Top 5 Moments in Austin Powers

Spoof movies… you either love them or hate them. Well, except me – I love some and hate others! Being subjected to travesties like the Scary Movie series, Date/Epic/Disaster etc Movie, even the recent Vampires Suck, is a trauma that’s hard to recover from, and one that continually threatens to destroy my love of the movie-making business altogether. Even accidentally viewing part of a trailer for one of them can be a horrifying experience, but when they’re done right, by genuinely talented people, they can be movies of comedic genius, and the movie world is filled with potential candidates.

James Bond films are generally fantastic entertainment, but they are also one of the candidates mentioned that are particularly ripe for spoofing, especially the earlier films. To be honest I’m surprised it took so long, but the combined talents of Mike Myers and Jay Roach did eventually bring us the highly amusing shagathon featured here, which not only represents the birth of the (soon to be ‘rebooted’) series, but which also remains the best film in the series. Well, in my opinion, anyway! As with the film featured in my first Top Five Movie Moments, choosing the five best moments from this film was tough, particularly as many of the gags are visual, but here are my choices:

Spoiler Alert: the Top Five Movie Moments featured here obviously assume that you’ve seen the film in question or don’t mind knowing about its most prominent moments so don’t come whining to me if they ruin a film that you haven’t seen yet!

5… “We’ll Hold The World Ransom For…”

Austin Powers - Movie Screenshot

Recently thawed from cryogenic freeze, Dr. Evil wastes no time in ridding himself of surplus henchmen, including the indestructible Mustafa (Will Ferrell). After job number one is out of the way, job number two: hold the world hostage…
Dr. Evil: “Gentlemen, I have a plan. It’s called blackmail. The Royal Family of Britain are the wealthiest landowners in the world. Either the Royal Family pays us an exorbitant amount of money, or we make it seen that Prince Charles has had an affair outside of marriage and therefore would have to divorce!” (much maniacal laughing ensues)
Number Two: “Prince Charles did have an affair. He admitted it, and they are now divorced.”
Dr. Evil: “Right, people you have to tell me these things, okay? I’ve been frozen for thirty years, okay? Throw me a frickin’ bone here! I’m the boss! Need the info.”
(pause)
Dr. Evil: “Okay no problem. Here’s my second plan. Back in the 60’s, I had a weather changing machine that was, in essence, a sophisticated heat beam which we called a “laser.” Using these “lasers,” we punch a hole in the protective layer around the Earth, which we scientists call the “Ozone Layer.” Slowly but surely, ultraviolet rays would pour in, increasing the risk of skin cancer. That is unless the world pays us a hefty ransom.” (more maniacal laughing)
Number Two: (pause) “That also already has happened.”
Dr. Evil: “Shit. Oh hell, let’s just do what we always do. Hijack some nuclear weapons and hold the world hostage. Yeah? Good! Gentlemen, it has come to my attention that a breakaway Russian Republic called Kreplachistan will be transferring a nuclear warhead to the United Nations in a few days. Here’s the plan. We get the warhead and we hold the world ransom for… ONE MILLION DOLLARS!”
Number Two: “Don’t you think we should ask for *more* than a million dollars? A million dollars isn’t exactly a lot of money these days. Virtucon alone makes over 9 billion dollars a year!”
Dr. Evil: “Really? That’s a lot of money.”
(pause)
Dr. Evil: “Okay then, we hold the world ransom for… One… Hundred… BILLION DOLLARS!”
(much more maniacal laughing)

 

4… “Not a time to lose one’s head”

Austin Powers - Movie Screenshot

After being captured by Dr. Evil, Austin and Vanessa are sent off to be killed by some ‘ill-tempered, mutated, sea bass’. It’s not long, however, before they manage to overpower the henchman sent to oversea their excution, and accidentally get him decapitated. Austin’s reaction?
Austin: “Not the time to lose one’s head.”
Vanessa: “No.”
Austin: “That’s not the way to get ahead in life.”
Vanessa: “No.”
Austin: “It’s a shame he wasn’t more headstrong.”
Vanessa: “Hmm.”
Austin: “He’ll never be the head of a major corporation.”
Vanessa: “Okay, that’ll do.”
Austin: “Okay.”

 

3… Three-Point Turn?

Austin Powers - Movie Screenshot

After infiltrating Dr. Evil’s super underground lair posing as tourists, it’s not long before Austin and Vanessa leave the tour and start snooping around. They soon comandeer a electric baggage cart thing and drive down a long tunnel before parting ways. Eager to return the way he came, Austin tries to perform a three-point turn with the cart only to find it’s almost exactly the same width as the tunnel, meaning it might be a bit more than a three-point turn! Yes, it’s a visual gag which doesn’t really work with words and a still image, but it’s so funny (in my opinion, at least) I had to include it!

 

2… “That’s Not Mine!”

Austin Powers - Movie Screenshot

After being unfrozen from cryogenic freeze to stop the newly re-emerged Dr. Evil’s plans for world domination, Austin is debriefed before having his personal effects returned, accompanied by new sidekick Vanessa…
Clerk: “Personal effects, Danger Powers”
Austin: “Actually my name’s Austin Powers”
Clerk: “It says here, name: Danger Power”
Austin: “No, no, no, no, no” (looks at Vanessa) “Danger’s my middle name.”
Clerk: “Okay, Austin Danger Powers… one blue crushed velvet suit…”
Austin: “Hey, all right”
Clerk: “One frilly lace cravat…”
Austin: “There it is”
Clerk: “One silver medallion with ‘male’ symbol…”
(Austin looks at Vanessa seductively)
Clerk: “One pair of Italian boots”
Austin: “Buon giorno boys”
Clerk: “One vinyl record album: Burt Bacharach Plays His Hits”
Austin: “Hey Burt!”
Clerk: “One Swedish-made penis enlarger pump”
Austin: (to Vanessa) “That’s not mine!”
Clerk: “One credit card receipt for Swedish-made penis enlarger… signed by Austin Powers”
Austin: “I’m telling ya baby, that’s not mine!”
Clerk: “One warranty card for Swedish-made penis enlarger pump… filled out by Austin Powers.”
Austin: “I don’t even know what this is! This sort of thing ain’t my bag, baby”
Clerk: “One book, “Swedish-made Penis Enlargers And Me: This Sort of Thing Is My Bag Baby”, by Austin Powers.”
Austin: “Ah…”

