Conspiracy Theory (1997) Movie Review

Director: Richard Donner

Writer: Brian Helgeland (Screenplay)

Starring: Mel Gibson, Julia Roberts, Patrick Stewart, Cylk Cozart, Steve Kahan, Terry Alexander, Alex McArthur

Plot: A man obsessed with conspiracy theories becomes a target after one of his theories turns out to be true. Unfortunately, in order to save himself, he has to figure out which theory it is.


Tagline – Jerry Fletcher sees conspiracies everywhere. One has turned out to be true. Now his enemies want him dead. And she’s the only one he can trust.

Runtime: 2 Hours 15 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Excellent Mystery

Story: Conspiracy Theory starts as taxi driver and conspiracy theorist spends his day believing the government is out to get him always believing different events in the city are bigger than what the story is being told. He tries to turn to district attorney Alice Sutton (Roberts) about any story he gets, while also having a crush on her, before he is taken by a group of the government where Dr Jonas (Stewart) tries to get him to talk.

With Jerry needing to go on the run, Alice becomes a target too, as they must try to figure out why they have been targeted and which one of Jerry theories is the one that is trying to be covered up.

Thoughts on Conspiracy Theory

Characters – Jerry is a taxi driver in New York City, he also is a conspiracy theorist that believes everything is the government trying to cover something up, while most people to bat him off as crazy person who is just talking nonsense, one of his theories turns out to be true, as the government comes hunting for him, he every nightmare is coming true, only he doesn’t know which one of his ideas is the one that is true. Alice Sutton works in the district attorney office, she is the person Jerry brings his ideas too, while the rest of the office is scared of him, she will help him when he gets targeted, not believing everything she is being told, even after spending most of her time just listening to his ideas. Dr Jonas is the man trying to track down Jerry, he will use all the shady tactics to get his man even if he has the biggest secret about why he is hunting him down.

PerformancesMel Gibson is wonderful in the leading role here, he gets to play the full crazy without looking like he is completely out of his mind, just on edge about everything. Julia Roberts is great to trying to remain calm around the Gibson’s crazy side. Patrick Stewart as the villainous government agent is great to watch too, he knows how to make his character make a big impact on screen.

StoryThe story here follows one man who believes everything in his life is a giant conspiracy and has always gone to one person to tell his theories too, only now he has found out one is real and the government what him silenced, can he expose the truth before it is too late. When it comes to conspiracy theories we can see how people can believe in anything once they have enough information, with this one, we see somebody who does believe in way too many, he just doesn’t know which ones are real or just parts of his mind, seeing how the government wants to cover them up shows just how big the theories can be if people will kill to keep them secret. We do get to see how Alice reacts to the world she is caught up between, never knowing which side to believe through the story, which does add another level to the narrative.

Action/MysteryThe action in the film is a couple of pursuit sequences rather than full blown chases, everything feels calm, even though it is fast paced though, the mystery comes from why Jerry is being targeted this time, he just doesn’t know which one of his theories is being leaked.

SettingsThe film is set in New York which shows us just how many people will just let somebody get away with saying whatever they want and not be considered out of place.


Scene of the Movie – The pizza order.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – It could be trimmed down about 20 minutes.

Final Thoughts This is a great mystery thriller that leaves plenty up there with conspiracy theories, showing how plenty can be talked about and the ones that are true could be the ones that cause the most problems.

Overall: Keeps You Guessing.

ABC Film Challenge – Favourites – Y – Speed (1994) Movie Review

This is under Y because of the writer’s last name, these are my favourite films and Y is very limited.

Director: Jan de Bont

Writer: Graham Yost (Screenplay)

Starring: Keanu Reeves, Dennis Hopper, Sandra Bullock, Joe Morton, Heff Daniels, Alan Ruck, Glenn Plummer

Plot: A young police officer must prevent a bomb exploding aboard a city bus by keeping its speed above 50 mph.


Tagline – Get ready for rush hour.

Runtime: 1 Hour 56 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Brilliant Action Film

Story: Speed starts when hot shot police officer Jack Traven (Reeves) and his partner Harry (Daniels) stop the plans of bomber Howard Payne (Hopper), getting awarded for saving the lives of the hostages, believing Howard died in his explosion.

