Break Even (2020) Movie Review

Director: Shane Stanley

Writer: CJ Walley (Screenplay)

Starring: Tasya Teles, Steve Guttenberg, James Callis, Joseph Reitman, Joanna Pacula, Ivan Sergei

Plot: Four adventurous friends find 50M in cash at a remote island only to discover it was left by the DEA for the Cartel in a rogue deal.

Tagline – Live Fast…Play Dirty

Runtime: 1 Hour 35 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Story: Break Even starts as four friends Jaq (Teles), Rosie (Reyes), Sebastian (Bailey) and Dash (Fellows) are having a weekend away on a yacht, which will see them stumble across $50 Million dollars, money that is part of a DEA deal with Agent Crowe (Pacula) has with drug lord Zalman (Callis).

The friends decide to keep the money with Jaq offering them a chance to clean the money to keep things to themselves, but now they must go on the run from the threat coming their way.

Thoughts on Break Even

Characters – Jaq takes charge of the friends, having the knowledge to help the friends escape with the money, she has the connections, makes the plan and is prepared to escape, she is distant from her partner on the trip and pushes them into break the law if they want to keep the money. Rosie, Dash and Bradley complete the friend group, each of them is thrown into a world they are not prepared to be in, filled with the errors along the way. Agent Crowe is leading the deal, she is as dirty as they come and is always looking to get money out of any drug deal on the island. Zalman is the drug lord that is waiting for the deal to go through, he will always kill the people that get in his way or take from him.

PerformancesWe do have a big cast here, which at times doesn’t always give the more important cast members enough spotlight, but when Tasya Teles takes charge, she does look the part, while Brent Bailey and Erik Fellows fall into the generic male characters, and Alisa Reyes grows as it feels like her character is treating the whole adventure as a role play weekend. Joanna Pacula as the crooked DEA agent is strong without being one of the highlights of the film, which is where most of the authority figures fall.

StoryThe story here follows four friends that find $50 million of drug money and decide to come up with a plan to escape with the money, with both the drug lords and DEA chasing them down. The story does deal with the unlikely find of fortune which will need a sensible plan to survive, while the two different sides are looking to hunt them down, we do get the attempts of throwing in twists. But they only seem to hold the story down, rather than drive it forward.

ActionThe action in the film is chases, with the car chase through the desert being the best of the few we see.

SettingsWe are set on an island outside of America, without stating which one it is, with the hints that we are dealing in a world where the drug lords roam the land.

Scene of the Movie – Escape on the boat.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The Scooby Doo like chase.

Final Thoughts Break Even is an action film that wants to bring us an edgy side, with the twists in the story, only to end up being by the book and filled with comical behaviour along the way.

Honest Thief (2020) Movie Review

Director: Mark Williams

Writer: Mark Williams, Steve Allrich (Screenplay)

Starring: Liam Neeson, Kate Walsh, Jai Courtney, Jeffrey Donovan, Anthony Ramos, RObet Patrick

Plot: Wanting to lead an honest life, a notorious bank robber turns himself in, only to be double-crossed by two ruthless FBI agents.

Tagline –Never Steal a Man’s Second Chance

Runtime: 1 Hour 39 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Story: Honest Thief starts as we see Tom (Neeson) completing his robberies, with the numbers rising, with his reputation as the ‘In Out Bandit’ spreading, this changes when he meets Annie (Walsh) and he looks to walk away from the life.

When Tom wants to come clean, he contacts the FBI, with Agent Sam Baker (Patrick), who has been listening to stories for years, with people confessing to being the thief, only for his two agents Nivens (Courtney) and Hall (Ramos) look to take advantage of the situation.

Thoughts on Honest Thief

Characters – Tom is a former marine turned famous solo thief, with 9 years of robberies under his belt, he has left the game though, looking to come clean for his actions, to start a new life with Annie, but when the FBI don’t play as fair as he imagined, he must prove he is only a robber not a murderer. Annie is a divorced woman running a storage operation, looking to rebuild her life, she knows nothing of the former life Tom has, but knows the two can spend their lives together. Agent Nivens is assigned to investigate the claim Tom is making, turning into his own opportunity to make money, going too far, on the levels where he will need to make sure he cleans up his own mess. Agent Meyers is one of the senior agents that passes on the claim, believing it isn’t real, like many of the other claims, he does start to investigate when things start to get out of control.

PerformancesLiam Neeson continues to give us the aging action star, while he does bring the grounded side to the role, many action stars struggle with. Kate Walsh as the love interest works well through the film, Jai Courtney as the villainous agent brings the most out of a plain character, which is could be said for most of the FBI agents, however hard the actors try to make more out of them.

