comedy, crime, movie, movie review

October 9th, 2017 Movie – Snatch

snatch

When it comes to today’s movie, the one thing that really stands out in my mind was Madonna’s way to advertise for it. Back when this movie had come out, Madonna had recently married the director, Guy Ritchie. I don’t know remember when it happened exactly (and I am honestly too lazy to try and look it up) but at some point Madonna was photographed wearing a t-shirt that just said “Snatch” on it. Now, with this being Madonna, a lot of people, myself included, thought this meant something dirtier than what it really was but that was not the case. She was simply helping to promote her husband’s latest movie, which happened to be titled Snatch.

The plot: 4 men, led by Franky Four Fingers, rob a diamond exchange in Antwerp, stealing an 86 karat diamond from the vault. Franky heads to London to fence the diamond and before he leaves, one of his men tells him to look up an ex KGB agent named Boris the Blade in order to get a weapon. Meanwhile, Turkish, an amateur boxing promoter, is trying to organize a fight for his boxer, Gorgeous George, and is forced to work with Brick Top, a known gangster, who agrees to the fight so long as George throws the fight. Franky lands in London and calls Cousin Avi, an American gangster that he works for, who tells Franky to go see Doug the Head to get a price on the diamond and warns him to stay out of the casinos. At the same time, one of Franky’s men calls Boris and tells him that he is sending Franky to him to get a gun and he should steal the diamond, but not to do it himself so it doesn’t get traced back to him and Boris says he knows some people that he can use. When Franky goes to see Boris, Boris gives him a gun in exchange for placing a bet at a particular bookie’s place. Meanwhile, Turkish sends his partner Tommy and George to go get a new Caravan trailer from a group of Pikeys (gypsies). When the Pikeys trick Tommy into buying a worthless Caravan, George gets upset and ends up getting into a fight with the Pikey’s leader, Mickey O’Neil, who is a bare knuckles boxing champion and knocks out George with one punch. Boris goes to see Sol, a local pawnshop owner/fence and hires him to rob Franky and Sol has his friends Vinny and Tyrone help him. Meanwhile, Turkish is upset about George being hurt and decides to hire Mickey to take his place in the fight. When he tells Brick Top about the change, Brick Top is upset and tells Turkish to make sure Mickey throws the fight in the 4th round. Sol, Vinny, and Tyrone head over to stake out the site of the match and wait for Franky but Tyrone accidentally backs their car into the van that Franky is changing in, knocking him unconscious. Avi learns from Doug that Franky is going to an illegal boxing match so he flies to London and heads to the fight with Doug to stop Franky and get his diamond. Sol and Vinny go try to rob the bookie only to find that all the bets were called off and they end up trapped when the clerk activates the security room features but Tyrone simply opens the door from the outside and they all leave. As they go to leave, Tyrone pulls away from the van but when he sees Franky emerge from it, he knocks him out and throws him in the car. Inside the arena, Turkish explains to Mickey that he needs to throw the fight but Mickey ends up knocking out the fighter as soon as the fight starts. Later that night, Boris goes to see Sol and the others to get the case but they tell him they want half of the diamond’s worth, refusing the money he offered them. Boris ends up shooting Franky and when he learns they put the diamond back in the briefcase, he chops of Franky’s hand and walks away with the briefcase. Brick Top confronts Turkish about the money he lost and tells him he wants to use Mickey in another fight but this time, Mickey has to throw the fight. Turkish and Tommy go to see Mickey and try to convince him to take the fight and Mickey agrees to fight in exchange for a new Caravan for his mother, which Turkish and Tommy are forced to buy after they lose a bet with Mickey. Meanwhile, Brick Top asks his men if they recognize the men that tried to rob his bookie office and when they recognize Tyrone, they capture him and force him to tell him about the others. Brick Top and his men head to Sol’s shop and plan on killing them but Sol says he can get him a giant diamond so Brick Top says they have 48 hours to deliver it. At Doug’s suggestion, Avi hires Bullet-Tooth Tony to help him find Franky and they manage to track the diamond to Boris. Meanwhile, Turkish tells Bricktop Mickey’s demands and how he can’t meet them since Brick Top took all of Turkish’s money and Brick Top proceeds to smash up Turkish and Tommy’s arcade and burns Mickey’s mother’s trailer with her inside. When they hear what happened, Turkish and Tommy head over to the campsite to pay their respects and Mickey says he will do the fight. Avi, Tony, and Avi’s bodyguard Rosebud confront Boris and capture him, though Rosebud is injured in the process, and as they leave Boris’ house, they are followed by Sol, Vinny, and Tyrone. At the same time, Turkish and Tommy are returning from the campsite when Tommy throws Turkish’s drink out the window, which splashes onto Tony’s car and causes them to wreck, killing Rosebud. Boris manages to get out of the trunk but he is struck by Sol, Vinny and Tyrone, who end up wrecking. Avi and Tony head to a nearby bar to get cleaned up and Sol, Vinny, and Tyrone follow them and confront Tony but he notices they are using replica guns and he chases them off when he pulls out his Desert Eagle. As Sol and the others leave, they run into Avi and try to grab the case from him when Boris, who had survived being hit by their car, shows up with an assault rifle and demands the case. Tony hears the commotion and begins firing his gun through the wall, hitting Boris and Tyrone but Sol and Vinny escape with the case. Sol and Vinny plan on selling the diamond but Avi and Tony track them down and force them to give it back but Vinny’s dog swallows the diamond and as Avi starts shooting wildly at the dog, the dog jumps out a window and Avi accidentally kills Tony so Avi decides to call the job a loss and flies back to New York. Meanwhile, Mickey enters the fight and knocks out Brick Top’s fighter so Brick Top orders his men to kill the rest of the Pikeys but finds out that the Pikeys killed all of his men. As he goes to kill Mickey, Turkish, and Tommy himself, Brick Top ends up being killed and Mickey leaves with the rest of the Pikeys. When they go to the camp site the next day, Turkish and Tommy find it deserted. The police show up and question why they are there and Turkish spots Vinny’s dog, which had been bought from the Pikeys and had returned to the camp site, and says they were walking the dog, then the two leave with the dog, passing Sol and Vinny who are being arrested for having Franky’s body in their trunk. Tommy convinces Turkish to let him keep the dog and they take it to the vet, where they find the diamond in it’s stomach, so they take the diamond to Doug, who calls Avi, who flies back out to London to retrieve the diamond.

Snatch met with mostly praise from the critics, holding a 73% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Though perhaps a case of style over substance, Guy Ritchie’s second crime caper is full of snappy dialogue, dark comedy, and interesting characters.” Brad Pitt’s role and character were written specifically for him, as Pitt had called Guy Ritchie and wanted to be a part of his movie but after Ritchie agreed, he realized he didn’t have a part for him so he rewrote the script to include Mickey. The indecipherable speech of Mickey was brought about by Pitt’s having a hard time mastering a London accent, but also as a counter to some critics’ complaints about the accents in Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels. The movie was a box office hit, earning $83.6 million off of a $10 million budget.

This is such a funny movie and definitely one that should be watched, even if you don’t like British movies. The acting was really good all around, with Jason Statham (Turkish) and Brad Pitt (Mickey) were great in their roles, while Vinnie Jones (Tony), Dennis Farina (Avi), Rade Serbedzija (Boris), Benicio Del Toro (Franky), Alan Ford (Brick Top), and Lennie James (Sol) were also good in the smaller roles they had. The story was very well written, having two fairly intricate plot lines going on at the same time, and occasionally mixing together, without really losing any focus on either one. It’s honestly hard for me to decide on which aspect of the comedy I liked better, the verbal comedy or the physical. The dialogue made for some really funny moments, especially when people were trying to figure out what Mickey was saying. As for the physical aspect, I think Lock, Stock had more physical comedy but there was plenty of physical comedy, such as when the bookie’s office was being robbed or when Tony shoots at Sol, Vinny, Tyrone, and Boris through the wall, then keeps warning Boris to stay down and shooting him before heading over and physically killing him. A lot of fun and well worth watching.

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

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action, crime, movie, movie review, thriller

September 7th, 2017 Movie – Snakes On A Plane

snakes on a plane

In the summer of 2006, was there any movie that had a bigger buzz on the internet than today’s movie? All summer it seemed like there were memes and jokes coming out left and right about this movie. Personally, as soon as I heard about this movie I thought it was going to be some B-movie that would be debuting on Syfy but low and behold, this was going to be a big budget picture in theaters. Well this just screamed out for me to go watch it and of course, I did and enjoyed it immensely. Now it’s time to have some fun and watch today’s movie, Snakes On A Plane.

