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

Advertisements

Breaking Into Drama More Than Thriller

Breaking In Poster

 

It’s Mother’s Day, a time for celebrating your maternal parental figure who cooked meals, did chores, and saved you from thieves.  Okay, maybe not that last one, but it is the theme of our movie review tonight.  In an attempt to capitalize on the holiday, tonight’s review hopes to bring the drama and thrills to entertain the masses, and potentially bring a new meaning to the Mama Bear title.  Robbie K here with another analysis on film, attempting to guide your movie viewing pleasures.  So, let’s get started on the review of:

 

Movie: Breaking In

 

Director:

James McTeigue

Writer:

Ryan Engle

Stars:

Gabrielle Union,  Billy Burke,  Richard Cabral

 

LIKES:

 

Acting:  The movie is a very character centric tale, primarily attempting to portray a mother caught in a dire situation. Gabrielle Union accomplished this goal, managing to bring the heat and fire of a mother scorned, who is refusing to let these thieves harm her babies by any means.  The balance of emotion with deadly edge and vulnerability, led to a well-designed character who holds much of the movie on her shoulders.  The thieves led by Billy Burke, all play their roles well, each with a certain quirk to lean heavily on, as this modernized Harry and Marv attempt to claim their goals.  As for the kids, they do a decent job, just not the most integrated roles outside of crying and a few clever moves.

 

The Realism: Thrillers can sometimes bend reality too much, but Breaking In keeps its feet on the ground pretty well in the realism department.  While there are slight stretches at times, the writers managed to keep the superhuman feats to a minimum, and all injuries rather debilitating.  In addition, it’s very similar to the home team advantage, allowing knowledge of the property to contribute to her strengths of outwitting these dangerous men.  Say what you want about the mercy of the characters, but give it a round of applause for avoiding the super human magic movies love to cast.

 

The Time:  Not much to say here, other than the movie is around 90 minutes long so as not to be too long in your Mother’s Day plans.  So, hooray for condense story telling.

 

The Setting:  The coolest like for me in this film, is by far the setting this game of cat and mouse plays.  This house in the middle of the country is gorgeous and elaborate, lulling your sense of envy out to admire just how much one can do with real estate, interior design, and amazing technology and landscaping.  Yet, to use that house as a massive chess board weapon is even cooler in my opinion.  Breaking In is all about exploring the house and surrounding terrain, utilizing the knowledge of the manor to outwit the opponents and obtain the riches within.  It’s the shadows and interconnected twists that really bring the suspense out, and open up the possibilities of what can happen next.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Pacing:  The movie has issues with keeping a consistent pace for me in this movie, resulting in at times a sluggish speed that was difficult to stay awake for.  These moments are not entertaining, thrilling, and add little in terms of character development, which means it’s more a waste of time and editing than anything else.  And even when things are supposed to speed up, they only ramp up slightly and quickly fizzle out.

 

Lack of Character Development:  If its character centric, it needs to be character developing and this movie fails on that aspect for me.  While Union’s character (Shaun) is able to get some new levels of strength and love for family, the rest of the characters advance very little from their already limited group.  While the kids were most likely not going anywhere, the thieves really could have used some better backstory, deeper qualities, and perhaps a little more reasoning behind their actions. These shallow qualities reign supreme though and lead to one-dimensional characters that are flat, boring, and only creepy at times.

 

Predictable/Unmotivated Story:  Such hope filled me from the trailers, the small drops at a potential deeper story that could end up providing some twists and surprises that could be hiding in the dark halls.  Indeed, they dropped these lines in the movie, however they did not elaborate on them at all.  No more explanations about the dad outside a few cheap lines, no backstabbing politics that you couldn’t see coming.  And most notable, no real build up to make an attempt to wow.  The story is just so linear and simplified that it just left me feeling robbed of my money for an incomplete script.  If you want this safe route, you’ll love this plot the, but if those looking for edge… don’t hold your breath.

