ABC Film Challenge – Biopic – A – Ali (2001)

Director: Michael Mann

Writer: Stephen J Rivele, Christopher Wilkinson, Eric Roth, Michael Mann (Screenplay) Gregory Allen Howard (Story)

Starring: Will Smith, Jamie Foxx, Jon Voight, Mario Van Peebles, Ron Silver, Jeffrey Wright, Mykelti Williamson


Plot: A biography of sports legend Muhammad Ali, focusing on his triumphs and controversies between 1964 and 1974.

Tagline – Float like a butterfly and sting like a bee.

Runtime: 2 Hours 37 Minutes


There may be spoilers in the rest of the review


Verdict: Boxing Biopic a Must Watch


Story: Ali starts on the brink of Cassius Clay (Smith) first title match in 1964, a match he wins to become heavyweight champion of the world, with his place on top of the world ready, Cassius joins forces with Malcolm X (Peebles) becoming a Muslim in the process, changing his name to Muhammad Ali.

With the Vietnam war drafting men from America, Muhammad is drafted, but he refuses to go and fight which leads him to be stripped of the title and banned from fighting in certain states, Ali uses his to create one of the biggest fights in history, The Rumble in the Jungle.


Thoughts on Ali


Characters – Muhammad Ali is one if not the most famous boxers in the world, in the history of the sport, he help shape the sport to be what we know now, with his charisma and loud behaviour against his opponents, we follow just ten years of his life, from his first title win, through his religious change, the battle against the government about fighting in the Vietnam war, to being part of one of the biggest fights in boxing history. When we focus on the rest of the real-life people we get to see the loyal people in his life, reporter Howard Cosell that seemed to have a wonderful relationship which included banter between the two and the promoters that make the fight possible.

PerformancesWill Smith in the role of Ali is brilliant, this is easily his best performance of his career showing the world that he can have his wise cracking side mixed with the serious side. We have an unrecognizable Jon Voight who is shows us all that how easily he can morph into any role. The rest of the supporting cast are good without being fantastic or taking away anything from Smith in the leading role.

StoryThe story here takes us into Muhammed Ali’s life for ten years, we get to see from the night he first won the title till the famous Rumble in the Jungle match. We do see the obstacles he must overcome to remain the man he was which in itself is an incredible story during late 60s America. My issues with the story come from not seeing everything that Ali went through in this career, mostly the rise to the top, which could have been an even more interesting story. for the story to only cover 10- years is interesting because we could have seen so much more of the legal battle against the government, the religious battles he faced because of his stance on war and action with the women. The truth is, Ali lived an amazing life and there are so many story we could learn about him from his career any film just can’t cover them all.

Biopic/SportsTen years of one of the great boxers in the history of the sport, one of the men that changed the sport almost doesn’t give it enough justice. The sports side of the film comes from the boxing scenes which are incredibly real through the film we do get a couple and they do go on a long time.

SettingsThe film here takes us to the important locations in Ali’s life, the ring of course is the most important one while we get scenes away from the ring to as we look at his church and his personal life.

Scene of the Movie –
Rumble in the Jungle.

That Moment That Annoyed Me I would have like to see more of his life and career

Final ThoughtsThis is one of those biopics which is great to watch and has wonderful scenes, only for it to be missing that big it factor about it. The fights do feel real which is key and the performances are flawless, we could only have learnt more.


Overall: Biopic to enjoy.




The Last of the Mohicans (1992)

Director: Michael Mann

Writer: Michael Mann, Christopher Crowe (Screenplay) James Fenimore Cooper (Novel)

Starring: Daniel Day-Lewis, Madeleine Stowe, Russell Means, Eric Schweig, Jodhi May, Steven Waddington, Wes Studi


Plot: Three trappers protect a British Colonel’s daughters in the midst of the French and Indian War.

Tagline – The first American hero.

Runtime: 1 Hour 52 Minutes


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Good, but Hard to Follow


Story: The Last of the Mohicans starts in the middle of the French Indian war raging through America we meet trapper Hawkeye (Day-Lewis) who doesn’t want to get involved in the war when the British try to recruit support in the battle. Major Duncan Heywood (Waddington) is preparing to escort the General’s daughters Cora (Stowe) and Alice (May) across the country, hoping he can marry Cora one day. When the group get ambushes, Hawkeye guides them to safety but then finds himself in the middle of the war he was trying to avoid. Hawkeye falls in love with Cora and soon finds himself needing to free himself from the British who treat him like a war criminal even after what he did for the British and continues to do when Cora is in danger.


