The Sting Review

The Sting is a very ambitious film with a ton of moving parts so it really ends up being quite a lot of fun. I enjoyed seeing jut how intense it was with a lot of twists and a huge cast of characters. Everyone stands out too which is a good thing and the suspense will keep you at the edge of your seat. I was definitely impressed with this one. Not to say I thought it would be bd or anything like that but is was still better than I expected. If you like planning movies like this then you will definitely have a great time here.

The movie starts with Johnny and Luther suckering a guy out of a lot of money and we see that they are grifters. Basically they part people with their money and it’s actually a rather profitable business. It has its share of risks to be sure but they have really done well for themselves. Unfortunately they messed with the wrong person this time and Luther is murdered by the mafia led by Doyle. Johnny escapes and meets up with a man named Henry who is supposed to be the best in the business. Johnny asks Henry to help him take revenge and so they set up the most ambitious trap yet to take down Doyle. Can they really defeat the leader of the mafia like this?

A film like this will only be as good as its writing and characters. Fortunately both of those are quite great so there is really nothing to worry about here. The movie is long which allows it to introduce all of the characters and make them all matter. The pacing never gets slow and so you never feel like things are dragging along. All of the scenes are necessary and the film gives you enough context to always keep up but you’re also supposed to think things out and try to stay ahead of the score too. The best part is that the plan actually feels feasible. Incredibly difficult to be sure but you aren’t suspending a whole lot of disbelief here.

Now the characters can’t be perfect or you might have some questions but for the most part they always make a lot of reasonable decisions and that goes a long way. My only issue here are the mistakes that Johnny makes. Sure the guy is a rookie compared to Henry but at the same time he’s still been in the game for a long while. When he wasted $10,000 on a roll of the dice that was just not a smart move. Even if the casino didn’t cheat, odds are great that he would have lost. There is no upside to spending a bunch of cash like that since the house will always clean up.

Then just as bad is when he decides to have a one night stand with a waitress. The stakes are too high for him to be messing around right now. Keep in mind that just about everyone in the city is after him at this point so he really doesn’t have a whole lot of time. He should be hiding out and laying low right now, not making moves. He seems rather desperate for someone from the start like when he was carrying the flowers at the beginning but he should just wait a little longer until after the plan is done. Things really came close to going sideways for him there. In a way it actually helped his defense since by looking like a sucker the villains really wouldn’t suspect him but he can’t take any credit there since that was accidental.

I like that Johnny was very determined to take revenge and he did put a lot into the planning. So I’m not going to sell him totally short. The guy contributed a ton and was a really solid character who had good acting to the end. His role was absolutely crucial in getting Doyle to take the bait. Ultimately he’s also just a likable main character. I would say Henry is the one who stole the show here though. He took huge risks himself and while the situation was a lot more personal to him than he let on, he still wasn’t as personally invested as Johnny was. Still he got the gang back together and pulled off a really grand exhibition. This film was truly a team effort with everyone putting in their part.

Meanwhile Doyle made for a solid main villain. The guy has a lot of personal pride which is why he couldn’t let the heroes get away with messing with him. Additionally he was pretty smart and was not easy to fool. It’s quite telling that the characters had to go so far in order to try and stay ahead of him. Half hearted methods definitely wouldn’t have done the trick here. This guy has a lot of muscle and you can see why he was the head of the mafia. Even to the end he was always a thorn in their side and switched things up enough times where you could say he did take every precaution. Ultimately the heroes were just too prepared for him.

I also liked Snyder and Polk as more supporting characters to mix things up. Snyder being more of a two bit criminal who was one of the more corrupt cops helped to be a wild card here. Same for Polk from the FBI side. The more sides you have in any movie the better and it was always great when Johnny would just be minding his own business and suddenly one of these guys shows up to complicate matters. He was really never allowed to have any peace while on the job. No matter what he did or where he went, there was always someone around to complicate maters further and cause a lot of trouble.

Overall, The Sting is a very satisfying movie. Not only does it remain very interesting throughout the entirety of the run but the ending is very satisfying. If you stumble at the ending that ends up hurting a lot so managing not to do that was a really big bonus for the title. The characters are likable and even the villain faction are solid. There weren’t any characters here that I really disliked. Everyone had their own objectives and you have to remember that this all started because Johnny and Luther were scamming people so it’s not even like they were upstanding citizens. When you become a crook you understand the risks and so it just happened to them earlier than they were expecting. It still remains personal but at the end of the day it was also business. Both of these villain groups were just doing what they wanted to do and so it turned into this big fight.

Overall 8/10

5 Against the House Review

It’s time for an old school heist film with one character cracking real quick. I always enjoy a good heist film but I do think it’s more fun when the whole group is in on it. Since in this film the heist is basically a blackmail situation where they don’t even want to go through with it, it isn’t quite as fun as it would have otherwise been. Ultimately it’s still a good film but I probably would have played things out in a different direction. You feel like someone also should have stepped up to stop this madness right away.

The movie starts off as a slice of life title with 4 guys just enjoying their time at school. They haze a poor freshman the whole time so these aren’t the nicest of folks. I wouldn’t say any of the hazing is all that drastic but if they were more like true upstanding citizens then I don’t think they would have done that at all. It’s not something you would expect a hero to do after all. I liked that the kid actually got one victory against them with a sliding prank but it was short lived since naturally they used their power to overturn the results. You gotta try right?

