ABC Film Challenge – Action Movies – T – Tiger Raid (2016)

Director: Simon Dixon

Writer: Simon Dixon, Mick Donnellan, Gareth Coulam Evans (Screenplay)

Starring: Brian Gleeson, Damien Molony, Sofia Boutella, Rory Fleck Byrne

 

Plot: Two mercenaries ride a wave of pitch-black camaraderie as they travel through the desert night on their way to carry out a kidnapping in Iraq. As the raid progresses, their frenzied world turns in on itself as past misdeeds come to the surface, and violently threatening to tear them apart.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Dull, boring film

 

Story: Tiger Raid starts as we meet our two mercenaries Joe (Gleeson) and Paddy (Molony) in Iraq, they are on their first mission together which gives us well over 30 minutes of the men just talking shit to each other, the mission is a kidnapping of Shadha (Boutella).

We learn that both men have a past with this girl and this leads to the tension between the two men before we learn the complete truth of the job.

 

Thoughts on Tiger Raid

 

Characters/PerformanceJoe is the experienced soldier, he talks plenty of shit through the film which leads us to learn his true character and how far he has fallen into the war crimes. Paddy is the latest partner of Joe’s, there because of his criminal actions but soon becomes the voice of reason. Shadha is the target but she does have a connection to both men through previous acts.

Performance wise, I do feel both Brian and Damien struggle in the leading role because we need to want to watch every scene they are in but things just feel very slow between them. Sofia is fine but doesn’t become a major part of the film until the final third.

StoryThe story is two soldiers kidnap a woman in Iraq, we have the bonding process which is long, we have twists that don’t work and mostly we are left to wonder if anything is going to happen because the main performances just don’t make you care about anything.

Action/Crime/WarThe isn’t too much action and most of it is saved for the final act with the crime being mostly war crime and just not connecting the way it should.

SettingsWe are somewhere in Iraq for this movie but nothing much can be told as anything iconic in this film.

Final ThoughtsThis is a very dull movie that is performed badly because we just don’t care what is going on.

 

Overall: Boring is the best word for this film.

Rating

 

 

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ABC Film Challenge – Random – Z – The Zookeeper’s Wife (2017)

Director: Niki Caro

Writer: Angela Workman (Screenplay) Diane Ackerman (Book)

Starring: Jessica Chastain, Johan Heldenberg, Daniel Bruhl, Timothy Radford, Efrat Dor, iddo Goldberg

 

Plot: The Zookeeper’s Wife tells the account of keepers of the Warsaw Zoo, Antonina and Jan Zabinski, who helped save hundreds of people and animals during the German invasion.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Heartbreakingly Brilliant Drama

 

Story: The Zookeeper’s Wife starts in 1939 Warsaw, Poland as we meet Antonina (Chastain) and Jan (Heldenbergh) Zabinski the zoo keepers of the Warsaw zoo, both committed to giving their animals a good life and their customers an experience they could never imagine.

When the invasion in hits Warsaw, the zoo is hit hard with the animals running wild many are killed, German zoologist Lutz Heck (Bruhl) does offer to protect the remaining quality animals by moving them to a German zoo, but the rest end up getting killed.

When Lutz agrees to let the non-Jewish couple keep their zoo open as a pig farm, they start doing what they can to help as many Jews escape the ghetto they are being forced to survive in. How many people can they save, how long can they keep everything up before getting caught out by the German’s that is the questions we are left with.

 

Thoughts on The Zookeeper’s Wife

 

Characters/PerformanceAntonina is the animal lover, people lover that works with her husband to help protect as many Jews during the war as possible, she uses her status to help keep the remaining animals safe and people safe too. Jan is the husband of Antonina that takes the biggest risks by going into the ghetto housing the Jews but he becomes increasingly jealous of Antonina and Lutz working relationship. Lutz Heck is the German zoologist that uses the Warsaw zoo for his own desire to continue breeding animals and his attraction to Antonina keeps him returning.

Performance wise, Jessica Chastain is fantastic in the leading role show us once again we how she can become any part put on front of her. Daniel Bruhl does give us a great role in which we absolutely hate his character through the film even though he isn’t truly evil. Johan Heldenbergh is also great through the film standing tall next to the two bigger names of the acting world.

StoryWe have heard this horrific story before, we know what the Nazi’s did to the Jews and we know Schindler’s List is the most famous and well-respected film version of these events. While the plot giving is slightly miss-leading because we are expecting to see more about the animal saving, we do find ourselves looking at the incredible story of how the zookeeper’s risk their lives to save as many as Jews as possible during the war. We know how amazing the heroes of the war were and learning new stories of their heroics is always good to see. I do feel this film does have certain pacing issues because you can have your heart broken in the open 30 minutes as you would be looking to see something slightly different in the next chapters of the story.

