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John Wick: Chapter 2 Review

Very Good

Keanu Reeves picks up his supremely efficient hitman immediately where the 2015 original left him: regrouping with his new, as-yet-unnamed dog after taking down the New York mob that he used to work for. Director Chad Stahelski and writer Derek Kolstad have created another unusually satisfying action thriller, with sharply developed characters and a plot that holds more water than most of these kinds of movies. Obviously, it can't be as fresh as the first film, but it's thoroughly entertaining.

Reeves' John still just wants to be left alone, but after taking care of one loose end, he is contacted by Italian mafioso Santino (Riccardo Scamarcio), who calls in a blood oath. Unable to refuse, John heads to Rome to carry out a hit he knows will make his life exponentially more precarious, especially as it puts him into conflict with his old friend Cassian (Common). Sure enough, he now has an army of goons chasing him, led by mute thug Ares (Ruby Rose). So he returns to New York and gets in contact with an underground guru (Laurence Fishburne) who might be able to offer some respite from the hordes trying to kill him. And manager Winston (Ian McShane) is also willing to help John, as long as he abides by the rules of the criminal underworld.

The film is another superb mix of cool imagery and coherent action that moves briskly from one brutal encounter to the next. Vicious gunfights and car chases abound in this movie, and all are staged with bracing energy and a heightened sense of realism. Through all of this, Reeves maintains a sense of weary dignity in finely tailored suits that are refreshed after each messy encounter. How he keeps walking and fighting after each bruising fight is another question.

Continue reading: John Wick: Chapter 2 Review

Common Learnt Jiu Jitsu For John Wick 2


Common

One thing that you're going to really have to take notice of in the upcoming 'John Wick: Chapter 2' movie is the style of combat that the actors have taken on to make their moves look as seamless and realistic as possible. After all, these guys are assassins.

CommonCommon stars in 'John Wick: Chapter 2'

Only the best in the world of martial arts were asked to take on the challenge of training up the likes of Keanu Reeves and Common for the movie, a sequel to 2014's 'John Wick', and sure enough they came away with fighting skills more potent than they've ever mastered before.

Continue reading: Common Learnt Jiu Jitsu For John Wick 2

John Wick: Chapter 2 Trailer


Former hitman John Wick is in Rome following events in the first movie where he sought bloody revenge on the man who killed his dog and stole his car. He's still bereaved from the death of his wife Helen (who died before events in the first film) but he has at least got himself a new puppy. While it can be argued that his revenge massacre doesn't necessarily mean he's back in the game even if it did find him in the company of his former associates, this time his vow of retirement is broken for sure. An old friend is trying to takeover over a nefarious group of international assassins, and he is forced to join him because of the blood oath he made many years ago. This is not the kind of job you can quit easily.

Continue: John Wick: Chapter 2 Trailer

Common - The 2016 MTV Movie Awards - Los Angeles, California, United States - Sunday 10th April 2016

Common

O'Shea Jackson Jr., Corey Hawkins, Common, Jason Mitchell, Neil Brown Jr. , Aldis Hodge - Celebrities attends the 2016 MTV Movie Awards at Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank. at Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank - Los Angeles, California, United States - Saturday 9th April 2016

O'shea Jackson Jr., Corey Hawkins, Common, Jason Mitchell, Neil Brown Jr. and Aldis Hodge
O'shea Jackson Jr.
O'shea Jackson Jr.

O'Shea Jackson Jr., Corey Hawkins, Jason Mitchell, Neil Brown Jr., Aldis Hodge , Common - 2016 MTV Movie Awards at Warner Bros. Studios - Arrivals at Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank - Los Angeles, California, United States - Saturday 9th April 2016

O'shea Jackson Jr., Corey Hawkins, Jason Mitchell, Neil Brown Jr., Aldis Hodge and Common
O'shea Jackson Jr.
O'shea Jackson Jr.
O'shea Jackson Jr.
O'shea Jackson Jr.
O'shea Jackson Jr.