Thoughts on The Last of the Mohicans


Characters – Hawkeye is the adopted child of an Indian family raised to be one of their greatest trappers, he along with his family would like to stay out of the war, but he gets dragged into the battle after rescuing the British General’s daughters. He shows the strength to lead an army, determination to win a battle and the love it feels for Cora. Cora is the daughter of a British general trapped in a world at war, she becomes the love interest for Hawkeye who spends most of the film trying to rescue her. If I am honest, I found it hard to tell any of the British apart or any of the Indians, which at time made it confusing to follow who was on the good side and bad side.

PerformancesDaniel Day-Lewis is good in the leading role, which is something you would have come to expect from him, but his combat scenes don’t seem to click at times. Madeleine Stowe is good to as is the whole cast who are good without being great and not being bad through the film.

StoryThe story follows a neutral trapper in the middle of the British and French battling in America who gets caught up in the middle of the war because of his love for a British woman who needs protecting. This does play into moments of history without being anything special if we are being honest, we try to learn more about the history of the early battles in America without us knowing too much going in, we barely learn anything afterwards too.

Action/Adventure/Romance/WarThe action while massive on scale can become plenty of well placed battle moments searching for shock value, the romance drives Hawkeye to fight and save during a war backdrop, one he never wanted to be part of.

SettingsThe settings show the clash of worlds, the Indian beliefs, the British forts and the French forts which shows us who will be comfortable in different battle situations.

Scene of the Movie –
Ambushes number two.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Figuring out who was on which side, just gets confusing.

Final ThoughtsThis is a film that is filled with praise before I went into it, by the end I found it just to be fine, I wouldn’t consider it a great and in fact not one I would be watching again.


Overall: Overly hyped movie.




Michael Mann Weekend – Public Enemies (2009)

publicDirector: Michael Mann

Writer: Ronan Bennett, Michael Mann, Ann Biderman (Screenplay) Bryan Burrough (Book)

Starring: Johnny Depp, Christian Bale, Jason Clarke, James Russo, Stephen Dorff, Channing Tatum, Rory Cochrane, Carey Mulligan, Emilie De Ravin, Marion Cotillard


Plot: The Feds try to take down notorious American gangsters John Dillinger, Baby Face Nelson and Pretty Boy Floyd during a booming crime wave in the 1930s.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Strong History Lesson


Story: Public Enemies starts with John Dillinger (Depp) and his men including Red (Clarke), Pete (Wenham) Homer (Dorff) and Walter (Russo) pulling off a daring prison break as he looks to re-enter the world of bank robbing. We also meet Bureau investigator Melvin Purvis (Bale) who hunts down all the criminals he can and with his added sharpshooting ability is one of the most feared men for criminals.

With the crime level increasing J Edgar Hoover (Crudup) is trying to get the FBI underway with Melvin Purvis being the newly promoted special field agent in Chicago. We follow how Dillinger is trying to keep one step ahead of Melvin through the years as he is becoming American’s Most Wanted.

Public Enemies gives us the story of one of the most known criminals in American history that shows just how John Dillinger crimes changed the way America dealt with criminals. We get a good history lesson which also shows the loyalty that was shown by the men involved. We have everything run smoothly between the two sides where we always see the planning to stay ahead.


Actor Review


Johnny Depp: John Dillinger is America’s Most Wanted criminal who keeps escaping from jail and going back to his ways of robbing banks. He is smooth talking but equally honest to his men when it comes to loyalty. He personally doesn’t go for the kill preferring to not harm the people he is stealing from the banks. John shines in this leading role showing he has all the ability in the world.john

Christian Bale: Melvin Purvis is the sharpshooter that has been trailing John Dillinger, he is trying to change the way the authorities are thinking wen tracking down the criminals. Christian does well in this role as the tracker of criminals.melvis

Marion Cotillard: Billie Frechette is the love interest of John Dillinger who takes his eye but equal turn out to be his weakness. Marion does a good job in this role being the weakness to the leading man

Billy Crudup: J. Edgar Hoover is the man who pushes the new formation of interstate authority to lower the crime rate in America, he assigns Melvin on Dillinger’s tail. Billy is good playing one of the more iconic men in history even from just a supporting role.hoover

Support Cast: Public Enemies has a strong supporting cast which has good names that all help really well.

