Tag Archives: Pierce Brosnan

Royal Scam

The King’s Daughter

by George Wolf

If The King’s Daughter seems like an uninspired title, keep it mind it does roll off the tongue a bit better than “Just Release It in January and Get It Off the Books Already!”

Because after nearly seven years in limbo, the film’s arrival has the distinct smell of rushed opportunism in a very quiet week of openers.

Vonda McIntyre’s source novel “The Moon and the Sun” beat out George R.R. Martin’s “A Games of Thrones” for the Nebula Award (best science fiction/fantasy novel) in 1997, and a film adaptation was set to begin two years later. But years of studio and cast changes pushed filming to 2014, only to have the planned 2015 release pulled at the last minute for vague reasons about more time for special effects work.

Well, whoever’s been working on these effects for the last several years should be arrested for stealing, right alongside those responsible for turning a thoughtful sci-fi allegory into a weak-sauced YA reimagining of The Princess Diaries.

Yes, that is the voice of Julie Andrews, narrating the picture book introduction to the story of young Marie-Josephe (Kaya Scodelario), a talented musician who’s living in a convent unaware that she’s really the daughter of King Louis XIV of France (Pierce Brosnan).

Then, under the guise of needing a new royal composer, Dad summons Marie to where there’s a makeover waiting, along with the promise of an arranged marriage to a man Marie doesn’t love (Ben Lloyd-Hughes), adventure with a swashbuckling sailor she does (Benjamin Walker), and a heartless plan to cut the life force from a captured mermaid (Bingbing Fan under some terrible CGI) so it can make the king immortal.

Director Sean McNamara (Soul Surfer) and veteran screenwriter Ronald Bass (Rain Man, The Joy Luck Club, Waiting to Exhale) paint it all with the broadest of brushes and an impatient, illogical pace that begs you not to think much at all.

Scodelario is a charismatic presence, both Brosnan and William Hurt (as the Court’s High Priest) seem to enjoy elevating the material, and some of the interior set pieces are lovely and lavishly presented. So what gives with the outdoors? What action there is boasts all the authenticity of a live-action theme park show and some not-nearly-ready-for-prime-time underwater effects.

But hey, Scodelario and Walker met while filming, and now they’re married with two kids! So take it away legendary Julie Andrews:

“And they live happily ever after….”

Pregnant Pause

False Positive

by Hope Madden

You’ll find real horror in False Positive. There’s the plot, sure—a woman desperate to conceive, in the hands of a nefarious physician with a God complex—and all the body horror and helplessness that go along with it. But that’s not the scary part.

Indeed, co-writer/director John Lee levels a more comedic tone to the by-the-numbers premise. Where he and co-writer/star Ilana Glazer mine unnerving dread is in their observational honesty.

Glazer is Lucy, and she and her husband Adrian (Justin Theroux, slyly wonderful) have been trying to get pregnant for two years. As much as she wants to do this naturally, she finally caves in to Adrian’s suggestion that they visit his med school mentor, Dr. Hindle (Pierce Brosnan – perfection).

Lee’s intention is not to make you wonder whether something sinister is afoot. The Stepford-esque nursing staff and eerily meticulous clinic proclaim it. The sheer number and variety of phallic instruments to be inserted, and the volume of lubricant so very lovingly applied, plays like SNL by way of Cronenberg.

If you’ve ever seen Broad City, Glazer’s groundbreaking Comedy Central sit-com, you may not recognize the performer’s dramatic skills, but you will recognize the writer’s keen eye for everyday absurdities.

Here’s where False Positive’s horror kicks in. It’s the authenticity, the banal realism of Lucy’s daily condescending, dismissive, patronizing, smothering, gaslighting humiliations that really eat at you. The low-key accuracy of it all—from the male colleagues who swear you are glowing as they leave their lunch orders next to your laptop, to your nurse’s reassuring caresses and terms of endearment, to your husband’s reminder whenever you’re feeling down that we’ve been through a lot with this pregnancy.

Tensions escalate as the storyline itself dictates, although the film is far more surefooted in its observational horror than it is in its plot. Lucy’s pre-pregnancy character is ill-defined, which makes her descent less satisfying. The climax is played for comedic value and the final act’s weirdness, though welcome, holds no real meaning.

Worse of all is the under-developed character of a midwife played imposingly by Zainab Jah. Lee clearly hoped to use this character as a statement on the genre itself but the whole affair feels wrong-headed.

Those are some serious misgivings, I grant you, but there really is something subversive, honest, and horrifying worth witnessing in this movie.

Stranger in Town

The Foreigner

by George Wolf

Martial arts legend Jackie Chan jumps back into the action genre feet first with The Foreigner, a film with more depth than you might expect.

Chan plays Quan, a restaurant owner in London who loses his daughter when a rogue faction of the IRA bombs a bank. Quan believes Irish Defense Minister Liam Hennessy (Pierce Brosnan), who rose to power after a violent IRA past, knows the identity of the bombers. After his polite requests for information are rebuffed, Quan resurrects his own bloody roots to get those names by force and have his revenge.

Director Martin Campbell (Casino Royale) knows you’re ready for the latest take on Taken, but mixes some satisfying fight choreography with long stretches of political intrigue that might disappoint those looking for nothing but bad guy beatdowns. There’s nothing overly original here, but Chan provides just enough layers to be mysteriously sympathetic, Brosnan brings the seasoned gravitas, and The Foreigner keeps its head above some gaps in logic to remain interesting.





Late August Man

The November Man

by Hope Madden

Somehow, it’s easy to lower your expectations in August, and a film that would seem stale and dated in, say, May or even November, can feel almost like a relief. The November Man is one of those movies.

Its lack of digital wizardry – relying, as it does, on old fashioned practical effects – feels like a welcome respite from the summer’s FX bombast. And though this agent-thinks-he’s-out-but-gets-pulled-back-in tale brings very little new to the table, at least it isn’t If I Stay. Or Sin City 2. Or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Oh, August.

At first blush, the film appears to be a James Bond rip off, right down to the lead and his lady (Pierce Brosnan and Quantum of Solace Bond Girl Olga Kurylenko). But this film casts off any interest in smooth, sly espionage, gadgetry, one-liners and one night stands in favor of something a little more brutish.

Brosnan’s ex CIA op retires not long after an incident with a trainee he deems unfit for service. But when a colleague needs a favor and pulls him back in for one last gig…well, when does that ever go as planned? Next thing you know, he’s trying to figure out what went wrong with his op while he plays cat and mouse with that old trainee, now a trained CIA sniper with bigger ambitions.

Brosnan’s grizzled charm buoys the effort, even when he’s pursing his lips like a school marm at his former trainee (a mostly serviceable Luke Bracey). The film falters most in its dual purposes: mentor/mentee cat and mouse versus international conspiracy leading to a puppet Russian president with a pension for under aged war refugees.

The truth is, neither side is especially compelling on its own, and when the two blur together, things feel just silly.

Still, The November Man isn’t bad. It’s no Skyfall – the new high water mark for spy movies – but it’s no Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, either. Remember that one? From January of this year? Yeah, January is another one of those bad movie months. At least in August the bad movies don’t come with snow.