Knives Out and all the images you see in this review are owned by Lionsgate
Directed by Rian Johnson
I gotta tell you, I was in LOVE with this movie from the very first trailer! Seeing great actors like Michale Shannon, Toni Collette, and Daniel Craig, on screen with Captain America in a movie from the Last Jedi guy, AND it’s a juicy as heck murder mystery? What more could one person ask for!? Even with the best of trailers however, there’s always a possibility that what we saw was a cleaned up version of the best bits while the finished product is a compromised and messy waste of time; the Suicide Squad approach if you will. Can Rian Johnson prove once again how great of a filmmaker he is despite how… “controversial” his last film was, or is this just more fuel to the fire for the more obnoxious anti-fans of The Last Jedi? Let’s find out!!
The morning after the eighty-fifth birthday of famed mystery novelist Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer), he is found dead by his nurse Marta Cabrera (Ana De Anmas) with this throat slashed open by a knife, and because of his massive wealth and greedy family members it only makes sense to investigate things a bit further despite it looking like a suicide. Not only that, famed detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) with his rich southern accent was brought in to investigate by a mysterious correspondent who sent him no identifying information but a wad of cash to find out if there was foul play or not. His entire family was in attendance the night before and most of them stayed the night in the giant and ridiculously furnished mansion complete with a giant display of knives that looks like a rejected Game of Thrones prop, so there was plenty of opportunity for someone to get the drop on him and possibly make it look like a suicide. The suspects include his children Linda and Walt (Jamie Lee Curtis and Michael Shannon), his children in-law Richard and Joni (Don Johnson and Toni Collette), and his grandchildren Hugh, Meg, and Jacob (Chirs Evans, Katherine Langford, and Jaeden Martell); all of whom are bizarre in their own way, but hardly seem to be the types to kill unless VERY highly motivated. The key here is not finding the right method or the most capable suspect, but who had the most REASON to kill, and chance are it has to do with money as Harlan seems to have upset quite a few people at the party last night, though everyone is staying rather tight lipped about it. Can Detective Blanc find the truth among all the lies, misdirection, and self-serving half-truths? Which member of this eclectic family has the most to gain now that Harlan is gone, and who has the most to hide? Is the big twist at the end that Detective Blanc was ACTUALLY Joe Bang in disguise this entire time!?
“There was a time where I thought cracking bank vaults would solve all my problems. Then I realized that my true passion was in cracking cases. And also cracking bank vaults. That’s just fun!”
Jexi and all the images you see in this review are owned by Lionsgate
Directed by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore
We are still VERY much in catch up mode right now and it’s starting to get a bit distressing as more and more movies I wanted to see close to leaving theaters, but at least I managed to catch THIS one which somehow got to my second run theater a good three to four weeks before I would have expected it to! You know how I found out that they had it? I USED MY PHONE!! It all connects if you look hard enough! Anyway, does this story about a phone with a heart of gold and the mouth of a sailor manage to be a biting and hilarious critique of how we interact and even bond with our electronic devices, or is it just a silly movie about the kids these days and their addition to screens? Let’s find out!!
This is the story of a man named Phil (Adam DeVine) who spends all his time on his phone and has no connections with anyone else; especially at his job where he writes top ten lists for a website run by the maniacal Kai (Michael Peña). I’m not sure why he has to go to an office to do that, especially since he doesn’t seem to get anything out of being around other people like his coworkers Craig and Elaine (Ron Funches and Charlyne Yi), but that’s his life and he seems to be content with it. Until of course his phone breaks after a run in with a local bike shop owner named Cate (Alexndra Shipp) and he has to go buy a new one which seems simple enough but turns into madcap hilarity when the AI assistant turns out to be a wise cracking, truth telling, emotionally berating, hard ass named Jexi who doesn’t put up with ANY of Phil’s crap and tries to get his life in order if for no other reason than how embarrassing it is to be around him. At first it seems to work as her tough love advice leads to him making friends at work, expanding his horizons a bit, and even landing a date with Cate, but once the job of fixing him comes closer and closer to being finished what is left for Jexi to do? Can Phil put his life back on track and learn to be the kind of person those MILLENNIALS ARE RUINING EVERYTHING articles wants us to be? What will Jexi do once she’s no longer needed and Cate starts to horn in on her territory? Is this what the AI in HER would have acted like if she was the star of that Joker movie?
“You wanna know how I got these scars? YOU DROPPED ME WHILE EATING THAT CANDY BAR!!“ “Oh come on baby! I got you that protective case, didn’t I?”
