Category Archives: Thriller

I Saw the Devil (2010) Review

I-Saw-the-Devil

I Saw the Devil

Time:  141 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1]
Cast:
Lee Byung-hun as Kim Soo-hyun
Choi Min-sik as Jang Kyung-chul
Director: Kim Jee-woon

On a dark road, taxi driver Kyung-chul (Min-sik Choi) comes across a scared female motorist stranded in a broken-down vehicle. He pulls over — but not to help her. When the woman’s head is discovered in a local river, her devastated fiancé, Kim Soo-hyeon (Byung-hun Lee), a trained secret agent, becomes obsessed with hunting down her killer. Once he finds Kyung-chul, things get twisted. After brutally beating the murderer, Kim lets him go free, and a demented game of cat and mouse begins.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1]

I remember hearing about I Saw the Devil for a while, I didn’t know much about it except that it involved serial killers, and the title alone gave the impression of being a horror movie. I heard some great things about it going into it but it actually turned out to be better than I thought it would be. A gruesome yet engaging horror thriller, it was amazing on so many levels.

Min-Sik-Choi-Wallpapers-HD

I Saw the Devil is a revenge movie at its core, and there are plenty of revenge movies out there. There’s a lot more to it though, and so I do recommend going into it blind. It really is a blunt and graphic portrait of pure vengeance, intense, edgy, and unforgiving, yet thematically potent. From beginning to end, I was invested in which direction the story and characters would take. This movie really takes the typical cat and mouse and serial killer plots to a unique place. This time it’s the main character who is toying with the villain (and serial killer). Despite the killer being about as horrible as he could possibly be, it really shows that the main character really is losing it on his pursuit of vengeance, so it’s not just another gory revenge movie. I Saw the Devil is uncompromising in its darkness and brutality, yet never sadistic. It’s very graphically violent but never borders into torture porn, as the violence serves the characters and themes above everything. Despite it being sort of a thriller, I Saw the Devil arguably gives off horror vibes more than anything else, and you could argue it occasionally crosses into that territory many times. The movie was 2 hours and 22 minutes long, it’s pretty long but that runtime really flew by for me.

I-Saw-the-Devil-Review

The acting is great all around, with the two leads really being the standouts. Lee Byng-hun plays the agent hunting the serial killer as revenge after his fiancée is brutally murdered. While you know his actions are rooted in a sense of justice, it ends up being out of control. Lee effortlessly brings his immensely flawed protagonist to life, despite the dark actions that he commits, he’s far too wrathful and headstrong to see his crusades as anything other than completely justified. At the same time, it’s impossible not to sympathise with him because you know that his actions are rooted in some sense of justice. Lee’s performance is a calm and determined one, with subtle nuances and facial expressions to convey both his desire for revenge, as well as his grief. The serial killer is played by Choi Min-sik, I knew him from playing the lead character in Oldboy, and here he’s in a very different kind of role. Choi’s character is downright loathsome and monstrous in this, absolutely the worst of the worst. But he owns the part perfectly and convincingly, he’s such an immense presence whenever he’s on screen. Both Lee and Choi bounce off each other greatly in their scenes together.

i-saw-the-devil-1200-1200-675-675-crop-000000

This film is directed by Kim Jee-woon, and his work is nothing short of excellent. First of all, it’s a fantastically shot film. The cinematography with its constant tracking shots is amazing and makes the dirty and grim sets and locations look more beautiful than they have any right to be. The scenes of action are great. There is a moment with Choi Min-sik in a taxi, and it’s a particularly impressive scene, and I still don’t know how they managed to pull it off. The violence on display can be so shockingly vicious that it verges on the absurd. Despite this, you feel the impact of these moments every single time.

MV5BZjhjYjE1MDktNmEzYy00YTg1LThhN2QtZTFhMTU0NzU3NzdjXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyOTc5MDI5NjE@._V1_

I Saw the Devil is a grisly and grim yet excellent revenge horror thriller. It’s directed amazingly, performed greatly, and the story is engaging and visceral. It’s definitely not for everyone, if only for the extreme gore and violence. However if you like horrors and thrillers, I do think that it is definitely worth checking out, ideally knowing as little as possible beforehand.

