Films #120-122: Fast and Furious 4-6

film 120 121 122 fast and furious

Ratings: Fast and Furious, 3/5; Fast and Furious 5, 5/5; Fast and Furious 6, 4/5

Who’d have thought, fourteen years ago, that the fairly low-budget, kind-of exploitation movie Fast and Furious would have spawned six sequels, with another three to come? Now one of the hottest franchises around, part 7 promises to be ridiculous, and ridiculously entertaining – albeit tainted by the sudden death of Paul Walker in a real car accident. How they’ll deal with this remains to be seen, and how the series copes with the loss of one of its lead actors will largely depend on what direction the writers choose to take it. In advance of part 7’s release, however, I watched parts 4-6 – the revamped, rebooted portion of the franchise, following the less memorable Tokyo Drift. Back to back, it was a great afternoon/evening and, by the end of it, Vin Diesel had become one of my favourite bad actors. Bless his cotton socks, he tries. He really does – you can see the effort in every heartfelt scene, every moment of conflict. He so clearly takes his craft so seriously, but no matter what inner turmoil the character’s going through, none of it translates. He is the man with one face – blank, stoic, an empty void. Yet I can’t help but enjoy his performances, particularly when they’re watched one after the other. Somehow this franchise has survived despite the fact that I’m fairly certain neither of the leads (and most of the ensemble cast around them) can act.

And it’s not just about the cars. The F&F movies have succeeded for a few key reasons. One, the characters are simple and unremarkable, but they’re all likeable and, to the writers’ credit, each one has their own distinctive personality – however unimaginative and lacking nuance – and they all spark off each other well. I can’t even complain about the women, who hold their own while looking smokin’ hot. Two, the action sequences – of which there are many – are dynamic, explosive, absurd, and thoroughly engaging. These are such macho movies, but they’re not alienating, and that’s quite impressive really. Three, the cars themselves are a thing of beauty, if you’re that way inclined, and there’s something for every afficionado, from American muscle cars, to hot hatches, and even some proper supercars. Needless to say, everything’s really shiny. Four, Dwayne Johnson is now most definitely part of the F&F “family”. More on him in a bit. And finally – perhaps even more importantly than the inclusion of The Rock – these films are just plain fun. They do exactly what they say they’re going to: fast cars, fast driving, furious action, full-on entertainment. Having moved beyond the original street-car themes, these movies are now straight-up action, and all the better for it.

Although each film in the series does fit into the F&F universe, it’s the last three that have really moved directly on from each other – part 4 even finishes on a cliffhanger that opens part 5. Part 4 is good, but it’s nothing compared to 5, when all hell breaks loose in Rio and Dwayne Johnson turns up to out-Vin-Diesel Vin Diesel. Sporting a tough-guy goatee and some serious muscle, Johnson is the actor Vin Diesel can never hope to be – bigger, stronger, and infinitely more charismatic. Whereas Vin Diesel appears to think he’s starring in the next hard-hitting think-piece, Johnson knows full well where he is: slap-bang in the middle of a world where the laws of gravity no longer apply, where criminals are good guys but bad guys are super bad, where jail never really seems to be a possibility and money is rarely an issue. This is a world like the one that James Bond inhabits, where the bad guys’ cars instantly implode on impact, but the good guys can be taken out by trucks and walk away unscathed. It’s a world where, somehow, everyone seems to have a licence to kill, and no qualms about using it, where law enforcement is fully aware of this fact but does nothing, and there are absolutely no repercussions whatsoever following the majority of Rio being taken out by a giant runaway safe. Simply put, it’s my kind of world.

There is a risk, of course, that the films will become stupid in their efforts to outdo themselves, and it’s already happening. Part 6 is a step down after the glorious stupidity and hugely entertaining heist scheme of part 5 – there’s more action, less story, more ass-kicking, less attention to physics, less The Rock, more London. By the time the plane started taking off on the runway, signalling the beginning of one of the most ludicrous final scenes in recent cinema memory (experts claim the runway must be almost 30km in length, exceeding the world’s longest by almost 25km), I had completely lost track of why they were there in the first place. Something about an international terrorist and a bunch of top secret “components”? Not that it really matters much – who cares about plot when you’ve got a tank taking out innocent drivers on a Spanish motorway, a street race through Piccadilly Circus, and a bad-guy plane (you know what that means!)? Well, in truth, me – a little bit. Part 6 is fun, don’t get me wrong, but it doesn’t quite get the balance right. So it goes like this: Part 4 is them finding their feet (wheels?); Part 5 is them in their prime; Part 6 is trying just a bit too hard. As for Part 7? Well, the trailer looks pretty epic – and I expect nothing less.


