Tag Archives: Jaume Collet-Serra

The Shallows (2016) Movie Review By Darrin Gauthier

The Shallows Review

Director: Jaume Collet-Serra
Writer: Anthony Jaswinski
Stars: Blake Lively, Óscar Jaenada, Angelo Josue Lozano Corzo

Plot:  A mere 200 yards from shore, surfer Nancy is attacked by a great white shark, with her short journey to safety becoming the ultimate contest of wills.

Running Time: 86 Minutes

Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics 78%    Audiences 54%

Why I Watched It: I almost didn’t, was dragging my feet cause for the most part shark movies are cliched and same old same old, plus the shadow of Jaws is very large.

Random Thoughts:  I will say I’m coming around on Blake Lively, I wasn’t much of a fan, she’s fine but not my favourite, and she’s one of the reason it took me awhile to watch this cause it’s like mostly her and a shark for the run time of this movie.  Seeing the adds for this movie I was like this is an excuse to see Lively in a bikini for 90 minutes, but I saw All I See Is You, which I didn’t really care for but did like her performance and that kind of swung me around to watch the film, that and it was a killer shark movie.

What I Liked: This one was a very pleasant surprise for me, I not only enjoyed it but was a little shocked I did.  This is a very small film scale wise, heck all the danger is like 200 yards away from land and no danger but once the action starts this is a very well done little thriller/horror movie they played it small and intense and made it about survival.  It’s one of the rare cases where having a shark act like a serial killer worked in a movie.

The film works cause it’s not man versus nature it’s Blake Lively’s character versus this shark, the shark knows she’s there and wants to eat her, she knows the shark is there and doesn’t want to be eaten.  I give the film a ton of credit for keeping this intense and for the most part grounded, they didn’t go over the top and they stayed clear of going campy and silly.  Lively does a good job of making us care if she survives, she’s tough smart and scared, and it works so much cause she doesn’t play it like a macho action star, she wants off the rock, she doesn’t need to kill the shark she just wants to get to land, and we also have the ticking clock cause the tide is coming and she’s injured so she has to be proactive she can’t just wait to be rescued.

The film is very well directed and shot, not easy to make a film in water, go ask Kevin Costner, but they kept the film tight and for the most part they kept the tension and the horror retched up.  The story is tricky, a women gets attacked by shark and now she has to get to shore, that’s maybe a 30 minute story there, but the filmmakers used the passing of time well, every minute of screen time that is being used up we know Lively’s character is closer to death one way or another.

The action stuff is very well done it’s been awhile since a shark movie got to me and this did, the ending is very well shot and it built up really well.

What I Didn’t Like: I know it’s hard to call an 86 minute movie long but it is, the beginning is slow and really they had to pad the run time but still it felt the need to had melodrama to a shark movie, did we care that this character left medical school, that her father was upset about it, we don’t need a soap opera sub-plot to make us care about her.

Other than that, not much to complain about, it’s not perfect but it’s a shark movie.

Final Thoughts: A solid horror/thriller that is much better than I thought it was going to be and yes I almost like Blake Lively, by the way she was very good here the biggest thing was making sure we cared she lived and she did that.

Rating: 7/10

The Commuter (2018) Movie Review by Stephen McLaughlin

The Commuter Review

Director: Jaume Collet-Serra
Writers: Byron Willinger (story by), Philip de Blasi (story by)
Stars: Liam Neeson, Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson

“The Commuter” really took me by surprise in how long it would keep me interested. The trailer already showed us that Liam Neeson’s character Michael MacCauley an ex-cop now working in selling insurance is met by stranger Joanna played by Vera Farmiga who offers him a proposition to carry out one task and he could walk away with $100,000 if he succeeds. If he fails, his family will die. Yes, sometimes trailer can annoy me in this sense where they really show you everything. In this case though to sell the movie it was essential to show the good bits.

If not handled well can become stale and uninteresting. Speed managed to do this correctly set on a bus, but unfortunately its sequel was a massive flop, hey Keanu Reeves didn’t even want any part in that one, Under Siege is another example of predominantly being set on a ship which worked even though I’m not the biggest Steven Segal fan. It’s sequel just like “The Commuter” is set on a train but was terribly made and relied on a cardboard cutout villain and what looked like “blue screen central” everywhere.

