About This Blog

A place to find my reviews not featured on epinions.com or horror-asylum.com, as well as opinions and lists on everything from movies to TV to music. It's all about me! Send hate mail to vegie18th@hotmail.com or just leave a comment beneath the posts. Review grading system assumes C+ is somewhere in the vicinity of a Passing grade or minor fail.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Review: Lucas


Corey Haim stars as the title 14 year-old, who comes across a pretty new girl during the summer holidays. She’s Maggie (Kerri Green) and they spend pretty much the rest of the summer together. By the time school is in session, Lucas has clearly fallen in love with the pretty redhead. However, as high school progresses, Maggie (two years older than Lucas, by the way) becomes drawn to football star Cappie (Charlie Sheen), who is the one jock who stands up for Lucas, the pint-sized nature-lover often cruelly treated by the other jocks. Cappie seems to take a liking to Maggie too, not exactly thrilling Cappie’s blonde cheerleader girlfriend Alise (Courtney Thorne-Smith). Maggie, by the way, also becomes a cheerleader, which Lucas deems a superficial pursuit. Lucas (who has a ‘I saw her first!’ mentality) is heartbroken that Maggie merely sees him as a ‘friend’. So what is a pint-sized science nerd to do when his best girl falls for the quarterback? Try to join the football team to impress her, of course! Meanwhile, Lucas can’t see that he is treating his smitten, pixie-like friend Rina the same as Maggie is treating him. Jeremy Piven and Thomas Hodges play a couple of back-slapping jocks, the latter particularly cruel.

 

This review will be a bit different than most others of this film, let alone most of my own reviews. As this is a film about high school (and about a ‘first high school crush’), an experience I have very strong views about based on my own experiences, I’ll be looking at this film from the perspective of the high school experience as I experienced it, and as this film explores it.

 

Although its sporting moments don’t mean as much to a non-American such as myself, this 1986 directorial debut from writer/director David Seltzer (who wrote “The Omen” and directed “Shining Through”) is the one fictional film more than any other that seems truest of the high school experience as I knew it from my own personal experiences (I graduated in 1997. God I’m old, aren’t I?). It’s also just a really entertaining, touching film with some spot-on casting and even the big ‘slow clap cliché’ finale is hard to hate. However, it’s much more than mere ‘entertainment’ to me, which is why I find it strange that the film is somewhat forgotten today. Aside from maybe some viewers having a hard time ignoring unsavoury rumours (about what may or may not have happened to star Corey Haim behind-the-scenes of this film), I really don’t understand why this isn’t considered a classic of the high school movie genre. This film, more than any other before or since on the subject (yes, I have seen “Say Anything…”, and it was OK I guess), really ‘gets it’. It says a lot of what the high school experience is about, without turning any of its three main characters into villains. This one plays fair, possibly fairer than I’d be capable of if I tried to write my own version of such experiences.

 

Basically it comes down to this: High school sucks, and the girl you like will inevitably fall for a more popular guy and want to run with a cooler crowd, and it doesn’t matter if you met her first. She’s a cheerleader, she loves who she loves and that’s just how it works. You can’t get mad at anyone, because high school kinda sucks for everyone, we’re all just trying to find our way through it, working out who we are and what we want, whilst also dealing with the scholastic pressures on top of that. It took me a long time after high school ended to come to all of this realisation mind you, but I believe it to be true and this film is pretty accurate to that truth. At the time it seems like the end of the world, but believe me, it’s not. Life goes on. So you may not get the girl you want in the way you want her, but if you don’t act like a complete dick like I did back then, you might just have yourself a damn good friend for life.

 

This film actually helped me see things from different points of view, when I finally caught up with it for the first time about a decade or so ago. The thing I was most struck by was the characterisation of the cheerleader, played by Kerri Green. I didn’t think much of Green as an actress in the otherwise classic kids adventure film “The Goonies”, but she’s actually very impressive here. Physically she’s very ‘high school pretty’, maybe no supermodel but the kind of girl you’d consider absolutely beautiful if she was in your class. We all remember that girl, right? Yeah, that girl’s married with kids now. Admit it, you’ve already stalked her on Facebook, haven’t I? I mean haven’t you. Oops. Remind me to delete that later. Green’s performance here is very sweet and sensitive, as she’s playing a girl who at the end of the day is just like everyone else. She’s just trying to find a way to fit in and get through high school. She’s also the new girl at school, which has its own added pressures, which Green effectively conveys. The problem of course, is that Lucas doesn’t understand what Green is going through. None of the cliques in high school understand each other, that’s as true in 1986 as it was in the 90s when I was in high school, and presumably still true today. Through Green’s performance you can definitely see a girl who isn’t any closer to figuring it all out than anyone else. It’s a wonderfully sensitive portrayal that I’m sure many girls would identify with.

 

The late Corey Haim gives one of his very best performances as the title character. The great thing about Lucas, and the thing that tends to save his bacon more often than not, is that through personality and fearlessness, he stops most people from laughing at him and start laughing with him to a degree, and it’s no longer as much fun for the bullies. Unfortunately, he proves his own worst enemy at times too, especially when he decides he wants to prove himself on the football field to impress the girl he loves. It doesn’t go well. At all. One of the best things about the film is Seltzer’s writing of the Lucas character. It’s completely honest about him, never sugar-coating him. He’s not perfect, he’s sometimes his own worst enemy as I’ve said, and the film doesn’t always make it easy to love the kid. He doesn’t understand Green’s position and he also completely ignores the girl who clearly has a crush on him (a young and memorable Winona Ryder, in her film debut). Frankly, Lucas is kind of a dick at times. However, if we’re honest with ourselves, we all kinda acted like dicks on occasion back then, didn’t we? Charlie Sheen gives a good turn (the same year he made “Platoon”) as the jock who sees what his fellow meatheads are doing and doesn’t agree with them taking away Lucas’ dignity in their mistreatment of him, ‘having fun’ or not. He’s the boy’s defender whenever he’s able to be, and is it really his fault that he loves the same girl Lucas loves and that she loves him back? From my experience, there’s too few characters like ‘Cappie’ one will encounter in the high school experience, but it does occasionally happen. Most, though, will either act like sycophants to the main bully or will simply never stand up to what they probably sense is wrong. However, if one is honest about the experience, one realises that Seltzer has got it right. Everyone’s a bit of a self-involved dick in some way back in high school, but rarely is anyone truly, truly and irredeemably horrible. It’s an even-handed film about three people who all genuinely mean well and can’t help feeling what they feel. Hell, even some of the supporting characters aren’t completely black-hearted. Pay close attention to Courtney Thorne-Smith’s jilted girlfriend for instance. Not only does she perfect a ‘Bitch, I’ll cut you!’ stare, but this empty-headed bimbo is actually not all that horrible. Her man is falling in love with another girl, so what the hell is she supposed to do, wish them well? Her only crime is vacuousness and jealousy, the former is a prerequisite for most teens and the latter is justified. Thorne-Smith should be commended for not overplaying the bitch factor here.

