Tag Archive: Action

Movie Review: The Town

R (for violence, language and sexual content), Warner Bros, 123 minutes.

Written and Directed by Ben Affleck. Starring: Ben Affleck, Jeremy Renner, Blake Lively, Jon Hamm, Chris Cooper, Pete Postlethwaite.

The Town is Ben Affleck’s 2nd directional effort (after 2007s Gone Baby Gone) and is an impressive piece of work. This film could have easily been just another run of the mill crime thriller but it is given a boost by a smarter script than usual and exciting action sequences that keep you on the edge of your seat. My only real complaint is that I felt it a bit too long and thus moved at a slower pace than I would have preferred.

The film is about four men — Doug MacRay (Ben Affleck in good form here), his best friend; Jem Coughlin (a brilliant Jeremy Renner), Gloansy, (Slaine) and Dez Elden (Owen Burke) from the tough streets of Charlestown Massachusetts who rob banks for a living.

The film opens with a bank heist where after a silent alarm is triggered, they take the bank manager Claire Heesey, (Rebecca Hall) hostage, Once they have escaped they let her go only to find that she lives in their same neighborhood. Fearing the cops may get to them through her Jem wants to take her out so Doug says he will handle it himself. Instead of doing this he befriends Claire and they soon begin a relationship.

In the meantime, FBI Agent Adam Frawley (Jon Hamm) is in charge of the case and soon finds out that they all work for a crook called Fergie (Pete Postlethwaite).  Agent Frawley is then in hot pursuit of the gang as they continue to rob banks.

Chris Cooper is grossly underused in this film, playing Doug’s father who is locked away in jail. His scene is literally a few minutes long.

Blake Lively was surprisingly good in her role as Krista Coughlin, the sister of Jem and ex girlfriend of Doug.

There is some very witty dialogue in the film and good performances from all, especially Jeremy Renner and Blake Lively as stated above.

The action sequence are very realistic and executed very well, which is again kudos to Ben Affleck’s directing. There is a particular scene where the gang are escaping a bank robbery dressed as Nun’s that is very thrilling and even has a hilarious finale to it.

This is a solid film, with good writing, good direction and good acting. An entertaining night out at the movies and a film that has me looking out for what Ben Affleck is going to do next. 3/5 stars.


Movie Review: Machete

R (for strong graphic violence, language and nudity), 20th  Century Fox, 105 minutes.

Written, produced and directed by Robert Rodriguez. Cast: Danny Trejo, Steven Segal, Jennifer Alba, Michelle Rodriguez, Lindsay Lohan, Jeff Fahey, Cheech Marin, Don Johnson and Robert De Niro.

Machete is an expansion of the fake trailer that was shown in the Grind House movies (Death Proof and Planet Terror) from Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino in 2007.

Machete continues the B movie and exploitation style from Grind House and boy oh boy, does Rodriguez have fun with it!

If there’s a lady out there that enjoys this movie then my hat is off to you. This is definitely an over the top macho movie primarily for a male audience that is much like the recently released Expendables–yet far more ridiculous and fun.

Danny Trejo stars in his first lead role as the title character which he also played in the Spy Kids franchise also directed by Rodriguez. Trejo has actually had roles in almost every film directed by Robert Rodriguez and he is perfectly cast here. He gives a silent yet deadly performance as Machete an ex-Federale who’s family was murdered by the Drug Lord Torrez, (played by Steven Segal who still knows how to wield a sword).

The film exploits extreme bloody violence and beautiful naked women with so much style, that you just have to be entertained and at the same time it even manages to give a political message about illegal immigrants coming into Amercia, which actually gets you thinking.

The basic plot here involves Machete being hired by a ruthless businessman called Michael Booth, (Jeff Fahey who is just as good here as he was in Planet Terror) to assassinate Senator John Mclaughlin, (Robert De Niro who just has fun with his role) a man with a major grudge against illegal immigrants crossing the border from Mexico. Machete soon finds he has been set up and gets caught up with Santana Rivera (Jessica Alba) a beautiful Immigrations Officer who is torn between enforcing the law and doing what is right and Luz, (Michelle Rodriguez) a taco-truck lady with a rebellious spirit and revolutionary heart.  Don Johnson shows up as Von Jackson a twisted border vigilante leading a small army but makes little use of his role.

