ABC Film Challenge – Action – W – War (2007)

Director: Philip G Atwell

Writer: Lee Anthony Smith, Gregory J Bradley (Screenplay)

Starring: Jet Li, Jason Statham, John Lone, Devon Aoki, Luis Guzman, Saul Rubinek, Ryo Ishibashi

 

Plot: An FBI Agent seeks vengeance on a mysterious assassin known as “Rogue” who murdered his partner.


Tagline – One wants justice, the other wants revenge.

Runtime: 1 Hour 43 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Action Packed Twist Filled Film

 

Story: War starts when Crawford (Statham) and his partner Tom (Chen) are trying to locate the known assassin for hire Rogue (Li) the investigation takes a turn, when Tom and his family are murdered by Rogue. Joining a task force in hunt for Rogue, while watching over the two rival gangs the Triads and Yakuza, with Chang (Lone) and Shiro (Ishibashi) leading each side.

When Rogue starts playing both sides, Crawford sees the war coming, can Crawford finally get his hands on the man that killed his partner or will he become the latest victim of the mysterious assassin.

 

Thoughts on War

 

Characters – Rogue is the mysterious assassin that killed Tom’s whole family, he has been working for the Yakuza for years, but now he has switched sides to the Triads, he hasn’t been caught and is know for getting facial reconstruction to hide his identity. Rogue does have his own plans for his latest job which sees him going head to head with Crawford. Crawford is the FBI agent that is sees his partner murdered, he has been chasing Rogue for years and now he will do everything he can to final catch him and end his reign of terror, which has cost him his own wife. Chang is the leader of the Triads that has been able to keep business from persona life, he easily trust a former enemy though. Kira is running the operations for the Yakuza in San Francisco for her father being the only person he can trust.

PerformancesJet Li was in his prime during the mid-2000s, this shows he could be the cold-hearted killer, just as deadly with a gun than his fists. Jason Statham continued to make an impact on the action genre, he works well in this role being the detective we need for the film. John Lone, Devon Aoki and Ryo Ishibashi complete the supporting cast with effective ability doing what is needed for the film.

StoryThe story follows an FBI agent tracking a mysterious assassin who killed his partner, which sees him reappear when two rival gangs are about to go into full blown war. This does seem like a story that is going down one simple line, it is very busy with four different people planning their attacks to stay on top of the game. This is an action story that does get elevated by the final act which does turn everything on its head, making you want to go back and see if you can pick up on the clues being laid.

Action/CrimeThe action in War is combat based, be it the hand to hand fights or the gun flying around making the body count rise. We are completely in the criminal underworld of the Triad and Yakuza war.

SettingsThe film is set in San Francisco which shows us how America has become overrun by international gang wars looking to expand their businesses.


Scene of the Movie –
Shiro versus Rogue fight.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Certain flashbacks are annoying.

Final ThoughtsThis is a great action packed movie that is well worth a watch, it does have a killer twist which will make it stand out from the rest.

 

Overall: Wonderful action packed film.

Rating

 

 

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Michael Rooker Weekend – Whisper (2007)

Director: Stewart Hendler

Writer: Christopher Borrelli (Screenplay)

StarringMichael Rooker, Josh Holloway, Blake Woodruff, Sarah Wayne Callies, Julian Christopher, Joel Edgerton, Dule Hill 

 

Plot: Sinister things begin happening to kidnappers who are holding a young boy for ransom in a remote cabin.


Tagline – The devil’s work is childs play

Runtime: 1 Hour 34 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Nice Little Horror

 

Story: Whisper starts when a group of criminals Max (Holoway), Sidney (Rooker), Roxanne (Callies) and Vince (Edgerton) kidnap a young boy David (Woodruff) in an attempt to gain a large ransom, as they look to sort their lives out.

Once David is in their possession, the four criminals soon learn that they have bitten off more than they can chew, when it turns out David has some kind of power which he will use against them as he is pure evil.

 

Thoughts on Whisper

 

Characters – Max is the member of the gang that wants to go clean, he wants his own business, but doesn’t have the capital to achieve this, he take the job in hopes that it will give him the money required to get the business and seems to be the only one that can keep it together through the events of the kidnapping. David is the boy that has been kidnapped, he is shown to be a loner even at his own birthday party, but it soon becomes clear that he has some form of powers that even his mother is scared off, using them to trick the criminals. Roxanne is the girlfriend of Max’s she is the first one to fold and want to quit the job as the mother instincts start taking over. Sidney is the leader of the gang that is putting the job together, he knows who to pick which does make this easier for him, though he isn’t prepared for this job.

PerformancesThis is a strange one for performances because our leads are Josh Holloway and Sarah Wayne Callies who at the time were involved in two of the biggest television shows, they both do an acceptable enough job playing to their strengths. Michael Rooker brings the strength in his performance, while young Blake Woodruff makes for an evil child with ease.

StoryThe story here is interesting because it does take a different turn when it comes to the kidnapping genre, by adding the horror elements. It does seem like everything is going to be by the book, until we learn early on when David is pure evil and turns the tables on the kidnappers. Now this should all work well and for the most part is an enjoyable enough watch, only we get a third act twist which only leaves us question large parts of the first act along with certain characters decisions.

