This Gringo Was Not The Heffe



Dark-Comedies are an acquired taste, but once you develop it you have the ability to appreciate more satirical comedy.  David Oyelowo attempts to bring this genre to life this weekend in the movie Gringo, a film that has some bite I didn’t expect from a movie this early in the year.  But what zany adventures will unfold when a black man is stuck between the high stakes world of pharmaceutical development and the cartels?  Well that is what this film attempts to answer, and it is my job to give you the 411 on the latest movies to storm the screen.  Let’s go!




-David Oyelowo Acting

-Morale dilemma

-Funny at times



Gringo is a movie that likes to go over the top, with characters that are all about going to one extreme or the other. However David Oyelowo is the character that has a little more dynamic than the other.  Oyelowo is fun to watch, for me being the funniest character with his loud, rambunctious delivery of lines that are loaded with high-pitched panicking screams. Yet he is able to turn that energy around, and focus it to give a character that is worth looking into as he tries to navigate the hostile world he wound up in.  Like his character Harold, Oyelowo keeps things very relatable and invests his time to making a good adventure.

But what is an adventure without a little ethics debate to come into the light.  Gringo does this just right as the conversation of doing the right thing vs. the selfish thing constantly rears its ugly head in the cartel wastelands that this film takes place in. Harold’s journey not only tests his own morals, but inspires others to address their own life choices, from settling on abusive boyfriends to what one will do to get money to accomplish their personal goals.  It fits okay into the movie, but there are some hard hitting dialogue moments to help reassure that the best stuff doesn’t mean the best life.

As stated earlier, dark comedies are a little dryer than other, more modern comedies so you have to be ready for more delivery and timing to do the lifting.  Gringo has some legit comedic moments, really taking an awkward situation and turning it into a tear inducing riot of laughs.  These moments often have a nice, clever zing to them, that Oyelowo maximizes using his natural accent and mannerisms.

And all of these components are able to be placed in a decently paced run time that minimizes the slow and maximizes the thrills.




-Curse heavy dialogue

-Not as funny as I had hoped

-Much ruined by trailers

-A little chaotic at the end


You’ve read my reviews, but you know that lazy writing that relies of cursing doesn’t get my stamp of approval.  Gringo has extreme characters that don’t use the most advanced language, relying once more on F-bombs and sleazy pick up lines to do the talking.  While pertinent to the story, for once, and sometimes entertaining, Gringo utilized these tactics too much for my tastes.  Even the yelling of Oyelowo got old, with many of his pleas soon running dry like the desert he ran through.  As such, this movie didn’t really have the comedic punch I wanted, but more a thrill seeking, dark adventure with a little comedic buff thrown in.  Perhaps this is also due to the fact that a lot of the funny parts had been advertised to death in the trailers, resulting in the overplayed scene being boring by show time. And once the last scene started to end and all the stories came together, things sort of wrapped up in a chaotic package that wasn’t in time with the movie.  Not the worst mind you, but not what I quite expected from the trailers.





Gringo is okay, and designed for a select audience that wants the darker things in life to be ridiculed.  This film is a legitimate mixture of drama, crime, adventure and comedy, taking these aspects and twisting it into a semi-entertaining story with some moral obligations to address.  While I enjoyed Oyelowo and the well-timed zingers, I still can’t say this was the best, most unique comedy to hit the screen.  The extreme characters, mundane dialog, and chaotic organization (ruined by the trailers), didn’t deliver the expected feel I got from the advertising and as such left more to be desired.  So I recommend skipping this one and hitting something else in the month of March.


My scores are:


Action/Comedy/Crime:  7.0

Movie Overall: 6.0



When You Wish Upon A Gun

Death Wish


Bruce Willis a legend that will live on in the halls of action movies.  The stoic face, the rugged muscles, and the ability to wield every type of gun are just some of the qualities that make him stand amongst the heroes of the action world.  Tonight, a fellow friend attends the movies with me to help determine what his next film entitled Death Wish holds in store.  Does another rogue cop movie hold bar, or is Willis just spinning our wheels?  Robbie K and friend are here to provide some info.  Let’s get started!




