Category Archives: New York City

Be Careful What You Wick For!

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JOHN WICK (2014)

Director: Chad Stahelski

Starring: Keanu Reeves, Michael Nyqvist, Alfie Allen, Adrianne Palicki, and Willem Dafoe

Rating: R for bad language, graphic violence, gunplay up the wazoo and a bad thing happening to a poor widdle doggie.

Plot: Retired hitman John Wick goes on a monumental kill spree when Russian mob guys steal his car and kill his dog. What? They killed his dog? What the Helll man? Go get those bastards, John!

 John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is having a bad week. His beloved wife has just died, leaving him emotionally shattered and grief-stricken.

A delivery truck arrives with an adorable beagle puppy his wife sent him so he will have someone to care for, which will hopefully heal his broken heart.

If you aren’t crying now, you must be a robot.

As John and his pup – who he names Daisy (awww) begin to bond, John runs afoul of a trio of obnoxious Russian dudes who take a liking to John’s totally bitchin’ 1969 Mustang.

The Russian baddies attack John in his home, and in a frightening fit of bad guy evil, the head Russian douche Iosef (Alfie Allen) kills Daisy and takes John’s car.

There is a supercomputer that has yet to be invented that can design the algorithm required to calculate how freaking huge a mistake that was.

See, John Wick isn’t your average bro with long greasy hair and a movie named after him. He’s a former mob assassin who has killed more guys than the Death Star. The guy buys bullets by the pallet. The Grim Reaper sends him thank you cards.

In summation, John Wick was really good at killing people. And some jerk killed the dog his dead wife gave him.

CUE THE BLOODY RAMPAGE.

Wick learns Iosef, the no good dog killer is the no good son of Viggo Trasov (Michael Nyqvist) the Russian mob kingpin of New York City and John’s former boss. Knowing that his former top assassin will kill everyone in his way to get to Iosef, Viggo sets a bounty on Wick’s head and sends a hit squad to take him out, but Wick dispatches his foes with an amazing display of hand to hand and gun to gun combat.

Seriously, the kick ass fight moves Keanu pulls off in John Wick make his Kung Fu in the Matrix trilogy look as lame as his British accent in Dracula. Whoever choreographed the fisticuffs in this movie deserves a gold star. And a cookie.

Wick heads into New York City where he checks into a swank hotel that caters to assassins only; which is a smart move by Wick since hotel rules state that no assassins can kill anyone on the premises. Plus they have free Wi-Fi and a make your own waffle bar at breakfast! I wonder if Travelocity can hook me up with a reservation..

Wick immediately goes to work hunting down Iosef and making hamburger out of any mob goon who is standing in his way. Making matters worse, a crazy female assassin named Ms. Perkins (Adrianne Palicki) and Wick’s former mentor Marcus (Willem Dafoe) have joined in on the hunt to take out Wick because a bounty is a bounty and they obviously didn’t hear the part about Iosef killing Wick’s puppy!

John Wick is a no nonsense shoot em up thriller with a simple plot and awesome action. Reeves is a man of few words in this movie, which is great because the talking thing was never Keanu’s go to move. Reeves has signed on to star in a sequel to John Wick so I’m not giving away the ending by saying our hero avenges Daisy’s death and cuts the Russian mob population in the greater New York City area by about 85 percent.

You the man, John!

Maybe you should get a cat this time.

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Shell on Earth!

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)

Directed by: Jonathan Liebsman

Starring: Megan Fox, Will Arnett, William Fitchner, Tohoro Masamune, and for some reason Whoopi Goldberg.

Plot: Genetically mutated turtles trained in the martial arts battle Shredder and his army who are terrorizing New York. Just like they did in the 80’s comic book. And the 80’s animated series. And the 90’s live action film series. And the 90’s live action TV series. And the second animated series. And the CGI animated movie in 2007. And the third animated series.

Rating: PG-13 for martial arts violence and the near death of a friggin talking CG rat.

Unless you’re a bear living in the pacific northwest for the past thirty years (and congratulations to you – most Grizzlies don’t live past 25) you’ve probably heard of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

These “heroes in a half shell” have been fighting bad guys and scarfing pizza for generations of fans on TV and in movies. Plus, the turtles have had their names slapped on tons of merchandise over the years. including toys, videogames, bed sheets:

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and breakfast cereal!

 Nothing says “you’re famous” like a sugar loaded cereal with pizza shaped marshmallows!

Their first live action movie, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990) was a huge hit with fans. The two sequels that followed were moderate successes, which is amazing considering one of the films featured an appearance by everybody’s least favorite 1990’s white man – Vanilla Ice.

Pictured: The beginning of the end.

Pictured: The beginning of the end.

After a two decade break from the big screen, the TMNT returned big time in the big budget action movie Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. This reboot is produced by Transformers guru Michael Bay, so it’s chockfull of explosions, destruction of property, slow motion explosions and slow motion destruction of property. Oh, and our teenage turtles (along with Master Splinter are now computer generated which makes them look even more freakish even for creatures that live in a New York City Sewer.

