Le Samouraï Review


It’s time to look at a French thriller from a while back. The title may be a bit misleading though. I suppose it’s using the Samurai term more figuratively than anything but if Jef thinks of himself as a samurai then he’s quite mistaken. He’s just a common murderer trying to evade the cops long enough for the next job. This film was better than I had expected and gives a pretty satisfying case for you to watch unfold. We know that the main character is guilty so the suspense is in seeing how the cops will be able to arrest this guy.

The movie starts with Jef walking into a club. He nonchalantly walks all the way over to where the boss is and shoots him in front of everyone. He then returns to a Poker game with some of his associates. The cops quickly arrive and take him in as a suspect along with 99 other people. Jef manages to get out of there without being seen as guilty since most of the witnesses were unable to ID him. His bosses don’t like the fact that he was caught at all though and decide to put him down. Meanwhile the Policeman in charge of the investigation is confident that Jef is his man. He wasn’t able to prove it quit yet but he is determined to get the information so he has the Police tail Jef. Jef must now shake the mafia and the cops if he is to get out of this in one piece.

When your main character is actually the villain a film always has to walk a pretty fine line. It shouldn’t bother with trying to make the lead likable as it is far too late for that. The only option left is to have you root for the good guys here to take down the lead. You still need a lot of twists and turns involved here to keep things from being too easy though. It’s definitely interesting seeing this from the villain’s point of view and this movie makes the most of it. The police are given a lot of credit with the various tactics they use to try and catch him. Both sides look intelligent and have a lot of different plans at the ready. The excellent writing is part of what sells this film.

The Police chief instantly became the best character after just a few minutes with his character. He’s very sharp and has a good intuition. He plays things by the book and ultimately doesn’t cross any lines in trying to get his man. He just knows how to run an investigation and cover all of the bases. Tailing someone is pretty difficult, especially someone like Jef who is a professional but the unit here is quite good as well. Throughout the film the chief continues to pour on more and more pressure so that Jef will inevitably make a mistake and then they can slam him with everything they’ve got. Now that’s really high quality Policework.

As for Jef, he’s just your average hitman. He was paid to take someone out and he did. The piano player Valerie questions why he would do it and he even explains that his targets may or may not be good people. It doesn’t matter to him, he just wants the money. Valerie’s character is an interesting one since Jef has some theories on her but the film never goes out of its way to tell us if we should believe him or not. I’m inclined to think that he is right based upon the final mission of the film though. She seems to be a loose end which would support his theory but was definitely an interesting character either way.

Jef plays the situations rather well for the most part although the final scene wasn’t a good play. This is intentional as it seems he wanted to stop causing trouble for someone but after going through all of this that just doesn’t seem like the way to go about things. If anything it puts the heroine in some more trouble since this doesn’t really help her case. Jef’s character is very robotic in how he goes about his business. Even by the end of the film we really don’t know almost anything about his character and that’s good with me. The mystique behind everything going on is part of what makes the Noir genre so much fun.

The heroine Jane is also interesting. She’s definitely very loyal to Jef and that’s part of the tragic element here. It’s always a shame to see a character like that get in with the wrong crowd. That said, it’s not like she’s a good person either. It seems like she is playing the field and turns out to be as much of a crook as Jef. In a way that makes them perfect for each other and cuts the sympathy points down even further for both of them. There’s never any doubt on your side as to who you should be rooting for. So that’s a good thing, the writers knew what they were doing.

it’s also just a very fun movie to watch because you get a good understanding of the police procedures in France. It’s a little different and very methodical. I liked seeing them try different experiments like having the suspects switch clothing and line up. The chief definitely was very thorough in the measures he was using and it’s easy to see why he did so well. I do think the audio bug was a super longshot that was never going to work but I suppose he had to at least give it a try right? It’s not like there was much harm in the attempt since Jef was on guard anyway. There were also quite a lot of agents running around which was fun to see as they tried keeping tabs on him.

