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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Luce Rains

3:10 to Yuma (2007)

Most cold-blooded killers are, after all, misunderstood.

Ben Wade (Russell Crowe) has been on the run, gun slingin’, robbin’, killin’, and committing all sorts of crimes that have him number one on every person’s bounty list. However, Wade is a pretty ruthless man, to where he can get away from anyone looking to reel him in for justice; it also helps that he’s got the helping hand of his band of fellow thugs, especially his go-to-guy, Charlie (Ben Foster). But eventually, Ben gets caught by the local law and ready for the 3:10 train to take him to Yuma. But in order to get him there, he’ll have to be transported among many lines, where everyone is looking to take Ben down and get a little piece of the reward-money pie. However, Dan Evans (Christian Bale) is just looking to do this so that he can get some money, save his farm, and go home to his family, where he can feel like a responsible man again. As expected though, the trip goes through all sorts of bumps, bruises, and plenty of violence, where one thing leads to another, and it’s never very clear if Ben will ever get on that train and behind bars, like he should.

"Hold it! I'm not Batman here, but other places. Kind of."

“Hold it! I’m not Batman here, but other places. Kind of.”

3:10 to Yuma is the rare kind of Western that not only revitalizes the genre, but also proves why it’s so great in the first place. It doesn’t try to re-invent the wheel of the genre, make up new rules, and play by its own game, but instead, take everything that you know and love from all those other classics, bring them together, and let you have a great time. It’s as if it’s own beast, entirely, even if, yeah, it’s actually a remake, too.

Still, even if 3:10 to Yuma isn’t the most original story out there, it more than makes up for it in all the thrilling, exciting and rather unpredictable action-sequences that take place over its two-hours. James Mangold is a perfect fit for this material, because he knows exactly how to make it all crackle and pop, without ever seeming like he’s out of his depth. Even though Mangold sure does love to jump around from genre to genre, with sheer reckless abandon, it seems like the action-genre may be the one he sticks with, not just because he seems to enjoy it the most, but because he actually seems to know what he’s doing with it, as opposed to those like Michael Bay, or McG.

Why on Earth did I just mention McG’s name?

Anyway, moving on. 3:10 to Yuma more than gets by with its action, but at the heart of it all, and perhaps what makes it more than just another fun and exciting romp through the Old West, is that it’s also the tale of two interesting, challenging, and complex men. Both Christian Bale and Russell Crowe put in great work here, going beyond the silly accents, and showing that there’s more to these two guys. Crowe’s Wade may be a ruthless, toothless (not really, he has quite the set of chompers), and almost sadistic killer, but he’s also got a set of morals and he’s quite the charmer. Whereas, on the other side of the coin, Bale’s Dan is a man with plenty of morals, a simpleton, and family man, but at the same time, won’t hesitate to kill, if he ever has to.

Ben Foster. Up to his usual tricks of not taking a shower to prep for a role.

Ben Foster. Up to his usual tricks of not taking a shower to prep for a role.

Both men are different, yes, but they’re also quite alike in many ways, too, and it’s what makes 3:10 to Yuma quite compelling to watch.

Even when the action is gone for a short while and everyone’s sitting around a fire, eating beans, chewing the fat, it’s still entertaining to watch; the cast is so good, the characters so well-defined, and the script is actually polished. And with Bale and Crowe’s performances, we get to see two men who, despite being on opposites of the social spectrum, still respect the other enough to know where they come from, what their ideals are, and why they are, the way they are in the world. It almost comes close to a bromance, except for the fact that they do try and kill each other every so often, but even then, who knows.

Bromances work in mysterious ways, sometimes.

But anyway, aside from both Crowe and Bale, the ensemble’s a pretty good one. A very young Logan Lerman shows that he can hold his own as Dan’s son; Dallas Roberts plays the sheriff who has to take Wade in with Dan and shows that even the scrawniest of men, with a gun, can still kind of be bad-ass; Peter Fonda shows up and brings some class; Kevin Durand is, as expected, pretty crazy; Luke Wilson has a fun cameo; and Ben Foster, as Wade’s right-hand man, is so crazy, so deranged and so evil, that he almost ends up stealing the show. But still, it’s Bale’s and Crowe’s show to the end and when they’re together, their scenes never stop igniting the spark and make you wish that they’d work together more and more. It doesn’t even have to be in Westerns.

Couldn’t hurt, though.

Consensus: Even if it’s still a Western through and through, 3:10 to Yuma is a tense, exciting and incredibly well-acted piece of entertainment.

8 / 10

Look at 'em. Trying so hard not to make-out and measure sizes.

Look at ’em. Trying so hard not to make-out and measure sizes.

Photos Courtesy of: AV Club, Rotten Tomatoes 

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Blood Father (2016)

Daddy knows best.

