Redemption 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

Redemption is one of those films that could have worked really well as a stylistic action blockbuster where things are happening around every corner. Instead the film goes for grit and more often than not this ends up hurting the film. By the end everyone’s in rather poor shape and the film does not go for a happy ending. You just know that they’re all doomed.

The movie starts by introducing us to Joe. He’s currently homeless and just trying to survive in the back alleys. Unfortunately there are a group of thugs who go around beating up the homeless every night. Joe ends up escaping but not before getting roughed up quite a bit. He ends up falling into an empty apartment and takes refuge there. The owner won’t be back for a while so this may be his chance to finally start over. Joe stops taking drugs and even gets a job in a restaurant washing dishes. Things are looking up but then he starts getting into some dangerous territory when he accepts a job as an enforcer. On one hand the pay is excellent, but on the other hand he’s basically become a thug now. Can he find true romance like this?

A big part of the film is that he likes a lady named Cristina who works as a nun and as a result can’t actually date him. Joe doesn’t seem to care about that and pressures her into an affair all the time. She half heartedly tries rejecting him a few times but the issue is that she does enjoy the presents. At one point he gives her a ton of cash which she uses to buy some opera tickets. As the film goes on she definitely starts to lower her defenses but Joe tends to make things harder on himself by getting mixed into more dangerous situations so he isn’t always ready at the right time.

The romance is just pretty bad here. If Christina is interested then she should have just retired right away. The life of a nun isn’t for everyone and if that is the case for her then there’s no shame in walking away from that. It would have definitely been a much better option than trying to have it both ways. That’s what gets her into trouble quite a bit. She is a nice person who does a lot for the community so I won’t knock Christina entirely, but this plot just really dragged on throughout.

Never one to miss up a chance for adding some dark elements to the story, we also find out that Christina has a very dark backstory. It’s got to point being in the film except to add some shock value. Likewise we eventually learn about how Joe got into his present situation and lets just say it was not a pleasant experience. The film goes into it but effectively he was a soldier who ended up going on a bit of a revenge mission that rewarded him with a lot of guilt for the rest of his life. While it does explain how he became so broken in the film, it doesn’t make the rest of it any more enjoyable.

We’ve got a lead character here who is an excellent fighter, is intelligent, and resourceful. When Joe puts his mind to it he is able to quickly get a job and turn his life around. He gets off the drugs and even gets in shape again. It was a really solid turnaround but then the ending just throws that on its head for no real reason. There’s no good explanation for why he would just throw his life back out of whack like that. He can try to atone for his previous crimes or ignore it and push on. Intentionally putting himself back in a position where he’s going to be getting beat up and hunted again just isn’t a good way to end things.

There is a mild subplot where people are hunting him down with some security drones. By the end of the film we know who these guys are and this had potential but the film really doesn’t go into it very much. This ends up being more of an after thought that occurs so randomly you may forget it is even happening at some points. If this plot was played up more as Joe is on the run from this group then that would be interesting. I could have definitely gotten behind that.

Instead the film is mainly about showing us just how corrupt the place is. Joe never ends up being a likable character because he does a really bad job of coping with what’s going on. For example, becoming a shady enforcer was a bad move right from the jump. The instant he took that position he lost a lot of credit with me. There were so many other things he could have done instead. Had Joe kept on focusing on feeding the homeless and bettering himself then I think the movie would have been better off for it.

Maybe throw in some more fight scenes to show that he still has skills. We get a few fights but not really the stylized ones you would expect. They’re street fights through and through but at least they give us a break from how depressing the rest of the film can be. Even the main villain of the film naturally can’t be some random evil gangster but instead he’s really depraved. The film gives a whole lot of detail on how he takes down his victims and it’s just more grit.

Overall, Redemption is a film you will definitely want to avoid. If the film is supposed to be about Joe trying to redeem himself then it definitely failed at that approach. Joe starts off on a decent path for that and then just falls off the cliff. There are a whole lot of ways he could have helped people out with his skillset. A film about him taking the city back over from the gangs or something like that could have potentially been inspiring. Whether you’re looking for a dramatic film or a romance thriller, you’ll want to stay far away from this one.

Overall 2/10

Fast & Furious Review


It’s time to continue to the Fast and the Furious series. This time we’re going away from Tokyo and back to the main plot with Dom. You’ll get your share of explosive race scenes here and a pretty good story. The film still holds itself back a bit with its reliance on fanservice but you will get some hype rock songs to keep you in the mix. I don’t think it quite tops Tokyo Drift’s soundtrack but that one still has one of the more iconic film end songs.

The movie starts out with Dom and the gang stealing some more gold as they take down a truck. He feels like it’s all getting a little too dangerous though and decides to put some distance between himself and the rest of the family. Things are quiet for a while but then his friend Letty is murdered by a gang lord. Everyone warns Dom that he shouldn’t pursue this since the guy is an incredibly infamous villain but that’s not going to stop him. You don’t mess with family after all.

Then you have the other main character Brian who has been put back on the task force. He has not had the best track record as of late so this might be his last shot. He barely captures someone after an extended chase scene but he gets some clues. At the same time as Dom, Brian finds out about a big race that is about to happen. The winner gets to transport some of the goods which means that it is the perfect time to find the gang lord. Only one person can win the race though so this is going to get close.

The movie does a good job of contrasting each of the characters’ theme music. In Tokyo Drift the main character had an electronic theme that fit in with the neon atmosphere of Tokyo. Here Dom always gets a fast paced Spanish song and Brian gets an intense rock tune. They’ve all got different ways of handling their business after all even if there are a good amount of similarities. The soundtrack is definitely on point and reaches the intense levels you would expect here.

Fast & Furious doesn’t hold back with the special effects either. It looks good throughout with a lot of fun cars involved. The action scenes are good and the pacing is on point so the film doesn’t drag out. If anything you just wish it could be longer at times since it’s all over in the blink of an eye. The first race doesn’t even happen til almost halfway into the film. It’s cool for setting up the action that is about to happen but it also means that you can’t expect too many different races. The climax has a lot of action though. There’s a lot you can do with cars and that’s really the appeal of these films. Whenever Dom uses the nitro I’m reminded of the various racing games for Gamecube.