The plot: In Honolulu, Hawaii, Sean Jones is riding his dirt bike through the mountains but as he stops for a break, he sees a man suddenly fall from a bridge, tied by his ankles to the top. Sean goes to help the man but he tells Sean to run as some men come down from the bridge. Sean hides and watches as Eddie Kim, a gang boss in Los Angeles, proceeds to beat the man, who is a federal prosecutor, to death with a bat. Sean makes a run for it and the next day, sees the news report about the murder. When he turns off the TV, he hears a noise coming from the front door and sees 3 men trying to break in. As he goes to hide on the balcony, he is grabbed by FBI Agent Neville Flynn, who shoots two of the assailants and helps Sean to escape. After introducing himself and driving off, he takes to the local FBI building where he and his partner, Agent John Sanders, try to convince Sean to testify to witnessing the murder and he finally agrees to go through with it. At Honolulu airport, flight attendants Claire Williams and Tiffany are talking about this being Claire’s last flight and she is surprised to see Grace and Ken are crewing the flight as well. In an airport waiting area, Sean and Flynn are watching the police guard a private plane that is set to leave for L.A., but that is a diversion hoping to fool Eddie Kim as Sean will be flying a commercial red-eye flight instead. As bomb dogs are sent through the plane, Claire is told by the pilot, Captain Sam McKeon, that the FBI is taking over first class to protect a witness and that she is responsible for telling the first class passengers that they are now flying coach. However, Kim’s men find out which plane Sean is flying on and plan a trap, spraying some leis with a pheremone which are then given to the passengers as they board the plane. Once the passengers are boarded, the plane takes off but unknown to everyone, Kim’s men have placed a crate full of dangerous snakes in the cargo hold with a time release set to trigger halfway through the flight. When the timer goes off, the crate opens and the snakes begin making their way through the cargo hold and into the cabin. Kyle and Kelly, a couple who snuck into the restroom to join the mile-high club, are the first people to die as some snakes enter the restroom through the smoke detector that Kyle had disable and bite them, as is another man in another restroom. As the plane starts flying through a storm, more snakes begin slithering through the cabin while some other snakes have managed to short out the avionics. Captain Sam heads down to reset the board while his co-pilot, Captain Rick, keeps the plane steady but while he is down in the hold, he is bit in the neck by a snake but Claire and Rick didn’t see the attack and think he had a heart attack. Claire informs Flynn and Sanders about what happened and Sanders suggests turning back but Rick tells him that it will take longer to fly back than to keep going, then heads back to pilot the plane, informing LAX of what has occurred. As the turbulence from the storm continues, some snakes begin crawling out of the console and when Rick sees them, he starts hitting them with his clipboard, causing the oxygen masks to deploy in the cabin and more snakes to fall onto the passengers. The snakes begin attacking the people and when Sanders goes to see what is going on, he freezes up due to a fear of snakes and ends up being bitten. Flynn heads down and starts directing people to the front of the plane, then has them make a barrier out of the luggage that is there. Mercedes, a rich socialite, had been knocked unconscious during the initial panic but she is saved by another passenger, Chen Leong. Meanwhile, Grace hears a baby crying and heads back to rescue the mother and baby but is bitten by a snake and dies from the venom. Flynn helps Sanders back up to first class but Sanders dies from the venom so Flynn calls Agent Hank Harris in L.A. to explain the situation. Claire and Flynn check on Tommy and Curtis, two kids that were flying solo on the plane and when they see that Curtis has been bitten, one of the passengers works to suck out the venom. Harris goes to see Dr. Stephen Price, an expert on snakes that customs uses for animal smuggling cases. Back on the plane, the passengers are getting angry and demand answers, forcing their way up to first class to get them and Sean tells them that the snakes are on the plane in an attempt to kill him before he can testify. Flynn speaks with Price on the phone and tries to describe the snakes to him but Mercedes suggest using her phone to take pictures and email them to him. Meanwhile, Rick is attacked by a viper and falls into the cargo hold and when Claire notices the plane tilting, she goes to check on him but is confronted by the snake. Claire manages to kill it as Flynn enters the cockpit and they work to try and pull the plane out of it’s dive. Unfortunately, the dive causes the drink trolley’s to crash through the barricades, sending the snakes into the front of the plane. Sean tells everyone to head up to first class, as the snakes begin killing more people but as everyone rushes up the stairs, a giant Burmese python crashes through the overhead lights and begins slithering around. The passengers overcrowd the stairs and several of them end up breaking through the rails and falling to the floor, with several of them being impaled on objects below. As the python heads towards them, a British businessman named Paul throws Mercedes’ chihuahua Mary Kate at the snake to distract it and Mercedes attacks him, but stops as the python encircles Paul and begins constricting him. Everyone makes it up to first class and they seal the opening using a life raft as Flynn and Claire finally manage to pull out of the dive. Rick emerges from the hold and Claire ties a tourniquet around his arm to slow the flow of venom and Rick continues flying the plane but they soon realize that the air conditioning is no longer working. Flynn decides to head down to reset the breakers and Claire makes him a makeshift flamethrower to use as a weapon. With Claire guiding him by walkie-talkie, Flynn makes his way to the breakers, killing snakes along the way, and resets them, restoring air flow to the plane. Meanwhile, Price figures out the dealer most likely to have sold the snakes to Kim and Harris takes him out to the desert to confront the man. When the man is bitten by one of his own snakes, Harris withholds the anti-venom until the dealer tells him which snakes were placed on the plane and confirming that Kim was the one to order them. Harris calls Flynn to tell him the good news but they discover that Rick has died and there are more snakes in the cockpit. When Claire asks if anyone can fly the plane, Three G’s, a famous rapper, says his bodyguard Troy can fly it. Flynn comes up with a plan to clear the snakes out of the cabin by shooting out a window and allowing the explosive decompression to clear the cabin, then he and Troy head into the cockpit, while the hole widens and ends up sucking the life raft out the hole and then clearing out all of the snakes in the plane. Troy contacts LAX to tell them he is landing and though his only experience is through flight simulator games, he manages to safely land the plane. The authorities arrive to help everyone off the plane and give anti-venom to those people still alive. Sean and Flynn are talking when Sean is struck in the chest by a snake that managed to survive. Flynn shoots the snake, knocking Sean down the emergency slide and then jumps down to help up Sean, who survived due to his wearing a bullet proof vest. Afterwards, Flynn asks out Claire while Sean ends up getting the phone number and a kiss from Tiffany, who he saved earlier. Some time later, Sean and Flynn are at the beach in Bali and Sean is helping to teach Flynn how to surf.

Snakes On A Plane met with positive reviews from the critics, holding a 69% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Snakes on a Plane lives up to its title, featuring snakes on a plane. It isn’t perfect, but then again, it doesn’t need to be.” Supposedly, Samuel Jackson’s agent wanted the movie title changed saying that Jackson could not work on a movie with that title but when he heard about it, Jackson demanded it be changed back saying, “That’s the only reason I took the job. I read the title.” The movie had finished shooting in 2005 but reshoots were made in March of 2006 to change it from a PG-13 to an R rating, including adding Jackson’s famed line, which was added due to it being used in an anticipatory Internet parody of the movie. With all of the buzz surrounding the movie, the studio thought it would be a big hit but it ended up being only mildly successful, earning $62 million off of a $33 million budget but would become a cult hit when it was released on video and began airing on TV.

This is one of the most honest movies you will ever see because it gives you exactly what it says it will; snakes on a plane. The acting is pretty good, with Samuel L. Jackson (Flynn), Julianna Margulies (Claire), and Nathan Phillips (Sean) all doing good jobs in their roles. I also like Kenan Thompson (Troy) and David Koechner (Rick) as they added a good bit of humor to the movie in the scenes they were in. The story was as simple as it was ridiculous and made for some very entertaining viewing. I will give them props for trying to explain how the snakes suddenly started attacking people instead of just leaving it to people’s imagination. The special effects regarding the snakes were pretty good, though there were plenty of times that the snakes looked a little too fake as they were slithering around or attacking people but that just added to the humor of the movie. Make no mistake about it, this is not a good movie in the classic sense of the word, but this is definitely an entertaining movie and one that is worth watching.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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October 1st, 2017 Movie – Smokin’ Aces

smokin' aces

Holy cow, can you believe it is already October? This year has absolutely flown by, kind of like today. My apologies for the late post with today’s movie but I had to go in to work for a couple of hours today, then there was football to watch. So, when today’s movie came out in theaters, I remember seeing the trailer and thinking it looked somewhat interesting but I never got around to seeing it as there was a lot going on in my life back then. I would eventually pick it up during a Blockbuster run, which would be the first opportunity I have to watch it so let’s see if it was worth the wait as I watch today’s movie, Smokin’ Aces.

