Tag Archives: movie review

What To Watch? Old Boy

Yesterday, I watched the movie Old Boy, a 2013 remake of the 2003 South Korean movie of the same name. It’s classified as neo noir, a term I had never heard of. Now I read up on it, I immediately recognized Sin City as being a neo noir movie. Sin City is about gangsters, however, copying the original 1940s and 1950s crime noir movies, whereas Old Boy is purely based on the blurring lines between right and wrong (and other stuff, but that would mean giving away the plot).

Old Boy

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Cast

The main character in this movie is Josh Brolin. I couldn’t recall a particular movie he was in but remembered his face. I wasn’t surprised when I read he played in No Country for Old Men and Sin City but definitely didn’t recognize him as Thanos in Guardians of the Galaxy.  Brolin does a great job portraying a very unlikable character turning good (?). Yet, it was mainly the fact that Samuel L. Jackson and Sharlto Copley featured in the movie that made me decide to watch it. Elizabeth Olsen also has an interesting role.

Plot

Brolin plays the extremely unlikable and alcohol-addicted character of Joe Doucett. One day, after being drunk once again, he wakes up in what at first glance looks like a motel room. Soon, Joe finds out that this isn’t a motel room at all, and that he is imprisoned. Not knowing what for and having no contact with another living being at all, he is stuck in this room for twenty years before suddenly being released into the world. Now, Joe is bent on revenge upon those who have kept him a prisoner for so long.

What I liked about Old Boy

The film wasn’t what I expected. Quite honestly, I didn’t know what to expect, but it had a twisted (as in surprising and sick) ending which only became clear at the very end. The proper dark neo noir fashion with weird angles set the scene wonderfully and it goes well with the twisted plot. It made you go through the twenty years without being bored.

There’s one fight scene which is awesome, reminding me of the Daredevil Punisher prison fight.

What I didn’t like about Old Boy

(Contains some spoilers)

This movie is not for the faint at heart. I suppose it could be classified under horror, with the torturing and graphic fight scenes and all. I didn’t find it necessary for the plot.

Throughout the movie, you’re wondering why Joe doesn’t act upon his imprisonment. Only once does he try to grab the person giving him his food. Surely, in twenty years, you try to at least establish a bond between the only other person in your life?

During his imprisonment, Joe is shown aerobic exercises on TV and, only after years, he starts to work out. Suddenly, upon his release, he is a fighting machine, killing everyone in his path most efficiently. Really? From watching aerobic exercises?

The wound shown on Copley doesn’t match the injury he received. I’m sure the visual effects guys had a ball, but it’s anatomically incorrect.

The plot twist at the end was a bit far-fetched. I won’t spoil it for you, but I’m sure that once it’s revealed, you, too, will go; ‘really?’

Summary

Old Boy is a strange movie that combines horror, great fight scenes, and a twisted plot. I wanted to show you the preview from YouTube, but it shows you almost the whole storyline. If you intend to watch the movie, I recommend you don’t watch the trailer.

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What To Watch? Cargo

Cargo is a movie we watched over a week ago, but it is still lingering in my brain. It certainly had good enough qualities to do so. It was written by Yolanda Ramke for the Adelaide Film Festival, and this version is directed by her and Ben Howling.

Cargo

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Cast

Martin Freeman is the main character of this movie, Andy. He’s himself, a father and husband this time, with the same frustrated/not-getting-it expression that we all love about him. And a beard, which is something new. The other main character, Thoomi, is played by Simone Landers. She’s a young Aboriginal girl who did a great job. Other actors are Anthony Hayes (from Rabbit-Proof Fence), Caren Pistorius, David Gulpilil (from Rabbit-Proof Fence, Ten Canoes (a very funny movie), Crocodile Dundee, and many other Australian movies), Susie Porter (as Kay, Andy’s wife), Kris McQuade (from A Country PracticeHome and AwayThe Flying Doctors, Blue Heelers), Bruce R. Carter, and Natasha Wanganeen.

Plot

The world is thrown into chaos as a virus turns people into zombies. The government has handed out kits to kill yourself/those infected, including a watch that tells you how much time you have from being bitten to turning into a flesh-eating monster.

