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Tom Cruise -- desperate for a blockbuster hit -- snapped while filming his latest movie, sources say.
The fading superstar's bizarre behavior on the "Knight and Day" set rocked his marriage to Katie Holmes, and crew members feared he was cracking up, according to insiders.
"No one has ever seen Tom so close to the edge," an insider told The ENQUIRER.
The 47-year-old actor startled crew members with his weird tics, and insisted on changing the movie's score just weeks before its June 25 release, said the insider.
"Tom developed this bizarre habit of referring to himself in the third person," the source said. "He'd say things like, 'Tom Cruise is an action star -- he'd never have salsa music in a film!'"
Edge of Tomorrow (2014)
Fantastic entertainment - sleek, witty, humorous, exciting.
People really love to write off Tom Cruise in the press these days, and "Edge of Tomorrow" was getting all kinds of nasty publicity leading up to its release: rumours of re-shoots, bad screenings, etc. Whatever his personal beliefs may be, at the end of the day Cruise is just an actor on screen, and this movie is a firm reminder of what an enigmatic presence he is.
Now in his early 50s, Cruise is making some of the best action films around, and Edge of Tomorrow is no exception. Based on a manga novel published in Japan, the plot is essentially Groundhog Day by way of Starship Troopers or...something like that.
The movie's low point is when it tries to explain too heavily the process by which Cruise's character is able to relive the same day over and over again, because at the end of the day it's just a Macguffin to be able to explore the concept. But the movie's strength is that it places its human story first (as corny as that may sound), as Cruise's character undergoes an emotional and physical transformation. It also features a highly capable female lead, brought to life by the charismatic Emily Blunt. If this were a Michael Bay film, the role would have existed solely as a love interest, but this movie doesn't succumb to such banal (and frankly, sexist) tripe. She is a worthy presence alongside Cruise and is one of the strongest sci-fi heroines since Sigourney Weaver in Alien.
Speaking of which, that's the other movie this reminded me of: Aliens. Bill Paxton chewing up the scenery as a drill sergeant probably had something to do with that.
I loved this movie. I saw it three times. Despite the press writing it off as a colossal bomb upon release due to its modest opening, it had spectacular legs, and crossed $100 mil domestic. It ultimately wasn't the box office behemoth the studio may have wished for, but people using it as evidence of Cruise's 'failing career' may be wise to look at the full picture: its worldwide gross ranks it as one of his highest money- makers ever.
This movie will develop a following on home video and I wouldn't be surprised if they somehow attempt to revisit it one day, whether it's through a lower budget prequel or a spin-off or another manga. Who knows. They should probably leave well enough alone, because it's that rare sci-fi summer blockbuster that has it all: brains, wit and thrills. All the people who flocked to the latest Transformers movie would have been doing themselves a favor by seeing this instead.
Dumb and Dumber To (2014)
One of the most disappointing and unsatisfying experiences I've had at the theater
I'm going to preface this review by stating the obvious (and what no doubt some may be quick to point out in defense of the sequel): look, it's "Dumb and Dumber" we're talking about here; not "Citizen Kane". But I feel like that disclaimer only goes so far, because frankly, the original "Dumb and Dumber" is one of the funniest films I've ever seen -- endlessly quotable, thoroughly likable. The key to the movie, I think, is that there's an underlying sweetness to the humor: Lloyd and Harry (Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels) are never presented as malicious. Most of the bad stuff that happens to them is inadvertent, and often at the expense of trying to do a good deed (e.g. Lloyd trying to return the briefcase).
The new movie left me with a bad taste in my mouth, and it wasn't just the cheap, garish, ugly cinematography (the movie literally has the appearance of a Funny or Die or SNL sketch, with brightly lit, obvious set pieces; frankly, it has the aesthetics of a soap opera).
