The Following Season 1

Starring Kevin Bacon and created by horror screenwriter legend Kevin Williamson I watched the opening episode of The Following’s first season when it aired this time last year and immediately knew I’d found something great. It was intense, suspenseful and episodes had a cinematic feel to them. I reviewed the early part of the series here and continued to watch the series, hoping that its impressive start would continue.

The series builds around Detective Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon) and his relationship with the serial killer Joe Carroll (James Purefoy); on his original rampage Carroll attacked Hardy but was captured and sent to prison, whilst Ryan tried to piece his life together. It all came crashing down however when Joe Carroll escaped from prison. Even though he was recaptured quickly, his escape prompted a plan to be set in motion, featuring Joe’s ‘followers’ a group of people who band together because of their obsession with Carroll. It’s intriguing stuff, not to mention creepy and it’s interesting that as well as focusing on Ryan, the show focuses on his followers as well. With the use of flashbacks the show pieces together the period of Carroll’s initial killings to the present day. In the short time he is free, Joe manages to set in motion his plan of making a ‘sequel’ to his story, placing Ryan Hardy in the centre. Carroll obsesses over Hardy because of the fact he was the one that caught him and also because after the case was solved he had an affair with Carroll’s wife Claire Matthews (Natalie Zea).

The main cast bounce off each other brilliantly –Kevin Bacon and James Purefoy have excellent chemistry; you can feel the mutual hatred under the surface and their scenes on screen are electric. Hardy feels like he has the weight of the world on his shoulders, blaming himself for so much and Bacon plays the flawed hero so well. I do love Kevin Bacon as an actor so I’m so happy he’s found a role and a television show that displays his acting abilities. James Purefoy clearly relishes the role of Joe Carroll; he oozes charisma, charm, sophistication – everything you’d expect in a crazed psychotic serial killer. The other supporting cast members include Shawn Ashmore as Agent Mike Weston who helps lead the investigation into Carroll, along with Agent Debra Parker played by Annie Parisse are great support to Hardy and due to Williamson’s knack of killing off his cast of characters with a blink of an eye, their roles are never safe.

The other interesting trio of characters are the initial three main followers of Joe Carroll – Paul, Jacob and Emma (played by Adan Canto, Nico Tortorella and Valerie Curry). Even though the three of them are only together for a few episodes, they make for an intriguing grouping, developing into a power play/love triangle as it turns out Paul and Jacob pretending to be gay developed into something more, whilst Jacob and Emma were actually a couple. The dissent and panic that erupts between the three is brilliant to see unfold.

Other aspects help to make this show fly as well the score is brilliant, helping to build the atmosphere, particularly the end of the episode songs. The show also consistently looks visually great, the constant night time scenes help create the atmospheric tension. Williamson and his team of writers come up with some great twists and turns, helping to keep the show fresh and exciting.

The Following’s second season starts later this month, and I’m more than intrigued to how the show will pick up and continue. The ending saw Joe Carroll supposedly dying in an explosion whilst Ryan and Claire celebrate together. That is soon cut short when one of Joe’s crazed followers, planted as Ryan’s neighbour attacks him and Claire, leaving the series on a cliff-hanger. We know that Ryan is alive, but there are still several strands that are left unsolved; what happened to Claire? Is Joe Carroll really dead? The answers will be found in the season 2 premiere of The Following – I can’t wait!

 

Hardy: The second you get within two feet of me, I’m gonna snap your neck and crack your spine.

Paul: And I’ll shoot you dead.

Hardy: And his spine will be cracked.

Paul: And you’ll be dead.

Hardy: And his spine will be cracked.

(The Following, 1.6 ‘The Fall’)

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Taken 2 Review

Liam Neeson is back as Bryan Mills and ready to kick ass in the second film in the Taken franchise. The first film in 2008 became extremely popular, and put Neeson in the category of ‘I want him to be my Dad’ (or is that just me that wishes that).

Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace (as Bryan’s daughter Kim) and Famke Janssen (as Bryan’s estranged wife Lenore) are all back in the sequel and this time it is Bryan that they want. While the family are holidaying in Istanbul, the relatives of the bad guys from the first movie have come for revenge on Bryan and his family, leaving Bryan to ‘do what he does best’ and save himself and his family.

The action is Istantbul doesn’t kick in til about 10/15 minutes into the movie, and before this we get a taste of the family dynamic the 3 have created. It is clear that the events of the first movies are still visible and Bryan is still as over-protective as ever, leading to some hilarious scenes (I found them far more entertaining and amusing that I should have but all the same there are some light moments in this film.) One other thing I must comment on: Maggie Grace. The character of Kim must be around 17/18 by now and Grace is actually 29! Although at one point you can perhaps see the true age of the actress,  the rest of the time the make-up and hair departments have done a great job at hiding the true age of Grace and making audiences believe she is a teenager.

The film itself is only 90 minutes long, so there’s no risk of getting fidgety in your seats, and once the action starts, the film moves quickly. There certainly are fewer fight scenes in this movie, and Neeson has no problem with dispatching some of the kidnappers (a little too easy?) but still you have no problem in believing that Liam Neeson is someone not to be messed with. The location of Turkey has also been fully utilised as the shots of the rooftop and market place chases are brilliant, capturing the hustle and bustle of the city. Throw in a great car chase sequence and the movie is still a great sequel – not as good as the first movie albeit, but still well worth a watch!

Bad Guy: (In different language) I shot some guy