Andy, his wife Kay, and their one-year-old daughter, Rosie, are trying to stay safe on a riverboat in the Australian bush (yes, there are rivers in the bush in Australia 😀 ). When they stumble upon an abandoned boat, they forage there for food. Kay gets bitten by a person hiding on the boat but doesn’t tell Andy. When she turns and bites Andy, he’s got forty-eight hours to find someone to take care of their daughter.

What I liked about Cargo

It is a heart-wrenching story. A father who knows he’s going to die/turn into a zombie tries to find a carer for his daughter. What’s not to love? Freeman is portraying the role very well. Personally, I’d be a bit more frustrated and impatient, but that’s just me 😀 .

I loved the incorporation of the Aboriginal culture, dealing with the threat in the most natural way. The culture of ancient tribes is disappearing faster than you can think, and it makes you realize that this may not be for the good of humankind.

What I didn’t like about Cargo

Some parts of the story are very predictable, but that’s about it. It’s still a very entertaining story with incredible performances that pluck your heartstrings.

I thought the special effects were a bit tacky (lol, almost literally!), but it did the job.

Summary

Cargo is a movie about hope, survival, and humanity (good and bad) that will make you laugh, scream, and cry. Honestly, get the tissue box ready!

What To Watch? Solo

This weekend my son wanted to watch Deadpool with his mates. We were chartered to cart him and his buddies to and fro. As we live a forty-five-minute drive away from the cinema, it was no use going back home again. So, we decided to watch a movie ourselves. We wanted to see Deadpool as well but didn’t want to spoil the boys’ fun. There wasn’t a lot of movies that my husband and I both wanted to watch, so we settled on Solo.

Solo: A Star Wars Story

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Cast

It is very hard to find an actor who can pull of being the younger version of a famous actor, especially one that has to portray Han Solo, i.e. Harrison Ford. Alden Ehrenreich was a very good choice. Although he kept reminding me of a young Leonardo DiCaprio, he does look like the ‘old’ Han Solo when you take a better look. He sure seems to have his charm (or is it DiCaprio’s charm?).

I hadn’t seen any previews of the movie and was surprised to see Woody Harrelson as Tobias Beckett, the criminal/friend of Han, and Emilia Clarke (aka Daenerys Targaryen from GoT) as Han’s girlfriend Qi’ra. It took me a few minutes to actually recognize Harrelson, but it was his typical acting that gave it away.  I didn’t recognize Clarke with the bob hairdo either. Only when she changed her hairstyle did I see her smile (with the amazingly pretty teeth). Donald Glover did a good job portraying the young Lando, Phoebe Waller-Bridge was very funny as Lando’s droid companion, and Joonas Suotamo as Chewbacca.

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Plot

Qi’ra and Han live on a shipbuliding planet called Corellia and are made to steal to survive. When they get their hands on some coaxium, a powerful hyperspace fuel, they use it as their ticket to get off the planet and start a new life. Unfortunately, only Han makes it out and Qi’ra is captured.

Han enlists and becomes a pilot but is expelled for subordination and now fights in the infantry. For three years he tries to get back to Corellia to save his sweetheart Qi’ra, but things don’t go as planned.  He teams up with outlaw Beckett to steal a big score of coaxium. With the profit, he hopes to finally go back to Corellia.

What I liked about Solo

I liked seeing a new face as the main character, even though he did resemble other actors. I liked seeing Emilia Clarke making a career outside GoT. I’ve seen her in the fifth Terminator movie, Terminator Genisys, but thought that was just a one-off. Good for her to continue her career outside GoT! I liked seeing Woody Harrelson as I think he’s funny. Whatever role he has, he’s always Woody. And I like that.

What I didn’t like about Solo

I won’t lie. The movie was extremely predictable. Obviously, we already know Han ends up with Chewie as his best mate, that he hasn’t got a girlfriend, and that he flies the Millenium Falcon. I guess I expected more twists, more one-liners, more… something. I recently read that screenwriters did a bad job if you can speak the lines before the actors did. That’s what happened while I was watching this movie.

Summary

Even though the movie was incredibly predictable, it was still good entertainment, and as I grew up a Star Wars fan, I couldn’t pass this one up.

