Sunday, February 26, 2012

The American

George Clooney plays a hitman looking to get out of the business. As always in these types of films, the bosses have the idea that the way to retire an employee is to permanently retire them. After all, don't hitmen employees always "know too much"? However, this is not really an action film where Clooney resists attempts on his life and crushes the opposition. It is really more of a cross between Lost in Translation (depressed man looking for life change) and Memory of a Killer (assassin getting Alzheimer's and developing a moral limit). Clooney works "one last job" and uses it as a way to develop his exit strategy. He finds a girl and works quietly on his own on the job. The dialogue is sparse and yet the film never drags. It is not an extravagant film, and is as full of cliche's as any other action thriller, but nonetheless enjoyable on a slow afternoon.
3 stars (out of 5)

Monday, February 20, 2012

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol

I like the idea of Mission Impossible. I like that it is political thriller, action thriller and solving problems with cool gadgets and technology. James Bond without the cheese. Unfortunately, this iteration leaves me flat. Tom Cruise plays Agent Ethan Hunt and here he gets implicated in blowing up the Kremlin. He and his team are disavowed by the U.S. government and yet still secretly charged with preventing a sociopath from launching nuclear weapons to start the beginning of the end of humanity. Ho hum, let's go to Dubai and then to Mumbai and save the world. Nothing really new or creative here. More of the same action stuff... I am actually sorry I didn't like it more.
2 stars (out of 5)


This was supposed to be the female version of the Bourne series. MMA fighter Gina Carano makes her debut as an action star. It turns out that realistic fight scenes by themselves don't make a great film. Carano plays an ex-military black ops sort of character who works for (presumably) the government. It is never really clear who she works for, and it turns out that she is not very clear on that issue either. When a couple of unrelated jobs are suddenly related (the someone she rescued becomes the someone killed), Carano finds herself the target. So she runs, plans, and then goes on the offensive. The storyline is not bad and has potential for this genre of film, but it is not implemented well. With a title like Haywire I expect all kinds of craziness to happen. Instead, we only get regular craziness that is altogether expected in a black-ops, rogue-spy sort of adventure. Carano has potential, but I guess like with all actors, you have to have the right material. Even so, still better than Mission Impossible.
3 stars (out of 5)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Disctrict 13: Ultimatum

A sequel to the excellent 2004 film District B13, we are treated to another excellent action film. A few years in the French future, ghetto's are walled off from the main population and basically left to fend for themselves. When a powerful developer makes a deal to acquire some land and a building contract in the District 13 ghetto, the political deal making exposes corruption galore. It is a not even thinly veiled commentary that the "powerful developer" is a corporation name Harriburton. Do we wonder what the French screenwriter thinks of war and political events of the last decade? In this iteration, a thief from the ghetto (Leito) and his good friend and special forces cop extraordinaire (Tomaso) team up with all the ghetto gangsters to prevent the destruction of the ghetto (and its million plus inhabitants). Great action sequences and a fun flavor.
4 stars (out of 5)

Friday, February 10, 2012


I had mixed feelings going in to this film, and came out with the same mixed feelings. Don't get me wrong, this is a funny film. But it is not hilarious. Kristen Wiig plays an on-again, off-again maid of honor for her newly engaged best friend. As she traverses the wedding drama landscape with her other bridesmaids, all the typical problems and solutions arise. So in many ways it is a conventional romantic comedy. What makes it better than average is Molly McCarthy, who plays a character that slowly evolves from caricature to a bit of a fuller & deeper caricature and the Kristen Wiig scene where she is attempting to get the attention of her one-time boyfriend police officer. The film made me laugh, occasionally.
3 stars (out of 5)