No Justice In This Crime/Drama

Roman

 

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.

 

LIKES:

 

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.

 

DISLIKES:

 

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.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            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

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Atomic Action

Atomic Blonde

 

Spies, they come in every shape and size from goofy men in naked gun to the suave iterations of James Bond.  Yet one thing is certain, they often are involved in incredibly threatening situations that require luck, training, and sets of skills to get the job done.  This weekend, a new agent appears in the world of the silver screen and her name is Charlize Theron.  This gorgeous actress has been teasing the trailers with some exciting, seductive, and sexy scenes of her movie Atomic Blonde, promising an adventure to be had.  Robbie K back with another review, so let’s get this mission started.

 

LIKES:

 

Theron’s acting:  Lead actresses carry a lot of the movie when they are the featured character. Fortunately, Theron nails the role of the spy on all the avenues promised by the trailer.  Her physical looks, capable of making people go gaga, are only the superficial wrapping paper for the talent within, as she unleashes her cold ruthlessness with a little twist. She plays the wise and sly role well, bringing a dynamic character who has great chemistry with her fellow cast, crafting a deadly board to run their games on. Theron may be monotone in much of her roles, and often may play the same types of roles, but it works in this setting quite well.

 

Funny:  While certainly not the sole theme of this movie, Atomic Blonde is a figurative blast in the laughter department.  One of my friends compared some scenes to Monty Python in their comedic ploys of minions constantly getting up.  Seeing these stooges fall, dive, and become injured in a number of manners, but have ridiculous stamina is entertaining on many levels.  In addition, Atomic Blonde has some well-timed, and well-aimed, lines to relieve some of the tension. Mix all this with the over-the-top shock factor of this movie and you won’t help but laugh at the presentation at hand.

 

Action: The trailers painted an exciting thrill ride of death defying battles and spy warfare destruction.  And the trailers didn’t lie at all.  Atomic Blonde knocked hard on the action door as Theron faced the insurmountable odds of the secret army of spies out to hinder her mission and end her beautiful life.  The film has a number of styles for you including hand to hand combat, gunplay (and lots of it), and a few car chase scenes to keep things interesting.  Each of the drawn-out battles fits into the mission well, and the dynamic setting adds to the heat of the moment that is satisfying on so many levels.

 

The Soundtrack:  As Frozen proved years ago, a good soundtrack is something to take notice of.  Atomic Blonde’s featured tracks are all in the 80s, and the sweet beats are utilized to an excellent level that brings out the spirit of the scene.  And if you don’t care about a track matching to the movie, but like the synthesizer heavy music of the decade, then good news, you’ll be dancing in your seat to the sweet beats of the movie.  Whatever the reason, note that Atomic Bomb’s soundtrack is certainly a blast to the past of energizing music.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Convoluted story:  You may not have expected much of a story, after all most action heavy films seldom have one.  Yet, the thin story was certainly a complicated mess given everything packed into the movie and the directions they took to present it.  There is a mystery there, but it is overshadowed by the stunts and combat that ring throughout the movie. While the action is exciting, it distracts from the main plot and left little to follow given the shock factor of the series.  The dry dialogue doesn’t help much either, nor the fact that the movie jumps through so many perspectives in a short amount of time. The bottom line is…the presentation makes for a rather dry story, with only a few emotional oases to breathe life into the film.

 

Violence:  Action often does breed violence, but Atomic Blonde’s battles are true spectacles of mutilation and torture.  All the extras in particular are brutally battered in the fights, bashed in extraordinary detail to turn a few heads or make one of my friends cover her eyes. Theron’s character gets hit pretty hard too, painting her a few shades of gore as well. The gunplay makes for a ballad of painting the walls red, and the emphasis of close up, head explosions can be a little overdone at times. However, the most disturbing components are seeing the up and close drawn out deaths of a few character and their agonizing last breath.  Keep that in mind before jumping into the theater.

 

The unneeded romance scene:  I’m not one for the hot and sexy sequences in bed, but I can appreciate it when either done with class or pertinent to the story.  A scene in the trailers, and of course the movie, showed a rather hot moment that just didn’t feel necessary to me in the story.  Certainly, editing could have left this out, or at least the director’s cut, but without the added emphasis of relationships to the movie, I could have done without it.

