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Captain America is a Three Star General
Does America need another hero? Not a dark brooding hero like Batman. Nor a cocky scientist like Iron Man. Certainly not a weenie teenager like Spider Man. But a hero who wants to be a hero because it is the noble thing to do, to sacrifice himself for God and Country. I think we need someone like that to lift our spirits right now. Is that hero going to be Steve Rogers?
But who is Steve Rogers? Rogers (played by Chris Evans) is a skinny, asthmatic kid from Brooklyn who is trying his hardest to enroll in the US Army during World War II to fight the Nazis. His intentions are honest; he hates bullies and wants to help stop the Nazis. He is discovered by Doctor Erksine (played by Stanley Tucci) who recruits him to be involved in an new experiment to make a super solider for the Army. Rogers willing accepts. Things aren't easy for him in boot camp, although he has heart, he is still a weakling. Think of him as the Rudy of the super hero world. He also has Col. Chester Phillips (played by Tommy Lee Jones) who doesn't want him in his Army. To fix all of this Rogers is injected with a serum to turn him from a bean pole to a mega man in literally minutes.
After the experiment Rogers doesn't become the super hero Captain America we know today. He is in a holding pattern, the Army finds no use of him and he becomes a pitchman selling war bonds in musicals traveling across the US and war torn Italy.
Meanwhile, in Nazi occupied Europe, Super Nazi Johann Schmidt (played by Hugo Weaving) is on his quest to find a blue cube of power so he can supersede from the Nazi army to take over the world himself. He even started his own army, HYDRA, who has a strong belief in folklore and mystical powers.
While in Italy Rogers finds out that his best friend is trapped behind enemy lines and soon he makes a daring decision to save him from HYDRA. It is here Rogers truly becomes Captain America and leads his troops home. It is also revealed that Schmidt has a secret similar to Captain America, they both were experiments of Dr. Erskine. While Rogers became Captain America, Schmidt's experiment didn't go as well and he became Red Skull (I think the name says it all).
The director, Joe Johnston (Jumanji, The Rocketeer) takes a lazy approach to establish Captain America's heroics by gluing together a montage of fight scenes with no real story to back them up. We see a lot of action for a few minutes then go back to the rest of the story of Captain America on the hunt for Red Skull.
Should you see this movie? Sure, being part of the Avengers series makes it somewhat necessary to see it before next year when the Avengers movie is released.
As with Iron Man and Thor, it is still a good stand alone movie (Note to Iron Man fans: we are introduced to Tony Stark's father in this film). There is enough action, humor and romance to hold the story together.
Jones is the stand-out actor in this troupe with his stern but humorous delivery of his lines. He gives the film some pick up when Evans' lines are falling flat.
Spoiler alert: Unlike the other films in this series, don't waste your time waiting for the secret clip after the credits role.
"Thor" the God of Kicking Butt
First off, I do not consider myself a fan boy or a comic book guy. I grew up on Mad Magazine and their clever fold-ins. The only exposure I had to the comic book "Thor" was as a kid I received the free copies from my dentist office. I think it was "Thor vs. the Cavity Creeps" or some lame knock-off like that. When I heard that Thor the God of Thunder was making the transition from comic book to his own big screen movie I was cautious. Who wants to see some guy swing his hammer and speak in Old Norse for two hours? I am man enough to admit when I am wrong (I am also the same guy that doubted "Ironman" would be a huge success). I was wrong for questioning that stage and screen expert Kenneth Branagh ("Henry V," "Much Ado About Nothing"") would not deliver a stellar movie. Branagh has the ability to pull a strong performance from his cast without forcing them to over act. He also has the ability to create a supernatural world, Asgard, where Thor and his family of gods reign. Branagh and his art production team present Asgard as a tangible place for gods to live.
In the first few minutes we begin our story in Norway and discover how the Frost Giants come to earth to destroy humans. King Odin (played by Anthony Hopkins) and his army defeat the Frost Giants. We are soon attending a beautiful ceremony where Odin's son Thor (played by Chris Hemsworth) is about to be crowned king of Asgard. Due to a breach in security the ceremony is cut short. Out of anger and vanity Thor gathers his friends to break a truce with the Frost Giants and launches an attack. After Odin discovers what has happened, he furiously banishes his son to Earth, along with Thor's famous hammer, Mjolnir.
