The Pelican Brief Review

It’s time for a movie about a full government conspiracy. This one goes very deep into the inner government and so the characters can’t be safe anywhere. Conspiracy films can be a lot of fun with how you can’t really trust anyone but have to be able to use people to get your message across. Otherwise on your own there’s only so much that you can do. There’s a good amount of twists and espionage throughout the movie so it makes for a really solid adventure.

The film starts off with two supreme court justices being taken out by some kind of assassin. People wonder why and how this happened but nobody really knows. That’s when we meet our main character Darby. She wrote a quick paper/theory on who she thought actually set this up and it’s a big conspiracy involving the government. She tells her teacher that she’s having an affair with and he tells his contact within the White House. Soon enough the teacher is dead and eventually the same is true of the White House contact. It’s clear that Darby struck a nerve in her paper and so she needs to try and put as much distance between her and these guys as possible. The last person she can trust is a reporter named Gray but can she really trust him?

The film definitely makes it look easy with how the justices were taken out but you figure it had to be tough and so the only people who could do this would be professionals. That’s pretty much what the government says here. They all doubt each other like the FBI going up against the CIA but at the end of the day they have so many “leads” and theories that it’s hard to put any stock in any of them. The government is not close to cracking this case at all except for Darby who seems to have a handle on it. We don’t really get to find out most of the details until near the end of the film but it’s definitely very interconnected.

Darby is a solid main character and I can definitely understand why she wanted to stay out of this. Everybody around her keeps on dying and she doesn’t want to be next. Absolutely understandable since it’s not like Gray could likely protect her from the whole government if it comes to that. At the same time, he really needs her around as a witness because otherwise he doesn’t have a case. His boss reminds him of that a lot. Honestly the boss is a pretty good character, I would say he’s reasonable and at the end of the day he’s someone who actually will have your back.

Darby puts herself in a lot of risky positions throughout the film so I’d definitely give her kudos there. As for Gray, he’s a good guy as well. He won’t be bought by the government or any of the villains. He’ll just keep on going until he has the truth in hand. Having someone you can depend on like this is absolutely massive. The heroes have to survive being shot at and tracked down after all. If either one of them had been on their own for the whole movie then they would have certainly been defeated. You need teamwork to survive a situation like this.

The Pelican Brief has a really strong atmosphere going on the whole time too. You always feel a bit unsettled as the characters are walking around because danger can be anywhere. Like when Darcy is walking with the white house guy and doesn’t realize that he was taken out by an imposter. You know that things could go very badly for her right from the start. You also don’t get all of the answers right away as the film likes to leave you guessing on which squad actually sent out the it this time. Every group has their own reasons foe either trying to destroy the brief or in allowing it to succeed.

There aren’t too many heroes here as a result since everybody is protecting their own self interests. Even the President of the USA doesn’t look very good here as he’s also very suspicious and cares more about being re-elected than being just. As a result you see him quite a few times taking the low road here. In general it’s hard to win when everyone above you is so corrupt. That feeling of powerlessness is definitely a classic in the conspiracy genre.

This movie is fairly long but it’s executed well. In this case you can understand the length because of how complex the plot is and how the film has to develop everything. It does lead into a very satisfying ending so I’d say that worked out well. Additionally it has a good amount of replay value as you look at the scenes now knowing what you learn from the ending. It would make for a fun re-watch.

I would say one of the best scenes in the movie is when the heroes have to head to a law firm to track someone down. Needless to say, the villains had already anticipated this so it’s not very easy but it was a good try either way. Getting out of there alive was a puzzle in itself as choosing the wrong way out or showing weakness could be fatal. There is definitely a body count here as learning just about anything can put you in the hot seat. There may be some times you figure that the main characters should be dead at that. I suppose a defense you can make is that the villains still have to be a tiny bit subtle or this will become a big thing. So they can’t go around popping everyone off and have to at least have some kind of cover-up. They definitely took out the other characters quick enough but we don’t actually know how long they were planning that. So it could have taken longer than expected.

When it’s you against the world then you really can’t afford to take it easy. The heroes are always on the move and the only real ally here was Gray’s boss. That guy deserves a special shout-out because he actually was very helpful and wasn’t just around to waste time or slow the pacing down. Once he saw how serious this was, he was ready to help right away. I think that’s one thing this film has over other conspiracy titles. This time not everyone was in on it so you actually had a few good men who were helping out or minding their business. It wasn’t completely hopeless and the ending helps to support that as well. Mix in the solid writing and you’ve really got a winner here.

Overall, The Pelican Brief is a pretty good government conspiracy film. These kind of films can make you feel paranoid or you can just say that the whole thing feels bonkers. Either way you can have a good time here. The name is also rather catchy and actually becomes something to think about as opposed to just being some random title. Everything has some meaning in this film. So check this one out if it sounds like your cup of tea.

Overall 7/10

Black and Blue Review

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

It’s time for a police thriller here as Alicia has to try and get past the corruption to make a difference. In a way you could call this a part conspiracy film as almost literally everyone is out to destroy Alicia before she can get the truth out. It’s got enough explosive moments throughout the film to be a complete thriller but this movie doesn’t end up making it into the big leagues.

The film starts off with Alicia joining the police department in her hometown and she is looking to make a difference. Unfortunately none of her old friends seem to like her anymore now that she’s a cop. Her partner is okay but the police department as a whole seems rather bad as she is attacked on day 1 when they don’t recognize her and later on she even has to hear some cat calls. Clearly this department is in need of better personnel but before there is even much of a chance to think about transferring, she witnesses a few cops murdering a gang member. She has the footage to put them away but they got a few shots off first so she is injured. With the whole police department after her, can Alicia survive?

Alicia is a solid main character and definitely one of the highlights in the film. She does a good job of hiding out from the force throughout the movie and doesn’t waver in her quest to make sure that justice is done. We don’t get to see her fight a whole lot here but this isn’t really that kind of movie. The main goal is just to survive until she can get some help. Alicia usually sees through the traps that are set out for her which is good.

