Drive (18 – Dir: Nicolas Winding Refn – Stars: Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan)
Drive is a stylish thriller tribute to Taxi Driver in which a solitary misfit hero finds some kind of humanity in the unforgiving LA underworld.
Gosling plays a mechanic who tops up his income with stints as a Hollywood stunt driver. Being car obsessed, he has another little earner - as a cool getaway driver for armed bank robbers.
He is slowly drawn out of his lonely existence by Irene (Mulligan). Then her husband returns from prison owing money to gangsters, and his attraction to her pulls him into a vicious spiral of protective violence.
Killer Elite (15 – Dir: Gary McKendry – Stars: Jason Stathom, Robert De Niro, Clive Owen)
Stathom plays hitman Bryce out of retirement to rescue his old mentor Hunter (De Niro) held hostage by Sheikh Amr, a deposed king in Oman, after taking but failing to complete a $6million job.
The Sheikh is using Hunter as leverage to get Bryce to kill three former SAS soldiers who killed his three eldest sons during a rebellion.
News of the mission gets to The Feathermen, a group of secretive former SAS, who send their top killer (Owen) to stop him.
Killer Elite suffers from its diffuse plot, and despite lots of action fails to convince.
Tinker, Taylor, Soldier, Spy (15 – Dir: Tomas Alfredson – Stars: Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, John Hurt, Mark Strong)
Film length suits the le Carre classic.
Anyone who slogged through at glacial pace the old TV series – and admittedly you’ll be getting on a bit to have done that - will appreciate having the whole thing wrapped up in double quick time.
It’s very much ‘noises off,’ with little of the action we’re used to in modern spy films, but after initial impatience you begin to appreciate the quality of the period setting, the acting, and the controlled build-up of tension as Smiley (Oldman) finds his way through the smoke and mirrors to close in on the traitor.
The final dispatching of the mole was much more satisfying in the original, though.