A Cruise Of Crime is Made Okay

American

 

 

American politics is a theater that continues to garner more attention than even the biggest award shows.  The players in their games can be just as interesting, especially in how far they go to accomplish their tasks.  My second review of the weekend focuses on one such person named Barry Seal, a famous American pilot who was a cog in so many aspects. What does this movie have in store for us?  Robbie K here to fill in on the latest biography and give you insight into another silver screen story.  Let’s go

 

LIKES:

 

The Setting: Technology’s progression allows us to do many things, and one is recreating the past. American Made is a shining example of Hollywood’s ability to recreate the trends of the decades, from what towns/cities looked like to the fashion and cars that filled them.  You’ll be pulled back in time with this film, and become integrated in the world and fully diving into the world crafted by Seal’s actions. In addition, it’s also fun to see old news’ broadcasts integrated into the mix, further amping up the story.   And for all you nostalgia lovers out there, feel free to have fun remembering the adventures you back then.

 

Cruise’s Acting:  Say what you want about Tom Cruise’s personal life, but the man can certainly play his roles well.  Cruise comes in spades with this film, capturing arrogance, coyness, and that adventurous spirit all in one sitting.  His skills will bring out the emotions of the time period, the fear of being that pivotal chess piece that so many depend on.  Cruise’s chemistry with all his co-actors is favorable, resulting in a performance that feels natural. In addition, his dynamic abilities to transition between sub roles, further brings the character to life, an essential for a key role.

 

Thorough Tale:  Biographies are only as fascinating as the story presented, which often requires details.  Our directors/screenwriters have got you covered in this movie, sparing no time cost to hit all the deals that Seal was involved in.  Their presentation keeps guides you well in this movie, using captioned slide transitions and Cruise’s comedic dialogue to set the time and place of the next adventure.  It’s an easy tale to keep up with and hits so many qualities of Seal’s life in tandem to his antics (including family, friends, and even sanity).  I felt that of all the books brought to life, this was one that hit the closest to home.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Magic vs Reality:  The challenge with these films is determining what is real and what is overdramatized.  There are plenty of moments where that question comes up, as the cast of characters appears with grandiose gestures and presentations to corrupt the system. As the story progresses, the whole conspiracy gets even larger and the drama amps up to levels that are hard to believe.  The over dramatization gets a little cheesy at times, and made me roll my eyes at the extremes the legal system went to and how untrustworthy they were. Fans of this style though, will easily be hooked into the escapades of the movie.

 

Skimped on other factors:  While American Made touches on many aspects of the film, there was an imbalance in how much they would focus on those other aspects.  The family aspect was so heavily influenced at the beginning, but then gets diluted down to background noise and occasional shots.  Same thing goes for a few business partners he contracts as well, a rather focused opening, but then runs out of gas. While I give them props for keeping things concise, the disjunction between these aspects is a little disappointing to me, especially how one would affect the other.  In addition, these rushed elements took the suspense away from me.

 

The wasted sequences:  The most annoying thing for me though, were the tangential flashes that occur in this movie.  Seal’s memories are fascinating to see, but there are a few of them that were pointless to have sequences for.  An example is him randomly saying he had kids, only to flash to a scene of her in labor for a brief comedic relief.  While a noble attempt, it was nothing a well-placed line could have done as well. There are other examples as well that all could have been left out, thereby further reducing the run length.

 

 

The VERDICT:

 

            American Made is a great biography that has some flare other biographies have lacked for me.  Cruise leads the way in terms of strengths for this movie, but the world and tale itself are an entertaining venue to watch.  Yet, there are plenty of overdramatic moments and wasted shots that have made this a glorified Netflix/History Channel worthy production.  If you are looking for a good biography though, scope this one out, otherwise wait for next week’s releases before going to the theater. 

 

My scores;

 

Action/Biography/Comedy:  8.0

Movie Overall:  7.0

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Take A Drive With Baby Driver

Baby Driver

 

Baby Driver!  When I saw this trailer months ago I had no idea what to think about it just from the title alone.  Yet seeing a star studded cast that included Jon Hamm, Lily James, Kevin Spacey and Jamie Foxx, I had hopes for a good movie.  So, with it rushing into a midweek premiere I managed to finally check it out this weekend.  What’s the verdict on the action/crime movie to hit the screen.  Robbie K here always appreciating your views on his blog.  Let’s get started!