 

Truth be told, as much as gridiron isn’t terribly true to any high school experience non-Americans will have had, the sentiment behind the film’s climax is still relatable. We know why Lucas is doing what he’s doing, and it’s heart-breaking. Perhaps the most heart-breaking moment in the whole film is when we see Lucas flinch at Green uttering the ‘f’ word. The 6 letter ‘f’ word (or 7, if the word is pluralised), that is. Anyone who wasn’t popular in high school knows exactly what that non-profane ‘f’ word is, and knows the pain that goes along with it all-too well. It’s a nice word in its own way, but you don’t think so when you’re a love-struck teen on the receiving end of it. Meanwhile, even if you roll your eyes at the ‘slow clap’ final scene, you can’t deny that the scene preceding it is quite simply the sweetest, saddest scene in any teen movie ever made. It’s here that you see that Green really is a true friend and a good person who genuinely cares about Lucas, and it isn’t mere empty sentiment. He might not realise it until years after the fact, mind you, but we the audience can definitely see she has a good heart.

 

I also have to mention a small but interesting theme addressed in the film: Teen suicide. Obviously, this is an issue that seems to be more prevalent since the 90s than in the 80s, and it’s quite surprising to hear it being mentioned in a film from the era of “Porky’s” and “Risky Business”. It’s just an off-hand remark or two, but it’s there in the background and worth noting. It’s a pressure-filled time in a person’s life, and not everyone makes it out in one piece, I’m afraid. Similarly, Lucas’ home life isn’t a happy one, and it just makes me wonder about the people I went to school with, whether they were friends or on the opposite end of the spectrum. What was their home life like? You really don’t think about what others are going through at that selfish point in your life. So, background or not, I’m glad this stuff is in the film.

 

No film will 100% capture ‘the’ high school experience, because everyone’s experience is different. However, this film more than any other I’ve seen, if not capturing ‘the’ high school experience more accurately and comprehensively than any other, certainly comes closest to my own feelings and experiences of that time in my life (I didn’t join the football team, I’m physically disabled, and was more often ignored than actually bullied. Other than that, it’s scarily and painfully accurate). It’s also just a lovely, heart-warming- yet heartbreaking film. It deserves a much better reputation than it has. It’s much more than an 80s teen flick, it’s pretty much the 80s teen flick. At the very least, see it to enjoy the hilarity of debutant Jeremy Piven playing a back-slapping, dipshit jock! 

 

Rating: A

Friday, July 31, 2015

Review: Dom Hemingway


Jude Law stars as the angry, reckless, and profane safecracker recently paroled from prison after 12 years behind bars. He and his long-time pal Dickie (Richard E. Grant) go to see Law’s old crime boss Fontaine (Demien Bichir, whose character has a fetish for what can only be described as monkey art), looking for the money he feels owed by the man he refused to rat out in the inside. Once there he also meets Bichir’s current squeeze Madalina Diana Ghenea, whom Grant immediately warns Dom not to shag or else it’ll be their heads. However, shagging his boss’ girlfriend is the least of his worries, when something goes wrong, and both Dom’s money and the girlfriend go missing. Dom is not fucking happy. Meanwhile, Dom is also trying to reconnect with the daughter (Emilia Clarke) he hasn’t been a real father to in over a decade. She’s not particularly happy to see the ne’er do well crim (Her mother died of cancer whilst Dom was incarcerated), and has a child of her own now. Kerry Condon turns up from time to time as a nice girl Dom meets at Bichir’s mansion. Jumayn Hunter has a small role as a disgruntled young underworld figure, who has a serious beef with Dom from before his prison stint.

 

It hasn’t gotten much love from anyone really, but this 2013 gangster pic with a sense of humour from writer-director Richard Shepard (an American who previously made “The Matador”, with Pierce Brosnan) actually isn’t bad at all. Jude Law’s lead performance is a bit overripe and probably not terribly convincing (his audacious opening monologue on the stupendousness of his ‘manhood’ is a little much to bear), but he certainly gives it everything he’s got in a highly profane, supremely angry, and very entertaining turn as a man with more bravado than brains. I would’ve preferred Ray Winstone in the part (Years ago it would’ve been a vehicle for Malcolm McDowell), but Law is certainly enjoyable, if just shy of being scary. This guy is so out of his mind and off-the-wall that during a profane rant, he ends up quoting James Taylor’s ‘Fire and Rain’. I have no idea why he does this, but it’s very funny. Dom is quite clearly his own worst enemy, as he proves time and time again here.

 

Even better than Law are a droll Richard E. Grant in a sort of deadpan Terence Stamp showing (and getting all the best lines), and Demien Bichir as the kind of powerful crim who doesn’t need to rant and rave or overtly threaten. He’s immediately intimidating, so it’s a shame he’s not around for all that much of the film. Emilia Clarke is interestingly used as Dom’s extremely estranged daughter, showing that for all his seething rage, lack of social graces, and obvious criminal misdeeds, he’s also a human being. A shit one, mind you, but a human being nonetheless. There’s also an amusing small turn by Jumayn Hunter as the son of Dom’s chief nemesis. This young thug does not like Dom. In the slightest. Apparently Dom killed his cat a while back and he’s still pissed.

 

I really don’t know what everyone’s problem is with this film. It’s not as pretentious as I’d heard (I don’t normally like films that mention the title in dialogue frequently, but I’ll excuse it here because it’s the bloke’s name), and certainly nowhere near as confusing, either. There’s a good pop/rock soundtrack, too. So why does it not get a higher rating from me? Well, in addition to not liking Kerry Condon’s brief supporting performance, I also think the film ends far too abruptly. You feel like there should’ve been more of the crime aspect of the film to deal with. It really does bring the film down just slightly. Such a shame, because otherwise it’s an entertaining film, if a tad too reliant on my least favourite swear word (one of the c-words). It’s not the most original plot in the world, but Law’s interesting and lively lead performance, plus a few top-notch supporting turns help make this watchable, if ultimately a tad underdone.

