Tag Archives: Michael Keaton

American Assassin

Movie:  American Assassin

Rating:  4 Stars (Out of 5)

Review:   Mitch Rapp (Dylan O’Brien) had some tough breaks in his young life.  His parents died in a car crash when he was just 14, and his fiancé, the love of his life didn’t fare too well either.  So when life handed Mitch lemons, he decided to make some sour lemonade.  He created a personal training program that included firearms training, martial arts, and a knowledge of Arabic and Islamic theology to make himself a one man bounty hunter of terrorists.  Not surprisingly, this crusade of Mitch’s does not go unnoticed by the counter-intelligence wing of the CIA, and Mitch is recruited by Deputy Director Irene Kennedy to become a legitimate agent for the CIA.

Soon Mitch is whisked off to a top secret training facility in the Roanoke Valley of Virginia, where he and other wannabe agents are to be broken down and molded into killing machines by former navy seal and all around badass Stan Hurley (Michael Keaton).  Many are weeded out in the rough and tumble training site, but Mitch perseveres and is chosen for an overseas assignment.  The mission is a ballbuster, as terrorists are on the loose in the middle east putting together a nuclear device.  Complicating matters is the activity of a former CIA operative gone rogue known as the Ghost (Taylor Kitsch), who has a grudge against his former bosses.  So team leader Stan Hurley leads an operation to stop the latest terrorist threat, assisted by his maverick protégé Mitch and the very fetching Annika (Shiva Negar).

This is a terrific action film with a good plot and fine cast.  Michael Keaton is at his best as a tough guy trying to keep a rein on the impetuous rookie operative.  The action sequences come often enough to hold your interest throughout the film, but thankfully without a lot of special effects.   This film is a good one, and welcome as we await the next batch of blockbusters in November.

Mini Trailers:  Mitch to Terrorist – “I am prepared to die a martyr.”

Dep. Dir. Kennedy – “You wouldn’t have made it there another 20 seconds alive.”  Mitch – “I guess we’ll never know.”

CIA Director – “This kind of psych file scares the hell out of me.”

Stan Hurley – “You go down out there you’re a ghost.  No one is coming back for you.”

Ghost – “Thousands of Americans are going to burn, Stan.  All because of you.  Enjoy the show.”

Mitch – “You shouldn’t have come back for me.”  Stan – “Don’t get used to it, Kid.”

Stan – “What the hell you looking at?”  Dep. Dir. Kennedy – “You look like a mummy.”  Stan – “Yeah, mummies don’t have to write up a report.”

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Birdman

 

Movie:  Birdman (or The Unexpected Virtue Of Ignorance)

Rating:  4 1/2 Stars (Out of 5)

Review:   Riggan Thomson’s (Michael Keaton) life is in crisis mode.  Once on the top of the Hollywood Heap due to his starring role in the Birdman franchise, in recent years his star has fallen.  Thomson spurned the opportunity to do Birdman 4, and ever since then he has struggled to be relevant as an actor.  His marriage to Sylvia (Amy Ryan) fell apart, and his daughter Sam (Emma Stone) is recently out of rehab for drug addiction.  His fortune is gone, but with the help of his attorney and close friend Jake (Zach Galifianakis), he has cobbled together the resources to stage a new play on Broadway at the venerable St. James Theater.  Riggan intends to show the world he has serious acting chops, and is staging What People Talk About When They Talk About Love, an adaptation from a book of short stories by Raymond Carver.   It is a serious dramatic play with a minimal cast, including Lesley (Naomi Watts), Laura (Andrea Riseborough), and Broadway heavyweight actor Mike Shiner (Edward Norton).

The movie focuses on the last few days of rehearsals and preview performances leading up to opening night on Broadway.  All of the actors are feeling the crushing pressure of preparing for the play’s opening, as well as dealing with multiple personal issues and personality conflicts with the other actors.  Riggan Thomson feels pure angst at all times, tortured by the idea that he was never a good actor, just a movie star who needed a bird suit to be rich and famous.  He is constantly reminded of his former glory by Birdman himself, an inner voice that follows Thomson around scolding and cajoling him about every decision.  The pressure is steadily ratcheting up on the middle-aged former star, and Thomson is like an untested performer going out on a high wire without a balancing pole or safety net.

This is a fascinating movie on several levels; it’s unlike anything you’ve seen before which alone makes it worth seeing at the theater.  Much of the movie consists of tracking shots of the actors as they move about in close quarters in back of the stage and dressing rooms.  Many of the takes are 8 to 10 minutes of unedited action which is rarely done in movies, but it gives the movie an extremely realistic vibe.  The camera work is sensational, and the movie is driven along like a heartbeat by the urgent improvised drum score of Antonio Sanchez.   This is Oscar material all around; a sure bet for a Best Actor nomination for Michael Keaton.  This was the role he was born to play.

Actor To Watch:  You may not even recognize Zach Galifianakis.   Great job in a really straight up dramatic role.  He will surprise (and impress) a lot of people in this film.

Dialogue Nuggets:  “Get that smile off your face.  You’re freaking me out!”

“What can I say?  My life lasted longer than the money.”

Riggan:  “Why did we break up?”  Sylvia:  “Because you threw a kitchen knife at me, and an hour later you said you loved me.”

“You couldn’t get it up for six months, and then you want to f*ck me in front of 800 strangers?”

“You went to rehab?  Cool!”

“Blood coming out of his ears is the most honest thing he’s ever done.”

Huh?  What the ….:  Right around the end of the movie you’re going to think, “What the hell just happened?”

Weird Credit:  If you follow the post movie credits, you will see a very minor actor by the name of Bomber Hurley-Smith.  Who names their kid “Bomber”?