Theatrical Round-Up – A Priest, A Copper And A Concrete Salesman Walk In To A Bar…

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That elusive beast known only as ‘time’ means that a couple of theatrical releases have recently got away. Here be thoughts on three of them, two released last week, and one this Friday. 

Calvary, John Michael McDonagh’s follow-up to the well-recieved The Guard again sees the Irish filmmaker collaborating with Brendan Gleeson, with the actor this time bearing the robes of the clergy. Gleeson’s priest, Father James, a good man by any measure is told via the confessional box that in seven days he’ll be killed, in revenge for a number of crimes committed against the perpetrator-to-be during his youth by members of the church. Quite clear as to who the one to send him to his maker will be, Father James spends his final week attempting to understand his own faith and feelings against the backdrop of a town that has all but abandoned it’s collective feeling towards the church, an institution plagued by its own historical sins. Gleeson is on form as the doomed man, with his own visage symbolic of the general tone of the movie, which blends great tragedy with the darkest of black humour. It’s an unassuming masterclass of affecting cinema, and a priest’s tale that deserves to stand next to the great staples of the priestly subgenre.

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The Raid 2 is probably the biggest of the three. Hyperbole magnet extraordinaire, 2011’s The Raid catapulted director Gareth Evans and star Iko Uwais in to the hearts and minds of many, with their tower block-set action film positively lighting up the life of the many who bought in to it. The sequel has been welcomed in to the world with the kind of anticipation usually set aside for the most ambitiously marketed Hollywood blockbusters, with expectations rising from the moment the first screenings came to an end a few months ago at Sundance.

Glancing up at the film from a position of admitted nonchalance to both the action movie genre and the first film in the series, mild bemusement is the overruling verdict. It has its moments, and the story is significantly more engaging this time around (if not haunted by it’s own lack of originality), but ultimately it’s all pretty forgettable. The choreography is undeniably incredible in sections though.

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Even less impressive is Steven Knight’s Locke, which opens Friday. Pitted as being notable for setting its action around the course of a single night, telling the story of a lone man in his car on a motorway, the film is posited as being a subversive take on the thriller, when in reality it’s quite the opposite.

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