Antono Banderas Weekend – Haywire (2011)

Director: Steven Soderbergh

Writer: Lem Dobbs (Screenplay)

Starring: Gina Carano, Michael Fassbender, Ewan McGregor, Bill Paxton, Channing Tatum, Antonio Banderas, Michael Douglas

 

Plot: A black ops super soldier seeks payback after she is betrayed and set up during a mission.


Tagline – They left her no choice.

Runtime: 1 Hour 33 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Disappointing Action

 

Story: Haywire starts as Mallory Kane (Carano) a black ops soldier for the CIA is currently on the run after her partners Aaron (Tatum), Kenneth (McGregor), Rodrigo (Banderas) an Alex (Douglas) have set up to eliminate her. Mallory looks back on her career with the mission which things went wrong, one where she must get to know a MI6 agent Paul (Fassbender).

Mallory needs to bring down the men who have been setting her up, while finding the only person she can trust John (Paxton) her father, here she knows she can trust him to help her expose the corruption that is framing her.

 

Thoughts on Haywire

 

Characters – Mallory is the black ops soldier, now on the run after being set up by her own people, she uses her skills to remain ahead of them, using her combat skills to disarm the situations and tries to figure out who she can trust. This is basically a female version of Jason Bourne. Kenneth is the one the liaised on the last mission and the one that is currently after Mallory, he answers to people above his head, while control the ones below. Paul is the agent that Mallory is meant to meet, the one that she ended up coming to blows with leading to her to being chased. We have the people above Mallory that just want to see a mess cleaned up, while others are just facing orders.

PerformancesGina Carano is the star of the showing in the leading role, she handles all the action with ease and makes us believe she could be a threat for anybody who messes with her. The supporting male cast handle the heavy dialogue scenes, which takes away the one weakness Gina could have.

StoryThe story follows a black ops soldier that must clear her name, while being hunted down by the employees after a mission goes wrong. This is a style of story we have seen before, it is one that is a tried and tested formula, this way of telling the story, however, is weak, mainly because we are doing a large part of it in flashback style, which takes away any peril in the film for Mallory. We also try to get over-complicated with the motivation behind trying to frame her and by the end we don’t feel like we have experienced a tense enough action film. the music doesn’t help this movie either because it makes it feel like we are just watching slick heist movie.

ActionGina Carano does her best to save this film with her action star abilities with combat, they are the only enjoyed scenes in the film.

SettingsThe film does take us around the world for the action scenes, showing this to be a worldwide operation.


Scene of the Movie –
The hotel escape sequences.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The end fight feels like just a training montage.

Final ThoughtsThis is an action film that had potential, only for it to become to average with the story, with the one highlight being Gina Carano.

 

Overall: Basic action flick.

Rating

 

 

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ABC Film Challenge – World Cinema – A – Animal World (2018)

Director: Yan Han

Writer: Yan Han (Screenplay) Nobuyuki Fukumoto (Comic)

Starring: Yi Feng Li, Dongyu Zhou, Michael Douglas, Bingkun Cao, Eric Heise, Alberto Lancellotti, Yijuan Li

 

Plot: A man finds himself deep in debt and is coerced to board a ship that hosts a risky gambling party.

 

Runtime: 2 Hours 12 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun Adventure Thriller

 

Story: Animal World starts with Zheng Kaisi (Li) who has been struggling for money working in a casino as a clown, his mother is sick and he can’t afford the medical bills anymore, he is close with the nurse Liu Qing (Zhou) who does what she can to support his sick mother.

Desperate for money Kaisi re-mortgages his family home, only to learn that the man he did the deal with Anderson (Douglas) wants a bigger price than he could ever afford. Luckily Kaisi is given a chance to go on the cruise ship which will give him a chance to make more money than he could ever imagine or face hardship just to survive. This is going to be one of the most extreme games of Rock, Paper, Scissors.

 

Thoughts on Animal World

 

Characters – Zheng Kaisi is a young man that works in the amusement arcade, while trying to support his mother in hospital, he is trying his best to support her, but money is tight and turning to his friend they take out a loan. The loan is more than he was prepared for, forcing him to pay it back to the loan with a high rick game of rock, paper, scissor. He must use his knowledge of maths to stay ahead of the game, while learning how to deal with the different players. Liu Qing is the nurse girlfriend of Zheng Kaisi who is being pressured into leaving him for the security of her future, she is one of the reason why he plays the game. Anderson is the man who arranges the game and the loans, he will put the players into the same game, which is largely for his own profit for the high stakes in play. Li Jun is the close friend of Zheng who ends up getting them into this situation.

