ABC Film Challenge – Random – M – Mojave (2015)

Director: William Monahan

Writer: William Monahan (Screenplay)

Starring: Oscar Isaac, Garrett Hedlund, Louise Bourgin, Mark Wahlberg, Walter Goggins


Plot: A suicidal artist goes into the desert, where he finds his doppelgänger, a homicidal drifter.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Thriller with Potential


Story: Mojave starts as Tom (Hedlund) a suicidal artist who works in film goes off the radar into the Mojave Desert, but when he meets drifter Jack (Isaac) and the two clash leading to Jack tracking down Tom once he goes back to his life in the film world.

With Tom adjusting back to his normal life he must deal with everything he didn’t want to in the first place. Jack however shows his true colours as a ruthless serial killer that tracks down Tom to get the revenge for the fire camp incident in the desert.


Thoughts on Mojave


Characters/PerformanceTom is an artist working in Hollywood, we never seem to learn just what his job is but we do know he isn’t enjoying life right now. Jack is a drifter that hunts in the desert but after clashing with Tom he sees a chance for a new hunting ground, LA who calls everyone ‘Brother’

Performance wise, Oscar Isaac is good in this role keeping up his ability to play someone slightly strange, Garrett Hedlund does ok but you don’t seem to buy into his broken rich man character.

StoryThe story has moments that you could see borrow from Insomnia and The Hitcher, I say this because we have an innocent man that accidently kills someone and must work with the true criminal to move on but ultimately this is a cat and mouse chase between the two.

ThrillerThis is a thriller that does pull us in even though it does take its time getting going, there are some wonderfully crafted scene that are filled with tension though.

SettingsThe desert does make for a good starting setting which shows how they can clash there, with LA making for a good setting for later in the film.

Final ThoughtsThis is a thriller that surprised but does take time getting going and is mixed with really good scenes and bland scenes.


Overall: Slow burning thriller.





Mudbound (2017)

Director: Dee Rees

Writer: Virgil Williams, Dee Rees (Screenplay) Hillary Jordan (Novel)

Starring: Carey Mulligan, Garrett Hedlund, Jason Clarke, Jonathan Banks, Kerry Cahill, Rob Morgan, Jason Mitchell, Mary J Bige, Kelvin Harrison Jr


Plot: Two men return home from World War II to work on a farm in rural Mississippi, where they struggle to deal with racism and adjusting to life after war.

Runtime: 2 Hours 14 Minutes


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Powerful


Story: Mudbound starts as we meet the two families, the white family McAllans brothers Henry (Clarke), Jamie (Hedlund) and Henry’s wife Laura (Mulligan) as Henry buys a farm for his family while Jamie goes to World War II. We also meet the black family, the Jacksons, father Hap (Morgan) mother Florence (Blige) and one of the children Ronsel (Mitchell) who also goes to war, while the Jacksons start working for the McAllans.

When Jamie and Ronsel return from war as heroes, but Ronsel must deal with the racial tension in Mississippi still using segregation, while Jamie is left traumatised by his memories from war. The two strike up a friendship because of their experiences, which only causes problems for both the families, who can’t help with the problems the men are facing.


Thoughts on Mudbound


Characters – Laura McAllan is the wife of Henry and mother of their child, she is a homebody and she likes this role too. She works to keep things together and never falls into the racial mindset in the area. Jamie is the brother of Henry, he returned from war traumatised drinking his problems away with his best place to find calm is with Ronsel. Henry is the man who bought the farm, he father is a racist, but Henry treats the black farmhands equal to the law, his dream was for his family to have a farm but he learns not everything is as easy as he thought it would be. Ronsel comes from the black family that went to war, he is decorated for his service too, returning home he must deal with the racial problems running through Mississippi and not living up to his potential while working with his family on the farm. Hap and Florence are the parents of Ronsel that work for Henry, they have helped on the farm and in the home when the McAllan’s have needed help, they know that Ronsel needs his freedom after returning from war.

PerformancesJason Mitchell gives us a powerful performance as Ronsel, he might have had a couple of commercial films where he has struggled recently but this is back to his very best. Garrett Hedlund is an actor that has been criticised for years, but this role will be career defying. Jason Clarke and Carey Mulligan are great in their roles through the film giving us what you expect from the both. Rob Morgan and Mary J Blige both give strong performances too, as both stars I am unfamiliar with their work beforehand.

StoryThe story starts with a bang, we see a coffin being prepared for burial and a moment of tension between the two families. We go back to learn what caused this as we follow both the families leading up to this moment, the struggles they face along the way with two very different backgrounds being a white and black family in Mississippi in the late 40s. we spend a lot of time learning the little things from the lives which at times does feel slow, but this does get rewarding with the mindset of the characters by the end when the big event happens.

