ABC Film Challenge – Oscar Nominations – I – In the Line of Fire (1993)

Director: Wolfgang Petersen

Writer: Jeff Maguire (Screenplay)

Starring: Clint Eastwood, John Malkovich, Rene Russo, Dylan McDermott, Gary Cole, Fred Dalton Thompson, John Mahoney


Plot: Secret Service agent Frank Horrigan couldn’t save Kennedy, but he’s determined not to let a clever assassin take out this president.

Tagline – An assassin on the loose. A president in danger. Only one man stands between them…

Runtime: 2 Hours 8 Minutes


There may be spoilers in the rest of the review


Verdict: Brilliantly Tense


Story: In the Line of Fire starts as we meet seasoned veteran of the secret service Frank Horrigan (Eastwood) who wants to get back in the field, granted he returns to protecting the President after getting a mysterious phone call from Mitch Leary (Malkovich) who is threatening to murder the President.

As Frank tries to stay ahead of Mitch, the game of cat-n-mouse starts to catch up with him, as Frank starts to see his career fall apart on political grounds and Mitch now has Frank exactly where he needs him.


Thoughts on In the Line of Fire


Characters – Frank Horrigan once worked on President Kennedy’s detail, now older he is reaching the age where his secret service work is usually behind the desk or in the field, not around the President, after receiving a threat towards the President he positions himself on the detail again, which puts his experience on the line to protect the president. Mitch Leary is the psychotic man who is threatening the President, he wants to play games with Frank as his master of disguise helps him blend into a crowd. He always believes he is ahead of the game with his planned calculated with each movement. Lilly Raines is the new agent that must work with Frank, she is mostly the question about female agents through the eyes of an older member of the community. Al is the current partner of Frank who has been struggling with the reckless behaviour he has been working with.

PerformancesClint Eastwood in the leading role is great because he is the perfect age for this movie which makes us understand that he is good man still trying his best for the President. John Malkovich is stunning as the villain as we believe each word and action his commits to this role, being haunting and calculated throughout. Rene Russo offers us the young agent role, she does well with what she has to do without taking from the spotlight shone upon the lead two. The rest of the cast are good and know how to make the most of their limited scenes.

StoryThe story here follows the aging Secret Service agent that is caught up in a cat-n-mouse assassination attempt from an anonymous criminal. The story gives Frank a backstory of regret as he was one the President Kennedy service team and he will forever deal with the pain that he couldn’t save him, this adds determination to his character and it also gives Mitch a motive to beat the man who would ne known to have failed twice. This story shows us how to make cat-n-mouse style story where the villain will do anything and will spend time mocking the hero when he fails to capture him. We do get a heavily influenced America is great theme though which in places can be annoying to see. The pacing and use of foreshadowing works well in the film too showing us just what we are waiting to see where things go.

Action/CrimeThe action in the film is mixed because most of the scenes involves an aging actor that is meant to not be able to handle the physicality of the job anymore. The crime side of the film is where we get the most interesting side of everything which shows us just how far one man is willing to go to put his name in lights by killing the President.

SettingsThe film uses the settings show to us how compact any situation where the President would be attending can become with threats from nearly every corner.

Scene of the Movie –
The rooftop.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Too patriotic like no one else could have helped.

Final ThoughtsThis is a great crime thriller that shows us just how deadly a villain can be when they are completely set on completing a mission, we have two brilliant performances from Eastwood and Malkovich that will keep you on edge throughout.


Overall: Must watch crime thriller.




Velvet Buzzsaw (2019)

Director: Dan Gilroy

Writer: Dan Gilroy (Screenplay)

Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Billy Magnussen, Toni Collette, John Malkovich, Natalia Dyer, Rene Russo, Daveed Diggs, Zawa Ashton


Plot: After a series of paintings by an unknown artist are discovered, a supernatural force enacts revenge on those who have allowed their greed to get in the way of art.