 

LIKES:

 

The Acting:  I don’t say this too much, but this cast was aces across the board. Let’s start with the lead Ansel Elgort who plays Baby.  At first I was only impressed with his ability to be the awkward silent type, but as the movie progresses Elgort is able to bring a little more to the screen to round out Baby.  His range broadens as more characters are introduced into the film and he has to balance between the two worlds that he lives in.  As kind of his looming shadow, the master villain Kevin Spacey continues to play that cool, calculating, manipulative role that he made famous in House of Cards.  Not too much to be annoying, but not too little to be cheated Spacey really brings depth to a cliché role and keeps things heated up.  As for Foxx, well his acting continues to improve me in spectrum he can cover.  Taking more of the jaded thug approach, Foxx adds the comedic heat to the film with the darker theme taking hold.  I could spend the whole review on the chemistry of everyone, but Baby Driver’s cast is stellar.

 

The Action:  For a crime thriller toting about the stunts and guns, the movie certainly delivers.  Baby Driver shifts the gear into R for reality and manages to deliver sequences that are exciting chases through obstacle laden courses with all the bells and whistles.  Unlike the Fast and The Furious, this movie keeps things on a believable level, requiring actual stunt driving instead of high tech gadgets.  Even the gunplay is exciting, finally adopting the crime motif we had in the mafia movie days instead of the explosion loaded productions famous of modern cinema.  The action is well directed, and used as a supporting tool to keep the film exciting and fast paced without being the only aspect of the movie.

 

The Story:  Most crime stories bore me these days because they get too caught up in either sex or malicious violence.  While Baby Driver is certainly darker in its own accord, it has a story that doesn’t dance in one area.  A combination of love, action, and crime drama, the storyboard writers get props from me for crafting a decently balanced story.  Baby’s character is complicated (though the trailers might mislead you), and they managed to gradually peel this character apart and help him transform into someone completely new.  To do this all while bringing forth a story that doesn’t put me to sleep but keep me on edge is certainly worthy of two thumbs up.

 

The Music:  The theme of Baby Driver is music (he is always wearing headphones if you haven’t seen the trailers), and that means you need a strong soundtrack.  Mission successful on this part too.  While I’m not quite familiar with some of these classics (yes boo me), they music directors selected a fantastic spread to entertain us with.  Across many genres and decades, your ears will be swallowed by a deluge of classics, each fitting with the tone of the movie and providing great sound support to the impressive visuals.  And if you don’t know these tunes, well the internet is still a wonderful thing when used appropriately.

DISLIKES:

 

No unifying crime plot:  In many crime movies, there is a big score, a key target, or some unifying goal.  Baby Driver though doesn’t have that big, impending doom I often like to see, choosing instead to focus more on Baby himself.  While certainly a small dislike, I felt the unifying theme or grand plan could have provided a little more oomph to the story and a way to integrate Spacey’s character even more.

 

Romance Aspect:  I’m not saying this is bad, and again I’m grasping at most straws, but Baby Driver’s romance component needs a little work.  Lily James and Elgort have some decent chemistry and work well together in the scenes where they are paired.  However, I feel that this component was a little glazed over up until the climax where the crap starts to hit the fan.  Expanding this role again would have tied some things together and integrated the cast a little better to complete the story.

 

Part of the Ending:  This dislike is again complicated, but I’ll do my best to explain.  Baby Driver’s ending is certainly unique and took many directions I liked in the form of being non-cliché, artistic, and exciting on many levels.  Yet about fifteen minutes of the ending was dragged out entirely too long and started hitting that ridiculous level Hollywood often hits.  The vicious parts were a little overdramatic and the predictable twists just led to more run time that wasn’t really needed. Still it wrapped up nicely and had a self-gratifying finish, it just didn’t need to be that complicated.  

 

The Verdict:

 

I agree with many that Baby Driver is one awesome film.  Despite the weird title (which yes is a song title), it works on many levels primarily in regards to a suspenseful action tale with strong story elements.  Baby Driver is an example of what movies can be if done right and I for one recommend hitting this movie in theaters. Of note, use caution when taking younger audience members due to the violence please.

