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


Failure of Biblical Proportions



Biblical movies are hot topic films that often don’t get their fair reviews, wedged between two extremes that are unrelenting.  While there have been some amazing films to capture the lessons of the Lord, there are others that fall short of the glory.  This weekend, another attempt to bring the stories to visual splendor this time focusing on the tale of Samson and Delilah.  You may not have seen the trailers, but the teaser did not hold much promise for this film, with a Taylor Lautner look alike taking center screen amidst a lot of extras.  Still, yours truly hits another round of movies to bring you another review.  Does this film succeed or is it just bleeding your pockets dry?  Let’s get started on the analysis, shall we?



Orchestra work:  Not the most unique or creative, but the orchestra work in Samson brings an emotional curb to the scene or sequence it is covering.  The booming cannons, the sharp trumpets blaring honorably, and the deep drums all combine to form a symphony that mirrors the ferocity of Samson’s strength. Without this track, the edge portrayed in the trailer would not be there.


Biblical Look:  Okay, okay I’m drawing straw here, but the setting looked like a decent representation of old world towns, palaces, and shacks.  Samson’s cast have a bountiful environment to work in, from dried up forests, to the open desert plains.  The shots are beautiful, and some of the made-up settings look legitimate, especially the outside shots of the CGI built palaces.  A nice start, but the budget needed to be expanded to really clean up the rougher edges of the setting.


The Biblical Message:  In these types of movies, one strives to learn the Lord’s lessons, perhaps as a means to reconnect with their spiritual side.  Samson manages to do this, using both the narratives and physical prowess scenes to help spread the message of going to God.  The latter in particular are very pronounced prayers, going out of the way to dramatize the kneeling and shut eyes as he communicates with God.  This usually follows with some super hero feats, from bashing a person’s rib cage in with a punch or pushing open a gate that has no chance of opening.  Combined with the music, church goers will love seeing the power of God manifest in Samson’s deeds.



Unpolished Acting/Writing:  One major problem with Samson is that much of the movie feels unfinished, unpolished, and quite weak.  Many of the characters act at one extreme or the other, with many of the performances almost feeling like they were uninterested in the part.  When dramatic moments hit, the prolonged speeches, and acts of passion were on the other end of the spectrum, very melodramatic and a little cheesy.  I can’t pinpoint if this is due to the writing, the direction, or something else, but it didn’t meet the Oscar quality they might have been shooting for.


Rushed Story:  The acting can be stomached, but the story, well that is where things really take a dive.  Samson’s tale is epic, and one would hope to see that legendary story have all the meaning and development it needed.  Sadly, this film failed to bring the story to full light.  All the major points are covered, but much of it is a rushed, diluted mess that lacks suspense, quality, or even satisfactionCharacter deaths happen in the blink of an eye, punishments lack the movie magic to actually make you feel the pain in your heart and given the writing/acting…things don’t feel believable in the performance. Like many movies, they seemed to try and cram everything in to a short run time and it didn’t work for me.


The Action:  Okay, seeing a Hebrew take on corrupt, pigheaded soldiers, is always satisfying given the portrayal of bad guys in Hollywood.  However, Samson’s strength falters not in terms of power, but in terms of quality in the fight scenes itself.  Much of the movie is just the well-toned body of Taylor James being framed in a close up, with him performing the same, habitual punch/bash over and over again.  Oh yeah, they have a little mix up, but it’s nothing impressive as it resorts back to the usual bashing before seeing a shot of a poor extra pretending to die.  Sword play is lacking, suspense again is gone, and even the main bad guys feel weak in terms of epic villainy and thrilling fights.  Like much of this movie, they cut corners on this aspect and it didn’t pay off.



            The legendary story of Samson is an epic one about the power of God and filled with morals about trusting the Almighty one with your life.  Sadly, this film was not able to glorify it the way it needed to be.  Whether it is due to a limited budget, a short time limit, or rookie status, the movie cut too many corners as they tried to cram everything they could into a short time frame.  Mediocre acting, rushed story, and lackluster action more than overshadow the visuals and message in this movie, setting another example of how Hollywood doesn’t necessarily mean quality.  So, while the spiritual power is good, Robbie recommends skipping this installment at least until RedBox that is… and I can only marginally recommend this. 


