Widows and all the images you see in this review are owned by 20th Century Fox
Directed by Steve McQueen
Is it time for another cinematic confession? Alright, so I’ve never actually seen a Steve McQueen movie all the way through. I’ve seen bits and pieces of Shame and I haven’t seen 12 Years a Slave, but based on those films and what we’ve been shown of this one I get the feeling that I’m not gonna be the biggest fan of his work. What can I say? I’m not the biggest fan of overly oppressive mood pieces even if the subject matter justifies that tone, but unlike other kinds of movies of filmmakers that I’m not too fond of I’m rather open to what this guy has to say here because even if I don’t like what I see on screen at least I’m fairly confident that the director is trying to ENGAGE with their audience instead of completely alienating them (*cough* Eli Roth *cough*). Will this film be the perfect introduction to the director’s body of work, or did he already reach his peak and nothing else will quite measure up to it? Let’s find out!!
Veronica Rawlings (Viola Davis) is just having a TERRIBLE week! Not only did her husband (Liam Neeson) die in a horrible fiery explosion, two million dollars went completely up in smoke which she is now being held responsible for since said two million was STOLEN by Liam Neeson and his crew of crooks (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Jon Bernthal, and Coburn Goss) from a local gangster who’s the slightest bit miffed about all this. It’s made especially bad because said gangster Jamal Manning (Brian Tyree Henry) is also running for local office against the golden boy Jack Mulligan (Colin Farrell) and could have used all that ill-gotten gain to fund his campaign; presumably through shady 501(c) groups considering where the money came from. Thanks, Citizens United! Anyway, him and his brother Jatemme (Daniel Kaluuya) have given Veronica a week to pay him back which is PROBABLY not all that feasible, but as luck would have it her husband left her a notebook that had detailed plans for their next heist; one that could not only pay back Jamal but will give her a nice payday to keep her afloat while she figures out what to do next with her life. She enlists the help of two of the widows, Linda and Alice (Michelle Rodriguez and Elizabeth Debicki) as well as Bell who is another person in need of some fast cash (Cynthia Erivo) to hopefully pull off this heist, though without any actual experience committing crimes, pulling guns, and breaking into places, their success seems dubious at best. Will Veronica and her slapdash crew of desperate widows manage to pull off such a dangerous heist? What exactly happened the night their husbands died, and could it have had anything to do with this plan that was left behind? Is it just me, or could this easily be an Amanda Waller prequel?
Sicario: Day of the Soldado and all the images you see in this review are owned by Columbia Pictures
Directed by Stefano Sollima
You know what I thought when I got out of the first movie? This is PRIME material for a franchise! Yeah, the first Sicario was a dark journey through the worst aspects of the War on Drugs which felt REALLY complete as a story, but after it made a boat load at the box office the studio couldn’t help itself from squeezing as much money out of this cash cow as they could which HOPEFULLY means we’ll get a crossover with The Fast and the Furious franchise, but until then we’ll have to get stuck with more straightforward entries of vastly diminishing returns. Okay, that’s a little unfair. After all, it’s not like you COULDN’T make another movie with this cast, and the premise seems like a great starting point to bring up issues surrounding immigration and border patrol that have only become more exacerbated since the last film came out! Wishful thinking I suppose, but you’ve gotta have SOME amount of hope, right!? Will this be a great and topical sequel to an already fantastic movie, or was this project doomed long before it had a chance to say something important about our current political climate? Let’s find out!!
Following the events of the first film, Matt Graver and Alejandro Gillick (Josh Brolin and Bencio del Toro) seem to have parted ways at least for the time being as the former is still running operations at the border while the latter is waiting for another chance to hit hard against the Cartel. The good news is that such an opportunity has presented itself and will lead to their most drastic and bloody mission yet! The bad news though is that said chance only happened because terrorist blew up a grocery store in Kansas City where at least one of them seems to have gotten into the country illegally from the border (ugh…) and might have even gotten a bit of help from the Cartel. With a blank check from the government to mess things up in Mexico, Matt decides to kidnap the daughter of one of the Cartel bosses down there (Isabela Moner) and then blame it on one of the other Cartel bosses; causing a civil war within the country that will decimate their stranglehold on the area. Things SORT of go off without a hitch, but once it’s time for them to return the girl under the guise of “finding her” across the border, things go sideways as Matt and Alejandro’s crew is ambushed and the girl runs off into the desert. Alejandro goes for the girl while Matt and the rest head back to base in Texas, but all is well as the ambush has made things more complicated than they should be and it’ll be that much harder for Matt and Alejandro to find a way to resolve this without stabbing each other, the US government, or anyone else, directly in the back. Can Alejandro not only find this girl but find a way to keep her safe from those who wish her harm? Just how far will Matt go for Alejandro, and will he be forced to choose between his friend and his duty? Wait, how are we supposed to be rooting for these guys now!? You SAW what they did in the last film, right!?
