Tuesday 17 July 2018

Movie reviews: Fifty Shades Freed, The 15.17 to Paris, The Mercy

Fifty Shades Freed *

The 15.17 to Paris *

The Mercy ***

Love bug: Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan team up again
Love bug: Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan team up again

Paul Whitington

Stupid, daft, implausible, remedial - these are just some of the words one could use to describe the Fifty Shades movie franchise. I cannot speak with authority about the books on which they're based, which may for all I know be exquisite examples of high mandarin prose, but these films have been good and stinky, like 80s soap opera episodes with high production values and smatterings of kinky sex.

In Fifty Shades Of Grey, feather-headed student Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) fell in love with a billionaire businessman called Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan), who had issues and a BDSM 'playroom' in his house.

Instead of running a mile, she started going out with him, and in Fifty Shades Darker, they got engaged! As Fifty Shades Freed opens, they return from what one presumes was a fairly raunchy honeymoon to find that Ana's deranged former boss Jack Hyde (Eric Johnson) is up to his old tricks. And when Ana suggests starting a family, Christian's reaction is not as she might have wished.

While watching this film, I achieved an almost transcendental level of boredom: nothing much happens, the sex is tedious, the plot would have been rejected as too flimsy by the producers of Murder, She Wrote. Johnson can walk and talk, but is not so hot at acting. Dornan is, and must bitterly regret ever having become entangled in this facile nonsense.

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A dark time for Paris and France, 2015 was bookended by the Charlie Hebdo and Bataclan attacks, but in August of that year, the public fought back. On a high-speed train journey from Amsterdam to Paris, a bozo called Ayoub El Khazzani emerged from a toilet and attempted to open fire with an assault rifle. It jammed and three American friends, two of whom were military, risked life and limb to bring El Khazzani down.

Clint Eastwood's 15:17 To Paris is only 94 minutes long, but feels interminable, and meanders inanely for long periods as we're told about the men's childhood bondings. The decision to cast Spencer Stone, Anthony Sadler and Alek Skarlatos as themselves is baffling because instead of 'I was there' veracity, we get stiffness. Film-makers use actors for a reason: they know how to tell stories with their faces, voices and bodies - amateurs do not.

After an hour or so of aimless waffle, the incident itself is thrown away in 10 minutes, accompanied by a predictable dose of jingoism. These guys are heroes no question: they deserve a better movie than this.

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A very ordinary film based on an extraordinary true story, The Mercy is set in 1968 and stars Colin Firth as Donald Crowhurst, an inventor and amateur sailor who unwisely entered an around-the-world yacht race.

Donald had set up a business based on an invention that used radio beacons to determine a boat's position. But it wasn't going well.

When Crowhurst found out that The Sunday Times was sponsoring a 'Golden Globe' around-the-world yacht race, he decided that winning it would rescue the family fortunes. He had no yachting experience to speak of, but built a state-of-the-art trimaran that, in theory, would get him around the globe faster than conventional yachts. His wife Clare (Rachel Weisz) is supportive but quietly terrified, and watches plaintively from the dock as her husband sails away. But things soon go awry and as he loiters desperately in the Atlantic, Donald begins to lose his mind.

He also began sending in false positions that put him in the South Pacific and made him sound like a contender. But poor old Donald was more interested in what his family thought of him than in cheating, and he emerges here as a tragically overextended dreamer. Like the unfortunate yachtsman, James Marsh's film gets stuck in the doldrums after a solid start, and wanders aimlessly though not unpleasantly towards its sombre conclusion.

Irish Independent

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