Morbius Review

Morbius is one of those films that seemed doomed on arrival. Nobody really cared all that much about the character so why would a whole film about him do good? It’s also vampire themed which was tapped out decades ago. The only thing that put this film on the map were the memes and unfortunately it’s safe to say that the memes are better than the actual film. I wanted to hear someone yell “It’s morbin time!” in the film at least once. Ah well, at least the second after credits scene is hilarious and one of the funniest ones you’ll ever see. It’s a serious scene that is funnier than most of the humor based ones so the film has that going for it.

The movie starts by introducing us to Morbius and his friend Milo who were both born with a very rare blood disease. They can barely even walk and their bodies will continue to deteriorate until they die very young. They also have nonstop pain that hits them during every waking moment so their lives are quite tough. Morbius is determined to develop a cure though. Many years pass and Morbius is really close but the only solution appears to be involving bats and he will have to break a lot of laws to pull this off. Morbius succeeds but at a heavy cost. He is now a vampire and must drink blood in order to survive. Fake blood also won’t suffice for very long so soon he will need to feed on humans. Can Morbius resist the urge and find a cure for the cure or is he doomed? One thing’s for sure, he has no catchphrase to fall back on and save his life.

Lets talk about some of the stuff that doesn’t work here. Right off the bat you can bet that the blood stuff is a non starter here. You always have Morbius drinking blood and everything because that’s how he is able to exist. We don’t really see the blood but it’s nevertheless quite gross to see him drinking out of the bags and always gagging afterwards. Blood is just not a good drink to have at the ready and it’s a disadvantage of the vampire genre.

Then you also have this really awful song/dance sequence for Milo. Oh man it could have at least been semi decent if the song wasn’t so bad but it was one of the worst songs I’ve seen in a film in quite a while. The film couldn’t afford to have a scene like that because it was already skating on thin ice. I also just didn’t like Milo in this film. The guy gets too emotional too quickly and never thinks anything through rationally. He’s the kind of guy who seems okay for a minute there but very quickly you realize that any amount of power would quickly corrupt him. This guy is not hero material.

As for Morbius, the guy was running experiments on animals which is a really rough way to start his character arc. Experimenting on animals is never okay and so that’s an easy way to get me not to root for the character. He’s also just not my kind of lead for the most part as he lacks confidence and isn’t ready to just get in there and start landing hits. There are some brief moments where he gets real confidence and starts to be a real main character but those moments rarely last. At least based on the after credits scene he is finally back to being a confident leader so if they stick with that for any sequels then that will be an improvement.

The real standout character here was actually Al. So in a subplot that doesn’t go anywhere you have these two cops, Simon and Al. They are basically following Morbius around and trying to get to the bottom of the situation. What I liked about Al a lot was how he was able to quickly see through everyone’s lies. For one reason or another everyone he talked to would always lie to his face. So Al tends to give sarcastic remarks back to let them know that he knew they were lying and t was a nice dynamic. I was glad that he didn’t just play dumb there. This guy was quick on the uptake and I think giving him more scenes would have been nice.

Then you have the serious member Simon. He gets a quick chase scene with Morbius and holds him at gun point so this guy is very impressive. I really think the cops had a solid dynamic so it’s a shame that they couldn’t have done more. As it is, you could cut them out of the film and nothing would really change. They may give some set up for a sequel film but at the end of the day that doesn’t have much baring on this one.

The main heroine here is Martine and she’s a solid character. You just wish the film didn’t have to throw her into a romance right away. It doesn’t add anything to the film and the romance is just so weak. You don’t see why this started at all because they had a good working relationship going and you don’t want to wreck that by having both characters start getting emotional. It’s always best to keep it professional and that would have been a good idea. At least this way Morbius has an extra loyal ally at all times. Martine does well in staying strong under pressure.

Finally you have Emil who was the mentor type figure in the film which means that the death flags around him were absolutely massive. It’s very rare for the character to not get absolutely wrecked in a film like this. At least he talks tough and seems to be in the know. There’s not a whole lot he could have really done differently here.

One positive thing I can say about the film is that the effects are really good. Personally I liked the energy trails that Morbius would leave behind him during fights. The action scenes really hold up quite well. Morbius is also surprisingly powerful so he would definitely be able to hold his own against other Marvel heroes. His only weakness would be the time limit without drinking blood so he’ll need to find a fix for that. So at least the movie does have a little glimmer of hope there.

The sequel just needs to focus more on the action and less on the vampire elements. It also needs a fresh villain here, someone with a different power set so you can have more imaginative battles. I would have my hopes quite low for a sequel but I am sure that you can still pull it off with the proper writers and a good story. You don’t even need to rely on guest stars although they certainly would not hurt.

Also, one of the main conflicts here felt a little forced in how it happens. It reminded me a lot of the Amazing Spider-Man 2. So keep in mind that with this condition you are constantly in a lot of pain and so if there’s a way to end that pain then you’re most likely going to take it. I felt like Morbius had 0 empathy at this point and handled the situation in the worst way possible. At least offer some hope about a real cure coming soon but otherwise it does appear to everyone like Morbius was thinking “I got mine!” and leaving it at that.