Overall, Le Samourai is definitely a solid film. It’s a low key thriller so don’t expect a lot of shots or anything like that. It’s more of a mental thriller as the characters play cat and mouse with each other. The police chief knows Jef is the guilty party but he does need solid evidence in order to convict him. That’s why Jef is able to be quite cocky about the whole thing since the alibi is so air tight. Then we’ve got his revenge trip on the mafia group. Their agent looks pretty naive the whole time so I assume he was new to the force. Otherwise he just looks awful in one scene that occurs. You may chuckle at that moment even if the rest of the film is super serious. The ending is also satisfying which is the right way to cap things off.

Overall 7/10

The Tall Target Review


It’s time to look at an assassination plot and you don’t see a whole lot of these. It can be pretty fun to watch one guy try to stop the master plan on his own. It’s a similar plot to something like White House Down or Olympus Has Fallen. This film is a lot older so it isn’t quite as dramatized but you’ve got the core elements which is what makes this a pretty fun film to check out.

The movie starts with John bursting into the police office and asking if they’ve read his report. He works for the cops as well but is lower ranked and nobody really believes him. He is convinced that someone is going to try and murder Abe Lincoln before he is able to give his speech at Baltimore. The bosses laugh this off and the lead ends up throwing away his badge. He will now have to get on the train and save Lincoln on his own. Jerry’s ticket goes missing pretty quick so are the villains on to him or is his mind playing tricks on him and there is no assassination attempt?

I say that for suspense but it’s obvious that there is an attempt or there wouldn’t be a movie. Mainly the movie plays out as a mystery where you have to try and guess who the culprit is. It’s a big train that everyone is on after all so there are a ton of suspects to choose from. You’ve got Charlotte who is a writer and loves talking about politics. She doesn’t mind asking tough questions so it’s always possible that she wants to make a move and take Abe Lincoln down herself. Charlotte is a fun character and definitely makes the film interesting.

Then you’ve got Lance who is a soldier and is carrying a lot of guns on the train. Perhaps he has been paid off and wants to take one last shot to take Abe down for good. There’s his sister Ginny who is always quick to defend Lance. Perhaps she is using him to place attention away from her so that she can take the shot and win some kind of glory. Lance’s slave Rachel is also on the train. She may be forced to be an assassin if her family is hostage or for some kind of personal reasons. Finally you have Jeffers who is a general on the train. He gets along pretty well with John but that’s never a guarantee of anything. Perhaps he is trying to keep John close so he always knows where the main character is.

A large portion of the film is John trying to get intel but he has to do it slowly since he’s not in the best position. His biggest mistake was throwing away his badge in the opening scene. While it was good for dramatic effect it definitely crippled his ability to actually make a difference here. Nobody will actually believe that he is with the cops now and it’s not like he can legally arrest anyone either. This short sighted move aside John was still a pretty fun character. He certainly did lose a lot though. John definitely isn’t the best fighter out there.

In general the film had a pretty interesting cast. Jeffers made for a good assist and acted quite a bit like Watson. He’s a good shot and always has a lot of confidence. I liked the conductor as well and that’s another scene where John made a mistake. He should have let the conductor throw the fake John off the train. It really would have made things a little easier later on. Rachel was fun too. She made the right moves in the end and was a very reasonable character. The movie had high quality writing throughout and it’s part of what made the movie enjoyable. Everyone was trying to think two steps ahead of the next character and this made for a good blend of engaging characters who were all quite intelligent and knew what they were doing.

The twist at the end of the film was also pretty fun. It really adds another layer to the mystery. Everyone was getting messed with to some extent and that’s why it was such a good train ride. I really didn’t have any problems with it. Even John’s mistakes I wouldn’t count against the film because the lead doesn’t always have to be a super genius every time. Some of the mistakes he made I can easily see a person doing. If anything John was still really brave with a lot of the risks he was taking. Things could have easily backfired on him if things had gone sideways.

