Friday, May 27, 2016

Equals

Direction: Drake Doremus; Cast: Nicholas Hoult, Kristen Stewart, Guy Pearce, Jacki Weaver; Story: Drake Doremus; Screenplay: Nathan Parker; Cinematography: John Guleserian; Editing: Jonathan Alberts; Music: Sascha Ring, Dustin O’Halloran; Producers: Michael Pruss, Chip Diggins, etc; Genre: Romance-Drama; Location: Future Distributor: A24; Running Time: 101 minutes
Technical assessment: 3
Moral assessment: 3
CINEMA rating:  V14
MTRCB rating:  R13
Silas (Nicholas Hoult) and Nia (Kristen Stewart) live in a dystopian society where emotions, physical contact and relationship are prohibited and treated as a dysfunction. But for these two, the attraction transcends the oppressive culture. Do they sacrifice their safety to give in to their emotions or do they fight for their freedom to choose love? More importantly, can society exist on plain rules and policies alone?
There is nothing new in the film, plot-wise. We have seen and heard the same issues in films like Gattaca. Symbolisms are thrown here and there but not explored deep enough. The screenplay is quite simple and predictable. However, the movie excels in its production design and artistry. The clinical cleanness of the scenes brings iciness to match its theme. The setting provides a perfect contrast to the burning passion Silas and Nia have to bury. And these alone provide the tension to make the ordinary love story interesting. Kristen and Hoult have good onscreen chemistry and enough charm to make the audience root for their happy ending.
Society is hypocritical when on the one hand it tells you emotions and relationship are intrinsic to human survival but on the other hand expect you to use your head and be very objective in decisions to succeed in a capitalist world. In Arts and in marketing, emotions are emphasized but in business and politics they are tossed aside. Equals seems to be a commentary on this dichotomy with a clear annotation that it is impossible for human beings to live without emotions to express themselves. Because this is a love story, it will be inclined to stress how human emotions will take over systems. And because it is targeted for young adults and teenagers, it sends the message that human beings are expected to defy heaven and earth for the sake of love. And then we end up with rebellious, confused, self-absorbed youngsters who think they are saving the world when they are in the embrace of their beloved. While we believe emotions are necessary for a person’s holistic growth, emotions do not necessarily supersede systems and rules. There should be a balance that comes with moral ascendancy and discernment. The movie is clean and safe but delivers simplified messages that are easily misconstrued but younger minds.



