The Highwaymen (2019)

Director: John Lee Hancock

Writer: John Fusco (Screenplay)

Starring: Kevin Costner, Woody Harrelson, Kim Dickens, Emily Brobst, Kathy Bates, W Earl Brown, John Carroll Lynch


Plot: A pair of police officers come out of retirement to catch the infamous outlaws Bonnie & Clyde.

Tagline – This March, there are no High Roads.

Runtime: 2 Hours 12 Minutes


There may be spoilers in the rest of the review


Verdict: Nice Crime Hunt


Story: The Highwaymen starts with Bonnie and Clyde’s spree going on for two-years, Governor Ferguson (Bates) is running out of options as the two have become celebrities because of their action. Facing little options Lee Simmons suggests turning to two former Texas Rangers Frank Hamer (Costner) and Maney Gault (Harrelson) to track down and end the spree.

With Frank having no other choice after more law enforcement officers are killed, he turns to Maney who has been struggling in the afterlife of being a ranger, he has different beliefs to Frank, which will see them needing to figure out how to eliminate the threat with the honour they are used to acting in, can they stop the murderous pair and their gang.


Thoughts on The Highwaymen


Characters – Frank Hamer is a legendary Texas Ranger, force into retirement with new laws in place, but landing on his feet, he gets turned to for help hunt down Bonnie & Clyde, he must accept that he would be going against what he used to do, return to killing, but most importantly turn to a former partner. Maney Gault is one of the best partners that Frank hand, the force retirement was harder on him with drink being he solution, he is the last resort on skill level, but the first one Frank turns too, he does have standards on how he beliefs on how he handles killing, only once shot upon, he becomes a kind of mentor for a young officer on the hunt. Ma Ferguson is the governor that recruits Frank and Maney to hunt down Bonnie & Clyde, she is reluctant at first wanting to follow more legal causes. Lee Simmons is the one suggesting that the Texan Rangers to help capture them, he puts his neck on the line for it.

PerformancesKevin Costner and Woody Harrelson are two of the best actors in the business, they can play any of these law men with ease and they make each their own with ease. The two are front and centre for most of the film, the supporting cast are solid enough without struggling.

StoryThe story follows the two Texas Rangers that hunted down Bonnie & Clyde who were on the killing spree over. The highlight of the story comes from following the law enforcement instead of the criminals, we should do this more often with the people that hunt down the criminals and not make the criminals to idols of the story. this is mostly just the two reflecting on their careers, what they did before retirement, what they might need to do once they catch up to the criminals. It does pace well enough, we don’t over focus on the crimes, only the reaction to them.

Crime/MysteryThe crime side of the film is the hunting down of Bonnie & Clyde, we see how the Texas Rangers track down the criminals. The mystery in the film comes from just how the hunting down was being done.

SettingsEach setting takes us around the open roads in the American where the criminals would have been operating in.

Scene of the Movie –
Costner & Harrelson reflect on one of their biggest mission.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Why were Bonnie & Clyde idolised?

Final ThoughtsInteresting look at one of the biggest take downs of criminals in American history, we have strong leading performances and don’t focus on the criminals.


Overall: Smart way to study a big case.





Crime Thriller Weekend – Zodiac (2007)

Director: David Fincher

Writer: James Vanderbilt (Screenplay) Robert Graysmith (Book)

Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey Jr, Mark Ruffalo, Anthony Edwards, Brian Cox, John Carroll Lynch


Plot: In the late 1960s/early 1970s, a San Francisco cartoonist becomes an amateur detective obsessed with tracking down the Zodiac Killer, an unidentified individual who terrorizes Northern California with a killing spree.

Tagline – There’s more than one way to lose your life to a killer

Runtime: 2 Hours 37 Minutes


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Great But Too Long of a Thriller


Story: Zodiac starts as the infamous Zodiac killer strikes in San Francisco before demanding his code be printed in the newspaper, the Chronicle, where Paul Avery (Downey Jr) is getting the letters and works with cartoonist Robert Graysmith (Gyllenhaal) who has a knack for cracking codes. As the body count continues to grow Inspector David Toschi (Ruffalo) and Inspector William Armstrong (Edwards) investigate the crimes as the people of San Francisco start to panic throughout the spree.

With time passing by Avery uses the press the play with the Zodiac, making David’s job difficult as it draws out all the people who want to be known as the Zodiac, while Robert becomes obsessed with cracking the codes being left in letters and solving the case.


Thoughts on Zodiac


Characters – When looking at the characters you must remember these are based on real people, Robert Graysmith is a cartoonist working for the Chronicle newspaper that becomes obsessed with cracking the Zodiac codes while working with writer Paul Avery. Paul Avery is the writer at the Chronicle that is receiving the letters from the Zodiac killer, he is willing to take a risk to get the story and potentially making himself famous. Inspector David Toschi is the lead investigator working on the Zodiac case, he must overcome derestriction nightmares while tracking any clues, suspects or letters that come his way.

