John Leguizamo Weekend – The Infiltrator (2016)

infiDirector: Brad Furman

Writer: Ellen Sue Brown (Screenplay) Robert Mazur (Book)

Starring: Bryan Cranston, John Leguizamo, Diane Kruger, Daniel Mays, Amy Ryan, Jason Isaacs, Michael Pare,

 

Plot: A U.S. Customs official uncovers a money laundering scheme involving Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Good Crime Drama

 

Story: The Infiltrator starts as we meet Robert Mazur (Cranston) who has been working as an undercover US Custom officer who has just taken down a drug ring which for the time offers him a chance to walk away from field work. When one of Robert’s co-workers Emir Abreu (Leguizamo) comes to him with information of a Colombian drug lord Robert must decide whether to follow the lead.

Robert takes the job where he must go undercover as a banker for the Colombian drug lord where he must work with Abreu who he sees as a loose cannon to take down Pablo Escobar. The further Robert goes undercover the deeper he finds himself wondering just how far he will get pushed by the drug lords.

The Infiltrator gives us what seems to be just another look at a brave man who goes undercover to bring down a crime lord. We do have heavyweight performance from Cranston yet again that could easily get Oscar attention. I also think we get a great supporting performance from Leguizamo. The film gives us plenty of focus on the effects of going undercover on the personal life as well as the professional side of everything but it does sadly feel like just another story we have seen similar before.

 

Overall: Great performances to a crime story it feels we have seen before.

Rating70

 

 

It Comes at Night (2017)

Director: Trey Edward Shults

Writer: Trey Edward Shults (Screenplay)

Starring: Joel Edgerton, Christopher Abbott, Carmen Ejogo, Riley Keough, Kelvin Harrison Jr, Griffin Robert Faulkner

 

Plot: Secure within a desolate home as an unnatural threat terrorizes the world, a man has established a tenuous domestic order with his wife and son, but this will soon be put to test when a desperate young family arrives seeking refuge.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Nerve Shredding Nail Bitter

 

Story: It Comes at Night starts in a world where a virus has crippled the population, Paul (Edgerton), Sarah (Ejogo) and their son Travis (Harrison Jr) live in the middle of the woods in a secure house with only one entrance also being the exit. When their home gets broken into by Will (Abbott) the family dynamic must figure out whether to believe his story, help him or let him go.

Once the family make the decision the family welcomes Will and his family Kim (Keough) and son Andrew (Faulkner) into their home as numbers could help against a threat, but how long can this peace last?

 

Thoughts on It Comes at Night

 

Characters/PerformanceWill is the strict father of the house, he has created a secure home with the rules that will keep his family safe, he will not go easy on anyone that comes into the life and does the clean up when anything needs to be done. Will is the stranger that is just as desperate to keep his family safe and stumbles into the wrong house, but he is good and gets to work with Paul to start a safer home. Sarah and Kim are both the weakest written characters mostly because they are just the wives, Sarah does have slightly more about her because she will be smarter about the bigger decisions the family must make. Travis is the most interesting character in the film, he is the son of Paul & Sarah, he is attached to the late grandfather and his dog, we get to see a lot of the film through his eyes and ears as well as most of the truly horrific moments come in his nightmares.

Performance wise, Joel Edgerton is brilliant in this leading role, being a man of little words but many facial expressions when not explain the rules. Christopher Abbott is also good in this role showing how desperate people could be. Carmen Ejogo and Riley Keough are both good but could have been written stronger. Kelvin Harrison Jr is the new star to watch after his performance in this film, which shows curiosity being stuck with strict rules.

StoryThe story follows a world that has had a virus wiping out the population, we don’t learn what caused this which you could see upset people but I didn’t find this a stumbling block because it adds to the mystery. The story focuses on how desperate people would act to survive in this situation, how easy things could go wrong and just how even the best of people could go do unthinkable things. The story is filled with tension and mystery that just keeps you on the edge of your seat, just wanting to know what will happen next.

Horror/MysteryThe horror comes from how the family must survive what could come from anything, the disease spreading around the country. The mystery is also tied into the horror as we are left to see what is happening and what could go wrong.

