ATOMIC BLONDE review

Aww yeah, son. It’s finally here. All that hype is about to be tested. I love a good action film, and I love a good spy film. Combine the two with a kick-ass female to helm the project, and you’ve got me saying, “Shut up, and take my money!”

The story looks like your typical betrayal-revenge thriller, but the action does look pretty awesome… eh, for the most part. I don’t know, some of the action looks a little too… choreographed. Like once someone throws a punch, it’s like there’s an obvious pause between moves so the actors and stuntmen can get into position for the next attack. The kitchen scene feels particularly heavy in this as well as that hyped up stairway scene, albeit on a smaller scale. But who knows, maybe the finished product is much more streamlined.

Let’s take a look at this on screen talent. Starring, we have the incredible Charlize Theron (THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS [2017], KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS [2016], and HANCOCK [2008]) and James McAvoy (SPLIT [2017], X-MEN: APOCALYPSE [2016], WANTED [2008], and upcoming films X-MEN: DARK PHOENIX [2018] and M. Night Shyamalan’s Split/Unbreakable crossover, GLASS [2019]). In support, we have John Goodman (VALERIAN [2017], PATRIOTS DAY [2016], RED STATE [2011], and the upcoming TV revival ROSANNE [2018]), Sofia Boutella (THE MUMMY [2017], STAR TREK BEYOND [2016], KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE [2015], and the upcoming TV film FAHRENHEIT 451, due out… who knows when), Toby Jones (MORGAN [2016], CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER [2011], THE MIST [2007], and upcoming horror film THE SNOWMAN [2017] and JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM [2018]), Til Schweiger (INGLORIOUS BASTERDS [2009], FAR CRY [2008], and LARA CROFT TOMB RAIDER: THE CRADLE OF LIFE [2003]), and in a bit role, Daniel Bernhardt (LOGAN [2017], THE MATRIX RELOADED [2003], and TV show MORTAL KOMBAT: CONQUEST [1998]).

Now for the talent behind the scenes. Directing, we have David Leitch, a former stuntman who has been a part of countless action films. His career stretches from HITMAN: AGENT 47 (2015), all the way back to Marvel’s BLADE (1998). He’ll be directing the upcoming DEADPOOL 2 (2018). Penning the screenplay is Kurt Johnstad, known for 300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE (2014), ACT OF VALOR (2012), and 300 (2006). And… wait a tick, this movie is based on a graphic novel? Hmm… news to me. Apparently, it was a series titled “The Coldest City.” Anywho, the composer for the score is action film veteran Tyler Bates, known for GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2 (2017), JOHN WICK (2014), SUPER (2010), and Marvel’s upcoming Netflix show THE PUNISHER [2017]. Last, but not least, the cinematographer is Jonathan Sela, known for TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT (2017), LAW ABIDING CITIZEN (2009), THE MIDNIGHT MEAT TRAIN (2008), and the upcoming DEADPOOL 2.

Overall, yeah, this could be pretty bad-ass, so I’m stoked for this.

This is my honest opinion of: ATOMIC BLONDE

(SUMMARY)

Set during the Cold War in 1989. Lorraine (Charlize Theron) is a British spy and being called in by her superiors for a mission debriefing, detailing her assignment of tracking down a missing list that contains the names of every operative working for British intelligence.

(REVIEW)

Apologies for the delay in this review’s release. I did actually see it last week, and I had to see this again. Not because it was that good, but because I had a miserable experience watching this the first time. So before I go into the review, I’m going to start with an enraged rant about being on your fucking cell phone in the movies. So if you want to skip that and go right to the review, CTRL-F and type “HPOR”. So here we go.

So I’m watching the movie and during an important exposition scene, this woman behind me starts talking on her phone. Allow me to really describe what I mean by this. Her phone is on SPEAKER, high volume so everyone can hear, and you’d swear to God that this bitch was in the middle of an important business meeting because she’s not even making an attempt to whisper. She’s talking like normal. My favorite part of the entire conversation she’s having with who the fuck cares, at one point, she apologizes. Not to the audience who is being horrendously inconvenienced, mind you, but to the person she’s talking to, as if all the people screaming at her to get off her phone are interrupting their important conversation. It took me a good five, maybe even ten minutes to finally get up and track down an employee at the AMC that I frequent and told them exactly where to find her. By the time I got back in the auditorium, everyone was in an uproar at this bitch, WHO IS STILL ON HER PHONE!!! You know what it finally took for her to hang up? Some dude got up from his seat and got right in her fucking face. Of fucking course, in that specific moment, that’s when the employee comes in, just narrowly missing out on the mayhem.