Howard isn’t finished yet and plants his next bomb, forcing Jack to find the bus her has placed it, where if the bus goes over 50mph is activates the bomb, Jack needs to keep the bus travelling over 50mph to prevent it exploding, with passenger Annie (Bullock) needing to take the wheel for him.

Thoughts on Speed

Characters – Jack is the young police officers that will always look to protect and serve, his latest job is to rescue hostages from a bomb threat, which he uses his quick thinking to stay one step ahead of the terrorist, he tries different ideas to win the battle, or so he thought. Now he must go through the same struggles as before as he has become the target of the terrorist, needing to keep a bus safe from his next target. Howard Payne is the calculated bomber, he wants money and after losing the opening dual with Jack, he has taken it personally this time around. Annie is one of the passengers on the bus, she is on the bus because of losing her licence for speeding, she takes over the driving side of everything usually screaming about what is happening too. Capt McMahon is trying to run the operation from outside the bus, he might well be Jack’s boss, but he lets him make the decision during the operation.

PerformancesKeanu Reeves is brilliant in the lead action role, showing he was always going to become one of the biggest names in this side of film, following up Point Break. Dennis Hopper will always be one of the greatest actors for villains, this is no different, while Sandra Bullock steps up in the heroine role, showing more fight than just another woman in trouble.

StoryThe story here follows a police officer that gets caught in a cat-n-mouse game with a terrorist that plants bombs around the city, with his latest one being placed on a bus that once it goes over 50mph, become active. This story is one of the more simple cat-n-mouse battles between law and criminal, it is pure simple action, we need to keep the bus over 50mph whatever the situation is, showing the officers needing to find a way to keep the bus moving whatever gets in the way, thinking on their feet, the terrorist is also well prepared for what could happen, remaining in control for most of the film. The story just keeps everything simple and this works for the film with ease.

ActionThe action in the film comes from the different problems that Jack must overcome at high speed, along with the explosion.

SettingsJack finds himself trapped on the bus for the most part of this film, here he will not find escape, rescue or disarming the bomb.


Scene of the Movie – Bridge jump.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Most of Harry’s side story.

Final Thoughts This is one of the best action films of the 90s if not of all time, it keeps everything simple, while not sacrificing the intensity level.

Overall: Fun, Action Packed Movie.

ABC Film Challenge – Favourites – V – Volcano (1997) Movie Review

Director: Mick Jackson

Writer: Jerome Armstrong, Billy Ray (Screenplay) Jerome Armstrong (Story)

Starring: Tommy Lee Jones, Anne Heche, Gaby Hoffmann, Don Cheadle, Jacqueline Kim, Keith David, John Corbett

Plot: A volcano erupts in downtown Los Angeles, threatening to destroy the city.


Tagline – L.A. Erupts in 1997

Runtime: 1 Hour 44 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Entertaining Disaster Film

Story: Volcano starts when a small earthquake hits LA, Michael Roarke (Jones) the director of the office of emergency management gives up his holiday with his daughter Kelly (Hoffman) to make sure everything is getting cleaned up without needing his help, with Emmit Reese (Cheadle) trying to cover for him.

Needing an expect Mike turns to Dr Amy Barnes (Heche) who is an expert in geology and earthquake activities as they discover lava under LA and soon it erupts putting the whole city in danger and the race to save as many people as possible is on.

Thoughts on Volcano

Characters – Mike Roark is the director of the office of emergency management in LA, he has been through a messy divorce, giving him less time with his daughter and is a workaholic. He is spending his vacation with his daughter only a small earthquake leads him back to work, putting a strain on his relationship with his daughter, but when things start escalating, he will do everything to protect the city from more chaos, trying to save as many lives as possible. Dr Amy Barnes is a geologist who is used to facing the press, she leads her team in searching for the answers and will fill in the science that Mike isn’t away for. Kelly is the daughter of Mike, she is often a deer in the headlights type of teenager, never understanding how to get away from danger, though she does get to learn quickly when she is helping around the medical area of the disaster. Emmit Reese works under Mike, he secretly wants his job and is planning to take over one day, he learns in this situation that he isn’t ready for this role anytime soon.

