Part The Transporter, part Tinker Tailor Solider Spy, Killer Elite is an unlikely and largely unsuccessful hybrid, based on Ranulph Fiennes’ 1991 bestseller, The Feather Men. Whether or not Fiennes’ “SAS vs. assassins” thriller has any basis in fact (Killer Elite claims to be inspired by a true story, Fiennes himself is contradictory on the point), its potential as compelling cinematic source material is clear. But in the hands of the first-time writer/director tandem of Mark Sherring and Gary McKendry, the resulting adaptation is a convoluted, overlong action flick with empty pretensions of geopolitical sophistication.
The obfuscation of windows lends an ethereal quality to figures inside of an unknown building. The camera slowly moves forward in a search for clarification of these hazy figures and their unknown actions. We are finally close enough to see the smiling faces and camaraderie of these characters as they share a drink. A character approaches the window and the camera quickly recoils in response to his unexpected approach. We have witnessed the observer effect as applied to cinema. The exploration of the greater questions of mortality and the mysteries of life are a monumental task, as merely acting as a passive observer will have unquantifiable effects on the outcome. It is when an artist tries to take an easy path to these difficult questions through clumsy metaphors or absolute certainty of the nature of the world that the work loses its power. Once Upon a Time in Anatolia is a film that is aware of this effect, and chooses instead to contemplate on the boundless mystery found in the movement of leaves in the wind or the revelations found by staring at the eyes of a person as they try to put meaning to that which cannot be understood.
A beautiful woman watches a tall, brooding man playing a game of craps at a casino. She watches him out of the corner of her eye as he rolls the pair of dice. When their eyes eventually meet, the man’s mouth lifts into a tiny smile. This wordless exchange lasts only a couple of moments, but the powerful connection between the two leads at the centre of Born to Kill is undeniably palpable.
Resuming in both tone and narrative from where its predecessor left off, Don 2: The King Is Back tells the immensely satisfying—and gleefully amoral—story of master criminal Don’s attempt to stay one step ahead of the cops and the entire criminal underworld, and play both parties against each other, resulting in all of them wanting him dead (even if the cops will settle for jail.) Shahrukh Khan looks to be having an indecent amount of fun in the lead, as a genuinely bad person for whom an audience cannot help but root for, in part because the character is so good at being bad, but in arguably greater part because he’s being played by one of the greatest movie stars currently breathing air.
With its tightly coiled narrative and top-notch cast, Crossfire is a slow-burning crime drama and unlikely “social message film” with a noir twist. Based on the controversial Richard Brooks novel The Brick Foxhole, screenwriter John Paxton re-teamed with director Edward Dymtryk after the success of their 1944 noir classic, Murder, My Sweet. This time around religious bigotry takes centre stage, as intolerance is unearthed among a group of soldiers recently returned from the Second World War.
With the imminent release of Bollywood star Shahrukh Khan’s Don 2: The Chase Continues, the time is right to revisit Don: The Chase Begins Again, the picture to which Don 2 is, as can be easily determined, the sequel. Don itself has historical precedent, being a remake of the 1978 Amitabh Bachchan classic of the same name (and to a lesser extent, the 1980 Tamil remake Billa, starring the legendary Superstar Rajnikanth.) The attempt to remake Don alone was a declaration by Shahrukh Khan that he was a star of the same caliber as Bachchan and Rajnikanth, which is to say, one of the greats in the history of Indian cinema. That audacity alone would have made Don: The Chase Begins Again an “event movie,” even were it not for Shahrukh Khan’s star power.