The experience, for all intents and purposes, was fine afterward, but the sheer amount of inconsideration from this incident is beyond baffling. Fine, a phone goes off, it happens. Like me, I don’t have many people who call me and talk to me, so there’s almost no reason to care about, “Alright, one last thing. Using your phone is distracting. Don’t ruin the movie!” Oversights happen and most people are generally understanding of that. But these people (she was with a companion) literally paid twenty-plus dollars just to watch half the flick and spend ten minutes of the remainder of their time there on a conference call. People, I don’t pay money to see these movies to hear your phone chats. I don’t pay money to see your cell phone screens light up. And to go so far as to talk, whispering or full blown outdoor voices? Are you fucking kidding me? How did FIREFLY’s Shepherd Book put it?

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And to everyone else who is as pissed off with this shit as I am… don’t be like me, waiting ten minutes for them to stop without telling the theater staff. I know, maybe you don’t like confrontation, or don’t like missing any part of the movie, but… if you don’t take some sort of action, they won’t stop talking. You’re going to miss out on the movie one way or another. Don’t miss out on more than you, or the rest of the audience that has a set of fucking manners, need to.

(HPOR) Now for the review.

I’ve probably said this before, but spy films can be a hit or miss for me if they’re not comedies. This is because the ones that you’re supposed to take seriously, James Bond, Jason Bourne, they have a tendency to have complicated plots that my brain isn’t calibrated to follow. I eventually tune out the politics, ramifications, and junk in lieu of waiting for the action scenes or attempting to connect with the character relationships, which is always the crux of why I end up liking them. A few one-liners never hurt either. So how does this movie rank among them? It’s good. Not great. I don’t argue the “Kick-ass action,” or “…totally badass,” comments. Hell, I don’t even argue the whole, “We now have our female 007!” comments either. But… yeah, I don’t love this movie.

The smaller issue that I have with this movie is just how drenched in neon colors this movie was. This is personal, obviously, but the very aesthetic of this film is a struggle. If it’s not bright neon colors, it’s pale white and blue. I know, I know, snow and shit, and I don’t know if I could properly explain why it bugs me. But couple that with the 80’s techno music, or whatever it was, it sort of made my eyelids heavy. It succeeds in making itself distinguished among other action-spy films, but it does it in a way that didn’t agree with me. It’s that same sensation that I get when I play a first-person shooter video game; I just get a headache after awhile, which ruins the experience some. Like I said, the majority of viewers likely weren’t bothered by this, but I was.

Another smaller complaint was the lesbian scene. Now before you feminists get your pitchforks and torches, hear me out. Setting my man-brain aside who absolutely adores two attractive women having sex, pure titillation is something I reserve for porn. That’s what it’s for. However, gratuitous sex and nudity in a movie is exploitative and, frankly, annoying. It’s there just for marketing and to get asses in seats. Now, if the story is about sex and relationships, trying to do it in an artistic way, that’s perfectly acceptable. In coming-of-age films, the exploration of sexual awakening, a character who doesn’t believe in monogamy learns to fall in love, that sort of thing, then of course, the sex and nudity is more warranted and understandable. But that’s for those movies. Action films don’t always put that kind of effort into the romantic relationships. The exceptions for me are the Bourne films and the occasional Bond film. I do not believe this film does the relationship between Lorraine and Delphine justice. While both Theron and Boutella are outstanding actresses to be sure, Lorraine and Delphine barely share any screen time together before they bang and I don’t believe the sex was truly organic to the story. It’s certainly a lighter exploitation, mostly because there are good scenes between them later, which I’ll get to, and it’s not over graphic with either the nudity or the physicality, but I feel like for the relationship to carry more weight, more time should have been dedicated to them. Unfortunately, that could have also derailed the film and not kept the story in focus if not done well, but it could have been done. The two ladies could have ran around Berlin solving pieces of the puzzle together, fighting together, it could have worked.

A bigger issue that I also had was, as predicted, some of the fight scenes felt a little too choreographed. Like I said above, the action looks like… punch! Pause. Punch again! Pause, wait for stunt actor to get into place. Punch! Okay, it’s not as bad as I’m making it out, but I feel like I could literally see the actors trying to get back to their marks and waiting for their cue. It more prominent in the kitchen during the apartment fight, and pretty brief in the balcony scene toward the climax, but it’s still there and pretty distracting. Again, this may be something most won’t notice, care about, or agree with me on, but it did feel a touch distracting to me.

