ABC Film Challenge – Action – N – The Negotiator (2018)

Director: Brad Anderson

Writer: Tony Gilroy (Screenplay)

Starring: Jon Hamm, Khalid Benchgra, Rosamund Pike, Dean Norris, Shea Whigham, Douglas Hodge


Plot: Caught in the crossfires of civil war, CIA operatives must send a former U.S. diplomat to negotiate for the life of a friend he left behind.

Tagline – The Americans want to keep their secrets. The Israelis want to raise the stakes. He only wants to save a life.

Runtime: 1 Hour 49 Minutes  


There may be spoilers in the rest of the review


Verdict: Never Hits the Levels it Should


Story: The Negotiator starts as we see American Diplomat Mason Skiles (Hamm) involved in a tragic event in Beirut. Walking away from this career, he is dragged out of retirement when his old friend Cal (Pellegrino) is taken hostage by the Israelis.

Mason working with Sandy (Pike), Gary (Whigham) and Donald Gaines (Norris) must enter negotiations to free Cal without a body count in a high-tension situation in Beirut.


Thoughts on The Negotiator


Characters – Mason Skiles has been working in a diplomatic position for years, until a tragic event sees his wife killed in Beirut, he steps away from that world, living a business life back in America. He gets pushed back into the field when his friend is kidnapped and one of his former connections is the prime suspect to everything going on, he must use his connections to try and get a peaceful end to the situation. Sandy is the connection that must keep an eye on Mason, she is considered the skirt that will entertain the America to keep him there, she has her own connections though and will be the one that is happy to let Mason off his leash. Donald Gaines and Gary Ruzak are both involved in the operation with their own agendas coming through.

PerformancesJon Hamm in the leading role is the strongest part of the film as he has the most about his character who has been through the trauma and must use this mission to redeem himself.  Rosamund Pike struggles to make the impact you feel her character is meant to, while the rest of the cast just don’t get the time to make any sort of impact.

StoryThe story follows a negotiator that has walked away from the diplomatic position only to be forced back into the field to help his old friend who has become the latest kidnapping victim by terrorist group. This tries to create the same sort of atmosphere as the true events that went on during the Beirut problems with the Israeli terrorist groups that were at war with the Americans, we struggle to get sucked into the movie because the tension is never given to us enough to make us become interested in what is happening to the characters. the one that does have an arc is Mason which gets glanced over more than anything as we try to show him in the middle of a situation he knows how to play, though he isn’t meant to be in control of.

ThrillerThe thriller side of the film struggles to come through as strong as it should because of the lack of tension in the film, while the stacks are high, nothing seems in any way out of control.

SettingsThe film does keep the settings being used in the streets of Beirut which does show us how much trouble the city was in during the terrorist attacks.

Scene of the Movie –
The deal.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The political side.

Final ThoughtsThis is a weak tension based movie that just never hits the levels it should do like many of the films in this genre.


Overall: Just not on the strongest levels.





Death Note (2017)

Director: Adam Wingard

Writer: Charley Parlapanides, Vlas Parlapanides, Jeremy Slater (Screenplay) Tgugumi Oba, Takeshi Obata (Original Material)

Starring: Nat Wolff, Lakeith Stanfield, Willem Dafoe, Margaret Qualley, Shea Whigham, Masi Oka, Jason Liles


Plot: Light Turner, a bright student, stumbles across a mystical notebook that has the power to kill any person whose name he writes in it. Light decides to launch a secret crusade to rid the streets of criminals. Soon, the student-turned-vigilante finds himself pursued by a famous detective known only by the alias L.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Deliciously Dark Fantasy


Story: Death Note starts as genius student Light Turner (Wolff) has a mysterious book title Death Note fall from the sky before getting busted for doing fellow students homework landing him in detention, here Light gets a visit from Ryuk (Liles, but voiced by Dafoe) who teaches him about the book, which offers him a chance to simply write the name of a person and a way to die with the rest being history.

Teaming up with Mia (Qualley) a student from school, Light decides to use this power for the good by killing terrorists and getting criminals to hand themselves in, but with this new world starting Light’s father James (Whigham) must investigate the mysterious ‘Kira’ figure influencing the decisions and the mysterious detective L (Stanfield) who believes he knows how to track the killer.


