Tag Archives: Bill Pullman

Dark Waters (2019) Review

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Dark Waters

Time: 126 Minutes
Cast:
Mark Ruffalo as Robert Bilott
Anne Hathaway as Sarah Bilott
Tim Robbins as Tom Terp
Bill Camp as Wilbur Tennant
Victor Garber as Phil Donnelly
Mare Winningham as Darlene Kiger
Bill Pullman as Harry Deitzler
Director: Todd Haynes

A tenacious attorney (Mark Ruffalo) uncovers a dark secret that connects a growing number of unexplained deaths to one of the world’s largest corporations. While trying to expose the truth, he soon finds himself risking his future, his family and his own life.

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I remember hearing about Dark Waters a while ago, I recognised director Todd Haynes from his work on the excellent Carol, so I was keeping an eye on his next movie. Despite the involvement of the likes of Mark Ruffalo, I didn’t really think much of it based off the marketing. It didn’t look very interesting and so after a while I stopped paying attention to it. But when I got the opportunity to watch it I did, and I’m glad I saw it.

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Dark Waters definitely feels familiar to some other legal dramas/investigative movies about cover ups, it’s no doubt compared to Spotlight quite a lot. It might take some time for you to be completely on board with the movie, but once Ruffalo is locked in to the case, you’re locked in too. You’re learning a lot of information along with him, and it’s rather engaging throughout. The story being told is quite important and relevant to today, it starts in the late 90s, but you can see that it this case takes place over a number of years. Now I personally never heard anything about what happened here beforehand, so this was quite a new thing to learn for me. I won’t reveal too much, but learning the results can be infuriating and unsettling, especially knowing that all of this really happened. Now one could argue that Dark Waters is another one of those movies where it seems like it’s essentially cliff notes of something you could read yourself on a Wikipedia article, but it does enough to actually keep you engaged with the story told by the movie. Now I guess you could call Dark Waters a ‘slow burn’ movie, but I was really interested in what was going on, so that never proved to be a problem.

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Dark Waters has a great cast who perform well in their roles. Mark Ruffalo gives one of his best performances in the lead role of Robert Bilott, the lawyer who took on DuPont. At a certain point he’s locked in and obsessed with this case, and you really see the toll it takes on him and his family. Ruffalo’s performance is subdued but quite believable and effective. Anne Hathaway plays Bilott’s wife, and while it seemed like a pretty thankless role for her, she does get to shine in a couple moments. The rest of the supporting cast is good with the likes of Tim Robbins, Victor Garber, Mare Winningham and Bill Pullman. The standout from the supporting cast however is that of Bill Camp, who plays the farmer who initially contacts Bilott about how multiple deaths in West Virginia are due to DuPont. Camp is one of those character actors who shows up in a bunch of movies in supporting roles and he’s always good in them, but he particularly gets to shine here.

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Todd Haynes directed this pretty well. At first I was a little turned off by the look of the movie, it’s very dark and grey, and not appealing, and I wasn’t really sure if that was intentional or not (especially with his previous movie being as visually stunning as Carol). After a while though I settled into it, and it looked a lot better as it went along.

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Dark Waters wasn’t exactly given the best distribution or marketing, however when you get the chance to watch it, definitely do. It’s an important story that more people should be aware of it, I didn’t know about any of it before this movie. On top of that, it’s engaging, written and directed well, and has a great cast, led by an excellent Mark Ruffalo. Dark Waters is one of the most surprising movies to come out of 2019.

The Equalizer 2 (2018) Review

Time: 121 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Contains graphic violence, drug use & offensive language
Cast:
Denzel Washington as Robert McCall
Pedro Pascal as Dave York
Ashton Sanders as Miles Whittaker
Bill Pullman as Brian Plummer
Melissa Leo as Susan Plummer
Director: Antoine Fuqua

Robert McCall (Denzel Washington) returns to deliver his special brand of vigilante justice when thugs kill his friend and former colleague.

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I liked the first Equalizer by Antoine Fuqua, it was almost like a throwback to violent vigilante action movies from the 70s and 80s and was entertaining, with Denzel Washington as the titular “Equalizer” playing a large part of that. It’s not going to rank among even the best action movies of recent years but it was still enjoyable for what it was. 4 years late, Fuqua and Washington return for a sequel and while The Equalizer didn’t really need one, I was nonetheless interested in seeing what they would have next in store for us. Getting this out of the way, The Equalizer 2 is not as good as the first movie. It has some plot issues, mostly with the unfocussed plot and the fact that the pacing can be just a little too slow. However it is still decent enough, and Denzel Washington once again is great.