Thor crash-lands on earth where he is no longer the once powerful god; he is just a regular guy (a regular guy who looks like he's been doing P90X since puberty). A scientist, Jane (played by Natalie Portman) and her team literally runs into Thor. Jane is trying to discover a wormhole between our world and others in the universe. The two soon realize that they each have what the other one wants and soon become allies.
This is the part where you should start paying close attention. Not because you get a history lesson on Norse mythology but because Marvel Studios is combining their super heroes to make an "Avengers" movie in 2012. Thor will be one of the Avengers and there are quite a few references of these heroes and characters from the Marvel Universe - Hawkeye, Ironman, Phil Coulson from S.H.I.E.L.D., etc.
Thor, now without his powers, must be reunited with his mighty hammer, which as fate would have is only 50 miles from him. While Thor is fighting to win back his hammer and return to Asgard, his brother Loki (played by Tom Hiddleston), the God of Mischief, is stirring up trouble between the Frost Giants and Asgard. The entire story climaxes in a way that you would imagine with any comic book movie; good vs. evil, cocky hero learns a valuable lesson, several awesome fight scenes, that whole thing.
Should you see this movie? Yes. It's has action, humor and some outstanding art direction to develop the mythical worlds. Do you need to see it in 3D? Not necessarily. The 3D was too dark in some of the action scenes at night and didn't add much to the day time scenes. As a stand alone story "Thor" can hold the audience's attention even if they aren't avid fans of the comic book.
Win Win (2011)
"Win Win" is a Draw.
The average American is overweight. The average American is in credit card debt. The average American is struggling to pay their monthly mortgage. Paul Giamatti understands who the average American is and he understands how to portray the average American on film. He is probably one of the few famous actors who doesn't have to spend a lot of time at the gym preparing for a role. With his "everyman" look, he can deliver an average character in which most middle-aged audience members can relate.
"Win Win" is the latest independent story from director Thomas McCarthy featuring Giamatti as Mike Flaherty, a local attorney in a small town in New Jersey (although, this small town could have been anywhere in the United States). McCarthy did a splendid job of setting the stage of this quaint town. After the first five minutes, I wanted to pull up a chair at the local Dunkin Donuts and have a coffee with the townspeople.
Mike is struggling to make ends meet, yet he has an overwhelming disgust of having to take a regular job to provide for his family. His marriage to Jackie (played by Amy Ryan) is fine but his law practice is struggling. He has a particular client, Leo Poplar (played by Burt Young), who is slipping into dementia and is in need of constant attention. Mike sees an opportunity here. Leo is going to be forced out of his home and into a nursing home. Leo also has quite a bit of money; in fact he pays out a large monthly commission to his caretaker. Mike sees an opportunity to take that monthly commission and put Leo in a nursing home. Mike is a good person with good intentions, but like the rest of the working class folks, he has the common desire to provide for his family.
After Mike puts Leo in his nursing home, we are introduced to Kyle (played by Alex Shaffer, in his only film role to date). Kyle is a runaway from his mother in Ohio. He shows up unannounced and starts taking the focus of the film. Kyle is a strong willed yet extremely quiet and pleasant young man. He also brings with him a mystery of why he left Ohio in the first place.
As part of Mike's contribution to the community he coaches high school wrestling. The wrestling team is lacking in the "wins" category. It turns out that Kyle is an exceptional wrestler. Just what Mike needs. Mike's family takes Kyle in and also starts understanding his story and why he is running away from his mom, who is in a drug rehab facility.
The story moves in the general direction that you would expect from a story like this. Kid runs away from home; mom follows to repair a broken relationship; kid finds out the man that he trusted is a liar; mom wants her dad's monthly commission; conflict arises and a solution is found. I hate to give a broad-brush stroke like that but it's a simple movie that doesn't offer too much excitement. Taking into consideration that it is a movie involving a high intensity contact sport such as wrestling I would expect a little more action and intensity from the pace of the film.
