Posts Tagged ‘Brian Tyree Henry’

Dollar Signs and Empty Promises

Widows

Director: Steve McQueen

Cast: Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki, Liam Neeson, Colin Farrell, Jacki Weaver, Daniel Kaluuya, Robert Duvall, Jon Bernthal, Carrie Coon, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Brian Tyree Henry, Garrett Dillahunt, Cynthia Erivo

In a labyrinth tale which at times is difficult to follow, 12 Years a Slave and Shame director Steve McQueen weaves a tangled web in the contemporary Chicago crime drama Widows featuring an outstanding ensemble cast including a brilliant Viola Davis, Oscar winner for Fences, Oscar nominees Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out) as a ruthless hitman, Jacki Weaver (Animal Kingdom) as a pushy Polish mother along with Oscar winner Robert Duvall (Tender Mercies) as Colin Farrell’s hectic father Tom Mulligan.

What sets Widows apart is that McQueen frames the film as a gritty more complex version of Oceans 8 with pivotal roles for Viola Davis, Elizabeth Debicki (The Tale) and Michelle Rodriguez as three widowed woman who decided to band together and conspire to do a heist to rob from alderman Mulligan played by Colin Farrell who is in a turf war with his contestant a rising African-American politician Jamal Manning played by Brian Tyree Henry (Hotel Artemis).

Daniel Kaluuya plays the insanely evil and vindictive younger brother Jatemme Manning who feels nothing as he tortures a snitch in a wheelchair or makes victims sing before executing them at point blank range.

Director Steve McQueen frames every shot with a keen eye for detail especially the excellent scenes with Viola Davis as she comes to terms with her husband and thief Harry Rawlings explosive demise, shot in a series of intimate flashbacks scenes made more poignant that action star Liam Neeson plays the street savvy thief Rawlings.

What Widows does offer is a sophisticated treatment of contemporary American race relations, inner city corruption, poverty and crime of which there is plenty in this film.

McQueen lets certain scenes linger too long while allowing others to be cut so short that their explosive nature is electrifying. Where he is excels is at is controlling this massive and diverse ensemble cast.

Veteran star Robert Duvall has a fairly major role as the paternal Trumpesque figure Tom Mulligan who is trying to retain his family’s supremacy in the political environment despite his son Jack’s dubious double dealing whose only achievement is offering dollar signs and empty promises.

Equally refreshing is to see Fast and Furious star Michelle Rodriguez in a more substantial role as she battles to keep her family together after her Latino husband Carlos, a briefly seen cameo by Manuel Garcia-Rulfo perishes in Rawling’s heist that goes terribly wrong.

Widows gets a film rating of 7.5 out of 10 and has a massive twist which should keep audiences riveted in a sprawling crime drama held together by superb acting. Highly recommended viewing.

The Acapulco Suite

Hotel Artemis

Director: Drew Pearce

Cast: Jodie Foster, Charlie Day, Sterling K. Brown, Dave Bautista, Sofia Boutella, Zachary Quinto, Jenny Slate, Brian Tyree Henry, Jeff Goldblum

A film’s originality is always a bonus. In this case director Drew Pearce’s bizarre yet crazy action thriller Hotel Artemis set in Los Angeles in 2028 is a stark reminder of how chaotic a world can become when law and order breaks down and climate change ravages a city.

A Multi-National Corporation has control of downtown L. A.’s water supply and riots have ensued. In the midst of this anarchy, two brothers codenamed Waikiki and played by Sterling K. Brown and Honolulu played by Brian Tyree Henry get injured in a bank robbery as well as steal some precious diamonds from the Wolf King of L. A. a crime overlord played by Jeff Goldblum.

The only refuge the wounded brothers can find is at Hotel Artemis run by the Nurse, an embittered, heavy drinking nurse, superbly played against type by double Oscar winner Jodie Foster (The Silence of the Lambs, The Accused).

Hotel Artemis set in downtown L. A. is a Hospital for gangsters and has amongst its guests a lethal assassin codenamed Nice played by Algerian actress Sofia Boutella and a cocaine sniffing arms dealer codenamed Acapulco played by Charlie Day (Pacific Rim, Horrible Bosses).

Written and directed by Drew Pearce, who cleverly makes full use of his diverse cast and wisely gives sufficient screen time for Jodie Foster who really holds Hotel Artemis together as the Nurse who suffers from agoraphobia and alcoholism whilst coming to terms with the demons in her own past, namely the death of her son from a drug overdose.

Action man Dave Bautista (Guardians of the Galaxy) plays Everest, the Nurse’s able bodied assistant, while Zachary Quinto plays The Wolf King’s son and heavy weight gangster Crosby Franklin, who breaches the criminal hotel.

While Pearce devotes the first half of Hotel Artemis to building up the characters and creating the chaotic atmosphere, he wastes no time in the second half with action, as each prisoner/guest turns on each and The Nurse realizes that her best hope for survival in this ruthless criminal underworld is by escaping it.

Despite its originality, Hotel Artemis gets a film rating of 7 out of 10.

I felt that writer/director Drew Pearce needed to spend sufficient time fleshing out the backstory to make the ending more palatable. Audiences that enjoyed Blade Runner 2049, will enjoy Hotel Artemis, a dystopian action thriller without the replicants and sophisticated imagery.

 

 

 

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