Daniel Craig Weekend – Defiance (2008)

Director: Edward Zwick

Writer: Clayton Frohman, Edward Zwick (Screenplay) Nechama Tec (Book)

Starring: Daniel Craig, Liev Schreiber, Jamie Bell, Alexa Davalos, Allan Corduner, Mark Feuerstein, Tomas Arana

 

Plot: Jewish brothers in Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe escape into the Belarussian forests, where they join Russian resistance fighters, and endeavor to build a village, in order to protect themselves and about one thousand Jewish non-combatants.


Tagline – Freedom begins with an act of defiance!

Runtime: 2 Hours 17 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Amazing Story of the Tragedy of War

 

Story: Defiance starts as the Bielski brothers Tuvia (Craig), Zus (Schreiber) and Asael (Bell) set up camp in the forests of Belarus for Jews during the war, knowing they would become slaughtered if the Germans came across them. Tuvia wants to make sure the group survive, while Zus wants to fight back against them.

As the conflict between the brothers becomes clearer, Zus joins the Russian resistance to fight back, while Tuvia continues to grow the group offering the only hope of survival for the men, women and children.

 

Thoughts on Defiance

 

Characters – Tuvia wants safety for the innocent people in the war, mostly the Jews of Belarus, he offers them shelter in exchange for labour to make their community whole, guards them from the dangers that could come from the war, he makes the difficult decisions others simply couldn’t decide on. Zus wants to combative defence against the German’s he will eventually clash with his brother before joining the Russian’s against the German, always being left to wonder if he made the right decision. Asael is the younger of the three brothers, he learns to grow up through this war and his action show that he has given his own older brother the hope he needs to survive. Lilka is one of the women saved from the ghetto, she becomes somebody that challenges Tuvia to make the right decisions through the difficult times he is going through. We have a lot of support character who are part of this journey to show just how difficult surviving the war would have been for the innocent or helpless.

PerformancesDaniel Craig takes the leading role and shows all his strengths as an actor, he makes us believe that he is struggling with each and every expression he makes, this is likewise for Schreiber as the two show even with conflict they can work together. Jamie Bell continued to show he was growing up into a great actor ready for the more adult roles and with a supporting cast that contains Oscar nominated stars, we see the abilities involved with the cast.

StoryThe story here shows the incredible story of the Bielski brothers that gave hope to thousands of Jews during World War II, while the two oldest might fight over ideas of how to survive the war, they both want the same thing, freedom and safety for their people. We have seen many different stories of people doing incredible things to survive the war and never ask for anything in return is always growing, it is an important part of history that should never be forgotten and this film’s story shows us just how impossible their stories seemed.

Action/History/WarThe action in the film shows us the fighting suffered through war, the sequences show how quickly the peaceful locations can become ruined and just how war made people do things they never thought they would. This is also an important part of history which simply shouldn’t ever be forgotten.

SettingsSet mostly in the forest, this shows how the victims of war would be in hiding just hoping they never got seen by anybody who would come after them.


Scene of the Movie –
The journey.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The faith side while important does seem to take over at times.

Final ThoughtsThis is yet another amazing story of survival during the war, it showed how one family risked everything to make sure others were safe and shouldn’t ever be forgotten.

 

Overall: Powerful and important.

Rating

 

 

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Legends of the Fall (1994)

Director: Edward Zwick

Writer: Susan Shilliday, William D Wittliff (Screenplay) Jim Harrison (Novel)

Starring: Brad Pitt, Anthony Hopkins, Aidan Quinn, Julia Ormond, Henry Thomas, Karine Lombard, Tantoo Cardinal

 

Plot: In the 1900s, three brothers and their father living in the remote wilderness of Montana are affected by betrayal, history, love, nature, and war.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Enjoyable Life Story

 

Story: Legends of the Fall starts in the wilderness of Montana, Col William Ludlow (Hopkins) moves his family away from the wars which cover America to raise his three sons in the early 1900s. His sons no grown up Tristian (Pitt) the gentle and kind one, Alfred (Quinn) the intelligent one and Samuel (Thomas) the one who has just returned with his wife to be Susannah (Ormond).

With the First World War raging over in Europe the three brothers volunteer to fight which leads to tragedy when Samuel getting killed in action, Alfred returns to his family but Tristian goes in search for answers. As the years pass by Alfred becomes a success in his field while Tristian finds his own success but the family will never be the same as they deal with the effects of the war.

 

Thoughts on Legends of the Fall

 

Characters/PerformanceTristian is the wild child, he keeps things to himself, prefer the quiet life that only he could enjoy. He travels to discover himself but knows his heart is back in Montana on the ranch. Col William is the father of the house, he was tired of the battle between the natives and modern Americans, he wants the best for his three children as long as they keep to the right morale paths. Alfred is the smartest of all the brothers, he uses his intelligence to become a political success, the opposite to Tristian. Susannah enters the life as the youngest brother’s wife to be but soon after he passes has feelings for them all.

