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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: Michael Nyqvist

John Wick (2014)

This is what happens when you take the blue pill.

John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is, seemingly, a simple man who lives a simple life. He has a wife (Bridget Moynahan); lives in a rather large, exquisite house, and always seems to have something to smile about. That is, until his wife tragically passes away and he’s left with nothing but a new life, a big house, a fine-ass car, and basically, nobody to spend time with. But, have no fear, because even though she’s long and gone by now, Mrs. Wick still finds ways to contact her hubby from the dead – but this time, it’s in the form of a small puppy. And Wick can’t say “no” to it and decides to just let the thing roam all around the house and be happy, just as his late wife would have wanted. That all changes though when a group of thugs break into Wick’s house, beat him to a bloody-pulp, steal his ride, and worst of all, kill that lovable pooch. As one would expect, Wick is pissed and starts on his path for revenge.

However, this time around, there’s a bit of a twist: John Wick’s a total and complete bad-ass who, for the past couple of years or so, has just settled down and tried to find a way from that old life of his.

And thus, folks, you have the movie’s synopsis, in a nutshell, no questions asked, no answers guaranteed. Now, with that all said, does it sound like the most conventional, run-of-the-mill action-thriller you’ve ever seen since the first Taken? Oh, you betcha! But sometimes, there’s a certain level of joy to be had in just knowing to expect right from the first glimpse of a trailer, or poster, or photo still, and being totally blind-sided by the fact that, yes, sometimes, movies can surprise the hell out of you by being more than just what they present.

Nature vs. nurture? Aw, who cares! Just kill 'em already, Wick!

Nature vs. nurture? Aw, who cares! Just kill ’em already, Wick!

But that’s not necessarily the case with John Wick, nor is that much of a problem; though the story doesn’t really try to reach deep, or far down into its themes about grief, revenge, or the soulless killing of others, it doesn’t necessarily need to because everything else is working so well. By this, I mean mostly the action-sequences, most of which are exciting, brutal, stylized, and sometimes, so simply put together, that it’s almost refreshing to watch. Because even in the days of the crack-cam, even us the audience can get a bit annoyed by not knowing who is doing what to whom, where at, and what the hell else is going on around them. So many directors of action out there make this mistake (looking at you, Mr. Bay), but neither co-directors David Leitch and Chad Stahelski are one of them.

Which is not just great for us, the audience watching in our seats, eating our X-Large-sized popcorns, but also great for the rest of the movie because it constantly stays simple, easy, and most of all, fun. Yet, it never forgets that in order for it to fully work, not just as an action film, but as a gritty crime-thriller, it also has to add some tension to the proceedings, which is what happens here. A sequence that takes place all over a nightclub comes to my mind the most apparent; not just for being exciting and stylized, but because it literally felt like it could have gone anywhere, at any second. Though we know John Wick won’t die so early in the film (which is when this sequence takes place), there’s still a feeling going around that he could slip, fall, or not do something properly, and lose his life, therefore, allowing the baddies to prevail.

And then, presumably, sadness would ensue.

But nope, that doesn’t happen and for the rest of the movie, it’s still the same thrill-ride.

Although, I do hesitate to call this movie “great” (as so many critics have been quick to call it), only because I definitely do think there’s some problems with the movie, especially with its plot. There’s maybe, I don’t know, two, possibly three, different endings to this movie that were all satisfying in their own rights, yet, splashed together, feels off. It was almost as if Leitch and Stahelski weren’t confident in the numerous decisions they wrote out, so they decided to pick the best three, film them all, and then decide which one’s the best to go at the end of the film, and what other two will be left for the special features. Except, they decided to keep them all and see what happens.

And, predictably so, it doesn’t work and makes a rather lean, mean hour-and-a-half-movie, seem/feel a lot longer than it should.

However, the fact remains mighty high and clear: The movie’s fun. It’s hard to really have a problem against that when all you ever set out to do with your movie, is exactly the kind of result you get. So, in that aspect, yes, I’m willing to give the movie’s various endings a pass, but I will still not go so far as to call it, the movie John Wick, “great”. It’s still a great time at theaters, but please, don’t get so wrapped up in all the insanely positive press out there.

