Tag Archives: Michael B. Jordan

Without Remorse (2021) Review

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Without Remorse

Time: 109 Minutes
Cast:
Michael B. Jordan as John Kelly
Jamie Bell as Robert Ritter
Jodie Turner-Smith as Lieutenant Commander Karen Greer
Luke Mitchell as Rowdy King
Jack Kesy as Thunder
Brett Gelman as Victor Rykov
Lauren London as Pam Kelly
Colman Domingo as Pastor West
Guy Pearce as Secretary of Defense Thomas Clay
Director: Stefano Sollima

Seeking justice for the murder of his pregnant wife, an elite Navy SEAL (Michael B. Jordan) uncovers a covert plot that threatens to engulf the United States and Russia in an all-out war.

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I heard about Without Remorse somewhat recently, the main thing I knew was that it was based off a Tom Clancy book. I wasn’t expecting a huge amount from it, especially with the reactions to it. With that said, I like Michael B. Jordan (who’s in the lead role), and the director and writer of Sicario: Day of the Soldado, Stefano Sollima and Taylor Sheridan, were involved. I expected an okay action flick and that’s pretty much what I got.

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The writing is the key issues with the movie really, despite Taylor Sheridan being one of the writers, it’s pretty underwhelming. If you’ve seen a movie based off the works of Tom Clancy, Without Remorse should feel very familiar. I never read the book so I can’t comment on the similarities or differences between the book and the movie. However I can say that the movie felt like straightforward 80s and 90s CIA espionage thrillers (especially those based off Tom Clancy’s books). The plot all in all is pretty generic, the story is fine but underdeveloped. The script itself has a lot of cliches, illogical situations and forced one liners that don’t really fit in here. There aren’t any interesting backstories, and the motives of the characters aren’t that compelling. It’s like a 90s action thriller with the notable fact that the mood throughout much of the plot of Without Remorse is sombre, so it’s not quite as entertaining as it could’ve been. Without Remorse is a revenge story for the main character, beyond that though, there isn’t much to the story as a whole. It has its twists, but nothing was compelling or surprising. The reveals are predictable especially one obvious reveal in the third act. It really is just a simple, predictable espionage thriller, but that might be enough for you. It is tightly paced enough, and while the runtime doesn’t give enough development to the plot (though even with its hour and 50 minutes it could’ve done more), it does make it a fairly easy if forgettable watch. Something to note is that in the mid credits there’s a scene which sets up a follow up for a sequel, with it continuing to follow the books of Tom Clancy presumably.

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There’s a pretty good cast involved overall. Michael B. Jordan is in the lead role and while I wouldn’t argue that it’s one of his best performances, he’s good as a soldier seeking revenge. He elevates much of the writing with his performance and is particularly great with the physicality in the action scenes. Without him I feel like the movie would’ve been much worse. A supporting cast which includes Jodie Turner Smith, Jamie Bell and Guy Pearce also work pretty well overall.

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Stefano Sollima is the director, and I was impressed with his work on Sicario 2. Here his work on Without Remorse is relatively decent and does the job. On a technical level it is solid, but it really shined most in the action sequences. There are some good action set pieces that are well shot and paced, and the chorography felt brutal. I wouldn’t say that they really make the movie, as entertaining as they are, they could’ve been a little more creative. But for what its worth, the action is among the better parts of the film.

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Without Remorse was pretty much what I expected it to be. It’s a pretty simple espionage action movie with a generic and familiar plot. However, what does make up for it are a pretty good cast including a strong lead performance in Michael B. Jordan, and some entertaining action scenes. It really does seem like they are working towards a sequel, and if it happens, I just hope that it is better than this movie was.

Creed 2 (2018) Review

Time: 130 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Michael B. Jordan as Adonis Creed
Sylvester Stallone as Rocky Balboa
Tessa Thompson as Bianca Taylor
Dolph Lundgren as Ivan Drago
Florian Munteanu as Viktor Drago
Phylicia Rashad as Mary Anne Creed
Director: Steven Caple Jr.

