Archive for the ‘Drama’ Category

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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eddietheeagleWow, what a great movie. Since I am an old man I remember the stories about Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards in the Olympics back in 1988.  I remember him even being compared to other lovable losers like the Buffalo Bills and Chicago Cubs.  But I didn’t know a lot about him.  This movie gives us a wonderful story and a great performance by the actor portraying Eddie Edwards, Taron Edgerton.

Eddie the Eagle is a biopic about Eddie Edwards, played by Taron Egerton (Kingsman: The Secret Service,) who was the only member of Great Britain’s Ski Jumping Olympic Team in the 1988 Calgary Olympics.  The amazing part of his story is that he is was unwanted by his county’s Olympic organization because they were afraid that he would embarrass himself and his county and possibly hurt himself because he was so poor at the sport.  Despite his being unwanted and being told repeatedly that he is not an athlete Eddie never gave up and achieved his goal of being an Olympian for his country.

As I said Taron Egerton was the star of the film.  He did an amazing job of playing this character with a very delicate balance between physical and emotional acting.  Trying to describe the character of Eddie Edwards is a difficult job because while he is not mentally disabled in any way and he is not dumb.  But it is almost like he is a very smart Forest Gump but nowhere near as athletic as Gump.    Egerton does a great job with physicality and the small details.  He wears a pair of glasses and there isn’t a scene where he isn’t fidgeting with them depending on the situation at hand.  Edgerton’s vocal work is also amazing in that he made Eddie sound almost like an idiot savant.  I almost feel bad because I am making it sound like Eddie is this mentally and physically disabled person but he really isn’t and I think its credit to what Edgerton has done with this character.  All I know is that I love what he did with it and as of now if I had a vote for Best Actor Oscar it would go to him.

The writer of the film did a great job of showing the ineptitude of Eddie and his athletic ability.  The opening montage of the film just had me rolling on the floor laughing at how unskilled Eddie in almost all sports.  However it wasn’t as if they just showed it for laughs.  The writer did take the time to show that as a youth Eddie did have a serious leg issue that needed to be fixed by wearing a brace for quite some time.  The writer also did a great job of allowing Egerton to show the determination and shear character and will power that Eddie had in ignoring all of the critics and achieve his dream of making the Olympic team.  One scene that I loved that again shows the awkwardness of Eddie, in this case socially awkward, is when the female owner of the German bar Eddie sneaks into and sleeps in his first night after the day of training and the bar owner offered Eddie a job so he can stay in the bar to sleep so he can train.  The wonderful awkward part is when Petra, played by Iris Berben, offered to give Eddie her body every now and then and it was wonderful to watch Eddie squirm and act like a 16 year old getting hit on by an older woman.  The acting and writing in that scene were wonderful.

I did not like the fictional character of Bronson Peary, played by Hugh Jackman (X-Men III: The Last Stand.)  Peary is the maintenance man for the ski jump training park in Germany and former USA Olympic ski jump competitor who was kicked off the team.  This is a fictional character added to give us an emotional subplot of a coach seeking redemption but it didn’t really work.  As well as the writers developed Eddie’s character, the writer really did not do much to develop the other characters in the film.  This lack of development led to some awkward scenes.  One in particular started off as a great scene and then kind of went sideways.  The scene is that Eddie is forced to qualify after the British Olympic committee changed the rules on his qualifications and he was at the last event he could qualify for and during the practice jump he reached the 61 feet goal that was required.  However the next day during the jump in the competition he fell and was disqualified.  He begged the German officials to let him jump again but the German judges wouldn’t let him.  This created a great but sadly emotional scene in that Eddie was dejected and forced him to accept defeat.  He was then given a letter in the mail that showed that either by accident or on purpose the German judges put his practice jump in as an official jump so he qualified for the Olympics.  He went to Bronson to share the good news and Bronson told him to wait and train for another four years and try to qualify for the next Olympics.  Eddie said he didn’t want to wait and he was going to go to Calgary and Peary said that if he goes he will go alone because he will be a joke at the Olympics and no one will take him seriously.  The entire scene just kind of through off the feel good moment at the time which kind of went the grain of the film up to that point there was no sense that Peary was going to go in that direction.

Despite this issue and I feel like I am nitpicking here, I am a big fan of this film.  I will cross my fingers and hope that Taron Edgerton is not forgotten come award season but since this movie came out in January rarely do movies released then get remembered during award season.  None the less you should watch this film because it is a great feel good underdog sports story with some humor and a lot of heart.

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wtfWell this is a first for me and I don’t quite know how to feel about it, I am all conflicted. I can now say that there is a movie starring Tina Fey that I like because of Tina Fey.  I know it’s pretty amazing to think that.  Now this movie does have its faults but it really has nothing to do with Fey at all.  In fact I think that if this movie was directed by Spielberg and maybe written by Randall Wallace and this cast it could be an Academy Award worthy film.   But they didn’t so the movie is what it is which is a decent film.