Well the main plot is about how the gang always likes to go to the local casino to do some gambling. It’s the most well known gambling arena on the planet and is supposed to be even more secure than Fort Knox. Robbing the place is said to be impossible but Ronnie thinks that they can pull this off. He gets Roy and Brick to agree real quick but Al will be difficult since he doesn’t believe in robbery. Now Ronnie does plan to give the money back, the plan is to test if robbing the place is possible, not to actually steal the money but Al wouldn’t go for it either way. When Al proposes to Kay Ronnie realizes that this is perfect since they will drive him for a while and then get him to unknowingly help. What he doesn’t account for is that Brick has been slowly going insane and does want this robbery to go well. Not to test it but to actually steal the funds. Can they stop him?

Unlike most heist films I wouldn’t even say that the heist is most of the film. Before we get into any of that we have the school adventures and then the romance drama with Al and Kay. I don’t think that romance was very good either. At first Kay suggests that they take a break from each other which is a massive red flag but then after that when Al threatens to run off she goes back to him and they get engaged. I dunno that doesn’t seem like the best foundation for a long term relationship right? Things very nearly went sideways after all. Al gets upset a little too quickly and Kay doesn’t seem very confident in her decision so all in all that is not a great mix.

At least Al is against the robbery which is good. Way I see it, even if you don’t intend to steal the money this is just a horrible thing to do. You’re going to traumatize at least one person when you hold him at gun point and you are committing a big crime. Saying that it was all a prank afterwards doesn’t make things better in the slightest. So ultimately this just shows even more how unbalanced the characters are to even think about going through with a plan like this. It’s simply not a good idea in the slightest. Since Ronnie thought of this first he is one of the main characters to blame.

I know he was proud of his plan and how it could work. The film even heavily suggests that it really would work since everything goes pretty smoothly for them aside from the infighting. That said, just because you can do something doesn’t mean that you should do it. Roy is more of a follower and just goes along with what everyone says. He loses points for not being independent enough to say that this is a bad idea and maybe they shouldn’t go through with it. Sometimes you have to drag your friends back to the straight and narrow path.

Then we have Brick who was going insane right from the start when he was quick to beat someone up. Apparently he had severe PTSD which has really messed him up over time. Well now he’s really crossed the line by taking out a gun and threatening everyone. I would say by this point he was too far gone because that’s not something you can really take back. He was absolutely willing to murder anyone who stood in his way. If things had gone even slightly different then he could have easily become a mass murderer in the blink of an eye. It’s pretty crazy to think about. The scenes where he betrays the rest of the guys definitely comes across as real personal, especially with how Al had always had his back before then.

So the heist is pretty intense but just not fun the way that it usually is. In a way they come across as just common burglars rather than quirky thieves. The gun is a big part of this as well. In titles like Ocean’s Eleven and Tower Heist mainly you get the money by tricking people and using social engineering. When you’re doing the classic “I got a gun so give me the money!” it’s just a very different vibe. It also wouldn’t work nearly as well in the present with all the cameras around but of course back in the day it was always going to be a lot easier to pull this off. You’re rooting for the casino to stop these mad men the whole time. They’ve beaten all of the would be thieves before so they just need to pull off one more win!

Overall, The main moral of this is to always be careful who you associate with. If someone suggests committing a crime for fun then odds are that they are a little more detached from reality than they may appear. It’s a very slippery slope when you start committing crimes like this because usually things will start escalating further and further just like it happened in this film. Even if Brick didn’t go crazy and they did a victimless crime, they would probably want to do another one and another one until they eventually got to that point. The only way to win the game is not to play. The heroes also could have ended this a lot sooner by tackling Brick once they were inside. Yes it was a huge risk either way with their reputations but the sooner you take him down the sooner it all ends. The writing is good and the pacing is good so you should enjoy this as a solid cautionary tale. It may not be as upbeat as you’d expect from the first half of the film but it works well enough.

Overall 6/10

Violent Saturday Review

Violent Saturday is one of those films with a rather large cast as the various plots all converge by the end for the climax. How well the climax works will likely depend on how much you like all of the characters and plots. I would say that the movie is fairly solid and the plots work well for the most part with one exception. You should have a good time with this one, it can be a bit of a slow boil for a while but the ending definitely handles things nicely.

So lets go through each of the plots here real quick. The main story tying them altogether is we have 3 crooks who have decided to hold up a bank. They’ve done their research and aim to strike at the perfect time where there aren’t too many people who can stop them. Most of the film is based around their preparation so it takes a while for them to actually do the job. That’s where we get the various sub plots to come in as the characters from all of those plots end up being at the bank.

First up is Harry who is the most annoying character. He’s a perv who always runs outside the window of Linda so that he can catch her after she has come home for the night. Unfortunately she doesn’t realize that her apartment is quite high up and so with the window open anyone can see her. Harry doesn’t have the courage to talk to her in person though and so his life keeps on falling through the gutter. Perhaps this experience will teach him some courage but I can tell you that he is easily the worst character in the film.

Then you have Boyd who gets drunk rather easily. He’s not too happy with his home life at the moment and there is a lot of tension with his wife. He is more direct than Harry though and actually does make a pass on Linda. Ultimately she doesn’t take advantage of him in this weakened state and takes him home but not before scolding the wife. The scene was rather intense as Linda dares the lady to try and fight her. We definitely know who would have won that fight.

Meanwhile Linda is a solid character. She’s certainly quite popular in this town but always handles herself with elegance. She is perhaps a little too forgiving as she could have been a lot harder on Harry but it’s a little difficult to call that a character flaw. Linda is easily one of the nicest characters here and doesn’t make any big mistakes so I can certainly appreciate that. Then you have Elsie who is a thief. It’s quite fortunate for her that Harry is the one who located her since the blackmail canceled each other out there.

