Films viewed in 2011

Archive for the ‘Action’ Category

481. Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows

In Action on February 14, 2012 at 11:22 AM

Dir. Guy Ritchie

Sherlock Holmes and his sidekick Dr. Watson join forces to outwit and bring down their fiercest adversary, Professor Moriarty.

MY TAKE

The budding Sherlock Holmes franchise is more buddy cop movie formula than one might expect from a bona fide literary icon, but even the mindless action is pretty fun. Robert Downey Jr. still seems to be thoroughly enjoying himself with his signature dry wit and emerging prowess as a one-man-army, while Jude Law suffers slightly from either lost puppy or nagging wife syndrome. He’s upstaged by Jared Hess as the arch-nemesis of our hero, in a storyline that feels rushed considering the long-arc of their relationship. Worst off, however, is poor Rachel McAdams who gets what can only be described as a call-back roll before being unceremoniously ousted from the scene, much like her fumbling career.

 

420. Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol

In Action on December 21, 2011 at 9:34 AM

Dir. Brad Bird

After the Kremlin is bombed, Ethan Hunt and his new team go rogue to clear IMF’s name.

MY TAKE

Tom Cruise takes a lot of flak for his personal intensity, but that focus and passion never fails him on-screen. Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol gives us some impossibly good action scenes that are beautifully enhanced by IMAX and never feel anything less than breathtaking. Pixar star director Brad Bird brings a refreshing touch to franchise (which is now unapologetically infringing on James Bond territory), by letting us follow every sequence with just enough adrenaline and clarity for the tension to take root. Ingenuity is also always a priority in every scene, from new central gadgets to touches so small you’ll miss them if you blink. The story itself is just a bit straighter than we’ve come to expect from a franchise built on big twists.

412. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia

In Action on December 5, 2011 at 11:43 AM

Dir. Sam Peckinpaw

A man and his prostitute girlfriend go on a road trip through the Mexican underworld to collect a $1 million bounty.

MY TAKE

The title Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia sets up an expectation for a typically violent 70s exploitation genre film. Instead, Sam Peckinpaw creates an unorthodox and even challenging psychological odyssey that reluctantly gives us the shootouts we crave after tormenting the characters and audience alike. Warren Oates wears his sunglasses at night as the cold and hard luck anti-hero with only money on his mind. A strange love story also develops with the sultry Isela Vega, and the film becomes an action movie by necessity and love story by accident. The director, however, has stated many times that this is the only film he feels he had full control over, which only makes the ambiguity all the more exciting and frustrating.

354. Faster

In Action on October 26, 2011 at 4:55 PM

Dir. George Tillman Jr.

An ex-con sets out to avenge his brother’s death, but is tracked by a veteran cop and an egocentric hit man.

MY TAKE

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnston was the heir apparent to the one-man-army action heroes of the 80s and 90s.  Those types muscle and machine gun movies don’t exist the same way they used to though, so here he plays an anti-hero hell-bent on revenge.  The cat and mouse game gets additional bite from Oliver Jackson-Cohen’s millionaire hitman for pleasure character, and Billy Bob Thornton brings the requisite hidden slime to his slippery cop. The ending has a chance to go out in a big unexpected way, but ends up pulling back in favour of formula that makes this just another action film.

343. Rise of the Planet of the Apes

In Action on October 21, 2011 at 10:17 AM

Dir. Rupert Wyatt

During experiments to find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, a genetically-enhanced chimpanzee leads other apes to freedom.

MY TAKE

I didn’t think Hollywood needed to get into any more monkey business, but I was wrong. Rise of the Planet of the Apes resets the origins of the famous franchise with enough intelligence that we don’t feel like the studio is just throwing it’s old crap at us. The special effects steal the show, giving us incredibly emotive eyes and distinguishable primates that allow us to get lost in the story. The film isn’t without it’s head scratching moments – like the unreasonably violent ape keepers and the fact James Franco phones in his entire performance – but by the time things finally go ape shit, I was craving more. Too bad the end credits seem to zoom over the meat of an inevitable sequel.

