Posts Tagged ‘Taken

21
Jul
18

Le Samourai, The Commuter

Le Samourai
Jean-Pierre Melville’s landmark film is just as mesmerizing today as it was when it was released in 1967. On first watch it appears to be a straight-forward gangster story, a tale about a hitman scrambling for his life after a botched assassination. However, upon reflection, it is a film about much more than its mere script. It is a study in duality. We see hitman Alain Delon’s meager apartment juxtaposed against his impeccable attire. His methodical planning butting against forces he cannot anticipate. Control vs. chaos. Police vs. criminals. Refinement vs. brutality. There is so much bubbling beneath the surface that this is a film that demands to be rewatched again and again. Upon my first viewing, I was underwhelmed by the ending. But while examining it, it becomes clear that the ending was just as carefully planned by Delon’s character as any event in the rest of the film. He intended things to end the way they did, it wasn’t just a case of the good guys catching up to the bad guy. The movie is the antithesis of over-explaining things to the audience. We are never told who ordered the original hit, why the jazz club witness to the crime won’t identify Delon to the police, or why Delon unloads his gun at the end. It is up to the audience to put the pieces together. And 50 years later there are no clear answers, only general ideas about what Delon might have been thinking, or who might have been behind the double-crosses. The other thing that sets Le Samourai apart from almost every other movie is its effortless sense of “cool.” Delon’s icy, well-dressed hitman is frequently shot in profile. He never seems to break a sweat. He speaks seldom, and always knows exactly what to say when the time is right. He has everything planned out in advance. Yet it’s never contrived or cheesy. Everything that happens is practically the definition of cool. It’s hard to describe, but oozes down the screen in every single frame. Le Samourai has become a highly influential movie, inspiring John Woo’s The Killer, Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive, and countless others. This is a movie I cannot recommended enough. It is a definite must watch.
Verdict: Awesome
The Commuter
Jaume Collet-Serra is a director who keeps making big-budget, high-profile films despite none of them ever being any good. And he somehow manages to keep snagging Liam Neeson to star in his trash, with this film marking their fourth collaboration. The Commuter takes Neesons’ cachet as an action star, and nudges it in a slightly different direction. Instead of being Taken On A Train, The Commuter acts as more of a thriller. Neeson plays a former cop turned businessman who loses his job, and can’t afford to pay his bills. On his final train commute back home, he is approached by a mysterious woman who asks him to use his “special set of skills” to find someone on the train (with only a pseudonym, and not a face) in exchange for $100,000. Given his unfortunate circumstances, he can’t say no. The bulk of the film takes place on the train, with Neeson stalking back and forth, trying various angles to find out who the mystery person is. He grows more frantic as the film goes on, because once the train reaches the end of the line, the mystery person will escape. Some of the methods of investigation were fairly clever, but, sadly, at the start of the third act, the film throws it all to the wind and devolves into a messy actioner. At this point, the train literally and figuratively goes off the rails in a laughably bad CGI-a-thon. We suddenly get a plethora of double-crosses, and badly directed fight scenes. Neeson hobbles around, shouts angrily, and tries his best not to lose his dignity. By the end, it turns out to be a fairly generic affair, and it ends exactly how you expect it will. A more competent director, with a sense of restraint, could have actually made this a great film, Hitchcockian, even. However, Collet-Serra is no Hitchcock, and he cannot say no to bad CGI and bad action sequences. The first two-thirds of the film get a score of Average, and the final third a score of Shitty, so the movie ends up with a final score of Bad.
Verdict: Bad
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19
Jul
14

Stolen, Mud

Stolen

“THIS IS MY ACTING FACE!”

