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

The Italian Job Review


The Italian Job is one of those movies that you are unlikely to have heard of despite being familiar with the heist genre. It even has some big actors but I still don’t remember it making any headlines. I guess it probably just came out at a tough year. Still, it’s a pretty solid film that may not be amazing but manages to avoid making any really serious mistakes which is important.

The film starts with a group of burgers pulling off a pretty big heist where they had to race the cops in a boat and got to walk away with millions. Unfortunately just as one of the characters was finally going to retire, the group was betrayed by Steve who decided to keep the money for himself. He shots the best crook, drowns the others, and then runs off. Years have passed and now the burglars want their revenge and also hope to secure the money in the process. They managed to survive with their wit and have stayed under the radar for a long time. It has all been for this one moment but to make sure that this mission is a success they will need to bring in a secret weapon, the daughter of the dead burglar.

You will have to turn your suspension of disbelief on full blast right away here as the plans are so detailed and convoluted that you probably won’t be able to accept what is happening with a straight face otherwise. In the climax of the film the villain gets a helicopter and even a private militia as he drives through town but the main character, Charlie is able to hold his own on a quick motorcycle. His team of quirky hackers seem more than capable of taking any villain down after this film.

Where the film really did a good job was with the fast moving plot. A lot of things were always happening. The talking scenes are pretty engaging and I do tend to enjoy the planning. The execution is also on point and it’s just a solid film from start to finish. The ending was also really good. One thing that tends to happen in a film like this is that the heroes will win it, but the villains end up destroying all of the informants along the way thereby preventing anyone else from ever replicating the feat. I was worried for “Tiny” or “Slim” (I forgot which one was his name) when the villains showed up at his door. Fortunately it turned out all right for the guy and in the end everything worked out. It’s also rare for a villain to not get away with murdering random Jim #34 but in this case it’s one of the main things that comes back to bite him. Turns out that this guy was friends with the mafia and you don’t mess with those guys.

The cast of characters was also surprisingly good which is always important. Charlie is a great tactician which is shown from the start. He may not be infallible but is able to adjust his plan at a second’s notice to fix any oversights. Even by the end he was one step ahead of Steve and never found himself at the back. Steve is also pretty solid as he always talks with a lot of confidence and has a smug air about him. Definitely not a guy who gives up easy and even if he isn’t as smart as the main character he isn’t half bad at making plans. Against someone else he may have stood a chance. Of course, he definitely should have sold the gold by the time the heroes found him though and shooting the merchant just delayed this even further. Not the smartest villain around even if he is fun.

Stella is solid as well. Initially I forgot about her first appearance and for a second thought that the film was bringing in a new character. The opening does certainly make more sense in light of this. Unfortunately, her character is used for fanservice quite a bit as we have the unfortunate trope of someone walking into her room while she is still getting changed. Likewise, Stella’s entire first scene seems to be focused on her attire more than the actual dialogue. Once we get past these moments this fortunately stops happening. Stella is a solid locksmith even if she is not quite at the same level as her father yet. She can also drive with the best of them. I think her character could have been handled better but overall she was a good character.

Another one of the thieves was the Napster. This guy spends most of his time complaining about how Steve stole his inventions. He takes this the least seriously compared to the rest of the team and nearly blows there cover several times by pulling pranks on the cops and the government. So much for being discreet right? I suppose he has his own priorities so you can’t really argue with that. He’s definitely a pretty bad character though. There is also Gilligan who does his best to mess up everyone’s chances as well. When it comes time to broker a deal with someone who has the supplies they need, he can’t help but stare at the guy constantly even when he is told not too. Actually, as far as the great character cast maybe I should be more specific. Steve, Charlie, Stella, and the father from the very beginning are solid characters. Everyone else definitely has a lot of room for improvement if you ask me. Still, since the characters with the most screen time are at the top that’s what counts.

