Archive for the ‘Crime’ Category

dragnetI have a friend named Reed who is kind of a tool but also one of the most decent humans on the planet. When it comes to movies he and I disagree on a lot of things.  For example I enjoy movies made after 1980 and in general he believes cinema died after it.   One thing that I do that drives him nuts is when I say things like, “That movie is awful, but fun to watch so it’s good.” An example would but Hot Tub Time Machine.  I mention this because back when I saw this film in the 80’s I would have said the same thing about Dragnet, awful but fun to watch so it’s good.  I haven’t seen this movie since I sold my VHS copy of this to a pawn shop sometime in the 90’s, I decided to buy the three pack DVD set of Tom Hanks 80’s comedies on Amazon that included this film Dragnet, The Money Pit (which I already had so now I have 2, who wants one?,) and The ‘Burbs.  I bought it because it’s cheap and this month is our dedication to movies with the great Tom Hanks in them.  Well now that I am older and a little bit more grown up I have watched this film again and I no longer believe that it’s fun to watch so it’s mostly just bad now, which is sad.

Dragnet is a remake/homage to the 1950’s and 60’s classic TV show starring Jack Webb.  In the movie, his nephew Sargent Friday, played by Dan Aykroyd (Pearl Harbor,) and his new partner Pep Streebek, played by Tom Hanks (The Money Pit,) are investigating a string of robberies where the culprits leave calling card with the name PAGAN on it.  As they continue to investigate Friday and Streebek discover that the PAGAN group is not only interested in stealing cars but a far more nefarious goal that includes leaders of the religious community and the police department.

This movie doesn’t work because of its one main gag and that is it tries to satire a TV show that was silly to 1980’s audience but was treated as a serious police drama back in the 1950’s.  The writers of the movie, which include Aykroyd, took all of the mannerism of Jack Web as Joe Friday one step too far.  This can be seen when Aykroyd, as Friday, would do odd things like point to the obvious door in the building or repeat out loud what can easily be read or when reading off a law that was broken Friday would list all of the numbers with points.  But not just say Penal code 136.4 but Penal Code 145.876.2.4.1. Basically even though it seems that the TV show is ripe for mocking, the direction they went in this film was wrong.  You can’t treat the old TV show with awe and respect and turn around and mock it at the same time.

The only reason this movie is funny at all is because of Hanks.  He is the wise cracking funny man to Aykroyd’s straight man Friday.  There are many scenes that he makes tolerable and the best way to describe him in this film would be if you take his character from the movie Bachelor Party and turned him into a cop who is a smart guy who likes to have a good time that is witty and has great timing in delivering the comedy.  This movie also, in some way, was the beginning of the end as Dan Aykroyd being a bankable comedic actor. After this film he was in no real successful comedy that he was the star in.  He had some mild success in The Great Outdoors but that’s it.  He did much better in drama’s such as Driving Miss Daisy, and Chaplin.  This, too me, is kind of sad because he very much wanted this movie to succeed because he was a big fan of the TV show and it was a dream of his to make this movie.  But while his heart was willing his acting and writing made it impossible to like this film.


The ending is something that I used to love as a kid but now I look at it and ask myself what the hell was I thinking?  After the police had showed up to stop the mass gassing of the soft core porn owner, Jerry Caesar, played by Dabney Coleman (Wargames,) the mastermind of the whole plan, Reverend Whirley, played by Christopher Plummer (Syriana,) had escaped with his hostage and Friday’s love interest Connie Swail, played by Alexandra Paul (Christine,) and had made it to the airport and flew off in a private jet just as Friday and Streebek arrive.  So it looks like the reverend will make it to Mexico as the plane is flying south in daylight when he looks over and sees an F-15 fighter plane that belongs to the LAPD and Friday is sitting in the back looking at Whirley, shaking his head and pointing down as the old school Dragnet them plays in the background.  Now as a kid I loved this scenes just because I thought it was awesome that they had an F-15 and that they would blow them out of the sky if he didn’t land.  What can I say?  I was a dumb kid who loved the military.  But now I think why would Whirley concede and land at the airport because he should have known that as long as the hostage was in the airplane there is no way they would shoot it down.  Plus the reverend had escaped late at night/early morning but in the dark.  Los Angeles isn’t that far from Mexico so it seems odd that it was bright daylight when the F-15 caught up to the leer jet.  How is possible that he is not in Mexico at this point which would make him free?  I guess I should suspend my disbelief but Im old now at it gets harder and harder.