It doesn’t excuse the villain from going crazy immediately but you can definitely see how it happened. The whole situation may not have been avoidable but it’s hard to say and would definitely have gone differently at the very least otherwise. It’s not that hard to have at least been a little tactful but of course that’s not Morbius’ strength.

The film doesn’t really have many fun scenes either. Like you’re never laughing except for after the credits and most of the film is just rather dreary. I would say the premise was fine but the execution was just bad. Still, if you do watch the film then stick around for the after credits scenes. I actually liked both of them which is rare since when you have two, usually one of them will be sub par as a result. Fortunately that was not the case this time.

Overall, Morbius is basically as bad as everyone said it was. The film just didn’t even feel like it was trying. The vampire stuff is pretty bad but even the normal scenes tend to be okay at best. I liked Morbius beating up some thugs and stealing their base but for every scene like that you have 5 lab scenes of him either drinking blood or getting hit with needles. The movie needed a completely different approach. Ironically the memes actually laid the groundwork for this so the sequel should embrace them and then the film could be good. Perhaps it would feel a bit like pandering but if executed right then we’d really be in business.

Overall 3/10

Skyscraper Review

Skyscraper is a film that didn’t get a ton of hype after it was released. It just seemed to be forgotten by the wayside right away. Still, the trailers looked like fun and I would say that the movie delivers on the premise. It may not be doing anything super original but it’s what I would call a very safe action film. You know what you’re going to get. There aren’t any big twists and turns here, just a lot of big action stunts and some fight scenes. You can’t go wrong with this title and any action fan will have a good time here.

The movie starts off with Will taking a big injury which forces him to retire from the hostage squad. Fortunately he has a good gig as a security consultant now and was even invited over to check on the largest building in the world. His wife Sarah and their two kids are allowed to live in the building in the meantime as it’s otherwise empty for the moment. It’s all looking good until a bunch of terrorists light the building on fire and race to the top. They want to grab some kind of device that Zhao has, so the CEO locks himself in the penthouse suite. Will has 3 objectives now, he needs to rescue his family, stop the terrorists, and recover the device. If he is unsuccessful then the world could be in grave danger.

To try and give the villains a fighting chance for a change, Will lost his leg a while back so he has to use a prosthetic in order to move around normally. While the intent may have been to nerf his abilities a bit, I wouldn’t say that the film did a great job here since it doesn’t really seem to slow him down at all. If anything it comes in handy for things like stopping doors from closing or being used as a blunt object. Suffice to say, there are no fighters here who can take Will on. At best they can buy some time for themselves by taking hostages as otherwise Will would just take them out in an instant.

Will’s a solid main character. He’s your classic family man just trying to do a good job and keep it moving. The guy’s previous history of combat experience is comically long which I think the film was having some fun with as the detective reads off his profile. I can definitely see how you could do more sequels to this film if you really wanted to since Will is a jack of all trades here. Regardless, there’s nothing bad to say about him.

Will’s wife Sarah also does well when it counts. She is able to use some self defense against one of the villains when he attacks and she is able to generally take control of the situation rather well. Knowing the basics of combat really goes a long way. The two kids mainly just get in the way. It’s mostly unavoidable I suppose since they’re just kids but they won’t be winning any awards here. Without them the adventure would have been a lot easier for the heroes.

Now as the film goes on we also get to see the outside world reacting to this a bit including Inspector Wu. He does his best to get a handle on things but he is really ineffective here. It doesn’t help that his sidekick is super determined to prove that this was an inside job despite all evidence to the contrary. I thought she was incredibly unreasonable the whole time. In other movies there are instances where the skeptic is reasonable but this isn’t one of them. For example, you know all the classic films where a character is stabbed so they immediately say that they can’t be guilty since no person would stab himself?

I always call foul on that because a good villain would absolutely do that. This film though makes that more unreasonable, you have Will’s family being held hostage and the guy is jumping across buildings and performing all kinds of big acrobatic stunts. There is also a lot of visible evidence that people have entered the facility. It just seems like a reach to keep pinning this on Will and Wu takes some blame for just allowing it to happen and not saying much.

The film’s villains are more on the forgettable side though. First up we have Ben who is the most petty one of the group. He whines a lot about how the world is unfair as his justification for what he is doing and lets just say that I wasn’t shedding any tears over here. The main villain is Botha and at least he’s tough. There’s just not much to say about him beyond the fact that his skills are quite impressive. At least he is actually able to give Will a fight which is always important. Then there’s his right hand woman Xia who is fairly tough and down to business.

The villains aren’t bad, they just don’t stand out. There isn’t much more to them beyond their desires for money and destruction. You won’t remember much about them by the time the film is over. In general that’s why this film will be known as more of a general action film. It follows all of the classic story beats and doesn’t make any mistakes with them but it’s also not trying to go beyond that.

The writing is good and the pacing is on point. The movie’s effects and backgrounds also just look good. I certainly wouldn’t want to be in a floor where the ground is transparent though. That just seems like a bad idea. I don’t care how strong the glass is, it feels like you would fall through at any moment and I just couldn’t get behind that. In general I’ve never seen the appeal of being super high up though. I’m absolutely satisfied being close to the ground.

