Triple Frontier (2019)

Director: J.C. Chandor

Writer: J.C. Chandor, Mark Boal (Screenplay)

Starring: Ben Affleck, Oscar Isaac, Charlie Hunnam, Garrett Hedlund, Pedro Pascal, Adria Arjona

 

Plot: Five former Special Forces operatives reunite to plan a heist in a sparsely populated multi-border zone of South America. For the first time in their prestigious careers these unsung heroes undertake this dangerous mission for self instead of country. But when events take an unexpected turn and threaten to spiral out of control, their skills, their loyalties and their morals are pushed to a breaking point in an epic battle for survival.

 

Runtime: 2 Hours 5 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Basic Action Heist Film

 

Story: Triple Frontier starts military police officer working in South America Santiago (Isaac) is getting tired of the drug lord causing the pain and suffering to the locals, he comes up with a plan using local Yovanna (Arjona) to get back at him. Santiago returns to America to put a team together with his former squad Tom (Affleck), William (Hunnam), Ben (Hedlund) and Francisco (Pascal) to help him in South America.

The team look at the job with Santiago needing to talk them into completing a heist against drug lord, giving the war heroes a moment to have earnt the money they should have after their years of service, can they complete the job and escape, that is the question.

 

Thoughts on Triple Frontier

 

Characters – Tom ‘Redfly’ Davis is the captain of the unit, he is struggling in the real world trying to be a real estate agent, living in his ex-wife’s garage, he wants to be able to send his girls to college and however reluctant he is to complete this job, but when he sees the potential reward, he is the plan behind the heist. Santiago ‘Pope’ Garcia is the member of the team working in South America, he has been fighting this drug lord for 3 years now and has seen a window of opportunity to take on the drug lord. He brings his old unit together to help a local pushing them all into a job that they can do, but didn’t plan to do, but can do. William ‘Ironhead’ Miller has been giving talks to young soldiers about his experiences, in and out of the military, preparing them for life in both situations, he agrees to help just for some action in his life. Ben Miller is William’s brother, he has turned to MMA for money where he is a good fighter, but it is only a matter of time before he gets hurt. Francisco ‘Catfish’ Morales is the pilot of the unit, he has lost his licence in the real-world, this could give him he security he no longer has in life. Yovanna is the local that has made a deal with Santiago to get the job done, she is doing it for her brother who has fallen onto the wrong side of the law.

PerformancesBen Affleck is strong in the leading role, he does give us the most interesting of the five characters because he makes us see the subtle problems the war machine has on the soldiers. Oscar Isaac is the highlight of the performance because he is playing the character balancing the most. Charlie Hunnam, Garrett Hedlund and Pedro Pascal complete the unit, but sadly we don’t see them do much more than being the rest of the unit soldiers.

StoryThe story here follows a former military unit who travel to South America to complete a heist on a drug lord, what they end up facing is a battle to survive against the locals and elements to make it out alive. This does start of with a simple idea of a heist, which surprisingly is done within the first hour or so, most of the film is the journey to escape which sees them facing different obstacles which become increasingly more difficult as the journey unfolds. We do have the themes of soldiers struggling to deal with everyday life here, which is why they go on the heist, this is important, but sadly we only see this in one of the four men that go on the mission. The drug lord doesn’t seem like that big of a threat either, which is strange if we are being honest. This does feel like one of the tried and tested stories we have seen before, which can be enjoyed, but never tests us.

Action/Adventure/Crime The action is all military based, the chase scenes, the formations everything feels very calculated in what we see. The adventure takes the men to a new country, one where they must try to figure out how to escape from, it will test them and their training. The crime is the heist they are looking to commit, against a drug lord.

SettingsThe film is set in South America, this brings us into the jungle environment for the journey and sees us take on the drug lords of the area. It does offer something new for the heist genre though.


Scene of the Movie –
The cliff top shoot out.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Not learning enough about the rest of the unit.

Final ThoughtsThis is a hard hitting heist movie, it does have a close unit, but it does seem to lack a presence of a villainous figure for the second half of the film.