 

My scores:

 

Action/Crime/Music:  9.0

Movie Overall: 8.0

Fate Smiles On Eight!

Fate of the furious

 

A couple of years ago, we had what we thought was the final chapter of the Fast and Furious legacy, ending with the montage of the fallen hero Paul Walker.  Sadly, it seems that the cinema world can’t let it go, and thus comes the subject of my latest review Fate of The Furious (or Fast 8 for short). After the fake, ridiculous of number 7 (minus the ending), I can’t say I was happy from the trailers for this film and how it looked even cheesier.  What is my verdict?  Read on to find out my friends.

 

LIKES:

  • Action more controlled
  • Comedy stays strong
  • Soundtrack
  • Story Is Much Better

 

Summary:  If you remember Furious 7, you remember how over the top the stunts were and the sheer ridiculous factor they had (e.g. superhuman feats, near invincibility, invulnerable cars). Fortunately, Fast 8 toned the action back to the baseline ridiculous of this action franchise, keeping things reeled in to a point of somewhat believability.  While this may tone down the action somewhat, this installment still packs plenty of punch with diverse sequences including: drag racing, gun play, martial arts, and of course car combat.  It’s suspenseful, it’s fun, and at times it is really funny, providing that popcorn flick entertainment value you like.  In addition, the stellar soundtrack contains both musical scores and music that fit well with the movie, (I myself enjoyed a few original R&B/rap songs near the end of the film).

Speaking of funny, Fast 8 doesn’t hold back on the comedic antics that the second film brought. Dwayne Johnson interjects his brand of corny insults and tough talk, establishing a banter rivalry with Jason Statham, who not only has a few clever quips, but finally redeems his pitiful character in this film.  Yet the main source of laughs comes from Tyrese Gibson and Ludacris. This comedic duo performs plenty of stunts, deliver plenty of well-written insults, and put their foots in their mouths so many times to keep you chuckling through the entire film. All of the laughs keep things light and relieve the tension to help ground the film into a PG-13 environment.

            Hands down though, is the improvement over the story.  Fast 8 reaches back into its roots for our plot, bringing back the character development and crime element of the film that started it all.  Dom’s tale of deceit throws plenty of nostalgic shade at our leading hero, including some unexpected twists that help tie together SOME of the loose ends. Fans will find plenty of emotion in this film, and hopefully will enjoy the action built around the plot (instead of the other way around). In addition, the fact that Statham’s character is released in this film (making the plot of seven almost useless) was a good thing for all the redemption they brought with his character.  I give the group applause for the improved story element, despite how bad it looked in the trailers (guess you can’t judge a movie by its trailer…sometimes).

 

DISLIKES:

  • Still ridiculous at times
  • Some Cameos not worth it
  • Editing Still needs some work
  • There is going to be a number 9

Summary: Let’s face it, this installment is famous for how ridiculous Hollywood special effects teams want to push the limits of cars.  Fast 8 does not escape this curse, for it is still filled with absolutely hilarious (though somewhat impressive) stunts.  I don’t wish to reveal too much, but let’s just say the submarine racing them isn’t the most ludicrous thing you’ll see, nor the biggest stretch (bad guys can’t seem to aim) of the imagination. Still it is an improvement over 7.

As I said earlier, Fast 8 has some twists you might not see coming, which leads to some unexpected cameos (unless you look at the cast list cheaters!). Some these moments are impressively, or spot on timed to maximize their appearance.  Yet there are others that were wasted and could have greatly been expanded upon to further amplify their involvement. I can’t say much, but I will admit that almost all the guest appearances held pertinence to the story, they just needed more time.

Yet the biggest flaw is still the editing of the films. Fast 8 may have lots of excitement to keep the movie going, but there are plenty of moments that could have been left for the directors’ cut.  A random cousin at the beginning for an almost pointless race, an overdramatic taunt that gets lost in the scheme of the movie, and even a few punch fests just weren’t needed.  In addition, some of the characters felt a little robbed, until that one factor comes in where they are needed.  These sloppy moments feel disjointed, unnecessary, and dilute the story into those eye-rolling moments that could have been so much better.  Perhaps these moments will be strengthened in the next movie, which is a strong hint to come (a shame compared to how well this movie could have tied things up).