Memory (2022) Review

M_10611_RC

Memory (2022)

Time: 104 Minutes
Cast:
Liam Neeson as Alex Lewis
Guy Pearce as Vincent Serra
Monica Bellucci as Davana Sealman
Harold Torres as Hugo Marquez
Taj Atwal as Linda Amistead
Ray Fearon as Gerald Nussbaum
Director: Martin Campbell

When Alex, an expert assassin, refuses to complete a job for a dangerous criminal organization, he becomes a target. FBI agents and Mexican intelligence are brought in to investigate the trail of bodies, leading them closer to Alex. With the crime syndicate and FBI in hot pursuit, Alex has the skills to stay ahead, except for one thing: he is struggling with severe memory loss, affecting his every move. Alex must question his every action and whom he can ultimately trust.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

While I generally like Liam Neeson’s action movies, they are very samey and repetitive and there’s only a few I’d call really good. I heard some mixed things about his latest film Memory, but I was willing to check it out, especially with Martin Campbell directing it. Having seen it, I wouldn’t call it good but overall, I liked it.

memory1-videoSixteenByNine3000

Memory is a very generic revenge crime thriller. Essentially its two separate movies in one, following Liam Neeson’s hitman getting revenge, and Guy Pearce and his FBI team investigating a child trafficking ring and tracking down Neeson. The story is average and isn’t that interesting, but it is watchable and it is easy to understand what’s going on. The mystery wasn’t that intriguing, it pretty much tells you (almost spoonfeeds you) exactly what’s going on. It doesn’t help that it is predictable, and you can tell what’s going to happen. There are some interesting aspects which had potential. The title of the film is Memory because Liam Neeson’s character is suffering from memory loss. It does dedicate some scenes to that, and they could’ve done something with it. However, it almost just feels placed in there so he can struggle in convenient moments.

9b07f6d9f4fbd092f1ee2e4dc2a5c566

Liam Neeson has done many of these types of movies before, but he’s generally good in all of them and at least seems committed to the roles, Memory is no exception. This is darker than some of his other characters, leaning into being more an antihero. He does well at appearing convincingly intimidating but still manages to convey vulnerability in some scenes. Guy Pearce is also in a major role and is really good, giving some sincerity to his FBI agent character. Both Neeson and Pearce are probably the reason that I enjoyed the movie despite its major faults. The rest of the cast including Taj Atwal and Ray Stevenson plays their parts well too. The only exception is Monica Bellucci as the closest thing to a main villain in the movie. She’s given so little screentime, doesn’t do much, isn’t interesting, and even the performance is very bored and phoned in.

MV5BZjQ2MGM2OGMtOTNhNi00OTY4LTg2N2QtZjRlNzcxZDQyMjhiXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMDA4NzMyOA@@._V1_

Martin Campbell directs this, and unfortunately this is not one of his greater action films like Casino Royale or The Mask of Zorro. Nonetheless it is still competently made. The visuals aren’t that interesting, but are serviceable nonetheless. The action isn’t as frequent as you would like it to be, when it’s on screen it is pretty good, if standard and mostly consisting of typical fighting and gun battles.

_xlarge

Memory was a better movie than I was expecting given its reception, but it’s not like I don’t understand it. It’s another disappointing movie from Martin Campbell, who has delivered some great action movies in the past, but whose recent work has been fairly underwhelming. Even when you compare it to his weaker movies, this is probably one of his worst yet. Ironically, Memory is a very forgettable movie that’s mostly let down by its script. That being said, the direction is competent, the action is enjoyable, and the performances are mostly solid, particularly with Liam Neeson and Guy Pearce’s committed work. If you generally like Neeson’s other action movies, you’ll probably find stuff to enjoy here.

The Strangers: Prey at Night (2018) Review

merlin_134680445_5fdc6239-010c-4418-802e-73018f731c80-superJumbo

The Strangers Prey at Night

Time: 85 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence, offensive language & horror
Cast:
Bailee Madison as Kinsey
Lewis Pullman as Luke
Christina Hendricks as Cindy
Martin Henderson as Mike
Damian Maffei as Man in the Mask
Director: Johannes Roberts

A family’s road trip takes a dangerous turn when they arrive at a secluded mobile home park to stay with some relatives and find it mysteriously deserted. Under the cover of darkness, three masked psychopaths pay them a visit to test the family’s every limit as they struggle to survive.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

The Strangers originally released back in 2008 and became something of a horror classic, especially when it comes to home invasion movies. However, I was one of the rare people who didn’t think it was very good. Strangely it ended up getting a sequel 10 years later, and while I heard some mixed things about it, it gained something of a cult following. I decided to check it out despite my scepticism, especially since some people have said that it was distinctly different to the first movie. I’m glad to say that I enjoyed it, way more than I was expecting.

