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The Devil All the Time (2020) Review

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The Devil All the Time

Time: 138 Minutes
Cast:
Tom Holland as Arvin Eugene Russell
Bill Skarsgård as Willard Russell
Robert Pattinson as Reverend Preston Teagardin
Riley Keough as Sandy Henderson
Jason Clarke as Carl Henderson
Sebastian Stan as Sheriff Lee Bodecker
Eliza Scanlen as Lenora Laferty
Haley Bennett as Charlotte Russell
Mia Wasikowska as Helen Hatton Laferty
Harry Melling as Roy Laferty
Director: Antonio Campos

A young man (Tom Holland) is devoted to protecting his loved ones in a town full of corruption and sinister characters.

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The Devil All the Time was one of my most anticipated movies of 2020. First of all it has one of the biggest casts of the year, with it including Tom Holland, Bill Skarsgard, Robert Pattinson, Jason Clarke, and Riley Keough, so naturally that had my curiosity. On top of that though, the prospect of a psychological thriller with a large group of characters sounded quite appealing and very much my kind of film. Having seen it, I can see why some people are mixed on it, it’s not for everyone, but I’m glad to say that I really liked the movie and it really worked for me.

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You could describe The Devil All the Time as like The Place Beyond the Pines as written by Cormac McCarthy or The Coen Brothers. It spans a number of decades and generations, and features a large number of characters with intertwining storylines. It can feel like it’s not driving towards something for most of the movie, it’s very much a character driven story. For me though it works, I found the story and characters compelling, and I was invested with what was happening. As mentioned earlier it is not for everyone. It is a very grim and bleak movie, a lot of graphic, violent and gruesome acts happen, there are some pretty dark themes and subject matter touched on throughout, and almost all of the main characters are pretty far from what you’d call ‘a good person’ to say the least. So it’s likely to turn a lot of people off. The movie is also just under 2 hours and 20 minutes long, it does feel quite long and it is slowly paced for sure. You could make the argument that some parts could’ve been trimmed. At the same time there are some plotlines that could’ve done with some fleshing out, particularly those of Jason Clarke, Riley Keough and Sebastian Stan. Maybe a mini series might’ve been able to flesh out all the aspects of the story while not feeling too drawn out, but I’m fine with how it is as a movie. One point of contention will be with the narration by Donald Ray Pollock, the author of the book the movie was based on. It will work for some, and others will hate it, I have very mixed feelings on it. It really did add something to the tone of the movie, making it feel like a gothic folk tale, and it also added some context to the characters and the story that it sometimes needed. So I wouldn’t say that it should’ve been completely removed or anything. However, it really needed to be cut back a ton. There’s many moments that would’ve been more effective if they didn’t have narration, it just explains way too much, including what some characters are doing and why they are doing it, and it just takes me out of the movie. This may be a nitpick but there are a few characters who are around from the 40s through to the 60s, and don’t look like they aged a day, and it can be a bit distracting.

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The cast are of course the standouts from the movie, and everyone is great on their part. Riley Keough and Jason Clarke play a serial killer couple, Sebastian Stan plays a corrupt sheriff, and Harry Melling plays a fanatical preacher, the later of whom was one of the biggest surprises of the movie, delivering a truly memorable performance. Although their characters aren’t given much to do, Eliza Scanlen, Haley Bennett, Mia Wasikowska do well on their parts, and Scanlen particularly gave an effective performance. Even amongst an ensemble of great performances, there were three actors that stood out. First of all is Tom Holland, as the main character of the story (despite appearing for the first time like 40 minutes into the movie) Arvin Russell. This was quite a different role for him, a much darker and emotional role for him, and he was actually great on his part. While I like him in the movies I’ve seen of his, I’d say that this is so far the best performance of his career thus far. I hope Holland branches out to more indie movies like this, because he’s definitely got a lot of range. Bill Skarsgard is also great as Arvin’s father, he really leaves a strong impression despite being in the movie for only like 30 minutes. He gives an intense and emotional performance, and possibly the best work I’ve seen from him thus far. Robert Pattinson is also a scene stealer as a sleezy, deranged and sinister reverend. He’s not even in the movie a ton but he makes the most of his screentime. His performance could’ve so easily failed, it is definitely over the top. However it actually really works, and he really did well at portraying the most hateable character in the film, and considering the lineup of characters in this story that is saying a lot. A particular scene between him and Holland is one of the best scenes of the year.

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This is the first movie I watched from Antonio Campos, and from this I can tell that he’s a great director, and I do want to watch his other movies. It’s very well put together. The cinematography is great and really sells the environment and time period effectively. The 35mm and the grain really also really fit the movie and tone. You really get the gothic rural feeling throughout. The use of music was pretty great, both the song choices and the score, and really worked particularly well in some certain scenes. The violence and brutality is really effective and impactful, it feels very realistic, and there are some moments and particularly some imagery that really stick with you.

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The Devil All the Time has some issues with some of the executions of its ideas and with its writing, but on the whole I think it’s great. I was invested throughout, it’s very well directed, and it features some fantastic acting, particularly from Tom Holland, Bill Skarsgard and Robert Pattinson. It’s not for everyone, the aimless story might drag for some, and the grim tone might turn some people off. With that said I think that it might be worth watching for the ensemble of great performances alone.

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.