But, if there is anything to get wrapped up in, concerning the press that this movie’s getting, it’s that Keanu Reeves is back, baby! And this time, he doesn’t care whether he’s old, considered to be “past his prime”, eating all by himself on benches, or that nobody really calls him up anymore – he’s Keanu Reeves dammit, and the dude’s allowed to do what he wants. All that said, Reeves is fine here as Wick. Though people get on Reeeves’ case for his acting-skills (or, lack thereof), the guy has that inherent likability to the way he carries himself that’s hard to have a problem against, let alone despise. He’s just Keanu Reeves, plain and simple. Throw a gun on him, give him some kick-ass moves to perform, and a few cheesy one-liners here and there, and your movie’s fine. Meaning, I’m totally fine with Reeves staging a comeback, so long so as he realizes that his main strengths are in goofy action films such as these.

I'd murder 50 thugs for that little face. I mean, come on, just look at him!

I’d murder 50 thugs for that little face. I mean, come on, just look at him!

Anything more, may be pushing it a tad too much (looking at you, 47 Ronin).

Though Reeves definitely anchors this movie in his own way, the supporting cast definitely deserves some love and praise, mostly because they allow this movie’s sometimes strange script, just totally do the trick and play with its own universe. For instance, there’s an interesting little angle this movie’s story takes in that it gives us a glimpse into this underground world/society of criminals, where they all go to the same places to hang out, drink, sleep, eat, and basically, stand by each other’s rules to not conduct any sort of “business”. Though it’s weird, the movie plays it up so nicely that it’s easy to just fall in line with and accept, rather than be freaked-out by.

Another reason why it’s so easy to accept this angle for what it is, is because the cast of characters this movie has inhabit this little, under-seen world, is chock full of “you name it’s” – Willem Dafoe, Dean Winters, Michael Nyqvist, Adrianne Palicki, John Leguizamo, Lance Reddick, Kevin Nash (yes, Big Daddy Diesel), Clarke Peters, David Patrick Kelly, and an always welcome Ian McShane, all show up, do their thing for as long as they are allowed to, leave their impressions on us, and move on. Probably how it’s best to approach the movie itself; expect to have fun and nothing but.

Move on.

Consensus: By sticking to its gun (literally and figuratively), John Wick is nothing more than what it presents to be seen as – a fun, exciting, if conventional crime-thriller, with a cast full of wild supporting characters, and of course, the always likable, Keanu Reeves.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

"Yeah. I did that. Whaddup?"

“Yeah. I did that. Whaddup?”

Photo’s Credit to: Goggle Images

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Disconnect (2013)

Social-networking sites may be bad, but at least they give suburban, middle-to-upper-class families something to chat about.

There are multiple storylines here, all concerning the usage of modern-day technology in some way or form. One story is about a father (Jason Bateman) coping with his son’s recent suicide-attempt, that may or may not have been spurred on through “cyber bullying”; an ex-cop (Frank Grillo) has some problems of his own trying to make sure that his son (Colin Ford) stays on the right track when it comes to school and his social-life, and away from those damn iPads; a married-couple (Paula Patton and Alexander Skarsgard) are going through a rough patch in their lives when they realize that they have been the subjects of a security-fraud and know set their eyes on where the criminal may possibly be located at; and a young, 18-year-old stud (Max Theriot) who uses his body for web chats he makes money off of, gains the attention of an aspiring journalist (Andrew Riseborough) just looking for her big break into the world of media, and finds it with him, only to find out that sooner or later, eventually, emotions can screw up anything. Especially a good story.

“Oh no, NOT THE COMPUTER!!”

"What you want more? A cracked skull, or a cracked iPad-screen?"

“What you want more? A cracked skull, or a cracked iPad-screen?”

Those were my sarcastic feelings when I first heard of this movie, which, at first, seemed like a really bad, really obvious, made-for-TV, Lifetime movie that would get all sorts of parents in a fluster, angry and ready to take any sort of electronics away from their kids in hopes that they don’t turn out like these people do. In that regard, I shooed this movie off as if it was just a waste of my time, and heck, a waste of anybody’s time for that matter. And then, I saw the cast and automatically, my mind switched up a bit into some curiosity as I felt like, “Hey, if it’s good enough for talented peeps like Jason Bateman and Frank Grillo, it sure as hell has got to be good for me, right?!?!”