 

The Verdict:

 

      Overall, this reviewer liked Fast 8 much better than Furious 7.  With a much better story (strengthening the limitations of its predecessor), toned down stunts, and an atmosphere that feels much like the earlier installments, this movie is a step in the right direction for the impending sequels to come.  Yet, it still doesn’t reach the balance some of the previous films have.  The editing and character balance still needs some work so that all the characters feel absolutely necessary instead of convenient.  Still, it is a worthy theater film, and will provide the aisle stomping entertainment you are looking for. Let’s hope “Fate” smiles on the next sequels to come from this series…and hope they can keep the momentum going.

 

Action/Crime/Thriller:  8.5

Movie Overall: 7.0

 

 

Going Back To Traditional Style

Going in style

 

The age of comedy has certainly changed over the years, transitioning from the classic slapstick to a simpler, straightforward approach that today’s youth loves. Yet, every once in a while, the legends from the past return in an attempt to bring some whit back to the silver screen.  Tonight, my friend and I head back into the trenches of the local theater to give some insight into Going in Style starring the legendary trio of Morgan Freeman, Alan Arkin, and Michael Caine. Let’s get started!

 

LIKES:

  • Classic comedy
  • Good chemistry between actors
  • Cute
  • Nicely tied together story

Summary: If the intro didn’t spoil it for you, Going in Style is true to its name, as the trio brings the classic comedy back into style.  Fans of the slapstick of yore are going to bust a gut at this film as the timeless styles of the leads continue to shine bright. Caine and Freeman have comedic timing and delivery down, with clever lines craftily intertwined in the serious dialogue that put today’s writing to shame.  Arkin on the other hand is all about the banter and complaining, which for the most part is balanced and well-placed. The trio have great chemistry together, and sell that they are best friends who have faced the challenge called life.  They sell the struggles and praise the joys, and do it with such class and minimizing the stupid, mindless banter famous today. And in addition to being funny, the lack of crude comedy also makes this movie cute. Watching older men trying to rob a bank, while also getting their lives in order makes for an adorable adventure as my friend commented.  Of course, this reviewer likes a story to his comedy, and Going in Style gets this right too.  It’s a hardy story for most ages, and one that won’t have the older audience members shaking their heads in shame.  This may also surprise you, but there were a couple of twists that fooled me, which isn’t easy in the comedy genre. 

 

DISLIKES:

  • Predictable
  • Depressing at times
  • Old jokes get a bit stale

Summary:  With a simple story as this, it’s not surprising that much of the story is predictable. Given the theme of the movie, you should be able to predict most of the ending, and certainly can guess where things are going to go wrong.  Therefore, the uniqueness of this movie takes a hit in the story department. And no surprise, the comedy is also predictable and therefore loses the comedy edge they wanted to deliver…at least to me. While the trailers do promote the more fun atmosphere of the movie, don’t let it fool you that it is all happiness and rainbows (that’s the Smurfs!).  Going in style emphasizes the end of life generation, highlighting the less than glorious problems of getting older. Thank goodness for the consistent comedy, because otherwise this could have been a much harder movie to watch.

Of all the comedy this movie has in its folds, they certainly stuck with the old theme of this movie.  Positives, there are plenty of quips and class to the punches they throw. Bad news, the quips get older than the actors delivering them.  How many insults about difficulties getting up can you make, or metaphors for being poor and not having a check.  It’s good political awareness (nice work there writers), but it would have been nice for a little more variety to work its way into the vaudeville.

 

The VERDICT:

Going in Style is one of the classier, wittier comedies to end up in the theater this year.  Both this reviewer and his friend, enjoyed the trade of simplistic one-liners and innuendos for a less aggressive comedy style that shows the traditional style has not been lost quite yet.  Despite the trade up though, the movie is still very predictable and simplistic enough to still be stuck in the mediocre territory.  As much fun as I had in the movie, there isn’t much to warrant it for a movie theater visit, unless you are a fan of the traditional comedy and looking for a fun group/date movie.  My friend though gives this movie three thumbs up and states it is an entertaining, fun flick that will keep you laughing. 

