Tag Archive: Mark Wahlberg

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.


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

Movie Review: Pain and Gain

pain and gainWhen one thinks of Michael Bay they usually think of explosions and more recently robots. Here in this film Bay goes for something a little different and way more darker. Set in 1994/95 we follow Daniel Lugo(Mark Wahlberg) who is a body builder who works in a gym but wants more, cash, a large home and a fancy lawn mower. He brings in two other body builders and makes a plan that involves torture and making a man hand over everything he owns. That man is Victor Kershaw(Tony Shalhoub) and the three men get a taste of what taking what you want and doing whatever you can for the American way can be like going down an bunny hole.

This is a weird movie, just understand that going in, the trailers and commercials almost try to make Daniel Lugo look like some sort of good guy. Make no mistake we do follow him and his buddies most of the movie but at no point does the movie treat this guy like some sort of hero. The odd choice though is that Victor Kershaw and the people Lugo go after are not exactly heart warming people. ¬†What makes the movie work are the performances, Mark Wahlberg continues to impress me and here he doesn’t hold back. The stand out performance though comes from Dwayne (The Rock) Johnson plays a large, heavy religious mess of a man. Every scene he’s in he dominates.

What stands out to me in this movie is Michael Bay seems to pull away from what he’s used to, his style is all there, slow motion shots, tints and everything are still there. What I really mean is he tries to make everything look perfect. Here he makes Miami look rather disgusting and a mess. Usually his films are filled with shiny things and half naked women, yet the movie seems to make fun of a world with men lusting for these things. It’s hands down Bay’s most interesting movie to date since he actually took chances.

Now don’t get into this film expecting a laugh riot, most of the actual jokes are forced, many are side bits from minor characters. The film is very dark, the violence isn’t action movie violence, it’s gritty torture violence. There are some minor shoots outs at the end that make no sense, it seems in Michael Bay’s world cops will just shoot at anything at any time. What makes this interesting is that this was a true story, I’m sure liberties were taken to complete the film.

The strongest part of the film really comes from Ed Harris who plays a retired personal investigator that starts putting the pieces together to track Lugo and his buddies down. Unlike everyone else he isn’t playing things over the top, so I feel like the audience connected with him that way easily.

This isn’t Bay’s best work which I still believe is “The Rock” and secondly “The Island” even though the second half of the film is terrible that film is still strong. Pain and Gain might not be a film you check out in theaters but if you’re interested check it out for rent. Just prepare yourself the film is dark and not a good time in anyway you might be expecting, it’s a story about how greed can destroy anyone no matter how many muscles you have.

Rating: 6/10

Movie Review: Contraband

For a long time I thought this film looked like just an average action film. I wasn’t completely wrong but once I finally did see it I found myself surprised by the quality across the board. Mark Wahlberg plays Chris Farraday who is an ex-smuggler, trying to live a good life doing everything straight and installing home security systems. Sadly when his brother in law ends up failing to get drugs into the country. This gets into deep trouble with a local gangster(Giovanni Ribisi) who not only having a funny voice is a hard core evil guy. Farraday must bring in another shipment of contraband to pay back the gangster and stop him from hurting his wife(Kate Beckinsale), his children and best friend(Ben Foster).

The plot is something we’ve seen before but here everything is done just so right. Wahlberg is a solid actor and plays this type of a character very well. The greatest thing about him and his character is how straight up he is. In one of my favorite scenes the villain played by Ribisi sticks a gun in Farraday’s face and threatens his family. Instantly Farraday beats his ass and sticks his own gun in that man’s face. His character is simple, he loves his family and will do anything for them, but here it feels real.

Kate Beckinsale plays another character that should be simple, the wife, but she is really strong and very real here as well. The movie also gets major points from me as the children in this film have screen time, but they don’t have over the top dialogue or any annoying quirks. No they are simply kids put in a really bad spot. All the side characters also have small moments that make them unique but they never dominate any scenes or waste any time(Like every side character in a film like Transformers for example). The film is a remake of an Icelandic film titled “Reykjavik-Rotterdam” and the lead actor Baltasar Kormakur takes the directors chair for the remake. He does a fantastic job, the film is very smooth, the action and tension are very strong as well.

My only problem with the film is that the major action scene happens half way into the film. A major “Heat” type shoot out in Panama. The fire fight is shot very well and was a breath of fresh air as action movies have gone very shaky cam and quick cut recently. None of that happens here. Still the third act has some twists and turns but not a lot of explosive action, which for me was a pretty big let down.

