MOVIES & BOOZE: Heading to the cinema this weekend?

Sarina Bellissimo reviews 'Skyscraper' and 'Hotel Artemis'...

 Skyscraper

Put simply,“Skyscraper” is a film where Dwayne Johnson is forced to fight the bad guys in order to save his family from a burning skyscraper, and clear his name.

If you want more detail, Johnson is Will Sawyer, a U.S. war veteran and former FBI Hostage Rescue Team leader who now assesses security in skyscrapers. While working on the tallest and, supposedly, safest building in the world, in China – the building bursts into flames and he's been framed for it. Not only must he clear his name, but he has to find those responsible and rescue his family from the burning building.

In watching Skyscraper, it occurred to me that Dwayne Johnson is turning into this era’s, Sylvester Stallone. That is not to be read as an insult as I think Sly is one of the greatest action heroes ever. Both Sly and Johnson have everything you want from an action hero – heart, passion, rage, and rescue and survival skills. In this film I got subtle hints of “Cliffhanger”, “Rambo” and even “Rocky” (no he’s not a boxer but the love he has for his wife Stella (Neve Campbell), is that ferocious love Rocky has for Adrian).

Like in Stallone’s films, there are unrealistic action/heroic feats in this film that only Johnson can get away with. Leaping from tall building to tall building, going all MacGyver like in being creative with gaffer tape, turning the most unlikely itemsinto weapons, and even running repairs on his own body is totally believable when it comes to Johnson. The only time you hear yourself calling “as if”, is when someone is almost beating him in a fight – although, and there is no need to call spoiler alert here, we all know that is quickly rectified!

This film isn’t all about Johnson, however – Neve Campbell shines too. Thanks to House of Cards, her career is having a renaissance and it’s great to see her back and kicking butt in this film!

We’ve seen this type of film before – sure, Dwayne Johnson has starred in many films like this himself, however, “Skyscraper” is still one to see.Even though you know where it’s going – there are still surprises thrown in. Just when you think nothing more can happen it does. It is far fetched but it works.

“Skyscraper” is a fun, sometimes very brutal (the body count rapidly rises),visually exciting, fast paced, action film that gives it’s audience exactly what they’re looking for.

Hotel Artemis

 

“Hotel Artemis” is a safe haven for criminals. It is where they can pay a membership and know that if they’ve been wounded after “battle”, “The Nurse” (Jodie Foster) will be there to fix them up. There are rules at the Hotel to keep the criminals in line and make sure everyone walks away healed and safe. But, what happens when the rules are broken?

Jodie Foster leads a great cast which includes Sterling K. Brown, Sofia Boutella, Jeff Goldblum, Zachary Quinto, Charlie Day, and Dave Bautista.

We don’t see enough of Foster on the big screen these days but when we do, we are reminded of her brilliance. She plays the broken nurse, whose need to look after everyone else keeps her going, to perfection. To paraphrase Ronan Keating, she “says it best, when she says nothing at all.” Watching her onscreen is an acting master class.

But this is not just a vehicle for Foster to shine in – and if I was to be honest, the reason why I liked the film as much as I did, is because of Foster and her support cast, which includes the always awesome Jeff Goldblum; the surprisingly good and affable Dave Bautista;and someone who is taking Hollywood by storm right now, thanks to TV’s “This Is Us”, Sterling K Brown (playing someone very different to what you see on that show!)

In a year of sequels, remakes, re-imaginings, it is so good to see a studio backing originality. Yes, this is a type of film we’ve all seen on screen before but it feels fresh because we’ve never met this motley crew of misfits before. Hotel Artemis does what it says on the tin – it has killer action, is fast paced, and surprisingly touching at times. At just over 90mins, this action/thriller is the (indie) blockbuster that summer calls for. It’s not a hotel I’d like to be checking into but I am happy to go along for the ride.

Sarina Bellissimo