Common - Celebrities attend BARBERSHOP: THE NEXT CUT premiere at TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood. at TCL Chinese Theatre - Los Angeles, California, United States - Wednesday 6th April 2016

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Common and Ice Cube
Common
Common and Ice Cube

Common , Regina Hall - Barbershop: The Next Cut Neighborhood Tour Chicago Screening and Red Carpet Arrivals at Kerasotes Showplace Icon in Chicago at Kerasotes Showplace Icon - Chicago, Illinois, United States - Tuesday 15th March 2016

Common and Regina Hall

Common - The 88th Annual Academy Awards Arrivals at Academy Awards - Los Angeles, California, United States - Sunday 28th February 2016

Common
Common

Colman Domingo, Tessa Thompson , Common - Company party for Colman Domingo's play Dot at the Vineyard Theatre - Arrivals. at Vineyard Theatre, - New York, New York, United States - Sunday 21st February 2016

Colman Domingo, Tessa Thompson and Common
Colman Domingo and Susan Stroman
Colman Domingo
Colman Domingo
Colman Domingo and Susan Stroman
Colman Domingo and Susan Stroman

Suicide Squad Trailer


When there's nowhere left to turn, the bad guys might just turn out to be your only option. Amanda Waller is the leader of a task force who keeps on losing members of her team, she comes up with an idea to form a specialised task force formed with some of the most dangerous criminals that are currently in jail.

Continue: Suicide Squad Trailer

Daniela Corte , Lisa Pierpont - Boston Common magazine celebrates its 10th anniversary with cover star Julian Edelman at Space 57 at the Revere Hotel at Space 57, Revere Hotel - Boston, Massachusetts, United States - Monday 5th October 2015

Common, Daniela Corte and Lisa Pierpont
Common and Lisa Pierpont
Common and Lisa Pierpont
Common and Lisa Pierpont
Common, Lisa Pierpont, Glen Kelley and View
Common, Lisa Pierpont and Glen Kelley

Julian Edelman , Danny Amendola - Julian's New England Patriots teammate, Danny Amendola, makes a surprise appearance at the event. at Space 57, Revere Hotel - Boston, Massachusetts, United States - Monday 5th October 2015

Common, Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola
Common, Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola

The Common Linnets - Celebrities at the 4th annual Starnacht aus der Wachau at the Danube river - Wachau, Austria - Saturday 19th September 2015

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Common - Common out and about in Beverly Hills - Los Angeles, California, United States - Monday 31st August 2015

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Common - Hip-hop rapper Common out and about in Beverly Hills - Beverly Hills, California, United States - Wednesday 26th August 2015

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Common Toad (Bufo bufo) Set Up Studio Shot - "My ambition is to be able to give up all consultancy work and focus 100% on photography; ideally photographing and working on images of wildlife and travel.. and only undertaking other photography as a charitable service." - East Grinstead, United Kingdom - Saturday 15th August 2015

Common
Common

Common - Hip-hop artist Common goes shopping in Beverly Hills - Los Angeles, California, United States - Wednesday 5th August 2015

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Rapper-Turned-Actor Common Joins Cast Of 'Suicide Squad'


Common

The Oscar-winning rapper-turned-actor Common has signed on to join the cast of Suicide Squad - Warner Bros' new all-star action movie featuring DC Entertainment super villains. 

CommonCommon has joined the cast of Suicide Squad

Fury filmmaker David Ayer is directing the feature, which stars Jared Leto as the Joker, Will Smith as Deadshot and Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn. Co-stars include Joel Kinnaman, Cara Delevingne, Viola Davis, Adam Beach, Ike Barinholtz, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje and Scott Eastwood.