This is not a good movie.  Of all of the Tom Hanks films, I only have Joe Versus the Volcano as the film that has Hanks in it that is worse than Dragnet.  Although I hate A League of their Own so much that I would say it’s close to this one.  The movie didn’t work and is sad on many levels.  I will say I was nice to see Harry Morgan in the film reprising his role for the TV show, even in a minor capacity.  Rarely will I ever say that Reed is right when it comes to movies, however this is the one rare time he is right.  This is bad.  I would say skip this but there is no chance that this movie would come up on cable TV of any kind.  Unless they do a bad 80’s comedy marathon but why would they do that?

P.S.  I almost forgot, during the end credits you get to hear Tom Hanks and Dan Aykroyd rap to a 80’s rap song about the movie.  That may be the one reason to watch this movie just so you can hear that.


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infernoThe reason why I am not a professional movie review person…are they considered journalists or writers?  Anyway, the reason why I am not one of those is because if movies do certain things then I will like them no matter what.  For action/adventure movies if you throw in an actor I like, say Tom Hanks for example, and have most or the action take place in Europe, and have a hot female lead, and have the leads have to use their brains in solving a mystery, then I will like the film.  Well, all of these elements exist in this third Dan Brown novel turned into movie called Inferno.  I find this latest installment of the Robert Langdon series to be better than Angels & Demons done a few years ago but not as good as The DaVinci Code.

Professor Robert Langdon, once again played by Tom Hanks (Bridge of Spies,) wakes up in an Italian hospital with no memory of the past 48 hours.  A young British doctor named Sienna Brooks, played by Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything,) helps Langdon escape the hospital when an Italian police officer shows up to kill him.  As Langdon works to recover his memory with clues left to him by someone unknown that has him looking into the painting of Dante’s Inferno all the while being chased by two different groups from the World Health Organization and a third party trying to kill him.  As he pieces the puzzle together he discovers that an eccentric billionaire bio-engineer Bertrand Zobrist, played by Ben Foster (Warcraft,) who believes the world is doomed due to overpopulation, has developed a biological weapon that can wipe out the population of half of the planet.  Langdon has less than 24 hours to find the bomb and prevent those with Zobrist who wish to unleash the weapon on the planet.

I love Tom Hanks in almost any film but I really do like him as the Langdon character.  He is very believable as an intelligent caring genius with the ability to solve anything.  It always amazes me to see Hanks in these great rolls yet knowing that he started out in movies like Splash and Bachelor Party.  He and Harrison Ford and Denzel Washington are the great actors of my generation.  The rest of the cast are very enjoyable in their roles although I will say that I kept looking at Felicity Jones and Ben Foster and saying to myself, I have seen these two before.  Sure enough I look it up and Felicity, who has been nominated for an Academy Award for some movie I haven’t and probably will never see, is the lead in the new Star Wars: Rogue One movie that I have been dying to see since it was announced.  Ben Foster was just in the one of my favorite movies of the summer that no one saw unless they were Chinese, Warcraft.  Foster is great as the maniacal genius who thinks he can save the world by destroying it and Jones is good as the lead heroine helping Langdon solve the puzzle.

The story isn’t all that original since we have seen this twice before with Langdon using his knowledge of history and artifacts to solve riddles and save the world.  But I just love when writers use history in this way.  All of these movies as well as the last decent Nic Cage movie, National Treasure, just tickle me that they surround their stories with history and make it fun.  I wish there were more movies like this around.  I will say that there are is a twist in the film that deviates from the previous two films which is nice to see them liven things up plus I don’t know if its in the book this way but it was a nice change.  I won’t say what it is because I want you to see the film and not spoil it.  Not sure it is that much of a spoil but better to be safe than sorry.  I also am a fan of this story in that we get to see a little of Langdon’s personal history and meet the woman that he loved at one point in his life. The story actually is a little more complicated then I have talked about but I do not want to spoil anything in the movie.  None the less I’ll say that one of the two WHO teams may not be what it seems and the mystery company is stuck between helping and hurting the situation.  In this aspect, I believe the story to be a little more involved than in the previous two films and that is a good thing.  I think you will like these changes.  There is only one confusing element and that is the character of Ignacio who plays a seemingly important non-speaking role in the beginning but seems to all but disappear.  I think I remember why but when you watch the film see if it bothers you.

