Director: Clint Eastwood, Rated M, 129 Mins
After such a spectacular cavalcade of movies, legendary actor and director Clint Eastwood has for the first time chosen to look into the sensitive topic of human mortality through his thought provoking drama on the afterlife.
It is adapted from a convoluted script by Peter Morgan, who was also responsible for the screenplay for The Last King of Scotland and Frost/Nixon.
Even though his latest production falls short of his Academy Award winning movie Million Dollar Baby, Eastwood still delivers an interesting storyline that revolves around three main characters and their particular experiences with the afterlife - each taking place in different parts of the world.
In effect Hereafter offers up three storylines beginning with that of Marie Lelay (Cécile de France), a French television personality who after a near-death experience in Indonesia has difficulty adjusting to work back in Paris.
In London, young twins Marcus and Jason (Frankie and George McLaren) cover for their drug-addicted mother to stop social workers sending them to foster homes until Jason is killed in an accident which threatens to destroy the family.
And in San Francisco, psychic George Lonegan (Matt Damon from the Bourne Trilogy) retreats to a factory job to escape the demands of bereaved clients desperate to contact the dead.
Eastwood appears to have had some difficulty in coming to grips with aspects of the afterlife. This is revealed in the scenes showing shadowy figures against some bright shining lights that appear after Marie’s near death experience and again when George agrees to arrange the “connection” between Marcus and his dead brother Jason.
Nevertheless Hereafter does include some fine performances from de France and the McLaren Brothers and especially from Academy Award winning actor Damon - be it a somewhat restrained one.
In some respects Eastwood has faltered in his direction by delving into such a complex subject matter but leaves it to the viewing audience to determine if there really is life after death through his beautiful ending.
VIC'S VERDICT: 2 ½ Rubber Stamps
Director: George Tillman Jr, Rated MA, 98 Mins
Unlike his biopic Notorious which focused on the controversial life of rapper Christopher Wallace, director George Tillman Jr has this time around turned his cameras onto an ex-con hell-bent on avenging his brother’s murder.
This is certainly not the best action movie ever made but it is surprisingly a satisfying one.
As indicated in the opening scenes, Tillman has identified three main characters - Driver (played by former world wrestling champion Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, star of Race to Witch Mountain), Cop (Eagle Eye actor Billy Bob Thornton) and Killer (Oliver Jackson-Cohen from Going the Distance).
Each has a date with destiny in the surprising twist at the end of the movie.
After serving 10 years in prison and with the names and addresses in his possession, Driver has only one mission in life - to avenge the murder of his older brother when they were double-crossed after a bank robbery.
Like a raging bull, Driver wastes no time in going after each of the killers involved, intent on killing all of them.
However there are three people who stand in his way, the veteran drug-addicted cop (Thornton) who is only days away from retiring, his partner Cicero (Carla Gugino) and the young contract killer (Jackson-Cohen) paid to hunt Driver down and kill him.
But it is the imposing screen presence of “The Rock” that really stands out, fitting flawlessly into his character and reprising the action role that he does best.
With time running out, the race is on and there is only one winner in this fast paced revenge thriller, with Driver systematically eliminating each killer before the cop and contract killer can get to him.
Despite some flaws in the storyline and a reasonable performance from Thornton, not to mention the minimal dialogue from the lead star, Tillman still manages to transform his fast moving production into an entertaining movie, due mainly to some great action sequences featuring “The Rock”.
VIC'S VERDICT: 3 Rubber Stamps
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