For this second March week, a trio of releases aim to bring some explosive-ness into our lives. With Eddie Murphy, it’s a laugh explosion that’s been on hiatus for 33 years. While in the case of Pixie, it’s guns and smart humor exploding across the Irish countryside; while the third, Sentinelle, should have been a full-out action film, but end up with a sputter.
Coming 2 America (Amazon Prime) – It’s been 33 years since we last watched Prince Hakeem (Eddie Murphy) makes his celebrated visit to New York from his native African land of Zamunda. Murphy has since joked about how his Zamunda is the original Wakanda; and while critics then were divided about the film, it was a commercial success, and made movie history as the first all-Black cast film to do well at the box-office. Well, despite going ‘meta’ at some point towards at the end of the film when one character remarks that sequels suck, it is good to welcome Murphy et al, back for this belated ‘better now than never’ outing.
It’s the present day and the film revolves around fatherhood as Hakeem now has 3 daughters. The hilarious premise of the film has to do with how one night back in ‘88, Hakeem actually had an encounter with a ‘lady’, and there’s an illegitimate first-born that exists. Leslie Jones plays the Mom of this son, and as she’s let loose, you will love how she steals practically every scene she’s in. Wesley Snipes in similarly over the top as the despot of neighboring Nexlandia, and its good to see him having so much fun. There’s a Part iii that drags a bit, but all in all, this is one welcome revival of characters we got to love and made us laugh.
Pixie (on Demand) – Here’s an unheralded release from late last year that actually works as an indie, neo-Tarantino/Ritchie film outing. It’s set in bucolic Northern Ireland, and beyond the stunning vistas and countryside scenes, there’s a quirky, interesting Crime Drama that unfolds and keeps us genuinely guessing. The premise has to do with turf wars based on running drugs on the island, on the insidious use of the frock and religious order to perpetuate the drug-running, corpses left in the boot of a car, the most inept of small time ‘gangsters to be’, and the central character of Pixie (winningly played by Olivia Cooke who we last saw in Ready Player One and Thoroughbreds).
Directed by Barnaby Thompson from a screenplay written by his son, Preston; this is one of those small films that lend themselves to the cause that more originality and imagination can happen when you keep away from formulaic narratives and big budgets. To help his cause, Director Thompson enlists the likes of character actors Colm Meaney and Alec Baldwin to play the heavies – Baldwin having fun wearing a cassock, while Meaney eliciting laughter by being a mob boss obsessed with fine cooking. But throughout, it’s Olivia Cooke as Pixie that holds the film together and keeps us utterly charmed by all that transpires. A ‘small’ film with a big, sly humorous heart.
Sentinelle (Netflix France) – Starring actress Olga Kurylenko, – she of the East European pouty beauty, who may be best remembered for being a James Bond girl in Quantum of Solace – this French-directed film can best be described as an Action Revenge film that owes much to films such as Taken. In this case, Olga’s character is a member of an elite squad having bouts of PTSD, so she’s been reassigned to Paris, where her family lives. It’s when her younger sister on a night out encounters some Russian-type oligarchs who hurt her, that the revenge factor, and taking the law into her own hands, becomes the one note narrative of this relatively short film.
Unfortunately, it’s also short on narrative or imagination. It’s crept up the charts of Most Watched in the Philippines – which should be read more as a reflection of our local Netflix audience than the merits of this film. If ever you wanted to witness an 80-minute action film feel like a 180, 3 long hours, this is the film you can point to. All the ingredients to be a strong revenge thriller, but sorely lacking in the thrills department, or in making us have more than a cursory interest in our main protagonist. Olga may eventually prove ti be a capable actress, but it won’t be this film that’ll break the glass ceiling.