My only issue is that she can act a bit oblivious when it comes to her friends pretending not to know her. It’s apparently been something like 10 years so of course they aren’t going to be immediately jumping into conversation. Additionally it seems that the town has a really strained/broken relationship with the police so either that wasn’t the case when she left or she didn’t notice. Regardless as soon as they saw her badge that was it. They were definitely not going to be friends after that.

In particular Alicia’s former best friend. Honestly that’s no big shame because Missy was just really bonkers the whole time. I think the scene that really went overboard is when the gangsters finally see Alicia’s feed so they know she isn’t the villain but Missy tries to convince them to murder her anyway. Really? There’s no way to like Missy after that so maybe it’s for the best if they go their separate ways anyway.

Milo gets a big role in the film and he’s someone that Alicia can count on. That’s a good thing because without any allies around that would have really been awful for her. Having even just 1 teammate can make a huge difference in these things. He also does well in infiltrating the police base and helping out during the movie. Without him it’s fair to say that Alicia would have definitely been doomed here. There were just too many to get past here.

Alicia’s partner Kevin definitely isn’t great. I mean, he’s portrayed as one of the more reasonable guys here but even then he doesn’t exactly jump to help Alicia when it counts. He always tends to look the other way when crimes are going on and so while he isn’t an active participant, it doesn’t seem like he’s a great guy. Kevin just let everyone down but at least he does have a good moment near the end.

Malone is the main villain here and he does a good job of playing the field. He is always in control of what’s going on and has the villains and heroes being in fear of him. The gangsters could beat him but the partnership is mutually beneficial. You’ll still wonder how Malone can be going around openly shooting and acting like a villain but nobody tends to look closely in this film. For all we know quite a lot of them are in on the take which would also explain why Malone isn’t worried in the slightest. I do think he works well as a villain though.

The gang have a fairly big role as the big third party in the film. They’re villains of course even if they aren’t the main antagonist of the film. By the end the gangsters try to be a bit reasonable but considering that they were beating up on Milo for a while and nearly destroyed him and Alicia, you never forget that they are villains. This experience might hopefully help them not to jump to conclusions and be manipulated so easily next time. I thought they were going to be more suspicious of the intel they got throughout the movie but they actually seemed to buy Malone’s story 100% without any doubts.

Beyond that you have a few more corrupt cops like Deek running around but they don’t get a whole lot more to do. I would say part of my issue here is with how widespread this is. At first it’s one rogue cop teaming up with the NARC agents. Then we find out there are 2 more cops in on it, then this becomes 4, and gradually you wonder who isn’t on it. Even though it starts to feel like she’s in the middle of a conspiracy, presumably not everyone on the force is in on this. You just don’t get to see any actual good cops throughout the film.

I’d have liked to have seen a few reasonable characters. It’s the biggest difference between this and how an older film would have played it. The difference here is restraint. In an older title you’d probably see some decent characters even if they got bumped off. Here that just doesn’t happen. It’s quite telling that in the very first scene in the film Alicia is pushed against a wall and quickly threatened by the cops just for jogging. The police appear to be extremely aggressive in every scene that they appear in.

They’re the villain group in this film and they basically act like gangsters. You might have seen this more in the wild west but in a film set in the modern day it all feels too extreme. So that was one element that really held the film back here which is that everything feels very exaggerated. You have all the stereotypes within a few minutes, “This guy giving you trouble” one of the cops asks as he grabs his gun when the characters were having a completely peaceful chat with nothing going on.

The soundtrack is also underwhelming as I didn’t care for any of the lyrical songs. That one’s of course more of a minor thing. In the end the writing is more on the underwhelming side too. The best thing about the film is that the thriller scenes are pretty solid. We do get some decent fights in the mix even if none of them would really hold up against the bigger action titles. You’ll still be engaged from start to finish, but the whole time you feel like the movie could have been better.

Overall, The whole film just feels super extreme but not in a cool 90’s snowboarding kind of way. If I’m Alicia I would have definitely transferred to another division even after the crisis was over but good on her for sticking it out. It’s the kind of experience that would almost make you want to look for a whole new line of work. The film ends on a hopeful note that things should be better in the future now. There’s the added bonus of a ton of villains being taken down during the climax so the town should also be a lot safer right away.

Overall 3/10

Dreamscape Review

If you were able to weaponize a dream that would have to be one of the more dangerous prospects out there. How can you defend yourself if you’re still dreaming? Well, this film delves into that and it makes for a very interesting watch. It’s the kind of sci-fi concept that’s cool to check out and the film keeps it engaging by throwing in some monsters too.

The movie starts off with Alex using his psychic powers to win at the horse races again. Unfortunately he’s not too subtle with his constant winnings and so people are starting to hunt him down to get some of those profits. This leads to him being desperate enough to get into a car with some shady characters who take him to Professor Paul. Paul was a part of the group that originally ran the tests with Alex and got him these psychic powers.

Well, the experiments have continued and they need Alex once again. Alex was always one of the most promising cadets after all so they need him now. The idea is that Alex can jump into a person’s dreams and help them contend with previous traumas or even just give the scientist some info based on the dream. Ideally this is a way to help humanity because you can end nightmares and other forms of stress. Unfortunately, the government has other plans for this.

If you die in the dream you die in the real world so what better way than to use this for an assassination right? There is a particularly disturbed guy named Tommy at this lab and he has psychic abilities that rival Alex’s own. Alex will have to decide if he stays at the lab to help the patients who really need him or if he should get out before he is in some real danger.

Now when I say psychic powers, I should emphasize that we’re talking purely mental here so don’t expect people to be throwing trees. Alex can see through trading cards and into the mind to an extent. He can go into someone’s dreams but he can’t go into their minds like that when they’re awake or at least not to a serious degree. He can pull out some thoughts from the top of their minds at least.

Alex is a solid main character and I can see why he ran off the first time. It definitely doesn’t seem like this is the kind of place where you would be safe for too long. They’ll use you for the intel and then you’ll be taken out. Growing up in such a facility is probably why Alex is very tough in the present. He’s always got a barb ready for the other characters and has a lot of bravado. He ultimately does decide to help a little kid who was having nightmares even though a lot of other people died earlier.