We also get a long car chase scene that I referenced earlier and works well as the climax. Who doesn’t like a good car chase right? After a while they may all start to seem like the same race if you watch enough films, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that they work quite well as a satisfying way to end the film. It’s not as if we could have had a real hand to hand fight at the end as you would have then had to ask where they learned how to fight. A battle of two self taught fighters could be fun, but I don’t believe Steve ever would have bothered learning how to fight while Charlie showed earlier that he could throw a good punch.

Overall, The Italian Job is a pretty fun heist film. The pacing is always on point and the characters make for some pretty enjoyable banter. Some of the plans may seem like a stretch at times but that goes hand in hand with the genre. If you like watching a game of mental chess going on with plans and counter plans then I’d recommend checking this film out. It’ll keep you entertained the whole way through and never really make any mistake big enough to get you out of the action. It’s satisfied with just being an entertaining film and that’s a pretty solid approach if you ask me.

Overall 7/10

Elevator To The Gallows Review


It’s time to take a look at a French murder thriller. It’s pretty rare that I see a film which isn’t American or Japanese so it’s always interesting to see how everyone else handles this. It’s a fairly old film as it’s still in the black and white period so as you’d expect the writing is on point. It is partially a romance film which can be rather dramatic, but the film’s at its best when an old guy shows up to mock the teenagers and their subplot. Time to learn more about this guy.

So the film starts off with Julien and Florence recommitting their resolve to murdering her husband so Julien can be the rebound guy. He breaks in and murders the husband pretty easily, but then forgets his rope at the window ledge. He runs back after hours to get it, but as soon as he gets on the elevator the power goes out. He is now stuck with no way to get out and his only hope is that Florence will learn where he is. Meanwhile his car is stolen by Louis and Veronique as they decide to cruise around town. Unfortunately, they decide to commit murder under his name which will further complicate matters. Julien has to trick the cops into not pinning the first murder on him while also avoiding the fake charge of the second. It’s going to be a long day.

From the start the movie makes it clear that the leads are the villains so you are rooting against them. As such, it’s actually pretty satisfying when the elevator crashes and things don’t go right for Julien. He dug his own grave and now he’ll have to get used to it. There’s not much that he can do from this point so you can’t really blame him for a lack of trying. He was the most experienced and talented member of the villains so taking him out of the equation worked well for the cops. He also held up well under interrogation, but eventually he cracked from lack of sleep. The cops always get their man.

You don’t really see this form of interrogation too often, but it is quite effective as getting the suspect to concede their guilt. Physically nothing actually happens to the suspect, but he/she is kept from sleeping until the cops get the story they want. After even 1 day of this it can be tough to function so even the great Julien fell to the technique. You have to be careful about getting a false conviction like this though, but I guess the cops decided it was worth the risk. It did work out well here after all.

Florence isn’t the greatest sidekick you could ask for. She further incriminates Julien by asking around for him everywhere. She was also fooled quite easily by Louis as she thought it was Julien who sped by her. I guess the jacket trick worked, but would Julien really betray her so easily? It may be poetic since she ditched her husband and now has some paranoia that Julien would do the same thing to her. She did a reasonable job of tracking down Louis and making threats, but then she didn’t do a thorough enough job of preventing them from leaving. That’s game over.

Louis is unfortunately the worst character in the film. He is over the top with his many lies which is the only reason he and Veronique were caught. If he had played it cool or even somewhat calmly then he could have escaped. Instead he gets humiliated by a drunk, rich guy and then tries to steal his car. Not a very smart move and then shooting the couple just made an even bigger mess. He even messed up on trying to destroy himself with pills since he didn’t swallow enough of them. So much for that. You’ll be cringing whenever he is on screen. Veronique is a big improvement as she is also insane, but hides it well. She pretends not to want to go along with Louis’ plans, but always relents in the end. She just wants to keep up the appearance of being a good person even if it may not be all that accurate.

My favorite character here was actually the rich guy who kept making fun of Louis. Making fun of the teen was reason enough to like him, but we also can’t forget that this guy saw through the ruse immediately. It’s too bad he underestimated how dangerous the villains were though. The scene of him and his friend getting shot was fairly tragic and probably the saddest scene in the film. I was hoping they were going to live through this since they were a lot of fun. Maybe not too smart in how they handled this, but fun all the same.