 

Thrilling?: This dislike is questionable depending on what you consider thrills.  If you like the straight up, low key threats, and mild running and hiding, this movie is for you Yet if you were expecting holding your breath moments, intense stand offs, close calls, and manners similar to Don’t Breathe… then you’ll be bummed like me. Breaking In is more an elaborate drama that feels like a heated, soap opera moment, and while things can get a little tense, it fizzles out at the empty threats of the thieves at hands.  While mothers will be ready to claw the guys eyes out and worry for the kids, other fans may just be waiting for the movie to end when they realize how low key the thrills are. 

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Breaking In held such potential, but like many films it just didn’t deliver on those promises that well edited trailer brought. While the setting is good, the acting is decent, and everything is presented concisely… the movie just could not deliver the thrills for me it wanted.  Much has to do with one-dimensional characters and an unmotivated pace, which makes it difficult to see this movie thriving outside of Lifetime or another local cable channel/streaming service.  Can’t say it’s worth a trip to the theater for me, so hold out for now and get ready for the bigger blockbusters to come into play next week. 

 

My scores are:

 

Thriller:  6.0

Movie Overall:  4.5

A Samaritan To The Crime Drama Formula

Bad Samaritan

 

With the success of the Avengers last weekend, it is hard for other movies to try and take follow such an impressive record. Still, another week comes with movies that are going to try and fight for their place in the silver screen.  My first movie of the week is the latest Horror/Thriller to try and keep you on edge.  Robbie K here with another round of writing to help you guys with your movie choices.  Sit back and read on as I review:

 

Movie:  Bad Samaritan

 

Director:

Dean Devlin

Writer:

Brandon Boyce (screenplay)

Stars:

Kerry Condon,  David Tennant,  Robert Sheehan

 

 

LIKES:

 

Decent Pacing:  If you’ve read my work, you know I like movies that movie, which Bad Samaritan does.  I’ll admit it takes a while to lift off in an attempt to set the stage, but as the robbery goes bad and the thrills start, things start to pick up.  From then on, it seems to move, only hitting rough patches of diverging slowness for small amounts before looping back to the story. 

 

Acting:  Another plus here, the cast has quite an art to helping keeps the audience invested in the story with performances that are quite believable and well developed.  The secondary characters are fine for their limited appearances, but the two leads are by far the pillars of strength keeping this movie up.  Sheehan as the protagonist plays the man at wits end quite well, a nice force of morale integrity with a drive to make changes his world needs.  It’s a nice puzzle of emotion and he was able to bring all the pieces together to make a protagonist you want to get behind.  Yet it’s David Tennant who will most likely grab your attention.  The former Barty Crouch Junior has taken his insanity up a level, still having that strategic genius of a serial killer, but this time being much louder and less subtle Seeing how deep his madness goes is probably the only mystery at hand, as one tries to figure out what caused such devoted madness.  The rivalry between these two is the relationship that drives the whole film, and certainly the thrilling component of the movie.

 

Thrilling at Times: The movie has a dark edge to it, and dark often brings thrills and suspense to the screen.  Bad Samaritan has those moments that are real on the seat sequences that you crime show lovers enjoy.  All of them attempt to make you jump and potentially look suspiciously over at your fellow audience member, but most of these moments are short lived. What does bring suspense though, is that feeling of unknown as to what Tennant’s character will do next.  That uneasiness is truly the source of the thrills in the movie and perhaps one of the more realistic scares of the year in movies.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Predictable: What drowns the movie’s suspense is how linear and predictable this film is.  Bad Samaritan holds few surprises in this regard, much of the plot can be seen from a mile away and seldom surprising me outside of how short some of the suspense moments are.  It’s much of the same story that crime shows love to take full advantage of in their relentless need for repeats.

