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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Dougray Scott

Taken 3 (2015)

This family should just never step outside ever again.

After a few run-ins with foreign thugs, Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) can finally sit back, relax, and soak in that his family, for once in what seems like an eternity, is safe and sound. His daughter (Maggie Grace) seems to be spending some lovely time with her new boyfriend (Jonny Weston), as well as getting an education in college; his ex-wife (Famke Janssen), is also currently dating (Dougray Scott), but doesn’t know whether or not she should take it to the next level; and there’s even a possibility of their being another member of the Mills family. However, that all goes away once Bryan’s ex-wife mysteriously turns up dead and, wouldn’t you know it, Bryan’s the one who is framed for it. Without standing by and allowing for himself to be wrongfully imprisoned, Bryan takes justice into his own hands, goes on the run, and does whatever he can to clear his name. That means kicking a lot of ass, questioning a lot of folks, and figuring out just who the hell is behind all of this. Also trying to do the same is Inspector Franck Dotzler (Forest Whitaker), somebody who believes Bryan is innocent, even if he can’t fully prove it just yet.

"Act your age, missy!"

“Act your age, missy!”

Unlike everybody else on the face of the planet, I was never so hot with the Taken franchise to begin with. Sure, it was a neat concept – place an aging-actor, well-respected actor in an action-packed, take-no-names role and just let him be as menacing and scary as humanly possible. However, both movies hardly ever did anything for me. The first Taken was too serious for its own good, and if we’re being honest here, Taken 2 may have been a bit better for me, if only because it was absolutely balls-out wild and hardly ever made excuses for itself. Action movies that are like always win my heart, even if they do feature one of their characters throwing random grenades all over a city.

But hey, let bygones be bygones.

Now, with Taken 3, it seems like the franchise has finally hit its peak, or I guess, lack thereof. The story itself always showed signs of getting old, tired and stale, and that’s exactly what this movie proves as fact. There’s no real story here, except that Liam Neeson is on the run in a Fugitive-kind of way, where we’re left to sit back and enjoy all of the crazy, adrenaline-fueled close-calls he runs into to protect his life, as well as his family members. Honestly, it’s kind of a bore to watch, which shouldn’t at all be the case.

Some of that problem is due to the fact that the story just isn’t all that engaging to begin with, but it’s also because Olivier Megaton’s direction is constantly irritating. Rather than allowing for us to see how an action-sequence plays out, who is affected in it and why, Megaton feels the urgent need to shake the camera up all over the place, and cut every single shot that comes the slightest bit close to hitting four seconds. In a way, it’s almost nauseating and makes it seem like Megaton knows he’s not working with anything worth writing home about, so he just does whatever he can to distract us, in the most manipulatively obvious way possible.

Where’s Tony Scott when you need him?

Also, let me not forget to mention that this movie is PG-13 in the worst kind of way possible. People get their throats slit, shot in the face, blow-up in car accidents, stabbed in the abdomens, and so on and so forth, and there is absolutely no blood to be found. I get that the powers that be behind Taken 3 wanted to appeal to a larger-audience, so rather than scaring the hell out of anyone who wanted to have a good old time at the theater and not think of the harsh consequences for such violent acts as these, they wanted to soften it all up, without showing any sort of ketchup whatsoever. Like with Megaton’s direction, Taken 3 is made solely to distract you from the real problems that may be lurking within the movie itself and rather than being sly, or even coy about it, it’s easy to pick apart every little problem it has, which makes it all the easier to see why this trilogy needs to end, and end now.

"Excuse me, miss? Have you seen my agent anywhere? They seriously need to be fired."

“Excuse me, miss? Have you seen my agent anywhere? They seriously need to be fired.”

Which is definitely a shame because this is the same franchise that helped re-invigorate Liam Neeson’s career. Say whatever you will about these movies, without the first Taken, we wouldn’t have the Liam Neeson we see and sometimes love, in today’s world, had it not been for the unpredictable popularity of that movie. It helps that Neeson brings some gravitas to this role and allows for Bryan Mills to feel more of an actual, living, breathing human being who also just so happens to be able to karate-chop people to death. However, here, in his third-outing as this character, Neeson seems tired and, dare I say it, bored. And he definitely should be. The guy’s had some of his best roles in the past few years, with a lot better movies, and from what it seems, there’s only more of them to come.

