Category Archives: CURRENT MOVIE REVIEWS

Hope you enjoy my movie reviews which reflect my opinion of the many movies I’ve enjoyed or not!

THE MOUNTAIN BETWEEN US (2017) – My rating: 8/10

The Mountain Between Us is an adventurous love story written by Chris Weitz and J. Mills Goodloe, based on a novel written by Chris Weitz and directed by Hany Abu-Assad. Played by two very popular, seasoned actors from different backgrounds whose characters are in a situation that otherwise would have taken them in very different directions. The story became a suspense thriller because of the situation in which they found themselves. The audience were involved in the couple’s survival even more than their potential love affair. I loved the story, especially the outcome.

After the cancellation of their flight, due to an incoming major storm, Dr. Ben Bass (Idris Elba) and photojournalist Alex Martin (Kate Winslet) solicit a local pilot, Walter (Beau Bridges) in order to get to Alex’s wedding and Ben’s scheduled surgery of a 10 year old child the next day. They board an uncharted flight with Walter and his dog. During the flight, the pilot (Walter) suffers a stroke. Unable to save Walter, the plane crashes on top of a mountain in the High Uintas Wilderness with Ben, Alex and the dog surviving with injuries and harsh weather conditions. Ben tends to Alex’s wounds and realizes they must come down from the mountaintop for any hope of survival. Alex asks Ben to leave her behind as he has a better chance of surviving to which Ben refuses. Instead, he climbs a peak in order to see if there are any structures nearby. On his descent he nearly falls off a cliff.  While Ben was away, Alex and the dog are discovered and attacked by a cougar.  The dog tries to defend Alex but is no match for the cougar and is wounded as the cougar enters the plane wreckage with bigger prey in mind. Fortunately, Alex fires a flare into the cougar before it attacks her. Ben returns to find a blood trail. Realizing Alex is in danger, he rushes towards the plane and finds Alex and the dog alive. He provides medical attention to the dog and later retrieves the body of the cougar which he uses as food. Stranded alone together for days and with little food, they find strength in each other to keep pressing forward in the freezing cold and snow. Realizing help is not coming Alex and Ben get into a heated argument about the best way to proceed.   She wants to move forward and he wants to stay with the wreckage for protection.  She ends up leaving with the dog at first daylight.  Once Ben awakens and discovers Alex is gone, he has to make a decision.

From here the journey continues, does Ben go after Alex and the dog?  Do they ever name the dog, do they fall in love, do they die or do they get rescued?  Does Alex marry her fiancé, Mark (Dermot Mulroney), whom she talks about constantly during their ordeal or do Ben and Alex get married?  How does it all end?  Check it out, all questions will be answered — it’s really a good love story, right to the last scene!

 

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AMERICAN MADE (2017) – My rating: 8/10

American Made is based on a true story, which was hard to believe but given the state of America at this time, anything is possible.  The film is a biographical crime film directed by Doug Liman and written by Gary Spinelli about a former TWA pilot who became a drug smuggler for the Medellín Cartel in the 1980s then in order to avoid jail time, approached United States government officials about serving as an informant for the DEA.  American Made is one of the craziest stories told.  If this tall tale actually happened, America is more unstable than I ever thought.  American Made is definitely over the top crazy but very entertaining.

In the late 1970s, Barry Seal (Tom Cruise), a pilot for TWA, a commercial airline,  is contacted by CIA case officer, Monty Schafer (Domhnall Gleeson)  and asked to fly clandestine reconnaissance missions for the CIA over Central America using a small plane with cameras installed.  Soon after the operation was started, Schafer asks Seal to also start acting as a courier between the CIA and General Noriega in Panama.  During a mission, the Medellín Cartel approaches Seal with another proposal to fly cocaine on his return flights to the USA. Seal accepts and starts flying the cartel’s cocaine to Louisiana. The CIA turns a blind eye to the drug smuggling, but the DEA tracks Seal down. To avoid the authorities, Schafer moves Seal and his family to a remote town in Arkansas called Mena where he is asked to run guns to the Nicaraguan Contras based in Honduras, Central America. Seal soon realizes that the Contras are not serious about the war and starts trading the guns to the cartel instead. The CIA set up a Contra training base in Mena and Seal flies the Contras in, but most of them escape soon after they arrive.

