Hardly cinematic masterpieces, the ‘Hangover’ films have been huge hits. With a trio of boys behaving badly, how they land in and detract themselves from bizarre situations has conjured many laughs. Although still wallowing in a hovel of low-brow crudity, ‘The Hangover Part 3’ manages some semblance of wit. Coupled with a more engaging plot upon which to hang the mirth, it proves a good final outing for this very naughty series.
Phil (Bradley Cooper) and Stuart (Ed Helms) are worried about their friend Alan (Zach Galifianakis) whose life appears to be spiralling out of control. While taking him to a rehabilitation clinic they are kidnapped by dangerous mobster Marshall (John Goodman) who demands they retrieve some gold stolen from him by their old acquaintance Leslie Chow (Ken Jeong). Tracking him to Las Vegas what follows becomes an outrageous adventure for the self-proclaimed Wolf-pack.
After its disappointingly familiar second entry, the Hangover series concludes with a spring in its step. Slightly changing its popular formula, it has a welcome energetic freshness. The cast’s courage in doing anything for a laugh is noticeable as they succeed in making their roles unique. You never know what their weird and colourful characters will do next which is part of the fun. Even when events become increasingly absurd you still believe in them with their strange foibles helping or hindering their quest.
You don’t see these films for anything thought-provoking – it aims for laughs which this one mostly succeeds at delivering. Occasional flat spots surface although the general silliness carries the momentum. It continues strands from previous films and still pushes the envelope against political correctness. This quality makes it stand out with its bold humour preferable to playing it safe. Director Todd Phillips establishes a quick rhythm with the Las Vegas scenery looking suitably alluring as America’s ‘city of sin’.
‘The Hangover Part 3’ is enjoyable and far-fetched nonsense. It ensures the series goes out on a high and should amuse those who have endured the comical capers of a very odd trio.
Rating out of 10: 7
Filled with shady characters after vengeance or fortune, the film-noir genre has been enduringly popular. Films such as ‘The Maltese Falcon’ and ‘Double Indemnity’ still sparkle with their plot twists and double-crosses. Although little used of late, recent movies have dabbled in its seductive flavour. ‘Dead Man Down’ does a fine job in updating this formula with mysterious women and crooked men battling against sinister forces existing within a deadly moral code.
Infiltrating the criminal empire of dangerous kingpin Alphonse (Terrence Howard), Victor (Colin Farrell) is out for revenge. Determined to make him pay for killing his wife and daughter, Victor is hell-bent on destruction. His plans are altered when he discovers he is being watched by next door neighbour Beatrice (Noomi Rapace) who manipulates Victor in settling a score of her own. With two people consumed by rage, the explosive combination has the potential to spark all-out war.
‘Dead Man Down’ succeeds due to the depths of its characters. Victor and Beatrice are damaged people trapped in a never-ending cycle of hate. Only when they can be free of their destructive obsessions can they truly live again. Their hesitation in destroying their enemies is often painful to view as they seem to realize they may have nothing left after their targets are gone. These emotions are skilfully expressed by Farrell and Rapace who convey genuine chemistry.
Niels Arden Oplev’s direction effectively teases out the constant deadly atmosphere. Having directed the Swedish version of ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ to great heights, it should be no surprise he brings its feeling of pure menace to his first English language film. Whilst certain aspects of the plot are murky in terms of some character’s actions, it never loses sight of their motivation or developing relationships. The cinematography and action sequences aid in articulating their myriad of conflicting emotions.
Those who like stories with lots of twists and turns should enjoy ‘Dead Man Down’. Although occasionally predictable, the performances and stylish direction make this ode to film-noir worth investigating.
Rating out of 10: 8