On the flip side, as always the movie does tend to dwell on its own fanservice issues a little too much. The characters inevitably go to night clubs and such where everyone is acting really sketchy. One of the villains certainly has a pretty cringe worthy setup going for him before Brian brings in the cops. I could do without those scenes so we could focus more on the action. None of the romances are particularly impressive here either and could really be cut out without any issues.

As for the main characters, I still prefer Dom to Brian. Dom really gets the job done and feels like an experienced veteran when it comes to racing. While Brian did appear to have the edge in the race, Dom always makes up for this with his own creativity on the track. As he is in revenge mode a lot here, you can expect a lot of intense scenes with him breaking into places and taking people down. He’s certainly a strong fighter.

Brian is still a good character too though. He is pretty torn at the moment with his friends and also with upholding the law. His agency looks a lot less reasonable here though as they jump in before he gives the signal and one guy in particular was trying to give him a hard time. Brian didn’t let that slide though and I liked how he landed a pretty good combo right away. He’s no pushover.

Then you have some of the supporting characters like Mia who is still pretty upset at Brian for his choices when they first met. The guy did lead off with a lot of lies and deception so you can see why there would be some sore feelings there. She seems like a good character and will hopefully get to do more soon. Letty doesn’t get to appear for very long before things get dicey for her but she was not someone who would back down from a tough mission. She did her best to the end.

None of the villains are particularly memorable though. You have the guy who took out Letty and he acts as evil and petty as possible. There’s just nothing really making him stand out from any other gangster. You know that he is doomed the moment he messed with Dom’s family. There’s Gisele who seems rather high up in the villain ranks but she doesn’t really get to race here. Hopefully that’ll change soon.

Overall, Fast & Furious is a fun way to bring the cast back. I’d like the films to really start focusing more on the races and less on the nightclub kind of scenes. Once it does that I think we’ll be off to the races so to speak. I do think it beats the first two films in the series though. Does it beat Tokyo Drift? That’s a pretty close one but ultimately I would give it the narrow edge. Due in part to the end stinger but I also liked how much influence it took from the Need for Speed series. Dom is definitely a better main character than the last guy though. We’ll see how the series continues from here because I’m really looking forward to seeing when the series goes really off the rails with the stunts and everything.

Overall 4/10

Underworld: Awakening 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

This may be the last Underworld review for a little while but it’s been an intense marathon to be sure. Awakening takes the series in a pretty solid direction as I would say it is the best title in the series so far. Now I suppose this is fairly relative as you’ll notice that there really isn’t much of a change in score.

The movie starts with the government finally deciding to step in. Now this is a plot I had definitely been looking forward to because you know that these guys are going to tip the scales. They don’t disappoint either. We learn that they have immediately wiped out virtually all of the Werewolves and even the Vampires are in hiding with only a small handful of bases left. The humans have won once more as always. They even managed to take down Selene and Michael with incredible ease.

12 years have passed and Selene is freed from her deep slumber. She doesn’t know who has freed her and why but now she wants to find Michael before it’s too late. She goes around slaughtering all the humans in her way but is no closer to finding him. She then meets up with a little girl who seems to have mysterious powers and a vampire named David. Together they will locate Michael but they also have to keep Eve (the little girl) safe as she is being hunted.

There’s a lot of action throughout in this film. After all, Selene is now powered by the elders so her power has grown exponentially. She is effectively on par with the hybrids now which is a pretty good power bump. Then you have the fact that she was already one of the most experienced Death Dealers and the villains need to watch out. The war between the vampires and werewolves is over. At this point everyone is scrambling for survival.

I had a feeling that this would be the best film early on. When Selene broke out of the test tube it was like something out of Resident Evil when Alice remembered everything and started a massacre. That’s pretty much how this plays out and it feels like Selene has the highest body count yet. She is not taking any prisoners at all and it’s nice to finally see her using these abilities well. It’s Selene’s best appearance by a longshot.

Fans of Michael from the first two films likely won’t enjoy that he is written out so quickly though. The guy gets less than a minute of screen time here and doesn’t look great. There’s a scene near the end where you have to question what he’s doing. He really didn’t think this one through. Now there is some extra context in the next film that you may feel retcons things to an extent or if not, it’s at the very least a little implausible how this would have went down.

The new main guy is David and he’s pretty solid. He may not be quite as powerful as Michael but he’s determined and does well at defying his vampire community to help Selene out. Then you have Eve who is pretty powerful. She isn’t quite old enough yet to really be able to know what she’s doing like the others but she does take down her share of enemies. Her berserker stage can definitely hold its own with the other characters.

As you can probably guess the fights are on point here. Any time Selene is beating up on the fighters with her twin gun style or just using some hand to hand it’s pretty impressive. I had a bit of a hard time believing that the super wolf at the end could give her so much trouble though. I guess we needed some tension or it would be too easy though. It did make for a great final fight.

At its core this is why the film exceeded the others. It had the best action easily and I would also say the story was the best even if it’s a lot lighter than the others. In terms of scope and mystery then the first film wins but this one was really a good revenge story about her search for Michael. As I mentioned, the army’s involvement was also pretty solid and I like how easily they were able to end this war. It had been raging for hundreds of years among the the two species but the government ended it in 12.

That’s really impressive. It would have been nice to see a bit more of them since they effectively vanish but I think we’re supposed to know that they still have the edge at this point. The vampires need to lie low for a while and the Lycan have been all but exterminated in the meantime. If anything this would have worked rather well as the final Underworld film even with the loose ends that stuck around.

Of course it wouldn’t be Underworld without incredible amounts of gratuitous violence at all times. The series likes to give the fighters as many gruesome injuries as possible before ultimately blowing them up. Because both species have regenerative abilities it allows the films to really go all out in having them get thrown around. If you would just tone down the violence, blood sucking, and biting then this series could have really ended up being close to top notch.

