Tag Archives: Thomas Jane

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

The Predator

and the Joy of Junk Food

Director: Shane Black

Writers: Fred Dekker, Shane Black 

Stars: Boyd Holbrook, Trevante Rhodes, Jacob Tremblay, Olivia Munn, Keegan-Michael Key, Thomas Jane, Alfie Allen, Augusto Aguilera, Sterling K. Brown, Yvonne Strahovski, Jake Busey, Brian A. Prince.

Who doesn’t occasionally love a decadent snack of empty calories? That’s why I’m a little perplexed right now. Having seen The Predator twice now – once in a theatre and again for this Blu-ray review – I’m still left with this question: Did I watch a different movie than everyone else?

The movie may not have been a critical darling, but what surprises me is the overall negative reaction from audiences, especially longtime fans of the franchise. I’m not sure what they were expecting, but as tasty treats go, The Predator is easily the most satisfying of all the sequels. Much more than the insipid Predator 2 and the somewhat under appreciated Predators, this one has a lot of the same unhealthy ingredients that made 1987’s Predator such enjoyable junk food, right down to musical cues from original composer Alan Silvestri’s iconic score.

Maybe my expectations weren’t that high to begin with – we ain’t exactly talking the Star Wars saga here – but I found The Predator to be a lot of fast-moving, trashy fun. While the film certainly remembers – and acknowledges – the timeline and events established by its predecessors, it isn’t simply more of the same. It has the audacity to tweak with the formula just a bit, adding an alien agenda, of sorts (kinda like extra nuts & fudge on a sundae). It turns out that Earth is more than just the Predators’ favourite hunting ground. Without spoiling the snack, they’ve come to better themselves, so to speak, and need us – one character in particular – to become more efficient killers.

Some of the new ingredients are admittedly ridiculous (alien hunting dog, anyone?), but last thing this franchise needs is the original’s basic plot rehashed yet-again. Besides, the narrative moves along at such a frenetic pace that there’s no point trying to scrutinise it until later. That’s like regretting that sundae while you’re eating it. In the moment, The Predator is by-far, the most action-filled – and bloodiest – entry in the entire franchise, unbound by anything resembling restraint.

But what really sets this one apart from the sequels is its characters. Like the original film, squaring off against the title creature is an eclectic team, this time consisting of soldiers who’ve been relieved of their duties for a variety of criminal or psychological reasons. Self-dubbed The Loonies and led by super-sniper Quinn McKenna (Boyd Holbrook), they are an intensely likeable and amusing bunch despite their sordid histories, making them more than just typical cannon fodder. Olivia Munn is also on-hand as Casey Brackett, the biologist who-first discovers the Predators are evolving, as well as McKenna’s autistic son, Rory (Jacob Tremblay). Refreshingly, Rory isn’t a token kid who merely exists to be rescued (though he eventually does need rescuing); his acute abilities make him integral to the plot (which I’ll concede is also a bit silly).

Writer/director Shane Black is definitely the right guy for the job. In addition to having a supporting role in the original, he did a lot of uncredited rewrites, most-notably the more humorous touches that later became one of his trademarks. Like other action-oriented films he’s since written and/or directed, The Predator is often very funny…even goofy on occasion. A healthy sense of humour has been missing from this franchise for a long time, though some viewers may feel Black tips the scales too much in that direction for their liking.

That being said, I enjoyed The Predator just as much the second time. Sure, it’s ultimately cinematic junk food, but so was the original, which didn’t take itself all that seriously either. In a way, the film plays a lot like a nasty variation of the Jurassic World films, more content with being big, brash popcorn entertainment than breaking new ground. Though some purists may balk at that, sometimes empty calories are just what we need.

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Drive Hard (2014) Movie Review By Darrin Gauthier

Drive Hard

Director: Brian Trenchard-Smith
Writers: Chad Law, Evan Law
Stars: John Cusack, Thomas Jane, Zoe Ventoura

Plot:  A former race car driver is abducted by a mysterious thief and forced to be the wheel-man for a crime that puts them both in the sights of the cops and the mob.