So, people, whatever you do, don’t feel bad for Liam Neeson. The dude’s going to be mighty fine for many years to come.

The ones who you should probably feel bad for are the likes of Famke Janssen, Maggie Grace, and new-to-the-franchise Dougray Scott. Because, honestly, I don’t know if either of these three are going to get anymore shots at glory like they have with these movies. No offense to Grace, but she’s never been the best actress for this role (especially considering she’s always looked 30, whenever she was supposed to be roughly around 17 to 21), and here, those problems show. She’s got at least one look on her face throughout this whole movie and she wears it to a T. Though I can’t say much about Janssen, due to the fact that she dies pretty early on, the relationship she has with Bryan borders on being friendly, to downright four-play and it makes you wonder whether these two are going to just let all of the bullshit go away and bang, right here and now. That’s the movie I would have liked to see, but sadly, didn’t. Oh well.

Then, of course, we have Dougray Scott, who has actually been pretty good in past movies, but is pretty terrible here. He’s forced to do some sort of American-accent that does not at all work one bit for him, and his character is so clearly not who he says he is at first, that when we eventually get to see some of his true colors come out, it’s no surprise to us whatsoever. And as for Forest Whitaker, he’s just here to service the plot, occasionally dueling out a nice bit of charm here and there. But mostly though, he’s left to just eat bagels.

And there’s your sales-pitch, everybody.

Consensus: With hardly any story to work with, Taken 3 is a relatively boring, aimless piece of PG-13 action, where people practically get beheaded, and there’s not so much as a pint of blood to be found.

3 / 10 = Crapola!!

It's okay, Liam. Just get rid of it and let the good times roll.

It’s okay, Liam. Just get rid of it and let the good times roll.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB, AceShowbiz

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Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011)

Ethan Hunt is back once again, and he’s freakin’ cooler than ever.

Tom Cruise stars once again as IMF agent Ethan Hunt who has to go undercover along with his team (Jeremy Renner, Paula Patton, Simon Pegg) to clear his organization’s name after they are implicated in a global terrorist plot.

After a year or so of this movie, coming and going at the theaters, I still feel pretty guilty that I missed out on it. I missed out on it for many reasons, but the main, which one being that I just didn’t really care for the series all that much and didn’t even bother catching up with any of the other movies. As you all have probably been able to see, I’ve reviewed all three and rather enjoyed them all, but none stand anywhere near as close to this one. I’m still pissed I missed out! Damn you my broke ass from last year!

All of the M:I movies seem to have been all about the cool gadgets, the high-tech stuff, the crazy stunts, and the incredible amounts of punishment that Hunt was able to take. All of those factors, are still here, but they are given more class and pizzazz this time around that feels more like James Bond movie, rather than another, useless cash-grab for the audience. In a way, it is gunning for the wallets of moviegoers, but at the same time, it’s still offering us more than what we are used to seeing in action-thrillers of this caliber, and I think that’s all thanks to the one, and the only, Brad Bird.

After making animated-flicks like The Iron Giant and The Incredibles, Bird took his chances with live-action filmmaking and even though taking a popular-series like this seems awfully risky for a guy who’s never directed humans, up until now, he still over-comes the task of not only allowing us to have a bunch of fun with the material, but do it in a more sophisticated, smarter way that’s easier to believe and understand than most action movies. I know, it’s crazy to actually think a M:I movie would actually have us believe in some of it’s crazy stunts and action, but that’s what Bird does, and he does it oh, so freakin’ well here. But, what’s even crazier is how much fun Bird seems to be having, despite giving this flick a new look and feel that we haven’t ever seen before. Sorry J.J. Abrams, you tried, but the Bird will always fly higher.

Yeah, we all know what you're looking at in this photo. Can't blame you.

Yeah, we all know what you’re looking at in this photo. Can’t blame you.

