ABC Film Challenge – Biopic – K – Kill the Messenger (2014)

Director: Michael Cuesta

Writer: Peter Landesman (Screenplay) Gary Webb, Nick Schou (Book)

Starring: Jeremy Renner, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Rosemarie DeWitt, Ray Liotta, Barry Pepper, Oliver Platt, Michel Sheen, Andy Garcia

 

Plot: Based on the true story of journalist Gary Webb. The film takes place in the mid-1990s, when Webb uncovered the CIA’s past role in importing huge amounts of cocaine into the U.S. that was aggressively sold in ghettos across the country to raise money for the Nicaraguan Contras’ rebel army. Despite enormous pressure not to, Webb chose to pursue the story and went public with his evidence, publishing the series “Dark Alliance”. As a result he experienced a vicious smear campaign fueled by the CIA. At that point Webb found himself defending his integrity, his family, and his life.


Tagline –  How the CIA’s crack-cocaine controversy destroyed journalist Gary Webb

Runtime: 1 Hour 52 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Investigation Journalism 101

 

Story: Kill the Messenger starts as reporter Gary Webb (Renner) has been investigating the handling of drug dealers who are fond not guilty in a court of law. This opens the door for Gary to a whole new story about how the CIA had been using drug trade to fund a war in Nicaragua.

The deeper Gary got into the story the more the CIA put pressure on him as he must regain his reputation after the CIA pulls the same tricks to disgrace him.

 

Thoughts on Kill the Messenger

 

Characters – The characters in this film are based on the real people, we are looking at their own decisions which would have put them in the position they find themselves in. Gary Webb is a reporter, he believes he has the biggest story of his career which puts his own family life and career on the line by trying to expose the CIA. Sue is the wife that sees her personal life become part of the sideshow in the press. We do have many other reporters, contacts, CIA agents, lawyers and even the drug dealers themselves who interact with Gary as the story comes to the light of day.

PerformancesJeremy Renner is the star of this film, he does a great job in the leading role dealing with the different situations he finds himself in. the film is filled with great performances from the characters actors we have seen in plenty of films through the years.

StoryThe story here shows us one man’s determination to try and bring a story to life, one that could expose the governments secrets. This brings him into a personal battle against the CIA who are trying to ruin his reputation and destroy his creditability. The is based on the real man and the real story which once again shows us just how governments can become corrupt for their own gain. Though this is based on the true story, it does feel like it is lacking something to truly bring us into the film, we find ourselves just on the side lines of the story which never reaches the levels it could do.

Biopic/Crime/MysteryThe biopic side of this film is the important part of the film, we focus on the man whose story turned people against him even though he was exposing a big crime within the government.

SettingsThe settings do take us around America and even through the North America countries as we see where the truth is being designed to send us to the different corners of the truth.


Scene of the Movie –
Speech.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Driving looked terribly fake.

Final ThoughtsThis is a biopic movie that does set out to show us the truth about the CIA using the drug trade to fund a war but quickly turns into the CIA trying to discredit the man behind it all, it doesn’t reach the highest levels we are hoping for even it Renner does shine through the film.

 

Overall: One for the biopic fans out there.

Rating

 

 

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Kill the Irishman (2011)

Director: Jonathan Hensleigh

Writer: Jonathan Hensleigh, Jeremy Walters (Screenplay) Rick Porrello (Book)

Starring: Ray Stevenson, Vincent D’Onofrio, Val Kilmer, Christopher Walken, Linda Cardellini, Tony Darrow, Robert Davi

 

Plot: The true story of Danny Greene, a tough Irish thug working for mobsters in Cleveland during the 1970’s.


Tagline – Based on the true story of Danny Greene the man the mob couldn’t kill

Runtime: 1 Hour 46 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Enjoyable Gangster Biopic

 

Story: Kill the Irishman starts in Cleveland 1975 where somebody tries to kill Irish thug Danny Greene (Stevenson) where detective Joe Manditski (Kilmer) fills in the past relationship between the two. We learn how Danny rose from smart worker to take over the union and begin ties with the Mafia John Nardi (D’Onofrio).

As Danny builds his reputation through Cleveland becoming somewhat of a Robin Hood figure, as he tries to leave the life behind even with his connections still strong, it soon becomes the challenge that no one could find a way to kill Danny.

 

Thoughts on Kill the Irishman

 

Characters – Danny Greene is a working man in Cleveland, he makes the connections within the Mafia he becomes one of their thugs before leaving the life to become a real businessman until he crosses them and becomes the target for a bounty on his head. John Nardi is the connection within the Mafia, that one that befriends Danny and offers the guidance he needs. Joe Manditski is the detective that is trying to keep everything in order and with his previous relationship with a younger Danny, he knows the character of Danny better than anyone. Shondor Birns is one up the next step up in the ladder of the Mafia that trusts Danny, only a business deal goes wrong and he puts the first hit out on Danny.