I am trying to think of what else to say that will convince you that you should add this to your theater going experience this year.  But I would think Tom Hanks doing Tom Hanks things as Professor Langdon in a wonderful county like Italy solving a mystery that involves digging into the history of Dante’s Inferno in order to save the world with a beautiful lady by his side should be enough to get you to the movie.  It was for me.

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murder1600As Benn Farrell movie review challenges go, this movie is easily in the top 5 better Benn Farrell movie review challenges.  Now that said, this is not a good movie but it isn’t so bad that I need to call Benn a tool or Douchebag or something like I normally would after watching his challenge.  That being said if you happen to see this on Netflix or Amazon Prime or Hulu, you don’t have to watch this movie unless there is nothing else on and you want to watch a poor Wesley Snipes film.

When a 25 year old female staff worker is found murdered in one of the white house bathrooms, Washington D.C. Detective Regis, played by Wesley Snipes (Expendables 3,) is assigned to try and solve the case despite the interference from almost everyone at the White House.  The one person who is trying to help is Secret Service Agent Nina Chance, played by the oddly hot for me Diane Lane (Man of Steel,) who seems to have important information at odd times.  Also helping not helping is National Security Advisor Jordan played by Alan Alda (Bridge of Spies,) Chief of White House Security Spikings, played by Daniel Benzali (A View to a Kill,) and the plethora of Secret Service agents all being led by Spikings.  Once Regis goes through the tedious process of discovering the ridiculous amounts of twists and turns he discovers the true reason for the murder and must race to the White House with Agent Chance to keep the President from resigning.

To start off on the reasons why I don’t like this movie I can start with casting.  I like Wesley Snipes and I can totally believe that he is a kickass detective.  What I can’t believe is that he is a son of a history teacher who not only studied all areas of Washington DC but faithfully recreated a diorama of not only Washington DC but the First Battle of Bull Run.  That just doesn’t work for Wesley Snipes.  Does it work Denzel Washington?  Absolutely.  But not Snipes.  Another person who is miscast is Diane Lane.  I think she is hot and she is smart but she is not athletic.  So her character, who is an Olympic Gold Medal winning marksman, doesn’t vibe with the thin but non athletic Lane.  It pains me to say this but as you watch her run and carry a gun you can tell that she isn’t athletic so for me it just doesn’t work.  IT was also weird to see Dennis Miller in a movie.  He of Saturday Night Live fame was a homicide detective and normally a partner to Regis.  His part was fairly small although he did successfully preform his red shirt duties of getting shot during the final acts action shoot out scene.  He does live to tell the tale though.  It’s not that he doesn’t belong but…it just was weird.

The story is both bad and good.  Good that it keeps me involved and I have to watch it to the very to see how its going to end but bad in that the story itself is somewhat ludicrous.  In what seems like a subplot to the movie, when this murder takes place at the White House, the US is involved with a confrontation with North Korea.  One of the US Nave surveillance planes flew over North Korean airspace and was shot down and the crew of the plane is being held hostage.  There is leaked footage of the US Airmen being tortured by the North Koreans.  Despite the fact that most Americans not to mention most of his staff want to go into North Korea and rescue the hostages, President Jack Neil, played by Ronny Cox (Beverly Hills Cop,) will not use any military action to get the hostages out.  This goes against the advice of NSA Jordan, his own Vice-President, and the Chairman of the Joint Chefs General Tulley, played by Harris Yulin (Clear and Present Danger.)  SPOILER ALERT: IF YOU PLAN ON SEEING THIS MOVIE AND WANT TO BE SURPRISED DON’T READ THIS NEXT SENTENCE. So NSA Jordan brings in someone to kill the young lady who is banging the President’s son.  He does this because he wants to blackmail President Neil into resigning so the Vice President can take over so they can attack the North Koreans to get the troops back.  So…yeah…that’s it.   There is also the problem that the plot goes from all things pointing to the son being guilty, then it becomes obvious that he isn’t guilty and Spikings is the main bad guy, but then he gets blown away and its determined that both Regis and Chance have no idea who it is but the magic video tapes can solve the mystery.  There are even more issues, including those security tapes, but I won’t bother talking about it.  You get the idea.  However, as the movie was rolling along I was intrigued to see the outcome of the movie because I was curious who was going to be the bad guy.  So, I give kudos for the writing to keep me interested enough in the movie to want me to get to the ending.  The ending just wasn’t good.