Runtime: 1 Hour 52 Minutes


There may be spoilers in the rest of the review


Verdict: First Great Horror of 2019


Story: Velvet Buzzsaw starts by taking us into the art world with critic Morf Vandewalt (Gyllenhaal) being the man that can make or break an artist career, Rhodora Haze (Russo) runs the gallery with aspiring artists Josephina (Ashton), Coco (Dyer) and Bryson (Magnussen) working for her.

When one of Josephina’s neighbours dies suddenly, she learns of the number of breath-taking pieces of art, that soon gets the art world going into a frenzy, with Gretchen (Collette) the newly appointed consulate for the rich wanting to get the some of the work. This is only the beginning as the art work seems to have a supernatural force behind it that wants to consume the greed in the art world.


Thoughts on Velvet Buzzsaw


Characters – Morf Vandewalt is the biggest and most well-respect art critic in the business, he can make or break a career, which has given him enemies along the way. His friendship with Rhodora helps her collect and profit from the most amounts of work, he sees the brilliance in the new artwork, though he questions certain background towards them. Rhodora is the one of the most popular art curators, her gallery gives young artists a chance, while she knows which clients to accept or not, she wants this new work and makes a deal to make sure she makes the most money she can out of them. Josephina is the aspiring curator, she is learning of Rhodora and she is the one that finds the artwork, this gives her all the leverage required to finally make her name in the industry. Gretchen works in a gallery until she gets a job acquiring work for her clients, this shows us just how one person can go from small time to big time, while changing along the way. Jon Dondon is another curator, one that has become a rival to Rhodora, he clearly doesn’t understand the art world on the same level as her though, only requiring money to keep him happy. Piers is the famous artist that has been struggling with his latest work after giving up his addiction, he sees the brilliance, but is also scared of the work of the new artist.

PerformancesJake Gyllenhaal is just as fantastic as we would expect, he plays the over the top figure that strangely feels grounded too. Rene Russo shines as the cut throat art curator that will put anybody who crosses her in their place. Toni Collette turns out an almost opposite performance to Hereditary, which see her become an ambitious lady that knows how to deal. It is Zawa Ashton that becomes a more influential performer in this film than you would expect, which surprises with the cast we have, she is equally as strong as the rest of the cast too.

StoryThe story takes us into the art world, we have the pivotal characters to make us complete accept being part of this world, as a new unknown artist gets discovered, only his work has a much more sinister side to it. The scale of the world created here is wonderful because within five minutes of the film, we are completely embraced into this world. The darker side of the film shows us just how easily people can become consumed by greed. This will leave you shocked with the events of the film and will leave you never wanting to be part of the art world.

HorrorThe horror comes from the sinister nature behind the art work, going hand in hand with just how Morf is slowly starting to lose his mind as the work is become bigger.

SettingsThe film keeps us in the art world for the settings, this shows us how the members of the art world will do whatever they want to become the biggest name in the industry.

Special EffectsThe effects used in the film are wonderful they play in with artistic world when it comes to the body count, we get to see.

Scene of the Movie –
The sinister side of the artwork.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The trailer gives too much away.

Final ThoughtsThis is a beautiful horror film that will fully engross us into the artworld with the characters and gives us the twisted look at just what could happen when a spirit can spread so easily.


Overall: Visually beautiful horror film.




The Intern (2015)

internDirector: Nancy Meyers

Writer: Nancy Meyers (Screenplay)

Starring: Robert De Niro, Anne Hathaway, Rene Russo, Andres Holm, JoJo Kushner, Andrew Rannells, Adam DeVine, Zack Pearlman


Plot: 70-year-old widower Ben Whittaker has discovered that retirement isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Seizing an opportunity to get back in the game, he becomes a senior intern at an online fashion site, founded and run by Jules Ostin.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Delightful Drama


Story: The Intern starts as we meet Ben (De Niro) a retired widower who is struggling to find motivation in life even if he is getting to do all the things he never had time. When Ben discovers a flyer asking for Senior Interns he applies to work at an internet company to keep himself busy.

When Ben gets the role as the Intern he gets to work under the owner and founder of online fashion site Jules Ostin (Hathaway). Finding Jules very cold Ben continues to keep himself positive and learns odd jobs around the office becoming popular around the office.

