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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Martin Campbell

The Foreigner (2017)

Who needs a green card when you can kick every citizen’s ass?

Quan (Jackie Chan) is a humble and quiet British citizen who keeps to himself. Mostly it’s due to the fact that he’s lived such a hard life already, he wants to live out his remaining years in total peace and harmony. That all changes, however, when his daughter is killed in a near-by explosion, supposedly set-up as a terrorist attack that wasn’t meant to be as devastating as it was. Quan’s not happy about this, obviously, so he decides to set out and find answers anyway and anywhere that he can, by any means necessary. His trail of tears leads him to Liam Hennessy (Pierce Brosnan), a former IRA member turned politician who claims that he no longer has ties to the terrorist organization. But Quan knows better and doesn’t believe this for one second and decides to take matters into his own hands.

“Do I hear Beach Boys?”

The Foreigner is a whole bunch of thrillers, rolled-up and spat out into one. It’s a Hong-Kong action-thriller; it’s a conspiracy thriller; it’s a dramatic thriller about loss, regret, and family; it’s a small bit of an espionage thriller; and oh yeah, it’s a bit of a pulpy, rather over-the-top thriller, too. All of them are fine, no doubt, but put together, it’s a tad bit of a mess.

But coming from director Martin Campbell, it’s a fine, fun, and old-school mess that feels like it was made with class and precision, even though it never plays out that way. Campbell knows a thing or two about these kinds of thrillers, and while there’s maybe one too many strands of plot to fully work as one, cohesive whole, Campbell himself never seems to want to be bored. He keeps everything moving and at a somewhat lively pace, that even when it seems like we’re harping on one plot for too long, he moves right on to the next one, in hopes that we don’t take notice of how it doesn’t really fit together all that well.

Like a true pro, that Martin Campbell.

But what’s perhaps most interesting about the Foreigner is how it takes two of the world’s most recognizable action-stars of yesteryear, and puts them in roles that you don’t least expect to see them in. Pierce Brosnan, in what seems like forever, is playing an all-out, full-on bad guy and it’s a great sight; he’s angry, sporting an Irish-accent, and constantly seeming like his eyes are going to bulge out of his skull. It’s the kind of hammy and over-the-top role that would normally kill any actor, but Brosnan is such a class-act, he seems like he’s just genuinely having a ball and not caring who knows it.

“008, out.”

Same goes for Chan, although, it’s fair to say that if you’ve ever tracked down any of his Hong-Kong martial-arts films that don’t star Owen Wilson, or Chris Tucker, then you know he’s capable of playing these darker characters, with shadier morals than we expect. But as usual, Chan’s good in the role, because it’s less about him jumping, diving, and ass-kicking (which he can still sort of do, even at 65), but more about the sadness deep inside of the eyes. And you can see it all and it’s a sign that even though he may not be able to do the stunts anymore, Chan still has some acting-muscles to stretch and work-out with.

But really, nostalgia is the real reason why the Foreigner works as well as it does.

The action, the twists, and the turns are all fine and make this movie a lot better than it has to be, but watching Chan and Brosnan up on the screen, shouting at one another without having to resort to fist-a-cuffs, feels like a nice diversion from everything else in the world. With so many thrillers turning into crazy, over-bloated messes, it’s nice to get one that’s lean, mean, and a little nasty.

It’s still a mess, but hey, they can’t all be winners.

Consensus: With an old-hat direction from Martin Campbell, the Foreigner feels like a solid throwback to the thrillers of yesteryear, with Brosnan and Chan putting in great work, and measuring up and beyond the rather convoluted and silly script.

6 / 10

Every early-to-mid-90’s fanboy’s dream, 20 years later.

Photos Courtesy of: STX Films

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Casino Royale (2006)

Blond is always better.

James Bond (Daniel Craig)’s first 007 mission takes him to Madagascar where he is to spy on a terrorist, Mollaka (Sebastien Foucan). Not everything goes to plan and Bond decides to investigate, independently of MI6, in order to track down the rest of the terrorist cell. Following a lead to the Bahamas, he encounters Dimitrios (Simon Abkarian) and his girlfriend, Solange (Caterina Murino).

This was the James Bond flick that brought back James Bond after about 4 years because honestly, even though ‘Die Another Day’ was one of the highest-grossing Bonds flicks at the time, it was still pretty lame. So Hollywood finally wised up and brought back the director of ‘Goldeneye’, Martin Campbell, and probably made one of the best decisions of their lives.

