ABC Film Challenge – 80s – Z – Above the Law (1988)

Above the Law is under Z because of the villain Zagon.

Director: Andrew Davis

Writer: Steven Pressfield, Ronald Shusett, Andrew Davis (Screenplay) Andrew Davis, Steven Seagal (Story)

Starring: Steven Seagal, Pam Grier, Henry Silva, Ron Dean, Daniel Faraldo, Sharon Stone

 

Plot: A former Special Operations Vietnam vet works as a Chicago cop, and uncovers C.I.A. wrongdoing.


Tagline – He was a covert agent trained in Vietnam. He has a master 6th degree black belt in Aikido… and family in the Mafia. He’s a cop with an attitude. 

Runtime: 1 Hour 39 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Typical Seagal Action

 

Story: Above the Law starts when retired special operations solider turned cop Nico (Seagal) starts investigating his latest case with his partner Jacks (Grier). The case sees him tracking down a drug dealer which as is Nico’s way, sees him going above the law with how he handles his dealings.

When Nico get told to walk away from the case, it leads to him going against the rules once again, making him a target for the real criminal Zagon (Silva) that starts by targeting his personal life.

 

Thoughts on Above the Law

 

Characters – Nico Toscani travelled the world to learn martial arts, joined the special operations unit in Vietnam before returning to be Chicago to be a cop. His methods go against the normal for any cop and his family is the most important thin in his life, if you mess with them he will come for you. Jacks is the partner of Nico, she does try to guide him to stay within the law, even if she knows he is right with his actions. Kurt Zagon is the criminal mastermind, he has all the small town criminals in his pocket and isn’t happen when somebody starts causing him problems in his business. Sara is the wife of Nico that supports him and is the one person he will protect without a second thought.

PerformancesSteven Seagal is always going to be known for his action films, he is easy to watch with his style and this is one of his better ones before it became too routine for him. Pam Grier is a performer that we wish we could have seen more of because she does bring her supporting performance to life. Henry Silva is the much needed villain of the piece that does above the law with his action. Sharon Stone doesn’t get that much time on camra if we are honest, making it hard to judge her performance.

StoryThe story follows a harden cop that will do anything to get the criminals being forced to go against the law to make sure they are off the street even though his latest case will put a target on his back. This story does show us how a cop can walk into a bigger conspiracy going on which will see him needing to find a way out of the trouble he has stumbled into. Being a Seven Seagal movie, it clearly doesn’t need a very deep story which this one doesn’t offer in any way.

Action/Crime/MysteryThe action in this film is here to give Seagal an chance to show off his fighting skills which is all it needs to really, this one does feel like one of the smoother ones though. The criminal world our cop enters shows how criminals can operate both sides of the law. The mystery is around whether Nico can solve the crime before it is too late.

SettingsThe film is set in Chicago which is one of the easy go to locations for any police drama.


Scene of the Movie –
The four on one stand off.

That Moment That Annoyed Me This isn’t the deepest story.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the early typical Seagal movies, we know the action is going to work for his style without being anything that we haven’t seen before.

 

Overall: Easy action.

Rating

 

 

Repression (2020) Movie Review

Director: Elbert van Strien

Writer: Ben Hopkins, Elbert van Strien (Screenplay)

Starring: Peter Mullan, Thekla Reuten, Rebecca Front, Bill Paterson, Sam Hazeldine, Emun Elliott

Plot: Repression tells the story of a therapist, who loses her grip on reality when a ten-year-old boy claims he can control her future

Runtime: 1 Hour 52 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Story: Repression starts as a therapist Marianne Winter (Reuten) looks to relocate from New York to a small Scottish town away from her past, taking over the patients of Dr McVittie (Mullan), dealing with children who are in need of therapy.

One of her first patients Manny (Wolf) claims he has abilities and that is why other kids won’t talk to him, while Marianne looks to start her own new life, learning about a new town, new country with new friendships, only Manny might have already got to her as she starts to lose grip of reality.

Thoughts on Repression

Characters – Marianne Winter is looking to start a new life after the death of her husband in New York, she is bringing her therapist skills to a small Scottish town to help children. She is still haunted by the past event, but wants to help the children. She looks to start a new life with new friendships, but soon finds herself needing to investigate one of her patients who might have a more sinister side to him and his problems. Dr McVittie is the man Marianne has replaced, he was respected until the events have left him a broken man with plenty of mystery around him. Manny is the 10-year-old that does seem to have control of events in the world, he sees death before it happens, with his nature being sinister about whether he can make the events happen too. We get to see the fellow professionals that welcome and try to guide Marianne away from certain parts of Manny’s past, a new love interest in Kieran, as well as the flashbacks with Josh, Marianne’s husband that haunts her dreams.

