Abstruse (2019) Movie Review

Director: Harley Wallen

Writer: Harley Wallen (Screenplay)

Starring: Tom Sizemore, Dennis Haskins, Jesi Jensen, Colleen Gentry, Clahoun Koenig, Harley Wallen, Jerry Hayes, Kris Reilly, Kaiti Wallen

Plot: Two young women get themselves into a very compromising situation that proves life changing, the aftermath is almost worse as all trails of the event has been wiped out and all of a sudden the tables turn and Amanda goes from being the victim to the accused. Amanda’s father decides to look into it only to realize it’s much bigger than they first anticipated. The story heads to a Good Vs. Evil showdown to settle the score.

Runtime: 1 Hour 57 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Intense

Story: Abstruse starts when the playboy son of a senator Justin Stevens (Reilly) is getting tired of the normal call girls, he wants to make his own movies, adult movies, he recruits a couple of barmaids Mindy (Johnson) and her friend Amanda (Kaiti Wallen) to be their first stars of their movie, only for the night to take a turn for the worse, when Mindy is killed.

With Justin turning to his father Senator Stevens (Haskins), the police detectives Caldwell (Harley Wallen) and Morris (Hayes) have nothing to go on, even starting to investigate her. Amanda has one last out for the truth, her father Max London (Sizemore) a known killer who will stop at nothing to learn the truth.

Thoughts on Abstruse

Characters – Max London is an ex-con, a killer that has been used in protection before, he has connections that will get a job done and after he is released from prison, he must help his daughter, he will use his skills to try and learn the truth and his connections to make sure the people pay. Senator Stevens has always financed his son’s hobbies, he has always looked to save face whenever his son has done wrong and this is no different. Amanda is one of the barmaids that goes from having a good time, to seeing her friend murdered, she becomes the target by the senator who wants to spin the story on her, her father is one of the only people that could help her out of the position which could see her end up dead. Justin in the son of a senator, he has always lived off his daddy’s money, with his latest desire to make adult movies, which soon turns into filming a murder, now he will do anything to cover it up and get pleasure from hurting people.

PerformancesTom Sizemore back on the bring screen in great to see and this is the right type of role for his strengths. Kris Reilly does make for a wonderful psychotic rich person, while Kaiti Wallen as the victim looks as helpless and desperate as her character would be. The while cast do a good job here, showing us how to make their character make an impact in the film.

StoryThe story here follows the cover up of a murder, which sees the witness becoming one of the main targets of the cover up, with everyone needing to figure out who is working for who. This story does start slower that we get with the introduction to all of the characters, but once every pieces get put on the table, we do get a crime thriller that becomes edge of your seat, we literally don’t know who will be working for who, will people stay on certain sides etc. we have an antagonist that only seems to get more twisted as they get pushed. We even get to see how themes of money being able to get people off crimes and even try and turn the tables on the witnesses.

Action/CrimeThe action in the film is more about the violent acts rather than being flying bullets or car chases, which it easily could be, the crime side of the film is much more complex as we see just how everything is unfolding between the characters after a crime has happened.

SettingsThe film does keep us in the city, which is filled with people that could do anything illegal to keep their names in the clear.


Scene of the Movie – The showdown.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Did nobody see a dead body on the streets for that long?

Final ThoughtsThis is a crime thriller that does keep you guessing which is wonderful to see with strong performances throughout.

Overall: Great Crime Thriller

Nicholas Hoult Weekend – Kill Your Friends (2015)

Director: Owen Harris

Writer: John Niven (Screenplay)

Starring: Nicholas Hoult, James Corden, Georgia King, Craig Roberts, Jim Piddock

 

Plot: An A&R man working at the height of the Britpop music craze goes to extremes in order to find his next hit.

Tagline – Lies. Betrayal. Murder. Just another day in the music industry.
Runtime: 1 Hour 43 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Not For Me

 

Story: Kill Your Friends starts in 1997 the heights of the Britpop movement, where we follow and A&R man Steven Stelfox (Hoult) who knows how to play the system to stay in power with the cocaine binges. He looks to stay on step ahead of his co-workers by pushing limits to what risks can be taken and even killing one that gets in his way.

When Steven hears the potential next hottest band, he goes to extreme lengths to make the deal happen racing against the fellow producers looking to get the next biggest catch in the industry.

 

Thoughts on Kill your Friends

 

Characters – Steven Stelfox is the music producer that tells us the story of how he was riding high in the industry during the Britpop era of music, how they spent more time on drugs than making music happen and how they will do anything to push another member of office under the bus to stay in their high life. The rest of the characters we meet are fellow producers, the bands and a cop trying to get to them bottom of a murder.

PerformancesNicholas Hoult takes the leading role in the film and is easily the most interesting part of this film, his breaking the fourth wall gets the laughs needed and by the end he is the only part of the film I enjoyed.

