Point Blank Review


It’s always very and I mean very risky to backstab a fellow villain when you’re trying to make a lot of money. Remember that this is someone who was willing to go on such a dangerous mission in the first place so he will stop at nothing to get revenge. That’s really what this film is all about to, it’s a big revenge title. The movie works very well as a noir thriller where every scene is ominous and you never know what will happen next.

So the movie starts off with Walker on the big heist so he can finally get rich. Unfortunately he is shot in the back by his partner Reese who runs off with the cash and Walker’s wife. A long time passes but Walker eventually gets out of jail and he’s eager to even the score. He lives solely for revenge now and nothing is going to deter him from getting that. Whatever it takes, he will get his money back. So begins a long journey where he faces off with every big figure in the underworld. Will any of them give Walker his money?

Now right off the bat while this is a serious noir title, there is one part of the story that almost feels like it’s part parody. So Walker really wants his money which is just as important as the revenge. First he goes to Reese for it but when that doesn’t work he begins climbing up the criminal food chain in order to get it. He goes after Reese’s boss, then that guy’s boss, etc. all the way to the top. The issue is that none of these villains have any money.

Yes, all the big shots of the criminal empire have their funds tied up in assets and generally non cash objects. That is really hard to believe when their lives are literally at stake. You have them talking matter of factly about this even when they are being threatened and ultimate murdered. A lot of villains lose their lives over this as Walker isn’t playing games. He actually means to keep on destroying everyone until he gets his money so the villains should just produce it already. You can’t tell me that the heads who have near unlimited power aren’t able to scrounge up the money.

So that was always odd but it would never deter Walker. He just kept going after them and there was a really handy informant who had his back as well. It pays to have good intel so you are always on the winning side here. You won’t have too much sympathy for Walker’s wife Lynne though as ultimately she did go with Reese here. Not a good move and it just makes her look so bad. So even when she has regrets later on, it’s clear that she had made her choice and it wasn’t a good one.

The movie does have a sense of humor though even while Walker is on his mission. At one point he is able to get onto the elevators because the villains are basically goofing off. Then you have the guy who tries to trick Walker into getting in front of a sniper rifle but the tables are turned on him. It’s not laugh out loud funny like a big gag movie but the subtle humor worked well. It’s a very serious film but not one that always feels like you’re dreading the next moment. It has a lot of energy to it.

There’s also a rather trippy scene where Walker is navigating his way around a house and Chris is mocking him through loudspeakers and all kinds of devices. She really went through a lot of work to get the whole place set up and even lands a really long combo on him. The romance in general here is really weak as you feel like Walker wouldn’t be moving on just yet even after he was betrayed earlier. His mission comes first but then again you could almost still say this is part of the mission. He needs to waste some time between targets to be there at the right time and this may just be how he does it.

The writing is really solid here and I can’t think of the last time I saw a bunch of villains being as nonchalant about their evil empires as these guys were. They would sit on the couch smoking a cigar while talking about how they don’t have the money and how they can bump anyone off. They acted as if these guys all owned rather large companies and were just making business decisions. In some ways I suppose that really was the situation.

The crooks own the city and that’s a rather scary thought to the normal people. I guess you either play ball or that’s game over for you. The ending links up well with the opening and is a solid way to end things off. You get to decide exactly what Walker does at the end and if the package is worth it or not. Personally I do think the whole thing was legit this time with the package but it’s good Walker didn’t go out or he’d probably be gunned down. I do think he ultimately will make a move and it would work out though because Walker will eventually charge and the other guys should be gone.

As a final note, I think the film works as much because of what it didn’t show as what it did. There’s a lot of hidden lore here and dynamics we just don’t know about. The film doesn’t explain everything and I don’t think it needs to. Everything is kept very mysterious and that works exceptionally well for a noir. The more vague everything is, the more you get to try and put the pieces back together yourself. It adds a layer of unease to the whole thing and this atmosphere stays from start to finish. The film doesn’t fumble here.

It’s not perfect to be sure and has some weak elements like the romance and character basically going through with an affair to get the villain to drop his guard. I never like that approach because I don’t think under any circumstance you should allow yourself to be compromised just to complete the mission. There has to be a better way and at that point you just delay the mission or try something else even if it’s a bit riskier.

Overall, Point Blank is a really solid movie. You get to slowly pick up the pieces with Walker and he is a fun lead with how resolute the guy is in getting revenge. He will stop at absolutely nothing in order to get his money back and that’s real dedication right there. Nobody’s going to double cross him in the future, that’s a guarantee. If this film ever got a sequel I’d be all for it but there is some charm in being a one off since you really just get to imagine how it all played out.

Overall 7/10

The Killer is Loose Review


With a title like this you know that the killer is going to break out of jail so you’re waiting to see how that plays out. This is a solid thriller film and I’d say that it did a good job of keeping you entertained all the while. It’s a bit hard to see how this guy got so far, particularly since he’s not a master criminal or anything like that. I guess it just came naturally to him.

So the movie starts with a classic bank robbery. One of the employees named Leon tried to stop the crooks but he got served up. Well, it turns out that was all an act so when Sam and the other cops show up to arrest him, Leon fights back. In the skirmish Leon’s wife is shot and he loses the will to fight back but promises that he will be back to destroy Sam some day. Fast forward a few years and Leon suckers everyone into letting him onto a vehicle where he murders the cop and starts his trail of revenge. Will he be stopped in time or is it all over for them?

Now Leon is playing the blame game from the start but it’s all his fault when you think about it. The cops were going to go in without firing their guns, but of course Leon had to shoot first which forced them to respond in kind. They understood that the room was empty and didn’t know his wife was present. Again, Leon should have been the one to either let her know to stay back or yell to the cops that he wasn’t alone. It’s possible that even he didn’t realize that she was there but even then that’s just another point against him. Either way, to say it was Sam’s fault at all is a huge stretch. I suppose villains tend to be insane though and that works out for this guy.

