Without Joe’s perspective of the world he hates, there’s nothing – not even resentment – with which we can empathize. Joe is left merely with things we can’t condone. This doesn’t prevent it from stopping your blood with its performances. The depth of Cage’s eyes describes hurt in ways that words fail.
The aspect of rebellion in Fight Club makes it the anthem of a cinematic generation, who may not understand it at all. Remember, “the first rule of fight club is that you do not talk about fight club.” If you argued about its philosophy, its meaning, its impact, its significance, the movie would punch you in the nose.
The transition is over pretty quickly. Face/Off is not about change, but about how the face we have and the role we are given dictates how we act. As soon as the act of transferring one actor’s soul to the other’s body is complete in the mind of the audience, the only task remaining is all performance.
Vail’s at the center of more than a simple case in Primal Fear. Hoblit manages to take a spritely charity dinner and suffuse it with hidden terror, as a boys’ choir’s gloomy opera parodies Vail’s chummy handshakes with the city’s finest smiles. Vail discovers that he himself is the fulcrum in all the foul events floating up in the harbor like bad news no one can stop from breaking.
Martin Campbell, who mined James Bond for the repressed roar of all his debonair instincts in Casino Royale, seems to have no mission briefing on Quan. The Foreigner is so disinterested in its lead that it seems to be made by a computer, which would not be able to tell who is more interesting except by how handsome they are.
From Willem Dafoe approximating a German to Penelope Cruz approximating a maid to Judy Dench stretching no imaginations as a frowsy curd whose gaze would cure mustard, the train certainly carries cargo with the promise of becoming precious. But the cogs it winds up never outgrow their clock: the plot remands wit to the backstage of Branagh’s eyes and the film lulls almost indefinitely as soon as the mystery begins.
Christophe Gans admirably refers to Jean Cocteau’s 1946 La Belle et La Bête while presenting a version of the fairytale that should read as authentic even to those who have only seen the Disney one. What he does not do is capture the original’s symbolic poetry or frame the old pieces in such a way that their retelling is a revelation.
What DreamWorks have done with Ghost in the Shell, if it is a cultural invasion, is more potent than catering to an international market (or their idea of it). The new film is an inversion of its material, to an extent that its entire symbolic framework has been hacked by the virus of three-act Western superhero stories.