Netflix Round-up

This post was written by Colin Free on December 18, 2017

Although Netflix is clearly concentrating on TV series these days, there are still a fair number of original movies, including those that are given a minimal theatrical release. Here is a round up of some recent ones:

Gerald’s Game

One of the few Stephen King books not previously turned into a movie. Husband and wife Gerald and Jessie take a trip to a remote lake house. In an attempt to spice up their love life Gerald handcuffs Jessie to the bed. Gerald collapses with a heart attack and Jessie cannot extricate herself…

It sounds like a limited premise and that is the problem. The story is fleshed out in various ways and takes a completely unbelievable turn in the last 10 minutes. Carla Gugino is good as Jessie though.
Rating: 4 out of 10

Holiday Joy

This looks like it is a standard body swap comedy, as a high school student swaps lives with a seemingly more popular girl. Largely aimed at teens but it has a lot of heart and a better than you would expect lead performance from Bailee Madison.
Rating: 6.5 out of 10

I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore

Actor Macon Blair, so good in Blue Ruin and Green Room, makes his directorial debut with this neat crime drama. A depressed nurse – the excellent Melanie Lynskey – has her house broken into. The police investigation is ineffective, so teaming up with her neighbour, played by Elijah Wood, she decides to track down the criminals. Gritty and, at times, violent, and often blackly comic I thoroughly enjoyed this.
Rating: 7.5 out of 10

The Babysitter

A young boy wants to find out what his beautiful and seemingly perfect babysitter gets up to when he goes to bed. He spies on her as she invites some friends over and sees them murder a young man because they are in league with the devil. He spends the rest of the evening trying to stay alive and deal with the killers. This is basically Home Alone with added blood and gore and it is very much in the vein of films like The Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse. Good throw away fun.
Rating: 6.5 out of 10

Williams

It is possible to enjoy films about formula 1 racing if you are not a fan – think Rush, Senna or Grand Prix. However, this look at the life of Frank Williams is strictly for the fans of the sport and in particular the team. There are some poignant moments involving his deceased wife, but not much else of interest for the casual watcher.
Rating: 4.5 out of 10

6 Days

Probably the best Netflix original movie so far, retelling the story of the hostage taking in the Iranian embassy in London in 1980. The story is economically told in just over 90 minutes with all the key characters introduced and the events clearly told. Jamie Bell is very good as the leader of the SAS team that stormed the building, but even better is Mark Strong as the policeman looking for a peaceful solution.

Despite the outcome being known, director Toa Fraser builds the tension well. There are only a couple of false notes: was a report on the snooker really the top story on the BBC 6 O’clock news whilst the siege was ongoing? Also, Abbie Cornish gives a very mannered performance as Kate Adie.
Rating: 8.5 out of 10

Our Souls at Night

A prestigious Netflix original drama about a tentative relationship between a widow and a widower. This just did not work for me, as the leads, Robert Redford and Jane Fonda felt too starry and unconvincing as the lonely duo.
Rating: 4.5 out of 10

Taken Heart

A watchable Taken knock off. Gina Holden is pretty good as the single Mum and undercover detective who goes on a mission to rescue her kidnapped daughter in Belize.
Rating: 5 out of 10

Mudbound

Given a very limited simultaneous cinema release a couple of weeks ago, Mudbound has attracted glowing reviews. But this story about a white and a black family adjusting to life on a farm in post world war 2 Mississippi really bored me. No cliché was left unused, and the murky picture just added to the soporific feeling. Not even Carey Mulligan could save this.
Rating: 3.5 out of 10

Security

A totally by the book action thriller about an 11 year old girl trying to escape from a criminal gang who want to kill her before she give evidence at a trial. She appears at a mall and the security guards let her in. As always in movies, it just so happens that an ex special services guy (Antonio Banderas) is working his first night as part of the security team. The action sequences are decently handled and the setting of the deserted mall works well but the script is pretty bad. Ben Kingsley seems to be channelling Anthony Hopkins as the chief villain.
Rating: 6 out of 10

Killer App

Dismal techo thriller, replete with unconvincing dialogue, unbelievable characters and bad acting.
Rating: 2.5 out of 10

Undercover Grandpa

The great James Caan’s talents are wasted in this teen action adventure. He’s an ex special ops guy (and there seems to be an awful lot of those about these days) who helps his grandson after his potential love interest disappears.
Rating: 4 out of 10

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