The Mule (2018) Movie Review

Director: Clint Eastwood

Writer: Nick Schenk (Screenplay) Sam Dolnick (Article)

Starring: Clint Eastwood, Bradley Cooper, Taissa Farmiga, Dianne Wiest, Michael Pena, Austin Freeman, Laurence Fishburne

Plot: A ninety-year-old horticulturist and Korean War veteran turns drug mule for a Mexican cartel.

Runtime: 1 Hour 56 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Simple & Enjoyable

Story: The Mule starts as Earl Stone (Eastwood) a horticulturist that has spend too much of his life on the road away from his family, missing the major events in his family’s life. After he doesn’t cope with the changes in the market, he is left with nothing and looking like failing his granddaughter Ginny (Farmiga), only for her fiancée Mike (Freeman) offer him a chance to just drive.

With Earl taking the job, it turns out he has been transporting drugs, with Agent Colin Bates (Cooper) and Agent Trevino (Pena) trying to track down anyone smuggling drugs across the border. How long can Earl keep this up before he gets caught, even though he is spending the money on helping the community.

Thoughts on The Mule

Characters – Earl is a horticulturist, he has spent his whole life in this business, which has seen him sacrifice major family events, making him distant to most of his family. He loses his job and is given a chance to become a driver for a cartel, which he soon becomes the most successful in the industry he even gives the money back to the community he has seen struggle for years. Mary is the ex-wife that has finally become tired of the let downs that Earl has left the family with. Ginny is the granddaughter that has been promised money and doesn’t care as long as her grandfather is willing to be there for her on the big days. Agent Bates is fresh to the force he is tasked to try and stop the smuggling and spends most of the time trying to learn about the new mysterious mule for the cartel.

PerformancesClint Eastwood is a joy to watch in this film, he comes off like an everyday older person that just wants to be willing to help people around his life, even though he is filled with regret about his family life. Bradley Cooper doesn’t really get too much time to shine or do anything in his role, while the rest of the cast don’t seem to get that much time to show off their characters.

StoryThe story here that follows a retirement aged, he has worked his whole life and ends up becoming a drug mule for a cartel, which sees him becoming one of the most wanted men in America. This is based on a real man that took this role because he enjoyed driving, he isn’t like anybody else they have worked for, but his style makes him harder to track down. The story does use the themes of regretting losing time in life which is clear in the behaviour from Earl along the way. We do have a few plot holes with how the cartel carry out their jobs, because this just seems to end, without any consequences, why would they give up the success they were having too.

CrimeThe crime side of the film does feel like just somebody casually taking part in the drug mule business, he is only ever put to a test once he needs to decide his own future.

SettingsThe film uses the settings to show the locations that Earl stops along the way, which does make him harder to track.

Scene of the Movie – The last run.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Nothing seems to happen to the cartel.

Final Thoughts This is an easy to watch crime story that shows just how one person can casually commit crimes without anybody noticing them.

Overall: Easy Watch.

Uncut Gems (2019) Movie Review

Director: Benny Safdie, Josh Safdie

Writer: Benny Safdie, Josh Safdie, Ronald Bronstein (Screenplay)

Starring: Adam Sandler, Julia Fox, Eric Bogosian, LaKeith Stanfield, Kevin Garnett, Judd Hirsch, Idina Menzel

Plot: A charismatic New York City jeweller always on the lookout for the next big score, makes a series of high-stakes bets that could lead to the windfall of a lifetime. Howard must perform a precarious high-wire act, balancing business, family, and encroaching adversaries on all sides, in his relentless pursuit of the ultimate win.

Runtime: 2 Hours 15 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Very Loud

Story: Uncut Gems starts as we meet fast-talking jeweller Howard Ratner (Sandler) who has his own business and lock up in New York City, he does owe people money across town, with one of the loan sharks Arno (Bogosian) wanting to cash in, pressuring him into paying back now. Howard who is always out for making a big score as won big on his latest bet, which would clear his debts.

When his debt collectors get aggressive, Howard needs to relocate a priceless diamond that professional basketball player Kevin Garnett has taken, Howard loses his most trust partner Demany (Stanfield) and his girl on the side Julia (Fox) is cheating on him, his life is starting to fall apart, can he fix everything before he loses everything.

Thoughts on Uncut Gems

Characters – Howard Ratner is a fast-talking jeweller who has always talked his way in and out of problems, he owes money all over the town and believes he is about to clear his debts, only for everything to go wrong once again, he needs to clear his debts before it is too late. He isn’t a nice guy, screwing over anybody who he deals with however nice they are. Arno is the person that Howard owes money too, he wants everything back with interest and has started to send the people after Howard to collect. Julia is the girlfriend that has been taking advantage of Howard, enjoying the high life more than she is willing to admit. Demany is one of the connections that works with Howard, he brings in people for sales, people that want the secret sales on the side.

PerformancesIt is great to see Adam Sandler in a more serious role, he does prove himself as an actor once again, he does everything to make his character great. LaKeith Stanfield continues to show himself making a big impact on the industry, while the rest of the supporting cast are fine without doing much.

