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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: John C. McGinley

The Belko Experiment (2017)

Take a sick day next time.

An ordinary day at the office becomes a horrific quest for survival when 80 employees at the Belko Corp. in Bogotá, Colombia, learn that they are pawns in a deadly game. It all happens when, out of nowhere, a weird, sinister voice comes over the PA system, letting them all know that they are trapped inside their building and that two workers must be killed within 30 minutes. Two die and the employees think that’s all there is to it. Little do they know that plenty more will have to be killed in order for the voice to stop doing what it’s doing and let the workers go. And for some workers (John Gallagher Jr.), this is fine, because they have a conscience and don’t want people to die. But for others (Tony Goldwyn, John C. McGinley), they know that the only way to come out of this thing alive is to make the weakest suffer and die off first. Ask questions later. After awhile, it just becomes a free-for-all where no one knows who’s going to live, die, or hell, even what the end game is here.

That look you make when you’re absolutely tired of all the damn memo’s.

The Belko Experiment seems to be going for some sort of message about the current day workforce, or hell, even the government in and of itself. After all, the movie is set in Colombia, where an American corporation is held, dealing with certain issues that never become made clear to us. Is the movie trying to say that foreign relations with the States is so bad, that everyone associated with them is eventually going to become killers? Or, is it trying to say that the workforce, in and of itself, is already so vicious in the first place, that eventually, everyone in it is just going to start killing one another to be the best, literally and metaphorically speaking?

I honestly don’t know. But probably not.

See, the Belko Experiment isn’t a very smart movie that wants to get itself all bogged down in certain stuff like politics, or hell, even ideas. It just wants to kill, give us a lot of gore, and make certain office-items into weapons. A part of that can be fun to watch, but here’s the issue with the Belko Experiment: It’s just not all that fun to begin with.

In a way, it’s actually pretty depressing and dare I say it, disturbing. But honestly not in the way that it intends; writer James Gunn seems to be clearly going for some sort of darkly comedic-edge, where heads are splattered and limbs are exposed, but for some reason, there’s still a smirk on everybody’s faces by the end of the killing. However, that doesn’t quite translate here at all. The Belko Experiment is a drop dead serious movie, which could still allow for the premise to fully work, but it never seems as convinced of its own darkness, that it allows itself to go there.

It’s always just moving along, steadily and surely, but is it easy to care? Not really.

What a courageous guy. Too bad that he’ll probably have to kill her later.

And yeah, that’s what it ultimately comes down to with the Belko Experiment – it’s hard to ever really care. Sure, watching seemingly normal, everyday people go to work and be threatened with meaningless, senseless death is upsetting to begin with, but the movie’s character-development is, well, lacking. For the first ten minutes or so, we get to know a little bit about the main players of the story, but mostly, they all just come down to types, so that when things do start to go awry and characters begin to make rash, downright questionable decisions, none of it really connects, or translates.

Take a movie like It Comes at Night that, in a way, is a horror movie, but not really. That one deals with the day-to-day horror of real life human beings, being shoved the brink of madness and having to act out in heinous ways that they’ll soon regret, but did for the greater good of themselves and the ones that they love. While the Belko Experiment never tries to reach for the same heights that that movie did, it still seems to touch on the same issues of normal people, having to act out in disgusting ways, to save their asses. The difference is that It Comes at Night made us understand and believe these decisions, where the Belko Experiment seems to just, well, give us conventional types, expect us to buy them, and watch as they hack one another off.

When in reality, who cares?

Consensus: The Belko Experiment flirts with being darkly fun, but also gets a little too wrapped-up in being too sinister and mean-spirited to be as exciting as it wants to be.

5 / 10

Conservatives, or just deranged dicks? You be the judge.

Photos Courtesy of: VarietyIndieWire

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Identity (2003)

That’s why you gotta fly high, Marriott Inn-style, baby.

It all started on a very-rainy night with a woman getting run over by a limo-driver (John Cusack). After this, the man tries to save her life by bringing her to a motel in the middle of the desert, owned by an odd man named Larry (John Hawkes). There’s no such luck, until a cop (Ray Liotta) with a prisoner in his custody (Jake Busey), comes on by. There might be hope, but there somehow isn’t, considering the more and more people that show up, the more deaths there are. But here’s the kicker: nobody has a single-clue exactly as to who’s killing all of these people in the shadows. It could be anybody. Hell, it could even be YOU, the viewer!! AHHH!!

This movie is such an obvious rip-off of an Hitchcock movie, it’s not even funny. Everything from the strange-o characters, to the tense setting, to the mystery, and hell, even to the actual motel itself. It looks exactly like the one that Norman Bates rented out for anybody that strolled-along, almost to the point of where the actual sign itself continues to flicker on-and-off to portray just how shady the area actually is. Yes, it can get pretty obvious where the creators took their inspiration from, but the distractions go away once the story starts, and ultimately: where the fun really begins.

Going into this movie, thinking that you have a hot-head for detail and knowing what’s good when it comes to any movie, may just have take your high-hat off for this one because it’s a total puzzle in every stretch of the imagination. Every time a new character is brought to our attention, more of a mystery is presented to us, and just when we think we know exactly what this story is all about, where it’s going, and who’s going to end up being the slasher behind the closed-doors; the movie still toys with us and gives us something new to think about. There were countless times in this movie where even I thought I had it all figured-out, but somehow I was stooped, once again.

Just had to get run over, didn't ya?!?!?

Just had to get run over, didn’t ya?!?!?

Movies like this where you can’t trust anyone, not even the director himself (in this case, James Mangold), always are a treat for me to watch because it’s very rare where I actually get to check out a movie that makes me second-guess myself, almost every step of the way. No matter what I thought was right, I was usually wrong. Even by the end once all of the pieces seemed to start to come together, once more, I was slapped in the face with a disapproving look. Not to say it was an insult or anything, but it was more of a slap to wake up, and look at the finer-details in order to see if I could really get on with this movie, and what it was trying to pull.