 

Lacking Villain Development: The extent of his madness is visible in this film, his back story, not so much.  Bad Samaritan’s villain is just shown as crazy, with only fleeting memories of animal torture (another thing I hate) to give you any sort of understanding. Eventually, the bomb is dropped into the incident that developed his psychopathic tendencies arose, but it’s only in the form of a three-sentence part to wrap it all up.  This lack of details and impasses to uncover his history means one thing… boring.  Part of the fun of a thriller is getting more insight to the monster at hand and it just didn’t deliver in this movie.

 

Underutilization of secondary characters:  Sigh, the protagonist had so many connections set up at the beginning, each an important cog to Sheehan’s character’s life, but also a valuable pawn in the killer’s game of chess.  Unfortunately, these pieces are super underdeveloped, dropped in for only small time talk before quickly being used for more life altering madness.  Most of these stints are just flown over, but a couple do try to bring that nasty bite to get you feeling the pain they want you to.  Had more of these guys been brought into the game, Bad Samaritan may have again developed the edge it needed.

 

The Stupidity/Mistakes: Bad Samaritan falls into the usual trepidations of characters making stupid decisions and paying heavily for it. These bad decisions are essentially the core of the movie, and while a few could be appreciated, some of these moments were sheer displays of how dumb the writing was at times.  How did this master of seduction/schmoozing screw up so much for this kid to best him?  Why would they be so stupid to leave obvious clues?  Why were the cops so ruthlessly dumb/ignorant?  It’s just those background noises they want you to annoy, but in this movie that is hard to do given the set up they make.  The inconsistencies are a tad annoying to me at times.

 

The Ending: Sigh, another movie that is left to tease and feel unfinished.  Bad Samaritan’s final moments are rushed display of mistakes, coincidental serendipity, and a sudden cut to black worthy of the Sopranos.  It opens the possibilities for another installment yet could provide lackluster closure to those who want it. Nevertheless, this film didn’t quite end as strongly as one would hope, leaving many questions unanswered, and many ties still unknotted.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Bad Samaritan is an okay movie, capable of finding ways to make you jump and trying to keep you engaged in this manhunt. With good acting and a good pace, the movie certainly feels like a crime show that has a film worthy budget.  Yet, the movie still holds some rather big deficits that rob it of the thriller aspect it wanted to bring.  More character development and suspense are going to be needed for further installments, but it at least sets the stage. Worth a trip to the movies?  Can’t say it is for me but give it a shot at home to not worry about being robbed of your money for an anticlimactic ending.

 

My scores are:

 

Horror/Thriller:  7.0

Movie Overall:  6.5

Do You Dare See This Film

Truth Or Dare

 

Another weekend, another horror movie to arise in the dim lights of the theater.  This weekend, the big advertised thriller of young age adults versus the paranormal has reared its superficial prettiness in hopes of generating big bucks.  While the trailers have painted a very skeptical picture, but you never know what lies beneath the snippets edited in the trailers.  Robbie K here with the third review of the weekend, bringing some thoughts and observations on the latest films to hit the silver screen.  Let’s get started with this review of:

 

Film: Truth or Dare

 

Director:

Jeff Wadlow

 

Writers:

Jillian Jacobs (screenplay by),  Michael Reisz (screenplay by)

 

Stars:

Lucy Hale,  Tyler Posey,  Violett Beane

 

 

LIKES:

Good Pace:  Horror movies are a mixed bag of either being too slow or too fast.  Truth or Dare is fortunately one of those that seems to hit just the right speed to allow for everything to pan out as it should be.  This reviewer appreciated the brisk pace brought about by the pressure of the game, adding some slight edge and mystery as to when the next challenge would arise in a rather predictable plot.  Yet, the movie still took the time to allow their characters to semi-flesh out their issues and dive a little deeper than their superficial looks.  A nice balance is always nice to see.

 

Pretty Cast:  Pretty faces go a long way in this business, and Truth or Dare is chock full of attractive puppets set to potentially meet their doom.  This Abercrombie and Fitch models will be pleasing to many eyes, which does a lot of heavy lifting in the beginning to accommodate the typical montage.  And even throughout the drama, the looks will garnish more attention than the acting itself.  Still, the costume and casting get two thumbs up for fashioning a target audience relatable ensemble.