Comedic Timing:  Shocker, you aren’t going to see this movie for comedy, but Death Wish has it anyway.  While not straight up laughing, slapstick or one-liners, Death Wish’s comedy comes more from the pokes at society this movie portrays.  Primarily aimed at the media blowing up articles into the latest entertainment, Death Wish is not afraid to call us out on turning everything into entertainment. In addition, Willis manages to drop some well-timed insults into the mix, often geared toward the unreliability of the law enforcement that plagues our world.  Such small nuances aren’t the wettest humor, but it works given the tone of this movie.


Moral Debates:  Another movie, another means to provide a medium to have ethical debates.  Like so many people these days, people take drastic action to make change happen, and Death Wish is just a series of clips that raise this question.  Gun vigilante may seem extreme, but sadly in this day and age it is not, and it makes one wonder how far you are willing to go to bring about the change.  Is it preachy?  Yes, but that underlying theme acts as the character development in this rather simple plot and works to add a little more meaning to the plot.

Edgy action:  If you’ve seen the trailers, you know the movie is meant to be another example of why Bruce Willis is the man with the exciting plan.  Death Wish fulfills that promise, giving you a movie that has drops flashy stunts and CGI for down and dirty shoot outs.  And while crime shootings are often one dimensional, monotone blowouts, Death Wish manages to add some different angles to the mix that are loaded with a dark tone to really bring out the suspense.  What adds even more thrills, is that Death Wish manages to avoid falling into invincible syndrome, giving some more realistic qualities to our hero so you can relate and potentially get hooked into the suspense. With all this edge, it refreshes the action genre that has gotten stale with their ridiculous antics.


Good pace:  A final nod, outside of a well reflected soundtrack, is the pace of the movie.  A little bit of time is needed at the beginning to get things revved up, but once the first gun blazes, things kick up into gear.  Death Wish is a film that is all about pacing, shedding little time on the irrelevant details so you get as much hunting as you could possibly want. It certainly does not feel slow!



Savage, Dark, Suffering:  My friend doesn’t mind this aspect, and truth is I can handle it too, but for others this movie has a little more graphic torturing than you might be thinking.  Those with weak constitutions, may need to avert their eyes a few times at the bloody fates our extras have in store.  If you can’t handle this blood and cringe worthy tactics, you need to think about watching the movie as it’s not all quick finishes and sunshine.  In fact, some may be depressed seeing the light fade out of the eyes of a few of the reaper’s victims.


Blunt ends:  Death Wish’s writing had plenty of storytelling elements and potential plots contained within, but many of these we felt were bluntly dropped into the mix.  The Ice Cream Man for instance held little difference outside of his scene on the trailers, though you thought he might have had a little more sway.  There are other examples of this, each one starting to build steam or provide a new dynamic for Willis’ character, but sadly they didn’t quite develop all these elements that could have been something more.


Action in the TrailersThis is one of those movies that if you have seen the trailer a lot, or have a good memory, you’re going to unfortunately see a lot of familiar scenes.  Most of the action scenes have been completely shown in the trailer, a testament to how long these scenes are. Therefore, watch the trailer enough time, and you’ve got a little in regards to surprises with the action scenes, and not much from the plot either.  A dilution of story, surprise, and suspense, the movie needed a little tweaking to help out break out of the shell.


Unrealistic:  Wow, an action movie that leaves the reality and goes to the realm of fiction, not the first time we’ve seen this happen.  However, given the more realistic tone of Death Wish, you would think they would work a little harder to keep this going.  First there are some plot holes my friend picked out, that came out of left field.  Yeah, they worked to transition the scenes, but some of these stretches were farfetched, unable to support the method behind Willis’ hunt. Then comes the lacking brains, skills, or ingenuity that the black-market population follow.  How in the world did guards not be posted every single hit target these supposedly elite thieves had?  How did Willis find these steps to contact the guys, or vice versa?  Small things for some, but for this reviewer that deviation was hard to stomach. Finally, Willis’ character somehow manages to avoid detection with just a hoodie.  Batman is able to mask via technology and a legitimate costume, but in this day of media/sharing/and the internet, how in did he avoid detection for so long.  If I knew I just had to put a sleeve over my head and look down to be invisible, I would have done this in undergrad.  Thus, the realistic action movie loses its realistic edge.