 

Overall: By the Books military heist film.

Rating

 

 

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Pacific Rim Uprising (2018)

Director: Steven S DeKnight

Writer: Emily Carmichael, Kira Snyder, Steven S DeKnight, T.S. Nowlin (Screenplay) Travis Beacham (Characters)

Starring: John Boyega, Rinko Kikuchi, Scott Eastwood, Adria Arjona, Tian Jing, Charlie Day, Burn Gorman, Tian Jing, Jin Zhang

 

Plot: Jake Pentecost, son of Stacker Pentecost, reunites with Mako Mori to lead a new generation of Jaeger pilots, including rival Lambert and 15-year-old hacker Amara, against a new Kaiju threat.


Tagline – Rise up.

Runtime: 1 Hour 51 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Average Action Film

 

Story: Pacific Rim Uprising starts in the aftermath of the great war with the Kaiju, cities have been rebuilt, while others became squatter’s paradise, Jake Pentecost (Boyega) has taken to this life style, getting what he wants through stealing, not following in his father’s footsteps. When he meets genius engineer Arama (Spaeny) who has built her own illegal Jaeger unit, the get captured.

Jake is force back into the Jaeger program by his step-sister Mako (Kikuchi) with Amara being one of his cadets. When Liwen Shao (Jing) has created drone controlled Jaeger, it looks like the program has become obsolete, until they malfunction bringing the Kaiju back with a bigger and deadlier threat. Jake must put his past a side, follow in his father’s footsteps and work with his rival Nate Lambert (Eastwood) to save the world again.

 

Thoughts on Pacific Rim Uprising

 

Characters – Jake is the son of the great Stacker Pentecost, he hasn’t followed in his father’s footsteps, believing the war to be over for good, getting himself in trouble with the law brings him back into the program to train new recruits in case the Jaegers return. When they do he must become the leader his father was. Nate Lambert is the Ranger that has been working in the force for years, he enjoys training and was once a brilliant combat operator, he is the rival in the sense of having different mentality, but they both respect each other. Amara is the 15-year-old genius engineer that can build Jaeger’s like the best, she gets to become a cadet where she must prove herself to the fellow cadets. We have a random love interest, that seems to be there to add slight, weak tension between the boys, the scientists are back with their experiments and Liwen Shao is the brilliant mind behind an improved defence system.

PerformancesJohn Boyega gets to have fun in this role, his performances feels like a mix of his Attack the Block streets wise and Fin who is being brave on the outside, this works even though he does get more screen time that you think he needs for certain moments. Scott Eastwood is good in his role, its not the most difficult role to play and he doesn’t put a foot wrong. Cailee Spaeny is the new comer here, she has good chemistry for the banter with Boyega which is important between the two. No one really gives a bad performance, it is the lack of time given to Jin Zhang and Rinko Kikuchi that disappoints the most.

StoryThe story here brings us into a world which has seen the war, believed it was over and moved with life. This reflects what would happen with major disasters, parts gets rebuilt others forgotten. The idea that a tech firm wants to improve, this time by going drone warfare is something we know and have seen before, while the twist behind everything just seems random and out of place. we come into this movie to watch giant robots fight giant monsters, we get moments but for a story this felt like almost a forced sequel that believes it will become a franchise. The characters arcs are basic Jake’s has the clearest one at that.

Action/Adventure/Sci-FiThe action sequences are a mixed bag here, the big finally one, great loved how it was shot, tracking the different battles, the problem with most of the action sequences comes when we jump between non action moments, taking us out of the carnage. The adventure side comes from new people needing to prepare for a big battle, been here seen this. The sci-fi side of this is giant robots fighting giant monsters from another dimension, can you get more sci-fi than this?

SettingsThe settings show us once again that Kaiju only attack tourist destinations, like Sydney and Tokyo, we have some random time in the snow because why not.

Special EffectsThe effects do look flawless on the surface, my only issue here is watching the destruction sequences, it always feels like the buildings just vanish at times.