The biggest issue I had with the film was how complicated the story was that I could barely follow it. Okay, so a list of all the MI6 agents is now in the hands of the bad guys. We learn that the latest agent killed was a lover or boyfriend of Lorraine’s. We also learn that there’s a traitor within MI6, code named Satchel, whom Lorraine is tasked with finding as well because it’s this person who’s leaked the list to their enemies. I know that these plot point intersect and how they’re related to each other, but… why was Lorraine in that apartment? She says she was looking for clues to Satchel’s identity, but… what was she looking for specifically? We’re not filled in on her plans or strategies, so it just looks like that scene was there to showcase another action sequence. I guess she finds that picture with Percival (James McAvoy) and her dead lover, revealing them to be friends. But that information is never brought up after he admits to it and doesn’t play a further role in anything, so what’s the point? Beyond that, characters seem to take themselves from one location to the other when it feels like it should be as simple as finding the missing Spyglass (Eddie Marsan), who committed the entire list of operatives to memory. It never truly feels like anyone is on point with their objectives. And if I can’t follow the actions and motivations of the characters… it can easily bore me. So yes, outside of the action scenes, the movie is pretty boring and not overly interesting. The pieces are there, but they don’t fit very well.

But before anyone starts thinking that I hate this film, I don’t. So let’s dive into the good aspects.

First and foremost, yes, the action is great. I’ve already mentioned how I felt the action was a little too choreographed, but I do give it some credit that the action is visceral. Dude gets hit in the face with a pot or a freezer door, it really looks like it hurts. Someone gets shot in the stomach, but still attempts to fight, it looks like a real struggle. People getting punched, or thrown around onto wooden furniture or getting whacked with lamps and shit, stabbed in the neck with a cork-screw, the action is undeniably intense and gritty. Especially with all the cuts, bruises, and blood, you feel just as exhausted as the actors do. Hell, especially in the balcony scene, I know if it were me, all battered and beat up, I’d just be like, “You know what, just go. I’m done. Have a good Wednesday.” It’s pretty awesome.

The actors also churn out solid performances and work incredibly well off of each other. Lorraine and Percival are pretty funny and I enjoy their banter. I also liked the connection that Lorraine and Delphine shared. Despite the unnecessary sex, there is a really good scene with the two of them in bed together and they’re talking, Delphine comments that her eyes change when she tells the truth and the dialog goes something like:

LORRAINE
Thanks for the warning. Now I know to not do it again.

DELPHINE
Why?

LORRAINE
Because someday it’s going to get me killed.

That’s a really poignant line. It shows that someone can spot a weakness that could potentially be exploited and she now has to compensate for it in order to cover her ass. But more than that, it’s a detail that was told to her by someone that has always tried to be on her side, and wouldn’t exploit her weaknesses. So of course, I love Boutella’s performance as this semi-innocent and inexperienced field agent who is clearly way over her head. But I really liked Delphine as a character and the impact she had on Lorraine.

There’s also a deep level of appreciation for the details. I mean, in that reveal scene with Theron, Lorraine coming out of that ice cold bath tub, every inch of her body covered in bruises and cuts. It really gives you that sense of how bad-ass she is and you feel every bit of that bruising as she does. Except everyone in the audience is a pussy because y’all be squirming in your seats and she’s just all, “Smokin’ my cig, poppin’ my pills, fuck this job, I’m a bad-ass, mother fuckers.” Pretty sure I’d be on the ground crying like my mother if a swarm of spiders were just crawling over her. And boomeranging back to the stairwell scene, I’m pretty sure Theron started that scene without a scratch, but then the bruises and cuts were all over her by the end of it. I’m curious, were those bruises… real? I mean, according to the trivia on IMDb, she cracked two teeth during filming. She really was getting slammed into walls… albeit padded ones, but how far off the mark can I possibly be? Maybe they’re digitally inserted? Either way, it’s fantastic and it’s made to look like it’s all done in one take. I can probably safely assume it wasn’t, but it’s not quite quite easy to spot where the cuts may be.

Fun fact: That tunnel when Lorraine is in the car and beats dudes with her shoe? That’s the same tunnel used in CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR (2016) when Black Panther is chasing down Bucky Barnes. I part of me thought I’d recognized it, but I didn’t think much of it until I read that.

Overall, I can’t say that this is a bad movie. It’s very well done and well-executed, but I just don’t love it, or like it all that much. The visuals literally hurt my eyes and head, so it’s already hard to get enveloped by the film. Bits and pieces of the action don’t look right, and some of the character choices don’t always make sense to me, so I can’t climb on the band wagon that everyone has a ticket for. But there is a real passion behind the project that I can’t deny. To my understanding, this is a passion project of Theron’s and it really shows. It’s hard hitting, beautifully shot, fantastic acting, it’s no wonder why so many like it. I say if you like your action-spy flicks, or enjoy the cast, this is a good one to check out. It’s not a movie that I can personally see a third time, but I acknowledge it’s merits and I recommend it.

