Friday, 28 September 2018

A Star Is Born - Review

“Music is essentially 12 notes between any octave - 12 notes and the octave repeats. It’s the same story told over and over, forever. All any artist can offer this world is how they see those 12 notes. That’s it”
If you boil it right down, the argument is that there are only seven types of story that are told (comedy, tragedy, etc), and one of them is A Star Is Born. That is why Hollywood continues to make this timeless story and ultimately it is down to the director and stars to put their own unique spin on the material.
What Bradley Cooper has done here in his directorial debut, and one hates to be cliche but it is like Simon Cowell on the X Factor would say, “You’ve taken that song that we all know and made it your own”.
For those who have not seen any of the previous versions and unfamiliar with the story, it centres around an established artist whose star is slowly fading due to age and troubles with alcohol. They meet an amazing talent who they fall in love with and help turn into a superstar. A star that threatens to burn so bright that they will be caught up in the blaze.
In this version it is country rock star Jackson Maine (Bradley Cooper), who discovers Ally (Lady Gaga) singing in a drag bar one night after a show. He is utterly bewitched, much as the audience will be, by her talent. After a soulful and heartfelt “meet-cute” night, he invites her up on stage to sing one of her songs which he has arranged and the proverbial star is duly born.
Not only does Cooper’s character do this in the film but also in real life because with this film, Cooper is showcasing Lady Gaga’s incredible talent to the world.
Now I know what you’re thinking. We already know who Lady Gaga is. Well, you have never seen her like this.
It would not have been all that surprising if Lady Gaga had used her real name Stefani Gerrmanotta because this is an artist stripped of everything that made her “Lady Gaga”.
Gone are the catchy pop hits, the choreographed dance routines, the dresses made of meat. This is Gaga Unplugged In New York and she is utterly spellbinding and magnetic on screen.
A lot of the praise for the movie will focus on Gaga and in a case of life imitating art, it will be at the expense of B-Coop but nothing should take away what, for him, is a career-best performance.
I will admit that in the past I haven’t really got the praise for Cooper that has led to him being nominated for four Academy Awards. I mean this is “the guy from The Hangover”.
However he is superb as the grizzled veteran with the gravely voice who is destined to burn out rather than fade away.
During the opening scenes, his deep, gravelled voice was slightly disconcerting. It sounded so familiar, it was difficult to place. That was until his brother appeared, played by Sam Elliot. Cooper is doing Elliot’s voice, who accuses him of stealing his voice, and you can totally visualise him as a younger version of The Stranger in The Big Lebowski. You just keep waiting for him to call some “Dude”.
Not only is his performance on point but Cooper's direction is fantastic. He gives the musical performances (captured at real music festivals including Glastonbury and Coachella) an authenticity and intimacy. Traits that carry through to the relationship and chemistry between the leads.
There is also a wise decision to not rely on the social media narrative too heavily in the meteoric rise to fame of Ally.
It would have been too easy to have segments with Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and TMZ commenting on "Who is she?", "Who is Ally?" etc along the fallout from the Grammys.
The absence of this keeps the narrative on how the ascension and decline of the star-crossed lovers affects their relationship. It also helps to avoid prematurely ageing the film, keeping some of its timeless quality.
The only bum note in the whole production is Rafi Gavron as Ally’s manager. It is understandable that they want to have a younger face, given the music industry as it is, however Gavron never truly comes across as credible and is certainly not imposing or threatening enough in the scenes where he tries to convince Jackson that he is finished with Ally. Cooper could floor him with one punch.
The end result is a near perfect cover version that is as good if not better than the original song.
Having remade A Star Is Born once, one hopes that if Cooper and Gaga take the stage at the Oscars next year, that they don’t recreate the James Mason/Judy Garland version as well.

4 stars

Wednesday, 26 September 2018

Crazy Rich Asians - Review

Crazy Rich Asians is a film that attempts to do exactly what it says on the tin.
The Asians who are featured in the film are "crazy rich", as in very, very rich. Obscenely rich.
Now this is where punctuation is incredibly important. Going into the film, I was expecting, and ended up hoping, that the characters were Crazy, Rich Asians i.e. the rich Asian people were also batshit crazy and the schemes they undertake to go about splitting up the central couple are deliciously devious and madcap.
Instead, the story and structure of this classic take on the romantic comedy is depressingly formulaic.
Professional woman is dating charming man. Man turns out to be rich. His mother doesn't approve of the match and decides to break them up. But of course, by the end they say screw their parents and get back together, gaining their respect along the way.
There is a scene in the middle of the film where the family make dumplings. It is a family tradition and they discuss the exact way the the dumplings must be made.
And in here lies the problem. The film feels like a standard, cookie cutter dumpling.
What this film needed was to experiment and evolve. Try something new with the recipe and create a exciting, spicy delight that moves the genre forward.
It might be perfectly tasty dim sum but the dim sum of its parts is not enough to get crazy in love about.

