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John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017)
Bullet Ballet at its finest
When I saw the first movie, I thought: this is something new. Someone took the real hardcore action movies from the past, where people use handguns like extension of their hands, kill and keep dropping bodies like nothing. Usually, those movies end up to be campy, unbelievable and quite bad, especially on the story and sfx side.
John Wick was the exception in a long time. A tortured soul, who has to do what he has to do, because other force him. And he does it with style and determination.
The second chapter takes the setting from the first one and adds more on everything. Brilliant shot, gorgeously lighted, nice locations. And intense and insane action, where the bullets fly and the main actor performs a ballet of (gun) raw fight sequences you simply have to see. And there is, by all means, even humorous moments where you would least expect it.
In the seemingly endless barrel that is replaceable, cutout superhero action, John Wick is a class of its own. I saw many groups of women without male dates in my packed cinema. Which means that this series delivers more than just action. It delivers an fresh experience, and the second film fixes probably all problems the first had. This is not ordinary.
For quite some time, action fans had troubles to agree "whats a good action movie?" if asked. Look at the reviews. This one is easy. Its relentless, its beautiful in its own way - and has an Keanu Reeves, who simply owns the role of an legendary assassin and never lets it go. 9/10. Must see for action fans.
Kill Switch (2008)
One of Seagal worst
Oh my. Seagal had his share of duds, but this movie is just too much.
Seagal plays this cop that sees things that other don't, behaves like a professional even over focused on his job (and with a mumbled accent) - and on the other side he is the worst in action sequences ever seen (and he has an obvious unlimited supply of handgun clips).
He not only hunts down one serial killer, but suddenly there is a side plot with a second one, which sometimes becomes the first one. Plus there is a female FBI agent that probes his "over aggressive" cases. And his "wife" that feels unattained. Did I mention the same flashback about something in youth that is probably played 10 times? The plot goes in so many places that you wonder what is really going on.
Then the action scenes: they drag on, as if (just for example) someone falls down five stairs hard one after the next - and still has the power to fight for minutes. I also wonder where this city/place is where this movie is located: it looks and feels like a grim place without hope and every second guy is a sick madman; with a police force thats is clearly clueless and useless.
Seagal gives his usual wooden performance and the others just drag by. Isaac Hayes is a nice touch, but wasted. The most embarrassing thing about this movie is: Seagal wrote it himself.
3 of 10. If you really need to watch a direct-to-video movie from Seagal, grab one of the newer Keoni Waxman. They make - at least - sense and are way less confusing.
Campy, non-serious fun
As a fan of wacky action scifi, this movie supposedly has it all: strange storyline, offbeat main character, a campy setting. The fx is well made, it looks expensive and well shot. Guy and Maggie, the main cast, do their job well. But then things happen - and you wonder why they happen. And you can't shake off the feeling they sold themselves and everything short.
Much is there to make an exceptional scifi movie, including believable looking sets and grounded characters; in a well designed mix of fun, action and seriousness (not to forget good twists!). But they never reach 'that' perfect point, because they make unnecessary shortcuts - or they never believed that they really can pull "it off". So they went the other route: the wacky, the campy, sometimes even the trashy.
At the end, its a well made fun ride for scifi aficionados, for people who need an 'easy en-tree' for their "scifi evening", before they put in a quality scifi with more than 7.0/10 on IMDb.
The franchise lives
I only review movies that had some sort of effect on me. This movie did.
James Bond is back, and, instead letting Daniel Craig hunting the gang from the last flicks in another action firework, he hunts ghosts from the past: his. And "M"s.
Sam Mendes was a slightly controversial selection. MGM had no choice. They had to deliver something fresh to the table of modern agent flicks.
He did more than service to the franchise. Brilliantly shot, in much "closer" view then any of the films before. He showed depth, he delivered a more human Bond, who is showing his age - and the knowledge, that there is no simple exit plan for people like him. With the sharp writing of Purvis and Wade, this movie adds another layer to the question: why is 007 needed? Why does he exists? And who controls the chessboard with pawns like him? Is there even a political context? Some of these questions are answered, but it opens a box of new questions even someone like James Bond can't run away from.
This brings us to the 'insanity' that is played by Javier Bardem. What ever people thought about him, this is "his" Dark Knight moment. Like Ledgers legendary Joker, he breathes Silva, the ghost from the past, a worthy adversary. Not because another doomsday-device, but because he knows Bonds fears. Because Money, Guns, Computers, People...are only tools in his lunacy, in his quest to make everybody "understand" what he has to say.
Some shots with him are pure cinematic gold, comical, frighting, absurd. He is even channeling some of Bonds old adversaries like Scaramanga or Max Zorin. Mendes gives the actors room to breathe and reaps the benefits ten times.
People will continue to talk about this movie for ages. Everybody was stunned by the performance. When I left the cinema, many popcorn bags were left, half full. There was something else to do. Experiencing a well refreshed franchise, with a old Bond with lots of new wounds.
Who still has a job to do. And one or two stories to tell. My best movie of 2012.
