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Dragnet (1987)

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.

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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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Sully (2016)

sullyWhen I saw the trailer in this film I was surprised to see that there was some question as to how Captain Sullenberger cannot be viewed anything other than as a hero. So needless to say I was sure I wanted to see this film when it came out.  What I saw was a very good film by director Clint Eastwood and actor Tom Hanks who both somehow make a movie about an investigation into an airplane accident both compelling and interesting.

On January 15, 2009 US Airways Flight 1549 Captained by Chelsey “Sully” Sullenberger, played by Tom Hanks (Inferno,) suffered a bird strike in both engines and suffered power failure.   Being unable to fly to any area airport, Sully and his co-pilot Jeff Skiles, played by Aaron Eckhart (Battle: Los Angeles,) both guide the passenger jet into a controlled water landing on the Hudson River in New York City.  Even though the though there were no deaths and the landing considered a success and miracle in the public eye, both pilots are having to fight for their professional careers as the initial investigation by the NTSB suggests that the pilots could have made it back to the airport and therefore were at fault for the landing the plane in the Hudson.

The story is really interesting on a couple of different levels.  Right away you discover that Sully is going through PTSD as the opening scene shows a different ending to the plane flight when you see Flight 1549 fly right into a few buildings in midtown Manhattan.  We then see Sully looking out a window and you can see the look of a realization that maybe that should have happened as opposed to him saving the plane.  Tom Hanks, as usual, does a magnificent job of showing the emotion in these scenes and there are more than a few.  To me it seemed to coincide with the NTSB investigation that was trying to tell him that he had enough time to fly the plane back to the airport and he needlessly put these people in harm’s way.  It was also surprising how combative the NTSB investigation turned out to be if the portrayal in the film is close to being spot on.  In the movie it showed that the NTSB was definitely trying to pin the accident on the pilot.  They constantly kept referring to how the computer simulation showed the plane could have made it back to the original airport, La Guardia.  At the beginning of the investigation all Sully had was his belief and his experience flying the plane.  As the investigation went on you can see how the constant questions being asked of Sully was starting to erode Sully’s belief that he did the right thing.  I thought there was a great and touching scene where Sully made a phone call to his wife, Lorraine, played by Laura Linney (Man of the Year,) where he seriously doubted himself and his wife tried to reassure him but was also scarred and worried about him.  All these things added up to a gripping story that was really good because when you know the outcome of an event it can be hard to pay attention when the bulk of the “actions” are hearings and interviews.

As I said earlier, Hanks was magnificent in his role as Sully.  He was great showing the pain he was going through as he was constantly replaying the flight in his head and watching his plane crash.  As a whole I thought the rest of the cast did a fine job.  I liked how Aaron Eckhart, who played the co-pilot, was the counter to Sully in that he was much more confident that Sully did the right thing landing in the Hudson. Laura Linney had a small part in the film but she was very good as the worried wife and did have a great scene when she was talking to Sully on the phone realizing that the accident could have been much worse and that he was on that plane.  Up to that point she had wanted to know when he was coming home and wanting the publicity to end as the camera crews were outside their house beind somewhat selfish acting as if she was going through more issues than he was now that he was safe.  The realization that she could have lost him was cathartic.  The other actor I would like to point out is Mike O’Malley (Concussion) who plays the lead NTSB investigator Charles Porter.  Porter was the most aggressive of all of the investigators in trying to pin the crash on Sully.  The final scene with the public hearing was great in that you could see the pride that Porter had in proving Sully was at fault when the human simulation showed that Sully had the time to land at the airport.  And his pride quickly went to shame when he allowed for a second human simulation but with a 35 second delay in the pilots reaction.  The 35 second delay was asked by Sully because he pointed out that after the bird strike the pilots didn’t immediately think to fly back to the airport but to try and fix the problem first.  When Porter conceded to that and added the seconds, and neither human simulation made it to either airport possible, O’Malley was great in showing the shame that Porter must have had by doubting Sully.  O’Malley seems to be good at playing jerks because he was a big one in the movie Concussion.  Overall the film was very well acted.