 

Decent Acting:  While the looks are certainly a big picture, the acting is still semi-decent alongside the directing.  Most of the cast actually deserves some props for fashioning characters that didn’t make me cringe or wish they would dieHale in particular was my favorite, using her talents to craft a very versatile character capable of being relatable to. Once more a portrayal of morals vs self-preservation, the lovely young woman more than delivered a stellar performance that evolved as her character adapted.

 

A Unique Concept:  The Truth or Dare game that is deadly might seem cheesy, but it wins points for originality in my book.  A simple child’s game (that can get out of control sometimes) as a device of death opened up creative avenues of potential fatality that kept things interesting.  While a little over the top at times, (though not as bad as Final Destination), it was cool to see this dynamic stay consistent and the strategy for how to get around the traps set forth.

 

DISLIKES:

Character Development:  The movie had a good start and a device to drive growth, but sadly that growth was fairly diluted for much of the characters.  Most of the cast were still shallow teens with drama that did nothing more than paint massive targets on their backs, falling into the slasher formula that many seem to enjoy.  While the game did drive some things to change for the two leads, the movie could have benefitted from a little more branching out.

Story Takes Some Dives:  The story actually held some gold nuggets in terms of quality, but that quickly dulled into fool’s gold as the plot elements dippedThe twist behind the games lethal forces, the other players who had the more sinister characteristics, and even the solutions were hinted at times only to be dropped.  More suspense and thrills could have been accomplished had they expanded on this category.  They started to clean it up at the end with the solution to the problem and the tension that came with it, leading to a rather engaging ending, but the middle of the movie could have used this treatment.

Rushed Deaths:  Some of the kills in this movie are intense bouts of our “heroes” racing against the clock to stop the game’s effects.  These kills are the more engaging, changing the odds to a more even split on their survival.  Others, are merely cheap wrap ups that the teenage group seem to drink up, which is a little disappointing at not delivering on the potential that was there.  Perhaps for the shorter attention span of the modern age, but still could have been better than what was presented.

Idiot Syndrome: Where A Quiet Place held realism, fear, and logic, Truth or Dare sadly falls victim to the famous idiot syndrome where the characters brains are absent after the first scene.  While this isn’t true for all characters, many of them seem to have their logic components absent during much of the film.  Why this annoying trait can’t be teased out a little more makes no sense to me, but the old stick continues to make for an annoying component that takes away from the characters, degrading them to MTV reality status.

 

The VERDICT:

            Truth or Dare falls victim to the cliché of teenage horror syndrome, in that is a gimmicky display of airheads going up against an unstoppable supernatural force.  True, it does have an original medium to terrorize our actors through, pretty cast with decent acting, and a good pace to entertain, it falls shy of being an epic horror.  It’s good for the teenage and young adults target audience, but for an audience as a whole this movie is better left for renting than anything else. If only the MTV syndrome could have been avoided, because this quality is what dilutes an otherwise engaging premise.

 

My scores are:

 

Horror/Thriller:  6.0

Movie Overall:  5.0

Can’t Keep Quiet About This Great Horror Film

A queit place

 

Horror Movies continue to flood the theaters, each one hoping to stake its claim in the Hollywood world and actually get a decent rating.  One such candidate comes out this weekend, with a well-received preshowing, and a festival to support it, this movie holds high potential to accomplish the goal of a good horror movie.  Tonight, my second review hopes to bring good news on this movie and promote it for being a horror film that will leave you reeling.  Robbie K back again, as he reviews:

 

Title: A Quiet Place

Director:

John Krasinski

 

Writers:

Bryan Woods (screenplay by),  Scott Beck

 

Stars:

Emily Blunt,  John Krasinski,  Millicent Simmonds

 

 

LIKES:

Editing:  Horror movies miss the mark quite often in this category, usually adding unneeded details to increase the length of the movie.  A Quiet Place manages to really tighten this element up, with almost 100% of the movie holding pertinence to the movie’s storytelling.  The result, is an immersive horror tale that doesn’t dive too far down the hokey realm and instead towards the quality thriller tale we’ve been seeking.

