Paul Newman Weekend – The Color of Money (1986)

Director: Martin Scorsese

Writer: Richard Price (Screenplay) Walter Tevis (Novel)

Starring: Paul Newman, Tom Cruise, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Helen Shaver, John Turturro, Bill Cobbs, Forest Whitaker

 

Plot: Fast Eddie Felson teaches a cocky but immensely talented protégé the ropes of pool hustling, which in turn inspires him to make an unlikely comeback.


Tagline – The Hustler isn’t what he used to be, but he has the next best thing. A kid who is.

Runtime: 1 Hour 59 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun Smart Sequel

 

Story: The Colour of Money starts when cocky young pool player Vincent Lauria (Cruise) arrives in Fast Eddie Felson (Newman) bar hustling pool against his best player Julian (Turturro). Eddie takes a shine to Vincent and talks his girlfriend Carmen (Mastrantonio) into going on the road to hustle teaching him the ropes.

As Eddie and Carmen try to control Vincent, Eddie learns that Vincent’s flare will keep taking over as he constantly wants to show off, the game has changed too, but this does give Eddie the desire to make a comeback.

 

Thoughts on The Colour of Money

 

Characters – Fast Eddie Felson is now out of the pool game and moved onto the liquor business, when he see Vincent in a bar he wants to take him under his wing and show him the art of the hustle, he is strict with his instructions and gets dreams of a comeback one day, to a life he walked away. Vincent Lauria is the hot shot young pool player that shines in the 9-ball game, he is overly confident and doesn’t follow instructions given to him with his own decisions being his downfall at making the big money early on. Carmen is the girlfriend of Vincent, she understands the rules of the hustle and needs to learn to control Vincent to achieve the highest return on the investments.

PerformancesPaul Newman returns to the character of Fast Eddie Felson, he returns with a bang and shines from the opening scene to the closing as we see his character go through retirement to getting obsessed with a game that nearly ruined his life. Tom Cruise is great as the overly confident player, we see that he is going to be a big star with this role. Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio is great too, we see how the she can control her player and stand up and be counted in the mostly male world.

StoryThe story follows the return to Fast Eddie Felson, a man we met in The Hustler, we see how he is out of the game now and still making money in his field as a salesman. We see how he sees potential in a new player to help him get back on the road and hustle again, maybe not the playing side, but the investing side. We get to focus on a veteran returning to the sport he loved to prove he is still the best, proving at any age you can return to the sport you love. Seeing how the game has changed from the straight pool style we knew to the 9-ball is the biggest change.

SportsThe table is the same, the game has changed, the pool is now 9-ball a faster version of pool, one that is a lot harder to hustle in because of the increased lucky involved at times, this doesn’t get addressed enough for me because I know how this game can play out and I will admit there is skill involved, this isn’t as skilful as the straight pool we saw in the first film.

SettingsThe film shows us the different styles of pool halls where Eddie tries to teach Vincent, we get the feeling everyone is a local in the hall too.


Scene of the Movie –
The tournament.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Which I know more money can come from hustling, I never understood why Eddie doesn’t go pro.

Final ThoughtsThis is a great sequel to one of the best films of all time, Paul Newman showed us all that he will always be one of the coolest and best actors we ever had, while Cruise makes the big impact.

 

Overall: Strikes the right buttons all game long.

Rating

 

 

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Valkyrie (2008)

Director: Bryan Singer

Writer: Christopher McQuarrie, Nathan Alexander (Screenplay)

Starring: Tom Cruise, Kenneth Branagh, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson, Carice van Houten, Thomas Kretschmann, Terrence Stamp

 

Plot: A dramatization of the 20 July assassination and political coup plot by desperate renegade German Army officers against Hitler during World War II.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Good War Thriller

 

Story: Valkyrie starts in the middle of World War II, outspoken German Colonel Claus Stauffenberg (Cruise) is assigned duty in Tunisia where he gets injured. Back in German Major General Henning von Tresckow (Branagh) has been working on a plan to assassinate Hitler and ending the war.