Kim Baker, played by Tina Fey (Sisters,) is a low end network journalist who volunteers to head to Afghanistan in 2003 to cover the war there because all of the talented journalists are headed to Iraq to cover that war.  Once there Kim meets fellow journalist Tanya Vanderpoel, played by Margot Robbie (The Big Short,) and Iain MacKelpie, played by Martin Freeman (The Hobbit: Unexpected Journey,) who try to show her the ropes as well as show her all the places to party in Kabul. As she learns the ropes Baker realizes that she must take risks if her news stories are going to make it to the TV and she also learns that the Taliban and other insurgents aren’t the only dangers to her life and career.

As I stated above I really liked the cast in this film.  I was surprised by how well Tina Fey was doing in what really was a dramatic roll.  She was able to convey emotions and I saw her show happiness, sadness, betrayal, etc. all the things you are supposed to be able to do in a dramatic roll.  Her comedy was understated but surprisingly funny for me and maybe because there was an underlying tone of smartass to it but by no means was it over the top which has been her forte in past films that I haven’t liked.  Tina Fey did a great job in this film but she was not the only one.  As I said above the entire cast was great.  Both Robbie and Freeman were great as conflict journalists who seem to not only accept what was going on in Afghanistan but almost enjoy the chaos and the belief that no risk is too great to get on TV.  Freeman was great not only as the love interest but the calming influence of Fey’s character to kind of remind to stay grounded.  Also I wonder if Margot Robbie only plays gorgeous kick ass characters.  I haven’t seen her in Wolf of Wall Street but from the pictures I have seen she looks like her character is a party animal and she is cast as Harley Quinn in the upcoming Suicide Squad film and unless they mess up the character a lot, I know that character is kickass.  I’m not sure how good of an actress she is yet, but she is hot and I’m not sure I want to be stuck in an alley with her on the other side.   I loved how this movie showed a good view of the military, which surprises me, in the character of General Hollanek, played by Billy Bob Thornton (The Judge.)  He was probably the funniest character in the film and was fun to watch.  Also humorous was the character Ali Massoud Sadiq, played by Alfred Molina (Pete’s Meteor.)  He plays a character that is constantly hitting on Kay Baker and ends up getting in trouble time and time again and was quite funny, and believable as a Middle Eastern man. Overall the cast was a strong point of the movie.


If the cast was a strong point then the story and direction were a little weak.  My biggest problem, and this probably isn’t on them but the producers, is that this film was marketed as a comedy and I get that when Tina Fey is the star.  But this movie is not a comedy.  This movie is much more dramatic then comedic with a little bit of action thrown in to the film.  This is a film that looks at the life of a war correspondent and what they have to do to get a story that is good enough to get on TV.  One of the good things this story showed was the constant frustration that Kim Baker was having in that she was risking her life to come up with stories that would get killed at the network and never see the light of day.  This of course would cause the journalists to take bigger and bigger risks in order to get a story and enhance their career without caring about the potential consequence.    One thing I wish the writers of the story did a better job of was showing how the near death experiences were like a drug for the journalists which lead them to go on more and more dangerous missions.  This idea was conveyed by Baker’s translator Fahim Ahmadzai, played by Christopher Abbott (A Most Violent Year.)  While I thought Abbot did a good job I wish he didn’t have to give the exposition about comparing the drug addicts to the journalists.   I would have enjoyed that journey.

Another problem I had was that the sound was jack up in the film.  I know I am losing my hearing but I couldn’t hear the dialogue so I would raise the volume on my TV and then the action would happen and my ears would bleed.  So I had to turn the TV down and turn on the subtitles. Maybe its because I have bad hearing but I think the movie could have had better sound for sure.

This is a good movie but could have been much better.  When you watch this film think of it as a drama first and you will enjoy the film a lot.  I like a Tina Fey film…never thought I would say that.

My movie review partner’s review of this movie can be seen by clicking here.

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13hours.jpgThere are three reasons to see this movie the first of which being that considering how political this topic is in our county there is no politics in this movie. So if you didn’t want to see this film because you believed it purposely painted President Obama and/or future President Hillary Clinton in a bad light because of their many failures of these people you can put your mind at ease, there is no finger pointing or Fox News talking points in the film.  The second reason is that this film, surprisingly for me, is directed by one Michael Bay of Transformers Movies fame and after a quick gander at his list of movies he has directed I discovered that most of his movies keep me entertained but aren’t very good.  I can tell you this movie is, in my opinion, his best film he has ever directed.  The third reason is that an American Ambassador and Foreign Service officer were killed in the attack and two CIA security agents were killed the second attack and politics aside you should due the bare minimum to honor their service by watching a fairly reliable telling of the Benghazi attacks.