Should you see this movie? Maybe. It does deliver a story with solid acting and character development. I do see Shaffer moving up in his career using this film as a launching pad. During the movie, I kept thinking that he reminds me of a young Sean Penn, not a "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" Penn, but a "Taps" or "Bad Boys" Penn. Shaffer has a recognizable intensity and more importantly a believability to him. This isn't a story about wrestling or a story about deception or even a story about forgiveness. It's a story giving the audience a two-hour window viewing Americana in modern times.
Born to Be Wild (2011)
"Born to be Wild" in IMAX 3D
When it comes to nature documentaries Morgan Freeman is a great go-to-guy for the movie studios. He has a voice that can seem soothing and pleasant to just about anyone.
Freeman narrates the latest IMAX 3D documentary "Born to be Wild" by David Lickley (who also directed "Bears" and "Jane Goodall's Wild Chimpanzees"). For a short 40 minutes Freeman does a first-rate job stirring up many emotions in the viewer. Well, he doesn't do it alone; he has some help from the adorableness of baby elephants and baby orangutans.
Before this film I would not be able to locate Borneo on a map very easily. Thanks to the clever direction by Lickley we see an interactive map of both Borneo and Kenya where our story is about to begin. We are also introduced to two women who have dedicated their lives to rescuing and adopting elephants and orangutans who have been orphaned because of the actions of mankind.
Daphne Sheldrick has set up an elephant sanctuary in Kenya; many of the elephants are there because poachers killed their parents (the release of this film could be really bad timing for the CEO of godaddy.com and his recent elephant hunting video). She raises the elephants with a team of zookeepers and is the only person to successfully raise an elephant from infant to adulthood.
We then travel to Borneo to see Birute Galdikas' sanctuary for orphaned orangutans. They have lost their homes and their parents due to man's rapid expansion into their territory.
In both cases we experience a cuteness factor that would overwhelm just about anyone with the warm fuzzies. We see the orangutans doing cute human-like behaviors such as drinking milk from soda bottles, bathing themselves and riding on the back of motorcycles. We also see the elephants drinking lots of milk from bottles, playing soccer and adapting to their human surroundings.
In the end, the captured animals are released back into the wild where they belong. The journey back home is guided by humans, the same species that orphaned them in the first place.
Should you see this movie? Yes, but only see it in the IMAX 3D format for its vibrant images of the animals and for some wonderful shots of both the African and Borneo landscapes. It's a seemingly flat story with not too many ups and downs or much conflict. If it weren't for the 3D this could have been a straight-to-DVD release.
I do understand that Lickley wanted us to realize that there is a threat of extinction for both of these species. However, we are not given any action steps at the end. I would at least expect a website address to pop up telling the viewers that they can do more to help these orphans.
Kill the Irishman (2011)
"Kill the Irishman" The Ballad of Danny Greene
America loves the tough guy. The guy who faces the impossible odds and beats them to a bloody pulp. Examples - Rocky, Dirty Harry or Dalton ("Road House"). America also loves the bad guy. The guy that we really shouldn't support but we do anyhow. Examples - The Godfather, Scarface and Henry Hill ("Goodfellas"). In "Kill the Irishman" we are now given a new underdog, bad guy to cheer for, Danny Greene (played by Ray Stevenson). All-American tough guy.
In Jonathan Hensleigh's latest movie based on Danny Greene's life in the 1970s, we see the tough guy who works his way up from the docks in Cleveland, Ohio. Greene has it rough from the beginning, an orphan raised on Cleveland's mean streets. He takes a job on the docks shoveling grain and is soon given the opportunity to become a union leader because he is one of the only guys that reads books. So, he is also a tough guy with some intellect. He literally fights his way into his position of Union Boss. From there he leads a corrupt life assisting the local Italian mafia in robbing the docks where he works.
