ABC Film Challenge – Thriller – W – The Walker (2007)

Director: Paul Schrader

Writer: Paul Shrader (Screenplay)

Starring: Woody Harrelson, Kristin Scott Thomas, Lauren Bacall, Ned Beatty, Moritz Bleibtreu, Mary Beth Hurt, Lily Tomlin, Willem Dafoe

 

Plot: An escort who caters to Washington D.C.’s society ladies becomes involved in a murder case.


Tagline – Everyone loves a good scandal

Runtime: 1 Hour 48 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Slow Mystery

 

Story: The Walker starts as high society walker Carter Page III (Harrelson) keeps the ladies of the Washington high society company, with Lynn Lockner (Thomas) being one of his most famous clients. When Lynn discovers a murder, Carter takes up a position to help her not ruin her name for being at this location, while the rest of the society Natalie Van Miter (Bacall), Jack Delorean (Beatty) try to learn his involvement in the murder.

As the case continues to grow, Carter becomes the prime suspect being targeted by the police and the high society that want somebody to take the blame away from their own circle.

 

Thoughts on The Walker

 

Characters – Carter Page III has made a career out of mingling around the women of high society, where he walks them in parties to keep them entertained, his actions never put the rumours in the air, until one of the ladies is involved in a murder, Carter sees the once always open doors closing around him, forcing him to uncover the truth to save his own reputation.  Lynn Lockner is one of the most frequent clients for Carter, they have a close friendship which is tested when she is involved in the murder of a man, did she discover the body or have something to do with it? Natalie Van Miter is another one of the high society that enjoys Carter’s company only she doesn’t always play fair with the others in the circle. Jack Delorean isn’t the biggest fan of Carter and certain members of the high society, he is always looking for dirt on them.

PerformancesWoody Harrelson is the highlight of the film with his engaging performance in an otherwise forgettable story. Kristin Scott Thomas, Lauren Bacall, Ned Beatty bring their big name presence to the film without making the impact to make you care about their characters.

StoryThe story takes us into the high society world where the rich believe they can get away with anything, we follow a walker that mingles with the ladies to keep the business with gossip etc, when a murder is committed, he becomes the prime suspect and must figure out how to clear his name before his reputation is ruined. This story is just like you would imagine, it is a series of conversations from people that are always looking down on people who just want to take each other of their high horses through the eyes of a man desperately trying to stay within the circle. This story could have been extended to give more development to the characters through a television series, which would have been a lot more interesting to watch.

Crime/MysteryThe crime side of the film follows the aftermath of the murder which adds to the mystery as to who committed it and why, we do get plenty of suspects, but most people we meet seem to have a shady reason to be in the position they are in.

SettingsThe film is set in the Washington high society world, with flashy parties, massive apartments, everything you don’t see people in natural life.


Scene of the Movie –
Reporting the murder.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Not enough time to address the real issues touched on within the story.

Final ThoughtsThis is a story that had potential to be much bigger and more interesting only for it to become mostly forgettable with the slow pacing and weak character development.

 

Overall: Slow and disappointing.

Rating

 

 

The Highwaymen (2019)

Director: John Lee Hancock

Writer: John Fusco (Screenplay)

Starring: Kevin Costner, Woody Harrelson, Kim Dickens, Emily Brobst, Kathy Bates, W Earl Brown, John Carroll Lynch

 

Plot: A pair of police officers come out of retirement to catch the infamous outlaws Bonnie & Clyde.


Tagline – This March, there are no High Roads.

Runtime: 2 Hours 12 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Nice Crime Hunt

 

Story: The Highwaymen starts with Bonnie and Clyde’s spree going on for two-years, Governor Ferguson (Bates) is running out of options as the two have become celebrities because of their action. Facing little options Lee Simmons suggests turning to two former Texas Rangers Frank Hamer (Costner) and Maney Gault (Harrelson) to track down and end the spree.

With Frank having no other choice after more law enforcement officers are killed, he turns to Maney who has been struggling in the afterlife of being a ranger, he has different beliefs to Frank, which will see them needing to figure out how to eliminate the threat with the honour they are used to acting in, can they stop the murderous pair and their gang.

