ABC Film Challenge – Catch Up 2019 – V – The Vanishing (2018) Movie Review

Director: Kristoffer Nyholm

Writer: Joe Bone, Celyn Jones (Screenplay)

Starring: Peter Mullan, Gerard Butler, Emma King, Gary Lewis, Connor Swindells, Ken Drury, Gary Kane

Plot: Three lighthouse keepers on the remote Flannan Isles find a hidden trunk of gold, leading to their mysterious disappearance.


Tagline – What’s left when the light goes out?

Runtime: 1 Hour 47 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Solid Mystery

Story: The Vanishing starts as the two experienced lighthouse keepers Thomas (Mullan) and James (Butler) take rookie keeper Donald (Swindells) to Flannan Isles for their stint on the island. The three go through the normal actions until after a storm washes up a small boat, with a trunk, giving Donald a fight against the lone survivor.

When the men open the trunk they learn it is filled with gold, Donald and James want to keep the gold, while Thomas isn’t willing to risk his career, even though he comes up with a plan to get the gold back to the mainland.

Thoughts on The Vanishing

Characters – Thomas is the head lighthouse keeper, he has 25-years of experience and is willing to give the youngster a chance on his team, he has been through his own tragic events with his job being the only thing he has left, he will remain calm through all the events, knowing how the defuse the situations the men find themselves going through. James has been part of the team for years, he has always struggled for money back home, though he will keep his family safe with his job. Donald is the youngster member of the team, he isn’t used to the sea environment and finds himself facing challenges he shouldn’t do, when the events start happening. These characters are based on the real people, that nobody heard from again, this is hard to tell just how much would have been turned into more drama or how much would have been real.

PerformancesPeter Mullan is great in the leading role, he shows all the calm required for this role with everything that is going on around him. Gerard Butler gives one of his better serious roles, not playing into the action hero he has become more famous for. Connor Swindells is strong through the film too showing the loose cannon side of his character too.

StoryThe story here is based on a true event of three lighthouse keepers that disappeared, what we see is the story created around what happened to these men, as they discover a trunk of gold and must protect it from the people that claim it is theirs. By basing this on a true story, it does make it difficult because it is looking at a mystery about what did happen, even though nobody really knows what happened. The only thing we do know, is that the men disappeared during their stint on the island. The story here shows how they wanted to fight to keep a treasure washed up on the island and how the original owners came back in search of their own gold, dealing with the consequences of actions over anything else. There is nothing supernatural, it is all about human actions, reaction and emotions.

Crime/MysteryThe crime side of the film shows how the three lighthouse keepers are left pondering what would happen to them after their actions and whether they would be able to keep the gold, a lot of character driven to what they are afraid off if they return, living with what they did. The mystery should be more front and centre, this is meant to be about what happened to these men on their time spent on the island, only we don’t focus on that or investigating what might have happened.

SettingsThe film does use the setting of a remote island of the coast of Scotland to create moments of tension as the idea that these men are dealing with a lot of emotional factors, means they have nowhere to go for help and between them, they aren’t always helping each other out.


Scene of the Movie – They are on the island.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Not really solving the mystery of what happened to these men in real life.

Final Thoughts This is an interesting look at characters who would be trapped on an island alone for a stretch of time, when it comes to treasure and consequences, only it doesn’t seem to solve the mystery of what really happened.

Overall: Interesting Character Study.

Bad Boys for Life (2020) Movie Review

Director: Adil El Arbi, Bilall Fallah

Writer: Chris Bremner, Peter Craig, Joe Carnahan (Screenplay)

Starring: Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, Alexander Ludwig, Vanessa Hudgens, Joe Pantoliano, Kate Del Castillo, Jacob Scipio

Plot: The Bad Boys Mike Lowrey and Marcus Burnett are back together for one last ride in the highly anticipated Bad Boys for Life.


Tagline – Ride Together. Die Together.

Runtime: 2 Hours 3 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Absolute Blast

Story: Bad Boys for Life starts as we hit a new personal landmark for Marcus Burnett (Lawrence), he has become a grandfather, considering retirement once again, Mike Lowrey (Smith) doesn’t want him to retire and after he is shot in a drive by, by a vengeful Armando (Scipio) life flies by.

Mike wanting to hunt his attempted killer, must reluctantly work with a new department known as AMMO run by his ex-girlfriend Rita (Nunez) to learn who is behind this and why has he become targeted.

Thoughts on Bad Boys for Life

Characters – Mike Lowrey is still the playboy we know from the first two films, he actually even runs from the new baby showing he fear of commitment once again, he gets shot, only just surviving and comes back with hate in his blood, wanting to break every rule in the book, he must look into his own past to learn who his want to be assassin is. Marcus Burnett has become a Grandfather, now he wants to retire for good and after Mike’s shooting he follows through, only he is bored with his retirement and reluctantly helps Mike look into the case, getting all of the laughs along the way. Isabel is the escaped convict who has targeting Mike with her son doing her dirty work, she is known for believing in the dead, with her son willing to do anything for her. Armando is the son of Isabel who will do everything his mother askes him to, to get revenge for his father’s death, becoming the deadliest enemy that the bad boys have come up against

PerformancesWill Smith does take more of the centre stage this time around, but he does an excellent job, giving one of his best performances in years, if not decades. Martin Lawrence does steal the show here, he gets the laughs in every single scene, as the pair just have the chemistry producers pray to have on screen. Kate del Catillo makes for a great villain, being different to what we have seen before, while Jacob Scipio is wonderful as the deadly fighter, who will do anything for his mother.

