Gerald Butler, Gary Oldman star in submarine film ‘Hunter Killer’

From the producers of “Fast & Furious” and “London Has Fallen” comes an action thriller set deep under the Arctic Ocean, “HUNTER KILLER.” Starring Gerard Butler, the movie will open on October 31 in Philippine theaters, proudly presented by VIVA International Pictures and MVP Entertainment.

Hunter Killer refers to a naval vessel, especially a submarine, equipped to locate and destroy enemy vessels. The story begins with the sinking of a Russian submarine in the Arctic Ocean, which is immediately followed by the disappearance of the American sub that has been ghosting it. During the investigation, it is discovered that a rogue Russian admiral is attempting to carry out a bloodthirsty coup at a naval base in Russia which could dismantle the world order. Joe Glass (Butler), the captain of a Hunter Killer, must now assemble an elite group of Navy SEALs and cross waters that no American sub has ever crossed before. All this to rescue the kidnapped Russian president and prevent World War III.

“A fictional event (that) could easily occur in today’s world” is how Director Donovan Marsh (award-winning crime drama iNumber, Number) describes this film. “There have been many recent news articles about how Russian and American submarines are chasing each other under water in dangerous ways. Yet, because it’s happening under the ocean, the public never knows what’s going on,” he explains further, then closes his statement in a positive light, “I think audiences will be thrilled, be moved and they’ll have a good deal of fun, all while watching a story highly significant to what’s happening in 2018.”

The authenticity of “HUNTER KILLER” is due to its source material: the novel “Firing Point,” written by George Wallace, the highly experienced, retired commander of the nuclear attack submarine the USS Houston, along with the award-winning journalist and best-selling author Don Keith.

Bringing the book to life on screen started with the collaboration of screenwriters Arne L. Schmidt (Chain Reaction) and Jamie Moss (Ghost in a Shell), compressing the 700-plus-page novel into a taut exploration of the battle to stop a war both on land and below the water.

“I felt it was the best military thriller I’d ever read,” commends Marsh. “The essence of any great thriller is that you can’t predict what’s going to happen next, and as I read this script, I was genuinely on edge all the way. Plus it had such great, tough characters facing huge dilemmas that are too real.”

Early on, action icon Gerard Butler eyed the unusual role of Captain Joe Glass— who is more about daring strategy than physical derring-do. To prepare for the role, Butler not only took that initial trip out on a working nuclear sub, he also spent extensive time with a number of former U.S. Navy commanders to channel their inner cores. “The advisers I consulted with were indispensable,” he says. “These are people who can make the right moves like it’s in their sleep. Everything has to be automatic because when you’ve got freezing cold water coming in, the carbon dioxide is building, there’s a fire going on…your sub is about to go down, you need to be able to act in half a second. Learning about that was very enlightening. You see that it takes certain kind of individual to be able to lead in this very hazardous narrow tube.”

Oscar® winner Gary Oldman (Best Actor, Darkest Hour, 2017) plays the role of Admiral Charles Donnegan, the man leading the charge towards military action in the War Room in Washington D.C. to come up with the best response to the imminent global crisis for the United States.

Oldman says, “This rogue Russian Admiral has a master plan. He thinks that he’ll pull off his coup without resistance. But Donnegan feels his job is to respond to any threat with strength and intent.”

Navy consultant Captain Russell Coons assures that “HUNTER KILLER is chance for audiences to experience a lot of realistic military action but you also will get a chance to see another core part of Navy life—honor, courage and commitment being demonstrated against all odds.”

Catch the non-stop action in “HUNTER KILLER” starting October 31.

WATCH: Gary Oldman is Winston Churchill in ‘Darkest Hour’ trailer

The new trailer for director Joe Wright’s historical drama Darkest Hour starring Gary Oldman as legendary British Prime Minister Winston Churchill has been unveiled by Focus Features and may be seen below.