StoryThe story takes us into the world of the Britpop where we follow one man who is clearly out of his comfort zone with his job, where he has been blagging to job over knowing the role he should be performing. It isn’t the most interesting because you do feel like it is mostly fictional instead of trying to be a fact-based look at the world.

Comedy/CrimeThe comedy used in the film shows us just how far Steven will go to make things happen, while the crime side also show sus where he will go to keep his job.

SettingsThe films settings show us the party life the characters will be entering while trying to find the next hit band, it also shows how the characters are self-centred.


Scene of the Movie –
Steven goes too far.

That Moment That Annoyed Me it paints how bad the industry is.

Final ThoughtsThis isn’t the most interesting of films, it is a subject matter I personally don’t care for and it doesn’t paint anybody in the industry to be remotely nice.

 

Overall: Just one that doesn’t work for me.

Rating

 

 

Traffik (2018) Movie Review

Director: Deon Taylor

Writer: Deon Taylor (Screenplay)

Starring: Paula Patton, Omar Epps, Luke Goss, William Fichtner, Laz Alonso, Roselyn Sanchez, Priscilla Quintana, Missi Pyle

Plot: A couple off for a romantic weekend in the mountains are accosted by a biker gang. Alone in the mountains, Brea and John must defend themselves against the gang, who will stop at nothing to protect their secrets.


Tagline – Run. Fight. Survive.

Runtime: 1 our 36 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Shock Filled Thriller

Story: Traffik starts when the ambitious reporter Brea (Patton) loses her big story and potential her job right on the eve of her birthday, her boyfriend John (Epps) wants to surprise her and with his friend Darren (Alonso) he gets a romantic weekend planned.

Heading up to the mountain location the couple find themselves in a gas station where confrontation is quick to find them with help stranger Red (Goss) along with gangs, showing a potential large group of different enemies. The romantic weekend takes a turn, first with the appearance of Darren and his girlfriend Malia (Sanchez), but again by a deadly gang of human traffickers led by Red, who will kill to keep their secret.

Thoughts on Traffik

Characters – Brea is an ambitious reporter always taking her time researching a story before throwing it to her editor, this has seen her get herself into trouble, losing stories and potentially her job. In her personal life it is her birthday celebrating among friends with a romantic getaway being part of it. This getaway will give her the biggest story of her career, when she finds herself targeted by human traffickers who want her in their collection. John is the boyfriend that is getting nervous about the getaway as he is about to propose to Brea, he gets hooked up by the friend that will give them the location and will need to help Brea fight back against the people after them. Red is the leader of the human traffickers, he can charm, but he will show his deadly side if anybody gets in his way.

PerformancesPaula Patton is the star of the show here, she gives us a strong performance that shows us just how determined she is to survive. Omar Epps, Luke Goss and the rest of the cast all do a great job letting Paula shine through in this film.

StoryThe story here follows a couple on a romantic getaway that get targeted by human traffickers who want to keep their secret safe. This is a story that is designed the highlight the horrific crimes of human trafficking, not just in America, but worldwide. Away from the message behind everything, we do see the mix of a home invasion, chase and fightback elements of story telling putting a firm light on the idea that women will fight back, in this case Brea. The way everything unfolds is mostly predictable which is fine, nothing really hits the intensity levels wanted from the film.

Action/CrimeThe action is a mix of chases and fight between victim and captures, they are quick instead of being over the top. The crime side of the film does show us just how easily this operation can happen to the victims and how organised it can be run.

SettingsThe film is set in the mountain range outside California where the people can pick and choose who they take.


Scene of the Movie – Escape.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – One of the main twists is too predictable.

Final Thoughts This is a generic action thriller that does highlight an important message of the horrors of the human trafficking world that leaves Paula Patton to shine.

Overall: Important, but Generic.

The Irishman (2019) Movie Review

Director: Martin Scorsese

Writer: Steven Zaillian (Screenplay) Charles Brandt (Book)

Starring: Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, Anna Paquin, Jesse Plemons, Stephen Graham, Kathrine Narducci, Jack Huston

Plot: A mob hitman recalls his possible involvement with the slaying of Jimmy Hoffa.


Tagline – His story changed history.

Runtime: 3 Hours 29 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Just Another Gangster Movie

Story: The Irishman starts with Frank Sheeran (De Niro) recounting his time working under Russell Bufalino (Pesci) starting as a meat delivery man, a chance encounter with Russell brings them together. Russell was the guy that if anybody wanted something done, he would give the green light and expect it done.

Frank continued to rise working under the infamous Jimmy Hoffa (Pacino) who was in battle with the Kennedy’s who were trying to find a way to take down his unions, which does see Frank become the president of his own region.

