Thursday 17 June 2021

Rob's Movie Night Roundup - K (Kidnap, Killers Anonymous)

At the beginning of the year, my wife and I decided that we'd like to watch more movies. There are 52 weeks in a year, 2 of us, and 26 letters in the alphabet. What better way to choose some movies than to go alphabetically? The only rule: Where possible, it should be a movie that one or more of us had never seen before. Oh, and ideally it should be part of one of the copious online streaming services we're already subscribed to, because why bother paying for a rental when we're not short of options?

Incidentally, if anyone from the big online streaming service providers is reading this (your Notfluxes or your Prims, for example), please make it easier to search for/sort movies alphabetically. Thanks.

Also, fair warning: There may well be movies that appear on this list that you'll find hard to believe I haven't seen before. It happens.

Previous letters are here: A B C D E F G H I J


Director: Luis Prieto
Stars: Halle Berry, Sage Correa, Chris McGinn

Synopsis via IMDB: A mother stops at nothing to recover her kidnapped son.

Do you remember when Taken came out, and you *believed* in Liam Neeson as a credible action hero? I certainly do; I thought that film was incredible, and though the sequels ebbed at some of that goodwill I still feel that the original film is outstanding. There are a number of things that the film did to make this happen, but in summary it was earned. Neeson's character had the background and you saw it in action before the main set piece kicked off. This movie feels like one of those films that tried to reproduce the same results with a different actor, but ignoring all those things and hoping you won't care.

Halle Berry plays a waitress and single mother, dealing with overwork and what we're led to presume is a messy divorce/custody battle/both. She goes to a park, loses her kid and goes on a chase to recover him, trying to get help along the way from law enforcement and passing traffic. Without going too deep into spoiler territory, that is the film as a whole. If you're thinking at this point that you can telegraph the overall direction of this film, you're probably not only right but it's worse than you think.

I'll say something nice about this film that should hopefully offset the overall sentiment that this is not worth the time to catch up on if you're doing your own alphabet. The performances are solid, and lots of it is well shot. There's one scene in particular, which is hard to say too much about (but involves Berry going to get help from a car behind her) which was straight-up *excellent* in its execution.

Overall, however, this film annoyed me. There's nothing wrong with the central premise but to revisit the Taken example, Bryan Mills is an ex-Green Beret and CIA operative using his highly-developed skills. Halle Berry's character has none of these things, and yet still manages to go above and beyond everyone around her (and maybe even Bryan Mills from Taken) to the point of sheer ridiculousness.

What's more, even if you accept that panic is a factor in some of the character's decision-making, a lot of the decisions made are irrational even then. The driving sequences are quite prolonged to the point of nearly feeling overlong as well; when you consider that the film clocks in at 95 minutes for the theatrical release, which was cut down to 82 for the physical media, that makes me think the reviews touched on this and it was corrected. Kudos, if so. It could be that the physical media release is a tighter film, so if you really must see one version that's probably the one to watch.

Director: Martin Owen
Stars: Tommy Flanagan, Rhyon Nicole Brown, MyAnna Buring

Synopsis via IMDB: A support group of killers is held regularly. The participants sit in a circle of trust and share their transgressions.

I'll say something nice about this film to kick us off; this film is beautifully executed. The colour palette is really lovely, with a certain vibrant neon feel underscoring everything.

It's a shame, then, that the film is so thoroughly confusing as to make that so largely irrelevant. I watched it a few days ago and still don't feel quite sure that I understood the basic plot fully. It's just a film that I watched, and not a fantastic one. I really struggle to say anything else about it.

It doesn't help that if you watch this on Amazon Prime, as we did, there are no subtitles to speak of. I can't say for sure that it would've helped, as the main problem seems to be the film jumping in at a specific point in time with little to no context of what came before, but it would've been nice to have the option to say for sure.

There's nothing inherently wrong with any of the performances from the cast. Gary Oldman is in the poster, but not one of the main cast credited on IMDB, which kind of reflects his role as a relatively important but not especially present character.

Jessica Alba is in it too, so if you like her that's a plus. I think she's cool and all, but that's about the limit. Usually I can point to a standout performance, but for this film everyone is just...fine. They do their jobs capably. That feels back-handed to write, but I don't intend it to be. This film has a capable and efficient cast, but I really think the writing and overall storytelling lets it down immensely.

With so many decent movies forming part of the Movie Night Roundup this year, there will always be a couple of films that end up ranking lower on the overall list. I mean, there are going to be 52 movies to rank, even informally. I think it's fair to say that the movies from K are going to form part of the latter half, if not the bottom few. These movies might really hit home for some, but for me they were just middling at best to irritating at worst.

Did you enjoy the roundup? Let me know! If you have thoughts on the movies chosen and their respective writeups above, you know where to find me. Maybe you don't, but there are buttons everywhere to make that happen. Comments, Twitter, you name it. Moreover, if you want to make use of this movie night format, bearing in mind you're a few weeks in and might have to double up to get up to speed, feel free to do the same - I'd love to know what you chose too!

Rob Wade

Rob Wade blogs about stuff he likes. Whether it's video games or geek media for Emotionally14 or writing about speculative theories for future films on Talk Star Wars, the focus has always been on the stuff that brings the most pleasure to his life within media.

Rob is the editor of Emotionally14, and showrunner of the E14 podcasts "The Crazy Train", "The E14 Gamecast" and "Talk Star Wars", as well as the host and guest of a number of pieces on E14's Youtube channel over the years.

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