It’s good to see the cops looking pretty good here though. They connect the dots between the crimes pretty quickly and then set their plans into motion. Once they nab the suspects it is all over for them. At first you may wonder what is taking them so long, but it’s all just because they are setting their pieces in motion. Getting all of the pieces into play so to speak. It would have been fun to have seen the Jury sentencing, but I suppose the ending gives you a clear enough idea of how it’s going to go down anyway.

The pacing is pretty good. The only plot which probably drags on more than a little bit is Florence’s section. She goes through a great number of shops looking for Julien and after a while it is really just more of the same. You get the point of her search and we know that she stayed up all night so I think a few places could have been cut. The random drunk guy and his friend didn’t seem to serve much of a purpose, but maybe they were just there are red herrings or as world building. Either way, putting more screen time in the elevator plot could have been nice although I’m sure the film didn’t want to make that one feel stale. It’s a tough balancing act.

Overall, This is an interesting film. The ending is very satisfying and probably the best part. The atmosphere is pretty good, but you can’t help but feel bad for the last two victims. It’s hard to be too sympathetic to the first guy since it’s at the very beginning and he was fairly shady anyway, but the other two characters were too hype to be bumped off the way that they were. The romance is pretty bad, but that’s how it is for all rebounds and it goes without saying why Louis’plot was iffy. I’d recommend checking this film out as a retro classic. There are quite a few plot lines going through the movie and it’s nice to see how they all connect.

Overall 5/10

Heist Review

Note that this review is of the edited TV-14 version of the film. All thoughts below should be understood as belonging to this version of the film as a review of the uncut version would likely be more negative.
HEIST
Time to look at a Heist film, hence the title. This genre can be quite good as we saw in Ocean’s Eleven and I’m confident that the Ant-Man film coming up will be good or decent. Unfortunately, Heist doesn’t live up to its name and it takes the genre way too literally. It plays out like a classic crime film and you can barely even call it a heist by the end. Seriously…the heroes just don’t do anything for most of the film.

The main characters were part of a gang, but they decided to stop robbing stores when their leader was caught on camera as he attempted to escape. Unfortunately for Joe, another mobster wants him to do one more job. It’s not exactly a request and Joe has no money so he can’t escape otherwise. He’ll have to comply, but can he really suceed in this job when he also has to deal with a watchdog on his tail? Not a literal one, but the mobster’s son/nephew/some kind of relative is assigned to watch. Joe doesn’t like this one bit!

Joe may not like that, but it’s safe to say that I don’t like Joe. The film flopped for several reasons, but let’s get into the biggest one right away. The writing. This film has more language than the average horror film and it’s very in your face. The heroes will swear in just about every scene and Joe went on a roll at one point where he would curse in just about every sentence that he spoke. I always found that provocative language is just a sign of bad writing. The writers don’t know how to engage the audience in the scene so they just use course language to get everyone to pay attention. It’s a bold strategy, but one that it always doomed to fail.

The characters also reuse the same words over and over again. “It’s burned Joe” No, it’s not burnt Bob” It’s burnt…burrrrrrrrrnt!” They say the word, burn, and its other variations many times as the film goes on. You’ll eventually start wincing and wondering what’s going on here. No exaggeration, they probably say this at least 20-30 times. It gets old very quickly. The conversations go round and round and round. The film may have had some hope otherwise, but it’s almost literally impossible to be a good film when the writing is this lousy. A by product of this is that every character is instantly unlikable so it’s safe to say that their potential is out the window.

No worries, this film wasn’t about to just make one critical mistake. There’s also a degree of fanservice involved as Joe sends his wife to entice one of the villains. The very thought of Joe sending her off on such a mission already shows you more than a little about his true character. It’s a pretty cheap trick and the villains don’t really buy into it anyway. The scenes with her and the villain are rather unnecessary and the heroes could have tried to trick them in a better way.