Although it’s brief, I would like to mention how great a job Clint Eastwood did directing the film even though that doesn’t come as a big surprise.  His pacing of the film made it surprisingly suspenseful even though the bulk of the story revolved around the interviews and hearings of the accident as well as Sully trying to deal with it.  He also did a great thing, maybe it was the screenwriter as well, but we never got to see the full incident take place until the final act of the movie.  We were given bits and pieces but he saved the entire accident for when it would be most effective.  What made it even better was that before that as we were watching the film we were given different scenarios that all ended up horribly bad.  I told a friend of mine that if you are afraid of flying this movie could mess with you a little bit because of all of the realistic crashes into the city.  It was a fine film and he deserves as much as the credit as the actors, and the screen writer as well.

This is a wonderful film and is easily in my top ten films of 2016.  I can’t really find any fault with the film and it exceeding many of my lofty expectations for a film starring Tom Hanks and directed by Clint Eastwood.  If the movie is still playing in a theater near you I highly suggest you go and watch it because it belongs in the conversation of best films of 2016.

moneypitWell my friend Benn Farrell decided that the theme for November 2016 movies will be the movies of one of the best American actors of my generation, Tom Hanks. The great thing about Hanks is that before he was a great dramatic actor, he was the one of the 80’s funniest comedic actors.  One of his funnier movies in the 80’s was the classic The Money Pit where he and actress Shelly Long take on a house.

Walter Fielding, played by Tom Hanks (Sully,) is a lawyer who has been screwed over by his own father, who is also a lawyer, when his dad steals money from all of their joint clients and runs off to Brazil.  He is forced to live with his longtime girlfriend Anna, played by Shelley Long (The Brady Bunch Movie,) and that place they are living is at her ex-husbands downtown New York Apartment.  Unfortunately, Max, played by Alexander Godunov (Die Hard,) is coming back from Europe and they have to get out.  They decide to take a chance on a house in the suburbs that is cheaper than it should be.  Soon they find out that everything that is could be wrong with the house is wrong with the house and both Walter and Anna have to deal with the house and the contractors fixing the house and Anna’s ex-husband while they are waiting for the house to get fixed and keep their relationship together.

This movie reminds me of how awesome Tom Hanks is as a comedic actor.  His physical comedy with regards to what happens to the house as he starts fixing it causes me to giggle.  Especially when he rings the doorbell and it shocks him and when he hits his hand with the hammer his face is priceless both times.  Also he has one of the best movie laughs in history.  It happens when Walter and Anna are pouring water into the bathtub and the tub falls through the floor of the second story bathroom and hits the ground floor.  It is absolutely hilarious.  His comedic timing is perfect between himself and Shelley Long during the big fight scene.  They are being verbally abusive to each other and its amazing watching him not miss a beat in the entire confrontation.  No big surprise, he is the star of the show.

But I would be remiss not to mention two other characters in the film that helped make it a great funny show, the house and the contractors.  The house is a wonderful nemesis to Walter and Anna.  It is wonderful in helping test their relationship.  It slowly builds from when the front door falls off, to when the staircase collapses, to the fireplace and on and on.  It is really fun to see how the house comically destroys the two. The best scene with the house is the chain reaction scene which is somewhat synonymous with their relationship.  I also mentioned the contractors as the other character in this film and I specifically mention the group as a single character.  The owners of the company are a bunch of brothers named Shirk and we only see them once individually but they are all fun to watch but Art Shirk, played by Joe Mantegna (Godfather III,) is the best.  He hits on Anna and constantly makes sexual innuendos about carpentry.  But he was just the start.  Look at the contractors and you will see a motley crew of individuals you would expect to see at a carnival.  Walther’s interaction with them is enjoyable to watch every time the scene switches to the house.  These two characters help make the movie funnier.

