ABC Film Challenge – Thriller – T – Thoroughbreds (2017)

Director: Cory Finley

Writer: Cory Finley (Screenplay)

Starring: Olivia Cooke, Anya Taylor-Joy, Anton Yelchin, Paul Sparks, Francie Swift, Kaili Vernoff

 

Plot: Two upper-class teenage girls in suburban Connecticut rekindle their unlikely friendship after years of growing apart. Together, they hatch a plan to solve both of their problems-no matter what the cost.


Tagline – Good Breeding Gone Bad

Runtime: 1 Hour 32 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Strange Thriller

 

Story: Thoroughbreds starts when two former friends Amanda (Cooke) and Lily (Taylor-Joy) reunite to after years apart, as Lily is asked to help Amanda with her education. The reunion starts off by feeling awkward as it is known that Amanda has done something that as isolated from the upper-class neighbourhood they are from.

After Amanda notices how much Lily is struggling with her step-father Mark (Sparks) she suggests to kill him, the two put a plan together using local drug dealer Tim (Yelchin) to get the job done.

 

Thoughts on Thoroughbreds

 

Characters – Lily comes from one of the rich families in Connecticut, she ha be raised for boarding school away from the rest of the people her age in the neighbourhood, she opens up to her old friend with a troubled past, as she learns about getting a chance to escape this life she isn’t enjoying. Amanda is teenager that has done something horrific, she is struggling in school and sent to be tutored by her old friend to help with her college future, she is emotionally closed off from the world, though pushes Lily into doing the unthinkable. Tim is the local drug dealer that has a reputation of only dealing with minors which sees him be selected by the girls to complete the murder for them. Mark is the stepfather that Lily doesn’t get on with him, he is a control freak making the life of Lily more difficult.

PerformancesOlivia Cooke and Anya Taylor-Joy in the leading roles gives us the standout performances in this film, they both show us the struggles they are feeling as we see how their plan starts to unfold. Anton Yelchin in the main supporting role showed us one again why he will be missed too.

StoryThe story here follows two upper class teenagers that have very different problems in their lives, they reconnect after years apart learning they could help solve each other problems. This is a heavily conversation lead movie that puts the main two characters through discussions of killing problems in their lives and just how they could get away with it. The big weakness with the film is that it doesn’t address the mental health problems that both the women are going through. This story tries to be quirky in what gets done, only for it to feel anti-climactic.

Comedy/CrimeThis must be classed as a dark comedy, because it didn’t seem to make me laugh once, the crime side of the film circles around the idea of what the two girls want to do and how they can get away with it.

SettingsThe film is set in the upper-class area of Connecticut, showing how the girls can easily look down on people that they can walk over, this is a big factor for the style of the film.


Scene of the Movie –
Don’t drink that.

That Moment That Annoyed Me We could have looked at the mental health problems going on here more.

Final ThoughtsThis is a comedy crime thriller that doesn’t quite hit the marks it was aiming for and ends up just coming off strange.

 

Overall: Uniquely Styled

Rating

 

 

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Rambo: Last Blood (2019) Movie Review

Director: Adrian Grunberg

Writer: Matthew Cirulnick, Sylvester Stallone (Screenplay) Dan Gordon, Sylvester Stallone (Story)

Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Paz Vega, Yvette Monreal, Louis Mandylor, Oscar Jaenada, Sheila Shah, Sergio Peris-Mencheta

Plot: Rambo must confront his past and unearth his ruthless combat skills to exact revenge in a final mission.


Tagline – They Drew First Blood. He Will Draw Last.

Runtime: 1 Hour 29 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Bloody Soaked Action

Story: Rambo: Last Blood starts as John (Stallone) has returned to a quiet life helping raise Gabrielle (Monreal) on his ranch, when she learns of the location of her father in Mexico, she heads down there becoming the latest victim of the Martinez brother Victor (Jaenada) and Hugo (Peris-Mencheta) and their prostitution ring.

John goes in search of her, starting a war with the gang, one that will have casualties on both sides, but will let him use all of his skills as a solider, unleashing the monstrous side to his time in combat.

