Idris Elba, Richard Madden face bomb attacks in ‘Bastille Day’

Timely as today’s major concerns on battling terrorism comes the riveting action film “Bastille Day” based on true events starring Idris Elba and Richard Madden out to stop a series of bomb attacks in Paris.

In “Bastille Day,” Michael Mason (Richard Madden from ‘Game of Thrones’) is an American pickpocket living in Paris who finds himself hunted by the CIA when he steals a bag that contains more than just a wallet. Sean Briar (Idris Elba from ‘Luther’ and “Prometheus’), the field agent on the case, soon realizes that Michael is just a pawn in a much bigger game and is also his best asset to uncover a large-scale conspiracy.

Going against commands, Briar recruits Michael to use his expert pickpocketing skills to help quickly track down the source of the corruption. As a 24hr thrill ride ensues, the unlikely duo discover they are both targets and must rely upon each other in order to take down a common enemy.

“Bastille Day” is a story with buried layers – personal, action, and geopolitical – and, even though it’s a very, very fast paced action thriller, it does touch on the anger that a lot of people have in terms of feeling disenfranchised from the political process. You see it in London, you see it in Paris, and it is a big theme in the plot because the bad guys exploit it. As Michael demonstrates to Briar, we live in a world of sleight-of-hand where ‘it’s all about the distraction.’

Taking the lead is Idris Elba as Sean Briar, the CIA operative who has been confined to a desk job in Paris after a mission in the Middle East went wrong. Elba describes Sean Briar as “a CIA veteran, he’s been around for a long time and the posting in Paris is a step down for him after the high profile covert work he was doing before. He’s an army guy who just wants to get the job done and go home. His boss, Karen, instructs him to go and get Michael, who’s the prime suspect in the bombing, but Briar believes that there’s more to the story than that. So he has to follow his hunch even though he’s disobeying orders. These two characters – Briar, and Michael- make for an unlikely duo of heroes. They’re thrown into and are forced to team up and navigate their way through the twists and turns of the impending catastrophe. It’s not just action for action’s sake. It’s an action-packed film; but at the heart, there are characters that you care about and there’s a very compelling storyline. “Bastille Day” feels unique and modern, because it’s a European take on an action film.”

One of the most visually impressive and logistically challenging set pieces is the rooftop chase at the beginning of the film featuring Idris Elba’s character, Sean Briar, and Richard Madden’s character, Michael Mason. The chase starts in Michael’s apartment, moves out and up to the rooftops of Paris and then plummets into the hustle and bustle of a crowded market.

The actors did most of the stunt work, including the fight scenes. Not having to cut between the actors and stuntmen was a way of keeping the film grounded in reality. Stunt coordinator Jimmy O’Dee worked for several weeks with the actors, preparing them for the scene. “Jimmy O’Dee was really specific about being fit,” says Elba. “I’ve never done a film with so many fight sequences before, and I loved it. I have a little martial arts training so it was great fun for me to exercise some of my knowledge. I think the film definitely attempts to be as raw in the fight sequences as we can get. Scrappy was the word I kept hearing. I mean it really feels like you’re in there.”

Join the war against terrorism when “Bastille Day” opens April 20, 2016 in theaters nationwide from Axinite Digicinema.

Jessica Chastain blazes as fierce warrior in ‘The Huntsman: Winter’s War’

Two-time Academy Award® nominee Jessica Chastain (“Zero Dark Thirty,” “The Martian”) has emerged as one of Hollywood’s most sought-after actresses of her generation. Now, she stars opposite Chris Hemsworth, Charlize Theron and Emily Blunt in Universal Pictures’ fantasy adventure “The Huntsman: Winter’s War.”

Finding an actor of an equal caliber to play alongside Hemsworth as Sara, Eric the Huntsman’s true love, was perhaps the production’s greatest challenge. Indeed, a great warrior with a heart as true as Eric’s, Sara required an actress with true power. And Jessica Chastian fits the part brilliantly.

Sara finds it impossible to believe that Eric has remained true to her all these years apart, and refuses to forgive him for what she believes he once did. When she is left with no other choice, she joins him on an epic journey; but she’d just as soon take a knife to his throat as she would trust him again. “She’s trying to figure out if she’s worthy enough to be loved,” explains Chastain. “That’s a big hurdle for her, and she has a lot of trust issues to overcome.”

Chastain admits that she responded immediately to Sara’s journey. “I liked where she began and where she ended,” she states, “and I liked the secrets she holds. It was a character I’d never played before. I like the physicality, and I’ve done a lot of films that are dark and heavy, so I wanted to do something where I’m having a good time. This might be the most fun I’ve ever had.”

The approach to Chastain began at the London Critics’ Circle Film Awards. Hemsworth and Chastain share an agent, and Hemsworth pitched the character and promised to send a script. The actress’ first question, according to Hemsworth, was, “Do I get to kick ass in this movie?”

