Stuntman-turned-director Chad Stahelski honours the choreography first and foremost – there’s none of the choppy editing that can often cover for this-will-do blockbuster combat, but bravura long takes which push the stuntmen and Reeves (with a lot of digital assistance) to the limits of their presumed endurance.
Well-informed, enlightening writing on Tolkien’s life and creative process is hardly scarce. But his genius stems from his scholarship, which doesn’t obviously lend itself to cinema, even with Derek Jacobi on hand as a professor-cum-mentor fruitily declaiming in Gothic as he potters around the quad.
An alternative title for this one might have been Avengers: Encore, since the film knows its entire audience has been here for the long run – even beside Infinity War, Endgame would be completely impenetrable to a novice. Think of it as a kind of victory lap, in which a decade-plus of painstaking team assembly is re-run at top speed, then paid off with thermonuclear dazzle and force.
As parable, the film’s slippery quality catches you off guard in the best way. And it summons profound love for a character – a village idiot it would never let you describe that way – without congealing even slightly into sentimentality. It clings on to Lazzaro like the only hope in a benighted world.
If this is Mitchell trying to go full-bore David Lynch – as a zine author and oddball collector, he pointedly casts Patrick Fischler, aka the diner-nightmare guy from Mulholland Drive and a sinister bureaucrat in Twin Peaks – he’s certainly not holding back.
Even in the realm of scrappy British underdog comedy, there is a clear line between endearingly ramshackle and downright slipshod. Fisherman’s Friends blithely crosses it, never to return, from the moment it chugs out of port.
There’s a bicep-flexing quality to Landes’s direction, with its bursts of colour and chaos, its conjuration of a surreal experience out of tactile reality. You tumble out of it bruised, bewildered, mesmerised.