ABC Film Challenge – Biopic – W – World Trade Center (2006)

Director: Oliver Stone

Writer: Andrew Berloff (Screenplay) John McLoughlin, Donna LcLoughlin, William Jimeno, Allison Jimeno (True Story)

Starring: Nicolas Cage, Michael Pena, Maria Bello, Jay Hernandez, Jon Bernthal, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon

 

Plot: Two Port Authority police officers become trapped under the rubble of the World Trade Center.


Tagline – A True Story Of Courage And Survival

Runtime: 2 Hour 9 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Powerful Drama

 

Story: World Trade Center starts like every other day for police officers John McLoughlin (Cage) who sets the assignments for his department which include Will Jimeno (Pena) and Dominick Pezzulo (Hernandez). Today is going to change their lives, today is September 11th the day the World Trade Centers Twin Twos get hit by the planes, while being part of the rescue team the crew find themselves trapped.

When the dust settles Will and John are the only ones still alive with their loved ones Donna McLoughlin (Bello) and Allison Jimeno (Gyllenhaal) waiting to hear if they were in the towers when they went down. The two must support each other in hope that they would get rescued as New York and America comes together to rescue their own.

 

Thoughts on World Trade Center

 

Characters – All the characters in this film are based on real people, we have real victims from 9/11 being portrayed. John McLoughlin is the experience police officer that leads his men into the Twin Towers in a rescue attempt, he is a father of four which is one of his greatest motivations to survive once he becomes trapped in the rubble. Will Jimeno is the fellow officer that becomes trapped with John, he is a parent too with a second on the way, he is injured but uses the company of John to stay awake. We do have the wives and loved ones and fellow officers that helped in the rescues to being portrayed here showing the heroes involved on those days.

PerformancesNicolas Cage shows in this role that he still was a brilliant performer along with Michael Pena stepped to a leading role. We have fantastic performances from the whole cast if we are being honest.

StoryThe events of this day shocked the world like no other events, the stories of the survivors being found was a race for hope for anyone who might have had someone in the towers. We do focus on just two officers that became trapped as they fought to survive while waiting for rescue. Watching how the rescuers worked to save people trapped, the family waiting helplessly for news on their families, add this together and you get a powerful drama that showed the heroics during that tragic event.

History/ThrillerThe events of this movie are one of the most if not the most famous terrorist attack in modern history, seeing how the two officers just had to rely on hope to survive shows us just how the country was bought together to find a people which does make this edge of your seat waiting to see if they make it or not.

SettingsJohn and Will are trapped for the most part of this movie, it shows how hopeless the situation looked for the men, outside we see the aftermath of the attack.

Special EffectsThe effects used in the movie are fantastic to show the horror of the moment the towers came crashing down on the people inside to the surviving in the rumble and re-creation of the devastation.


Scene of the Movie –
For the visual the collapse is shocking to watch.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It is still hard to watch because of the shock of the event.

Final ThoughtsThis is a powerful drama that shows how the city came together during the time of need.

 

Overall: This is a must watch but it is hard to re-live those moments.

Rating

 

 

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Viggo Mortensen Weekend – A History of Violence (2005)

Director: David Cronenberg

Writer: Josh Olson (Screenplay) John Wagner, Vince Locke (Graphic Novel)

Starring: Viggo Mortensen, Maria Bello, Ed Harris, William Hurt, Ashton Holmes, Peter MacNeill

 

Plot: A mild-mannered man becomes a local hero through an act of violence, which sets off repercussions that will shake his family to its very core.


Tagline – Everyone has something to hide.

Runtime: 1 Hour 36 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Intense Unsettling Thriller

 

Story: A History of Violence starts as we meet mild-mannered Tom Stall (Mortensen) working in his local diner with his own family, wide Edie (Bello) and child Jack (Holmes) and Sarah. One evening two men arrive in his diner trying to rob and kill the people inside, Tom’s quick thinking kills the criminals making him a local hero.

The act of heroism brings gangster Carl Fogarty (Harris) to town who claims Tom is from the criminal underworld hiding out with his older brother Richie (Hurt) waiting for him to return back to the criminal world.

 

Thoughts on A History of Violence

 

Characters – Tom Stall is a quiet man, running a diner having a loving family, he steps up to protect his customers and friends makes him a local hero. Now he has drawn a target on his chest with his past coming back to haunt him. Edie is the wife of Tom, she works in law bring home the bigger pay checks, she supports Tom, until she learns the truth and must decide where she stands with him. Carl Fogarty is the mysterious stranger that arrives in town claiming to know Tom from a previous life, he brings the danger back into Tom’s life with the past he wanted to run away from. Richie is the crime boss and brother to Tom, he has been searching for his brother for years and now sees the chance for the connection.

