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Movie Review: Fury

fury-review-2Now from what I can tell Fury is not based on any true story. I’m fine with this, not all war movies have to be based on something that really happened. In the last several years we’ve seen a minor come back for war films. David Ayer the director of Training Day brings a gritty vision to a film genre that I believe lost it’s balls recently. Problem is the film almost goes too dark.

Brad Pitt is a stand out in this film. Frankly without him the movie might have really struggled. He is the commanding officer of a tank lead by men who have seen too much combat. They’ve been together for a long time, fought through Africa and France and now find themselves in Germany with their foot on the throat of the Nazi’s.

The rest of the team is made up of “Bible” the religious man of the group played by Shai Labeouf. “Gordo” played by the impressive Michael Pena. Then of course there is “Coon-ass” played by Shane… I mean Jon Berthal. They are paired up with a new kid played by Logan Lerman. They pick at each other and at many times seem like animals. Slowly we see them become brothers. The actors are all fine but really don’t stand out against Pitt.

The best thing about this movie is that there really isn’t any secret mission they go on or anything. They simply lumber forward and fight off desperate Germans. In one scene they fight children armed with rockets. Unlike other movies that try and find some sort of light hearted or meaning to war, Fury makes it clear that war is brutal and disgusting.

My only issue with the movie is its constant mission to be dark. There is no sympathy here in this movie. The balance is just off, at many times I actually disliked Pitt’s crew, that’s fine I guess but it doesn’t balance well with the action. The last almost twenty minutes of the movie the crew fight off a hundred SS soldiers. The violence turns real to suddenly comic book silliness. If you want to go dark and gritty then that should flow right into the action.

That being said the film is still very interesting. Just be prepared this is not a “fun” movie. The violence is brutal and Ayer is never afraid to show it.

Rating: 6/10

equacbThe plot is rather simple, Robert McCall(Denzel Washington) plays an ex-spy? Killer? Never really explained, all we know is that he’s out of the business and works at a fake Home Depot. Then one night he watches as a young prostitute(Chloe Moretz) get abused something goes off, he then goes on simply a killing spree, taking out every level of a Russian mob in Boston.

Where this film stands apart from most of the “ex-bad ass goes on a revenge binge” type film is that this movie is brutal. The violence is beyond over the top. McCall’s lack of empathy for the men he kills is interesting here but never looked into. They focus on him being slightly OCD, which again is just something to make his character stand out it never really becomes a part of the story. The movie is lightly based on a television show with the same title.

The film succeeds only in its action, the brutal R-rating is deserved and works. No CGI blood, this movie makes the violence very real. McCall weirdly barely uses guns and goes for books or tools to take out bad guys. Where the movie fails in not taking things a step further with the story. McCall is basically a quiet lunatic, I guess we’re suppose to believe he’s a nice guy who has an extreme on off switch but I never bought it. His brutality increases as the movie goes along and he seems very addicted to it. We spend most of the movie following McCall as he lays down his own balance of justice on, robbers, dirty cops, etc. None of which connect to the story. I thought they were going to use this for something greater but they never do. The film at no point tries to explain why almost all of a sudden McCall just goes on a vengeance binge. Somewhere in there was a very interesting movie, they decide to ignore and make it as generic as possible.

The third act of the film is so cliche riddled and so predictable, that it’s almost pointless to watch it. McCall also comes off as a quiet Superman. Nothing seems to hurt him and he seems to know what the villains are going to do several steps before they even think about doing it. Marton Czokas’ plays a very good Russian mobster. His character stands out in many ways, but by the end you know he is not a threat to McCall so the drama is gone. Nothing is a surprise, you’re just waiting for the next beat before the movie ends.

Antoine Fuqua is one of my favorite directors, he just makes good action movies. It felt like though the movie he wanted to make was held back here. It’s going on direction and then basically turns into Mr. and Mrs. Smith, by that I mean that it had something interesting going and then just decides to dumb it down and end it with a big shoot out in a department store. Kind of a let down.

