Monthly Archives: May 2019

Movie Review: Wanted

Image result for wanted movie poster free use“Insanity is wasting your life as a nothing when you have the blood of a killer flowing in your veins. Insanity is being shit on, beat down, coasting through life in a miserable existence when you have a caged lion locked inside and a key to release it.”

Life can get monotonous and rather repetitive. It, at times, can be difficult to not become apathetic. It’s easy to become indifferent. With the dissolution of life’s brighter moments, we find ourselves sapped of energy. We become dormant volcanoes. Sad, given the strength and potential we possess but our reanimation is not that far away. It only takes a spark to ignite a flame.

Wanted is a dramatic reenactment of reignition, a dichotomy between lifeless and livid form. It reminds us of trivial trials and gives us an adrenaline shot rather abruptly. We went from picking up a prescription to shooting through cereal boxes.

Wanted is a stern father giving us a talking to, reminding us of what we aspired to be. We don’t believe it anymore and have lost our sense of self. Misplacing your identity is a gradual process but it often slips under our view and comes out of the blue. It’s quite the revelation, realizing where you are now. It can be alluring to settle into a routine and forget why you became content in the first place. Along that journey comes self-hatred, self-doubt and a sense of hopelessness, which is exactly what Wesley Gibson is going through. He is miserable and has accepted it.

This film likely ages well because of its conversation regarding mental health, a dialogue that has opened up in the past few years. Mental health is an ongoing struggle which cannot escape time. For some, it just is and always will be. It’s a neverending war and any fight that’s forever begins to feel hopeless after a while. What’s the point? We’re no closer to winning than we were a year ago. Why are we still choosing to bleed?

Sometimes, a little direction and a shove can make a lot of difference, or in Wesley Gibson’s case, a gun to the back of the head and a command to shoot the wings off the flies, something that is surely physically impossible. If he could do something like that, the realm of possibility is no longer a closed circle: it’s a bowl of opportunity and as is human nature, the desire to seek the unexplored is mighty compelling. That want makes us do things our past selves would never dream of doing: rejecting authority and the societal constraints put in place, sticking it to the man and embracing independence and total control of our lives.

With this crisp vigor and thrill unleashed, some people are willing to put themselves through hell to retain it. Adversity no longer appears a monstrosity ready to devour us. It looks like a scared bully shriveling in the corner and we’re ready to pounce. Wesley will take repeated beatings and cuts from knife play, taking those limits to the extreme, one might say but the means do not concern someone in Wesley’s position, only the end result. Doubt will eventually begin to grow before we remember our newfound freedom. We are obsessed with meeting our new selves. We have waited our whole lives for this chance. It is all we can think about and it is within our grasp.

All I’ve said thus far is part of the storyline. Said blueprint aligns itself with character discovery and the journey to enlightenment. It’s relatable because we all seek fulfillment though I suspect most of us not from a life of assassination. I could be wrong. Does seem to be exciting and I’m sure chicks dig it.

In addition to a well-designed ‘scape, writers Michael Brandt, Derek Haas and Chris Morgan compose some great dialogue tidbits. In some of my recent reviews, it has been difficult to find a quote to throw at the top, a new staple of my critique section. No problems here. It has wit, charm, apropos humor and chronic knowledge of the human condition.

The action is well-executed but it is flavoring, not a crutch. Director Timur Bekmambetov throws some stuff in here that’s fantastic, like bending a bullet’s trajectory or shooting a bullet in mid-air. It defies space and physics, running parallel alongside Wesley’s new persona: unrestrained, unhindered and unstoppable. This requires a suspension of disbelief that some many not be capable of but its cohesiveness with the story is well-played.

This is probably my favorite James McAvoy film, though Split may demonstrate his talents better. Youthful arrogance and intrigue serves his palette well. Angelina Jolie rarely disappoints and Morgan Freeman is a personal favorite.