Biography/History/WarSeeing the story of the Zabinska’s struggle during the war shows us how brave they were trying to save, the difficult decision they made and the part of history they were part of.

SettingsThe settings all look fantastic putting us in the middle of the war in Warsaw showing us just how difficult everything was for the people involved.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the most heart-breaking films you will see this year, but it does fall into another incredible story of how people risked their own lives to save Jews from the Nazis. I would say parts of the synopsis are miss-leading as I was expecting a lot more about how the animals were being saved but saying this we can seeing another incredible story from World War II.

 

Overall: Brilliant story of heroic actions.

Rating

 

 

The Dirty Dozen (1967)

Director: Robert Aldrich

Writer: Nunnally Johnson, Lukas Heller (Screenplay) E M Nathanson (Novel)

Starring: Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine, Charles Bronson, Jim Brown, John Cassavetes, Richard Jaeckel, Donald Sutherland

 

Plot: During World War II, a rebellious U.S. Army Major is assigned a dozen convicted murderers to train and lead them into a mass assassination mission of German officers.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Classic We All Know

 

Story: The Dirty Dozen starts as Major Reisman (Marvin) is assigned to train 12 convicted criminals lined up for execution to go on a secret mission in German during World War II. The criminals include Joseph Wladislaw (Brosnan), Robert Jefferson (Brown) and Victor Franko (Cassavetes) who along with the rest of the crew must go under training to be combat ready.

The men start coming into shape and start working in a unit but when other generals want to bring down and end the unit, Reisman must fight to get his men on the battle field to prove to General Worden (Borgnine) he can turn get these men into battle.

 

Thoughts on The Dirty Dozen

 

Characters/PerformanceMajor Reisman is the man assigned the criminal unit, he knows how to get men into line when it comes to battle and will risk his own career to prove he can make these men a powerful unit. General Worden assigns Reisman the unit believe he couldn’t get it done but also has to make the decisions on who to put into the field. Joseph Wladislaw is one of the criminals who happily takes up the role required and his German speaking background helps on the mission. Jefferson takes up one of the reluctant leaders of the unit. Franko is the one that rebels the most but soon learns his place even when he is standing up for the right thing.

Performance wise, Lee Marvin is great in the leading role dominating the screen whenever he appears, we also have a fantastic supporting cast that all know how to pull off their roles.

StoryThe story follows a group of misfits being pulled together to go on a deadly mission, this is always an entertaining type of story to watch as we like unlikely heroes but the problem with a lot of this story is we must support murderers who are just escaping death row rather than guys who have just fallen of the rails. The story is also slightly long but it does give each supporting character enough time.

Action/Adventure/Comedy/WarWe have the standard war time action sequences that have never come off overly original. We have nice moments of comedy mostly through the training sequences and the adventure coming from how hard the men must work.

SettingsEach setting works as it shows the different stages from the training to the mission itself.

EffectsThe effects all work for where the film is planning on going which does help and they are only used sparingly.

Final ThoughtsThis will always go down as one of the classic in war films and even after 50 years it doesn’t feel like it has been dated yet.

 

Overall: Still one of the classics of cinema.

Rating

 

 

The Last of the Mohicans (1992)

Director: Michael Mann

Writer: Michael Mann, Christopher Crowe (Screenplay) James Fenimore Cooper (Novel)

Starring: Daniel Day-Lewis, Madeleine Stowe, Russell Means, Eric Schweig, Jodhi May, Steven Waddington, Wes Studi

 

Plot: Three trappers protect a British Colonel’s daughters in the midst of the French and Indian War.


Tagline – The first American hero.

Runtime: 1 Hour 52 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Good, but Hard to Follow

 

Story: The Last of the Mohicans starts in the middle of the French Indian war raging through America we meet trapper Hawkeye (Day-Lewis) who doesn’t want to get involved in the war when the British try to recruit support in the battle. Major Duncan Heywood (Waddington) is preparing to escort the General’s daughters Cora (Stowe) and Alice (May) across the country, hoping he can marry Cora one day. When the group get ambushes, Hawkeye guides them to safety but then finds himself in the middle of the war he was trying to avoid. Hawkeye falls in love with Cora and soon finds himself needing to free himself from the British who treat him like a war criminal even after what he did for the British and continues to do when Cora is in danger.

 

Thoughts on The Last of the Mohicans

 

Characters – Hawkeye is the adopted child of an Indian family raised to be one of their greatest trappers, he along with his family would like to stay out of the war, but he gets dragged into the battle after rescuing the British General’s daughters. He shows the strength to lead an army, determination to win a battle and the love it feels for Cora. Cora is the daughter of a British general trapped in a world at war, she becomes the love interest for Hawkeye who spends most of the film trying to rescue her. If I am honest, I found it hard to tell any of the British apart or any of the Indians, which at time made it confusing to follow who was on the good side and bad side.