Continue reading: Rapper-Turned-Actor Common Joins Cast Of 'Suicide Squad'

"What Happened, Miss Simone?" Makes Waves With Sundance Premiere


Nina Simone John Legend Common

It’s Sundance weekend again and the star of the show this year is definitely What Happened, Miss Simone? The Netflix-produced Nina Simone documentary traces the life of the famed Jazz singer from her beginnings as a classical pianist, through her rise to fame on the jazz and blues scene. What Happened, Miss Simone does not gloss over Simone’s involvement in the Civil Rights Movement or her struggles with mental illness.

John Legend
John Legend performed a stunning tribute at the What Happened, Miss Simone? Premiere

The Park City premiere was made into a real event, followed up with a concert by soul star John Legend in tribute to Simone’s life and work.

Continue reading: "What Happened, Miss Simone?" Makes Waves With Sundance Premiere

Common, Kendrick Lamar Lead The Charge On MTV's #THETALK Campaign For Martin Luther King Day


Common Big Sean Ava DuVernay Kendrick Lamar Jordin Sparks Penn Badgley Pete Wentz

Today, in honour of Martin Luther King Day, MTV is returning to its progressive, socially conscious days with a special twist on its programming. For twelve straight hours, the channel will air all its shows and music videos (all two of them) in black and white, in an effort to draw attention to racial tensions in the US.

Kendrick Lamar
Kendrick Lamar (pictured), Common and a host of other celebrities want Americans to have #thetalk.

Commercials will still air in colour though, presumably because capitalism trumps social justice.

Continue reading: Common, Kendrick Lamar Lead The Charge On MTV's #THETALK Campaign For Martin Luther King Day

Oscar Nominations Court Controversy


Academy Of Motion Pictures And Sciences Michael Keaton Common John Legend David Oyelowo Ava DuVernay Jake Gyllenhaal Jessica Chastain Amy Adams Jennifer Aniston Roger Ebert

The reaction to this week's Oscar nominations was a loud one, because Academy voters played it so safe in a year when films expanded to explore a diverse array of themes. Throughout 2014, actors and filmmakers bravely took on big challenges, and many were recognised with nominations. But critics have been quick to point out that all of the acting and directing nominees are white, and #OscarsSoWhite was the trending hashtag on Twitter.

Neil Patrick Harris is hosting this year's Academy Awards
Neil Patrick Harris is hosting this year's Academy Awards

The most obvious snub was for Selma, which only received nods for Best Picture and Best Song (for Common and John Legend's 'Glory'), leaving out the acclaimed actor David Oyelowo and director Ava DuVernay, who would have been the first African-American woman ever nominated for Best Director.

Continue reading: Oscar Nominations Court Controversy

Common, Ferguson, The Golden Globes: It Was A Long Night


Common John Legend

Guys, we gotta talk about Ferguson again. The protests have been off the radar lately, with so much other horribleness going on, but at last night’s Golden Globes, Common took the chance to remind everyone: it’s still going on.

Common
Common used the Golden Globes stage as a soapbox.

The reference made sense after the rapper, along with singer John Legend won Golden Globes for Original Song for the Selma soundtrack, Glory. And here’s how Common made us all squirm in our seats.

Continue reading: Common, Ferguson, The Golden Globes: It Was A Long Night

Golden Globes 2015: Common References Ferguson, NYPD In Acceptance Speech


Common

The 72nd Golden Globe Awards took a political turn when Common and John Legend were awarded the Golden Globe for Best Original Song for their track 'Glory' from the movie 'Selma,' which depicts Martin Luther King's campaign for equal voting rights with a march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in 1955.

Common
Common made a very emotional speech when accepting  the Golden Globe for Best Original Song 

After being presented with the prestigious honour, Common made reference to the killing of the unarmed black teen Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, as well as the killing of two police officers in Brooklyn, N.Y., late last year.