Leon isn’t a very intimidating villain though. While that is partially the point, it also means that you have a hard time believing that the cops haven’t taken him out yet. He’s just a mild mannered guy with glasses on the run from a whole country of cops. This should be an open and shut case right away but he manages to finesse them at every turn. They really need to work on their trapping skills in order to stop this guy, that’s for sure.

As for Sam, he’s a solid main character He’s done his best in each case and has to put his life on the line again for this one. I think he could have been a little more up front with his wife Lila on the plans though. Sure, she tends to panic a lot but in theory she’ll panic more when she hears things second hand instead of direct. I’d argue that this is exactly what happened here if anything. She doesn’t look good in a lot of the scenes because she is always panicking but a big chunk of that is also because she had to find things out the long way.

Sam still did take a lot of risks though and I liked him as the lead. As for Lila, while things ended well with her, I do wish she could have been a little more reasonable at the start though. That wouldn’t have been too much to ask for and it would have been beneficial to both of them to have been on the same page. I liked seeing all of the unity between Sam and the other officers too. Everyone was trying to catch this guy and nobody was giving this a half effort. They were all the way in with this plan.

It’s a rather direct film story wise as you know the villain is coming closer and closer as the film goes on. There aren’t really any twists and turns here, what you expect is what you’ll get. So the execution is important and I would say that was good as well. The writing was solid as expected and the pacing was good. The film never gets boring and the cast was solid. You do feel bad for any character that runs into the main villain though as you know they’re doomed.

There was one guy who was kind of friends with him but always used a nickname that Leon didn’t really appreciate. It didn’t feel like there was a whole lot of bad blood there but Leon is definitely the type of guy to take things extremely seriously. So as soon as Leon enters the house you know things aren’t going to go very well. It’s why I have to say that you need to make the first move if you’re held at gunpoint. Lunging at the gun is likely a better idea than just standing there. If you let the owner of the gun have all of the initiative then you’re basically dead already unless they decide to spare you. That’s not something you want to wager your life on though so a better idea is to make your play. Either you get the gun or you don’t but that’s it in an instant.

Overall, The Killer Is Loose is a good film about teamwork on the heroes’ side. They all used every method and asset possible to take this guy down. Even then it was ultimately super close and Lila got to play a much bigger and more dangerous role than Sam would have wanted. So if they didn’t all jump on this right away and get set, that would have made the situation even easier for Leon. Hopefully the town rethought their good behavior policy a bit. Of course you want to have one but at the same time you gotta use it within reason or villains will just pretend to have a change of heart like this guy and we see how that went. The whole fields area was a bit too relaxed the whole time.

Overall 7/10

Where the Sidewalk Ends Review


Next up on the review list is an old murder thriller. This time we really get to see what happens at the end of the road. It’s an engaging film that shows what happens when mistakes are made on every side and how this keeps on snowballing. I do like the idea of a hero trying to frame a villain. It’s something that doesn’t happen too often but is something to think about. Of course this is also morally dubious at best but ultimately the film has a satisfying conclusion.

The film starts off with introducing us to Mark Dixon who is really tough on crime. This is to the point of being excessive though as he tends to rough them up quite a bit during interrogation. He has now been demoted and warned to curb this behavior. Well, this will be difficult as he is wrapped up in another case when a rich man is stabbed to death at a local gaming arena led by some notorious gangsters. Of course the trick is that there is no real proof here and these guys have a habit of getting away. Mark ends up doing some interrogating anyway and ends up murdering Paine by accident as his punch hit the guy in a way where his metal plate shattered. Mark figures he’ll hide the body and then frame Scalise for it.

Unfortunately he ends up framing an innocent cab driver instead. Mark has grown close to the guy’s daughter Morgan and needs to settle this. Will he be able to get proof against Scalise or is this curtains for him? Additionally now that he has murdered someone, even if accidental, he is facing some issues as well. After all, fully attacking someone as part of an investigation was outside the mission parameters.

There’s a lot going on here to be sure. I was glad that the rich guy stepped in to protect Morgan when she was attacked but it is tragic since you know he never stood a chance. The guy was surrounded by gangsters after all and just wouldn’t have lasted either way. It’s hard to trust anyone at these high stakes gambling arenas, especially if it isn’t at a reputable venue. It makes for an intense opening scene as we know what happened and have to see how Mark will put the evidence together.

As a main character, Mark is solid. I do like his determination even if he lets it get the better of him sometimes. He doesn’t buy into the false stories as quickly as the other cops but ultimately there is a limit to what he can do as a cop. It’s not like he can just beat the truth out of everyone although he would certainly like that. His final attempt to frame Scalise was also a very bold approach as he was directly putting his life on the line. Not just anyone could pull that off.

Even Scalise comments on this and how Mark is crazy here. His obsession with taking down Scalise and defying his father’s legacy is certainly impressive. Unfortunately this isn’t a big James Bond action movie and so his big attack on the villain base doesn’t quite go as planned. It would have been intense to have seen him take them all down but realistically that would be nearly impossible without a gun or something like that.

As for Scalise, well he’s your classic noir villain. I’ll give him a little extra kudos for being intelligent though. He sees through Mark’s plans and also knows how to prevent evidence from getting out. He’s an old hand at this and isn’t your run of the mill gangster. While his personality may not be super memorable beyond the usual tough dialogue, this is enough where he holds his own as the main antagonist.

