ABC Film Challenge – Thriller – D – Destroyer (2018)

Director: Karyn Kusama

Writer: Phil Hay, Matt Manfredi (Screenplay)

Starring: Nicole Kidman, Toby Kebbell, Tatiana Maslany, Sebastian Stan, Scoot McNairy, Bradley Whitford, Toby Huss

 

Plot: A police detective reconnects with people from an undercover assignment in her distant past in order to make peace.


Tagline – You can’t run from yourself.

Runtime: 2 Hours 1 Minute

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Kidman Powerhouse Performance

 

Story: Destroyer starts when one of Erin Bell’s (Kidman) former cases comes back into the spotlight, one which saw her go undercover with fellow officer Chris (Stan) within a gang run by Silas (Kebbell). This case took nearly everything out of Erin’s life including straining the relationship Erin has with her daughter Shelby (Pettyjohn).

As Erin starts to go through the gang, she gets to learn what the members have done with their lives in the time after the incident, Erin knows that Silas is coming for revenge and this investigation gives her a chance to face all her demons and make peace for her errors.

 

Thoughts on Destroyer

 

Characters – Erin Bell is a police officer that went so deep undercover that she lost her family, 17-years-later the leader of that gang has returned, this will give the Erin a chance to make peace with this case, trying to put her addiction problems a side, Erin won’t take any abuse from anybody, she will step over the line of the law to make sure she puts an end to this case. Silas is the leader of the gang, he makes his followers do anything to prove themselves to him and will lead them in breaking the law, he has gone into hiding, with his return making him a target for Erin. Petra is one of the main followers in the gang, she is one that is still active with Silas, showing that her addiction is still controlling her life. Chris is the partner that worked with Erin in the undercover job, we see how they got to learn to work together to make themselves seem like a couple.

PerformancesNicole Kidman gives one of her career best performances ever single scene we see her committed to this role where she demands your attention unlike any performance, we have ever seen from her before. Toby Kebbell does make us believe his character is on edge and a threat through each and every scene he appears in. Tatiana Maslany and Sebastian Stan complete the main supporting cast which shows us they can step up to look strong against Kidman through the film.

StoryThe story here follows a former undercover police officers that wants to make amends for her case which ended in tragedy and has made her lose out part of her life when it comes to family, turning her to her own addictions. The first thing to know about this that we have two times being viewed, it is easy to tell the two apart because of the length of Erin’s hair. As Erin is trying to locate Silas, we get the flashbacks to her interactions with the gang members as she gets to relocate them as she is searching for Silas. Away from the investigation side of the story, Erin is also trying to rebuild her relationship with her daughter one that she shattered with her problems in the past. The mix of the two stories shows us just how dysfunctional this life can become for anyone that gets too deep within the undercover job.

Action/CrimeThe action in the film follows the events of the robbery, how it went down and how the escape was planned. We do enter the crime world, which sees how Erin went undercover and operated within the gang, followed by how she bent the laws to track Silas back down.

SettingsThe film is set in LA which as always is a wonderful backdrop for the criminal underworld, it shows us just how crime can get done around the city without people seeing it come.


Scene of the Movie –
The robbery.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The final encounter.

Final ThoughtsThis is brilliant crime thriller that shows that Nicole Kidman is one of the greatest actresses of her generation, we have a story that keeps you guessing with an anti-hero in Erin that needs to fix her life.

 

Overall: Gripping Tense Thriller

Rating

 

 

Our Brand Is Crisis (2015)

Director: David Gordon Green

Writer: Peter Straughan (Screenplay) Rachel Boynton (Documentary)

Starring: Sandra Bullock, Billy Bob Thornton, Anthony Mackie, Joaquim de Almeida, Ann Dowd, Scoot McNairy, Zoe Kazan

 

Plot: A battle-hardened American political consultant is sent to help re-elect a controversial president in Bolivia, where she must compete with a long-term rival working for another candidate.


Tagline – May the best campaign win.

Runtime: 1 Hour 47 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Unfunny Political Comedy

 

Story: Our Brand is Crisis starts when disgraced political consultant Jane (Bullock) gets recruited by Nell (Dowd) and Ben (Mackie) to help improve the approval rating of Bolivian presidential candidate Castillo (de Almeida).

Jane must go against her old enemy Pat Candy (Thornton) who has always beaten her in campaign battles, this is going to be the time she will not be prepared to lose as she will try new ideas he isn’t prepared for.

 

Thoughts on Our Brand is Crisis

 

Characters – Jane is nicknamed calamity Jane after her mistakes in previous campaigns, she is dragged into returning to the field in Bolivia going against her old enemy. She has bright ideas which will help, but her own personal problems could cause the downfall in the campaign. Pat Candy is the rival that has always beaten Jane, he knows all the dirty tricks and will use them to make sure he wins. Ben is the member of the campaign that wasn’t in full support of hiring Jane because of her history or lack of involvement in her early days on the campaign. Castillo is the senator that is running for the presidency of Bolivia, a role he once had, he needs to help turn his public image around in hopes of trying to win this election.