Thoughts on Rambo: Last Blood

Characters – John Rambo is the war veteran we all know, he has retired to a small ranch away from the world, where he has created a series of tunnels, he has helped raise Gabrielle and wants her to achieve what he couldn’t in life, with college in her future. When she goes missing, John turns the switch he keeps on the off button, becoming the soldier that will kill anybody in his way, dealing with the traumas of war and not caring about the consequences, he starts a war with the Mexican gang, one that he is prepared to end. Gabrielle is like a daughter to John, he help raise her with her love of horse riding helping their bond, she is ready for college, but the one question she wants more than anything is why her father left her, which sees her go against John’s request to Mexico in search for him. She gets drugged at forced into prostitution, with no way of escaping her captors. Victor and Hugo Martinez are running the operation, they use the girls up and sell them, they use the gang numbers to deal with any unwanted attention, including John and if a girl escapes, they will make them pay. They are pretty much routine Mexican villains though.

PerformancesSylvester Stallone is back in one of his favourite franchises, he does keep John looking a lot more like a true veteran that is still haunted by his nightmares of war, even if he is mumbling his way through the film. Yvette Monreal fills her role with ease, naïve young girl, while both Oscar Jaenada and Sergio Peris-Mencheta don’t put a foot wrong in the villainous roles.

StoryThe story here follows a retired calm John Rambo that is called into action when his adoptive daughter gets taken by a gang in Mexico and he will go to any lengths to get his revenge at save her. When it comes to this style of action film, the story doesn’t need to be very deep at all, in fact the basic plot is broken down as war veteran takes on gang who took family member, lots of bodies left lying. We do get glimpses at the idea that John is still dealing with the traumas of his experiences in war, though they are very small, if we didn’t have these, we could have easily have had just another older military person doing the same thing, it didn’t need to be Rambo for the most part. Saying this, it was nice to see Rambo returning to what made his actions popular in the First Blood, with his stealth ability over the countless bullets flying around. This is everything you want and need from a Rambo movie when it comes to the story.

Action/WesternThe action in the film does take it time to get going, but when Rambo starts, my word this is one of the most graphic action movies you will see, certain sequences will make John Wick’s kills look like a Disney movie.

SettingsThe film does use the Mexico setting for the fish out of water when it comes to John wanting to take the fight to them, so he makes them bring to the fight to him, showing us how deadly he is when he knows the land. The settings are key to the final act of the movie.

Special EffectsThe effects are brutal, when it comes to the injuries people were wincing in the cinema at certain moments, they don’t hold back in anyway.

Scene of the Movie – Whole final act.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Certain stories don’t seem to get an ending.

Final Thoughts This is one of the most violent action films that you will ever see, it uses the brutal action to highlight Rambo’s military skills and doesn’t hold back in anyway.

Overall: Graphic, Violent, Rambo’s Back.

Beast of Burden (2018)

Director: Jesper Ganslandt

Writer: Adam Hoelzel (Screenplay)

Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Grace Gummer, Pablo Schreiber, Robert Wisdom, Cesar Perez, David Joseph Martinez, Mark Smith

Plot: Sean Haggerty only has an hour to deliver his illegal cargo. An hour to reassure a drug cartel, a hitman, and the DEA that nothing is wrong. An hour to make sure his wife survives. And he must do it all from the cockpit of his Cessna.


Tagline – Lines are meant to be crossed.

Runtime: 1 Hour 29 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Tensionless Thriller

Story: Beast of Burden starts with Sean (Radcliffe) flying his small plane from Mexico to America, he starts to receive a host of phone calls that explain why he is doing this mission, first it is his sick wife Jen (Gummer) to whom he is trying to get the money for her medical bills, we have the drug cartel of whose product he is carrying, the DEA agent Bloom (Schreiber) who believe he is carrying a package which will give him an new life and the mysterious Mallory (Wisdom) who is making sure the job is getting done.

AS Sean is flying the stakes get changed and he is left needing to try and make a decision, one he simply can’t make, needing to think fast can he figure out a way to save his wife and clear his name or will he just put one side of the mission above the rest?

