Tag Archives: James McAvoy

Atomic Blonde (2017) Review

Time: 115 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Contains graphic violence, sex scenes, offensive language & nudity
Cast
Charlize Theron as Lorraine Broughton
James McAvoy as David Percival
John Goodman as Emmett Kurzfeld
Til Schweiger as The Watchmaker
Eddie Marsan as Spyglass
Sofia Boutella as Delphine Lasalle
Toby Jones as Eric Gray
Bill Skarsgård as Merkel
Director: David Leitch

Sensual and savage, Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron) is the most elite spy in MI6, an agent who’s willing to use all of her lethal skills to stay alive during an impossible mission. With the Berlin Wall about to fall, she travels into the heart of the city to retrieve a priceless dossier and take down a ruthless espionage ring. Once there, she teams up with an embedded station chief to navigate her way through the deadliest game of spies.

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While one half of the directors of John Wick continued with the sequel, the other half (David Leitch) worked on an adaptation of a graphic novel titled The Coldest City which resulted in Atomic Blonde. With the talent of the director, as well as the talent of actors involved such as Charlize Theron and James McAvoy, how could I not be excited? And it lived up to expectations. The actors were great in their roles (particularly Theron and McAvoy), the story was interesting enough and David Leitch’s direction were all great.

Atomic Blonde’s plot isn’t anything special but it works for the movie. There is enough twists to keep you invested in what’s going on from start to finish. Whether all the twists will hold up on a second viewing remains to be seen. The plot kept me pretty interested throughout and I was consistently entertained. One last thing I want to address, I know a lot of people will go into Atomic Blonde expecting Jane Wick but don’t, Theron’s Lorraine Broughton is not like John Wick, and the world that this film is isn’t the criminal underworld from the John Wick universe. The only thing similar in both the John Wick films and Atomic Blonde is the excellent direction. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, it’s just different. No, Atomic Blonde doesn’t have the fascinating world that John Wick has, but it doesn’t need to. For what the movie that it was aiming to be, Atomic Blonde succeeded very well.

Charlize Theron absolutely owns her role as Lorraine Broughton, she’s fantastic in her action sequences and actingwise she is fantastic as well, she really does have a screen presence. She steals every scene she’s in. However another showstealer is James McAvoy, who is also great in his role as a very wild, shady and morally ambiguous character. There were times when both McAvoy and Theron were on screen and I couldn’t tell who stole the show more. McAvoy was definitely one of the highlights of the film. Other actors like Sofia Boutella, Toby Jones, John Goodman and Eddie Marsan were really good in their roles.

David Leitch’s direction naturally is great. This movie like John Wick is very stylised and was one of the highlights of the film. Unsurprising the action is great with the cinematography capturing all the action clearly, the stunts and choreography looked genuine especially from Charlize Theron and they were very entertaining overall. Probably the most standout action sequence is inside a apartment and at a stairwell later in the movie, it is brutal and unrelenting. It is also a long 7 minute unbroken take (or at least appears to be). That was the best action sequence in the film, so incredibly done. I guess maybe the only negative I can say that its not consistent as to whether the action scenes are stylistic or realistic and brutal and they feel distinctly different from each other but that’s a minor issue. The soundtrack is also really great, along with Tyler Bates’s score, there is a bunch of classic songs that play very well in the film.

Atomic Blonde is a really good action movie, the actors was good, Theron and McAvoy stole the show and it had some truly great action sequences. For those wondering, no, I wouldn’t quite consider it at the level of quality of the John Wick movies but honestly it doesn’t need to be. I actually wouldn’t mind a sequel to Atomic Blonde if it actually happens, I would love to see more of Lorrain Broughton in action. To repeat a point I said before, don’t go in expecting Female John Wick, maybe expect the similar action but that’s it, Atomic Blonde is its own thing, and I’m glad it is.