A thrilling and inspiring true story begins on the eve of World War II as, within days of becoming Prime Minister of Great Britain, Winston Churchill (Academy Award nominee Gary Oldman) must face one of his most turbulent and defining trials: exploring a negotiated peace treaty with Nazi Germany, or standing firm to fight for the ideals, liberty and freedom of a nation. As the unstoppable Nazi forces roll across Western Europe and the threat of invasion is imminent, and with an unprepared public, a skeptical King, and his own party plotting against him, Churchill must withstand his darkest hour, rally a nation, and attempt to change the course of world history.

Directed by Joe Wright (Atonement, Pride & Prejudice), Darkest Hour is the dramatic and inspiring story of four weeks in 1940 during which Churchill’s courage to lead changed the course of world history.

Darkest Hour is written by Anthony McCarten (The Theory of Everything) and also stars Kristin Scott Thomas, Lily James, Stephen Dillane, Ronald Pickup, and Ben Mendelsohn.

In Philippine cinemas 2018, Darkest Hour is distributed in the Philippines by United International Pictures through Columbia Pictures.

WATCH: Official trailer for ‘Darkest Hour’ reveals Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill

Focus Features has released the first trailer for director Joe Wright’s historical drama Darkest Hour, opening in Philippine cinemas in January 2018.

Written by Anthony McCarten (The Theory of Everything), the film stars Oscar-nominee Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill and begins on the eve of World War II, chronicling Churchill’s difficult push to get England to stand up to Nazi Germany and enter the war rather than negotiate a treaty.

The film also stars Kristin Scott Thomas, Lily James, Stephen Dillane, Ronald Pickup, and Ben Mendelsohn.

Darkest Hour is distributed in the Philippines by United International Pictures through Columbia Pictures.

CIA’s top secrets unlocked from dead man’s mind in ‘Criminal’

Hollywood’s brightest young and veteran stars Ryan Reynolds, Gal Gadot, Kevin Costner, Tommy Lee Jones and Gary Oldman star in “Criminal” – the story of the right man in the wrong body.

“Criminal” finds an ex-convict’s brain being implanted the memories of a top CIA agent in a last-ditch effort to stop a diabolical plot. At first, it appears the operation has failed. But Jerico (Costner), unsure of what has happened to him and in fear for his life, escapes and finds himself on the run. At large in London, Jerico begins to experience memories that are clearly not his own – memories that take him into an overwhelming world of family, love and responsibility that he’s never known. As Jerico enters a secretive world of international spies, ingenious hackers and powerful tyrants, he roams a London he’s never known but mysteriously can navigate.

Says director Ariel Vromen: “Our main character, Jerico, is a person who starts with no feelings and no real emotions and then he goes on an incredible journey. He acquires all these memories from CIA agent Bill Pope’s mind and he has to react to an entirely new view of life. Because of the massively high stakes, that core emotional story is surrounded by a plot that has great suspense and lots of action. That really appealed to me.”

Leading the film’s star-studded cast is award winning Kevin Costner in one of his most challenging and unusual roles. As Jerico, Costner had to inhabit two minds at once – that of a hard-bitten, unfeeling criminal capable of anything and that of a patriotic spy and family man driven to be a good man – and find the ways they fuse in one man’s reeling mind.

Costner says of his reaction to the script: “I’m always attracted to projects when they are multi-layered and this story is very much that. “Criminal” is definitely an action movie but I responded most strongly to the complexity of my character, to all the confusion and turmoil that is scrambled up inside Jerico as he comes to terms with what he is experiencing.”

He goes on: “When we meet Jerico, he is in prison and has spent most of his life there. An injury he suffered as a child rendered him a sociopath, so he has no understanding that the things he does are wrong. He just reacts, sometimes violently, sometimes humorously. He is so unpredictable that he is not even allowed near anyone in jail. But after his operation, Jerico starts going back and forth between who he was and who Bill Pope is. He’s very mixed-up and suddenly he’s comprehending things and having sensations that he’s never experienced before on every level. And that’s what I had to figure out how to portray.”