Elsie comes across as a little petty. Circumstances may be tough but it’s no excuse for being a thief and she gets quite outraged at anyone calling her out. This plot felt like it had the least amount of relevance to the story but at least it’s one more dynamic to follow. We also have an Amish family that is living in a plot of land nearby and that becomes relevant later on. They follow a very peaceful way of life and so they refuse to use violence even when the need arises.

I always think this can be extreme. If that’s the way you live your life then that’s that of course but to protect your family you feel like it is the time to cross a line. Fortunately the main member made the right call when it counted. Finally we also have Shelley who I would say is the main character here. It’s an ensemble film but at least if I had to pick a lead out of them it would be this guy. He did not serve in WWII so his son isn’t taking that too well when the other kids make fun of him.

Shelley knows that it couldn’t be helped but it’s difficult to convince his son of that. When this whole bank heist occurs, it’s his chance to finally do something about this. He can be a hero but if he makes the wrong call then he may just end up being dead. So he definitely has to watch out but in the end he does a good job on all counts. Considering that the odds were really against him, Shelley had to use a lot of strategy and tactics in order to turn the tides.

I would say Violent Saturday succeeds because the characters are well developed so it adds a little more tension to the climax. Not all of the characters were good to be sure but the overall picture was on point. The writing was good as well and I enjoyed the climax. It’s definitely tough having to go up against multiple opponents when your own allies aren’t really doing anything to help you out at least for most of it. A bank robbery like this is also a lot more intense back in the day because without cameras or anything, you have to assume that the robbers will never be caught if they escape. It would just be difficult to ever catch up to them and so it became even more imperative that they be stopped here.

Overall, The character arc for Shelley was really good and I’m glad that he got to really prove himself here. The movie keeps a good pace throughout and the fight at the end is fairly long so we get to see a lot of tricks from both sides. I can’t think of many films where the climax takes place in a barn either so that was a very original location to use. If the others had been harder on Shelley for murdering the villains as he fought them then that might have hurt the film a bit but fortunately while they didn’t agree, they weren’t actively getting in Shelley’s way. Now that would have been annoying. This film ages well so I’d recommend checking it out, maybe watch it on a Saturday!

Overall 7/10

Fitzwilly Review

Fitzwilly is a very odd name for a film and the poster is rather crazy. At least you really would have no idea what you were getting yourself into here. It’s really a fun heist film all in all. The writing is on point and the cast of characters is fun. There’s just a lot going on here and the story keeps on changing and adapting as you go through it. I would have been on board with a sequel for this one to be honest.

The movie starts with introducing us to Fitzwilliam and his team. He works for Victoria, an old lady who is super rich or at least that is what everyone believes. It turns out that Victoria is not rich as her father didn’t leave her much of anything when he died. Fitzwilliam and the rest of the hired help don’t want her to feel bad though so they go around stealing to make sure that she is able to live the wealthy lifestyle that she is used to. Is this dubious? Well yes of course but at least they are stealing for a noble cause. You may not be rooting for them but it makes for an interesting dynamic. Well, one day Victoria hires a new secretary only she went out of the usual families and picked someone up from the outside. Her name is Juliet and she could potentially ruin the entire scheme. Fitz needs to find a way to get her out of here and quick but can he do it before she figures out that something is not right here?

Right away you feel like this will be a good movie because it just has a very calm vibe to it. The writing is fun and the pacing is on point. You immediately understand how all of the characters operate. Yes they’re crooks and I have doubts on whether they are really as generous as they appear to be at times. I’m sure they pocket some of the money for their own ends as well. Still, they don’t actually go around hurting anybody and steal from people so rich that they won’t miss the money much. It doesn’t mean you’ll be rooting for them because you shouldn’t be, but as they are not hurting anyone, it’s still entertaining to follow them on their quest.

Fitz is really a pro at this and it must have taken a long time to balance out his daily life along with his criminal empire. The guy even has time to always create an alibi for himself. The only time he seriously messes up is in letting Juliet stay. It’s a case of outsmarting himself where he was thinking of how this could really improve his position even more but erasing her doubts but the risks really outweighed the benefits this time around. She could have messed things up for them in dozens of different ways.

I do like Juliet quite a bit as the main heroine though. Initially she appears to have a strong sense of justice but then we learn her sense of romance is stronger. Yes, it’s a questionable moment for her but at the same time it was such a different reaction. I was expecting drama, running to the cops, and things like that but her actual response to his criminal empire is different than I had expected. She ends up having a really solid role here and the film just wouldn’t have the same level of danger without her.

Victoria is rather oblivious to everything but she means well. It would be a little hard to guess that she isn’t rich after a while though with the staff taking such great methods to keep her in the dark. I still feel like she should have known at some point though like checking her bank account. It’s the one….okay one of the many downsides of letting someone manage every part of your estate like that. She trusts Fitz a whole lot but as a result doesn’t even check over his work. I should think you would want to do an audit at some point. She keeps herself busy all the time though and that’s good since it means she won’t be bored.

Fitz has a lot of helpers but the only one that stands out in a bad way is Albert. This guy’s the easiest to crack when the going gets tough and he makes a really poor decision in the climax. There are just so many ways he could have handled that a lot better and it would have enhanced his character. Instead I would call his final move selfish rather than heroic and it simply isn’t a good look. In a way I had more respect for the rest of the staff who were on the take but weren’t dancing across the line so much. They knew where they stood and wouldn’t budge.

