Wrath Of The Titans (2012)

Spectacle. When Warner Bros greenlit a sequel to 2010 remake Clash Of The Titans, they had but one tiny caveat – give us a bigger baddie than the Kraken. No small order considering that hulking hellbeast was the size of two Burj Khalifas stacked on top of one another. Luckily for the makers of Wrath Of The Titans, Greek mythology had already gifted them a super-nemesis in the form of granddaddy Kronos – here a ginormous meanie at least as big as THREE Burj Khalifas. Ladies and gentlemen, we have our spectacle.

That’s the baddie, but what about the heroes? Well, Sam Worthington also had a condition for reprising his role as demi-god Perseus. His, though, reaps less thrilling results – he wanted to prove he could act after condemning his own performance in Clash. That means Wrath beefs up the father-son issues that were already pretty hackneyed in Clash (Perseus now has a kid!), and you can see Worthington straining for the emotional sucker punch throughout. He’s misty-eyed for the entire 99 minutes.

Wrath is a sequel with things to prove. Its predecessor incurred the wrath of just about everybody, and that’s actually a good starting point to be in – Wrath benefits from low expectations. To be fair, it gets a few things right. The action is tighter, the 3D’s better (though still unnecessary) and Ralph Fiennes and Liam Neeson are given loads to do together (including one supremely hammy final act battle).

Other than that, though, not much has actually changed. The plot is still so paint-by-numbers it’s barely worth explaining. In a nutshell, Hades (Fiennes) and Ares (Édgar Ramírez) have teamed up, and they want to unleash God-birther Kronos (something about getting back the respect the deities goddamn deserve). Attempting to stop them are Perseus, Agenor (Toby Kebbell) and fifth-wheel Queen Andromeda, who’s now played by a breathlessly posh Rosamund Pike.

It’s clear from the get-go that Wrath is more interested in the bust-ups than the brotherly love. Barely five minutes in we’re given a massive scrap between Perseus and a two-headed dragon – no surprise considering director Jonathan ‘Battle: Los Angeles’ Liebesman is at the helm. That’s not a put-down, though. Liebesman brings a gorgeously grubby aesthetic to Wrath – this is real dirt-under-the-fingernails stuff, and the gritty visuals help the (many, many) action scenes no end.

And what is Wrath if not a showcase for glorious, ridiculous, CG-infused action? Skipping along at a hell of a lick, it’s never much more than a string of ever-more bombastic clashes, right up to the earth-quaking climax. Along the way, Bill Nighy offers comedy relief, Kebbell flashes dazzling pearly whites, and a head-spinning labyrinth segment is surprisingly fun (even if it rips off, of all films, Alien Vs Predator). Spectacularly dumb, then, but spectacular nonetheless. 3/5

Man On A Ledge (2012)

New York. The Roosevelt Hotel’s twenty-first floor. Nick Cassidy (Sam Worthington) has some breakfast. Wipes the room of prints. Writes a suicide note. Opens the window. And steps out onto a ledge… When it comes to grabbing an audience’s attention, nothing does it quite like a bloke threatening to throw himself off the top of a Manhattan high-rise. It was true in Henry Hathaway’s 1951 drama Fourteen Hours, and it’s true for Man on a Ledge.

Except where Hathaway’s film earned plaudits for its portrayal of a man (Richard Basehart) grappling with his own inner-demons, Ledge has its sights set on less torturous thrills. Released a whole six months before the summer blockbuster season kicks off, it’s the first popcorn thriller of 2012. Worthington’s not even given a chance to scream ‘I’m gonna do it!’ before we’re treated to shaky-cam car chases, explosions, jail breaks and Ed Harris sneering away as a slithery scoundrel.

In an age when blockbusters are often suffocated by their bloated storylines, though, the plot of Danish director Asger Leth’s thriller is refreshingly straightforward. Stirring in the biggest of big movie themes – redemption and revenge – we discover that Cassidy is an ex-cop wrongly convicted of a crime (aren’t they all?). But his gamble with gravity is merely a diversionary tactic as his brother Joey (Jamie Bell) embarks on a diamond heist nearby.

Thrown into that mix is Elizabeth Banks as a police negotiator attempting to talk Cassidy down, while on the ground is Kyra Sedgwick as a Gale Weathers-like reporter whose final line is the film’s most gloriously ridiculous. Because, yes, Man on a Ledge is ridiculous, but the fact that it’s so acutely aware of that is what just about saves it.

This is pure bubblegum entertainment. Winking and nodding in almost all the right places, Leth coaxes out moments of genuine hilarity – in particular a snapshot in which desperate women brandish ‘Jump into my arms!’ placards. Sure, the film’s impractical heist logic doesn’t hold a crowbar to Ocean’s Eleven (air vents in air-tight vaults? Thieves who don’t wear gloves?), but the combined magnetism of its spot-on cast – not to mention Leth’s impressive, soaring cityscapes – gives Ledge a winsome kind of charm.

There are certain inexcusable shortcomings, of course. Though it’s nice to have a low-budget thriller come out of Hollywood, the flick occasionally suffers from those slight production values, and poor Elizabeth Banks struggles to escape the restrictions of her underdeveloped soap opera character.

Ledge also oversteps the mark in its final act, and the closing scenes are soppy to the point of embarrassment. Only Ed Harris’ viper-like caricature retains bite. His view on so-called ‘jumpers’? “Why don’t these people just shoot themselves in the head?”

Anticipation: Has Sam Worthington finally watched Clash of the Titans, then? 2

Enjoyment: Daft as an old brush but oddly, endearingly entertaining. 3

In Retrospect: A joyfully silly thriller that won’t win any awards for subtlety, but it already knows that. 3

Last Night (2010)

“This is a really bad connection,” says Joanna (Keira Knightley). “I know,” responds husband Michael (Sam Worthington). They’re talking about a phone link, but the exchange also nods to the sticky subtext of their rocky marriage, which is put to the test in this absorbing, slow-drip deep-thinker that’s obsessed with that most infuriating of questions, ‘What if?’

During a night out at a work party, Jo meets Michael’s attractive co-worker Laura (Eva Mendes) and suspects there’s something going on between them. Then, when Michael’s out of town on business with Laura, Jo bumps into old flame Alex (Guillaume Canet), and finds herself seriously tempted.

Ebbing with an affecting melancholy, Last Night offers Knightley her most grown-up role to date, the actress’ recent forays into theatre evident in her impressively layered performance. Mendes, meanwhile, is nothing short of mesmeric – when she’s in a room alone with crush-object Worthington, Last Night becomes electric with tension. As inactivity sashays ever-closer to devastating activity, writer Massy Tadjedin’s directorial debut takes on a quiet power that will speak to anybody who’s been tempted while in a relationship. True, Last Night’s dreamy pacing may prove too languorous for some, but as an intimate, thoughtful examination of relationships, it’s hauntingly effective. 3/5

Via Out In The City.