            Despite the limitations, Death Wish is the action movie to liven things up and bring those edges the series needs.  The realistic tone, with character development is the hard-hitting angle the genre needed, and the morale dilemma is a nice added bonus.  If you are looking for that grittier element, this movie is certainly the one for you, lacking restraints to unleash the violence full swing.  Yet, the movie still needs to watch its story writing making sure to avoid blunt, rushed ends and big stretches to have us believe.  Yet, if you suspend this tie to realism, you will certainly enjoy this thrilling ride.  Worth a trip to the theater?  I’d say yes in this case if you are a fan of the legend.


MY scores are:


Action/Crime/Drama:  8.0

Movie Overall:  7.0

Game On For This Night Of Fun

Game night


Comedies, another genre that crashes into theaters, like waves crashing on a beach.  Whit is often lost in the flood of comedy movies, but every so often, the minds are able to once again give us something fresher to laugh at.  Today’s flick involved the ever-popular game night, a tradition that works its way into the homes of all ages to help with establishing friendly rivalries, a local watering hole, and the chance to drink and compete.  Tonight I finish my reviews with Game Night starring Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams, which hopes to amp up the stakes of tradition for the chance at big wins and adventure.  Let’s get started on the review to determine if the house paid.




-Multiple comedy styles

-An intriguing mystery

-Decent Character Development

-Clever Adventure at times


Game Night is a comedy that works well in terms of the multiple styles of comedy packed into the small-time frame of the movie.  Slapstick, stupidity, one liners, over the top stunts, and overacted delivery are balanced together to keep things interesting and fun in the 100 minutes or so of content. And while much of this is dumb fun, there is an intriguing mystery to ground it all to a common point and keep things in line.  How far does the rabbit hole descend in terms of crime, you’ll have to see for yourself, but there are plenty of twists to keep you guessing.  Surprisingly, Game Night’s players have a little more background than the usual pawns of this genre, with each member dealing with some issue that plagues them.  Themes like responsibility, jealousy, and self-worth are all here, gradually expanded upon as the teams try to find the clues to rescuing their kidnapped colleague.  It’s a clever adventure and gets my two thumbs up in terms of a unique flair.




-Sometimes too stupid

-Tried to Hard

-More Game Night Antics needed


No surprise, this movie is jam packed with idiotic antics to tickle the funny bone.  At first these gags were good, some of the running jokes building momentum to deliver some well-timed punches.  Soon the audience and I started to give pity laughs at the jokes being entirely too stupid, dragging on to levels that made napping look like a better option.  Even worse, sometimes the characters tried too hard to be funny, Bateman in particular putting too much behind his delivery.  These moments are fairly obvious and start to overshadow the game night qualities I was hoping this movie had.  Given all the mysteries, and theme of game night, I had hoped for a little more antics that mirrored the games one usually plays at a game night, like an intense scrabble mystery, or a Jenga like obstacle course.  Instead, the movie resorted to the usual stunts and tactics, that while entertaining at times just lacked the originality they could have held.




When it comes to comedies, Game Night wins in terms of the variety of comedic ploys it unleashes in such a short time frame. With an intriguing mystery and some decent character development, you will get a decent adventure compared to most other ridiculous comedies that grace the theater. Still, Game Night suffers from overacted antics and stupidity that gets stale quickly, lacking that full-on game night cleverness you might have expected.  It is a start mind you, but there is plenty to work with should a second game night be picked up should it make enough money this weekend. As much fun as this movie is, I can suggest a trip to the theater for this one for a group night out, but otherwise hold out until the rental services get it.


My scores are:

Comedy/Crime/Mystery:  7.5

Movie Overall: 6.5

Den Of Deceit: Will This Movie Steal Your Attention

Den of thieves.jpg


Robbing banks, a past time for many characters in Hollywood and often the setting for a very engaging story line.  Early renditions of this movie often added a little comedy to the atmosphere at the preposterous lengths they have to go to score the big score. As tastes have matured though, the crime genre has strapped on a more violent, angst-filled, gun fest where the darker the tale, the more you wail.  Welcome to another Robbie’s movie review and tonight I set my sights on Den of Thieves, a movie with leading man Gerard Butler taking point to get you into the theater.  What’s in store for this semi-advertised movie?  Read on to find out.




