Monday 18 December 2017

Movie reviews: The Hitman's bodyguard, Everything, Everything, Final Portrait, Quest

  • The Hitman's Bodyguard (16, 118 mins), ★★
  • Everything, Everything (12A, 96 mins), ★★★
  • Final Portrait (15A, 90 mins) ★★★★
  • Quest (No cert, IFI, 105 mins) ★★★
Firing blanks: Samuel L Jackson and Ryan Reynolds don't make a winning team
Firing blanks: Samuel L Jackson and Ryan Reynolds don't make a winning team

A film so bad it gave your correspondent headaches, The Hitman's Bodyguard feels a bit like one of those corny but endearing 1980s buddy movies Hollywood no longer has the charm to make. Classic buddy pictures typically threw together mismatched protagonists who slowly became friends: Martin Brest's Midnight Run is the gold standard of the genre, and looks like Citizen Kane next to this thing. Ryan Reynolds is Michael Bryce, a down-on-his-luck bodyguard who gets a call from an old girlfriend. Amelia (Elodie Yung) is an Interpol agent and is on the run in England with Darius Kincaid (Samuel L Jackson), a notorious hitman and the key witness in an upcoming court case.

An eastern European dictator called Dukhovich (Gary Oldman) is on trial in the Hague: Kincaid can implicate him, Dukhovich wants him stopped.

Michael and Darius loath one another, but reluctantly join forces to travel to Holland with an army of thugs on their tail. In a different movie, Reynolds and Jackson might have made a winning team, but here their foul-mouthed joshing seems forced and Jackson, perhaps smelling a rat, sails wildly over the top. So does Gary Oldman, who showers his cast mates with salvoes of spit every time he issues a grandiose threat. Decent car chases, though.

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Everything, Everything reminded me of fairy tales like Sleeping Beauty and Rapunzel, and is based on a novel by Nicola Yoon. Eighteen-year-old Maddy (Amandla Stenberg) suffers from SCID, a chronic immune deficiency that leaves her susceptible to common germs. She's grown up isolated and never leaves her hermetically sealed home.

Her widowed mother (Anika Noni Rose) keeps her company, but Maddy yearns for adventure and is intrigued when a boy her age moves in next door. Olly (Nick Robinson) is fascinated by the elusive Maddy, and texts and calls lead to a clandestine encounter. But Maddy wants more and risks all by running away.

Everything, Everything looks and sounds like a lot of these disease-of-the-week teen dramas, and comes equipped with the prerequisite burbling light rock soundtrack. But it's slickly made, has a couple of decent twists, and Amandla Stenberg is a likeable young actress.

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Swiss artist Alberto Giacometti achieved international fame in the 1950s and 60s, mainly thanks to his haunting, distended sculptures of stick-like humans that seemed to echo the horrors of the Nazi death camps. Stanley Tucci's Final Portrait hones in on an intriguing incident late in Giacometti's life, when he asked the American writer James Lord to sit for a painting.

Though the artist (Geoffrey Rush) assures Lord (Arnie Hammer) the sitting will only take "an hour or two", it drags on for weeks and months, as Giacometti constantly paints and repaints a portrait he seemed determined never to finish.

Giacometti was a close friend of Samuel Beckett's, and Tucci's film starts to feel a bit like Waiting For Godot towards the end, as the polite American tries to extricate himself from a seemingly endless sitting. It's a very enjoyable drama, by turns hilarious and touching, and Rush gives a rich portrait of a dedicated craftsman who truly suffered for his art.

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Jonathan Olshefski's documentary Quest charts the travails of an extended family in one of America's poorest urban neighbourhoods. Originally intended to be celebration of the resilience of Chris and Christine'a Rainey, who run a music studio for would-be rappers on the mean streets of north Philadelphia, the film changed course suddenly when their teenage daughter was shot through the eye by a stray bullet.

Quest meanders somewhat, but is compelling in parts and gives a fascinating insight into the shocking iniquities of a deeply divided nation.

- Paul Whitington

Irish Independent

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