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Tag Archive: Jeffrey Donovan


Is it just me or do these look like the same movie?  On the one hand you have the dark and serious second chapter in the Sicario series, Sicario 2: Soldado, following a badass mercenary in the world of international drug smuggling played by Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Guardians of the Galaxy’s own Benicio Del Toro.  On the other you have the dark comedy Gringo, starring David Oyelowo as a businessman who gets caught up in a bad drug deal with a cartel in Mexico.

Sicario had some great things going for it, including Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin, and Del Toro.  But Blunt was the lead, and the typically fantastic actress seemed stuck in a role where she was the only one making mistakes and the big bad guys were the only ones knowing what was going on.  Del Toro’s character was by far the best thing the film had going for it, the kind of character that got Kevin Spacey his Academy Award and in another year could have done the same for Del Toro.  But the 2015 film was most memorable for its long, slow, atmospheric scenes where nothing happened, making it feel like the film would never end.  But with Del Toro’s character driving the sequel and a new director (swapping Stefano Sollima for Denis Villeneuve), is there hope Sicario 2 could rise above the original?

Gringo has a different kind of cast of stars.  In addition to Oyelowo it stars Charlize Theron, Joel Edgerton, Amanda Seyfried, and Alan Ruck.  This one will be an Amazon Studios release–the studio is still looking for its breakout equivalent of a box office hit.  As with Sicario 2, again we have the theme of drug smuggling and drug deals gone bad.  both of these arrive on the heels of this year’s mildly successful and critically acclaimed drama comedy American Made with Tom Cruise, which took the whole drug smuggling concept in its own direction, poking fun at a real-life drug smuggler from the 1980s as his world crashed in on him.

So which one is for you?  Check out these trailers for Sicario 2 and Gringo:

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Jeffrey Donovan in Sicario

What a mash-up that would be, huh?  Edge of Tomorrow’s tough as nails “Angel of Verdun,” played by Emily Blunt, and Burn Notice’s master spy Michael Westen, played by Jeffrey Donovan?

It’s not a mash-up, but maybe it could fill the void left by Burn Notice temporarily.  Crime drama.  Action flick.  Mystery.  And it’s about a hitman.

Starring Blunt, Benicio del Toro, Josh Brolin, Jon Bernthal, and Donovan, Sicario is gaining some critical buzz from Cannes.

Emily Blunt Sicario

In Mexico, Sicario means hitman.  In the lawless border area stretching between the U.S. and Mexico, an idealistic FBI agent is enlisted by an elite government task force official to aid in the escalating war against drugs.  Led by an enigmatic consultant with a questionable past, the team sets out on a clandestine journey forcing Kate to question everything that she believes in order to survive.

Check out the first trailer for Sicario:

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Burn Notice finale

When USA Network announced last year that its hit spy series Burn Notice would see its last season this year, it really seemed like the right decision.  The ramifications of Jeffrey Donovan’s Michael Westen getting a burn notice, blacklisting him and leaving him with nothing: no cash, no credit, no job history, stuck in Miami doing whatever came his way for six years with his trigger happy girlfriend/ex-girlfriend/girlfriend again (Gabrielle Anwar), his old friend that used to inform on him to the FBI (Bruce Campbell), his mom (Sharon Gless) and another spy who he burnt along the way (Coby Bell)–it all seemed like there was not much left for the series to show us that hadn’t been done.

But as happens with writers and creators of many TV series who know they are working on their swan song, it’s like someone gave them some java juice, and they delivered the best of their past three seasons.

Jack Coleman in Burn Notice

Much credit goes to some superb casting this year.  Heroes’ Jack Coleman, featured throughout the year as Michael’s CIA handler Andrew Strong, was the best featured character to come along since Coby Bell signed on as Jesse Porter in Season 4.  Coleman was believable and likeable, in contrast with the misery the series put us through with Jere Burns’ black hat villain Anson Fullerton last season.  Veronica Mars and CW’s Cult lead actress Alona Tal was also a welcome and interesting addition this year as Russian spy Sonya.

Thursday night’s series finale even featured a small role for genre favorite Alan Ruck as a scientist working for this season’s villain James Kendrick, played by John Pyper-Ferguson.  If there was one storyline this season that almost turned us off it was leaving viewers to figure out what were the motivations of Kendrick, although Pyper-Ferguson managed to give us the best layered villain of the past several seasons.  Was Kendrick ultimately “doing good” or was he a villain?  Would Michael be justified in a continued support of Kendrick’s causes, or would the other villains–the CIA–win out in the end?  Who would Michael eventually side with?  With the penultimate episode and the finale last night, all of the questions posed over the past year, and even over the entire series, were laid to rest.

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Burn Notice final season

The final season of Burn Notice is now two episodes in and Season 7 is turning out to be as exciting and fresh as the early seasons that got us hooked on the series in the first place.  The series seems to benefitting from that shot of adrenaline that takes you into the home stretch, or maybe some kind of second wind.  The writers have stepped up their game compared to last season and even the actors seem to be better than ever before.  Directed by series star Jeffrey Donovan, Thursday’s episode “Forget Me Not,” was the celebrated 100th episode of the series and it will easily go down as one of the best.  With only 13 episodes bought by USA Network this year compared to a typical 18-episode season, it’s time to soak up all the Burn Notice you can.  Can series creator Matt Nix and the show writers keep up the momentum until the final episode?