You could probably stand to fix some of the power levels a bit too. After a while Hybrids don’t seem to special if they can be taken out with one hit and how is Selene being overwhelmed by a giant wolf like that? She should still be able to win with pure skill the whole time. The way she defeated the final opponent was quite clever though so it was nice to add some strategy to the mix.

Overall, Underworld: Awakening feels like it has gone back to the roots of the series. We get a lot of excellent visuals and the city is back in the forefront. We get to see the world’s reaction to the beasts which is cool although it would have been even better if they were thrown in a court room or something. Selene’s investigation into what happened to Michael also makes for a great story beat. We’ll see if the series can continue this one’s momentum. While it may be kept as far away from the top as ever, at this point you’re invested in seeing how it all goes down.

Overall 2/10

Southpaw 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.

Southpaw is in a lot of ways a modern Rocky film. That said, as long as Creed exists we have a much better version of how to follow Rocky up. The fight scenes in Southpaw aren’t nearly as dynamic as Creed’s and the film goes a little too far in getting Billy to absolute rock bottom for his eventual climb back to success. This isn’t really a film I would recommend but it does have enough positives to keep it from being a bad movie. A sequel would have potential.

The movie starts with Billy becoming the world champion after another big win. His wife Maureen wants him to finally give up boxing though. They have a lot of money as it is and Billy is slowly taking more injuries with each battle. Billy agrees so he prepares a speech but when heading out he is confronted by an up and coming boxer named Miguel. Miguel baits Billy into a fight and during the scuffle one of Miguel’s minions fatally shoots Maureen. After she dies Billy’s life goes into ruins as he tries to end himself which results in his daughter being taken away from him as well. Billy’s also in danger of being bankrupt as he can no longer afford his lifestyle and mansion without money. His only choice is to get back in the ring once more but he’ll need a coach. Can he find someone to help him become the champion again?

So you can definitely see what the film is going for. Absolutely obliterate Billy’s life so then you can see him rise back to the top in order to set things right. The issue for any kind of adventure like this though is if you go too far in blowing up his life then even the climax won’t be as uplifting because there is no going back. That’s basically what happens here. For example, Maureen’s death is a big one. It’s not like she can come back to life so no matter what he does, that’s it. I think a better way to handle that plot would have been to have her get seriously injured or something and he doesn’t have the money to pay for her bills. That leads him to need to become champion again or win some more fights.

Something like that would still allow for almost all of the other big plots to continue. The only exception would be Leila’s story which would definitely need to be retooled a bit. It’s not as crushing a twist as having her die but that just felt unnecessary. Maureen was a fun character so it’s too bad that she got written out so quickly. Billy’s a bit of a tough character to root for most of the time. She helped steer him in the right direction but it’s clear that without her he wasn’t in nearly as good a spot as he once was. He blows up at his own friends to the point where he pulls a gun on one of them. He’s not very co-operative with getting a job initially and doesn’t exactly set a good example for his daughter.

He makes so many mistakes throughout the movie that even when he eventually solves them, you feel like he went quite far. Rocky at his lowest never made these mistakes. Additionally, Billy’s highs aren’t as high as Rocky’s. Rocky’s montages still hold up exceptionally well even after all this time. Billy’s is good as well but it’s clear that it isn’t even in the same league. The song isn’t as memorable and it just doesn’t have as much energy.

Leila’s a kid so it’s hard for her to process all of this of course but she’s not a very fun character most of the time. She definitely doesn’t make things any easier on Billy. Her worst scene is probably when she begs everyone to let her watch his big fight and then has a hard time watching because of how violent it is. That’s exactly why they were warning her not to watch it. Angela was a solid supporting character though. She’s the child services agent in charge of this case and was reasonable the whole time. She did seem to care about making sure Leila was doing well here.

Then you have the villain Miguel. There’s not much to him other than the fact that he fights dirty and likes to egg his opponents on. It wasn’t exactly hard for him to bait Billy into a match. He can fight really well so he’s not all talk but he definitely made sure to be as unlikable as possible. There’s just nothing nice about the guy or charismatic unlike someone like Apollo. Miguel’s fairly one note but his role in the film isn’t nearly as big as you might expect so it’s not a big deal. Finally we have Tick who ends up training Billy for the big fight. He’s a fun enough character and helps to set Billy straight on some things. You can’t win tournaments without a quality coach after all.

The fight scenes are pretty good. Southpaw is clearly going for a very realistic feel so you don’t have the dynamic cuts and lighting as other boxing films. I’ll admit that I miss those since these can’t standout as well without them but by and large I have no complaints with these scenes. You can definitely feel the intensity behind each swing which is the important thing at the end of the days. It also fits in with the rather gritty nature of the film.

Southpaw’s dark outlook can only take it so far though. You’d be hard pressed to call this a fun film. It tries to balance out being an uplifting film with giving Billy a new setback every few minutes so by the end of it you’ll be more exhausted than hyped. Maureen’s death was really my biggest issue with the film but other small scenes like Billy pulling a gun on his friend and threatening to murder him don’t help matters. You’ve got Billy’s suicide attempt as well and the film took the notion of “rock bottom” a little too far.

Overall, Southpaw will serve as a quick fix if you need to watch a big Boxing film while we wait for Creed III. That said, I would just recommend watching the Rocky films again instead. Those are just a lot of fun or check out the two Creed films if you haven’t already. Southpaw doesn’t do anything better than its rivals and as a standalone film it just barely manages to break even. The script isn’t great and there isn’t much replay value but I still wouldn’t call this a bad film because it has enough strengths in the fight scenes to keep it afloat.

Overall 5/10

Enough Review


Enough is a film where we finally have a heroine trying to frame the main villain as opposed to the other way around. Typically you always see the villains going for this trick so it’s a nice reversal of sorts. At the same time, the film’s tagline and whole promotional campaigns feel like they spoil the ending right off the bar. There isn’t any actual fighting until the very end of the film. If anything it would have been more interesting if we could have had more of a setup to the fight from the start like the lead saying to give her 2 years and she’ll come back with masterful skills. The villain would accept the deal since he’s overconfident and then you’ve got like a Rocky climax. It didn’t quite happen though but that would have been neat.

