The Bedford Incident Review

We’ve definitely got a real fun film with this one. When you’ve got all of the characters stuck on a boat for the duration of the film you definitely have to have good writing and a solid plot in order to keep things going. Fortunately this movie pulls that off without a hitch and so you’ll be having a good time here from start to finish.

The movie starts with Ben and Chester being brought to a navy ship to work under a rather controversial captain known as Eric. Eric’s fairly good at his job but the issue is that he tends to be rather obsessive. He can go too far in his duties to protect the ship and as a result he has not gotten a promotion despite having all kinds of medals and accomplishments. Ben is a reporter and so naturally he is curious about this while Chester is just trying to do his best as the ship doctor. Both of them don’t yet realize that this post will be tougher than they expect.

Right off the gate I do like how this film handles itself in terms of making the ship adventure fun. The limited amount of backgrounds and scenery are hidden by all the different camera angles and dynamic action taking place. You don’t have much time to feel like the characters are constrained because there is always something going on. There is never a chance to be bored or feel like the plot has slowed down.

I would say a lot of the credit to that goes to the Captain. Eric is a perfect antagonist, he’s not a villain or anything as he tries to do his job but antagonist is his role as the guy keeps getting in the way of the two main characters. He’s very set in his ways and is resistant to change. The guy gets extremely defensive for any kind of questions and really wants to be acknowledged as the master of the boat. All decisions go through him and that’s final. He pushes his men to the breaking point and resists all of Chester’s ideas for health and safety.

Eric seems to believe that any kind of healthy eating regime or exercise program would weaken his troops. That it would take their focus off of the mission and so he doesn’t support this. He wants them all to live and breathe the mission. After many years at sea with the crew, it’s fair to say that Eric has drilled this mentality into most of them. He’s borderline crazy but I just like the intensity that he brings to every scene. Eric knows that he’s right and everyone else is wrong. He never loses that mindset.

Meanwhile Ben does really well in his role as reporter. He starts things off by being amiable and working with Eric but as the captain starts to show him some disrespect, Ben quickly responds in kind. It’s clear that he’s not someone who will just let himself be pushed around. When he finally does get his big interview with Eric, Ben is quite direct with his questions. He knows that Eric has certain viewpoints on the government’s handling of the situation and works on backing him into a corner in order to get the guy to confirm this.

At the end Ben also stays in control much longer than the rest of the characters. Then you’ve got Chester who seems by all accounts to be a good doctor. He has some baggage in his past but there’s no indication that he has gotten worse at his job or is slacking off. His ideas are good but Eric completely ignores all of them. There just isn’t much Chester can do at that point since he has to go through the captain. He also ends up backing down when confronted which really sealed his chances of winning there. The only shot for him to have earned Eric’s respect would have been to stand his ground since the captain values toughness above all. It just wasn’t to be though.

The character roster is fairly small as these 3 are the main characters by far but then you’ve got two other supporting characters. First is Ensign who is a new recruit that means well but Eric is always really tough on him. Eric’s co-captain/friend tries to get the guy to lay off of him but it doesn’t work. Ultimately Ensign doesn’t let it get to him or at least tries to keep a tough front in spite of it. Then you have Wolfgang who is sort of an expert at giving us a view into what the enemy might be thinking.

That’s his role at least but I have major doubts on how good he is at it. I didn’t really think he helped a whole lot but at least he tried to tell Eric to back off. He was instigating the captain for most of the film though so I’d say it was too little too late by that point. Better late than never though.

The ending to this movie is really great though. For a little while you’re wondering if the film would actually go through with such a bold way of ending things but it does and I’d say that was a good thing. It may not be the happiest ending around but it does make the most sense based on how things were progressing. There was a lot of foreshadowing and given how Eric treats his men and the ship, it was all leading to this. Whether it happened now or later on, it was only a matter of time for an ending like this to take effect.

I’d say the film really reminds you of what a tough job it is to be in the navy as well. Either you’re a rank and file soldier who just has to keep following orders even if it sounds crazy or you’re a general that is still limited by the orders from above. The main difference is that you do have some power though and have to take responsibility for the result. No matter how you slice it, it’s just tough and you don’t exactly get a whole lot of time off here. These guys were stuck in the sea for long periods of time.

Overall, The Bedford Incident is a strong film that is carried by quality characters and really good writing. You’ll be very engaged the whole time because the movie is just really well made. You’re always at the edge of your seat wondering if Eric is right in pursuing a foreign ship so hard or if he really is crazy and taking everyone to their doom. Hindsight will be very powerful in this situation but what you do in the moment is most critical. I’d definitely recommend this flim to anyone that wants to watch a film about a lot of characters in a tense situation with no way out.