I also want to mention the character Max played by Alexander Godunov.  Godunov played the role of the egotistical conductor very nice.  He constantly is begging Anna to come back to him but also shows how self-centered he is and showing why she left him in the first place.  He is also is the tipping point in the relationship between Walter and Anna by tricking Anna into thinking she cheated on Walter with him while he was out of town.  I enjoyed Godunov in this film.  I remember him more as the main henchman in the movie Die Hard and was once a talented dancer but his personal demons were too much and he committed suicide a few years after Die Hard.  So its nice to have him in this film in a role that is different than his Die Hard film.

I have failed to have mention Shelly Long in this film and I need to do so because I do not want to sound like her role was insignificant.  However, while I find that she did nothing bad at all in the film she stood out to me in no particular way.  She was the perfect foil to Tom Hanks as the romantic lead.  She reminded me of her role in the long running 80’s TV show Cheers.  She was funny and charming with a little fight in her.  But the fact that she doesn’t stand out almost bothers me.  She left Cheers for a movie career and this is almost the highlight of her film career.  As much as I love this movie, that’s not good.  For what its worth she is entertaining in this film.

This is one of those great 80’s comedies that remind me of my childhood because its silly, pointless and funny.  It also goes to show how awesome Tom Hanks was as a comedic actor in the 80’s and it makes me wonder why he really hasn’t done one now.  But then again there aren’t a lot of great comedies being made in today’s cinema so maybe that’s why.  If you haven’t seen this film please watch it and prepare to chuckle.

drstrangeIt’s amazing to me how the Marvel Cinematic Universe keeps making quality movies, ok not including The Incredible Hulk, with almost no effort.   Eventually the odds alone will tell you that they have to make a downright awful film at least according to the critics.  I wasn’t a fan of Iron Man 3 but I am a lone voice of dislike in a forest of love.  The next movie in the MCU is Doctor Strange which is a little bit different than the other Marvel films and while I do enjoy the film and in general have nothing negative to say about it, I still left the theater with an empty feeling.

Dr. Stephen Strange, played by Benedict Cumberbatch (Zoolander 2,) is a world renowned neurosurgeon with the ego and arrogance to go with it.  When Strange gets into a horrible car accident he loses the ability to use his hands and when Western science fails him he desperately goes to Katmandu, Nepal to find Kamar-taj and the ability to heal himself.  Once there he meets The Ancient One, played by Tilda Swinton (The Chronicles of Narnia,) and Mordo, played by Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years A Slave,) who is one of her many followers and they show Strange that there is much more than the scientific world that he knows.  As he begins to learn the spiritual world and magic, he also learns of The Ancient One’s former pupil Kaecilius, played by Mads Mikkelsen (Casino Royale,) who has stolen pages from a spell book that if performed properly will bring about the end of the world.  Doctor Strange will have to use all of his skill and to think about more than himself if he is to help defeat this new evil set upon the world.

I did like this movie and I will bet a paycheck that this movie will be nominated for an Academy Award for Special Effects.  As of now, and this is before the new Star Wars movie hits, either this film or Warcraft will win best special effects.  Or maybe I should say SHOULD win special effects.  I haven’t seen the movie Inception but from what I have seen from the trailers of it, Doctor Strange has many of the same special effects, only better.  I know that these actors filmed against a green screen but to see how much jumping and running around the actors did with the green screen and how it gets translated into the movie is just awesome.  The out of body fight scenes were pretty cool as well.  The visual effects in this film are a big plus.

