Tag Archives: David Ayer

Harsh Times (2005) Review

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Harsh Times

Time: 116 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1] Contains violence,offensive language and drug use
Cast:
Christian Bale as Jim Davis
Freddy Rodriguez as Mike Alonzo
Eva Longoria as Sylvia
Tammy Trull as Marta
Director: David Ayer

Jim (Christian Bale) is a Gulf War veteran and he believes it is his sworn duty to protect Americans by policing the streets of Los Angeles. His dreams are shattered when he is rejected by the Los Angeles Police Department leaving him and his Mexican paramour in the lurch. Jim is soon offered a position in the Department of Homeland Security leading him to recruit his unemployed best friend Mike (Freddy Rodriguez) to carve a path of devastation across the city.

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Harsh Times was the only film from David Ayer I had yet to see. Although I know that much of the reception to much of his films has been mixed, I like most of Ayer’s other movies (with a couple of exceptions) and I’m a fan of Christian Bale, so I was looking forward to seeing what it would turn out to be, I wasn’t sure what to expect really. Harsh Times was reasonably okay, and I liked watching it, even with some of its glaring issues.

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The script is really the biggest issue of Harsh Times, it’s a bit of a mixed bag. You notice pretty early on that the dialogue is not exactly the strongest. I’ve noticed that in a lot of his written movies (with the exception of Fury, End of Watch and Training Day), the dialogue wasn’t all that great. That aside, it’s also not a movie where it’s easy to get invested in the characters. That’s mainly because there aren’t many (if any) morally good or likable characters in the movie, especially not Christian Bale’s character of Jim. They didn’t stop me from following it while watching it, but I never felt that close to the characters. I can definitely tell that it might turn some people off from it, but it didn’t affect my experience too much. At under 2 hours, it kept me reasonably interested from beginning to end.

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Christian Bale is an incredible actor, and while I wouldn’t rank his work here among his best performances (maybe just outside of the top 10), he’s still great here. While he could easily be an annoying character to have to follow (and with some not so good dialogue), Bale makes him work. He’s driving so much of the movie and holding things together. It may be well worth seeing Harsh Times just for his performance. Freddy Rodriguez was also good as the co-lead, who has almost as much screentime as Bale. The two of them are very convincing as friends, they share some great chemistry. They particularly gets to have some emotional moments towards the end. There isn’t much to say about the rest of the cast, but brief appearances from the likes of Terry Crews and J.K. Simmons were nice to see.

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David Ayer directed Harsh Times well, for a debut movie effort, he did a pretty good job. It’s not amazing, but it works well enough right for this story. It’s not a great looking movie by any means, but that sort of works for the gritty tone and story of the film. There is some slightly annoying editing when it comes to Bale’s character having some breakdowns. I get the point of them, and you don’t really see too much of it, but the way those moments were handled just felt a little over the top.

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Harsh Times is another David Ayer movie which works just fine. I thought it was pretty decent, Ayer directed it well enough, and the story was enough to keep me watching from beginning to end, even if I wasn’t invested in the characters all that much. It does have its very notable flaws however, mostly with regards to the script, and it isn’t one that you must go out and see immediately. However, I think it still might be worth checking out for Christian Bale’s performance at the very least.

Bright (2017) Review

Time: 117 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1]
Cast
Will Smith as Daryl Ward
Joel Edgerton as Nick Jakoby
Noomi Rapace as Leilah
Lucy Fry as Tikka
Édgar Ramírez as Kandomere
Ike Barinholtz as Pollard
Director: David Ayer

In an alternate present day, humans, orcs, elves and fairies have been coexisting since the beginning of time. Two police officers, one a human (Will Smith), the other an orc (Joel Edgerton), embark on a routine night patrol that will alter the future of their world as they know it. Battling both their own personal differences as well as an onslaught of enemies, they must work together to protect a young female elf (Lucy Fry) and a thought-to-be-forgotten relic, which, in the wrong hands, could destroy everything.

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I heard about Bright for a while leading up to its Netflix release. I like David Ayer as a director, and I like Will Smith and Joel Edgerton, however one thing that caused me to become sceptical about Bright being any good was Max Landis. It has received a lot of hate upon its release and after seeing it, I have to say that it is far from being the worst movie of 2017, but it definitely has a lot of problems. While there are some good parts to it, there is a lot of mixed aspects to it.