Does this sound like any kind of movie hero? Why are we intrigued to continue watching? Maybe it's because some of us (mainly us guys) secretly want to be Greene. The guy that doesn't take nonsense from anyone. If someone gets in your way, break his jaw, beat him down and don't worry about consequences.
Things are going well for Greene until his arrest; his bad deeds finally catch up to him. He cuts a deal with the FBI to become an informant and is back home with his wife and kids. He now needs to find work. He soon becomes a debt collector for Shondor Birns (played by Christopher Walken). Although Greene is Irish and Birns is Italian they don't let that stand in the way of their friendship, especially since there is money to be made.
Again things are going well for Greene, he patrols Cleveland with his crew collecting past due balances for the mafia. Being a tough guy he usually lets his fist or hand gun do the talking. Things soon go south for Greene and Birns due to a lost $70,000. Immediately there is a price on Greene's head.
In 1976 there were 36 explosions that rocked Cleveland therefore dubbing it as Bomb City, USA. This is all due in part to the Italian mob trying to kill the Irishman, Greene. He dodges bullets like Superman and survives explosions like John McClain ("Die Hard") then walks away with an indifferent attitude.
How does he survive all of these assassination attempts? He is an Irish Catholic with the grace of God. Greene doesn't show fear; he keeps himself believing his intent is to be a modern day Robin Hood for the community. Even after losing his children and wife, he sticks it out because tough guys never give up. Especially Irish Catholic tough guys.
Should you see this movie? Sure, if you like tough guys and if you like cheering for the bad guy. Greene's take-no-guff attitude kept his character interesting when the story seemed to lag or when there weren't any cars blowing up. He is supported by a cast of strong veterans, Val Kilmer, Vincent D'Onofrio and Paul Sorvino. The film also has an authentic documentary feel to it since Hensleigh incorporates actual footage from newscasts covering Greene's life as a local legend.
"Hop" is so sweet it will give you a cavity.
"Hop" is another movie in a long line of big budget Easter Bunny films, just like...um... well ... er ... I guess there aren't many Easter movies that stick out in my mind. The team at Illumination Entertainment (who also brought you "Despicable Me") tried something new and approached a holiday that hasn't earned much attention from the film industry. Maybe they will set a standard for Easter films and this could be the beginning of Easter films. Or the end.
The movie starts off strong; we are introduced to the hero of the film E.B. (voiced by Russell Brand) (I can only assume E.B. stands for Easter Bunny) who is touring the candy factory with his dad on Easter Island (where else would an Easter Bunny live?). His father (voiced by Hugh Laurie) really wants E.B. to be the next Easter Bunny. Unlike Santa Claus, where there is only one of him that lives for a really long time; there is a long line of Easter Bunnies that have been keeping this Easter tradition alive for 4,000 years (for the Christians, do the math, does something seem fishy? For the Catholics, that fishy pun was intended for you in this Lenten season.) At the same time, we see Fred O'Hare (get it? O'Hare. I'm sure there's a joke in there somewhere) as a small child who catches a glimpse of E.B.'s dad delivering Easter eggs. Fred even sees the Easter sleigh (A sleigh? Yes, I must have missed that one as a kid. It's an Easter sleigh towed by hundreds of tiny yellow chicks.).
Fast forward 20 years, Fred (played by James Marsden) is now a grown man living at home with his parents with no job or even a real future. And, E.B. is now a teenager (for any of the viewers, do the math wait, don't do the math and just go with this one) who wants to drum in a band instead of inheriting the title of Easter Bunny. He runs away to Hollywood to follow his dreams. There Fred literally runs into E.B. with his car. I didn't realize how funny it can be to see a CGI bunny get hit by a car.
Fred and E.B. don't hit it off right away; Fred is pretty sure he is imagining the whole thing. E.B. annoys Fred with his antics and then Fred tries dumping E.B. in the wilderness. E.B. finally proves to Fred that he is the Easter Bunny by pooping out jelly beans. It's fun for the kids, I guess. Fred then remembers the time he saw the Easter Bunny which makes him ignore the fact that he despised this rabbit 10 minutes earlier. Here, as in most kiddie films, the two characters that had their differences and are now best of friends, must work together to fight a common enemy and therefore save Easter.