PerformancesViggo Mortensen is outstanding in this leading role we see how he keeps his character perfectly calm in everyday life and how the switch can make him a deadly killer, this is an ability that not everyone can achieve. Maria Bello is strong in her role as a woman unsure who her husband really is. Ed Harris and William Hurt in the supporting role are fantastic both take over the screen with their presence adding much needed tension to everything.

StoryThe story here follows a mild-mannered man whose past comes back to haunt him after protect people he loves and cares about. This is almost like the story that follows up one of the gangster films where we see someone leave the life only to get drawn back years later against his will. The film like to use the idea of violence being the breaking point for relationships between husband & wife, father & son and two brothers which gets played out perfectly. There is an air of tension from start to finish in the film which leaves us only wanting to see where things would go next.

ThrillerThe film uses the tension to keep us feeling uneasy through nearly each moment in the film never knowing what would happen next.

SettingsThe film is set in a small town which Tom makes safe and happy, if would make sense for his character to be there too, it shows how media can expose anybody’s secret.


Scene of the Movie –
The first crime rescue.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The bullying side which isn’t the most important thing we see.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the best modern thrillers you will see, you have four stunning performances and shocks around each corner.

 

Overall: Stunning thriller

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Random – P – Payback (1999)

Director: Brian Helgeland

Writer: Brian Helgeland, Terry Hayes (Screenplay) Donald E Westlake (Novel)

Starring: Mel Gibson, Gregg Henry, Maria Bello, David Paymer, Bill Duke, Deborah Kara Under, John Glover, Lucy Liu

 

Plot: After a successful heist, Porter is shot by his wife and his best friend. They leave him there to die but when he recovers, he seeks revenge and wants his share of the money.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Enjoyable Revenge Thriller

 

Story: Payback starts as Porter (Gibson) is left for dead by his partner Val (Henry) and wife Lynn (Unger), Porter explains everything he wants to go and why it happened as he tells us all his plan. We watch how Porter dives into the criminal underworld to get his hands-on Val first to get his money, then to kill him.

Porter’s mission is filled with twists and turns along the way as he deals with his former bosses, Bronson (Kristofferson), Carter (Devane), dirty cops and his only friend is old flame Rosie (Bello), can he get what is owned to him?

 

Thoughts on Payback

 

Characters – Porter is a streetwise criminal that does the small jobs in the underworld until he is betrayed, he only wants his money but ends up going after the whole organisation in his cold calculated way. Val is the man that betrayed Porter, he has a short temper and gets himself into trouble more often than not. Rosie is the one person Porter is willing to trust but mostly used to show Porter could have a life after this revenge mission. We also have the traditional crime characters that don’t seem to have anything overly original about them.

PerformanceMel Gibson was one of the hottest properties in the 90’s before any controversy and here you can see he knew how to be the star of the show. Gregg Henry is a good villain but we have three main villains that all get the limited amount of time. Maria Bello is also good in this film as the helper showing us she can pull off the sexy smart partner in crime.

StoryThe story is a by the book revenge story of a betrayed criminal that goes after the man who turned on his just to get the money back but ends up facing off against the how organisation. This is also a film which is known for how the editing changed the tone of the film which is something you can see through the story a lot, one minute it feels like a dark thriller the next it has a moment of what feels slightly comical. This does take part of the film out but the story still ends up going the same way.

Action/CrimeThe action is shoot ups which are a good watch throughout the film, each having bigger stakes and each trying to give us something original. The crime world shows us the world all the characters are from which helps us understand all the motivation they show.

SettingsNew York, my old friend and favourite for a crime setting, nothing can be flawed and staying away from some of the bigger iconic monuments or structures helps us enjoy the gritty underworld.

Scene of the Movie – Pearl in a jam.

That Moment That Annoyed Me I would agree with the people who say the edit doesn’t click for the tone.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good by the book crime thriller but the tonal problems stops it reaching the highlights of everything it could have from what I hear of the director’s cut.

 

Overall: Crime thriller fans will enjoy.

