Tag Archives: val kilmer

Déjà Vu – Review

27 Dec

The film world is a much quieter place without Tony Scott. It was really upsetting to me this past year when I heard of his suicide. He was an action film maker who did more than make derivative movies. He invented a kinetic style that made the world the action was taking place in hyperrealistic.  With camera work that jolted the viewer all over the place to the highly saturated cinematography, you knew you were watching a Tony Scott movie without even needing to look at the credits. With films like True Romance and Man on FireDéjà Vu is certainly not his best, and I doubt if this is the movie that comes to people’s minds when they talk about Scott’s filmography.

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After a ferry explodes in New Orleans on Mardi Gras, ATF Agent Doug Carlin (Denzel Washington) is brought in to investigate. He proves himself as a worthy investigator and is recruited by FBI Agent Paul Pryzwarra (Val Kilmer) to join a special task force involved with this investigation. “Special” is an understatement, since this crew has technology that is able to bend time and space and look back into the past on a very specific delay. This ability leads them to look into the life of Claire Kuchever (Paula Patton) who was found dead near the area of the ferry explosion. What Carlin and the agents find by looking at Claire’s past is a terrorist (Jim Caviezel), whose targeted her to unwillingly assist him, unless Carlin can somehow travel to the past and save Claire, thereby saving everyone on the ferry.

What separates this from a lot of other more derivative action films is the gimmick of time travel. If this was about Agent Carlin and the investigation about the ferry and the terrorist who committed the crime, this would be a completely forgettable and unremarkable movie. The time travel aspect, and the technology behind it only serve to make the film a little bit more interesting than it could have been. Unfortunately, the movie is almost overblown with dialogue trying to explain the technology, but it isn’t very interesting. When the actually action involving the machine is put to use, it isn’t all that exciting, save for a few moments. Being a film that’s over two hours, the element of seeing through and traveling through time is a missed opportunity.

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There isn’t even a whole lot of action in this movie to keep me occupied. Like I said, there is a lot of talking in this movie, and a good portion of it is technical mumbo jumbo.  There is a pretty cool car chase in the movie that includes the bending of time, which is an example of how the gimmick of the movie can be put to good use. The other scenes of action are brief, but exciting. Still, there isn’t enough excitement to keep me fully entertained or on the edge of my seat, which is odd for a Tony Scott movie. Let me just touch on the element of time one more time, no pun intended. It really bothered me how it’s used here when it could’ve been so much better. Time travel is really cool and fun, despite each movie being totally illogical in its own way, but Déjà Vu takes the cake for being the simplest and most uninteresting.

The visuals still have that cool Tony Scott style that I’ve come to really enjoy about his movies. Everything is wonderfully over saturated and the camera work is so frenetic at times that it feels almost like a video game. That still doesn’t make the movie as good as it could be. Style over substance, in my opinion, can be passable as long as the movie knows that it isn’t shooting to be anything other than a stylistic roller coaster. This movie is not one of those. We are supposed to be completely involved with the weak characters and believe the dull plot device of time travel, all while enjoying the cool style. It just doesn’t work like that.

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Déjà Vu is one of Tony Scott’s weakest entries to his filmography. While it seems like there is certain potential for this to be a legit sci-fi action thriller, it really doesn’t live up to the standards that it creates. Instead, this movie is going to be forgettable and never make it onto anyone’s future list of action classics. I can’t even say it’s a fun way to spend two hours, since the plot is so thick with dialogue that only twists for brain for no reason. Too much talking and not enough action makes Déjà Vu a bland attempt at a genre blending action film.

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5 Days of War – Review

14 Aug

I enjoy seeing movies that have conflicts or worldly events as their story lines because chances are that I remember them actually happening. In 5 Days of War, the worldly event that happens is the short war between Russia and Georgia, a conflict that wasn’t really covered in full because of the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics. I still remember seeing some coverage, but not following the stories too well to know what was going on. After 5 Days of War, I still can’t say that I’m 100% about the incident because this is nothing more than lame propaganda.