Finally we have Morgan and her father. I liked her Dad’s constant talking about how he helped Mark with a case back in the day. He just seems like a nice guy who is always cheerful and trying to look out for Morgan. Morgan makes some dicey calls with the people she hangs out with like Paine. Ultimately I don’t think she’ll be around those areas much going forward though and has developed quite a bit as a result of this experience. The severity of the case against her father gradually sinks in during the film and she doesn’t take this in stride but then the film shows the contrast of how she handles the news at the end of the film. She’s come a long way and won’t be blindsided anymore.

As a noir thriller kind of movie, this film always has some level of danger present. Whether it’s Mark trying to hide a body or quickly thinking up an alibi, you can tell that he’s never quite safe. It also works well in keeping your interest the whole time through. The movie’s fairly long but the pacing is on point so it never drags on. We see enough of Mark’s life to see what makes him tick and it helps build the world around the mystery. He’s certainly quick on his feet so it’s easy to see why he got such a high rank at the start even if he’s been on a bit of a decline since then with how he beats up the criminals.

Overall, This was a solid movie. It really builds a good atmosphere from the start and the adventure is interesting from start to finish. Mark makes for a good hero and Scalise ends up being a smarter villain than I expected. As a result you have some decent banter with them. The only time Mark goes too far is when he takes such a hard stance against his partner at one point. That was definitely the wrong move and showed him taking out his aggression on the wrong person. Even though the case may be solved, it is fair to say that this line of work may not be right for him. There really is nothing to prevent this kind of scenario from happening again because it’s fair to say that this case hasn’t really changed him. The ending is left up to interpretation on how it will go though so you can ultimately reach your own ending. If you’re looking forward to a good noir title then this is a good one to watch.

Overall 7/10

Murder, She Said Review


It’s time for my first Miss Marple film. I definitely am not too knowledgeable about her compared to the other detectives around but the film was quite solid. It has really high quality writing as you would expect from these retro mysteries and I also thought it took a rather unique take on the genre. As an elderly woman, Marple has to be careful when solving these mysteries that she isn’t put in imminent danger.

The movie starts out with Marple noticing someone get strangled on a train. She reports this to the conductor but he doesn’t believe her and the cops don’t but it either. What are the odds that she could have truly seen such a murder from a different train at high speeds? Making matters worse is the fact that she was reading a murder mystery so everyone figures she lost her mind. Her only friend Stringer believes her but what can they do about it?

Well, the two of them do some poking around the train site and manage to figure out that the main suspicious location is a nearby manor. Marple gets herself hired as a maid and now she will be able to do some sleuthing with plenty of time to spare. There was a recent death in the family so now everyone is getting ready to get the money so you can probably guess who the suspects are. Every person in this family is absolutely a suspect so Marple will have to do her best to find the right person before she is murdered. Fortunately she will have the aid of a very inquisitive kid.

Another difference with the Marple series compared to most is that she will always get herself hired or involved in the location itself. This requires actually getting a job in several instances like this so she has to find clues between shifts. As a maid she is kept quite busy but does really well even considering that she is older at this point and not very fit either.

Miss Marple is not running low on confidence though and gets a lot of good lines throughout. She isn’t intimidated by these suspects in the slightest and just keeps on going as she normally would. She’s very methodical about getting the clues as well and does a good job of slowly tightening the noose around the villains.

Then there’s the kid although I can’t find his name anywhere. Needless to say, I was quite impressed with him as the kid was actually not annoying for a change. This is very rare for a kid since they tend to drag each scene down. This guy actually had some wit about him though and also didn’t desert Marple when they were nearly caught. He’s fairly brave as well and even knows how to scare people off. This is exactly the way I’d like to see all the kids look and it’s certainly a credit to the film’s writing.

While the Inspector would go on to get much bigger roles in the next few films, this was a good debut appearance for him. He certainly doesn’t believe Marple theories much but it isn’t yet personal in this film. He just has his own way of doing things and doesn’t want to be slowed down all the time. As long as he learns his lesson in the next films then he won’t look bad but….we’ll see how that goes. He’s always entertaining to have around though.

As for Springer, he’s a lot more cautious than Marple. She really ends up causing him a lot of stress throughout because of her dangerous tasks. It’s not like he can just walk in and help her out if anything happens either so that wears him down. I like his enthusiasm though as he will always try to help out even if he has absolutely no idea what is going on. He had a fairly good job at the library too but is ready to drop everything when she needs help.

As for the actual case, it goes pretty well. There are just enough family members/suspects that it’s hard to remember just about any of their names but they’re all suitably suspicious. You could close your eyes and just pick any with how incriminating all of their dialogue is. It makes for a strong opening case to start the series out. I would say there are enough clues where you can try to complete the case on your own as well.

There are always a few extra wrinkles thrown in to trick the police so you’ll have to watch out for those as well. In a way it’s a good chance to see if your theory is right because if the inspector says that this is what happened…you know that it did not. A shame certainly but that’s just how it goes since you know Marple will be the one to bring out the right theory.

Mysteries can come in many shapes and forms. You can have a very serious one, a fast paced thriller, etc. This one is more of a slow boil mystery that’s quite light hearted and it works well. Marple wants to help make the world a better place and sure there are murders and everything so this is serious but the movie has a lot of happy music throughout which is why I’d consider it fairly cheerful. Marple even has her own theme which will continue to play in the next few films as well.

You also get to see her life around the town a bit. She sips some tea while discussing the case with her friend and it’s all rather peaceful. It’s s calming environment which likely helps her focus and collect her thoughts. You’d barely believe that a murder just happened but it’s this hybrid of serious and calm moments that really makes the series work. I wouldn’t say it matches up to Sherlock Holmes or Poirot but I would take it above Nancy Drew and most iterations of the Hardy Boys.