There’s a couple of stunts and set-pieces that really mess with you and make you realize exactly why you love action movies so much in the first-place, that is, when they are done well and done the right way. The one scene that always sticks through my mind is when Hunt is climbing the walls of that Skyscraper, as if he was Spider-Man himself, and what’s so breath-taking about that sequence is not only how breathtaking it is to see on-screen in such a way that makes you wonder how somebody didn’t slip-off and plummet to their death, but more or less why you are so on the edge of your seat. I mean, think about it: we all know Hunt is going to survive this stunt, we all know he’s going to live, and yes, we all know that he’s going to end-up saving the day and doing all that cool, action-y stuff that we are used to seeing him do, but yet, we are still on-edge as in wondering if this guy is going to end up becoming a splat on the ground below. Seriously, the palms get sweaty, the hairs on your neck come-up, and the tensions get higher and higher, and it just continues on throughout each and almost every scene/sequence that Bird plays around with, and that’s what I missed so much with action movies, let alone, M:I movies.

The amount of effort that Bird puts into this movie and the material is outstanding and I can’t believe that this guy hasn’t done more live-action movies in his career. Hopefully, just hopefully, this will be the one flick that gets his name out-there for all of the major studios to finally take notice of and give a shot, because who knows what other animated directors are out there, just looking to get their notice for being able to direct actual people. Well, I guess we can all forget about Andrew Stanton for now, but hey! That was one time and one time only! Just choose wisely next time.

No matter how much people may hate or criticize his wild and crazy personal-life, when you get right down to it, Tom Cruise is still, and forever always will be a movie star and his fourth-outing here as Ethan Hunt, shows us once again why we all love him to begin with. Make no means about it, Cruise was born to play Ethan Hunt and no matter how lame or strange the past 3 movies have been in terms of plot, characterization, or action, Cruise has always prevailed in being the best of all and always being able to keep us happy and pleasant enough to watch him go around, kick-ass, and always bring out the best one-liners we can imagine in certain situations. Even the fact that Cruise does his own stunts is something to revel at, especially here, where it seems like it would be so much harder for a man who’s pushing 50 to do. However, like always, Cruise proves all of us nay-sayers wrong again and it just makes me hope and wish to see more of him in this role.

Probably the best remake of Vertigo, ever.

Probably the best remake of Vertigo, ever.

The rest of the crew that Hunt works with, all do great jobs as well, especially Jeremy Renner who, with this role and The Bourne Legacy, seems like the perfect guy to take over an action role, when the reigns need to be passed-down. Renner adds a lot of sensibility to this role and not only gets to flex some of his action-muscles every once and awhile, but his comedic-ones as well, and you know what? The guy’s pretty damn funny when you allow him to be. Just another reason why this guy is a total diamond in the rough when it comes to casting. Paula Patton’s role as Jane Carter may be a tad unbelievable  mainly because she’s so young and brass that handing over a top-secret, professional-operation would seem almost too volatile to whoever assigned her, but yet, Patton prevails. Not only is the gal unbelievable sexy beyond belief, but she also gets a chance to kick some ass as well and show the boys a thing or two. Simon Pegg is always fun and nimble to watch as Benji, aka the comic-relief of the movie, but he’s not over-bearing and at least allows a lot of the tense scenes to just calm you down with his jokes. Overall, solid cast that actually gets to take-over the movie, more than Hunt ever does and that’s not so bad considering all of the characters are fun and interesting to watch.

My main gripe with this movie was that despite there actually being a villain, played by Michael Nyqvist, there’s no real-threat that ever seems to stand in the way of our lovable crew. After Philip Seymour Hoffman’s superb job in the last movie, it seems like it would be damn near *ahem* impossible to do anything as good as that, but at least give us the chance to have a villain that at least poses a threat to Hunt and everybody else. Instead, the guy is barely around and even when he does show-up, he doesn’t do shit and most of the time, just gets his ass-kicked. Where’s the real threat in that? It’s also even lamer that the show-down between the two never really occurs and even when it somehow does, it feels almost anti-climactic. Real, real bummer, especially since I can now say that Dougray Scott was probably a better villain than this chump. Does Jon Voight even count? Or Jean Reno for that matter?

Consensus: Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol is the best in the series for many reasons, the main one being that it always keeps you excited, always allows you to have a good time, and never loses your interest for a second, and just goes to show you that Tom Cruise can still make any movie he wants, and have it be as successful or as entertaining as his last one. Long live, Tom. Fuck you, Katie!

8.5/10=Matinee!!

Seriously, who the hell is this guy?!?

Seriously, who the hell is this guy?!?

Mission: Impossible 2 (2000)

Apparently Cruise can do it all. Yes, even kung-fu.

