The Rezort

For F*** Magazine


Director : Steve Barker
Cast : Jessica De Gouw, Dougray Scott, Martin McCann, Jassa Ahluwalia, Lawrence Walker, Elen Rhys, Claire Goose
Genre : Horror
Run Time : 1hr 31mins
Opens : 30 June 2016
Rating : M18 (Violence and Some Coarse Language)

The most dangerous game has just gotten dangerous-er. In the aftermath of the Chromosyndrome-4 virus outbreak, the world is reeling from a war between the living and the infected undead. Entrepreneur Valerie Wilton (Goose) has established a game reserve called ‘The Rezort’, an island getaway where paying guests can hunt and kill zombies for sport. Melanie (De Gouw), a young woman whose father died in the zombie war, goes to the Rezort with her war veteran boyfriend Lewis (McCann) in search of catharsis. Joining them in the tour group are enigmatic sharpshooter Archer (Scott), gamer teenagers Alfie (Walker) and Jack (Ahluwalia) and Sadie (Rhys), who was supposed to go on the trip with her fiancé before he left her. All hell breaks loose as a glitch in the security system allows the zombies to overrun the island.

            Director Steve Barker is no stranger to the zombie movie subgenre, having made Outpost and its sequel Outpost: Black Sun, featuring Nazi zombies. The influences on The Rezort are readily apparent: in addition to the obvious parallels with The Most Dangerous Game, this is best described as “Jurassic Park with zombies instead of dinosaurs”. John Hammond’s catchphrase in Jurassic Park was “we spared no expense” – given the limited resources director Barker had at hand vis-à-vis the relatively ambitious scope of The Rezort, the production values are surprisingly decent. The concept is realised with enough thought behind it and the Rezort has a nicely developed corporate identity within the story. This is a B-movie through and through, but it’s certainly not a bad premise. Paul Gerstenberger’s screenplay takes stabs at confronting the ethical quandary of hunting what once were human beings, and there’s a half-baked refugee allegory somewhere in there too. It’s not lofty philosophy by any means, but it’s more than we expected from an action-horror romp.

            Unfortunately, it takes too long for the movie to kick into gear, and once everything goes pear-shaped, the zombie mayhem is largely repetitive and not terribly exciting. It’s the same thing a lot of zombie flicks struggle with – the undead hordes chomp down on their victims or rip out their throats, the human survivors blast a zombie in the head, repeat ad nauseam.

It certainly doesn’t help that all the acting is patently unremarkable. Some might recognise De Gouw from the recent DraculaTV series or her stint as the Huntress on Arrow; she’s little more than a generically pretty brunette and does not possess much screen presence. It’s also a bad sign when the mysterious badass in your cast is played by Dougray Scott, who probably still rues the day he had to drop out of X-Men and was replaced by Hugh Jackman. The two jumped-up teenage gamer characters are supremely annoying, but that was likely the intention. Goose is pretty flat in the stock icy boss lady role, which really could’ve been a lot of fun in the hands of someone like Cate Blanchett or Glenn Close.
            If you’re a genre aficionado and enjoy seeking out low-to-mid-budget horror flicks that fly under the mainstream radar, The Rezort is worth a passing glance for putting a somewhat inspired spin on the zombie movie formula. It’s plenty silly, but does not get swallowed up entirely in said silliness and with a better cast and a bigger budget, might actually have been almost good.

Summary: The Rezort lacks in thrills and its ambition is hamstrung by its budget, but there are glimmers of wit in its premise, such that it rises slightly above your run of the mill zombie flick.

RATING: 3out of 5 Stars

Jedd Jong 

Taken 3

For F*** Magazine


Director : Olivier Megaton
Cast : Liam Neeson, Famke Janssen, Maggie Grace, Forest Whitaker, Dougray Scott
Genre : Action/Thriller
Run Time : 1 hr 46 mins
Opens : 8 January 2015
Rating : PG13 (Violence and Brief Coarse Language)
Bryan Mills (Neeson) or, as we like to call him, “MC Millz with da Skillz”, is back for a third take. This time, he finds himself framed for the murder of his ex-wife Lenore (Janssen) and on the lam from Inspector Frank Dotzler (Whitaker) of the LAPD. It seems Stuart St. John (Scott), whom Lenore married after her divorce with Bryan, might have played a hand in her murder. In addition to evading capture by the authorities, Bryan has to protect his beloved daughter Kim (Grace) and luckily enough has his old pals from his CIA days on his side.
            “It ends here”, the tagline on the poster proclaims. If this really is the conclusion to the Taken series, then it ends with a whimper rather than a bang. Taken 3 – or Tak3n, if you prefer – is a rote, derivative affair. This is essentially The Fugitive, with a pursued protagonist who has to prove to the determined cop in charge that he did not kill his wife. The first Takenfilm drew comparisons to the TV series 24, right down to the names of both protagonists’ daughters being “Kim”. The Los Angeles setting of Taken 3 does not help matters and even in its weaker seasons, the Kiefer Sutherland-starring show managed to be more exciting than this. At least the second film had the setting of Istanbul (following up from Paris in the first one) to set it apart from the action-thriller pack. Olivier Megaton, who helmed the second film and who is probably the most ho-hum director among all of Luc Besson’s disciples, ensures the action is as jumbled and incoherent as ever, packing in the shaky-cam and the whiplash editing.

            Taken 3’s greatest asset is its always-capable leading man. While Liam Neeson most likely agreed to this just for the paycheck, he looks nowhere near as disinterested and lackadaisical as, say, Bruce Willis in his later-period action films. He’s still believably tough and badass, and that’s got to count for something. Unfortunately, the novelty of seeing the Oscar-calibre actor punching and shooting his way through scores of bad guys has more or less worn off. Forest Whitaker is not good in this; apparently tics like fiddling with a chess piece and an elastic band are acceptable substitutes for any actual characterisation. His Inspector Dotzler is clearly meant to be in the same vein as Tommy Lee Jones’ Samuel Gerard from the afore-mentioned The Fugitive, but Whitaker fails to be even half as compelling.

            Oddly enough, Dougray Scott replaces Xander Berkeley as Lenore’s estranged husband Stuart – they look nothing alike and this reviewer had to double-check to make sure Stuart was in fact the same character as in the first film. While depicted as merely a milquetoast rich guy in Taken, Taken 3 sees Stuart turn into more of a badass, which is a head-scratch-inducing turn. Sam Spruell, who seems to have become the go-to guy when a Hollywood flick needs someone to play a real creep, is unconvincing as ex-Spetsnaz Russian mob boss Malankov. His lackeys in the film seem to have been found at the bottom of the “generic action movie villain” discount bin.

            Something this reviewer wanted to see more of from the first two movies was the old CIA pals Bryan hung out at barbecues with. In this film, they do have a larger part to play in the plot, helping Bryan lie low as he is pursued by the long arm of the law. Alas, we don’t exactly get to see them kick ass alongside their former colleague in a “reliving the glory days” kind of team-up action sequence. Writers Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen also visibly struggle to figure out what to do with the Kim character, the scenes of supposedly-emotional father-daughter interaction instead almost unbearably awkward. The action scenes are non-descript, it’s middling and uninspired and while it isn’t like the first Taken was some kind of masterpiece, it was at least exhilarating entertainment.

Summary:On the bright side, it looks like we won’t be getting T4ken after this dry re-tread of an action flick.
RATING: 2out of 5 Stars

Jedd Jong