Rating: 5/10

img.300.rise.of.an.empire10This film isn’t really a sequel, it’s more of a side piece. The action in this film is happening while and exactly after the events of the first 300 film are happening. This is the main issue with the film, you feel as if you simply know everything that is going to happen. Sullivan Stapleton plays the lead Athenian to stand up against the Persian army(well really Navy). The film has a chance to be something else but couldn’t help stay strapped to what the first film had done. The visuals and film style simply mimic Zack Snyder’s style from the first film.

First off the film has way too many slow motion scenes. In the first five minutes it stands out so much. The action is actually pretty solid across the board. There are a couple really solid action scenes across the board. I just dislike the over use of CGI blood and this movie LOVES CGI blood. Unlike the first film a lot of the movie is set on boats and that was interesting.

Even though Lena Headey shows up here and there in the film to make speeches and to remind us this film is a sequel. The real stand out and star here is Eva Green who actually plays the main villain. Even though she is in most of the movie I wanted even more of her. She’s beyond sexy and she obviously enjoyed her character and dialogue and we the audience benefit. The main issue is you start to like her so much you end up rooting for her. She also has hands down one of the best sex scenes I’ve ever seen on screen.

The film over all minus Green is just average. It would have been fun if they tried to show how different the Athenians were compared to the Spartans. In the first movie we’re told over and over again how intense the Spartans were and how war hungry they were as well. It kind of made sense why each warrior was ripped and they all had six packs. The Athenians here all look like Spartans, barely any clothes, all ripped with full on six packs, yet were told they are farmers and artists, okay sure. The movie seems like a pointless add on that simply doesn’t stand up to the first. See it for Eva Green and that is all.

Rating: 5/10

3-days-to-kill-review-1So I really wanted Kevin Costner to be the next Liam Neeson. That man has just pumped out solid action movies ever since the first Taken film. Costner has really made a come back and I’ve always liked him. Here he plays a former CIA agent who finds out he only has several months to live. He chooses that time to try and reconnect with his estranged family in Paris. Problem is he’s approached by another CIA agent/femme fatale/weirdo played by Amber Heard. She has a new medical drug that can save him, he can have it if he kills off an arms dealer for her.

The film is produced by Luc Besson who I like and is directed by McG who has made at least one good movie(We Are Marshal) so things should have worked out. Sadly almost nothing works here, Costner tries and it’s fun watching him be a bad ass, problem is we don’t get enough of it. The largest action scene is in the first five minutes of the movie, then the film slows down and never picks back up. The film wanted to be a new age True Lies but instead is just a true mess. Hailee Steinfeld plays Costner’s daughter named Zoey. Their scenes together are decent but it’s not enough, it’s simply too generic. The film could have worked if the second plot were interesting at all, but sadly as an action film the movie just fails.

The biggest and weirdest flaw is Amber Heard, her character is not believable in any way. We’re told she’s a CIA operative, but at no time does it feel like it. Every time Costner sees her she’s dressed in the tightest dresses possible. Every scene she’s in is set in a weird 60’s Bond set which is never explained and takes you out of each of those scenes instantly. You start to feel real bad for her because she tries to simply over act herself out of this terrible character/script but she can never escape.

The main villains in this movie are throw away German/Generic European types. One if called “The Wolf” and in the beginning he’s trying to sell a dirty bomb but later we have no idea what he’s even doing. Every bad guy is wearing a black and white suit and Costner has no problem dispersing dozens of them at a time. This lack of a threat makes the action pointless and could make you care even less about the family element.

The obvious selling point for the script was that Costner’s character has no idea how to be a father, so as he tortures men to find “The Wolf” he stops to ask them for father advice. None of these scenes are funny or smart in any way. Basically you realize they are just stalling so the movie didn’t have a run time of forty minutes.

