action, comedy, movie, movie review, sports

Flashback Review: June 16th, 2014 Movie – The Cannonball Run

the cannonball run

I feel a little sad watching this movie right now, seeing as how Burt Reynolds has just recently passed away. However, this was actually the first Burt Reynolds movie I remember seeing as a kid so a happy memory kind of balances it out. Anyways, I remember seeing The Cannonball Run as a kid but I didn’t learn until years later that it was actually based on real events. That actually made it more fun for me to watch this movie a few years ago and just as fun to rewatch it today.

The plot: Two girls, Jill Rivers and Marcie Thatcher, are speeding down the highway in a black Lamborghini Countach, taunting a highway patrol officer that is trying to catch them before they cross the state lines. Meanwhile, J.J. McClure and his friend Victor Prinzim are discussing the upcoming Cannonball Run as J.J. works on getting their car ready. When Victor mentions “Him”. J.J. hits his head on the car’s trunk, then tells Victor he doesn’t want to see “Him”, or even talk about “Him”. Later, as they are test driving the car, they come across a police road block and swerve to avoid it but end up crashing their car. As the cops go to check on the drivers, Victor, wearing a cape and mask, emerges from the car and tells the cop that he is Captain Chaos and J.J. is his companion Kato. Later, J.J. and Victor are trying to come up with a new idea for a car to drive when they get into a boating accident and as they are being driven to the hospital in an ambulance, they realize that they can get away with speeding if they are in an ambulance. Elsewhere, Morris Fenderbaum is going to place a bet on himself winning the Cannonball Run and as the bookie laughs at him, Morris points out his driver, former Formula One racer Jamie Blake. Other competitors entering the Cannonball Run are Jill and Marcie, the two girls driving the Lamborghini, Seymour Goldfarb Jr., heir to the Goldfarb Girdles fortune who has begun to identify himself as actor Roger Moore from the James Bond films, Jackie Chan and Micheal Hui, two Japanese racers who are driving a high tech car filled with computerized controls, a Middle-Eastern Shiekh who wants to race against the infidels of America, and Terry and Mel, two good ol’ boys who want to race. Terry and Mel inadvertently crash their car into a pool while trying to avoid a police car and as they are re-tuning their engine, they inadvertently ruin an environmental meeting that Arthur J. Foyt is speaking at. Vowing to stop the Cannonballers from having their race, Foyt is talking with Pamela Glover, a photographer who was at the meeting because she loves trees, when two more Cannonballers, Mad Dog and Batman, crash into the front lobby and knock him out but J.J. and Victor arrive, disguised as Ambulance drivers, show up and revive him. Later, Foyt and Pamela are at the hotel bar when he realizes that most of the people there are Cannonballers and goes to make plans to stop them. Meanwhile, J.J. and Victor are discussing how to get a doctor and a patient to ride in the ambulance with them to complete their disguise. When they notice Jill and Marcie sitting at a table, they approach them about being their patient but are surprised to learn that they are Cannonballers as well. As J.J. turns away, he notices Pamela and goes to talk to her but as they are talking, he is interrupted by Victor and Pamela leaves the table. The next night, the Cannonballers are told the rules of the race, receiving a time card that they punch as they leave the hotel and must punch in at the finish line. Whoever has the fastest time wins the race. As the Cannonballers are all leaving, J.J. asks Victor where the doctor is and when Victor tells him that the doctor got sick, J.J. sends him out to get one. Meanwhile, Foyt and Pamela are watching the cars leave and trying to get all of their license plates but after Mad Dog drives through the woods as a short cut, he decides to try and stop the race now. Victor tells J.J. he has found a doctor but when J.J. opens the door, he is shocked at the appearance of Doctor Nikolas Van Helsing but is upset that they don’t have a patient. However, a little ways down the road, the see Pamela and Foyt in need of assistance and when they pull over, they grab Pamela but drive off before Foyt can get in the ambulance. As they make their way down the road, Pamela is upset about being kidnapped but Van Helsing gives her some laughing gas just as they are pulled over by police. J.J. tells the police that they are taking the Senator’s wife to UCLA Medical Center, and Van Helsing explains that her condition prevents her from flying and that they can’t even go to Denver because it is too high. As all of the Cannonballers make their way to L.A., they all use various means to try and get out of getting busted by the cops; such as Jill and Marcie using their sex appeal to get the cops to not write them tickets while Jackie and Michael turn off their headlights and use infrared to drive at night and not be seen. J.J. and Victor are still driving when Jamie and Morris, disguised as priests, pull up next to them and offer to bless them and their occupants. J.J. knows they are fakes but Victor falls for their trick and pulls over and as Jamie goes to bless them, especially Pamela, Morris lets the air out of one of their tires. J.J. and Victor fix the tire and get back on the road and as they stop for gas further down the road, J.J. sees Jamie and Morris coming and he alerts a nearby cop that they are disguised as priests and had flashed their patient earlier, causing them to be held up. Foyt is continuing his quest to stop the Cannonballers and has a roadblock set up to grab them but J.J. uses the CB in the ambulance to radio a flatbed truck in front of them and they are able to get past the roadblock under the truck and as they do so, Victor works on their transmission while J.J. and Pamela talk and get closer to each other. The race continues, with the Cannonballers encountering the police more and more, until they are stopped by road construction in the California desert. J.J., Victor, Pamela, Van Helsing, Jamie, Morris, Jill, Marcie, Mad Dog, Batman, Jackie, Michael, Seymour (with his latest girl) are waiting for the road to open up when Brad and Shakey Finch, disguised as a honeymoon couple on a motorcycle, pull up. Suddenly, a biker gang shows up and starts harassing Brad and Shakey and when Victor, dressed as Captain Chaos, rushes out and starts fighting the bikers, the other Cannonballers join in the fray. As the fighting continues, the construction crew lets Jamie know that the road is open and all of the Cannonballers race back to their cars. Victor had taken off his mask when he got back in the ambulance and as the ambulance falls behind the other cars, J.J. chastises him for it but Victor dons the Captain Chaos garb again and begins easily passing the other racers. When they reach the pier, Everyone starts racing to the clock and J.J. hands Captain Chaos their card, then tackles the other racers, leaving Captain Chaos and Marcie as the only runners. Captain Chaos is in the lead and about to win but when he hears a woman scream that her baby is drowning, he hesitates briefly before dashing off to rescue the baby, which turned out to be her dog. Marcie wins the race and as J.J. and approaches Captain Chaos, he chastises Victor and says that he cost them the race. He then rips off the mask and cape and tells Victor that he never wants to see Captain Chaos again but Victor says he doesn’t care, quickly donning a new cape and mask and says that he wanted to be Captain U.S.A. anyways, causing J.J. and the others to start laughing. As the Cannonballers celebrate, Foyt arrives and starts berating them for what they did on the highway. Seymour offers him a cigar and tells him to use the lighter in his car, as it is rigged as a button for an ejector seat but when nothing happens, Seymour tries it himself and ends up being launched into the bay.