Good Acting: You want angst filled cops and vengeful mercenaries, look no further, because this cast has you covered with their skills.  Gerard Butler still has the candid cop role down, utilizing his gruff and ire of Leonidas, without the abs or honor. It works so well as an entertaining character, one you might enjoy as you watch him unload his full might into the epic crime case at hand.  His supporting cast amplifies the rogue cop team aspect, saying little, but at least providing the looks. Pablo Schreiber has the villain role down pat as well, cut throat and to the point, but also strategic and in control of his emotions.  The culmination is a respectable villain, whose portrayal is so calculating you don’t know what Schreiber went through to capture it.  Finally, O’Shea Jackson Jr. gets props for his role as Donnie, another character that is complex and stuck between two worlds and having to adjust to two situations.  He pulls off the mannerisms and emphasis well crafting the third big character of the film.


The Character Chemistry:  While the acting brings each character to life, it’s the direction and writing that really makes these characters shine for me.  Donnie, Merriman, and Big Nick have that awkward triangle relationship going, trading love and friendship for a crazy game of manhunt and keeping secrets. Much like Catch Me If You Can, Den of Thieves is a darker twist to the crime chasing thriller, with a rivalry that calls for each character to up the ante to go for the score and obtain their goals.  Numerous audience members reacted to the tactics they threw out, often aimed at the other’s personal life to hit them hard.  How low will they go?  You don’t know, but it creates some suspense to keep you on the edge of your seat.


The Multiple Levels: A good crime movie is clever, tricky, and often convoluted to minimize the chances of the plan actually working.  Den of Thieves accomplishes this complexity quite well, with the title acting as a symbol for all the deceit contained in this movie. While certainly vengeful, the strategies of Big Mike and Merrimen are like a massive scale chess game, each move trying to draw their opponents out in an attempt to divert from the real goal at hand. And the identity of that underlying goal is constantly changing, each revelation peeling a layer back until the core is finally revealed at the end. Those fans of crime shows are going to enjoy this, because it is that plot only bigger.


Well Detailed:  This movie accomplishes the crime story telling quite well.  The characters are pretty well developed and they get points for expanding upon the generic roles we have seen in countless media.  However, what I really appreciated, was seeing the dots connected, no stone left unturned in explaining how the entire plan connected.  All the cronies, all the planning, every detail accounted for in this grand scheme.  I like a movie that tells a complete story, and Den Of Thieves accomplished this task.




Language: A minor dislike, the band of thieves and cops fall victim to expletive heavy dialogue once more.  Every ounce of frustration is represented in some curse word, often leaning towards the F-Bomb, but occasionally diverting to another term in the limited glossary.  Happily, most of it is relevant to the dialogue and not too overdone.


Big Nick’s Tangents: When Nick is engaged in the battle of wits, the story moves and things seem relevant.  While I applaud the attempt at expanding his character, Mike’s personal life does not fit well into the whole depth of the movie.  Outside of painting some personal problems he has, these issues don’t get too much in the way of his job.  So why did we dive into these issues?  Is it some personal growth they are trying to set up?  Is it a means to develop a plot device to be utilized later?  No, it seems like it was just some expansion on the run time and a way to chisel away from the rogue cop physique.  Had it been left out, probably would have resulted in about thirty minutes cut out, which would have been good.


More Action: The trailers paint this to be a high velocity crime chase and I had such high hopes for this to be the case.  It showed promise with the opening scene, the firefight that gets the tale started being intense, exciting, and even better… not one sided.  After the adrenaline rush ebbs, you see the suspense building, and at parts it seems things are going to come to full boil.  And then things fizzle out and you are left with more dialogue and drama until the final fifteen-minute bout at the end.  These moments are awesome, but Den Of Thieves could have really used a few more exciting features to keep things on the edge and speed things up. 




            Overall, Den Of Thieves is a more concentrated version of the cable crime shows that fill the mainstream line up.  This dark tale is ready to keep you on your toes, as the tennis match of skill, deceit, and vendetta filled antics makes for an interesting twist on these casual roles.  However, the biggest selling factor is the complexity of the film and tumbling down the rabbit hole.  The things that bring this movie down for me are the need for more action and some useless tangents that don’t add much to the story.  As such, this brings the movie down a peg in terms of excitement and added some unnecessary minutes to an already long movie.  Still, the convoluted tale is enough to be theater worthy and I recommend a visit on this one. 


My scores are:

Action/Crime/Drama:  8.0

Movie Overall: 7.0

Commute To The Theaters If You Want Mystery and Drama



Liam Neeson, a legend among the action/dram genre ever since Taken premiered years ago.  Despite his best attempts, Neeson cannot seem to escape his typical role, and you know what… fans don’t really seem to care.  Fortunately, there has been some time lapse since his last escapade, but this weekend he is back in yet another intense movie called The Commuter.  Looking to reprise his role once more, can this film triumph, or will it be just another copycat to be lost to the weekend.  Robbie K is back with another review and also always thank you for reading.  Let’s go!




