Jan 17, 2014


From my Guardian review:—
... The director is Kenneth Branagh whose makeover from  cinema’s foremost interpreter of Shakespeare into one of cinema’s more reliable reinterpreters of American pop icons is one of the more pleasing twists of recent years. The shedding of cultural aspirations has lent his filmmaking buoyancy: his Hamlet was fussy and over-wrought, but his Thor was clean and confident—pop Wagner.  The new movie is at its best in its first twenty minutes, which bespeak a ticklish sense of pacing. We first we see of Jack he is ploughing his way through mathematics text books at the London School of Economics before catching 9/11 on TV. Shot down from a helicopter over Afghanistan three years later, he winds up n Walter Reed nursing a spinal injury. Thus, in short order, is Jack  supplied with a sense of patriotic duty, combat skills and a decent excuse for his desk-jockey analyst job. The alternative, of course, would have been to finish his studies and graduate, but that would never do. For one thing, that would have denied him the ministrations of his almond-eyed doctor in rehab, Cathy,  who is played by Kiera Knightley. Knightley is, of course, British but her away-game is  strangely better—playing Americans, as the otherwise awful Seeking a Friend Until the End of the World showed, has a way both of loosening her up and allowing to hold more in reserve at the same time; here, she’s playful and poker-faced as she teases Jack for information about his job, about which he is sworn to secrecy, even after she becomes his fiancée. So she springs a surprise visit on him in Moscow, only to find him engaged in a top-secret counter-intelligence operation to foil a plot to collapse the US economy by artificially driving down the US dollar with hyper-inflation, the rat! “I thought you were having an affair!” she sobs, although I didn’t share her relief for long.  Economic warfare sounds shop-fresh and ripped-from-the-headlines, but it turns out to involve the same old shots of data downloading from encrypted laptops we’ve been trying to find fascinating since Sandra Bullock discovered the interwebben in The Net. “Do I have to remind you what’s at stake here?” says Costner, as everyone braces themselves for another round of staring at slowly descending LED bars.   “There’s a very real chance we don't get out of this alive!”   You know the action of a movie is a little on the undernourished side — basically, a couple of car chase and a Skyfallish break-in — when it has to include little promotional blurbs for itself... C+

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