Split (2017) Review

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Time: 117 Minutes
Age Rating: 2773-o[1] Violence, horror and content that may disturb
Cast:
James McAvoy as Kevin Wendell Crumb
Anya Taylor-Joy as Casey Cooke
Betty Buckley as Dr. Karen Fletcher
Haley Lu Richardson as Claire Benoit
Jessica Sula as Marcia
Director: M. Night Shyamalan

While the mental divisions of those with dissociative identity disorder have long fascinated and eluded science, it is believed that some can also manifest unique physical attributes for each personality, a cognitive and physiological prism within a single being. Though Kevin (James McAvoy) has evidenced 23 personalities to his trusted psychiatrist, Dr. Fletcher (Betty Buckley), there remains one still submerged who is set to materialize and dominate all the others. Compelled to abduct three teenage girls led by the willful, observant Casey (Ana Taylor Joy), Kevin reaches a war for survival among all of those contained within him – as well as everyone around him – as the walls between his compartments shatter apart.

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Split was one of my most anticipated films of 2017. M. Night Shyamalan has been starting to make a comeback with The Visit and from the trailers, Split looked like it has a lot of potential. James McAvoy particularly looks like he was going to give a tremendous performance. Having seen Split, I can say that M. Night Shyamalan is officially back. This film was so great, with great acting, excellent direction and a mostly riveting story. Although it’s not quite the level of greatness of The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable, Split comes very close. It has some issues but the pros absolutely outweigh the cons.

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I will say that the first act of this movie is a little weak. It just didn’t really have me riveted all the time, the dialogue felt a little awkward at times and it was just okay overall, though McAvoy kept me interested enough. By the second act however, I was incredibly invested in what is going on. Shyamalan keeps everything riveting. Shyamalan in his films often makes the mistake of just having character spurt exposition, telling the audience information. Save for one scene with Betty Buckley in a Skype conversation, Shyamalan handles the information distribution a lot better, giving little tidbits of info, trusting the audience to follow along. This movie has a surprising amount of comedy, most of the time it works. A lot of it is about how odd and strange the situations are, which I like, Shyamalan knows that a lot of the film can be a little weird and he has fun with it. One other thing to note is that Anya Taylor Joy’s character does have some flashbacks to her past. While I understand the importance of them, I felt like they could’ve been done a little better. They felt mostly out of place and the choice of flashbacks could’ve been better. Now this film mostly is realistic but at a point it goes in a ‘different direction’. You really have to just go along with this direction, even if it feels jarring. The ending for me made this direction make sense. This ending of the movie is going to divide some people. I personally think it’s amazing. Let’s just say that if you’re a fan of Shyamalan’s earlier work, your mind will be blown. However it’s understandable that many people don’t understand the meaning of the ending. If you watch Split and don’t get understand it, just look it up.

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This is the best performance I’ve ever seen James McAvoy give. He had to portray 9 (of the 23) personalities, all with unique quirks, mannerisms and aspects to them. Not only that but he had to make it all feel real, not just cartoony and crazy. Sometimes during one shot he’d change from one to the other and you can really tell when this happens, all the personalities are very distinct. This couldn’t have been easy to pull off. There’s particularly one scene in the third act which really shows how fantastic of an actor he is. Definitely one of the best performances I’ve seen in a long time. Anya Taylor Joy was also incredible as the main girl Casey. As previously stated, her character has a backstory, a pretty unfortunate backstory to say the least. Without revealing anything, Anya was very convincing as her and it was easy to follow her character. Betty Buckley plays Kevin’s psychiatrist and she was also great, especially in her scenes with McAvoy. If there’s any weak parts in terms of acting, it’s the other kidnapped girls. They weren’t horrendous but they are like typical horror movie girls, there wasn’t anything really to them.

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The cinematography is fantastic but that’s not surprising, since Shyamalan brought on the Cinematographer of It Follows. So naturally it looks great. The music by West Dylan Thordson was also really effective. Shyamalan really knows how to make situations creepy and unsettling, despite some issues in the story, I can’t really say at any point in the movie the direction faltered because it doesn’t really. This film has many legitimately scary moments, and went further than I thought it would.