StoryThe story here follows a thief that decides he wants to come clean after falling in love, only for him to discover the FBI agents he wants to confess to, are not as honest as he believes they could be. When it comes to the action storylines that are coming out, this does mix the idea of the getting out of the game one, with never knowing who to trust in authority, which helps the quiet humble man of Tom, needing to show a darker side to survive the cat-n-mouse like games with the different FBI agents, some are good, some are not. We don’t get the full brand-new action film, but it is one story that the stars can pull off with ease for pure entertainment.

ActionThe action in the film comes from chases and fight scenes, with the fight scenes struggling with the fast cuts, while the chases are everything we have seen before.

SettingsThe film uses the city settings to show how capable of disappearing Tom can be, with his ability to scout every possible escape route.

Scene of the Movie – Meyers dog.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The FBI agents could have had a little bit more about them, as the seem plain for the world we are in.

Final Thoughts Honest Thief is a fun, enjoyable action thriller, one that we know Liam Neeson can deliver in with ease, it is everything you would expect it to be, with the cute dog.

Signature Entertainment presents Honest Thief In Cinemas Nationwide 23rd October also Experience it in IMAX

The Driver (2019) Movie Review

Director: Wych Kaosayananda

Writer: Steve Poirier (Screenplay) Wych Kaosayananda (Story)

Starring: Mark Dacascos, Julie Condra, Noelani Dacascos, Jeremy Stutes, Adam Zachary Smith

Plot: In a zombie apocalypse, one man desperately tries to keep his family alive.

Tagline – He fought the Baba Yaga. Now, he is fighting the undead.

Runtime: 1 Hour 37 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Story: The Driver starts as we meet The Driver (Dacascos) a husband and father living in a small community during a zombie apocalypse, he goes on the trips to retrieve supplies or get rid of problems within the community, he wants to take his wife Sharon (Condra) and daughter Bree (Dacascos) away from this community, with information from the only two people he trusts Lee (Ruedpokanon) and DJ (New).

When the community comes under attack, The Driver is left with no option but to take his family and flee into the zombie infested world, a place where he will do anything to keep them safe, in his search for a safe haven.

Thoughts on The Driver

Characters – The Driver was once a hitman in everyday life, now in a zombie apocalypse he does runs for supplies or to dispose of the problems the community is facing, he wants to take his family away and after the community is attacked, he is forced to flee with his daughter, needing to prepare her for the outside world, he knows he has a race against time to find a new shelter. Bree is the Driver’s daughter, she hasn’t been exposed to the outside world and she must deal with a big loss, while getting a crash course on how to survive the zombie infested world. This does put a lot of focus on the father daughter relationship, with any other characters we meet getting used for information more than anything else.

PerformancesMark Dacascos has always been an action we have seen in horror films, John Wick Chapter 3 might well have elevated him into the mainstream at long last and here he proved why he has been in the action genre for so long, bringing to life the father that will do anything in a zombie infested world, having his own real life daughter Noelani Dacascos playing his on screen daughter adds to both of their natural dynamic throughout the film.

StoryThe story here follows a father that must find a new shelter for his daughter in a world filled with zombies after his current home comes under attack. This is a story that does keep everything simple, it focuses on the father daughter relationship to hold the story together, while the calm reality needing to get every message through, while in a world where zombies could be around every corner. It might not get to the deepest levels, and there is plenty more we could have learnt about the community at the start, but the point of the story is a crash course in prepare someone to this new world.

Action/HorrorThe action in the film is everything you would expect from a zombie movie, we have fast moving zombies being gunned down, with the attack on the community being the most standout moment in the film. The horror is all about the idea being in a zombie filled world, it doesn’t feel as dread covered as it should be for the situation though.

SettingsThe film uses the community, with the open roads to show us how empty the world is, we never go near big cities, which would be key to surviving this world.

Scene of the Movie – Community attack.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Certain things Bree does, don’t fit the world.

Final Thoughts This is an entertaining zombie movie that does focus a lot more on the relationship between the father and daughter in which the Dacascos family shine in showing us.

Legacy of Lies (2020) Movie Review

Director: Adrian Bol

Writer: Adrian Bol (Screenplay)

Starring: Scott Adkins, Honor Kneafset, Andrea Vasiliou, Yuliia Sobol, Tetiana Nosenko, Anna Butkevich

Plot: An ex-MI6 agent is thrown back into the world of espionage and high stakes to uncover the shocking truth about operations conducted by unknown secret services.

Runtime: 1 Hour 41 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Story: Legacy of Lies starts when former MI6 agent Martin Baxter (Adkins) is trying to live a more off the grid life with his 12-year-old daughter Lisa (Kneafsey), where he fights, she bets to get them through life.

When Martin’s past comes back to him a mysterious woman Sacha (Sobol) comes to him for help and he is given 24-hours to locate her from the people who want the information she holds, bring his expert skills back from beyond.