What left me reeling was the movie's cruel streak -- it turns Harry and Lloyd into deliberately mischievous cretins, and the inherent humour is drained from any potential scenarios as a result of their self- awareness. Roger Ebert used to talk about this a lot in his reviews -- it's only funny if the character isn't aware of what he's doing. So when Lloyd and Harry accidentally poison the hit-man hired to kill them in the original Dumb an Dumber, it's funny; when they deliberately sabotage a convention in "Dumb and Dumber To," screaming at a woman to show them her naked body, or gleefully discuss being responsible for a man's death in front of his parents, it's...not funny. It's immature, it's crass, and most importantly, *it goes against the very thing that made these characters funny in the first place!*
I find it hard to believe all these original cast and crew members could re-assemble for a film 20 years later and so completely misunderstand the appeal of their own movie.
Beyond the inherent lack of humor in the mean-spirited hijinks these characters get themselves into this time around, many of the film's one- liners and jokes just aren't funny either. Sorry, but no matter how many times you repeat it, using the word 'butthole' isn't really that amusing.
The film also lazily falls back on repeating some of the original film's plot points and, indeed, one-liners (e.g. Lloyd's "I like it a lawwwt" or the mannerisms he makes when mixing a drink, identical to the first film). It confuses homage for humour, recycling gags without providing them in a fresh context, which simply reminds us of how much funnier they were the first time around.
And then there are the performances. The Farrellys said Jim Carrey hadn't seen the original movie for something like 15 years before agreeing to doing the sequel, and I'm not surprised. He doesn't seem to remember the comic energy he imbued Lloyd with in the original film; instead, he turns Lloyd into an unlikable, borderline creepy manchild with overly exaggerated stupidity and mannerisms. I think the simplest way of summarizing the mistake here is that they jumped the shark from 'dumb' to 'willfully stupid.' And, again to paraphrase the late Mr Ebert, this is the difference between funny and not funny.
This movie is not funny. It's not even mildly amusing in the manner in which I expected a long-delayed sequel may be. If it had been lazy and fallen back on repeating gags from the original film, fair enough; if it contained the same sweet-natured spirit of the original movie, then maybe that would have been its saving grace. Instead, it's not only unfunny, it's egregiously nasty and vile, and when I left the theater I just immediately wanted to wash the taste out.
I remember seeing "Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd" years ago in theaters, hating it, and thinking how much better it would have been if they had convinced Jim Carrey to come back for a proper sequel. Imagine my surprise 11 years later that this movie doesn't have a single scene as funny as that one's Bob Saget cameo. What a complete and utter let- down this movie was.
The Expendables 3 (2014)
Poorly edited and, most importantly, lacking fun!
I was really excited for EX3 for some reason. I didn't care much about the PG-13 rating -- based on the trailer and the inclusion of fresh talent behind the lens, I thought Stallone was trying to take the franchise toward a Fast&Furious action film route, and I didn't necessarily have a problem with that if it turned out well enough. Plus, I miss Mel Gibson (if we judged actors on their personal lives there wouldn't be many fanclubs left) so the idea of seeing him chew up scenery as a villain sounded fun.
But the movie...just sucks. The editing is bad. Patrick Hughes perhaps was overwhelmed with the $100 mil budget and didn't know how to handle the action sequences, or perhaps they were just toned down for the PG-13 rating, but they're often so quickly and chaotically chopped up that you can't even tell what's going on. The stunts have become self-parody (just witness Terry Crews flying through the air like he can fly during that car chase early on), and the movie lacks a fun narrative. It also lacks suspense.
The introductions of the actors are so poorly handled. Arnold appears just randomly standing around in the back of a shot in a hospital. Huh? His appearance in EX2 was great. The sense of build-up is similarly lacking when Mel Gibson just stumbles into frame along with a bunch of other bad guys, or when Harrison Ford just shows up to grumble some Bruce Willis disses and then disappears for the rest of the movie... or when Jet Li just randomly appears next to Arnie for a single scene before peacing out.
Wesley Snipes fares the best but that's not saying much. Gibson does the villain routine well enough but the role and the story background for his character just isn't fresh or deep enough to care too much about, so the big showdown between he and Stallone lacks even the dramatic weight of the surprisingly effective and dramatic Jean Claude Van Damme fight in EX2.
Look, ultimately none of these movies have been great. Expendables 1 looked like a straight-to-DVD movie with horrible, bleak cinematography and lighting, but it scored a couple cool moments, like the church scene and that otherwise out-of-place epic Mickey Rourke monologue. (Speaking of which, Rourke is sorely missed.)
