Category Archives: Action/Thriller

Wang! Bang! Pow!

Fantasia Festival 2020 Movie Reviews — The Oak Room, PVT Chat, Hunted

The virtual Fantasia Festival 2020 is in the full swing of things, with on-demand and live premiere titles becoming available to Canadian audiences. Here are reviews of three films playing the fest, The Oak Room, PVT Chat, and Hunted.

 

The Oak Room

Cody Calahan’s The Oak Room looks pretty good—opening with slow-moving wide-angle shots of a barroom. The camera establishes mood, producing a Continue reading Fantasia Festival 2020 Movie Reviews — The Oak Room, PVT Chat, Hunted

2020 Fantasia Festival Movie Reviews — Dinner in America, Hail to the Deadites, Monster Seafood Wars

Continuing our coverage of the 2020 Fantasia International Film Festival, here are reviews of three festival selections: Hail to the Deadites, Dinner in America, and Monster Seafood Wars.

 

Hail to the Deadites

In documentary, the choice of subject can sometimes be the majority of the battle. A good documentary requires Continue reading 2020 Fantasia Festival Movie Reviews — Dinner in America, Hail to the Deadites, Monster Seafood Wars

Review: Crazy Samurai Musashi — Fantasia Festival 2020

Crazy Samurai Musashi takes about five minutes to establish its exceedingly simple premise: the Yoshioka clan must dispatch their entire army if they hope to vanquish the man they set out to kill, Miyamoto Musashi (Tak Sakaguchi). Then, the film commits to a 77-minute single take action sequence, in which Musashi does away with hundreds of swordsmen.

You can see plenty of seams in the staging of this long sequence which point to Continue reading Review: Crazy Samurai Musashi — Fantasia Festival 2020

The Old Guard (2020) Movie Review

The Old Guard begins in a relatively familiar place. An elite, covert mercenary group gets hired by an independent party to complete a run-of-the-mill job, only to find that they’ve been set up. It is the standard fare for the genre. To be fair, of course, the opening shot of the film is the leader of this crew, known as Andy (Charlize Theron), apparently lying dead on the ground, her body littered with bullet holes, so it isn’t all generically familiar.

Stills courtesy of Netflix

It turns out that this team of mercenaries has been around longer than Continue reading The Old Guard (2020) Movie Review

Becky (2020) Movie Review

Becky, from directors Cary Murnion and Jonathan Milott, is about as barebones as a thriller can get.  A group of White Supremacist prison inmates are being transported down a county road when they spring a plan to break out. The mastermind behind the plan, Dominick (Kevin James), leads them to a lake house in search of a mysterious key. But they come up against the obstacle of a family spending the weekend at the house—a father (Joel McHale), his daughter, Becky (Lulu Wilson), his girlfriend (Amanda Brugel) and her son (Isaiah Rockcliffe).

The bloody mayhem that unfolds from this straightforward plot is Continue reading Becky (2020) Movie Review

The Last Days of American Crime (2020) Movie Review

Olivier Megaton’s The Last Days of American Crime is an ugly film. It is ugly in form, it is ugly in story, and it is ugly in spirit. The basic premise, that the government has found a way to crack down on crime by developing a signal that interrupts the brain in the process of a crime, is background noise to a dreary, hollow caper led by ugly, dour characters.

Based on a graphic novel, this premise is reminiscent of a Minority Report or an A Clockwork Orange, and in theory it is Continue reading The Last Days of American Crime (2020) Movie Review

Did Audiences Get Killing Them Softly (2012) Wrong? — Diamonds in the Rough

Diamonds in the Rough (DitR, /dɪ’tər/) takes some of the most derided, divisive, controversial, financially catastrophic, and meme-worthy movies and tries to find the silver lining. Bad movies don’t always start as bad ideas, and flops aren’t always flop-worthy. DitR seeks to find the good within the bad, because the world could use some positivity. And when all else fails, making fun of bad movies is oh-so satisfying.

In this installment, we take a look at Andrew Dominik’s Killing Them Softly (2012). [Caution: Spoilers Ahead].

Killing Them Softly

  • Rotten Tomatoes: 73% (226 critics) | 44% (121,417 user ratings)
  • Metacritic: 64 (42 critics) | 6.1/10 (290 user ratings)
  • IMDb: 6.2/10 (128,652 user ratings)
  • Letterboxd: 3.3/5 (27,687 user ratings)
  • CinemaScore: F

 

CinemaScore is a company that gauges initial reactions to newly released films. Representatives in major cities will distribute survey cards to audiences on the opening night of a movie. From this, they calculate a letter rating to represent opening day audience reception. In the history of CinemaScore (the company was founded in 1979), 21 films have received Continue reading Did Audiences Get Killing Them Softly (2012) Wrong? — Diamonds in the Rough

Arkansas (2020) Movie Review

Contemporary crime films are often compared to the defining antecedents to contemporary crime—critical hits from the 1990s like Goodfellas and Pulp Fiction. Generally, these are sites of contention in which it becomes easy to tear down a new film by being too directly inspired by previous, successful films. There is something to these comparisons, given a film like Pulp Fiction, which helped ring in a golden age of independent films in the 1990s, directly influenced a number of films. But this form of criticism by comparison—I’m guilty of doing it often—can come across as limiting and exclusionary in an unproductive way.

With this in mind, I am in something of a bind. Arkansas, which is due to be released on VOD on May 5, feels like an attempt to Continue reading Arkansas (2020) Movie Review

Birds of Prey (2020) Movie Review

At the start of Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn), the latest film from DC, Harleen Quinzel (Margot Robbie) is no longer with her beau the Joker. She is heartbroken and alone, and decides to mend wounds by drinking until belligerent. While in this state, she lets slip that she is no longer associated with the “Clown Prince of Crime,” a figure who strikes fear into the hearts of even Gotham’s most unhinged criminals. Without the Joker keeping them at bay, most everyone in the city wants to get even with Harley Quinn.

Along the way, there is also a MacGuffin involving a priceless diamond being stolen, a diamond whose owner is the megalomaniac Continue reading Birds of Prey (2020) Movie Review

The Gentlemen (2020) Movie Review

In 2019, Guy Ritchie’s live action Disney adaptation of Aladdin was released. It is a film with no discernible trace of Ritchie’s authorial stamp. He follows Aladdin up with The Gentlemen, a film that is so readily a return to Ritchie’s crime film origins that it almost appears as a parody.

The film is framed by a somewhat fidgety, gift of gab private eye named Fletcher (Hugh Grant), who has Continue reading The Gentlemen (2020) Movie Review