3 stars

Monday, 24 September 2018

A Simple Favour - Review

A Simple Favour is simply put, not what you would expect going in to the new film by Paul Feig (Bridesmaids, Ghostbusters) starring Anna Kendrick (Pitch Perfect) and Blake Lively (Gossip Girl).
However what Feig is going for.
What starts as a bright and breezy comedy with a meet-cute between two very different mothers takes a series of twists and turns when one of them goes missing that are so dizzying that you will need a couple of Advil dropped in your dry martini (made with Ryan Reynolds gin of course) to stave off a potential migraine.
Feig uses audience expectations to deftly move from a comedy to the darkest of thrillers on a dime and it is perfectly executed by Kendrick and Lively, in particular who is sensational as Emily, the Gossip Gone Girl.
Do yourself a simple favour. Read nothing else about this film. Do not watch the trailers. Go in as cold as you can and you will enjoy one of the most delightful surprises of the year.

4 stars

Sunday, 16 September 2018

The Miseducation of Cameron Post - Review

As one can tell by the above poster's blue background and yellow font, The Miseducation Of Cameron Post is being marketed as this year's Call Me By Your Name.

However this Sundance hit by Desiree Akhavan, based on Emily Danforth’s novel, is closer to being this generation’s One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest.

There are many parallels that can be made between the two films:
  • A rebellious central character that threatens the status quo
  • An strong matriarchal figure who is portrayed as the villain of the piece
  • A stoic native american character who provides a plan for escape
The titular miseducation of Cameron Post has a double meaning. When she is discovered acting on a SSA “same sex attraction” on prom night, Cameron (Moretz) is sent to a bible camp to “pray the gay away” and correct her perceived miseducation. On the flip side, all those who believe that there is nothing wrong with her feelings and actions can perceive this form of treatment as a miseducation in itself. 
While there is not the physical and medical abuse used in Cuckoo’s Nest against the patients to “help” make them better, there is certainly abuse of an emotional level. The emotional abuse and trauma of making these young people believe that there is something wrong with them and are sinners and unworthy in the eyes of God.
In certain ways, the story could be seen as a horror movie. Sent to a remote community in the woods, the young people are “tortured” one by one by a sadistic and vicious antagonist, who obviously believes they are right, until a breaking point occurs, leading to a rebellion.
Ever since Chloe Grace Moretz debuted in Kick Ass in 2010, her star quality was clear for everyone to see as she stole the entire movie from her older and more established costars. Even from Nic Cage’s OTT but best role in years.
I remarked then that she had reminded me of a young Jodie Foster or Natalie Portman and had the potential to become as good as them.
Outside of Clouds of Sils Maria and Let Me In (the decent but unnecessary remake of Let The Right One In), Moretz has struggled with Hollywood movies that were not as good as she was (Carrie, The 5th Wave).
After taking a sabbatical for a couple of years, this is the first film that shows Moretz truly living up to that potential.
She is excellent and completely believable as Cameron. Showcasing a troubled teen who is questioning everything about herself and unsure of what to believe. Similar to Randall McMurphy, her arrival at the camp is a turning point for many of the other teens there and she represents a beacon of hope as she refuses to conform and give in to the demands of Dr. Lydia Marsh (Jennifer Ehle, who appeared on screen as the spitting image of a young Meryl Streep).
Post's presence at the camp, causes many to question themselves and the regime. Exemplified by a joyous sequence where there is a communal sing-a-long to What’s Up by 4 Non Blondes. A cathartic release akin to the Tiny Dancer moment in Almost Famous.
Even though the film's characters are terrified and confused (just check out the pitch perfect nod to The Graduate), one person who is not is writer-director Akhavan who shows a confidence and assurance in every decision in both the script and filmmaking.
It feels authentic in its Nineties-setting but is still shockingly relevant. She also knows that it is the normalcy of the situation which is the scariest aspect of the story, one that will have an emotional affect on the audience thanks to the impressive performances and strong characterisation.
The only praying The Miseducation of Cameron Post needs to do is to hope that the film finds the audience that it deserves. Because once they do they will have an undeniable attraction to it.