PerformancesThekla Reuten in the leading role is strong through the film, showing us the pain her character has been through, as well hope of something more in the future. When we look at the supporting cast, we get a strong set of performances from the newly disgraced therapist Peter Mullan, the creepy kid Elijah Wolf, the supportive partners and authority figures.

StoryThe story here follows a widowed therapist that is looking to start a new life in a new country that soon starts to see herself losing sense of reality after spending time with one of her new patients. This story does put forward plenty of questions, ones that will lead to different direction the story will go in, while it might start off in a routine way, one which you would see a new life start, we do end up going in a very different direction, one you wouldn’t even imagine it going in, one that will leave you surprised, however this does seem to take away from much of the previous stages of the film, taking the importance of earlier plot points.

MysteryThe mystery in the film comes thick and fast, with it all being about Manny and just what is the reality about him truly is.

SettingsThe film uses the Scottish town setting to show us just how a new life for Marianne is happening, it is murky compared to her old life, reflecting the pain she has been suffering.


Scene of the Movie – The truth.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – While learning the truth is brilliant, it does make certain parts unrequired in the story.

Final Thoughts This is a very interesting movie, it is one that is filled with deeper questions, with plenty of different directions happening, containing strong performances throughout.

Signature Entertainment presents Repression on Digital HD 28th September

Hold the Dark (2018) Movie Review

Director: Jeremy Saulnier

Writer: Macon Blair (Screenplay) William Giraldi (Novel)

Starring: Jeffrey Wright, Alexander Skarsgard, Riley Keough, James Badge Dale

Plot: After the deaths of three children suspected to be killed by wolves, writer Russell Core is hired by the mother of a missing six-year-old boy to track down and locate her son in the Alaskan wilderness.

Runtime: 2 Hour 5 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Messy and Confusing

Story: Hold the Dark starts when a young boy becomes the latest victim of the wolves surrounding an Alaskan town, his mother Medora (Keough) writes to a hunter an author Russell Core (Wright) in hope that he will come and destroy the wolf that took her child.

When Russell heads out into the darkness that covers Alaska, he sees the wolfpack and believes he sees another child taken by the wolves, leaving him to deal with the police who were waiting for any suspect to fall into their laps and after Vernon (Skarsgard) returns from Iraq, he looks to get revenge on the wolves that took his son, only there is a biggest conspiracy being covered up here.

Thoughts on Hold the Dark

Characters – Russell Core is an author and wolf expert that gets called to help hunt down the wolf which has been killing the children of the local area, only to discover a much bigger problem going on in the town. Vernon is the solider that has returned from war to find his son dead, he wants to work getting revenge on the responsible one. Medora is the woman that calls in for the help, while we also meet cops that are looking to get to the bottom of the killings.

PerformancesThis is a film where you don’t want to say anything bad about the performances, because it is more of how the movie is made that makes anything bad, Jeffrey Wright does make his character feel distant, while Alexander Skarsgard does show the grief, otherwise nobody gets to do anything more.

StoryThe story here follows an author that is called to look into a string of deaths involving children and wolves and soon finds himself in the middle of something much deadlier. Well I think this was the story, it isn’t shot very well to show the story unfolding, it seems like there is a lot more going on, but it didn’t give us enough information, looking to create a more shock filled moment with plenty of blood over creating an idea to what is going on.

Horror/MysteryThe horror does come from seeing how people are reacting to losing their children, which shows the panic, only for the mystery to try and take over, without giving us enough to work on as an audience member.

SettingsAlaska should be a wonderful setting, it does show the darkness that would be felt there at certain times of the year, but doesn’t take us into the environment enough.

Special EffectsThe effects are used to show the injuries the people suffer, with the shootout being the one scene with the most going on within it.


Scene of the Movie – Shootout.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Hard to follow.

Final Thoughts This is a disappointing outing from a director that has usually done wonderful things, it is slow, confusing and messy to keep up with.

Overall: Disappointing throughout.

ABC Film Challenge – 80s Movies – J – The ‘Burbs (1989) Movie Review

We are under J because of the director Joe Dante.

Director: Joe Dante

Writer: Dana Olsen (Screenplay)

Starring: Tom Hanks, Bruce Dern, Carrie Fisher, Rock Ducommun, Corey Feldman, Wendy Schaal, Henry Gibson

Plot: An overstressed suburbanite and his fellow neighbors are convinced that the new family on the block are part of a murderous Satanic cult.