If you think this plot sounds crazy, things get even crazier when Seal’s wife Lucy’s (Sarah Wright) freeloading brother JB (Caleb Landry Jones) moves in, needing a job from Seal. Eventually, he starts stealing money from the Seals and is caught by the town’s Sheriff Downing (Jesse Plemons) with a briefcase full of laundered cash and is arrested. Seal gives him money and a plane ticket to Bora Bora so he can leave but JB demands weekly cash and insults Lucy. Seal tries to chase him but JB’s car explodes; it’s implied Jorge Ochoa (Alejandro Edda), a drug lord and member of the cartel,  had JB’s car rigged with explosives, killing him so that he wouldn’t snitch.

Eventually, the CIA shuts the program down and abandons Seal to be arrested by the FBI, DEA and other law enforcement agencies. Seal escapes prosecution by making a deal with the White House, which wants evidence the Sandinistas are drug traffickers.

Believe it or not, this story gets even wilder which is hard to believe.  If truly based on a true story, we should probably be more frightened than anything else because it’s our tax payers money that funds operations like this.  Tom Cruise did a fantastic job playing Barry Seal — American Made was more entertaining than anything else, as I really found it hard to believe.  It was fun to watch.

KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE (2017) – My rating: 7.5/10

This Kingsman sequel is an action spy thriller directed by Matthew Vaughn and written by Matthew Vaughn and Jane Goldman. Talk about an over the top fantasy — this is it!  The special effects were of the likes which I’ve not seen since the last Kingsman. This is really thrilling in every sense of the word. If it’s excitement you want, you’ve come to the right film. Crazy is as crazy does and Kingsman: The Golden Circle does a whole lot of crazy.

A year has passed since Gary “Eggsy” Unwin (Taron Egerton) and the secret organization called Kingsman saved the world from Richmond Valentine’s neurological wave broadcast. Eggsy has finally taken his late mentor, Harry Hart’s (Colon Firth) title of Galahad and is now living with Crown Princess Tilde of Sweden (Hanna Alström). One evening, Charlie Hesketh (Edward Holcroft), a former Kingsman trainee who lost his arm and vocal cords during the Valentine incident, lays in wait and attacks Eggsy as he is returning home. A car chase ensues and Charlie loses his cybernetic arm, which hacks into the Kingsmen servers, destroying their headquarters and killing all their agents in Britain with a missile attack. Being the only surviving agents, Eggsy and Merlin (Mark Strong) follow the Doomsday protocol, which leads them to Statesman, a secret American organization posing as a bourbon whiskey distillery in Kentucky. There, they discover their US counterparts, Tequila (Channing Tatum),  Champagne “Champ” (Jeff Bridges), who is also head of the US organization and Jack Daniels / Whiskey (Pedro Pascal). Merlin’s counter is Ginger Ale (Halle Berry), who wants to work more in the field.  At this point, they are briefed about a secret terrorist organization called The Golden Circle headed up by Poppy Adams (Julianne Moore), head of the world’s largest drug cartel.

Poppy announces that she has developed and distributed a drug that inflicts it’s user with a blue rash that causes eventual mania before moving on to paralysis then death.  She makes her demands to every world leader in exchange for the antidote but of course, they are working against time.  The Kingman and Stateman begin their mission by following Charlie’s ex-girlfriend Clara Von Gluckfberg (Poppy Delevingne), who has developed the rash as well as Elton John, Eggsy’s girlfriend and hundreds of thousands more.

I must admit, the first Kingman movie had all the surprises in it for me.  The special effects were out of this world and pretty new.  I don’t feel this sequel equaled or topped the first one.  The Golden Circle actually got a little sloppy, crazy and unbelievable. The film is 2 hours and 21 minutes long but still managed to keep me entertained.  Some scenes were down right silly and not even Elton John could make a difference.  There is still a whole lot of story to be explored along with some interesting concepts.  I think if nothing else, it’s a complete joyride with a great fantasy plot.  It’s definitely worth checking out!

