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

Three Days of the Condor 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 to look at a conspiracy film involving the CIA. Unlike Hopscotch though this one is played pretty seriously. There are a lot of twists and turns to be found here so you definitely can’t trust anyone. At the end of the day the characters all have to watch their backs. Knowing too much information can definitely be dangerous in this kind of scenario. Although in these movies even if you don’t find something out you can be in danger too. The CIA is just pretty dangerous although in theory the main characters knew that when they signed up.

The film starts off with Turner heading into the office for a normal day at his CIA job. He shows up late and uses the back door to help undermine the security efforts of the team. Everything’s a bit of a joke to him, but why not? He works in the mail division of the CIA and believes that things will be pretty safe here. Well, one day when he goes out to lunch the rest of his team is murdered. Turner calls in for help but the attacks keep on coming. It appears that the enemy has someone on the inside. Turner no longer knows who he can trust in the CIA and they believe he has turned rogue. His only option is to try and prove his loyalty but when you don’t know the extent of the villains’ influence then this is definitely a pretty tricky situation.

Ironically Turner taking the back entrance for lunch is what saved his life. The rest of the group was definitely not ready for this attack. I would have liked to have seen them take down at least one of the villains but it’s pretty realistic. The security protocols here are sound but the group grew lazy and complacent in the security. The instant people walked through the front door unannounced the CIA should have had their guns out. The problem is that this is a regular occurrence between deliveries and such so they were caught unprepared. In truth they should have had even tighter protocols. Nobody should be allowed through that door without ID which means that nobody in the building should even be allowed to order lunch. Of course, even in real life a lot of these places take many security chances.

I can’t say I’m a big fan of Turner though. I don’t mind his antics early on but I don’t feel like he handled being on the run so well. Mainly what holds him back is the whole plot with Kathy. He certainly needed a place to hide out but he was pretty iffy with how he handled the whole thing. Once he went to complete kidnapping that basically made him a villain as well. The romance that ensued was also fishy because it felt extremely rushed and almost like stockholm syndrome there. How do you fall for the guy who just kidnapped you and Kathy apparently had a boyfriend already. I think that whole plot should have been written out and those scenes are what keeps this film’s score down 1 point.

Kathy’s just not a realistic character in that sense and suffers from the same issues as Turner. It does seem like she’s a nice person at least and does her best to help Turner. It makes for the team up that he needed since he would be doomed on his own, but either way you know he’s only prolonging the inevitable. Conspiracy films like this are pretty fun because of how stacked the deck is against the lead. Turner is constantly outnumbered and has to try and survive on his own wits and wile.

I liked how the ending plays out. Naturally there’s basically nothing I can say about that but it was a fun dynamic. Turner has to make a tough call and live with the consequences. There’s a good amount of suspense and tension as the film ends and it’s all pretty satisfying. The film may not be as explosive as a modern spy type film but at the same time there was still more action than what I was expecting. We got some fun gun fights and the villains even used a classic video game tactic where you throw some objects in front of you. I’m not sure how useful that is in practice and it didn’t do much in this film but it was fun to see.

There are quite a few CIA members who show up during the film. You have to decide who’s in on it and who isn’t. One of the best scenes in the film because of this was the round table meeting at the CIA base. That’s because you have the top 12 or so members talking things out. You suspect that some of them are actually moles but not everyone. Some of them want to legitimately find Turner to help him out while others want to backstab him. It adds an extra level of tension especially when some members might suspect something. This isn’t the kind of film that will really delve into that as it’s a subplot at best but definitely a compelling one.

Overall, Three Days of the Condor is definitely pretty fun. It’s at its best when the film is really playing up the tension and danger elements. I thought the story was well constructed and the plot is pretty interesting. Throw away that random romance and it would be even better. The film is pretty intense and the villains make their presence known right away. If you like a good film about trying to survive with everyone out to destroy you then this is a fun one to watch. It’ll keep you engaged from start to finish which is what every good thriller should do.

Overall 6/10

Keeper of the Flame Review

It’s time to look at an old conspiracy film. It’s a cautionary tale about how anyone can quickly be corrupted or coerced under the right circumstances. Always be careful of meeting your heroes because nobody is perfect so you’re likely going to be disappointed. The movie’s very well made. The cast is pretty small and the plot is rather direct so to an extent it can feel like not much is happening. That’s where the writing comes into play since the film needs to keep you interested until the final twist near the end of the movie. I thought it succeeded in this regard.

