Monday, February 15, 2010

Edge of Darkness

I recognize that this came out a few of weeks ago but I really wanted to see it and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised with the end result. When I first heard that Mel Gibson was returning to the silver screen in front of the camera I was dismissive. Mel Gibson is a loon who the hell would give him a lead role now a days. When I saw Director Martin Campbell's name attached I was intrigued. I've enjoyed almost all of his major action flicks from Goldeneye and Mask of Zorro to Casino Royale and his upcoming Green Lantern. (which I have no doubt will be awesome.) Add to it writer William Monahan (The Departed) and damnit I'm on board. Yes, Mel Gibson is crazy but he plays crazy so good. I love early Mel from Mad Max to Lethal Weapon and then later Ransom and Payback. You don't mess with Mel's family, bad guys never seem to understand this. This movie certainly lives up to some of these films. No one does the intense vengeful hatred with a heavy dose of suffering better than 'ol Sugar Tits. And he doesn't disappoint here. He's not as crazy as Riggs but when he gets going you certainly want to get the hell out of his way because he will bulldoze your ass into the ground.Detective Thomas Craven (Mel Gibson) investigates the murder of his estranged daughter (Bojana Novakovic) but as he digs deeper finds himself embroiled in a conspiracy that could find him taking a dirtnap. There are some pretty cool twists and turns here, most of them work pretty well. But I don't want to give to much away, so I'll keep my trap shut on those. I really enjoyed seeing Ray Winstone in the flick as a NSA clean up man. The guy is truly great in almost everything he does. There are some excellent scenes between he and Mel in the battle of who is a tougher bad ass. Obviously the edge goes to Mel but not for a minute did I believe that Winstone's Jedburgh was gonna be on the losing end. I also really enjoyed the conspiracy itself, but again I will spare you the details. Suffice it to say that Danny Huston's Corporate goon was perfectly cast and wonderfully executed.I'm actually really curious now to see the original BBC mini-series that Campbell himself made that was the inspiration for this film. I honestly thought it was going to be just another revenge flick but as we dig deeper there is a more complex story here that ends up in some murky moral waters, that I thought, played out nicely. The only time I felt the film fell flat was the constant flashbacks to happier times with his daughter. I get that you want to show the tragedy of the story. The humanity behind Craven, but occasionally it's laid on a bit thick. It began to feel like a Lifetime movie within an edgy action flick. I think the first couple of flashbacks work seamlessly through the film but then it becomes contrived when he's going back to similar images again and again. The audience isn't dumb they get it he really loved his daughter, now move on. Otherwise I felt that this was a tight action film that builds to a perfect bubble as Craven gets closer to the truth. If you haven't seen this yet, check it out it's worth seeing in the theatre and it's a great example of a director, writer and star simultaneously kicking ass at their jobs.

Grade 3 Buckets

Thursday, February 11, 2010

From Paris With Love

I actually saw this one last weekend but had no time at all to post the review. It tanked gloriously at the box office, which kind of surprised me. Yes this was a cheesy action flick with Mr. Saturday Night Fever hamming it up all the way-- BUT -- it was fun. I really thought this would have opened bigger. Director Pierre Morel (Taken) and Producer/Writer Luc Besson (The Professional, Fifth Element) tried to capture the fun craziness of Lethal Weapon and in my opinion they almost got there. Besson has always been known for his highly stylized action films. Morel has shown he can handle gritty down in the dirt suspense thrillers. Together, they made a passable and enjoyable actioner. The plot, however, was contrived and fairly predictable. I went with my Father-in-Law and he guessed one of the big twists almost instantly. Now if I were to compare it to some of those craptastic films of the 80's & 90's like Commando, Tango & Cash & Demolition Man, yeah I think it can hang in that crowd.Travolta has been in some hit or miss flicks of late but he really steals the show this time around as gonzo CIA agent Charlie Wax. Unfortunately the focus of the film is on the boring and wooden Jonathan Rhys Meyers. James Reece (Meyers) is the U.S. Ambassador to France's assistant. He also does low-level work for the CIA. He asks his handlers for more dangerous missions and they decide to grant his wish by giving him a partner, Charlie Wax. Until Charlie gets there the film kind of drags along. I have heard that Meyers is really great on the Tudors (haven't seen it as yet.) but so far in just about everything I've seen him in from Match Point to Mission Impossible III he just looks like he's reading his lines. I will admit he gets less boring as soon as the action gets going. And as a duo they are ok, not the kind of chemistry that hearkens back to Riggs and Murtaugh or Butch and Sundance but it does the job. Wax curses like a sailor and kills pretty much anyone that gets in his way while Reece looks befuddled and hunkers in the corner. First it seems they are after drug dealers and then it becomes a race against time to stop a terrorist bomb from killing the Secretary of State. The bad guys are 2-dimensional and even after seeing the thing I couldn't tell you who they were or what their organization was all about. They were an a-typical terrorist group that wanted to blow somebody up. Yes, sometimes a simple plot in an action flick is good but in this case it's just basically saying in caveman-ese, "Terrorist bad. Blow things up, good." Wax's insane body count can attest to this theory. In a nutshell it's a dumb action flick with some thrills and John Travolta hamming it up. Is it completely ludicrous? Absolutely, is it worth the ten or eleven bucks you'll throw down, eh, maybe see it on a Matinee show.

Grade 2 and 1/2 buckets