Mary Poppins Returns
Mission: Impossible - Fallout
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All Critics (11)
| Top Critics (2)
| Fresh (3)
| Rotten (8)
A taut old-school thriller with a modern heroine.
A would-be sweeping epic that instead turns out tweedy, dreary, and unconvincing.
The film combines the personal with the political in a gripping story of one woman's life- and world-altering decision.
It's always dangerous to wonder about what a film might have been rather than contending with what it is, but in this case what it is, is so bland, and so stolidly workmanlike in execution...
Because the film doesn't know what story of Joan it wants to tell, it tries on too much so that in the end, we are left with little beyond spy-romance tropes.
This adaptation is much too colorless to satisfy even the most enthusiastic of espionage buffs.
...Red Joan ultimately falls well short of its potential.
dragged on and felt overly long.
Dench lends emotional heft and nuance to her handful of scenes, but Red Joan is otherwise let down by leaden dialogue and one-note characters.
Most of the fun in Red Joan comes from such overthrown expectations, so it's a shame that the film itself fails to overwhelm - mostly proceeding along dully familiar lines and anything but radical.
Solidly competent and, for the most part, well acted...
This story had the potential to be a sharp historical account of the development of the atomic bomb in the 1940s, if it had focused on interesting science, politics and espionage. The scenes with present-day Joan and her son deliver most of its substance and the key facts. The young Joan was inventing the bomb, a member of a secret wartime team of scientists, and she was also a Russian spy. However, the film treats her less as a cool head, and more as a slave to romance. Compare The Imitation Game - in this film, we needed greater details of 'the quickest mind in atomic physics'; and how she operated. Just as in life she was apparently treated as though she were invisible, or the tea lady, so the film skates over her importance. Even then, the romances are patchy, the sex scenes embarrassing. The other Russian spies are exceptionally beautiful, charismatic and glamorous; who would not have picked them out? Logical threads get fuzzy, the screenplay and editing jump around, with key plot devices introduced towards the end. People looking for a period piece will enjoy the lavishly produced English scenes, cars and clothing, plus hairstyles. People who want an insight into the events will get some. To understand Joan herself, you have to wade through all the padding, while it's the scenes with Dench that deliver the essence of the story.
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