Continue reading: Golden Globes 2015: Common References Ferguson, NYPD In Acceptance Speech

Run All Night Trailer


Jimmy Conlon is a former hit man for the mob whose life of crime have left many mental scars. His best friend is the mob boss Shawn Maguire, but things get complicated for their relationship when Conlon's son Mike finds himself being hunted down by Maguire's own boy Danny. In a bid to defend his son, Jimmy arrives on the scene and shoots Danny dead. Jimmy knows the drill and after a meeting with Shawn realises he must do everything within his power to keep Mike from being killed by the rest of the gang, as he and his family are targeted once again. Jimmy is forced to kill old friends as he takes on the most dangerous task of his life, in taking care of the family he has led to death. Meanwhile, he's on the run from a police officer desperate to put him behind bars for his past crimes.

Continue: Run All Night Trailer

Kim Kardashian, Accompanied By Kendall & Kylie Jenner, Seemingly Ignores VMA Moment Of Silence


Kim Kardashian Kylie Jenner Kendall Jenner Common

In a world where we rely on our mobiles phones for just about everything, we still don't have a set etiquette on when and where we should or shouldn't use them. Still, there are some places and times when it's just not acceptable at all, including in moments of silence in honour of the dead or social struggles. Unfortunately some audience members didn't take heed and surprise, surprise it was these three...

Kim Kardashian, Kendall and Kylie Jenner
Kim Kardashian (C) with Kendall Jenner (L) and Kylie Jenner (R).

Read More: MTV Video Music Awards 2014 - Check Out The Red Carpet Pics!

Continue reading: Kim Kardashian, Accompanied By Kendall & Kylie Jenner, Seemingly Ignores VMA Moment Of Silence

Now You See Me - Alternative Trailer


Michael Atlas is the leader of the most formidable magician group ever seen, The Four Horsemen, alongside Merritt Osbourne, Henley and Jack. Being able to pull off some of the most baffling illusions ever seen, they decide to use their talent to outwit the highest authorities of the country and give something back to their loyal audience. They announce, at one show, that they will rob a bank in Paris and subsequently shower their fans with cash while using their ability to expose the white collar crimes that have been going on in the underground financial world. While the FBI flounder around trying to work out how the trick is done, magic genius Thaddeus Bradley remains the only person who seems to have an idea on how it was worked though he is equally as reluctant as the perpetrators to reveal the secrets.

Continue: Now You See Me - Alternative Trailer

Kanye West Skirt Jokes Drive Rapper To Order Picture Removal


Kanye West Common Pusha T

Kanye West is sick of the skirt jabs; he's decided to make his move and formally request that pictures of him wearing the skimpy leather number be removed from a picture agency's website. 

Lord Jamar - who penned a track called 'Lift Up Your Skirt', which specifically mentions the skirt, is one of West's main detractors. One lyric, which we can only guess is aimed directly at Kanye, goes: "He introduced the skinny jeans to the rap scene/Then he wore a f***ing skirt on the video screen/Then he wore it again at a memorial/I can't pretend this sh*t ain't deplorable." Fellow rapper Common was equally unimpressed. He wrote on Twitter: "Pyrex and a skirt? S*** ain't adding up And if u co-sign this I'm blocking u!! Straight up. Ima have to save us." That seems a bit closed minded for someone who wrote a song about God being a woman. 

Elsewhere on planet Kanye, Pusha T - collaborator on Cruel Summer - has denied rumours of a seasonal follow up called, you guess it, Cruel Winter, according to NME.  "I believe that there were intentions for a 'Cruel Winter' and there's so much music floating, but GOOD Music isn't one to just piece a project together," Pusha T said. "I can tell you right now, I probably have 15 verses that are just over beats, that are lying around wherever 'Ye and his hard drive is right now, and I'm sure Cyhi, Sean, Cudi, Tip, everybody has other production or verses on these records as well'."