Overall 7/10

No Way Out Review

Time for a film from a very long time ago. The title No Way Out has apparently been used quite a few times before and I can see why since it’s one of those titles where you can do a lot with it. I can see a bunch of them being literal but in this case I’d say it’s being more metaphorical like there’s no way out of the system.

The film starts by introducing us to Dr. Luther who has been gradually rising up the ranks in the medical profession. He technically has enough experience to be a doctor on his own by now but wants to stay under his mentor Dan for a while more. In part it’s because he still lacks confidence but it’s also in part because he has doubts that people will actually accept him. Discrimination was quite large there and Luther had to deal with it every day. His boss Dan helped to shield him from this to an extent but going off on his own could be difficult.

Well, his stay won’t be easy either as two criminals are brought in after getting shot. Luther tries to save one of them but the operation doesn’t go well and he ends up dying. The guy’s brother Ray believes that Luther did this on purpose and now has made it his life’s mission to destroy Luther. He’ll use every resource at his disposal from other family members to the entire gang at large. Luther will have to be very careful now as doom is around every corner.

A lot of the film is really about Luther trying to convince Ray that he didn’t murder the guy and the operation was correct. Unfortunately his boss Dan isn’t even fully convinced that the operation was needed which shakes Luther. For the record, Dan does still defend Luther and has his back the whole time but Luther wants to be sure even if it starts to put a strain on all of his relationships and even puts him in more danger. He even takes a gamble on being arrested to get the test to be done.

He’s definitely a solid lead who really wants to be a great doctor. I think this is a cautionary tale on why you sometimes have to know when to stop in trying to seek validation. As long as you know you did the right thing then you don’t need to worry about what the crazy bad guy is saying. Luther keeps his cool for the most part but that random moment where he went crazy at night and even turned on Dan was a bit much. Dan was in his corner for the duration of the movie without ever looking back.

Dan took no small risk in defending Luther at every opportunity. Whether it was behind closed doors in talking with his boss or at the front lines with the patients, Dan was always doing his best to help Luther out. He was just a great guy so that was the only scene that hurt Luther a bit. Not enough to stop him from being a good character or anything but it was disappointing.

As for the villain Ray, well he’s introduced as being an awful character right from the jump. His entire gimmick is that he’s super racist all the time and so from the start you’re not sure if he actually believes any of what he’s saying about Luther. Personally I think he’s just crazy enough where he might but of course that’s not really any kind of consolation. It just means that he is super delusional but as one of the big characters that unfortunately means he is going to be around a lot.

It’s mainly due to Ray that the ending isn’t very satisfying at all. I get the idea behind it and all but to me it’s just over the edge where I wouldn’t be trying all that hard to help out. I don’t think you have to finish the villain off or anything but you don’t have to do much of anything to help out either. It’s an admirable move by Luther so I don’t fault him for it but I would have handled the ending way differently.

There’s a bit of a subplot with Edie who gets roped into this and gets tricked by Ray into visiting the old gang and getting stuck there. I didn’t see much of a point to her character because ultimately she is not able to help Luther out by convincing Ray to let them dissect the body, nor is she able to do anything in stopping the gang. So it felt like there was no real contribution that she was able to make to the plot. She was sort of just around and I guess at least by the end she seemed to finally be free of the gang once and for all.

This is one film where the whole climax only happens because everyone suddenly forgets how to deal with prisoners though. So keep in mind that the cops are watching over a guy with serious gang ties who was in a shootout and has made it very clear that he wants to destroy Luther. The cop has himself handcuffed to the prisoner…why? It’s way more efficient to tie up both of the guy’s arms with the handcuffs. I don’t care that his leg wasn’t feeling so good, just cuff him normally. Well, the cop allows Ray to call in a friend and then stays behind as everyone else leaves the room. Now you just have the one guard with Ray and this “friend.”

Naturally the guard gets bumped off and Ray escapes but the whole situation felt incredibly contrived. Cmon now, you can’t convince me that the police would be this naive here. I was shaking my head as this all went down because it made no sense. Maybe you could try to convince me that this could happen if he was a nonviolent criminal or something but he was arrested as a fairly dangerous target from the jump. There should have been way more precautions.

One thing I did like though was how for once everyone didn’t just wait until the mob showed up to take everyone down. Instead the mob was jumped as the neighborhood they had been terrorizing for so long decided to get together and get the jump on them. I thought that was a nice change of pace because I was really not expecting that. It was great to see in part because of how unexpected it was but also because you have to defend yourself. At this point it was clear that the cops weren’t going to make it in time and nobody else was going to help so they had to make a move.