The Cannonball Run was panned by more recent critics, currently holding a 29% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, most of them felt that the movie felt like nothing more than Burt Reynolds hanging out with some of his pals and cracking inside jokes with each other. Director Hal Needham and writer Brock Yates were actual competitors in the real Cannonball Race, which Yates had created, and the ambulance used in the film was their actual car from the last race. It had been kept in storage for several years and after the movie, it was given to a church charity to auction off. The movie was a box office success, earning $72.1 million off of an $18 million budget and would spawn 1 official sequel and 1 unofficial sequel.

Yet another time where I have to disagree with the critics because I thought that this was a pretty funny movie. The acting was good, with Burt Reynolds (J.J.) and Dom DeLuise (Victor) making for a great comedy team, as did Dean Martin (Jamie) and Sammy Davis Jr. (Morris), while all of the other actors were pretty good as well. I personally thought that Roger Moore’s character of Seymour acting like Roger Moore as James Bond was really funny, especially all of the subtle nods to James Bond that were in the movie, such as the Aston Martin that he is driving as well as the rotating cast of girls he has in the car with him. The main plot of the movie was honestly a little boring, with the idea of a coast to coast race being a little too straight forward. Adding the various bits of comedy to it definitely made it more entertaining in my opinion. The comedy in the movie kind of went the gauntlet of styles. Most of it was play on words while they also had situational, like Jill and Marcie showing cleavage to get out of speeding tickets until they get pulled over by a female officer, and slap stick, which Dom Deluise usually got the brunt of. One of those classic 80’s comedies that sometimes gets overlooked but is worth watching if you get the chance.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

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action, crime, movie, movie review, thriller

Flashback Review: May 30th, 2014 Movie – The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day

the boondock saints 2

Oh, the reaction that this movie caused when it was first announced. I mean, the first movie had become this cult phenomenon among many people, several of my friends included. When it was announced that a sequel would take place, a lot of my friends were really pissed about it, thinking Hollywood had already been making several remakes and sequels that were terrible and they did not need to touch this movie. Now I honestly have no idea how many of my friends saw this movie, or what their opinions of it were if they did see it, but I decided to go ahead and pick up a copy of The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day when it was on the cheap and give it a chance my self.