A thing that was odd about this film production is the trailer for the film.  I have it down below but if you watch you will see some of the worst dialogue for a movie you can imagine.  However, these God-awful lines and mini scenes do not show up in the movie.  So I wonder why on earth you would use these scenes to promote a film when they are nowhere near good enough to make the film.  It is really a strange choice because when I saw the trailer I was worried that Benn screwed me over by making me watch it but that wasn’t the case.  Really an odd choice by these people.

As a whole I would say pass on this movie if you see it on Netflix or wherever.  It is not a horrible movie but there are plenty of movies out there that are better.  As a rat bastard Benn Farrell movie review challenge goes it was decent to watch.  He isn’t a rat bastard for this challenge, only a minor douche.

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clearandpresentdangerThis movie is the third in the Tom Clancy based novels released in the late 80’s early 90’s and the second with Harrison Ford starring as main hero Jack Ryan.  Between this movie, the other Harrison Ford movie, Patriot Games, and the first one, The Hunt For Red October, Clear and Present Danger is the worst of the three movies but for this particular series that isn’t a bad thing.  This movie was fun and easy to follow and to watch.  In fact I seem to like it more now than when I watched it at the movie theater 20 years ago.  As much as I like this movie now the fact of the matter is that the thing I hated 20 years ago is still the thing I hate now, the ending blows.  Now that I am wiser I can say that I have a decent idea on how to end the film but it only would make the ending less sucky but not good.

In the third installment of Tom Clancy’s movies based around the character Jack Ryan, played by Harrison Ford (Star Wars,) Ryan has rejoined the CIA working for Deputy Director Admiral James Greer, played by James Earl Jones (Conan The Barbarian,) who has asked Ryan to investigate the murder of an American businessman on board a yacht in the Caribbean Sea.  Ryan discovers that the businessman is a close personal friend of President Bennett, played by Donald Moffat (The Thing,) and tells the President during a debriefing that his friend was laundering money for a Colombian Cartel.  Angry that his friend is murdered by the cartel, he unofficially authorizes his Chief of Staff James Cutter, played by Harris Yulin (Murder at 1600,) to have the CIA conduct a covert illegal paramilitary operation against the cartel.  Cutter asks the CIA Deputy Director of Operations Robert Ritter, played by Henry Czerny (Mission: Impossible,) to organize the operation and to also keep all information about the operation away from Ryan, who was promoted to Admiral Greer’s position as he is hospitalized with cancer.  As operations get underway under the leadership of former CIA agent John Clark, played by Willem Defoe (John Wick,) the Cartel leader Ernesto Escobar, played by Miguel Sandoval (Mrs. Winterbourne,) and his assistant Felix Cortez, played by Joaquim de Almeida (Behind Enemy Lines,) try to figure out who is involved.  When Cortez discovers that it is the US military he takes advantage of the situation to coerce Cutter to sacrifice the troops there and in exchange he will eliminate Escobar.

