7:30 PM, 28th March, 2014
Privileged playboy James Hunt (Hemsworth) couldn’t be more different from obsessive and methodical Niki Lauda (Brühl). But they formed a rivalry and mutual respect that lasted from the amateur leagues of Formula 3 to the heights of Formula 1 in the ‘70s.
Before seeing this film, I had always respected Ron Howard as a film-maker, but wouldn’t have said that there were any particular common themes or approaches in his works. Whilst watching this one, however, it occurred to me that there was one theme that has popped up in most of his films; or rather, one character. The Motivated But Slightly Obsessed And/Or Autistic Male. The more Howard films I thought of, particularly in the last 20 years, the more occurrences of this came to me: John Nash (A Beautiful Mind), Richard Nixon (Frost/Nixon), Robert Langdon (The Da Vinci Code), Jim Braddock and Joe Gould (Cinderella Man), even to a certain extent Gene Kranz (Apollo 13). All men who are obsessed with an end goal, to the extent of being slightly anti-social or withdrawn. Niki Lauda is now another one to add to the list, and Brühl’s portrayal of the man is excellent.
Chalk this one up as one of Howard’s best films (up there with A Beautiful Mind). An exploration of the male ego and obsession, this is one of the more under-rated films from last year, and shouldn’t be missed.
9:42 PM, 28th March, 2014
He’s back! And he… mumbles something unintelligible. Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger team up for the first time outside of The Expendables series in this rousing romp of an action film that harkens back to their 1980s heydays (and in case there’s any confusion, that’s a good thing).
Stallone plays Ray Breslin, a structural security expert who specialises in breaking out of prisons in order to identify weaknesses in their design. For his latest job, Breslin is tasked with breaking out of a top secret, high-tech facility in exchange for a multi-million dollar payday that is simply too good to pass up. Before long, however, he discovers that he’s been double-crossed and is imprisoned for real in the most secure prison he’s ever encountered. Determined to find out who put him there, he concocts a daring plan and recruits a fellow inmate (Schwarzenegger) to aid in him carrying it out.
The film may not be the Alien vs. Predator/Freddy vs. Jason-style face-off we’ve been longing for, but seeing the two legendary musclemen team up on-screen yields equally fun results. Schwarzenegger in particular excels in his supporting role as the charismatic and crafty Emil Rottmayer, showing off some significant acting chops and even his command of German.
Thankfully pulling no punches when it comes to violence and profanity, Escape Plan is a worthy-if-predictable throwback to the edgy films of the ‘80s and a far cry from the sanitised, PG-13 action fare of today. Don’t hit like a vegetarian and come see this film!