Continue reading: Kanye West Skirt Jokes Drive Rapper To Order Picture Removal

Now You See Me Trailer


Michael Atlas is an extremely accomplished illusionist and the leader of his own remarkable band of magicians known as The Four Horsemen which his henchmen, Merritt Osbourne, Henley and Jack, are a part of. Knowing that their abilities astonish and confound audiences everywhere, they decided to use it to their advantage and set out on a path to commit flawless crimes. During a performance, the quartet announce that their next trick is to rob a bank in Paris which they successfully do while exposing the crimes of a white-collar businessman and transporting his large fortune into the bank accounts of all the members of the audience. It isn't long before they are taken into custody by the FBI with Special Agent Dylan Hobbs resolute on finding out how the trick was done and preventing another major crime at the hands of the performers. In order to do so, he finds himself partnering with Interpol detective Alma Vargas against his better judgement and even seeking advice from the renowned Thaddeus Bradley who is well-known for his skill on working out how tricks are done. Dylan must find out if the solution lies with the idea of an outside party being involved, or just a case of master trickery at work.

As well as an all-star cast, this mystery thriller has been directed by action movie connoisseur Louis Leterrier ('The Transporter', 'The Incredible Hulk') and written by Ed Solomon ('Men in Black', 'Charlie's Angels'), Boaz Yakin ('Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time', 'Safe') and Edward Ricourt in his screenwriting debut. It is set for release on June 21st 2013.

Director: Louis Leterrier

Continue: Now You See Me Trailer

Something From Nothing: The Art Of Rap Trailer


Hip hop has always been more of a culture than just a genre of music. It represents a huge portion of the marginalised world of America and how they managed to create something from nothing; how their lifestyle and previously buried literary talents created a culture that has inspired millions. The frontman of rap/ metal band Body Count Ice-T takes his audience on the road to visit the founding fathers, the major superstars and the rising stars of the rap genre including Afrika Bambaataa, Eminem, Nas, Mos Def, Kanye West, Chuck D, Krs-One, Snoop Dogg, Run-DMC, Dr. Dre and Ice Cube and discover the skill and feeling behind what has made them international music heroes. One of the frequent interviewees is Grandmaster Caz who we are taken to visit on several occasions as he writes a new set of rhymes called 'The Art Of Rap'.

Directed by Ice-T with help from Andy Baybutt, 'Something From Nothing: The Art Of Rap' is a feature length music documentary delving into what goes into making the seminal hip hop records that have dominated music since the late '70s. It came about when producer Paul Toogood asked Ice-T the simplest of question which the star had never before been asked: How did he write seminal tracks such as '6 In The Mornin' and 'Colors'? 

Featuring: Common, Ice Cube, Chuck D, Mos Def, Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, Eminem, Nas, Kanye West, Darryl McDaniels, KRS-One, Big Daddy Kane

Continue: Something From Nothing: The Art Of Rap Trailer

Luv Trailer


Woody Watson is an 11-year-old boy with a broken family and an unpredictable future. His father is absent and his mother is in rehab leaving him to be cared for by his grandmother and recently out of prison uncle Vincent in their Baltimore home. His aspirations are questionable, admiring Vincent for his life of crime. One day, while Vincent is supposed to be taking Woody to school, he instead takes him out to the bank where he expected to be granted a loan for his food business. However, he is flatly refused based on his criminal past and he is forced to engage in one more drug dealing job for his ruthless boss Mr. Fish with young Woody looking on. When he witnesses his uncle falling into his violent past, he must choose what sort of life he wants to lead for what was meant to be a lesson in how to be man, has turned into a lesson in how to screw up your life like the rest of your family. Will Woody pick the right path?

'Luv' is the gritty drama based on how a broken family can force a child to admire the wrong sort of people and end up making them make life changing decisions at a very young age. It has been directed by Sheldon Candis ('Young Cesar') who also co-wrote the screenplay with Justin Wilson in his full length feature debut and is set to be released on November 9th 2012.

