Tag Archives: Famke Janssen

Taken 2 (2012, Olivier Megaton), the unrated version

Besides a truly excellent real time (or very close to it) sequence where Maggie Grace avoids being kidnapped in order to help already kidnapped parents Liam Neeson and Famke Janssen, there's not much to Taken 2. Even the action-packed finale is a disappointment. I had been hoping it'd match that long sequence–which goes from a foot chase to car chase, with action moments throughout–but it's like everyone gave up and truncated the ending.

Maybe Neeson had it in his contract the movie could only run so long. A major part of his performance is his visible distain for the film; he incorporates the world weariness into the part well, but one can't help notice he doesn't run very often and many of the complicated action choreography happens when he's offscreen.

Still, director Megaton does a perfectly adequate job. Taken 2 is fast and dumb, no one seems to disagree. Writers Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen don't even try to fill the runtime with action and intrigue–there's a long first act setting up Janssen and Grace visiting Istanbul with Neeson. The writers pretend spending time with the characters will make the audience care, but really… no one cares. Not the writers, not the actors. They all do okay enough–even Grace, who looks about twenty-two as a teenager (which isn't bad, considering she was twenty-eight or so during filming).

Maybe it'd be better if Rade Serbedzija's villain weren't so lame, but why bother caring. Like I said, no one else does.

1.5/4★½

CREDITS

Directed by Olivier Megaton; written by Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen; director of photography, Romain Lacourbas; edited by Camille Delamarre and Vincent Tabaillon; music by Nathaniel Méchaly; production designer, Sébastien Inizan; produced by Besson; released by EuropaCorp.

Starring Liam Neeson (Bryan Mills), Maggie Grace (Kim), Famke Janssen (Lenore), Leland Orser (Sam), Jon Gries (Casey), D.B. Sweeney (Bernie), Luke Grimes (Jamie) and Rade Serbedzija (Murad Krasniqi).


RELATED

Advertisements

The Faculty (1998, Robert Rodriguez)

Robert Rodriguez gives his actors a lot of time in The Faculty. The supporting cast–mostly the titular faculty of a high school (albeit one suffering an alien invasion)–gets to be showy. The film opens with a great showcase for Bebe Neuwirth, Robert Patrick and Piper Laurie. The main cast of kids trying not to be assimilated, they get a lot of quiet time.

There's a lot of listening, a lot of thinking, a lot of reflecting. All amid this tightly paced teenage Body Snatchers. Kevin Williamson's script is careful to take the time to set up the characters. Rodriguez doesn't really use montage, instead of lets the camera dreamily float through the high school. He edits the film too; it's hard to imagine anyone else getting it right. Rodriguez cuts the film perfectly.

All of the principals–Elijah Wood, Jordana Brewster, Clea DuVall, Laura Harris, Shawn Hatosy, Josh Hartnett–are excellent. Every one of them gets at least five great moments in the film; the script allows the characters self-awareness, Rodriguez gives the actors room to essay it.

The standouts are DuVall, Hatosy and Hartnett. Their complexities are more omnipresent. DuVall's probably the best.

And the supporting cast is excellent too. Patrick, Neuwirth, Famke Janssen, Daniel von Bargen. Rodriguez doesn't have a bad performance in the lot of them. They make the fantastical not mundane, but vicious in context.

Thanks to the thoughtful verisimilitude on the part of all involved, The Faculty excels. It's a superior film.

4/4★★★★

CREDITS

Edited and directed by Robert Rodriguez; screenplay by Kevin Williamson, based on a story by David Wechter and Bruce Kimmel; director of photography, Enrique Chediak; music by Marco Beltrami; production designer, Cary White; produced by Elizabeth Avellan; released by Dimension Films.

Starring Elijah Wood (Casey), Clea DuVall (Stokely), Jordana Brewster (Delilah), Shawn Hatosy (Stan), Laura Harris (Marybeth), Josh Hartnett (Zeke), Salma Hayek (Nurse Harper), Famke Janssen (Miss Burke), Piper Laurie (Mrs. Olson), Christopher McDonald (Mr. Connor), Bebe Neuwirth (Principal Drake), Robert Patrick (Coach Willis), Usher Raymond (Gabe), Jon Stewart (Prof. Furlong), Daniel von Bargen (Mr. Tate), Jon Abrahams (F’%# You Boy) and Summer Phoenix (F’%# You Girl).