Cinema Lottery #11


Muppets Most Wanted
Release date: 28 March 2014
Rating: 2.5/5

Muppets Most Wanted follows directly from 2011’s charming, funny kind-of reboot, The Muppets (2011) and, ironically, is all too aware of the potential pitfalls of sequels – its opening musical number, a hilarious and astute showtune, directly warns us that they’re never as good as the first. This film, sadly, embodies this notion. Replacing the genuine enthusiasm of Jason Segel and real-life cartoon Amy Adams with Ricky Gervais is the first problem; he’s a divisive personality and, for his critics (myself included), his sleazeball-loser routine is expected and unappealing. He gets far too much screen time as the Muppets’ tour manager-cum-jewel thief, taking them on a disappointing “world tour” that comprises of four European countries while his boss Constantine, the most dangerous frog in the world, masquarades as Kermit. Cue a host of famous cameos, from Lady Gaga to Danny Trejo, who are undoubtedly fun to spot but frequently seem rather pointless.

The musical numbers are the film’s highlight; none really match the opening sequence, but are nevertheless catchy and entertainingly silly. There is, however, a general lack of fun and charm: it’s pleasant enough, but rarely laugh-out-loud funny – Constantine’s attempts to emulate Kermit are the high points, and admittedly there is a rather perverse enjoyment in seeing Gervais sing an entire song about being Number Two – while the story is bland and the supposedly exotic locations underwhelming. Ty Burrell, as the Interpol agent tasked with catching the jewel thieves, is a welcome addition, but Muppets Most Wanted generally feels rushed; relying too heavily, perhaps, on its predecessor’s success rather than taking the time to make more of an effort. Plus, the addition of some Cabbage Patch-esque baby puppet criminals is just plain creepy.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Release date: 26 March 2014
Rating: 3/5

The latest addition to the Marvel film canon, Captain America‘s sequel, much like Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World, follows the individual Avengers as they deal with the world post-New York. It is, therefore, becoming increasingly important that viewers watch not one but all films, and it is also becoming increasingly obvious that each sequel is basically laying the groundwork for the eagerly anticipated Avengers sequel (due next year). This multi-layered world of intertwining stories is no doubt clever, but each is now suffering from a distinct case of deja vu – presuming that most people will go see this having seen most, if not all, of the films that have gone before, they are becoming fairly predictable. That’s not to say they’re not still entertaining films, but the element of surprise is definitely fading.

Captain America (Chris Evans) is by far the blandest of the Avengers; like Superman he’s a bit too clean cut, a bit too nice to be particularly interesting. Adding the Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Falcon (Anthony Mackie) into the mix is smart; Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson) also gets a more prominent role, while Robert Redford adds some gravitas as Alexander Pierce, a SHIELD bigwig. The enemy in this instalment is not just the Winter Soldier, a mysterious assassin with a metal arm, but a threat to freedom itself, in the form of some new “precautionary” weapons (think Minority Report on a mass scale). Part war film, part spy drama, it’s an entertaining though dry film, directly referencing the events in Captain America in particular. There are some good fight scenes, but the final set piece is far too reminiscent of parts of Avengers, and the CGI-heavy sequences of mass destruction no longer excite as they once did. As its own film, The Winter Soldier is decent, but even it seems to acknowledge that really its main appeal is to follow the characters on route to the events that will occur in the next Avengers; in this case, it is the destination that is more important than the journey.

About Last Night

Release date: 21 March 2014
Rating: 2/5

A remake of a 1980s film, which was itself an adaptation of a 1974 play (with the more lurid title Sexual Perversity in Chicago), About Last Night stars Kevin Hart (30 Rock), Regina Hall (Scary Movie), Michael Ealy and Joy Bryant as four twenty-somethings going through a series of relationship and friend dramas. The two women are friends, the two men are friends, and they pair off into two uninspiring couples: Hart and Hall are irritating; Ealy and Bryant are nice but boring. Over the course of a year they break up and get back together, enjoy relationship-free sex and cohabiting, get a puppy, and bicker a lot. Yet the film is distinctly lacking in sexual perversion – were it not for the swearing, the movie would barely scrape a 12A rating.