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Now as I said this movie does have some problems with regards to its story really in the first act. However, all the positives of the film are so great that I almost forget about these issues. Everything from the acting, direction and most of the story made this such a surprising and great movie. And let’s just say that after the ending, I’m hyped for M. Night Shyamalan’s next project. However this movie is not really for everyone, just a heads up.

X-Men Apocalypse (2016) Review

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X-Men Apocalypse

Time: 144 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence, Offensive Language and Content that May Disturb
Cast:
James McAvoy as Professor Charles Xavier/Professor X
Michael Fassbender as Erik Lehnsherr/Magneto
Jennifer Lawrence as Raven Darkhölme/Mystique
Nicholas Hoult as Hank McCoy/Beast
Rose Byrne as Moira MacTaggert
Tye Sheridan as Scott Summers/Cyclops
Sophie Turner as Jean Grey/Phoenix
Olivia Munn as Elizabeth Braddock/Psylocke
Lucas Till as Alex Summers/Havok
Director: Bryan Singer

Worshiped as a god since the dawn of civilization, the immortal Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac) becomes the first and most powerful mutant. Awakening after thousands of years, he recruits the disheartened Magneto (Michael Fassbender) and other mutants to create a new world order. As the fate of the Earth hangs in the balance, Professor X (James McAvoy) and Raven (Jennifer Lawrence) lead a team of young X-Men to stop their seemingly invincible nemesis from destroying mankind.

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X-Men Apocalypse has been one of my most anticipated films of the year, with director Bryan Singer returning from Days of Future Past along with his very talented cast. So does it deliver on its promises? Absolutely. This is so far one of my favourite films of the year and it’s in at least my top 3 in the X-Men series. There are some minor flaws in regards to the treatment of some of the characters, but for the most part, X-Men Apocalypse gets almost everything right.

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This is definitely the darkest X-Men movie yet with what happens to Magneto in the beginning, some of the deaths and not to mention that it’s the end of the world (obviously), there are some moments which were surprisingly dark and violent and I like the guts that the film had to go there. To offset the seriousness and grimness was the humour, which is also integrated very well, at no point does it feel forced in at all like it sometimes does with other comic book movies. One problem I have is some of the characters don’t get to be developed fully, a key example is Apocalypse’s ‘horsemen’ aside from Magneto. Storm, Archangel and Psylocke join him on his quest to take over Earth… just because. What’s worse is that the decisions that Storm makes doesn’t make much sense, especially when you factor in the fact that she’d eventually join the X-Men. However it’s easy to see why some characters are better developed than others, seeing as Singer had to handle so many characters at once.

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The cast from the previous two movies return and are usual great. James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender are unsurprisingly incredible in their roles. Evan Peters returns in the role of Quicksilver and like last time, he stole the show, he is just so enjoyable to watch. He gets a much bigger role than in DOFP and is again great, I can’t wait to see more of him as the films progress. Before going into this movie I was a little concerned about Jennifer Lawrence, because it looked like they were taking her character in a different direction, part of the cases made I agree with. She’s fine in the movie, though I don’t think that this was the best direction for the character and I wouldn’t lose any sleep if she left the franchise. There are also some recasting of previous X-Men movies, as well as some new characters. Sophie Turner as Jean Grey, Tye Sheridan as Cyclops and Kodi Smit-McPhee as Nightcrawler were perfectly cast, I can’t wait to see what the future holds for them. Oscar Isaac was so incredibly great as Apocalypse. The trailers did him a disservice and made him look like a generic ‘end the world’ villain but there is so much more to him. This character is so larger than life but Isaac manages to balance out the ‘bigger’ moments with the more subtle moments, he was definitely one of the highlights of the movie. While I felt that they didn’t get their chance to show off more due to not much being written for them, Alexander Shipp and Olivia Munn did great work with what they were given, and acted well enough for me to say that I’m looking forward to seeing them in the sequels.