Mystery:  A good mystery always suckers me into a movie and the Commuter has a hum dinger of one to solve.  Upon entering the train and meeting Vera Farmiga, Neeson’s character is dropped into the mystery with clues abound to choose from.  One will have to pay strong attention to the details and dialogue to figure out all the answers, especially with many curve balls thrown in to try and lead you astray.  That grand question of who done it, is the focal point of this entire movie, and the key factor to keeping you hooked in the movie.


The Suspense:  Of course a mystery can only go so far to keeping your interest.  The Commuter has your back again on this, by keeping suspense intertwined with the mystery. Primarily through the pace, the Commuter moves at a fast pace to get you to the answers, taking only a few pit stops along the way to introduce a new dynamic into the mix.  For once, I can’t say there were any major scenes not needed, and with this storytelling, the intensity only deepened.  Then come the actual threats and obstacles that further enrich the story, providing a little more depth to the usual plot that builds the intensity of the case, and keeping things relevant to the story.  Add the finishing touches of dynamic cinematography with major sound editing and you’ve got yourself the successful recipe of another drama.


The Climax:  With all the epic build up promised in this movie, one only hopes the climax is able to meet the demands of the film.  Fortunately, this film did not fail to please me with the ending at hand.  Keeping with the energy of the film, the finale amped up the intensity with action, emotion, and a few twists to finally answer all the questions at hand.  While there was a little convenient moment, the ending manages to bring everything together and leave you feeling fulfilled with true closure and what we can hope leaves no grounds for a sequel.




The Opening:  While the Commuter gets to the suspense quickly, I can’t say I enjoyed the rushed opening the film started with.  A rushed montage that gave you brief glimpses into the life of Neeson’s character clearly spell his life out, perhaps going a little too detailed in all aspects of his life. Ironically this approach left me a little bored and cheated of meaningful relationships with his family, you know the motivation for solving the crime, leaving me feeling he was the only one invested in the relationship.  They even failed to show his family being kidnapped, and depriving of us the full emotional scale that we got with Taken.  I do appreciate trying to get to the goods as soon as possible, but one must make sure to give that character some depth before testing them.


Trailer Syndrome:  Sadly, The Commuter suffers from the trailers giving a majority of the story away.  While not all secrets are revealed, enough twists are shown in the brief 3 minute promotions to help you piece the movie together before it’s even started.  As if that weren’t bad enough, one also can see those obstacles coming a mile away, making the movie become a bit more predictable and less intense.  As it is the suspense and mystery that are key to getting the most out of this movie.  If you avoid the trailers or are able to drop it out of their minds, no worries, but if you remember these like I do…get ready to be very familiar with these scenes.


Semi-Rushed suspects:  In movies like clue, and the original murder on the orient express, one become quite engaged in the stories of the those under suspect.  However, The Commuter’s cast are only semi-expanded upon in this movie and often in misbalanced proportions.  Based on how often a character is used can certainly give you hints to their involvement, but these secondary characters are not well-integrated into the movie at times outside of some comedic relief.  Sure, you get enough of their story to piece their struggles, but there was much more to be had.




The Commuter is a movie that I quite enjoyed, and is a welcome opening to what will most likely be more Neeson led dramas in the future.  A strong mystery ties the action, suspense, and drama into a neat little package that builds up in intensity until the exciting climax emerges to wrap things up.  Sadly, there are some editing tactics and semi-rushed development choices that take away from the character Neeson plays.  Why they won’t expand on his character and give him more depth I can’t answer, but it would have been a plus if they had given him a little more to work with so he wouldn’t be just another Taken knock off.  Still, so long as you avoid the trailers, this movie is worth a trip to the local theater to entertain and tease your brain. 


My scores are:


Action/Crime/Drama:  7.5

Movie Overall:  6.5

No Justice In This Crime/Drama



The legendary Denzel Washington is associated with so many legendary roles that will forever live in the hearts of millions.  And like many people, when I see he a movie of his about to release, I get excited I’m in store for another masterpiece.  Enter Roman J. Israel Esq, a movie that from the trailers, held potential to be an interesting biography of a powerful legal, pro-action character that was certain to stir up trouble.  Will it be powerfully emotional to fill your eyes to the brim with tears, or something else?  Robbie K here to give you some insight into yet another movie this holiday season, let’s get started.




