Tag Archives: John Ortiz

Replicas (2018) Blu-Ray Review By D.M. Anderson

Replicas Review, A scientist becomes obsessed with bringing back his family members who died in a traffic accidentDirector: Jeffrey Nachmanoff
Writers: Chad St. John (screenplay by), Stephen Hamel (story by)
Starring Keanu Reeves, Alice Eve, Thomas Middleditch, John Ortiz, Emjay Anthony, Emily Alyn Lind, Aria Leabu.

“Cloning Around with Replicas”

Though it eventually takes some narrative wrong turns and is somewhat hampered by the limitations of its star, Replicas isn’t nearly the dumpster fire some critics have suggested. The basic premise is pretty solid and, for awhile anyway, raises some interesting moral questions.

Keanu Reeves plays William Foster, a brilliant researcher on the verge of transferring human memories into an artificial brain, though so far, his subjects have violently rejected their new robotic bodies. Tragedy strikes one night when his wife and three kids are killed in a car accident. Fortunately – and quite conveniently – his colleague, Ed (Thomas Middleditch), has been experimenting with cloning in the same facility. But unfortunately, he only has three cloning pods, meaning William must choose which family members to resurrect. Poor little Zoe loses out. In the film’s most affecting sequence, William is not-only forced to come-to-grips with losing a child, he has to get rid of all evidence she ever existed, which includes erasing her from the memories of his “new” family.

Naturally, there are complications. Despite attempts to cover his tracks, which includes disposing of his family’s old bodies and accounting for their disappearance while the clones are incubating, William is ultimately unable to hide the fact the Fosters are one-kid-short. The dilemma creates some intriguing, occasionally suspenseful scenarios where William’s personal grief clouds his logic. Sure, the viewer is asked to accept some narrative implausibilities, but up to this point, the stage is set for an exploration of the moral – and legal – consequences of his actions. Had Replicas continued down this path, it could have been something special.

Instead, the third act descends into a standard thriller where the Fosters are on the run from those who want to kill them and use William’s scientific breakthrough for more nefarious purposes. The film remains watchable, though grows increasingly far-fetched and predictable…lots of action and a few obligatory twists, but its chosen path is already well-traveled, so the resolution will surprise no one. I also need to take issue with Reeves as the main protagonist. Based on his interviews in the bonus features, Replicas was sort-of a labor of love. While I like Reeves and he certainly isn’t terrible here, I think the emotional desperation required for such a role might be beyond his abilities.

Still, Replicas remains fairly enjoyable, perhaps more so at home, where the viewer is less likely to feel short-changed by the unfortunate decision to dumb things down toward the end. Until then, the film offers-up some interesting ideas, even raising a few moral questions we might feel compelled to ask ourselves if forced to make similar decisions.

Peppermint (2018) Blu-Ray Review By D.M. Anderson


Director: Pierre Morel
Writer: Chad St. John
Stars: Jennifer Garner, John Gallagher Jr., John Ortiz

Brash, bloody and shamelessly manipulative, Peppermint is exactly want you think it’s gonna be. And if you’re reading this, that also means it’s exactly want you’re hoping for. The movie may not have a lot of substance – or brains – but it is a lot of fun.

The peppermint of the title refers to the flavour of ice cream chosen by a little girl just before she and her father are gunned down in a drive-by shooting. The wife & mother, Riley North (Jennifer Garner), is shot in the head, but still able to identify the shooters, who are soldiers of notorious drug lord Diego Garcia (Juan Pablo Raba). It turns out the husband was considering teaming with a buddy to steal Garcia’s cash, but backed out at the last minute. Too late to avoid Garcia’s wrath, though.

Because the judge and both lawyers at the trial are on Garcia’s payroll – the unscrupulous defence attorney paints Riley as an unreliable witness due to her use of painkillers – the shooters are all acquitted. Riley understandably loses her mind in the courtroom. A crooked judge orders her to be restrained and sent to a psych ward. However, she escapes and disappears.

Five years later, Riley returns to Los Angeles to get the justice she never got in court. Now a highly-trained, one-woman wrecking crew, she goes after everyone responsible…the lawyers, the judge and Garcia’s entire operation, as well as anyone she comes across who happens to be a horrible human being. In the meantime, Riley becomes sort-of a local hero because, unlike Paul Kersey in Death Wish, everyone is well-aware of her story due to social media. Two cops and an FBI agent follow the trail of bodies to try to stop the mayhem, but even though we learn of an informant on the force – you’ll easily figure out who – they are mostly inconsequential to the story other than providing exposition.

