I Love My Mum (2019)

Have you heard of this film? Me neither. Turns out there’s a reason for that, it’s….well it’s kind of small. You know how some films are definite cinema pieces? This isn’t one of them, it’s made for watching at home in the middle of the day. You know what it felt like? It felt like an extended episode of a sitcom. Kind of like Young Offenders (which was turned into a tv series later on), but nowhere near as good. I watched the trailer and thought it seemed amusing but forgettable, and the film itself is the same. It’s not the funniest film you’ll see all year, but it’s a good way to kill time.

The central relationship really works though. You genuinely believe that these two characters have a love-hate relationship. Do you know what it reminded me of? Steptoe and Son. The two characters seem to dislike each other a lot, the younger one has dreams of moving and becoming something bigger, but is being held back by the parent who depends on them. This does lead to ultimately the worst part of the film where it turns out the mum lied about having cancer. She says she did it because she was worried that he would leave and she’d be alone. That revelation kind of ruins a character who was already very close to being unlikeable. There are too many moments where she gets so close to crossing the line to being awful, then gets slightly brought back. But all of them together, PLUS the ending ruin any sort of empathy you would have for her. It’s a shame as the son is actually kind of likeable in a weird way. Oddly gullible in a sweet way. There’s a moment near the end where you find out a woman he married was just doing it to convince him to smuggle drugs. When he realises the truth it’s actually kind of sad, but it makes his mum look worse as she just insults him instead of supporting him. It’s a shame as if her character was toned down it would make her likeable. All she needed was some redeeming qualities. I mean the film does work. The plot makes sense, it’s well directed and it does have some incredibly smart and funny lines.

None of that can make up for what I found the most disappointing thing about this film: former Chelsea player Frank Lebouef. Now a big part of this film is that whilst the mum has a British passport, the son doesn’t as he’s technically French. His dad is played by Frank Lebouef, and that disappointed me. Not because it’s him, but because it wasn’t him. He’s just playing the characters dad, I personally felt it would have meant more if he played himself. You could have got a lot of comedy out of the main character finding out his dad is actually a famous football player (especially if you establish that he hated Chelsea). I feel that was a wasted comedic opportunity, and that kind of sums up this film; a film of wasted opportunities and potential.

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Brightburn (2019)

Okay, so every year I do end of year awards. These include the good (best actress, best film, etc), but also the bad (worst film, worst moment, etc). Usually these are decided near the end of the year once I’ve had distance from a lot of things, that way my response isn’t too immediate and I don’t put a meh film as one of the worst films of the year. It takes something truly special to get nominated for an award that soon after seeing it. For that to happen I have to be 100% certain it will deserve it. Why am I mentioning that now? Because this will get nominated, in fact it’s probably the frontrunner for one of the awards. So which one?

Best film?

I mean, it’s about what if Superman was evil, I love dark unique films and this fits it. But it’s not that. It’s way too pedestrian for that, and it never lives up to the potential that the concept promises. It feels way too restrained but I’m not sure what by.

Best actor for Jackson A. Dunn

He plays the title role as a young teen coming to terms with the fact he’s essentially God. A fascinating character that a lot of young actors would kill for. So is that where it wins? Nope, he is good, very good in fact, but not great.

Scariest Film

I mean, the idea of a Superman-like character being evil is a terrifying concept to think about. But it’s not that. A lot of the violent scenes come off more comical than scary. There’s a moment where he snaps a character’s hand, it’s the first piece of ultraviolence in the film, and it was met with laughter in the screening I was at.

Best Character

It has to be that, right? I’ve never been invested in Superman as a character as I’ve felt he’s too good and perfect. So a twist on that should enthral me, right? Nope, it makes so many allusions to Superman that it doesn’t feel like a real character in itself. It’s so in debt to its influences that it never stands out as an independent thing.

