Tag Archives: joel edgerton

RED SPARROW (2017) – My rating: 8.3/10

Red Sparrow is a Spy thriller directed by Francis Lawrence and written by Justin Haythe, based on the 2013 novel of the same name by Jason Matthews. It tells the story of a Russian intelligence officer who is sent to make contact with a CIA agent in the hope of discovering the identity of a mole. Red Sparrow is a pretty sexy movie that implies, Russians will do anything to achieve their goals.  I thought Red Sparrow was well done.

In modern-day Russia, Dominika Egorova (Jennifer Lawrence) is a famed Russian ballerina who supports her ill mother. Following a career-ending injury, Dominika is approached by her uncle, Ivan Vladimirovich Egorov (Matthias Schoenaerts), who works in Russian Intelligence. Because of the accident she suffered, Dominika is no longer able to dance and is out of work.  Ivan convinces her to do a job which tasks her with seducing Dimitry Ustinov (Kristof Konrad), a Russian gangster, in exchange for her mother’s continued medical care. As Ustinov rapes her, he is killed by Sergei Matorin (Sebastian Hülk), a Russian operative and torture expert.  Ivan then offers Dominika a choice to begin working for Russian Intelligence, or be executed so there are no witnesses to the murder of Ustinov, which he ordered.

— SPOILERS BELOW —

Nate Nash (Joel Edgerton) is a CIA operative working in Moscow. While meeting with an asset in Gorky Park, they are confronted by the police. Nash creates a diversion to ensure his asset, a mole in Russian ranks, code-named Marble, escapes detection. Nash is reassigned back to the US but insists that he is the only individual whom Marble will work with. Since he cannot return to Russia, he is assigned to Budapest, where he will regain contact with Marble.

Dominika begins training to become a Russian operative, known as a ‘Sparrow’, capable of seducing her targets. Dominika excels in her training, despite some friction with her trainers, and she is assigned to Budapest. Russian SVR has been tracking Nash, hoping to find out the identity of Marble. Dominika’s assignment is to gain the trust of Nash, and reveal his contact.

Upon her arrival in Budapest, Dominika lives with Marta Yelenova (Thekla Reuten), another Sparrow. Her boss in Budapest is Maxim Volontov (Douglas Hodge). Dominika quickly makes contact with Nash, who correctly determines that she is a Russian Intelligence operative. Dominika reveals her true identity to him, as well as her motive to find out Marble’s identity. While Marta is out, Dominika inspects her room, and realizes that she is working to gather information from Stephanie Boucher (Mary Louise-Parker), chief of staff for a US Senator. Dominika also realizes she needs more time, and claims to her uncle that she is helping in Marta’s effort to gather information from Boucher. Upon returning home one day, Dominika finds Marta brutally tortured and murdered. Matorin reveals that he carried out the murder as a warning not to betray Russian secrets.

From this point, there is much more action as well as twist and turns.  Additionally, Jeremy Irons is in the cast and Dominika turns out to be a very clever young lady, capable of taking her new found position to many levels.  The plot thickens and so does the intensity.  There’s violence and explicit sexy scenes that are appropriate to what’s going on in the moment.  Red Sparrow is not suited for children. I mention this because I saw a dad with his young child in the audience.  I wanted to say something but I knew better.  Red Sparrow was brilliantly acted. Jennifer’s Russian accent was a little shaky at times, almost absent, but was convincing enough that it didn’t take away from the film.  I enjoyed the movie and recommend it to adults who would enjoy a pretty good adventurous spy flick.  Check it out!

 

LOVING (2016) – My rating: 8/10

lovingLoving is the true story of Richard Loving (Joel Edgerton), a white construction worker in Caroline County, Virginia and Mildred Jeter (Ruth Negga), a neighbor and family friend.  Mildred and Richard were in love, in 1958 Mildred became pregnant so they decided to get married.  The only problem was their marriage would violate Virginia’s anti-miscegenation laws so they traveled out of state to Washington DC, where interracial marriage was not a problem and became Mr. and Mrs. Richard Loving, then returned to Virginia as husband and wife.