The plot: The FBI has been systematically targeting the Mafia, with Primo Sparazza being the last vestige of power withing the Mafia. The FBI have been working on turning Buddy “Aces” Israel, a Las Vegas magician, into an informant. As Agents Donald Carruthers and Richard Messner are maintaining surveillance on Sparazza when the overhear one of Sparazza’s underbosses, Serna, is on the phone talking about how Sparazza has called in a specialist known as “The Swede” and offers him $1 million to bring back the heart of Israel. Serna decides he will go against Sparazza as part of a power grab and will hire two girls that he has dealt with before to take out Israel before hand but worries about how when word hits the streets about the bounty, more people will be going after him. The next day, Jack Dupree, a bail bondsman, is talking with two former cops, “Pistol” Pete Deeks and Hollis Elmore about Israel at the same time that Deputy Director Stanley Locke is discussing Israel’s connection to Sparazza. Locke then starts telling them of the different hitmen that will now be after Israel in order to collect the bounty; Georgia Sykes and Sharice Watters (the two women that Serna had spoke of), Pasquale “The Plague” Acosta (a legendary expert in torture), the Tremor brothers (a trio of neo-nazi speed freaks), and Lazlo Soot (a master of disguise). Dupree has been hired by the law firm that represented Israel to bring him back for his next court appearance. Elsewhere, Locke informs Carruthers and Messner that Morris Mecklen, Israel’s agent, is working with Locke on an immunity deal and he sends them to Lake Tahoe to grab Israel and make sure nothing happens to him. In Lake Tahoe, Israel is nervously waiting to hear back from Mecklen and has Sir Ivy, his head of security, get rid of the hookers he had the night before and order some new ones while Israel yells at Hugo, another bodyguard/hanger on, about semen stains that got on his coat. Elsewhere, Serna’s associate meets with Sykes and Watters to discuss how they will be getting into the hotel and up to Israel’s room while Dupree, Deeks, and Elmore meet with Ripley “Rip” Reed, the lawyer that hired Dupree to bring Israel back for his court appearance. Carruthers and Messner arrive in Lake Tahoe and wait for Locke’s signal that the deal is on and Messner spends the time reading the file on Freeman Heller, an FBI agent that had gone undercover but was killed by Sparazza. Acosta shows up at the hotel, posing as an FBI agent and asks to speak with the hotel’s head of security while Dupree is talking with Deeks and Elmore and shows them hotel staff uniforms he acquired but they are shot down by the Tremor brothers, who take the uniforms and throw the bodies in the lake. At the hotel, Soot has killed someone and works on making a latex mask to use in his disguise when Hugo shows up and Soot kills him and takes his place. Israel is on the phone with Mecklen, who tells him they need to make the deal now or else the FBI will nullify any protection agreement and Israel agrees and says he will give up Sparazza’s group as well as his own crew, unaware that Sir Ivy was listening in. Locke informs Carruthers and Messner and they head over to the hotel to ensure Israel doesn’t make a run for it and Carruthers calls ahead to try and reach security but Acosta has killed the head of security. At the lake, Elmore is shown to have survived the shooting while Carruthers and Messner receive word of Dupree’s death and learn about the hotel security uniforms that he purchased are missing and it is shown that the Tremor brothers are wearing the uniforms to infiltrate the hotel. Meanwhile, Sykes dresses up as a prostitute and plans on infiltrating the penthouse with the other hookers while Watters is set up in a hotel across the street with a sniper rifle to cover her. Carruthers heads into the hotel while Messner heads to the lake to investigate the shooting. Back in Washington, Locke is given a file concerning the Heller case and after he reads it, he is told to contact the Director and he says not to tell Carruthers or Messner. Inside the hotel, Carruthers tries to find out where the security office is and when Acosta, who is wearing a security uniform, is pointed out to him, Carruthers goes to talk to him and has him take him to the penthouse. Meanwhile, Ivy confronts Israel about the deal he made while outside the bathroom, Soot kills the other bodyguard. In the elevator, Carruthers notices Acosta’s fingers and realizes that the security guard is one of the killers and the two end up attacking and shooting each other. Meanwhile, Ivy tries to shoot Israel but Israel throws a playing card at him, cutting Ivy close to his eye and he ends up firing blindly. When security enters the penthouse, Israel has them arrest Ivy for Beanie’s death. Security shuts down the elevators but the Tremor brothers hot-wire the one they are in and have it continue towards the penthouse. In another part of the hotel, Sykes opens up the elevator and finds Carruthers and Acosta’s bodies but she ends up being trapped when Messner shows up. Sykes has Watters help her try and shoot her way out of there but she is shot by Acosta, who is then shot by Carruthers. As Messner and the other agents drag Carruthers and Acosta’s bodies out of the elevator, Sykes manages to close the doors and have it continue towards the penthouse. Meanwhile, Watters sees a hooker, who was killed in the crossfire, and thinking it is Sykes, begins firing wildly into the building until she runs out of ammo. Outside the penthouse, The Tremor brothers kill all of the security guards but Ivy manages to kill Jeeves and Lester Tremor. As Darwin moves to kill him, the elevator opens and Sykes walks out and threatens to shoot him and he quickly jumps into the elevator to escape. As Locke arrives with some more agents, they head to the penthouse to find Soot had drugged Israel and take him into custody. Messner is running up the stairs as Ivy and Sykes are heading down and they have a brief face-off but Sykes says she didn’t kill the men in the elevator and he chooses to let them go and continues upstairs. Watters sees Sykes being carried out of the building by Ivy just as some FBI agents arrive to arrest her and she ends up being killed. Soot manages to escape custody and shed his disguise, then leaves the hotel while Acosta is shown being carried out on a stretcher but he is still alive. Darwin also manages to escape but as he heads to the car park to get away, he is confronted by Elmore, who shoots him. Messner reaches the penthouse and asks to be told what is going on but Locke tells him to head back to Washington for a debriefing. Messner defies orders and heads to the hospital to confront Locke, holding him at gunpoint. Locke shows him Sparazza and Buddy and explains that they are father and son and that the Swede is actually a famed heart surgeon and through a series of unfortunate events, people misunderstood what Sparazza had intended and thus the resulting blood bath ensued. Locke says that Soot was given the contract to retrieve Israel so they could do a heart transplant for Sparazza. Messner is shocked that Locke will allow this but Locke tells him that Sparazza is actually Heller, the FBI agent Sparazza supposedly killed. Heller’s superiors thought that he had gone rogue and had him killed but Heller survived and so the FBI used reconstructive surgery to save his life. Messner is upset about the fact that Locke kept them in the dark and Locke threatens to fire him before telling him to go back to Washington. As Locke goes to talk with the doctor and some other agents, Messner enters the room that Israel and Sparazza are in and locks the door. He then sits in a chair between the two men and unplugs both of their life support machines, then places his gun and badge on the floor and watches Locke and the others try to get in as Israel and Sparazza die.

Smokin’ Aces met with mostly negative reviews from the critics, holding a 29% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “A violent mess of a movie, Smokin’ Aceshas some Quentin Tarantino’s style but not much of his wit or humor.” The movie was the feature film debut of Alicia Keys and Common, both of whom are Grammy winning artists. Smokin’ Aces was a mild hit at the box office, earning $57.1 million off of a $17 million budget and a direct to video prequel was released in 2010.

This was a decent movie but all of the different sub-plots kind of made it a trainwreck. The acting was good, with Ryan Reynolds (Messner), Jeremy Piven (Israel), Ray Liotta (Carruthers) all did good jobs in their roles. I also liked several of the other characters, such as Chris Pine (Darwin), Ben Affleck (Dupree) Alicia Keys (Sykes) and Common (Ivy). The story was interesting but I think the director tried to have too many characters involved in the story, which was meant to distract the FBI from the main objective against Israel but it made the movie a lot more confusing. The way they tried to involve all of the characters and use them actually seemed to waste a lot of time in the movie and if they had fewer characters, the pacing would have been better. As for the twist ending, it honestly didn’t feel like much of a shock because they seemed to set it up early on, then decided to scrap it, then go back and make it an official twist ending. The special effects were pretty good and this was actually a lot bloodier than I thought it would be, certainly bloodier than the trailers indicated. It is a good movie but it had potential to be a lot better.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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September 17th, 2017 Movie – The Skulls

the skulls

Ahh, the turn of the century and a time when you could actually go out on a date to the movies and get some snacks for the cost of one ticket now a days. I know in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, I watched a lot of movies in the theaters, honestly more movies than I can remember off hand. I do remember going to see this movie in the theaters down in Savannah on a date with my girlfriend at the time. Even though I bought it on DVD (another Blockbuster purchase), I honestly haven’t watched this movie in years but I do remember liking this movie when I first saw it. Now let’s see if it still holds up as I watch today’s movie, The Skulls.

