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Posts Tagged ‘Die Hard’

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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RED –  movie review
RED (2010) is a movie series / vehicle for a number of aging actors (primarily Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren, John Malkovich, Mary-Louise Parker and Brian Cox) to star in a “semi”-comedic action / adventure spy movie (based on a comic book series of the same name).  Cox is a Russian agent.  Mirren is British.  The rest are Americans (mostly CIA).  Parker plays the odd person out.  She is not a former (retired) spy.  She just falls into the series as Willis’ character love interest.  He just wants to see if he could have had a “normal” life.  Parker’s character turns out to be an adventure junkie (as she would be).  “RED” is an acronym for “Retired, Extremely Dangerous”, and is how each of the former spies’ personnel folders are labeled.
In this first movie, the bad guys are trying to kill Willis and his old team because … who really cares?  Blah, blah, blah…  Humor, gunfights, explosions and car chases later, the bad guy is killed and everyone lives happily ever after.  Well, all except for Morgan Freeman, who gets shot dead.  Yeah, he was former CIA too.  Apparently, his death didn’t really count for the series because they make a point of telling us that he’s due to die from kidney disease in 90 days.  This way, they don’t have to draw straws later in a suicide mission moment.
Does the movie work and is it entertaining?  Yes and yes.  The movie is basically, “Die Hard” with a team, so it’s hardly a stretching role for Willis, but he’s okay with it and, as a fan, I’m willing to buy into it too.  The best character in the movie is Malkovich as the paranoid / crazy ex-spy.  He knocks it out of the park and pretty much steals all of his scenes.  All in all, final recommendation: strong recommendation.
RED 2 – movie review
RED 2 (2013) more or less takes up where the first movie ended.  Plot: more guys trying to kill Willis.  The team gets back together to locate and destroy a nuclear weapon placed in Moscow a couple of decades ago.  Once again, blah, blah, blah…  Humor, gunfights, explosions and car chases later, the bad guy is killed and everyone lives happily ever after.   Yes, there is the minor “thing” of a nuclear explosion just outside of London, but details, details…  Oh, yeah.  Did I mention this device was a “red mercury” warhead?  I guess somebody was a “new” Star Trek Nero (the bad guy / Romulan Captain) fan and they borrowed some of his “red matter”.
Again, does the movie work and is it entertaining?  Yes and yes.  The movie is basically, “Die Hard“(ish) with a team, so it’s hardly a stretching role for Willis, but he’s okay with it and, as a fan, I’m willing to buy into it too.  The best character in the movie is Malkovich as the paranoid / crazy ex-spy.  He knocks it out of the park and pretty much steals all of his scenes.  This time, Mirren is a much closer second best.  All in all, final recommendation: strong recommendation.  (And, yes I know that was a “cut-n-paste” from above, but, hey, the movie was too.)  Still, like I said, “Strong Recommendation”.  I am a fan of the genre and of the actors, so I’ll probably like numbers 3 and 4 too, when they finally come out.
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On This Day In:
2015 Cities
2014 Still
2013 Dare = Hope
2012 Check My Math
2011 Just Asking

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Batman v Superman (2016) –  movie review
Last Saturday I took my daughter Sarah to see the latest comic book movie: “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice“.  The movie stars Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne/Batman, Henry Cavill as Clark Kent/Superman and Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman.  Wonder Woman is really only in a small role (screen time wise), but it is significant to the movie as the start of the Justice League.  Affleck is new to the role of Wayne/Batman, but was surprisingly much better than I anticipated given all of the negative reviews.  Cavill is reprising his role as Kent/Superman, and is still great in the role.
Is this a “good” movie?  Yes.  It is.  It’s not going to win anyone a best actor trophy and there are large parts of the movie which don’t make any sense, but it’s a movie about comic-book superheroes, so give me a break!  I enjoyed it.  It’s not a great “film”, but most (almost all) comic-book adaptations are not great films.  Who cares?  We don’t go to them for great acting or great dialog or great plot.  We buy our tickets for action, adventure, fantasy and special effects to match our imagination.  By this standard, BvS is entertaining and that is enough.
So, what is the movie about?  Basically, the movie is a marketing attempt to throw three super-heroes together to create a “team” so the industry can have a competing franchise to the Marvel Comic Universe.  The “team”, in this case, the Justice League, will then be able to spin out both League and individual heroes sequels.  If the medium proves as artistically deep as the comic book medium, movie studios will have created a money making machine which can span decades without ever having to come up with a “new” idea.  They just follow the bread crumb trail of the comics.
There is only one problem: actors age and comic book characters don’t.  Well, they do, but on a factor of about one year for every 8 to 10 years (“real” years) of the reader’s life.  In the movies, this is handled by substituting a new (younger) actor in the next sequel or re-booting the movie series (again with a new – younger – actor) usually about ten years after the latest origin story.
The other way to deal with the age issue is to age the hero along with the actor.  This can work (see the “Die Hard“, “Rambo” and “Rocky” films), but more often, not really (see Christian Bale in “The Dark Knight Rises“).  The point I’m getting at is that Affleck’s older Batman, and more specifically Bruce Wayne, is better portrayed than Bale’s.  And, one step farther, I think this will bode well for future League sequels.
Now, some of you might ask: what does any of this “really” have to do with this movie.  Probably nothing.  Just the meandering thoughts of an old comic-book reader…
So, final recommendation: strong.  Standing on its own, it is entertaining.  And, if you don’t go see it, you won’t know what’s going on in the sequel.
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On This Day In:
2015 Remarkable Creations
2014 Measured Faith
2013 April Fool, n.
2012 Faith, Ego And Patriotism
As It Happens
2011 What Counts