 

The Verdict:

 

Atomic Blonde held much of what the trailers promised. It is an off the wall, very shocking film that leaves little to the imagination.  It is a thrilling, adrenaline pumping ride that felt fresh given the unique presentation and a soundtrack to further add fun.  Unfortunately, the stunts, violence, and convoluted presentation derailed the story for me and left me wondering what it is I just watched. There is plenty of theater worthy material to justify a visit, but if violence isn’t your cup of tea, pass this mission on to someone else. 

 

My scores are:

 

Action/Mystery/Thriller:  7.5

Movie Overall:  6.0

Doesn’t Live To It’s Full Potential

live-by-night

 

Gangster movies have been a major component to American cinema for quite some time. With established films like The Godfather series, Scarface, among other films, sometimes it can be hard to produce a quality modern day crime film. But Ben Affleck has made an attempt this weekend with the movie Live by Night. Can Affleck’s recent resurgence revitalize the gang movie, or does his operation go belly up before it gets started?  Robbie K here with another review and as always appreciate the read.

 

LIKES:

  • Solid acting
  • Incredible Setting and Costumes
  • Very Detailed Description of a mob rising

 

Summary: Affleck’s stoic, monotone, performances continue to find footholds in a variety of parts, and his portrayal of a gangster with a conscience is spot on.  Although not the most emotionally dynamic character, Affleck’s tactics work in portraying a man struggling with the trials at hand. Chris Messina as his sidekick has more of an edge that helps offset the monotone delivery of the lead role. Other actors do their job of crafting the seedy mob family, being cunning, ruthless, or strong to accomplish their goals.  If the acting doesn’t sell the gangster setting than the costumes and scenery will do the trick. Live by Night uses the big budget of the film industry to recreate the roaring 20s, complete with old fashioned zoot suits, classic car models, and the nostalgic traditional models of high-end restaurants.  I felt I had traveled back in time in this flick, with only the high definition cameras and a recognition of modern day fabric to shatter the illusion.  Finally, the other component that sells the crime theme is the attention to detail of starting a crime syndicate.  Most other crime movies often have our character in an established family, but Live By Night twists this concept and casts Affleck into raising a satellite family in Florida.  Much of the film is focuses on how he establishes business contracts, allies, love, occasionally throwing in some conflict resolution that brings a little excitement to the film.

 

DISLIKES:

  • Slow pace
  • Awkward Summaries
  • Boring At times
  • Rushed over ending

 

Summary: Although some of my favorite mafia movies don’t have action, they at least have an engaging plot that is suspenseful.  Not the case for this movie. Live by Night is slow, often paying a little too much attention to monotonous details for building the empire.  The film tried to build the suspense with their overdone explanations that promised some heart crushing moments… only to wrap things up with a monologue from Affleck describing what happened.  These mundane, overlapping comments did little for me other than decrease the run time of the movie and I was disappointed at the lack of effort for drama.  The result for me was a very boring film not only in terms of action, but in emotional suspense as well.  If you look at the classics, the storytellers built up tension that climaxed at those gut-wrenching moments as a character was killed.  However in this film, they seldom came close to matching that suspense, the only exception being two moments near the end of the film. And speaking of the ending… it felt out of place for me.  Live By nights “exciting” climax has a heated battle that fits well into the theme of the movie, but finally relieves the boring moments.  Had they ended with the monologue after that it would have been perfect.  Yet, the movie didn’t stop and added an extra twenty minutes that summed things up, but in a manner that to me was very simplistic, rushed, and lackluster. 

 

The VERDICT:

 

Live by Night is a gangster movie that felt more like a video guide to starting a bootlegging operation.  It certainly has the look and feel of a gangster movie, complete with family drama, but it lacks that edge the mobster classics had.  Outside of a few moments, this movie was a little toned down for my tastes, and I didn’t like the monologue summaries as they robbed us of some exciting conclusions.  Therefore, this reviewer can’t recommend this movie for the theater outside of the look of the movie. 

