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Good - Worth a Watch
Back in the day, a movie starring Jean-Claude Van Damme was an action flick with lots of martial arts. He was the good guy in it. And it actually starred Van Damme.
More recently, Van Damme has made some movies with him as a flawed protagonist, and then several more as the main bad guy.
This movie is a decent Drama/Suspense film, with Van Damme as a secondary character, and a tries-to-be-good bad guy. He is just above the "character actor" role, probably in my mind only because he is JCVD.
The bad guys here go looking for the guy who barely escaped and still has the money, after some hold-up years ago where everyone else goes to prison to stew and fester about their revenge. There are enough variations on this basic idea to keep the viewer interested. Lennie James does a good job as the town Sheriff, easy going, hard to ruffle, and who you somehow know you just don't want to mess with. There is actually a little action here and there, but it is realistic (no martial arts) and serves mostly to add to the suspense.
With no JCVD, this would be a movie worth a watch. An interesting plot, with good acting, and nice cinematography. Seeing JCVD do his "actual acting" thing is also fairly enjoyable. He manages to entertain with his french (Belgian) accent and a simmering manner that seems to add depth even to a character that has little.
Drive Hard (2014)
Average Movie - Worth Watching
This Action-Comedy-Crime movie gave me something to do one recent afternoon, and I think it was worth the watch. I saw it before I read either of the current reviews, and thought that a middle-of-the-road review was more appropriate.
John Cusack and Thomas Jane do a good job with their characters and make the somewhat unbelievable plot more believable. Any action flick needs something to ground it, and the character development, particularly with Jane's character, does this. The female characters seem a bit stereotypical and one sided, but this actually seems to work to keep the focus on the male leads.
The action is by no means over the top, and it contains enough mild humor to qualify as a comedy. No guffaws here; just a few chuckles.
I found this a pleasant and entertaining movie, one worth watching, although I doubt I'll ever watch it again.
Ice Soldiers (2013)
Good Enough to Watch Again Sometime
Sometimes, I'll watch a movie because of who is playing a main character. And I don't mean I'm looking for any of the "usual suspects." I mean I want to watch an actor I see in movies, but who often seems to have some secondary role. Dominic Purcell's name caught my eye in this one.
TV roles are all well and good, but it is often refreshing to see such an actor play the lead or a main role (Bryan Cranston in Cold Comes the Night is another example). Here, Purcell plays a part with little need for drama, and little opportunity to demonstrate acting talent. To be fair, that was his character here, but the movie was still an enjoyable semi-action flick. The plot is tied into the 1962 Cuban Missle Crisis, but only tangentially. The Sci-Fi aspect overwhelms any real historical theme. And the plot-twist has so many clues dropped that it seems like a made-for-TV movie.
Regardless, the movie held my attention and Purcell's adequate performance was well supported by Michael Ironside and Adam Beach (who must unfortunately play the native American with an alcohol history stereotype).
As an aside, the movie might have been better if Purcell's character had developed more of a romantic interest in Camille Sullivan's character, or if the characters of the super soldiers (especially No. 1) had been fleshed out some more. eg. "bad ass wakes up after 50 years and his mission seems a little stale in a completely changed world." As it is, they come off as new Rap music fans who want to have sex with the first woman they lay eyes on.
No academy award winner here, or even high action, but still a fair watch for a story requiring little mental effort.
Good Enough to Watch Again Sometime
I just watched this recent flick with a friend. We wanted something to accompany our corn chips and cream cheese, and various forms of libation. We thought the joke would be that the movie would go well with the "cheese." We were both pleased to find that the movie, an action/military/science fiction film, was actually well done. The opening scene was a rather cleverly done shooting range/simulation test where a new recruit of the "BlackJacks" seeks to qualify. The BlackJacks are an elite, highly trained, ex-military, blah blah blah... ala the Navy SEALs. You get the idea, although no actual SEAL seems represented. From there, we were hooked.
There are no big stars in this movie, a couple I know I have seen here or there, and some who have done voices for action/military genre video games. They all do their parts credibly to provide an enjoyable view. Eric Roberts is the only one with a household name. And he does his usual good job adding some class and sophistication to his role. He is a CEO who sends the 'Jacks into Afghanistan to his super-secret but malfunctioning lab to recover the genius in charge of some experimental energy research.
