Paul McGuire Grimes, creator of Paul’s Trip to the Movies sits down with the stars of Slow Horses. It’s a new show on AppleTV about a group of misfit British agents.
SLOW HORSES (AppleTV)
The Slow Horses are a group of misfit, outcast British agents who have been unofficially shunned by MI5 due to messy mistakes. They’re led by Gary Oldman’s Jackson Lamb, who still has some inside connections to MI5 thanks to second-in-command, Diana Taverner. A young Pakistani comedian is kidnapped by a far-right extremist group who promise to execute him during a live stream. The clock is ticking as to who can stop the terrorists. MI5 is on the scene, while Jackson Lamb is leery and doesn’t want the Slow Horses involved. Lamb’s protégé, River Cartwright, can’t sit around doing nothing and thinks a fellow journalist may be involved.
-Starring: Gary Oldman, Jack Lowden, Kristen Scott Thomas, Olivia Cooke
-Based on the novel by Mick Herron, you can clearly see the inspiration taken from great espionage writers like John le Carré and Ian Fleming
-First season (not yet renewed, but has potential) will be six episodes. First two debuted April 1 and will be released weekly on Fridays after that.
-There are plenty of twists and reveals once the Slow Horses become targeted and messy relationships come into play between MI5 and the Slow Horses
-British spy thrillers always come with a different style of storytelling and execution than their American counterparts. There’s a bit of a slower pace as this becomes more of a character study over action driving the plot. If you’re familiar with the genre, you’ll recognize the coverups, conspiracies aplenty as characters start playing by their own rules.
-Gary Oldman is always a thrill to watch, and this is his first TV series in years. It’s great to see him build and play with this character who’s a sloppy, lazy mess in his life and workspace. Oldman plays well off Kristen Scott Thomas well, and it’s clear he knows more than he’s leading on with the Slow Horses.
RATING: 3.5 out of 5 TICKET STUBS
AMBULANCE (in theaters)
Michael Bay has become synonymous with the action genre. You can mention his name to anyone and a string of movies from The Rock to Armageddon to Transformers will come to mind. Ambulance sits right in his wheelhouse and is based on a 2005 Danish film of the same name. Jake Gyllenhaal and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II play Danny and William, respectively. They were close-knit brothers growing up but drifted as they got older. Danny became involved in luxury cars and robbing banks while William went to serve in the Army. William is feeling strapped for cash needing money for his wife’s surgery and unable to get a job. He turns to Danny for help and finds himself caught up in another one of Danny’s elaborate heists. As you would probably expect, it goes horribly awry leading to a massive shoot out and a highway chase after the brothers hijack an ambulance with a wounded cop and a paramedic inside.
-Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Eiza González
-Ambulance is Michael Bay’s best film in a long time. I think of this film as a return to form for him going back to his days of Bad Boys and The Rock, which actually get referenced in this movie as well. This didn’t have the bloated mess of the Transformers movies or the melodramatic flare of Pearl Harbor or Armageddon.
-There’s some brief character exposition and then it’s off to the races for Bay and his cast for two hours of non-stop, full-throttle intensity. You can draw some easy comparisons to Speed.
-The camera is constantly moving going from really tight close-ups to these sweeping helicopter and drone shots of Los Angeles. I think the intent was to capture the grand and epic nature of the heist and highway chase and contrast it with the intimacy inside the ambulance. It certainly has that rollercoaster ride feel if you see it at movie theater.
-We all know that Michael Bay can do massive actions sequences, but what sets Ambulance apart is the focus on the trio of lead characters. I applaud Jake Gyllenhaal, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, and Eiza González for not treating them as one-note stock characters. Gyllenhaal is the stone-cold leader of the pack at first and there’s a descent to his character as the chase escalates. You can feel that brotherly love and bond between him and Abdul-Mateen who puts William between a rock and a hard place fighting to do the right thing when there’s no way out. Eiza González is a fighter as Cam. She’s not one to cower under the pressure Danny puts on her. She’s thinking and planning her next mode of survival every step of the way.
-Ambulance succeeds as this is Michael Bay at what he does best with amped up action sequences from start to finish. He even throws in a few moments for laughter. While this certainly isn’t a three-hour Transformers movie, this would have been even stronger had it been shaved down by 20-30 minutes.
RATING: 3.5 out of 5 TICKET STUBS
EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE
If you are looking for a truly original film that will take you on a wild and unpredictable ride, then the new Michelle Yeoh film Everything Everywhere All at Once will leave you riveted. Yeoh’s character, Evelyn Wang, is going through what so many people are feeling. She’s struggling with that work, life, family balance. She runs a laundromat that’s behind on the bills and taxes. Her husband is at his end looking for an out with a divorce. She knows her daughter, Joy, is growing up and moving away from home. Despite this, Evelyn is hoping to throw a Chinese New Year Party for her father. A visit to an IRS agent leads Evelyn to an uncharted world of a multiverse where she is faced with what her life would have been like had she made other choices in life.
-Starring: Michelle Yeoh, Ke Huy Quan, Jamie Lee Curtis, James Hong, and Stephanie Hsu.
-Everything Everywhere All At Once which comes from creative team known as The Daniels, Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert. Their vision is a wholly creative concept that brought me back to seeing films like The Matrix, Being John Malkovich, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind for the first time. There’s that feeling where you’re not 100% sure what is going on, but you’re loving the ride and know the payoff will be great.
-Evelyn is faced with looking at her decisions in life to see how and what would have changed along the way. Every decision thus creates a different branch in this universe. While it seems easy enough, the Daniels don’t make this a multiverse of realism. It’s abstract and obscure featuring traditional martial arts sequences to a quick glance at one branch that finds Evelyn having the career of actress Michelle Yeoh with red carpets, premieres, and even a Crazy Rich Asians poster.
-While the images on screen may be puzzling, the themes and questions the Daniels ponder make sense when you think about the chaos in our heads. There’s a playful quality to how they tackle these existential crises within Evelyn including a fight scene with a fanny pack.
-As we near the end, the Daniels hone in on what it all means, and it makes perfect sense. Much of this is also due to the extraordinary work by Michelle Yeoh who gives the performance of a lifetime. This whole movie feels like a tribute to her and a celebration of her career.
-The legendary James Hong (Minnesota native) is also wonderful as Evelyn’s father with his memorable unfiltered thoughts.
-Seeing Jamie Lee Curtis paired with Yeoh is also a treat knowing the breadth of their work as action/horror heroines. The entire ensemble seems to be having an absolute ball with the variations their characters go through in the multiverses.
-Everything Everywhere All At Once is wildly unpredictable and beautiful around every corner. The Daniels remind the audience that there’s always something to love in life if you just take a moment to look for it. This is the kind of movie where once I knew the hook at the end, I wanted to see it all over again to see how the Daniels play on it throughout the film.
RATING: 4.5 out of 5 TICKET STUBS