Posts Tagged ‘Bruce Willis’

Californian Crazies

Once upon a Time in Venice

Director: Mark Cullen

Cast: Bruce Willis, John Goodman, Jason Momoa, Emily Robinson, Jessica Gomes, Famke Janssen, Thomas Middleditch, Adam Goldberg, Kal Penn

Bruce Willis relives his Pulp Fiction days when he skateboards naked down a street in Venice Beach, California playing washed up cop Steve Ford in the awfully bad and quite frenetic action movie Once Upon a Time in Venice directed by Mark Cullen.

When the tag line for a film is Never Mess with a Man’s Dog one should know that the film is not going to deliver an original narrative although at times Once upon a Time in Venice feels like a collection of Californian Crazies as the audience is introduced to Hispanic gangbangers headed by Hawaiian star Jason Momoa as Spyder who is soon to play Aquaman in the Justice League along with lewd graffiti artists, drag queens and monstrous real estate agents. The cast of characters is reminiscent of director Sean Baker’s 2015 art film Tangerine shot on an iPhone in Los Angeles except this comic adventure has Bruce Willis as its main hero.

The point to note is not to take Once Upon a Time in Venice too seriously as the entire film looks like it was made on a balmy Saturday afternoon in California by a production crew that was high.

The sad part is that both John Goodman and Bruce Willis are in the twilight of their film careers and are obviously getting desperate to act in such low brow fare. Not that Bruce Willis ever elevated the art of cinema beyond the Die Hard franchise but character actor John Goodman who was so brilliantly in the Coen brothers Barton Fink should have known better.

Goodman plays Steve Ford’s faithful buddy Dave, a divorcee who is battling to get rid of a dodgy surf shop while recovering from a terrible divorce.

Dutch actress, former bond girl and X-Men star Famke Janssen appears all too briefly as Ford’s sister Katey and Emily Robinson stars as his niece Taylor.

It is when their house on Venice Beach gets robbed by the merciless drug lord Spider, wonderfully played by Jason Momoa who steals all valuables including their dog, that the story sets off in a madcap sort of coastal way, which ultimately requires a wittier script and tantalizing action to keep audiences vaguely interested in the outcome of this truly bizarre film.

Once Upon a Time in Venice is 90 minutes of mediocre entertainment with Bruce Willis pulling the tough guy routine in a beachfront neighbourhood which is as bizarre as it is crazy. Venice Beach, that stretch of Californian beachfront which is being gentrified by tech companies and slimy landlords embodied by Adam Goldberg’s character Lew the Jew.

The only redeeming feature of this film is Ford’s younger partner John played by Thomas Middleditch whose sarcastic voice narrates the misadventure story which sort of loosely holds the narrative together as much as a tacky drag queen trying to keep a bra on. Yes there are drag queens too!

Once Upon a Time in Venice gets a film rating of 6 out of 10. The film is strictly for ardent fans of Bruce Willis who occasionally has to prove to audiences that he can pull off action and comedy simultaneously.

 

 

The Thieves of Cincinnati

Marauders

marauders

Director: Steven C. Miller

Cast: Christopher Meloni, Bruce Willis, Dave Bautista, Adrian Grenier, Lydia Hull, Tyler Jon Olson, Christopher Rob Bowen, Ryan O’Nan, Jonathon Schaech, David Gordon

Producers Randall Emmett and George Furla are known for making a whole stack of action films normally set in random US cities most notably 16 Blocks and Broken City. Their latest venture is Marauders directed by Steven C. Miller focusing on a series of well-orchestrated and brutal bank robberies plaguing Cincinnati, Ohio.

Marauders cast includes Christopher Meloni as a FBI agent Montgomery, Dave Bautista (Spectre, Guardians of the Galaxy) as Stockwell and hot shot investigator Wells played by Adrian Grenier (Entourage). There are also appearances by Ryan O’Nan (Eat, Pray, Love) and uncredited role by Jonathon Schaech (Legend of Hercules) as Mimms, a Cincinnati cop who by his interference in the case becomes implicated in it.