As I kind of hinted earlier, the romance is a bit on the weak side here though. It happens awfully fast all things considered and you feel like it shouldn’t work. Fitz started this whole thing as an act to push her away and so he’s not acting great throughout their dinner but Juliet doesn’t notice and the whole thing goes smoothly. Ultimately she falls for him anyway. The only part of the romance I do like is how she has his back right away after that since it’s fair to say that she knew the stakes once they were together but keeping the cat and mouse game a little longer would have been fun.

Where the film really shines is with the big mall scene at the end. The rest of the film was really fun and engaging too but this is the exciting climax that lives up to the build up. There’s a whole lot going on here and you have security getting involved as well. You couldn’t ask for a whole lot more than that here and Fitz’s plan was rock solid. It was really quite clever and while the film is part comedy so things are exaggerated, you can see this working to an extent. It’s really not a bad idea and when you have as many contacts as Fitz has, well that ends up helping out even more.

Overall, Fitzwilly is a really fun film. It’s one of those old time classics that will always age well because the writing/dialogue is strong and the movie has a good sense of humor. The characters are all written well and the movie doesn’t drag on for a minute. You’ll even get worried for the poor guy in Florida who is being pulled around by Fitz the whole time. Most of the movie wouldn’t have happened if Fitz didn’t make the big mistake of hiring Juliet in the beginning, but it shows that even someone as prepared as Fitz can make a mistake sometimes. It adds to the challenge and you’ll have a satisfying time watching this movie all the way to the end.

Overall 7/10

Inside Man 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.

The Inside Man is a classic bank heist kind of film but with it taking place around Wall Street that’s a pretty fun twist. You’ve got everyone trying to make a move so there are a lot of plans and counter plans going on. Effectively this is exactly my kind of film because I like to see how the debates play out as each side tries to take the lead. Most of the film keeps you wrapped up in the suspense so you won’t get to see the answers until near the end.

The movie starts with everything being rather normal at a bank until a few people show up and take the whole place hostage. They do it rather quickly, so quickly in fact that nobody even dies. Clearly these guys are professionals so Detective Keith is called in since the usual guy is on vacation. Keith tries to discuss terms with this guy but Dalton, the leader of the criminals, isn’t talking. He is sticking to his demands and does not want to change his terms. He wants a jet, and a lot of assurances before he does anything. Keith can only do so much on his end but time is not on his side. After all, the hostages currently hang in the balance. Which side will give in first?

And that’s really the tone the movie is going for here. Both players are effectively facing off against each other in a game of poker. They each have an ace or two up their sleeve and a whole lot of bluffs to work with but at the end of the day one of them is going to have to make a move sooner or later. There are also a few other players in the arena though since you can’t have the film go so linearly.

First up, we have the owner of the bank Arthur. He is hiding something important in the bank and is worried that the robbers may end up leaving with it. He is forced to call in the mysterious Madeleine. She is willing to help him out since that’s basically what she does. She doesn’t concern herself with the moral implications of what is going on so long as she is paid. There are some good back and forth conversations with these two characters though as she does also make it clear that if he is hiding anything relevant to her mission then the deal is off. She does need to know a certain amount in order to claim victory here after all. It’s not as if this will be an easy or safe job for her either since she has to deal directly with the bank robbers.

For Keith this is also pretty stressful since it is effectively his first big case. There’s a whole lot riding on this one and he is given a tempting offer from Madeleine involving how this plays out. Can you in good conscience take a bribe like that? The film opens up with an exchange where Keith basically says that if you’re doing your job most of the time and take a bribe at some point, you still did a net good for society so it works out. Foreshadowing or something to subvert? It’s just something extra to think about.

The film always gives you a whole lot to think about in each scene which is part of why the film is so good. There are many different plots and storylines going on here at once and all of the characters are quite solid. It makes for a very engaging film from start to finish and one that does not have any weaknesses. The climax does not disappoint and the actual journey is also a lot of fun. There’s a lot of replay value to be had here just because the writing is so good. It’s properly engaging and all of the characters are pretty reasonable. Even the random hostages all have a good amount of personality between them so you aren’t likely to mix them up at all.

Throughout the movie, we get flash forwards where we see Keith and his partner talking to the hostages and trying to figure out if any of them were in on it. It’s a dangerous tactic because for one thing, it means that we know some details about the case. Clearly the hostages survived and the thieves were not stopped or at least the heroes suspect they weren’t. In some cases it could wreck the suspense like a certain George Clooney film I saw a while back but in this case the execution was good enough where this worked out.

The standout character here would probably be Madeleine. Her confidence is just a lot of fun and I like wild card characters like her who come out of nowhere to shake things up. The villains were also pretty solid. Dalton’s definitely a thinker and has some pretty good plans throughout the movie. He was clearly one step ahead of the other characters the whole time. There are a lot of twists involved of course so I can’t really go into the motivations of the robbers but lets say that Arthur’s secret is indeed a big one.

The film certainly paints him as a pretty bad guy relating to what’s in the box. It’s not the kind of mistake you can really just walk away from. Keeping the proof of this was also a horrible mistake on this part. Even if a part of him wanted to keep this in order to atone for it…it definitely didn’t pay off this time. It’s also hard to really feel if the guy is sincere or not. Personally I assume he probably is not. Even the shady mayor in this film seems to be a lot more trust worthy. Just about everyone is hiding a few skeletons in their closet in this film though so they all fit in rather well together.

