Tag Archives: Vince Vaughn

Dragged Across Concrete (2019) Review

Time: 159 Minutes
Cast:
Mel Gibson as Brett Ridgeman
Vince Vaughn as Anthony Lurasetti
Tory Kittles as Henry Johns
Michael Jai White as Biscuit
Jennifer Carpenter as Kelly Summer
Laurie Holden as Melanie Ridgeman
Fred Melamed as Mr. Edmington
Udo Kier as Friedrich
Thomas Kretschmann as Lorentz Vogelmann
Don Johnson as Chief Lt. Calvert
Director: S. Craig Zahler

DRAGGED ACROSS CONCRETE follows two police detectives (Mel Gibson and Vince Vaughn) who find themselves suspended when a video of their strong-arm tactics is leaked to the media. With little money and no options, the embittered policemen descend into the criminal underworld and find more than they wanted waiting in the shadows.

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I haven’t seen any of S. Craig Zahler’s other movies with Bone Tomahawk and Brawl in Cell Block 99, but I’ve definitely heard of them and have been meaning to get around to them for some time. I also heard about some controversial Mel Gibson and Vince Vaughn movie that was being made, and it turns out it’s this movie, didn’t learn until recently that Zahler actually directed it. I heard it was some crime drama, but beyond that and the cast involved, I didn’t really know much about it. Dragged Across Concrete like its title suggests is a grim crime thriller, written, directed and performed exceptionally, and it’s one of my favourites of 2019 thus far.

Dragged Across Concrete boasts a sharply great script from director S. Craig Zahler, from the slowly paced storytelling to the effective dialogue. As I start, I think I should address the elephant in the room, or at least one of them. Ever since the premise of Dragged Across Concrete has been announced, people had been declaring this a MAGA pandering and all around bigoted movie. Given my very apparent praise for this movie already, you could probably already tell that I don’t agree with this. Almost everyone in the movie is not what we’d call ‘a good person’, and definitely not the recently suspended main characters, who are looking for ‘compensation’ after abusing their power as police officers. Sure the movie doesn’t exactly tell you that what they are doing is bad, but it certainly doesn’t endorse the main characters’ actions either, it just shows what they are and give some insight why they’re doing them. The characters are fully developed, fleshed out and feel real, especially the lead characters. People are going to have different opinions about the majority of them, but generally I think we can all agree that they are flawed yet human, with their own lives to lead that we get to have a glimpse at. They are still in the grey area of morality as they have both good and bad aspects to them. Really the only flat out ‘pure evil’ characters in the film that aren’t shown to have any redeeming qualities whatsoever are the dangerous masked men led by Thomas Kretschmann who appear, create chaos and kill people excessively. We don’t really get to learn about these particular characters or why they are how they are, but they are quite intimidating when they are on screen. It is a very bleak movie, the world these characters inhabit just feels unpleasant, the tone borders on nihilism, and as I said many of the characters are hard to root for. It’s generally easy for me to watch these kinds of movies (in fact I kind of love watching them) but I do know that some will find this to be a tough watch. There is one character who’s introduced, and their purpose is ultimately used for shock value (no spoilers), and while people will be split on that, I thought it worked well for the movie. Dragged Across Concrete is quite long at 2 hours 40 minutes, so you really need to be prepared for that. Although I was invested for much of the movie, I feel like it could’ve been cut out a good 10-15 minutes. Much of the movie takes its time, but it feels purposeful and not necessarily self indulgent. It builds up the personality of the characters and the world that they inhabit. Despite some of the more slower pacing throughout, it all comes together at the end to conclude very well.

Mel Gibson and Vince Vaughn are the lead characters, and they were both great in their roles. Now this is Mel Gibson, and while there’s certainly going to be some people who have issues with him even in this movie (understandably), I almost feel like his casting here was a deliberate choice. Gibson generally delivers and this is no exception, this is one of his best performances, if not his best. Although I haven’t seen Vaughn’s other dramatic work like in True Detective or Brawl in Cell Block 99 (another Zahler film), I can say that he’s a great dramatic actor and he was really good here. Gibson and Vaughn are very easy to buy as two cops who have been partnered with each other for a while, and their dynamic was really great. The rest of the supporting cast further grounds the movie with Tory Kittles, Michael Jai White, Jennifer Carpenter, Laurie Holden, Don Johnson all doing well with their performances, no matter how brief they may be.

Again, this is the first movie I’m seeing from S. Craig Zahler, and I can say that he’s great at what he does, it’s a really great looking movie. I’ve heard that his other movies are considerably more violent, but he handles the violence well here. The violence flashes rather quickly on screen and doesn’t happen as much as you think it would be, but when it’s present it feels grisly and realistic, it’s not overplayed but the impact is still there nonetheless.

Dragged Across Concrete won’t work for everyone, it’s very long, it can be a hard watch, and it’s likely to provoke some people. However I thought that it was a generally well made movie, from the cast (particularly Gibson and Vaughn), to the direction and the story, it’s one of my favourite movies of 2019 thus far. I definitely want to see Zahler’s other movies now, he’s already proven with Dragged Across Concrete that he’s a really great filmmaker, and I’d love to see what he makes next.

