Another popular movie running on Netflix. This is a fairly-run-of-the-mill ‘killer seeks redemption kind of a story starring Chris Hemsworth (y’know … the Mighty Thor) as a mercenary trying to save the kidnapped son of a drug lord.
There’s nothing here that really sets it apart from other movies with morally ambiguous action heroes, but I did like it: the film has heart, as well as some of the most devastating action sequences I’ve ever seen (yes, even better The Old Guard from a few days back). Hemsworth manages to deliver a surprisingly sophisticated air of hard-bitten vulnerability, and his young charge (ably played by Rudhraksh Jaiswal) convincingly takes apart the soldier’s emotional armour and finds the makings of a hero inside. Pretty good stuff, actually.
Warning! There’s a prediction/possible spoiler near the end!
In my less-than-humble opinion, a TV series based on a movie based on a graphic novel is never going to go well. It’s a bit like the sci-fi view of cloning: successive copies are always a little less perfect than the first generation.
The Watchmen franchise has managed to get around this by making a perfect copy of the original, and then pretty much rewriting the original for the TV series. So far, the results are … encouraging. Couple of things to bear in mind though:
Every time I review a DC film, I say pretty much the same thing: they have to stop taking themselves so seriously. Well, once again, they ignored me: Joker is about as serious as you can possibly get, and it’s a much better film for it. For me, this is their best outing to date, and it’s pretty grim.
Joker is set in Gotham, before Batman and before Arkham became a rest home for homicidal super villains. The connection is there, but it’s very loose: this is not a film about super heroes, this is a film about how we’re all just a few steps removed from becoming a menace to the public.
Joaquin Phoenix, unsurprisingly, turns in a masterful (and I mean masterful, as in ‘Oscar worthy’) performance as Arthur Fleck, a failed clown and failing stand-up comedian suffering from a range of mental ailments and perpetual bad luck. As his life spirals out of control and his past unravels around him, he becomes increasingly unhinged, delusional, and of course, homicidal.