Jason Statham reprises his role as a tough, grizzled, hard-fighting, take-no-prisoners bruiser in a tried-and-tested cop-shop thriller noir about a psychopath targeting cops. If we can’t take care of our own, we’re not much use, says one character, as police officers drop like flies. It’s no surprise then that Statham, as Detective Sergeant Tom Brant, takes the battle outside the law. Director Elliott Lester switches uncertainly between gritty settings, campy dialogue and self-referential action-hero sequences, lending the film a jittery feel. Statham does what he does with skill and wit, but the film is so mired in cliche that it is hard to appreciate some of its better moments.
My Name Is Khan
An unconventional product from Bollywood, My Name is Khan, a film set largely in the US post-Sept. 11, tells the story of a young Muslim boy who suffers from Asperger’s syndrome. Directed by Karan Johar, one of Bollywood’s highest-profile directors, it provides a look through Bollywood eyes at the perils of being a Muslim in an increasingly paranoid US, and combines this with a tender love story and a meditation on human nature. Best described as a thoughtful tearjerker, My Name is Khan runs for 160 minutes. Primarily in English, with some Hindi.
The Child Prodigy (L’enfant prodige)
French film by director Luc Dionne that tells the story of the Quebecois composer and concert pianist Andre Mathieu, who gave his first public solo recital of his own work aged six, impressed Rachmaninoff as a genius when he was just 10, but who took to drink and died aged 39. The film provides an introduction to an interesting figure of contemporary classical music — described by some as the Canadian Mozart — with some fine musical performances of Mathieu’s compositions. Though handsomely shot, the film suffers from weak characterization and motivation, and degenerates into pop psychology insights as it explores the roots of Mathieu’s self-destructive later life.
Don’t Go Breaking My Heart (單身男女)
Don’t Go Breaking My Heart is a romantic urban comedy created by veteran Hong Kong director Johnny To (杜琪峰) and screenwriter Wai Ka-fai (韋家輝). The two previously collaborated on the massively successful 2001 film Love on a Diet (瘦身男女). This genre piece plays it by the numbers. There is Gao Yuanyuan (高圓圓), a Chinese actress playing a recent immigrant to Hong Kong who is pursued by two eligible young men, the playboy turned responsible man of business (Louis Koo, 古天樂) and a top-notch architect (Daniel Wu, 吳彥祖). Performances are adequate as the attractive, well-dressed and articulate characters size each other up in the perennial mating game. It is not without some interest as a romanticized version of living the Chinese dream.
Female Agents (Les femmes de l’ombre)
Directed by Jean-Paul Salome and starring Sophie Marceau, Julie Depardieu, Marie Gillain, and Deborah Francois as the agents of the title, the world of espionage never looked so glamorous. Whatever one might think about Marceau as a grim-faced sniper ace and Francois as an explosives expert, the film is exciting enough that we are not left with too much time to ponder. This old-fashioned war movie about female operatives working in France is very, very loosely based on the life of Lise de Baissac, who ran a network of agents in France under the British Special Operations Executive during World War II. Salome does not shy away from the violence of war, but the moral issues of resistance and collaboration are kept firmly out of the picture.