4 stars

Thursday, 13 September 2018

The Predator - Review

When the Predator was first introduced to audiences in 1987, the alien was showcased as one of the most efficient killers in the galaxy. Hunting down (this film correctly identifies their behaviour as hunters more than predators but the name is cooler), one by one an elite squad of soldiers in the jungle. Only stopped finally by Earth's greatest match for him, Arnie.
The first film was an incredibly lean, mean, action machine, peppered with some of the most quotable dialogue ever uttered in the movies.
30 years later, those many years of inactivity (with only sporadic hunts in 1991, 2010... and the less said about the AvP movies the better) have left The Predator bloated, out of shape and an easy target.
Following on from the success of Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang and The Nice Guys, it was hoped that writer-director Shane Black (Hawkins in the original film i.e. the one who told all the jokes) would bring some of that magic to the franchise.
The first couple of trailers seemed very uninspired and were almost actively avoiding showing the audience this was a Shane Black film. The final trailer was much better. Focusing on the characters and the witty dialogue with glimpses of the action.
The final result however is sadly neither the R-Rated action gore fest some fans wanted or the black comedy full of memorable, witty one-liners.
Instead, sadly, it is a complete mess. Tonally lurching wildly from one scene to the next with no apparent regard for what has happened previously plot wise.
The cast gamely do their best with the material they are given but some fare better than others.
Boyd Holbrook and Sterling K. Brown are the obvious standouts, delivering the majority of the film's best lines, and Trevante Rhodes (Moonlight) gets some nice, quieter moments.
Olivia Munn is an effective female action star but her character is hampered by having no real introduction to speak of and it cannot decide if she is a scientist who happens to know how to use an assault rifle or an ex-military person who happens to be a scientist.
The low points are Jacob Tremblay and Thomas Jane's characters who are autistic and have Tourette's and act in exactly the way you would expect them to be portrayed if this was an 80s movie... only it isn't the 80s anymore.
There were reports of extensive reshoots to fix the third act but the ripple effect throughout the film has caused a tidal wave of problems.

*Minor spoilers to come*

  • Olivia Munn's character at one point is naked (there apparently is a plot reason for this) and is ignored by the Predator. She mentions this later on as if this will prove vital in defeating the alien but is never brought up again
  • Jake Busey appears as Keyes. Clearly the son of Peter Keyes (Gary Busey) in Predator 2 but never gets to explain that or become relevant to the plot
  • The Predator was always intimidating when played by an actor in that incredible Stan Winston make-up. The decision to go with CGI Predators in the third act takes away from the visceral threat of the alien
  • If anyone can tell me what happened to *redacted* in the final battle, please let me know. Expected him and another character to feature in the epilogue sequence but no sign of them and no resolution to their stories
  • Finally, I couldn't have been the only one who was massively disappointed when the Macguffin was finally revealed and it wasn't *redacted* (you know who I mean)

Jesse Ventura famously said that he "ain't got time to bleed" in the original film and I would urge everyone that when it comes to the massive disappointment that is The Predator, they ain't got time to waste on this episode of the franchise that feels as if it had its spine removed before release.
This is one ugly motherfucker!