StoryThe story here follows a jeweller that has seen his fast talking nature that has finally started to catch up on him, with his life starting to spiral out of control in his life. This does show us how one man has always tried to screw people over will finally see everything come back to bite him in the arse, he hasn’t eery treated people with respect in life and now he learns who would actually be there if he needs help. This does show us how people can get so caught up in their own ideas that they will never want to make fix themselves with the idea of greed coming to catch up on them. It does show how mistakes you make in life can catch up on you if you don’t know what to do if you want to be honest.

Comedy/Crime/MysteryThe comedy in the film is dark comedy that shows us just what Howard says to people, with the crime involved in the film showing how Howard is always trying to get away with anything in life, the mystery isn’t as strong as it should be either, but it is mostly about the special gem he has.

SettingsThe film is set in New York as shows the secret locations that the business is operating in, while the street scenes are everything we have seen before.

Scene of the Movie – The auction.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The overuse of the ‘n’ word.

Final Thoughts This is finally a film that shows Adam Sandler’s acting abilities are still in him, only with a list of unlikable characters that you don’t care about, because they are just making their own problems.

Overall: Sandler Can Act.

Traffik (2018) Movie Review

Director: Deon Taylor

Writer: Deon Taylor (Screenplay)

Starring: Paula Patton, Omar Epps, Luke Goss, William Fichtner, Laz Alonso, Roselyn Sanchez, Priscilla Quintana, Missi Pyle

Plot: A couple off for a romantic weekend in the mountains are accosted by a biker gang. Alone in the mountains, Brea and John must defend themselves against the gang, who will stop at nothing to protect their secrets.

Tagline – Run. Fight. Survive.

Runtime: 1 our 36 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Shock Filled Thriller

Story: Traffik starts when the ambitious reporter Brea (Patton) loses her big story and potential her job right on the eve of her birthday, her boyfriend John (Epps) wants to surprise her and with his friend Darren (Alonso) he gets a romantic weekend planned.

Heading up to the mountain location the couple find themselves in a gas station where confrontation is quick to find them with help stranger Red (Goss) along with gangs, showing a potential large group of different enemies. The romantic weekend takes a turn, first with the appearance of Darren and his girlfriend Malia (Sanchez), but again by a deadly gang of human traffickers led by Red, who will kill to keep their secret.

Thoughts on Traffik

Characters – Brea is an ambitious reporter always taking her time researching a story before throwing it to her editor, this has seen her get herself into trouble, losing stories and potentially her job. In her personal life it is her birthday celebrating among friends with a romantic getaway being part of it. This getaway will give her the biggest story of her career, when she finds herself targeted by human traffickers who want her in their collection. John is the boyfriend that is getting nervous about the getaway as he is about to propose to Brea, he gets hooked up by the friend that will give them the location and will need to help Brea fight back against the people after them. Red is the leader of the human traffickers, he can charm, but he will show his deadly side if anybody gets in his way.

PerformancesPaula Patton is the star of the show here, she gives us a strong performance that shows us just how determined she is to survive. Omar Epps, Luke Goss and the rest of the cast all do a great job letting Paula shine through in this film.

StoryThe story here follows a couple on a romantic getaway that get targeted by human traffickers who want to keep their secret safe. This is a story that is designed the highlight the horrific crimes of human trafficking, not just in America, but worldwide. Away from the message behind everything, we do see the mix of a home invasion, chase and fightback elements of story telling putting a firm light on the idea that women will fight back, in this case Brea. The way everything unfolds is mostly predictable which is fine, nothing really hits the intensity levels wanted from the film.

Action/CrimeThe action is a mix of chases and fight between victim and captures, they are quick instead of being over the top. The crime side of the film does show us just how easily this operation can happen to the victims and how organised it can be run.

SettingsThe film is set in the mountain range outside California where the people can pick and choose who they take.

Scene of the Movie – Escape.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – One of the main twists is too predictable.

Final Thoughts This is a generic action thriller that does highlight an important message of the horrors of the human trafficking world that leaves Paula Patton to shine.

Overall: Important, but Generic.

The Irishman (2019) Movie Review

Director: Martin Scorsese

Writer: Steven Zaillian (Screenplay) Charles Brandt (Book)

Starring: Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, Anna Paquin, Jesse Plemons, Stephen Graham, Kathrine Narducci, Jack Huston

Plot: A mob hitman recalls his possible involvement with the slaying of Jimmy Hoffa.

Tagline – His story changed history.

Runtime: 3 Hours 29 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Just Another Gangster Movie

Story: The Irishman starts with Frank Sheeran (De Niro) recounting his time working under Russell Bufalino (Pesci) starting as a meat delivery man, a chance encounter with Russell brings them together. Russell was the guy that if anybody wanted something done, he would give the green light and expect it done.

Frank continued to rise working under the infamous Jimmy Hoffa (Pacino) who was in battle with the Kennedy’s who were trying to find a way to take down his unions, which does see Frank become the president of his own region.

