Beast of Burden (2018)

Director: Jesper Ganslandt

Writer: Adam Hoelzel (Screenplay)

Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Grace Gummer, Pablo Schreiber, Robert Wisdom, Cesar Perez, David Joseph Martinez, Mark Smith

Plot: Sean Haggerty only has an hour to deliver his illegal cargo. An hour to reassure a drug cartel, a hitman, and the DEA that nothing is wrong. An hour to make sure his wife survives. And he must do it all from the cockpit of his Cessna.


Tagline – Lines are meant to be crossed.

Runtime: 1 Hour 29 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Tensionless Thriller

Story: Beast of Burden starts with Sean (Radcliffe) flying his small plane from Mexico to America, he starts to receive a host of phone calls that explain why he is doing this mission, first it is his sick wife Jen (Gummer) to whom he is trying to get the money for her medical bills, we have the drug cartel of whose product he is carrying, the DEA agent Bloom (Schreiber) who believe he is carrying a package which will give him an new life and the mysterious Mallory (Wisdom) who is making sure the job is getting done.

AS Sean is flying the stakes get changed and he is left needing to try and make a decision, one he simply can’t make, needing to think fast can he figure out a way to save his wife and clear his name or will he just put one side of the mission above the rest?

Thoughts on Beast of Burden

Characters – Sean is an ex-military pilot, he has turned to doing illegal mission across the border, we see him on one of his missions which sees him trying to get out of this life, but needing to balance the authorities that are working with him, the cartel who want their product and his wife’s safety after she is held captive by a hitman. Sean only shows us his life through flashbacks as he is trapped in the plane needing to make his decision. The other characters only appear in flashbacks or over the phone, we have Jen who is Sean’s wife that has been through a tragic event with him, Bloom the DEA agent trying to give him a new life for some information and Mallory that has the same employer as Sean, making sure the job is done correctly.

PerformancesDaniel Radcliffe isn’t the most convincing in this film, he seems to struggle with his American accent and shows too much panic in a situation that a pilot should show calmer decision-making. The supporting cast barely get a look in which doesn’t give them a chance to show their acting skills.

StoryThe story here follows a pilot that is left with what seems like an impossible choice while on his latest mission, which as seen him working for the cartel and the DEA to try and give his wife a new life after they suffered a tragic event in their life. This story does try to capture the similar ideas of ‘Buried’ and ‘Locke’ which saw one character trying to sort out a difficult situation from a location they couldn’t just walk away from, only they stick in the flashbacks to show us everything that has happened, which only leaves us not needing to think about what his situation could be like and just spoon-feeding us how we are meant to feel.

Action/CrimeThe action in the film is very basic, we don’t seem to get too involved with anything close up, leaving the action around the crime world that Sean has found himself in, which is cartels and agents battle over the drug trafficking.

SettingsIf the film had remained in the plane for the whole film without the flashbacks, we would have had a better use of setting for the film.


Scene of the Movie – Bye drone.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The flashbacks.

Final Thoughts This is a thriller that just doesn’t capture the magic in a bottle that other films with solo locations have used to their advantage in the past.

Overall: Disappointing thriller.

Rating

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First Man (2018)

Director: Damien Chazelle

Writer: Josh Singer (Screenplay) James R Hansen (Book)

Starring: Ryan Gosling, Claire Foy, Corey Stoll, Pablo Schreiber, Christopher Abbot, Ethan Embry, Ciaran Hinds, Jason Clarke, Kyle Chandler

 

Plot: A look at the life of the astronaut, Neil Armstrong, and the legendary space mission that led him to become the first man to walk on the Moon on July 20, 1969.


Tagline – Experience the impossible journey to the Moon.

Runtime: 2 Hours 21 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Beautiful Biopic

 

Story: First Man starts as we see how Neil Armstrong (Gosling) can solve problems in flight with one of his test mission to the limits of the atmosphere going wrong before he saved it, we meet his family wife Janet (Foy) and children Richard and Karen, we see how they suffered a tragic loss of young Karen, which drove him to apply to become an astronaut.

We follow the astronaut training program which showed Neil’s abilities to solve problems even after seeing his friends around him lose their lives to the pursuit of space. We follow up to the legendary mission he will always been known for as he was the first man to walk on the moon.