 

Rating: C+

Review: Ender’s Game


In the future, Earth is at war with aliens known as Formics, and in order to win the war, a radical strategy has been adopted of training youngsters to be the military strategists to turn the tide in our favour and defeat the enemy. They seem to have the instincts, sharp reflexes, and aptitude for strategy necessary for a successful military campaign. One such bright young hopeful is Ender (Asa Butterfield), who unlike his compassionate older sister (Abigail Breslin) and frankly psycho older brother, has what Col. Graff (Harrison Ford) sees as a real aptitude for military strategy. The kid might just have the right stuff that not only helps defeat the alien enemy, but make so there are no further attacks. So off to Battle School he goes, joining other youngsters in cyber warfare training. Hailee Steinfeld plays Petra, just about the only other recruit whom Ender bonds with. Nonso Anozie essentially plays the drill sergeant of the recruits, Viola Davis is the relatively compassionate Major Anderson (who worries about the mental and emotional strain training has on the youngsters), and Sir Ben Kingsley plays stoic Maori warrior Mazer Rackham, whose brave efforts have at least kept humanity in the fight thus far.

 

Although I hear fans of the Orson Scott Card novel were unimpressed with this 2013 adaptation, and the film flopped at the box-office (possibly because of the bizarre and often very conflicting political and religious views held by Card), I’ve gotta say I rather enjoyed this classic piece of sci-fi entertainment. Written and directed by Gavin Hood (“Tsotsi”, “Rendition”, the disappointing “X-Men Origins: Wolverine”), it sure as shit ain’t no “Battlefield Earth”, though it’s still pretty far off “Star Wars” (and probably not as good as “Pacific Rim”, either).

 

There’s something really interesting and creepy here about recruiting youngsters and training them for intergalactic combat. Ender gets recruited not for fighting back against a bully, but for his tactical approach to it. He’s willing to fight, but he’s also able to strategise to make sure he gives himself the best chance to win the fight. But make no mistake, whatever thought-provoking themes are going on here (and no matter how stupefyingly strange Card’s anti-war message is here in light of his later stance on Dubya and the Iraq war), this really is boys’ own adventure stuff, classic sci-fi adventure material that will definitely appeal to the young and young at heart. At least, that’s how I felt about it.

 

Perhaps best of all, the young characters in this film not only seemed mostly tweens, but are played by actors who look young enough to pass for tweens. No Kristen Stewarts or Robert Pattinsons here, and thankfully barely a hint of tween-age romance in the whole thing. This may have reminded me of some of the stuff I was into when I was young, but I don’t believe Card’s work was intended as YA fiction or anything, at least not in the sense of “Twilight” and other such nonsense.

 

Asa Butterfield continues to impress as an actor, he’s very well-cast here. He also seems to be morphing into a mixture of Elijah Wood and Frankie Muniz. Can anyone else see the resemblance? At any rate, I think Butterfield is really one to watch over the next decade. Harrison Ford isn’t doing anything new here, but as the gruff and grumpy mentor, he’s well-cast and not as one-dimensionally grouchy as he has been elsewhere of late. Nonso Anozie also proves an amusing and interesting choice for what is essentially a more family friendly version of R. Lee Ermey or a modern Harry Andrews-type role. I do have to take issue with the casting of Moises Arias as Butterfield’s chief antagonist. His performance is genuinely good, that’s not the problem. The problem is he looks about half Butterfield’s size, and Asa ain’t Andre the Giant to begin with. It’s just a weird and unconvincing visual. I find Viola Davis a tad overrated as an actress, but she’s clearly much more invested in this material than she was “Beautiful Creatures”, and has a slightly more interesting role. Sir Ben Kingsley probably should not have been cast here as a Maori war hero who instructs the young hero. His accent isn’t perfect- there’s some Seth Effriken and cockney in there- but he most certainly doesn’t disgrace himself in the part. My issue is that this would be the role Temuera Morrison was born for, and failing him you could cast Cliff Curtis, Karl Urban, Sam Neill, hell even Russell Freakin’ Crowe could’ve had a crack at it. He was at least born in New Zealand (We claim him as an Aussie, however). Kingsley simply isn’t the best person for the job, and it’s obvious. Still, if you want to see Kingsley really disgrace himself, you won’t find that here. Watch “A Sound of Thunder” instead (Or better yet, just take my word for it that he’s awful in it and skip the film. Everyone else ignored it). Oscar-nominee Hailee Steinfeld is merely OK, she’s seemingly going through that awkward phase of becoming a young woman, or at least was during shooting. There’s not much room for her to move in her role and she’s not especially memorable. Abigail Breslin is similarly underused, but certainly more accomplished in her performance than Steinfeld, which is understandable given her experience and given her character is a tad more interesting. I did find it interesting that the important familial relationship in the film is between brother and sister, not brother/brother or children/parents. That’s not something you often see in films, and I appreciated that.

 

The game sequences aren’t really my bag, but this sure as shit ain’t “Rollerball”, “Tron”, or Quidditch, either. They’re kinda interesting. I do have to say, though, that the film is a bit like “Top Gun” in focussing on training for far too long rather than giving us the real deal. However, at least in this case, there’s a reason for that, eventually revealed. Still, it does leave one feeling just a tad impatient. The ending will be too gooey for some, but I thought it was fine. The film has been really well-shot by Aussie pro Don McAlpine (“Don’s Party”, “Breaker Morant”, “Predator”), it’s not remotely shaky and thankfully very classically shot. It’s a gorgeous, crisp-looking film. The music score by Steve Jablonsky (“Friday the 13th, “Your Highness”) is also pretty good, at times reminding me of “Game of Thrones”. I seem to say that a lot, though.

 

Honestly, aside from the controversial opinions of the author of the source material, the only reason for this film’s box-office mediocrity is perhaps the fact that the source material was written in 1985, and is also not really considered YA fiction (crap like “Twilight”, “The Hunger Games”, etc.) Perhaps the lack of rabid tweener females already built-in as an audience really does make a difference. On its own merits, it’s a solid, pretty well old-school sci-fi adventure film. Yes there are some weighty themes going on here, but they are handled in a less clumsy or absurd fashion than the modern crop of YA fiction adaptations. Give this one a go, it may be clichéd, but it’s pretty entertaining stuff.

