Triple Frontier (2019)

Director: J.C. Chandor

Writer: J.C. Chandor, Mark Boal (Screenplay)

Starring: Ben Affleck, Oscar Isaac, Charlie Hunnam, Garrett Hedlund, Pedro Pascal, Adria Arjona

 

Plot: Five former Special Forces operatives reunite to plan a heist in a sparsely populated multi-border zone of South America. For the first time in their prestigious careers these unsung heroes undertake this dangerous mission for self instead of country. But when events take an unexpected turn and threaten to spiral out of control, their skills, their loyalties and their morals are pushed to a breaking point in an epic battle for survival.

 

Runtime: 2 Hours 5 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Basic Action Heist Film

 

Story: Triple Frontier starts military police officer working in South America Santiago (Isaac) is getting tired of the drug lord causing the pain and suffering to the locals, he comes up with a plan using local Yovanna (Arjona) to get back at him. Santiago returns to America to put a team together with his former squad Tom (Affleck), William (Hunnam), Ben (Hedlund) and Francisco (Pascal) to help him in South America.

The team look at the job with Santiago needing to talk them into completing a heist against drug lord, giving the war heroes a moment to have earnt the money they should have after their years of service, can they complete the job and escape, that is the question.

 

Thoughts on Triple Frontier

 

Characters – Tom ‘Redfly’ Davis is the captain of the unit, he is struggling in the real world trying to be a real estate agent, living in his ex-wife’s garage, he wants to be able to send his girls to college and however reluctant he is to complete this job, but when he sees the potential reward, he is the plan behind the heist. Santiago ‘Pope’ Garcia is the member of the team working in South America, he has been fighting this drug lord for 3 years now and has seen a window of opportunity to take on the drug lord. He brings his old unit together to help a local pushing them all into a job that they can do, but didn’t plan to do, but can do. William ‘Ironhead’ Miller has been giving talks to young soldiers about his experiences, in and out of the military, preparing them for life in both situations, he agrees to help just for some action in his life. Ben Miller is William’s brother, he has turned to MMA for money where he is a good fighter, but it is only a matter of time before he gets hurt. Francisco ‘Catfish’ Morales is the pilot of the unit, he has lost his licence in the real-world, this could give him he security he no longer has in life. Yovanna is the local that has made a deal with Santiago to get the job done, she is doing it for her brother who has fallen onto the wrong side of the law.

PerformancesBen Affleck is strong in the leading role, he does give us the most interesting of the five characters because he makes us see the subtle problems the war machine has on the soldiers. Oscar Isaac is the highlight of the performance because he is playing the character balancing the most. Charlie Hunnam, Garrett Hedlund and Pedro Pascal complete the unit, but sadly we don’t see them do much more than being the rest of the unit soldiers.

StoryThe story here follows a former military unit who travel to South America to complete a heist on a drug lord, what they end up facing is a battle to survive against the locals and elements to make it out alive. This does start of with a simple idea of a heist, which surprisingly is done within the first hour or so, most of the film is the journey to escape which sees them facing different obstacles which become increasingly more difficult as the journey unfolds. We do have the themes of soldiers struggling to deal with everyday life here, which is why they go on the heist, this is important, but sadly we only see this in one of the four men that go on the mission. The drug lord doesn’t seem like that big of a threat either, which is strange if we are being honest. This does feel like one of the tried and tested stories we have seen before, which can be enjoyed, but never tests us.

Action/Adventure/Crime The action is all military based, the chase scenes, the formations everything feels very calculated in what we see. The adventure takes the men to a new country, one where they must try to figure out how to escape from, it will test them and their training. The crime is the heist they are looking to commit, against a drug lord.

SettingsThe film is set in South America, this brings us into the jungle environment for the journey and sees us take on the drug lords of the area. It does offer something new for the heist genre though.


Scene of the Movie –
The cliff top shoot out.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Not learning enough about the rest of the unit.

Final ThoughtsThis is a hard hitting heist movie, it does have a close unit, but it does seem to lack a presence of a villainous figure for the second half of the film.

 

Overall: By the Books military heist film.

