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.

Rating

 

 

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Julia Roberts Weekend – Secret in Their Eyes (2015)

secretDirector: Billy Ray

Writer: Billy Ray (Screenplay) Juan Jose Campanella, Eduardo Sacheri (Original Screenplay)

Starring: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Nicole Kidman, Julia Roberts, Dean Norris, Alfred Molina, Joe Cole, Michael Kelly

 

Plot: A tight-knit team of rising investigators, along with their supervisor, is suddenly torn apart when they discover that one of their own teenage daughters has been brutally murdered.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Lacklustre Thriller

 

Story: Secret in Their Eyes starts as we see Ray Kasten (Ejiofor) meeting his old team and now DA Claire Sloane (Kidman) Chief Investigator Jessica Cobb (Roberts) and fellow political roles Reg Seifert (Kelly). We flash back to when they were a team of investigators with Bumpy Willis (Norris) when they are tracking terrorists only for one of their own daughters Carolyn Cobb (Graham) being murdered next to their investigation.

Ray has spent the last 13 years of his life searching for the killer and now he believes he has figured out the person responsible and wants the case re-opened between the old team.

 

Thoughts on Secret in Their Eyes

 

StoryThis is an American remake of the Oscar winning movie that has a very bland story which should be a very intense story, the scenes all flow so slowly you just don’t believe this is a case unfolding and the jumps in time are too often leaving us all over the place in the end.

Crime/MysteryThe crime story should be one of the most intense ones we have seen, but it doesn’t work out that way because the film spends way too much time balancing the murder case with a potential terrorist investigation without even giving us the mystery to try and solve ourselves.

Characters/PerformanceThe team are all believable as a unit but as solo characters you just don’t feel the desperation in Ray, the power in what should be a power-hungry role in Claire but you do like get to feel the grief through Jess’s character.

Ejiofor, Kidman and Roberts are all solid but just don’t reach the ability we know all three are capable off. The rest of the performances are all solid without stealing the scene.

SettingsWe have the setting in and around LA without managing to use any settings which are easy to help us identify where the film is set.

Final ThoughtsFor the talent involved this is a very slow, poorly acted thriller that lacks any suspense to the levels it could have got too.

 

Overall: This will always be forgettable in the arena of remakes.

Ratingcard

 

 

Michael Fassbender Weekend – The Counsellor (2013)

counselorDirector: Ridley Scott

Writer: Cormac McCarthy (Screenplay)

Starring: Michael Fassbender, Penelope Cruz, Cameron Diaz, Javier Bardem, Bruno Ganz, Rosie Perez, Ruben Blades, Brad Pitt, Goran Visnjic, Edgar Ramirez, Dean Norris, Sam Spruell

 

Plot: A lawyer finds himself in over his head when he gets involved in drug trafficking.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Wow this was Boring

 

Story: The Counsellor starts with one of the most awkward scenes I have seen in film as the Counsellor (Fassbender) is in bed with Laura (Cruz) talking uncomfortable dirty. The Counsellor is working on a one of drug deal with Reiner (Bardem) and Westray (Pitt) as he learns all the tricks of the trade to make this deal happen.

The Counsellor finds himself in the middle of a much bigger picture which involved a drug lord, law authority agencies with undercover agent which will put his life and his fiancée’s wife in danger.

The Counsellor is a crime thriller that is so empty of actual story you are left wondering what you just watched. We never learn any of the character’s motive to be involved in the deal or what they are actually doing. I really can’t explain just how boring this film really was to watch with nothing happening at all.

 

Actor Review

 

Michael Fassbender: Counsellor is a lawyer who is trying to get involved in a drug, he finds himself having a connection with each side of the dealing and when the drugs go missing he finds himself the prime suspect. Michael is solid and really struggles to make an impact in this film.fassbender

Penelope Cruz: Laura is the love interest of the Counsellor she isn’t involved with the drug deal but finds herself being seduced into a darker side by Malkina and in danger thanks to the drugs going missing. Penelope is ok with the few scenes she has in the film but you will almost forget what happened to her.

Cameron Diaz: Malkina is the girlfriend of Reiner, she comes off seductive in every way be it controlling her drug lord boyfriend or teaching Laura the bad ways. Cameron does well but doesn’t do enough to make is either like or dislike her.

Javier Bardem: Reiner is the drug lord that the Counsellor wants to go and make a deal happen with, he uses his experience to show him just what he can do if he gets screwed over. Javier is good in this role where he gets to be his eccentric self.

Support Cast: The Counsellor has a supporting cast that doesn’t do enough to make us know what their character is doing.

Director Review: Ridley ScottRidley is a director we would expect greatness from but what is this?

 

Crime: The Counsellor has a crime story I just didn’t really know what it was.

Thriller: The Counsellor doesn’t pull us in to this story at all.

