Book Review – KILLER INTENT (2018) by Tony Kent

KILLER INTENT (2018) **½
by Tony Kent
Published by Elliott and Thompson Ltd., 2018, 530pp
ISBN: 978-1-78396-382-9

36570437Blurb: When an attempted assassination sparks a chain reaction of explosive events across London, Britain’s elite security forces seem powerless to stop the chaos threatening to overwhelm the government. As the dark and deadly conspiracy unfolds, three strangers find their fates entwined: Joe Dempsey, a deadly military intelligence officer; Sarah Truman, a CNN reporter determined to get her headline; and Michael Devlin, a Belfast-born criminal barrister with a secret past. As the circle of those they can trust grows ever smaller, Dempsey, Devlin and Truman are forced to work in the shadows, caught in a life-or-death race against the clock, before the terrible plot can consume them all.

Enjoyment of this book will depend pretty much on your willingness to buy into the increasingly implausible plot presented. The story has its twists and turns, but none of these came as a surprise and the motivation and actions of the chief villain of the piece increasingly defied logic. Kent has two strong heroes in Dempsey and Devlin and a gutsy heroine in Truman. However, the latter character takes an increasingly back-seat role, having been the conduit for the early action. The book then descends into a stereotypical chase with a hostage/shootout climax that is somehow unfulfilling.

The book could have been more tightly edited. There is not enough in terms of plot progression and characterisation to warrant a 530-page count. The motivations of the characters are drawn out and repeated through long monologues. The book is essentially pulp-fiction and in that genre quantity does not necessarily directly correlate with quality. Here, readers have too much time to think and absorb and that enables them to dwell on the plot’s incredulities. That said, there are moments of promise and Kent may well go on to refine his skills as the series progresses – there is a swift set-up for follow-up stories in this tale’s closing pages. He has a good handle on action scenes, which will ensure his writing remains popular with a like-minded readership.

Unfortunately, the moments of promise are undermined by its preposterous plot resulting in a book that both pleases and frustrates at the same time.

TV REVIEW – JACK RYAN – SEASON ONE (2018)

Image result for jack ryan season oneJack Ryan – Season One (2018; USA; Colour; 1 x 65m, 7 x 42m-51m) ****  pr. Nazrin Choudhury, José Luis Ecolar, Robert Phillips; d. Morten Tyldum, Daniel Sackheim, Patricia Riggen, Carlton Cuse; w. Carlton Cuse, Graham Roland, Stephen Kronish, Daria Polatin, Patrick Aison, Annie Jacobsen, Nazrin Choudhury, Nolan Dunbar; ph.  Richard Rutkowski, Checco Varese, Christopher Faloona; m. Ramin Djawadi.  Cast: John Krasinski, Abbie Cornish, Wendell Pierce, Ali Suliman, Emmanuelle Lussier Martinez, Dina Shihabi, Karim Zein, Nadia Affolter, Jordi Mollà, Arpy Ayvazian, Adam Bernett, Amir El-Masry, Goran Kostic, Eileen Li, Mena Massoud, Victoria Sanchez, Marie-Josée Croze, John Hoogenakker, Shadi Jahno, Zarif Kabier, Kevin Kent, Brittany Drisdelle, Shailene Garnett, Matt McCoy, Maxime Robin, Kenny Wong, Chadi Alhelou, Jonathan Bailey, Jamil Khoury, Stéphane Krau, Al Sapienza, Kareem Tristan Alleyne, Ron Canada, Michael Gaston, Matthew Kabwe, Yani Marin, Laurean Adrian Parau, Kaan Urgancioglu, Jessica Abruzzese, Numan Acar, Mehdi Aissaoui. When CIA analyst Jack Ryan stumbles upon a suspicious series of bank transfers his search for answers pulls him from the safety of his desk job and catapults him into a deadly game of cat and mouse throughout Europe and the Middle East, with a rising terrorist figurehead preparing for a massive attack against the US and her allies. Impressively mounted reworking of Tom Clancy’s hero as an ex-marine with a past thrown back into the field to hunt down the terrorist leader, whilst trying to protect the leader’s defecting wife and children. Action scenes are well handled and for the most part the script is both intelligent and suspenseful, only occasionally lapsing into genre conventions. Krasinski is good as the latest actor to take on the role of the eponymous hero with Pierce equally good as his superior. Suliman manages to convey menace with a deeper rooted motivation as the terrorist leader, making him a three-dimensional character.  Certain elements of the background stories are left unresolved signalling a second season will follow. [15]