The plot: Luke McNamara is a local “townie” that is able to attend Yale on scholarships while also working in the cafeteria to help cover the costs. As he tries to figure out how to afford to go to law school, Luke heads to a rowing competition, where he is the captain of the team and has lead them to 3 championships. As they prepare for the race, Luke is unaware that he is being observed by two men, who are considering recruiting him to be in The Skulls. After winning the competition, Luke is celebrating at a bar with his friend/roommate Will, who is also the coxswain of the rowing team, and Chloe, who Luke has feelings towards. Will tries to convince Luke that he should tell Chloe how he feels but Luke says that he can’t, as he feels like he has nothing to offer her since she comes from a wealthy family. As Luke complains about how much all of his tuition is costing and how much he will end up and how the Skulls will supposedly help him pay for all of that if he is selected to join but Will warns him that if it’s secret, it might not always be a good thing as they walk by the Skull’s campus house. As they are eating pizza up in Chloe’s dorm room, Luke receives a phone call asking if he is ready to be reborn and instructing him to another payphone. Luke rushes off, with Will and Chloe trying to figure out where he is going, and after following a series of instructions, Luke drinks a drugged drink and ends up passing out. Luke regains consciousness and finds himself inside a coffin and finds several other people also exiting coffins. Suddenly, two hooded figures welcome the new members to The Skulls and assigns them a test to steal the mascot from a rival secret society. The group head to the society’s building and one kid, Caleb Mandrake, quickly jumps over the moat to reach the door. When he says it is locked, Luke jumps over and manages to pick the lock and the two manage to climb the tower and steal the mascot, a weather vane shaped like a python. When Luke returns to his dorm room the next morning, Will and Chloe start asking him questions about what happened but Luke says he doesn’t want to talk about it. When Will asks him point blank if he is a Skull, Luke tells him he doesn’t know but Will doesn’t believe him. The two start arguing and Chloe tries to get them to calm down but when Caleb calls for Luke, Will gets even more upset that Luke is picking his new friends over his old ones. Chloe leaves as well, looking hurt over Luke’s actions and when Luke talks to Caleb, Caleb tells him to look under his pillow and Luke finds a box containing a Skull medallion. Luke, Caleb, and the other recruits arrive at the Skull’s ritual room and are paired off into “soulmates”, with Luke and Caleb being paired together, and inducted into the Skulls by the Chairman of the order, Judge Litten Mandrake , Caleb’s father. After leaving the room, Luke heads to Chloe’s room to apologize and asks her to dinner but when he finds that he has an additional $20,000 in his bank account, Chloe realizes that he is a Skull but Luke tries to convince her to be happy for him. The next day, Luke, Caleb and the other Skulls are invited to the Skull’s island retreat and Litten introduces Luke to his soulmate, Senator Ames Levritt, who takes a liking to Luke due to their similar backgrounds and hands him a card, saying to call him if he needs anything. Luke then goes to talk with Caleb and comments on the tension between him and his father and Caleb says that Litten is ambitious and wants to be on the Supreme Court and has been trying to pass on that ambition to him but Caleb doesn’t know what he wants yet. After returning from the island, the new Skulls find gifts in the form of new cars waiting for them and they all quickly speed off. The next day, Luke sees Will in between classes and comments on his missing practice and Will tells him he is working on something secret. Elsewhere, Caleb is at boxing practice and when he heads to his car, he finds the window is smashed and someone has stolen his key to the Skull’s building. Caleb goes to find Luke and asks to borrow his key, saying he left his key inside the building, and Luke hands it to him. When Caleb gets to the ritual room, he finds Will in there taking pictures and accuses him of taking his stuff and Will admits to it and goes to hand him his key but says he doesn’t have the rule book on him. Later that night, Luke feels bad about his argument with Will and heads to the newspaper room to apologize only to find Will’s body hanging from one of the beams. The detective in charge of the case, Detective Sparrow, starts to question Luke about Will’s death but is stopped by the University Provost, Martin Lombard, and Luke leaves with Chloe, while Caleb offers his condolences. As movers are packing up Will’s stuff to send back to his home, they uncover a secret drawer in his desk and Luke realizes that Will was doing an article about the Skulls and had Caleb’s book. After the funeral, Chloe tells Luke she knew Will was doing the article but had been asked to keep it a secret and asks Luke if the story got Will killed. Luke tells her he doesn’t know but she can tell that he is not being completely honest and calls him out for lying as she leaves in tears. The next day, Sparrow talks with Luke about the case and tells him that Will had a contusion on the back of his head, indicating something violent happened before he died and that his suicide was possibly staged. At a meeting with the Skulls, the group are brought to a room to reveal their deepest secrets and Luke volunteers himself and Caleb to go first. After they are sealed into the cage and lowered into the well, Luke subtly questions Caleb about what happened to Will but Caleb refuses to answer it. Afterwards, Luke and Caleb are brought to see Litten and Litten forces Caleb to tell him the truth. Caleb explains that he went to the room and found Will taking pictures and after confronting him, they struggled and Will ended up falling and breaking his neck so he called Litten and Litten covered up the accident in order to protect his future as well as the Skulls. Luke isn’t happy about it but Litten offers him a pre-approved acceptance to any law school he wishes in order to keep the secret. Luke gets in touch with Levritt to try and figure out what he should do and Levritt give Luke the idea about checking the security tapes, as everything that happened would be recorded and comments on how the Council is putting everything into getting Litten onto a Federal Bench, as a precursor to the Supreme Court, and it would be a shame to see anything happen that would ruin his chances. Luke goes to see his old high school friends, who he used to commit crimes with, and convinces them to help him in exchange for giving them his car. They find out the tapes are switched out twice a day and try to follow where the man takes them but Luke loses him in the school’s library. When Luke returns to his room, he is attacked by Caleb, who reveals that Luke’s room is bugged, as is Caleb’s and Chloe’s, and begs Luke to stop digging into the matter. Luke goes to see Chloe and apologizes for what he has done and proceeds to tell her everything. Meanwhile, Litten calls the Council and wants to kick Luke out of the Skulls but Levritt votes against the measure until Litten pulls him aside and shows him photos of Levritt with his 19 year old mistress, blackmailing him into voting for the measure. The next day, Chloe yells at Luke in the cafeteria for writing him a letter breaking up with her and tells him to never talk to her again. After she leaves, Caleb, who was sitting behind Luke, tells him it was a good call, as he feels Luke did it to keep Chloe away from him. Luke then heads up to Chloe’s room, revealing it was an act, and after turning up the music and her shower to insure nobody can hear them, he tries to get her to stay clear of any further involvement but she tells him she is involved because she loves him, and the two embrace and kiss. That night, Luke assaults the security guard as he enters a secret room in the library and steals the tape of the ritual room from the night Will was killed. As he leaves, he is chased down by Lombard and another man but his friends, wearing masks to hide their identities, show up and beat them down, then they all escape with Chloe. Heading back to his friends’ place, they watch the tape and see Will fall and Caleb call his dad and tell him what happened. Caleb wants to call the police but Litten apparently tells him to leave the room. As the continue watching the tape, the see that Will was still alive but Lombard and his men enter and after talking with Litten, they kill him and then take the body to stage the suicide. Luke heads to the police to speak with Sparrow only to find that Caleb is there, having told Sparrow that Luke killed Will. Luke hands Sparrow the tape saying that it proves who killed Will but when Sparrow, Luke, and the D.A. watches the tape, they find it is blank and Luke realizes that Sparrow switched the tapes as he is carried off and placed into an ambulance, where he is sedated and transported to a psychiatric institute that is run by a member of the Skulls. Back at the school, Chloe goes to speak with Caleb and ask for his help in getting Luke out of the mental hospital but Caleb refuses to help her and tells her to leave and she does, but tells him that Will was still alive when he left the room. Chloe is assaulted by Lombard and his men but manages to get away from them and runs into Levritt, who takes her to the hospital. They get Luke out of the hospital and Ames tells her to tell Luke there is only one way out of this and to remind Luke that, “they live by the rules and they die by the rules.” As they leave, they are attacked by another car, which forces them off the road, causing them to crash on an unfinished railroad bridge. Lombard goes to shoot Luke but he is killed by Sparrow, who hands Luke his rule book and tells them to leave. At a motel, Luke tries to figure out what Levritt meant and when Chloe tells him about what Levritt told her, he checks the rule book and figures out what Levritt meant. Luke rows over to the island and as Litten is toasting the new Skulls on ending their Period of Revelation, Luke enters the room and challenges Caleb to a duel. Litten wants Luke to be arrested but when he is reminded that the Skulls’ laws supersede the outside laws, he offers to take Caleb’s place, only for Luke to tell him it is forbidden for the Council members to interfere when the matter concerns their kin. As they prepare to face off in the duel, Luke tries to convince Caleb to tell everyone the truth of what happened, refusing to fire on Caleb but Caleb can’t tell them, but also can’t shoot Luke. Litten grabs another pistol and prepares to shoot Luke but he is shot in the shoulder by Caleb. As everyone rushes to tend to Litten, Caleb grabs another pistol and prepares to shoot himself but he is stopped by Luke, he says it is over. Later, Luke is talking with Levritt and tells him that he knows he orchestrated things to play out as they did in order to remove Litten as Chairman. Levritt admits it and tells Luke he looks forward to working with him but Luke says he is leaving the Skulls. When Levritt says they will find him and call on him but Luke ignores him and leaves, prompting Levritt to watch him and say, “Well done son, well done”, as Luke rows back to the mainland and joins up with Chloe, who was waiting for him.

The Skulls was pretty much panned by the critics, holding a 9% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “The Skulls is full of nonsense and empty of good script and plot.” The movie is based on conspiracy theories concerning Yale’s Skull & Bones Society and though the school is not mentioned by name, there are several references to Yale throughout the film, primarily them referring to the rowing team as The Bulldogs. Despite the poor reviews, the movie was a hit at the box office, earning $50.8 million off of a $15 million budget and would spawn two direct to video sequels.

Yeh, this movie didn’t quite hold up as well as I thought it would. The acting was ok, with Joshua Jackson (Luke) and Leslie Bibb (Chloe) doing a good job in their roles and showing some decent chemistry together. I also liked Craig T. Nelson (Litten) and William Petersen (Levritt) but I thought Paul Walker (Caleb) seemed rather bland. The story was honestly a little weak, with them trying to make a good suspense/thriller but basically threw a bunch of dramatic cliches up against the drawing board and hoping they would stick. The really annoying thing was the hinted familial relationship between Levritt and Luke, as they try and hint that Levritt is Luke’s dad, but waited till the end to drop that dud of a bombshell and did absolutely nothing with it. Honestly, the thing I liked the best about this movie was the soundtrack and while it can sometimes help carry a movie, that is definitely not the case this time. It might be worth watching for some people but this was really a disappointment to me.