The movie starts off with Slim working the usual shift at a restaurant when some guy starts flirting with her. This guy’s clearly been desperate for a while as he keeps trying to talk to her and unfortunately Slim humors the guy. That’s when a guy called Mitch shows up and explains that the other guy made a bet that he could get with Slim. Slim’s shocked and the guy runs off. Slim then decides that Mitch must be a good guy so they quickly get married but unfortunately that isn’t the case. Mitch is an abusive cheater who just wants to do whatever he wants while keeping Slim and their daughter as a hostage. Slim manages to escape one day with some help from her friends but Mitch is in pursuit. Can Slim stay one step ahead of him or should she change course and bring the fight to him?

Right away though yo can see how the romance was a bit rushed. Slim knew nothing about Mitch except that he was someone who helped prevent her from getting into another relationship that could have been tricky. It seems like the old hero error. I forget the name of the complex but it’s where someone saves your life so you mistake your feelings of gratitude for love. This seems like that kind of scenario because Slim was ready to date this random guy but then quickly moves on to Mitch and they get married after a montage so presumably a decent amount of time has passed. The issue here is that you can’t be falling for more than one person this easily. Still, clearly it worked out for a while until Slim found out the truth.

She’s a pretty solid main character. Slim tries a whole lot of options before escaping such as visiting the cops and doing research. The tricky thing is that they aren’t really able to do much of anything for her until something actually happens. It’s a pretty big issue in general which is why these kinds of situations aren’t easy even in real life. Particularly in this case since Mitch is rich and has contacts inside of the police so there isn’t a lot that can be done. Pretty much everyone ultimately forces her into becoming a vigilante but Slim deserves credit for trying other options first.

As for her plan, it’s a pretty solid one. Slim figures she’ll break into his house without his knowing about it, and then destroy him. As the poster says, this will be in “Self-Defense.” Naturally if the jury knew about her breaking in and starting the fight then this wouldn’t hold up in court but she makes sure there is no evidence. Stacked in her favor is the fact that she planted a note saying she had accepted his invitation to come in and have a talk. To the jury this will make it look like this was a trap set up by Mitch. Additionally she’ll have testimony from quite a few people that Mitch was a little crazy and she also has the name and identity of at least one person he was fooling around with which will help establish motive.

It’s why framing in general always seems to dangerous because unless you have a Sherlock Holmes or such to crack the case then it’s hard to beat. For example, in this situation the cops have no reason to believe that self defense isn’t the case here because for one, they have no reason to suspect Slim would actually attack this guy and the fall makes the whole thing even more believable. Slim better make sure she actually removes all of the tech and such from the house though. That was the only area where I think she may have made a mistake. The film ends rather suddenly of course but she presumably still left everything inside like the phone jammer, her suitcase, lockpicking tech, etc. If the cops see this it may raise some eyebrows.

I guess we can assume she maybe moved it later or pinned it on Mitch. Either way I would say that the deck is stacked in her favor in this respect. Slim may have had some hesitation at the end and I didn’t like the fact that she pulled movie trope 101 of turning her back to Mitch mid fight to take a phone call which was almost fatal but otherwise she was a quality character. She did her best to protect her daughter and constantly keep on moving. Things were rather grim for Slim but she never gave up and now she can finally have some peace.

One of the side characters here is a guy named Joe. He’s a good friend who steps in to help Slim. I was glad that he didn’t bend to the pressure of Mitch’s hired help. I definitely recommend not opening the door when people come in claiming they have a warrant though. I mean it’s a tough decision because either way you’ll probably get beat up but you can’t trust anyone nowadays. Police uniforms can be forged and warrants can be faked so there’s no true way to know that someone’s on the level. You just have to hope that you aren’t in that situation I guess. Only thing I’d say against Joe is I think his trying to start up a romance with Slim is a little too quick. She’s in an emotionally tricky spot right now and is literally dealing with an evil husband so maybe waiting til after that is settled right?

At least he served as a good ally for her to have around. In general it was nice that Slim actually had some good friends for once. Usually in these films the heroine is all alone but this time you had the buddies from work. In particular they came in clutch early on when Mitch nearly foiled Slim’s escape attempt. Since he knows where they all live they were all taking pretty big risks of their own so now Slim can know that they’re all true friends.

One of the standout characters near the end was Slim’s father. At first he’s your average gangster father who doesn’t want anything to do with Slim but once Mitch threatens him then the guy jumps into action. I like the idea that he only helped just to stick it to the other villains. It’s one of those chaotic kind of moments that just so happens to help the heroine in this case. He may not be a hero but he definitely came in handy when it counted.

Meanwhile Mitch is definitely a bad character as you’d expect. He’s one of those villains who just operates completely on desire and doing what he wants. He is tough when he has a gun and such but otherwise that’s about it. I will say at times he looked a bit like Tom Cruise so it was a bit odd to see him as a crazy villain like this. Cruise has been a villain before but not really a crazy one. Naturally it makes the final fight pretty solid where Slim is taking him down. The film resists the urge to make this a big martial arts battle with a ton of high speed choreography out of a Mission Impossible film but I admit that would have been fun to see. Instead it’s more of a desperate fight with Slim getting to use her training. Her coach deserves a shoutout real quick because he prepared her really well for this moment.

Enough has a solid climax to be sure as things end off on a good note. The journey is also solid as Slim keeps on going from place to place and establishing new identities. Even her daughter was pretty reasonable the whole time as she tried to take things in stride. It’s definitely not easy on a kid to be running around like this. She may have gotten a bit careless with the basketball but you can blame Joe and Slim a bit on that one for letting her out of their sight even for a minute. One other character in the movie is Mitch’s ally who happens to be a cop but there’s not a whole lot to say about him. He lets Mitch threaten and push him around a lot so this isn’t exactly the toughest villain out there.