The action is fairly constant but not overdone. Hardware and tactics seem authentic and believable. It has the look and feel of one of those action/military video games like Call of Duty, with good cinematography instead of expensive special effects. The science fiction comes in when stuff goes wrong and it becomes clear why the lab is off-line. There is also some gore here, but it's not overdone either. That and some brief nudity get it an R rating.
All in all, this movie held our interest and was fun to watch. If you like action movies with a military flavor, I recommend this movie to you.
Nurse 3-D (2013)
Very Good - Will Watch It Again
I recently saw this movie and felt compelled to write a review.
I'd read some of the other reviews before viewing, and had two reactions. First, this movie is a good deal better than I was led to expect from the reviews. Second, the negative reviewers were simply wrong on key points.
The plot is simple enough. A woman with "father" issues is sick of men who take sexual advantage of women in work places, and ruin families by thinking with their penis, and decides to take matters into her own hands (no pun intended). By day she is a dedicated nurse, by night she trolls for guys who she feels deserve death because of their sexual conduct. And she takes advantage of her medical knowledge to pull off her kills.
She accomplishes her task by scantily dressing like a total slut, and throwing herself at whoever looks interested. And this is a woman with extremely good looks and a smoldering sensuality.
The use of medical knowledge makes just barely (no pun intended) believable the ability of a skinny girl to pull off killing the guys she ends up alone with. And the tinge of unfairness in her judging men from their reaction to her "entrapment" is immediately offset by the slightly tongue in cheek treatment of this plot by the lead actress. Thus my several no puns intended really were.
I know this is just my opinion, but Paz de la Huerta is drop dead gorgeous in this movie. Even her casual movements seem specifically choreographed to be sultry and provocative. And to spice things up even more, she has some brief nude scenes with all of her parts uncovered, and she comes on to another woman whom she wishes to befriend. I think she plays this part magnificently. She definitely has the body and voice for it, and her approach is just shy of serious, in the same manner as Sean Connery's treatment of his 007 portrayals.
Its not all T&A though, as the real world soon intrudes on her activities, and some unqualifiedly serious stuff does happen, and there is definitely a gore element. Overall, tinge of comedy aside, this movie is more suspense than drama.
Secondary characters are also well played by Katrina Bowden, Judd Nelson, and a brief appearance by an almost unrecognizable Kathleen Turner.
This movie was a fun watch. I'm not sure the average straight woman would enjoy it as much, but it is what it is. Serious subject, over the top reaction, and really fine views to rivet your attention.
Very Good - Already have watched it again
This is a Comedy/Drama/Romance Movie, that is, a "chick flick." I'm not generally into chick flicks, but I watched it anyway, intrigued by the fact that it was written, as well as starred in, by Peter Facinelli, the head vampire in Twilight.
Having watched it once, I watched it again a couple months later... and then I recommended it to my adult daughter, who is into chick flicks, and we watched it together. And you know what, I will likely watch it again sometime. Yes, I feel it is that good. In fact, any project with Facinelli's name attached to it will garner my immediate attention from now on.
Since he wrote it, I guess he knew exactly how he wanted to play the guy who has yet another in a long series of one night stands. The woman is played by Jaimie Alexander, and he is unusually fascinated by her (that's almost a pun). He struggles with leaving her his contact number, but can't decide yes or no...
Well, he seems to forget the encounter, but then she suddenly shows up to tell him she's pregnant with his child. She reminds him her name is Lucy (another almost pun). He is a pick pocket who has no kind of life style for anything but consequence free living. Actually, he is a pick pocket slaved to the man who his father owed a significant monetary debt to, so I guess he's not actually so free living.
Anyway, the depth of the movie is what all happens next. No spoilers here so all I will say is that if you watch it, you will likely not be disappointed.
This action movie junkie (and his daughter) rate this as a movie well worth a watch or three.
Good - probably will watch it again sometime
This is a taut drama/suspense film with a little romance and crime thrown in for good measure. The biggest problem I'm having is deciding which was better, the well done intertwining story lines, or the detailed character development. Both were excellent, making for a movie that is quite enjoyable and well worth watching.
The actors all did fine jobs, Eric Bana as the robber who is a killer, Olivia Wilde as the little sister who maybe has outgrown her need to be protected, Charlie Hunnam as her troubled but worthwhile romantic interest, Sissy Spacek and Kris Kristofferson as his parents, Kate Mara as the aspiring FBI agent deputy, and Treat Williams as her father the Sheriff. Their performances were all worthy of this well written and directed feature.