Did you like Commando? Did you like Taken? If so, then why not watch Stolen? It’s exactly the same movie as the others. Nicolas Cage plays a man whose daughter is kidnapped, and he must race against the clock to save her. Stolen is about as low-budget, straight-to-video as a movie can get. The film blew its wad getting Cage to star, and he acts alongside a lot of shoddy nobodies. Cage plays a bank robber who goes to jail after a botched job to steal $10 million. Once he is released, his former partner kidnaps his daughter, holding her hostage for the $10 million he feels he is owed. What follows next is a 90-minute traipse through New Orleans while Cage tracks down his former partner by any means necessary. The FBI are hot on Cage’s trail for no reason in particular other than he used to be a bad guy. Apparently, the FBI have nothing better to do like catching wanted criminals or protecting the U.S. from terrorists. Nope, let’s chase a guy who has already served out his sentence because he’s probably up to no good. The movie gets increasingly more ridiculous as Cage attempts to find his daughter. It reaches self-parody at one point when Cage is arrested and placed in an FBI vehicle, and moments later the vehicle crashes, flipping end over end, followed by Cage getting out of the car, talking on his cell phone with the kidnapper. At this point the movie has realized it is a giant piece of shit, so it might as well be as ridiculous as possible. In the movie’s favor, Cage doesn’t phone it in. He always invests 100% of himself in every movie, regardless of how bad it is. At least the guy has a work ethic.
Verdict: Shitty
Mud

“Don’t worry, ladies, my shirt WILL come off.”

After being mired in shitty romantic comedies for years, Matthew McConaughey decided to fire his agent so he could land roles in good movies. Mud is one such movie. McConaughey plays the titular Mud, a mysterious guy on a remote island in the south. He’s living in a boat that has somehow gotten lodged in a tree. One day he is discovered by a pair of teenage boys. There’s something shady about him, and that makes the boys want to know more about him. He wants to get in touch with his ex-girlfriend who is in town, but he can’t do it himself. Is he a criminal? Who is after him? The cops? The mafia? Definitely, there is more than meets the eye to this character. But the point of the movie isn’t really Mud at all. It’s the teenage boy played by Tye Sheridan. He’s the main character. He has a troubled home life, and he uses the discovery of Mud as a means of escaping a very shitty situation. Mud becomes a surrogate father to him. It’s kind of hard to describe this movie without giving away all the best parts. You’ll just have to take my word for it, that this is a movie well worth your time. It features rich characters, an intriguing backstory, and wonderful acting. Not only does McConaughey turn in a great performance, so does Sheridan. This movie really has it all. It’s the kind of film mainstream Hollywood wishes they could make. Be sure to check this one out.
Verdict: Good
26
Jan
14

The Grey

Here is the only poster this piece of shit movie had.

Five minutes into The Grey, Liam Neeson sticks the business end of a rifle into his mouth and almost pulls the trigger. He must have been overwhelmed by feelings of regret after being in Star Wars Episode I and Taken 2. Oh, what could have been. Blam! Neeson dead. The End. If he had gone through with it, The Grey would have been a much better movie.

The Grey tries to be a combination of Alive and White Fang, featuring a group of plane-crash survivors struggling against nature and wolves. Unfortunately, the end result is absolutely terrible. The story is thread-bare, the characters are laughably stupid, the pacing is horrendous, and the attempts at “depth” are clumsy. This is a movie that is only tolerable if you’re totally wasted.

Continue reading ‘The Grey’

28
Jun
13

Taken 2, Hustle & Flow

Taken 2

“Hello? Who is this? No I don’t want to switch my long distance carrier. Hey, who the fuck even uses that shit anymore?”

Even though the original Taken was a straight-up rip-off of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s movie Commando, I still liked it. Hell, everybody liked it. People were blown away watching Liam Neeson shoot people and generally kick ass across the streets of Paris. It was a sleeper hit that was shot on a budget of $25 million and grossed $226 million at the box office. Being such a gargantuan money maker, Hollywood salivated like a hungry dog and did what they do best: LOL LET’S MAKE AN UNNECESSARY SEQUEL LOL!