There’s one character in the film that’s a bit annoying though and that’s the attorney Slim visits. He basically blames her for not going to the cops earlier even though the film already established why that wouldn’t work and you’d think this guy would have known it. At least he let her know that the court date was a trap but she knew that as well. I thought he was going to be more helpful. I guess it was good as a twist of sorts that he wouldn’t help her out at all but you’d think he could have offered up some advice. At the end of the day Slim basically had to do everything herself including thinking up the plan to get a coach and learn how to fight. Definitely the best possible investment she could have made though.

As with some thrillers like this you may have to suspend a little disbelief with how much pull Mitch has. The guy has friends with the cops, mafia, personal security force, he can trick phone operators, etc. Slim literally travels to many different cities and he catches up to her almost immediately. The guy is clearly obsessed and insane so while I don’t think anything he does is completely impossible, at times it feels a little too fast. Right now you can use the internet to find just about anybody but if they move away it’ll still take some time to track their next position, especially with a new identity. That’s just the way it goes though.

Overall, Enough is actually a decent film. This genre can usually get a little dicey like Sleeping with the Enemy which didn’t get the highest of scores. This film allowed Slim to get out a little earlier this time though which was helpful. She didn’t have to put up with quite as much so by the same token Mitch didn’t get away with the same amount of things before her escape. Additionally Slim actually getting to physically beat him up was a nice way to close things out. It’s definitely a vigilante move but the film did show that she tried to use the official channels first so it’s hard to fault or blame her in any way for these steps. Realistically if she didn’t choose to take the attack to Mitch and finish him off then she would likely be dead. I can safely recommend this if you want to check out a pretty intense thriller. Although if I were the film creators I would have marketed this as a normal slice of life romance film because then the twists would be that much more effective. I still don’t understand why the film’s premise spoils almost the entire first 70% of the film but at least it makes it easy to review the film since I can talk about more than usual.

Overall 6/10

The Equalizer 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.

I vaguely remember seeing posters for the Equalizer back in the day but didn’t know anything about it. Seemed like just another one of those films about a guy with a gun taking people down. With Mission Impossible being the greatest version of that plot I figured this one was toast. Still, it turned out to be a pretty solid movie. It’s got a strong plot and the key part here is that Robert makes for a very solid main character. He may be equalizing things by taking villains down in a rather lethal way but most of the time he does give them an out and if the villain takes the deal then they get to keep their lives.

The movie starts off by introducing us to Robert. He has a very respectable job at a supply store that’s like Home Depot and always takes time to visit his favorite café and get an order of coffee. He likes everything to be very precise and throughout the film you see him making sure that things are neat and tidy. Another regular at the shop is Alina and the two of them always make a bit of small talk. One day Alina is badly beaten by her boss for not continuing with her job despite a client going beyond his boundaries. Alina hopes to be a singer someday so she can leave this kind of nightwork behind but wasn’t quite able to leave in time. Robert decides to get involved personally and begins to go after the Russian mafia. On the villains side they have sent a man named Teddy to take down Ralph. Now it’s a matter of who will go down first.

Robert is quite skilled at fighting and espionage. This is made pretty obvious from the start like with how he just walks into the Russian base with no difficulty whatsoever. He’s also very confident and quite sure of himself at all times. I like this demeanor, it’s always quite effective for a hero if you ask me. You don’t have time to be questioning yourself when you’re in the middle of a fight after all. Like Sherlock Holmes Robert always focuses on the situation at hand and finds the most efficient path to victory. Then he takes it and heads off to victory. He had another such impressive scene at the very end of the film. The last action scene has him tie up a few loose ends and it’s another great showing since he was so outnumbered.

At his core Robert isn’t even a guy who looks for trouble. He just doesn’t like to see any injustice and makes sure to balance the scales. It’s likely why he chose the title of Equalizer. Making things equal out is something he enjoys doing. Even at the end when he gets a final scene with Alina as closure you can see how it helped him realize that this whole journey was worth it. He probably saved quite a large number of lives by taking the villains down but in particular he saved Alina’s and that was something very tangible that he would always remember. It’s a pretty solid ending to the movie as well.

I wouldn’t call the film very upbeat or anything as it does have a lot of serious tones. There is a considerable body count and not all of the good guys get out of this one. Still, the ending is pretty upbeat and that makes for a great ending scene. Robert had a friend named Ralph who was also pretty good. He may not have been straight with Robert about what happened at the restaurant but he likely made up the story to keep Robert safe as well so at least the intentions were good. Ralph was a solid guy and he did well for himself at the end of the film and didn’t back down when things got tough.

Then you have the main villain Teddy. He’s the only one who is actually able to keep up with Robert for most of the movie. They have a lot of cat and mouse confrontations during the movie which are always fun to see. He does quite a lot of damage to the villains in his own way too though. There’s one scene where he starts a fight with them and ends up bumping off at least 4-5 to make an example out of them. It’s a pretty intense scene but since he would have been blown away without his right hand man making some clutch shots I don’t know if I can call it a good plan. The guy makes for an intense antagonist but he was never shown to be quite equal to Robert so I wouldn’t call him a big threat.

Then you have the big boss Vladimir but that guy doesn’t show up a whole lot anyway so there’s not much to say about him. he wasn’t quite ready for this. The music in the film is pretty intense and definitely works out pretty well. The effects are on point as well. Some of the action scenes can definitely get quite violent though as Robert takes them all out in rather gruesome ways. He uses whatever he has on hand after all so sometimes that doesn’t leave him any room for a clean cut.

Overall, The Equalizer is a solid film. I think part of why it succeeds is in large part due to how great Robert is as a character. In a way it’s why the sequel will have to be careful with how they follow this up. I imagine that they will want to give Robert more of a challenge next time but part of the fun here was in how easy it was for him to defeat all of the challengers. I hope that even if he doesn’t look quite as good next time, he doesn’t make any huge mistakes or anything like that. The movie also tackled some pretty dark themes without going too in depth the way some titles do for a gritty feel. It’s an intense movie but I wouldn’t call it edgy or over the top. If you want to check out a solid action film then I would recommend this one. It’s a very solid start to the series.