Overall, Inside Man is a great film. It really tells a complete story with a lot of compelling elements and characters along the way. The writing is fantastic with all of the various exchanges between the heroes and villains being quite compelling. The movie even throws in a decent amount of humor here and there that works well within the scene like the debate about the trains. As I mentioned, the film has no weaknesses which is a big deal for a mystery like this. It means you can just watch straight through and really have a blast here. Even something like the hold up itself which can usually be rather vanilla was handled really well as we saw exactly how much the robbers had already planned like the scene where they split everyone up. It’s like something out of Liar Game, only the heroes don’t have a genius of their own to counter these guys. The ending to the movie is satisfying so if you like mysteries or heist films I highly recommend checking this one out.

Overall 8/10

Ocean’s 8 Review

It’s been a while since I saw the original Ocean films so it was time to check out the spinoff. I do enjoy a good heist film like this where it’s not about breaking in with guns and taking everyone out but using a lot of trickery and deception to get to the bottom of things. It’s certainly weaker than the main installments but makes for a good film overall. You shouldn’t have too many issues with the execution.

The movie introduces us to Debbie who has finally gotten out of jail after 10 years. She has promised not to commit any more crimes but can’t help herself. She wants revenge on the guy who got her into jail and wants to make some money on the side. Her objective is to steal a super fancy necklace. To do this she’s going to need to form a whole team. Her main partner Lou is ready for this but they still need 6 more people. It’s time to go recruiting and then the game is on. Can they really outwit the insurance team as well as the people who are in charge of keeping the necklace safe? It’ll take all they got.

As with most ensemble films like this the movie’s first act is mainly about getting the team together. Each character is good at a different task so once they have the team assembled then they’re ready to move out. It’s a tried and true formula which works out pretty well. The characters are decent although there are few standout characters. Then we move to the actual heist which is always a lot of fun because of how much planning goes into that. The real question is always, do you buy into it?

Well, I think most of it works out rather well. Mainly due to the twist of the heroes covering their bases by the end of the film. Without that final twist the whole thing would have blown up and been completely unbelievable. With it, there’s only a few parts that break the case I would say. One is that the necklace was secured so that it could not be removed so easily. Because of this, I don’t see how anyone would believe for a second that it just fell to the floor during the party. It actually would have been easier to just slip the replacement necklace on at that point. Initially I thought the plan was going in a different direction but the whole “I found it in the water” excuse didn’t really fly. I also doubt it would have had the same kind of lock installed so the company would have realized something was wrong from the start.

The other issue here is when the heroes get greedy at the end and start stealing everything. Really guys? That last move would sabotage everything. Put it this way, they now all had to drive off in a big getaway vehicle that was caught on camera. What if the detectives decided to search the vehicle? When you add that onto the fact that Debbie is already a wanted criminal then you’ve definitely got a big issue here. Fortunately they got a certain inspector on the case but things could have easily gotten dicey there.

Those are the two reasons why I don’t think the whole heist would have gone over very smoothly but otherwise I thought the adventure worked out well enough. The film’s pacing is pretty decent. The writing is okay but it does have a tough balance to fill with the humor and heist aspects at times. For example, some of the characters here really aren’t very well prepared to handle a heist so what happens is there will be a lot of gags for the audience like the characters being obvious about what they’re doing but then in universe is raises quite a lot of questions. Again, the film’s final twist does help with this a bit though. The dialogue itself is also decent for the most part but you feel like it could have been a lot better. One thing I would have liked to see was more discussion on planning the heist rather than Debbie setting everything up off screen. The heist itself is a lot of fun though which is always the main goal here.

Debbie is the leader of the crew and the main character so she is the one coming up with all of the plans. She does pretty well at making sure everything is thought through and you do understand why she wants to squeeze the revenge in there as well even if it does ultimately put the whole thing into jeopardy. She could have easily destroyed all of their hopes and dreams with this. After all, the guy could have turned the tables had he not fallen for every trap so obviously. There’s no real excusing the second scene where he receives a call at a very convenient time and still goes to her house to have an affair even though he should know that he’s being framed. He was literally given all kinds of information and Debbie even revealed herself just to rub his nose in the situation. Any halfway decent intelligent character would have figured something was out so Debbie’s risk was pretty huge here. She’s a solid character but not a good leader.

Lou was Debbie’s main ally and certainly the one who got the biggest role here. She was solid and helped to keep the lead grounded most of the time. She’s also got a lot of talents which helps her blend into the role really well. Amita came in handy for the jewel cutting which was one of the most crucial parts. Tammy was fun as one of the more down to earth characters who had a pretty content life before getting mixed up in all of this. If anything she should have said no since the risks heavily outweighed the rewards here.

Constance was one of the standout characters here since her sleight of hand is quite impressive. Without those abilities the plan would have to be dramatically altered. Nine Ball gives the team the tech advantage they would need for this case. She’s not as solid as the other characters but does well when needed. The weakest link is definitely Rose though. She’s the old art dealer who helps out with getting the necklace but she is not good at the criminal game and really puts everyone at risk. Then you have Daphne who is a main focus here since the heroines are trying to manipulate her into being in the right place at the right time. She’s much more self absorbed than most of the other characters but does come off as one of the more likable ones. I was also glad she was shown to be a little more intelligent than she would let on.

Overall, Ocean’s 8 is a good movie. It has more positives than negatives. It may ultimately feel a lot weaker than the main one so if you compare them directly then this will lose out but on its own I would still say it’s worth a watch. I’d certainly be down with a sequel as well. That said, the movie should be a little more careful with its title. If you’re paying attention to that then you’ll know more about the film than you’re supposed to. All while it’s playing you’ll be counting to 8 and so if the numbers don’t match up….well it’s something to think about. I was surprised the ending didn’t have some kind of big reveal or plot twist for the climax but I suppose they didn’t want to tip their hand in case we don’t get another film. Perhaps that is for the best but I have to say it would have been a hype way to end things off and an improvement on the ending. The ending was satisfactory though.

