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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Jason Statham

The Fate of the Furious (2017)

Can automobiles be family?

Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) has been living the good life since the events of the last film. He’s practically on vacation and thinking about starting up a family with Letty (Michelle Rodriguez). But somehow, he turns to the dark side after an evil, somewhat vicious criminal mastermind named Cipher (Charlize Theron) shows up and demands him to do all sorts of crimes for him. Obviously, it isn’t just Letty who feels betrayed, but also Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), Roman (Tyrese), Tej (Ludacris), and the rest of the gang. So, in order to stop Dominic from going any further into the dark, seedy world of crime and murder, they team back up with the government and try to stop him all at once. But this time, they’re going to get a little assistance from someone they haven’t been too fond of in the past: Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), the man who hasn’t yet forgiven the family for what they had done to his own brother, but is willing to let bygones be bygones for the time being, just so that he can take down Cipher.

Uh oh. There must be a jabroni somewhere close by.

The last three Fast and Furious movies have been some of the best action movies in the past decade or so. They’ve upped the ante by becoming more and more ridiculous by the installment, while also never forgetting that what makes them so much in the first place is that they don’t ever try too hard to take themselves too seriously – the last movie definitely verged on getting way too dramatic for its own sake, but that was only because it was put in an awkward position of having to pay tribute to its star, Paul Walker. And from what it seems, the franchise will only continue to get more and more successful, the more and more insane it pushes itself to be.

Which is why the latest, Fate of the Furious, is a bit of a mixed-bag.

Don’t get me wrong, the action, the ridiculousness, and the sheer stupidity of it all is still here and in full-form, but at the same time, there’s something else keeping it away from being quite on-par with the past three installments and that all comes down to story. For one, no one goes to these movies for their well thought-out, interesting, and complex plots – they come for the action, the silliness, and most of all, the cars. People don’t care about who’s betraying who, for what reasons, and what sort of lessons can be learned from it all.

Of course, this being a Fast and Furious, it makes sense that we get a lot of lectures and discussions about family and what it means to stand by one another, but that’s to be expected and that’s not he problem. The real problem is that the movie takes way too long to get going, and when it does, it constantly starts and stops without ever knowing why. At nearly two-hours-and-16-minutes, Fate may be the longest installment so far (although, it could have been over two-and-a-half-hours, as previously reported), and at times, it feels like that; there’s so much downtime spent on plot and poorly-written sketches of characters, that it’s almost unnecessary. Having something resembling a plot is fine, because it’s what the past three have done, but Fate takes it up a notch in that it tries hard to give us a plot that’s harder to pin-down and far more detailed.

What a power-couple. Make it happen, real life.

But it didn’t have to be. We know it’s stupid and all filler, and so do they. So why are we getting all of this?

A good portion of that probably has to due to the fact that in lead-villain role, Charlize Theron gets to have a little bit of fun as Cipher, even if her character is so odd and random at times, it almost feels like anyone could have taken on the role. She’s your stereotypical villain in that she does bad stuff, for no exact reason, other than she’s a bad lady and can’t messed with. Once again, I’m not expecting anything more in a Fast and Furious movie, but the movie spends so much time on her, as she plays these silly mind games with Dominic and the gang, that it’s almost like director F. Gary Gray and writer Chris Morgan themselves don’t even know the material they’re playing with.

Same goes for the rest of the ensemble who are, as expected, just a bunch of punchlines and a few paragraphs of things resembling characters. But hey, it’s fine, because they all work well with the goofy material and make us realize that it doesn’t matter. Is it odd watching without Paul Walker? Most definitely, but the gang more than makes up for the absence, by doubling down on the charm and excitement, with even Statham himself proving to be having the biggest ball of everyone.

Oh and yeah, the action’s still pretty great, when it happens.

Everything before and in between, honestly, is a bit boring, because it’s all a build-up, but when it does actually get there, it’s still wild, insane, and highly unrealistic, but who cares? Almost all action movies, in some way, shape, or form, take place in some fake, mythological world where real-life issues and consequences don’t matter, and nor should they. These are the Fast and Furious movies, not Shakespeare.

I just wish somebody told everyone else that.

Consensus: A little long and slow, Fate of the Furious still gets by on its crazy, hectic action, as well as its talented ensemble who prove to be perfectly equipped with this goofy material, no matter how far-fetched it all gets.

6.5 / 10

News team, assemble!

Photos Courtesy of: Aceshowbiz

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The Italian Job (2003)

If you’re going to pull-off a cool heist, your whole gang’s gotta be cool, too. It’s a known fact.

After a super, duper tricky heist in Venice, Steve (Edward Norton) turns on his partners in crime, and ends up killing skilled and legendary safecracker John Bridger (Donald Sutherland). Why? Well, Steve got greed and just wanted to keep all the gold for himself, and not try to cut in anyone else. The rest of the team that Steve ripped-off included leader Charlie Croker (Mark Wahlberg), driver Handsome Rob (Jason Statham), explosives man Left Ear (Mos Def), and tech geek Lyle (Seth Green), or, as he likes to be called “Napster”, now all vow revenge. But in order to totally get back at Steve and ensure that their heist goes down without a hitch, they enlist the help of Bridger’s daughter, Stella (Charlize Theron), so that they can get an inside-view into Steve, his life, and just where exactly he’s hiding all of that damn gold. But it’s known that Steve’s a tricky dude to mess with, and it’s why the gang’s really going to have to get their act together, in order for them to not just pull this all off and get the gold, but ensure that everyone’s alive by the end of it.

“Ayo Marky Mark, check this out. I’ll say hello to my motha for me, too.”

The Italian Job is a typical remake that’s modern, which means that it’s “hip”, “cool”, and totally unnecessary. But still, it’s also a bit of fun and when it comes to remakes of old-school classics, having a bit of fun means a lot, because most of the time, they’re just soulless, annoying and nauseating cash-ins. The Italian Job is different in that it doesn’t seem a whole lot of it was made solely for the money, but that it’s still got the same kind of look, tone and feel of all the other “gang-heists” movies.

Basically, think of it a more adult, somewhat smarter version of the Fast and Furious movies.

Which isn’t to say that the Italian Job is all that dumb of a movie, it’s just silly. But in that silliness, there’s a great deal of enjoyment to be had, mostly because F. Gary Gray knows that the best way to keep this material interesting, even when it’s silly, is to always be moving, never stopping and never focusing too hard on one aspect of element too much. We have a heist, we have a cast of characters, we have a baddie, we have a conflict, we have a plan, and that’s really all we need; Gray doesn’t get too bogged down in too many senseless subplots to where it feels like extra padding for a movie that does come a tad close to two hours.

But it’s a solid two hours that keeps up its energy throughout, so much so that you also realize that some of the key issues with the movie, like character-development, are left by the waist-side. Now, there’s a part of me that’s fine with the fact that each character sort of has their one characteristic/personality-trait and there’s not much else to them, but for some reason, it’s hard not to expect something a little more, especially from this well put-together cast. For instance, Statham’s Handsome Rob is pure Statham – silent, but scary, and that’s about all there is to him. Same goes for Seth Green’s “Napster”, who is just the goofy tech-y and yep, that’s it. Mos Def is also sort of like the comedic-support with Left Ear, but he’s got such stiff-competition from Green in that department, that often times, it feels like a lot of his stuff was cut.

And then, there’s the core trio of Wahlberg, Theron, and Norton who all, in any other movie, probably would have put on acting-class beyond our beliefs. But sadly, they’re stuck in a silly actioner that doesn’t quite care about how good of actors they are. As long as they are hot enough and can read lines, than it’s all that matters, right?

Honestly, public-transportation has been worse.

Well, yeah, I guess.

In 2003, it’s hard to believe that Wahlberg was still finding his inner-leading man, which is why his performance as Charlie Croker, while not bad, isn’t necessarily the strongest, either. Same goes for Theron’s Stella, who is basically there to be the hot romantic love-interest for Charlie to eventually learn feelings from. Theron was also in a weird spot in Hollywood where they knew she could act, but she was too busy getting these roles where she was just window-dressing because of her absolutely gorgeous-looks. Not that I’m complaining, but it’s obvious she was made for much, much more.

And of course, the same is clearly said for Norton who, even as the villain here, doesn’t get a whole lot to do. Still, Norton tries in what is, essentially, a paycheck gig that allow for him to take more risks with the smaller indie-flicks that he had always became so known and adored for. Even in the moments where we’re supposed to feel like this guy is a total and complete asshole, Norton’s not fully there and it’s weird, because it’s like we almost don’t care and just remember how effective he was in another good heist film, the Score.

But still, all of this talk about performances and characters, guess what? It doesn’t matter. The Italian Job gets the job done it set out to do, right. It doesn’t slow itself down and it sure as hell doesn’t try to appear as anything more than it already is – it’s just a fun, sometimes way too silly flick, with hot, talented people, being hot and cool.

And in that sense, yeah, it’s fine.

I just like to complain.

Consensus: Though it’s disappointing to see such a waste of a good ensemble, the Italian Job still delivers the right amount of fun, thrills and humor to have anyone happy.

7 / 10

As usual, the bro’s don’t know what to do when a tall, beautiful and smart woman comes around. Except Marky. He knows everything.

Photos Courtesy of: Cineplex.com

Mechanic: Resurrection (2016)

Some men just want to kill all the baddies for reasons unknown.

Arthur Bishop (Jason Statham), after a few years or so, feels as if he had put his murderous past behind him where he can now sit back, relax, enjoy the beach, drink a cold one, and live the life he wants to live. And he sort of gets that with Gina (Jessica Alba), a local woman who is currently having issues with her husband – issues that a man like Arthur Bishop is more than capable of taking care of. However, his whole life changes when Gina is kidnapped by a former foe of Bishop’s (Sam Hazeldine). The only way to save Gina, unfortunately, is for Bishop himself to complete a few odd jobs that include taking out some of the most notorious, most rich and most powerful arms-dealers. Why? Well, Bishop begins to put the pieces together while he’s doing these missions and decides that it’s going to be time for him to take more than just a few people out if he wants to get what he wants and also ensure that Gina’s lovely life is saved.

Sun's out, guns out.

Sun’s out, guns out.

The first Mechanic movie was a fine piece of Statham-action – in fact, it was probably better than a lot of them. What worked was that it had some nice action, a breezy pace, and also not to mention, the wonderful, if always underrated Ben Foster to bring some pathos and magic to the otherwise heavy and action-packed setting. That said, it was also a movie that wasn’t nearly as successful as his others and, not to mention, also seemed like it was more or less going to be forgotten in about five years, let alone, five months.

But for some reason, here we are – over five years later and guess what? We have a sequel to Mechanic?

And you know what? I’m glad. Mechanic: Resurrection is a surprisingly fun movie that feels like it could have easily been some straight-to-DVD trash that nobody bothers to pick up, but instead, only scoff at on their way to the register, and it still sort of it is – but hey, it’s fun trash. It’s the kind of trash that makes me happy that someone like Jason Statham exists and his movies can get so ridiculous, so insane and so over-the-top, that honestly, sky’s the limit on what can and what will happen.

And with Mechanic: Resurrection, it’s great to see Statham do what he does best, because the movie itself is still fun. The missions that Bishop gets sent on, while a bit predictable at first, begin to take on new lives once we realize that they literally place in Bishop in these new, somewhat interesting worlds that could possibly be his own damn movie. The whole Malaysian prison set-piece an inspired one and honestly, I wouldn’t mind seeing its own movie made about, just like the pool-sequence, as well as whatever the hell Tommy Lee Jones’ character is.