“She gets to kick a whole lot more butt in this than she’s done in the past,” Hemsworth confirms. “Most of my work in the film is with Jessica. She has a great sense of humor, and we had a good amount of banter back and forth. It was quite brotherly/sisterly at times. We wound each other up, and we had great fun.”

“Jessica brings a huge amount of variety,” says director Cedric Nicolas-Troyan. “Sara wasn’t a character she’d played before, but she gave her all. She wanted to do the training; she wanted to be ready. She came to set knowing those routines, and they are really out there. She spins, kicks and twists her blades, and she loved it. We had a great time filming those scenes together.”

For Chastain, having a director open enough to listen was essential. “I worried if you’re doing a big fantasy film, whether you might lose some of your own reality in it. Reality is the most important thing when I approach a character. But Cedric listened and inspired me, and he would say something that led my character in a new direction. When I asked a question he’d listen and build on that.”

The casting of Theron, Blunt and Chastain demonstrates the emphasis the filmmakers placed on writing strong, complex characters across the board, especially for women. “One of the main reasons I wanted to do the film, in addition to working with Chris, was that it showcased incredible parts for women,” says Chastain, who has long campaigned for more inclusive cinema. “I knew Charlize and Emily were attached when I got the script, and I’m tired of being the only woman on a set. Stories, even fantasy like this, should represent our world, and I was really, really pleased with the fabulous roles for women that were written into this film.”

Concludes Nicolas-Troyan: “This is a female-driven film, even more than the first one. The great thing about Jessica’s character is she doesn’t need saving by the Huntsman. They can be there for one another and kick ass together, but they’re as strong as each other…and stronger together.”

Opening across the Philippines on April 13, 2016, “The Huntsman: Winter’s War” is distributed by United International Pictures through Columbia Pictures.

MOVIE REVIEW: 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)

It would not be hard to revisit the 2008 found-footage disaster movie Cloverfield just to recall the kind of terror it offers. Back then, with the growing popularity of the subgenre, the world has just consequently become saturated with this technique. Among the lot are the good titles like Afflicted, The Sacrement, and the V/H/S installments. Cloverfield may not be flawless of its kind but it remains a memorable monster movie through the years despite its production’s low budget. Rewatching it entails the same courage the face the unknown and deal with the realities of an apocalyptic setting.

With 10 Cloverfield Lane marketed as a “blood relative” of the 2008 film, it just seems necessary to look for similarities: the only thing that can be spilled, though, is that there is a certain vibe in the both films that lingers all throughout. Just like in the first one, tension is an important factor that drives the story of the Manhattan attack forward, but this time around, it takes a different path and presents itself as not just an ordinary follow-up. Indeed, it is an intriguing second chapter to what could be a series of Cloverfield movies in the offing. With a smart story told in a convenient fashion, no one could go wrong with this psychological thriller that exhibits the wondere of a three-character black-box theater production.

10 Cloverfield Lane tells the story of Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) who, following a road accident, finds herself in an underground bunker with her leg chained to the wall. She meets his host Howard Stambler, played by the ever-gritty John Goodman, who claims that he has saved her life not just from the accident but also from an attack that has made the air above the ground intoxicated. Completing the trio is John Gallagher, Jr. who plays Howard’s neighbor Emmett, who has forced himself into the hiding place after having witnessed the attack.

The moment John Goodman’s Howard Stambler cries “Crazy is building the ark after the flood has already come,” the uncertainty about his character is yet again taken to a higher level of ‘crazy.’ Every passing moment of 10 Cloverfield Lane is an exposition of a larger scale of storytelling. However simple the conversations are, every single detail is given enough weight of attention, be it through the smooth movements of the camera or as breadcrumbs leading to a palpable destination (and conversely enjoins threading clues to comprehend the bigger picture).

As claustrophobic as the setting of 10 Cloverfield Lane are the personalities of the three characters involved in an almost whodunnit setup. Every one of them is suspecting the others, keeping in mind that nobody can be trusted and the truth is just around the corner.

Aided by Bear McCreary’s throbbing musical score, the film effectively makes use of this element to heighten the dilemma, the unsound questions and ultimately the uncertainties that the characters live by. Producer J.J. Abrams has yet again provided his audiences with an intelligent output that mirrors the wonders of the now-defunct TV series Fringe. We just have to take every little thing with open eyes and a reliable sense of concentration. 10 Cloverfield Lane smoothly delivers through director Dan Trachtenberg’s skillful hands (more commendable for a debut work). There is more to it than its short runtime has in store. And now we await another sequel or spin-off or spiritual successor or whatnot just to satisfy the craving one could get out of sitting through it.

With every moment so cleverly written to details, 10 Cloverfield Lane just leaves you wordless, breathless and, oh, so hopeless. Heart-pounding, thrilling and exciting, it knows how to keep you on the edge of your seat with all your scares screaming inside. The experience is more than satisfying as you take a look back, knowing that it is too short for a rather long journey ahead of its three characters who will everything to survive.

10 CLOVERFIELD LANE is now showing in cinemas nationwide as distributed by United International Pictures Philippines.