ABC Film Challenge – Action Movies – S – Spy Game (2001)

Director: Tony Scott

Writer: Michael Frost Beckner, David Arata (Screenplay)

Starring: Robert Redford, Brad Pitt, Catherine McCormack, Stephen Dillane, Larry Bryggman

 

Plot: Retiring CIA agent Nathan Muir recalls his training of Tom Bishop while working against agency politics to free him from his Chinese captors.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Nice Spin on the Thriller

 

Story: Spy Game starts as CIA spy Tom Bishop (Pitt) gets captured in China on his latest mission, back home America is panicking with his retiring former handler Nathan Muir (Redford) bought into the fold to learn about his character.

Nathan finds himself being interviewed to understand the mentality Tom has, which leads to flashbacks as we learn about how Tom was recruited and his ability to make new assets as we go through the cases he worked on with Nathan. This all goes into the race against time to make the decision on whether to trade or leave Tom to rot in Chinese jail.

 

Thoughts on Spy Game

 

Characters/PerformanceNathan Muir has worked a decorated career for the CIA handling spies searching for assets around the world. He is about to retire but his last day he must do everything to save one of his best recruits Tom Bishop. Tom Bishop is the spy that has been captured on his latest mission, we learn through the film just how skied his ability as a spy was as we also learn his strengths and weaknesses. Elizabeth Hadley has a past with Tom which might be the reason why everything has gone down.

Performance wise, Robert Redford and Brad Pitt are both great throughout showing us just how the two can play the mentor student kind of relationship through the film.

StoryLooking at the story we get to see how a mentor in the CIA must recount his relationship with one of his best student turned spy, this gives us a nice mix between training even when Tom is experienced in the field and seeing how Nathan is looking back at his career. We also have enough spy material to keep us on edge throughout.

Action/Crime/ThrillerThe action in this film is very calm, it is the thrilling side of everything that keeps us on the edge of our seats as we are left to wonder if there is a crime going on or not.

SettingsThe settings show us just how the world of spies can be left open to anything and everything.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good thriller that keeps us on edge through the whole film with great performance from Redford through the film.

 

Overall: One for the thriller fans to enjoy.

Rating

 

 

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ABC Film Challenge – Random – V – Vanilla Sky (2001)

Director: Cameron Crowe

Writer: Cameron Crowe (Screenplay) Alejandro Amenabar, Mateo Gil (Original Screenplay)

Starring: Tom Cruise, Penelope Cruz, Cameron Diaz, Kurt Russell, Jason Lee, Noah Taylor, Timothy Spall, Tilda Swinton, Michael Shannon

 

Plot: A self-indulgent and vain publishing magnate finds his privileged life upended after a vehicular accident with a resentful lover.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Trippy Fantasy Thriller

 

Story: Vanilla Sky starts as we meet David Aames (Cruise) a playboy publishing mogul that inherited this from his father. He sleeps with beautiful women including actress Julie Gianni (Diaz) but always finds time for his best friend Brian Shelby (Lee). But, his life has been shattered thanks to a car accident which has left him disfigured hiding behind a mask in jail.

While waiting for his hearing David recounts the events which led up to his charges to McCabe (Russell). We learn how David meets Sofia Serrano (Cruz) the woman of his dreams but Julie shows her jealous side causing a car crash which leaves him broken and living between reality and dreams, needing to face his new life.

 

Thoughts on Vanilla Sky

 

Characters/PerformanceDavid lived a life where he could have any women living the life of luxury until this lifestyle catches up with him, leaving him disfigured and in jail, recounting the events between the two moments. Sofia is the new love that David falls for, she has all the chemistry he requires for something different being the motivation for David to fix himself. Julie is the jealous former lover that causes the accident, she is an actress that is filled with self-confidence but all that isn’t everything we have come to know.

Performance wise, Tom Cruise is great in the leading role, not being afraid to make himself slightly disfigured for this role. Cameron Diaz and Penelope Cruz are both are both also great in the roles of the two women in David’s life.

StoryIn a story that leaves you questioning nearly everything going on even after you believe you have just worked everything out, well this story will keep you all over the place. I do think this does enough to keep us guessing without becoming tiring and will completely satisfied by the end.

Fantasy/Mystery/RomanceThe fantasy world created comes through in the end and it will leave you shocked with the outcome of the film, getting to this stage we are left with a big mystery into just what has been happening with the romance being how David falls in love with Sofia.

