In the movies The Kingsmen are a secret spy organization whose members have manners that would make Henry Higgins proud and gadgets that James Bond would envy. They’ve been the subject of two movies, “Kingsman: The Secret Service” and “Kingsman: The Golden Circle,” and now, three movies into director Matthew Vaughn’s spy franchise comes an origin story that takes us back to the early part of the 20th century and the confusing beginnings of these modern-day knights.
“The King’s Man,” now playing in theatres, begins with a tragedy that makes the wealthy and powerful Duke of Oxford (Ralph Fiennes) reject the Colonialism and violence that is the bedrock of his family’s fortune. He questions why he was killing people who were trying to protect their own land. “With every man I killed,” he said, “I killed a piece of myself.”
Meanwhile, as World War I approaches, an assembly of the world’s most despicable tyrants and villains, working for an evil mastermind with plans for world domination, are hatching a plan that could lead to genocide.
With the lives of millions at stake, and his son Conrad (Harris Dickinson) off to war, the Duke realizes he can’t rely on politicians to do the right thing. In an effort to save the world, he abandons his pacifist ways. With the help of his most trusted colleagues, swordsman Shola (Djimon Hounsou) and sharp shooter Polly (Gemma Arterton), he goes into the fray and sews the seeds for the formation of The Kingsmen, an organization that uses violence to attain peace.
The first two Kingsmen movies were overstuffed, but had a certain lightness of touch. Unfortunately, “The King’s Man” lands with a thud. A mix of fact (well, almost true stuff) and fiction—real life characters like Rasputin, the mad Russian monk (Rhys Ifans) are woven into the fanciful story—the movie is all over the place. It’s a spy story, a tale of duty, a slapstick comedy, an action film, a fractured fairy tale of world events.
Some of the action scenes are quite fun and Ifans eats so much scenery it feels like he’ll never go hungry again, but the story takes far too long to get going.
“The King’s Man” feels as though it is splintering off in all directions, like it’s three movies spliced-and-diced into one, bloated, messy sequel-ready story.
Richard joins CP24 to have a look at the weekend’s new movies including “Tomb Raider,” the dark comedy “The Death of Stalin,” the old folks road trip “The Leisure Seeker,” the crime thriller “7 Days in Entebbe” and the Cecil Beaton documentary “Love, Cecil.”
Richard sits in with CTV NewsChannel anchor Marcia MacMillan to have a look at the weekend’s big releases, “Tomb Raider,” the dark comedy “The Death of Stalin,” “7 Days in Entebbe” and the old folks road trip “The Leisure Seeker.”
An instance of art imitating life turned into life imitating art for the 7 Days In Entebbe filmmakers. They were recreating the famous 1976 hijacking of an Air France flight from Tel Aviv at the Malta airport when filming was interrupted by a real-life skyjacking.
“We’ve had five hijackings land here,” Lija mayor Magda Magri Naudi told BBC World TV, “and ironically today they were actually filming Entebbe on the airport grounds and that had to be stopped.”
The real hijackers, armed with replica hand grenades and pistols, called themselves “pro-Gaddafi” and demanded asylum in Malta, before being subdued. All 118 hostages were released as the culprits were taken into custody.
That situation was wrapped up peacefully in hours but, as the title 7 Days In Entebbe suggests, the 1976 terror attack didn’t resolve itself so easily.
On July 27, 1976, an Air France flight from Tel Aviv to Paris via Athens was hijacked and forced to land in Entebbe, Uganda. On the ground the Jewish passengers were singled out and held hostage. The hijackers, two members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and two Germans affiliated with the left-wing extremist group Revolutionary Cells, demanded a ransom of $5 million and the release of prisoners from Israeli jails. If their conditions weren’t met by the deadline of Sunday, July 5 the terrorists would start executing hostages one by one. In response the Israeli government ordered a daring counter-terrorist hostage rescue operation.
The film 7 Days In Entebbe stars an international cast, including Daniel Brühl and Rosamund Pike as the German reactionaries, and, according to The Wrap’s Ben Croll, is “a somewhat dispassionate view on the whole affair as a geopolitical event that encompassed a number of overlapping parties.”
In other words, the movie values political speechifying over action sequences.
Speaking at a press conference at the Berlin Film Festival director José Padilha talked about his take on the narrative. “This story started with (producers) Ron Halpern and Tim Bevan and I think it was a great idea because they thought there was a narrative in this story that was missing. Most of the other movies are told from a military perspective and they show you a history of heroism, a gigantic military feat and they ignored the interaction between the hijackers and hostages and also the political aspects in Israel.”
Over the years the story has been told from many different angles. There is Operation Thunderbolt, which fictionalized the raid in a 1988 arcade game, and a 2009 play called To Pay the Price based in part on the letters of Israeli hero Yonatan Netanyahu.
On screen the story has been told in Operation Thunderbolt: Entebbe, a documentary featuring interviews with the former hostages and Capt. Michel Bacos, the pilot who refused to abandon his passengers, and the 1976 television film Victory at Entebbe, starring Anthony Hopkins and Elizabeth Taylor, which went to air just five months after the original incident.
The most authentic adaptation must be Operation Thunderbolt, known in Israel as Mivtsa Yonatan. Produced with the co-operation of the Israeli Air Force and government, the Oscar-nominated film is the most accurate in terms of uniforms, weapons, aircraft and vehicles. It is so realistic that several documentaries have used the film’s footage to dramatize the hijacking.