 

Acting:  For a movie with few words, the small cast was able to maximize their screen time with their nonverbal acting.  Blunt and Krasinski (the actual married couple) play their roles to the T, unleashing all that primitive rage of protecting their offspring from the elements.  There is love, passion, and fear all rolled up into the mannerisms and facial acting.  As for the kids, again impressive openings as they portray kids stuck in a dangerous wilderness where life hangs in the very balance.  The family dynamic reigns strong in this small cast, including all the interpersonal dynamics and drama that comes with a close knit group.

 

Creepy:  The movie wins points in the scare department for being a realistic fear factory that delivered on two levels.  One is of course the good use of jump scares that had a number of people jumping in their seats, not over utilizing it as many films in this genre doHowever, the real chills come from the creepy atmosphere contained within the deadly frontier our world becomes in this reality.  The creatures themselves are horrific, mutated abominations that are the stuff of nightmares as these alpha predators hunt our heroes.  Even creepier though, is the feeling of isolation and being watch (or heard in this case) by the threat looming out there.  That delicate balance brings with it an inherent suspense that will keep you locked up until its all released in one giant flinch/scream depending on the audience member.  This energy carries on throughout the whole movie and is more than a welcome factor this genre needed.

 

DISLIKES:

A Few Unnecessary Scenes:  A small dislike, but there are a few scenes/ideas that didn’t pan out for me in the film.  Some of these scenes seem to be nothing but an opening for a death or to provide a passing glance of the creatures (which they tease for a lot in the first half of the film).  Others, I think try to add a little more tension to the scenario (such as an injured foot), only to not prove pertinent in the long run.

 

The Pregnancy/Baby Dynamic: On the one hand I liked this component because it helped add more to the family dynamic/character building this genre often fails at.  Past this symbolism of hope though, the whole dynamic adds a slight cheesy flavor to the tension more so at the speed, ridiculousness, and semi-cringe worthy handling of this factor.  I can’t say much without ruining the story, but the direction took a steep drop in believability for me when this gravid plot line came into play.

 

Trailers:  Given the only 90 minute run time, the other factor that provides enough glimpses to ruin the surprise are the trailers. Depending on how many times you have seen the trailers, you can see the twists have been ruined and the movie become predictable.  So be prepared my friends, because the more you watch advertising, the more you have revealed before the movie starts.

 

The VERDICT:

 

A Quiet Place has accomplished the goal of good storytelling meeting the thrills of a pending game of cat and mouse.  The movie has heart, character development and a number of the positives, but nothing is more important is how well the movie manages to ring in terms of tis advertising and how focused they were for a 90 minute scare fest.  While those who have seen the trailers a lot may be at risk of a so-so movie, A Quiet Place reigns high in my horror genre and is worth a viewing in the theater if you are looking for a movie to really drop you back in the creepy level.  If not, definitely check this one out in rentals

 

My scores are:

 

Drama/Horror/Thriller:  8.5

Movie Overall:  8.5

Acrimony Bologna

Acrimony

 

Robbie K back with yet another movie review this weekend, this time on a more dramatic film that promises to get the audience screaming “Oh no she didn’t!”  The legendary writer/director Tyler Perry brings yet another piece to try to entertain, in hopes of making a dent in the box office.  Will it work?  Please read on to find out as I analyze:

 

Title: Tyler Perry’s Acrimony

 

Director:

Tyler Perry

Writer:

Tyler Perry

Stars:

Taraji P. Henson,  Lyriq Bent,  Crystle Stewart

 

 

LIKES:

Presentation:  Acrimony’s delivery is nothing super unique, but it is also a little off the beaten path from what I have seen in the past.  Told during the perspective of a meeting, Acrimony’s main tale is told through the voice of Henson while the scene plays out.  The voice over works, as it acts like an internal conscience describing the feelings of her character, adding comedy and a little heat to an already boiling situation.