Those are really my main two complaints with the film, but they sure deal a lot of damage. Another factor to add in is that the film simply isn’t interesting. There’s barely even a plot as it goes on. Joe will try to trick everyone and keep his money, but the villains won’t let him and that’s really all that happens. There is also a lot of the usual plot hax of course, like a police guard being defeated so easily and the cop actually believing what she heard in a bar. Naturally, these things will happen I suppose. Joe is also given an awful lot of time by himself to paint his hold and hide it in two trucks considering that the villains are on to him….

If I had to pick a character that was at least a little likable or close to it, I would pick Joe’s main assistant. He’s essentially the bouncer and since Joe isn’t the greatest fighter around, the guy protects him. He gets a pretty happy ending and he did good in the big fight scenes. It’s a little hard to imagine how he was able to stay underwater so long without an obvious air pipe sticking out, but we’ve already questioned the film’s writing so let’s not go there…

There are actually some fight scenes, but none of them are very good. They’re simply standard punches and kicks, which won’t be winning the film any brownie points. What it needs to do is look back and reflect on the many things that went wrong so that a potential reboot can be made better. For one thing, serious and heist don’t really go together. If the heist is played too seriously, then there’s a chance that the film will overcompensate by making all of the heroes really unlikable and evil.

We need some kind of plot twist to show that they’re stealing from someone who’s actually crooked. At least they try not to murder any civilians, but it’s only a small start. (That reminds me that it’s hard to believe that they could grab a job at the local coffee shop and drug everyone’s coffee….) Ocean’s Eleven was the perfect example of how to do the genre and this film should have taken some notes. The main characters in Ocean’s Eleven (Some of them anyway) were pretty likable villains. You still do need to call them villains since they are robbing the place, but they’re doing it in a professional manner. These guys lacked professionalism at every corner. Granted, you need good writing to pull off what Ocean’s Eleven did, but you could say the same for just about every film. There’s no real soundtrack so we’ll have to skip that section.

Now, let’s think of how the film could have realistically been improved. 1. Each of the characters is professional and the writing is on par with The Avengers GI Joe. 2. Get rid of the fanservice and the whole plot between the main villain’s relative and heroine. 3. Establish more of an actual plot. We need to know what they’re stealing and how they’re going to do it directly. Not in between all of the burnt comments. That’s not a lot of things, but it would have bumped up the score by at least 3-4 stars. That’s pretty good if you ask me.

Overall, Heist is terrible. It’s the kind of film where you’ll be counting down the minutes until it’s finally over. The ending has one of the main characters smirking, but you’ll be wondering why he’s smirking. One of his friends isn’t around anymore and his wife is gone. He got some money…but that’s hardly going to change things. If you want to see a good heist film, check out Ocean’s Eleven like I’ve been hinting or check out Dragon Ball Z, but be warned that it’s not actually related to the heist genre. Why did I recommend it? Simply because DBZ is pretty awesome. Now, we simply have to wait for the Ant Man film to see how it handles the slippery slope of being a heist film.

Overall 2/10

Ocean’s Thirteen Review

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Ocean’s 11 is a classic film that has been remade and even gotten sequels over the years. Ocean’s 13 is the second sequel in this continuity and it is a fun adventure. I was used to the characters a little more than I had been for the first two installments, which could be why I ended up enjoying it more than I thought that I would. It is hard to say whether it beats the original or not. I am inclined to say that it is not as good, but it is very close. Take away one unfortunate subplot and this one has a real chance at 1st.

The film starts off with the heroes working small jobs while one of their members makes a legitimate deal with a new character on a new gambling casino. The heroes warned him that the casino owner tend to double cross everyone, but the warnings do not stop the inevitable from happening. Now that he is in a coma, the heroes decide to band together one last time to avenge their comrade by bankrupting the casino. It will be tough, but they do have some money to burn!

