A CIA agent on the ground in Jordan hunts down a powerful terrorist leader while being caught between the unclear intentions of his American supervisors and Jordan Intelligence. (IMDb)
An eye-rolling America-centric terrorist thriller at first blush thanks to Hoffman’s disturbing opening monologue, but in actuality, it’s more mature, with decently nuanced political drama that’s expertly intertwined with espionage action. The contrast of Crowe’s detached CIA boss (his suburban activities during tense phone calls are a great touch) with DiCaprio’s emotional on-the-ground agent makes for an excellent central character dynamic (see the memorable final exchange). Very well acted.
Based on the absurd but true 1973 bank heist and hostage crisis in Stockholm that was documented in the New Yorker as the origins of the ‘Stockholm Syndrome’. (IMDb)
Strikes a great balance between high-stakes hostage thrills and quirky character comedy, led by Hawke’s notable turn as the volatile and eccentric “(just call me) The Outlaw”, who clashes with straight-laced cops and forms an odd bond with his captors (see the excellent Dylan-backed montage of pear-eating in the vault). A barely-there epilogue makes you wish more time was spent on his background and motivations though, as well as on the event’s aftermath for Rapace’s enigmatic Bianca.
Striking cinematography immerses you in the gritty browns and greys of late 19th century London: It’s the perfect setting for what is an exciting, rough-and-tumble tale with as much fisticuffs as displays of Holmes’ skillful deduction, as Downey adds a cool swagger to his quirky Holmes, and Law’s reasonable Watson matches him punch for punch. With its busy and brisk script some deeper character development and tantalizing back stories are neglected, but perhaps that’s what sequels are for.