Crime/HorrorThe crime side of the film follows the kidnapping which seems to have gone smoothly for the criminals, the don’t get enough focus on the investigation though, which does feel like it could be an important part of the film. The horror side of the film focuses on the idea of the pure evil that David is and just how he uses his powers to make the people do the terrible things.

SettingsThe film has a couple of settings with the safehouse being the cabin in the woods away from any visitors, the small town just helps show how desperate the criminals are too.

Special EffectsWhen it comes to the effects, we get a true mixed bag because the film doesn’t seem to commit on the levels needed to create the scares required.


Scene of the Movie –
The final fight.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The shower scene is shot badly.

Final ThoughtsThis is an easy to watch horror that is all we ask for at times, this isn’t the scariest film you will see and by the end it does have enough surprises to turn heads.

 

Overall: Simple and easy to watch horror.

Rating

 

 

Emily Blunt Weekend – Wind Chill (2007)

Director: Gregory Jacobs

Writer: Joe Gangemi, Steven Katz (Screenplay)

Starring: Emily Blunt, Ashton Holmes, Martin Donovan, Ned Bellamy

 

Plot: Two college students share a ride home for the holidays, but when they break down on a deserted stretch of road, they are preyed upon by the ghosts of people who have died there.


Tagline – Catch Your Death

Runtime: 1 Hour 31 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Nice Little Horror

 

Story: Wind Chill starts as a college student only known as Girl (Blunt) is looking to head to Delaware for Christmas, suggested the ride share, she gets a lift with Guy (Holmes) as the difficulties in the journey beginning with their lack of conversation.

When the journey starts to take an unexpected turn with the nature of the lift being offered, the two get caught up in an accident on a snowy highway, needing to survive the cold they wait for rescue until they start seeing people walking past only to not get any reply from them with the visits getting more haunting as the night rolls on.

 

Thoughts on Wind Chill

 

Characters – This is a strange film for trying to describe the characters, no one is named, so we have, Girl who is trying to get home for Christmas, she seems stuck up about everything and feels selfish for the most part. She does start to take the ride share guy for granted without wanting to give him the conversation desired. She does feel more streetwise through certain situations though. The Guy who offers the lift, seems simple enough to start with, only for his true motivation to come to light, as he has planned to use the lift to get to know the girl. The highway Patrolman is one of the more aggressive spirits haunting the highway, we learn more about his presence as the students learn about him.

PerformancesEmily Blunt is now one of the biggest names in the industry and like many young stars they start in a small horror movie, she is good in the leading role, showing all her potential for the world to see. Ashton Holmes is good in the supporting role and Martin Donovan makes for the creepy patrolman.

StoryThe story follows a couple of students that are travelling across country for Christmas, only to find themselves in a crash which leaves them stranded in the freezing condition which only becomes worse then the ghosts of the road start haunting them. This is a mix of survival story which shows how the girl must survive the conditions, while also doing the ghosts haunting to send a warning of what is coming. We do get a lot of sequences which you need to pay attention to certain elements and we do get foreshadowing being used that you will pick up on too. The story doesn’t need to be that complicated which is isn’t and you can follow along even with a twist along the way.

HorrorThe horror comes from first the location of being isolated after the accident, then the ghosts only make it worse because they learn what one of them will do if it gets its hands on them.

SettingsThe film puts our characters on the side of the snow-covered road over the night which is filled with freezing conditions which will only make rescue difficult for the characters.

Special EffectsThe effects are held off for when they are needed to make us understand the paranormal to reality moments.


Scene of the Movie –
The end of it?

That Moment That Annoyed Me One too many false moments.

Final ThoughtsThis is a nice little horror that will get the jumps when needed and clever story telling on what could be going on.

 

Overall: Horror fans check this one out.

Rating

 

 

Atonement (2007)

Director: Joe Wright

Writer: Christopher Hampton (Screenplay) Ian McEwan (Novel)

Starring: James McAvoy, Keira Knightley, Saoirse Ronan, Juno Temple, Brenda Blethyn, Benedict Cumberbatch

 

Plot: Fledgling writer Briony Tallis, as a thirteen-year-old, irrevocably changes the course of several lives when she accuses her older sister’s lover of a crime he did not commit.


Tagline – Joined by love. Separated by fear. Redeemed by hope

Runtime: 2 Hours 3 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Dull and Uninspiring

 

Story: Atonement starts when young Briony Tallis (Ronan) keeps seeing events between her older sister Cecilia (Knightley) and her lover Robbie Turner (McAvoy) from an angle she couldn’t understand believing he is hurting her. Keeping this secret until her cousin Lola (Temple) is raped in the middle of the night, she believes it was Robbie who committed the crime.

4 years later the lives of these people have changed, Robbie is now in the army World War II. Cecilia is still waiting for Robbie, though the effects of that night 4 years ago will never be forgotten between the people involved.

