Rob Watches Movies

Reviews of every film I watch. The Good, The Bad and The Mothman Prophecies.

Category: War (page 2 of 2)

Fury – 8/10

War is Hell…

After the recent success of of hyper realistic but super boring war films such as Zero Dark Thirty, End of Watch director David Ayer goes back to basics to make an old school war film.

Fury focuses on one five man crew and it is the ensemble cast of Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf, Logan Lerman, Michael Pena and The Walking Dead’s Jon Berthal that elevate this gripping WWII tale into a minor classic.

Brad Pitt has hardly been on a decline recently, appearing in 12 Years A Slave, World War Z and Killing Them Softly but Fury is without a doubt his best role since 2011’s Moneyball. A more nuanced and toned down version of his Aldo Raine character from Inglourious Basterds, Pitt gives a gritty and memorable performance.

The supporting cast are on the top of their game as well. Berthal is genuinely loathsome, Logan Lerman as rookie soldier Norman is a revelation and finally fulfils the potential he showed in Perks of Being a Wallflower and Michael Pena is dependable as ever.

This brings us on nicely to Shia LaBeouf…

Shia LaBeouf;Logan Lerman;Michael Pena

Actual cannibal Shia LaBeouf

LaBeouf has been more in the headlines for his erratic behaviour than his acting in recent years, indeed he reportedly pulled out one of his own teeth and refused to shower during the making of Fury, but for an actor who is often inconsistent it is safe to say this is one of his finer performances.

After years of boring Band of Brothers imitations Fury and American Sniper (which also came out in 2014) are a breath of fresh air.

At ease.

American Sniper – 7.5/10.

He might shout at empty chairs once in a while but Clint Eastwood knows how to tell a story…

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First off, the elephant in the room. Any film about the war in Iraq is always going to be controversial. A film celebrating the life of a sniper in the U.S army who described Iraqi insurgents as ‘savages’ and also told of how he ‘loved’ killing them, takes this controversy to a new level. American Sniper is not a propaganda film or a recruitment video however. It is at its essence entertainment and should be treated as such.

With that out of the way is American Sniper actually any good? I am happy to say that it is mostly successful. Bradley Cooper continues his incredible trajectory with another confident and touching performance. To receive Oscar noms in three consecutive films as diverse as Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle and American Sniper is quite the achievement for Cooper and all the work that he put in to become protagonist Chris Ryan pays off in spades.

AMERICAN SNIPER - 2014 FILM STILL - Bradley Cooper as Chris Kyle - Photo Credit: Keith Bernstein/Warner Bros  (c) 2014 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc., WV Films IV LLC and Ratpac-Dune Entertainment LLC-U.S., Canada, Bahamas & Bermuda

American Sniper does dip a little in the middle with a long Zero Dark Thirty style shoot out. I always think the most boring parts of any war film is the actual fighting itself which is one of the reasons I enjoyed Jarhead so much. Even in these moments Bradley Cooper injects a personal touch into what should be disconnecting fighting scenes.

Cooper smoulders with an intensity that bubbles under even in the quieter scenes and his co star Sienna Miller overcomes any doubts that anyone could have had about her ability to pull off a role as emotive as Chris Ryan’s wife Taya. Eastwood has a history of getting the most out of his cast and everyone in support seems to have bought into what is an astounding story no matter what your political alliances are.

Is Chris Ryan a hero? It depends who you ask. Does it matter? Not in the context of this film. A stunning return to form for Eastwood and more of the same from Cooper.

Zero Dark Thirty – 5.5/10.

This is what happens if you take Jeremy Renner out of Hurt Locker…
DARK-THIRTY-3
Zero Dark Thirty is the story of the decade long struggle to find Osama Bin Laden following the September 11th attacks. The first hour is pretty good and feels like a high budget, longer version of Homeland. Jason Clarke as the weary CIA interrogator is easily the stand out performer and it is a shame when his character fades from the story in the second half. This film was initially meant to be about the pursuit and subsequent failure to capture Bin Laden but then had to be rewritten when the real life Bin Laden was captured and killed. This leaves the screenplay a bit uneven, with the second half of the film feeling like a last minute rewrite in places.
Jessica Chastain has been Oscar nommed for her role but she did absolutely nothing for me here. Director Kathryn Bigalow got lucky with Hurt Locker, an otherwise slightly above average film made into a Best Picture winner solely because of Jeremy Renner’s astounding performance but there is no such salvation for Bigalow here. A bang average movie.

Apocalypse Now – 10/10

Francis Ford Coppola nearly killed everybody involved in the name of art. Apocalypse Now is glorious vindication.

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