strangerspreyatnight1

First thing to note going in this is that its not essential to have watched the first Strangers movie beforehand. The only similarity between the two movies other than the title is that the killers wear the same masks and have the same names. The approach to the movie is also different, which extends to its style. Whereas the original Strangers was going for a realistic home invasion, Prey at Night is a 70s and 80s slasher inspired horror film. I never felt that the first Strangers movie really worked with its attempt at realism, but I think Prey at Night worked much better for me. I thought the first half an hour was a little bland and underwhelming to begin with. During this segment it tries to make you care for the characters by focusing on a family with some problems. While it doesn’t feel lazily tacked on, it is cliched and is almost forgotten about once people start being killed, so it doesn’t seem to matter. From the moment that characters notice that things aren’t right however, that’s when it started to work for me. Its filled with thrills and I had a lot of fun with it, culminating in an intense and bloody third act. Prey at Night is under 90 minutes, and I think that it was the right length for this film. I wouldn’t claim that this film is original by any means. There have been plenty of home invasions, slashers and 70s and 80s inspired horror films, and they stand out more and are better than this film. But for what it is going for, I think Prey at Night succeeds. It takes a lot from other movies, but gets away with it more here since its self-aware and blatantly a homage. As to be expected with this being a slasher movie, there are conveniences and implausibilities which do get a bit annoying. More frustrating are the dumb decisions made by the characters, and while they are almost a staple of slashers (and horror movies in general), the homage excuse can only go so far. There are some movies where the bad decisions are realistic, especially when it comes to characters who are in a state of panic, and so it makes sense. Prey at Night is not one of those cases however.

Cópia-de-S_00361_Cr

Despite the character establishment in the first act, the characters are a bit hollow and shallow. However, the acting does make up for it. Martin Henderson and Christina Hendricks play the parents, and the brother and sister are played by Lewis Pullman and Bailee Madison. These four are believable as a family and they do some good work in spite of the writing.

The_Strangers_Prey_at_Night-943846135-large

The direction from Johannes Roberts is great, it is definitely taking the old-fashioned slashers from the 70s and 80s as inspiration. This is especially seen with the cinematography; with the camera setups and slow zooms from the 70s, and the neon visuals from the 80s. The violence is very brutal and certainly does not hold back. At the same time, the movie manages to be genuinely tense. Even the killers are effectively intimidating here, more so here than the original movie. It definitely helped that they actually fitted in this kind of movie. One scene that I heard about long before I got to actually watching the film involves a pool, its probably the most well known part of the whole movie. Without saying too much about the context, the praise was well deserved. Finally, the soundtrack is great, very synth inspired and again the kind of thing you could imagine being in a John Carpenter movie.

the-strangers

The Strangers: Prey at Night is not without its faults. The character development is weak, the first act is underwhelming, and it falls into some of the typical failings of slasher movies. However, I found it very fun to watch. The cast are decent and somewhat elevate their roles, its directed well, strong on a technical front, and does well at being a homage to some classic slashers. If you’re looking for more of the same from 2008’s The Strangers, you won’t get it with Prey at Night. But if you like those classic 70s and 80s slashers, I think it is well worth a watch.

Con Air (1997) Review

con-air-nicolas-cage

Con Air

Time: 115 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1] Violence & offensive language
Cast:
Nicolas Cage as Cameron Poe
John Cusack as U.S. Marshal Vince Larkin
John Malkovich as Cyrus “The Virus” Grissom
Steve Buscemi as Garland “The Marietta Mangler” Greene
Ving Rhames as Nathan “Diamond Dog” Jones
Colm Meaney as Agent Duncan Malloy
Mykelti Williamson as Mike “Baby-O” O’Dell
Rachel Ticotin as Guard Sally Bishop
Director: Simon West

Cameron is a wrongly convicted prisoner who is going to be released when his plane is hijacked by other criminals. While they seize control of the plane, he attempts to wrest control and return home.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

When it comes to the 90s and especially for Nicolas Cage, Con Air is one of the quintessential action movies, even if I wouldn’t consider it one of the all time best. I rewatched it after many years after seeing it for the first time, and it was even more enjoyable than I remembered it being. It is absurd, yet thrilling, and constantly entertaining from beginning to end.

Con-Air1

One thing that everyone will say is that Con Air is very over the top and ridiculous, it is almost insane that this movie was made at all. It just runs with whatever ridiculous happens, no matter the absurdity, and it just keeps escalating and escalating. Its very noisy, and nothing about the movie is subtle. It is helped by a light tone and the simplicity of the plot, which is basically Die Hard on a plane. Nicolas Cage is a prisoner going home on a plane full of convicts, and the convicts take over the plane. This movie is always moving, with rarely a dull or boring moment. I also love how confident this movie is, there is an earnestness to the movie, even with the tongue in cheek and self-aware moments, which gives it a real personality. There are even certain choices that are played completely straight, but come across as unintentional comedic, and that adds to the movie if anything. Its really hard to criticise the writing of the movie because any negative you could find in it also serves as a positive (on an entertainment level at least). What I will say without spoilers is that once everything with the plane is done, there is a final action segment to conclude the movie. It is still enjoyable, but does feel a little tact on.