 

Thoughts on Atonement

 

Characters – Robbie Turner is the son of the housekeeper for the Tallis family, he was given an education while starting a romance with eldest daughter Cecilia. When things start getting steamy a misunderstanding derail he life, leaving him going to war and forever wondering what really could have been. Cecilia is the eldest daughter of the family she is involved in a romance with Robbie which is what she has been waiting for, for years, she doesn’t believe the stories against him either. Briony is the younger daughter that misread the situations she sees her sister in, she is the one that uses her creative mind to make stories, one of which would tear the lives apart, she will now spend the time making up for her mistake.

PerformancesThe performances in the film are never going to be in doubt, because we have top class actors. McAvoy shines as the shunned man forced into war, Knightley as the woman who loses her true love to a mistake and young Saoirse Ronan showing us just how talented she was going to become.

StoryThe story here follows one moment in a group of people’s lives which gets misread and tears them apart forever, one tries to rebuild the bridges broken though the damage is done. We do follow three lives that have been changed which seems like it is meant to be important though by then you are just not looking to care about what happened because we didn’t get enough time focusing on the aftermath of the incident.

Mystery/RomanceThere is a mystery, which focuses on who was really the person to be raping Lola, though we don’t investigate this, the romance shows us the damaging effects of a false accusation on two people who are meant to be together.

SettingsThe film is set in England, the first part is just rich country home, when we hit the war side of the film things get more difficult because we see the struggles of war.


Scene of the Movie –
Dunkirk beach.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Isn’t the most interesting story.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the duller period pieces that shows us just how many lives can be affected by a false accusation, we have great performances, though they don’t seem to have much to do.

 

Overall: Not a fan of this one.

Rating

 

 

Halloween Midnight Franchise – Saw IV (2007)

Director: Darren Lynn Bousman

Writer: Patrick Melton, Marcus Dunstan (Screenplay) Patrick Melton, Marcus Dunstan, Thomas Fenton (Story)

Starring: Tobin Bell, Costas Mandylor, Scott Patterson, Betsy Russell, Lyriq bent, Athene Karkanis, Louis Ferreira

 

Plot: Despite Jigsaw’s death, and in order to save the lives of two of his colleagues, Lieutenant Rigg is forced to take part in a new game, which promises to test him to the limit.


Tagline – It’s a Trap

Runtime: 1 Hour 33 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Improving Once Again

 

Story: Saw IV starts as watch John Kramer’s (Bell) autopsy, but it uncovers a new recording for Lt Mark Hoffman (Mandylor) promising to pass on his work. Hoffman is getting help from FBI agents Peter Strahm (Patterson) and Lindsey Perez (Karkanis) who have been working on the Jigsaw case believing the bigger picture is going on with more than just John and Amanda.

Lt Daniel Rigg (Bent) becoming stressed and distant from his wife with the case learns that Eric (Wahlberg) is still alive and placed into a trap with Hoffman. Rigg gets placed into his own game where he has 90 minutes to save Matthews and Hoffman but with the FBI investigating Rigg becomes the prime suspect in the Jigsaw puzzle along with John’s ex-wife Jill (Russell) who reveals the motivation for John to become Jigsaw.

 

Thoughts on Saw IV

 

Characters – In the present time John is dead, but in this chapter we learn what motivated him to start his games or tests if you like, this does bring us to want to sympathise with John. Hoffman is the new lead detective on the case, where he must deal with the FBI turning up but worse for him, he gets caught up in the latest test with Matthews. Agent Strahm is from the FBI, he is searching for Jigsaw team as he believes it can’t have been the two-person operation, he believes someone in the force is involved and that John’s ex-wife is involved. Jill Tuck is John’s ex-wife, she is one of the prime suspects due to her connection to him, now she must give us the story to what motivated John. Rigg is the detective that has seen his friends on the force taken by Jigsaw, it is costing him his marriage so now he must go through the game learning that he can’t save everyone.

PerformancesThe performance across the board are good with Bell taking a smaller role but showing us, the sympathy needed. Patterson brings us a character we needed, one that knows the game is bigger and will do everything to stop it. The rest bring us the importance to certain moments in the film without being the full stars of the show.

StoryThe story continues to build the world that Jigsaw was from, we show that we will be facing more apprentices because Amanda and John couldn’t pull off the traps alone, this keeps us guessing on who it could be as well as teases potential returns of previous characters. The main game about a cop that needs to learn he can’t save everyone does feel like we are learning how John could recruit someone while the FBI investigation is the most interesting side of the film.

Horror/Mystery The horror comes from the games being played, they are becoming more graphic as we go along. The mystery is a lot more interesting here as we are left wondering who could in fact be the newest member of the team Jigsaw.

SettingsThe settings show us how the game can be performed in the small scale location in warehouse which would have no witness to what is going on.

Special EffectsThe effects are great here, when it comes to the games you can’t fault the effects team, we also see great moments of cutting between scenes that look flawless.


Scene of the Movie –
The final act and reveal twist.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Certain games do feel like gore for gores sake.

Final ThoughtsThis is a step back in the right direction, the bigger picture is a huge plus for the series as this film opened the doors to so many new directions for the film to go in. the only problem is there are sometimes one too many sub-stories to follow.

 

Overall: Good addition to the franchise.

Rating