In 1985, Russian boxer Ivan Drago (Dolph Lungren) killed former U.S. champion Apollo Creed in a tragic match that stunned the world. Against the wishes of trainer Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone), Apollo’s son Adonis Johnson (Michael B. Jordan) accepts a challenge from Drago’s son (Florian Munteanu) — another dangerous fighter. Under guidance from Rocky, Adonis trains for the showdown of his life — a date with destiny that soon becomes his obsession. Now, Johnson and Balboa must confront their shared legacy as the past comes back to haunt each man.

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While I’m not a huge fan of the Rocky series (I’ve only seen the original film), Creed was one of my favourite films of 2015. The idea of a sequel to Creed, a movie that seemed to be a good sendoff for the Rocky series, but also being done without writer/director Ryan Coogler, seemed like a recipe for disaster. Also it’s bringing back a classic Rocky antagonist, Ivan Drago, and it just seemed really forced and cliched and looked like it wouldn’t really work. Creed 2 however turned out to be a real surprise.

Creed 2’s story admittedly isn’t the most unpredictable. Not that everything in the trailer is all that’s in the movie, but when watching the movie, you can get the idea of the direction the story will take and what things will happen. Not that this is a big negative against the movie, it’s just not as surprising as maybe the first Creed. Also, the Rocky series is very formulaic, so it’s a given that it would follow similar story beats. Without spoiling anything, structurally this movie is a bit different from what you’d expect based off the plot summary. On paper the idea of the plot sounds incredibly silly, but like the first Creed movie, they actually take the story very seriously and it works. This is probably the darkest of the Rocky series. The third act is so incredibly satisfying, with an ending which would be perfect for the entire Rocky/Creed series. The movie is 2 hours and 10 minutes and you can feel the runtime and some of the pacing was a little slower, but I was still invested in what was going on.

Michael B. Jordan is once again great as Adonis Creed, this is even more his movie than the previous Creed with the whole movie pretty much surrounding him rather than him and Rocky. He’s really convincing both in the dramatic side as well as on the physical side. Sylvester Stallone is also good as Rocky. Whereas in Creed where Rocky was a really present supporting character with a big storyline, here he’s even more of a supporting player but he’s still quite involved with the movie. Rocky Balboa is still Stallone’s best role and he gives yet another great performance as him. One of the highlights of Creed was Tessa Thompson as Bianca Taylor, Adonis’s girlfriend. Thompson made Bianca more than just the protagonist’s love interest and that continues into Creed 2, with their relationship playing a big part in the story. The chemistry between Jordan and Thompson is also once again great and feels really believable and genuine. The biggest surprise is of Dolph Lungren as Ivan Drago (again I should mention that I never saw Rocky 4), who gives a great performance. The film took a really cheesy character from Rocky 4 that was pretty much an 80s Russian villain and made him into a real fleshed out human being. The movie surprisingly gives some time focussing on Drago and his son Viktor (played by Florian Munteanu) and that really benefited the movie. Florian is a real boxer and that could’ve been either been good or bad, as being a good boxer isn’t guaranteeing that they are good at acting. Even though he doesn’t have many lines, he really works in the role and is imposing as this beast of a boxer, but he’s also someone you can sympathise with given what’s happening with him and how he’s been brought up. There are also some parallels between Rocky and Adonis, as well as Ivan and Viktor. I actually would’ve liked to have seen more scenes between Ivan and Viktor.

One of the biggest concerns of Creed 2 I had was the lack of Ryan Coogler being involved. His direction of Creed was fantastic and added a lot to it, and so I wasn’t sure how a different director would handle the sequel. While Steven Caple Jr.’s direction isn’t quite at Coogler’s level, it’s still rather solid and all around really worked. There isn’t as much fighting as you’d think there’d be, but the fight scenes that we get are really great. It doesn’t quite reach the levels of the first main fight in Creed with the tracking shot, but they’re all great. It all feels real tense, you feel every blow that’s dealt to Adonis. The last fight in particular was really great, and was captivating, cathartic and really satisfying.

