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Tag Archive: action movies


The master of the assassin sub-genre is back again.  You may know him for writing and directing The Fifth Element (starring Bruce Willis and Milla Jovovich), and Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (starring Cara Delevingne and Dane DeHaan), but you may also know Luc Besson as the writer and director of the 1990 film Le Femme Nikita with Anne Parillaud (and its English remake, Point of No Return with Bridget Fonda), and the 1994 movie The Professional (Natalie Portman, Jean Reno).  He’s also written the screenplays for The Transporter starring Jason Statham (2002), Taken starring Liam Neeson (2008), and Colombiana starring Zoe Saldana (2011).  Then he tied together his science fiction sense with his trademark badass woman leading role in 2014 with Lucy, starring Scarlet Johansson.  That’s several assassins, spies, and action sequences in Luc Besson’s personal dossier.

Besson is writing and directing his next film, too.  It’s called Anna, and he’s tapped the actress behind the unforgettable alien woman from Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, Sasha Luss (who played the ill-fated Princess Lïhio-Minaa) as the title character.  From its first trailer (check it out below), Anna seems to be part Red Sparrow and part Atomic BlondeOr another La Femme NikitaBut it’s going to be very difficult for fans of spy movies to differentiate this latest entry from Atomic Blonde, especially if the film is really structured as revealed in the trailer.  It looks like it could be a remake, but it isn’t.

Some credibility and gravitas come from the presence of Academy Award-winning actress Helen Mirren, whose own badass spy and assassin role in RED and RED 2 should come to mind.  Other actors in the film include Luke Evans (The Fast & Furious series, The Hobbit series) and Cillian Murphy (28 Days Later, Tron: Legacy, The Dark Knight Rises).

Here’s the first trailer for Luc Besson’s Anna:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

How can a movie get better on repeated viewings?  What makes that possible?  After three viewings of the home release of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story–the Digital HD edition, the Blu-ray, and the 3D Blu-ray–it’s apparent the film on repeated viewings is indeed as good as the initial theatrical viewing if not better, a rare feat in any genre.  Naysayers who didn’t like the CGI effects of Grand Moff Tarkin and Princess Leia–the primary criticism of the December theatrical release–should find even a home theater big screen television will mask any distractions seen on a 30-foot theater screen.  The Blu-ray and 3D Blu-ray provide the best, clearest picture and sound of any prior Star Wars release.  The 3D transfer is as good as any 3D Blu-ray release to-date, and the special effects, clothing details like stitches and seams are clear and vivid, as is the weathering (or lack thereof, when logical) on props.  As with most 3D movies, outdoor scenes, like the Scarif ground battle, are even more vivid with sharp foregrounds and backgrounds.  Check out the complete review of the film from December here.

The special features disc includes a version of the bonus features viewable together as an entire documentary and also viewable by chapter.  The extra disc available through Target stores only includes two short extra chapters, and although the creature shop feature is excellent the two extras wouldn’t normally be enough to tilt a buyer toward the Target edition–costs being the same–and some may instead opt for packaging, like Steelbook boxes (Best Buy only) or Connexions cards (available only in the Wal-Mart edition).  Fun bits in the features to look for include Bodhi actor Riz Ahmed’s audition tapes for Edwards, a feature documenting many Easter eggs from the show even the best eye likely never identified, and interviews with motion capture actors Guy Henry (Grand Moff Tarkin) and Ingvild Daila (Princess Leia), both who look little like Peter Cushing or Carrie Fisher, proving that simply using lookalikes or prosthetics would not have been a realistic option for re-creating these characters.  The standard bonus features included with the bundles are K-2SO: The Droid, Baze & Chirrut: Guardians of the Whills, Bodhi & Saw: The Pilot & the Revolutionary, The Empire, Visions of Hope: The Look of Rogue One, The Princess & the Governor, Epilogue: The Story Continues, and Rogue Connections (the Easter eggs list).

Rogue One easily merits ranking as the third best film in the series after Star Wars: A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back–but truly in a league with those two films.  One of the best war movie stories put to film, the best prequel or prequel that is also a sequel (yes, even considering the great Godfather II), the best space battle, the best use of spaceship filming (director Gareth Edwards avoids 2001: A Space Odyssey and Star Trek: The Motion Picture-era overly-long ship takes and instead uses his imagery only as necessary to drive the story forward), while featuring one of the all-time best heist movies.

It really has it all.

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marauders willis 2016 poster

One thing Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger have always had in common is that (except when Arnold was out being the Governator), both men were working actors.  They never seem to pick and choose the “right” movie for their careers, but instead seem from an audience standpoint to take every new role coming down the pike, resulting in inconsistency in audiences’ ability to count on getting a good movie for their dollar every time.  Lately you could add a more recent action star to this–Jason Statham.  In contrast, action stars like Tom Cruise and Sylvester Stallone seem more consistent, Cruise banking top performing movies with interesting and varying parts, and Stallone tending to pick to stuck in a rut with more than his share of duds.

For every Die Hard, Pulp Fiction, Twelve Monkeys, The Fifth Element, The Sixth Sense, RED, and Looper, there’s a The Last Boy Scout, The Color of Night, Death Becomes Her, and A Good Day to Die Hard.  For every Terminator, Predator, Total Recall, True Lies, and Twins, there’s a Last Action Hero, Junior, Jingle All the Way, and Batman & Robin.