PerformancesRay Stevenson is great in this leading role, this is easily he best leading man performances of his career. Vincent D’Onofrio is good in the supporting role as are the whole supporting cast including Val Kilmer, Christopher Walken and a host of faces we are used to seeing in gangster movies.

StoryThe story here follows the rise through the Mafia of Irishman Danny Greene through Cleveland through the 1970s, his story become big news for the area and some people saw him as a hero, others a criminal. We see how the gangster world is unfolded when the lines between right and wrong are crossed and the self-destruction from within will be their biggest weakness. This does follow most of what we do know from the genre and being based on a real person shows how the world can be easy to become the latest victim off. The time jumps in the storytelling are annoying because we don’t truly get to see just how much success he is having in the film.

Biopic/CrimeThe crime world we enter is what we know, gangster who will kill anyone that crosses them. The biopic is everything we need to see as we learn about Danny Greene.

SettingsThe film keeps us in and around Cleveland with a 70s feeling throughout the film.


Scene of the Movie –
Danny knows what is happening.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Vinnie Jones’ Irish accent.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good look at one of the members of the gangster that’s story helped change thing how the Mafia too.

 

Overall: Good biopic on the Irishman.

Rating

 

 

Kill Me Three Times (2014)

Director: Kriv Stenders

Writer: James McFarland (Screenplay)

Starring: Simon Pegg, Steve Le Marquand, Alice Brage, Teresa Palmer, Sullivan Stapleton, Luke Hemsworth

 

Plot: Professional hit-man Charlie Wolfe finds himself in three tales of murder, blackmail and revenge after a botched contract assignment.


Tagline – Once is never enough

Runtime: 1 Hour 30 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Badly Executed Crime Comedy

 

Story: Kill Me Three Times starts with Charlie (Pegg) completing one of his jobs before getting called into the next one, where he follows Alice (Braga) who is the target of Lucy (Palmer) and Nathan (Stapleton), she is trying to get away from her life and be with Dylan (Hemsworth), but her gangster husband Jack (Mulvey) won’t let her.

As the plot thickens Charlie is looking back on where he thinks things might have gone wrong as we jump around the timeline a lot.

 

Thoughts on Kill Me Three Times

 

Characters – Charlie is the hitman assigned to kill Alice, he ends up witnesses another couple trying to get the job done as we see how he operates and thinks about how his plan could unfold. Alice is the target, she is married to an abusive man and is trying to get out of her relationship, only to become the target for hitmen. Nathan and Lucy are a couple that are planning on killed Alice, even when things don’t always go to plan.

PerformancesThis is a film where we can’t say much good or bad about the acting, because it is the directing and storytelling which are the weak parts. The performances across the board are average without being very good.

StoryThe story here jumps between three timelines to see different point of views when it comes to how the events unfold. Now this comes off messy for the most part because we lack the motivation early on from just what is going on, it tries to be too overly smart and falls flat on its face. This is a story that just doesn’t meet the levels it believes it should be and by the end you will have lost attention to follow each little branch of the story.

Comedy/CrimeThis doesn’t hit the comedy levels it could, even if they try to make us laugh at the moments that just don’t work, with the crime side we see how different sides are trying to get money or get rid of people in their lives.

SettingsThe film is set in a couple of locations where we see the bar, the road, the home just random spots which don’t make things look in the right place.


Scene of the Movie –
The opening sequence.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Too many branches in the storyline.

Final ThoughtsThis is a disappointing crime comedy that just doesn’t hit the marks it needs to and falls flat on its face.

 

Overall: Dull.

Rating

 

 

Kicks (2016)

Director: Justin Tipping

Writer: Joshua Beirne-Golden, Justin Tipping (Screenplay)

Starring: Jahking Guillory, Christopher Jordan Wallace, Christopher Meyer, Kofi Siriboe, Mahershala Ali, Rxchie

 

Plot: Brandon is a 15 year old whose dream is a pair of fresh Air Jordans. Soon after he gets his hands on them, they’re stolen by a local hood, causing Brandon and his two friends to go on a dangerous mission through Oakland to retrieve them.


Tagline – They aren’t just shoes.

Runtime: 1 Hour 20 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Shoe Mentality

 

Story: Kicks starts as we meet 15-year-old Brandon (Guillory) who comes from a poor family in Oakland, whose pride and joy would be to have a pair of Air Jordans. When Brandon buys some black-market versions of the shoes, only to have them stolen by local hood Flaco (Siriboe).

Wanting to get his shoes back, he goes on an adventure with his two best friends Albert (Wallace) and Rico (Meyer) which sees him dive into the gang mentality of the neighbourhood in Oakland.