EX2 went more for the comedy route which worked well enough, and it was a fun one-time viewing. Neither movies were particularly memorable, but they had memorable moments.
EX3 had the opportunity to take the franchise in a new direction, but instead, it comes across as totally cold, cynical and calculated. It's also just not any fun. When Kelsey Grammar shows up to start bringing in the younger 'tech-savvy' recruits, I found myself surprised by how utterly bored I was. Guys like Kellen Lutz are black holes of charisma with little acting talent, so for them to take up a good portion of the movie's runtime is a crying shame.
Ultimately, the PG-13 rating has nothing to do with the movie's faults, apart perhaps from the choppy action scene editing. Where the movie truly fails is that it is a giant moot point. The entire point of the Expendables is bringing back '80s action icons and having them go to war. By relegating them to supporting characters and bringing in younger recruits? That undermines the entire point of the franchise, and makes it seem like a very cynical attempt at moving forward with a younger cast to take over the reigns in the future. But that's not why people are paying to see these movies, as evidenced by its dwindling box office returns.
I love Schwarzenegger, but this is one of his worst movies.
"Sabotage" looked amazing on paper, and at one point early on in production, it was one of my most highly-anticipated action films. First of all, you've got David Ayer coming fresh off the critical and commercial success of "End of Watch," one of the best cop films in recent memory; then you've got a pretty good supporting cast (Worthington, Howard and Manganiello are fine enough for the kinds of roles they're playing here). But mostly you've got Arnold playing his least quintessential role -- what I mean by this is that, over the years, even in his more dramatic fare, Arnold has always enjoyed self- posturing and falling back on his reputation when he plays characters. There's nothing wrong with that, but at a certain point, the wink-wink, nudge-nudge stuff gets a bit repetitive; I thought "Last Stand" was a fun spaghetti western, but it was Arnold playing an older Arnold, complete with the "I'll be back" puns and jokey homages to older films.
What excited me about "Sabotage" was that it appeared Arnold had taken a decidedly un-Arnold role, which is to say that most any other aging, dry actor could have taken this on. From the haircut to the makeup (grizzled and riddled with tattoos), this was NOT Arnold playing Arnold. Apart from one throwaway line about a character's "48 percent body fat," this is the first time - maybe since the original Terminator - that Arnold has attempted to play someone other than himself, really, unless you count failures like End of Days, but even then he had a bit of the tongue-in-cheek stuff going on (and the film was crap to boot).
But what made it even more interesting was that, at the same time, the movie shared the whole Agatha Christie and-then-there-was-one plot device that "Predator" made use of. So it was kind of an interesting thing -- we've got a similar set up (an elite gang of mercenaries being picked off one-by-one by an unseen foe, with Arnold left trying to defend himself and his men) but a completely different approach in both tone and character.
With that in mind, I'm very sorry to say that Sabotage not only is a crushing disappointment, but ranks with some of Arnold's worst movies. I mean, I don't know how to describe it other than... this film left a really bad taste in my mouth.
As for Arnold? I love the guy, but maybe this is why it was best for him not to have attempted to play characters much beyond his own image. He tries, but his more earnest line readings are often pretty stiff and unnatural, and it must be said: he's just not really that believable in the role. Chalk it up to the accent, the mediocre line delivery, or the lack of chemistry with his cast members, but there's just something missing here, and as the film drags on you begin to realize how awkwardly cast it is with him in the lead. That pains me to say because I'm a fan of the guy and I was really excited to see him play a more unusual role, and thought it was a wise career move on his part to move beyond the wink-wink roles like Expendables and Escape Plan, but... maybe I was wrong.
But maybe it's not just Arnold. There's ultimately something very crass and callow about this film, and it's not just because it's overly violent, but rather, I think, because of how gleefully it tends to display the violence. It's not that strong violence bothers me, but compare how it was used in Predator to how it is used in Sabotage. Part of it may be the contrast between the ultra-realistic violence (think End of Days with the gritty hand-held style camera work and realistic- looking bullet wounds) and the absolutely ridiculous action sequences in the film (the movie's car chases are pretty poorly executed and unbelievable).