Thoughts on The Irishman

Characters – Frank Sheeran is the narrator who is looking back through his life as he started as delivery driver before finding himself joining the mobs in the Italian neighbourhood, rising up the ranks from the bottom becoming one of the closest members of Jimmy Hoffa go to man, one of the most trusted hitmen in the mob. Jimmy Hoffa is the man that runs the unions, he has the attention of the Kennedy’s who have never trusted his business, he will always find a way to get his side of the story through without ever getting his hands dirty. He expects respect from everybody he deals with and will give it back, before he runs for office. Russell Bufalino is the one that gives Frank enter into the criminal world, a chance meeting opens the door and he will give the instructions Frank to follow. Peggy is the daughter of Frank that has grown up seeing his action become worse over the years.

PerformancesThe performances here are almost flawless, we get three of the greatest gangster movie performers in De Niro, Pacino and Pesci, you simply wouldn’t expect anything less from the three. The supporting cast is also wonderful, where once again the acting isn’t the weak part of the film.

StoryThe story here follows Frank Sheeran’s rise from delivery man to hitman under one of the leaders of the mobs through the 60’s and 70’s America. Most of the story is Frank recounting his career in the mob, seeing how he often watched the biggest moments in the background, only getting his hands dirty when he needs to. We do need to talk about the length of the film because there is a huge problem here, we have so many scenes we don’t really need, we do also end up going through the routine that every single gangster movie does, which just makes it feel like something we have seen before. The timeline does fill in the random deaths with a headline on screen, even if that person is only in one scene.

Biopic/CrimeWe do get to learn the life’s story of a notorious hitman through his own eyes, we see how he isn’t completely good, but he is loyal and always tries to do the right thing in the middle of the criminal world.

SettingsThe settings takes us back to the eras we are going through, we have the glamorous locations for parties, the small street locations that show us where the dirty work gets done and a location which means everything to Frank, where it all started.


Scene of the Movie – The taxis.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – It is just too long.

Final Thoughts This is a gangster film that gets heavyweight performances in a story that we have seen before that does seem to drag along for way too long.

Overall: Long Drawn Out Gangster Film.

The Good Liar (2019) Movie Review

Director: Bill Condon

Writer: Jeffrey Hatcher (Screenplay) Nicholas Searle (Novel)

Starring: Helen Mirren, Ian McKellen, Russell Tovey, Jim Carter, Mark Lewis Jones, Laurie Davidson

Plot: Consummate con man Roy Courtnay has set his sights on his latest mark: the recently widowed Betty McLeish, worth millions. But this time, what should have been a simple swindle escalates into a cat-and-mouse game with the ultimate stakes.


Tagline – Read between the lies

Runtime: 1 Hour 49 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Tense Thriller

Story: The Good Liar starts as we meet Roy Courtnay (McKellen) a con man that has mark out his latest target, a widow Betty McLeish (Mirren) who he gets to romance getting close before presenting his plan with his partner Vincent (Carter).

Betty is happy to welcome Roy into her life despite her grandson Stephen (Tovey) not being as welcoming, only for this job to become one that will finally put Roy against his toughest match.

Thoughts on The Good Liar

Characters – Betty is a widow teacher that has always been smart with her money, with her only remaining relative being a grandson that always makes sure she is safe, she is looking for companionship with Roy and wants to remain her own confident self while making decisions with her money. Roy is a conman that is always working on his latest scheme to steal people’s money, he targets wealthy widows with Betty being the latest target, he always presents himself as a kind gentleman and even with the deals he is doing, he does have a violent side to him which he only shows when he needs to, making him a very dangerous man. Stephen is the grandson of Betty, he is always wanting to make sure she is safe and not being taken advantage of, not taking to fondly to Roy. Vincent is the partner of Roy, he is there for any final deal playing the person that will broker the deals, he does try to play into the human side of Roy too.

PerformancesHelen Mirren and Ian McKellen are absolutely brilliant together, seeing the two legends dominate the screen through the film. Russell Tovey and Jim Carter do well through the film to try and keep up with the legends too.

StoryThe story here follows a veteran conman that is still working on his cons with his latest target being a widow, worth millions, only this time he is meeting his match. This is a con man story that shows how one man has turned it into an art never fearing the job will go wrong, but Betty isn’t going to be an easy target. The big problem with this story comes from the fact you know this needs to have a twist and you are just waiting to see if you can figure it out before it is revealed, luckily it is a wonderful twist which can make the story revisited to pick up on the little clues being left through the film. It might not break the wheel with how everything unfolds because it is one where he learn and want Roy to get what he deserves through the film.

ThrillerThe thriller side of the film plays into the conman mindset being explored through the film, we are kept guessing, while we don’t need to have too many intense scenes.

SettingsThe film uses the locations to the advantages, with busy life of London, which Roy enjoys, to the quiet life which always makes him uncomfortable.


Scene of the Movie – Underground meeting.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – You are left waiting for the twist to happen.

Final Thoughts This is one of the thrillers that can be enjoyed, it is smart, slick and has two legends of the industry shining through the film.

Overall: Entertaining Thriller.