"Hold on tight, baby. It's going to be a bumpy life from here on out."

“Hold on tight, baby. It’s going to be a bumpy life from here on out.”

Speaking of Jones, believe it or not, he’s actually more inspired here, than I’ve seen him in quite some time.

It’s weird, too, because the character that he’s playing – a rich and powerful arms-dealer, who has a whole bunch of piercings and a spiked-cut to boot – doesn’t seem totally up his alley. But surprisingly, Jones is having fun here and more than willing to enjoy the undeniably dirty and gritty proceedings than ever before. Why he’s in this is totally beyond me, but hey, I’ll take a fun and excited Tommy Lee Jones, over a bored and growling one.

And the rest of the small, but fine cast is good, too. Michelle Yeoh doesn’t have a whole lot to do, for some reason, even though she’s in an action movie for gosh sakes; Jessica Alba is hot and fiery, despite her not having much of a chemistry with Statham; and Statham himself, once again, is perfect for this kind of role. Sure, he’s stoic and quiet, but he’s also charming whenever the script calls on for him to be and it’s a lot of fun to watch, especially when the movie seems to be enjoying his presence. More movies need to take advantage of the fact that, well, Statham is a funny guy and can charm the pants off of a donkey, so why not let him do all of that charming-stuff, aside from the ass-kicking and shooting?

But like I said about Resurrection – it’s not a perfect movie.

It’s silly, it’s idiotic, it looks cheap, and honestly, sometimes feel like a plot that’s making itself up as it goes along, but for some reason, I enjoyed that all. Director Dennis Gansel doesn’t leave a whole lot of time for us to stop, wait and think, but instead, he just constantly throws every bit of action that he can find at us and it works. The movie’s a whole more fun for it and in a way, kind of smart, too.

Okay, maybe not, but still, it at least tries.

Consensus: As far as stupid and silly action-sequels go, Mechanic: Resurrection is a good one that features plenty of cool and exciting action, as well as a supporting cast that’s better than we normally get.

6.5 / 10

"Yeah, honey? Keep the turkey running, I'm going to be a little late for suppa."

“Yeah, honey? Keep the turkey running, I’m going to be a little late for suppa.”

Photos Courtesy of: Aceshowbiz, Indiewire, Jason Statham Source

The Mechanic (2011)

Everyone needs a good mechanic. But for life.

Of all the high-order assassins in the business Arthur Bishop (Jason Statham) may be the best there is, or that there has to offer. Bishop carries out his assignments with precision, detachment and adherence to a strict code, so that he never feels a single sting of emotion throughout his body when he’s completing these sometimes grueling and dangerous tasks. However, Bishop’s one and only true friend, Harry (Donald Sutherland), who also acted as something of a mentor, is tragically murdered, leading him to automatically think of who did it and just how they can be held accountable for their actions. Along for the ride is Harry’s son, Steve (Ben Foster), who is just as fired-up and upset about his dad’s death, but also knows that in order to extract revenge the right way, he’s going to have to listen to Bishop on everything he says, no matter what. And most of all, he’s going to have chill that energy down a whole lot.

I'm not worried. He knows why he's jumping.

I’m not worried. He knows why he’s jumping.

You’ve seen one Jason Statham movie and guess what? You’ve practically seen them all. Honestly, there’s not necessarily a problem with that; his screen-presence is still one of the most charming around that no matter how many times we see him beat the hell out of people, blow things up, and shoot big, heavy guns, we still love him and want to see more of him. Does that always mean that the movies themselves are all that great? Not really, but then again, they’re action movies – in today’s day and age, action movies hardly ever satisfy each and every person out there in the world, so the fact that Statham still does them and doesn’t show any signs of stopping, even while he’s nearing 50, is quite admirable.

And another reason why a movie like the Mechanic, as mediocre and fine as it may be, is also a solid reminder of what can happen when a Jason Statham movie actually seems to be trying.

For instance, the Mechanic is a little more than just another one of your typical Statham-vehicles – it’s also got another character to deal with that makes the movie more than just watching Statham do his thing. Ben Foster’s Steve is a solid character in a movie as crazy as this, because while he’s so incredibly high-strung and, honestly, over-the-top, there’s also still something of a bleeding heart at the center of this character. Sure, the movie could almost care less about how, or what he feels, but honestly, there’s something there with this character and it’s because Foster is such a good actor, that he’s able to make something as silly as this, the slightest bit meaningful.

Who can be balder?

Who can be balder?

Of course though, he also does a great job of creating some sort of chemistry with Statham, which looks as odd as it sounds. However, what’s so surprising about this pair, is that they actually do work well together; Foster’s wild card character, is a perfect match for Statham’s cool, calm and collected demeanor that never seems to falter. Together, the scenes of them shooting and taking down bad guys, while generic, also brings a certain flair of energy and joy because, as you can see, they’re having some fun here. Statham is, as usual, doing his usual act and is just fine at that, but Foster brings out a little something within him that, quite frankly, isn’t always seen from Statham.

Not totally a problem, but hey, every so often, it’s nice to get a reminder that Statham himself got his start on Guy Ritchie flicks and whatnot.

But either way, the action of the Mechanic is good enough for all of the junkies out there. It doesn’t necessarily light the world on fire (literally), but because director Simon West is more than capable of wading himself through all sorts of wild and crazy havoc, he does a fine job at making sure that it all works out. It’s effective in the kind of way that we can tell what’s going on, to whom, and what sort of effect it may actually be having on the characters involved. Yes, it sounds really stupid when speaking about an action flick, but it’s the small things like this that count the most and help make a seemingly conventional action-thriller like the Mechanic, seem like so much more.

Even if it is also just another excuse for us all to watch and admire all of the bad guys that Statham takes down and kills.

That, to be brutally honest, may never get old.

Consensus: Despite it still being conventional and predictable from the beginning, the Mechanic is still a solid Statham-vehicle that has all sorts of action and explosions, but also benefits from the much-accepted presence of Ben Foster.

6.5 / 10

Eat your heart out, ladies. Oh and guys, too. Definitely guys, because, seriously, why not? He's the 'Stath!

Eat your heart out, ladies. Oh and guys, too. Definitely guys, because, seriously, why not? He’s the ‘Stath!

Photos Courtesy of: Aceshowbiz

Snatch (2001)

SnatchposterDoes anybody even know what a “pikey” is in the first place?

Set in the London criminal underworld, two stories are unfolding that, more often than not, just so happen to connect or intervene with one another. One plot deals with the search for a stolen diamond, whereas the other with a small-time boxing promoter named Turkish (Jason Statham) who finds himself under the thumb of a ruthless gangster known as Brick Top (Alan Ford). Of course, there is more than just meets the eye with this premise as many happenings and characters find themselves in-and-out of the story.

If you’ve seen one movie of Guy Ritchie’s, you’ve mostly seen them all. In ways, that’s a good thing, but often times, it can feel as if it’s a tad bit repetitive and over-done. But that’s not me talking, as I’ve come to appreciate the kind of style the dude’s worked with over the years and how it’s single-handedly help save some of his movies from being bore-fests.

Except for Swept Away. There was no way of saving that movie.

Who needs Apollo Creed, when you've got two drunk Irish morons.

Who needs Apollo Creed, when you’ve got two drunk Irish morons.

What Ritchie does so well, is style; it’s the same type of hip, kinetic, and goofy style that we saw in his earlier flicks but who cares? If it works, it works. Ritchie keeps the plot moving in an entertaining fashion, but at the same time, still keeps these plot-lines interesting. This makes it all the more with it when they all seem to converge with one another and make Ritchie’s writing a whole heck of a lot smarter.

Most of that smartness comes from the whole idea of this flick is just to be a big goofy take on the crime-noir genre by substituting all of those hard, mean characters, with lovable, colorful ones that we all actually care about. However, don’t have you think that Ritchie softens up because of this. Instead he lets all of the violence happen as if it normally would in any other film of this genre and it’s just a whole bunch of fun to watch, even if you do know what’s going to happen next.

Also, subtitles may definitely help at certain times, too.

I don’t know what it is about Ritchie piss so many people off because this guy really seems like he’s having a ball when it comes to him making movies. Does he have an energetic style that can sometimes be straight in your face? Yeah, but does that neccessarily make him a bad director? I guess it all depends on how you feel about watching movies. Either you want a slow human-drama about life and love in the world we live in, or you want a fast-paced, suspenseful, and wild gangster flick that takes no prisoners and makes no apologies for calling each other that dreaded “c-word”.

Yup. Totally not crazy.

Yup. Totally not crazy.

My problem with this film just lies within the fact that I think Ritchie does not stray far away from what he did with his debut and that’s sort of annoying, considering it seems a bit cheap once you think about it. Take for instance, Vinnie Jones’ character. Jones, as we all know and love, is basically type-cast as this wild, insane, and freakishly scary a-hole that would be able to rip your heart out with his teeth. Those are the types of roles the guy gets nowadays and without Ritchie, he wouldn’t have ever been known far-beyond his Rugby days. Therefore, it seems like Ritchie felt the need to not only place a same type of character as that in this movie, but also give Jones the same exact role that sort of comes off as lazy and a bit unoriginal in terms of casting. There’s a couple of other actors and characters here that seem like carbon-copies of the ones from Lock, but Jones was the one who really stood-out for me as the laziest of all, even though he kicked plenty of arse, as usual.

But even besides that, Jones is still good here. And the same goes with everybody else who shows up, utilizing their talents as actors for what would be ultimate challenging of handling Ritchie’s sense of dialogue. Though they may seem like odd choices at first, the likes of Benicio Del Toro, Dennis Farina, and Rade Serbedzija, all do perfectly fine here and show that they’re charming enough to carry along the movie, even if Ritchie’s dialogue may sometimes get in the way of his actors.

However, their not prepared for the most inspired casting decision of this whole flick.

Brad Pitt as the illiterate “pikey” Micky O’Neill, may have seemed crazy, but eventually, you wonder why anybody would have ever thought that. Pitt’s whole act in this flick is to not make any sense no matter what he mumbles, but still be able to get what he’s saying across by the look on his face and the body language he displays. Maybe that’s a bit too much of a detailed study for a character that is first shown taking a dump right in front of his home, but Pitt nails it and makes every piece of dialogue he mutters out hilarious. So hilarious in fact, that the Netflix subtitles couldn’t even decipher what the hell he was saying but that was the point! It was funny, it made me laugh, and made me see what types of roles Pitt can do, and still take total control over even if he isn’t the main star of the show. Everybody else here, kicks some fine-piece of arse that’s worth mentioning but to be honest, just go out and see the ensemble for yourself. They are all so perfect together and you wonder how Ritchie was able to get them all to be in the same freakin’ movie in the first place.

Consensus: Though we’ve seen this style done before, Snatch still utilizes a lot of Ritchie’s strengths as both a writer, as well as a director.

8.5 / 10

Morgan?

Morgan?

Photos Courtesy of: Movie Room Reviews

Spy (2015)

007 needs to smile more.

After an agent of hers that she’s been looking out for and bonding with over the past five years, Bradley Fine (Jude Law), has to take a leave of absence, desk-bound, under-appreciated CIA analyst Susan Cooper (Melissa McCarthy) finally gets her chance to be in the field. Her task: Stop a Bulgarian crime lord by the name of Rayna Boyanov (Rose Byrne) from selling nuclear weapons. The only problem is that Cooper’s cover continues to get blown by either her own wrong-doings, or a fellow agent who has just recently decided to go rogue and try and take matters into his own hands. His name is Rick Ford (Jason Statham) and while he and Cooper don’t get along too well, it’s solely up to her to make sure that she keeps Rick away from the mission as much as humanly possible, while also still making sure that she’s keeping some level of anonymity for her own well-being. But as the mission gets more and more complicated, Susan realizes that she may have to get a little dirty if she not only wants to complete the mission, but to also stay the hell alive.

