Tag Archives: Jaume Collet-Serra

Jungle Cruise (2021) Review

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Jungle Cruise

Time: 127 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Dwayne Johnson as Captain Frank “Skipper” Wolff
Emily Blunt as Dr. Lily Houghton
Jack Whitehall as MacGregor Houghton
Édgar Ramírez as Aguirre
Jesse Plemons as Prince Joachim
Paul Giamatti as Nilo Nemolato
Director: Jaume Collet-Serra

Dr. Lily Houghton (Emily Blunt) enlists the aid of wisecracking skipper Frank Wolff (Dwayne Johnson) to take her down the Amazon in his ramshackle boat. Together, they search for an ancient tree that holds the power to heal — a discovery that will change the future of medicine.

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I heard of Jungle Cruise in the lead up to its release, I knew that it was going to star Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt, and that it was based off the theme park ride of the same name in Disneyland. Initially I wasn’t that interested in it, at the very least I found an adaptation of this to be quite a strange idea since all it pretty much is just a jungle ride with not much of a plot to really adapt. However some early responses were fairly positive, and the trailer looked fun enough. So I checked it out for myself and I’m glad I watched it.

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I haven’t been on the Jungle Cruise ride in quite some time so I don’t know if the movie contains many references to it. However from what I can tell, having the movie being based off the ride is just an excuse to have another adventure movie, definitely a throwback to those kinds of film. You definitely get the vibes of Indiana Jones, The Mummy, as well as National Treasure to a degree. If you enjoy those kinds of movies, then you’ll probably have a fun time with this. The plot itself is nothing unpredictable, you can tell what kind of movie you are in for, and as that I found it enjoyable. The first third is a bit slow but once the main characters are on the boat it was a smooth and fast paced ride. There are plenty of jokes throughout and most of them land. Tonally it is mostly consistently light and fun, and the movie knows what kind of film it is. At the same time, it does play around with the tone and gets surprisingly dark at points. One of the most standout yet confusing moments is a flashback sequence that has Metallica’s Nothing Else Matters playing, that makes it feel like it came out of a completely different movie. Definitely a memorable scene, but I can’t figure out whether I liked the inclusion, or whether it shouldn’t have been in it. Although the script is fairly straightforward, at times it can get a bit too convoluted. Also while it always shines whenever its following the main trio, some aspects of the story aren’t the most interesting. There are two villainous storylines, one is more relevant to the story but isn’t as interesting. The other involves Jesse Plemons and is less relevant to the story, but is a lot more fun because of his performance. The finale itself was pretty fun but a bit lacklustre when compared to the rest of the movie.

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The cast were good too and they added a lot to the enjoyment of the movie. Dwayne Johnson once again plays Dwayne Johnson, however for what its worth, he is entertaining, and his familiar personality and charisma works for this film. Emily Blunt was really the star of the whole movie, she’s really good and has a lot to work with in the film. She and Johnson has good chemistry. Jack Whitehall is the third main character as Emily Blunt’s brother and while I wasn’t sure about his character when it started, he actually grows on you as the film progresses. Jesse Plemons plays one of the main villains as a German aristocrat, and he is having a ton of fun here. The character isn’t interesting or memorable, but Plemons adds so much with his fun on screen appearances to make him stand out in the movie.

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Jaume Collet-Sierra being the director was one of the more interesting parts of the movie going into it. He previously made 4 Liam Neeson action movies (Unknown, Non Stop, Run All Night and The Commuter) and some horror movies (including Orphan and The Shallows). I think his work as a director added a lot to the movie. A lot of the action is fast paced, well filmed, and was fun to watch. Where the technical elements falter a little bit is the visual effects, which are a bit of a mixed bag and ranged in quality. I do think that they could’ve afforded to use more practical effects and rely less on CGI, and the CGI itself could be a little unpolished at times.

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As far as Disneyland theme park rides turned into movies, it is no Pirates of the Caribbean, but it was still fun. Jungle Cruise is nothing special when compared to the type of movies it taking inspiration from, but its nonetheless entertaining for what it is and better than it had any right to be. Its directed pretty well, the cast are good, and I was enjoying the experience from beginning to end. If you go in expecting a fun adventure, then that’s what you’ll get.

The Commuter (2018) Review

Time: 105 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence & offensive language
Cast:
Liam Neeson as Michael MacCauley
Vera Farmiga as Joanna
Patrick Wilson as Det. Lt. Alex Murphy
Jonathan Banks as Walt
Sam Neill as Captain David Hawthorne
Director: Jaume Collet-Serra

Insurance salesman Michael (Liam Neeson) is on his daily commute home, which quickly becomes anything but routine. After being contacted by a mysterious stranger, Michael is forced to uncover the identity of a hidden passenger on the train before the last stop. As he works against the clock to solve the puzzle, he realizes a deadly plan is unfolding, and he is unwittingly caught up in a criminal conspiracy that carries life and death stakes for everyone on the train.

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I’d been meaning to watch The Commuter for a while. It’s a Liam Neeson action movie which would be his 4th collaboration with director Jaume Collet-Serra, who directed him previously in action flicks Unknown, Non Stop and Run All Night. The Commuter was pretty much Liam Neeson on a train so naturally I was wanting to check it out, and it was pretty much what I was expecting it to be. It’s nothing revolutionary but it’s nonetheless rather entertaining and Liam Neeson is good as always.

Much of this movie is a thriller, more than an action movie really, and it keeps the tension raised throughout. It keeps the entire story contained within the train, and throughout almost all of the movie is just set inside that train. While you can sort of figure out how certain things are going to play out and the story overall is not a complete surprise, it’s not entirely predictable what’s going to happen. Throughout the 105 minute runtime, you’re entertained quite a bit. There’s not a ton to the story or to the characterisation but there didn’t need to be.

