Posts Tagged ‘thrillers’

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City of Lights (and Glocks): “3 Days to Kill”

March 18, 2014

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This is a toughie. No, not because I’m conflicted about my feelings toward 3 Days to Kill—I pretty much hated it, and at one point was so bored I tried to file my income taxes on my iPhone during the middle third of the movie (word to wise: don’t ever try this…you fat-finger one key and the next thing you know the IRS wants actual proof of the elephant preserve you’re claiming as  a write-off). No, 3 Days to Kill is a toughie, because I can’t figure out what the hell anyone was doing with this movie? Like, what kind of movie were they making? What kind did they think they were making? Why did they make this? And why, when they saw the final result did they not just destroy it with fire and say that the final cut was destroyed by rampaging elephants who escaped from a preserve? That last one would actually be very helpful for me, if anyone wants to, you know, sign an affidavit to that effect. Anyway, let’s talk about this movie.
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Please remain in your seats with your seat belts fastened until Liam Neeson punches you in the face: “Non-Stop”

March 4, 2014

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Well, it’s a new year, and you know that means: time for a new movie about Liam Neeson killing people. I don’t know exactly when this became a tradition—I guess sometime around 2009, when we, as a country took in the ludicrosity of the AARP-eligible Neeson running around Paris murdering human traffickers and said, “Yes! This—this is what has been missing from my life!” Anyway, Neeson’s latest entry into this sub-genre of filmmaking is Non-Stop, which differs from his usual outings in two very important ways: 1) none of the people he kills are foreigners, and 2) he does it in a plane.
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Guilty Pleasures: “Terminal Velocity”

February 13, 2014

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Friends, Romans, Cinephiles, lend me your ears (figuratively, of course; this is a blog). I watched Terminal Velocity with naught but the intention to roundly eviscerate it and score some cheap laughs at Charlie Sheen’s expense. This is, after all, an all-but-forgotten 1994 thriller that was all-but-forgotten by…well, a month later in 1994. It would be easy to say that this movie went splat like one of the hapless skydivers that the plot centers around, but that would imply the movie had some weight. In fact, this movie more blew away in the wind like one of those skydivers—if they were full of helium (shit, that started so good). Alas, gentle reader, I come here today not to bury Terminal Velocity, but to praise it, for this movie is utterly brainless, totally improbable, and a lot of fun.
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The hunt for a new action hero: “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit”

January 19, 2014

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After more than a decade hiatus, CIA analyst Jack Ryan–Tom Clancy’s signature creation—is back on the screen. First embodied by Alec Baldwin nearly 25 years ago in a career-making (and, perversely enough, career-derailing) performance in The Hunt for Red October, the role then went to the more appropriate, but less interesting Harrison Ford in Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger. An attempt to reboot the character was made in 2002 when Ben Affleck stepped into the role in The Sum of All Fears, and that went about as well as everything else Affleck did in the 2000s. Now, Hollywood as decided to reboot the reboot with Chris Pine stepping in to retcon the character yet again in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. This time, however, the results are far more positive.
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From the Mists of Time: “Wanted Dead or Alive”

January 14, 2014

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Here’s a strange little number. It’s a movie that could just as easily fit in the “Criminally Overlooked” category as “From the Mists of Time,” since it’s actually quite a good movie, which never garnered the cult status it deserved. Even now I’m hesitant to wholeheartedly endorse it, since it’s the product of a more innocent time, which now takes on the dimension of a nightmare. Still, there’s no getting around the fact it’s a solidly-built thriller with more than ample amounts of ‘80s cheese, all served atop a hearty helping of Rutger Hauer. Okay, that metaphor went wrong, but you get the point: Rutger Hauer, sawed-off shotgun, terrorists in L.A. Need I say more? Of course not, but I will…
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An order of tea and WHOOP-ASS! “Welcome to the Punch”

January 12, 2014

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There is a lot to thank the UK for—James Bond, Doctor Who, Thandie Newton—but their most recent contribution to the Western world has to be the revival of the totally-unironic tough-cop genre. TV shows like Luther and movies like Welcome to the Punch feature totally absurd action setpieces and the hoariest of cop-movie clichés, all played totally straight. It’s as if the British crime thriller has finally caught up to Tango and Cash. These stories aren’t good by any stretch of the imagination, but they do have a retro charm—something on full display with Punch.
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Here be dragons (at last): “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug”

December 24, 2013

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So here we are taking another trip to the Hobbit-hole, because A) MGM isn’t done  squeezing money out of J.R.R. Tokien’s works, and B) nothing else was playing. Seriously. This movie took over Southeast Asia more thoroughly than the Imperial Japanese Army in the late 1930s. I didn’t much love the first one, but, hey, this one has a dragon. Dragons make everything better, right? I mean, except for those lazy-ass dragons from D-Wars which didn’t even have wings, dragons are always cool. And this one is played by Benedict Cumberbatch who, if he doesn’t exactly have a dragon’s physique, has one of the best voices in the biz.  Hey, that’s worth sitting through what seems like twelve hours of padding, right? Plus the seats were really comfy. Anyway, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is better than its predecessor, but still suffers from the same patently obvious bloat. Oh well…
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Going off the rails: “Snowpiercer”

December 10, 2013

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If you dislike winter as much as I do—heralding as I do from a place that transforms into a frozen wasteland seven month out of the year where the wind howls like a soul in purgatory over a landscape of desolate snowdrifts—then the environmental cataclysm that forms the backdrop of the quirky new sci-fi parable Snowpiercer will likely strike a chord. If you’re one of those fortunate people who’ve never experienced sensation of feeling your hair freeze or don’t understand why you’d need to let your car run for a half an hour before driving it into the unforgiving elements…well, then Snowpiercer’s tale of social injustice will probably hook you. Because no matter what climate you were brought up in, no one wants a schoolmarmish Tilda Swinton lecturing you day in and day out.
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A lot of ill-advised choices: “The Counselor”

December 8, 2013

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The Counselor has earned a level of infamy for one particular scene—the one in which Cameron Diaz does the splits on Javier Bardem’s Ferrari and rubs her cooch against the windshield—and that’s really too bad, because, that scene aside, the movie is actually pretty dull. Yet still, there is that scene, and I guess it tells us something about the film. An award-winning novelist wrote a scene in which a woman has sex with a car (“sure, that happens,” he obviously thought), an Academy Award-nominated director filmed a woman having sex with a car (“yeah, I can shoot that,” he obviously thought), and one of the most famous actresses working agreed to simulate (I’m giving her the benefit of the doubt) having sex with a car (“yeah, that’ll bolster my career,” she obviously thought). This particular scene tells us a lot about The Counselor: namely, that this movie exists because very talented people can have very bad judgment.
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Meet the new telekinetic, same as the old telekinetic: “Carrie”

November 12, 2013

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The answer is no, none at all.

Sorry, but I have to assume that the first question coming from any vertebrate upon seeing a review of the new theatrical remake of Carrie has to be, “is there any reason to remake this?” And you have your answer. Look, Carrie is a justifiably classic movie—maybe not the scariest movie ever made, but it’s a straightforward enough story and a film that has aged well. So no, you’re probably not going to improve upon it. But you know Hollywood: new ideas are, like, way hard. And they might not work. Why not just make it easy on everybody and remake something that already worked? I mean, it’s not like we’re getting paid to be creative or anything. And besides, kids today won’t watch anything made before 1993. Right? Well, that’s the logic, anyway. The crappy, crappy logic that gave us this.
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