Director Review: Michael MannMichael gives us a good modern filmed but classic era gangster movie.


Biographical: Public Enemies shows how all these real characters clashed through their crimes.

Crime: Public Enemies shows how organised the criminals were while robbing the banks.

History: Public Enemies shows how the history of the Bureau trying to become bigger causes a change in how interstate law is conducted.

Settings: Public Enemies creates the settings very well to make you feel like you are part of the current time period.
Special Effects
: Public Enemies has great effects when needed but doesn’t just use them for the sake of it.

Suggestion: Public Enemies is one for all the gangster fans to watch and see a real life criminal and how he acts. (Watch)


Best Part: Cinema scene

Worst Part: Slightly too long.

Favourite Quote: John Dillinger ‘Listen, doll. That’s ’cause they’re all about where people come from. The only thing that’s important is where someone’s going.


Believability: Based on the real people involved.

Chances of Tears: No

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No


Oscar Chances: No

Budget: $100 Million

Runtime: 2 Hours 20 Minutes

Tagline: America’s Most Wanted


Overall: Very enjoyable true life crime story


Michael Mann Weekend – Blackhat (2015)

blackhatDirector: Michael Mann

Writer: Morgan Davis Foehl (Screenplay)

Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Leehom Wang, Wei Tang, Viola Davis, Holt McCallany, Andy On, Ritchie Coster


Plot: A furloughed convict and his American and Chinese partners hunt a high-level cybercrime network from Chicago to Los Angeles to Hong Kong to Jakarta.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Lacklustre Action Thriller


Story: Blackhat starts when a Chinese nuclear planet gets hacked leading to an explosion causing the whole world to take notice. Chinese use Chen Dawai (Wang) to liaise with the US and former hacker gone bad Nick Hathaway (Hemsworth) whose code was co-written with Dawai. The two old friends being marshalled by FBI agent Carol Barrett (Davis) and Dawai sister Chen Lien (Tang) must use all the tricks they know to find the hacker.

What follows is a race around the world to uncover just who the hackers really are and what their plan is other than destruction.

Blackhat really does end up just trying to be a completely unbelievable action film that struggles to even establish a villain, which is hugely disappointing because of how much they try to put on the leads. I struggled to even know what the villains name was let alone hi motive which has to go down as poor story telling. We get a lot of tech talk along with a lot of computer action which takes away the main reason for liking the action we like.


Actor Review


Chris Hemsworth: Nick Hathaway is the brilliant hacker who created malware which was used to blow up a nuclear plant in China, he is released from prison to join forces with both US and Chinese intelligence to find the hacker even if it means getting up to his old tricks. Chris does well with what he has to work with in this role.nick

Leehom Wang: Chen Dawai is the old friend of Nick’s who brings Nick into the investigation of what is happening with the hacker, between them they can both solve the problem from either side of the law. Leehom does a solid enough job in this role but struggles to look stronger than Hemsworth.

Wei Tang: Chen Lien is the sister of Dawai who is on this mission too as she starts a fling with Nick as they get closer to finding out who is responsible. Wei gives us a basic supporting performance without standing out.

Viola Davis: Carol Barrett is the FBI agent trying to keep tabs on Nick as she has to decide to follow the rules or catch the villains. Viola plays your typical authority role without being memorable.

Support Cast: Blackhat struggles to push the supporting cast to the next level with most of them being forgettable and the villain almost non-existent.

Director Review: Michael MannMichael has given us some brilliant films through the years but this one really has come up very short.


Action: Blackhat has basic action with a few fight scenes, firefights and running nothing that will be memorable.

Crime: Blackhat tries to play us on hacker versus hacker but the crimes being committed just don’t seem that important to the characters.

Mystery: Blackhat tries to create a mystery that doesn’t get too much to keep us guessing though.

Thriller: Blackhat doesn’t manage to bring us to the edge of our seats because by the end you have lost interest in the final plot.

