Category Archives: Action & Adventure

Lucky Day (2019) Movie Review By Peter Pluymers

 

Lucky Day Review

Director: Roger Avary
Writer: Roger Avary
Stars: Luke Bracey, Nina Dobrev, Crispin Glover

These days it’s kind of hype to create reboots or remakes of films from a bygone era. Even though I hate this kind of filmmaking and I see it as easy money, I got enthusiastic about “Lucky Day“. It’s not a reboot or a remake in the strict sense of the word. But the similarities with “Pulp Fiction” are so obvious, I automatically call it the ultimate reboot for this legendary 90s movie. And if there’s one person who could do the job without any problems, it would be Roger Avary, co-writer of “Pulp Fiction“. The only thing you could ask yourself is: “Who was waiting for this?”.

The whole movie is about Red (Luke Bracey), a safecracker, who leaves prison after 2 years and returns to his French-speaking wife Chloe (Nina Dobrev) and cuddly daughter Beatrice (Ella Ryan Quinn). He’s determined not to return to his criminal life. He just has a little rainy-day stash hidden away somewhere. The news of his release, however, also reached someone else. None other than Luc Chaltiel (Crispin Glover) personally flew over from France to take revenge on Red. Luc’s brother got killed during a robbery that went completely awry. And Red was part of the gang.

This movie has “Pulp Fiction” written all over it. It’s a cocktail of various facets that were so characteristic of this milestone in Tarantino’s oeuvre. Chloe’s hair itself looks like a copy of that from Uma Thurman’s. And there is also the overall atmosphere with a matching soundtrack and a mixture of absurd, cartoonish supporting characters. But it’s mainly about extreme violence and bloody scenes. So expect some like-watermelons-exploding heads and slashed throats. And all this is bathed in black, sometimes vulgar, humor. Crispin Glover as a car thief, who drives his car twice over the victim. His explosive confrontation with a police patrol. The absurd gunfight in the bar. The psychopathic way in which he causes a bloodbath during an art exhibition. Perhaps it’s not so impressive these days since we are overwhelmed with films full of extreme hard violence. But it still was enjoyable.

Without a doubt, Crispin Glover’s character is the most eye-catching part of this film. You always wanted to know how the weird and silly George McFly (Yep, father of Marty McFly in “Back to the Future“) would look like as a ruthless, brutal, psychopathic assassin with a heavy French accent? Well, this is your chance. Crispin Glover brilliantly parodies this. Maybe slightly exaggerated, but still extremely great. And extremely violent. For many, the French accent will be annoying. Yes, it might be even slightly offensive towards our French fellow men. To me, it felt like a theatrical parody. I read somewhere that you could compare him with Pepé Le Pew. But in the end, this extremely exaggerated accent suited his exorbitant attitude as the well-dressed, capricious murderer who’s looking for revenge.

“Lucky Day” has more of those absurd characters in store. For instance, Tomer Sisley as the eccentric bartender with a Hitler mustache. An over the top absurd role. Or the foul-mouthed probation officer Ernesto Sanchez (Clifton Collins Jr.). Compared to these characters, Red and Chloe can be called normal. Even though Chloe is rather eccentric when looking at her artworks. Art inspired by prison walls.

For me “Lucky Day” certainly wasn’t a boring movie. It was the perfect material to fill up free leisure time. The comparison with “Pulp Fiction” is made quickly. But admittedly it can’t match this brilliant film. For that, it lacks panache and originality. The brilliant renditions of Travolta, Jackson, and Thurman are of course matchless. And on a narrative level, “Lucky Day” must of course also recognize its superior. The harsh and relentless style full of violence, bloody brutality, and vulgar language certainly was highly present. But we were able to experience that already 25 years ago. It seems as if time stood still for Avary. Just like I still love music from the 80s. But hey, there’s nothing wrong with that. Not?