PerformancesTommy Lee Jones in the leading role seems like a perfect choice, he is a man that can demand centre stage and needs to in this role, while showing he needs advice to make things right. Anne Heche handles to scientific role very well throughout, not coming off as a know it all character like she could have been made to look like. Gaby Hoffmann as the kid fills the role well, even if she isn’t written as well as they could have done. Don Cheadle is more in a commentary role which he is great to see in.

StoryThe story here follows the emergency services and geologist working together to try and save the city of LA from an unexpected volcano that was laying beneath the city. When we look at the story we get the disaster elements where people need to team up to save the city from disaster, we see how they work together to find solutions with any troubles between people never being more than a little argument, no real human villains does make this feel more natural. It is nice to see a story that doesn’t over complicate anything too.

Action/Sci-FiThe action is big, it comes from the erupts that hit when the people are trying to avoid getting hurt, we get more action from the plans to keep the city safe too. The sci-fi side of the film comes from just seeing how people could have been with science fiction behind it happening.

SettingsThe film is set in LA, a place you wouldn’t expect to see a volcano erupt, it does show the chaos the locals will be going through.

Special EffectsThe effects are wonderful to see just how the destruction happens with the lava not stopping for much.


Scene of the Movie – The sound of silence

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Most of Norman’s scenes.

Final Thoughts This is a fun disaster film that flows at a great pace, showing us just how people could work together to get over a problem they are all facing, with great acting throughout.

Overall: Disaster film that is a joy to watch.

Gary Oldman Weekend – Child 44 (2015)

Director: Daniel Espinosa

Writer: Richard Price (Screenplay) Tom Rob Smith (Novel)

Starring: Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman, Noomi Rapace, Joel Kinnaman, Paddy Considine, Jason Clarke, Vincent Cassel, Fares Fares

 

Plot: A disgraced member of the Russian military police investigates a series of child murders during the Stalin-era Soviet Union.


Tagline – How many more must die before the truth is exposed?

Runtime: 2 Hours 17 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Slow Burner

 

Story: Child 44 starts as we see how Leo Demidov (Hardy) escaped an orphanage joining the military at a young age, he went on to become a war hero leading his men Alexei (Fares) and Vasili (Kinnaman), after the war he remains in the military making sure the Soviet Union isn’t compromised by anybody who could be against the country.

When one of Alexei’s children is murdered, the country covers it up as an accident, Leo reluctantly starts to investigate and after two more murders, Leo finds himself becoming an enemy of the country, exiled from the capital under General Mikhail Nesterov (Oldman), where the killings continue. Leo continues his investigation which only draws more attention to himself, as murder can’t happen in paradise.

 

Thoughts on Child 44

 

Characters – Leo Demidov was raised an orphan only to escape and become part of a military unit, he spent years within the Russian military rising up the ranks to become one of the most respected men in the military. He remains in the military where he helps keep traitors out of the capital, he soon learns about a string a child murders, which the country wants to cover up, which puts his reputation on the line as he looks to solve them exposing a killer in a country that doesn’t admit to murder. Raisa is the wife of Leo, she has started to become a target for country believing she is a traitor, she is tired of the life within the rules given and must soon start to lie to her husband to stay safe before working with him to solve the case. General Mikhail Nesterov is the man that Leo is sent to serve under, he does notice the trends in the murders and will send Leo out to solve the case. Vasili is one of the soldiers that served next to Leo, he was considered a coward during the war, but after the war he became stricter breaking the rules creating tension between the unit for his behaviour towards prisoners.

PerformancesTom Hardy in the leading role does everything asked of him, he handles each his characters actions, while giving us a solid enough Russian accent throughout. Noomi Rapace continued to grow her reputation as she shows that she can adapt to nearly every role placed on front of her. Gary Oldman brings the experience to the role, though he does fall into the supporting role for too long through the film. The rest of the supporting cast doesn’t make the impact required with their time.

