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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Deborah Rosan

Kill Your Friends (2016)

What’s a CD?

A&R rising star Steven Stelfox (Nicholas Hoult) is dealing with a lot in his life, but not really. While he has to try and survive in a cutthroat business that cares more about selling stuff, rather than actually making sure that the stuff they sell is actually any “good” per se, he also has to keep a lot of his homicidal tendencies toned down. But when you’re constantly fighting for the next big names in music, that’s a lot easier said then done. Eventually, Steven starts to lose control and begins letting loose; occasionally killing someone every so often, having daydreams about doing something naughty, etc. But mostly, Steven just wants to rise up the corporate ladder, which is a lot easier to actually do when you don’t have the cops breathing down your neck. After all, Steven’s considered a prime suspect in the recent murder in a colleague of his, who he may, or may not have hated with a fiery, burning passion. Steven may be scared, but he still knows how to get what he wants, especially when all anybody else in his life wants or needs is just that feeling of being rich, famous and successful – something Steven can promise to nearly anyone.

Oh, the good old days of when people associated with the music business use to be able to party hard like this.

Oh, the good old days of when people associated with the music business use to be able to party hard like this.

Kill Your Friends seems like it wants to be a satire of the music-industry, but for some reason, it’s hard to look for anything that could be deemed “crazy” or “over-the-top”, that usually have to go along with satires. For one, it’s a look at the music-industry wherein real art or talent is sacrificed for trends, popularity, or what’s considered to be “in”. Those that who may actually contain a sliver of actual talent aren’t actually looked at in any way, but instead, left to fend for themselves on much smaller markets, where nobody pays attention to them, or gives them money for doing what they do best. Meanwhile, crap-acts that are popular and well-known to the masses because of that one popular song they made, are left to live it up, making money, partying their lives away and just generally being hacks from here on out.

If this sounds like the real world, hell, any art-form that becomes popularized, well then, you understand why Kill Your Friends isn’t so much of a satire, as much as it’s just a bit of social commentary on the entertainment world.

At the same time, however, it’s also something else completely. Kill Your Friends uses the evil, maniacal, and back-stabbing world of the music-industry as a backdrop for it’s central characters sometimes homicidal tendencies, where we’re left to sit and wonder if he’s actually the worst person in this world, or if it’s just filled with a slew of bad apples, and he happens to be the most rotten out of them all. It’s almost like American Psycho where Patrick Bateman was definitely an incredibly sick, twisted and vile human being, but look at the company he keeps; is he really all that bad, or is he just the worst of them all, which isn’t totally saying much to begin with?

Kill Your Friends would love to be as smart or as fun as that movie, but instead, just wallows in its own misery. In a way, this is fine because it’s a nice juxtaposition from all of the fun-loving, spirited and poppy songs that we hear throughout, but it still doesn’t do much to actually draw you in. Whereas a movie like American Psycho realized that it was dealing with some clearly messed-up individuals and decided to have some fun with it all, Kill Your Friends wants to be all stern, serious and try to teach you a lesson. If there is any lesson to actually be learned here, it’s that the music-industry can’t be trusted and won’t just suck your spirit away, but probably also any hope you have for humanity in the world.

Clearly, this is nothing new, but hey, at least it’s nihilistic enough to keep some of this interesting.

That look you get when you've just discovered Britpop.

That look you get when you’ve just discovered Britpop.

Because, for the most part, Kill Your Friends relies heavily on its plot, that’s neither tense, nor exciting, but just a slog to get through. Occasionally, there will be a small bit of insight into the music world that really holds a mirror up, makes you think and laugh, but ultimately, it adds up to being something of worth thrown in a jumble that doesn’t always know what it wants to say or do. There’s a whole lot of cocaine, booze, sex, nudity, and British pop-jams, but for some reason, the movie’s never as exciting as any of that sounds – it just sits around, mopes around and asks for you to care about what it’s doing or saying.

If anything, Nicholas Hoult keeps the movie, as well as his antihero character, at least somewhat compelling. Hoult’s definitely grown-up a whole lot in the past few or so years, and here, as Steven Stelfox, we get to see his whole transition to adulthood basically complete itself and shows us signs of promise. While Stelfox wants to be a deeper character than he actually is, Hoult shows that there may be a tad bit more humanity to this character than originally shown, but it all sort of goes nowhere when we realize the movie is more interested in his sadistic antics, than his actual own personality, that will, on rare occasions, show brief signs of sadness, vulnerability and paranoia.

But who cares? Everybody’s making plenty of money for basically doing nothing, so what’s the point of it all?

Consensus: Kill Your Friends is neither as smart, nor as thrilling as it wants to be, but is, instead, a dry, dull, uneven and pretty boring look inside the vicious world of the music-industry that we’ve seen before and don’t have any reason to care about now.

2 / 10

This is what music will do to ya!

This is what music will do to ya!

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

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Pan (2015)

I’ve always felt like Peter Pan needed a little more Nirvana.

Everybody knows the story, but you know what? Imma tell it anyway! When he was just a baby, Peter (Levi Miller) was left on the front-stoop of an orphanage by his mother (Amanda Seyfried) who obviously couldn’t take care of him. Fast forward 12 or so years later, and Peter has grown-up a little bit, trying to make ends meet in England during WWII. One fateful night, however, he’s kidnapped by a mysterious group of pirates and taken away to this strange fantasy world known as Neverland. Here, Peter finds out that he can fly and has all sorts of mystical powers, but is currently on the run from Captain Blackbeard (Hugh Jackman), who, for one reason or another, just wants to get ahold of Peter because he has some sort of magic powers and is, for lack of a better term, “the chosen one”. Along with a newfound friend named Hook (Garret Hedlund), Peter will venture all across Neverland to escape Blackbeard and, hopefully, be able to find his mom, whom he believes to still be alive and setting up shop somewhere in this magical world of Neverland, where practically anything is possible. So long as you put your mind to it.

I guess "Polly" was off the table?

I guess Polly was off the table?

There’s a line early on in Pan that perfectly summarizes what it is that this movie thinks of itself. Garrett Hedlund’s Hook character says something, in his awfully mouthy and odd Southern accent, along the lines of, “You came here in a floating ship, I think the idea of what’s real has all but flown out the window.” Once again, I highly doubt that those are the actual words he said, but you get the point; this is basically a case of the writers and director getting together and saying, “Hey, guys. Let’s make a fun movie here. No bull. No crap. No nothing. Just fun”. And that’s what Pan actually is.

For awhile, that is.

Eventually, what happens to Pan, is that it forgets about its cheekiness and instead, delves way too deep into its own mythology where mermaids, pirates, floating boys, and white women playing Native Americans. Which, on paper, sounds so incredibly fun, and it is for a good amount of the film, but once it loses its silly edge, it gets extremely dull and boring. All of a sudden, we’re being told the story of Peter Pan once again, which is fine and all for new viewers who may have not previously known about this story already, but to the countless others who already know each and everything about it, it’ll prove to be a bit of a bore.