 

Rating: B-

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Review: Wolf Creek 2


Everyone’s favourite psychotic “Crocodile Dundee” Mick Taylor (John Jarratt) is back for more heads on sticks, as he targets young European tourists and even a couple of nosy cops (one played by troubled former “Neighbours” star Shane Connor). Our lead protagonist is likeable ‘pom’ Paul (played very convincingly by an Aussie, Ryan Corr), whom Mick decides to toy with by giving him his own sick version of the citizenship test. Old pro Gerard Kennedy and veteran actress Annie Byron turn up as an elderly couple.

 

Although it was very similar to “Texas Chainsaw Massacre”, the arrival of 2005’s “Wolf Creek” and its director Greg McLean was met with pretty much wholehearted support from me, if for no other reason than the possibility of more Aussie genre films should this one have been a big success. It was a perfectly  OK film (probably a bit more than OK), but I hoped it would see even better ones in its wake. That indeed happened, especially with the underrated and unnerving croc movie “Black Water” (whilst McLean’s own “Rogue” was a solid ‘creature feature’ itself), but not to the degree I had hoped. The big resurgence of the Aussie genre film hasn’t quite happened in the years since, I’m afraid, but I’ll never give up hope. This sequel from director/co-writer McLean has been on the cards for years (at least since 2010), but with various issues getting in the way (including Geoffrey Edelstein withdrawing financial support for reasons best going to Wikipedia for) it has thusly only emerged in 2014, after a stint at a couple of international film festivals in 2013 (including Venice).

 

The result? Yes, it’s a step down from the first film in terms of artistic quality, but it’s mostly got a different tone anyway. I wouldn’t quite say it goes into “Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2” territory, but it’s definitely a more over-the-top, schlockier film. If you can understand and appreciate that, it’s actually good fun and McLean once again shows himself to be a master at knowing how to shoot, frame, and light a film. This is a truly beautiful-looking film, even if that wonderful bushland scenery does some of the work. It’s in pitching the tone of the film that McLean proves slightly wonky here. Lines like ‘That’ll do pig!’ are funny and all, but the terror and sleaze from John Jarratt’s Mick Taylor have mostly gone now. Mind you, we’re probably talking a difference between Freddy Krueger in “A Nightmare on Elm Street” and “Elm St. 3: Dream Warriors” (the best “Elm St.” film in my view) here, so it could’ve been a whole lot worse (Ever seen “Elm St. 4, 5, and 6”? Or “Elm St. 2” for that matter?).

 

Jarratt’s not bad here (his best moment is when he claims to hate the national anthem. Me too, Mick. Bloody oath!), he’s doing as instructed, or over-doing as instructed perhaps. He and the film are much schlockier than the original, the film is certainly gorier. In fact, despite the schlocky tone, the violence is quite harsh and uncompromising at times. But I do think Jarratt hams it up a bit too much for my liking, and as the film enters the final stretch it edges a bit too close to ‘torture porn’ for my liking. It’s the least interesting portion of the film, and the ending is really lame and terribly unsatisfying (even though it’s the closest to resembling anything from the real-life cases it claims to be based on). Mick’s subterranean lair isn’t quite as fantastic as the one in “TCM2” but it did remind me of it.

 

I appreciate that McLean was going for something a little different this time out, but it’s a bit of a mess. Still, for a mess it’s an underrated and entertaining mess, and in terms of entertainment value it might even be better than the first film, which let’s face it, took forever to get going (as did the original “TCM”). This one moves at a much, much better clip, and the characters aren’t quite as high on the douchebag-meter as in the first film (Corr is actually pretty good in what is essentially the lead role) or “TCM” for that matter. Despite some pretty awful CGI, Mick running over multiple kangaroos to the tune of ‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight’ is kinda funny in a sick way. The CGI is too lame to really find the scene offensive, by the way (I’m not so sure playing ‘Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport’ was such a good idea in the current climate, but given when the film was made, I’ll give McLean the benefit of the doubt on that one). Meanwhile, there’s an absolutely brilliant shot of Mick riding on horseback in silhouette in the foreground with beaming orange sun and sky in the background like some sadistic “Man From Snowy River”. He even cracks the whip! Hilarious, but also a job well done to McLean and cinematographer Toby Oliver (“Beneath Hill 60”). It’s nowhere near as scary, though, and that may be a big problem for many of you. The only thing I found scary or at least ominous was Mick’s truck, which seemed to be photographed much more ominously than in the previous film. However, I don’t believe a horror film needs to be scary in order for it to be called a success.

 

Co-scripted by Aaron Sterns, “Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2” meets “The Hitcher” as directed by Sergio Leone is the perfect description here. I doubt it’ll revitalise the Aussie genre movie scene, but I don’t think that was the intention here. This is schlock and pretty good schlock at that, even if I personally wish it weren’t quite so over-pitched. It’s a sequel and it improves on the original in some respects, I think that alone is worth celebrating to be honest. I just wish it were scary. McLean is an excellent visual stylist and has a great attention to detail. I think he could make a truly great genre film one day. Until then, he has made three pretty good ones, even if this one is probably best appreciated by schlock genre fans.

 

Rating: B-

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Review: 3 Days to Kill


Kevin Costner is a CIA man who quits the job when he finds out he has terminal brain cancer and three months to live. He decides to visit his estranged ex-wife (Connie Nielsen) and teen daughter (Hailee Steinfeld) in Paris, in the hopes of reconnecting before it’s too late. The kid doesn’t make it easy for him, but when mum has to go out of town on business, Costner volunteers to babysit, hoping for some father-surly teen bonding. It doesn’t really go to well, but it’s not just because Steinfeld is resistant. He’s also being stalked by ambitious and vampish CIA handler Vivi (Amber Heard), who wants Costner’s help in killing terrorists named The Albino (Tomas Lemarquis) and The Wolf (Richard Sammel). If he agrees to do this, Vivi will give Costner an experimental drug that will allow him to live a bit longer. Thing is, he has already promised Nielsen that he’s out of the spy gig for good. He thinks about it for about ten seconds before the temptation of the drug (and the chance to nab the arms dealer and henchman he would’ve nailed in the opening scene had he not blacked-out due to the tumour) is just too good to pass up. If it’s on the level, mind you. Can Vivi even be trusted?

