ABC Film Challenge – Action – E – The Equalizer 2 (2018)

Director: Antoine Fuqua

Writer: Richard Wenk (Screenplay) Michael Sloan, Richard Lindheim (Television Show)

Starring: Denzel Washington, Pedro Pascal, Ashton Sanders, Orson Bean, Bill Pullman, Melissa Leo

 

Plot: Robert McCall serves an unflinching justice for the exploited and oppressed, but how far will he go when that is someone he loves?


Tagline – There will be consequences

Runtime: 2 Hours 1 Minute

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Simple Slow Action Film

 

Story: The Equalizer 2 starts as we see how Robert McCall (Washington) driving around helping people when he learns they have been mistreated, just being a good guy around the neighbourhood. Robert still has his connection with the agency in Susan (Leo) who gives him the information to help with problems she can’t deal with.

After she is killed investigating a case, Robert reveals himself to his former partner Dave York (Pascal) who has believed he has been dead for years, to help get the people that killed their friend, all while trying to be a mentor to young man Miles (Sanders) who is being drawn into the gangster life.

 

Thoughts on The Equalizer 2

 

Characters – Robert McCall no longer works at Home Depot, he is a driver for hire around the town and he listens to the people’s stories and where he sees fit to step in to solve the problems. This time somebody makes it personal and he must come out from the shadows to get revenge. Dave York is the former partner of Robert’s who believed he was dead, he sees his new partner killed and is looking for answers to why his friend stayed away so long. Miles is a streetwise teenager on the brink of making a terrible decision to join a gang, Robert aims to guide him to make the right decision. Sam is an elderly client who Robert wants to help out, he is here to show just how good natured Robert is. Brian and Susan Plummer are the only connections with the agency Robert has, he will do anything to help them, as they help him with little matters he has.

PerformancesDenzel Washington is an actor that will always give us good performances, this is no different because we get to see the calm character and the deadly which he can switch between without blinking an eye. When we look at the rest of the cast, they are good without being anything overly memorable, with the villain being forgettable and the supporting arcs of the story not being given the time to truly focus on.

StoryThe story here continues to show how deadly, but fair Robert McCall can be, he wants to help people out, give them a chance to better their lives or admit to their mistakes. This time the story becomes personal after one of his friends in the agency is killed, sending him on a warpath against anybody involved. This side of the story is easy to watch, the more intense side of the story which is good to watch. The sentimental side of the story is interesting because we see how the problems in the world can be solved with moments of kindness which Robert shows different generations of people in his life, trying to teach people how to treat people, this is nice to watch, only for the two sides of the story struggling to connect to each other.

Action/CrimeThe action in the film is good when we get it, the final sequences being the highlight of the action, the crime side shows how one man can use his connections to get a job done to clean up the streets.

SettingsThe film shows Robert operating in a normal big city, this shows us how stories can be found in most corners for most people.


Scene of the Movie –
The showdown.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The pacing between the serious side stories and the action heavy main story.

Final ThoughtsThis is an enjoyable action film that does everything you would imagine, it isn’t going to be one of the greatest just one you can enjoy without worrying too much about what is going on.

 

Overall: Simple and enjoyable action.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Action – B – The Ballard of Lefty Brown (2017)

Director: Jared Moshe

Writer: Jared Moshe (Screenplay)

Starring: Bill Pullman, Peter Fonda, Stephen Alan Seder, Kathy Baker, Joseph Lee Anderson, Tyson Gerhardt, Jim Caviezel

 

Plot: A thrilling and action-packed Western, The Ballad of Lefty Brown is a story about loyalty, friendship, and the relentless pursuit of justice.


Tagline – He never wanted to be the hero.

Runtime: 1 Hour 51 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Slow Western

 

Story: The Ballard of Lefty Brown starts when Edward Johnson (Fonda) is heading to senate wanting to leave his loyal friend Lefty Brown (Pullman) in charge of his ranch. When Edward is murdered, Lefty wants to do his friend justice by hunting down the men that killed his friend and is joined by US Marshall Tom Harrah (Flanagan).

On the journey to learn who was behind the murder, Lefty and Tom leave fellow friend Jimmy Bierce (Caviezel) with Edward’s wife Laura (Baker) as we learn the bigger picture of just who was behind the murder.

 

Thoughts on The Ballard of Lefty Brown

 

Characters – Lefty Brown is the slacker best friend of the senator, he has often been bailed out by his friend which has built trust between the two, he is going to be left to look after the ranch only for Edward to be killed, Lefty wants to hunt down the killer, only he becomes the prime suspect, can he solve his friend’s murder before it is too late. Edward is the senator about to go on a trip wanting to leave his old friend in charge of his land, he has always been the one person to stick up for Lefty through his difficult times. Laura is the wife of Edward that has doubted Lefty’s abilities for a long time falling for the bigger plan in play. Jimmy is the older friend of the two, he has become a US Marshall that will do what he wants to put himself in play for the position he wants.