 

Thoughts on The Highwaymen

 

Characters – Frank Hamer is a legendary Texas Ranger, force into retirement with new laws in place, but landing on his feet, he gets turned to for help hunt down Bonnie & Clyde, he must accept that he would be going against what he used to do, return to killing, but most importantly turn to a former partner. Maney Gault is one of the best partners that Frank hand, the force retirement was harder on him with drink being he solution, he is the last resort on skill level, but the first one Frank turns too, he does have standards on how he beliefs on how he handles killing, only once shot upon, he becomes a kind of mentor for a young officer on the hunt. Ma Ferguson is the governor that recruits Frank and Maney to hunt down Bonnie & Clyde, she is reluctant at first wanting to follow more legal causes. Lee Simmons is the one suggesting that the Texan Rangers to help capture them, he puts his neck on the line for it.

PerformancesKevin Costner and Woody Harrelson are two of the best actors in the business, they can play any of these law men with ease and they make each their own with ease. The two are front and centre for most of the film, the supporting cast are solid enough without struggling.

StoryThe story follows the two Texas Rangers that hunted down Bonnie & Clyde who were on the killing spree over. The highlight of the story comes from following the law enforcement instead of the criminals, we should do this more often with the people that hunt down the criminals and not make the criminals to idols of the story. this is mostly just the two reflecting on their careers, what they did before retirement, what they might need to do once they catch up to the criminals. It does pace well enough, we don’t over focus on the crimes, only the reaction to them.

Crime/MysteryThe crime side of the film is the hunting down of Bonnie & Clyde, we see how the Texas Rangers track down the criminals. The mystery in the film comes from just how the hunting down was being done.

SettingsEach setting takes us around the open roads in the American where the criminals would have been operating in.


Scene of the Movie –
Costner & Harrelson reflect on one of their biggest mission.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Why were Bonnie & Clyde idolised?

Final ThoughtsInteresting look at one of the biggest take downs of criminals in American history, we have strong leading performances and don’t focus on the criminals.

 

Overall: Smart way to study a big case.

Rating

 

 

Doc Hollywood (1991)

Director: Michael Caton-Jones

Writer: Jeffrey Price, Peter S Seaman, Daniel Pyne (Screenplay) Neil B Shulman (Book)

Starring: Michael J Fox, Julie Warner, Barnard Hughes, Woody Harrelson, David Ogden Stiers, Frances Sternhagen, George Hamilton, Bridget Fonda

 

Plot: A young doctor causes a traffic accident in a small town and is sentenced to work for some days at the town hospital.


Tagline – This summer’s prescription for comedy

Runtime: 1 Hour 44 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Enjoyable Small Town Comedy

 

Story: Doc Hollywood starts as we meet hotshot doctor Ben Stone (Fox) who is on his way to a cosmetic surgery job in Beverly Hills only for him to have an accident and upsetting the locals. Ben is forced into working for 32-hours in the local doctors to pay for his crime, the Mayor (Stiers) is trying to talk into staying in the town as the new doctor and Ben must learn to navigate the town for the week.

In the town Ben starts to fall for the feisty ambulance driver Lou (Warner) who just might give him a reason to stay away from the big city life.

 

Thoughts on Doc Hollywood

 

Characters – Ben Stone has worked for years to get to the very top of his field, he is finally getting a chance to make serious money in the world of cosmetic surgery, this has made him cocky and selfish in nature. After his accident he does try to talk himself out of any trouble only to end up needing to be a small towns doctor for the week, he finds himself torn between the high life or the quiet life after falling for a woman in the town. Lou is the ambulance driver in the town, Ben falls for her, she has her own ambitions and has made her sacrifices along the way after a previous heartache.  Dr Hogue is the current doctor in the town, he is old school style and his ways clash with Ben, he doesn’t like the new way of doctoring, but his health isn’t what it used to be. Hank is the love rival of Ben, he has been good friends with Lou for years and his fast-taking style tries to sell everyone insurance.

