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Friday 23 June 2017
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What She Said! with Christine Bentley & Kate Wheeler on The Jewel Radio Network.

2 Movie Reviews by Anne Brodie: Maggie & Hot Pursuit

Maggie
Directed by Henry Hobson
Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Abigail Breslin

Rating 4/5

Arnold Schwarzenegger reaches a personal career peak in the haunting zombie movie Maggie performing internally – a savvy thing to do as the action man fades into the past. It’s his cinematic apotheosis, a brilliantly focused and raw portrayal of man helpless in the final days of his daughter’s life.  His work is sensitive, delicate and emotionally gripping, and still.  New depths and textures are revealed in what I believe is his best performance to date thereby extended his career.

He is Wade in this mournful zombie tragedy watching over Maggie (Breslin) protecting her from local authorities who want to remove to certain death in a protected ward. She’s a zombie, contaminated by a plague that’s spreading around the world. He believes he can make her comfortable at home and maybe save her in a stubborn kind of magical thinking. He must also protect himself from her and be on guard against zombies who might rush the farm.

Maggie is a zombie movie that turns the genre on its ear and brings new much needed life to the tired old undead saw. No attempt is made to give the film the tricks and feel of a sci-fi, horror or a thriller – this is about nothing but human emotion in the face of devastation.  It feels ancient and real and devastating.

In one arresting scene, Schwarzenegger’s shot from behind at twilight on the edge of nowhere. He may be reflecting on the cruel treachery of things as he strokes a sheaf of wheat that’s dying too.  His new, sad world is brown and black, hard to see, smoky from the fires, and emotionally charged. It lures even as it reeks of death.

Maggie is an event, a quiet, artistic and deeply felt performance that captures us when we are in a place we don’t understand.  Arnold pulls it off with heart and soul.

Hot Pursuit
Directed by
Starring Reese Witherspoon and Sofa Vergara

Rating 2.5 / 5

And then there is Hot Pursuit, a low point in the careers of Witherspoon and Vergara that’s done on the cheap with cheap gags, menstrual jokes and underwear and boobs.  An occasional laugh may be had, thanks to Vergara’s unkillable comic prowess and physical abandon but Reese is a rigid mess of a police officer who would rather stomp her foot and pout than go off book.

They embark on a road trip/buddy/fish out of water/frenemy adventure; Vergara’s going into the witness protection programme following the murder of her drug lord husband. The cartel boss wants her dead because she knows too much.

The most bothersome things beyond the inane hopelessness of it all is the gun culture and racism. Haven’t we had enough? Guns continue to be glamorised, to give the holder power, attitude and cool. When the tables turn, out of nowhere, mind you, it’s beyond shocking to see one of the ladies threatening to kill the other and meaning it. The Mexican stereotypes are pretty jaw-dropping.

The ladies are stuck in stock situations piling up as time drags by.  They escape out of a men’s washroom window, breasts akimbo, Vergara’s accent is exaggerated – it’s enough on its own – and Witherspoon’s lack of height is a running joke.  None of this is funny.

These actors have such great potential for good work and some nice chemistry. Both are proven comediennes, but they’re just not feeling it here and neither are we.