If you miss this film in theaters you should really check it out and rent it. The film may seem very basic, but it avoids major cliches somehow. It’s very smooth and fun. One very large and well shot action scene as well. It’s not a classic crime film by any means but for sure not a movie one should simply over look.

Rating: 7/10

Weekend box office: Jan. 20-22nd

This might not come as a surprise to any of you but Kate Beckinsale in tight leather shooting guns really gets people into the theater. Underworld:(Should have just used 3 but instead we just put a word we found in the thesaurus)Awakening took in over $25 million in it’s first weekend. I’m sure the 3D screens helped it out a bit. Pretty good take for a franchise I thought was dead… Get it?… Movie is about vampires… I’ll move on. Landing in second place surprisingly was the WW2 Tuskegee airmen film Red Tails. Doing much better than expected with about $19 million, that’s without 3D screens if you were wondering. I’m sure this makes George Lucas smile as he’s been trying to get this film made for decades(that’s right decades) and many believed it would be an epic flop.

The rest of the list is pretty basic, Contraband is performing pretty well as it landed in third with about $12 million. It’s total is close to $50 million which is way above what I personally was expecting this film to make. Maybe people are ready for just some gritty action films. Steven Soderbergh’s new action flick Haywire scored only about $9 million over the weekend. Some might say that’s not good, for me though it’s lead is an MMA fighting woman, the advertising was minimal at best. I think that is a win.

The crying inducing film Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close landed in fourth with $10 million bucks. This film has been slowly expanding and the plan seems to be working as more people flock to the theaters for the film.

What is odd to me is that some of the award grabbing films aren’t getting a boost. The Artist and The Descendants should be bringing in the bucks but just aren’t on enough screens. I think studio’s need to expand their models for films like these and release them nation wide. It’s great the L.A. and NY and Chicago get films early but cities in the South and middle of the country don’t even get a chance to see them on the big screen. That’s a shame and frankly I think the films would do better if they did.

It should also be noted that Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol is on it’s way to $200 million and Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is close to $100 million, which many thought couldn’t happen. Here is the list…

1. Underworld: Awakening $25.4 million

2. Red Tails $19.1 million

3. Contraband $12.2 million

4. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close $10.5 million

5. Haywire $9 million

6. Beauty and the Beast 3D $8.5 million

7. Joyful Noise $6 million

8. Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol $5.5 million

9. Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows $4.8 million

10. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo $3.7 million


Should Max Payne be remade?

Studios are trying to restart or find any product that might have an already set fan base. We’ve heard the rumors of a Silent Hill 2 coming our way. Every month or so the Tomb Raider remake gets mentioned. Problem is most video game adaptations are horrible, the creative teams either just fail to put together a good story or they screw around with the themes of the original game and the entire thing crumbles apart. Max Payne had a lot of problems, starting with it’s rating. The game is hard core violent and has some serious dark themes. Then trying to make a pg-13 version of the film is just looking for failure. The movie was all over the place, some great visuals but it lacked in solid action scenes.

So a rumor has come up thinking that a remake of the film is a good idea. The first one came out in 2008, that’s very recent. A remake might straight confuse people. I say keep Mark Wahlberg, he wasn’t the right choice for Payne but still, keep him and continue the story. You need a new creative team and the ability to have an R rating. Use the second video game for inspiration and continue the story line. With the right marketing the film could make money and also make people check out the first one on DVD. So I think in the end a sequel could make a lot of money. If you remake Max Payne the style needs to heavily change. They would need to make it clear that this movie is different from the 2008 version.

I’m for this type of remake though, the Max Payne series could easily been a great movie franchise. It just needs the right mood and attitude. It also needs an R rating, you need the gun violence to make the movie work. You shouldn’t be focusing on teens, focus on guys who remember the game well. Most of those guys are in their twenties and even thirties now.

For some reason the Crow is going to be remade. They have picked Stephen Norrington to make it and that I feel is a good choice. I loved the first Blade and if LXG had more funding and less studio involvement it could have been really cool. So even with Norrington behind the camera I don’t really see the reason to remake the film. The first one is dark but stands up pretty well. Also the rumor that Mark Wahlberg is in the running to play the Crow confuses me highly. I like him as an actor so don’t get me wrong I just don’t see him as the Crow. Frankly casting this part would be really hard. I just can’t shake Markie Marks performance from The Happening from my brain. So hopefully this will all work out for the best but I don’t know. Maybe Norrington should just pitch another Blade film(which would rock) and avoid remaking this film all together.