Film Review – BIG JIM McLAIN (1952)

Image result for big jim mclain 1952Big Jim McLain (1952; USA; B&W; 90m)   d. Edward Ludwig; w. James Edward Grant, Richard English, Eric Taylor; ph. Archie Stout; m. Paul Dunlap, Arthur Lange, Emil Newman.  Cast: John Wayne, Nancy Olson, James Arness, Alan Napier, Veda Ann Borg, Hans Conried, Hal Baylor, Gayne Whitman, Gordon Jones, Robert Keys, John Hubbard, Soo Yong, Dan Liu, Peter Brocco, Franklyn Farnum. Two U.S. House Un-American Activities Committee investigators attempt to break up a ring of Communist Party troublemakers in Hawaii. Political messages replace the need for a gripping story in this decidedly dull vehicle for Wayne. The script is laboured and the direction flat. The performances are largely wooden. The love interest sub-plot for Wayne is uninvolving and the whole thing lacks a resolution. One of the few duds in Wayne’s career. Only plus is Hawaiian locations. [U]

TV Review – ARMCHAIR THEATRE: A MAGNUM FOR SCHNEIDER (1967)

Armchair Theatre: A Magnum for Schneider (TV) (1967; UK; B&W; 55m) ****  pr. Leonard White; d. Bill Bain; w. James Mitchell; m. Robert Farnon. Cast:  Edward Woodward, Joseph Fürst, Ronald Radd, Peter Bowles, Francesca Tu, Russell Hunter, Helen Ford, Martin Wyldeck, John Scarborough, Ivor Dean.  This Armachair Theatre presentation was the first adventure of David Callan (Woodward), top agent for the S.I.S. Forcibly “retired” several years earlier because he had lost his nerve. Callan is called back into service to handle the assassination of Schneider, a German businessman who may be more than he seems. Confined to studio sets, despite the limitation so its production this remains a fascinating piece of television driven by Woodward’s brilliant performance and Mitchell’s sharp script – adding depth and a cynical humour to an unsympathetic character. Hunter is Callan’s unkempt underworld contact, Lonely. The TV series Callan was picked up later the same year and ran for four series from 1967-1972. Mitchell later novelised the story as “A Red File for Callan” and this in itself was later filmed for theatrical release as Callan in 1974. [12]

Film Review – TO CHASE A MILLION (1967)

To Chase a Million (1967; UK; Colour; 97m) **½  d. Pat Jackson, Robert Tronson; w. Stanley R. Greenberg; ph. Lionel Banes; m. Albert Elms.  Cast: Richard Bradford, Yoko Tani, Ron Randell, Norman Rossington, Anton Rogers, Mike Pratt, Aubrey Morris, Simon Brent, Gay Hamilton. A lone shark bounty hunter pits himself against secret agents from three countries. The prize: a million bucks in cash for vital state secrets. Flat spy thriller betrays its TV origins with studio sets and stock location footage. Bradford is excellent as the loner McGill, who it seems is forever being beaten up. Rodgers also impresses as a Russian spy. The plot unfolds at a slow pace and the resolution lacks punch. Compiled from a two-part story from the TV series Man in a Suitcase, originally entitled “Variation on a Million Bucks”. [PG]

Film Review – THE IPCRESS FILE (1965)

Image result for the ipcress file 1965 blu-rayIpcress File, The (1965; UK; Technicolor; 109m) ∗∗∗∗  d. Sidney J. Furie; w. W.H. Canaway, James Doran; ph. Otto Heller; m. John Barry.  Cast: Michael Caine, Nigel Green, Guy Doleman, Sue Lloyd, Gordon Jackson, Aubrey Richards, Frank Gatliff, Thomas Baptiste, Oliver MacGreevy, Freda Bamford, Pauline Winter, Anthony Blackshaw, Barry Raymond, David Glover, Stanley Meadows. In London, a counter espionage agent deals with his own bureaucracy while investigating the kidnapping and brainwashing of British scientists. First-rate and gritty spy thriller with a typically complex plot. Caine’s hero is the antithesis of James Bond, with his ordinary lifestyle and lack of glamour. Brainwashing sequence in the final act is effectively shot and acted. John Barry’s moody score adds significantly to the cold atmosphere of espionage and deceit. Based on the book by Len Deighton. Followed by two sequels – FUNERAL IN BERLIN (1966) and BILLION DOLLAR BRAIN (1967) – and later two direct to video releases – BULLET TO BEIJING (1995) and MIDNIGHT IN SAINT PETERSBURG (1996). [PG]