1 star

The Nun - Review

The Nun is, somewhat unbelievably, the fifth film to come out of 2013's surprise horror hit The Conjuring.
Similar to the Annabelle doll that featured in the original film, the evil spirit Valak first appeared in The Conjuring 2 and has was deemed suitably terrifying enough to earn her/his own spin off. One which debuted at the top of the US box office last week.
At this point, The Conjuring Universe is second only to Marvel Studios, and is putting the DCEU's efforts so far to absolute shame that the powers that be at DC should pray for forgiveness.
The film opens with an effectively creepy beginning where some terrified nuns in a Romanian abbey are attempting to vanquish an evil spirit that lives within the depths of the holy ground. Suffice to say that it does not end well, climaxing in a truly haunting shot.
Word of the deaths reaches the Vatican who dispatch Father Burke (Demain Bichir) and a young nun (Taissa Farmiga) to investigate, along with the help of "Frenchie", the roguish French-Canadian villager who made the horrific discovery.
By the time they reach the Abbey, Valak's power has already grown strong and begins to get into the heads of the visitors, all of whom are haunted by their own pasts as well as the ghostly Nun that stalks the corridors.
Director Corin Hardy has delivered a horror that comes in at just over the 90 minute mark but it would be fair to say that even though the audience have paid a lot of money for their seat, they will only be sat in it about half the time. The other half they will be jumping out of it.
That is because, rather than building that unnerving sense of dread that slowly creeps up your body until it is frozen rigid in fear, the film opts to go for the tried-and-tested method of quickly build tension before employing a jump scare to create that cathartic release.
Build. Jump. Scream. Repeat. Build. Jump. Scare. Repeat.
A really good jump scare can be one of the most effective and enjoyable scares you can get in the cinema e.g. the bum behind the diner in Mulholland Drive (fun fact: also played by Bonnie Aarons who is Valak), the Blood Test in The Thing, "Night Vision" in The Descent.
The problem comes when there is an over-reliance on them, thus diluting the effect. There is actually a website called Where's The Jump? that details exactly where the jump scares are in horror films and it has recently posted The Nun on the site and it lists a total of 29! Which is one jump scare every three minutes!
To give credit where credit is due, the majority of them do land but it is to the point of exhaustion.
Beyond the relentless onslaught of jumps, the biggest issue in the film lies with the lead actress Taissa Farmiga. Now there is absolutely nothing wrong with her performance. In fact she is very good and apparently the filmmakers have stated that though they auditioned many people, she was the best one for the role.
The issue comes from that with the film being set before the first Conjuring, and Taissa being the younger sister of Vera Farmiga who plays Lorraine Warren in the series. I kept finding myself thinking I was watching a prequel which sets up her character. Only that it isn't. Her name is Irene. Lorraine wasn't a nun. Yet that niggling feeling that the film is setting up for a big twist remained.
However thankfully, it did not go down that road. Instead tying into the franchise in a different and much more clean and effective way.
The Nun is an effective but unimaginative horror thanks to its over-reliance on jump scares but I guess old habits die hard!

2 stars

Friday, 7 September 2018

Cold War - Review

It might be a weird thing to say but with Cold War, Pawel Pawlikowski and his cinematographer Lukasz Zal have produced a black and white film that is bursting with colour.
The story of a love affair witnessed episodically over the years between a Polish songwriter and pianist and a young singer who become intrinsically linked through a love of music and then each other. An attraction that crosses and bridges barriers of age, politics, distance and borders.
Similarities could be drawn to the central pairing of Jean-Paul Belmondo and Jean Seberg in Jean-Luc Godard's A Bout De Souffle. On paper the combination shouldn't really work but the chemistry between Tomasz Kot and Joanna Kulig is undeniable and the sparks that fly between the two of them are hot enough to burn through the cinema screen.
As Eldon Tyrell tells Roy Batty in Blade Runner, "the light that burns twice as bright burns half as long and you have burned so very, very brightly".
With a passion this intense, it is clear that the relationship is ultimately doomed but something keeps drawing them back together. Like a moth to a flame.
No stranger to doomed romances (My Summer of Love, The Woman in the Fifth), with Cold War Pawlikowski has created a film that feels like a blend of La La Land meets Casablanca that has been directed by Ingmar Bergman dabbling in a French New Wave style.
That sounds like a rather jazzy way of describing this mix of notes and style but it all blends together perfectly to produce on of the best films of 2018. One that, unlike the central couple Wiktor and Zula, will find an audience and will never let them go.

