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!
There’s not a whole lot to say about Spider-Man: Homecoming. I liked it and it was entertaining. I think I’ve outgrown the current format, as it no longer appeals to the child in me. Like Deadpool, I found the cheeky lines designed to draw attention like “look at me” and “I don’t think so” pretty corny and adolescent. I guess I’m more attuned to Tobey Maguire’s version of the super hero. This is not to say a younger audience would not find this version great plus this is how the comic book versions are written. I knew there was a reason I didn’t read comic books. Not my cup of tea.
The movie opens at the point when Tony Stark’s / Iron-Man (Robert Downey, Jr.) organization (US Department of Damage Control (DODC) has taken over cleaning up New York after the last big battle involving the “Avengers Initiative”. Adrian Toomes / Vulture (Michael Keaton) and his salvage company were the former contractors until the DODC took over causing an enraged Adrian to be driven completely out of business. Adrian decides to keep the Chitauri technology already scavenged and use it to create and sell advanced weapons. All is well for Adrian until Peter Parker / Spider-Man (Tom Holland) appears, stopping Adrian and his crew at every turn. Peter has been appointed to an internship by Tony Stark as Spider-Man to join the Avengers. Stark has warned Peter against involvement with dangerous criminals in favor of resolving easier local crimes. Believing he can do more, Peter is determined to stop this ring of thugs from advancing any further. Peter totally ignores Stark’s warnings, thus proving to Stark, he is not ready for the position or the Spider-Man suit Stark has entrusted him to wear.
Parker quits his school’s academic decathlon team to spend more time focusing on his crime-fighting activities as Spider-Man. One night, after preventing criminals from robbing an ATM with their advanced weapons from Toomes, Spider-Man returns home and is surprised by his best friend Ned (Jacob Batalon) who is waiting for him while also discovering his secret identity. On another night, Parker comes across Toomes’ associates Jackson Brice / Shocker #1 (Logan Marshall-Green) and Herman Schultz / Shocker #2 (Bokeem Woodbine) selling weapons to local criminal Aaron Davis (Donald Glover). Parker nearly drowns intervening, and is rescued by Stark, who is monitoring the Spider-Man suit he gave Parker. Toomes accidentally kills one of his own men, Brice, with a modified vibro-blast shooting version of the Crossbones’ gauntlet weapon, leaving Schultz to become the new Shocker. Parker and Ned study a weapon left behind by Brice, removing its power core and so the journey continues. Spider-Man gets into much mischief and even falls for a classmate named Liz (Laura Harrier). You’ll have to check out the movie to see what happens next.
While I’m no longer a fan of this new Spider-Man format, I think there are a great many who will love it. I think it’s just more appealing to a younger audience than an older one. It continues to be well acted and has a brilliant cast. One of the characters who played a rival, gained 61 pounds in order to play the role and guess who saves an announcement party at the end? Oh yeah, does Peter become a permanent member of the Avengers? Check it out to get answers!
Posted in DVD MOVIE REVIEWS
Tagged aaron davis, adrian toomes, bokeem woodbine, dodc, donald glover, herman schultz, Iron Man, jackson brice, jacob batalon, laura harrier, liz, logan marshall-green, michael keaton, ned, peter parker, robert downey jr, shocker, spider-man: homecoming, tom holland, tony stark, vulture
I am rating Spotlight 8.5 because of the message it sends and because of the impact this story has had on society. Many people don’t want to accept the findings of this true story but the proof is there. When you have put your faith in a belief all your life only to learn that the messengers are corrupt, damaged or the opposite of what you believed they were, it’s damn hard to admit you’ve bought into a possible fraud or maybe that your whole world is possibly bogus because perhaps, you’ve chosen incorrectly. Chances are, you feel abandoned without any help from authorities to tell you want went wrong or how to fix the problem. Spotlight is the biographical story of pedophile priest in the Catholic church who’s crimes of molestation were sweep under the rug by church, city and state officials. The amount of victims and predators grew so rapidly out of control, exposure was inevitable. A small group of journalist who specialize in investigative reporting within the Boston Globe, called Spotlight, headed up by Walter “Robby” Robinson (Michael Keaton) began working on this story when they thought there could be as many as nine priest involved. Before the story was published, they had a list of 90 priest and growing. It seemed everyone was in on the cover up, from the District Attorney to the Archbishop of Boston. As the team interviewed victims, it became clear that the damage done to these children went much deeper than a sex act. The impact on a lot of lives turned out adults that ended up in many walks of life. The team had many setbacks including the attitudes of parents who didn’t want to accuse the church of any wrong doing despite knowing the truth. The team, Michael Rezendes (Mark Ruffalo), Sacha Pfeiffer (Rachel McAdams), Marty Baron, (Liev Schreiber) Ben Bradlee, Jr. (John Slattery) and Matt Carroll (Brian d’Arcy James) worked diligently from 2001 to 2002 at getting these priest exposed and out of the mainstream. Mitchell Garabedian, an attorney brilliantly played by Stanley Tucci, was responsible for getting Spotlight their first interviewees. This is when we learned irreparable damage was done to many of the victims and a cap of $20,000 was paid to keep things quiet. Thanks to newly appointed editor, Marty Baron, who appointed the Spotlight team to take up the story in the first place, these priest were exposed sooner than later.