So Alex does have his heroic qualities as well. Mainly the only scene I really didn’t like is when he went into Jane’s dream to have an affair when she had been declining him in the real world. It’s definitely a low move and it’s hard to see how their romance was still able to flourish despite this in the present. That seems like it would be a relationship killer to me.

As for Jane, well she tries to keep things professional but Alex isn’t interested in that from the start. Jane’s not on board with the more shady elements of the job so she does have more of a moral compass than the other staffers but there wasn’t a whole lot to her character. You’ve got Paul who wants to keep the experiments on the level but he ultimately reacted a little too slowly. Maybe if this was less of a charged area he would have been okay but the instant he stayed late at night and said no to the villain I knew it was game over. It was a tense scene when he walks into the hallway though. The guy just didn’t act until it was too late but he does at least have a backup plan set into motion by then.

Bob is the main villain here and the guy is rather intense. The film plays out a bit like a government conspiracy title at times and he does a really good job in that role. You can tell that he’s willing to do anything in order to have that weapon. These corporate kind of villains always manage to be very interesting and this guy’s no exception. Then you have the crazy Tommy who is all too happy to join in with this.

He’s a guy who always liked using his psychic powers for evil so it’s a perfect fit. Alex is really the only person that Tommy can’t intimidate. In the fight scenes that take place in the dream, I like how creatively Tommy uses his abilities. Really he could have murdered Alex in an instant if he wasn’t so busy toying with the guy the whole time. It’s why you never want to play with your food.

There’s also Charlie who is definitely the most random character in the film. Somehow or other he knows about what is going on with the dream wars and manages to track Alex down. The guy must have a lot of connections but at the same time he had no exit plan which doesn’t go over very well for him. Choosing a crowded location was a good idea but ultimately it just wasn’t safe enough. I was glad about his inclusion though because the conspiracy scenes are some of the most tense ones in the film.

Finally there is also the President but he’s not the smartest member in the group. I don’t think having bad dreams would be enough for me to subject myself to a super risky dream experiment that is still in the trial phase. Nah, I’m definitely not doing that. He also comes across as weak with how he isn’t able to touch Bill even though he was almost murdered. This guy’s the President? I don’t care about red tape at that point, you blast Bill and then cover it up. He should at least have that much power.

The film definitely has a really intense ending on two fronts. First is Alex’s final decision and battle which is a really effective scene. Then you have the final moment which will make you really think everything over again like Inception. My view is that the ending isn’t quite real, but it’s hard to say how far back it goes. Depending on how far back we’re talking…well that could be depressing for Alex.

An area where the film really excels is with the actual dreams. I liked the visuals we had there from the Nuclear aftermath to that creature that Alex had to fight. The dreams had a solid atmosphere to them and even the opening dream with the guy getting cheated on had a very grainy look to it that let you know this was a dream right away. I could have done without that crazy dream but it certainly felt weird enough to fit right in.

Overall, Dreamscape is a solid thriller. It has that classic 80s feeling as well where something just isn’t right but it’s hard to put your finger on it. Everyone seems dodgy and the whole area seems unsafe. You get the feeling that Alex is always being watched even when no one is around. That general atmosphere of unease is hard to nail and the film did a good job with it. I’d recommend checking this out if you want to see how the world of dreams can be a very dangerous thing.

Overall 6/10

Now You See Me 2 Review

With the first Now You See Me there were definitely a whole lot of magic tricks on display. Most of them wouldn’t work in real life though so by the end you might as well say it was real magic. There were a ton of plot twists as well so things kept on spinning. Well, this film continues that as the stakes get higher and the magic even more fantastical. It’s a fun film but after a while you have to accept that the main characters know real magic for this to make sense.

We pick up about a year after the first film. The Horsemen are currently in hiding since they are nationally wanted fugitives at this point. Still, Atlas is sick of hiding and asks the Eye to make him the leader over Dylan. The Eye says that might happen someday so just keep pressing on. Shortly afterwards Dylan arrives with the next mission. It’s time to expose another corrupt company. The only problem is that the Horsemen are quickly overwhelmed by a new villain and kidnapped. They must now obey Walter’s orders and steal a tech device or they will all be murdered.

Trust me when I say there is really a lot going on here. Pretty much every character from the first film returns and then you have quite a few new villains popping up here. It definitely raises the stakes and you have to really pay attention if you want to keep up with all of the various plot twists as well. There are so many twists that you feel like the film goes in a full circle where each villain has a plan that’s around 15 layers long. It’s pretty impressive even if it’s also a bit hard to believe at times.

First off, it is fun to see the magic the way the film uses it. Every trick appears quite grand. The characters are good at talking really quickly while they divert your attention and pull out some other kind of trick. The only weakness is part of the fun would be trying to solve the tricks yourself but with half of these appearing to be pure sci-fi there isn’t anything to figure out. Character teleport around the rooms and move as if they were as fast as the Flash. Not only are you suspending disbelief at this point but you actively know that the film is mocking you.

It’s a blast as long as you do look at it through a supernatural lens though. These magicians were scouted by the Eye after all so why wouldn’t they have some kind of ability with the supernatural right? It adds up if you ask me and then it definitely helps clear the air. The special effects are really on point as well. Everything looks really sharp and high tech. You feel like you’re at a futuristic magic show.

The soundtrack is also impressive. It may be a bit limited but the tunes are memorable to be sure. So even if you hear the same track a lot, it becomes more of a theme for the main characters than anything else. The writing itself can be rather shaky at times though. As I mentioned, the film loves its twists but much like the first film, it feels like the twists are here to be here even if they don’t make sense.

A good twist does not necessarily need to be foreshadowed but it should make sense. There have been many great twists in cinema like the Joker intentionally getting captured in the Dark Knight, Eggman tricking Tails into confirming the validity of the Chaos Emerald in Sonic Adventure 2 Battle, Darth Vader calling Obi Wan’s bluff and stabbing him in Star Wars, etc. Then you have twists that don’t really make sense in titles like Attack on Titan that make you think. This is definitely in the latter where even with hindsight if you look back at the films they don’t make sense.

