Tommy Lee Jones Weekend – In the Valley of Elah (2007)

Director: Paul Haggis

Writer: Paul Haggis (Screenplay) Mark Boal, Paul Haggis (Story)

Starring: Tommy Lee Jones, Charlize Theron, Jason Patric, Susan Sarandon, James Franco, Barry Corbin, Josh Brolin

 

Plot: A retired military investigator works with a police detective to uncover the truth behind his son’s disappearance following his return from a tour of duty in Iraq.


Tagline – Sometimes The Truth Is Best Left Buried

Runtime: 2 Hour 1 Minute

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Tense Slowly Driven Thriller

 

Story: In the Valley of Elah starts when retired military investigator Hank Deerfield (Jones) receives a phone call informing him his son Mike (Tucker) has gone AWOL which leads him to head to the base to investigate the motives and hopefully find his son before it turns into a criminal case. Hank turns to the local police and detective Emily Sanders (Theron) for help, but derestriction causes the problems.

When Mike’s body is discovered the military want to keep things quiet, but Hank isn’t accepting the answers given to him, working with Emily the two investigate what really happened to Mike and the truth will leave us shocked.

 

Thoughts on In the Valley of Elah

 

Characters – Hank is a retired military investigator, he has lost one son in war and no his second has gone missing, he goes to solve the case using his years of experience to get to the bottom of the case. He is from an older school of military with a determination unlike what people are prepared for. Detective Emily Sanders is used to getting dead end cases, but she does care about the people who are in need of help, she listens to Hank’s ideas and takes lead on the case having to face the truths of not being able to help everybody. Joan is the wife of Hank and mother of Mike, she stays home while Hank tries to solve the case where we learn about the struggles she has faced with dealing with the boys she let go into war.

PerformancesTommy Lee Jones shines in this role, he carries the film with a performance that is up there with his very best. Charlize Theron is also strong in the supporting role showing she can step away from glamourous roles with ease. Susan Sarandon is good as the supporting role which we are used to seeing from her. The whole cast is great throughout the film never giving too much away.

StoryThe story starts off as if it was a simple missing persons case, but it soon turns into a murder with conspiracies about what could have happened on that night of his death. we are never driven down one path and the crime takes time to unfold which makes this a fascinating watch as we see things unfold like Hank. The other side of the story remains how parents must deal with losing children who are in the military.

Crime/MysteryThe crime starts as a missing person and soon turns into a murder that needs to be solved with the conspiracies about who could have committed the murder.

SettingsThe settings show us the town next to a military base and how it operates, it keeps everything simple which is what the story calls for.


Scene of the Movie –
Final piece of the puzzle.

That Moment That Annoyed Me I didn’t get annoyed by a single moment of this film.

Final ThoughtsThis is an amazing crime mystery thriller, it keeps the pace perfect to not give too much away and tackles the idea of the modern horrors of war.

 

Overall: Must watch for crime mystery thriller.

Rating

 

 

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Speed 2: Cruise Control (1997)

Director: Jan de Bont

Writer: Randall McCormick, Jeff Nathanson (Screenplay) Jan de Bont, Randall McCormick (Story)

Starring: Sandra Bullock, Jason Patric, Willem Dafoe, Temuera Morrison, Brian McCardie, Christine Firkins

 

Plot: A computer hacker breaks into the computer system of the Seabourn Legend cruise liner and sets it speeding on a collision course into a gigantic oil tanker.


Tagline – Rush hour hits the water.

Runtime: 2 Hours 1 Minute

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Passable Action Film

 

Story: Speed 2: Cruise Control starts as we meet Annie (Bullock) still trying to get her driving licence back, long past dating Jack (Because Keanu was smart enough not to come back) and has moved onto what she thinks is a quiet cop role of Alex Shaw (Patric) who is actually a SWAT officer too.

To break the tension, Alex takes Annie on a cruise, which happens to have John Geiger (Dafoe) onboard that has his own plans for the cruise. As John takes over the boat, he plans to evacuate the passengers which will leave him the ship, but Alex will get to the bottom of this and try to save the day.

 

Thoughts on Speed 2: Cruise Control

 

Characters – Annie is back, she still can’t drive and now she has fallen for another risk-taking cop in Alex, this is a character that strangely feels iconic for the genre, while not being bad character or being weak, she doesn’t do much over than panic. Alex is the risk-taking cop, this sounds familiar doesn’t it? He will do anything to save the day. John Geiger is the villain of the piece, he has made his plan and wants to operate through his plan, though he didn’t plan for Alex. Strangely he never plans to kill anyone.