download

There is a stacked cast with plenty of recognisable names here, and everyone delivers in their parts. They know what kind of movie they are in and are committed to the film despite the goofiness. Nicolas Cage leads this movie with long hair and a wonky Southern accent. Even though its not one of his all time best action roles, its one of his most memorable. He’s likable, easy to follow, and has some memorable moments and delivers some fun one liners. John Cusack is also good as a US Marshal who helps Cage along the way. The standout is John Malkovich as a menacing and great villain, I really don’t think the character and movie would’ve worked as well without Malkovich. Supporting villains including Ving Rhames and Danny Trejo are solid, and Steve Buscemi is a scene stealer.

Con-air-1b

Something that also helps the movie is the direction by Simon West. Its so overblown yet well filmed, stylistically it is the epitome of 90s action cheese. The action is entertaining and intense, the camera movements are great, and everything from the fight scenes to the shootouts are crafted well. The score is wonderfully bombastic, and is operating at the right tone and feel for this movie.

2615

Con Air is the most Michael Bay movie that isn’t directed by Michael Bay. It has the right amount of absurdity, earnestness, and self-awareness, made even better by Simon West’s solid direction, and an ensemble of enjoyable performances led by Nicolas Cage. It is a lot of fun, and is a great candidate for the ultimate popcorn movie. If you like action movies especially those which are incredibly over the top, I think Con Air is worth checking out.

Assassins (1995) Review

1SoLOqfXjgk9u81lR3XMfpD6bL8lvNdsOSCt6T8YmdCrSSiHibQ70z74fzt8VA_G4RTO4MCb_GCmXfsCLkEbzuXliYkxtetcHmGrm1x6im0

Assassins

Time: 133 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] 
Cast:
Sylvester Stallone as Robert Rath
Antonio Banderas as Miguel Bain
Julianne Moore as Electra
Director: Richard Donner

Professional hitman Robert Rath seeks to retire peacefully. However, he teams up with hacker Electra when Bain, another killer, wants to murder him.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

I knew very limited things about Assassins going into it, just that it starred Sylvester Stallone and Antonio Banderas and it was directed by Richard Donner. Its not that great and I can see why it didn’t get the best of reviews, however I still think its fairly enjoyable.

assassins-1200-1200-675-675-crop-000000

Script-wise, Assassins is nothing special. I heard that the Wachowskis (post Bound and pre Matrix) wrote it but then it was completely re-written by Brian Helgeland. The plot starts out pretty simple but adds some more complexity over the course of the movie, however this resulted in the movie being a bit convoluted in parts. It has an unexpectedly serious and sombre tone and I think it could’ve afforded to be a little sillier or over the top. I liked the idea of the cat and mouse game between the two lead assassins played by Sylvester Stallone and Antonio Banderas, however the execution was just okay, and should’ve been much more considering that premise. Its also quite long at 132 minutes, and it probably could’ve afforded to be shorter than that. It doesn’t help that it takes a while for the movie to kick off. By the time Julianne Moore comes into the plot, I think Assassins really starts to pick up. The plot isn’t all that memorable and I wasn’t particularly invested, but I found it enjoyable to watch nonetheless.

a18049f604a8aae22c3c64c5e6ccd0a2

I generally like Sylvester Stallone as an actor, however as the protagonist of Assassins, his work is rather underwhelming. I get that he’s acting solemn because he’s a hitman who is tired of his work and wants to retire, but he seems bored and half asleep most of the time. I wouldn’t say it’s a bad performance, but he’s easily the weakest link of the main trio of actors. Julianne Moore was quite good. She actually gets a chance to be involved in the plot, and isn’t just relegated to the love interest role. However, the main reason to watch this movie is Antonio Banderas, playing the rival assassin that Stallone goes up against. He is clearly having a ball here from beginning to end, and is an absolute joy to watch. He provides the energy that the movie really needed.

assassins-513245106a3ee

The movie is directed by Richard Donner, its not some of his best work, but it is solid nonetheless. With films like Lethal Weapon movies under his belt already, he more than knows how to helm an action movie, and Assassins is no exception. Its not the mot visually interesting of movies, but its still well shot. The action scenes aren’t special or memorable, yet they are decent and fun to watch, as to be expected.

ec3bbf2c4f2806b70d39aacd99343b74

Assassins is generally forgettable and held back by the sloppy and generic script, and the overlong runtime, but its fine for what it is. The action is well shot and enjoyable, and some of the performances are decent, with Antonio Banderas stealing the scenes he’s in. Despite its faults, Assassins is an entertaining enough thriller that’s worth checking out.