PerformancesJake Gyllenhaal is brilliant in this leading role showing how a man out of his field can become a conspiracy driven man. Mark Ruffalo shows here that he will always be a shining light in an ensembled cast. Robert Downey Jr was always skilled enough to be a great character actor and this one started to show he could return to the top of the industry. The supporting cast through the film are also great with their roles.

StoryThe mystery of the Zodiac killer is one of the most famous unsolved serial killings in history. Most of the film follows Robert’s spiral into conspiracy theorist that is searching for the Zodiac killer, which does work and become the most interesting part of the film. the problem I am facing looking at this movie is that the first half seems to mix who the main character is trying to solve the case while the enjoyable part is all Robert and of course we don’t know the complete truth on these murders either.

Crime/Mystery/ThrillerThe crime is one of the most famous in modern history, one that is unsolved which does play into the mystery side to everything we are watching too.

SettingsThe timelines we follow give us authentic settings for everything as the film does span over two decades.

Scene of the Movie –
Robert’s face to face with a potential suspect.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The film itself is too long.

Budget: $65 Million

Final ThoughtsThis is an interesting look at one of the most interesting unsolved murder mysteries, it gives us a detailed look at three main men involved in investigating the crime all with different motives from different backgrounds.


Overall: Detailed but overly long look at the Zodiac case.




The Founder (2016)

founderDirector: John Lee Hancock

Writer: Robert Siegel (Screenplay)

Starring: Michael Keaton, Nick Offerman, John Carroll Lynch, Linda Cardellini, B.J. Novak, Laura Dern, Patrick Wilson


Plot: The story of Ray Kroc, a salesman who turned two brothers’ innovative fast food eatery, McDonald’s, into one of the biggest restaurant businesses in the world with a combination of ambition, persistence, and ruthlessness.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: McDonalds Advert


Story: The Founder starts in 1954 as milkshake machine salesman Ray Kroc (Keaton) is performing his sales pitch around the diner scene. His luck is about to change when Dick (Offerman) and Mac (Lynch) the McDonald brothers order eight machines which grabs Ray’s attention as he visits to hear the story of the first ever McDonald’s and how the service revolutionary idea behind 30 seconds’ food service.

Seeing the operation Ray wants to franchise the idea against the brother’s wishes. When Ray finally gets his way he makes McDonalds the fastest growing business in America but the backlash falls when the brother’s want their share of the business they created leading to a law case getting everything messy between the two sides.


Thoughts on The Founder


StoryThis is an interesting story of where McDonalds came from which is fine but my issue is the lack of a real-time scale of the events, I also didn’t like how the end credits show certain important elements of the story which barely get touched on in the film. in the end the story is just another story about a ruthless business man who took advantage of the real brains behind the idea.

Biography/HistoryThis is a good look back at how McDonald’s is founded and it shows part of the history where a business man took advantage of the real workers.

Characters/PerformanceThe characters are all based on real people with Ray Kroc coming off as the ruthless businessman who just doesn’t give up, while thee brother’s being portrayed as the suckers who wouldn’t believe his business mind. The rest of the characters are all only bit parts in the film with them only being part of Ray’s life.

Performance wise Keaton does shine with Offerman and Lynch both being great as brother’s, it is hard to say a bad thing about any of the performances in this film.

SettingsThe settings used all reflect the time the film is set in, with the iconic McDonald’s logo being the most iconic moment in this film.

Final ThoughtsThis is could easily have been just a documentary that would have been a lot more interesting as an all-round story.


Overall: We have seen this before and in the end it brings very little new.




Hesher (2010)

Director: Spencer Susser

Writer: Spencer Susser, David Michod (Screenplay) Brian Charles Frank (Story)

Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Davin Brochu, Rainn Wilson, Piper Laurie, Natalie Portman, Brendan Hill, John Carroll Lynch

Story: A young boy T.J. (Brochu) has to start dealing with life after his mother’s death. T.J’s father Paul (Wilson) spends most days in mourning and doesn’t offer up any chance to communicate with T.J. His Grandma (Laurie) has opened her house to the two of them and is trying to help hold things together but T.J. doesn’t offer the time for her.

While on the way to school T.J. has a chance meeting with Hesher (Gordon-Levitt), Hesher is a foul-mouthed tramp like figure that decides to move in to the house uninvited. T.J. is being bullied by Dustin (Hill) and after Hesher provokes Dustin he chases after T.J. who is saved by Nicole (Portman). With all this going on can T.J. come to terms with the loss of his mother?