I don't know. I wanted to love this movie. It ended up being so distasteful to me that I couldn't even enjoy it as a guilty pleasure, and it lacks the goofy retro charm of something like Escape Plan so ultimately it just comes across as a forgettable attempt at a modern action thriller with a bungled approach both in front of and behind the camera. Given the talent involved this is definitely one of the biggest "What went wrong?" head-scratchers in recent memory. A shame, because if you look at this film on paper it reads like it could have been one of the Austrian Oak's finest rather than one of his worst.
True Detective (2014)
The McConnaissance continues and HBO has another potential all-time classic.
Matthew McConaughey has truly been on a roll lately. After scene- stealing roles in Killer Joe, Bernie and Magic Mike, he followed up with a brilliant lead performance in Jeff Nichols' Mud, another scene- stealing cameo in Scorsese's Wolf of Wall Street, and a potentially Oscar-winning lead role in Dallas Buyers Club, one of the best films of 2013.
Somewhere in among all those projects he managed to film this HBO miniseries with old pal Woody Harrelson. The result is revolutionary and gripping: an eight-episode miniseries with two huge actors, with a relatively small cast and crew behind it. This is essentially a movie split up into a mini-series but with the concept that each 'season' will feature two new A-list actors. HBO continues to set the bar high for cable programming and storytelling in general.
True Detective just finished up its fourth episode, the strongest yet, which featured an epic six-minute-long one-shot camera take (they may have used some clever editing a la Children of Men but the end result is impressively seamless). This is a great mix of wonderful acting, solid script-writing, and impressive technical direction. The tone of the show is hauntingly eerie and makes good use of its southern locale.
All in all, this could easily go down as one of HBO's premier programs and two of the best performances of its lead actors' respective careers. Who would have ever thought McConaughey would have been in this position a few years ago? Talk about a career revival.
Panders almost exclusively to the die-hard fans -- which is good news if you're a die-hard fan.
I enjoyed "Pitch Black" when it came out in 2000 but admittedly never got around to seeing the higher-budgeted sequel, which was both a commercial and critical under-performer in 2004. There probably never would have been another sequel if the Fast and Furious franchise hadn't reinvigorated Vin Diesel's star power -- he is if nothing else quite a wry businessman, and, as a producer of the 'Fast' series, which has been hugely successful for Universal, part of his contract stipulation for signing on to films six, seven and eight was that the studio would fund a third Riddick movie.
Thus, after many years, we have another film featuring the character Riddick. Listening to fans who were underwhelmed by the PG-13 wannabe- franchise over-reaching of the second movie, Riddick apparently returns to the roots of Pitch Black, with plenty of foul language, ultra- violence and full-frontal female nudity within the first 20 minutes, all basically just to titillate fanboys who cried afoul of the PG-13 rated first sequel.
The beginning of the movie is quite good, as it features Riddick (Diesel) trying to survive on an alien planet. This extended sequence eventually comes to an end, which is a shame, because it's the best part of the movie.
Then we get a very fan-oriented you-won't-understand-it-if-you-are-a- casual-fan storytelling device that thrusts Riddick into a man-vs-team- of-mercenaries scenario reminiscent of the original movie. Problem is, it's never quite as thrilling or fun as the first movie, and the glaringly poor CGI (it was funded on a relatively low budget with plenty of obvious green-screening) really detracts from the experience.
Riddick is by definition a vanity project for its star, as he literally demanded the studio fund it in order to star in another one of their pictures, and it's clear that both Diesel and director/writer Twohy love Riddick and attempt to truly mythologize the character, framing him stoically and often displaying his actions in a kind of prophetic slow- motion glory. At a certain point it becomes increasingly laughable and kind of awkward and it's clear that Diesel and Twohy were both surrounded by too many yes-men (in fact, they probably were each other's yes men) and someone should have intervened to bring them down to earth a little bit.
The action isn't particularly great, the effects are atrocious, and it's never as simplistically fun as the original Pitch Black because it tries to tie in waaay too many mythologies and story lines within its own universe.