PerformancesMichael J Fox is fantastic in the leading role here, he gets to show his natural charisma to show us how unlikeable a cocky and likeable a character can be. Julie Warner is great as the love interest that could have too much baggage for a man like Ben, we see how she makes us want and understand her characters decisions. We get a good supporting cast who all give performances that fit the characters they are playing.

StoryThe story here shows us how a successful doctor on route to a big job which would leave him in the life of luxury, but along the way he ends up stuck in a small town getting back to the roots of what it is to be a doctor of a small community. This is a story that while is generic is easily on that can be enjoyed, we see how one man who has only ever thought about himself starts helping people in need of help and learning this is what will make him feel happy in life. We do get the town dynamics which we would expect to see and of course we need the love story as the woman Ben meets could help him see life a new way. This is one story that has a sweetness to everything going on and is easily one we could see everyone enjoy.

Comedy/RomanceThe film does have a wonderful amount of comedy that often comes Ben’s reaction to anything he isn’t used too. The romance side of the film shows us just how meeting someone can change your view on life.

SettingsThe film shows us how a high rolling doctor must adapt to quiet town after committing a minor crime, this shows us just how different the two worlds Ben must be involved.


Scene of the Movie –
Leaving town.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Certain supporting characters would be classed as generic small town figures.

Final ThoughtsThis is an enjoyable comedy that showed us just how talented Michael J Fox was, it might well be generic formula and this only makes this more enjoyable movie.

 

Overall: Fun serious rom com.

Rating

 

 

Money Train (1995)

Director: Joseph Ruben

Writer: Doug Richardson, David Loughery (Screenplay) Doug Richardson (Story)

Starring: Wesley Snipes, Woody Harrelson, Jennifer Lopez, Robert Blake, Chris Cooper, Joe Grifasi

 

Plot: A vengeful New York transit cop decides to steal a trainload of subway fares; his foster brother, a fellow cop, tries to protect him.


Tagline – If you’re a criminal, Stay on the Train!

Runtime: 1 Hour 50 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun Throughout

 

Story: Money Train starts as we follow two New York Transit Cops John (Snipes) and Charlie (Harrelson) foster brothers that work well together as they look to take on pick pocketers in the subway system. When they get a new member to their team Grace (Lopez) the two brothers argue over who gets first chance at hitting on her.

When one of the brothers is pushed too far, he ends up going against the law and the only person that can save him in his brother.

 

Thoughts on Money Train

 

Characters – John is one of the foster brother pairing, he is the responsible one that always has Charlie’s back and bails him out of the trouble he gets in. Charlie is the screw up of the brother pairing, he has drinking and gambling problems which have caused him to fall of the straight life. Grace is the rookie cop that joins the unit causing the brothers to bicker over who should hit on her first, this isn’t the strongest woman character because it implies that a new girl to a unit will become first one to be hit on and quite happy to go along with things, rather than be a free thinker, but she can handle herself in a fight.

PerformancesWesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson had fantastic chemistry during this time and it shows in their performances here as they nail the comedy and action required for the roles. Jennifer Lopez is good in her role filling the support role well.

StoryThe story follows two foster brothers that have overcome their upbringing to become good transit police, we see how the bicker and have big plans for life, but when one gets pushed too far the other must stop him making the biggest mistake of his life. While this is entertainment the film does lack from a true villain for the brothers needing to work together to overcome and when one turns he is only desperate over being a danger.

Action/Comedy/CrimeThe action is by the book with the final chase being the highlight of the film, the comedy is not thrown in too heavy and comes through Snipes and Harrelson’s chemistry. The crime side of the film shows how the two brothers must get their jobs done against the odds

SettingsNew York makes for a good setting for this to unfold because it shows the high crimes in the subway system. The subway tracks work for the big final chase too.


Scene of the Movie –
Train chase.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Lack of a real villain.

Final ThoughtsThis is a fun action comedy that shows us that Harrelson and Snipes were fantastic pairing, most of the film is routine, but its lack of a true villain puts a spanner in any threat they face.

 

Overall: Fun, funny and enjoyable.