Which is a shame because I like what Joe Wright seems to be doing here. He knows that because the tale of Peter Pan is, essentially, a fairy tale, that he should approach it as such. There’s a whole lot of self-aware jokes here that are winking so much at the audience, that it practically breaks a bone or two in doing so. Which, honestly, is fine with me; some of the best kids movies, are those that work as well for the parents, just as they do for the kids. Sure, some of the jokes may go over the little kiddies’ heads, but honestly, they’ll be fine anyway!

After all, it’s a Joe Wright film, which means that everything’s pretty, gaudy, over-the-top, and as colorful as a Gay Pride parade, which means that for the kids, they’ll have plenty more to focus on than just the subtlety within the jokes, or the fact that the pirates in this movie endlessly chant Blitzkrieg Bop and Smells Like Teen Spirit together. Is it all weird? Kind of. But I’ll take that in my kids movies, rather than watching some same old, recycled story that just caters to the younglings and not give a single hoot about who else may be coming out to watch this movie.

Because, without us older-people, how would these kids be able to get to the movies in the first place?

But, like I said, this all begins to go down the tubes once the second-half of the movie comes into play. In fact, if I was to be even more specific as to when the movie begins to turn the other cheek, get all mega-serious and lose its sense of wacky fun, is when we’re introduced to Rooney Mara’s whitewashed Tiger Lily. That’s not to say that the casting of her to begin with is more than enough to take you out of the film (although it is quite ridiculous), but it’s the part where I realized that the movie didn’t really have anywhere else to go, or anything else fun to do. It was just going through the same old motions. Rinse. Recycle. Repeat.

Yep. Totally not white or anything.

Yep. Totally not white or anything.

While I’m at it, though, I guess I should point out that I’m not just pissed at the movie for casting a white actress in the role of an obvious and rather iconic Native American character, but because they cast Rooney Mara in the role, a talented actress who deserves a whole lot more than just this. Yes, it’s ridiculously cynical that the studios felt like they couldn’t have cast a Native American in a role that was most definitely made for one, but it’s also a waste of a supreme talent that deserves to be elsewhere and more often than not, actually shows it. Most shots of Mara here are of her just sleep-walking through her lines, occasionally letting something resembling a smile or a chuckle crack through and it just makes you want to hope that she got a solid paycheck here, so that she doesn’t have to bother with these kinds of big-budget, mainstream pieces again.

Let’s hope that she just stays in the beloved indie world, like she always has.

Aside from Mara, everybody else seems to be having fun, although nobody’s ever given that one, big push they needed to make them stand-out from the rest of the film. Hugh Jackman is clearly enjoying his time playing Blackbeard, but doesn’t get enough opportunities to seem sinister and instead, just comes off like a running-joke. I know this is a kids movie and we don’t necessarily want our villain beheading innocents to prove his menace, but at the same time, we don’t want him to just become a gag that the movie can point and laugh at, especially when we know he’s going to have to have that final showdown at the end. Garrett Hedlund is also having fun too as Hook, even though he’s merely just a sidekick that falls down, gets beaten up, and looks silly.

And Amanda Seyfried is hardly even here. Poor girl.

Consensus: Joe Wright is throwing everything at the wall with Pan and seeing what sticks, which can sometimes be fun and exciting, but at other times, can get a bit tiring and odd, even when it seems like the cast are having the times of their lives.

6 / 10

See Amanda Seyfried? Good, cause after this, you won't any longer.

See Amanda Seyfried? Good, cause after this, you won’t any longer.

The Riot Club (2015)

Rich kids get a bad rap. They’re just like you or I – except with lots more money, is all.

Milo Richards (Max Irons) is a first-year student at Oxford University and doesn’t really know what his place in the world, let alone at college. But he knows that he wants to start something up with fellow freshman Lauren (Holliday Grainger) who shows him that being popular and cool doesn’t matter once you’ve got someone special in your life. However, that doesn’t register with Milo, as he still finds himself drawn to certain people in and around the University that are deemed “cool”, or typically “posh”. That’s why when a group of young, rich hot-shots from other universities recruit Milo for what they call “the Riot Club”, he doesn’t go against it; in fact, he allows it. Once Milo’s apart of this group, he acts out in all sorts of ways he never quite expected himself to act out in the first place: Running, cursing, breaking things, partying, and generally causing all sorts of havoc. Eventually though, all of the good times Milo has with the club start to come to a close when he realizes that all of these fellas are up to no good and are absolute menaces to society – something Milo doesn’t want to be, nor associate himself with.

What we have here is another case of an interesting premise, and a movie that doesn’t know what to do with it, or how to go about saying what it wants to say in a smart, understood way. Instead, the Riot Club is a movie that wants to be two, completely different things: A) It wants to be the pint-sized version of the Wolf of Wall Street where young, British whippersnappers go around drinking, sexxing, and causing all sorts of chicanery for the hell of it, and B) It wants to be a cautionary tale for kids out there to not conform so easily to what all of the cool kids are doing, no matter how fun it may seem. The later element is a thoughtful one, but when it’s thrown-up against a movie that wants to praise the same assholes it’s talking out against, then there becomes something of a problem that’s hard to get by.

"To asshole d-baggery!"

“To asshole d-baggery, lads!”

This is a shame, too, because the Riot Club just so happens to come from the hands of Lone Scherfig, a director who seems to have fallen on the forgotten-path of life since One Day. Scherfig does a solid job of setting these characters up to be total and complete jackasses that, despite all of the fortune and fame that they may have, are absolute dicks that nobody wants to be around, let alone spend up to two hours with. However, Scherfig seems like she actually wants to hang out with them for two hours and because of that, the movie becomes a mess.

We want to not like these characters because of what they stand for – Scherfig knows this, too. However, she doesn’t allow for these characters, for the first two-halves that is, actually show their dark sides. They’re just young, rambunctious, and rowdy kids that like to cause mayhem wherever they go because, well, they can. They’re rich, spoiled and don’t have an absolute care in the world and while Scherfig may want us to like them, it’s very hard to.

That’s why when, all spoilers ahead, these d-bags get their comeuppance, it doesn’t feel organic. It feels thrown in there because Scherfig, realizing what sort of movie she was setting out to make, didn’t want to make it seem like she liked all of these characters to begin with. So, she shows them acting like a crazed lunatics that, when they have a little too much to drink, break down walls, throw tables, and beat the shit out of anybody that steps into their way. The way this is all shown at the end is a bit too cartoonish to take seriously, and not to mention that it’s all highly unbelievable.