Best Moment

Close. This film needs chaos and violence, but 90% of it was in the trailer. Actually now I think about it, most of the film was in the trailer. Almost all of the major story beats, including the ending, were in the trailer. IIRC, two of the main characters final lines are in the trailer. That’s just weird. It does come close with the post-credits scene though. Setting up potential sequels and spin-offs which do excite me. Yeah this film kind of suffers the same problem as M.Night’s Glass Trilogy, where at the end of each of the three films (Unbreakable, Split, Glass) I wasn’t excited about what I just saw, but I was excited to see what happened next (not excited enough to go out of my way to see them, but meh). Same here, I want to see what happens next. This film seems very much like a prequel to a much better film, but there’s a chance that film (a kind of evil Justice League) might not happen. Which is a damn shame.

So, which award will this be nominated for? I’m ashamed to say:

Biggest Disappointment.

I really wanted to like this film. I bigged it up to people for months, so for it to be so boring is a huge disappointment. It felt too long despite only being 90 minutes. It had some interesting moments but overall it just felt like I was playing catch up to the trailer. This should have been great, yet it’s not even okay.

Yesterday (2019)

The basic concept of this film is a guy wakes up in a world where only he can remember The Beatles. They’re one of a few musical artists that that concept would work for. There’s them, Elvis, Queen, that’s it. There are big bands (Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath), and there are influential ones, but very few are in that place where almost anybody can name 20 songs by them immediately. They’re 3 of the only bands where you occasionally forget they’ve got songs you don’t know because of how many songs you do know.

Trouble is, it takes longer than it should to get there, and doesn’t really show how different the world would be. It doesn’t seem to have removed their effects (with the exception of a quick joke about Oasis no longer existing, a very quick joke which is NEVER touched upon again, which is weird as it’s established the character sang Wonderwall at a school talent show, he doesn’t decide to then record and release that song too.) There are moments where it shows other things no longer exist for some reason (Cigarettes, Coca Cola, Harry Potter) but they’re quick one-off jokes and never built on. That feeling of wasted potential is on that I got a lot through this film. Particularly during two moments near the end.

1) There’s a scene near the end where he performs on a rooftop. A rooftop gig, in a Beatles film? This will be important. The Beatles’ rooftop gig was thought to be the end of an era, one of the true closing points of the band. In this? It’s just another gig. It doesn’t even get broken up by the police.

2) In this universe, John Lennon lives. The main character goes to see him, then decides to apologise to the woman he’s hurt. Now if only there was a John Lennon song which would be appropriate for that occasion. One where he says he didn’t mean to hurt her and he’s sorry that he made her cry. If only.

It’s things like that which make it seem like this wasn’t a passion project. It doesn’t seem written by someone with an obvious deep love for the band, it seems like someone who buys almost exclusively greatest hits and chart compilations. Someone who considers Bryan Adams “hard rock”.

On the upside; the central romance is actually believable and heartfelt. You actually want them to end up together. They play well off each other and are a cute couple. The ensemble cast itself is pretty good, although Kate McKinnon does continue to be slightly too over the top at times, which doesn’t mesh well with the other performances which are more restrained. I also question the Ed Sheeran role. He plays himself well, it just feels a bit weird. At times it feels more like it’s promoting “the genius of Ed Sheeran” rather than The Beatles. It also teases him turning against the main character and becoming the antagonist driven by jealousy and resentment, but it never happens. It also has James Corden playing himself in a scene I’m still baffled by. I think it was a dream sequence (if so it shouldn’t be in the trailer, dream sequences NEVER should be the trailer, it’s a fucking cop-out), but I’m not sure. If it actually happened then it was glossed over completely, but if it was just a dream sequence then it wasn’t needed. Just a bit weird.

I mentioned earlier how it seemed like Ed Sheeran would be the antagonist, it also performs a fake out with two other characters as well, played by “I know them from somewhere” actors Sarah Lancashire and Justin Edwards. It’s played with that they know the truth, that he stole the songs, and they do. They’re the only two other people who know the truth, but they promise to keep quiet as they just miss the music so much. It’s a very sweet moment that is beautifully built up, and leads to the John Lennon appearance which is without a doubt the emotional highlight of the film both for the audience and the main character.