5 stars

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Upgrade - Review

On paper, a film about a man who is left for dead and thanks to a fusion of man and machine, is able to hunt down and get revenge on the men who attacked him sounds very similar to Robocop.
However writer-director Leigh Whannell has proven very skilled at taking ideas from 80s movies such as Robocop and Poltergeist and upgrading them into modern, Grindhouse (or should that be Blumhouse) hits.
Having worked for the past decade in the horror genre with the Saw and Insidious franchises, Whannell moves into another genre ripe for reinvention, science fiction.
In Upgrade, Logan Marshall-Green (NOT Tom Hardy) stars as Grey Trace, a mechanic who lives in the near-future but lives for a simpler time when everything is not controlled by technology. He is a self-confessed Luddite who listens to vinyl and repairs classic cars to sell to wealthy collectors. He is also happily married to Asha, who is the antithesis of Grey and embraces this modern world and works within the medical industry.
One night after delivering a hot rod to mysterious tech giant Eron Keen, who is as socially awkward as he is wealthy, the couple are attacked by a group of men who kill Asha and leave Grey paralysed from the neck down.
Descending into suicidal depression at his situation and the police’s inability to use all this technology to catch his wife’s killers, Grey accepts Keen’s offer of being a guinea pig for a new cybernetic treatment called STEM. A revolutionary microchip is placed at the top of his spine that reboots his body, allowing him to walk again… but the A.I. system might just have more than that in mind.
Voiced by Simon Maiden, STEM is as softly spoken but potentially as dangerous as the likes of HAL in 2001 or GERTY in Moon.
Only audible to Grey within his own head, Maiden sparks off of Marshall-Green to make an entertaining double act similar to Jekyll & Hyde or the upcoming Eddie Brock/Venom dynamic as STEM tries to convince him that they can lead the investigation and gain vengeance on their own.
STEM is not wrong as the very first fight scene where he takes control of Grey’s motor functions proves in a shocking and kinetically charge sequence that showcases his upgraded potential and the strengths of Marshall-Green’s physical performance that is the perfect balance between human and robot in the fluidity of his movements as the two battle for supremacy within one shell.
It is not just the character of Grey who is upgraded. Whannell’s skills as a directing are upgrading at an exponential rate as well. Between the Wu-Shu, Asian inspired fight scenes that feature some fantastic camera work that seemingly tracks around the fixed point of Grey to impressive effect; to a car chase on a freeway that is worlds away from the “car chase” that featured in the very first Saw film.
Upgrade is very much a genre piece that wears its influences on its cybernetically enhanced sleeves but given a fresh spin but never at the expense of the gritty, grimy filmmaking style that evolved out of the video nasty era of the 80s where invention was born out of micro-budgets.
The final product is one where Whannell is the Eron Keen to Logan Marshall-Green’s Grey, stepping him out of that Tom Hardy developing him into the charismatic leading man and action hero.
Upgrade is the cinematic equivalent of the remodelled Nokia 3210. A comforting, hark back to a simpler time that is brought bang up to date with all the bells and whistles of the modern age.

4 stars

Monday, 3 September 2018

To All The Boys I've Loved Before - Netflix Originals Review

Netlfix's latest film to hit the streaming service is To All The Boys I've Loved Before is a refreshing, female led take on the high school movie.
Directed by Susan Johnson and adapted from Jenny Han's novel by Sofia Alvarez, it is perfect for anyone looking to achieve the #52FilmsbyWomen challenge this year.
Lara Jean Covey is a shy, high school girl. She has never had a boyfriend but she has had plenty of crushes. Including one of her best friends Josh who happens to be going out with her older sister. Rather than tell the boys how she feels, she writes them a letter and keeps them in a box hidden in her bedroom.
In one of those "only in the movies" moments, these letters (which just happen to be, as Stevie Wonder might say, signed and sealed and stamped) are delivered to the unsuspecting recipients which causes shockwaves through her social life and social standing at school.
Where the film might have taken a High Fidelity-style trip down memory lane as Lara Jean is forced to track down and confront all the boys she has loved before, instead it takes a different path.
Focusing on two boys in particular, the plot veers more towards a She's All That/Pygmalion plot as she forms a pact with high school jock Peter to pretend to be a couple in order to make their exes/friends jealous.
The film might not be reinventing the wheel but that does not matter one single iota thanks to a tight, fun screenplay and a star-making performance by Lana Condor. Previously best known for a small role in X-Men Apocalypse in which she managed to make one of the worst X-Men in Jubilee actually appealing, she is destined for great things on the back of this film.
As Lara Jean becomes to come out of her shell, Condor's confidence shines through as the character becomes more independent and sets out a strong example for young women as she refuses to be treated as the butt of the jokes and catty attitudes to girls at school who are the targets of jealousy and sexual promiscuity.
As mentioned, the ending of the movie is written in the stars before the letters are even posted but that is no fault of these stars Condor and Noah Centenio who are perfect together and have the audience rooting for them all the way.
One minor point though. Are we really expected to believe that teenagers these days i.e. people born in the Noughties are watching John Hughes movies as their guides to growing up? Would they not be watching the likes of Mean Girls or even Clueless? Which themselves are scarily 14 and 23 years old already! Surely the Sixteen Candles and Breakfast Clubs of this world are the childhood movies of their parents who would show the kids these movies and the young people would be bemused as to what makes them classics?
Will To All The Boys I've Loved Before achieve that cult classic status itself thirty years from now? Only time will tell but until then it is the perfect love letter to all the high school romance movies that have come before.