1… The Opening

Austin Powers - Movie Screenshot

Some films have mysterious openings with a hint of intrigue to hook you into watching more. Others, like Austin Powers, let you know immediately what sort of film you’re in store for, and then some! The ludicrously over-the-top song and dance number portraying Austin as the grooviest swinger the world has ever seen is just right in its attempts to let you see just who he is and how others react to him. Filmed in American streets that the film makers have purposely made a half-arsed effort to look English (by adding a couple of London buses, red phone boxes, and of course, a typical English bobby), this fantastic sequence is arguably the best moment of the film! The sequels maybe tried a bit too hard to best it, so this remains the best in my view…

The Sum Of All Fears

The Sum Of All Fears - Movie Screenshot

The Sum Of All Fears (2002)
Director: Phil Alden Robinson  Starring: Ben Affleck, Morgan Freeman, James Cromwell, Liev Schreiber, Bruce McGill, Phillip Baker Hall, John Beasley, Ciaran Hinds, Alan Bates, Bridget Moynahan

Certificate: 12  Running Time: 124 Minutes

Tagline: “27,000 Nuclear Weapons. One Is Missing.”

Terrorism thrillers have certainly been around for a long time now, since the debut of a certain James Bond at least, but a majority of them have always seemed to adhere to the same sort of template. This one is a bit different. It was adapted from the Tom Clancey novel of the same name and is part of the convoluted ‘Jack Ryan’ series that has a rather confusing timeline anyway, nevermind when you take the films into consideration, each of which has changed various details. We’ll just concentrate on the films for now though which began with first The Hunt For Red October (with Alec Baldin as Ryan), then Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger (both of which starred Harrison Ford in the main role). For this film the part was handed to Affleck and, unlike the novel, is set early in his CIA career when he was a mere analyst.


The Sum Of All Fears - Movie Screenshot

The film opens with a scene depicting an Israeli jet fighter being prepped for takeoff which, we’re told via some accompanying text, was sent up with a nuclear bomb towards the end of the 1973 Yom Kippur War with a view to using it against the invading Egyptian and Syrian forces in the event their own ground forces were overrun. Before this did or didn’t happen, however, the jet was shot down over the Syrian desert. Fast forward to the present day (2002) and the bomb has been discovered buried deep beneath the desert sand by local villagers who unwittingly sell it to an arms dealer for scrap, who in turn sells it to disaffected Austrian neo-Fascist, Dressler (Bates). Meanwhile, in the US, President Fowler (Cromwell), CIA Director Bill Cabot (Freeman), and some of their advisers are conducting ‘war games’ exercises to simulate a nuclear attack against the US.
The Sum Of All Fears - Movie Screenshot

Soon after this, the Russian President suddenly dies and is replaced by the younger and relatively unknown President Nemerov (Hinds). Unknown, that is, to everyone except Ryan who has studied him for years, even predicting him to be the next President. Ryan soon finds himself being invited to top-level meetings and even being sent to Russia to meet Nemerov whilst on a routine nuclear arms inspection. Soon after they arrive back home, Cabot sends operative, John Clark (Schreiber), to Russia to track down a trio of missing nuclear scientists – the exact three that would be needed to reactivate an old, recently acquired bomb, for example. Meanwhile, Russia launches a massive chemical weapons attack on Chechnya, apparently ordered by Nemerov, but Ryan doesn’t believe he’s responsible. Dressler then launches his own attacks against the US and tricks them into believing the Russians are responsible. Thanks to events in Chechnya they believe it, and events threaten to spiral out of control as the two countries head towards all-out nuclear war.


The Sum Of All Fears - Movie Screenshot

Tom Clancy commands a large and loyal fanbase and his books, as well as the films based on them, are always heavily scrutinised. This film proved more controversial than usual. Not only were many details changed from the book but the choice of Ben Affleck to play Jack Ryan caused considerable rancour among many. I’m no Clancy fanboy though, and neither do I have a problem with Affleck, so I’d like to think I can be impartial. Whilst he’s unlikely to be nominated for any awards here, he does a perfectly passable job if you ask me, enjoying romantic evenings with his new girlfriend, Cathy (Moynahan), and engaging in casual banter with his colleagues before he’s swiftly elevated to the upper echelons of the CIA and suddenly he’s far more nervous and having to take things a lot more seriously.


The Sum Of All Fears - Movie Screenshot

He doesn’t even have a huge amount of screentime either, none of the characters hog the limelight really. Morgan Freeman barely breaks a sweat as calm and confident CIA Director, William Cabot, but he remains as watchable as he always is. In fact, everyone in the film does a decent, if unspectacular job with their roles. I enjoyed Liev Schreiber’s limited screen time as John Clark in particular, but the thing that makes the film for me is the superb, tense atmosphere it builds throughout. A particularly chilling moment occurs when the President is regaling guests at the Whitehouse Correspondence Dinner and all of a sudden everyone’s pagers and mobile phones start beeping. First one, then two… before long dozens. At that moment you just know something big has gone down!

The Sum Of All Fears - Movie Screenshot

That’s indicative of many tense moments in the film too. It evokes memories of the fear and paranoia surrounding the Cold War period, and even the Cuban Missile Crisis as well with the actual ‘bad guys’, the neo-Fascists (who were changed from the Middle Eastern terrorists of the book), not even spending much time in front of the camera themselves – they’re just around long enough to stitch up Russia and provoke the US really. The Sum Of All Fears has certainly got its critics to say the least, especially Clancey fans (and indeed Clancy himself!) but as far as I’m concerned it’s a film with a lot more balls than most of its type and is a well-paced, atmospheric (and rewatchable) thriller that should entertain everyone else immensely.

