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See You Later, Alligator

FILM REVIEW SACHIN CHATTE

Film: Crawl

Cast: Kaya Scodelario, Barry Pepper

Directed by: Alexandre Aja

Duration: 1 hrs 28 mins

Rating: * * *

Produced by Sam Raimi of Evil Dead fame and directed by Alexandre Aja (The Hills Have Eyes (2006), Piranha (2010)), Crawl is one of those disaster films where alligators bay for the blood of a father and daughter, in the middle of a hurricane.

If Bentley and Spielberg got us to fear sharks, Crawl desires to have the same effect with gators – it is partly successful and doesn’t quite have the depth of the Spielberg film.

Crawl, shot in Serbia which is passed off as Florida, has Haley Keller (Kaya Scodelario), a swimmer aspiring to achieve greater heights. There is a storm on the anvil and her sister can’t reach her father, with whom she has a troubled relationship. Against all advice, she takes her car and drives it to the place where she expects to find him.

She finds him all right but he is not okay – unconscious in the basement of their house, his shoulder is badly wounded. Ideally, you should not live so close to an alligator swamp where, if you throw a stone gently, it will hit a reptile but that is exactly where they are. The weather gets worse, water starts flooding in down there and their path to safety is blocked by two big alligators with more around the corner.  

Apart from the reptiles, there are other supporting characters in the film and you can be assured that some of them will be chomped by those nasty little creatures. In that claustrophobic basement, at some point, though it all starts becoming very convenient. Since it is a category 5 storm, things will only get more difficult and help will come only in the climax.

The father and daughter manage to survive a few not so gentle bites from the alligators and since there is water and swimming involved, it gives a chance to the duo to patch up over the past.

As her coach, he taught her to think of herself as an ‘apex predator’ and that comes in very handy, at the opportune moment.

The moral of the story is that occasionally, you should listen to the weatherman.     

Secret Reagent

Film: Angel Has Fallen

Cast: Gerard Butler, Morgan Freeman, Piper Perabo

Directed by: Ric Roman Waugh

Duration: 2 hrs

Rating: * * *

First Olympus fell followed by London and now Angel Has Fallen. The previous two films met with reasonable success at the box office which has prompted the third instalment now. The franchise is in the mould of good old fashioned thrillers, where a secret service agent has to save the nation’s leader against terrorists or in the case of this film, he has to save himself. Either way, you don’t have to tax your brain with the proceedings and just go with the flow, while enjoying the action. In Olympus, there was mayhem that ensued in the White House thanks to North Korea, while in London it was a bunch of Middle Eastern terrorists who planned to assassinate world leaders.  

In Angel, Gerald Butler plays his role of Mike Banning, secret service agent and a favourite of the President of America. Butler doesn’t look the same as he did in 300 (2006) but that was many eclipses ago. When Morgan Freeman is not playing God, he is playing the president, as is in this case. The president has also chosen Banning to become the director of the secret service but the agent is having some health issues – insomnia, concussions and as a result, he is not sure of taking up the high profile job.

But no health issue can stop him from his commitment to his job of protecting the president. There is an attack, where the whole security setup is wiped out – strangely, Banning survives and he risks his life to save the boss, only to find himself in a hospital, handcuffed to the bed and accused of assassinating the president.

With the president indisposed, the vice president takes over and Banning is blamed for being hand in glove with the Russians. Our hero then has to escape the clutches of the authorities in order to clear his name. Jada Pinkett Smith plays an FBI officer investigating the matter. But it is Nick Nolte who brightens up the proceedings and plays Banning senior. He lives off the grid, in a forest and is more than happy to help his fugitive son.

The film is predictable to the core but fun to watch – you can predict who the bad guys will be, even before the make an appearance. But even while it plays it by the numbers, director Ric Roman Waugh, a stuntman himself, keeps it nice and easy for most parts. Piper Perabo is relegated to playing the wife who has to show the right amount of concern for her troubled husband.

With a fairly average storyline, one didn’t expect Fallen to become a franchise with three films so far. But here it is, alive and kicking.

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