After a post-apocalyptic dystopia (The Road) and Prohibition-era America (Lawless), Australian director John Hillcoat brings his edgy Wild West sensibilities to this gritty present-day heist thriller. The film is fierce and stylish, and utterly gripping even though there's the nagging sensation that nothing is happening under the surface. Thankfully, the actors add plenty of terrific texture to their characters.
It's set in Atlanta, where Terrell (Chiwetel Ejiofor) leads his crew of thugs (Anthony Mackie, Clifton Collins Jr., Aaron Paul and Norman Reedus) through a riotously dangerous bank robbery. They're working for the cold-hearted Russian mobster Irina (Kate Winslet), who demands an even bigger heist before she'll pay them. Terrell has a child with Irina, so feels like he has little choice in the matter, but his team is made up of unstable hotheads and corrupt cops who have their own opinions. One of the cops also has a new partner in Chris (Casey Affleck), a tenacious good guy who's the nephew of a cynical detective (Woody Harrelson) who's just beginning to crack this case. So the gang decides to distract the city's police force with a triple 9, code for a downed officer, while they carry out their next elaborate robbery. The question is who will take the bullet.
Matt Cook's script is a bundle of mad twists and turns, usually the result of impulsive gang members who act without thinking. The tension is very high, as each person's morality is warped at every turn. All while Chris tries to remain upright in the middle of a storm he doesn't quite understand. Each character is up against a wall, ready to do whatever it takes to survive in a situation that is getting increasingly out of control. And without more subtext, or at least a sense of these people's back-stories, no one on-screen is very likeable.
Continue reading: Triple 9 Review
Meanwhile, the movie forces me to reconsider my own, because it spends a lot more time seeming like a good movie than actually being one. For a film with such an ominous, encompassing title, We Own the Night is content to skim the surface of the NYPD, lacking the obsessive attention to detail that distinguishes other crime-heavy glimpses into bygone American eras as diverse as Gangs of New York, Zodiac, or The Assassination of the Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. Even Night's period details feel half-assed and incidental, like background songs that sound more like bits of '90s soundtracks to '80s-set movies instead of 1988 itself. In fact, though an early subtitle says so, the year doesn't even seem to be 1988 in particular but a vague, amorphous "eighties," Wedding Singer style.
Continue reading: We Own The Night Review
The movie makes the same mistakes over and over and eventually drains one's patience, but yet I stuck around because the leads played kids I would have liked to know.
Continue reading: Get Over It Review
That also explains director Nick Hamm's jackhammer approach to his material. He knows he's working with a cheesy campfire story, the kind best whispered to terrified boy scouts in the dead of night. But he's sadly unaware of when enough is enough, and his final act becomes a series of ludicrous scientific explanations offset by cheap jolts to our nervous system.
Continue reading: Godsend Review
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