Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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Tag Archives: Noah Wyle

Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House (2017)

Takes one whistle to blow.

Mark Felt (Liam Neeson) was just any other ordinary man, living in America, trying to do right by his country. He worked for the FBI, believed in the values the country was founded on, and mostly, wanted peace, love and harmony. He also wanted a happy marriage with his wife Audrey (Diane Lane), and to find his daughter Joan (Maika Monroe), so that she could come home once and for all and they could go back to being the perfect, little family. But soon, Felt will find out that like his family, the United States government can’t just be put back to perfect, because, in all honesty, it wasn’t even perfect to begin with. It’s a realization that shocks him and forces him to take matters into his own hands and do what we all call “leak”.

And the rest is, I guess, history.

“Don’t worry, honey. No one’s kidnapping you today.”

With three movies under his best (Parkland, Concussion, this) writer/director Peter Landesman shows that he has knack for assembling ridiculously impressive ensembles for fact-based, true-life dramas that seem like they’re more important than they actually are. Parkland was a movie about the different viewpoints on JFK’s assassination, but mostly just seemed like an attempt at doing Crash, but with a twist, whereas Concussion was a little bit of a better movie in that it tackled a hot-topic issue with honesty and featured a great Will Smith role, but ultimately, felt like it came out too early and would have been better suited as a documentary.

Now, Landesman is tackling Mark Felt, his life, and the whistle that he blew on the United States government and it’s about the same thing going on again: Big cast, big situations, big history, but almost little-to-no impact.

And that’s the real issue it seems like with Landseman – he’s good at assembling all of the pieces, like a cast, a solid story to tell, and a nice look to his movies, but he never gets to their emotional cores. They feel like, if anything, glossy, over-budgeted reenactments your grandparents would watch on the History channel and have about the same amount of emotion going on behind them. Every chance we’re being told that “something is important”, it mostly doesn’t connect and feels like Landseman capitalizing everything in the script, but never trying to connect with the actual audience themselves. It’s one thing to educate and inform, but it’s another to just do that and forget to allow us to care, or even give us a reason.

“Yo bro. You’re gonna want to hear this.”

Which is a shame in the case of Mark Felt, the movie, because at the center, there’s a real heartfelt and timeless message about how we need men like Felt to stand up to Big Daddy government, tell important secrets, so that the citizens of the U.S. know just what sort of wrongdoings are being committed on their behalf. Landseman clearly makes his case of who’s side he’s on here, which is also the problem, but his admiration is nice: We need more Felt’s in the world, especially when it seems like our government is getting involved with shadier and shadier stuff.

Issue is, that message is left in a movie that never gets off the ground for a single second.

Cause even though the cast is stacked and everyone here, including a solid Neeson, are all good, the material gets in the way. It’s too busy going through the bullet-points of who everyone is, what their relation to the story is, and why they’re supposed to matter, that we don’t actually get to know anyone, especially Felt himself. He himself feels like another bad-ass Liam Neeson character, but instead of finding people and killing them, he’s just taking information in and leaking it out to the presses. It’s really all there is to him here, as well as the rest of the movie.

Shame, too, because we need more Mark Felt’s in the world. Regardless of what those in power may want or say.

Consensus: Even with a solid ensemble, Mark Felt never gets off the ground and always feels like it’s too busy educating us, and not ever letting us have a moment to care.

3 / 10

Oh, what could have been. Or hell, what can be. #Neeson2020

Photos Courtesy of: Sony Pictures Classics


Donnie Darko (2001)

Your head will probably hurt by the end of this one.

A troubled teenager (Jake Gyllenhaal) is plagued by visions of a large bunny rabbit that manipulates him to commit a series of crimes, after narrowly escaping a bizarre accident.

Donnie Darko is one of those cult films that is “the crazy film” that all the hip, cool teenagers all talk about. Some say it’s amazing, some say it makes no sense, and as for me I’m sort of in between which is all good.

Writer/Director Richard Kelly is amazing here in his debut flick with a lot of things to do, but makes it all so perfectly laid out for us to easily follow. There are a lot of perfect scenes where it’s just a cheesy 80’s song played over all this movement around one area, and it really is perfect how he captures how humans inter-act. My favorite scenes are the ones he uses with the school, because he captures all of the cliches of your typical high-school, but makes them look so real. He also has a lot of mind-bending scenes where he does a play-back, speed-up, and some cool special effects that all look great and add a lot to the overall feeling of this film.

My favorite element of this film probably has to be the amazing script this has. It touches on so many subjects with such wit, bravery, poignancy that it all works here. There is a lot of confusing things that happens, but to back it all up you have these pitch-perfect conversations that these characters have that almost feel like real-life. There is plenty of talk about how the 80’s American dream was viewed as, and how the suburban family really was, and the way Kelly satirizes it, just works so well. Despite all the normal, every day talk that this film brings up, there are also questions about life that make you think. Is the life we live, exactly how we imagine it? And if so, can we change our out-comes or are we all just destined for our fate with no way of changing it at all? These as well as many other questions are brought up and we never quite figure out what exactly this film is talking about sometimes, but it’s almost too hard not to be confused.

However, I think that Kelly’s best part with this film was the human parts of this film. I loved the scenes where Donnie is sitting at dinner with his family, or is in school, or just talking to his friends. All of those scenes were perfect of how they captured human emotions, and reactions, but I almost wish there was more of that. The film tends to lose it’s head in all the craziness that ensues so a lot of the poignant and honest human parts are lost.

Jake Gyllenhaal is the perfect choice for social out-cast Donnie Darko. Donnie is one of those kids in school that didn’t really talk to anybody because he didn’t care, was a little strange, and didn’t want to be a conformist, and Gyllenhaal plays that part so well. He’s such a smart kid that almost everything he says is like poetry, and the teenage angst he has is just so perfectly played. Donnie Darko may be one of the best teenage character’s of all-time, and one of Gyllenhaal’s best performances of all-time.

The rest of the cast is pretty good too each getting their own screen-time. Jena Malone is great here as the main love interest, Gretchen. Her character is so sweet, and cute that the scenes that her and Donnie have are my favorite. Mary McDonnell, Holmes Osborne, and Maggie Gyllenhaal, which in case you couldn’t tell is Jake’s real-life sister, they all play members of the Darko family and do a great job as well. Others in the cast that do good jobs as well are Drew Barrymore, Noah Wyle, a really young Seth Rogen, Beth Grant, and the always reliable Patrick Swayze doing everything right.

Also, may I add that the ending is epic. The film perfectly builds up to the last 15 minutes, and you won’t forget about it when it’s over.

Consensus: Writer/Director Richard’s Kelly debut feature may lose it’s head with the mind-bending elements, but it has a perfect script, great performances, and a story that goes places you won’t be expecting, and won’t be disappointed in seeing anyway.

9/10=Full Price!!