It’s funny every time that I saw the movie poster on Amazon Prime or Netflix I would frown because my memory of the movie is always negative.  I owned the VHS when I was younger but then I worked at the video store of the grocery store I worked it but then again I owned lots of movies because I got them cheap.  And yet I don’t know why I feel this way because when I started watching the film I was almost immediately engaged in the film.  The story jumps right into the meat of the plot in that the US President, angry over the death of his friend, wants to make the cartels pay for this action.  The writers do a great job of setting up the different levels of conflict between the multiple characters in the film and not just between the US and the cartels but also the conflict between Ritter and Ryan and how Ritter and Cutter try to keep Ryan from finding out about the military operation.  For 135 minutes the movie from a story point of view was great.  However, the movie is 141 minutes long, and the reason for the bad taste in my mouth when I think of this movie is the final five minutes.  As I have said I hate the ending of the movie.  See what happens is Ryan makes it back to the US from rescuing the remaining troops in Columbia and confronts the President about his actions and I was hoping for a smack down on him.  I wanted Ryan to leave that office with the President knowing that he was not only wrong but a broken man for what he did.  That didn’t happen.  It was a very tame and Ryan was very respectful in telling the President he was screwed.  It just left me sad.  Then we get to the part that really pisses me off.  I haven’t read the book but if the book ends the same why I would be pissed as well.  What happens in the movie is that after the non-confrontation confrontation with the President, the film goes to Ryan walking into a room full of press as he is about to give his testimony to the Congressional committee and after he takes the oath, Ryan sits down and the credits roll.  That is the end of the film.  For me that is a horrible way to end the film.  I know we know the story of what he is going to tell the committee but just having the credits roll just was just a killer of what had been an exciting movie.  It gave me the impression that everything the President had told Ryan during their confrontation (he said that Ryan would take the bulk of the blame and the rest of it would fall on Adm. Greer) was actually going to happen.  That pisses me off.  When I first saw this movie I had no idea how to end it without watching some testimony which would have taken to long.  What the director should have done is while the scene fades out to have it written out what happened after the meeting so at least we know.  But the movie fades to end credits and we don’t know what happens and that just ruins the rest of the movie.  As I write this I am actually getting upset that this ending ruins this movie.  Moving on.

As I said before I enjoyed the story up to the ending.  I am surprised by this because being a child of the 80’s and the Cold War my movie bad guys should always be those bastard Communists but in the early and mid 90’s our spy heroes were fighting drug cartels because the Communists bastards had lost the Cold War.  So I usually don’t enjoy movies where the bad guys are drug cartels.  But this movie works because even though the bad guy is the drug cartel it is more the President and his team running the illegal war.  The other thing that I liked about the story is that it kept me engaged even though you knew who the bad guys were and basically we were along for the ride that was watching Ryan figure out who is doing what to who and when.  To me it is impressive when you are watching a detective movie when you know the answer and you are left watching the good guy solve the puzzle and it is still entertaining.

The action was good as well even though I feel that his movie has the least amount of action of the three movies.  The best action scene in the movie is when the drug lord’s lieutenant sets a trap to kill Director of the FBI, who is visiting Bogata Colombia, while Ryan is there doing research.  The entire action see is very nice and very intense.  It’s funny in that I said the action was good but for the most part there isn’t a lot of action its’ just very intense for what little there is.  I will give this an asterisk however in that I would have like to see Ryan kill the Cortez because to me that is the rule that the main bad guy get killed by the good guy but he was busy escaping so the killing was left to one of the remaining soldiers.  I guess its ok that the soldier gets some revenge but it still breaks one of my rules but I can live with it.


I can talk about how awesome Harrison Ford is but lets face it, he is Harrison Ford so he is always awesome.  But I enjoyed the entire cast and thought there were no real weaknesses in it.  I thought that of the rest Henry Czerny as Ritter was the best.  He does a good political/government guy in general be it good or bad.  To see a good version watch Mission: Impossible.  Also want to give a shout out to James Earl Jones because he was in this movie again and his death was sad for me because he is Darth Vader and that is sad when he dies.

I enjoyed this political thriller a lot but the ending just kills it for me.  This is an entertaining film and is very much worth watching if you haven’t seen if for nothing else other than watching the badass that is Harrison Ford.  As of the time of this review he is 74 years old and we need to start celebrating his greatness as time moves forward.  So please watch more of his movies.

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bluethunderWhen I was a 12 or 13-year-old dad let me watch this movie on HBO and it always stuck with me.  I don’t know why because the movie isn’t very exceptional in any particular way and quite simple in story.  I guess it’s one of those child hood happy memories that I have makes me fond of the movie so I was very happy to see it show up on Starz so I could watch it again.