RKS Score: 9/10

The Other Guys

The Other Guys

The Other Guys (2010)
Director: Adam McKay Starring: Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, Eva Mendes, Steve Coogan, Michael Keaton, Samuel L Jackson, Dwayne Johnson

Certificate: 12A  Running Time: 107 Minutes

Tagline: “When the top cops are busy…our only hope is… The Other Guys”

Hollywood has produced countless cop films over the years. More often than not they feature hero cops who have saved the day over and over. But what about the other guys – the cops lurking in the background who get lumbered with all the mundane assignments and spend half their time doing paperwork while the top guys bask in the glory? Will they ever have a chance to show what they can do when they get the chance? Well thanks to another McKay / Ferrell collaboration, we get to find out! I suppose their brand of comedic lunacy is an acquired taste but it’s a fruitful partnership that has so far yielded the highly humorous Anchorman, Talladega Nights, and Step Brothers, so the pedigree is certainly there. I don’t know about you but I was dearly hoping The Other Guys would keep their run intact…


The Other Guys

Detectives Allen Gamble (Ferrell) and Terry Hoitz (Wahlberg) are the ‘other guys’ in question. The former is a bureaucratic pen pusher while the latter is an enthusiastic detective who was lumbered with Gamble for a partner after he shot a baseball star by mistake. They, and indeed most of their department, play second fiddle to the comically over-the-top hero cop duo of Detectives Danson (Johnson) and Highsmith (Jackson) who get all the exciting, high-profile cases and therefore all the action, glory, girls, etc, and dump the paperwork and other boring stuff on their colleagues. Until, that is, their wildy over-confident attitudes finally get the better of them! The resulting vacuum in the department sees several detectives vying for the top jobs including, much to Gamble’s annoyance, his partner Hoitz. With Hoitz almost literally dragging Gamble out of his comfort zone in the office, the pair investigate a seemingly routine permit violation by multi-billionaire, David Ershon (Coogan), and in the process discover what could be something far bigger.


The Other Guys

Anyone going into this film knowing the track-record of those involved is likely to be expecting the same kind of all-out crazy, sometimes even nonsensical gag-fest seen in Anchorman and… well, pretty much all their films together, but this film is slightly different. For one thing it actually has something resembling a plot! The film also lacks many of the familiar faces from other ‘frat pack’ movies, instead providing other actors with opportunities to flex their comedic muscles. Standing out among them is Micheal Keaton as Captain Gene Mauch, who moonlights in a hardware store between run in’s with our hapless heroes. Eva Mendes also has a rare chance to shine as Allen’s ‘plain, ordinary’ wife, Shiela, who seems happy to be treated like crap by her hubby! The two ‘star’ cops, Jackson and Johnson, use every cliche in the book during their limited screentime and are great fun to watch. Hopefully the DVD will have some more footage of them.

The Other Guys

As for the two main guys… In my view, Wahlberg seems better suited to some kinds of roles than others and I’m still undecided about his performance in this one. I think, rather than his acting, it’s his character I didn’t really like here. He’s great as the once-decent cop who gets dumped back at the bottom of the ladder after a stupid mistake but he spends pretty much the whole film shouting at his partner! I can understand he’d be frustrated being saddled with an moronic accountant for a partner – he just wants to get out and arrest scumbags – but it still gets a bit much sometimes. Still, he does have some funny moments too, such as his constant lusting after Gamble’s wife, Shiela!

The Other Guys

Will Ferrell is pretty much as you’d expect. Most of his comedic moments are played straight but there’s not as many as I went in expecting. He does have some awesome moments though, which is to be expected since he was co-screenwriter. Particular favourites are his response to Hoitz’s ‘lion vs tuna’ put-down and their attempts to play good cop-bad cop with Coogan, who, despite being a fantastic comedy actor himself, has a largely thankless role here as spineless ‘villian’, Ershon. When I first saw the trailer to this film, I thought it was going to be one of the best comedies I’d seen for years. I’m a bit of a Will Ferrell fan and his brand of lunacy appeals to me completely, but I couldn’t help but feel a little… underwhelmed by this film. It has some brilliant moments of comedy gold but they’re not as frequent as I was expecting, and some parts of the film are a little drab to be honest. Still, it’s a much more cohesive film that we usually get from these guys and it’s definitely worth a watch, particularly if you’re a Ferrell fan. Maybe a potential sequel will up the gag-count a bit!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D6WOoUG1eNo[/youtube]

RKS Score: 7/10

The Station Agent

The Station Agent

The Station Agent (2003)
Director: Tom McCarthy Starring: Peter Dinklage, Bobby Cannavale, Patricia Clarkson, Michelle Williams, Raven Goodwin, Paul Benjamin, Jayce Bartok, John Slattery

Certificate: 15 Running Time: 89 Minutes

Tagline: “Loneliness is much better when you have got someone to share it with”

Every now and then I discover a film, usually by accident, that just speaks to me. These films generally turn out to be indies, usually feature lesser-known or even unknown actors, and they are often the kind of films where nothing much actually happens. The Station Agent is one of these films, and one of the main reasons I wanted to start writing reviews of films. I think this is mainly because I’ve never met anyone else who’s even heard of it, nevermind seen it – I wanted more people to know about it, to appreciate it, to love it the way I do. But at the same time the prospect of reviewing it made me nervous. What if everyone who read my review hated it? I don’t want anyone to dislike this film, I feel protective of it! However, now that I’m approaching my 100th post here at Red Parsley, and having watched the film for the umpteenth time recently, I thought it was time to finally try to give it the review it deserves.


The Station Agent

The splendidly named Finbar McBride (Dinklage) is a fairly normal man except for one thing. He suffers from achondroplasic dwarfism. As a result of this, and how people subsequently treat him, he has grown to be very quiet and withdrawn. He has few friends and interests with the only exception being his deep love for all things train-related. He works in a New York train model store for his best (and pretty much only) friend, Henry (Benjamin). When the elderly Henry suddenly dies, Fin finds himself out of work and homeless, but with one hope – bequeathed unto him by Henry is some land in New Jersey on which sits a disused train depot. Figuring he has little to lose, he sets out on foot, following the train tracks, until he reaches his new home.

The Station Agent

When he arrives, what he finds is little more than a run-down wooden shack in the middle of nowhere, but it doesn’t matter – it seems he may finally have the solitude he craves. For a few hours, anyway! In the morning, he’s woken by some sounds outside which turn out to be a hotdog van operated by young Cuban motormouth, Joe (Cannavale), who is surprised to find someone living in the supposedly abandoned depot. Soon after Joe starts forcing his friendship onto an initially disinterested Fin, he also has some unusual encounters with aspiring artist, Olivia (Clarkson), who escaped to the area to grieve the loss of her young son and subsequent breakdown of her marriage. Fin then meets (or is stalked by, initially) schoolgirl and fellow train enthusiast, Cleo (Goodwin), and quite literally bumps into pretty librarian, Emily (Williams). Before long his new, quiet life isn’t looking so quiet after all!

