Category Archives: Thriller

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol

I’m a fan of the Mission Impossible film franchise (have yet to see the old TV show).They’ve always been good action flicks and are usually at least moderately funny. Always been a food enough reason for me to watch a movie.

Like all MI films the plot to Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol is kinda, wtf? They never seem to make too much sense and tend to be a bit vague. That’s never been the point fo the films. They aren’t intended to be smart detailed stories with deep twists and turns for us to analyze and follow. They’re action flicks focused at nice visuals and big explosions. That’s my interpretation at least.

Anyways, I didn’t really grasp the story. Now that I think of it though, I didn’t really bother trying to follow what the hell was going on. Eventually you figure out ti has something to do with nuclear missiles and that’s about it. Kind of a rehashing of cold war tension stuff. The thing that was going to bother me however, was Ethan Hunt got married in the last film. Did his wife just up and die randomly or leave him? Is that going to be the excuse so that the can run around and blow shit up and jump out of buildings? Sort of. Initially there isn’t much explanation. There’s supposed to be a lot of “a lot of shit has happened between now and the last movie and no one knows what that was.” Eventually the wife thing gets fully explained and it worked well enough for me. Initially though, it was a bit annoying. So yeah, the story again. Kinda starts out with you wondering what the hell is going on and takes a while for any details to be given.

Who cares though? Good triumphs over evil (sorry if I spoiled that for you) and Ethan Hunt lives to fight back in the next movie, since they do clearly set it up for another to follow, which considering how good this one is doing, will probably happen quite soon.

The visuals are great. Nuff said. MI always has some pretty sweet shots, and this fourth installment is probably the best in that department. Part of that is the locations they chose to use, but still. Some great looking shots throughout the entire movie. Especially when they are in Dubai. I’d actually like to go see this in IMAX because it would no doubt be pretty fucking sweet there, especially since they filmed using those cameras.

The action sequences all worked well. None of the fighting seems to stand out too much in my mind, but again the Dubai stuff is just freaking amazing. The only thing that I’m struggling with a  bit is that a lot of the “action” sequences seemed to be long. I keep remembering all of these long chase scenes and very few smaller ones in between. One scene in particular made me kinda wonder how long they were going to milk it because at that point I was like, “ok this is Mission Impossible, he’s gotten away by now.” So yeah, Dubai shit rocked.

The comedy is still here. Simon Pegg does a lot, but that’s sort of expected. It’s nice he got a beefed up role. Actually this movie seemed to be the funniest out of the franchise. The comedy worked well to. They did a good job of mixing it in with everything. The film had its emotional moments and they weren’t always broken by putting in a laugh. My theater was laughing pretty much constantly through the movie (though some of them were laughing by themselves because they were those kind of people who laugh at every single thing very loudly).

One of my gripes about the franchise is how much it reuses stuff, mostly tech. Some of it’s nice to see reoccurring, but it gets tot he point where it’s just overdone. The masks basically. They’ve become something of a joke because they constantly get used. There’s some slight meta joking about the use of the masks in this film, which I loved. In fact, while the masks are used, they aren’t used that often. Really at all. There are some other gadgets that get recycled, but again they make light of the fact that they’re being reused or tweak it some how. That and there’s plenty of new shit to go around. And as much as the MI franchise is known for it’s Bond-like gadgets, they pretty much all malfunction to some extent in the film. It puts more pressure on the actual skills of the characters, which again was refreshing.

Tom CruiseJeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, and Paula Patton, are you’re spectacular team here and really they’re the only people you see much of. Even the other “players” only appear in small pieces here and here. I thought everyone did a good job, including Mr. Cruise. I stand by him being a good actor still. You can make fun of his real life shenanigans all you want, but he still can act, especially in more comedic roles. Actually one of the things I like about the “team” is how they all have some personal shit to deal with. Not so much with Pegg, but instead of having one character brooding the whole time, they pretty much all have their moments.

I hope Brad Bird comes back to direct the next film. I think he did a great job and I think Cruise, Abrams, and Bird working together seems to be a pretty good fit. The two film before Abrams were different from the two he’s been involved with and while I like all of them, I think what they’ve managed to create in the fourth film will probably help them keep the franchise moving if the so choose. I mean Tom Cruise is almost fifty I think and he doesn’t look it. He can still play Ethan Hunt for a while if he wants.

So yeah, pretty solid film, especially for the franchise. Pretty fast paced with plenty of action and humor. Definitely worth the watching, and more so in theaters. I base part of my decision to see movies on the visual aspect. I want to watch action flicks in theaters because they rely on those big screens. I can watch a comedy at home.