 

Thoughts on First Man

 

Characters – These characters are and were real people, Neil Armstrong is always going to be remembered as the first man to walk on the moon, we see how this shy man managed to overcome his own personal tragedies to achieve this as we see how he reacts and deals with everything that gets thrown at him until he made history. Janet is his wife, she also suffers through the tragedies, she will give Neil all the support he needs to make sure he will keep his promises to come home, we mostly watch how she must keep the life for their children normal and calm. Edward Higgins White is one of the fellow astronauts, one that becomes close friends with him through the training and the program, he is the one that will offer a shoulder if Neil ever needed it. We meet many famous names from the astronaut programs each gets there moment, we know Buzz Aldrin was onboard Apollo 11 and of the other big named astronauts we know Jim Lovell from the Apollo 13 mission.

PerformancesRyan Gosling gives us a magnificent performance as the icon of astronauts, he shows us how shy, timid and genius Neil was, never making him a cocky man, this simple performance makes you understand each emotion he is going through. Claire Foy sets away from the small screen to give us a flawless performance as the wife who must remain strong, but dealing with anxiety of the unknown through each mission. The rest of the cast are great through the film, each actor gets to pay the respect to the man they are performing as.

StoryThe story here follows Neil Armstrong’s life from 1961 to his moon landing in 1969. We do have plenty of interesting aspects to his life, be it the battle to remain strong after his daughter’s death or the feeling of proving himself worthy of being part of the astronaut program. While these are all wonderful to watch, they do feel like they are being told, like, this is what happened here, then this, then this and so on. It never feels like a smooth story and the movie does make out that Neil was an excellent astronaut, but terrible PR man, he didn’t do anything stupid or risky, he lack charisma that other astronauts had, he was just the right choice for the job. The biggest warning you must have before going in, is that this does follow his life over the space program, yes, we do have parts of the space program and they are the most entertaining parts, but we also follow his life away from this.

Biopic/History8 years in the life of the most iconic man to go into space, we see his lowest point in his life, to the crowning achievement, nobody can ever take away from him. The history side of the film shows us the key moments in the space race, if you know the basics you will know these moments.

SettingsThe film recreates the settings brilliantly, be it the world around the space race, or the cockpits the astronauts get rammed into with little space for any freedom on these deadly missions.

Special EffectsThe effects are mesmerizing, when we are in space we are left stunned by the beauty of the views these men had. The film is also used to make it feel like it is shot for the same time the events took place.


Scene of the Movie –
Apollo 11

That Moment That Annoyed Me Too many close ups.

Final ThoughtsAs a space race fan this manages to shed new light on the man who made history, it gave us brilliant performance, effects and shows us there was more behind the man than just the icon.

 

Overall: Must watch biopic.

Rating

 

 

Skyscraper (2018)

Director: Rawson Marshall Thurber

Writer: Rawson Marshall Thurber (Screenplay)

Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Neve Campbell, Pablo Schreiber, Noah Taylor, Kevin Rankin, McKenna Roberts, Byron Mann, Tzi Ma, Chin Han

 

Plot: FBI Hostage Rescue Team leader and U.S. war veteran Will Sawyer now assesses security for skyscrapers. On assignment in Hong Kong he finds the tallest, safest building in the world suddenly ablaze, and he’s been framed for it. A wanted man on the run, Will must find those responsible, clear his name and somehow rescue his family who are trapped inside the building…above the fire line.


Tagline – The sky is the limit

Runtime: 1 Hour 42 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Spectacularly Entertaining

 

Story: Skyscraper starts as we learn how Will Sawyer (Johnson) first met his wife Sarah (Campbell) in an FBI Hostage Rescue Team mission gone wrong, which left him without a leg, 10-years later he works in security, figuring out and assessing building for potential hazards. His latest job is his big break, on the biggest building in the world ‘The Pearl’ built by architect Zhao Long Ji (Han).

When everything looks like it is about to pass the tests, Kores Botha (Moller) finds a flaw in the system, setting the building on fire in an attempt to get Zhao, the problem is Will’s family is in the building and will stop at nothing to save his family.