Thoughts on Legacy of Lies

Characters – Martin Baxter is the former spy who retired from the business after his latest job, he looks to stay off the radar with his daughter, not wanting the conflict he gets drawn back towards, his past does catch up with him, as he must return to the world of undercover deals to do the right thing for the daughter of a lost friend in the field. Lisa is the daughter of Martin, a street smart 12-year-old who is willing to get involved in helping him make money, while trying to stay in with trends, she does wish to just stop, relax and start a normal life, with her pleading with her father to give this to her. Sacha is the woman that comes to Martin in need of help with her information that could bring down many different people. We have plenty of different people looking for the information Sacha has, each will have their own way to get Martin to collect the information.

PerformancesScott Adkins does continue his trend of being the highlight of his action films, while he doesn’t get as much of the hard hitting action, but in the military stances he works well. The rest of the cast do everything they need without hitting any of the memorable positions we would like to see from friend or foe.

StoryThe story here follows a former MI6 agent that find himself drawn back into the world after a stranger turns to him for help and his daughter gets taken. This story is everything you would expect from an action film, a reluctant hero returning to their strength to help a person in need, a person who can bring down people in power. It is an easy watch, it gets everything in place to make it effective, while trying to give us secrets along the way.

ActionThe action in the film comes from seeing Martin getting put in position where he will usually be outnumbered and need to use his experience to get through the situation.

SettingsThe film uses the settings to take us down a memory lane for Martin, while this would give him advantages in trying to stop the criminals.

Scene of the Movie – The bank.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The supporting characters don’t get enough menace about them.

Final Thoughts This is a by the book action film that has become Scott Adkins bread and butter, where he makes more of everything given to him.

Signature Entertainment presents Legacy of Lies on Digital HD 12th October

ABC Film Challenge – 80s Movies – Y – Black Rain (1989) Movie Review

This is going under Y because of the involvement of the Yakuza.

Director: Ridley Scott

Writer: Craig Bolotin, Warren Lewis (Screenplay)

Starring: Michael Douglas, Andy Garcia, Ken Takakura, Kate Capshaw, Yusaku Matsuda, Shigeru Koyama

Plot: Two NYC cops arrest a Yakuza member and must escort him when he’s extradited to Japan.

Tagline – An American Cop in Japan. Their country. Their laws. Their game. His rules.

Runtime: 2 Hours 5 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Gritty Drama

Story: Black Rain starts when bad boy cop Nick Conklin (Douglas) and his partner Charlie Vincent (Garcia) look to clean up their own problem, they stumble into a Yakuza gangster killing the godfather of the Japanese mafia.

Nick and Charlie find themselves needing to escort the killer, only for them to hand him over to an imposter, the pair need to work with the locals to try and recapture the killer in a country that has a battle between two deadly gangs.

Thoughts on Black Rain

Characters – Nick is the bad boy detective that doesn’t always play by the rules with how he gets the job done, this has landed him in trouble on countless times, his latest hearing ends up with his catching an international killer and needing to escort him back to Japan, only to find himself needing to investigate the gang war raging on in the country. Charlie is the by the book cop that knows how to keep Nick in line when he starts going too far, he is willing to be more open about the difference in culture, even if he doesn’t agree with everything, being the good cop to the bad cop attitude to Nick. Masahiro is the local Japanese cop that is assigned to show the detectives around, he ends up working with them to try and get deeper into the bigger case going on within the city. Joyce is an American living in Japan, she does fill in certain parts the locals don’t want to give up.

PerformancesMichael Douglas does do his best at trying to be more of a bad boy figure within the film, he has the attitude required for the role, Andy Garcia does bring a more relaxed approach which works well for the film, with the rest of the cast working well with what they need to bring to their roles.

StoryThe story here follows two New York detectives who travel across the world to escort a prisoner only to lose them and need to find themselves in the middle of a war for power in Japan, trying to understand the bigger picture. We are given a story here that shows how the change in culture will change how an investigation might well be addressed, it does seem to focus more on how Nick is more aggressive at times than he needs to, he is a shady cop. The investigation doesn’t seem to get into the intense level it should because we don’t focus on any of the criminal activities through the film though.

Action/CrimeThe action is simple enough, with most circulating around the motorbike usage of Nick and how controlled he is behind the world, with the criminal side of the film focusing on how everything will be different for the American cops in a new land.

SettingsThe film uses the Japan setting to show the cops with a new setting, which will operate in a different manner to what they are used to dealing with. It does show us how the world will feel darker to the criminal world they have come from.

Scene of the Movie – The motorbike riding sequences.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Not enough focus on the criminal’s actions.

Final ThoughtsThis is a by the book crime drama, it has a cop that isn’t a smooth around the edges forced into a world he knows nothing about.

Overall: By the Book.