Friday, May 20, 2016

Just the 3 of us

DIRECTOR: Cathy Garcia-Molina  EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: Malou N. Santos, Charo Santos-Concio  SCREENPLAY: Kiko Abrillo, Gillian Ebreo, Katherine Labayen, Vanessa Valdez  STARRING:John Lloyd Cruz, Jennylyn Mercado, Richard Yap, Joel Torre, Maria Isabel Lopez  GENRE:Romance, Drama, Comedy  PRODUCTION COMPANIES: ABS-CBN Film Productions, Inc., Star Cinema Productions  DISTRIBUTORS: Star Cinema Productions  COUNTRY: Philippines  LANGUAGE:Tagalog, English  RUNNING TIME: 122minutes
Technical assessment: 3
Moral assessment: 2
Cinema rating: V18
MTRCB rating: R13
      Malapit nang maging kapitang piloto si Uno (John Lloyd Cruz) at dito niya ibinubuhos ang kanyang oras at lakas dahil wala naman siyang maituturing na pamilya. Malalasing siya sa isang party at makaka-one night stand ang isang babaeng hindi niya kilala. Makalipas ang tatlong linggo, may isang babaeng magpapakilala at maghahabol sa kanya, si CJ (Jennylyn Mercado), na siya raw ang ama ng dinadala nitong sanggol. Hindi agad maniniwala si Uno, ngunit sa pagpupumilit at pagmamakaawa ni CJ, dahil wala na itong ibang malalapitan, mapipilitan si Uno na patuluyin at pansamantalang patirahin si CJ sa kanyang apartment habang hihintayin nito ang resulta ng paternity test para malaman kung anak nga niya ang dinadala nito. Sa simulaý pawang malaking abala si CJ sa buhay ni Uno, ngunit kalaunaý unti-unting mababago ang lahat habang nakikilala nila ang isa’t-isa.
     Isang makabagong tipo ng romcom ang Just The 3 Of Us. Mapangahas ito sa aspetong pagtalakay sa pagiging kaswal ng makabagong henerasyon hinggil sa gawaing sekswal sa paraang hindi malaswa. Mahusay ang pagkakatagni ng kwento at may mga eksenang talaga namang kabibiliban pagdating sa komposisyon, ritmo, at walang itulak-kabigin na pagganap ng mga pangunahing tauhan na sina Cruz at Mercado na talaga namang subok na sa ganitong larangan. Yun nga lang, naka-kahon pa rin sa nakasanayang fomula ang pelikula at hindi pa rin ito makawala sa predictable na mga lihis ng kuwento. Tila ba, halata na agad ang magiging kaka-labasang pagtatapos sa kabila ng sanga-sanga nitong pagliko (na pawang inaasahan na rin gawa ng kumbensiyon at formula). Ganunpamandin, isa pa ring aliw na panoorin sa kabuuan ang pelikula.
     Bagama’t isang romantic comedy, masyadong sensitibo ang tinalakay ng pelikula lalo na pagdating sa sekswal na relasyon at kaswal na pakikipagtalik. Hindi ito ipinakita sa paraang kapupulutan ng aral, bagkus, ay pawang kinukunsinti pa ang ganitong gawain bilang katanggap-tanggap. Bagama’t nariyan ang sanga-sangang kuwento ng kanya-kanyang hugot ng bawat tauhan, tulad ng masalimuot na kuwentong pamilya ni Uno at magulong buhay pag-ibig ni CJ, na nagdala sa kanila sa isang pagkakamali, hindi pa rin malinaw ang naging paninindigan ng pelikula ukol dito. Kahit pa hindi malaswa, may mga nakakabahala pa ring mga eksenang biswal na talaga namang sinasaromantiko at ginagawang senswal ang one night stand. Maaari naman itong natalakay nang may higit na pag-iingat ngunit iba ang pinapakita ng mga eksenang ito. Nakakabahala ito sa maraming kadahilanan – una, may batang karakter sa pelikula na mahaba-haba at tila mahalaga ang papel na ginampanan. Siya mismo ay hindi pa karapat-dapat na mapanood ang kabuuan ng sarili niyang pelikula dahil sa maselan nitong tema at maselang pagtalakay rito. Pangalawa, sa R13 nitong MTRCB rating, maraming mga teen-ager at kabataan ang makakapanood nito. Hindi ito magiging magandang halimbawa sa kanila at nakakababahala na gagawin nilang eksperimento ang pakikipagtalik sa labas ng konteksto ng kasal. Nangyayari sa totoong buhay ang pinakita sa pelikula, oo, pero nararapat na maging malinaw ang mensahe kung ito ba ay mabuti o masama. Hindi ito malinaw sa pelikula. Nagbibigay ito ng baluktot at taliwas na paninimbang—gaya ng gulo sa pamilya, at kung anu-ano pa. Mga dahilang tila hindi sapat. Naipakita sa pelikula na si Uno ay nagkaroon ng magandang kinabukasan bagama’t iniwan siya ng kanyang ama. Patunay na hindi ang nakaraan ng isang tao ang maghuhubog na kanyang karakter at kinabukasan. Si CJ na nasa magandang pamilya ay nakagawa pa rin ng pagkakamali. May pagsisisi sa bandang huli, ngunit pawang hindi sapat at hindi sinsero ang pelikula ukol dito. Sa kabuuan, higit na sinasaromantiko ng pelikula ang “casual sex” bilang makabagong pagsasalarawan ng pag-ibig. Ito ang dahilan kung kaya’t minamarapat ng CINEMA na ang Just the 3 of Us ay naaayon lamang sa manonood na may edad 18 pataas.











Wednesday, May 11, 2016

This time

DIRECTOR: Nuel Naval  LEAD CAST: James Reid, Nadine Lustre, Freddie Webb SCREENWRITER: Mel del Rosario  MUSICAL DIRECTOR:  GENRE: Romantic Comedy  DISTRIBUTOR: Viva Films  LOCATION:  Philippines/Japan  RUNNING TIME:  2 hours
Technical assessment:  3
Moral assessment:  3.5
CINEMA rating:  PG 13
            Magkababata sina Ava (Nadine Lustre) at Coby (James Reid), pero taon-taon lamang nagkikita sila, tuwing bakasyon sa tag-init, pagkat ang lolo at tumatayong magulang ni Coby (Freddie Webb) ay isang ambassador, at sa iba’t-ibang bansa sila naninirahan.  Habang sila’y mga musmos pa, may lakip na pag-iinisan ang kanilang pakikitungo sa isa’t-isa, pero sa paglakad ng panahon, kapag mga teenagers na sila, magsisimula silang magkalapit, at paglao’y magkakaroon ng pagkakaunawaan bugso ng kanilang pagiging dalaga at binata na nagsisimula nang maghanap ng isang espesyal na nilalang na maaari nilang mahalin habang buhay.  Sa kabila ng kanilang madalas na pag-uusap sa tulong ng internet, mamabutihin pa rin nila ang personal na pag-uugnayan na mangyayari naman sa Japan, at lalong magpapatingkad sa kanilang pagkakalapit.
            Malaking bagay na nakakadiskaril sa panonood ang hindi pagkakasabay ng tunog at pagbuka ng bibig ng mga tauhang nagsasalita.  Hindi rin pantay-pantay ang lakas ng tunog sa pananalita—minsa’y sapat lang, minsan naman ay biglang nakakabingi sa lakas.  Dagdagan pa ito ng medyo malabong pagsingit ng flashbacks na nakakalito sa manunuod, at lalong nagmumukhang kathang-isip lamang talaga ang inihahayag na kuwento sa pinilakang-tabing—nababawasan ang likas na kapangyarihan ng istorya na “pasakayin” ang mga tao sa pagkamakatotohanan nito.  Gayunpaman, nananaig pa rin ang tambalang “Jadine” sa mga eksenang maromansa—kilig na kilig ang mga manunuod, bigay-hilig ang paghiyaw kapag nagkakalapit na ang mga bibig ng binata at dalaga sa bawa’t halik.  Kaaya-aya ring masdan ang mga eksenang kuha sa Japan; nakapagbubukas ito ng isip tungkol sa kakaibang kultura nito.
            Maraming inihahantad na mabubuting bagay ang This time.  Isa na rito ay ang kahalagahan ng pagkakaroon ng magandang pakikitungo ng mga miyembro ng pamilya sa isa’t isa.  Sa anumang pagkakataon, lalo na sa panahon ng kalituhan o kalungkutan, ang suporta at katapatan ng isang maunawaing pamilya ang ang umaalalay sa isang tao.  Ang mga matatag at malusog na relasyon, sa pamilya man o sa labas nito, ay nakasalalay sa paggalang, sa kalawakan ng isip, at sa katapatan ng bawa’t isa sa kani-kaniyang sarili.  Itinatampok din ng This time ang pagiging kanais-nais ng isang malinis na relasyon sa pagitan ng isang binata at isang dalaga, at ang kagandahan ng paghihintay sa tamang panahon ng pagkakalapit ng mga puso.  Dahil may mga close-up na halikan sa pelikula, mungkahi ng CINEMA na ipaliwanag ito sa mga paslit na inyong isasama sa sinehan—hindi halikan ang pundasyon ng pagmamahalan nila Ava at Coby; bagkus ito ay sumisibol mula sa isang malinis na pagkakaibigang nagsimula noong kapwa walang malay pa ang dalawa.        
           
