Posts Tagged ‘Jonathan Rhys Meyers’

Christian Bale likes to keep you guessing. Metro. December 4, 2013

las_muchas_caras__y_cuerpos__de_christian_bale_604747144_530x398Christian Bale likes to keep you guessing.

The intense actor, who became a superstar playing Batman, makes chancy career choices on purpose.

“I like to think that as long as you continue choosing diverse roles, you can avoid becoming predictable,” he says.

He could make a life (and a fortune) playing square-jawed superheroes in action movies, but instead chooses to shake things up. Since his breakthrough performance in 1987’s Empire of the Sun he has been a chameleon, losing sixty pounds to play the skeletal lead in The Machinist and gaining a beer gut and a comb over for an upcoming role in American Hustle.

This weekend in Out of the Furnace he changes it up once again. He stars as a steel mill worker pushed to extremes when his Iraq war veteran brother (Casey Affleck) gets mixed up with the wrong people and disappears.

The vengeance angle sounds Batmanesque but Out of the Furnace is set far away from Gotham in the economically-depressed Rust Belt but there isn’t a cowl or a cape in sight and Bale has once again physically transformed himself.

Here’s a look at how Bale physically changes it up for his movie roles.

Creating the “Olympian physique” of serial killer Patrick Bateman in American Psycho took some discipline. “I’m English,” he said, “and in England, we don’t have many gyms around. We’d rather go to a pub instead.” A trainer and a protein diet took off the pounds.

As boxer and former drug addict Dicky Ecklund in The Fighter he dropped thirty pounds and used make-up and prosthetics to age himself. How did he lose the weight? “Usually I always say, ‘Oh, I do a lot of coke whenever I lose weight.’ I’m not sure if it’s so funny for this movie, to say that.” In reality he trained with the real-life Ecklund and boxed the pounds off.

In Velvet Goldmine he plays a London journalist looking into the life and faked death of glam rock singer Brian Slade (Jonathan Rhys Meyers). Once again he had to physically transform, but not in the traditional way.

When his mom saw that he was working out and running at 6 am she said, “Christian, what are you doing? You’re doing a film about sex drugs and rock and roll. Why don’t you do it the way they did it? They weren’t out running. They drank a helluva lot and lived unhealthily.”

“I took that to heart,” he says, “and it works.”


from-paris-with-love-5109f7f7219b1Last year French cinematographer-turned-director Pierre Morel brought us “Taken” a violent little Euro-centric thriller about a father who would do anything—and I mean anything—to retrieve his daughter from some very bad men. It was a down-and-dirty little flick, classed up somewhat by the presence of Liam Neeson in the lead role, and it became an unexpected lightening-in-a-bottle hit. Morel is back behind the camera with a new actioner called “From Paris With Love.” Unfortunately lightening has not struck twice.

Like “Taken” the story is simple and leaves the action to be the real selling point. Jonathan Rhys Meyers is James Reece an aide to the US Ambassador in Paris who moonlights on the side for the FBI. He is given the biggest assignment of his secret agent career when he is partnered with Charlie Wax (John Travolta), the typical unorthodox but effective undercover movie spy. Together they go on a rampage across the streets and embassies of Paris to put a stop to a terrorist attack. Carnage ensues.

“Taken” worked not just because the action sequences were out of control, but because audiences had some empathy for Liam Neeson’s character as he was kicking butt across Europe. It was a personal mission; he was trying to get his daughter back. Here, however, Meyers and Travolta are a shadowy part of the war on terror and seem to enjoy the bloodshed a little too much. This time it’s not personal, it’s psychotic and even the inclusion of a couple of “Royale with Cheese” “Pulp Fiction” call backs won’t make us identify with these two.

“From Paris with Love” has some cool action scenes—a killing spree in a stairwell is tense and exciting—but the paper thin story, cardboard characters and silly red herrings suck much of the fun from the movie.

John Travolta is bordering on Nicolas Cage territory here. He seems to be trying his hand at Cage’s extreme acting style, working some over-the-top theatrics into his performance, but overall he’s simply not that convincing as a devil-may-care secret agent. He can do menacing. We saw it in “Pulp Fiction”, “Blowout” and more recently in “The Taking of Pelham 1, 2, 3” but here he seems to be trying a too hard.

But at least he’s trying, which is more than can be said for Jonathan Rhys Meyers who hands in one of the more wooden performances seen on film so far this year. My advice to him: Beware of woodpeckers.
This is only Morel’s third film as a director and already he has established a set of trademarks, for better and for worse. On the plus side, he knows how to stage an action sequence and has clearly watched more than a few John Woo movies. He also has an eye for shooting in urban spaces, but compared to “Taken” with its beauty shots of Paris, “From Paris with Love” looks like it could have been made almost anywhere. With the exception of the odd Eiffel Tower shot, location wise it’s rather generic, which it shouldn’t be when you are shooting in one of the most beautiful and interesting cities in the world.

On the minus side he’s already becoming somewhat predictable. In his movies the dinner scene always seems to end poorly for the hostess.

Despite a huge body count and a screen littered with empty shell casings “From Paris with Love” isn’t as exciting or as interesting as “Taken.”


august rush stillWe’ve finally reached the tipping point where casting Robin Williams has officially become a liability. A case in point: August Rush is a perfectly acceptable modern fairy tale about an orphaned young boy (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’s Freddie Highmore) who feels that his love of music will reunite him with his parents one day. It is a sweet idea, and Highmore with his sad eyes and apparent vulnerability is perfectly cast. If you buy into the idea that this neo-Oliver Twist could truly believe this airy-fairy idea about the magical power of music, then August Rush will work for you. Work for you, that is, until Robin Williams comes along with his Bono-wannabe hat and all his usual bluster and completely throws the movie off the rails.

Keri Russell and Jonathan Rhys Meyers play Lyla and Louis, musicians from two different worlds. He’s a poor rock singer, she a rich cello prodigy. They meet on a rooftop overlooking NYC’s Washington Square Park, spend the night together and conceive a child. Her overbearing father conspires to keep them apart, and following a tragic car accident tells Lyla that the child was killed, while, in fact, secretly putting it up for adoption.

Eleven years later Lyla and Louis have moved on. She’s now a music teacher, unaware that her son is still alive; disillusioned he’s given up music completely. The child, convinced he can locate his parents, escapes the orphanage where he has grown up and makes off for the big city. He comes under the spell of a “musical Fagin” named Wizard (Robin Williams) who imparts new agey wisdom like “music is the harmonic connection between all living beings” and teaches the boy how to play the music that may eventually reunite him with his parents.

You have to have a strong willingness to suspend your disbelief to buy into August Rush’s storyline, but if you can you’ll find lots here to like. Highmore is a charmer on screen, Russell and Meyers are the very definition of star-crossed and director Kirsten Sheridan gives the proceedings an agreeable fairy tale feel, but whenever Williams hits the screen it’s as though this fable’s Ogre has awoken to chew the scenery and destroy any of the good will the movie had already accrued. He’s so annoying, and in the later half of the movie, so unnecessary to the plot, that the term “over-the-top” scarcely does him justice.

August Rush is a well-meaning but clichéd film with a nice message and decent music, but is almost done in by its casting.