Gadot was drawn to Jill’s own transformation in the course of the story. “With Bill, Jill had settled for a convenient life, staying with a husband who she had trouble communicating with because it was comfortable. When her husband dies, Jill has no choice other than to fight for the truth,” Gadot observes. Her character has to span both fear and inexplicable attraction in her relationship with Jerico, a process Gadot says Costner helped tremendously. “Kevin brings his own charm to the hardcore character of Jerico. He is an incredible actor and by the end of the film, he goes through an amazing transformation.”

Gadot notes that part of the fun of her character is that she is in the dark about who Jerico is and what he wants, though the audience knows. “My character is suddenly confronted by a total stranger who knows every detail about her. She is mystified and the audience will be on the edge of their seats because there is so much going on at every level.”

“Criminal” opens in cinemas this April 13, 2016 from OctoArts Films International.

MOVIE REVIEW: Criminal (2016)

“Criminal” Review
Directed by Ariel Vromen
Written by Douglas Cook and David Weisber

What with the already saturated market for mind-altering/wiping/reading, memory-recovering movies, Criminal gets on the bandwagon to amuse us once again with the premise of making something unfeasible possible. The film is director Ariel Vromen’s first venture into big-budget films after dabbling in a number of music videos, short films, and documentaries. From the looks of it, he might still need to take thing up a notch.

Stationed in London, field agent Bill Pope (Ryan Reynolds) arrives on the screen with an immediate need for rescuing. Sensing he’s being followed by the thugs of Spanish industrialist and anarchist Hagbardaka Heimbahl (Jordi Mollà), he hastily tries to avoid capture by going above and below Central London’s walkways, all the while being monitored by Quaker Wells (Gary Oldman), CIA London’s Head of Operations. 

What Heimbahl wants from him is the location of his ex-operative Jan Stroop (Michael Pitt), a Dutch hacker (creatively nicknamed “The Dutchman”) who was able to infiltrate the depths of U.S. Military technology, allowing anyone wielding his Wormhole  program to launch any of the U.S.’s nukes from anywhere in the world, to anywhere in the world. Apparently, The Dutchman made a deal with Bill to get asylum from the U.S., to ensure his absolute protection from Heimbahl. What follows is one of the fastest and most absolute deaths for any character I’ve seen so far. At least Ned Stark lasted a full season.

Criminal writers Douglas Cook and David Weisber, who worked before in a number of films like The Rock (might bring memories of Sean Connery’s Shhcoddish accent), decided to use this hasty demise to insert their story’s main character Jericho Stewart (Kevin Costner) into the mix. With Quaker believing that Bill’s memories might allow them to locate The Dutchman and prevent a cataclysmic event, he asks Dr. Franks (Tommy Lee Jones), a neuroscientist who has developed a memory-transfer process, to transfer Bill’s memories into the heavily damaged and empty, untapped brain of Jericho’s.

And from here on out, the acting goes absolutely awry. Either that, or the actors had pretty awful material to work with in the first place. Quaker goes absolutely bonkers when Jericho couldn’t immediately access Bill’s memories after his surgery, which is not something you’d expect from a CIA top honcho. In fact, what you’d expect is an intelligent and calm demeanor; cold as ice. Oldman’s absolutely brilliant acting skills gets absolutely wasted; all he is reduced to is an angry adult who gets into tantrums when he doesn’t get his way. Pity.

Also noticeable is that they decided to cast English actors to play ALL of the most noteworthy CIA agents in the film. Besides Oldman, Alice Eve and Scott Adkins star as agents at Quaker’s beck and call. Hell, even the warden who processes Jericho’s release is English (played by Colin Salmon). You just notice these things. Either the film’s casting crew can’t find Americans good enough to play the roles, or they find English people better at playing Americans. Interesting stuff.

