The Young Offenders 4/5
Bridget Jones’s Baby 3/5
The Infiltrator 4/5
Set in Cork, and inspired by the largest cocaine seizure in Ireland in 2007, The Young Offenders (15A) opens with 15-year-old Jock (Chris Walley) and his best friend Conor (Alex Murphy) daydreaming about what they would do with a million quid.
When Jock learns that there are bales of cocaine – each worth seven million euro – sloshing about off the West Cork coast, the pair get on their bikes – literally – and pedal off to fame and fortune, hotly pursued by Garda detective Healy (Dominic MacHale), a man obsessed with bringing the bike-stealing Jock to justice.
Written and directed by Peter Foott, The Young Offenders is an old-fashioned buddy-buddy chase movie given a crude but unmistakable Cork flavour.
Newcomers Chris Walley and Alex Murphy, all bum-fluff ’taches and gangsta attitude, are hilarious in the lead roles, with strong support coming from Hilary Rose as Conor’s long-suffering mother.
Conor and Jock are the epitome of lovable losers who are endearingly stupid, and both Walley and Murphy display brilliant comic timing as they deliver the laugh-out-loud one-liners of Foott’s script (the scene where Jock decides to confront Garda Healy by persuading Conor it’s a scenario exactly like De Niro sitting down with Pacino in Heat is one of the funniest in Irish cinema for many a long year).
The storytelling, it has to be said, isn’t the most sophisticated, with some scenes obviously included because they were too funny to leave on the cutting-room floor, but the pace is so relentlessly fast that it doesn’t really matter.
Always the ‘verbally incontinent old maid’, never the bride – such is the lot of Bridget Jones (Renee Zellweger) as Bridget Jones’s Baby (15A) begins.
A 40-something singleton, Bridget suddenly, shockingly, finds herself with options: after a long drought in the romance department, she manages to hook up with old flame Mark (Colin Firth) and millionaire dating guru Jack (Patrick Dempsey) within the space of a week.
When Bridget discovers she’s pregnant, she doesn’t know who the father is – and anyway, who in their right mind would want to make an either-or decision when the options are Colin Firth and Patrick Dempsey?
Co-written by Emma Thompson, Dan Mazer and Bridget Jones creator Helen Fieldling, and directed by Sharon Maguire, Bridget Jones’s Baby makes no apologies for dropping us back into the dizzying, breathless romantic merry-go-round that is the hapless Bridget’s life.
But while the scenario may no longer be fresh, and genuine belly-laughs are few and far between, the movie confirms the undoubted charm of Bridget Jones – despite all the slapstick moments, and Bridget’s constant embarrassment, the audience laughs with rather than at Bridget, recognising ourselves in her ditzy, perpetually flustered genius for saying and doing exactly the wrong thing at exactly the wrong moment.
Colin Firth appears oddly stiff throughout, even allowing for the constraints of his Mr Darcy persona, but Patrick Dempsey throws himself wholeheartedly into his role – although both are eclipsed by Renee Zellweger’s Bridget, a woman determined to live life in her own inimitable way, and damn the consequences.
Opening in Florida in 1985, The Infiltrator (15A) stars Bryan Cranston as Robert Mazur, a US Customs official who goes undercover to investigate the global money-laundering scheme with notorious Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar at its heart.
A dedicated family man, Mazur quickly finds himself out of his depth when he starts socialising with Colombian gangsters: in order to refuse a lap-dance, Mazur invents a fiancé, which means US Customs has to provide him with an undercover ‘fiancé’, Kathy (Diane Kruger).
What follows is a neatly judged blend of crime investigation, comic thriller and a thoughtful exploration of human nature, as Robert and Kathy find themselves empathising with the ‘friends’ they make as they burrow ever further into the labyrinthine world of money-laundering on a mind-boggling scale.
Brad Furman’s movie is based on a true story – the film is adapted from Robert Mazur’s memoir – but it comes on with the kind of funky, stylish swagger Ted Demme gave Blow (2001), or Quentin Tarantino gave Jackie Brown (1997).
Bryan Cranston and Diane Kruger combine well as the leading duo, particularly when the pressures of maintaining their imaginary relationship cause the pair to blur the line between reality and fiction, but Ellen Sue Brown’s script is also adept in providing the minor characters with meaty roles, which results in memorable turns for John Leguizamo, Olympia Dukakis and Benjamin Bratt.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved