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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

All my aimless thoughts, ideas, and ramblings, all packed into one site!

Tag Archives: Adam Baldwin

The Patriot (2000)

Ah. The good old days of when people could actually trust in Mel Gibson to save the day.

During the American Revolution in 1776, Benjamin Martin (Mel Gibson), a veteran of the French and Indian War, declares that he will not fight in a war that is not his own. However, his oldest son (Heath Ledger) thinks differently and decides to enlist himself. Though Benjamin is upset with this decision, he knows that it is up to his son to make his own decisions and to be able to live with them, just as he has done with his own. But one fateful night, his son comes back, bloody, beaten-up, battered, and in need of some shelter; Benjamin, obviously, gives it to him, thinking that this will be the last time his son sets out for battle ever again. But Benjamin is proven wrong when, early the next morning, the British come looking for him and want to take his son away. Obviously, Benjamin is against this, as well as the rest of his family, which is when one of his young sons is shot and killed. This is when Benjamin decides that it’s time to quit being a pacifist and to pick up his sword, his gun, and his tomahawk, in order to extract some revenge, the good, old-fashioned way, baby!

Evil.

Evil.

Obviously, seeing as how this is a film from Roland Emmerich, I wasn’t expecting there to be any sort of complexity involved with the occasion. However, what’s different about the Patriot, apart from most of Emmerich’s other movies, is that it seems like he’s actually trying to make this an emotionally-gripping, detailed-story about how one man fought for the love and honor of his family, even when all the odds were stacked-up against him. This, on paper, all sounds heartfelt and kind of sweet, but the way in which it plays out?

It’s the furthest thing from.

For one, as soon as Gibson’s Benjamin Martin picks up his tomahawk, it’s go time right from there. People are shot, decapitated, split-open, spit-on, bled-out, and all sorts of other lovely actions involved with war. To be honest, I’m not one to back away from a movie that contains an awful lot of violence (especially when the violence is as graphic as it is in a big-budgeted blockbuster such as this), but there’s something here that feels incredibly off about the whole movie, that put a sour taste in my mouth.

Because, to be honest, it doesn’t seem like Emmerich gives much of a hoot about whether or not Benjamin actually feels fulfilled when every Redcoat is dead and gone away with; he cares more about how many people get killed, and in how many ways that make people go, “Aww yeah!”, or “Ooh!”. You can’t hate Emmerich for wanting to please his audience, but you can hate him for trying to pass all of that death and destruction with something resembling a peaceful; it’s just stupid and feels ill-written.

But, if I did have to rate this movie as a summer blockbuster, it’s an okay one.

It sure as hell did not at all need to be nearly three-hours, but considering the huge budget it has to work with, it’s nice to see that, at one time at least, Hollywood was willing to put all of their money into a history epic that featured as much gritty and raw violence as a single season of the Sopranos. Though the violence is oddly thrown in there with an inspirational message about standing up for your rights and taking down those who take what means most to you, it’s still effective; through the many war-sequences, we get a certain feel for just how dangerous and hellish the battlefield was, without any bullshit thrown in there.

It’s literally just blood being shed, lives being lost, and more disturbing memories for the generations to come. If anything, that’s as deep and as far as the Patriot is willing to go with any life-affirming message. For the most part, it is, like I said, concerned with just showing how many people can get killed, in all sorts of graphic ways that may, or may not please people.

Naive.

Naive.

Depends on who you are, I guess.

Though the movie tries to dig deep into Benjamin Martin’s psyche, eventually, it just stops and allows for Mel Gibson to do the leg-work for them. Which was obviously a smart idea, because even though Gibson seems to be, once again, playing another man on the search for getting justice and revenge for the loss of a loved-one (see Braveheart and/or Mad Max), the role still fits him like a glove that it doesn’t matter how old it seems for him to be playing. He has that perfect balance of being just vulnerable enough to make you think that the odds could topple over him, as well as being just mean and vicious enough to make you think he could kill whoever he wanted, how he wanted to, and whenever he saw fit. It’s actually quite scary, but it’s the role Gibson’s worked well for as long as he’s been acting and it’s only gotten more dramatic as he’s gotten older.

A lot of other people show up here and seem to be trying on the same level as Gibson, but they’re sadly tossed-away once the movie decides it doesn’t have time for them to stretch their wings out. The late, great Heath Ledger, Rene Auberjonois, Joely Richardson, and Chris Cooper all seem to have shown up, ready for work, but they don’t have anything worthwhile to do. After all, they’re in a Roland Emmerich movie, and when was the last time when of them was actually about the solid performances on-display?

No seriously – when was that? Cause I sure as hell don’t remember!