One night while the Lovings were asleep, the sheriff’s deputies walked into Mildred’s home and arrested them.  They were forced to plead guilty to breaking the anti-miscegenation law.  As a result, they would have to leave Virginia and not return together for 25 years or go to prison.  Upset and disillusioned, they went back to Washington DC and stayed with a friend but Mildred wanted to have her baby in Virginia, delivered by Richard’s mother, Lola Loving (Sharon Blackwood) who was a midwife.  The couple secretly returned to Virginia where Mildred gave birth to their first child, Sidney.  Soon after their baby was born, sheriff’s deputies somehow got wind of the Lovings return to Virginia and rearrested them.  All set to go to prison, their lawyer steps up and says he erroneously advised them they could return to Virginia give birth to their baby.  The judge allowed them this last chance to leave for good, again avoiding prison.  Richard and Mildred moved back to Washington DC with their new son, Sidney for good.  After almost 10 years and 2 more children, Donald and Peggy, Mildred ends up contacting Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, who refers them to the American Civil Liberties Union.  Lawyer Bernard S. Cohen (Nick Kroll) takes the case and confers with constitutional law expert Phil Hirschkop (Jon Bass).  A plan is put into motion and ultimately the case goes all the way to the Supreme Court.

lovingrealA lot of effort went into the making of Loving.  The casting was superb, the acting was brilliant and the look and feel of that era was spot on.  I really enjoyed the movie despite the subject matter.  Life Magazine featured an article on the Loving family in 1966 which you can easily Google to see many pictures of Richard and Mildred Loving.  I have added one of the pictures from the Life Magazine spread.  Loving is available on DVD and Blu-Ray.  I highly recommend you check it out.

[LOVING is nominated for Best Actress]

 

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BLACK MASS (2015) – My rating: 8.7/10

BlackMassBeing a big Johnny Depp fan, I didn’t want to see Black Mass.  I didn’t like the way he looked with the receding hairline and slicked back hairdo, nor did I want to see him as a villain.  Of course that’s ridiculous because Johnny Depp is an excellent actor who can play many different genres.  Black Mass is a long, long, way from Captain Jack Sparrow or Edward Scissorhands.  Not a hint of Johnny Depp’s brand of silliness is anywhere to be found in Black Mass.  This is not Depp’s first go round as a mobster type character (Public Enemies & Donnie Brasco) to name a couple.  Black Mass is a true story about James “Whitey” Bulger, (Johnny Depp) a small time gangster who reined on the South side of Boston in the 1970s .  Bulger controlled an Irish-American gang called the Winter Hill Gang along with his right hand man, Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi (Rory Cochrane), Kevin Weeks (Jesse Piemons) and hitman, Johnny Martorano (W. Earl Brown).  Whitey has a brother, William “Billy” Bulger (Benedict Cumberbatch) who was a Boston senator and not tied to any type of crime.  A lot of this film surrounds the details of a relationship between Whitey and a FBI agent who was also a childhood friend named John Connolly (Joel Edgerton).  Connolly became corrupt as he grew closer and closer to Whitey and the gang.   The Angiulo Brothers, a powerful family with ties to the Mafia controlled the Northern side of Boston and killed one of the members of Whitey’s gang.  After some pressure from Connolly, Whitey became a FBI informant against the Angiulo Brothers.  The plot runs deep, the crime and violence runs deep and the corruption runs deep.  I found Black Mass to be quite entertaining and a solid story about organized crime.  The end is wrapped up nicely, the acting was superb, the story was real and I heard some talk about Oscar.  BTW, Kevin Bacon plays one of the FBI bosses at odds with Connolly.  I didn’t know he was in the film, so it was a surprise and a treat to see him perform.  This was one of the better movies of 2015.  Definitely worth seeing!

THE GIFT (2015) – My rating: 8.5/10

TheGiftA well done story that ends up being about bullying.  A young married couple moves to Los Angeles from Chicago where they’re starting a new life.  Simon and Robyn Callen, played by Jason Bateman and Rebecca Hall are living the perfect life with a bright future ahead of them.  Simon has a new job while Robyn, who recently miscarried back in Chicago, is setting up her business at home.  As they were out shopping to decorate their new home, Simon encounted a chance meeting with an old high school classmate named Gordo Moseley (Joel Edgerton).  Simon has a hard time remembering Gordo but introduces him to his wife and was polite anyway.  A couple of days later, Gordo leaves a gift and a card at their front door, welcoming the happy couple to LA.  Soon after, he starts to drop by unannounced bringing more gifts including koi fish for Robyn’s empty pond.  Eventually, Gordo invites the Callens to his home for a small dinner party.  At this point Simon has started to regain his memories of Gordo and is reluctant to attend his dinner party.  In high school  Gordo was referred to as Gordo the Weirdo.

The Gift is now starting to get pretty mysterious and you can’t help but wonder where this whole story is going to end up.  It’s clear that Gordo is up to no good and Simon is loosing his patience with him.  I must say, this is one of the most unpredictable movies I’ve seen.  Nothing is as it seems.  I really can’t say much because the twist in this movie is so profound, I’d be giving away everything if I said another word.  I can only say, The Gift is a good one that’s definitely worth seeing.  It’s an exciting thriller that will have you guessing right up to the very end.  It’s truly a story of bullying and revenge.  You won’t be disappointed.