Category Archives: Action/Thriller

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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

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) Movie Review

There is something completely understandable and, to  an extent, forgivable about the slapdash, lumpy, and largely hollow pieces that shape the narrative of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. There is a distinct feeling, present from the opening scene of The Rise of Skywalker, that J.J. Abrams started this race a lap behind (Abrams was brought on late to the film after Disney parted ways with Colin Trevorrow).

It is a feeling that some higher power, whether it be Abrams or Kathleen Kennedy or whoever, decided to Continue reading Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) Movie Review

Gemini Man (2019) Movie Review

There is nothing particularly novel about the setup of Gemini Man. Will Smith plays Henry Brogan, a master assassin with 72 kills under his belt. He is on the verge of retirement, and the government organization that hires him, the Defense Intelligence Agency, sends the next great thing in assassination against him.

The first act is a thorough illustration of Brogan’s unmatched skill. He evades, he eviscerates, he saves. He exposes the young agent who has been tasked with surveilling him (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). He looks down the sights of plenty of guns (with the gun cocked at a super cool angle). Long story short, Continue reading Gemini Man (2019) Movie Review

The Lighthouse (2019) Movie Review

It may be cliched to refer to beautiful-looking films with the phrase “every frame is a painting,” but in the case of Robert Eggers’ latest, The Lighthouse, many of the shots are picturesque. The introduction of our two characters, lighthouse keepers Ephraim Winslow (Robert Pattinson) and Thomas Wake (Willem Dafoe), looks like a stoic portrait. The reverse shot that follows, depicting the lighthouse on the black ocean, looks like a Gothic landscape piece.

The shot compositions in The Lighthouse are the icing on the cake that is this film about the mental disintegration of the two men, who find themselves Continue reading The Lighthouse (2019) Movie Review

Review: First Love – Fantastic Fest 2019

Takashi Miike’s First Love is a love story, just in the loosest sense. It is also a film about addiction, allegiances, overcoming past trauma, and Yakuza violence. Yep, it’s a Yakuza crime film, but Miike layers this intensely-plotted crime story with humanity that perks up at the most unlikely times.

The plot involves a boxer with a brain tumor, a drug addict working as a prostitute to pay off her father’s debt, a cop who breaks bad in order to swindle two warring gangs over a bag of dope, and plenty of Continue reading Review: First Love – Fantastic Fest 2019