Liam Neeson, meet Aaron Eckhart. Neeson has become known for his thrilling “Taken” films, which involve him looking for/being chased by bad guys. In this film Eckhart plays ex-CIA agent Ben Logan whose company and employees disappear overnight who suddenly finds himself in Neeson’s shoes.
What follows is a high paced–high tension 104 minutes while Ben and his daughter, Amy (Liana Liberato) are targeted for assassination while they try to find out what happened.
A film like this needs two things to succeed. The first is a director who understands pace and doesn’t throw in slow scenes like people thinking or love scenes. This is a straightforward action movie that never lets up and Philipp Stölzl does a brilliant job with a first rate script by Aresh Amel. He is aided by Oscar®-quality music by Jeff Danna. In a film like this the music drives the tension. Kolja Brandt’s cinematography of the Belgium locations enhance the enjoyment of the film.
But over and above all of this, the acting by Eckhart, Liberato, Olga Kurylenko, seen in the Bond film, Quantum of Solace, and the rest of the cast is of the highest quality. Eckhart gives a terrific performance as a tough guy in a tough spot all while worried about his daughter. Liberato, for her part, is attractive and can act up a storm. In fact the tension between her and Eckhart is so important to the film that if she was not up to the task, the film would not be nearly as effective as it is.
Benedict Cumberbatch gives a sterling performance as Khan in this second of the new iteration of Kirk and Spock’s adventures in space. This continues the story of Kirk and his ship The Enterprise when it was first built that started in the last film, a flashback from the original series that starred William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy.
Directed with wonderful pace by J. J. Abrams, Chris Pine (Captain James Kirk) and Zachary Quinto (Spock) have grown into their roles and seem much more assured than four years ago. Quinto has improved immeasurably, so much so that he measures up to Leonard Nimoy’s creation of the character almost a half century ago. Nimoy makes a cameo again in this one.
The story (credits to Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, and Damon Lindelof) is actually quite good for a special effects-laden film. And the special effects are exceptional. The 3D is mostly noticeable in the titles and opening sequence. It is so good that it had me flinching as things flew out at me.
The supporting actors don’t take a second seat to the people who played the roles in the original TV series. Simon Pegg is once again very good as Scotty and Karl Urban is an agreeable Bones. Bruce Greenwood is especially enjoyable as Pike, Kirk’s boss.
When there are so many special effects, there’s really not much more to say about this except that it only dragged once, near the end. This could be the best Star Trek movie of them all.