Tagline – He’s a stranger in an even stranger land… Suburbia

Runtime: 1 Hour 42 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Silly Comedy

Story: The ‘Burbs starts as we head to the suburban neighbourhood, where Ray (Hanks), Mark (Dern) and Rick (Ducommun) all start wondering about the newest member of their neighbourhood, a mysterious family that don’t tend to their garden or come out in day time, with the rumours spiralling out of control, the guys do look to find an answer.

The deeper the group get, the wilder the imagines run with just who the neighbours are, from vampires, to satanic cult members, but just how far with the rumours go.

Thoughts on The ‘Burbs

Characters – Ray is the member of the neighbourhood everyone turns to, he is trying to have a week away from the stress of work, which only gets caught up when the rest of the neighbours want to learn about the mysterious new neighbour, where he must lead the investigation, being the most normal of the three main group. Mark is the military nut that will be able to undercover, but wants to solve the problems quickly, letting other people do the more dangerous tasks. Art is the member of the group that gets thrown into the wackier ideas, which sees him getting the slapstick laughs through the film, with Carol being the long suffering wife of Ray that just wants him to have fun on his time off.

PerformancesTom Hanks is strong enough in the leading role, he does make himself the most likeable of the three main guys, while Bruce Dern does get the most laughs, even if we waste Carrie Fisher at times.

StoryThe story here follows three neighbours that start to question the new neighbours believing there is a bigger mystery about who they are, which leads them to investigate the mysterious family. This is a story that just shows how suspicion will only escalate into something deadly, when the rumours are just looking to make the boring lives interesting. We don’t get into the levels we could get too, with the hints of something big, only for it to end up being more of a problem between grown men.

Comedy/MysteryThe comedy in the film is a mix of slapstick, which doesn’t really hit, while the clever movements of Hanks which will get some low key laughs, with the mystery being about the neighbours being the main part of the story.

SettingsThe film is set in suburbia and shows how the neighbours are getting too close and suspicious about what is going on within their street.


Scene of the Movie – Ricky watching the events unfold.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – It kind of feels flat.

Final Thoughts This is a comedy that misses more often than not and ends up lacking in the story side of the film.

Overall: Flat Comedy.

ABC Film Challenge – 80s Movies – F- Frantic (1988) Movie Review

Director: Roman Polanski

Writer: Roman Polanski, Gerard Brach (Screenplay)

Starring: Harrison Ford, Betty Buckley, Emmanuelle Seigner, Djiby Soumare, Dominique Virton, Gerard Klein

Plot: In a hotel room in Paris, a doctor comes out of the shower and finds that his wife has disappeared. He soon finds himself caught up in a world of intrigue, espionage, gangsters, drugs and murder.


Tagline – They’ve taken his wife. Now he’s taking action.

Runtime: 2 Hours

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Slow Burning Thriller

Story: Frantic starts when Dr Richard Walker (Ford) and his wife Sondra (Buckley) arrive in Paris for a business trip, only while Richard was in the shower, Sondra disappears, which leads to Richard going in search on the streets of Paris for his wife.

As Richard tries to learn about the truth about what happened to Sondra, he meets a local woman Michelle (Seigner) whose suitcase the couple accidentally take back to the hotel, could she have the answer or is there something bigger going on in Paris.

Thoughts on Frantic

Characters – Dr Richard Walker believes he is in Paris for a conference and holiday with his wife, only for her to disappear and him needing to search the streets of Paris for answer to a mystery he never expected to be involved in. Sondra is the missing wife, we only really see how the two are tighter more than anything, before she goes missing. Michelle is the local woman whose suitcase gets mixed up, she helps Richard get to the bottom of everything, despite being involved in a much bigger criminal world.

PerformancesHarrison Ford is mostly the only good thing about this movie, he does have the everyday man about him as he is struggle to learn the truth. Emmanuelle Seigner is strong, while the rest of the cast just doesn’t get enough time to do that much.

StoryThe story here follows an American whose wife goes missing in Paris and must try and learn the truth before it is too late, only to find himself in the middle of a much bigger conspiracy going on. This is a story that doesn’t seem to really get going despite having an idea of what it wants to tell us, it shows us just how out a place a tourist could be when a family member goes missing and helpless they might well be when looking for help. We do seem to get plenty of ideas of where the story could go, only it ends up just going at a snails pace.

Crime/MysteryThe crime side of the film shows the world that Richard is thrown into and how he doesn’t know who to trust, which does help the mystery, only it doesn’t seem come to any level where it could be filled with peril.

SettingsParis does make for a lovely backdrop for the film, though we don’t seem to hit enough of the iconic locations.


Scene of the Movie – Rooftop sneaking.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – It is just slow.

Final Thoughts This is a slow thriller that just doesn’t get going despite having Harrison Ford in the leading role.

Overall: Just doesn’t get going.