In between the action of bald super-agents and unnecessary franchise continuations, we also have some drama from aging rock stars, two comedies from New Yorkers and Joburg, and Jake Gyllenhaal getting punched in the face. A lot.
HITMAN: AGENT 47 centers on an elite assassin who was genetically engineered from conception to be the perfect killing machine, and is known only by the last two digits on the barcode tattooed on the back of his neck. He is the culmination of decades of research – and forty-six earlier Agent clones — endowing him with unprecedented strength, speed, stamina and intelligence. His latest target is a mega-corporation that plans to unlock the secret of Agent 47’s past to create an army of killers whose powers surpass even his own. Teaming up with a young woman who may hold the secret to overcoming their powerful and clandestine enemies, 47 confronts stunning revelations about his own origins and squares off in an epic battle with his deadliest foe.
While that blurb may make the latest attempt at a Hitman movie sound epic and exciting, unfortunately the opposite is true. Despite its nods to the original gameplay mechanics and the full use of its R-rating, Agent 47 still somehow comes out bland and predictable, with the titular character falling particularly short. Kervyn only rates it worthy of a disappointing 2.5/5 stars.
Ricki and the Flash
In a film loaded with music and live performance, Meryl Streep stars as Ricki, a guitar heroine who gave up everything for her dream of rock-and-roll stardom, but is now returning home to make things right with her family. Streep stars opposite her real-life daughter Mamie Gummer, who plays her fictional daughter; Rick Springfield, who takes on the role of a Flash member in love with Ricki; and Kevin Kline, who portrays Ricki’s long-suffering ex-husband.
Ricki and the Flash isn’t like an epic, raw, thumping-bass-and-screaming-guitar rock ‘n roll live stage show, it’s more like an MTV Unplugged session. Sweet and low-key with decent acting and music, but missing that heart-pounding, soul shaking, earth moving factor that would have made it so much better.
SOUTHPAW tells the riveting story of Billy “The Great” Hope, reigning Junior Middleweight Boxing Champion of the World (Academy Award (R) nominee Jake Gyllenhaal). Billy Hope seemingly has it all with an impressive career, a beautiful and loving wife (Rachel McAdams), an adorable daughter (Oona Laurence) and a lavish lifestyle. When tragedy strikes and his lifelong manager and friend (Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson) leaves him behind, Hope hits rock bottom and turns to an unlikely savior at a run-down local gym: Tick Willis (Academy Award (R) winner Forest Whitaker), a retired fighter and trainer to the city’s toughest amateur boxers. With his future riding on Tick’s guidance and tenacity, Billy enters the hardest battle of his life as he struggles with redemption and to win back the trust of those he loves.
If you’re watching Southpaw to check out Jake Gyllenhaal’s impressively ripped physique, you won’t be disappointed. Nor will you be let down in the acting, as both Gyllenhaal and Forest Whitaker turn out incredible performances. But you might feel slightly dissatisfied with the movie itself – James certainly felt it was lacking, and only gave it 2.5/5 stars.
The Transporter Refueled
Frank Martin (played by newcomer Ed Skrein), a former special-ops mercenary, is now living a less perilous life – or so he thinks – transporting classified packages for questionable people. When Frank’s father (Ray Stevenson) pays him a visit in the south of France, their father-son bonding weekend takes a turn for the worse when Frank is engaged by a cunning femme-fatale, Anna (Loan Chabanol), and her three seductive sidekicks to orchestrate the bank heist of the century. Frank must use his covert expertise and knowledge of fast cars, fast driving and fast women to outrun a sinister Russian kingpin, and worse than that, he is thrust into a dangerous game of chess with a team of gorgeous women out for revenge.
Did we need a new Transporter movie? Nope. Did we get one anyway? Of course we did. Even Jason Statham didn’t think it was worth his time, and this is the actor that keeps coming back to The Expendables. But, Ed Skrein still does a passable job, however unnecessary the movie may be.
Mistress America (Cinema Nouveau)
In MISTRESS AMERICA, Tracy (Lola Kirke) is a lonely college freshman in New York, having neither the exciting university experience nor the glamorous metropolitan lifestyle she envisioned. But when she is taken in by her soon-to-be stepsister, Brooke (Greta Gerwig) – a resident of Times Square and adventurous gal about town – she is rescued from her disappointment and seduced by Brooke’s alluringly mad schemes.
Darkly funny and bittersweet, Mistress America has some unlikeable, cringe-worthy characters, but makes for a surprisingly likeable movie. As far as comedies go, it’s more grounded and realistic than you’d expect.
Tell Me Sweet Something
Moratiwa Vokwana (played by Nomzamo Mbatha), an aspiring writer, owns and runs a bookstore in the heart of Johannesburg. The bookstore, like her love life, is not experiencing much success. This all changes when she meets and falls in love with the unlikeliest candidate in the world, Nat, a male model who has never read a book in his life and is desperate to be loved for his mind not his body. Against the odds they become romantically involved but will this love last?
From the same team that brought you Material, Tell me Sweet Something promises to be romantic, funny, charming and moving, showing a side to Johannesburg rarely seen. Whether it lives up to those promises or not, I can’t tell you. The trailer makes the movie look as predictable as anything, but it definitely had its funny moments.
Last Updated: September 4, 2015