Campbell is the perfect director for James Bond, especially a reboot of his story, which means he can do whatever the hell he wants without any die-hard Bond fan crying about how they are ruining the name of Bond. There’s so much action, energy, and fun to be had here with a bunch of crazy set-pieces like when Bond and some dude go parkouring around a construction site, the terrorist attempt on the airport that reminded me a bit of the ending to ‘Liar Liar’,  and also when Bond was fighting those two guys in the stairway. Everything Campbell does here is so much fun and filmed in the kind of way that we can actually tell what’s going on, but still feeling the tension and havoc that is being ensued. Campbell also somehow found a way to make a simple game of poker seem like the biggest win or die situation that I have ever seen. It’s a real wonder as to why this dude doesn’t do more action with a big budget because he can put it to some real good use.

When it comes to the story, it’s pretty standard fare but what I liked is how I didn’t quite know what was going to happen next. Yes, we all know that Bond usually lives at the end so he can give his famous last lines, but something with this flick made me feel different about that because he wasn’t just a guy that could kick insane amounts of ass but he was also a guy that could easily lose as well. This was cool to see in a story about James Bond considering it can get pretty predictable at a certain point but the story still worked for me and at least held my interest beneath all of the running, shooting, and killing.

My only gripe with this flick is that it feels too long by the end. The film is about 144 minutes long and you can start to feel it around that 2 hour mark and it gets even worse when the film continues to never end. It was almost like ‘The Never Ending Story’ of James Bond, it just kept on going and going and going until we were basically lost in the story-line and sort of felt like we had enough. However, Campbell does do a great job of keeping our minds off of that for the most part.

The main hype surrounding this flick was actually whether or not Daniel Craig, a relatively unknown indie actor at the time, was going to be able to be the part of James Bond and he practically got all of the nay-sayers to shut their mouths after this. What I like about Craig is that he always seem one step ahead of whoever he’s talking to and his role as Bond is no different because if you think about, Bond is always one step ahead of everybody else around him even though he’s terribly cocky. I have seen all of the Bonds that have came before Craig and they are all good but Craig brings a lot more that we didn’t expect from him such as making Bond seem more like a bad-ass rather than just the wizard of spy gadgets. Yes, Craig is the Blond Bond but he’s also one of the better Bonds of recent memory and I’m glad to see that he is still sticking with this role and can still go onto other flicks like ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ and actually be looked at as an actor rather than just another Bond dude.

The rest of the cast is pretty out-standing too even though it is fairly knocked down to a couple of key roles. Mads Mikkelsen is pretty damn intimidating as Le Chiffre, and plays up that scary, freaky look to his advantage and definitely makes me feel like I should run away if I saw him across from me at a poker table; Eva Green is good as our new and improved Bond girl, Vesper Lynd, and she actually has a lot more depth to her rather than just being another one of the chicks that Bond bones and forgets about, she actually has something special about her and you can actually believe the relationship her and Bond have; and Judi Dench is always awesome as the cruel and sassy, M. Can’t say much else that hasn’t already been said of Ms. Dench.

Consensus: Casino Royale is by far one of the better Bond flicks with a star-making role from Daniel Craig, constant energy and action flying all about, and a new and improved look at Bond that we have yet to see from any other of the other films, which always works.

9/10=Full Price!!

Green Lantern (2011)

The Green Lantern film the fans have been waiting for…..if it were made for TV 15 years ago.

Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds), a brash, talented test pilot, is chosen by an alien force of warriors to become their representative on Earth and use his new powers as the Green Lantern to promote order and justice before conflict destroys his world. Despite being the first human to wear the ring that bestows his abilities, Hal must combat villain Parallax. Fellow pilot Carol Ferris (Blake Lively) aids Hal in his quest to save the galaxy.

It seems like Hollywood is trying anyway they can to get almost every superhero film done in time for the big Avengers film. Add this to the collection of superhero films that make more ready for it.

This film wasn’t really for me because I was not a huge fanboy of The Green Lantern comics, or The Green Lantern himself. I thought he was a pretty silly superhero to begin with and I looked to this film to have me like him more. Which it didn’t do really. The problem this movie has I think lies within it’s script which is so jumbled altogether with all these different stories and crazy mythology that it takes away from the actual story that could have been more compelling and easy enough to get behind. The mythology here they constantly talk about is also nonsensical and seems to have any reason to be put in there also.