Overall, No Way Out is a very tense film to be sure. It does a good job of always maintaining that dangerous atmosphere where you don’t know how Luther’s going to get out of this one in one piece. The writing can also be solid but at the end of the day Ray is really annoying as the villain. The plot with Edie was also a big waste. She was around the gangsters before so she should have known better than to get involved again. There were so many ways to get around the situation or to handle it better and I’m skeptical that she would have gotten herself into so much trouble like this. Throw in the moment with Ray getting free and there were just too many moments like that. Ultimately I wouldn’t say the film is strong enough to hold its own with a lot of the classic titles and it’s not all that fun for a lot of its run. Without a satisfying ending to cap things off, I wouldn’t recommend this title.

Overall 4/10

A Raisin in the Sun Review

A Raisin in the Sun is a film that decides to bet everything on its writing. The entire film is structured around a few characters having a lot of disagreements with each others. Tensions grow pretty high the whole time. I’ve seen a few other films with this style but they have consistently failed in the past. Usually the issue being that throughout the arguments all of the characters will expose themselves as just being awful people so you can’t root for them anymore. Where this film succeeds is in keeping each character likable no matter how tough things get which is important.

The film starts off by introducing us to Walter. You could argue he is the main character since he is the only character who gets scenes by himself without the other characters. It’s close though since all of the characters get pretty big roles. He wants to open up a liquor store. Right now he is not satisfied with his current job or living conditions where his family is always low on money. Well, his mother is about to receive a check for $10,000 for life insurance from her husband. Walter believes that she should give him the check to put into the store. She isn’t keen on doing this though because she believes opening up a store like that would be luring people over into drinking a lot of wine and becoming alcoholics. Walter’s wife Ruth doesn’t think this is a good idea but Walter puts a lot of pressure on her to be on his side.

Ruth’s sister Beneatha meanwhile just wants to find someone she can marry and also enjoys getting involved in a lot of hobbies even if she ultimately tends to ditch them pretty quickly. One of her goals is to attend medical school which will be expensive so she hopes Lena may help contribute to that. Then you have the Mom Lena who wants to do what’s best for the family but at this point it’s clear that there is no way to make everyone happy. What can she do to ensure the family doesn’t go off on the wrong path?

From the main characters the weakest one would have to be Beneatha. Mainly I’d say the issue here isn’t so much that she wants to try out a lot of hobbies but that she is aware of how broke the family is right now. In light of this, she has to realize that buying so much expensive equipment all the time is a bit of a burden there. She definitely has the biggest personality of the group though as she always makes her thoughts known. Aside from Lena, I would say Beneatha is the most straight forward with everyone as she speaks her mind. That’s a good quality.

In comparison I’d say Walter’s not as good at that. Several times when he’s making his case about the liquor store you feel like he could make a better case for why he wants it. He clearly knows why he needs the store but a lot of the time he isn’t really able to explain why that is. In his head it’s because he has already explained it a ton of times but that should be good practice. He tends to give up more than the other characters and is quicker to compromise on his morals. While you can understand this in large part, I do think his final mistake in the film is pretty inexcusable. Once you’ve made a promise and are given a lot of responsibility you can’t just throw it all away like that. He wasn’t really able to recover after that and he had already been on shaky ground with his reaction to Ruth’s baby.

As for Ruth, she’s a very solid character. She does her best to make ends meet and works as hard as she can. She doesn’t want Lena to have to do everything for them so Ruth tries to be as pro active as possible. She’s patient with Walter as well and may have the biggest workload here. She’s also able to talk civilly with everyone and doesn’t get drunk so she stays mature throughout. The best character though is Lena. She is always ready to offer the correct advice and has always lived her life in a way where she can keep her head high with dignity.

Lena probably has a lot of the more emotional scenes here as she watches her household effective start to get torn down with the decisions they are making. She was clearly disappointed on many occasions. The film does end on a high note after all of the trials at least but it was definitely a tough road for all of them. The movie did a good job of adding a new obstacle to the family every time they would get past one. It’s good because it also keeps the conversations fresh and there is also some pretty good set up here.

For example, from the start we know that Walter wants the money but the check doesn’t actually arrive for a while. Even after that you have to wait until Walter arrives for the big confrontation. So the plot is pretty dynamic and the story is constantly adapting for the new challenges. You could easily make a sequel for their experiences in the next home but at the same time without one you can at least hope that things finally went smoothly for them and they didn’t have to worry about any extra drama this time around. It’ll be good if they can finally relax here.