 

Thoughts on Skyscraper

 

Characters – Will Sawyer is a former FBI Hostage Rescue team leader, wounded in action, turned to security, he has a small business which will giving him the recommendation to work on the biggest building in the world. the now family man nervous at the thought of this opportunity must prove how safe this building is. He does, but when criminals have other thoughts, he must return to his rescue ways to save his family from the situation. THIS IS NOT A JOHN MCCLANE MARK II, his only goal is to save his family, not to stop the criminals. Sarah is Will’s wife, one of the surgeons that helped save his life, she does what she can to keep the children safe, remaining calm and showing herself a hand at self-defence. Zhao Long Ji is the architect who has designed this brilliant world changing building, he has everything down to make it look stunning, operate smoothly and help the world by creating jobs and running eco-friendly, he is the target of the criminals who want something he has. Kores Botha is the leader of the attack, he has been an old nemesis of Zhao through construction, this is a slightly more generic villain, but his cold-hearted delivery is just as striking as you need him to be. We do get a host of side characters including, the two kids, they are good for the film, the cops on the outside trying to put the pieces together, other members of the criminal gang with Xia being the standout of them and the old friend which got him the job.

PerformancesDwayne Johnson is an actor you all know I will watch everything he does, the genre he shines best in, is action, in this film he gives one of his best action performances to date, he gives his character the feeling he might no succeed even though he looks like he could knock you out with one punch. Neve Campbell is good in the support role showing its about time we saw her back on the bring screen, Roland Moller as the villain is very strong too because we do get moments when you are scared of what he will do. The rest of the cast are good throughout even if we would have liked to have seen more.

StoryThe story is a perfect playlist of how to keep action simple without needing to make anything complicated. One giant building, one fire in said building, one stranded family, one group of criminals and the reluctant hero going against the odds to try and save his family. Those are the core elements of the story and as I said, we don’t need more, this is simple enough to give us everything we wanted. We could look at the minor negative in the story and that would be the amount of characters we do meet outside of the building situation, while I know it is part of the bigger picture, they don’t have the same intensity as the building moments. The biggest weirdly enjoyable part of the story was watching how the crowd just stood around watching on the big screen cheer, gasping like the audience watching.

Action The action set pieces in the film are brilliant, breath taking and truly edge of your seat, seeing Dwayne Johnson pull this off and make you feel like something could go wrong is what it is all about, praise must be giving to a fight sequence too, where Will must fight on one leg.

SettingsThe setting of being in the Pearl was fantastic, we know the escape is next to impossible and watching how this unfolds is edge of your seat, when we step away however it does lose the levels of anticipation we would have liked.

Special EffectsThe building being on fire look amazing, well realistically I don’t actually want to see buildings on fire, but other elements of the special effects go towards making Will’s leg injury seem like the norm for Johnson.


Scene of the Movie –
The crane.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Two big lines from the trailer are not in the movie, they both felt important for the situations we were in.

Final ThoughtsThis isn’t just a Die Hard modernised, this is a stand alone action thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat and show you all that Dwayne Johnson is the king of the action genre at the moment.

 

Overall: Must watch action thrill ride.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Action Movies – # – 13 Hours (2016)

Director: Michael Bay

Writer: Chuck Hogan (Screenplay) Mitchell Zuckoff (Book)

Starring: John Krasinski, James Badge Dale, Pablo Schreiber, David Denman, Dominic Fumusa, Max Martini

 

Plot: As an American ambassador is killed during an attack at a U.S. compound in Libya, a security team struggles to make sense out of the chaos.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Great Action Thriller

 

Story: 13 Hours starts with the history of what had been going on in Libya leading up to the events of the secret CIA base that had been watching for black market deals, this base was held by on 6 elite soldiers. The team is led by Tyrone ‘Rone’ Woods (Dale) and includes the men his trusts Jack Silva (Krasinski), Tanto (Schreiber), Boon (Denman), Tig (Fumusa) and Oz (Martini).

The team work in Benghazi the one city in the world where all the other embassies have left but the American one refuses to leave. As the weeks go by they go through chases but mostly just waiting for something to go wrong. When the US Embassy gets invaded the unit must wait for the moment to fight back and now they find themselves in the middle of the chaos needing to survive using all their skills.

Thoughts on 13 Hours

 

Characters/PerformanceJack Silva is the latest member of the unit, he has left his family behind for what should have been an easier role but not in the middle of a deadly conflict he must use all his skills to survive. Rone is the leader of the unit, he knows how to think fast and knows how to keep his unit in order. The rest of the soldiers all come off like something we have seen before, not getting enough extra development.