Though some people may bitch, moan and complain about the fact that writer/director Paul Feig and Melissa McCarthy seem to team up practically every chance they get time out of their schedules to do so (which seems like every other year, so far), there’s still no denying that they’re a match made in heaven. Both clearly know what the other wants, so therefore, they work well together in not only giving themselves 110%, but also giving the right kind of 110% when necessary. Because yeah, even though these two don’t seem to be challenging one another all that much, when the end result is still entertaining to watch, just as much as the last movie that came before it, what’s the real problem?

Allison Janney and Melissa McCarthy! In the same room?!?!?

Allison Janney and Melissa McCarthy! In the same room?!?!? Just take my money already!

In all honesty, there is none! So stop complaining, people!

With Spy, McCarthy and Feig’s third team-up so far, the look, feel and overall idea of a spy movie is messed around with, but don’t be fooled by what this movie’s advertising may have you think, because it’s not a parody flick. Though it may have initially started off as such, eventually, the movie turns the other cheek to where it’s less about poking fun at the stylish cars, guns and women, and more or less poking fun at the lovably charming characters here. At points, it probably would have been nice had Feig tried to make more of a comment on the spy genre (especially since there seems to be so many damn movies coming from this genre nowadays), but if a movie is funny, then I won’t hold any gripes against it.

And yes, Spy is definitely a funny flick. Like with the Heat and Bridesmaids, where Feig shows his real, true strength in directing comedy is just allowing for it to draw itself out to where even the most normal, everyday situation, can turn into something truly odd and bizarre. Sure, while some of this praise can go to the cast and crew who definitely seem to be, for the most part, playing along with it and making it up as they go along, there’s still plenty to be said for Feig himself. After all, he’s the guy who gets to say when a scene begins, goes on, and ends and so he definitely deserves credit for at least knowing when and how to format his comedic scenes.

However, like with the case of the Heat, there’s still a weird feeling that maybe the action takes over a bit too much, especially in the last hour or so of this flick. There’s no problem with an action-comedy utilizing the later portion of that term to its fullest, and most absolute extent, but when it seems like it’s doing nothing much other than to just keep the run-time going, it gets a tad bit tiresome. The action’s fine and all, but any comedy that goes over two hours, definitely features some form of trimming, no matter who you are.

Talking about you, Mr. Apatow!

But, as always, a lot of this doesn’t hold up too well when compared to the fact that the movie is enjoyable and funny, but also a teenie bit more than just that. See, with Feig’s movies, he always puts an extra amount of detail into his characters to where, even if they are acting like cartoonish jack-asses, there’s still some form of humanity and personality to them that it all makes sense as to why they’re acting the way they do, with whom, and how. And because of this, most scenes that would generally just seem “funny”, end up turning into more hilarious territory, especially when you consider the smart writing that’s been put into most of them.

Look at J-Stath! The dude's having the time of his life!

Look at J-Stath! The dude’s having the time of his life! Let him do that more!

For instance, take Melissa McCarthy as Susan Cooper. While Cooper is another instance in which McCarthy gets a chance to swear, yell, make fun of people, and kick ass, there’s a bit more to her character than just that and it makes a lot of what she does and say hit harder. Because Cooper, the character, is such a sweet and relatively gentle person, to hear and see her when she has to step up big time in the field, she turns into a whole different person where she’s loud, obnoxious and more than willing to lay the whoop-ass on whoever deserves it the most. Once again, this is another performance from McCarthy that we’ve seen before, but there’s so much fun in watching her do it and hardly miss a beat, that it’s hardly ever boring.

Not like it was in Tammy, that is, so lets be happy about that.

But even though McCarthy’s the lead, which entitles her character to the most development, she isn’t the only one. Rose Byrne, despite playing the main baddie, gets a chance to not just be funny again, but show some form of humanity within a character that just wants to blow the United States up, as most villains in these sorts of movies want to do; Jude Law plays the charming and handsome fella we usually see him play, but his character is a bit more of a dick than he lets on and it’s actually interesting; Miranda Hart plays Cooper’s best friend and confidante and gets a chance to show an even sweeter side to a job that you wouldn’t think could have one; and Jason Statham, well, what else is there to say other than he lights the screen up every chance he gets. And then some.

See, if there’s any complaint that I have about Spy, that I don’t believe I had with many other movies, is that it needed more Jason Statham. That isn’t to say that I’ve never uttered that phrase before because I detest Statham and think he’s a talentless hack – in fact, it’s quite the opposite. I think he is very talented, charming and fun to watch, but because he’s usually the lead in the movies he does, there’s a lot of him to go around and it makes me wish that wasn’t the case, at least not in those movies. Movies like Spy where we get to see the more charming and light side to his tense presence, makes it easy to see why somebody would want to hire him just for his comedic skills alone. He’s been funny in the Guy Ritchie movies that he’s done and he occasionally drops a little wittisome here and there in a dull action-thriller, but here, he’s on full-force and I wish I got more of it.

Meaning, producers and casting agents, give Jason Statham more funny material!

Consensus: Tad overlong, Spy runs into a slight problem of unevenness, but because it’s cast and crew are so talented and funny, it slides on by as an enjoyable time that also proves why we’re all lucky to have Melissa McCarthy in our lives, and why Jason Statham needs to do more funny stuff.

7.5 / 10

Funny costumes + Melissa McCarthy = sure, it's funny.

Funny costumes + Melissa McCarthy = sure, it’s funny.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB, AceShowbiz

Wild Card (2015)

At least this one isn’t an English professor.

Nick Wild (Jason Statham) has a problem. It isn’t that he helps his friends too much, it isn’t that he takes odd-jobs that sometimes put his own life in danger, and it sure as hell isn’t that he likes to flirt with ladies – his problem is that he likes to gamble. A tad too much. And living in Las Vegas, that’s a bit of a problem. But now, Nick seems to have much bigger problems that concern an old lady-pal of his (Dominik Garcia-Lorido) who was recently beaten-up, bruised, raped, and left for dead by some scummy, yet dangerous crime-lord, Danny DeMarco (Milo Ventimiglia). DeMarco packs a lot of heat and has a lot sway within the Las Vegas crime-syndicate, but he knows that he has to do the right thing and because of that, he decides to help out his old friend. Though, things go South and eventually, Nick finds himself running for his life and wondering where Danny’s going to turn up to get him next, or whether or not Nick’s going to be able to pull it altogether himself, either. Nick doesn’t know, but what he does now, is that he loves to play a simple game of Blackjack.

See, that's the eye I'm talking about!

See? That’s the eye I’m talking about!

The plot I decided to write there, may seem a bit jumbled-up and odd, but that’s my intention. See, for some reason, Wild Card has at least two or three different subplots going on within itself; none of which are really all that interesting to begin with, but they’re all given the same amount of attention that it makes it hard for me to get past not even talking about them at all. There’s a subplot concerning a young, wealthy dude, played by Michael Angarano, who Nick runs into business with, even though Nick knows full well that this kid won’t be able to handle the heat that comes from the mean streets of Las Vegas; there’s the gambling-addiction that I alluded to earlier; and there’s a whole slew of familiar-faces that pop-up here every so often, to give us the impression that they’re going to serve some real purpose to this story, except, don’t.

Instead, they shutter away and sink into the darkness that is this movie’s background. And it made me wonder, why? Why would one try to hide more scenes from the likes of Sofia Vergara? Or Anne Heche? Or Hope Davis? Or hell, even Jason Alexander? Stanley Tucci shows up here in what seems to be nothing more than an extended, yet totally glorified cameo, so I didn’t include him for that reason, and that reason alone, but as for the others, my head needs scratching.

It would make sense if someone like Sofia Vergara could only film a scene or two for the whole film, but if that is the case, then why give her something so useless and forgettable as what she has to do here? Vergara’s in the first five minutes of this and all she spends her time doing is looking scared, fighting with her boyfriend, giving Jason Statham “the eye“, and then, when all is said and done, gets in a car and drives off. That’s it. One of the biggest, most recognizable faces working in entertainment today, and you give her is a role that could have literally had zero dialogue and none of us would have ever known the difference.

But not using it’s ensemble to the best of its ability, isn’t Wild Card‘s biggest problem.

More or less, the movie felt like it was spliced and edited together by somebody who had a major dead-line and didn’t know whether he/she could get it done well enough in time, so they just put anything together, in hopes their bosses wouldn’t notice and the movie would make millions and millions of dollars, giving everybody everlasting happiness. That doesn’t happen here, but there are parts of this movie that work – if only because they actually feel more focused than the rest of it.

For instance, the movie tries to make it apparent to us that Nick Wild has a gambling addiction. He makes several allusions to that throughout, so that when he does eventually get on a table and start spitting out “stays” and “hits”, it makes sense for his character and makes the movie move a bit more. Then, you add on that with the whole subplot concerning Ventimiglia’s crime-lord character, and you have a solid crime-thriller on your hands. Not because this aspect of the film offers people getting sliced with cards and throat-punches, but because it actually felt right for this story, as well as the character who was given to us.

Enough with this mushy stuff!

Enough with this mushy stuff!

But then, for some odd reason, the movie does try to have its cake and eat it, too, which doesn’t wholly work. It gets over-packed for no reason, and feels like there’s a reel or two missing. For some people, the fact that it’s hardly even an-hour-and-a-half may be lovely, but for some, such as me, it feels like an under-cooked meal coming straight from your aunt’s house. Maybe there’s bits and pieces of Wild Card lying on the floor of some editing-room in the deepest, darkest movie-studios of the Earth, but without them, the movie feels incomplete.

That doesn’t make it bad, because with what it does have, it’s quite fun.

As I said before, whenever Jason Statham’s mouthing-off to people, or kicking their rear-ends, it’s always a good time. The guy’s incredibly charming and to see him lay waste to a bunch of baddies, is just a pleasureful sight. And heck, even when he’s gambling, the scenes are shot in a smart way that actually shows the cards being laid-out on the table, what Statham’s character does with them, and the end-result; whereas a movie like the Gambler, continued to jump away from actually giving us a glimpse at what was on these tables. For all we know, they could have been playing a game of Go Fish! Though neither movie is better than the other (and also, they’re quite different), there’s still something to be said for a movie that works at what it originally set-out to be.

Even if it continued to get further and further away from that end result.

Consensus: Messy and too short, Wild Card feels incomplete, but given that the movie offers more than a few solid action scenes that don’t just concern fists being thrown, then it still deserves credit for working well with one thing, while not fully excelling at the many other one’s it tries to go for.

5 / 10 = Rental!!

And more of this! Yeah!

And more of this! Yeah!

Photo’s Credit to: Goggle Images

The Expendables 3 (2014)

They’re old. Get used to it.

Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone) and the gang are back and older than ever! Which means that with age, comes a lot more violence and harm in their way. And possibly, with their latest target, their lives could all be in actual danger. The baddie this time around goes by the name of Conrad Stonebanks (Mel Gibson) and he’s had a bit of a history with Barney. However, he takes mercy on him and instead, decides to injure the ‘eff out of Caesar (Terry Crews), leaving the rest of the Expendables wanting all sorts of revenge that they can practically taste it in their thyroids. And Barney knows this, which is why he decides to give his old crew a much needed rest, and start up with a new crew of youngin’s just waiting to throw their lives on the line for some under-paid mercenary job they know hardly anything about. Eventually though, the mission ends up getting a whole lot more complicated for Barney and his new rag-tag, which means he may have to bring in all the friends he can think of. Or, better yet, the ones who would agree to work in this for chump change.

