Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

White Lightning Review


It’s time to look at one of those old films where you wonder who to root for because everyone is pretty corrupt. As you can expect this one wasn’t exactly a winner for me. It’s not an abysmal film or anything like that, but at the same time there isn’t much to it. It’s a pretty simple plot, but no part of it is really well executed. As a result you’ll find yourself feeling like something is missing.

The film starts off with two teens being murdered by the sheriff and some loyal minions. We then cut away to the main character, Gator. He’s currently doing hard time for distributing illegal drinks. Gator then learns that his brother is one of the teens who was murdered so he makes a deal with the cops. He gets to leave jail early but in exchange he’ll find some evidence on the corrupt sheriff so the cops can take him away. The cops like this deal and set him loose. While this mission should be easy, Gator starts to sympathize with the crooks and now he isn’t sure if he should put them away. Still, he’ll take down the Sheriff!

Gator is a really bad main character. Now, you can certainly understand why he wants to get revenge on the sheriff. That’s pretty reasonable, but Gator decides to go about doing this in the worst ways possible. For starters when he gets into town one of the first things he does is to confront the sheriff passive aggressively. By this, I mean that he drives up to the guy and just stares at him. Part of the point of this ordeal is to make his co-driver sweat it out since Gator is basically blackmailing him at this point and the sheriff could shoot them all on sight. What did this act accomplish though? All it did was put Gator on the guy’s and if not for his plot shield that would be it for Gator.

Gator does a lot of nonsensical things like this throughout the film. Then when you thought things couldn’t get worse he decides to cheat on one of the crooks with the guy’s girl. Again….why would he do that? Clearly Gator doesn’t respect the other guy at all. It’s an excuse for some quick romance which ultimately doesn’t add anything to the movie. Beyond Gator, the rest of the characters are all crooks so there are no other heroes. Even the cops who show up from time to time to blow Gator’s cover seem like bad apples. They come in with an attitude and then storm off when Gator talks to them. Nobody’s reasonable here.

Of course Connors (The sheriff) is your average bad guy so he just likes walking around and terrorizing everyone. Some senior citizens try to play dumb when he shows up and he doesn’t spare any mercy for them either. You’re either with Connors or you’re against him. It’s definitely interesting how the cops can’t do anything about him though. The guy doesn’t seem like he covers his tracks all that well and the whole town is pretty up front with their illegal activities. I think if the cops had tried a little harder they should have been able to crack this case without Gator.

There aren’t any nice visuals to distract you with either as the film takes place in an old town. Everything’s pretty grungy so you certainly won’t be seeing any technology running around. The film’s supposed to keep you engaged with Gator’s quest for evidence, but this doesn’t work either since the main character doesn’t want to find any evidence. He just wants to take Connors down for the count and I doubt that arresting him was ever really part of the goal. He’s just lucky that everyone kept on sparing him the whole time instead of shooting on sight. His final plan takes forever and a day to finally get started.

The final car chase is good at least though. We get to see the characters put the pedal to the mettle as they chase each other around for a while. You can probably guess how the chase will end, but it’s still an action scene at last. Before that we do get a full action scenes and even a fight, but this was the car chase that we needed. It’s not enough to save the film of course, but at least this way we don’t have to end on a sour note.

It’s a shame that the cops ignored the town because it seems like it was definitely pretty rough for everyone in it. They probably should have moved away, but of course that is never possible for everyone. At first you think that Connors and his gang are at least nice rulers to those who follow the rules, but based on how they act later on it seems like they also just like to terrorize people for kicks. They get away with a whole lot and even by the end of the film you wonder how much has really changed. Even without the head honcho we know that a bunch of other people were also corrupt so hopefully those guys were taken down too.