Rating: 1/10

Movie Review: Robocop(2014)

robocop1cbThe original film is amazing and no one is saying it isn’t. Personally to me the original Robocop is a classic for me. I’m not going to compare the remake to the original too much because it simply wouldn’t be fair. I’m usually pretty anti-remake but in this case I think a series of Robocop movies would be awesome. The plot is pretty basic, a Detroit policeman starts digging too deep into a case and finds himself targeted, after the attempt on his life a morally corrupt company named Omnicorp spends billions to turn him into a part man/mostly robot cop. Once on the street Robocop tries to solve his own murder while trying to connect with his wife and son and dealing with what he has become.

What makes this movie solid is the actors on the screen. Joel Kinnaman is exactly a big name but he stood out on AMC’s “The Killing” and here he brings a good balance to Robocop. Abbie Cornish plays his wife and I’ve always liked her, here she doesn’t get a lot to chew on, she mainly cries but still with even the little she had to do you believed her emotions, you briefly understood how weird it would be to have a loved one return to you, but his body be something completely different. Gary Oldman plays the scientist who puts Robocop together, every scene he’s in has depth. The best is when he’s in the same room with Michael Keaton who plays the CEO of Omnicorp. When they play off each other it’s just amazing to watch.

A stand out moment is Samuel L. Jackson plays a Glenn Beck type who essentially works for Omnicorp and is pushing for America to allow robot police patrol the streets of crime infested streets. He book ends the movie and it’s a weird breath of fresh air in this movie. Most of the 80’s remakes have stepped away from camp or any political message, it’s nice to see this film at least attempt it.

Director Jose Padilha does a solid job with the look of the film. We never really see Detroit is full and never get a taste of how bad the crime is, yet when Robocop is in action the choices he makes for the scenes are always spot on. For a PG-13 rated film the action scenes are intense, things move fast of course because they tried to avoid seeing any blood. The only problem this film has really is the pacing, it’s trying to tell two stories at once and it messes things up. The more interesting story of Murphy reconnecting with his family is curbed for him trying to get revenge, oddly though his revenge story isn’t the final action piece. Keaton’s CEO rapidly forms as the main villain. I hate when movies can’t decide what they want to be so they split the story. Here it hurts the film badly. I still want to see this become a franchise. The original Robocop is a classic but the sequel is crazy in a fun way but not great and the third film was a disaster. This material deserves a series and I hope it gets it.

Rating: 7/10

jack-ryan-review-1We live in the age of remakes and reboots. Most of the time I’m unhappy about hearing remakes or reboots get the green light but when I heard it was happening for Jack Ryan I was pretty excited. I’m a big fan of the Tom Clancy novels and even bigger fan of the Harrison Ford movies. Even Ben Affleck’s attempt called “The Sum of All Fears” was pretty good. Even though that film ruined Clancy’s story by changing the villains from Arab terrorists to Neo Nazi’s which made no sense what so ever. This reboot starts everything over. We see Jack Ryan(Chris Pine) while in school in England when the attacks on 9/11 happen. He takes his talents to the military but in one short scene we see that a helicopter he was riding in is shot down over Afghanistan. Next thing we know he’s in a military hospital, back broken, the doctors talk about his heroics saving the other passengers from the wreckage, but we never see any of this. 

While recovering he meets a beautiful doctor(Keira Knightley) who helps him gain his strength. Knightley here does a very impressive American accent but her character is limited which was sad to see. Ryan from here gets picked up to be a covert CIA agent by a veteran agent(Kevin Costner). The problem this film has is it speeds through everything and frankly we’ve seen all of this before. The only bright light is when the villain is revealed. Kenneth Branagh plays a Russian millionaire who is trying to destroy America’s economy. Funny enough Branagh also directed the film. He’s scenes are hands down the best, he brings a darkness to the movie.

