Wind River (2017)

Director: Taylor Sheridan

Writer: Taylor Sheridan (Screenplay)

Starring: Jeremy Renner, Elizabeth Olsen, Graham Greene, Gil Birmingham, Kelsey Asbille

 

Plot: An FBI agent teams with a town’s veteran game tracker to investigate a murder that occurred on a Native American reservation.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Contender for Film of the Year

 

Story: Wind River starts as we meet Cory Lambert (Renner) a hunter hired to take out predators in the Wyoming vast landscapes, his latest job is to search for lions hunting living stock but his tracks for these predators leads him to a gruesome discovery of Natalie’s (Asbille) frozen body. Cory brings in Native American Sheriff Ben (Greene) who brings in FBI agent Jane Banner (Olsen) to help with the investigation.

The three work together as Cory’s own experience of losing a daughter helps him connect with victims family, his ability to track predators and knowing what it is like to be an outsider to the Native American community helps the new outside Jane who doesn’t get the best help from the locals but together they will look to get to the bottom of this horrific crime.

 

Thoughts on Wind River

 

Characters – Cory is a hunter for hire to eliminate predators in the open land, he is the best tracker in the area but is also haunted by the death of his own teenage daughter, when he discovers one of her old friends body he must work with FBI agent Jane to discover the truth while being the only one that connect with the victim’s family. FBI Agent Jane Banner is the nearest agent to the crime, she isn’t prepared for what she discovers in the environment but is determined to find out the truth even if the locals don’t want to help along the way.

PerformanceJeremy Renner gives his best performance of his career to date here where you are just wanting to see more from his character because he is that interesting. Elizabeth Olsen is great here too showing how she can do the smaller films with ease.

StoryThe story is following a crime that needs to be solved where we see Native American community not being as accepting to outsiders making solving the crime more difficult. The story shows how bleak the world these characters live in and the unfolding of the truth is engaging pulling us into want to learn the truth. This is a slow burning story but you just want to keep watching each and every scene.

Crime/MysteryThe crime side of the story is investigating of the body being found, it could be murder but the cause of death isn’t murder, this also adds to the mystery of the film as we are left to see how everything unfolds.

SettingsThe settings are fantastic viewing with the mountain range looking breath taking but also show the distant world between the Native American people and the modern world.

Scene of the Movie – The truth

That Moment That Annoyed Me This is hard to find something I didn’t like.

Tagline – Nothing is harder to track than the truth

Final ThoughtsThis is an easy contender for film of the year even could been an early pick for Best Picture, it has the best acting performance of the year to date and is a must watch for the crime thriller fans.

 

Overall: Brilliant film and contender for film of the year.

Rating

 

 

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Cold Moon (2017)

Director: Griff Furst

Writer: Griff Furst, Jack Snyder (Screenplay) Michael McDowell (Novel)

Starring: Josh Stewart, Christopher Lloyd, Frank Whaley, Candy Clark, Robbie A Kay, Chester Rushing, Rachele Brooke Smith

 

Plot: In a sleepy southern town, the Larkin family suffers a terrible tragedy. Now the Larkin’s are about to endure another: Traffic lights blink an eerie warning, a ghostly visage prowls in the streets, and graves erupt from the local cemetery in an implacable march of terror . . . And beneath the murky surface of the river, a shifting, almost human shape slowly takes form to seek a terrible vengeance 

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Enjoyable Original Crime Thriller

 

Story: Cold Moon starts in our small southern town, Margaret Larkin doesn’t return home leaving her grandmother Evelyn (Clark) and brother Jerry (Rushing) desperately seeking help from the Sheriff Hale (Whaley) to figure out where she could have gone, we do see her brutal murder by a masked attacker and once the body is discovered Evelyn can’t control her grief.

With secrets coming out about 16-year-old Margaret, Sheriff Hale must investigate the truth about what happened which includes the suspects from around the town, bank manager Nathan Redfield (Stewart), his father James (Lloyd) being the suspects Evelyn wants to blame but the truth will come out once the ghostly spirit returns to haunt the town.

 

Thoughts on Cold Moon

 

Characters – Nathan Redfield has followed in his father’s footsteps becoming a banker, he is however ruthless with the clients and instantly becomes Evelyn’s prime suspect. Evelyn Larkin is the grandmother who must deal with the horrifying truth that her granddaughter was murdered. She believes it was Nathan that did it as part of his way to reclaim the money his bank it owned. Sheriff Ted Hale is the man that must investigate the crime that holds little leads but he must find a way to use his knowledge of the town for answers. James Redfield is Nathan’s father, a respected man in the town that many have always looked at as an example.