PerformancesSandra Bullock is good through the film, though she isn’t as strong as we know she can be. Billy Bob Thornton is solid in his role, he will always make for a good villainous figure even if he is just the other side of the law. Anthony Mackie gives us another solid supporting performance without being too involved in the main story.

StoryThe story here follows a political consultant that gets bought into Bolivia to help with the Presidential campaign that is losing quickly. She goes against her real enemy, the man that always beats her in a country that remains loyal to certain sides of everything. this is loosely based on a true story and for a story that we are meant to care about, we just don’t get sucked into knowing or caring about what happens with the campaign. None of the characters are overly likeable and by the end you won’t remember too many events of the story.

ComedyThe film tries to use comedy, though most of it misses, the only time it hits are on random scene which don’t have too much to do with the actual campaign.

SettingsThe film is set in Bolivia, this can be seen with the divide in the people, the different classes and reaction to each presidential candidate.


Scene of the Movie –
Bus time.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It just isn’t overly interesting.

Final ThoughtsMostly forgettable political comedy, two words that shouldn’t go together when it comes to dealing with a real campaign.

 

Overall: Disappointing and boring.

Rating

 

 

War Machine (2017)

Director: David Michod

Writer: David Michod (Screenplay) Michael Hastings (Book)

Starring: Brad Pitt, Anthony Hayes, John Magaro, Anthony Michael Hall, Emory Cohen, Topher Grace, Ben Kingsley, Scoot McNairy

 

Plot: An absurdist war story for our times, writer-director David Michôd (Animal Kingdom) recreates a U.S. General’s roller-coaster rise and fall as part reality, part savage parody – raising the specter of just where the line between them lies today. His is an exploration of a born leader’s ultra-confident march right into the dark heart of folly. At the story’s core is Brad Pitt’s sly take on a successful, charismatic four-star general who leapt in like a rock star to command NATO forces in Afghanistan, only to be taken down by a journalist’s no-holds-barred exposé.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Good War Comedy

 

Story: War Machine starts as highly respected and inspiration General Glen McMahon (Pitt) getting recruited to Afghanistan to see how the war is going over there, Glen brings his trusted men Pete Duckman (Hayes), Cory Staggart (Magaro), Greg Pulver (Hall), Willy Dunne (Cohen), Matt Little (Grace) and Andy Moon (Cyler) to bring the base together fixing the divide and keep the American side of the war happy back home.

We watch how Gen McMahon looks to recruit enough soldiers to make his plan to stop the problems happening in Afghanistan by using the counter insurgence tactics which have famously never worked before. Glen leads his close-knit group around Europe to find the rest of soldiers required from the allies of the United States as he continues his idea of peaceful removal of insurgence instead of just killing them.

 

Thoughts on War Machine

 

Characters/PerformanceGeneral Glen McMahon is assigned to Afghanistan to finish the war against the insurgence, he is respected and gets results by doing things his way. He wants to change things and make it feel like a war over a holiday image he sees it looking like. Greg Pulver is the loyalist man to Glen, he has been by his side from the start and is a loose cannon at times. The rest of the characters do all include the type of figures you would expect all getting the screen time required for the characters importance.

Performance wise, Brad Pitt is fantastic in this leading role showing us he can do comedy through a straight-faced role. Outside of Pitt it would be fair to say everybody else does a good job through this film fitting the chemistry required for the role.

StoryThe story is part parody and part light-hearted humour of how the war in Afghanistan could look like, more politics than conflict. We do also get the reality of war thrown at us and this shows us just what the problem with the war in Afghanistan. The story does feel long in places as this is two hours long but it is worth it for the reality check it gives.

Comedy/War The comedy comes from the reality check of how naïve the war in Afghanistan was, it’s not a laugh a minute it is a laugh of that was stupid wasn’t it. The war side of the film comes from trying to solve the problem without conflict.

SettingsEach setting looks good for the film and shows us just how this was for the soldiers would have come off comfortable for the soldiers over the previous wars.

Final ThoughtsThis is a comedy that is worth watching, it does have good moments on reality but it also has the moments that show how pointless the battle came off as.

 

Overall: One to watch.

Rating

 

 

Sleepless (2017)

Director: Baran bo Odar

Writer: Andrea Berloff (Screenplay) Frederic Jardin, Nicholas Saada, Olivier Douyere (Original Film)

Starring: Jamie Foxx, Michele Monaghan, Scoot McNairy, Dermot Mulroney, T.I., David Harbour, Gabrielle Union

 

Plot: A cop with a connection to the criminal underworld scours a nightclub in search of his kidnapped son.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Forgettable Actioner

 

Story: Sleepless starts in Las Vegas as dirty cops Vincent (Foxx) and his partner Sean (T.I.) are taking down their latest score from the mob in the city. Things don’t go as planned which brings in Internal Affairs pairing Bryant (Monaghan) and Dennison (Harbour) to look at the case.