Overall 7/10

The Devil Doll Review


When you see a film with a name like this you think of something like Talking Tina. The title isn’t quite as literal as that would have been but is still pretty fitting when you think about it. The movie manages to balance more of a down to earth drama plot along with a supernatural thriller storyline going on. The latter can feel quite sudden when it’s first introduced but the two plots mesh pretty well together. Ultimately I would definitely give this movie a thumbs up.

The movie starts with Paul in jail. He was framed for embezzling a lot of funds as well as murdering someone. He manages to escape along with as mad scientist. The scientist is able to shrink people and animals using a serum and can then control them using his mind. Effectively the shrinking process takes away your free will so you are now someone’s puppet to be used. He dies from the stress of it all and while Paul initially decides not to carry on the work, he sings a different tune when he realizes that he can use this to get revenge on the 3 people who wronged him so long ago. It may have been 17 years but when you’re rotting in jail for that long on a false wrap you don’t forget so easily. Those 3 guys better watch out!

Meanwhile you’ve got Paul’s daughter Lorraine who believes that Paul actually was guilty and blames him for a whole lot of things. She’s been estranged from the town due to her relation to him, her mother died, and now she has to work two jobs to keep a place for her grandmother to live as well. It’s definitely not a very easy life for her but at least she has her boyfriend Toto. Thing is, she feels like she has to decline his advances due to what’s going on. Paul decides he needs to find a way to fix things but he also doesn’t want to get her in trouble so he will have to tread carefully here. He also has to be careful because he is working with a maniac by the name of Malita who was the scientist’s wife.

I was not expecting the daughter plot so when it showed up it felt a bit sudden but I’d say that it worked well. It makes for a more personal note that keeps this from just being another film about someone murdering a bunch of people. You can also feel more sympathy for Paul on both fronts. One is the fact that he was betrayed by his closest friends and had to be in jail for 17 years. The other is the fact that he sees firsthand how this has destroyed his family entirely. It’s easy to see why he wants revenge and it’s a much better motivation than most antagonists. That’s not to say that you’ll be rooting for him to destroy them all but certainly you can see why he is doing this.

He even has a fun disguise the whole time as he pretends to be an old lady. It’s a nice bit of fun the film had with that and it does help to show how he is able to infiltrate all of the homes and get by the cops. Who is going to give an old lady a hard time right? His disguise is fairly ancient so there’s no way she could be going around murdering everyone. Paul’s just a fun main character that’s for sure. Malita isn’t the most interesting main villain though. She’s basically just insane and wants to continue the research but to what end? I don’t think she even had a tangible goal for it so I wouldn’t give her a ton of credit for that.

Toto and Lorraine are nice enough though. While Lorraine’s anger is misplaced it’s not like she actually got to hear Paul’s side of things. She’s done really well to support her grandmother during all of this as well which is definitely commendable. As for Toto, he’s a pretty loyal guy who does his best. I was also glad that he didn’t panic a whole lot when Paul showed up the way that a lot of other characters do. If I were him I’d still have blown Paul’s cover at the end to Lorraine though. Would have made for a much more complete ending.

I do feel like one plot point was abandoned though. At the beginning the scientist is working on having his miniaturized people gain free will. It was the one error in his research. I felt like the film toyed around with the idea that the girl had developed free will as she had been the latest creation. The film doesn’t really go that route though which I was surprised about. It would have been interesting but with Paul being more of a nice guy at the end I suppose it could have been a little tricky to handle. That’s why at the end you would then assume that Malita is just having the two dolls dance for her own amusement by controlling them but it seems like an odd thing to do. I can see why Paul was upset too since it’s a huge unnecessary risk.

Even though turning people small is the main plot you could easily get more engaged in the family plot at times. It’s not a strike against the film though. It’s just that the writing is so good that both plots end up being quite satisfying. The movie moves very quickly with its pacing so something interesting is always going on. I definitely found the film to be very solid. The characters were good, the story was solid, so there were no weaknesses her. At the end of the day it was just a very complete adventure.

Overall, The Devil Doll is a lot better than you would suspect from the title. It’s an engaging film about revenge with Paul still taking the high road at times. When you think about it he’s a lot more lenient than most main characters would be. The film tackles quite a lot to the point where it could have been a little longer and still been quite fun. Still, the pacing was on point and even the 3 villains get a good amount of development here. You can quickly gauge their individual personalities as well. If you’re looking for an old school thriller then you should definitely check this one out. The fact that the main character isn’t some random evil guy is already a pretty fresh take on this kind of flick.

Overall 7/10

John Wick Review

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

It’s time to look at a pretty big film from back in the day. Pretty much any fan of the action genre knows about John Wick. Unfortunately you also know what comes with the territory as the plot itself is quite well known as well. The film is unable to get past the unfortunate decision to have the dog die in the beginning. It’s a cheap way to force in some tension and just doesn’t work. You absolutely can’t have the dog die like that. At least the sequels shouldn’t have the same problem unless they literally do this again.

The movie starts with John’s wife dying. She was sick for a long time and finally passed on. While dying she was able to send John a puppy so that he could have a reason to keep on going. Unfortunately a Russian mafia group shows up and murders John’s dog. He’s now decided to take revenge by murdering all of them. It’s been a while since he was in the mafia game but now he will have to return for one last ride. Fortunately for John you never really lose those skills. He’s got a lot of guns and at this point nothing else to do. He is 100% focused on his task and nothing is going to stop him.

It’s a pretty unique direction to have John Wick be so feared by the villains. They constantly refer to him as Baba Yaga which is effectively a Russian Witch. The definition they used here is a little different though and they’re just saying that he is extremely scary like a monster. The instant his name is mentioned the villains start cowering and wishing that they had messed with someone else. They were all gangster until Wick showed up. He lives up to the legend pretty well as he murders a ton of the agents after him. He definitely wasn’t playing around here and definitely did not take any prisoners. Whoever got in his way was doomed. The only time he didn’t end up finishing his opponent it came back to bite him.

