Does It Equal The First One

The Equalizer 2 Poster

 

It is the age of movie transitions, and the age of passing torches to the younger generation in hopes of establishing new legends into the mix.  Yet, it doesn’t mean that the current legends have faced their last mission.  Tonight’s movie review proves the case as the incredible Denzel Washingtonleads another movie, in hopes of bringing the success to a sequel. Can the man who made so many epic films do it again, or is this a series that needed to retire?  Let’s get into it as I review:

 

The Equalizer 2 (2018)

 

Director:

Antoine Fuqua

Writers:

Richard Wenk,  Michael Sloan (based on the television series created by)

Stars:

Denzel Washington,  Pedro Pascal,  Ashton Sanders

 

 

LIKES:

 

Acting:  Denzel is a good actor, we all know this.  His ability to play these hardened, battle scarred, internally struggling super soldiers never fails to impress, and I always enjoy his intensity when playing these characters.  Still with the finesse delivery, Denzel’s ability to deliver his dialogue is magnificent, brings inspiration and motivation to many.  Ashton Sandersachieved his role quite well, not quite as motivational, but certainly capturing the struggling artist motif of his character. A nice balance was struck between these two, which established a dynamic relationship between these two.  The rest did fine in their parts, but it was these two who held most of the screen time.

 

The Realism:  It’s an action movie, but it is grounded into the realm of reality.  Equalizer 2 does have some tense moments to spice things up, but it doesn’t resort to flashy special effects and physics defying moves to do it… mostly.  This film sticks to tactic combat, utilizing skills and the mind to play a deadly game that will deal the justice you want. While they are limited through much of the movie, the end game is where this strategy is really capitalized on it. In addition, if a player gets injured, they don’t recover quickly so that helps keep things exciting.

 

The Second Half Pace: The movie really takes off at the half way point, taking the steam to push them into the action/thriller component. Once the movie hits into this realm, it finally gets super interesting and engaging, amping up the tension and trying to keep you guessing at what will happen next.  And even better… it actually doesn’t feel like the movie is dragging by this point.

 

The Character Development: Surprisingly, the movie opens up Denzel’s character to help explain more of the backstory that molded him into the super assassin hiding behind the chiseled features.  I did enjoy learning more about the central protagonists haunting past, but also in seeing him evolve, so that he may overcome his struggles and attempt to move on to something else.  It fits well with the movie series, and shows potential for any future installments they may try to make.

 

The Dialogue:  Hands down though, my favorite part is the dialogue/writing of the movie.  Not so much in terms of story, Equalizer 2 wins points for inspirational words that only Denzel can maximize.  It’s writing that fits very well into the theme/premise of the movie, almost as if Denzel is defending the audience and trying to make them better.  Even Sanders lines are decently developed, fitting his character well and doing the lifting of establishing relationships and connecting Denzel to the characters.  Hands down this was the solidifying factor that tied the movie together.

 

DISLIKES:

 

The Pace of the First Part: It helps get the movie established in that Robin Hood like atmosphere, but it dragged for me.  Equalizer 2 needs some major pushing to get us to the good stuff, with a few action appetizers to try and hold your energy.  It’s not the slowest opening, but editing could have taken some time to trim the fat and help tighten the story.

 

Predictability:  It’s easy to figure out what’s going to happen… not much more I can say about that.  The trailers have done a decent amount of revealing, but those that haven’t seen it should have no trouble figuring this out.

 

The Action:  Realistic as it may be, the action is still not quite as spiced up as the trailers tried to make it be.  Impressive as tactical combat is, the movie still doesn’t quite have all the energy and excitement I like in a film (which is often fast paced gunplay with lots of boom).  While I still did enjoy the slower combat, I would have liked to see more of it, as there are huge gaps between short lived bouts that make for a slower movie.  Yet, if you are a fan of the most recent Borne Film, you should have no problems with this presentation.