PerformancesBill Pullman does the best he can with the character which strangely does feel like a character David Arquette would normally be playing. He does give the strongest performance in the film, this is mostly because the rest of the cast don’t get enough time to shine rather than they are bad.

StoryThe story follows a character named Lefty Brown who is considered the weakest member of the team that most have given up on that must figure out who murdered his friend, the one that remain support him, along the way he must prove he wasn’t involved and that he can uncover the truth which is close to home. Now in classic western style we get to follow Lefty as he learns how things unfold and shows that every dog can have his day. It does have twists along the way which you can see coming because we don’t get enough time to be misled along the way. We have a slow pace which does work for the film as we get to learn from the young man Lefty meets about his past which inserts us into the story.

Action/WesternThe action in the film is tame, we get the basic gun firing which for the time the film is set makes sense because we can’t have endless bullets flying, though it isn’t the most gripping. There is a western theme through the whole movie which does make work for the film without being anything overly deeper than it needs to be.

SettingsThe film does have the western theme running through it with the locations being used helping it easier to identify the time the film is set in.


Scene of the Movie –
Lefty gets the truth.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The pace is too slow for me.

Final ThoughtsThis is a slow moving western, it does try to recreate the classic tone which just didn’t click on the ways it once did, Pullman is the standout of an average cast with a story that is mostly forgettable.

 

Overall: Western that never really gets going.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Biopic – D – Wyatt Earp (1994)

This is fitting in with the D for ABC Film Challenge because of the involvement of Doc Holliday.

 

Director: Lawrence Kasdan

Writer: Dan Gordon, Lawrence Kasdan (Screenplay)

Starring: Kevin Costner, Dennis Quaid, Gene Hackman, David Andrews, Linden Ashby, Jeff Fahey, Joanne Going, Mark Harmon, Bill Pullman, Tom Sizemore

 

Plot: The story of Wyatt Earp as he interacts and battles other famous figures of the Wild West era.


Tagline – The epic story of love and adventure in a lawless land.

Runtime: 3 Hours 11 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Epic Biopic

 

Story: Wyatt Earp starts as we meet young Wyatt who has been growing up in the shadow of his father Nicolas Earp (Hackman), he has been to war and doesn’t want his children to follow in his footsteps. Wyatt grows up to becomes a well-respected young man who wants to become a constable while finishing his education.

When his life is shattered after his wife dies of illness, Wyatt falls into the drink nearly losing his life in the process, saved, reformed, Wyatt becomes one of the most feared lawman in the land cleaning up the city of Dodge before meeting Doc Holliday (Quaid) as they look to take over the town of Tombstone.

 

Thoughts on Wyatt Earp

 

Characters – Wyatt Earp is one of the most iconic names in western history, we get to see how he went from lawman educating himself, to drunken mess, to skinner, feared lawman that most outlaws were scared off. His thinking was before the time of the wild west which showed with how he handled bringing down confrontation at the quickest possible chance. Doc Holliday is another lawman, he is dying which has made him disliked within his field with only Wyatt working with him. Nicolas Earp is the father of Wyatt who has shown him how to live his own life, he puts Wyatt back on his right path when he needs him most. We get to meet plenty of characters along the way here, be it the brothers of Wyatt, the men he takes under his wing, the wives and the outlaws causing the problems in the towns.

PerformancesKevin Costner is brilliant in the leading role, he had the epic long films down in the 90s, this shows just how he could pull of these films with ease. Dennis Quaid is great to watch to bring us a character that is larger than life. Gene Hackman might only have a small role, but he makes a big impact. We do have a wonderful cast that is filled with big name actors, everyone is great too.

StoryThe story here follows the life of Wyatt Earp as he rose up to become one of the most feared lawman in western history. We get 3 hours to learn the ups and downs he faced in life, from trying to become an educated man, to grieving man, to fearsome strict lawman. We see how he made friends and enemies along the way, how his methods were before the time with the no guns allowed in the towns and how he would shoot first. This is a story on epic level because of the scale of the years being followed and even at the 3-hour runtime, it doesn’t seem to get bogged down in anyway.

Adventure/Biopic/WesternThe adventure side of the film shows us just how Wyatt would travel to make a change in the towns he stepped into. We do follow Wyatt from childhood, to his time in Tombstone which will see him do things other lawmen couldn’t get done. For westerns this is easily one of the best you will see in the modern era, making you feel like you are part of the towns involved in the film.

SettingsThe film is set out in the wild west, with Dodge and Tombstone being the two main settings, they do show use the increased scale between the two and how they can become overrun by outlaws.


Scene of the Movie –
Tombstone shoot out.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It does have too many characters at times it is hard to remember who is who.