My scores are:

Action/Drama:  4.5

Movie Overall: 4.0

A Cure To Extra Movies Telling The Story!

Death Cure


Books, once the primary medium for telling stories, has now become the newest screenplay source for Hollywood.  The big wigs are back this weekend with another dystopian novel coming up to the big screen in hopes of concluding the tale with that justice fans demand.  As these series are a mixed bag (Hunger games vs. Divergent), one may wonder how this book will fair, especially with the mixed response the first two have had.  Robbie K here, hoping to help you out with another movie weekend and hopefully save you some time and money.  Let’s go!




Strong Opening:  You always like your movie to grab your attention from the start, and the Death Cure is happy to accommodate.  The movie takes little time to get the excitement going, pumping into an action scene and kicking the pace off to 4th gear.  Even after the scene finishes, the movie sets things up quickly, to keep the pace and tension going, a plus given the long run time. I myself enjoyed the opening act of the film and how it was able to establish all three-story fronts and run them in tandem, accomplishing the balance of concise and complete.


Acting: To make these classics come to life, one must get the cast just right to bring these characters off the page.  Well the squad who was cast long ago, continues their strong work of capturing Thomas and his band of merry men.  Dylan O’Brien is the leading man again, getting the rebellious, battle hardened leader role down.  Stoic and heroic are his leading qualities, but handling that emotional vulnerability that comes with the role was a challenge well accomplished by this actor.  Ki Hong Lee, while not quite the champion he was in the first two installments, still keeps his calm in his role, securing the suffering portrayal and for once not sounding sexual when a character screams.  Kaya Scodelario as Theresa was a little dry and mundane at times, but starts to redeem herself and get her complexities down at the climax of the movie. And my favorite of the characters, Newt played by Thomas Brodie-Sangster who got all the emotions right, played the transition roles to point, and delivered some of the best speeches I’ve heard in a character. 


The Suspense: What I liked about this movie the most though, is how well they captured the suspense and tension of the film.  Unlike the earlier installments that hit those dead moments, the third installment manages to keep things always moving and on the edge.  With suspense and thrills packed in, it’s hard not to get lost in all the action on board and its nail biting, cleverness.  Loaded into this excitement though, is a bounty of emotions that rope you into the character’s struggles and tether the chaos to the story.  Riding this roller coaster was very satisfying, and personally, I loved how engged these characters were into the film as the epic conclusion started to arise.


The Final Scene: And after all this excitement, comes a finish that was perfect to wrap up the chaos at hand.  While not the most complete in terms of answers, the finale’s combination of epic soundtrack, emotional monologue, and cinematography brought goosebumps to my skin, and no it wasn’t due to a virus.  It’s this final punch that finally shows you can take a book series and end it epically, so stick around ladies and gents to see how trials finish up.




No refresher:  In most of these movies, the writers are able to remind you of the previous events in either dialogue or an opening montage.  Death Cure doesn’t remotely try to attempt to give you a refresher course, and for those who haven’t seen the films or reread the novels, you are on your own for connecting the dots.


The Length: You know there has to be massive entertainment or an engaging twist to keep you hooked into the movie.  And while Death Cure was exciting, I couldn’t justify the movie being past 120 minutes.  Much of the extra length came from drawn out chases and dialogue that were bloated examples of arrogance.  These moments might have held tension, but eventually got too drawn out for me, and had be begging for a conclusion.  Nevertheless, the suspenseful moments of the film sometimes turned into ridiculousness for me, because they seemed to move at half speed to get to the predictable ending.  More editing would have been a plus here.


The Coincidences:  Can’t tell if this was the theme in the book, but did the events really rely on this much serendipity and suspense of belief.  I’m not talking about the dystopia feel, or the zombie like cranks that seemed to be the latest overplayed creature.  No, my beef  comes with how inconsistent or stretching one sees them take with things like bullet proof glass suddenly breaking, convenient structural integrity collapse, and how the creatures somehow don’t attack the outskirts of the last city.  With all of these conveniences, it was hard for me not to laugh at these choices as they became a rather weak wrap up.