Once again, if you’re new to my blog, I’ve always ranked movies on a scale of 0-100 (I don’t know why, I just always have). Here’s the grading scale.  

90-100  It’s a great movie and definitely one worth buying. (L.A. ConfidentialHerTakenCaptain America: Civil WarDeadpool)

80-89  It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (Law Abiding CitizenScott Pilgrim Vs. The WorldThe 40-Year-Old VirginThe ConjuringSinister)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too. (Triple FrontierI am LegendIp Man 2Ip ManKong: Skull Island)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (2 Fast 2 FuriousDoctor StrangeJohnny MnemonicJason BourneSuicide Squad)

50-59   This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (The Silence, The Fast and the FuriousBrooklyn’s FinestDeath RaceWind River)

40-49   This movie is just mediocre. It’s not doing anything other than the bare minimal, so morbidly boring that sometimes I’m actually angry I watched this. (DoomThe Fast and the Furious: Tokyo DriftPirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No TalesPower RangersUnderworld: Evolution)

30-39   Definitely worse than mediocre, the 30′s ironically define the 1930′s, full of depression, lack of accomplishments, poverty and just so dumb. (High-RiseMost Likely to DieIndependence Day: ResurgenceThe Crow: City of AngelsCenturion)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (The SnowmanAvalanche SharksCatwomanThe GunmanThe Visit)

0-19      Watching this movie resulted in one or more of the following: seizure, loss of brain cells, falling asleep/unconsciousness, feel you wasted your time/day, accomplished nothing for you, left the movie knowing less about it then you did going into it, constantly asking yourself why you came to see this movie, or near-death experience. In short, staring at a wall was just as entertaining as watching this movie. This movie deserved a sticker or a label that said, “WARNING: EXTREME AMOUNT OF SUCKAGE.” (The Coed and the Zombie StonerThe Forbidden DimensionsCyborgOutcastSabotage)

My score for Wanted: 83.

Wanted is an under-the-radar niche film that’s a personal favorite of mine but I can’t shake a loss in its third act. Feels like unfinished business and tangled threads.

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Movie Review: The Silence

Image result for the silence movie poster free use“I’m gonna shoot you if you don’t go, that’s what I’m gonna do.”

The Silence comes from the same artery that spurted A Quiet Place and Bird Box: sensual thrillers. It’s the new trend in Hollywood and the results speak for themselves. John Krasinski’s A Quiet Place was an impressive passion project. Bird Box went viral and deservedly so.

The Silence has similar content in play. Listen close, speak softly and don’t make a sound. Creatures are stirring in the house. Don’t wake them or they’ll be the last thing you’ll see.

The trailer Netflix is putting out for its new original pulled me in. They also sent an email and kindly notification to encourage me. How generous of them.

The Silence lacks the vitriol of the former two and it’s evident early on.

It’s too clean, first off. I’m not on the corner promoting more savagery in film but this is not a film that’s going to shock us audibly. It needs to throw its punches visually and The Silence seems reluctant to do that. This may be due to its source material, as its target demographic appears to be adolescent audiences. Narrative flows are rather basic here, relationships awfully simple to understand and complex issues put plainly, which closes a lot of doors for creative expression. Plans go quite smoothly considering the chaos. Scenes which begin brewing tension end abruptly rather than strung out.

When you hit a chord, you often like to let it ring, depending on the composition of course. You want to wave the scene around like you’re carrying a torch. Let it burn and sizzle. Hear it crackle and consume.

I watched No Country For Old Men recently, a Best Picture winner I hope to add sooner rather than later to my Best Picture Journey, another series I’m trying to resuscitate. To give you, dear reader, an illustration of what I’m talking about, take a few minutes and devour this.

What goes on in this scene? Not that much actually. A man buys a candy bar and gas but there’s a lot more to the sequence, isn’t there? Javier Bardem’s character is brutally unnerving and you get a clear, concise thought that the man is capable of sinister acts. All you can do is watch as the storekeeper falls further and further into the pit. There’s a long shot of a candy wrapper slowly unraveling, Javier Bardem cracking nuts mid dialogue. It’s pinching, applying pressure in such a subtle way. It’s tantalizing.

This scene could have been nothing. It could have been cut out of the script entirely but instead, it was studied, tested and refined. That’s what creators do.

So when early in your story, you’ve got your group in a holdup, demonstrating the definition of boundaries we talked about in my last review and you cut that scene abruptly without much expressed, forgive me if I second guess the level of editing done here. Allow me some respite if I question a rather comatose first act. Grant me reprieve if I’m puzzled by a surprising lack of emotion.

Blunt knives do not cut nor do they penetrate without a significant amount of force. Ones not forged preciously are fragile, prone to brittleness. Metal not tempered becomes thin.

Thrillers require a certain level of opacity. No one feels challenged by a translucent wall. I’d argue we’d prefer a mirror to a window. Windows can only show what’s on the other side. They don’t provide optics or inquiry. They don’t obscure or obfuscate. They are a shallow obstacle to the other side and trivial barriers don’t pair well with mystique.

Hollow writing dampens The Silence’s gravitational pull. It doesn’t belay audiences, allowing a float through a clear orbit. An asteroid field, a few moons or a diorama would have been far more interesting. I think they took their title too literally.

Acting turns are a constant struggle. Stanley Tucci is doing what he can but none of these characters are flossed or flexed. Some lines come with the additional package of painful delivery. Reshoots were in order. I understand our director made a career out of directing an immobile object but that won’t do here.

Cinematographers turned directors succeed and sometimes they don’t but something I find quite perplexing, and I know I’ve mentioned it a few times during my career here, is their sudden memory loss regarding their previous spouse. When the picturemen direct, they forget about the cinematography or are so enamoured with their new toy they forget about their previous responsibilities.

The third act grants us an antagonist worthy of our time but as the film has done during most of its run time, it lets its fresh fruit spoil.

Once again, if you’re new to my blog, I’ve always ranked movies on a scale of 0-100 (I don’t know why, I just always have). Here’s the grading scale.  

90-100  It’s a great movie and definitely one worth buying. (L.A. ConfidentialHerTakenCaptain America: Civil WarDeadpool)

80-89  It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (Law Abiding CitizenScott Pilgrim Vs. The WorldThe 40-Year-Old VirginThe ConjuringSinister)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too. (Triple Frontier, I am LegendIp Man 2Ip ManKong: Skull Island)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (2 Fast 2 FuriousDoctor StrangeJohnny MnemonicJason BourneSuicide Squad)

50-59   This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (The Fast and the FuriousBrooklyn’s FinestDeath RaceWind RiverTommy Boy)

40-49   This movie is just mediocre. It’s not doing anything other than the bare minimal, so morbidly boring that sometimes I’m actually angry I watched this. (Doom, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo DriftPirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No TalesPower RangersUnderworld: Evolution)

30-39   Definitely worse than mediocre, the 30′s ironically define the 1930′s, full of depression, lack of accomplishments, poverty and just so dumb. (High-RiseMost Likely to DieIndependence Day: ResurgenceThe Crow: City of AngelsCenturion)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (The SnowmanAvalanche SharksCatwomanThe GunmanThe Visit)

0-19      Watching this movie resulted in one or more of the following: seizure, loss of brain cells, falling asleep/unconsciousness, feel you wasted your time/day, accomplished nothing for you, left the movie knowing less about it then you did going into it, constantly asking yourself why you came to see this movie, or near-death experience. In short, staring at a wall was just as entertaining as watching this movie. This movie deserved a sticker or a label that said, “WARNING: EXTREME AMOUNT OF SUCKAGE.” (The Coed and the Zombie StonerThe Forbidden DimensionsCyborgOutcastSabotage)

My score for The Silence: 56.

I probably will not look back at this film favorably. This score will likely not age well. I’ve given The Silence far more credit than it deserves.

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