Not that every “B” movie these guys churn out isn’t worth your time.  Just take a look at Striking Distance, The Jackal, The Kid, or Mercury Rising, or Eraser, The Last Stand, and Maggie.

Bruce Willis Marauders

Bruce Willis’s next release is Marauders, a heist movie with an interesting-garbed masked robber, co-starring TV’s Christopher Meloni and SPECTRE and Guardians of the Galaxy’s Dave Bautista (here Bautista isn’t hidden by make-up and gets to deliver more than one line!).  Where will this fall in Willis’s catalog of films?

Check out this trailer for the Bruce Willis heist movie, Marauders:

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Equalizer

Review by C.J. Bunce

The Pelican Brief, Philadelphia, Crimson Tide, Fallen, The Manchurian Candidate, The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3, Unstoppable, 2 Guns—movies big and small, and all feature the Academy Award-winning actor Denzel Washington.  In each, like with Cruise, Schwarzenegger, Stallone, Willis, and most recently, Wahlberg, the lead character is really Denzel as Denzel, but each new time round the actor is lurking around in a different environment.  In each, he has a new name and a new job, but it’s Denzel—striving to fight his way to the end, to wrestle with anger or grief, or pain, or to just get by.

In the 2014 theatrical release The Equalizer, as retired ex-CIA operative Robert McCall, Denzel gets to be the guy usually played by Cruise, Schwarzenegger, Stallone, or Willis, or even Chuck Norris or Charles Bronson.  He gets to be the Dark Knight, or name any other superhero.  He’s not only the good guy, but the good guy with the means.

Have you ever considered taking responsibility for everyone around you–everyone you regularly encounter each day?  Maybe for you that’s the shop owner, the barista at your coffee shop, the guy who cleans your office, your family, friends, co-workers?  Have you ever considered what it would take for you to stop what you’re doing and assume responsibility for everyone around you?  Everyone’s problems, every failing, every pain—it’s all on you.  If you see it, you own it.  Like the character and TV series the movie is based on, Robert McCall takes charge with that message repeated on each episode of the TV series, and parroted in the film:  If someone has a problem, if the odds are stacked against them, if they have nowhere else to turn, McCall will help. He is the Equalizer.

Home Mart Denzel Equalizer hammer

Denzel’s acting work in The Equalizer is great, as you’d expect.  It’s among his best.  And the character itself is great.  Those two elements are enough to get anyone to watch The Equalizer and enjoy the ride.  Even the several payoffs in the film are worth cheering for.  But the film still has its problems.  Unfortunately, as exciting and intense as it is, the movie itself doesn’t live up to its potential.

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Point Break 2015

The original 1991 theatrical release Point Break starred Keanu Reeves as an undercover cop with the lame name of Johnny Utah playing against free-wheeling surfer turned thief named Bodhi played by the late Patrick Swayze.  Directed by Katherine Bigelow (Hurt Locker) Point Break became on of those films like Road House–overplayed on Cinemax and HBO over the years so you couldn’t help seeing it at some point but usually not from beginning to end.  The film set up Reeves as B-movie action star, readying him for his big hit action film break three years later with Speed. 

As hard as it is to watch Reeves’ trademark stilted recitation of dialogue (which still defines the actor), Point Break was at least an easy watch, with an interesting group of thieves cleverly sporting the masks of past presidents.  But the film also cemented Patrick Swayze as the real deal as cool goes.

Original Point Break Swayze Neo

But Point Break wasn’t much more than a passing summer flick.  So why a remake?

The first trailer for the new Point Break is out, and the answer seems clear.  Someone wanted to make a James Bond movie.  The locations for the new flick look pretty spectacular.  The story spins similarly around an undercover cop named Johnny Utah, this time played by Luke Bracey whose only notable credit is playing the guy in the Cobra Commander suit in G.I. Joe: Retaliation.  Edgar Ramirez plays Bodhi this time around.  The problem?  These guys are pretty obscure to head up a big action film.  Why are we going to lay down ten bucks to see this in the theater?

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Van Damme splits trucks

If you’re a fan of early Jean-Claude Van Damme action movies then you will love this new ad from Volvo Trucks.  It’s probably the best idea anyone has had to thrust back into the spotlight an actor/martial artist who once was on the heels of becoming the next Stallone or Schwarzenegger.  Expendables 2 wasn’t enough to do it, but showing off on TVs across America the physical skill and the result of a lifetime of martial arts prowess that Van Damme used in early work like Bloodsport could be enough to get him back into big movie roles.  Van Damme just needs to find his version of Mickey Rourke’s big comeback film The Wrestler.

If you haven’t watched Van Damme movies, you’re missing out.  First, add Bloodsport and Timecop into your Netflix queue.  Some may say it is blasphemous to compare Van Damme to Bruce Lee, but if you liked Enter the Dragon you will at a minimum appreciate Van Damme’s style, passion and effort in Bloodsport.  Like Schwarzenegger, Van Damme had the European immigrant with an accent action star shtick going for him.  He had proven fighting skill outside of movies, too.  And he had a real appeal–usually playing the underdog or defending the underdog, he usually had the good guy role in his best work.

Van Damme splits in Timecop

More splits. Could you save yourself if your kitchen floor was suddenly charged with electricity? Van Damme could, and did, in Timecop.

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