Rating: The Good – 76 Genre: Crime, Thriller Duration: 101 mins Director: Danny Boyle Stars: James McAvoy, Rosario Dawson, Vincent Cassel
A suave and tricksy thriller detailing a heist mob’s unconventional attempt to hypnotically uncover the location of a stolen painting amidst emotional turbulence and full-blown crises of identity. Trance offers the best and worst of mercurial director Danny Boyle at about a 30/70 split. Stunningly shot and soundtracked to Rick Smith’s pulsing melodies, it sets out to explicitly defy narrative convention and treat us to a razzle-dazzle experience over old fashioned storytelling. Though we’ve seen attempts like this before, what Trance lacks in originality it makes up for in burning focus and unflinching persistence. And with James McAvoy and the always splendid Rosario Dawson mischievously wrapped up in the deep dark psychological hijinks, the experiment is only enriched. But trippy entertainment only goes so far and with the plot hoisted so brazenly atop of Boyle’s sacrificial alter, not even actors of their class and magnetism can keep us invested in the manner we’d expect and desire from a clever heist thriller.
Rating: The Good – 67.4 Genre: Science Fiction Duration: 107 mins Director: Danny Boyle Stars: Cillian Murphy, Rose Byrne, Chris Evans
A team of astronaut scientists on board a unique spaceship are charged with carrying a gigantic nuclear bomb to the heart of the fading sun so as to replenish its energy. But as they make their final approach, one disaster after another places a severe test on the crew and their fragile partnerships. Danny Boyle’s high concept sci-fi was much touted on release and it certainly sets its stall out as an intriguing genre piece. In the early exchanges, intense personalities are introduced and complex relationships are alluded to and all the while the film looks a treat. However, problems surface relatively soon into the second act as Boyle rushes into the action in favour of a slow build up. If you freeze frame any part of this non-stop rollercoaster, you’re likely to see rich set design and highly complementary visual effects. However, when watched in real time, the frenetic editing ensures too many of these lovely shots remain on screen for no longer than a fraction of a second. Within this sensory carnage, any semblance of narrative is flushed out as one disaster after another besets the mission. And with Boyle’s signature penchant for quick cuts and sharp angles, the mayhem is amplified to fatiguing levels. Thus, as is so often the case with Boyle’s work (sometimes for better, sometimes for worse – this time for worse), experience takes precedence over story. Luckily, most of the noteworthy cast are given just enough room to make their personalities count. Cillian Murphy and Chris Evans add edge and soulfulness respectively while Michelle Yeoh reminds us why Hollywood should’ve made more of her post Crouching Tiger bankability. In the end though, this film is a little too much about its director. There are plenty of well crafted set pieces and John Murphy’s score exhilarates like few other sci-fi scores can, but one can’t help feeling like Boyle and company left something behind here.
Rating: The Good – 76.5 Genre: Drama, Adventure Duration: 94 mins Director: Danny Boyle Stars: James Franco, Amber Tamblyn, Kate Mara
Danny Boyle’s adaptation of Aron Ralston’s true life account of how he survived being trapped in an isolated canyon for five days (and ultimately cut his own arm off with a dull blade) shouldn’t really have worked as a movie. After all 90 minutes of a man trapped in a small crevice is not something you’d think would be complemented by Boyle’s expansive and busy film-making style. However, by cleverly inverting that style from outwards to inwards he bases most of 127 Hours on Ralston’s own self-reflection as he took account of his life in those hours, chastised his own hubris, and pushed himself to keep going. James Franco is outstanding as the cocky young adventurer and carries the film with genuine ease. Despite the myths that popped up regarding the arm cutting scene, only a couple of minutes are dedicated to it but they’re a rough couple of minutes not because of the gore (which is minimal) but because Boyle’s astounding use of sound and image right at the moment when Ralston is severing the nerve, hurls you straight into the man’s consciousness so that you’re right there feeling that pain with him. It’s a truly remarkable piece of film-making.