“The Commuter” manages to keep you enthralled and in the first 15 minutes the ground work is set and one of the reason for that is Liam Neeson’s character Michael MacCauley isn’t the man he used to be. Now 60 years old, he is selling insurance, has two mortgages and is about to send his son to college. Unfortunately for Michael he has been given a severance package and basically he thinks his day can’t get any worse. It’s worth mentioning that we get to see a bit of Michael’s day to day interactions and patterns that he does on a daily basis for the last 10 years. We get to see a bit of interaction with Michael and other commuters which serves the storyline later on.

Dejected and desperate Michael whilst reading a book on his way home to face the music is approached by a lady named Joanna. There is a little back and forth small talk between both characters until the Ex-Cop comes out in Michael and asks bluntly what is it she wants. Joanna, offers Michael a tempting offer to find a commuter on the train or face the consequences. This is how the next 90 minutes plays out on this train with Michael against the clock to figure out who the target is and why this organisation wants this person and what they are carrying.

Now I don’t really want to delve into the reasons for their actions nor do I want to reveal any twists as I am basing this review as a non spoiler to an extent as I enjoyed a few of the reveals. Mostly what I have already said was in the trailer anyway so there is nothing spoiled here. “The Commuter” is a clever written film and the events in the movie will keep you entertained as the story is one big puzzle solver.

Liam Neeson again doesn’t let us down. His character has the tendencies of an honest and moral ex policeman who left all that behind and became an insurance salesman. You can sense a regret in the character on some of his life style choices and career choices and comes across as a man who would do anything for his family. I’m glad they gave the character a little back story in his previous work as the film plays out you understand why he can think the way he does and how to handle intense situations. Neeson despite being a “serious” actor in his younger days made the transition to action star way back in his “Taken” days, heck go further back to his “Jedi” days in The Phantom Menace (1999) unlike the Bryan Mills character from the former, MacCauley is flawed. He doesn’t have the confidence within himself to be able to conquer his insecurities or be be decisive as perhaps he once was.

Vera Farmiga is terrific in her limited screen time. As the supposed villain of the movie I think I can say that its more the people she works for that are the bigger villains but nonetheless delvers in a cold and calculating way. Joanna from the kick off doesn’t beat around the bush with her intentions. Yes there is a little small talk in there that MacCauley cuts does very quickly, but I sensed she was about to explain what she was doing on that train anyway. Farmiga for the most of the movie is then on the phone and although it makes sense for her to be dictating the situation you couldn’t very well have her presence there and you will realise why in the movies climatic finale.

Patrick Wilson is cop Alex Murphy (not the Robocop one) and is Michael’s ex partner. Murphy comes across as a younger version of MacCauley. He appears to have the same work ethos and moral values of Michael and comes across as a guy who learned a lot from him. Wilson is one of my favourite actors of the past 10 years and I have to admit that I was a little disappointed with his screen time. That’s not to say that his presence at any point isn’t impactful. He appears at the films first 15 minutes and we don’t get to see him again until the last 20 minutes or so.

Overall “The Commuter” is a thrilling rollercoaster of a ride and I’m always happy to see Liam Neeson in a successful and entertaining movie. The pacing and direction by Jaume Collet-Serra is great. At no point does the movie slow down, within the first 15 minutes you know and understand the main characters and you get to understand why MacCauley ends up doing what he does. The look of the film and the camera movements within a close proximity on the train works for me, especially during the fight scenes which where brilliantly and realistically executed. Jonathan Banks, Sam Neill and Elizabeth McGovern all play smaller roles than they would normally but add to the weight of the characters. If you haven’t yet watched “The Commuter”

Run All Night (2015) Movie Review by Stephen McLaughlin


Director: Jaume Collet-Serra
Writer: Brad Ingelsby
Stars: Liam Neeson, Ed Harris, Joel Kinnaman

Mobster and hit man Jimmy Conlon (Neeson) has one night to figure out where his loyalties lie: with his estranged son, Mike (Kinnaman) whose life is in danger, or his longtime best friend, mob boss Shawn Maguire (Harris) who wants Mike to pay for the death of his own son.