Rating

 

 

Abduction (2011)

Director: John Singleton

Writer: Shawn Christensen (Screenplay)

Starring: Taylor Lautner, Lily Collins, Alfred Molina, Sigourney Weaver, Maria Bello, Jason Issacs, Michael Nyqvist

 

Plot: A thriller centered on a young man who sets out to uncover the truth about his life after finding his baby photo on a missing persons website.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Badly Acted Action

 

Story: Abduction starts as we meet rebellious high school student Nathan (Lautner) that is under strict training from his parents Kevin (Isaacs) and Mara (Bello) as well as his therapist Dr Bennet (Weaver) helping him control his anger problems. Nathan gets assigned to work with his high school crush Karen (Collins) in the latest project, which involved looking at missing children’s websites only to discover one of the kids looks just like him.

When Nathan learns the truth, he finds himself getting targeted and Nathan is wondering just who to trust with Dr Bennett, Agent Burton (Molina) or Kozlow (Nyqvist) in what will turn into a race against time to find safety.

 

Thoughts on Abduction

 

Characters/PerformanceNathan is a rebellious high school student, struggling with girls, studying and generally fitting in. he learns that he is in fact adopted but this opens the doors for people coming to capture him leaving him one option, running. Karen is the crush of Nathan and ends up in the middle of the chase also running for her life. Burton is the CIA operative trying to bring Nathan in before Kozlow can get his hands on him. Kozlow is a European enemy that came to America in search for Nathan for bargaining, nothing overly fancy about this character. Dr Bennett, Mara and Kevin all have a secret about what is going on with Nathan.

Performance wise, we all know Taylor Lautner isn’t known for his acting and it does clearly show here. Lily Collins is similar, while she has come a long way now back here she struggles. When we look at the older respected actors we get good supporting performances without shinning on any levels.

StoryThe story follows the idea of a teenager learning his parents are not his parents leaving him on the run from enemies he doesn’t know who to trust. Having two teenagers outsmart CIA, international enemies and normal cops does come off rather farfetched which in places does nothing but disappoint in this film. as for entertainment value, this is simple enough for the fans of the genre.

Action/MysteryThe action is everything you expect with no extra special moments but the mystery about Nathan’s true identity is what is the only interesting part of the film.

SettingsBeing on the run leaves us going through a string of generic settings for this type of film.

Special EffectsAll the effects are fine without being anything special.

Final ThoughtsThis is a film that has its flaws sure, but once it gets going it can become an edge of your seat thriller.

 

Overall: Simple, average and forgettable action film.

Rating

 

 

Butterfly on a Wheel (2007)

Director: Mike Barker

Writer: William Morrissey (Screenplay)

Starring: Pierce Brosnan, Maria Bello, Gerard Butler, Emma Karwandy, Claudette Mink

 

Plot: A perfect family’s dynamic is ruined by a kidnapper’s brutally efficient plot.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Solid Thriller

 

Story: Butterfly on a Wheel starts as we meet successful business man Neil Randall (Butler) and his wife Abby (Bello) live their perfect little life where everything is comfortable for them, with Neil on the verge of a promotion to partner, the two head off the weekend.

The weekend takes a turn for the worse when Tom Ryan (Brosnan) holds the couple hostage with one of his partners keeping their daughter as a bargaining tool. Tom makes the two follow tasks around the city as we learn the motives of Tom’s ideas.

 

Thoughts on Butterfly on a Wheel

 

Characters/PerformanceNeil is an advertising man, family man but distant husband, he is about to get a promotion for all his hard work but once he is forced into playing the games we see his true nature unfold. Abby is the wife of Neil who has given up her career but with a new chance to start she finds herself being forced into playing the games. Tom is the man behind the games, he is forcing the couple to do everything he wants but the question remains why? This air of mystery makes him a very interesting character.

Performance wise, Brosnan is great as the cold-hearted man behind what is going on, Maria Bello is good too through the film showing she can be part of the leading lady in the film and Butler is strong throughout.

StoryThis story does follow the trends of the how far would you go to save your daughter routine, this does leave us with a good mystery about what we are expecting and happy to throw a twist or two our way. I feel the final twist is the saving grace of the film because we must rethink everything we have seen which is always a nice feeling with a film.

Crime/ThrillerThe crime side of this is kidnapping and abducting which work perfectly for the story and we are kept on edge through the film wondering just what are the motives.

SettingsEach setting unfolds to tell us the truth about what has been happening which works as we learn pieces of the puzzle.

Final ThoughtsThis is a thriller that went under the radar, it is a good watch and one well worth watching if you are a thriller fan.

 

Overall: Enjoyable thriller with plenty of twists.

Rating