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Neil Fox on film: Lawless, Dredd, Anna Karenina

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Lawless

One of the most intriguing and downright entertaining films of the year – if you can stand the violence – is this Prohibition era-tale from John Hillcoat and Nick Cave, who brought us the bleak majesty of The Proposition and the adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road.

An all star cast featuring Tom Hardy, Shia LaBeouf as two of three Bondurant brothers who make their way as bootleggers, struggling to get away from the clutches of their boss (Gary Oldman) and a weird authority figure (Guy Pearce).

Great performances all round even if the film can’t quite sustain its early pace, it’s still a blast. Smart, enjoyable filmmaking.

Dredd

For once, this is a remake that is not unwelcome – anything to wash away the disaster of Stallone’s attempt to bring the cult British comic classic to the screen.

Thankfully, this mostly achieves its aim of being a decent, faithful adaptation.

Karl Urban is the infamous Judge, trying to take down a gang peddling a dangerous drug.

It looks great, sounds great and is mostly a lot of fun.

It’s no Dark Knight Rises or Avengers, but equally, it doesn’t have Rob Schneider in it.

Anna Karenina

Smug British director Joe Wright steps back in time to his comfort zone following the poor American efforts Hanna and The Soloist. His tackling of the Russian classic, adapted by the great Tom Stoppard, hits all the expected notes.

It’s solid, sumptuous looking and well performed by lacking soul and imagination and ultimately, unnecessary.

Still, Wright and lead Keira Knightley are back where they are happiest, in elite period costume and setting.

It’s just a shame that the classic text is rendered so, well, classically, and no attempt at modern relevance is made.

 

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