Monday, January 28, 2019

Shooter (2007)

Synopsis: Deep State fucks with the wrooooooooooong guy. [Come to think of it, that sounds a bit like the Synopsis for The Domino Principle
Blurb From the DVD Jacket: “Get ready for edge-of-your-seat thrills as Mark Wahlberg ignites the screen in his most compelling role yet: the Shooter.” [Yes, this sucker once retailed for the low, low price of only $14.99]
What Did I Learn?: 1) Tennessee is the patron state of “shootin’ stuff.” 2) “There are no sides. There’s no Sunnis and Shiites. There’s not Democrats and Republicans. There’s only HAVES and Have NOTS.” (Wait - didn’t Ned Beatty deliver some eerily similar words in Network?) 3) Nothing, no matter how horrible, ever really happens without the approval of the government. 4) The hassle with democracy is there’s always some confused soul who believes one man can make a difference and you have to kill him to convince him otherwise. 
You Might Like This Movie If: You know that shooters are nothing but trouble.
Really?: 1) I realize Bob Lee Swagger (Wahlberg) is an ex-military guy in top physical shape, but I had a bit of trouble believing he could have accomplished even a fraction of what he did with a bleeding bullet wound. 2) Hold on - Swagger and his partner are actually betrayed by their own government during a top-secret mission in Ethiopia, and the Deep State goons seriously think he’ll agree to work with them again? 3) So, the goons capture FBI dude Nick Memphis, beat the crap out of him, and then attempt to finesse his murder so it looks like a suicide? 4) Gee, aren’t there any easier ways of icing the archbishop than waiting for him to make a speech when he's standing next to the President of the United States? 
Rating: Shooter is an enjoyable, if somewhat predictable, unoriginal and highly contrived thriller (See: “Synopsis,” “What Did I Learn?” And “Really?”). Strangely, the film tries to present itself as edgy and political, but it’s really just a big shoot-em-up. 6.5/10 stars.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

London Boulevard (2010)

I could have used this for my tribute to British Gangster movies in 2014. 
Synopsis: Dangerous dude is released from prison, falls for a woman who’s way out of his league, discovers his best buddy is nothing but trouble, battles powerful crime boss, and gets bumped off by a minor-league scumbag he should have iced weeks earlier. So, it’s basically Carlito’s Way with cockney accents.  
Blurb From the DVD Jacket: “Not every criminal wants to be one.” 
What Did I Learn?: 1) The most powerful fucking thing is to know what can go wrong…for anybody, at any fucking time. 2) You’re not allowed to do more than one thing. 3) Work’s what you do when you’d rather be doing something else. 4) A woman’s job in a film is to get the hero to talk about himself - about his hopes, his fears, maybe even about his fascinating, fucking childhood.
You Might Like This Movie If: You enjoy cruising along a London boulevard. 
Really?: 1) So, Mitchel (Colin Farrell) has an alcoholic sister who’s dating a nice doctor, and his old buddy the homeless guy was recently murdered, there’s some creepy dude stalking his girlfriend, and a disgraced physician wants to pick up some of his belongings from Mitchel’s pad….holy shit, how many underdeveloped characters and subplots does this movie include? 2) Doesn’t Gant (Ray Winstone) have better things to do than harass Mitchel into going to work for him, and then attempting to kill him when he refuses? I didn’t really buy that storyline. 
Rating: London Boulevard is a slow-moving and rather ho-hum crime drama that features a number of very good performances (Farrell shares some tense scenes with Ray Winstone, and I was especially impressed by Ben Chaplin as Farrell’s sidekick Billy), but otherwise suffers from cliched, underdeveloped and unoriginal script (see: "Synopsis" and "What Did I Learn?"). 6/10 stars

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Double Whammy (2001)