SettingsEach setting is used well, but the truly special moment in the New York being empty looks fantastic.

Special EffectsThe effects that are used to create the disfigured looking David all come off great with the other effects all doing the required effect in the film.

Final ThoughtsThis film will test your mind which is always something we like to see in films, yes, it is a remake or reimagination but still it looks fantastic.

 

Overall: This was a true mind bender of morale decision making.

Rating

 

 

David Lynch Weekend – Mulholland Drive (2001)

Director: David Lynch

Writer: David Lynch (Screenplay)

Starring: Naomi Watts, Laura Harring, Justin Theroux, Robert Forster, Ann Miller, Dan Hedaya

 

Plot: After a car wreck on the winding Mulholland Drive renders a woman amnesiac, she and a perky Hollywood-hopeful search for clues and answers across Los Angeles in a twisting venture beyond dreams and reality.


Tagline – A woman in search of stardom. A woman in search of herself – in the city of dreams. A key to a mystery – lies somewhere on Mulholland Drive.

Runtime: 2 Hours 27 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: One Day I Will Understand This Gem

 

Story: Mulholland Drive starts as actress Rita (Harring) is involved in an accident but escaping the people trying to kill her. The apartment she takes shelter in is about to be taken up by aspiring actress Betty (Watts) who is staying in her Aunt’s apartment while trying to get on her feet. Director Adam (Theroux) is trying to get his next movie made but is being forced into casting Camilla Rhodes who no one can find.

Rita and Betty work together to find out the truth about who Rita is which brings them closer in an adventure across LA, while Adam is following a path to get his latest movie made and dealing with gangsters.

 

Thoughts on Mulholland Drive

 

Characters – Betty is the innocent young woman who arrives in LA hoping to making it in the acting world, but upon arriving she has an unexpected guest, she is kind natured and willing to help this stranger who ends up taking her to places she never thought she would go. Rita is the lady who has lost her memory, she is hiding out in the apartment that Betty is staying in and is helped along the way to regain her memory. Adam is a cocky director that believes he knows it all when it comes to making a film but he is pushed into making certain decisions which leaves him against what he wishes.

PerformancesNaomi Watts is great in the leading role working perfectly with Laura Harring as the two have great chemistry through the film. we get to see two different sides of the performance seeing how the two different sides of everything unfolds.

StoryWhat starts out as a simple idea of a mystery behind one woman’s amnesia takes a very different turn in the final act of the film which ends up throwing everything we thought we knew up in the air. Like a lot of David Lynch films you will need to watch the story a few times to understand everything putting the pieces together to make a film you can understand but that is why this is one for the brain to enjoy.

MysteryWe are left to figure out what happened, it does take time and I am sure on multiple viewings you will understand what happened.

SettingsThe film is set in LA which helps us understand the dreams and desires of the characters to succeed.

Special EffectsThe effects are only used a couple of times but the truth is they work very well through the film.


Scene of the Movie –
Hitman’s mistake adds comic moment to a serious film.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Certain moments leave you wondering what was that.

Final ThoughtsThis is a mystery movie that I enjoyed so much because it just keeps you needing to rethink nearly every scene in the movie to understand what you just saw.

 

Overall: True mystery brain tester.

Rating

 

 

Franchise Weekend – The Fast of the Furious (2001)

Director: Rob Cohen

Writer: Gary Scott Thompson, Erik Bergquist, David Ayer (Screenplay) Gary Scott Thompson (Story)

Starring: Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Rick Yune, Chad Lindberg, Johnny Strong, Matt Schulze, Ted Levine

 

Plot: Los Angeles police officer Brian O’Connor must decide where his loyalty really lies when he becomes enamored with the street racing world he has been sent undercover to destroy.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun Begins

 

Story: The Fast and the Furious starts as we meet Brian (Walker) a want to be street racer trying to find his way into the good books of street racing icon Dominic Toretto (Diesel). Earning the respect of Dom after saving him from the police, Brian finds himself welcomed into the world.

This opens the door for us to meet Dom’s enemy on the street, Johnny Tran (Yune) before we learn the truth about Brian’s involvement as an undercover police officer trying to uncover who is behind the crime spree behind the street racing thieves.

