REVIEW: Star cast unable to salvage below average ‘355’

If you like McGuffin hunts, then “The 355” might be the perfect movie for you.

Jessica Chastain stars as Mace in “The 355,” a CIA agent tracking the location of a device that can practically hack any computer system in the world, from transportation programs to weapon launches. After the death of her field partner, Mace doubles down on her efforts to recover the device.

Those efforts bring her in contact with other agents from several intelligence organizations. The agents include Graciela (Penelope Cruz) from Columbia, Lin (Fan Bingbing) from China, Marie (Diane Kruger) from Germany and Khadijah from England (Lupita Nyong’o). While they are at odds to begin, the agents eventually decide to work together.

Continue reading “REVIEW: Star cast unable to salvage below average ‘355’”

Ranking the Craig’s Bond Films from Worst to Best

Daniel Craig’s stint as James Bond has come to a close with the film “No Time to Die.” With his era now in the rearview, it gives an opportunity to take a look at Craig’s five Bond films and see where they rank.

Overall, Craig’s run as Bond was a pretty damn good one, even if there were some films that fell short in quality. Here’s how I place the Craig era Bond flicks, from worst to best.

Continue reading “Ranking the Craig’s Bond Films from Worst to Best”

REVIEW: Deviation from spy genre breaks ‘Black Widow’

The concept of family was brought up so many times, I thought I was in the wrong room watching “F9.”

“Black Widow” takes place between “Captain America 3” and “Avengers 3,” when Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) was on the run from the American government because of the Sokovia Accords conflict. Romanoff manages to go into hiding, but it’s not long before her past life catches up with her.

It turns out Yelena (Florence Pugh) who posed as Natasha’s sister in an undercover family, needs Black Widow’s help. The organization that created the Black Widow program, known as the Red Room, has developed a dangerous mind control system and Yelena is hoping to put an end to it. Knowing they need some additional help, the duo recruit other members of their undercover family, the father Alexei (David Harbour) and mother Melina (Rachel Wesz).

Continue reading “REVIEW: Deviation from spy genre breaks ‘Black Widow’”

REVIEW: ‘The Courier’ is an interesting, but not game changing spy thriller

The spy game is always a dangerous one to to play. It’s Benedict Cumberbatch’s turn to learn that lesson in this new historical drama.

Cumberbatch plays Greville Wynne in “The Courier,” a film that takes place during one of the most tense periods of the Cold War. Wynne is British salesman who often travels for work. Along with visiting neighboring countries, Wynne also travels to some Eastern Bloc nations.

Because of his ability to do business in the Soviet area, Wynne is recruited by the CIA and MI6 to go to Russia and meet with an informant. He’s told by the agencies that he is only to visit the informant, Oleg Penkovsky (Merab Ninidze), and return documents to MI6, appearing as just a regular salesman conducting business However, with the Cuban Missile situation nearing, surveillance of what Wynne is doing begins to increase.

Continue reading “REVIEW: ‘The Courier’ is an interesting, but not game changing spy thriller”

REVIEW: ‘A Call to Spy’ is sadly underwhelming

This film features an amazing true story about brave individuals who volunteered to do daring work to hold back the German war machine in some of the darkest days for Europe in World War II.

One just wishes the movie was less dull.

The picture introduces British intelligence officer Vera Atkins (Stana Katic), who recruits candidates to help the French resistance communicate with each other and plan sabotage efforts. To do so, Atkins recruits Virginia Hall (Sarah Megan Thomas) and Noor Inayat Khan (Radhika Apte).

Atkins has the two young women go to two sections of France, with Khan focusing on radio communications and Hall planning sabotage efforts. Doing so isn’t easy, though, with Germany’s occupation forces everywhere.

Continue reading “REVIEW: ‘A Call to Spy’ is sadly underwhelming”

REVIEW: Excessive techno-babble makes ‘Tenet’ tiresome

Having nearly three fourths of the dialogue in your movie be scientific terms and concepts doesn’t make your movie smart.

“Tenet” follows a character simply known as The Protagonist (John David Washington). A spy who appears to work for the American intelligence apparatus, Washington’s character is assigned a mission where he has to investigate weapons that defy time.

For example, the spy is shown bullets that are inverted, which means they move backwards in time. On his mission, the Protagonist is assisted by a helpful contact named Neil (Robert Pattinson). As the mission continues, the Protagonist discovers the main person associated with the weapons is Andrei Sator (Kenneth Branagh). To get close to the arms dealer, the agent begins speaking with Sator’s wife Kat (Elizabeth Debicki).

Continue reading “REVIEW: Excessive techno-babble makes ‘Tenet’ tiresome”

REVIEW: ‘Anna’ doesn’t reinvent spy genre wheel, but still entertains

There’s been a few movies over the last several years with women super spies, such as “Salt,” “Haywire,” “Atomic Blonde” and “Red Sparrow.” The latest flick in the sub-genre, “Anna,” doesn’t push the story boundaries too far from those, but overall, it may be the best one, or at least the most fun.

The picture, directed by Luc Besson, stars Sasha Luss in the titular role. Anna is a young woman who had some experience in Russian military training and as a result, is eventually recruited into the KGB.

As an agent, Anna becomes a fierce assassin, able to get even some of the most dangerous jobs done. Her latest work is especially, difficult, though, as it includes other adversarial international agencies.

Continue reading “REVIEW: ‘Anna’ doesn’t reinvent spy genre wheel, but still entertains”

REVIEW: ‘Red Sparrow’ Is A Dreary, Unmemorable Cinema Experience

With a name like “Red Sparrow,” you’d think this film wouldn’t be so colorless.

The picture stars Academy Award winner Jennifer Lawrence as Dominika Egorova, a Russian woman who works as a ballet dancer. Her career is cut short, though, because of a devastating injury and as a result, it puts her future and her ability to care for her ailing mother in jeopardy.

As a way out, Dominika is offered an opportunity to become a spy by her uncle (Matthias Schoenaerts) who works in Russian intelligence. Dominika agrees and after a short time is sent on a mission to target an American agent named Nate (Joel Edgerton).

Continue reading “REVIEW: ‘Red Sparrow’ Is A Dreary, Unmemorable Cinema Experience”

REVIEW: ‘Kingsman’ Sequel Isn’t Golden, But It’s Still Pretty Good

“Kingsman: The Secret Service,” one of the more fun and fresh action flicks in the past few years, got a sequel this weekend. However, while there’s a lot to like in this part 2, dubbed “The Golden Circle,” it doesn’t live up to the first picture

In this entry, helmed by returning director Matthew Vaughn, the lead character Eggsy (Taron Egerton) is now a full fledged Kingsman and is hard at work in his role with the secret spy organization. Trouble begins to mount, though, when a new enemy emerges in the form of a drug lord named Poppy (Julianne Moore), who manages to find and destroy their headquarters.

As a result, Eggsy, together with the Kingsman tech expert Merlin (Mark Strong), have to travel to the United States to meet with their agency’s American counterpart, Statesman. Together, the spies start a joint effort to take down Poppy before she can complete a plan that would result in the deaths of millions.

Continue reading “REVIEW: ‘Kingsman’ Sequel Isn’t Golden, But It’s Still Pretty Good”

REVIEW: Visually Impressive ‘Atomic Blonde’ Ruined By Convoluted Story

Beneath all of the style, colors and visual flair that “Atomic Blonde” offers to audiences, this late cold war spy thriller is unfortunately convoluted and dull.

The film follows special agent Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron), who’s sent by the British government to Berlin at the last moments of the cold war. Her mission is to investigate the murder of another operative and recover a list of agency information that may have fallen into the wrong hands.

To do so, Broughton has to work together with a less than professional British agent named David (James McAvoy) who’s been working in Berlin for the agency for years.

Continue reading “REVIEW: Visually Impressive ‘Atomic Blonde’ Ruined By Convoluted Story”