StoryThe story here follows a Russian military man that starts investigating a string of child murders that grab the attention of the country who refuses to admit that murder can happen within it. While we get to see how the investigation becomes deeper with each and every turn, it is the trying to conduct an investigation in a country that simply won’t accept murder that piles on the pressure within the story, see how he must fight his country to stop a serial killer is interesting, even if it is slightly slow at times. We don’t get many suspects because we can’t completely investigate which can hold up that side of the film at times.

Crime/HistoryThe crime side of the film follows the serial killer taking the children, the other side of the crime story comes from how the country was treating people that didn’t follow their strict orders, this does show how the history of the country did hold it back at times.

SettingsThe film is set in Russia and Ukraine, showing how secretive the country was with how they didn’t want to admit anything going on wrong.


Scene of the Movie –
The first kidnapping is creepy as the film gets.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The over slow building.

Final ThoughtsThis is a slow moving crime thriller that is more interested in showing the countries strict rules that focus on solving the crime.

 

Overall: Pacing just lets it down.

Rating

 

ABC Film Challenge – Favourites – P – The Pledge (2001) Movie Review

Director: Sean Penn

Writer: Jerzy Kromolowski, Mary Olson-Kromolowski (Screenplay) Friedrich Durrenmatt (Book)

Starring: Jack Nicholson, Patricia Clarkson, Benicio Del Toro, Aaron Eckhart, Beau Daniels, Helen Mirren, Robin Wright, Vanessa Redgrave, Mickey Rourke

Plot: A retiring police detective pledges to catch the killer of a young child.


Tagline – He may have retired, but he’s still catching the killer

Runtime: 2 Hours 4 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Intense Thriller

Story: The Pledge starts as the body of a young girl who has been brutally raped and murdered is discovered, retiring detective Jerry Black (Nicholson) wants to help investigate under Stan Krolak (Eckhart), which includes breaking the news to the parents Margaret (Clarkson) and Duane (O’Keefe), making a promise to get the monster behind this crime.

What looks like a cut and dry case, mentally handicapped Toby Wadenah (Del Toro) admits to the crime, dying in police custody. Jerry continues on into retirement, only after another murder that looks similar, he starts to look into the case again, learning that the real killer might still be out there and wanting to solve the case, even without the help of his former colleagues.

Thoughts on The Pledge

Characters – Jerry Black is a detective on the verge of retirement, when the murder happens, he wants to help and after the solving of the case goes smoothly, he heads of into retirement sunset, until he learns about another murder, he wants to reopen the case to solve the a potential serial killer, putting him in the position where he thinks he will cross paths with the killer. When it comes to the rest of the characters, we have a string of police officers at different levels, a couple of parents, some who have seen their children killed, one suffering abuse, but most of this film is focusing on how Jerry is dealing with retirement.

PerformancesJack Nicholson is fantastic in this leading role, he brings us a veteran cop that has always been able to solve a case, and shows how retirement will leave a void in his life. We do have a very good supporting cast of actors here including Helen Mirren, Patricia Clarkson, Aaron Eckhart, Vanessa Redgrave, Benicio Del Toro, Robin Wright and Sam Shepard who all do well with their roles in the film.

StoryThe story here follows a retiring detective that gets involved in one last case, only for him to see it closed easily, but not being convinced the suspect was really the person, trying to continue solving the crime, which he believes is bigger. This is a very interesting story, it does show how crimes could easily be connected and how it could only be one that starts trying to solve the issues he has with the case, while deeper down it shows how one detective could be struggling with his retirement, not wanting to accept that he won’t have cases to solve. Having both of these ideas playing hand in hand is very interesting, which leads to us wondering which is true.

Crime/MysteryThe crime side of the film does see a horrible murder being solved, with the mystery about whether it was really the person that was caught or not.

SettingsThe film uses the settings to show how Jerry is trying to solve a murder, which could end up being a bigger crime going on, with him looking at potential locations.


Scene of the Movie – The parade.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – It is left too much to our own to decide the truth.

Final Thoughts This is an interesting thriller that does follow a detective who believes that a crime could still need solving, or he could just be making it up to keep him busy, this is interesting to see unfold with Jack Nicholson shining.

Overall: Brilliant Thriller.