My scores are:

Comedy/Crime: 7.5

Movie Overall: 6.0

Sci-Fi Thinker, Action Stinker

ghost in shell

 

Robbie K here, back with another review. This time we review the latest comic book inspired film ghost in a shell starring leading lady Scarlett Johansson as an “epic” cybernetic cop trying to stop terrorism.  With a large cult following, this movie certainly has a lot to live up to in terms of quality, and if you’re not familiar with the series than you are probably hoping action.  What is the verdict?  Please read on to hear my thoughts on the latest film.

 

LIKES:

  • Decent Sci-Fi Plot
  • Cool visuals
  • Nice character design
  • Okay acting

 

Summary:  I’ll lay it out now, I haven’t read nor seen any ghost in the shell media, so I can’t justify how it matches.  However, from a movie perspective, this film has a decent Sci-Fi plot that fits into the genre where anything can happen.  A dark plot about cybernetics, Ghost in The Shell again diverts from the fantasy train, and takes a more realistic (albeit theatrical) turn into science territory of humans becoming robots.  The more realistic plot is not much of a stretch and provides an ample medium to create awesome visuals to sell that realism.

And that, my friends, is the best part of this movie.  Ghost in the Shell’s visuals are impressive, overlaying futuristic advertising onto a real life setting that doesn’t look cheesy.  In all honesty, it is like taking a look at what Japan can look like in the future and how our desire to “progress” can ruin it.  Outside the city look, the characters themselves look like something out of a comic, each with a flare that scream Japanese animation.  While some looks are certainly worth a chuckle, a few characters like Major (Johansson) and Kuze (Michael Pitt) are well developed, looking sleek, deadly, or horrifying and standing out in terms of the realistic design you are seeking.

But while visuals are impressive, you also hope the actors can bring their characters to life in a way that will meet expectations.  Happy to say, the cast did a decent job in their goal, though again I’m uncertain how the characters are supposed to act having not read the comic.  If Major is supposed to be very monotone and hardly reactive, Johansson nails that approach, hardly diluting from the calm, stoic battle mode of the robotic assassin.  Pitt having to act like a tortured (albeit enlightened) terrorist wins points for gruesome tactics, prolonged speeches, and many other things that a cyberterrorist is expected to have.  The rest of the cast is decent, but we have limited space and more to cover, so let’s wrap and say the rest aren’t bad given their little screen time.

 

DISLIKES:

  • Little involvement with other characters
  • Plot is very predictable and dragged out
  • Action is sub-par most of the time

 

Summary:  My dislikes start with the lack of involvement in other characters.  Johansson carries most of the film as major, taking much of the screen time and stunts this movie requires.  Her team “helps” out at certain points, and her director certainly gets some good jabs in, but overall the other characters are almost pointless.  For being an elite team, Section 9’s agents did little to impress me and that team approach could have amped up the movie. This is especially true given how lackluster the plot was.  While realistic, Ghost In A Shell has little in terms of uniqueness to justify the nearly two hour run time.  Even if you haven’t read the books, the ending can be seen from a mile away and the delivery wasn’t spectacular enough to wait for (at least for me).  The dramatic flare and character development are certainly nice, don’t get me wrong on that, but the “exciting” climax I was waiting for just wasn’t there.

This brings me to the action component.  Ghost In the Shell was promoted as action packed and exciting, but for me it was mediocre at best.  A nice Matrix style opening shows promise for the movie, but it doesn’t take long for the stunts to be diluted to quick, unimpressive bouts that last mere minutes (if not seconds).  There is little challenge to the fights, and little technology used, which is disappointing given the movie is all about technology.  And after all the waiting you would think an epic fight at the end, but no, it’s just Johansson running from CGI bullets until a very dramatic finish occurs. This boring display of technology just made the nearly 2 hour run time seem worthless, given the promise the trailers made.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Ghost In The Shell is a visual display that certainly representative of its comic book origins. Unfortunately, outside of these impressive visual displays, the rest of the movie doesn’t live up to what I expected from the trailers. The story is mediocre and the execution is flawed, to promote a boring mess with only character development as its redeeming grace.  Despite the impressive design of the movie, this reviewer does not recommend this one for the theater, unless you go in with low expectations. Instead hold out for home rental and instead read the comic book it is based on. 