But most movies like this, with all of the twists and such, remind me of a young-at-heart relationship between two people. At first, all is good. You see where things could go, you get happy, and you start to appreciate everything that you have in front of you, even if you may be stepping-out of your comfort-zone a bit. Actually, maybe even a bit too much for yourself. However, suddenly things go awry and you realize that maybe not everything was as perfect as you once thought it was, and now it’s time for a slight-change. Or maybe, just maybe, it’s time to over-do everything, show the other person how much you care, and rather than gaining their love and support back, you gain other thoughts and feelings that you didn’t quite want in the first place. You know, the baddie one.

That’s how this movie felt to me. Once everything got ready and going, I was happy and ambitious. I expected the movie to keep me puzzled, glued-in to what was going on, and shock me, every time that it felt like it wanted to. However, things got a little crazy at a certain point that I eventually started to realize that maybe this movie was turning it’s wheels a bit too much. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciated the movie for being fun, clever, and original in it’s own type of way, but after awhile, it only went on for so long and so far, that is, until I started to question whether or not this movie even believed in the twists it was throwing at the wall and seeing what stuck, and what sort of just surely, but slowly continued to slide-down the wall.

Then, on the other side of the stadium, I am a bit torn with this movie because I enjoyed myself, had fun, and continued to second-guess myself, even when I was sure that I was correct in my pretentious, critical-ways (hey, it comes with the job). So therefore, I guess it’s all just a judge of character. Whether or not you are able to take the numerous twists the movie begins to launch into the story, is all up to you. For yours truly, some of it worked and seemed smart, whereas some of it didn’t quite work so well and actually seemed goofy. Oh well, that’s just me. Make up your own minds, kids!

But no matter what crazy shit a movie tries to pull, you at least have to give it credit for getting a cast such as this assembled, and allow them to do whatever it is that they can do to make a movie as goofy as this work. Nobody is really playing very far and away from what we’ve seen them do before, but at least they own it and are game for this type of material. At least. John Cusack is good as the ring-leader of the group, who knows exactly what to do, when to do it, and how to pull it all off so no more people get killed. You see that he has a past where the guy used to be a cop, but suffered a problem that left him emotionally-strained and messed-up in the head, therefore, he left his duty. But that doesn’t mean he’s a bad guy, right? Keep on guessing.

Ray Liotta plays, as you could expect, a cop that has a huge chip on his shoulder with a dangerous criminal in his custody, and a bit of anger-issue. However, as obvious and conventional as this may sound (even for a character played by Liotta), Liotta makes him work because you constantly believe that there is more to this dude than he lets in, even if the character himself doesn’t seem to admit it. Liotta is always good at playing these types of roles, even if it sort of has become a trademark of his by now. That’s fine, though, because the guy seems like he would do the right thing if he had to, but does that mean he’s really a good guy? Keep on guessing.

"No, you go first."

“No, you go first.”

The only one here who really seems to have a clear-enough conscience not be considered a prime-suspect in all of the killings, is a whore with a heart of gold played by Amanda Peet. I usually love Peet in everything she does, but she seemed a bit annoying here. It wasn’t Peet herself, as much as it was more of her character for having that loud, obnoxious Southern-accent that continued to ring in my ears, even when she wasn’t yelling at somebody for looking at her hot body. Yeah, blame us for this, Amanda!

But they aren’t the only ones in this movie, they’re just the main stars that may (or may not) attract the audience to the wider-show. There’s plenty more where that came from, and they are all great. Clea Duvall plays a young, just-recently married gal that’s having problems with her d-bag hubby; John C. McGinley’s character’s wife is the one who gets hit in the first place and is good at being awkward and twitchy, without reminding me of the legend of all this; John Hawkes is a fun-fit as the type of dude you’d expect to own a motel out in the middle of nowhere (meaning he’s a bit of a creep-o); and lastly, the lovely and equally-as-creepy Rebecca De Mornay is here as an aging, but still very uptight actress that believes she deserves more than she’s given. Art imitating life? Just maybe.

Consensus: Most of what Identity has to offer and whether or not you’ll be able to go along for the ride, is all up to you, the viewer. Twists and turns will occur, and it all depends on whether or not you are game for them. Me, I was quite game, but I will admit that there is some goofiness underneath the blankets of a story that seemed drench in mystery.

7.5 / 10 = Rental!!

Surprise! Surprise! It was the bubble-wrap killer after all of this time!!

Surprise! Surprise! It was the bubble-wrap killer after all of this time!!

The Rock (1996)

Well, at least he didn’t apologize for this movie.

General Francis X. Hummel (Ed Harris) feels as if he has been wronged by the country that he served for so damn long and decides to prove his dissatisfaction. How? Well, he rounds up a group of fellow troops who feel the same, get them into Alcatraz, take it over, hold hostages, threaten to use a bomb on the whole city of San Francisco, and keep a countdown of when the shit goes boom. There to save the day is explosions and chemicals expert Dr. Stanley Goodspeed (Nicolas Cage), but he has a special guest with him, retired agent John Patrick Mason (Sean Connery). Mason is the only man who knows his way in and out of Alcatraz, and uses the government’s help to his advantage. Bastard.

We all know Michael Bay. Love him, hate him, adore him, disagree with him. No matter what, we all know a Michael Bay movie when we see one. Explosions, skinny-clad women, macho-posing, bad one-liners, and a whole shit load of action. Nothing more, nothing less. Good, now you know what you’re getting yourself into, let’s get this ride going.

