Double Feature

Glenn Criddle

glenn criddle | cynical celluloid | june 2018

Breaking In

Following the loss of her father, a mother of two kids, Shaun, visits her childhood home in order to sell it. That evening a gang of thieves invade the house and take the kids hostage leaving Shaun having to break into the fortress-like house to save their lives.

“Breaking In” isn't exactly original; in fact, we've seen this film a dozen times before. It's a very basic “home invasion” movie that bears plenty of resemblance to the likes of “Panic Room,” “Fight for your Life” or “The Purge” though thankfully this is a much leaner and more efficient effort than the latter. Don't take the lack of originality to be an entirely bad thing as “Breaking In” does do its job rather well, at least for a more mainstream film, and there's plenty of tension along the way in this game of cat and mouse. So does it break any new ground? Well, not really. It's tempting to point to the central character and the fact that she's a black woman and be impressed but it has been done before, not that it's a bad thing to have in this film at this time, though. As a point of due praise, social politics is not really made an issue of here and aside from a few fairly low-key lines, there's next to no reliance on who or what they are, which is for the best in this film. It's all incidental; it's the story that's important here. I also have to say that the performances are rather good and especially impressive are the young actors that play the kids. They are perfectly believable and even quite charming on screen. Casting kids is quite a challenge and a great job was done here. The villains vary from near cartoonish levels of crazy to quietly menacing and are quite nicely balanced in that respect while the central character of Shaun, played by Gabrielle Union, is pretty cool, possibly a little too cool on occasions, but certainly makes for a charming heroic type that could happily stand alongside most female heroes that I can think of.

Minor niggles for me would be that the story is fairly unremarkable and even feels like many punches were drawn. It's a mainstream movie, I get it, but the whole thing feels restrained to the point of frustration on occasions and that's a shame. This may not bother the intended audience but if, like me, you've experienced much more of the genre than this film then you'll notice quite how much is borrowed here and how much it steers away from the sometimes necessary unpleasantness that accompanies this kind of story.

Overall though, it's a well-paced, well-made and often exciting film that's definitely worthy of a few bucks being dropped on it. It's not the best of the genre, but it's a long way from being the worst and is certainly a great introduction to those uninitiated to the home invasion genre.

Deadpool 2

The 'Merc with the Mouth' is back and after tragedy strikes his life following the revenge of some of his enemies he's persuaded to join the X-Men. When he confronts a new young mutant who's having 'problems, he winds up having to look after him in the mutant prison called “the ice box.” Only thing is, the prisoners aren't the only one after him, a time traveling assassin has come back to kill him.

A lot has been speculated about this second chapter of the R-rated super-hero over the last few months with behind the scenes stories about the original “Deadpool” director leaving and Ryan Reynolds going off in his own direction have cast a bit of shade over what to expect. Was all the hand-wringing worthwhile? Well, for the most part not really. First off, I enjoyed this film, I love the character, the self-referential humor and the breaking of the fourth wall, it's all good, well, most of it anyway. The walk away feeling for me was that if you like the first one then you'll like this but if you didn't like the first one then this would do nothing to change your mind. For fans, aside from it benefiting from a bit more studio indulgence, this is more of the same, plus a little bit more, and there are also a few surprisingly touching moments that caught me off guard. “Deadpool 2” manages to widen it's universe enough to freshen things up a little with the expansion of the character roster, many of which are disposed of in as irreverent a way as possible and some amusingly brief appearances from familiar faces (Brad Pitt gets almost literally a couple of frames of screen time). Thankfully the familiar characters do get further explored as well, which is very welcome.

The humor is just as juvenile and crass as before, as it should be, though there are a couple of jokes and one scene in particular that go just that bit close to the edge, even for my rather robust tastes and I certainly won't ever be able to look at “Basic Instinct” in quite the same way again. Where the film falls down a bit is that it sometimes has to labor against the very thing that makes it popular: the humor. While thankfully the jokes do occasionally get put aside for the action or the more significant character moments, there are many occasions where everything has the brakes put on for a Ryan Reynolds comedy routine, some of which works, some of which just drags things to a snail's pace and the film can often feel compromised by this and the somewhat drawn out and meandering story. None of this kills the film for me, though, I like “Deadpool,” its flaws are part of its character in some ways, and it's nice to have a superhero film that doesn't feel the need to have the portentous aspirations of its big-budget brothers.

He's British so forgive the extra U's and the use of the letter S instead of Z. If there's one thing that typifies Glenn's writing it's the 'Video Nasties,' a long list of movies that offended all and sunder during the 1980s in the UK. It's those seemingly offensive fringes of cinema that informed his writing on cinema and the more political area of censorship with a more sympathetic approach to those films that push the limits of taste. But don't worry, he does talk about normal stuff too and isn't likely to go off on a horror movie fuelled rampage.

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