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Bryan Singer directs X-Men movies excellently and he does it once again with Apocalypse. All of the action is so entertaining and many are amongst the best scenes in the series. I think a special scene that should get a shout out is the opening scene, which is a flashback which takes place at Egypt, everything in that sequence was done incredibly. I have to say, before seeing this movie I didn’t think it was possible for there to be a Quicksilver scene that tops the one in Days of Future Past. With Apocalypse, I’ve been proven wrong, all I’ll say is that it is excellently done and was one of the most memorable parts of the film. This film has the most destruction out of any of the X-Men movies, sometimes that’s shown off well, but there are times where the CGI and greenscreen looked a little fake, most of the time it really works though.

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I am so glad to say that X-Men Apocalypse is one of the best films in the series. With the entertaining action scenes and excellent portrayals of these characters (for the most part), X-Men Apocalypse is a movie that you absolutely must see. Don’t let the critics’ mixed reviews sway you, go out and see it for yourself. If you love the X-Men films, I have a feeling that you’ll enjoy this film as well.

X-Men: First Class (2011) Review

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X-Men First Class

Time: 132 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
James McAvoy as Charles Xavier/Professor X
Michael Fassbender as Erik Lensherr/Magneto
Rose Byrne as Moira MacTaggert
Jennifer Lawrence as Raven Darkhölme/Mystique
January Jones as Emma Frost
Nicholas Hoult as Dr. Hank McCoy/Beast
Oliver Platt as Man In Black Suit
Kevin Bacon as Dr. Klaus Schmidt/Sebastian Shaw
Director: Matthew Vaughn

In the early 1960s, during the height of the Cold War, a mutant named Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) meets a fellow mutant named Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender). Despite their vastly different backgrounds — Charles grew up with a wealthy family, while Erik lost his parents at Auschwitz — the two become close friends. As the world teeters on the brink of a nuclear war, Charles and Erik with other mutants join forces to save humanity. However, a situation soon tears the friends apart.

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Superhero prequels are often doomed to fail, which is why some people were a little sceptical of this movie actually being good. The fact that it had an entirely new cast and look (not to mention that it came after X Men 3 and X Men Origins Wolverine which were the lowest points of the series), didn’t help. However with Matthew Vaughn as director, he actually ended up creating one of the best X Men movies. The talented cast (many of which played already established characters) did a fantastic job and the story ties into the X Men franchise very well.

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One problem I had with the original X Men trilogy is the lack of proper characterisation, aside from a few characters like Wolverine and Rogue, there were many characters that weren’t that developed. First Class was the first X Men film that fixed that issue, sure there are characters that don’t get fully explored but most of the main characters are established well, and that’s a huge step forward when compared to the previous movies. There definitely are some inconsistencies with the plot when compared to some of the other movies (such as with the flashback in X Men 3) but I was able to overlook that.

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The casting was excellent. James McAvoy as Xavier and Michael Fassbender as Magneto are really in the forefront of the movie and they are terrific. You can really buy their friendship and you can tell how this would carry over into the original trilogy. Jennifer Lawrence was also great as Mystique, I know a lot of people prefer Rebecca Romjin’s Mystique but while she looked the part she wasn’t given any depth whatsoever. Lawrence gets to actually explore the character, and she did a great job. Kevin Bacon actually was good as the main villain, the way his character tied into Magneto’s past was so great. The only casting I had a little bit of a problem with was January Jones as Emma Frost, she didn’t feel very believable and felt a little fake. That was the only miscast of the movie, everyone else was great.

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The action scenes are great (no surprise there) but something felt different, Vaughn’s directed action scenes added something special. This film had some very memorable moments, the last act features many mutant battles and it is glorious to watch. The soundtrack by Henry Jackman was also really good, it feels big, grand and epic.