In the evening of September 11th, 2012 in the city of Benghazi, Libya, the compound housing the U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens, played by Matt Letscher (Her,) was attacked and overrun by elements of the terrorist organization Ansar al-Sharia that forced the Ambassador and his security team and one other foreign service officer into hiding.  One mile away at a secret CIA compound a group of CIA Global Response Staff (GRS) members, which is a CIA security force full of former U.S. Special Forces members, led by Tyrone ‘Rone’ Woods, played by James Badge Dale (Iron Man 3,) and Jack Silva, played by John Krasinski (TV’s The Office,) want to get a group together and head over and rescue the ambassador.  However the GRS group is forced to wait because the Chief of the CIA compound, Bob, played by David Costabile (Lincoln,) can’t get authorization from anyone in the US government.  After several pleas for help by the Ambassador and members of his team Rone ignores Bob’s orders and takes a group to the compound to try and rescue the Ambassador and bet back to the CIA base to protect it from the inevitable attack that will happen latter that night.

So like I said in the beginning there are no politics in this movie.  At no point does the story or direction point to the complete cowardice of the Obama administration in its response to the situation or the complete political cover-up that came right after the attack when they said it wasn’t terrorism but a spontaneous…let me see how Wikipedia states it, “Initially, top U.S. officials and the media reported that the Benghazi attack was a spontaneous protest triggered by an anti-Muslim video.”  In fact the only mention of this is towards the end of the movie when the agents in the compound are listening to the news of what’s being told in the rest of the world, while they are living it.  In fact my two sentences above have more politics in them the does the entire movie.  The movie just tells the story of what happened from the point of view on the guys on the ground and keeps the politics out of it.  The story is a very entertaining telling of the battle with excellent action scenes, no surprise with Michael Bay, and enough breaks in the action to create some character development.  If I wanted to be nitpicky I would say that the beginning is a little slow in the build up to the story and lots of character development but it didn’t bother me; others may be annoyed by it but not me.

When I say Michael Bay movies entertain me I mean they are fun to watch.  I loved Transformers even though outside of the many explosions and hearing father Optimus Prime speak in the film, a lot of the story made me giggle at the ridiculousness of it.  But the action was good and I felt good in the end when the good guys won.  I shall not comment about the rest of the Transformer movies other than to say lots of action, yeah Optimus.  Pearl Harbor was difficult to swallow because of the love story which drives me crazy.  As with Transformers the action scenes in his films are outrageously over the top in it explosions.  Pick a scene from any transformers movie and you will see just the most awesome explosions ever as well as the entire attack sequence in Pearl Harbor.  Surprisingly in 13 hours he brings the explosions down to a level that would be much closer to realism than I have ever seen with him.  Plus he does take the time to tell the story of these six men who risk their lives to save the Ambassador.  I would argue we learn more about Krasinski’s character in two hours of this film then we learn of Shia LaBeouf’s character in 3 Transformer movies.  But then again John Krasinski is a good actor and Shia is…an actor and major tool.  So I would say if you have been waiting for a good Michael Bay film then this is your movie.

The last reason I give for seeing this film is that no matter the politics of this movie, an American Ambassador was killed doing what he believed was right as did the two GRS members who were killed defending the compound during the second attack as well as the tech guy with the foreign service who was simply there to make the Wifi better, at least that is how the movie portrays him.  As I said this movie does a nice job of presenting what happened and I think attention needs to be paid to the film to honor those who died.  It’s hard to watch the good guys get their ass kicked a little bit but it happens.  Overall as a war film I would rate this in the same category but a step below Black Hawk Down.

I nitpicked a little earlier about some spots that were slow and if I wanted to nitpick about anything else I would question if the CIA station Chief was as big of an asshole as the movie shows him to be as well as borderline incompetent.  I get that he has orders but he was portrayed as someone who clearly couldn’t handle stressful situations and the position seems like it needs someone who can be the eye of a hurricane.  I also wasn’t sure of the purpose of the two people the CIA GRS teams were protecting at the beginning of the film before the Ambassador shows up but that could be because my hearing sucks and I hadn’t but the subtitles on during that part of the film. In fact my only complaint is that the scenes that had lots of dialogue with no action were too quiet for me and I couldn’t understand what was going on until I had turned on the subtitles.  Not a huge issue but an annoying one for me.

Please see this film if you have ever watched war movies or action movies in the past.  It is an entertaining film and the best film made by Michael Bay.  Ignore your politics and see this film.