The Expendables 2 (2012) Review

the-expendables-2-review

The Expendables 2

Time: 103 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] contains Violence
Cast:
Sylvester Stallone as Barney Ross
Jason Statham as Lee Christmas
Jet Li as Yin Yang
Dolph Lundgren as Gunner Jensen
Chuck Norris as Booker
Terry Crews as Hale Caesar
Randy Couture as Toll Road
Liam Hemsworth as Billy the Kid
Scott Adkins as Hector
Yu Nan as Maggie
Jean-Claude Van Damme as Vilain
Bruce Willis as Church
Arnold Schwarzenegger as Trench
Director: Simon West

All hell breaks loose when Barney, along with his band of old-school mercenaries, sets out on a path of carnage after one of their comrades gets killed during a simple task assigned by Mr Church.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

I rewatched the first Expendables and while I enjoyed it, it was worse than I remembered it being. Afterwards, I wanted to watch the sequel again because I remember it being much better. That proved to be very much the case, The Expendables 2 is a noticeable and immense improvement over the previous movie, and was fun in itself.

the-expendables-2-1200x808

The plot isn’t the best, its very standard for an action movie and doesn’t really matter that much. However, the straightforward nature of the plot was for the best, and it helps that it’s at least coherent and paced well, with never a dull moment. Like its predecessor, The Expendables 2 continues to be a homage to the action movies of the past, and embraces much of its tropes. That being said, the sequel seems to serve better as that. Part of that has to do with the tone, which is way more consistent throughout. Despite many of the ridiculous moments, the first Expendables movie took itself too seriously. It would go from a goofy airplane action scene to a well written and performed but nonetheless out of place emotional monologue from Mickey Rourke. In contrast, The Expendables 2 leans more toward being an over the top blockbuster, and not taking itself too seriously. That’s not to say that there aren’t any dramatic moments, but it works with the rest of the movie much better. Much of the dialogue and humour came across as being very forced in the first movie, this again is improved in the sequel. There are some good one liners and enjoyable references. It does unfortunately has the odd situation where it can overdo it with the meta jokes. There’s particularly an exchange between Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, and Chuck Norris which make 3 meta jokes in the span of 20 seconds, and in those cases they could’ve dialled it done. Otherwise, it was just on the right level for me.

ExJFqIsUYAY3TND

Much of the cast from the first movie return and are even better here, including Sylvester Stallone and Jason Statham. Everyone here delivers as you’d expect, though the standout might be Dolph Lundgren. One disappointing aspect of the last movie was that Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis were in just one scene (though it was one of the highlights of that movie). However, they actually play more notable parts in the movie, we even get to see them involved in the action in the third act and it was great to see. The new additions are good too; Liam Hemsworth plays a new member of the Expendables and while he feels out of place, he serves his purpose well. Nan Yu is also a good addition to the cast, playing a notable part and is alongside the Expendables for much of the film. Chuck Norris appears in a few times for a fun cameo, and it really is credit to this movie that they somehow make the tired Chuck Norris jokes actually funny here. Another aspect that was improved here was the villain. Eric Roberts was quite forgettable in the first movie, this time they got Jean-Claude Van Damme to play the villain, who’s name is literally Vilain. He feels like a worthy antagonist to the main team, and fits perfectly here.

EXPENDABLES 2

Sylvester Stallone’s direction of the first movie was fine, but was ultimately lacking. The second movie is a noticeable improvement it with Con Air director Simon West, who does a much better job. From the opening action sequence, you can already tell the difference in the handling. The action is much better, its well shot, better edited (especially for the fight scenes), and it reduces the shaky cam. It still has the problem with the bad looking CGI blood that messily splatters everywhere, but it does look a little better than in the first movie.

1_FRYeFr-x2vY8FkYq8E7v8w

I’ve been constantly stating this point throughout this whole review, but The Expendables 2 really does improve on the first movie in just about every way, and is everything that its predecessor should’ve been. The action, characters, plot, humour and more are just more finely tuned to deliver on its promise of being a throwback to the action movies of the 80s and 90s, I was consistently entertaining from beginning to end. If you are fan of those movies, The Expendables 2 is well worth checking out. You don’t even need to watch the first Expendables, just jump straight into this one.