In the end, several pages of domestic and international list were displayed across the screen of convicted pedophile priest. I’m not sure what the church is really doing about this problem but I know it is a serious issue. The story was well told and the movie was well acted. I wouldn’t give it best picture but I liked it very much and recommend that everyone sees it.
[SPOTLIGHT is nominated for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Director, Film Editing and original Screenplay]
Posted in DVD MOVIE REVIEWS
Tagged archbishop, ben bradlee jr, boston globe, brian d'arcy james, john slattery, journalist, liev schreiber, mark ruffalo, marty baron, matt carroll, michael keaton, michael rezendes, mitchell garabedian, rachel mcadams, sacha pfeiffer, spotlight, stanley tucci, walter "robby" robinson
Birdman tells a powerful story about a has been, washed up actor who was renown as a super hero called The Birdman. Michael Keaton (The Birdman/Riggan Thomas) played the heck out of this role. Riggan, a father and divorcee is feeling the pain of age and abandonment of a once robust and exciting crowd, known as his world, and so decides to show the world that after 20 years, he’s not washed up but a big time Broadway theater director putting on a play of the short story, “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love” that was written over 60 years ago. Everything was going south, mostly because he hadn’t cast a good enough actor in the lead role. In comes Ed Norton, who saves the day with his super talented acting abilities. Of course, extraordinary comes with a price. Between Riggen’s screw-up of a daughter (Sam) played by Emma Stone, the critic (Tabitha) played by Lindsay Duncan, who could render his play it’s doomsday exit on the very first day and Ed Norton’s shenanigans, Riggan has his hands full — perhaps more full than he can handle. Birdman is an extremely well acted movie with a touch of crazy that makes for an entertaining day at the cinema. Naomi Watts (Lesley) gave a brilliant performance as the love interest for Ed Norton and the lead actress in the play. I don’t want to reveal anything that would be considered a spoiler so I’ll just say the ending was my only pet peeve. Things were not clear enough for me but I loved that I could use my imagination. It’s possible that Birdman could get an Oscar nod. Since this movie has flown under the radar, it’ll be out on DVD soon. Pick it up and see what I’m talking about — it’s worth your time.
[BIRDMAN is nominated for Best Picture, Best Directing, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Actress, Sound Editing, Cinematography, Sound Mixing, Original Screenplay (writing)]
Posted in DVD MOVIE REVIEWS
Tagged birdman, broadway, critic, director, ed norton, emma stone, has been, lesley, lindsay duncan, michael keaton, naomi watts, play, riggan, sam, tabitha
Having been around the block once or twice, I’ve seen the original RoboCop and all it’s sequels. Back then the concept was new and everyone was excited about seeing RoboCop. We all loved the way it bashed the corporations and effectively caught the bad guys. Of course, Hollywood went overboard and made one too many of these RoboCop sequels and it didn’t do too well at the box office. I looked up the original 3 on IMDB and found the 1st one earned a 7.5 rating while the second and third only earned 5.6 and 3.8, respectively. Now 27 years later, Hollywood has decided to try it again. With new technology available, how far can they go? Well I believe they made a perfect remake that toned down the family ousting of the old 1987 version and the corporation criminal element. In other words, Alex Murphy’s family wasn’t given the old heave ho and the corporation wasn’t kill thirsty. Don’t get me wrong, the corporation is still about making money at any cost but just not so invested in killing all who stands in their way. The hot wheel motorcycle Alex Murphy (RoboCop played by Joel Kinnaman) drove was truly hot. The technical material that made up Alex, was pretty much the same as the original. I loved that Gary Oldman, who usually plays the bad guy and Michael Keaton teamed up to represent the corporation. I won’t say more about the film because I don’t want to give anything away. It was exciting and entertaining and I recommend it on the big screen.