Lindsay Lohan is actually fun to watch here in her supporting role as a socialite who becomes a Nun and has a penchant for guns.

I will not deny that Machete  is completely absurd. Yes, for the most part it is, but that is what makes it so wildly entertaining in the first place. Or at least, it was for me. I say: ladies stay away, (unless you like this sort of thing) and Men: flock in and crack open a beer.  3/5 stars

Movie Review: The Expendables

R (for strong violence and language), Lionsgate, 103 minutes.

Written and Directed by Sylvester Stallone. Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Mickey Rourke, Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Eric Roberts, Terry Crews, Randy Couture, Steve Austin.

What does the Expendables have going for it? Well first off, look at that cast. It’s any action movie lovers personal wet dream. Truth is several of those actors only show up in cameo roles, but who cares? They’re all together and its the first time we’ve seen something like this on the big screen of such magnitude.

The Expendables offers exactly what you expect. It is a testosterone soaked, high octane action-war film with non-stop explosions, blood and guts, macho speeches and fight sequences. Maybe it’s the giddy teenager in me, but I had a blast watching it.  Its a great tribute to all the blockbuster action films of the 1980s and 1990s that a lot of us grew up watching.

Honestly, the plot does not even matter in a film like this. But in a nutshell, it is about a group of elite mercenaries tasked with a mission to overthrow a Latin American dictator.  Barney Ross (Stallone) is the group leader. Lee Christmas (Statham) is the knives expert, Yin Yang (Li) is the martial arts expert, (although Jet li’s skills were a bit unused in this film, I thought), Gunner Jensen (Lundgren) is the Sniper, (and a delight to see on the big screen again), Hale Ceaser (Terry Crews) is the weapons specialist and Toll Road (Randy Couture), is their demolitions guy.

There’s a delicious cameo from the Governator himself and Bruce Willis, together with Sylvester Stallone. It’s all dialogue but it was actually reminiscent of that scene from “Heat” when De Niro and Pacino chat in the diner. Amongst all the action and intensity it was hands down the best scene in “Heat” and I felt the same way here.

Mickey Rourke is also a lot of fun playing Tool, a former member of The Expendables. He’s about the only one who brings any real acting chops to his character, which is why I guess he got that oscar nomination.

Eric Roberts also shows up as a corrupted ex-CIA agent called James Monroe who is involved with the corrupt dictator that they are bringing down. Many people forget that he had also starred in some hit action films from the early 1990s, (Best of the Best, anyone?)

The action sequences are well executed and there are some REALLY big guns involved too. The film throws in numerous fight sequences, numerous car chases and countless explosions. Again it all comes down to the one word that people want to see this film for in the first place: ACTION.

The Expendables delivers just that and in abundance. 3/5 stars

PG-13, Columbia Pictures, 107 Minutes.

Directed by Adam Mckay, Narrated by Ice T, Cast: Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, Samuel L Jackson, Eva Mendes, Michael Keaton, Steve Coogan.

The Other Guys is a ridiculous and over the top buddy-cop crime comedy that succeeds for that very reason. I won’t say it is particularly memorable, but it is definitely an entertaining night out at the movies.

The film starts off with Detective Danson (Dwayne Johnson) and Detective Highsmith (Samuel L Jackson) who are two hero cops that are highly respected and admired by all. In the opening sequence they are chasing a drug cartel and manage to leave a path of destruction behind them, before the criminals are caught.  They do things “their way”, but they get the job done.

Then there are the other guys. Allen Gamble (Will Ferrell) is a forensics accountant who prefers to stay behind his desk instead of getting any action on the street. His reluctant partner is Terry Hoitz (Mark Wahlberg), a detective who has been stuck with a desk job ever since he accidentally shot Derek Jeter during the 2003 World Series. Hoitz also has a tendency to shout out “i’m a peacock, you’ve got to let me fly” every now and then.