 

Plot-wise it’s too close to the direct-to-DVD Aaron Eckhart thriller “The Expatriate” for comfort, but I can’t say I didn’t enjoy this silly 2014 action-thriller from director McG (“This Means War”, “Terminator: Salvation”) and screenwriters Adi Hasak (the awful “Shadow Conspiracy”) and the inimitable Luc Besson (“La Femme Nikita”, “The Professional”, “The Fifth Element”). It’s easy to see the Besson influence here, as the scenes with Amber Heard’s very fatal femme are played so broadly that they render the film a bit schizophrenic in tone. If that character wasn’t a Besson invention, I’d be shocked. Mind you, both Hazak and Besson contributed to the screenplay of “From Paris With Love”, another extremely silly (but highly watchable) action-thriller with very wacky, absurd elements. That one was a bit more assured in its blend of comedy and action though, I have to say. But whatever this film’s flaws, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t find it enjoyable and diverting enough.

 

Although character actor Raymond J. Barry is the first face you’ll see (And I’m contractually obligated to inform you that ‘wrong kid died’), it’s creepy bald albino Tomas Lemarquis who quickly steals your attention. It’s got a good, exciting opener, and Kevin Costner seems in slightly better shape than Gary Cooper in “The Wreck of the Mary Deare”. All obscure film geek kidding aside, it’s a suitable role for him and far from his worst vehicle in what, the last 20 years or so worth of mostly stinkers? This is the kind of troubled, weary character that could easily allowed Costner to phone in a monotonous performance, so I’m glad to report that Costner turned up for filming with his working boots on. He’s the best asset the film has.

 

The film is your standard globe-trotting spy/assassin stuff in some ways (and the father-daughter stuff is very much like “The Expatriate”), but Costner’s character and performance are interesting enough to make it a little more than just that. The lovely scenery shot by Thierry Arbogast (“The Fifth Element”, “Catwoman”) helps, too. Yes, Amber Heard is included in that lovely scenery, too. Damn you to hell, Johnny Depp! While you can tell that the very lightweight but proficient and slick McG is at the helm, the action scenes are silly but enjoyable, stopping short of John Woo nonsense. No two guns and doves bursting out sort of nonsense here. Meanwhile, it’s not the best use of Connie Nielsen, but it was nice to see her on screen for what seems like the first time in forever. She’s terrific with what she has been given here, and has aged rather beautifully as well. Some won’t like Heard in this, but I see her as the biggest Besson element in the film, and she’s clearly acting as directed and written. She’s like something out of a graphic novel and I think it’s intentional. However, there’s no doubt that the film has an identity crisis that stops it from being better than it is. I mean, the father-daughter stuff is a bit sitcom-like in terms of writing (absolutely no fault of Costner’s).

 

It’s a lumpy film where the parts don’t quite gel into a whole, and yet those parts are individually interesting and enjoyable enough to make the whole experience diverting enough. Costner is ideally cast and seems to be giving a shit, too. An eternity in an imaginary Hell for whichever dumbfuck thought red and white end credits was a great idea. Arsehole, probably the same arsehole who thought we needed subtitles for a guy speaking bloody English with a perfectly decipherable French accent. What was up with that?

 

Rating: B-

Review: Revolver


Jason Statham plays a recently released con man looking for revenge against the casino owner (Ray Liotta, scariest man alive) who sent him to prison. He spent his prison time learning master cons from two other prisoners in cells on either side of his. However, after a public humiliation, Liotta is murderously pissed at Statham, putting a hit out on him. He encounters two loan sharks (Andre Benjamin and Vincent Pastore), who tell him he has a fatal disease that will kill him in a matter of days. If he agrees to work for them and give all of his money over to them, they’ll keep him from being bumped off. And so it begins. Francesca Annis and Mark Strong play a couple of underworld characters, the former flamboyant, the latter cool as ice.

 

This 2005 Guy Ritchie (“Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels”) flop gets no love from…well, anyone really. However, despite not being a fan of Ritchie’s, I found this a lot easier to follow than I had been led to believe (especially since I was watching the supposedly more confusing shorter version of the film), and really quite watchable actually. Bear in mind, though, that I thoroughly enjoyed “Smokin’ Aces” and “Shoot ‘em Up”, so your cinematic sensibilities may be wildly different from mine. Those films are a good comparison actually, because this one seems like Ritchie, if not parodying gangster flicks, is at least having a bit of a lark. It’s over the top, silly, and indulgent in style. It’s only mildly pretentious, with those quotes at the beginning being a bit of a wank. My only true criticism here is that the conclusion is weak, it makes Jason Statham’s character look foolish for not seeing it a mile away. Then again, I myself didn’t predict it so perhaps I should shut the hell up.

 

A very orange Ray Liotta walks off with the whole thing in one of his better post-career turns as a rather pathetic gangster. Statham is Statham, but here that’s appropriate. Vincent Pastore is quite good also, and Andre Benjamin is surprisingly not out of place. Interestingly emotionless performance from Mark Strong as an efficient hitman who looks like an accountant.

 

No, not sure why the critics were turned off by this one, which was in the can in 2005, but not released in the US until 2007 after thudding elsewhere on original release. It’s nothing earth shattering (or even ‘good’), but I found it a pretty easy watch, and fun at times. The screenplay is by the director from a story by Luc Besson (“The Professional”, “The Fifth Element”), something that should tell you an awful lot about what to expect, really.

 

Rating: C+

Monday, July 27, 2015

Review: The Insider


Based on the true story of Jeffrey Wigand (Russell Crowe, intentionally pudgy and bland-looking) a scientist for the tobacco industry who was fired by the tobacco company he worked for because he couldn’t keep quiet about damning research results suggesting the serious harms of tobacco smoking to your health. Wigand meets with “60 Minutes” producer Lowell Bergman (Al Pacino) to explain some technical jargon for a story. Bergman sees something in Wigand that suggests he has a helluva story to tell. So he starts to put pressure on him, but Wigand is also under pressure from the company, who remind him when he’s fired that there’s a confidentiality clause in his contract. They also may be using more overt ‘scare tactics’ on him and his family. And there’s the stresses of trying to raise a family with non-understanding wife Diane Venora, which doesn’t help. She’s none too pleased when Wigand (who’s not always very communicative) agrees to go on the air with “60 Minutes” anchor Mike Wallace (Christopher Plummer as an egotist with integrity, but a bit slow to act), risking his severance package, health insurance, and possibly their lives. But the truth must be told, and Bergman tries his best to get around Wigand’s contract to make sure the stories gets put on the air. Phillip Baker Hall and Stephen Tobolowsky play nervous higher-ups at “60 Minutes” and CBS, Michael Gambon plays Wigand’s former employer, and Lindsay Crouse plays Bergman’s supportive wife.

