Archive for the ‘Action’ Category

13 Hours13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi does not hedge. The graphic at the beginning of the film does not read, “Based on A True Story” or “Inspired by Real Events.” Instead, audiences see a straightforward claim of absolute accuracy: “This is a True Story.” Given how politicized the terrible events of September 11-12, 2012 have become, viewers could reasonably expect that what follows this blanket statement would be a 144-minute screed against Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, especially in light of the rhetoric coming from the current presidential campaign.

Yet, that is not the case. 13 Hours is a film full of surprises, and nothing is more surprising than director Michael Bay and screenwriter Chuck Hogan’s decision to eschew agitprop and focus instead on making a good, old fashioned action flick. (more…)

The Force AwakensStar Wars: The Force Awakens is a movie that demands a second viewing by most filmgoers – fanboys and casual observers alike. The reason for a repeat is rather simple. The heightened expectations surrounding the film’s release left most audiences in a state of diminished awareness, capable only of following the action from Point A to Point B and forming immediate visceral reactions: good, bad, loved it, hated it. Our eyes were wide and unblinking, but also unfocused on the less obvious and without the needed peripheral vision to incorporate all aspects of the production into our criticism. (more…)

The Hateful EightQuentin Tarantino wants you to know that he has now directed eight feature films. “The Eighth Film by Quentin Tarantino,” appears in the opening credits of his latest work. His eighth film even has the word eight in the title. Short of pulling a Chad Johnson and changing his name to Ocho, there seems little else Tarantino can do to convey that (1) he has done seven films before The Hateful Eight, and (2) he attaches great importance to the number. To celebrate the accomplishment and further his self-sustaining image as a film buff extraordinaire, the director turned the premiere of The Hateful Eight into a week-long event by releasing a “Roadshow Edition” of the movie to be shown in 100 theaters before the wide release of the standard version. (more…)

momentumGiven the preposterous casting of Olga Kurylenko as a jewel thief and discredited CIA operative, the largely phoned-in performance of Morgan Freeman (not a comment on the quality of his acting – his sporadic appearances in the film are almost entirely limited to being one half of a phone conversation a continent away from the action), and the start-to-stop silliness of the premise, plot, and denouement, the surprising thing about the new thriller Momentum is that it’s not absolutely awful. In fact, it’s even somewhat entertaining and enjoyable and not entirely in the “OMG, this is so bad, it’s good” way.

How can a film destined to be terrible wind up as not too bad? (more…)

Big GameIf you have an 11-year old boy or, even, better, if you are an 11-year old boy, Big Game might just be your favorite movie of the summer of 2015. If you are an 11-year old Finnish boy, Big Game might be your Citizen Kane.

For everyone else, it is important to realize what Big Game is not before you make the trek to the Cineplex for a showing. It is not plausible, logical, or consistent within its own narrative. It is not a movie that is on par with Escape from New York or Die Hard, although it borrows liberally from both. It is most decidedly not a conventional Samuel L. Jackson movie. (more…)

Jurassic WorldThe most amazing thing about Jurassic World is that none of its manifest flaws are fatal. Somehow, the movie retains enough magic from the original to be entertaining in spite of the sub-standard dialogue, tired plot, uninspiring special effects, indifferent performances, and recurrent boneheaded decisions by pivotal characters. The success of this film will stand as either a testimony to the enduring strength of 1993’s Jurassic Park or as a contemporary milestone marking the low threshold in place for summer blockbusters.

More likely the latter. (more…)

Gun WomanToo much of what passes for drive-in movies these days are arch ironic from the get go, overly self conscious attempts to cook up the heady cinematic concoctions of the late 60’s and early 70’s with modern ingredients reheated in a 21st-century Hollywood microwave. This trend started with Grindhouse, but traces of modern taint can be found even in otherwise stalwart efforts of late including Hobo with a Shotgun and Bring Me The Head of the Machine Gun Woman. The genuine stuff is out there, but it’s rare and easily missed.

That’s what makes Gun Woman special. This 86-minute extreme import from Japan is the real deal, an organic exercise in hardcore drive in. Leave the kids at home with the sitter for this one, or, at the least, make sure they’re asleep in the back seat with a blanket over their heads. Accidental exposure will result in more than a nightmare – we’re talking years of lockdown therapy. Gun Woman is the finest exploitation film since Raze (2013), the absolutely bonkers flick that showed captured women fighting to the death. (more…)