The Transporter (2002) Review

unnamed

The Transporter

Time: 92 Minutes
Cast:
Jason Statham as Frank Martin
Shu Qi as Lai Kwai
François Berléand as Inspector Tarconi
Matt Schulze as Darren “Wall Street” Bettencourt
Ric Young as Mr. Kwai
Director: Corey Yuen, Louis Leterrier

Former Special Forces officer, Frank Martin will deliver anything to anyone for the right price, and his no-questions-asked policy puts him in high demand. But when he realizes his latest cargo is alive, it sets in motion a dangerous chain of events. The bound and gagged Lai is being smuggled to France by a shady American businessman, and Frank works to save her as his own illegal activities are uncovered by a French detective.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

2002’s The Transporter is known for being an action movie starring Jason Statham, and was in fact the film that started his career as an action star. It’s not that good, and its not even one of Statham’s best action movies, but its still a lot of fun to watch.

MV5BMTQ2NzU4Nzk0MF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNjk1MjkyMw@@._V1_

Plotwise, it is a very basic action plot: protagonist works in crimes and has a set of rules, but something causes him to have a change in heart. The story doesn’t really make sense, nor is it engaging or particularly interesting. Its not well structured and the plot can be choppy. Thankfully, it is shamelessly silly and knowingly over the top, so it is fun to watch. Additionally, the runtime is short at around 90 minutes and the film moves at a relatively quick pace, making this a very easy movie to watch. When it arrives the third act, it goes all out with the action and fight scenes and is very entertaining.

the_transporter_still1

Jason Statham’s debut action lead role is really good, he’s well cast as Frank Martin. His character is yet another, cold blooded anti hero who has a bit of heart (and is more restrained compared to Statham’s later action characters). It’s a typical archetype for an action movie, but he makes his character engaging enough. He’s confident with the action scenes and the one liners, you can see from this why he would go on to have an action career. The rest of the cast aren’t all that special, but the movie just requires Statham to do his thing.

0018

The direction from Corey Yuen and Louis Leterrier isn’t great and the movie looks a little dated (it looks firmly in the 2000s), but is decent enough and stylish. The highlight outside of Statham are the well-crafted and exciting action sequences, from the car chases to the fight scenes. There are some quick cuts during the action scenes, but they’re actually done in an effective way.

MV5BZjE1ZGNlOTQtMWU2My00NzU2LWEzYTQtZWNmYWY1NjBhZGYyXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyOTc5MDI5NjE@._V1_

The Transporter is an above average action movie made entertaining by the fight and chase scenes and Jason Statham in the lead role. It’s not special but it doesn’t need to be, and it succeeds at what it sets out to be.

The Expendables (2010) Review

theexpendables-head

The Expendables

Time: 103 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Contains Graphic Violence
Cast:
Sylvester Stallone as Barney Ross
Jason Statham as Lee Christmas
Jet Li as Yin Yang
Dolph Lundgren as Gunner Jensen
Eric Roberts as James Munroe
Randy Couture as Toll Road
Steve Austin as Paine
David Zayas as General Garza
Giselle Itié as Sandra
Charisma Carpenter as Lacy
Gary Daniels as The Brit
Terry Crews as Hale Caesar
Mickey Rourke as Tool
Director: Sylvester Stallone

Barney Ross leads a band of highly skilled mercenaries including knife enthusiast Lee Christmas, a martial arts expert, heavy weapons specialist, demolitionist, and a loose-cannon sniper. When the group is commissioned by the mysterious Mr. Church to assassinate the dictator of a small South American island, Barney and Lee visit the remote locale to scout out their opposition and discover the true nature of the conflict engulfing the city.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

While I certainly like the central idea of those films, The Expendables aren’t the best action movies out there. The second movie is actually very enjoyable, but the third was very underwhelming. That being said I don’t remember much about the first Expendables. I watched it nearly a decade ago and I remember the actors involved but that’s it. So I decided to give it another look and can confirm that its not a very good movie, even looking at what it sets out to do. But I still had some fun with it.

1_CXvSFgbyRD9atXayNbmBqg

First and foremost, The Expendables is a homage to the blockbusters of the 80s and 90s, paying tribute to the action stars of the past and present. I can certainly say that you feel the passion for that. There are plenty of one liners and testosterone filled dialogue that feels like a parody, over the top plot and action, it has got it all. It also has a lot of the familiar tropes, usually for the worse. The plot is pretty thin, and the story isn’t all that interesting. It feels like it is going through the motions, almost in a lazy way. On one hand you could just say that the plot doesn’t matter, but its not exactly plotless either. So really the problem is that the movie doesn’t really know what to do with its story. On one hand it is a very run of the mill action plot about a group of mercenaries being assigned to assassinate a dictator, and has some really implausible and over the top moments. On the other, there is actually a point to the story as Stallone’s character Barney Ross comes to realisation that he is desensitised by the violence in his job, and his faith in humanity is restored. So it has some depth to a degree, but honestly it feels misplaced in this movie if anything. It is definitely a tonally inconsistent movie. The scene that exemplifies this is a surprising scene where Mickey Rourke delivers a monologue that is played completely serious. It is great, wonderfully performed by Rourke, and even Stallone’s reactions worked, but that scene just felt out of place especially compared to the scenes right beforehand.