It’s also interesting to see the politics in this film. As the train had a lot of people from the south there were a lot of people there actively opposing Lincoln. You couldn’t find a single guy there who was actually happy about him becoming President or at least they would be too nervous to speak up about it. When you’re outnumbered politically and in a train with a ton of guns it’s probably a safe idea to just stay quiet. This also helps to prevent you from picking out the correct suspect too easily as everyone admits that they would love to shoot Lincoln. You just need to find out which one is actually serious about it while the others are all just bluffing and trying to talk a bit game.

Overall, The Tall Target is a pretty solid film. It is not a movie I was familiar with so I can definitely say that it is a hidden gem in cinema. It provides a suspenseful story and a good array of characters to back it up. The cast is almost surprisingly large with how many of these guys are well developed. The movie never overstays it’s welcome and I can whole heartedly recommend it to anyone who wants to check out a good thriller. You’ll be in for a lot of twists and turns.

Overall 7/10

Hannah Review

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Time to look at an interesting assassin film. I was actually super confident that this film had to be R due to the atmosphere and the fact that it could get pretty intense at times so I was surprised that it netted the PG-13 rating. That’s definitely a good thing although it ultimately can’t save this film. Hannah is a film that always wanted to have a sequel based on the unexplored plot lines, but settled for being one incomplete film. Think of it as a mystery thriller.

Hannah was trained as a hunter/killer ever since she was a baby. She was raised by an experienced secret agent who taught her how to live in a harsh environment (Snowy mountains) for years. The only thing Hannah knows is that she is supposed to push a big red button when she feels ready for a new challenge. Upon pressing this button, she’ll be hunted by another assassin and only one of them may walk away from their fight. Her mentor urges her not to do this, but Hannah does anyway. So begins a deadly game of cat and mouse as the mentor leaves to fight his battles while Hannah meets up with a nice (heh) family who help her realize how much fun life can be. The only tricky part is that the assassins (Multiple ones now? Doesn’t seem fair anymore….) don’t care about collateral damage.

First off, I’d like to say that a born assassin is always a great concept. This character naturally learned a very skewed version of morality and won’t really comprehend the difference between good and evil. Not for quite a while at least and possibly never if the assassin never talks with the targets. Street Fighter’s Cammy had an origin like this although it was never delved into and we’ve seen it with many other characters. The problem is, it’s incredibly difficult to utilize this plot without falling into the trap of super violence or the “Starfire issue” which has the character act way too ignorant of non combat related things. I’m sure that a well trained assassin will know a lot about daily happenings since it is necessary for the job. I don’t think I’ve ever seen this concept played out exactly as I would like it too, but it’s very hard to perfectly adapt something from my head canon as opposed to what is happening on screen.

This film takes a nice shot at the concept, but they do make Hannah very naive. She is a kid though and a lot younger than most assassins would be so it’s a little more excusable. That doesn’t make the scenes any more enjoyable though and I probably could have done without most of the scenes with the family. The parents got a lot of good one liners and burns in, but they really just held Hannah back most of the time. Hannah’s friend was very annoying as well since she could have handled Hannah’s secret a lot better rather than simply running off to get captured or put Hannah in a bad spot. The friend was supposed to be tough right?

This is also one of those films where you’ll probably feel bad for most of the background characters. Essentially, just meeting Hannah is a death sentence since her opponents will quickly find and neutralize you. After all, the characters know too much. It’s a shame to be in their shoes and it is why you should always know how to fight if you’re dealing in that kind of business.

The best character is easily Hannah’s mentor, Erik. He’s a very well trained fighter and it’s easy to see that he is more skilled than the other people who are after him. He successfully evaded them for years after all and it is only due to Hannah that they found out at all. He consistently gets the better of them the whole time and seems to be on the ball. He was involved with the super soldier experiments, but seems to definitely have more heart than the other members. The main villain is certainly not in the same boat. She cannot decide if she wants to destroy Hannah or simply capture her for more experimentation and she can’t fight at all. She talks tough from behind a glass screen, but once the action dials up she is quickly overwhelmed.