 

My scores are:

 

Crime Drama: 6.5

Movie Overall:  5.0

War Meets Wolf Of Wall Street: Hill and Teller Take On Politics

War Dogs

            Robbie K here, starting the weekend off with what else…a movie review. Tonight we jump into the political drama movie that is about our beloved country and those who try to cheat the system to make excessive amounts of cash. So lets bump past the formalities and dive right into my thoughts on War Dogs starring Jonah Hill and Miles Teller!

 

LIKES:

  • Good chemistry between actors
  • Interesting story
  • Comedy is witty

 

When I saw the trailers for this movie, I shuddered to think of the mess this movie could potentially be. After all, both of the actors (while talented) had not been in any roles that I absolutely loved. Therefore I was nervous to see these cast together and the potential stupidity/annoyance that could have been. To my surprise, these two were great together, having a dynamic relationship that sold the characters to me. Hill’s brash, aggressive nature led the charge of the movie, but was able to be toned down by Teller’s calm, intelligent, and more mature role. Each one was able to balance the other’s extremes and certainly felt like two coworkers/friends cheating the system. Once more I say that alone these guys were good, but together they were excellent.

While the relationship is certainly the driving force of the movie, the story helps keep the pace and suspense going. The story is exactly as sold in the trailers of two young men giving up their mundane jobs to begin selling weapons across the country. Unlike other gun running movies, this film abandons the frontlines for the bank, and feels much like another rendition of the Wolf of Wall Street. Todd Phillips and his team integrated the lives of our characters well into the story while still adding an edge of threat to keep you wondering what would interfere. The many moving pieces keep one engaged in the movie, and while there were components I felt under developed, had enough detail in each to bring things together.

Finally the comedy, I was expecting the comedy to be nothing more than a bunch of one-liners and facial expressions to make the next wave of memes. Truth is…there are plenty of these moments, but surprisingly there is some rather witty dialogue that had me laughing. In particular the banter between the two held plenty of clever insults and jabs at American stereotypes. Hill’s character in particular had more lines I found funny, mainly by his delivery, but Teller’s responses to those lines also assisted with that factor. All-in-all, the comedy has all of the insult and stupidity you expect, but is delivered so well.

 

DISLIKES:

  • Wanted more Ana De Armas moments
  • The F word and comedic antics getting old
  • Underdeveloped parts and the ending

 

My first dislike is the limitation of Ana De Armas’ character. I won’t lie, she is a beautiful woman and was very nice to have on screen (hey I am human after all). But I also really liked her character and how she drove the morals of the story despite all the corruption in this film. That goodness could have really refreshed the movie at some of the slower parts and they could have injected some more suspense in the film by having her in the film. Perhaps she isn’t the most key character in this war/crime drama, but hey it couldn’t have hurt…I think.

To sound like a broken record, the F word does not equal great dialogue or great writing. Yet Hollywood still can’t get that idea through their skulls. War Dogs has moments where it is just one bomb dropped after another, which may not bother you much. Still this reviewer would love the strategic use of the word to maximize its comedy potential, instead of replaying the ploy much like a Hallmark Channel Christmas movie. The same can be said for the comedic ploys in this film, some of which are again beaten to death without much remorse. Jonah Hill’s laugh (which sounded like a mixture between the joker and a donkey) in particular grew stale to me and was more annoying by the tenth time it escaped its lips. Fortunately, there aren’t too many of these stale antics plaguing the riding.

My final limitation was the underdeveloped components of the film. I’ve already stated the Ana De Armas parts, but there were other components I felt were in need of some fine tuning. The Bradley Cooper character I expected to have a bigger role for the price tag he carries and the way they snuck under the government’s nose was a bit farfetched as well. In addition, the fact that this is all based on a Rolling Stone article left me wondering how much was true and how much of this was Hollywood magic and fantasy. And as for the ending, it is a little lackluster and I would have thought more ploy, drama, and actual footage would have been in the film. Not to mention the final scene was ambiguous and unnecessary.

 

The VERDICT

War Dogs was much better than I expected and really portrays the actions some may take to make a quick buck. While certainly not the most original or entertaining movie, the engaging characters will keep you entertained and the dialogue will have you laughing. However, these qualities are not enough to recommend a trip to the theater for most of the audience members. Only those with great capitalistic pride and who don’t mind American political jabs should venture into this movie, otherwise wait for the Redbox rent.

 

My scores:

Comedy/Drama/War: 8.0

Movie Overall: 7.0

Do You Have The Nerve?