Solo

What To Watch? Dylan Dog: Dead of Night

Yesterday we watched Dylan Dog: Dead of Night (2011), a golden oldie, again. It wasn’t as ‘golden’ as I remembered, but it was good fun anyway. It’s a quirky look on the paranormal, and I’m all for quirky 🙂

Dylan Dog: Dead of Night

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Cast

Taye Diggs as vampire Vargas
Taye Diggs as vampire Vargas

Dylan Dog is played by Brandon Routh, and it’s not surprising he played Superman in Superman Returns (2006). He has the chin, the body, and the overall looks for it. Dylan’s sidekick, Marcus, is played by Sam Huntington who, to my surprise, also features in Superman Returns (I’ve got to watch that one again, now). The love interest, Elizabeth Ryan, is played by Anita Briem who has featured in Journey to the Center of the EarthDr. Who, and The Tudors.

The main villain, Vargas, is played by Taye Diggs, an actor who has been nominated for and won many awards. Another character with an important role is Peter Stormare, who plays Gabriel the werewolf. I like him. He has an extensive list of filmography but usually doesn’t play the main character.

Plot

Dylan Dog used to be a detective for the paranormal creatures of this world (‘no pulse, no problem’ was on his business card), but since the death of his girlfriend, is now retired. This changes when his buddy Marcus is attacked by a super zombie and is turned into a zombie. Dylan now wants to know why Elizabeth Ryan’s father has been murdered, where this super zombie came from, and why they’re trying to keep him from taking the case. Together, the three go out to seek the truth, dealing with werewolves, vampires, and zombies on their quest.

Marcus is being told he's a zombie
Marcus is being told he’s a zombie

What I liked about Dylan Dog: Dead of Night

Obviously, it’s great to see another movie about paranormal creatures that is not doom and gloom. This is a funny movie with the role of Marcus the funniest. He gets killed and turned into a zombie sort of in the first chapter. From that moment on and continuing for the whole movie, Marcus has to come to terms with the whole ‘being undead’ thing. His dialogue and acting are hilarious and worth the watch.

The creature Belial, who features at the end of the movie, is well done and not too fake (although he does look like he’s wearing huge boots).

What I didn’t like about Dylan Dog: Dead of Night

Dylan_Dog_Beliar.jpgI won’t lie. The acting is bad. I tried to figure out why as all these actors have an extensive list of experience. The only thing I could come up with is that the dialogue is often cliche and/or unnatural.

Summary

Dylan Dog is a fun watch if you haven’t got anything else lined up.

Dylan Dog: Dead of Night is available on Amazon.

 

 

 

What To Watch? The Shape of Water

This weekend we had a double whammy and went to see The Shape of Water first and The Greatest Showman straight after. Both were great movies. I actually don’t like singing in movies, so I’m not going to discuss the latter here. I do love a good romance story, so The Shape of Water it is.

The Shape of Water

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Cast and Plot

This story plays in 1962 Baltimore when racism is the norm and homosexuality is still a taboo. Elisa Esposito (played by Sally Hawkins) is a woman who lives above a movie theatre and works as a cleaning lady in a secret government laboratory. Her neighbor, Giles (played by Richard Jenkins), is a homosexual artist, trying to make a living with his drawings. Elisa is mute. She appears to have been found as a child with strange scars in her neck like someone scratched her.

When an aquatic creature (played by Doug Jones) is brought into the facility, Elisa forms a bond with it. She is delighted to have found someone like her, someone who can’t talk, and she spends her lunchtimes with the creature. The agent in charge of the creature, Colonel Richard Strickland (played by Michael Shannon), is a very cruel man and delights in torturing it. The Russian scientist studying the creature (played by Michael Stuhlbarg) notices the bond between the creature and Elisa and realizes it is an intelligent being. He tries everything in his power to make his superiors see this without spilling the beans on Elisa.

What I liked

This is a wonderfully romantic story about an outcast who becomes a hero and finds true love. Who doesn’t like a story where this happens? The fact that is was nominated so many times probably has something to do with the fact that the movie puts a spotlight on all sort of social taboos; masturbation, homosexuality, racial discrimination, and physical disabilities. The fact that it plays in 1962 only highlights that a lot still needs to change.