A grizzled looking Bruce Willis (Pulp Fiction, Die Hard) plays the CEO of a large Midwestern bank Hubert, whose main monologue at the beginning of the film focuses on a spider climbing a rain drenched skyscraper to get to the top.

marauders_ver2

Marauders is not a great film, purely because the plot is so convoluted and confusing that at times one doesn’t know who the real enemies are. The murky nature of the intrigue is perhaps the most thrilling part of the film, although what is fascinating about Marauders is its study of declining masculinity.

All four major characters are suffering, particularly Montgomery for brooding over the brutal death of his wife leaving him alone to contemplate glasses of unfinished red wine in the city’s bars or Mimms, who is dealing with his dying wife suffering from pancreatic cancer. All the men are devoid of a feminine influence in their lives to tame their violent tendencies which is instinctive and primal.

Ultimately, that’s where Marauders viewership lies: adult males who love watching violence on screen.

The plot centres on a corrupt Bank CEO, a shady Ohio senator played by David Gordon, and a botched kidnapping in Costa Rica which went south when Hubert’s much younger brother is supposedly killed by a group of rogue State rangers, just before he is supposed to inherit a substantial share of Hubert National Bank.

Despite the murkiness of the plot, the action is good and the acting is saved by a cocky performance by Christopher Meloni who outshines Bruce Willis. Meloni who was so good in White Bird in a Blizzard actually holds the film together while Adrian Grenier does not have much to work with, only really embracing his character towards the end as the film’s denouement is revealed.

Marauders like many of Emmett/Furla films are not superb, but watchable and cater for a specific sub-genre of action films, which appeal to the thirty to forty plus age group of male cinema-goers.

The female characters in Marauders are virtually non-existent, making this a real macho action film about thieves in Cincinnati whose real intention is to seek revenge on the man who set them up five years ago in Central America.

Recommended viewing for those that enjoyed End of Watch, Lone Survivor and 2 Guns.

Project Nightshade

RED 2

red_two_ver11

Retired and Extremely Dangerous

Director: Dean Parisot

Cast: Bruce Willis, Anthony Hopkins, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Helen Mirren, John Malkovich, Mary-Louise Parker, Neal McDonough, Steven Berkoff, David Thewlis, Byung-Hun Lee, Tim Pigott-Smith, Brian Cox

Despite the inherent violence in the film’s narrative, Red 2 is an enjoyable yet not particularly lucid sequel to the 2010 hit Red, which stands for Retired and Extremely Dangerous. Both films are inspired by DC Comics so that should give the audience an indication of what to expect: lots of action, globetrotting assassins and a convoluted story line with a dash of witty one liners.

Considering the calibre of the cast of Red 2, including Oscar Winners Catherine Zeta-Jones (Chicago), Anthony Hopkins (The Silence of the Lambs) and Helen Mirren (The Queen) along with the main stars, Bruce Willis, the fabulous Oscar nominee John Malkovich (Dangerous Liaisons) and Mary-Louise Parker (Red Dragon), this sequel’s script could have been sharper. Although thankfully the female stars do elevate the narrative beyond another sort of The Expendables type film, featuring all male action stars over 45 slugging it out with an armoury that could annihilate a small eastern European country. Director Dean Parisot goes for violence over sophisticated repartee, which is a great pity considering the cast he had at his disposal.

Red 2 is hugely entertaining but could have had a less complicated narrative and the action could have been diluted more effectively. There is the perennial car chase scene in Paris (straight out of A View to a Kill), the Kremlin scene in Moscow, straight out of countless spy movies and the more recent A Good Day to Die Hard and an aerial chase sequence across London’s slate grey skyline which is definitely inspired by the Bond franchise.