So I think you should see this, but ideally in a packed screening. If you watch it in an almost empty screen it won’t quite hit as well. Failing that, gather the family around and watch it at Christmas on iPlayer (when it will DEFINITELY be on in the future)

Child’s Play (2019)

This is the first one of the series I’ve seen in the cinema (The first one I ever saw, incidentally, was the fourth one). So this was quite a big moment for me. Remakes/reboots can be terrible though, particularly when it comes to horror movies. Was curious about this because the trailers didn’t really do a good job of selling it, to be perfectly honest I was disappointed by the trailers, the way it was edited made me worried that the actual film wouldn’t have the right tone.

Thankfully this film works. I’m not sure if it’s better than the first one, it’s an entirely different film. I think this film does more though. It has a lot more satire to it. More interesting human characters (even if they aren’t as adorable as the original Andy), and more interesting kills. I think the issue is people are comparing it to the original series as a whole, and not just the first movie, or even as just a piece of work on it’s own.

The big difference between this and the original? No voodoo. This isn’t a film about a serial killer getting his soul transferred into a doll, it’s about an A.I system. A disgruntled worker removes the safety protocols from a self-teaching robot. This fundamentally changes a lot of things, for one it makes the link between Chucky and Andy a lot stronger. Chucky genuinely cares for Andy (as much as a robot can) so his kills are made not from malice but to protect Andy from those who cause him harm (like when he strangles a cat that scratches him). This creates a much more interesting dynamic between the two, and is a lot creepier. I think it improves it as quite a few of the kills in the original didn’t really make strategic sense. In this the kills are done for a reason, that alone makes it a lot more interesting.

Another worry was that Chucky was no longer voiced by Brad Dourif. His voice was a huge part of that character, and you had to wonder how they were going to cope with replacing such an integral part of the franchise. Which unlucky bastard would they get to attempt to fill the void of one of the greatest vocal performances of horror? Oh, they got MARK FUCKING HAMILL? Yeah, I’m all for that. He NAILS the performance here. Coming off not as a manipulative killer like Dourif’s Chucky was, but like a broken angel. He sounds genuinely hurt and confused when Andy doesn’t respond to him like he wants him to. His voice performance is surrounded by other great performances too. The main 3 kid characters are great, the dynamic between them reminiscent of the Losers Club from IT.

And now onto the bad. It feels a little restrained, especially in the final section. The closing stretch takes place in a toy store, where Chucky takes control over all the wi-fi enabled toys (which is a lot). I expected this to be a true highlight, pure chaos and thrills which will build on the earlier kills to be all-out mayhem and one of the highlights of the year. As it is, it’s just another scene. With the exception of the BRILLIANT opening kill (well, the kill itself is kind of meh, but the way he kind of stumbles about whilst in costume and sprays a random kid with blood is brilliantly brutal), it feels lacking. It’s missing that sense of chaos and brutality that I felt the scene needed. It’s got multiple characters locked in a room full of things that can kill them, yet not enough happened for me to remember it (I can remember about 3 things that happened, and that’s it). Maybe if I didn’t have such high expectations I wouldn’t be so disappointed but as it I can’t help but feel a little bit let down.

So in summary; if you enjoyed the original series, I think you’ll enjoy this. It’s an entirely different animal altogether, but one you’ll still enjoy. It also has a piece of music that is both cute yet kind of creepy (sung by Mark Hamill).

Toy Story 4 (2019)

I don’t care about this movie. I don’t care that it’s missing one of the main voice actors to him sadly passing on. I don’t care that it seems like a cash-grab. And I don’t care that it kind of overrides the perfect ending of Toy Story 3. I don’t care about any of this, because I fucking loved this movie. I loved this movie from the opening scene, a flashback to between Toy Story 2 and 3 that makes a nice change of pace for these films, normally they end with you crying, this film starts with it. From the moment this film opens it grabs you by the heart and never lets go, culminating in what I believe is one of the great closers of all time when it comes to movie series. The others felt like potentially they could have ended the series, this feels like it has to, there’s no way to continue it in a satisfactory way.