American and British IMF teams join forces on the hunt to find a stolen virus. However, one by one the members on the teams start ending up dead. Can Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) find out who this assassin is and stop their deadly plans? From the crowded streets of Madrid to the busy harbour of Sydney, the chase is on.

With the first Mission: Impossible movie, I liked it because it was fun but felt like it was a huge disappointment considering that it seemed like the director, Brian De Palma, wasn’t really able to go full-throttle with his direction, and had to ease-in to what Hollywood wanted. Well, if Hollywood has it’s ways, they usually get rid of those types of people and bring in others. John Woo, you’re up next, buddy. Good luck!

Actually, if I was to compare both De Palma and Woo to one another, which is stupid but for the sake of a juicy-review, I would probably have to say De Palma is the better director by-far. However, if I had to compare the two to who is a better-suit for this type of material, I’d have to go with Woo. The guy is known as the go-to-guy when it comes to directing action movies and even if that honor has sort of been passed-down to others over the years, you still can’t deny or forget when this guy was always the person you’d want to direct a loud, stupid, but fun action-movie. That’s why Woo actually makes this film a bit better, however, it doesn’t start-off like that at-first, no sireee.

Where I was really losing my interest with this movie was the first 45 minutes or so, when nothing seemed to be happening. Yeah, the plot was moving-along and setting the grounds for what we would have to know, in order to understand everything more clearly, but it was all so damn boring. People were talking, melodrama was thrown at us, and worst of all, Ethan Hunt was sort of acting like a total-pussy. Like I get it, the guy has fallen for this chick and wants to be with her but can’t because of this high-profile mission, but there is no need to spend literally, 15 minutes on that whole idea. Ethan Hunt is way too cool for that, and doesn’t need his D getting bogged down by some, little sweet who’s off boning another guy. Now, it’s not really her choice but still, stop crying, do your job, and maybe, just maybe in the end, you can have some sweet-old celebration sex for the good of it all. Hey, that’s how I look at things, baby.

I will say, that after those excruciatingly boring, first 45 minutes, the movie does pick-up a little and that’s where I think Woo’s fun-direction really starts to kick-in. What makes this movie so much fun is the fact that Woo knows the type of material he’s working with, and makes no excuses for making it as idiotic and dumb as you can get with an action movie. A lot of stunts and sequences will have you scoffing your asses off at the implausibility of all that’s going on, but to be honest, that’s whats to be expected of these movies by now and it’s just so much fun to watch because Woo adds in his own, little trinkets of style in there every once and awhile. You get a lot of slo-mo, you get a lot of explosions, you get a lot of kung-fu, and most of all, you get a lot of random pigeons flying around certain scenes for more of a dramatic-effect. It’s pretty neat how Woo is able to make a Mission: Impossible movie, but still, not without putting his own stamp on the movie and showing everybody that it’s his own work, and if you don’t like it, then don’t go and give him or Cruise your money. Trust me, everybody did anyway.

And speaking of Tom Cruise, the guy still owns it as Ethan Hunt, which is something that probably comes to nobody’s surprise whatsoever. Hunt is cool, swift, and smart here, and even though I didn’t like the fact of how much time they spent on him and his heart going through a lot of pain, I still couldn’t help but think that the guy was going to pull-it-all together in the end, and come out on-top at the end of the day. Still, Ethan Hunt doesn’t need women, so stay the hell away, gals.

The gal who I keep on ranting and raving about is played by Thandie Newton, and even though she isn’t anything all that special to watch and fall in love with on-screen, she’s still okay and whatnot. I wish that the film made her more of a sly bad-ass in her own right and focused on that element of her character, but too much of that time was just spent-on her being all sad and acting like the damsel in distress that Hunt didn’t need around to get in the way of his shit. Once again, Ethan Hunt doesn’t need women.

What Ethan Hunt does need, however, is a pretty kick-ass villain and that is what he does not get here with Dougray Scott. To be honest, I’ve never seen this guy in anything else before, but I don’t really look forward to seeing that stuff either because the guy’s pretty lame here. I don’t know if it was the crappy-writing, the evil-plan he had in his head (basically, it’s just a bad-guy that has a deadly-virus he’s going to unleash on the rest of humanity, because you know, bad-guys hate everything), or his acting plain and simple, but something was not gelling well with this character at all and I just wanted Hunt to kill him as soon as possible. Actually, maybe that’s a good thing to feel for a villain, but then again, I still feel like some of that hate should be directed towards the actor and what he’s able to do with that role and that is something that Scott didn’t seem like he was all that capable of. Oh well, Ethan Hunt still kicked his ass.