The plot: 8 years after killing Don “Papa Joe” Yakavetta in a Boston courtroom, Connor and Murphy MacManus are living in Ireland with their father Noah MacManus, the former assassin known as Il Duce. Il Duce is worried that his sons are feeling urges drawing them back to Boston when the village priest arrives at their house and tells them that something has happened. The priest tells them that a priest in Boston was killed in his church, with the killing made to look like the Saints had done it. Connor and Murphy angrily get up from the table and head to the barn, where they dig up the chest containing their weapons and prepare for their journey back to America. The priest asks Noah if he will try to talk them out of it but Noah says that someone had gone to the effort to try and draw them out and it is obvious that it worked. In Boston, Detectives Greenly, Duffy, and Dolly, allies of the Saints, are at the scene of the killing discussing what they should do when FBI Agent Eunice Bloom, who is the protege of Agent Smecker, arrives on the scene and tells them she will be in charge. Meanwhile, Connor and Murphy are on a container ship heading to Boston when they see most of the crew gathered to watch an underground fight. Noticing the men handcuffing a Mexican named Romeo’s hands behind his back, the brothers inquire about what is going on before placing a wager on Romeo, then go talk with him after he wins the fight. Back in Boston, Bloom is able to determine that the Saints were not responsible for the priest’s murder but as the news reporters are not told any details, they poll the public who are split on whether they believe the Saints were responsible or not. Meanwhile, Concezio Yakavetta, the son of Papa Joe, is holding a meeting with his lieutenants, who were upset about not being consulted over his having the priest murdered. Concezio tells them that ever since his father was killed, they have all been living in fear that the Saints would return and finish them off so now he is drawing them out so that he can get rid of them and they can take back control of the streets. At the police station, Bloom tells the chief that all of the evidence points towards Concezio being behind the priest’s killing and when the chief asks why he shouldn’t go public with this information, Bloom tells him to walk with her as she explains her reasoning. Meanwhile, Greenly, Dolly, and Duffy are worried about how bad this will be for them and Greenly says that maybe they won’t even show up in town, prompting Dolly to tell him that they are either in town or on their way. Connor, Murphy, and Romeo have made it to Boston and Romeo drives them to a warehouse, where it is rumored that Concezio has a deal going with some Chinese drug runners. Romeo comes up with a plan to deal with the men in the warehouse but though things don’t go as planned, they still manage to take out all of the men. The next day, Bloom examines the scene of the crime and though there are some inconsistencies in their old pattern, she feels it is the work of the Saints, much to the three detectives chagrin. As Concezio is hiding in a panic room in his home until the Saints are located, Connor, Murphy, and Romeo go to see Romeo’s uncle for information on where Concezio might be and he tells them that Gorgeous George, Concezio’s underboss from Brooklyn, is in town and he would know where he is hiding. At the same time, Bloom pays a visit to George, trying to learn where Concezio is and informing George that he is the low man on the totem pole in Boston and he should be careful. Connor, Murphy, and Romeo learn where George is and head over there, threatening to shoot him if he doesn’t tell him who killed the priest. George tells him that Concezio hired an independent contractor and didn’t tell anybody his plan as they would never have gone with it. Believing his story, the team decides to use George to help them take out the rest of his men by having him schedule a meeting at a Mexican restaurant, where Romeo will be undercover as a bartender. Meanwhile, Bloom, Greenly, Dolly, and Duffy are at a dead end with the prints at the priest’s murder but when Bloom realizes there was a rosary bead but no rosary at the scene, she figures out a new idea to search and has them rush off to see if it pans out. Later that night, Greenly calls Bloom and tells her they got a hit off of George’s bugged phone and after he tells her where the meeting is, she decides to head there alone to scope it out. As George’s men show up, they don’t notice the assassin sitting in his car, who calls his unknown boss and tells him that only Connor and Murphy are there and his boss tells him that if he kills the sons, Il Duce will show up. Connor, Murphy, and Romeo kill all of George’s men, then decide to let George go but as they start to celebrate a well executed plan, the assassin come in the back door and tries to shoot them, only to be wounded by Bloom. As the brothers tell Bloom to drop her weapon, Romeo goes after the assassin but he has already escaped. Bloom tells them that she made a promise to Smecker to help them in their mission and never see the inside of a prison cell, a secret she is keeping from the detectives for her own amusement. She then has Connor, Murphy, and Romeo help her restage the crime scene so that when it is called in, she can explain it as the men fighting over turf as Concezio is losing power. Later, Greenly tells her that her hunch was right and Interpol gave them the identity of the assassin but the circumstances of his visa and everything has now caused him to be flagged. Bloom takes the detectives the Doc’s bar, where Connor and Murphy play a joke on their old friends before they all discuss the situation. Greenly, Dolly, and Duffy tell them they want to help and Connor says that they plan on making their move in 48 hours but Bloom is worried that there is someone else pulling the strings, someone with enough power to push the assassins visa through right after 9/11 had occurred. Back in his penthouse, Concezio has his lieutenants call their men and start regaining their power on the streets. Meanwhile, the assassin is getting his wounds tended too by his boss but when he sees the police report with the assassin listed as the prime suspect in the priest’s murder, he proceeds to whip him with the stolen rosary. Connor, Murphy, and Romeo head to Concezio’s penthouse and, after a few snags in their plan, proceed to kill him and all of his men except for Concezio’s Consigliere, who had ducked into the panic room and locked Concezio out. As Bloom and the detectives examine the scene later, FBI Special Agent Kuntsler shows up and tells Bloom she is suspended and he will be taking over the investigation. As she goes to leave, Bloom tells Kuntsler her theory as to how everything went down and when she finishes next to the panic room, the Consigliere opens the door and drags her inside before closing it again. Inside, he tells Bloom that the events happened exactly how she described which is why he figured she would be the person to talk to. He explains that Concezio was working with a man known only as “The Old Man”, though he had heard that he was sometimes referred to as “The Roman”. At Doc’s bar, Connor and Murphy are making plans to go after the Panza, the assassin, when Greenly shows up to tell them about Bloom being off of the case when he is killed by Panza. Panza then holds Doc hostage and forces them to throw their guns away but before he can shoot them, Noah, who was worried about his sons and decided to come help them, shoots Panza in the arm. As Connor and Murphy try to keep Greenly alive, Noah asks Panza where The Old Man is and when Panza refuses to answer, Noah plays a game of Russian roulette with him and ends up killing him. Noah tells his sons about how he had witnessed his father being killed by mobsters and he hunted them down and killed them, with his friend Louie helping him, albeit reluctantly, but after a while, he would eventually turn Noah over to the police,then assume the identity of The Roman. Bloom uses the FBI’s database to find out Louie’s location and gives it to Noah and the others but, knowing that it won’t be long before Kuntsler finds out what she did, she decides to get out of the country while she can. Noah heads to Louie’s home and confronts him about why he turned him in, unaware that Louie had hired some hit-men to be on the grounds and kill Noah at his signal. When Noah asks Louie why he turned him in, Louie explains that he had been helping the mafia and used Noah to take out some of his competition but when he was no longer useful, he turned him in. Unfortunately, he was also discarded by the mafia as his usefulness had come to an end. When the Saints killed Papa Joe, Louie helped Concezio rebuild the Yakavetta family, then had the priest killed and the Saints framed for it so they would show up and kill Concezio, allowing him to take control. Louie signals the hit-men to attack but Connor, Murphy, and Romeo help Noah kill them. Connor, Murphy, and Romeo are wounded and Noah is fatally shot but with Connor and Murphy helping him up, he is able to kill Louie before he dies. Noah then dies and as Connor and Murphy go to leave, they find themselves surrounded by the FBI and end up surrendering. Some time later, Father Sibeal is escorting a disguised Bloom to a dock, telling her she will be escorted to a sanctuary in a monastery but when she tries to get details, she is shocked to discover that the person taking her to the monastery is Smecker. Smecker explains he faked his death and is working with members or the Catholic Church to provide a network to help and support the Saints and their next mission is to help break them out of prison. Meanwhile, Connor, Murphy, and Romeo are at the Hoag Maximum Security Prison’s medical wing, with Romeo comatose due to his injuries. As protesters outside the prison chant for the release of the Saints, Connor and Murphy get out of bed and look at the prisoners out in the yard, signaling to them not to mess with them or else they will regret it.

