Category Archives: Mystery

Limitless

If only I could somehow organize everything in my head and focus. In a sense that’s what Limitless starts out as. A struggling writer ends up taking a pill that gives him a burst of nonstop adrenaline in addition to organizing whats in his head and allowing him to learn faster. Essentially his brain becomes a supped up computer.

Limitless is riddled with plot holes. I don’t know how you could expect it not to be. The film is outrageous and that’s kind of a good thing. It isn’t supposed to be realistic. You know the first clue to that? They don’t ever attempt to explain the drug. The movie takes a nifty idea and just tries to have some fun with it. I liked that. Still, there are some holes that are frustrating and the movie isn’t quite even. The tone tends to fluctuate and at times the story was a bit wandering. The ending was really good. It’s actually a bit of twist maybe. On one hand I expected it. It made sense, but in the back of my mind I kept going, nope won’t end that way. The movie is about drugs really, so the studio wouldn’t let it go that way. I’m kind of glad they did.

The visuals were pretty damned good though. I really liked the cinematography here and the style worked. The music was also great as well. It did a great job of matching up with the film. That and the Black Keys “Howlin’ For You” was a great choice, but I love that song anyways.

The acting was ok. There weren’t any glaring performances that blew. Bradley Cooper is hard to take seriously at first. I mean the half-assed attempt to make him look like a bum didn’t really work. I did however, like the effect they used on his eyes. The man has some lovely blue eyes to begin with, but when he’s drugged they make a point of highlighting that. Not sure if contact were used at some point, but I sort of noticed the effect. Anyways, he kind of falters in some of the more dramatic moments, but overall he did a pretty good job. Robert DeNiro was DeNiro. I don’t know how much he was really even acting, but he was still great despite the small screen time. He still kicked Cooper’s ass.

Not an amazing movie, but it had enough working for it to keep it a fun, fast, visually striking flick that keeps your attention for most of the movie. Usually if they start loosing you, they ratchet things up real quick to bring you back in.

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Archangel

I think Daniel Craig is a pretty good actor, but part of me still holds a grudge for him being cast as Bond. He just didn’t fit the bill, though he does a great job at the new version of Bond that they’ve created. When Craig was first cast as Bond one of my cousins hopped on the bandwagon and praised him. I sat and watched part of Archangel with him while my family was visiting, but not much. Now it’s been a few years and I’ve finally gotten around to checking the TV movie/mini-series out because Craig is in it.

Archangel takes place in Russia and deals with the clash of old and new Russia or the lack thereof. There’s a secret dealing with Stalin and Craig’s character being a Professor with a ton of knowledge on Stalin obviously wants to find this supposed diary and of course shenanigans ensue. Sort of.

Sounds something like dan Brown book right? You’re not far off. It’s based off of a novel by Richard Harris who writes mostly historical fiction novels similar to this. I never read Archangel, but I have read a few of his others and the books are really good. From what I recall they had a bit more action and suspense in them than this TV mini-series. Dan Brown’s books also have a lot more action in them, though neither are really action movies/books.

Daniel Craig was good and I suppose the rest of the cast wasn’t to bad, though nothing to call home about. I suppose I can see the argument that Craig hardly looks like a professor.

The series itself didn’t amaze me. The first episode wasn’t to bad. It showed some promised and seemed well produced. After that though, things just went down hill. There just wasn’t enough oomph or pizzaz, whatever your favorite word is.

The Next Three Days

I never know what to make of thrillers. There are plenty of good ones and they set the bar high. Unfortunately there are plenty of thrillers that get churned out that just don’t work. It’s a hard story to tell and I think audiences are very critical of these movies. Heck, I’m pretty sure people criticize the great ones. I’ve always been a fan of them though, which makes it even more frustrating when trying to decide whether I want to watch a new one or not. Advertising isn’t always great.

I initially was torn about The Next Three Days. It looked like it might be pretty good, but the premise was just insane. A guys wife (Crowe and Banks) get’s sentenced to prison for supposedly killing someone. Determined that she’s innocent, Crowe ultimately starts planning how to break her out of prison. Seems a bit farfetched and really it is. I hate to sound like a broken record, but no movie is perfect and I actually think thrillers tend to be one of the most flawed movies. The amount of twists and turns that we require of these films makes them more prone to be screwed up and The Next Three Days is no exception.

Apart from the premise being absurd (to me at least), my big problem was with the lack of character development. We focus so much on Russell Crowe trying to plan this break out that we only get a certain kind of development from him. The character does develop, but for me I didn’t know who he was to begin with. I never felt like there was enough backstory provided for him or Elizabeth Bank’s character for that matter for me to really know what to make of them. John (Crowe) was presented as an intelligent guy because he was figuring all of this nifty stuff out. I just felt like a it more backstory to who they were would’ve helped. It’s hard to agree with the character’s motives to begin with, but it could be done. Unfortunately we don’t really know the characters well enough. Of course there are a number of other things nit pick about, but that didn’t bug me so much.

The acting was really good though, which is helped make up for the plot issues. Russell Crowe turns out a solid performance as does Elizabeth Banks and the rest of the cast. The acting was actually pretty damned good. I’m not a fan of Crowe in general though. I tend to like his movies, he tends to pick really good ones. I’m just not a fan of him though and I’ve never been able to place why exactly.