Rating

 

 

Oscar Isaac Weekend – Life Itself (2018)

Director: Dan Fogelman

Writer: Dan Fogelman (Screenplay)

Starring: Oscar Isaac, Olivia Wilde, Annette Bening, Mandy Patinkin, Jean Smart, Olivia Cooke, Antonio Banderas

 

Plot: As a young New York City couple goes from college romance to marriage and the birth of their first child, the unexpected twists of their journey create reverberations that echo over continents and through lifetimes.


Tagline – We’re all part of a greater story

Runtime: 1 Hour 57 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Storytelling Done Wrong

 

Story: Life Itself starts as we meet Will (Isaac) a depressed man whose wife Abby (Wilde) has left him, he is going through therapy with Dr Cait Morris (Bening) who he is telling the story of how they met, got engaged and were expecting their first child, only for tragedy to strike.

Will’s father Irwin (Painkin) raises their daughter Dylan as she must live in the world like her mother did. Dylan (Cooke) now 21 and ready to experience the world herself, live her own life.

 

Thoughts on Life Itself

 

Characters – Will is the depressed writer, he is telling the story of how he met Abby, fell in love and planned to start a family, we see the positives from the relationship they had and see how he is now struggling with life without his wife. Abby is the woman Will meets and falls in love with, she has had a tragic life with Will be the highlight of it. Dr Cait Morris is trying to help Will through the problems he is facing, being left by his wife, she knows the truth and is planning to make his face it one day. Irwin is the father of Will that raises Dylan, he does everything he can to make sure she has a wonderful life. Dylan is the daughter that has lived a life of tragedy, now 21 she is ready for the next stage of her life. Mr Saccione runs a vineyard which has a connection the tragic events of the film.

PerformancesThe performances in this film are on the average level, mostly because none of the talent gets enough time to shine, we seem to waste the talents of Oscar Isaac who does start interesting only for his part of the story to end, while Olivia Wilde, Mandy Patinkin, Olivia Cooke and Antonio Banderas just get time to do anything else.

StoryThe story is easily the most confusing and overly trying one you will see, we try to connect many lives together over many different time periods to show how life can happen and you never know the connection you could have with people. It is the way this story is told which leads to most of the problems, it could have work in drawn together better, but it just feels like we had a weak story ad went, lets stick an extension on this one and we get this a couple of times which just makes us feel uninvested in any of the characters we are meeting. This just leave us feeling empty and mostly bored through the story telling process.

RomanceThe idea behind this film is about romance being found in the most unusual place, which is fine, though this is too on the face with it.

SettingsThe film uses New York as the central location for this film, it works for the most part only it can come up short in places.


Scene of the Movie –
Ummm pass.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The story telling process.

Final ThoughtsThis is a weak, boring and unconnectable story that tries too hard to give us something bigger, while the ambition could be praised, the craft fails.

 

Overall: Weak and dull.

Rating

 

 

Oscar Isaac Weekend – Sucker Punch (2011)

Director: Zack Snyder

Writer: Zack Snyder, Steve Shibuya (Screenplay)

Starring: Emily Browning, Abbie Cornish, Jena Malone, Vanessa Hudgens, Jamie Chung, Carla Gugino, Oscar Isaac, Jon Hamm, Scott Glenn

 

Plot: A young girl is institutionalized by her abusive stepfather, retreating to an alternative reality as a coping strategy, envisioning a plan to help her escape.


Tagline – You Will Be Unprepared.

Runtime: 1 Hour 50 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Sexy & Stylish

 

Story: Sucker Punch Starts when Babydoll (Browning) is se to a mental institute by her evil step-father, looking to cope with this new world, she creates an alternative reality where the other patients Sweet Pea (Cornish), Rocket (Malone), Blondie (Hudgens) and Amber (Chung) entertain clients for Blue Jones (Isaac) the orderly who in this world is a gangster.

Babydoll has a plan to escape which involved winning over the girls, most support him, while Sweet Pea isn’t so happy to go along with the plan, with each performance putting the girls in a life or death situation outside of the current reality.