 

Acting:  Tyler Perry’s plays require good acting to bring his… unique characters to life and fortunately the main cast does a great job of bringing those too life.  All the supporting cast play their part well in this soap opera, but the main cast are the ones who really make it shineHenson no doubt carries much of the film and portrays the mental breakdown of a scorned woman quite well in regards to delivering the lines, holding the bewildered eyes, and even the mannerisms.  Meanwhile, Lyriq Bent has a fantastic transition over the course of the movie, with a fantastic ability to play the complex Robert and spur the crowd on.  The chemistry between these two is very melodramatic, but it fits well with Perry’s work to illicit drama into the mix.

 

The Twist:  I went in expecting the movie to be yet another drama, that was all about overreacting, cheating, and insulting one another. Truth is it was, but the movie was much more different than what the trailer presented.  Perry’s twist on presentation had things a little more engaging, a deeper psychological thriller that made you wonder how far down the rabbit hole the cast was going to fall.  I can’t reveal much more, but let’s just say this movie is darker than you might get from the trailers… you’ve been warned.

 

DISLIKES:

The Pacing:  My fellow audience members agreed that the pacing of this movie was way off.  Acrimony gets applause for being detailed, however the initial opening was a little long winded, unnecessarily delaying the journey to the climactic drama at hand. Even worse, Perry sometimes goes into such painstakingly details one might think they were reading a Tolkien book. This slows the movie down considerably and adds unnecessary length to the movie that could have benefitted from other areas.

 

Ridiculous:  Perry’s dramas are often melodramatic, lust filled, journeys that feign the idea of true love.  However, they usually are grounded in reality and keep the coincidences to a minimum.  In this case, not so much, as Acrimony takes the ridiculous moments and amplifies them to levels that we see in Lifetime.  The over the top crying, the aggressive acts, and even the stunts of the bewildered characters are so out there that it destroyed the reality basis of this movie for cheap thrills.  And while I appreciate the twist…. Its central focus was a little too farfetched to hold my favor, again belonging as a made for television movie in regards to quality and stereotypical soap opera behavior.

 

The Writing/Production Quality: Acrimony is not the flashiest or most impressive visual work to grace the theater.  It’s rather simplistic shots, lack of music/sound editing, and even the design of all the sequences themselves are not the prettiest production.  Even worse is the semi-lazy writing contained within this film.  There are some funny, edgy lines that are perfectly designed to represent the frustration of the main character. Other times, it’s just mindless swearing, that feels like nothing but a giant rage fest that feels more like a temper tantrum than a respectable expression of frustration.  While this may be the closer representation of the real world, it isn’t the most engaging dialog I’ve ever seen…or the most original.

 

The VERDICT:

            Acrimony is not what you are expecting in terms of plot, but nevertheless it delivers the package of being the melodramatic, Tyler Perry adventures we’ve come to know.  Despite a strong acting and presentation though, the movie really doesn’t deliver the same punch his previous work does outside of a shock factor and sewing future seeds for GIF videos. Still, if you are looking for a movie this weekend to get your drama factor on, this movie will satisfy it, but otherwise, go to a better movie like Ready Player One to maximize your funds. 

 

My scores are:

 

Thriller:  5.5

Movie Overall:  4.0

Sexy, Sleek, and A Spy Thriller Indeed

Red Sparrow

 

Jennifer Lawrence, a chameleon in many forms as to what role she will play and how well she will act in it.  What is never questionable though, is that it will often involve some type of edge, with some anger thrown into the mix.  And this weekend, yet another film for her to exercise her emotions is back in the form of Red Sparrow, the latest spy thriller to sneak into the theaters.  The movie promises to be the same intense dynamics, perhaps with a little sexiness thrown in.  Does the movie have the same fire that it’s lead actress has, or is it another flop?  Robbie K happy to help you out with another movie decision with yet another review.  Let’s get started:

 

LIKES:

 

Costumes:  In a spy movie of such caliber, you are hoping that the costumes are going to be chic, sexy, and feel like the super spy role.  Red Sparrow’s costumes are worthy of the mantle of high fashion, being pleasant on the eyes and fitting so well with the roles given to Ms. Lawrence. They add a nice flare to the movie, being utilized to sell her cover and infiltrate the secrets held within all parties, and in such a subtle way as that.  It’s a small like, but one that warrants appreciation.