David Ayer hasn’t had a good track record with scripts lately. Sabotage was written by Skip Woods (who wrote Max Payne, A Good Day to Die Hard and X-Men Origins Wolverine) and Suicide Squad was written by Ayer himself, and although he can write some good movies (Training Day) he had only 6 weeks to do it. Now with Bright, Max Landis is writing, Landis is not a very good writer and surprise surprise, the script to Bright is not very good. I know that Ayer rewrote some of it but again, he had 6 weeks to write Suicide Squad and that didn’t turn out so well. Bright has some attempt to add some racial social commentary, the problem is that it is very heavy handed that its laughable at time. In fact, one of the biggest problems is that the film isn’t subtle at all. I also feel like it takes itself way too seriously, if it went more insane and over the top it might’ve worked better in a weird way. I’m not saying that it would only work if its over the top, I’m saying this because a lot of the moments when it tries to be serious and impactful, it really doesn’t leave the impression that it’s trying to have. The closest it comes is when it deals with Joel Edgerton’s character, I liked what happened with him. I was reasonably invested throughout the whole movie, flaws aside I found it to be just okay, however the third act was underwhelming. Not everything is sub par, I like the world that they have created, combining mankind with orcs, elves and fairies. The blending of fantasy element to the real world actually worked well. There’s definitely potential for a good Max-Landis-free sequel to Bright. It’s going to need a much better writer however.

Will Smith and Joel Edgerton are the leads and they had great chemistry. Some of the banter dialogue between the two doesn’t always work and can feel forced at times but the actors do what they can and they do enough to make a real impression. Edgerton in particularly is a highlight, being one of the best parts about the whole film. Nobody in the supporting cast really gets to stand out, they are okay but don’t leave a real impression. Noomi Rapace is the villain and she was okay but was completely wasted. All she did was villainous things and lacked a lot of character depth, she’s not even in the movie that much. Smith and Egerton are definitely the standouts among the cast.

David Ayer does direct this movie well for the most part. The action sequences are well filmed and were quite entertaining. The makeup is very impressive especially with the orcs, they all look great. Even the visual effects are quite good for a Netflix movie. The use of music wasn’t always the best, like Suicide Squad, Bright would often have scenes that would randomly switch between modern day songs and it would feel very out of place and unneeded.

A lot of people are wondering one thing: is Bright better than Suicide Squad? As someone who now finds SS to be a guilty pleasure, I’d say yes, but not by a huge amount. Bright is not that good of a movie but I wouldn’t call it bad either. It has an interesting world with its fantasy genre blending, Smith and Edgerton play well off each other and Ayer’s direction is solid overall. As repetitive as this criticism is, I gotta say it, Max Landis’s script is really what really holds it back from being good. Nothing is subtle and not as well executed as it should have been. Apparently, a sequel is already in the works and thankfully Max Landis is not involved. As long as they get someone else much better to write the script, I’m on board with it. It definitely has some potential.

Suicide Squad (2016) Review

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Suicide Squad

Time: 123 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence and Offensive Language
Cast:
Will Smith as Floyd Lawton/Deadshot
Jared Leto as Joker
Margot Robbie as Harleen Quinzel/Harley Quinn
Joel Kinnaman as Rick Flag
Viola Davis as Amanda Waller
Jai Courtney as Digger Harkness/Captain Boomerang
Jay Hernandez as Chato Santana/El Diablo
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as Waylon Jones/Killer Croc
Cara Delevingne as Dr. June Moone/Enchantress
Karen Fukuhara as Tatsu Yamashiro/Katana
Adam Beach as Christopher Weiss/Slipknot
Director: David Ayer

Figuring they’re all expendable, a U.S. intelligence officer decides to assemble a team of dangerous, incarcerated supervillains for a top-secret mission. Now armed with government weapons, Deadshot (Will Smith), Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), Captain Boomerang, Killer Croc and other despicable inmates must learn to work together. Dubbed Task Force X, the criminals unite to battle a mysterious and powerful entity, while the diabolical Joker (Jared Leto) launches an evil agenda of his own

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My updated thoughts on Suicide Squad.

Suicide Squad was one of my most anticipated movies of 2016. It has a unique premise and its part of the DCEU, which I’m loving so far. Having finally seen the movie, I have to say that I am quite satisfied with Suicide Squad. I will admit that it does have its noticeable flaws but I still do think it’s really good. It’s a lot of fun, the characters are handled well, it was a very enjoyable movie.

