ABC Film Challenge – Action – N – The Negotiator (2018)

Director: Brad Anderson

Writer: Tony Gilroy (Screenplay)

Starring: Jon Hamm, Khalid Benchgra, Rosamund Pike, Dean Norris, Shea Whigham, Douglas Hodge


Plot: Caught in the crossfires of civil war, CIA operatives must send a former U.S. diplomat to negotiate for the life of a friend he left behind.

Tagline – The Americans want to keep their secrets. The Israelis want to raise the stakes. He only wants to save a life.

Runtime: 1 Hour 49 Minutes  


There may be spoilers in the rest of the review


Verdict: Never Hits the Levels it Should


Story: The Negotiator starts as we see American Diplomat Mason Skiles (Hamm) involved in a tragic event in Beirut. Walking away from this career, he is dragged out of retirement when his old friend Cal (Pellegrino) is taken hostage by the Israelis.

Mason working with Sandy (Pike), Gary (Whigham) and Donald Gaines (Norris) must enter negotiations to free Cal without a body count in a high-tension situation in Beirut.


Thoughts on The Negotiator


Characters – Mason Skiles has been working in a diplomatic position for years, until a tragic event sees his wife killed in Beirut, he steps away from that world, living a business life back in America. He gets pushed back into the field when his friend is kidnapped and one of his former connections is the prime suspect to everything going on, he must use his connections to try and get a peaceful end to the situation. Sandy is the connection that must keep an eye on Mason, she is considered the skirt that will entertain the America to keep him there, she has her own connections though and will be the one that is happy to let Mason off his leash. Donald Gaines and Gary Ruzak are both involved in the operation with their own agendas coming through.

PerformancesJon Hamm in the leading role is the strongest part of the film as he has the most about his character who has been through the trauma and must use this mission to redeem himself.  Rosamund Pike struggles to make the impact you feel her character is meant to, while the rest of the cast just don’t get the time to make any sort of impact.

StoryThe story follows a negotiator that has walked away from the diplomatic position only to be forced back into the field to help his old friend who has become the latest kidnapping victim by terrorist group. This tries to create the same sort of atmosphere as the true events that went on during the Beirut problems with the Israeli terrorist groups that were at war with the Americans, we struggle to get sucked into the movie because the tension is never given to us enough to make us become interested in what is happening to the characters. the one that does have an arc is Mason which gets glanced over more than anything as we try to show him in the middle of a situation he knows how to play, though he isn’t meant to be in control of.

ThrillerThe thriller side of the film struggles to come through as strong as it should because of the lack of tension in the film, while the stacks are high, nothing seems in any way out of control.

SettingsThe film does keep the settings being used in the streets of Beirut which does show us how much trouble the city was in during the terrorist attacks.

Scene of the Movie –
The deal.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The political side.

Final ThoughtsThis is a weak tension based movie that just never hits the levels it should do like many of the films in this genre.


Overall: Just not on the strongest levels.




Stonehearst Asylum (2015)

logoDirector: Brad Anderson

Writer: Joe Gangemi (Screenplay) Edgar Allan Poe (Short Story)

Starring: Kate Beckinsale, Jim Sturgess, David Thewlis, Brendan Gleeson, Ben Kingsley, Michael Caine, Jason Flemyng, Sophie Kennedy Clark

Plot: A recent medical school grad who takes a position at a mental institution soon finds himself taken with one of his colleagues — though he has no initial idea of a recent, horrifying staffing change.

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

Verdict: Thriller That Lacks Something

Story: Stonehearst Asylum starts in Oxford University where The Alienist (Gleeson) tries to prove the madness of young woman as he teaches his students how to treat people with this dimension. Edward Newgate (Sturgess) is our medical student studying to become an Alienist and his work takes him to the Gothic Stonehearst Asylum. Finn (Thewlis) fills in the information about the number of patients that are at Stonehearst as well as filling us in on some of the more unique ones.

The head Doctor Silas Lamb (Kingsley) grills Edward on his motives about getting into the mental health world where his work would only be questioned and not held in high regard. Going on the rounds with Lamb, Edward the two are clearly going to start clashing with their ideas of methods with Lamb trying to keep his patients happy while Edward wants to cure their problems. On the trip around the hospital Edward gets to learn the story of Eliza Graves (Beckinsale) a patient that looks relatively normal compared to the rest.

Edward gets a warning from Eliza which leads to Edward investigating the Asylum and discovering Benjamin Salt (Caine) who claims to that himself and his employees are trapped in cells and Lamb has taken over the hospital. Edward has to figure out a way to work out who is really in charge and figure out how to prove what is going on. Edward continues to learn about the asylum where he has the make the final decision about what to do.