When Henning’s latest choice fails, he gets his fellow General Friedrich Olbricht (Nighy) to recruit a new member to this secret group and Claus is that man. We follow as the plan to assassinate Hitler comes together with espionage between the ranking officers, secret meetings and changes in potential candidates.  

 

Thoughts on Valkyrie

 

Characters/PerformanceColonel Claus von Stauffenberg is the soldier injured during the war and now he is the man with the plan to assassinate Hitler. Major General Henning von Tresckow is the officer that brings Claus into the circle as he wants to find the end of the war. General Friedrich Olbricht is the handler of Claus in the ranking side of things but off the books he must follow the instructions of Claus. The characters are all based on real people all involved in the real assassination attempt on Hitler.

Performance wise, well first we need to address that this is an English-speaking movie about what is happening within German during the war so we need to look past that when judging these performances of Tom Cruise who is good showing he can do serious movies over action sequences. Nighy, Branagh and Wilkinson are all great through the film as are the rest of the cast.

StoryThis is a look at a moment in history that many people don’t know about, we all know how World War II went and the bigger events, but looking at the story of a revolution within the German army to stop Hitler ending the war. The amount of people that would risk their lives to stop Hitler but the weak point here is we know the truth that it failed.

History/War Looking in the history of World War II we get to learn about a smaller detail which get covered up because they were failed missions to end the war and this gives us that story.

SettingsEach setting shows us the image of war time Germany with little issues with the look of the sets.

Final ThoughtsNice look into history about a moment that could have changed the end of the war forever.

 

Overall: Historical film that does show us a moment of great risk that ended in failure.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Comedy – A – American Made (2017)

Director: Doug Liman

Writer: Gary Spinelli (Screenplay)

Starring: Tom Cruise, Domhnall Gleeson, Sarah Wright, Jesse Plemons, Caleb Landry Jones, Lola Kirke

 

Plot: The story of Barry Seal, an American pilot who became a drug-runner for the CIA in the 1980s in a clandestine operation that would be exposed as the Iran-Contra Affair.


Tagline – Based on a True Lie

Runtime: 1 Hour 55 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Enjoyable

 

Story: American Made starts as Barry Seal (Cruise) a pilot gets offered a job by the CIA agent Monty Schafer (Gleeson) to fly over different parts of Northern and Southern America to take photos for the CIA, the job is exclusive but as his family grows with Lucy (Wright) having children, he needs more money.

When one if his flights takes him to South America he meets businessman Pablo Escobar (Mejia) and his partners who recruit him to smuggle drug into America. Before long Barry is getting pushed into other forms of smuggling both to and from America.

 

                            Thoughts on American Made

 

Characters – Barry Seal was a small-time cigar smuggling pilot before he gets recruited by the CIA to fly over other parts of the Americas to spy, soon he becomes involved in large scale smuggling across America both in and out, he believes he is working in the CIA but always seemed to be getting slightly in deeper than first thought. He struggles to keep his personal life together with his wife and children suffering his sudden changes in location. Monty is the CIA agent that recruits Barry to smuggle, he believes he is in control of the whole situation as he bails Barry out of trouble and gives him the instructions from the American side of the events. Lucy is the wife of Barry that must deal with his lifestyle but once there is a large amount of money involved she embraces the life of luxury for her family. We do have the drug dealing side of the characters that Barry deals with but we only see them in the dealing side of the story.

PerformancesThis is another Tom Cruise vehicle where he shows just how talent he is, this helps his credibility after the disaster which was The Mummy, this could be his best full ranged acting performance in years. Domhnall is great in his supporting role showing he can work in nearly any genre right now. Sarah Wright is good but we don’t get to see enough of her characters struggle or enjoyment of the money.

StoryThe story follows Barry Seal and how he went from small-time cigar smuggler into one of the most infamous drug and gun smugglers in modern American history. We follow the events from how he remembers them explaining how he just didn’t seem to know how things just kept falling his way but he went with the flow and how the government helped support the international gun trade. This was a lot more interesting that I could imagine showing us just how corrupt the government could be when it needed to be.