Creed 2 is surprisingly great. It doesn’t quite reach the levels of greatness of the first Creed but it’s a very solid movie, very satisfying and well made, and also a perfect ending to the Rocky/Creed series. I heard that there may be like a Drago movie and while I’d be on board with that, I hope that the Rocky/Creed series ends here, because I can’t think of a better ending to the series than this. If you like Creed or the other Rocky movies, I’m pretty sure you’re going to like Creed 2 as well.

Black Panther (2018) Review

Time: 134 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa/Black Panther
Michael B. Jordan as Erik “Killmonger” Stevens
Lupita Nyong’o as Nakia
Danai Gurira as Okoye
Martin Freeman as Everett K. Ross
Daniel Kaluuya as W’Kabi
Letitia Wright as Shuri
Winston Duke as M’Baku
Angela Bassett as Ramonda
Forest Whitaker as Zuri
Andy Serkis as Ulysses Klaue
Director: Ryan Coogler

After the death of his father, T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) returns home to the African nation of Wakanda to take his rightful place as king. When a powerful enemy suddenly reappears, T’Challa’s mettle as king — and as Black Panther — gets tested when he’s drawn into a conflict that puts the fate of Wakanda and the entire world at risk. Faced with treachery and danger, the young king must rally his allies and release the full power of Black Panther to defeat his foes and secure the safety of his people.

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Black Panther was one of my most anticipated films of 2018. Not only was it a Marvel movie and one focussing on Black Panther (who became one of my favourite MCU characters after Civil War) and not only does it have a fantastic cast, Ryan Coogler directed it. Coogler had already established himself as a director to pay attention to after Fruitvale Station and Creed, so naturally I was excited to see him work on a comic book movie. Black Panther definitely had the potential to be one of the best MCU films and having seen it, I can say that it didn’t disappoint.

Black Panther is yet another Marvel comic book movie and there are aspects of it that feel like a Marvel movie but yet it feels quite fresh and new. After the first few scenes, I was riveted with Black Panther through to the very end. The characters were really memorable and established very well. The themes explored in the movie was really effective and the social commentary was applied well and didn’t feel forced at all, they were very well integrated into the story. The MCU often had a problem with its humour, but Black Panther’s was effective for the most part and most importantly didn’t kill any dramatic or emotional moment just for a joke. Black Panther also doesn’t feel like it’s too connected to the rest of the MCU, there are character’s like Martin Freeman’s Ross and Andy Serkis’s Klaue who were in other Marvel movies and there may be a brief reference to the MCU but on the whole it’s standalone. On another note, there are a couple of post credit scenes, I liked them both but the first of them really should’ve been part of the actual movie itself. I’ve noticed that recent MCU movies such as Thor Ragnarok and Captain America Civil War have post credit scenes which don’t just tease the future movies but are also important to the actual movie itself, so when these scenes are placed after the credits it feels like they just didn’t know where to put the scene. I just wished that they would handle these scenes better.

The characters in Black Panther are great and Coogler has a fantastic cast playing them. Chadwick Boseman is once again great as T’Challa/Black Panther. T’Challa is quite a different character compared to the other MCU heroes, he is more serious and isn’t a constant humorous quipper like some of the more recent characters like Ant Man, but he does have moments of levity. More importantly though, he is a king and so it feels very fresh and new watching this type of character in the lead role. With his solo movie, T’Challa once again shows himself to be one of the best characters in the MCU and Boseman again killed it. The supporting cast with Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Letitia Wright, Martin Freeman, Forest Whitaker, Angela Bassett and others do quite well, Letitia Wright was particularly a stand out as T’Challa’s sister. It’s common for Marvel villains to not be that great, every so often you’ll have a Loki or a Vulture but on the whole, they just end up being passable. Thankfully, not only is Michael B. Jordan’s Erik Killmonger great, he is one of the best villains in this cinematic universe. He is very well established and written and you can really understand why he does the things he does and maybe even agree with his views, even if you don’t agree with his methods. Aside from an early scene though, he’s mostly just in the second half of the movie, however he absolutely steals every scene he’s in. The other villain is Andy Serkis as Klaue (who was established in Avengers Age of Ultron in a rare motion-capture-less role) and he is very entertaining when he’s on screen.