Overall, Skyscraper is a pretty good film. I’m not going to say that it’s great or anything like that but it certainly does the job and doesn’t leave you shaking your head. It’s just taking a very safe approach which is a valid way to go about this. I’d like to see it try to take the next step in a sequel though. Then it can ideally really begin to show what it’s got. Still, you’ll have a good time here as you just enjoy the atmosphere.

Overall 7/10

Peppermint Review

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

Peppermint is definitely one of those films that is very much a basic thriller. There’s not a whole lot going on here beyond the main character getting her big revenge but that’s exactly what you’re expecting here. The film lives up to the premise it’s advertising so that’s always a good thing. In the end it can be a bit violent as you can guess but ultimately I’d say it’s a fairly decent thriller that holds up well.

The movie starts off with Riley destroying a villain so then we get a flashback to set this up. Her husband was recruited to get into a dangerous gig but he declined the offer. The main problem here is that the news of his declining didn’t make the rounds in time so the mob leader quickly destroys him as well as his family to make a statement. Riley was able to survive the bullet wounds though and after seeing how the justice system was bought out by the crooks, decides to handle this on her own. At the end of the day there is nobody else that she can trust but herself to get the job done here. Now it’s a race to destroy everyone who has wronged her, the courts, the gangsters, etc. She will keep moving forward until she has destroyed her enemies!

There isn’t a very large cast here as most of the villains are bumped off fairly quick. I would say the only important villain here would be the actual leader at the top of the charts. He’s not someone who should be taken too lightly at all. Diego is his name and he actually does a good job of ruling the mob. The guy rules by fear to the point where he murders people just for thinking about betraying him. That’s certainly an effective way to
stay in charge and also prevent more people from getting ideas.

At the end of the day once you get past the fear then he’s just another guy. In fact we even see the mob that owns this mob and it shows how he’s still just a big fish in a small pond. I suppose if we ever get a sequel to this it could be about Riley going after those guys next. The movie really fleshes out the world around it pretty well so there’s a lot you could do after this. To an extent Riley even feels like a bit of an Anti-Hero. We see that she has ended crime in a whole area and is protecting people even outside of her quest for revenge.

She helps a kid by beating up his alcoholic father and just generally makes the world a safer place. Riley isn’t above murdering her opponents of course so she’s not a full hero but definitely a figure that will give the villains some real pause here. They absolutely do not want to mess with her. Riley went off the grid for a few years to hone her fighting abilities and this seems to have really paid off big time. At this point she is able to out fight just about anyone in her way even if they are armed.

Riley is a fun lead character. She goes about her business very directly and doesn’t drag out the deaths or anything like that. She quickly lets them know why she is about to destroy them and then does it. It’s all a very straight forward approach which shows that she means business. Also she did try going through the legal system first. It just didn’t work so she was then forced to seek other avenues which made a lot of sense. Once the mob has bought out the court then it’s clear that justice won’t be coming.

Then we’ve got the main cop Beltran who does well here. He’s definitely not thrilled about getting mixed up with the gang since everyone who messes with them tends to disappear but he does want to see true justice get accomplished and goes past that fear. He also helps the film execute a really solid ending which really helps wrap everything up nicely. A bad ending can really and I mean really hurt for a film like this so getting around that was absolutely crucial. This ending is basically perfect so I was satisfied.

I wouldn’t say there are any big issues with the film either aside from some violence. As a revenge thriller like this you can absolutely bet that people are getting shot and destroyed but by and large it avoids being too excessive about the whole thing. What helps is that we mainly follow Riley as she destroys everyone and don’t get nearly as many scenes of the villains popping each other off. It’s a pretty big distinction because that’s usually when the films tend to get a bit more gratuitous with that.

I also always enjoy the classic trope of one person launching a full war against the entire villain empire. Just give her a few months of training and skills and now nobody can stop Riley. Is it super realistic? Perhaps not but it’s definitely always fun to watch. She also got a whole lot of intel to be able to locate everyone and take them out at the ideal times. Riley didn’t just panic and jump into action but planned everything out carefully and it paid off for her.

Overall, Peppermint is a pretty good film. I dare say it was better than I had been expecting. If you told me that this was a comic book origin story I would have believed you. It’s very much got those Punisher vibes at the ready. The fights are good and there is a lot of room to make a sequel out of this. I would definitely recommend this if you want a pretty intense action thriller. I wonder if revenge thrillers go for one word titles on purpose. Salt, Taken, Peppermint, Faster, etc. Maybe it’s a subliminal message that the film is about to be nonstop action with quick pacing.

Overall 6/10

Road to Perdition Review

Now we’re going to look at a classic Mafia story. The film itself isn’t all that old but I would say the story is sort of what you would expect when you think of the genre. You’ve got the main guy who is quite good at his job of being an enforcer but then things go south and now he has to find a way to protect his family or at least what remains of it. The execution is good though and I would recommend this film. It’s strong all around.