The films have you in a whole merry go ride as things go back and forth and it’s all entertaining but I wouldn’t say it meshes. Still, you can look through it like most. The twists are entertaining and taken at face value, they can be a blast. The script itself also has a lot of great dialogue but also some cringey lines as well. You’ll be shaking your head at quite a bit of the dialogue. So the writing is a mixed bag. The story itself will keep you very well engaged but it’s clear that making everything fit in with the story is secondary to shock value.

As for the characters, I would say the antagonists really steal the show here. First we have Chase who is McKinney’s brother. He’s a pretty terrifying antagonist because he can mind control the other characters with ease and is also able to read body language perfectly. Effectively eh can do anything that McKinney can do to an even higher degree. The guy is twisted and very confident in his abilities. You won’t be forgetting the guy anytime soon.

Then you have Walter who is another genius. The guy enacts a pretty big plan to take down the main characters while barely lifting a finger. He may not be quite as high up on the list as some of the other masterminds but he has his moments. He was a fun antagonist and certainly did well in building up his own team.

Thaddeus can’t be forgotten either as he wants revenge after being captured in the first film. He knows that he has a lot of ground to make up after all so get ready to watch him act all knowing from his prison cell. Turns out you can do a lot from there. He’s incredibly confident and smug as always and is an entertaining character.

Likewise I enjoy Arthur for most of the same reasons. He’s not quite as clever as some of the other characters but he is incredibly rich and has a lot of connections. As a result he can really open doors that nobody else can and doesn’t have to hide from the others. You can definitely tell that this is the kind of guy who definitely won’t hide from anyone.

As for the heroes, we have Atlas who shares the lead spot with Dylan. Atlas was effectively the leader for most of the first movie so he’s not happy to be playing second fiddle this time around. The guy is pretty smart and as talented as ever so it’s easy to see why he doesn’t want to be a backup. He’s my favorite member of the team and does a good job of taking the lead.

Then you have McKinney who likes to take things easy and rarely gets serious. This film is pretty hard on him since there really isn’t a whole lot that he can do against most of the villains. his mind manipulation is still a pretty deadly ability though and not something to be trifled with. I’m not a big fan but he’s not bad.

Next up is Jack who is still the most hands on member of the group. He’s really good with card tricks and has even started learning hypnosis. As a result he now has two special talents which has to make him the most powerful member of the group overall. He’s more charismatic than some of the other characters. While he’s a junior member, I expect Jack will continue improving rapidly.

Lula is the new member of the group as she replaces the previous heroine. Her debut appearance is impressive as she speed blitzed Atlas multiple times and basically humiliates him by staying one step ahead. Her talent is being an expert escape artist and she does this really well. I’m not a big fan of her character though as her main personality trait is being as loud and obnoxious as possible for distraction purposes. Or it might be her main personality but she’s a bit more crude than the rest of the team.

Finally you have Dylan. It’s pretty neat to see him as the commander while still messing with the FBI in the intro. The guy was shown to be the ultimate mastermind at the end of the first film and he keeps that hype here. There’s one scene in particular where he has to fight a bunch of opponents at once and manages to keep them at bay using his magic. Now that’s impressive and not something that just anybody could do. He made for a solid character and one of the best heroes.

Overall, Now You See Me 2 definitely succeeds as a fun thriller. Perhaps calling it a heist film would be more appropriate though. The music is on point, the special effects are really cutting edge and I enjoyed the cast of characters. When you put that all together you have a recipe for a very successful movie. What holds me back from calling it great is that the writing could definitely use a lot of work. It’s a fun film but one that doesn’t hold up under scrutiny. There is a lot of replay value though so I’d consider it a higher tier 7 but it just can’t make it to the next bend. There’s a fun sequence where the characters are all throwing cards around while everyone on the opposing side forgot to bring their glasses so they don’t notice anything. I thought that was pretty creative and a good way to show off their sleight of hand.

Overall 7/10

Saboteur Review

It’s time for a film that I saw quite a while ago so it’s about time I did the review. It’s an engaging thriller with a lot of fun characters and a good conspiracy angle. It will definitely hold your attention from start to finish. The film feels short while you’re watching it but the length is on point.

The movie starts out with a few guys at an army base ready for another day. Barry bumps into a rather ill mannered guy named Fry who doesn’t seem to want to be here. Barry doesn’t think much of it but then a fire breaks out. Fry hands Barry a fire extinguisher that was actually loaded with fuel. This would have been the end of Barry but his friend offered to help stop the fire and got the booby trapped device. He dies and now everyone thinks Barry is the saboteur. Barry needs to find a way to clear his name and to do that he will need to find the man named Fry. Fry conveniently escaped at the time of the explosion though and there’s no trace that he was ever here.

You could say that the majority of this film plays out like an adventure film. Barry is on the run from the world and the only hint that he has is a post card Fry dropped that references a farm somewhere. He hitches a ride and makes it over there but it’s not so easy or the film would be 30 minutes long. Lets just say that this is a global conspiracy and Fry isn’t a 1 man army. He has friends that are helping him achieve his goals and Barry finds this out the hard way.

Barry ends up getting captured and put into a tough spot more than once. What makes a lot of these adventures fun though is that the dialogue is really good here. This shouldn’t come as any surprise to you but the script is on point and it helps to enhance the pacing. The characters have fairly layered discussions on the situation. Barry questions why they are even doing this a few times. The villains say they can’t stand the U.S. but as Barry points out, they’ve done rather well for themselves in the country.

I wouldn’t say any of the villains are particularly memorable as far as their names go aside from Fry, but I did like the owner of the ranch a lot. He was really smooth with getting Barry to drop his guard down. He acts nice enough and even has his kid around despite being ready to take Barry out at any moment. Even his maid has a gun at the ready. See, a lot of the villains in this film have a good amount of political influence and have positions aside from being mobsters. It’s part of what makes them hard to stop like in the party scene near the end.

It’s hard for people to believe that these guys are spies. It’s also a hard sell to believe some random person you’ve never met before over people you have lived and chatted with for decades. Barry only has one ally and I hesitate to call her that. Early on in the film he ends up heading to a shack where a blind man allows him entry. They get along pretty well and the guy figures out what secrets Barry is hiding very quickly. He’s without a doubt one of the best characters in the film.

