What does it take to be a soldier on the Casualty Notification Team, the “Angels of Death Squadron”, traveling the United States and letting spouses and parents know that someone has died while in the Army? And at what cost personally?
The film version of Dennis Lehane’s creepy psychological thriller Shutter Island has taken a while to get on the big screen, but it was worth the wait. With Leonardo DiCaprio in the starring role as US Marshall Teddy Daniels, it’s one of the best psychological thrillers in quite a while. With its leisurely pace, moody ensemble and positively sinister exteriors, it’s also a nice reminder that intense movies don’t need to involve massive explosions, zombies, vampires or the wholesale slaughter of innocents.
Charles Darwin was one of the most profound thinkers of the modern era, with his groundbreaking theory of evolution and idea that rather than being created by God in “his image”, we evolved from monkeys. But who was Charles Darwin and where did he get this radical idea? That’s the story behind Creation, as it explains in the opening titles: “Charles Darwin’s “The Origin of Species”, first published in 1859, has been called the single biggest idea in the history of thought. This is the story of how it came to be written…”
With a story from action wizard Luc Besson and a comfortable, if detached performance by bald, tattooed John Travolta, you can easily imagine what the actioner From Paris With Love is going to be like, and you’d be right. It’s fast-paced, only makes sense some of the time, has nice visual effects, and zooms along its 92 minute running time, an entertaining bit of cinematic fluff.
Six years ago a highly athletic sporting event burst on the scene from France called “Parkour”. It was a bit hard to describe, but agile participants would leap off buildings, slip through tiny spaces, bounce from wall to wall, race down staircases a flight at a time and generally fly through urban landscapes, miraculously not slipping or injuring themselves. The activity was captured in a mediocre French action film called Banlieue 13 (District B13 in the USA), quickly forgotten by all but the most devoted fans.
Mel Gibson has made a lot of films where he’s the simple-minded tough guy, notably the Lethal Weapon series, but the last few years have seen his personal life overshadow his career, as he careened from one gaffe to the next. Edge of Darkness represents him trying to get back into the groove, to recover his acting career, and it’s an exciting but distressingly formulaic film.