I did think that of the third film at the time, but looking back that was possibly a bit naive to assume that just because Andy (and the audience) held Woody in high esteem, that Bonnie would too. I’ve seen some weird reviews of this film calling Bonnie a bitch because she doesn’t play with Woody, which is strange because, you know, she’s a child, and children sometimes get bored of certain toys. I think that’s why it’s weird when people call Sid from the first movie a psychopath because he mutilated toys, forgetting that just because we know they’re alive, doesn’t mean he does. If Pixar made a movie called Lettuce, about sentient salad, would that mean the people in the film who ate it are evil? No, they’re just hungry.

They’re not the only weird reviews, I’ve also seen some really weird reviews saying things like “I didn’t like it”. Which is unfathomable to me. If you liked the first 3 (i.e. are you a human?), then you’ll like this one too. It’s not wildly different, but it’s also not the same. It’s the kind of film only Pixar would make. It plays with expectations brilliantly, setting up expected villains only to pull the rug away from their villainess. Before that, they do seem genuinely creepy and it made me think I really want a Pixar horror film.

Onto the best thing about this film: it looks SUPERB. You kind of forget it’s animated after a while, there are so many things going in the background, nothing exciting, but it really helps build the fact that this is reality. The performances are good, but most of the actors have been playing these characters for decades, so that’s to be expected. The new ones hold their weight too. Keanu Reeves slots into this universe brilliantly, as do Key And Peele. Christina Hendricks is one of the best additions though, not as comedic as the other two but responsible for a lot of the emotional depth this film has. The true new MVP though? Tony Hale, in the wrong hands this character would be annoying as hell. If you gave this role to a comedy actor known best for madcap fast-speaking (Kevin Hart, Jim Carrey etc) then it would have been too much, it wouldn’t have seemed real. Hale plays him with just the right vulnerability, but also the comedic chops to make repeated suicide attempts in a kids movie socially acceptable

So in summary, go see this film, in fact I’m disappointed you haven’t already. Yeah it’s almost 2 hours long, but it really doesn’t feel like it, it flies by.

Ma (2019)

I enjoyed this, but I think I would have enjoyed it more if I didn’t see any trailers. This film is a real slow-burner. It’s all building up to the final moments, but too many of those were in the trailer, which kind of ruins it as it means you’re spending a lot of time building up to something you know is going to happen.

That’s one of the films biggest downfalls, that whilst it is good, it’s not exciting. You’re not focused on what IS happening, because you’re too busy thinking about what you know WILL happen. That’s a shame because what is happening is a really good piece of film-making backed up by some great performances. Some of the character work could be stronger. Ma’s descent into madness is kind of frustratingly handled. You know like when a sitcom has planned a romance, but the series has like 24 episodes so the romance aspect is incredibly drawn out and stop-start, so it seems like things keep putting them back at square one you keep having those “oh, we like each other” moments? Yeah, it’s like that. It’s incredibly stop-start to the point where there are too many breaking moments. On the bright side, this means that when THAT moment happens (she runs someone over and leaves them for dead) it is IMMENSELY satisfying. The whole closing stretch is superb, but it is a somewhat (dare I say) boring journey to get there.

It doesn’t help that a lot of the characters are dicks, there’s not many you sympathise with. This would be okay if some of the kills happened earlier as then you’d have some catharsis from their pain, but because it takes so long for the violence to happen you just end up watching terrible people being awful for most of the film.

I’ll say now though, NONE of this is due to the performances. Octavia Spencer continues to show that she can do almost anything. I’m pretty sure Diana Silvers is the love child of both Liv Tyler and Anne Hathaway. McKaley Miller as well is perfect for the role and I want to see more of her work. Luke Evans is suitably disgusting and creepy, in a way I didn’t think he’d be able to do.

