Category Archives: Thrillers
Starring: Kevin Costner, Gary Oldman, Tommy Lee Jones, Gal Gadot, and a very brief Ryan Reynolds
Director: Ariel Vromen
Plot: A hardened death row inmate is implanted with the memories of a dead CIA agent to stop a cyber criminal from blowing up things like cities and people.
Rating: R for graphic violence, gunplay, bad language, and yucky brain surgery stuff.
Hello everyone! It’s Tom, your DVD Critics Corner pal!
Sorry I’ve been away for a few months, but I have a very legitimate and totally not made up excuse for my absence.
Something very strange happened to me at the end of March.
The last thing I recall it was opening day of Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice. I was exiting the movie theater after seeing the movie, wondering if Jesse Eisenberg’s performance as Lex Luthor was either off-putting, flat out annoying, or both.
It’s both by the way. It’s both.
Anyhoo, as I approached my mid sized sedan in the parking lot, a couple of guys wearing suits with dark glasses threw me into a sinister looking van with no license plates and none of those adorable stick figure family decals on the window.
The next thing I know a scientist implants me with the brain patterns and memories of some secret agent man and I’m in a life or death struggle to stop some psycho from stealing a computer program which will enable him to launch nuclear missiles and ruin everyone’s weekend.
Oh wait…That didn’t happen to me! That stuff happens to Kevin Costner in the 2016 spy thriller Criminal!
My bad. So why haven’t I posted in months? Truth be told I forgot the password that unlocks my computer. I’d rather not talk about it. Let’s review Criminal, shall we?
CIA agent Bill Pope (a pre Daredevil Ryan Reynolds playing it straight) rushes around London with a satchel full of cash, ready to deliver it to some computer hacker called The Dutchman because he’s Dutch. Man.
The Dutchman created a “wormhole” program that can hack into any computer on the planet. He was going to sell it to wealthy lunatic Xavier Heirndahl, but changes his mind because Heirndahl plans on launching a few nukes because he’s a lunatic, and decides to sell his wormhole to the CIA.
But before Pope can deliver the moulah to The Dutchman at a secret safe house he’s ambushed by Heirndahl’s private army of soldiers (the kind all wealthy movie bad guys have at their disposal) and dies without telling Heirndahl the location of the Dutchman.
The top CIA guy in London Quaker Wells (a manic Gary Oldman) is determined to bring The Dutchman in, but since Pope stashed him in a place where only he knew, Wells decides to try an unorthodox way to find The Dutchman and finish Pope’s mission.
Yes, Oldman’s character is named Quaker. Who names their kid Quaker? Parents who want their son to grow up to be a dickhead CIA boss, that’s who!
Wells enlists the help of renowned brain scientist Dr. Franks who has developed a technique that transfers the memories from one brain to another without having to call a Vulcan to do a mind meld.
Dr. Franks is played by Tommy Lee Jones, who looks like he wishes his brain and body was transplanted into a better movie.
Unfortunately the good Doctor’s brainwave transfer will only work on a certain type of brain, and that brain belongs to hardened criminal Jericho Stewart (Kevin Costner) who pretty much hates the world and for some reason growls his words like Christian Bale’s Batman.
Using a couple of drills and a bunch of high tech movie props, Dr. Franks transfers the dead Pope’s brain patterns into Jericho’s live noggin. But when Jericho fails to divulge any of Pope’s secrets or even fire off snarky one liners in Ryan Reynolds’ voice, an impatient Wells sends the criminal back to prison.
Jericho promptly escapes from the two poor CIA guys guarding him and heads to London to steal things and beat people up (He is a homicidal criminal with zero impulse control you know) but before he begins to wreak real havoc on innocent Londoners he starts to have visions of a bag of money, some library, and a really hot brunette who looks like Wonder Woman. He makes his way to Pope’s house (thanks to Pope’s brainwaves he knows the alarm codes) and meets Jillian Pope (Gal Gadot, who really is Wonder Woman!) and her daughter Emma who are still really sad that Ryan Reynolds only had a ten minute part in this movie. As Pope’s memories begin to take hold, Jericho feels compelled to find the missing money, locate The Dutchman and get Van Wilder out of his head!
Criminal ratchets up the tension when The Dutchman comes out of hiding to try to sell the wormhole to the Russians, the CIA realize that Dr. Franks’ brain transfer worked and try to catch Jericho and Heirndahl starts shooting up London trying to stop Jericho and recover the wormhole program so he can launch a few nukes because those damn nukes aint gonna launch themselves!!
