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Movie Review: The Commuter (2018)

Liam Neeson is the believable weathered action hero that has that “special set of skills” that makes him (most attractively) your worst nightmare. Not since Jack Bauer or Jason Borne (or before both of them, Chuck Norris) has an action hero come along that you get so enraptured in by his doing so little on screen.

Taken, Taken II, Taken III, and then The Grey...and, hell, it doesn’t matter from there since we were “taken” with the fiery Irish Neeson right from the beginning. But now we’re at The Commuter and Neeson’s “special skills” are not so apparent.

Neeson plays “Michael MacCauley,” an insurance salesman and ex-cop who is about to see his luck take a turn for the worse. On a subway ride home, he is approached by a strange woman (Vera Farmiga) and, in turn, finds himself trying to figure out the identity of one particular passenger. The stakes are high, especially when he finds out he is being watched and his family is involved. As the mystery turns into a full-blown criminal cons…
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Movie Review: The Mule (2018)

Clint Eastwood’s The Mule tries to bring us a semi-redemptive story about the ravaging wisdom of age from a life filled with regret. The results: Well, being generous, they are mixed.

"Earl Stone" (Eastwood) was a great horticulturalist in 2005. He had a green thumb. Then came the internet. Fast forward to 2017 and he’s not only missing out on his daughter and granddaughter’s wedding and special occasions like he’s done all his working life, but he’s dead broke and losing his house. Earl's estranged wife, "Mary" (Dianne Wiest) is past the days of trying to stand by his side. He just hasn't been there, and everyone is plain tired of it. In dire straits, an acquaintance refers Earl to some shady characters. Thus begins his life as a mule for the local drug cartel.

After the first run, the money starts coming in, but it isn't long until the trouble follows. Over a series of drug runs, the feds get involved. A hungry-to-prove-himself drug enforcement age…

Movie Review - Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

The standard for creating a superhero movie has now gone up — way, way up — so much so that all films coming after Avengers: Infinity War will have an impossibly high bar to measure to. The film should have been named “Avengers: Infinity Everything” because it gaspingly overreaches in literally every aspect of what it hopes to accomplish. It’s as if the production team came together and really convinced themselves that their film could, in fact, accomplish…infinity.

Now we aren’t given a graceful “what everybody’s been up to” reintroduction to kick things off, no sir, no ma’am; we open with a fight. And you know when you see the Hulk getting his rear-end handed to him that you don’t want to miss anything that comes after that!

Some years have passed and the Avengers have gone their separate ways. The US Government isn’t much happier with them, even considering this crazy, world-ending crisis (strangely enough). But now, they are called together again. They must join forces with the G…

Movie Review: Dunkirk (2017)

Since his breakout movie Momento (2000), Christopher Nolan has not let up on his speciality of mixing up timelines to the frustrating dismay of audiences everywhere. He does so here in his movie Dunkirk, a WWII thriller set in 1940 in the French city of Dunkirk on the border of Belgium where allied English forces are requisitioning small, private-owned boats to help stave off the German invasion and get troops across the channel.

Everything in Dunkirk is muted in color, faded blue with distorting pale shades to go with. Every flashy color (such as jelly shining off of toast in a few quickly passing scenes) is a relief, but never long enough. The detail in Dunkirk is beyond excellent, but then, that's the problem; things are too spot-on, so much so that we become suspicious. Amidst the too-perfect haircuts of the young men as they flash by, we get to follow, in alternating chronological switch-outs, the characters, such as “Navy Commander Bolton” (Kenneth Branagh), “Mr. Dawson” (M…

Movie Review: Hounds of Love (2017)

“Vicki” (Ashleigh Cummings) is a teenager and she wants to hang out with her friends. But she has been told she can’t go to a party by her mother. She sneaks out anyway. In the course of making her way to the party, she runs across “John and Evelyn White” (Steven Curry, Emma Booth). They lure her to their home, drug her, and chain her up. They proceed to sexually abuse her. And Vicki isn’t the first they’ve done this to.