Running Time: 92 Minutes

IMDB Score: 4.3

Why I Watched It: Jane+Cusack, fan of both actors.

Random Thoughts: So this was a made for DVD and it took me awhile to find it but it showed up on Amazon Prime and I finally got to see it. John Cusack and Thomas Jane are kind of at the same spot of their careers but go about it differently.  John Cusack is living in DVD hell, he’s just sleep watching he’s cashing in on his name with throw away roles not invested now Thomas Jane has always had a good genre run and his made for DVD or streaming movies have been decent and he’s always pretty good. Now you throw in Australian director Brian Trenchard-Smith and you have a triple threat for a cool B-Movie.

What I Liked: Only reason to watch this movie is for Thomas Jane and John Cusack, they have real good chemistry and they turn this into a kind of buddy crime movie. There is a lot of improve and there’s a couple of times you can tell Jane is laughing and true to form you can tell Cusack is just doing what he wants he’s getting threw it and Jane is trying and he does have a kind of arc and he does do a lot of the heavy lifting acting wise.

I’ve said it before I have no idea why Thomas Jane isn’t a bigger name, sure he works and he works a lot and yes mostly genre roles and I think the reason is he’s very good, genre isn’t easy and here even though it’s an action and not horror he invests himself. Now other then the two main actors and maybe the Australian scenery there’s not much else to like but I will say it’s an easy watch and it’s fun in a silly very slight way.  There’s a couple of moments that are funny and like I said Jane and Cusack work very well together.

What I Didn’t Like: This is a very sloppy movie, not a lot of effort went into this.  The plot is cliches 101 and the action scenes are dull for the most part.  I called it slight and it might be an insult to slight, the idea is fun and it does sent up a good action movie but the film goes through the motions.  We have standard bad guys, a few of them, we have a nagging wife and we have a caper bank heist thrown in and it all goes the way you would think.  The direction is kind of workmanlike but I would say lazy is a better word for it.  The script is the real dud here it’s boring and like I said a lot of the scenes between Cusack and Jane feel very improvised and at times in a bad way like there was no structure and it does hurt the film.

This might seem like a dumb thing to say but a script is important and too many times we get an idea and actors but no script of note and that’s too bad cause a script is like a map and you can see it in this film lack of the script makes this film seem lost a lot of the time.

Final Thoughts: I didn’t mind it but it’s not a great film and it does drag but if you’re fans of Jane and or Cusack you could do worse.

Rating: 5/10

Before I Wake (2016) Movie Review By Darrin Gauthier

Before I Wake Review

Director: Mike Flanagan
Writers: Mike Flanagan, Jeff Howard
Stars: Kate Bosworth, Thomas Jane, Jacob Tremblay

Plot:  A young couple adopt an orphaned child whose dreams – and nightmares – manifest physically as he sleeps.

Running Time: 97 Minutes

IMDB Score: 6.2

Why I Watched It: The trailers looked decent and I’m a huge Thomas Jane fan.

Random Thoughts: This was directed by Mike Flanagan who has built up a lot of good will and love from genre fans, he directed Oculus, Gerald’s Game and Hush, of those I think Hush is very good but what he’s done is embrace the horror genre and not try to go legit if you will, he’s one of those rare young directors who is having fun playing with the genre.

Like I said I’m a huge Thomas Jane fan, he’s an underrated actor and a very good genre actor, would love to see him finally breakout but he’s doing well but he deserves more.

What I like: This is a strange film at times cause it’s a borderline horror film, it’s more fantasy granted dark fantasy.  Now usually I don’t care too much for backstory and let’s be honest a couple dealing with a loss of a kid has been over used and sadly it’s often used as a plot point in horror but here the scenes with Kate Bosworth at her support group are good and you get a feel for her character and I think that’s a huge point cause often they use a tragedy as a character trait it’s not, we learn about Bosworth’s character and also that her husband Thomas Jane has stopped going to the group even though Bosworth would like him to. They even say everyone deals with death differently.  So as a director Flanagan does take the time o set up the characters.