Overall, Murder, She Said is a good way to start things off. It’s always fun to see the opening movie in a series so you can see which characters and running gags will continue. The writing is definitely on point and the films have good pacing. You won’t be bored while this is going on and it all moves in a very brisk manner. I’ll have a review up for the first sequel shortly.

Overall 7/10

Straight Time 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

When you’ve got a film about a ex-convict attempting to turn his life around, you have to wonder if he will make it through to the end or if he’ll go more Ocean’s Eleven style where the message he learned was just not to get caught next time. Well, no matter how you slice it, Max wasn’t quite ready for the journey that was to follow here. The movie ends up fumbling relatively early on and is never able to get up again.

The movie starts with Max being released from prison. He’s been in and out of prison a whole lot over the years but maybe this was his last time. His parole officer is Earl and he reminds Max that there are a whole lot of strict rules and regulations that Max will be expected to follow. Max decides to break those rules immediately as he picks his own place to sleep and basically tests Earl’s patience.

Later on Max is finally able to get a job and starts complying but also immediately asks out a girl named Jenny. She agrees to go out with this man she has only known for 5 minutes and things are looking good except that Max goes back to hang out with his friend Willy who does a lot of drugs. This naturally ends up putting Max back in jail temporarily through a mix-up. Now Max is wondering if he will ever truly be free or if maybe he should just go back to his life of crime.

That’s the dilemma he finds himself in, but Max really doesn’t do himself any favors. For starters, he should have been following the rules of his parole pretty seriously. Messing up on day 1 is pretty bad. Then you have the whole trying to get back into the romance game so quickly. At least give yourself time to try and get used to the swing of things right? He jokes about dining and dashing immediately which isn’t a good idea.

Max gradually deteriorates throughout the film and I can definitely say that I wasn’t a fan of the guy. It didn’t seem to be like he really made an honest effort to try and turn over a new leaf. He definitely shouldn’t have allowed his friend to do drugs in his room and then he was very quick to just decide to start robbing places again. The instant you turn to a life of crime you’ve lost any sympathy points you might have had.

You’re rooting for the cops to capture Max as soon as possible. The guy’s just unhinged and is a danger to society. Based on how often he has been captured though, I don’t expect that he will be on the loose for long. As for Earl, he is the kind of guy who definitely doesn’t like to be shown any disrespect. Max starts defying him early on which leads to a very quick breakdown in their relationship. As a result he goes pretty tough on Max. He seems like he would have probably been a decent parole officer otherwise.

As for Jenny, my main issue with her is that she just seems way too at east with the whole situation. She meets up with Max and within minutes she is prepared to go out with him. Then she gradually learns that he’s a criminal and has a very minimal reaction to it. He starts getting rather rough about this as he yells that he can do what he wants and that he won’t change who he is. Jenny just accepts this as well.

It’s nice that she is so dedicated but you never really understand why she is. It’s like she just woke up one day and decided that Max must be a good guy. At least she’s a positive influence compared to his other friends Willy and Jerry. Willy and his household just seemed really messed up when Max got invited over. The whole place just didn’t have a good feeling and part of the tension is likely because of the drugs. I would have cut out the whole visiting scene entirely.

Meanwhile Jerry is probably the smartest character here in terms of when they’re actually going through with the heist but at the same time, he had a pretty good job and was making good money so deciding to go back on a life of crime wasn’t very smart. He didn’t put himself in a good position at all. If your partner isn’t leaving the crime scene in time then it’s definitely time to ditch him and escape before it’s too late.

Aside from the unlikable main cast, the movie just isn’t super interesting. It’s more frustrating than anything when you have to follow a bad main character. You see him making all of the wrong decisions time after time and can only shake your head. This is one of those films where it feels like Max creates all of the problems for himself.

Additionally, the romance in the film is just way too rushed and unrealistic. It goes too far in such a short amount of time and the film really didn’t need to include it. The way Max acts all defensive and treats Jenny despite him causing all of the trouble just makes him even more unlikable. They have a one night stand in a scene that goes on for way too long and definitely shows more than it should. All of these elements bundled together show that the film was trying to be a lot more gritty and intense than it needed to be. As a result, it wipes away any good parts that it might have had.

Overall, Straight Time won’t leave much of an impression so you’ll probably forget about it before long. I think it’s a story that could have been handled a lot better but the execution wasn’t on point. To a large extent the film just feels dirty. Every house/landmark in the film is as old as can be. The prison is deteriorating, the motel hasn’t been kept up to date, etc. The characters are morally bankrupt and it feels like the whole town is living in a bad neighborhood. Even the light hearted scenes never quite get all the way to being happy scenes as you feel a sense of dread. With some good characters that can be an effective combo but with nobody to root for, it just adds to the dragging experience of making it to the end here. I’d definitely say to give this one a hard pass.

Overall 1/10

The Blue Gardenia Review


Time for a classic noir thriller. One of the key things to remember if you ever find yourself in a Noir type situation is that you shouldn’t drink. Getting drunk is absolutely without a doubt one of the biggest mistakes you could make here. It puts you in a bad spot right out of the gate and there is really no escape. The whole movie would play out a lot differently without that.

The movie starts with Norah getting ready to celebrate her birthday on her own. Her fiancée is still away at war so at least she can have a good time on her own. Unfortunately she gets a letter that he has decided to marry someone else instead. Broken and confused, Norah decides to go out with a local flirt and gets herself as drunk as possible. This leads to him driving her to his place and taking advantage of the situation. She fights back and when she wakes up he is dead.

Norah heads home hoping to put this behind her but it’s all over the news now. The cops badly want to find whoever murdered the criminal. They are slowly getting closer and Norah’s only hope may be reporter Casey. He claims that he will help protect her from the police and get her a reduced sentence but can she really trust a member of the media? Norah will have to decide quickly before time is up.

