Backtrace (2018)

Director: Brian A Miller

Writer: Mike Maples (Screenplay)

Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Ryan Guzman, Meadow Williams, Matthew Modine, Colin Egglesfield, Christopher McDonald

 

Plot: The lone surviving thief of a violent armored car robbery is sprung from a high security facility and administered an experimental drug.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 32 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Dull & Messy

 

Story: Backtrace starts with a bank robbery gone wrong as the three get gunned down, with Macdonald (Modine) being the lone survivor, detective Sykes (Stallone) arrives at the scene to figure out just what went down, hoping Macdonald can give him the answers.

With his memory lost Macdonald is offered a way out of a security prison by Lucas (Guzman) and Erin (Williams) so they can get to the bottom of what happened, for their own reasons using an experimental drug to unlock the memories he has of the robbery.

 

Thoughts on Backtrace

 

Characters – Sykes is the lead detective trying to piece together just what happened with the shootout and bank robbery along with the problem when the only survivor goes missing. Lucas leads a group that have taken the lone survivor as they look to backtrace his footsteps to learn just what happened for their own motivation. Erin is the nurse that uses the drug on the survivor, she makes sure he stays alive through Lucas’s team’s investigation. Macdonald is the lone survivor of the shootout, only he has lost his memory, he wants to know the truth himself and will go along with Lucas and his team to learn the answers.

PerformancesSylvester Stallone is in this movie, but he barely does anything or has much screen time, he is a generic detective figure that just doesn’t get enough time to make any sort of impact on this film. The rest of the performances in the film have little to no impact on anything we are seeing and by the end you will feel flat by the performances.

StoryThe story follows the different groups that are trying to learn the location of the missing money after a robbery goes wrong and only witness has lost his memory. The story tries to put intertwine the different characters which is designed to try and make twists along the way, only for things to become overly reliant on these attempted twists. The concept could have worked, but in the end this story falls majorly flat because the characters are written so dully you simply can’t connect to anyone in the film.

CrimeThe crime side of the film seems to have everybody involved in the story either being a criminal or a crime fighter and we never know which side to trust either.

SettingsThe film follows our characters going back through a crime situation, which only feels tired on just what is needed.


Scene of the Movie –
Ummm pass.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The storytelling process.

Final ThoughtsThis is a dull action crime film that doesn’t get the storytelling done well, making most of the film feel boring because we simply can’t connect to the characters.

 

Overall: Uninteresting.

Rating

 

 

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Sicario 2: Soldado (2018)

Director: Stefano Sollima

Writer: Taylor Sheridan (Screenplay)

Starring: Benicio Del Toro, Josh Brolin, Isabela Moner, Jeffrey Donovan, Catherine Keener, Manuel Garcia-Fulfo, Matthew Modine

 

Plot: The drug war on the US-Mexico border has escalated as the cartels have begun trafficking terrorists across the US border. To fight the war, federal agent Matt Graver re-teams with the mercurial Alejandro.

 

Runtime: 2 Hours 2 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Excellently Shot

 

Story: Sicario 2: Soldado starts with a terrorist attack on American soil, Matt Graver (Brolin) is bought in to learn who is responsible for getting them into America in the first place, this leads him to the Mexican Cartels. Matt’s assignment is to create a war between the cartels.

Matt brings Alejandro (Del Toro) the best man back for the job which involves kidnapping Isabel Reyes (Moner) the daughter of one of the games, but when the release goes wrong the race to cover up the job is on.

 

Thoughts on Sicario 2: Soldado

 

Characters – Alejandro is recruited once again by Matt Graver to do an off the books job on the border of Mexico. He is the cold hearted killer that we met before, he goes on his own mission through the film which shows just how skilled he is. Matt Graver is the man the government turn to when they need to get a dirty job done, he is like a machine when it comes to decision making and knows to make contacts in his field. He has a much more front and centre role in this film. Isabel Reyes is the target they team goes after as a pawn in the battle between the Cartels. This isn’t the strongest character and we don’t know how often she is willing to use her father’s name. the rest of the characters we meet focus on the government making the decisions, the cartels and the small town smugglers which all come together for the final story.

PerformancesThis is a movie with two excellent performances in from Benicio Del Toro and Josh Brolin, these two show how talented they are and elevate their performances from the first film. the rest of the cast are good without taking away the spotlight from any of the two leads.

StoryThe story continues to show the war on the cartels in and around the Mexican border, it shows how the government is willing to create their own war to keep the other side out of their problems. The core of the story follows one mission to create a war in Mexico, we know the players in the game from the American side and they are unleashed to go further than before. There is a subplot about a teenager getting bought into the cartel to help with the smuggling, which is important for the story, but the build is very much out of the style of the rest of the film. if you like the dark, brutal side of the original then you will enjoy this one too, though I will warn there are some very difficult scenes to watch.

Action/CrimeThe action in this film is hard hitting, the shoot outs are brilliant and the explosion look as realistic as you could imagine. There is no turning away from the brutality in the action. The crime shows the American government breaking the law to fight the criminals at their own game which is where the film puts out the ethical question about what they are doing.