I’ve mentioned loving the ending, there’s one exception to that, the final shot. Spoiler warning by the way. The film ends with Ma realising her situation is helpless (her house is burning down with her inside it), accepting her fate she goes back to her bedroom and lays with the corpse of Luke Evans character, it’s kind of sweet and a great ending for a tragic character who only wanted to be accepted. It’s a beautiful closing shot full of pathos, just the two of them together in death, ruined by an aerial shot of the house burning down. I feel that shot kind of took away from the moment and made it feel smaller.

X-Men: Dark Phoenix (2019)

I’m always wary when people describe films as “one of the worst of the year”, particularly when it comes to films with female leads (the new Ghostbusters, for example, was at worst, inoffensive and bland, yet received the vitriol usually reserved for a fart at a funeral). Let me reassure you, this film is as bad as you have heard. I haven’t seen anything this bad since the new Hellboy. In fact, I think this might be worse, it seems to fail in every single aspect of what makes a film good.

1. It Doesn’t Fit The X-Men Timeline

Like, at all. People criticise the MCU for being inconsistent with timelines, but this just takes the piss. Let’s get the obvious out of the way; so there are essentially two X-men timelines in terms of cast, right? There’s the old one (which is technically the new one as the films are all set in the present day), with Patrick Stewart etc. Then there are the new ones (which are the old ones as they’re prequels) starring McAvoy etc. The first Stewart film was set in 2000, whereas the McAvoy ones start in 1962, this one is set in 1992, so 8 years away from Stewart, but 30 away from McAvoy, so obviously they use the McAvoy casting group. That’s f*cking weird.

2. Pulls A Snyder

As I’ve probably before when mentioning Batman Vs. Superman etc, Zack Snyder has a very specific problem with his directing style: he creates good looking shots, but to get to them people do very stupid things. This film has a tendency to do the same thing, well, it attempts to, it forgets to do the “make the actual shot look good” part, so you end up with shots which they build up illogically. One in particular that stands out is when they’re rescuing people in space, and one of the X-Men exits the spaceship to save someone and ends up just floating in space, holding one of the other characters (presumed) lifeless body, and instead of going straight back to the ship (you know, where they can breathe), he just stays staring there for like 10 seconds.

3. The dialogue.

The dialogue here is, well it’s not good. It has some of the worst dialogue Jennifer Lawrence has ever had to utter (which considering she was in Serena, really takes something). There’s one line in particular is cringeworthy:

“We’ve saved you so many times, maybe you ought to rename us X-Women”

This comes immediately after a scene where two male characters are integral to saving lives, so it makes NO sense and is just there to get a “woo” moment from the audience. It also wastes the one F-Bomb they have, wasting it on a character who delivers it with all the menace of strawberry yoghurt. Completely wasted, he delivers it flatly, and none of the characters even respond to it.

4. Wasting characters.

It’s not just the f-word they waste. They have Quicksilver, who is one of the best characters in the franchise (and handled A LOT better in this series than it was in the MCU), and they decide to sideline him for most of the film. This is really weird as just after that they kill off Mystique (Apparently, because Jennifer Lawrence didn’t want to play the character anymore). Now, this is tipped to be the last movie in the franchise, so wouldn’t it have made more sense to kill Quicksilver, and sideline Mystique?

5. Wastes Ideas

One of the most frustrating parts of this film is it occasionally flirts with interesting concepts. The biggest one is that Xavier has become ego-driven and affected by fame. Which is another idea; at the start of this film the X-Men are heroes, with a direct line to the US government. How will these characters react to finally being loved and adored? No idea, this film throws that aside.

6. The Story

There’s no compelling villain in this film. The main villain isn’t actually Jean Grey, as the marketing suggests. She is for some of the film, and then she suddenly has a face turn and the villain becomes someone who she gave some of her power too. So essentially she’s a less powerful version of one of the main characters. So there’s no sense of drama, at all. She belongs to an alien race who are never really explained. We’re given their name and a VERY short backstory. How short? Put it this way, the detail they’re given is less than the detail we STILL get every time they reboot Batman. It’s also never explained why they already have important government positions before the invasion. The final third was rewritten, and you can tell. Not just because of a car suddenly changing into a train.