RELATED

The Wolverine (2013, James Mangold), the extended edition

The extended version of The Wolverine adds some twelve minutes to the theatrical version. I can’t quite remember the differences, but mostly it just makes the film seem longer. Mangold hasn’t got a good pace for it; the fault for that problem, however, lies with the screenwriters.

The film opens with a flashback, moves on to establishing what Hugh Jackman’s been up to since his last outing, then gets him over to Japan with sidekick Rila Fukushima. And then The Wolverine introduces enough suspicious people in five minutes Raymond Chandler would be shaking his head.

But Wolverine isn’t noir (though there are some reasonable Big Sleep comparisons–or should be) and it’s not exactly superhero action either. Mangold and screenwriters Mark Bomback and Scott Frank want to make the film about Jackman rediscovering his will to live. Except he kind of does it in the first sequence after the flashback. There are a whole lot of contrivances–not just in the plot itself, but in the backstory–to get Wolverine to the finish. Way too many.

Mangold just can’t direct the action. The extended cut, which does feature some more action, still doesn’t have the right action. It’s supposed to be a samurai movie, right? Then Jackman should be kicking ass in lengthy, visually dynamic fight sequences. Not surprisingly as Mangold’s direction for the film is mind-numbingly bland.

It’s long, it’s boring, it could be worse. But the studio clearly didn’t cut any good stuff from the theatrical release.

1.5/4★½

CREDITS

Directed by James Mangold; written by Mark Bomback and Scott Frank; director of photography, Ross Emery; edited by Michael McCusker; music by Marco Beltrami; production designer, François Audouy; produced by Lauren Shuler Donner and Hutch Parker; released by 20th Century Fox.

Starring Hugh Jackman (Logan), Rila Fukushima (Yukio), Tao Okamoto (Mariko), Sanada Hiroyuki (Shingen), Will Yun Lee (Harada), Svetlana Khodchenkova (Viper), Hal Yamanouchi (Yashida) and Famke Janssen (Jean Grey).


RELATED

The Wolverine (2013, James Mangold)

The Wolverine suffers from too many pots on the stove, a director in Mangold who can’t manage said pots and some really, really silly things. Like giant monsters silly.

The film’s at its best during a long chase sequence–both in terms of run time and story time–when Hugh Jackman is protecting Tao Okamoto throughout Japan. There’s a bullet train sequence, a lot of other running around stuff. It works. Sadly, it comes towards the beginning of the second act and there’s never anything quite as good later on. Maybe if Mangold could actually direct fight scenes the later stuff would have worked better, but he can’t.

Until the third act, the movie plays reasonably well. Mangold’s just mediocre, never bad. The worst things for most of Wolverine are Svetlana Khodchenkova’s ludicrously weak performance as one of the villains and Marco Beltrami’s atrocious, generic score. Maybe if Mangold had found one or two things to build around–like the score–the film would have worked better.

Instead, it flounders.

Jackman does well in the lead, but the script doesn’t ask him for much. Even though he’s got three character development arcs, none of them require any heavy lifting. Mark Bomback and Scott Frank’s script is stunningly lazy.

Okamoto is okay, nothing more, as the love interest. She’s too slight opposite Jackman. Rila Fukushima is a lot better as Jackman’s erstwhile sidekick.

Will Yun Lee is harmlessly lame.

The Wolverine’s full of potential with absolutely no payoff.

It’s Mangold’s fault.

1.5/4★½

CREDITS

Directed by James Mangold; written by Mark Bomback and Scott Frank; director of photography, Ross Emery; edited by Michael McCusker; music by Marco Beltrami; production designer, François Audouy; produced by Lauren Shuler Donner and Hutch Parker; released by 20th Century Fox.

Starring Hugh Jackman (Logan), Rila Fukushima (Yukio), Tao Okamoto (Mariko), Sanada Hiroyuki (Shingen), Will Yun Lee (Harada), Svetlana Khodchenkova (Viper), Hal Yamanouchi (Yashida) and Famke Janssen (Jean Grey).


RELATED