The story is…a mix bag for me and the big reason why I left with the empty feeling.  The story starts a tad slow, at least in my eyes, but once Strange gets accepted to be trained by The Ancient One, the story really starts to move.  I very much enjoyed watching him going from a Doctor who just wants to heal his hands to a man who is learning more about the mystical world.  My problem is the third act of the film.  It seems very rushed to me.  To me it seems like there is a slow build of Strange learning about Magic and the mystical realm.  Then it shows where Strange is learning quickly, even faster than he should be, and learning things that seem above his level, but he is still a student.  Suddenly he is thrust into a position where he has to defend a sanctum by himself versus Kaecilius and two of his minions and ends up doing a fairly good job.  Which is odd because the sanctums are supposed to be guarded by bad asses trained by The Ancient One and Kaecilius and his minions basically walk threw them.  So if these protectors had years of training and get smoked I find it hard to believe that Strange, even though he is gifted, would be able to survive the attack.  Sure he did get beat, sort of, which caused him to have to use a portal to his old hospital to find his ex-girlfriend Christine, played by Rachel McAdams (Spotlight,) to heal his physical body while his spiritual one continues the fight.  Strange then becomes the de facto leader of them when something bad happens to the Ancient One.  Then he and the rest of the followers must protect the last sanctum in Hong Kong.  To me it just happens way to fast for this kind of character development.  Now the action is awesome and its fun to watch and I like it, but it kind of doesn’t make sense to me.

The casting is excellent to me.  I love Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange and have been a big fan of Mads Mikkelson since I first saw him in the movie King Arthur.  I think we could have seen more of Mikkelson in the film to make his bad guy even better.  Marvel movies have had one big problem in that other than Loki, played by Tom Hiddleston, there have been no really good villains in most of the Marvel movies.  Mikkelson’s character Kaecilius falls into that as well unfortunately because we don’t get to see him enough and have his character developed.  But I still like him in this roll.  I also liked Tilda Swinton but there seems to be some upset Millennials about her casting as The Ancient One because apparently this roll should have been given to an Asian.  I say F- Off and get over it.  She was a great choice and people need to stop whining.

I know I have bitched a lot about this movie but I did enjoy it over all.  It fits in well with the MCU and I am sure we will have a part 2.  If you are a fan of these movies or of Benedict Cumberbatch then by all means head out and watch the film on the big screen.  It is worth it.

 

mrsmithThose of you who know me know that even though I run the accounting department where I work, I actually have a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. Since my movie cohort Benn Farrell and I decided to make October reviews theme Presidential movies in honor of this horrendous Presidential election, I decided my Classic Movie Review would be a movie that many of my High School teachers and college Professors of Political Science told me to see, Mr. Smith Goes To Washington.  I can see why a Political Science teacher would want someone to see this movie because even though it is extremely dated it does have some relative points to make even in today’s political landscape.

Jefferson Smith, played by Jimmy Stewart (It’s a Wonderful Life,) is the leader of a rural outdoor boys organization in a unnamed American state when he is appointed by the Governor to be one of the two US Senator of his state when the sitting Senator dies.  What Smith doesn’t know is that a local businessman named Jim Taylor, played by Edward Arnold (Meet John Doe,) has bribed the Governor and the other sitting Senator, Joseph Paine, played by Claude Rains (Casablanca,) to propose a bill in the US Senate that includes money to build a dam that is profitable to Taylor and Smith was sent to Washington to be an unknowing supporter of the bill by just doing what Paine tells him.  However, Paine, Taylor and the Governor weren’t planning for is Smith’s assistant Saunders, played by Jean Arthur (Shane,) who was the original Senators assistant, to fall for his innocence and his wholesome beliefs of what the country stands for, and tells Smith exactly what is going on.  When Smith tries to tell his fellow Senators what is going on, Paine turns on him and tries to get Smith kicked out of the Senate.  Smith must try to not only save his job but also convince the Senate that he is telling the truth and Paine is lying about the dam.