Despite having a top notch cast and an interesting sci-fi premise Criminal has an exciting blockbuster thriller brain that’s been transferred into a direct to DVD movie body. I give Costner credit for playing an amoral jerk who slowly learns to do the right thing, but he did the same thing in Waterworld.
And we know how well that turned out.
Good to be back!
Hey everyone. Tom here, your DVD Critics Corner compadre. Please, remain seated.
Summer is almost upon us. I know this because My left knee throbs when summer is coming. My right knee throbs when there is cake nearby.
That, I don’t understand. But I do like cake.
Anyhoo, Summer means a great big load of blockbuster movies will be dumped on us between now and September, some will have superheroes, others will have bloodthirsty space aliens, and at least one will have the undeniable stench of Michael Bay.
I’ve been doing a lot of research on the big movies about to hit the multiplexes; reading all the movie websites and blogs, combing over ever trailer frame by frame, and picking the brains of my private nerd council (aka my friends) to bring you the very first DVD Critics Corner Summer Movie Preview and Spoiler Alert Special!
Let’s get started, shall we?
Please Note: My “spoilers” are for entertainment purposes only. They will not give away any important plot points. Would I do that to you?
Movie: Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice
Release Date: March 25
Synopsis: With Metropolis in ruins, people are concerned that Superman (Henry Cavill) may not be the hero the world needs. Batman (Ben Affleck) thinks the Man of Steel needs to answer for his crimes. Let the battle begin!
Spoiler Alert! – After a long fight, Batman and Superman put aside their differences and team up with Wonder Woman for an important mission that if successful will save humanity as we know it – preventing the Baywatch movie from being made!
Movie: The Jungle Book
Release Date: April 15
Synopsis: A live action version of the Disney animated classic about a boy living in the jungle with his animal pals.
Spoiler Alert! – All the animals are real. The kid is CGI.
Movie: Captain America – Civil War
Release Date: May 6
Synopsis: Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr) and Captain America (Chris Evans) find themselves on opposing sides when the government wants to reign in The Avengers.
Spoiler Alert! – In the post credits flashback sequence, The Hulk bursts into tears when he’s told he won’t be in the movie.
Movie: The Angry Birds Movie
Release Date: May 20
Synopsis: The birds must defend their home against the evil pigs!
Spoiler Alert! – Ten minutes into the movie you will realize how many hours you wasted playing Angry Birds on your phone. It was a lot, wasn’t it?
Movie: X Men – Apocalypse
Release Date: May 27
Synopsis: The X Men must join together to defeat super mutant Apocalypse before he destroys the world.
Spoiler Alert! – Halfway through the movie, Mystique remembers that she’s Academy Award winning actress Jennifer freakin Lawrence and walks off the set.
Movie: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows
Release Date: June 3
Synopsis: The Turtles are back, and are facing a new enemy!
Spoiler Alert! – One of the Turtles screams Cowabunga! and a piece of you dies inside.
Movie: Independence Day – Resurgence
Release Date: June 24
Synopsis: Earth once again faces a huge invasion from outer space!
Spoiler Alert! – Will Smith is not in this movie. But good news – Jeff Goldblum is! So that’s kind of good I guess…
Release Date: July 15
Synopsis: An all new all women team fights ghosts in this remake/reboot!
Spoiler Alert! – In mid July the internet will collapse from all the angry comments from disgruntled Ghostbusters fans who don’t want any stupid ol’ girls in their Ghostbusters movies!
Movie: Star Trek Beyond
Release Date: July 22
Synopsis: The Enterprise crew is back for another adventure!
Spoiler Alert! – Since Simon Pegg (who plays Scotty) wrote the script for this one, Scotty will be called upon to save the day when big doofus Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) puts the crew in danger. AGAIN! And Scotty totally scores with Uhuru.
Movie: Jason Bourne
Release Date: July 29
Synopsis: Former superspy Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) is still on the run from – wait? is he still on the run? I thought he cleared his name in the last movie.. Or did he? You know what? I don’t care any more.
Spoiler Alert! – Someone playing a CIA official will shout “Find Jason Bourne,” every 12 minutes. Extra Spoiler Alert! – They won’t find him.
Movie: Suicide Squad
Release Date: August 5
Synopsis: The world’s most dangerous villains are recruited by the government for secret missions.
Spoiler Alert! – The internet will collapse again as disgruntled fans worldwide take to the comments section to whine about how Heath Ledger was a way better Joker than Jared Leto. By then I will have stopped giving a flying crap about anything and will curl up into a ball and weep until the Fall.
