Tag Archives: Jeffrey Donovan

Honest Thief (2020) Review


Honest Thief

Time: 100 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence & offensive language
Liam Neeson as Tom Dolan
Kate Walsh as Annie Wilkins
Jai Courtney as Agent John Nivens
Jeffrey Donovan as Agent Sean Meyers
Anthony Ramos as Agent Ramon Hall
Robert Patrick as Agent Sam Baker
Director: Mark Williams

Hoping to cut a deal, a professional bank robber agrees to return all the money he stole in exchange for a reduced sentence. When two FBI agents set him up for murder, he is forced to go on the run to clear his name and bring them to justice.

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Going into Honest Thief, I really wasn’t expecting much beyond a typical Liam Neeson action movie. That’s pretty much what the film was, still I got some enjoyment out of it. However if you’re hoping for a special movie amongst his many flicks over the past decade, Honest Thief isn’t that.


The script holds a lot of the movie back with how generic it is. The story is very typical and doesn’t have much to offer. Liam Neeson is a capable thief (having a particular set of skills), he falls in love, he turns himself into the FBI, but is then framed and has to go on the run to clear his name. The plot unravels exactly how you’d expect it to. It’s not all that interesting but it is competent and serviceable, and gracefully doesn’t get over complicated. It is at least aware of what kind of movie it is. The movie is not very long at 100 minutes, and I wouldn’t have wanted it to be any longer than that.


Liam Neeson plays the lead role as the titular thief. Its not one of his better Neeson flick performances, but he is solid enough and is watchable, elevating this generic action flick a little. The rest of the cast including Kate Walsh, Jeffrey Donavon, Anthony Ramos, Robert Patrick and Jai Courtney are also decent, but aren’t given much to do,


The direction from Mark Williams is fine, just nothing spectacular. The action is there, entertaining enough, but with typical set pieces. It’s not bad, just rather forgettable.


Honest Thief is exactly what you’d expect it to be, a cliched Liam Neeson action movie with very few surprises. With that said, I found it entertaining enough, the cast led by Neeson are pretty good, and the action is reasonably fun to watch. It feels like a straight to streaming movie, but as that it succeeds well enough. So if you enjoy Neeson flicks and you’re not expecting anything special, Honest Thief is an okay time.


Wrath of Man (2021) Review


Wrath of Man

Time: 119 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence, cruelty & offensive language
Jason Statham as Patrick “H” Hill/Heargraves
Holt McCallany as Bullet
Jeffrey Donovan as Jackson
Josh Hartnett as Boy Sweat Dave
Chris Reilly as Tom
Laz Alonso as Carlos
Raúl Castillo as Sam
DeObia Oparei as Brad
Eddie Marsan as Terry
Scott Eastwood as Jan
Director: Guy Ritchie

Mysterious and wild-eyed, a new security guard (Jason Statham) for a cash truck surprises his co-workers when he unleashes precision skills during a heist. The crew is left wondering who he is and where he came from. Soon, the marksman’s ultimate motive becomes clear as he takes dramatic and irrevocable steps to settle a score.

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I was interested in Wrath of Man. Not only was it a Guy Ritchie movie, but it would be his first collaboration with Jason Statham in a long time. The trailer for the movie was alright but it definitely seemed like more like a typical Jason Statham action flick than a Guy Ritchie movie, and I wasn’t really sure what to expect outside of some good action scenes. I still was interested in it however, and it ended up being better than I expected it to be.


Essentially, Wrath of Man is a revenge thriller meets heist film. The plot wasn’t exactly unpredictable and was a tad on the generic side, but I found myself invested throughout its runtime. The characters are common personalities as well for a film of this genre, but they’re written confidently and in such a way that we can just focus on what they are involved in. While Wrath of Man features some Guy Ritchie tropes, there’s definitely a lot of distinct differences between this and most of his other films. It’s set in Los Angeles, the dialogue while being Ritchie-esque isn’t quite as snappy, and the characters aren’t quirky. It also doesn’t quite have the dark comedy that those other movies have. Wrath of Man is a dead serious, brutal, relentless, and violent revenge thriller, in fact this is definitely one of the darkest movies that Guy Ritchie has made. The middle section particularly gets grim, bleak and unsettling. At the same time, the tone felt right for this story, and it was well put together. One way Wrath of Man is similar to Ritchie’s other movies is the nonlinear narrative. We cut around to different character sand see their perspectives, even in the past. As a result, it gives the narrative even more context. It does get a little crazy with the time jumps, especially as we see title cards revealing that we are jumping months ahead and behind. The pacing runs a bit on the slower side, especially when we are often cutting back to the same events and just seeing them through different perspectives. A consequence of this is that it makes the movie feel longer than it really is. With that said, the slow pacing was necessary, and it is rewarded greatly with an entertaining and action packed climax.