Action/Biopic/ComedyThe action comes from how Barry would get the job done, he has edge of the seat moments of when it comes to the flight sequences, the comedy is lightly toned into the story which sounds like a comedy over a real story but seeing the story of Barry Seal and his smuggling makes for an interesting biopic.

SettingsThe film does take us across difference parts America to show where Barry ends up going to which all look like the time being presented in the film.


Scene of the Movie –
Emergency Landing

That Moment That Annoyed Me It does make the idea seem like a good thing rather than a criminal in action.

Final ThoughtsThis is an entertaining biopic that shows how a smuggler ran a multi-million-dollar organisation that even the government supported.

 

Overall: Enjoyable movie all around.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Sci-Fi – W – War of the Worlds (2005)

Director: Steven Spielberg

Writer: Josh Friedman, David Koepp (Screenplay) H.G. Wells (Novel)

Starring: Tom Cruise, Dakota Fanning, Miranda Otto, Justin Chatwin, Tim Robbins, Rick Gonzalez, Yul Vazquez

 

Plot: As Earth is invaded by alien tripod fighting machines, one family fights for survival.


Tagline – They’re already here

Runtime: 1 Hour 56 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Sci-Fi Spectacular

 

Story: War of the Worlds starts when the deadbeat dad figure Ray (Cruise) is left to look after his children Rachel (Fanning) and Robbie (Chatwin) for a weekend, while he ex-wife Mary Ann (Otto) goes away with her new partner. We see early on the problems and strain in the relationship, but when an unknow storm hit New York a robotic creature comes out of the ground, killing everyone.

Ray grabs his kids and gets the hell out of the city racing across the country in hope of getting to Mary Ann where the kids want to be, the problem is the America is going into chaos and it becomes survival of the fittest against these unkillable robots.

 

Thoughts on War of the Worlds

 

Characters – Ray is the deadbeat dad that has always be a let down to his kids, he doesn’t live in the nicest house, but the neighbours all love him. He is distant from his children after the divorce and after the attack happens this everyday man must do everything he can to keep his children safe. Rachel is his youngest child, she is insecure about being away from her mother, needing to put trust in her father, reacting panicked during the attacks like a young girl would, but strangely offering mature advice with dealing with the older brother. Mary Ann is the ex-wife and mother that is the target for the journey across America. Robbie is the eldest son that does hate his father, as he sees the good in his father he wants to join the fight back against the invaders. Harlan Ogilvy is a stranger that offers help only to be the one that could put Ray’s family in the most danger.

PerformancesTom Cruise is wonderful in this leading role, he proves he can be the everyman in this role, he shows the vulnerable moments needed as his character only has one goal, save his family. Dakota Fanning continued to show she was a force in the future of Hollywood with her performance where she shines. Tim Robbins gives us a truly creepy character while the rest of the cast is great too.

StoryThe story is a modern version of one of the greatest radio recordings of all time, we bottle the story down nicely to focus on one father that is doing everything he can to keep his children safe during an alien invasion. Sure, the ending is weak, but this is much like Jurassic Park, it isn’t about the aliens, its about the people surviving the situation. The story is simple to follow to as we see the family getting caught up in different moments of the attack each one showing the panic that would surround it.

Adventure/Sci-FiThe adventure is filled with peril and shock as the family races for survival, this survival will show the horrors of what will happen if they don’t become safe. The sci-fi side of the film showed us just how the aliens came to invade, came rom beneath us and prepared against our own weapons.

SettingsThe film shows us the destruction of the aliens leave in their path, we see how the big cities are destroyed and how the quiet location are just as dangerous.

Special EffectsThe effects for the film are fantastic, from the early destruction to the special look of the wide shots of the attack going on.


Scene of the Movie –
Basement scene with Harlan.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The end of the story is always weak.

Final ThoughtsThis is easily one of the great modern sci-fi films, it modernises one of the greatest stories, we have excellent special effects and a story that is simple enough to be effective.