Both narratively and aesthetically, Peppermint treads familiar ground. There’s little in the way of tension and nary a scene we won’t see coming from a mile away. The film is also loaded with implausibilities and plot contrivances. However, it does push all the right emotional buttons. By having Riley’s misery increasingly compounded by various scumbags throughout the film, the numerous scenes where they get their comeuppance are gleefully rousing and fittingly brutal. I do, however, take issue with the decision to gloss over the death of one of its most hateful characters.

Speaking of which, the characters themselves are generally one-note, especially Gracia, your garden-variety seething ball of viciousness. The important exception is Riley, who’s easy for any parent to empathise with. Garner makes a welcome return to the action genre with an intense and convincing physical performance. The action itself is well-staged, bloody and generally pretty exciting, even during some of the more outlandish moments. As someone who finds a perverse amount of guilty pleasure in revenge movies, I found it quite satisfying (then again, I also enjoyed the recent remake of Death Wish more than I probably should have, so maybe I’m the wrong guy to ask).

Is Peppermint a great film? Not by a long shot. Never intended to stimulate the intellect, it mostly delivers as promised, sticking to the tried-and-true with a story that’s been told before and doing it with a lot of flare. If nothing else, this is a film that certainly knows its audience. Anyone who enjoys a heaping helping of revenge (with a big side of deja vu) are encouraged to check it out.

Peppermint (2018) Movie Review By Stephen McLaughlin


Director: Pierre Morel
Writer: Chad St. John
Stars: Jennifer Garner, John Gallagher Jr., John Ortiz 

Five years after her husband and daughter are killed in a senseless act of violence, Riley North (Jennifer Garner) comes back from self-imposed exile to seek revenge against those responsible and the system that let them go free. 

For me Peppermint is an enjoyable 101 minute action / revenge film that surprisingly has been receiving a few bad reviews prior to me going along to see this on it’s first day here in the UK. It’s not perfect but if you enjoy the Death Wish or Punisher storyline then you will get some enjoyment out of this film. Where I suppose it may fall flat with some people are the villains aren’t exactly fleshed out and are basically your standard ‘bad guys’ and I get that. More and more audiences want to see the mind workings of both good and bad but writer Chad St. John focuses more on the point of view of Riley North. I didn’t have an issue with this as I felt the story had to show her anguish in her loss and how this character would develop. 

Jennifer Garner as Riley North was fantastic in the role. The first 30 minutes set up the character as a Mother and Wife and the relationship between Garner, Jeff Hephner as Chris North and Cailey Fleming as Carly North is important and must be believable to the audience to experience the loss and feel sympathetic to Riley and more importantly accept the change in her character. Believe me, Jennifer Garner’s transformation is brilliant and well executed. If you are familiar with the plot or watch a lot of vigilante films then the change doesn’t come as any surprise but how the character is written and how the actor executes the part is where Garner excels. Riley North has lost everything and the justice system has betrayed her. This allows the character to go hell for leather throughout the film but I’m glad they allowed a five year gap before her return to seek justice as her skills and tactics are very impressive.

The relationship between John Gallagher Jr’s  Detective Stan Carmichael and John Ortiz’s Detective Moises Beltran is also another key element in the film that I would like to have seen developed a little more. As partners there is almost nothing there in any form of relationship and the characters come off as they have been forced together by their superiors. John Gallagher Jr is a terrific actor and I enjoyed seeing him play Emmett in 10 Cloverfield Lane back in 2016. His portrayal of Carmichael is almost a good cop who is restrained by fear of the Cartel and the consequences of taking them on. This is mostly suggested at the beginning of the film and Beltran reminds him of this. Ortiz is another fine actor and perhaps plays second fiddle to Gallagher Jr’s character. Ironically the last film I saw Ortiz in was The Cloverfield Paradox from this year. Both characters turn up at in the aftermath of each crime scene and the way both these characters are portrayed aren’t all they seem (spoiler free review here, so I’ll say no more on this)

I was glad to see Pierre Morel directing this film as I enjoyed his Directorial style in “Taken”. The Frenchman can combine the action with “to the point” dialogue and emotion without bogging us down with over dramatising the scene. I found the killing of the husband and daughter scene fast and effective from a story telling point of view. Some might say that it may have lacked enough emotion but personally I felt it handled it well. I got it. They are dead and have been killed in front of the Mother / Wife. I didn’t need a slow motion montage of memories and tears at this stage. We would get that in her quieter moments throughout the film. Morel is excellent at not lingering on the moment too long and I found his decision making in the pacing of the opening 30 minutes just right.

Overall “Peppermint” is a good film. Garner is playing the role out of her skin and it’s great to see the actress at the forefront of a film of this genre. The audience can feel her range of emotions throughout the story and it’s definitely the strongest element to the film. The pacing is frantic and the action is on point thanks to Morel’s direction. The villains are perhaps a little two dimensional if I was nitpicking but it didn’t bother me that much as the main character Riley was fleshed out and developed by the writer. Recommended.