7. Everyone is an idiot.

Well, I say everyone, the government gave Magneto his own land. That’s Magneto, who has tried to overthrow the US government multiple times, and basically attempted genocide. Why would the government give him land? It makes no sense.

8. It’s too late.

This is a poor end to the franchise. Which is a shame as this franchise already had the perfect closer: Logan. That is genuinely one of the greatest superhero films ever, and the perfect goodbye. That film gave the franchise a lot of good will, which has now been thrown away in this, this, this, REALLY bad film. It’s REALLY bad. And the fact it came after Logan (and is the first superhero film to come out since Endgame), just makes it seem even worse.

Late Night (2019)

I had medium hopes of this, on the plus side; Emma Thompson and Mindy Kaling. On the downside; almost no trailers at the cinema, almost no advertising at all to be honest, almost like the studios had no faith in it. So I thought it might be good, but I had worries I would be disappointed. Thankfully that’s not the case here, this is probably one of my favourite films of the year so far. It was incredibly funny and VERY heartwarming. That was actually the most annoying part, word of advice; don’t eat salty popcorn in a film where you’ll need to wipe your eyes, if anything it will just make it worse.

So why does this film work? Well, the main reason is the cast: Emma Thompson and Mindy Kaling are both at the top of their game here. Kaling doubly so as it’s her script. She’s probably best known from her performances in The Office and The Mindy Project, but anybody who knows about the crew of those projects also knows that she wasn’t just a performer, she wrote a lot of them too, so she’s not exactly inexperienced when it comes to writing. This is her first attempt at a feature and it does kind of show. There are moments where it seems like she’s not used to having that much time, so a lot of plot points occur really quickly when in reality they could have been held off slightly more. This is definitely true when it comes to the relationships between some of the characters, characters become close slightly quicker than they need to, then because there’s still a lot of the film left, they’re pushed back, then they’re close again, and so on.

Mostly though…..this film works. It really works. When it bites it does so with the ferocity of a rabid goose (can geese even get rabies?). And the points it makes are still important and relevant ones to make. They’re not just walking around going “sexism is bad!”, they’re pointing out how institutions which have historically been full of white men do not respond well to people who don’t fit that mould and as such deem people who don’t as outsiders, which makes it harder for them to get work. It also has a lot to say about female sexuality, and how the media treats them as they age.

This is as good a time as any to mention my (very) minor quibble with this film; it doesn’t really feel like it takes place in this universe. There are moments where they could refer to real shows, but in the end, they go with fictional ones, it just kind of breaks the immersion ever so slightly. Like I said, that is a VERY minor quibble though. I loved this movie and would highly recommend it to almost everyone (except Keith). I won’t recommend it passionately, I won’t scream my love for this film from the rooftops like I do other films (Persepolis, Bogowie etc), but if someone says “I feel like going to the cinema, not sure what to see though, I might go see the new X-Men film”, I will recommend this film to them, because it’s great, and Dark Phoenix is f*cking terrible (spoilers for Thursday’s blog).

Booksmart (2019)

I was kind of looking forward to this, I loved Beanie Feldstein in Lady Bird and was hoping to see more of what she can do. She’s starred alongside Bette Midler on Broadway so she’s obviously very talented, but I didn’t really feel her in this. Her performance seemed a bit too over the top, a bit too Will Ferrell. That kind of overblown over-dramatic comedy performance is loved by some people, but it never really works for me, just a personal opinion. Kaitlyn Deaver, on the other hand, is great in this. I’m not that familiar with her work which is weird as she’s been in things I’ve seen before: but those things have been Detroit and Men, Women And Children, two films which are definitely ensemble pieces (in the case of MW&C, to its detriment), so this is the first time I’ve really seen her take centre stage, and she nails it. Giving enough vulnerability and frustration to her performance that you can’t help but root for her in her struggles, and she’s involved in the main heart-breaking moments of the movie.