Thoughts on Death Note


Characters – Light Turner is a high school student that stays in the shadows at school, making deals for money in exchange for doing homework, but when he gets the Death Note, he gets the chance to become somebody, he uses the book to try and make a difference but soon learns the effects that this could have on his life and the world. L is the detective that has been hunting the Kira killer, he has an ability to solve crimes and has been trained to be one of the greatest detectives of all time, he knows who is behind it all but needs to find a way to prove it. Ryuk is the God of death that is attached to the book, he does the bidding for the owner of the book, while also trying to get him to put more names in the book. Mia is the love interest of Light that has the relationship because of the interest in the power of the book.

PerformanceNat Wolff does do a good job in the leading role being the teenager that looks out of place in the lonely keep to himself idea. Lakeith Stanfield is the highlight of the film because he does always come off with something different about his character. Margaret Qualley is the good supporting girlfriend character that does well through the film. Willem Dafoe lends his voice to the God which sounds perfectly menacing about him.

StoryThe story focuses on the idea of one kid getting a book that could simply write a name in and the person will die. Now I do understand this has come from a manga of the same name which does put elements to discuss into a fantasy element, which is good for the idea, the story flows nicely with the moral question being asked, what would you do if you had the book? Saying this the film does try to ask that question between the characters but in the end glosses over it at times and does miss out a chance to learn a lot more about L who by far is the most interesting character in the film. This is a story that could be enjoyed by the fantasy horror fans out there and is one I do think could be recommended to the known horror fans too.

Fantasy/HorrorThe fantasy behind this film comes from the demon Ryuk using his powers to complete the deaths, the horror is working with the fantasy and is used with the idea of the blood splattered deaths.

SettingsThe settings are used for iconic moments in the film without being all about the settings rather than the characters finding themselves in.

Special EffectsThe effects are all fantastic with the most impressive coming from the blood splattering deaths.

Scene of the Movie – The first note, because it shows us what we are going to be getting through the film.

That Moment That Annoyed Me I would have liked more focus on the L backstory which does seem interesting.

Final ThoughtsThis is an enjoyable fantasy horror that comes from a manga which I can see could turn people off but as I have never seen it, I can say this is enjoyable throughout.


Overall: Enjoyable fantasy horror.




Cop Car (2015)

cop carDirector: Jon Watts

Writer: Jon Watts, Christopher D Ford (Screenplay)

Starring: Kevin Bacon, James Freedson-Jackson, Hays Wellford, Camryn Manheim, Shea Whigham, Sean Hartley, Kyra Sedgwick


Plot: A small town sheriff sets out to find the two kids who have taken his car on a joy ride.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Slow Burning Thriller


Story: Cop Car starts when to young runaway boys Travis (Freedson-Jackson) and Harrison (Wellford) discover an abandoned cop car n they adventure to run away from home and as boys will be boys they take the car for a spin. We move back to learn of the owner of the car Sheriff Kretzer (Bacon) who is in the middle of nowhere disposing of dead bodies but when he returns for the second one he finds himself without a car.

We follow as the Sheriff as he desperately has to cover up the fact his car has been stolen hiding the evidence from the rest of the force and the kids continue to have fun with all the equipment they find in the car but it soon turns into a game of cat and mouse between them.

Cop Car is a story that mixes up two traditional favourites in the world of storytelling. First we have a coming of age tell for the two boys and on the second we have a thriller involving a corrupt cop in a world of drugs. Mixing the two comes off slightly short because we never learn the real part of the Sheriff but I do like how it kind of adds to the mystery. As for the ending we are left to wonder what happened which some people will find disappointing.  As for a thriller it has a very tense final act which is the saving grace because it really is slow building.


Actor Review


Kevin Bacon: Sheriff Kretzer is the one who has his cop car stolen, but inside is the body of a man, while he is disposing of the other body, he must remain calm as he covers his tracks before searching for his own car. Even when he starts thinking he will need to get out of town with all of his drugs and money before getting exposed. Kevin is good in this role showing he can play still play the villain with plenty of mysteries.sheriff

James Freedson-Jackson: Travis is one of the two boys running away from home, he seems to come off as the leader of the two boys making Harrison do the things he isn’t prepared to do, he is the dominate of the two but by the end we will see his weaknesses. James gives a god performance for such a young actor and works perfectly with

Hays Wellford: Harrison is the follower of the two boys, he might come off more intelligent but in the end has to try and convince Travis to do the right thing. Hays gives a performance equal to James as the two look like life friends.