Literally, these characters go from yelling, hooting and hollering about being rich and cool, but then, literally moments later, they’re acting like crazed lunatics in the midst of a prison riot. This would make sense of Scherfig ever made a hint of this throughout the whole piece, but she doesn’t; instead, we just see how these guys are dicks and that’s it. There’s no sign at all that they may be dangerously violent and possibly even lash-out on random, innocent people like they begin to do in the later-parts of this movie, for no reason whatsoever.

Professing your love on a roof? How original, mate.

Professing your love on a roof? How original, mate.

Maybe this is how these groups are in real life, I don’t know. All I know is that it takes an awful lot for people to start acting the way these characters do later on.

But honestly, all of the problems with the Riot Club would have been if Scherfig gave us someone worth reaching out towards and rooting for, but sadly, we don’t really get that. Sure, she gives us a sympathetic protagonist in Milo, but once you get down to the brass-tacks of this character, you realize that the only reason he’s written at all to be sympathetic, is because he doesn’t do nearly as much drinking, smoking or bad-assery as these fellows. He still does it when push comes to shove, but all he’s really got to live for is a girl and I guess that’s why he doesn’t partake as much in these hellacious activities.

That doesn’t really give us a character worth sympathizing with, let alone actually caring about, which is a huge problem where not only everybody seems to be unlikable, but are hard to really differentiate from one another. One character, played by Sam Reid, is the gay one who constantly hits on Milo, no matter how much he turns him down, but that’s pretty much it. Everybody else, from the likes of Sam Claflin to Douglas Booth, all are the same characters and hardly have any character-traits that make them seem more complex than the others. Not that there’s much to them to begin with, but hey, a little dimensions would’ve helped.

Consensus: Nobody in the Riot Club is likable, which is sort of the point of the movie, and sort of not, which makes it a non-interesting, repetitive mess.

2.5 / 10 

The bright, young faces of the new world. And for that, we're all screwed.

The bright, young faces of the new world. And for that, we’re all screwed.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB, AceShowbiz

The Gunman (2015)

If you kill, you will be killed. So just don’t kill. There’s really no point.

After sniping a well-known figure in a foreign country, international operative Jim (Sean Penn) is forced to change his life so that the organization he works for doesn’t have to worry about him getting caught, turning the other cheek, and possibly uncover all sorts of skeletons in their closet. This is a big moment in Jim’s life because he’s now not allowed to stay with his one and only love Annie (Jasmine Trinca), who is now spending time with a co-worker of Jim’s (Javier Bardem). Many years go by and out of nowhere, dangerous people start looking for Jim, declaring that they want revenge for what he did all of those years ago. Thinking that the job he completed was confidential in every which way, Jim is shocked and wants to find out the truth, even if that means going back to his checkered-past and following up with some familiar faces. Some are happy to see him, whereas others aren’t. But for Jim, he doesn’t care; he’s in a race against time where he has to find out who is responsible for all of these problems, get rid of them, and possibly clear his name in the process.

It’s odd to see Sean Penn in something like this. Not because it’s a commercialized, mainstream flick that he too often seems to be against doing too often, but because it’s the kind of commercialized, mainstream flick that seems so done to death by now: The aging-killers subgenre.

"Blimey lad! Heve a drink, will ye?"

“Blimey lad! Heve a drink, will ye?”

No matter how much time passes, Liam Neeson will always be remembered for starting this odd trend, but he sure as hell won’t be the last. Keanu Reeves, Kevin Costner, and heck, even Salma Hayek are all older acts that seem to have gotten all fed-up with pleasing certain people that think they should just move out of the way for the younger-crowd and continue to play mom or dad roles. For the most part, these movies can be hit-or-miss, but there’s no denying that they add some more appeal to the usual action-thriller that seems to be constantly plagued with the Jason Statham’s and Gerard Butler’s of the world. Not that there is anything particularly wrong with those two lads, but one can only see the same person shoot and kill so many people and not really have that formula shaken up one bit.

Which is why, like I was saying before, it’s interesting to see a class-act like Penn, do something like this.

But the real question remains: Does it actually work? Meaning, is he actually any good in the role? Or, is it simply a case of an actor trying something new because he has all of the money no shits given to do so and not worry about losing a little bit as a result? It’s a bit of a two-hander actually – while Penn isn’t bad in the movie, per se, the movie itself leaves a lot to be desired and it makes you wonder just why the hell someone as choosy and picky as Penn would bother with this in the first place.

Granted, he gets a lot to do that calls on him for the large, dramatic-moments. But he also gets to flex his ripped-body that can definitely not be what a nearly 55-year-old naturally looks like, but whatever. Color me impressed, if a little suspicious. Anyway, like I was saying, Penn does a fine job here and allows for this thinly-written character like Jim come off as someone who is easy to root for, even if we aren’t fully sure about his past actions, or how morally correct they were.

But the movie sort of throws Penn into the kind of movie where all he really has to do is deliver exposition, look upset, act frantic, and shoot the eff out of baddies. All of these things Penn does a fine enough job at to where it doesn’t seem like he’s just milking it for the cameras so that he can collect that hefty paycheck of his; it’s more that the movie leaves a lot to be desired for him to do. All of the exposition, tension, and sometimes gory violence, all lead up to a very subpar thriller that I honestly couldn’t tell you what it was all about other than that, “People chased after Sean Penn because he did a bad thing like some eight years ago.”

Other than that, I’m sort of drawing a blank.

Sunglasses: Protectors of sun, better protectors of possible CIA agents.

Sunglasses: Protectors of sun, better protectors of possible CIA agents.

Which brings me to the fact that, even though a more recent example of this same subgenre, Run All Night, was a movie more about its action, rather than anything resembling a story (although it definitely had that), it still didn’t grip me quite as well as the Gunman did when it worked. When it doesn’t work, it’s an overly-edited, wordy mess that seems to confuse exposition for “something meaningful”. However, when it does work, it’s kind of fun, but in a slimy, bloody way. Everybody’s sweating; everybody’s cursing; and everybody’s life is at-risk, and that allowed me to just join in on whatever thrill-ride the movie was able to take me on.

Trust me, it didn’t always last, but when it did, I was happy to be along for it all.

And with a movie like this, that’s all it really comes down to – the action is solid and gripping. Sure, you could argue that the movie doesn’t give much of anything to do for Javier Bardem, whose character, when he isn’t trying to bang Penn’s character girlfriend (and not at all being subtle about it), is absolutely, shit-faced drunk, and it sure as hell doesn’t allow for Idris Elba to be more than just a Christopher Walken cameo (even though all of the advertisements would have you think he practically made this movie with his own bare hands), but what’s the point in all of that? The movie tries its hand at being serious a tad too many times, but when it knows that it’s failing at that, it backs off and just lets Sean Penn hoot, holler, and shoot people.

What’s so wrong about enjoying that, people?

Consensus: As a melodramatic thought-piece about what’s really happening on foreign soils, the Gunman trips, falls and embarrasses itself, but eventually realizes this and just gets back to the moments where it’s Sean Penn surfing, smoking and killing people.