SettingsThe film uses the settings excellently, this helps with the shots we get that use the camerawork perfectly and show just where this war will be happening.

Special EffectsThe effects in the film show us just what happens when our characters get hit by the bullets flying around, the effects are brutal to watch.


Scene of the Movie –
The dust convoy

That Moment That Annoyed Me The Miguel storyline takes something away from the mission story.

Final ThoughtsThis is an excellent sequel to Sicario, it shows just how deadly the game of creating wars can be and just how dirty people will have to get to achieve this.

 

Overall: Must watch action thriller.

Rating

 

Any Given Sunday (1999)

Director: Oliver Stone

Writer: John Logan, Oliver Stone (Screenplay) Daniel Pyne, John Logan (Story)

Starring: Al Pacino, Cameron Diaz, Dennis Quaid, Jams Woods, Jamie Foxx, LL Cool J, Matthew Modine

 

Plot: A behind-the-scenes look at the life-and-death struggles of modern-day gladiators and those who lead them.


Tagline – that women would eat her own children

Runtime: 2 Hours 42 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Brilliant Football Movie

 

Story: Any Given Sunday starts as we follow a Miami franchise American Football team going through a losing streak, coach Tony D’Amato (Pacino) is now considered old school and after losing his star quarterback Jack ‘Cap’ Rooney (Quaid) to injury he is facing the pressure coming from the owner Christina Pagniacci (Diaz).

Turning to his third-choice quarterback Willie Beamen (Foxx) who struggles at first but soon becomes an overnight sensation as he changes his mind set when it comes to the fame. With the team’s form turned around, Tony is left with the difficult decision as the play-offs approach on whether to have his leader Rooney or the loose cannon Willie, along with the rest of the difficult decisions that goes around being a coach.

 

Thoughts on Any Given Sunday

 

Characters – Tony D’Amato is the coach of the Miami Sharks, he has been for years and has won plenty of trophies, now he is being tested and questioned about his ability as the game continues to evolve. He is given difficult decisions like any coach to make it through the season, the one which could be his last. Christina Pagniacci is the owner of the club, she has gained power after her father’s death and is determined to make her team great again, she is ruthless in business and challenges Tony unlike her father did. Jack Rooney is the legendary quarterback of the team, he does get injured which leaves him questioning his own decision to stay in the game. Dr Mandrake has been keeping injuries quiet from Tony putting the players heath and even lives at risk. Willie becomes the overnight sensation as the replacement quarterback, he starts as the hard working nervous player but thrown into the limelight he thinks he is the real deal turning his back on his loved ones not being able to handle the fame. Julian is a known mercenary player, he will work for the money but not harder than he needs to. We have such a big cast, we can’t go into all of them though, the characters all fit into the American Football world.

PerformancesAl Pacino was already an Oscar winner here so we know he is one of the best in the business, here he shows us why as he is brilliant in the desperate aging coach role. Cameron Diaz shows us all that she is a talent actress in this role where she gives us a dominate performance as the owner. Dennis Quaid is good in his role as the aging star. James Woods plays the role you could imagine him playing in this film style. Foxx makes for a great egotistical player that struggles to handle the fame. The whole cast looks like the person they are aiming to play in the film.

StoryThe story follows a fictional American Football team as they are aiming for the play-offs to regain the status as one of the elite teams in the league. We have the small details about what has been going on in the club, the coach questioning where he stands in the game, the new owner desperate to become a powerhouse in the game, the cocky player the aging veteran and even the medical question marks about what has been putting players lives in danger. This is a unique way of telling the story, it is one man changing the team, but instead we see how the team must come together to become legends in their own right.

SportsThe American Football sequences are the heart and soul of the action in the film, they are as brutal as the game is led to believe to be.

SettingsThe film takes us around the high life of the American Football scene, seeing how they go from quiet moments and the wild parties.


Scene of the Movie –
Pre-Game Speech.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Too many cuts.

Final ThoughtsIf you want to see how American Football world operates, this could easily be one of the most important version of the world.

 

Overall: A Must watch American Football Movie.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Oscar Nomination – F – Full Metal Jacket (1987)

Director: Stanley Kubrick

Writer: Stanley Kubrick, Michael Herr, Gustav Hasford (Screenplay) Gustav Hasford (Novel)

Starring: Matthew Modine, Adam Baldwin, Vincent D’Onofrio, R. Lee Ermey, Dorian Harewood, Kevyn Major Howard

 

Plot: A pragmatic U.S. Marine observes the dehumanizing effects the Vietnam War has on his fellow recruits from their brutal boot camp training to the bloody street fighting in Hue.


Tagline – An Epic Story of the Vietnam War

Runtime: 1 Hour 58 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: The Epic We Know

 

Story: Full Metal Jacket starts as we follow the Marine training under the brutally strict Gny. Sgt, Hartman (Ermey) who puts the recruits through intense training, Pvt Joker (Modine) is one of these marines, it is Pvt Leonard ‘Gomer Pyle’ Lawrence (D’Onofrio) that takes the highest level of abuse from Hartman. Upon graduation Gomer has reached his limits and is ready to snap, showing just how far the training can drive someone.

