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Posts Tagged ‘Daniel Kaluuya’

Sicario (2015) — movie review
Today’s review is for the drug cartel crime fighting thriller, Sicario,  released a few years ago and which has a sequel just wrapping up in theaters now.  The movie title translates to “hitman” according to the opening credits.  It stars: Emily Blunt as FBI Agent Kate Macer; Antonio Banderas — just kidding — Benicio del Toro as Alejandro Gillick; Josh Brolin as CIA Agent Matt Graver and Daniel Kaluuya as Blunt’s FBI partner Reggie Wayne.  Gillick’s “character / role” is not entirely clear.  On the one hand, he is said to be an attorney who’s family is murdered by a drug cartel, and on the other had he is said to be a member of the Medellín cartel.  I think I would have to view the movie again to see which is true as multiple sources seem to disagree (Rotten Tomatos, IMDB, Wikipedia).  Really, he’s a combination of Paul Kersey (Death Wish) – vengeance / vigilante, John McClane (Die Hard) – one man against the gang / vigilante, and Frank Castle (Punisher) – super-efficient killer with multiple weapons / vigilante.
The basic plot is the CIA needs an FBI agent on a cross-departmental team to function on US soil.  Hence, they recruit Macer and Wayne to help “arrest” (i.e. track down and kill) some cartel leaders.  To do this, they pursue the cartel in both the US and Mexico.  Blah, blah, blah.  Shoot-em up.  Blah, blah, blah.  Feel sorry for Macer and Gillick.  Blah, blah, Gillick saves Macer.  Blah, blah, Gillick gets revenge.  Blah, blah, Macer let’s Gillick skate (to make a sequel).  Kind of a happy / unhappy ending…
So, is this a good movie?  Does it work as a thriller?  Is it realistic?  Yes.  Yes.  And, so-so.  I found the movie to be very interesting because it was the best depiction I’ve seen of night vision / thermal vision head gear.  The acting is solid and the characters are reasonably developed enough that you can start to feel for them.  The movie works quite well as a thriller.  The action starts strong with a pretty powerful (if gruesome) opening of the FBI breaking into a house full of dead bodies to arrest / kill gang members and free hostages and then it just goes from there.  Anyway, the Department of Justice wants to make a “bigger” difference in the drug war, so they join the CIA and DOD’s Delta Force to perform operations both in the US and in Mexico.  There are multiple action / set pieces and they work – in terms of both increasing theatrical tension and creating bonding of the law enforcement team (character development).
Is the movie realistic?  I do believe it’s realistic in terms of gang violence and military capability.  No.  I don’t believe it is realistic in the depiction of action.  The action happens the way we (as an audience) would like it to happen – person shot, person drops.  But, again, it’s only a movie, so I’m willing to cut Hollywood some slack.  They are trying to entertain us, not educate us.
The movie is rated: “R” and this is deserved due to the graphic depiction of gang violence.  Having said this, it shies away from the most graphic violence of Gillick avenging his own family by killing the drug lord (and his family first, in front of him).  Today’s post title is a quote of the final words Gillick says to the gang / drug lord.
So, final recommendation: strong.  The story is good.  The action and tension builds.  The characters / actors get developed during the film.  It has a satisfying (if not happy) ending.  With the proviso that it is not for the squeamish and is correctly rated as “R”, it is worth your time if you are into spy / crime / thriller / action movies.
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On This Day In:
2017 Wealth Within
2016 Soaring
2015 Gone To The Library…
2014 Choose To Lead
2013 Not Sent Yet
2012 Wall-Crawler Reboot
Learning To Count
On Worshiping God
2011 Emancipated Differences
2010 A Little More Technology, Please…