StoryThe story here continues the adventures of the bad boy detectives in Miami, with one facing life of death and the other looking to his future away from the force. This might well be the most personal of the stories, the pair have been through. The continuing life growing situations Marcus goes through works wonderfully for the comedy side of the film, while Mike has a more intense storyline, which feels like it could be more for a vendetta based movie, even though he shows how the balance the law with the work. The story keeps us wanting to see the motivation behind why Mike is being targeted, while showing us just how the two senior detectives will need to embrace a younger approach to fighting crime.

Action/Comedy/CrimeThe action in this film is a nice mix of car chases, fight scenes and a big spectacle ending which continues to build up the stakes as the shoot out goes on. The crime side of the film doesn’t focus on the drug world this time, it is a criminal’s revenge mission against people they believed wronged them, which is different and nice to see. The comedy is the best in the franchise here with Martin Lawrence getting most of the laughs, while we do get a couple of generational laughs along the way too.

SettingsKeeping the film set mostly in Miami is good for the series, it is where the cops operate in, we do see them travel for the final battle, which is no different than the last one.


Scene of the Movie – Hotel fight.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – It does feel like a better story than one of Will Smith’s recent films.

Final Thoughts This is a blast, so much fun with Smith and Lawrence hitting out the park with their performances.

Overall: Most Fun at the Cinema This Year.

ABC Film Challenge – Catch-Up 2019 – M – Miss Bala (2019)

Director: Catherine Hardwicke

Writer: Gareth Dunnet-Alcocer (Screenplay)

Starring: Gina Rodriguez, Anthony Mackie, Ismael Cruz Cordova, Aislinn Derbez, Matt Lauria, Damian Alcazar, Ricardo Abarca

Plot: Gloria finds a power she never knew she had when she is drawn into a dangerous world of cross-border crime. Surviving will require all of her cunning, inventiveness, and strength. Based on the Spanish-language film.


Tagline – Ordinary Becomes Extraordinary.

Runtime: 1 Hour 44 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Miss Congeniality 3?

Story: Miss Bala starts when makeup artist Gloria (Rodriguez) visits her friend Suzu (Rodlo) in Mexico only for a night out to end up with a shoot out and Gloria finding herself being dragged into the criminal world by Lino (Cordova) threatening to kill her and Suzu if he doesn’t help.

Gloria is also recruited by the DEA and she is caught in the middle of both worlds trying to decide what is best to do, while she just wants to keep her loved ones safe.

Thoughts on Miss Bala

Characters – Gloria is a simple make up artists that is always dreaming of getting higher up the business, she has friends both sides of the American border, which sees her visiting Mexico a lot, including seeing her best friend. She gets caught up in the middle of a shoot out and becomes the target for the Mexican cartel who want her to help them transfer across the border. She needs to do what she can to remain alive, whether it be illegal or not. Lino is the runner that has the ruthless gang that forces Gloria into working for him, he offers the most human emotions of the people trying to push her around. Jimmy is one of the connections on the American side, he believes there is a problem within the gang.

PerformancesGina Rodriguez does a solid enough job in the leading role, though it does seem like she doesn’t know this world is happening in her character. Anthony Mackie does feel more like a cameo that an important role in the film. Ismael Cruz Cordova is the best performer in the film

StoryThe story here follows a makeup artist that gets drawn into a criminal world where she is forced to complete illegal actions to make sure her friends are kept safe, while learning more about the corruption within the world she has been thrown into. This does show us how one person can be thrown into a world they know nothing about, while it also shows us just how the world is both corrupt and one that can swallow people whole if they don’t fight back in their own way. We do only learn what is happening through the eyes of Gloria, which helps keep certain parts more of mystery, though being a remake, it does seem to lose a big part of the story.

Action/CrimeThe action is just wild shootouts which don’t feel like they are as tactical as both sides think not being the most entertaining, while the crime world is everything people imagine the cartels to be.

SettingsThe film does show us just how close the two worlds could be despite being two different countries.


Scene of the Movie – Final shootout.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – We have seen this story before.

Final Thoughts This is an unimaginative action crime that we have seen before, it doesn’t reach any levels of intensity which it should, with the performances just not making the film any better.

Overall: Basic Action.

The Mule (2018) Movie Review

Director: Clint Eastwood

Writer: Nick Schenk (Screenplay) Sam Dolnick (Article)

Starring: Clint Eastwood, Bradley Cooper, Taissa Farmiga, Dianne Wiest, Michael Pena, Austin Freeman, Laurence Fishburne

Plot: A ninety-year-old horticulturist and Korean War veteran turns drug mule for a Mexican cartel.

