Gerard Butler

In a Nutshell…Den of Thieves (2018)

Gosh, can’t remember when last I watched Gerard Butler in a movie but he still is good. Aged he has (as have we all) but it works perfectly for his role as Nick, the rough and ruthless special cases sheriff. Here he, together with his crew, try to figure out the plans of a gang they’ve been surveilling. You’ll only start piecing it together roughly the same time Nick and the boys do and oh my, is it a clever piece of (reserve) bank robbery movie.

You’ll probably also get that gut feel that it is just not quite what it seems…or that there is something else on the go. You’ll never ever guess how this is all going to go down.

It might not be the most action-filled movie but the suspense and the puzzling is there from the very beginning. These are often the best (and no, it isn’t an “all talk” one either).

The cast is brilliant with Pablo Schreiber (now on my radar of actors…admittedly, I’d never heard of him before and didn’t realise how many movies of his rang a bell). Also part of a perfect cast are O’Shea Jackson Jr., 50 Cent, Maurice Compte, Brian Van Holt, Evan Jones, Mo McRae, Kaiwi Lyman amongst others.

It has been a while since I’ve watched a “gee, that was good” movie. This was it. Give it a go.

Olympus has Fallen…an Evening with the Stars

lincoln banner copyAs part of the Hail to the Chief Blogathon, I’ve decided to write about a movie that I don’t really like at all. Whaaaaat? Yes…but, there is method to my madness (sort of). You see, I had a lapse in concentration one day…those type where for a moment you forget that you’re an adult and become a teen girl…just briefly…and therefore do things you wouldn’t a short while later, when once again thinking rationally.

It all unfolded like this: I was absentmindedly surfing the cinema site to see what I could go see with a friend. For some reason (the stars were aligned…or misaligned?), I found myself on a “Ladies Night Out” promotion which had just opened for booking that morning. So, just for the fun I bought two tickets for a pre-screening of Olympus Has Fallen (2003) purely because it was bundled with the opportunity to see Gerard Butler and Aaron Eckhart in person (even though I’m not a huge fan and I promise I’m actually not one who is interested in meeting stars. I’ll put it down to “why not?” because where I’m living these promotional events are unheard of (or I’m just not “clued up” enough due to my lack of interest in these things)).

I don’t mind action movies, which Olympus has Fallen definitely is. Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) is former (disgraced, naturally) Secret Service agent who just happens to be inside the White House when terrorists attack. Predictably, this offers him an opportunity to save the day and President Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart) and redeem himself. So, why don’t I like this movie? I’m okay with action movies and I’m also okay with violence where it is relevant to the story. However, relentless, gruesome violence just for the sake of it is what I’m not okay with (I almost got the feeling that the make-up, stunt and special effects teams just wanted to have fun). But, I sat through it, because, the question/answer session would only be AFTER the movie thus preventing 90% of the cinema being empty by the time the opening credits rolled (due to the viewer demographic being pretty much only female and there for one reason…).

What made my evening (I secretly admit) is the chat with the stars. While Aaron Eckhart is fairy quiet and composed, Gerard Butler is quite a character. Very witty, cheeky and just a little naughty. I’m not a person who follows the activities and lives of Stars, quite frankly their lives don’t interest me, but it was fun for just one night to feel like a teenager and walk the red carpet that had been rolled out for us, pseudo-paparazzi taking our photos and all.

So, while the movie isn’t one I’d watch again, it has stuck with me purely because of the experience associated with it. A good night out to the movies with a little of something different. A memorable evening I’d say.

Olympus Has Fallen is directed by Antoine Fuqua and also stars, amongst others, Morgan Freeman, Dylan McDermott, Melissa Leo, Angela Bassett, Radha Mitchell and Cole Hauser.

PS: I found Whitehouse Down almost the same in terms of story-line as Olympus Has Fallen, however I found myself enjoying it much more. While it was action through and through, it felt like there was more of a point to it all with toned down gore.

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A whole lot of Swords and Sandals in 300

Oh, so you want swords huh? And sandals too? Fine…I’ll give them to you. You know what? I’ll give you 300 of them! Yes, 300 swords accompanying 300 pairs of sandals. Worn by 300 buff and tough warriors. For “we are Sparta!”. Ok, so there may not have been exclusively 300 swords but I’m not getting technical here, just like I’m not getting into the debate around the historical accuracy of this film. Nor am I even mentioning any sequel (I don’t do sequels of movies I enjoy). This is 300 (2006) as it stands.

Based on a graphic novel by Frank Miller and Lynne Varley, you’ll be rewarded with lots and lots of sandals. And trust me, plenty of swords together with a far larger body count as it tells a fictional version of the Battle of Thermopylae. Depending on how you look at it, you’ll also be rewarded with many a six pack and scantily clad (hmmm, actually cape-and-Speedo-clad) warriors as Gerard Butler, David Wenham and Michael Fassbender among others go into battle against the mighty Persian army appearing as if “all the world’s warriors gathered against us”. You may also appreciate the sandals (no sword I’m afraid, but I wouldn’t put it past her) of Queen Gorgo played by Lena Headey. She’s the perfect match for Gerard Butler‘s Spartan King Leonidas.

This is a great movie that, for me, was best seen on the big screen as nothing quite compares to the visual impact of the Persian messengers coming to Sparta on horse-back and riding, no, almost flying over the ridge in one smooth swoop. And with a dynamic leader like King Leonidas you definitely need enough space that only the big screen can offer. What do you expect from someone who spurs his warriors on with “Spartans. Ready your breakfast and eat hearty for tonight we dine in hell!”. Xerxes played by Rodrigo Santoro likewise needs enough space (you may barely recognise him here just like you may miss him in his role in Jane Got a Gun).

What works really well in this case and probably makes the movie what it is are the effects used. Everything appears sepia with the exception of the Spartan warrior capes and graphically drawn splattering blood which come across in a contrasting red. This, together with the slowed down action sequences make for great viewing. In general, the various battle scenes are wonderfully choreographed (for in their slow motion they really are almost dance-like) and other scenes have a superb cinematographic detail. It really is something.

Make no mistake, this film is violent and gruesome but has ever so slight a comic relief from some great lines. One of my favourites is when a Persian messenger tries to intimidate the Spartans with “A thousand nations of the Persian empire will descend upon you. Our arrows will blot out the sun!” to which Stelios, a Spartan warrior replies “Then we will fight in the shade.”

Directed by Zack Snyder, 300 was filmed almost entirely using a green screen and stars Gerard Butler, Lena Headey as well as Dominic West, David Wenham (he’s great in Pope Joan), Michael Fassbender, Vincent Regan, Tom Wisdom (you should watch him in the fabulous Pirate Radio) and the list goes on.

As I always say, watch it for yourself and enjoy! Just one tip though – the bigger the screen the better. Happy watching.

PS: Out of interest, there’s a website that compares History vs Hollwood of different movies, 300 one of them, including a comparison of the characters. It makes for some interesting reading.

* Quotes taken from watching the movie.