Stonehearst Asylum is a film that was slightly misleading because I thought it was going to leave us wondering who was the rightful doctor but in the end it gives us the information freely leaving us to wonder how Edward deals with the situation. The film did pull me in but through the whole film I did feel like something was missing. There is one final killer twist but otherwise it will play out how you would expect offer very simple. (6/10)

Actor Review

Kate Beckinsale: Eliza Graves is the beautiful patient who has captured the eye of young doctor Edward Newgate, she tries to help him get through the situation in the hospital leaving us to question whether she is really as mad as she is claimed to be. Kate gives a solid performance that continues to show her decline in performances in recent years. (6/10)grave

Jim Sturgess: Edward Newgate is a medical student looking to learn about the mental health. He requests to attend Stonehearst but little does he know that he is walking into the middle of a battle of power in the asylum. Edward has to work out who to help the doctor who goes too far or the patient taking over the asylum who treat each other like human beings. Jim gives us a good performance through the film. (7/10)edwward

David Thewlis: Mickey Finn is the muscles and man who will do the dirty work for Silas Lamb, he enjoys hurting people making him the most dangerous man in the asylum. David does a good job as the loose cannon in the asylum. (7/10)finn

Ben Kingsley: Silas Lamb is the man running the asylum but turns out to be a patient of the asylum, he has watched how the asylum was once run and now he thinks he knows how to treat the patients with the treatment they truly need. Ben delivers one of the best performances in the film being so calm and calculated throughout. (7/10)lamb

Michael Caine: Benjamin Salt is the head of the doctor who has been locked away by Silas and his patients whoo have taken over the asylum, he tries to get Edward to help but knows he can’t risk the new doctors life. He methods are what had led to the patient revaluation. Michael doesn’t have enough screen time for my liking for the character. (6/10)salt

Support Cast: Stonehearst Asylum has a supporting cast that includes the rest of the patients and doctors, you have to work out who is what as the story unfolds.

Director Review: Brad Anderson Brad does a good job directing but there is a certain moments that could have been better and we could have seen a lot more about the difference between Lamb and Salt. (6/10)

Thriller: Stonehearst Asylum does keep us guessing to what will happen, but I feel we could have had a little extra to pull us right in. (6/10)

Settings: Stonehearst Asylum keeps most of the action inside the asylum which helps keep us guessing because we know all the true identities are inside the asylum. (8/10)

Suggestion: Stonehearst Asylum is one to try, I think it will be enjoyable to watch but I do feel certain people will find it slow. (Try It)

Best Part: Final Twist.

Worst Part: Slightly slow.

Believability: No (0/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

Oscar Chances: No

Runtime: 1 Hour 52 Minutes

Tagline: No one is what they seem

Overall: Thriller that is entertaining but lacks that extra punch to pull it right in.

Rating 60

The Machinist (2004)

logoDirector: Brad Anderson

Writer: Scott Kosar (Screenplay)

Starring: Christian Bale, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Aitana Sanchez-Gijon, John Sharian, Michael Ironside, Lawrence Gilliard Jr

Plot: An industrial worker who hasn’t slept in a year begins to doubt his own sanity.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Thrilling Drama


Story: The Machinist starts by showing our protagonist Trevor Reznik (Bale) rolling a body up in a carpet before dumping it into the ocean. Trevor is a lonely man who gets his company from a prostitute Stevie (Leigh), he never sleeps and gets on with his job but is losing weight dramatically with his latest weigh in 121 pounds. We learn the Trevor hasn’t slept for a year now, he gets a visit from a mysterious man Ivan (Sharian) who seems to show up when something bad is about to happen.

When an accident happens at the work place Trevor starts to wonder what is happening as the Ivan figure he saw has never worked for the company. Trevor gets a cryptic clue on a post it note on his fridge and he starts to wonder what it is meant to be. As Trevor tries to solve the puzzle his world starts to unfold around him but can he figure out what is happening?