You know something? “Run All Night” is a pretty decent attempt of an action thriller. You would be forgiven if you thought after the disappointing “Taken 3” that Liam Neeson’s career as an action hero was all but over but here he isn’t playing the hero in the way of Brian Mills. Neeson’s Jimmy Conlon is a damaged figure. His family have disowned him for years, he is a laughing stock within his circles as a waster and a drunk with a past reputation as a henchman for Shawn Maguire who appears to be the only friend or the only human being who gives Conlon a second thought.

Neeson plays this role so well as a broken man and it’s a nice slant on the character that breathes new life into the actors career and allows him to play a darker role than that of the Taken franchise. His interactions with the brilliant Harris are great and enjoyable to watch.

I’ve been a fan of Ed Harris since the 1990’s and his versatility as an actor holds no bounds. In fact, in “Run All Night” we see multiple versions of the same character. A straight laced business man with a murky past, a friend to a down an out (Conlon), a grieving father and a nasty villain all rolled into one film.

Kinnaman’s career is on the up and roles in Suicide Squad as Rick Flag and TV’s The Killing as Stephen Holder have held the actor in good stead and fits right in comfortably up against veteran actors as Neeson and Harris with ease. His character Mike has a deep hatred for his father Jimmy and is ashamed of him. The scenes early on with Kinnaman and Neeson are deliberately awkward and tense. Mike is a simple man who wants a simple life with his family and that all comes crumbling down upon him one night for being the wrong guy in the wrong place at the wrong time (where have I heard that before?)

To be fair Director Jaume Collet-Serra’s style reminds me a lot like Pierre Morel. The pace is electric and the dialogue is interesting without being pretentious. His work with Director of Photography Martin Ruhe (Harry Brown) is stylish and i didn’t mind those little “Google Map” effects they threw in to give the audience an idea of the layout of the neighbourhood, zooming in and out of the area and dropping you in the next point of interest.

I shouldn’t be making the comparison but is “Run All Night” better than “Taken”? Not a chance. Is it better than “Taken 3” without a doubt. I’m glad I gave this movie a go and although it isn’t the best action / thriller I have watched this year, it isn’t bad either. I would recommend watching this as I found it enjoyable and interesting enough.

Run All Night (2015) Movie Review by Darrin Gauthier

Run All Night Review

Director: Jaume Collet-Serra
Writer: Brad Ingelsby
Stars: Liam Neeson,  Ed Harris,  Joel Kinnaman

Mobster and hit man Jimmy Conlon has one night to figure out where his loyalties lie: with his estranged son, Mike, whose life is in danger, or his longtime best friend, mob boss Shawn Maguire, who wants Mike to pay for the death of his own son.
Running time: 1 hour 54 minutes
IMDB Score: 6.6

Why I watched it: Mostly for Neeson and Harris, I really like Ed Harris he’s good in everything he’s in and Neeson is very good in these types of film.

What I liked: Easily the best part of the film is Neeson and Harris and when they’re on screen together the film works for me, when they’re not well it falls apart.  Also want to give D’Onofrio credit he has the thankless role of the “Cop” but he’s very good.  I liked the idea of seeing these crooks or mobsters if you will be these aging men, who have murdered and committed crimes but are also fathers and husbands, also showing how these two men have been life long friends.  The scenes of Harris and Neeson being old friends are very good but men are good actors and they have chemistry together.

What I didn’t like: This a very dumb film, I would almost call it a mess, the plot is just dumb and the real bad thing here is the script this might have been a decent film but man the script let’s everyone down.  Almost everything doesn’t work here, Joel Kinnaman is miscast here, and really though he has nothing to work with, he’s a married guy and he hates his father that’s it to say the performance is one note would be kind.

Once father and son are on the “Run All Night” the film almost goes to a comedy it’s so badly written, the action is boring and by the numbers.  The one thing I couldn’t get past is Common’s character this hit man a master killer, I like Common and he’s done some good work but this character is a joke, he’s a plot device, he’s a boring killer and not a very good bad guy.

My biggest problem is the main plot thread is so forced it’s silly, cause Neeson’s son kills Harris’s  son pretty much everyone must die, Harris won’t say alright I understand or at least work a deal so by the end it’s like they’re boxed in, the script and plot has given them nowhere to go and it plays out exactly  like you would think it would but the problem is by that point we don’t care.  My other huge problem is how lazy the action and chases are handled, there’s so many plot holes it isn’t funny.

Final thoughts: Neeson and Harris deserved a better movie.

Rating: 4/10