Rating: 2 out of 5

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September 11th, 2017 Movie – Sin City: A Dame To Kill For

sin city 2

Whenever I think of this movie, the phrase “Strike while the iron is hot” always comes to mind. Now I know the literal meaning of the phrase has to do with smithing and metal working but it also has come to mean take advantage of an opportunity when it presents itself. In Hollywood, this means that if you have a successful movie, you should try and do a sequel fairly quickly in order to take advantage of people’s liking the first movie enough that they would want to see the sequel. In regards to today’s movie, Sin City: A Dame To Kill For, several reasons kept this movie from being filmed immediately after, which probably contributed to it’s failure at the box office.

The plot: [Just Another Saturday Night] Marv crawls out from a car wreck and has no memory of how he got there. After taking his medicine, he examines himself and finds a bullet wound in his arm that he figures is an hour old and the body of a frat boy nearby but he still can’t remember anything. Trying to recall his steps, Marv realizes that since it was Saturday night, he had probably started the night at Kadie’s, watching Nancy dance. After leaving there, he was drinking in an alley when he caught four frat boys setting winos on fire. When he confronts them, one of the boys tells him to mind his own business, calling him “Bernini Boy” but Marv mishears it as Bernie, then shoots him in the shoulder. When Marv continues to move towards them, the boys run to their car and Marv jumps onto the side as they drive off but ends up being slammed into a police car. Marv smashes through the windshield and throws the cops out of the car, then proceeds to keep the frat boys from returning to the university, forcing them up the hill towards the projects, where he finally crashes his car into them. Marv sees another frat boy close to death nearby and stomps on his throat to kill him, then heads after the remaining two boys. As Marv enters The Projects, the two remaining boys are on a rooftop watching him and the one with the gun takes aim at Marv. Before he can shoot, several arrows whip by them and land at Marv’s feet. Marv signals “his old neighbors” to remind them who he is, then has them shoot the two boys. instead. Making his way to the roof, Marv has his old neighbors kill one of the boys, then asks the boy who shot him why he called him Bernie. The boy explains that Bernini is the brand of coat he has on and Marv thanks him, then yells out for a knife, which he uses to slit the boy’s throat. As Marv comments on how nice the coat is, he wonders where he got it, as well as the gloves he is wearing, but he can’t remember.
[The Long Bad Night: Part 1] A young gambler named Johnny arrives at Kadie’s and after flirting with a waitress named Marcie, has her accompany him to the slot machines. After he hits a jackpot, he asks another waitress where the “real action” is and is directed to the back of the bar, where Senator Roark runs a poker game. Hitting the jackpot on another slot machine, he takes Marcie with him as a good luck charm and heads to the back to buy into the poker game. Roark allows him to play and as they are playing, none of them are aware of Nancy watching them from a hole in the wall, her attention focused solely on Roark as she aims the gun from her act at him. Johnny ends up winning everyone’s money and after collecting his winnings, he goes to leave. One of the players, who is a cop, warns him to get out of town but Johnny says that he can’t miss tomorrow’s game then gets in his car with Marcie and heads out on the town. Inside the club, Nancy is starting her act on stage but she has become a drunk after Hartigan’s death. Hartigan’s ghost enters the bar and watches as Nancy points her gun at Roark as he is leaving, then at herself, and comments that one day she will pull the trigger and begs her not to take revenge for him but to live her life. Meanwhile, Johnny and MArcie are enjoying themselves when all of his credit cards are suddenly declined. As Johnny walks Marcie back home, he notices two men following them and he quickly beats them down before they can jump him. Seeing a limo pulling up, he tells Marcie to meet him at his hotel, then gets in the limo, where Roark is waiting for him. Roark says that Johnny embarrassed him and so in retaliation, he has his men use a pair of pliers to break the fingers in Johnny’s playing hand and then throws him from the limo. He then gets out and shoots him in the leg. Roark then tells him that he recognizes Johnny as one of his illegitimate sons but tells him that he only had one son, Roark Junior, and he would never claim Johnny. Roark leaves Johnny lying there and Johnny swears revenge on Roark.
{A Dame To Kill For] (This story takes place before the events of The Big Fat Kill) Dwight McCarthy is trying to put his violent past behind him and make a living as a private detective and taking pictures of a businessman named Joey having sex with a hooker named Sally. After they finish, Dwight goes to leave but when he sees Joey is about to kill Sally, Dwight saves her and takes her back to Old Town, then heads back to his office to develop the pictures. After taking them to his client, he returns home only to get a call from Ava, his former lover, who asks him to meet her. Dwight knows he shouldn’t, but he goes to the saloon to meet with Ava, who begs for his forgiveness. When Manute appears to take Ava home, Dwight starts to stand up to him, prompting Marv to offer his aid if needed, but Ava tells Dwight it is too late for her and she leaves with Manute. Dwight gets worried so he heads to the mansion Ava lives in and sneaks onto the grounds. He sees Ava skinny dipping in her pool and comments on how she doesn’t looked abused when the mansion’s security catch him. Ava apologizes to Dwight and heads inside while Manute proceeds to beat Dwight into unconsciousness. Dwight is thrown out of a car in front of his place and he is surprised to find his car there. When he heads inside, he finds a naked Ava waiting for him and tries to get her to leave but she refuses and ends up seducing him into bed. After they have sex, Dwight asks her to tell him what is going on and she tells him about her husband Damien and how he and Manute torture her and she knows one day they will kill her. When Manute shows up to take her back, Dwight tries punching him but he has no effect and Manute punches him out of his window, then escorts Manute back to the mansion. Dwight heads to Kadie’s and recruits Marv to help him and they head for the mansion. When they get there, they split up, with Marv taking out the guards and then battling Manute, beating him and taking out one of his eyes. Meanwhile, Dwight makes his way inside and confronts Damien, who tells Dwight that he is being lied to by Ava. When Damien pulls out a gun, Dwight punches him and accidentally kills him. Ava then reveals that she tricked Dwight into killing Damien so she could have all of his money, then shoots him several times, eventually knocking him out a window. Marv grabs Dwight’s body and makes their escape, with Dwight telling him to head to Old Town. When they get there, Gail is upset that they had cops following them into Old Town but when Dwight calls out her name, Gail rushes to his side and has Miho get some help. Back at the mansion, Ava is talking to two detectives, Mort and Bob, about what happened and starts seducing Mort, who calls her later that night and she continues to seduce him, convincing him to come to the mansion. Back in Old Town, Dwight regains consciousness and Gail tells him that the cops are looking for him but they will take care of that. When Goldie and Wendy show up and want to kick Dwight out of Old Town, threatening to have Miho kill him, Gail tells them that Dwight stays and tells Miho that she owes her life to Dwight, causing her to sheath her sword. Meanwhile, Mort is falling in love with Ava, though his partner tries to convince him she is up to no good. Dwight undergoes facial reconstruction and while he is still bandaged up, he pays a visit to Manute’s hospital room and warns him to stay out of his way. Meanwhile, Mort is heading to Old Town to get Dwight and when Bob tells him to turn the car around, Mort kills him, then comes to his senses and kills himself as well. Ava has a dinner party and speaks with mob boss Wallenquist to try and make a deal to control Old Town and Wallenquist says he has a specialist from Texas that he can bring in. Manute meets the specialist at the train station but the specialist, who is really Dwight with a new face, says he has his own ride as a disguised Gail pulls up and they follow Manute to Ava’s mansion. When they get there, Manute leads Dwight away from Gail and has him searched, then says he recognized Dwight and takes him to see Ava. Outside, Gail lets Miho out of the trunk of the car and they begin killing all of the guards. Meanwhile, Dwight pulls out a hidden revolver and shoots Manute with it but when he doesn’t kill him, starts fighting with him until Ava grabs one of Manute’s guns and proceeds to shoot him with it. Ava then approaches Dwight and tries to seduce him again but as she kisses him, Dwight shoots her, then holds her as she dies.
[The Long Bad Night: Part 2] Johnny goes to see Kroenig, an unlicensed doctor, and has him do what he can to tend to his injuries. As he heads back to his hotel, he worries about Marcie and Roark possibly going after her. Sneaking in through the window, he finds Roark waiting for him and his men show him the dismembered corpse of Marcie. Roark threatens to shoot Johnny, causing Johnny to jump back out the window, but Roark tells him he likes seeing Johnny in this condition. Trying to figure out his next move, Johnny heads to a diner and a waitress takes pity on him and give him a dollar, which he then uses back at Kadie’s to play the slot machines and win some more money. Taking his winnings, Johnny buys back into the poker game but he ends up folding his first couple of hands, prompting Roark to taunt him. When Johnny goes all in on a hand, Roark calls him and Johnny ends up winning, then tells Roark that he beat him twice, and people will always remember that, prompting Roark to shoot him and then tell his men to get rid of the body so they can keep playing.
[Nancy’s Last Dance] Nancy goes to visit Hartigan’s grave and lay some flowers on it, unaware that she is being followed. The police lieutenant that was following her reports his findings to Roark and tells him about Nancy’s actions but Roark is dismissive of it and says that she can drown in her own sorrows. Meanwhile, Nancy continues her downward spiral since Hartigan died and Hartigan’s ghost continues to watch as she blames him for leaving her alone. Nancy cuts her hair and heads to Kadie’s to do her act, making it more sexual than normal, which causes Marv to worry about her and leave. After her act, Nancy smashes the mirror, then uses a shard to start cutting up her face. The next day, Marv enters the club and when he sees Nancy’s face, asks her who did it and she tells him Roark. The two leave, taking out some bikers in order to her their weapons, and then head for Roark’s mansion. Nancy works on taking out the perimeter guards while Marv heads onto the grounds and deals with the guards inside. When Nancy enters the mansion, she finds a wounded Marv kneeling at the top of the stairs and quickly kills the last guard, then gives Marv a cigarette and tells him to rest. She heads to Roark’s office and shoots at him but only hits a mirror casting his reflection, while the real Roark shoots her. Roark then taunts her by shooting the gun out of her reach and shooting her in the leg before going to finish her off. Suddenly, Roark sees Hartigan in the mirror and turns to look for him and when he turns back around, Nancy had managed to grab her gun and shoots him in the shoulder, then approaches him and finishes him off.

