Wits, action and criminals having fun

Nicholas Hoult plays Casey, an ordinary man thrust into extraordinary circumstances because of love.
Nicholas Hoult plays Casey, an ordinary man thrust into extraordinary circumstances because of love. PHOTO: THE WALT DISNEY COMPANY

REVIEW / ACTION THRILLER

COLLIDE (PG13)

99 minutes/Opens tomorrow/3.5/5 stars

The story: Americans Casey (Nicholas Hoult) and Juliette (Felicity Jones) meet and fall in love in Cologne, Germany. He swears off crime to win her over, but decides to do one last job for Geran (Ben Kingsley) to pay for her medical expenses. This pits Casey against the dangerous drug kingpin Hagen Kahl (Anthony Hopkins). This romance in the guise of an action thriller works in both respects, thanks to the casting and director and co-writer Eran Creevy's (Welcome To The Punch, 2013) sly sense of humour.

In a running joke, as Casey gets into one car chase after another, he gets his hands on a sweeter and swifter ride every time he totals his current vehicle.

Neither cop nor superhero, he is an ordinary man thrust into extraordinary circumstances because of love. This makes him a sympathetic character the audience roots for as he relies only on wits and reflexes to fend off squads of killers equipped with a barrage of firepower.

Hoult makes a convincing action leading man here after outings in superhero flicks (X-Men: Apocalypse, 2016) and romances (Equals, 2015). He has an easy-on-the-eye physicality and he makes all the running, dodging and high-octane sequences believable and exciting.

Jones has much less to do here beyond adding to her chameleonic credentials after having enjoyed both critical (The Theory Of Everything, 2014) and box-office successes (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, 2016). But she has a great reaction shot in a scene where she expresses her incredulity that no woman before her has said "I love you" to blue-eyed hottie Casey.

And as seasoned scenery-chewers are wont to, Oscar winners Kingsley (Gandhi, 1982) and Hopkins (The Silence Of The Lambs, 1991) have fun here, the former as a Turkish mobster whose brains have been fried by drugs and the latter as a ruthless criminal cloaked in a veneer of respectability.

Boon Chan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 22, 2017, with the headline 'Wits, action and criminals having fun'. Print Edition | Subscribe