The Station Agent

It’s a hard film to categorise. Since I discovered it I’ve found some others of a similar style and none of them really adhere to any particular genre. It’s part drama, part comedy… there’s even an action sequence (kind of)! There’s one term I’ve heard to describe films like this though, and that’s “slice of life” films, and that sums up The Station Agent pretty well – it literally is just a quick peek at the lives of a small group of people, and whatever they happen to be going through at the time, who form unlikely friendships. It has no real beginning or end as such, and nothing Earth-shattering really happens, or at least not for anyone but the characters involved, but it seems important due to the affection that grows for each of the characters.


The Station Agent

As I said earlier, I love this film, so I’m thankful to all involved, by the first person towards whom I should direct my thanks is writer/director, Tom McCarthy, who struggled to create his vision on a shoe-string budget. Many of the exterior shots were filmed ‘on the fly’, train shots were stolen, the extras were often friends working for free. Even the car Olivia drives was borrowed from a family member! He may have had some help but he was calling the shots, such as casting and locations, and the end result is exceptional. He cared a lot about the film and it shows. Also to be applauded are the splendid performances from all actors involved. Peter Dinklage, who is surely the finest actor of his stature ever seen, is more commonly seen playing dwarves and elves and the like in mostly comedic roles, so he must’ve relished the opportunity to not only be the star of a film, but also for the focus of his character to not lean so heavily toward his size.

The Station Agent

It’s a chance he makes the most of too. The years of hurt and frustration that have built up within Fin are superbly portrayed by Dinklage. Every sigh, grimace, and smile are assuredly felt by the viewer as we watch his realisation that the peace and quiet he craves may help his self-esteem but it sure gets lonely! After all, as Fin tells Olivia as their ‘train chasing’ party dies down “It’s funny how people see me and treat me, since I’m really just a simple… boring person”. He know he’s nothing special, he just wants to be treated that way. Patricia Clarkson, also making the most of a rare starring role, puts in a great turn too. The immense pain she feels for the loss of her son seems near-constant, threatening to spill out at almost any moment, but she struggles on, trying her best to move on with her life.

The Station Agent

Bobby Cannavale is an actor I’d personally never seen before I watched this film, and have seldom seen since. It’s hard to understand though – in some ways he makes Joe the life of this film. His exuberance and optimism for… near enough everything, is infectious and you can’t help but wish you could meet someone like him in real life! Even during his rare sullen moments he is convincing, much like damn near everyone in the film. Williams is adorable as Emily who, whilst never saying as much, seems desperate to leave her little town behind and start again somewhere else, Goodwin is also amusing as friendly schoolgirl, Cleo, and most of the smaller character could easily warrant more screentime themselves.


Almost seeming like a character in the film itself is the beautiful scenery of Newfoundland, New Jersey, where a majority of the film is set and filmed. Accompanying many of its scenes is some fantastic music which suits the film well. The Station Agent is a quiet, unassuming film, and I could understand if some people found it boring, even pointless, but these would probably be the sort of movie goers who need guns, fighting, sex, and all the usual ingredients of Hollywood films to be entertained, but this film is in an indie. It possesses none of those qualities (well, besides a small scuffle), and the fact that is was not only made for next to nothing, but that it was also McCarthy’s first film is nothing short of amazing in my view. I’m sure there are few (if any) people who love this film as much as I do, but that’s irrelevant to me. Sure, brainless action flicks have their place, and can also frequently be highly enjoyable too, but none of them has ever made me want to watch them over and over, and that’s something it didn’t take me long to realise I wanted to do here.

RKS Score: 10/10

Special Trailer Note: Much to my regret, the trailer for this great film features the highly annoying Movie Voiceover Guy. He annoys me at the best of times, but he really doesn’t suit this film, so try to ignore him while watching this trailer!

[youtube width=”600″ height=”480″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i8MrVBMsBYQ[/youtube]

Zoolander

Zoolander - Movie Screenshot

Zoolander (2001)
Director: Ben Stiller Starring: Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Christine Taylor, Will Ferrell, Milla Jovovich, Jerry Stiller, Jon Voight

Certificate: 12 Running Time: 85 Minutes

Tagline: “3% Body Fat. 1% Brain Activity”

They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but does that apply to movies too? I’m not sure it should as one look at the cover and tagline of this one should tell you all you need to know! Set in the glamorous / preposterous (delete as appropriate) world of the fashion industry where top designers who rely on cheap child labour in Malaysia are panicked by the Prime Minister of that country declaring that he intends to outlaw such practices. The industry bigwigs then order top designer, Mugatu (Ferrell), to find a male model stupid enough to be brainwashed into assassinating the Prime Minister before he can make his decree. Enter world famous veteran male supermodel, Derek Zoolander (Stiller), who is struggling to deal with brash upstart, Hansel (Wilson), stealing his limelight. But is anyone really that stupid?

Zoolander - Movie Screenshot

Yep, it’s a ridiculous concept, based on a pretty ridiculous character introduced by Stiller at the 1996 VH1 Fashion Awards, but I’m sure it’s not intended to be anything else. Taking the not-exactly-groundbreaking revelation that models are as dumb as a bag of hammers and stretching it to breaking point, Stiller, who also directs, has a ball as “really really ridiculously good looking” moron, Derek. Much of the cast is made up of his family and friends with fellow ‘Frat Pack’ alumni Owen Wilson as rival model, Hansel, Vince Vaughn as his estranged, mute brother, and Will Ferrell on top form as fashion mogul, Mugatu. Joining them is his real-life wife, Christine Taylor, as snooping reporter, Matilda, and his father, Jerry Stiller, as his manager, Maury. Only Jovovich as Mugatu’s henchman (or henchwoman), Katinka, will be unfamiliar to Stiller fans.

Zoolander - Movie Screenshot

This isn’t the kind of film that calls for particularly amazing acting on the part of most of them though, the comedic burden is placed squarely on the shoulders of the three leads, a requirement each is well-versed in exceeding. The premise of Stiller and Wilson as top models is funny enough to begin with, but everything is so over-the- top and exagerated, whether it’s Derek’s retirement from modelling and subsequent attempt at coal-mining to his friends petrol fight (I guarantee you won’t be able to listen to Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go without thinking of this film again!), not to mention near enough every scene featuring Mugatu! There are also cameos aplenty including David Bowie, Natalie Portman, Billy Zane, Lenny Kravitz, and a variety of fashion-world regulars.