 

 

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AMERICAN ASSASSIN (2017) – My rating: 8/10

American Assassin is an action thriller film directed by Michael Cuesta.  The trailers make it a must see but 3 quarters though the film you realized this could be considered fantasy.  It’s saving grace is it’s the kind of fantasy you don’t mind.  A subordinate that does his own thing and doesn’t pay the consequences for his actions — my kind of job.  Given the way it started, you probably could forgive him for anything.

Mitch Rapp (Dylan O’Brien) and his girlfriend are on vacation in Ibiza, Spain, he proposes to her, giving her his mother’s ring as he films her acceptance.  Suddenly, radical Islamist jihadist cells land on the beach and begin to attack with assault rifles, wounding Mitch and killing his new fiance.

Eighteen months later, Mitch, now consumed by his desire for vengeance, frequents an internet message board where the terrorist responsible for his girlfriend’s murder quizzes Mitch on aspects of Islam and jihad. Having secured an invitation to meet him face to face, Mitch prepares to take his vengeance out on the terrorist responsible for his girlfriend’s death.  Things don’t go as planned and Mitch ends up working for the U.S. Special Forces.   Under CIA Deputy Director Irene Kennedy (Sanaa Lathan),  Mitch joins black operations unit, codenamed Orion, headed up by Stan Hurley (Michael Keaton),  a former U.S. Navy SEAL and a Cold War veteran who trains Mitch, as well as other potential recruits, in asymmetrical warfare.

Mitch goes through extensive training with Hurley, who thinks Mitch is too uncontrollable for the job.  When an international incident causes the team to investigate, Hurley and Kennedy get to find out if Mitch is ready to comply or not.  This film is exciting and adventurous but leaves you wondering if a special agent who is so head strong and set in his ways could actually get away with the kind of insubordination Mitch does. His actions and lack of discipline almost makes this a fantasy.  I still enjoyed American Assassin because of the action and the suspense.  I just didn’t quite believe in everything I was seeing.  Of course there is much more to this plot and a couple of characters I didn’t mention really make it all come together but as usual, I’ve said enough.  Check American Assassin out, you won’t regret it!

 

WIND RIVER (2017) – My rating 7/10

Not exactly as advertised but still a pretty good movie.  I liked Wind River because it was a little different than the run of the mill murder mystery.  The trailer made it seem more suspenseful than it was.  Like a bad cup of coffee, Wind River wasn’t full bodied.  It was more of a man’s movie.  Terse answers, short on detail, suppressed feelings and no real leaderships.  Of course all men don’t fit that description, but a lot do.

Wind River takes place in Wyoming on an Indian Reservation of the same name.  Fish and Wildlife Service agent, Cory Lambert (Jeremy Renner), stumbles onto an 18 year old dead woman, Natalie Hanson (Kelsey Chow), from the reservation.  She’s face down and frozen solid, barefooted, inappropriately attired for the subzero winter weather with blood stains on her pants and face.  It’s apparent Natalie was raped and murdered.  To help with the case, FBI rookie Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen), is assigned, who by the way, was also improperly attired and had to borrow clothing befitting the severe weather conditions.  It is believed the murder was committed between Natalie’s new, unknown boyfriend, Matt Rayburn (Jon Bernthal) or her drug addicted brother Chip Hanson (Martin Sensmeier), who is strung-out living with local dealers on the reservation in a double-wide trailer.

While Wind River was interesting, it was a bit slow.  It’s a murder mystery on an Indian Reservation in the bitter cold.  Nothing we haven’t seen before.  Actually, the rape didn’t make sense and the aura surrounding this movie was sad and depressing.  I didn’t get a profound message or a warm fuzzy feeling upon the resolution of the crime.  It seemed as though all the characters had a sad background, which didn’t help to cheer things up any.  It wasn’t a bad film but I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who is looking for a pick-me-up experience.  Wind River was well acted and unpredictable as far as “who done it” goes.