Story: This very touching drama following a grieving boy who meets different types of people with different struggles in their own lives. Each character has different ways to deal with situation and while the drama unfolds. As the story continues the drama intensifies. This might not be the highest level of commercial side for story but if you want to watch a well-constructed story this one great story. (9/10)

Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Hesher the foul-mouthed rebel who guides T.J. with certain methods that could offer many questions. He comes of as an anti role model but slowly turns into alternative guardian angel. Joseph Gordon-Levitt continues his remarkable performances on the indie films following brilliant performances in Mysterious Skin, Brick and The Lookout. I would have Gone with Star Performance But there is one better than his in the film, but still another excellent performance. (9/10)

Davin Brochu as T.JFrom the opening sequence of him following the wrecked car being towed away on his bike even getting knocked off he just keeps going after the car until he gets in and sits and starts the tears rolling down his face., you knew this was going to be a special performance. Starting off as a quiet wimpy kid who is bullied he breaks out of his box as the film continues. This is a very special performance that will hopefully lead the young actor to bigger things in what looks like a bright futureStar Performance, Favourite Character  (10/10)

Rainn Wilson as Paul Spends most of his time sat on the sofa watching television just mourning in his own way with pills, ignoring his son and unaware of the changes in his life. Rainn Wilson is usually known for his comedy role but this drama one is very good with a bit less scene time than his character really need to fully shine it is still a wonderful performance. (8/10)

Natalie Portman as Nicole works at a local shop for minimum wage and hours but after she sees T.J. in need of help she does the right thing. She starts to become a love interest of T.J. just a schoolboy crush. She is very lonely struggling to make ends meet and sees a chance of friendship with someone else who is in pain with T.J. Natalie Portman pull of a very average feel character with great effect so much so that you hardly notice it is her, great supporting performance (8/10)

Piper Laurie as Grandma, she lets T.J. and Paul move into her home after the death of Paul’s wife. All she wants in for one of them to go for a walk with her, but neither are willing too. Hesher befriends her and she starts playing almost like a surrogate grandmother to Hesher. She is pivotal to how T.J. and Paul come to terms with what has happened in their life. (9/10)

Director: Spencer Susser following a series of short films this is his feature film debut and nominated for the Sundance Grand Jury Prize is good for anyone record. What he creates here is very well constructed film that looks like it was going to follow one simple path just with one thing Hesher different from your traditional film. With this great debut I will be looking forward to seeing more work from this director and hope he can live up to these high standards. (9/10)

Drama: Having everything a top drama should have, with full emotional levels played out with all the characters. A story filled with characters with flaws giving them a more human touch as dramas go this was one that should have been given more of a chance in cinemas. Each scene towards the end seems to leave you with almost tears in the eyes some of sadness others of happiness. (9/10)

Music: The use of music in the background is very good and all the songs are suited perfectly to what is happening on scene. Add in to the rock music for Hesher first entrance and Exit. (9/10)

Cinematography: Good use of camera angles without really doing anything to stand out as extra special but nothing that doesn’t work great job done by all involved. (8/10)

Suggestion: If someone was to come up and ask me for a good drama to watch this would have to be near the top of the list, but I feel it may be a bit too serious for a more casual viewer to really enjoy.

Best Part: When T.J. sneaks into the junkyard to find the car that was involved in the accident and we find out what happened on that day.

Worst Part: I think a little bit more work on getting Rainn Wilson and Natalie Portman some more scene time would have completed the film.

Favourite Quote: ‘Life is like walking in the rain, You can hide and take cover or you can just get wet’

Overall: Very good emotional drama well worth a watch

Rating 91%

Gothika (2003)

Director: Mathieu Kassovitz

Writer: Sebastian Gutierrez

Starring: Halle Berry, Robert Downey Jr, Charles S. Dutton, John Carroll Lynch, Bernard Hill, Penelope Cruz


Story Dr Miranda Grey (Berry) is a well respect psychologists at a asylum, but on a detoured trip home on a stormy night she sees a woman in the middle of the road, she approaches the woman and the next thing she remembers is being in the very asylum she works only as a patient now.


Miranda is accused of murdering her husband and fellow Doctor Douglas Grey (Dutton). She has no memory of the night and only two people to communicate with a fellow patient Chloe (Cruz) and old work colleague Dr Pete Graham (Downey).


Still being haunted by a mysterious woman is she trying to communicate with Miranda; can Miranda uncover the truth before it’s too late?


Verdict This horror thriller mystery is a good addition to the genre without being one of the best, it follows the basic horror thriller rules very well with predictable jumps and twists. The three big names never really shine to the level we all know they can. This is well worth a watch if you like the genre.

Story Mark 7/10 Tried and tested formula works well

Horror Mark 7/10 Simple scares never really scary though

Favourite Character None of the characters are really that likable

Poor Performance I’m not going to say poor but I would say I would have liked more from Berry and Downey Jr.

Best Part The reveal flashback to the night is good

Worst Part  Clear twist you can see from a mile away

Best Quote Chloe ‘You can’t trust someone who thinks your crazy’

Similar Too – The Ring, The Grudge

My Rating  67%