Should you see this movie? Nope. The CGI and detail put into it was great but they didn't put half as much effort into the story. Sure it was cute and sure it had a few funny moments, but it's just not worth it to see this movie. The kids have probably seen the trailer and want to see the bunny that poops candy. If they are between ages 4 and 9 maybe put the DVD in their Easter basket next year but don't waste 90 minutes for a 15-second joke.
Source Code (2011)
"Source Code" see it again for the first time
I can hear it now, the reviews from a not too distant future about Duncan Jones' (director of "Moon") latest film "Source Code." It will sound something like "It's 'Quantum Leap' and 'Groundhog Day' combined." That will be coming from both movie reviewers and the general moving going public. They will be right. For the most part.
"Source Code" follows the same premise as the 1990s TV show "Quantum Leap" (in fact, keep your ears open for a cameo by a famous leaper) where the hero jumps into another's person's body via quantum physics. The theory of quantum physics is explained to the viewer in simple terms so that no one is confused. A military agency found a method to transport a test subject into the body of someone eight minutes before they die. The story allows a brief narrative on how it works; if it went any further it would have lost most of the audience.
The test subject is Capt. Colter Stevens (played by Jake Gyllenhaal) a helicopter pilot in the U.S. Army who was recently on his third tour of duty in Afghanistan.
Jones does a brilliant job of setting the audience up in the first scenes. We are there with Colter when he awakes in a commuter train bound for Chicago. He does not realize immediately that he is in a schoolteacher's body. He has the same reaction that most of us would in a new situation, immediately trying to figure what is happening. After eight minutes the train explodes and the Captain leaps back to his reality in a capsule at an undisclosed location. He is then presented a series of assimilation tests by Colleen Goodwin (played by Vera Farmiga) via a computer screen and video camera. She is with an unknown military agency but we, and Colter, are not sure which one.
The task for Colter is simple; he must keep leaping back into the schoolteacher's body on the train until he finds the bomber. During these leaps back to the train he is developing a relationship with a friend of the schoolteacher, Christina (played by Michelle Monaghan).
His missions continue to be eight minutes long and when he continues to fail he continues to blow up along with the train. The process then has to start all over. With each mission Colter is discovering more and more about the train, the bomb and all of its passengers.
Is this starting to sound like "Groundhog Day?" It is similar in some respects but don't expect any cameos by a famous furry subterranean rodent or any catchy Sonny and Cher songs.
The story continually pulls the viewer in not only because we want to know how Colter saves the day but also why Colter is in this situation in the first place. The story quickly becomes a "who done it" film with great ease because we care about the characters and their outcomes.
Should you see this movie? Yes. This film had a story that kept you engaged. It also presented a real fear of terrorism that most Americans could connect with.
Gyllenhaal is proving himself as a strong leading man. He can be tough, sensitive and comedic while performing the same scenes over and over again.
The entire cast including the strangers on the train seemed to gel together and lead the audience further the down rabbit hole without losing us. Plus, in the end we hear a nice message about why it is still good to be a human in a world that is so bitter and filled with fear.
Sucker Punch (2011)
"Sucker Punch" tries to hit you with its best shot.
Baby Doll, Sweet Pea, Amber, Blondie and Rocket all must band together to fight zombies, giant samurais, dragons and robots to find five objects in order to escape the mental institute. That must have been as much information Zack Snyder (director of "300" and "Watchmen") was able to fit on his cocktail napkin as he drafted the screen play for "Sucker Punch." Snyder's original concept could be either an expansive epic tale with lots of eye candy for the fan boys or the plot to a late night Cinemax adult film. Take out the action scenes then add in a few "adult situations" and the story is basically the same.
We start our journey with the main focus of the five heroines, Baby Doll (played by Emily Browning). She narrates the opening scene telling us that we all have guardian angels watching over us. She then offers some psychobabble about how sometimes the bad things can also lead to good things.