This movie has often been advertised as a Jason Statham flick, and he’s definitely the lead character in this. As expected, he plays his role similar to how you’d expect him to, basing it off his previous action and crime movie roles. However, there’s something slightly different to him in this, unlike his past roles (even his straight up villainous roles), he feels actually threatening in this. His character is mysterious and stoic, and he’s got this empty far-away look that makes him actually feel intimidating. He’s ruthless, and in some scenes seems almost like a terminator or slasher villain. At the same time he’s still very much not invincible, just very dangerous. Probably among Statham’s best performances. The rest of the cast are good too, with the likes of Holt McCallany, Scott Eastwood, Josh Hartnett, Jeffrey Donovan, Eddie Marsan and Andy Garcia providing solid support work.


Guy Ritchie directs this, and his work here is really good. Even though I previously said that its different to a lot of his previous movies, you still do feel to a degree that it’s a Guy Ritchie film with the way things are shot and edited. It’s a very well shot movie, there are some impressive long takes, the movie even opens with a great long take. Despite how it was advertised, Wrath of Man isn’t an action-packed movie. Outside of a couple of action scenes in the first two acts, most of the action takes place in the last act, and it’s brutal, bloody, and kind of realistic. You feel every shot and impact, and the build up to it all is just as effective. One of the standout aspects from this movie immediately was the foreboding score from Chris Benstead, making an already unnerving film even more haunting. It has a sense of doom and dread that fits with the film, even sounding like something from Joker. It keeps the tension rising throughout the movie, creating this unsettling and intense atmosphere. Speaking of which, with the level of violence and intensity, it really makes the movie stand out in Ritchie’s filmography.


Wrath of Man might actually be among Guy Ritchie’s best movies. The plot isn’t anything special or unpredictable, but the bleakness, the intense and haunting atmosphere, the non-linear narrative, and the fantastic action sequences, along with some solid acting and directing, it all combines to make an experience that I’m glad I saw, especially in the cinema. If you are a fan of Guy Ritchie’s movies or Jason Statham’s movies, I do recommend checking it out.

Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile (2019) Review

Time: 108 Minutes
Zac Efron as Theodore “Ted” Bundy
Lily Collins as Elizabeth “Liz” Kendall
Kaya Scodelario as Carole Ann Boone
John Malkovich as Judge Edward Cowart
Jeffrey Donovan as John O’Connell
Angela Sarafyan as Joanna
Dylan Baker as David Yocom
Brian Geraghty as Dan Dowd
Jim Parsons as Larry Simpson
Haley Joel Osment as Jerry Thompson
Director: Joe Berlinger

A courtroom frenzy ensues and sweeps 1970s America when a young single mother (Lily Collins) reluctantly tips the attention of a widespread manhunt toward her longtime boyfriend, Ted Bundy (Zac Efron).

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Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile was a movie I was curious about. With it being a movie about Ted Bundy, and with the cast involved (especially with Zac Efron playing Bundy) I was interested, but wasn’t really sure how the movie would be. Having seen it, I can say that the performances were very good and it was kind of interesting to watch, however doesn’t quite reach its fullest potential.

First thing to note is that the director Joe Berlinger directed earlier this year Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes, a Netflix series about Ted Bundy. I’ve never seen it but it seems that the film is helmed by someone who knows a lot of the subject matter. It is worth knowing going in that Extremely Wicked is mostly a court case sort of movie, and the court case scenes start much earlier than expected. You don’t actually see Efron’s Bundy kill anyone (for the most part), you do hear about some of his crimes but that’s it. The first half of the movie was alright, as it shows Ted with his girlfriend Liz as suspicions about him being a serial killer build up over time. I did feel like it dragged a little bit and didn’t have me fully invested. The second half is where the movie picks up, as it heads towards the main court case, with John Malkovich as the judge and Jim Parsons as the prosecutor. From there it’s much more interesting to watch what is happening. The thing that probably let down the movie mostly was the weak script. I think one of the biggest problems is that the movie from the beginning seems to intend on seeing Bundy through his girlfriend’s perspective. However, he gets arrested pretty early on and we don’t really get to spend much time with the two of them together before or during this period, and the movie breezes right through it. The second half of the movie almost abandons this approach, with the majority of it being a bunch of court cases and then once in a while cuts to Liz hearing about what’s going on. It’s like they really didn’t know what approach they should take and so tried to do everything. A lot of people were worrying that the film was going to glorify Bundy but I’m not sure how anyone could think that after watching the movie. In fact, I think it played much of the movie way too safely, like it deliberately feels caged in and restricted to avoid controversy. As I don’t know much about Ted Bundy, I was reasonably interested watching the movie but come to think of it I don’t think I’ve learned a whole lot more about him than I did before watching it. I feel like people who already know a lot about him or have watched The Ted Bundy Tapes won’t get anything more out of it, outside of the acting.

