Does This Film Have Rhythm

The Rhythm Section Poster

 

The history of spy thrillers is much like the characters we have come to know and love, filled with various identities that range in quality.  Depending on the type of edge and style that is mixed with the thriller though (deep seated espionage and character development vs. gun slinging escapades) the fan base is very mixed on the quality of the film.  Tonight, one such movie tries to take a shot at it in hopes of being a memorable addition to the movie.  With a trailer that looked slow and gritty, I can’t say I was looking forward to it, but several movies have surprised me in the recent months.  Robbie K here ready to share his thoughts, as we look at:

 

Movie:  The Rhythm Section (2020)

 

Director:

Reed Morano

Writers:

Mark Burnell (screenplay by), Mark Burnell

Stars:

Blake LivelyJude LawSterling K. Brown

 

 

LIKES:

  • A Different Character Development
  • A Decent Mystery Component
  • More Focused Spy Thriller
  • Good Performances Given Limited Range
  • A Decent Look At the Morals That Come With Revenge

 

DISLiKES:

 

  • The Lack Of Major Interaction With Family
  • Time Warp Skip
  • Convenient Forgetting Of Skills
  • A Little Drawn Out
  • Action Scenes A Little Too Plain
  • Some Shaky Camera Scenes
  • Jude Laws Mixed Involvement
  • Some Rather Intense Torture Moments

 

 

SUMMARY

 

There are a lot of nuances about this film that are difficult to describe, but I’ll do my best.  The film focuses a lot more on character development than action (as expected from the film), but the movie takes a different seat in developing not so much the back story, but the dive into the new life that Lively’s character takes.  It’s a dive into the darker aspects and morals that come with a revenge tale and while a bit cliché I give the director props for his choices in diving into that dark place.  The constant turmoil of decisions, the reflection of the lives she holds in her hands, and the ever-driving fuel of revenge are all balanced in a manner that is quite gripping for those that like being into the mind of the protagonist.  Yet, as the psyche of the character begins to develop, the story also starts to develop a few other components spy movies are notorious for portraying.  For one thing, there is a decent mystery component in discovering the identity of the person behind the whole ordeal and who is friend vs. foe.  I nearly had the twist, so it hopefully it will give you a mind teaser to drive your interest into the film.  As you can guess, the focus of this film is all about the espionage component, using more tricks of the trade and seduction than actual gun play and combat.  Fight scenes are realistic to support it and again, the movie has realistic flavor to it and should please those type of fans.  It’s all brought to life by a decent spectrum of acting.  Law comes out sort of an edgier version of his character from Captain Marvel, whose dialogue and opening moments work very well for me.  Brown’s character has a more cornerstone moment, and utilizes the drama repertoire from his television days to good use.  No surprise, it’s Lively who sells much of the movie, with a character that has stacked components to it and shows her ability to handle a darker, somber roles.  There are times where it’s a little cheesy and drawn out, but overall I liked her skills.

 

Now onto some of the things I wasn’t a big fan of, for there were several in this movie.  For one thing the whole story is based on her love of the family driving her actions, but this film did not do the backstory well.  Dropped to lots of repetitive shots of silently interacting with her family, the interaction with the family is more repetition and tearing up from Lively than sustenance acting, a shame given the potential I had hoped to see.  Still, the thirst for revenge seems to be able to get someone trained super-fast, because without the dialogue cue I would not have much knowledge of the time span of this film.  The realistic nature of the film drops out at this quick pace of progression to develop skills that supposedly take years to master.  It is funny, because those skills are surprisingly dropped at convenient times to help make the plot work, something that made me roll my eyes a bit given how much they bragged about it. This is something that I don’t quite think is the right component for a spy skill feature.  You can probably guess this as well, but the lack of major action or even moving plot with a super villain made this movie feel a little slow for me too, and the gritty nature of the film did not help to add energy to the movie.