In an opening sequence with very little dialogue, we see her mother die then there is a terrible accident that forces her evil stepfather to commit Baby Doll to an insane asylum. Once in the Asylum Baby Doll has five days before she is given a frontal lobe lobotomy.
From this point forward, the viewer should really shut his or her mind off and enjoy the ride. Nothing more is explained on how things work or even why they work in Snyder's world. This is a pure gratification film from the aesthetic viewpoint.
Baby Doll immediately learns how to use a cerebral performance to escape the asylum even if it is only in her mind. But where would a 20-year-old orphan escape to if she had the choice? Of course, she would choose to escape to a burlesque house. Yep, that's right, a place worse than the asylum. Now she has to run away from a sleazy pimp (played by Oscar Isaac) and his filthy clientele. Also, in this alternate world, she will also choose to wear scanty lingerie (hey, I'm on board with it).
Baby Doll soon finds that she can be a persuasive exotic dancer. While dancing she holds her viewers captive so that she can visit alternative realities. In her first trip she meets up with a wise sage (played by Scott Glenn) who gives her instructions on how to escape from her asylum/ burlesque house. He gives her a samurai sword and a fully loaded hand gun. Similar to the plot of many Xbox video games, she is given a task to do and each level becomes progressively harder. Luckily she bands together with four other girls who don't like wearing a lot of clothes either.
The plan is simple: Baby Doll dances to distract her captors while the four girls gather their needed objects to escape. Her dancing is so hypnotic that we, the audience, aren't even allowed to see her dance. Instead we see several extremely articulate action scenes all held together by a soundtrack with cover songs from The Beatles, The Pixies and Jefferson Airplane. It's a fair trade.
Should you see this movie? Only if you like action, fantasy, and young girls dressed in various seductive costumes (you know who you are).
The bulk of the film is an action fantasy that would make perfect sense to die-hard gamers, steam punkers, sci-fi geeks, and almost any dude under the age of 25. Right before the credits roll, we hear the message of why we were watching this orgy of guns, swords and cleavage for the last hour and a half. With that, Snyder mucks up a perfectly good visually amplified film by trying to add a deep meaning to it. I did feel sucker punched because of that effort.
"Paul" is a foul mouthed E.T.
When did cursing become so lackluster? Remember when it was hilarious to hear someone drop an f-bomb once in a while in a film? Recently in movies it seems so lazy to throw several f-bombs at the audience where it doesn't actually add to the story or even the punch line. When is David Mamet going to write a comedy? Now there's a guy that knows how to punctuate a sentence with a curse, dammit.
In a movie that challenges religious beliefs and is prone to quote several different Sci-Fi flicks it shouldn't let foul language take the focus. "Paul" is the title of and the central character in Greg Mottola's (director of "Superbad") new film about an alien that crash lands on earth in 1947. He is now trying to escape back to his home planet. Paul is a mix of E.T. and Alf. He is similar in texture to E.T. and he has a boisterous personality like Alf. Think of him like this - if E.T. crash landed at a frat party instead of Elliot's back yard he would have developed into Paul.
We begin our journey with Graeme Willy (played by Simon Pegg) and Clive Gollings (played by Nick Frost) two Sci-Fi geeks from England on holiday in the states. They begin their journey at their Mecca "Comic Con." This is a convention where Star Wars, Star Trek, D & D, LOTR, and Dr. Who geeks, nerds and dweebs (I am not being mean, it's the truth) meet every year to intermingle with one another and see what new geek fan fare awaits them for the coming year.
After the duo meets their science fiction idols, they rent an RV and start their road trip to all the famous UFO sites in the Southwest -Area 51, Roswell and the Black Mail Box (I had to Google that one).