Costner’s portrayal of a dumb, drooling, growling, and violent psychopath is on point, and he actually looks like he revels in playing a character that has absolutely no empathy, and just hits or punches his way into anything and anyone. Audiences would find a bit of humor on scenes where his psychopathic tendencies collide and mesh with Bill’s own kind and polite personality. Since he has also gained the spy skill set Bill honed through the years, he finds himself in a patisserie, ordering posh brekky in perfect French, without any knowledge of what the words meant. It is an attempt at humor, and albeit subtly funny, is not enough to make a lasting impact.

Tommy Lee Jones’ role is too much of a pushover, and all he has on while his pièce de résistance gets beaten up in front of him is a hangdog face. There is no power or authority in his character or his acting, which is something that is sorely missed, most especially if you think about his previous work.

Gal Gadot, who played Bill’s wife Jill, did well with trying to make the film as emotionally captivating as possible. Her attempts at trying to connect with a man who seems to have his husband’s essence within him is touching, but is not enough to elevate the film from the depths of the film’s bad writing.

Even with an all-star cast, what a good film should rely on is excellent writing. In the end, an actor can only do so much.

Ryan Reynolds, Gal Gadot hold key secrets in intense action-packed ‘Criminal’

The star-studded and high-octane action film “Criminal” headlines Kevin Costner, Ryan Reynolds, Gal Gadot, Tommy Lee Jones and Gary Oldman in a fresh, provocative spin on the espionage action-thriller that probes the secret world of memory and identity, as it propels an unwitting death row killer into the consciousness of a dedicated CIA agent in a ferocious race against time.

After playing the snarky superhero Deadpool, Ryan Reynolds takes on a more clean-cut character as he plays top CIA agent Bill Pope in “Criminal,” who was on an important mission who holds the key of secrets in the recesses of his mind. In order to extract vital information, his memories, skills, and training were transplanted into hardened criminal Jericho Stewart’s (Kevin Costner) brain. The procedure was performed by a neuroscientist (Tommy Lee Jones) under the orders and close monitoring of the CIA chief (Gary Oldman).

What they didn’t count on was that Stewart was also able to absorb the other aspects of Pope’s memories, particularly his love for family and an overwhelming sense of responsibility. The fallen agent’s wife, Jill Pope (Gal Gadot) helps convince him of his purpose. For the first time in his life, the criminal was able to clearly distinguish right from wrong and sets about to save the world.

The criminal becomes the hunted yet again, but this time he is on the side of the law. The mission is in the memories and every memory holds a clue. He has 48 hours to find a valuable CIA asset called The Dutchman in order to foil an international terrorist’s plans.

Aside from the intriguing premise, “Criminal” is jam-packed with enough action scenes, explosions, and car chases to satisfy the hardcore action-genre fan. What is likewise interesting to note is that this is the second collaboration of top-draw film stars Kevin Costner, Gary Oldman and Tommy Lee Jones following the 1991 thought-provoking film “JFK.”

Director Ariel Vromen – who came to the fore with his previous work in the chilling crime story “The Iceman” – saw in “Criminal’s” action-packed story a chance to create a hybrid: to fuse elements of an unnerving psychological battle and mind-twisting sci-fi with the classic cat-and-mouse espionage game. He was drawn to the story’s scientifically provocative central idea: memory transfer, the ability to lock a person’s most intimate and individual sensations, hopes and flashbacks into a total stranger’s brain. Though amnesia and memory loss have long been staples of the cinematic thriller, this story came at it in an opposite way. For “Criminal” is the story of a man gaining memories that both put him on a collision course with a terrorist and change the very foundations of who he believes he is.

The mix of searing, high-octane action with the psychological intensity of a man trying to figure out if he is killer or savior was irresistible. “This is a big thriller. We have massive action sequences with cars, helicopter and the huge Airbus 400, along with intense fight scenes and excitement,” Vromen points out. “However, I believe today’s audiences are also looking for something beyond thrilling explosions and car crashes. I felt the unique journey of Jerico’s growth into a different person could be just as exciting as the non-stop action.”

“Criminal” opens in Philippine theaters on April 13, 2016 as released locally by OctoArts Films International.