Nerve

 

The Internet, it was a revolutionary idea that was designed to connect people and share information to expand our knowledge. And then comes the modern era, where information is second nature in response to entertainment, trolling, and occasionally a uniting purpose. In fact, most of us know how the most popular thing on the internet (past pornography) are vines, memes, and other ranting media. Tonight’s film decides to highlight current Internet trends and makes a story that looks dangerous, thrilling, and fun at the same time. My review is on Nerve starring Emma Roberts and Dave Franco. Let’s get started

 

The GOOD

  • Fun Adventure
  • Great Acting
  • Decent Story

 

When I saw the trailer, I though the movie was going to be more of a serious thriller. Thankfully, I’m very pleased to report Nerve is a very fun movie filled with excitement, energy, and adventure. Our two heroes start their night out performing tasks and stunts that we only dream of performing (for the most part). The dares from the anonymous Watchers are diverse, but mostly remain grounded in the realistic zone. While certainly stupid, and often quite dangerous, our actors looked liked they were enjoying themselves as they became lost in the moment. As a result, I couldn’t help but get reeled into the moments with them and enjoyed the fun atmosphere it painted.

But then like any good movie, the tone switches and soon the fun evening out develops into something much tenser. Multiple tiers begin to form as the mystery unfolds as to what our couple has fallen into. The story takes multiple turns that leads to some decent character development that fits in well with the overall plot. As more secrets are uncovered, the intensity only builds up until it hits a cheesy, overdramatic fight that is both eye rolling and well done at the same time. Nevertheless, the tale takes a few good twists and plays out in a very morale heavy ending. Pay attention and you can see most of the twists coming. Pay really good attention and the audience may learn something that might save the Internet. Again the story is fun, but the twists help save it from becoming another teenage dramedy filled with thrills, chills, and laughs on the way.

And to play out this story is none other than two talented actors who truly brought what looked to be simple characters to life. Emma Roberts portrayal of Venus (yeah interesting name) was fantastic, developing over the course of the film alongside her character. She brought both beauty and emotion to the role and was certainly a fantastic protagonist to follow on this ninety minute journey. Dave Franco as “Ian” was a wonderful counter character who had poise, pizazz, and a sense of suave that was very welcoming. It’s amazing what you can see actors do when they don’t act like idiots (aka Neighbors). Franco’s dynamic acting helped keep his character fun, but also stays in the dark, brooding side that reels you in. The supporting cast was wonderful too, but we need to move onto the limiting factors of this movie.

 

The BAD

  • Not as suspenseful/thrilling as portrayed
  • A few character building moments are rushed
  • A plot point that was kind of worthless

 

Yes I had fun, and the plot did grow darker, but the suspense was much more dilute than the trailers promised. The Watchers certainly were powerful (we are talking well versed in the art of hacking), but their power wasn’t used to its full potential. This mass media entertainment was a bit underwhelming though, whose bark was worse than their bite. I was expecting such expert computer users to lob more threats at the duo, or perhaps pursue them in some Purge like manner. Instead, they chose to use phones as their weapons and film everything that was happening. Sure the phone angle provided some interesting shots and allowed for integration of famous accidents.

In addition, there were some character development moments that also were a bit underdone. Ian himself has a traumatic past, and you would think facing his fears would have a bit more I don’t know struggle to it. Instead, his challenges were a bit blown over, washed away in a fast pace that could have been more. Fortunately Venus’s drama has more gusto behind it and her obstacles require more bravado to overcome. Unfortunately, she has some plot points that were practically worthless despite the setup at the beginning of the movie. There were few explanations to some of the family dynamics, the struggle for choosing a school wasn’t as big an issue, and her introverted nature disappeared rather quickly. Oh well, at least we got plenty of fun thrills and a good morale lesson right?

 

The VERDICT

 

Despite the shortcoming, Nerve is definitely one of the more fun and thrilling adventures I have seen in a long time. The dynamic duo of Roberts and Franco are the shining factor for this reviewer, who really brought the energetic fun vibe to the screen. In addition the multiple levels of the plot also made for some engaging moments, and some rather suspenseful moments. Sure there are some missing/blown over moments, but for the most part this adventure gets a seal of approval for unique fun. Worth a trip to theater? I’m going to have to say yes it is.