Film Review – ICE STATION ZEBRA (1968)

Image result for ice station zebra dvdIce Station Zebra (1968; USA; Metrocolor; 148m) ∗∗∗½  d. John Sturges; w. Douglas Heyes, Harry Julian Fink; ph. Daniel L. Fapp; m. Michel Legrand.  Cast: Rock Hudson, Ernest Borgnine, Patrick McGoohan, Jim Brown, Tony Bill, Lloyd Nolan, Alf Kjellin, Gerald S. O’Loughlin, Ted Hartley, Murray Rose, Ron Masak, Sherwood Price, Lee Stanley, Joseph Bernard. A nuclear submarine commander is dispatched to the polar ice region on a rescue mission when an emergency signal is received from a research station. It soon becomes apparent that the mission is more than just a simple rescue operation. Well cast spy drama may be overlong, but retains its interest throughout thanks to a solid script and strong performances from Hudson and McGoohan. Excellent production values and imaginative use of studio sets. Originally shown in theatres with an opening overture, which was restored for the 2005 DVD release. Based on the novel by Alistair MacLean. [U]

Film Review – SAFE HOUSE (2012)

Safe House (2012; USA/South Africa/Japan; Colour; 115m) ∗∗∗  d. Daniel Espinosa; w. David Guggenheim; ph. Oliver Wood; m. Ramin Djawadi.  Cast: Denzel Washington, Ryan Reynolds, Vera Farmiga, Brendan Gleeson, Sam Shepard, Rubén Blades, Nora Arnezeder, Robert Patrick, Liam Cunningham, Joel Kinnaman, Fares Fares. A young CIA agent is tasked with looking after a fugitive in a safe house. But when the safe house is attacked, he finds himself on the run with his charge. Washington and Reynolds are main assets of otherwise routine espionage action thriller. The action scenes lose tension due to haphazard nature of the editing and the script lacks depth in characterisation and plot. [15]

Film Review – THE BOURNE SUPREMACY (2004)

Image result for the bourne supremacy blu-rayBourne Supremacy, The (2004; USA/Germany; Colour; 108m) ∗∗∗∗  d. Paul Greengrass; w. Tony Gilroy; ph. Oliver Wood; m. John Powell.  Cast: Matt Damon, Franka Potente, Brian Cox, Julia Stiles, Karl Urban, Gabriel Mann, Joan Allen, Marton Csokas, Tom Gallop, John Bedford Lloyd, Ethan Sandler, Michelle Monaghan, Karel Roden. When Jason Bourne is framed for a botched CIA operation he is forced to take up his former life as a trained assassin to survive. The pace never lets up in this sequel to THE BOURNE IDENTITY (2002), which continues the story in some style with Greengrass at the helm. Breath-taking actions scenes are filmed and edited in chaotic style making them seem less choreographed.  Based on the novel by Robert Ludlum. Followed by THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM (2007). [12]

Film Review – JASON BOURNE (2016)

Image result for jason bourne 2016 posterJason Bourne (2016; USA; Colour; 123m) ∗∗∗½  d. Paul Greengrass; w. Paul Greengrass, Christopher Rouse; ph. Barry Ackroyd; m. David Buckley, John Powell.  Cast: Matt Damon, Alicia Vikander, Julia Stiles, Tommy Lee Jones, Vincent Cassel, Ato Essandoh, Riz Ahmed, Scott Shepherd, Bill Camp, Vinzenz Kiefer, Stephen Kunken, Ben Stylianou, Kaya Yuzuki, Matthew O’Neill, Lizzie Phillips, Paris Stangl. Jason Bourne, now remembering who he truly is, tries to uncover hidden truths about his past. Damon returns to the franchise after a one film absence and it is business as usual with Greengrass at the helm. Dizzying, frenetically cut action sequences propel the story at a fast pace across globe-trotting locations glossing over some of the conveniences in the script. But ultimately this is a satisfying fifth instalment. [12]