Tag Archives: Terrence Howard

Crash (2005) Review

Time: 112 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Contains violence and offensive language
Cast:
Sandra Bullock as Jean Cabot
Don Cheadle as Det. Graham Waters
Matt Dillon as Sgt. John Ryan
Jennifer Esposito as Ria
Brendan Fraser as D.A. Rick Cabot
Terrence Howard as Cameron Thayer
Ludacris as Anthony
Thandie Newton as Christine Thayer
Michael Peña as Daniel Ruiz
Ryan Phillippe as Officer Tom Hansen
Larenz Tate as Peter Waters
Director: Paul Haggis

Writer-director Paul Haggis interweaves several connected stories about race, class, family and gender in Los Angeles in the aftermath of 9/11. Characters include a district attorney (Brendan Fraser) and his casually prejudiced wife (Sandra Bullock), dating police detectives Graham (Don Cheadle) and Ria (Jennifer Esposito), a victimized Middle Eastern store owner and a wealthy African-American couple (Terrence Dashon Howard, Thandie Newton) humiliated by a racist traffic cop (Matt Dillon).

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I had been meaning to do a review for Crash for a while. I remember hearing about the movie for the longest time, mainly with it being widely considered the worst pick for Best Picture at the Academy Awards and I had always wondered what about it sparked such a negative reaction outside of it beating out Brokeback Mountain. Having seen it, I can understand why it’s been receiving so much hate, and I have to say that it’s pretty well deserving of it. It’s more than that it’s just a somewhat okay movie that got more praise that it deserved, at best it’s well intended but clunky, at worst it’s horribly misguided and borderline offensive.

Crash is one of those award movies where a bunch of characters’ plotlines are all mixed together and crossover at different points. While there are some coincidences that I bought, other moments felt so ludicrous that it was hard to take things seriously (and the rest of the movie didn’t help that much). Most of the plotlines weren’t that particularly interesting, and the ones that were tended to be because the acting was great or something along those lines. Crash is very questionable in how it takes on racism, it’s very blatant and has no subtlety at all. Now it isn’t required to be subtle, but when it handles the topic poorly, the ham fisted feel to it make it feel worse. People don’t act like normal people, if they’re not stereotypes, they’re random characters meant to deliver a message through random character changes. I’ll use Sandra Bullock’s ‘arc’ as an example, she nearly gets robbed, which leads to her being racist against her caretakers, then she falls down some stairs, then the caretakers help her, leading to her not being racist (not even kidding, that’s her role in this movie). There are some admittedly pretty good individual scenes. For example, there’s a payoff scene between Matt Dillon and Thandie Newton which when seen out of context is great. However, in the context of the film, it just feels gross (more on that later). Some of the plotlines have very mixed messages. I guess they are at least tried to be fair with their treatment of people by ethnicities, so they’re showing good and bad people in each ethnicities, except for Asian people for whatever reason, they aren’t particularly portrayed very well here to say the least. Crash is also very questionable in some of its plotlines and decisions. There are way too many plotlines and characters to recall, but one of which is about the racist traffic cop played by Matt Dillon, and I can’t convey how poor some of these messages are without revealing things, if you don’t want to know about it before watching the movie, then skip ahead to the next paragraph. Long story short, Dillon pulls over a couple (Thandie Newton and Terrence Howard, and molests Newton’s character. A few scenes later he responds to a car crash, and it happens to be Newton’s character, and he saves her from the car before it explodes, which I guess is supposed to be him redeeming himself by actually doing his job. Make of that how you will.

Crash has an unbelievably large and talented cast, with the likes of Sandra Bullock, Don Cheadle, Matt Dillon, Brendan Fraser, Terrence Howard, Ludacris, Thandie Newton, Michael Pena, William Ficthner and many others all involved. The cast is by far the best part of the movie, most of whom deliver decent performances. The problem is that many of the characters don’t feel like real people, some of them being cartoonish, others being rather unlikable. Matt Dillon for example is pretty good in his role but it’s hard to think highly of his performance considering how the movie treats him, going from one end of the spectrum to the other, with very little time to actually show his ‘change’.

