Adam Brannon


An avid lover of all things film, Adam Brannon has grown up with a huge passion for cinema that can be traced right back to his favourite childhood movie, Steven Spielberg's smash hit, Jurassic Park.

After graduating from the University of Lincoln with a degree in journalism, he now writes film reviews for his own website, Movie Metropolis and for the Press Association.

It’s always refreshing to see a film released primarily for the adult market. We all loved The Hunger Games, but imagine what the series could’ve been like had the franchise been given a 15 or even an 18 certification.

And Fifty Shades of Grey may have its critics (me being one of them) but at least it appealed to those of us not interested in sharing cinema screens with rambling tweens. The finest of the adult genre? Well, that has to be Gone Girl. But now there’s a new kid on the block, ready to steal its crown. Is The Girl on the Train a worthy adversary?

Photo: Universal Studios

Photo: Universal Studios

Alcoholic Rachel Watson (Emily Blunt) catches daily glimpses of a seemingly perfect couple, Scott (Luke Evans) and Megan (Haley Bennett), from the window of her train. One day, Watson witnesses something shocking unfold in the garden of the strangers’ home. Rachel tells the authorities what she thinks she saw after learning Megan is missing. Unable to trust her memory, the troubled woman begins her own investigation, while police suspect that Rachel may have crossed a dangerous line.

Emily Blunt has become one of Hollywood’s finest actors, constantly adding new genres to her resume. From The Devil Wears Prada to Sicario and beyond, there is nothing she won’t try and The Girl on the Train is bolstered by a career-best performance by the actress. It’s never easy to play a drunk convincingly; you can look to some UK soap operas for proof of that, but she manages to pull it off exceptionally well.

Of the supporting cast, only Justin Theroux makes a lasting impact as Rachel’s ex-husband Tom, now living with his new wife Anna – a lacklustre Rebecca Ferguson. It would be unfair to sling too much mud at a very talented group of actors, but up against Blunt, there really is no comparison.

Elsewhere, the complex narrative of Paula Hawkins’ book translates to a rather messy filming style when viewed on the big screen. Continuous flashbacks from within Rachel’s mind are handled reasonably well by director Tate Taylor (The Help) and he manages to wrench everything together to stop the plot from becoming incoherent.

Unfortunately, The Girl on the Train is a victim of its own intense marketing campaign. The trailers have given away far too much for those who haven’t read the book and whilst the twists and turns aren’t immediately obvious, some of the Cluedo-esque fun has been removed. It’s clear Dreamworks wanted the film to resemble Gone Girl as much as possible, aiming to attract a similar audience, but this may have backfired slightly.

Overall, The Girl on the Train is a particularly faithful adaptation of the novel of the same name, held up by an intense and frankly incredible performance by Emily Blunt. Unfortunately, some of the film’s suspense has been lost by a poorly executed marketing campaign and as such it becomes a passable addition to the adult thriller genre. This year’s Gone Girl it is not.

The Girl on the Train rating: 6.5/10

It’s hard to remember such a lacklustre summer blockbuster season. From unnecessary sequels to underwhelming novel adaptations, it’s been one disappointment after another.

After the criticism of spring’s Batman v Superman, DC Comics and Warner Bros. really needed a hit on their hands if they were to compete with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Suicide Squad is their answer, but after an exhaustive marketing campaign, is the final product any good?

Will Smith, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Joel Kinnaman, Jai Courtney, Margot Robbie, and Karen Fukuhara in Suicide Squad. Photo by Warner Bros.

Will Smith, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Joel Kinnaman, Jai Courtney, Margot Robbie, and Karen Fukuhara in Suicide Squad. Photo by Warner Bros.

To be frank, not really. Director David Ayer has one of the best ensemble casts in years, but wastes them in a film as loud as any Transformers movie, and about as clever as one too.

Figuring they’re all expendable, a U.S. intelligence officer (Viola Davis) decides to assemble a team of dangerous, incarcerated supervillains for a top-secret mission. Now armed with government weapons, Deadshot (Will Smith), Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), Killer Croc and other despicable inmates must learn to work together. Dubbed Task Force X, the criminals unite to battle a mysterious and powerful entity, while the diabolical Joker (Jared Leto) launches an evil agenda of his own.

From the outset, you can tell Suicide Squad isn’t going to waste time with lengthy introductions to its main characters, and this is a breath of fresh air. It gets around this stumbling block in stylish ease as each villain is given his or her own 3 minute backstory, with nifty graphics completing the sequences.

It’s a pleasing start to a film that promised so much in its trailers, but things really start to go downhill from there as our characters are forced to muscle their way through countless faceless enemies, culminating in a derivative battle against, you guessed it, more dull enemies. It’s almost like watching a third-person video game taking place on a massive screen.

Nevertheless, the cast does well with the material they’re given. Will Smith is his ever-likeable self and channels Deadshot from the source material with flair. However, the film really belongs to Margot Robbie and Jared Leto. Their performances are spot on, with Robbie in particular being the film’s ray of sunshine. Leto’s Joker is unfortunately not given anywhere near enough screen time despite the film’s two hour length.

The soundtrack is fantastic. Boasting Eminem, Grace and Panic at the Disco, it’s a pleasant distraction from the at times incomprehensible mayhem taking place on screen.

Special effects wise, Suicide Squad is fine, if a little uninspiring. The editing and cinematography are very clever indeed but the CGI goes from great to poor in a heartbeat. Considering the film’s $175 million budget, this is completely unacceptable.

Overall, Suicide Squad promised us so much and has delivered relatively little. Drawing from the exceptional DC Universe, audiences could’ve had a film completely different from the slew of superhero films we are constantly blighted with these days. Instead, we’ve been given one of the most generic yet and it continues 2016’s trend as one of the worst summer blockbuster seasons in recent memory.

Suicide Squad rating: 5/10