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Black Panther (2018)  —  movie review
Today I went to the new Marvel super-hero movie, “Black Panther“.  The movie stars Chadwick Boseman as the title character King T’Challa / Black Panther; Michael B. Jordan as the main bad guy Erik Killmonger; Andy Serkis as the secondary bad guy Ulysses Klaue; Letitia Wright as Princess Shuri (T’Challa’s little sister); Lupita Nyong’o as Nakia, the King’s girlfriend / love interest; Danai Gurira as Okoye, the general of army and the King’s personal guard; Daniel Kaluuya as W’Kabi, the King’s best friend and husband of general Okoye; Martin Freeman as Everett K. Ross, a US CIA operative who risks his life to save Nakia; and Winston Duke, as M’Baku, chief of the gorilla tribe. There are also noteworthy appearances by Angela Bassett as Ramonda, the King’s mother and Forest Whitaker as Zuri, a high priest and counselor to the King.
This is a stand-alone movie within the “Extended Marvel Universe”.  As such, it is the origin story of the super-hero – “Black Panther” who comes from the fictional, Central African country of Wakanda.  Basically, there are five tribes in the country, each of which is patterned after an animal deity, but the Panther symbol is the primary one for all but the gorilla tribe.  T’Challa’s father dies and he must become king.  He is challenged by the chief of the gorilla tribe, who T’Challa defeats, but who T’Challa allows to live because his tribe needs his leadership.
Blah, blah, blah, T’Challa’s cousin (Killmonger) uses Klaue as an entry into Wakanda, and then claims the throne as his own.  Killmonger defeats T’Challa in personal combat, but fails to kill him.  Blah, blah, blah, T’Challa recovers and defeats Killmonger in personal combat (Killmonger chooses death over subservience).  Blah, blah, T’Challa announces to the United Nations that Wakanda wishes to share its technologies with the rest of the world.
So, is this a “great” movie?  Probably not.  Is it a “great” comic / super-hero movie?  Yes!  Definitely.  I would rank it up with IronMan and Wonder Woman as among the best in its genre.  It’s entertaining (action), visually striking (colorful and with great special effects), and it has a better than average story-line which transcends the typical “comic-book” genre.  In its own way, it is very political and ethics driven.  Basically, do the wealthy and advanced countries have an obligation to help those with less?  Alternatively, does military might give one country the right to subjugate the rest of the world?
Did I have any criticisms?  Yes, but they are minor.  I would have liked to see a little more development of the five tribes.  The Panther and the Gorilla tribes were introduced, but I really got no idea what was going on with the other three.  The second minor point was the two main battles were in dark environments which made it difficult to follow the martial arts.  While this is a not, strictly speaking, a martial arts movie, I like to see the actual moves.  Like a few of the “Transformer” movies, sometimes the shot was too close to see what was happening, and, sometimes it was just too dark with the combatants both in black costumes.  They did give us a bit of help by altering the color of the striping and necklace between the hero and the villain.  Again, these were minor points.
I would also like to add a side comment…  IMHO this is not a “pro” African-American film.  It is an African film.  The good part of that is that it presents people of color in roles (King, Queen, brilliant scientist and general) which are not common in American films and which can hopefully help all peoples of color start to visualize themselves in similar roles (that of good people in impactful lives).  The bad part is that the “African-American” (Killmonger) is portrayed as no better than any of the white / European colonizers whom they (he) purportedly are criticizing.  Killmonger attempts to destroy Wakandan heritage and to turn the nation into a new-age British Empire.  We must also be careful to recognize that, in the end, the hero is victorious by force of arms and combat skill and not because of enlightenment, moral superiority or any oral argument.
All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed the film and give it a very highly recommended rating (if not a must see).  As I stated with the Avengers movies, we really are in a golden age of movies based on comic-book super-heroes.
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On This Day In:
2017 In Defense Of A Free Press
2016 Lost Opportunity
2015 Are You Listening Ladies?
2014 Practice, Practice, Practice
2013 A Fist Full Of Confusion
2012 Teaching Faith
2011 The Heart Of Terror
The Proportion Of Gravity And Probability

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