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47 Meters Down: Uncaged (2019) Movie Review By D.M. Anderson

 

46 Meters Down Uncaged Review

Director: Johannes Roberts
Writers: Ernest Riera, Johannes Roberts
Stars: Sophie Nélisse, Corinne Foxx, Brianne Tju 

47 Meters Down was a reasonably enjoyable little thriller similar to Open Water and The Shallows, though not as deftly crafted as either. While it didn’t leave much room open for a true sequel, nothing sells like a brand name, so this one takes the same basic concept down the bigger-is-better road…bigger production, bigger cast, bigger body count. But is 47 Meters Down: Uncaged actually better? In some ways, yes it is.

Instead of two terrified teenager girls trapped in a shark cage, we have four who are foolish enough to abscond with some conveniently-placed scuba gear and explore the sunken ruins of an ancient Mayan city. But they are not alone. Trapped down there for centuries have been generations of sharks, long-since rendered bleached & blind from being cut-off from the surface. I guess we aren’t supposed to ask how they managed to survive so long without a food source. Or maybe dumb teenagers simply pop-in on a regular basis.

Speaking of dumb, one big reason Uncaged is fun is because writer-director Johannes Roberts incorporates a few conventions generally associated with disaster movies, such as the access cave collapsing, or better yet, that one stupidly-reckless character whose actions not-only endanger everyone in the first place, her own egocentric sense of self-preservation repeatedly sabotages their chances to escape.

That character is Nicole, played by Sistine Stallone (yeah, Sly’s daughter). She leads the charge into the cave, is the reason they get stuck and ends up causing people to die. Watching this with my daughter, there reached a point where we’d start shouting “Way to go, Nicole!” However, since no one else has any real personality, she’s also the most entertaining character in the film…besides the sharks, that is.

While the concept – trapped underwater with a finite amount of oxygen – is similar to the first film, the setting of Uncaged is more interesting. With these characters swimming through increasingly deep & narrow passageways, there are some moments nearly as claustrophobic as those in The Descent. Ironically, the tension created by those scenes is often broken by the appearance of the sharks, which are predictably rendered with unconvincing CGI. In fact, one could even argue it might have been a better overall film without them.

But while credibility is often pushed to the breaking point – wait’ll you see the climax! – 47 Meters Down: Uncaged is generally more silly fun than the original (which took itself a little too seriously). A brisk-pace, nifty setting and a few amusing critter kills (bye-bye, Nicole!) make some of the “oh, come on!” moments a little more forgivable.

Avengement (2019) Movie Review By Peter Pluymers

 

Avengement Review

Director: Jesse V. Johnson
Writers: Jesse V. Johnson, Stu Small
Stars: Scott Adkins, Craig Fairbrass, Thomas Turgoose

So…prison turned you into a stone-cold killer, did it?
Nah, prison didn’t.
You and my brother did.

I’ve just seen the Philippine revenge film “Maria” in which a beautiful woman beats up everyone she encounters. And before I know it, the next one presents itself already. This time it’s a flick from the UK and from a completely different level. Not only the story itself is acceptable. Also, the endless series of fight scenes will bring fans of action movies into ecstasy. Scott Adkins is a man with brutal force who crushes his opponents without mercy with his hammer blows. So expect a large amount of splattering blood, shattered bones, cracked skulls and wisdom teeth flying around. In other words, “Avengement” is a very brutal movie.

At first, I expected something similar like “We still kill the old way” or “Legend“. An English crime/action film full of violence but with that English politeness still present in the background. Well, that doesn’t apply to “Avengement”. Every kind of courtesy is being crushed into the ground here. You can compare it with “Brawl in cell block 99“, but on English soil. This film is a relief when you compare it to all the digitally created violence Hollywood produces lately. In this film, the physical prevails a bit more. When looking at Disney and Hollywood violence, you’d give a “wow” cry. With “Avengement” it’s rather an “ouch” cry. The physical violence is so realistic, you sometimes can feel the pain yourself. And not only Adkins’ opponents moan noisily. He too suffers and regularly has to take hits.