 

Story:  My least favorite aspect though is the story.  I’m not saying Equalizer 2’s tale is horrible, or the worst thing ever, but I also don’t think it is the most groundbreaking either.  The opening feels like a charity meets Robin Hood approach, a sort of toned down Death Wish to establish the setting.  After that though, I struggled with appreciating the four subplots interweaving with each other to try and craft an overall plot.  True, this multi-tiered approach opened avenues for character development, however the main plot of vengeance took many detours that felt skipped at times.  When the rabbit hole’s bottom was reached, it wound up being very lackluster, realistic and certainly making a point, but nothing that had my eyes bugging wide. Even worse, when the exciting climax did happen, the bite sort of fell out of the antagonist.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Equalizer 2 is better overall for me, though I won’t lie that it was missing that original component (e.g. clever trap battles in hardware stores) the first movie had.  It’s got great heart, fantastic writing, and smarter acting, which makes it a prime target for thriller/spy/crime dramas that have toned down action.  However, the pacing, surprise, and story of the movie require some redrawing for the next installment to really maximize the modern-day vigilante genre.  If you are a Denzel fan, I’m not going to stop you from hitting this film up, and if you are looking for a thriller/action this movie is the one.  However, I do recommend waiting for home rental on this one to maximize your funds. 

 

My scores are:

 

Action/Thriller/Crime: 7.0

Movie Overall: 6.5

 

 

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Trying To Build To New Heights, But Only Climbs So High

Skyscraper Poster

 

Disaster movies and action kind of go hand in hand, but seldom does it involve more than trying to dodge whatever artificial natural disaster the Hollywood directors deem up.  Today’s movie review focuses on a film that tries to blur the lines between the two a little better, in what will hopefully be a new twist on the action/disaster movie frontier.  Utilizing the popular leading man of Dwayne Johnsonto carry the movie, there seems to be hope that this Die-Hard copier can potentially bring enough bucks in to get the attention of the modern era.  Does it work? Robbie K here to bring you yet another review this time on:

 

Movie: Skyscraper (2018)

 

Director:

Rawson Marshall Thurber

Writer:

Rawson Marshall Thurber

Stars:

Dwayne Johnson,  Neve Campbell,  Pablo Schreiber

 

 

LIKES:

 

The Special Effects: The leading point of the movie is the impressive display of CGI in this movie.  Perhaps a little corny at times, the movie really invested well in high definition sound to rattle the theater as the chaos of the crime unfolds. Excessive computer-generated images are the key to bringing the inferno to life, but is still beautiful rendered to design a building that will only be fiction for a short while.  The world crafting gets kudos for me, and will hopefully impress you as well.

 

The Realism:  Despite there being some fiction behind this movie, it is a little more grounded to the real world than one might expect.  The “Pearl” is a building that will soon exist, a setting that is perfect to craft a surprisingly detailed plot.  As the scheme continues to evolve, the realism continues to remain in check, finding kinks in the plot and having to adapt. In addition, even the action keeps things believable, where if a character takes a hit, they actually suffer in terms of performance.  All of this adds to suspense of the film and engaged to this adapted plot.

 

Character Involvement: A movie with as many characters always has me worried about how much involvement they have in the plot.  Die Hard did it correctly as each character had their place and contributions that actually mattered, and fortunately this copy did the same thing.  Most of the characters act as their piece to the puzzle, keeping them integrated into the plot for the entirety of the film and doing a decent job of tying up all loose ends.  Even more so, the characters are designed to cover a wide variety of ages, ethnicities, and genre lovers.

 

Good Pace:  The movie movies quickly, gets the suspense going, and does little to try to slow things down.  For guys like me, the movie rocks in terms of few slow parts and keeps the intensity amped up to a level of ten and that just makes for a fun movie in my opinion.

 

DISLIKES:

 

The Lack of Beginning: The pace may be good in terms of excitement, but I am with many of my friends in that plot development is also key. Skyscraper’s beginning is almost nonexistent, all the set up skipped over to get to the action and drop any chance of escaping the predictable plot line off the ledge within 15 minutes. Any chance at suspense build up is practically gone and the story actually takes a hit because of that. If you’re not in for the story, then you will glaze over this, but for those looking for a little bit of both worlds don’t expect much of an opening.

 

The Plot Gaps:  For a building that secure and advanced, you would think there would be more contingency plans than the one they had here.  This gap is just one example of the stretches and details you have to ignore to fully enjoy the movie.  In addition, there are feats of strength, stamina, and physics defying moves that are also a little cheesy for the fans who love those extremes.  As these gaps happen, the movie moves quickly to try and forget about them, but still the movie could have used some refining at points.

