• And Then There Were None (2015)

    And Then There Were None might be the most popular thriller ever written in the history of literature. It's quite a task to transform a novel with such a reputation into a great movie or television series. The British Broadcasting Corporation did a very good job with this television series consisting of three episodes of about sixty minutes.

    The final result convinces with gloomy atmosphere, claustrophobic locations and tense plot close to the original story. The actresses and actors play their roles with conviction, passion and precision. Despite a considerable length of almost three hours, the final result doesn't overstay its welcome due to the elevated number of murders and the strong relationships between the different characters.

    There are only few things to improve. The introduction was a little bit stiff and slightly overstayed its welcome. The locations could have been a little bit more contemporary, diversified and intriguing. The pace towards the end could have been even more frantic to increase tension.

    Still, the British Broadcasting Corporation's adaptation of Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None is one of the best versions of the popular source material. The final result might seem somewhat stiff and overlong to younger audiences but connoisseurs of the source material will praise the series' atmosphere and precision. This is an old-fashioned but timeless whodunit that honours the source material appropriately.

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  • Ein starkes Team: Abgetaucht (2020)

    Abgetaucht is the eightiest film of the German Ein starkes Team crime film series.

    The story revolves around a lawyer who is killed in a sauna. The main suspect is a childhood friend of one of the investigators who has to go into hiding. However, the suspect himself is being hunted down by foreigners tied to organized crime in the construction business.

    The movie convinces with its charismatic locations showing the clean and dirty sides of German capital Berlin. The characters are dynamic, intriguing and sympathetic. The film remains tense until its final moments.

    This episode however includes several plot holes. An elderly lady asks the fugitive to buy some groceries for her without even giving him a list or telling him what to buy. The obnoxious female investigator lies to her partners and manipulates the investigations in a way that she would normally at least get suspended or perhaps even fired in real life. In the showdown, two captives are unable to open a window that is though perfectly easy to open. I sure know this for a fact because the basement of my parents' house has the exact same windows as in the movie.

    Despite numerous headscratching plot holes, Abgetaucht is an overall entertaining thriller for genre fans.

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  • Knives Out (2019)

    Knives Out is a murder-mystery movie in the key of old-fashioned Agatha Christie or Edgar Wallace novels and their cinematic adaptations throughout the sixties and seventies of the last century. This sounds worse than it is because a movie without an overdose of special effects that goes back to the basics is actually quite refreshing. Elderly audiences will adore this movie and it might as well introduce younger audiences to this almost forgotten type of cinema.

    This thriller works well for numerous reasons. The actors and actresses are veterans and talented youngster who complement one another perfectly. Young Cuban actress Ana de Armas delivers the goods as good-hearted caretaker who ends up mingled in a crime. Veteran Christopher Plummer is excellent as eccentric author who despises his own family. The diversified Daniel Craig convinces as mysterious investigator who tries to put all the pieces of the puzzle together.

    The locations and settings are simple but very efficient in this movie. Most parts of the film take place in a gorgeous mansion and even though the architecture and landscapes look splendid, the tight rooms and sinister decorations give the film a gloomy vibe. The few scenes that are filmed away from that location offer some refreshing diversity in form of small appartments, charming downtown areas and rural restaurants.

    The plot obviously comes around with a few twists and turns. However, those don't come as big surprises if you are familiar with this type of storytelling. Another minor issue is that too many details are revealed rather quickly through flashbacks. This movie would have been even better if it had given its audience the time and occasion to come to its own conclusions and put the pieces of the puzzle together.

    Still, Knives Out offers one hundred thirty minutes of old-fashioned but well-executed murder-mystery entertainment and convinces thanks to a solid plot, great locations and gifted actresses and actors. In addition to this, this film also offers some soial criticism by pointing out the egoism, greed and manipulation of the rich and the famous. If you want to know what kind of movies your parents or grand-parents enjoyed when they were younger, give this film a fair chance. Sometimes, going back to basics means advancing in the right direction.

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  • Siberia (2018)

    Siberia is a slow-paced romantic thriller that has received a surprising number of unfair reviews. While the movie is certainly no genre highlight, it convinces with solid acting performances, a gloomy atmosphere and a realistic story.

    The story revolves around an American diamond merchant who travels to Saint Petersburg in Russia for a big deal. Upon arrival, his contact person has vanished and the rare blue diamonds are also gone. A local gangster boss however insists on getting these diamonds delivered as quickly as possible and gives the merchant forty-eight hours to find them. The diamond merchant wants to save his reputation and travels to the Siberian hometown of his partner. He learns that his partner attempted to double-cross another gangster boss by trying to sell fake diamonds. The diamond merchant now understands that what seemed to be a perfect deal is a dangerous situation. Even the Russian secret service starts investigating. The diamond merchant however gets unexpected help from a cosmopolite café owner he falls in love with and a former South African trade partner. The diamond merchant must try to find his contact, get the deal done and cooperate with the secret service in order to leave the country alive.

    Siberia's main flaw is that the film is quite slow-paced before the final thirty minutes finally increase intensity.

    However, the movie convinces on several levels as well. Every scene has a purpose for the story. The bear hunting scene for example shows us how the café owner's brother starts to trust the diamond merchant and tolerate the relationship between his sister and the mysterious foreigner. The acting performances are convincing and honest. Keanu Reeves plays a calm and experienced man which explains how he could be involved in diamond trafficking but his insecure and tender side also shows that he is despising some of his partners and longing for a fulfilling relationship. The story involves numerous interesting side characters such as an intimidating gangster boss and a cunning secret agent. The settings of the movie are splendid and vary from one of the world's most beautiful cities with Saint Petersburg to rural towns in Northeastern Siberia. The story is complex but always easy to follow thanks to its smooth pace. The ending of the movie is unconventional but realistic and certainly offers some food for thought.

    The more I think about this movie, the more positive elements I find. I would recommend it to patient viewers with an interest in Russian culture. If you like slow-paced Scandinavian, German and British thrillers, you might also possibly like this movie. If you expect Keanu Reeves to play a similar role to his John Wick character, you won't find it in here. If you need thrillers to be fast-paced and focused on explosive special effects, you've got it all wrong. Siberia is a gloomy thriller that stands out with its unique style nowadays and focuses on character and story development rather than impressive action scenes and baffling plot twists.

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  • Racheengel - Ein eiskalter Plan (2010)

    Each time I give a German crime film a chance I end up regretting it because almost all of them are dull, predictable and slow-paced. Racheengel - Ein eiskalter Plan is no exception and the actual story unfolds so slowly that it's particularly hard to sit through the first thirty minutes of the movie.

    The film then turns into a stereotypical family drama as the bad little sister comes haunting a cop who is investigating a murder case in a stylish hotel. The evil sister causes heated discussions between the cop and her husband, turns her daughter against her and easily seduces her colleague. Unexpectedly, the bad girl is also involved in the murder case. The moralizing lesson is to trust the ones you love and who are close to you and to fear the unknown. And to ignore contemporary German thrillers.

    Acting performances are stiff, cinematography is dull and the plot is unclever. The only redeeming values are the wonderful winter landscapes and Katharina Wackernagel's stylish looks. Those aren't things that should even be mentioned when reviewing a so-called thriller that turns out being a snoozer.

    If you like depressive family dramas, you can give this piece of boredom a try but anyone else should skip this exchangeable dragging pseudo-thriller.

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