Ricky's Film Reviews

Bringing you honest reviews of recent releases

The Two Faces Of January


Chester and his wife Colette are vacationing in Greece.
One day, they meet a young tour guide by the name of Rydal who quickly befriends them.
The couple have it all going for them – wealth, career, success..

..murder, deceit, criminals on the run.

Rydal is soon going to wish he’d never laid eyes on the couple. Because he’s about to be sucked into a dangerous game from which he may never return..


Screen Shot 2014-05-19 at 22.10.37




Viggo Mortensen – Chester MacFarland

Kirsten Dunst – Colette MacFarland

Oscar Isaac – Rydal



Murder Mystery Is History

This movie was like a very watered-down murder mystery. In fact it sort of portrayed the whole Murder Mystery concept as toast. Gone. Dried up.
Because this entire movie took elements from the concept and displayed them differently.
Any murders which take place are done in front of your eyes so there’s no guessing who did it – but guessing if he / she will get caught.
The movie moves at a good pace, as the scenes blend from one to another with a good fluidity. One minute the characters are in a hotel room – the next they’re in a Greek back passage (no pun intended. I’m not that filthy.)

So direction wise, it flowed nicely. But honestly – something was missing.
Something crucial, something to keep the viewer entertained. Imagine an apple whose core has been ripped out; this is The Two Faces of January. It has a structure, but it is lacking something deep down. Ultimately, it is a couple who walk around a lot whilst trying to remain invisible from the authorities – they meet a tour guide who latches on to them for some bizarre reason. And then he is drawn in to the husband’s murderous antics.
I won’t lie – the overall plot is dull as dishwater. I honestly think I’ve had more fun putting my underwear on.

Nothing stands out – it all just sort of.. happens.


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The scenery in this movie is beautiful.
Filmed mostly in Crete and Athens in Greece, the movie manages to capture some lovely sights as the main couple go on the run across mountains, small villages and beachfronts. Parts of it were also filmed in Istanbul, Turkey – again, bringing warm sunshine to an otherwise dull movie.

What the movie manages to do superbly, is capture the atmosphere of foreign lands. You know that classic street you find in Spain or southern France; long cobbled backstreet, cream-coloured flaking walls which seem to be residential buildings yet appear derelict. Small wooden shutters, lanterns hanging on the wall..
This is the type of decor the producers captured perfectly. I felt like I fancied a trip abroad whilst watching it to be honest. One scene actually made me utter “whoa” under my breath, where the three characters are trekking across hillside / mountain tops. The scenery was gorgeous.



Out Of Tune, Out Of Place

The soundtrack to this movie was like a needle in a balloon.
For example, one scene sees the husband kill a character – and all of a sudden, cheeky jazz music starts playing.
I frowned.
I also frowned during the scene where Chester, Colette and Rydal are staggering across a stretch of mountain – to the sound of a crafty musical score. The only way I can describe it is like a cartoon; you know the music which plays as a character / animal in a cartoon are creeping toward their prey – arms raised, legs stretched far out in front of them with each step.. it just didn’t fit. Which actually threw the entire movie into question. “..is this suposed to be a black comedy or is it serious?” I thought at one point.

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Outside Llewyn Davis

What a refreshing change, seeing Oscar Isaac smiling for once!
Before the movie started, I wondered how different the actor would be. For those of you who haven’t seen Inside Llewyn Davis, Oscar plays (funnily enough) Llewyn – a disgruntled musician who tries desperately to break into the industry, but who seems to fail at various opportunities. Homeless and unhappy, he slums it by sleeping at the apartments of his friends and colleagues.
I don’t think he ever actually smiles throughout the whole thing, appearing miserable in every camera shot.

The Two Faces of January was a nice change; the actor certainly makes the most of his dashing cheesy grin, and he brings a totally new angle of his talent to the screen. Where Llewyn slumped around with a mean face anyway, Oscar just delivered the script and that was it. Not much effort needed.
As Rydal however, we get to see him act his socks off – crying, passion, anger, upset, he plays it all very well.
I can’t believe I actually saw him smile.

 Screen Shot 2014-05-19 at 22.20.12 Oscar-Isaac-in-the-coen-brothers-inside-llewyn-davis_162542 563911_044 Oscar-Isaac-Talks-Inside-Llewyn-Davis



This movie seemed to take ideas which have been used in other movies before. A classic example would be the nighttime scene where Chester is frantically running through a marketplace, trying to locate Colette.
A blonde-haired woman strides past him.
He looks up. Goes after her. Grabs her shoulder. She turns round.. and its not her.
Seriously – that old chestnut? I’ve seen it too many times before.

A few recycled movie ideas and a score of comical music later, ,I began to wonder if the director was taking the piss. What the fuck was going on here? What was the point of this movie?


Oscar Isaac


Overall, The Two Faces of January is a very subtle thriller. It lacks any form of high intensity or intrigue, which unfortunately is what lets it down.
Oh, it’s a thriller – but it just isn’t thrilling enough; it is too far down the scale.
Watching this was like going to the cinema to sit through an episode of bloody Poirot or Murder She Wrote. You know – a tale of murder and deceit which is subtle enough to air on television during weekday afternoons.

I’m sure Hollywood are excited by the movie because of the cast involved and how great they look on the poster, but don’t be fooled. It seriously isn’t anything to shout about.
I would urge anyone out there to NOT spend money seeing this movie.
I would say rent it, but even that is spending valuable dollar on a load of tripe.
Just download / stream it. That’s what everyone else seems to be doing these days.

A thriller so subtle, it forgot to be a thriller.


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This entry was posted on May 19, 2014 by .
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