           


Mother's Day

DIRECTOR: Garry Marshall  LEAD CAST: Julia Roberts, Jennifer Aniston, Kate Hudson, Jason Sudeikis, Britt Robertson, Timothy Olyphant, Hector Elizondo, Jack Whitehall  SCREENPLAY: Tom Hines, Anya Kochoff Romano, Matt Walker  STORY BY: Tom Hines, Lily Hollander, Garry Marshall, Matt Walker  EDITOR: Robert Malina PRODUCERS: Brandt Andersen, Howard Burd, Daniel Diamond, Mark DiSalle, Mike Karz, Wayne Allan Rice  CINEMATOGRAPHER: Charles Minsky  MUSIC: John Debney  NARRATED BY: Penny Marshall  GENRE: Romantic Comedy  PRODUCTION COMPANY: Capacity Pictures, Gulfstream Pictures, PalmStar Media             DISTRIBUTOR: Open Roads Film LOCATION: United States  RUNNING TIME: 118 minutes
Technical assessment:  2.5
Moral assessment:  2.5
CINEMA rating:  V 14
            Mother’s Day, the holiday, is fast approaching, and families, especially mothers in the upscale neighborhood of Buckhead, in Atlanta, are nearing panic mode as they prepare for the special day.  Mother’s Day, the movie, is played out like a deck of playing cards—as the cards are thrown on the table at random, one never knows what each may reveal, because nearly all the characters in the houses harbors a secret.  Divorced mom Sandy (Jennifer Aniston) can’t get over the fact that her ex-husband is marrying a teenaged whistlebait. Sisters Jesse and Gabi (Kate Hudson and Sarah Chalke)—one is married to an Indian, the other is a lesbian whose partner is a single mom—shield their own children from their bigoted Texan grandparents. Widower Bradley (Jason Sudeikis) suddenly has to cope with maternal duties raising two young daughters recently orphaned by their military mother who died in Afghanistan.  Miranda (Julia Roberts) whose skills as tv-shopping guru have raised her to celebrity status is about to meet a biological daughter she had abandoned as an infant.
            With such a roster of mega-stars believably playing their roles in a story that throws the limelight on relatable mother-oriented fixes, viewers may not bother at all to scrutinize the other technical aspects of the movie, such as lighting, sounds, music, cinematography, etc.  At least not the moviegoers in Metromanila who filled up the cinemas during last Mother’s Day weekend.  Most American film reviewers (regularly published in mrqe.com) may understandably have a different take on Mother’s Day—presumably rooted in social cultural factors—thus they mercilessly lash out at its director for habitually exploiting the “estrogen crowd” with such holiday-based potboilers as Valentine’s Day (2010) and New Year’s Eve (2011), and now Mother’s Day.
            The critics’ claim is true that Mother’s Day does not go deep into the issues it brings up, rendering it superficial and rife with “forced nuttiness” and “shallow sentimentality”.  The contentious issues—sudden death of a spouse, racist beliefs, homosexual relations, modesty in dress in the presence of children, career vs. motherhood, parents and children’s differences in outlook, etc.—are indeed serious enough to each merit a drama feature themselves.  But it must be remembered that Mother’s Day chose to be a comedy, and as such is bound to be light, albeit laced with pathos.  It is deliberately “shallow”, not probing the psyche of the characters, but rather assigning them their specific spot in the picture, surrounding them with challenges, and leaving the thinking and the analysis to the viewer.  That Mother’s Day touches on the abovementioned issues and engages the imagination and discernment of the viewer is enough.  Not many movies designed to make us laugh can do that.






Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Captain America: Civil war

Direction: Anthony and Joe Russo; Cast: Chris Evans, Robert Downey, Jr.; Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Don Cheadle, Jeremy Renner, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany, Tom Holland; Story: based on characters by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby; Screenplay: Christopher Markus, Stephen MsFeely; Cinematography: Trent Opaloch; Editing: Jeffrey Ford, Matthew Schmidt; Music: Henry Jackman; Producers: Kevin Feige; Genre: Sci Fi Action; Location: USA; Distributor: Walt Disney Studios; Running Time: 147 minutes
Technical assessment : 3.5
Moral assessment : 3
CINEMA rating : V14
MTRCB rating:  PG
In 1991, Hydra controls Buck/Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) into hijacking a car a scientist car and stealing a serum to create more superhuman soldiers. In the present day, the Avengers successfully thwarts an attempt to steal a biohazard weapon in Nigeria but Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) inadvertently causes a hospital to explode, killing hundreds of innocent people. The world’s distrust of the Avengers’ sense of accountability grows, forcing the United Nations to step in to approximate control and liability through the Sekovia Accords. The Act divides the Avengers, with Stark (Robert Downey, Jr), Romanoff (Scarlett Johanssen), Rhodes (Don Cheadle), Vision (Paul Bettany) and lately Parker/Spiderman (Tom Holland) for signing the Act while Rogers (Chris Evans), Wilson (Anthony Mackie), Burton (Irons), Wanda, (Elizabeth Olsen), Lang (Paul Rudd) are against it. While tension between Stark and Rogers escalates, their conflict widens when the government orders the arrest of Bucky/Winter Soldier for bombing the UN Ratification meeting in Vienna, killing the Wakandan King which sends his son, Black Panther, to hunt Bucky and avenge his father’s death. In a twist of events, the Avengers are manipulated into destruction by Zemo (Daniel Bruhl) who realizes destruction of a powerful force happens when you break them from within, destroying their trust and friendship for each other.
Captain America: Civil War has a slow start and seems like forever to build up amidst all the characters and sub-plots. But when it does, the audience is taken into an addictive rollercoaster ride of emotional highs and beautifully crafted action sequences. The fight choreographies are stunning to watch while camerawork captures heart-pounding scenes clinically. The script, although too verbose at times, manages to give all 12 major characters their shining moments without straying from the storyline. The final twist in the end gives the film a darker yet more mature tone and credibility. Directors Anthony and Joe delivered one of the better Marvel franchises to date.
Guilt and revenge seem to be the underlying motivations that consumed the characters in the film prompting them to decide and act accordingly. For instance, Stark feels guilty about his oversight and consistent role in the destruction and death everytime Ironman battles the enemy. Black Panther and Col. Zemo willingly spend all their time and energy into avenging their family’s death. Wanda is conflicted because of her guilt in the events in Sekovia and Nigeria. While guilt serves a reminder of how we may have failed or chosen wrongly, we must learn to heal, forgive ourselves and start reparation not by beating ourselves to death but by making sure our future choices reflect common good. On the other hand, revenge leads us to more destruction and further deepens the wounds of loss and failure. Forgiveness and acceptance are the key to healing and moving on. Our future are a result of our past but not intertwined in them. Perhaps war begins when guilt or revenge is harbored too long, allowing it to consume our better judgments. Perhaps peace begins when we learn to let go and move forward without regret or anger—but with compassion, understanding and commitment to the common good.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

High strung

DIRECTOR: Michael Damian  LEAD CAST  Keenan Kampa, Nicholas Galitzine, Jane SeymourSCREENWRITER: Michael Damian & Janeen Damian  PRODUCER:  Michael Damian & Janeen Damian  EDITOR: Michael & Janeen Damian/Peter CabadaHagan & Byron Speight  MUSICAL DIRECTOR:  Nathan Lanier  GENRE: Drama/Romance  CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Viorel Sergovici  LOCATION:  USA RUNNING TIME:  97 minutes
Technical assessment:  3.5
Moral assessment:  3.5
CINEMA rating:  V13  (Viewers aged 13 and below with parental guidance)
Midwest ballet student Ruby Adams (Keenan Kampa) goes to New York as a scholar at the Manhattan Conservatory of the Arts.  Johnnie Blackwell (Nicholas Galitzine) is a gifted British violinist who plays for money at the subway station. Ruby’s extraordinary talent is recognized by school authorities but she is challenged to go beyond mere technique, lest she lose her scholarship. Similarly, Johnnie has a problem with his non-immigrant status.  Ruby and Johnnie meet, and under the circumstances a friendship is born.  The all-technique dancer and the all-soul violinist are both high strung (pardon the pun) over their problems, try to help each other out, and in the process fall in love.  Or is it the other way around? 
With a plot like that, High strung is a foregone conclusion.  Like all the dance-centered flicks young audiences love like Step up and Fame, its story is written to show off performances. 
Its 27-year old star Kampa is a real-life ballerina and has been dancing since she was four years old—this is her first movie, and she’s here for the dance, so she’s not really an actress in that sense.  Nonetheless, she delivers well, the dance floor being her real world—she can emote as her role demands, and she executes enviable splits in mid-air.  Galitzine on the other is said to have studied violin, but let the virtuosos judge how well the actor with a pout does it here.  Performances from the other dancers are engaging, and the final piece that blends ballet and contemporary moves is really refreshing.
Thus, despite the clichés, High strung is not that bad, really; in fact, it pleases in that it highlights certain desirable human traits like closeness between mother and daughter, honesty of shop keepers, hard work, true friendship, self-mastery, etc.  Unlike most “dance” movies with the lead couple getting hot over each other, here there are no “bad examples” for young viewers.  It’s the couple’s transformation and their transcendence over their individual situation that are underscored.  The uptight ballerina learns to loosen up and therefore becomes a superior dancer, the brooding violinist opens up to his friendly neighbors and… well, all is well that ends well.  If you want exuberance and energy in a movie, this is it.