SettingsThe film is mostly set in Mississippi which helps show the problems with the racial behaviour in the 1940s and the struggles with life.

Scene of the Movie –
Final moment.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It does take time to get to the big scene.

Final ThoughtsThis is a powerful thought provoking movie that shows us the problems that ran through America during the 40s.


Overall: This could well be an early chance Oscar contender for Netflix.




Unbroken (2014)

logoDirector: Angelina Jolie

Writer: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen, Richard LaGravenses, William Nicholson (Screenplay) Laura Hillenbrand (Book)

Starring: Jack O’Connell, Domhnall Gleeson, Garrett Hedlund, Takamasa Ishihara, Finn Wittrock, Jai Courtney, Maddalena Ischiale,


Plot: After a near-fatal plane crash in WWII, Olympian Louis Zamperini spends a harrowing 47 days in a raft with two fellow crewmen before he’s caught by the Japanese navy and sent to a prisoner-of-war camp.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Not Powerful Enough


Story: Unbroken starts by showing an American fleet of fighter pilots on their latest mission, we focus on one plane with Louis Zamperini (O’Connell), Phil (Gleeson), Mac (Wittrock) and Cup (Courtney) as they get caught up in a dog fight while their plane is malfunctioning the unit find themselves facing a very real reality they might not make it back to base.

We move back to meet Louis in his childhood years as we see that he is a rebellious teenager with his Italian heritage making him distant to the rest of the community. When Louis gets challenged by his brother Pete to focus on athletes we see how he becomes one of the best long distances runners of his time representing America in the Olympics.

The story jumps back to the stricken fighter plane that does make it back with a risky landing but most importantly they are on land again. Louis, Phil, Cup and Mac return to the air with a new team and plane on a rescue mission, before that plane suffer mechanical difficulties. We move back to the Olympics showing the final where Louis wins the attention of his nation with his recorded breaking final lap, before returning to see the plane crash into the ocean.

The plane has just three survivors Louis, Mac and Phil and the three have to work together to survive in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with very limited supplies. We see the days pass by as the trio have to overcome obstacles in the fight to survive. 47 days pass before Louis and Phil get found by the Japanese who take them to the POW camp. The camp is run by Watanabe (Ishihara) nickname ‘The Bird’ who puts his prisoners through punishments but the main focus is on Louis.

Unbroken tells a brilliant powerful story only it doesn’t seem to grasp the idea of how to achieve all of the powerful moments. The almost pointless tease crash or damaged plane scene seems to just be there to drag the scenes out so we can learn more about Louis back story. It really offers nothing once we have the actual plane crash. The flashbacks to his childhood feel like a carbon copy of most of the Forest Gump running scenes and get fast-forwarded to almost be jammed in to say he was in the Olympics which we also don’t know where he finished without researching ourselves. That is my rant side of the story over with, the stranded scenes do work very well but they do all seem to have perfectly trimmed beards through them. Once they get captured what should be very much a powerful rebellious attitude against his enemy just seems to fizzle out. I really don’t want to sit here and slam this because the story of survival is real and incredible but we just don’t get to feel how difficult it really was. Overall this story comes off very flat and uninspiring.  (5/10)


Actor Review


Jack O’Connell: Louis Zamperini is the rebellious teenager who becomes an Olympic hero before becoming a fighter pilot during World War II. After his plane crashes he takes charge of the situation keeping his two fellow survivors alive as long as he can. When he is captured he comes head to head with Watanabe who pushes him to the limits where he just won’t back down from. Jack gives a heavyweight performance and could easily be one of the underrated ones of the year. (9/10)


Domhnall Gleeson: Phil is one of the pilots who goes down with the plane but survives along with Louis as they are both taken into a POW camp by the Japanese. Domhnall does give a good performance but not his fault here but I didn’t know if he was in the second half of the film or not. (7/10)


Takamasa Ishihara: Watanabe is the leader of the prisoner camp who puts his prisoners through tests to see if he can break them, it becomes apparent that through both respect and hate that he wants to make an example out of Louis. Takamasa gives a good debut performance here but never feels as intense as I believe the character is meant to be. (6/10)


Support Cast: Unbroken has a big supporting cast of fellow young male actors who are on the rise which include Garrett Hedlund, Finn Wittrock, Jai Courtney and Luke Treadaway as they all perform very well in the role that take on. Each shows that they will be heading to bigger things in the future.


Director Review: Angelina Jolie – Angelina struggles to make this film as powerful as it should be, we have lack of explanation to very simple things missing in this film which would be key to what actually goes on during the film. (4/10)


Biographical: Unbroken tells a brilliant story of survival against the odds during the war, but there are many of these stories out there. (7/10)

War: Unbroken does show two sides of the war, being stranded and being a POW. (8/10)

Settings: Unbroken uses the settings to create the authentic looking location for all the events to unfold. (9/10)

Suggestion: Unbroken is one to try but I do feel it doesn’t match up to many other powerful drama about survival. (Try it)


Best Part: O’Connell performance.