Vincent’s day continues to get worse as he once again lets down his ex-wife Dena (Union) and his son Thomas (Johnson) before casino boss Rubino (Mulroney) has Thomas kidnapped, promising to hand him over to Novak (McNairy) the drug lord if the product isn’t returned in three-hours.

We are left to see how Vincent tries to clean up the mess he finds himself in, he must deal with the drug lord, the casino owner, the internal affairs agents and his angry ex-wife all in one night inside the casino.

 

Thoughts on Sleepless

 

Characters/PerformanceVincent is the dirty cop that has been stealing from criminals for his own personal gain, this has left his personal life in ruins and now he has one night to save his career and his relationship with his son. Bryant is Internal Affairs that has recently found herself assaulted with everyone trying to nurse her back into her job even though she is ready to return. Novak is a drug lord reluctantly working with casino boss, he is ruthless like you would expect him to be. Rubino is the casino who has everything but has dived into the drug world to keep his guest happy. The rest of the characters are also who you expect without being anything special.

Performance wise, Jamie Foxx is good enough in the leading role without being a great action star, with Michelle Monaghan doing a good job in here role, being the star of the film. Scoot McNairy gets to have a lot of fun in the villainous role which he always delivers in. some of the supporting roles are left questioning how capable the stars really are though. With Gabrielle Union doing all she can with the generic concerned mother that only moans a lot role.

StoryThe story is fine, it has twists and turns along the way as you must figure out who is good, bad, dirty or criminal all while seeing how a drug bust can go wrong. This does have plenty going on and if you blink you might miss a beat but otherwise it doesn’t leave too much to the imagination.

Action/CrimeThe action is always going to be hard to find anything new or original which is why the action turns out slightly flat. The crime world created is solid enough though.

SettingsNearly the whole film is set inside the casino which does show things happening near real time.

Final ThoughtsThis is fine action film, it isn’t great or bad it is just average.

 

Overall: Average film that is easy to watch but never pushes the boundaries.

Rating

 

 

Aftermath (2017)

Director: Elliott Lester

Writer: Javier Gullon (Screenplay)

Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Maggie Grace, Kevin Zegers, Scoot McNairy, Hannah Ware, Mariana Klaveno, Glenn Morshower

 

Plot: Two strangers’ lives become inextricably bound together after a devastating plane crash.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Emotional Gut Punch of a Thriller

 

Story: Aftermath starts as construction worker Roman (Schwarzenegger) is looking forward to the arrival of his wife and pregnant daughter from Kiev for Christmas. Making himself extra smart with flowers at hand he arrives at the airport to find the flight delayed but there is no good news, the plane was involved in a tragic accident killing both his wife and daughter.

On the other side of the story flight controller Jake Bonaos (McNairy) leaves his wife and son to arrive at work that very same day, on a night shift where he finds the himself distracted trying to fix a phoneline as two planes collided mid-air, the same flights that had Roman’s family on.

Both men’s lives are completely shattered, Roman broken, alone and spending days and nights at the cemetery. While Jake is branded a murderer by the public finding it impossible to function or being the husband and father he needs to be.

With the airline company waving money in Roman’s face to stop them being sued and Jake on the verge of suicide brings us to one year later where both are still living in the tragedy but both are attempting to move on.

 

Thoughts on Aftermath

 

Characters/PerformanceRoman is a hard-working construction worker, he has work long hours to make sure his family can move to live with him in America, when he loses them his life is shattered but all he wants is an apologise not the airlines money. Jake is a flight controller who makes an honest mistake that cost the lives of everyone on the flights, his life is ruined, he loses his family, his job and must change his name and start again, living the rest of his life with regret.  

Performance wise, Schwarzenegger is brilliant in this role where is he no action hero, he is an everyday man that loses everything, this is by far one of his best acting performances of his career. Scoot McNairy is also fantastic in this role showing just how capable of an actor he is.

StoryThe story is based on a real incident that followed a mid-air collision but turned into an American story for it to unfold in. This story is very powerful because you are now left to wonder just what would happen if you were in either of these men’s shoes. The story also isn’t just a revenge film it follows these two men trying to rebuild their lives after what happened and mostly just wanting a human response from somebody involved.

ThrillerFrom the moment this film starts you are left to wonder from the edge of your seat to where this film will go.

SettingsThe settings used through the film focus on making both our main characters feel like everyday people whose lives have been ruined by the events which is all you need from the film.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the best and most intense slow burning stories you will see this year. The performances are fantastic as well as being one of the most interesting stories out there.

 

Overall: One of the most powerful stories you will see this year.

Rating