Scene of the Movie –
Final battle.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The building destruction never feels permanent.

Final ThoughtsThis is a solid enough sequel, it does everything a brain switch off movie needs to, grab popcorn, don’t car about anything for 2 hours and enjoy. If you want a deep story you will be disappointed and loveable characters, look elsewhere.

 

Overall: Solid popcorn nonsense.

Rating

 

 

The Belko Experiment (2017)

Director: Greg McLean

Writer: James Gunn (Screenplay)

Starring: John Gallagher Jr, Tony Goldwyn, Adria Arjona, John C McGinley, Melonie Diaz, Owain Yeoman, Sean Gunn, Michael Rooker

 

Plot: In a twisted social experiment, 80 Americans are locked in their high-rise corporate office in Bogotá, Colombia and ordered by an unknown voice coming from the company’s intercom system to participate in a deadly game of kill or be killed.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Suspenseful Filled Thriller

 

Story: The Belko Experiment starts as we arrive in Bogota, Colombia where we meet a select few of our American business employees working in an isolated building, we have Mike (Gallagher Jr), Barry (Goldwyn), Leandra (Arjona), Wendell (McGinley), Dany (Diaz) and Bud (Rooker).

The normal office job for the America employees changes drastically when they notice all the locals have been sent home by the new guards and an announcement comes over the system that 2 employees need to be killed in 30 minutes as all the doors and windows lock down.

First believing this is a test the employees remain calm at first but when people’s heads start exploding from the trackers the employees have this turns into a life and death battle, the next message is that the employees have 2 hours to kill 30 of the remaining 76 people or the people holding them will randomly select 60, but the questions are why are they being tested like this? Who will turn on their friends? And when will they get out?

 

Thoughts on The Belko Experiment

 

Characters/PerformanceMike is a high-ranking supervisor in the office, he knows everyone having a good relationship with his boss Barry and his girlfriend Leandra. Barry is the CEO of the company, he is the highest ranked member of staff, he does the best he can to control the people through this panic. Leandra is another one of the supervisors, she knows she is beautiful and happy to flaunt it. Wendell is the older employee who clearly feels stuck in the cubical while seeing younger people being his boss, Dany is the newest employee, she deals with not knowing people but her past will help her through the conflict. Bud is the building maintenance that tries to find a place to get out of the enclosed building. It would be fair to say we only learn the characters nature during the situation rather than before it.

Performance wise, John Gallagher Jr steps up into a leading role after quality performances in supporting roles last year and he fits this role wonderfully. Tony Goldwyn is fantastic in this role being heartless through the situation. John C McGinley is great even if his role feels like all of the creepy of Dr Cox without the sarcasm. Adrian Arjona is good in this role where she is a strong leading woman. Michael Rooker is good for his role with Melonie Diaz doing a good job too. The truth is the whole cast is great through the film showing the panic required for the situation.

StoryThe story of an office block needing to kill or be killed to survive a test is one of the most intense thrillers we have seen in years. This completely keeps you on edge as you need to see just how far the office workers will go when pushed to the limits. This does have a lot borrowed from Battle Royale but so what it just changes the environment making it adults rather than kids going through the same test.

Action/Horror/ThrillerThe action side of the story is with how the people will be getting attack and killed which gets creative in places. The horror side of the story comes from seeing how people will react to everything going on as you get to see the worst in people. The thriller side of the film is the highlight because all you want is to see who will make it out alive.

SettingsThe whole film is set within the office complex in the middle of nowhere, the people are trapped inside with nowhere to run, no way of getting help making this tick all the boxes for a brilliant use of location.

Special EffectsFrom the first kill to the last each kill looks fantastic through the film showing us the just how to make effects work in film.

Final ThoughtsThis is easily one of the thrillers of the year, it has moments of social commentary too which add a dark humour to what we are seeing and you actually feel like you are not sure who will survive the day.

 

Overall: Potential thriller of the year?

Rating