Zoolander - Movie Screenshot

Zoolander didn’t do well at the box office but like so many other films, it found its feet on home release and finally got the plaudits it deserves, and to such as extent that there’s now apparently a sequel planned! You won’t find an intelligent, inter-weaving plot here, nor multi-million dollar special effects, but if you have any interest in absurd spoofs, this is one for you. Let’s face it, the fashion world is as ripe for spoofing as anything could be, and Stiller lets rip with aplomb, even finding time to riff on Godfather Part 2 and 2001 of all films! In fact, pretty much every scene has a gag of some sort and there’s a good hit-rate here. The soundtrack is good too, with some well-placed music complementing the insanity well. Stupid, ridiculous, absurd, and crazy? Yes! But it’s also really really ridiculously funny!

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aWpcfA8vY-c

RKS Score: 8/10

Sunshine Cleaning

Sunshine Cleaning (2008)
Director: Floria Sigismondi Starring: Amy Adams, Emily Blunt, Alan Arkin, Jason Spevack, Steve Zahn, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Clifton Collins Jr

Certificate: 15 Running Time: 91 Minutes

Tagline: “Life’s a messy business”

Sunshine Cleaning

There are a few films that, rather than ease you in with a plot-teasing hook, instead go for the explosive opening to drive home a point. This is one of those films. The point it demonstrates? That death can be messy! The film opens with a normal, middle-aged, respectable-looking white guy who, after spraying breath freshener in his mouth, calmly walks into a gun shop of the type that are so prevalent in the US, asks to see a specific type of shotgun, and proceeds to spray the contents of one of its shells into his mouth as well. The resulting mess, we learn with the help of police detective, Mac (Zahn), is hard and time-consuming to clean up. Enter sisters, Rose (Adams) and the younger Norah (Blunt). The former is a single-mother and part-time cleaner who life hasn’t really worked out for, and the latter is a lazy waster who hasn’t really tried to work out life.


Sunshine Cleaning

Having just been fired from her latest dead-end job, Norah is reduced to babysitting for her sister while she sneaks off for some rumpy pumpy with Mac, her high-school sweetheart who ended up marrying someone else. It’s here during some post-coital natter that Mac casually mentions to Rose that there’s a lot of money to be made cleaning up crime scenes. Almost immediately she lines up her first job and arrives, sister in tow, ill-equipped and completely unprepared. Rose soon starts to realise this and, with the help of one-armed supplies wholesaler, Winston (Collins Jr), begins to actually learn the trade. Norah, meanwhile, is busy meddling in the lives of the recently deceased, particularly the daughter of their first ‘job’, Lynn (Rajskub). All the while, their wacky father, Joe (Arkin) is busy looking for the next get-rich-quick scheme while babysitting Rose’s son, Oscar (Spevack).

Sunshine Cleaning

It’s certainly an original premise! I’m personally a big fan of this kind of US indie. You know, the kind that’s hard to categorise. The kind that, if you explained it to the average person, they’d think it sounds weird, boring, or both! One of the things I like about films like this is the kind of actors they often attract, and Sunshine Cleaning is another – it has a fantastic cast including rising stars, Adams and Blunt, both of whom I’ve liked since I saw them in Junebug and My Summer of Love respectively. They both give great performances here as they try to get their lives back on track, with Blunt in particular, who now appears to be challenging Zooey Deschanel for resident indie ‘kooky outcast’, being particularly impressive. Alan Arkin pretty much continues his Little Miss Sunshine role (by the same producers, coincidentally), but that’s certainly no bad thing. Mary Lynn Rajskub (24’s Chloe) is also good as Norah’s new friend, Lynn, although she seems to be continuing her run of ‘most screentime without smiling’.

Sunshine Cleaning

Great performances aside, there’s a lot to like about Sunshine Cleaning. It’s subject matter gives the film the potential to be much darker than it is, and some opportunities for jet-black humour went begging, but it remains a highly enjoyable, feel-good film with plenty of quirky comedic moments.

RKS Score: 7/10

Vantage Point

Vantage Point - Movie Screenshot
Vantage Point (2008)

Director:Pete Travis Starring: Dennis Quaid, Matthew Fox, Forest Whitaker, Eduardo Noriega, Bruce McGill, Sigourney Weaver, Edgar Ramiez, Said Taghmaoui, Richard T. Jones, Zoe Saldana, William Hurt

Certificate: 12 Running Time:90 Minutes

Tagline: “8 Strangers. 8 Points of View. 1 Truth”

He gets a lot of stick but it’s a tough job being the US President. Everyone wants to shoot the guy for one thing, if good old Hollywood is to be believed at least! This particular President, Henry Ashton (Hurt) is in Salamanca, Spain, about to address a large crowd regarding the anti-terrorism treaty he’s about to sign. Soon after he begins, someone, from somewhere, shoots him. In the midst of the ensuing panic, there are two explosions. Before and during these events, we are casually introduced to several people in and around the crowd who may have an interesting perspective on the unfolding chaotic situation. Some may have something to hide, some others may be able to help catch those responsible. It’s up to Secret Service Agent, Thomas Barnes (Quaid), to work out which.

Vantage Point - Movie Screenshot

The events leading up to and immediately after the gunshot and explosions are then replayed through the eyes of each of these people. First is TV news producer, Rex (Weaver), who is in her production room watching various cameras filming the events, trying to make sure she has all angles covered. Then, events rewind and we see them through Barnes himself as well as his Secret Service colleague, Kent Taylor (Fox) as they are rocked by the explosions and bedlam breaks loose. Next we see events unfold through Spanish cop, Enrique (Noriega), American tourist, Howard (Whitaker), and several others including the perpetrators themselves, before the timeline finally continues and Agent Barnes races to uncover the terrorists deeper plot and untangle the mess before anyone else gets hurt whilst those involved race to prevent him!

Vantage Point - Movie Screenshot

It’s a concept that’s been done before, but perhaps not in such a high profile film. Whether it works well or not is debatable. Both I and apparently a test audience soon grew tired of the film rewinding to the start despite the fresh perspective offered by each character. However, the story is intriguing enough after to hold your attention and the initial frustrations soon die down as you enjoy the mounting tension as more and more information is revealed. The relatively inexperienced Travis directs the numerous action scenes well, including some fantastic chase scenes of both the foot and vehicular variety, and there is some nice camera work, particularly the multiple views of some parts of the rewinding sequence.