Everybody considers this to be Bay’s best and even if that isn’t true (I’m still a fan of the first Transformers, don’t ask me why), I can still see why people have thought so, even up until today. It’s one of those movies that has such a solid premise, that it’s almost hard to live down the bad-assery. First of all, you got Alcatraz as the setting and any time you have your action and craziness occurring there; you can’t blow it. Secondly, the cast is pretty top-notch with a bunch of dudes that may not have been the biggest and the best box-office names at the time, but still showed you that they could beat some beef when they had to. And no, not that type either.

What he has in his hand right there could destroy everything on this planet. Yerp, we're boned.

What he has in his hand right there could destroy everything on this planet. Yerp, we’re boned.

And lastly, and probably the most important: it’s just fun. It doesn’t matter how much detail I get into this flick, all that matters is that this movie is all the fun and excitement that it should be and that’s it. You got the usual car-chases, the explosions, the gun-battles, the bombs, and even a Mexican stand-off in case anybody thought that not everything was possible. In Bay’s world, anything is possible and he’ll show you too, just with enough craziness and nuttiness to go along on the side. If you can’t handle it, then you shouldn’t have even bothered giving it a look in the first place. You can say that about most directors, but Bay is the prime-example where you have to know if his name is attached or not. Sounds crazy, I know. But there are people out there that hate him THAT much. Poor guy. Just needs a hug. Maybe Megan Fox will lend a hand?

Does that mean it is anywhere near the type of film you want to see to tease your brain and make you think? Absolutely, positively not! Then again, with the name “Michael Bay” attached, you couldn’t and probably shouldn’t expect anything more. That said, this movie is pretty stupid and some situations did make me laugh, albeit the unintentional ones. One of the goofiest gags throughout this movie is how the countdowns always seem to change drastically. At one point, we are stuck watching as the movie reads “9 hours till detonation”. That’s fine. Seemed reasonable and it seemed like time did pass on. Then, out of nowhere, about five minutes later, the movie reads “52 minutes till detonation”. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph! What the hell happened to the pass 8 hours and 8 minutes? Did they just suddenly go by as soon as the people closed their eyes? Once again, maybe I was thinking a bit more than the movie, but that’s just a personal, random nitpick from yours truly. Once again, don’t think too much of it. I didn’t, and I had a great time.

Most of that good time is courtesy of the fine sets of bad-asses that Bay was able to assemble in almost every role, short to large. Sean Connery has always been known as one of the biggest and best bad-asses of our generation, and he totally proves that as John Mason. Some will laugh their asses off once they initially see the ged-up Connery’s decking, but after awhile, you get by it all once he gets a shave, a shower, and ready for action. After this hits, then it’s all feet-to-the-floor with him and the charm never stops. Even when Connery isn’t beating the shite out of somebody, he’s always finding a way to burst-out some snappy line that either he made up himself, or it was written for him so beautifully. There’s this whole subplot about him and his daughter that’s touched on a tad bit much, but who cares! It’s Sean Connery, in a movie, playing a bad-ass. Pipe down and enjoy!

Then, on the other end of the spectrum: there’s Nic Cage. If any of you out there know and love Nic Cage, the way that I know and love Nic Cage, then this is going to be one hell of an entertainment-ride for you. What’s so funny about Cage here is that since his character is such a dweeb-a-tron that doesn’t really know how to move in hand-to-hand combat and is as nerdy as you can get, then that means Cage gets to play around with that aspect, the way we all know Nic Cage loves to do. It’s hilarious to see him act like a total and complete nut, and even though there isn’t much else underneath this guy other than the fact that he’s get a preggo girly-gal at home and a pretty suit car, we still love the hell out of the guy. Then again, if you aren’t a fan of Nic Cage; you’re most likely going to hate every second he speaks. Yep, it’s like THAT.

Hes angry, in case you couldn't tell.

Hes angry, in case you couldn’t tell.

Last, but certainly not least is Ed Harris as the army general who calls this whole thing on and tries to go through with it. Harris is another actor that can be a nut when he chooses to be, and this role is no different. At first, you automatically think that he’s just an idiotic dick that has no real reasoning for doing the things he’s about to do, and you pretty much write him up as a unsympathetic dude right from the get-go. But, as time goes on and people start to piss him off more and more, you see a conscience come out of this guy and it’s believable. Well, at least as believable as you can get in a Michael Bay movie. But that’s still enough credit to Ed Harris who can almost do no wrong. That’s not just in my book, but a lot of others’ as well.

The rest of the cast is filled with a bunch of character actors that you have seen a hundred, million times before but just have never been able to match the name with the face. David Morse, Tony Todd, and Bokeem Woodbine play some of Harris’ fellow soldiers that help him out and do whatever they can to go through with their plan; whereas Michael Biehn and William Forsythe are among the ones that try their hardest to help out Connery and Cage. Whether or not it’s actually successful, I’ll leave to you. But, there’s plenty more where this came from and it’s always fun to play the old-fashioned, “name game” every once and awhile. Even if it is, once again: a Michael Bay movie. Okay, now I’m starting to get serious about that hug, dammit!

Consensus: Everything you’d want in a fast-paced, fun action film, is exactly in The Rock. You got guns, bullets, blood, cheese, bombs, explosives, corny one-liners, and a rare but fun Cage and Connery team-up, just to make sure you have as much enjoyment as you can, without having your brain intact.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

Look how much fun they're having!!

Look how much fun they’re having!!

42 (2013)

Thanks to Jackie, white men all around the world can now make excuses for missing their shot at the big-time.

Whenever you see a professional sports team on the television, most of the players are African Americans. Yeah, some whites here and there, but mainly African Americans, but it never, ever used to be like that. However, thankfully, one man had to knock that barrier down and that one man’s name was Jackie Robinson (Chadwick Boseman). Without him, we wouldn’t have blacks and whites playing aside each other in such sports as basketball, football, baseball, and so on and so forth, but it was harder than expected. That’s why Brooklyn Dodgers manager Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford) comes in to make sure that Jackie is above the people who criticize him and not stooping to their racist ways. Cause when in doubt: one must always listen to the guidance of Han Solo. Always.

