Review The Pool (2019)

The Pool is frustrating (at least for the audiences) and claustrophobic thriller which tries its luck, ironically, on bad luck and ignorance, which probes no sympathy.

A couple is foolishly trapped in an abandoned 6-meter-deep pool… without water, without ladder, without any visible way out. From the premise, Ping Lumpraploeng’s The Pool seems to offer a frustrating, claustrophobic thriller assembling the force of bad luck and the consequence of ignorance. It immediately reminds me to Open Water series (especially the second installment) where sheer stupidity and malaise jeopardize people’s life. While it sounds nonsensical and exaggerating, some of its suspense might work even better if the movie does not give away most of the thrills so easily.

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Review John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum

Relentlessly leaping from various orgasmic, nerve-racking action set pieces to ever-expanding world building that probes for self-deducing, Parabellum is a wickedly lethal chapter.

You must never forget how this wicked gun-fu revivalist saga started. The titular character, John Wick (Keanu Reeves), is a retired assassin who wreaked havoc and slaughtered a horde of mobsters in retribution for the death of his beloved dog. Absurd as the premise might sound, the first movie instead spawns a new icon—celebrated for the gun-fu bravura, the devotion to over-kill and the underworld myth-building. The second chapter cements Wick’s reputation deeper and further digs the myth that becomes more obscure as the titular character reluctantly honoring a blood oath he made a few years back, only to be double-crossed. At the end of it, Wick is declared ‘excommunicado‘ and John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum begins the minute Wick run for his life.

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Review Guava Island (2019)

Donald Glovers’ artistry meets Hiro Murai’s sensitivity produce an uplifting, musical dramedy which feels violent and elevating at the same moment.

In Guava Island, Donald Glover fully embraces his musical moniker, Childish Gambino, to do Beyonce’s Lemonade-ing on his own style. Directed by Glover’s frequent collaborator, Hiro Murai, who has been working on his music videos (including the recent phenomenon, This Is America) and his self-conceived series Atlanta, this 55-minute feature is another invention in Glover’s never-ending artistry. Premiering at Coachella (followed by a limited Amazon Prime distribution), this short feature might be a career celebration or, else, a hint on what Glover would do in the future about his music, acting, and writing career.

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Review Greta (2019)

Huppert and Moretz deliver unnerving performance even when Greta ends up being a pulpy thriller with a bizarre third act.

It’s an utter pleasure to see Isabelle Huppert playing a role of a dangerous, demanding and dominant woman. The last time we’ve seen it, we see transformed into the elusive Michele in Elle,Paul Verhoeven’s haunting thriller. In Greta, she transforms into the titular character—the seemingly vulnerable, lonesome woman who conceals her clingy, controlling nature. The character is as haunting and as disturbing as in Elle; only this time, she is the feline in the cat-and-mouse game.

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Review Hotel Mumbai (2019)

Intense and unnerving for the whole duration, this based-on-true-event survival thriller is an anti-terrorism message that often becomes too over-sensationalist.

On 26 November 2008, Mumbai were under siege by foreign terrorists. Brutally coordinated terrorist strikes targeted several key locations in India’s financial capital, including the magnificent Taj Mahal Hotel Palace, in which most portions of the movie take places. In portraying the horror, Hotel Mumbai, Anthony Maras’ directorial debut, presents an anti-terrorism docu-drama which often goes too far in its stance.

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Review Foxtrot Six (2019)

With the breathtaking high-concept political action-thriller, dystopian sets and enticing ensemble of casts, Foxtrot Six could’ve been a total mayhem, but it ends up being a convoluted oversimplification.

Upon initiating a heroic act to support a corrupted nation, a military lieutenant turned congressman (Oka Antara, The Raid 2) is double-crossed and left for dead by the nation he holds dear. When he learns that a government-enabled genocide plan is on the run, the congressman assembles a special-op to stop the mayhem and to settle the score. That’s simply the general outline of Foxtrot Six—a rambunctious political action-thriller that, along with 3: Alif Lam Mim (2015) and Buffalo Boys (2018), defines a new sub-genre of Indonesian action blockbuster.

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Review Cold Pursuit (2019)

With surprisingly bleak comedy of errors and revenge-is-a-dish-better-served-cold tropes, Cold Pursuit (2019) paints the blizzard red in what could’ve been an episode of Fargo’s latest season.

Set in the cold, white ski city of Kehoe (fictionally located in Colorado), Cold Pursuit sees an angry, old Liam Neeson in another quest for revenge. It’s barely surprising if skeptical viewers might mistake it for another cousin of Taken (along with Non-Stop, Run All Night, and The Commuter) given the premise. Yet, give it a go and you’ll find out that Hans Petter Moland’s remake of his own Norwegian thriller is more like Fargo (Noah Hawley’s rendition over Coen Brothers’): stark, slick and ambiguous.

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