The deeper Brian gets into the family the greater the respect both sides have towards each but with his superiors running out of patience Brian must learn what is really going on before Dom’s crew get hurt.

 

Thoughts on The Fast and the Furious

 

Characters/PerformanceThe characters we have all come to love start here with Brian the undercover police officers trying to up his ranking in the police force while growing the respect of the underground street racers. Brian fits this world as the outsider as the way in for us the audience too. Dom is the alpha male of the group that everyone respects and once you earn his you become untouchable. He is the best racer, the loyalist friend and brother. Johnny Tran makes for a good starter villain who is just a racing rival to Dom. Letty is the girlfriend of Dom that does have control over him but we don’t see too much from, Mia is Dom’s brother that becomes a love interest for Brian. The rest of the characters are all small parts to the big world Dom controls.

Performance wise, you can see the draw of Paul Walker to this role where you can argue his is the bigger name for the time and he is great, in this film you can see how early into his career Vin Diesel was and he just doesn’t have the screen presence we know from him now. The rest of the cast all do well playing the parts how you would expect them to be.

StoryThe story side of this movie is easy to follow, uncover cop gets drawn to the world he is investigating because of the excitement it gives him. We have the checklist for story here offer us just flashy races to make this different than for example Point Break.

Action/Crime/ThrillerThe races are all good to watch, as well are the heists being pulled off which show us both the crime sides of the story because of the illegal racing and they keeps us all on edge for the thrilling side of the story.

SettingsThe film is mostly set in LA which makes for the style the film has because it is away from the glitz and glamor of the world we know.

Special EffectsThe special effects are all here for the races and showing how certain elements of the engine work to increase speed.

Final ThoughtsThis franchise is the go to for nonsense action, but it didn’t start that way and this film shows us the street racing, beginning of a friendship and just how far these guys would go.

 

Overall: The true fans will always love this one over any sequel because of the importance this film gives us to the future franchise.

Rating

 

 

George Clooney Franchise Weekend – Ocean’s Eleven (2001)

oceanDirector: Steven Soderbergh

Writer: Ted Griffin (Screenplay) Harry Brown, Charles Lederer (Original Screenplay)

Starring: George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Julia Roberts, Andy Garcia, Bernie Mac, Casey Affleck, Elliott Gould, Carl Reiner, Scott Caan, Eddie Jemison, Shaobo Qin

 

Plot: Danny Ocean and his eleven accomplices plan to rob three Las Vegas casinos simultaneously.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Slick, Stylish Heist Film

 

Story: Ocean’s Eleven starts with Danny Ocean (Clooney) getting released from prison after his life has fallen apart with his wife leaving him. Danny heading straight to Las Vegas looking for a team to rob three casinos owned by Terry Benedict (Garcia). The team Danny puts together is his right-hand man Rusty (Pitt) blacklisted dealer Frank (Mac) finaceer Reuben (Gould), gadget men Virgil (Affleck) and Turk (Caan), tech guy Livingston (Jemison) acrobat Yen (Qin), senior player Saul (Reiner) explosives expert Basher (Cheadle) and pickpocket Linus (Damon).

With the location set the team set out to prepare for the heist but things take a turn when Rusty learns of Tess (Roberts) involvement with Benedict as this has turned into a revenge mission against his ex-wife.

 

Thoughts on Ocean’s Eleven

 

StoryThe story is about the heist going on with the careful planning that goes into everything. we do get the slip ups along the way which makes it all fun to watch and with the pacing being almost perfect you barely notice the time fly by. We have a film that builds the character to make everyone important to the heist.

Crime/ThrillerWhen you go into heist films you always have an expectation level and this one nails it on every single level as we are all kept guessing to what the next trick up the guys sleeves will be.

Characters/PerformanceDanny is a great leading character that is filled with charisma and with the tea he puts together you care and are interested in all their stories. Terry Benedict makes for a great villain who people are all looking to get one over. It is the Tess character I have most issues with in this film because she is made out to be mostly a money grabber. The performances are all fantastic because we get Clooney leading the film with ease but each of the supporting characters know exactly just how much screen time they are getting and how to make the most of each and every scene they are in.

SettingsThe film is set inside Vegas with most of the set inside the casino as we see the planning and execution of the plan in its full.

Final ThoughtsThis is by far one of the finest heist movies you will be lucky enough to ever see.

 

Overall: Enjoy the heist unfold.

Ratingcard