Gamble and Hoitz start to investigate a shady businessman by the name of Dave Ershon (Steve Coogan) and the deeper they get into the case,  the more they find themselves being kidnapped and shot at.

Gamble is married to his beautiful wife Sheila (Eva Mendes) who he only considers to be “plain” to the amazement of his partner. Mark Wahlberg overplays his character too much to the point where I got bored of it. I don’t find him that funny as a comic actor, but when he finally gets some action in this film is when he seems the most formidable as an actor.

Will Ferrell however, is definitely at his comedic best in this movie. Most of the films biggest laughs involve him. There is a good cop-bad cop scenario which is completely over the top but hysterical.  A backstory about his pimping days in college is also hilarious.  There is also random dialogue between Gamble and Hoitz throughout the film, most of which is completely non-sequiter which makes it even more comical.

Michael Keaton is also a lot of fun, playing their Captain Gene Mauch, who also has another job as the store manager at Bed Bath and Beyond. There’s a running joke with their Captain throughout the movie that involves the music group TLC, which I thought was very funny.

The Other Guys isn’t a movie that warrants repeat viewing, but it’s definitely a movie that will grab some laughs and is worth the watch. It’s also Will Ferrell back in shape at his comedic best.  2 /5 stars

PG-13, Universal Pictures, 112 mins.

Directed by Edgar Wright. Cast: Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Kieran Culkin, Chris Evans, Anna Kendrick, Brandon Routh, Jason Schwartzman.

Scott Pilgrim VS the world is an over the top, super cheese puff ball of a movie that plays like a computer game throughout the entire film. In fact only computer geeks will truly appreciate all the game references and I guess that makes me one of them.

I’m actually saying this as a compliment. The movie is dazzling and original and there is even some wit beneath all the corn.

Michael Cera plays Scott Pilgrim a 22 year old geek that plays bass with his band “Sex Bob-Omb” and still manages to be a kind of babe magnet. While I actually like Michael Cera, I do feel his characters are becoming stereotyped. That said, he does a good enough job that you are still rooting for him.

The movie takes off when Scott meets Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), who is literally the women of his dreams. In order to win Ramona over, Scott discovers that he must battle and defeat her seven evil exes who are out to kill him.  As ridiculous as they are, the fight sequences done to a computer game theme are actually very entertaining. References to Super Mario Bro’s, Pac-Man, Street Fighter etc are just plain fun.  Chris Evans gives an amusing appearance as Lucas Lee the 2nd evil ex as does Brandon Routh (yes that is Superman), as Todd Ingram the 3rd evil ex.  Jason Schwartzman plays Gideon the 7th evil ex and mastermind of the battle of the exes.

Other notable appearances are from Anna Kendrick who plays Scotts younger sister Stacey Pilgrim and Kieran Culkin in a stand out role as Scotts gay room-mate Wallace. It’s nice seeing the Culkin family represent! Where are those guys?!

Scott Pilgrim VS the world moves at the speed of texting so it keeps you entertained throughout. I had honestly not planned on seeing it as the preview looked too corny, but don’t let that dissuade you. This is a film that does not take itself seriously at all and that is its winning formula. Great fun. 4/5 stars

Movie Review: Salt

PG-13, Columbia Pictures, 100 minutes

Director: Philip Noyce, Cast: Angelina Jolie, Liev Schreiber, Chiwetol Ejiofor

I find it interesting that “Salt” was originally slotted for Tom Cruise to play the leading role in but when he opted out, the script was rewritten for Angelina Jolie. Nothing wrong with Jolie who does a fine job here, but it would have been a great flick for Cruise to have played and more enjoyable than Knight and Day for me, anyway.

Salt escapes the boundaries of being just another cheesy popcorn flick by good performances from the main characters as well as exciting action sequences that used little CGI (unlike Knight and Day).

Angelina Jolie is Evelyn Salt, a CIA Agent who at the beginning of the movie interrogates a Russian Defector named Orlov. He tells her of a plan called “Day X” where the Russians will launch a major attack against the US starting with the assassination of the Russian President who is in town to attend the funeral of the US Vice President. (The idea here is that the Russians will then retaliate on America or something). While the interrogation is underway an FBI Agent called Peabody (Chiwetol Ejiofor) and Salt’s boss and mentor Winter (a solid Liev Schreiber) are listening in. Orlov then tells Salt that the name of the Russian Sleeper Agent who will kill the President is called Evelyn Salt. She tells him that this is her name and he confirms that this means that she is a Russian Agent.