PerformanceJosh Stewart has become one of the names to watch in horror in recent years and this is no different, he adds another layer to what he is capable off here. Candy Clark is good through the film as is Frank Whaley who is always a go to guy in supporting roles. The biggest disappointment comes from the small role for Christopher Lloyd, he isn’t bad in his performance but you do wish you could have seen more of him.

StoryThe story here starts out like you would expect, a grisly murder that opens the doors to a game of who did it. The story could have easily followed that path but we end up going in a different direction, learning the killer and watching how they must deal with the supernatural side effects or the murder. This is a fresh look at this style of movie and one that does keep us on edge from the start to the finish.

Crime/HorrorThe crime side of this story could have just been the investigation of the murder and to give the only negative from this film, it would the lack of actual investigation of the crime. The horror in the film shows how the killer is haunted by the spirit of their victim.

SettingsThe small town setting shows us just how connected everybody involved in the film is, how they would be investigating friends and even family for the crime that occurred.

Special EffectsThe effects are all used well with the graveyard scene and the way the victim’s ghost seems to be cycling whenever she is seen all add to the moments in the film.

Scene of the Movie – Graveyard scene.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Wasting Christopher Lloyd.

Final ThoughtsThis is a very impressive crime horror thriller that does take things in a very different direction than what you would expect which only makes it feel original.

 

Overall: One of the highlights of the crime horror thriller genre.

Rating

 

 

Straight Outta Compton (2015)

straightDirector: F Gary Gray

Writer: Jonathan Herman, Andrea Berloff (Screenplay) S Leigh Savidge, Alan Wenkus, Andrea Beroff (Story)

Starring: O’Shea Jackson Jr, Corey Hawkins, Jason Mitchell, Neil Brown Jr, Aldis Hodge, Marlon Yates Jr, R Marcos Taylor, Carra Patterson, Alexandra Shipp, Paul Giamatti

 

Plot: The group NWA emerges from the mean streets of Compton in Los Angeles, California, in the mid-1980s and revolutionizes Hip Hop culture with their music and tales about life in the hood.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Important but Long Bio-Pic

 

Story: Straight Outta Compton starts by introducing us to all our five main players and where they are at their life early on Ice Cube (Jackson Jr), Eazy-E (Mitchell), DJ Yella (Brown Jr) and MC Ren (Hodge), each one of these dreams of being more and they all have talent but the neighbourhood they are in makes this difficult for them. Dr Dre (Hawkins) is the well-respected popular rapper from the neighbourhood who continues to live around looking for new music.

When Eazy-E meets Jerry Heller (Giamatti) he offers to take a chance on the NWA promising to take them to the main stream. With NWA taking the world by storm we see the early divides within the group as they all look to make something for themselves but Gangster Rap becomes the biggest thing in America.

The rivalries between the crew becomes clear when Ice Cube goes solo and the rest of the NWA learns that not everything is as clear as they believe it to be as they all want to become the main attraction in the industries which will lead to devastating consequences.

Straight Outta Compton is a film that surrounded the Oscars as one of the missed opportunity to be diverse but watching it I found myself thinking it didn’t deserve to be in the Oscar contention. This doesn’t help that I am not a big fan of the style of music or the attitude this can give show people from the neighbourhood to be. The other use of the ‘N’ word throughout the film gives us what can be seen as the problem with a racial divide. The story off the rise of a small-time rap group is interesting and seeing how they got divided but remain respectful but are the only ones who know what they need to do to get out of the trouble making neighbourhood.

The acting is all top notch from what is nearly all an unknown cast at the time in the NWA roles even with the heavyweight performance from Giamatti ones again. I will say this film is too long because we spend well over an hour just dealing with the parties but the interesting side of the story comes from the divide and consequences between these now icons of music.

 

Overall: Great look into the world even if it is over glamorising certain points of the careers.

Ratingcard

 

 

Franchise Weekend – Fast & Furious (2009)

Director: Justin Lin

Writer: Chris Morgan (Screenplay) Gary Scott Thompson (Characters)

Starring: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster, Michelle Rodriguez, John Ortiz, Laz Alonso, Gal Gadot, Sung Kang

 

Plot: Brian O’Conner, back working for the FBI in Los Angeles, teams up with Dominic Toretto to bring down a heroin importer by infiltrating his operation.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Back on Track

 

Story: Fast & Furious starts as Dominic (Diesel) is back with Letty (Rodriguez) and Han (Kang) living in the Dominic Republic stealing petrol for a living with the team. When the latest job goes wrong the team scatter with Letty being killed back in LA, while Dom is in Panama.