Synopsis: Dennis Leary mugs his way through 93-minute underdeveloped cop comedy that’s basically a pilot for his 2001-2002 series, The Job
Blurb From the DVD Jacket: “A comedy abut a detective with everything…but a clue.” 
What Did I Learn?: If a couple of weird guys who always wear red suits ask you to sit in a chair so they can tie you up in order to discuss torture scenarios for a screenplay, just say “no thanks.” 2) Chiropractic medicine has been recognized by the medical community since 1963. 3) White hipsters don’t react well when they’re accused of harbouring subconscious racist thoughts. 
Really?: 1) So, Dimitri (Chris Noth in a send-up of his Law and Order role) realizes Maribel must have had some connection to the two killers, and….nothing? There’s no follow-up to this realization aside from Maribel crying at her father’s bedside? 2) Was there any point behind Jerry (Buscemi) telling Ray (Leary) that he recently checked out his ass? This revelation is mentioned, and never developed further. 
Rating: For a film that features Leary, Buscemi and Hurley, Double Whammy often looks and feels like a low-budget straight-to-video cop comedy. The script is wildly uneven, and loaded with undeveloped storylines and characters (See: “Really”), but I liked the chemistry between Leary and Hurley and Double Whammy isn’t bad for an evening’s entertainment. 6/10 stars.

Kuffs (1992)

I could have used this for my tribute to revenge-themed movies. 

Synopsis: Ne’er do well stirs up trouble when he launches an investigation into his brother’s recent murder….wait, didn’t I just review Get Carter

Blurb From the VHS Jacket: “When you have attitude who needs experience?”
What Did I Learn?: 1) “Love and kisses on all your pink parts” is NOT an acceptable message for a greeting card. 2) Without women, there would be no civilization. 3) Harold Faltermeyer apparently ran out of creative musical ideas after he scored Beverly Hills Cop
You Might Like This Movie If: You'll watch anything that features Bruce Boxleitner
Really?: 1) So, the villain isn’t really into grabbing real estate at a discount, he’s really into art theft, and he wants the rent-a-cops to look the other way? Or is he into both? This isn’t made clear. 2) Is there any reason Maya Carlton (Milla Jovovich) has an Eastern European accent while her parents are wealthy WASPs or are we supposed to overlook that fact? 3) I’m shocked that Ted didn’t bite the dust (or press charges against George for poisoning him) after he drank that coffee laced with a LOT of tranquilizers. 4) Funny how George (Slater) is required to attend the police academy every day while he manages the patrol-special shop, yet aside from one scene of him running along the beach with his colleagues, this is never again mentioned. When does he actually sleep? 
Rating: I hadn’t seen Kuffs since I first watched it in 1992, so I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect when I popped the VHS tape into my machine. Overall, Kuffs is a fun action-comedy that doesn’t always make sense (see: “Really?”), but never takes itself too seriously, either. Check it out if you’ve ever wondered how Slater would handle the role of Axel Foley, or if you really want to enjoy a few minutes of Jovovich dancing in her underwear. 6.5/10 stars.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Horrible Bosses (2011)

Happy New Year! 
Synopsis: Jennifer Anniston interacts with three young men who hate their jobs so much they develop a plot for revenge…no, that’s the Synopsis for Office Space. Um….Kevin Spacey portrays a psychopathically nasty boss who provokes his assistant into a homicidal rage…no, that’s Swimming With Sharks. Um… three loveable idiots (straight man, fun-loving horndog, and batshit crazy weirdo) get into a lot of trouble after drinks one night…no, that’s The Hangover
Blurb From the DVD Jacket: “For Nick (Jason Bateman), Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) and Dale (Charlie Day), the only thing that would make the daily grind more tolerable would be to grind their intolerable bosses into dust.” 
What Did I Learn?: 1) Life is a marathon and you cannot win a marathon without putting a few band-aids on your nipples. 2 ) You don’t put a playground next to a bar. 3) No one’s going to pay you to be a husband, unless you marry Oprah. 4) There’s no law on the books against putting people’s toiletries up your ass. 5) The secret to success in the corporate world is the ability to take lots and lots of shit. 
You Might Like This Movie If: You've worked for a horrible boss. 
Really?: 1) Horrible Bosses is a screwball comedy that isn’t meant to be taken too seriously, but I had a few problems with the climax – wouldn’t the cops discover the gun was registered to Harken (Spacey), he has gunpowder on his hands, and the bullet in his leg was fired at point-blank range? 2) So, Nick has worked for Harken for what….seven or eight years? Wouldn’t he have sensed much earlier that Harken is a lying SOB who will never promote him, and sent out a few resumes along the way? 
Rating: I wanted to like Horrible Bosses a bit more than I did; Spacey is great as the bane of Bateman’s existence, and the film delivers a few genuinely funny scenes, but I couldn’t help myself from thinking I had seen much of this before (see: “Synopsis”), or that the writers who penned this script and the principal leads were trying too hard for laughs - very little of the dialogue seemed natural or believable. 7/10 stars.