Jackie Robinson’s story is an amazing and inspiring, but best of all; it’s all true. For so long now, we hear stories of these famous legends that have seemingly changed the world we live in, and yet, we always hear some stories about them whether they be a bit of a scandal or negative in anyway. That’s why it’s so nice and somewhat refreshing to get a story on a person that stayed true to himself on, and off the field. Not saying that Robinson was a saint-like person 24/7, but given what we know about him through books, interviews, and videos; the man was a wonderful that broke down color barriers for us all.

It’s such a wonderful person and story, that it’s honestly a real wonder to myself as to why it’s taken Hollywood so long to jump on this man’s story, and give him the biopic treatment. I mean, there was some B-movie in where he starred as himself, but from what I know so far: no movie has been made about Jackie’s life. That’s where writer/director Brian Helgeland comes and changes that all up. Not like Jackie changed the world of sports, but you see what I mean.

Is he a player on the Dodgers or a roadie for the Blue Man Group? Still can't tell.

Is he a player on the Dodgers or a roadie for the Blue Man Group? Still can’t tell.

What I liked most about Helgeland’s approach was that the guy focuses on Jackie, his life, and the way he plays baseball, but doesn’t allow it to get too corny to the point of where it’s almost insincere. Most sports movies that have to do with a figure in a certain sport that changed the way it was played or viewed as, usually get their image skewered in a way that makes them look as if they were the second-coming of Christ, with little to no flaws, and an incapability of saying/doing the wrong thing. However, this movie does not paint Jackie as that. From all that we know, the guy was a great person but he had problems coming to terms with the way the world treated him; he was constantly freaking out when people booed the hell out of him for being black; and he never got to share those heartfelt-experiences with his teammates, like they all did with one another. Nope, the guy was sort of a loner and seemed to be really upset by the way the world was looking at him, but he never really let it get to him fully.

That’s why I thought it was great to see this movie not just paint him as a person, but a kind and believable one at that. A lot of reviewers have been getting on this movie for not going any deeper into the psyche of Jackie Robinson and not exploring what really made him human, but I think that’s not the point of this movie. Granted, I would have liked to see some more development of Jackie, his home life with his gal-pal, and his troubled-times on the road, but those are all minor nit-picks in the grander scheme of things. The way that the movie handled Jackie’s story was a respectable one, but also a very honest one in where it shows us what this man had to go through in order to break down those barriers, and in the end: makes you see his legend even more.

So, with all of that said: is it an inspirational movie? Maybe the movie isn’t as inspirational as the true-life story is, but yeah, it still works. You feel for Jackie whenever he gets knocked-down and continues to get back up for more where you see him struggle by not being able to say a lick to anybody around him. For that alone, you really get behind the man but once he starts rackin’ up the points for his team and he really begins to turn on the skills; then it just gets better. After all of this, it becomes not only an entertaining baseball movie that has a great time with all of the hits, the runs, and the steals (in baseball terms at least), but a movie that takes it’s subject seriously and doesn’t feel the need to drop a bunch of gooey-tasting syrup down our throats. Some moments are like, but not all. And for that, I have to give Helgeland a crap-load of kudos for telling the story the way it was meant to be told, and not getting lost in the mix of conventionality. That could have easily happened, too. But thank the movie heavens that it didn’t.

Another smart-decision that Helgeland made as director was by actually casting an unrecognizable person as Jackie Robinson. And an even smarter-decision on his part, was getting a guy that actually pull the roll off perfectly. Chadwick Boseman is the name, ladies and gentleman, and it’s a name you should remember for awhile because he’s so great here, that it’s hard to imagine anybody else playing this role, without anybody in the crowd being able to get past the fact that it’s somebody we all recognize and can put our finger on immediately. Nope, not Boseman and what a find this guy truly was. Not only does he have the skills to make it seem like Jackie was a really nice guy at heart, but also have the chops to show us how much it really did take him to hold-back and not go all nutso on every a-hole around him. Just the look in his eyes would get me, and that’s the sign of a talented-actor at work. Maybe I’m selling him a bit too much here, but for me, I feel as if this guy’s going to get more and more roles as time goes on. And if not, oh well. Then he’ll just have to join the line of “promising, young black actors that never quite made it”. Right behind Rob Brown, of course.

"Go out, and get 'em Rock...erhh....I mean Jackie!!"

“Go out, and get ’em Rock…erhh….I mean Jackie!!”

Then, you go right-off the field and into the manager’s office where you find Harrison Ford as Branch Rickey, in the type of role that you’d never, ever expect him to play, but he pulls off stunningly. Seriously, I thought that this was going to be one of those roles where an aging-star takes to stretch out his skills, but instead comes off like he’s trying too hard to make it seem like you don’t notice him, when we all do but that’s not this performance at all. If anything, this is probably Ford’s best role in a decade (yes, even better than this), because it finally seems like the guy is having the time of his life for once in awhile. I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen Ford actually take a role such as this, and just make it his own, but not without hiding himself underneath the character to where we can’t get past the fact that it’s “Indy in a bunch of make-up and a fat-suit”. Instead, we see Branch Rickey in his duck-like cackle, his huge eyebrows, and his business-like way of negotiating things. His story may seem a bit “dickish” considering his character is all about getting a black player on the team for money, but after awhile, we see more about this person that may surprise you. Not just because this person actually seems to have a heart and soul, but because it’s so surprising to see that Ford can still pull-off dramatic scenes that make you come close to crying. I didn’t shed a tear at all throughout this movie, but I came pretty damn close at one point and that’s all thanks to Ford.

