ABC Film Challenge – Action – I – In a Valley of Violence (2016)

Director: Ti West

Writer: Ti West (Screenplay)

Starring: Ethan Hawke, John Travolta, Taissa Farmiga, James Ransone, Karen Gillan, Toby Huss

 

Plot: A mysterious stranger and a random act of violence drag a town of misfits and nitwits into the bloody crosshairs of revenge.


Tagline – Keep Your Finger on the Trigger

Runtime: 1 Hour 44 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: John Wick the Western

 

Story: In a Valley of Violence starts when lone drifter Paul (Hawke) rides into a remote town with his trusty dog Abby, trying to keep to himself he gets the town drunk Gilly (Ransone) gets involved in a fight, which Paul wins with one punch. This grabs the attention of the Marshal (Travolta) and father of Gilly, who gives him a chance to walk away no questions asked, no more trouble.

When Gilly and his men comes for Paul in the dead of night, they leave him with nothing and now he swears to break his promise of no more killing, one last time.

 

Thoughts on In a Valley of Violence

 

Characters – Paul is the former soldier, he has lost everything while in battle and is heading to Mexico with his horse and dog. When this is taken from him, this former soldier will go on to show his skills by tracking down the men in an act of revenge. Marshal is trying to keep the peace in the town even after his son’s actions, he gets caught in the middle of follow the law and protecting his son. Mary-Anne is one of two sisters in this town, she is one of the few people in town that is vocal of her dislike to Gilly and offers Paul a reminder of his own daughter.

PerformancesEthan Hawke is wonderful in this leading role, he gives us a performance we can believe as the lone drifter with skills that can leave any town running red. John Travolta is strong in his scenes which are seem rare but are a major part of the film. Taissa Farmiga is good even if her character doesn’t get enough to do out of the typical girl in the west.

StoryThe story does bottle down to a simple revenge movie, think John Wick the western and you have the story set up. We have the lone trained killer that takes out the people that have don him wrong. This is a simple and enjoyable style of storytelling, the pace makes the film fly by and will leave you wanting more.

Action/Crime/WesternThe gun slinging action is all good and fits the western style the film is taking on, we get a simple crime story which works for the film.

SettingsThe film takes place in just one singular location in this remote town in the wild west which keeps things contained for the story.

Special EffectsThe effects are used with the kills and are done nicely without being over the top.


Scene of the Movie –
The main street shoot out.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The women characters are written bland.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good, blood filled action western film that is well worth watching, this is a good watch and has a strong performance from Hawke.

 

Overall: Good addition to the western genre.

Rating

 

 

Money Talks (1997) Movie Review

Director: Brett Ratner

Writer: Joel Cohen, Alex Sokolow (Screenplay)

Starring: Chris Tucker, Charlie Sheen, Heather Locklear, Elisa Neal, Paul Sorvino, David Lee McLain

Plot: Sought by police and criminals, a small-time huster makes a deal with a TV newsman for protection.


Tagline – They’re getting the lowdown on the high price of living.

Runtime: 1 Hour 37 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Forgettable

Story: Money Talks starts as small-time criminal hustler Franklin Hatchett (Tucker) gets busted while TV reporter James Russell (Sheen) is trying to get a big story on criminals. When Franklin gets caught in the middle of a grand escape, he becomes targeted by the police for killing their own, only Franklin didn’t have anything to do with the escape, turning to James to help clear his name.

James plans to hide Franklin for the weekend by taking him to his wedding, which sees him trying to clear his name and clean up the mess that was created during the escape, now the unlikely couple are forced to work together from the dangerous criminals hunting for him.

Thoughts on Money Talks

Characters – Franklin Hatchett is a fast-talking small-time hustler that has been making a living on the streets getting tickets and just doing the odd deal, while illegal, it isn’t hurting anybody, he does get caught and sent to prison, only to get involved into the escape. He constantly gets himself in trouble by not being able to keep his mouth shut. James Russell is a TV reporter that is always looking for a big story, his latest centres around Franklin and once Franklin gets out of prison, he is the only one he can turn to, James is always ready to help his career no matter who he steps over. Grace and Paula are the loved ones of the two, they both get frustrated by the actions of their partners.

PerformancesChris Tucker is an actor that has a borderline between being entertaining or annoying, here he hits the annoying more often than not. Charlie Sheen doesn’t bring much to the film either, never looking like a desperate enough as a reporter. Sadly, nobody else gets a chance to do much in the film either.