Murder on the Orient Express and all the images you see in this review are owned by 20th Century Fox
Directed by Kenneth Branagh
I’m hardly what you’d call “well read” as most of my cultural education comes from television and movies followed by people TALKING about television and movies, so while I’m aware that there’s a book out there called Murder on the Orient Express written by someone whose work I should really get around to reading, I don’t actually know what the story is about nor who the killer is which I GUESS would make me the target audience for a slick Hollywood retelling of the story starring some of the most beloved character actors out there… and Johnny Depp. I’m certainly excited to see this as I do love me a good mystery, and seeing a movie is ALMOST as good as reading a book… right? Anyway, does Kenneth Branagh manage to successfully bring the Agatha Christie classic to the silver screen once again, or does the brilliance of her work get lost in the midst of his vision for the material? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins with the famed detective Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh) solving yet another world class mystery in the heart of Jerusalem and is now ready to take a much deserved vacation to recharge his mystery solving batteries! As luck would have it, he runs into an old friend named Bouc (Tom Bateman) who gets him a ticket on the one and only Orient Express which Bouc is the director of. Sadly for Poirot’s plans of leisure, not only does the train get stuck in an avalanche but one of the passengers (Johnny Depp) comes down with a bad case of MURDER! With only some minor cajoling from Bouc, Poirot begins to investigate The Case of the Stabbed Dude by looking into the pasts of all the other passengers (Penélope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, Judi Dench, Josh Gad, Derek Jacobi, Leslie Odom Jr, Michelle Pfeiffer, Daisy Ridley, Olivia Colman, Lucy Boynton, Marwan Kenzari, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Sergei Polunin, and Miranda Raison) to see if there’s anything to connect one of them to the guy sleeping in a pool of his own blood. Will Poirot uncover the criminal mastermind who was unfortunately enough to be sharing a train ride with the world’s greatest detective? Just who was the man who got viciously murdered, and what could have motivated someone to commit such an act? Wait… isn’t it a bit TOO convenient that the train JUST SO HAPPENED to get stuck after a murder is committed!?
The Magnificent Seven and all the images you see in this review are owned by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Columbia Pictures
Directed by Antoine Fuqua
The original Magnificent Seven is a movie that’s on my depressingly large list of movies that I really should see at some point and unfortunately I didn’t get around to it before this remake came out. That said, the premise isn’t all that hard to grasp and it’s definitely trying to reach a new young audience if the advertisements are anything to go on. That and the addition of Chris Pratt doesn’t hurt either as the guy couldn’t be hotter with the younger demographics after star turning roles in Guardians of the Galaxy as well as Jurassic World. Does this reinterpretation of one of the most classic stories of all time turn out to be a modern day classic, or is it doomed to live in the shadow of its predecessor? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins with the town of Rock Ridge… I mean Rose Creek, being under siege from the EVIL rich guy Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard) who wants to drive everyone out of there so he can mine the shit out of the place for gold and other valuable resources. After burning down the local church and killing a few of the locals, they realize they can’t handle this on their own and they need some help. After all, they worked too damn hard killing off all the Native Americans to build this town on their land for some rich asshole to take it all away from them! Emma Cullen (Haley Bennett) who is the widow of one of the dead guys goes to a nearby town with her friend Teddy (Luke Grimes) to find some tough guys to chase Bart’s friends out of town! For their efforts, they find the bounty hunter Sam Chisolm (Denzel Washington) who then helps them gather the rest of the crew which includes the Chris Pratt archetype Josh Faraday (Chris Pratt), an old-timey sniper Goodnight Robicheux (Ethan Hawke), his best buddy with the kick ass name Billy Rocks (Byung-hun Lee), a wild mountain man Jack Horne (Vincent D’Onofrio), some random outlaw Vasquez (Manuel Garcia-Ruflo), and a Comache hunter Red Harvest (Martin Sensmeier). Now all of them have their own reason for taking on such an impossible task (some less plausible than others as I still have no idea what Red Harvest is after), but it’s not going to be an easy fight as they’ve got an army to go up against and they have maybe a few dozen farmers to train up and give them support once the shit hits the fan. Can this town be saved from the onslaught of Bart’s men? Why exactly did Sam accept this job in the first place, and could he have ulterior motives? Who thinks they’re gonna accurately predict which ones will die? Think you can do better than me!?