Vantage Point - Movie Screenshot

The cast assembled here is by and large a highly talented one but it is also pretty large. Some seasoned actors therefore don’t get the screentime their talent deserves, notably Signourney Weaver, but of the ensemble, Quaid probably gets the most. He remains as watchable as ever as Thomas Barnes, the nervous Secret Service agent on his first Presidential assignment since taking a bullet protecting the President six months earlier. Forest Whitaker too, is enjoyable to watch, but the role doesn’t really ask too much of him. I guess the same could be said of many other cast members, but as action-thrillers go, you could do a lot worse than this. Some people will probably hate the same few minutes being replayed over and over, instead impatiently wanting the story to continue, but when it does, you view the proceeding with fresh insight over all those concerned. It doesn’t set new standards for any of the sub-genres it covers, and it could’ve possibly been a bit longer, but as a standard terrorism/assassination/kidnap/chase thriller, it’s and interesting and exciting 90 minutes.

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ObslcA3FhwU

RKS Score: 7/10

D.E.B.S.

D.E.B.S. Movie Screenshot

D.E.B.S. (2004)
Director: Angela Robinson Starring: Sara Foster, Jordana Brewster, Meagan Good, Devon Aoki, Jill Richie, Jimmi Simpson, Geoff Stults, Holland Taylor, Michael Clarke Duncan

Certificate: 12  Running Time: 88 Minutes

Tagline: “They’re crime-fighting hotties with killer bodies”

Just when you thought you’d seen just about every kind of spy film possible, it’s time to think again… Prepare yourself for… the D.E.B.S! Apparently, there is a secret test hidden within the SAT exams that measures an applicant’s ability to fight, cheat, lie, and steal. Students who score high enough are plucked from high school to join a paramilitary unit called the D.E.B.S – Discipline, Energy, Beauty, Strength – whose job it is to protect us all from the world’s ‘Super Villians’! One particular team of D.E.B.S is nearing graduation from the Academy just as the criminal mastermind, Lucy Diamond re-emerges from the Super Villian wilderness.

D.E.B.S. Movie Screenshot


Led by Mr. Phipps (Clarke Duncan), the team consists of bad tempered leader, Max (Good), second-in-command and ‘Perfect Score’, Amy (Foster), French exchange student, Dominique (Aoki), and naive rookie, Janet (Ritchie), and they have been charged with bringing down Lucy Diamond (Brewster) and her criminal empire. Back in town after a self-imposed exile, Lucy’s first order of business is to go on a blind date arranged by her right-hand-man, Scud (Simpson), and it is here that the D.E.B.S take their chance to capture her. The only problem? Nobody has ever faced Lucy and lived to tell about it! Oh nooo!


D.E.B.S. Movie Screenshot

During this inevitably botched attempt to capture Lucy, it transpires that she’s gay (her blind date is with another woman)! After evading the D.E.B.S attempts to take her down, she makes her escape only to quite literally bump into Amy. They are initially wary of each other for obvious reasons, but after a brief stand-off they hit it off! Lucy makes a hasty exit before anyone else finds her, but not before deciding she wants to see the apparently straight Amy again. Amy, meanwhile, is immediately hailed a hero for being the first person to survive an encounter with Lucy! Will she remain loyal to her fellow D.E.B.S, or will she be tempted by Lucy?

D.E.B.S. Movie Screenshot


Yes okay, it sounds ridiculous, I know! Teenage spies working on a par with the CIA, Homeland Security, etc is somewhat improbable to start with, but when they’re all sexy girls complete with impractical, not to mention highly conspicuous uniforms consisting of miniskirts and a white blouse, it’s bordering on preposterous! Still, whoever said that every film has to be super-realistic? The acting on show here is actually of a pretty decent standard. Not a huge amount is asked of anyone in the film and they all perform their roles well enough. The two main characters, Amy and Lucy, are both very likeable and it certainly doesn’t hurt that they’re both lovely to look at either!

D.E.B.S. Movie Screenshot


Jordana Brewsters Lucy Diamond is probably the most memorable thing about this film. Whilst never making a convincing ‘Super Villian’, she remains appealing and every scene involving her is enjoyable, especially when she’s practising her squinty-eyed look. Sara Foster, meanwhile, is convincing as the conflicted, goody-two-shoes Amy, and the two make a nice, if somewhat unlikely pair. Of the remainder of the team, Aoki is, in my view, horrifically miscast as the French exchange student, Dominque, and she sports among the worst fake accents I’ve ever heard in a film. Luckily she doesn’t get a lot of screen time! On the other hand, Ritchie is highly amusing as the prissy rookie, Janet, and Good is equally entertaining with her bad-tempered shouting and scowling.

D.E.B.S. Movie Screenshot


The only other noteworthy character really is Scud. Like Lucy, he’s not remotely convincing as a bad-ass criminal, I expect that’s part of the joke, but he’s very funny in almost all of his scenes and I get the impression he improvised a lot of them. Particularly enjoyable is his and Lucy’s mimed performance of ‘A Little Respect’ by Erasure. In fact, while I think of it, the whole soundtrack is pretty decent, including the likes of Goldfrapp, Garbage, and The Cure among the lesser-known, but equally enjoyable artists. It’s just a shame it’s not easier to get hold of!

D.E.B.S. Movie Screenshot

It’s really hard to know what to make of this film! To be perfectly honest, I almost turned it off after the first 15 minutes. The brief ‘making of’ on the disc features an interview with director, Robinson, and some of her crew. I’m pretty sure they’re all lesbians and it seems like Robinson made the film (based on an earlier short of hers – Ritchie is the only returning actress) purely to satisfy fantasies of hers. The entire premise of the D.E.B.S is ridiculous and never convincing but, comedic spoofiness aside, it’s the love story that is the point of the film, and that aspect is handled pretty well.

D.E.B.S. Movie Screenshot


The film does improve after the somewhat inauspicious opening act though, and is worth persevering with despite the patchy-at-best script. In short, D.E.B.S is ridiculous, even cringe-inducing at times, but also intriguing enough to keep you watching. It has enough bright spots to make up for its obvious shortfalls (including many gaping plotholes) and, for me at least, is something of a guilty pleasure! Hell, it even has a homage to Citizen Kane. In a film like this, that’s a must see!

