Kevin Costner Weekend – Thirteen Days (2000) Movie Review

Director: Roger Donaldson

Writer: David Self (Screenplay) Ernest R May, Philip D Zelikow (Book)

Starring: Kevin Costner, Bruce Greenwood, Steven Culp, Stephanie Romanov, Lucinda Jenney, Frank Wood, Henry Strozier, Kevin Conway

Plot: In October 1962, the Kennedy administration struggles to contain the Cuban Missile Crisis.


Tagline – You’ll Never Believe How Close We Came

Runtime: 2 Hours 25 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: History Lesson

Story: Thirteen Days starts like a normal day in the Kennedy administration, his assistant Kenny O’Donnell (Costner) joins the President John F Kennedy (Greenwood), his brother Robert F Kennedy (Culp) and advisers from every side for an emergency meeting.

The meeting is called to discuss the appearance of nuclear warheads in Cuba, believing Russia are moving to a closer position which could destroy large parts of America in minutes. What follows in Kenny trying to help JFK make the smartest decision, despite how many different people are advising with multiply options, all leading to one of the most intense stand offs in military history.

Thoughts on Thirteen Days

Characters – Kenny O’Donnell is the assistant advisor to the President, he gives him advice which would see him make decisions which would support the image of the President and the country instead of agree with the fast track answers which would see America go to war, he is the man that people turn to if they are not prepared to challenge the President’s decisions. President John F Kennedy is the man in the middle of the situation, the man that needs to make the final decision after taking on all the advice from his experts, he wants to remain in control of the situation to the best of his ability. Robert F Kennedy is one of the men advising his brother, he knows how John thinks and knows how the help him make the right decisions to remain calm and in control. We do have plenty of different advisors who are trying to offer a plan to what could make this stand off end quicker.

PerformancesKevin Costner is always entertaining to watch in a political movie, this is no different as he plays the pivot to everything going on. Bruce Greenwood as the President is great to watch through the film, with the whole cast looking like they would have been the people they are playing.

StoryThe story here follows the events around the Cuba Mission Crisis, from the point of view of the Americans. This does break down to be a political thriller that does keep us on edge as we see all the potential ideas that were thrown out which could have seen the world in a different place if different outcomes had been used, while this is a 2 hour story, we only focus on the different ideas, which is interesting to see. Each person could have their own agenda which could show the mindset of the public during the events. We could have more intense moments, but it just doesn’t really do that much more, which doesn’t display just how dangerous the event could have been.

HistoryThis is a big historical moment and it does show how the people in power were put on panic station when the events started to unfold.

SettingsThe film uses the political settings for the most part, which does show us just how the people stayed together through the events of the crisis.


Scene of the Movie – Putting the Admiral in his place.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – We could have had more intense sequences.

Final Thoughts This is an interesting look at one of the biggest stand offs in modern history, we do see how it could have gone very differently and how everything unfolded.

Overall: Interesting look at history.

Kevin Costner Weekend – McFarland (2015)

Director: Niki Caro

Writer: Christopher Cleverland, Bettina Gilois, Grant Thompson (Screenplay) Christopher Cleverland, Bettina Gilois (Story)

Starring: Kevin Costner, Ramiro Rodriguez, Carlos Pratts, Johnny Ortiz, Rafael Martinez, Hector Duran, Sergio Avelar

 

Plot: Jim White moves his family after losing his last job as a football coach. He sees that some of the students are worth starting a cross-country team and turns seven students with no hope into one of the best cross-country teams.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Great Sports Drama

 

Story: McFarland starts as high school football coach Jim White (Costner) goes too far trying to motivate his team, which leads him to lose his job, needing find a new job, Jim relocates with his family wife Cheryl (Bello) and kids to McFarland a small town populated with mostly Mexican families.

Moving to this town opens Jim’s eyes to a potential cross-country team to help the children with little hope of a big future to aim for something, he takes Thomas Valles (Pratts) the fastest, Danny Diaz (Rodriguez) the slowest, Jose (Ortiz), David (Martinez), Johnny (Duran) and Victor (Avelar) and attempts to make them a champion cross-country team.

 

Thoughts on McFarland

 

Characters – Coach Jim White is a fallen man having lost his temper with an over privileged team not performing, needing to redeem himself he moves his family to the only place that would give him a chance McFarland a mostly Mexican neighbourhood. Here we see Jim believe he can turn 7 kids into a champion cross-country team using his ability to learn the new culture and give the kids hope they never thought they would get. Thomas is the star of the team, he has natural speed, but he has not been given too much hope with his future after school, he now gets a chance that could bring him a college dream he could never even consider. Danny is the slowest member of the team but he never gives up showing improvement on every single run.