Taken 2 occurs an unknown amount of time after the original. Neeson’s frigid ex-wife is having marital problems with her husband, and as a result, their vacation was canceled. Neeson decides to invite them along with him to Istanbul so they can still have their vacation. Yes, you know how it is for millionaires. They are so heavily burdened by their fancy cars, expensive clothes, gourmet food, and VIP treatment, that sometimes they just have to get away from it all. Unfortunately for them, the families of the guys Neeson killed in the first movie are plotting revenge.

This time around, Neeson himself is taken. He and his ex-wife are both kidnapped, and now it is up to their daughter Kim to come to the rescue. Fortunately, Neeson had the foresight to bring a high-tech sock phone along with him, so he can get in touch with Kim. What follows afterward makes no goddamn sense at all. Neeson orders Kim to throw grenades across the rooftops of Istanbul, (obviously, civilian safety is not a high priority) and listen for the sounds of explosions, so he can triangulate his location over the telephone. Um… yeah.

Please let this be the plot of Taken 3.

Eventually, Neeson breaks free and wreaks havoc all over the bad guys. He shoots them, blows them up, and punches them to death. The editing is absolutely godawful. But it had to be in order to cover up Neeson’s inability to fight, and his obvious arthritic physical condition. The car chase is mind-blowingly retarded, as well. And let’s not forget how Neeson leaves his ex-wife laying around, unconscious somewhere in Turkey, while he goes on a rampage. The acting, story, and, pretty much everything in this entire movie, were atrocious. Seriously, what the fuck were they thinking? I suppose I should ask what was director Olivier Megaton thinking? Megaton? Well, at least the movie lived up to his name, as this was a fucking bomb.

Unfortunately, with a budget of $45 million and a box office of $365 million, there is bound to be a Taken 3. Perhaps this time, they can take Liam Neeson’s dignity. Although, I doubt he’ll want it back.

Verdict: Shitty

Hustle & Flow

“Is the part where I rap?”

Despite Marvel’s insistence that Terrence Howard is “difficult to work with,” the guy manages to find a lot of work. A highlight of his filmography is the 2005 film Hustle & Flow. No, it’s not your typical “rapper” movie, and no, it’s not your typical bullshit Hollywood “rags to riches” film, either.

Howard plays a small-time pimp named D-Jay. Yeah, he’s seriously small-time. Only three-hoes on his roster small-time. Regardless, he’s out on the streets every day, busting his ass in the Memphis heat, trying to make a living. The movie is quick to show us that being a pimp isn’t glamorous at all. It’s a lousy, dirty, poor business. For some reason, all those rap songs about the awesomeness of being a pimp doesn’t seem to be true at all! Shocking, I know.

A chance encounter leads D-Jay to believe that he might have what it takes to become a rapper. He works on his flows, mostly centered around his shitty life, and his struggles to pay the rent as a small-timer. Once he hits the recording studio, we are treated to three big musical numbers, each better than the last. The best of them all, “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp” won an Academy Award. No shit. The Academy is into pimps. I had no idea.

“I get hard in my pants as a pimp.”

Unlike typical Hollywood drek, everything isn’t all sunshine and roses for D-Jay. His promising career takes an abrupt detour when he tries to get a legitimate rap-star to listen to his demo tape. By the fim’s conclusion, D-Jay hasn’t made it much farther out of his previously bleak situation. The ending is bittersweet in a way, but does leave the viewer with a sense of hope.

The acting in this movie is great. Everyone turns in a fantastic performance, especially Howard, who also performed all the raps. Even Taraji P. Henson, who I normally don’t like, was excellent. The raps themselves are cool. It’s impossible to listen to them and not have a big smile on your face. The movie is mostly a drama, but there are a few moments of levity here and there to lighten things up a bit.

Hustle & Flow is a great movie, and one that deserves to be seen by a wider audience. You don’t have to like rap to enjoy this movie. It isn’t about that. It’s a fascinating character study about the struggle of getting out of the hood. It’s about trying your hardest to rise out of terrible circumstances. After all, it’s hard out here for a pimp.

Verdict: Awesome




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