Thoughts on The Irishman

Characters – Frank Sheeran is the narrator who is looking back through his life as he started as delivery driver before finding himself joining the mobs in the Italian neighbourhood, rising up the ranks from the bottom becoming one of the closest members of Jimmy Hoffa go to man, one of the most trusted hitmen in the mob. Jimmy Hoffa is the man that runs the unions, he has the attention of the Kennedy’s who have never trusted his business, he will always find a way to get his side of the story through without ever getting his hands dirty. He expects respect from everybody he deals with and will give it back, before he runs for office. Russell Bufalino is the one that gives Frank enter into the criminal world, a chance meeting opens the door and he will give the instructions Frank to follow. Peggy is the daughter of Frank that has grown up seeing his action become worse over the years.

PerformancesThe performances here are almost flawless, we get three of the greatest gangster movie performers in De Niro, Pacino and Pesci, you simply wouldn’t expect anything less from the three. The supporting cast is also wonderful, where once again the acting isn’t the weak part of the film.

StoryThe story here follows Frank Sheeran’s rise from delivery man to hitman under one of the leaders of the mobs through the 60’s and 70’s America. Most of the story is Frank recounting his career in the mob, seeing how he often watched the biggest moments in the background, only getting his hands dirty when he needs to. We do need to talk about the length of the film because there is a huge problem here, we have so many scenes we don’t really need, we do also end up going through the routine that every single gangster movie does, which just makes it feel like something we have seen before. The timeline does fill in the random deaths with a headline on screen, even if that person is only in one scene.

Biopic/CrimeWe do get to learn the life’s story of a notorious hitman through his own eyes, we see how he isn’t completely good, but he is loyal and always tries to do the right thing in the middle of the criminal world.

SettingsThe settings takes us back to the eras we are going through, we have the glamorous locations for parties, the small street locations that show us where the dirty work gets done and a location which means everything to Frank, where it all started.

Scene of the Movie – The taxis.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – It is just too long.

Final Thoughts This is a gangster film that gets heavyweight performances in a story that we have seen before that does seem to drag along for way too long.

Overall: Long Drawn Out Gangster Film.

A Simple Favour (2018) Movie Review

Director: Paul Feig

Writer: Jessica Sharzer (Screenplay) Darcey Bell (Novel)

Starring: Anna Kendrick, Blake Lively, Henry Golding, Andrew Rannells, Jean Smart, Linda Cardellini, Rupert Friend

Plot: Stephanie is a single mother with a parenting vlog who befriends Emily, a secretive upper-class woman who has a child at the same elementary school. When Emily goes missing, Stephanie takes it upon herself to investigate.

Tagline – We all have secrets to hide.

Runtime: 1 Hour 57 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Slick & Stylish

Story: A Simple Favour starts when parental blogger Stephanie (Kendrick) present her latest show, calling for help to locate her new best friend Emily (Lively), leading to flashback to how they met, through their kids at school and a play date between the two friends.

Stephanie decides to investigate the disappearance of Emily and becoming friends with her husband Sean (Golding) and the case is only waiting for the mystery to be solved.

Thoughts on A Simple Favour

Characters – Stephanie is a single mother who runs a vlog for other parents, mostly on cook, but other life issues parents could face, she has a quirky little life always keeping busy helping around the school. She becomes unlikely friends with Emily and her caring nature sees her offer to look after the children, before her wanting to investigate the disappearance. Emily is the businesswoman who is known as being quite cold in personality with her high class status, she enjoys a drink to get through the day and doesn’t look like the sort of person that would be friends with anybody. Sean is the husband of Emily that is an author that has been struggling to find the motivation on his latest book.

PerformancesAnna Kendrick is wonderful in the leading role bringing her innocence to the role always looking like she is the girl next door. Blake Lively easily gives the performance of her career her being a controlling woman. Henry Golding had a wonderful year in 2018, with this top supporting performance too.

StoryThe story follows a single mother with a safe normal life that befriends the high-class woman and becomes best friends only for her to disappear and Stephanie goes in search for answers, only to find a truth she isn’t prepared for. This is a story that starts with the mystery of what happened to Emily, it offers up plenty of what if, with the mystery about what happened coming through strongly, it does go in a direction that you shouldn’t be able to solve which is nice and is filled with style because Stephanie is a woman that you would never see in this position and thrives from the new excitement in life. The story is filled with plenty of twists along the way which will always keep you on your toes which is fun too.

Comedy/CrimeThe comedy from the film comes mostly from how Stephanie enters this new lifestyle and how the other single parents act towards everything. The crime side of the film focuses on the crime and mystery behind the disappearance.

SettingsThe film uses the settings to help evolve the story and shows just how out of her comfort zone Stephanie finds herself in.

Scene of the Movie – The single parents gossip time.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – It could have one too many twists for its own good.

Final Thoughts This is a slick and stylish thriller that has plenty of twists and turns along the way, it puts people outside of their comfort zones just to show what people could be.

Overall: Enjoyable and Stylish.