 

Compelling, well-acted 1999 film from director Michael Mann (“Last of the Mohicans”, “Heat”, “Ali”) and his co-writer Eric Roth (“Forrest Gump”, “The Postman”, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”). I don’t think Russell Crowe’s Oscar-nominated turn in “A Beautiful Mind” has aged terribly well in the last 15 years (Yep, it’s been 15!), but if he was to win an Oscar, it should’ve been for this film, not his eventual win for “Gladiator”. For some bizarre reason he was in the Supporting Actor category here, even though he is very clearly the co-lead with Al Pacino. At any rate, this is certainly Crowe’s film, and he brilliantly shows the weight and pressure put on Jeffrey Wigand. He may not be a master of accents (don’t tell him that, though), but this is one of his better ones (Michael Gambon, in an otherwise solid performance, botches a Yank accent completely), and a terrific performance. For added irony, he’s also a smoker, I believe. So there’s that.

 

Al Pacino is thankfully not ‘Shouty Al’ in this, and as a veteran “60 Minutes” producer, it’s one of his better turns of the 1990s for sure. Christopher Plummer is persuasive as the conflicted Mike Wallace. Whether you think he’s an exact replica of the bloke or not (I think he’s a fair enough resemblance), who the hell else would you cast? The film also contains two terrific cameos by the often forceful Bruce McGill and especially Gina Gershon as respectively, Wigand’s lawyer, and CBS’s corporate shit-kicker lawyer. The one dud note in the cast is Diane Venora. If I were Mr. Wigand’s wife, I’d be offended by the heartless, selfish bitch Venora (never a terribly empathetic actress to begin with) makes her out to be. I can’t imagine it’s a very accurate portrayal, more one altered to suit dramatic purposes. The script is partly to blame, but Venora (who I swear is just Jessica Lange with a dark wig) is a cold fish of an actress.

 

The fact that this actually happened and the lengths that the corporation went to in order to stop Wigand is really incredible. Call me naïve, but I found it gobsmacking. I find what ‘big tobacco’ do to keep their consumers addicted just as horrible but far less surprising. Of course they do it, it’s smart. Horrible, but smart business. The bullying tactics, though? Insane.

 

I don’t believe there’s any value in starting the film with Pacino’s character on an unrelated prior assignment in the Middle East. All it does is add some unnecessary screen time to a frankly overlong film. The shaky camerawork by Mann’s regular cinematographer Dante Spinotti (“Last of the Mohicans”, “Heat”, the terrible “Public Enemies”) is no help, either to be honest. It’s annoying and unnecessary.

 

The film is just a smidge overrated, but a really good story and not remotely boring. Removing the opening scene would have made it even better. But there’s a lot to like here, especially if you liked “All the President’s Men”.

 

Rating: B-

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Review: X-Men: Days of Future Past


OK, so I’ll give it my best shot: We start off in the near future, with things looking bleak for mutant-kind as they are being hunted down by super-awesome robots called Sentinels. The plan is to have a mutant named Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page) use her special powers to send Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) back to 1973 to convince the younger, wayward Dr. Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) to fight for the cause in preventing the events that started the chain events resulting in the Sentinels’ dominance. This means stopping Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) from assassinating Sentinels creator Trask (Peter Dinklage). I know how that sounds, but it’s really the plan. The plan also involves trying to get Xavier to form an alliance with arch-enemy Magneto (Michael Fassbender).

 

Full disclosure here folks: I tapped out. I just plain tapped out to this one. Director Bryan Singer (“X-Men”, “The Usual Suspects”) and screenwriter Simon Kinberg (“X-Men: The Last Stand”, “This Means War”) must be a whole lot smarter than me because for at least the first half of this film…I just couldn’t find my bearings in this. Sure, I haven’t been a die-hard fan of this series, but I’ve seen every single one of the films (including the “Wolverine” spin-offs), and for at least the first half of the film, I just couldn’t keep track of all these people. I know this is kind of a fanboy film, and so perhaps Singer just assumed the only people watching this would be the faithful. However, I review films, not comic books, and so whether this film was aimed squarely at me or not, I think it’s still fair for me to give you my thoughts. Besides, we all know this was meant to be a summer blockbuster for the masses, so Singer surely wasn’t aiming for just the comic book geeks (And let’s face it, comic book geeks are kinda mainstream now anyway). If you’re gonna give us a film that operates on several timelines, you’ve got to make sure the thing makes sense to more people than just you. I get the feeling Singer, Kinberg, and Kinberg’s fellow story writers Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn (“Stardust”, “Kick-Ass”) didn’t pass the script around to anyone outside of their own inner circle, and that’s screenwriting ‘no-no’ numero uno, isn’t it? The film operates on several timelines, features both the younger and older versions of certain characters, and gives us new characters on top of that, without giving us an absolutely clear idea at the outset as to who is who and when they’re who. Hell, at one point I was even questioning if Ellen Page wasn’t actually reprising her character from “Inception”, given the character’s slightly similar plot function.

 

Given that I’m only mildly appreciative of this franchise and not much of a comic book reader, I’ll accept some of the responsibility for a hazy recollection of previous characters and events (Indeed, it turns out that I should’ve recognised some of the younger cast here from previous films. Whoops). If you’re a die-hard fan who remembers every single little detail about the previous films, you might actually like this film. However, I still think there’s an ineptitude and arrogant attitude adopted by all involved here. I felt excluded at the outset when I really didn’t need to be. The film has other problems, which I feel allows me to give it a pretty low score anyway, even if the confusion were more on me than the filmmakers. The confusion, however, is certainly the biggest problem. While I don’t want to be spoon-fed, I just think this has been poorly written. Just look at the opening scenes and honestly, I feel like things could’ve been far more coherently set-up. The rather dorky opener gives us a bunch of younger mutants who come off as lame poseurs for an “X-Men” spin-off TV series. Although some of these guys were in “The Last Stand”, I have to admit to drawing a complete blank on all of them, and they seemed like third-rate knock-offs. Given it feels like one has walked into the middle of a film, why should I care about any of this? It’s clunky, and when original “X-Men” characters start turning up, the timeline confusion begins and I felt at a huge distance for quite a while.

