Sunday 18 March 2018

Movie reviews: Hot Pursuit, 13 Minutes, Beyond the Reach, Iris

'Charmless': Sofia Vergara is under-used in 'Hot Pursuit', which co-stars Reese Witherspoon
'Charmless': Sofia Vergara is under-used in 'Hot Pursuit', which co-stars Reese Witherspoon

Paul Whitington rounds up this week's non-Mission Impossible releases...

Anne Fletcher's Hot Pursuit (1*, 12A, 87mins) is not the first film to try and recapture the easy charm of the classic 80s road movie Midnight Run, but it might just be the worst. Reese Witherspoon, who also produced it, stars as Rose Cooper, a young Texas policewoman whose intense devotion to procedure has made her a laughing stock.

She gets a big chance to redeem herself when she's detailed to help accompany a drug cartel informer called Riva and his wife to testify in Dallas. But when she and her partner are attacked by gunmen, Rose and Daniella Riva (Sofia Vergara) take off across the state alone, and it soon becomes clear they're not going to get along.

As she's proved time and again in Modern Family, Miss Vergara has impeccable comic timing, but even she struggles with Hot Pursuit's stinky script, and is yet again asked to play a brassy Latina. Reese Witherspoon is dreadful as the rulebook-spouting Rose, and hardly a single joke in this crass and charmless movie comes off.

After the unmitigated disaster that was Diana, Oliver Hirschbiegel returns to the safe ground of German wartime history with his fact-based thriller, 13 Minutes (3*, No Cert, IFI, 116mins). Mr. Hirschbiegel is best known for Downfall, his outstanding 2004 film that dramatised Adolf Hitler's last days, and in 13 Minutes he tells the story of a little-known German hero who tried to take the dictator out and save the world a lot of trouble.

Georg Elser (Christian Friedel) was a carpenter from Wurttemberg who grew tired of watching his country go to the dogs and meticulously planned an assassination attempt at a Munich Hall where Hitler was due to speak. He gets everything right, but when the Fuhrer leaves unexpectedly early, the bomb's effects are wasted.

Elser is then caught trying to sneak across the border, and faces the nightmare of a Gestapo interrogation. 13 Minutes is solidly made and meticulous in its detail, and leaves one in no doubt as to how chillingly organised the Nazis were when it came to the business of torture. But as a drama it never really gets off the ground, and feels a good half-hour too long.

Midway through Beyond the Reach (2* 12A, 91mins), I became convinced I'd seen it before in the 1980s, on video perhaps, and starring not Michael Douglas but Kirk. Jean-Baptiste Leonetti's film has that trashy, throwaway, knowingly silly B-movie thing that charms some but rarely me.

Michael Douglas is John Madec, a billionaire businessman who arrives in a small town on the edge of the Mojave Desert looking to hunt big game.

The local sheriff recommends Ben (Jeremy Irvine), a gifted guide, and the pair set off into the wilderness in Madec's hi-tech SUV. Madec is an arrogant, flashy twit, and when Ben finds him a good location the businessman starts taking wild pot shots and kills a local eccentric called Charlie. Ben is the only witness, and soon Madec decides the young man can't be trusted, and begins hunting him through the baking desert.

After an opening half hour or so that verges on the competent, Beyond the Reach reveals itself as a plodding, one-note, hack thriller with not nearly enough wit to make it work. The talents of Mr. Douglas are woefully underused, and the film's ending is unintentionally hilarious.

And finally, a word about Iris (3*, No Cert, Light House, 80mins), a slight but fairly enjoyable documentary about Iris Apfel, a 93-year-old force of nature who's known in her native New York as the "rare bird of fashion". An interior decorator and fashion consultant, Iris redesigned the White House for nine presidents and is now lauded as a fashion icon.

This celebration of her life is a lot flatter than it might have been, but Iris herself is kind of fabulous. At one point she notes wryly that if you don't think outside the box now and then, "you might as well jump in the box yourself".

Coming soon:

Fantastic Four (Miles Teller, Kate Mara); Diary of a Teenage Girl (Kristen Wiig, Alexander Skarsgard); Manglehorn (Al Pacino); A Doctor's Sword.

Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation review: 'great fun and Cruise and Pegg make a winning double act'

Irish Independent

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