The Message: Never say that a Denzel movie doesn’t deliver a powerful punch in the emotional level.  Roman J. Israel Esq, is another visual tribute to the topic of truth, honor, and the moral obligations of justice.  The whole movie portrays the struggle of holding on to your beliefs vs. diving into the acceptable flow the public/society deems normal.  We all have breaking points that push us into new areas and test our fortitude, the question is where does one cross the line and how far do they leap over it.  Roman’s tale shows the challenge quite well and more so what can happen when pushes the boundaries too far.  It will get you thinking and perhaps question your own philosophies, assuming you can get past the other parts of this movie.


The Acting…kind of:  Denzel still has his acting skills down pat. He portrays the awkward character quite well, capturing the serious thoughts, the quirky mannerisms, and even the speech patterns necessary for portraying the mind within.  Even more impressive though, is how well he acts out the struggles of the high stakes choices that bear heavy on his mind.  At times, one can feel the weight of the decisions bearing down on them, the anxiety of making the wrong choice radiating out in the sequences.  His supporting cast helps open up more dilemmas to tax him, but can’t say they have the most involvement in the town.


The Music:  The soundtrack is not the most toe tapping number, but one can appreciate the soul behind the songs selected for this movie.  There selections were choice representations of the tone of the scene, sort of artistically symbolizing Rowan’s mood and his answer to the current obstacles that plague him.  It’s a dynamic track list that constantly changes between genres, and fits so well into much of the movie, while perhaps bringing back some nostalgia for other fans.




The weaker character moments:  Despite all the quarks Denzel got, his character isn’t the most engaging or magical of the roles he has played.  Past the morals he boasts, Roman just doesn’t have a lot to him.  He was a fairly flat character, with disinterest seeming to ooze from Denzel during much of the performance, almost like he had to really push himself to play the part.  I had a hard time caring about him, the potential the trailers building failing to live up as Roman continued to just shrug more and more of the qualities I looked for.  A redeeming moment at the end got the steam going, but by then it was too late and the movie was over. It also doesn’t help that the supporting character actors don’t seem too excited in their roles, and are just as mundane as some of Roman’s personality.  The characters just aren’t engaged in the tale, and many aren’t utilized to their full potential.


Boring:  The emotional trials are strong, the food for thought even more of a rewarding experience, but did the movie have to be so dull?  While I never expected this film to be an action packed, guns blazing tale, I certainly didn’t expect the movie to lack so much suspense.  The plot didn’t have enough edge, there wasn’t enough action or peaceful protest, and the absence of any real villain just led to a very lackluster tale.  I had to fight sleep a couple of times in this movie, though it could be due to the long work day, but a Denzel Movie is usually more charged than what I was presented.  Which brings me to my next dislike…


Ambiguous:  The movie’s biggest problem for me was how aimless the plot was.  The writers didn’t seem to figure out which way they wanted to take the film, is a piece about being an activist, is it a biography, is it a crime/drama?  I couldn’t quite figure out the myself, but they settled on a little bit of everything, but didn’t hit the high-quality components of the genres.  The film could have used more crime/mystery to add the suspense, perhaps with a theme surrounding the hot political issues they try to cover, all showing the skills of the whomever Roman represented.  I don’t fell many will enjoy the approach they took, and the ambiguous story telling that was just stale and sad than anything else.




            It held such potential, but Roman Israel Esq, just couldn’t find its ground in the grand scheme of things. Denzel tried to do the heavy lifting, and accomplishes the messages of balancing morals, but outside of that lacks any big sustenance to him.  In addition, the boring pace, weaker character interactions, and ambiguous plots, the movie just fails to provide the very justice it wanted to serve.  Sad to see the legendary actor have a weaker film, but this reviewer encourages you to skip this movie and focus on the treasures that have already come out for your theater viewing pleasure, all while hoping Denzel will have another Oscar worthy film in the future. 