Directed by Sheldon Candis

Continue: Luv Trailer

Video - Common And Fergie Are Snapped On The Red Carpet At The Showcase Case Mate Launch


Hip-hop artist and actor Common (real name Lonnie Rashid Lynn, Jr.) is snapped on the red carpet at the Showcase Case Mate launch party in New York City. The Black Eyed Peas singer Fergie is also photographed after having a brief interview with the press.

Continue: Video - Common And Fergie Are Snapped On The Red Carpet At The Showcase Case Mate Launch

Common, Boris Kodjoe and Toccara Jones - Common, Boris Kodjoe, Toccara Jones Sunday 1st July 2012 The BET Awards 2012 - Ford Hot Spot - Day 3

Common, Boris Kodjoe and Toccara Jones

Kanye West Upsets The Royal Family With London Hotel Antics


Kanye West Common Big Sean

Rap superstar Kanye West has supposedly upset members of the Royal Family through a combination of loud music and weed-smoking at a hotel near Buckingham Palace. According to Britain's 'The Sun' newspaper, the 'N****s in Paris' rapper and his entourage were staying at a high-class hotel near the Palace at the same time as members of the Royal Family.

Related: Shock Horror! Kanye West Reportedly Holds Up Flight From Paris (And He Doesn't Even Apologise)

West has been living in London for several months, residing within the Lanesborough Hotel, a luxury hotel with private dining and butler service. Accompanying West were rappers Common, Big Sean and Pusha T. While there, West took over the entire top floor of the hotel, creating space for a fashion workshop and music studios, for the price of 2,700 GBP per night.

Continue reading: Kanye West Upsets The Royal Family With London Hotel Antics

The Odd Life of Timothy Green Trailer


Cindy and Jim Green is a young, married couple who are looking forward to starting a family. They try everything they can but it doesn't work. After the couple find out they can never conceive, it leaves them devastated.

Continue: The Odd Life of Timothy Green Trailer

Happy Feet Two Review


Very Good
Despite the fact that it's driven by a weakly developed plot, this penguin adventure is just as much fun as 2006's Happy Feet. It's a riot of colourful characters and vividly animated settings, with a few great songs thrown in to keep our feet tapping along.

Mumble (Wood) thinks he's inadequate as a father since his non-dancing son Erik (Acres) feels like such an outsider. So when Erik runs off to visit the guru Lovelace (Williams) and meet flying penguin star Sven (Azaria), Mumble follows.

Meanwhile back home, an ice-shelf collapse has trapped the entire Emperor colony, so now Mumble, Erik and Lovelace's colony must find a solution. Perhaps some passing humans can help. Or a gang of tetchy sea elephants. Or maybe it'll be down to two renegade krills (Pitt and Damon) who are trying to find their individuality.

Continue reading: Happy Feet Two Review

Just Wright Trailer


Sometims the girl just doesn't get her dream guy, and for Leslie this has always been the case. A physiotherapist by trade, she's got to the point in her life where she's all but given up on finding true love. However, when she meets NBA All-Star Scott McKnight she can't believe how perfect he is, the only problem is Scott doesn't notice Leslie's attempts to woo him, instead he turns to her beautiful best friend Morgan to seek affection. Finally Leslie accepts that her best friend is going to get the guy and she'll let again be left alone.

Continue: Just Wright Trailer

Date Night Review


Excellent
The presence of Carell and Fey lifts this comedy far beyond what it could have been. Their sharp improvisational skills give us a terrific look at a slightly tired marriage, even as the plot gets increasingly trite.

Phil and Claire (Carell and Fey) are a typically frazzled New Jersey suburban couple with two lively kids and no real time to connect with each other. Even their regular date nights seem to get easily derailed. Then they plan an evening in the city, which takes a surprise twist when they're mistakenly cornered by a couple of gun-pointing thugs (Simpson and Common) who are working for a notorious mob boss (Liotta). Now on the run, they seek help from a well-connected old contact (Wahlberg), while a cop (Henson) is tenaciously on their tails.