Joker goes to Vietnam to be part of the journalist side reporting on the war as a soldier, his unit are meant to be writing stories to inspire the soldiers to continue the fight. Joker takes Rafterman (Howard) to write a story where they end up with Animal Mother (Baldwin) and his unit showing the horrors of war.

 

Thoughts on Full Metal Jacket

 

Characters – Private Joker is the one telling us the story, from training to the front in Vietnam as a journalist soldier, he barely sees combat until his latest story where he final gets to experience the war first hand. Animal Mother is one of the marines that Joker meets along the way, he doesn’t like the happy-go-lucky personality that Joker shows because he knows the true horror of war. Private Leonard ‘Gomer Pyle’ Lawrence is the biggest victim of the abuse from the drill instructor, he gets alienated from the rest of the trainees reaching his limit before snapping, showing us that the training methods can destroy a soldier before he even steps foot in war. Gny Sgt Hartman is the drill instructor for the marines, he is brutal in his techniques which causes Leonard to go too far. He does possess some of the greatest insults in any military movies.

PerformancesMatthew Modine is great in this role, he shows the light-hearted attitude towards war as well as the horror when he ends up in the middle of it. Adam Baldwin does a good job as thee soldier ha wants the highest body count. Vincent D’Onofrio is truly brilliant in his role, you feel like you are understanding his emotional evolution during the film. R Lee Ermey stuns dominating the screen with every single scene he is in, making a big impact on the genre.

StoryThe story shows the intense training before heading into Vietnam, it goes onto show how the soldiers would need to learn to think on their feet, while remaining united against the enemies ahead during the horrors of war. The training side of the film is the highlight of everything because it is a non-stop intense display of how the training happens. Once in Vietnam it does feel just like most war dramas, following the unit through the different war scenarios they must deal with. The story will remain up there with the very best without a doubt.

War The genre is always a difficult watch, we know the war was real, we know millions lost their lives in conflict which ever war we talk about, this was Vietnam and was just like the rest shocking and disturbing to the people in the middle of it as well as fighting in it.

SettingsThe settings put us in the middle of the war and the training, you can’t fault the settings which come off perfectly.


Scene of the Movie –
Leonard pushed too far.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Is there one? No.

Final ThoughtsThis is considered one of the greatest movies of all time and you can see why, it is flawless in how every scene unfolds, has the most brutal training regime you will ever see and shows the horrors of war.

 

Overall: Powerful Masterpiece from the master.

Rating

 

 

47 Meters Down (2017)

Director: Johannes Roberts

Writer: Johannes Roberts, Ernest Riera (Screenplay)

Starring: Mandy Moore, Claire Holt, Chris Johnson, Yani Gellman, Santiago Segura, Matthew Modine

 

Plot: Two sisters vacationing in Mexico are trapped in a shark cage at the bottom of the ocean. With less than an hour of oxygen left and great white sharks circling nearby, they must fight to survive.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Underwater Shark Attack Suspense Miss

 

Story: 47 Meters Down starts as two sisters Lisa (Moore) and Kate (Holt) are holidaying in Mexico with Lisa trying to get over her ex, the two look to have a good time. Two locals Benjamin (Segura), Louis (Gellman) talk the girls into joining Captain Taylor (Modine) on the Sea Esta to swim with sharks.

When the dream experience for the girls turns into a nightmare when the cable holding the cage snaps, sending them both trapped in the cage 47 metres to the bottoms of the ocean, the two must stay calm and wait for rescue but do they have the air to wait that long?

 

Thoughts on 47 Meters Down

 

Characters/PerformanceLisa is the stable one of the two sisters, she doesn’t take the risks her sister does and finds herself using this holiday to follow her sisters lead. Kate is the free spirited of the two sisters that enjoys taking risk and will not be saying no to an adventure. We do have a captain and his crew too but we barely see them.

Performance wise, Holt and Moore are fine, you don’t actually believe them to be sisters and the peril they find themselves in doesn’t seem to be anything overly fresh in performance eyes.

StoryThe story does offer us something fresh when it comes to the shark attack genre, the film takes place underwater instead of on the surface as the girls are trapped at the bottom of the ocean. The problem using this situation is that the near death moments just don’t come off, for example we have a good 5 minutes sequence with one of the girls trying to drag an oxygen tank closer, now this happens too early in the film for us to believe that she might die. On the surface this is a good idea and does work but puts together the maybes too far apart.

Adventure/HorrorThe adventure would be about what the two girls could be experiencing with the horror being how this adventure could go horribly wrong with shark attack happening.

SettingsThe bottom of the ocean in a shark cage, well this is a new and brilliant setting for the movie and is easily the highlight of everything.

Special EffectsThe effects are used to create the shark attack sequences which are all filled with terror.

Final ThoughtsThis is a fresh approach to the shark attack movie, it is smartly created but does lack in the idea of peril which the surface has on the higher levels.

 

Overall: Shark attack movie with new breath but less teeth.

Rating