Posted by: Dr P | October 11, 2008


Well, was this a treat or what? An ancient brotherhood of assassins, Morgan freeman in gravitas mode, up and coming James McAvoy, Angelina Jolie and her pout, silly weapons, explosions, daft car chases, trains, completely unnecessary sex scenes. Magic!

We decided to head off to the plush confines of Cineworld Bolton for this one, the seats and general ambience knocking Pilsworth, Bury, into a cocked hat. Plus you feel you’ve had more of a night out if you’ve driven 10 miles as opposed to 3. Sad isn’t it?

If you’ve seen the trailer, this comes across as quite a formulaic action thriller, yet for some reason the director must have decided to spice it up, as within the first three minutes of the film, we had an explicit sex scene, four people being shot through the head (quite graphically) and James Mc swearing at his girlfriend quite gratuitously in a voice over while feeding her cat some canned liquid. No, that wasn’t a euphemism.

Onto the plot(!!!), and we discover there’s a 1000 year old fraternity of assassins which formed from a group of weavers back in ancient times. Now while it might seem rather odd for cotton workers to suddenly start blowing everyone’s head off, you can understand their frustrations. One might perhaps say that the loomies turned into loonies? I’ll get my coat.

Anyway, McAvoy’s father was apparently one of this brotherhood, and we learn this while Mr Mc is at a 7-11 buying anxiety pills … one moment he’s alone, the next second Angelina’s pouting face is mere inches from his and she’s whipping out her impressive weapons while trying to defend him against some rampaging maniac with equally impressive weaponry. There’s a quite stupendous shoot-em-up scene followed by a brilliant car chase before our heroes escape into the night.

Onto the secret hiding place of the fraternity, which of course is still a working textile factory. Here we meet Morgan Freeman, the head of the group and indeed a skilled weaver himself; Morgan is quite possibly the only serious Hollywood actor who could say “we are a secret fraternity of assassins” without everyone cracking up. So he says it about 15 times. We still don’t crack up. Angelina’s character incidentally is called “Fox”. I’m sure it’s obvious why. Now had she said the reason was because her surname was Fox, I would have absolutely screamed the place down, because I thought of it almost immediately.

Anyway, there’s no easy entry into the group fro McAvoy, who is put under a series of trials by the group, most of which involve him variously being smashed in the face by someone ironically called “The Repairman”, slashed across the body with knives by some fat butcher type, and screamed at by Angelina. I suppose you’d put up with the first two, wouldn’t you?

We learn a couple more key things about the place now. Firstly, they have a recovery tank, where wounds heal at a much more rapid pace than normal (which is why they can afford to hurt the new recruits so badly, we assume). This actually appears to consist of coating the injured party in something akin to thick rice pudding. Nice. If only they’d add a smear of jam, you could eat while you heal.

It was about this point that I had to go to the bathroom. I’m not sure if this is because I’d drunk what was left of the enormous vat of coke that was bought, or because I was giggling and snorting so much from the film that I’d lost all control. I suspect the latter, cos it was at this point that Morgan was demonstrating how to make bullets fly round corners. Hmm. It’s all in the wrist apparently. Now I like to think I’m good with my hands, but I am not sure even I could pull off this particular trick. It’s hard enough getting a cricket ball to swing. Maybe they were Pakistani bullets, and had been illegally scratched on one side with a bottle opener.

The second revelation that I alluded to earlier now arrives. The “victims” chosen for assassination are actually generated by examining the patterns created by the master loom machine. Kind of like a spinning Jenny gone postal. Yes indeed, this was the final straw – the assassin world is controlled by a giant weaving machine. Actually, as it later transpires, this isn’t quite the case, but we’ll avoid spoilers …

OK, before McAvoy can get on with the serious business of avenging his father and seeking out his killer, the loom has a couple of assassination jobs for him to carry out. He goes along with Angelina who trains him in all kinds of useful things, like how to run along the top of a train, shoot accurately from enormous distances, and bake a souflee.

There is one enormously cool scene where McAvoy goes back to his old girlfriend’s apartment to retrieve a gun. She is of course now shacked up with his supposed best mate, and as she starts shrieking at McAvoy in walks a leather clad Angelina, who proceeds to kiss him passionately. Pandemonium ensues when his goggle-eyed mate breathes “He … is the man”. Just great!

The second ridiculously great scene comes as McAvoy starts killing people. One target is apparently sitting in his limousine protected with bullet proof glass. Not a problem! Angelina drives her car into McAvoys, his flips upside down in the air, and he kills his target by shooting him through the open sunroof while upside down in midair. It sounds mad, it actually IS mad, but it fits in perfectly with this film!

We get the real meat of the film now as Mc travels to find his dad’s killer. Firstly he encounters Terence Stamp, the man who does those ace “The drive of your life!” voiceovers for Peugeot cars. It comes as little surprise that Stamp is cool, cos he always is (even Superman II!), it’s just a shame he doesn’t start going on about the 306 cabriolet! Next up we get to the big series of revelations and shocks, as we discover more truths about McAvoy’s father, the fraternity, and his burgeoning souflee skills.

After all this, we come to one of the most hilarious end scenes in modern cinematic history. Now how would you go about infiltrating and destroying the stronghold of a secret society of heavily armed killers? That’s right! Peanut butter, watches and exploding rats! GET IN!

This is one of those films that is super cool. It’s preposterous for sure, but the stunts, effects and visuals are stunning. All the leading actors come out of this well – McAvoy does stressed equally as well as confident; Freeman not only gets to look pompous, he even gets a couple of lines with enough swearing to make Samuel L Jackson blanch. And then there’s Angelina and her pout. Oh yes.

Go and see this if you’re not overly squeamish and want to have 2 hours of pure escapism. Plus any film with revelations about the leading character’s parentage always go down very well!


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