Rating

 

 

Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)

Director: Ron Howard

Writer: Jonathan Kasdan, Lawrence Kasdan (Screenplay) George Lucas (Characters)

Starring: Alden Ehrenreich, Joonas Suotamo, Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, Donald Glover, Thandie Newton, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Paul Bettany

 

Plot: During an adventure into a dark criminal underworld, Han Solo meets his future copilot Chewbacca and encounters Lando Calrissian years before joining the Rebellion.

 

Runtime: 2 Hours 15 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Star Wars Fans Only

 

Story: Solo: A Star Wars Story starts as we meet Han (Ehrenreich) and his girlfriend Qi’ra (Clarke) are they are planning a life away from a prison like planet, Han gets away and joins forces with smuggler Beckett (Harrelson) and along the way he meets Chewbacca (Suotamo) and Lando Calrissian (Glover) as they go on one high risk heist to clear their debts from Dryden Vos (Bettany).

 

Thoughts on Solo: A Star Wars Story

 

Characters – Han comes from a prison like planet, dreaming of being the best pilot in the galaxy, once out he wants to save his girl, but to do so he must team up with smugglers to pay for his own ship, he meets his trusted co-pilot Chewbacca and other business partners in the galaxy, not wanting to commit to either side of the impending war. Chewbacca shows his loyalty to Han, as the one who saved him, he is pretty much what we know, but strangely has more of the comic side like we have seen in the modern films. Beckett the thief that reluctantly takes Han under his wing, he teaches him the trade and how to survive becoming the mentor figure for the film. Qi’ra is the girlfriend from the prison planet that Han wants to go back for and save one day, she gives him the strength to take the risks he does. Lando Calrissian is the charismatic smuggler that knows how to get out of any bad situation, he has the flare to draw the ladies in and will do anything to protect his ship. Dryden Vos in a gangster figure that the deal is for, he will kill people, but just ends up being standard villain, not offering much of a threat or back story, to what his scars are about. We have a couple more names characters, but none make too much of an impact, L3-37 doesn’t hit the comedy levels that is hoped for and Rio falls into knocked off Rocket Racoon territory.

PerformancesI don’t want to write that any of the performances we bad, the problem is that most are not that memorable, Alden always had huge shoes to follow and he doesn’t seem to capture the charm Ford bought to the role, Joonas is great as Chewbacca, but not too difficult for what he needs to do, Woody Harrelson is someone I could watch in most films, he is always good. Emilia Clarke continues to pop up in big franchise movies and being fine without being anything more, Paul Bettany enjoys a villainous role without needing to do much and Donald Glover is the scene stealer here as you want to watch every moment he is in.

StoryWe know from the start this is an origin story for Han Solo, this does the instant thing we know, HE WILL NOT BE IN TROUBLE IN THIS FILM, putting him in any peril related moment is almost pointless same goes for Chewbacca and Lando, as for the rest there is always questions about their relationship to Han and whether he could trust them, this is good part. The story also includes the origin of the Solo name, which is awful. The problem with the story for myself is that it is a generic heist movie that we have seen with Firefly/Serenity who did it a lot better, this doesn’t give us too much to go on even if the story is paced well to not give us too much slow moments.

Action/Adventure/Fantasy/Sci-FiThe action is on the levels you would expect for a Star Wars film, we have laser battles which the bad guys can’t shot for shit and the heroes one shot anyone, so basically me on Fortnite. The adventure does take Han on his first across the galaxy even though it never feels like we are part of it and even the sci-fi side of the film just seems to not hit the marks.

SettingsThe settings take us to the different planets, we have a snowy one, a criminal based one, a desert one and mining one, none look overly original or make anything memorable about what happens there.

Special EffectsThe effects are the best part of the film, nothing looks out of place the creation of the different droids is great and the space sequences look flawless.


Scene of the Movie –
Lando alone.

That Moment That Annoyed Me How he got the Solo name.

Final ThoughtsThis is one I can see the Star Wars fan loving, if you haven’t seen a Star Wars movie, this will miss on too many levels, the comedy barely hits, the characters decision making makes no sense and by the end of the movie you will be better off watching Firefly.

 

Overall: Disappointingly generic sci-fi heist movie.

Rating