I have never heard of the writer or director, but I plan to watch for more of their stuff. This one is not a long movie by today's standards, but the pace of the action, and the time spent letting us figure out each character are so well balanced.
Make sure your snacks are ready ahead of time as, once this one starts, you will not want to miss a second of it (or even use the pause button once it is out on DVD).
Simply put, this is a good movie. Even knowing what happens, I'll probably watch it again sometime.
Red Lights (2012)
Good - will probably watch it again sometime
In a recent movie world filled with paranormal horrors and unexplained and scary phenomena, it was good to watch a movie about a Dr. who has assumed the task of debunking all the would-be charlatans and phonies. Sigourney Weaver plays this part very well, and is assisted by Cillian Murphy, a physicist who has his own reasons for eschewing a brilliant career to accompany Weaver on hers. Murphy's quiet and unassuming portrayal almost steals the movie.
As an aside, some of the explanations and demonstrations of phony paranormal are revealing in themselves. But this is not a documentary by any means. It's Drama/Suspense/Mystery all the way.
Then there's Robert De Niro. He is the slippery and smooth paranormal Weaver tried before to expose, without success. Murphy wants her to go after him again, but Weaver seems almost afraid of him, and she's preoccupied with her son who is in a comma after many years. She will not turn off the life support because, after years of uncontested skepticism, she knows there is nothing after this life.
De Niro is very good in his role. He is very convincing at showing how such a character can be very convincing in real life.
An if you think you know how it's all going to end, well, you probably don't. This one is a mystery until the very end. I recommend this movie for its great actors, fine performances, original plot, and direction which does not allow the drama and suspense to overshadow the enticing mystery.
The Hunter (2011)
Good - will probably watch it again sometime
This Adventure/Drama movie stars one of my favorite actors, Willem Dafoe. Dafoe has played a variety of roles over the years, with one of my favorites being Paul Smecker in The Boondock Saints (2000). Now this part as the hunter, Martin David, is also one of my favorites. He is a mercenary sent to hunt down what is believed to be the last remaining of a long thought extinct species Tasmanian Tiger.
During his hunt, he stays with a family in a remote area where the Tiger has supposedly been sited. The two kids there are brilliantly played by kid actors I've never seen before. The drugged out mom, grieving for a long missing husband, who the kids still think is coming home, is played by another actress I've only seen once, in The Windtalkers (2002). She handles the role well, only hinting at attraction for the mysterious hunter masquerading as a scientist.
Sam Neill plays a local guide who seems a little too interested in the status quo. Neill is perfect for this role and handles it astutely.
As they story unfolds, the main characters all become interesting, and are mostly sympathetic if not down right liked. The interplay of the supposedly aloof mercenary, the family he begins to form attachments with, and the usual crowd of locals who only complicate matters, makes for a very appealing story. Things get a lot more tense when Dafoe's employers become impatient with his apparent lack of progress.
Adding to the mood is some very cleverly chosen Springsteen music, along with some classical pieces; classical seems to be common in Dafoe movies.
If you like a film with some heart and nothing blowing up every few minutes, this is definitely a good movie to watch, one that I will probably see again sometime.
The Samaritan (2012)
Good - probably will watch it again sometime.
The last couple years, I find myself wondering, is there a recent movie that Samual L. Jackson is not in? Well, he's in this one and, more than that, he owns it. Most of those other appearances that I've seen are an action movie of one kind or another. But this one is mostly Drama/Suspense and he takes full advantage of the opportunity to show his considerable acting skills.
Jackson plays Foley, a man just released from prison after 25 years, and he has a lot of past to live down. He comes across a young woman with whom he can start a new life, but the past dogging him draws him back. A former con man, he is forced into "just one more job." It sounds like we've heard it all before, but the plot twists in this one make it a very interesting watch. Have your snacks ready ahead of time because you will not want to miss the details here. Even if you are renting the DVD, you will not want to use the Pause button.
Besides Jackson's well done performance, Ruth Negga as Iris shows that she has a lot of promise as an actress. She has a screen presence and dramatic quality that let her hold her own opposite the veteran Jackson. And their screen chemistry makes believable the unlikely turn in their relationship.
There is even some amount of comedic irony in several lines of dialog between them, which is supposed to relate to the con, but also applies to them.
This is definitely a movie to see. It's engaging and entertaining to the end. I will probably watch it again sometime, even knowing the twists.