Settings: Blackhat just takes us all over the world to try and make the film look like it is a global issue.
Special Effects
: Blackhat has basic special effects when need but doesn’t rely on them.

Suggestion: Blackhat is one to miss really, it just doesn’t have enough to pull you in to care about what is going on. (Miss It)


Best Part: Hemsworth does well.

Worst Part: Lack of back story behind the villains.


Believability: No

Chances of Tears: No

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No


Oscar Chances: No

Budget: $70 Million

Runtime: 2 Hours 13 Minutes

Tagline: We are no longer in control

Overall: Disappointing action thriller that lacks that spark


Michael Mann Weekend – Collateral (2004)

collertalDirector: Michael Mann

Writer: Stuart Beattie (Screenplay)

Starring: Tom Cruise, Jamie Foxx, Jada Pinkett Smith, Mark Ruffalo, Peter Berg, Bruce McGill, Javier Bardem


Plot: A cab driver finds himself the hostage of an engaging contract killer as he makes his rounds from hit to hit during one night in Los Angeles. He must find a way to save both himself and one last victim.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Slick Thriller


Story: Collateral starts as we see stranger Vincent (Cruise) arriving in Los Angeles for a job. We also meet mild-mannered cab driver Max (Foxx) who knows all the streets in Los Angeles, the two end up on a collision cause as Max gets talked into taking Vincent around Los Angeles for the night, that is until Max learns that Vincent is a hitman.

Vincent forces Max into taking him around town as he completes his missions as he looks to avoid trouble, but also offers him a chance to teach him about standing up for himself and the morals about the murders he is committing. The two end up getting caught up in the middle of a cat and mouse chase around Los Angeles all in one night.

Collateral is a thriller that fills all the cat and mouse we love to see, nothing is overplayed and with everything taking place over one night we get a real feel for the timing side of the story. I do feel the supporting characters do get neglected which does end up working on both scales, we get more time with the leading two but doesn’t make us care about them. Overall this is a good slick story that all works for the genre.


Actor Review


Tom Cruise: Vincent is the hitman who has come to Los Angeles to complete a job over the course of one night, he ends up using Max as his taxi service for the night. He kills anyone who gets in the way but he also doesn’t want to kill anyone he doesn’t need too. He comes off like a good guy and is always good at his job. Tom gives us a great performance in this role as hitman.vinceent

Jamie Foxx: Max is the mild-mannered taxi driver who knows every single street in Los Angeles, he ends up picking up Vincent who puts him through the middle of the worst night of his life as he had to assist him on his killing spree or be killed. Jamie goes toe to toe with Tom which is always difficult for any big named actor.max

Jada Pinkett Smith: Annie is the hot shot lawyer that happens to be a passenger in Max’s cab before Vincent, the two get flirting and we get the potential love interest for Max in the future. Jada does a solid job but doesn’t get the screen time we would like to see.

Mark Ruffalo: Fanning is one of the cops hot the trail of what is happening on the night when one of his men went missing, he puts things together faster than the rest of the authorities. Mark does well in this supporting role but doesn’t make a big enough impact in the end.fanning

Support Cast: Collateral doesn’t get the supporting cast enough screen time to make much impact in the final outcome.

Director Review: Michael MannMichael brings his style to the hitman film which all works for the final cat and mouse between Max and Vincent.


Crime: Collateral has a good crime story going on with the bigger picture to what Vincent is up to.

Thriller: Collateral keeps you on the edge of your seat while you watch all interaction between Max and Vincent.

Settings: Collateral use the one night in Los Angeles for the story which all looks very cinematic throughout.
Special Effects
: Collateral has good effects with the kills but doesn’t turn to them too often.

Suggestion: Collateral is one to watch for all the crime thriller fans out there. (Watch)


Best Part: First kill reaction.

Worst Part: Lack of support character time.


Believability: No

Chances of Tears: No

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No


Oscar Chances: Nominated for 2 Oscars

Budget: $65 Million

Runtime: 2 Hours

Tagline: It started like any other night

Trivia: The seating of the two leads was crucial to certain scenes. For their more intimate exchanges, Cruise would sit directly behind Foxx, out of his peripheral vision and therefore making him more vulnerable and uncertain of his opponent.


Overall: Very enjoyable thriller that keeps you on the edge of your seat as Cruise shines yet again.