Performance wise, John Krasinski brings us a performance not many people believed he could have done and this is great to see. James Badge Dale is also good throughout the film. the rest of the cast do all do great jobs as we are left believing they are real soldiers.

StoryThe story is based on the real events, we get to see how the Americans had to fight against the Libyan revolution against the odds in a desperate attempt to survive the night in hopes of getting rescued. This is slightly long as a story but it does work as we get time to look at the human aspect pre-and during the event in question. There isn’t any twists in the story it is just about the survival.

Action/Thriller/WarThe action is big and well created war like battle sequences that make us believe we are in the middle of the battle. We are left on the edge of our seat wondering who will happen next. The war side of the film is all about the modern wars which mostly revolve around revolutions in country that our Americans are trapped in.

SettingsEach setting is designed perfect for the conflict scenes, we are always thrown into the action and this is just how the modern war would feel.

Special EffectsAll the effects are used to make for the explosions look great as well as showing the good mix of practical and special effects.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the best modern, full-blown action war movies of the recent years and it fully engages with the audience even if some of the unit are not developed as well as others.

 

Overall: Brilliant watch for the modern warfare film fans.

Rating

 

Den of Thieves (2018)

Director: Christian Gudegast

Writer: Christian Gudegast (Screenplay) Christian Gudegast, Paul Scheuring (Story)

Starring: Gerard Butler, Pablo Schreiber, O’Shea Jackson Jr, 50 Cent, Meadow Williams, Maurice Compte, Brian Van Holt

 

Plot: A gritty crime saga which follows the lives of an elite unit of the LA County Sheriff’s Dept. and the state’s most successful bank robbery crew as the outlaws plan a seemingly impossible heist on the Federal Reserve Bank.

 

Runtime: 2 Hours 20 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Gritty Heist Movie

 

Story: Den of Thieves starts as we see how Merrimen (Schreiber) operates with his team, second in command Enson (50 Cent) and new comer driver Donnie Wilson (Jackson Jr) as they pull off their latest job, investigating this is major crimes officer Big Nick O’Brien (Butler) and his team, they don’t take prisoners, they take bodies.

After the opening heist the two sides know their enemy and Nick brings Donnie in to bring in to learn the plan, while Merrimen is planning the biggest heist ever heard off, the Federal Reserve Bank, will they manage to pull this off.

 

Thoughts on Den of Thieves

 

Characters – Big Nick is the leader of a major crime unit that is suffering with his own addiction, he goes outside the law to get answers and never plays by the rules, he is a good leader and seems to be the only cop in town that can think outside the box. Ray Merrimen is the leader of the heist team, former marine and prisoner that plans his heist down to perfection with his team, he will not go down without swinging. Donnie is the newest member of the team, hired for his driving skills, that he gets forced to work both sides by Big Nick or face jail for a third time.

PerformancesGerard Butler is on fine form here, this could easily be his best performance in years, yes this isn’t anything he can’t handle, but still he knows how to handle it. Pablo Schreiber is an actor I hadn’t heard off before, he does a good job opposite Butler, but his performance does feel like he needs to be a strong member of a team over the leader. O’Shea Jackson Jr is good in his role showing that he is going to be a name for years to come.

StoryThe story follows both sides of the law, the team preparing the heist and the police trying to figure out what the next target is. This work because we get to see both mindsets, but as both sides of the law are being painted as bad guy it makes it hard to support either side of them and this is affected with the opening sequence too. The twists that come in the story are going to be something that are not going to be too difficult to point out. This does however become an entertaining viewing experience.

Action/Crime/MysteryThe action sequences are very good, even if they are mostly big gun battles in the busy streets. The crime side of the film is how the heist unfolds which does help with the mystery side of the film as we see how it all unfolds.

SettingsLA is the setting, which is meant to have the highest bank robbery rating in the country, this works for the busy streets and divide between the sides of the city.

Special EffectsThe effects are very good when it comes to showing off the bullet effects which are brutal as you could imagine.


Scene of the Movie –
The final heist, it might be long, but it is edge of you seat.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The opening sequence ruins us caring about the thieves.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good gritty heist movie, it rolls past with an over two hour run time and keeps us guessing until the final scene.

 

Overall: Great action crime movie.

Rating