In early 1980’s Los Angeles, Police Helicopter pilot Frank Murphy, played by Roy Scheider (Jaws,) is selected to fly an experimental helicopter, Blue Thunder, that the government is testing.  One of the leaders of the program is his former commanding office in Vietnam Colonial Cochrane, played by Malcom McDowell (Halloween,) and the history between Murphy and Cochrane is not good.  During their first test flight Murphy and his co-pilot Officer Lymangood, played by Daniel Stern (Home Alone,) discover that the helicopter is designed to be an offensive response to any riot that would take place in LA.  In order to cover this fact up the group headed by Cochrane are will to kill Murphy and anyone else to keep it a secret.  Murphy is framed for Lymangood’s murder and Murphy has to clear his name and expose the true purpose of Blue Thunder.

The biggest reason I enjoy this film is basically the last 45 minutes of this fairly short film when Murphy steals the Blue Thunder helicopter and we have all sorts of chases in and around the city of Los Angeles.  In these chases he takes on two regular police helicopter units and two F-16 fighter plans and beats them both.  During these scenes we see the absolute ludicrous notion that all of these people would be firing live ammunition at each other in the heart of Los Angeles.  In a five-minute span the F-16’s takes out a BBQ restaurant and the top five floors of an office building with heat seeking missiles.  This point aside it did make for some entertaining film watching for a while.  The finale was Cochrane in his helicopter and Murphy in Blue Thunder chasing around LA shooting up buildings while trying to shoot each other down.  The last part of the movie was fun and the action was the best part of the movie.

Surprisingly this movie is directed by John Badham who is responsible for directing Saturday Night Fever, Wargames, and Short Circuit to name a few.  The writer of the film is one Dan O’Bannon who has written such classics as the original Alien and Total Recall as well as a favorite film of my movie cohort Benn Farrell, Return of the Living Dead.  Blue Thunder was also nominated for Best Film Editing for 1983.  I mention this because maybe with all of these talented people, seriously, including the cast is the reason why I enjoy this film.  In the cast I failed to mention the awesome role of police Captain Jack Braddock played by Warren Oates (Stripes.)  He was perfect as the angry but intelligent ass kicking captain who had to keep Murphy in line.  Those of you who have seen Stripes know him to be Sargent Hulka who was awesome in that as well.  This unfortunately was his last film.

If I was to say what was wrong with the film I could say that the plot itself was easy.  There was never any suspense as to who the bad guys were and what they were planning.  The writers did put in key points in the beginning of the film that helped the story like saying it was illegal for police helicopters to be armed.  But it just made for no tension in the film other than how Murphy was going to kill Cochrane.  Speaking of killing and death, we only saw three deaths in the film, and while that seems like enough, if you consider how many bullets were sprayed across the city and rockets.  Also it was interesting to watch how they took the care to show how Murphy hadn’t killed any of the opposing police officers or military men who was hunting him down.  The worse thing about the film was the needless love story for Murphy.  The lady was the person who got the proof of Murphy’s innocence to the TV station but other than that she was pointless.

I enjoyed this film but I won’t say it’s a good film.  The music is so very much 80’s with its electronic synthesizer sound that it brings a smile to my face when I hear it.  The ending helicopter chase is the selling point of the film if you can ignore the use of miniature models and blue screens for some of it.  It’s great for me to go back in time and watch this film because on it a certain level it reminds me of happier less adulting times.

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pointbreakMy movie website cohort and good friend Benn Farrell knows that I am not a fan of remakes in general. They tend to be remade for the wrong reasons.  I will already tell you that I will not like the new Ghostbusters film that is coming out in the summer of 2016.  The reason why I will not like it is because if the film is awesome, which it won’t be, it can’t be better than the original.  So if it can’t be better than the original why make it?  Knowing my feelings about this Benn sent me to this film.  But I have never seen the original Point Break with Patrick Swayze and surfer dude Keanu Reeves.  So I have nothing to compare this film to other than the few clips I have seen over the years.  So I am a blank slate for this film and yet while I was pessimistic at the start I was pleasantly surprised at how not awful it ended up being.  I will have to see the original now for comparison.