I liked the hotel idea too where villains don’t go after each other. It’s a safe haven and it’s important that you obey the rules. It also shows that the owners of the hotel have a lot of power since everyone obeys this rule. The hotel itself has a great end scene and I liked the concierge the whole time. The guy was quick on his feet and just felt like a veteran. He knew what was going on and always had the answers. Part of what makes the film so different is how it relies on prior knowledge that you don’t know and doesn’t try to throw it at you via origin stories. We really don’t need John’s origin. You can piece everything together on your own without help and it’s just more fun that way.

The soundtrack is quite large for this film. There are quite a number of different themes that play during the film. Certainly a lot of battle themes to accompany the fights and rock themes to get you pumping. The themes all work and Wick himself has a theme that plays during some of his big moments. The film really knows how to score its scenes and when you mix that with the intense fight scenes there is not a dull moment in the film.

John makes for a great lead and it was good to see him go to any length to avenge his dog. It’s certainly a noble mission and the villains can’t really defend themselves for these actions. John did give the leader a chance to surrender his son for this blunder and the villain didn’t take it. John wasn’t crazy or anything, he spared those he could and just focused on taking out all of the characters who were threats. There are quite a few other supporting characters here who were fun but the best one was definitely Marcus. That guy came in clutch quite a bit. John wouldn’t have done nearly as well without him. It’s definitely a shame how he went out although that was inevitable by the end.

So there’s a lot to like here and it’s a very interesting thriller. The characters were carefully constructed and as far as revenge thrillers go this one can compete with all the rest. An indestructible main character like John is fun to follow and of course it’s always nice to see all of the villains getting taken down a few pegs. That being said, the negatives are even stronger than the positives which is why this film ultimately fell all the way down instead of managing to win out.

The obvious negative here is the dog death. It destroys the whole film particularly because of how it goes down. The film makes the scene rather brutal and what makes it even worse is that this is a puppy. The film gives us quite a few scenes with the puppy so we can grow to like him. Again, this is a very easy way to build tension and it’s a cheap shortcut. The three ways that films usually do this is by having an animal die, a person close to the lead get tortured to death, or have the wife/girlfriend get assaulted. All 3 of these ways are definitely not good ideas in the slightest and will usually doom a film’s score. The animal one in particular is hard to get around and with a dog of all choices. There’s just no way the film could recover from this. It’s a very direct negative so it may look like it’s outnumbered by the positives but the scene is not one that you will forget so easily.

John Wick is also a very violent film. It’s certainly about as violent as you’ll get with a shooter film. Characters are tortured and there are quite a few headshots that don’t shy away from showing them completely. Characters meet their end in very violent ways as well. This film is definitely trying to live out the revenge fantasy where you put yourself in the main character’s shoes and revel in what’s going on. The film definitely could stand to tone down the violence though. If you did that and change the part about the dog then this film would be in much better shape.

Overall, John Wick is a pretty engaging film. It may have lost its traction from the start with the Puppy’s death but even though the movie is misguided, a lot of effort was clearly put into it. The soundtrack alone is evidence of that and then you’ve got the strong character cast to back it up as well. It’ll be interesting to see what plot the sequels go with. Something has to get him back in on the action right? I assume the movies are going to bump more people off but just about everyone he knows is already dead. Either way I guess John won’t be getting his happy ending yet. I hope the hotel appears again though, that was a pretty interesting locale.

Overall 1/10

The Magnificent Seven Ride Review


I’ve never seen a movie series hit rock bottom quicker than this one. In general I’ve never seen such a big drop because typically if your first movie is pretty good then the sequels will at least stay in the same realm. The first film in this series was a very solid 8 so I really thought that the whole thing was safe. The second film was a drop to a 5 but the third went back up to a 6. This one literally hits rock bottom…..so lets take a look at why that is.

The movie starts off by introducing us to Chris and his new life situation. He is now married and the sheriff of a little town. Chris runs a pretty tight ship and has been doing pretty well for himself. He locks people up and ships them out to the big jails. The latest one he arrested was a guy who has been robbing stores and wasting all of the money. His wife and the guy’s mother tell Chris that it won’t happen again and so he goes against his better judgment and releases the guy. This crook promptly murders his wife and escapes town. Chris is determined to avenge her but the guy has made friends with a powerful tribe of bandits. Chris is forced to round up 6 allies once again to set things right.

His team of 7 is tied together in more of a reluctant sense this time. Most of Chris’ allies are guys he locked up personally so they all want to end his life. Chris has to keep coercing them into helping his cause by using every trick in the book. It’s a bit of a stretch at times since they could end him many different times before his plan comes together but it is what it is. It’s lucky for Chris that this is the case because otherwise taking on the villains would be difficult. The villains have no real character though so that is similar to the second film. The main villain only appears at the very end and the guy who murdered Chris’ wife at the beginning dies early on off screen as well so the villains really got the shaft here.

What really hurts the film here is how needlessly dark it is. The movie goes out of its way to be as edgy as possible without adding anything to the film. There’s quite a bit of rape here to the various supporting characters and Chris’ wife. This doesn’t add anything to the story and even if the film were to try and use that as an integral part of the film I can guarantee it would still be getting a sinking score. That’s not an element you ever need to put in a film. It just makes you wait for the ending to come that much sooner.

A huge part of the film’s focus is Chris on his mission of revenge. This is a cheap tool to get you to root for Chris to murder everyone and continue on the cycle of violence. The movie seems to forget this though because when Chris gets to the village he quickly gets a romantic subplot with one of the women there. For context, his wife just died in a very brutal way. There’s no way he should be moving on to a new girl so quickly. The plot is in terrible taste and makes no sense. It further illustrates how bad the writing was in this movie. Chris is also really quick to give up on the village before being guilt tripped into helping out. It’s even hinted he would have totally left them if not for the fact that his target got murdered anyway.

