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Posts Tagged ‘John McClane’

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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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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This week, I watched two movies – one old (on DVD) and one new (at the theater).  The old one was Die Hard #4: (officially) “Live Free Or Die Hard” (2007).  The new one was “Lincoln” (2012).
DH4 is the latest Bruce Willis super-cop fights terrorist bad-guys movie.  Basically, it follows the tried and true genre which DH1 (1988) created: lots of action, people in danger, lots of gunfire, lots of explosions (even fake explosions) and, of course, the indestructible “John McClane” (Willis).  Now, some will dispute my assertion that DH1 “created” the genre – leaning towards “Lethal Weapon” (1987) as the start of the genre.  I’d say you have a valid argument, but to me, LW is more of buddy cop movie, than the lone cop against the whole terrorist gang.  Now the interesting thing is that DH4 is not strictly a lone cop movie any more (okay, DH3 wasn’t either).  McClane gains an unwilling partner, but it’s still basically Willis against the whole gang.
DH4 is much better than DH2 and DH3, mostly because it has moments of humor which make it a much more entertaining movie.  It’s not simply a string of explosions and shoot-em-ups (but it is mostly that, so you get your monies worth of bang).  Anyway, I admit to watching this movie and DH1 every couple of years and they are both terrific.  Actually, all four are very good films and well worth watching repeatedly if you enjoy this genre (and I do).  So, highly recommended!
The second film, “Lincoln“, I went to see with my oldest daughter, Rebecca.  She lives away from home, now, so I don’t get to spend as much time with Rebecca as I would like and usually when we are together, we’re talking politics.  I think we were both looking forward to seeing this movie because of our mutual interest in history and politics.  The movie is about the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution in Congress just before the end of the American Civil War.  Now in all honesty, despite Abraham Lincoln being one of my favorite Presidents, I knew almost nothing about the passage of this Amendment.  This is the Amendment abolishing slavery in the United States.
The movie is a fairly typical Steven Spielberg direction / production – in other words – excellent!  The music, the pacing, the color, the imagery, the attention to period detail are all superb.  It seems highly probable to me that “Lincoln“, Spielberg and Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln) will all be getting Oscar nominations and probably win.  I haven’t seen many great roles this year (or that many movies), but Day-Lewis is a lock (in my book) for the Best Actor nomination and award.
I found the vitriol in the House of Representatives to be amusing and interesting and certainly shed new insight into politics in our own life and times.  I also enjoyed the moments of humor, like when an exasperated cabinet member shouts, “Please, not another one of your stories!
If there are any criticisms of the movie, it’s that the movie ends predictably with the Amendments passage and with Lincoln’s assassination.  I guess there’s not much to be done about that though, as the movie is based on actual history and the Amendment did pass and the President was killed.  I guess Lincoln could have become a vampire slayer or something…  Nah!  Nobody would believe that.  (Or pay to go see it.)
In conclusion, this is one of the most enjoyable / educational movies I’ve seen in some time.  I walked away with even more respect for Abraham Lincoln.  Highly recommended!!
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