 

The Jumps:  This was advertised immensely in the trailers and marketing, but the film has that extreme jump that we have grown accustomed to. Yet the movie took that concept and milked it for all its worth.  Skyscraper tries to pay homage to Die Hard in many ways, and while it fits into the grand scheme of the movie, the film goes a little overboard with the gimmicks. All the sacrificing brings that bang for your buck, but in terms of story it’s only okay for me.

 

The Villains Development: I’ll give them props, they have made a better villain than many movies have as of late in the form of Botha (Roland Møller). And while this one of the better villains, it still needed more work in his character development.  Comparing to its inspiration source, the villain started giving us some deeper levels, but then it tapered out and he went back to the generic villain.  A little more insight and integration could have done wonders to expand the tale even more.  Even his side kicks and team held promise, but again they too were overshadowed by the protagonist’s tale, screen time, and jumps.

 

The Action:  Did it fit with the tale?  Yes.  Was it realistic?  Yes. Was it exciting?  Depends.  Skyscraper’s battles are decently coordinate, but much of this lacks the bite that other movies have had.  They are quickly executed, very simplistic, and sometimes a bit overdone in my opinion, but this movie’s feeling of trying to survive the manmade disaster I guess takes precedence over the gun fight.  Not the worst action, but definitely room for improvement.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Skyscraper is an example of impressive movie theater worthy special effects, and surprisingly stays on the realistic qualities these franchises often ignore.  I give it applause for integration of characters, and Johnson doing a fabulous job leading the film.  Still the movie is a diluted piece compared to the movie it copies so much of and therefore needed some amping up in terms of story, villain development and action. Perhaps a little less jumping and a little more time could have given this tale the needed oomph to rock it into higher scores.  Still the effects do render it a good theater film, but if you don’t want this kind of movie… save it until you get home. 

 

My scores are:

 

Action/Crime/Drama: 7.0

Movie Overall: 5.0

The Road To El Soldado: Paved With Details, Character Development, and Edge

Sicario: Day of the Soldado Poster

 

Sequels come and sequels come, and tonight is no different as the Sicario saga continues with yet another movie to its franchise.  After an interesting start, the trailers painted this one much more on the action side as renegade cops go to fight against the cartels of Mexico.  Did the dark seedy underbelly unleash into Die Hard like antics, or did it take another path.  Robbie K is back with another movie review as he tackles:

 

Movie: Sicario: The Day of Soldado (2018)

 

Director:

Stefano Sollima

Writer:

Taylor Sheridan

Stars:

Benicio Del Toro,  Josh Brolin,  Isabela Moner

 

 

LIKES:

 

The Darkness:  A movie like this requires pushing the limits of comfort and Sicario saga dives right back into the seedy underbelly to accomplish this goal.  The dark atmosphere of the movie opens it up for a lot of twists and turns, and keep one guessing what will happen next to our band of “heroes”.  In terms of character development, the movie’s edge cuts away the safety barriers to reveal deeper avenues to cut down to discover more about our players.

 

The Story:  Sicario has been primarily focused on exploring more into the characters than the situation itself and it continues this trend in spades.  Del Toro’s character takes most of the stage, but Moner and Brolin get ample screen time alongside a few other secondary characters to connect this Tex-Mex soap opera cast together.  Pay attention to the deeper arcs, and you will find stories that should hopefully grip into you and pull you in. 

 

The Realism: Hollywood magic is fairly absent in this movie, as Sicario does its best to keep reality grounded into its mix. No major flashy, orchestra infused sequences that shake the screens and speakers.  It’s just straight up exploration and survival in the Mexican desert, and the savage symbolism it provides.  Even when things get a little more exciting, the fights feel like a military skirmish instead of a choreographed battle that guys like me love. 

 

The Acting:  By far, the acting is the solid point of this movie. A balanced demonstration of rugged military edge with terror is all mixed into this film and they play it beautifully.  Brolin doesn’t veer much from his rugged, singular emotion, but it works in regards to the character he is chosen to portray (military leader in charge of dirty work). Moner has the cartel princess down, snobby and fierce, yet vulnerable and capable of crumbling when the world is shaken.  No surprise, it’s Del Toro who kind of wins the acting nomination this round.  Still filled with candor and a reserved fighting force that is ready to strike and accomplish the goals set by the program. Yet, the side once gone, starts to rear its head, and helps establishes deeper character bonds to help things out. All the acting accomplishes the goal of bringing the characters to life perfect for this character centric film series.