The movie starts by introducing us to Michael who is the top worker at the mafia. If someone needs to be bumped off or even just shaken up a bit, he’s the guy that you would call. Unfortunately he is paired up with the rather crazy Connor, the son of the head of the mafia. This guy seems to have some dark secrets and is always quick to shoot the people that they are just supposed to talk to. Unfortunately Michael’s son Junior (Also called Michael so Junior will be easier for the review) got to see this and it shattered his illusions.

Junior didn’t know that Michael was a mobster after all and now he has to live with the burden that this big secret brings along with it. It’s not easy that’s for sure and Connor decides to make it his mission to take Michael down for always being better than him. So Connor basically frames Michael by putting the gears in motion and forcing Michael to murder a guy who was after him. Now the whole gang is on his tail so his only chance is to take Junior and get out of town. Unfortunately he was not home soon enough to save the rest of his family. He knows he can run for a while but ultimately there is on leaving the mafia. His only other option is to destroy them all.

You might almost think this is like one of those classic action films where Michael is just bumping everyone off as he runs around the city but the movie isn’t really going in that direction. Instead it’s more low key and going for a realistic angle in that he can’t just take everyone out. Well…that changes a bit towards the end but at first most of the tension is just in trying to get away. Michael also takes this chance to really bond with Junior and even teach him some valuable life skills.

At the end of the day he doesn’t want Junior to continue in the mafia business for good reason. That’s just no place to grow up since you will always end up having a bad end there. I do think the movie made a big mistake in having the first scene take place in the future where we see that Junior is alive though. That is always a big mistake for me in any film because even if the odds are slim that he would die, why not leave it as a real possibility? Particularly in a film like this where kids do die so nobody is safe.

Mob type films are hard to predict how they will end because there really are a lot of different paths that you can go with it. For example, the actual revenge in this film is a lot more low key than you would expect. It’s not a 20 minute gunfight in the alleys or anything like that, but instead it’s carried out like an assassination. So in a lot of ways the film probably doesn’t play out in quite the way that you would expect and that’s a good thing. Nothing wrong with going down the classic path but the film is throwing you for a loop at times which is good.

Michael is a solid main character as well. I would consider him to be a villain here as no matter the reasons, he is working for a villainous organization and bumping people off. At least he does have an honor code though and it seems like he is trying his best to keep his family out of it. Junior is more on the annoying side. He’s just a kid and all but he still ends up getting in the way and isn’t quick on the uptake. Causing a mess at school and not being very discreet about what he learned just put a big target on everyone. I do think that things would have played out the same way eventually no matter what Junior did but he didn’t make things any easier.

As for Connor, he’s the main villain here. The guy isn’t really my kind of villain as he only stands a chance through cheap shots and deception. In a straight fight he wouldn’t stand a chance at all and part of why he is so jealous is because he could never do as well as Michael. He lets his emotions get the best of him all the time so he is definitely in the wrong line of work.

The writing is good which is important and the setting is fittingly framed like a Noir kind of world. Even the scenes where it is light out never feel all that happy for the characters because danger is around every corner. I do think that the leader of the mafia should have backed Michael up though. He seemed to know that the whole thing was a frame up but defended Connor anyway because of the blood relation and his image. A true boss needs to look at things objectively and so you could really blame him for everything as well. I was glad the lead didn’t let him off easily there. He definitely messed up.

Overall, Road to Perdition is a good movie. It’s tense all the way through and is a fairly detailed look at the mafia world without being overly gritty. I feel as though this is a tricky genre to execute properly since following a bunch of villains is always a tough balancing act in any setting. This one does well not to go too far with it though and aside from spoiling the future with the opening scene, I wouldn’t say that it made any big mistakes. It’s got a good amount of replay value to it as even though the beginning may be a bit quiet, it’s all building up to the more intense second half. We’ll see if the next mafia/mob title can beat this one.

Overall 7/10

Pickup on South Street Review

You’ve always gotta watch out for pick pockets because if they get your stuff then you’re probably not getting it back. This film deals with that and while I don’t think it’s so easy to get separated from your stuff as shown here, it can be tricky. It’s why they say to never put anything too valuable in your back pocket but I see a lot of people doing this anyway. Just try to stay safe out there and maybe watching this film will help you keep your guard up.

The movie starts off with a guy named Skip showing up and stealing Candy’s wallet. This isn’t good because Candy was carrying something immensely valuable in there which could be a matter of national security. Her ex boyfriend Joey tells her to find this guy and get it back as soon as possible. His people will even pay big money to see it returned. This whole thing is sounding more shady by the minute but Candy agrees to help out. Meanwhile the cops are also on the case and have enlisted the help of Moe the informant. Which group will be able to find this guy first?

It’s a small town and Moe’s a great informant so Skip doesn’t stay hidden for too long. Of course it’s one thing to find him and another to actually prove that he has the wallet and the item inside of it. For Skip this is potentially a huge payday so he is playing his cards close to the chest. He doesn’t care about the implications that the Russians may be after this file or anything like that. His own personal satisfaction matters more to him than his country which is fairly sad. The guy just can’t stop being a crook but now he’s gone even farther than usual.