The rest of the cast is pretty damn good too, even if they don’t have as much screen-time as Boseman and Ford. Lucas Black is great as Pee Wee Reese, one of the only Dodgers players that seemed to have a soul; Christopher Meloni seems like a perfect-fit as the strong, but understandable GM, Leo Durocher; John C. McGinley is awesome to see on the big-screen once again playing the Dodgers’ play-by-play commentator Red Barber, nailing every line and wit the man had to offer; and also be on the look-out for a relatively nice supporting performance from Ryan Merriman as Dixie Walker, one of the last players on the Dodgers who couldn’t get used to Jackie’s stay on the team. Name not ringing a bell, okay then, see if you recognize this. Oh, how time flies by.

Consensus: 42 isn’t the definitive-movie about Jackie Robinson’s life on, and off the field, but it’s still supported well by a perfectly-casted group of stars, a script that shows us the harsh realities of the man’s life, while also the bright spots of it as well, and also throw some inspiration at us. Not a home run by any means, but at least a ground rule double.

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

Christmas Card-worthy.

Christmas Card-worthy.

Alex Cross (2012)

If only Madea decided to dress-up for the occasion.

The plot centers on Alex Cross (Tyler Perry) trying to resolve a series of grisly murders by the cunning and sadistic killer (Matthew Fox), who just so happens to be more of a threat than Cross, or anybody else on the task-force, had originally imagined.

Since I’m not much of a reader, I usually depend on the movie-adaptations to give me something good and reasonable that makes me feel like I have already read the book, without even opening it up. Maybe I’m lazy, maybe I’m a dummy, and maybe I depend too much on movies, but all I know, is that I like to watch movies rather than read books. That’s why I’m a movie critic and not a book critic (thank the heavens for that). However, movie-adaptations like this make me feel like it’s time for me to get my ass out to a Barnes & Noble (notice how I didn’t say Borders, RIP), and start reading what was really supposed to happen in the first-place, until Hollywood had to take it over and shit everything up.

This is not the first Alex Cross movie to ever be done before. Apparently Morgan Freeman starred in two of those adaptations and did pretty well, both for the movie and for the books as well. Sadly, it seems like Hollywood wanted to see what they could stretch out of that series once again and it’s a stupid-move that they should have just left with the Freeman. But, you would think with a director like Rob Cohen (who has done fun, but dumb action-flicks like The Fast and the Furious, XXX, and Stealth), that there would be something even remotely promising to see, but somehow. Cohen totally drops the ball on that idea.

I’ve never been a fan of Cohen, but the guy does have some fun movies to his credit but this one, is not one of them mainly because it seems like a lazy direction from the guy. Nothing here feels like anything new, original, or improved that we haven’t seen before already and just feels like one, long episode of CSI that you have to go out and pay for actually see. That wouldn’t have been so bad either, if the film just decided to relax a little bit with it’s camera-movements but they didn’t, and instead gave me a freakin’ head-ache. And when I mean that it gave me a head-ache, I mean exactly that.

I’ve seen so many damn films that have this shaky-cam, and they have all bothered me but have never made me sick or had any physical impact on me, until I saw this movie. Seriously, it’s so bad that during one scene where Perry and Fox face-off in what was supposed to be a climactic/epic head-to-head battle, that you cannot what is happening to who in the fight. You see people getting hit and you hear some damage being done, mainly because of the corny sound-effects, but there’s no actual sight of or understanding of what’s happening. It’s just a camera moving in such a rapid-fire way that it will anger even the biggest Tony Scott fans. Yes, it’s that bad.

However, when there’s a will, there is a way and I can’t say that this movie was all that terrible in every-aspect, especially in terms of the acting. I highly doubt that people imagined Tyler Perry would be the go-to-guy to take over a role that was once captured so famously by Morgan Freeman, because so many people thought it would have been Idris Elba in the role. And in all honesty, Elba would have done such a better job with a this role, even though Perry’s not all that terrible either. It’s obvious that Perry has a decent-amount of likability to him that shines through most of the movie, and for about the first 30 minutes, he captures that well and makes it seem believable. The problem that he runs into is when the film, and his character start to take a darker-edge towards everything and it feels very-forced in a way that didn’t even seem like Perry was all that infuriated. His character is supposed to mad and hellbent on revenge for something tragic that has happened to him, but it never feels like he actually is, and more or less, just feels like a guy that’s a little ticked-off. Can’t say why he’s ticked-off in the first-place, but it’s something that would infuriate anybody, but apparently Alex Cross is too composed for that.

The main villain who causes this tragedy, is named Picasso and is played by an almost unrecognizable Matthew Fox. When this movie was all said and done, I felt really bad for Fox because the guy goes through this huge and insane physical transformation that really seems like he put a lot of hard-work into, but seems undeserved for a movie that doesn’t really do anything with it, let alone even show it all that much to freak us the hell out. Since the camera is always shaking it’s ass off as if it was in a wild, ecstasy-fueled rave, Fox’s clean-cut body never gets to see the full light-of-day and is barely shown in it’s full-look to actually have us intimidated by what this guy can and most likely could do with his body. However, I can’t put too much of the blame on the camera as it’s also Fox to blame for this character being an ultra-lame villain that just seems like he’s phoning it all in, with crazy eyes and all. He’s a laughable villain, that never seems like a real threat to Cross and for the most part, never feels like Cross is even a real threat to him either. They just feel like two guys that have a problem with one another, but still don’t have anything special about either of them that could really eff-up the other person. It’s just a lame and boring rivalry that never feels fully-established.

