honestly I’ve never liked the Hand as an antagonist. Compared to Kingpin or The Punisher from Daredevil, Kilgrave from Jessica Jones or even Cottonmouth in Luke Cage, they just feel bland. Their motives are cliche and basic and I feel their scale compromises the ‘street-level’ crime fighting that was originally established.

This season did nothing to change that. Sigourney Weaver was fine acting wise but her character wasn’t menacing or interesting on any level.  The arch with Elektra and Daredevil was incredibly predictable and honestly disappointing. None of the other leaders of the hand were interesting either and overall I didn’t really care about them in any way.

Daredevil, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage are still likable characters, but I struggle to buy Danny Rand as the Iron Fist at all. This isn’t the fault of Finn Jones, but of the writers. Honestly Danny Rand still comes across as a whinny millennial and I don’t believe he could have ever become the Iron Fist in the first place. Being fair it probably doesn’t help that his origin series was really weak, but I’m still not on board with him.

The supporting cast that have proved themselves in previous series are still good here. Rosario Dawson as Claire kills it like always. Colleen Wing (Jessica Henwick) proves to be a much more interesting a likable character than her love interest, Danny Rand, and even though I doubt it will happen, I still want a series based around Stick (Scott Glenn). That being said sometimes these side characters can bog the pacing down a bit.

The fight scenes were okay, but it’s not on the same level as Daredevil. At times there’s so much going on that you start losing track of what’s happening as it cuts between characters. There’s also times where multiple battles are happening and sometimes you feel like your missing out on the exciting stuff. Finally, I just didn’t feel a sense of urgency with the fights. I mean they looked neat for the most part but that’s about it. I know Daredevil has set the bar high for fight scenes, but this wouldn’t be such a big deal if I more invested in what was going on, like I was with previous series.

Overall The Defenders was okay. I didn’t care much for the story, but the fights and snappy dialog were enough to keep me entertained. If you’ve been following the previous series you’ll probably still enjoy this. Here’s hoping The Punisher will be a lot better.

Regards

Your Writer

Prisoners – Criminally Underrated

Dear Reader,

Prisoners is a crime drama directed by Denis Villeneuve (Sicario, Arrival) about the abduction of two little girls, one of them being the daughter of Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman) who takes matters into his own hands when initial suspect Alex Jones (Paul Dano) is released from police custody. Meanwhile Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal) pursues various leads whilst looking for the girls.

This movie is filled with brilliant performances. Hugh Jackman is absolutely fantastic as the distraught father of one of the kidnap victims. The way this character evolves is absolutely fascinating to watch. Jake Gyllenhall is also great as the restless detective.  He’s able to bring a sense of narcissism without ever becoming too unlikable. On top of that the police training he received during End of Watch is evident when he’s searching buildings. Finally, Jake brings authority to any scene when he has to boss around other officers.

The supporting cast is also fantastic, with the standouts being Paul Dano as the initial suspect Alex Jones and Terrance Howard and Viola Davis as the distraught parents of the other missing daughter. Even the child actors who play the little girls, Erin Gerasimovich and Kyla-Drew, give convincing performances which isn’t always the case with such young performers.

Nothing in Prisoners feels unrealistic. The family life portrayed in the initial scenes feel genuine and none of the characters are over-eccentric. Dialog is engaging whilst still feeling natural. On top of that you understand why characters make mistakes or do things that aren’t socially acceptable.

The cinematography by Roger Deakins is also very well done, with a cold and subdued look to it which is just perfect for the tone. The lighting at night also feels very natural. I’d argue Sicario does some more interesting things with lighting in certain scenes, but otherwise I’d have no ‘faults’ with how this movie was shot.

If I had any complaints it would be the ending, and even then those complaints would be extremely pedantic and by no means ruin this movie. Some might not feel it has a lot of replay value

Prisoners is an intense, realistic crime drama that certainly deserves more recognition. The performances are brilliant and despite a lengthy run time of two and a half hours, it never feels overly slow. If you haven’t seen this one I’d highly recommend it.

Regards

Your Writer