TV reporter April O’Neil (Megan Fox, who looks about as Irish as a San Genaro festival) is looking for a great story that will make her top dog at her station, but her bosses want her to keep doing fluff stories while everyone else reports on the dangerous Foot Clan, an armed gang that has been looting and terrorizing New York City. Against the advice of her lunkheaded cameraman Vernon (Will Arnett, who really needs to start saying no to a script or two), April strikes out on her own to track down this powerful crime organization.

While observing a Foot Clan robbery at the docks, April sees a quartet of ninja warriors take out the Clan and foil he robbery. A few days later the same mysterious group lays a smackdown on a squad of Foot Clan soldiers who took hostages in a subway station. Intrepid April learns the identities of the four vigilantes who have the courage to stand up to the evil Foot Clan: They’re the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles:

and great googamoogle are they scary looking!

April befriends the freakish ninjas and learns from their Master Splinter that they were part of a lab experiment run by (surprise!) April’s late Father and his partner Eric Sack (William Fitchner) to test a miracle mutagen that would cure all diseases, even that toe fungus thing that makes your feet all gross.

A lab fire destroyed the research lab and killed April’s father, but young April rescued a lab rat and four tiny turtles and set them loose in the sewer, where they mutated into giant walking talking creatures who know ninjitsu and bicker like any other loveable sitcom family!

But Sachs, now an evil billionaire is hell-bent on making more evil billions by capturing the turtles and using their blood to make an antidote for a virus he’s about to unleash on the unsuspecting citizens of New York City!

Oh, did I mention that Sachs is in cahoots with Shredder (Tohoru Masamune), the maniacal  leader of the Foot Clan? He is. I told you – Sachs is evil!

TMNT as I said before, is loaded with plenty of action, violence, and mayhem, which can be expected from a Michael Bay production. That’s either a good thing or a bad thing, depending on how much you enjoy Michael Bay’s movies. I happen to enjoy Bay’s movies as much as I enjoy a trip to the dentist for a long slow root canal while fighting a very bad stomach flu, but your love of the Bayman might differ.

 But on a positive note, at the midway point of the movie there’s an extended chase down the side of a snow covered mountain that answers a question I’ve been pondering for two decades: can the shell of a mutant ninja turtle crush a Humvee?

The answer is yes. I can move on with my life now.

 

 

Pedal Power!

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PREMIUM RUSH (2012) Director: David Koepp Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Shannon, Dania Ramirez, Jamie Chung, Wole Parks  Rating: PG-13 for violence, language, and guys on bikes breaking traffic laws willy nilly with the speeding and the driving on the sidewalk…

According to the opening narration of Premium Rush, there are 1,500 bicycle messengers in New York City, and speaking as a former New Yorker who was nearly run over more times than he can remember by these two wheeled hotdogs, I’d say that number is probably right.

Day in and day out these fingerless glove wearing warriors zip through heavy traffic on their beat up cycles, delivering important documents across town because E-mail, instant messaging, the USPS, UPS, and Fed Ex are for bike hating squares!

Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Looper) stars as Wilee, a guy who dropped out of law school to be a bike messenger because lawyers have to wear suits and aren’t allowed to ride bikes in the courtroom. He’s having a bad day because things with his on again/off again girlfriend Vanessa (Dania Ramirez) are off again and another messenger named Manny (Wole Parks) is trying to take away Wilee’s title of most awesome bike messenger in the history of forever.

Wilee is dispatched to Columbia University to pick up a very important envelope from Vanessa’s roommate Nima and deliver it to Chinatown right away because it’s very important to the plot and we won’t find out why until later in the movie. Unfortunately the envelope is also wanted by oily NYPD detective Bobby Monday (Michael Shannon with a fierce New Yawk accent) for reasons we will also learn about later in the movie, but not as later as Nima’s thing.

The race is on as Monday chases Wilee through the streets to get his hands on the envelope. But Monday soon finds out his career as a corrupt cop is not all fun and games because Wilee (who as we know is the most awesome bike messenger in the history of forever) is able to elude him with his slick riding skills and total disregard for the safety of every pedestrian and motorist in the greater New York area.  Things get even more complicated when Vanessa, Manny, and the entire NYPD get in on the fun. Can Wilee get the super important envelope to Chinatown by 7PM and collect the thirty dollars he’ll get for the delivery?

That’s right. He’s risking his life for thirty bucks. Probably should have stayed in law school there Wilee.

Premium Rush is a slickly made film with plenty of thrills and breakneck stunts. Oh, and pedaling. Lots and lots of pedaling. How much pedaling? Compared with other bicycle themed movies, Premium Rush has more pedaling than American Flyers, but not as much pedaling as Breaking Away.  

But wait, how much pedaling does Premium Rush have compared to the other big screen movie about bike messengers – the 1986 Kevin Bacon drama Quicksilver?

I’d say the advantage goes to Premium Rush. Man, I’m so glad I spent years taking carefully detailed notes on how much pedaling is in every movie that featured bicycles and bicycle riding. It finally paid off. Awesome.

WHO’S THE LOSER NOW, CYNTHIA!!!!