 

Thoughts on Kicks

 

Characters – Brandon has come from a poor family, he knows how to stay out of trouble usually using his running pace, he has always wanted to have his own pair of Air Jordans, which he purchases, making him feel like he is on top of the world. After they are stolen, he risks his friendship to get them back from on of the most dangerous men in the hood. Albert and Rico are the two best friends of Brandon, they have their own characteristics which makes the group complete and will help Brandon retrieve his shoes. Flaco is the man that steals Brandon’s shoes, he uses his gang to outnumber him and is considered one of the most dangerous men in the neighbourhood.

PerformancesJahking Guillory in the leading role is great to watch, he has shows us how difficult being a kid in the wrong neighbourhood can be. We understand his character’s decisions and feeling of hopelessness in the world he is facing. The supporting cast are great too, fully embrace themselves in this neighbourhood.

StoryThe story here follows a teenager that ends up starting a potential gang war after his shoes are stolen and he wants to take them back from a notorious gang leader. This story shows us how important the little things in the kids in this gangland mentality neighbourhoods mean the world and how they will do anything to get what they need. The shoes are clearly metaphors for becoming a man which in this neighbourhood is one of the most important moments in the lives of these teenagers. Watching from the outside, we are watching the people involved fighting over a pair of shoes which does seem almost pointless in the end.

SettingsThe film is set in Oakland which shows us how the neighbourhood is being operated in by the different gangs.


Scene of the Movie –
The chase.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The whole story is about a pair of shoes being stolen.

Final ThoughtsThis is an interesting coming-of-age stories in the tough street of Oakland, it shows how difficult to navigate for the locals this will be.

 

Overall: Interesting Coming-of-age tale.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Action – K – Killing Gunther (2017)

Director: Taran Killam

Writer: Taran Killam (Screenplay)

Starring: Taran Killam, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Cobie Smulders, Bobby Moynihan, Hannah Simone, Aaron Yoo

 

Plot: A group of eccentric assassins are fed up with Gunther, the world’s greatest hitman, and decide to kill him, but their plan turns into a series of bungled encounters as Gunther seems to always be one step ahead.


Tagline – They’re Out to Change the Killing Business

Runtime: 1 Hour 32 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Silly Fun

 

Story: Killing Gunther starts as assassin Blake (Killam) hires a documentary crew to film himself putting a team together to hunt down the most famous assassin Gunther (Schwarzenegger). Blake’s team includes Donnie (Moynihan), Sanaa (Simone), Gabe (Brittain) Izzat (Talai) Young (Yoo), Mia (Tolman) and Barold (Gaul), each has their own reason to go after Gunther.

It doesn’t take long before things go terribly wrong as Gunther learns of the hit on him and starts picking off the members of the team, until they are left whether to continue on this mission or walk away.

 

Thoughts on Killing Gunther

 

Characters – Blake is the hitman that wants the title of the best in the world, one that Gunther has, he believes that if he can take out Gunther, he will get that position and he puts together the team. It is his plan even though it does have personal motivation for this too, which he doesn’t let the rest of the team know about. Donnie is the explosives expert that tends to be part of an on running joke going through the film. Sanaa is the daughter of a previous deadliest assassin, he still follows her around trying to protect her, she wants to prove herself to be better than him and does seem to be the deadliest of the group. Gunther is the assassin that has the biggest reputation within the world, he has become the target and has decided to have some fun at their expense.

PerformancesTaran Killam directs and stars in the leading role, the best way to judge the performances go down to just how you read the comedy, if you make sure this is just a bit of fun style, you will like the performances. This film revolves around just how committed Arnold Schwarzenegger was willing to be poking fun at himself, he isn’t afraid making this work with the final acts being the funniest.

StoryThe story follows a group of assassins that go on the hunt for the most legendary assassin in the business, things don’t go well for the team as the learn the hard way just how dangerous Gunther is. This story is sent in documentary style which sees the camera crew following the team around with interviews going on between scenes. This does add to the comedy in the story and prepares us not to take anything too seriously. We do get foreshadowing leading up to certain deaths too which works out well.

Action/ComedyThe action comes from the different situations where Gunther is almost caught and the explosions going on through the film. the comedy works because we get to poke fun first at assassins we have seen in films before and then at Schwarzenegger can laugh at his previous roles.

SettingsThe film takes our team to different cities in the search for Gunther, this leads to different moments through the film which again adds to the comedy.


Scene of the Movie –
Meeting Gunther.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Slightly hard to see these assassins being considered the best let alone good.

Final ThoughtsThis is a silly fun comedy that will get the laughs required as long as you don’t go in looking for anything serious.

 

Overall: Simple and silly fun.

Rating