My honest rating for ATOMIC BLONDE: a strong 3/5

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JASON BOURNE review

Ohhhhh bitch yes, yes, yes, yes!!! *SQUEEEE*

Okay okay, putting my balls back between my legs. The Bourne franchise is probably one of my favorite spy movies of all time. Hell, I might even like them more than the Bond films. At least Bourne is consistently awesome and good despite only having three movies under its belt and one illegitimate one. Weird thing is, I’ve coined the phrase “The Bourne Effect” when it comes to these films: the act of seeing a movie, loving it, but then forgetting everything that happened in the movie a week later. I don’t know why this happens with these particular movies, but I still revisit them, so they’re obviously doing something right.

Quick reviews. IDENTITY. Loved it, turned me on to Matt Damon as an actor, as well as German actress Franka Potente (wish I’d seen more of her stuff). Bad-ass, mysterious, interesting, maybe not as flawless as I remember as a younger man, but watching it still gets me hungry for more… or, maybe I’m just saying that because I really am hungry as I’m writing this. Seriously, I haven’t eaten breakfast yet. And yes, this is important information that needs to be passed on to you readers regarding my opinion of this flick. My state of hunger is vital to my film-analysis.

SUPREMACY: Probably the least good of the Damon-Bourne films (we’ll get to LEGACY in a bit), but it still had a lot of memorable elements and officially brought on the mainstay director of the franchise, Paul Greengrass. SPOILERS if you haven’t seen it, but I’m officially writing these with the assumption that all of you won’t be seeing this latest installment without having seen the first three. Marie, Bourne’s romance interest in IDENTITY was killed off and Bourne seeks revenge against his enemies and Julia Stiles looked like she was really freaking out about having a gun pointed at her head… and I’m pretty sure this was her shortest role in the franchise. I guess she and Potente have that in common. Also: Karl Urban is a delicious hunk of antagonistic Russian bad-assery.

ULTIMATUM: Again, not quite as memorable as IDENTITY, but it has arguably some of the best action scenes in spy-film history. Plus, this really brought forth Joan Allen as a powerhouse actor and probably one of my favorite actresses in Hollywood.

LEGACY: The black sheep of the franchise. The moment the franchise decided to continue on without either Greengrass or Damon, and even nearly abandon its own genre as a spy movie and became sci-fi. I remember the movie tried to make Jeremy Renner’s character take pills to make him as good a fighter as Jason Bourne, but it just didn’t make for an interesting movie or an interesting character. I love me a good Renner performance, he’s a terrific and charismatic actor, but this is completely under the radar. Thank God for the Avengers and the latest Mission: Impossible films.

Both Damon and Greengrass return, which is a huge bonus for fans everywhere. To make matters even more interesting, it looks like Greengrass also co-wrote the script alongside Christopher Rouse, who’d written SUPREMACY and ULTIMATUM (what a testament to how failed LEGACY was that they couldn’t even get its writer back). The return of Stiles is also very welcomed and the inception of probably my favorite actress of last year, Alicia Vikander and her role in the story is only getting me more excited. Needless to say, this is the biggest movie for me of the week. Quite honestly, it’s the only movie I feel like is worth seeing. Been a huge fan of the franchise, so I have incredibly high expectations. Oh, and as of 7/27/2016, IMDb gave this movie a 9.0/10. The next day, it drastically dropped down to an 8.1/10. While I wasn’t expecting the movie to be that good, I’m still keeping my hopes way up high. Is this a welcomed return to the franchise, or was LEGACY the first red flag that this franchise should have ended? This is my honest opinion of JASON BOURNE.

(SUMMARY)

Jason Bourne (Matt Damon), formerly known as David Webb, gets called back into action. Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles) hacks top secret files and manages to uncover files that Jason’s father, Richard Webb (Gregg Henry), might have had a direct hand in Jason’s initiation into Treadstone, the now debunked training program that made Jason the top assassin he now refuses to be. But the CIA knows that the files were taken and Director Robert Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones) with the help of the ambitious and talented Cyber Ops Head Heather Lee (Alicia Vikander), try and track down Nicky before she can expose her findings to the public.

(REVIEW)

Bourne is back, baby! Oh, how I missed this character and all his glory.

So let’s get to it, it’s been nearly a decade since Damon was Bourne (there’s a funny joke here, I just can’t think of it), but he hasn’t missed a beat. He’s still kicking ass left and right and beating his enemies down like a boss. It’s still too much fun to watch. The action may not be as amazing as ULTIMATUM, but it’s definitely still a Bourne action-fest. Jones as Dewey, yes and yes. There may be an argument that Dewey himself is just another enemy of Jason’s. “We got a new thing goin’ for us. Oh no, Jason’s here, we have to kill him!” But, like the Star Trek film franchise, despite the recycled bad guys, the actors portraying them are always memorable for their own reasons, even if it’s simply because they were in the movie. Vikander? She’s probably the most interesting new character. She’s basically the nega-Nicky of the movie. Smart, tech-savvy, and ruthless. In fact, she manages to thwart both Nicky and Jason on separate occasions, so this lady is bad-ass. Love her addition and hope she comes back in a future installment if Greengrass and Damon decide to return.