The action scenes, which there are not many of are very well filmed. The major problem for the film is that it just all feels very been there done that. The trailers for the movie hinted that Jack Ryan couldn’t trust anyone, none of this is actually in the film. At no point do we believe his mentor or wife could be a threat to him in any way. It’s rather clear that the only bad guy is Branagh. His characters plan is interesting but not very complex. So in the end the movie is just very generic. I was hoping for this film to lead into a franchise, for that to happen though the movie needed to take a chance and instead it kept its head down and stayed in the shadows.

Rating: 6.5/10

Movie Review: Lone Survivor

lone-survivor4Based on the book written by the only survivor of the failed mission on June 28th 2005 named Marcus Luttrell, we follow four SEAL team members as they stake out a village to make an identification of a top Taliban commander. While waiting on a hill side their communications go down and they are found by two boys and an old man who are herding goats. They have three options, let them go, which would mean over two hundred Taliban soldiers would chase up the hill after them. Or they leave them on the hill side tied up or straight up execute them. This scene is intense and wisely allows the four men to argue about it, this gives the audience time to rack the minds over what they would do. They of course release the three and very quickly find themselves under attack.

This is hands down the best war film in the last ten years. Only two other films in my opinion have down a good job at handling the War on Terror and that is “Zero Dark Thirty” and “The Hurt Locker”. This film gives us a small amount of time to get to know not only the four SEALS but other members of their team. All the actors here do their best work from Mark Wahlberg, Ben Foster, Emile Hirsch and Taylor Kitsch. All actors try and live up to the real life soldiers they are portraying.

When the battle starts the movie amps up the tension. Everything is gritty and feels very real. This was due I assume because Luttrell and other SEALS were consultants. Enemy soldiers dart in and out of sight. Gun fire rips through the trees but it’s hard to see where it comes from. The four SEALS are well trained and better fighters so they take down many approaching Taliban. The film never though feels forced, where other directors might over due how great the SEALS are Peter Berg keeps this very real. As the SEALS retreat they are shot up pretty badly.

To escape the SEALS dive over the side of a mountain and these scenes are brutal and on the edge of being hard to watch. As the battle settles the movie begins to loose it’s hard edge. Luttrell is the only survivor of the fire fight. He is rescued by local villagers. This did happen in real life but the way it is filmed seems fake. When the Taliban arrive looking for Luttrell the villagers try and fight them off. Berg makes several what I’ll call “Hollywood” choices when it comes to Luttrell being helped by a Afghan boy. The films tone changes from gritty war film to B-action movie so suddenly it took me out of it.

The story needed to be told on film, Berg was the perfect choice. The action is amazing and brutal. I do suggest that if you can please go read the book. The third arch of the film skips over a lot of details about Luttrell’s experience with the Afghan villagers. The film makes it seem like it happens over the span of an hour, when in real life it was several days. Still this movie should be checked out especially in theaters if you get a chance.

7.5/10

I’m back…

I took time off from blogging due to work/getting let down from movies. I will attempt to constantly review movies. Please send me your responses or reviews because my favorite part of all of this is talking about movies! Thank you guys.

Andy

Movie Review: Kick-Ass 2

kickasscb23In an age where we get at least three or four comic book movies a year the original Kick-Ass was a breath of a fresh air. It was violent, really weird, and frankly really hilarious. The sequel is based off the comic book of the same name and frankly does a better job of getting the story across. The comic book is ultra-violent, now the movie has a lot of violence too, but it never gets too dark. Kick-Ass 2 stays in a weird zone, almost always going for comedy.

The story starts off with us following David Lizewski(Aaron Taylor-Johnson) who decides to put on the Kick-Ass costume again. Being the first real world super hero inspired dozens of others to do the same. Most of them are rather goofy but mean well. Kick-Ass teams up with Colonel Stars and Stripes(Jim Carrey) and they create a real world Justice League called “Justice Forever”. He trains with Hit-Girl(Chloe Grace Moretz) but she decides to turn down the life of a super hero so she can be a normal teenage girl.