Reduction of Characters:  I give these guys props for integrating so many characters, but this film kind of dropped both plot and characters into the background, more than I would have expected.  Some of our heroes from the last movie have barely ten minutes in the film, and other major villains don’t have quite the bite that one would have expected from the trailers.  Even new characters making their appearance were a little drab, not in terms of looks, but again in a leaner story that I thought was more prominent in the book than on the screen.  Why we didn’t see more of these rag tag mercenaries and supporting characters , I don’t know, but again balance is key.




            Maze Runner: Death Cure was a good conclusion to the trilogy for this reviewer.  The cast continues to remain strong, with a strong set of scenes to grip you into the action and lock in the suspense to come over the 120 minute run time.  And the fact they crafted a finale without going into an extra film wins bonus points for me. However, the movie is a bit unnecessarily long for me, failing to impress with exaggerated chase scenes that come to a convenient ending. In addition, the characters they highlight in the trailers, primarily the new antagonists, needed some better balance for me to help bring this final installment to the top.  Still, given all the excitement and special effects, as well as an emotionally packed story, this trilogy’s finale is worth a trip to the theaters.


My scores are:


Action/Sci-Fi/Thriller:  8.0

Movie Overall: 7.0


A Little More Development Would Have Made This 12 Stronger

12 strong.jpg

            The World Trade Center attack, a day that will forever live on in the history of the American society.  From this event, our military launched a new war that targeted terrorism, and the escalating threats that hid in the shadows.  We’ve had plenty of tales about the heroes who acted on that day, uncovered the leads to locating the leaders of the attack, and potential occupations of territories of those who might continue their work.  This weekend, yet another campaign heavy feature comes to theaters entitled 12 strong, the declassified story of the Horsemen who fought back.  What lies in this political drama?  Robbie K here to answer that question in hopes of guiding your viewing pleasures.  Let’s’ move out!




The Pace:  Some military dramas get lost in all the political jargon and build up, but this movie manages to dive through that medium quickly to get to what you want to see. While the opening hour is on the slower side and dialogue heavy, it eventually takes off when the first battles begin to rock out.  From there, the rest of the movie is tense ride, moving at a consistent speed to bring suspense and intensity at what lies in the Middle Eastern range.


The Dialogue:  The story of the horsemen may be action heavy focused, but my buddy and I agreed that the dialogue was well done in this movie.  One component is between the soldiers, a realistic, almost natural, exchange of insults, jabs, and venting that represents the bond the soldiers have.  Well-timed jokes relieve some of the tension, and the comedic punch is subtle but perfect to get a good laugh out of you.  When the action starts up, you’ll get your feel of military jargon, as the soldiers call out strategic maneuvers and call in air strikes utilizing the coordinates.  While not the most creative writing here, it’s a component that helps pull you into the heat of the moment.  The strongest writing though, comes in the philosophical debates between Captain Mitch (Chris Hemsworth) and General Dostum  (Navid Negahban). A contest of wills takes place numerous time between the two leaders, and in it contains Hollywood inspired lines designed to open your minds to bravery, empathy, and what it means to fight.  These moments are the most moving, and in it a great study on the hell war truly is.


The Messages:  The dialogue does much of the lifting in this category, but 12 Strong also has enough visual representation on the culture of the battlefield that was the war on terror.  Perhaps there is some studio magic to gloss up things, the movie did a solid job portraying the Arabic cultures and approaches to war on all sides.  Honor and dignity are heavy in the population, and not all factions are as heated as the terrorism associated with it.  Seeing this duality not only supports the dramatic storytelling, but does a solid job at educating the audience that not everyone out there is an enemy.


