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]

Film Review – THE BOURNE IDENTITY (2002)

Image result for the bourne identity blu-rayBourne Identity, The (2002; USA/Germany/Czech Republic; Colour; 119m) ∗∗∗∗  d. Doug Liman; w. Tony Gilroy, W. Blake Herron; ph. Oliver Wood; m. John Powell.  Cast: Matt Damon, Franka Potente, Clive Owen, Chris Cooper, Brian Cox, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Julia Stiles, Gabriel Mann, Walton Goggins, Nicky Naude, Josh Hamilton, Orso Maria Guerrini, Tim Dutton, Denis Braccini, Anthony Green. A man is picked up by a fishing boat, bullet-riddled and without memory, then races to elude assassins and recover from amnesia. Fast-paced and tightly, almost frenetically, edited action movie never lets up. Tense and violent, this proved to be an influential addition to the spy thriller genre with Damon proving highly effective as the assassin who has lost his memory and tries to unpick the knotted threads of his life. Based on the novel by Robert Ludlum. Followed by a number of sequels commencing with THE BOURNE SUPREMACY (2004). [12]

Film Review – THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. (2015)

Man from U.N.C.L.E., The (2015; USA/UK; Colour; 116m) ∗∗½  d. Guy Ritchie; w. Guy Ritchie, Lionel Wigram, Jeff Kleeman, David C. Wilson; ph. John Mathieson; m. Daniel Pemberton.  Cast: Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer, Alicia Vikander, Elizabeth Debicki, Hugh Grant, Jared Harris, Christopher Sciueref, Susan Gillias, Luca Calvani, Nicon Caraman. In the early 1960s, CIA agent Napoleon Solo and KGB operative Illya Kuryakin participate in a joint mission against a mysterious criminal organization, which is working to proliferate nuclear weapons. Shallow and lightweight, but increasingly entertaining rework. Cavill is too smug and Hammer too psychotic to capture the charm of the original characters. Ritchie, however, elicits a certain kitsch feel from the derivative script. Based on the TV series that ran from 1964-8. [12]

Film Review – WHEN EIGHT BELLS TOLL (1971)

When Eight Bells Toll (1971; UK; Eastmancolor; 94m) ∗∗∗  d. Etienne Perier; w. Alistair MacLean; ph. Arthur Ibbetson; m. Angela Morley (as Walter Stott).  Cast: Anthony Hopkins, Nathalie Delon, Robert Morley, Jack Hawkins, Corin Redgrave, Derek Bond, Ferdy Mayne, Maurice Roëves, Leon Collins, Wendy Allnutt, Peter Arne, Oliver MacGreevy, Jon Croft. A British agent is on a mission to determine the whereabouts of a ship that disappeared near the coast of Scotland.  Enjoyable and lively, if slight, spy adventure is helped by witty dialogue and performances – notably Hopkins and Morley – as well as great Scottish locations. Hawkins’ voice is dubbed by Charles Gray. MacLean scripted from his own novel. [15]

Film Review – NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN (1983)

Never Say Never Again (1983; UK/USA/West Germany; Technicolor; 134m) ∗∗∗  d. Irvin Kershner; w. Lorenzo Semple Jr.; ph. Douglas Slocombe; m. Michel Legrand.  Cast: Sean Connery, Barbara Carrera, Klaus Maria Brandauer, Max von Sydow, Kim Basinger, Edward Fox, Bernie Casey, Alec McCowen, Michael Medwin, Ronald Pickup, Pamela Salem, Rowan Atkinson, Valerie Leon, Milos Kirek, Anthony Sharp. A SPECTRE agent has stolen two American nuclear warheads, and James Bond must find their targets before they are detonated. Whilst it is good to see Connery return as 007, this production lacks the style and production values of the official series. There are moments of effective humour, but the action sequences are only adequately handled. Carrera and Brandauer are excellent as the SPECTRE agents, but forget Fox as M and Atkinson in an unfunny cameo. Remake of THUNDERBALL (1965). [PG]

Film Review – SKYFALL (2012)

Skyfall (2012; UK/USA; Colour; 143m) ∗∗∗∗½  d. Sam Mendes; w. Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, John Logan; ph. Roger Deakins; m. Thomas Newman.  Cast: Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Bérénice Marlohe, Albert Finney, Ben Whishaw, Rory Kinnear, Ola Rapace, Helen McCrory, Nicholas Woodeson, Bill Buckhurst, Elize du Toit.  James Bond’s loyalty to M is tested as her past comes back to haunt her. As MI6 comes under attack, 007 must track down and destroy the threat, no matter how personal the cost. Engrossing and emotive, this is one of the best of the series with Craig delivering his strongest performance to date as Bond and Dench having a much greater involvement as M. Whishaw debuts as a geeky young Q. Bardem stays the right side of caricature in a delicious turn as the villain of the piece. Thrilling, explosive finale at Bond’s ancestral home in the Scottish Highlands. Production credits are all top notch and Deakins’ cinematography is sumptuous. Oscar winner for Best Song (“Skyfall” by Adele and Paul Epworth) and Sound Editing (Per Hallberg and Karen Baker Landers). Based on characters created by Ian Fleming. [12]