Tag Archives: Cillian Murphy

Walk Softly

A Quiet Place Part II

by George Wolf and Hope Madden

For a few well-placed and important seconds, there it is: the much-discussed nail from A Quiet Place. And like most everything else in writer/director John Krasinki’s thrilling sequel, the nail’s return carries weight, speaking visually and deepening our investment in these characters’ terrifying journey.

But before we see that the Abbotts have learned to avoid that nail, we go back to how it all began on “Day 1.” And Krasinski knows it doesn’t make sense now to tease us with monsters we’ve already seen up close, so beginning right from that pulse-pounding prologue, he keeps ’em coming.

So while there’s no shortage of exhilarating, squirm-inducing and downright scary moments, Krasinski instills it all with an impressive level of humanity.

As Evelyn (Emily Blunt), Regan (Millicent Simmonds), and Marcus (Noah Jupe) continue traveling on foot with baby Abbott in tow, they enter the fortified compound of old friend Emmett (Cillian Murphy), who is not nearly as welcoming as they hoped.

But when Regan heads out alone to find the permanent safe haven she’s sure exists, Evelyn convinces Emmett to follow, and bring her daughter back to the family.

From that point, the film splits into two parallel narratives that Krasinki layers with some nifty intercutting and clever, crowd-pleasing plotting. As the threats keep coming for Regan and Emmett in the wild, and for Evelyn, Marcus and baby back at the compound, the tensions build simultaneously via storytelling that’s primarily visual and wonderfully economical.

The editing gives the enterprise a welcome retro feel and Krasinski’s flair for visual storytelling has only strengthened since the last film.

Jupe is tenderly terrific, and it’s no surprise that Blunt and Murphy—two exquisite actors who never let you down—carry their own, but the one who carries the most weight in Part II is Simmonds. Regan is the film’s believable and capable hero this time, in a narrative choice that underscores the entire film’s optimism for our future and Krasinski’s reminder that there are always “people worth saving.”

AQPII is lean, moves at a quick clip, thrills with impressive outdoor carnage sequences and yet commands that same level of tension in its nerve- janglingly quiet moments. Krasinski had a tough task trying to follow his 2018 blockbuster, one made even tougher now having to prove the sequel was worth saving for a theaters-only release.

On both counts, we’d say he nailed it.

We Shall Fight on the Beaches

Dunkirk

by Hope Madden

Christopher Nolan, one of the biggest imaginations in film, takes on a WWII epic – the truly amazing evacuation of 400,000 British troops from certain death on the beaches of Dunkirk, France.

Nolan = epic, yes. His career is marked by complicated ideas, phenomenal visual style and inventiveness, ever-increasing running times and head-trippery. So, if you’re prepared for a long, bombastic, serpentine, heady adventure, you are not prepared for Dunkirk.

Though the word epic still fits.

Nolan’s storytelling is simultaneously grand and intimate. To do the story justice, he approaches it from three different perspectives and creates, with a disjointed chronology, a lasting impression of the rescue that a more traditional structure might have missed.

The great Mark Rylance brings in the perspective of the courageous Brits who manned their pleasure boats and headed toward the beleaguered troops to ferry them to safety.

From the air, Tom Hardy and Jack Lowden offer the view (literally and figuratively) of the RAF, undermanned and outgunned, maneuvering to end as much of the carnage as possible while the evac takes place.

And on the ground amongst those desperate for removal is young Tommy (Fionn Whitehead), the actor with the most screen time and quite possibly the fewest lines. He’s the reminder that these soldiers were heroes – flawed, brave, terrified and young.

The cast is appropriately huge, including a surprisingly restrained Kenneth Branagh as well as James D’Arcy, Cillian Murphy, Barry Keoghan, Tom Glynn-Carney and, of course, One Direction’s Harry Styles (who commits himself respectably).

Solid performances abound without a single genuine flaw to point out, but the real star of Dunkirk is Nolan.

Talk about restraint. He dials back the score – Hans Zimmer suggesting the constant tick of a time bomb or the incessant roar of a distant plane engine – to emphasize the urgency and peril, and generating almost unbearable tension.

Visually, Nolan’s scope is breathtaking, oscillating between the gorgeous but terrifying open air of the RAF and the claustrophobic confines of a boat’s hull, with the threat of capsize and a watery grave constant.

What the filmmaker has done with Dunkirk – and has not done with any of his previous efforts, however brilliant or flawed – is create a spare, quick and simple film that is equally epic.

Verdict-4-5-Stars





Free for All

Free Fire

by Hope Madden

The first notes I took, about ten minutes into the screening for Ben Wheatley’s latest Free Fire, read like so: This is a ballsy first act.

Indeed. Co-written with his wife and frequent collaborator Amy Jump, the Seventies crime thriller wastes little time on backstory, context or exposition. None, really.

You gather that two Irishmen (Cillian Murphy, Michael Smiley) wait in a warehouse parking lot with their liaison (Brie Larson) to a gun runner. They’re always waiting for their own henchmen, as well as the gunrunner’s liaison (Armie Hammer).

I love Ben Wheatley. In 2011, he and Jump brought forth the utterly brilliant horror show Kill List, and I have waited breathlessly for every collaboration since. Free Fire included.

And while each of Wheatley’s films is decidedly different from each other, Free Fire is very different from most films altogether.

Imagine if the entire 93 minutes of Reservoir Dogs took place in that last act shootout among the pack.

The noteworthy fact about Free Fire is not that it has a ballsy first act, but that the entire film is a third act. With scarcely a word of context, we’re rolled into an empty warehouse just in time for a shootout to begin, and there we will stay until the film concludes.

It’s pretty brilliant, really. Character development happens under fire. Hammer’s “Ord” (yep, that’s his name) brings a lot of laid back comedy. Brie Larson is characteristically spot on, as is the always welcome Cillian Murphy. The two infuse characters and the proceedings with some authentic humanity.

Also working the comedy angle is Sharlto Copley – always reliable for some scenery-chewing, here working those mandibles as a South African imbecile/arms dealer once misdiagnosed as a child genius.

Jump and Wheatley rob the gang meeting of any of the slick romance or brutal gravitas usually bestowed on such events by cinema. There is a barely controlled, very funny, incredibly bloody chaos afoot here, and it is a wild and entertaining sight to behold.

Verdict-3-5-Stars