Now, let’s talk about Stiles. Like Damon, she don’t miss a beat. Nicky’s still smart, no-nonsense, and… wait just a gosh-darn cotton-pickin’ minute there, movie! Nicky’s also an asskicker?! You’re meaning to tell me that this woman picked up firearm training and learned to beat a bitch down? Hey, if Damon’s tired of Bourne, can we have a Nicky Parsons spin-off instead? Because I’d be so down for that.

***SPOILERS***

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Of course, if they did do a spin-off, it’d obviously have to be a prequel to this film because MOTHER FUCKING, FUCKIN’ SHIT, PIECE OF ROTTING DICK CHEESE, SONS OF WHORES HAD TO MOTHER FUCKING KILL OFF NICKY!!!

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Greengrass… Rouse… why would you do this my poor Peruvian heart? I loved Nicky. She was the awesomest. But before anyone thinks that I hated this inclusion in the story… I did, but in the positive sort of way. Nicky’s death is a legit tragedy that certainly as fuck got me invested in Jason kicking the CIA’s collective asses. I wanted him to kill a bunch of mother fuckers and see justice done for Nicky. She’s been a mainstay in the franchise since the beginning and has always been a sympathetic or likable character. To see her become almost like a lady-Bourne was such an awesome concept, it really was heartbreaking to see her gunned down so mercilessly and cold-heartedly. After that, I really wanted to see Bourne fuck someone up and leave ’em screaming for their collective mommies. So it shares that similarity with SUPREMACY. It may not have been better than IDENTITY, but it made up for it by anteing up the emotional investment.

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***END SPOILERS***

Remorsefully, this may be the weakest of the franchise as the ultimate CIA plan is almost akin to the TERMINATOR: GENYSIS plan that Skynet had: make an app, take over the world. Well, sort of, this feels like a more likely version of that plan. This dude’s dream is creating a server that would make it impossible for the government to spy on everyone using it. Thing is, the government funded his project and that’s exactly what the government will do, despite knowing that himself and still selling it off like it’s the top private server on the market. A scumbag move, to be sure, but lets face it, it’s already a reality and most of us are aware of it. Not exactly a shock or a twist.

Also, I do feel like there was a lot of emphasis on Bourne’s dad that didn’t go amount to much. We aren’t really given a good connection between the two characters. In fact, that’s another kind of weird thing; the many conflicts of the story didn’t really connect. Jason’s out looking for answers about his father, CIA wants Jason dead as well as to spy on everyone through social media, Jason’s not invested in the whole social media thing, so it’s pointless to have that in there.

Unfortunately, I have to dock a point for a pointless plotline, and maybe there’s a couple too many drawn out chase scenes, but it’s easy to see that if the franchise is to continue with Damon and Greengrass in the lead, then this is a welcomed first step back into the fold after such a long hiatus, and definitely makes up for the failure that was LEGACY. If a sequel gets made, I’ll be first in line for sure. I’d love to see Vikander return, I’d love a revisit with Pamela Landy (Joan Allen) from SUPREMACY and ULTIMATUM, and it never hurts to just see Damon kick some major ass. Not flawless

My honest rating: 4/5

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Upcoming review:

  • TALLULAH (dramedy)
    • A homeless girl kidnaps a baby from a neglectful mother and seeks shelter with her boyfriend’s mother, passing the baby off as her own.
    • Stars: Ellen Page (FREEHELD, JUNO, and INCEPTION) and Allison Janney (MINIONS, JUNO, and TV show MOM)
    • Directed and Written by: Sian Heder (feature-length debut)
    • trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8WSz2s-Gemc

Possible upcoming reviews:

  • BAD MOMS
    • trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iKCw-kqo3cs
  •  EQUITY
    • trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xg2TSp5tJy4
  •  INDIGNATION
    • trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ELKsrUssyQE
  •  NERVE
    • trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AX1BTiHzq-I

THE INFILTRATOR review

I feel like this movie is getting a “highly anticipated” vibe. My guess is because of the obvious star power of Bryan Cranston, thanks to his star-making role on the TV show, BREAKING BAD. Personally, I’m on the skeptical side. Why? A few reasons. Reason one: the screenwriter for this movie is Ellen Sue Brown. Don’t know who she is? That’s because she has no other writing credit to her name. This is her feature length debut as a writer. Untested, and taking directly from a previously published work can really be a hit or miss with new writers, I imagine (I’m one to talk). Reason two, the bigger reason: the director of this flick is Brad Furman. Again, it’s not an accident if you haven’t heard his name as he’s only directed three movies prior: THE TAKE (never heard of it), THE LINCOLN LAWYER (saw it and liked it), and RUNNER RUNNER (heard of it, didn’t see it, and critics panned the crap out of it). Only one of these movies held any high marks and even that might depend on who you talk to. Reason three: the trailer made it seem like the story stole from an 80’s action movie set-up: grizzled veteran of an ass-kicking occupation who is ON HIS LAST MISSION! In short, I felt like this movie was going to be a big ole cliché. I don’t know, the movie didn’t look like it’d be bad, but I wasn’t going in with high expectations. But how did it hold up? Did it infiltrate my brain and blow me away, or did I see it coming a mile away? This is my honest opinion of THE INFILTRATOR.