And the main reason why I didn’t include the likes of Tom Wilkinson and Jason Isaacs in that last paragraph, is because they are sadly given the roles as “the British” here, which means they play, either, nonsensical idiots, or blood-loving savages. It would make sense why the British would have a problem with this movie to begin with, but it’s made all the worse by the fact that two immensely talented actors like Isaacs and Wilkinson were given roles, so limited in their development and scope, that even they couldn’t save them. Sure, they went through the motions and collected the nice, meaty paychecks, but is it really all that worth it?

Consensus: As a summer blockbuster, the Patriot is more violent and bloodier than you’d expect it to be, but also happens to be a Roland Emmerich movie, which means it’s basically all of that, and hardly any depth beyond.

5 / 10

Heroic.

Heroic.

Photos Courtesy of : Super Marcey, Rob’s Movie Vault, Popcorn for Breakfast

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Full Metal Jacket (1987)

Everybody’s a little crazy. Even the guys that protect our country with guns.

A young Marine named Davis, aka Joker (Matthew Modine), sees the Vietnam through his eyes and his eyes only. We follow him through the gruesome days of boot-camp under the tutelage of a vicious drill sergeant (R. Lee Ermey), and then as he ends up becoming a correspondent for Stars & Stripes, where he actually gets to witness and partake in all of the brutal violence he was trained in. Obviously, not everything is as easy as it seems when it comes to taking another human’s life, and that’s the moral problem Davis hits early-on.

I’ve seen this movie about 3 times by now and have yet to let it all sink in and fully hit my brain, head-on with enough understanding and comprehension to make all of my thoughts seem more than just aimless ramblings. Maybe that last sentence didn’t prove to you that I know exactly what I’m talking about but trust me, it’s been awhile since the last time I saw this movie and I’ve come to one assumption, and one assumption only: the war sucks.

By now, everybody knows this as “Kubrick’s two-act film”. The reason it’s called that, is because the first part of the flick plays out so damn differently from the latter, that it’s almost a shock to see it come from the same director, let alone be in the same movie. But have no fear, because no matter where and when Kubrick puts his story, he never loses his grip with what message he’s trying to get across and what exactly can be accomplished with when you have a guy with a head on his shoulders (a crazy head, but a head nonetheless), some extreme skills as a director, and also, the most important factor of all: a camera in your hand.

Just so you know, he's yelling.

Just so you know: he’s yelling.

What makes this movie work so well, even after the 4th time I’ve seen this by now is that Kubrick never dumbs the audience down for the material that he’s showing. However, he also doesn’t allow it to go way too over-your-head neither. He lets his messages and themes play-out, but also gives you something more to think about. Like take for instance, the first act where we see these young, punky kids get beaten, battered, and torn to shreds by this drill sergeant that shows no remorse, never lets them live down a single damn thing, and continues to badger them about being the killing-machines that act first and shoot last. It’s a pretty fucked-up idea that the guy has, but it’s also what the war his in mind as well, and we see just how Kurbick lets us know how messed-up it is with the first-act playing out in the type of way you wouldn’t expect it to go.

This first-half is where I think, and most other people too, the film’s at it’s strongest. It shows you just how hard and brutal it can be to be apart of the army, and still have the right frame-of-mind to believe in everything that you’ve been taught to believe. That’s what our country teaches us, that’s what our politicians teach us, so why not the army? Kubrick really lays down the law with this first-act and we see him tell a simple story, in a simple way, but still give us a compelling-look at something we would have never been able to see before, had it been shown to us by anybody else. Then, it sort of goes down-hill from there.

Actually, that’s not totally correct to say, because the second-half still has it’s moments, but they still aren’t as strong as the ones in the first. After we leave the boot-camp and actually get down and dirty with the battlefield itself, we see how all of these soldiers handle all of the teachings and training they’ve been handed, and use it when necessary  This is where the film get’s really dark, really heavy, and really preachy. Just by watching the first-shot in this movie where all of these young dudes were getting their heads all shaved and groomed for the army, already had me knowing that Kubrick was against the war and felt like it was stupid for us to throw young men like these fellas into it, and be nothing more than meaningless deaths. It’s a sad truth to say, but it is the truth nonetheless and I got that this was the point Kubrick was trying to make, until he continued to bash me over the head, non-stop with it.