This is a fun noir film with a good amount of thrills and a lot going on at every moment. Everyone wants Skip after all so you’re just wondering how long he can draw this out for before he is taken down. Surely his luck will catch up to him at some point but how long until that happens? It’s a tense battle against the clock. The only thing that hurts the film a bit is the romance which is really weak.

As you can probably guess, in the process of trying to talk him down, Candy ends up falling for Skip. He’s a big criminal though and one who doesn’t mind shoving her around. How did she possibly fall for him? The only explanation is the most shallow one which is purely for the looks. Not a great foundation to build a romance off of so that doesn’t do the film any favors either. Fortunately he softens up and starts to like her as well but throughout the film there are so many misunderstandings and moments where he’s harsh to her again so it all just happens too fast and doesn’t work at all.

It’s nice to see him landing a solid combo against one of the villains to defend her but ultimately you feel like their being friends would have worked a lot better in this context. Also, you can’t forget that Skip was still ready to sell America out the entire time which does nothing to make him any more sympathetic. Ultimately he just wasn’t a good guy and there’s no way around that one. He’s good at pickpocketing but that’s where it ends. If anything I’d say that he just gets lucky most of the time.

Candy is a decent heroine but I’d say she should have cut ties with Joey right away. It’s clear that he didn’t care about her safety one bit. He was nearly the end for her as well by the time the film was done. After a point it was going to be tough to get away from him either way so her best chance was early on. Just getting out of there and hope he’s too busy worrying about the pickpocket to go after her.

Candy has much more of a conscience than most of the other characters so she’s easy to root for at least. Perhaps not in the romance angle but at least in trying to keep the peace and helping the cops out while saving Skip’s reputation. Joey’s a very underwhelming villain the whole time as he’s always super nervous and doesn’t have a plan. He’s an underling through and through who doesn’t really look at the big picture.

Now there’s one part of the film that will definitely be causing you to stretch your disbelief a bit and that’s all of the pickpocketing scenes. Given what we find out later that Candy knew she was carrying something for Joey as her last mission, wouldn’t she be paying extra attention to her purse? I already didn’t buy the scene when it first started but then after we learn this it makes even less sense. Why wouldn’t she be paying a ton of attention to the purse the whole time with the stakes this high?

Sure, she didn’t know what was in the purse but even so it doesn’t work. I don’t care how fast the guy’s hands are, he’s not pickpocketing a purse when someone knows they’re carrying something like this. I’d also say it’s partially on the film for not making it look realistic. The way it’s shot, it’s like the guy is staring his target down but they’re just zoned off in the distance or trying to avoid eye contact. Each pickpocket scene takes forever and you’re just thinking about how the guy should have been caught the whole time.

Back to the characters though, Moe is a fairly solid one even if she is in a dangerous line of work here. Being an informant is definitely not a good way to live a long life but from her dialogue we can see that it was more of a last resort. She had to make money someway and selling ties just wasn’t cutting it. At the end of the day she does stay strong and resists giving intel to the right people. Unlike Skip she actually has some morals so I ended up liking her fairly well.

Then you have Tiger who is a fun police chief. He’s really hard on Skip but it’s hard to blame him since that guy is apparently always committing crimes and going back to Jail. He’s been sent there multiple times already so the next time would be for life. Tiger isn’t even wrong about Skip as the guy was going to sell out the country if not for being convinced at the end. So even though the film has a happy ending, you do wonder if he will ultimately relapse. I’d say the film is implying that this time he’s clean but you really never know with this kind of criminal history.

Overall, Pickup on South Street is a good film but it does struggle with some weaker areas that keeps this from being a better title. The romance just really did not work on any level and additionally the pickpocket scenes were hard to buy. You’re telling me that even the guy who was shadowing Candy didn’t notice Skip pickpocketing her until it was too late and he started to run? I found that one hard to believe as well. If you can get past that, you have a lot of fun dialogue and back and forth between the characters. It’s a solid setup there and I would recommend this to anyone looking for a classic noir title.

Overall 6/10

True Grit Review

True Grit is definitely a film with a lot of tough characters but unfortunately it took the gritty part a little too far. You’ve even got a horse that dies in this one which was unfortunate. You can absolutely do wild west films without animal violence, I’ve seen it done before. So what made this one fall into that trap? It just wasn’t being cautious enough and that’s a big mistake. It’s a fairly decent film for the most part but one that makes its share of mistakes too.

The movie starts with Mattie’s father getting bumped off after trying to get Tom Cheney to stop trying to pick fights while he was drunk. Unfortunately this drunk had one more bullet up his sleeve and so he then went on a crime spree before vanishing into the Indian territories. He is now protected by Ned Pepper and there isn’t anyone brave enough to go after him. Mattie is forced to try and find someone with true grit. Someone who won’t back down and will keep on fighting all the way through to the end. There is one person that everyone agrees is right for the job…Rooster.

