By ADRIANNA BROWN
With an extensive resume of sardonic characters, British producer, director and actor, Sacha Baron Cohen, returns to the big screen with yet another film that both pushes the boundaries of humor and sets the stage for political and cultural satire.
Directed by Louis Leterrier and written by Baron Cohen, “The Brothers Grimsby,” is set in modern day England and tells a tale of reunion, separation and acceptance, with a certain sarcastic appeal that only Baron Cohen can manufacture.
“Of all my films, this one is a favorite,” said Baron Cohen, while sitting in front of a packed theatre of dedicated fans at a screening event of the film in Coral Gables. “I was trying to do a number of things with this film.”
This film is distinctly different from the other films Baron Cohen has been involved with in the past. “The Brothers Grimsby” stems away from his typical narrative, which usually intertwines loose comedic direction with documentary style filming. Instead, the film embraces a carefully structured storyline that progressively reveals deep, emotionally driven characters.
To the residents of Grimsby, a fishing town in England, Nobby (Baron Cohen) seems to have it all, despite living in poverty and unapologetically abusing the welfare system. With a household of 11 children, an adoring girlfriend (Rebel Wilson) and a fierce dedication to watching soccer at the local bar, Nobby represents the modern day settler living a life of minimalism.
For Nobby however, his life cannot be complete until the return of his younger brother Sebastian (Mark Strong). For 28 years, Nobby has held onto the hope that Sebastian would resurface on his doorstep; ready to continue the tight-nit relationship the orphaned brothers shared before an adoption separated the boys and relocated Sebastian to London.
Meanwhile, Sebastian has spent his years becoming an M16 classified secret agent, a position that forced him to purge all memories and affiliations of his past. It is not until an outlandish reunion between both brothers, that Sebastian even considers Nobby’s existence.
Unfortunately for Sebastian, whose life is in danger after being falsely accused of murdering an international leader, he has no choice but to allow Nobby to accompany him as he flees from his own agency. In the quest to clear Sebastian’s name and to save their own lives, the brothers uncover a secret plot for world domination from an unlikely source and embark on a mission that tests the willingness of man and the bonds of brotherhood.
While humor plays an instrumental role in “The Brothers Grimsby,” the film differentiates itself from other films co-written by Baron Cohen, featuring a hefty assembly of adventure and drama as well.
“I never knew you could actually put emotion into a movie,” joked Baron Cohen. “I wanted the film to be a mix of few things. I wanted it to stay humorous with a touch of drama, but also be a full-on action film.”
Holding true to this intent, “The Brothers Grimsby” uncovers a sentimental dynamic between the characters of Nobby and Sebastian through a complex storyline of immense action, from thrilling car chases to brutal fight sequences.
“The opening action sequence was very difficult to shoot because of how extreme it was,” said Baron Cohen, discussing the techniques used to capture some of the more complicated action scenes.
“To film the particular scene, which captures an intense chase from a first-person point-of-view, we had to find the best stunt man and attach a GoPro to his head. We wanted it to be as good as a Bond movie. There [were] a lot of injuries sustained because of it.”
Aside from the action and plot, the film’s momentous triumph is the way in which it hides its message under layers of satirical plot lines and tongue-in-cheek dialogue. The relationship and tension between Nobby and Sebastian is a simplistic reflection of a very similar dynamic between social classes of today, separating the privileged from the poor and highlighting the complexity of “upper class” versus “working class.”
Whether or not the film truly seeks to disclose this relationship through humor, Baron Cohen accomplishes what he has with his older works, which include “Borat,” The Dictator,” and “Bruno.”
“Nothing gives me and my writing partner [Phil Johnston] more pleasure than hearing the audience laugh,” said Baron Cohen, just before high fiving his fans one final time. “That is why I do the crazy things I do.”
“The Brothers Grimsby” is open in theatres nation-wide beginning today.