Worst Part: Not enough focus on the rest of the prisoners.

Favourite Quote: Pete ‘If you can take it, you can make it’


Believability: It is based on the true story. (10/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No


Oscar Chances: Nominated for 3 Oscars including Cinematography, Sound Mixing and Sound Editing.

Box Office: $161 Million

Budget: $65 Million

Runtime: 2 Hours 17 Minutes


Overall: Unbroken is filled with great performance but they all get buried by poor story telling.

Rating 60


Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)

logoDirector: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen

Writer: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen (Screenplay)

Starring: Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan, Justin Timberlake, Ethan Philips, Robin Bartlett, Max Casella, Jerry Grayson, Jeanine Serralles, Adam Driver, Stark Sands, John Goodman, Garrett Hedlund


Plot: Follow a week, in the life of a young fold singer as he navigates the Greenwich Village fold scene of 1961. Guitar in tow, huddled against the unforgiving New York winter, he is struggling to make it as a musician against seemingly insurmountable obstacles, some of them of his own making.


Verdict: Nice Musical Drama


Story: Just following that one week in Llewyn struggling career as a folk singer, we see him crash at different people’s houses where he has connections but doesn’t seem to make many friends. He has made mistakes which have left him on the path of destruction where people just know he always wants something from them. He also has to decide what he wants next in his life when he starts to figure out his music career might not take off as planned. The story is very easy to follow and enjoyable watching how he acts like he just wants his career to take off but never seems to put too much into but also watching him deal with a personal loss could have taken that away from him. (8/10)


Actor Reviews


Oscar Isaac: Llewyn Davis the folk singer trying to hit the big time, all along trying desperately to hold onto friendships he has pushed away from him. He also struggles to keep a cat in his control while trying to return it to its home. Good performance from Oscar stepping up to lead role all along having a solid singer voice. (9/10)


Carey Mulligan: Jean a friend and ex-lover with a secret from her new boyfriend, she has a strong hate for Llewyn but also cares for him. Good supporting role. (8/10)


John Goodman: Roland Turner joins Llewyn on the road trip talks a lot but really doesn’t get along with Llewyn. Good small support role. (7/10)


Director Review: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen – Good direction to create an interesting story that really has touching moments in. (8/10)


Drama: Good use of everyday issues to keep the story rolling showing the struggle of the musician. (9/10)

Music: Good music throughout and everyone involved in the singing has a good voice. (9/10)

Settings: Each setting adds to the story showing how difficult it was to make it in the music industry. (9/10)

Suggestion: I think people should watch this but I do feel that the subject matter may make it hard for the more casual fans to really enjoy. (Give It A Go)


Best Part: The cat overriding story.

Worst Part: It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea.

Funniest Scene: The cat escaping.

Believability: Seems accurate to how the music industry was once. (8/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No


Oscar Chances: Nominated for 2 Oscars

Box Office: $32,935,319

Budget: $11 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 45 Minutes


Overall: Good Music Drama That Shows The Struggle

Rating 89

Tron Legacy (2010)

Director: Joseph Kosinski

Starring: Jeff Bridges, Garrett Hedlund, Olivia Wilde, Bruce Boxleitner, Beau Garrett, Michael Sheen

This is the follow up to the 1982 movie Tron Staring Jeff Bridges as Kevin Flynn Fighting on the grid of a virtual reality world. Fast forward twenty years we meet Sam Flynn, Kevin’s son a Twenty-seven year old tech at the firm Kevin once ran.

Sam receives a page from his father old arcade so he goes to investigate only for himself to get transported into the grid. Now a much darker world Sam get captured and sent to play on death games where he meets Clu who he believes to be his father but is just a clone of him. fighting in the games he is saved by Quorra and taken to his real father who is in hiding from Clu. Now some back story fills in some gaps and we are left with the race to escape.

Jeff Bridges delivers good performance as Kevin Flynn and Clu and Olivia Wild as Quorra is a good addition with he beauty and with her programmed robotic performance. Garrett Hedlund as Sam Flynn does a good job after being on of his only major film roles. Also a nice almost cameo from Michael Sheen. With a huge 170million dollar Budget it has been success with almost 400 million dollars made from it.

This film is visually brilliant but the truth is instead of a remake it really is just a revamped sequel. the grid games are similar only in 3d now and some added machines to use for transport.

Overall this is a good film that is well worth a watch with strong performances and good story and good visual effects. my rating is 88%