Utah, played by Luke Bracey (The November Man,) is a former extreme sport motocross rider turned potential FBI agent after a friend of his died falling off of a cliff falling Utah on his bike.  The FBI are dealing with some extreme sportsmen who are also committing crimes on U.S. corporations around the world.  Utah realizes that the people committing these crimes are also attempting to complete the Ozaki 8, a list eight extreme ordeal to honor the forces of nature.  Because of his background Utah is sent to see if he can infiltrate the group and gather information.  In doing so he meets the leader Bodhi, played by Edgar Ramirez (The Bourne Ultimatum,) who suggests Utah look into himself to see why he left the sport, among other things.  Utah also begins a relationship with Samsara, played by Teresa Palmer (Warm Bodies,) and begins to earn the trust of the group as they do so bring him along on another one of their missions to honor Ozaki.

The biggest thing that got me to like this movie is the filming of the extreme sports that the guys do in the film.  Even if most of it was green screen those action scenes had a lot of excitement for me.  For whatever reason as I have gotten older I have acquired a fear of heights.  Not on an airplane or if I am standing in a tall building.  More along the lines of when I see people mountain climbing in general, especially without ropes, or seeing some of those geniuses climbing to the roof of the skyscrapers to do balancing acts on the edge and so forth.  I guess as I have gotten older I like my life a lot more than those idiots even though they are younger and have more of a life to live.  There were many scenes that had me stressed in the film watching.  One of the two worst ones was when the five guys were paragliding I think?  Granted a lot of it was green screen but I would assume some of it wasn’t and it was cool to watch them fly through the air as they were falling to the ground.   But of course the one that had me the most was when Utah was chasing Bodhi and another guy up a mountain and they were all climbing up the mountain without ropes or anything.  Once at the top Bodhi purposely falls of the waterfall and Utah follows him down.  I actually had to fast forward it a bit because it was stressing me out.  But that is more on me than it is on the film.

My biggest issue is that there seems to be no real conflict or bad guy.  At no point did I believe Utah wasn’t going to stop being an FBI Agent and join these guys on their quest.  Bodhi was the bad guy but as bad guys go he wasn’t horrible.  He is a modern day Robin Hood and I thought we are supposed to like those guys.  So I guess I am saying that none of the characters were really developed one way or the other for me to root for or against them.  I also have an issue of the character of Samsara.  It would appear there was no purpose for her role other than to show some skin and be a mild love interest for Utah.  Even at that there is no real belief that the relationship is going to go anywhere.  Her only purpose was to explain what actually happened to Ozaki and his life meaning.  Other than that there is nothing so when Utah ends up shooting her during a failed bank heist there is no real sense of loss for me.  Don’t get me wrong Teresa Palmer is hot, even if she wasn’t one of the actresses that had her phone hacked a couple of years ago and had all sorts of nude pictures of her out on the net, she would still be hot.  But there is no purpose for her character in this film other than showing a hot bodied woman.


Lastly the last issue I had was that the reason why these guys were committing the crimes was because of some Zen connection between the Ozaki 8 and giving back to the earth and the commitment level they had at doing both.  The problem using that is that the climactic scene in the movie is fairly anti-climactic.  The above mentioned chase between Utah and Bodhi on the cliff was that scene.  Other than freaking out the audience member like me, it didn’t do anything to help the story.  Both jumped off the cliff and Utah showed back up and it was assumed by the other FBI that Bodhi was lost in the river even though Utah knew he survived.  Then we flash forward seven months later when a storm creates the conditions for the remaining trial that Bodhi needs to do and Utah catches up to him and tells him that if he goes out and does the trial he will die.  Bodhi tells him basically that is the beauty of it.  I don’t get it.  So needless to say the ending is lacking.

I will say that the actors in the film were the other reason why I enjoyed the film as much as I did. Both Bracey and Martinez did the best with what was given to them.  Hell for that matter so did Teresa Palmer.  They could only do so much with what was given and it was clear this movie focused more on the stunts then the script.

This is not a good movie but it isn’t horrible.  The extreme sports kept me in the movie but the story and lack of character development destroy what good there is in the film.  Like I said I will have to see the original so I can see the differences but I can say that I won’t watch this movie again unless there is nothing else on.  It was better than I thought it would be, but I was expecting garbage.  I am guessing I will have to wait for the new Ghostbusters to give me a garbage remake.

