Hawkeye, Episode 5 | House of Gucci
Very different family dramas.
TV REVIEW /// Hawkeye, Episode 5, "Ronin"
Episode summary: After a fallout between Clint and Kate, the latter is ready to abandon her dream of becoming a hero, but Kate makes a discovery that changes everything. (IMDb)
Much like last time, it's been funny for me to see the reaction to "Ronin" with so many people bizarrely convinced that this show has to tie up every single plot thread in its grand finale next week. Again, it's important to look at the title of the show and remember that the only things that need attention paid to them have to relate to either Clint or Kate - everyone else can put their shit on hold for later.
Personally, I think this episode does a pretty great job of getting those last two into the right place for the sixth and final episode of this series (season?) and I'm expecting there to be a lot more action next time around. The only 'extra' piece of the puzzle added late on is the arrival of Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh), following up on the credits scene from Black Widow that put Clint squarely in her sights.
The thing is that I'd be really shocked if Hawkeye has an unhappy ending, which the show seems to clearly be hinting at, but I just don't think is likely at all if thought about for a moment. First off, it's very Christmassy and I doubt Marvel or Disney are going to give one of the original six Avengers a tragic ending, especially as that would most definitely colour how Kate would behave going forward.
Secondly, I doubt anything too serious will happen between Clint and Yelena because it just seems to be the usual superhero trope of two heroes clashing initially due to a misunderstanding before sorting things out and taking out the real bad guys. Plus, it would really undo a lot of work in making Yelena likeable if she did anything to Clint or his family - although maybe it could set up her being in a Thunderbolts/Dark Avengers team facing off with an angry Kate as part of a Young Avengers squad?
Then there's the reveals of who the real antagonists of the series are, which comes as a surprise not just to Clint and Kate, but especially to Maya (Alaqua Cox) - her slow turn away from vengeance against Ronin is started here and it'll be interesting to see how her character continues in her own Disney+ show. Again, no one should expect everything to be tied up with a bow (no pun intended) considering how the MCU has worked for over a decade now.
It's weird how Hawkeye has been the most consistent of the Disney+ MCU shows so far and "Ronin" is another example of that - final reveal of the 'big guy' aside, there's nothing gasp-worthy or truly outstanding here, but everything's so solid that I'm fully expecting this to be the first series to stick the landing and have a consistent bar of quality that I think the others lacked.
It's one of those things that does kind of highlight the issue of reviewing a show episode-by-episode, as I would absolutely re-appraise the first two parts based on where the show has gone and what it's been trying to do - you could also argue that it's also a case for releasing all the episodes at once! I'll admit that I never expected Hawkeye to be challenging for the spot of my favourite MCU Disney+ show (despite the stellar comics it's based on), but episodes like this are definitely why it's doing so.
"Ronin" is another really solid episode of Hawkeye that further enlarges the Marvel Cinematic Universe and how it all connects across movies and the Disney+ shows while still keeping its street-level focus. Florence Pugh plays a larger role this time out and is excellent again as Yelena, but it's still Renner and Steinfeld holding the fort in style and ensuring that the series title remains 100% accurate.
[8/10 - Very Good]
MOVIE REVIEW /// House of Gucci
Movie summary: When Patrizia Reggiani, an outsider from humble beginnings, marries into the Gucci family, her unbridled ambition begins to unravel their legacy and triggers a reckless spiral of betrayal, decadence, revenge, and ultimately...murder. (IMDb)
To be honest, I wasn't really keen on seeing House of Gucci as I didn't think it looked all that great from the trailers and was talked around by friends into seeing it and, most of the way into the movie, I was thankful for them having done so. The cast is stacked with great performances of terrible people that were enjoyably awful to each other, producing a lot of laughter from the audience at the showing we went to.
The problem is that, while it was highly entertaining and often very funny to see such larger-than-life, over-the-top arseholes being complete and utter pieces of shit to each other, that proved to be the only thing that really made them interesting to watch. The last big chunk of the movie focuses more on what happened to Gucci as a business and let's just say this isn't even in the same league as something like The Social Network for making business deals seem interesting.
Instead, you're left watching a group of not very nice people continuing to be not very nice, but they've all been brought low enough that the excess and flamboyance of the majority of the movie is gone and the entertainment value with it. I don't consider this to be the fault of the cast, but more that there isn't really the material there for them to even try and elevate.
It doesn't help that that larger first chunk of House of Gucci focuses on the relationship between Adam Driver's Maurizio Gucci and Lady Gaga's Patrizia Reggiani (amusingly in this MCU-dominated cinema landscape, the real Patrizia was nicknamed the Black Widow for arranging the murder of her husband), giving events a personal core to focus on, but once they split it's the Gucci business which becomes the focus and it just isn't as interesting.
Honestly, if the entire movie had maintained the tone and energy of the first two-thirds, I would've enjoyed it a lot more than I did, but that last stretch just drags everything down so far that I can't really recommend it as anything other than a curiosity. Even the soundtrack can't help, utilising the most obvious, clichéd selection of songs you could possibly pick for a movie set in the Eighties to early Nineties.
House of Gucci really struggles with it's ending and I think it would've been far better to find some way of finishing the movie's narrative at the same Maurizio and Patrizia's marriage fell apart and using text or something similar to explain what happened after that. That would've reduced the movie's running significant running time (in fairness, it does fly by thanks to Ridley Scott's direction) and maybe left a more positive closing impression than it did.
House of Gucci feels like two entirely different movies stitched together to produce... whatever the hell this is. The first two-thirds are highly-enjoyable for just how funny it is to see terrible people being over-the-top awful to each other, but once the movie begins to focus more on the business side of things it collapses completely, leaving a pretty poor impression overall.