Performance wise, Brad Pitt shows us here just how good of an actor he was going to be, he goes toe to toe with the always incredible Anthony Hopkins. Aidan Quinn, Julian Ormond and Henry Thomas all give fantastic performance too.

StoryWatching a film about this one family becomes very interesting, we have the brothers that go in different directions as the father is left waiting hoping they return the successes they plan. This is something that is a good watch that can be enjoyed by all the people, it does have slight issues when it comes to understand the full timeline but otherwise flows nicely.

Romance/WarThe romance side of this film is brilliant because we get to see how love can be broken when you must wait for it but you will always have the feelings for that person in your heart. The war side id brief but is the reason why everything goes in the direction it does for the two remaining brothers.

SettingsThe remote location is great to see which is why our characters are away from the world and the settings continue this trend as we see how the brothers go in directions which bring them into different worlds.

Final ThoughtsThis is a film with heavyweight performances, the powerful story and a look at one of the most difficult times that America faced.

 

Overall: Brilliant coming of age tale.

Rating

 

 

American Assassin (2017)

Director: Michael Cuesta

Writer: Stephen Schiff, Michael Finch, Edward Zwick, Marshal Herskovitz (Screenplay) Vince Flynn (Novel)

Starring: Dylan O’Brien, Michael Keaton, Sanaa Lathan, Scott Adkins, Shiva Negar, Taylor Kitsch

 

Plot: A story centered on counterterrorism agent Mitch Rapp.


Tagline – Assassins aren’t born. They’re made.

Runtime: 1 Hour 51 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Hard Hitting Action Blast

 

Story: American Assassin starts as normal American Mitch Rapp (O’Brien) sees his fiancée gunned down by terrorists and himself left for dead, 18 months later he has trained himself to eliminate the men responsible but little does he know that CIA agent Irene Kennedy (Lathan) has been watching his action.

When Kennedy arranges to save Mitch from a certain death, she recruits him for a special section of the CIA working under Stan Hurley (Keaton) who trains agents to go undercover but if caught or killed no one will come for them.

The first mission is to locate nuclear weapon components before former agent Ghost (Kitsch) can use or sell them giving somebody in the world a nuclear bomb that can wipe out millions.

 

Thoughts on American Assassin

 

Characters – Mitch Rapp is an American that loses everything at the hands of terrorists, he learns combat and language skills to go undercover in the terrorist cell for revenge, he gets recruited by the CIA where he must learn discipline but this is where he struggles because he always wants to go after the criminal. This character does feel like a young Jack Bauer because of his rule breaking attitude for the right reasons. Stan Hurley is the off the grid trainer who takes Mitch as part of his unit, he gets tired of the Mitch’s lack of discipline but knows he needs him to capture his former student. Irene Kennedy is the deputy director of the CIA, she sees the potential in Mitch forcing Hurley to take him on, but also falls into the standard CIA director figure that will risk their reputation to prove others wrong. Ghost is the former trainee of Hurley that is using all the skills gained to stay one step ahead of him while collecting the nuclear components.

PerformancesDylan O’Brien is an actor that got into the young adult films but this role showed an adult character, showing he could go onto action films without looking like the complete actions star. Michael Keaton looks like he did enjoy the mentoring role while also getting the action role he isn’t known for. Sanaa Lathan is good in her role even if the character is very generic. Taylor Kitsch does seem to be on the recovering his career tour showing everyone just how talented he is in the villainous role.

StoryThe story does play out like an origin story for Mitch Rapp in the CIA, we see what motivated him to accept the offer, we see what makes him different from other potential agents. We have the standard level of threat, potential nuclear weapon and a story of needing to learn discipline to become a top agent while keeping his unique traits. This is an easy to watch but could easily be an over the top pilot for a television show.

Action/ThrillerThe action starts out brutal with the terrorist attack, we also fall into the car chases, fights and shoot outs which are fun to watch, the final action sequences is just popcorn wow.

SettingsThe settings take us on a tour of Europe which is fine and is giving us an iconic location moment, which is easy to locate for us.

Special EffectsThe effects in the opening sequence are brutal but then it just becomes by the book stuff.


Scene of the Movie –
Speed Boat fight.

That Moment That Annoyed Me While it started with violent level, it did turn into Jack Bauer origin feeling.

Chances of Sequel: Easily could have one.

Post Credits Scene: No

Final ThoughtsThis is an action film that is fun but not one of the greatest of the year.

 

Overall: Fun action packed blast.