ENJOY THE BLOCKBUSTERS!!
Hey movie fans, Tom here, your DVD Critics Corner pal!
Well, the Oscars are finally here! All the glitz and glamour, the stars, the movies…
The gold statue thing… the guy who says stuff…
Look, I’m going to be honest. I completely lost interest in the Academy Awards when Star Wars: The Force Awakens was not nominated for best picture.
I know! Right? Complete outrage! So because of this egregious miscarriage of justice, I am boycotting the Academy Awards show this year. I have much better things to do with 5 hours on a Sunday night thank you very much. My socks are not going to sort themselves you know.
Since I did promise a quiz of some sort, here’s one based on the last movie I just saw which features natural disasters, massive destruction of property, and a DVD Critics Corner Hall of Famer! That beats some snooty ol art house Oscar movie any day! Here’s a DVDCC Quiz about – San Andreas!
SAN ANDREAS (2015)
Tom watched the movie San Andreas because:
- He enjoys special effects laden disaster films.
- It was the next film on his Netflix DVD queue.
- He just felt like it okay?
- You’re not the boss of him!
- LAPD SWAT team Leader
- Air Rescue Pilot for the Los Angeles Fire Department
- Some other tough job you would never have because you’re a giant puss!
- Optimus Prime’s stunt double. The man is huge.
Ray is kinda bummed out because:
- His estranged wife Emma (Carla Guigino) has given him divorce papers and is going to move in with her wealthy architect boyfriend Daniel (Ioan Gruffudd).
- His daughter Blake (Alexandra Daddario) is going off to college.
- If his muscles get any bigger, he won’t be able to fit in his rescue chopper.
- All of the above.
- The San Andreas Fault is about to shift dramatically.
- Any major city along the fault line is going to be destroyed by giant earthquakes.
- He’s played by Paul Giamatti, who really is too good for a movie like this.
A massive quake hits L.A. and traps Emma atop a crumbling skyscraper. Raymond:
- Flies to the rescue in his helicopter.
- Extracts Emma from the building before it collapses.
- When listening to her cries for help on the phone replies “Why don’t you get Mr. Rich Architect to help you, ya whore!” before hanging up.
Raymond and Emma then race to help Blake who:
- Is in San Francisco which is being leveled by the biggest quake ever.
- Is using the survival skills her Dad taught her to survive the chaos.
- Is super hot, and therefore must survive because so many hot girls in Los Angeles were probably killed in the earlier quake, and hot girls must not go extinct!
There are many exciting scenes in San Andreas, particularly:
- Raymond and Emma parachuting into a crumbling San Francisco.
- A massive tsunami that snaps the Golden Gate Bridge in half!
- Paul Giammatti looking at the earthquake data on his laptop and saying “Oh my God” a bunch of times. He’s such a good actor!
San Andreas draws to a dramatic conclusion when:
- Raymond and Emma rescue Blake from a flooded building.
- Mother, Father, and Daughter are reunited as rescue workers move in to comfort the survivors.
- EVERY CG BUILDING, TREE, AND NATIONAL LANDMARK IN SAN FRANCISCO HAS FALLEN!
- Give him a minute to think about it, okay?
- You’re not his Mom!!!
Enjoy the Star Wars free Oscars.
JURASSIC WORLD (2015)
Director: Colin Trevorrow
Starring: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Ty Simpkins, Nick Robinson, Vincent D’Onofrio
Plot: Everything is fine and dandy at Jurassic World until a super smart genetically engineered dinosaur breaks loose and starts eating people. Sorry, no refunds!
Rating: PG-13 for dinosaur violence and icky blood splatter.
Unless you’ve been living in a remote mountain cave without cable and missing a head for the past 23 years, you’ve probably heard of the Jurassic Park film franchise. And if you have been living without a head for that long, congratulations! I hear that’s really hard to do.
Based on the best selling novel by Michael Crichton, the first three Jurassic Park films were mega blockbusters, earning billions of dollars at the box office and scaring the crap out of a generation of children who thought dinosaurs were those cute and cuddly creatures from The Land Before Time film series.
The film series was dormant for about 14 years until executive producer Steven Spielberg decided it was time for another chapter in the dino-saga, and Jurassic World came roaring into theaters this summer. This sequel/reboot features a new cast, new park, and a bunch of new dinosaurs who gosh darn just won’t stay in their cages no matter how nicely they are asked!
