Hidden deep within the relentless hostility is a thesis on star power and the incompatibility of our 80s relics with modern, team orientated action fictions. With this in mind Sabotage's key moment comes when Schwarzenegger's Breacher discovers his family have been kidnapped by a cartel. This information comes to light out on an airport runway with a private jet to hand. Mooks on standby, ready to be blazed through.
Schwarzenegger's team resists, they swarm him, restraining him. An 80s action narrative is bubbling up, Commando come again, but this false, self-proclaimed family won't allow it to happen. In doing so, they fail Breacher. They should have smoked those Federales on principle, piled into the jet then crashed themselves into the nearest drug compound.
That never happened and Breacher hates them for it. That's all I could think about watching Sabotage, Schwarzenegger had been denied an instinctual, suicidal impulse. His team should've wanted to die gloriously in their commander's service but they didn't. For all their bluster about brotherhood they weren't truly committed to him, or his psychotic ideals, so he stopped loving them. They ceased to be allies or even people in his eyes. Their short-comings transformed them into grist for Schwarzenegger the walking Gulag, fuel to be consumed and excreted on the way to a petty, self-destructive revenge.
4. The Raid 2
What are we getting out of superhero films? The colourful application of overwhelming force? What backs up the anger? What emotions drive these heroes? Do they even suffer? Captain America: The Winter Soldier hits harder than the usual dross because Cap is trying to coax a friend out of a lethal, amnesic funk. It's lip service though. Neither body is broken. Cap's life isn't on the line. Nothing is lost.
In The Raid 2 Rama gives everything he has. He turns his back on his wife and newborn for a bullshitted abstract. He compromises his morality, his identity even, to stay hidden. In a finale fight with a slash happy equal his body is pummelled, gouged, and rended. Rama takes an incredible amount of punishment and still keeps coming. That's the kind of superheroism I can key into. Obstinate, illogical, and utterly devoid of any sense of self-preservation.
You don't hear a great deal about The Troubles over here. Despite lasting the best part of three decades you're more likely to read about a 74 day conflict with Argentina over the invasion of a distant archipelago. I suppose it's like anything. People are only directed to care about outbreaks and resolutions, the difficult, messy centre is to be glossed over with rhetoric and forgotten.
Go in with zero knowledge, as I more or less did, and '71 is almost like something out of Action or 2000 AD, a terrifying occupation war being fought on the same kind of densely terraced streets you see all over my city. Turns out everywhere that came up during the Industrial Revolution looks the same. All the people sound similar too. It happened 300 miles away and you know fuck all about it. It makes you feel ashamed.
2. The Wind Rises
"I've become sceptical of the unwritten rule that just because a boy and a girl appear in the same feature, a romance must ensue. Rather, I want to portray a slightly different relationship, one where the two mutually inspire each other to live - if I'm able to, then perhaps I'll be closer to portraying a true expression of love."- Hayao Miyazaki
1. Inside Llewyn Davis
I've read a few reviews of Inside Llewyn Davis in which the author hasn't been sure if Davis is supposed to be talented or not. Their take from the Coen Brothers' latest is a pitch black comedy in which a marginally capable person rubs up against failure and refuses to change. For them his craft is indistinguishable from the manufactured graspers he rubs shoulders with. Presumably this failure to connect makes every performance a kind of cosmic punchline in which we are expected to shake our heads and grin at the delusional man with the guitar.
For me Llewyn is obviously, painfully gifted. When he performs diegetic sound dies off, Davis is the focus. During gigs the film's soundtrack is dominated by Oscar Isaac's vocal range. Edits and shots attempt nothing more complicated than a relaxed glance around the show. The meat is always the singing, from hushed, melodic whispers to the peeling, agitated roars of Davis' solo performance of Fare Thee Well. The arrangement is like a fight film or a musical, everything stops dead to drink Llewyn in. We see him in his moment, briefly triumphant and unyielding. Inside Llewyn Davis is a beautiful film about feeling like you're banging your head against a wall. No-one cares, no-one's interested. The only consolation to people in this situation is that at least they're pulping their brains for their own ends and not compromised, in service to someone else.
Under the Skin / Interstellar / The Guest / Map to the Stars / Blue Ruin / The Wolf of Wall Street / The Grand Budapest Hotel / Edge of Tomorrow / The Amazing Spider-Man 2 / Dawn of the Planet of the Apes / Transformers: Age of Extinction