Zac Efron gives his career best performance as Ted Bundy, he is great here. Efron effortlessly conveys Bundy’s charm and you can see why so many people could be tricked by him and got away with so much. The first half of the movie you really just see Efron’s charismatic side and it’s a while before you really get to see the darker aspects. In the second half though you really get some glimpses of Bundy’s more serial killer side, even without showing any killings on screen, and he’s excellent in the last 20 minutes. I do feel like Efron wasn’t really able to fully embody Bundy as the movie only shows certain sides to him. It was good for what we got though, and at the very least it shows that Efron is more than up to the task for playing much more challenging roles. Lily Collins was also really good as Bundy’s girlfriend Liz and considering that the character really wasn’t handled the best in the story, Collins elevated the role with her performance. It’s a little difficult to buy their relationship as in the early stages of the movie, their moments together are just shown in montages and we don’t really get a chance to see it unfold, so some of the relationship isn’t fully convincing. Not that they have bad chemistry or anything, both of them work together on screen well, it’s just that we didn’t get enough of it. The rest of the cast, which consists of Kaya Scodelario, John Malkovich, Jim Parsons, Haley Joel Osment and more also played their roles well.

Joe Berlinger directed this movie fine enough, there’s nothing wrong with how he handled the movie, the cinematography, editing and all the rest are competent enough, just nothing special or noteworthy worth mentioning.

Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile is a decent enough movie but isn’t as great as it could’ve been. The movie didn’t seem to know what angle it was going to take on the story, whether it be from the perspective of the girlfriend or to be a court case movie, and it’s a little messy all round. Weak script aside, from what I can gather, you’ll get a lot more out of it if you don’t know a lot about Bundy beforehand, as it doesn’t show or reveal a whole lot about him. As someone who really didn’t know much about him beforehand, I liked it but I can see how others didn’t get much out of it. With that said, it does pick up with the second half, and Efron and Collins give some really good performances and I think that’s enough to make the movie worth watching. If you have Netflix and you are curious about it, then definitely give it a watch.

Sicario: Day of the Soldado (2018) Review

Time: 122 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Contains violence & offensive language
Benicio del Toro as Alejandro Gillick
Josh Brolin as Matt Graver
Isabela Moner as Isabela Reyes
Jeffrey Donovan as Steve Forsing
Catherine Keener as Cynthia Foards
Manuel Garcia-Rulfo as Gallo
Director: Stefano Sollima

FBI agent Matt Graver (Josh Brolin) calls on mysterious operative Alejandro Gillick (Benicio del Toro) when Mexican drug cartels start to smuggle terrorists across the U.S. border. The war escalates even further when Alejandro kidnaps a top kingpin’s daughter (Isabela Moner) to deliberately increase the tensions. When the young girl is seen as collateral damage, the two men will determine her fate as they question everything that they are fighting for.

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Sicario: Day of the Soldado was one of my most anticipated films of 2018. Sicario was one of the best films of 2015 and I liked it even more upon my second viewing, however I had mixed feelings about a sequel to Sicario. Although actors Benicio del Toro and Josh Brolin and writer Taylor Sheridan were returning, actress Emily Blunt, director Denis Villeneuve and cinematographer Roger Deakins weren’t returning. Also, I just couldn’t see how a sequel to Sicario could be done, it seemed so much like a standalone movie that it didn’t feel like more could be done with the story. Every movie that Taylor Sheridan has written for however has turned out great, so I gave it a chance. Having seen it, I have to say that Sicario: Day of the Soldado was one of the biggest surprises of the year so far. Aside from the lack of Denis Villeneuve and some of the pacing at the beginning, Soldado has a compelling story and great performances, putting it close to being on par with the original Sicario.