The movie starts with a legendary American hero dying in a car accident. The country is in mourning because this guy was a very prominent figure. His wife Christine is taking this especially hard and has been unwilling to see anyone. Famous reporter Stephen has arrived in town to get the scoop although his two reporter friends tell him he should give up. That’s not how Stephen operates though and he keeps on going until he finally meets Christine. Why is she so nervous and eager for him to go away? Stephen’s reporter instincts have kicked in and he senses a story!

The funny thing is that this is one of those movies where the villains really overthink things. The film would have been over in an instant if they hadn’t gone back after Stephen. Clive thinks that Christine’s decision not to meet with Stephen initially was pretty suspicious. He’s not wrong in this but suddenly appearing later on has the opposite effect. If they had left things alone Stephen may have had a feeling that something wasn’t right but he would have stopped there. It’s always interesting when the villains think too highly of the heroes because that’s pretty rare.

Nevertheless, Stephen’s definitely a solid character for the most part. He’s determined and doesn’t get intimidated when people threaten to beat him up or worse. You have to have nerves of steel to be a reporter and he’s definitely got that. In comparison the other two reporters look pretty bad as they give up with ease and don’t really do much of anything. They’re really just here for the banter although I can appreciate that since I’m always up for good banter. The main thing that holds Stephen back is the romance plot with Christine since her husband literally just died. Now, they weren’t actually all that close and there’s a lot going on with that relationship but you still can’t see this as anything but a rebound. I also thought that it didn’t really enhance the plot in any way.

The film has a solid ending that wraps things up as well so this is a really complete journey. The best part here is that the film had strong writing and was interesting from cover to cover. I liked the final twist and it’s not even unrealistic. It’s very easy to see something like this happening and the idea of playing groups against each other is something that is happening as we speak through every kind of media, social media, writing, and even in person. Division is a constant in life and one that always has the appearance of getting worse and worse with each passing year. The movie is just as timely now as when it came out with the relevant plotlines. In light of all of this, Christine did pretty good. It’s a shame that she couldn’t have gotten a little further from the situation but I don’t really see how she could have had a chance for any of that.

For the debate at the end where Christine and Stephen have differing views on how people handle these kinds of twists in real life, I’d say Stephen was right. At the end of the day, no matter how big a revelation or a twist there is, people will adapt and get used to it. Some will take it harder than others no doubt but it’s just not personal enough for most to be crushed by it. If it were that personal then it wouldn’t effect most of the others. Since you can never really know someone else, you can only get to hurt by learning something you didn’t already know. There are just limits to how you will feel and that’s why Stephen is right that the truth always has to come out. It may not be what everyone wanted to hear, but ultimately it’s what they needed to know. There’s one death that’s a little gratuitous at the ending as I don’t think it was really needed but you can see why the film went that route.

Overall, Keeper of the Flame is a pretty nice title. It is definitely a very relevant title as it has to do a whole lot with the movie. If you’re up for a mystery with quite a few twists and turns then this is up your alley. As mentioned, the only thing I could see holding this one back a little for some would just be the fact that the movie can feel a little slow at times. Not so much in a dragged out sense as it isn’t specific scenes, but the film has a very slow pace to it as it takes you through the story. The characters chat about life and hypotheticals as well. Everyone’s always got a speech. I’m always up for that though as the dialogue is pretty interesting to me. As long as you agree then you’ll enjoy the film.

Overall 7/10

Ace in the Hole Review

It’s time to look at a film about how trying to get a story at the expense of a life may end up ruining things for everyone. I mean it’s a pretty clear message but it seemed to be a surprise to Chuck who suddenly starts regretting this a bit. It’s hard to rummage up any sympathy points for Chuck because the whole thing is completely his fault. It’s not like it’s only partially his fault or he didn’t know any better. He knew exactly what he was doing the entire time and this results in a rather unfortunate ending. It’s an interesting film but not one I would check out again.