Not only does Adkins needs to show how extreme anger runs through Cain’s veins. That’s about 90% of the total playing time. You’ll also see how normal and fair Cain is at the start of the movie. A decent man who begs his brother to help him with the idea to start a gym. The transformation, however, is frightening when he’s in jail for a while. A punishment he got when a job he had to do for his brother went terribly wrong. It’s there that the fairly well-behaved Cain is slowly turning into a cruel hot-head. The constant attempts of fellow prisoners to kill him one way or the other ensures that he trains and practices every day. These confrontations are already very brutal and cruel. It’s also here that he gets metallic teeth. When he finally ends up in a private pub, Cain is a scarred man. Both internally and externally. The only thing that interests Cain is revenge.

To be honest, I didn’t know who Scott Adkins was in the first place. Completely unknown to me. Well, mega-fans of action movies will probably turn their nose up at me. And I admit that I don’t understand how it’s possible that I didn’t know this tough Englishman yet. For all I care, he can safely join “The Expendables” next time. He certainly won’t look out of place next to Statham and Van Damme. He certainly isn’t a person you want to bump into at night. That’s for sure. Not only does Adkins show in this film that he masters the necessary fighting techniques, but for once I didn’t have the impression that the I-wait-patiently-for-my-turn-to-be-beaten-up principle was applied here. A method that’s usually used in such action films. You’ll see someone waiting patiently on the side who, as soon as a colleague sticks to the wall, quickly takes his place. Something that nerves me immensely every time it’s used.

“Avengement” certainly isn’t a first-class film and won’t win loads of film prizes. Maybe using flashbacks isn’t something that will get you excited. Me neither. But if you just want to enjoy a raw, extremely violent revenge film, then this is really suitable for you. I certainly enjoyed it intensely. Just watch the trailer, and you’ll agree instantly.

Crawl (2019) Movie Review By Peter Pluymers

 

Crawl

Director: Alexandre Aja
Writers: Michael Rasmussen, Shawn Rasmussen
Stars: Kaya Scodelario, Barry Pepper, Morfydd Clark

“You’re not my coach anymore, dad. That top predator crap doesn’t help.”

Did you think the last “Lake Placid” episode from the eponymous franchise was downright worthless, stupid and nonsensical (like I did)? Well, let me put your mind at ease. Despite some laughable facts, this reptile-horror “Crawl” isn’t bad at all. You can even call it exciting at times. And compared to “Lake Placide“, the bite-sized animals are frequently in the picture and the CGI ensures that they look frighteningly realistic. You just have to use the same ritual as with “Hobbs & Shaw“. Namely, give your brain for safekeeping when entering the movie theater. It’s not of the same absurd level as “Sharknado“, but if you don’t do that, you will be annoyed about multiple idiocies.

There are of course many “How stupid can you be?“-moments. For example. You can’t blame the day-trippers in “Jaws“. They were just enjoying the summer sun on the beach and the refreshing water. Did they know that this giant white shark was planning to consume a few splashing bathers? It’s a pity they ended up as lunch. But, you can’t say the same about Haley (Kaya Scodelario), who, after a disappointing swimming performance, comes up with the grandiose idea to see if everything is okay with her father Dave (Barry Pepper). Nothing earth-shattering, were it not for her to enter a restricted area controlled by the authorities because of a destructive hurricane of category 5. Even a roadblock by the local police didn’t stop her.

The advantage of “Crawl” is the short playing time (87 minutes). Nowadays it’s perfectly normal for decent films to exceed the 2-hour limit. It seems that quality nowadays depends on the total duration of a film. Fortunately, there are exceptions to that rule. Not that “Crawl” is of high quality, but an advantage is they don’t spend too much time to bring the necessary suspense. After around 20 minutes, Haley and her father are already in a difficult situation in the basement of the parental home. Dave is badly injured. And three giant alligators are impatiently waiting for their feeding-time. Time for the second “How stupid can you be?” moment. What would you do if you had to leave your safe hiding place to recover a lost item? In any case, after getting hold of the trinket, I would return to that safe place again. Logical reasoning is certainly not Haley’s strongest characteristic. She does the opposite, with all its consequences.