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The story is very straightforward and simple, aside from the bit about criminals working for the government, it’s a pretty standard save the world type story. There’s not a whole lot of surprises in the movie. For me though it was the characters and their interactions that drove the movie. The humour was incorporated well into the movie, it’s funny when it needs to be but doesn’t feel out of place, it still maintains a reasonably dark tone. And yes, before many people ask, this movie is ‘fun’. Some have criticised the first act, it’s basically all the backstories of the main characters. I personally really liked it, even though there are a couple of flashbacks during the rest of the film, by establishing most of the characters’ stories at the beginning of the film it got all of it done earlier, no need for constant flashbacks throughout the rest of the rest of the film. I liked the other 2 acts in general as well plotwise. There is a mid credit scene which ties into other movies in the DCEU so be sure to stick around to the end. I pretty much enjoyed this movie from start to finish, I was interested in what was going on but once again it was the characters that were the highlight of the film.

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Most of the main characters got at least one moment to shine, and there was something memorable about all of them. Margot Robbie IS Harley Quinn, she was absolutely fantastic in the role, she’s one of the most entertaining characters to watch in the film. Will Smith as Deadshot surprised me, I didn’t really know what to expect from him but he was one of the showstealers, he had charisma, he was nice to watch, he was believable in the role, he was great. Another surprising performance was Joel Kinnaman as Rick Flag. That was a role that could’ve just been a generic soldier character but Kinnamon did a great job and elevated the role, he and Smith really played off each other and was one of the most entertaining dynamics of the film. Jai Courtney as Captain Boomerang was great, he was really the comic relief of the movie and was absolutely hilarious. He finally found a role that worked out for him. Another stand out was Jay Hernandez as El Diablo, who was also a surprise for me, he is given quite a bit of depth and probably one of the most likable characters in the film. There is a scene involving his backstory which was done especially and incredibly well. The other squad members, Katana (Karen Fukuhara), and Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Abaje) are also great in their roles. And the final member Slipknot…. well there’s not much to say about him, not spoiling anything.

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In regards to Jared Leto’s Joker, he’s not in the movie a lot, he’s on screen for like 7 minutes max. I liked what Jared Leto did with the character though, you can’t compare him to Ledger’s Joker because for one, it’s a completely different kind of Joker and two, there’s not enough screen time given to Leto to judge. I do think that we should’ve gotten more of him, and a lot of his footage shouldn’t have been cut (but I’ll address all that later). It was a decent taster of what’s to come for his character in future movies. His relationship with Harley does differ from the comics, here he actually somewhat cares for her, and that will divide some people, I’ll bring it up later on. But I’ll say that I have mixed feelings about how they decided to portray their relationship. The main villain, which I won’t reveal for those who don’t want to spoiled (not really a spoiler though) was kind of weak. The person who played the villain did put a lot of effort into it, and I think the effects for the character were great, and there’s something intriguing about the concepts of the character (especially at the beginning) but the writing wasn’t good for the character, especially the dialogue, which is pretty much clichéd taking over the world villain dialogue. It was a shame because if they gave more depth to the villain and have more development for the character in general, the villain would’ve worked better. However, I will say that despite this, Suicide Squad still has a great villain with Viola Davis’s Amanda Waller (yes she counts as a villain), she was absolutely fantastic. Intimidating and cold, she was also a showstealer (and perhaps gave the best performance in the whole movie). I can’t wait to see her interact with other characters in the DCEU. I think that’s the biggest takeaway I had with these characters, they played so well off each other and made huge impressions that I’m excited to see them in other films. While I’m at it I should mention that the cameos were handled quite well, it makes the DCEU feel even bigger.

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Direction wise I think the film is very good, David Ayer is a very talented director. The film definitely feels more real in its locations, costumes, etc, which makes it quite fresh and new for a comic book movie. The film does have quite a lot of Easter eggs that I won’t spoil in case they haven’t been spoiled for you yet. The action scenes are good and very enjoyable to watch, though the action isn’t really very memorable. Also while I liked the third act and the action during it, the fight with the main villain at the end was honestly underwhelming, wasted potential, like the treatment of the villain in the film. The only effects that were iffy for me was for one of the villains (not the main villain), it looked really out of place and fake, borderline Gods of Egypt CGI (I’ll review that movie soon by the way). The rest of the CGI was fine. While I was questioning the modern day soundtrack before seeing the movie, I thought it worked well. Composer Steven Price’s score also was good.