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XWSyv4z1_PA

RKS Score: 6/10

Into the Wild

Into the Wild - Movie Review

Into the Wild (2007)
Director: Sean Penn Starring: Emile Hirsch, Marcia Gay Harden, William Hurt, Jena Malone, Brian H. Dierker, Catherine Keener, Vince Vaughn, Kristen Stewart, Hal Holbrook, Jim Gallien

Certificate: 15 Running Time: 142 Minutes

Tagline: “Your Great Adventure on Alaska”

Hands up who’s ever felt like dropping everything and just disappearing off the face of the Earth to live a totally different life? I’m sure most of us have considered it more than once before realising the impracticality of such a venture. Into the Wild, a true story incidentally, is the tale of a young man who has no such second thoughts. After growing up in a turbulent family in West Virginia, Christopher McCandless (Hirsch) graduates
from college with near straight A’s and then…
disappears…

Into the Wild - Movie Review

Apparently having grown tired of the ‘lies’ of those around him and society in general, Christopher sets off on what he calls his ‘Great Alaskan Adventure’, without so much as a word to his friends or family. He donates the remainder of his substantial savings (intended by his parents to last through university) to charity, destroys all his credit cards and identification, moves out of his apartment, and sets off with no clear plan or objective other than an intention to at some point reach Alaska. He begins his journey in his tatty old Datsun but it isn’t long before he falls foul of a flash flood in Arizona. From here he burns the rest of his dwindling money reserves, and continues his journey on foot, undeterred.

Into the Wild - Movie Review

From here he hitchhikes from one place to the next, never staying in one place for long, but not before he gives himself a new name for his rebirth – Alexander Supertramp. During his travels he meets many memorable people with whom he becomes friends including Jan and Rainey (Keener and Dierker), a kind hippy couple, teenager Tracy (Stewart), and lonely retired leather worker Ron (Halbrook) in California, Wayne (Vaughn), a harvester from South Dakota, a loopy Dutch couple in Colorado and many others, and even travels as far as Mexico for a short while. But he is only ever passing through and eventually leaves them all to realise his ambition of reaching Alaska.

Into the Wild - Movie Review

To be completely honest, I didn’t really know who Emile Hirsch was prior to this movie’s release, but he really is amazing to watch in this fascinating biopic. It’s rare that someone can consistently hold the screen so well when they spend the entire duration of the film in the centre of it. But even in the silent, barren lands of Alaska, he is riveting, whether hunting through the wilderness for food or merely writing in his journal in the old abandoned bus he makes his home. Regardless of what you think of Christopher’s actions, and motivations fuelling them, you can’t help but be impressed with Emile’s charisma and dedication. Not all the people he meets in the film agree with his actions, but it’s a testament to him that he leaves them with at least some understanding of why he has to take them, and his ultimate realisation only makes his relationships all the more poignant.

Into the Wild - Movie Review

The supporting cast are all superb too. Despite their actions earlier in Christopher’s life, it’s hard not to feel sympathy for his parents (Hurt and Harden who do much with their limited screentime). Interspersed between the scenes of his travels, the film details their struggles as they search for him, increasingly desperately, with his sister (Malone), one of his few friends, providing a stirring voiceover. However, it’s the friends he makes on the road that you’ll warm to the most. You’ll probably find yourself willing him to stay with them, with Jan and Rainey, Wayne and Ron (Holbrook’s superb performance is a real heart-warmer) being particularly memorable. In fact, such is the splendour of the performances here, credit is seldom given to Sean Penn for his superb direction, with some truly jaw-dropping cinematography, and the film is accompanied by an outstanding soundtrack written especially for the film by Pearl Jam frontman, Eddie Vedder.

Like a lot of viewers, you may not sympathise with Christopher too much. He did after all grow up as a priveleged child. You may even consider him to be a selfish, spoilt brat with no regard for those who care about him, at least initially. On the other hand, you may find yourself envious, wishing you had the courage to undertake such a liberating venture to obtain ‘ultimate freedom’. Regardless of which way you lean, Into the Wild is an immersive film that you can just sit back and watch in wonder. It’s one of those films that will be on your mind for days, even weeks afterwards, and that’s something that many films strive for but very few achieve.

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1urIn_1Qe2E

RKS Score: 9/10

Broken Arrow

Broken Arrow Movie Screenshot

Broken Arrow (1996)
Director: John Woo Starring: John Travolta, Christian Slater, Samantha Mathis, Delroy Lindo, Bob Gunton, Howie Long

Certificate: 15 Running Time: 104 Minutes

Tagline: “Prepare to Go Ballistic”

It was in 1994 that a little film called Pulp Fiction reminded the world that John Travolta exists. After over a decade in the relative wilderness, thanks to QT, he was finally ‘cool’ again. At this point, of course, the fickle movie business decided he was once again ‘hot property’ and inevitably, there soon followed a glut of films starring him. Some, of course, were utter nonsense, apparently made purely to have something out there with his name attached. Some others were actually pretty good. Which was Broken Arrow?

Broken Arrow Movie Screenshot

The plot is straight out of the 80’s. Major Vic ‘Deak’ Deakins (Travolta) is a veteran pilot who’s been passed over for promotions once too often. Captain Riley Hale (Slater) is his upstart, younger protege. During a flight designed to test their Stealth Bombers effectiveness while carrying live nuclear warheads, the former, apparently tired of his boring life of flying multi-billion dollar aircraft, decides things would be more exciting if he stole the warheads! Well, he must’ve decided that some time in advance, actually, since he seems to have a whole elaborate plan already set and ready, assisted by various, equally bored mercenaries and paranoid financier, Pritchett (Gunton).

Broken Arrow Movie Screenshot

Evading execution and escaping during the intentional crashing of the bomber, Hale soon enlists the help of an initially hostile park ranger called Terry (Mathis), on patrol in the Utah park (desert) in which the bomber crashed. Together, they try their hardest to pursue Deak and his happy band of enthusiastic helpers, and thwart his twisted plan of holding the country to ransom. Of course, it’s not long before they discover this and subsequently direct their malevolent fervour towards our heroes. Back at the Air Force base, Colonel Wilkins (Lindo) and a worried group of military leaders and politicians try to do the same thing, though far less effectively as you might guess!