MV5BMTkwODg2ODgxOF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNDQ4ODk2Mw@@._V1_

One of the biggest selling points of The Expendables was the ensemble of recognisable action actors. The performances aren’t special, but at the very least have a charm to them, and the cast have a lot of fun. There’s an interesting mix of people with Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren and more. Mickey Rourke is in a small role and has a few scenes but delivers the best performance for the aforementioned out of place powerful monologue scene. The villains are quite generic and paint by numbers, thankfully the next two Expendables movies delivered better on that with Jean-Claude Van Damme and Mel Gibson.

6d9f4ceb2f2ec1e1bbfdd7018040adc3

Sylvester Stallone’s direction is fine but not great. Some of the action sequences are entertaining, plenty of gun fighting, and there’s also a good amount of absurdity that makes it fun. That being said, there’s some shaky cam and quick cuts in the fight scenes that take away from it. The CGI can also look really bad, however it isn’t the explosions that are the worst of it. The gore and blood effects look absolutely terrible, in fact its probably the worst CGI blood I’ve seen in a movie. It looks straight out of a fan film despite being a big blockbuster.

the-expendables-background-01

The Expendables doesn’t fully succeed in it sets out to do. Tonally it’s a bit inconsistent, some of the action can be hit or miss and it doesn’t reach the fullest potential of having all these action stars together in one movie. That being said, I do like it. It’s fun seeing the cast together, there are some enjoyable moments especially with the absurdity and the action, and there is a charm to it. So if you’re a fan of these 80s and 90s action movies, the first Expendables movie might be worth checking out. That being said, The Expendables 2 did this better and you could probably jump straight to that without needing to see the first film.

Air Force One (1997) Review

MV5BMTY2MjQ4NzczNl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMDU4NTUwNw@@._V1_

Air Force One

Time: 124 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] 
Cast:
Harrison Ford as President James Marshall
Gary Oldman as Egor Korshunov
Glenn Close as Vice President Kathryn Bennett
Wendy Crewson as First Lady Grace Marshall
Liesel Matthews as Alice Marshall
Paul Guilfoyle as White House Chief of Staff Lloyd Shepherd
William H. Macy as Major Norman Caldwell
Dean Stockwell as Defense Secretary Walter Dean
Director: Wolfgang Peterson

The president of the USA is returning home from Moscow when his plane, Air Force One, is hijacked and he finds himself in a do-or-die hostage situation.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

Air Force One is one of the most over the top action movies from the 90s and that’s saying a lot. It is far from the peak of 90s action but it is entertaining for what it is.

ANZHXCYN66YTV35UEFR3PSS274

Air Force One is very much a silly action flick from the 90s. The storytelling wasn’t the best, the motivations of the villains aren’t that well thought out. The plot is also very cliché, it boils down to Die Hard on a plane, its shameless even. Just replace a hotel with a plane and John McClane with the President of the United States. A lot of the tropes of the genre are recycled here. Its just as well that it has the right tone, it is very cheesy especially with how over the top patriotic it is. Thankfully it is very self aware, almost bordering on self parody at times. There are some really silly and wonderful moments including the one liners; ay movie where Harrison Ford as the president says “Get off my plane” was going to be at least somewhat enjoyable. I will say that it is a bit overlong at 2 hours long, it could’ve been a little shorter. Still it very rarely dragged, and it is consistently entertaining throughout.

hXzTXIPobk4hfqQ00hHVjSPsBKu

Harrison Ford made for a convincing action lead star and is reliably good here as the President of the USA. Gary Oldman made for a very fun villain, delivering a wonderful hammy performance. The character isn’t good, he’s quite generic, and his plan is silly. However, Oldman makes it work, or at least fun to watch. The acting from the rest of the supporting cast including Glenn Close is decent, but don’t quite come close to Ford or Oldman.

image-w1280

Wolfgang Peterson did a good job directing this, it is well crafted. The visual effects are a bit outdated and overused, especially the external plane shots. The action is entertaining, well shot, and quite fun to watch. The score from Jerry Goldsmith is bombastic and over the top 90s, but it suits this movie.

yzBeUyR4srogQi_SWMZOmvwYqkQNW69N

Air Force One is not one of the best action movies, not even when you limit it to just the 90s. The plot isn’t the best, the characterisation is flawed, and it is very derivative of other action movies. However, the cast are solid especially Harrison Ford and Gary Oldman, the action is entertaining, and the plot is simple and silly enough. So it’s worth a watch if you haven’t seen it already.

