Mary Poppins Returns
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All Critics (22)
| Top Critics (8)
| Fresh (9)
| Rotten (13)
Whatever potential was evident in Soussan's source material is wasted on empty clichés and spoiler-alert casting.
Great title. Too bad what follows doesn't have the same insouciant charm.
It involves so much internecine crime that it would be hard to understand under any circumstances, but this film is a drier head-scratcher than it needs to be.
It fails to make its subject matter interesting.
Despite delivering few actual thrills, the fact-based "Backstabbing for Beginners" qualifies as an intelligent, well-crafted political thriller...
An inert would-be thriller.
Backstabbing for Beginners doesn't convey the complexities of this scandal nor the troubled, compromised humanity of its characters.
Ben Kingsley - who is always great - does some scenery-chewing as Soussan's more experienced boss, but even Kingsley's presence isn't enough to make things work.
The best moments in director Fly's middling film are about character, not action. Yet it does go in its anticlimactic way to a place where thrillers rarely dare: the ethical grey zone.
Theo James, whose voice is quite engaging and easy on the ears, also narrates 'BFB,' which helps us follow this complicated fictionalized version of Michael Soussan's compelling memoir.
Director Per Fly's indifferently constructed retelling of the United Nations' oil-for-food scandal has no tone or sense of urgency...it's all very detailed, and it's all very dull.
Although the narrative momentum lags in spots, the film takes advantage of strong performances and captures its inherent moral complexity without turning didactic or heavy-handed.
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