Continue reading: Date Night Review

Date Night Trailer


Watch the trailer for Date Night

Continue: Date Night Trailer

Terminator Salvation Review


Weak
Sound and fury overpower story in Terminator Salvation, which applies big-budget defibrillator paddles to the hulking franchise but can't breathe fresh life into the now 25-year-old concept.

That's how long we've been hearing about humanity's war against the machines, a battle James Cameron first initiated in 1984 when he sent Arnold Schwarzenegger back in time to terminate an unsuspecting Linda Hamilton. Armageddon was averted, then later triggered, in subsequent sequels before arriving at Salvation. But our predestined, apocalyptic future looks a lot like products from Hollywood's past. Specifically, imagine the love child of Mad Max and The Matrix as delivered by Michael Bay, and you're beginning to get this picture.

Continue reading: Terminator Salvation Review

Wanted Review


Very Good
A scrawny, self-loathing office drone gets plucked from his humdrum existence by a steely, gun-wielding super babe, is mentored by a Zen warrior with limitless intelligence but limited patience, then endures harsh physical training to prepare for a deadly mission only he can complete.

What sounds an awful lot like The Matrix is actually Wanted, an adaptation of Mark Millar's 2004 comic book miniseries by style-conscious Russian filmmaker Timur Bekmambetov. His name may ring a bell with adventurous moviegoers who sampled his frenzied vampire thriller Night Watch and its muddled sequel, Day Watch. And though it's unlikely Bekmambetov will become a household name once Wanted explodes on the scene, a wider audience certainly will become more familiar with the director's uniquely kinetic aesthetics.

Continue reading: Wanted Review

Street Kings Review


Good
Cops countermanding the law, using the close-knit nature of their badge to secretly settle scores on the street, have long since become a cinematic cliché. The police have gone from donut-munching jokes to felons in blue and black finery. From the decent beat officer taking bribes to buffer his paycheck, to the undercover operative in so deep he no longer remembers what side of society he's on, "to protect and serve" has been modified -- at least in the movies -- to "pervert and steal." Street Kings, the latest motion picture inspired by a story from James Ellroy (L.A. Confidential), dabbles freely in this kind of corrupt no man's land, and for the most part, it's a thrilling journey.

Alcoholic police detective Todd Ludlow (Keanu Reeves) has just finished wrapping up a notorious kidnapping case when Captain Jack Wander (Forest Whittaker) gives him the bad news. His ex-partner Terrence Washington (Terry Crews) is talking to Internal Affairs, and bureau head Captain James Biggs (Hugh Laurie) is looking to take Ludlow down. Before he can intimidate his former friend into not snitching, a pair of gang bangers kill him. Desperate to clear his own name in the death, Ludlow begins to investigate. Soon, he's linking the crime to a couple of local drug dealers who seem incapable of committing the hit. With Wander on his side and Biggs on his back, it will take all the street savvy he has to solve the case -- that is, if someone doesn't try and permanently stop him too.

Continue reading: Street Kings Review

American Gangster Review


OK
There's something dead in Denzel Washington's eyes nearly all of the way through Ridley Scott's American Gangster, which takes what should have been a mesmerizing slice of urban historical grit and grinds it into roughly two hours of standard issue cinema. Washington is playing Frank Lucas, a real-life crime boss who for a period lasting from the late 1960s into the following decade, ran Manhattan "from 110th to 155th, river to river." A real slick character who doesn't need to strut his worth on the street, Lucas hates flash like a junkie hates rehab: It reminds him of all he truly is but doesn't want to be. Facing off against him is New Jersey narc Richie Roberts (Russell Crowe), a womanizing tough guy with a short fuse but a heart of gold (aren't they all), who's so clean that when he and his partner come across $1 million in untraceable cash he had the bad manners to turn it all in without taking a single bill for himself. In a big-city police department in the 1970s, boy scout behavior like that will just plain get you killed -- the guy who's not on the take is the guy who could very well sell you down the river when the grand jury comes sniffing around for who is on the take.