Well, the answer is yes. And as you may have predicted, it is also no. Here’s why:

The first-half or so of this movie is pretty painful to get through. Not only does every story not seem the least bit of interesting, but they’re told to us in such a way that makes us feel like all it’s going to be is teaching us a lesson about how we should long more for connection to humans around, face-to-face, rather than for connection to humans around us, computer-screen-to-computer-screen. Personally, I agree with the message here that this movie is so obviously throwing at me, however, I’d be wrong to say that I haven’t found myself on the other-end of a conversation/connection with another person that hasn’t solely been through the computer. Not saying that I was using any sites like this, or that, but a simple message or two through the good ole’ Facebook messenger, and/or text-message, is all fine and dandy, just as long as I don’t over-do it like some people I know definitely do.

That said, the movie does start off as very preachy and seems like it may just continue to be so, up until the ending when we see all of our characters learn their lesson, be on with their lives and hopefully continue to live in a way that isn’t so dependent on technology. But surprisingly, the stories start to work and sooner than later, the message actually makes a lick of a difference. It isn’t that everybody in this movie is like, “Oh, the internet’s bad. Stay away or die!!”. They’re more just like, “When it comes right down to getting to know another person, maybe the internet isn’t the best way to go about things, you know?” And that’s why the movie, despite it’s previously-known message, takes on a new meaning once it turns a new leaf and actually had me compelled to see what happened to these characters, at any given moment. Although I wouldn’t have predicted most of these stories to spiral as out of control as they did, I still didn’t fully throw them out of the realm of possibility, since there’s plenty of weird crap that you can see on the internet nowadays, and also, plenty of weird crap that occurs in daily-life that has to do with some stuff people see on the internet, or want others to see. Hell, I bet if you typed in “dude sets himself on fire”, on YouTube, you’d get thousands of videos where people just want the fame, attention and chance to be noticed by anybody out there.

It’s sort of sad, really, but it’s nothing new we don’t already know. Or at least, I hope not anyway.

But like I was saying with the stories, they all start off pretty boring as they try to find their feet in place of this story; but once their groove is found, most of them due tend to get a lot better, if mainly because the performances from everyone are so good and determined. We rarely see Jason Bateman go as full-fledged into the dramatic-territory as we see him do here and thankfully, it was a nice change of pace for the guy. I don’t think he made one single wise-crack at all throughout this whole movie, but you know what? It didn’t bother me, nor seem like he was trying too hard not to crack a smile. Same goes for the criminally underused Hope Davis who plays his wife, and shows us why if you need a sad lady around, she’s the perfect pick.

"Hey Jamie, what's all of this stuff about two girls and a cup?"

“Hey Jamie, what’s all of this stuff about two girls and a cup?”

Frank Grillo also has one of the more interesting stories of the whole movie, if solely because he, his character, is so damn compelling to watch in the first place. Grillo’s character is a tough, rugged, angry and unpredictable man that isn’t necessarily bipolar, but definitely has a short fuse when it comes to getting things his way. On the outside, he seems like a total dick that nobody would ever want to be around, let alone even his own son, but once we get to find out more about him, who he is now, who he was back in the day and his past, then we start to see that there’s more damage done to this guy, than he actually inflicts on the others around him. Sure, he may be a little mean when it comes to the whole “tough love” aspect of raising his family, but in reality, all he wants to teach his kid a lesson so that he doesn’t grow up to be a poor schlub that sits around all day and wastes his life, staring at a computer-screen. Speaking of his kid, Colin Ford is pretty good at giving us a little punk-ass deuche cake that, through some interesting and slightly tense internet-chats we see him have, we realize that he’s just as damaged as the kid’s he picks on, if not worse. Hence why he’s such a bully in the first place.

After these two stories, the rest all seem like they were given less attention and complexity, but they still work, if only for, once again, the performances from the actors working in them. Andrea Riseborough, despite working with an American-accent, does a surprisingly nice job as the hotshot, up-and-coming reporter that just wants the big story to make her a household name, once and for all. The “relationship” that she sparks up with Max Theriot’s character is a well-written at first and heck, could have been its own movie, given the right time and effort, but once it begins to reach its first two or three twists, then it gets a bit overblown and ends on a cheap note. Same goes for the story of Paula Patton and Alexander Skarsgard’s couple, but they didn’t really have much to work with in the first place and it wasn’t until the last second where things got surprisingly, somewhat intriguing. Still, it’s easily the most boring, and poorly-written story of the four and to make matters worse, these two just don’t share much of a chemistry at all. Even if they are supposed to be upset and stand-offish with one another, they still need to have some amount of connection between the two. But nope. Instead, they seem more like the types of people that accidentally got a baby and decided that they had to get married, only to spend the rest of their days together wondering just where it all went. Yeah, I’m really reaching here, but it’s what I got to do to sell something like this.