It’s hard to know how to classify “7 Days in Entebbe.” It begins with an interpretive dance number but isn’t a musical. It’s about a daring real-life hostage rescue but it doesn’t contain enough combat to qualify as an action film. It’s about political ideology and yet so many points of view are on display it’s difficult to know what the film is trying to say. It’s a real life drama so slackly paced the drama evaporates into thin air.
Call it what you will. I call it a bad movie.
An international cast, including Daniel Brühl and Rosamund Pike as the German reactionaries and Eddie Marsan as Israeli Minister of Defense Shimon Peres, tell the story of what would become the Entebbe rescue operation.
On July 27, 1976 an Air France flight from Tel Aviv to Paris via Athens was hijacked and forced to land in Entebbe, Uganda. On the ground the Jewish passengers were singled out and held hostage. The hijackers, two members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and two Germans affiliated with the left-wing extremist group Revolutionary Cells, demanded a ransom of $5 million and the release of prisoners from Israeli jails. If their conditions weren’t met by the deadline of Sunday, July 5 the terrorists would start executing hostages one by one. In response the Israeli government ordered a daring counter-terrorist hostage rescue operation.
It’s sometimes difficult to find a new spin on an old story. The raid on Entebbe has been told many times on the big screen, on TV, on the stage and even in videogames. There’s probably something left to say but “7 Days in Entebbe” doesn’t say it. It talks and talks and talks an endless stream of words, many right out of “Revolutionaries for Dummies.” “I want to throw bombs into the consciousness of the masses,” intones terrorist Wilfried Böse (Daniel Brühl) when, realistically, we would have been better served if that bomb had been better thrown at the slack-jawed script. Every time the movie finds some momentum the story’s forward movement is stymied by speechifying.
Add to that dubious artistic choices and you’re left with a Mulligan Stew of political ideology with no strong point of view. In what maybe one of the silliest flourishes in a film this year, and the director cuts back-and-forth between a dance performance and the military operation. “I fight so you could dance,” says a commando to his ballerina girlfriend. It’s meant to illustrate the art of war brought to life I suppose but I’m sure Chuck Norris—who starred in “Delta Force,” one of the better movies inspired by Entebbe—would approve.
“7 Days in Entebbe” takes a significant world event and reduces it to melodramatic pap and speechifying. And the dance. Don’t forget the dance.
A new feature from from ctvnews.ca! The Crouse Review is a quick, hot take on the weekend’s biggest movies! This week Richard looks at “Ghost in the Shell,” “The Boss Basby” and “The Zookeeper’s Wife.”
Richard and CP24 anchor George Lagogianes have a look at the weekend’s new movies, the reimagined sci fi classic “Ghost in the Shell,” Alec Baldwin as a bossy tot in “The Boss Baby” and Jessica Chastain in “The Zookeeper’s Wife.”
Richard sits in with CTV NewsChannel anchor Marcia MacMillan to have a look at the big weekend movies, the reimagined sci fi classic “Ghost in the Shell,” Alec Baldwin as a bossy tot in “The Boss Baby” and Jessica Chastain in “The Zookeeper’s Wife.”
Based on the true story of Jan and Antonina Zabinski, Warsaw Zookeepers played by Johan Heldenbergh and Jessica Chastain, “The Zookeeper’s Wife” is the tale of a couple who followed their conscience, rescuing more than 300 Jews during World War II.
The action begins in 1939, months before the German invasion of Poland. The zoo is a sanctuary, run by Jan and Antonina, who treat the animals almost like family. “Good morning sweetheart,” Antonina says, greeting a tiger before giving CPR to a baby elephant later in the day. Then Nazi bombs fall, scattering the animals, effectively shutting down the zoo. When Nazi zoologist Lutz Heck (Daniel Brühl) offers to move the zoo’s surviving animals to Germany for safe-keeping and selective breeding in the hope of bringing back from extinction one of Europe’s most imposing creatures, the aurochs, the Zabinskis make a counter offer. They propose running the facility as a pig farm, using garbage from the Warsaw Ghetto as feed. Their selling point? It will provide food for German soldiers. Their motive? To create a secret safe haven for Warsaw Ghetto Jews, a “human zoo,” as Antonina wistfully calls it.
“The Zookeeper’s Wife” is a simply but effectively told hero’s journey. To her credit director Niki “Whale Rider” Caro has made a handsome movie about a harrowing time. It looks and feels like a big budget period piece, befitting the gravity of the story, but despite some memorable scenes the film feels like it left much of the drama unplumbed. It’s an important story but we don’t spend enough time with the rescued people to truly get a sense of their lives and the movie feels incomplete without as a result.
Chastain holds the centre of the story, providing a steely, compelling—although distractingly accented—character. She shines in her scenes opposite Brühl, a series of cat-and-mouse meetings where she feigns friendship, bonding over a shared love of animals, with the Nazi to keep her hidden dependants safe.
Despite narrative flaws “The Zookeeper’s Wife” contains unforgettable images. The shots of children being comforted by their teacher as they are loaded onto Nazi trains are as memorable as they are heart wrenching. It also contains many instances of animal cruelty. I’m sure no animals were actually harmed during the making of this movie but it doesn’t make the killing of the zoo animals any easier to watch.