Retreat

This Week in DVD

Welcome back to This Week In DVD! Some fun titles are hitting shelves today, and not a single one of them rocked the box office. Of course, some of them never had the chance… but Tower Heist? Pretty sure that was intended to be a hit. Other releases this week include the Elizabeth Olsen stunner Martha Marcy May Marlene, the Korean action epic War of the Arrows, the bland Channing Tatum (redundancy alert!) thriller Son of No One, and more! As an added bonus one of the eleven entries below has been contributed by the highly educated and spry Landon Palmer! Can you guess which one? As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Retreat A couple dealing with marital issues heads to a remote island to save their relationship, but when a stranger washes up onshore with a fantastical tale of a worldwide plague the three of them enter into a deadly game of survival.This British thriller takes major cues from the superior Dead Calm, but it manages to create solid suspense, tension and uncertainty of its own. Cillian Murphy and Jamie Bell give strong, convincing performances as the husband and stranger, respectively, but Thandie Newton doesn’t fare as well. Still, this is the kind of thriller that deserves better than to get lost in the shuffle. Check out my full review here.

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Retreat is a film that lives or dies by its actors. Mainly set in one location and focusing primarily on three characters constantly interacting, that’s an exceptionally tough film to make. That seems like a common thing for actor Cillian Murphy, though. No one can look at Peacock and Breakfast on Pluto and say, “What safe, easy roles.” The actor takes chances, and it all comes down to the directors he’s going to put his trust in. When one works with the likes of Danny Boyle, Christopher Nolan, Ken Loach, and Andrew Niccol, that must not be too difficult. The actor usually manages to work with the best nowadays, but even so, as Murphy says, you’re never going to quite know what to expect from a film. And, at the end of a film, that doesn’t matter much. Murphy’s advice: never be nostalgic and always move forward. Immediately before talking to Murphy, I had just gotten out of In Time. In that film, Murphy spends a lot of time getting his ass kicked, being disrespected, and everything else that would make one of us feel unmanly, similarly to his character in Retreat. A lot of Murphy’s characters seem that way, but to him it’s less about emasculation, more about how everyone’s a contradiction.

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Retreat features some sweeping exterior shots and action, but for the most part it stays contained within a single home on an isolated and otherwise empty island. Martin (Cillian Murphy) and Kate (Thandie Newton) have come here to get away from the hustle and bustle of life and to try to deal with a recent, undisclosed rift between them. They’ve had happy times at this cabin in the past and are hoping to recapture that magic, but their attempts at reconciliation are interrupted by the arrival of a battered and bloodied man named Jack (Jamie Bell) who they find unconscious and armed outside. Their act of kindness is soon punished with unwanted knowledge when he awakens and shares what brought him to the island. It seems a deadly and unstoppable virus has begun ravaging the outside world, and their only hope of survival is to seal up the cabin until the airborne danger has passed. The island has no telephone access. The CB radio they’ve previously used to contact the mainland is strangely silent. And Jack strongly insists both for their safety and his that they follow his instructions. And a man with a gun can be fairly convincing…

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While most viral outbreak films take us right into the heart of patient zero and the hordes of humanity flooding the streets to escape sneezing to death, Retreat takes the clever route by presenting it from the viewpoint of people who have no idea what’s going on. Unless there is no outbreak. But what if there is? Or maybe there’s not, but there’s no way to tell what’s truly happening in this first trailer which highlights Cillian Murphy and Thandie Newton as a couple taking a holiday on a small island when an armed man (Jamie Bell) washes ashore claiming that the mainland has been crushed by a virus that floats on the air. Check it out for yourself:

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