5 / 10

"Better look out next time, paparazzo."

“Better look out next time, paparazzo.”

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB, AceShowbiz

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

Yeah, those “other” Marvel heroes are just a bunch of pricks anyway.

After he sees his own, cancer-riddled mother die in front of his own very eyes, Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) is mysteriously captured by a spaceship. 26 years later, an older Quill, now sporting the name “Star-Lord” and dancing around to vintage pop-tunes on his Walkman, discovers a strange crystal ball that is apparently very dangerous and serious, considering it triggers off a group of evil people to come after him. So much so, that when he eventually gets into town and sell the thing for whatever money he can get, he ends up getting in a brawl with a woman by the name of Gamora (Zoe Saldana), as well as a giant tree named Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel), and a talking raccoon they call Rocket (Bradley Cooper). The stunt eventually lands the foursome in prison, where they meet all sorts of trouble and unlikely pals, especially in the form of Drax (Dave Bautista); but what they end up finding out is that the artifact they were all fighting over, is being sought out after by a very powerful, very evil Kree radical named Ronan (Lee Pace) and his noble band of trustees. Together, the five decide to put away their differences for the time being and do all that they can to save the galaxy, one David Bowie track at a time.

Going into this flick, I wasn’t expecting much. Honestly, that moreso has to do with the fact that every Marvel movie since the Avengers, has either been ranging from “mediocre”, to “hey, it’s fine and it’s fun, so what’s the harm, yo?”, and also the fact that it seems like, especially after this whole Ant-Man debacle, that Marvel is becoming more of a lackey-boy for the ultra, super, duper, powerful kingpins that are Disney and their ways of making people do what they want, when they want, and how they want.

“Don’t offend the kiddies!”, Disney may say. Or, something that seems to be more common, “Please do make sure that it ties-in with the AGENTS of S.H.I.E.L.D.! And by ‘please’, we really mean, ‘do it, or else we’re going to fire your ass and find somebody else who is willing to take orders and be happy with it!'”. And though some of this may seem overly-dramatized by yours truly, there’s something in me that feels like Marvel is just starting to become more and more like what others want them to be, rather than what they want to be, which, at first with Iron Man, seemed to be: A kick-ass, fun-as-hell, hilarious and exciting superhero movie that you could take the whole family too; as well as grand-mom and grand-pop if you got stuck with them over the holidays.

That's the thingy they need to find. That's all you need to know.

That’s the thingy they need to find. That’s all you need to know.

But that’s where James Gunn comes in and absolutely gives a big, old, flying “FUCKA YOU!” to Disney and Friends, and shows them that if it’s his movie, it’s going to be his rules and his ways of having fun. Which, for the most part, means we get a whole bunch of strange, slightly off-kilter gags and pop-culture references including Kevin Bacon; metaphors that aren’t metaphors; Jackson Pollack; the art of dancing; and, best of all, calling a raccoon, everything else that isn’t a raccoon. If that sounds very strange to you, then yes, you are at least somewhat sane. And if that sounds especially strange to you being that it’s all packed into a Marvel movie, then yes, you are even more sane and, would you like a cookie?

What I’m trying to get across here is that Gunn’s humor is a weird one and although some of it’s a bit tamer now so that the PG-13 can sit and stay with the movie, it’s still hilarious and nearly perfect for this world that he’s created. That this other “realm” (for lack of a better word without saying “galaxy”), is a wide, never ending and seemingly bizarre matter of space that seems to have a bucket of surprises waiting at every corner, shows Gunn is able to not only build on his characters and the action-sequences, but also this world that he’s created. Which, yes, for a Marvel movie, is very strange, yet, totally works.

Most of that has to do with the fact that each and every character we get here is likable, fun, vibrant and exciting in their own measly, little ways, but most of that also has to do with the fact that Gunn is the kind of writer and director that has a sense of humor that can work for practically anyone. Okay, maybe if you check out his first two movies (Slither and Super, which I definitely recommend), don’t necessarily back me up on that statement, but taking away all of those and just leaving this here movie as his one and only true example, then I’d have to say it’s a pretty impressive one.

Gunn’s funny, he knows he’s funny and he’s going to let us know about it every step of the way. However, whereas most of the other Marvel movies wink their eyebrows so much so that it seems like they’re going to have to be surgically put back into place by the end of its two-hour run-time, GOTG (short for the title, if you’re nitwit) is a different beast: It’s a funny movie, yet, doesn’t try to make you laugh in a charming way. It’s just weird and since it soaks up the sun and basks in its own weirdness, it’s hilarious to watch and listen to, as well as have an awfully fun time with.

Because, yeah, guess what??!?! Guardians of the Galaxy is a damn fun movie!

See, because while I’ve been going on and on so aimlessly about this movie’s humor and how effective it actually is, there’s an element to this movie that works, and can probably be shared among the rest of the Marvel crowd: It’s a fine action movie, if you want to look at it like that. There are hand-to-hand fights; spaceships flying throughout the sky and shooting each other; sword-duels; girls beating the crap out of each other; girls beating the crap out of the opposite-sex; raccoons shooting big-ass guns; walking, talking trees causing havoc; and etc. The only thing that’s missing was the only known wrestler in this movie giving somebody a Batista Bomb, but that’s for another movie, I guess.

And since I just mentioned a certain character in this movie, I think it’s best to now use that as a segue into my next part of the review which, unsurprisingly, also happens to be about the best element to making this movie work as well as it does: The characters and the actors that portray them. Because Gunn’s movie/script is a rather odd one, not only does he need a cast that has a comedic-bone anywhere located in their body – he needs a cast is absolutely able and willing to go that extra mile into trusting that his every move, is not only a benefit to them, but a benefit to how this whole movie plays out. “Well obviously, Dan. You no-sense-piece-of-shit”, you might retort back to me, but I have a reasoning for saying this.

Take the idea of a-list stars such as Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel doing voice-work here – not only are they big names that people flock out to the movie theaters to see – but you’d expect them to do more than what they’re given. In the case of Cooper, he voices Rocket as Brooklyn gangster, where it’s sometimes too hard to even recognize he’s doing the voice-work in the first place; as in the case of Diesel, all the dude has to do is say “I Am Groot” over and over again, and, occasionally, yell, scream and holler with that low-pitched bass we know he can do so well. Sounds crazy enough? Well, yeah, but that’s sort of the point. Also not to mention that Cooper and Diesel, with what they have to do, do it so amazingly well that I wonder just how the heck Gunn thought of them two in the first place. And even if he didn’t, then kudos to the casting-department on this decision!

Oh, and that he's the villain, too!

Oh, and that he’s the villain, too!