Getting drunk really does put you in a bind. It’s also why you don’t want to make any snap decisions when you’ve just had a bad day. Norah went on this date in large part just to try and get over her fiancé. Still not good to go with such a shady customer though. Now since Norah lost her memories of what happened after drinking she doesn’t know if she truly murdered him or not. It certainly appears to have played out that way but she can’t be sure.

On this note though, it is absolutely correct that she fought back. At one point when asking her roommates hypothetical questions about the situation one of them says you can’t just take down every guy who gets handsy. That seemed to be underestimating the situation quite a lot. Even if she ended up murdering him with the final strike, that was definitely in self defense so it’s not like she tried to destroy him. It was her or him at that point and she had to fight to survive.

Of course most of the film is really about Norah fighting her inner doubts. If she could at least remember what happened then she would feel a lot better about the whole thing. As it is, she is just very confused. I wouldn’t say she was a great main heroine but she’s okay. She doesn’t do the rest job of hiding what happened but granted, being in such a situation is pretty stressful so you can expect some slip ups.

As for the reporter Casey, he was a pretty fun character. He had some good banter with the local police as the chief called in during his attempts to find the identity of the murderer. It is quite brazen of him to be saying such things like trusting him over the cops in a public forum like that. He also underestimates how many people are keeping up with the case which ends up catching up to him. He was a charismatic guy though, same as the police chief. I wouldn’t have minded seeing more of those guys.

The roommates don’t leave nearly as much of an impression though. I was expecting the big book fan to do a lot by the end but in a way her character never went anywhere. She’s knowledgeable about things as the smart member of the group but she never gets to use her intelligence for anything. The other one at least helps Norah out by the end and gives a good amount of moral support.

Compared to most Noir films there isn’t a whole lot to talk about though since the story is so direct. There’s really only one plot twist here and there’s virtually no foreshadowing for it so it just sort of happens without a lot of time to piece it together on your own. The movie has quality writing and an engaging story which is really what you want to see early on. It helps keep the rest of the film interesting and the pacing tight.

I’d put it under the average Noir film though as it is just lacking that depth some of the others have. There isn’t much to theorize or discuss which is not necessarily a bad thing but it does mean that this one won’t have the same staying power. I think I would have maybe added one more character, perhaps someone trying to throw some blackmail into the mix which would ultimately be a red herring. Just some kind of crazy twist, perhaps involving her Fiancé. Imagine he shows up and never told anyone that he didn’t even leave for war at all. Turns out the whole story was fake. At this point we’re discussing pure hypotheticals though.

Overall, The Blue Gardenia is a good movie. It has strong writing and an engaging plot. At the same time, there aren’t a whole lot of stand out characters here. I would have liked one of Norah’s friends to defend her here by reminding her it was in self defense or something like that. The guy who got murdered was also extra sleazy, would have been nice if he wasn’t quite so morally bankrupt. The movie has a satisfying ending so you’ll enjoy the ride. I’d certainly recommend it if you like Noir titles or just want something suspenseful.

Overall 6/10

Gone Girl 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

Time to look at a pretty ambitious murder mystery film that certainly takes you through quite the roller coaster. At around 2 and a half hours you can imagine that a lot is going to happen here. It’s the kind of film where there will be a lot of debate on what part of the story would be considered a spoiler. Where should you stop the summary if you want people to get the full experience? Typically for convenience I’d just say anything in any of the main trailers is not a spoiler and anything beyond that is. That said, I haven’t seen the trailers for this film so lets see how this goes.

My spoiler free summary would be: Nick heads home on his 5th anniversary to celebrate with his wife Amy. Unfortunately she isn’t there and there are several signs of a struggle in the house. He calls in the cops who do an investigation but they quickly begin to suspect that Nick is the one who bumped off his wife. The setup just doesn’t look right and he keeps on missing details or giving them incorrect information about his wife. Either he didn’t know her very well or he is hiding something. Can Nick prove his innocence and find out who really attacked his wife? He will have to hurry before his life is effectively over.

It’s definitely a pretty intense premise partially because you don’t know if you can trust Nick or not. The very first scene is him thinking about murdering Amy after all so the film is immediately giving you reason not to trust him. He keeps on saying that Amy had no friends and basically no life outside of being at home all the time so that sounds a bit shady on its face as well. There are just a lot of angles to tackle this at so you’re left to your devices as the film keeps things rolling.

Gradually we learn more and more to the point where the film’s plot completely changes from how it started. This wouldn’t be a proper mystery film if you could easily guess the ending right? The main cast is fairly small so each player is able to do a lot. Nick doesn’t make for a likable main character though and in general you may find it hard to find anyone to root for. The two best characters in the film were easily the main cop Rhonda and Nick’s lawyer Tanner. Both of them were always ready for whatever the next step was and how to get ready for it.

There’s more to say on this but I think it’s time to jump into the spoiler part of the review so if you haven’t seen the film yet you can skip the next _ paragraphs as we dive into the nitty gritty details here. So you have enough time to escape as you speed read this I am putting this empty sentence of nothingness/filler that I am typing up as I type this, but then it’s time to dash because we’re going right into this. Are you ready?

So what I wrote so far is what I would consider the spoiler free version of the story. You should really not have any idea that this is something beyond a classic murder mystery film when you’re going into the film and see if you can figure it out for yourself or if not, be surprised with the characters. It turns out that Amy faked her death so that Nick would take the blame and ultimately be put in jail. She’ll then destroy herself which will lead to Nick being destroyed. It’s her ultimate end game plan. The reason she did this is because Nick was cheating on her with one of his students so she figured this would make things even.