Final ThoughtsThis is an epic scaled western with great performances throughout, it does tell the life and times of one of the most famous lawmen and keeps the enormous length feeling like it is flying by.

 

Overall: Epically long western.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Random – A – American Ultra (2015)

ultraDirector: Nima Nourizadeh

Writer: Max Landis (Screenplay)

Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Topher Grace, Connie Britton, Walton Goggins, John Leguizamo, Bill Pullman

 

Plot: A stoner – who is in fact a government agent – is marked as a liability and targeted for extermination. But he’s too well-trained and too high for them to handle.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun Action Comedy

 

Story: American Ultra starts as Mike Howell (Eisenberg) who must explain what has happened. We move back to see how Mike and his girlfriend Phoebe (Stewart) who live in a small dead-end town while enjoying getting stoned in their spare time. We also meet the government agents Adrian Yates (Grace) who is looking to close a project that Victoria Lasseter (Britton) has started.

When Adrian decides to terminate asset Mike Howell he becomes activated by Victoria and Mike learns all about a new set of skills that leaves a trail of bodies as Mike and Phoebe go on the run to learn the truth.

 

Thoughts on American Ultra

 

StoryThe story here is easy to follow and it is clear that this is designed to poke fun at the is he an agent or not sub-genre of action without being full parody. I think the story works and comes off original for the most part because you are left wonder where it could go next and we see how anything is possible too.

Action/ComedyThe action going on within this film is to make the extra comedy with how unique the kills and use of weapons that make things original throughout. While I don’t think, this is the best comedy the fact it doesn’t take itself too seriously helps make it feel light hearted throughout.

Characters/PerformancesMike is meant to be your everyday stoner who just gets by in life but what if he had been recruited by the government to be an undercover asset, well this is told through this character where he questions his own existence in the world. Phoebe does have a twist to her character with Yates being the typical over the top full of power government agent with Victoria being the elder member of the government team who wants to do the right thing. When you look at performances Eisenberg gets to have a lot of fun with his character and Stewart shows the talent she has but doesn’t always show in Twilight. Grave continues to be good at the over the top guy with the rest of the cast fitting the movie well.

SettingsThe settings are within the small town which shows just how the government can take control without needing to explain. It also gets fully explained by Mike hasn’t been able to leave under the program.

Special EffectsThe special effects are few and far between but all work for how the story is being told without having anything go wildly over the top like it could.

Final ThoughtsEnjoyable and fun is the best way to describe this because you know you are having something slightly light hearted going on throughout.

 

Overall: Fun and enjoyable action comedy that watched the right way can be enjoyed.

Ratingcard

 

 

Surveillance (2008)

survDirector: Jennifer Lynch

Writer: Kent Harper, Jennifer Lynch (Screenplay)

Starring: Julia Ormond, Bill Pullman, Pell James, Michael Ironside, Kent Harper, Ryan Simpkins, French Stewart, Cheri Oteri

 

Plot: Two FBI agents attempt to clarify the murders occurring in a desolate region. They approach the witnesses of the latest incident with the help of the local police. All of them hide something and all have wildly different stories to tell.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Well Designed Thriller

 

Story: Surveillance starts with a bloody murder when FBI agents Elizabeth Anderson (Ormond) and Sam Hallaway (Pullman) come to investigate what has been going on much to the disagreement to the local law with Captain Billings (Ironside). The agents have a young girl Stephanie (Simpkins) who isn’t saying a word and a stoner Bobbi Prescott (James) worried she will get busted as their only witnesses.

With the cameras set up the interviews beginning as we learn what led to the events of the day in question. The longer the investigation goes on we get to learn how the two police officers involved took advantage of the victims for fun before we learn the outcome of the film.

 

Thoughts on Surveillance

 

StoryThe story is slow moving as we must go through the events of one day from three different points of view leading up to the final reveal. I did find this very slow because we had a lot of character development before everything kicks off, I think the final twist in the film is one you won’t see coming but the build-up takes too long.

Crime/Horror/Mystery/ThrillerThe whole film is circling around the idea of a crime being retold through the eyes of the witnesses which is all solid enough and you add in the mystery about what has happened to the mix you get the horror side to the story. the mix all work well to make us wonder what the hell is going on through the film.

Characters/PerformanceThe characters all come off feeling like different generic characters, we have the survivors of an incident one being innocent young girl, another being a stoner with the third being a shady cop. The FBI agents both come off very simple but instantly deal with the political material we are used too. As for performances, we get good from everyone because we don’t know who the killers really are throughout.

SettingsWhen it comes to the settings we have large part inside the police station with the rest just being on the open road, both settings are used well throughout the film.

Special EffectsWhen it comes to the special effects they are only used when needed to make the accident look extra special when it finally happens.

Final ThoughtsThis is a slow but well built up crime mystery horror thriller that is saved by the final twist within the film.

 

Overall: Slow thriller but rewarding by the end.

Ratingcard