Jane is very good here but he really doesn’t have much to do, Bosworth is the lead and in many ways it’s her story, Jacob Tremblay is also very good, he’s a very smart actor. Now I won’t go into to much of the plot but it turns into more of a fantasy than horror and also a mystery, some of that worked for me there’s a big twist in the film and then it’s almost all Bosworth trying to figure out about Tremblay’s dreams and what is the cause.

It’s a smart film and again a rare horror film that does take character beats and keeps the jump scares to a minimum.

What I Didn’t Like: The film is a little frustrating cause it’s well acted and directed but it doesn’t really work, the horror stuff doesn’t fit and the fact they never address how Tremblay’s dreams come to life, you would think that would be important but they call it a gift, alright well his gift kills people I might be splitting hairs here but that’s a problem.

The big thing for me is there’s death about mid way through and after that the film goes into the mystery direction and it fully work for me, the ending is too pat and what kind of bugged me was the tone was never right, either it’s a gift and people don’t die and he learns to control it or it’s evil and they have to get it our of him some how they play it down the middle and the film never really comes together. There’s an idea here, we’ve seen dreams and stuff like this explored before and I do think having a child makes it a bit different but the story doesn’t have a satisfying  third act. Also when the death happens they begin to rely on cliches and the smart writing went out the window.

Final Thoughts: Not a bad film and if you liked Mike Flanagan’s other films then by all means give it a watch.  It’s well done just didn’t click for me.

Rating: 5/10

Standoff (2016) Movie Review by Darrin Gauthier 

STANDOFF

Director: Adam Alleca
Writer: Adam Alleca
Stars: Thomas Jane, Laurence Fishburne, John Tench

Plot: Carter (Thomas Jane), a troubled veteran, gets a chance at redemption by protecting a 12 year-old girl from an assassin (Laurence Fishburne) after she witnesses a murder.

Running time: 1 hour 20 minutes

Why I watched it: I’m a Thomas Jane fan and it read well.

Random thoughts: I watch a ton of B-Movies, or straight to DVD titles and the reason I do is hoping I catch a hidden gem, now most times I pick the movies I watch on genre and actors, plots are mostly boring so I go with what I like.  Now at first I wasn’t that excited cause Standoff is a boring title, but I will say it does suit the movie, I watched this for Jane and Fishburne.  As I wrote above I’m a Thomas Jane fan and think he’s very underrated, he has done some fine genre work.

What I Liked: This one is a little genre gem, I liked the film a lot and the big reason is Jane and Fishurne don’t phone it in they go at each other, and oddly they aren’t face to face for most of the film, but their dynamic and chemistry is very good here.  Now the film is mostly one setting and it is a true standoff what I liked and didn’t expect was that the film is pretty smartly written, sure there’s stock characters but they’re smart and the little girl is good here to, sure she’s scared but she just doesn’t cry in the corner.  All three characters are fleshed out for this type of film.  The intensity is very good here and you feel the stakes.  The short running time helps here cause even at 1 hour 20 minutes it does drag a wee bit, you have one setting and really one outcome so they didn’t milk it too bad.

What I didn’t like: Not much really, there’s the one sub plot where there’s a cop figuring things out and of course he shows up and if you’re a movie fan you can pretty well see what’s coming, that was a tad lazy but it ends up being effective.  So all and all not to much to complain about.

Final thoughts: A solid genre movie with good performances, I really enjoyed it.

Final rating: 7/10, almost an 8.

1922 (2017) Movie Review by Stephen McLaughlin

1922

Director: Zak Hilditch
Writers: Stephen King (novel), Zak Hilditch (screenplay)
Stars: Thomas Jane, Molly Parker, Dylan Schmid

“1922” is a novel by Stephen King that is about a simple yet proud farmer in the year 1922 who conspires to murder his wife for financial gain, convincing his teenage son to participate.

When this film was released on Netflix on the 20th October I was excited and eager to see the latest Stephen King adaptation of 2017 following on from “It” and “Gerald’s Game”, the later also released via Netflix. There are three things you are guaranteed with a Stephen King movie and that is a good plot, suspense and a few frights on the journey.