 

The Justice:  There are plenty of moments where that justice we wish would happen… actually happen and these moments plain out rock.  I can’t say much more than that so let’s move on to the dislikes.

 

DISLIKES:

 

The Pace:  The movie isn’t quite as fast as its predecessor, and that can be taxing depending on how late your viewing starts.  It works to explain the details and tie up loose ends, therefore taking up time to try and connect all the dots.  Sadly, that pace, without the full excitement, does not lead to the most exciting film of the night, and you may be fighting sleep or boredom.

 

Jargon/Politically Heavy: The movie’s talking parts have some deeper story elements, but it is mostly focused on the strategy and political warfare that the drug busting operation is.  You’ll need to keep your wits sharp, your ears turned on, and your attention fully paid or you might just get confused about all the players’ parts in this film.

 

Some stretches:  The movie’s complicated and convoluted execution sometimes has to stretch a few things to get to its goal.  Sometimes it’s turning the blind eye to ignorance, and sometimes it’s the rapid change of character, but Soldado’s road is bumpy with these ignorant moments or sudden changes.  Not awful, and not too much of a stretch, but still something you would have liked to see covered in.

 

Story Elements Dropped: The movie is about bringing terrorists across the border, at least that is the excuse to start this whole mess. So perhaps you would expect more of this factor to come in, but that wasn’t the case as this element disappeared. As the webs of deception, backstabbing, and hidden agendas start to entangle together, these plots points start to become shortened and sometimes quickly resolving.  Needed a little more wrap up and integration for my tastes, but perhaps number three will take the cake.

 

More Action:  The trailer sold me on the loose cannon cops going after the dark masters of the illegal smuggling business and that was what I wanted.  Yet, while realistic the sequences were surprisingly low key, very short lived, and often quite one-dimensional.  Why this was the case?  I don’t know the answer, but I longed for a little more bite to help liven up the scenes and break up the mundane, text heavy dialogue.  So, let’s get that bite back please and add a little magic to the mix to get things stoked up again.

 

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Overall, Sicario is a solid installment in the Crime/Thriller genre.  It continues the trend of focusing on the characters, trying to extend their lives and keep the program alive and relevant.  Those looking for the realism and planning components to deceptive operations will absolutely love this movie and the layers that it has established.  Yet, the movie still does not meet the speed requirements that the trailers established, nor the action components.  It has the potential to set up for a great sequel, but you need to be ready for a more grounded movie to be entertained.  Good for kids?  Not at all, not only due to the darker themes, but the pacing is not going to work.  Worth a trip to the theater?  If you want a deeper, character centric plot yes, but wait for next week when a new round of blockbusters start. 

 

My scores are:

 

Action/Crime/Drama: 7.5

 

Movie Overall: 6.0

Wanted Luxury And Got Decent: Checking In For A One Night Stay

Hotel Artemis Poster

            What does crime, medicine, and dramas all have in common? Well outside of certain episodes of ER and Grey’s Anatomy, not much to be honest.  However, today those three genres mix together to bring you another movie that will hopefully bring with it some suspense, a little creativity, and some originality that Hollywood needs.  Welcome to another Robbie’s movie review and today we review:

 

Movie: Hotel Artemis

 

Director:

Drew Pearce

Writer:

Drew Pearce

Stars:

Jodie Foster,  Sofia Boutella,  Dave Bautista

 

LIKES:

 

  • Acting
  • Character Dynamics
  • Sofia Boutella and Sterling Brown’s Characters
  • Realistic Setting
  • Action Scene

 

Summary:  Hotel Artemis is a movie largely dependent on its characters, which fortunately are brought to life by the fantastic talents of the various cast members recruited for the project.  Leading roles by Foster, Boutella  and Sterling K. Brownare by far the most in depth and worthy of billing, but even the supporting characters like Bautista and Charlie Daywho bring their usual styles to the mix to alleviate some of the more somber moments.