Naturally it’s quite the diabolical plan but as we learn about her past, it’s not exactly out of character. She framed another guy for rape, sabotaged various careers, and was extremely unstable throughout her life. Amy is very quick to try and ruin lives whenever she can. So even if Nick hadn’t cheated I don’t doubt that she would have come for him at some point although it’s still important to note that he is the one who made the first move. He began acting distant and messing around with someone on the side before Amy went this far. She also tried to talk with him a few times but he declined each time so she took her drastic measures.

Amy’s an intense antagonist to watch since she has everything so carefully planned. She’s certainly not a likable character in the slightest though and it’s easy to see why people didn’t get along with her. She has a huge superiority complex where she is always insulting someone and has the grossest scene in the film when she spits into someone’s drink. That’s always just super nasty to even think about, much less see. The film makes it clear that she is not exactly going to get redeemed anytime soon and will keep up her antics to the end.

The scene where she flat out murders someone is quite intense. Gone Girl isn’t afraid to really go all out with being rather explicit about her plans and how she accomplishes things. To pull off her claims she does let the guys actually have their way for a bit like Desi who got used from start to finish. You know from the jump that she is going to murder him, the only question is how. That scene certainly got violent fast.

The writing is good with the characters explaining each step of their logic and how it went down. Again, it can be a bit too detailed/explicit if you ask me on explaining how you fool people with these tricks and such. I don’t need all the gritty details and you can put the dots together yourself. One of the themes in the film is pretty much that both Nick and Amy are such corrupt characters that you may wonder who you should be rooting for. Nick’s is clearly the lesser of two evils though so if we’re being honest I would say Amy is clearly the antagonist.

Ultimately it’s the extra details in the writing and the grittiness of the film that holds this one back from being a winner. There are quite a few bits of fanservice here along with one night stands that show more detail than you would expect in the average film. While this is intentional, most of the characters are not likable either so you aren’t exactly left with anyone to root for. These various elements quickly add up to strike points away from the film. It’s got a very interesting plot but it should have focused more on that with the TV commercials and getting the characters debating back and forth and less on making sure each character was thoroughly corrupted. I could also due with two of the more gross scenes in particular.

Meanwhile Nick’s more like an annoyance who talks a lot to say the right things but he clearly doesn’t mean any of it. To finish up with Amy before I move on though, she does occasionally overestimate herself though. Her plans are really well thought out but she doesn’t think as well under duress as seen when she was mugged by her neighbors. It was a pretty bad mistake that she dropped the money the way that she did. They probably would have attacked her eventually but it certainly sped things up.

Now for Nick, so he was cheating on Amy so right off the bat he’s a pretty terrible main character. It gets worse when you see the depths he went through to hide this and that he was going to confess on their anniversary. It’s just a bad way to do things. Then you have to consider that he didn’t know Amy was so psychotic initially so it just seems like he is being mean to her for no real reason. He just fell out of love for her out of the blue. He also hides clues from the cops which just puts him in even more trouble. It may not have gone super well for him but getting in their way wasn’t helping either.

Rhonda is very good at her job and she really thinks about each piece of evidence. She isn’t as quick to condemn Nick the way everyone else is but eventually the evidence is a bit much to ignore. Especially when you consider how unstable Nick is the whole time. Her partner was a lot of fun though, I liked how he was constantly taking shots at Nick the whole time. Clearly he wasn’t having any of this.

Nick’s sister Margo is pretty supportive of him the whole time although she gets rightfully upset when she finds out about the cheating. He wasn’t exactly careful doing all of that while she was right there in the house. The odds of her finding him were pretty high. Finally we have Tanner and his role may not have been large but he was definitely a lot of fun. The guy was good at his job and even though Nick kept sabotaging himself, Tanner did a good job of keeping him in the race.

The movie ends on a rather ambitious note. It’s not quite the ending I would have expected that’s for sure. With this ending there are any number of ways that this could play out. In most cases I would say Amy probably takes the final win but I suppose Nick would have a shot. I think a sequel could take this in some interesting ways by introducing new villains but it still makes sense as a stand alone ending as well. I was pretty satisfied with the ending overall.

Overall, Gone Girl is a pretty intense murder mystery. It’s the kind of film that has its story change so dynamically that it’s hard to really look at in depth without mentioning some spoilers. That said, the less you know about it, the more effectively you will be able to watch it. With all that said, it can get a little too graphic and gritty with setting the stage here. As you do learn more and more about what is happening in the film, you see that the manipulations can go quite far and at high cost to get someone to do what they want. I think you could cut some things out and easily raise the score here but as it stands I would advise checking out Sherlock Holmes or some of those classic mystery films instead which also have a lot of solid twists.

Overall 3/10

Arsenic and Old Lace Review


It’s time to look at a comedy/parody film from a while back. I’m always up for that combo that’s for sure. The plot is pretty out there but of course the unnerving part is that it may not have been all that difficult to pull off a scheme like this back in the day. With all of the characters acting rather insane here you’ll have to try to keep up and see who has the upper hand by the end of the film. The lead definitely changes a lot as things go on.

The movie starts with Mortimer and Elaine about to get married. He’s feeling pretty shamed about the whole thing because he was always a huge critic of marriage in general. He just changed his tune after meeting up with Elaine. After being married they’re ready to go to the Honeymoon but just have to go home for a few minutes to say their goodbyes and such. They live next door at least so they’re close to each other. Unfortunately, it turns out that Mortimer’s two aunts Abby and Martha have been going around murdering people. They have a sign that says room for rent and then any guy who walks through the door is promptly poisoned and buried. They have already bumped off 12 people. Mortimer decides to pin the blame on his brother Teddy who believes that he is actually the President of the United States Teddy Roosevelt. Complicating matters is the fact that Mortimer’s other brother Jonathan has escaped from jail and intends to make this his new home. Can Mortimer solve all of these problems in time to get back to Elaine and enjoy the honeymoon?