“Let’s not make it too complicated!“. That’s what the creators of “Crawl” thought apparently. Everything takes place at one claustrophobic location. And the entire film is carried by just two main characters. Occasionally, a few additional characters appear. But their function is limited to playing live fish food. In other words, they usually do not remain intact for long. And for the lessons “Logical reasoning”, these good-for-nothings didn’t get high grades either. And the way in which they involved the alligators in the story is also simple. A hurricane that causes rising water and you are stuck with a whole swarm of those bloodthirsty monsters in your backyard. Only the discovery that Haley made in the basement wasn’t 100% correct in my opinion. Coincidentally there was a pregnant alligator who used the flood to shamelessly dump her eggs in Dave’s basement at lightning speed. Well, in this way there was also an explanation for the aggressive attitude of the nest of primitive reptiles. There were a few things in the movie that really annoyed me.

First, there was the contrived and corny father-daughter relationship. They are both sitting there with torn limbs and shattered bones, and still, they need to philosophize about what went wrong in the past. I also thought it was a bit unbelievable how they endured the brutal attacks (with the necessary injuries) and apparently afterward had absolutely no problems with this. Even after a heart massage and mouth-to-mouth breathing, one jumps back into action in a short time. And I will never bet my money on a swimming competition between an alligator and a trained swimmer. I’m sure that the streamlined body of the reptile will ensure that it wins effortlessly. Even without a swim cap and aerodynamic Speedo swimming trunks. But still, “Crawl” is a nerve-racking horror in which the perfectly computer-generated alligators scare you. Most original in the film I found the bathroom scene. Believe me, after this film, hearing the song “See you later Alligator” by Bill Haley will scare the hell out of you.

Rambo: Last Blood (2019) Review By Philip Henry

 

Rambo Last Blood

Director: Adrian Grunberg
Screenwriters: Matthew Cirulnek, Sylvester Stallone
Stars: Sylvester Stallone, Yvette Monreal, Paz Vega

When we last saw Rambo, John J. he was back on US soil walking down a long lane to his family ranch. He had just killed a Burmese warlord and a small army with a mini-gun and rescued some well-meaning but naïve missionaries. It looked like he was hanging up his crossbow and putting those days behind him for a quiet retirement.

But the franchise gods are never that kind.

It’s ten years later and Rambo is still living on the ranch with a single mother and her daughter. The nuts and bolts of how this living arrangement came to be are never fully explained, but we get the crucial piece of information that after the girl’s real dad left, Rambo has been like a father to her. But as is often the case in these movies, no matter how many horror stories the kid is told about their deadbeat dad, they still feel the need to meet him face to face and ask him why he left. So when Gabrielle (Yvette Monreal) tells her Uncle John that she’s got an address for her dad in Mexico and wants to go see him, we know this isn’t going to end well.

Not only does her dad turn out to be just as horrible as she was led to believe, but soon after meeting him she gets abducted and forced into a prostitution ring in Mexico. So it’s time for Uncle John to come to the rescue, right? Well sort of. Rambo isn’t as young as he used to be and his first rescue attempt doesn’t quite go to plan.

I don’t want to go into every beat of the story, but suffice to say, Rambo ends up getting on the wrong side of the heads of this prostitution ring and lures them back to his place in the US where he has a large collection of booby traps waiting for them.

It’s a simple structure; for the first hour they set up a reason for Rambo to kill bad guys, and in the last half hour he kills those bad guys in the most brutal and sadistic ways possible.

Unlike other parts of this franchise, this one actually evokes real emotion. There are a couple of lump in the throat, wipe the eye moments, but it doesn’t hold back on the violence either. The 2008 movie was some of the most violent killings I’d seen on-screen for a long time and Stallone obviously felt he had to live up to that again.

It’s a lean ninety minutes of vigilante justice dispensed with a Vietnam veteran’s twist and though Stallone is seventy-three now and his face looks like a set of saddle-bags, he’s still a formidable presence on-screen and Rambo is still a guy you wouldn’t want to get on the wrong side of.

During the end credits we get a brief recap of all the movies in the franchise, including the one you’ve just watched, which may seem a little redundant, but then it carries on with a little epilogue. So if you want to see if Rambo lived to fight another day, stay until after the recap.