Die Hard

Well this isn’t really a christmas tradition. I’d like it to be, but it still sort of is. Every year around christmas time I usually end up watching Die Hard again. Not every year and usually not on christmas eve like this year, but generally Die Hard gets a re-watch around the holiday. Personally, I’d like to make it more of a tradition.

Anyways as odd a choice as Die Hard maybe be to watch on Christmas Eve, it is set on that day. It technically takes place during the holiday. It’s sort of hard to tell. McClane’s wife is at a Christmas party in Nakatomi tower and they do allude to it a couple of times.

Anyways Die Hard is a bout this cop from New York who comes out to visit his wife in LA (she also has their two children). He stops by the christmas party and shit hits the fan shortly after. Some Germans led by Hans Gruber hijack the party and get up to some nonsense. McClane hides and basically fuck shit up. Eventually the police get involved and things get worse. In the end good triumphs, but that’s hardly a surprise. Really describing the plot to Die Hard seems kind of pointless. In my mind it’s a well known movie, but there are plenty of people unaware of it.

Anyway, I’ve always liked Die Hard. It’s a nice shoot ’em up, blow shit sky-high extravaganza. That and the movie has some pretty sweet lines and is actually funny. It’s a great action movie or comedy by itself for the most part and the two elements combined really work.

The actors though are the reason why. I like Bruce Willis. He’s great as John McClane. I’m assuming it’s his most notable role. I also recall reading somewhere that like 90 percent of his dialogue was improvised, so if that’s true, even more kudos for the man, because he has some great lines. Yippee ki-yay, motherfucker. Alan Rickman is also great as Hans (I love that Jeremy Irons plays his brother in the third film). He’s a great actor and does a great job at villains (though he he has amazing comedic timing). The supporting cast is great to. Reginald VelJohnson (Family Matters is probably why you recognize him), does a great job as does Paul Gleason. They both kind of play character types they are well known for and they do such a good job at it. The terrorists are all pretty good small roles as well. Same for some of the office workers or police/FBI. Not big roles, but they do a good job for the jokes they’re put in there for.

I feel like I should say more, but I can’t think of a lot to add. The dated references are great, especially if you catch them. I wonder how many people know who Roy Rogers or Arafat are. The edited version for cable is interesting to watch, because the film has a fair amount of explicative so editing them for cable is fun to listen to. Especially Willis’s catchphrase.

So yeah. I love Die Hard. Great action-comedy. If you haven’t seen it you should and hell, maybe you’ll make it a holiday tradition as well. It’s a good enough movie for it and even if you ignore the holiday bit, it’s a great movie.

Now that I’ve watched the first one, I’ll probably be watching and reviewing the others soon.

Gamer

Gamer is a movie that is actually really interesting. A lot fo what it touches on has the potential to make a great movie if it were written well. Essentially the movie takes place in a world were essentially The Sims and an FPS (first person shooter) are now real virtual games. The catch being that the “character” you play is real human being.

There’s more to it than that, but it’s unimportant. The movie fails to actually explore a potential goldmine for a premise. Instead we just get basically nothing in depth. It’s just an action flick.

The Slayer sections I suppose are shot ok. It does look like it could be Call of Duty or some similar FPS. There was a lot of quick cutting here though which made it hard to watch. I understand why it was done, but it didn’t really work. That and none of those sequences are really that interesting or special. The Society sequences are just disturbing. Again, the directors/writers could have done a lot with just this, but they don’t really. The way Society is presented is that it’s home to a bunch of perverts and they go out of their way to pretty much portray any sexual fetish they can find. Again I can see the reasoning for it, but since they didn’t develop it, it just felt like it was done in bad taste.

The cast has potential, but just falls flat. Gerard Butler doesn’t really do anything but run around and look tough. Same with Terry Crews, who I feel is underestimated and poorly placed in action movies. He’s a really funny guy. Kyra Sedgwick is wasted and doesn’t do a good job. Really the only performance that was good was from Michael C. Hall and really it wasn’t that great, especially knowing how good he is.

The music choices were good though. The technology presented is also interesting as well, especially Castle’s house/fortress.

In the end the movie just misses completely. An interesting idea problem drew the names it did as well as the audiences, but the final result from the movie just doesn’t work well.

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.

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.

 

V for Vendetta

Remember, remember. The fifth of November The gunpowder treason and plot. I know of no reason. Why the gunpowder treason. Should ever be forgot.”