But an even bigger kudos should be given to them for giving Chris Pratt the star-making role the dude deserves, this time, as one Peter Quill. Or, as some of you may, or may not know him as, “Star-Lord” (and yes, that’s it’s own, whole joke, too). Pratt’s been a lovable presence on the screen for quite some time; rather it be the large one, or the small one, the dude’s shown us time and time again, he has the chops to not only give us a cool-as-hell character, that has a winning-personality. Here, Pratt’s able to utilize the warm, lovely charm he oozes so well on Parks and Rec., but is also able to use some leading-man prowess we have yet to see him do, yet still shows he’s capable of actually having it in the first place.

But he’s not a pansy of a character. He’s a bad-ass dude that knows how to get himself out of situations, even while he doesn’t always think them perfectly through. Same goes for Zoe Saldana as Gamora; not only does she get to be an ass-kicking lady with a mouth on her, she doesn’t let that be her only trait and has a personality that goes almost hand-in-hand with Quills’. And though people were initially rioting over the casting-decision of having Dave Bautista play Drax, needless to say, the dude’s great in it as he shows everybody he can definitely act, be funny and best of all, remind everybody why he was in the profession that he initially chose in the first place.

Altogether though, this movie mostly works because these characters, in their own, little, unique worlds, wouldn’t ever seem like they do fine together. That’s sort of the point, however, Gunn allows them to work off of one another and it’s probably the most fun-part of this whole movie. Sure, you can give me as many mind-numingly loud and outrageous scenes of stuff exploding, while other stuff is exploding elsewhere, and I’ll crack a grin or two. But if you can give me characters that I want to get know better, spend more time with, and just never leave the presence of, then you can count me in, take my money, sleep in my bed, bang my wife, whatever. As long as you can give me that, then I’m all fine and dandy.

And to have that spliced together with the best Marvel movie since the Avengers is, well, exactly all I could ever ask for and ever want.

More Batista Bombs next time, though. Please.

Consensus: Hilarious, exciting, and well-written, Guardians of the Galaxy is a downright good time that features some top-tier performances from a cast you’d be surprised works so incredibly well in the first place, yet, in the world of James Gunn, anything seems possible.

9 / 10 = Full Price!!

The best line-up in a "line-up" scene since the Usual Suspects, and it's not even in the actual movie!

The best line-up in a “line-up scene” since the Usual Suspects, and it’s not even in the actual movie!

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB, AceShowbiz

Edge of Tomorrow (2014)

Just as long as I’m not apart of it, Tom Cruise can re-live any point in his existence that he wants.

After a mix-up that leaves him confused and totally out-of-his-element, Major William Cage (Tom Cruise) gets sent to the front-lines in a current war between humans and aliens known as “Mimics”. Cage clearly has no idea what to do with these new battle-suits the government has issued, yet, has no problem in taking out one alien on the battle-field. However, in doing so, he dies as well. But, moments later, finds himself woken-up, back to a moment in which he was getting brought into the war camp. He knows that he’s experienced this moment before and tries to plead his case to everyone around him, yet, no one wants to hear it and continues sending him out into the battlefield. And yet, time and time again, Cage wakes up, same place, same people, same situations, and same memory. Yet, during one of these adventures, a fellow, very respected soldier by the name of Rita Vratasky (Emily Blunt), wonders about Cage and tells him to, “come and see me when you wake up”. Cage does and together, the two cobble-up a master-plan in which, together, they’ll have to find the source to where all of these Mimics are coming from, where, hopefully, they’ll be able to stay safe enough where they can die and do it all over again. However, if they can’t and somehow get a blood-transfusion of any sorts, then the day will stop repeating, therefore meaning, everyone will die and never come back to life. Case closed.

Oh, look at Tom Cruise still thinking he's over six-foot tall.

Oh, look at Tom Cruise still thinking he’s over six-foot tall.

Pretty sure that I could have summed all of that up by saying it’s “Groundhog Day meets Independence Day“, but there’s more to this movie than just that. See, it’s a gimmick-movie in which it’s a war movie that just so happens to repeat itself, time and time again; but then again, calling it a “gimmick movie”, would give one the impression that this a movie that relies solely on that gimmick, without barely anything else substantial made in the process.

However, that’s not the case with Edge of Tomorrow, because while it’s a premise I’m sure we’ve all seen done before, there’s something special about it being used here. For instance, that movie Source Code had the same Groundhog Day-gimmick going for itself, yet, where that movie seemed to try almost too hard to where it fell on its feet more times than it should have, Edge of Tomorrow really feels like a movie that has everything perfectly planned-out to where they’ll be no confusion from anybody, at anytime whatsoever. Sure, there’s a lot of sci-fi gibbery-goo that gets spouted out on more than a few occasions, but that just acts as simple exposition; it’s only real purpose is to give us a reason to believe what it is we’re seeing in this movie, as well as to move the plot along. That’s it.

If you care about not being able to believe anything that happens in this movie, then don’t watch it, because it is relatively goofy. Then again, the idea that a person could live one day, over and over again, without any real, life-long consequences, is goofy in and of itself. However, this movie knows that and really runs wild with the idea that somebody could experience the same battle, over and over again, while simultaneously, still finding a way to end it all. It sounds like it could be easily convoluted and messy, but director Doug Liman gets through most of it all by just having a great time with this material and realizing that audience-members want fun with premises like this.

Everything you’d expect this Cage guy to go through, emotionally and physically, while “graced” with this talent, he goes through and it’s always believable and interesting. Not to mention, it’s also pretty fun to see a deuche bag, played by Tom Cruise, get his ass handed to him on more than a few occasions. But Tom Cruise being Tom Cruise, he’s a good sport for whatever this material allows him to do and once again, I can hardly find a problem with this guy’s performance, which is mainly due to the fact that he’s playing a character who is well-written as is.

What’s so neat about William Cage is that, early on, we get the idea that he’s a total prick; he’s the kind of guy who will dedicate mostly all of his life to getting that desk-job, just so that he doesn’t have to worry about getting his hands dirty. We find this out early on and it makes us see him as nothing other than an a-hole who deserves to be taken off of his high-horse, by any means necessary. It’s great to see Cruise play somebody that’s a tad unlikable again, as well as somebody that’s allowed to grow over time. Because “grow”, is exactly what Cage does and it’s all pretty believable too. Cage does grow a conscience over time, and though the advertisements may have you think otherwise, it isn’t because he wants to get his bone jumped by Emily Blunt’s fine British rump; it’s more because he actually wants to save humanity and doesn’t want to let his powers go to waste.

She just had a child, mind you.

She just had a child, mind you.

Speaking of Emily Blunt, she does a very great job as this bad-ass soldier Rita Vratasky. Blunt got pretty ripped-up for this role and while we don’t necessarily get too many shots of her in all her lovely, sweaty-form, we do get to see her beat the hell out of these alien-like creatures, and it’s pleasing to watch. Also the more pleasing is that she isn’t a female character included to just be Cruise’s on-screen love-interest; she serves the plot and actually brings a lot of heart to material that can be pretty grim at times. She does that “sad-but-sort-of-angry-face” very well and that’s displayed on more than a few occasions here, yet, builds her character more and more into making her someone we can get behind, even while her decisions may not always be the best for herself or Cage.

