Robert De Niro Weekend – The Family (2013)

Director: Luc Besson

Writer: Luc Besson, Michael Caleo (Screenplay) Tonino Benacquista (Book)

Starring: Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer, Dianna Agron, John D’Leo, Tommy Lee Jones, Jimmy Palumbo

 

Plot: The Manzoni family, a notorious mafia clan, is relocated to Normandy, France under the Witness Protection Program, where fitting in soon becomes challenging, as their old habits die hard.


Tagline – Some call it organized crime. Others call it family.

Runtime: 1 Hour 51 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun Twist on the Mafia Movie

 

Story: The Family starts when the Manzoni family head into witness protection in Normandy, France, under the names, Fred (De Niro), Maggie (Pfeiffer), Belle (Agron) and Warren (D’Leo) where they must start new lives. The problem the family have, is that they keep getting themselves into troubles with their violent behaviour, which sees Robert Stansfield (Jones) needing to keep moving them around.

The family are also being hunted down by Fred’s former boss, who is the reason why he has gone into hiding which will see the family needing to improve their behaviour just to survive.

 

Thoughts on The Family

 

Characters – Fred Blake is a former Mafia leader that has gone into hiding after taking a deal, he is trying to remain calm for the most part, but his violent tendencies take over whenever things are not going his way, while he tries to write his memoirs. Maggie is the wife that has gotten used to the lifestyle, now she has got just as a dark side towards people that upset her. She is turning to religion for answers in her life once again. Belle and Warren are the teenage children that use their skills to stay ahead in school even if it means they show their own violent side too. Robert Stansfield is the agent that is trying to keep the family away from the spotlight, finding it more difficult because of their actions.

PerformancesRobert De Niro gets to poke fun at the idea that he was famous for his gangster roles and now needs to be put in a retirement age, where he is strict, smart and able to stay ahead of the game. Michelle Pfeiffer brings us the frustrated housewife that wants more normality in her life. Both Dianna Agron and John D’Leo bring us strong teenage character performances. Tommy Lee Jones is great too as an FBI agent that is struggling to keep the lid on everything.

StoryThe story follows a former Mafia family that have gone into hiding after giving up other members of the family to the authorities, the problem with the family, is that they are too violent and often bring attention to themselves, as they are still being hunted down. The idea that a Mafia family is living in the shadows only they can’t stay out of trouble, does feel original in how everything is executed. The number of times we have seen a Mafia story end with ‘they are not in the witness protection program’ without following the life they end up living. This almost feels like the next chapter that we have never gotten before because they will still be wanted for their action. Each of the family members does get their own issues to deal with too which makes them feel like real people too.

Comedy/CrimeThe comedy in the film comes from just seeing how the criminal fan acts once they are meant to be out of the criminal life, it does create laughs through the film.

SettingsThe film is set in a small Normandy village which shows the new life the family must adapt to after the life in New York City.


Scene of the Movie –
The showdown night.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The family must surely need to learn to act better with this world.

Final ThoughtsThis is a nice spin on the Mafia film, it gets plenty of laughs when it needs it, while trying to show the world could still be looking for them.

 

Overall: Fun twist.

Rating

 

 

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The Returned (2013)

Director: Manuel Carballo

Writer: Hatem Khraiche (Screenplay)

Starring: Emily Hampshire, Kris Holden-Ried, Shawn Doyle, Claudia Bassols, Melina Matthews, Barry Flatman, Olunike Adeliyi

 

Plot: In a post-zombie world, where the infected live normal lives, their retroviral drug is running out.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 38 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Smart Idea

 

Story: The Returned starts in a world which lost 100s of millions to a zombie outbreak, now however, there is a cure turning people into The Returned, who need to take a daily medication to remain human. Kate (Hampshire) work with the Returned searching for a longer term cure, but certain people in the world don’t want the zombies returned.

When the extremist groups start targeting The Returned, the race to find a cure intensifies and for Kate it becomes about saving her loved one Alex (Holden-Reid) one of the returned.

 

Thoughts on The Returned

 

Characters – Kate is one of the leading doctors in the field of searching for a complete cure for the Returned, her husband is one of them and she does believe that a cure is achievable if people work together, they problems comes when she gets targeted needing to go on the run. Alex is the husband to Kate, a guitar teacher that got infected trying to help somebody, he is one of the lucky ones that never turned, but he does need to stay on top of the medication to stop him from turning. He goes on the run with Kate while the storm passes over, though he is running low on his medication. We do have the couple that help Kate and Alex, the government figures that are trying to bring him down and the people who are just looking to survive.

PerformancesEmily Hampshire and Kris Holden-Reid do take the leading roles in this film, they are both solid enough in their roles with them both getting one or two scenes where they are great, but most is just seem basic scenes. The rest of the cast are basic too without anyone making any impact on the film.

StoryThe story here brings us into a new vision of a zombie world, one with a cure that has started to get back to normality, until the cure starts running out the world returns to chaos as the uninfected don’t want to be around people that could turn. Bringing this fresh look to a zombie story is interesting, it does borrow ideas from the Dead Rising video game, with the idea of a daily injection can keep the zombie virus at bay. The story does show the struggle between doing the right thing and doing the safe thing, because once the infected get out, there wouldn’t be a way to stop them. It does feel fresh, however it doesn’t play out as strongly as it should, the world seems to modern and undamaged from an outbreak which only disappoints.