The plot and writing of The Equalizer 2 is a mixed bag. On one hand, The Equalizer 2 does have some more emotional depth than the first, it’s not hugely emotional but it is there. It’s also got a lot more going on, which ended up being more of a problem. Despite the length of the movie, the first Equalizer was a pretty straightforward movie that was quite focussed on its plot. The Equalizer 2 has some subplots, and most of them would only fit in well with the movie if it was a mini series instead. There is a subplot with Denzel and a teenager (played by Ashton Sanders) which really does work, the others don’t work as well unfortunately and deviate and distract from the main plot. Even the main plot has some problems. While it seems straightforward (Denzel’s friend is killed, he goes after whoever is responsible), it takes a long time to go through it. The second half of the movie however, it does pick up and becomes more focussed on the plotline but before that we’re just waiting for things to move along. The Equalizer 2 is a little shorter than the first movie, at 2 hours. Despite this, the second movie feels rather slow. Now it’s probably because it was meant to be a much slower and smaller movie, you don’t even get many characters here. However, I think it was a little too slow for its own good, and most of it is to do with the unfocussed plot.

There aren’t too many actors who stand out here outside of Denzel but they do their part well. Denzel Washington remains effortlessly capable in his role. He can switch from likable guy, to becoming very threatening and dangerous within a second. The first movie was him reaching his breaking point and taking action, this movie has him actively going out and taking action quite often. The villain here is just as strong as the villain in the first movie, he’s not as memorable but he does seem to have more to the character than just “generic Russian villain”. However with his character being a twist reveal (which you can see coming), we don’t really get enough screentime with him as the villain and once again, not as memorable. However the character and the actor did their part. Also, all the villains here in general were not cartoonishly one dimensional and over the top like with the first movie.

Antoine Fuqua’s direction once again was great for the most part. The action scenes are fast and brutal, maybe a little too violent. As mentioned previously, there wasn’t as many fight/action scenes as in the first movie. Something I did notice with the action scenes, particularly with the fight scenes with Denzel is that there were more cuts compared to the previous movie. The only thing I can think of is that Denzel being 4 years older couldn’t really perform all the stunts and so they tried to hide that.

The Equalizer 2 isn’t as good as the first movie but it is still entertaining, with Denzel Washington once again being the main highlight. If you liked the first movie, the second is worth a watch, otherwise this new movie won’t change your mind. While I have a feeling that we won’t get an Equalizer 3 (especially releasing it alongside Mamma Mia 2), I wouldn’t be opposed to it if it happened, hopefully it just takes the best elements of both movies and doesn’t make the same mistakes.

The Equalizer (2014) Review

Time: 132 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1] Violence, sexual themes & offensive language.
Cast:
Denzel Washington as Robert “Bob” McCall
Marton Csokas as Teddy Rensen/Nicolai Itchenko
Chloë Grace Moretz as Alina/Teri
Melissa Leo as Susan Plummer
Bill Pullman as Brian Plummer
Johnny Skourtis as Ralph/”Ralphie”
Haley Bennett as Mandy
David Harbour as Frank Masters
Director: Antoine Fuqua

Robert McCall (Denzel Washington), a man of mysterious origin who believes he has put the past behind him, dedicates himself to creating a quiet new life. However, when he meets Teri (Chloë Grace Moretz), a teenager who has been manhandled by violent Russian mobsters, he simply cannot walk away. With his set of formidable skills, McCall comes out of self-imposed retirement and emerges as an avenging angel, ready to take down anyone who brutalizes the helpless.

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With The Equalizer 2 coming soon, I decided to check out the original movie released in 2014 (it was the second time I saw it). The Equalizer is loosely based on the tv series of the same name. Antoine Fuqua is a director I really like, with Training Day, Southpaw, Olympus Has Fallen and even King Arthur (yes I like it), he’s done a lot of impressive work. He brings his solid direction here to make The Equalizer a brutal yet entertaining action movie, that’s maybe a tad overlong.