Settings: The Counsellor tries to use pretty settings but nothing that makes us know what is going on.
Special Effects
: The Counsellor has solid effects with the kills only.

Suggestion: The Counsellor is one to stay well away from. (Avoid)

 

Best Part: Don’t make me laugh.

Worst Part: Everything.

 

Believability: No

Chances of Tears: No

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

 

Oscar Chances: No

Box Office: $17 Million

Budget: $25 Million

Runtime: 2 Hours 18 Minutes

Tagline: Sin Is A Choice

 

Overall: Dreadfully boring film that goes nowhere.

Ratingcard

Trailer Alert – Remember

Plot – The darkest chapter of the 20th century collides with a contemporary mission of revenge.

Release Date: Non set

Stars: Christopher Plummer, Martin Landau, Dean Norris

What Looks Good? Very haunting look at what would be a revenge film.

What Looks Bad? We might have seen similar before.

Summary: This does look like a very powerful film with a strong cast that I think could be a surprise hit for the year.

Questions:

Will I Be Watching? Yes

Will You Be Watching?

My Anticipation Rating – 90%

My Guess Rating – 90%

Will It Be Number One In UK? – No

The Frozen Ground (2013)

logoDirector: Scott Walker

Writer: Scott Walker (Screenplay)

Starring: Nicolas Cage, Vanessa Hudgens, John Cusack, Dean Norris, Gia Mantegna, Robert Forgit, Brad William Henke, Michael McGrady, Katherine LaNasa, Kevin Dunn, Radha Mitchell, Matt Gerald, Jodi Lyn O’Keefe, Curtis Jackson

 

Plot: Alaska Trooper Jack Holcombe (Cage) believes Robert Hansen (Cusack) is a serial killer who abducts young girls, tortures and sexually assaults them, then kills them. But Holcombe doesn’t have enough evidence to get a search warrant for Hansen’s premises. Holcombe knows that one victim, Cindy Paulsen (Hudgens), somehow survived, so he decides to seek her help, but he finds that she’s now a junkie with trust issues. Holcombe has to earn her trust; meanwhile, Hansen is still hunting and killing girls.

 

Verdict: Tense Thriller

 

Story: Telling the story of serial killer Robert Hansen but focusing more on catching him rather than his crimes, if fact we only see one kill that is very much off camera not glorifying it. That is a good point, we follow how one state trooper finally starts to believe something is worth investigating because Hansen was smart while disposing of the bodies. This story of Cindy and Jack trying to befriend her to find the truth could be made up by the best writers and knowing it is true makes the story even more incredible. The story focuses on Cindy not being able to trust after being shot down by officers, being forced into things by her pimp and tricked by other prostitutes. If it wasn’t based on a true story I would have like to seen more about the killer, but I agree they minimise seeing his good side that everyone thinks he was, was for the better. In the end it is a very well told story that respects the victims instead of glorifying the killer. (8/10)

 

Actor Review

 

Nicolas Cage: Jack who is leaving the force in two weeks before this last body turns up, he starts investigating and befriends the only known survivor, while trying to finally get enough evidence to investigate the prime suspect, but this tests his family commitments too. Good performance from Cage who shows he can do serious without adding some over the top action. (8/10)

 cage

Vanessa Hudgens: Cindy the prostitute victim who escaped, but no one wants to believe her story until Jack comes along, she has slipped back into her underworld and entering the world of drugs hasn’t help her trust issues which kept getting her in trouble. Good performance from Vanessa showing she really is dumping the child star tag with mature roles. (7/10)

vanessa

John Cusack: Robert the everyday family man with a darker side, he stalks then kills woman and has been getting away with it for years. Good performance from Cusack showing his much darker side and not using the charm he is known for, (8/10)

 cusac

Director Review: Scott Walker – Well directing thriller that shows the work the State Troopers put into stopping a serial killer. (8/10)

 

Biography: Showing more of the victim’s and lead officer’s side to the story we learn how one serial killer was finally stopped. (9/10)

Crime: Looks into the fine technicalities that can stop someone being stopped and how hard people need to search for the final truth. (8/10)

History: Well told story of how the killer was stopped. (9/10)

Thriller: Well built up thriller that keeps you wanting to know what happens next. (8/10)

Settings: Each setting works well for the story. (7/10)

Suggestion: If you are a fan of the genre you will enjoy this, but the more casual fan may find this slow because it is more about the people involved. (Thriller Fans Watch)

 

Best Part: The final Conviction.

Worst Part: Cindy’s choices get annoying as she makes bad decisions.

Believability: Based on the real victim, officer and killer. (9/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: Information about the real killer.

 

Oscar Chances: No

Budget: $27 Million

Runtime: 105 Minutes

Tagline: The hunter becomes the hunted.

 

Overall: Great Thriller That Shows How Hard The Truth Can Be To Find

Rating 80