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1776_film_posterIn the mid 1990’s, when I was living in a house full of theater people and one pretentious independent film maker (Benn Farrell,) most of them were very proud of their love of musicals, one female in particular, Jennifer, was obnoxious about that and many other things. One day her and her boyfriend Jason were watching some musical and I walked by briefly and she asked me if I wanted to watch it.  I had said no because with one exception I didn’t like musicals.  She looked up and asked me which one did I like.  I told her the musical I like was 1776.  She stared at me for a second and said, “That figures.” She went back to her musical feeling very smug and I walked way knowing that I disliked the ugly no talent hack just a little more.  Of course shortly after this I was introduced to Stephen Sondheim and fell in love with Sweeney Todd and a few of his other musicals.  But 1776 is still my favorite and since its July 4th weekend I figured why not a review of the movie made from the musical.

So 1776 is a fun little musical about the founding fathers trials and tribulations of getting the members of the American Continental Congress to declared independence from England.  There are three sides to the debate, those for Independence, led by John Adams, played by William Daniels (The Graduate,) Thomas Jefferson, played by Ken Howard (The Judge,) Dr. Benjamin Franklin, played by Howard Da Silva (Mommie Dearest.)  Then there was the one who was against Independence, John Dickenson, played by Donald Madden.  Then the third side was basically the three southern states headed by South Carolina and its head delegate Edward Rutledge, played by John Cullum (TV The Day After,) who also wanted independence but not just from England, but from all outside governance except for things like national security and definitely not slavery issues.  So the tug of war begins between the three sides with the birth of a nation on the line.

Now I like this movie for many selfish reasons the biggest of which is that I am a fan of American history and I love to see it put to film.  Now if we get any kind of historical movie it usually is a rewrite to show how bad we Americans are and how good the rest of the world is because that is the current world we live in, thank you Progressives.  However since this movie is based off the musical that was produced on Broadway in 1969 and written earlier so patriotism is still a good thing in the movie.  As for its historical accuracy in how conversations took place during the actual debate, no one really knows what happened because the actual congress was held in private and no one kept records.  Because of that the writers did what they could to create conflict and show the spirit of the debate.  For me it works because I enjoy the story very much and believe that this is an entertaining fictional account of what happened.  I would compare it to the movie JFK which I too like the story as a fictional account of what happened besides the obvious.

The strength of the actors in the film is the three main actors who portrayed Adams, Franklin, and Jefferson.  All three actors, Daniels, Da Silva, and Howard, respectively, all were cast as in the same parts in the Broadway Musical.  Actually I feel that there is not a weak link in the cast.  In fact there is only one character that was annoying and that was McNair, the Congressional Custodian, but I feel that’s because how his character was used in the story.  It was funny in the beginning but by the fourth time he said, “Sweet Jesus” I wanted to punch him.

My favorite musical numbers, and in truth I like all of them but one, are, “But, Mr. Adams,” which has Franklin, Adams, Jefferson and two other delegates discuss who should actually write the Declaration with some funny lyrics dealing with Jefferson’s desire to see his wife that he hasn’t seen in six months, and “The Egg,” which again has the three main characters sing about the birth of the new nation once the Declaration is approved, and lastly “Molasses to Rum,” sung by the South Carolina delegate Edward Rutledge, played by Cullum, who in the final act creates a new challenge for those who wish Independency by threatening to vote against it if the passage that outlaws slavery is kept.  The song is about the hypocrisy of the northern states that wish to discontinue slavery yet reap the benefits of the cheap rum brought back on the ships during the infamous Triangle Trade in our country.  If you don’t know what it is, first that means you had horrible American History professors, and second you should look it up.  It’s important.  The one song I didn’t like as a child when I watched the movie but don’t mind it so much now is the one called “Mama Look Sharp.”  It is sung by General Washington’s dispatch rider who fought at the Battle of Lexington.  His song talks about loss of the young boys who fought the battle and the mothers looking for them.  I can appreciate the song now for what it is.

There are some great scenes in the film besides the musical ones, although they all tie to one.  The scene involving Jefferson’s wife Martha, played by Blythe Danner (Meet The Fockers,) and Adams and Franklin is quite entertaining.  Since Adams is painted a prudish Massachusetts puritan it’s fun to watch him squirm while Franklin has fun with the sexual innuendo at what Martha implies. The other great scene involves the song “Molasses to Rum” in that the whole dialogue leading up to it and the final act in which Adams must compromise and take the slavery language out of the Declaration to get Rutledge’s vote is pretty powerful and sets up the beginnings of what will become the struggles that lead to the US Civil War in a 90 years.

This is a fun movie that you should watch around the 4th of July if you are stuck at home for any reason be it foul weather or hangovers.  It’s educational and it will make you feel proud to be an American and God knows we need that after the last 8 years.  It will definitely piss off a Progressive or two and that is always a good thing.


There is no trailer on the interweb highway for this movie.  So I will post a YouTube video with the opening scene because that’s all I got.


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