The Hunstsman: winter's war

DIRECTOR: Cedric Nicolas-Troyan STARRING:Chris Hemsworth, Jessica Chastain, Charlize Theron, Emily Blunt, Colin Morgan, Nick Frost, Sam Claflin, Rob Brydon PRODUCER: Joe Roth  EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS:Sarah Bradshaw, Palak Patel  SCREENWRITERS: Craig Mazin,Evan Spiliotopoul  BASED ON:Characters by  Evan Daugherty FILM EDITOR: Conrad Buff IV  MUSIC:James Newton Howard  ART DIRECTOR & VISUAL EFFECTS: Steve Street  GENRE:Fantasy, Adventure, Action, Drama  CINEMATOGRAPHER: Phedon Papamichael  PRODUCTION DESIGN: Dominic Watkins  PRODUCTION COMPANIES: Perfect World Pictures, Roth Films  DISTRIBUTORS: Universal Pictures  COUNTRIES: United Kingdom, United States  LANGUAGE: English RUNNING TIME: 114minutes
Technical Assessment: 3
Moral Assessment: 3
Cinema Rating:V13
A prequel to  Snow White and the Hunstman, the story happens many years before the Snow White’s story. The evil queen Ravenna (Charlize Theron) has a sister, Freya (Emily Blunt), whose magical cryokinenetic powers—the power to use cold and ice in physical combat—awaken following the mysterious death of her only child.  She leaves her sister's kingdom and establishes her own empire in the icy North. She abducts children from villages, and raises them to be her soldiers—hunstmen. Two of these children are Eric and Sara (Chris Hemsworth and Jessica Chastain), who grow to become her finest huntsmen. And in spite of Queen Freya's rules against love, the two fall in love. Queen Freya uses her magic to separate them, and Eric, believing that Sara is murdered, spends the next seven years mourning her death. Things take a different turn, when the Ice Queen Freya hunts for the magic mirror which used to belong to Queen Ravena, now believed to be dead.
The Hunstman: Winter’s War takes a different turn on the original popular fairy tale, Snow White. Here, the audience will only hear the name of the famous princess who will not really appear in the picture. The result is pretty interesting, although one can sense that the film is having quite a difficulty in terms of focus and real identity. Although the two huntsmen are in the center of a love story, the sister/rival queens seem to be more interesting characters. The acting is fine. Hemsworth and Chastain are able to deliver although as lovers in the story, there should perhaps be more justification to endear them to the audience. Blunt is terrific and Theron is as fierce as ever although she lacks the needed exposure to establish more tension in the story.  Elaborate production design and visual effects are effective, making The Huntsman: Winter’s War in its totality a feel-good and an enjoyable watch only despite its weaknesses.