 

My scores:

Adventure/Crime/Mystery: 8.5

Movie Overall: 8.0

The Stunts Draw the Eye, but The story Asks Why

now you see 2

Robbie K back again, and this time with the third review of the week. This installment focuses on yet another sequel to grace the silver screen and one I never expected, or wanted, to come. My review is on Now You See Me 2, as you can guess from my posting, an attempt to follow up on the successful thriller from 2013. But can this film follow a truly great act? Or is this merely another money making scheme whose name overshadows the quality. Let’s get to the review to find out.

If you remember the first movie, it was a crime/thriller with an underlying mystery that came to a well-concluded end. How do you top that?  Naturally, come up with an even more intriguing mystery and throw in a little vengeance on top of that. Now You See Me 2 takes place merely a year after the last installment and focuses on uncovering the mystery of the Eye, the organization that recruited our “heroes” in the first installment, who may have set them up for failure. The plot is certainly intriguing, and the team manages to throw those famous curve balls we saw in the first film. While the mystery isn’t quite as good as the first one, and the thrills are a bit stale, it makes for an intriguing story nonetheless. My mind was constantly trying to decipher how deep the rabbit hole went and just who was in cahoots when it came to dismantling the team. In addition, they added some of the character development that the last installment lacked, some of which was good and some of which was cornier than a corn maze at a harvest festival.

Outside of the mystery, the vengeance part is so-so in terms of quality. Multiple people have a vendetta against our crew and they go through extraordinary lengths to get it done. However, one of the new characters Walter (Daniel Radcliffe) was not the villain to do so and was more annoying than menacing. Regardless the plot against them wasn’t as suspenseful and a mediocre attempt to try and keep you on your seats as if there were harm to your characters. I applaud them at the good attempt, and appreciate the somewhat emotional twist at the end (which made some of the events in the first movie irrelevant), the vengeance plot was merely a scaffolding for impressive stunts.

But it’s the stunts and magic that really draw the eye in this film. Like the last installment, number 2 has plenty of convoluted plans that show some serious imagination and cleverness. Fans will be pulled into the confusion of how the gang ended up where they were, only to be wowed by the thorough explanation of how the trick was pulled off. When you pull in the fantastic use of CGI, the stunts only get more impressive as our magicians disappear in ways you only dream about. But again the realistic factor sometimes gets drowned out when a convenient opening appears for our group to take (e.g. a box magically collapsing, a trap door in the middle of a crowded street, or a mirror suddenly appearing). These moments are again cool, but a bit eye rolling when they wrap it up with one sentence, which boils down to “we wanted something cool, but we could only do it sloppily.” Overall though, these stunts prove imagination is not dead, and that originality can come in the simplest forms.

In terms of the casting, this is another major strength of the movie. Eisenberg reprises his role as Atlas who still has the chip on his shoulder and ego issues. The snarky comments are fun and funny, but for once I felt it was a bit diluted compared to some of his other roles. Woody Harrelson as the hypnotist was a grand addition and provided some of the funniest moments on the screen with his banter and dialogue. The jokes get a bit tired, but all in all his role in this film has greatly improved. Dave Franco took a bigger role in this one, bringing humor, looks, and a charming story that I really enjoyed. And Mark Ruffalo, well a little sappier and less humor, but it works on a different level than his original character. As for newcomer Lula (Lizzy Caplan), at first she was annoying and too over acted (an attempt at using the shallow comedy for laughs), but then she grew on me and started becoming a much more integral cog into the mix. As for Radcliffe, the actor is still solid in his abilities, but the direction of his character was more whiny brat than anything else and somewhat of a waste of his talents (think Deathly Hallows Part 1 and 2 movie). Despite the flaws though, the cast really supports one another and makes for an entertaining team.

Overall Now You See Me 2 is a fun, entertaining sequel that I enjoyed. The stunts are exciting, the plans convoluted, and the acting is top notch on most grounds. While the story isn’t quite as thrilling, and there are components that didn’t work for me, it still outshines most of the stuff that hits the theaters these days. I recommend a theater visit for this one as well, but you’ll probably get the most out of your money if you rent in about three months. Regardless, enjoy the show and may it be as entertaining to you as it was for me.

