Film Review: The World Is Not Enough (1999)

What a clunker! Garbage’s brilliant theme song deserved so much better than The World Is Not Enough

“What are you doing here in Kazakhstan”

Right from the off, The World Is Not Enough shows us how frustrating it is going to be as it mixes the solid and the silly. The opening speedboat chase which features London so brilliantly and then ridonkulously moves onto land, blowing up MI5 so effectively and then doing nothing with it as a plot device, offering up a beautiful final scene for Desmond Llewelyn’s Q and then introducing John Cleese as new apprentice R… We won’t mention Goldie, nor his X-ray specs that shows women in their underwear but somehow leaves the men fully dressed…

Directed by Michael Apted, the film really suffers from a nonentity of a storyline. There’s good ideas in here – Robert Carlyle’s Renard had real potential as a cold villain with nothing to lose and getting M out in the field is a great way to have more Judi Dench – but nothing memorable is done with them. I’ve just finished watching and I have already forgotten what plot there was, the focus is just on action-based callbacks to previous Bond films whilst never getting anywhere near as good as any of them. A definite disappointment. Continue reading “Film Review: The World Is Not Enough (1999)”

TV Review: Luther Series 5

Luther Series 5 aka the one that maybe goes too far?

“Can we do that?
‘Within parameters…'”

Not quite flogging a dead horse yet, but the much anticipated fifth series of Luther indulges its title character far too much  in the name of shocks and thrills, whilst simultaneously begging us not to misunderstand him, Nina Simone’s glorious voice plays out over the violent wreckage of the final scene.

As a crime drama, Neil Cross’ Luther really does manage to come up with inventively appalling serial killers and attackers that seem design to lurk in nightmares (the bus murder here…). But it is also increasingly tied up in the mythology of the show itself, the design here clearly aiming for some kind of apotheosis. Continue reading “TV Review: Luther Series 5”

TV Review: Luther (Series 4, Episode 2)

“So, because you can’t believe it’s true, logically it’s false”

So the second and final part of Series 4 of Luther is done and well, it’s hard not to feel a little shortchanged. There’s been chatter about a movie and given that we only got 2 hours of screentime here, it’s hard to see why creator Neil Cross and star Idris Elba opted for a single two-parter split over two weeks as opposed the fiercer energy that a feature-length epic would surely have borne. 

Episode 1 aired last week and did a decent job of pulling us back into the world of DCI John Luther, delving back into the show’s mythology and the tangled web of his own past but also moving forward with the dastardly exploits of a new serial killer, which proved to be the main hook for Luther’s return from semi-retirement. Part Two continues the blend, as John Heffernan’s marvellously malevolent cannabalistic killer continues his rampage and Luther deals with the past impinging severely on his present. Continue reading “TV Review: Luther (Series 4, Episode 2)”

TV Review: Luther (Series 4, Episode 1)

“What do we do with something like this?”

It doesn’t quite seem right, calling this a new series of Luther when it is just two episodes, but the return of Idris Elba’s maverick DCI is something to be celebrated nonetheless. Neil Cross’ two-parter finds John Luther on a leave of absence from the Met (as opposed to having jacked it all in as we might have thought), sequestered in a coastal cottage hideaway and still reckoning with the loss of his cop partner DS Ripley after the events of the last series. Almost straightaway though, the show runs into the problems that mark the whole episode.

the first ever episode way back when). They’re both new to the franchise (though weirdly not unfamiliar to Luther) but as there’s so little time, we have to assume an instant familiarity with them, and with the circumstances of Alice’s death and a new serial killer who is eating his way through East London.  Continue reading “TV Review: Luther (Series 4, Episode 1)”

DVD Review: The 39 Steps

“Life never seems grim after a couple of fried eggs”

I haven’t quite made it to see The 39 Steps on the stage yet, it’s one of those shows that seems set to go nowhere and so I am waiting for a cast to arrive that will really excite me and finally get me into the Criterion Theatre to see it. In the meantime, I borrowed this 2008 BBC adaptation on DVD off a friend to fit into my weekend of spy thrillers. For anyone who hasn’t seen it before (like me), the story revolves around Richard Hannay who, finding himself wrongfully accused of murder in mid-1914, is forced on the run as he uncovers a dastardly plot to cause a major war led by a German spy ring somewhere in Scotland and finds himself being chased by the Germans, the British police and a mysterious bi-plane, even as he tries to save the nation from invasion.

This adaptation was written by Lizzie Mickery from John Buchan’s novel and directed by James Hawes so its pedigree was relatively high, but I have to admit to finding the whole thing a bit creaky. Part of the problem was the central casting of Rupert Penry-Jones as Hannay, an actor whom I’ve previously much enjoyed but who lacks much presence at all here as events just spiral on all around him. Hawes could have done with injecting much more pace into the production all-around too but Mickery’s writing doesn’t help as it lacks any real menace to convince us of the peril in which our hero finds himself in. Continue reading “DVD Review: The 39 Steps”

Review: Hamlet, National Theatre

“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so”

It is apparently a truth universally acknowledged that any actor aiming for greatness needs to tackle Hamlet, Shakespeare’s most revered epic, and it is now the turn of Rory Kinnear, under the directorial baton of Nicholas Hytner at the National Theatre to make his entry into the canon (this was the second preview). Recently we’ve had David Tennant and Jude Law, John Simm is currently performing it in Sheffield (I’ll be there on Wednesday) and Michael Sheen will be making his mark at the Young Vic next year. I don’t have a problem with this so much as just wish that there was a similar epic role for women which was restaged and revived as often to allow a comparable ticket to magnitude.

This is very much a modern-day Elsinore. Suited security guards with earpieces are ever-present, state of the art bugging technology is used, a briefcase of tools of torture is brandished and high-definition television cameras record political and battlefield broadcasts. Thus the familial quarrel at the heart of this play is firmly located in the wider political sphere of this dangerous Denmark and it is a mostly highly effective updating. Continue reading “Review: Hamlet, National Theatre”