Ryan Coogler once again shows himself to be a really great director. The action scenes were great, very well shot and choregraphed. Coogler also portrayed the fictional country of Wakanda greatly, from the production design to the costume design, everything feels different from anything you’ve seen. There are some truly great cinematography at times. The music was also really good, one of the more memorable score of the MCU movies. There were some action sequences that took place at night that were difficult to see and the CG as times looked a little fake, especially with some of the big action sequences, however they aren’t close to being the worse CG ever. Despite these aspects, most of the direction was great.

Black Panther was really great and surpassed my expectations. Yes it’s entertaining and watching the action sequences are enjoyable but it’s really the story and characters that stood out the most to me. It separated itself from other Marvel and comic book movies and is really something special. I don’t know yet if I’d call it the best MCU movie but it’s at least in the top 2, and after many movies since Captain America The Winter Soldier, that’s saying a lot.

Fantastic Four (2015) Review

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Fantastic Four (2015)

Time: 100 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Miles Teller as Reed Richards/Mr. Fantastic
Michael B. Jordan as Johnny Storm/The Human Torch
Kate Mara as Susan “Sue” Storm/The Invisible Woman
Jamie Bell as Ben Grimm/The Thing
Toby Kebbell as Victor von Doom/Doctor Doom
Reg E. Cathey as Dr. Franklin Storm
Tim Blake Nelson as Dr. Harvey Allen
Director: Josh Trank

Transported to an alternate universe, four young outsiders gain superhuman powers as they alter their physical form in shocking ways. Reed Richards (Miles Teller) becomes Mr. Fantastic, able to stretch and twist his body at will, while pal Ben Grimm (Jamie Bell) gains immense strength as the Thing. Johnny Storm (Michael B. Jordan) becomes the Human Torch, able to control and project fire, while his sister Sue (Kate Mara) becomes the Invisible Woman. Together, the team must harness their new abilities to prevent Doctor Doom (Toby Kebbell) from destroying the Earth.

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Ever since its release, Fant4stic has received worldwide criticism, making only half of its budget back and having a 10% on rotten Tomatoes, there’s also been news of Fox interfering with the movie during filming. I will say that I don’t hate this movie but I don’t think it’s good either. It is an interesting take on the Fantastic Four with great actors and good ideas. However it is let down by a slow pace, obvious reshoots and a horrendous final act.

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This movie is a different take on the Fantastic Four, it aims to be much darker, grittier and more of a Science Fiction film, with elements of horror which I can give credit for. The main problem of the movie is that there is not much of the four doing anything in this movie, it takes a long time before they even get their powers. The film feels like it’s trying to build its world but forgets to be its own movie. The best two scenes of the movie is when they are on Planet Zero and when they discover their powers, it actually seemed like Sci-Fi horror. The second act doesn’t have much going on, and feels extended for no reason. The final act though is one of the worst climaxes I’ve seen in any movie. Doom pretty much returns to earth to destroy it (because why not?) and despite how powerful Doom is made out to be, the final fight with him (which is also their only fight) is about 5 minutes long (even though he has the ability to kill people just by looking at them). It breaks the slow tone that the rest of the film was going for and feels rushed, probably a reshoot as well.

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The acting was decent but it’s pretty clear that these actors are underused and don’t have much to work with. The worst part was that Marvel’s first family didn’t really feel like a family, most of them only bond in the first act, and then are reunited to fight Doom. Toby Kebbell was wasted as Doom, he was decent in the first act but he’s only the villain in the last act of the movie and was completely underdeveloped. I couldn’t even tell it Kebbell was playing Doom in those latter scenes.

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The special effects are fine for the most part but there are many times where it’s quite obvious that green screen was used, especially when in ‘Planet Zero’. I also think that The Thing’s design was much better than the 2005 version but again, the CGI at times looks fake. There are many scenes where it’s pretty obvious that there have been reshoots, whether it be Kate Mara occasionally wearing a fake wig or Miles Teller having disappearing and reappearing facial hair.