It should be no surprise to anyone out there who has gotten to know me through the years that I’m a huge fan of the older action movies of the 80’s/90’s. They always hold a very nice place in my heart and will continue to do so, so long as I still maintain a sense of immaturity. Which is exactly why the Expendables movies, despite being an obvious ploy to get nostalgic-mother-humpers like me in the theater, have always worked for me. No, they aren’t perfect and no, they sure as hell aren’t nearly as good as the twelve-year-old inside of me would have thought it been, but they’re still fun movies that deliver on exactly what you want: Your favorite action stars from yesteryear, kicking ass and blowing shit up all over again.

"Grrrr."

“Grrrr.”

And here, with the third movie in this rather surprising franchise, that’s exactly what you get. But then again though, it’s what we should expect, so it’s hard to really judge a movie on what it’s supposed to be and clearly is. A movie should be followed and dissected on what it does with those expectations, and here, it’s something that isn’t nearly as fun and exciting as the second movie, yet, not nearly as lazy as the first. Somehow, this movie is stuck right in the middle and I think that’s fine.

Sure, would I have liked that there’d been less corny chit-chat between some of these strange duos on-screen? Of course. And while I’m at it, wouldn’t have I at least liked to seen more action scenes that didn’t just contain guns being shot, without ever really seeing what they do in the first place? Most definitely yes! But that’s just me being greedy and picky and all that bad stuff. And while I’m like that with most movies I see, there doesn’t seem to be a reason for any of that chicanery here.

So yeah, back to what I was originally saying – this movie’s pretty fun. And considering that were all stepping into what I know to be the “dog days of summer”, that means a whole heck of a lot. It means a whole heck of a lot that we’re getting a fun, action summer blockbuster, but it also means a whole heck of a lot that we’re getting it courtesy of some people we haven’t seen do stuff like this in quite some time.

I mean, well for Sly, Arnie, Statham, Crews, Couture, Lundgren, and whoever else shows up here that’s shown up in the past two, but as for the other “new breeds”, as I like to call ’em as I sees ’em, it’s great to just see actually working in something again. Even if the material that they are working with is pretty timid, run-of-the-mill stuff, it still makes my heart feel all warm and tingly knowing that, yes, Wesley Snipes may finally be in full comeback mode. Don’t worry, I won’t get my hopes up too high, cause you never know with him, but I will keep my fingers crossed because seeing him here, throwing knives, doing karate and whatnot, made me think of the good old days in which I’d sneak downstairs and watch Blade while everybody else in my house was asleep. The nightmares were terrible, but man, it was oh so worth it!

Come on, Wesley! Just pay your taxes for your gosh sakes!

But I digress, because this movie isn’t just about Wesley Snipes and his much needed return to the big screen; this is about everyone who is involved with the Expendables franchise as a whole. It doesn’t matter if they pop up just to wreck some mofo’s up like Chuck Norris infamously did in the second movie, or if they’re just around to be weird and wear other outfits, from other famous summer blockbusters, much like what Mickey Rourke did in the first movie. See, it’s the little pieces of this cast that make it all worth the while and even though the script is cheesy and at times, god-awful to listen to, it’s fun and it’s hacky for a reason, and it’s only made better because the cast totally seems in on the joke.

I would have dedicated a whole paragraph to him, but I think we all know that wouldn't have gone over quite as well.

I could have dedicated a whole paragraph to him, but I think we all know that wouldn’t have gone over quite as well.

Sure, I could totally do without Arnie self-deprecatingly yelling at people, “GET TO THA CHOPPAA!!”, but it’s something I take with me when I’m watching something like this. Sly and the rest of the clan have finally realized that instead of taking themselves so damn seriously all of the time, that they should just lighten up, crack a few jokes at themselves and move on. There’s no need for a super-duper heavy, melodramatic story about how we all need to get along and maybe even highlight some of the problems over in the Ukraine.

Nope, not here. Because here, it’s all about the guns, the blood, the violence, the shooting, the wise-cracks, the half-naked men, the sweating, the yelling, the constant “bro-ing”, the running, the helicopters, the tanks, the explosions, the bikes, the knives, the guts, the, well, everything that has to do with an action movie of this nature.

And Kelsey Grammar for some odd reason. But I guess we can just leave that as is. A little Frasier here and there never hurt anyone too bad.

Consensus: Everything you’d expect from an Expendables movie, yet, not nearly as good as the second, nor nearly as mellowed-out as the first. In other words, it’s just right if you’re hankering for some serious fun and nostalgia.

7.5 / 10 = Rental!!

More than half of who's pictured here could be dead in the next year, so they better get on the next movie quick!

More than half of who’s pictured here could be dead in the next year, so they better get on the next movie quick!

Photo’s Credit to: Goggle Images

Homefront (2013)

Them Southern belles and boys don’t take too kindly to British lads around their parks.

After a drug-bust goes slightly wrong, DEA Agent Phil Broker (Jason Statham) and his little girl Maddy (Izabela Vidovic) relocate to a small, abandoned Louisiana house where they are practically left alone and allowed to resume their normal, everyday lives as if nothing ever happened. It seems to be going well for awhile too, that is until Maddy violently retaliates to a bully, breaking this kid’s nose and everything. The boy’s mother (Kate Bosworth), despite looking like she’s constantly in need of a meth-fix everytime she shows up, somehow starts up all the right trouble, giving Phil Broker the kind of unwanted reputation that usually drives out new-folk to this small town. It gets so bad, actually, that she even goes so far as to call up her drug-dealing, big bro Gator (James Franco) who knows a thing or two about Phil’s past that puts him and Maddy in some serious danger. Then again though, Phil being played by Jason Statham and all, we know he won’t go down without a fight.

First things first, I think it’s best to tell everybody right off-the-bat that this flick is written by none other than Mr. Sly Stallone himself, which already gives you the idea that not a single ounce of this movie should be taken seriously. Because, in the past couple of years, with the movie’s he’s been participating in, it doesn’t seem like he has, so why the hell should we, you know? Some part of me wishes that this movie took that idea and ran with it, but instead, this is what we’re left with: A big, dumb, brainless action-thriller, somehow disguised as deadly-serious, slow-burner.

Even with the gun in his hand, The Stath's still got time for his daughter.

Even with the gun in his hand, The Stath’s still got time for his daughter.

And that’s the biggest mistake I think Sly could have ever made with this material.

With a movie this outrageous, it almost feels like you just have to make it something that’s quick, loud and to the point, just so we don’t realize all of the cracks with the important elements that go into making a movie. Elements like say, acting, writing, directing, originality, and so on and so forth. Nope, you can’t find much of that here, and even when you do, it’s not of any great quality to really call home about. Instead, we’re mainly just presented with something that should have been a totally fun, exciting and well-worth it time-burner, but we get something that takes its time a little too much.

Don’t get me wrong though, I’m fine with a movie trying to tell its story, set-up its pace and give us characters to care about, mainly through developing them and showing dimensions, but this isn’t that type of movie. It’s much more of something that should be balls-to-the-walls crazy, over-the-top and nutty, as if we were watching a movie dear ol’ Sly himself would have actually starred in way back when. Heck, I don’t know why he didn’t star in this one as it was! Sure, he’s a bit older now and most of the fighting scenes would have looked hella cheesy and tacked-on with him moving around, but who cares. His type of silliness would have made this movie at least somewhat charming, rather than just emotionless, but sometimes fun.

But you know, I can’t really get on a flick like this, because when it’s having fun, it’s a good time to be around for. The only problem with all of the fine action set-pieces is that once we actually get to the point where one occurs, it takes a long while for us to get to the next one where we have to pay attention to the characters, the directing and the most simplest of them all, the acting. Now, I’m not saying that any of these actors in these roles are per se, bad, it’s just that they don’t necessarily bring anything to the table, nor do they make the material better or worse with their presences being felt. They’re just there to act like window-dressing for a whole bunch of explosions, guns, bullets, drugs, sex and violence. A whole lotta violence too, may I add.

Jason Statham, whether you love him, or you definitely hate him, there’s a certain charm about him in these movies that somehow works, if only just for his character. He doesn’t really try to dig any deeper with this wholesome daddy, yet, savage beast known as Phil Broker, but he gets the job done more than he doesn’t. Especially when he’s just kicking ass, taking names and saying some sort of cocky one-liner that’s only funny to the people closest to the speakers who can actually decipher what the hell he’s saying underneath that freakin’ accent. Seriously, I get that the guy is born and bred from England, but he needs to help us out a bit with that “talk” of his. I mean, seriously. It’s literally been eight or so years since the last time he was in a Guy Ritchie movie. Help us out, pal!

However, the strangest thing behind this whole movie is that this is being advertised as yet another, big, dumb, stupid, action-vehicle starring Jason Statham, and somehow, these really well-known, very talented stars got involved with the supporting cast, making you wonder why they even signed up to do this in the first place. But after awhile, it becomes clear: They just want to stretch their wings out a bit. That’s not a bad thing neither, considering some of these names in here do desperately need to show us that they still got the goods to sell us on anything it is that they do, but there’s nothing at all for them to do.

Yeah, I mean that's trashy, right?

Yeah, I mean that’s trashy, right?

The most prime example of this fact would be James Franco’s Gator. We all know that James Franco loves to switch things up with his career, whether he’d be playing a wanna-be-gangsta, Allen Ginsberg, or even himself, it doesn’t matter because Franco’s one of the brightest and bestest talents right now that loves doing cool things with his career, and seems to always succeed at pulling them off, no matter how random or obscure those decisions of his may be. This is where I think he goes a bit too far with those odd choices, but it’s less of his fault, and more of the script, although he’s definitely partially to be blamed, too. The problem with Gator isn’t that he’s a bad dude, it’s just that he isn’t very interesting or even worth even being scared by. You sort of always know that Statham’s going to kick this guy’s ass no matter what, and most likely go home with a win at the end of the day. Franco definitely could have made this character interesting, compelling or even fun to watch, but oddly enough, Franco kind of straight-faces his performance the whole time, despite this guy being a backwater meth-dealer, which is already plenty enough substance to make a person want to go crazy with a performance. So basically, if you put these two problems together, you just get a lame character, with a very strange and dull performance from Franco.

Something I never thought was possible, but hey, I guess anything truly is possible in a Jason Statham, action-vehicle.

The rest of the cast fair-off a bit better than Franco, however, it’s obvious that they definitely try all that they can do to make this work as well. Sometimes, painfully so. Winona Ryder does what Franco should have done, and gives her biker-trash girlfriend enough craziness to actually make us want to feel like we want to watch her, however, it’s pretty hard to watch when all you know that she’s doing is just acting all crazy, just to act crazy and try to steer our minds away from the bad script; Frank Grillo plays, YET AGAIN, another villain but he handles it fine and shows that he can still steal the show, even if he does show up with only about ten minutes left in the movie; and Kate Bosworth, despite never impressing me before in her long-storied career, somehow becomes the most believable and most interesting character out of the whole bunch, despite her practically yelling, hootin’, hollerin’ and looking like she’s in desperate need of a shower, everytime it is that we see her. Never been too big of a fan of hers, but I’m always ready to be impressed and surprised. And hey, it’s like what I said before: Anything truly is possible in a Jason Statham, action-vehicle.