PerformancesSandra Bullock is fine in her role here, she works for these films. Jason Patric just lacks the charisma Keanu had in the first one which doesn’t make you care about his character. Willem Dafoe is one of the most reliable villains in Hollywood, it is strange that he is good, but the character is largely forgettable.

StoryThe story is just like the first Speed, it has a criminal that takes a vehicle with the promise to kill everyone if demands aren’t met. This is the old tried and tested formula without being overly impressive and never reaches the levels of the first film. it does everything it needs to do while being easy to watch from start to finish.

Action/Crime/RomanceThe action sequences for the most part are entertaining even if they are overly long at times, like the sequence crashing into the island, just seems to go on and on. The romance involved is just more of the same mostly tagged on too.

SettingsThe film being set on the bottle, tries to do something different, but it just lacks the tension the first one has.

Special EffectsThe effects for the most part are terrible and even in places laughable.


Scene of the Movie –
While long the boat crashing into the harbour is fun watch.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The random dog sequence.

Final ThoughtsThis is a film that gets a lot of bashing, it does everything it needs to for an action film, that just isn’t on the same level as the first film.

 

Overall: Sequel that works well enough.

Rating

 

 

Gangster Land (2017)

Director: Timothy Woodward Jr

Writer: Ian Patrick Williams (Screenplay)

Starring: Sean Faris, Milo Gibson, Jason Patric, Jamie-Lynn Sigler, Peter Facinelli, Mark Rolston, Michael Pare, Sean Kanan

 

Plot: The story of America’s most famous mobsters and their rise to power, GANGSTER LAND examines Al Capone’s ascension through the eyes of his second in command, “Machine Gun” Jack McGurn. Once an amateur boxer, McGurn is lured into the Italian mafia after the murder of his step-father. Upon joining, he rises swiftly through the ranks along with friend and eventual Boss, Capone. As the Italian mob becomes the most lucrative criminal organization in the country, tensions build with “Bugs” Moran and the Irish mob which ignites a brutal gang war culminating with the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.


Runtime: 1 Hour 27 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Enjoyable Gangster Lesson

 

Story: Gangster Land starts in prohibition era America, Chicago, where amateur box Jack McGurn (Faris) is trying to find a way to make extra money, Al Capone (Gibson) see potential in making him part of the Italian Mafia in the on-going war with the Irish.

When the peace is well and truly shattered the bosses are targeted leaving Al Capone to rise to power in the Mafia where he recruits Jack McGurn to be his second in power, the problem is the bloodshed is increasing on a seemingly daily basis and George ‘Bugs’ Moran (Facinelli) isn’t losing his Irish Mafia without a fight.

 

Thoughts on Gangster Land

 

Characters – Jack McGurn is an amateur boxer that after his father is gunned down by the Irish mob joins the Italian Mafia as Al Capone’s righthand man gaining the reputation and nickname of ‘Machine Gun’ as it becomes his weapon of choice while gunning down the Irish. Al Capone is a name we have all heard before, an icon in the Mafia history, here we follow how he got placed in the position of head of the Chicago branch waging war against the Irish. Detective Reed is one of the few honest cops shown in the film, he knows the problems but not how to solve them. Lulu is the dancer Jack falls for, she becomes the beacon of light for Jack even after she isn’t interested just because of the suit Jack was wearing. George ‘Bugs’ Moran rises to power in the Irish Mob, he has a short temper which leads to him going after Jack and Al.

PerformancesSean Faris takes the leading role in this film and he is great as he keeps our attention with every decision his character makes. Milo Gibson gets to step into the iconic gangster role where he must compete with many actors to have played the role, he is good in this role never looking out of place. The rest of the cast give good performances through the film.

StoryThe story follows how the events of the St Valentine’s Day Massacre came about with the rise of Machine Fun Jack McGurn and Al Capone in the Mafia. We have nearly all heard of the story of Al Capone or at least heard the name, so watching how he had early days in the mafia with his righthand man McGurn rise to power is interesting and the story doesn’t fall into the mindless over the top gangster traits. As I do struggle through gangster films as time, I did find myself enjoying how this one unfolded, the storytelling process makes each scene feel like you want to see more.

CrimeThe crime side of the film comes from the world we are entering, showing us just how the gangs were acting towards each other.

SettingsThe film is set in Chicago in the 1920s, I feel the whole film does feel authentic for the time we are watching unfold.


Scene of the Movie –
Machine Gun’s Plan.

That Moment That Annoyed Me I would have liked more facts about what happened.

Final ThoughtsThis is a gangster film that shows you can make the calm ones that show historical events, it has the beginning of Al Capone and his righthand man as well as showing how the St Valentine’s Day Massacre unfolded, this is something both interesting and compelling to see.

 

Overall: Stylish gangster movie.

Rating