Picking up 20 years after the events of the first movie, Jurassic World is now a ginormous amusement park on the same island the original Jurassic Park once stood. Every day thousands of tourists come to Isla Nublar to ride a baby triceratops, watch a giant dinofish eat a tiny shark, and purchase expensive merchandise in one of many Jurassic World souvenir shops.
Billionaire industrialist Simon Masrani (Irrfan Khan) now owns the park and all the dinosaur cloning technology, and is looking for a new attraction that will keep the visitors coming back and spending way too much money for a Venti latte at the Jurassic World Starbucks. I’m not making that up. There is a Starbucks in the park in the movie.
Claire Dearing (Howard), the operations manager of the park shows Masrani their new hybrid “Indonimus Rex,” which is very big, very mean, and just loves killing and eating anything with a pulse.
Meanwhile, raptor expert Owen Grady (Star Lord Chris Pratt) has been training a quartet of raptors to sit, roll over, and stay off the sofa for some reason. Park security chief Hoskins (D’Onofrio) thinks the raptors would make great soldiers once they are trained, but Grady shrugs off such an outrageous suggestion. I mean, it’s not like Vincent D’Onofrio has ever played a treacherous jerk who turns on everyone in the third act before, right?
Anyhoo, Grady warns Claire that her new pet dinosaur is super dangerous and should not be the next stuffed toy at the Jurassic World gift shop, but before Claire can say “hey, aren’t you that Star Lord guy,” the Indonimus Rex escapes from her escape proof pen and starts killing and eating anything with a pulse.
Claire, Grady, and the rest of the staff try to get the thousands of park guests to safety before the I Rex can make it across the island to where most of the delicious dinosaurs and people are located. To complicate matters Claire’s two nephews are trapped outside the park when their cool hamster ball car is destroyed by the I Rex. As Claire and Grady try to rescue the kids, Hoskins and his security team learns the hard way that genetically engineered dinosaurs don’t liked being told to get back in their cages or no more snausages!
When a swarm of pterodactyls starts carrying off park guests waiting to be evacuated from the island, Grady gathers up his raptor pals and heads out into the jungle to take out the I Rex in a classic man vs dinosaur vs raptor showdown. Spoiler alert: the Starbucks doesn’t survive. Great. Claire is going to be so pissed off!
Like the original Jurassic Park, Jurassic World ends with a multi billion dollar theme park in ruins and lots of innocent bystanders either injured, killed, or eaten. It’s doubtful the park will ever open again (between the lawsuits, the property damage – have you ever tried to clean raptor blood off of concrete?) but since Jurassic World made over a billion and a half dollars at the box office, it’s safe to say we haven’t seen the last of Grady, Claire and all their dinosaur pals.
Maybe they could get Starbucks to sponsor a new park.
Think of the cross promotion!
Tazo Rex tea!
Hey Starbucks, if you’re reading this, don’t steal my ideas.
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.
If superhero movies have taught us anything, it’s a team of awesome and capable characters are better than one when it comes to kicking butt.
Iron Man? Good. Iron Man plus Captain America, Hulk, Thor, Hawkeye, and Black Widow? Skadoosh.
Without teamwork, you are lost. And without Lost, we never would have known about the Dharma Initiative.
Actually, not sure if that’s a bad thing.
Anyhoo, here’s another list of badass movie characters you’d want on your team when trouble comes calling.
Occupation: Bounty Hunters, galactic lawbreakers
As Seen In: Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
Pros: Rocket is a technological genius, hacker, escape artist. Groot is Groot. Cons: Rocket is homicidal, Groot is….well he’s Groot.
The Deal: It would be hard as heck to find a duo that did more damage on screen in 2014 than Rocket the Racoon and his houseplant/muscle Groot. Rocket is feisty, murderous and angry, and Groot is kind, gentle and strong. They’re the Odd Couple for the new century! Who wouldn’t want them on the team? Plus Groot can really bust a move.
Shining Moment: We are Groot.
Occupation: Game Show Contestant, Over thrower of Evil Governments
As Seen In: A bunch of those Hunger Games movies.
Pros: Expert archer, brave and selfless. Cons: Dates idiots.
The Deal: Not just another pretty face, Katniss is a plucky gal who doesn’t like to play games; especially when that game is a twisted reality show that’s a gory fight to the death. But Katniss took her first appearance on The Hunger Games and became a symbol of a strength and bravery, making her the perfect leader for a revolution. So if you need a team member to make a rousing speech, Katniss is the one to go to. Plus she can kill lots of bad guys with her bow and arrow. Winning!