As for the rest of the cast, they’re all okay but once again, it’s a bunch of talent that feels wasted on material that couldn’t give a shit if they were in these roles or not, they’re just there to fill them in. Edward Burns is good as Cross’ buddy/fellow-cop and does his usual Irish-guy shtick that we all know and love by now, but even his relationship with Cross feels lack it really lacks something to make it memorable and believable friendship that could stand all of the heart-ache that they go through. Rachel Nichols once again shows-up as another sexy girl, in a movie that sucks and does fine with it, but still feels like she deserves bigger and better for her looks and talents; Jean Reno is fine, but only shows up for 7 minutes throughout the whole film; Dr. Cox, aka John C. McGinley feels like he’s really lost in this movie and deserves way, way better; and Cicely Tyson probably does the best job of the whole cast as Cross’ mommy, who shows up to give nice advice on life and what he should do next.

Consensus: Alex Cross is what you expect from any conventional/unoriginal detective-movie that feels like it could have been so much better, but just isn’t because of it’s lazy-direction, under-written roles that feels like a big waste of time for the talent that’s in them, and an incredible over-use of the “crack-cam” that I always hate to see in movies, except for The Bourne Ultimatum, but I’m going to act like I didn’t even mention that movie in the review for this one.

4/10=Crapola!!

Office Space (1999)

Life in a cubicle.

Overwhelmed by stress on the job, Peter Gibbons (Ron Livingston) goes in for therapy and comes out with a life-changing career philosophy: work sucks. Eager to begin a new life of unemployment, he decides to spend more time with his sexy girlfriend (Jennifer Aniston) and less time at he office.

Everybody, at one time or another, has hated getting up early, getting stuck in traffic, and going to work where they stay from 9 to 5. It’s all so monotonous and pretty much anybody who has ever worked a day in their life can say that they can easily relate to a premise like this, and I can as well even though I’m not much of a big worker. Thank God for that!

Writer/director Mike Judge is a dude that can be very funny mainly because of how he is able to make a satire about regular, every-day life and this time chooses something we all know a lot about: work. The satire here is that this company, Initech, are pretty much a joke in and of themselves. For anybody that has ever worked a job, whether you were in a cubicle or not, you can still probably go “Yeah, that’s what I’m talking about bitch!” when Peter starts to over-sleep and miss work or when him and his pals go out to destroy the officer copier. Regardless of what sort of jobs you have done in your life, shitty or non-shitty, it’s still something that everybody can relate to and laugh at.

A lot of this film is very, very quotable and funny without even really being lewd or raunchy. So many comedies in today’s world are pretty much based on how funny they can place the word “fuck” in thier lines, but here, it’s all about Judge’s writing and how he is pretty much able to make painful observations on life. Everything you would expect a job like this to be, it exactly that: hell. Very simple piece of comedy with a couple of running gags here and there, and a nice feel of satire to make you realize that work really does suck. Then that’s when you wake up and realize that yeah, it does suck but it’s what pays the bills so I’m gonna go anyway. Sucks to say but true.

Problem is with a lot of this flick is that as funny and biting as its satire may be, something happens to it in the middle where we lost a lot of what really had me going for the first couple of acts. When Peter was walking into work late and not really giving a shit about anything and telling his higher-ups that, I thought it was awesome because it’s something we would all love to do but have no balls to do so. However, there’s a middle patch where the flick starts to show Peter in a rut, where he may be getting put in jail and we see this film go into more of a farce rather than a satire. Sometimes, farces aren’t so bad but here, it was sort of a disappointment considering everything else was working so well.

That was a strange problem I had with the flick, as well as noticing that a lot of the laughs weren’t really coming up all that much, probably because they start to focus on the plot. The plot isn’t so terrible, but it starts to get really thin and rather than focusing on the stuff that mostly worked and made me laugh, like all of the office scenarios and incidents, they try to go with this semi-crime caper of a movie that doesn’t really keep you interested or laughing. However, you got to give a lot of love to Judge for actually pulling something off like this and being one of the first people to do it too.

Ron Livingston lives it up here as Peter and basically gives this guy the cool, laid-back persona where you know that if you were to see this guy on the street, you would give him a huge high-five just for being so cool; Gary Cole is pretty much awesome as everybody’s worst nightmare of a boss, Lumbergh; David Herman is funny as hell as Michael Bolton, no not that one but trust me, they do bring it up enough times here; Jennifer Aniston is great in a very young role from her as Peter’s lovey-dovey girlfriend, Joanna; and how could I ever forget the hilarious Stephen Root as Milton, aka a dude who should have been and should still be the spokesperson for Swingline staplers because honestly, imagine how much business that would do for them. It’s great to see a cast with a bunch of unknowns that can all do awesome in their own roles, but now they pretty much can’t escape the roles they all play here, with the exception of Aniston of course. May not be the worst thing in the world really, but then again, it would get old real quick if people were just coming up to you saying “Aren’t you that dude from Office Space?”.

Consensus: Office Space may not have the best plot out there, but it still a comedy that works mainly because of its satire of middle-class, blue-collar America with hilarious one-liners, and pitch-perfect observations from the master, Mike Judge. Definitely gets better if you have ever worked a job in your life too.

8/10=Matinee!!

Halloween Horror Movie Month: Seven (1995)

Pitt being Pitt, Morgan being Morgan, Spacey being Spacey, and Fincher being Fincher. Hell yeah.

Two homicide detectives are on a desperate hunt for a serial killer whose crimes are based on the “seven deadly sins”. The seasoned Det. Sommerset (Morgan Freeman) researches each sin in an effort to get inside the killer’s mind, while his novice partner, Mills (Brad Pitt), scoffs at his efforts to unravel the case.

David Fincher is a total mad-man and I think he has only gotten better as the years have gone on, but it’s great to see where it all started.

This film is straight-up messed up however, it is also a very smartly written one to say the least which is a lot of thanks to writer Andrew Kevin Walker, who did a lot of junk before and after this film but somehow got thing clickin’ at the right time and place. The film shows the characters always one step behind the killer so we’re constantly left wondering how is this damn guy so freakin’ smart and we don’t quite know what he’ll do next. It fully keeps you on the edge of your seat, until the grand finale comes up and then were left with, “Wow”.

