Sumptuous silver locks, with delicate Windsor glasses perched on the tip of the nose, are a classic look. He gives off that real sense of confident experience, wisdom, knowledge, and that air of unreserved confidence. He’s exactly the man you imagine when the phrase “a wise man once told me” is uttered, with his staff and a glowing, divine light forming a halo around his figure. Images of Dumbledore, Gandalf and Billy Connolly flood our brains…the soft-spoken Scottish professor, wizard and comedian…sounds like an updated version of CS Lewis The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
The director Paul GreenGrass. The man behind it all Thick headed franchise, as well as having developed a tremendous reputation for recreating films about particular historical events like Bloody Sunday, United 93, Captain Phillips, July 22and world newsGreengrass fits the image of the sage with rounded glasses, but his mastery of thrilling, action-packed films hints at something altogether more populist in his wisdom.
After the recent announcement of Greengrass returning with a new film, an adaptation based on another Stephen King novel, Fairy talelet’s take a closer look at some of the English director’s best films…
5 22nd of July
22nd of July is a dramatization of the 2011 terrorist attacks that took place in a youth camp in Norway. The 2018 film features the horrific massacre of 77 teenagers on the island of Utoya, just off the coast of Norway. Perpetrated by a neo-Nazi, the film examines the ensuing terror and event that devastated a nation and shocked the world. Greengrass brings his signature flair for suspense and knowledge of historical context to fuse another tense and formidable look at real-life violence.
4 bloody sunday
For many, U2’s enduring reputation has been “the band that gave everyone that free album on Apple Music that no one seemed to want”. However, once upon a time their credibility as one of the greatest bands in the world with the unmistakable presence of vocalist Bono was undeniable. At the height of their fame, U2 released the song bloody sunday sundayan ode to the Troubles in Northern Ireland and the Bogside Massacre known as the infamous Bloody Sunday.
Greenaway’s version of bloody sunday stars James Nesbitt as Ivan Cooper, who leads a peaceful protest against pre-trial detention in Derry, Northern Ireland. The towering presence of the British Army quickly descends into outright barbarism when it guns down 13 unarmed civilians and wounds several others. The film reproduces the complete and bloody frenzy and totally unprovoked reaction of the British armed forces.
3 Captain Phillips
Based on the fateful voyage of the Maersk Alabama, which sailed a little too close to the shores of the pirate-infested waters of Somalia, Captain Phillips is Paul Greengrass’ take on the very real story of Captain Richard Phillips and his crew falling victim to a siege by Somali pirates. It is a truly fascinating illustration of the perils of being at sea and a true lesson in human resilience, honor and selflessness.
Tom Hanks plays Phillips, while the fiery Barkhad Abdi as Abduwali Muse irrefutably steals the show as a man with an evil smile and an equally evil temper, who captures Phillips’ ship and holds it hostage. The incredible ending sequence is solidified in the story as one of the most realistic depictions of stress and survival ever filmed.
2 United 93
September 11 is a day that will be remembered forever. To this day, its impact still reverberates around the world, changing the lives of thousands of American families and, as a result, driving drastic reform of air transport protocol and American interference in the Middle East. United 93 emphatically delivers the story of those aboard United Airlines Flight 93, September 11, 2001, taking us on the devastating journey from pre-departure to the terrifying ordeal experienced by the passengers present during the terrorist hijacking of their plane .
Ultimately, it’s a story whose tragic ending we all know; However, Greengrass’ portrayal of the events of that day brings the tribulations endured by the victims to life in a natural and haunting way in the first studio film to directly address real-life tragedy.
1 Jason Bourne franchise (Supremacy, Ultimatum and Jason Bourne)
The grittier, more realistic American cousin of James Bond, Jason Bourne even shares the same initials with 007, so it was perhaps relatively predictable that the producers of Greengrass and Bourne would be accused of ripping off the longtime British spy. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth; since The Bourne Identity released in 2002, the film experienced massive growth. When Greengrass took over directing for its sequel, Bourne supremacyhis popularity continued to soar.
There’s been that unglamorous edge on Thick headed the movies had on their transatlantic cousin, swapping the Aston Martin for a broken old mini, the suits and tuxedos for a mundane but practical pair of jeans and denim jacket, and the array of high-tech gadgets for just a humble gun. Bourne (Matt Damon), an amnesiac, is constantly at odds with his former employers, the CIA, continually evading the CIA agents sent to kill him. Greengrass’ tenure overseeing three of the five Bourne films, two of which are arguably the best films in the Thick headed franchise (Bourne Supremacy and Bourne’s Ultimatum) was hugely influential for the action and thriller genres.