The only major problem with the film is splitting the two leads away from each other. Where the first film felt fluid, probably thanks to director Matthew Vaughn, he didn’t direct the sequel(but did produce it). Here we bounce back and forth from Kick-Ass to Hit-Girl and somehow there is no real balance to it. What really helps is Christopher Mintz-Plasse who plays Red Mist, who uses his hatred for Kick-Ass, who killed his father in the first film, he decides to become the first real super villain. He changes his name to “The Motherfucker” and instead of really training or gaining any real ability, he just pays psycho’s to kill people for him. His lines are hilarious and the concept of a young rich ass-hole just becoming a super villain is really good.

This film is crazy, and if you just sit back and relax you’ll have a good time. There are many moments that are stupid or over the top, but that is the point. At one moment one of The Motherfucker’s lead henchmen “Mother Russia” kills six cops at one point, and the scene makes no sense but it sets up how crazy things are going to be.

What doesn’t work is Hit-Girl going to high school. Nothing feels real once she’s there. It doesn’t help that all the girls she deals with in high school are obviously in their late 20’s playing teens. A couple of the scenes work, especially one where Hit-Girl watches a One Direction type band and finds herself, and not understanding her attraction to them.

The film frankly should have just been called “Kick-Ass 2: Hit Girl” because if we simply just followed her the entire time this film would have been a home run. Instead the film is fragmented by us following Kick-Ass and then Hit-Girl and also Mother Fucker’s league of villains. The action scenes are really well done, the R-rating helps too. PG-13 rated comic book violence only works occasionally. Here we get full on ass kicking and it’s nice to see. This film is silly and weird, but I enjoyed myself a lot and laughed a lot as well. In the end that’s all that really matters with a movie like this.

Rating: 7/10

Movie Review: 2 Guns

2gunscb2Want to see a weird remake of Lethal Weapon?… I’m just kidding. 2 Guns follows Denzel Washington who is a DEA Agent working under cover. He teams up with Mark Wahlberg who is a Naval Intelligence Officer, also under cover. When they team up neither of them know this and rob a bank together. Problem is when they break into the vault they find way more cash than expected. They find out they were not just robbing a Mexican drug cartel leader, but the CIA, who are taking protection money from all the cartels so they would not be destroyed. So of course both men find themselves hunted by a lot of bad dudes, good thing they have each other, and over the top aiming skills since every gun shot they take is a head shot.

It’s nice to see an R-rated action film these days, studios seem to be scared to make anything not rated PG-13 or under. What makes this film work is the leads. They are both simply awesome together on screen. The best parts of this movie are when they are sitting together and having a back and forth. The only thing this movie needed was a little more in the action department. Many shoot outs end far too quickly and both men are simply too good at what they do.

The film has three main villains… Yes three main villains. Edward James Olmos plays a Mexican drug cartel leader and has a fun time doing it to. I loved seeing him on screen in this role. Bill Paxton shows up as a CIA enforcer, he doesn’t have a lot of screen time, but when he’s there he’s great. It would have been nice if Paxton’s character had more to do. Also James Marsden plays Wahlberg’s boss who is planning on stealing the CIA money too. So there is a lot going on been when it comes to taking the three guys out the movie does this in a very bland and unsatisfying way.

Still the movie is a lot of fun, if you’re a Paula Patton fan you HAVE TO SEE THIS MOVIE, just trust me on that. Denzel Washington is great here as he plays basically his character from “Training Day” if he was a straight up good guy. Wahlberg just has loads of fun in this movie and the guy just made me laugh.

I would love a sequel called “3 Guns” mainly because I simply loved watching these two play off each other. Just wish the script had a stronger ending. Even though there is a decent twist towards the end that I didn’t see coming the final action sequence just didn’t do it for me. But it was still fun and in the end that is what matters.

Rating: 7/10

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