PerformancesYi Feng Li in the leading role is great to watch, he shows the good-nature to his character as well as showing us that he can get into the poker face performance needed for the game. Dongyu Zhou does feel wasted in her role in this fil, she really doesn’t get to do anything. Michael Douglas fills the villainous leader of the game role wonderfully, without needing to do that much outside his comfort zone. The rest of the cast is mostly the players of the game who all show their characters true colours through the film.

StoryThe story here follows a poor young man who takes out a loan with a friend, only for the loan shark to force them into a deadly game of Rock, Paper, Scissors with strict rules, our hero must get out of this game which stars and must learn quickly how to become feared within the players. This is an interesting idea for a film, it places us into a underground card game with high stakes, it shows us how the game is played which might be a long scene, but does make everything clear. The concept does feel original and adding the nightmare figures our lead sees, only makes this even more interesting, the tactical side of the game is everything we want to be witnessing because it keeps us guessing to just what will happen next.

Adventurethe adventure side of the film mixes with the thriller side by taking our characters into a world unseen to them, the new world is the adventure for these characters.

SettingsThe settings are largely aboard the cruise liner where the game takes place, it fits the rich society look required, while having a dirty look which was required for the film.

Special EffectsThe effects are used for the visions that Kaisi experiences, they take him into a world of monsters which he wants to fight back against.


Scene of the Movie –
The card game rules.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The monster visions seem like they didn’t need to be here.

Final ThoughtsThe is a fun adventure thriller, it takes rock, paper, scissors and makes it one of the most intense games you can see played.

 

Overall: Fun and entertaining.

Rating

 

 

The Jewel of the Nile (1985)

Director: Lewis Teague

Writer: Mark Rosenthal, Lawrence Konner (Screenplay) Diane Thomas (Characters)

Starring: Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner, Danny DeVito, Spiros Focas, Avner Eisenberg

 

Plot: When Joan Wilder is abducted while on a trip along the Nile, her boyfriend, Jack Colton, and pal Ralph rush to rescue her and retrieve a fabled jewel.


Tagline – When the going gets tough, the tough get going.

Runtime: 1 Hour 46 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun 80s Adventure

 

Story: The Jewel of the Nile starts when struggling author Joan (Turner) can’t think of her latest romance novel, offered a chance to go down the Nile by Omar (Focas), she must leave her boyfriend adventurer Jack (Douglas) to explore the mystery about a mysterious jewel.

When it turns out Omar isn’t the man he presented himself to Joan, Jack must team up with an old friend Ralph (DeVito) to steal the jewel back for the rightful owners and save Joan from the danger she unwittingly finds herself in.

 

Thoughts on The Jewel of the Nile

 

Characters – Jack is the adventure seeker, who travels around the world in search for his own adventure, he has his girl Joan and would give up the time with her for an adventure, only this time he must go after her to rescue her from a villainous man, he gets lucky in fights not being the first to step up and get his hands dirty. Joan is an author that is struggling to start her latest work, she goes to Omar believing it will be a new story only to find herself needing to write a story she isn’t willing to write and learn about her own feelings for Jack. Ralph is the old friend that has always clashed with Jack, he finds himself in the middle of this not prepared for where things will go. Omar is the man that has the jewel, he wants it to control the people of the land which only caused the nation to be torn about who to follow.

PerformancesMichael Douglas in the leading role is a fun choice, you wouldn’t put him down as a leading adventure star, but his performance only adds to the humour in the film, making everything more enjoyable. Kathleen Turner is good to in her role, she shows us a strong female character that does still need the man’s help. Danny DeVito gets to give us the comic relief through the film which does work at times while at other times it misses. Spiros Focas does make for a good villain role.