His niece Patricia is not quite as reasonable. She just wants to arrest Barry at any cost and doesn’t believe him one bit. Now, it’s fine that she’s skeptical, it’s not a story that just anyone would buy. It’s all quite incredible but then she shouldn’t lie about it. Be straight with her uncle that she doesn’t believe Barry or let him go but pretending to take him to the locksmith and going to the police instead is pretty fishy.

Now, the uncle’s lock picking friends turned out to be a little dicey as well but leave that for Barry to figure out. Instead it takes a lot longer to get to the destination and gets risky. Right through to the end Patricia is still making calls. I’d give her more props for being heroic if she handled things differently but as it is she just gets in the way. By the time she weakens and joins Barry for good it feels like it’s a little late in the game.

Barry’s a decent main character but I wouldn’t say he’s great either. He could have done a much better job of explaining himself. When Patricia says she’s cold he immediately uses this as an excuse to start flirting as well which just doesn’t seem like a very heroic thing to do. I’d like to see him focus more on trying to stop Fry and saving the world. He doesn’t tend to enter the situations very well prepared but fortunately luck is usually on his side.

Overall, The Saboteur is a pretty good film. The plot is interesting and the dialogue between the characters is a blast. I would say the villains tended to be more interesting than the heroes though. I liked the Uncle a lot with his brief screen time though. Barry and Patricia could have been stronger but I wouldn’t say they were bad either. They just needed some kind of boost to make them better leads. If you’re up for a good spy thriller then this is definitely a solid one to check out.

Overall 7/10

Enemy of the State 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

Whenever you start thinking about all the different tech that may be tracking you at any given second it can always feel a bit overwhelming. Just remember that even with all of that tech there are constantly new mysteries every day so you’re probably good. Of course when every big department is after you at the same time, it gets a little tricky.

The movie starts with the government silencing one big politician who was voting against a new bill that would allow the government to use surveillance on its citizens to an even greater degree than usual. One guy gets it on camera though and just barely manages to give it to Robert before getting taken out. The issue is that Robert doesn’t realize he was given anything and now the government is trying to take him out of the picture. Can Robert survive?

From Robert’s point of view, he had been trying to get a present for his wife. He has a rather hectic case involving the mafia right now so it’s been a long day. Robert is used to dealing with tough characters but the mafia guy is threatening to murder him if he doesn’t bring in the guy who got the incriminating tape of him within a few days. Shortly after the government breaks into Robert’s home and he’s on the run. With a smear campaign targeting Robert and his own family putting in some distance, he’s in a lot of danger now. Can he escape this conspiracy?

Robert is really lucky in that he ends up knowing someone in a big position here. Rachel is his correspondent and serves as the mediator when working with the mysterious Brill who supplies him with all kinds of information. Robert has never met Brill but he’s going to need that guy if he wants to stand any chance against the government.

Particularly because you’ll notice during the film that Robert is hardly the smartest character around. You’d never guess he was an attorney because everything seems to go over his head. I haven’t seen a character slower on the uptake in quite a while. By the end of the film he’s starting to piece things together but without Brill he would not have lasted very long at all.

The first half of the film really involves a ton of chase scenes and the feeling that the government is getting closer and closer to taking him out for good. It makes for a fun game of cat and mouse as they don’t always directly go after him. They use some tricks along the way like canceling his cards and making up a bunch of stories about him. After all, all they gotta do is discredit him and get the guy isolated. From their end they have a lot that they can do.

In the second half once Robert meets Brill I’d say we get more into the counter attack part of the movie. I dare say this half is even more fun because it’s nice to see him finally back on the attack and actually making some headway here. Brill is also a pretty fun character. He’s quite experienced and knows how to take the government on in a game of wits. It’s clear that Brill was one of the best back in his day.

Even the Mafia plot gets a very satisfactory ending that I wasn’t really expecting. It’s easy to forget about that plot with how much is happening but it ends up being very important. It’s always fun when you have a plot that comes full circle like that. It also makes for the best scene in the entire movie. Certainly a pretty hype way to end things off.

There’s a small sub plot where the government at large starts to learn about this conspiracy but it doesn’t really go anywhere. It would have been fun to show that they at least have some control over their own tech and operatives when someone goes on a power trip but that doesn’t really happen. Ultimately it’s Brill and Robert who really have to do everything on their own.

I wouldn’t say there are a lot of supporting characters here. You’ve got Rachel who is a little unreasonable at times. She is definitely in a rather tricky spot but blaming Robert on this when in the middle of a government conspiracy? I dunno about that. Especially once we learn some twists involving her which should have meant she would have had a clearer picture of things.

Then you have Robert’s family. They’re not bad but definitely not too ready for what’s going on. It’s the kid’s fault that a lot of the events play out the way that they did. If the kid hadn’t taken something then it’s hard to say how differently this plays out but certainly very different. Robert’s wife also falls into the government trap pretty easily. Now we learn some things about Robert that make this an easy trap to fall into but it certainly doesn’t help the situation. Even once they make up you feel like they’re wasting a lot of time with all the hugging and loving when there are literally government agents around every corner closing in. Robert doesn’t have this kind of time.

I should say that with the knowledge of Robert’s past it does prevent him from being a solid character as well. So really the best characters here are actually Brill and the main villain Thomas. Thomas really makes the most of his scenes and you always get the feeling that he’s in control. The guy won’t go down easy at all and has planned things out well. You do feel like there’s no way he should have this much power unchecked but it just underscores the fact of why this new bill would be dangerous. Clearly the government in this film cannot be trusted with this level of power.

A film like this can only be as strong as its writing and fortunately the writing is on point. The movie will keep your attention easily enough and that stands true for the whole film. I definitely tend to enjoy this genre of everyone using tech to go after someone. It’s pretty nice to come up with tactics to stay off the grid so to speak.