The movie starts out with Chuck heading to another newspaper. He was fired yet again and is now known for being fired from the most papers. He’s been creative with how badly he’s failed though as he has been fired for being drunk, stealing someone’s wife, making up stories, etc. Well this next paper decides to hire him anyway since they’re nice like that. His first big assignment outside is going to be about a snake fight. Chuck doesn’t really care about this though and is glad to get sidetracked by a local tragedy. Leo has been trapped underground after wandering inside a cavern despite being told it was dangerous. Chuck realizes this is his big break. If he can stop anyone from saving Leo he can really exploit this event for big money. That’s exactly what he intends to do, but every day he stretches this out, Leo’s chances of recovery continue to dwindle.

The film definitely gives Chuck a whole lot of power here. Everyone listens to him unquestionably and he gets the upper hand on everyone. Even the guys called in to rescue Leo end up listening to Chuck and using the wrong method of recovery. Chuck does have a lot of confidence and tends to barrel right through everyone so I suppose the others didn’t want to mess with him. Part of why the plot works is because you have just enough powerful people in the wrong places. The Sheriff is corrupt and Leo’s wife actually likes Chuck and wants Leo dead anyway. Leo has really just got the worst luck here which is definitely pretty unfortunate for him. Anything that could go wrong did go wrong. I still find it a bit iffy that nobody pursued this further to try and free him before now. Just waiting on Chuck to do everything was pretty iffy. Unfortunately the only one who cared about Leo was his father who was quite old and wasn’t able to help much here.

This film’s main weakpoint is definitely the romance part. Leo’s wife liking Chuck feels like an extra plot point we don’t need. For the most part he shuts her down as he makes it clear that the story is the most important factor in his life, even more than romance for him. Chuck’s certainly dedicated. It’s particularly tragic for Leo since he doesn’t know any of this and thinks that his wife is readily awaiting his return. As the film goes on he never becomes wise to this and in a way I guess that would have been an extra blow. It makes Chuck look particularly bad with how he’s manipulating the guy though. Chuck’s clearly the villain here so definitely don’t get that sideways.

The writing is pretty solid though. There’s a lot of solid back and forth between all of the characters. Plans are made and every character’s got an angle. Chuck’s got everything sewn up so tight even the big papers start to beg him to return. He’s really got everything at this point which is really impressive in itself. The movie’s pacing is also pretty good. The opening may seem a little slow if you want to get to the main plot but I thought it did a pretty good job of setting Chuck up. He’s pretty straightforward on the fact that he’ll do anything for a story. He even convinces the youngest member of the group to go with him, thereby dooming both of them.

The ending’s definitely a downer though. I’d have preferred a different ending where Chuck still gets exposed but things go a bit better for Leo. The way his plot ends is particularly tragic since he thought right up til the end that he had a shot. He had absolutely no idea what was going on right outside. He was really just in the wrong place at the wrong time. The film never gives us a great explanation on why he was defying orders and going into caverns he wasn’t supposed to be in though. His confidence ultimately ended up costing him big time.

Overall, Ace in the Hole shows that while having 1 ace is good, two is better. Chuck ultimately needed a good backup plan and then maybe things wouldn’t have turned out so badly for him. He ultimately didn’t think things through well enough at all and it cost him when it counted. I was glad that the smaller newspaper actually tried to get involved at the end when the boss showed up and questioned how Chuck had fallen so low. To an extent this is on him for letting Chuck join but at the same time he couldn’t have known what was going on. All things considered I think he did a good job and he was an upstanding guy. The problem is that not everyone is in the biz for the right reasons and that ultimately ended up hurting them all.

Overall 4/10

The Seventh Victim Review

It’s time to look at an old film about lots of mysterious things going around. Unfortunately the conclusion to this ends up being pretty weak which takes away from the experience. You can’t help but feel like the whole thing was pretty pointless in the end. Everyone acts rather oddly for the plot and the film’s ending is so abrupt that it feels like a ton of it was cut out. Abrupt endings can work out quite well and I do like cliffhangers but it felt like almost nothing was resolved.

The movie starts out with Mary finding out that Jacqueline has gone missing. She leaves school to go and find her, however it’s a big city and Jacqueline isn’t at her business anymore since she apparently sold it to someone. Mary meets up with Jacqueline’s husband Gregory who agrees to help find her. Unfortunately this guy isn’t very helpful at all so Mary uses a private detective to break into a building where Jacqueline may be. Unfortunately the guy gets murdered and slowly Mary starts to figure that maybe she should give up. She is easily intimidated by one of the villains after all.