They soon cross paths with Paul (a CGI character voiced by Seth Rogen) who is on the run from government agents. Graeme and Clive agree to abet Paul in his escape. On the way they pick up a RV rest stop attendant, Ruth (played by Kristen Wiig). This is where the jokes start fluctuating where before they were just falling flat. Ruth is a right wing conservative Christian who believes the earth is only 4,000 years old. If she owned a car, you could bet it would have a bumper sticker that reads "Read My Lipstick." Paul soon "converts" Ruth to think outside her strict Christian upbringing to believe in extraterrestrial life. While adopting her new life she feels that she needs to curse more to explore her newfound freedom. Her expletives would have been very effective if it hadn't been for everyone around her cursing their fool heads off too. There is a time and place for everything. I don't feel that a comedy movie about a fouled mouth, dope-smoking alien is the place to discuss Intelligent Design (Oh my god, I am starting to sound like my mother).
With a Secret Service agent (played by Jason Bateman) on their tail, the gang starts making their way north with Paul to find his mother ship (it's a movie about aliens, of course there is a mother ship). With plenty of action and a few more wisely placed one-liners from famous Sci-Fi flicks, the story finally climaxes in a way that you would expect from a comedy film about aliens.
Should you see this movie? Are you a geek, dweeb or nerd? Then yes, go see it. You will enjoy the "Star Wars", "Aliens", and "Star Trek" references. If you are a true fan, you will be rewarded for hording that geeky trivia since you were 12 years old. It was good to see Pegg and Frost back together again. However it wasn't the same clever writing as we came to expect from "Shaun of the Dead," a film that didn't need a lot of cursing to be funny, just a lot of blood and guts.
The Lincoln Lawyer (2011)
"The Lincoln Lawyer." It's better if you don't think about it.
"A lawyer conducts business from the back of his Lincoln town car while representing a high-profile client in Beverly Hills." That is one of the descriptors for the new movie by Brad Furman, based on a novel by Michael Connelly.
Um, why? Why would anyone need to conduct business out of the back of a car? It really is a unique premise if there was a great reason for why he has a town car office and not a typical law office. Unfortunately, there isn't a good excuse why our protagonist Mick (played by Matthew McConaughey) is being chauffeured around Los Angeles. All we know is that he lost his driver's license quite a while ago. It is never clear on why he just doesn't work out of his home. There is something missing here that the director and screenwriter had failed to tell us.
Mick is a fast-talking "Slick Willy" lawyer. "High-end ambulance chaser" comes to mind when I think of his character. He knows how to work a clever bribe to the bailiffs so that he can move his clients up on the docket. He can also negotiate with tough motorcycle gang members without showing the least bit of fear.
After establishing his cocky attitude and sleazy ways Mick is hired by a high profile real estate client, Louis (played by Ryan Phillippe), who is being accused of assaulting a high-class prostitute. Even though Louis' family has a lawyer on retainer Louis wants Mick for reasons that will be explained later. The family lawyer has no qualms with hiring Mick and paying a hefty retainer fee (it seems that if you are the best sleaze ball that no one, not even lawyers and gang members, will try to negotiate with you).
Mick starts his work on Louis' case with help from his private investigator, Frank (played by William H. Macy) who is one of his only two friends, the other being Mick's chauffeur. While working on the case we find that Mick also has a daughter and an ex-wife (don't worry about paying attention to the daughter she only shows up to establish that Mick isn't a sleaze all of the time).
As an audience we are required to do a few things from this point forward.
1) Forget the fact that whole premise of the movie is about a lawyer that operates out of his car. We do see his home office quite a bit.
2) Be on board with the idea that Louis is a potential murderer in another of Mick's cases. In a city of millions, Mick had a previous client who is in prison for a murder that Louis was tied to earlier.
3) Accept another coincidence that Mick has yet another client who is in rehab center with a key witness so that she can get a very important message to this witness. Real easy to believe (I wish that my computer had a sarcastic font).
The film does deliver a lot of snappy dialogue and intense courtroom scenes. One courtroom scene was very effective taking into consideration that the director didn't use dramatic music to build the tension. He relied on the actors' ability to set the edgy situation through their dialogue. In the end, there is credibility that even though Mick is a sleaze he does have a desire to up hold the law and keep innocent people out of prison.
Should you see this movie? Maybe. If you do go, check your analytical instincts at the door. The film relies heavily on the audience's lack of questioning ability. All that aside, if you want a straight up entertaining judicial film, this would be a good pick for you.