StoryThe story follows the events of Jack and Joan as they get caught up in another adventure in search of treasure, even though the treasure this time is a person. This is what the 80s stories were all about, we had people outside of their comfort zone battle to survive against an evil ruler trying to take over the control. It plays out like you would imagine as our characters must learn a new culture, make new friends and stumble across defeat the villain. It is an easy watch one that can be enjoyed without being overly complicated and gives us the idea of peril throughout.

Action/Adventure/ComedyThe action shows us just where the characters must fight to survive mostly from bullets flying their way on their adventure across the country hoping to survive and find the treasure. The comedy shows us not taking things too seriously when it comes to the style they survive the adventure.

SettingsThe film takes us across a Middle Eastern country in search for the treasure, it shows a culture people can easily ignore, show the good and bad in people.


Scene of the Movie –
Jet craft.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The racial jokes which wouldn’t work now.

Final ThoughtsThis is a typical 80s adventure film that will give you everything you want from the genre and help you enjoy things along the way.

 

Overall: Enjoyable adventure.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Oscar Nomination – T – Traffic (2000)

Director: Steven Soderbergh

Writer: Stephen Gaghan (Screenplay) Simon Moore (Miniseries)

Starring: Michael Douglas, Don Cheadle, Benicio Del Toro, Dennis Quaid, Catherine Zeta-Jones

 

Plot: A conservative judge is appointed by the President to spearhead America’s escalating war against drugs, only to discover that his teenage daughter is a crack addict. Two DEA agents protect an informant. A jailed drug baron’s wife attempts to carry on the family business.


Tagline – It’s a dirty, dirty war! And no one comes away clean

Runtime: 2 Hours 27 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Slow Burning Crime Thriller

 

Story: Traffic starts by following two Mexican Cops Javier Rodriguez (Del Toro) and Manolo Sanchez (Vargas) who aren’t part of the drug trafficking side of the business, though they must turn a blind eye. America is trying to clean up the drug war by hiring judge Robert Wakefield (Douglas) to take the battle to them, while DEA agents Ray Castro (Guzman) and Montel Gordon (Cheadle) are dealing with an informant. As a drug lord is taken away his wife Helena (Zeta-Jones) must deal with the consequences of her husband’s actions.

With the four sides needing to think of their futures, Javier makes a desperate decision, Robert needing to deal with his own personal problems including his daughter crack addiction, Montel wanting to be on the front line without losing more people and Helena wanting to continue her husband’s business either after being watched by the authority.

 

Thoughts on Traffic

 

Characters – Javier Rodriguez has been working on the Mexican side of the drug battle, one of the good cops that gets pressed into making a big decision which could affect his partner and his own family. Robert Wakefield is being lined up to lead the battle on the drugs from the American side of the war, his promotion is huge for his career, but his own teenage daughter has become a drug addict spiralling out of control, leaving him in the position of needing to win the war or save his family. Montel Gordon is the DEA agent that has been on the ground trying to get to the truth about who is behind the drug deals going on. Helena is the wife of the drug lord who wants to keep the business alive even after her husband is taken to jail, knowing her kids will need the money for their own futures.

PerformancesThe performances in the film are good through the film, while most of the big character barely ever connect with each other, the separate performances from Bel Toro, Douglas, Zeta-Jones and Cheadle are all strong for the film.

StoryThe story here follows separate stories involved in the drug war going on between Mexican and American sides of war as see the people on the ground, the people in political officers and the dealer’s family. We do jump between the stories a lot which can make it hard to keep up with everything because the jump between them and lack of connection can be disconnecting for the audience. It does give us an insight to the drug war that is on going between the countries and how the people can be drawn to extremes to get their own fixes. The cops will be pushed too far without having any power when it comes to taking down the criminals without crossing the lines. With plenty of questions being asked it would have been nice to have more answered.

CrimeThe crime world we are thrown into shows us just how the criminal world of drugs operates be it with the deals, the legal system or the users and how the problem is looking to be solved.

SettingsThe film does take us to many different locations as we get to see how everything operates, we see the Mexican dealer’s life of luxury home, to the political offices taking on the war to the dens where the users get attracted too.


Scene of the Movie –
Seth is being excused today.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Too many stories going on.

Final ThoughtsThis is a strong look at the drug war, it does have too many stories going on at once which can drag you down because each character feels like they are meant to be important in their own way.