(SUMMARY)

Based on the autobiographical book of the same name by Robert Mazur. Set during the 1980’s. Undercover U.S. Customs agent Robert Mazur (Bryan Cranston), along with his partner Emir Abreu (John Leguizamo), sneak their way into one of biggest drug cartels run by none other than the infamous Pablo Escobar. But in order to get to the head hancho himself, Robert has to get close to Escobar’s top lieutenants, including Roberto Alciano (Benjamin Bratt).

(REVIEW)

I couldn’t get into it. I’m not going to go so far as to say that it’s a bad movie, I don’t think it is, but it is pretty boring. Unless you’re familiar with the book or love this kind of exposition, then the length of the runtime will be felt.

In retrospect, it is pretty hard for me write a good review for this one, mostly because in order to write a good review (in my opinion, of course) it’s best to understand the story and know what the story is getting at. I have a general idea, but if I’m right, it means there’s a lot to this story that was left undeveloped.

One issue I had was the lack of stakes this movie had. Look, I was born in 1989. During the height of Escobar’s dominion over drugs and shit, I was most likely still getting used to being bipedal. By the time I’d have been old enough to understand anything that he’s done, the world seemed to have moved on to bigger and badder things. The point I’m trying to get at is I don’t know much about Escobar or really what he was involved in or responsible for. I was a sheltered kid, what do you want from me? So I feel like unless you were following the events of that time and did your homework on it, then you could get lost. This movie won’t really fill in the gaps for you. Despite how much exposition and talking is in the movie, they don’t really up the drama to let you know what happens if Escobar’s cartel smuggles in drugs. I get it, drugs are bad. I watched SCHOOL OF ROCK and it’s various amateur knock-offs in school like most kids, but that wasn’t enough to get me invested. What happens if the bad guys win? What does America lose if Robert fails? I didn’t get any real sense of danger. You could even heighten the stakes by telling me that Escobar wanted to take over the world and I would turn around and tell you that his plan is as complicated as a cartoon sketch from PINKY AND THE BRAIN.

Probably the biggest issues that I took was the plot points that don’t really go anywhere. Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, but it looked like one of the bigger themes of the story is an undercover agent having to get close to his target and genuinely feeling bad for them, sort of like a more dramatic POINT BREAK. Again, I understand that’s it’s all a facade in the name of justice, but this movie looked like it wanted to go a little deeper than that by portraying the undercover agent feeling bad about inevitably having to put these people that he actually kind of sees as friends behind bars. It’s touched upon and would have been home to some decent drama, but the audience isn’t really given any time to discover any reason to be invested in, say, Roberto. He likes to cook. He thinks that without his drugs and money, the U.S. economy would collapse, and he likes to smoke cigars. That’s… all that I learned and remembered about him. That’s not enough to develop a connection. This brings me also to the criminally underused Diane Kruger as fellow undercover rookie agent Kathy Ertz. Her character is almost specifically tailored to hammer in this theme. “I feel so bad to her [Roberto’s wife, Gloria].” Again, we know Gloria (Elena Anaya) is a mom and loves her family, but that’s a bit of a cliché, isn’t it? We know she supports her husband in his endeavors, so she’s actually just as bad as he is. There’s no real character development for anyone in this movie.

Yes, Cranston is solid in the flick. I buy his acting and him in this role. Leguizamo isn’t bad either. But convincing acting doesn’t make up for an incredibly boring movie that doesn’t make me feel for anyone the story revolves around. I’m never really at the edge of my seat, wondering where the story is going to go, and by the time the first hour rolled on by, I was ready for the movie to end. If you’re a fan of these incredibly complex stories and have no problems with following it, then you’ll probably enjoy it better than I did, or if you’re a Cranston fan, but… yeah, I didn’t enjoy it. Not bad, per se, but I don’t think I could ever watch this movie again.

My honest rating: a weak 3/5

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Upcoming reviews:

OUR KIND OF TRAITOR review

When I found out that this was based on a book, I immediately watched this trailer and thought, “Yeah, that sounds about right.” I feel like there aren’t many unique minds that capture such complex stories like these as novelists do compared to screenwriters. But either way, I was certainly intrigued. Ewan McGregor has been a great actor in my book, even since the days of the Star Wars prequels. Stellan Skarsgård is… hit or miss, depending on the material he’s given (THOR: THE DARK WORLD anyone?), but is generally a good actor. It looked like a well-crafted enough story with a ton of layers, but I was ready to see what this was all about. This is my honest opinion of OUR KIND OF TRAITOR.