Part of the issue here is that Jacqueline handles everything pretty terribly. First off she did get into a crazy cult which is already bad enough. From there she keeps hiding from the world rather than exposing them. Presumably they are blackmailing her with something but to the point where she has to give up all of her businesses and money? At that point she’s got to do something to defend herself rather than playing defense. We get really random scenes like her not talking to the hero or stabbing people. She gets a little startled but then doesn’t even talk to defend herself. You’ve also got the pretty terrible ending that really seals the deal on my not liking this character. Now the villains get to go free without any testimony against them.

Gregory is also an annoying character here since he is literally married to Jacqueline and ends up falling for Mary. This is the same guy who was calling her a child earlier and making a lot of snide remarks. It’s great that they get along, but why’d it have to escalate so quickly? It’s hard to get a read on Gregory but this definitely didn’t do his character any wonders. Then you have Jason who seems nice enough. He’s got connections and helps the heroes find Jacqueline at least. His whole origin story involving knowing Louis a while back feels pointless though. Louis not telling Jason that his friend went completely crazy was also odd.

The film just has a lot of little elements here and there that don’t make sense and don’t add to anything. The best character was Irving since at least he did his best to try and find out the truth of what was going on. Too bad he ended up getting stabbed so easily though. He knew that something dangerous was behind the door so he definitely should have gone through a little more carefully in that case right? When you consider how dark it is especially.

I think the film wasn’t sure if it wanted to go towards total conspiracy land or keeping things more grounded. The whole film was building up to something big and crazy but by the end we see it’s just a small little club with around 5 members. They don’t even believe in violence themselves although they hire people to get the job done so it’s basically the same thing. They shouldn’t have all that much sway at all so if Jacqueline went to the cops she should be fine. Louis is also really an accomplice here since he does all he can to get in the way of the heroes. The guy was acting like a villain the whole time.

How did the heroes break into the hospital so easily anyway? You’d think that security would be tighter. Then the villains somehow finding a way to get Irving’s body out of there without anybody seeing is also pretty sketchy. The whole film works a lot better if you change the twist. Have Jacqueline be involved in a country-wide conspiracy where everyone is a suspect and the whole thing works out a lot better. Personally that would have made the film better although it probably wouldn’t have saved it. To be a good noir thriller or conspiracy thriller you need a good set of characters. It’s the only way you are going to get through and Irving was really the only solid one. The others were all super submissive and would not stand up to the villains in the slightest.

Even the brief “confrontation” we get with the main characters and the villains is super quick. It’s supposed to be pretty emotional and intense but it’s extremely quick and if this shook the villain cult to their core they must have never been all that serious in the first place. Why couldn’t we have had a scene with the cops coming to arrest them? A quick moment like that would have made a world of difference, but instead the film ends where it began, with nothing really happening.

Overall, I’d recommend avoiding this film. The Seventh Victim’s title basically summarizes everything that happens in the movie anyway. The rest is really just fluff to keep you going. The suspense does work reasonably well but since the resolution to it is pretty sub-par that just means that all of the build up ends up feeling pretty pointless. Definitely not the way to wrap up this cinematic experience. Perhaps with all of the cut scenes they could have helped improve the film although it would have taken a lot to save the film entirely and push it over a 5.

Overall 3/10

The Firm 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 to look as a retro Tom Cruise thriller. It’s always fun watching a film with him as the lead because you expect some craziness will ensue. This one was before he became more of an action star so he isn’t actually doing a lot of fighting here. Still, this film does have its share of action and intrigue as dealing with big business can be difficult. It’s an entertaining film that does have its share of issues, but still ends up being worth the watch.

The movie starts with Mitch graduating Law school and now everybody wants to hire him. He gets quite a lot of really great offers and ultimately decides to go with a small firm. The reason for this is they offer him a ton of money and there are a lot of nice perks to the job like a new car. It’s all pretty perfect so naturally the group turns out to be shady. Whenever someone tries to leave their firm they always have an “accident” which doesn’t end up well for them. Anyone who looks into the group is shot falls off of a boat. Either way the message here is that you are not getting out of The Firm alive. Will Mitch be the first to survive or will he fall as well?

