Saturday, November 14, 2015

Rapid Reviews: Legend and The 33

Brian Helgeland cemented his legacy as a writer the moment he won a screenwriting Oscar for his 1997 crime drama, L.A. Confidential, but that never deterred him from trying to become an accomplished director as well. In 2013 Helgeland broke through with the successful critical and financial sports biopic, 42, which paved the way for his latest cinematic effort, Legend.

Set in London during the 1960s, Tom Hardy stars in a dual role as twin brothers, Ronnie and Reggie Kray, who climb from amateur boxers to notorious gangsters who take control of the city. But when Americans try to work with the Kray's to turn London into the Las Vegas of the Europe, the mental instability of Ronnie puts the sibling's growing empire in jeopardy.

No one can argue against the diverse and well-ranged performances from leading man Tom Hardy. The talented actors work has always stood for itself and he clearly continues to shine as the only real reason worth watching Legend. In a bit of a surprise, Helgeland's muddled story is simply a patchwork of disorganized events and under-developed characters. Emily Browning co-stars as Frances, the wife of the more level-headed twin, Reggie. As the narrator of the story you expect so much more from Frances' character, but in the end she reveals herself as merely a shell of a deeper and more interesting personality. With a celebrated writer in the director's chair, it's baffling to see Helgeland deliver a structurally plagued story. And by film's end, Legend can only stand a showcase for Tom Hardy's fine work.

Stars: 2 stars out of 4.

Grade: C+

Arriving in theaters this weekend is Patricia Riggen's The 33, a real life drama based on the trapped Chilean miners who faced enormous odds while trying to survive a deadly collapse. Starring Antonio Banderas, Juliette Binoche and Lou Diamond Phillips, the melodrama is unspeakably high with this latest true story adaptation.

Despite many safety requests to the company's owner, 33 miners find themselves faced with death after a gold and copper mine traps them 2,300 feet underground. Government officials step in to work as swiftly as possible to rescues these brave men, but their strength, courage and sanity start to waver as food and water begin to run out with each passing day.

I've always enjoyed the fine career work of both Antonio Banderas and Juliette Binoche. And in all fairness, each of these performers possess a few shining moments in Patricia Riggen's over-dramatized survival flick. However, the constant recycling of facing an obstacle and overcoming the odds only to face another issue, it becomes a very tiresome ordeal. As a result, The 33 massively overextends itself and its more powerful moments become diluted by stereotypical Hollywood dramatization. The film has unjustly received overwhelmingly harsh reviews and, while it's not an awful viewing experience, I must admit that its flaws clearly outweigh its positives.

Stars: 2 stars out of 4

Grade: C+

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