Darkest Hour Review

Widely regarded as one of the most significant figures of modern history (and a personal favorite of mine, next to Theodore Roosevelt), Winston Churchill maintains a positive reputation among historians for successfully leading his country through the Second World War. This respect and admiration was not an immediate sentiment toward Churchill, as his own political party and War Cabinet considered him too impulsive to be an effective leader.

With the collapse of Europe imminent and Hitler practically on his doorstep, Churchill made the difficult and conflicting decision as prime minister for Britain to stand their ground against German tyranny. With few allied nations and his soldiers trapped on the beaches of Belgium, Darkest Hour documents the internal and external struggles of Churchill to unify the nation of Britain. Chock-full of brilliant performances and strong, emotional dialogue, Darkest Hour delivers audiences a sincere film about one of Britain’s finest.

The most powerful aspect of Darkest Hour is of course Gary Oldman’s immersive portrayal of Winston Churchill, which takes this rather standard historical drama and makes it feel like so much more. Oldman captures the mannerisms and quirks of Churchill beautifully, especially the slurred and garbled speech that he was famous for. And the fantastic use of prosthetics had me astounded at how much Oldman resembled Churchill.

Darkest Hour moves along at a fairly steady and interesting pace, but does have its slow and meandering moments too. In an attempt to dampen the more boring historical facets the writers fill in the gaps with Hollywood schmaltz. While this is typical of historical dramas, Darkest Hour had a notably poor blending of facts vs. fiction.

The balance between the two was relatively impressive, in that the filmmakers got more right than they did wrong. However, the events that were fabricated are distinctly noticeable and make the film feel to sentimental for its own good.

Those with a penchant for history (and film) will surely appreciate the stunning portrayal of Churchill and the technicalities of the plot, despite the obviously romanticized undertone.

The Verdict: B+

-Zachary Flint

The Hitman’s Bodyguard Review

The idea of Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson acting in a buddy comedy together sounds like a match made in heaven. The type of roles they typically play are tremendously different, which would theoretically make for a highly interesting film. I say theoretically, because The Hitman’s Bodyguard perfectly displays the sad truth that, just because you have good actors, doesn’t mean you’ll have a good movie.

The film stars Reynolds as Michael Bryce, a protection agent who’s called upon to help protect a notorious hitman named Darius Kincaid (played by Sam Jackson). With a long, complicated history between them, Bryce must now escort Kincaid across Europe so that he may testify in court against a ruthless dictator (Gary Oldman).

Ryan Reynolds and Sam Jackson are pretty funny as individual characters, but don’t work well off each other’s comedic style. Most attempts at jokes dragged on for far too long, and nobody in the theater was even laughing to begin with.

This poor comedic outcome is due to the writers going for the double act style of humor, which is what you see in most buddy comedies of this caliber. Double act works in films like Tango & Cash and Men in Black because the characters are written with complete opposite personalities. Well, herein lies part of the problem with The Hitman’s Bodyguard, as neither of our protagonists have well-defined personalities

Jackson was more severe than Reynolds, but neither ever stuck with a singular set of characteristics. Jackson would often go from being a cold-hearted killer to a more sensitive and understanding person, almost at the flick of a switch. So when the actors don’t have defined personalities, it’s hard for the audience to relate to one of those characters, which entirely defeats the purpose of double act.

The villain of the film, played by Gary Oldman, is a bland Eastern European stereotype with absolutely no depth to his character. After having just watched The Hitman’s Bodyguard, I can’t remember anything about him. Now, Gary Oldman is one of my favorite Hollywood actors, and I think he can play a very diverse range of roles. So I’m incredibly confused as to why he was given so little to do the entire film. He never says or does anything of importance, making his character one of the more forgettable villains of past months.

Some of the action scenes were energetic, while others were fairly lackluster. Take the grand boat chase seen for example. It has a mix of clever and generic moments, however what really ruins the chase sequence is that it goes on for an eternity. The best chase scenes (and action scenes as well) are short and to the point, condensing what the viewer is shown into the most exhilarating moments. The Hitman’s Bodyguard unfortunately wasn’t all that exhilarating, or exciting.

When you boil it down, The Hitman’s Bodyguard is about as standard as a buddy comedy can possibly get. It attempts to go through the same motions of other films in its genre, but because of the lopsided writing it fails to leave any lasting impression on the viewer. It had some funny, even hilarious scenes. However, even the most enjoyable moments of The Hitman’s Bodygurad are overshadowed by sloppy writing and a sense of mediocrity.

The Verdict: D+

-Zachary Flint