This takes me to the next point the action scenes themselves.  Given this is no James Bond, the Rhythm Section’s action is again more realistic, where injury and blows leave debilitating marks instead of just some boo boos.  While this is nice to see, it leads to these moments being a little too plain for me, with clichéd chases, less suspense and only a little bit of excitement added to it.  Part of this had to do with the shaky camera work, which while not the worst, really was not needed to help add to the suspense ,when that money could have gone to better coordination.  In addition, the man who trained her and seems to be going to the depths of hell with her in the trailer, is really not used that much either.  While Jude Law maximizes his scenes, I was disappointed in the way they handled the character and relationship of the two at times, which again was disappointing given the start the film had.  Finally, those with weak constitutions need to skip out on this film, because the fights and training may be a bit too close to traumatic experiences to be enjoyed. 

 

The VERDICT:

            The Rhythm Section is not going to be the film for everyone, because it’s a slower, drier spy thriller that really focuses on the espionage and not the action.  Lively leads the film with a good performance, diving into the madness of revenge while helping figure out the true evil that caused her such grief.  If that’s the kind of spy thriller you desire this movie is going to be for you.  However, if you are like me, this appreciation of the spy class needs a little tweaking with a better pace, less convenient dropping of skills, a time lapse that is not to be believed, and better use of Law were all needed to take this film to its true potential.  While not awful, the movie still did not meet the surprise I really wanted leading to this movie being mediocre for this reviewer.  I believe, the movie is best left to a home view to maximize your potential, unless you really are a big Blake Lively fan, then you can knock yourself out. 

 

My scores are:

 

Action/Drama/Mystery:  6.5

Movie Overall:  5.0

Joining The Aimless, Action Packed Hunt

The Predator Poster

 

In 1987, a new science fiction icon was established, an apex hunter that proved its merit by tackling the threat of mercenaries led by America’s action star Arnold Schwarzenegger.  Yes, it was Predator, the franchise about alien hunters setting out to… well I guess hunt. Filled with gore, cheesy stories, and interesting technology, the Predator franchise has continued to secure its foothold in science fiction community, continuing to please the super fans in its numerous media. Tonight’s review is on the latest addition to the field, with a gigantic cast, a controversial media story, and what looks to be another special effects fest.  Robbie K is back with another review as he gives his opinions on:

 

Movie: The Predator (2018)

Director:

Shane Black

Writers:

Fred DekkerShane Black

Stars:

Boyd HolbrookTrevante RhodesJacob Tremblay

 

 

LIKES:

 

Acting (primarily Olivia Munn and Jacob Tremblay):  It’s a star-studded cast loaded with talent. And this rag tag band of crazy mercenaries feels like a modern assortment of the classic squad. While more diverse than our original group, this squad had enough bite to their acting to make the characters diverse, and the crazy believable as they brought the hammer down.  While I nod my head to all performances, Olivia Munnand Jacob Tremblay were my favorites, their character balanced, involved, and the performances detailed in their respective quirks. 

 

The Special Effects: The evolution of technology means flashier graphics, bigger explosions, and more detailed imaginations coming to life. No surprise, The Predator is back and abusing the heck out of the computer generating images, crafting deadlier, more brutal aliens who are ready to kill in the goriest ways.  Fluid movements, detailed costumes and designs that are brought into beautiful displays, and technology that is the edgiest arsenal we have seen.  These effects are going to immerse you into the hunt, and really drop you into the blood bath that this series has been famous for.

 

The Story (kind of): Okay, it’s not the most basic of the predator stories, and it has sort of diverged from the straightforward kill for thrills that the franchise has bathed in for years.  It attempts to springboard a new connecting arc, that attempts to give a point past the hunt, and parts of it really did work for me as they connect the series.  As such, the series could utilize this new story element to bring with it a new turn of events, it just depends on the execution components.

 

The Comedy: Half the cast is from the comedy genre era, so you were expecting laughs.  The Predator has some nicely timed, clever jokes unleashed like a laser blast from the Predator’s cannon.  References to the first film, famous movie tropes, and some insult comedy go a long way in this film, many of which work to relief the bloody tension that comes with the thriller.

 

The Predator Feel: While not the most traditional of the bunch, The Predator still has much of the same components you love of the series. The Gore, the overkills, and the grandiose displays of gunplay vs. alien technology are there to keep you engaged in the bunch.  It is ridiculous, it is over the top, and brings with it a lot of satisfying Predator goodness that was established back in the 80s.

