Saturday 24 February 2018

Unlikely robbers steal a few laughs



Padraic McKiernan,

Tower Heist

Cert 12A

Since the beginning of filmmaking, there has been an established bad guy dictated by history or the political situations of the time, Germans, Soviets, Arabs, the IRA. With politics and ratings systems what they now are, Wall Street has kindly stepped in to offer hateable, remorseless villains who ruthlessly destroy lives via only psychological and emotional gore.

Josh (Ben Stiller) is building manager of the Tower where he oils the cogs in the lives of the extremely rich. He has a bantery faux friend relationship with the penthouse resident Arthur Shaw (Alan Alda) who likes to parade his humble roots and his wealth. But Shaw gets busted for fraud, a fraud that has lost the pensions and savings of the staff of the Tower. The FBI (in the love interest shape of Tea Leoni) can't get Shaw, so Josh seeks revenge. A life of law abiding has left him with poor crime resources but he gathers a band of unlikely lads; Casey Affleck, Matthew Broderick and Michael Peña and his one crime acquaintance Slide (Eddie Murphy) -- and they plot a robbery of the penthouse.

Director Brett 'Rush Hour trilogy' Ratner isn't known for plot intricacies and, true enough, in terms of plot detail it is skimpy, especially for a heist movie. You had to concentrate hard on Ocean's Eleven to follow the detail, not here. Stiller is the nearly straight guy as usual, it's good to see Murphy in the flesh, as opposed to a fat suit or animated donkey, Broderick is perfect, Peña is spot on, Affleck walks it and Gabourey Sidibe gets a nice little change from Precious.

Tower Heist is shorter on laughs than might be expected given the Murphy/Stiller combination, however it's played for constant low level chuckles rather than endless belly laughs and there are a few really funny scenes. Silly, at times ridiculous, it's inoffensive, forgettable and great fun, suitable for all but the very little.


Now showing

In Time

Cert 12A

Get the fiction part right in the sci-fi genre and you'll usually find the science takes care of itself. That's certainly the case with In Time, as the brilliance of the concept that inspires this exhilarating sci-fi drama endures long after what Jennifer Aniston infamously referred to as the "science bit" has lost some of its sparkle.

Starring Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried, the action takes place in a dystopian future world where time is literally money, greed is good, and immortality is now an option for a privileged few. Advances in genetic engineering have arrived at a scenario where citizens stop ageing at 25. The catch for a stellar cast, that also includes Cillian Murphy, is that you don't live past 26 unless you can extend the time credits on a high-tech internal stopwatch gizmo that everyone wears on their forearm.

Accordingly, society is divided between the time-poor and the time-rich. The mass of humanity are shown to eke out desperate lives scraping for survival in a world where a cup of coffee can take four minutes off your life. It's a different scenario in the exalted confines of New Greenwich where the privileged few have literally time on their hands and thus enjoy lifestyles of Gatsby-esque excess.

Enter Will Salas (Timberlake) as the man destined to subvert this status quo. He's a child of the "ghetto" but a time donation from a disaffected toff allows him to cross time zones and threaten the guardians of what's described as Darwinian Capitalism. Faster than you can say Bonnie and Clyde, he's teamed up with trust-fund type Sylvia (Seyfried) for some system threatening time-banditry.

With credits such as The Truman Show on his CV, Andrew Niccol has earned a reputation for quality work and he doesn't disappoint in this instance. The futuristic backdrop is beautifully realised, while Timberlake and Seyfried convince in the central roles. In Time is far from flawless and loses its way a little towards the conclusion, but those in the market for an entertaining sci-fi high will find it takes you where you want to go.


Now showing

The Future

Cert 15A

Back in 2005, Miranda July's first feature Me and You and Everyone We Know was widely liked and, although whimsical, it was accessible enough. Her newest creation, The Future, has been welcomed in many quarters as a meaningful reflection on life. From the outset I have to confess that I didn't love Me and You ... , but I didn't even like The Future.

It starts off as a good idea, in one month Sophie (July) and Jason (Hamish Linklater) will adopt an injured cat, Paw Paw, whose voice is the first thing we hear. They regard this unexpected month of freedom as a sign that they should do something important so they both jack in jobs and make plans that they do not complete. Sophie aims to fulfil her dream of being a creative dancer but the time and space to do this overwhelm her. Jason follows some notion he never knew he had to save the earth. He ends up making an unusual friendship with an elderly man, and she ends up having an affair with Marshall (David Warshofsky).

As a synopsis that may make the film sound misleadingly eventful -- for it is slow, short on action and on interest. The characters July creates in general are lacklustre and random, but interestingly the ones that she writes for herself are unlikeable in a fey, toothless but vaguely passive-aggressive way.

The Future is often just random for the sake of being random, at times so much so that it felt like it was being almost cynical. The talking cat, the talking moon, the lifeless people and the general tedium overshadowed the interesting possibilities like why we don't follow dreams and the desire to stop time when something unpleasant occurs. Metaphors are grossly overrated anyway, and this whole film felt tedious.


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