Quantico Season Two Premiere: Kudove – Spook School (Review)

PRIYANKA CHOPRA

It seems that the more things change the more they stay the same. In Quantico, in order to follow the same template as season one, Alex and Ryan are both sent to spook school, aka The Farm.  The CIA training camp where both Booth and Parrish are going “undercover.”

The opening episode sticks with the time jumps. Last year the series moved between the academy and present day. Now, in “Quan2co” we are taken from The Farm to “one year later” and back again.  It is a little more confusing than the first time around.

There are a new cast of characters as well as some familiar faces. Shelby Wyatt makes an appearance or two as does Raina.  Once again it seems that Ryan and Alex are on rocky ground, she returns an engagement ring, and then action moves to a year earlier.

Booth and Parrish are reluctant counter intelligence trainees. Nether of them knew before hand about their mutual CIA connection.

One year later, Booth is attending a world summit; the G20, when the meeting of world leaders is taken hostage by terrorists. This time around Alex is present when a whole load of explosions rock the city in a circular pattern.

She moves to the summit venue as Ryan lies in order to get close to the US president. The goal of the terrorists is to have one of their own pardoned. If the president does not comply they will execute his wife.

Back at The Farm Ryan and Alex learn to lie and how to get information from  the other trainees. Alex gets close to the only other female candidate, Lydia.  Booth scores 100 percent at lying among other things and Léon comes a close second.

RUSSELL TOVEY
Harry Doyle

Harry Doyle, a candidate who sounds very English, seems to be a natural.

The group head off to jump from a plane and Alex saves Lydia’s life, with a little help from Ryan. Except Lydia was never in any real danger. It was a test  and Alex failed. Unlike the FBI academy training, the CIA does not, apparently, teach team work.

What is clear from the very first day is that the trainees cannot really trust anyone. Lydia, it seems, is Hall’s daughter. She is also a co-intructor.

At the summit, the president agrees to the terrorist’s demands to save his wife’s life. Alex tries to work out what is going on and gets into a knock down, drag out fight with one of the group.

The man she defeats turns out to be another familiar face from her past and he jumps out the window.

Raina acts as translator for the terrorists, who are speaking Swahili, and Ryan gets close to the president.  Even after the US leader gives the terrorist’s what they want, it looks like his first lady is still going to be killed.

Alex watches on in horror.

The episode ends with that machete swinging down toward the first lady’s neck as a group of CIA “Case Agents” look on.

Initially the whole thing looks pretty amped up from last year’s action. However with all those classmates in the summit venue something smells rotten in that little scenario.

Could it be an exercise of some sort?

For instance, why are there three boxes with terrorist gear in them outside the room?

Regardless of whether the president’s wife is in for the chop or not, this looks an awful lot like the first season.  Training and “after-training”  being shown as a “before and after” with personal issues cropping up for Alex and Ryan.

It is close enough to season one that one wonders what sort of training Parrish and Booth will undertake if Quantico gets a third season.  Hopefully this sameness will not continue as season two progresses. Thus far the whole thing feels a little “Been there, done that, got the t-shirt.”

Although to be fair there is none of the cutesy business between trainees like there was last year.

PEARL THUSI
Alex’s tearful roomie…

Quantico airs Sundays on ABC. Tune in and see what you think. Is season two,  like Yogi Berra used to say, “Deja vu all over again?”

Cast:

Colombiana (2011) Zoe Saldana Almost Dressed Assassin

Colombiana 2011 poster
Watching the 2011 film Colombiana again, I noticed that Zoe Saldana as assassin tends to be “almost dressed” in most of her killing scenarios if not throughout most of the film. Not having access to the original Luc Besson script leaves the viewer wondering why bad apples must be killed with the star exhibiting either copious amounts of bare leg or exhibiting erect nipples. With no real reason for her attire, apart from the all back leotard worn by Saldana’s character, Cataleya, when she executes the chap in jail, it seems that the director was intent on utilizing Zoe’s innate and natural sexiness to cover a multitude of sins.

Not to complain, Saldana is gorgeous, even her Avatar character Neytiri was beautiful and that was a CG construct of the actress, but director Olivier Megaton (Transporter 3, Taken 2 & 3) does seem to overdo it a bit. The Colombiana director may be trying to make up for his lack of finesse in the fighting scenes. If one reads the message boards at IMDb, Megaton is not a popular choice for action films and the vitriol spewed about the final fight scene between Cataleya and Marco in the bathroom in Don Louis’s CIA safe house, is pretty impressive.

More impressive in fact than the fight scene itself according to the complainers. Despite overall disappointment in the battle, the film itself is pretty entertaining. The first part dealing with the young Cataleya seeing her mother and father shot to rag doll ribbons by Don Louis’ Marco and company. The child then slams a razor sharp knife in Marco’s hand before telling him she wants his boss dead before escaping Parkour style out of the flat window.

After An exciting chase through the city the 11 year old makes her way to Chicago and her tio, uncle, who she asks to train her as a killer. Fast-forward 15 years and Cat has grown up into Zoe Saldana and she is busily assassinating bad guys while working as a tag serial killer to flush Don Louis out of hiding.

The film has a great cast and it was fun seeing Callum Blue, aka Mason in Dead Like Me, as the CIA jerk who does not want to help anyone out until the female assassin has him in her sights. While Colombiana is entertaining it is not overly so.

This may be down to Olivier Megaton’s inability to orchestrate action scenes with a believable edge or it could just be that Luc Besson should direct his own films. Either way, the actors do an adequate job performing their various roles. None more so than the young girl who played the juvenile version of Cataleya, Amandla Stenberg. This young lady acts her little cotton socks off in her first film role. This same youngster went on to melt hearts with her performance as the doomed, and plot important, Rue in the 2012 film The Hunger Games. She is now working on television’s Mr. Robinson as a series regular.

It is the “discovery” of Stenberg that may well be the best part of Colombiana. Not to dismiss Saldana’s work as the grown Cataleya. I enjoyed the movie quite a lot and felt that despite Megaton’s apparent “hatchet” job on the fight scenes, the actress performed well in the awkwardly shot scenes.

This one is a 3.5 out of 5 stars and could have been a full four but for the fight scenes and the fact that Amandla was not in more of the film. Not to mention that Zoe could have been a bit more covered up when working as the killer later on. We know that the woman is a beauty there was no real need for so much attention to her great figure, not that her fans did not appreciate the “show,” it still made no apparent sense.

12 May 2015

Michael Knox-Smith

The November Man: Pierce Brosnan Kills It (Review and Trailer)

The November Man: Pierce Brosnan Kills It (Review and Trailer)

As The November Man Pierce Brosnan “kills” in this post Cold War spy film where action replaces smooth moves and sterling wit. At 61, The former Bond and Remington Steele actor may have been deemed too long in the tooth to play 007, but the Brit performer shows he still has what it takes in the action man arena.