Love among the lava
Directed by Paul WS Anderson. Starring Kit Harington, Emily Browning, Carrie-Anne Moss, Kiefer Sutherland, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje 12A cert, general release, 104 min Do you remember that brief period when, in a desperate attempt to milk the televisual zeitgeist, every second film featured somebody or other from Mad Men? Well, it’s official. Now every second film features somebody from bleeding Game of Thrones.
Kit Harrington, good-hearted bastard Jon Snow in that series, doesn’t fall far from his tree in Paul W S Anderson’s characteristically unsubtle attempt to construct a story round the last days of Pompeii. Using his sad face to good effect, Kit plays a Celt named, of all things, Milo.
Transported to the Roman city as a slave, Milo falls in improbable love with Emily Browning’s anachronistically egalitarian noble totty. There is, in the coliseum, a battle re-enactment that appear to borrow promiscuously from Ridley Scott’s Gladiator. There are romantic horse rides. There is more middle-ranking digital animation than any human could ever fear to encounter.
Some of it is entertaining on purpose: Harrington has already proved himself convincing with a
Pompeii sword and an angry stare. Some of it is very, very entertaining by accident: top Roman Kiefer Sutherland sounds as if he’s attempting to impersonate Prince Philip while chewing a live frog.
Still, it’s hard to escape the suspicion that everybody is desperately killing time in expectation of the one big special effect that will turn them all into ageless dust. Erupt already, Vesuvius.
Directed by Julian Gilbey. Starring Ed Speleers, Will Poulter, Alfie Allen, Emma Rigby, Thomas Kretschmann, Sebastian De Souza
16 cert, general release, 102 min s Good gravy. Who let such a mangy, ninth-rate Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels- wannabe into multiplexes? This wretched new Brit caper sees a gang of likely lads and credit card fraudsters fall foul of a violent French criminal. Played by a German actor (Thomas Kretschmann). Using a Danish accent.
If the crooked quartet – the chief geezer (Ed Speleers), a kinder sidekick Fordy (Why, Will Poulter?), a gullible one (Sebastian De Souza) and a weaselly one (Alfie Allen) – can’t cough up a cool £2 million, their nationally challenged nemesis will set his proudly cut-price Polish thug on them. For the sake of consistency, the thug is played by a British actor of Turkish-Cypriot descent.
Cue hair-brained scheme involving a trip to Miami, yer wan off Hollyoaks (Emma Rigby), a fake moustache and phoney Arab prince. Feminist viewers need not worry their pretty little heads with the Bechdel Test: this film has both types of women: blondes and brunettes. Tottering on heels. Mostly in bikinis. Or sliding on poles. The kind not played by British actors of Turkish-Cypriot descent.
There’s a clumsy xenophobia about the casting and the characterisation. Americans are dumb. Foreigners – that strange lumpenproletariat who are neither from America nor London – are a fierce dodgy crowd altogether.
To be fair, the English characters are equally, if unintentionally appalling. What can co-writer and director Julian Gilbey (whose last film, A Lonely Place to Die, displayed nothing like this kind of idiocy) have been thinking?
To be fair, everyone works hard at keeping the boat afloat. Begg frantically juggles the visual styles – faux-verite in New York; much subTarantino slow motion for walking scenes – as the script spouts its unstoppable, clumsily constructed plot reversals.
We can, in a spirit of national solidarity, forgive most of this, but the hilariously pretentious dream sequence featuring an actual white horse really is too much to endure. Does Enya still need videos?
Carry on up the volcano: Kit Harrington and Emily Browning in