 

Overall: Sci-Fi fans must be watching.

Rating

 

 

Mission Impossible – Fallout (2018)

Director: Christopher McQuarrie

Writer: Christopher McQuarrie (Screenplay) Bruce Geller (Television Series)

Starring: Tom Cruise, Henry Cavill, Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Sean Harris, Angela Bassett, Vanessa Kirby, Michelle Monaghan, Wes Bentley, Alec Baldwin

 

Plot: Ethan Hunt and his IMF team, along with some familiar allies, race against time after a mission gone wrong.


Tagline – Some missions are not a choice.

Runtime: 2 Hours 27 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Adrenaline Blast

 

Story: Mission Impossible: Fallout starts when Ethan Hunt (Cruise) and his team Luther (Rhames) and Benji (Pegg) have a mission gone wrong with plutonium falling into the wrong hands. CIA director Erica Sloan (Bassett) wants it back and her team to do the job, but know Ethan has everything lined up she assigns them her best man August Walker (Cavill) to join the team.

The mission is to retrieve the plutonium which leads them to cross paths with old allies and enemies before they can be used as a weapon that would devastate the Earth.

 

Thoughts on Mission Impossible – Fallout

 

Characters – Ethan Hunt is the man, agent the leader of the group, he will go into any situation with a plan, trusting the people behind him, this time his loyalty puts the world in peril and his must prove he can find a way to save the day without comprising his position. August Walker is a CIA agent, a fixer if you like, he will get the job done by shooting first asking questions later, which has led him to clash with Hunt, they have both made mistakes which could have got the job done earlier and now he is the one man you don’t want to fight against. Luther and Benji are the key components to Ethan’s team, they have the know how to get the job done and are two of the only people he will trust. Ilsa Faust returns and this time she crosses paths with Ethan turning up at the same locations on her own mission, still deadly and a figure that you will be on the fence about what side she is fight for. We have our authority figures in Alan Hunley and Erica Sloan who of course are clashing, as well as other figures that would be in the criminal world.

PerformancesTom Cruise, what more can say about this guy, when it comes to action he commits big time and this is no different, the action sequences he puts his body through and even the emotional factors included in this film show just how talented he is, with this easily being one of his best action performances of his career. Henry Cavill, I haven’t always been a fan of because Superman is kind of boring, in this film however, we get to see that this man is a talent, we believe he will kick your ass if you crossed him and the moments of emotionless moments are key to his character. Pegg and Rhames do have great chemistry and the comic relief, while Ferguson returns to keep enough mystery about her character for long enough in the film. Bassett and Baldwin will always make good authority figures and to see Vanessa Kirby fresh from The Crown in a big movie, she is great to watch here.

StoryThe story here follows Ethan on his latest mission, this time we get to see what could happen if the by the book mission goes wrong for his own personal reasons over a traitor in the group like the normal opening. The idea he needs to work with an outside isn’t new, the idea that he could be the traitor in the eyes of the authority isn’t new, but it has been tried and tested. Making this feel like a direct sequel is new though, the previous instalments have always felt like, just another mission, this one references previous stories and that increases the peril even if everything plays out to not completely mock certain aspects, but poke a tiny bit of fun at them.

Action/AdventureThe action, the reason we go to these films, while you do get a glimpse of nearly all the sequences in the trailer, the length and intensity to them isn’t shown there and you will be watching from the edge of your seat just to see where or what Hunt does next. The adventure side of the film does take Ethan across the world to save it before it is too late.

SettingsThe film uses key locations, with have Paris, London and Kashmir, each one offers a different action sequences to take place.  

Special EffectsThe effects show us just how committed or crazy Tom Cruise is, while they are prepared stunts everything is practical and looks it in every single scene.


Scene of the Movie –
London chase.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The opening credits give snippets of the action we are about to see.

Final ThoughtsThis is another quality addition to the Mission Impossible franchise, it is going to go down as one of the best usages of practical stunts for years to come and shows how they can still be used to this day.

 

Overall: Pure rush of an action film.

Rating