What this all means is that, for the minority of die-hard fans of the franchise/character, "Riddick" the movie will be exactly what they want. But for casual fans like myself and the majority of movie-goers -- who perhaps saw the first one or two films in the series but don't recall every minute detail of the franchise's universe -- it will prove to be a frustratingly alienating experience, akin to a non-Trekkie watching one of the lesser "Star Trek" movies from 15 - 20 years ago, when they were so self-reliant upon their own closed world that they completely failed to connect with the mainstream.
I'm not bashing Riddick for being fan-serving -- it is, after all, a vanity project made almost exclusively for fans, and I'm happy for them if this is the movie they waited 10 years for. I will say, however, that for casual filmgoers, it will prove to be a frustrating experience, and many recent sci-fi series (like the "Trek" reboot) have proved that it's possible to make great entertainment that panders to die-hard fans while still pleasing the casual movie-goer. "Riddick" may have done better financially and critically if it had attempted the latter.
Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa (2013)
Back of the net!
Alan Partridge has been through a very interesting evolution, both as a character and in terms of the comedic format he is presented in. He began as a kind of sleazy talk-show host on radio program The Day Today, which carried over into the extremely funny (and uncomfortable) talk show parody "Knowing Me Knowing You" on TV, before transferring to a sitcom format for a 30-minute scripted series following him after the cancellation of his TV show. "I'm Alan Partridge" tweaked the character a bit, presenting him less as a young and greasy talk host and as more of an older, failed dimwit, retaining his trademark narcissism but making subtle changes to his attire. This was, for my money, the pinnacle of Partridge, as those two series -- the first in '97, the second in '02 -- were comedy masterpieces. Coogan has failed to ever create another character as unforgettable as Partridge, despite the underrated Saxondale.
But something interesting happened within the past few years: Armando Iannucci, reeling from the success of his political comedies The Thick of It and Veep, changed the format for Partridge again. Alan re-emerged in the format of an online radio podcast for Folgers beer, which was called Mid Morning Matters. Lacking the laugh track or the typical broad strokes of Alan's humour, this could have been a huge backfire -- but it actually presented a very interesting new side to Alan, a dryer, more subtle side.
The shift in tone may be jarring to some viewers who are coming to the movie fresh from the old TV show, but rest assured, Alan is still very funny. The movie is a smashing success. Hilarious from start to finish, it's framed in a way that assures -- as it parodies action film tropes - - it will be very funny even to casual audiences...but particularly more-so to longtime Alan fans (how refreshing it was to see Lynn and Michael back again!).
I hope this spawns another film or at least another series. I haven't quite gotten my fix of Alan.
For fans of the movie looking for more, check out Alan's audiobook (read by Coogan in character) which was released a year or two ago. Very funny stuff, and a great companion piece to the movie.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine (2013)
Shows a lot of promise - a very likable new sitcom.
I'm confused by the reviewer (whose comment was featured on the IMDb page just now) who seemingly despised this program and wrote it off, apparently, because he or she felt Andre Braugher deserved better.
I find this review odd, because "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" - if nothing else - comes across as a very likable show.
Thankfully spared of talking-head interview segments that have dominated the American comedy scene since The Office, this show also thankfully features no laugh track. Thus, it both has the feel of an old-fashioned sitcom without the dated quality of one. It's actually quite a clever premise: it's a "cop show" but set in the workplace environment. This is a clever move as the show is able to subvert some of the stereotypical police procedural elements while also keeping stuff grounded and relatable by keeping the majority of the antics constrained to the police station.
The cast is talented all across the board. One thing you might find as the show grows is that Andy Samberg will become more subdued in his approach. I say this because as of now he is clearly the "star" of the show and, as such, he's often given a lot of LOUD dialogue -- but this also happened to the Leslie Knope character in "Parks and Recreation," and she ended up organically evolving into a much smarter and more likable character. I think once Brooklyn Nine-Nine finds its own footing and more firmly establishes its characters, things will settle into place. It's still a bit shaky but it's just the freshman season flaws. Very few comedy shows are at their best in their first seasons.
