Danny Lerner

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London Has Fallen Review

Weak

It didn't seem possible, but somehow this action movie is even more preposterous than its predecessor, 2013's over-serious Olympus Has Fallen. Gerard Butler is back as a Secret Service agent protecting US President Aaron Eckhart, this time in a Taken-style scenario in which they leave America only to be immediately thrown into the middle of a massive terrorist attack. But the script is so lazy that there isn't a moment when any of this is remotely believable.

Events are put into motion when the British prime minister dies of a heart attack and security services only have a few days to lock down London so that the world's leaders can arrive for the funeral at St Paul's Cathedral. Mike (Butler) flies in with his boss Lynn (Bassett) on Air Force One, accompanying President Asher (Eckhart) and a platoon of bodyguards. Then just before the funeral, a carefully orchestrated series of bombings and gun attacks take out five heads of state. Of course, Mike and Lynn get Asher out of the fray, but an army of bad guys led by terror mastermind Kamran (Waleed Zuaiter) pursue them across the city. Back in Washington, Vice President Trumbull (Morgan Freeman) and the panicky cabinet (including Haley, Forster and Leo) watch all of this unfold on video screens and coordinates a counter-attack.

Even with four screenwriters, the movie makes no real sense. And worse than that, the filmmakers never take advantage of the story's potential or the heavy-hitting cast. There's a line about how all of London's landmarks have been destroyed, but the on-screen destruction is limited to just one of Westminster Abbey's towers. The depiction of world leaders is laughably cliched. And the award-winning actors have nothing to do but stand there looking worried. By contrast, Butler charges around shooting and stabbing everybody who moves in a display of shockingly brutal machismo. Eckhart is more believably reluctant to join in and dispense some violence, but of course he does.

Continue reading: London Has Fallen Review

The Expendables 3 Review


Good

Striking a tone somewhere between the po-faced original and the silly Part 2, this rampaging action nonsense is badly overcrowded and chaotic, but there's plenty of comedy and whizzy stuntwork to keep the audience entertained. It of course helps a lot that the film is packed to the rafters with iconic actors and lively newcomers. And their sassy dialogue helps make up for the idiotic plot.

It opens with a prison break, as Barney (Sylvester Stallone) and his team (Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture and Terry Crews) rescue their old cohort Doc (Wesley Snipes) then head off on a mysterious mission that turns out to involve their presumed-dead nemesis Stonebanks (Mel Gibson), who is targeting Barney's team. So Barney and his pal Bonaparte (Kelsey Grammer) set about finding four new commandoes (Kellan Lutz, Ronda Rousey, Glen Powell and Victor Ortiz) to take on Stonebanks, but of course nothing goes as plan. For the final face-off they're joined by the old team, CIA boss Drummer (Harrison Ford), former colleagues Trench and Yin (Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jet Li), and chatty newcomer Galgo (Antonio Banderas).

The ever-increasing cast means that some characters can't help but be pushed into the shadows (Crews and Li are barely in this film), while others hover around the edges of scenes injecting moments of sarcastic wit. Each of the characters gets his or her moment of eye-popping action, as the film lurches from set-piece to set-piece in a whirl of bombs, bullets and blades. All of this is fun because the actors are gleefully refusing to take any of this seriously. The scene-stealers this time are Gibson, terrific as the swaggering villain, and Banderas, who's hilarious as the only person who can string a sentence together.

Continue reading: The Expendables 3 Review

The Expendables 2 Review


Good
Although there's been no attempt to tone down the first film's bloodthirsty hyperviolence or dim-witted plotting, this sequel is a massive improvement simply because they have fun with the premise. As a result, so do we.

Barney (Stallone) and his team of ageing mercenaries are coerced by Church (Willis) into heading into hostile territory to retrieve a top secret electronic gadget. Most shocking is the fact that Church insists that a woman, Maggie (Yu), joins them. And when things go wrong, Barney leads the gang on a grisly revenge mission against a nasty villain (Van Damme) who's callously putting humanity in peril. Along the way they're joined by Church and Trench (Schwarzenegger), and get help from lone-wolf Booker (Norris).

Continue reading: The Expendables 2 Review

Conan The Barbarian Review


Weak
With a complete lack of self-awareness, this po-faced remake looks more like a trash-TV series (a la Spartacus or Camelot) than a proper movie. Mainly because the filmmakers continually opt for gratuitous gore rather than actual storytelling.

Born in battle, Conan (Howard, then Momoa) is set on vengeance. His people, the Cimmerians, were slaughtered by the evil Khalar Zym (Lang), who was looking for the barbarian-held pieces to a mythical all-powerful mask. Once the mask is reassembled, Khalar Zym and his fiendish daughter Marique (McGowan) need a pure-blood of Acheron to activate it and, as luck would have it, the last one is hot babe Tamara (Nichols). So of course Conan and Tamara team up to fight off the villains and save the pre-historic world.