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Fant4stic has many flaws but it’s not the worst superhero movie I’ve seen. The acting was decent, there was some good ideas but a lot of it was wasted and did nothing with it. It culminated in the worst final act of a superhero movie that I’ve seen and the movie is overall a massive disappointment. It is worse than the 2005 Fantastic Four because it least had the four acting like a team and the tone fitted much better. I’ll have to see Rise of the Silver Surfer to see if it’s the worst Fantastic Four but in any case, Fant4stic was a let-down, I’ve still seen worse from 2015 though.

Creed (2015) Review

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Creed

Time: 133 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence and Offensive Language
Cast:
Michael B. Jordan as Adonis “Donnie” Johnson Creed
Sylvester Stallone as Robert “Rocky” Balboa, Sr.
Tessa Thompson as Bianca
Phylicia Rashad as Mary Anne Creed
Wood Harris as Tony “Little Duke” Evers
Tony Bellew as “Pretty” Ricky Conlan
Director: Ryan Coogler

Adonis Johnson (Michael B. Jordan) is the son of the famous boxing champion Apollo Creed, who died in a boxing match in Rocky IV. Adonis wasn’t born until after his father’s death and wants to follow his father’s footsteps in boxing. He seeks a mentor who is the former heavyweight boxing champion and former friend of Apollo Creed, the retired Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone). Rocky eventually agrees to mentor Adonis. With Rocky’s help they hope to get a title job to face even deadlier opponents than his father. But whether he is a true fighter remains to be seen….

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I haven’t watched many of the Rocky movies, I only really watched the first one; so although I was interested in seeing this movie for stars Michael B. Jordan and returning Rocky actor Sylvester Stallone as well as director Ryan Coogler, Creed wasn’t something that I couldn’t wait to see until I heard tremendous acclaim. Everyone is saying that this is the best Rocky film since the original, as I haven’t seen any of the other films I can’t attest to that, but I’m sure that’s the case. However calling Creed a Rocky movie or a boxing movie for that matter, is cutting it short in how incredible it is.

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Ryan Coogler was an interesting choice as director for a Rocky film, seeing as how he only did one film beforehand but as I said earlier, calling Creed a Rocky movie is cutting it short. He did an excellent job with this film. First of all the writing and dialogue is spectacular. I really liked the character of Adonis, he was going through a journey similar but different from Rocky. One thing I like about this is that Adonis is trying to make his own mark on the world without riding the coattails of his father’s name while this movie fights to make its own place in cinema without riding the coattails of the Rocky name. This is what I’m hoping Star Wars: The Force Awakens does, to be great as the previous movies but at the same time is its own thing as well. I also like how you don’t have to have watched the previous Rocky movies or any boxing movies in order to love it like I did.

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Michael B. Jordan shows once again that he is a great actor. He sells both the physical and emotional aspects and this might be his best performance to date. Another person that should be mentioned is Sylvester Stallone. He is absolutely incredible in this movie, I don’t know the last time I’ve seen him give a performance this good. I actually think it’s possible to be nominated (and perhaps win) for best supporting actor, I don’t usually think of these sorts of things but he’s that good.

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The scenes were incredibly well shot, all the environments look dark and real and this really added to the tone of the film. There aren’t many boxing scenes in this movie but when it’s there, it puts you right in the middle of the action. There are many highlights, the end fight was good but the fight I personally thought was the best was the one previously where I swear, all of it is done in one shot. I don’t know if there was any camera tricks used but it looked authentic and real and even if it wasn’t done in one shot, it’s incredible that they made it look like it.

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Creed is hands down one of the best films of the year. The real performances from Michael B. Jordan and Sylvester Stallone as well as the great story by Ryan Coogler, makes it an unforgettable experience. Even if you aren’t a big Rocky fan or a big fan of boxing movies, you should check it out as soon as possible. I don’t know if there are going to be any more Creed movies but if there is, I’m definitely looking forward to them, Jordan, Stallone and Coogler have made an amazing movie and one of the best of 2015 for sure.