Tag Archives: Idris Elba

On second thought: ‘Pacific Rim’

This bad boy makes deep-sea fishing an adventure.

This bad boy makes deep-sea fishing an adventure.

What I thought of Pacific Rim after my initial viewing: I thought it sucked up one side and down the other. The human performances were lacking at best. The fight scenes were slow, clunky and uninteresting. Not a fan.

What I think of Pacific Rim after my second viewing: I’ve softened a bit on the Jaeger-Kaiju fights. I think I was heavily biased due to my distaste for the Transformers franchise, a quartet of flicks that specialize in fight scenes that are mostly just metal clashing at high speed. The hand-to-hand nature of Jaeger-Kaiju combat came across better on second viewing, and the sheer enormity of the robots and creatures made the scale of the fisticuffs that much more impressive.

However, I’m still largely unimpressed by the human performances. Charlie Day works as comedic relief (although I have to admit I kept hoping he’d break out his It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia rat-basher and take it to the Kaiju), as does his fellow scientist Gottlieb, played by Burn Gorman. Ron Perlman is big, bold and brash as Kaiju leftover parts salesman Hannibal Chau, but his screen time is limited. Idris Elba, one of my favorite actors, is under-used but solid given with what little the script offers. The Jaeger pilots are largely cardboard cutouts, and our pilot hero, Raleigh, as played by Charlie Hunman (Sons of Anarchy) is a waste of space. Day, Gorman, Perlman and Elba all elevate their weak roles and lackluster dialogue with their solid performances. Hunman is unable to do the same, lacking subtlety in a very by-the-numbers performance.

Final thought: Not a great movie, but it’s a pretty damn fine collection of big bodies battling.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The best show you’re not watching

Stringer Bell turns cop? Yup, it's about as awesome as you'd expect.

Stringer Bell turns cop? Yup, it’s about as awesome as you’d expect.

The third – and likely final – season of the BBC’s cop drama, Luther, is now wrapped up. If you haven’t seen Luther, here’s five reasons why you should check it out.

1. IDRIS ELBA. Idris Elba hit mainstream consciousness with his turn as Stringer Bell in the amazing American series The Wire, since popping up in films such as Thor, Pacific Rim and Prometheus. Elba’s Bell was a smooth-talking business student intent on helping his drug dealing partner Avon Barksdale go legit. Stringer is self-assured, intelligent, calculating, even-tempered. Elba’s Luther, the title character, is none of that. His life is a wreck professionally and privately. His passion and temper have driven away his wife and alienated most who would or could call him friend. His brilliance as an investigator is never denied, but he is a nightmare politically and tends to work in the gray areas on the fringe, a positioning that makes him a target of those who live and work strictly by the book.

What strikes me every time I watch Elba is how he physically inhabits John Luther. Luther wears his emotions in his gait, in his face. When the trail is hot and the evidence is fresh, Luther stalks the bad guy, a muscular predator tensed, ready to pounce. When he fails, when someone dies and he could have prevented it, the life is sucked from him, his trademark 3/4-length jacket just a husk on a desiccated, lifeless, drained soul. Luther’s body language and facial expressions are so honest, so of the moment, that when Luther occasionally does resort to some sort of subterfuge, it’s shocking.

What most saddens me about the end of Luther is that I won’t get to see Elba continue to evolve and own this role. Sad.

2. THE CRIMES. I won’t ruin any of the crimes Luther investigates, because it’s part of the fun seeing the investigations unfold. That said, they’re a step-up from the pedestrian plots of shows like CSI and Law & Order.

3. THE STORY. The crimes are just a front, though. What Luther is really about is how John Luther’s handling of said crimes affects him and those who work with him, care about him. Luther’s ruthless dedication professionally matches the passion of his friendships and romantic interests. And while that makes him interesting, that passion is ultimately his failing. It blinds him, it drives him relentlessly and destroys many of those around him. It paints a target on him, both for those who would see him fail and for those whom he encounters in his work.

4. JUSTIN. Played earnestly by Warren Brown, Justin is hard to pin down. Often, he seems the loyal and more even-tempered counterpart of Luther. But at times, his loyalty is to be questioned. Justin is the young cop trying to find his way, a little naive, but smart enough to understand that following Luther blindly could be the end of him. Is Justin with Luther or against him? Only time will tell.

5. THE AWESOMENESS THAT IS RUTH WILSON. British actress Ruth Wilson plays sociopath Alice Morgan, the one criminal who evades Luther’s investigative prowess. In the process, Alice gains a an appreciation for Luther. Alice has no morals, but she is fascinated by Luther’s strong moral dedication. She admires him for it. And in that, an unlikely bond is formed between lawman and lawbreaker. It’s a relationship that hangs over the show, even when Alice is nowhere to be seen.

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,