3 stars

Sunday, 2 September 2018

Searching - Review

It is every parent's worst nightmare. To have your child go missing. For some parents, their second worst nightmare would be knowing that they only way to help find them would be to attempt to use their computer and social media. What other secrets would they discover? If they can get past the password and access the account in the first place that is.
That is the nightmare that David Kim (John Cho) must face when his daughter Margot doesn't come home one night after study group.
So far, so standard Hollywood thriller. However writer/director Aneesh Chaganty makes the decision to tell the story entirely through a computer screen.
The horror film Unfriended did something similar by having all the action take place via Skype but Chaganty uses a blank computer screen to advance the plot. Multiple windows and apps pop up left, right and centre, sometimes to dizzying effect but in keeping with the ultra-fast paced nature of the world that we interact with every day.
The family dynamic, and storytelling method, is subtly but effectively set up through a montage sequence of David setting up young daughter Margot with a computer account as they update it with pictures and videos from school. As the years advance, it switches between the family's user profiles as the mother Pam deals with a cancer diagnosis through calendar updates, motivational posts and capturing of memories before her return from the hospital is sadly moved to the trash bin.
Early conversations from a distracted by concerned father with his distant daughter hint that all is not well between them but David is dedicated in his search for her, leaving no stone or social media app unturned. Facebook, Twitter, Facetime, Tumblr, Instagram, YouCast, etc are all used to build up a picture of Margot for the audience and also her father who finally gets to know his daughter for the first time in years.
John Cho is excellent as the frantic father, effectively delivering his heightened level of emotion through a tiny iPhone Facetime screen.
What he does is provide an effective step-by-step guide to parents on how to hack into their childrens' computers and social media accounts if they wanted to spy on them.
The information comes thick and fast and tech-savvy millennials will likely be two-three steps ahead as they quickly use their knowledge of the online world to piece together the clues.
Others not so au fait with the technology may find themselves baffled or even utterly lost as to what is going on.
Although the film has found a new way of delivering a tried-and-tested story, unfortunately the film comes hot off the heels of a TV mini series on Netflix that features a very similar plot with an identical ending that results in a case of diminishing returns for Chaganty's feature.
An interesting look at how reliant we are on the technology that has permeated every aspect of our lives but if you are Searching for the best films of 2018 at the end of the year, this is unlikely to feature in the google search results.

3 stars

The Spy Who Dumped Me - Review

With a title like The Spy Who Dumped Me, the Spectre of the world’s most famous spy might loom large over this but beyond a gender-bending twist on an iconic poster shot, it has much more in common with Melissa McCarthy’s Spy. It also achieves something a Bond film never did and has something it's never had. It passes the Bechdel Test with flying colours thanks to two well-written, fully developed strong independent female characters!
Mila Kunis is attempting to get over being dumped over text by Justin Theroux’s Drew, only to discover that he is a spy in the CIA and sends up involved in a plot to deliver a mysterious package to a mysterious buyer in Europe with her manic, crazy best friend Kate McKinnon along for the ride.
It is refreshing to see a movie written and directed by women, which although at times is a generic action comedy, features such a strong, convincing female friendship which is about regaining control and self-belief and not being defined by a relationship with a man. Either the super spy from her past or the dashing British agent hunting them across the EU.
The film sparks when Mila & Kate share the screen and features great supporting turns from Gillian Anderson as an M-style boss of MI5 and Ivanna Sakkho (who is definitely NOT Elizabeth Olsen) as a Russian assassin.
It is almost like you do not need the men at all and to be honest, Justin Theroux and Sam Heughan (Outlander) hardly register in terms of screen presence in comparison to the chemistry between Kunis and McKinnon.
The spy plot is incredibly generic as we see the two women become fugitives from the police and forced to travel hop across Europe from one set piece to another, experiencing plot twists and developments seemingly recycled beat-for-beat from Spy and, bizarrely at one moment, Zoolander.
There is also some jarring tonal shifts in terms of language and violence as it struggles to decide if it is a PG-13 action comedy or R-rated comedy.
Easily gets two stars, one for each of its leads, but in terms of a sequel? Certainly Never Say Never Again if they figure out exactly what their target audience is but until then it might be For Your Eyes Only.

2 stars