Tag Archives: Jonathan Mostow

The Hunter’s Prayer (2017) Movie Review By Darrin Gauthier

THE HUNTER_S PRAYER

Director: Jonathan Mostow
Writers: John Brancato (screenplay by), Michael Ferris (screenplay by)
Stars: Sam Worthington, Odeya Rush, Allen Leech

Plot:  An assassin helps a young woman avenge the death of her family.
Running Time: 91 Minutes
IMDB Score: 5.5

Why I Watched It: I hadn’t heard of this film but saw it on Netflix, now I do say I liked director Mostow and the plot seem alright and I gave it a go.

Random Thoughts: Mostow has made some good films and of course he made Terminator 3 which was flawed to say the least but he hasn’t done much lately which is a shame. Let’s touch on Sam Worthington who was in a Terminator film that was more than flawed.  He gets a lot of crap cause he’s bland but I will say this he’s not a bad actor, he’s more of a presence that an actor force. Also a nitpick with the plot description, he doesn’t really go out to help the girl avenge her family’s death as he tries to keep her from getting killed.

What I Liked: As the plot tells you it’s a fairly simple story and at times I like simple and to be fair I guess it’s more straight forward than simple.  An assassin is told to kill a teenage girl and he doesn’t.  One thing I really liked is the main character played by Worthington is a bit of a mystery we don’t know much about him and we don’t know why he doesn’t go through with the contract.  Now the film unfolds and we learn things but the first half we as the audience are pretty much in the dark.  I give director Mostow credit here for not throwing all the plot and all the character’s backstory at us all at once we learn things and it was done very well.

This is a pretty lean film at 91 minutes but we do flesh out not only Worthington’s character  but also the girl he’s helping played by Odeya Rush, now it’s funny I hadn’t seen Rush before last week and I saw her twice in this and Goosebumps, yes two very different films, I think she has a future, I like her look and she carries herself very well for a young actress. Worthington and Rush work well together, what I liked is there’s no sexual tension stuff at all it’s played kind of like father and daughter but not heavy handed. The action was fine lots of shot outs and car chases.  Worthington is more than capable of pulling off the action stuff and the thing here is Worthington doesn’t really talk that much, he’s good here cause he has to carry a lot of baggage, maybe too much for one character in a 91 minute movie but he’s very flawed and he’s worn down.

What I Didn’t Like: The story is paper thin and the weak part is the main villain and the secondary villains, all the villains are boring.  The main one is just the standard rich asshole, he gets more time than you would think but it the character is not memorable at all he played by Allen Leach and he’s not bad just doesn’t stand out, this movie needed a good bad guy.  Martin Compston is another hitman, the bad one and he’s just a plot point a walking cliche.

The other point that kind of bugs me is we learn things about Worthington’s character but never passed a superficial level.  We get bullet points but never any real answers, we assume he doesn’t kill the girl cause he has a daughter, he never learn how he went from being in the army to being a hitman.  The main bad guy threatens to kill his family but we’re never told their relationship, is he a hitman for hire or does he just work for this guy.  The details would have helped shape his character more and also given us more information and we would have gotten to know him more. The ending was a little weak not badly done but very by the numbers,  I will say it moved quick enough but I would have liked it to at least do something a bit different.

Final Thoughts: Not a bad movie, it was not a flashy action film and I liked it for that and both leads were good and it was well directed.

Rating: 6/10

Breakdown (1997) Movie Retro Review by John Walsh

BREAKDOWN

Director: Jonathan Mostow
Writers: Jonathan Mostow (story), Jonathan Mostow (screenplay)
Stars: Kurt Russell,  J.T. Walsh, Kathleen Quinlan

Well, I’m continuing on with the whole ‘retro’ review theme and I thought I’d share my views on what’s becoming a bit of a forgotten classic from 1997. (It’s not George of the Jungle or Batman and Robin) No, it’s Jonathon Mostow’s Breakdown, which honestly picked a terrible year to release, because it’s a brilliant film with a captivating story and great performances. With the competition that year however it was never going to get the love it deserved.