Action: Okay now the part you really want to know about.  The action of 12 Strong delivers what the trailer promised.  Special effects heavy sequences erupt to life as Hemsworth and company unleash their disciplined fury onto the poor extras that are heavy in this film.  Exciting gunplay is the main theme of the mix, all sharing a similar foundation, but with some tweaks to help each battle stand out.  As many of my fellow reviewers agree, the movie’s final battle is the best of the bunch, packed with emotion, tension, and all out courage and glory that America loves to see as they ride their horses into the fray.  A powerful cinematic score will assist in bringing the whole shebang to life.  Not the strongest of all the movies I’ve seen, but dang strong in its own right.





Too Long:  For a movie that is action packed, you would think that the story could be told in under 2 hours.  Yet, this movie was a little too long at points for me.  It starts with the delayed opening, taking nearly an hour to get to the first battle the movie promised.  Sure, the information is presented in a concise manner, but how much of it was really needed is the question that remains.  In addition, the movie took some tangents to give you the whole journey, admirable in terms of capturing every detail, but not done well enough to be fully pertinent to the movie.  This story takes some unnecessary tangents that didn’t get the time it needed, acting as quick acknowledgements to the soldier’s lives and nothing more.


Hard To Differentiate Soldiers:  Another problem with this movie is how much the soldiers seem to blend together in this movie.  You’ve got Hemsworth who sticks out like a sore thumb, and a couple of other members that have a unique quality to them to help differentiate them.  Much of the cast though are just bearded big men who all have a vendetta to settle with the terrorists.  Sacrificing logical combat gear choices, like helmets and armor, they try to give some visual cues to help each member stand out, but their identities still aren’t really prominent for the audience to grab onto.  They relied on Hemsworth too much to do the lifting, letting his good looks do most of the eye grabbing.  In addition, none of the other soldiers had strong background development, with only the ones with family getting any glimpse of a life.  They try to give a few of them some screen time at parts of the movie by splitting the team, but most of the supporting antics fall to quick sequences that could have been left out.


Army Of One: Exciting as the battles are, 12 strong is more like 1-5 strong in the grand scheme of things.  Hemsworth is the soldier whose perspective you’ll get the most of, despite being the member who has had the least combat experience.  Where other movies do a nice job of integrating all members of the team in some way, but this film sort of glazed over the contributions of the others.  Don’t get me wrong, the other troops have some displays of their skills, but they just don’t have that unique component other military films do.  Even the main villain sometimes get lost to the sea of extras, with only some close ups of sneers to shine the spotlight on.  Again, the movie relies of Hemsworth to do most of the lifting, and it really could have achieved more had the others been more involved.




            When it comes to action films, 12 strong is the leader for the new year at the moment.  While the movie starts out slow, the second act gets things going, primarily thanks to the action sequences that are loaded in this movie. Still, the movie manages to get some good dialogue into the mix that, in tandem with the visual effects, does a nice job delivering the emotional messages about the culture of war.  However, the movie was a little too long, going down too many paths that, while entertaining, did not provide much to the story.  Such a shame, as the other members of the platoon could have used some development to not only add more to the battles, but also help the other cast stand out a little more.  Given all these things though, the movie is the pick of the weekend to go see in theaters, due to the special effects and storytelling at hand.


My Scores:


Action/Drama/History:  7.5

Movie Overall:  6.5



Not Foreign To Edge or Plot



Jackie Chan a legend in the cinematic world for many famous roles many will remember for years to come.  With epic Marshal Arts sequences, a sense of comedic delivery and great chemistry with a variety of actors, it is no wonder the man has been involved in so many projects.  And after a hiatus, the legend seems to be making a comeback lending his voice to Lego Ninjago and now returning in a live action film the Foreigner.  Does the man still have the magic, or was he better left sitting on the sidelines?  Robbie K here to review another movie and as always let’s get started.




Edgy:  The trailers promised Chan would be returning with some sharper, and darker, edges and sure enough they delivered.  Mr. Quan is certainly one of the darker roles I’ve seen him play, as he seeks out his own brand of justice in a manner only a vigilante could.  No punches are thrown in this role, and this more intense role is a nice touch to Chan’s normal lighter roles.  Saying few words, Chan has the look down with sullen wise eyes filled with a hateful, hopeless stare, and scowl that seems permanently fixated in a faithless fury.  This darker role was fascinating to watch, primarily to see how far he would go to crush the opposition.


