Posts Tagged ‘crime’

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Criminally Overlooked: “Last Man Standing”

January 23, 2016

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New Line Cinemas might have been forgiven for thinking they had a sure-fire hit—or at least a modest box office winner—with Last Man Standing. After all, here was a bang-bang-shoot-‘em-up action film headlined by a still-hot Bruce Willis just two years after the monster success of Pulp Fiction, and directed by action-film maestro Water Hill. Unfortunately, Last Man Standing sunk like a Russian submarine at the box office when it opened in 1996, and while Bruce Willis’s reputation emerged unscathed (as it would continue to for the next fifteen of mostly terrible films), it hastened Walter Hill’s descent into Hollywood obsolescence. Twenty years later it’s worth taking a second look.
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Criminally Overlooked: “Blackhat”

January 7, 2016

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As an avowed fan of Michael Mann, release of his 2015 film Blackhat was a somewhat bittersweet affair. Mann isn’t a prolific filmmaker, so any new film he makes is cause for excitement. But Blackhat was preceded by bad buzz, and its January release date wasn’t exactly a blinding display of confidence on the part of the producers and distributors. Unsurprisingly, the movie slipped into and out of theaters as stealthily as one of Mann’s protagonists robs a bank, only with a lot less to show for it in the end. And that’s too bad because while Blackhat might be minor-Mann and content to mostly recycle tropes better deployed in earlier films, it’s still a solid, if unremarkable, thriller.

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Operating on a full charge: “The Amazing Spider-Man 2: Rise of Electro”

May 3, 2014

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If you recall my review of 2012’s The Amazing Spider-Man (or if you bothered to read the review I helpfully reposted), you know that I was less than thrilled at that film. Despite better actors in the lead roles, and a giant lizard-man (and, really, don’t giant lizard-men make everything automatically more cool? Name for me one thing that wouldn’t be more cool with a giant lizard-man? The Oscars? The DMV? Christmas mass?), it was hard to see TASM as anything other than a mercenary rights-grab by Sony. So maybe it was my diminished expectations that kept me from running as hot and cold on The Amazing Spider-Man 2: Rise of Electro as most critics. I thought this movie was pretty good. It’s a fun, if unremarkable, adventure with one of the more endearing superheroes. At least until it all goes to hell in the last act (but more on that later).
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In Memory of Bob Hoskins: “The Long Good Friday”

May 1, 2014

The Long Good Friday begins with Harold Shand (Bob Hoskins) swaggering off a Concorde and through Heathrow Airport with the arrogance of a lion inspecting its patch of the Serengeti (or wherever lions live) while a ‘70s-era saxophones wail on the soundtrack. The jazz might as well be Harold’s own personal theme music, since, as we quickly learn, he came up hard in the underworld of the London docks, defeated all contenders, built a criminal empire, and is now poised to make a killing developing the very docks Harold tamed. He wears a perfectly-tailored, cream-colored suit; keeps with a beautiful, intelligent mistress (Helen Mirren); and splits his time between his penthouse apartment and yacht moored on the Thames. Harold, if anyone, deserves wah-wah saxophones playing while he walks. The Long Good Friday is about the 48 hours in his life in which he tears it all down. It’s a great movie—one which secures Bob Hoskins in the pantheon of brilliant actors—and it more than deserves its place as my 300th post.
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An order of tea and WHOOP-ASS! “Welcome to the Punch”

January 12, 2014

Welcome To The Punch

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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He cometh and he killeth, too: “The Iceman”

October 10, 2013

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Richard Kuklinski, the titular Iceman of Ariel Vromen’s film, is a stone cold killer in a way that pushes that description as close to the literal as is humanly possible. He was a loving husband and father, but also a mainline psychopath who is believed to have killed over 100 people, and felt not a thing about it—not remorse, excitement, or even satisfaction. He killed people the way one flicks a light switch when they enter a room: just an act without any meaning attached to it. Suffice it to say, there’ll never be an FX series featuring this guy as another sympathetic/repulsive anti-hero. To his credit, Vromen—who co-wrote and directed this film—does the only logical thing you can do with a character like Kuklinski: he treats him like the monster from a horror movie.
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What went wrong: “Dick Tracy”

March 14, 2013

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In the summer of 1990, movie execs (particularly those at Disney) were convinced that the upcoming Dick Tracy was going to be that summer’s Batman. It, too, was based upon a long-running comic character. It was written by Top Gun scribes Jim Cash and Jack Epps Jr. It starred and was directed by Warren Beatty. It featured Madonna, fer chrissakes! What, possibly, could go wrong? Okay, did you read any of the stuff I just wrote? Yeah? Then you know what could wrong. I mean, that calculation only works if you live in Bizarro World and sit around shaking your square head, saying, “Me no understand. Me am think Dick Tracy am movie good.” Yeah, but when you throw 110% of the movie’s budget at advertising, well, hell, you can convince people of anything.
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