Support Cast: Cop Car has small supporting cast which only come into the story when needed without needing to be a big part of the main story.

Director Review: Jon WattsJon brings us a slow building thriller that also gives us a coming of age tale.


Mystery: Cop Car offers us a mystery about who and what the sheriff is really up to.

Thriller: Cop Car does bring us into the story late on as we see the showdown between all the parties.

Settings: Cop Car keeps us in the small town America to make the story feel very much like a day in the life of the two boys.
Special Effects
: Cop Car only uses the effects when needed which helps for this thriller.

Suggestion: Cop Car is one for the thriller fans to try but I do feel that you need to give it time to get going. (Try It)


Best Part: Final showdown.

Worst Part: Slow building.


Believability: No

Chances of Tears: No

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No


Oscar Chances: No

Runtime: 1 Hour 28 Minutes

Tagline: Their first drive could be their last.


Overall: Slow starting thriller that finishes with a punch to the gut


Catch .44 (2011)

logoDirector: Aaron Harvey

Writer: Aaron Harvey (Screenplay)

Starring: Malin Akerman, Nikki Reed, Deborah Ann Woll, Forest Whitaker, Bruce Willis, Shea Whigham, Jimmy Lee Jr, Brad Dourif


Plot: For Tes (Akerman) and her two cohorts Kara (Nikki Reed) and Dawn (Deborah Ann Woll), the job sounded simple enough: intercept a double-cross drug shipment for their crime boss Mel (Willis) at an isolated diner. But when an unstoppable chain of events unfolds, everyone soon realizes no one is who they seem and the job may be something other than eliminating the competition. What started as simple instructions has now turned into a deadly cat-and-mouse game – with large guns pointed at everyone.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Let me tell you a story


Story: Catch .44 starts with Mel (Willis) telling someone about their working relationship but that he never trusted them. Next we meet Tes (Akerman), Kara (Reed) and Dawn (Woll) talking a lot of nonsense in a diner while on a job looking for a truck and one is now dead. Oh yay rewind where we now see the three girls getting prepared for this job. We learn that the girls are being sent by Mel to interrupt a drug shipment that is running through Mel’s shipment lane.

Next we met assassin Ronny (Whitaker) who likes to become different people along his jobs, we start by seeing take a police car and kill the officer. Flash forward again to the job in the diner and another one is dead, this is really losing the point of tension. We see how Ronnie heading in the same direction as the girls and even having a confrontation together. Back to the job yet again and we see that there is actually back story going back 2 years now, my head is starting to hurt now. Back to the diner again and we learn the real reason for the job and we have a Mexican standoff.

Catch .44 is a standoff film that somehow manages to make a simple job takes an hour and a half, really I don’t know how they stretch this out so long because it is easily one of the most boring films in recent years. The story jumps around the time periods too much and what could have been a really good shoot out scene ends up being shown four times with the next bit happening, it’s like could you have at least just come up with something to fill the gaps instead of reminders of something that happened FIVE MINUTES AGO. This story was a simply a mess and isn’t worth trying to explain anymore. (1/10)


Actor Review


Malin Akerman: Tes the leader of the girls and planner of the job, she keeps things together but isn’t prepared for the twists. Malin doesn’t look the part in this and struggles to make an impact. (2/10)


Nikki Reed: Kara the loose cannon of the three girls who is the one that makes the sloppy mistake that leads to her getting killed in the opening scene. We do follow her in the story leading up to the job. Nikki does what is required in the supporting role. (4/10)


Deborah Ann Woll: Dawn third member of the group who manages to keep the connection together when things start going wrong between Tes and Kara. Deborah does her supporting role well but nothing special. (4/10)


Forest Whitaker: Ronny assassin and deliveryman for the drugs who has a connection with the past but has an agenda of his own. Forest won a Oscar right? How does he end up in films like this? (2/10)


Bruce Willis: Mel drug kingpin who has arranged the job but really could just been setting up the girls so he can get rid of them. Bruce took his money and enjoyed not having to work. (1/10)


Support Cast: Catch .44 has support cast that mostly ends up dead.