The film is very clear on its theme as it is verbalized quite a few times – “love conquers all.”  It refers mainly to the romance built between Eric and Sara amid the strong rule of the ice queen not to love. Although the love the queen is referring to is love in general so it also applies to kinds of love other than the romantic one. The Huntsman: Winter’s War is able to deliver the message loud and clear. Freya’s traumatic experience brought out the worst in her and her outrage and anger turned her into a cold being – literally and figuratively. Her heart turned not just cold but as hard as ice. The film clearly defines hatred, greed and vanity as evil.  Ravena symbolizes the evil of all evils. Freya’s circumstance made her evil for a time but then, goodness in her heart still triumphed in the end as it is her real nature. It may have been hard at first to accept her sudden change of heart just because of one traumatic experience—but then, that could be very human of her to feel hate and anger.  Her remorse towards the end is a redeeming factor. The bond between Eric and Sara could have been stronger had there been more tension and emotions at stake. But shallow or not, love is love, is able to conquer the evil of evils, and it is maybe enough that the message “love conquers all” comes across loud and clear. The violence in the movie, although in context, must be explained to the very young audience.

Bastille Day

TITLE: Bastille Day (received, edited, uploaded April 27, Meldy) DIRECTOR: James Watkins LEAD CAST: Idris Elba, Richard Madden, Charlotte Le Bon, Eriq Ebouaney, Jose Garcia SCREENWRITER: Andrew Baldwin PRODUCER: Bard Dorros, Fabrice Gianfermi, Steve Golin, David Kanter EDITOR: Jon Harris MUSICAL DIRECTOR: Alex Heffes GENRE: Action, Adventure CINEMATOGRAPHER: Tim Maurice-Jones DISTRIBUTOR: Focus Features LOCATION: Paris RUNNING TIME: 92 minutes
Technical Assessment: 3.5
Moral Assessment: 3
CINEMA Rating: V14
Hustler pickpocket Michael Mason (Richard Madden) is an undocumented American tourist in France. His modus operandi involves getting attention of the people in a crowded spot of Paris, France which he succeeds without being caught. Until he observes an anxious woman Zoe Naville (Charlotte Le Bon), who happens to be a terrorist accomplice, as his next likely victim. He steals her handbag not knowing it contains a bomb hidden in a stuffed toy. Thinking there is no valuable in the bag, he throws it in the street corner; it detonates to his surprise, killing four people. He is caught in a camera that goes viral in social media, identifying him as a prime suspect in a terrorist plot. He becomes the object of a nationwide terrorist manhunt. CIA agent Sean Briar (Idris Elba) captures Mason and discovers he’s not a terrorist. He then uses Sean’s pickpocketing skills to uncover a large-scale corruption and conspiracy in a bombing campaign designed to bring Paris to downfall on Bastille Day.
Bastille Day has a thrilling story. It cleverly connects street crimes like pickpocketing and high profile corruption to Bastille Day, a special holiday in the France. This has been heightened by director Watkins’ good treatment of combined action, humor, and suspense. Although there seems to be carelessness in a scene of conversation openly in the street after discovering a suicide and beside a hot car. The roof chase also unnecessarily takes a while. Nevertheless, the lead actors Madden, Le Bon, and Elba equally give their strong and impressive performances. The editing is likewise good especially in pickpocket scenes. The cinematography is shot with clarity and coherence, supported by good production design. Other technical aspects – sounds, musical scoring, and lighting complement the overall presentation of the film.
Bastille Day believes that there is always a chance to change and that criminal skills like picking pockets may be used in a positive way to stop the chaos or to uncover high level corruption. No one can deny that corruption involving high ranking officials and law enforcers is already a reality in human society. Pickpocketing becomes relatively petty beside big-time stealing although viewers are reminded that it is still stealing and an equally punishable act. Similarly, a bomb in whatever form is dangerous and can kill people; therefore allowing one’s self to act as a mule to plant a bomb for whatever reason is a big risk to one’s life and others, not to mention property. The serious situation in Bastille Day needs a strong willed, discerning person with wisdom and the willingness to take risks, like the character of Agent Sean. Finally, social media can make or unmake a person. Viewers are reminded anew to be responsible in their use.