(On Cable TV, October 2017) The real collisions in Collide are the mismatch between the film’s cast and the pedestrian script … or the way it comes alive during its action sequences, only to wallow in far less exciting clichés once the guns and the cars quiet down. In many ways, few things distinguish Collide from countless other mid-budget action movies that clutter up the VOD release calendar: the script is a collection of familiar plot elements arranged in excessive thriller melodrama, featuring literary allusions that never add up to something like subtext or depth. It takes place in Europe, for lower shooting budgets, foreign financing partners and slightly exotic atmosphere … not to mention the bonus xenophobia considering that the two protagonists are American expats. What sets Collide apart are the presence of living legends Ben Kingsley and Anthony Hopkins as duelling crime lords—money is obviously the answer as to what they’re doing here, which doesn’t make the end result less intriguing to watch. Hopkins is on autopilot while spouting classical literature references as an upper-class crime lord, while Kingsley is also in familiar-persona mode (viz; Lucky Number Slevin, Sexy Beast, even Iron Man 3) as a crude trash-talking nouveau-riche kingpin. Seeing them face off is sort of interesting despite the lacklustre film around them, including generic leads played by Nicholas Hoult and Felicity Jones. Fortunately, another highlight comes whenever the action starts and the cars start racing each other on the autobahn. Director Eran Creevy seems far more interested in fast mayhem and Collide has at least a modest charge for action junkies. It’s also a modest step up from his previous Welcome to the Punch, although there is still a long way to go. Collide doesn’t really escape the limitations of the mid-budget action thriller, but anyone who risks a viewing should find one or two things to break the tedium.
(On Cable TV, January 2015) As it turns out, there is a thinner line than I thought between cool and ridiculous. This can be best shown using Welcome to the Punch, a British crime thriller that tries so hard to look cool that it eventually become laughable despite itself. Much of the film isn’t too bad, though: The cinematography of the film (finding surprising beauty in the blue-hued glass buildings in night-time London) is stylish and striking, and James McAvoy has seldom looked more self-assured as a once-wounded police officer forced to ally with a career criminal (Mark Strong, also good) in order to take down a bigger operation. Director Eran Creevy scores a few great sequences, including a grabbing opening sequence, and a mid-movie slow-motion living-room confrontation. Unfortunately, the wheels start coming off mid-way through as a sympathetic character is badly killed (maybe even excessively killed, if it’s possible to overstate it), and the film then incongruously ramps up the cool factor until it exceed maximum pretentiousness levels shortly before the night-set loading docks ending sequence. By the time the protagonist (again) rises up (again) in slow-motion with (again) a shotgun, it’s hard not to laugh at the film’s expense. Which is too bad, because McAvoy and Strong are pretty darn cool when they don’t have to overplay their moments, and the direction has its moments before falling off the cliff of obnoxiousness. It’s hard to avoid thinking that with a slightly defter touch, Welcome to the Punch could have been much better.