The premise is very good and watching the heroes band together once more should be nostalgic. It should definitely be noted that these guys still aren’t very heroic. One of them is robbing a vault as the film starts and judging by how rich all of the members are, they can’t be on the up and up. It’s intense to see them constantly throwing millions around. It’s actually a good thing in the sense that it makes the film more realistic even if it means that they can’t be completely heroic. There would be no way for them to use their plan if they didn’t have such a large amount of money on their end. By the end, they’re all essentially broke, but the ending probably means that they will have a lot of spending money once more. So, you could say that they’ve practically been reset to the beginning of the film.

Let’s get the unfortunate subplot out of the way first. One of the components of the plan revolves around tricking the villain’s right hand woman into taking one of the heroes into the vault room so that he could steal the diamonds. They use a strong cologne that messes with her mind and acts as a cupid type of weapon. Ignoring that the plot hax was downright unbelievable in those scenes and that they had no trouble getting into the vault room (Guards must have been panicking or something) there were better ways that they could have handled this. Just rushing into the room would have been my personal favorite. It may have been a little less believable, but it would have taken out the romance aspect that hurt this film so it would definitely be worth it. The heroes are basically just taking advantage of the lady and that’s definitely not cool.

The heroes mention from the start that their plan will have collateral damage and they weren’t kidding. By causing the company to lose billions of dollars (Not quite bankrupt, but it’s hard to see the casino ultimately staying alive) they probably costs dozens of workers their jobs. One reviewer had a pretty awful day and people almost got hurt from the tremors. I do give the heroes props for making things all right between them and the reviewer. The review guy was pretty sympathetic during the film and his plight was rather depressing and painful. The ending definitely makes things better and I was glad that the film did that since the ending would have been pretty sad otherwise. It was the ending that we needed.

We get some guest stars in this film, which was pretty neat as well. The main villain of the second film randomly shows up to try and steal the diamonds from the heroes, but they dismiss him rather quickly. One of their big rivals/antagonists also gets a decently large role as the heroes are forced to ask for his help when they are running out of money. He warns them that their lives will be over if they double cross him and he also forces them to steal the jewels from the casino in addition to their normal plans. The main characters manage to get back at him during the ending. It made for a pretty fun dynamic.

The main thing to consider here is if you enjoy dialogue a lot. The film is really centered around that as there are no actual fights in this film. It’s all about outsmarting the opponents and winning in a peaceful way. The dialogue is engaging though so that shouldn’t be a problem. Watching them make the plans is cool and the heroes already have a good idea of how to start at the beginning of the film. They’ve just run into 2 problems that they spend most of the film trying to correct. Again, it’s an extremely detailed plan that runs on so much luck that it would never work in real life, but it’s still cool to see them give it a whirl. I appreciate the fact that the writers still made the effort of creating such a thorough plan.

As for the actual cast, most of the main characters are likable, but certainly not all of them. Ocean makes for a good commander and Rusty is pretty dependable. I don’t care for the guy in the Mexico plot (That one had a happy ending as well, which is good since it would have been pretty annoying otherwise) or the one who never bothers to speak in English even though he understands it rather well. Lenny is easily one of my least favorite members. I liked the guy who managed to get a table in the casino. Now he could act (in film) as he tricked the owner into realizing his greatness. He’s the kind of guy who’s just so charismatic that it’s hard to stop him. Unfortunately, he has his less impressive moments, which ends up hurting his overall rating. Most of the other members are just there so they don’t really impact the plot all that much.

Overall, Ocean’s Thirteen is a pretty good film, but it does suffer from the unnecessary romance plot. The writing is still pretty good on the whole and the film is enjoyable so I would still recommend it. It may not beat the original, but as far as sequels go, it is definitely not bad. It holds true to what the series is all about and watching the heroes try to perform such a tricky heist is always amusing. Perhaps not all that realistic, but amusing nonetheless. It’s one of those films where a reboot/remake would probably be a lot of fun, but it’s hard to see it being quite as good. The twists in this film were all done really well and that’s where the new film would have a tough time topping it without going overboard.

Overall 6/10