So my biggest problem with the movie is the story and the unnecessary…oh how do I say it…filmmaking choices by legendary director Frank Capra.  I’ll start by explaining the last half of the previous sentence.  When I mean filmmaking choices I mean the style that was in use during this time in that there is a scene in the film that is puts together a montage of location scenes to set the mood of the moment or the character of the individual or the theme of the movie.  In this movie we have a scene just like this.  The story sets up this scene earlier by showing our dear Mr. Smith at a rally where he shows how patriotic he is, how he believes in the purity of the Constitution, and his naivety at how this process works.   Later we see him arrive at a train station in Washington DC and his handler quickly loses him.  There is great consternation about where he has gone and what has happened to him.  Well never fear movie watchers as Frank Capra takes us on the journey with Mr. Smith.  What the viewer gets is about 3 minutes and 18 seconds I think (I wrote it down but lost the paper,) of a montage of Washington DC landmarks with a heavy emphasis on the Lincoln Memorial.  Wow.  Just Wow.  I know that this movie was made in 1939 and most of the country could not just get in the car and take the family on a trip to DC.  It was the depression after all.  But however long this montage is it is too much. I feel that this montage also tries to show how patriotic the film is supposed to be but I already get that feeling from the title of the movie and the first 15 minutes.  This is a minor issue but it leads into the biggest drawback of the movie which is the unfulfilling ending.  The ending, spoiler alert…as if you were going to watch this, has Mr. Smith going on a marathon filibuster in the Senate to keep the vote from happening on whether or not to kick him out of the Senate.   He is trying to convince the Senate that the bill that is to be voted on is a fraudulent one that needs to be stopped.  As Smith becomes fatigued he is able to finally get Senator Paine to admit that everything Smith has been saying is right.  The rest of the Senate has gotten out of their seats to charge at Paine who is acting crazy while Smith has passed out from exhaustion at this point.  Do we get to see what happens? Do we get to see Taylor crushed and arrested?  Do we see the aftermath of the confession and Paine sent away and Smith Vindicated?  Do we see get to see Saunders and Smith give each other that big Hollywood hug and kiss that happens at the end of these movies?  Nope.  Paine goes looney on the Senate floor, he is rushed, Smith is carried out with a smiling Saunders looking from above, fade to black, then end.  Now here is where my two issues combine.  Maybe, just maybe, if we had only a 30 second patriotic montage at the beginning, we can take those 2+ minutes and put them at the end of the film, to see what happens.  But no, let’s give us a 3 minute montage of DC and leave us wondering what happens at the end.  Don’t like it.

The acting is superb in the film with Stewart leading the way.  He has the deer in head lights look of innocence anyway so its not hard for him to be a naïve country boy in the big city.  But his big filibuster speech is pretty amazing.  He also works well with leading lady Jean Arthur who herself has a pretty funny scene where she is drunk off her ass in a bar.  However I will say that I just don’t buy that these two, Smith and Saunders, would fall in love with each other that fast.  But it’s Hollywood and we need a love story in our movies.

As much as I bagged on the story earlier above, it is also very good for a few reasons.  The writer, and maybe director, did a great job of keeping this political movie non-political.  What I mean by that is that we don’t know from what state Smith comes from.  We don’t know the political affiliations of the good or bad guys in the film.  If a remake of this movie is made today I would bet you my next 10 paychecks that the corrupted members were Republicans and the good and honest politicians were Democrats.  Hollywood has changed a lot in 80 years.  The reason that this movie is a timeless classic is the issues in this movie are not dated and could work today.  Oh sure the main story of the building of dam by a corrupt businessman would have to change but the story itself is what remains the same.  Change the dam with Benghazi or email servers or bankrupt hotels and you have yourself a movie take from today’s absolutely horrible headlines.  The only problem for this movie I see is that it would be very difficult to find a non-partisan naïve individual who just believes in the founding fathers and the Constitution to play the part of Smith in this day and age.  Most of one party wants to get rid of the damn thing (Progressives…I’m speaking to you.  Yes you.)  I also will say that despite the ending that I complain about, the story keeps me involved and I want to see how it ends.

I can see why my political science professors and teachers wanted me to see this film.  It is a good film on how the politics of this country, both good and bad, work.  If you decide to see this film realize that it is dated and most of it is shot in a style that is like putting a camera inside a playhouse and watching a theater production of Mr. Smith goes to Washington but that is just the era in which this movie is made.  I can say that this is the first Jimmy Stewart movie I have watched where he was the star and I can see why he is considered an amazing actor for his generation.  I need to see more of his films.

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.

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.