The direction by Paul Haggis is fine, nothing special. It’s shot well, edited well, the music was fine enough, there’s not much to really say about that honestly.

I found this movie personally really bad on its own, but even if you don’t compare it to Brokeback Mountain, I’m not sure how it got nominated for anything. There are a few scenes that are pretty good and some of the actors are able to give some good performances but that’s it. None of the characters feel like real people, the attempts of taking on racism is misguided at best, offensive at worst, and the end result is just. I won’t say not to watch it, I know that some people still like Crash, and you might end up liking it. Check it out for yourself and make up your own mind on it.

 

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.

Iron Man (2008) Review

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Iron Man

Time: 126 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man
Terrence Howard as Lt. Colonel James “Rhodey” Rhodes
Jeff Bridges as Obadiah Stane
Shaun Toub as Yinsen
Gwyneth Paltrow as Virginia “Pepper” Potts
Director: Jon Favreau

A billionaire industrialist and genius inventor, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), is conducting weapons tests overseas, but terrorists kidnap him to force him to build a devastating weapon. Instead, he builds an armoured suit and upends his captors. Returning to America, Stark refines the suit and uses it to combat crime and terrorism.

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Iron Man was in development for a while and a lot of people didn’t know what to expect. It was based on a lesser known comic book character and starred Robert Downey Jr in the lead role, who was in the middle of a comeback after his personal problems. This was the movie that started off the Marvel Cinematic Universe and relaunched Robert Downey Jr’s career. Iron Man is definitely in the top 5 best Marvel movies for me, it had great action, excellent acting and quite an impressive story.

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One of the risks that this movie took is that it wasn’t based on a well-known superhero like Batman, Superman, Spiderman or Wolverine. Iron Man was an unknown character, or was at least an unknown character for the casual superhero film fan at the time. This film is an origin story for Iron Man and it was really set up well, it did actually give real reasons for Tony Stark to become Iron Man. Even though we know it is a movie, it made all this technology feel like all this is possible in some point in the future, which is something rare to see in a superhero film. The only weak point was the last act. I still enjoyed it and it isn’t bad by any means but it wasn’t as strong as the last two acts. For example when it came to that final act, Jeff Bridges turns from a decent villain to an over the top cliché villain, which was a little disappointing, seeing as how he was set up well. This movie actually knew that it was going to eventually lead to The Avengers, as evident by the post credit scene, which to this date is one of the best post credit scenes in a movie.

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Robert Downey Jr is Iron Man, he absolutely owns this role. He’s a lot of fun to watch but he also does convey the inner feelings of Tony Stark. Without him this movie would still be fine but it would not be as great as it is, he really made this movie. I also liked Gwyneth Paltrow in this movie, she and Downey Jr played off really well off each other and have good chemistry with each other. A lot of people thought that Terrence Howard was miscast and although he does a fine job, it doesn’t feel like he’s the best person suited to it, especially when compared to the recasting with Don Cheadle. I thought that Jeff Bridges made for a decent villain, even though he wasn’t fully developed he is a lot better than most of the villains in the MCU.

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The action scenes looked great, all of the action in the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies look great. The CGI also really worked for the film, and the best part is that it looked like Iron Man was really there doing all these things and it doesn’t once look fake. The action also had a lot of grit to it and really helped it look like it could actually happen in the future.

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Iron Man is one of the best films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and that’s impressive considering that it was the film that started everything off for The Avengers. The story, the action and the acting especially from its main lead makes it truly a great movie. Its last act may not be very strong but the movie is worth watching for its first two acts alone. It’s worth noting that 2008 was also the year that The Dark Knight was released, that year established that great comic book movies were no longer the exception, they were now the norm.