Sunday, August 17, 2014

Puerto Vallarta Squeeze

Starring: Scott Glenn, Vikki Carr, Harvey Keitel, & Jonathan Brandis
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Based on the novel by the name, the thriller Puerto Vallarta Squeeze, was a story that never should have happened. No matter how good a film may be, I can not get into it when there is a huge and obvious plot hole. The film wasn't terrible, but it could have been so much better if they had just eliminated the obvious! Scott Glenn stars as a CIA hitman, who after executing his target, kills a potential witness, someone he shouldn't have killed. Following orders, his team leaves him stranded in the small Mexican city of Puerto Vallarta. The hitman needs to get back to the states and decides to pays a couple to take him on a ride to the boarder, never informing them that the Mexican authorities, as well as the CIA, are chasing him. What doesn't make sense to me, is if this guy is such a big time hitman, and he's on the run, why not just steal the car? It really wasn't necessary to drag this couple into it, when all they did was slow him down. This could have been a terrific action thriller, instead it was full of this non-sense, involving this random couple. Scott Glenn stars, and he's one of these guys whose name you don't recognized, but who has had minor roles in huge films for decades. Even I didn't realize until I looked him, but Glenn was in The Silence of The Lambs and The Hunt For Red October. He was very good, but the problem was that it wasn't believable. He wasn't injured, he didn't know these people, and there was no reason for him to take them along. They hindered his getaway and just destroyed the story. Also worth noting is that this was the last film to feature teen heartthrob, Jonathan Brandis, who killed himself in 2003. I've always liked Brandis, as he had a major role in one of my favorite TV shows, Seaquest DSV. He didn't get much work as an adult, which is considered to be one of the major reasons behind his suicide, but it was interesting to see one of his few adult roles. He didn't play a very interesting character, but only ever knowing him as a teen, I really wanted to see what he had become before the tragedy. Puerto Villarta Squeeze had a great back story, but it wasn't the focus of the film. The hitman's interaction with this bizarre couple was, and it just ruined the whole thing.


Starring: Richard Dreyfuss, Eric Roberts, & Anthony LaPaglia
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

For nearly six decades, Meyer Lansky was the brains behind the mafia, and is credited for their rise to power in Las Vegas. While being one of the more interesting criminals to ever live, his role was mainly behind the scenes and the film about his life turned out to be much less interesting than the man himself. Meyer Lansky (Richard Dreyfuss) was a Europen Jew, who fled to America in the early 20th century. Living on the streets of New York, he quickly fell in with the wrong people and started laundering money and bootlegging alcohol for some of New York's biggest gangsters. Lansky along with Lucky Luciano and Bugsy Siegel, formed one of the most profitable organizations in the history of the Mob, and are credited as the first group to officially be refereed to as organized crime. I've always loved mafia movies and did genuinely want to learn more about Meyer Lansky, but the truth is, what he did really wasn't that interesting. He wasn't a boss, he wasn't a hitman, he was basically an accountant, trying to make money for all kinds of nasty people. The film was basically a behind the scenes look at the mob and I found it to be very long and boring. Reclusive veteran, Richard Dreyfuss, takes on the role of Lansky and fits the character like a glove. Dreyfuss even mirrored Lansky's mannerisms and was really very good. From an artistic stand point, Lansky was worth watching, as Dreyfuss wasn't the only one to turn in a powerhouse performance. I went into this film looking for an intense, fast-paced thriller, but what I got was more like some documentary on the mob, that put me to sleep. Everything was as it should be for an epic drama, but the truth is, the man they chose to feature, just wasn't the type of guy that needed to have a film made about his life.

Cleaner (2007)

Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Ed Harris, & Eva Mendes
Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Cleaner was a great film that would have gotten a much higher rating, if not for predictability. There are certain actors, when you see their names in the credits, you know, even before the film starts, that they are the bad guy, and that's exactly what happened here. Samuel L. Jackson stars as a former police officer, who was part of a dirty department. He knew that it would only be a matter of time before he was caught up in the corruption, so he decides to get out. Jackson decides to take on the unique, but very real profession of being a crime scene cleaner. One day, he's given a key and a job to do in an upscale neighborhood. Nothing is out of the ordinary, until the next day when he goes to get paid and discovers that the woman there has no idea what he's talking about. Now Jackson must discover who used him to cover up their crime, who was the victim, and why were they murdered? While I prefer Samuel L. Jackson in a more comedic role, he's just as good in a dramatic one. His strength has always been the ability to carry a film, no matter if it's dramatic or ridiculous. Despite being direct-to-video, Cleaner has a large supporting cast of stars that really help the film. A lot of these films tend to have newcomers backing the veteran star, and their weak performances bring down the quality of even the best written films. Here, Jackson is supported by the likes of Eva Mendes, Luis Guzman, and Ed Harris, all of whom are very believable, and all of whom help move the story along. Cleaner is intense, unique, and interesting, if you haven't seen a lot of film, you may not realize who the bad guy is, five minutes into the film, and you may be really surprised. As for me, it was like watching a movie that some amateur Netflix reviewer already ruined for me, and the suburb ending was lost.