(SUMMARY)

The story follows couple Perry (Ewan McGregor), who’s a university professor, and Gail (Naomie Harris), who’s a lawyer. They’ve been having a hard time connecting lately, mostly because of Gail’s work schedule and Perry having had an affair with a student of his. In an attempt to reconnect, they go on holiday to Morroco. While at a restaurant, they meet a kindly but eccentric gentleman named Dima (Stellan Skarsgård). Inviting the two of them to a party, he pulls Perry aside to a private place and reveals that he’s actually a money launderer for the mafia, claiming himself to be the best. Well, the new leader of his group, The Prince (Grigoriy Dobrygin), is threatening Dima and his wife and children. Desperate for protection, he intends to hand off vital information to Perry to pass on to the British government. But politics and clever enemies prevent things from happening easily and the deeper in to this mess that Perry and Gail go, the more perilous everything becomes.

(REVIEW)

DISCLAIMER: I have never read the original book.

No joke, I think I missed the first five to ten minutes of this movie, something I very rarely do, so this review might be a tad unfair because I feel like I missed so much context, but here we go just the same.

Meh.

Skarsgård is probably the standout of the movie, mostly because he’s given the most to work with, but even then his character feels really recycled. How many movies have there been throughout cinematic history about defectors selling out their partners or leaders for protection? He’s a ruthless, merciless killer and manipulator, but he’s a loving father and husband. I feel like there’s countless of these characters. I should go on record and say that he’s by no means a bad actor in the movie. Far from it. There’s just nothing that makes him a character that will stand the test of time, or even really in Skarsgård’s resume.

I suppose the only really great moments are when he’s interacting with his kids. Dima does seem like he has a great connection with his kids and some genuinely funny banter. About the only person in the family that serves no purpose was the wife. Pretty sure her only role in the movie was maintain her worry-face and have a three second scene of her crying. Seriously, what did she do in this movie? Did she even have a line?!

And speaking of underused actors, McGregor. Again, I love this man. I think he’s a great actor and has proven it time and again (REVENGE OF THE SITH, TRAINSPOTTING), but… am I the only one who feels like he’s constantly playing characters that get roped into situations by chance that he doesn’t want any real part of (MILES AHEAD, THE PHANTOM MENACE)? I feel like it’s getting repetitive. Not that it’s his fault or anything, a man’s gotta work, but… damn, Hollywood. Give this guy a juicier role! Once again, like Skarsgård, he’s not in any way giving a bad performance. Again, we’ve just seen this performance before, both from him, and a thousand times in other movies.

If you really want a broken heart, let’s talk about Harris. Dear fucking lord, this is a wonderful actress. She was the creepy crab goddess thing from the second and third PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN movies, she was the bad-ass black chick in 28 DAYS LATER, she was the comedy relief Moneypenny in the two latest 007 Bond films, SKYFALL and SPECTRE… fuck you, Hollywood for giving this amazing woman this dull role. Seriously, I think Gail was pointless. Take her out of the story, let her stay at home while Perry does all this dangerous shit, and the movie would progress just the same. Yeah, Dima keeps requesting Gail to accompany Perry on all their undercover “ops,” but… fuck, man, all she does is stare at Perry lovingly when he shows off his convictions and make googily eyes when he’s being a good man. Again, she doesn’t really do anything. This is a role you could give to anybody. Literally anybody and it would have worked just as well. A moment of silence for Harris’ wasted time (her paycheck better have been sweet, or… I’m gonna complain about that too, by gum!).

I’m not even sure if I can even really talk about what I really liked. The only thing that prevented me from nodding off from boredom was the star power and performances that these actors are giving their all in. Maybe a few clever bits here and there, maybe one or two awesome scenes, but it just doesn’t make up for the lack of originality or anything that’s particularly exciting.

And the sad thing is, this movie has potential. I’m sure you bookworms could talk my ear off about how nuanced and complex the novel is by comparison, and I would believe you (so shut up), but that didn’t translate into the film. This movie could really have crafted a really great story about the complexities of right and wrong, the subtle consequences of walking away, the inner turmoil of a man completely out of his league all in the name of doing what he believes is right, there was some serious drama that could have been played up, but wasn’t. At the end of the day, it’s a pretty forgetful film. Unless you’re a fan of the cast, you probably won’t get too much out of it. For me, everyone prevents it from being awful, but it’s lack of drive to be anything great or memorable make for a poor experience. Not the worst, but I could live without seeing it a second time.