SettingsThe film is set in the middle of the woods, the house is off the grid and has no main roads nearby. We get an excellent use location which only adds the tension needed in the film.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the best horror films of the year, but it could easily divide the horror community, I feel this could be considered to be in the same league as 2016 The Witch and could have had stronger written female characters.

 

Overall: Must watch for the horror fans out there.

Rating

 

 

The Ice Cream Truck (2017)

Director: Megan Freels Johnston

Writer: Megan Freels Johnston (Screenplay)

Starring: Deanna Russo, Emil Johnson, John Redlinger, Sam Schweikert, Hilary Barraford, Bailey Anne Borders, Dana Gaier

 

Plot: Mary moves back to her suburban hometown, to find that the suburbs are scarier in more ways than she ever remembered.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Desperate Housewives: Serial Killer Edition

 

Story: The Ice Cream Truck starts as Mary (Russo) returns to her suburban home town to start a new life, all while her family finishes off school and work before joining her. Mary gets to meet the gossip girls Jessica (Barraford), Christina (Walter) and Katie (Towns-Cuellar), the creepy delivery man (Phillips) but strangest of all is an ice cream truck driving around the neighbourhood.

The ice cream truck is driven by the creepy mysterious man (Johnsen) who has a habit of inviting people into his truck and killing them. The people of the neighbourhood barely notice what is going on as this suburban nightmare grows for Mary.

 

Thoughts on The Ice Cream Truck

 

Characters/PerformanceMary is the wife and mother who has moved before the rest of the family to get the house set up and find inspiration for her latest writing project. Mary does struggle to enjoy returning to a suburban neighbourhood with people just waiting for the next chapter of gossip. Max is the teenage son of one of the neighbours, he is the local pot dealer which does help Mary get through the nosey neighbours. He also plays into the desperate housewives feel to the film. The Ice Cream Man drives around the neighbourhood trying to sale ice cream but if you disrespect him he will just kill the customer, he is social awkward fitting the killer stereotype.

Performance wise, Deanna Russo is impressive in the leading role, fitting the character required very well, John Redlinger also gives us a good performance as both the two characters offer up the Desperate Housewives feel to the film. Emil Johnsen gives us the horror side of the film as we get to see the darker character that when on screen is somebody you want to watch.

StoryThe story does show us how difficult adjusting to the suburban neighbourhood for our lead character Mary, we get the temptation of romance, dealing with gossiping women and the strange people lurking around every corner. We honestly do get a true Desperate Housewives feel about most of the scenes, which is fine for the most part but if you want the horror side of the film it only comes out in the story in small parts.

Horror/Comedy/MysteryThe horror side of the film is used well when we see it, we have an Ice Cream Man that kills people, but I feel we did need to see this side of the film slightly more. The comedy I felt was mostly humour focused on the suburban lifestyle with the mystery being focused on just why the killer does everything.

SettingsThe suburban setting does wonders for this film because it shows the new difficult world Mary must adjust too after spending her adult life in the big city. We get to see just how she doesn’t enjoy everything in this location.

Special EffectsMost of the kills are cleverly filmed off camera which lowest the need to spend too much time on the effects but we are left to imagine what is going on.

Final ThoughtsThis is a different horror comedy that does work on levels you didn’t expect because it shows us how difficult the suburban life can be.

 

Overall: Enjoyably Fun Horror Comedy.

Rating

 

 

Original v Remake Weekend – The Italian Job (2003)

Director: F Gary Gray

Writer: Donna Powers, Wayne Powers (Screenplay) Troy Kennedy-Martin (Original Screenplay)

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Charlize Theron, Donald Sutherland, Jason Statham, Seth Green, Yasiin Bey, Edward Norton

 

Plot: After being betrayed and left for dead in Italy, Charlie Croker and his team plan an elaborate gold heist against their former ally.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Solid but Confusing Remake

 

Story: The Italian Job starts as Charlie Croker (Wahlberg) and his tea John Bridger (Sutherland) Handsome Rob (Statham), Lyle (Green), Left Ear (Bey) and Steve (Norton) pulling of a heist in Venice, an Italian Job if you like. With the job done perfectly the escape looks like a sure thing only for Steve to turn on them leaving the rest of the team for dead.