However, it’s not the smarty-pants that the killer has is what’s so good about this screenplay, it’s the fact that it is actually horror/thriller film that has something to say. The killer’s motives really stuck into my head because he is only doing this to people that are not innocent, but more as to people who deserve it because of the hurt and pain they push onto others so subtly. This film will mess with how you view the world and most of all will take you inside of the mind of the serial killer it’s showing, which is unlike any thriller I have ever seen before. What the killer says is still in my mind and will stick with yours probably too.

The real reason this film works though is Fincher’s direction, that is almost nothing short of brilliant. His use of lighting still works in any film, and especially here because he knows how to make any place, no matter where it may be, and just make it the most dirty, grimy, and disturbing place you have ever seen on film. The thing is though, that he’s making Chicago look like this shit-hole where it doesn’t stop raining for a whole week. All of Fincher’s visual flairs add to the depressed and dark setting of this film and just about every sequence is thrilling just by the way he keeps the tension and mystery going.

Oh and let’s not forget the opening title sequence to the remix of the song “Closer” by Nine Inch Nails. Like that damn song didn’t already have me creeped out. Thanks Finch.

I also liked the fact that we never actually got to see any of the killing’s happen, and more of just the aftermath of these grisly murders. There’s a lot to be shocked by after seeing this film, and although I have seen this about 4 times now, I have to say that I still get a little grossed out by what I see. Others may like this, may despise it and this is one of those films where it’s just “not for everybody”. That can be said for a lot of Fincher films except for maybe his last two that came out, but with The Girl With the Dragon Tatoo, I think he’s back on-track for grossing people out again.

The cast is also nothing short of magnificent either. Brad Pitt is great as the young, cocky, and headstrong cop David Mills who wants to get the bad-guy at any way possible, and Morgan Freeman is even better as William Somerset, the laid-back, seasoned cop who plays the voice of reason every time Mills gets a little loose with it. They’re contrast of old school vs. new school is amazing to see on-screen and they work together so well having me actually believing them as a real-life detective team. The real shining star of this whole film is probably Kevin Spacey, who you will probably be stuck remembering long after the final credit reels off the screen. I can’t say much else about this role, but this is easily the best performance from the whole film by just how much he gets into not only the character’s heads, but also the audiences head as well.

Consensus: Although it may not be for everybody, Seven is still one of Fincher’s best with a tension-filled atmosphere, brilliant script, superb writing, and a grand finale that will be sure to stay in your mind way long after the film is over.

9/10=Full Price!!

Wall Street (1987)

Not much has changed in the past two decades, except for maybe Charlie Sheen. He’s changed a whole damn lot.

Enterprising stockbroker Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen) falls under the enticing spell of Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas), an unabashedly greedy Wall Street arbitrageur who tutors him in the unscrupulous tactics that put the corporate raider on top. But when Gekko embroils his protégé in an insider-trading scheme that may risk the jobs of kith and kin, Fox develops a conscience and decides to turn the tables.

This one was written and directed by a favorite of mine, Oliver Stone. This was around the time he was hot off  the huge Oscar winner, Platoon, and although this one isn’t as great as that one, it’s still alright.

As director, Stone knows what he’s doing but it’s all pretty simple with this film despite good camera-work that moved all-over-the-place, to give us the feeling of being busy that these stockbrokers always had. But when it comes to writing, Stone has been better.

The dialogue is alright but there are way too many lines that I felt were just too “movie-made”. All of the dialogue feels like it could have easily been quotable, but I just didn’t think people talked like these guys were with all their macho hammy bullshit sayings. I think it was more the 80’s to blame, rather than Stone himself because I guess what they thought was cool to say back in the 80’s, just seems lame and cheesy now.

The only line from this film that anybody really quotes, hell, even remembers is “Greed is good”, which is no surprise because the whole film practically is about that line and it’s the truth which is why this film still works in today’s world. There is still corporate greed running all over the world and it’s a shame that after almost 23 years later, that this shit is still happening and still around but I guess that’s what really matters about this film. We can still watch it today and have as much of an connection to it today, as anybody would have had then.

Michael Douglas is very good in this role as the evil, Gordon Gekko. Right as soon as you see this dude with the slick hair, the huge white collar, the suspenders, and the cell phone that’s the size of my head, you know he’s a total scumbag, but Douglas does a great job at making a scumbag look good. Douglas knows how to make Gekko seem like a total prick, but just a prick who wants more money, more respect, and more power to basically take over any company just to the point of where he can about be one of the richest men in the world. Gekko is the type of guy, you just hate, but there’s something about him that directs your attention towards him right away. That’s all thanks to Douglas and although I don’t usually like him as an actor, I think he does a very great job as Gekko and makes him the personification for everything that’s wrong with the economy.

The rest of the cast is pretty good too. Charlie Sheen is good with his yuppie schtick as Bud Fox (what a dumb name), but as the film goes on he gets more cocky and angry, and it’s actually kind of hard to take him as seriously as the film wanted us to. Martin Sheen doesn’t have the same problem his son does and actually has a couple of very emotional scenes. Daryl Hannah doesn’t bring anything to this film as Bud’s main squeeze, and could have been left out of the picture completely and it wouldn’t have mattered either way. Terence Stamp, John C. McGinley, James Spader, Hal Holbrook, and Sean Young are all good.

Consensus: Wall Street has a powerful performance from Douglas, and features a timeless look on the Wall Street circuit, but falls for too many 80’s cliches like the lame and cheesy sayings in the script, the annoying synthesizer, and just the feeling that nothing else here is really authentic.

7/10=Rental!!

Any Given Sunday (1999)

Football is a lot more messed up than I thought.

