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THRILLER THE GIRL WHO KICKED THE HORNETS' NEST (2hr 27 mins) Certificate: 15 Starring: Noomi Rapace, Michael Nyqvist, Anders Ahlbom Rosendahl.

Director: Daniel Alfredson. Star rating: JUDGMENT day arrives for renegade computer hacker Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) in the final chapter of the Millennium trilogy, based on the award-winning books by Stieg Larsson.

This follows the shocking events of The Girl Who Played With Fire and resolves that film's cliffhanger, which saw the fate of one character hanging in the balance.

There are more twists and turns to come as director Daniel Alfredson navigates the plot strands of Larsson's best-seller, while maintaining the same visual palette and grittiness as previous films in the series.

Explosions of violence continue to determine the characters' fates in a world where powerful men kill anyone who could expose their shameful secrets. Certainly, Lisbeth would be a prime target: A brilliant yet mentally disturbed young woman who hovers on the fringes of society. As the third film opens, she stands accused of multiple murders, her fingerprints apparently found on the gun used in the heinous crimes.

The police are convinced she is guilty but journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist) scents a cover-up, so sets out to prove her innocence. If Lisbeth is found guilty, she will be sent back to a psychiatric ward under the care of an abusive physician.

Assassin Niedermann, who suffers from a rare disorder that prevents him feeling pain, continues to shadow Lisbeth, determined to prevent her exposing the secrets of her past.

This film reverses the balance of power from the first two, making Michael the proactive hero, who gets his hands dirty while Lisbeth nervously awaits her day in court.

That's not to say that the script doesn't allow our fearless heroine at least one kick-ass action scene, but she has to bide her time.

Alfredson cranks up the tension and provides brutal closing scenes that bid a fitting farewell to characters we have grown to love.

ACTION UNSTOPPA BLE (1hr 38 mins) Certificate: 12A Starring: Denzel Washington, Chris Pine, Ethan Suplee.

Director: Tony Scott Star rating: FOR every Elephant Man, there is a Pretty Woman. For every Magnificent Seven, there is a Fantastic Four.

Cinema warmly embraces great art and great entertainment because without the box office allure of trashy popcorn fodder there simply wouldn't be money in the kitty for auteurs to express their creativity.

For more than 20 years, British director Tony Scott has unapologetically catered for those who hunger for slam-bang thrills.

And he's delivered with high-octane vehicles including Days of Thunder, The Last Boy Scout and Enemy of the State.

He's collaborated four times with Oscar-winning actor Denzel Washington, most recently on the remake of The Taking of Pelham 123.

The pair reunite in this cinematic rush of blood to the head inspired by true events, which follows the exploits of two brave men to stop a runaway locomotive before it derails.

The film steadily gathers momentum, careening through set pieces which invariably involve something being smashed to smithereens.

Think Speed on two rails, scripted by Mark Bomback, who penned Die Hard 4.0.

In a Pennsylvania rail yard, Dewey (Ethan Suplee) foolishly jumps off a slow moving freight train in order to race ahead and change a set of points.

But the throttle jars forward and the carriages speed down the line without a driver - and carrying drums of flammable liquid, the equivalent of "a missile the length of the Chrysler Building" according to yardmaster Connie (Rosario Dawson).

Down the line engineer Frank Barnes (Denzel Washington) and conductor Will Colson (Chris Pine) learn of the impending disaster and orchestrate a daring rescue plan.

This is a breathlessly orchestrated thrill ride that spends the minimum amount of time fleshing out Frank and Will as flawed fathers, before contriving a nightmarish scenario for both to redeem themselves in the eyes of their children.

THRILLER THE AMERICAN (1hr 44 mins) Certificate: 15 Starring: George Clooney, Violante Placido, Paolo Bonacelli.

Director: Anton Corbijn. Star rating: BASED on the novel A Very Private Gentleman by Martin Booth, director Anton Corbijn's follow-up to the award-winning Ian Curtis biopic Control is a meticulously crafted portrait of a man of violence trying to escape his grim fate.

Predictably, the anti-hero can only outrun the past for so long before it demands bloodthirsty redemption.

George Clooney is on screen almost constantly in the title role, his face etched with weariness as an assassin tired of looking over his shoulder.

Without his star power, the film would struggle to find an audience outside of the arthouse circuit.

It's an unremittingly bleak and slow-burning study of solitude, epitomised by a remarkable and protracted sequence in which the titular character drives towards the white light at the end of a long tunnel, until the entire screen is filled with blinding white.

Following a bungled assassination attempt in Sweden, hitman Jack decides to abandon the killing game.

The film is an engrossing character study, enlivened by explosions of violence and Corbijn makes excellent use of stunning European locations.

In the absence of bright colours in the film's palette, Clooney sparks a dazzling screen chemistry, in very different ways, with Placido and Bonacelli.

"You are American. You think you can escape history," laments Father Benedetto. As Jack discovers, there is no escape.

EXPANDED from a spoof trailer, this is far duller than its title would suggest.

The tongue-in-cheek romp has an astronomical body count as the eponymous vigilante wreaks bloody revenge on duplicitous former emplo yers.

But much of the slaying, including lopped limbs, is accomplished through workmanlike special effects - which complement the shoddy script written by the director and his cousin.

Between them, they can't write one three-dimensional character and while some of the dialogue is punchy, it's delivered in a lifeless manner.

ACTION MACHETE (1hr 45 mins) Certificate: 18 Starring: Danny Trejo, Jessica Alba, Michelle Rodriguez, Steven Seagal, Robert De Niro.

Directors: Robert Rodriguez, Ethan Maniquis.

Star rating: Drawing inspiration from exploitation films, it gleefully reduces the female characters to sex objects.

Disappointingly, you know there is a sizable audience for his drivel.

Danny Trejo cuts a swagger as Machete, an assassin for hire.

Having barely escaped death at the hands of drug lord Rogelio Torrez (Steven Seagal), he now lives under the radar in Texas.

It's difficult to find positives in this film when the script and direction seem determined to bore us senseless.

The blitzkrieg of slaughter grows tiresome and there's nothing likeable about the characters.

Seagal revels in a rare opportunity to star in a film which hasn't gone straight to DVD. Perhaps it should.


THE ACCUSED Noomi Rapace as Lisbeth Salander BRAINLESS THRILLS Denzel Washington as Frank STAR POWER George Clooney as Jack and Irina Bjorklund as Ingrid
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Nov 26, 2010
Previous Article:David Wells.
Next Article:Quiz of the Day.

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