 

I don’t think the entirety of that blame falls on to me, I’m afraid. There’s plenty of evidence of poor writing throughout, such as constantly cutting back to Patrick Stewart’s Xavier and his young charges, having the distinct feel of characters standing around waiting to be written into the film. That’s just poor structuring right there. Meanwhile, I know time travel films often have characters change the past to try and change the future (The best of these being “Terminator 2: Judgement Day”), but the way it is done here causes way too many problems for those of us who are predisposed to notice such things. There’s a shitload of butterflies getting stomped on here, folks. I also have to say that aside from the “Bill & Ted” movies, I’m not a fan of characters meeting their future/past selves. “Looper”, for instance, was idiotic. I know time travel in and of itself is bullshit, but even within the realm of bullshit, we all have our limits of what we’ll accept, and for me, I’ve always hated that idea. “Bill & Ted” got away with it due to being a dopey (really, really dopey) comedy. Here, there’s no such excuse, though having Patrick Stewart and James McAvoy on screen at the same time has problems that go beyond just the time travel stuff. Even more so than in “First Class” (which was actually a pretty good film), McAvoy’s Xavier and Stewart’s Xavier seem worlds apart, and not in any credible way. I get it, not everyone’s the same person at 30 as they are at 60, but that’s just something we say, really. We’re still recognisably ourselves in at least some way, no matter how many years go by. Not so with McAvoy’s Xavier and Stewart’s Xavier, I just couldn’t buy them as the same guy. McAvoy plays Xavier as the British version of ‘The Dude’, a douchy, drunken tool. He’s meant to be a wayward and on some kind of drugs to allow him to walk. He’s a tortured genius I guess, but he comes across as the English equivalent of a douchy frat boy. That’s far too much of a gap between him and the aging, headmaster-ish mentalist mutant. They aren’t the same guy at all and having McAvoy and Stewart share the screen together just reinforces it. McAvoy gives a good performance, creates an interesting character…it’s just not Xavier. At all.

 

Jennifer Lawrence, meanwhile, continues her schizophrenic acting career by giving us yet another terrible performance that makes her solid efforts in “Silver Linings Playbook” and “American Hustle” seem like they’ve come from a completely different actress. She, like McAvoy, is also absolutely nothing like her original trilogy counterpart, Rebecca Romijn. Thankfully for her, though, she’s never asked to act opposite Romijn at any point in the film, as Romijn isn’t here this time. The Mystique makeup/design continues to do negative things for Lawrence, both physically and in her performance. Apparently body paint was used in all previous films and a body suit here, but if that’s the case, then all I can say is that blue works much better for Romijn than Lawrence, because whether it was paint or a suit, neither Lawrence version of the character has looked right to me. She looks weird and awkward and although she has a perfectly lovely body and face, they’re not made to look flattering in these films. As for her performance, there’s something awkward about it that stands out like a sore thumb, yet at the same time she’s so bland that she never really owns the character or the screen. It’s the strangest thing. Oscar or not, Lawrence is alarmingly crap in most everything else and throughout her scenes in this film I got the distinct vibe of a little girl playing dress-up.

 

I’ve always had a massive problem with the Magneto character in this franchise, as even in the first film I found him way too sympathetic for a villain. In some of the subsequent films, hell he seemed like a damn ‘tweener’ (to use wrestling parlance for that grey area between ‘babyface’ and ‘heel’). In “First Class” I had a helluva hard time not siding with the guy, to be perfectly honest. Here, though, the film completely changes this guy. Especially when played by Sir Ian McKellen, he comes across as a straight up ‘good guy’ character this time. It’s like I was supposed to read some comic book tie-in prior to the film or maybe a short film was supposed to precede this one that explained why Magneto is now an unabashed hero this time. Fassbender is much better than McKellen in the role, and if there’s even a trace of villainy or darkness to the character here, it’s entirely due to Fassbender.

 

The film is also just plain plagiaristic and stale throughout. In particular, there’s a good chunk of “Watchmen” in here, with a large helping of the “Terminator” films to boot (Don’t believe me? Look at how Wolverine time travels in the nude! It’s not even a subtle steal!). I don’t want to get into a comic book geek debate here about what came first on the printed page, it’s irrelevant. I watch movies and try my best to judge them on their own cinematic level, even if they’re based on something else (I’m not perfect, though. I’m a hypocrite like everyone else). So I couldn’t help but notice a whole lotta “Watchmen” goin’ on here. And it’s soooo dumb, not just for the blatantly pilfered cartoony Nixon. Magneto caused the JFK assassination? JFK was a mutant? Fuck off. That’s so immature and lame. JFK gags are so out of date, not even the fact that this film occasionally takes place in earlier eras is enough of an excuse (Don’t even get me started on the fact that this is basically an anti-nuke film released in 2014. Geez, talk about ‘played out cliché’). Meanwhile, on tonight’s show the role of Dr. Manhattan will be played by…Mystique. Sorry, but Dr. Manhattan is superior in every single way.

 

Of the cast, Evan Peters, Nicholas Hoult, and Peter Dinklage are the clear standouts. Peters’ Quicksilver is the only new mutant to grab one’s attention, he’s really cool and interesting. It’s a shame then, that we only get one quick glimpse of him in the second half of the film, because he’s easily the best thing about the first half. Similarly, Nicholas Hoult’s Beast manages to steal his every scene. Peter Dinklage plays the closest thing this film has to a villain in idiosyncratic fashion without being annoyingly affected. Solid stuff. It was also good to see that veteran character actor Michael Lerner is still alive- I couldn’t even tell you the last time I saw him in something. However, this may be the worst usage of Halle Berry in any film ever, yes even “Catwoman”. For all the scant screen time she gets, I hope she was paid handsomely.

 

This is lousy, shoddy storytelling from filmmakers either too stuck up to let the uninitiated into their little secret club, or just plain inept at basic coherent storytelling.  Sadly, even if you’re a diehard fan who has less problem following the events than me (which may not be hard, I’m no Einstein), you’ve still got to contend with a film that blatantly rips off other films and thinks JFK conspiracy gags aren’t completely out of date. Really poor stuff, the worst film in the entire franchise thus far and Singer’s worst film to date. But hey, I’m the guy who thinks “The Last Stand” is the best film in the series (yet doesn’t seem to recall Ellen Page and Shawn Ashmore being in it!), so perhaps you should see it and make up your own mind.   