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X Men First Class was a lot better than what we initially thought it would be. With a very talented cast, a pretty good story and Matthew Vaughn’s direction, this movie was a solid entry in the X Men franchise. I honestly think that it’s better than any of the original trilogy, though not quite better than X-Men Days of Future Past, which I’ll review soon. I’ll just say this though, people claim that it’s X-Men Days of Future Past which brought the X-Men franchise back for good but for me it was First Class that achieved that.

Filth (2013) Review

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Filth

Time: 97 Minutes
Age Rating:
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Cast:
James McAvoy as Bruce Robertson
Jamie Bell as Ray Lennox
Eddie Marsan Clifford Blades
Imogen Poots as Amanda Drummond
Brian McCardie as Dougie Gillman
Emun Elliott as Peter Inglis
Gary Lewis as Gus Bain
John Sessions as Bob Toal
Shauna Macdonald as Carole Robertson
Jim Broadbent as Dr Rossi
Director: Jon S. Baird

Scheming Bruce Robertson (James McAvoy), a bigoted and corrupt policeman, is in line for a promotion and will stop at nothing to get what he wants. Enlisted to solve a brutal murder and threatened by the aspirations of his colleagues, including Ray Lennox (Jamie Bell), Bruce sets about ensuring their ruin, right under the nose of unwitting Chief Inspector Toal (John Sessions). As he turns his colleagues against one another by stealing their wives and exposing their secrets, Bruce starts to lose himself in a web of deceit that he can no longer control. His past is slowly catching up with him, and a missing wife, a crippling drug habit and suspicious colleagues start to take their toll on his sanity.

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Based on the book of the same name by Irvine Welsh, Filth lives up to its title with flying colours. The film by itself is pretty good, but it’s the performance by James McAvoy that really makes the movie. It’s not a film for the easily offended but if you are up to it, you may find yourself really liking it.

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Filth for the most part follows Bruce Robertson. There are a lot of subplots (like the murder he’s assigned and getting the promotion) but for me, the main focus is Bruce’s descent. I think in terms of how Filth is marketed, it’s kind of like how In Bruges was marketed. Both looked like at first straight up comedies, when in reality both of them have dark elements to them. The comedy starts to die down at the halfway point of the movie as Bruce’s demons start reappearing in his life. Don’t get me wrong, the comedy is good when it’s there, it’s not the best dark comedy I’ve seen but it was well done. However I most captivated by the deep story and I personally like the second half more than the first. The movie can be emotionally captivating at times and it was well put together, especially the ending which was effective and really well done.

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James McAvoy here gives so far the best performance of his career. Bruce Robertson at first seems like the most unlikable character ever, he’s so corrupt that he’d make Nicolas Cage in Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans look like a boy scout. Despite this, McAvoy manages to convey many emotional moments and moments of empathy for this, at times reprehensible character. Without spoiling anything, Bruce Robertson has a lot of issues, all which are shown in the movie. So much of this movie relies on the main character, and James McAvoy managed to do really well in this. Other cast members like Jamie Bell, Jim Broadbent, Eddie Marsan and Imogen Poots are also great in their scenes and do great jobs to stand out.

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The movie looks great and it is neatly edited together. A lot of the film is seen from Bruce’s perspective, so it helps that the whole movie is narrated by James McAvoy. Also, as time goes on, Bruce starts hallucinating things, sometimes he looks in a mirror and sees a pig, at one point he sees a tapeworm creature. These images I felt were surprisingly when they appeared and were well done as we see what Bruce sees. The soundtrack is also well put together, whether it be Clint Mansell’s score or other music put into it.

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For first time director Jon S. Baird, Filth was pretty good. It is definitely not for everyone, its main character may turn some people off and it does have some lurid content. Even if you’re not certain whether or not to watch it, it’s worth watching it for the well put together character of Bruce Robertson and acting by James McAvoy.