I'm enjoying this quite a lot so far - it's not must-see-TV or anything of the sort, but it's likable, entertaining and shows a lot of promise. The talented cast really elevates the material and the show manages to subvert cop show clichés and workplace TV comedy tropes without seeming overly cynical or snide about it. That's really the best word I can think of summing it up with: likable.
Hello Ladies (2013)
A promising, but flawed, beginning
When I saw ads for "Hello Ladies" in a men's magazine, I was pretty excited. I have a love-hate relationship with Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant: I think "The Office" is brilliant, "Extras" unfairly maligned, and am most of all a fan of their podcast series with Karl Pilkington. But they can also be off-putting: Gervais at times seems like he has transformed into his egotistical character David Brent, and Merchant has seemed suspiciously detached from their last few outings together (I'm not into rumor-mongering, but I'd be remiss to mention he was absent from the last series of An Idiot Abroad altogether, as well as the "Learn English with Ricky Gervais and Karl Pilkington" web series -- not to mention they haven't released any new podcasts in a few years now, all signs pointing to a desire on his part to leave the past behind).
Merchant seems like he's struggling to break free of the Gervais association, and so this HBO series (which is co-produced, incidentally, by Eisenberg and Stupinsky, the guys behind the American adaptation of The Office) finds him running solo. Merchant, like Gervais, excels at awkward situational humor. This series at times is extremely cringe-worthy, just like the greatest moments of The Office and Extras.
Here are some problems, though:
Merchant's character, as many critics have noted, is fairly unlikeable. This worked for Gervais as Brent because he was first and foremost a supporting character in the larger picture -- Tim and Dawn's relationship was what gave the series a backbone and a heart, and Brent was allowed to kind of seep into the program through the corners and find his own emotional core. But if The Office had just been about Brent being a miserable boss every episode, I do think the show wouldn't have resonated quite as strongly. Brent was also unaware of his own horrible actions, whereas Merchant's character in Hello Ladies seems happily self-aware.
The key to making a series like this is to have the main character be relatable to audiences. As a single 20-something young professional, I can relate to the single club scene and the frustrations of a bachelor lifestyle. Merchant wisely exaggerates the pathetic underbelly of the Los Angeles nightlife, with aspiring actresses and sleazy guys trying to work their way up the social ladder.
But instead of allowing his character to find himself lost in this haze, Merchant actually makes his character even more unlikeable than many of the people he's ostensibly doing social battle with.
This produces a stream of inconsistency in the character which is hard to shake. An example: in the first episode of the show, Merchant's character, creepily trying to hit on a beautiful woman way out of his league, inadvertently spends hundreds of dollars ordering drinks at a swanky nightclub. This is played for laughs, but never for a moment does he hesitate the way a normal person might: he puts the drinks on his tab and keeps trying to hit on her.
But in episode three, he takes a really cute girl out on a date (a girl many might say is out of his league, mind) who keeps trying to initiate conversation with him. But he can't focus on the conversation because he's too distracted by the high price of the wine bottle (he frequently excuses himself to privately tell the waiter that the $70 bottle is too expensive).
OK, let's consider this for a moment. Is it funny? At face value, yes, because all of us can relate to a situation where we've been casually forced into spending way more than we want to, especially during something like a first date. But it doesn't jibe with the character, because just two episodes earlier, he was willing to spend hundreds and hundreds of dollars on a girl who he had far less of a chance of sleeping with.
In another episode, Merchant's character is doing yoga and cockily hits on a beautiful woman next to him. But in other episodes, his ineptitude and shyness around women is played for laughs. So which is he? An arrogant jerk or a timid geek?
Merchant is so overly focused on making situations awkward that, as a result, his character doesn't ring true, and often the comedy feels quite contrived.
Having said all that, I do enjoy it, and I think there's room for improvement. The leading co-star, played by Christine Woods, really steals the show from Merchant with her easy charm. She's essentially the "straight man" from a comedy perspective and, honestly, her character and her plights are waaay more interesting (and consistent, and realistic) than Merchant's. I like Merchant, but the roles should be swapped if he's not going to develop his character further or make him more likable. I'm four episodes in, and at this point I care way more about Woods' character than Merchant's.
