ABC Film Challenge – Action – I – In a Valley of Violence (2016)

Director: Ti West

Writer: Ti West (Screenplay)

Starring: Ethan Hawke, John Travolta, Taissa Farmiga, James Ransone, Karen Gillan, Toby Huss

 

Plot: A mysterious stranger and a random act of violence drag a town of misfits and nitwits into the bloody crosshairs of revenge.


Tagline – Keep Your Finger on the Trigger

Runtime: 1 Hour 44 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: John Wick the Western

 

Story: In a Valley of Violence starts when lone drifter Paul (Hawke) rides into a remote town with his trusty dog Abby, trying to keep to himself he gets the town drunk Gilly (Ransone) gets involved in a fight, which Paul wins with one punch. This grabs the attention of the Marshal (Travolta) and father of Gilly, who gives him a chance to walk away no questions asked, no more trouble.

When Gilly and his men comes for Paul in the dead of night, they leave him with nothing and now he swears to break his promise of no more killing, one last time.

 

Thoughts on In a Valley of Violence

 

Characters – Paul is the former soldier, he has lost everything while in battle and is heading to Mexico with his horse and dog. When this is taken from him, this former soldier will go on to show his skills by tracking down the men in an act of revenge. Marshal is trying to keep the peace in the town even after his son’s actions, he gets caught in the middle of follow the law and protecting his son. Mary-Anne is one of two sisters in this town, she is one of the few people in town that is vocal of her dislike to Gilly and offers Paul a reminder of his own daughter.

PerformancesEthan Hawke is wonderful in this leading role, he gives us a performance we can believe as the lone drifter with skills that can leave any town running red. John Travolta is strong in his scenes which are seem rare but are a major part of the film. Taissa Farmiga is good even if her character doesn’t get enough to do out of the typical girl in the west.

StoryThe story does bottle down to a simple revenge movie, think John Wick the western and you have the story set up. We have the lone trained killer that takes out the people that have don him wrong. This is a simple and enjoyable style of storytelling, the pace makes the film fly by and will leave you wanting more.

Action/Crime/WesternThe gun slinging action is all good and fits the western style the film is taking on, we get a simple crime story which works for the film.

SettingsThe film takes place in just one singular location in this remote town in the wild west which keeps things contained for the story.

Special EffectsThe effects are used with the kills and are done nicely without being over the top.


Scene of the Movie –
The main street shoot out.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The women characters are written bland.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good, blood filled action western film that is well worth watching, this is a good watch and has a strong performance from Hawke.

 

Overall: Good addition to the western genre.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Crime – I – I Am Wrath (2016)

Director: Chuck Russell

Writer: Paul Sloan (Screenplay) Yvan Gauthier (Story)

Starring: John Travolta, Christopher Meloni, Amanda Schull, Sam Trammell, Patrick St. Esprit, Rebecca De Mornay

 

Plot: A man is out for justice after a group of corrupt police officers are unable to catch his wife’s killer.


Tagline – I lay my vengeance upon them.

Runtime: 1 Hour 32 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Old Man Action 101

 

Story: I Am Wrath starts as we learn the war on crime was getting out of hand, but the Governor has started winning against the gangs. Stanley (Travolta) returns home after a business trip meeting his wife Vivian (De Mornay) where the two are attack with Vivian murdered.

With the police not getting the suspects, Stanley turns to a previous life working his former partner Dennis (Meloni) as a black-ops soldier that will stop at nothing to extract revenge on the people who murdered his wife.

 

Thoughts on I Am Wrath

 

Characters – Stanley is a mile-mannered businessman working in the car industry. When is wife is murdered in a senseless crime, he returns to a former life on a warpath with the gang involved as the cold-hearted killer. Dennis is the former partner of Stanley’s that still has the connections in the underworld, he helps Stanley in his revenge mission, he supplies the weapons and details of who were responsible. Abbie is the daughter of Stanley that tries to be there for her father while continue on her adult life. Detective Gibson is the lead on the case, he is forced to let the suspect go believing he will get himself killed soon enough.