I know that sounds all very corny and too “hurrah! hurrah”!, even by my standards, but this is what can happen to a moviegoer like me – a person who has seen more movies in his life than he can probably count. If you give me a premise that’s well thought-out and doesn’t noticeably trip over itself more than a handful of times, then yeah, count me in for the ride baby! That’s not to say there aren’t a few problems here and there with this movie, but honestly, I didn’t let too many of them get in the way of a movie that wanted to treat me to some fine, thrilling, and action-packed summer fun. And heck, if a movie can throw in a nice helping of “smart” in there, then hey, I’m all for that.

In fact, bring more of it. Please.

Consensus: While Edge of Tomorrow has a gimmick we’ve all seen done before, the circumstances are different, therefore, we’re treated to more excitement, fun, wit, and a movie that is at least smart enough to know when to joke around, and when to lay down its cards and be serious as well, without hardly ever losing its audience.

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

"So uh, after all of this war stuff, you want to grab a bite to eat or possibly convert to a different religion? You know, or whatever you want to do."

“So uh, after all of this war stuff is over, you want to grab a bite to eat or possibly convert to a new religion? You know, or whatever you want to do.”

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBAceShowbiz

Dom Hemingway (2014)

Don’t drunk and drive, kids. Or go to jail for 12 years. Or do drugs. Or, simply, just don’t do anything bad.

It’s been quite a long time since Dom Hemingway (Jude Law) has been out in the outside world (12 years to be exact), but he finally gets released one day, where he goes back to doing everything he once did before. He collects debts; has sex with women; does blow like nobody’s business; drink; illegally smoke tobacco inside of a pub; hang out with his close-buddy Leftie (Richard E. Grant); kick the shit out of the man who married his wife when he was thrown in jail; and try his damn near hardest to reconnect with his estranged daughter (Emilia Clarke). The only problem is that Dom has a bit of a temper-issue, which more often than not, has gotten him into trouble in the past, and seems to be getting him in even more trouble now when he realizes that he’s out of money and needs a new gig. Being the swift heist-man that he is, with the niftiest of fingers, he decides to go back to his old ways of breaking into concealed-vaults; something that’s a lot harder now with every vault being electronic, thus throwing Dom off of his game. Thus, as a result, making Dom even more pissed-off with everything and everyone around him.

It’s been a long while since I’ve seen something in which Jude Law really wow’d me. Not saying that he’s a bad actor by any means – in fact, he’s a terribly consistent one. He always shows up in movies, acts, does what he has to do, look charming, get his paycheck and continue on to the next project in which he’ll do the same exact thing. There’s nothing wrong with that really, especially if you’re somebody whose been surviving in Hollywood since the mid-to-late-90’s, but there is something to be said for an actor who has always been around, but really hasn’t had that one, amazing performance in which he’s knocked down all of the doors and showed us his true talents as an actor.

Hey, uhm, whose driving?

Hey, uhm, whose driving?

I think Dom Hemingway may in fact be that performance we’ve all, myself included, have been waiting for.

What Law does so well here as Dom Hemingway, unlike from anything else we’ve ever seen him do, is be brass, crass and all sorts of detestable. Dom Hemingway, by creation, is a dirty, mean son-of-a-bitch that looks as if he’s stumbled out of the pubs from the 70’s, and into the modern-era in which none of the kids want anything to do with his old, grungy ass, and just want to hang out and drink their Pabst Blue Ribbons alone and in peace. He’s always wanting to get pissed, get some blow, bang some fine ladies, and start trouble with anybody who dares to ever step up to him. Because of that, we’re supposed to dislike him and think he’s just a total jack-ass that doesn’t our sympathy, or even time of day – but somehow, Law makes us do just that.

Law is every bit as loud as he’s ever been in a movie before. With Hemingway, Law’s asked to be a total sleaze-ball, but a sleaze-ball that is always making those around him feel uncomfortable. Not just because he always seems to do and say the wrong things, at the wrong time, and to the wrong people especially, but because he’s just so damn unpredictable with his actions. One second, he’ll be so drunk that he’ll be offending and screaming at the most powerful mob-boss in all of Europe; but then, the next second, be totally cool, calm and suave at the dinner-table, with the same guy he was just insulting clear to his face. So yeah, Dom Hemingway is not an easy character to pin-point down, but that’s why it’s so amazing to see Law tackle a hard task like that and seemingly get through it all without making us ever seem like he’s trying too hard to be something that he clearly isn’t.

Sure, the receding hair-line, chin-strap facial-hair, and over-worked jaw-line may also have something to do with that, but for the most part, it’s Jude Law that makes us believe in somebody like Dom Hemingway.

The same actor whom, ten years ago, was most known for tappin’ his nannies and filling in Michael Caine’s shoes, in a movie most of us would like to just forget about by now.

But there’s a reason why I’m talking so much about Jude Law’s performance in the first place because, as much as I hate to say it, the rest of the movie doesn’t really live up to everything he does. The supporting cast is good here – with Richard E. Grant being a particular stand-out as Hemingway’s close buddy/voice of reason – and there were a few moments in which I had no clue what Dom was going to do next and how it was going to affect him and those around him. But, like I said, there just wasn’t much else here to really keep me going and all that interested.

Practically me, every night of the past week.

Practically me, every night of the past week.

There’s a twist that occurs somewhere around the half-way mark in which the tone of the movie sort of changes and we see how Dom’s life goes from shit, to even shittier in about a matter of a couple of minutes. The surprising switch itself is one that I think writer/director Richard Shepard pulled-off well, but he does with that feels sort of like an after-thought; almost as if the only idea for this movie was to focus on how much fun it is to watch Jude Law yell, rather than actually give us a plot, or even much character-development really. Then again, we do get some character-development here for Dom, it’s just that a lot of it seems so cheap and over-used.

Like, for instance, the whole idea that Dom’s daughter absolutely hates his guts because he left her and her mother all alone, with nobody to care for them at all, isn’t anything new, but you could do so much with that to make it feel genuine and heartfelt. Here, it felt like Shepard knew he wanted it to be the sweet aspect about the movie that the more emotional moviegoers would enjoy more than just seeing Jude Law eat cocaine like breakfast cereal, so he didn’t put much thought into it. All we get are a couple of arguments that go nowhere except show us that Dom’s daughter doesn’t like him and doesn’t want to give him a chance to get to know her better and make up for lost times, which then makes Dom want to go out and go back to his old ways of pulling-off heists.

For some reason, I didn’t see the connection and I sort of wish I did. It not only would have made the movie more interesting as it went along, but would have made a lot more sense to me once Dom started going nuts and humping vaults. Yeah, it gets a little nuts, but that’s all this movie seems to want to be: Nuts, with Jude Law providing most of that craziness for us.