Shining Moment: That flaming dress. All kinds of fabulous, girlfriend!
Occupation: Paranormal investigator, monster puncher
As Seen In: Hellboy (2004), Hellboy: The Golden Army (2008)
Pros: Practically indestructible. Cons: Smoker, eats a lot, cat person
The Deal: You want muscle? Hellboy has muscle to spare. It’s probably because he’s a demon from Hell. I hear most Hellspawn are pretty jacked. But it’s okay, he’s on our side. As a lead investigator for the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense, Hellboy has seen a lot of weird stuff, and has a huge assortment of weapons to combat weird stuff, so keep him fed and try to ignore his huge collection of pet cats, and things will be hunky and dory.
Shining Moment: Dropping a huge gear on Kroenen in Hellboy. Big time pwnage.
Occupation: LAPD Detective, suicidal loner
As Seen In: Lethal Weapon 1-4
Pros: Martial arts master, very good with guns. Cons: Uses lots of ammo, could be crazy, smoker.
The Deal: Look up loose cannon in Wikipedia, and you’ll see a picture of Martin Riggs firing hundreds of bullets at bad guys while destroying a ton of police and city property. He loves to break stuff. Like Hellboy, Riggs is pretty much indestructible. He’s been shot, stabbed, hit by cars, yet he keeps coming back for his weekly paycheck. Don’t let him show you that trick he does with his shoulder. Not pretty.
Shining Moment: Beating the crap out of Gary Busey in the first Lethal Weapon. You deserve a medal, dude.
Occupation: Doesn’t matter. He’s Morgan Freeman.
As Seen In: Wherever he is needed.
Pros: Have you heard his voice? Cons: Shut up.
The Deal: Whatever character Morgan Freeman plays is really good at what he does. From outfitting Batman to fixing a crippled dolphin, the man has skills. Use them!
Shining Moment: Didn’t you get the memo?
This is DVD Critics Corner’s 100th post. Thanks for reading.
3 Days to Kill (2014)
Starring: Kevin Costner, Hailee Steinfeld, Connie Nielsen, Amber Heard
Plot: Aging CIA agent with serious health problems tries to get some family time in but is forced to do one last job because the CIA hates families!
Rating: PG-13 for gunplay, explosions, and close quarter punchin’ and kickin’.
Hey kids. Let me tel you all about this movie I just watched! It stars an aging movie star who plays a badass assassin…
No, its not Taken.
Anyway, he has a young daughter he’s trying to shield from his dangerous career but…
No, it’s not Taken 2.
It’s written by Luc Besson and it has some car chases and gunfights and..
No! Its not Taken 3, which is coming to a theater near you on January 9, 2015!
Why do we always have to argue when I’m doing the blog?
3 Days to Kill stars Kevin Costner, the untouchable man who danced with wolves and fielded dreams in Waterworld. He plays Ethan Renner, a veteran CIA spy on a mission with his team to capture a pale bad guy known as The Albino (Tomas Lemarquis) who is trying to sell a dirty bomb to some dirty people. Unfortunately, things turn south as the often do in these movies and bullets start flying and stuff gets blown up and lots of European guys get dead. Oh, and the Albino escapes.
Feeling a bit under the weather after the disasterous mission, Ethan gets a checkup from his CIA doctor and finds out he’s got a brain tumor that will kill him faster than Message in a Bottle killed his comeback in 1999.
Hoping to make the most of the last few months he has, Ethan heads back to Paris to reconnect with his estranged wife Christine (Connie Nielsen) and his daughter Zooey (Hailee Steinfeld) who he abandoned long ago for the demands of his job. Christine barely tolerates his return and Zooey knows very little about her Dad, and wonders if he is in fact a travelling salesman as he claims to be. Maybe it’s because he always smells like gunpowder and is covered in fresh bruises whenever he visits.
But before Ethan can book is first daddy/daughter day, he is approached by another CIA operative Vivi (Amber Heard) who makes him an offer the former Prince of Thieves cannot refuse: find and kill The Albino’s boss, a man known only as The Wolf, and Ethan will receive an experimental drug that will cure him.
Ethan is not so sure if he can trust Vivi, but since she gives him a sample of the treatment for free, and since he has to do something during the day when Zooey is at school, he takes the job.
Before we continue with the review, I’d like to go of on a slight tangent.
Look, I know we as movie viewers are expected to suspend disbelief a bit when we watch these CIA spy type films, but Vivi is without a doubt the worst secret agent in the history of movies.