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Now onto the editing. The editing has been getting a lot of criticism. Personally like with Batman v Superman I was generally fine with it, I was able to watch and follow the movie. But for me the one problem I had with the editing was the fact that they cut a lot of footage, there’s a lot of footage that’s in the trailers but not in the movie. This happened quite a lot with The Joker. I felt like Warner Bros cut some things out because they were too scared to show them, for example they cut out a scene which showcased Joker and Harley’s abusive relationship, but I have a strong feeling that this worked against them. Even though Batman v Superman’s original cut had editing issues, I felt like Suicide Squad suffered from this problem more, at least in terms of the scenes they decided to cut. I don’t know who’s to blame for the cut footage but I do think it was a mistake for them to make this decision. Despite this being a problem for me, the film still works quite well with the scenes that are still included.

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With this film branching off into different DC characters never seen before on the big screen, I can say I’m loving the direction the DCEU is going in. Suicide Squad had a lot of great characters, it’s very fun and entertaining and its something we’ve never seen before. Even though I have listed a lot of problems with the movie (mostly due to the villain and editing and especially the cut scenes), it’s pros really do outweigh the cons. Amongst audiences this film is quite divisive, about as divisive as Batman v Superman. Don’t use that film as an indicator of whether you’ll like Suicide Squad or not, they are very different types of films. I’m not sure if you’ll actually like this movie. But I do think it’s worth seeing for yourself.

Sabotage (2014) Review

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Sabotage

Time: 109 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1] Graphic Violence, Drug Use, Offesnive Language and Sexual Material.
Cast:
Arnold Schwarzenegger as John “Breacher” Wharton
Sam Worthington as James “Monster” Murray
Mireille Enos as Lizzy Murray
Olivia Williams as Investigator Caroline Brentwood
Terrence Howard as Julius “Sugar” Edmonds
Joe Manganiello as Joe “Grinder” Phillips
Harold Perrineau as Investigator Darius Jackson
Martin Donovan as Floyd Demel
Max Martini as Tom “Pyro” Roberts
Josh Holloway as Eddie “Neck” Jordan
Director: David Ayer

A DEA special ops unit becomes involved in a large scale bust involving tens of millions of dollars. The bust becomes interesting when the group decides to take 10 million dollars for their own use. Things go sour when the money which was hidden turns out to be missing. The group eventually recovers from an internal investigation with another chance to salvage their reputation. But which organized drug group would forget about 10 million dollars? The bigger mystery is where did that money go?

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David Ayer is a filmmaker known for making great movies with his very realistic style. I was initially curious for Sabotage, it’s an action movie directed by David Ayer and starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. Unfortunately Sabotage was a tremendous let down. It does have some decent action and Arnold Schwarzenegger does give a great performance, however the writing was pretty bad and didn’t really give much Ayer to work with.

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This film was co-written by Skip Woods who previously wrote Hitman, X-Men Origins Wolverine and A Good Day to Die Hard. I have a feeling that’s the reason for a lot of the flaws in the movie. The plot for Sabotage is quite convoluted and for a large portion it wasn’t moving fast enough and not a lot was happening. Also, according to David Ayer, the film was heavily cut by the studio in favour of having more of an action based film rather than a mystery thriller. The original cut of Sabotage was rumoured to be close to 3 hours. After hearing about that fact, it all makes sense. The only parts of the writing I liked was Arnold’s character and his past. Nearly all of the other characters are completely unlikable and annoying.

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Arnold Schwarzenegger actually gives one of the best performances of his career. He plays a much darker character and it shows that he can actually do quite well in dramas if he’s given the right character to work with. This is more than I can say for the other characters. Aside from Arnold, almost everyone else is completely unlikable, Olivia Williams was the only other person in this film that was likable. On top of that, only Arnold’s character is given any history, nothing is given about the rest of the team. So when a lot of these people are being killed off, I didn’t really feel much sympathy because that’s what I’ve been waiting to happen for a while.

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I liked the action but sometimes the hand held camera really didn’t work for me. This film, like Ayer’s other work (End of Watch and Fury) tries to have a realistic style. Sometimes in the movie it really does that and sometimes that’s effective. But the gruesome and over the top violence really felt out of place. I understand that violence can be bloody and gory but this was at an unbelievable level. There’s one death where a person is found nailed to the ceiling with blood dripping down. It was the cartel who did that and it’s hard to imagine them killing that person and then taking the time to nail him up there. It felt like a completely different movie and it got ridiculous at times.

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Sabotage for the most part is a dragging movie with unlikable characters and a plot that’s impossible to follow. It was Arnold and some of the action scenes that made me give this a slightly higher score than most people would give. Despite Sabotage, I still really excited for David Ayer’s Suicide Squad, especially with the latest trailer out. As for Sabotage, this is David Ayer’s weakest work and it’s disappointing. It’s hard to see how this film with so much talent behind it could’ve ended up like this.