As for Hannah herself, she is a decent character I suppose, but not too likable. Again, if she knew more about Earth customs and such, I think she would have been much better. As it is, at least she can fight even if it can be a bit of a stretch to see her taking on adult agents. Just think of it like Robin beating crooks back in the day even though he was a little kid. A little stretch of the imagination isn’t all that bad.

Unfortunately, the film does fall into the classic animal violence trap for no reason. Even worse, this occurs at the very beginning as a Deer is shot with an arrow and then shot with a gun just to hurt the film’s chances of being good even more. It’s debatable as to whether it’s worse to start or finish with animal violence. If you start with it, I’m going to be in a sour mood for the rest of the film as it’s not easy to forget. If it’s at the end, then at least I could have maybe enjoyed it for a while until it happened to which the film would crash. Same effect in the end, but I had more time to enjoy it. Either way, this started the film off on a verrrry bad note that it most certainly could not recover from.

The film’s fairly violent even without that though. It’s not quite as extreme as some other thrillers/horror films that I”ve seen, but it can still be a bit much. Films can certainly have menacing villains and cool action scenes without resorting to this. Just look at Final Fantasy VII Advent Children or Man of Steel if you want a live action film example. Again, this usually comes hand in hand with the born assassin concept though.

Luckily, the soundtrack is incredibly good so you’ll really have a pleasing experience audially at the very least. Most of the themes are all really cool futuristic techno esque pieces, which is something that fits very well for this concept as well. In particular, you’ll think of the tunnel scene near the beginning of the film, which actually worked as a great environment. It would have been great if Hannah could have stayed in the base for the whole film. The locale would have been a big improvement and it definitely would have had a Resident Evil vibe to it. Hey, if the film wasn’t going to get a high score by that point, it may as well go for being more engaging. Resident Evil films are nothing if not engaging.

A lot of storylines are not wrapped up by the end so there is plenty of room for a sequel. Just about all of the backstory and reasoning behind the fights in the film are shrouded in mystery so you can choose to come up with your own answers. I don’t think a sequel will be coming out after all and it’s possibly for the best. That being said, a good 10 year time skip with a new assassin as a rival could make for a riveting film provided that it was handled perfectly. There’s a better chance of Transformers 5 actually getting a 6/10 though.

Overall, Hannah wasn’t exactly a winner, but it certainly could have been worse. I was definitely shocked to see the soundtrack. I still love the basic premise as well and you can easily just zone out of the film and imagine how the film should have gone. I don’t really have that luxury while reviewing of course, but in my head canon I’ll sneak in a quick “Sorry writers, but x should have happened to y in place of a, etc, etc) Nobody can write a better film for me than me after all. If you like the concept and are prepared for an intense film then this should be right up your ally. The subplot with Eric even plays out like a James Bond/Bourne type adventure as well so action is never lacking. If you want a better action film though, just check out Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol.

Overall 3/10

Assassin vs Presence


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The Presence is a pretty powerful individual, but he won’t be able to take out Assassin. Assassin’s sword techniques are out of this world and his speed allows him to take care of his opponents in an instant. The Presence couldn’t even begin to comprehend such speed and he would be soundly defeated. Assassin wins.

Assassin vs Bass


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The Assassin may have some pretty good sword tricks up his sleeve, but Bass is physically superior to him in every way. Assassin isn’t fast enough to land any decent hits on Bass and his attacks wouldn’t be able to get through the latter’s barrier either. This is one match where Assassin is just outmatched and he has no chance of winning. Bass wins.

Assassin vs One Above All


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The One Above All may be skilled, but he won’t be able to win this round. Assassin is a skilled swordfighter and each strike is made with precision. The One Above All would have a hard time trying to deal with him and one swing could end the match. Assassin was just too skilled for the cosmic being. Assassin wins.