Geoff Cox’s DVDs: Sabotage, Pompeii, The Two Faces Of January, Vamps
Arnie Schwarzenegger’s undemanding style of acting continues to do exactly what it says on the tin.
But rarely has the 67-year-old action hero been surrounded by so many stereotypes as in SABOTAGE (15: Lionsgate).
In this gory, convoluted shoot-’em-up, Schwarzenegger is the leader of a renegade squad of drug enforcement agents who secretly keep millions of dollars they found during a raid.
They find themselves in a bloody battle with the cartel they were tasked to bring down and as double-crosses come to light, memb ers of the team are targeted one by one, each killing more grisly than the next.
Director David Ayer wrote the script for Oscar-winning Training Day and asked weighty moral questions, but his focus here is firmly on blood splatter and broken bones. Only Olivia Williams’ sharp-tongued investigator makes any lasting impression in the by-the-numbers ensemble cast.
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> Everything about sword-and-sandal spectacular POMPEII (12: Entertainment One) is off-kilter, from the laughable dialogue and predictable romance to the ludicrous carnage and cheesy acting.
Where did Kiefer Sutherland get that British accent as corrupt Roman senator Corvus, who arrives in Pompeii to invest in plans by Severus (Jared Harris) to modernise the city, but mainly to nab his daughter (Emily Browning) as his wife?
But she’s smitten by horse-whispering slave-turned-gladiator Milo (Kit Harington).
This turgid soap in togas is set in 79AD and Mount Vesuvius is about the erupt, and when the volcanic fire and brimstone explodes, the lava flows and the CGI catastrophe runs rampant.
The thrilling epic destruction you’ve waited an hour to witness comes complete with tsunami. Absolute nonsense, yet mildly entertaining.
> Atmospheric 1960s-set thriller THE TWO FACES OF JANUARY (12: Studio Canal) is based on Patricia Highsmith’s novel. While it shares plenty with the author’s The Talented Mr Ripley – sun, superb scenery and sexual tension – it’s also an intelligent and well-crafted gem in its own right.
Viggo Mortensen is cast as an American conman on the run, who arrives in Athens with his wife (Kirsten Dunst).
When he accidentally kills the private detective on his case, he persuades their scam-artist tour guide to help move the body and the trio enter a high-stakes game with the authorities and one another as they attempt to cover up the crime and flee the country.
The Greek and Turkish locations are terrific and the performances all top-notch, with the unfolding plot full of intrigue as suspense builds.
> Supernatural comedy VAMPS (15: Metrodome) lacks the same bite that Clueless had nearly 20 years ago despite director Amy Heckerling and star Alicia Silverstone being reunited. The film has some perky performances and winning gags, but fails to recapture the old magic.
Best friends Goody (Silverstone) and Stacy (Krysten Ritter), regulars on the Manhattan social scene, have a deadly secret. They’re reluctant vampires trying to maintain normal, human lives.
The undead duo’s cover story is placed in jeopardy when Stacy falls for a handsome classmate whose father is a notorious vampire slayer.
In the era of True Blood, the gentle quirkiness feels too tame to make a lasting impression.