Thoughts on Beast of Burden

Characters – Sean is an ex-military pilot, he has turned to doing illegal mission across the border, we see him on one of his missions which sees him trying to get out of this life, but needing to balance the authorities that are working with him, the cartel who want their product and his wife’s safety after she is held captive by a hitman. Sean only shows us his life through flashbacks as he is trapped in the plane needing to make his decision. The other characters only appear in flashbacks or over the phone, we have Jen who is Sean’s wife that has been through a tragic event with him, Bloom the DEA agent trying to give him a new life for some information and Mallory that has the same employer as Sean, making sure the job is done correctly.

PerformancesDaniel Radcliffe isn’t the most convincing in this film, he seems to struggle with his American accent and shows too much panic in a situation that a pilot should show calmer decision-making. The supporting cast barely get a look in which doesn’t give them a chance to show their acting skills.

StoryThe story here follows a pilot that is left with what seems like an impossible choice while on his latest mission, which as seen him working for the cartel and the DEA to try and give his wife a new life after they suffered a tragic event in their life. This story does try to capture the similar ideas of ‘Buried’ and ‘Locke’ which saw one character trying to sort out a difficult situation from a location they couldn’t just walk away from, only they stick in the flashbacks to show us everything that has happened, which only leaves us not needing to think about what his situation could be like and just spoon-feeding us how we are meant to feel.

Action/CrimeThe action in the film is very basic, we don’t seem to get too involved with anything close up, leaving the action around the crime world that Sean has found himself in, which is cartels and agents battle over the drug trafficking.

SettingsIf the film had remained in the plane for the whole film without the flashbacks, we would have had a better use of setting for the film.


Scene of the Movie – Bye drone.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The flashbacks.

Final Thoughts This is a thriller that just doesn’t capture the magic in a bottle that other films with solo locations have used to their advantage in the past.

Overall: Disappointing thriller.

Rating

ABC Film Challenge – Thriller – S – Salt and Fire (2016)

Director: Werner Herzog

Writer: Werner Herzog (Screenplay) Tom Bissell (Short Story)

Starring: Veronica Ferres, Michael Shannon, Gael Garcia Bernal, Volker Michalowski, Lawrence Krauss, Anita Briem

 

Plot: A scientist blames the head of a large company for an ecological disaster in South America. But when a volcano begins to show signs of erupting, they must unite to avoid a disaster.


Runtime: 1 Hour 38 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Slow and Dull

 

Story: Salt and Fire starts as three scientists representing the United Nations Laura (Ferres), Dr Cavani (Bernal) and Dr Meier (Michalowski) are on their latest mission but find themselves taken hostage by Matt Riley (Shannon) in South America, but not everything is what it seems as Matt explains the actions of his team to Laura and the goals they are trying to reach.

Laura’s team is bought together for a reason, to study an ever-increasing Salt plain which could bring around a volcanic explosion that could end the world as we know it.

 

Thoughts on Salt and Fire

 

Characters – Laura Sommerfeld is the lead UN doctor on the latest mission, but she gets taken hostage by a radical group that want to take down a cooperation that has accidently started the end of the world, she must learn about the salt plain that could end the world. Matt Riley is the man behind the hostage taking as he knows about the potential threat to the world. Doctor Cavani is the loud mouth of the team that is also cowardly, he works with Laura but is sick for most of the film. we don’t get very much from any of the supporting characters in this film.

PerformancesVeronica Ferres is the main actress, she is in every scene as we see how she learns about the story unfold, she is solid in the leading role but never enough to hold our attention. Michael Shannon is good in his role but we just don’t get enough from him character, this can be said for most of the cast we just needed more from their characters.

StoryThe story follows one doctor that must learn of an impending disaster which needs solving even though it is considered unsolvable.  This story is dull and slow, but it does have meaning when you look at the message trying to be sent, other than that it is too preachy for its own good. It tries to make us feel guilty for a new threat to the world that is manmade but is slowly becoming too much.

ThrillerThis film tries to keep us on edge but in the end, you just don’t hit the edge of your seat by a long way.

SettingsThe film is set in an unknown location in South America, it is designed to make us feel like it could be anywhere in the world that this could happen.


Scene of the Movie –
Photo time.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Overly preachy.

Final ThoughtsThis is a film that doesn’t hit the marks it should, it could be breath-taking but in the end just sends you to sleep.