Bullet Train (2022) Review

1234153

Bullet Train

Time: 126 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Graphic violence & offensive language
Cast:
Brad Pitt as “Ladybug”
Joey King as “The Prince”
Aaron Taylor-Johnson as “Tangerine”
Brian Tyree Henry as “Lemon”
Andrew Koji as Yuichi Kimura / “The Father”
Hiroyuki Sanada as “The Elder”
Michael Shannon as “White Death”
Benito A. Martínez Ocasio “Bad Bunny” as “The Wolf”
Sandra Bullock as Maria Beetle
Zazie Beetz as “The Hornet”
Logan Lerman as “The Son”
Masi Oka as the Train Conductor
Karen Fukuhara as a Train Concession Girl
Director: David Leitch

Five assassins find themselves on a fast-moving bullet train from Tokyo to Morioka with only a few stops in between. They discover their missions are not unrelated to each other.

full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] full_star[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1] Black-Star-Photographic-Agency[1]

Bullet Train was one of my most anticipated movies of the year. It’s David Leitch’s (Deadpool 2, Atomic Blonde, Hobbs and Shaw) next movie which is about a lot of assassins on one train, and has a cast that includes Brad Pitt, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Brian Tyree Henry, Hiroyuki Sanada and many more. I was a little unsure about the movie based on the trailers but I was hoping for the best going into it. While I do think it could’ve been better given the people involved, I still thoroughly enjoyed the movie.

img2

The writing of Bullet Train is a bit hit or miss. The story is somewhat intriguing with many twists and turns, even if it’s very derivative of other much better films. There are lots of characters with distinct personalities who are disconnected from each other, yet are all connected in the story in some way. There’s a lot of energy throughout and it’s helped by a mostly fast pace. There’s a lot happening with the number of characters involved and the way everything links together, and as such it can be unnecessarily complicated. Also, not all the characters are developed, though that comes with a movie having a very large cast. It is a comedy action movie, and it is very over the top with lots of jokes and quippy dialogue. Perhaps it’s a bit too silly for its own good at times. I have heard some people describe Bullet Train as a collection of skits put together, and I can kind of see what they mean. Every so often, the movie adds a completely new aspect or character into the plot, and sometimes it feels like it’s only there to be random and funny. They aren’t enough to take me out of the movie and I still thoroughly enjoyed it, but its definitely a movie I’ll need to rewatch to see if it still holds up. Despite the silliness of the movie, it can be a bit inconsistent with its tone. There’s more drama and emotion than I was expecting, however it doesn’t always gel with the comedy and goofiness that the film also has. The movie is around 2 hours long and while it doesn’t initially sound long, after watching, it I think it probably could’ve been trimmed by about 10 minutes.

svelati-i-character-poster-ufficiali-di-bullet-train

The strongest aspect of the movie is the massive ensemble cast, everyone is clearly having a lot of fun here. Brad Pitt is in the lead role playing a character that you could easily picture Ryan Reynolds playing as a particularly unlucky assassin. I think he was quite enjoyable in his part, even when there are other characters I was more interested in. The rest of the cast are great including Joey King, Michael Shannon, Sandra Bullock, Andrew Koji, and Hiroyuki Sanada. Not everyone reaches their potential, some characters receive more attention than others. The standout actors in the movie for me were Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Brian Tyree Henry as twins named Tangerine and Lemon. They were a lot of fun to watch and had some memorable moments, but also had some believable chemistry and really sold their characters. Those two honestly could’ve carried an entire movie by themselves.

img3

David Leitch directs Bullet Train, and I liked his work here. There are some great visuals, and the action sequences are a highlight. The action isn’t quite as strong as in Leitch’s past movies like Atomic Blonde, but they are nonetheless entertaining and well done. The stunts are solid, the camerawork is kinetic, and they are very violent and bloody, especially in the third act where they up the scale and ridiculousness. That being said, the climax does have some dodgy CGI. The soundtrack was decent and had good choices for songs, especially with their scene placements.

img6

Bullet Train doesn’t quite live up to its potential given its premise and cast, and the writing is definitely messy. However, I can’t deny that I had a lot of fun watching this. The silliness and ridiculousness might be annoying for some people, but I enjoyed it, even if the attempts at humour don’t always work. I liked the style and visuals, the action was entertaining, and the ensemble cast carry the movie (with Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Brian Tyree Henry being the standouts).