DETROIT review

Man, I really should have paid attention in history class. I assume it’s a racially charged film. No duh, 1967 white cops in a black neighborhood, that goes without saying. But I suppose what sets this film apart is the star-studded and fairly interesting cast. I’m mostly referring to Will Poulter, who seems like he’s playing a cop who is in charge, even though he looks like he’s in high school. No offense to the man of course, he’s twenty-four years old, but just the way his face is structured, I almost don’t buy him as someone giving orders. But it’s not like I’ve seen the film and for all I know, his performance overshadows his baby face. To be fair, he is a great actor, so I’m sure that’ll be the case.

Well, here’s the cast. Starring, we have John Boyega (THE CIRCLE [2017], STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS [2015], ATTACK THE BLOCK [2011], and upcoming films STAR WARS EPISODE VIII: THE LAST JEDI [2017] and PACIFIC RIM: UPRISING [2018]), Will Poulter (THE REVENANT [2015], THE MAZE RUNNER [2014], and THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE VOYAGE OF THE DAWN TREADER [2010]), and Anthony Mackie (TRIPLE 9 [2016], CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER [2014], PAIN & GAIN [2013], and Marvel’s upcoming AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR [2018]). In support, we have Algee Smith (EARTH TO ECHO [2014]), Jacob Latimore (SLEIGHT [2017], COLLATERAL BEAUTY [2016], and THE MAZE RUNNER [2014]), Jack Reynor (FREE FIRE [2017], SING STREET [2016], TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION [2014], and the upcoming JUNGLE BOOK [2018]), John Krasinski (THE HOLLARS [2016], 13 HOURS [2016], TV show THE OFFICE, and upcoming TV show JACK RYAN), and Kaitlyn Dever (video game UNCHARTED 4: A THIEF’S END [2016], and TV shows LAST MAN STANDING and JUSTIFIED).

Now for the crew. Directing is Kathryn Bigelow, known for ZERO DARK THIRTY (2012), THE HURT LOCKER (2008), and POINT BREAK (1991). Penning the screenplay is Mark Boal, known for ZERO DARK THIRTY, THE HURT LOCKER, and IN THE VALLEY OF ELAH (2007). Composing the score is the always amazing James Newton Howard, known for FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM (2016), THE HUNGER GAMES (2012), M. Night Shyamalan’s LADY IN THE WATER (2006), and the upcoming FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM 2 (2018). Finally, the cinematographer is Barry Ackroyd, known for JASON BOURNE (2016), THE HURT LOCKER (2008), and UNITED 93 (2006).

Overall, yeah, this looks like it’s going to be good. Some great talent in front of and behind the camera, so I’m thinking we can expect a quality film here. Let me at it.

This is my honest opinion of: DETROIT

(SUMMARY)

Set in 1967 Detroit, Michigan. Racial tension between the black community and law-enforcement is at an all-time high and the city has become a war-zone, with officers gunning down black people in the streets for little to no cause and covering their tracks with lies and false evidence. Within the local Algiers Motel, a black teenager, fed up with the police and the mistreatment of black, fires a few blank rounds at the police to scare them, but the result is the police thinking it’s a sniper attack and the motel is raided and so ensues a night of humiliation, beatings, and murder.

(REVIEW)

I feel a little conflicted. It’s good, but I’m not sure just how good I feel about it. Definitely, the one thing I will say is don’t see it if you’re expecting a story with a happy ending. It’s not sad, or anything, but my buddy whom I saw it with said it best, “It’s depressing.”

I can’t say how long this review will be, but let’s see how I do.

First and foremost, the acting is spectacular. On the villainous side, Poulter threw me to the ground, shoved a pole in my back, and wiped the floor with me because he was so despicable, so fucking monstrous that he quite possibly stole the show. Not that I have a mind to catch on to “themes” of movies all the time, but one of them was just how low and depraved these men could get in this time period and what they managed to get away with. They will even take an act like praying, a symbolic gesture of peace, clarity, and hope, and use it to traumatize and horrify, forcing them to recite a prayer at the threat of death. And their behavior and attitude isn’t just reserved for the people of color. No, they’ll mistreat the white women too. It’s incredibly hard to watch. But the act of threatening alone isn’t enough if the victims aren’t scared out of their minds and boy howdy did I believe they were. Man, I hope shooting on that set that things were chill between everyone because even though it’s acting, I can see things getting out of hand and someone decking each other simply out of reaction, but I highly doubt that ever happened. Stories like Shia Lebeouf knocking out Tom Hardy are pretty isolated incidents. Either way, everyone did amazing and you could cut the fear in their eyes with a chainsaw and not make a scratch. If you wanted a real horror film to watch that features no monsters, this is well worth that experience.