The tricky part here is once you’re in then it’s hard to get out and Mitch went all in. He moved and has presumably started spending this money so there’s a lot on him at the moment. He then makes a huge mistake and has an affair even though he was just recently married to Abby. He was literally away from her for a single day and he couldn’t control himself? That was just pretty terrible and it made things awfully easy for the villains to blackmail him. It’s a lot harder to sympathize with Mitch after that because there was just no excuse for the cheating.

Mitch stumbled out of the gate so at least he was good at strategy. Near the end of the film he has to come up with a plan to fool both the FBI and the Firm and that’s no easy task. Fortunately he has the help of a lady named Tammy. After her friend was murdered by the Firm she’s decided to help take revenge on them. She is key to winning this battle as there’s no way Mitch could have done this on his own. She does a lot of the legwork and actual printing of the materials to get back at the villains. Abby also ends up helping although Mitch isn’t aware of this.

Unfortunately her part of the plot isn’t quite as good. Naturally the film decides to go with the trick of having her woo Avery to get into his apartment and steal the files. The whole thing’s pretty bad. In part it’s revenge on Mitch and in part just because she wants to do whatever she can to contribute. It’s still not the ideal plot though and I’d have preferred that she just brought a gun and kept Avery away with that. It would have been a good way to still get in the apartment and steal what was needed.

We also have a plot involving Mitch’s brother Ray. Ray is in jail for murdering someone. The film never goes into detail but Mitch mentions that it was a bar brawl that escalated so ideally let’s say that it was accidental. Mitch decides to bust Ray out of jail while he’s at it and comes up with an elaborate deal to do this. He certainly keeps the FBI busy throughout all of this. The Firm is definitely at its best when it’s juggling all of these plots. A lot is constantly happening during the film and all of the plots are connected which is definitely fun. The writing is pretty solid here and the film has good pacing. This is a thriller that will keep your attention from start to finish.

There are a lot of firm executives and they’re all pretty fun. Avery certainly gets the most screen time and he’s portrayed as a pretty nice guy but that’s really to hide how deep into the business he is. The guy’s just as complicit as everyone else even if he may not act the part. Standing by and doing nothing just makes you another villain. The film did well with the humor though. He has some nice scenes along with Mitch when convincing their first client. I also enjoyed the opening montage of Mitch getting offers from everyone. The first half of the film is pretty light with its tone and the film does a good job of balancing this. It never really gets too dark although there can be a lot of drama at different times.

This is one film that could have ended a lot sooner or gone over more smoothly if Mitch had just talked to Abby near the beginning though. Since they all might have been in danger then he should have let her know right away. By the time he went to a detective he already suspected something might have been up so he should have kept her in the loop. If anything by not telling her it made everything more suspicious like when she went to the office looking for him. He had no real reason to keep that a secret. As a main character Mitch really just wasn’t that good.

Overall, The Firm is a decent movie. It’s got enough holding it back where I wouldn’t be tempted to give it a re-watch at any point for quite a long time, but I still wouldn’t call it a bad film. It feels like there’s more they could have done with the concept though. If anything the first half feels like it could have gone on longer with Mitch not suspecting that anything was wrong with the organization before they started showing him stuff. If anything they make it a little too obvious that they’re crooked from the jump with constantly pressuring the characters into having kids, Abby can’t have a job, and the employees die right as Mitch gets there. It’s a bit convenient to get Mitch suspicious rather early. I’d also make Mitch a better character and switch Abby’s subplot. Those things would all help but if you do want a thriller film dealing with the Law then this is still a decent one to check out.

Overall 5/10

Seven Days in May Review

It’s time to look at an old film about a villain’s plans to overthrow the government. It’s always a pretty interesting plot and we’ve had some solid entries like White House Down over the years. Well, this one holds its own with those more action centered titles. There really aren’t any big fight scenes here so the film is relying on its strong story and script to win the day. This was a wise bet and the film ends up being very solid.