Consensus: While there are spouts of action, fun and tension to be found in Homefront, they still don’t add to much of a movie that’s worth investing time in, or even really caring for. You just want to see the explosions, the violence and the asses being kicked, so you can be on your merry way. Is that too much to ask?

5 / 10 = Rental!!

The first, and maybe only, time that Kate Bosworth acted out James Franco. He'll sure as hell remember this for the rest of his life.

The first, and maybe only, time that Kate Bosworth acted out James Franco. He’ll sure as hell remember this for the rest of his life.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Payback (1999)

I miss the old days when the crowd used to cheer for the Jew-haters.

Porter (Mel Gibson) is one of those crooks that you don’t want to mess with because he’s smart, tough, quick-witted, and always a step-ahead of the baddies. But yet, somebody has still found a way to mess with him and even better: has taken $70,000 of his hard-earned cash away from him and left him for dead. However, whoever that was didn’t quite do a good job considering he’s still alive and wants revenge.

After seeing Parker a couple ways back, I never knew this but thecharacter that Jason Statham played, Parker, has been played many times before by some pretty famous faces. Faces like Lee Marvin, Robert Duvall, and most recently (as recent the year 1999 can get), everybody’s favorite Jew-hater: Mel Gibson. That’s right, before it became common-practice to basically hate the guy with cold-blood, “Melodramatic Mel” was actually a movie-star, and a pretty good one at-that. Then again, you probably already know that since the guy just about kicks ass in anything he shows up in. This movie; is one of those instances. 

The movie’s tag-line reads, “Get ready to root for the bad guy”, but somehow, the guy isn’t all that bad. He’s a crook; yes. But he isn’t the crook that kills innocent people, women, children, cats, dogs, parrots, nuns, priests, etc. So, basically, he’s just a good guy that just so happens to be on the wrong side of the tracks and even worse: just so happens to be Mel Gibson (aka, everybody’s favorite action hero). And by, “favorite action hero”, I mean way back in the 80’s to the early 00’s, you know, before “the stuff” started to happen?

Anywhoo, other than all of that hooplah that nobody cares about, the flick itself is pretty damn fun and had me feeling as if I was watching an old-school crime movie, told by one of the greats. Writer/director Brian Helgeland isn’t necessarily what I would call a “great”, but the guy does know a thing or two about throwing out a solid, crime story, sprucing it up with some fancy twists and turns here and there, and allowing the guns, fights, and explosions to take their wind and keep things moving when it may fall-asleep due to a lame subplot. But it doesn’t feel forced, it feels good for the story and natural and every time the movie would go through some sort of change where a character would reveal something, or a new and crucial plot-point would somehow make it’s way to surface, I felt on-board with it all, as if I was just apart of some cruel, but fun game Helgeland had in-mind the whole time. I make it sound more sick and twisted than it really is, but trust me: you’re more than likely to have fun with this.

"Hey, your job's being a hooker. You all love flowers, right?"

“Hey, your job’s being a hooker. You all love flowers, right?”

In fact, I’d even go so far as to call this movie a “noir” of sorts as it has that cool, and slick look and feel to it, while giving it a visual-flair where everything is all grainy, as if the world these criminals live in, features people that are all color blind and can’t tell if that bottom light on the stop light is green or gray. This old feel, really made me feel like I was in for a treat, with a guy that knew the type of story he wanted to tell, how serious he wanted it to be, how goofy he wanted it to be, and what extremes he would go to ultimately have us never knowing what to expect next. Watching these crime-thrillers, you always want to never be in the clear about anything, and it’s just awesome when you finally get a movie like this to just allow you to sit down, relax, drop your brain for a bit, and also be ready to see a story goes places you didn’t expect. And even if you did expect the story to go into some places that it does, at least they do it in such a way that’s jokey-wokey, rather than all serious and unknowing. And even if they don’t do it that way: who the hell cares?!?!? It’s fun, exciting, and twisty, and just exactly what I like in my crime-thrillers. Especially from Mr. Mel Gibson himself.

Despite Porter not being all that much of an anti-hero as the promotional tools would probably have you think, Gibson is still pretty damn good at this character because he has the charm, he has the gruff look, but he has the acquired set of skills that always puts him ahead of the others around him, and never lets you lose the fact that this guy is always doing something for a reason. He’s a no-nonsense type of dude that may do something odd, strange, or typically out-of-the-ordinary, but don’t be fooled because it may just be another move that Porter has set-up for a trick in his sleeve. Gibson, before he was out yelling and howling at Jews and female cops, was actually a pretty cool and sly dude that people liked and cheered-on in movies and if you miss any ounce of that thrill, then definitely see this movie because it is Mel Gibson in full-effect here. For better, or for worse, depending on wherever the hell you stand. You can probably tell where I stand, and I’m staying there. Me, and Jodie Foster.

"Take this, JEWS!!"

“This is for killing Christ, Jews!!”

The rest of the cast is filled to the core with the likes of people you have all seen before and like, you just don’t know it yet. Maria Bello is always a great actress no matter what the material it is that she’s given and she’s good here as Porter’s love-interest, but feels a bit too much like a weak piece of service, the way her character and her plot brings down everything else. Granted, she does bring a nice level of action and excitement into the story when you least expect it, but all of the scenes with her and Gibson just had me taking a ticket to snoozeville, and hoping to come back to life before it was too late. Lucy Liu shows-up in one of her earliest roles as an S&M call girl that beats the shit out of guys, gets it right back, and does it all for the pleasure and money. It’s also very, very stereotypical but hey, I guess Lucy needed some way to get her foot in the door. There are others here, like Gregg Henry as the main chump who betrays Porter; David Paymer as a snarky, cab-driver that made me want to punch him square in nose (unintentionally and intentionally); and Kris Kristofferson as a big, bad mob boss that Porter ‘effs with by the end, and poses the biggest and most worthwhile threat of all. Everybody’s good and adds a little som som to the proceeds, but it’s Gibson’s show and he takes over. Big-time, bitches.

Consensus: Payback is a routine thriller that doesn’t have a whole bunch of new tricks to show on-display, but is always a blast to watch because of it’s twists, action, and utter coolness from the script, and Gibson himself.

7 / 10 = Rental!! 

Well, at least she got Kill Bill out of the deal.

Well, at least she got Kill Bill out of the deal.

Crank: High Voltage (2009)

Hearts are for wimps. Adrenaline is what the big boys play with.

Chev Chelios (Jason Statham) has had problems with his heart, but this time: it’s almost worse. This go-around, Chev still has the bad heart but also faces a Chinese mobster, who has stolen his nearly-indestructible heart and replaced it with a battery-powered ticker that requires regular jolts of electricity to keep working. This provides many, many problems for Chev, as you could expect, but problems he and his gal (Amy Smart) can’t solve on their own. If, you know what I mean?

If you walked away from the original Crank thinking that it was the dumbest ideas, and a brainless exercise only made as a gimmick because it was quick, fast, and raunchy for a reason: then this definitely won’t be your bag. However, if that first one was a brainless exercise you didn’t mind removing the insides of your head for, then grab a red bull, grab a bunch of buddies, and get ready to go! Woo-hoo! I’m amped-up already!

I don’t know what the hell writers/directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor do in their spare time, but I wouldn’t be surprised if these guys spend their weekends by snorting lines, picking up hookers, playing video-games, and then document all of their crazy and wild adventures of the night into a screenplay. Sounds a little far-fetched and a bit too 80’s glam star rock-starish to me, but I could see it happening because they really upped the ante with this one. For better and for worse, all depending on the type of person you are. The original worked so well as it did because it was fun, fast-paced, all-over-the-place, knowingly-stupid, and didn’t for a second take itself seriously. Granted, it wasn’t always the non-stop ride I would have expected to be in the pleasure of (you know, because the guy’s got a heart that needs to live on freakin’ adrenaline!), but still worked for my crazy mind at the time and that’s what made me happy to see these guys get all buck wild again.

Wouldn't be surprised if this was every woman's reaction to seeing Jason Statham.

Wouldn’t be surprised if this was every woman’s reaction to seeing Jason Statham.

The story starts off three months from where the last one ended and right after the first 5 minutes, the film gets right back into it’s hard-hitting, quick-moving, action-filled pace. But this time, everything and anything would, and quite possibly could, indeed happen. This film definitely isn’t afraid to be considered “offensive” and definitely doesn’t care what characters people want to see alive or dead. Anybody could be offed at any second, and you never know if the scene you get with one person where they are acting like total jack-asses, will be their last-time alive on-screen for us to have the pleasure of seeing. Or displeasure, wherever you stand on this one.  This idea made the movie fun because it truly made me wonder just where the hell this story was going, and whwre exactly the creators were going to end-up with. There is also plenty of the shootings, killings, murders, tits, ass, blood, and bullets, but the story is what kept me really alive and interested. Got to give a lot of love to Neveldine/Taylor for not just trying to cash-in on a sequel and do nothing cool with it. Can’t say the same thing about the Ghost Rider sequel, but hey, you can’t win ’em all.

One of the finer elements of the first movie was it’s humor and how everything, no matter how innate or crazy, happened for a reason and that was to mainly just entertain us some more for shits and gigs. That’s here once again, but in full-force mode. Everything that you would expect to be wacky, wild, and just totally insane to happen, does happen in the typical, over-the-top fashion and added a lot of joy to the final proceedings. However, I think Neveldine/Taylor got a little bit of a hot-head with everything, because they sort of over-do what could have been a movie that was just as funny as the first, if not more hilarious.

All of the funny happenings that made the first movie so comical, are here, but also seem to be very stretched-out and exaggerated for cheap-laughs. Like laughs you’ve already had before, but this time: is MORE EXTREME. For instance, the infamous scene from the first movie where Chev bones his girl in-front of a bunch of people in Chinatown is here, but this time, done to even bigger and badder effect. It still shows Chev boning his girl, but what makes it so much MORE EXTREME, is that it’s played-out in front of a horse-racing crowd, packed to the gills with people. Does it work? Yeah, I guess you could say it’s funny for the first 5 minutes or so, but then after awhile, the film starts to become like one of those lame-ass SNL sketches that never get the idea that they’re funny, and just continue to dig themselves deeper and deeper into a hole, almost until the point everybody wants it just burn to the ground, die, and never come back to life, including the actors apart of the skit as well.

I know I went into a long-ass description about this movie’s abilities to try their hardest to be funnier than the first, but it’s the truth. It follows all of the same formulas of most sequels, where more of everything is needed, just to up the stakes a bit more. That works when it comes to the plot, the action, and the pacing of the movie, but the humor just constantly keeps on hitting you over-the-head, and it becomes an annoyance after awhile. Maybe too much blow was the reason for that problem here. Just maybe.

"Say, Jason? Do you think you could take a picture with me so I can give it to my wife and kids so they know I've been working as of late?"

“Say, Jason? Do you think you could take a picture with me so I can give it to my wife and kids so they know I’ve been working as of late?”

No matter what “action film of the month” Jason Statham does, he always give it his biggest and best shot, and his second go-around as Chev Chelios is no different. Statham is a respectable action star in this movie, because he isn’t that afraid to put himself into some embarrassing and goofy situations, but also doesn’t shy-away from major bad-assery, as well. Chelios finds himself in more-ridiculous situations this time around, but it’s so easy to root for him that you don’t even care how many innocents he kills or how many crimes he gets away with. The guy is the freakin’ man and he kicks ass almost every single second he gets a chance to. And also, the guy gets to bone Amy Smart in front of almost every person to see! If that doesn’t show you how bad-ass he is, I don’t know what the hell will!