Liam Neeson is typically good in yet another action role. Neeson is no stranger to these kind of roles however his character in The Commuter is a bit different to those. His character was once a cop but now is an insurance agent. So while he as ‘a particular set of skills’, he’s not at the top of his game with them. Also he actually does seem quite vulnerable and desperate in his situation, despite all of his skills, he doesn’t ever really feel that he’s on top of everything that’s going on. Something that took me off guard was the number of other actors I recognised in the movie, mostly because we don’t actually get a lot of screentime with most of them. I mean at least Vera Farmiga had a presence throughout the movie (even if she isn’t seen a lot) and Patrick Wilson was involved in some major scenes. However some of the castings were odd, like Jonathan Banks gets a really small role that could’ve been played by anyone, and Sam Neill plays a Police Captain who’s in like 2 scenes. That’s not to say that the performances were bad or that they phoned them in, because they weren’t, they all played their roles to the best of their abilities and were pretty good. It’s just personally it was a little distracting seeing so many recognisable faces pop up only briefly in the movie.

The direction as to be expected by Jaume Collet-Serra is good. He navigates the film inside this one train very well and it really does place the movie there for like 95% of the time. There aren’t many fight scenes or really action scenes but they are generally done quite well. There is particularly one fight scene that was done all in one shot, and you can tell that it was Liam Neeson and the other actor doing their own stunts, no stunt doubles were involved, and it was just really great to watch. The movie might actually be worth watching for that scene alone. While The Commuter mostly keeps itself as a contained thriller, it does go off the rails in the third act, mainly in one incredibly over the top action scene. While the movie doesn’t use CGI for most of the movie, when it is used it’s noticeably dreadful. It’s mostly in the aforementioned sequence ‘off the rails’ segment where everything looked so incredibly fake. Thankfully it’s just that one scene which was over the top, everything else has the direction being pretty good.

The Commuter is a fun little thriller, that is directed reasonably well, is entertaining and Liam Neeson is effortlessly good here. It’s not really anything that you’ll remember weeks or even days after watching it but if you are a fun of Liam Neeson action flicks like the director’s Unknown, Non Stop and Run All Night, or even Taken (the film that made Neeson an action star), this is definitely something you need to watch as soon as you can because you’ll have a blast with it.

Run All Night (2015) Review

Time: 114 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Contains violence, offensive language & drug use
Cast:
Liam Neeson as Jimmy Conlon
Joel Kinnaman as Mike Conlon
Ed Harris as Shawn Maguire
Common as Mr. Price
Vincent D’Onofrio as Detective Harding
Boyd Holbrook as Danny Maguire
Bruce McGill as Pat Mullen
Genesis Rodriguez as Gabriela Conlon
Director: Jaume Collet-Serra

Professional Brooklyn hitman Jimmy Conlon (Liam Neeson) is more commonly known as THE GRAVEDIGGER. Jimmy was a mob hit-man, who was best friends with his boss Sean Maguire (Ed Harris). But when Jimmy’s son, Michael (Joel Kinnaman), is marked for death by the mob, Jimmy must go up against Sean to protect Michael at all costs. Together, he and Michael must avoid corrupt cops, contract killers and the mob to survive the night.

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Run All Night was a movie that interested me because of Liam Neeson’s involvement, but having actors like Ed Harris and Jaume Collet-Serra (the director of Unknown and Non Stop both pretty good Liam Neeson movies) did help as well. Out of the three movies that the director and Neeson had worked on (that I’ve seen, I haven’t seen The Commuter yet), this film is probably my favourite. It felt more placed in the real world (in comparison to the director’s previous movies), the action was great, the cast were quite solid in their roles and it really kept my attention all the way through. It’s not a fantastic action movie but it is an entertaining movie that is worth watching if you have the time.

The mostly story takes place all night (as you can probably tell from the title) and it does well in making it really feel like it. The plot is straightforward enough, not complicated but not mindless either. It’s got some little surprises which are some good surprises. It also felt relatively grounded compared to previous collaborations between Neeson and Collet-Serra (especially Non Stop). The pacing was done well, though it really picks up after Neeson’s character kills Harris’s son’s character. The movie does get better as it moves along more. There’s not much to really say about the plot to be honest.

Liam Neeson is really good, granted he could play this role in his sleep. I like the fact that he’s not playing a very moral character like in some of his other action movie roles. He’s a drunk, he’s a criminal and that was very refreshing to see, with it not just being a rehash of Liam Neeson – Action Hero. Ed Harris proved to be a great antagonist, he like a lot of his other villains has real motives and he makes everything believable and not cartoonishly evil. Both Neeson and Harris seem like they have a history, which was important to capture as that comes into play a lot in the movie. Joel Kinnaman was also really good in his role. He shared great chemistry with Neeson, and really seemed to have an estranged relationship. I also really liked Common here, he plays an assassin that Ed Harris hires at a point in the movie. I do feel like he was underused, he was only in a few scenes of the movie but he was good when he was on screen.

I liked that Run All Night decided to go with an R rating, considering the last 2 Neeson and Jaume Collet-Serra collabs have been M/PG-13. The overall direction of Run All Night overall was quite good, the movie has a good look to it. The action scenes are great and quite violent at times, which really worked with the dark and realistic tone that the film was going for, but at the same time isn’t trying too hard to make the movie completely realistic, it still knows what type of movie it is.

Although the film isn’t a must see and isn’t one of the all time best crime thrillers in recent years, I do recommend checking it out. The action is solid, the cast are good in their roles and it does keep your attention and is entertaining from start to finish, it’s not a simple action flick with no substance but it also knows what type of movie it is. If you like a lot of the Neeson flicks, I have a strong feeling that you’ll like it as well.