Richard joins CP24 anchor Nathan Downer to have a look at the weekend’s new movies including Melissa McCarthy’s literary drama “Can You Ever Forgive Me?,” the “Hunt for Red October” copy cat “Hunter Killer,” the highfalutin hostage story “Bel Canto,” the comedic cautionary tale “Room for Rent,” the family drama “What They Had” and the operatic documentary “Maria by Callas.”
Richard has a look at Melissa McCarthy’s dramatic turn in “Can You Ever Forgive Me?,” the family drama “What They Had” and Gerard Butler’s action-adventure “Hunter Killer” with CFRA Morning Rush host Bill Carroll.
If there was ever more proof need to put Pablo Picasso’s remark, “good artists borrow, great artists steal,” to bed it’s the new Gerard Butler film. “Hunter Killer” borrows and out right steals elements from any number of movies, “The Hunt for Red October” chief among them, but is neither good nor great.
“Hunter Killer” takes place on land, on sea and on the phone. Based on the 2012 novel “Firing Point” by Don Keith and George Wallace “Hunter Killer” sees Butler as an unconventional US submarine Commander Joe Glass. He’s on a mission to find and rescue a missing U.S. sub when he stumbles across a popular 1990s plot twist—a Russian coup that threatens to demolish world order.
Stealthily cruising through enemy waters he becomes part of a three-pronged mission to rescue the Russian president, being held hostage in Russia by rogue Defence Minister Dmitri Durov (Mikhail Gorevoy). At sea level are Navy Seals led by Bill Beaman (Toby Stephens), National Security Agency analyst Jayne Norquist (Linda Cardellini), Rear Admiral John Fisk (Common), and, back home in America, Admiral Charles Donnegan (Gary Oldman in post-Oscar pay cheque mode) who barks orders at minions and into phones. It’s American-Russian collusion that could change the course of history!
Throw in a craggy-faced Russian submarine captain, Sergei Andropov (the late Michael Nyqvist)—we’re not enemies, we’re brothers—and you have a run-of-the-mill World War III scenario that was better the first few times we saw it. “It’s not about your side or my side,” Glass says to Andropov, “it’s about the future.”
“Hunter Killer” is so cheesy it should come with a side of saltines. Much of the dialogue sounds cribbed from the “Tough Guy ‘R Us” manual circa 1986—“He’s gonna play the hand he was dealt!”—spoken by characters so wooden they could easily double as buoys in the above water scenes.
At almost two hours ”Hunter Killer” is a waterlogged thriller, a sopping wet excuse for Butler to grunt his way through another film that is beneath his talent.
Richard sits in on the CJAD Montreal morning show with host Andrew Carter to talk about Melissa McCarthy’s literary drama “Can You Ever Forgive Me?,” the “Hunt for Red October” wannabe “Hunter Killer,” the highfalutin hostage story “Bel Canto,” the comedic cautionary tale “Room for Rent” and the Alzheimer’s dramedy “What They Had.”
Any movie made with the cooperation of the US army and six real-life Navy SEALS is bound to have a certain moral slant to it. But “Act of Valor” completely throws nuance out the window in favour of good and evil stereotypes unseen since John Wayne waved the flag on the big screen.
Inspired by true events, the real life Navy SEALS of Bandito Platoon rescue a kidnapped CIA agent and uncover a terrorist plot to kill thousands of Americans in coordinated attacks.
The chasm between the good and bad guys is wide and deep, almost as gaping as the ideological stance of the main players. The heroes are good-looking warriors who hold “honour, justice, freedom and family” as sacred. One of the good characters, a kidnapped CIA agent, even appears to have stigmata at one point. The bad guys, on the other hand, are bug-eyed
This movie isn’t subtle. It’s an advertisement for the war on terror that could be mistaken for a 1940s vintage propaganda film, were it not for the colour film and inclusion of suicide bombers.
As propaganda films go, this is a pretty good one. It’s clear the Navy SEALS didn’t go to drama school. But aside from some stilted scenes of camaraderie and family life, they deliver where it counts on the battlefield. The action scenes work because of the ease of execution these men bring to the movie. These well-trained soldiers portray something that can’t be taught in drama class — the immediacy of battle. Those scenes crackle with excitement and tension and are worth the price admission.
The rest of the movie doesn’t have the same excitement and is too heavy-handed — these guys are so tough one actually survives a rocket blast to the chest. Even so, “Act of Valor” does have a visceral authenticity often missing from war films.