When Burn Notice left us last season, Sam (Bruce Campbell), Fiona (Gabrielle Anwar), Jesse (Coby Bell) and Madeline (Sharon Gless) had spent a month locked up, and once released they learned that Michael (Donovan) made a deal yet again in return for his family and friends being freed from imprisonment.  This was the last straw for Fiona, tired of Michael’s multiple year obsession with clearing his name from the original Burn Notice, and seeming to always have an excuse for not sealing the deal with Fiona.

100th episode gunfight on Burn Notice

When we catch up with the gang in last week’s season opener “New Deal, ” Michael is now separated from his friends and the woman he loves; he has sank too deep into his undercover role to take out the new series villain.  Gabrielle Anwar’s Fiona has a new beau.  Sam and Jesse have become the sleuthing buddies that used to be reflected in the partnership of Sam and Michael.  Michael’s mom Maddie is now taking care of her grandson Charlie, left orphaned by both Michael’s brother Nate, who was killed last season, and his unfit wife.

Burn Notice Ep 1

Genre fans will love the Heroes reunion we have with Season 7.  Michael’s handler is the Horn-rimmed Glasses Guy himself, played by the awesome Jack Coleman.  Coleman is perfectly cast and in the first two episodes he dances circles around the previous characters that have filled similar roles over the past six seasons.  His character is layered and comes off as a good guy opposite Michael’s often conflicted and flat-out wrong motivations.  Coleman has Michael working a case in the Dominican Republic, to take out Randall Burke, played by Heroes’ Nathan Petrelli, Adrian Pasdar–our Season 7 villain.  And so far Pasdar makes a solid choice as baddie, especially considering his leading man, good guy looks.

Burn Notice Ep 1 heroes

In this week’s episode two, “Forget Me Not,” Maddie has screwed up, revealing to Burke’s lieutenant’s informant that Michael is actually working for the CIA.  Michael returns to Miami, unable to make contact with his mom or friends, and ends up using them all over again.  If Michael is one thing, it’s consistent.  And he makes one last effort to get Fiona back, and in this 100th episode we get to see in flashback the original meeting of Michael and Fiona, the memory of which helps Michael save Fiona’s life.  It’s a great look at these characters.

Creator Matt Nix sums up his plan for the final season: “In laying out the season a lot of it was what have we not done before?  How do we build the season to an exciting climax?”

Burn Notice Season 7 cast photo

Let’s hope Nix & Co. helps Burn Notice keep up the effort for the eleven remaining episodes.  It’s episodes like “New Deal” and “Forget Me Not” that should make networks rethink ending a series.  Check out Burn Notice Thursdays on USA Network.

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com

Review by Elizabeth C. Bunce

Burn Notice is a longtime favorite here at borg.com, and we thought last season got off to a great start.  And then… Anson Fullerton (Jere Burns), second worst villain to hit the airwaves last year (the top honor going to that weird English nobody in Chuck).  I hated the entire Anson storyline so much (Really?  He killed Michael’s father?  Seriously?) that I actually didn’t make it through the season finale, and I couldn’t think of a show whose premiere I was less looking forward to.  But, knowing readers would be expecting our review, I choked down last season’s ender and braced myself for More Anson.

And I got it.  And there will be more forthcoming, unfortunately.  But despite that, our fan favorite delivered a pretty satisfying episode, all round–enough to convince me not to delete it from my DVR season pass just yet.  “Scorched Earth” was fast-paced, nonstop action with plenty of classic Burn Notice moments and a respectable level of suspense.  Continuing last season’s plot revolving around Fiona (Gabrielle Anwar) as the chief suspect in a British consulate bombing, the show picked up where last year’s (or last night’s, depending) cliffhanger left off, as Fiona turns herself in to the FBI while a helpless Michael (Jeffrey Donovan) looks on, crying “Fiona!” a la Marlon Brando in On the Waterfront.  We barely have a chance to digest that storyline when the show skips on to Jesse (Coby Bell) and Agent Pearce (Lauren Stamile, Grey’s Anatomy) cleaning up the mess of the CIA op gone awry (thanks, yet again, to the absurdly  ubiquitous machinations of Anson!), followed swiftly by the news that Anson’s latest designs center on Michael’s mother, Maddie (Sharon Gless).

The show skips quickly through those key plotlines, which of course converge in a frenzy of lies, explosions, harrowing narrow escapes, occasional moments of brattiness by Michael, and a truly satisfying conclusion to Maddie’s solo adventure back at the Westen homestead.  We leave our heroes pretty much as we found them (Fiona is still in FBI custody, Sam (Bruce Campbell) and Michael still fast friends, Agent Pearce still a capable official asset, and Maddie still smoking), and we’re left with the hope that this season might be a little more fun than last year.

There are a couple of fun additions that longtime fans will have noted.  The famous show opener, “My name is Michael Westen, and I used to be a spy,” has been tweaked again–watch for a Fiona status update and the cheer-inducing addition of Jesse (Coby Bell) to the lineup, too.  And it was great to see Michael’s old CIA nemesis, Agent Jason Bly (Alex Carter, Trilogy of Terror II, X-Men video games, Life, Leverage, Haven) turn up as Fiona’s FBI interregator.  He was always a fun foil for Michael, and it will be interesting to see if he ends up kinda-sorta on “our” side.