I am absolutely loving Bradd Pitt’s wandering into highly variable roles lately! He absolutely kills it in this. The action-comedy is a tough balance to strike in order to not fall into either too-uptight or going full “Naked Gun.” This film threads the needle extremely well, and keeps you guessing even after the credits roll. I still wasn’t positive the movie was over, waiting for one more narrative twist. Well directed action and well rounded characters, with a nice weaving of mystery in and out of the plot, as the story and the train go off the rails. Chef’s kiss, some of the most fun I’ve had in the cinema all year!
Did I overshoot this one rating-wise? Possibly. That being said, it’s absolutely amazing at what it set out to be, and then some. What I figured would be a solid holiday action meeting ended up leading me and everyone else in the theater through a tour of all of the emotions. We laughed, we cried, we almost threw up because seeing some of the kills would make John Wick blush… It was AMAZING.
David Harbour plays Santa with a refreshing take. Who knew St. Nick had a relationship with a war hammer akin to Thor and Mjölnir? That being said, Leah Brady steals the show, and gives the film its heart. The chemistry she and Santa have grounds him in a way that’s necessary with such violence on display, providing the necessary motivation to make us root for Santa to not just take them off the naughty list, but off this earth.
The bad guys were a little one-dimensional, but it’s excusable given the strengths of the other characters. This and “Bullet Train” gave me faith this year. If we believe… Hollywood will give us great action movies! All it takes is a little literal Christmas magic.
“We’ve gone to far in our story to say “the end.””
I did not expect the tremendous emotional impact of this film, and don’t anticipate that I’ll experience anything close to it for quite some time. It was akin to Tony Stark’s “I love you 3000” monologue, but for two and a half hours straight, tugging at the chordae tendineae (heart strings). I will divulge that this may be due, in large part, to the resonance the story had with that of the person writing this review. There were emotions that I thought were either long gone or successfully buried that came flooding back with this one. But that’s the beauty of the movies. They (literally) shine a light into darkness, and accompany us in approaching poignant topics. If you can cover the worry with wonder, then it’s no longer as daunting to face it. To process it. To conquer it.
Technically speaking, this film is to Spielberg’s filmography what “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” is to Quentin Tarantino’s: The director at the absolute height of their powers, but with a wisdom that is missing in their former works. A bow, tying together everything we love about the respective director in their love, appreciation, and dedication to the craft. Similarly, they are both films that are also love letters to film itself, and shows why each is the veritable auteurs that they are. Finding solace in the hum of a projector as the silver screen is bathed in illuminated imagery and imagination. The distance between the lens and viewfinder their armor against whatever malevolent force they may be facing, or trying to avoid.
There’s a sense of sincerity in this film that you drown in as an audience member. Spielberg’s one of the best at showing, not telling, and this film is his best work in that department, alongside one of John Williams’s best scores, as it captures both the wonder and torture contained in the story. Despite what you may read in other reviews, the film is perfectly cast, as far as I’m concerned. Even Seth Rogen. Between this and “Long Shot,” he’s Oscar-worthy in my book any day. The characters are so human, the stories so messy, the themes complex. The overarching theme of the cost of success and the beauty that can be found in life’s messiness was so well done, I find it hard to critique. From the triumph of witnessing an audience admire a first showing of a film to the heartbreak of sitting alone in the sadness of fresh heartbreak… The relatability is off the charts, but not ham-handed. Before I gush too much more, it’s my movie of the year.
Taika Waititi kills it again with a romantic comedy of all things! Who woulda thunk it?
The director who does comedy best also injects a surprising amount of heart into the god of thunder. The cast absolutely nails the characters and their respective arks, especially Christian Bale as the best villain this side of Thanos and Loki. We get the return of Jane! And an army of children who don’t go down like the punks in Star Wars… which might be because Thor is a better mentor than Anakin.
Sit back, crank the Guns N’ Roses, and enjoy this refreshing installment post-infinity saga, that actually feels like Marvel has its bearings for two hours.