Soldado is just as bleak and ruthless as the first movie, a particular scene in the first 10 minutes really sets the tone for the rest of the movie. This really does feel like a continuation of the first Sicario and not some very distant and barely resemblent cousin. At the same time, it’s not a cheap clone of the original. One the best parts about Soldado is that is has quite a different story to Sicario, while both movies involves cartels, the first movie is about drugs and the latest is about terrorism. Rewatching Sicario somewhat recently, I also noticed that it had a very straightforward and focussed story. Soldado on the other hand is much more complex and less conventional. It effectively shows the impact on everyone and there is very little black and white here, just a lot of grey areas. It also feels like on a much larger scale. Soldado does show off more of del Toro’s Alejandro and Brolin’s Matt (given that they get more screentime now that they are the only two main characters), which means we get a better sense of their characters. I’ve heard some say that certain parts about them, certain decisions they make, feel a little out of character for them, especially compared how ruthless they were in the first movie. First of all, its Taylor Sheridan who wrote this, so no one knows these characters better than him. Second of all, I didn’t find it that jarring, we are seeing more sides to them. They still aren’t particularly good people and they still do some horrible things to achieve their goals, its just showing more sides to them that we didn’t see before. The way that things are left at the end of the movie is pretty much set up for a sequel, so a lot of the way certain things are done here will depend on how it’ll be done in the third movie. The movie is about the length of the original Sicario, about a few minutes longer. Aside from the early moments of the film, I felt that Soldado moved noticeably faster. Not that Sicario was unbearably slow or anything (even though it was slower paced), its just I felt that Soldado was paced better. There aren’t too many problems I have with the movie. The beginning is a little slow, after the first 20 minutes however it really picks up. There also might also be one or two implausible moments most of it like the first movie is still pretty set grounded in reality, but the moments that seem a little unrealistic do stick out. The sense of dread that was so prevalent in the original Sicario is not apparent as much here, though it might just be because it’s a different type of story. Also, while I’m not sure if this is an actual problem, you do feel the lack of Emily Blunt’s Kate Macer, who served in the first film as almost an audience surrogate, someone with high morals that you can root for with most of the other main characters (del Toro and Brolin) not exactly having them. So for some, Soldado might be lacking something but for this story, it worked fine enough. I’d like for her to return in the inevitable 3rd Sicario movie though. The biggest standout problem however was the ending. While the last moments of Soldado will prove to be divisive in terms of realism, I could somewhat handle it. It’s the last scene that really doesn’t work, it is so blatant sequel bait that it feels really out of place, almost like it was studio mandated and not written by Sheridan himself. Had they just removed that last scene, it could’ve been ended perfectly.

The acting is all around great, with the main two leads giving fantastic performances once again. With the main characters just being Benicio del Toro and Josh Brolin, they get a lot more to do than in the previous movie, and we get to see a lot more of them, del Toro’s character of Alejandro especially. Alejandro in the Sicario movies is one of Benicio’s best roles and in the sequel he’s even better. Another good performance is by Isabela Moner as the daughter of a kingpin that del Toro and Brolin kidnap in order to initiate the war between two cartels.

With Soldado, you really feel the lack of Denis Villeneuve. However, when I say this I don’t mean to badmouth the direction of this movie, Stefano Sollima’s handling of Soldado is actually quite good, and there isn’t particularly anything about it that I could consider to be flawed. It doesn’t look as good as the Roger Deakins filmed Sicario, but Soldado still looks pretty good, with the cinematography by Dariusz Wolski being quite effective and good looking. Despite the trailers making the movie out to be much more ‘action packed’, the level of ‘action’ is about the same level as with Sicario. As with the original, these sequences aren’t really action scenes, they are bursts of thrilling, tense and grim violence that don’t actually last for very long that are heavily set in reality, you don’t watch them for entertainment. Sicario composer Johann Johansson sadly passed away earlier this year, so for Soldado we have Hildur Guðnadóttir as the composer (who also worked on the first Sicario as a cello soloist). The score is a little different to the original film’s but it is similar in tone and is quite effective.

Sicario: Day of the Soldado is actually one of my favourite movies of the year, with its performances and the complex story by Taylor Sheridan being the highlights. How it compares to the original remains to be seen as I’ll probably need to give it a rewatch before I can say, but they are closer in quality than I thought they would be. I’m on board for a third and final Sicario film, Sheridan clearly is moving this story and these characters in a particular direction and I’d love to see what he has planned.