I think everyone knows what to expect when they see a Rambo movie, and in that respect I think this one lives up to the best parts of the series. The emotional connection with Gabrielle and her mother, and the side plot about a journalist (Paz Vega) trying to expose the gang gives it a little more depth than the non-stop action films, and gives Rambo a more personal reason to take revenge than he’s had in a long time. So if you like seeing low-life human traffickers get what’s coming to them, you won’t be disappointed.

Asher (2018) Movie Review By Peter Pluymers

Asher Review

Director: Michael Caton-Jones
Writer: Jay Zaretsky (screenplay by)
Stars: Ron Perlman, Famke Janssen, Jacqueline Bisset

I just killed a man in the bathroom, and I’m afraid if we don’t leave right now, they’re gonna call the cops.

Hmm… So it’s true.

What’s that?

Men will say anything for sex.

A hitman who, by chance, encounters a lovely dance teacher and realises that it’s time to turn his back on his dangerous profession. And then he comes to the conclusion that it’s not so obvious to do that. Well, doesn’t it sound familiar to you? It’s a bit like “Polar“, the “John Wick” -like action thriller, but with considerably fewer action scenes. The way Asher (Ron Perlman) enjoys a carefully cooked meal and a glass of wine on his rooftop terrace while observing the nocturnal activities in the city, is a snapshot that perfectly reflects how the rest of the film feels. You’ll get that easy-going feeling the entire film. So don’t expect an impressive and magically choreographed action film.

The fact that one of the targets who Asher had to liquidate, drops dead because of a heart attack before Asher does anything, is telling. Not that the film is deadly boring. But it’s not energetic either.

In my opinion, Ron Perlman really was the most suitable person to play Asher. This impressive-looking actor with his characteristic facial features exudes a kind of calmness and is at the same time intimidating enough. Ron Perlman, better known as “Hellboy” but also known for his contributions to an infinite number of other films, delivers a suitable interpretation. Maybe his age has something to do with it. As a 70-year-old, he does not have to put a lot of effort into playing an almost retired killer. A grayish, tough guy who suddenly starts to notice that his shape is deteriorating. When the lovely Sophie (Famke Janssen) crosses his path, he suddenly realises that being lonely at an old age isn’t something he’s looking forward to. In any case, it’s a role that demands more than just brute force. And Perlman, who in my eyes looks very much like Thanos, knows perfectly how to keep the balance between the professional, experienced assassin and the old, somewhat gloomy man who realises that his career is over and that the younger generation will soon take over.

Famke Janssen, who immigrated from the Netherlands to the US and played in blockbusters such as “Taken” and “X-men“, isn’t playing her most impressive role here but still manages to portray the person Sophie in an excellent way. A timid and stressed young woman with a turbulent past and dealing with her own personal problems. It’s mainly her dementing mother Dora (Jacqueline Bisset) she’s worried about. The old woman no longer recognises her and sometimes responds in a sharp and angry manner. This ensures emotionally charged scenes. And in one way or another, it’s also the reason for an unconsciously funny moment. For me, the conversation between Asher and Sophie about putting Dora out of her misery was the most moving and at the same time funniest moment of the film. An exchange of ideas on how to accomplish this while Sophie has no idea what Asher is actually doing. Let’s say, a tragicomic moment.

“Asher” is a mediocre crime movie that has difficulties getting off the starting blocks. And even when it gains momentum, the pace still seems to be slow and the film still colours nicely within the lines. This time it’s not about bad acting but rather the action-less content. They focus more on the development of a close relationship between two lonely souls. For me, this was enough to call it an interesting film. Even though the subject itself isn’t groundbreaking and some things are bluntly idiotic. For example, I found the corridor scenes in which Asher stood there with his umbrella while the fire alarm went off, completely ridiculous. I thought it was odd that only the targeted person runs out of his apartment in a panic. So, the movie isn’t a high flyer, but if you come across it somewhere on a VOD service, you might still be able to give it a chance.