I suppose another aspect that I can appreciate is the restraint that this movie had to not have Julie (Hannah Murray) or Karen (Dever) raped by the cops. While I’m sure that didn’t happen in the incident anyway, I can definitely see some studio big-wig trying to throw that “creative liberty” in there all in the name of “added dramatic effect.” You can’t convince me it hasn’t happened before. It sure looked like it was going to go that route what with the constant close-ups of the two women’s backsides and the animalistic men ogling over them. Hell, I was ready to rip my hair out after Julie’s clothes were ripped off. I was calling it, that’s where it was going to happen. But nope, the humiliation and the implication in the men’s eyes was more than enough, and honestly, a lot more effective.

Other than there being a great deal intensity and visceral stress and fear that you feel alongside the victims, there’s not a whole lot of praise to be spoken. It’s just holding a magnifying glass on an incident which perfectly captured the tension between two sides of a conflict and what the law was clearly there to protect at the time, and it wasn’t always its citizens.

Although, having done no real research, and certainly not having the resources that the crew had while putting this movie together, one element did bother the crap out of me. Carl (Jason Mitchell) used a pistol with blanks when he wanted to scare the cops. When the cops raid the place looking for the gun, they keep shouting for it, but… why don’t they explain that it’s not real, or didn’t have real bullets? They spent hours getting questioned and it’s like they honest to God didn’t know anything about a real gun. Is a real gun so indistinguishable from a fake one, or a real one with no real ammo? I don’t know, I grew up with paintball, airsoft, and cap guns, as well as watching a whole ton of action movies. I think I could tell the difference. These people, scared or not, really didn’t say anything?! Maybe this is a weird detail overlooked by the movie, but… yeah, that seemed off to me.

Overall, this movie isn’t for the feint of heart and it certainly shouldn’t be seen if you’re looking for a crowd pleaser. But it’s the 1960’s in one of the most crime-ridden cities in America, even to this day. This movie’s setting alone was an indication that a happy ending was never going to be in the cards. But it’s worth watching. It’s a powerful piece that will stay with you. I think a detail or two can be questioned, but it’s a good film. It’s no “must see” of the year, but if you have even a passing interest, I do recommend it.

My honest rating for DETROIT: 4/5

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FREE FIRE review

Couldn’t tell you much about this one other than it’s the one movie coming out this week that I’m most excited for. A comedy thriller about a weapons purchase that goes wrong and becomes a free-for-all? Sold.

But let’s face it, the cast is the main reason I’m going in, so let’s take a look. This bonanza of talent includes the severely underrated Sharlto Copley (HARDCORE HENRY [2016], ELYSIUM [2013], and DISTRICT 9 [2009]), the unbelievably amazing Brie Larson (KONG: SKULL ISLAND [2017], ROOM [2015], DON JON [2013], and upcoming films AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR [2018] and CAPTAIN MARVEL [2019]), the criminally unknown Cillian Murphy (ANTHROPOID [2016], INCEPTION [2010], RED EYE [2005], and the upcoming DUNKIRK [2017]), equally sadly unknown Armie Hammer (NOCTURNAL ANIMALS [2016], THE LONE RANGER [2013], THE SOCIAL NETWORK [2010], and the upcoming CARS 3 [2017]), and hopefully a future household name, Jack Reynor (SING STREET [2016], MACBETH [2015], and TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION [2014]).

Now for the crew. Directing and co-writing the screenplay is Ben Wheatley, known for movies and TV shows that I’ve never heard of. Wheatley’s partner-in-pen is Amy Jump, also known for stuff I’ve not heard of. Co-composing the music are Geoff Barrow and Ben Salisbury, both known for EX-MACHINA (2015). Finally, the cinematographer is Laurie Rose, known for a bunch of stuff that I’ve never heard of.

Overall, I’m so excited for this, so let’s get to it, yo!

This is my honest opinion of: FREE FIRE

(SUMMARY)

Set in 1978 Boston. Two gangs – a couple of Irish Republic guys, Frank (Michael Smiley) and Chris (Cillian Murphy) and their intermediary, Justine (Brie Larson), and a gun merchant, Vernon (Sharlto Copley) and his representative Ord (Armie Hammer) – get together for a gun exchange and already things are tense. For one thing, the guns that Frank and Chris asked for are the wrong kind. But convinced that they’re adequate enough for their needs, they take the weapons. But before long, things get worse. One of the drivers, Stevo (Sam Riley), has a black eye. He had gotten his ass kicked when he sexually assaulted the cousin of his attacker, and the attacker, Harry (Jack Reynor), is part of Vernon’s group. Soon, a free for all gunfight breaks out and everyone starts killing each other one by one.