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

Smokin' Aces Review


OK
A double-decker, monster-man sandwich of a movie with all the condiments dripping off and the tomatoes soaking through the bread, Joe Carnahan's Smokin' Aces grabs you by your lipstick-smudged collar and chucks you headfirst into a car-crash dizziness of crime, punishment, and bureau hobgob.As with most directors, Carnahan is eager to put the giddiness of his debut, Blood, Guts, Bullets & Octane, on top of the professionalism of 2002's brooding Narc, only too happy to throw in a who's-who of dynamite character actors to add flavor. Flipping scene-to-scene with a racecar driver's patience, Smokin' Aces quickly engages the viewer but just as quickly stuffs the plot with enough peripheral storylines to garner an Advil intermission. Carnahan, however, seems only the merrier to turn the mayhem up to eleven.Here's the scoop: Buddy "Aces" Israel (Jeremy Piven) has turned states evidence and has been marked to be deposited in an unmarked grave, heart removed and in the hand of the invalid Don of the Las Vegas mafia. Quicker than you can say Vincent Vega, a plethora of gun-totting, knife-brandishing assassins are descending on the Lake Tahoe hotel where Israel has commandeered the penthouse suite and filled it with enough blow and prostitutes to garner a Motley Crue reunion gig. There's a sexually-ambivalent pair of Jackie Brown's (scene-stealers Alicia Keys and Taraji P. Henson), a trio of Nazi-punk, south-bred Mad Max's (led by dirtied-up pretty-boy Chris Pine), a relentless torture artist (Nestor Carbonell), and a superbly vicious Ethan Hunt-type mask-wearer named Lazlo Soot (Tommy Flanagan). Oh, and not to mention a bail bondsman and two ex-cops (Ben Affleck, Peter Berg, and Martin Henderson) hired by a Herpes-positive lawyer (Justin Bateman).Israel's right-hand man Sir Ivy (hip-hop ingénue Common in a solid acting debut) has suspicions on Buddy's loyalty as the bureau chief (Andy Garcia, his cheeks tight enough to brandish a diamond ring from a lump of coal) deliberates on whether Buddy is essential to the FBI's case or not. To fast-track the proceedings, two FBI agents are sent to pick Israel up, played with welcome integrity by Ray Liotta and Ryan Reynolds. This is all confounded by a paint-by-numbers mystery about the Las Vegas Don's origins and his hand in an FBI agent's death.Not for nothing, Carnahan's big mess has a stunningly concise tone to it, not trashy enough to be campy and not serious enough to be harshly considered. There's no denying, however, that Smokin' Aces is a backpedal from the grimy cop paranoia of its predecessor. Ultimately, many of the characters are superfluous to the kinetic frenzy of the film and come off as cameos (Bateman, Affleck, and a surprise Matthew Fox head the list). This also lends itself to a problem of absurdly curt storylines that seem to mass into a rubber-band ball of narratives. That being said, it's still a kick to watch Carnahan go all in, pulling out some primo action scenes including a climactic shoot-out that ends with an assassin taking a chainsaw up the keister. The effect sprays about as much bodily fluid to the ironically-named Nomad hotel as one could imagine from a Tarantino disciple with time and money on his hands.Aces high.

Smokin' Aces - Clip Trailer


Buddy "Aces" Israel (Jeremy Piven) is a Vegas card sharp come gangster and former member of the La Cosa Nostra (LCN), one of the largest criminal organizations in the United States. In exchange for a vanishing act with Witness Protection, Israel (who is currently hiding out in the penthouse of The Nomad Casino in Lake Tahoe with his posse of bodyguards and hookers), has agreed to testify against his former mentor, Primo Sparazza, and the LCN.

Continue: Smokin' Aces - Clip Trailer

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