Overall 6/10

The Thomas Crown Affair Review

Whenever you get romantically involved with the person you’re supposed to bust on a case then you know that you’ve done your job wrong. This film involves a few heists and as soon as the investigator meets up with the crook you know that things are not going to go well. If anything you’ll just feel bad for the cops here. On one hand they wouldn’t have even been close to cracking the case without the heroine, on the other hand maybe it’s better not to crack the case then to have someone weaken you from the inside.

The movie starts off by showing us the first bank heist. It’s a pretty impressive piece of work as a bunch of strangers are brought together to do the gig. Each one has a different job and only needs to know his part. As a result they don’t actually meet up and this ends up being a pretty big event. Nobody is able to stop Thomas so he escapes to the money and goes back to his wealthy life. The cops are unable to handle this so much to detective Eddie’s horror they call in a specialist. Her name is Vicki and she is not opposed to using less than legal methods to ensure Thomas’ capture. She quickly tightens the net around him but ends up liking him as well. Will she be able to pull the trigger or will she end up defecting to his side?

Now with any heist film you will probably have to suspend a little disbelief at some scenes. The more they show you the more you will have some questions. For example, I feel like the whole thing went way too smoothly at the end. None of the cops get off a single shot as the villains flee and the car is able to easily drive across the many streets with nobody catching up. Too bad none of the cops are good drivers in this film eh? Would have made a pretty big difference if you ask me. The second time around is arguably even worse since the villains use the same plan and it works once again. This time there is more of a shootout though so at least the heroes put up more of a fight.

When you have this as your context it’s also incredibly hard to buy into Vicki falling for Thomas. How could she possibly do this when he was willingly getting involved in such crimes. It’s not like the film ever even tries to paint him as a sympathetic character either. He’s just doing this for the thrills which makes him as villainous as possible. The whole affair with him is just pretty terrible the whole time. There’s one chess game in particular which the film manages to mess up because of this.

Usually in a heist or a mystery film like this you get a good chess game between the hero and villain where they explain their plans and how they one upped the other character. You get a lot of solid moves back and forth which mirror the actual moments. In this case we get none of that. If anything they’re playing in rather sloppy fashion since Thomas gets really distracted during the match. It’s a big shame since Chess is usually pretty hype. It almost goes without saying that the romance is just really bad from start to finish.

The movie also uses an editing style that’s not very good. Basically everything shrinks into tiny boxes along the screen that start to show the same image half the time. So instead of watching a scene normally you’re seeing over 10 versions of it. This might be a decent novelty the first few times but that quickly wears thin before you know it. In the end you’ll just be shaking your head. The writing’s not great either. I would say it’s okay at best but without likable characters there just isn’t a whole lot that you can do. There are no memorable lines here or even fun comedic moments. The film is serious but in a rather dull way where nothing seems to happen for large periods of time.

Thomas is just a petty villain with no master goals. There’s really no depth to him and no reason to like him. It’s also worth noting that Vicki figured him out almost immediately. Then you have Vicki herself and I can’t give her a thumbs up either. She let her personal feelings cloud her judgment. The fact that she even asked the cops if they could have a truce with Thomas was terrible. You can’t negotiate with someone that just robbed a bank and put tons of people in harm’s way. Then you have Detective Eddie who’s okay but never seems to make any headway in the case. He was more reasonable than the other characters at least but I wouldn’t say that it made him a good character either. It was just an added bonus. In the end he was so ineffective you might feel bad for him rather than actively rooting for him. Technically I was hoping he would be the one to crack the case though even if you never thought there was a true chance of that.

Overall, This isn’t a film that would have much replay value at all. It gets worse the more you think about it. The romance is no good and since the heist is only a very small portion of the film, it means that there’s not a lot here to keep your interest. In theory the best part about a film like this should be the back and forth banter between Vicki and Thomas but we don’t get a whole lot of that here because they are interested in each other almost from the start. There’s no true cat and mouse game here because they aren’t 100% serious about getting away from the other. It’s a game, but one with low stakes. It’s like making a Tom and Jerry film where they’re actually friends. It wouldn’t have the same impact unless they’re teaming up against a common enemy but that’s a completely different ball game. If you want a good heist film, watch Ocean’s 11 instead for a vastly superior product.

Overall 3/10

Larceny Inc Review

It’s time to look at a comedy film from a long time ago. It feels like the 40s were a whole lifetime ago at this point. As with most films from this era, Larceny Inc delivers with solid characters and quality writing throughout the adventure. It’s a pretty fun film that has a good amount of humor and even throws in a dangerous climax for the characters. How much you enjoy this film will really depend on how you enjoy the style of humor because if it’s not really your cup of tea then it goes without saying that this one isn’t going to rank all that highly for you.

The film starts with Pressure getting out of jail along with his friend Jug. They were given an offer to continue their life of crime but decided against it in order to finally go straight. Definitely a good move, but it’s going to be rather difficult to make a fresh start. Pressure tries a few things but they don’t work so he decides to break into a bank. What he’ll do is buy the luggage store next to the bank and dig a hole into it. The problem is that his daughter Denny has decided she can’t let Pressure make the same mistakes and teams up with local salesman Jeff to ensure that Pressure’s store is too busy for him to make any plans. They are going to make those luggages sell like hotcakes!