Psycho (1998) Review

Time: 105 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Vince Vaughn as Norman Bates
Anne Heche as Marion Crane
Julianne Moore as Lila Crane
Viggo Mortensen as Sam Loomis
William H. Macy as Milton Arbogast
Director: Gus van Sant

Marion Crane (Anne Heche) steals a lot of cash from a man whom her boss is in business with. On the way to see her boyfriend (Viggo Mortensen), she stops off by an old motel, run by the odd Norman Bates (Vince Vaughn). She is murdered in the shower. Her sister (Julianne Moore), boyfriend, and a private investigator (William H. Macy) try to find out where she is, while we learn more about Norman Bates.

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Remakes of movies generally are a bad idea, remakes of classics are often a terrible idea. There really was no reason to remake Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, it was such an iconic film that changed film forever. With that said, when it comes to remakes, if they can find a way to make some change to make it stand out from the original, it could be something. I think one of the worst sins for a remake to do is to stay too close to the original, so that there was no point for said remake to happen in the first place. Gus van Sant’s Psycho did something worse however, it wasn’t just too close to the original, it was literally a shot by shot remake. Aside from some two good performances, this remake really has nothing to offer that the original didn’t already have.

This movie literally a shot by shot remake by Psycho. If you’ve seen the original, there’s nothing interesting you’ll find here. The only difference is that its done much more poorly. Honestly there’s really nothing to say about the writing, the structure and scene order is the same, the dialogue is the same, the characters are the same, it does absolutely nothing new with the material. Even a different portrayal on some of the characters would’ve been somewhat interesting but nothing like that is present.

Vince Vaughn despite most of his performances, is a talented actor and I respect him for going against type but he really didn’t work here as Norman Bates. While he certainly pulls off being crazy, there is no subtlety to his performance at all and just becomes laughable, especially when compared to Anthony Perkins’s performance in the original. Anne Heche plays Marion Crane and she’s not that great, to be fair to her all the direction she’s given is to pretty much just act like Janet Leigh in the original Psycho, so I don’t blame her or really anyone who acted in this movie. The best part about this movie is Julianne Moore and Viggo Mortensen, they were actually quite good in their roles, maybe even slightly better than the actors in the original. Other performances from actors like William H. Macy were fine but really nothing special.

Gus van Sant is a talented director but none of his talents shown in his other films are apparent here. Again, the entire film is just a recreation of the original movie and there’s nothing that great. It feels like a bunch of film students tried to recreate the original movie in colour instead of an established director. The original had some degree of tension, there is no tension whatsoever here. The recreations of some sequences like the shower killing sequence can be absolutely laughable at times because of how poorly done they were. The shower scene was particularly weird because during it, it was cutting to random things like clouds. Another thing worth noting is that this movie is in colour, this really took away from the tension. Ironically for the major issue of the movie being the lack of new creative decisions, the distinct changes from the original actually works against the remake.

There’s really no point in watching the remake of Psycho. The original is much better and the remake is pretty much just the original, just done poorly. Sometimes there can be some unintentional comedy with how poorly the recreations can be, and Viggo Mortensen and Julianne Moore were actually quite good in their roles (maybe even slightly better than the original) but that’s it. I guess if you’re curious enough check it out but you should watch the superior original film first, then again I don’t exactly know why you would want to watch the remake afterwards.

Hacksaw Ridge (2016) Review

Time: 139 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Depicts graphic & realistic war scenes.
Cast
Andrew Garfield as Desmond Doss
Vince Vaughn as Sergeant Howell
Sam Worthington as Captain Jack Glover
Luke Bracey as Smitty Ryker
Hugo Weaving as Tom Doss
Ryan Corr as Lieutenant Manville
Teresa Palmer as Dorothy Schutte
Director: Mel Gibson

The true story of Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield), the conscientious objector who, at the Battle of Okinawa, won the Medal of Honor for his incredible bravery and regard for his fellow soldiers. We see his upbringing and how this shaped his views, especially his religious view and anti-killing stance. We see Doss’s trials and tribulations after enlisting in the US Army and trying to become a medic. Finally, we see the hell on Earth that was Hacksaw Ridge.

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Hacksaw Ridge had sparked my curiosity and I first heard of it when it was gaining Oscar buzz and fortunately I managed to watch it before the 2017 Oscars. Overall it was a pretty good movie with its story, the performances (particularly from Andrew Garfield) and Mel Gibson’s direction. There are some cliché elements and it does get a little too over the top at times in certain aspects, but overall I think it’s a pretty solid movie.

The first act focussed on the protagonist Desmond Doss and him when he’s training to be a soldier and refuses to use a gun. The second half is the event at Hacksaw Ridge. Now at times this film does seem cliché in the way they decided to portray events and characters. For example, Vince Vaughn’s character is pretty much like R. Lee Ermey from Full Metal Jacket, without a whole lot of development (I know a lot of drill sergeants are like this but here it just comes across as being cartoony). Also the Japanese in this movie are represented as just generic enemy soldiers, nothing much more than that, it doesn’t necessarily make the movie worse but it’s just worth noting. I guess this movie was more about Desmond and his part in the war rather than about both sides on the war so it doesn’t bother me too much. It’s just a little noticeable. I myself am not sure how accurate this movie is to real events, so I can’t comment on that aspect. However aside from my issues with that I’d say that Hacksaw Ridge is pretty good overall. It is a long movie at 139 minutes but consistently it had my attention.