Crime/Sci-FiThe crime side of the film shows us just how far people will go to survive in a world which is running out of resources of the cure to stop people turning into zombies. The sci-fi world shows us how people can be saved, though as mentioned it never feels lived in.

SettingsThe films biggest weakness is the settings, the city looks no different than our current one, but with 100s of millions of people dying from a zombie outbreak, the building wouldn’t look this clean and fresh.

Special EffectsTh effects are used to show the change, they are nothing new with most just being zombie turning make up which looks strong for the film.


Scene of the Movie –
The zones created.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The city looks to untouched from a disaster.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good idea for a zombie movie, it changes weak elements others have shown to give us a smart look at how the problem could be addressed.

 

Overall: Smart even if it does fail in places.

Rating

 

 

Blue Iguana (2018)

Director: Hadi Hajaig

Writer: Hadi Hajaig (Screenplay)

Starring: Sam Rockwell, Phoebe Fox, Ben Schwartz, Peter Ferdinando, Peter Polycarpou, Al Weaver, Robin Hellier

 

Plot: Ex-jailbirds Eddie and Paul are on parole and working in a New York diner. Their lives are a dead end. That is, until English lawyer Katherine Rookwood walks into the diner with an offer they can’t refuse.


Tagline – Mullets. Bullets. And One Gem of a Heist.

Runtime: 1 Hour 40 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Quirky Crime Comedy

 

Story: Blue Iguana starts when to ex-cons in New York Eddie (Rockwell) and Paul (Schwartz) are hired by a timid English lawyer Katherine (Fox) to do a job in England, it should be simple in their strength, only things don’t go to plan when local criminal Deacon (Ferdinando) gets involved throwing everything out the window.

To get revenge Katherine brings Eddie a new plan which will be a larger pay day and could set both sides up for life, can they pull off this job with their different mindsets.

 

Thoughts on Blue Iguana

 

Characters – Eddie is a thief out on parole working in a diner in New York, he is trying to go straight only for his latest job offer to take him across the sea to England. When it comes to making the deal, he is the smartest one of the pairing, he handles the combat better than anyone else on his team and is willing to say no if the deal doesn’t suit. Katherine is a timid lawyer that hires the two men to get a job done, she is strict with her rules and wants to get her own back on the people she is planning on stealing from, for some reason we have her eating in nearly every scene. Paul is the partner of Eddie, he is quicker to say yes, not knowing the art of the deal, he talks a lot more which can get them in trouble. Deacon is a local pub owner with plenty of criminal activities going on, he sports a proud mullet which sees him be aggressive towards anyone that fails him, even if he must answer to his own boss.

PerformancesSam Rockwell is front and centre of in this film, he is clearly the best part of the movie. Phoebe Fox is entertaining because she makes her character feel uncomfortable in the world she is entering, which adds the layers to her character. Ben Schwartz is meant to play a lot of comic relief, sometimes it works other times it just gets annoying. Peter Ferdinando makes the for villainous criminal with ease.

StoryThe story follows two Americans that get hired to complete a job in England which sees them put a team together to rob a diamond to help a timid lawyer getting her own back the mod boss that has put her through hell. This is a heist crime movie that does follow the traditions well, we try to give each character their own unique quirk which in certain moments does add to the comedy, in other times it just makes the story feel like it is dragging along. The world created is filled with the criminal world characters that does play into the story well, while seeing how each side operates gives us an insight into just how much it means to the characters involved.

Action/Comedy/CrimeThe action in the film follows how the crime gets completed which is mostly fights when needed, they do work and make sense, the criminal world we enter does show us how everybody operates. The comedy is the biggest hit or miss which is disappointing in most places.

SettingsThe film is set in London which gets a chance to bring us British gangster humour for the most part, it shows the shady locations criminals would act in.


Scene of the Movie –
The Tottenham references.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The relentless eating scenes.

Final ThoughtsThis is a fun easy to watch crime comedy that gets plenty of British humour going on throughout, it is simple enough when it comes to story which isn’t going the bring anything new to the heist genre.

 

Overall: Simple and enjoyable.

Rating

 

 

The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974)

Director: Joseph Sargent

Writer: Peter Stone (Screenplay) John Godey (Novel)

Starring: Walter Matthau, Robert Shaw, Martin Balsam, Hector Elizondo, Earl Hindman, James Broderick, Dick O’Neill

 

Plot: In New York, armed men hijack a subway car and demand a ransom for the passengers. Even if it’s paid, how could they get away?


Tagline – 1:23pm. Grand Central Station, New York. A packed commuter train is hijacked. A ransom is set – at one million dollars. The subway is a closed system. For the four hijackers, surely there is no way out. But they have a deadly plan.