Continue reading: Conan The Barbarian Review

War, Inc. Review


Weak
The road to Hell is paved with good intentions, and in the case of John Cusack's over-the-top satire of the Iraq War, War, Inc., the intentions are obvious and the road leads to a particular place in Hell presided over by filmmakers (Stanley Kramer resides on the throne there) who want to fight the good fight but use a two-by-four pounded into the back of a viewer's head to emphasize the obvious. As writer/producer/star of War, Inc. Cusack wants to make a statement about the venality of the United States' involvement in Iraq and wants to make that statement in the worst way. And, unfortunately, he does. Cusack attempts to reconceive the hit man premise of Grosse Point Blank as a lacerating and biting political satire in the vein of Dr. Strangelove or Wag the Dog. Unfortunately, the end result is more along the lines of those disastrous, live-action cartoonish romps of the stinky 1960s vintage a la John Goldfarb, Please Come Home.

As in Grosse Point Blank, Cusack plays a world-weary hit man, Brand Hauser, who works for a Halliburton-inspired international corporation that has just completed a contract on the first 100-percent outsourced road in the fictional Middle Eastern country of Turaqistan. The head honcho of the corporation is the ex-Vice President (Dan Akyroyd on a toilet) who orders Hauser into Turaqistan to assassinate the chief Turaqistani minister, Omar Sharif (Lyubomir Neikov). Omar plans to one-up the corporation by installing his own oil pipeline in competition, and the corporation will have none of that. Hauser arrives under cover as the head of the Brand USA Trade Show, where he is responsible for a big gala extravaganza starring Yonica Babyyeah (Hilary Duff in a change of pace role as a sexy, slutty Britney Spears clone; at one point she moans pointedly after dropping a scorpion down her pants). Also on hand in Turaqistan is Natalie Hegalhuzen (Marisa Tomei), a Nation-esque reporter who immediately rubs Hauser the wrong way. Could this be love?

Continue reading: War, Inc. Review

Derailed (2002) Review


Terrible
Proving that her brazen performance in Mulholland Drive was a total fluke, Laura Harring's sad attempt at acting in this Jean-Claude Van Damme vehicle is nonetheless the best part of the movie. At least she has personality, if you catch my meaning.

Sadly, this apparent remake of Under Siege II, if you can believe that, has a speeding train, a biological weapon as cargo, terrorists, and Van Damme to muck up the operation. With all the usual atrocious dialogue ("We've got to clear the tracks now... and call the World Health Organization!"), awful effects (some of the worst bluescreening I've ever seen, and isn't that the cutest little model train???), and of course, fisticuffs (poor Van Damme isn't getting any younger), this is one bad, bad movie.

Continue reading: Derailed (2002) Review

Raging Sharks Review


Bad
Imagine the satisfaction of telling your co-workers come Monday morning that you spent the weekend not on the beach or climbing a mountain, but watching the awe-inspiring DVD Raging Sharks. They'll be jealous. You'll be the boss of the place, even if it is fleeting.

The title ought to give away the storyline, but to be a little more specific, it's a lot like Deep Blue Sea and The Abyss, minus the camp value and special effects, respectively.

Continue reading: Raging Sharks Review

U.S. Seals 2 Review


Weak
Good news for those of you who missed U.S. Seals 1, this is "The Ultimate Force," an "Explosive New Action/Amazing Martial Arts Sequel" with "Thrilling Martial Arts Combat Scenes Handled By Jackie Chan's Stuntman Team member."

And it's not all bad. Sure, the story is beyond ridiculous -- crazy ex-S.E.A.L. takes control of an abandoned island with two "stealth" nuclear missiles. And of course, the island is contaminated by methane, so you can't shoot any guns there (or, presumably, take a hot shower, cook food, or have any kind of lighting) lest the tiniest spark send the whole island up in flames. That's going to make things tough for the team sent in to rescue a captured nuclear physicist and save the world from those darn stealth nukes -- which, oddly enough, can be launched, despite the plume of fire shooting out the back.

Continue reading: U.S. Seals 2 Review

Hard Cash Review


Good
Yes, it's a direct-to-video movie called Hard Cash, and yes it's a black comedy/heist that you've never heard of. And yes, it's got Val Kilmer and Christian Slater in it. What's the story?

Well, it's not as bad as you might think. We even get Verne "Mini-Me" Troyer crawling out of a toilet, so who can complain?

Continue reading: Hard Cash Review

Derailed Review


Terrible
Proving that her brazen performance in Mulholland Drive was a total fluke, Laura Harring's sad attempt at acting in this Jean-Claude Van Damme vehicle is nonetheless the best part of the movie. At least she has personality, if you catch my meaning.

Sadly, this apparent remake of Under Siege II, if you can believe that, has a speeding train, a biological weapon as cargo, terrorists, and Van Damme to muck up the operation. With all the usual atrocious dialogue ("We've got to clear the tracks now... and call the World Health Organization!"), awful effects (some of the worst bluescreening I've ever seen, and isn't that the cutest little model train???), and of course, fisticuffs (poor Van Damme isn't getting any younger), this is one bad, bad movie.

Continue reading: Derailed Review

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Danny Lerner Movies

London Has Fallen Movie Review

London Has Fallen Movie Review

It didn't seem possible, but somehow this action movie is even more preposterous than its...

The Expendables 3 Movie Review

The Expendables 3 Movie Review

Striking a tone somewhere between the po-faced original and the silly Part 2, this rampaging...

The Expendables 2 Movie Review

The Expendables 2 Movie Review

Although there's been no attempt to tone down the first film's bloodthirsty hyperviolence or dim-witted...

Conan The Barbarian Movie Review

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With a complete lack of self-awareness, this po-faced remake looks more like a trash-TV series...

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