My honest rating: a weak 3/5

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Upcoming review:

  • THE BFG

THE BROTHERS GRIMSBY review

Oh dear god was I not looking forward to this movie. Alright, so let’s get this out of the way, as I’ve had a little too many people curse me out and tell me I’m scum: I AM NOT A SACHA BARON COHEN FAN!!! I have only seen so much of BORAT, BRÜNO, and THE DICTATOR before having to switch away out of lack of funny. So no, I’ve never seen any of these movies all the way through. I’ve seen enough.

I will say, however, his supporting roles have been good. MADAGASCAR, for example. He was King Julien. Who doesn’t love King Julien? Or SWEENY TODD. He was great in these movies, and he’s not the star. That’s about the only capacity that I can tolerate him. If he’s the star, nope… just nope. Running away from that shit like a gamer told to play SUPERMAN 64. Not happening.

Except it did happen, and I have no excuse other than… I need an opinion for it when I go to work and guests ask me what I think of it. So this will be the first Cohen movie that I will have sat all the way through for. This is my honest opinion of THE BROTHERS GRIMSBY.

(SUMMARY)

The story follows Nobby (Sacha Baron Cohen), who is an Englishman from the small town of Grimsby. He has a wife, several children, and spends most of his days drinking beer with the townsfolk and watching soccer. Despite his poor status, he’s a happy camper… except he thinks about his baby brother Sebastian everyday. When he was a kid, Nobby and Sebastian’s parents died and they ended up separated. While Nobby grew up as he did, Sebastian on the other hand became MI6’s top agent. Well, an assignment of his takes Sebastian back to Grimsby: prevent an assassination of an important person. However, Nobby gets word that Sebastian will be at this important event and finds him… messing up Sebastian’s attempt to do his job, accidentally kills the person he was supposed to protect, and now MI6 thinks that Sebastian has gone rogue. Barely able to tolerate Nobby’s interference, the two embark on a journey of survival and the attempt to clear Sebastian’s name.

(REVIEW)

Dear JEM AND THE HOLOGRAMS… I am so sorry… I labeled you as my #1 worst movie of 2015. You were definitely a rotten movie, but… by comparison to the violation I suffered through, the unrelenting mind rape that I was forced to endure for an hour and twenty-three minutes… you might as well have been CITIZEN KANE. Yup, this is it folks. I am officially declaring THE BROTHERS GRIMSBY the absolute WORST movie I have personally ever seen.

I don’t even really want to talk about it because it’s so painful to think about, but no reviewer or critic worth their mettle would ever just spout “IT SUCKS!!!” without going into why. I don’t intend this to be a very long review, so I will just describe one scene and you can decide for yourself if this movie is for you or not and figure out my absolute loathing of this… piece of shit masquerading as a movie.

Nobby and Sebastian are on the run from assassins and find themselves in a savanna with a herd of elephants. With little time to think, Nobby tells Sebastian to trust him. The assassins arrive, but only see the elephants and decide to search for the brothers elsewhere. Turns out, the brothers were hiding in an elephant’s vagina. This is about as graphic as it sounds. (If you stop reading here, you’ve come far enough and are a valiant soldier.) In an attempt to see if the coast is clear, Nobby wiggles toward the exit and pokes his head out. He says the assassins are indeed gone, but as if on cue, the female elephant has caught the eye of a male elephant with an erect penis, making a beeline for it. Unable to leave in time, Nobby goes back to Sebastian and the male begins to fuck the female, its penis repeatedly striking Sebastian in the face. In order for this to end quicker, Nobby suggests that Sebastian stroke the elephant’s penis as Nobby works the testicles. The male elephant soon jizzes all over Sebastian. The male leaves the female and the brothers try to leave. However, another male elephant enters the picture and the same thing happens. Then it’s revealed elephants are standing in line to fuck this one female and one of the elephants ends up fucking Nobby’s ass, all the while drenched in elephant semen.

If you managed to read all of that, I salute you. While that may be the worst offending scene in the entire movie, don’t think for a minute that the rest of the humor is that much better. It’s chalk full of wide-angle lens shots of human testicles in another man’s mouth, being sucked, the thumbs up of giving children loaded guns and vaping… it’s a colossal contamination of the brain that I can’t believe I sat all the way through of. I have never walked out of a movie before. I didn’t do it here, but guys… I really wanted to. I really fucking wanted to. I didn’t spend money on this (thank God almighty), but I still wanted my money back. I wanted my hour and twenty-three minutes back. The day this movie leaves the cinema, I swear, I’m going to celebrate with cake and presents and declaring it a personal holiday.

My honest rating: 0/5

That’s right, a ZERO out of 5. I don’t give those out. That’s not on my 1 to 5 out of 5 scale. That’s how bad this fucking thing is.