PerformanceKevin Costner shows us here that he does still have it and most of all can handle being the mentor figure for the young actors. The young actors playing the runners all give great performances show us just how anyone could be given a chance to be the next big thing. Maria Bello is potentially the weakest of the main performers but we don’t get too much for her to do.

StoryThe story of one coach needing to get redemption for his actions is one idea we have seen before. It works here and mixing it with entering into a neighbourhood that has been given no hope of a future until they are shown a new way out of the town. This is based on a true story which shows how real people’s actions were important for this community. This shows how people working together can achieve any dreams.

Biopic/SportsThe real people are show in this movie should be used as inspiration for anyone who has dreams and it helps show people can make them happen. The running is chopped together to be fine but isn’t the most engaging part of the film.

SettingsThe small-town setting shows how difficult life would be for this families living here, it also shows just how together the neighbourhood is when supporting any success that could come their way.

Scene of the Movie – Bridge talk.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Due to not knowing Spanish I didn’t understand slight words other people would.

Final ThoughtsThis is a fantastic look at how one man changed the hopes for a small town, it shows how every kid should be given a chance to prove themselves for a future and gives us a true story that could inspire.

 

Overall: Enjoyable, Inspirational story.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Biopic – D – Wyatt Earp (1994)

This is fitting in with the D for ABC Film Challenge because of the involvement of Doc Holliday.

 

Director: Lawrence Kasdan

Writer: Dan Gordon, Lawrence Kasdan (Screenplay)

Starring: Kevin Costner, Dennis Quaid, Gene Hackman, David Andrews, Linden Ashby, Jeff Fahey, Joanne Going, Mark Harmon, Bill Pullman, Tom Sizemore

 

Plot: The story of Wyatt Earp as he interacts and battles other famous figures of the Wild West era.


Tagline – The epic story of love and adventure in a lawless land.

Runtime: 3 Hours 11 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Epic Biopic

 

Story: Wyatt Earp starts as we meet young Wyatt who has been growing up in the shadow of his father Nicolas Earp (Hackman), he has been to war and doesn’t want his children to follow in his footsteps. Wyatt grows up to becomes a well-respected young man who wants to become a constable while finishing his education.

When his life is shattered after his wife dies of illness, Wyatt falls into the drink nearly losing his life in the process, saved, reformed, Wyatt becomes one of the most feared lawman in the land cleaning up the city of Dodge before meeting Doc Holliday (Quaid) as they look to take over the town of Tombstone.

 

Thoughts on Wyatt Earp

 

Characters – Wyatt Earp is one of the most iconic names in western history, we get to see how he went from lawman educating himself, to drunken mess, to skinner, feared lawman that most outlaws were scared off. His thinking was before the time of the wild west which showed with how he handled bringing down confrontation at the quickest possible chance. Doc Holliday is another lawman, he is dying which has made him disliked within his field with only Wyatt working with him. Nicolas Earp is the father of Wyatt who has shown him how to live his own life, he puts Wyatt back on his right path when he needs him most. We get to meet plenty of characters along the way here, be it the brothers of Wyatt, the men he takes under his wing, the wives and the outlaws causing the problems in the towns.

PerformancesKevin Costner is brilliant in the leading role, he had the epic long films down in the 90s, this shows just how he could pull of these films with ease. Dennis Quaid is great to watch to bring us a character that is larger than life. Gene Hackman might only have a small role, but he makes a big impact. We do have a wonderful cast that is filled with big name actors, everyone is great too.

StoryThe story here follows the life of Wyatt Earp as he rose up to become one of the most feared lawman in western history. We get 3 hours to learn the ups and downs he faced in life, from trying to become an educated man, to grieving man, to fearsome strict lawman. We see how he made friends and enemies along the way, how his methods were before the time with the no guns allowed in the towns and how he would shoot first. This is a story on epic level because of the scale of the years being followed and even at the 3-hour runtime, it doesn’t seem to get bogged down in anyway.

Adventure/Biopic/WesternThe adventure side of the film shows us just how Wyatt would travel to make a change in the towns he stepped into. We do follow Wyatt from childhood, to his time in Tombstone which will see him do things other lawmen couldn’t get done. For westerns this is easily one of the best you will see in the modern era, making you feel like you are part of the towns involved in the film.