I like the casting of the actors. They weren’t perfect, yet beautiful. In other words, not a typical Holywood cast. Michael Shannon was a particular well-cast actor, and I think we’re going to see more of him on the big screen.

I liked that Doug Jones, who played the creature, also played Abe Sapien in Hellboy, one of my favorite movies. The creatures aren’t the same, yet their likeness was the first thing that sprung to mind when I saw the creature for the first time (before I knew Doug Jones played both roles). Loved, loved, loved the outfit!

Abe Sapien from Hellboy vs. The Creature in The Shape of Water
Abe Sapien from Hellboy vs. The Creature in The Shape of Water

What I didn’t like

Even though it is a very romantic story, I missed something. Maybe it was the short time dedicated to the build-up of the romance, I don’t know. Questioning logistics issues, explained too late, took me out of the story sometimes. And of course the WTF-moments that always seems to happen. I can accept fantasy logic, but I won’t accept things that they pretend can happen in this physical world. It just isn’t possible from a earthly-scientific point of view. You can take the girl out of science, but you can’t take the science out of the girl 🙂

Summary

All in all a bloody good movie for Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Romance, and Thriller lovers. Go and see it!

What To Watch? Fracture

This weekend, I watched four movies; Enemy Mine, Fracture, Patriot’s Day, and The Circle. Thinking back just now, only Enemy Mine sprung to mind without thinking too hard. This was probably because I had actually bought the DVD and had been looking forward to watching this classic (with Dennis Quaid) for a few days. As I want to share with you what you could watch right now, I’ve picked ‘Fracture’ to review this week.

Fracture

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This movie is from 2007, yet I had never heard of it before it was released on Netflix. The story is about a young and promising lawyer, Willy Beacham (Ryan Gosling) who, just before starting his new job in an uptown firm, takes on the ‘easy’ case of a man, Ted Crawford (Anthony Hopkins) who shot his wife and confessed to it. The case suddenly becomes a lot more complicated when Crawford, representing himself, accuses the investigating Lt. Rob Nunally (Billy Burke) of having had an affair with Crawford’s wife.

The Pros

No need to mention Hopkins portrays the complicated, manipulating Crawford very well. Ryan Gosling convincingly plays the cocky lawyer who thinks he can outsmart anybody. The cat and mouse game unfolds as the plot moves on. It’s very cleverly put together and keeps you on your toes. I love movies like this. This is not a typical Hollywood movie in which all the good guys survive, which is nice for a change. The music was appropriate, not taking you out of the movie at all. Makeup wasn’t anything special, but again, didn’t take you out of the story either. Special effects weren’t the gimmick of this movie as it is very much a court case flick, but the scene where the wife is shot is filmed convincingly.

The Cons

There wasn’t much I didn’t like about the movie. The twist at the end was expected  (it still is a Hollywood movie) although my knowledge of the law didn’t let me know it beforehand. Next to this, it always puts me off to see actors that have had major roles in other movies or series, like Billy Burke here, who played Bella’s father in the Twilight Saga. In his first contact with the police, Crawford says ‘Lots of vampires out there.’ It was a strange, out-of-context comment, and I wonder if it had anything to do with Burke’s previous role.

It’s a good movie to watch and I’d recommend it to anybody who loves court case movies or mind games.

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Movie Review: Murder on the Orient Express

Score: 8/10

– Warning: Spoiler Alert! –

In a spur of the moment, we decided to watch Murder on the Orient Express last night. To be honest, I’m not a fan of Kenneth Branagh as an actor (no reason, I just don’t) and didn’t want to have my image of Poirot (in the form of David Suchet) ruined by him. It appeared, however, that I was the only one in my family who knew the story of MotOE. So we had to go.

It took me a while to get used to seeing Mr. Branagh in the role of Poirot. He didn’t have a chubby tummy, nor was he short or have the peaked, black mustache David Suchet used to sport. He did have an exceptional mustache though. Only one third into the movie did I realize his mustache was actually two mustaches. Like the mustache, Mr. Branagh’s performance grew on me. He was hardly recognizable, disappearing into his role as Poirot, and he played him excellently. Poirots.jpgThe cinematography was stunning. One ‘but’ I have is the movement of the camera up and down a train carriage, and I literally mean a vertical movement. It was used at least twice. The first time we follow Poirot in thought looking out the window and this is okay. The second time we see a conversation between Poirot and one of the passengers interviewed. The movement of the camera makes no sense here and took me out of the story. Often, directors decide on a weird, unconventional camera actions… and it doesn’t work. Such a shame.