By the latter-half of the movie, you start to realize that not only is the war having physical problems with these soldiers, but physical as well. Everybody’s all gung-ho with the violence, loves their guns so much that they just cannot wait to shoot somebody with them, and are a bunch of freaks when they have to come to terms with what they’re fighting for, who they’re fighting for, and what losing a person/fellow solider is all about. I got that they’re going crazy and aren’t very inept with the rest of mankind, but after awhile, it’s just so obvious to sit-through and listen to, that you stop to care after awhile. Kubrick is always known for being the guy who loves to show you something that’s on his mind and usually does it in the most clever way possible, and hell that’s what we all love him for! But here, in this movie and this last-act, we start to lose that sensibility that Kubrick had, the sensibility that made him stand-out from the rest of the crowd and show that he’s working on a higher-level than these other chumps.

Still, as much as I may rag on and on about what he does wrong, Kubrick still did a lot of right in this movie and kept me glued to the screen, even though I knew exactly what happened, where, how, and why. I guess that’s just the problem you run into with most movies when you see them a couple of times, but I was so shocked that I was still able to feel on-edge with everything Kubrick showed, graphic and non-graphic. The war sequences are stunningly shot and make you feel as if you are right there, in the action with them and proves to us all that Kubrick could handle a shaky-cam better than anybody else could. So take that Blair With Project peoples! All seriousness though, whenever Kubrick has a vision in his head, he sticks to it, and never lets it go, no matter how much of his message he may hammer into our skulls.

Maybe the whole point was to make us feel like we were one of the soldiers. I don’t know. But what I do know is that the guy is one of the greatest filmmakers of all-time and really shocked me by how much he was allowed to get away with here. Controversial? You bet your sweet ass it is, but that’s what anti-war films are all about. So, whatever it is that you do, do not, I repeat, DO NOT request this as a movie-viewing on Veteran’s Day, or else you’re going to have some pretty angry vets coming at your neck. Just a fair warning, that’s all.

"I don't mind what type of business you're doing in here, but could you just keep it done at least?"

“I don’t mind whatever type of business you’re doing in here, but could you just keep it down? No? Okay, I’m leaving. Have fun.”

I know it isn’t Kubrick’s style to give into conventions and be like everybody else, but this movie would have greatly benefited from some sort of main character that drives this story the whole way through. Yeah, Matthew Modine is here and is fine as Joker, but still doesn’t seem to be much of an asset to the story, as much as he’s just a reason for us to actually pay attention to all of the crazy shit that’s going on around him. It’s sort of a sad thing to notice, because Modine is a quality actor, but it’s something that I noticed early-on and I wish Kubrick payed more attention to, rather than just going for the gull by trying to look fancy and cool with his style-points. He gets those points, but has to lose character-points as well. Can’t win ’em all, Stanley!

Even though Modine’s character doesn’t supply us with the fuel for the fire, two other actors in this movie do. Vincent D’Onofrio gained a lot of notoriety and in a way, still does to this day because of how much weight he put on for this role as Leonard Lawrence, aka Gomer Pyle. Apparently it was around 80 pounds or something, which to me, sounds like just another night of partying and drinkin’, but I digress. The guy deserves all of the credit he gets for his work here in this movie and not just because he gained all of that poundage, but because the guy makes us actually believe this sweet, kind man can go from being the nice kid who lives next-door, to being the psycho you would never even trust around your kids, let alone next to your own house. D’Onofrio really nails what it’s like to go from being normal, to being a total nut that’s all gung-ho for war, guns, and violence, and shows that the brain-washing techniques it seems like the army uses, isn’t always for the better of man. Maybe for society, but not for the man itself.

However, that’s where R. Lee Ermey comes in and proves, well: that we were right. Ermey is amazing as the drill sergeant that takes no prisoners when it comes to teaching these boys a lesson about what it means to become a solider not just of the war, but of the country as well. Ermey, whether he’s yelling out insults at people or lecturing the boys on how they should not fuck with him or he’ll fuck them right back, Ermey is always interesting, always compelling to watch, and always had me laughing. He’s the main reason why that first-half is so much better than the latter-half, and that’s why it’s a shame to see him and D’Onofrio go and leave us with the presence of Matthew Modine and a bunch of other schmoes that you’ve all seen before, you just don’t know where or when. Not to discredit them or anything, but nobody’s really as stellar as Ermey or D’Onofrio. That’s just the simple fact, Jack. I don’t know who Jack is, but I just wanted to sound cool so leave me alone.

Consensus: Even if Full Metal Jacket isn’t Kubrick’s best, it’s still a heck of a lot better than most cinema out there and proves to you that the war sucks and that everybody who gets involved with it are usually messed-up in the head, dead, or have no chance of understanding what it means to be a human-being, nor do they have a way to understand just what the hell it is that they are fighting for. It’s obvious stuff, but with Kubrick behind the camera: it’s always fascinating.

8.5 / 10 = Matinee!!

No, he is not taking a dump. He IS shooting people.

“GOD BLESS AMURRRICAAAAHHH!!!”