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Today’s review is of the 2013 movie: “White House Down” starring Channing Tatum (as the Hero) and Jamie Foxx (as the President).  The premise is fairly straight forward: the hero is touring the White House with his daughter, when it is attacked by terrorists trying to kidnap the President of the United States.  There are some minor twists in the movie, but they are by and large predictable.  The movie is a standard “good-guy buddy” movie with all the same action / explosions of any of the “Die Hard” or “Lethal Weapon” franchises.  There is also a pinch of flag waving in the front yard (for the super-patriots), political / fascist intrigue (for the conspiracy theorists), and just a few one-liners and comic moments / scenes (which always make this genre more enjoyable).
All in all, this move is nothing more than it sets out to be – an action / intrigue movie with the emphasis on the action (read: fights, shooting and explosions).  If this is your thing (and it is clearly MY thing), then you will enjoy this movie.  If it’s not your thing, you won’t find much here.  Final recommendation: solid (but not High) recommendation.  Entertaining, but not ground breaking.
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On This Day In:
2013 Exposed Spirits
2012 Ow-ow
2011 Focused Relatives

 

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This review is for the fifth edition of the “Die Hard” series, titled: “A Good Day To Die Hard“, which should have been sub-titled:  “How my son and I shot-up and blew-up large pieces of Russia and lived to talk about it.”  Full disclosure: I am a Bruce Willis fan and I am the owner of the four previous movies in this series – so, I am completely un-biased.  Yeah, right!
Just to bring everyone up to date: one and two – wife in danger, kill bad-guys, blow stuff up; three – NYC in danger, hang around with some random black guy (co-star Samuel L. Jackson), kill bad-guys, blow stuff up; four – daughter in danger (and country, too) – kill bad-guys, blow stuff up.  Which brings us to this episode (5): son (Jai Courtney) in danger…  I’ll let you guess the rest.
Assuming you have little or no knowledge of the frailty of the human body or can set aside all reason – this is a terrific movie which follows the format to the “T”.  In this case, you know what you’re getting when you buy your ticket and Bruce delivers.  AND I am well known for being able to set aside all reason when watching this series.  Final recommendation:  Highly Recommended!
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On This Day In:
2013 Honest Doubt
2012 Choice
2011 Ownership Of Thought

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Thomas Robert “Tom” Laughlin (August 10, 1931 – December 12, 2013)
Before Steven Seagal (all three word title movies), before John Rambo (“Rambo” series), before John McClane (“Die Hard” series), before Paul Kersey (“Death Wish” series), before Kwai Chang Caine (“Kung Fu” TV series) – there was Billy Jack in “Born Losers” (1967).  Tom Laughlin brought to the big screen the start of the modern vigilante movie genre with the character of Billy Jack.  It seems strange how a little martial arts on the big screen, mixed with some social awareness and righteous indignation can affect people’s lives.
As a twelve year old kid I remember thinking, “Wow, I’ve got to learn how to do that!”  What I was looking at was Hapkido – a Korean form of Karate (open hand fighting).  Ten years later, I found a Hapkido dojo in Germany and studied it for almost a year during my off hours (I was in the Army).  That was set aside once I returned to civilian life…  Until I found Judo, while I was in college.  I took that for a semester, too.  When I moved to England in the ’90’s, a friend from work (who was a black belt in judo) said he’d love to get me on a mat and asked if I was interested in going to a dojo to learn Aikido.  My friend (Dave) and I found a local dojo and began our lessons.  We continued on with that for about two years.  It was great having someone who was a lifelong martial artist as a co-student because he could explain things in much greater detail than I could ever have gotten (except in one-on-one personal lessons).  For his side, he got someone who was bigger and heavier who he could throw around for a couple of hours twice a week.  We both moved on and I stumbled on to a Philippine “combat” style of Aikido while I was in Saudi Arabia which I tried for another year.  And then finally, once back home in America, I was back to traditional Aikido at a local dojo for several years (until I developed AFib and went on blood thinners).
Practicing martial arts, of course, lead me to read about martial arts, which in turn lead to me reading about martial philosophy and then philosophy in general.
Did I ever “become” a martial artist?  No.  Did I ever learn how to do that?  Not hardly.  I never took it seriously enough to be more than what I was – a novice and a bit of a dojo sampler.  Did I enjoy it?  Yes, very much.  Did it affect me?  Yes!  And for at least some small part of that, I have to thank Billy Jack (Tom Laughlin).
Beyond the enjoyment of playing Aikido itself, I learned timing, balance, grace, philosophy, and I gained a certain amount of inner peace.  For all of which, I will always be extremely grateful.
R.I.P.  Tom
Signed,
KMAB (A Fan)
[Please also go check out the song lyrics to “One Tin Soldier – (The Legend of Billy Jack)” on my poems page.   —    KMAB]
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On This Day In:
2012 All Aboard
2011 Sail On, Sailor

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