The cast was well chosen, with appearances of Penelope Cruz, William Dafoe (forever the Green Goblin in my eyes), Judi Dench (aged 82!), Johnny Depp, Derek Jacobi (aged 79!), and Michelle Pheiffer to name the most famous ones. All the actors played their role exceptionally well. MOTOEI have never read the books of Agatha Christie, so I can’t compare the movie to her story. What struck me about the plot, afterward, is that Poirot interviews all passengers and finds a reason for murder for all of them. What is not shown is that he dismisses the reason of his previous suspects when he finds a new one. Surely you would start to doubt yourself when you find so many reasons for murder in so many suspects. There is no reasoning as to why one would have committed the murder over another, only the quick epiphany at the end. Strange.

A great movie to watch to enjoy excellent performances and an early 20th-century setting.

 

 

Movie Review: The Death of Stalin

Score: 7/10

*** Warning: Spoiler Alert ***

The Death of Stalin is described as a comedy-drama and that is exactly where the problem lies. It’s too funny to be a drama, but to serious to be a comedy. I didn’t know what to make of it. The fact that it is based on true events makes it a sad movie.

The cast is a great one and there are some brilliant performances. I liked Steve Buscemi in the role of Nikita Krushchev, Simon Russell Beale as Lavrentiy Beria, and Jason Isaacs portraying Georgy Zhukov. There are many more great performances by Jeffrey Tambor, Olga Kurylenko, Michael Palin, and Paddy Considine to name a few.

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The weird thing was that some of the actors talked with a severe Cockney dialect (correct me if I’m wrong. I’m a layman in this respect). I assume there are dialects in Russian too, but to hear the thick English accent in the very Russian surroundings made it a very weird experience.

There are a lot of funny scenes. For example, when Beria gives out orders, there are people being shot, shoved off stairs, or otherwise maimed in the background. It’s not laugh-out-loud funny, but it makes it all rather slapstick-like. The whole experience of not speaking out against the regime is also funny and sad at the same time.

It is an entertaining movie that is mainly funny, but not Hollywood-style. You can follow the story-line without a problem even when you’re a person who knows nothing of post-world-war Russia, like me.

 

Movie Review: The Great Wall

– Spoiler Alert! –

Score: 8/10

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Last night I watched The Great Wall, with Matt Damon. I had avoided seeing any of the trailers, so all I knew was that it was about the great wall of China and that Matt Damon was in it. Of course I had read about the controversy about white-washing an Asian story and about Matt Damon having 700 hair extensions to be able to sport a man bun, but that was it.

We were going to watch Hidden Figures as well, so I had to find out how long the movie was going to take. I was surprised when I found out it was only one hour and forty-three minutes. Most movies nowadays are two hours or over, especially epic ones like I thought this one to be. Strange.

The first few minutes of the movie was a great scene setter. It was suspenseful, it had action, and it had humour. That was exactly what the whole movie was. I was surprised about the humour in it. I had expected it to be all drama, but it wasn’t. It didn’t run over of one liners, one funny was actually used twice, but it was sprinkled enough to give the whole story an airy atmosphere.

If you don’t want to read about any spoilers, you can still click away now.

I was totally taken aback by the monsters in the movie. I didn’t expect these at all and they upped my liking of the movie. Awesome CG of course, but I couldn’t help comparing the monsters to the ones from Avatar, with gill like organs and eyes in weird places. The feminist in me found it great to see a Queen in charge of them all, but, again, reminded my of the Alien enterprise. Nothing new. As was the art (ink in water flow) used in the end credits, very reminiscent of the series Marco Polo, as was the outfits for the female warriors. For a moment I thought we had crossed movies and were watching elves from Lord of the Rings.

