As a Film Commissioner, I only ever went on set about three times (always too busy, and besides, you’re kind of in the way……) and when I did it was usually part of the whole dog-and-pony show, trying to impress upon legislators just how many jobs were being created by the production. One of those set visits was to Catch and Release, a dull little tale set in Boulder, Colorado (but mostly filmed in Vancouver) about a woman whose fiance is killed on the way to the wedding, and who subsequently falls for the dead guy’s best friend. The best friend was skinny Timmy Olyphant, who’d never really impressed me much previously but was, I have to grudgingly admit, absolutely spectacular in person.

I mention this because we saw Hitman last night. (OK, so you can clearly tell I’m on a roll when it comes to dodgy movies at the moment; we’ve really been packin’ ’em in recently.)

Hitman is based on that Playstation game, so there’s a lot of running up corridors looking over the top of someone’s head; the plot is basically gun-heavy and irony-light. Tim is bald, too, which is an unfortunate look. But I have to say I was quite impressed by some of the production values; it has the look and feel of a much more substantial film, and the sound track is reminiscent of the Bourne movies. So not too dreadful, all in all.

Hitman is set in St. Petersburg and Istanbul, but it’s filmed predominately in Bulgaria. Surprise surprise, though, the production’s second unit shot in Cape Town. Who knew? I’m now wracking my brains, trying to recall exactly which bits might have been shot here (the Niger scenes perhaps??……) and wishing I’d been paying a little more attention……

The Kingdom

I have a recurring dream. Or more accurately, I have an extremely vivid experience that occurs occasionally when I sleep, where I find myself in the midst of a raging gun battle. The dream’s location isn’t ever the same place twice (the Falkland Islands, the Balkans – never Africa, funnily enough.) But the activity is always the same; an onslaught of machine gun fire clattering around my ears. Think Black Hawk Down. Think the ambush in Clear and Present Danger. Think Heat (again.) What’s more curious is that I am always surprised by just how icy calm I am as the bullets slam into the walls around me; I really don’t expect to actually be tough in the line of fire.

I mention this because I saw Peter Berg’s movie, The Kingdom, on tv again the other night – the second time I’ve caught it in a couple of weeks. A crime drama that’s punctuated by breathtaking episodes of sustained violence, the plot follows a small team of FBI experts (including a rocking Jennifer Garner) following a massive terrorist attack on an American compound in Saudi. Given grudging permission to travel to Riyadh, they are “managed” by local investigators, police, the Saudi Royal family and unctious American diplomats, as they attempt to work through the restrictions and solve the crime. Continue reading “The Kingdom”