Director Review: Aaron Harvey – Aaron gives us a messy film that really isn’t going too remembered by anyone. (2/10)


Action: Catch .44 has little action that doesn’t really make you want to see mostly shooting with same scene over and over again. (3/10)

Crime: Catch .44 fills the crime storyline well trying to through twists into the criminal world. (5/10)

Thriller: Catch .44 doesn’t pull you as it blows the good scene in the opening scene. (2/10)

Settings: Catch .44 uses generic settings for the type of film. (4/10)
Special Effects
: Catch .44 uses terrible effects with the blood splatter. (2/10)

Suggestion: Catch .44 is one to avoid at all costs. (Avoid)


Best Part: Music is ok.

Worst Part: The story.


Believability: No (0/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: NO PLEASE NO

Post Credits Scene: No


Oscar Chances: No

Budget: $7 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 34 Minutes


Overall: This was just simply terrible and the characters spend more time telling stories than being in one.

Rating 5

American Hustle (2013)

logoDirector: David O. Russell

Writer: Eric Warren Singer, David O. Russell (Screenplay)

Starring: Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Jennifer Lawrence, Louis C.K., Jack Huston, Michael Pena, Shea Whigham, Alessandro Nivola, Elisabeth Rohn, Robert De Niro


Plot: Set in the alluring world of one of the most stunning scandals to rock our nation, American Hustle tells the story of brilliant con man Irving Rosenfeld (Bale), who along with his equally cunning and seductive British partner Sydney Prosser (Adams) is forced to work for a wild FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Cooper). DiMaso pushed them into a world of Jersey powerbrokers and mafia that’s as dangerous as it is enchanting. Carmine Polito (Renner), the passionate, volatile, New Jersey political operator caught between the con-artists and Feds. Irving’s unpredictable wife Rosalyn (Lawrence) could be the one to pull the thread that brings the entire world crashing down.


Verdict: A Con Artist Film With Twist


Story: When you have a con artist film you need to be anticipating some twist in the heroes favour. This has that and you are left to figure out how he will pull it off, what happens between is very familiar with the differences between the hero and the guy he has to complete the job for. What is not familiar is that the hero starts to support the guys he is meant to be conning, mix in a love triangle and you do get something more original. The film never tries to take its self too serious which is what makes it good, but in the end you won’t be left thinking I have to watch this again. (7/10)


Actor Reviews


Christian Bale: Irving the con-man who has to help his partner get off the crimes, keep his wife happy and work with someone he clearly doesn’t like. Good performance from Bale who takes a big step away from many roles he would be more know for. (9/10)


Bradley Cooper: Richie the FBI agent who wants to take as many people down as he could, stepping on whoever tries to stop him. Good cocky performance showing he doesn’t always have to play the good guy. (8/10)


Amy Adams: Sydney the partner in crime of Irving who gets caught, but will work with her partner to take down enough people to get off the crime, smart, sexy she has to put up with being Irving’s piece on the side due to his marriage commitments. Good performance as always from Adams showing she can fit in any role given to her. (9/10)


Jeremy Renner: Mayor Carmine the man they are all trying to catch, along with all his fellow big names who take money under the table. Good performance from Jeremy showing he can step into less serious roles after a string of action based films. (8/10)


Jennifer Lawrence: Rosalyn, Irving’s estranged wife, they both don’t like each other but stay together for her child, and she is clumsy and never follows instructions, the complete opposite of Irving. Good performance from Jennifer who shows she can fill smaller roles and still steal the scene.(8/10)


Director Review: David O. Russell – Good direction throughout showing how each character is currently feeling and letting us know how they think about what is going on. (8/10)


Crime: Good con artist themes throughout. (8/10)

Settings: Very good authentic settings for the time period. (9/10)

Suggestion: I think this is only one to try, I feel some people will not enjoy it due to its unoriginal con artist themes but they may enjoy the characters. (Try It)


Best Part: De Niro cameo

Worst Part: It is kind of slow.

Believability: The corruption involved is real, but the characters are all made up. (5/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No


Oscar Chances: Nominated for TEN Oscars, but didn’t win any.

Box Office: $251,171,807

Budget: $40 Million

Runtime: 2 Hours 18 Minutes

Tagline: Everyone Hustles To Survive


Overall: Con Artist time machine to the 70s

Rating 77