First, she maintains a “low profile” by wearing a Lady Gaga wig and dressing like a European dominatrix:
Second, in keeping with the “I’m a spy so I must maintain a low profile” thing, she tools around Paris at breakneck speed in a sports car:
And finally, Viv the super covert /don’t attract any attention/ leave no traces/ top secret spy racks up a body count that rivals the opening 15 minutes of Saving Private Ryan:
Just so we are clear, WORST. SPY. EVER.
Okay, tangent over. I won’t pick on Vivi any more. I’m sure leather corsets are in the CIA budget somewhere.
Anyhoo, the rest of 3 Days to Kill jumps back and forth between Ethan trying to win back his estranged daughter and Ethan trying to hunt down and kill The Wolf. There’s also subplots involving the African family squatting in Ethan’s old apartment, and a henchman for The Albino who Ethan kidnaps for information then kidnaps a few more times to ask him for parental advice when he learns the guy has teenage daughters of his own.
See? A top secret CIA spy has regular problems just like the rest of us regular Joes!
3 Days to Kill draws to a rousing and bullet riddled climax when Ethan’s two worlds collide during a huge party at the penthouse apartment owned by the family of Zooey’s boyfriend. You thought your Mom and Dad meeting your sweetheart’s Mom and Dad for the first time was awkward, you should try it with gunplay! Hoo boy! I hope the caterers brought some extra bandages!
Despite having the writer from Taken, the father/daughter dynamic of Taken, and the European setting of Taken, I have to admit I was not taken at all by 3 Days to Kill. Costner took the director’s note to look tired and sickly and ran with it, because he looks like he’d rather be someplace else the entire movie, and Amber Heard’s character is from a completely different movie altogether.
That movie is about the WORST. SPY. EVER.
Directed by: Gary Fleder
Starring: Jason Statham, Izabela Vidovic, Winona Ryder, Kate Bosworth, Clancy Brown, James Franco
Plot: An ex-DEA guy moves to a quiet town with his daughter and runs afoul of some meth dealing rednecks and killer bikers who are just dying to get their asses kicked because the ex-DEA guy is Jason Statham!
Rating: R for bad language, a little sex, meth cooking, and a glorious amount of kicking and punching!
I’ve never been to New Orleans, so I don’t know much about it. I know they celebrate Mardi Gras, shiny beads are valued currency, and vomiting in the streets is encouraged.
New Orleans is in Louisiana, another place I know very little about except from what I’ve learned from the various movies I have seen. According to action/thriller type movies Louisiana is one giant swamp. Seriously, the swamp is everywhere! Also, just about everyone in Louisiana lives along the swamp in a decrepit old shack with a rickety porch. Rich people live in giant mansions or plantations that are pretty but still in a swamp, so they’re “swamp pretty.” Oh, and there are alligators everywhere, because in the opening credits of every movie set in Louisiana they have a shot of a giant gator slithering into a murky swamp. But the most important thing I’ve learned about Louisiana from the movies is that the people who live there are vicious bunch of greasy loons who don’t own shirts with sleeves that really hate you and want to kill you.
And I thought New Jersey was unpleasant in spots.
Okay, I’m sure the real life Louisiana is a wonderful place. But movie Louisiana is a rough and terrifying place, especially if you’re Jason Statham and you just moved into town with your daughter like in the movie Homefront. I mean, how can you hope your kid will make honor roll this year if murderous meth addicted rednecks want to kill you? It’s the worry of every modern day parent I’m sure.
Undercover DEA agent Phil Broker (Statham) has infiltrated a biker gang that is about to make a meth deal so huge Walter White would flip his pork pie hat. But since this is a movie, Broker’s cover is blown and the deal goes to heck, leading to a massive gun battle which kills several cops and bikers and leaves Broker with a death mark on his head by the gang’s leader Danny T (Chuck Zito) who really hates going to jail when his drug deals go wrong.
Two years later, Broker (now a widower) has moved to a small Louisiana town with his cute daughter Maddy (Izabela Vidovoc) hoping to put the violent DEA years behind him and have a life that doesn’t involve pretending to be a greasy biker. Their awesome Daddy-Daughter time is short lived when Maddy kicks the crap out of a bully one day in the schoolyard.
The bully’s Mom Cassie (Kate Bosworth), the queen of the greasy meth addicts demands revenge, and when her equally greasy husband nearly gets his spleen handed to him when he picks a fight with Broker, Cassie calls upon her brother Gator Bodine (James Franco) to bring to bring balance to their white trash world by killing the brooding stranger and his pretty daughter.