PerformancesJohn Travolta is solid enough in this leading role, we do get to see a large number of 50+ year old actors going into this action films, he isn’t the best, but he isn’t the worst. Christopher Meloni plays the best character in the film and is easily the one you want to see more of in this film. Amanda Schull is fine in her role, we need a figure that isn’t involved in the action and she offers it. The rest of the cast bring us the targets for the most part and give us generic bad guy performances.

StoryThe story follows one man that goes to war on the gangs of his city to learn who killed his wife and get revenge. When it comes to the story this isn’t the most original, it is extremely watchable for a time killing hour and half, it doesn’t test the audience and doesn’t have any twists along the way. This is one of those stories that is mostly forgettable over bad and checks all the boxes needed to make the audience watch.

Action/CrimeThe action is filled with old man action style that Liam Neeson made famous, it works for the film with Meloni getting the best sequence. The crime throws us into the world where gangs are controlling the streets with drug sales going through the roof and one man doing anything to get revenge.

SettingsThe film takes us to a city overrun by crime and shows us how people can be forced into actions to get revenge for the lost loved one.


Scene of the Movie –
Dennis versus the thugs in the shop.

That Moment That Annoyed Me We have seen this before.

Final ThoughtsThis is a basic action film that will keep you entertained through the whole film without being anything overly original.

 

Overall: Easy to watch action film.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Action Movies – L – Ladder 49 (2004)

Director: Jay Russell

Writer: Lewis Colick (Screenplay)

Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, John Travolta, Jacinda Barrett, Robert Patrick, Morris Chestnut, Billy Burke

 

Plot: A firefighter, injured and trapped in a burning building, has flashbacks of his life as he drifts in and out of consciousness. Meanwhile, fellow firefighters led by the Chief attempt to rescue him.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Thought Provoking Action Thriller

 

Story: Ladder 49 starts as Jack Morrison (Phoenix) is performing a daring tower block fire rescue only for disaster to strike and Jack finds himself trapped inside the burning inferno. This causes Jack to have flack backs to his early firefighting days as a rookie in the 39th under Mike Kennedy (Travolta).

As Jack continues to fade between consciousness we learn about his personal life and how he met and married Linda (Barrett) as well as seeing just how his team became the unit through the good and bad events of being a firefighter, this will give him a chance to believe who could save him.

 

Thoughts on Ladder 49

 

Characters/PerformanceJack Morrison is the firefighter that gets trapped in the fire, we get to see his rise from rookie firefighter to one of the most respected in his team, get married and have children but through the events of the film we are left to wonder like himself whether he was right to stay in the force. Captain Mike Kennedy keeps his team united through the good times and the bad, he knows how to motivate them and how to let them celebrate, but he won’t leave a man behind. Linda is the wife of Jack that he meets on one of his first few days on the job, she is concerned after the first death in the squad. The rest of the unit are what you expect, the best friend, the wise one, the confrontational one you know the picture.

Performance wise, Joaquin Phoenix is great in the leading role showing he was ready to make the jump from supporting actor to leading man. Travolta shows that he can turn out good performances around the weaker ones people can slam him for. Jacinda Barrett is good but doesn’t get the full levels you would like to see from the supporting character. The cast all give us good performances throughout the film too.

StoryThe story is told as one man is looking back on his life wondering if he made the right decisions in his life when he becomes trapped during the latest fire he is fighting. This does show the stress firefighters would go through from either a good rescue or seeing a friend hurt or killed, dealing with personal life and the peril of going into a blaze with no true idea of what is waiting for them. I like how this is told because it shows how Jack got to where he is in his ranking within the unit.

Action/ThrillerThe action sequences are all different types of fires the crew must battle and they are all shot wonderfully to suck us into the story as we don’t know what will happen in each fire. This does help keep us on the edge of our seats at times but we know we don’t need to worry about Jack during the flack backs.

SettingsThe settings show us just how dangerous battling fires can be, how the men risk their lives and how they can be different on each occasion.

Special EffectsAll the effects are used to make the fires look as dangerous as they should be which is good to see throughout the film.