The show is entertaining, though. It's just not anywhere near the level of perfection of The Office or really even quite as funny as The Office. I think Merchant is simply trying too hard and needs to re-evaluate both his character, and where he wants to take the show. If it's just a sleazy, opportunistic guy trying to pick up women every episode (and being cruel and sadistic to his friends in the process), then it'll get old really fast. He needs to give his central character a more empathetic core, and a greater consistency in tone, and allow the awkward situations to evolve organically rather than force them to happen.
I could see these improvements taking place, and hopefully by the end of its first season the show will have evolved into something greater than just a reasonably entertaining program.
Dead in Tombstone (2013)
Mickey Rourke's tombstone.
Man, what happened to Rourke? After "The Wrestler," he had a second act career resurgence that appeared to be another great Hollywood comeback story. He had a string of high-profile blockbuster films -- "Expendables," "Iron Man 2" among them -- and a whole list of films on IMDb that were slated in pre-production, many with large casts and studios.
He swore in all his cover story interviews around the release of The Wrestler that he'd "learned his lesson" the hard way by bad-mouthing Hollywood in the '80s and '90s, and that he wouldn't allow his career to become ruined again, as he had resorted to straight-to-video flicks in the late '90s and early '00s when his career was in truly dire straits. (He claims a narrative that he was out of work entirely for a decade, but the truth is, he was just appearing in really crap films.)
But he didn't heed his own words of wisdom. Within a couple years, these things had happened: he publicly dissed The Expendables 2, claiming he wouldn't return unless they paid him more. He was never cast in the film, and the plot was re-written to involve a younger character in his place. After the worldwide success of EX2, which could have been another franchise for Rourke, a producer on the film was asked whether he'd be back for round three. "Maybe if he doesn't act so crazy," was the reply from the producer. As of September 29th, the third film is in production, and Rourke's name is absent from the cast.
He also publicly bad-mouthed writer/director Martin McDonaugh (In Bruges), claiming he wasn't being paid enough by the "creep" to star in the film Seven Psychopaths; he dropped out, and was replaced by Woody Harrelson. The film wasn't a big hit financially, but critics loved it, and it had a huge ensemble cast. Instead of starring in that film, he starred in a straight-to-video movie with Kellen Lutz...if you don't know who that guy is, it's because he was one of the shirtless vampires in Twilight.
Then he bad-mouthed Marvel Studios, claiming they butchered Iron Man 2. Not a huge deal since his character had no chance of coming back anyway, but it's more burnt bridges. He also annoyed the crap out of Robert Downey Jr on the set of the film (RDJ went out on a limb for him and fought to have him cast in the film after Rourke's pay demands were deemed too high by Marvel, btw); apparently his Method Acting routine was hugely obnoxious to cast and crew, as he demanded odd flourishes such as blaring Gnarls Barkley's song "Crazy" at full volume before filming every one of his scenes.
My point of this long-winded rant is that Mickey Rourke has essentially ruined what could have been a golden opportunity comeback to fulfill his early potential as one of the great actors of all time, and now he has resorted to starring in utter dreck like this film, which is an absolutely abysmal production and something that any actor should be embarrassed to list on their resume.
It's a standard revenge flick, set in a western atmosphere. It is poorly made (the low budget stands out at every turn), poorly acted (Anthony Michael Hall is the villain - enough said), and poorly shot (the lighting is atrocious at times). Danny Trejo has experienced some kind of grindhouse-type career revival thanks to Robert Rodriguez, but he's best buried as a minor character in ensemble films, and he does not have the charm or charisma to carry a full-length picture.
The only remotely interesting thing about this film? Rourke plays the devil incarnate. Which, if you've ever seen his 1987 psychological thriller "Angel Heart," is an interesting twist. Unfortunately this film isn't remotely similar to Angel Heart in any other regard, which was one of the best films of the 1980s in this humble critic's opinion; Dead in Tombstone, by contrast, is Dead On Arrival (har, har) and a truly bad film.
Rourke, you only have yourself to blame for this.