Sometimes life gives you a movie that has so many interesting moving parts that you just have to write 2,000 to 3,000 words about it. Sometimes life gives you some perfectly-acceptable films that, while they leave room for fleshed out opinions on thm, there just isn’t a lot to talk about it. This week in film did that very thing to me, henchforth this first installment of InReview Briefs. Today’s lineup comprises of “The Equalizer 2” and Disney’s “Christopher Robin.”
So let’s just jump into it.
The Equalizer 2
Like I mentioned in my “Mamma Mia!” 2 review, “The Equalizer 2” was basically Denzel Washington Elbows People in the Face: The Movie. Like “Mamma Mia!”, “The Equalizer 2” is a sequel to a film I’ve never seen, though at least I made the attempt to see “Mamma Mia!” 1. Equalizer 2 was a film that peaked my interest because I couldn’t remember the last action movie I saw Washington in as the lead (apparently it was “The Magnificent Seven”). “Equalizer 2” is a revenge story we’ve seen a million times.
Washington plays Robert McCall, a former DIA operative who has settled into domestic life, working as a Lyft driver because of product placement reasons. Our call to action is when his friend, Susan Plummer (Melissa Leo), who still works for the agency comes across a suspicious murder that just so happens to be orchestrated by McCall’s former team. Plummer gets the ax, which prompts McCall to methodically take out each of his former colleagues, one by one.
There are two sideplots, with one focusing on McCall’s relationship with a delinquent he takes under his wing, and the other on his relationship with an elderly Lyft rider who lived through the holocaust that is trying to recover a painting from his childhood (basically the plot to 2015’s “Women in Gold”). The delinquent sideplot is much more interesting and well-executed than the painting plot, mostly because more time is dedicated to it, and it has the benefit of a fantastic performance by Ashton Sanders, who plays said delinquent. In fact, I’d say that his relationship with Washington’s character is the most interesting thing in the film, and could have been a great picture on its own, but there’s only one reason why people came to see this film, and that was to see Denzel Washington do cool things.
And he delivers, and the choreography is fine, though I do wish I had a counter for every time Washington elbowed someone in the face. To be fair, I’m not sure there are many believable stunts the filmmakers could have had Washington pull off in his age, even with the obvious help of stunt double, without it turning into schlock.
The Equalizer 2 gets a 5 out of 10.
Hello, General Kenobi.
I’d be lying if I were to say the only reason why I saw this film was not to see Ewan McGregor as Christopher Robin. I’m not going to lie, I was very skeptical of this film once I saw the trailer. It seemed like Disney was trying to make an adult “Winnie the Pooh” (well, as adult as their live action “Alice in Wonderland” movies) with the main point of the film being the gimmick that Christopher Robin, the protagonist and point-of-view character in the Pooh franchise, is indeed older, and like Andy in “Toy Story 3,” must move on from his childish imaginary friends and pass that world onto a new generation.
Except “Toy Story 3” was good and had a clear, interesting direction. “Christopher Robin” is just kind of meh.
The film centers around a grown up Christopher Robin, who has since moved to London, went to school, served in WWII, married an architect named Evelyn (played by Hayley Atwell, because WWII wide-release pictures seem to be her bread and butter), has had a kid, named Madeleine (Bronte Carmichael), and now works for a prominent luggage company (Winslow Luggages) as their efficiency expert. Robin finds himself in an unhappy situation where he is always working, which has created tension between him and his family. To make matters worse, his company has fallen on hard times, and Robin is faced with the seemingly-impossible task of cutting the company’s costs by 20 percent in one week, a tasks so huge that he has to cancel his plans to stay in a cottage with his family. Robin finds himself in a situation where his professional and familial life is beginning to crumble, and this is where Winnie the Pooh (Jim Cummings) comes in.
The rest of the film centers around Robin reconnecting with Pooh and the storied Hundred Acre Wood, where we get to see the rest of the Pooh cast, many of whom are played by voice actors that have voiced these roles in the past, which is arguably the greatest aspect of the film, especially in relation to Jim Cummings, who is as suited to the role as Tom Kenney is SpongeBob; it’s just hard to imagine anyone else in that role.
McGregor is great as the lead, portraying an appropriate level of adultness and charm only someone who successfully brought a magical light to Ob-Wan Kenobi in the horribly boring “Star Wars” prequels could. While McGregor hasn’t scored any landmark roles and very few leads, he remains to be a top-notch actor that unfortunately has been under-utilized since his “Star Wars” prequels days, a film series that should have brought fire to his career (as well as Ian McDiarmid), but no one else.
Mark Gatiss does a great job as Robin’s rival int he movie, his direct superior at the luggage company and son of the founder of the company, Giles Winslow, Jr. His performance is that of the dimwitted and unlikable corporate superior that dumps all the work on those under him and takes all the credit and that of someone who got to where he has through being a Winslow, rather than hard work, and it is legitimately funny when he gets his comeuppance.
The animated cast does a fine job as well, but aren’t given enough screen time to properly work, outside of Pooh. Perhaps this was because the filmmakers didn’t know how to juggle that many recognizable childhood characters in a film that inherently has to juggle adult themes, or maybe it was the result of some studio mandate to keep the plot simple and the film short. With that being said, if you know who the Winnie the Pooh characters are, you might get some enjoyment out of this, but if you don’t know who they are, you might be greatly confused, mostly because the film never dedicated enough time to introducing who these characters are or why they’re important — it just assumes that you already know everything there is to know about the Pooh universe.
“Christopher Robin” is a film about balancing work life with those close to you, while never forgetting how to have fun. While the cinematography and artistic choices in the film are questionable, it is a completely serviceable flick, even if it doesn’t say or do anything profound.
Christopher Robin gets a 4.5 out of 10