Redemption (2013)

Starring: Jason Statham, Agata Buzek, & Vicky McClure
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

In one of his more recent films, Jason Statham tries out a more dramatic role. While his performance was terrific, this slow moving film leaves a lot to be desired. Joey (Jason Statham) is a war veteran who has returned to a London that is no longer his home. Falling on hard times, Joey is one of a group of homeless drug addicts, that are being terrorized by a group of thugs. While fleeing from another beating, Joey finds a seemingly abandoned, upscale apartment, and sees it as a chance to get back on his feet. The story was interesting, but it moves at a snails pace and is somewhat unbelievable. Statham pretends to be friends with the man who owns the apartment and the neighbors never question it. The film is further harmed by Joey's love interest, who just happens to be a nun. It was a very strange dynamic. Jason Statham was terrific, as a guy who was leading two lives. At one point he's this addict, trying to protect his girlfriend and at another, he's a mob enforcer, doing what he must to find and save her. The character of the nun, while performed admirably by newcomer Agata Buzek, really complicates the story. It was a semi-interesting twist, but it really takes the movie off course for extended periods of time, slowing the film to a halt. I'm a big Jason Statham fan and will watch anything he does, but if I were making recommendations on which of his film to watch, Redemption sadly wouldn't make the cut.

Monday, August 11, 2014

R.I.P. Robin Williams

Movie Recommendations: 
Mrs. Doubtfire
Patch Adams
Dead Poet Society
Good Will Hunting
House of D
August Rush
Good Morning Vietnam

Sunday, August 10, 2014

24: Live Another Day

Starring: Kiefer Sutherland, Yvonne Strahovski, Tate Donovan, Mary Lynn Rajskub, William Devane, Kim Raver, Gbenga Akinnagbe, Michael Wincott, & Benjamin Bratt

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

3 years after the event in New York, Jack Bauer has come out of hiding in London, when he learns of a plot to kill the United States President. Live Another Day appears to be a one shot deal, but as we've seen, the shows popularity means there is always a chance it will pop up again. While Fox has said nothing about the future of the show, Live Another Day did average over 10 million viewers an episode. As I do, I'm sure those fans are hoping that number leads to either the series coming back, a feature film, or simply more mini-series. 

It's hard to imagine 24 taking place in another country and in just 12 episodes, but it didn't matter one bit, because of Kiefer Sutherland. The often criticized actor has found the Midis touch when it comes to Jack Bauer. I mean seriously, have you ever heard of a show that can completely change cast and location every season and still manage to survive? The cast, the location, even the date doesn't matter, because it has been and always will be about Jack Bauer. 

In a strange twist, as kind of a thank you to the fans, many characters from previous seasons have returned for the mini-series, and it only made it that much more enjoyable. Live Another Day features the same Jack, who really hasn't lost a step. It also comes with everything you came to expect from 9 seasons of the hit show. Live Another Day may only have been half as long as the other seasons, but it rivals every single one of them. If you're a fan or even a casual viewer of the show, give yourself a treat and sit down for 12 new episodes of this timeless television classic!

Curse of Chucky

Starring: Brad Dourif, Danielle Bisutti, & Fiona Dourif
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

After 9 years, Chucky has finally returned in his sixth film. After the disaster that was 2004's Seed of Chucky, many fans of the franchise felt that they were owed another film, and they finally got one. The timeline of this film is a bit confusing though, as the characters refer to the events of the past films taking place 25 years ago, even though this film appears to take place before 1998's Bride of Chucky. Nica's family lives a quiet life on the outskirts of town. Her mother is obsessed with the home shopping network, so it's no surprise when a mysterious package shows up at their door. Inside that package, you guessed it, your friend til the end. Curse of Chucky plays more like the old school Child's Play films, rathen than the more recent comedic ones, whoever it does have it's funny moments. It's also unique in some ways, as for the first time the film features flashbacks, and real life appearances by the famed voice of Chucky, Brad Dourif. The story here was more of a tie in to older films that a stand alone sequel, but it gives fans a little bit of everything they've come to expect from Chucky. It may not be one of the best the series has to offer, but it's certainly better than the previous one, and it introduces a new generation to the simplistic genius that is Chucky.