StoryThe story here follows a small-time criminal that must turn to an ambitious reporter in hopes of clearing his name after a ruthless criminal and the police start trying to hunt him down. This is a story that tries to play into the buddy cop idea that have worked very well in the past and if you get a great partnership, you have something entertaining to watch, sadly, the two just don’t click they you would imagine and just become just a set of random scenes. The whole story just does seem to have a lot missing to make it feel connected which only just disappoints. By the time the story has finished it does seem to leave us trying to put together the bland story.

Action/Comedy/CrimeThe action in the film isn’t very impressive, while the comedy just misses more often than getting close to hitting, while the crime world again just could have been gritty that we see.

SettingsThe film is set in LA, which is always going to be filled with the criminal activity next to the luxury side of the world.


Scene of the Movie – Helicopter jump.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The lack of chemistry between Sheen and Tucker.

Final Thoughts This is a forgettable action comedy that doesn’t have any redeem qualities anyway and will just leave you trying your hardest to remember anything that happens.

Overall: Forgettable.

ABC Film Challenge – Action – H – Hard Target 2 (2016) Movie Review

Director: Roel Reine

Writer: Matt Harvey, Dominic Morgan, George Huang (Screenplay)

Starring: Scott Adkins, Robert Knepper, Rhona Mitra, Temuera Morrison, Ann Tuong, Adam Saunders, Jamie Tomony

Plot: Retired mixed martial artist Wes “The Jailor” Baylor (Scott Adkins) can’t refuse a million-dollar purse he’s offered for one final bout in Myanmar. But when he arrives for the fight, he learns he’s been tricked into becoming the target of a human hunt. Carrying only water and a ruby-filled money belt for the last person standing, Wes must outsmart the heavily armed group that has paid to kill him. As he fights for his life in the treacherous jungle terrain, the hunters become the hunted.

Runtime: 1 Hour 44 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Late Night Action 101

Story: Hard Target 2 starts when mixed martial artist Wes ‘The Jailor’ Baylor (Adkins) accidently kills his best friend in his last fight, turning away from the sports, Wes takes small fights to pay for his drinking problem. Wes is approached by Jonah Aldrich (Knepper) that offers him a $1 million pay day.

Wes takes up his offer, which sees him travelling to Myanmar, only to learn that he has accepted to be part of a human hunt, with a string of hunters including Sofia (Mirta) hunting him down through the jungles, where he works with local Tha (Truong) and proves to be a lot harder to kill than Jonah thought he would be.

Thoughts on Hard Target 2

Characters – Wes Baylor is a title contender in mixed martial arts, having a number one contender match against his best friend, which sees him win, but at a cost, he kills his friend. Wes retires from competitive fighting, taking small fights in illegal bouts. Wes gets a chance to get a big pay day, though it isn’t what he fought, it becomes a race to survive against hunters that see him as a prey. Wes shows that he does have the fighting skills to survive against these people. Jonah Aldrich is the man that is running the hunting session, he recruits people that could be considered difficult to hunt and makes plenty of money offering this idea to the hunters of the world. He stays in complete control of the game, making sure that the hunters get a chance, though he isn’t happy with the prey is harder to kill this time. Sofia is one of the hunters that has been following in her father’s footsteps when it comes to hunting.

PerformancesScott Adkins is fast becoming a big name in the action genre, he is a man that will always be able to handle the combat side of a film with ease, even if some of the line delivery isn’t his strength. Robert Knepper as the villain is always a great pick for a sleazy one, this again plays to the actor’s strengths. Rhona Mitra is one of the bigger names in the film, she does make her character standout, though she doesn’t make the impact that would be expected.

StoryThe story here follows a mixed martial artist that is forced into retirement and takes a big pay day in hope of escaping his life, though the pay day turns into a battle for survival against hunters that are looking for human prey. When it comes to the story, it is very simple and is something we have seen before, it is an entertaining story though, that always works for us when it comes to a single fighter that much look to fight for his own survival against a larger number of enemies. If you have seen The Running Man, The Condemned and even Death Race, you will know what you are getting into here.

ActionThe action in the film lets Scott Adkins show off his skills, it is routine, but it works for what the film is trying to do and will show how deadly a trained martial artist can be.

SettingsThe film is set in Myanmar which does offer the dense jungle which does make for a beautiful backdrop for the film.


Scene of the Movie – The first kill.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – It is slightly too basic.

Final Thoughts This is a simple, fun action film, it does everything it needs to without being anything original, just simple fun.

Overall: Simple and fun action film.