Here's yet another preposterous action movie that's made watchable by a skilful director and an engaging cast. While there are some intriguing themes in this spiralling odyssey of revenge, the script never really makes any sense out of the plot, merrily twisting and turning as it whizzes past a series of glaring improbabilities. But Colin Farrell and Noomi Rapace put their huge brown eyes to work, holding our sympathies as things get messier by the moment.
Farrell plays Victor, a gun-toting goon working for the slick mobster Alphonse (Howard), who is being taunted by a complex, unnerving plot to bring him down. But Victor is sidetracked by his neighbour Beatrice (Rapace), who comes on strong before revealing that she has seen his handiwork and will report him to the cops if he doesn't help her get revenge against the guy who scarred her face in a drunk-driving accident. This puts Victor in a difficult position since he's already engaged in his own plan to avenge the brutal deaths of his wife and daughter, assisted by a family friend (Abraham) from the old country.
And the plot gets increasingly knotty, as both Victor and Beatrice start to wonder if perhaps falling in love with each other might be a more pleasant way to get over their anger issues. Yes, the film is essentially preaching love and redemption even as the body count nears triple digits. Fortunately, director Oplev brings the same slick-steely style to the film as his original The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. And the always watchable Farrell and Rapace get solid support from Howard and Abraham, as well as Cooper (as Victor's brother in arms), Huppert (as Beatrice's busy-body mum) and the underused Assante (as the big boss).
Continue reading: Dead Man Down Review
Ridley Scott has a good thing going here, tossing these two Hollywood bigshots into the ring and letting them play cops and robbers while he slathers on the period detail with a trowel. There's some serious Superfly outfits (including a godawful $50,000 chinchilla coat that plays a surprisingly key part in a plot twist), a generous helping of soul music, enough fantastic character actors to choke a horse (Idris Elba, Jon Polito, Kevin Corrigan, an incredibly sleazy Josh Brolin, and so on), the specter of Vietnam playing on every television in sight, and the odd enjoyment one gets from watching cops in the pre-militarized, pre-SWAT days take down an apartment with just revolvers, the occasional shotgun, and a sledgehammer to whack down the door. Scott's smart enough to let the story cohere organically and without rush, keeping his main contenders apart for as long as could possibly be borne, making them fully developed characters in their own right and not just developed in opposition to the other. But there's something in this broad and expansive tale that can't quite come together, and it seems to start in Denzel's eyes.
Continue reading: American Gangster Review
Maggie Malone's story, alas, is almost too cliched even to exist in the movies. One boring day at the shop (run by Betty White, pretty much the only remotely interesting part of the film), Maggie discovers an old copy of Great Expectations, and suddenly she finds herself being granted a series of wishes, courtesy of a young British guy (Sean Maguire) who says she has a secret benefactor, who apparently is loaded with cash. (Sound familiar?)
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The one aspect of this film that fits squarely within genre conventions is the subject matter. Like such classics as Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin, El Dorado finds a classical fantasy in the lost city of gold, couching it in a historical context: In this case is the Spanish explorer Cortez's very real search for that mythical city. Unfortunately though, Cortez is lost for the bulk of the film while we are left to follow two roguish Spaniards (voiced by Kline and Branagh) who stumble upon, in sequence, a map to El Dorado, Cortez's ship to the New World, and El Dorado itself. Once the two con artists find El Dorado, they are of course hailed as Gods, and the bulk of the story concerns just how they are going to carry out this charade and make off with the gold back to Spain. In the process, we are left with a half-hearted conniving native medicine man voiced by Armand Assante as our only hope for a true villain. Once they find the lost city, the plot follows turn for turn that of the 1975 Sean Connery vehicle, The Man Who Would Be King. One could argue that plagiarizing a great film is not such a bad idea, considering a great bulk of the audience has never seen said film or read the book it is based on. Nonetheless, it tends to irk any true movie fan to see great movies remade badly.
Continue reading: The Road To El Dorado Review
After the comics are laid out, we have a screenfull of text, explaining the mind-numbingly unoriginal premise of Judge Dredd, which is this: in the future, the world sucks. At first I didn't know why there was a voice-over attached to this text, but then I realized that most of the audience of the film probably couldn't read.
Continue reading: Judge Dredd Review
Matthew McConaughey plays Brandon Lang, an ex-college quarterback whose ability to pick winning football teams grabs the attention of Walter Abrams (Al Pacino), a big-time New York City gambling advisor, whose apparent wealth and power is enough to convince Lang to skip Las Vegas for the Big Apple.
Continue reading: Two For The Money Review
How Hollywood's animated filmmakers can continue to crank out pictures built on the same template year after year and have them continue to be even occasionally entertaining is something I'll never completely understand. But "The Road to El Dorado," a 100-percent formula cartoon adventure set against Cortes' arrival in the Yucatan, does it again.
This one is about Tulio (Kevin Kline's voice) and Miguel (Kenneth Branagh), two-bit Spanish con men with a treasure map, caught as stowaways on the conquistador ship as it makes for the Americas in 1519.
Late one night on the high seas they make their escape in a row boat and wash up on foreign shores.
Continue reading: The Road To El Dorado Review
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