Consensus: Though Jude Law clearly carries Dom Hemingway on his bulky shoulders and booze-breath, the rest of it doesn’t feel as well thought-out or interesting, it’s almost too in awe of its own main character.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

The only way Dom Hemingway knows how to make an entrance: Through the damn wall.

The only way Dom Hemingway knows how to make an entrance: Through the damn wall.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderComingSoon.net

Cuban Fury (2014)

Sorry, C-Tates, but the Brits may have this one.

Bruce Garrett (Nick Frost) used to be a huge-lover of dancing. One in particular – salsa dancing. He and his sister (Olivia Colman) were dance partners, who were coached by a dance legend (Ian McShane), and were destined for great and wonderful things in the world of dancing. However, at around age 13, Bruce lost all interest when he was beaten-up by a bunch of bullies who consider him a bit of a “wuss” for wanting to wear tight-clothing, prissy-shoes and dance his fanny off. Right away, this took Bruce away from the idea of dancing, and more towards the idea of just being an average Joe. Fast forward many years later, and well, that’s exactly what he is – he’s single, works a dead-end, 9-to-5 job, has a co-worker he can’t stand (Chris O’Dowd), and hangs with a bunch of buddies who only talk about girls they think are hot, despite them all being married and with kids. However, one shine of light walks into his life with a new boss of his (Rashida Jones), who, believe it or not, actually has an interest in salsa dancing herself. This is when Bruce decides that it’s time to go back to his old ways and start moving and grooving his rump, all in hopes to win the girl of his dreams. The only problem is that it’s been quite awhile since he’s stepped foot on a dance-floor, which not only means he’s a bit rusty, but also out-of-shape. Way, WAY out-of-shape, to be exact.

Eyes ahead, buddy!

Eyes ahead, buddy!

We’ve all seen Nick Frost before, usually as the lovable, goofy side-kick that is there to serve the story, but isn’t necessarily the one our main focus-point is on. Which, for most people, including Frost himself, is fine. There are just some actors and actresses out there who are better served as supporting-players that are there for rare delights, rather than being the center of attention, where they are more than likely going to be spoiled after about an-hour-and-a-half of just them.

But, seeing as how Frost has been in the game for quite some time, it makes sense that now he would get the chance to be the star of his own show, and what a unique show it is to see him apart of. Never thought I’d imagine him dancing, nor did I imagine him playing the straight-man, but here he is: Not only doing a lot of salsa dancing, but barely ever cracking a joke that doesn’t fall flat on its face like it is supposed to. It’s strange to see anybody whom we often proclaim as being “the goof-ball”, not be as such, but Frost, believe it or not, does well with it.

Then again, he isn’t given too much else to do other than just be charming, while also being a normal-person, but he handles it all fine. Heck, even the dancing, which, from what I hear, is mostly him, is impressive as well. Definitely didn’t seem like an easy-feet, given the fact that he is, strictly speaking, not in the best shape for being a salsa dancing, but that clearly didn’t get in the way of being apart of this movie. He’s happy he’s starring in it and the feeling is mutual.

Overall, it’s a pretty happy movie.

That’s why it’s hard to come down on a movie like this for being so conventional and obvious. You can tell every note that’s going to hit, from a mile away and there are almost no surprises. Maybe even worse, is that it’s not really all that funny. There’s many jokes made at the fact that dancing is sort of, kind of, maybe not for straight-dudes who are in touch with their masculinity and the ladies they bring to their bed every night, and by now, they all seem a bit tired. Even the character of Bejan, an ultra-feminine fellow dancer, played charmingly by Keyvan Novak, seems like the kind of “gay best-friend”-type you’d get in a rom-com. The only difference of him being here is that he just so happens to be the gay-friend of another male, but that’s just about it. Nothing else is really be out-of-the-ordinary, or even shocking for that matter.

Popped-collar? What a dick.

Popped-collar? Total dick.

Instead, where this movie’s strong-suit really lies in, is the fact that it’s cast is having a fun time. In fact, the one I’d say whom is having the most fun out of all is Chris O’Dowd as Bruce’s co-worker who is an absolute and total dick. It’s actually the role we don’t see O’Dowd too often play, but believe it or not, he’s actually quite great in it and it’s nice to see him shake things up a bit. Maybe he’s a bit too over-the-top with the nasty and cruel things he says to a person, almost to the point of where you don’t even believe that he’s never gotten socked in the face recently by anyone, but I feel like that’s more of just how far O’Dowd may have been willing to go with his improvisations. Also, I can’t rain too much on his parade, considering that he’s the second cast-member in this movie that was actually able to draw some laughs out of me.

That other person who made me laugh a whole heck of a lot was Ian McShane, who I honestly feel like they just called-in at the last second, and he decided to show up whenever he felt like it. Whatever the reason was, it doesn’t matter, because he’s always funny and always stealing the show; just like you’d imagine every Ian McShane performance being written as.

I would hate to even forget to mention Rashida Jones’ love-interest character, or even Olivia Colman as Bruce’s likable, spirited sister, but the fact is this: They are just fine. Jones seems like she may be able to break-out of that Ann Perkins-mode she’s created for herself, but this may not be the movie to do so; and as for Colman, well, she gives some levity to a role that could have easily been written-off as “the sister of the main character who is there to shed some advice on his life, even though she may not have it all figured-out like she says” type of role. Yeah, it’s a long description, but you know what I’m talking about.

Consensus: Not as crackling with humor as much as it should be, Cuban Fury gets by on the utter-charm and likability of its cast, because everything else is pretty standard, even by comedy’s standards.

6 / 10 = Rental!!

"No Simon or Edgar around, it's finally my time to shine."

“No Simon or Edgar around, it’s finally my time to shine.”

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014)

In case you didn’t know, he’s an analyst.

CIA junior analyst Jack Ryan (Chris Pine) works on Wall Street in hopes that he may spot some dirty trading going on between big-time politicians and terrorist organizations, in hopes that he can stop a possible a terrorist attack if the situation calls for that. However, his latest bout of curiosity gets the best of him this time with one Viktor Cherevin (Kenneth Branagh), a smart, charming and rather sinister Russian who plans on taking down the whole economy for his, as well his own Mother Russia’s self-gain. But the problem isn’t that Ryan can’t stop this, it’s that he’s not too sure about it in the first place to stop it, that’s when his superior (Kevin Costner) decides to promote him to being a field-agent. That means Jack’s going to have to do a lot more than just talking, crunching-numbers and writing some valuable information down – he’s actually going to have to kick some booty! If the situation calls for it, that is. And more than likely, the situation does call for it, however, it gets worse once Ryan’s long-time girlfriend, nurse Cathy Muller (Keira Knightley), gets involved with the mission by pure accident and has to go through the same motions as her boy is going through, in hopes that she not only doesn’t get her or Jack killed, but thousands and thousands of Americans in New York.