Consensus: Even though it’s just a tad better than it’s predecessor, Mission: Impossible 2 is still stupid, loud, and occasionally boring,  but still features some slick style-points from Woo, and the always welcome, return-to-form for Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt, once again proving that this guy can kick anybody’s ass. Katie Holmes’ next hubby, you best look-out mofo.

6.5/10=Rental!! 

My Week with Marilyn (2011)

I wonder just how much of hottie Marilyn Monroe would be in today’s world.

Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne), an employee of Sir Laurence Olivier’s ( Kenneth Branagh), documents the tense interaction between Olivier and Marilyn Monroe (Michelle Williams) during production of The Prince and the Showgirl, as well as his several meetings with her.

Marilyn Monroe has and forever will be an American icon but the weirdest thing is that there has still never even been a film based on her yet. Probably because nobody can play her, except for Monroe herself, and I hate to say it but that is still true even after seeing this flick.

First-time director Simon Curtis does a good job here of creating a very funny and light mood in the beginning of the flick with plenty of detail towards the whole film-making of the 1957 film ‘The Prince and the Showgirl‘. We get to see all of the work that it takes to be made for a film to work and how every single person working back-stage doesn’t really get along with each other, even when they are off-screen.

The problem that Curtis runs into with this film is the fact that it is just way too much of the soapy melodrama that I’ve probably seen used better in made-for-TV movies on Lifetime or Hallmark. The emotional depth that this film tries to carry is way off considering that we are given so many opportunities to actually care about these characters, but it all feels too fake with moments that seem like they came right out of some teenage boys journal from the 1950’s who had a dream the night before about his long, lost adventures with the chick who he would worship. I couldn’t really take anything in that this film was trying to sell me into consideration and even though it’s adapted from a real-life memoir, I still have to call some bull-shit on that.

Another huge problem that this film runs into is the fact that Monroe is depicted in this film in two ways: either she’s charming and posing for the cameras or sad and needy as hell. There isn’t really much that this film has to say that we haven’t already known about Monroe’s life before because we know she was on drugs, we know she used men, we know she was a little sex-pot, and we know that she was a very sad character beneath all of the smiles, but this film tries to act like that is all new information to us and by about the 5th time she showed up late to work because she was crying in bed over something random, I just wanted to punch her in the face. The tortured and sad celebrity isn’t anything new and any other glimpse at Monroe would have been perfectly fine with me.

Despite this huge problem though, Michelle Williams still does a great job and saves this film from being total shit. Williams nails just about ever part of Monroe to the light-voice, to the little twinkle in her, and even to the little flirtatiousness she always had. We also get to see a lot of these sad moments with Williams getting down just the right amount of realness to a performance that seemed like it could have easily been just another extended impersonation. She shines in basically every frame of the film but even the scenes where she gets to recreate certain songs or scenes, is where her talent really shows and I think they did a perfect job of putting Williams in this lead role even if it’s a really hard one at that.

Eddie Redmayne tries his hardest here in a role that’s very mature from him but the kid doesn’t really have any re-deeming qualities to him that makes me believe that she could just want to drop all of the things she has to do for him. He’s shy, bright-eyed, a little creepy, and very boring and I think that deep-down inside there is a good performance from Redmayne, I just couldn’t find it beneath this terribly shallow character.

On the bright side though, everybody else is fairly good. Kenneth Branagh is perfect as Sir Laurence Olivier because he shows how much temperamental and desperate a film-maker could be, but also reminds us as to why Olivier was such a brilliant actor in the first place; Judi Dench is great in her role as Dame Sybil Thorndike, even if it does seem familiar; and Julia Ormond shows some great moments as Olivier’s wife, Vivien Leigh. There’s a real big cast to this whole film but it’s just such a shame that the script sort of lets them all down.

Consensus: When it comes to playing Monroe and Olivier, Williams and Branagh got it, but My Week with Marilyn feels very contrived with a lot of repetition to the point of where it almost feels like a lot of what we see here is almost too made up to actually be true even though it’s based on a memoir.

5/10=Rental!!