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.





Black Mirror – Black Museum

Director: Colm McCarthy

Writer: Charlie Brooker (Screenplay)

Starring: Douglas Hodge, Letitia Wright, Babs Olusanmokun, Jade Clarke


Plot: A woman enters the Black Museum, where the proprietor tells her stories relating to the artefacts.



There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Twist Filled Tales


Story: Black Museum starts as British tourist Nish (Wright) finds herself in the middle of nowhere in America needing to recharge her car, she stops at a mystery Black Museum run by Rolo Haynes (Hodge), his museum is filled with artefacts that have stories with Rolo telling Nish his place he has been a part off, including the Dawson net which gave a doctor the ability to feel pain to solve cases.

We follow the tour as we learn about other cases that Rolo had been involved in and become part of this tour, we learn how he has been planning to try to break boundaries in his industry.


Thoughts on Black Museum


StoryThis does have three stories being told, each could easily have been their own chapter in the series, this is a positive and a negative, the positive is because we do get invested in these stories which have a twisted side to them all, the negative is waiting for the twist which while isn’t the easiest one to work out, but you can tell something must happen to complete this outer story. it is strange to say, but it does feel like this story is almost too busy to fully enjoy on a on time viewing.

Scene of the Episode –
The twist ending.

That Moment That Annoyed Me This one does need a repeat viewing.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the most thought provoking of the stories in Black Mirror, this one will need a couple of viewings to get each detail of this episode, which is a good and bad thing, but if I was to go back through the show, this would be the first one to see for me. The stories do twist together nicely and do get the most out of the shorter formula.


Overall: Nice finishes to the show.




Franchise Weekend – The Descent Part 2 (2009)

descenDirector: Jon Harris

Writer: James McCarthy, J Blakeson, James Watkins (Screenplay)

Starring: Shauna Macdonald, Michael J Reynolds, Douglas Hodge, Josh Dallas, Anna Skellern, Gavan O’Herlihy


Plot: Refusing to believe her story about cave-dwelling monsters, the sole survivor of a spelunking exploration gone horribly wrong is forced to follow the authorities back into the caves where something awaits.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Forced Sequel


Story: The Descent Part 2 starts as we learn about the search party looking for the girls in the wrong cave off course because of Juno’s decision in the first film. Sarah (Macdonald) has escaped from the cave finding herself in hospital as Vaines (O’Herlihy) leads the police investigation into what happened.

Learning about the new location Vaines along with his rookie partner Ellen (Cummings) calls upon rescue team Dan (Hodge), Gregg (Dalls) and Cath (Skellern) as they take Sarah back into the cave system to find the missing girls because Sarah can’t remember the last two days.

The Descent Part 2 feels very much like a forced sequel to the brilliant original, the problems start early on this one because we have a couple of different endings from the first one. We then have bad decision making from the experienced characters and a final twist that is built for franchise in the future. If you look past most of this you do get plenty of scenes that are designed to have a bloodiest possible kills happening which takes away most of the tension the film needs. I do feel this is a huge step down from the original even if it is set straight after the original.


Actor Review


Shauna Macdonald: Sarah freshly escaped from the cave has no memory of her time in the cave system but with her friends still missing Sheriff Vaines takes her back into the caves to find her missing friends. Sarah once remembering what happened must guide this team in battle against the creatures in the cave. Shauna returns and does a solid job in this role.

Krysten Cummings: Ellen is a rookie cop that gets bought into the case to try and help Sarah through her memory loss, she has to reluctantly go into the cave system with the team to find out what happened. Krysten is good in this role as we see a character that Sarah can relate too.

Douglas Hodge: Dan is the lead rescue climber that takes his team into the cave system, he is a safe caver and tries to keep calm through any situation his team find themselves in, but he isn’t prepared for what is within the caves waiting for them. Douglas is strong as the leader but a true climber would never take this chance of inexperienced climbers in an uncharted cave.

Gavan O’Herlihy: Sheriff Vaines is leading the search for the missing girls and once Sarah is discovered he believes she knows more than she is letting on, forcing her to go back into the caves to remember what happened to her friends. Gavan plays your typical character who shouldn’t be in the location well.

Support Cast: The Descent Part 2 has a supporting cast that includes a couple of extra climbers but as the big surprise we get a fellow survivor that Sarah thought was dead. The issue with this supporting cast is that it doesn’t feel as natural as the first film.

Director Review: Jon HarrisJon does a solid job with this sequel which does have good kills but does have a few issues with character decisions.


Adventure: The Descent Part 2 doesn’t have the sense of adventure the first film has as this is more of the rescue mission.

Horror: The Descent Part 2 has a few jump scares but not as effective as the first film but does go slightly heavier on the gore.

Thriller: The Descent Part 2 fails to keep us fully on edge because of the false endings in the first ending doesn’t really make us care about these disposable characters this time around.

Settings: The Descent Part 2 does take us back into the cave system which does work to the advantage of the film.
Special Effects
: The Descent Part 2 goes very heavy on the practical effects as the film looks for the most brutal kills on either side of the fight.

Suggestion: The Descent Part 2 is one to try, if you did enjoy the first one which I do think you should have this will get what you need out of it. (Try It)


Best Part: Some of the kills are brutal.

Worst Part: The film does focus too much on creating a unique kill too much rather than tension.


Believability: No

Chances of Tears: No

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No


Oscar Chances: No

Runtime: 1 Hour 34 Minutes

Tagline: Fear runs deep. Revenge runs deeper.


Overall: Sequel that lacks that bit of overall direction as to character decisions.