 

Overall: Over saturated movie

Rating

 

 

Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)

Director: Peyton Reed

Writer: Chris McKenna, Erick Sommers, Paul Rudd, Andrew Barrer, Gabriel Ferrari (Screenplay) Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Jack Kirby (Comics)

Starring: Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Pena, Walton Goggins, Hannah John-Kamen, Michelle Pfeiffer, Laurence Fishburne, Michael Douglas

 

Plot: As Scott Lang balances being both a Super Hero and a father, Hope van Dyne and Dr. Hank Pym present an urgent new mission that finds the Ant-Man fighting alongside The Wasp to uncover secrets from their past.


Tagline – Real heroes. Not actual size.

Runtime: 1 Hour 58 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Mostly Forgettable

 

Story: Ant-Man and the Wasp starts as we learn Scott (Rudd) is under house arrest after getting involved during Captain America Civil War, his time is nearly up and he has no communication with Hank (Douglas) or Hope (Lilly). After getting a message through the quantum realm Hank and Hope take Paul to help them locate Janet (Pfeiffer) who they believe is still alive in there.

The idea is to go in and save her, only weapons dealer Sonny Birch (Goggins) wants the equipment to sell on the market and the mysterious Ava (John-Kamen) wants the energy to save her life. What follows is the team coming together to get the best of both worlds.

 

Thoughts on Ant-Man and the Wasp

 

Characters – Scott Lang is no longer aloud to be Ant-Man under house arrest for his action, he has started a business and tries to entertain his daughter within the house. He gets information which could save Janet, Hank’s wife and must risk staying ahead of the FBI to help, his joke timing is very hit or miss though. Hope is now the Wasp, a flying superhero with the same size shaping abilities as Ant-Man, she is getting the equipment together for the rescue attempt and handles most of the best fighting from the good team. Hank wants to save his wife and is willing to put differences aside, Dr Foster is the former partner of Hank’s that has theories that could help. Ava is the deadliest villain, she is a young woman that was a victim of quantum effects making her life constant pain, she wants to end it, she has been a ghost for SHEILD for years now. Luis the most entertaining character in the film by far, he gets laughs in every scene, gives natural reaction to the situations and could easily have his own movie. Sonny Birch is a weapons dealer, generic as they come.

PerformancesPaul Rudd is fine in the leading role, he doesn’t seem to have the chemistry with the cast for the comedy though, not his fault, its more the character. Evangeline Lilly gets to have he good fight scenes showing off her character but the rest of solid enough. Douglas, Fishburne and Pfeiffer are ok, but they are mostly just trying to keep their names in big movies. Michael Pena is the scene stealer by a long way. Walton Goggins, well people said his character in Tomb Raider was generic, this is worse, he has nothing to work with. Hannah John-Kamen plays the most interesting character but struggles to make us either care or hate her character.

StoryThe story here takes place 2-years after the events of Captain America Civil War, Scott is paying for being involved in that fight and now Hank needs his help to save his long thought of lost wife. Them being criminals now doesn’t make this easy as they must operate in secret which brings the attentions of other people that want the technology. This story is set over 2 days, the 2 days before Scott has his house arrest finishing, which gives the film a race against time and needing to make sure Scott is in his home whenever the FBI turn up. The science does make this hard to follow in places and the tone of the story does fill mix, Scott and Luis are always hitting jokes, but most of the rest of the story feels like it should be a lot darker.

Action/Adventure/Sci-fiThe action is the basics to what we would have come to expect, the fights with ghost are the highlights of the action. The adventure is trying to keep ahead of the FBI even after there is no evidence he is leaving the house. The sci-fi side of the film can easily go over heads, because of all the scientific conversations.

SettingsThe film keeps the action in San Francisco which is fine, we know the iconic location there which get used at times through the film, it is the quantum realm which is the most beautiful and haunting places to visit.

Special EffectsThe effects for the film can’t be faulted in anyway, they look fantastic and the scaling abilities all work for the film.


Scene of the Movie –
End credits scene.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It felt like Scott was telling jokes, rather than being naturally funny, like Thor.

Final ThoughtsThis is largely forgettable from Marvel, not because it is bad, but because it follows Infinity War, which is the only film we want to see the next chapter of right now in this universe.

 

Overall: Pay check sequel for Disney.

Rating