Love among the lava

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FILM - TARA BRADY TARA BRADY DON­ALD CLARKE

POM­PEII

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

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