 

The Action:  I’ve hit the nail on the head multiple times, but I have to say that this installment has the fastest paced and the greatest number of sequences of the film.  The Predator takes many potshots at the action angle, utilizing the chaos to bring about more chaos in an attempt to keep our heart pumping fast.  Some of these fights are off the chain exciting, while others don’t quite live up to the snuff.  Nevertheless, the pace is thrilling to keep you engaged in the film.

 

DISLIKES:

The Sloppy Character Development:  It’s a Predator movie, I know it’s not the point of the series, but this film tried to try to elaborate on the backstories of the group.  Nodding to their attempts at change, if you are going to try to establish characters, do a little more to really get us connected to the group. Should this franchise out, we need a little more sustenance to the group, so that we can actually root for them in the end.  However, Jacob Tremblay did get a good development so kudos to them.

The Grandiose Speeches: We know this series is hard to take seriously when it comes to the dialogue, but this movie did a little too much inspirational preaching for my blood.  It was fun at first, but by the fourth speech, the lines had become stale, the timing inappropriate, and the emphasis/passion of the speech was missing. It was pointless to me at these points.

 

The Over Excessive Cursing: Shocker, I don’t like the haphazard use of the F bomb, but Predator’s lazy writing just kept rocking it from the speakers with no end in sight.  It’s a small dislike, but something that shows writing still has a long way to go in the art of balance.

 

The Story:  While I appreciated the springboard ideas, Predator still has a long way to go to achieve the story it wants.  It offers not so much a challenge, as a very shallow, cut to the point, ridiculous fest that Sci-Fi genre loves, but has started to cross into the eye rolling zones.  As the movie ends, there is potential, but the movie needs to pick a direction to roll, is the main limitation is the film’s inability to decide which plot setting it wants to go.  The Predator just tries to take too many paths, and seems confused as to which one it wants to stick with as it tries to reach new levels of campiness.

The Comedy:  Some of the comedy is great as I mentioned before, however this installment tries too hard at times to get a laugh.  Predator is meant to be indirectly funny, but this one was a little too forced on me that it didn’t see fitting to be in this franchise.  As such, the relentless humor takes away from the movie and leads to some of the mixed reviews that you are reading.  Again, the comedic relief is appreciated when timed, but too much of a good thing usually goes bad.

Sterling K Brown’s Character:  I get it, bad guys are supposed to not be liked, but this particular villain is more obnoxious than threatening/evil.  Again, this comes from incomplete character development and an aimless story idea, but Mr. Brown’s talents were not the best utilized in this film.   I would have liked more development, more threats, and less unyielding taunting that they took the character in.  Not the best antagonist in the series, and certainly not the best film editing techniques with him either.

Quantity vs. Quality Action wise:  As much as I like action, I like scenes where the fighting has impressive choreography, strategy with creativity, and lasts a decent time to make the skirmish worthwhile. The Predator has these moments that I love, but many are short bouts of carnage that seem to be just fillers to extend the movie length and show more special effects.  Quantity is good for pacing, but The Predator needs to focus on quality to really seal the deal for the next installment.  Utilize that suspenseful nature with the technology like the end game, and you’ve got potential to make some of the best fighting scenes in the series.

 

The Classic Predator: From a story aspect, I understand the inclusion, but the trailers really focused on differentiating the two as the selling points.  Sadly, outside of some contributions, the classic model doesn’t do as much as you hope it will.  The focus was more on the super predator and it would have been nice to see more done with the creature that started it all.  Sorry, but the studio needs to make up its mind as to which predators they want to focus on, instead of just creating new ones for the sake of creating new ones.

 

 

The VERDICT: 

Overall, The Predator is a mixed bag of tricks in terms of the quality it brings.  On the one hand it’s got all the science fiction action you could want with the carnage and special effects to maximize the chaos. Like all Predator movies, the fans will enjoy the hunt and the poor extras who try to face this colossal sized creature and it offers some major potential for them to follow up on. However, the movie struggles to find the directions it wants to take, primarily in the story vs. action. Vs comedy and that is where it divides people.  The series needs to research its origins and choose the direction for the next installment, making sure to emphasize quality instead of quantity.  Still, it’s worth a trip to the theater for the special effects alone and will certainly rattle your ear drums with the deafening sounds.

 

My scores:

Action/Adventure/Horror: 7.0

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