 

The Strong Woman Character:  If it’s a Jennifer Lawrence role, it’s going to involve a strong female role and Red Sparrow is again no exception to the movement of strong female characters.  Dominika has many layers, all built around a solid core value of family, bringing duty and loyalty to the heart of her character.  They build upon these values, weaving a complex character who with each peel exposes layers that continue to evolve with each dive into the dark depths of espionage.  And as more characters join the deadly game, Dominika gets to adapt in an attempt to juggle all the information being handed to her.  And not only do her actions speak volumes, but Dominika has a few lines to throw out that are empowering to many in the theater.  I enjoyed the strong, ever adapting character that hopefully can teach a few lessons amidst the destruction taking place.

 

True Spy Thriller:  With James Bond films, we’ve been spoiled with the spy and action series blending together.  Yet, the world of espionage is a lot less flashy given the emphasis of blending in and breaching the trusts of so many people. Red Sparrow flies into the territory of representing the espionage game, utilizing heavy writing, ingenuity, throwing out plenty of leads, and utilizing plenty of tactics to complicate the tale.  The mysteries that are presented are the lure to keep you invested in the 2 hour 19 minute run time, all screaming of a true spy thriller that has been missing for some time, including an ending that is worthy of being called a respectable twist.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Slow:  Sadly, the movie is very slow at parts, focusing more on the jargon, psychology, and training that is involved in this harsh environment.  While this is interesting, it is also very hard to keep attention when the plot doesn’t move to keep the thrills going and make learning the information fun.  Spy thrillers need to be thrilling, and I didn’t really get into the plot until the last thirty minutes of the film when the stakes increased dramatically.  Drama fans won’t have quite as big of an issue with this, because the love, sex, and relationships fill these slow moments, but fans like me need to have some coffee before coming in.

 

Complicated Jargon:  This goes with the slow speed, but Red Sparrow is not a conversation light movie.  Where many movies have simplistic dialogue that leads you in a linear fashion. Red Sparrow however is like one of those word webs, with so much spreading out it can be confusing to piece things together without paying major attention.  So many relationships to keep track of and so much information to maintain, you have to keep everything in check to figure out what the point of all this is.  And given how the tone of the characters fluctuates, it can sometimes be difficult to hear what they are saying as the cavalcade talk in whispers and hushed tones.

 

Graphic TortureSerial killers rejoice, you’ll see the dark dealings of punishment unfold in very disturbing moments, but for others with weaker constitutions you’ll need to turn away. There is plenty of Red in this movie, and not in the slasher movie cheesiness Hollywood has made famous.  This movie has been majorly grounded in terms of thrills, but with it comes some realism that is more gruesome to see.  I appreciate this darkness to some extent, but the there are some nightmare inducing images, and in some cases a little unnecessary to the story.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Despite all the mixed reviews, I think that Red Sparrow is a fine film that shows off Lawrence’s talents to be edgy and a strong women character.  The film has plenty of mystery to solve as you try to uncover the true meaning behind this thriller, searching for any information possible.  And given all this convoluted information, this movie certainly is the closest thing to an espionage film we’ve gotten in a long while.  Yet, the movie is slow, and geared more toward romantic drama lovers who could care less about the story and more about the sabotage the characters throw at each other.  Nevertheless, this dark story is not for the faint of focus and should be geared towards those who like a darker story with lots of kinks to unravel.  My scores are:

 

Mystery/Thriller:  7.0

Movie Overall:  6.0