Rooster is one of those guys who always gets his man and doesn’t mind using his gun as needed. You can bet that nobody is going to scare him off easily and that’s exactly the kind of guy Mattie needs. Unfortunately for her he doesn’t take Mattie very seriously and he also charges a lot for his services. While most would give up at this point, Mattie isn’t like most other characters. She works hard and gets the money so Rooster takes her up on the offer. They’re joined by a Texas ranger known as La Boeuf who is also after Chaney for a different crime. Having another fighter on hand would usually be good but the issue is that Mattie specifically wants him to hang for murdering her father, not some other crime. There’s going to be a lot of tension on this trip.

So lets get the bad out of the way first and then talk about the good. The main issue here of course is the animal violence. You never have to have the horse die during the gun fights, just have the human fall off of the horse while it runs away. Or if it’s tough acting you can have them both fall but there’s no indication that the horse is dead. Unfortunately this film goes out of its way to let you know that the horse is absolutely dead. Cmon now that’s not necessary in any situation. The horse staying alive would have been the right move and I dare say that it would have been a lot more inspirational as well.

There’s also a random scene where Rooster shoots a mouse. There was no real need for that either. It shows how tough he is, but we already knew that. This film just takes some easy outs like that which limits its potential compared to other wild west titles. It doesn’t quite beat the last few that I’ve seen.

I do like Rooster as the main fighter though. He is definitely a rather gruff guy on the outside but ultimately he’s pleasant enough to Mattie. You can tell that he’s not going to just run off with the money half way. Rooster takes his job very seriously and is good at it. His reputation is well deserved and he also makes La Boeuf back off when the guy is getting to be a bit too much. Rooster’s one weakness is that he can be a bit of a drunk at times. Usually he doesn’t drink enough to actually make him loose his grip on the situation but it does happen once or twice. It’s a massive weakness in his line of work.

As for La Boeuf, I can’t say that I liked him. His initial scenes were really hard to get around like when he first meets up with Mattie. The guy wants to take Chaney down too but loses his cool almost immediately and just does not seem like a good guy. Unlike Rooster I would not trust this guy at all. As the film goes on he gets more reasonable but either way I wasn’t really a fan of the guy.

Chaney is a super petty villain all the way through. He really had no good reason to get Mattie’s father except that he was drunk and didn’t know what he was doing. It’s clear that he was always a bad guy based on the crimes they described for him afterwards though so the drink isn’t a full excuse. He’s just a bad guy but with no master plan or any interesting qualities. You’re just waiting for him to be taken down later on. Mattie should have just shot him again while she had the gun. Everyone always seems to freeze up in these films but if you’re face to face with someone that’s stronger and faster than you, you need to blow him away before it’s too late. Once he’s within arm’s length it’s over.

Ned Pepper was a lot more interesting even though his role is much smaller. I liked the lore with how he fought Rooster once before and is effectively the only one that got away. It makes for an interesting past there and now this guy felt like a true threat. The movie’s focus isn’t on him so he doesn’t appear a lot but at least this way we had one super formidable fighter.

The gun fights are solid here. We see one battle where Rooster has to go up against 4-5 guys on his own which was really impressive. In general he always makes his shots and considering that he’s so old by this point, he has a lot of stamina as well. You definitely feel secure having someone like Rooster on your side. It took him and the Texas ranger a long while to get to Mattie near the climax though which almost cost her. I know she fell down quite a bit aways but I still didn’t think it would take so long to get down there. Maybe they were afraid of falling too.

At the end of the day Mattie gets a lot of credit for being so persistent as well. Pretty much everyone just told her to drop the case after a while because it would just be too difficult to get her justice but she didn’t let them get to her. Between locating a bounty hunter who would help and raising the funds, Mattie really earned her victory all the way through. She was even able to effectively haggle prices with someone for the horse and her money at one point. I also liked how she would constantly mention her lawyer. When he actually appeared near the end that was fun. He’s the kind of character who can give you a good laugh but deep down you know that he means business.

Overall, True Grit really messes up when it comes to the animal scenes but beyond that it’s a fairly decent wild west movie. I think they could have made the Texas Ranger a little more likable though as it would have helped to improve the banter with him and Rooster. That’s something that can be a lot of fun to have in these films but it doesn’t work quite as well when you’re rooting for the guy to get taken down the whole time. I do think Rooster would have won if they ever did get into an actual fight though. A prequel about Rooster’s days in the army could also be interesting since it sounds like he saw a lot of action there. If you like Wild West films a lot then this is probably one you’ll want to check out but if not, there are a lot of other titles you could watch to start your journey into the genre.

Overall 4/10

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

Cellular Review

This is one of those films with some fairly big names but I can’t remember ever seeing it anywhere. So it’s fairly obscure and I’d say the film turned out to be good. I’m not calling it great or anything but it was better than I expected. There’s a lot going on in here and it keeps this from just being another film about finding someone who’s being held captive.

The movie starts with Jessica getting kidnapped by a group of thugs led by Ethan. They want some kind of information in connection with her husband but she has no idea what they are even talking about. Fortunately while they may have broken the phone, she is able to repair the shards of it just enough to make calls. She brushes the cords together enough times until she is able to reach a guy called Ryan. He’s not really in the mood for any of this and figures it could be a trick either way. Still, he decides to humor her and eventually hears enough where he knows that this is real. It’s going to be difficult to get anyone to believe him though so it’s a race against time now.

