Orange Wednesday: The Breaker Upperers (2018), Hunter Killer (2018) and Velvet Buzzsaw (2019)

The Breaker Upperers

Every Wednesday, TMINE reviews two movies and infringes a former mobile phone company’s trademarked marketing gimmick

Orange Wednesday is back again and despite the format, it’s brought three movies along to be reviewed. Is that a breach of the rules? No, because one was so bad, I couldn’t get through more than half of it, so it isn’t technically a review.

Have a guess which of the three movies it is I couldn’t stomach very long:

  1. The Breaker Upperers (2018) – A New Zealand comedy in which two best friends run a business breaking up relationships
  2. Hunter Killer (2018) – Gerard Butler is a submarine captain who must avert a third World War
  3. Velvet Buzzsaw (2019) – Jake Gyllenhaal is an art critic whose live falls under the baleful influence of a haunted painting

You’ll find out the answer after the jump.

The Breaker Upperers

The Breaker Upperers (2018)

Madeleine Sami and Jackie van Beek have been friends since school and are now in their 30s/40s. They have no relationships of their own, so ironically, they run a business in which people hire them to break up their own relationships. Sometimes this involves a simple phone call, sometimes they have to dress up as cops and fake people’s deaths. Then Sami falls for one of their clients, threatening not just the business but their friendship.

This is very much a film of three thirds. The first third is hilarious and firmly defies the TMINE golden rule that “best friends should never write and star in comedies together”. It’s no surprise that Taika Waititi is one of the producers, since the humour is very much in the style of both What We Do In the Shadows and Thor: Ragnarok. There are even cameos by a lot of the great and the good of New Zealand’s acting talent: Jemaine Clement, Lucy Lawless, Oscar Kightley and Cohen Holloway all make an appearance at some point, while WWDITS/Wellington Paranormal‘s “police officer” Karen O’Leary also shows up as… “police officer”. Quelle surprise.

The second third is then the standard miserable part where the friends are no longer friends and thus the jokes stop altogether. Unsurprisingly, of course, the friends are reunited for the final third, after which it resumes the same level of jokes as the first third, but it’s too late by then – the relationship with the audience has been soured and it’s time to break up.

Watch it for the jokes that there are and the acting talent, including some great performances by youngsters James Rolleston and Ana Scotney, but prepare to be a bit disappointed by the middle section.

Hunter Killer

Hunter Killer (2018)

Sailor’s sailor Gerard Butler is the newly appointed captain of the submarine Arkansas who has to head into dangerous territory when a Russian sub and a US sub seemingly blow one another up. But when it turns out there’s a coup happening in Russia, Butler has to brave Russian defences to rescue a SEAL team led by Toby Stephens, who are on an even more dangerous mission themselves. Can Butler and Stephens prevent the US and Russia going to war, or will top US trigger-happy admiral Gary Oldman lead the nation into catastrophe before then?

So was I was expecting this to be brick to the head stupid nonsense in the style of Olympus Has Fallen, designed purely by producer Gerard Butler to give actor Gerard Butler some gainful employment. Certainly, it’s practically a US navy recruiting film, with virtually every branch of the service deployed in the air, on land, at sea and below, showing off their fearsome weaponry. And unless submarine technology has advanced hugely in the 30 years since The Hunt For Red October, we are expected to believe that submarines the size of aircraft carriers can zoom around underwater like they’re drift racing.

But those niggles to one side, Hunter Killer is both hugely exciting and frequently surprising. The Last Ship recently set the standard for excitement and relatively authentic naval battles, but Hunter Killer tops it and shows off the very latest in weapons systems on both sides of the former iron curtain.

Despite the name of the movie, there’s also not much hunter-killing going on and we also get Butler interacting rather a lot with the late Michael Nyqvist (to whom the film is dedicated) as a Russian sub commander, both of whom want to avoid war. Indeed, if you’re expecting a huge shootout at the end, you’ll be disappointed since the movie actually goes to great lengths to avoid conflict.

If you love naval films and can get over ‘characterisation scenes’ such as Butler hunting deer in Scotland using a bow and arrow, but not shooting families of deer – that tells you something about the man, that does – then Hunter Killer is an excellent watch.

Velvet Buzzsaw

Velvet Buzzsaw (2019)

Sexually confused art critic Jake Gyllenhaal goes to lots of art shows. But when assistant/lover Zawe Ashton’s neighbour dies and she takes custody of his art, something spooky starts to happen and soon everyone is entranced by the late man’s paintings.

And that’s about as far as I got. Gyllenhaal gives a superb performance and the show is great at skewering pretension in its first 20 minutes or so. There’s the likes of Rene Russo, Toni Collette and John Malkovich as risible members of the art community, too.

But honestly, I was so bored that I couldn’t make it more than 20 minutes in. Art pretension isn’t exactly a new target and haunted paintings are the territory of Ghostbusters 2. If there was a point to the movie, I never got that far. Soz.

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