Tag Archives: charlie hunnam

Movie Review: Triple Frontier

Image result for triple frontier movie poster free use“So, the question is, do we finally get to use our skills for our own benefit and actually change something?”

The moment you put on that uniform, you’ve signed up for a lifelong commitment. It’s unlike any other job. The phrase “leave work at work” doesn’t apply. The darkness stays with you. It’s not something you can wash off or put to the side. It is a shadow, a small creature nestled in your cranium. It’s that paranoid itch, the second guessing yourself. It is a parasite.

You want out and you know where the door is. Your hand’s on the knob but in a final moment of indecision, you let go because there’s no going back, because there’s no turning back the clock, because maybe the best place for you is in the wind, in the heat of the fight. This is what you’ve trained for. This is what you do. This is where you’re home. This is who you’ve become. You are both warrior and war.

Triple Frontier is an homage to the after phase of our servicemen and women because for many of them, the wars never stop. Inner turmoil, doubt and past transgressions haunt them, things we can relate to but topics more sinister than things we’ve ever experienced. Like the men in this story, there comes a midlife crisis where we start to ask ourselves important questions. Did we do what we came to do? Did we live the dream? Or has it all been for nothing?

It is in these moments where we once again revisit the question of our self-worth. Once we determine the answer to that pivotal inquiry, we, as people, can be capable of rash actions in pursuit of a dream we realize has slipped through our fingers. So is the case with Santiago Garcia (Oscar Isaac), a man who envisioned a future where drug lords would no longer rule countries and politicians would be leaders rather than figureheads for private interests. He’s served his time and returned to the fray as a contractor. There is still so much to do and so little time. It’s a dream Garcia will never get to see, only dream of. The rest of his life looks derelict and meaningless. He needs to do something.

Desperation can be a great motivator. When pushed to the brink, we make some of our most poignant decisions. We saw it in Law Abiding Citizen, if you’ve been paying attention to my recent content. Our aspirations and what we really want, sometimes we don’t realize how much we desire these until we see them start to crumble. We go into a fervor, become possessed in our craving. It’s all we can think about. It’s all we can live for.

Desperation can be a tragic flaw. When surrounded, we lust after vices. Our priorities become a cobweb of desires and we drive ourselves into a frenzy, reaching for anything we can grab our hands on. The apocalypse is on our doorstep. We need to acquire all the power, all the money, we need ALL of everything. We will leave nothing and nothing will stand in our way.

Director J.C. Chandor exists in the early stages as a director but checks my box in the writing category early on. This is a premise with good footing, one not easily knocked off balance. It’s relatable for the struggle, different because of the characters at play. These are men who dedicated their lives to country and it did not pay the dividends they were promised. Does this make them any less of a soldier? Are their values any less ardent because of this belief?

Triple Frontier is a tragedy, an ode to the old Greek tales passed down through the ages. Lines will be crossed. Shadowed paths will be taken. Debris and trash will be left on the wayside.

It’s also a heist film and as with all thievery, things do not go according to plan. Life finds a way to intervene.

This Netflix original is well cast, starring Ben Affleck, who is becoming one of my favorite actors, Isaac, Charlie Hunnam, Garrett Hedlund and Pedro Pascal of The Great Wall fame. Affleck can’t help but outshine his counterparts, displaying inner turmoil and conflict quite easily. That said, the film lacks a central figure. Every great heist film has an imposing star, sometimes two in the case of Inside Man. Every tragedy has a tragic hero. All of these characters qualify for the role but none are afforded the opportunity to truly embrace it, leaving the film faceless. No matter how great a shape one may possess, it’s hard to be memorable without a face.

Triple Frontier struggles to tread water on the back half. It plays true to its identity but those two issues above bode a heavier load as the movie travels on. It just runs out of gas. I don’t know the cause but I have some theories, including a hazard of production delays, director changes and recasts over nearly eight years.

It’s not as visually stirring as I felt it was capable of considering the settings utilized. Without a cover, a story like this could have used photography, image creation, anything bedazzling and Triple Frontier just doesn’t have it.

It’s becoming the norm with Netflix and look, I’m a big supporter of Netflix. A lot of the content I cover comes from that site. I’m still encouraged by the amount of funds they pour into original content but stuff like this, whilst still promising, can also be frustrating for someone who looks at content critically because I see the fault lines. The tape and whiteout are not so easily hidden from a trained eye. Would also be nice if they wouldn’t spend $100 million on a tv show rental but that’s for another time.

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. (I am LegendIp Man 2Ip ManKong: Skull IslandThe Invitation)

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 Triple Frontier: 79.

Triple Frontier is another Netflix original with potential that feels underdeveloped. I’m unsure if any of my readers have any experience with composing film. I did back in the day. An underdeveloped photo leaves blurred colors, faded edge work but generally strong contours. Kinda like Triple Frontier.

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Movie Review: Crimson Peak

Guillermo del-Toro. I’m being perfectly honest when I say I have no idea who that is. When I say that, I don’t mean I don’t know who del-Toro is. I mean I don’t know who del-Toro is.