Overall, White Lightning is definitely a film where I’d recommend skipping it. The character cast is weak and the film does tend to drag on a bit. Not having a good main character definitely hurt this movie right from the start and it only gets weaker from there. Even the teens who died at the beginning don’t sound like they were all that smart. When you live in a town controlled by the villains it probably isn’t the best time to exercise your right to free speech. If you want to watch a grim tale of tragedy and revenge then this is the one for you. If you want a movie with a better main character then check out the original Mission Impossible instead.

Overall 3/10

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Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Malone Review

This review is of the edited TV-14 version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative.

It’s time for a CIA type revenge thriller. Revenge films can always be tough since naturally the lead is getting revenge for something which means a tragic backstory. Some films take this as far as they can. What’s the saddest thing that can happen? Usually it involves family dying, sometimes it’s the film dying (By having the dog die) but there are many different versions. The film has to be careful not to make the scene too tragic/mean spirited or the movie is over before it has begun while still trying to make the scene reasonably emotional. It’s a tight rope act.

Richard used to work for the CIA, but lately he has a hard time murdering people. He wants out and decides to just walk away. Naturally you can’t just walk away from a job like this but he’s the best in the business so it’s reasonably easy to dodge his former subordinates. He finds himself in a small town that has been taken over by corrupt cops and thugs. They want to commit terrorist acts against the country and see Richard as a threat. They decide to destroy him and his newfound friends to teach the guy a lesson. Richard will have to either stop the enemies or avenge his friends.

This film has that gritty 80s vibe to it from the start. You never really feel like Richard’s friends have a shot here. They all mean well and are pretty nice but that’s exactly why they seem expendable. You have the kid who looks up to Richard, her father who refuses to sell his land to the villains (uh oh) and a CIA agent who has arrived to arrest Richard but decides to team up with him instead. Death flags will pop up for all 3 and the real question is who will live past this ordeal. Also since the cops are involved and corrupt this can lead to the frustrating scenario where they can and will arrest Richard for anything just so they can take his guns. They can even just handcuff him so the villains can beat him up without a fight.

When the cops are in on it the hero is put in a very bad spot. It’s pretty hard to overcome this because after a point the only option is to take down the cops and the villains which will lead you to becoming a fugitive across the country. It’s a tough spot for sure. The film does a good job of painting a bleak picture for Richard. It’s certainly a thriller with high stakes. I can’t say that Richard does a bad job against them as he reasonably does all he could, but I think he begins to falter with the romance angle in general and some of his decision making skills. He may not have had to go for revenge if he had planned things out better.

The romance angle here is definitely very weak though. The CIA agent coming over just to be swayed by Richard was certainly a bit much. There goes her professionalism. I can understand her not wanting to listen to the corrupt order to murder Malone, but there’s a fine line between that and getting together with him. Then the film also has the kid start to like Richard which makes for a very tricky plot. Especially since Richard is not nearly as firm as he should have been in declining her. He’s at least 30 years older than her, maybe more so. It was just a lousy plot. The film should have absolutely skipped the romance plots in this film and that would have been a really good idea. It’s all pretty unnecessary.

Naturally the film can also be a bit gritty. I wouldn’t say that it ever becomes over the top violent or anything but it’s definitely got that 80s vibe to it. The deaths can be pretty gruesome even if they aren’t all on screen. It’s basically what you would expect from the premise. Unfortunately the CIA part of it doesn’t get as much screen time as I would have liked. It would have been nice to see the CIA step in and start fighting with the villains. After all, while they want to cover all of this up you’d think that they would also be happy to take care of the local mob and cops right? Instead they also appear to be just as corrupt as the villains. The film tries to make it crystal clear that only Malone and the two people he’s living with can be trusted.

Overall, Malone isn’t a film that I would particularly recommend. It feels a lot like some of the wild west films like Hang em High and other such titles with the tough main character who shows up to take down the villains but simply isn’t nearly as engaging as those were. The main character isn’t quite as good and while the villains were reasonable I guess they don’t do anything to save the film. It’s not a very pleasant film either. Naturally it’s fun to see Malone go in and take down the villains, but by the time he does it feels like an empty victory.

Overall 4/10