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Non-Review Review: Pressure

This film was seen as part of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival 2015.

Trapping a bunch of people in a claustrophobic location under time pressure is really the key to instant drama.

It is a well-proven strategy that has been used so often because it works. It is a great vehicle for high-stakes tension, but also for tough interpersonal drama. If you pack people close enough together under just the right amount of strain, it is a great way to reveal and inform character. It leads to conflict, which is generally quite entertaining to watch. If you can harness that tension and that conflict, it is fairly easy to get the audience to go along with the rest of the film.

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Pressure is a quintessential “bunch of people trapped in a tight space waiting to die” film. Four divers venture down to repair an oil pipeline, only for disaster to strike. The four characters find themselves trapped alone at the bottom of the ocean, with no real chance of survival. Tough decisions have to be made, and characters are thrown into conflict with one another as the air runs low and the power runs out. There are moments when Pressure really works as a claustrophobic thriller.

Unfortunately, there are just as many moments when Pressure doesn’t work. The film seems intent on pulling the audience out of the harrowing situation – whether through quick flashbacks or nightmare sequences that undercut the claustrophobic tension of the rest of the film. Despite the best efforts of the cast, the characters feel stilted and stock – spouting cliché dialogue and coming in the form of broad archetypes. The scripting is similarly haphazard, particularly in the somewhat contrived third act.

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Non-Review Review: The Warrior’s Way

I don’t think that pulpy nostalgia lends itself particularly well to cinematic reimagining. We’ve seen a variety of high-concept mish-mashes on the big screen in the past decade or so. There was a time when Freddie vs. Jason was confined to the bargain basement of your local DVD store, but we’ve seen major theatrical releases like Cowboys & Aliens or Aliens vs. Predators in the past number of years – all based around the idea that you can pit a cool concept against another cool concept and the resulting movie will be “super-cool.” Essentially an opportunity to answer the age-old question of “who would win in a fight between cowboys and ninjas”, The Warrior’s Way has a few really enjoyable and gleefully silly moments, but they tend to get lost in the midst of an overly-stylised and too-heavily-green-screen-ed moments, with a skilled cast unable to inject life into a range of characters who are struggling to reach the second dimension.

Give it a stab?

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