It turns out Gator is also the local meth dealer who has the sheriff in his pocket and evil on his mind. When Broker easily dispatches two of Gator’s thugs at a gas station (seriously, would you take a swing at a a brooding bald guy with a “I love beating people to death” bumper sticker on his truck?), Gator breaks into Broker’s house and discovers files that reveal Broker’s secret undercover past.
With his newfound information, Gator contacts his girlfriend/meth business partner Sheryl (Winona Ryder, seriously) who happens to know the biker gang that Broker infiltrated years before because she used to be a meth addicted biker whore before she became a meth addicted drug dealer. Hey, everyone chases success in his or her own way.
Sheryl informs Danny T she knows where his old buddy Broker is hiding, hoping to leverage this info into a mega south eastern drug distribution deal for her and Gator’s meth business. But wouldn’t ya know it, dangerous meth dealing bikers just can’t be trusted, and Danny T dispatches a hit squad led by the sadistically greasy Cyrus (Frank Grillo) to kill Broker, Maddy, and probably Sheryl and Gator if they don’t go along with the plan.
It’s a home invasion of the hillbilly kind as the evil bikers attack Broker’s house with more firepower than your average Marine platoon. But since the home belongs to action hero extraordinaire Jason Statham, a man who kicks the crap out of more people before breakfast than you do before a million breakfasts, you know little Maddy is going to have a safe place to call home when the smoke clears.
Hopefully the house is still standing.
Homefront is by no means an original movie – there have been lots of films featuring a hero up against bad guys who run the town – but the final five minutes of the movie are well worth the rental, particularly if you’re not a fan of the sometimes off putting James Franco. I won’t spoil it for you, but Jason Statham does to Franco what millions of people wanted to do to him after his dreadful co-hosting of the Oscars in 2011.
Thanks Jason. We owe ya one.
ESCAPE PLAN (2013)
Director: Mikael Hafstrom
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jim Caviezel, Amy Ryan, Sam Neil, Vincent D’Onofrio
Plot: A prison escape expert is double crossed and finds himself in a high tech prison that is really super hard to escape from. I mean, they have lots of guards and locked doors and everything!
Rating: R for gunplay and bloodshed and guys getting clubbed and tazered. Surprisingly, not one single prison shower joke.
Without a doubt prison is number three on my list of places I hope to never go.
Number two is a live taping of the CBS sitcom Two Broke Girls: a show which deserves to be called a “comedy” the same way Schindler’s list could be categorized as a “the feel good movie of a lifetime.”
Number one on my list of places I hope to never go is the popular mall store Hot Topic. The loud music, the rubber bracelets, the posters and t-shirts featuring bands I’ve never heard of; Hot Topic is the overstocked Sarlaac pit I hurriedly dash past on the way to the soft pretzel guy.
I loves a good soft pretzel.
Anyhoo, a high tech escape-proof prison is the setting of Escape Plan, where the guards are cruel, the discipline is swift, and the cafeteria menu is loaded with sodium and carbs! Oh, and you’ll probably die trying to escape.
Ray Breslin (Stallone) is a structural engineering genius and prison escape expert who is paid by maximum security prisons to try to break out of their prisons. It must be a pretty lucrative job because Ray has a huge office building with a fun support staff and an oily partner named Clark (D’Onofrio) who probably won’t screw him over.
Ray is approached by the CIA to break out of a super top secret prison so secret, they can’t tell Breslin and his team where it is. Ray takes the job along with the huge check that comes with it, but before he can say “you can always trust the CIA,” he’s thrown in a truck, drugged and taken to the super-secret prison which is code named The Tomb, where everyone lives in tiny cubicles and there is no windows to the outside world. Sounds like my old apartment in New York.
Turns out (big surprise here) Ray has been royally screwed over. The warden who was supposed to be his contact is in fact another guy named Hobbes (Jim Caviezel) who knows nothing about Ray’s real identity and assignment and has different set of orders: Keep the breakout expert locked away forever or maybe longer, and kill him if he tries to escape.
Ray now has to put all his skills to use to break out of the most secure prison ever built. Luckily he’s befriended by a veteran con named Rottmayer (Schwarzenegger) who knows plenty about the prison and also wants to escape before the warden can torture information out of him about some master criminal named Mannheim who Rottmayer works for.
Escape Plan is full of suspense and intrigue as Ray teaches Rottmayer the intricacies of prison escape planning while trying to uncover the identity of the bad guys who wanted him locked up. Can these two tough guys put aside their differences long enough to realize that they love each other like no other prisoners have loved each other before?
Oh wait, that’s another prison movie. Forget I said that.
Things draw to a slam bang conclusion as Ray and Rottmayer lead a full scale riot to escape the escape proof Tomb. There’s a great plot twist at the end when Ray finally learns who put him in the Tomb which nearly cost him his life, but I’m not ging to give it away because I don’t like to spoil things. Also, I have a terrible short term memory so I don’t remember what happened at the end of the movie any way.
Speaking of movies, did I tell you about Escape Plan starring Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger?
In conclusion; if you grew up watching the action movies of Stallone and Schwarzenegger, you’ll enjoy seeing these two big screen legends share a movie for the very first time.
If you were too young to remember or weren’t even born when these guys ruled the summer blockbuster movie season, you’re obviously one of those “millennials” the internet news reports are always yammering about. You with your fixie bikes and SXSW festival things. I bet if Sylvester Stallone was an iPhone app you’d know who he was! Now get off my lawn!
I’m just kidding. You youngsters are fine.
Seriously get off the lawn. I just seeded.
BULLET TO THE HEAD (2013) Director: Walter Hill Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Sung Kang, Sarah Shahi, Jason Momoa Rating: R for bullets to the head, punches to the face, cursing from the mouth, and bleeding on the floor.
Ya gotta give it up for Sylvester Stallone. For a movie star who is old enough to retire and spend his days telling kids to get off his lawn, he looks like a man half his age in the thriller Bullet to the Head.
I bet he works out. He probably eats healthy too. I could work out and eat healthy, but if I cut back on the junk food, several snack cake companies would have to lay off thousands of employees. I cannot have that on my conscience. Would you like a Twinkie?
Anyhoo, in Bullet to the Head, super ripped sexagenarian Sly plays James “Bobo” Bonomo, a hitman who like most movie hitmen only kills guys who really deserve to be killed. As the film opens, Bobo and his young partner Louis (Jon Seda) whack a coked up jackass in a swanky hotel suite. Bobo spares the life of the hooker who witnesses the killing because as I said before he is the good kind of hired killer.
As Bobo and Louis enjoy a post homicide drink at a crowded New Orleans bar, a big dude named Keegan (Jason Momoa) stabs Louis to death, which really pisses off Bobo and puts a serious damper on ladies night at the bar.
Meanwhile, Washington D.C. Detective Taylor Kwon (Sung Kang) arrives in New Orleans looking for his rogue partner only to find out he was the coked up jackass that Bobo and Louis killed. Turns out Kwon’s dead partner wanted to blackmail a powerful New Orleans businessman named Morel (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) who is actually a crime boss determined to buy up half of New Orleans and build nice shiny New Orleans condos.
Oh, did I mention this movie takes place in New Orleans?
Kwon figures the murder of his partner and the death of Louis are connected, and because he’s an amazing detective with a smartphone, he tracks down Bobo and offers to team up with him find out who is behind the killings. A cop and a surly criminal working together? How kooky can this get?
Bullet to the Head isn’t exactly a adrenaline filled actioner with exciting gun battles and elaborately choreographed fight scenes. But there are lots of scenes with Bobo and Kwon driving from place to place to interrogate people.
Thrill as Bobo and Kwon drive to a bath house and interrogate a criminal who has information!
Gasp as Bobo and Kwon kidnap Morel’s sleazy lawyer (Christian Slater) and drive him to a hide out and interrogate him for more information!
Shriek as Bobo and Kwon drive over to meet Bobo’s daughter Lisa (Sara Shahi) at her house and use her computer to look up something!
My heart can’t take another parking scene!
Okay, things pick up at the end of the movie when the crazy big dude Keegan kidnaps Lisa to get a flash drive Bobo and Kwon have which contains evidence that will put Morel in jail for a long time. Bobo and Keegan face off in an ax wielding fight to the death as Kwon wanders around a warehouse and records Morel saying incriminating things with his smartphone. Kwon really knows how to work his smartphone. I bet he knows how to attach photos from different apps to the same e-mail!
I don’t now how to do that. I wish I did.
Bullet to the Head is kinda boring and a bit of a letdown compared to most of Stallone’s filmography.
But it is better than Get Carter. And Driven. And Assassins. And Daylight. And The Specialist. And Demolition Man.
This could take a while, so thanks for reading and I’ll see you next time!
Stop Or My Mom will Shoot! And Oscar. And Over the Top. and friggin Rhinestone. Oh God, I hate Rhinestone…