 

My scores are:

 

Action/Crime/Drama: 6.5

Movie Overall: 6.0

A Chip off the Mundane Block

Chips

 

Robbie K here, starting the evening reviews with yet another comedy to grace the silver screen.  Tonight’s film is a rehash of the golden era of television (the 70s) cop comedy Chips.  What does forty years of sitting in the dust mixed with the modern era of comedy bring to the table?  Well my friends that is where I come from, and as always, I’m happy to share my thoughts on the latest “masterpiece” to grace the silver screen.  So, let’s roll out shall we?

 

LIKES

  • Decent Story
  • Good Acting Chemistry
  • Some bike stunts

 

Summary:  Not going to lie, I didn’t have high hopes for this comedy.  Yet to my surprise, Chips actually stepped up to the plate in terms of plot.  It feels like an extended episode from the show, that was part action, part crime mystery, and a majority comedy.  It was simplistic yes, but it works to bring the entertainment value and energy that the sitcom brought long ago.  While the story was decent, the real shining value is the chemistry between the “dynamic duo” that really makes this movie.  Dax Shepard for once didn’t annoy me, as his character was balanced, surprisingly deep, and quite useful in the story, compared to some of his other roles.  Although still awkward and idiotic, his antics were toned down and complemented by his partner in crime played by Michael Pena.  Pena still shows his dynamic acting style, portraying both rough edged street smarts with sexual promiscuity.  The stubborn mule Pena plays is blind-sided by his weaknesses, and only Dax’s character can deter him from the trap that is his mind.  It was very entertaining (and impressive) to see the energy both brought to the mix, alongside decent character development, kept the movie going.  In addition, there were some decent stunts (primarily bike riding) that added zest to the comedy and maybe a little suspense.

 

DISLIKES

  • Lazy writing
  • Rushed Development
  • Not as Funny as hoped
  • Perverted at times

 

Summary:  Like many comedies, Chips suffers from some lazy writing at times.  I give Shephard props for capturing some antics of the classic show, but his modern style does not give props in terms of unique writing.  Let’s face it, most modern comedies are all about the cursing, and while it was slightly diluted, there was unnecessary use of the cursing that wasn’t funny to me.  In addition, there were plenty of moments that could have been comedic gold, but the direction took a different path that was rushed and lazy, leaving little wit, surprise, or delivery to maximize laughs.  And the perverted aspect, much like the cursing, got pretty old/disgusting quickly.  No offense to anyone’s bodies, but there were a couple of scenes where I couldn’t burn the image/concept out of my head, leaving me sicker to the stomach than laughing.  As for the Kristen Bell moments, they played a key character development, but her limited screen time was shallow stupidity than entertaining, but hey she did look good doing it. Outside of the comedy, the character development also could have been a little deeper and the suspense a little more if they wanted to expand upon the genre.  Yet, when the single objective is comedy, the story often will take a hit.

 

The Verdict

 

Chips has the nostalgic feel to it in terms of its plot overall, and a few cameos, but that is where it drops off.  I again applaud Shepard and Pena’s chemistry and how they expanded upon characters who were better known for their tight uniforms.  Unfortunately, the modern telling is much like the theme of the genre, simplistic stupid moments with a curse laden dialogue and perverted moments.  If this is your style, then this movie is the one for you this weekend.  For the rest of my readers though, this movie is worth waiting for Netflix before feasting your eyes on this piece.  While better than I thought, it would be, it still is no masterpiece.

 

My Scores:

 

Action/Comedy/Crime:  6.5

Movie Overall: 4.0

Getting Wicky With It!

wick-2

 

The Boogeyman has had a lot of different forms over the years from grotesque features, grossly deformed into the vision of nightmares to a man with slicked back hair and a… depressed look on his face?  No, I’m not delirious my friends, but the reference I made is to the codename of John Wick, the legendary assassin of 2014. After a thrilling, and complete conclusion, one may have thought Wick’s journey ended there.  Obviously, Hollywood did not think so and thus comes Chapter 2 of the action adventure and whatever, random target that is assigned.  Robbie K here, and today we take a look at John Wick: Chapter 2.  Let’s get started!