Ben watches and learns about Jules as he sees how she is struggling to keep her company together and find time for family time with her husband Matt (Holm) and daughter Paige (Kushner). The longer the two spend time together Jules learns that Ben could help her with her problems.

The Intern shows just how important respecting all the generation within the work environment can be important with their own experiences be it elder members of the office helping with the getting respect while the young understand all the tech talk. This story shows how strong business woman can be vulnerable and elder business man can find enjoyment from helping the next generation succeed.

De Niro is brilliant in this role where he plays the role so calmly and effortless, Hathaway also gives us a great performance and when it comes to the supporting cast they get most of the laughs without Adam Devine going too over the top with his comedy either.


Overall: Brilliant comedy drama that hits all the marks with brilliant performances and story.



Nightcrawler (2014)

logoDirector: Dan Gilroy

Writer: Dan Gilroy (Screenplay)

Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Bill Paxton, Riz Ahmed


Plot: When Lou Bloom, a driven man desperate for work, muscles into the world of L.A. crime journalism, he blurs the line between observer and participant to become the star of his own story. Aiding him in his effort is Nina, a TV-news veteran.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Wow Brilliant Thriller


Story: Nightcrawler starts by showing Louis Bloom (Gyllenhaal) working to thief stealing and selling metal. Louis is looking for career in life but it struggling to find his calling in life, but witnessing a car crash recovery Louis meets Joe (Paxton) who race to the scene of the crime to get raw footage so they can sell it to whoever pays the most. This leads to Louis starting his own chase to the crime scene with his first Police radio and video camera.

After getting his first footage he sales it to cut throat news veteran Nina (Russo) who explaining what her station is after as well as handing out tips for him to improve his style in the future. Starting off Louis hires an assistant Rick (Ahmed) to learn the codes to help navigate through the city of Los Angeles. Louis continues to improve his style he gets drawn into world, improve his equipment, car as well as starting to become more daring in pushing the boundaries including make the scenes look better on camera. With ratings week happening Louis has to prove he is all he claims and going up against Joe and his multi van team he has been losing out, now Louis will go to new levels risking not only his own life but his assistant’s life. Louis starts going dark crossing lines he should never be to make sure he gets the perfect footage.

Nightcrawler is very much one of the most interesting films of the year, I have not seen a film that focuses on the subject that this one does before. We get to see how Louis slowly becomes obsessed with this fascination on the perfect film as well as learn more about what drives him to perfection. We get to see how close the boundaries people will go and we then get to judge on what is too far for ourselves. We get morals questioned from the first moment to the final but with the new world’s obsession with reality these guys would be considered right even though it is very wrong how far they go. The story is fresh, the story is original and the story pulls you in. (10/10)


Actor Review


Jake Gyllenhaal: Louis Bloom starting off as a thief but when he learns about ‘Stingers’ who go around looking to get the first footage of crime scenes he gets interested in starting his own recording service. As the time continues he becomes obsessed with getting the best and along with his relationship with news veteran grows as does his reputation. Jake gives his best performance of his career here and it will stick with you afterwards too. (10/10)


Rene Russo: Nina Romina a veteran news director who is on the lowest rated channel, she gets involved with using Louis footage and sees the rating rise but she gets caught up in negotiating on the footage as each one rises to breaking the budgets. Rene gives a great performance as the aging news lady. (9/10)


Bill Paxton: Joe Loder a fellow stringer who shows Louis the world before becoming competition against him. Bill does a good job offering the a supporting role here without doing too much. (7/10)


Riz Ahmed: Rick assistant to Louis who constantly starts wanting more money but keeps getting shot down because of the demands of Louis, who eventually gives him the raise but only when Rick starts risking more. Riz does give a great performance as the slacker in need of money. (9/10)


Support Cast: Nightcrawler doesn’t have the biggest support cast with most involved are part of the news team and we see how they start to know and respect Louis the more he brings them to work with.