PerformancesDaniel Day-Lewis is good in the leading role, which is something you would have come to expect from him, but his combat scenes don’t seem to click at times. Madeleine Stowe is good to as is the whole cast who are good without being great and not being bad through the film.

StoryThe story follows a neutral trapper in the middle of the British and French battling in America who gets caught up in the middle of the war because of his love for a British woman who needs protecting. This does play into moments of history without being anything special if we are being honest, we try to learn more about the history of the early battles in America without us knowing too much going in, we barely learn anything afterwards too.

Action/Adventure/Romance/WarThe action while massive on scale can become plenty of well placed battle moments searching for shock value, the romance drives Hawkeye to fight and save during a war backdrop, one he never wanted to be part of.

SettingsThe settings show the clash of worlds, the Indian beliefs, the British forts and the French forts which shows us who will be comfortable in different battle situations.


Scene of the Movie –
Ambushes number two.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Figuring out who was on which side, just gets confusing.

Final ThoughtsThis is a film that is filled with praise before I went into it, by the end I found it just to be fine, I wouldn’t consider it a great and in fact not one I would be watching again.

 

Overall: Overly hyped movie.

Rating

 

 

Joseph Gordon-Levitt Weekend – Stop-Loss (2008)

Director: Kimberly Peirce

Writer: Kimberly Peirce, Mark Richard (Screenplay)

Starring: Ryan Phillippe, Channing Tatum, Abbie Cornish, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Victor Rasuk, Timothy Olyphant, Ciaran Hinds, Rob Brown

 

Plot: A veteran soldier returns from his completed tour of duty in Iraq, only to find his life turned upside down when he is arbitrarily ordered to return to field duty by the Army.


Tagline – The bravest place to stand is by each other’s side.

Runtime: 1 Hour 52 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Must Watch Movie

 

Story: Stop-Loss starts as we see the army unit that is touring in Iraq, they come under attack losing men, Brandon King (Phillippe) and Steve Shriver (Tatum) return home with their unit for a weekend of leave with Tommy (Gordon-Levitt) and Eyeball (Brown).

The weekend in Texas shows the effects on war has had on the soldiers, Steve becoming a violent drunk, while Tommy is suffering from losing his best friend on that last mission, Brandon tries to keep them in line while he is about to eave himself. Brandon gets stop-loss meaning he must return to Iraq, but he isn’t going to return, going on the run AWOL from the army with Michelle (Cornish), Steve’s girlfriend, as he wants to find a way to leave the army, while also showing the effects of the war on him.

 

Thoughts on Stop-Loss

 

Characters – Brandon King is the squad leader of his unit, he losses men on his latest tour of duty, but believes he is out with this latest tour, he must remain calm for his men back home while clearly suffering from PTSD from the events. He gets ordered to return to Iraq which he isn’t having leading him to go on the run, searching for answers to stop his return to war. Steve is Brandon’s best friend and fellow star of their home town, he returns home to get married, but his suffering is clearer to see and this puts his relationship with Michelle in the air. Michelle is Steve’s girlfriend, they are meant to be getting married, but when Brandon goes on the wrong, she supports him as her relationship with Steve get worse. Tommy is another member of the unit, he loses his best friend on tour and never recovers, he drinks to get through his nightmares which shows the PTSD he is suffering from, only Brandon can get through to him and with him on the run Tommy is a danger to everyone.

PerformancesRyan Phillippe gives his best performance of his career in this role, he shows the strength his character needs while the weaknesses inside are tearing him up. Channing Tatum broke away from the pretty boys roles first with this role and shows that he does have skills. Abbie Cornish is strong in her role through the film and Joseph Gordon-Levitt is fantastic in the supporting role as the PTSD in his character feels the most destructive.

StoryThe story follows the effects of war on three soldiers returning from a tour of duty in Iraq, they are all suffering from different levels of PTSD and shouldn’t be returning to duty, when one gets Stop-loss he goes on the run, ones behaviour stops him going back with this being the only thing he wants and the third who wanted out but decides he wants to return. While the story shows one man trying to get away from his duty, it shows the larger effects of soldiers that are returning with PTSD and how easily they can just break. This is an important story about treating soldiers with respect by not forcing them to return if they are not mentally capable off because of what they have seen, done or been involved in, and how to support them as they try to return to normal lives.

WarThe war side of this film is shown in what happened to these soldiers and the aftermath of what happens when they return without the support required.

SettingsThe settings show both the world they have been living in Iraq and the home back in Texas as they are in desperate search to get on with their life.


Scene of the Movie –
Brothers fight.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The lack of support the soldiers get.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the most impactful movies when it comes to tackle war, it shows how difficult life away from the tours can tear the soldiers apart in a war they didn’t need to be fighting. This has career best performances from the three lead actors and a story which could easily be a reality to any soldier returning from active duty.

 

Overall: Must watch war story.

Rating