Overall, A Raisin in the Sun is a solid movie. The dialogue is pretty strong all the way through. The movie may only really have the one main backdrop of being in the house but the characters are all written well so this doesn’t feel like an issue. Lena is definitely the standout character here. When Beneatha tries the whole “God is dead” argument Lena quickly shuts that down and establishes the ground rules that this won’t be allowed in the house. She consistently pushes the characters to make the right choices and without her they definitely wouldn’t have made it through this experience. If you’re up for a good drama as the characters discuss how the family should move forward then this is a good one to check out.

Overall 6/10

To Sir, with Love

Time to continue the films with an education battle this time around. Students definitely love to give teachers a hard time and in this film that’s the entire premise so you can bet that they aren’t going to go easy. It’s always nice to hear the British accents in a film because they’re just fun. It’s part of why Dragon’s Den tends to be pretty fun. This is a solid all around film that has a pretty satisfying ending.

The film starts with Mark getting hired as a teacher. This is a pretty tricky school though that’s not in the best neighborhood so a lot of the students have their own share of personal issues to deal with. As a result school has become more like a game of rebellion where they can cut loose and do whatever they want. The other teachers don’t exactly want to be here either so that leads to a bit of an endless cycle as you might expect. Well, Mark is determined to crush this cycle once and for all before leaving for another job but will he be able to stick around?

Right away the film does a nice job of showing the defeated atmosphere among the teachers. The very first teacher he meets is a very sarcastic guy who doesn’t even bother trying anymore. The children broke him so now he just slacks off and watches the days go by. He made for a pretty fun supporting character though with how consistently negative the guy was. He definitely wasn’t about to change his tune, not anytime soon that’s for sure.

The other teachers are a lot more reasonable of course. From them, the teacher with the biggest role is definitely Gillian. She’s also pretty new at this and does her best to support Mark when he’s trying to surpass the system. She was quick to volunteer to go to the museum so his project would pan out. Definitely a solid ally to have around the whole time. The principal was a lot less helpful since he gave up immediately despite not helping out at all. That’s just how it goes I suppose.

Mark makes for a solid lead because he’s pretty careful and puts up with a whole lot without cracking. He does a good job of engaging the students and always trying to stay a few steps ahead. I also think it made sense that he kept applying to jobs the whole time as well. No sense in boxing yourself in when there are other options at the ready right? In the meantime he didn’t give up though and just kept on going. He’s the kind of teacher you would probably want to have in school since he is sure to make the topics interesting. His down to Earth approach was quite solid.

School tends to have a lot of different kinds of teachers. Fortunately nowadays you’re more likely to find relatively relaxed ones but it’s still anyone’s guess at the end of the day. As for the students, you would hope that they wouldn’t be quite this tough. Most of them become quite receptive to the lessons though aside from Bert. The way his plot ends out was pretty solid though. Sometimes the quickest way to an understanding there is with a quick spar and Mark was able to get his point across without seriously getting involved in the fight. That definitely could have easily gone sideways but he handled it well.

The other student to have a big role here was Pamela. She’s one of the only kids to give the lead a fair shake pretty quickly in part because she hadn’t been around a whole lot of respectable people. Her home situation was rather difficult and most of the kids were being pretty sketchy at ties so he served as a role model. The film does a good job of giving all of the students a presence though. They all get a lot of dialogue and while you may not recall all of their names by the end, it was a memorable class of students.

One of the most important things a film like this has to have is strong writing. You can’t have a solid drama containing a battle of wits without it. Both the teacher and students are given a suitable amount of respect here and the back and forth is handled well. You’ll be kept engaged the whole time. The story moves pretty well and the film never drags on. It’s a very tight story after all without much room for fluff. All of the scenes are pretty important. There was one subplot with Pamela that I’m glad remained just a vague subplot as that could have definitely been some extra drama that we didn’t need. The film remains rather upbeat throughout though and knew how to add in tension without going overboard.

Overall, To Sir, with Love is a good movie. It’s aged pretty well with a solid cast to hold it up. The dialogue is good and it doesn’t drag so there’s nothing really negative to say about it. The film also avoids the typical rushed romance here by hinting at one but not actually doing anything with it. A romance just wouldn’t have made sense with how much was going on and how short the timeframe here was. So it was the correct decision and the movie was better off for it. The ending also leaves room for a sequel and apparently it did get one so it’ll be interesting to see how things go on there. This is the kind of plot that you can do over and over again but I imagine it’ll be tougher and tougher to execute each time. Either you try to make the kids double trouble this time and go too far in making them edgy or you have everything go too well and people wonder what the point is. Well, sequels have a lot of pressure but of course if it works out well then that’ll be good.