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What annoyed me during the movie was the flow. In my opinion, scenes were cut short and I wasn’t given enough time to root for any of the characters. The (surprisingly non-existent romantic) relationship between William Garin (Matt Damon) and Commander Lin Mae (Jing Tian) could have been so much more. The fact that Commander Lin Mae was chosen to become General was a nice feministic touch, but highly unlikely in ancient China. Made it seem fantastical instead of worthy of belief. The to and fro alliance of Pero Tovar (Pedro Pascal) to William also seemed whimsical. I think the movie would have been so much better if these relationships had more to it.

Story wise there is a lot more to question of course. I’ll not go into that as ever action story on the big screen nowadays seems to hang together by coincidental occasions and faulty time lines.

As for the white-washing of the movie, I concur with Director Zhang Yimou that the character of William is a let down compared to the honour code the Chinese warriors live by. However, I find it a bit over the top that it is William, together with Commander Lin Mae, who defeats the Queen. Was there really not a Chinese warrior by the Commander’s side who could have done the same? But than again, we wouldn’t have been able to se Matt Damon in close up as much as we can now 🙂 .

Movie Review: Jason Bourne

Score: 8/10

– Spoiler Alert! –

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It wasn’t the first session that was on today, but I had to see this movie on the day it was released. The trailer was extremely good and although I don’t like watching trailers (they always show the good bits), I couldn’t get enough of this one. Particularly the bit when Matt Damon floors his fight opponent in one hit 🙂 .

After filming the first three Bourne books, written by Robert Ludlum, Matt Damon passed when they offered him the role for the fourth instalment. He said that Bourne knew who he was now and the story had ended. Jeremy Renner took the role (and did a good job) whilst Tony Gilroy co-wrote the script with his brother and directed this movie. That movie had indeed nothing to do with the Bourne series and the reviews were very mixed. For me it was the pills (that took centre stage in The Bourne Legacy); they were never mentioned in any of the first three Bourne movies.

Matt Damon only returned to the screen as Jason Bourne as Paul Greengrass, director of The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum, found a way to bring Jason back. The bigger-picture/storyline is believable, although there are a lot of ‘yeah right’ moments. This seems to be unavoidable in Hollywood movies nowadays. Greengrass has done an excellent job in getting everything on screen and the flow is perfect. Even the fighting scenes and chases are easy to follow.

Matt Damon is looking good, as per usual, actually looking extremely buff this time. The fact that he’s getting a bit older doesn’t mean he’s getting any less fit. Julia Styles plays Nicky Parsons again. The notable new faces are that of Tommy Lee Jones, very accurately portraying the grumpy old CIA director Dewey who is out to kill Bourne, and Alicia Vikander as Heather Lee, the CIA agent in charge of finding Bourne. I have mixed feelings about the role of Lee, as she, like Joan Allen as Pamela Landy in the previous instalments, is the only one that thinks Bourne is not back to cause damage. Was the role written for a woman to keep the feminist audience happy (this is after all the age of girl power), or is it suggested that women have a less aggressive streak, are more diplomatic, and/or see the best in people? I still haven’t made up my mind on this one, but neither seems like a good option to me.

Like I said, there were a lot of ‘yeah right’ moments. One of them being a miss in the make-up department. At some stage Bourne nearly gets strangled, but when he takes the cord off his neck there is not one mark in sight. Big faux pas, guys, you should read up on your forensic science. Excellent work on the other bruises though 🙂 .

The movie seems to be an endless stream of violence, from the beginning to the very end. All well thought out action sequences and the Las Vegas scene is quite spectacular (it was mentioned that they didn’t ask permission for filming this scene, so if anybody knows the truth, please let me know). There wasn’t a lot of blood visible throughout the movie, even when people are shot they keep moving with only ‘wet patches’ visible.

What bothered me was that there is absolutely no remorse for the taking of lives that happens left, right, and centre, at the hand of ‘the asset,’ played by Vincent Cassel. Yes, it is a hired killer that does the killing, but apparently he can put aside his emotion when killing, but not tuck away his lust for revenge on Bourne. And yes, I hear you say, it is after all a Bourne movie, but remember the first instalment, The Bourne Identity, where Jason Bourne fails his mission because he refuses to shoot a man in front of his children. That’s why we fell in love with him, because throughout the film his humanity became stronger than the killer they made him. That’s the sort of movie we need again, especially in this day and age.

I give it an 8/10 for the directing, cinematography, the special effects (chases) and for Matt being one of my favourite actors.