Broken Arrow Movie Screenshot

Despite being a legend in his native China, John Woo’s Hollywood output has been decidedly patchy. Whilst Broken Arrow is far from his worst effort over here, it’s clear that someone has just hired him for a project. Any project. With him in the bag, who better than the at-the-time-hot-again Travolta to star? Then, around these two, a film was crudely constructed. I can imagine it now… Studio Fatcats: “Hey, Woo is directing and Travolta starring, it’s bound to be awesome!”… Of course, it may not have been like this but it seems like it when watching it!

Broken Arrow Movie Screenshot

That’s not to say it’s a bad film, it’s just that if they’d put as much enthusiasm into the rest of the film as they apparently did in recruiting the two main men, it could’ve been awesome. Travolta’s performance is adequate, although he spends a lot of his time exaggerating every angry scowl and grimace he can, but plays the part of the maniacal bad guy as well as you might expect. Slater pretty much plays it straight throughout. He never really looks like he’s having much fun, but I suppose his character wouldn’t be either, what with all and sundry trying to off him! The far-from-unappealing Mathis is nice enough whilst never really doing a great deal. Other characters are merely functional rather than memorable, although Gunton’s constant whining is hilariously silenced by ‘Deak’ midway though the film.

Broken Arrow Movie Screenshot

I guess I’ve made the film seem terrible so far but it’s really not! It’s perfectly watchable in its own check-your-brain-at-the-door kind of way. It’s certainly reminiscent of the 80’s popcorn action flicks that were so common then, what with its strutting bad guy, big explosions, helicoptors, etc, and is reasonably entertaining stuff if you don’t go in expecting too much. Plus, any film featuring nuclear bombs is at least a little intriguing!

RKS Score: 6/10

All Star Superman

all-star-superman-dvd

I recently watched this movie and I have to say I enjoyed it; however, I am old school. I am a fan of the Batman animated series and all the series that followed and I liked that story. With that said, my main issue with All Star Superman was that it seemed rushed. First, let me admit I did not read all of the series, but I did read some and what I can tell you I felt that they rushed to many stories into the movie.

When the movie began, I felt it had a decent pace; Superman did have a creepy vibe when he and Lois went to his fortress, but I can understand that considering he was dying and wanted to profess his love. The first time I felt the movie seemed rushed was when Lois was seeing things, it just seemed so quick between her going crazy and Superman explaining everything away.

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I liked the fact that we got to see heroes that most cartoon watchers would not have seen in Samson and Atlas 2, but even that “love triangle” between them seemed forced and too fast. The worst offense of rushing a story came when the Kryptoians showed up. One moment they are remaking Metropolis and backhanding Superman and the next, they are dying and had to be sent to the Phantom Zone. I just believe if given more time a really good story could have been told about those two.

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Now don’t get me wrong, overall I liked the movie, the storyline was different as was the art and direction. All Star Superman also had some good music and great action and the interaction between Clark and Lex Luthor was great. The ending was also touching and it showed how much Lois loved Superman even if it also seemed a bit fast. In addition, we saw just how smart Lex is which is sometimes downplayed in the television series as well as the other movies.

Overall, if you are a fan of Superman and the DC universe then All Star Superman is worth a buy.

 

Behind Enemy Lines

Behind enemy lines - Movie Poster

Behind Enemy Lines (2001)
Director: John Moore Starring: Owen Wilson, Gene Hackman, Gabriel Macht, Vladimir Mashkov, Olek Krupa, Joaquim de Almeida

Certificate: 15 Running Time: 101 Minutes

Tagline: “In War There Are Some Lines You Should Never Cross”

Better known these days for his comedic tomfoolery with other ‘frat pack’ alumni, Owen Wilson is less well known as an action star, and yet here he is in the leading role of one such film, and with nary a humorous moment to be found! Pretty good he is too in this Bosnian War-set thriller, based unofficially on the experiences of a real-life American pilot. Lt. Chris Burnett (Wilson) is stationed on an aircraft carrier in the Adriatic Sea and has grown bored and frustrated with his career in the US Air Force and is preparing to leave. However, Burnett, along with Stackhouse, his buddy and the pilot to Wilson’s navigator, are given a reconnaissance mission on the eve of their ship’s departure. Briefly straying off-mission, they discover some far from friendly activity in a supposed demilitarised zone, including evidence of war atrocities. Obviously keen to keep their secret, the Bosnian-Serb army shoots them down.

Behind enemy lines - Movie Screenshot 1

Looks like someone could use a white jacket!

After an exhilarating, edge-of-the-seat, trying-to-avoid-surface-to-air missiles sequence, their F/A-18E/F Super Hornet (apparently) fighter is finally downed over occupied territory. Now stranded… well, behind enemy lines, it’s up to Burnett to stay alive and evade capture by the enemy long enough to make it to safety. Back on the carrier, a frustrated Admiral Reigart (Hackman) tries to find a way around the red tape preventing him from sending a rescue party after Burnett, who is being relentlessly persued by pretty much the whole Bosnian-Serb army, including a very dedicated and skilled sniper (Mashkov). Having to remain undetected in both rural and urban areas, Burnett, for the first time in his career, has to remember and make use of his military training, as well as hope for a bit of luck!

Behind enemy lines - Movie Screenshot 2

Burnett tries to outrun trip-wire explosives…

Granted, there’s not a hugely intricate, interweaving plot, but this is a solid and exciting action film, albeit fairly typical Hollywood fare. Gene Hackman is in familiar territory but does well with his limited screen time. Owen Wilson, however, proves surprisingly proficient in his portrayal of the initially panic-stricken, deer-in-the-headlights, Burnett, clearly out of his comfort zone. Also very noteworthy is Vladimir Mashkov as chilling Serb sniper, Sasha, hell-bent on taking his target out. Despite being filmed in Slovakia and featuring no Serb actors in the cast (none wanted anything to do with the production, apparently), John Moore does a good job of recreating the war-torn landscape of civil-war era Bosnia, complete with armies, Bosniak Guerillas, towns in ruins, and roadside wreckage, each separated by stretches of desolate countryside. Also keenly felt is the sense of isolation felt by Burnett as he sporadically manages to make contact with Reigart inbetween dodging Bosnian-Serb bullets and grenades, and hiding under corpses.

Overall, Behind Enemy Lines isn’t perfect – it’s very much a Hollywood film, complete with a suitably over-the-top, unrealistic ending (although, surprisingly, no love interest!), but it’s more about the journey than the destination, right? And it’s a solidly entertaining journey throughout.