Retro spy thriller with a cool soundtrack. Solid action sequences with enough intrigue to keep you guessing most of the way along, though at times felt like it could have done with a touch more editing. There’s a possible option for sequels, though the mystique of the play has been laid bare and that could become ‘just another spy story’ so unlikely.
A good political thriller with appropriate action sequences here and there. There are a few times when you have to wonder how Chan’s character gets certain information with the limited tech available to him – the addition of a couple of cutscenes showing a momentary insight into this would have held things together better, despite the exposition of his past experience later.
This time London gets the treatment (and spoilers ahead).
The opening builds up to the ‘world leaders’ gathering in London for the funeral of the Prime Minister of the UK. This leads to massive carnage as a terrorist organisation has planned for just this eventuality and, basically, blows up the major landmarks in London and manages to kill the majority of the leaders in the process through (excessive) precision – e.g. blow up a bridge with two mobile units to take out the Japanese Premier who happens to be stuck in traffic there, or take out the French Premier on the river by blowing up a barge full of explosives as it was passing, or blow up the correct corner of Westminster Abbey to take out the Italian Permier who happened to be taking a private tour instead of going to the funeral. Apparently, they knew all this ahead of time to set this up. Yet send teams of motorbike riders after the President of the USA on a chase across London and again after they down his helicopter with an RPG (which he walks out of).
Oh, and it turns out that the UK Prime Minister’s death was an assassination, but they didn’t figure this out until after the funeral was arranged, everybody had arrived and carnage ensued – they found poison in his blood work which you think they would have discovered within 24 hours given his position and aborted the whole funeral.
And there was “no chatter” about this major attack that had been two years in the planning.
I find that very hard to believe.
So, it’s an action movie that essentially paints the patriotic USA as the survive-everything hero of the piece, and the final piece from the Embassy to the secret terrorist den feels like something out of Call of Duty. They never explain how the bad guys manage to plan anything this big other than an aside that “they are shielded by governments” so does sort of hint that most events of any scale are organised by state actors of some description and each begets a response since you cannot stand by and do nothing. Rote.
There was more than one occasion where I thought “this is just ridiculous” and nearly switched off, but was curious to see what tale was told. Sadly it was pretty much by-the-book.
Except for one character: MI6 Jacquelin Marshall aka “Jacks”. She was introduced late in the film at an MI6 safe house as “somebody you don’t fuck with” (though we never really knew why) and went on to unravel the mystery and discover the mole. Her brief arc felt the most real – a computer hack to restore the CCTV leading to the discovery of the mole, and his final execution in a deserted underground garage – and I think there is mileage in developing her character as a female Bond-style operative as long as we cut out the massive set pieces and landmarks destruction which seems to be popular now.
Some lovely locations for this action outing from Statham. A generic blackmail plot with a loose hook and stereotypically ineffective goons opens the movie to leave the bad guy pulling the strings and send Statham on three kill missions or his new girlfriend dies. Given he had never seen her before, he’s suddenly ‘in love’ with her and becomes the noble hero. Cue a series of generic, if briefly innovative, sequences which (sadly) are prefaced with voiceovers along the lines of “this is the hardest place you can get into, ever.” This formula has been implemented much more effectively in other movies, and better suits a single mission which we can introduce more twists and turns, get more involved with the protagonists and learn to hate the antagonist. Sadly by trying to be three missions in one, we get a pedestrian movie that rushes from sequence to sequence because it seems like we have to just get through it all for the finale. Which is also generic. Meh.
A taut, low-budget sci-fi movie based on a recurring trope (time loops) with some good twists and turns. It felt longer than the short run time and was going well until it ended without an actual conclusion. If you like Sci-Fi, I’d add this to your list.
Despite mixed reviews, I decided to watch this sequel in the franchise. Having watched all the other films along the way, it was good to see how the team had integrated elements from every film since the original, even recreating some scenes with CGI, yet managed to add yet another timeline into the mix.
Netflix is busy making its own movies now. Despite the bigger budgets, their decision to adopt a slightly different approach to movie production than the big studios leads to a flatter feel for some movies. It allows them to explore ideas that big studios may not and, in the process, generate the 21st century equivalent of ‘straight to cable’ movies. Spectral is – to be fair – better than the ‘straight to’ movies yet still doesn’t quite live up to the expectations or ‘pitch’ you are sold in the trailer. A watchable sci-fi that could have benefitted from a little more script work.