Fairly fast pacing: No surprise here, but the Foreigner moves at a fairly brisk pace, starting out with a literal bang and diving into the search to come.  Information is provided in a fairly linear manner so that you get all the answers you need, all the while maximizing the “action” at the same time.


Complete story:  Despite the quickened pace, this movie does manage to close all the convoluted loops established in this film.  The Foreigner has a lot of dramatic elements integrated into the action that include affairs, conspiracies, and betrayals that feels much like soap opera plot lines.  Rather than taking episodes to finish these tales, the writers provided all the answers one needs to be satisfied with the closure.  Not saying it’s the best closure mind you, but at least it finishes the tale quite well.


Chan’s moves:  While certainly not the freshest or more convoluted stunts he’s ever done, it is satisfying to see Chan still have some of his magic.  The Foreigner does a nice job of giving our star chances to show off his acrobatic skills.  After leaping around like an old squirrel, Chan next dazzles with his close combat choreographer, still executing his close style fist fights in a smooth dance.  And with the new edge, Chan’s darker combat is unleashed, losing the feeling of being planned to the adrenaline rush we love to see.




Pierce Brosnan’s accent:  A minor dislike at best, I couldn’t get on board with Brosnan’s attempt at sounding Irish.  While certainly better than me, the former Bond star has a little more refining to do in order to sell the angry Irish man to me.  It was comical at times and took away from the threat he was trying to bring to the table, well that and the fact that he didn’t seem to have many skills himself. Sorry Pierce, you’ve got debonair down, but not the fury of the fiery reds.


Editing:  While dramas are sometimes a bit overbearing to me, I could handle most of the character antics in this film.  However, the storyboard team dropped the ball a few times for me in how much they crammed into this film.  Some of the relationships were not needed, merely extra branches to take up space in attempt to fill up time.  While the tangents expand a little on our two lead characters, they could have been left out, or kept in small bits of dialogues instead of full out sequences, especially when it came to the wife scenes.  Drama lovers will certainly enjoy this element, but the rest get ready to yawn.  Speaking of which…


Not as action packed:  I thought the Foreigner was going to have more bite with Chan finally emerging from his retirement.  Instead of the energy that Rush Hour and Shanghai Noon brought, the Foreigner slowed the pace down a bit.  Those extensive bouts of fist punching are brought to a minimum in terms of time, reduced to some covert moves that would make Rambo proud in their pyrotechnic awe.  The few bouts we do have maximize the new tone and provide some satisfying stunt work, but for me… it paled to the classics I grew up with.  Still not a bad display for the aged master, I just would have liked more of that and less drama.




The Foreigner is a great restart to Chan’s career giving him a new edge I haven’t seen before.  It’s a film that does its part as an action drama, trying to craft more of a story with the action to support it in the long run.  And while the tale is decent, and complete, it’s still a bit too slow and drawn out when there could have been more fighting.  The result is still entertaining, but with enough drab parts to outweigh the extent of action we got.  Chan may still have some moves up his sleeve, but I’ll take revisiting the classics any day.  Nevertheless, there is enough kick to warrant a theater visit for this one, primarily in regards to those satisfying, climactic fights that occur.


My scores are:


Action/Thriller: 8.0

Movie Overall: 7.0


King Me…Again



“Manners, Maketh, Man!” Such an elegant phrase that got millions all fired up years ago in preparation for the spy action flick of the season.  Kingsman was a smashing success back in the day for me, and when I saw a sequel coming, I may have squealed in glee a tiny bit.  Yet, I feared that a sequel could smudge the adventure I enjoyed so much, especially with the expanded cast.  So tonight, I put on my suit (or t-shirt) and hit the theater to scope out the next mission.  Was the mission a success?  Read on to find out friends.




Funny:  Remember that edgy humor the first Kingsman had?  Well the magic continues my friends, as Kingsman2 is certainly Golden in much of its comedic bite.  It starts like always with the banter between agents, well-timed and well-delivered by our cast to maximize the punch at hand. Then comes the reactions of our agents as their thrown ridiculous curve balls, or baseballs at points, meant to hinder their way.  Yet the cameo by a certain celebrity might have been a major source of gut busting guffaws.  I won’t reveal who it is (I leave that to the Internet), but get ready to laugh so hard you might cry with his “rock n roll’ themed lines.