Writing this two days after viewing, it’s already a struggle to remember anything particularly interesting (or at all) about the film. Hart and Hall both embody a kind of comedy that will either appeal or irritate, while the other two are inoffensive but forgettable. With a far stronger emphasis on drama than comedy, it’s a strangely understated film that nonetheless cannot hide the fact that the relationships are all generally stupid; meaningless fights over minute disagreements, the characters failure to communicate is trite and dull, and plot points that fail to add any sympathies to the leads (Ealy quitting/getting fired from his job is the result of something that is completely his doing, despite the film presenting it as a “down with the corporate man” kind of triumph). Of course, the whole thing is neatly tied up with a nice Happily Ever After ribbon, in which love conquers all, leaving the characters to get on with their lives and us to get on with ours, happy that neither has had even the slightest affect on each other whatsoever.

Labor Day
Release date: 21 March 2014
Rating: 3/5

Based on a novel by Joyce Maynard, written for the screen and directed by Jason Reitman (Juno, Thank You For Smoking), the majority of Labor Day takes place over a long weekend, when escaped convict Frank (Josh Brolin) imposes himself on reclusive Adele (Kate Winslet) and her taciturn, solemn son Henry (Gattlin Griffith) only to become an important presence in their incomplete family unit. It’s an altogether more grown-up film for Reitman, with an emphasis on family values and melodrama – there’s none of the black comedy or quirky-hip language prevalent in Juno or Young Adult, for example. Yet despite the strong cast and appealingly nostalgic small-town America aesthetic, it is let down by its narrative, which requires a great deal of suspension of disbelief; never mind how easily Adele allows this criminal stranger into her home, it’s just far too easy for him to become the love interest/father figure. Within a day he’s fixed the car and the boiler and waxed their floors, the following day he’s teaching disabled children to play baseball – and despite living among other houses and there being countless posters asking for his whereabouts, no one seems to notice the strange new man cleaning gutters in a depressed hermit’s home.

It’s such a shame that the film is so let down by its source material (or by Reitman’s adaptation – having not read the book perhaps I shouldn’t so quickly pass the blame to Maynard). Winslet is, as usual, utterly believable, and there’s a gentle, affective chemistry between her and Brolin. While the focus is predominantly on the unconventional family unit, the supporting characters, including Clark Gregg’s ex-husband and James Van Der Beek’s concerned cop, are a welcome addition. The film is shot in welcoming, warm tones, with hints as to past traumas carefully combined in delicate montages. The emphasis on Americana is evident; an important scene involves the detailed creation of a peach pie – hardly subtle, but undoubtedly evocative. Yet it all strains disbelief somewhat; as much as it’s easy to believe the emotions on show, the narrative is too distracting in its overwrought melodrama. After a slow, meandering film that gradually reveals difficult home truths, Labor Day is further problematised by a rushed conclusion, which spans some fifteen years in a few minutes while adult Henry narrates, providing the family with a bittersweet ending but, with the melodrama conflicting with the understated performances and style, it ends up being, sadly, a bit unconvincing.

Film #79: Blood of Ghastly Horror (1972)

film 79 blood of ghastly horror

Rating: 1.5/5

“You’ve turned loose a homicidal maniac with an artificial brain whose every action is completely unpredictable!”

If there is a film in our collection that has more titles, I can’t think of it. One of the most incoherent of cult director Al Adamson’s films, the superbly named Blood of Ghastly Horror (following on from the director’s other “Blood” films – Blood of Dracula’s Castle, Five Bloody Grave, Brain of Blood, Horror of the Blood Monsters) was initially released in 1964 as Echo of Terror, a serious crime drama. Unable to sell the film, Adamson changed the title to Psycho A Go-Go in 1965, capitalising on the “go-go” craze of the time (similar to Herschell Gordon Lewis’s decision to retitle Terror at Half Day as Monster A-go Go). Despite adding some musical numbers, Psycho A Go-Go‘s popularity quickly declined, along with the go-go fad. In 1967 John Carradine was enlisted for some new horror scenes; in 1971 even more new scenes were shot, attempting to bring a coherence to the random assortment of genres, plots, and dates. The film was, in this eight year period, also titled Two Tickets to Terror, The Man with the Synthetic Brain and, my personal favourite, Fiend with the Electronic Brain. Part crime drama, part zombie movie, part mad scientist film, part revenge epic, it’s utter gibberish with a distinctive Adamson flair for shoddy framing and lurid colours – I wrote thirteen pages of notes, almost all of which are plot, and can still barely establish a timeline.