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THE BIG SICK (2017) – My rating: 8/10

Didn’t think I’d like the Big Sick, but I was wrong — The Big Sick was a great romantic comedy.  A comedian from Pakistan and a White girl living in Chicago meet, fall in love and all hell breaks loose.  It’s a pretty good concept and it’s based on a real life couple’s story.  Everything about this film was good.  We get to see how stubbornness, tradition and love can work together for the greater good while teaching some valuable lessons.

Kumail (Kumail Nanjiani) is a standup comedian (for real) who drives for Uber in the day and performs standup at a Chicago comedy club at night.  Also, Kumail is Pakistani and very close to his family and family traditions, NOT.  Being a Muslim immigrant, his parents set him up with many Pakistani women, thereby emulating their Pakistani tradition of an arranged marriage.  However, after meeting Emily (Zoe Kazan), (not a Muslim) heckling him while sitting in the audience of the comedy club, they began a relationship that turned into more than they meant for it to be. Of course, Kumail didn’t tell Emily about his parent’s pursuit of never ending Pakistani women for the grand prize of his hand in marriage.  As their relationship grew closer, Kumail’s parents began to wonder if their son was crazy, especially when they set him up with the most desirable, beauty on a long waiting list of eligible bachelorettes and he still didn’t bite.

 From this point, Emily has to learn if there’s any future for her with Kumail but first she gets terminally ill and her parents, Terry Gardner (Ray Romano) and Beth Gardner (Holly Hunter) show up and develop their own relationship with Kumail, which doesn’t go well in the beginning.  We are hanging on the edge of our seats because we won’t know the outcome of Emily’s illness or whether her parents finally accept Kumail or not.  Additionally, there’s Kumail’s parents, Azmat (Anupam Kher) and Sharmeen (Zenobia Shroff).  What happens when they find out about this non Pakistanian relationship?  Can Kumail survive being thrown out of his family or do they forgive him?  There’s a lot going on in this movie — I urge everyone to see The Big Sick, it’s delightful, funny and entertaining.  It gives us to an opportunity to revisit some of our  long standing traditions to determine if “maybe it’s time for a change”.

 

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LOGAN LUCKY (2017) – My rating: 7/10

Logan Lucky is another summer fill-in.  I wouldn’t say it’s a bad one but I wouldn’t say it’s a good one either.  It’s a comedy, which may be its saving grace, about a heist with a twist.  Hollywood is making these fill-ins a little better than they use to so kudos to Steven Soderbergh for a half way descent movie to end the summer.

Jimmy Logan (Channing Tatum), once had a promising football career that was ruined by an injury.  To top things off, he was just laid off from his job at the Charlotte Motor Speedway and while picking up his daughter, Farrah Logan (Sadie Mackenzie) for a beauty pageant, he learns that his x-wife, Bobbie Jo (Katie Holmes) and her new husband Moody Chapman (David Denman), a wealthy car dealership owner, intend to move out of state to Lynchburg, making it harder for him to visit.

Angry, down and out, Jimmy visits his brother Clyde, (Adam Driver) an Iraq War veteran who, on account of losing part of his left arm, wears a prosthetic hand, at the bar where he works.  He convinces Clyde to team up with him to rob the Charlotte Speedway after revealing a plan that will include Joe Bang (Daniel Craig) a convicted safecracker, as well as Joe’s dimwitted brothers Sam Bang (Brian Gleeson), Fish Bang (Jack Quaid), as well as their own sister, Mellie Logan (Riley Keough).  Jimmy’s plan includes a jail break, gummy bears, an electrical grid outage, a stolen sports car, home made explosives, the loss of Clyde’s prosthetic hand and much more.  It all takes place during the Coca-Cola 600 race on Memorial Day weekend.  FBI agent Sarah Grayson (Hilary Swank) is assigned to investigate the heist but is sidewined via an insurance settlement.

Logan Lucky has a somewhat crazy plot with a plan that is so out there, I doubt it would or could ever happen.  Despite it’s craziness, it’s entertaining but unbelievable.  It is amazing someone could write a plot with so many unworkable parts yet pull it all together.  Logan Lucky is truly a summer fill-in.  Channing Tatum also gained some noticeable weight.  I recommend waiting for the DVD on this one.