Runtime: 1 Hour 56 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Simple & Enjoyable

Story: The Mule starts as Earl Stone (Eastwood) a horticulturist that has spend too much of his life on the road away from his family, missing the major events in his family’s life. After he doesn’t cope with the changes in the market, he is left with nothing and looking like failing his granddaughter Ginny (Farmiga), only for her fiancée Mike (Freeman) offer him a chance to just drive.

With Earl taking the job, it turns out he has been transporting drugs, with Agent Colin Bates (Cooper) and Agent Trevino (Pena) trying to track down anyone smuggling drugs across the border. How long can Earl keep this up before he gets caught, even though he is spending the money on helping the community.

Thoughts on The Mule

Characters – Earl is a horticulturist, he has spent his whole life in this business, which has seen him sacrifice major family events, making him distant to most of his family. He loses his job and is given a chance to become a driver for a cartel, which he soon becomes the most successful in the industry he even gives the money back to the community he has seen struggle for years. Mary is the ex-wife that has finally become tired of the let downs that Earl has left the family with. Ginny is the granddaughter that has been promised money and doesn’t care as long as her grandfather is willing to be there for her on the big days. Agent Bates is fresh to the force he is tasked to try and stop the smuggling and spends most of the time trying to learn about the new mysterious mule for the cartel.

PerformancesClint Eastwood is a joy to watch in this film, he comes off like an everyday older person that just wants to be willing to help people around his life, even though he is filled with regret about his family life. Bradley Cooper doesn’t really get too much time to shine or do anything in his role, while the rest of the cast don’t seem to get that much time to show off their characters.

StoryThe story here that follows a retirement aged, he has worked his whole life and ends up becoming a drug mule for a cartel, which sees him becoming one of the most wanted men in America. This is based on a real man that took this role because he enjoyed driving, he isn’t like anybody else they have worked for, but his style makes him harder to track down. The story does use the themes of regretting losing time in life which is clear in the behaviour from Earl along the way. We do have a few plot holes with how the cartel carry out their jobs, because this just seems to end, without any consequences, why would they give up the success they were having too.

CrimeThe crime side of the film does feel like just somebody casually taking part in the drug mule business, he is only ever put to a test once he needs to decide his own future.

SettingsThe film uses the settings to show the locations that Earl stops along the way, which does make him harder to track.


Scene of the Movie – The last run.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Nothing seems to happen to the cartel.

Final Thoughts This is an easy to watch crime story that shows just how one person can casually commit crimes without anybody noticing them.

Overall: Easy Watch.

Mean Streets (1973)

Director: Martin Scorsese

Writer: Martin Scorsese, Mardik Martin (Screenplay)

Starring: Robert De Niro, Harvey Keitel, David Proval, Amy Robinson, Richard Romanus, Cesare Danova, Victor Argo

Plot: A small-time hood aspires to work his way up the ranks of a local mob.


Tagline – You don’t make up for your sins in church. You do it in the streets.

Runtime: 1 Hour 52 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Scorsese 101

Story: Mean Streets starts as we follow small time criminals, Charlie (Keitel) and his boys Michael (Romanus), Tony (Proval) and Johnny Boy (De Niro) as they go through their normal days of threatening people for money and trying to reclaim the money the loaned out, all while doing their wheeling and dealing.

Charlie is trying to get his men involved in bigger jobs, despite the local crime bosses not liking all of his work, we follow them to see what they will do to stay relevant in this criminal world.

Thoughts on Mean Streets

Characters – Charlie is the ambitious criminal businessman, he mainly does small robberies with his crew and follows this up with scuffles in bars, he has dreams of moving up the ranks of the criminal underworld with his crew and this is his chance to make that happen. Johnny Boy is the reckless partner in crime for Charlie, he is usually the first one to swing a punch, though he can finish without anything stopping him. Tony is another member of the crew, he owns a bar and doesn’t want any illegal activities happening in his bar. Teresa is the girl next door and partner of Charlie, he reputation puts Charlie’s rise to power in doubt.

PerformancesRobert De Niro and Harvey Keitel are both wonderful in the leading role, showing the tough nature his character requires to become a threat in the film. The rest of the cast all feel like they are part of this criminal world too.

StoryThe story follows two criminals trying to put themselves on the map within the criminal world, trying to impress the local gangster, which sees them finding themselves getting in more trouble than it is worth. This story does show the old school criminal activity world which sees how the people in this world are trying to make a name for themselves by impressing others, we mostly follow them around the city as they try to cause troubles and stop anything getting out of hand, though it isn’t that much to deal with.

CrimeThe crime side of the film puts us into the underworld that the characters will be operating in.

SettingsThe film is set in Brooklyn that shows that we are in a tough neighbourhood where the criminals will always be fighting for control.


Scene of the Movie – Pool hall hustle.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Not that much going on.

Final Thoughts This is a typical crime world film that shows how criminals are all operating through the film.

Overall: Simple and basic crime film.