Many scenes also felt like they had no real purpose and were just put in there to show a cool CGI shot that didn’t really do much to the film in the first place. But let’s not forget that this story doesn’t really get going until we are already an hour into the film and have already known what The Green Lantern can do, and who ALL of the characters are, what they do, and the purpose they actually serve to the story.

However, when it get’s going, it really does move much thanks to director Martin Campbell who knows what he’s doing when it comes to showing awesome action scenes. Campbell, who brought back to life the “Bond” films, knows what he’s doing when he wants to make the action fun and exciting look at and that transcends well with this material to 3-D. The film has tons and tons of CGI as well which isn’t necessarily a bad thing because it does look well-done here, I just wish they less on the special effects in some cases. Although, I still liked the CGI, because this film did actually look “pretty” to say the least.

Ryan Reynolds is very good as Hal Jordan, a role that some thought he wouldn’t be able to pull off but in my case, thought he did the best job there could be to be done. He has the looks, he has the charm, he has the humor, but he also has the dramatic acting chops that makes it look like he actually wants to be there and not just phoning it all in for an easy paycheck. That is why I liked Reynolds so much here. Blake Lively is just gorgeous as Carol Ferris; Peter Sarsgaard is always vilainous in anything he does and his performance as the big testicle, Dr. Hector Hammond, is no different; and Mark Strong is also awesome as the porn-star look-alike, Sinestro. The rest of the cast is fine as well with the likes of Angela Bassett, Tim Robbins, Geoffrey Rush, and Michael Clarke Duncan.

Consensus: Martin Campbell knows what he’s doing with the action and the cast, especially Reynolds, all do well with their own individual performances, but the script is clonky with too much going on and not enough focus on the real story at hand, which may have fanboys totally pissed off. However, not being a fan of the original comic books, I must say that I walked away happy that I saw this.

6.5/10=Rental!!

Edge of Darkness (2010)

If only these bad guys here were Jewish, then Mel would have been having so much more fun.

As a seasoned homicide detective, Thomas Craven (Mel Gibson) has seen the bleakest side of humanity. But nothing prepares him for the toughest investigation of his life: the search for his only daughter Emma’s (Bojana Novakovic) killer. Now, he is on a personal mission to uncover the disturbing secrets surrounding her murder, including corporate corruption, government collusion and Emma’s own mysterious life.

It’s been awhile since Mel has been actually in something, and it’s nice to see him head-line a film. Although, I don’t really wish it was this film he came back to, I still didn’t mind either.

If there’s anything that I like, it’s entertaining detective films. In ways this film is that, other times, not so much. Director Martin Campbell caught his big break when he directed episodes of the show that this film is based off of, and I must say he has not lost that knack for action. He knows how to show some ruthless and bloody violence that will keep you fully entertained.

However, by trying to squeeze this thing into an almost 2 hour film, the little twists and turns that this film starts to take, seem random and dumb. It’s almost a little too shallow to be surprising, and when the plot twists come, you are either left not caring, scratching your head, or just wanting more action to go down. There’s not too many surprises here which kind of disappointed me because I was ready for a roller-coaster ride of fun and shocks, instead I got more of a merry-go-round.

This is Mel Gibson‘s first film in 8 years since Signs, and I have to say he hasn’t lost his touch. He does what he does best: beating people up, and sticking gun’s in their faces, and I don’t know what it is but there’s just something about Mel Gibson pointing a gun at somebody that just feels right. Although his personal problems have hurt him really bad, he still is great at holding those remorseless characters, and proves that he is the man no matter what. Ray Winstone is good as Jedburgh, the hit man that shows up every once and awhile. Winstone has a very gravely voice and most of the time I was thinking: “I don’t understand you, but you do seem menacing”. Danny Huston plays the evil CEO, once again. His characters are always the same: their a little arrogant, they always believe they have everything under control, and always be one step ahead of the good guy. It may be the same act but Huston has perfected it basically.

Consensus: Edge of Darkness may fail at bringing constant surprises with it’s twisty script, but Gibson and the rest of the cast make this B-grade thriller, entertaining.

6/10=Rental!!