The DVD version I watched, released in association with Troma (The Toxic Avenger, A Nymphoid Barbarian in a Dinosaur Hell) comes with a special introduction from Adamson’s long time associate, the film’s producer Sam Sherman. Sherman doesn’t try to conceal Blood of Ghastly Horror‘s hotchpotch nature, emphatically stating that they were only ever trying to make a profitable movie for a niche drive-in audience, which they generally succeeded in doing. He is happy to admit the film’s incoherence – speaking as only a producer might, David Konow’s excellent book Schlock-O-Rama: The Films of Al Adamson reports him saying “We ruined the original film that made sense and made a film that didn’t make sense! But you ought to be aware of one thing: the idea was to market a movie, play it and make some money.” And the reason for the film’s final, best known title? “It had blood, it was ghastly and it was horrible.”

Bear with me now, while I try to explain the plot as briefly as possible. The film opens with a zombie killing a bunch of people in an alleyway, then introduces Lieutenant Cross and his partner, who receive a severed head in a box with a message referring to a man called Corey. A poorly signposted flashback traces poor Joe Corey’s life of crime – a Vietnam vet turned diamond thief, whose fingerprints were found at the scene of a heist, despite him having died several years earlier.

Still with me? Okay – there’s a lot more. Another cop, Sgt Ward, locates Dr Vanard (Carradine), who signed Joe’s death certificate; later Bernard admits that he conducted experiments on Joe, saving his life but turning him psychotic in the process (we learn this through a flashback in a flashback). Meanwhile, Joe’s hunting for the diamonds, which have ended up in the hands of the Clark family. He kills some women, then turns up at Vanard’s lab, having inexplicably just remembered what was done to him. He kills Vanard, signalling the end of the first lengthy flashback.

Cross then gets a visit from Vanard’s daughter Susan (Adamson’s wife Regina Carroll), who says she was told to return by a disembodied voodoo zombie jungle voice, through telepathy. Coincidentally, Cross remembers that Joe’s father was researching voodoo telepathy in the Jamaican jungles! Yes, Elton Corey is planning his dastardly revenge for his son’s untimely death, and it involves Susan. At some point, everyone then ends up at Lake Tahoe, where Joe captures Mrs Clark and her daughter, who claim to know nothing about the diamonds. A lengthy woodland chase follows, with Joe pursuing Mrs Clark through the snow, resulting in a shock twist and Joe’s (second) death. The film finishes by returning from this flashback to “present day”, with Elton and his new zombie bride. All I was left wondering was, whose head was in the box at the very beginning?!

Blood of Ghastly Horror is easily one of the most narratively incoherent films I’ve seen; most of its plot is flashback, but they’re so long (as a result of the cut-and-paste nature of the movie) that it’s almost impossible to keep up – characters disappear then reappear ages later, time lines are jumbled and confused, and the attempts to combine all the elements result in an uncomfortably muddled narrative. Parts of the movie was evidently filmed without sound (the whole final chase, for example), and I’m sure astute viewers will recognise changing styles from the various filming schedules. While the musical numbers added for one of the film’s early incarnations is absent, the lab equipment features in other Adamson movies, becoming a sex machine in Horror of the Blood Monsters, and the action is poorly captured in “Chill-o-rama in Metrocolor,” whatever that is. However, Morton brings an impressively deranged quality to the role; a sinister sneer and manic expression reminiscent of a young Jack Nicholson, which works well. Carradine is underused and elderly but solid as always, and the (recycled) score – a jazzy cop-drama soundtrack – is simple but effective. That’s not to say it’s a good film – it isn’t. The action is sloppy, characters are repeatedly either shot in restrictive extreme close ups, or are inexplicably cut out of the frame. Adamson should be commended for having the audacity to attempt to sell this cop-heist-zombie-revenge-drama-horror-thriller, but inevitably it hasn’t worked. And seriously, whose head is in the box?!?

Film #54: Man on Wire (2008)

film 54 man on wire

Rating: 5/5

“If I die, what a beautiful death!”

In 2009, James Marsh’s superb film Man on Wire won Best Documentary at the Oscars. In any other year, I would have been happy, but I must admit this win was tinged with sadness for me, because it beat Encounters at the End of the World. Yet general consensus quietly agrees that the latter was included predominantly because Werner Herzog’s previous documentary, Grizzly Man, had failed to even secure a nomination in 2006, and this was the Academy’s way of putting right an egregious wrong. So, as biased as I am towards Herzog, whose films have (sadly) yet to be picked out of the bag, even I must concede that if he had to lose out (again) at the Oscars, at least he lost out to a worthy opponent – and, to be honest, I doubt that the director himself actually cares at all. Man on Wire is fantastic, make no mistake – an exhilarating memoir disguised as a heist film, it gathers you up and pulls you into Phillipe Petit’s obsessed world until, finally, you are rewarded with an unforgettable moment: it’s a moment of lunacy, undoubtedly, but it’s also beautiful, serene, magical.

Based on a book by Petit, Man on Wire recounts the Frenchman’s efforts to achieve his dream – to walk along a tight rope between the Twin Towers in New York. It was an obsession that haunted him from the moment he first discovered the skyscrapers were being built in the early 1960s. It wouldn’t be until 1974 that he would finally have the opportunity, carrying out the “artistic crime of the century” with the help of a band of people who had been caught up in his wake and dragged along for this delirious ride.

The film’s style brings to mind that of acclaimed documentary maker Errol Morris, combining the traditional talking heads – a perfunctory inclusion that generally lacks visual dynamism – with monochrome re-enactments. Yet Petit in particular is such an engaging character that even his interview segments are filled with excitement and vitality – he is spry and hyperactive, expressive with not just his face but his whole body. It’s easy to see how he persuaded the motley crew of friends, associates, and virtual strangers to help him on what could so easily have been a suicide mission. The re-enactments, in contrast, are muted in colour and slightly grainy, yet no less engaging: Marsh cleverly creates his heist caper here, as Petit recalls the almost slapstick manner by which they broke into the Twin Towers, with their vast quantities of rigging and equipment. Were it not for the reiteration of his story by his co-conspirators, it would be easy to dismiss his version of events as fanciful and highly exaggerated: having to hide under tarpaulin while the security guards smoked cigarettes, the near-misses and ridiculous situations they managed to get themselves into. The good humour and often hilarious descriptions mask, or at least undermine, the criminality of their actions, not to mention the hugely dangerous potential of his dream, so that Man on Wire remains eternally optimistic and invigorating.

Alongside these talking head interviews and re-enactment segments, Marsh’s film undoubtedly benefits from an impressive wealth of existing footage of Petit’s various exploits. From his jaunt across the Sydney Harbour bridge, to small, tender moments shared between friends, the combination of photos and film footage nostalgically capture the decade just as they capture the closeness of this group of friends. They are an inviting bunch; if there were fights and disagreements, they are hidden away – what matters, it is implied, was the fun. For this period of time, the group lived, breathed, slept and dreamed Petit’s dream; they vicariously lived his obsession, which he had infected each and every one of them with. And, in the end, it was his life at risk, but they all reaped the rewards of his actions, as they helped him achieve something that was insane, of course, but somehow life-changing for them all. Just listening to his former girlfriend as she recalls watching him from the streets below, and you get the sense that there was something utterly profound about his actions; this was an experience shared by friends and strangers alike, one that would never be forgotten. Yet there is a somewhat bittersweet element here, emphasised in the film’s final moments as the group discuss what happened after they had finally achieved Petit’s dream. After all those years of planning, the obsessive detailing and meticulous (or not) preparation, what is left afterwards? It’s a poignant end to a beautiful, and ultimately very human film.

I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing James Marsh twice over the years, and you can read both interviews here:
Citizen Nim
Subdued Suspense

Film #43: The Score (2001)

film 43 the score

Rating: 3/5

“When was it you started thinking you were better than me?”

Despite an excellent core cast, The Score never really manages to be anything other than a fairly run of the mill, standard heist movie. That’s not to say it’s not engaging – it’s well shot, well acted and, once the actual robbery gets under way, is effectively tense – but it’s all rather understated. It’s probably because of this that Frank Oz’s film has left little mark on what is often a big budget, high concept, flashy genre.

There’s very little originality in The Score‘s plot, yet its conventions are included without any sense of irony – this is a film filled with serious actors, and each treat the screenplay and their roles within it with an intensity that has now come to be expected of them. Two of the main four are also notoriously difficult to work with – Edward Norton, who plays the cocky young thief assigned to work with Robert De Niro’s more seasoned professional, was famously removed from the Bruce Banner role in the Marvel franchise after making unreasonable demands about the script of The Incredible Hulk. Similarly, Marlon Brando (in his last feature performance), made this film’s shoot a decidedly unpleasant place to work – he walked around naked because of the heat, played practical jokes on De Niro, called the director “Miss Piggy”, and even refused to smile for his final scene (it was added in digitally in post-production). It is perhaps no wonder that, despite the calibre of acting on set, none of the ensemble produce their best work.

De Niro is Nick, owner of a jazz club in Montreal and part-time thief. He’s careful and conscientious, avoids violence, and plans everything down to the finest detail. His boss, Max (Brando) asks him to do one last job (of course) and, naturally, it proves to be the most difficult – weighing the risks (the object in question, a sceptre, is locked in the vaults of the Custom House in Montreal) against the payload (Max offers him $4 million), Nick decides to flout all his previous rules (don’t rob in your back yard, don’t work with a stranger, etc) and commit his final crime. Yet it’s his partner who causes the most problems. Jack (Norton) has managed to infiltrate the Custom House by posing as a mentally handicapped night janitor, and while he’s undoubtedly gifted, he’s unreliable and egotistical. His recklessness is most problematic for Nick, who just wants to retire in peace and enjoy life with his air steward girlfriend Diane (Angela Bassett).

So far, so formulaic. The Score remains formulaic right to the end – there are no surprises as to the outcome or how the characters will reach it. That being said, an essential aspect of the heist movie genre is the heist itself, and the intrigue, complexity, and innovation of the criminals in getting their target and, in this respect, The Score is perfectly adequate; it is less focused on confusing the audience than on creating a tense and suspenseful final act. After all, Nick is always careful, he doesn’t leave anything up to chance, and even the addition of the more unruly Jack is not enough to really disrupt his plans. There are no unexpected explosions, no ridiculous twists (at least none that aren’t inevitable), no silly decisions that make everything spiral out of control. Like Nick, The Score is careful; the only problem with the screenplay is that it’s not quite as clever as it appears to think it is.

It is, however, entertaining enough. Instead of fast-paced action, it concentrates on the characters, allowing the actors to perform average roles with reasonable success. Brando dominates the few scenes he appears in, both in terms of stature and performance; even in old age, despite his apparent disregard for the film itself, there is something quite captivating about him, so much so that De Niro fades into the background when they share the screen. This is perhaps because, of the two actors, it is Brando who appears to be enjoying himself – De Niro lacks the twinkle in the eye that audiences have now become accustomed to due to his re-establishment as a comedy performer.

Norton is tasked with the biggest challenge and, like the others, is perfectly adequate as both the rebellious thief and his adopted persona, Brian the simpleton. Brian is well-realised, both in terms of Jack-as-Brian and Norton-as-Jack-as-Brian, but because we are aware it is a performance almost as soon as the character appears, he is never quite believable – Brian only exists within the Custom House, and Jack freely roams the streets of Montreal without ever considering that someone from within the building might recognise him. It’s this strange lack of nuance within the screenplay that causes the most problems for the film’s reception. However, it must be said that, although Norton’s performance hardly matches that of, for example, Leonardo Di Caprio’s in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?, the most poignant scenes in the film are those shared by Brian and his janitorial mentor Danny (Paul Soles).

The Score may not have created any waves when it was first released, and it will never match the excitement and pizazz of later heist movies (Gone in Sixty Seconds, Oceans Eleven, even the recently released Now You See Me) but it’s not trying to. Oz’s film emerges as a more mature movie, in comparison to the entertaining immaturity of many other examples. It’s a more subtle, serious film, slow-burning and tense – generic, but effective.