There’s not much to say about Chris’ band of followers because they’re all basically the same one note characters who all want vengeance and dislike Chris. None of them can really think of anything other than trying to murder the guy. The best one is probably the ex commander who is used to being the boss. At least he got a little character and seems to have some dignity. The others I can’t really say the same for. For added edge all of these guys were tortured a bunch in prison so their mental states aren’t as sound as they usually would be.

The movie is just filled with cringe scenes that have no awareness. One such moment is when Chris tells his members to each pick various ladies as partners for the upcoming fight. It should obviously be the other way around given what just happened in the village and all the mental scars that are still in place. You just don’t know what the film is thinking half the time. All of these choices just make you scratch your head and it’s why the film is no fun to watch. There’s never a sense of joy or adventure like you had in the previous films.

That’s why the soundtrack is so odd. As always the movie chooses to keep on re-using the same happy hero theme constantly. In the older films it at least made sense sometimes because the films were generally upbeat. This one is never upbeat yet you have the happy theme showing up constantly. After Chris shoots two of the accomplices and heads back out on the trail the theme plays but we just got through some of the darkest scenes in the film so there is nothing to cheer about. It’s like the sound director just made sure to put the music on every time the heroes are travelling on horseback without looking at the context for why they are travelling. The whole movie feels like it was just slapped together.

Overall, The Magnificent Seven Ride is a terrible film and one that tries to destroy the series’ reputation with how bad this one is. There’s no redeemable qualities about the movie. The characters are all pretty unlikable and the movie is just very mean spirited throughout. There should always be a fine line between trying to make a dark film and one that is simply edgy. You can be serious without crossing the line and this film was not able to handle that nuance. It jumps straight from 0-10 and so it sunk all the way to the bottom. I highly recommend staying far away from this film and if anything maybe you should just stick to the original film. It was easily the best one in the series.

Overall 0/10

White Lightning Review


It’s time to look at one of those old films where you wonder who to root for because everyone is pretty corrupt. As you can expect this one wasn’t exactly a winner for me. It’s not an abysmal film or anything like that, but at the same time there isn’t much to it. It’s a pretty simple plot, but no part of it is really well executed. As a result you’ll find yourself feeling like something is missing.

The film starts off with two teens being murdered by the sheriff and some loyal minions. We then cut away to the main character, Gator. He’s currently doing hard time for distributing illegal drinks. Gator then learns that his brother is one of the teens who was murdered so he makes a deal with the cops. He gets to leave jail early but in exchange he’ll find some evidence on the corrupt sheriff so the cops can take him away. The cops like this deal and set him loose. While this mission should be easy, Gator starts to sympathize with the crooks and now he isn’t sure if he should put them away. Still, he’ll take down the Sheriff!

Gator is a really bad main character. Now, you can certainly understand why he wants to get revenge on the sheriff. That’s pretty reasonable, but Gator decides to go about doing this in the worst ways possible. For starters when he gets into town one of the first things he does is to confront the sheriff passive aggressively. By this, I mean that he drives up to the guy and just stares at him. Part of the point of this ordeal is to make his co-driver sweat it out since Gator is basically blackmailing him at this point and the sheriff could shoot them all on sight. What did this act accomplish though? All it did was put Gator on the guy’s and if not for his plot shield that would be it for Gator.

Gator does a lot of nonsensical things like this throughout the film. Then when you thought things couldn’t get worse he decides to cheat on one of the crooks with the guy’s girl. Again….why would he do that? Clearly Gator doesn’t respect the other guy at all. It’s an excuse for some quick romance which ultimately doesn’t add anything to the movie. Beyond Gator, the rest of the characters are all crooks so there are no other heroes. Even the cops who show up from time to time to blow Gator’s cover seem like bad apples. They come in with an attitude and then storm off when Gator talks to them. Nobody’s reasonable here.

Of course Connors (The sheriff) is your average bad guy so he just likes walking around and terrorizing everyone. Some senior citizens try to play dumb when he shows up and he doesn’t spare any mercy for them either. You’re either with Connors or you’re against him. It’s definitely interesting how the cops can’t do anything about him though. The guy doesn’t seem like he covers his tracks all that well and the whole town is pretty up front with their illegal activities. I think if the cops had tried a little harder they should have been able to crack this case without Gator.

There aren’t any nice visuals to distract you with either as the film takes place in an old town. Everything’s pretty grungy so you certainly won’t be seeing any technology running around. The film’s supposed to keep you engaged with Gator’s quest for evidence, but this doesn’t work either since the main character doesn’t want to find any evidence. He just wants to take Connors down for the count and I doubt that arresting him was ever really part of the goal. He’s just lucky that everyone kept on sparing him the whole time instead of shooting on sight. His final plan takes forever and a day to finally get started.

The final car chase is good at least though. We get to see the characters put the pedal to the mettle as they chase each other around for a while. You can probably guess how the chase will end, but it’s still an action scene at last. Before that we do get a full action scenes and even a fight, but this was the car chase that we needed. It’s not enough to save the film of course, but at least this way we don’t have to end on a sour note.

It’s a shame that the cops ignored the town because it seems like it was definitely pretty rough for everyone in it. They probably should have moved away, but of course that is never possible for everyone. At first you think that Connors and his gang are at least nice rulers to those who follow the rules, but based on how they act later on it seems like they also just like to terrorize people for kicks. They get away with a whole lot and even by the end of the film you wonder how much has really changed. Even without the head honcho we know that a bunch of other people were also corrupt so hopefully those guys were taken down too.

Overall, White Lightning is definitely a film where I’d recommend skipping it. The character cast is weak and the film does tend to drag on a bit. Not having a good main character definitely hurt this movie right from the start and it only gets weaker from there. Even the teens who died at the beginning don’t sound like they were all that smart. When you live in a town controlled by the villains it probably isn’t the best time to exercise your right to free speech. If you want to watch a grim tale of tragedy and revenge then this is the one for you. If you want a movie with a better main character then check out the original Mission Impossible instead.

Overall 3/10