Rambo Last Blood is such a b movie that the writer of the original book David Morrell has called it degrading embarrassment, and if you’ve read my review you’ll know that I share the same sentiment. Still, the movie may have done one thing right which is make me reflect on the other Rambo films and wonder if this latest movie is truly as much of a departure from them as my rose tinted nostalgia believes them to be. For this reason I’ve decided to rewatch the other four Rambo films and approach them from as much of a fresh perspective as I can manage and see if the good ones still hold up and if the bad ones are even worse than I remember. This is probably gonna be a rough one. Let’s get started!!
First Blood (1982)
Yeah, this one still holds up. Right off the bat, the movie does a great job of setting up the world in which Rambo lives which frankly I kind of have a hard time believing was really the case. I mean considering where we are NOW I might be a bit naïve saying that, but the fact that a cop is profiling a white dude with an American flag on his jacket, well that just seems really odd to me as someone for whom adulation and thanks are the bare requirement when interacting with a veteran. That said, patriotism and worship of the troops has ALWAYS had a two-faced nature to it where the same people screaming about respecting the troops and waving flags are the usually the first ones to trample human rights and backstab veterans who are in desperate need of help, so a small town sheriff using his outsized sense of power to quietly shuffle this guy along isn’t the MOST unrealistic thing, and like I said the movie does a great job of setting up the world in such a quick amount of time. Stallone has a quiet intensity to his performance that belies the rage burning just beneath the surface, and after only three minutes with Brian Dennehy you’d want to torch the town too. This movie excels at the way it escalates tension and how the situation just snowballs as one slight leads to a definite act leads to another sleight and so on. And sure, it does have its cheesy moments. Every time he flashes back to Vietnam it’s only a notch below the ridiculous flashbacks in Meet the Feebles (made even more so by his AMAZING mustache) and some of Stallone’s shouty faces come off as comical, but all those extremes really add to the utter desperation of this character and how despite all his muscles, his movie star good looks, and his unmatched skills at whooping ass, he’s still a complete mess as a person; exemplified by the speech at the end which is both heart breaking to listen to and a little bit funny to watch. What was really solidified for me on this latest watch is that while Rambo himself is an interesting character, he’s more of a symbolic force of nature whom the drama and political commentary revolve around. Heck, I’d wager that in overall screen time we get more of Brian Dennehy than we do of Rambo as it’s his movie first and foremost even if Rambo does eventually take center stage once we get to the aforementioned finale and the rather blunt coda of the movie. First Blood is ultimately a movie more about the time it takes place in than about the characters within it; the man pushed too far by an uncaring system and the ghosts of his past, the cops who abuse their authority under the guise of keeping law and order, even the dipshit gun toting National Guardsmen which may or may not be an accurate or fair portrayal (weekend warriors versus the REAL soldiers), but is definitely there to make a point. With the latest movie, it felt like the incoherent ramblings of a perpetually terrified racist who couldn’t even see the humanity of those who are perceived to be the enemy. To a certain extent, I can see where that sort of extreme flailing of emotions originated in this film with how much of its heart is on its sleeve, but where Last Blood wants to fuel the fires of discord, this movie is trying to draw out some kind of understanding from all of its characters and from the audience who watches it. It’s a bit tone oblivious at points and has some drastic tonal shifts throughout (the comic relief National Guardsmen REALLY stood out for me), but it has genuine heart behind it which is why it holds up so well. Now the only thing I know about the book this is based on is how it ends which greatly diverges from the movie. At the end of the book, Trautman ends up killing Rambo at the police station, and while the filmmakers did shoot a version of this for the movie they ultimately decided to go with the happier one where Rambo lives and goes quietly with the faint hope that maybe he’ll get the help he needs and that the country can do better by others like him. Well that, or they’ll just make a series of increasingly ludicrous and jingoistic movies, but what are the odds of THAT happening!?
Rambo: Last Blood and all the images you see in this review are owned by Lionsgate
Directed by Adrian Grunberg
Not sure if this counts as a hot take, but I’ve always felt that of the two major Stallone franchises (the other being Rocky), Rambo was the lesser of the two. First Blood wasn’t quite as good as the first Rocky, Rocky had better sequels, and even when it came to deconstructing the franchise I thought that Rocky Balboa was better than Rambo 2008. Now that we’ve gotten to the post-deconstruction continuation for Rocky which did a phenomenal job with both Creed movies, I guess it’s time for Stallone to give good ol’ John one last adventure on the silver screen. Does this latest and possibly last Rambo adventure measure up to the better films of the series, or will this be the movie that finally makes us all realize that Rambo 3 wasn’t ALL bad? Let’s find out!!