Andrew Garfield is great in his role here, this is one of his best performances. It’s easy to like and care about him, but it’s most importantly easy to understand why he makes the decisions that he does, and Garfield’s acting definitely helped with that. Teresa Palmer plays a nurse who Doss starts a relationship with, they were great together. The supporting cast is also good. Vince Vaughn is good, as I said earlier, his character is pretty one note but Vaughn does act his role well. Sam Worthington, also great in this movie, I think with this and Everest, I can say that Sam Worthington really works best in supporting roles. The supporting performance that steals the show however is Hugo Weaving, as Desmond’s father, it’s a really powerful performance and a stand out performance in a bunch of great performances.

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Mel Gibson is directing this movie and as you can probably guess, Hacksaw Ridge is very violent, I mean of course its because it’s a war movie but also because Mel Gibson is directing. All the battle scenes are viscious and brutal, it does ocassionally feel like it’s a little too violent, like a little too over the top. But overall the direction is great. It does really feel like it’s absolute chaos and really places you in the war. The soundtrack by Rupert Gregson-Williams was great.

Overall, I think Hacksaw Ridge is pretty good. The acting was great, the direction by Gibson was solid and I was invested in this story from start to finish. Not everything is perfect, there is definitely some issues I had in the way Gibson decided to tell the story. But for the most part, this movie does get a lot of things right.

Unfinished Business (2015) Review

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Unfinished Business

Time: 91 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Offensive Language, Sexual References, Nudity and Drug Use
Cast:
Vince Vaughn as Daniel “Dan” Trunkman
Tom Wilkinson as Timothy McWinters
Dave Franco as Mike Pancake
Sienna Miller as Charlene “Chuck” Portnoy
Nick Frost as Bill Whilmsley
James Marsden as Jim Spinch
Director: Ken Scott

Tired of playing second-fiddle to his obnoxious boss (Sienna Miller), businessman Dan Trunkman (Vince Vaughn) quits and forms his own competing mineral sales firm. He takes a retiring associate (Tom Wilkinson) and a dim-witted sales applicant (Dave Franco) with him. After a year and a half of struggle, a promising deal is in sight — then promptly folds, thanks to Dan’s ex-boss. Determined to save the deal, Dan and company fly to Germany, where a series of outrageous obstacles awaits.

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The two biggest sins that a comedy can commit is to be unfunny and boring. Unfinished Business is one of those films which unfortunately does both of them and this movie really was even worse than it should’ve been. Despite a talented cast and a good writer this movie fails on pretty much every level. It’s not funny, it’s not smart, so many jokes feel forced and almost every joke is so easy. There really isn’t any reason to watch this movie.

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As you could probably tell by now that the jokes didn’t work and weren’t funny at all. There were times where the jokes were so forced and at times cringe worthy. For example James Franco’s character’s last name is Pancake, that’s the level of comedy that this movie is at. It doesn’t help that some of the scenes and scenarios were created just to make a joke which as you can imagine, misses. Another bad aspect is that the whole film felt boring. The entire movie surrounded Vince Vaughn making some deal and that’s pretty much the whole movie, with countless scenes added and stretched out to pad the runtime so that it was at least 90 minutes. Also Unfinished Business felt like an unfinished film, there are scenes that don’t fit in with each other. For example this movie starts off with Vince Vaughn having an argument with his boss before leaving and it felt like there was supposed to be a scene beforehand, so from the get go the scenes in the movie starting feeling out of place. It’s hard to see how this movie had a script this bad from Steve Conrad, the writer of The Pursuit of Happiness.

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Vince Vaughn is really just playing Vince Vaughn again. He’s fine in the role (even though he doesn’t produce any forms of laughs) and actually comes out the best out of the main cast, that’s not saying a lot though. It’s not just Vince Vaughn who isn’t funny though, because Tom Wilkinson doesn’t give a good performance either, which is a real shame seeing as he’s one of the best actors we have working in the business today. Dave Franco is a good actor and can be good and very funny in movies like 21 Jump Street and Bad Neighbours. With that said, Dave Franco’s character in this movie is honestly one of the dumbest characters I’ve seen in a movie. I know he’s supposed to be stupid but it really wasn’t done right and it was a chore to watch his character do dumb things, making it even harder to watch the movie. All of these people are talented but none of them come out looking good on any level.

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The worst thing about this movie is that it’s really a time waster. This movie fails as a comedy, but it’s not like with Raising Arizona where I could just claim that it’s not my style for comedy. I don’t know what group of people would find this movie funny. Not one joke hit in the entire movie, for me it is one of the worst ‘comedies’ I’ve seen (though I haven’t seen Disaster Movie, nor do I ever want to). It wasted a good cast and there’s really no reason to watch it. Unfinished Business was one of the worst films of 2015.