My scores:


Crime/Drama:  6.0

Movie Overall: 5.0

All Aboard! Another Mediocre Adaptation Is Heading To Station



Mysteries, a genre that intrigues so many with complex tales, intertangled deception, and often drama to help build suspense before the big revelation.  While many people try to combine mystery with other genres, there are those who choose to focus on mystery alone.  One of these artists is Agatha Christie, a forefront writer who continues to tease our brains with crimes that dive into deeper levels.  And with great literature, comes great grounds for Hollywood to make movies from it.  This particular tale has gotten a remake this weekend, one with a star-studded cast to try to bring people into the movies in this modern telling.  What’s in store?  Please read on to find out as we review Murder On The Orient Express.




Setting:  Start off with a simple like, this film is a shining example of green screen visuals blending with real world shots.  The snowy wilderness of the mountains is a dazzling spectacle of symbolism that mirrors the foreboding crime that hangs over the Orient Express.  It’s a breathtaking display of technology that keeps the darker spirit of the movie alive, and may leave you chilled at the menacing nature hanging in the air.  But the highlight is the train and the recreation of those elegant cars and cabins the locomotive industry was famous for.  This recreation takes you back in time and immerses you in the classical setting, while also designing a death trap to which our players partake in.


The Mystery:  For a movie that focuses on the classic question of who done it, Murder on The Orient Express did a nice job keeping the mystery going.  The screen adaptation drops enough hints to throw one off the path, all while keeping you engaged in deciphering the identity of the culprit.  As our detective interviews all the characters, you will start getting an idea of how complex the whole case is, further shrouding the scene in a veil that tries to keep you from the answer.  It works, keeping suspense going and the film moving, which isn’t easy in mysteries these days.


Kenneth Branagh: Acting wise all the cast do their jobs very well, some better than others in terms of screen time, elegance, and of course capturing their accents down correctly.  Yet of all the group… it was Kenneth Branagh who I enjoyed watching the most.  True, he is the main character and thus gets the most screen time, but his acting was very enjoyable to watch for nearly 2 hours.  His French accent is not the best at times, but he gets the OCD detective role down pat, catching the nervous energy and single minded focus that comes with the disorder.  His explanations of the crime are delivered in such a serious tone, confidence filling the voice as he presents his logic and convinces you of all the facts. Finally, his comedic delivery is also very well done, not too forced and well-integrated into the conversations, Branagh carries a lot of the movie on his sharply dressed shoulders.




Slow: We know mysteries have to go slow to build things up, but Orient’s wheels really slog at times. Primarily when it comes to linking a few backstories together, the movie sort of derails into from the path at hand.  Losing this momentum takes away from the suspense, and sort of gets a yawn if you don’t pay close attention to the dialogue.  And even when they resume chasing the mystery once more… they drag things out in a grandiose display that does hold emotion, but steps far over the line for this reviewer.


Unbalanced Characters:  A star studded cast again calls for time management and using your resources well.  Orient took a nice shot, but they failed to really give the characters equal time on the screen.  I don’t know how the book is written, but it was obvious the casting favored certain actors over others.  Certain characters really get the shaft in this installment, brought out of the shadows for mere seconds and a few answers, before dropping off the screen.  This happened with at least four characters for me, brief introductions that were certainly important, but almost confusing at some points.  Certainly, Christie did better in displaying her suspects in the book, but they didn’t do it as well as I think they could.


Rushed development:  It’s a plus to have a mystery that moves, it is not so much a plus when your key development areas move like a blur.  Murder on the Orient Express involves one having to listen to the dialogue extensively to piece things together, primarily in the alibis of the characters.  For me, there were a lot of rapid dialogue exchanges that hastily were spilled out in an attempt to give our characters some background.  This background information is incredibly important, so perhaps they should have shifted to a lower gear to clarify this information and establish that depth they were going for.  Such a shame to have all these details smeared in a half-sloppy manner when there was such potential to be had.




Compared to the book and the older rendition of this movie, Murder on The Orient Express 2017 is not the shiniest noire in the box. Great visuals, a luring mystery, a phenomenal main character will carry the audience far in this film and provide the main source of entertainment in the film.  The main problem is that the team didn’t deliver on the potential that this story/cast had.  It was unnecessarily slow at points, characters were lacking in a very character centric plot, and it was rushed in areas that was the sustenance.  Therefore, the movie overall is mediocre, and better left for a free pass/RedBox in this reviewer’s opinion.


My scores are:


Crime/Drama/Mystery:  7.0-7.5

Movie Overall:  6.0