"How ya doing, son? And to answer your question: Yes, being 58 does look this good."

“How ya doing, son? And to answer your question: Yes, being 58 does look this good.”

There’s been a lot of chatter going on about this new Jack Ryan movie and even from the very start, I knew that none of it was deserved. See, January movies have the reputation for being terribly shitty, worthless, forgettable and only released so that the major-studios can make a quick buck; and rightfully so, too, because more than often not, that has been the case. But that’s the weird dilemma that Jack Ryan finds itself in: Should it have moved its release-date to being placed in the dreaded month of January, in which everybody is practically playing “Oscar catch-up”? Or, should it have tried to stick it out on Christmas Day like it was originally intended to be?

Well, to be honest, I can’t answer that question because, as we all know, there’s higher-powers out there in Hollywood that manage this type of stuff and no way in hell are any of them going to listen to a 20-year-old blogger, who is currently typing this now as we speak, in a Heisenberg T-shirt and polka-dot boxers. So yeah, obviously I have no say or pull, but it still brings up a big question nonetheless: Do all January movies have to be so shitty?

The answer is a resounding “no”; and I think that Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is definitely going to turn-over a new leaf in hopes that we at least get a bit better-quality movies in the month in which time pretty much forgets about (especially for movie-goers).

Anyway, all of that business-talk aside, there is a movie to discuss here and like I hinted towards earlier, it’s not as bad as people are making it out to be, based solely on its release-date and rather vague trailers. And to be honest, yes, they weren’t all that promising to begin with but I knew that deep down in my heart, with the talent involved here, that I wasn’t going to be let-down. Because, let’s face it, each and every one of us were surprised by the fact that not only was Thor a pretty good movie, but it was a pretty good action movie. Better yet, make that pretty good action movie, directed by none other than Mr. Kenneth Branagh himself. Seemed very strange at the time, but in hindsight, it surprisingly worked in the way that a superhero movie, let alone a Marvel superhero movie needed to: It was fun, quick, punchy, humorous and had all of the drama only a dignified Shakespeare-thespian could fully understand.

Like we all know though, Branagh didn’t return for the sequel, which meant that he wanted to do this and I’m glad he did because for some reason, it feels a lot more “classier” with him around. It’s not like the movie harkens back to any of those old-school, 70’s/80’s/early-90’s thrillers, but it definitely reminds you of a good, old-fashioned thriller that doesn’t try to re-invent the wheel by any means necessary, but does try to give you enough jumps, thrills, spills, chuckles and fun for the whole time you spend with it. That’s why I think Branagh, despite a few hiccups here and there along the way, gets the job done quite efficiently, without ever focusing too much on the story, or the action. We get a nice-balance between the two and makes this feel like a thriller, with some substance for anybody that may be searching for some.

Also though, it should be noted that the guy knows how to rack-up tension pretty damn well, in certain ways I didn’t even know he had the capability of. For instance, there’s this pretty nifty sequence in which Jack Ryan goes from one building to another and has to hack into a computer-system; but while he is doing this, simultaneously, Chervin is getting worked over by Ryan’s girlfriend, with a clock just tick, tick, ticking away in the background. It’s a sequence in which we know how it’s all going to end, but we don’t know how the pieces are going to fall and align together, and to watch as Branagh keeps us guessing, while on-the-edge of our seats at the same time, truly is something fun to be apart of.

Branagh also does something smart in how he’s able to get a good cast together and make something, out of nothing. Mainly, the character of Jack Ryan, who, as we all know, has never been an easy character to pull-of. For one, he’s incredibly smart and has to make you believe that he can punch, and/or yell-out numbers like it’s what he was born to do, while also assuring you that he can kick some fine booty, if the situation ever calls for it. However, as hard as that balance may be to work with, Chris Pine does a very nice job in giving us both sides to this character, without ever losing the charm that’s made him such a lovable-presence in the first place. There’s some knowing-winks here and there, and you may even get a Captain Kirk-like wisecrack or two, but altogether, Chris Pine is Jack Ryan and if the franchise was to continue on with him in the lead role, I think they’d definitely be in some safe hands.

"Excoose me, meece, but vould you vike to come back to vy humble abode and drvink some VVVVVodka with vme?"

“Excoose me, meece, but vould you vike to come back to vy humble abode and drvink some vodka with vme?”

Everybody else is pretty fun, too, although I have to still give credit to Kenneth Branagh for keeping everything small and sweet for what it was. We only get a few big characters here and there, and the rest are all window-dressing – which is all fine, considering that the heavy-hitting, big characters are played pretty-well by the cast. I’ve never seen a director cast himself as the villain in his own movie, but for what it’s worth, Branagh’s pretty fun, charming and suave, in a “I’ll kill you with a blink of my eye” kind-of-way. He’s certainly hamming it up, but it’s all in good fun, which makes it a lot easier to enjoy. Same goes for Kevin Costner and Keira Knightley, who both play sides on Ryan’s end, while never making you so sure what they’re going to do next. Especially Costner who, by now, has pretty much cemented his role as the steel-faced, dead-pan guy you can call on to deliver what is basically exposition, but deliver it in such a compelling way, you’ll feel like you must need to listen. A lot of credit goes to Knightley, too, who is sadly given the role of the “annoying girlfriend who just wants love and attention from her boyfriend”, but handles it well, and in ways, gets her own chances to shine and show that she can stick-up for herself when the going gets going.

Still though: She’s no Anne Archer. Then again, no woman could ever be.

However, as much as I go on and on about this, I do have to state the fact that this is not a perfect movie by any means: there are a few times where the action gets a bit too indecipherable with all of the shaky-cam going on, and certain plot-points/twists are a bit confusing, especially to the common-ear. But in all, when it comes right down to making this a fun, action-thriller, that just so happens to be trying to catapult a new franchise onto the horizon, I have to say that I feel like we’re stepping with the right foot this time.

Now, granted, this movie could definitely bomb, and bomb BIG TIME at the box-office, almost to never be heard of again, but I for one hope that isn’t the case. If Branagh continues to direct, then I definitely don’t want this franchise to just stand and collapse with the blink of an eye; there is some nice, nifty details here and there that could definitely spin this story into some new foreign territory, in which we continue to see characters develop more, but also the action, along with the budget, get a lot wider and more expansive. Then again though, this could be all me just talking out of my arse by hoping for the best, while expecting the worst, so I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

Consensus: Not the most memorable action-thriller involving spies you’ll ever see, but still fun, thrilling and exciting enough to make Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit a good time at the movies, as well as possibly the first of a soon-to-be franchise. Fingers crossed, people.

7.5 / 10 = Rental!!

I guess the Enterprise was in the shop?

I guess the Enterprise was in the shop?

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net