John Link, is an ex-convict (Mel Gibson), who is just trying to get by in life. He runs a tattoo parlor out of his trailer, located somewhere in the outskirts of Southern California, attends local AA meetings, and most of all, hangs around his local trailer-park community, not trying to lose his cool after all of the crazy stuff that he’s seen or done. But now, it seems like life is coming back to bite him in the rear-end and this time, John may have to push back. After he gets a call from his estranged daughter, Lydia (Erin Moriarty), he has to grab her, get her out of trouble, and basically, go on the run from her drug-dealing boyfriend (Diego Luna) and his vicious cartel of ruthless, sometimes toothless gang of thugs who go around the state, shooting anything, or anyone that resembles John or Lydia. Because why? Because why the hell not!

Bearded Mel.

Bearded Mel.

With Taken having ended its franchise last year (even though there’s supposed to be a TV-adaptation out soon), it seems like the “old-guy-goes-around-killing-people” sort of sub-genre is coming to its demise, so to speak. Sean Penn’s the Gunman was a notorious bomb, Bruce Willis had a movie out this year called Precious Cargo that nobody saw and apparently, followed roughly the same plot-line, and now, we have Mel Gibson in the old guy game, with Blood Father. And while that may sound like a running-joke on some sort of annoying podcast, I kid you not, it isn’t.

In fact, Blood Father is quite the real deal.

It’s the kind of stinky, schlocky and silly B-movie thriller that all of those other movies I mentioned tried so desperately hard to be, but yet, were far too serious and “meaningful”, to even come close to. Blood Father is the kind of movie that winks a lot at the audience, knows what it is, doesn’t pretend to be much else other than what it is, and most importantly, get its job done in under 90 minutes. Most of those other movies I mentioned earlier, almost all clock in at two hours and yet, they still don’t quite hit the same highs as Blood Father does in its first five minutes, let alone, its whole 88 minutes or so.

Does that mean it’s perfect? No, not at all. But what it does mean is that director Jean-Francois Richet knows exactly what he’s making and isn’t trying to settle for anything more, or anything less. While it was definitely a huge risk casting Mel Gibson in a lead role, especially when all you really want for your low-budget, independent thriller is recognition and attention, he makes up for it in taking a balls-to-the-walls style that barely lets up. In a way, that can sort of come back to bite him; the moments that the movie does settle itself down to have conversations between daddy and daughter, it feels like it’s checking off something on a list. It’s as if the movie knows that it has to have this stuff, in order to tell a good story and keep the plot moving, even if, to be honest, it doesn’t totally work.

That said, the energy, excitement and absolute craziness of the action here is hard to ignore. Richet knows how to shoot an action-sequence, without doing non-stop cutaways and fast-edits to make it seem more hectic than it actually is – sometimes, a simple close-up or tilt will do just fine and get the same feeling across. He showed the same thing in his remake of Assault on Precinct 13 and not much has changed here, what with Blood Father is always moving somewhere and barely ever stopping, except for, like I mentioned, when it does.

And you know what? Say what you will about him, his personal life, his beliefs, and what he’s said to cops, Mel Gibson is still a movie star, dammit.

Clean-shaven Mel.

Clean-shaven Mel.

Sure, Hollywood may have forgotten about him and shooed-him away as the drunk Uncle nobody really talks to, or keeps in contact with, except for when it’s absolutely necessary, like at Thanksgiving, but Gibson himself hasn’t forgotten about himself, nor has he let go of what made him such a compelling actor in the first place. All that rough, tough and gruff that was there before, is still here and even as he gets older, there’s something inherently charming, even exciting about watching a middle-aged Gibson curse, shoot and kill his way through whatever stands in his way. He looks crazy and you know what? The movie makes him appear as such, too, and it’s hard not to love this character, everything he does, or says, even if you know, full well, that he’s got to get his morals in-check.

The rest of the cast is pretty solid, too, with random bit-players showing up in key roles and making this seem more like a joint-affair and not just “Mel Gibson owns the world”. Erin Moriarty may not be the best actor for this role as Lydia, but her character’s at least more believable than whatever the hell Maggie Grace’s was doing and/or saying in the Taken movies, so she’s already winning; Michael Parks and Dale Dickey show up as Gibson’s former pals from back in his bad boy days and are both perfectly slimy and icky; Diego Luna’s villainous character is cheesy, especially after he suspiciously comes back to life after what seems like a life-ending gun-shot to the dome in the first five minutes, but still does what he can; and William H. Macy, as Gibson’s buddy/sponsor, Kirby, is as perfect as they come and in all honesty, a better movie would have just said “screw you” to all of the violence and killing and just focused on the budding friendship between Kirby and Link.

Then again, probably not, because all of the violence and killing is pretty rad.

Consensus: Crazy, wild and never pretending to be something it isn’t, Blood Father is chock full of B-movie goodies, with a gruff, but engaging Mel Gibson tying it all up.

7 / 10

And oh yeah, intimidating, slightly dangerous Mel. The one we all know and, sometimes, love.

And oh yeah, intimidating, slightly dangerous Mel. The one we all know and, sometimes, love.

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

Legion (2010)

Angels vs. demons, with God and Satan somewhere hanging out in the back.