Mortimer’s character arc in the early part of the film is definitely the Hollywood dream. That while you may be a skeptic of falling in love and all you will eventually break once you meet the right person. Mortimer certainly didn’t last long after all since this was literally the first scene of the movie. I think being against marriage is definitely not the right play though. If you’re content to be single that’s one thing but if you still want romance without marriage then that’s a mistake. Being committed to one person for the longhaul is far better than deciding to stay free during the relationship. This doesn’t play almost any part in the movie though.

From all the plots, the one with him and Elaine gets the shaft. Basically any time she tries to enter the house Mortimer stops her or she gets involved with the murder conspiracy. Nobody’s really of any help to her when it counts aside from Mortimer so at least he helps out. He handles that situation rather poorly though. She has a point that they just married and he is already ignoring her and pushing off their events so that’s not a good start. Mortimer really doesn’t have any excuse for being like this either so that hurts him a bit as the main character. I think this plot almost should have been cut out or at least handled in a very different way.

The main plot is of course about how crazy the family is. It’s not every day you see old ladies like Abby and Martha just bumping everyone off like this. They were really on a roll with taking everyone out of the picture. I can’t say that I was a fan of them though. A more reasonable main character would have been able to win the verbal debates a little easier but Mortimer would keep on getting defeated at every turn. If anything Jonathan and Herman did better but that’s due to the fact that they’re total villains of course. Then you have Teddy who is pretty insane the whole time and never really ends up helping the heroes.

The cops show up a few times and I do like the younger one. He seems like a very earnest guy and just wants everyone to read his script. Nothing wrong with that although he does get quite distracted at times so he probably needs to show a little more restraint. Jonathan is certainly an intimidating presence here with the only character who is able to stand up to him being Mortimer. That’s one angle I would have liked to have seen more. Mortimer clearly doesn’t fear him the way the others do but they don’t get a lot of scenes together. Mortimer usually has to dash off to try and frame Teddy or something like that. The closest we get is when Mortimer is trying to blackmail Jonathan with the body in the chest.

Of course Herman is also a fun character. He certainly gets drunk a lot and constantly seems stressed out. He’s just as villainous as Jonathan despite being this timid though which is clear in how he still helps carry out these plans at the end of the day. Surely he would have put a stop to this if he had a moral compass. So there are quite a lot of characters running around here that’s for sure. The film is surprisingly long and that allows it to push all of these plots forward quite a bit.

It’s definitely a pretty fun film. In some respects I felt the writing could have been better but there’s enough funny moments to keep the pacing tight. You won’t get bored or lose focus during the movie, I can definitely say that. Surprisingly the poisoned drinks don’t actually get much of a focus after the first scene. That’s okay with me though because it makes for a solid red herring throughout the film. You just never know when the characters are going to bust it out. The best scene in the film to me is when Mortimer tries explaining to Herman how the main characters of the plays he critiques aren’t very smart at all. Did I mention that he was an art critic? Like I said, there’s a whole lot going on here.

Overall, This is a pretty solid murder parody. It’s definitely been tough for the town with everyone getting bumped off though. It’s a subtle reminder that you can’t just trust anyone even if they appear harmless. As long as you like a good blend of thriller and parody you’ll definitely enjoy this film. There’s a lot to like here and quite a lot going on. The constant suspense of hiding the bodies keeps the film interesting and of course you have to decide who to root for. The only reasonable option here is the cops since everyone else is either a murderer, accessory to murder, or trying to frame someone else for the murders. It’s pretty fortunate for Elaine that she wasn’t in the house or she would have also gotten mixed up in all of this.

Overall 7/10

Murder by Contract Review


It’s time to look at a thriller film from a while ago. It’s a pretty interesting hitman story and the writing/atmosphere keep this movie solid throughout its run. The dialogue is pretty solid and Claude plays a lot of mind games with the other characters. I do think his first boss should have probably been a little more prepared for what happened but I guess in his old age he started to drop his guard a bit more. It’s not exactly beyond the pale for that to happen so I could see it as being pretty reasonable. At most the ending just feels a bit on the lucky side for the character rather than a decisive victory. I would have made it a little different like letting a shot go through instead to stop things.

The movie starts with a guy named Claude deciding to get into the hitman business. The reason for this is that he wants to buy an expensive house and his day job will never get him enough money for it. He wants cash quick and the easiest way to do it is by bumping people off. He quickly manages to get hired into this job and proves to be a natural. Eventually he is given a big job which will really help him earn a ton of money at once. He has to bump off a witness before he can expose the main villain. What Claude didn’t realize is that the witness is actually a lady named Billie. He didn’t want to sign up for a job like this if it meant taking out a lady but there’s no way back. Claude decides to complete his mission but it definitely won’t be a simple one.

Whenever you have a villain as the main character the movie has to take a bit of a different approach. After all, we can’t possibly root for a character like that. So you’re rooting for the cops to stop him even though his target is hinted to not exactly be blameless either. The film has to be careful with the ending as well as the whole adventure so things don’t go too far. I thought this movie did a good job of handling all the points below. The ending is satisfying even if I would have played it differently and Claude’s character is handled well.

Claude seems a bit crazy at times and tends to ramble on about things but his speeches are always interesting to listen too. A quality villain should always be able to plan things out well and in an interesting way. He may be insane but at least he believes in his own ideals. The film has him try to offer up some philosophical takes as the movie goes on. He does have a point that it’s a lot harder to track a hitman than someone with a personal vendetta since there is no motive to be found in his case. This was in the era before smart phones and cameras so it’s also a lot easier for him to go into an area and leave undetected. He doesn’t use guns which also makes things tricky for him although he clearly trained in how to use them as well. When he needs to use a firearm briefly he is able to make a difficult shot with no real effort.