 

Likes:

  • Dry sense of humor
  • Visuals and special effects
  • Stable camera work
  • Lots of action and excitement

 

Summary:  There isn’t much in regards to John Wick, so finding a like outside of action, but one component is the dry sense of humor this film has.  Wick (Keanu Reeves) is a man of few words, but the few he speaks are worth a good laugh.  The writers win points for a dialogue that is both pun filled and classy, timing them at key points to maximize laughs while sticking to the stoic nature of our players.

 

Yet the humor is just an added bonus to what is John Wick’s strongest feature, the action.  All the reviews are in agreement that Wick is back with more action than ever imagined, as this one-man army unleashes a storm of well-placed bullets, knife slashing (and sometimes pencil) stand offs, and Marshal Arts punches.  Wick’s skills with a pistol (among other weaponry) are intense displays of choreography, proving that you can coordinate extras dying to imaginary wounds in an exciting way.  The hand-to-hand combat also gets points, not quite as developed as the 70s and 80s movies, but still an enjoyable element to mix things up. Helping support all the action is impressive special effects, which adds the extra flare and touch that gets our hearts pumping (e.g. explosions, crashes, and comic book bashing sounds). You can guess there is plenty of blood to go around too (for you gore seeking fans), which adds more to the chaos and violence at hand that somehow… adds a bit of satisfaction to the mix.  But even better, is the entire film has stable camera work that keeps you scoped on the action without making you vomit due to vertigo.  Overall, this exciting package gets two thumbs up in its etiquette, design, and impressive work on the action.

 

Dislikes:

  • Keanu’s acting (at times)
  • Simplistic story
  • Overstepping boundaries at times
  • Some fights a bit blocky
  • Unorthodox presentation
  • Slower parts a bit…too slow

 

Summary: While we never expected an academy for this performance, there are times where Keanu’s acting is a bit too lax.  His lines are meant to be serious, but come out awkward, effortless, and sometimes bored at the unoriginal dialogue.  While this certainly isn’t a big weakness, there are moments where this acting took away Wick’s awesome factor, or made me chuckle unintentionally.

 

Acting aside, the story is another limiting factor that Wick really needs some fine tuning on.  Yes, I know story isn’t the main theme of this series (hence why I make a genre rating people), but movie overall this film’s plot is a little less put together than its predecessor.  A random guy shows up, tells a vague back story to establish a weak connection, and then becomes another revengeful chase across two cities.  All the convoluted (shallowly explained) relationships and teases did nothing but make more targets for Wick and did nothing to add to the story for me.

 

Finally, while the action is indeed awesome and well done, there are still a few limitations that hit this quality.  First, those who aren’t fans of repetitive gun play and headshots, need to skip this film…because that is a majority of the action.  But outside of repetition, the action sometimes oversteps the boundaries of realism.  A car mercilessly being smashed (and smashing) yet still running, a number of injuries that magically heal, and the inaccuracy of other assassins are just some of the eye-rolling moments of this film. In addition, some of the fist fights get very blocky, have awkward pauses, or lack the edge (music and sound effects) that make the fighting less exciting and more we just extending screen time.  Another component I didn’t like was how they reduced Wick’s fighting of other assassins to a messy set of montages that seemed out of place and were lackluster compared to Wick fighting off nameless extras.  Such missed potential for memorable rivalries, and more diverse fights. And even more missed potential, was the slower parts not taking time to advance a story, or establish better character dynamics, which made for some dragged out moments.

 

The Verdict:

 

Wick’s journey of revenge and killing is certainly more exciting than his last ordeal.  The emphasis is on the action, with a majority of the film geared towards the stunts, effects, and violence, so adrenaline junkies strap up and hit the theater.  However, if you are looking for the complete package of story, dynamics, and balance, then this film isn’t the right one for you.  Wick still lacks a lot of other qualities in the movie overall category.  Worth a trip to theater?  Yes, as the special effects and excitement are made for the theater.  But if you can’t handle extreme violence then skip!

 

My scores:

Action/Crime/Thriller:  8 (for the action)

Movie Overall: 5