When an angel named Michael (Paul Bettany) takes it upon himself to rebel against God’s plan of wiping out the entire existence of the human race, the whole world gets thrown into a battle of good versus, and Michael is thrown right into the middle of it. Problem is, he gets thrown on Earth in the middle of the desert with a group of ragtags that literally have the worst luck in the world right now. There’s a diner’s owner (Dennis Quaid), his son (Lucas Black), the head-chef (Charles S. Dutton), a man who looks like Tyrese Gibson and just so happens to have a gun on him, as well as baby-momma issues (Tyrese Gibson), and an upper-class, stuck-up family just waiting for their car to be fixed so that they can get the hell out of this deserted hellhole and back on with their rich, extravagant lives (Kate Walsh, Jon Tenney and Willa Holland). However, the reason Michael has taken to Earth in order to save humanity from existence is because of the diner’s waitress, Charlie (Adrianne Palicki), who also just so happens to be pregnant; aka, the last hope this world has left. Now it’s up to these groups of ill-matched peeps, along with Michael guarding their sides, to take down whatever force God has prepared for us, the human race, to face off against.

And for one thing, it sure ain’t pretty.

Yes, that scene actually does occur in this movie, and yes, it is easily the best part of all.

Don't know what you think, but that looks like a sign from God or something.

Don’t know what you think, but that looks like a sign from God or something.

But if you, like myself, watched that scene and absolutely laughed your ass off, then you’re in for a treat, because most of this film plays out exactly like that. It doesn’t matter if the special-effects look cheesy, the dialogue is clunky, the characters are incredibly under-developed, or even that the whole idea of God creating these dangerous, powerful monsters to destroy the rest of the human population, only to have each and every one of them easily kill-able by a couple of bullets or a nice smack in the head, is a bit ludicrous. Nope, it doesn’t matter how terrible this movie can get, because for one thing, it’s pretty fun.

Yes, I know that not everybody in the whole wide world can just lay down their swords of disdain and hate for anything that’s not considered “a work of art”, but trust me, if you like old, cheesy, 80’s flicks like Maximum Overdrive or even the Terminator, then this is an absolute blast from the past, that just so happens to be a movie made in the new millennium. But still, you get my drift: Expect this movie to be utter garbage and somehow, you will have fun.

Now, that’s not to say that this movie is totally amazing and perfect because it’s so dumb and over-the-top and knows it, because there are more than a few problems that this movie ran into and brought it all down as a matter of fact.

What takes this movie away from being very fun is that, like any other movie ever made in the existence of man, there does need to be some cooling-down time so that we can get to know our characters, their plight, what keeps them living on and on, and why it is that we should keep on rooting for them. I get that this needed to happen, but whenever you have quality-actors like Charles S. Dutton, or Paul Bettany, or even Dennis Quaid delivering lines like, “Show me your teeth!”, you just know that you’re in for a good, old fashioned, goofy-as-hell treat. That’s why when things slow up and get a bit serious, things are boring and they only get worse as time goes on.

But then, just as I would start to get annoyed with how serious and melodramatic this movie wanted to get for me, it pulls something completely out of its ass like a walking, talking, and sinister demon-child, and just had me rolling around in my seat. Sure, you could look at this as something as “total and complete crap”, but that’s sort of the point. There’s some messages to be brought about following God’s plan and how it’s up to us to interpret for ourselves what it is exactly that God wants us to do, or not to do, that totally gets lost in the shuffle of blood, action, and F-bombs; and with good reason, because all that stuff was really bringing down the vibes, man.

I spy with my little eye, five different people who definitely lost a bet or two.

I spy with my little eye, five different people who definitely lost a bet or two.

All this movie needed to do was give me some actors like Tyrese Gibson, Lucas Black, and even Kate Walsh enough moments where they got to be crazy and/or shoot something, and then I was good. And thankfully, I got to be of witness to that, more than times than one human being probably should be exposed to. However, I enjoyed it and I think that if you’re going to get a random ensemble such as this together, you need to allow them to do as much as possible, with at least something of a script. It doesn’t matter if the script is awful and even makes some of the actor’s doing the line-readings a little embarrassed – all that matters is that they seem like they’re having a fun time, even if the movie they’re in is as deadly serious as you can get.

That’s why when you have a talent like Dennis Quaid who is able to be gruff, mean, and a bit silly at the same time, it’s a joy to watch because you know that he’s in on the joke, even if the movie doesn’t like to show it off too often. As for somebody like Bettany, well, I feel bad for him because while this is a rare leading-role for the guy, he’s way too stiff and just seems like he showed up late to a party that everybody was already high and drunk at. Maybe that’s exactly how it was on set, so if that is the case, then Bettany deserves an Oscar. But for his work here, I feel bad that somebody as talented and as reliable as him still has yet to be given that leading role that puts him on the same marquee as many other supporting players who went big time.

Yet, he will always be remember for his bum. Poor Paul Bettany, man. Poor him.

Consensus: Can Legion be placed in the “so-bad-it’s-good” category? Most definitely so, and if you don’t think it, then lighten up, grab a drink or two, and give this one more watch and see how many times you laugh at somebody like Dennis Quaid guzzling down a Busch Light.

6 / 10 = Rental!!

Never forget.

Never forget.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJoblo