Tag Archives: Ian McNeice

No Escape (1994, Martin Campbell)

No Escape opens with this lovely piece of music from composer Graeme Revell. It’s sort of the film’s theme music and it doesn’t fit at all with the action or sci-fi elements integral to the plot. The film’s this odd mix of genres and filmmaking approaches. At times it’s anti-climatic to such an incredible point, it’s almost like the point is to keep the viewer uneasy.

Some of the strange plotting might be because it’s from a novel and the screenwriters are keeping as much of that source novel as possible. Or not. I haven’t read the novel.

But it’s an odd type of action film.

Campbell casts No Escape quite well. He gets a great scene out of practically every actor. Lance Henriksen and Jack Shepard do some excellent work here, as do Ernie Hudson and Don Henderson. Stuart Wilson runs hot and cold as the villain. He’s never quite frightening and the more forced lunatic moments fail… but there are occasionally these quiet ones and they work.

Kevin Dillon’s okay; his part is the weakest written. Except Michael Lerner. Though Lerner’s just goofy overall.

As for lead Ray Liotta… Liotta spends most of the film being a disaffected action hero. But it all works out—even though it’s obvious, when he finally does get emotional, there’s a significant resonance.

Campbell’s direction is excellent. Phil Meheux’s photography and Terry Rawlings’s editing are essential.

No Escape sort of takes itself too seriously. And that sincerity makes it work.

1.5/4★½

CREDITS

Directed by Martin Campbell; screenplay by Michael Gaylin and Joel Gross, based on a novel by Richard Herley; director of photography, Phil Meheux; edited by Terry Rawlings; music by Graeme Revell; production designer, Allan Cameron; produced by Gale Anne Hurd; released by Savoy Pictures.

Starring Ray Liotta (Robbins), Lance Henriksen (The Father), Stuart Wilson (Marek), Kevin Dillon (Casey), Kevin J. O’Connor (Stephano), Don Henderson (Killian), Ian McNeice (King), Jack Shepherd (Dysart), Michael Lerner (The Warden) and Ernie Hudson (Hawkins).


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Year of the Comet (1992, Peter Yates)

As far as I know, Year of the Comet completes the Louis Jordan as a mad scientist in search of eternal youth (continuing from his two Swamp Thing movies). There’s something so perfect about Jordan pursuing eternal youth, it’s not even questioned. William Goldman uses the device to complicate things in Year of the Comet, sort of to get the ball rolling.

Goldman’s plot for Comet is real simple–run the two protagonists, Penelope Ann Miller and Tim Daly, through Scotland and then France (in the most scenic locations), give them complications and let them be charming together. Daly shows off his mischievous charm here (big shock Comet went as unappreciated as the next time he showed it off–on the great show “Eyes”) and Miller does her charismatic leading comedic actress thing here and both work great. Yates really knows how to direct Miller here too, for great effect, and it doesn’t hurt Goldman’s screenplay seems catered to her.

Most of the scenes not concerned with being scenic (Scotland looks fantastic) have a lot of witty banter going and Goldman writes fine banter for charismatic leads. He gives Jordan’s character some fantastic lines too and Jordan, more than usual, really works together with Miller. They only have a couple scenes together, maybe three, but all of them are memorable.

The film runs less than ninety minutes–IMDb trivia suggests something happened between the start of principal photography and post–but Yates wisely casts very distinctive actors for smaller roles. In the biggest, Ian Richardson as Miller’s father, Shane Rimmer (in three scenes) as Daly’s friend and Art Malik as a suave bad guy (Malik’s the wine to Daly’s Budweiser). Malik’s only got three scenes, but his first one–with a great monologue for Miller–is fantastic. Yates knows how to make the comedy play here. So much so, it’s a surprise how well he turns around and does the other stuff.

There are a lot of distinct sequences in the film, but I’m only going to mention a couple. First is a fight on Loch Ness, totally fogged over, between Daly and Miller on one boat and scary-looking Nick Brimble on another. Yates mixes comedy, action and suspense–lots of suspense–and it’s a fantastic scene. (The film’s got excellent sound design). Oddly, that boat sequence is the one I want to see OAR the most (Comet is only available in pan and scan, the UK DVD apparently from the 1992 VHS master), just because Yates implies having such fantastic composition for it.

The second scene is the helicopter chase. It shouldn’t work, a helicopter chase through Scotland, but it really does. Yates has the right timing, Goldman’s script sets it up and closes it, and the music (by Hummie Mann) is perfect.

Year of the Comet is a lean–could have been longer in the beginning, I’m not sure with what, but with more–comedy throwback. I just wish someone would put it out uncropped.

3/4★★★

CREDITS

Directed by Peter Yates; written by William Goldman; director of photography, Roger Pratt; edited by Ray Lovejoy; music by Hummie Mann; production designer, Anthony Pratt; produced by Yates and Nigel Wooll; released by Columbia Pictures.

Starring Penelope Ann Miller (Margaret Harwood), Tim Daly (Oliver Plexico), Louis Jourdan (Philippe), Art Malik (Nico), Ian Richardson (Sir Mason Harwood), Ian McNeice (Ian), Tim Bentinck (Richard Harwood), Nick Brimble (Jamie) and Shane Rimmer (T.T. Kelleher).


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