As the actors bring it to life, the character dynamics start to awaken, establishing the realm of crime in the near-future LA and just how fickle trust can be in the underworld.  Those dynamics by far are the driving force of the movie, trying to help figure out how each of the pawns are connected and what will drive them in this high stakes hospital.  Perhaps it’s the setting itself that forces this evolution of characters, as the dingy oasis from the riot outsides places numerous pressure on the group.  As the outside world grows wilder (documented by occasional news blurbs), the characters are forced to interact and face their own dilemmas.  It’s a well-done drama that doesn’t pull any punches in the 2 hour run time so that it may establish so much.

I mentioned in pre-reviews that this movie looked to have some action to further spur the story on and for the most part… that is not the case.  Yet, there is one action scene in particular led by the sexy assassin herself, that is just epic, tense, and a great fit into the story that feels pertinent to the tale as a whole.  I wished there was more of these moments, but that wasn’t the direction they wanted to go.

 

DiSLIKES:

  • Slow at times
  • Charlie Day/Quinto Rants
  • Underutilization of characters/actors
  • More Action
  • Darker Violence
  • Background flops

 

Like some of the more popular dramas on television, Hotel Artemis’ drama is all about try to build tension through the characters and have politics, emotional fervor, and affairs be the selling point. This takes time to adequately develop, and given all the convoluted ties in this movie, it means a pace that isn’t quite adrenaline fueled. Hotel Artemis has its slow points, that easily could have been tightened to reduce the run time or potentially add some more tension/urgency to the mix.  Had there been more action to speed it up, the pace may not have been as much of a low point for me, but I fought sleep a couple of times.

In addition, a few of the directions that the characters were taken were not my favorite renditions I wanted to see.  Primarily in Quinto and Day’s characters, these players in Artemis’ game are more annoying than engaging, leaving me disappointed with the little contribution they played.  Day just rants and curses like someone hopped on coffee, Red Bull, and methamphetamine, while Quinto is just a big baby.  Not quite as fitting given the other portrayals of the crime gang.  Even worse, a few of the characters are super left out, reduced to a few, unmemorable lines or weak character ploys to get to the climax faster.  Jeff Goldblum’s character was one of these guys, and my fears of too many characters came true.

Which brings me to perhaps my biggest dislike of the film, the rushed background stories and flops.  The Nurse’s story is one of the heavy hitters, mysterious and emotionally charged, you expect it to be the epicenter of the movie.  And while it was a key connector, much of the backstory was not that impressive, alliterated, and lacking any major surprise/mind blowing component.  When the big revelation comes… you almost miss the clues and by this point I was done with all the planning, I needed the climactic finish.  Fortunately Nice and Waikiki’s tale had a little more to it, but even then it was only a superficial scratch to what lied below.  All the potential was kind of flown over, therefore this was the disappointment factor for me.

 

 

The VERDICT: 

 

            Hotel Artemis is weird and dark, no doubt about it, and truth be told it is a crime/drama with characters that are the central pillar to the story.  Despite a fantastic cast acting their brains out and a character centric plot, Artemis’s main flaws come from not having enough time to fully utilize everyone they wanted, and it resulted in plot teasers that could be expanded on in the future (perhaps in a sequel no doubt).  Such complications were only exacerbated by the slower pace, that begs for more suspense, tension, and action to bring it to life.  Truth be told, this could have been better done as a television series than a solo movie, given them hours to further map out the conspiracy web. Overall, not worth the trip to the theater to be honest, but worth the rent if you are into the alternative Sci-Fi/crime scene.

 

My scores are:

 

Action/Crime/Thriller:  7.0

Movie Overall 6.0

 

This Gringo Was Not The Heffe

Gringo.jpg

 

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

 

LIKES:

 

-David Oyelowo Acting

-Morale dilemma

-Funny at times

-Fast-Paced

 

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

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

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

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

 

DISLIKES:

 

-Curse heavy dialogue

-Not as funny as I had hoped

-Much ruined by trailers

-A little chaotic at the end

 

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

 

 

The VERDICT:

 

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

 

My scores are:

 

Action/Comedy/Crime:  7.0

Movie Overall: 6.0

 

When You Wish Upon A Gun

Death Wish

 

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

 

LIKES:

 

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!

 

DISLIKES:

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.

 

 

The VERDICT:

 

            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

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