Speaking of our “bone gal for the hour”, Amy Smart gets to show a bit more of what she’s got as Eve, which I was real happy about because the chick can pull off some great moments, if she’s ever given the chance to. Not only does she get to show-off that she can be hot, sexy, and down to bang at any second of the day, but also gets to flex her action-muscles and actually have you feel like if she needed to, she could totally kick your ass and defend her man. That Jason Statham, is one hell of a lucky man. Even if he really isn’t Chev Chelios and getting the chance to bang Amy Smart in real-life. Then again, something tells me he totally is and it’s all just an act of his. If that’s the case, give the guy the freakin’ Oscar now!

As with any other sequel in the history of sequels, we get the original characters, but also a slew of new ones, and as the case with most sequels: some work and some just seem like filler. Bai Ling was really freakin’ cool as a prostitute named Ria, who keeps on calling Chelios, “her Kevin Costner to her Whitney Houston”. Ling has never really gotten to be this bad-ass before and it’s really surprising to see how well she can pull it off. It also helps matters too, that she’s practically half-naked throughout the whole movie so there’s definitely some fun in watching that, as well. The late, and I don’t know if he’s considered this by now, but great Corey Haim also happens to show up as some mullet, d-bag that gets involved with wild proceedings of Chev Chelios’ life, and it’s pretty cool to see the guy back in a major-role, in a major-movie release. Even if the movie is, Crank: High Voltage. Clifton Collins Jr. gets to pull off some campy villainous ish as the Elvis impersonator, El Huron. Collins Jr. does what he does best here, and that’s to totally over-play his evil role, even though I wonder if he and Michael Rooker have placed a bet against one-another to see who can bitch-out of being a villain in every movie they do, first. It’s going to be close, but something tells me Rooker may lose that one. To go along with Haim, we also get another late and great in this movie; and that just so happens to be David Carradine playing a character named Poon Dong. That’s right: one of David Carradine’s last roles ever was playing a guy named “Poon Dong”. The best thing about this wild and crazy cast of characters is that each and every person knows about the joke, and is totally in on it so to just watch them show-up, for no other reason other than to get pummeled by bullets, was a-okay with me.

Consensus: If you loved the first movie, then Crank: High Voltage will be exactly for you. It’s got naked women, guns, blood, gore, a fast-pace, Jason Statham kicking ass, and a Amy Smart sex scene. However, like most sequels, it’s a bit of an over-kill with it’s jokes that never seem to end or seem rehashed from the first one.

7.5 / 10 = Rental!!

This is what happens after a wild-night of partying with Neveldine/Taylor.

This is what happens after a wild-night of partying with Neveldine/Taylor. It’s even worse when they’re thinking of movie ideas.

Parker (2013)

Would have been more interesting if he had a ticker on his heart. Way more interesting, actually.

Parker (Jason Statham) is a professional thief, who doesn’t steal from the poor or hurt innocent people. However, all of his skills and professionalism runs into problems when he’s not only betrayed by his fellow criminals, but also has to take under a woman (Jennifer Lopez) for leverage. Since they’re both hot, you can already assume what’s going to go down between them next. Ohhh yeah.

I don’t think I’m alone in the boat when it comes to my opinions of Jason Stathom, action-vehicles. Yeah, they are all the same in the way that they are just loud, stupid, and just meant to show-off Statham’s rockin’ bod, but none the less, they are also quite fun and can be a lot better, if done the right way. Adding director Taylor Hackford (the guy’s made some great flicks in the past, but being married to Helen Mirren I think takes the cake on that career), a little bit of J’Lo love, and a bit of source material from the wonderful-mind Donald Westlake may make it seem more than just another action-vehicle for the dude. Sadly, it is exactly what I expected but a tad better than we are used to seeing and hey, in the month of January, that is not bad at all.

Most people have been bashing this movie for everything that it is, but I think most people are getting by the fact that it’s meant to be stupid, loud, and fun, without really having to worry about being different from anything else that Statham has ever done in the past, characters and movies-wise. Take for instance the character of Parker: he’s supposed to be the perfect anti-hero that does bad things, but also has a certain likeness to him that shows you he doesn’t kill innocent people, and only takes the money away from the baddies. Seems like an alright dude, even if he is stealing and committing crimes, but an alright dude none the less. However, that whole idea of having Parker play-out as an anti-hero, totally goes out the window after the first 15-minutes where he’s apparently back-stabbed, shot, and left for dead (not a spoiler, it’s all in the trailers, people!). Instead, he’s just Jason Statham, doing Jason Statham and that’s not such a terrible thing when the guy is as committed as he is in all of his action movies.

"Forgive me father, for I have...HOLY SHIT!!"

“Forgive me father, for I have…HOLY SHIT!!”

Statham is one of the last, or very few guys left in Hollywood that’s dedicated to doing lean, mean action-movies where he does all of his stunts, all of his work, and basically, anything that he’s asked to do. Here, he’s just playing himself and is charming, as always, and can handle himself when it comes to getting dirty and physical. He’s okay, and so is J’Lo who shows up as the real-estate agent who’s sad, lonely, bored, annoyed by her stereotypical, Latina mom, and even worse, pushing 40. J’Lo has never been a favorite of mine but she’s fine here and brings out some real fun and energy in a role that could have just been played so plainly and boring, just so all of the focus could be on Statham and all of the insane-o shit he does as an action-hero. I was a bit bummed to see that these two didn’t have much chemistry going on between one another, not just in the story but the performances as well, but I also think that Hackford sort of got that right from the start, decided to scrape it, and have some fun with this movie. Fun, is exactly what occurs.

The movie is definitely an action-flick that’s for the people with little to no brains, who just come for the popcorn, the soda, and the fun, but it’s a tad bit more than that. It’s actually sort of a heist film as well, where instead of seeing a bunch of brawls just happen out of nowhere, we actually get to see some crimes go down, the professional-way where everything is planned, everything is executed, and everything is pretty damn suspenseful  I’m not going to lie, I sort of did know how this was all going to end at one-point, but the thought in my mind that this movie could go anywhere with it’s characters and plot, kind of did keep me on-edge through a good-portion of this movie, even I did expect the cliches to start coming-through, as-soon-as-possible. But, then again, this is what we have come to expect from a Statham-actioner and there is a certain essence of joy and delight in that idea.

However, this flick is exactly what you would expect from a movie starring Jason Statham, and anybody going into this, expecting anything more, will most likely be pissed-off and terribly disappointed. I don’t know why you would because when you see the name “Statham”, you automatically just think loud, dumb, action-movie that only d-bags would go out and pay money to see. I didn’t pay moolah to see this movie, but does that still make me one of those d-bags? But I digress. If you go into this movie expecting anything new, improved, or original coming from the mind of Statham, you’re going to be ticked-off. As simple as that, people.Actually, I would probably say the worst-aspect of this whole movie isn’t just Statham, but it’s more or less the supporting-cast that surrounds him as they don’t really even seem like they are trying. And if they are, then shit; they just blow!

"I need a man more my age,. Especially one with the worst, fake-Southern accent I have ever heard."

“I need a man more my age. Especially one with the worst, fake-Southern accent I have ever heard.”

The main baddies are played by the usual people we see play these types of roles like Micah A. Hauptman, Michael Chiklis, Wendell Pierce, and of course, Clifton Collins Jr., who is probably playing his 500th villainous-role in his whole career. All of these guys try their best with whatever they can muster up, but it just isn’t enough since the script is so lame, and their action is so off-key. And by “off-key”, I don’t mean that they don’t hit the right notes they are supposed to hit like if they were a singer who just became deaf, but more or less that they are just actors that don’t know what type of roles they are playing, and instead of playing in a small type-of-way, they are so over-the-top and outlandish, it’s almost laughable to watch. Seriously, the first 10-minutes of this movie made me and my buddy just sit-back in our seats and laugh our pants-off by not only how ridiculous everything was, but just by how terrible these actors are. And maybe it’s not that they’re bad actors, it’s actually more that they were just not good for these roles and could have probably been played by guys who don’t give a shit about their careers. I guess Collins Jr. counts then, right? Also, Nick Nolte appears here as Parker’s sort-of mentor, who growls his way through another performance. Oh, and he also drinks in this one, too! Good to know you’re helping your image out, Nick!

Consensus: If you know what you’re getting yourself into when you walk through the doors of a movie starring Jason Statham, then you know exactly what to expect from Parker and that is loud, unpolished, and unapologetic joy and desire to have a good time, even if it is nothing new or refreshing that you haven’t already witnessed before.

6 / 10 = Rental!!

“Ehhhhghhhghhghhghhh!!!”

“Ehhhhghhhghhghhghhh!!!”

RocknRolla (2008)

American gangsters are so boring.

This is a flick about a Russian mobster (Karel Roden) who orchestrates a crooked land deal, millions of dollars are up for grabs, and all of London’s criminal underworld wants in on the action. Everyone from a dangerous crime lord (Tom Wilkinson) to a sexy accountant (Thandie Newton), a corrupt politician (Jimi Mistry) and down-on-their-luck petty thieves (Gerard Butler, Tom Hardy, and Idris Elba) conspire, collude and collide with one another in an effort to get rich quick.

After giving us two turkeys in-a-row like the ultra sappy, soap-fest that was known as Swept Away and the oddly slow and philosophical brain-take that was Revolver, Guy Ritchie was finally back to his old-ways in showing us gangsters that did bad things, said very funny things, and also, found themselves in some crazy situations that somehow connect to other gangsters that only live a couple of blocks down the street from them. Say what you will about it being conventional and nothing new for Ritchie to explore, but just be happy that he wasn’t doing another movie with his honey-at-the-moment, Madonna and making us watch as Jason Statham screamed his arse off for over an hour and some odd minutes. Yeah, be happy you damn people.

"What do you mean my next movie is some rom-com with that chick from Grey's Anatomy?!?!?"

“What do you mean my next movie is some rom-com with that chick from Grey’s Anatomy?!?!?”

Going back to his old roots may piss some people off because it’s nothing and nothing original we haven’t already seen from the dude, but Ritchie isn’t worried about that and instead, allows us to have a great time as much as he must have been making this movie. There’s a lot of goofy-stuff here with comedy coming-out in places you would have never expected and even some violent spots that just so happen to make us laugh but no matter what, Ritchie always adds in his style of wit that makes this flick seem all the more jokey, no matter how much it may try and be serious. You really can’t take a Ritchie flick seriously and even when this movie actually does try to do so, you don’t really buy into it and just realize that it’s better if you don’t pay attention to any of those aspects at all and pay attention to the finer things in life, as well as this movie.

The finer things in this movie is definitely the plot and just where the hell it goes, where it stops, where it changes, and so-on-and-so-forth. This is typical Ritchie: setting-up a plot for us, giving us all of the characters we need to know, let us know what they do, what the stakes are, and just let it all roll-out as if it was just one, huge Domino game. You start to see how a certain group of characters are effected by another group of characters and it almost never stops, especially with all of the damn twists and turns that Ritchie seems to take, yet, they never get old. Ritchie always knows when to say “enough” and rather than just continue to pile-up on the plot twists and have things get spiced-up a bit more, as well as more convoluted  he lets everything settle-in and have it become familiar to us, and then throw in another twist or turn, here and there just for good measure. Seriously, as much fun as it may be for us to actually watch this flick, it seems like it wasn’t even more fun for Guy to make it and that’s something that we all felt like we missed for the longest time. Glad to have you back, Guy. Now stay the hell away from that talent-sucker we all know as Madonna!

