Dracula Untold (Gary Shore 2014)

Dracula_Untold_posterand so anyway it turn out that the best thing about Dracula Untold (2014) is not that, despite its title, it begins with extensive voiceover narration, nor that it promptly sets you up to expect a queer vampire western when the first named location is Broketooth Mountain, nor that Luke Evans dies right at the start so that his big brother Jason Statham can take over (mainly because that doesn’t actually happen), nor the Taransylvaniarantula spiders lurking in the ancient vampire’s cave, but the moment when Vlad, his kingdom about to be overrun by Turks (well, they’re Turk-ish), as a last resort goes to implore the ancient vampire master, ‘Save my people – you’re Charles Dance, you’ll do any old shit for money’…

Hummingbird aka Redemption (Steven Knight 2013)

Hummingbird-poster-A4and so anyway it turns out that the best thing about Hummingbird (2013) is not the hilarious heavy-handedness of the whole endeavour but the moment when Jason Statham – playing a traumatised Afghanistan veteran on the run from a  court martial for the revenge-atrocities he committed and now living among London’s homeless who, through a series of utterly probable twists, emerges from the stupor in which he keeps himself, becomes a strong-arm man for Chinese gangsters and falls in love with a nun – asks his criminal boss to identify the killer of a homeless female friend who was forced into prostitution, and they agree to help provided he ‘does the thing no-one else is willing to do’, and the next shot is of him driving across the Severn Bridge into Wales…

Last Tango in Paris (Luc Besson 2015)

Woody-Harrelson-Zombieland-500x250‘Based on an idea by Luc Besson.’

You know how seeing those words on a screen fills you with dread and giggles?

Let’s remake Escape from New York in a futuristic banlieue, no, wait, in a space prison.

Let’s make a movie about taxis going really fast four separate times, and then let’s make it three more times except instead of taxis we’ll have a delivery guy who kicks ass but has a heart of gold, and then we’ll try it on telly, and then we’ll reboot it and pretend the first ones never happened…

The ideas just pour out of him.

However, just because French courts ruled that Besson is ‘the death of cinema’ (long story, kinda almost true), it does not mean that he cannot have good ideas.

He bunged Tony Jaa euros when it mattered. There was Jean Reno as the clean-up guy, and that whole le parkour thing.

Sometimes his ideas are obviously crazy, but then turn out not to be. Like the morning he sat down and thought, I know, I’ll make Jason Statham a movie star.

Perhaps his most surprising idea to date, though, is his decision to remake Bernardo Bertolucci’s 1972 censor-bothering erotic drama Last Tango in Paris. 

Given the late-career boosts enjoyed by ageing male stars in recent  movies from Besson’s Europacorp, competition for the role of Paul, made famous by Marlon Brando, was understandably stiff. Michael Biehn, Michael Madsen, Craig Fairbrass and Andy Garcia were all considered. But, Besson explains, it was  Woody Harrelson’s performance in Zombieland (2009) that caught his eye. ‘He was perfect. I completely believed he would criss-cross the post-apocalyptic badlands checking out convenience stores and vending machines. Such drive! Such focus! I knew the moment I saw it that he was ideal for Paul.’

In Last Tango, Paul meets a mysterious woman, Jeanne (Scarlett Johansson), at a Parisian apartment they both want to rent. She is half his age. Soon they embark on an intense – and quite graphic –  sexual relationship. They agree to keep it all anonymous, to share no details of their personal lives, and soon Paul finds himself in a race against time to retrieve from evil Albanians a world-shaking secret concealed in France’s only remaining can of a popular fizzy drink…

Luc Besson’s Last Tango in Paris opens June 18.

Chaos (Tony Giglio 2005)

chaos2005posterand so anyway it turns out that the best thing about Chaos is the moment when Jason Statham takes it upon himself to use a word incorrectly in order not merely to correct the grammar of a woman he is questioning but also to demonstrate how annoying such unforced errors are by pointing out that ‘a double negative infers a positive’…