Neil Fox on film (28.09.11)

The Debt

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy may be garnering all the plaudits and praise but this espionage thriller more than holds its own against it and signals a purple patch for intelligent, complex entertainment.

Helen Mirren and Tom Wilkinson are retired Mossad agents who have to face the past when they learn of the death of one of their old comrades.

The action returns to the 1960s as we see the trio in action, soon learning that the past may not have been silenced as we have been led to believe.

Great direction and a constant Guess Who? narrative, coupled with, finally, a great performance from Sam Worthington and another turn from girl of the moment Jessica Chastain make this time well spent with spies and double cross.

Abduction

Taylor Lautner seems to be preparing for life after Twilight and on this evidence wants Jason Statham’s action crown.

In this very pedestrian thriller from the once great John ‘Boyz n the Hood’ Singleton he plays a young man who learns that his life is not what it seems, that he was in fact abducted and raised to be a ruthless assassin/agent, or so we see as he embarks on a journey for truth after his surrogate parents/captors are assassinated.

It’s so tiresomely predictable and conservatively staged that only the diehard Team Jacobites will find any fun or relevance here.

The rest of us are more than happy to wait for the next Bond movie.

What’s Your Number?

Another week, another vacuous rom-com that wastes its female lead and decides to throw in all manner of clichés and hope no one notices.

Anna Faris is given short shrift again as a young woman with a long list of past conquests who wonders if she has overlooked the one she is supposed to be with.

It’s tired and obvious and is not a patch on last week’s Crazy Stupid Love’, which shows how this material can be handled.

Shark Night 3D

The trash-mongers are the ones really making the most of the 3D silly season. Following on from the fun that was Piranha comes the ludicrous Shark Night.

Like Abduction and What’s Your Number? there isn’t an original idea on display here but there’s a glee in the fact that carries it through.

It’s genuinely silly and full of screams and gore. The brashness is refreshing even as the film drowns in a sea of established formulae.

Red State

Remember the good Kevin Smith? Clerks? Well, he hasn’t been around for a while. He is back, though, with a zombie movie centred around a cult that is funny, violent and well staged and the best thing he has done in years.

He claims he is retiring, and if true – though I can’t see it – at least he went out on something resembling a high.