Consensus: While not everything may work well in the message that Disconnect is trying so obviously to get across, the performances from everyone involved still make up for most of the mistakes.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

"Wanna see Tony, the tiger? And no, not the one up to my top-left."

“Wanna see Tony, the tiger? And no, not the one up to my top-left.”

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Probably the best remake of Vertigo, ever.

Probably the best remake of Vertigo, ever.

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

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

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

8.5/10=Matinee!!

Seriously, who the hell is this guy?!?

Seriously, who the hell is this guy?!?

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009)

Swedish people are really messed up.

Journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist) and rebellious computer hacker Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) team up to investigate the unsolved disappearance of wealthy Henrik Vanger’s (Sven-Bertil Taube) teen niece (Ewa Fröling), only to uncover dark secrets about Vanger’s powerful family.

I never read the book that this film is based off of and I probably never will, because I just am that cool but for a film that is being remade by David Fincher, it’s not as amazing as I was expecting.

This movie clocks in at about 152 minutes but I honestly didn’t feel bored at all. There is a lot of crazy stuff happening but you still have no idea what’s quite going to happen next considering that this story has so many mysterious and “whodunit” elements to it, that’s its pretty easy to get into it with a clear mind that something effed if going to go down at the end of this film.

Director Niels Arden Oplev did a great job with how the film takes time with its story and gives us time to see these characters for who they are before they have to go down in this case. Instead of just being a whole bunch of separate stories that somehow come together by the end of the film, the story is one single plot and goes on and transitions between both leads. This was a good element to the film and for anybody going into this expecting to be uber pissed because of the whole subtitles thing, well I can assure you that within the first 15 minutes, you forget that they are even there.

What I liked most about this film was the fact that it was able to be dark, mean, angry, and just plain and simply dirty but never seem raunchy or gritty. There’s a certain style to this film that shines through right away from the first shot to the last and how that mood is able to stay alive throughout the whole film and never seem tired, really shows what Oplev can do as a director. He’s got lots and lots of style here but never does it feel overly-stylized.

My main problem with this film is the fact that I think it focused more on ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ rather than the actual story at hand and the other dude, Mikael Blomkvist. The film is all about this murder case, which it never really loses sight of in the first place, but it’s almost as if when Lisbeth and Mikael meet, its all about what Lisbeth does for this case and how much of a crazy-ass she is, nothing for this dude Mikael.

Mikael seems like a cool character as well and he’s done pretty well by Michael Nyqvist, so it’s sort of a shame to see that this character is basically second-in-command when it comes to this story. The guy has a huge case in the beginning of the film that’s already resolved within the first two minutes, the fact that he beds around all of these chicks is hardly mentioned, and even when him and Lisbeth start this sexy little romance they got going on, it more or less just focuses on her and how she feels all about it. Poor Mikael, all he wanted was the spot-light.

The film also starts to lose itself a bit in the end as it goes right on for that slasher/gory and bloody type of ending that doesn’t really get you anywhere unless you’re really trying to shock the hell out of your audience. Speaking of shocking, for those people who have a problem with such subject as rape, torture, misogyny, racism, and all of those other grand and beautiful things, you may be a little pissed off at this film but I’m betting you would already know what to expect if you were going to watch it in the first place.

The real reason to see this film and why it got the notice that it did was all because of this crazy chick right here playing Lisbeth, Noomi Rapace. This character is a total bad-ass because she does not stand for anything that effs with her and the way Rapace brings this toughness to her in the first place is really something that shows talent within an actress. Not only is she a bad-ass though, she is also very smart when it comes to hacking so she’s not only an ass-kicker but also the brains behind everything as well which makes her even more of a force to be reckoned with. If I saw this chick in real-life, I really wouldn’t know what to do, except maybe run away and look for the nearest hiding-spot so she couldn’t find me and take advantage of me, and I’m not talking about the good way either.

Consensus: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a long film that is entertaining due to Noomi Rapace’s performance as Lisbeth Salanders and a direction that is not only stylized but mysterious as well, however the film suffers by the fact that it follows Lisbeth too much and almost forgets about it’s other main character completley, Mikael. Still, I can’t wait to see what Fincher can do with this flick.

7/10=Rental!!