One of the other faults of the film though is the timing. Things are paced a bit awkwardly and some of the scenes seem thrown in simply so that they can be used for later purposes. The whole thing with Olivia Wilde for example. The ending was great though. Again criticize them plot holes and how unrealistic it is all you want, the pacing was pretty damned good and I though they kept the suspense going pretty well. By the very end things died down. They dragged it out a bit to long, but still the ending overall made up for the rest of the movie being on the slower side.

It’s far from crap and I enjoyed it. It’s nowhere near great, but it’s better than most thriller or mystery styled movies that get churned out.

 

The Rum Diary

 

My initial expectations were to say that this is a weird film and all of the girls who adore Johnny Depp wont want to watch this. Having seen the film that statement is not necessarily applicable anymore.

The Rum Diary is based off of the Hunter S. Thompson novel of the same name. Many people are familiar with the other film based off of Thompson’s work, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Technically the film Where the Buffalo Roam sort of falls into that category as well. For those who are familiar with Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, this is not a sequel or a prequel. Johnny Deppp does play the fictionalized version of Thompson in both films, but both characters are actually different and so are the movies. It’s been a while since I’ve seen Fear and Loathing, but I still remember how bizarre the film was. I liked it, but it was defiantly bizarre, but what else could a movie steeped in drugs and liquor be but bizarre? So for those expecting another Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, this is not it.

The movie is actually quite good. I was actually surprised, though I was also assuming it to be like Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. I’ve never read The Rum Diary before either. Visually I enjoyed the film. I suppose a lot didn’t really happen there, or at least nothing special, but they managed to not screw up a gorgeous location.

The acting however is what makes this movie. I suppose some may be disappointed with Depp. Personally I liked him here. I thought he did a good job, especially since he manages to tone down the version of Thompson people have seen in Fear and Loathing. It’s a different character and Depp handles it well, though he is overshadow somewhat in my opinion. There were a number of other characters that drew my attention away from enough that he really didn’t seem like he was all that important. Aaron Eckhart deserves a nod for being the charming, yet dislikable businessman. He plays the role well, but really isn’t on screen much to make your own decision about the character. It’s pretty much made up for you. Amber Heard is hot and that’s pretty much her role. She did a good job for what the role is. I can’t say she was crap, because she honestly doesn’t have much of a role. I’ve never grasped the complaints people have of  the acting from women with these kind of roles. Michael Rispoli does a good job complementing Depp as his sort of drunken sidekick and Richard Jenkins brief appearances as the editor is nice. Giovanni Ribisi deserves some great praise here though. He’s a great actor to begin with and he seems to do an extraordinarily good job with creepier or oder characters and his role as Moburg is no exception. At first he’s just there, but the further you get into the film the more I wanted to know about that character. He’s the eccentric one out of the cast, and with a  story that does actually get a bit dull, he keeps things interesting a bit.

The plot or lack of one is what kills the movie. I suppose that’s expected. I didn’t go into the movie expecting to see anything coherent so what I got was actually an improvement. Still, the movie does wander about and the plots are just sort of half baked. This didn’t bother me to much for most of the film. By the end though, it just didn’t work. You can’t tie together a movie that’s been wandering about for two hours. The romance plot failed as did the whole business venture. Neither of those plots went anywhere or worked. Even the newspaper was a miss. What kept me interested were the bits in-between which were generally Depp and Rispoli wandering around drunk. I may be wrong, but it seemed like a good portion of the film consisted of those kinds of scene. If not, they were well done, paced nicely, and frequently enough that they made up for the plots the were probably meant to structure the film.

And I did find the film funny. Actually it seemed more of a comedy than anything else, though in some aspects I have a hard time saying that. The movie ends poorly and makes me want to detract that statement. Still, I laughed (as did others in the theater) often. It may not be as hilarious as The Hangover is for some people, but I enjoyed it. I suppose part of it is a matter of your sense of humor and how much you pay attention to the dialogue, since some of the dialogue is pretty quick.

There is a drug scene, but only one. Spoiler alert, but it involves LSD. It’s not much and is probably a disappointment to most people. Most of the movie is filled with alcohol, usually rum or beer.

One thing I missed in this film was Depp’s voice. He’s got a lovely voice and generally does a good job at narration or voice overs. Unfortunately he only has a few of those moments here. I thought they were nice, but they were slightly oddly placed and since they were few in number they seemed out of place.

I stand by my statement of enjoying the film. I’m still game for watching it again as well. As bad as parts of it were, I was still able to enjoy myself and really the only reason I second guess the film is because I’ve attempted to analyze and pick it apart to some extent. All movies are flawed and reviews tend to point them out. At least I bother to sometimes. Still, it doesn’t mean those films aren’t worth watching.

So it’s not Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. It’s actually more likely to get more people to watch it and enjoy it than that. It seems to have a broader feel. That and this film is nowhere near as dark and bizarre as I remember Fear, being. People may be disappointed, but I guess that’s to be expected. I think part of it has to do with expectations going in.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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