Right off the bat I do think the whole plot is a tad convenient with the broken phone still being able to make calls. I mean the whole wires thing was creative but still I’m a little dubious about that being enough to actually get to a phone nearby. That random element just felt like the odds were a little too low for success and the whole movie is build around that premise. Beyond that the rest is believable enough and turns into your classic thriller film.

Ethan makes for a fairly intense villain. We don’t know a whole lot about him but you know enough to tell that he is serious about his threats. When it comes time for a fight he’s also a lot more skilled than the heroes but this isn’t really a full action movie which is lucky for them. There are a few other villains but none of them are quite as important for the most part. They definitely don’t get the same amount of screen time at least.

Unfortunately Ryan isn’t a great main character. I don’t blame him for thinking this is a trick at first. That part’s believable enough as this whole scenario is hard to buy into but he’s just not a very nice guy. He’s trying to get back together with his ex but when she gives him a basic task to complete…he gives it to his friend? How would that help his relationship with the girl at all? I feel like that plot didn’t make much sense and just confirms her suspicions on him not being very mature. It’s no wonder that they weren’t together anymore.

I suppose part of the film’s goal is to show how he gets more mature throughout the film but considering how short the time frame is here it’s hard to really say that. Being in the middle of a very stressful situation isn’t a great way to really see development after all. As for Jessica, well there’s not a whole lot that she can do either way so I’d say she did well enough. It’s not like getting captured was her fault and she fights well in trying to get out. So all in all I would give her character a thumbs up.

Her husband Craig looks awful though. His role is small but he basically got her into this whole situation and is not a reliable guy. I’d argue that he didn’t think ahead at all and he should have been able to warn her ahead of time. I did like Officer Mooney though. He’s getting ready to retire but when this situation comes up he figures he can help out one last time. He goes above and beyond the call of duty in getting mixed up with this when he could have just walked out into retirement. I have to give him some solid credit for that. He is quick with the trigger and isn’t an easy mark for anyone.

It’s easy to say that he’s the best hero in the film. I dare say he would have held up way better than Ryan as the lead. His plot has some intrigue to it as things don’t line up with the cops and it adds an extra layer of mystery to the whole thing. Ryan doesn’t have as much time to really dwell on this since he’s always on the move while Mooney is able to put the pieces together. Chad is Ryan’s best friend but the guy has almost no purpose being in the film. I guess the film has him try to be funny but it doesn’t work. Then there’s the ex Chloe who probably should have held her ground in staying away from Ryan. It’s clear that this guy is trouble.

The movie does have some decent comedy scenes like when Ryan broke into the phone company and flashed his gun. After how he tried so many times to do things peacefully, it was a good way to end that. Then I also liked that lawyer that Ryan bumped into. The guy may have been a bit exaggerated in how standoffish he was, but it made for some great moments. I’m a bit mixed on how the cell signals could just cross like that but I’ll assume it’s possible. It definitely helped to increase the stakes as well as the issue of not dropping the signal or Ryan would have no way to contact the lady again. Above it all though, the lawyer was just really funny in all of his scenes.

In a lot of ways the film is very by the books. The gimmick is unique with the whole cell phone angle but beyond that there isn’t much that stands out. I would say the thriller elements are exciting enough where this is a good movie even if it’s not great. I didn’t have many issues with it at all. The heroes could be a bit on the annoying side without a doubt (Ryan executed his final plan horribly. If not for Mooney he would have been doomed. Maybe choosing the park where everyone knows him was a bad idea…) but the pacing was quick and so the film glides by. It doesn’t drag on and so there’s a good amount of replay value. I’d be able to rewatch this one fairly quick even though I just saw it.

Overall, If you’re looking for a fun thriller movie that you haven’t watched before then this is a good one to check out. It’s a fairly light adventure that doesn’t feel high budget or anything but it doesn’t make mistakes either. I feel like a good amount of effort was put into this one and I’d be cool with a sequel or another film using this gimmick. I think there’s a lot you could do with it but I would find some other way for the main character to be contacted. A broken phone just doesn’t make a lot of sense for me.

Overall 7/10

The Fate of the Furious Review

The series rocks on with another big installment. Of course this time there would be no Brian which is a shame since he was a solid member of the crew. That may even be what makes the film a bit weaker because otherwise he would have had a massive role here based on the plot. This is still a really solid film to be sure but does trail behind the last two. Ultimately that’s not saying much since those were so great though and this series continues to be consistently great.

The movie starts with Dom taking down a street racer and redeeming the guy in the process. Now he runs a clean ship and Dom is proud of how things have turned out. He’s out of the biz now and just wants a normal life. Unfortunately that is not in the cards at the moment. A lady named Cipher appears and shows him something on her phone before confirming that he will now betray his family and work for her. Surprisingly Dom agrees to the terms so whatever she has on him must be massive. When he starts stealing nukes and EMPs, the crew is forced to assemble once more but can they really take out their former leader? Their only shot is to team up with Nobody, Hobbs, and Shaw. With every hype character in one room surely they can beat him!

