After the tremendous success of staging and directing the London Olympics’ opening ceremony, which included chucking James Bond and The Queen out of a helicopter, Danny Boyle now brings us the trippy London based heist thriller he was working on at the same time. But is it entrancing?

Director- Danny Boyle

Writers- Joe Ahearne, John Hodge

Simon- James McAvoy
Franck- Vincent Cassel
Elizabeth- Rosario Dawson

James McAvoy works in a fancy art auction house, gets bonked on the head during a robbery, which was orchestrated and carried out by Vincent Cassel, and now he must go to hypnotherapist Rosario Dawson to help recover a missing painting. The story is that simple, but the movie really isn’t.


Not all of Danny Boyle’s movies are classics, but they are all good. He effortlessly shifts from genre to genre, from addictive dramas to angelic rom-coms, from infectious horror to enriching family drama, from bright sci-fi to slumdog Oscar winner. Now he brings us his slant on a heist movie, with some violence and psycho-sexual shenanigans thrown in for good measure.

This movie is built upon the performances of the three leads, and each of their performances are very good, and very strong. The movie opens with a McAvoy voice-over (he has a very engaging voice), and from that moment on his character develops over the course of the 100min movie. McAvoy is really good, as we’ve come to expect, but he gives us some more edge as the movie moves in to its third act. Cassel isn’t the scheming, sleazy, one note criminal he could have been. There’s a little more depth there, and it is thanks to his performance, and the clever writing. Dawson too has more going on than meets the eye, giving a more nuanced performance than we’re used to seeing from her. Plus, she gives great side boob, side bum…and much much more! In fact each of the three leads get naked, to different degrees, over the course of the movie, as is takes an oddly sexual turn in the second half.


While the premise of the movie is simple, the way the story plays out isn’t. The script is really good, with a nice pace, interesting twists (even if some are telegraphed early on), and some clever and precise dialogue. Boyle reunites with writer John Hodge, for the first time since The Beach, and is ably assisted by Joe Ahearne, who has sci-fi cred having directed some new Doctor Who, and having written and directed the very clever Brit vampire show Ultraviolet.

Pay attention to what is going on, as little things that may not make a whole bunch of sense initially will become clear, and important, as the movie progresses. Try not to focus on what you think is going to happen, predicting the twists, or working out what is real or a trance. All will be revealed in time. Instead keep an eye on what IS happening. It is not exactly linear story-telling. Some moments could be confusing, but you generally wouldn’t have to wait too long for clarification. In the end, it mostly all makes sense. Mostly.


The main thing about this movie, though, is the visuals. Danny Boyle has always been a very visually innovative director, and this flick is no exception. This movie looks brilliant, and not just in an “Oh, that looks pretty” kinda way. The way Boyle frames his shots; the way he movies the camera; the way he changes the film stock to drastically change the mood of the moment; the way the movie’s color palate is mostly reds, blues and oranges, yet is still very dark in tone and mood. I really cannot over-emphasize how much I enjoyed the visuals and over-all look of this movie.

However, it’s not all gold. The movie does unravel a little with the final act, which escalates very quickly from a charming quirky heist thriller, to a trippy head game, through to an inexplicably sexual and violent final act. That is not to say the ending is bad, because it isn’t, but I can see it dividing peoples’ opinion on the film.


So… It isn’t as weighty as you might expect, instead it is a clever twist on a heist movie. It doesn’t seem to have pretensions about itself, it is just a dark smart thriller, with an interesting hook. In terms of Boyle’s previous movies it resides somewhere between Shallow Grave (in tone) and Sunshine (in look, and in how it isn’t as deep as you’d expect). The main success of this movie, in my humble opinion, is the visuals. This movie looks amazing, has a clever story, and three strong leads. What more could you want?

Rating: ★★★½☆

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What to say...born in the last year of the seventies, the decade of the best music and movies, Cathal's earliest memories are of movies and comics. Star Wars, Batman, Superman and Indiana Jones filled his childhood, and not a whole lot has changed. He lives in Dublin, with his supremely understanding wife. Cathal voice his opinions across the various corners of The IntarWebs: @CatHaloMovies on The Twitter; Cat Halo Movies on The FaceSpace; and on the Major Spoilers Forum, where all manner of opinions are aired by all manner of folk on a wide variety of topics.

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