Guillermo has dabbled in so many genres in the realm of moving pictures that I’m unsure what significant impression he’s left on the industry, if any. I don’t consider myself an expert on del-Toro’s filmography, but I wonder if anyone truly is. He has played small behind-the-camera roles in some notable productions and has found himself accredited as a creative consultant more than a couple of times. He has seemingly fallen off the grid when it comes to the director’s chair, but when he decides to pursue a project, he does so full steam ahead. With Hellboy, Hellboy II: The Golden Army, Pacific Rim and now Crimson Peak, del-Toro directed and wrote the script. Coincidentally, that is the extent of knowledge I have regarding his filmography.

However, I have the luxury of having viewed the film that epitomizes del-Toro to the letter and that product is known as Pacific Rim. The hype for Pacific Rim during the summer of 2013 was mountainous. All of my friends were pumped. My brother and I were pumped and even Hollywood was on their heels. The Mexican director praised that Pacific Rim would blow our minds, we would be so in awe of what we were witnessing. Alas, that wasn’t the case. Pacific Rim was nothing more than a trend. It was hot and like a poor installment of a video game franchise, was forgotten and passed over in a matter of months.

Fast forward two years and del-Toro decides he wants to make another movie. Let me introduce you to Crimson Peak.

Crimson Peak provides the scenery that allows del-Toro to tinker and sketch a Gothic horror, a throwback to the traditions of the horror genre. In pre-production interviews, del-Toro said he wanted to make a modern installment in the fashion of horror classics such as The Omen, The Exorcist and The Shining. Before the 21st century, the artistry of film was limited in the visual department. What they couldn’t compose on the screen had to be conjured by the writer’s pen and director’s firm hand. I actually watched The Omen for the first time on Halloween a few weeks ago and while it wasn’t scary for me, it was clearly evident why the film has found itself a candidate for the Mount Rushmore of horror. Film in the glory days whipped up the idea of the film and spent hundreds of hours constructing the invisible.

What the horror industry has forgotten and why it struggles so heartily today is because the directors tasked with injecting new blood into the drying veins of this behemoth have forgotten about the invisible-the tension, the suspense, the genuine terror that our own imagination can manifest all its own with the right prodding. They’ve forgotten the difference between a momentary shrill cry, and paralyzing fear and shallow breathing. They’ve either forgotten or still do not understood what truly scares us.

At the very least, Guillermo del-Toro understands what does. Crimson Peak plays the fiddle of our fears, giving the urgency, despondency and dejection of being alone in the world, surrounded by those who wish us harm and a place that makes our bones shudder like the curtains on the attic window. Guillermo’s study of visual aesthetics and Gothic decorum administers an eerie glow to an ash-black setting. Something is astir and our curiosity is peaked, play on the title intended.

The pacing of Crimson Peak is like a slithering snake, slowly sizzling and storming across the floor. At times it’s appropriate and at others you want to see the snake put the rubber to the road and just go already. Tension and grit are built on the foundation of timing and tempo and while del-Toro understands the horror genre better than many of his counterparts of late, it’s still not where it needs to be.

Luckily for del-Toro, he has a cast that bails him out in some facets. It feels like fresh air, seeing Tom Hiddleston in a non-Loki role and Jessica Chastain chewing on a meaty character. Hiddleston, away from the one-liners and crowded cast lists of Marvel films, seems to revel in the luxury of additional screen time. Chastain plays alongside Hiddleston as his sister and is given more range as an actress. Chastain is the one to watch in Crimson Peak.

Yet with all these positives, Crimson Peak still has its negatives, keeping it at an average level overall. Mia Wasikowska’s leading lady doesn’t get the development anyone wants. Curiosity and independence drive her character forward, but audiences will be hard-pressed to find much more. Instead, the elements of a mystery-based plot control the steering wheel of this horror ride. As more clues are uncovered, more of the plot is revealed to the eyes of the audience but none of these discoveries are earth-shattering nor are they all that unpredictable. By the third act, Crimson Peak becomes an average horror entry at best, but still surpasses some of the laughable attempts at scares that peruse my recent memory. Looking at you, The Visit.

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. (Avengers: Age of UltronThe AvengersThe BabadookInterstellarChappie)

80-89   It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (The Cable GuyThe Cabin in the WoodsTears of the SunEdge of TomorrowThe Amazing Spider-Man 2)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too. (The MartianBlack Mass,Enemy at the GatesAnchorman 2: The Legend ContinuesLeon: The Professional)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (Beasts of No NationTerminator: GenisysBlack SheepTwistedParker)

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. (EverestHerculesThe SentinelMad Max: Fury RoadBlitz)

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. (The Lost BoysZombeaversCrankErasedI, Frankenstein)

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. (CenturionPlanet of the ApesStonadosRedemptionPride and Prejudice)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (The VisitThe Fantastic FourThe Boy Next DoorThe ColonyIn the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale)

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 Crimson Peak: 70.

Crimson Peak isn’t without its cringe-worthy moments, imposing set designs or haunting supporting cast, but without a developed protagonist, del-Toro’s work slowly mutates into a mystery crime novella rather than a perusing of the deepest depths of the human soul and the demons within.

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