So Claude was a pretty fun villain. Meanwhile the two guys watching over him were pretty solid too. George is always trying to give Claude the benefit of the doubt while Marc plays hard ball with him. They get a lot of solid banter throughout the movie and do have some points about how Claude makes this harder than necessary. Either way it would have been difficult to stop Billie though. To her credit she takes a lot of solid precautions and the cops also look good in their protection. They do their best to really surround her with protection at all times. I do think that it got a bit dicey only having one guard at the end though. I would have liked for him to have looked a little better all things considered. Their only real loss against Claude was due to Billie’s demands. I do question how they didn’t have anyone patrolling the surroundings after the whole TV attempt though.

Part of what makes the film work is that it can also be fairly light hearted in its approach. It has an interesting tone blend there as you know something is going to happen soon but until then the film stays calm. It mirrors Claude’s disposition here as he doesn’t seem to get very invested in anything either. He does the job and then gets out as quickly as possible. Not all of his plans are perfect of course. There is one instance where he decides to act rather faint and realistically I don’t see how this would work. It’s probably the moment in the film where you will have to suspend the most disbelief. It does make for a pretty intense climax though. It reminds you why he became known as such a dangerous person to be up against. At the end of the day he can take anyone out in an instance.

Overall, Murder by Contract is an interesting film and a pretty solid one overall. The writing is solid and the cast of characters are good. There’s one character who is pretty annoying given that she talks about confidential matters with ease. I have to blame the guy who told her as well since they only needed to keep the secret for 1 day to save a life. Is that really so hard? It was a bit plot convenient there but I wouldn’t say unrealistic because this is exactly the kind of thing that could happen at any time. So, if you’re up for a solid action film from the villain’s point of view as they plan a murder this is a good one. I dare say it would be one of the best in its genre as it’s hard to get this one exactly right. It certainly never drags on.

Overall 7/10

Double Indemnity Review


It’s time to take a look at a retro noir film. This is one of those titles where you should be rooting against the main character from the jump. He’s definitely not one of the more trust worthy guys out there and ends up making a lot of foolish mistakes. It’s a good movie though with a fun plot and a lot going on. I also always enjoyed the noir narration going on throughout the movie. That’s something I’d like to see make a comeback in the modern movies at some point. It’s just a fun thing to do.

The movie starts with Walter trying to track down someone whose insurance is about to expire. Walter always likes to stay on top of these things after all as he is one of the best insurance people in the business. When he gets to the house the guy isn’t there, but his wife Phyllis is. She figures him as an easy sucker to manipulate and she’s right as Walter immediately ignores the fact that she’s married to make a move. She reciprocates and lets him know that all Walter needs to do is help her bump off her husband so they can get rich off the insurance. Walter likes the sound of this and the two of them start planning. Can they bump this guy off and get rich without the expert Mr. Keyes finding out about this?

Keyes is the best character here. He’s always been really good at cracking down on criminals who try this kind of scam. Whenever someone submits a fake insurance claim he catches them in the act. It’s all because of the “little guy” who is basically his heart that lets him know when someone’s not being straight with him. Walter figures that he’s worked with Keyes for over 10 years so he can keep him in the dark. It’s a pretty high stakes gamble though but he’s already in it pretty deep and decides to go for the gold anyway.

So right away there’s no doubt about it. Walter’s one of the antagonists just as much as Phyllis. Only difference between them is Walter did it partially for Pyllis as well while she was just in it for the money. Walter tries to make a lot of justifications about it but at the end of the day he’s still pretty petty. His final plan was also pretty risky as Phyllis was one step ahead of him the whole time. He really underestimated her there and wasn’t even being all that subtle about what he was going to do. Closing all the windows and shades….really? He should have already known that Phyllis would be ready since the whole deal is that she’s pretty cunning.

The best parts of the film are definitely the cat and mouse games with Keyes. Keyes is always thinking up plan after plan to try and break down the story. There are quite a few similarities to Death Note here. At times Walter wonders if Keyes is on to him but is holding back to give Walter a chance to confess on his own. It gives you a lot to think about as you’re watching the film because this could really spin a lot of different ways. In terms of extra story beats, the only one I think we didn’t need was Lola’s plot. It makes Phyllis look pretty bad because of how obvious she was being.

So Phyllis was bumping off people left and right while trying on black to test it out? That’s the kind of thing you do when you’re trying to incriminate yourself, not when you’re trying to lie low. Lola ends up being a pretty big piece who could have blown the case wide open at any time. Instead she decides to keep quiet which is very fortunate for Phyllis but not very likely. At this point Phyllis bumped off both of her parents so what’ll it take for Lola to go to the cops? I think cutting her out of the film would have made sense. I suspect she was mainly there to give Walter some second thoughts about the whole thing.

Walter should have had second thoughts the moment he found out he was being the patsy in all of this though. He tries to play it off cool like most Noir characters by saying he didn’t care and all of that. I don’t really buy that for a second to be honest. Deep down he was hoping she really liked him and that was never going to work out. A romance built off of a murder is probably not going to last very long at all. He should have stuck to the content life of insurance selling. The company seemed really good to me to be honest and at least he had good friends. That’s not something he could say for after that. His final attempt was a bit odd but I guess at that point he was desperate.

Overall, Double Indemnity is a very solid film. While the main characters are pretty unlikable, you’ve got Keyes here to hold the whole thing together. Also, at least while Walter is a villain, it’s not like he’s portrayed as someone totally crazy that would hold the film back. He may be corrupt with all his justifications and all but at least he’s still got sound judgment which is needed for these battles of the mind. If you like Noir titles then this is definitely one to add to the books. It’s got a lot of different wrinkles to it and various story developments.

Overall 7/10