August is upon us, now is probably as fitting a time as ever to have a look back at the films that have come out in the UK in 2018 up until this point.
- The First Purge
The Purge is still an entertaining series, but this unnecessary prequel is easily the dullest entry to date. By this point, it feels like writer James DeMonaco has exhausted the core concept and so resorts to telling a story that is totally boring and explores nothing new about the series. The social commentary has now become parody and the hackneyed direction fails to make you care about the bland characters, nor the lifeless action.
- Breaking In
If there were an award for ‘Most Redundant Film of 2018’, then this dull, derivative home invasion thriller would take the cake. Gabrielle Union and Billy Burke are wasted, the production value is obviously cheap and the story is thin. Worst of all, James McTeigue reveals a decline from promising genre director to a gun-for-hire who takes mediocre screenplays and lacks the vision to execute them properly.
- The 15:17 to Paris
Clint Eastwood’s output in the 2010’s has been spotty, but I never thought that he would make a misfire of this calibre. A huge problem is the true story’s small scale: the attack on the train only lasted 30 minutes at most. As a result, Eastwood spends the first 80 minutes of this 94-minute film randomly cutting to the climax, focusing on the men’s boring backstories or just showing them on holiday. These choices take all tension away from the main event, which is unfortunate because it could be a fantastic sequence. The men who took down a terrorist on a train to Paris deserve their medals for heroism, but the poor storytelling fails to honour them appropriately.
The script does not help, featuring terrible lines like “My god is bigger than your statistics!” and heavy-handed allusions to the main event that induce groans. Worst of all is the acting, whilst the real men playing themselves are unconvincing, the professional actors are surprisingly worse, as the comedian heavy supporting cast make their thin characters and dull drama impossible to take seriously. Overall, this barely feels like a Clint Eastwood production in its ineptitude and is a sign that he needs to tell stronger stories rather than adapt something that would barely fill a television slot.
- The Cloverfield Paradox
Credit to Netflix, the stunt they pulled in immediately uploading this film after debuting itsa trailer at the Super Bowl was a great move, but it was in service of a dud. The script is riddled with clichés that strand the all-star cast in thin roles. The narrative is incoherent, the writing is baffling, and the scares are laughable. Even the production values are unimpressive and look second-rate, which is probably why this went to Netflix. But, the worst part is the editing, which makes the already messy narrative even worse by including blatant reshoots, audio dubbing and even a subplot that desperately attempts to connect to prior Cloverfield films. Paradox was never supposed to be related to Cloverfield and even started production under the name ‘God Particle’. By forcing connections and even trying to explain the events of the previous two Cloverfield films, Paradox takes a good anthology series and butchers it.
Though Mute may be technically better than all the prior films and slightly more ambitious, it is the worst because of that ambition being for naught. Duncan Jones spent years on this idea, yet it feels like a first draft that desperately needed better editing. No film so far this year bored me like Mute did, spending two tedious hours on a mystery that feels both convoluted and pointless by the end. Even worse, the story has no confidence in its lead, as it abandons him for long stretches to focus on characters who barely connect to his story. Then it will go into a misguided attempt at tackling paedophilia which casts a dark shadow over the rest of the film.
All performers give their most embarrassing work: Alexander Skarsgard is dull as dishwater, Paul Rudd is unbearable in an obnoxious villain role, and Justin Theroux is comically miscast. The aesthetic is bland and derivative of better sci-fi films, the dialogue is poor and every character is terribly written. Hopefully this is just a blip in Jones’s career, but with this and Warcraft, I think he is losing his directorial prowess.