Not long after the events of Rambo 2008, John Rambo (Sylvester Stallone) moved back to his family ranch and is living with what little family he has left; his niece Gabrielle (Yvette Monreal) and her grandmother Maria (Adriana Barraza). It’s now the present and young Gabrielle has grown up while John has started to settle down and has diverted a lot of his negative energy towards building a complex series of tunnels underneath his ranch which if nothing else is better than getting into fist fights in Thailand. As great as this peaceful existence has been, something terrible is about to happen that will change their lives forever!! Gabrielle… is going on a trip! TO MEXICO!! Yes, apparently a friend of hers who lives there (Fenessa Pineda) has found Gabrielle’s estranged father and is inviting her down there to meet him. Rambo however knows that… I don’t know, Mexico is full of bad guys or something, and is about as skeptical of her going to Mexico as Liam Neeson was of his daughter going to Europe. Sure enough, the exact same thing more or less happens as Gabrielle gets taken by bad guys the same day she gets there and Rambo has to save her; presumably without rubbing her nose in it TOO much that he was right to not trust THE ENTIRE COUNTRY OF MEXICO. Can Rambo make it in time to save Gabrielle from whatever horrific fate awaits her on the other side of the border? Will Rambo unleash the beast that has been brewing inside of him for all these years, and is it enough to get him out of one last battle? Can someone please tell me why I’m watching a Rambo movie that’s absolutely NOTHING like a Rambo movie? Can someone point me to who’s responsible for whatever this is!?
“Geez… I’m gonna have to do five more Creed films to make up for this one…”
Angel Has Fallen and all the images you see in this review are owned by Lionsgate
Directed by Ric Roman Waugh
I didn’t want to see this movie. Did ANYONE want to see this movie after that horrendous sequel? If anything worthwhile had come out this week I would have seen that instead, but for some reason things are just drying up between now and IT Chapter 2, so I guess I’ll take what I can get even if it’s… this thing. Frankly I would have preferred a sequel to that submarine movie he did with the dude from Black Flag, but no one went to see that one and EVERYONE went to see the one where Muslims destroy London, so once again I find myself at the mercy of mainstream taste when entering the multiplex. Hey, at least it got us the MCU and WAY more Purge movies than anyone could have expected, so it might be worth taking the bad along with the good. Does this movie manage to redeem a franchise after such an abysmal second outing, or will the trend continue downward with such velocity that it buries straight down into the center of the Earth? No I’m not sure what that means, but let’s find out!!
Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) is the unstoppable badass of the Secret Service who kicks butt and takes names like nobody’s business in service of the President who is now Allan Trumbull (Morgan Freeman) taking over for Benjamin Asher. I don’t THINK he died in the last movie so that would mean Trumbull got elected or President Asher died of some other means that Banning couldn’t punch his way out of. ANYWAY! What you may not have expected is that despite this being movie three it’s actually a Rocky 5 because all the damage that Banning has accrued over the movies we saw and the missions we didn’t have started to catch up to him as he has to take pain pills to manage his headaches and insomnia which have only gotten progressively worse. Maybe it’s time to think about a desk job like his friend Wade Jennings (Danny Huston) who runs a PMC that I’m sure will have NOTHING to do with what’s about to happen! While on a fishing trip, President Trumbull is attacked by a swarm of exploding drones that kills EVERYONE there except for Trumbull who is in a coma and Mike Banning who just barely escaped with his life. That’s the good news, but the bad news he’s about to hear is PRETTY bad as FBI agent Helen Thompson (Jada Pinkett Smith) has found enough evidence to convict Banning of trying to assassinate the president! Apparently he couldn’t knock him into the water and say he slipped, he had to send out EXPLODING DRONES to cause MASSIVE explosions that he could have easily been caught in and managed to kill everyone EXCEPT his target. Sure. Okay then. Well it’s hardly a surprise that Banning manages to escape custody and finds out that he’s being set up by the only new character introduced in this movie; namely his PMC buddy Wade who is using the full force of his company to try and kill him and any other American citizen in the way so he can cover up this frame job. Mike is gonna need to recall all his skills, his wits, and even enlist the help of his estranged father Clay (Nick Nolte) to clear his name, stop the PMC and save the President if there’s time for that too. Can Mike Banning save the world once again, even if his buddy is the one pulling the strings? What do they have planned once Mike is dead, and are there greater forces at play in this grand scheme of theirs? Out of ALL the people to put the frame on, why would they do it to the ONE person who managed to save the White House AND all of London already? Couldn’t they pin it on Agent Bob or something? I doubt he’s stabbed even HALF as many people as Banning has!
“This is the LAST time I cover for you, Bob! SO not worth the overtime!”
John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum and all the images you see in this review are owned by Summit Entertainment
Directed by Chad Stahelski
So here we are once again. Now I wasn’t the biggest fan of the second movie, but the John Wick movies have their own sense of style and craftsmanship that’s hard to ignore even when the story begins to fall apart, at least as far as I’m concerned regarding that sequel. Now the time has come for them to hopefully right the ship and bring this franchise back to what made it great instead of the convoluted mess that we got last time. Will we be getting the conclusion to John’s story that will make this whole wild trip worth taking, or is this franchise already too far into the rabbit hole for us to reasonably expect them to dig their way out of? Let’s find out!!