But as the two take complete advantage of Vicki, Vicki takes advantage of them. It becomes clear early on that neither John, nor Evelyn are mentally stable. As Vicki endures maddening sexual abuse and psychological victimization, she has to keep her wits about her to live another day if she is to escape.

Director Ben Young (Something Fishy, 2010) brings us in Hounds of Love a truly dark and harrowing tale from Perth, Australia. And although not directly based on any particular serial killer or killers, it borrows heavily from the 1986 killings of David and Catherine …

Movie review: Spider-man: Homecoming (2017)

In Spiderman: Homecoming, director Jon Watts replaces Andrew Garfield and Tobey Maguire with Tom Holland. Jon’s last project was Cop Car (2015), which earned a nod of respect from some, but we aren't exactly in agreement as to how good a job he did with that one, much less what he would do with this one. Holland? Well, he was for sure a good pick, better than both Garfield and Maguire. Holland uses his kid charm and dashing good looks and makes all the impressions we hoped for. His squeaky-clean voice and juvenile insecurities serve him well. That’s all fine and good, except the movie itself is not.

Initially, we are excited at the backbone of the plot: Criminals are using leftover alien technology (from Avengers, 2012) to terrorize the world. Sounds good, but it goes nowhere beyond the safe-playing locker-room struggles of Parker who is being mentored by Tony Stark. That's what we keep getting from the movie more than anything else. Spider-man has already been making good on…

Movie Review: Baby Driver (2017)

“You don’t belong in this life,” a hardened criminal tells “Baby” (Ansel “The Fault in Our Stars” Elgort). They call him Baby because he is by far the youngest to participate in organized crime they have ever seen. And without a doubt, he is the youngest ever to serve as a getaway driver for a mobster.

Now Baby has had a tough childhood. He lost his parents tragically at around 8-years-old, and the trauma still manifests as a continual ringing in his ears (tinnitus). He tries to drown it out by always listening to music. He has tracks for every mood and task, but he also spends his spare time making music remixes out of random snippets of recordings he comes across. Like a modern Portland hipster, Baby doesn’t go mainstream, but prefers vinyl records and push-button, wall-mounted phones. The hipster element in this film is so strong that, taken alone, many scenes would make the film look about 20 years older than they are.

Baby’s state-appointed guardian (CJ Jones) he now takes care …

Movie Review: Inconceivable (2017)

Amidst its hurried pacing, semi-hollow characters, and too-well-behaved kids, what is conceivable about Inconceivable is that it has a crazy for a lead. And movies about crazies are always fascinating. It’s an unwritten law of life. A movie can suck and yet be watchable if only it features a batshit-nuts primary character. Say it ain’t so.

Movie Review: All Eyez on Me (2017)

Sometimes people are on their way down even as they are on their way up. Some of the most successful people are plagued by the most diabolical of inner-demons. That was the case with Tupac Shakur as he scaled ever-increasing heights on his way to the top as he became renowned as an artist, activist, and hip-hop icon. The life of thuggery and senseless violence that followed him came from the infamous rivalry of East Coast vs. West Coast recording labels. These sprang up in the mid-1990s. Many of these feuds ended in a bloodbath.

Movie Review: Rough Night (2017)

Rough Night is the sort of rom-com that goes in and comes out without making a mark (or leaving one). It doesn’t lift our spirits, challenge our preconceptions, or make us believe in love. It does make us laugh a little, though. It stars "Jess" (Scarlett Johansson), a runner-up in an election and a textbook-case workaholic. Her besties include a well-diversified group of gals who are as different and potentially antagonistic toward each other as you get. "Alice" (Jillian "22 Jump Street" Bell) is the token "thick but still cute" best friend. "Blair", "Frankie", "Kate", and "Lisa" (ZoĆ« Kravitz, Illiana Glazer, Kate McKinnon, and Lisa Grey, respectively) are sharply constructed, which means it is never a reach to imagine them behaving just like we see they do between themselves on screen.