A lot of the media focus has been on this film being Olivia Wilde’s directorial debut. So how does she do? Well firstly, I feel the need to point out that writers are severely underpraised in terms of media, and that’s something that needs to change immediately. We need to see “from the writer of…..” more, but that’s an argument for another day. Does Wilde work as a director? Kind of. There are some complicated scenes which she handles beautifully, and there’s one scene near the end where the main characters are arguing and you see camera-phones gradually light up behind them, incredibly subtle and brilliant. Sadly this then leads to the dialogue being drowned out by music, which is a weird choice, as if you do that, and it’s not a montage, it kind of feels like the director wasn’t confident enough in the dialogue being said and wasn’t sure it would do what was needed. The argument is the best scene in terms of how it develops these characters, and I personally feel we kind of need to hear what’s being said to have the full impact. There are other scenes which cut weirdly and don’t really flow together well. But mostly she does it well, I mean, there is one scene where she focuses way too long on something and makes it obvious what’s going to happen, but I can see why that was done. There are a lot of scenes here which look superb, the party scenes, in particular, have a lot of background detail which you could easily miss if you’re not paying attention. I feel she’s about 1 film away from truly being great, but it’s definitely one of the strongest first-time comedies I’ve seen in a while.

This does manage to be the only film which has characters which are both underused and overused. Okay, let me rephrase that, they’re misused. There are some characters introduced at the beginning who only come back later on because they were introduced earlier on, I would have liked to have seen more of them if the writing had a more natural reason to bring them back. As it is it feels like when you watch a holiday episode of a TV show and it features the exact same characters and it just feels a bit weird as why would they all go at the same time when half the characters hate each other? So should you see this? I’m not sure, I wouldn’t pay full price at the cinema to see it, but if it’s on netflix or you get a chance to watch it in a group of people whilst drinking, do it, and you’ll enjoy it.

John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum (2019)

A good reviewer stays unbiased throughout, I am not a good reviewer so I’m going to say from the outset that this film earned a place in the “good films of 2019” end of year blog based solely on how great the first two films were, the fact that the trailer for this featured John Wick riding a horse, and for having Anjelica Huston in it. This film would have had to fuck up badly for me to dislike it. I’m so glad it didn’t. This carries on the tradition of John Wick films being the new standard-bearer for action films. No longer are they just “dumb fun”, and really, anybody who calls the John Wick franchise dumb really has no idea what they’re talking about. This is a great story about redemption and consequences, a story which runs through at least 4 films. Actually now I’ll mention one of my 3 issues with this film: it doesn’t work as a standalone film I don’t think. It sets up the next one too much so when it’s over you don’t really feel narratively satisfied. It’s the cinematic equivalent of really good tomato soup, yes it’s good as a starter, but it’s just not enough. Second problem: the action scenes. Now don’t get me wrong, they are FANTASTIC in terms of the scenes themselves, the choreography and lighting lead to them being some the best fight scenes you’ll ever see, it’s just…..well I don’t think all of them are necessary. There’s some which go on a bit too long and just seem to be an excuse to HAVE a fight scene, the fight scenes lead the movie rather than the other way around. The third issue: the main villain isn’t that interesting, kind of. The main physical threat anyway, doesn’t really have enough to do. Asia Kate Dillons character is kind of the big bad villain, orchestrating everything, and they’re fantastic, I just feel it’s a bit too late in the franchise to introduce a character like that. Side note: the John Wick franchise has now featured one non-binary actor, and a genderfluid one, and done so without even mentioning it or making it the character-defining trait, they’ve just put them in there and let them be amazing (Ruby Rose is still one of the highlights of John Wick 2, and Dillon is a definite performance highlight of this one).

This film also continues the BRILLIANT world building of the first two. It’s part of why I love these films, there’s so much that goes unsaid about the universe but is just implied and shown, it really sets it up as a universe which actually exists, and also means you have to be paying attention to everything. You actively engage with the films because you have to, you can’t just sit back and dip and out.

So in summary, yeah this film is great. But it could also be the film in the series where the cracks start showing, it all depends on where they go next, I can’t wait.