Runtime: 1 Hour 44 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Tense 70’s Thriller

 

Story: The Taking of Pelham One Two Three starts when four man codenamed Blue (Shaw), Green (Balsam), Grey (Elizondo) and Brown (Hindman) hijack a New York subway train, they have demands, one million dollars or they will kill the hostages, Police LT Zachary Garber (Matthau) is left in charge of trying to negotiate the freedom of the passengers.

As the race against time continues to prepare the money we see just how far the hijackers will go for their money and just what is their motives for picking the train system to hijack, which should leave them little chance of escape.

 

Thoughts on The Taking of Pelham One Two Three

 

Characters – Lt Garber is trying to show off the New York subway system to the Japanese investment group, only for his day to turn into chaos, as he must work to protect the passengers on the train from the office, figuring out how to stay ahead of the ring leader. Blue is the man running the operations on board the train, he knows what he wants, how to get it done though he doesn’t trust his whole team. Green is the most trusted man working under Blue, he will not ask questions and will get the job done. Grey is one of the hijackers that Blue isn’t keen on, the newest member of the team which only draws attention to him.

PerformancesWalter Matthau in the leading role is strong, he brings a role that is only considered an everyday person to life, needing to stay ahead of the hijackers. Robert Shaw as the lead hijacker is strong through the film taking control of the situation well. When it comes to the rest of the cast we get strong performance that don’t make the biggest impact from all involved.

StoryThe story follows a group of hijackers that take over a New York subway train wanting money in exchange for passengers and the transport police officers that is trying to stop them. This does play into the ideas of just how people were committing hijackers during the 70’s, it shows how the cities will pay to save the lives of their citizens, it shows us the panic that would come over a city, with the location making everything around watching over the train difficult. We get the usual idea behind the robbery with the team not a smoothly operating as they should be.

Action/CrimeThe action in the film is mostly how the tactical approach is used to prepare for the attempts to take down the hijackers. This does show how the criminals are acting and have put a plan together.

SettingsThe film mostly is set on the train and with the station that the police are watching over the events preparing for the problem to be solved.


Scene of the Movie –
The escape plan.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The hostages are slightly annoying.

Final ThoughtsThis is a classic action crime thriller that did get a remake, certain parts haven’t aged that well, while others make it feel more raw.

 

Overall: Classic Action Thriller.

Rating

 

 

Killers Anonymous (2019)

Director: Martin Owen

Writer: Seth Johnson, Elizabeth Morris, Martin Owen (Screenplay)

Starring: Tommy Flanagan, Jessica Alba, Gary Oldman, Rhyon Nicole Brown, Tim McInnerny, Suki Waterhouse, Sam Hazeldine

 

Plot: A support group of killers is held regularly. The participants sit in a circle of trust and share their transgressions.


Tagline – Take It One Slay At A Time

Runtime: 1 Hour 35 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Not as Slick as it Thinks it is

 

Story: Killers Anonymous starts with the assassination attempt of a Senator, the assassins involved are going to a private support meeting which only contains fellow assassins, where the killers can talk about their murders, with the newest member of the group Alice (Brown) getting to meet the paranoid members.

When The Man (Oldman) learns that the assassination failed, he wants answers which see the different members of the support group trying to figure out who is to blame for their failures and needing to clean up the messes left behind.

 

Thoughts on Killers Anonymous

 

Characters – The Man is the assassin’s handler, he puts them in the right place and deals with things when things go wrong, he is on his latest operation which has a connection to everything going on. Markus is one of the more experienced assassins that is at the meeting, he isn’t happy with new faces arriving in his meeting. Alice is the mysterious new member at the meeting, she doesn’t say much which only makes the other assassin’s question who and why she is there. Jade is one of the assassins that works under the Man, she has made a mistake because of her own personal life, which has only annoyed The Man.

PerformancesThis movie does have a big cast and is one that is using the biggest names to try and sell the movie, Gary Oldman isn’t in the film that much, the same can be sad for Jessica Alba, Tommy Flanagan does get top billing even though he is only one of many in the support group, with only Rhyon Nicole Brown having anything part of mystery about her character.

StoryThe story here follows a group of killers that meet to discuss what happened to make the latest job go wrong, this is a regular occurrence, well the meetings are, but soon things start to unravel to show us just what is happening, why the new woman is in the meeting and what went wrong. This is where the story is trying to become a fancy slick mystery, but in reality it is failing to capture this on so many different levels, it is one of those crime mysteries which tries to make everything single moment mean something that could turn the story on its head, only to end up giving us too many characters to focus on, without giving us enough information to make the characters interesting enough to care about.

Action/Crime/MysteryThe action in this film is saved for two main fight sequences, which are almost blink and you miss them, while the crime world does show us just how the killers could operate, the mystery in the film is the highlight because we get to see just who could be trusted or who can’t be.

SettingsMost of the film is set in the one building, during the meeting and around the breaks, this does help contain the problem they are facing, only for it to not give us enough to see for what could be a bigger prospective film.


Scene of the Movie –
Church fight.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Too many assassins talking mostly nothing important.

Final ThoughtsThis is a film that believes it is one of the slickest of the year, it never gets close to being that and only ends up leaving us disappointed.

 

Overall: Gives killers a bad name.

Rating