I think the biggest misstep for Ritchie here, as a writer and director, is that he never really pays all that much attention to every character the way they should have been payed attention to. For instance, in all of his other flicks, each and every single character was given a great-amount of screen-time that just so happened to fly-in whenever another character would show-up and become apart of their story-line, as well. However, here, in this flick, certain characters get the most attention, for the longest time, and then they stay there, only to ruin other story-lines of other characters. It isn’t that bad right from the start, mainly because all of the stories are fun and interesting to-watch, but once the film starts to focus on a bunch of other characters that haven’t been seen in awhile, you start to realize you don’t care all that much about them and it continues this way, until every story-line, in typical, Ritchie-fashion, finds themselves convulsing into a weird, but exciting finale.

It’s a trip that’s fun to take and ride-on, but it’s a bit messy and when it’s all said and done, you’re not really sure how it worked or even if it did. Heck, it’s almost like Ritchie was able to distract us all with his non-stop camera and writing tricks that he always has up his sleeve, and almost makes us forget that underneath the surface, is a very sloppily-made flick that forgets about certain-aspects that work, but remembers clearly the ones that don’t. I don’t know, maybe I was the only nut who was thinking that while watching this but either way, it definitely seemed a bit-off to me but also showed me that Ritchie is always the man to be trusted in terms of making a fun, entertaining flick, no matter how derivative it may be.

However, the familiarity of the style and story didn’t bother me all that much, especially when you take into account the quality-cast that he’s working with here. Gerard Butler is pretty solid as One Two, a tough-as-nails crook that always has a flair for wit, but also allows himself to be on the butt-end of a joke in terms of how he’s viewed-at as a tough-guy, that can also be a tad sensitive. If only Butler continued to take good roles like this nowadays, then we wouldn’t have shite-boxes like Playing for Keeps or Chasing Mavericks. That’s only a small list, though. Playing his two partners-in-crime are Idris Elba and a very skinny Tom Hardy, and as good as they both are, they aren’t really given a whole bunch to do that really makes them stand-out among the rest like Butler, even if Hardy’s character is a bit on the flip-side of the bed, if you know what I mean.

Does she not know who she's walking away from!??!?

Does she not know who she’s walking away from!??!?

Out of the whole-cast, the one who really steals this whole movie from underneath his wing is Tom Wilkinson as the old school gangster that does things his own, vicious way. Wilkinson seems to be having a ball as the mean and cruel gangster that doesn’t seem to put-up with anybody’s shite, no matter how heated or reasonable it is. Wilkinson never really gets to play evil-like characters such as these, so to see him have an absolute ball with it, was an absolute ball just to watch it. Playing his partner-in-crime is a fun and terribly-quirky mobster played by Mark Strong, who is really good at playing these types of roles, and is even better with his cheeky narration that supplies most of the film’s humor throughout.

I think the one performance I was really bummed-out by was Thandie Newton as Stella, the accountant that sort of starts all this shite between these countless blokes. She starts off strong, smart, and sexy, and seems like a huge-departure for Ritchie to have in one of his flicks since all of his characters are mainly just a bunch of fellows that do shit the old school, gangster way, but after awhile, turns into the type of character you’d expect her to be and it’s a bit of a bummer because she really had a lot of promise going for her. It was sort of like she was just there to move the plot along and as much as Ritchie may have gotten his wish fulfilled on that aspect, it still feels like a bit of a shame, considering he was really brewing on something here.

Consensus: Though it treads familiar-territory for Ritchie, RocknRolla is still a crap-load of fun that’s filled with witty characters, surprising twists and turns that you rarely ever see coming, and an ensemble cast that always seems game to work.

6.5 / 10 = Rental!!

"Hold on! I swear we're the only ones who have nothing to do in this movie!"

“Hold on! I swear we’re the only ones who have nothing to do in this movie!”

The Bank Job (2008)

Guy Ritchie is such a wimp. He makes heist movies about fake crimes. Who does that?!?

A car dealer with a dodgy past and new family, Terry (Jason Statham) has always avoided major-league scams. But when Martine (Saffron Burrows), a beautiful model from his old neighbourhood, offers him a lead on a foolproof bank hit on London’s Baker Street, Terry recognizes the opportunity of a lifetime.

I don’t know why I like crime movies so much, especially ones that are about a bunch of cons pulling off a heist. I think it has something to do with the fact that I’m such a wimp and couldn’t really do what most of these characters in these films do or that I just like to watch what would happen if some sort of heist went down, but either way, I enjoy these types of movies. Which is why I enjoyed this one.

The film itself, moves at a pretty nice pace where we get to know these characters, what they’re going to do for this heist, why they’re going to do what they’re setting out to do with it, and just exactly what may or may not happen once a heist is complete. It was pretty cool to see all of these crooks map out a certain plan of what they’re going to do and what was a lot different from the regular “heist” we see in all of these certain movies is that this particular heist has about 12 subplots connected to it, but I never once got confused with what was going on. Yeah, the accents were a little hard to understand at first but after awhile I just got so tired of them so I decided to turn on the subtitles, and woolah! I could understand everything these characters were saying. The beauties of having a DVD with you. Notice how I said the word, “DVD”.

As for the heist and story itself, it’s pretty fun as it continues to develop more and more since the heist happens within the first hour and then we have the insane after-math of it all too. To be honest, there were actually some real tense moments here that worked and made me feel like this story could go anywhere, whereas as sometimes, it actually did. Definitely a good sign when you have a heist flick that can be pretty unpredictable.

The film states that it’s “based on a true story” but the problem with that statement, is that it still can’t help the film in being another generic, heist flick. Yes, it’s a fun movie but I never really felt like much was at stake here nor did I think that any main character was going to go down in flames or be sleeping with the fishes by the end of all this. I know I did state in that last paragraph that the story did get unpredictable at times, but all of the other times, I felt like I knew what to expect next and thus, the surprise factor was sort of lost for me. Doesn’t matter how true of a story it is, if it’s generic, it’s generic.

Director Roger Donaldson does do a nice job here with giving this flick a very cool and hip 70’s look that hearkens way back to the days of such gangster classics like Get Carter or The Italian Job, but there isn’t much flair or color to this, other than a couple of funny moments. Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of fun to be had here but it lacks the frenetic energy and originality to it all like a Guy Ritchie gangster flick. I know that Guy Ritchie may not be the definitive director for such gangster flicks, but I think he brings a lot more to them than people expect and that’s what I kind of wish Donaldson went with.

Whenever people see this poster and see the headliner is Jason Statham, they automatically think it’s going to be some insane action flick like Crank where he just goes around, killing people left-and-right. However, his character isn’t really like that here and he actually builds up a very nice-guy character that makes us feel a lot more for him, so when his life actually does get put into danger, we can feel worried and scared for him. He’s basically just a scared old bloke, who’s looking for the score of a lifetime and he has hope, which makes him feel a lot more realistic than any other character he’s ever played before. Not a spell-binding performance by any means, but it’s one that makes us realize that this guy can do a lot more outside of just smashing skulls and shooting guns.

Let’s also not forget to mention the always stunning Saffron Burrows. Nope, she’s nothing all that special here either but she is still perfect eye candy and that’s all that matters. Rawr!

Consensus: The Bank Job is as generic as they come, but is still a perfect time-burner, with an interesting story, believable plot twists, and characters that we actually care about and want to live on past this heist.

7/10=Rental!!

The Expendables 2 (2012)

Finally, they got tired of the retirement home and decided to fight back.

Hot off their latest mission, Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone) and his ragtag team of mercenaries are pulled right back in the game when Mr. Church (Bruce Willis) presents them with a new assignment. It should be easy—to travel to Albania and retrieve a briefcase carrying a blueprint of a plutonium mine. The villain named Vilain (Jean-Claude Van Damme), isn’t exactly quaking in his boots, but he probably should be. There is exactly no chance whatsoever Barney will allow him to escape with his life.

I know I’m going to catch a lot of hot water for this but I actually liked the first Expendables. I thought it had awesome action, an ensemble cast of action stars that I missed seeing on the big-screen, and provided me with enough laughs to even everything else out. Yeah, the story may have been terribly lame and the action wasn’t non-stop, but at least it was fun and that’s more than I can say about plenty other Summer, action blockbusters that came out in 2010. Thankfully, with more back-up and some new faces, this sequel does a whole lot better and keeps everything moving in just the right way.

Since being writer, director, producer, and the main star of the original one proved to be too much for him, Stallone decided to take it easy on this one and allow Simon West to take over the director duties and what a great decision that was! Going into this film, I wanted action, action, action, and well, more action, and that is exactly what I got from West’s direction. In the first 10 minutes of this flick, we get a huge, loud, and explosive set piece that shows the guys running around, shooting and killing people while dropping corny one-liners for fun and to be honest, it got me in the mood for what I was about to get for the rest of the movie. It was also a surprise to see a lot of wide shots used for the action as well as some nifty editing tricks to where we could actually the action as it happened.

There is a story to be had here, but in all honesty, who gives a shit about that when you got these guys! There’s a whole lot of mayhem to be seen here and everybody here takes total and complete advantage of that and makes this flick seem like it was a lot more deserved in the action department, than the first one. I wanted loud, insane, crazy, and intense action and for the most part, West delivered on that and sort of gave me the old-school action movie feeling I wanted with the first one but instead, only got here once he put his magical touch on it. It also helps that these guys seem like they’re all having the times of their lives making this movie, and you can’t help but feel the same exact thing and join in on the festivities. That’s all I wanted, and that’s all I got and for that, I am very thankful.

However, as fun and action-packed as this movie may have been, there were still some quibbles I had with it in that department. All of the action seemed to happen with just guns and explosives. We do actually get a couple of fist-fights here and there, but it seemed like they cheated out on that mainly because the guys are getting a little too old to be flying around, simulating beating the crap out of one another. I guess after Stallone broke his neck during filming in the first one, they decided to settle down on that aspect, but it still worked none the less despite all of my bitching.

You also can’t help but laugh unintentionally at this film at times, too. There is a story here so I guess I shouldn’t be complaining too much but where it was going, how it was going, and why it was going there all seemed a bit cheap for my tastes and it gets very sentimental at one part, for which I didn’t even really care about. Let me just say this without spoiling anything, a character gets killed off in the beginning and it’s pretty obvious and doesn’t make a difference one bit. It sort of just happens and we don’t care which is kind of a bummer considering these are characters and performers we should love and care about, especially when their lives may be in one degree of danger. That rarely happens in action movies like these but let’s just forget about those conventions and try to suspend reality for a bit.

The ensemble for the first flick was great, but this one, well, it’s even better where we finally get to see some of the most iconic and popular action stars in one, big, action orgy. It’s a pretty neat thing to see, especially when they are all at the top of their game as well. Sylvester Stallone does a great job as the core of the film, and still looks fit and clean to the point of where you could imagine him not only having the brains, but also the guns (both kinds of guns) to kick anybody’s ass; Jason Statham plays Jason Statham, and it’s probably the best type of role he can play out there and that’s all that matters to me; Dolph Lundgren was hilarious and steals probably half of the scenes he’s in just being the normal, goofy, Swedish dude we all know and sometimes love him for; Nan Yu brings some estrogen to the mix and does a fine job of holding her own when it comes to kicking ass and taking names; Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger are all back for what seem to be extended cameos, but still get the chance to mow down some mothaeffa’s and sprinkle out some awesome one-liners that show them exactly why they were so requested for this movie; and let’s not forget about Chuck Norris. ‘Nuff said about that.