Overall, Enemy of the State is a very solid film. It’s a good thriller that is quite long and manages to flesh out each story beat and plot. It’s long enough where the film is even able to change the very approach and feel that it was going for between each half. Now that’s pretty impressive. The cast may not be all that solid but it’s not like the characters are really bad or anything. Robert still makes for a fun main character at least and the mental battles between Brill and Thomas are what you’re really here for even if that doesn’t happen until near the end. If you want a good political thriller exploring what it means to wield a lot of power then this is a fun one to check out for sure.

Overall 7/10

Bullitt Review

Bullitt is definitely a true noir film to its core but with a more modern aesthetic than the older ones. It’s a pretty good title with a lot going on at all times. It’s a bit on the longer side to be sure so that lets the movie really have a lot of characters the whole time. As I’ll mention below Frank doesn’t have to be a one man army this time as he actually has some good help.

The film starts on a really high energy note during the credits. We see the burglars taking a lot of guys out with hit and run tactics or just classic gunfire. It’s a pretty interesting start since we don’t yet know what’s going on but what better way to start a film like this right? The answers are all given slowly during the movie.

Frank is the main character here. He’s a detective who has been assigned to protect Ross, a mobster who is going to be a crucial witness against a big criminal organization. Frank is fairly confident that they can handle this so he and his two partners take shifts on who will protect the guy. Unfortunately his partner is not that smart and lets Ross get near the door. Not a great idea when you’re watching over someone and things are already getting suspicious…..Naturally both the partner and Ross get shot.

Well, now everybody’s in a whole lot of trouble. Chalmers, one of the higher ups is blaming Frank for this. Frank meanwhile thinks something is really fishy about the whole set up so he hides Ross’s body so nobody will know that he actually died from his injuries. In theory this will lead the hitmen out into the open. Of course this will put Frank at odds with both the cops as well as the villains.

It’s a classic revenge story here as Frank has gone off the reservation in order to get back at the guys who did this. Frank makes for a pretty good lead. He’s certainly not afraid to talk tough to anyone else, including his superiors. Even the plan to get the body tucked away was a risky one that not just any character would pull off. I wouldn’t say Frank is a spectacular character or anything but he does handle the situation well.

Then you have Chalmers who is one of the other main characters. He’s the guy who really wanted Ross for the court case and is the one who made the deal with the guy in the first place. Naturally he’s on Frank’s tail the whole film because he needs the body. The reason Frank doesn’t want to play ball is because this guy seems rather suspicious. His name was used for the burglers to break in and bump Ross off plus the guy seems really desperate to get Ross.

It doesn’t help that Chalmers is also a jerk the whole time such as a scene when he tries to effectively get one of the doctors fired by complaining about him for no other reason than he wanted the guy to give him a different answer. These elements add up to make him someone you don’t really want to partner with. He does make for a fun character because of how exaggerated he is the whole time though.

You’ve also got Frank’s direct boss who was very good. The guy was put in a rather tough spot with all the pressure coming down on him but he still held strong. The captain does have to make certain decisions as part of his job that don’t always align with Frank’s plans but he never turns tail and runs or anything like that. Frank also has another good partner who had a good interrogation at the cafe where he actually outdid Frank as the main guy was a little too much in a hurry. It was nice to see that Frank had some capable allies here.

There is a bit of an extended car chase we get midway through the film but it wasn’t as exciting as some of other classic chases you get in these films. I think part of the issue was the cars they were using couldn’t get up to great speeds so it’s a little less frantic. It’s probably the only scene that I would say dragged a bit here. Always fun to have an action scene though so that was neat.

As this is more a film about cat and mouse games, there aren’t a ton of action scenes. You affectively get 3, the opening shootout, the car chase, and then the climax. Each action scene is pretty solid though so it works out. The story is engaging too so you never really miss the action. After all in a mystery like this you’re most interested in figuring out who the villain really is.

The climax was a lot of fun though. We don’t get a whole lot of action scenes at the airport so it made for a good backdrop. The film even uses the overall layout of the airport to its advantage as it plays a role in dealing with the villain. All of the plots meet up in this section as the climax should.

The only plot here that felt like it didn’t really belong was some mild tension with Frank’s girlfriend Cathy. The case was dragging so she believes it’s taken a big toll on Frank and on them too. Now that’s not necessarily incorrect but considering the high stakes going on right now and multiple people dead as it is, it’s not like Frank can back out now. She also only appeared for maybe 2-3 scenes top in the whole film so it was easy to forget that she was even around.

Overall, Bullitt is a pretty good movie. It’s got a solid plot/premise and good execution all around. The soundtrack has some pretty good tunes thrown into the mix as well like the opening credits theme. If you’re looking for a pretty solid thriller to check out then this will definitely work out pretty well. It’s a strongly written film that doesn’t really have any weaknesses.

Overall 7/10

The Final Cut Review

The Final Cut is a sci-fi film with a pretty interesting idea. It definitely raises some interesting discussion points about the idea of having something that can record your every moment. Unfortunately the movie doesn’t take much time to think about this. The film feels very short which can be seen as a good thing but at the same time it means there isn’t a lot of room to explore anything. At times the film feels rather aimless and never completes any of the more interesting questions it touches on.

The movie starts by introducing us to a new concept that has happened in the universe. There’s now a chip you can implant in yourself which records everything you see and say. When you die, a relative can then send your video file to a cutter who is effectively someone who looks through that data and makes a movie out of it. They then play this at your funeral or “Rememory” as they call it. Alan is known as the best in the biz because he’ll take on the memories of the worst people around and edit the film so much that they appear to be good people. His latest case is another tricky one since he has to clean up an evil guy’s act but then he recognizes a person in the memories. It appears to be someone who died back when Alan was a kid. He’s now determined to find out the truth but meanwhile the people taking a stand against the chip are determined to do whatever it takes.

To start off, the idea of implanting a chip that records what you see doesn’t sound too far off. It seems feasible that this could happen, but I would certainly be on the resistance side. There’s a whole lot of risk with putting anything in your body, especially something that’s around where your brain is. If it short-circuits in your head or you hit your head very hard, what will happen to the chip? It can easily fry your brain or do something else. That’s already reason enough for why you’d never want that kind of thing to be legal. Chipping is just a bad idea for any life forms.