The movie starts with Jiggs working for his boss Scott as per usual. He shows his boss the military videos of the drills in case America went back into war and unfortunately all of the divisions look quite terrible. Scott laments that the government seems rather weak lately and heads off for another political rally. Everyone has been on edge lately because the U.S. has entered into a Nuclear weapons treaty with Russia. Both sides will disarm their nuclear weapons and will count on the other side to do the same. A great many people disagree with the policy including Jiggs and Scott. However, Jiggs believes that such thoughts should be kept quiet in their case since they are a part of the army. Jiggs is fairly high up in the government as he is able to personally meet with the President and even more so for Scott.

Scott doesn’t share this sentiment and doesn’t mind taking passive aggressive shots at President Lyman. Well, Jiggs can tolerate that, but then he notices an odd note in the war room. Coupled with other suspicious bits of information he informs Lyman that Scott may be planning a coup in 7 days. Lyman’s advisors all disregard this but the President believes it’s worth looking into. He sends all of his advisors to different spots to verify the information and now has to decide what to do if a coup is in the works. Handling this will be quite dangerous and must be done carefully or the country’s divided status will be exposed to foreign powers.

From the start this movies adds a good amount of tension and nuance. It’s not like these are random murderers trying to cause anarchy. Scott is simply a guy on the other side who became more and more extreme as time went on. With all the support he would receive at the rallies, this only helped to further push Scott to the edge until finally he went down this dark path. Most of the people we see seem to agree with Scott but as the President points out, when you put yourself in a small circle you tend to only hear those who agree with you. It’s why the term “Silent Majority” was created because a lot of times the opinions you hear the most may not be agreed with as much as it would seem.

I’ll give Lyman a lot of credit here for actually listening to Jiggs. In a lot of these films everyone discounts Jiggs immediately and it leads to trouble. The only reason the heroes are able to stay in this fight is because they acted right away. Lyman ultimately made the right move here and he’s a lot of fun as the President. He handles all of the situations very well and is portrayed as a wise man. It’s easy to see how he got elected as President.

My favorite character though as Lyman’s second in command, Paul. Paul initially doesn’t believe Jiggs at all, but when Lyman gives him the orders, Paul follows them to the letter. He performs his duty well and I liked the scene with the Navy Admiral. Paul played it all very well and he even suspected that he may not survive the tale so he created a backup plan. Part of why I enjoyed his character was because he quickly swallowed his pride at being wrong and saw the bigger picture. I was actually expecting him to be a traitor for a while there so I was pleasantly surprised that this didn’t happen.

I’d say the only plot that felt really unnecessary here was the one with Eleanor. In order to get some leverage on Scott they send Jiggs to one of his old flames to find some information out. Unfortunately this leads to burning some bridges here as they liked each other until she finds out that he was just using her for the letters. While Jiggs didn’t intend for that to happen, he did ultimately do just that and it was a pretty sad state of affairs. He should have just come clean with her from the start or declined the mission but the way he handled the whole thing was pretty underhanded.

Jiggs was a solid main character otherwise though. He carefully planned out his moves and did everything he could to uphold the constitution. He never backed down from his confrontations with Scott and his boldness is ultimately what got him to the right place at the right time. I also liked Lyman’s other advisor Raymond. That guy had a pretty dangerous job of heading to where they suspected the villain base was all on his own. Things definitely could have gotten very dicey for him there.

Finally we have Scott who made for a very solid main villain. His confrontation with Lyman is definitely one of the better scenes here. There’s a lot of good back and forth between them as they trade threats. Scott tries playing dumb for quite a while even when Lyman basically tells him that the jig’s up. Scott tries to stay tough til the end but once the heroes get the smoking gun it’s all over. He’ll have to try and win legally now and while he was confident in his chances at the start, he didn’t seem so by the end. Particularly by resigning he may not even be eligible in 4 years although I’m not sure exactly how that would work out. It’s possible he could still try but he would likely have far less supporters now.

Overall, Seven Days in May is definitely a very solid political thriller. The writing is excellent and the same is true of the pacing. This is a movie that really had no weaknesses and all of the characters are written realistically to make for better interactions. As mentioned, I think we could have done without the romance plot though. It didn’t really add to anything but it’s not enough to hurt the score either. I’d definitely recommend this to anyone who wants to watch a film with a pretty engaging plot.

