Hell or High Water
This was written by Taylor Sheridan who also wrote Sicario and that was another picture that doesn’t fully come together. There are a few excellent scenes like when they transport that drug lord over the border and the opening drug raid. But everything else is kinda forgettable. Hell or High Water is better and that’s encouraging for Sheridan’s career. Hopefully he’ll keep improving and I’m definitely interested in his next project.
So this isn’t a must see but there’s plenty of good stuff for a one time watch.
The Nice Guys
Real fun movie from Shane Black who wrote Lethal Weapon and directed Iron Man 3. Russell Crowe (The Next Three Days) and Ryan Gosling (Only God Forgives) work well together as a strong man weak man duo. They’re both bumbling detectives though which I wasn’t expecting. Crowe has more success primarily through brute force and not actually piecing shit together. Gosling is better at detecting but his own laziness and carelessness prevent him from getting anything done. So they need each other to form one halfway decent gumshoe. It’s good chemistry and good character writing.
The story is way more confusing than it needs to be but that’s typical Shane Black who likes to cram in too many plot points and villains. Don’t get me wrong, I love his work but he needs help to reign some of his shit in and give the material the focus it deserves. It’s really fantastic to see him still writing though and even make the leap to successful director. I’m just so proud of you man.
Overall this one’s alright. It doesn’t quite harken back to the type of action filmmaking that Black was involved in when he was younger but you can tell it was made with a veteran’s touch. A veteran that’s trying his best to incorporate some modern styles and sensibilities.
Maverick, Assassins) last feature from 2006. He’s always made solid movies and this isn’t a bad one to go out on. Bruce Willis (The Last Boy Scout) plays a washed up alcoholic cop that has to escort a witness (Mos Def (Cadillac Records)) sixteen blocks to a grand jury by a certain time. The only problem is some folks want the witness wiped out so this short jaunt turns into a gauntlet of bad guys and bullets.
The plot is a fantastic simple idea that incorporates both a ticking clock element as well as a destination objective. It’s also cool that it’s dirty cops that want this guy dead because they fully take advantage of the huge resources at their disposal to get the job done. And I’m not really spoiling anything here because this is all revealed within the first half hour. Plus it’s not about the who or the why, but how the hell is a burned out cop with a bad leg and a regular Joe Def supposed to survive this situation?
Donner and/or writer Richard Wenk (The Expendables 2, Jack Reacher: Never Go Back) may have been influenced by John Woo a bit because there’s one particular scene that’s ripped straight from his playbook. Willis and villain David Morse (The Long Kiss Goodnight) are separated by two walls after a shootout and Morse calmly bullshits with Willis about how he can’t survive the situation and etc while they each reload their guns. Most of the picture takes place in Chinatown too including this scene, so I really do wonder if the filmmakers were going for a poetic angle to the whole piece. You know, two sides of the same coin, do people change, if you know your enemy and yourself you have nothing to fear kinda shit.
It’s unfortunate the film sorta falls apart in the third act with too much damn deus ex machina. But up until then this thing is pretty riveting. I recommend checking it out if you’re looking for a concise action thriller.
A Man Apart
A straight up rated R Vin Diesel (xXx) cop action movie where he’s got a haunted past, plays by his own rules and the whole shebang. You see he busts this drug lord in Mexico so the cartel seeks revenge by taking out the wifey (Jacqueline Obradors (NYPD Blue)). But don’t worry ‘cause Diesel and partner Larenz Tate (Menace II Society, The Postman) are from the streets, not like your average narco cops, so they know how to deliver justice through unconventional means. They play Russian roulette, kidnap top tier distributors and sneak back into Mexico to take down the assholes that ruined Diesel’s life.
Really the problem I have is this one’s just too generic. You’ve seen this movie many times before and it’s not the best take on the formula by offering nothing new or all that interesting. The picture’s competently made though and totally works for what it is. In fact this is some of the best acting I’ve seen from Diesel. The part where he wakes up in the hospital and finds out his wife is dead is well done and the scene where his wife dies in his arms is extremely tragic. He’s about to call 911 but they both know she won’t make it so instead they have their last moment together uninterrupted gazing into each other’s eyes one last time. Guys, it’s really fucking sad.
Tate helps to brighten thigs up by either shining that big ol’ infectious smile of his or always being there when Diesel needs him. I mean Diesel asks him to do some seriously illegal shit where there’s a very good chance neither of them will survive. By the way it’s important to mention that the cartel isn’t after Tate, only Diesel. Yet with a family of his own, including a little kid, Tate still decides to risk it all to help his buddy out. Wow, this is a helluva good friend.
This was directed by F. Gary Gray (Friday, Straight Outta Compton) who did the upcoming Fast & Furious 8. I wonder if he got the job based on this little film he did with Vin earlier on. Anyway because of the connection get ready to see this picture reviewed to death on the internet. And yea, I jumped on it. I couldn’t help it.