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After being ambushed in Iraq and losing his friend, Thomas Anders (Rupert Friend) isn’t anxious to get back in the field. His job is dangerous, being a war reporter, but necessary to get the truth out in times of global crisis. After being talked into a trip to Georiga by his friend the Dutchman (Val Kilmer), Anders and his cameraman Sebastian (Richard Coyle) head over just in time to see the start of the violence between Russia and Georgia. While they are there, they witness and record a war atrocity and make it their mission to get it on the air despite being ignored by major news networks, all while protecting Tatia (Emmanuelle Chriqui), a Georgian woman who lost most of her family in the conflict.

The director of this film is Renny Harlin, who is most known for directing Die Hard 2Cliffhanger, and Deep Blue Sea. Now look at these movies, and think about the severity of the Russian-Georgian conflict. Taking a guy who directs mainly goofy action films and putting him in the directors chair for a film that is supposed to show a real life war with serious themes is not the best idea. It feels like part of the movie is there, but there are so many action clichés that pop up, it pulls you right out of the movie. These clichés also can be attributed to the awful screenplay.

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The screenplay. Oh, the screenplay. It may be more of an atrocity than what is depicted in the film. Ok, definitely not, but good lord. When I say it treats it’s audience like they’re a bunch of thirteen year olds who’ll believe anything they hear about anything, I’m being dead serious. First of all, haven’t the screenwriters, Mikko Alanne and David Battle, heard that when it comes to writing, less is more? There is so much expository dialogue and over decried scenarios that the dialogue feels more like a lecture than natural. Also, the clichés, which I have mentioned are terrible and would NEVER happen in a situation like this. Finally, the film makes the Georgians out to be peaceful angels who are being slaughtered by the evil Russian titans, thirsty for blood and power. Atrocities were done on both sides during the different conflicts between Georgia and Russia over the years. The Georgian propaganda is overwhelming and stupid.

Not all of this movie is bad, however. I will admit that there are some intense scenes that are pretty memorable. These are the times where the movie that this was supposed to be stands out. These intense scenes were accomplished well thanks to the cinematographer, Checco Varese, who was a news cameraman who recorded global conflict for many different news networks. As a guy who has been there and done that, the look of this movie is great and is really the only good thing about this movie

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5 Days of War is a stupid film that takes itself way too seriously, and ends up falling flat on its face. The propaganda is heavy handed and full of it, the characters are nothing special, and the story is clichéd and predictable. I can’t even say to check it out for the cool cinematography. It just isn’t worth it. There are better movies with this theme out there. Skip this movie altogether. It’s two hours of, for lack of a better word, bullshit.

Kill the Irishman – Review

11 Oct

The Mafia is not a group of people you want to have pissed off at you. We see the Mafia get pissed in the best gangster movies, and subsequently see them kill whomever they need to without error. What I have recently found out is that it’s equally as entertaining to see them fail over and over and over again. This is the backbone of the story seen in Kill the Irishman.

 

In the mid 1970s, Cleveland became a war zone as over 30 bombs went off in a gang war that almost engulfed the city. Who was the target? Danny Greene (Ray Stevenson). Danny Greene is the man who pissed off the Italian mafia more than they have ever been before and is partly responsible for the decline of organized crime in Cleveland, and more importantly, throughout America.

This was a very interesting and entertaining gangster flick, that was made all the better by it being a true story. The film makers made good use of its history by putting in actual news reports about Danny Greene and all of the trouble he was causing throughout the movie. To me, this really helped me concentrate on the history of the story and was a good reminder that this may be fictionalized, but it was true. It’s a pretty incredible story.

 

 

I’ve seen a lot of negativity surrounding this movie because of its low budget and some of the poor effects. Yes, this movie was made on a low budget so they couldn’t afford to actually blow everything up and some of the fire is fake. I agree that it looks pretty bad and might be kind of distracting when you first notice it, but should that get in the way of you enjoying the story and the characters? Everything else about this film is good. The acting is exactly what it should be and the as I’ve already said, I love the story.

I did have a bit of an issue with the lighting in some scenes, so I guess not everything was great. It’s not that it was particularly bad, it just wasn’t very interesting. Some of the scenes looked pretty flat. This doesn’t have to do with the low key lighting, which this film definitely was shot in, but the separation. If you don’t separate the characters from the background then the whole scene looks two dimensional. I got that feeling at certain points during the movie.