Everybody else that I didn’t mention is pretty much in the background but still does their own thing, which is good, but the real star of this whole cast is probably the ultimate return of Jean-Claude Van Damme in a major, action blockbuster. It’s been awhile since Van Damme has been in anything this big before and it’s a great return-t0-form for this dude because he still does all of the same awesome shit that we loved him for before. He’s still got the signature kicks in him, still oozes the charisma that makes him such a watchable presence in the first place, still is in great shape, and still can play somebody that we hate so damn much, but yet, we can’t get enough of. In my opinion, Van Damme stole the show for me and I hope that this gets his name out there once again and brings him back to the major, Hollywood blockbusters he at one point owned every time.

Consensus: While it doesn’t win any points in its character development, emotional story, or incredibly original writing, The Expendables 2 wins mucho points in providing plenty of kick-ass action, a look at some of the greatest action stars in the biz, and a fun time at the movie theaters that gives us one last bang for the Summer. Sucks to say it, but it’s just about over people and what a way to go out.

8/10=Matinee!!

Crank (2006)

It’s what it would be like for Forrest if he took coke before his big run.

The film centers on a British hitman in Los Angeles named Chev Chelios (Jason Statham) who is poisoned and must keep his adrenaline flowing constantly in order to keep himself alive, and in so doing causes mayhem, gets into fights with other gangsters, has altercations with the police and takes numerous drugs.

Take the basic concept of ‘Speed’ mix it up with a little bit of ‘Oldboy’ and throw in some ‘Falling Down’ for good measure, and there you have Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor directorial debuts. Sounds crazy, which it is.

This action film is pretty cool considering it has a concept that is used well and isn’t taken seriously one bit. The humor here ranges from deadpan, to tongue-in-cheek, and then surprisingly to dark material as we see some innocent bystanders get thrown into the deaths for good measure. There were moments where I actually found myself laughing at this flick and what it was doing, and I think the film was doing that along with me. The dialogue is definitely a lot snappier and cooler than we come to expect from our average action flick so we are spared the bad dialogue and attempt at character development, and instead we get blood, gore, and lots and lots of violence.

The action in this flick also works mainly because of the direction from these two dudes, who give the film this style that is actually one of the first to use this kind. These guys use a bunch of crazy techniques like the shaky-cam, to four-way split screens, and then to some graphics and special effects that you would see in video games, which all may take awhile to get used to after awhile but keep this film’s energetic and frenetic pace moving at a quick speed. It was also great to actually Quiet Riot and NOFX on a movie soundtrack, so that’s definitely a plus.

My only problem with this flick is that I feel like they kind of dropped the ball sometimes on their own premise. It seems like half-way through that these guys sort of forgot that Chelios had to keep on moving at a rapid pace in order to stay alive because there were plenty moments here when he would actually tries to slow things down and talk to the bad guys. This happens a numerous amount of times and I also just felt like they could have definitely done more of him ass-kicking people as well. I mean yeah, we get to see him shoot people but we never actually get to see a fist-fight every once and awhile but then again, maybe that’s just me being weird expecting more from a film called ‘Crank’.

Jason Statham definitely made this film work with his whole performance as Chelios because he’s the perfect kind of action star that can make you laugh your ass off at, but the next second he could totally scare the shit out of you by how scary and serious he can be. Statham has to do a lot of crazy things here like snorting and injecting just about everything in sight, running around the city half-naked, and even boning his girl in front of all of these Chinese people, and he makes it all work because he never seems to take himself too seriously here. Statham is the perfect fit for this kind of role and it was also even cooler to hear that he did his own stunts, which is always a bonus for me.

Amy Smart is playing that woman-in-peril act as Chelios’s girlfriend, Eve, but she’s good in this role because she actually adds a lot of sexiness to her role and her and Statham actually a have a nice little chemistry that seems playful but also very sexxed up. I wish the villains were a lot badder but then again, I don’t think it much mattered considering all I wanted to do was see Statham run around like a wild banshee, and that is exactly what I got.

Consensus: Crank may have some slow parts here and there, but its still a fun, energetic, and not-so serious thrill ride that knows what it is and isn’t trying to be anything else. Also helps that you have Jason Statham in your lead role too but then again, that’s always a given.

7/10=Rental!!

Killer Elite (2011)

I never thought that an action vehicle with Jason Statham would be ever be based on a true story.

Danny Bryce (Jason Statham), a former British special ops tough guy forced to come out of retirement when his mentor (Robert De Niro) is kidnapped by a ruthless criminal. Enraged, Danny has to dodge three top assassins.

So with a pretty interesting premise, three cool dudes, and what seems to be lots and lots of guns, this film seemed destined for total awesomeness. However, it’s all just dull.

The first major problem this film runs into is the script is very dull and doesn’t really bring anything new to this cool premise. I expected there to be a lot of twists, turns, and people ending up being who we didn’t expect them to be, but instead this just went for the usual silliness that we have come accustomed to for our action thrillers.

Another big problem with this film was that a lot of the action they put into this here film, is it is all filmed with that annoying hand-held shaky-camera crap that doesn’t look good at all in any film, and looks especially bad here. The reason it looks so bad here is because there are so many close-ups with every action sequence and it’s so dark to the point of where I have no idea what’s going on. The best example was when Statham and Owen first have their big duke-fest but you can’t tell who’s doing what to who, because they’re both wearing black and I kept trying to wonder who was throwing who, or who was stabbing the other in the chest.

However, I will say that the film does use it’s action to it’s ability and features a lot of cool, violent, and overall fun action to support it’s somewhat bad writing. There’s a car chase here that looks really cool because it’s filmed in what seems to be a 1970’s gritty Paris, and a lot of it all really seems cool to look at and if you need something to hold you over while watching, the action is right there for you. I’m talking to the dudes when I write this.

Jason Statham plays Danny Bryce, and basically does what he does best: kick ass, and say witty punch-lines after wards. However in this movie, they try REALLY hard to make you feel sympathy for Danny by tacking on a love interest for him, and trying to make us see him as “a killer with a heart”. I mean Statham is good at what he does but the way this film made him to be some sort of sweet-heart who killed random-ass people, I just didn’t really believe his character as a whole other than the fact that he could beat just about everybody up.

Clive Owen is pretty vicious here with his 70’s porno mustache and the name of Spike as his character. Owen seems like he came prepared to kick some ass with this role and does a great job with every scene he gets but I couldn’t help but think that he could do so much better with this role in another movie, that wasn’t as dumb as this one. I also have to say that Robert De Niro here as Hunter, Danny’s killing mentor, didn’t really do much for me here and it was such a shame because he gets about 15 minutes up on-screen and doesn’t do much other than that goofy, scrunched up face. This character could have really been played by anybody and at one point, I actually kind of forgot about his character which is a real sign to tell De Niro that he needs a new agent if he’s going to get crap roles like this.

Consensus: The action is fun and the boys deliver it pretty well, the problem with Killer Elite is that the writing is too dumb, the editing job is way too choppy for you to even know what’s going on, and in the end, it seems like this was just another dull and almost forgettable action flick that Statham seems to bring out about 3 times a year.

5/10=Rental!!

The Expendables (2010)

It’s like a family reunion, except with more explosions, and steroids.

Barney (Sylvester Stallone) leads a ragtag band of hired guns charged with overthrowing a South American despot, a job no official military unit is willing to touch. But once on the ground, the team learns there’s more to the mission than they were told. Their next move determines whether they survive — or are, indeed, expendable.

Ever since I heard of this films first being talked about last year, I was instantly already pumped for this to actually come out. I was a big fan of the action films, that took over the 80’s and early 90’s, and seeing all my favorites on the big screen, is like my fantasy (no homo).

The film’s plot is how should I say, just terrible. There is plenty of plot holes that doesn’t quite explain a whole lot about the story, and it does not make any sense as it goes on even longer. Also, the screenplay isn’t terribly written but at times it does feel a bit lazy. The jokes are some what funny, but the film tries to be dramatic at times, and it doesn’t work, and is just pretty weak.

But that’s not what this film is all about, it’s all about guns, killing people, explosions, knives, shootings, more explosions, and by the end of it all, laughing it all off, and having a good time. For the most part, the action was awesome. There was defiantly plenty of action to satisfy all action lovers needs, but I just wish there was more than what I was given. The beginning, and the final 35 minutes deliver on the action very well, but I can’t quite say the same for the middle parts. Overall, the action was great to watch, and for once I could actually see what was going on, instead of having to be totally confused, because of the constant swerving of the camera.

The ensemble cast had me first interested because it has all of my favorites from the era of those action films, as well as some other ones. However, it doesn’t use all of them to their full potential, instead the film is more focused on Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, and Jet Li, while everybody else is sort of just side characters for the story. However, all three are good and bring a lot to the screen, and when their not killing people, they have great times on screen together. Others in the cast that are good when their on screen is, Terry Crews, Mickey Rourke, Randy Couture, Dolph Lundgren, and Stone Cold Steve Austin. The main villain here is portrayed by Eric Roberts, who I think knows that he shouldn’t be taken seriously, cause I really couldn’t with this film as a bad guy, but if that was the type of performance he was channeling, than he does a great job with it. There are also two good cameos from Bruce Willis, and the guy that hasn’t been around forever, that’s right bitches, the Governator, Arnold Schwarzenegger. It isn’t the greatest cameo ever in the world of cinema, but it’s always good to see a long lost action hero, back on screen.

Consensus: The Expendables, may have a bad plot, and problems with its script, but it does provide plenty of the action it promised, and the cast still does provide plenty of fun for everybody.

7/10=Rental!!!

Revolver (2005)

Guy Ritchie aka The Bloke who heard voices.

Jason Statham plays Jake, a gangster and ace gambler recently released from prison. Determined to hustle the crime boss (Ray Liotta) who killed his sister-in-law, Jake deliberately humiliates the kingpin in a private game. But when the mobster calls for Jake’s head, a mysterious duo steps in to save his skin.

This is Ritchie’s third attempt at the gangster franchise that he seemed so soon, to get rid of. I wish it just wasn’t this film he came back to.

First of all, the film’s plot is really just crazy. A lot of things happen for no reason what so ever, and when they happen your just left with the sideways head turn. I tried to keep up with the story but I just kept getting confused again and again, until I just gave up on the story completely.

I spent most of the 104 minutes recalling where i saw a scene from in a previous film, or who each character reminded me of from something else. An examination of the ego and its internal and external influences on who we are (or who we think we are), perceptions of self, others and the world around us: BRILLIANT idea packaged all wrong.

Oh yeah, and there is some good action as you would expect from Ritchie, but to be truly honest there isn’t enough to save this film, and it just all seems so pointless after all.

The film is so different from his countless others as well. The catchy and witty dialogue from his others, are nowhere to be found in this film. The lines are serious and at times very confusing, of what tone the film wants to take. I couldn’t handle this as I was expecting something funny, but instead got this serious side of Ritchie that I never wanted to see.

Statham does a good job as the cocky lead role, and so does Liotta as the egotistical bad guy, who seems to turn orange every minute the film goes by. But nobody really stands out in this film, and that’s what I hated cause every film has colorful characters from Ritchie, but these people are just the obvious cliched good guys and bad guys in any film like this.

Consensus: Revolver is action-packed with some good performances, but it’s plot is confusing, barely any of the Ritchie’s trademarks, mixed with an even more confusing and just overall silly psychological twist.

2/10=SomeOleBullShitt!!!!!!