SettingsThe film is set out in the wild west, with Dodge and Tombstone being the two main settings, they do show use the increased scale between the two and how they can become overrun by outlaws.


Scene of the Movie –
Tombstone shoot out.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It does have too many characters at times it is hard to remember who is who.

Final ThoughtsThis is an epic scaled western with great performances throughout, it does tell the life and times of one of the most famous lawmen and keeps the enormous length feeling like it is flying by.

 

Overall: Epically long western.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Action – C – Criminal (2016)

Director: Ariel Vromen

Writer: Douglas Cook, David Weisberg (Screenplay)

Starring: Kevin Costner, Gary Oldman, Tommy Lee Jones, Ryan Reynolds, Jordi Molla, Gal Gadot, Michael Pitt, Amaury Nolasco, Alice Eve

 

Plot: In a last-ditch effort to stop a diabolical plot, a dead CIA operative’s memories, secrets, and skills are implanted into a death-row inmate in hopes that he will complete the operative’s mission.


Tagline –  Take me to the Dutchman.

Runtime: 1 Hour 53 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Slow Moving Action Thriller

 

Story: Criminal starts when CIA agent Bill Pope (Reynolds) is working on bringing The Dutchman (Pitt) to America in exchange for closing the wormhole on the dark web that he has created, the problem is Xavier Heimdahl (Molla) also wants the Dutchman and kills Bill before getting the answers.

Turning to Dr Franks (Jones) for an experimental memory transfer Quaker Wells (Oldman) the head of the CIA operation uses death-row inmate Jerico Stewart (Costner) to learn where the vital information is, but letting a killer lose becomes harder to control than believed.

 

Thoughts on Criminal

 

Characters – Jerico Stewart is the dangerous death-row inmate, we don’t learn what he has done, but anyone that crosses him usually ends up in a body bag. He is forced into receiving Bill’s memories in a hope that he can save a major release of secure information, he doesn’t want to work with the CIA and is happier to operate in his own means. Quaker Wells is running the CIA operation which goes wrong, he will go at any lengths to get the answers he needs to stop the information leak, company man who does go too far. Dr Franks has been working on transferring memories for 18 years, this is his first human attempt which shows how he wants to help with the new memories. Important to the story but lacking the impact he should have on the story. Bill Pope is the family man and CIA agent, it is his memories which hold the answers after he is killed. Xavier Heimdahl wants to bring an end to governments across the world, he will go public with his speeches while also having his darker side coming out when getting what he wants.

PerformancesKevin Coster is in the middle of his recovery/mid-life crisis roles in action movies, he knows how to make his performance work keeping everything entertaining throughout. Gary Oldman as a company man CIA agent, well this always works as he never needs o do anything challenging. Tommy Lee Jones likewise does what he needs to without bringing anything unique to the role. Reynolds is hard to judge because of the smaller part in the film. Jordi Molla does make a good villain showing the calmness needed for the character to feel calculated. Gal Gadot is solid in her supporting role without needing to do much.

StoryThe story gives us the idea that vital information is about to be leaked by a hacker if he doesn’t get a passport and immunity, but things go wrong when the agent with the connection is killed. The experimental idea of transferring memories is put in motion as the candidate doesn’t follow orders the way they had hoped and different agencies from around the globe want the information. This plays out like an action film, but in reality it should have been a tense thriller with the characters we have here. It is an easy to watch and enjoy even if the premise does seem wildly over the top for a simpler idea.

Action/Crime/Mystery/Sci-FiWhen we look at the themes being used action gives us the shoot out we have seen before with a couple of car chases, nothing overly memorable though. The crime world we are placed into shows how the CIA are trying to protect the world from a new threat in London, it seems weird the British intelligence agency are not involved in this. The mystery in this film doesn’t work too well as the only thing needing to be solved is where the package was left. The sci-fi side of the film does come from the idea of transferring the memories, it is only used here though.

SettingsThe film is set in London and the surrounding area, it does feel weird that an American operation happens in England though.

Special EffectsThe effects are used well when needed without being over used for the action scenes.


Scene of the Movie –
Ambulance chase.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It does have a tonal problem with the action and thriller side of things.

Final ThoughtsThis is a solid easy to watch action thriller that doesn’t test the audience too much, throws in a wild sci-fi idea and big-name actors hoping it will be a classic.

 

Overall: Easy to watch.

Rating

 

 

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.

Rating