Then you have the whole privacy issue. After all, even if the person using the chip has granted their permission for this to happen, what about all of the people who will inevitably get filmed over the course of that person’s life? Effectively nothing will be private since the cutter is granted free reign over every single memory. Additionally the future audience will also get to see the moments that make the final cut. There are just a lot of reasons why this is a bad idea and of course to maximize its effects we learn in the movie that a lot of people have it plugged into their kids when they are born so there was never even a choice for consent.

The movie tackles both of these themes a bit as there is a whole resistance force against this. The matter even went to court apparently. Alan’s character can’t be bothered with this though so he always runs off when the debate is starting. Alan is completely fine with this until he remembers the skeletons in his closet so then it’s time to dash again. It’s definitely one of those things that you can picture since people are often okay with things until it happens to them. Alan’s definitely not a likable character in the slightest though. His friends are right that his job as a Cutter is just not very savory or even ethical. He’s really just rewriting the past for various characters to try and make them look better. That isn’t good. You can make a case for his being an accomplice by not saying anything.

Naturally the film makes sure to go all the way for this so during the film we see how characters do a lot of awful things that Alan wipes out from the film during the cutting process. The film goes way too far in this area which definitely doomed the movie. You could definitely have established the context of why people are against the implant without having to go into this detail. It shows that the film was not super confident in what explaining its own premise. The worst part is still that we don’t really get to debate the idea either. Alan never really defends his position of why he helps beyond half hearted generalities.

It’s just another reason why he wasn’t a fun lead to follow. Then you have Fletcher who is effectively the main villain here. He wants the tape that Alan is working on so he can prove that this guy was no good from the start. Naturally the proof in this tape would be quite incriminating but Alan is determined not to hand it over because of the Cutter’s Code that he agreed to. Fletcher makes for a much more interesting character than Alan so it would have been interesting to see more of him. I will say that the ending was pretty unexpected with how things played out. I’ll give the film credit on that one.

Then there’s the main heroine Delila but she doesn’t appear all that much so it may be a bit of an overstatement to call her the main heroine. By the start of the film things are already rocky between her and Alan. That said, it still seemed like a bit of an overreaction on her part later on when she’s watching the videos. She clearly knew what his job was so this was the kind of thing he would be doing constantly. It was more personal since it was videos of her of course, but it’s not like that should change the context of what he was doing. I suppose her solution to this was quite permanent but at the same time she could have probably been sued for a ton of money so it was a pretty big risk.

The Final Cut has some interesting ideas and takes place in a unique setting but it’s far too short. We don’t really get to see much of the rebellion itself, the company’s reaction, government, etc. It feels like we’re seeing a very small corner of the world and unfortunately not a very interesting corner. The film relies too much on shock value from the scenes on the videos and is more interested in doing that than actually having Alan have some real conversations about his job. That would have made for a much more interesting film as well as some good debates. If he and Fletcher could have a proper discussion about this without either one constantly dodging questions then that could have been good.

Overall, The Final Cut is a pretty bad film. Alan’s just a poor main character and the fact that I couldn’t agree with any of his decisions and motivations did not help matters. All the videos he would watch tended to be more on the disturbing side. I like the idea of showing a world where this is possible but it wasn’t used properly. In the real world I’d definitely be against any kind of implants like that though. Seems like something that will create a whole lot more harm than good. Maybe someday someone will take another crack at the premise.

Overall 2/10

Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte Review

Whenever you have a film where the main antagonist turns out to get bullied by another one, you have to handle things delicately or the whole project is liable to fail. Can you really take such a turn of events seriously? Now you can handle this quite well in an action setting but in more of a dramatic fashion like this one? Well, it definitely raises a few eyebrows. This film is fairly good all things considered but I do find parts of it to be rather unbelievable. I have to question the writing at times as well.

The movie starts with a flashback where we have a lot of drama going on. Charlotte’s father finds out that she intends to run off with this whiny guy named John. John is already married and both characters know this but he intends to cheat on his wife anyway. Charlotte is cool with this so keep in mind that from the start we know that she’s not exactly a heroic character. Well, the father forces John to turn Charlotte down but he quickly gets hacked to bits for his trouble. We fast forward a few decades and Charlotte is now an old lady that nobody wants to hang out with. Everyone believes she murdered John and people give her a wide berth. The town has tried to be patient as well but her house is supposed to have been torn down but she refuses to leave it. She even goes as far as to shoot at the workers.

Fortunately her cousin Miriam has returned to help smooth things over. Charlotte wants her to convince the town to let her stay in the house but Miriam says this is impossible. Miriam intends to convince Charlotte to leave. The issue is, if Charlotte is still a vicious murderer, is Miriam really safe? Perhaps she should leave quickly. The town is in a tough spot either way since Charlotte has a gun and isn’t afraid to use it. From here on out we get quite a number of twists and turns as the plot goes underway.

And that’s no understatement…there are a ton of twists here. Some which make more sense than others. I’ll go through this while sidestepping any big spoilers and reveals. For starters though, this is the kind of movie that only works with a lead character like Charlotte who is consistently giving everyone a hard time and isn’t very smart. She rarely knows what is going on and panics about everything. There are several times in the film where there is a twist later on that should not have tricked Charlotte the first time but only did so because she handled the whole situation horribly. She badly needed some more will power for certain things.

I also thought she really sunk in terms of personality and toughness by the end. She goes from openly threatening to murder everyone at first and being the toughest character in the room to suddenly being pushed around by everyone. It was hard to watch Charlotte by the end because she was falling for everything. She really needed more of a backbone and it’s just hard to believe because of how tough she was at the start. I admit that the whole thing just didn’t feel particularly earned.

The film’s pretty tame aside from the opening scene. The guy getting axed to bits can be surprisingly intense since the rest of the film is much more of a low key thriller. That said, many of the characters also make similar decisions where they look terrible. You’d think the guy getting hacked to bits would have run off somewhere right? At least reacting a bit more would have made sense. Then you’ve also got Velma who is pretty nosey and tends to find out quite a lot but is very obvious about it. If you’re digging up some dirt about the villains, why would you walk up to them and explain how you’re going to go to the police? It’s just not a smart play by any stretch of the imagination. It’s awfully convenient for the villains though.