Emotional:  Surprisingly, Kingsman 2 may be more heart wrenching than the first movie.  Eggsy’s next stage of life has more than enough sad moments that will slow the adrenaline ride down, like those stubborn speedbumps in a parking lot, or a Game of Thrones episode.  Character development is certainly stronger than ever in this movie, pushing our lead protagonist to levels we never really thought he would have to face.   All these challenges keep you invested in Eggsy, Merlin, and others for the second round, making for a more immersive experience.


Fast PacedKingsman 2 may run for 2.5 hours, but it certainly doesn’t feel like it at all to me.  With all the laughs, emotional investment, and action, you’ll experience a time warp to the end of the film.  I certainly did not feel bored in this movie at all, and was quite pleased by the entertainment it brought.  To have that pace and the decent balance brought with it, is not something you see in most films.


Action:  Of course my favorite aspect has to be the action packed into the film on many levels.  Kingsman 2 keeps up the high energy infused sequences that are about guns, melee, gadgets, and over the top stunts.  Eggsy and the gang bring their skills back in high definition, special effects crazy goodness, with a fantastic play list to further amp things up.  This dynamic was maintained through most of the movie, keeping things interesting with new gadgets to tear baddies a new one with.  Despite a few missed moments, the action is certainly the selling point of this movie, especially with its integration into the plot and the pertinence to the mission.  Throw in stable camera work and editing, and you just maximize the excitement of this film.




Ridiculousness:  Don’t get me wrong, the absurdity of this film is one of those charming qualities that got me into the movie.  However, in this sequel, that level sometimes went a little too far outside reality to take away from the atmosphere they were creating.  If the stunts aren’t too farfetched for you, then the invulnerability, or medical technology feats will have you rolling their eyes as they reach preposterous proportions.  It fits in the comedic spoof theme, but feels out of place at times and took a little away from the suspense.  This is only a small dislike. 


Viscous nature:  I like a good action movie, and darkness can certainly open the gates to maximize the violence we love to see our actors perform.  They unfortunately overstep their boundaries at times, crossing into the darker world I like to avoid if possible. Some rather gruesome deaths and blood bashings are the first scratches that chinked my armor.  While a few are obviously computer generated, the special effects craft some rather scarring images that won’t leave my memory anytime soonEven worse though, is the cruelty to animals in this film.  You know I hate unnecessary hurting of our furrier friends, but Kingsman was not hesitant to go the distance of getting emotional responses by this means.  Not cool for me, but if you lack that empathy, you’ll shrug it off like the agent’s credo.


Wasted Characters:  Kingsman has a lot of great actors, with much of our cast reprising their roles in style and to great heights.  Even newcomers like Julianne Moore as an eccentric villain, or Halle Berry as a tech geek, get applause from me.  Hollywood though fails to live up to utilizing all their characters to the same degree…again.  Agents who survived the wraith of the last film are reduced to the background with little remorse, making small contributions at the best.  New agent wise… don’t count on eye candy Channing Tatum to do much better, resorting to one action scene, and more modeling in an Abercrombie and Fitch manner.  Why he doesn’t get a serious chance?  I can’t answer, but I was disappointed with his involvement in the film.




            Overall, I was very pleased with this sequel and enjoyed the thrill of returning to the frontlines of the spy war.  A compelling story with much emotion, amidst comedy and high speed action are the selling points to this film.  Yet, the ridiculousness of the stunts, amidst the brutal kills shots and wasted characters takes away from the movie.  Still, it’s worth a trip to the theater and I encourage you to hit the theaters to experience the stunts in full glory and enjoy another fun action adventure. 