Sin City: A Dame To Kill For met with mixed to negative reaction from the critics, holding a 42% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “A Dame to Kill For boasts the same stylish violence and striking visual palette as the original Sin City, but lacks its predecessor’s brutal impact.” The movie was a mixture of original “Sin City” stories (“A Dame To Kill For” & “Just Another Saturday Night”) as well as two new stories (“The Long Bad Night” & “Nancy’s Last Dance”), which were written exclusively for the film. Although the character of Shellie played a part in the story “A Dame To Kill For”, Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez decided to retire her in the film version in respects to the late Brittany Murphy, who played her in the original movie, but they could not do the same for Manute’s character, as he played too big a role in the story. The movie was a box office bomb, only pulling in $39.4 million off of a  $65 million budget.

The sequel curse definitely hit this movie but this is still a pretty good movie. The acting was good, with Mickey Rourke (Marv), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Johnny), Josh Brolin (Dwight), and Powers Boothe (Roark) doing a good job in their roles. I also liked Dennis Haysbert, who did a good job in taking up the role of Manute following Michael Clarke Duncan’s death. The two stories that were already written were great and I did like the new story “The Long Bad Night” and while I did think it was interesting to see the effect Hartigan’s death had on Nancy, I thought the “Nancy’s Last Dance” story felt too much like a fan service fluff piece in order to appease fans who wanted to see more of Jessica Alba. The film technique and special effects were just as good as the original movie and the occasional bits of color really added to the visual aspect of the movie. Not as good as the original but definitely a fun movie to watch.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

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September 10th, 2017 Movie – Sin City

sin city

When it comes to movies based on comic books, 95% of the time I am all in for going to see them. Occasionally, there are those few (*cough* Catwoman *cough*) that I have no interest in seeing, but that was definitely not the case with today’s movie. I was a fan of Frank Miller’s work ever since I first read “The Dark Knight Returns” and when I heard that they were making a movie based on his “Sin City” graphic novels, I was definitely all in. So I went to watch it on opening night, and got the added bonus of seeing a fight between two girls as I was leaving the theater but that is another story, and was definitely not let down by it. So let’s have some fun with today’s movie, Sin City.