The plot is rather straightforward, a particular event compels a likable but dangerous and capable main character to take action. There’s nothing particularly special about the plot, but most of the time it keeps your attention and you are entertained throughout. There aren’t many issues with the movie. If there is a slight ‘problem’ it’s that most of the time, Denzel Washington doesn’t really encounter a lot of problems. Even with the Marton Csokas character, for most of the movie he feels like he’s on top of things. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but there’s not really a lot of tension. You only feel like he’s in some form of danger in the climax. Also the Equalizer is about 2 hour and 10 minutes long, which is a tad too long. I think some of the beginning segment was a little too long with the scenes of him being normal and before taking action. The moment he decides to take action though, the movie really picks up. Outside of that there aren’t too many issues.

Denzel Washington is effortlessly good in the role of Robert McCall. He is believable in the role, has his typical Denzel charisma and likability and really works as the main character. Marton Csokas is really good as the main villain, his character is sent in to fix up the situation that Washington causes early on. Csokas is very menacing and commands a whole lot of attention and precense. He also makes up for a lot of the lacklustre villains in the movie, who are mostly cartoonish and one dimensional. Chloe Grace Moretz, despite her character being one of the main motivations for what Washington does, doesn’t appear very often but she’s good in the scenes that she’s in.

Antoine Fuqua’s direction really works here. Like with some of Fuqua’s other action movies, this is a hard R action movie and it is really quite violent. Denzel Washington dispatches many people effortlessly and brutally, and it’s kinda glorious to watch. If you are a squeamish person, The Equalizer is really not for you at all. While the fight and action scenes are entertaining, the climax which takes place in a hardware store was the highlight of the movie. Not only was it creative, but it’s also one of the only times when McCall seems like he’s in danger.

The Equalizer is a very solid action movie, Denzel Washington and Marton Csokas are both good in their roles, Antoine Fuqua’s direction really worked and it was just really entertaining overall. It might’ve been a little long and was sort of predictable and familiar but outside of that it worked very well for what it is. With Denzel Washington and Antoine Fuqua returning for the sequel 4 years later, I’m looking forward to it.

Independence Day: Resurgence (2016) Review

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Independence Day Resurgence

Time: 120 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Liam Hemsworth as Jake Morrison
Jeff Goldblum as David Levinson
Jessie Usher as Dylan Dubrow-Hiller
Bill Pullman as Thomas J. Whitmore
Maika Monroe as Patricia Whitmore
Sela Ward as Elizabeth Lanford
William Fichtner as Joshua Adams
Judd Hirsch as Julius Levinson
Brent Spiner as Dr. Brakish Okun
Patrick St. Esprit as Reese Tanner
Vivica A. Fox as Jasmine Dubrow-Hiller
Angelababy as Rain Lao
Director: Roland Emmerich

As the Fourth of July nears, satellite engineer David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum) investigates a 3,000-mile-wide mother ship that’s approaching Earth. 20 years earlier, nations across the world started to use recovered extra-terrestrial technology to develop an immense defence program. When the alien invaders attack with unprecedented force, the U.S. president, teams of scientists and brave fighter pilots spring into action to save the planet from a seemingly invincible enemy.

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I liked Independence Day, I don’t love it as much as others do but it was an enjoyable film nonetheless. I wasn’t really excited when the sequel was announced, it felt too late, if this film was to be created, it should have been done 10 years ago. None of the trailers particularly hyped me. After seeing it, I can say now that Independence Day Resurgence is not really good. The story is messy with subplots and bad humour as well as questionable visual effects. It’s not horrendous, but I still don’t think this movie is worth watching.

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The most surprising thing about this movie is how long it felt. It was actually only two hours long but it felt so much longer. The pacing is to blame for the most part, the first act jumps all over the place to introduce all the characters (and I’ll get to them later) and it moves at a very slow pace. Even in the last act, I felt completely bored. This is probably because unlike the first film, the sequel doesn’t have any charisma, it’s not exciting and just feels oddly generic. There are also so many pointless subplots that go absolutely nowhere. I think I should bring up the humour, there’s so many jokes thrown into this movie, and it’s quite obvious when they try to be funny. None of the jokes except one actually lands in the movie, the rest are cringe. Oh and I should mention that this movie has an obvious set up to a sequel that will never happen.