 

Thoughts on Sucker Punch

 

Characters – Babydoll is thrown into a mental home after trying to defend her younger sister from their abusive stepfather, here she knows she has five days before it is lights out, which means she must plan her escape, which sees her create alternative reality where she can escape the hands of the people who will end her life. Sweet Pea is the eldest the girls in the home, she is most opposed to going through with the escape plan, believe it will get the rest of the girls in trouble. Rocket is the first of the girls to let Babydoll in after being rescued by her, she guides her around the home teaching her just what they need to know to survive. Blondie and Amber some off as the two naïve of the girls as they will go along with any idea which would make their lives easier. Dr Gorski looks after the girls preparing them for their performances. Blue Jones is the one that runs the club, an orderly in the home that holds the key to the only exit.

PerformancesEmily Browning in the leading role fits the part perfectly, we needed her character to look the youngest of the group. Abbie Cornish fits the oldest of the girl’s role well too because she see her vulnerable side through the film, while trying to be the strongest. Jena Malone plays the middle ground between the girls well as we see just how conflicted her character becomes through the film. When we get into the supporting cast, we do know that we performances that fit the film without looking out of place in any point in the film.

StoryThe story can be cut down to a simple escape plan movie, that would be the simplest way to describe the story, only this isn’t a simple movie. It creates worlds, within worlds to cope with an impending outcome for Babygirl. The idea that we jump into other realities does help the film feel a lot more enjoyable because the wildly imaginative ideas only improve the story, even if it could have borrowed from many subgenres. While this does have a comic book feel and you could easily see more chapters being added to make more adventures, it does have to go down as original in the story front, something that shouldn’t ever be criticised.

Action/FantasyThe action is massive set pieces each one from a different eras from a samurai to war, they all work and feel unique to this film, which is filled with fantasy ideas of just what the characters use to create the world they can fight through.

SettingsThe film uses the settings to show us just where the girl’s minds will go through the performances, each one makes the mission to escape feel like we are fighting for something.

Special EffectsThe effects in the film are fantastic, they show us just how you can create something this visually stunning no matter how big it could be.


Scene of the Movie –
Dragon fight.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Blondie and Amber are too similar.

Final ThoughtsThis is a truly ambitious movie, it shows us just how you can make an original movie which will completely go against anything you believed you would be seeing.

 

Overall: Brave, ambitious, wildly over the top, what more could you want?

Rating

 

 

Russell Crowe Weekend – Robin Hood (2010)

Director: Ridley Scott

Writer: Brian Helgeland (Screenplay) Brian Helgeland, Ethan Reiff, Cyrus Voris (Story)

Starring: Russell Crowe, Cate Blanchett, Max von Sydow, William Hurt, Mark Strong, Oscar Isaac, Danny Huston

 

Plot: In 12th century England, Robin and his band of marauders confront corruption in a local village and lead an uprising against the crown that will forever alter the balance of world power.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Slow Burner

 

Story: Robin Hood starts with England at war with France, King Richard the Lionheart is leading his men which does include archer Robin Longstride (Crowe), when Richard is killed in battle the kingdom of England falls into Prince John (Isaac) a stricter ruler that wants to tax the country.

Robin returning a sword finds himself needing to pretend to be Marion Loxley’s (Blanchett) husband in Nottingham, while Godfrey (Strong) continues to play both sides as the French look to take advantage of John’s weaknesses. Robin starts to act in the way we know, stealing from what is heading towards the king to return to the poor but how long can he keep this up?

 

Thoughts on Robin Hood

 

Characters/PerformanceRobin Longstribe is an archer with loyal friends, he fights next to King Richard but once he is killed he wants to avoid returning to the new king, he soon finds himself needing to become the hero for the people of the land against the new enemy. Marion is the strong lady that wants what is best for her people wanting to lead in a time where women wouldn’t lead. Prince John becomes king but he is stricter than the previous king as he wants money from people who don’t have it. Godfrey is a man that has been playing both sides to raise himself through the ranks in England or France whoever was to win.

Performance wise, Russell Crowe is fine in this role but if you want to see him at his best Gladiator is superior. Cate Blanchett was an interesting choice here but she does well with her screen time. Mark Strong is always a good choice for villain and does what is needed here. The cast in general is all fine without being great in what is a solid but slow burning film.

StoryRobin Hood is easily one of the most iconic stories in British legend, we have seen plenty of versions of his actions of stealing from the reach giving to the poor, but this time we story has sucked all the fun out of the story and turned it into a medieval story that feels just like everything we have seen in the sub-genre before.