Director Review: Dan Gilroy – Dan does a great job directing this making the film edge of the seat from start to finish. (10/10)


Crime: Nightcrawler shows the dark side of the crime world where people films what has been happening for money. (9/10)

Thriller: Nightcrawler is one of the most edge of your seat films that you will ever see. (10/10)

Settings: Nightcrawler uses the settings of Los Angeles brilliant to show the difference in the neighbourhoods as well as the people you will meet. (10/10)

Suggestion: Nightcrawler is just a must watch for everyone. (Just Watch)


Best Part: Car Chase.

Worst Part: Hard to find one.


Believability: These people are real but this extreme maybe not. (7/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: This could very well have a sequel.

Post Credits Scene: No


Awards: Nominated for Golden Globe Best Actor and Nominated for four BAFTAs including Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Screenplay and Best Editing.

Oscar Chances: Could get nominated for Oscars.

Box Office: $38 Million

Budget: $8.5 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 57 Minutes

Tagline: The City Shines Brightest at Night


Overall: Thriller of the Year

Rating 94

Ransom (1996)

logoDirector: Ron Howard

Writer: Richard Price, Alexander Ignon (Screenplay) Cyril Hume, Richard Maibaum (Story)

Starring: Mel Gibson, Rene Russo, Brawley Nolte, Gary Sinise, Delroy Lindo, Lili Taylor, Live Schreiber, Donnie Wahlberg


Plot: Tom Mullen is a millionaire; he built his fortune by working hard. Along the way he learned how to play the game. He has a great family. One day his son is kidnapped. He is willing to pay the ransom but decides to call in the FBI, who manages to go into his home secretly. When he goes to make the drop something goes wrong. The kidnapper calls him again and reschedules it. On the way Mullen decides not to go and appears on TV saying that the ransom he was going to give to the kidnapper is now a bounty on the kidnapper.


Verdict: Where are you limits?


Story: Ransom starts out as a simple kidnapping with a ransom wanted turns into a thriller unlike anything we have seen before. We see how one man will risk his own son’s life to get the people responsible for kidnapping his son. Our hero goes against every he is told to get his son back, but is he really after some redemption after his errors have caught up with him? The villain comes off very calm but even he isn’t ready for the reaction from the hero. This keeps you guessing what the next step will be from both sides as well as test the relationship between a married couple with the effects of the kidnapping. (8/10)


Actor Review


Mel Gibson: Tom Mullen a multi-millionaire whose son is kidnapped, while he starts following the instructions he figures out that there is no plan for him to get his son returned, so he goes to extreme levels to out play the kidnappers. Good performance from Gibson showing great intensity against the kidnappers. (8/10)


Rene Russo: Kate Mullen Tom’s wife who wants to do everything by the book and gets very upset when Tom starts going his own way with the plan. Solid supporting performance. (7/10)


Gary Sinise: Detective Jimmy Shaker the man with the plan that has arranged the kidnap and the exchange to work perfectly. He has back up plans for when things go wrong too. He is very twisted and determined to get his money and will do anything to make sure he gets what he wants. Good performance creating a good villain that not quit. (8/10)


Delroy Lindo: Agent Lonnie Hawkins the man called in with his team to help with return of the son. He advises Tom and how to handle each part and tries to change his mind when Tom wants to go his own way. Good performance showing that it has to be done a certain way. (7/10)


Director Review: Ron Howard – Good direction taking the thrills to a new level for a story that usually comes off very simple. (9/10)


Crime: Ransom is a great test for all law enforcements handling a kidnapping case. (9/10)

Thriller: Ransom uses great thriller aspects that will get keep you guessing. (10/10)

Settings: Each setting used in Ransom works for the next chapter of the story, especially when Tom gets sent to do the trade over. (8/10)

Suggestion: Ransom is one of the best action thrillers you will see, watch this even though Mel Gibson is not the most popular actor anymore. (Watch)


Best Part: The first attempted trade over journey.

Worst Part: Generic supporting villains.

Believability: No (0/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No


Awards: Mel Gibson was nominated for Best Actor at the Golden Globes.

Oscar Chances: No

Box Office: $309 Million

Budget: $80 Million

Runtime: 2 Hours 1 Minute

Tagline: This Fall, Pay The Price.


Overall: Great Thriller A Must Watch

Rating 89