The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day met with poor reviews from the critics, holding a 23% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “This sequel to the cult favorite The Boondock Saints is more of the same — unoriginal, absurd, violent, over-the-top, and occasionally mean-spirited.” The movie had a limited release but in theaters but still managed to pull in $10.6 million off of an $8 million budget. In 2011, there were talks with director Troy Duffy about making a third installment, but fashioning it into a TV series. Norman Reedus and Sean Patrick Flanery both expressed interest in working on this but while things have bounced around between whether it will be a TV series or a third movie, nothing has been finalized yet, though Duffy has been working on a script.

This was a decent movie but honestly felt like a pale comparison of the original. The acting was ok, with the returning characters of Sean Patrick Flanery (Connor) and Norman Reedus (Murphy) doing good jobs in their roles, as well as Billy Connolly (Noah). I did like the returning detectives as some comedic relief, as well as Clifton Collins Jr.’s Romeo, and thought Judd Nelson was great as Concezio but thought that Peter Fonda’s brief appearance as The Roman was almost a waste while Julie Benz’s character was kind of annoying, particularly her overplayed southern accent. The story honestly felt too convoluted with all of the side plots going on. The basic premise of the Saints going to clear their names and get revenge for the priest’s death was fine, but when you add Bloom’s secretly wanting to help them, and the whole situation with Panza and The Roman, it got a little confusing at times. The action scenes were pretty decent, with the same somewhat slow motion retelling that was prominent in the original film. A decent action movie but I would suggest just watching the original movie over this one every time.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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