Brian (Walker) is now in the FBI and once again needs to find a way into a street racing circuit to take down a Mexican crime boss. Dom returns home also on the warpath eventually teaming up with Brian going undercover within the street racing circuit once again.

The job is working for Campos (Ortiz) who answers to Braga who is running drugs across the border but can they really work together?

 

Thoughts on Fast & Furious

 

Characters/PerformanceBrian is now a Fed, which I guess makes sense after what happened in 2 Fast 2 Furious, he still has the desire to be a street racer and gets this chance working with Dom. Dom is now on the run but risks everything to come back to help get revenge on the people responsible for killing Letty. Campos and Fenix are all solid villains but never dominating like needed to make them different from what we have seen before.

Performance wise, Walker and Diesel work great together even if the film is slightly more focused on Dom’s character, the two get to poke a bit of fun about things that happened in the first film. The other performances are all good without being truly stand out.

StoryBringing the original popular characters back helps this story, we have both men coming back to take down the crime boss because we needed the respectful enemies to become friends, taking a character’s life does drive the story too because it shows we could lose someone in this franchise now too. The core story is all what we have seen before, let’s do a crime, take down crime boss and drive away.

Action/Crime/Thriller The car chases are once again bigger and better than last time out which helps the films new direction, the crime story is now our heroes taking down criminals by breaking the law but it works.

SettingsBringing the story back to LA is good because now we see the effects of the previous films on our characters, the secret tunnel across the border also adds to the action.

Special EffectsThe special effects are what we have come to expect from the franchise and they all work well this time around.

Final ThoughtsThis is where the franchises got back on tracks because we get to see Dom and Brian back together working on the case to take down the crime boss, I see this as the beginning of what we know as the best chapters of the franchise.

 

Overall: Fun, mad and over the top, just the way we like it.

Rating

 

 

Franchise Weekend – The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006)

Director: Justin Lin

Writer: Chris Morgan (Screenplay)

Starring: Lucas Black, Shad Moss, Brian Tee, Sung Kang, Nathalie Kelley, Leonardo Nam, Brian Goodman, JJ Sonny Chiba

 

Plot: A teenager becomes a major competitor in the world of drift racing after moving in with his father in Tokyo to avoid a jail sentence in America.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: The Weak Link

 

Story: The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift starts as we meet typical quiet high school student Sean Boswell (Black) who gets tricked into a street race against the jock Clay (Bryan), this leads to all involved getting arrests and injured. Punishment for Sean it movie to Tokyo, Japan to live with his father Major Boswell (Goodman). Making friends the way only Sean can he finds Twinkie (Moss) who shows him the underground street racing where they don’t just race, they drift. It also doesn’t take long for Sean to make enemies with the best drifter in town D.K. (Tee) with Han (Kang) wanting to see just how good Sean is.

Sean fails in this first race but this drives him to learn how to drift with Han showing him but D.K keeping his eyes on him as he goes to impress the Yakuza uncle of his.

 

Thoughts on The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift

 

Characters/PerformanceSean is randomly selected to be our new lead, he has no connection to the previous films and is a high school student always getting himself into trouble, he is from a broken home and happens to enjoy racing, he gets set to a new country and ends up having to prove to be different to his own father. DK is a hot-headed villain but is nothing but his temper gets himself into trouble and answers to his uncle. Neela is the love interest but nothing more. We get our first introduction to Han in this film but he is only the wiser supporting character.

Performance wise, Lucas Black is miss-cast because he looks so old for a teenager, it would be fair to say none of the performances are that great in this film Sung Kang is good as we get to learn about his character more but otherwise, no one famous enough is in this film.

StoryHigh schoolers street racing, well this film completely confuses me for storytelling because how do these kids especially the poor one in Sean afford street racing cars and insurance? Come on this is ridiculous. Throw into the mix the idea of the Yakuza’s I guess we get a real threat in the villain now, well I just couldn’t get into this story it doesn’t fit into the franchise and is clearly the worst.

Action/Crime/ThrillerThe only positive here, the race sequences are the best so far in the franchise, using the Yakuza’s doesn’t mean you have a good crime story because the only illegal actions in this film is the street racing, you are also not left on edge like before.

SettingsTokyo is a brilliant setting because it shows the different mindset for the street racing through the packed streets.

Special EffectsThis is another moment where the special effects are all you need them to be without being special in anyway.

Final ThoughtsThe story confuses but the race sequences are all fun, I couldn’t get my mind around how these high school kids are doing all this racing.

 

Overall: The worst in the franchise from the director who gave us the best too.

Rating