Combine this with excellent direction from Zak Jilditch, (who I must admit don’t know anything about) and you have all the ingredients for a really good movie. “1922” doesn’t disappoint and to add the cherry to the top of the cake the acting is fantastic too.

Thomas Jane as Wilfred James probably isn’t the biggest household name by any means but here he gives his best performance as a man who states “I believe that there’s another man inside every man,” and in this movie there certainly is. Jane’s portrayal of a conniving man and the way he manipulates his son to be involved in the murder of his own mother is “right out of a Stephen King novel” To be honest there isn’t really a sudden change in the character to commit such a terrible crime. His character from the beginning is rather stern and quiet who doesn’t show much love or care towards his wife Arlette played by Molly Parker.

What I did like about the first hour of this movie was the build up to how things went wrong between the Husband, the Wife and their Son. Arlette was left 100 acres of prime land by her father on his passing and combined with the 80 acres of Wilfred’s neighbouring land they both were in a healthy position. The trouble was Arlette grew tired of the farm life and dreamed of the city life and using the money she would have selling her 100 acres to open a dress shop and taking their son Henry (or Hank) with her. Wilfred obviously not wanting the same life and living out his life as a farmer and one day passing all of the property, land and lifestyle to his son was his plans.

After a few arguments and confrontations it was clear to see these two people were never going to change their minds on what they wanted out of their lives and their futures with Henry being in the middle of it all. This is were the character of Wilfred begins to change in the sense of how he manipulates and gets inside the head of his son and convincing him that the farm life is the only life. Using Henry’s girlfriend as an emotional pawn in his game only assisted in Wilfred getting what he wanted.

Molly Parker as Arlette portrays a rather stubborn but strong woman in “1922” which I can only imagine being unusual in this period of time and was illustrated by Sallie Cotterie (Tanya Champoux) who was the wife of neighbouring farmer Harlan Cotterie portrayed by Neal McDonough. In a brief scene she is shown washing the dishes saying “Whatever you think is best” to her husband. Highlighting possibly a common response from a woman back in the 1920’s. Not Arlette though. She is determined to make a life for her and her son in the city and Wilfred knows this.

The sudden change of heart from Wilfred shouldn’t surprise the audience as clearly he has an agenda. You don’t brainwash your son for the best part of 40 minutes (on screen time) and suddenly backdown and accept giving up your lifestyle. Wilfred convinces Arlette that he after much thought and Henry “convincing” him that the city life might just be the way to go. I knew, you knew and everybody knew that at this point his plan was in motion. Celebrating the news with a drink or eight Arlette, aided by Wilfred is put to her bed to sleep off her drunkiness and so begins the murder of Arlette James.

One thing I must mention before I go any further is that I previously mentioned “a few frights on the journey.” There is none of that here and i’m not even adding an “unfortunately” to that sentence as this movie is more about guilt and regret. After committing this crime the downward spiral in the character of Wilfred and Henry is there for all to see and it’s the little things between them that the audience begins to notice that their relationship becomes strained and distant. Stephen King uses the what the body can handle the mind can’t in their characters and slowly but surely the guilt of what they have done takes hold of these two men for the rest of their lives.

The cinematography of the movie is also very well done and how the colours of brown, green and red appear in the tone and the setting reminded me a little of the movie “Signs” in an isolated farm surrounded by crop fields giving the movie a claustrophobic vibe and a sense of being trapped physically and mentally. Pacing appears to be an issue in the last third of the movie. It felt overly stretched in the final part and overemphasised Wilfred’s regret and sorrow in these scenes. Mostly the films pacing for the rest of it is slow and that’s not a criticism. It highlights the patience of a “conniving man”

“1922” came as a surprise Netflix release to me and its one of the best movie released on the streaming service. Stephen King’s Novel is adapted well and that’s thanks to Director Zak Jilditch and the acting in particular from Thomas Jane. I would recommend watching “1922” for this alone.