Edge of the City Review

When you think of the Edge of the City odds are that you’re thinking of either IHop in uptown Manhattan or the Domino’s at West 4th street if you’re in NYC. Those two places seem to be around the edges of each direction before you feel like you’re not in the city anymore. Well, in this film we have a warehouse near the water so you feel like you’re on the edge. Most of the film is rather good but the ending is definitely one of those film crushers. It really takes away from the feeling of accomplishment that you had in the film up to that point and it just felt unnecessary. There’s no way back at that point.

The movie starts with Axel arriving in town and needing a job. He uses an old connection to force his way in but now works for the corrupt Charlie. Charlie doesn’t treat any of his workers well and bullies Axel quite a bit since he has quite a lot of leverage there. He’s also racist towards Tommy but doesn’t have as much leeway there since Tommy is also one of the bosses in the company and doesn’t put up with anything like that. Tommy befriends Axel and convinces him to shift departments. They have a good working relationship and things are going well but Axel’s past is slowly catching up to him. Can Axel stay afloat or will it be time to flee?

From the start it’s clear that Axel is hiding a lot of secrets and those never stay buried for long. It’s a shame because due to this everyone seems to have leverage over him. In particular Charlie uses this to his advantage as he first takes money away from each of Axel’s paychecks and then only escalates his behavior from there. It’s why they say once you start running you will never stop. My main issue with Axel is how secretive he is about all of this until it’s too late. I think he could have at least told Tommy his story a little sooner instead of breaking it up into chunks over and over again until he could finally piece the whole thing together.

Axel acts tough but is never able to keep his cool. His empty calls to his parents were also a bit annoying after a while. Calling without saying anything doesn’t help either party. They were a lot more understanding about the situation than he had been giving them credit for as well. Still, the biggest slight to Axel’s character is how he handles the ending. That’s the part that really gets him. To go any further with that would be a spoiler so I’ll have to leave it at this. He is given multiple opportunities to ensure that justice is dealt and each time he decides instead to stay quiet and to flee. He absolutely should have fought hard to break through the people holding him back since this was all on him. Even after that though, he absolutely shouldn’t have just sat there and did nothing. When things got tough Axel didn’t step up and that’s a big shame.

Meanwhile Tommy is a good character. He adds a lot of good humor to the film and is also the voice of reason. He does his best to keep pushing Axel in the fight direction. Nothing gets him down and he is always determined to have a good time. He breaks up a whole lot of fights in the film so the situation would have definitely escalated a lot more without him there to oversee things. He’s easily the best character in the film. Meanwhile his wife Lucy is also a very solid character. They’ve got a good dynamic going. The other heroine gets less of a role. She seems decent but the romance with Axel seems rather fast and forced. Particularly since he does little to actually try and further the romance without a lot of prodding from his friends.

Charlie is the main villain of the film and he makes sure to remind you of this in pretty much every scene. He plays the part rather well as the guy clearly has something over just about everyone on the force. It’s why he can get away with so much since he can expose anyone who gets in his way. It makes you see why it would be so hard for one of the characters to rebel against him. After all, if you cross him then you’ll find yourself out of a job real quick. Still no excuse for Axel’s actions but you can see why nobody else would step up.

The writing is good and the movie does a solid job of balancing out the serious tone with more light hearted moments. Most of the film you could say is rather upbeat but at the same time you know things are going to take a turn. That feeling of dread is why I wouldn’t call this a cheerful film outright. It’s like watching Resident Evil or something. Even if there are a bunch of happy moments at some points like that scene in the town, you know that it won’t last so was it really a happy scene through and through? At the very least Axel and Tommy had a lot of great scenes.

The ending is one of the most important parts of a film though and this movie just couldn’t stick the landing. The last event just feels unnecessary. It would work better in an action blockbuster kind of film because with a lot of battles and going up against big enemies it’s reasonable for this to happen. For a more down to life film like this it’s just pretty tragic. It’s not like this is a movie where you would expect a sequel so there’s no reason to end it like this. What should be a triumphant film at the end just feels like it’s too little too late.

Overall, Edge of the City is a film that I would have recommended for most of its run but after that ending I would have to give it a thumbs down in the end. It’s just not the way you want to end a film like this. Switch the ending and the film instantly rebounds but as it stands you don’t feel like the heroes really got a proper win here. I’d suggest checking out a different film instead like To Sir, with Love which has a more wholesome ending or A Raisin in the Sun. Both of those films are complete titles that do have endings which hold up well.

Overall 4/10