Then near the end of the film you have two characters loudly talking about their entire plan in detail for the world to hear. They’re laughing, drinking, and basically having a party. One of them even throws a glass cup away where we hear it loudly shatter and they continue on with their speech. This isn’t in a secret room or anything. No, it’s right in the front yard so that doesn’t make things any better either. It’s a scene that doesn’t make much sense at all, but it is what it is I suppose

So the writing’s not amazing in moments like that. On the whole the film has good enough writing where the plot is interesting. It’s just that when you really zoom in on it, things don’t really seem to add up the way that they should. That or the characters just act very unnaturally in order to get the plot moving. I would argue it starts up right from near the beginning of the film. Still, the movie did have a core focus and a real story unlike other similar titles like “Whatever happened to Baby Jane” which were just awful from start to finish.

I already spoke at length about Charlotte and why she’s a pretty bad character. Miriam no better here. She has her own set of issues and loves doing a lot of different manipulation tactics. Then you have Doctor Drew who seems rather desperate throughout the film. He’s not really someone you can trust all that much to get the job done. Finally there is Velma who is at least more of an interesting character than a lot of the others. Too bad she isn’t very smart though or she could have been a standout character.

The movie’s ending is pretty conclusive though and does end the film on the right note. It’s pretty much an ideal ending in a lot of respects as everything is wrapped up nicely. The film manages to hold onto some points thanks to that. I do think the movie started out better than it ended though. The movie could have gone in a much different direction and I think it would have worked out better that way. Charlotte’s personality shift is still something I can’t really come to terms with.

Overall, This film was really skirting between a 5 and a 6 the whole time. It’s certainly not a bad movie but just how good was it? It was interesting upon first watch although I wouldn’t say there is any replay value to be had here. The writing was rather weak during the film but at least the script was okay. It’s hard to believe almost anything going on in the film so you do need to suspend your disbelief for a bit. As long as you do that then you’re fine. So I’d say that the film ultimately clocks out in the middle. It was close to breaking out but has too many flaws. If you’d like to check out more of an intense mystery you’ll want to look elsewhere.

Overall 5/10

Marnie Review

Marnie is the kind of film that sneaks up on you. By all accounts it should be a pretty decent film as it was made a long time ago and has the classic writing/witty dialogue that you would expect to see here. Unfortunately it makes a number of key mistakes which ultimately doom it to not just being a bad film, but a horrible one all around. There’s certainly no reason to check this out so I would recommend giving it a hard skip.

The movie starts with Marnie swindling another business out of a lot of money. She enjoys going around and stealing money whenever she can which she then gives to her mother Bernice who suffered a major accident a while back and needs the support. Marnie’s next target is another big company led by Mark. What she doesn’t know is that he is one of the people who saw her at the last job so it isn’t hard for him to catch her. His terms are that he won’t report her to the police if she marries him so they get married but she is determined to make this difficult on him.

Everything goes straight down from there quite drastically. For starters we get a pretty random plot with her horse where it shows up but missed the jump and gets injured. Marnie has to put him down which shot a hole through the film’s chances of survival. The horse seems like he was added in just to be blown up which was a bad move. There was just no reason to do this. The film already had enough issues but at the end of the day this does tie into the film’s core problem which is trying to add too much information and backstory. We really don’t need to know any of this stuff for a solid mystery but the film insists on giving everyone an origin story or an extra detail.

Take Lil who is the main villain here. She’s trying to win Mark away from Marnie and it would be the usual love triangle except for one fact which changes everything. She’s Mark’s sister in law. So that basically throws the whole plot out because it’s just an awful storyline to even include in the film. Why did we need to add this extra information to her character? If she was the childhood friend or something it’s be cliché but at least would work a lot better than this variation. It’s too bad because she is easily the most entertaining character of the bunch and I dare say the smartest as well.

Then you have Beatrice and her whole backstory. Naturally it’s tragic to fit in with the rest of the film as she was in a dicey business and getting out took a lot of effort and turned into a whole conspiracy. Where the whole thing ends poorly is that suddenly she is unable to love her daughter anymore and I have a hard time buying into that. Does she sub consciously blame her for what happened or she’s just been completely traumatized from physical touch after the incident? Either way I don’t see how this would totally be blocking her from at least showing some more kindness towards Marnie.

Of course we can’t end there. Then you’ve got Marnie’s phobia of the color red as well as physical contact. This also transfers over to storms as well so she has a phobia of quite a lot of things by the time the film is through with her. We have a rather painful scene where she absolutely refuses to be touched but Mark had enough of this subplot by then and forced the issue. I don’t see why this part of the phobia had to be added and it couldn’t just stick to the color red. Having the phobia evolve with the film’s loose explanation of she was faking it all during the first act was definitely very weak.

Marnie gives Mark a tough time throughout the movie though as she struggles at every turn and never makes any effort to change. While the scenes can have good banter at times, the film never changes things up so a lot of the dialogue remains the same with slight variations. Then you have Mark who isn’t exactly a hero either as his main goal was to marry Marnie from the start so he effectively allowed her plans to progress until he could make use of them. He does what he can to rehabilitate her for most of the film but ultimately wasn’t able to stick the landing such as the boat scene.

This film does have some of the typical thriller aspects like having one person from Marnie’s past show up to start stirring up some trouble. I was glad for at least some quick stakes here because the film needed something. It’s just a shame that it couldn’t focus on this plot a little more and just throw the other ones out. That would have gone a long way towards improving the movie without a doubt. The main issue is really just the writing as it relies on a whole lot of shock value to keep the film going. That’s always a sign of poor writing because it means they were not confident enough in the script to get people watching towards the end without such big scenes.

Overall, Marnie is a film I would highly recommend staying away from. All of the plots are pretty bad here so the film never really gives you a chance to just sit down and enjoy the scenes at hand. It’s always throwing more shock value at you which definitely destroys any chance of the movie actually turning into a quality experience. It’s a shame because at the very least the premise of a thief going around robbing a bunch of people with the boss knowing about it could be fun. This just won’t be the title that actually puts that kind of storyline on the map.

Overall 0/10