• The Invisible Man (2020)

    The Invisible Man is a psycho thriller that imagines a new version of the famous horror film character. Written and directed by Australian genre specialist Leigh Whannell who has brought us genre masterpieces such as Saw and Insidious as well as the science-fiction highlight Upgrade, this movie tells us the story of a young architect named Cecilia who finally has the courage to run away from an abusive relationship with a wealthy optics engineer named Adrian. She drugs him, escapes his isolated mansion and is saved by her resilient sister Emily. Cecilia still feels highly unstable and expects her abusive ex-partner to track her down and hurt her. She moves in with a family friend called James who is a cop and his daughter Sydney. Things seem to get better when Cecilia learns that her former partner has committed suicide. His brother and lawyer Tom even announces her that she will receive a generous sum of money on a monthly basis as long as she remains mentally sane and doesn't commit a crime. Despite the good news, Cecilia is unable to turn the page. Items like her keys mysteriously disappear from her new home. She collapses during a job interview. Someone sends Emily a hateful message in her name. Cecilia starts to wonder whether her former partner isn't dead at all and has come back to destroy her life or whether she is just imagining these things and slowly going crazy.

    This movie convinces on numerous levels. The acting performances are truly credible and especially lead actress Elisabeth Moss convinces as an unstable woman who desperately tries to get her life back on track. The idea to combine a historic horror film character with a contemporary setting of domestic abuse is courageous, fresh and inspiring. The movie builds up anticipation, atmosphere and tension that lead to a spectacular final quarter.

    There are some elements that could be improved however. The film certainly overstays its welcome with a length cracking the two-hour mark. It also features some tired genre tropes such as extremely clumsy behaviour by the lead character in the opening sequence and the fact that nobody believes her incredible story. There are also very few scares for a horror movie as this film rather qualifies as a mixture of domestic violence drama and psychological thriller.

    If you are willing to see a legendary horror film character in a completely new setting involving domestic abuse, you are certainly going to appreciate The Invisible Man. This movie has the very positive message to fight domestic abuse by any means necessary, get every help available and bring the perpetrator to justice. In a certain way, this movie combines social drama and psychological thriller. If you simply want to watch a great horror movie however, then this movie can be described as tense at best but is very rarely truly scary.

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  • Breaking In (2018)

    Breaking In is a decent action-thriller that convinces with solid acting performances and lots of tension in eighty-eight compact minutes despite a low budget. The movie revolves around an African-American family that goes through hell during one fateful night. Gabrielle Union convinces as resilient mother who has just lost her estranged father who had been accused of multiple crimes but who got murdered just before he had to go to court. The family mother travels all the way to rural Wisconsin with her teenage daughter and younger son to spend one last weekend at the family mansion of her childhood. She plans on selling the mansion and turning the page as quickly as possible. However, a group of four thugs have entered the mansion and surprise the unsuspecting family members when they arrive. The gangster manage to kidnap the daughter and the son while the mother escapes and hides in the nearby woods. She realizes that she is on her own and needs to risk her life in order to save her children. She will need to use the traps, surveillance and secrets of the house to overpower four former convicts who are looking for a safe holding four million dollars in cash.

    There are numerous elements that make Breaking In an enjoyable movie. First and foremost, the acting performances are above average. Gabrielle Union convinces as strong mother and is easily a sympathetic lead character to root for. Her daughter is played by a versatile Ajiona Alexus who adds more smart feminine power to the movie. The characters of the bad guys are rather fleshed out as well. The leader is the most organized, smart and also unpredictable one. There is also a paranoid military veteran who is responsible for opening the safe. One of the gangsters is a violent American-Mexican psycho with plenty of tattoos. The last of the quartet is a young guy with dyed blonde hair who looks like the singer of a skate punk band in the late nineties and who represents the softer side as he wants to avoid harming anyone. Another strong element of the movie is that it keeps the tension elevated after an appropriate introduction of about twenty minutes. The final hour of this movie is filled with many twists and turns that will keep you watching until the end.

    The story itself however doesn't offer anything new and is overall predictable. The complex security system of the mansion should have been used more to add a more contemporary and technological twist. Some of the scenes feel a little bit rushed like the one when the children manage to break loose and flee.

    Despite a few minor flaws, Breaking In is an entertaining action-thriller with great acting performances, interesting characters, lots of tensions and a few intriguing twists and turns. Genre fans will get an hour and a half of solid entertainment. Ignore the exaggerated negative reviews and give it a try.

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  • Anna (2019)

    Anna is an entertaining action-thriller in the key of Atomic Blonde, Hanna and Red Sparrow. Directed by veteran Luc Besson, the movie tells the story of a beautiful drug addict who is given the opportunity to work as a KGB spy. After a hard training, she is sent to Paris where she works as a model and is in a relationship with a female French colleague while secretly executing enemies of the state and stealing confidential information. Soon enough, the CIA gets aware of her activities and sets a trap for her. She is forced to kill her own superior in exchange for freedom and a fresh new start in Hawaii. However, Anna starts making her own plans as she knows that she can't rely on anyone but herself.

    The movie has numerous obvious flaws. The story is too closely inspired by the aforementioned movies, extremely predictable and completely exaggerated. The movie includes numerous unnecessary errors such as people using modern laptops in the mid-eighties. The numerous shifts in the timeline are annoying, confusing and overused.

    The movie is best enjoyed if you switch your brain off and don't ask yourself any questions. The action sequences are breathtaking. The diversified locations add a lot of atmosphere. Rather unknown lead actress Sasha Luss convinces as unpredictable femme fatale while veteran actress Helen Mirren steals the show as grumpy Soviet handler.

    Anna isn't a movie that will win many awards or leave significant marks. However, it's enjoyably fast-paced and vividly entertaining. It offers its viewers two vibrant hours to escape from reality and that should be considered good enough in bleak times like these. Grab a few beers, get some snacks and enjoy this film with your family members or friends.

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  • 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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