Action/Adventure/RomanceThe action is everything we have come to expect swords, shields and arrows being used throughout. The adventure side of the film is almost non-existent and calling it a romance film well there isn’t any.

SettingsThe settings are the only highlight as each look like the correct time in question.

Special EffectsThe effects all work for the film without becoming too heavily involved.

Final ThoughtsThis is a poor re-imaging or the iconic hero that just doesn’t make the subject matter interesting.

 

Overall: Uninspiring Robin Hood Story.

Rating

 

 

Annihilation (2018)

Director: Alex Garland

Writer: Alex Garland (Screenplay) Jeff VanderMeer (Novel)

Starring: Natalie Portman, Tessa Thompson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Oscar Isaac, Gina Rodriguez, David Gyasi, Tuva Novotny

 

Plot: A biologist signs up for a dangerous, secret expedition where the laws of nature don’t apply.


Tagline – Fear What’s Inside

Runtime: 1 Hour 55 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Visually Stunning, Mind Testing Sci-Fi Spectacular

 

Story: Annihilation starts as Lena (Portman) is still feeling the effects of her husband Kane’s (Isaac) yearlong disappearance, only for him to turn up randomly. Kane has returned from a secret mission, which has bought Lena into the mysterious shimmer that has had strange effects with nobody known to return other than Kane.

Learning about a new team of scientist of military, Lena joins the team of Dr Ventress (Leigh), Anya (Rodriguez), Cass (Novotny) and Josie (Thompson) to learn the answers of what happened to her husband. As the group go further into the Shimmer the bigger the threats they find, something they have never had to explain as science isn’t working the way they are used too.

 

Thoughts on Annihilation

 

Characters – Lena is a biologist that has spent the last year wondering just where her husband has gone, only for him to return and finding herself drawn to a secret investigation. Lena uses her skills to help a team of scientists in this mysterious Shimmer where science isn’t what she has spent her life learning. Out of the five women team, she is the calmest, not picking a side, just planning on seeing where this science takes her. Dr Ventress is leading the team into the Shimmer, she has her own motivation for leading the team and does her best to keep the team together. Josie is the youngest member of the team, quiet genius inside, but not experienced in the field compared to the rest of the team. Kane is the husband soldier that went missing, returned he isn’t the same man, he is the motivation for Lena to go into the Shimmer.

PerformancesNatalie Portman is great in this leading role, she must balance a scientific mind, a broken-hearted character and truth hunter role, which she does with ease. Looking into the supporting cast we get great performance from all involved, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Oscar Isaac, Tessa Thompson and Gina Rodriguez.

StoryThis is a sci-fi mystery that will make you think, it follows a team of scientists that go into an unknown Shimmer, where the previous teams have never returned from. The rules of science have gone out the window which only add the questions we love to see and offers up the chance to be left wondering just where things will go next in this one. We do go through the idea that each member of the team changes through their experience and for scientist this does seem strange. This is what the cinema audience has been craving for, a story we need to see over plenty of the different popular movies.

Adventure/Fantasy/Horror/Mystery/Sci-FiThe film uses the adventure elements of the film by taking our five women into the unknown land which has elements of fantasy as the mystery side of just what is happening in the sci-fi world our characters enter. For a sci-fi movie this both creates a wonderful world and poses the questions we enjoy asking ourselves about how the world goes around. We do get horror moments too which surprise when they hit.

SettingsThe Shimmer is one of the most interesting, visually beautiful places we have ever had a sci-fi movie, it feels like a new world even if it is set on Earth.

Special EffectsIf this movie isn’t an early contender for the Oscar for best visual effects, I really don’t know what else could beat it. This uses the effects to make this one of the most beautiful movies you will ever see.


Scene of the Movie –
The final act, will make you question everything you have seen, while also keeping you on edge through the film.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Not being able to see this in the cinema! Not by choice either.

Final ThoughtsThis is the sci-fi movie of the year, the one I have waited for, the one I want to see again. It makes you think, it looks beautiful, it sounds the disturbing and engaging with each use of the sound and music, making this the must watch movie of the year.

 

Overall: Must watch sci-fi movie

Rating