The Kate Logan Affair (2010)
Interesting idea, but bad execution
I'm a big fan of Alexis since Gilmore Girls. I watch all her movies.
This something less entertaining. The story begins well. The characters are there, the setting. One, a small town cop, played Alexis, and one french visitor/tourist, played by Laurent. But the writer didn't know what to do with them.
How they come together, why all the things happen, it feels forced, it feels way to convenient to be believable. Its OK to have one bad judgment as a character. Maybe two. Even three. But a chain of bad judgments, not out of emotion or situation, but just why there is no other way to advance the story? People should react as people, not as cutout characters following a script. How everything goes down and the final "words", its way to contrived. In no way this would happen like that. Especially foreigners wouldn't go down this route by any measurement.
The characters are played OK. I have wished Alexis would do something else than this. Just for her I give an extra point for trying. If you are a true fan and need to watch all her works, wait for this when it comes in the early morning repeat on public TV.
Dream Man (1995)
Strange mixture of ideas
In the mid nineties, lots of those movies where made. They usually run direct-to-video with some contemporary stars. Mix in a cop-scenario, interesting "girls", some action plus a small spoon of mystery/esoteric dust - and voilà you have a flick good enough for the video stores shelf for a rainy Saturday night.
I loved to see Patsy Kensit, and especially Denise Crosby. They tried best to be into the characters. Unfortunately, later you can see "trough" the plot somehow by the way the characters try to overact some of the less "believable" plot twists. That's more the problem of the script, which lefts lots questions open at the end.
The director seemed not to know which way to spin the story, so it wiggles drunken between psychology, cop-story and a little x-files. I also think there is too much repetition of the always the same (light) nudity scenes to fill the movie length up. I was saddened by the way they handled the showdown - there was MUCH more into this.
As a fan of movies in that time period, I can still give em a 5/10 on it, because they tried. But times have changed. I would only watch it on free TV if you are an fan of Patsy or Denise.
Dirty Money (1995)
Cheap, brainless, but somehow entertaining flick
This thing is a low budget movie from the nineties. The actors really try to stick on character, and that gives the flick a nice pace. Both main actors try their best with this, and you see how much fun they have. I completely doubt some of the most exaggerate scenes, but this is a script problem with most of the (low?) budget movies of that time.
But this movie has some nice unusual twists and plot lines. Some elements of story developments are surprising, some way over the edge. This thing is a acceptable entertainment when it comes up on free TV in a sleepless rainy night. But it's to cheaply made to be recommended for conscious viewing. There is much better, even low budget stuff, out there than that.
I always wonder how they get money to shoot those films...
I like Dolph Lundgren. And I like a lot more of that "A Minus-Movie" stars. I never understand how they do movies like this. (Maybe that's the reason Dolph Lundgren started to direct his own movies recently) This movie is a mimic of the old "Die Hard" theme. This time in a school. But the supposed "terrorists" are total freaked out punks. Some could do some decent movie out of this plot, but here it fails. Dolph plays an ex-soldier, but then he makes the same errors a frightened normal person would make. If you had a very bad day and need some cheap fun, you can watch Dolph running around in a High School set kicking other peoples 'back'. But just ignore the blatant goofs and this truckload of illogic that seems to be common in "that type" of movies.
Good actors wasted on a schematic story
I like the settings and the characters. Its quite the complex part writing a thriller to give it a good "picture". But I can't take if they start punching loopholes into the story to accommodate the writing; I can't stand characters that seem to be three dimensional beings starting to act strangely to "fit" into schematic story development. But when you start to lower the expectations and give "into the flow", the result is quite entertaining. Harmon and the other cast deliver good performances for the "setting" and I have to admit, that the the showdown teared me more than I hoped. If you catch it on TV in the night and like to watch some easy schematic thrill with a little end surprise, you won't be disappointed - I have seen *much* worser. But I wouldn't take this out of a DVD-rental store... 5-6 Stars.
Wasted possibilities in plot and characters
Maybe some mild spoilers ahead...
I have no explanation, how you can blow such prospects and ideas in such a crazy way. Dark monks, a old monastery, unbelievable long old tunnels, nazi-stuff, theological backdrop...what a good story could have been possible ? I should have been warned, j.c. Grange the author of the pretty good first movie only "supplied" the characters, Mr. Besson himself fumbled around the rest. If I skip recounting some plot/continuity errors here, I see a pretty visual movie with lots of open ideas, stunning locations and a mythical theme plus a cast which COULD handle a REAL coke, not the coke light decaf served here! Some of the scenes feeled like time fillers which no use than to show that one of the main characters has a trained body. The real problem thought, was the...argh..."ending". But enough ranting - Mr. Besson has way too many open projects on his list (see yourself), the possible result here is the visible lack of depth and story direction. Conclusion: a technically good made thriller for a rainy evening, when you have a too scary girlfriend for heavyweight breathtakers. Probably 6/10, one point bonus for a slightly unchallenged Jean Reno. I hope the never misuse the name again for a baddier third part...
-michael (from europe)