My scores are:


Action/Adventure/Comedy:  8.5

Movie Overall:  7.5


Guards Up For Action Packed Laughs



Summer movie season is starting to putter out, but the movie magic continues to trickle to get a buck out of us.  This weekend tries to muster up some chuckles in the form of not one, but wo comedies that look to be more of the same.  I start my weekend off with The Hitman’s Bodyguard starring the dynamic duo Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson. With dynamic comedy styles and a track list of movies behind them, one can only wonder what these two bring to the big screen this weekend.  Fortunately, I have the privilege of providing that information and giving you some insight.  Let’s get started on another review, shall we?




Soundtrack:  Always good to have a soundtrack with quality music and surprisingly Hitman’s Bodyguard kills it on this aspect.  Much of the music fits in with the scenes, often used as a comedic ploy to compound on the humor presented in the movie.  They even managed to make the action even more exciting with the music, primarily during Black Betty’s epic guitar solo.  One way or another though, you may find yourself tapping your feet to the soundtrack at hand.


Action:  When they say action/comedy they mean action comedy alright.  Hitman’s Bodyguard has edge packed into its gun happy, pro-violence run and in a variety of styles that help diversify the plot.  Jackson and Reynolds, or at least their doubles, are involved in a variety of stunts that mix martial arts, weaponry mastery, and insane driving on their journey to testify.  I myself had an adrenaline-fueled blast with the movie, but one fan hollered in approval at the hardcore action contained in this film, despite how illogical, unrealistic, or death defying they were.  And as a note, the camera work is quite stable to pull off an approval from yours truly.


Comedy:  The leading component of this film though, is the comedy loaded in to the firearm that is this film.  I found myself laughing for most of the movie at the writing this film had.  The screenplay writers had a field day with the dialogue of this film, stretching their minds to deliver lines worthy of cheap laughs to witty gold.  I certainly enjoyed the entire spectrum in this movie, but really enjoyed the timing of the jokes and the delivery from the two leading actors, especially Jackson, sold the line for full price.  While certainly not the best writing to grace Hollywood, Hitman’s Bodyguard hits some balance that other comedies ignores.




Jokes grow stale:  Despite all the antics packed into this pistol, many of the potshots are crafted into the same mold and fired so rapidly that they quickly lose their punch.  Reynolds’ angles are the biggest victim of going stale and becoming more eye rolling/annoying than gut busting.  I have to agree with my fellow reviewers in how the movie is relentlessly throwing jokes at you during the film and it gets tiring after a while, especially when interrupting the more serious moments.


Gary Oldman’s character:  Oldman is a master of playing those grittier roles and he didn’t shy away from the communist leader role in this film.  Sadly, the villains have little bite, reduced to threatening facial gestures (amidst unimpressive makeup), a few grandiose speeches, and oh yes, a running scene.  The worst part though has to be the accent and direction Oldman gave the character, which sounded forced, stretched, and uncommitted to the character at hand.  This protagonist was boring and outside Oldman’s normal range, leaving the flunkies to bring the pain.  Had they focused on his lieutenant a little more, we may have had a real ringer.


Jackson’s catchphrase:  I know, you get Jackson, you often get a certain phrase alongside him, and Hitman’s Bodyguard is no exception.  This film is relentless with their cursing, focusing on the magical F word and all its iterations as the primary ammunition for comedy.  Jackson in particular goes overboard with these words and while funny at times, gets old after a while.  Salma Hayek’s cameo was a welcome change to the mix, but with the lazy writing and merchandising off this word, I can’t get on board with their overuse.  To quote the movie, Jackson may be destroying the MF phrase, which is hard to do.


The Verdict:


I had fun with Hitman’s Bodyguard and enjoying the approach this movie took with comedy and action.  It’s go simplistic, unoriginal stunts that are predictable, but it is nicely executed keep your heart pumping.  In addition, the laughs are nicely integrated into the film to go along with the pace of the movie and not diverging down the slow, unnecessary paths that most do.  Still, it’s not the most unique movie to grace the theaters and like many films is unable to obtain that balance of using their gimmicks.  Throw in the over utilization of the F word and well…you see where it gets panned on.  Still, it is an enjoyable ride for a movie venture, but your money many be better spent elsewhere. 


My scores:


Action/Comedy:  7.5

Movie Overall:  5.0