One year later Charlie brings the team back together with Stella (Theron) John’s daughter in to get revenge on Steve by stealing the gold he stole from them.

 

Thoughts on The Italian Job

 

Characters/PerformanceCharlie is not the character we knew from the first one, he isn’t the womaniser, quick talker we loved but just a dull smart guy, Stella brings us the female character need for the heist and the daughter of Mr Bridger does work but she isn’t anything overly special. Steve is the traditional backstabber greedy villain but again doesn’t have too much about him. The rest of the crew all have the banter they need that get laughs but are no more than you need, the tech guy, the explosives guy and the getaway driver.

Performance wise, I think the word fine is going to be used a lot here, Wahlberg just doesn’t have the charisma that Michael Caine bought to the role and the whole of the ‘good’ team have fine but nothing special performances. Ed Norton on the other hand you can see doesn’t want to be there.

StoryThe story does build on the original story, it has a heist in Italy, but after that first ten minutes it turns into a revenge heist in LA making the title misleading. The story isn’t anything fresh because we have seen this style of heist movie many times before, it just rips off one of the bests ideas.

Action/CrimeThe action is fine as we are left with the final chase being the payoff for the movie but it doesn’t live up to the original. The crime is a heist so we are cheering for thieve whatever happens.

SettingsThe opening setting is Italy great works for the title of the film but the rest is set in LA which doesn’t make sense.

Special EffectsThe special effects are used to show whole the heist will go but it just doesn’t look very good.

Final ThoughtsIf this was a stand-alone heist movie it would be good but nothing special but being a remake it just doesn’t work on the right levels.

 

Overall: Remake we never really needed.

Rating

 

 

Original v Remake Weekend – The Italian Job (1969)

jobDirector: Peter Collinson

Writer: Troy Kennedy-Martin (Screenplay)

Starring: Michael Caine, Noel Coward, Benny Hill, Raf Vallone, Tony Beckley, Rossano Brazzi

 

Plot: Comic caper movie about a plan to steal a gold shipment from the streets of Turin by creating a traffic jam.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Classic Crime Caper

 

Story: The Italian Job starts as Charlie Croker (Caine) gets released from prison and going about his day in his con-artist thieving lifestyle. Charlie has already got a job set up for with the recently killed Beckerman (Brazzi) who has planned a robbery in Italy down to perfection.

Charlie needs to put his own team together for this job which brings him back to his old business associates with Mr Bridger (Coward) financing the job from behind bars. Charlie puts together his team as they head off to Italy for the job with a series of training mistakes.

The job takes a turn when Charlie learns the Mafia are also looking to take out any Englishman trying to steal from their country but can Charlie pull off the biggest heist of his career, that is the question.

 

Thoughts on The Italian Job

 

Characters/PerformanceCharlie is your typical wheeler-dealer criminal that can charm his way into anything or out of anything. He likes his plan and most of all he is the leader for the crime team. Mr Bridger is the financer who is behind bars but has all of the power England seems to want to let him have. The rest of the characters all have odd quirks but don’t get enough screen time to become memorable.

Performance wise this film is a Michael Caine masterclass where he does steal every single scene he is starring in, Noel Coward does seem to have a lot of fun with his overly English character with the rest of the cast all doing their jobs well.stars

StoryThe story is about a crime heist in a different country, we get to see how it all comes together with twists in the story. There really isn’t too much more to go on when you break down the story, it is easy to follow and you all should know how it ends now.

Action/Comedy/CrimeWatching the heist unfold is all the action we need for this film with the crime side of the story being the planning of the heist which also has elements of comedy going on throughout.

SettingsHaving the heist set in Italy does make this stand out from the rest of the films in this genre and is still just as iconic as this film has become.genre

Final ThoughtsThis film will always be remembered for it’s unbelievable final car chase through the streets of Italy and you can see just how brilliant that scene is.

 

Overall: The classic of all heist movies and cliff hanger endings.

Ratingrating