 

Despite these problems, I was completely invested in Kill the Irishman. I love the way it was told and I loved the characters. The cast was great with people like Christopher Walken, Vincent D’Onofrio, and Val Kilmer to name a few. All of the actors were completely into their characters which made the story flow a lot nicer.

I do have a bit of a soft spot for rise and fall movies, and this one is no exception. Even though it wasn’t filmed with the best equipment, had the biggest stars, or had the grandest budget, I still loved it all the same. The characters and the story are captivating and make you want to keep watching. A warning to the jaded Hollywood worshipers, some of the effects look pretty bad, but don’t let that stop you from enjoying the history lesson that is Kill the Irishman.

Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang – Review

25 Apr

Unfortunately, there really is no way for me to say this next statement without sounding like a pretentious douche bag, but I’m going to give it a shot because it has to be said to preface the review for Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang. I’m absolutely sick and tired of the predictable, humdrum, and fearful styles that film makers implement nowadays, especially the Hollywood types. These familiar structures that are seen in many different mainstream movies are boring if not completely unoriginal. It takes a truly bold and talented film maker to take these conventions and manipulate them into something totally different. Shane Black does this with Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang, and at the same time, mocks the overused mainstream formula.

As far as petty thievery goes, the world has seen better than Harry Lockhart (Robert Downey Jr.). When one of his attempts ends up with the police hot on his tail, he finds his escape through an audition to be in a Hollywood movie, and is actually considered for the role. He is flown to Los Angeles and put under the wing of Private Investigator Perry van Shrike, nicknamed “Gay Perry” (for reasons you can probably guess, in order to prepare for the upcoming role. He is soon mixed up in a bizarre web of crime involving a millionaire producer and his daughter, and the lovely girl from back home, Harmony Lane (Michelle Monaghan).

Shane Black is most known for writing the Lethal Weapon movies and is arguably one of the forerunners in the modern day action scene, although he went awhile without making a film. Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang is his directorial debut, and it is clear that he has talent in both the writing and directing areas of film. The dialogue in this film is quick, witty, and sarcastic from beginning to end. Some of the humor is easy to pick up on, and some requires the viewer to be paying attention to get the joke.

As I said before, this film exists to entertain the audience, but also to call out modern film conventions and formulas, and make a mockery out of them in a clearly tongue-in-cheek way. From the get go, Harry Lockhart establishes himself as a terrible and completely unreliable narrator by forgetting something important to the story and needing to go back or simply by saying that a certain scene seems unnecessary. This film is also very self-aware in the way that a few characters talk to the audience and give them advice. It’s a really funny tool used by Black, but these are just a few ways this movie plays with certain formulas. This film also succeeds in calling out the Hollywood/Beverly Hills culture and making a joke out the way these people live, and the ruthlessness behind the film industry.

In certain sections, the film tries its best to be really cool, in the sort of Ocean’s 11 or Snatch kind of way. Unfortunately, this is the area where the movie is pretty weak. This film tries really hard to belong in that subsection of crime films, and it doesn’t really work very well. I went into the movie expecting something like the aforementioned movies, but got something totally different. Luckily for Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang, what I got instead was just as good, if not a little better, than what I was expecting, even though it had the potential to fall flat on its face.

The chemistry between Robert Downey, Jr. and Val Kilmer is fantastic and makes for some exceptionally hysterical bickering. This helps the audience sort of keep their head on straight and laugh while trying to make their way through the way too convoluted plot. I really enjoyed all of the scenes in the movie, but I don’t feel like I completely can wrap my head around everything that happened in the movie. There are so many twists and additional plot points that happen and the pace of the movie is so quick, you have to be paying very close attention to the characters and situations in order to firmly grasp the plot.

Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang may be convoluted and tries to hard to be cool, but the comedy, dialogue, and characters hit a home run and make this film a fantastic piece of self-aware entertainment. For anyone who is sick of the repetitive formula of most Hollywood films or if you just enjoy snappy wordplay, then Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang is right up your alley. It’s are really good movie that I can’t wait to watch again!