In fear of being wrongly accused, Salt then makes a dramatic escape and goes on the run to try and clear her name. Winter and Peabody are in hot pursuit of Salt , chasing her all across Washington DC. There are several thrilling chase sequences which keep you entertained as well as some plot twists, which although being quite predictable, were still entertaining.

There’s also plenty of close up shots of those sumptuous lips of Angelina Jolie’s which I have to admit, I could not keep my eyes off. That aside, Jolie definitely does prove again here that she is more than just a lavish sex machine. The lady can act and she plays her role well with both a touch of super cool and urgent desperation.

This is an effective Action/Thriller that was worth the visit to the Cinema and better than I had expected.  3/5 stars

Okay, so I kinda cheated on this one, but it was the only way I could actually complete this list!  Below is just raw unadulterated action and adventure–all within the realms of reality. I have done another category titled “Science Fiction/Fantasy” and that list  includes other  films that will definitely be considered as “action” also.

Phew! Okay, here goes nothing:

1. Die Hard (1988)

2. Bad Boys (1995)

3. Kick-Ass (2010)

4. The Dark Knight (2008)

5. Point Break (1991)

6. Top Gun (1986)

7. The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

8. Face/Off (1997)

9. Braveheart  (1995)

10. Gladiator (2000)

11. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

12. The Karate Kid (1984)

13. The Goonies (1984)

14. Speed (1994)

15. 300 (2007)

16. Lethal Weapon (1987)

17. Tombstone (1993)

18. Kung Fu Hustle (2004)

19. Leon (1994)

20. Desperado (1995)

21. Enter the Dragon (1973)

22. Wanted (2008)

23. Heat (1995)

24. Mission Impossible: 2 (2001)

25. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)

PG-13, 148 minutes

Warner Bros. Director: Christopher Nolan, Cast: Leonardo Dicaprio, Ellen Page, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tom Hardy, Ken Watanabe, Cillian Murphy and Marion Cotillard.

Inception is a mind bending roller-coaster of a movie that reminded me of the groundbreaking special effects and originality of The Matrix when it was first released in 1999. I won’t say that this is a better film but I will say that is a far more complex and intelligent one for sure.

A review after just one viewing of this film probably does not do it justice as this is a film that deserves to be watched over and over. What is clear is this: Leonardo Dicaprio plays Dom Cobb a thief-for-hire who has the ability to enter peoples minds and extract information from them while they are sleeping.  The opening sequence gives us a taste of this form of dream invasion and is a thrilling spectacle, yet it is just the tip of the iceberg for what is about to come.

Cobb is hired by a japanese businessman called Saito (Ken Watanabe) to break up a rivals business empire through the use of “inception”,  a very dangerous method of implanting an idea in the mind of another rather than just stealing it. Cobb just wants to go home to his kids but he agrees to do this as his last job, so he forms a dream team: Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) his regular “Point Man”,  Ariadne (a fantastic Ellen Page) the “Architect” who can design the world within the dream and Eedie (a stand out Tom Hardy), the “Forger” who has the ability to morph into other peoples identities in the dream world. Their target is Robert Fischer (Cillian Murphy, also a stand out here) , the son of the ailing energy tycoon that Saito is in conflict with.

What ensues is a breathtaking spectacle of special effects, mystery, suspense and non-stop action as they go deeper and deeper into one another’s subconscious. We see Ariadne folding a city onto itself just because she can. There’s also a fight sequence in mid air, involving Arthur and an attacker which is a direct shout out to The Matrix.

Inception can get a little hard to follow at times, but this only makes it more captivating to watch every scene as the film unfolds. To add even more complexity to the storyline, Cobb has a secret of his own concerning his beautiful and haunting wife (a chilling Marion Cotillard), who keeps showing up in his own subconscious mind while he is on the job and attempting to sabotage him. The reason why is just all part of the mystery.