 

My scores:

Action/Comedy/Thriller: 8

Movie Overall: 7

Much Like Taken, This Film is An Entertaining Action Flick

Run All Night

            It’s hard to remember time when Liam Neeson wasn’t playing the loose canon agent role. But unfortunately with the way Hollywood works, it seems we are going to continue seeing this part for many years to come. His latest gung ho adventure is entitled Run All Night, a movie that snuck up on me until just last month. After seeing the trailers, quite a few times, here is what I, and maybe you, have come to expect:

  • Liam Neeson playing his typical role
  • Lots of exciting gunplay and action
  • A typical crime/drama plot of some sort

As always, my job is to do my best to inform you about what you get. So here we go.

  1. If you haven’t grown tired of Liam Neeson playing the fearless bad boy than chances are you won’t be disappointed with this role. This time around he plays Jimmy, a hit man for his best friend Sean (Ed Harris) who runs a corrupt set of businesses that essentially cover the city. As always, his character has some traumatic past that has ripped away his emotions, with only one or two things to keep him tethered to his life. Neeson still brings that intense, smooth, isotonic tone to the big screen, seldom deviating from the voice that won so many in Taken. It’s old hat by now, so don’t expect too much difference other than he is not the hero in this tale.
  1. Also carrying over is the typical action that Neeson is associated with these days. Now I admit this action is not consistent between films, but for the most part they follow a similar formula. Fortunately, director Jaume Collet-Serra decided to return to the action roots of Taken and learning to balance gunplay with plot. Fans will enjoy the epic stunts pulled off in this movie including a fast and furious car chase, strategic fleeing from an army of cops, and shoot outs spread throughout the entire New York city scape. While it is still amazing how accurate our hero is, the bad guys for once aren’t completely incompetent when working a gun. Jimmy and his son (Joel Kinnaman) take a near brush with death once or twice in this film. With the lack of immortality that is usually bestowed to our heroes, the suspense of this movie kept me intrigued. Even better was the introduction of different types of thugs ranging from nameless henchmen to special grade professional killers (aka rapper Common). The thugs bring about their own set of skills that Jimmy has to fend off and brings some diversity to a series that is desperately needing it. What else does that mean for you? Lots of blood and close up shots of Jimmy taking down bad guys one body at a time.
  1. The plot itself has the same structural framework of Neeson’s character being pulled into some dark scheme that he has to shoot his way out of. The twist this time is a vendetta that is set up when Jimmy shoots his best friend’s son, who was already in a lot of mess before the movie. A simplistic tale of protecting family and shooting bad guys follows, which should please many an action fan alike. The plot is balanced with just enough details to keep the action going, but not dragged out to ebb the adrenaline. Despite it being predictable, I must say that this movie is one of the better Neeson films in terms of character development. Sure there are some details that are skimped or left unanswered, and some plot elements are quite redundant and unnecessary. However, for the most part the information is kept in check and supportive for the whole movie and a decent action plot nonetheless.
  1. I can say the sound and video editing are also well designed in this movie. The camera work, for the most part, is steady and stable, capturing all the glorious action for you to see. Fans may jump out of their seat, either in joy or fear, as the guns blare in glorious high definition, the bullets ricocheting off the numerous metallic walls. In addition, the editing team also did a great job finding shots that helped add a subtle taste of drama to the mix, once or twice attempting to fool you as to what would happen. The team also managed to do all this in a convenient 105 minutes, something that most movies fail to accomplish.

I could talk more about things like acting, but aside from Liam Neeson most aren’t going to care about the assembled cast. So why don’t we wrap this review up. Run All Night is a decent movie that brings the adrenaline of Taken rushing back to you. Neeson’s typical character will lead you on an adventure that should please action junkies until Fast 7 arrives. While the story could use some more development in terms of characters, it is not the worst plot I’ve ever seen. Still fans of the Scottish actor’s past films are not going to want to miss this movie as it stands high on my list of his movies. Worth a trip to the theater? For the special effects and movie magic, I have to say yes. However, you could probably get by watching Taken at home until the movie comes out on Netflix.

As always here are my scores:

 

Action/Crime/Drama: 7.5

Movie Overall: 7.0