Monthly Archives: April 2015

Furious Seven

Movie:  Furious Seven

Rating:  2 Stars (Out Of 5)

Review:   Sigh….Just when you think the Fast & Furious franchise has run out of steam, ideas and any originality, they squeeze out #7 in the series and make 800 million bucks.   Forget the rating; if you are an adrenaline junkie, this film is for you.

As for this cinematic exercise in FX, Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and the gang have received immunity from their various felonies thanks to their working with federal agent Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), so everyone is set to relax and live the good life.  Then kaboom, Dom’s house explodes, and the game is afoot.  Something to do with putting Deckard Shaw’s (Jason Statham) brother in a coma in the last furious flick, and Deckard is a bit annoyed over it.  So he intends to wreak revenge with Dom’s crew.

What follows is a series of capers strung together with varying degrees of logic.  Just don’t expect any of the car sequences to make any sense; in real life no one would have survived any of the stunts.  It is Paul Walker’s last hurrah as Brian O’Conner; the producers managed to finish his sequences with doubles and CGI work.  The most entertaining actor in the film is Kurt Russell (aka Frank Petty), a U.S. black ops honcho who enlists Dom and the gang to help him retrieve a software system called God’s Eye, which apparently can tell where everyone is sitting at any moment in time.  (Now that is scary!)  Russell plays the role almost seriously but with tongue definitely in cheek along with the best of the witty dialogue.

Huh?  What The….:  Jeez, what do we exclude from this movie?  I especially liked 5 cars falling out of a plane at high altitude and being able to land right on a narrow 2 lane mountain road.  Most equipment drops are lucky to land within a half mile of the target.

How about people falling out of fast moving cars and not getting serious road rash, never mind  broken bones?

With all the high tech gizmos in these operations, Turetto’s crew have to drive like chimps on crack with one hand because they’re using hand held walkie-talkies?  Headphones, dudes!

There’s a scene in LA with a militarized air ship blasting the city to smithereens for what seems like an eternity.  Where’s the police choppers?  Where are the fighter planes from the LA Air Station?

Then there is the empty streets in LA before midnight where everyone is tear-assing around in their muscle cars.  Seriously?  At that hour you’d be lucky to go 20 MPH with the clogged traffic patterns.

Dialogue Nuggets:  Dom goes philosophic on us – “The open road helps you think about where you’ve been, and where you’re going.”

Hobbs – “You’ve just earned yourself a dance with the devil.  You’re under arrest.”

Frank Petty – “Completely wrong thinking, and I like it!”

“My Dad said he kicked your Dad’s ass once.”  “Your Dad’s on heavy pain meds.”

“I took the precaution of putting some adult diapers in you glove compartment.”

Hobbs to Shaw – “Once you dig through this 8 feet of concrete and steel, my fist and a body bag will be waiting for you….”




Woman In Gold

Movie:  Woman In Gold

Rating:  4 1/2 Stars (Out of 5)

Review:   Around 1938 in Austria, it is a bad time for the Jewish population.  Nazi Germany has annexed Austria, and the Jews are being subjected to the same brutal tactics as in the Fatherland, especially where the wealthy are concerned.  The Altmann family is very rich and live in a fine house full of expensive art works.  One in particular, Gustav Klimt’s masterpiece Portrait Of Adele Bloch-Bauer, is stolen by the Nazis and never returned to the family after the war.  Sixty years later in 1998, a feisty 80 year old Maria Altmann (Helen Mirren) marches into a Los Angeles law office and asks for help to force an art museum in Austria to return her family’s painting, commonly referred to as The Woman In Gold.  A young American lawyer of Austrian ancestry, Randol Schoenberg (Ryan Reynolds) takes on the case.

So begins a quest that goes on for several years, taking Maria Altmann back to Austria, a country she vowed to never return to.  Randol Schoenberg believes in the merits of the case, despite the career and financial hardship it costs him to pursue the matter.  Their David and Goliath legal fight took them all the way to the United States Supreme Court (Austria v. Altmann) before it was decided.

This is one of those wonderful small films that come along just a few times a year that have a great cast and a compelling story.  This one has the added benefit of being true.  I would urge movie goers to see this picture before it is squeezed out of theaters to make room for the action laden summer blockbusters in May.

Actresses To Watch:  Of course Helen Mirren is magnificent in this role, as she always is.  She is one of the grand dames of films along with Judi Dench and Meryl Streep.  But pay attention to the 29 year old actress Tatiana Maslany that plays Maria Altmann as a young woman.  She is truly an up and coming star, and you should watch her amazing television show on BBC America, Orphan Black, where she plays at least five separate characters.

Dialogue Nuggets:  Randol to Maria – “Against my better judgment I like you.”

Maria – “The Austrians welcomed the Nazis with flowers and open arms.”

Austrian – “The Woman In Gold is Austria’s Mona Lisa.  They will never let it go!”

Austrian Man to Maria – “Why don’t you just go away?  Everything is not about the Holocaust!”


Run All Night

Movie:  Run All Night

Rating:  3 Stars (Out of 5)

Review:   Jimmy Conlon (Liam Neeson) , once a feared hit man in New York City known as The Grave Digger, has fallen on hard times.  He’s well past his prime, he’s been hitting the booze hard, and hasn’t enough money to pay his bills.  His boss and lifelong friend Shawn Maguire (Ed Harris) keeps him around out of loyalty, and Shawn’s son and business heir Danny (Boyd Holbrook), treats Jimmy like he’s a pathetic loser.  When Jimmy asks for a loan, Danny agrees, but only if Jimmy will be the Santa Claus for a group of kids.  Naturally a booze soaked Jimmy Conlon does not fare well with the kiddies and is viewed by the party goers with a mixture of pity and embarrassment.

The seeds of trouble are sown when Danny wants to show his father what a grown-up player he is, and contribute to the family business.  He arranges a business meeting with his father and some heavy duty drug dealers, but the elder Maguire sends them packing, wanting nothing to do with the drug trade.  Danny is royally pissed, shoves some drugs up his nose, and ends up committing some crimes in front of a witness.  The witness just happens to be Jimmy’s son Mike (Joel Kinnaman), a limo driver who had disowned his father years ago.  But drugs, anger, guns and ego don’t mix well, and soon Mike Conlon’s life is in danger and he is on the run.  And the only person who can possibly protect him is the father he loathes, Jimmy Conlon.

This is not a bad movie, just a bit simplistic.  They sacrificed plot development to squeeze in the maximum action sequences, which is a common problem with so many movies today.  This is a shame with this movie, as they have a better than average cast with Ed Harris, Joel Kinnaman from AMC’s The Killing fame, veteran character actor Bruce McGill, and the gorgeous Genesis Rodriquez.  They even squeezed in a scene with Nick Nolte, although it was hard to tell if Nolte was acting the part of a broken down old boozer or just acting natural.

Huh?  What the….:  For an old geezer who can barely function, Neeson sure manages to kick ass and take names all night long.  I guess booze to The Grave Digger is like spinach to Popeye.

Dialogue Nuggets:  Shawn – “I had to kill people I loved because I couldn’t trust them anymore.”

Jimmy – “I’ve done terrible things in my life, things for which I can never be forgiven.”

Small kid – “Santa smells funny.”

Detective – “You better be on a flight to Shangri-La!”  Jimmy – “I tried, the flight was full.”

Shawn to Jimmy – “Wherever we’re going … when we cross that line we’re going together, me and you.”

Best Scene:  There is plenty of the usual shoot ’em up stuff in the film, but the ultra gritty mano a mano fight to the finish in a subway men’s room is a terrific scene.