Final ThoughtsThis is a film that will make you respect the firefighters of the world even more because you get to see how much they are willing to risk to save people’s lives. It is shot very well with the only negative being knowing there is only one fire Jack is in any peril through.

 

Overall: One for all the action thriller fans out there.

Rating

 

 

John Travolta Weekend – The Forger (2014)

forgerDirector: Philip Martin

Writer: Richard D’Ovidio (Screenplay)

Starring: John Travolta, Christopher Plummer, Tye Sheridan, Abigail Spencer, Anson Mount, Marcus Thomas, Jennifer Ehle

 

Plot: A thief works with his father and son to forge a painting by Monet and steal the original. Together, they plan the heist of their lives.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Easy to Watch

 

Story: The Forger starts as Raymond Cutter (Travolta) puts together a deal to get out of prison early, returning to his father’s Joseph’s (Plummer) home who has been looking after his son Will (Sheridan). Raymond makes a deal with Keegan (Mount) to help him get out early but the deal is that Raymond must use his skills to forge a painting or he will put Raymond back in jail.

Raymond is also having to deal with the tragic story of his son’s cancer treatment explaining why he would risk everything to get out of jail early. Raymond must keep everything together as he works on the highly risky job but also trying to help his son fulfill his dying wishes.

 

Thoughts on The Forger

 

StoryThe story going on through this story is very interesting, I have only heard bad things about this film and I found the story between Raymond and Will touching as we see how Raymond knows what is coming to his own son and posing a question to us all, how much would we give up for the final weeks/months of our son’s life. The crime story while is key to his release is just in the way of what could be a very impressive story, but the two do end up working well in parallel to each other.

Crime/ThrillerThe crime thriller side of this film all feels very generic and if you look past that to the personal side of the story you will find this interesting but the crime story is just there really.

Characters/PerformanceThe three generations of Cutter family all make for good characters with each member giving a good performance but the crime characters all end up feeling like we have seen them all before with the plucky cop background only making it hard to judge the performance.

SettingsThe settings are all what you would call generic for the style of film without being anything special or iconic for any of the scenes.

Final ThoughtsThis is a film that I only ever heard bad things so going in I wasn’t expecting too much, but in the end I found myself enjoying the personal element of the film between the family but struggled to enjoy the crime side of the film.

 

Overall: Solid but forgettable movie about family.

Ratingcard

 

 

John Travolta Weekend – Blow Out (1981)

blowDirector: Brian De Palma

Writer: Brian De Palma (Screenplay)

Starring: John Travolta, Nancy Allen, John Lithgow, Dennis Franz, Peter Boyden, Curt May, John Aquino, John McMartin

 

Plot: A movie sound recordist accidentally records the evidence that proves that a car accident was actually murder and consequently finds himself in danger.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Great Horror Mystery Thriller

 

Story: Blow Out starts with Jack Terry (Travolta) a sound engineer that has been working on his latest film, a low budget horror film. While working on finding the latest sound effects Jack witnesses a car accident saving Sally (Allen) from drowning. Learning that the potential future President was killed in the accident Jack is ask to forget about saving the girl for the Governors family.

Learning this was no accident Jack sets out to prove he recorded the murder only to find himself and Sally in danger from the people responsible for the murder and cover up. Jack finds himself being tracked down by hitman Burke (Lithgow) who is out to clean up any loose ends with the cover up.

Blow Out is a conspiracy thriller that was showing just how easy it could have been to cover up a crime for the time it was made. We get a scandal that can ruin a Presidential campaign which is just the beginning of the story but when he is killed we get the next chapter as one man must prove this was no accident. The film is filled with tension from early on which drives us to want to see what will happen to our characters.

Travolta is great in the leading role show he was still at the top of his game in the early 80s, while Nancy Allen does well with what is a very weak female character written to be very naïve and not used to the world. John Lithgow is fabulous as this cold-hearted killer which we do get to see much later in his career with performance in Raising Cain and Dexter. The rest of the supporting cast ends up being very generic not making too much of an impact on the final film. This is easily one of the most underrated films of the 80s and can still be watched today as if it was a fresh release.

 

Overall: One of the most underrated films I have seen, tense from start to finish.

Ratingcard