The movie picks up mere minutes after the end of the last one where John (Keanu Reeves) has just been ex-communicated from The Continental for (SPOILER ALERT FOR JOHN WICK 2) killing what’s his face in the last film (Riccardo Scamarcio). Now obviously no one expects John Wick to go down quietly, especially not the owner of The Continental (Ian McShane), and yet a bunch of assassins take a swipe at the guy with about as much luck as you’d expect. However, John’s plan isn’t JUST to kill enough people to clog up the Hudson River; he needs to go and appease The High Table who I guess is in charge of The Continental and all the other Assassin Hotels which apparently was a THING in the last movie that I just forgot about. Now what’s his face that no one liked from the last movie was apparently a member of this table (can’t be THAT great if he got a seat) and so John’s up to his eyeballs in not just hot shots trying to make a quick buck, but basically everyone within the orbit of The High Table. This includes The Adjudicator (Asia Kate Dillon) who is there to clean up (i.e. kill) everyone with even a vague connection to John’s recent activities, and Zero the Assassin (Mark Dacascos) who’s band of ninjas have been hired to help The Adjudicator do his dirty work. So while that’s all going down in New York, John is trying to get a meeting with a member of The High Table which is no easy task as he has to cash in whatever chips he has left to get help from his former trainer (Anjelica Huston) and a former colleague who owes him one (Halle Berry); both risking a lot even if whatever assistance they offer is through official channels because The High Table is having none of that crap anymore. Will John find what he needs to in order to spare his life from the wrath of The High Table? What will those back in New York do now that they’ve gotten the ire of the people at the very top of the food chain? Just how many dudes do BOTH sides have to spare over this rather small dispute between the one guy none of them can kill and a dead dude who only got the job like a week ago? Is there REALLY no other way they can solve this!?
I propose a cutest dog competition! I mean really, there’s no other reasonable way to solve this.
Long Shot and all the images you see in this review are owned by Lionsgate
Directed by Jonathan Levine
I love Seth Rogen! Have I mentioned that before? Knocked Up, Neighbors 2, The Night Before, all are great movies that I’ve watched multiple times and showcase just how talented the guy is. Now we’ve got a movie with him AND Charlize Theron, one of the hardest working actors working today with so many great movies under her belt!? Well dang! How had I not heard about this movie before!? Seriously, considering how many times I go to the movies you’d think I’d have seen one trailer but no! I hadn’t even heard of this until about a week ago and I had no idea what it was even about, but hey, when do you watch a comedy for the plot? I’m here to see these two work off of each other and tell some funny jokes! Does this team up manage to knock it out of the park like peanut butter and chocolate, or are we in for an experiment that’s gone more horribly awry than whatever the heck it is Oreo has been pumping out recently? Let’s find out!!
Fred Flarsky (Seth Rogen) is a journalist with a serious chip on his shoulder who’s had a rough time of it recently and Charlotte Field (Charlize Theron) is the Secretary of State who’s had a rough time of it always. Two people from two vastly different worlds who you wouldn’t think would ever meet, but in movie land these two have something of a history as Charlotte used to babysit Fred when they were younger and there was an embarrassing incident between the two of them. Still, fate seems to conspire to bring them back together as Fred loses his job and is brought to an upper class party by his friend Lance (O’Shea Jackson Jr) where Charlotte just so happens to also be. They talk for a bit, Fred makes a fool of himself when trying to confront an evil media conglomerate (Andy Serkis) and you’d figure that life would just keep on going from there. However, Charlotte starts to read some of Fred’s earlier work and comes up with a brilliant idea! See, she plans on running for president as the current guy (Bob Odenkirk) won’t be running for a second term to instead make movies and so she needs a speech writer who can write funny and incisive commentary that she can pepper into her usual rhetoric, so going on quite a limb here she hires Fred for the job despite him being… well a boorish man child who can barely even dress himself. Naturally her staff isn’t too thrilled included her top aids Maggie and Tom (June Diane Raphael and Ravi Patel), but everyone goes along with it and Fred, if nothing else, seems to write decent speeches and the two begin to reconnect once more; possibly with more going on between them than either initially realized. Can Fred be the necessary piece that Charlotte has been missing in her life, and is Fred even capable of being what she needs him to be? What sinister actors out there will try to undermine Charlotte’s campaign, and how will Fred react to the realities of being part of the political machine on such a large stage? Seriously, how did this jacket alone not destroy her political career?
“I didn’t realize the Blue Meanie was getting into politics!” “Say what you will about the Blue World Order, they at least have a sound economic platform!”