For anyone unaware yesterday was the fifth of November, a day which has gained some popularity since the movie V for Vendetta was released. In honor of that day I decided to watch V for Vendetta. The movie is based off of comic book/graphic novel by Alan Moore. I own V for Vendetta, however I have yet to actually finish it. I always get sidetracked, often by reading Batman instead. Regardless I don’t have any desire to compare it to the graphic novel.

I’ve always enjoyed the movie, but I think it grows on me more and more with every viewing. I think that as I’ve aged I’ve started to grasp more aspects to the film since, if you want it to be, it can be quite deep. That’s one of the best aspects of this movie. It isn’t just an action film. Actually I wouldn’t really classify it as an action film. The movie has a great story that is well written and carried out. Along with that the dialogue is great. V is probably the first character that comes to mind with great dialogue, but really Sutler has some great rants and Prothero’s speeches are actually great as well.

The performances go along side the writing in helping to cement how solid this film is. I have to start with Hugo Weaving as V. I suppose this maybe a spoiler to some, but V never takes his mask off (that you can actually see). His face is never revealed. That means Weaving spends the entire movie with that mask on. A mask that has a very specific set of facial features permanently glued on. Weaving does an amazing job here expressing V even though you don’t see his face. A lot of it has to do with has voice acting, but he also does a great job physically at helping to give the character some life. It really is a performance that probably get’s overlooked because of the genre and that he is wearing a mask. The supporting cast is great though. Again, John Hurt’s head as Sutler is great. He does a wonderful job giving raving rants and Stephen Rea does a good job with Finch. Natalie Portman wasn’t bad and I was actually a bit disappointed in Stephen Fry’s appearance. His character seemed quite a bit like the man himself and I kind of wish more of that would have come through.

The movie does have some action to it, though I don’t feel like it’s that much really. What there is though is great. It’s wonderfully shot, as is the whole movie. I love films like this that are dark, because I feel like its easy to screw them up. There are plenty of movies that just use poor lighting and leave it at that. V however just looks very sleek and as dark as things are, you can actually see the details in the set.

V for Vendetta is a surprisingly excellent movie that is likely to get snubbed by people because of the genre it’s thrown in, which is a shame. I feel like the movie probably would appeal to a pretty wide audience assuming they sit down and watch it. I also feel like a lot of the themes of the movie are actually pretty prevalent in our current day. Defiantly a movie to watch and own.

~As a final side note to the movie’s impact on our culture just look to the quote at the beginning of the post or how popular the Guy Fawkes mask for the movie has become since its release.

Doomsday

I let this film passed by me when it came out. It didn’t look like my cup of tea. I generally prefer the books that deal with zombies or the apocalypse rather than the movies. However I decided to take a look at Doomsday as sort of research for my senior thesis.

I was surprised by this film. I had very low expectations and to some extent the film fulfilled that. Yet, it wasn’t that bad and I’m not quite sure why. The movie is horrible flawed by a lack of connecting various elements in the film. There are attempts at trying to provide some background and explanation, but it isn’t done all that well.

So the big thing with this movie. A virus has struck Britain and they finally built a giant wall and closed the gates, leaving Scotland to the home of the infected. Some years past and now the virus has reappeared into the city. There are some odd political movements done in this bit and all together it seemed very odd. Point is they send out a small group to find a cure across the wall because, low and behold some people are apparently still alive over there after some thirty years. There are two factions in this land. The first is a group looks like a mix of punk/industrial kinda style. They also eat each other and live in Glasgow. Overall very bizarre people, but nothing new really. Kind of a Mad Max feel almost (in fact they even have a car chase later). The second group lives in a castle and ride horses. Most of the men wear some kind of armor and the women are dressed in brownish dresses with bonnets.

There is a connection between the groups and there is a story. However the links are made in passing and aren’t dealt with. The punk-cannibals were actually pretty cool, more so if developed. The medieval thing could have been cool if it were on its own and developed. That’s the problem. The movie is a hodgepodge of cool ideas that don’t really fit and aren’t developed. That and the movie plays homage or steals from plenty of other films. How you feel about that is up to you. Some people hate when people do this, others love it or appreciate it. I didn’t really mind, but that has more to do with the film just being thrown together in general.

Still, I enjoyed the movie. The music seemed pretty good and some of the action bits were ok. I’m a fan of some of the cast like Bob Hoskins, David O’Hara, and Malcolm McDowel. Actually I though Rhona Mitra and Adrian Lester weren’t terrible considering what they were given. That and I guess some of those bizarre cool bits caught me off guard. Thinking about the film after the fact, it wasn’t that good. In the moment though, trying not to analyze it, it was passable.  It’s an instance of a film having more than enough ideas to make several good movies, but instead crams them all into one.

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