Overall 7/10

The Network Review

This review is of the edited TV-PG 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 to look at a film about trying to keep up high ratings when your channel lags behind the rest. It’s always tough to keep someone’s attention for long because eventually they are just ready to move on and try something different. For example I can go from marathoning a bunch of Shark Tank segments to not watching another one for months. Fads come and go and so channels also have to move fast, but if they go too fast then there isn’t enough time for people to enjoy anything.

The Network starts out with Max letting Howard know that he is about to be fired from the TV station. Howard’s had a long career but the channel has decided to cut him out. In rebellion Howard decides to go crazy on the air as he rambles on like a crazy person. It ends up going viral and people actually seem to like him. Diana is another employee of the company who aspires to run the whole place and takes this chance to take control of the show. Will banking on a crazy person ultimately work out for her or is this going to be one of her biggest mistakes.

The film has some interesting ideas but ultimately they are hampered by a sub-par execution. First off is the very unlikable cast that hurts the experience. Max is one of the main characters here and he makes just about every mistake you can imagine. He decides to get back at his boss by putting a crazy person on TV intentionally. Results aside, his motive was just revenge. Then he decides to have an affair even though he is married and keeps on spiraling out of control. There’s just no way to like this guy and having such a villain as a main character is unfortunate.

Then you have Howard who cracked early on. The guy was pretty insane near the beginning and kept having heart attacks but he was good at recovering from them. Even though he was crazy at least he was consistent at the beginning so I didn’t really mind Howard all that much. Where he ended up falling was when he met up with corporate and was easily tricked into furthering their ideology instead. If you’re going to take a bold stance and denounce modern society, you can’t be turned at the toss of a hat. That just makes him look sooooo bad. How can we possibly take this guy seriously after that?

Then you have Diana whose aspirations for being the boss are pretty strong, but she’s definitely too obsessed with doing whatever it takes including demeaning herself. The movie was showing all possible paths to power and so this was expected but it doesn’t make her character any more enjoyable. The random side characters were the best ones as they talked tough in the background and all probably had fairly interesting stories. In a TV channel studio you’re certainly going to have a bunch of people and whenever the board of executives showed up they usually had the best scenes. I wouldn’t have minded having more scenes with them instead.

So you’ve got the whole cheating plot bringing the film down from the start. It definitely gets more screen time than necessary. Then you’ve also got the film’s poor writing. There is way too much language in this film which is an easy crutch for a writer to try and add some tension. So the script could have used some work and it also didn’t help in making the film any better either. The pacing also could have used some work. We see a lot of scenes of Howard on his show. I suppose they want you to see exactly what kind of program it was, but those scenes really drag on.

The guy’s just yelling about nothing the whole time and somehow everyone is getting really pumped up in the audience. This is where I would have trimmed quite a few scenes to save time and maybe re-allocate it to one of the rival companies. I’d like to have seen their reactions at times like maybe some laughter or something as they watch all of this unfold.

Finally, while the ending is good for shock value it doesn’t make a lot of sense. So, there’s a subplot about a terrorist group who is running around America robbing banks and such. The news reporters are able to find them and where they live pretty easily and make a partnership. I suppose we can buy into this and at the end the reporters ask for a hit. Here’s where things get dicey, the leader of the terrorist organization decides to jump in and fire the shot personally. Why? If he’s caught…-and he should definitely be caught since this is right in the middle of a live show with tons of security- then he is going to go to go to jail and that’s it for all of his ambitions and goals. I somehow don’t think the news channel will have his back when the cops show up because they’ve shown that they are anything but trustworthy.

The film could have really benefited from being more about office politics. That is always one of the most enjoyable parts of films like this because of how relatable it is. Every job has a ton of politics and the side you pick will probably determine how enjoyable your time there is. We get some of that here, but it’s all in the background compared to in the front. The beginning of the film was more promising with people picking lines and then it was effectively dropped in the second half.

Overall, The Network is a film with an interesting premise but the execution just wasn’t there. There were no real characters for me to root for. They all got annoying pretty quickly and I could see why all of the other stations were beating them in the ratings. Ultimately this channel tried every underhanded trick they could and it still didn’t work. In a way it shows that the other channels were doing things the right away. Since you’re rooting against the main station the whole time I suppose in a sense the film had a happy ending.

Overall 3/10