It follows Jeffrey (Kurt Russell) and Amy (Kathleen Quinlan), a husband and wife in the process of journeying through the barren desert environment of Utah on their way to San Diego. Their old life in Boston left them in financial hardship, you see and Jeffrey’s hoping his new job will be just the boost they need.

They first hit our screens in their flashy, red, pick-up truck narrowly avoiding a pair of rednecks that pull out right in front of them. Things don’t get any better upon meeting said rednecks further down the road at a gas station. The driver going by the name of Earl (M.C. Gainey), takes umbrage at the incident and begins throwing his weight around and when the car stalls shortly afterwards in the middle of nowhere, it becomes increasingly clear that this just ain’t going to be their day.

The redneck duo arrive on the scene once more, passing the pair initially before stalking them from a distance for a few nervous minutes. This brief tense moment (a sign of things to come) ends when a trucker appears on the scene apparently eager to assist. Christening himself as the Red Barr (J.T. Walsh), he takes a quick look at the truck and kindly offers to take them to Belle’s, a small diner down the road. Jeffrey, of course, isn’t keen on leaving the car on its lonesome and decides to stay, letting Amy ride on to call for a tow truck. Whilst his logic is understandable, you can’t help but feel that it’s his wife he should be more concerned about, which prophetically turns out to be the case.

This is a fantastically well made film from Mostow, absolutely bursting at the seams with tension, action and mystery. It of course shares a massive amount of similarities with the more recently released Nocturnal Animals, a film I also reviewed. I do recall mentioning at the time that my favourite part of that movie was the film within a film, action heavy, mystery component.

Breakdown has that on steroids and thankfully without the layer of pretentiousness that afflicted Mr. Ford’s creation. And whilst the villain within Nocturnal Animals fictitious setting lacked a rational reason for his actions (he was just a psycho that like killing people), the Red Barr has it in an abundance. Superficially, it plays on the ingrained, ideological hatred between southern republicans and northern democrats, but the reality is much simpler.

Sure, he’s surrounded by hillbilly, rednecks of dubious mental fortitude, but Barr is a man motivated by money, plain and simple. He targets affluent looking road-trippers for the sole reason of robbing them and there’s a very telling moment when Jeffrey stumbles upon several boxes full with personal belongings of previous victims, hinting at the cold, callousness of the man and his cronies. J.T. Walsh’s performance plays a massive part in making the character so believable too.

Right from the first moment you see him step out of his truck in a stereotypical trucker cap and double denim, there’s an immediate sense of uneasiness despite his forced, faux politeness. Walsh imbues the character with palpable personality, even if it does become increasingly dislikable once it begins to be fleshed out. I know it’s a spoiler, but his end is easily one of the most satisfying put to film.

I run out of superlatives to describe Kurt Russell. The man is a fantastic actor, one of my favourites and much like the majority of the cast within Breakdown, he’s perfectly cast in his role of Jeffrey. I particularly liked the way the character gradually ditched the slight middle-class arrogance for a more aggressive rambunctiousness as the growing realisation of what was happening began to dawn on him. His little angry outbursts, first directed at the Belle diner owner soon developed into the full on torturing of his nemesis Earl with tape and some hard braking.

Jeffrey is just an ordinary man and certainly not a willing action hero, doing everything to rescue his wife. It was a role that demanded lots of physicality, including wading through rapids to climbing up the side of houses and Russell eased his way through it in a manner that Tom Cruise would be proud of.

My preference is for mystery dramas like this to build into an exciting finale. Se7en did it breathtakingly well, Nocturnal Animals less so, and whilst not quite reaching the levels of the former, Breakdown certainly builds into a fitting climax. The confrontation at Barr’s ranch develops into a good ten or fifteen minutes of action fuelled craziness, involving his unsuspecting wife and son, not to mention a thrilling chase scene with a truck that ushered back uncomfortable memories of Terminator 2.

Its terrifically done and a fitting end to a highly enjoyable film. By all accounts it was a relative success on its release and did make a profit, but the sheer plethora of great films that year meant it probably didn’t get the level of recognition it deserves. I suspect a large majority of people will have seen it before, but if you haven’t then I absolutely recommend giving it a watch.