The last big push to turn Chris Pine into an action hero was 2014’s Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, a spy film set in an era redefined by 9/11 and the Bourne movies. That it didn’t take off wasn’t Pine’s fault (he was the fourth movie star to bail out the Jack Ryan franchise after just one or two movies). Since then, however, the actor has been in weird movie star limbo. Unlike the other Chrises he’s often grouped with (Messrs. Hemsworth, Evans, and Pratt), he doesn’t have a Marvel multi-movie deal to fall back on, so even though he once returned as Captain Kirk in the underperforming third episode of the Star Trek reboot. , he carved a more esoteric furrow, playing Robert the Bruce in Outlaw King, embracing his status as Wonder Woman’s boyfriend and starring in a true modern classic – David Mackenzie’s Oscar-nominated neo-western Hell or High Water.
This film gave Pine a welcome opportunity to play a different kind of character – a grizzled, hard-working guy with a system for which Pine’s all-American good looks might have made him a poster boy. It’s no wonder, then, that returning to the world of espionage in a new thriller The contractorfrom director Tarik Saleh, it does so with a character more informed by the conflicted bank robber of Hell or High Water than the jingoist leanings of Tom Clancy’s most famous creation.
Pine plays James Harper, an Army Ranger medic forced off the service after failing a drug test and being thrown into the murkier waters – literally at one point – of privatized military work. James is not a junkie or anything; he’s a good soldier with a crippling leg injury that forced him to self-medicate with strong painkillers. The army brass even gave him an honorable discharge for his service. But they also robbed him of his benefits, which in today’s economic climate is tantamount to crushing a man who once was.
With spiraling debt and a wife (Gillian Jacobs) and young son (Sander Thomas) to support, James reluctantly signs up with the kind of company government agencies hire when they want to maintain plausible deniability about their most clandestine operations. The fact that the man running the company is played by Kiefer Sutherland is enough to give us a heads up that something is wrong and, of course, when James is sent to Berlin on a data-mining mission that goes horribly wrong spectacularly, he soon finds himself injured and alone in a foreign land unable to trust his new employers as they close ranks with the cruelty of a gonzo Jack Bauer.
It’s hardly an original setup for a movie. Since the Vietnam era, American cinema has had a long tradition of using the raw supply veterans receive from the country they risked their lives defending as dramatic water for the mill. But Pine is good at humanizing that trope. Guilt and regret run through his character and he never gets rid of his physical ailments, which helps give the action sequences a thrill of danger. Dramatically, the film also benefits from casting Pine’s Hell or High Water co-star Ben Foster as a comrade-in-arms. Like James, Foster’s character is in a difficult family situation (he has a child with severe special needs), and Foster plays it fair – his outrage at his country’s inability to provide for its veterans who transform into a mercenary do-what-it-takes vindication that blurs the line between good and evil.
It’s definitely better than wild men, a spin-off Danish dark comedy that morphs from slapstick buddy flick to macabre violence to midlife romance crisis flick. The man with the midlife crisis is Martin (Rasmus Bjerg), an office drone who left his family to live his life as a Viking in the forests of Norway. His family doesn’t know he did this (they believe he’s taking part in a team-building exercise), but when his survival skills prove insufficient, he accidentally robs a supermarket before teaming up with a trafficker. drug dealer (Zaki Youssef) hiding in the woods. with a bag full of money following a serious car accident. Co-writer/director Thomas Daneskov continues to pile on incident after incident with little interest in character development. Sofie Gråbøl from The Killing has a thankless role as Martin’s wife.
wake up punk traces the intriguing story of British entrepreneur and climate change activist Joe Corré as he plans to burn five million pounds worth of punk memorabilia to protest his commodification. As the son of Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren, Corré’s decision to destroy his legacy (with his mother’s blessing) quickly raised the ire of what became the punk establishment. Yet this act of Bill Drummond-style cultural vandalism has a purpose. Against the backdrop of the government-sanctioned 40th anniversary celebrations of punk in 2016, Corré’s provocative act exposes the irony of a movement defined by the Sex Pistols’ furious “No Future” mantra as it calcifies under the weight of nostalgia at the very beginning. Right now, political inaction on climate change is beginning to have a profound effect on everyone’s future. Offering a refreshing take on the move, it’s also fascinating to hear Westwood open up about what she thinks it meant and why she never cared to look back.
The Entrepreneur is on Amazon Prime from May 6; Wild Men and Wake Up Punk are on select releases starting May 6.