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Film round-up: May 15, 2019

MARIA DUARTE and ALAN FRANK review Beats, Tucked, Breakthrough, John Wick Chapter 3 Parabellum and Paw Patrol: Mighty Pups,

Beats (18)
Directed by Brian Welsh
★★★★

1984’s Criminal Justice Bill, passed to try and place restrictions on Scotland’s rave culture and the free-party movement, is the thought-provoking context for Brian Welsh’s emotionally powerful, if sometimes overbiased, coming-of-age story.

Well-scripted by Welsh and Keiran Hurley from the latter’s 2012 play, the film centres on best friends Johnno (Christian Ortega) and Spanner (Lom Macdonald) as they face the emotional realities of adulthood.

Their no-holds-barred performances add depth and credibility to the sometimes overexcited storyline that culminates in a  climactic  illegal rave and its painful annihilation by invading police. It’s a riveting sequence that compensates for some of the overfamiliar preceding genre tropes.

While there are times when Johnno and Spanner’s moving friendship appears somewhat contrived, it does provide a strong dramatic and emotional backbone to a gripping narrative that hits hard, served by a cast whose unfamiliar faces add integrity to the story.

Benjamin Kracun’s atmospheric black-and-white cinematography gives Beats, partially Lottery-funded, the look of an art film and as such it works well enough, despite rather too many redundant  directorial flourishes.

Alan Frank

Tucked (15)
Directed by Jamie Patterson
★★★★

A VETERAN drag queen strikes up an unlikely friendship with a younger rising peer in this bittersweet yet surprisingly uplifting drama about two people battling with their own issues of gender identity and their own mortality.

Derren Nesbitt — better known for playing villains and a nazi officer — gives the performance of his career as larger-than-life Jackie.

At the age of 74, on learning that he has just six weeks to live, Faith (Jordan Stephens) enters his life and it’s with the help of this 21-year-old, portrayed superbly by Rizzle Kicks frontman Stephens, that he faces his fears of death — cue bucket list — and reconciles with his estranged daughter.

It’s a heartbreakingly raw and tender drama, punctuated by two powerhouse performances and a wickedly comic and old-fashioned stand-up routine which is as scabrous as it is funny.

A must-see.

Maria Duarte

Breakthrough (12A)
Directed by Roxann Dawson
★★★★

IN BREAKTHROUGH, youngster John Smith (Marcel Ruiz) falls through the ice on a frozen Missouri lake and, trapped underwater for 15 minutes, is pronounced dead.

His adoptive mother Joyce (Chrissy Metz) refuses to accept his death and, amazingly, triggers signs of life after grabbing his feet and pleading with the Holy Spirit to bring her son back “right now.”

Against all the medical odds — this is Hollywood, after all —  Joyce’s claim that “I believe God can heal our son completely” is realised and the lad lives.

This astonishing drama about “unfaltering love in the face of impossible odds” is, we’re told, based on a true story.

The locations add verisimilitude to an inevitably sentimental story while Metz, notably, and director Roxann Dawson deliver an effective enough faith drama that, while drenched in sentiment, works well enough on its own evangelisation terms.

AF

John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum (15)
Directed by Chad Stahelski
★★★★

IF ACTION is what you’re after, then Keanu Reeves delivers it in spades as the eponymous super-assassin Mr Wick, forced to flee after a $14 million contract has been taken out on his life.

He becomes the target for men and women hell-bent on offing him everywhere in a near non-stop wild and bloody romp with uniquely pleasing balletic knife-and-sword-wielding combat, especially when our hero is fighting for his life in a bizarre hall of mirrors.

Ignore logic and simply settle for lashings of hugely entertaining adrenaline-surging exploits as Mr Wick cheerfully kills all and sundry in New York and Morocco in order to stay alive.

It’s a splendidly entertaining thriller which delivers more than enough excitement, suspense and bloody combat to make 007 seem like a peacenik.

Result? Maximum adrenaline-surging and intellect-lite entertainment from director Chad Stahelski.

AF

Paw Patrol: Mighty Pups (U)
Directed by Charles E Bastien
★★★

I ADMIT it. Prior to seeing this lively high-action animated adventure which was made for television, I had no idea who or what the Paw Patrol was.

Now I know. The plucky pups, led by 10-year-old Ryder, are there to save the day “when trouble strikes Adventure Bay.”

Which they do in a fast and furious film which, relying more on animated action than storytelling logic, has naughty Mayor Humdinger setting off to be the first mayor of the Moon after a comet strikes the Earth. But will his evil will win?

Not a chance! The meteor endows the Paw Patrol with super-powers and, after an avalanche of slapstick comedy, noise and amazing animation, good triumphs.

Youngsters should enjoy the TV shenanigans on the big screen. Accompanying adults might prefer sleeping tablets.

AF

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