Dicaprio delivers another solid performance here and is backed up by a terrific supporting cast. Michael Caine also has a small role as Cobbs father in law, but is under-used.

However, the real genius behind Inception is Christopher Nolan, who wrote the screenplay in addition to directing it. His breakthrough film, “Memento” was a head turning mystery which looks pale in comparison to the rich texture and complexity of Inception. This is a movie about the layering of dreams within dreams where you never really know what is reality and what is not and that is exactly where the film leaves you. In my opinion, this is the best movie of the year so far, hands down.  5/5 stars

Review: Knight & Day

PG-13  Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz, Paul Dano,  Peter Sarsgaard.

First of all, I have to say that I have been a huge fan of Tom Cruise since his first performance in TAPS. Yes, he has done some great action films (notably the Mission: Impossible franchise) but for me, where he really shines is when he takes on a more meatier role. Magnolia, Rain Man and Jerry Maguire are films where he just got to act his pants off and I think we need to see more of that again.

So with that said, there is nothing wrong with Knight and Day, but in my opinion it is also nothing that we have not seen before.

Tom Cruise plays a special agent who has gone rogue and who may also have a few screws loose. He “accidentally” bumps into Cameron Diaz at the airport, who plays a ditzy hot blonde on the way to her sisters wedding.

While on the plane they both engage in flirtatious banter and then before you know it Cruise is shooting up everyone on board while Diaz is fixing herself up in the bathroom. From here the movie pretty much continues a fast pace with Cruise and Diaz on the run from agents and arms dealers who are trying to get ahold of a nuclear device that Cruise has in safe keeping.

Paul Dano has a small supporting role which he does well as the young scientist (who developed the nuclear device) being protected by Cruise. Peter Sarsgaard plays a secret agent that used to be Cruise’s partner and is now trying to bring him in.

The film has a number of spectacular action sequences, the highlight being a motorcycle chase through the streets of Spain also involving a herd of Bulls. The film is also nicely shot with interesting camera angles from James Mangold (who directed Walk The Line) that caught my attention.

The chemistry between Cruise and Diaz is a winning factor and there is plenty of amusing dialogue between them.

As I said, the film is entertaining enough and a nice date movie. But I doubt it will stay with you for long.  I personally am longing for the film where Tom Cruise will finally win the Oscar that he has deserved for a long time.  2 /5 stars

PG-13 Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper, Sharpo Copley, Jessica Beil.

This is a remake of the hit TV show from the 1980s about a group of 4 american soldiers who are set up and wrongly charged for a crime that they did not commit. They escape from prison and form themselves into the “A team” for hire to solve any problem, at a price.

There is not really much of a plot to the film, the real fun is in the characters themselves and the outrageous action sequences which are almost non-stop.

Our heroes fight their way out of all kinds of scenarios while attempting to clear their name.  During the course of this, there are helicopter chases, a scene involving an army tank falling through the sky and plenty of large explosions.  You can almost see how much fun the director (Joe Carnahan who also directed Narc and Smoking Aces) is having behind the camera.

However, what really makes this a winner is the characters. Liam Neeson is perfectly cast as the rogue leader Hannibal. Bradley Cooper has all the cocky charm needed to take on Faceman. Quinton “Rampage” Jackson is certainly no Mr T, but he still plays a convincing BA Baracus. The real scene stealer here is Sharpo Copley as Murdoch, (who was brilliant in his debut as an actor in District 9).  He plays his role with such gleeful abandon that you cannot help but laugh. There is a particular sequence involving Murdoch and blue paint that was comic genius. I wish there had been more scenes like that.

Jessical Beil does not do much in a supporting role as the love interest of Faceman, but still remains a sight for sore eyes on screen. Patrick Wilson is also effective as a crafty CIA agent who help break the A team out of prison and has a pivotal role in the films plot.

I don’t know if we’ll see a sequel coming, but this is pure popcorn entertainment and the reason we go out to the movies in the first place. The movie does not take itself seriously at all and thats the exact reason I had so much fun with it.  3/5 stars