Master director Oliver Stone crafted this look at the gritty world of professional football, capturing the trials and tribulations of the fictional Miami Sharks, a team beset by unnecessary roughness on and off the field. Stone’s brilliant ensemble cast includes Al Pacino, Jamie Foxx, Cameron Diaz and Dennis Quaid in a full-blown assault on the senses, portraying every tackle, pass — and torn ligament — in vivid detail.

I like, and I play football. I think it’s tough, fun, and overall vicious sport that if your good at, well then be ready for the big bucks. However, sports in today’s world isn’t always the happiest place to be. Oliver Stone knows what I’m talking about.

As usual with an Oliver Stone film, this is packed and packed with a lot of information, and stories that all seem to occupy the 2 hour and 43 minute time limit. This film is very long, and I must say that if you do not want to sit by a movie for a very long time, where you may not like many of the characters, you may not want to check this film out.

There are a lot of interesting parts every once and awhile, and Stone does a great job of filming it all. The football scenes are perfect by the way they portray every hit, every cheer, every sack, and every single little piece of pain that is involved within a game of football. He also uses his crazy camera-work, that moves from story to story, and the use of loud, percussive music and rap feel like life itself and it keeps us involved with this film as well as the big game itself.

I just wish that there were more parts to this film that seemed like they were needed. I feel like Stone was putting some of these random parts in to create more compelling stories that would have us attached to all of these characters, and it just kind of got tire-some. There seemed to be more random parts then there were actually parts that were needed in this film, but I will give Stone credit for at least adding all these other elements to this film to get the full spectrum, and at least make it something easy to follow. The script isn’t so bad either, it’s just all over the place, but it is entertaining cause it shows the world we live in where the game has changed from being prideful to more commercial.

Al Pacino is perfect and exactly what his character requires: a hard-arsed, old school coach with more honor than commercial savvy. He loves the game he discovered 30 years ago and cannot face the prostitute that it has become. Dennis Quaid is great as the faded glory of the old game: tattered, bruised, bleeding and down but not quite out. Together they quantify everything that is good about sport. Cameron Diaz is surprisingly good as Al’s polar opposite: young, fiscal and dynamic. She has inherited a job she doesn’t want but cannot quit. She sees football as a game of commerce, not endeavor. She is supported by an amazing Jamie Foxx, the tough, brash youngster given a shot at the top position and grabbing it for all he’s worth. Together they quantify everything that is real about sport in the USA. I liked how the film showed how these two opposing sides faced off against each other, even though their all on the same side. It’s old school vs. new school, and you get to decide who wins in the end. There are others in this huge ensemble cast that are worth noting such as LL Cool J, James Woods, Matthew Modine, John C. McGinley, Aaron Eckhart, Lawrence Taylor, and the man himself, Jim Brown.

Consensus: Oliver Stone’s “football movie” is a bit messy and some parts don’t seem like they belong at all, but Stone’s direction that captures the perfect feel of the game, and the perfect performances of the cast make this a film that any football fan can and probably will enjoy. It will just take about 2½ hours out of your day to watch it.

7/10=Rental!!

Set It Off (1996)

Four crazy ass black woman, that guys don’t have just all the fun robbing places.

Sick of being victims of circumstance and fighting a system that keeps them from realizing their dreams, four black women from the Los Angeles projects opt to knock over a bank. Emboldened after pulling off the heist, they continue their crime spree. But the sticky-fingered quartet (played by Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith, Vivica A. Fox and Kimberly Elise) is unaware that a fixated police detective (John C. McGinley) has them in his sights.

There are certain types of films that show a love between a group of friends that love each other so much that they would do anything for the other. For these four chicks, that anything, is robbing banks in order to get rich. Oh, I wish I had friends like these.

The film shows a great deal of how these four friends all equally inhabit struggle, and hardships in their personal and work lives. Whether the d-bag boss is just up your ass all the time, or you feel like you might be getting played by some Harvard grad, they each all have hardships. We see this very well, and early on in the film, we understand the characters enough for us to like them even when they start shooting up mofos.

However, I just had a huge problem actually believing they could pull off as many jobs as they did. These four worked together so sloppy, by the way their technique went, and how the first place they robbed wasn’t even the place they were going to go for. Everybody is so disorganized when it comes to pulling of the heist itself, they make Thunderbolt and Lightfoot shake their heads in disgust.

I liked how director F. Gary Gray made a lot of the action sequences fun and smart, reminding me a lot of the old-school action flicks, but I just feel like he didn’t know what to make this film. In the beginning the film looked like it was a big social statement on how African American women are treated in society. But when they start doing the heist jobs it turns into a typical action flick. I didn’t know what Gary Gray wanted to do, hell I don’t even think he knew what he wanted to do, all I know is that it could have been formatted a lot better. But the guy does look pretty chill, so i can’t talk that much ish on him.

Other than those two slight problems, the performances from these four ladies are superb. Jada Pinkett Smith, does a great job in this film in what you could call the “tragic hero”, and brings out that charm we all know and love her for, but also the unrelentless hate in her soul. Vivica A. Fox, is her usual high-spirited diva, while Kimberly Elise is just being the sheltered little nice girl. But the best here is that lovable little fire herself, I present to you, Miss Queen Latifah. I have to give a lot of props to Latifah for this performance because she goes all out with her lesbo-loving character. Back in 1996, it was unheard of a musician-turned-actor, actually doing a good job. But Latifah broke down that wall and showed that she isn’t anything other than just a bunch of hits, she’s a great and independent woman, who can go all out with her performance, and still be 100% likable.

Consensus: Though the film gets lost in its message, and believable happenings, Set it Off works so well when it comes to showing great action sequences, and working a story of four friends that actually seem like it, mostly due to their performances.

6.5/10=Rental!!