Rating

 

 

The Great Wall (2016)

Director: Yimou Zhang

Writer: Carlo Bernard, Doug Miro, Tony Gilroy (Screenplay) Max Brooks, Edward Zwick, Marshall Herskovitz (Story)

Starring: Matt Damon, Tian Jing, Willem Dafoe, Andy Lau, Pedro Pascal, Hanyu Zhang

 

Plot: European mercenaries searching for black powder become embroiled in the defense of the Great Wall of China against a horde of monstrous creatures.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Big Bad, Forgettable

 

Story: The Great Wall starts with a Great Wall history lesson as we learn the wall was constructed to keep enemies out some known others are legend, this is one of the legends. We meet the European mercenaries William (Damon), Tovar (Pascal) and their men on the run. Finding themselves under attack William and Tovar find an enemy unlike anything they have seen before but that is the least of their worries as they are still being hunted down but find themselves at the mercy of the Chinese.

Captured by the Chinese, Commander Lin Mae (Jing), General Shao (Zhang) and Strategist Wang (Lau) must decide what to do with the men and if their story is true. William and Tovar find themselves trapped in the middle of a battle between the Chinese and their defensive wall and blood thirsty creatures, a war their never asked for but a battle they were always ready to fight in.

 

Thoughts on The Great Wall

 

Characters/PerformanceWilliam is one of the Europeans who finds himself using all his combat skills to help the Chinese fight the creatures that terrorise their people and if they can get through the world. This battle gives William a chance at redemption for the wrongs he has committed in life. Tovar is his partner who wants to continue the darker path but his loyalty to William keeps him stuck between the lines.  Commander Lin is the strong leading women, she is willing to sacrifice herself to protect her people and he combat skills excel. Ballard is the once captured man who has become part of the battle but against his own will. The rest of the characters are all what you would expect in the wildly over the top action fantasy adventure films.

Performance wise, Matt Damon does struggle in this role, his accent skills are terrible as he bounces between most European from scene to scene even though he holds his own in the action sequences. Pedro Pascal is fun getting most of the comic relief throughout the film. Willem Defoe is the usual odd ball supporting role with Tian Jing being the star of the show.

StoryThe story does work in places, the mystery about the Great Wall will always make for an appealing story, while most of the history is known it is always interesting to see a twist on what could be a story about the history behind it all. The fantasy elements of the story is what drives this but in the end it is nothing more humans versus monsters with people needing to work together to make them win.

Action/Adventure/FantasyThe action is big, but at times hard to follow with the adventure coming from how the humans battle to survive. The fantasy side does work but also feels like something we have seen way too often.

SettingsHaving the film set mostly on the Great Wall works in my opinion because it plays into the fantasy idea of the wall being built to fight an ancient enemy.

Special EffectsThis is a film that is very heavy on the CGI and you can tell because a lot of them miss and look bad for the overall quality of the film.

Final ThoughtsI found this to be over the top, unoriginal but easy to watch, I don’t think this will be up for any awards just become forgettable.

 

Overall: This is an easy film to watch but nowhere near a classic

Rating

 

 

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back (2016)

jackDirector: Edward Zwick

Writer: Richard Wenk, Edward Zwick, Marshall Herskovitz (Screenplay) Lee Child (Book)

Starring: Tom Cruise, Cobie Smulders, Aldis Hodge, Danika Yarosh, Partick Heusinger, Holt McCallany, Judd Lormand, Robert Knepper

 

Plot: Jack Reacher must uncover the truth behind a major government conspiracy in order to clear his name. On the run as a fugitive from the law, Reacher uncovers a potential secret from his past that could change his life forever.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Simple Action Thriller

 

Story: Jack Reacher: Never Go Back starts by showing us just how capable Jack Reacher (Cruise) is in a fight, solving crimes and getting out of trouble, we also get to see the building relationship between Reacher and Turner (Smulders) his connection in DC.

When Turner gets arrested for espionage Reacher wants to search for answers but his life has a bigger surprise when he is informed that he has a daughter Samantha (Yarosh). When Reacher becomes framed within the same conspiracy he must break Turner out and work with her to find the truth and this time they are an even more ruthless assassin known as The Hunter (Heusinger) looking to clean up the militaries mess.

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back is the second instalment of a potential mega spy series as we see Jack Reacher become the target this time rather than just helping an innocent soldier. The idea that there is a government conspiracy going on that stronger soldiers in the military want to expose have to escape before they become the latest victims, simple, and of yeah there is an awkward road trip with an annoying teenager feel about this film. The comic tone just doesn’t seem to fit on the levels it should do either because we need this to really be a series film only.

Cruise is great in this role which he really has made his own while Cobie Smulders show she is just as kick ass in the leading role with in an action film. Patrick Heusinger is a step up from the rival from the Jai Courtney role last time around but it is the inclusion of the daughter character which really drags this down. The inclusion makes everything come off more user friendly rather than the rough around the edge story which it needs to be.

 

Overall: Doesn’t reach the levels of the first film but is still a fun action mystery film.

Ratingcard