(REVIEW)

AHHHH I love it! It’s so funny! It’s so amazing! It’s so…. AHHHH!

Alright alright, reeling it in now, but I’m not kidding. I think this is one of the funnest action comedies of the year. Not that there’s been many to compare with. CHIPS (2017)? Psh, yeah right.

I love this set-up. It’s so basic and cliché. I mean, come on now, a run-down warehouse? Pretty standard. Yet, once the action gets going, there’s a surprising amount of creativity involved. First off, there’s a ton of cover for the characters to hide behind. Also, nearly everybody gets shot in the legs, so they always forced to crawl around to use that cover.

Oh, and everyone gets shot a couple times, some by accident too, providing some of the best comedic moments, of course. And each time someone makes a move to get the advantage over the other, those scenes are pretty tense and since people do die in this movie, you never really know who’s going to get axed off. In retrospect, you don’t even really care because you’re enjoying the chaos and bickering. You never know what’s going to happen next and there are some pretty solid surprises here and there, so it’s never boring, which is amazing for entertainment value.

Standout performances. Four words. Armie mother fucking Hammer. By God, what a scene-stealer. I mean, don’t get me wrong, everyone’s great, and we’ll get into them as well, but Hammer…

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Don’t get me wrong, I think this guy’s been gipped of great movies to showcase his talent post THE SOCIAL NETWORK (2010). Hell, you know what, say what you want about LONE RANGER (2013), he himself wasn’t that bad. He tried. But that movie didn’t do anyone any favors. He’s always had the potential, but he was dangerously close to becoming one of those actors that would be labeled as box office poison, as many of his movies haven’t been widely known or financially successful, and those that are aren’t because of him. Here’s hoping that this turns that horseshit around and Hammer gets roles just as great as he’s got here. Ord is such a wise-cracker that you can’t help but fall in love with his level douche-baggery. He gives everyone such shit and busts everyone’s balls that you could make a drinking game out of how many characters get butt-hurt after one of his quips. I mean, is he the most entertaining character in the movie? He’s up there, but what makes this so standout is because of his résumé that now in a cast that’s been in some reliably solid flicks, he’s one of the top acting dogs.

But now it’s time to gush like a valley girl in a brand clothing store on sale. Copley. This man… I love this man. Whether he’s in a dramatic role or a comedic role, whether it’s actually him in the flesh or performing mocap, he’s always a pleasure to see on screen, but now we get a role that’s not quite as bat-shit insane as he was in HARDCORE HENRY, like that’s going to be easy to top, but it comes pretty damn fucking close. He’s this crazy, buggy fucker who is obsessed with his suit, hitting on Justine, being shown respect, the slightest act that makes him upset, he lets the entire crowd know it and demands acknowledgement of wrong-doing and apologies. Beyond that, he doesn’t shut the fuck up. You’d think that would make him annoying, and in a lesser script with a less talented actor, that would be the case, but Vernon is hilarious all the way through.

Everyone else does pretty well too, though clearly the brunt of creatively stand-out characters were given to Copley and Hammer. About the closest thing to an almost-complaint I had was with Larson. Oh, she’s not bad or anything, but she’s almost written like the damsel-in-distress. Eh… kinda… this may take some explanation. Justine isn’t tied up to a chair and men are trying to save her. I don’t want it to sound like that. But there’s two too many characters that treat Justine like a romantic interest or conquest. It works enough for Vernon because he’s kind of a pig, and Justine isn’t interested in him, but Chris definitely tries to pursue her romantically, which I think adds a dimension to these characters that serves nothing to the story and doesn’t go anywhere by the end of it, what with him asking her out. The only reason this isn’t quite a complaint for me is because Justine is occasionally a target for bullets and there are characters that make active efforts to killing her, and even more forgiving is that she gets a few nice shots in too, so Justine is never helpless. She’s just the one person who isn’t a ready-to-kill kind of person like everyone else is, but she’s not afraid to defend herself. It all balances out in my opinion.

Are there any problems that I have with this movie? Um… I guess it ends pretty abruptly and there’s a character that sort of shows up just to die, but you can make arguments that the ending does have some ambiguity that could be fun to speculate over and the aforementioned character did lead for a brutally fun fight scene, but other than that, these don’t hold the movie back from being about as fun as a movie like this could be. I really want to see this movie again, so you bet your sweet bippy that I recommend this movie hardcore.

My honest rating for FREE FIRE: 5/5

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