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moneymonsterHating on Wall Street is a popular thing to do with most people but especially if you belong to one side of the political spectrum. If you believe what Bernie Sanders says, Wall Street is one of the root causes of all evil.  Hollywood, in all of its irony, has also been kicking Wall Street while it’s down, even though I’m sure a lot of them invest in the same Wall Street.  Most of the movies are garbage like the Wall Street sequel.  A few are excellent like The Big Short.   The rest are either fairly good with some bad spots or fairly bad with some good spots.  For me Money Monster is entertaining but not the best story but does have a twist in the middle of the film that is hilarious.

Lee Gates, played by George Clooney (Hail, Caesar!,)is the TV host of a Mad Money like TV showed called Money Monster where he makes financial predictions on the stock market with an over the stop show business atmosphere.  While in the middle of his stock tip of the day, the director of the show Patty, played by Julia Roberts (My Best Friend’s Wedding,) notices a delivery driver milling around on the back of the stage.  Thinking this was part of the act, Patty turns one of the cameras on him and brings Lee to his attention.  The driver, Kyle, played by Jack O’Connell (Unbroken,) puts the packages down, pulls out a gun and takes Lee hostage.  Kyle is upset with Lee as well as his guest Walt, played by Dominic West (Chicago,) who is supposed to be on the show.  Walt owns the company IBIS Clear Capital and on his show Lee recommended his audience to buy stalks in the company.  Kyle listened to Lee and lost everything when the company’s stock dropped.  Kyle shows up on the show to seek answers and retribution.

My problems with the movie center on the way the story was developed.   I know the film was not meant to be an expose on the corruption of Wall Street.  But a lot of the detective work in the movie to find out how IBIS Clear Capital’s stock collapsed so quickly was done off camera.  While Walt’s aide and CCO of the company Diane, played by Caitriona Balfe (Escape Plan,) did get some dirt on Walt when she realized that he was playing her and the rest of the company on camera, the bulk of the cool discoveries were found by people who we were introduced to but didn’t get to watch them do the detective work.  I feel that the story would have been much better if we saw at least a little of the digging into the bad guy so he would be more evil.  We didn’t get to see that because the bulk of the movie was in the TV studio.  It wasn’t horrible but I thought it could have been better.

Another issue I had kind of correlates with my last topic in that once we realize that Kyle really isn’t the bad guy, we really don’t get one until the final act of the movie.  So for a while as the movie’s story was looking for the bad guy Walt, I felt I was looking for a bad guy to root against.  News was trickling into the story that Walt was doing something shady but we didn’t get to know until the third act so while the third act’s revelations were cool, it would have been nicer to see more of the stuff off screen to make me feel more invested in rooting for the kid.  Because for most of the story I kept looking at Kyle and thinking that here is another whiney millennial who is looking for someone else to blame for his decision.  He didn’t have to invest in the company but he did.  Sucks that the stock dropped and he lost all that money but he didn’t have to invest in stocks.  He could have thrown in it the bank and used it to make life better slowly.  But once we get to the third act and clear shenanigans took place then I could sympathize, a little.

Actually my sympathy for Kyle came right in the middle of the movie and for me was probably the best part of the movie.  ****Big and possibly the only spoiler in the movie is ahead.****  It turns out that Kyle invested this money because he knocked up his girlfriend Molly, played briefly but awesomely by Emily Meade (Thanks For Sharing,) and was trying to get ahead.  The police dig her up and bring her to the police station to try and talk him down.  Well I won’t give it all away but let’s just say that she doesn’t exactly come and help the situation and when Clooney’s character Lee tells Kyle that we all have been there, I think every male in the audience quietly shook their head.


Speaking of Clooney I can say that for me this is the first time in a long time that he was pleasantly wonderful.  Maybe being typecast as an insufferable arrogant douchebag is what made him so charming.  But he did have a lot of funny bits spread out, especially with the girlfriend scene.  As for the rest I have already mention that Emily’s brief cameo was awesome.  I am not and have never been a big fan of Julia Roberts so I can only say that she really didn’t annoy me in the film, so that’s cool.  I mean she didn’t do a bad job or anything, quite the opposite actually but I would have been happy with other actresses in that role.  Actually everyone had nice performances in the film and helped make up for the story.

I can say that if you are not a fan of super hero films and want to go see a movie this weekend I am sure there are worse out there than Money Monster.  The story is lacking but the performances made up for it, even George Clooney’s.

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