Genre: Crime drama
Director: Karyn Kusama
Starring: Nicole Kidman, Sebastian Stan, Toby Kebbell, Tatiana Maslany, Bradley Whitford, Jade Pettyjohn
Duration: 121 minutes
KRS Releasing Ltd
An almost unrecognisable Nicole Kidman stars in this crime drama by Karyn Kusama, who previously directed Girlfight (2000), Aeon Flux (2005) and Jennifer’s Body (2009), which all revolved around female protagonists.
Her leading character this time is Erin Bell (Kidman), who as a young cop went undercover to infiltrate a gang in the California desert, with tragic results.
She continued working as a detective for the Los Angeles Police Department, but feelings of anger and remorse leave her worn down and consumed by guilt.
When the leader of that gang suddenly re-emerges, Erin embarks on a quest to find his former associates, bring him to justice and make peace with her tortured past.
The film received mixed reviews, but mostly more positive ones. Jeffrey M. Andersen of Common Sense Media wrote: “Driven by Kidman’s forceful, demolishing performance and a deliriously complex, snaky screenplay, this mature, intricately designed crime drama is more memorable and more haunting than most.”
Joe Morgenstern of the Wall Street Journal commented: “The film is intentionally dark, but it’s also almost ceaselessly grim.”
While Ann Hornaday of the Washington Post wrote: “As go-for-broke as Kusama is, and as exhilarating as it can be to watch Kidman collaborate so fearlessly with a film-maker of such pitiless vision, Destroyer finally collapses under its own weight.”
And the critics consensus on Rottentomatoes reads: “Destroyer’s gruelling narrative is as uncompromising as Nicole Kidman’s central performance, which adds extra layers to a challenging film that leaves a lingering impact.”
The film, for which Kidman was nominated for a Golden Globe for best actress, has grossed $1.5 million since its release in the US on December 25.
Rotten Tomatoes: 71%
Empire: 4 stars
The Mule (2018)
Director: Clint Eastwood
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Clint Eastwood, Manny Montana, Michael Peña, Andy Garcia, Laurence Fishburne, Alison Eastwood, Dianne Wiest
Duration: 116 minutes
KRS Releasing Ltd
Clint Eastwood’s latest directorial effort is based on a New York Times article about a 90-year-old drug mule, which recounted the true story of Leo Sharp, a World War II veteran who in his 80s became a drug courier for the Sinaloa Cartel of Mexico.
Eastwood, of course, plays the lead role here, that of 90-year-old horticulturist Earl Stone, who takes a job as drug courier for a Mexican cartel after ending up broke, alone and facing foreclosure on his business.
His immediate success leads to easy money and a larger shipment that soon draws the attention of hard-charging DEA agent Colin Bates (Bradley Cooper).
When Earl’s past mistakes start to weigh heavily on his conscience, he must decide whether to right those wrongs before law enforcement and cartel thugs catch up to him.
Reviews probably didn’t meet Easwood’s expectations.
Chris Hewitt of Empire wrote: “So insubstantial it may not actually exist, The Mule is very much the latest in a long line of minor Clints. But it might help pass the time on long journeys. Just make sure you don’t watch and drive.”
David Edelstein of Vulture magazine was more happy with the outcome: “The Mule turns out to be a modest but reasonably suspenseful and abidingly eerie portrait of the aged white American male trying vainly to forestall rejection and irrelevance.”
Made on a $50 million budget, the film fared quite well at the box office, grossing $135.3 million since its US release on December 14.
Rotten Tomatoes: 69%
Empire: 3 stars
Alita: Battle Angel (2019)
Director: Robert Rodriguez
Starring: Rosa Salazar, Chistoph Waltz, Jennifer Connelly, Mahershala Ali, Ed Skrein
Duration: 122 minutes
KRS Releasing Ltd
The cyberpunk action film is based on Yukito Kishiro’s manga series Gunnm, also known as Battle Angel Alita.
The plot is set in the future when an abandoned cyborg is found in the scrapyard of Iron City by Ido, a compassionate cyber-doctor who takes the unconscious Alita to his clinic. When she awakens, she has no memory of who she is, nor does she have any recognition of the world she finds herself in. As Alita learns to navigate her new life and the treacherous streets of Iron City, Ido tries to shield her from her mysterious past.
The film was lauded for its film-making and action, but some reviewers criticised the plot.
Molly Freeman of Screen Rant called the movie “a mesmerising feat of film-making” but she added that it “struggles under the weight of adapting such rich source material.”
And Dan Jolin of Empire commented: Best enjoyed for the fun, slick action and the astonishing, super-expressive realisation of Alita herself, because elsewhere it’s cyberpunk business as usual, marred by some sloppy plotting.”
Rotten Tomatoes: 62%
Empire: 3 stars
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