 

Rating: D+

Review: God Bless America


Joel Murray is having a very, very bad time of it. Divorced, laid off from work, getting no love or respect from his revolting daughter, and recently diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour…he finally cracks it. But what makes him tip over the edge is not really any of the above things. Oh, they contribute alright. But, no Murray is enraged by what he sees as the culture of meanness and vacuousness throughout the media. Reality TV, tabloid journalism, political pundits on both sides of the aisle earn his ire. And he’s gonna do something about it. He’s Peter Finch with a gun, people, so look out! He decides to kill the disgracefully self-absorbed and bitchy high schooler reality TV star polluting his TV screen. In committing this act, Murray earns the attention of another girl at the school, played by Tara Lynne Barr. This social misfit seems to share Murray’s disdain for modern pop culture, and although she has way more targets on her hit list than he does, he nonetheless takes the girl on as a cohort, as they go on a killing spree of the rude, obnoxious and vacuous across the country.

 

Writer-director Bobcat Goldthwait (Yes, the guy from “Police Academy 4: The Good One”) tries to atone for the notoriously pillocked “Shakes the Clown” with this 2011 black comedy attack on braindead popular culture. Especially earning Mr. Goldthwait’s ire is the ‘culture of mean’, that is the likes of Fox News and reality TV. He also frames his points in the narrative of a “Taxi Driver” meets “Falling Down” plot. I agree with the scorn that Goldthwait has for a lot of his targets here, and the film is a lot better than the repugnant and racist “Falling Down”, but this isn’t really my kind of thing and Goldthwait probably reaches a little too far for targets. Yes, the pop culture of today can indeed be mind-numbing and empty, but I still enjoy some of that culture, and don’t think all of it deserves scorn…or loads of ‘murder death kills’ for that matter (God Bless “Demolition Man”!). The shot at “TMZ” is particularly unfair, I feel. I think the shows/people discussed on “TMZ” deserve much more scorn than the show/website itself. The “American Idol” attacks, meanwhile, are simply outdated by what, five years at least? The Bill O’Reilly attacks, however are certainly valid and relatively successfully done. The guy really did go after the mother of a fallen soldier (not to mention the son of a 9/11 victim), on more than one occasion actually. In fact, as much as the parody of O’Reilly is a tad overdone, this film understands what most other attacks on O’Reilly don’t seem to tap into: Forget his politics or any bias (Sean Hannity is a much better target for that. O’Reilly has stepped off the reservation from time to time at least), the problem with Bill O’Reilly is that he’s just a mean bully who is discourteous to his guests under the guise of ‘no spin’. He’s a hack because if he were truly good at his job (Notice I said ‘good’ and not a ‘ratings success’?), he wouldn’t need to resort to such aggressive behaviour to achieve his aims of not letting his guests run off on piddling non-answers.

 

But back to our main character. You see, it doesn’t help that the person delivering the sometimes interesting and non-partisan rants is the rather forgettable Joel Murray, who isn’t much of an actor and renders those rants not as effective as they could’ve been. Now Bill Murray, that guy could’ve pulled it off (Randy Quaid would’ve been ideal, but he seems to have lost his mind for real and gone into hiding in Canada a few years back). But I guess ‘ol Bill wasn’t in Zed’s price range and we get the guy you go to when Brian Doyle-Murray is too pricey. Having said that, some of these rants, pointed or not, come off as somewhat inorganic and clearly the words of the filmmaker. So it’s a tricky thing to pull off and Mr. Goldthwait hasn’t done so.

 

The other issue I have with the film is that the Murray character doesn’t behave consistently. No, not even for a mentally unstable person. I refused to believe that this guy, based on what we know of him as a guy with ‘family values’ (warped or not) would allow this girl to tag along let alone kill. Kindred spirits or not, it isn’t credible. Not even remotely believable or consistent with his established character. Sure, the guy has snapped, but he hasn’t completely changed morals, surely. This is a guy who flat-out refuses to have anything more than a platonic relationship with this girl, and won’t let her persuade him to kill just anybody who pisses her off. That’s not how it works. In fact, he’s actually more likeable than D-Fens from “Falling Down” or Travis Bickle in “Taxi Driver”, mostly because he has some genuinely valid points (But no I do not agree with his solutions one iota!).

 

It’s a well-shot film, it’s clear that either Goldthwait or cinematographer Bradley Stonesifer have seen a lot of David Lynch and P.T. Anderson films, that’s for sure. The film also has a genuinely brilliant moment where a documentary on the Mai Lai massacre gets blamed for Murray and Tara Lynn Barr (who, by the way, is way too much like “Juno” for a film that otherwise seems to hate “Juno” as much as I do) shooting noisy patrons in the movie theatre. It’s very funny, and just plain something I agreed with. Movies get blamed way too often for sickos who commit violent acts. The funniest moment is with the very non-PC gun dealer, even if the steal from “Jackie Brown” was a tad half-hearted. The guy is hilarious. Points off, though for the lame insult ‘fuck pie’, which in addition to sounding stupid, I’m pretty sure makes absolutely no sense conceptually let alone as an insult to be hurled.

 

This isn’t laugh-out-loud funny for the most part, but it’s definitely more satirical and successful than “Falling Down”, thus it gets a higher rating from me than that racist piece of crap did. Although sometimes quite uneasy to watch, it’s clearly not meant to be taken seriously, let alone literally. However, it’s not my kind of genre in the first place, and although I appreciate some of the points being made (We really do live in a mean culture and some of it is truly without merit or necessity), I don’t think this is a helpful film right now. It’s not nearly as dangerous as “Falling Down” (and even then I don’t believe movies are harmful to anyone of sound mind in the first place), but in this day and age of gun violence in the US…isn’t that a much bigger problem than vacuous, mean-spirited pop culture? I think so (though it was cute that the one Conservative belief Murray held was less gun control!), and that, combined with unpersuasive performances keep me from recommending this. I’m just not a believer in vigilantism, neither do I find it credible nor helpful, so obviously this one was never going to really win me over (And I found the fact that it was a teen girl doing some of the killing a tad hard to swallow. It should’ve been a boy. Mohammad-Malvo, anyone?) I did appreciate the lighter tone, though and I have no doubt that there will be admirers of this film out there, just not me.

 

Rating: C