That alone shows how much cache Dom has though. If you need the entire cast to even stand a chance against him then there was no doubt on who the big boss was. Personally, Hobbs and Shaw have both proven themselves to be a match so you’d figure that this would be easy but I suppose it’s more difficult in a race than a fight. Dom does have the best driving skills of the cast, I think that’s fair to say so it’s hard to actually catch him at that point. Still, the gang will give it their all.

One of the early scenes that really stood out was when Shaw breaks out of jail so he and Hobbs have a big chase throughout the compound. It was a really good action sequence where we got a lot of different combos and attacks. You feel bad for the guards who are ultimately at the wrong place at the wrong time. They really didn’t stand much of a chance here and particularly Shaw was making sure to destroy his opponents. You get the feeling that a few may have died against Dom too with how hard he was hitting.

This is something that you can’t help but remember when we start to go through the redemption arc for Shaw. I mean it’s pretty cool to see him fighting with the team and he’s a great character either way but I feel like the characters themselves would be super mixed about the whole thing. Ultimately it feels like there is a ton that he will have to atone for even if he is directly helping the heroes.

Then for Hobbs, he gets a lot more to do in this film which is good. The banter between him and Shaw is hype as always and Hobbs always knows how to pick the strongest looking car in the lot. He also did give Dom a few chances to surrender before going all in so I thought he handled the situation as well as he could have.

The rest of the crew is always around for their moments to shine as well even if they can’t keep up quite as well. You have Roman who is still the comic relief here but he actually does get a pretty big moment to help balance that for once like when he shoots a bunch of villains who were approaching him. Perhaps the only reason he hasn’t been dominating is because there haven’t been enough gun fights? Tej and Ramsey have a good dynamic as they each think of plans to help out. I did find it funny how the God’s Eye was already surpassed though, that definitely didn’t take long considering how much hype it got. That was the ultimate global hacking machine after all and it was taken down so quickly.

As an aside, the scene where they bust in and take out the entire cast was great though. Here you have all these big heavyweight fighters who can theoretically take down an entire army and they all get served up by a concussion grenade. I guess you really don’t want to mess with those things. It was a great way to give the villains some hype though and also felt like a scene out of a comic book movie. Even the layout of the area reminded me of Agents of Shield.

Letty doesn’t get as much to do as I would have expected here with the whole Dom going rogue angle. She does have her big moment where she grabs the briefcase and buys a bit of time but we don’t get the whole “Now it’s personal!” dynamic that you might have expected. Usually that would probably have been some kind of big fight and a lot of back and forth. Still, Letty and the crew never started doubting Dom which was important.

Nobody returns and he looks great here again. The guy is still just a lot of fun at all times and he gets results. He’s someone that even the main characters won’t want to cross. Then we’re introduced to his junior coworker in this film who tries hard but can’t get that same level of respect. And it’s not even close, that guy gets insulted throughout the movie. I thought he was rather decent myself but he does go in a little too hard on playing by the rules which doesn’t work out too well when you’re surrounded by this unit.

As for the main villain Cipher, she is quite a bit weaker than the last few villains. Her plans are wide scale but ultimately there’s not a ton to her. Cipher is really lucky that she is in possession of something to keep Dom off of her because otherwise she just wouldn’t last here. Anyone can be tough with a bit of blackmail, it’s the really strong villains who don’t need it.

Her right hand man Connor felt doomed from the start. He tries to talk tough to Dom but right from their opening scene you knew that he wouldn’t be able to back it up. These two are just in different tiers of power and Dom was absolutely not going to go down with family on the line. Once fighting was an option that was going to always be game over for the guy.

One older character appears here for a big role but I won’t say who since you could probably guess a lot from that. It was nice to see her return but unfortunately her role didn’t allow for any big moments. So she didn’t look bad because there wasn’t much that she could have possibly done but I wouldn’t say that she looked very good either. She was just fighting a losing battle here.

Finally we have Dom and of course the big question would be, was the blackmail enough to justify him going rogue and nearly murdering everybody? I mean just by working with the villain he nearly took everyone out. I always tend to be very skeptical of the hero in a scenario like this and I wouldn’t say Dom is exempt from that. His options were limited but I feel like he could have clued the team in somehow, especially since he had a lot of time. As long as he could trust them not to say anything then it would be easier to plan something out. Unfortunately it didn’t go that way so I think for once he was the one who didn’t believe in family hard enough.

Ultimately he still gets to take names and look hardcore as always though. At one point he basically has to go up against the entire team which was a lot of fun. I always like seeing a group vs 1 fight like that and it’s not like these are scrubs. Technically they’re very skilled too…just not skilled enough in this instance. Better luck next time and all of that.

Overall, Fate of the Furious is another great installment. It may not beat the others but it still has a lot of epic moments all throughout the film. It may even be the darkest one since some of the originals. I still say that loosely of course since I wouldn’t consider this film dark by any stretch but it has its moments and is certainly going for more of an emotional feel to it. We’ll see if 9 is able to top this one but ultimately I think that will be difficult. In a way it’s always tough for a sequel to beat a film that’s an 8 or up because that’s a lot to live up to.

Overall 8/10