 

Overall: This movie was just painfully boring to watch from start to finish.

Rating

 

 

Ad Astra (2019) Movie Review

Director: James Gray

Writer: James Gray, Ethan Gross (Screenplay)

Starring: Brad Pitt, Liv Tyler, Ruth Negga, Tommy Lee Jones, Donald Sutherland, Anne McDaniels, John Ortiz

Plot: Astronaut Roy McBride undertakes a mission across an unforgiving solar system to uncover the truth about his missing father and his doomed expedition that now, 30 years later, threatens the universe.


Tagline – The Answers We Seek Are Just Outside Our Reach

Runtime: 2 Hours 2 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Mission Out of This World

Story: Ad Astra starts when astronaut Roy McBride (Pitt) survives a fatal power surge that destroyed more of his solar space station, Roy with the reputation of never having panicked during any situation in his life remained calm and has been selected for a top-secret mission.

Roy must travel into space to locate his long-lost father Clifford McBride (Jones) whose craft seems to be the source of the power surge before it disrupts everything back on Earth.

Thoughts on Ad Astra

Characters – Roy McBride followed in his father’s footsteps becoming an astronaut, his ability to remain calm with his heart rate makes him one of the best candidates for most missions even if this has made his rational thinking making him emotionless towards the world, including his own wife. When he learns his father might still be alive in the depths of space, he gets assigned to try and communicate with him, which sees him travelling across the solar system, where he must face his own emotions of being left at a young age by his father. This is his story, he is the character we learn the most about through the film. Eve is the wife of Roy, she hasn’t gotten as much love from her husband, which has seen her wanting to leave him because of his travelling decisions. Helen is one of the people that Roy meets on his mission, somebody that does show him a truth about the mission unlike anybody else. Clifford McBride is considered a world-wide hero for his mission into the depths of space, his mission did mean that he became distant from his son because of the fact he left him on Earth, he is thought to have gone missing until the power surge seems to come from his own ship, leading to the mission across the solar system.

PerformancesBrad Pitt is brilliant in this role, where he steps away from his cool persona which he bought us in ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’ to give us a much straighter, distant, but brilliant character whose actions is what keeps us wanting to see more from him. While Brad Pitt might be fantastic, it is the supporting cast that are great without being fantastic, mostly due to most not having many scenes, with most being part of the journey, rather than on the journey.

StoryThe story here follows an astronaut that must travel across the solar system in an attempt to figure out what happened to his father’s mission and why there is a power surge that has become a threat to Earth coming from his last known location. This story is a tale about one man that gets a chance to communicate with his father after spending years believing he is dead, lost to space, only to learn of a bigger picture to his mission as he must learn to recontrol his emotionless character before he becomes a problem on the mission. The pace of the story does flow nicely as we learn things as Roy does, which does change his mindset along the way and it does show how big the mission is. There are a couple of issues with the story, with one being the length of the journeys, the second would be the fact that we do get a random side mission, which doesn’t need to be here. Overall the story is interesting to see, it keeps the science behind the story seeming not to distant, with the launches being like what we would see now, even if certain parts are meant to be commercial.

Mystery/Sci-FiThe mystery in this film comes from us and Roy wanting to know what Clifford discovered in the depths of space, which does play into the sci-fi side of the film, with the idea of the human race wanting to find life in the galaxy, expanding the position from just being on Earth, with the first steps with bases on the Moon and Mars, though most of the technology ideas are where we would see us going in real-life, none of this hyper sleep concept yet.

SettingsThe film does use the different locations through space to be what we would imagine, with the moon looking like the lifeless place, Mars being filled with the reds and the crafts looking like they would be the ones used to travel through space, we feel the empty vacuum of space.

Special EffectsThe effects in the film are brilliant, they obey the rules or space, giving us some of the best visual backgrounds to the mission’s journey too.


Scene of the Movie – Moon Rovers.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Certain camera angles or point of views could have been better for the impact of the scene.

Final Thoughts This is one of the best and most visually pleasing movies of the year, it has a fantastic performance from Brad Pitt in the leading role and keeps the science of the space travel feeling a lot more grounded than many of the film from the past.

Overall: Out of this world.