This is a comedy so you can’t take the story beats too seriously but I do have to say that it’s already a bit of a stretch how the heroes own this very successful store and then decide not to do anything about it. Even while waiting to rob the bank they could have sold a lot of luggage at a very good price. Instead they keep throwing them away or giving them out for free. It’s part of the comedy of course, but you can’t help but think how well off they are. If they had just been selling from the start they would have been free to abandon their plan a lot sooner. Of course we do get actual gangsters showing up near the end and I suspect that things wouldn’t have gone over well for the heroes if they had not had a hole in the building.

The pacing is pretty solid although the romance in the film isn’t particularly good. Jeff moves pretty quickly throughout and even asks Denny to marry him after only knowing her for a few minutes. Talk about mistaking a crush for true love right? That’s a pretty huge jump for him to take considering that the characters don’t actually know each other yet. Of course it works out but you still can’t help but shake your head at the whole thing a bit. It didn’t really feel earned and I still hope Jeff got his money in the end. He did give Pressure’s shop a whole lot of business and you know that they’re still hoping they can swindle him. In fact, based on the ending they probably did.

Larceny Inc ends with a pretty fun scene since it ties the whole thing together. At the end of the day it’s a pretty complete ending that does leave all of the characters satisfied. It’s a nice way to end the adventure and makes it a title you can really recommend to anyone. Pressure’s a solid lead and I appreciate the fact that he did try to go on the straight and narrow. He’s definitely got a lot of natural charisma which lets him even help the town accidentally. You have to have that kind of confidence and Pressure has it in spades. He may still cower next to the bigger villains but he tries hard.

Jug’s the not very smart member of the group so you have to be able to tolerate that character type in order to enjoy his character. He can be pretty extreme at times to be sure, but at least he’s a loyal ally. I’ll also give him some props for actually saying no to Pressure at the end and getting the lead to try the car plan instead. Most of the time the side character just continues to get wrecked. Meanwhile Weepy was a solid third member and in some ways was the most efficient member of the group. He’s the only one who seemed to care about making money at all while the other two were focused on the bank part.

Overall, Larceny Inc is a pretty interesting film. It’s the kind of movie that you just don’t really see anymore. It’s just a nice story about a group of criminals fumbling around and making a ton of mistakes until the mistakes ultimately go together and make things work out. If this sounds like your cup of tea then it’s worth checking out the next time it’s on TV or maybe if it’s on DVD. The character cast is fairly small but that works out since that lets each character get more development. My favorite of the small plots was probably seeing Pressure help out the community with the politicians. I’m always up for a good bluff and the lead sold the whole act pretty well.

Overall 7/10

Short Circuit 2 Review

It’s time to take a look at the sequel to the original Short Circuit. This time we get more of a focus on the sidekick Ben as the leads from the last film do not return. I actually thought this film was an improvement over the first one. I still wouldn’t call it great or anything, but it was pretty entertaining and I did like the climax. We get a fairly iconic song and a lot of tension.

So the film starts off by showing us that Ben is now selling tiny Johnnys down at the street. I don’t know how they let him sell government technology like this or even how nobody is buying them when they are clearly super sophisticated. There’s a lot of plot details that you just have to roll with right off the bat. Anyway, that aside he ends up meeting a girl named Sandy who is interested in the product. She wants 1000 of them within the month so she can finally have a good deal to show her boss. Her job is on the line because she has been unable to develop any good toys for the company. Ben is convinced he can’t do this, but he is stiff armed by Fred into doing so. Once Sandy leaves the two of them realize that they are in big trouble. Especially since some thugs keep showing up to their factory and beating everyone up. Luckily Johnny 5 shows up and decides that he is going to help these two.

Johnny 5 is incredibly advanced so making the 1000 is a piece of cake at this point. As a result the film needs to add some drama to make the film longer. We get that in a few different ways. First we have Fred who is trying to sell Johnny for big bucks which causes a trust issue between them. Then you have Ben who has fallen for Sandy immediately and keeps trying to ask her out but failing. Finally you have 3 comic relief villains who are trying to steal from the nearby bank. When intimidation doesn’t work it appears that they will have to use Johnny’s naivety against him. It’s an underhanded technique…which means it is perfect for these villains! Johnny also isn’t the smartest tool in the shed so it’s not like it’s a very difficult plan.

The main thing that holds this film back is the romance plot. It’s one of the worst ones that I’ve seen in a while. The point of the plot is to be rather cringey as Ben isn’t exactly used to dealing with girls, but that doesn’t make the plot any more tolerable. It’s all rather cheesy and forced the whole time. Even Ben should know better than to just read off the screen when it’s saying absurd things. The whole plot goes a bit too far. Ben is a lot better than he was in the first film, but he’s not yet a great character. He still gets in over his head and makes too many mistakes.

Fred is the far more entertaining character. He’s got a lot of street smarts so he isn’t about to get tricked or swindled by corporate. He does let greed go to his head though and it’s hard to simply wave off his betrayal of Johnny 5 in the climax. He really was going to sell the guy which is crazy since by then he knew that Johnny was alive. When it came time to fight off the thugs Fred also looked absolutely terrible. He is definitely the definition of a character who is all talk and no action. Still a fun character who elevates the movie though.

Then we have Sandy who is a big step up from the first heroine. Her journey to try and impress her boss is a lot more sympathetic than what they were going for with Stephanie. She is really desperate to do well this time and puts in the effort. The romance is pretty cheesy as I mentioned but at least Sandy was just ignoring that bit for as long as she could. The cast of the film isn’t all that big so the only other major character would be Oscar. Compared to most of these characters he is a genius so it’s pretty easy for him to get his plan across. The heroes just didn’t really know how to deal with a character like this. Johnny looked terrible in letting the comic relief villains sneak up on him in the end though.