[Since the movie does not have a linear plot, I will review each section as it is shown in the movie]
The plot: [The Customer Is Always Right: Part 1] A woman in a red dress is standing outside on a terrace when a man approaches her and offers her a cigarette. The man tells her he is there for her and has been watching her for days, then tells her he can tell she is tired of running and offers to help her. The two share a kiss and as he holds her, the man shoots her and then holds her until she dies. The man says he will never know what she was running from but will cash her check in the morning.
{That Yellow Bastard: Part 1] Police detective Jack Hartigan is an aging cop on his last day on the force, as his doctor is forcing him to take early retirement due to his bad heart. Before he retires, Hartigan hopes to rescue a young girl, Nancy Callahan, from the clutches of Roark Junior, a sadistic child molester/killer who escapes justice due to his being the son of a senator. When he gets to the docks, his partner Bob tries to talk Hartigan out of it but Hartigan refuses to wait and punches Bob out cold. Hartigan makes his way to the warehouse where Junior and Nancy were said to be at, taking out two of Junior’s men on the way, when he collapses in pain due to his heart problems. Taking some pills and pulling out his gun, Hartigan bursts into through the door and takes out the two men inside, but Junior shoots him in the arm and escapes with Nancy. Hartigan follows him to the end of the dock, where Junior taunts him that he can’t touch him because of his father, but Hartigan shoots his ear off. As Hartigan tells Nancy to cover her eyes, Junior shoots Hartigan in the shoulder, prompting Hartigan to shoot off Junior’s hand and his penis. Suddenly, Hartigan is shot in the back by Bob, who was on Senator Junior’s payroll, and when Hartigan refuses to sit down and goes for his hidden piece, Bob shoots him several more times until Hartigan collapses on the dock. As the sirens get closer, Nancy approaches Hartigan and lays down in his lap while Hartigan passes out due to blood loss, thinking it fitting that an old man dies so a young girl may live.
[The Hard Goodbye] A man named Marv has sex with a prostitute named Goldie but when he wakes up, he finds that she has been murdered and he has been set up to take the fall. When the police come to arrest him, Marv fights his way through them and escapes his building, steals a police car, then drives it off a pier before swimming to a nearby sewer pipe and using it to escape the manhunt. Marv heads to the apartment of his parole officer Lucille, who is dating a shrink that gives her some pills for Marv to take after she tried to give him therapy. After telling her about his run in with the police, Marv heads out to find out who killed Goldie and why. Marv heads to Kadie’s bar and orders some drinks while watching Nancy Callahan, now an adult, dance on stage. While he is drinking, a man named Dwight McCarthy is watching him and comments on Marv being born in the wrong century. When two hit-men show up and escort Marv outside, he quickly subdues them and tortures one of them to get information on Goldie’s killer before he kills them. As he leaves, he thinks he smells Goldie’s perfume but dismisses it, not noticing a woman that looks like Goldie is following him. Marv works his way up the food chain to a crooked priest, who tells him that Roark is involved and tells him to head out to a farm to verify the truth and Marv kills him when he insults Goldie. As he leaves the church, Marv is struck by a car driven by the woman that looks like Goldie, who shoots at him before speeding off. Marv thinks the attack was just a hallucination and heads out to the farm, where he finds a human bone before he is quickly knocked unconscious by Goldie’s killer, a young man named Kevin. When Marv comes too, he is in a tiled room with the heads of several women mounted on the wall and a naked Lucille shivering in the corner and as he goes to comfort her, she reveals that Kevin is a cannibal and has eaten her hand. After she calms down, Lucille explains that she had hired Goldie to be with Marv and Marv said he never knew she was a hooker. Marv manages to break the bars off the window and they try to escape but a police helicopter arrives. Lucille knocks Marv out and tries to arrange a peaceful surrender but the officer in charge shoots her, prompting Marv to kill all of the cops. The officer in charge tells Marv that the man behind all of this is Cardinal Patrick Henry Roark, who holds enough political power to get his brother made a senator. Marv heads to Old Town to find out more information about Goldie when he is shot by the woman. When Marv comes too, the woman starts pistol whipping him to find out what he did to Goldie and the others but when one of the other hookers calls the woman Wendy, Marv learns that she is Goldie’s twin sister. After convincing Wendy that he isn’t the killer, Marv has her help him pick up some supplies and then drive him back out to the farm. After laying out a trap for Kevin, Marv throws a firebomb into the house and sets it ablaze, then manages to handcuff himself to Kevin, so that Kevin can’t move around, before knocking him out. Wendy shows up and goes to kill Kevin but Marv knocks her out and places her in the car. He then heads back to Kevin and proceeds to cut off Kevin’s limbs and then leaves him to be eaten by the wolf that was kept at the farm, cutting his head off before he leaves. Marv calls Kadie’s and has Nancy meet her at her place and he leaves Wendy with her, then heads out to find Cardinal Roark. After hearing Roark’s reasoning for the killings, Marv kills Roark and is then shot by the police but isn’t killed. After he recovers from surgery, he is beaten by police and blackmailed into signing a confession when they threaten to kill his mom. After the trial is over and he is sentenced to death, Marv receives a visit from Wendy, who tells him he can call her Goldie as she holds him. The next day, Marv is strapped into the electric chair and they are forced to electrocute him twice, as he managed to survive the first attempt.
[The Big Fat Kill] Shelly, a waitress at Kadie’s, is arguing with her abusive ex boyfriend Jackie Boy, who is trying to get her to let him into her apartment. As Jackie Boy keeps pounding on the door, her current boyfriend Dwight says to let him in but she refuses as she doesn’t want to cause more trouble. When Jackie Boy threatens to break down the door, Shelly opens it while Dwight gets dressed and ducks out of sight. Jackie Boy and his friends enter the apartment and after talking with her for a few minutes, he decks her and tells her to call some friends so they can all party, then heads off to use the restroom. As Jackie Boy finishes, Dwight grabs him and holds a straight-razor to his face and warns him to stay away from Shelly before dunking Jackie Boy’s head into the toilet and holding it there for a few minutes before he leaves. Jackie Boy is shaken up and quickly leaves with his gang while Shelly finds Dwight out on the ledge watching them leave. She tries to explain how she met Jackie Boy before Dwight came back but Dwight says it doesn’t matter and he has to stop Jackie Boy before anyone else gets hurt. As he leaps off the ledge, Shelly screams out at him but Dwight can’t hear what she is saying due to a passing police helicopter. As Dwight is following after Jackie Boy, a cop starts following him and then goes after Jackie Boy when he almost causes an accident. Jackie Boy heads to Old Town and the cop quickly turns around, as the girls of Old Town are the law in that part of town. Jackie Boy attempts to pick up a prostitute named Becky, Dwight goes to follow but is stopped by Gail, the defacto leader of the girls of Old Town, who tells him that they have been keeping tabs on Jackie Boy and his friends and that Miho is waiting for them to get out of line. When Jackie Boy pulls out a gun and threatens Becky, Miho throws a throwing star to cut off his hand, then proceeds to kill all of Jackie Boy’s men. As Jackie Boy tries to kill Miho, Dwight goes to help her and warns Jackie Boy not to shoot as Miho had blocked the barrel but tries to shoot Dwight and the gun backfires, sending the barrel into his head and Dwight asks Miho to put him out of his misery. As the girls start looting the bodies, Dwight searches Jackie Boy and discovers that he is a cop, which means his death will threaten the truce the girls have with the police. Some of the girls are worried that the bad times will start again but Gail says they will go to war and fight them off. Dwight tells Gail to get him a car and he will get rid of the body before the police shut down the roads and Gail refuses at first but after Dwight smacks her to get her to get the gun out of his face, she kisses him and agrees to give him the car. As Dwight helps Miho cut up the bodies so they fit in the trunk, Becky asks Gail if she can leave and Gail says yes but not to call anyone but Becky disobeys her and calls her mom when she is out of Gail’s sight. All of the bodies don’t fit in the trunk so Dwight puts Jackie Boy’s body next to him and as he drives off, he hallucinates that Jackie is talking to him. After talking his way out of being stopped by a police officer, Dwight pushes the car the last 1/4 mile to the tar pits but ends up being shot by someone who is after Jackie’s body. Meanwhile, Gail is organizing a lock down of the streets when she is grabbed by Manute, who tells her that they know what happened and his master will take over Old Town but offers her a chance to save the women’s lives. Back at the tar pits, the four mercenaries head over to the car to check the body but Dwight was saved due to the bullet hitting Jackie’s badge and he kills the four mercenaries but a grenade is tossed towards him and he is blown into the tar pit. When he comes too, he finds two men working on cutting off Jackie’s head as Dwight sinks into the tar. Dwight is rescued by Miho and Dallas, who tell him that Gail is captured and Dwight tells them they have a spy in Old Town. The head after the two mercenaries and crash into their car and eventually get the head back but Dallas is killed during the fight. Back in Old Town, Manute is torturing Gail while Becky tries to talk her into giving up but Gail bites Becky. Suddenly, Miho shoots an arrow into one of Manute’s men with a note from Dwight offering an exchange of Jackie’s head for Gail and as Manute and the others leave with Gail and Becky, Miho kills the man she shot. Outside, Dwight tells them they can have Old Town so long as he gets Gail and Manute releases Gail, who runs and embraces Dwight. As Dwight hands over the head, Becky says something is wrong and questions why there is tape over Jackie’s mouth, just as Dwight hits the detonator and triggers the explosive he placed inside the head. As Manute and his men recover, they find the rooftops filled with the girls of Old Town and Dwight, Gail, and all of the girls begin shooting at Manute and his men, as they want to leave a body count so high that the mob will deem it not worth trying to take Old Town. Becky is wounded but manages to get away while Dwight and Gail kiss each other and stare at the carnage.
[That Yellow Bastard: Part 2] Hartigan wakes up in a hospital bed to find Senator Roark standing over him, explaining that he plans on keeping Hartigan alive so he can torture him for what he did to his son, by framing him for the rapes and murders of all the kids Junior killed. He then receives a visit from Nancy, who is upset that they won’t let her testify and when Hartigan tells her not to visit or contact him, she tells him that she won’t visit but will write him every week and sign them Cordelia so they won’t know it is from her. The police try to get Hartigan to confess but Hartigan refuses so he is placed in Solitary, where he finds a letter from Nancy waiting for him. Nancy writes him for 8 years but when a few weeks go by without a letter, Hartigan gets worried about them having found Nancy. One day, Hartigan wakes up on the floor and finds a yellow skinned man sitting on his bed. The yellow skinned man knocks out Hartigan and when he comes too, he finds an envelope with a finger inside. Hartigan breaks down and decides to give Roark what he wants and confesses to the crimes in order to try and find Nancy. Hartigan is released and finds Bob waiting for him and he drives him to Nancy’s place, unaware that they are being followed by the yellow skinned man. At Nancy’s place, Hartigan finds no sign of her or where she might be except for a matchbook for Kadie’s. He heads there and asks Shelly if she knows Nancy and Shelly directs him to the stage, where he sees Nancy dancing. Hartigan realizes that he had been tricked and had led the yellow bastard straight to Nancy and tries to get outside before she can spot him but Nancy sees Hartigan and quickly jumps off stage and kisses him. Hartigan tells her they have to leave and as they leave the club, the yellow skinned man follows them and starts shooting at them. Hartigan uses Nancy’s gun to shoot back and manages to shoot the yellow skinned man in the throat, causing the car to crash. Hartigan has Nancy stop so he can confirm that the man is dead but when they check the car, they find no sign of the body and figure he crawled out to die. They head out to a motel to rest, unaware that the yellow skinned man was hiding in the back seat of Nancy’s car. Inside the motel, Nancy admits to Hartigan that she is in love with him and has been ever since he saved her, which is why she wrote to him, and Hartigan has a hard time telling her no, eventually giving in and kissing her before forcing himself to back away from her but tells her that he loves her too. Hartigan goes to take a cold shower only to have the yellow skinned man, who reveals himself to be Roark Junior, knocks him silly. Junior strings Hartigan up and leaves him to hang while he leaves with Nancy and Hartigan tells Nancy not to scream before Junior kicks the table out from under him. Hartigan doesn’t die and manages to break the window and use a piece of glass to free himself. As Junior’s men head to the motel to get rid of Hartigan’s body, Hartigan knocks one of them out and threatens the other one to learn where Junior took Nancy and he tells him that Junior went to the farm. Hartigan heads there in the goon’s car but as he approaches the farm, he starts having chest pains and coughs up blood. Hartigan uses a knife to kill some of the guards quietly and as he gets closer to the barn, he hears Junior whipping Nancy but she refuses to scream. As Hartigan rushes to get to the barn, he ends up getting shot in the arm, alerting Junior to his presence. Hartigan kills the shooter then heads to the barn to confront Junior but as he goes to shoot him, he suddenly collapses. Junior heads over to taunt Hartigan only for Hartigan to stab him in the stomach, revealing that he faked the heart attack to get Junior away from Nancy. Hartigan then proceeds to beat Junior to death with his bare hands before collapsing into Nancy’s arms. As Hartigan escorts Nancy to his car, he tells her to leave while he waits for some federal officers to process the scene so they can take down Roark but after she leaves, Hartigan, knowing Roark will do whatever it takes to kill Hartigan and Nancy since Junior is dead, kills himself in order to save Nancy’s life.
[The Customer Is Always Right: Part 2] Becky is at the hospital getting her arm tended too and talks to her mom on her cell phone when she steps into an elevator. Inside the elevator, she is approached by The Salesman, dressed as a doctor, who asks if she would like a smoke and Becky, knowing who he is, tells her mom that she loves her before hanging up the phone.

Sin City met with mostly praise from the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 78% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Visually groundbreaking and terrifically violent, Sin City brings the dark world of Frank Miller’s graphic novel to vivid life.” With the movies being based on Frank Miller’s books by the same name, there were actually several references to the books through out the movie. During the three main stories, the title of the story is mentioned during one of the main character’s narrations, while the cover art for the book “Booze, Broads, and Bullets” is seen various times throughout the movie. The movie was a hit at the box office, earning $158.8 million off of a $40 million budget.

I am not going to lie, I absolutely love this movie. I honestly think it is one of the best translations to film of any comic book that has ever occurred. The acting was fantastic all around, with Bruce Willis (Hartigan) and Mickey Rourke (Marv) turning in absolutely amazing performances. The story was amazing and honestly felt like I was watching the comic book having come to life right off of the pages. The film technique used in this movie was fantastic, with the black and white style of filming adding to the dark tones of the movie while the occasional splashes of color made for some incredible contrasts which only added to those scenes. One of my favorite aspects was Alexis Bledel’s character of Becky, whose bright blue eyes made for some amazing contrast. The special effects with the fight scenes and the blood were also really good and really added to the whole feel of this being a comic book brought to life. Whether you are a comic book fan or not, this is absolutely a must see movie.

Rating: 5 out of 5

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action, crime, movie, movie review, thriller

August 30th, 2017 Movie – Shooter

shooter

Once again, I find myself watching a movie that is based off of a book that I never read. I remember seeing the trailers for this movie and thinking it was just another generic action movie. At some point I got bored and ended up getting a used copy of it as a spur of the moment purchase. So I ended up watching it and almost immediately afterwards, decided to buy the book that the movie was based on just to compare the two. As is usually the case, I liked the book better than the movie but you can judge for yourself as I watch today’s movie, Shooter.

