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In the picture

Avengers: Endgame ranks among Marvel Cinematic Universe’s most exciting episodes; Triple Frontier is an intense and engaging, albeit a tad uneven, heist thriller.

In the picture

 

Avengers: Endgame***1/2

*ing: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Don Cheadle, Paul Rudd, Brie Larson, Karen Gillan, Danai Gurira, Bradley Cooper, and Josh Brolin

Directed by Anthony Russo and Joe Russo

Tagline: Avenge the fallen

The world’s biggest movie franchise reaches its crescendo with Avengers: Endgame, the most epic adventure that has ever befallen the superhero world. And boy, what an adventure it is!

The culmination of 21 uber-popular blockbusters, Endgame arrives 11 years after Iron Man kicked things off in 2008 and marks the conclusion of Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Infinity saga.

Things pick up where they left off in Infinity War (2018), as the world deals with the consequences of The Snap. The surviving Avengers – including Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) – must reassemble and try to figure out how to undo the damage caused by Thanos (Josh Brolin) in order to save half of all existence (and ensure that Spider-Man can return to cinemas this summer).

They go about their mission with their trademark gusto, blessing us with an absolutely exhilarating outing guaranteed to keep fans riveted from start to finish. The Russo brothers give us some finer well-executed action while doing a terrific job tying up the many disparate storylines that have led to this point.

The many callbacks to Avengers past embedded in Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely’s screenplay remind us just why we are so invested in the fate of these superheroes and add emotional heft to the tale.

But in the midst of the otherwise very engaging proceedings, things do go a bit “wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey”; there are moments where our heroes seem to be jumping through convenient loopholes and you might be left wishing you had a PhD in MCU physics so that you could make sense of the plot mechanics. Parts of the storyline seem overly convoluted; some even seem to contradict the film’s own established rules and ultimately many questions are left unanswered.

IMG-9None of this, however, takes away from the movie’s entertainment value and very significant emotional impact. The film is deeply poignant; the character arcs that meet a resolution are particularly touching. It’s a rewarding experience that benefits from the fact that not only have we spent over a decade with some of these characters, but they have been brought to life by some wonderful acting performances. The perfect casting remains one of the most significant assets in Endgame. Everyone – especially Robert Downey Jr. – is terrific here, and helps elevate the proceedings.

Amusing, engrossing, exhilarating, visually spectacular, fast paced, and fairly breezy for a movie that is three hours in length, Avengers: Endgame will not disappoint fans, even if it may leave them trying to unravel some of its intricacies. This is one of the most exciting superhero events we have ever witnessed. And it may be a while – if ever – till something like this comes along again.

 

Triple Frontier***

*ing: Ben Affleck, Oscar Isaac, Charlie Hunnam, Garrett Hedlund, and Pedro Pascal

Directed by J. C. Chandor

IMG-10A group of former soldiers come together to rob a crime lord in Triple Frontier, an action thriller that appears to have emerged from development hell with much of its intensity still intact.

The film was written by The Hurt Locker writer Mark Boal and was meant to be directed by Kathryn Bigelow, before numerous changes in front of and behind the camera derailed the project as production lagged. The reins were eventually handed to J. C. Chandor, and a fairly solid cast assembled for the thriller.

The central character is Santiago “Pope” Garcia (played by Oscar Isaac), a private military adviser who has spent years trying to capture a formidable drug lord. When an informant reveals the criminal’s location as well as the fact that all of his cash is stashed where he lives, Pope decides to recruit his old Special Forces friends to steal the crook’s money while delivering his comeuppance.

The team he assembles includes realtor Tom “Redfly” Davis (Ben Affleck); motivational speaker William “Ironhead” Miller (Charlie Hunnam) and his MMA fighter brother Ben “Benny” Miller (Garrett Hedlund); and former pilot Francisco “Catfish” Morales (Pedro Pascal).

The traumas of warfare emerge as they set out on their mission. Greed eventually interrupts, causing complications, and the group’s camaraderie is eventually tested as things go very wrong.

Some of the choices at a couple of crucial moments don’t entirely ring true, plus a few instances defy plausibility. But Chandor successfully builds and maintains the tension, ensuring that the tale remains interesting.

IMG-11The talent of the cast also helps, with Isaac holding the film together quite well. But the script doesn’t give most of the characters enough details and depth, and defines them mostly by the scars of their military careers instead of giving them more comprehensive backstories.

Still, while it may be a tad uneven, Triple Frontier manages to maintain the audience’s interest for its two hour running time. Heist caper fans are likely to enjoy this drama, even if the film won’t necessarily end up lingering in your memory.

 

Rating system:  *Not on your life  * ½ If you really must waste your time  ** Hardly worth the bother  ** ½ Okay for a slow afternoon only  *** Good enough for a look see  *** ½ Recommended viewing  **** Don’t miss it  **** ½ Almost perfect  ***** Perfection

Sameen Amer

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