That does take us to Johnny. He is much better than in the first film because he is no longer quite as new to the game. He still does act like a rookie at times like when people trick him into breaking into cars though. Johnny also tends to lose most of his battles by underestimating his opponents which isn’t a great trick either. I know this all sounds negative, but what helps is how he handles himself in the climax. Right when the “I Need a Hero” song starts to play you know that things are going to get good. Yes it’s a little over dramatic but this is a moment where a little cheese is fine. You’re not really meant to take this seriously but it’s still a powerful moment since Johnny is close to death at this point. It was a solid way to redeem his character right at the end and it also bumped up the movie’s soundtrack at the same time.

Overall, Short Circuit 2 was more fun than the first one. The writing was a little better with some more enjoyable jokes. Perhaps it is just that the New York style or humor works better for these guys. Fred was just a really good character to have some banter with Ben. Johnny also looked better and the climax was actually fun. It’s too bad we never got a third film since they were having this upward trend. Perhaps it will still come out at some point although it sounds like that isn’t very likely at this point. If you want to see a fun little film then this is a solid one to check out. It really doesn’t connect to the first almost at all so you can easily just jump into this one.

Overall 6/10

The Anderson Tapes Review

It’s time to look at the Anderson Tapes conspiracy film. Will this one fare any better than the last one? Not really I’m afraid. It makes quite a lot of mistakes as the film goes on and by the end you wonder if the film even knew what it was doing. After all, you’d almost think it was promoting the view of everyone being watched as a good thing even though you would assume the opposite from the film’s premise. It’s just a very confused movie.

The film follows an ex con named Anderson. From the start you will wonder if he is really reformed or not as he isn’t exactly a pleasant guy and seems to be carrying around some grudges. Still, the film could just be trying to make him a very ambiguous character where you don’t know what his goals are…nah. Turns out that the guy still is a crook and he decides to get all the local thieves together for one more crime to make them all rich. We may need some extra surveillance to stop him.

You probably see what the problem here is and that it gives the surveillance people a leg to stand on. They thought this guy was suspicious and were watching him and it turns out that they were completely right. They didn’t actually help out at all so the whole thing is moot but it’s something to think about. Of course, it’s the principle of the matter that many will not agree with and one film’s positive portrayal of it shouldn’t really have any kind of impact on anyone who is watching. It’s one of those things that you know is going on and you pick a side but at the end of the day at least it’s good that you are aware of it. The government’s already got most of your information along with many large corporations so the best you can do is roll with it. The ironic part is that most of this stuff can’t really be used in court anyway so don’t expect it to prove your innocence even if it can do the opposite.

Naturally the film goes for the low hanging fruit by having the villains spy on the character during romance moments to give him some extra humiliation. Given that Anderson has been gone for 10 years he certainly didn’t waste any time. It’s a pretty painful scene to watch and I would basically have to call it a rebound since the girl dumps the other guy over the phone. The romance here (if you can even call it that) is pretty brutal. It doesn’t help this film’s case at any rate.

One thing the film handles reasonably well is the heist I guess. I like how confident everyone was during that scene as they really didn’t even seem to care that they were being robbed. They just took it in stride and were confident that their safe could not be cracked. The main characters are basically amateurs anyway so it’s not as if there was much to fear in the first place. The main characters even let the kid get to his walkie talkie to alert the proper authorities.

There are definitely quite a few comedy moments like that sprinkled into the film but they are spread too far apart. It was nice to see one of the crooks try to drive away so quickly that he crashed. The scene may have been unintentionally funny but sometimes that is why it works. While some of the humor lands it isn’t enough to distract you from the dreadfully boring story and poor writing. It just won’t be able to keep your interest for very long and you’ll quickly start wondering why the film is just so unfocused. It really didn’t play out anything like I thought it would and unfortunately this isn’t a good thing. It should have been a straight up conspiracy story where the main character tries to find out why everyone is spying on him.

Instead this is surprisingly not much of an issue. Once he finds out that someone is spying on him he just locks the door in the guy which doesn’t actually help matters at all. He then forgets about this for the rest of the film or just chooses not to think about it. Either way the whole plan was already compromised at this point. You also have to wonder why everyone was still in place after 10 years. You can’t stress this point enough. Anderson was locked up for a full decade but then he walks out and acts like he still owns the crime syndicate. His usual informants are still in the game and he is the head honcho. The way I see it, if Anderson was caught and locked up, that would have been reason enough for one of the underlings to decide to take him down and become the new king. I wouldn’t have minded some internal conflict among the gang members as it would have at least been a little exciting.

It’s rare that I ever say this, but maybe the whole film should have taken place at the prison. At the very least that place seemed like a more interesting backdrop than what we got. Some of the dialogue there was rather sketchy so maybe the film would have just gotten even worse, but at the very least I didn’t mind the Doctor. He seemed all right and talked tough to Anderson even if he lost the verbal battle. His bluff was called, but I applaud the guy for giving it a try. Once Anderson left the prison the film still stayed strong for a little longer as the three ex cons went to an airport to hang out. Once they split up, the film split along with them.

Overall, The Anderson Tapes was definitely another flop. The plot isn’t very interesting at all and the characters aren’t any good. The spying aspect of the film doesn’t actually go anywhere and the heist is a pale imitation of a real one. Pretty much every other heist film I have ever seen has managed to pull it off in a more effective fashion. There is really no reason to actually watch this film so I’d recommend leaving it where you found the movie. If you want a film that will make you think more then you should watch Resurrection F. At the very least that film will give you a lot of power level questions to think about.

Overall 3/10