The plot: On a mission in Africa in a country they are not supposed to be in, Gunnery Sergeant Bob Lee Swagger and his spotter Donnie Fenn are keeping watch over a US team as they head back to Ethiopia, taking out a military patrol vehicle when as it approaches them. When a second, larger force is spotted chasing after the US team, Swagger begins shooting at them, taking out several of the men/drivers and forcing the enemy force to focus on trying to attack them, rather than chasing after the other soldiers. They call in what is happening but the base in Ethiopia shuts down the channel, as the base commander deems them expendable. When a helicopter shows up to help the opposing forces, Donnie is killed but Swagger uses a CheyTac Intervention to take out the helicopter. 3 years later, Swagger is living in a self-imposed exile in the Wind River Range portion of the Rockies in Wyoming with only his dog as company when he is approached by Colonel Isaac Johnson. Swagger is dismissive and tells them to leave but after Johnson shows him his Congressional Medal of Honor, he convinces Swagger to give him 5 minutes to talk. Inside Swagger’s home, Johnson tells him that he needs Swagger to plan a presidential assassination, explaining that the received intel on a possible assassination attempt that will occur in one of three cities and they want Swagger’s help in preventing it. Bob tells them he won’t do it and takes a picture of their vehicle’s license plate to check their identity. After the seeing if the shot that Johnson talked about was possible, Swagger decides to help out and after going to the three cities given to him, tells Johnson that Philadelphia is the likely location. Johnson convinces Swagger to help him in spotting the possible sniper’s location and they head to Philadelphia, where the arch bishop of Ethiopia is giving the President a medal. As the President arrives, local police officer Stanley Timmons arrives at Johnson’s command post and introduces himself to Swagger, who comments about Timmons’ holster being unsnapped. When the President gets up to the podium to speak, Swagger tells them the sniper is loaded and about to fire so they should take him out now but as he turns to face Johnson, Timmons shoots Swagger. At the same time, the sniper fires but hits the arch bishop, not the President, causing a panic at the scene. Swagger falls out of the window and manages to escape, while Jack Payne, one of Johnson’s men, berates Timmons for missing him. The injured Swagger makes his way to the street, where he encounters FBI Agent Nick Memphis. Memphis draws his gun on Swagger but Swagger manages to disarm him and after telling Memphis he didn’t shoot the President, he restrains Memphis then takes his gun and car. As Timmons calls in a manhunt on Swagger, Swagger ducks into a car wash to try and stall being detected while he works on stopping the bleeding from his injuries. When the reports come in on his location, Swagger attempts to escape and after a collision with a truck, crashes into the river. Divers are called in and find the car but there is no sign of Swagger, who holds onto a rope on the side of a barge to get out of the manhunt zone and get ashore on the other side of the river, where he steals a truck and drives out of the city. After stopping in a small town, Swagger knocks out the power to a local shop so that he can buy some supplies and not get caught. After buying the supplies, he sneaks into a auto garage and uses the supplies as a makeshift field medical kit, then does his best to patch himself up in order to stay alive. Meanwhile, Agent Memphis is demoted by his superior for “embarrassing the agency” and placed in the tipline call center. When he receives a call from the clerk about what Swagger bought, he tries to tell another agent but the are dismissive of his theory. Swagger makes his way to Kentucky and pays a visit to Donnie’s widow, Sarah, to ask for her help. Though she is reluctant at first, Sarah agrees to help Swagger, who had gone there thinking she was a nurse but learns she had given up on that idea after Donnie died. Back in Philadelphia, Memphis is talking with fellow agent Alourdes Galindo and telling her his suspicions about Swagger’s guilt and says he wants to speak with Timmons, as he doesn’t believe his story, but Galindo tells him that Timmons was killed by a mugger. As Memphis continues to investigate, he checks out the church and notices some holes in the floor, which he learns were from a tripod mounted remote controlled sniper weapons system. Back in Kentucky, Sarah performs the necessary surgery on Swagger to remove the bullets and then agrees to help him in his plan to flush out Johnson. Sarah goes to Philadelphia with Swagger and he tells her to meet with Memphis and hand him the photos of the plate and VIN number for Johnson’s car. Swagger is watching their meeting but as Memphis leaves, Swagger is approached by two cops and forced to incapacitate them and escape. Memphis begins looking into the information that Sarah gave him and, with Galindo’s help, learns that they are connected to some high end military contractors but as Galindo is telling Memphis this, he ends up being kidnapped by a team of contractors. They torture him for information, then attach a device to his arm to make him shoot himself but Swagger rescues Memphis and after the two talk, Memphis agrees to help Swagger. They travel to Athens, TN to speak with a gun expert and ask him how to fire a bullet from one rifle and make it match the grooves from a different one. He then asks if anyone else could have taken the shot and the expert tells him of one other man, Michael Sandor, and Swagger realizes that he met the man. Memphis calls Galindo to ask for her help in tracking down Sander, just as Johnson decides to draw Swagger and Memphis out by offering him up. Johnson then meets with Senator Charles F. Meachum, who is in on Johnson’s operation, and Meachum tells him to make sure Swagger is killed so Johnson has Payne go and grab Sarah as insurance. When Galindo gives Memphis Sandor’s location, Swagger and Memphis go buy some supplies to make some homemade explosives, then Swagger gives Memphis a crash course in being a sniper/spotter. They head to Sandor’s house, and Swagger makes his way inside, taking out the guards along the way. When he finds Sandor and questions him, Sandor tells him about how military contractors had killed a village in Africa for the purpose of allowing an oil pipeline to go through it, then buried the bodies under a pumping station. He then informs Swagger that he was assigned to cover their escape but he wasn’t supposed to survive. Outside, a team arrives to kill Swagger and Memphis warns him while inside, Sandor tells Swagger that Johnson has Sarah before he kills himself. Swagger tells Memphis to get to a pre-arranged position and start detonating the explosives as Swagger shoots his way out of the house and the two manage to kill the team sent after them. Memphis calls the FBI to tell them he has Swagger in custody but that he can’t bring him in just yet. As soon as he hangs up, Swagger receives a call from Johnson, who had been listening in on the phone call and they arrange to meet, with Johnson agreeing to bring Meachum to the meeting and Swagger will give him the recording of Sandor’s confession in exchange for Sarah. Johnson, Payne, Sarah, and Meachum arrive on the mountain and they see a figure approaching when the figure is shot. Suddenly, a second shot rings out as Swagger kills the sniper, then kills two more counter snipers, while the figure, revealed to be Memphis, continues up to the mountain and removes the metal plate that protected him from being killed. As Payne yells out that Swagger can’t shoot him without risking his shooting Sarah, Swagger shoots the shotgun from his hand, then shoots his arm off. Swagger then approaches the group and after having Memphis disarm Meachum and Johnson, Sarah grabs Meachum’s gun and kills Payne. Swagger and Meachum then talk and as the FBI approaches, due to Memphis telling them where they would be, Swagger burns the recording, as if it was still out there then he, Sarah, and Memphis would be killed over it. Swagger is taken into custody and brought before a meeting with the Attorney General, Memphis, Memphis’ superior, and Johnson. Swagger admits that the gun the FBI found was his but after he places a bullet in it and shows that it won’t fire, he explains that he swapped the firing pin in all of his guns before he left, making it so that none of them would fire if stolen. Memphis then shows the Attorney General images from the file of the mass grave, but the Attorney General says that since the crimes occurred in another country, he had no jurisdiction over the matter and Johnson walks out of the room. The Attorney General approaches Swagger and speaks with him briefly before telling him he is free to go and orders him released. Some time later, Meachum and Johnson are talking in Meachum’s hunting cabin when Swagger kills them and causes the cabin to explode. Swagger then makes his way down the mountain, where Sarah is waiting in a car, and they drive off together.

Shooter received mixed reviews from the critics, holding a 48% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “With an implausible story and numerous plot holes, Shooter fails to distinguish itself from other mindless action-thrillers.” The scene where Swagger shoots a counter-sniper through the rifle scope and hits him in the head is based on an infamous kill by U.S. Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant Carlos Hathcock, who killed a counter-sniper in Vietnam by shooting him through the scope and hitting him in the eye. Shooter was a modest hit at the box office, earning $95.7 million off of a $61 million budget and years later, would spawn a TV show based off of the movie.

I still think the book was better than the movie, but this was a decent movie in itself, despite the general feeling of being a generic action flick. The acting was good, with Mark Wahlberg (Swagger) and Michael Pena (Memphis) doing great in their roles and showed great chemistry acting off of each other. I also thought that Danny Glover (Johnson), Ned Beatty (Meachum), and Elias Koteas (Payne) did a great job in their roles. The plot was a pretty good thriller, feeling a little bit like The Fugitive in the whole innocent man trying to prove his innocence, just with more guns involved. The aspect of Swagger finding out that he unknowingly helped cover for black ops contractors doing something illegal added more motivation to his actions and helped give a better sense of purpose to his wanting to prove his innocence. The special effects in the gun fights were good for the most part, though in some cases they were toned down according to the sniper expert involved in the film. It is fairly generic movie but good enough to keep you entertained if you want to give it a shot.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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