339. Red State

In Action on October 19, 2011 at 9:35 AM

Dir. Kevin Smith

A group of teens receive an online invitation for sex, though they soon encounter fundamentalists with a much more sinister agenda.

MY TAKE

Director Kevin Smith gets all “grown up in here” with Red State, a stylistic departure from his usual talk-heavy fare and a logistical deviation from the Hollywood distribution system. Even the script defies several conventions, ruthlessly rotating protagonists and ending up in places that are far from obvious in the opening act. Michael Parks is the film’s best revelation, as the bible-totting Southern cult figure leading a delegation into their end days. His performance may, however, have over-mesmerized Smith who lets the madman’s opening monologue drag on far too long.  Otherwise, the film is remorseless about its characters and a bloodbath the whole Kool-Aid sipping family can enjoy.

323. Hancock

In Action on October 8, 2011 at 11:28 AM

Dir. Peter Weir

A hard-living superhero enters into a questionable relationship with the wife of the public relations professional who’s trying to repair his image.

MY TAKE

Hancock was director Peter Berg’s solution to combating the superhero fatigue already setting in three years ago. Will Smith gives a refreshingly care-free performance that’s funny and undermines the forced heroics we’re used to seeing. Jason Bateman is also well utilized as a P.R. fixer, but Charlize Theron’s big character change at the mid-point is a little too convenient. But unlike the vanilla storylines the invincible Superman has to endure, Hancock’s personal and physical battles gave me something I wasn’t completely sure how they would resolve.

322. Captain America

In Action on October 8, 2011 at 11:23 AM

Dir. Joe Johnston

After being deemed unfit for military service, Steve Rogers volunteers for a top secret research project that turns him into Captain America.

MY TAKE

Captain America: The First Avenger is one yankee doodle dandy superhero picture. Set in the 1940s, actor Chris Evans is impressively transformed from a scrawny wannabe to a bulky super solider in an origins story not just of the titular hero, but the entire Marvel universe.  The action is great, the humour is refreshing, and the plot is compelling throughout. The most ingenious part of the film for me was having Cap transition from being a wartime mascot (who gets his own line of comics) to being an actual called-upon hero.  And at the end, instead of just having a tacked on set-up for The Avengers, the last emotionally bittersweet line actually gave me goosebumps.

309. Columbiana

In Action on October 5, 2011 at 2:02 PM

Dir. Olivier Megaton

A young woman, after witnessing her parents’ murder as a child in Bogota, grows up to be a stone-cold assassin.

MY TAKE

One of my pet peeves in cinema is the supermodel super warrior.  So why on earth would I bother seeing Columbiana? Because if anyone could convince that the double ass belonged in assassin, it’s Zoe Saldana. And to her credit, she doesn’t give a half-assed physical or emotional performance. The film itself, however, never rises above the genre clichés of murdered father figures and a lifetime dedicated to revenge. Her first mission is the most inspired part of the film, embracing her (overly) skinny figure and feline femininity, before the plot literally enters into shark-jumping territory.

289. Crank: High Voltage

In Action on September 28, 2011 at 4:57 PM

Dir. Mark Neveldine, Brian Taylor

Chelios tries to track down a mobster to replace his battery-powered heart that requires regular jolts of electricity to keep working.

MY TAKE

I won’t make any excuses for how cool I think the Crank movies are. Non-stop action doesn’t even begin to describe the mayhem and insanity that oozes out of every fish-eyed frame of this film. The filmmakers laugh in the face of logic, right from the opening scene where the ever-dependable Jason Statham is literally shoveled off the pavement after falling thousands of feet to his non-death. From there, it’s just a never-ending parade of killing bad guys and brain cells, where no heart or breast implant is safe from exploding. I’m ready and waiting for them to Crank out one more of these suckers.