Men of Action

I could murder a vodka martiniThe week’s cinematic landscape is dominated by a pair of awfully brawny gentlemen. Why don’t we dive right in?

“JCVD”: Is Jean-Claude Van Damme really reinventing himself as a thoughtful has-been, or is he just taking credit for being smart enough to sign onto Mabrouk El Mechri’s zippy meta-thriller before Steven Seagal could get hold of it? (And why can’t it be both?) Barrett and Jason are both pretty high on the movie, as am I. Check it out before it’s tarnished by Van Damme’s next direct-to-video crapfest.

“Quantum of Solace”: The Bond franchise backslides a little in this new outing, which finds director Marc Forster looking for a compromise between the elegance of “Casino Royale” and the more visceral expectations of the “Bourne” audience, and misjudging the ratio a little. The first hour is terrific, thanks to Daniel Craig’s stellar interpretation of 007 as a blunt instrument rather than a tuxedoed suavester and Mathieu Almaric’s obvious delight at playing his scheming nemesis, Dominic Greene; the last act falls victim to the formulaic bloat that’s plagued most Bond adventures since “Thunderball”. But it’ll still be a smash.

Also opening this week: A documentary about counterculture poster art called “Died Young, Stayed Pretty”, for which neither Barrett nor Adam had much patience. Me, I’d recommend you catch “Slumdog Millionaire” as soon as possible … but then, I said that yesterday.

3 thoughts on “Men of Action”

  1. I know it’s often better to see movies at the theatre as they were intended, and critics usually hate giving advice about whether to wait for DVD, but…money-wise I only make it out to about 6-8 movies a year on the big screen. I’ve loved all the Danny Boyle movies I’ve seen so far (haven’t seen Millions), and I regretted not seeing Sunshine on the big screen last year when I finally saw it – it became one of my favorites of the year and I made several people sit down and watch it immediately. My question – will Slumdog Millionaire suffer if I wait for DVD? Does it visually need the big screen?

  2. @ Chris: I agree with Mark. Boyle’s always been a muscular, big-screen-experience kind of director, and “Slumdog Millionaire” is a much more exhilarating experience when seen with a crowd. And you can stay in with “Millions” the next night.

    @ Mark: I guess you could view that two ways — from one perspective, Van Damme can’t be blamed for scurrying back to action movies, since it’s a guaranteed paycheque and at this point he can do them in his sleep … but now all of his movies will have an undercurrent of melancholy to them, as though we’re watching a man trapped in a career he never wanted.

    I think Jean-Claude Van Damme should _only_ play Jean-Claude Van Damme from now on. Hell, he could be the bad guy in the next Bond film, having learned everything he needs to know about world-destruction plots from all the movies he’s made. (“I have studied your finest adversaries, monsieur Bond. Do not expect me to make their mistakes.”) And he could actually take on Daniel Craig in close quarters.

    I’d line up for that.

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