Posts Tagged ‘thrillers’

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RIP Vanity: “Action Jackson”

February 16, 2016

Poor Action Jackson. It’s like the dinosaur that just keeps on scampering through the jungle, blithely ignoring the funnel of ash kicked up by the meteorite that hit yesterday. In other words, it was dead but just didn’t know it yet. By its premiere in February of 1988, we’d already had Lethal Weapon and Above the Law, and the summer would bring us Die Hard—all of which heralded the arrival of lean, wily action heroes who got by more on wit and cleverness than bulk. The era of the muscle-bound, solo action hero was over, and Carl Weathers arrived at the party too late to build his own franchise. Of course, now we can look back and appreciate it for the dumb fun that it was. What’s cool about Action Jackson? Well…
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The January doldrums continue: “The Boy”

January 31, 2016

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Well, it’s still January, and Hollywood is making damn well sure know it by continuing to make us suffer for the unpardonable crime of wanting to see a movie a month after the holiday season. The latest instrument of punishment is The Boy, which, while not a terrible movie, is still pretty bad. And that’s before it becomes outright, pants-crappingly stupid. Wanna hear about it? Oh yes you do…
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Criminally Overlooked: “He Never Died”

January 30, 2016

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When you come across a movie with a title like He Never Died, which stars Henry Rollins, and features a poster with Rollins bellowing like a Trump supporter at a feminist poetry-slam, well, you gotta start sharpening the knives. I mean…you read that last sentence, right? Okay, so I don’t have to explain the tremendous potential for mockery. Except, holy shit, He Never Died—clunky title aside—is actually a really good little movie. And what makes it so enjoyable is a perfectly modulated action-comic performance by Rollins, who shows off some fairly sophisticated acting chops. Throw in some moody direction by first time-ish director Jason Krawczyk, and you got precisely the kind of under-the-radar gem that gives B-movies a good name.
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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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All the better to KILL you with, my dear: “The Visit”

January 10, 2016

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Ordinarily, a new movie from M. Night Shyamalan is met with the anticipation reserved for a meteor hurtling toward your home, or the digestion of two day-old sushi. Sure, the spectacle of the carnage to come will no doubt be fascinating, but it’s also probably going to hurt a lot. I’ve already gone into detail about the implosion of Shyamalan’s career, and frankly, so has everyone else. In fact, M. Night Shyamalan’s name is about as synonymous with bad movie as Ed Wood’s. That’s why it’s such a pleasant surprise that his latest film, The Visit, is not only an effective little thriller, but also quite a good movie.
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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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Son of a gun, gonna have big fun down at the bayou: “No Mercy”

October 27, 2015

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I think in the 1980s there was some kind of an epidemic of partners being murdered. As a matter of fact, I’m pretty sure the only reason any homicides were solved at all in the ‘80s was because a cop’s partner was the victim. Like, 90% of the police work being done was in service of avenging a partner. Fortunately, avenging one’s partner allows for some pretty wide latitude (stealing from undercover FBI agents, invading Japan, etc.) In this, 1986’s No Mercy is a pretty straightforward example of the genre, notable only for its leads and the respective trajectories of their careers.
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