The Machinist is a slow moving story that could easily be a straight forward look at cause and effect but taking the story back over a year makes the impact of the final reveal extra special. I do feel the story really is all about how good Christian Bale does because without his performance this would fall very flat and lose a lot of its interest. You will pick up on hints and I think once you know parts of the ending these hints will appear a lot clearer for you. This is a very compelling story because you just want to know what will happen and what has happened, you will end up having to put a lot together by yourself though. (8/10)


Actor Review


Christian Bale: Trevor Reznik insomniac whose world starts to fall apart around him when a mysterious man starts showing up and Trevor is still trying to figure out what is going on. Christian gives a stunning performance and shows an amazing level of commitment. (9/10)


Jennifer Jason Leigh: Stevie the prostitute that Trevor befriends and is someone who he goes to, to talk to. Jennifer does a good job in a supporting role. (7/10)


John Sharian: Ivan the mysterious man that is haunting Trevor turning up whenever Trevor has something unusual happens. John does a good job in the role giving the mystery. (7/10)


Support Cast: The Machinist has a lot of supporting characters but they only have small scenes to help the character get to his final conclusion.


Director Review: Brad Anderson – Brad does a good job directing making the film thrilling without giving too much away. (8/10)


Drama: The Machinist uses the effects of an event to show how the lives have changed for the people involved. (9/10)

Thriller: The Machinist keeps you guessing to what has actually happened for a long time and doesn’t try to give you any false outcomes but it littered with clues. (9/10)

Settings: The Machinist keeps the settings looking like everyday ones to keep the story looking realistic. (9/10)

Suggestion: The Machinist is one to be watched by all the thriller fans it really does leave you shocked with the final outcome. (Thriller Fans Watch)


Best Part: Bale’s performance.

Worst Part:  Some scenes remain unanswered.


Believability: What happens could happen as well as the reaction filled with denial. (8/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

Similar Too: Memeto


Oscar Chances: No

Box Office: $8.2 Million

Budget: $5 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 46 Minutes

Tagline: How do you wake up from a nightmare, if you’re not asleep?

Trivia: Brad Anderson had not asked Christian Bale to lose such a vast amount of weight and was genuinely shocked when he saw Bale’s appearance on the first day of shooting. He also confessed to being thrilled by the actor’s dedication.


Overall: Stunning Drama with Heavyweight Performance

Rating 85

The Call (2013)

logoDirector: Brad Anderson

Writer: Richard D’Ovidio (Screenplay) Richard D’Ovidio, Nicole D’Ovidio, Jon Bokenkamp (Story)

Starring: Halle Berry, Abigail Breslin, Morris Chestnut, Michael Eklund, David Otunga, Michael Imperioli, Justina Machado, Jose Zuniga, Evie Thompson


Plot: When veteran 911 operator Jordan Turner (Berry) makes a rookie mistake while trying to save a caller’s life, she ends up costing her life. Six months later the killer targets a new victim Casey (Breslin) but when the call comes in Jordan must step in and race against time to save the girls life.


Verdict: A good thriller

Story: We have seen a lot of films similar to this quite often with the killer mocking a cop with his killings. This does think outside the box by it not only using the 911-operator trying to figure out how to locate someone and not having their own eyes on the situation and the victim struggling to stay calm and stop the killer. The films big flaw for me is that the operator turns out to be smarter than the cops. (7/10)


Actor Review: Halle Berry – Jordan lives with the nightmare of losing a victim because of her mistake but gets a chance to make up for it. Good performance and what makes it good is that you don’t think that is Halle Berry a credit to all actors. (8/10)


Actor Review: Abigail Breslin – Casey the victim. She has grown up since she was Little Miss Sunshine and enters the world of a smart victim good performance. (8/10)


Actor Review: Morris Chestnut – Officer Phillips, romantic interest of Jordan and go to guy when she needs a cop to go that little bit extra. Simple supporting role, does slow moving Police work that proves very insignificant to the final story. (5/10)


Actor Review: Michael Eklund – The killer and a very good one at that, being possessed to correct a wrong from his life. Good performance giving us the belief we just don’t know what he will do next. (8/10)


Director Review: Brad Anderson – Creates a very good thriller that will keep you at the edge of your seat until the final showdown. (8/10)


Crime: Good crime based story that flows throughout. (10/10)

Thriller: Once the kidnapping happens it becomes very edge of the seat. (9/10)

Believability: There are killers this twisted out there. (5/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Settings: Trying to keep the setting between trapped location for victim and the call centre for the operator, these settings create a connection that is left to imagination. (9/10)

Suggestion: It is a simple thriller but it will draw you in to watch until the end. I say give it a go and see what you think the thriller film fans will enjoy. (Try It)


Best Part: The twist end

Worst Part: The twist end though it is good doesn’t make sense.

Kill Of The Film: Petrol station

Oscar Chances: No

Chances of Sequel: Maybe

Similar Too: Cellular


Overall: Nice thriller worth watching

Rating 76