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The actors are fine for the most part but are only good as the material that are provided to them, which is to say, not great. It’s enjoyable seeing some of the original cast, particularly, Jeff Goldblum, who’s hands down the best part of the movie. However there are just way too many characters in this movie, at one point the focus shifts to some random kids who have no relevance, it’s very jarring and confusing. The film didn’t need so many characters, the first film certainly didn’t need it. Also some of the characters are given way too much screen time certain characters like Brent Spiner’s returning character and a guy named Floyd… the latter being particularly annoying.

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Oddly enough the special effects in the first film work better than in here. While the effects here aren’t the absolute worst, they do look very fake looking at times, sometimes Star Wars prequel levels of visual quality, especially when it came to the ships. But even some of the non-action scenes, the visuals looked weird, there was just way too much CGI on screen, sometimes it looked like a video game cut scene. In terms of the camera work, its fine, you can actually see what’s going on.

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Independence Day: Resurgence isn’t one of the worst films I’ve seen but is definitely flawed. The film felt too long, the dialogue was bad, the pointless subplots are endless, the effects were too fake looking, it’s not a good movie at all, borderline bad. Overall I think that it’s just a mediocre movie, I didn’t hate it. If you didn’t like the original, you probably won’t like this movie, and if you do like the original, it could go either way, however I have a feeling you won’t like it either. I didn’t expect much from this movie and yet I got less than I thought I would get.

American Ultra (2015) Review

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American Ultra

Time: 96 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence, offensive language & drug use.
Cast:
Jesse Eisenberg as Mike Howell
Kristen Stewart as Phoebe Larson
Topher Grace as Adrian Yates
Connie Britton as Victoria Lasseter
Walton Goggins as Laugher
John Leguizamo as Rose
Bill Pullman as Raymond Krueger
Tony Hale as Peter “Petey” Douglas
Director: Nima Nourizadeh

Small-town stoner Mike Howell (Jesse Eisenberg) spends most of his time getting high and writing a graphic novel. What Mike doesn’t know is that he was trained by the CIA to be a lethal killing machine. When the agency targets him for termination, his former handler activates his latent skills, turning the mild-mannered slacker into a deadly weapon. Now, the utterly surprised Mike must use his newfound abilities to save himself and his girlfriend (Kristen Stewart) from getting smoked.

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American Ultra was a movie I was interested in ever since checking out the trailer, and I thought it would be interesting to see Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart in this sort of action movie. After seeing it I can say that this movie was a lot of fun and I think it should’ve gotten more love and attention than it received. The actors was great, the writing was good, the action is fast paced and it was quite a fun and entertaining movie. It’s not anything special but it’s worth checking out if you find it interesting.

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Just a heads up, even though this movie is marketed as a stoner comedy action movie, American Ultra really isn’t that. The two main characters are stoners and that’s about it, so don’t expect Pineapple Express. The writing for this movie by Max Landis is what really makes this movie great. Even though the movie is silly and has some over the top moments, it’s serious and takes its characters seriously enough and gave them enough development that it makes us care about what is going on and the characters, it’s not a complete cartoon. But at the same time the movie is fun and its enjoyable seeing Eisenberg and Stewart in all of these situations. This movie isn’t one of the best action movies ever made but this movie knows what it is, and for what American Ultra was going for, it achieved it.

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Jesse Eisenberg was really good in this movie, I know that a lot of people have pointed out that usually he acts the same in every movie he’s in but his acting surprisingly really worked for this film and his character. Kristen Stewart was also great, and proved with this film as well as Still Alice that she actually is a good actress. I think she’s repairing her career and starting to get good roles in movies after Twilight really damaged her career. Both of them had great chemistry with each other and also are believable in the action scenes. I felt that Topher Grace did his part as the villain but I felt that he was a little over the top, probably a little miscast. Other supporting actors like John Leguizamo and Walton Goggins also did well in their roles.

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I really liked how the action scenes were filmed and choreographed. They were fast, thrilling, bloody and all around entertaining. Of course they are all over the top and very silly at times, but it still doesn’t go full Shoot Em’ Up or Commando levels of ridiculousness and as I said earlier, American Ultra doesn’t go so left field that it becomes a cartoon and you do actually care about what is going on.

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American Ultra isn’t a film that’s essential to see, it can be very over the top and silly but if you are into action films and are looking for a fun time, it’s a pretty entertaining watch. Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart were really good and worked well with each other, the writing was good, the action was fun and the movie is all around really entertaining. It’s not a great movie and it won’t go down as one of the best action movies of all time but it’s a fun movie, and I do think it’s worth a watch.