If audiences have not seen Red, then its best to see that first before seeing Red 2, but the premise is simply about an international group of retired spies and assassins (ex CIA, Mi6, Russian intelligence) who inadvertently stumble on a a plan to activate a so-called forgotten nuclear device in Moscow codenamed Project Nightshade after it was left there during the Cold War by a rogue American spy unit. The globe hopping from suburban America to London, Paris and Moscow is great but comically inspired and nothing as brilliant as the elegant cityscape changes seen in Skyfall.

Red 2 also features Byung-Hun Lee as a knife-wielding assassin last seen in GI Joe, Retaliation along with Neal McDonough as the vicious agent Jack Horton, but it is really Mary-Louise Parker’s performance which lifts Red 2 out of Comic book banality  as the sharp and sassy Sarah, girlfriend to Frank Moses played by Bruce Willis who is always hankering for more adventure and glamour, spicing up their crumbling romance.

Look out for a hilarious scene at the end of the film set in Caracas. Anymore details, then that would give the game away. Also featuring a briefly seen Steven Berkoff and David Thewlis as the Frog, a Wikileaks inspired classified intelligence hacker. Red 2 is fun viewing, heavy on action, light on content and plausibility!

2012 Toronto Film Festival

2012 Toronto International Film Festival Winners

TIFF2012

Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) takes place every year in September in Toronto, Canada.

Films which premiere at Toronto are often nominated for Academy Awards the following year.

TIFF does not hand out individual prizes for Best Actor or Actress but focuses on amongst others the following awards:
People’s Choice Award & Best Canadian Feature Film

 looper_ver2

Opening Night Film: – Looper directed by Rian Johnson, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Emily Blunt & Bruce Willis

Silver Linings Playbook

People’s Choice Award:Silver Linings Playbook directed by David O. Russell, starring Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert de Niro, Jacki Weaver & Chris Tucker

Laurence Anyways

Best Canadian Feature Film: Laurence Anyways directed by Xavier Dolan, starring ,

Source:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2012_Toronto_International_Film_Festival

 

Weapons of Mass Destruction

GI Joe: Retaliation

All Braun and no Brains

All Braun and no Brains

Following on the success of 2009 GI Joe: Rise of the Cobra, featuring Channing Tatum and Sienna Miller, comes the delayed release of GI Joe: Retaliation directed by Jon M. Chu teams Dwayne Johnson with Bruce Willis along with some newcomers including D. J. Cotrona as Flint and Adrianne Palicki as Lady Jaye and is supported by Ray Stevenson (fresh from playing a Ukranian gangster on the series Dexter) as a fiendishly deranged Southerner, Firefly the muscle for the Cobra group and a little seen Channing Tatum as Duke, one of the original GI’s and Ray Park as Snake Eyes.

With a convoluted plot involving an imposter American president played with evil cynicism by Jonathan Pryce, reprising his megalomaniac villain Elliot Carver from the 1997 James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies, this film is nothing more than a homage to all the weapons of mass destruction, and to a male-orientated obsession with weaponry, arms and naturally testosterone fueled combat. All types of weapons are on display in this film from samurai swords to high-calibre machine guns and whilst GI Joe: Retaliation is a great action packed film to watch, one hopes that it does not inspire some unwanted teenager to randomly gun down a group of strangers in a Mid-Western American mall. Sadly in the wake of the Sandy Hook School shooting in Connecticut and the massacre at the Aurora Theater in Colorado both in 2012, Gi Joe: Retaliation‘s overemphasis on weaponry surely points to a society which is unwilling to relinquish its right to bear arms despite the many casualties.

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Gi Joe: Retaliation action spans the globe from Pakistan to North Korea, from Washington DC to South Carolina, and whilst the plot resembles a twisted version of Diamonds are Forever without the glamour and whilst there are some great moments provided by Willis and Stevenson, most of the film is filled with explosions, knife fights, infinitely explosive gun battles, exhilarating boat and car chases and perfectly provides a cinematic reason to showcase all the weapons of retaliation stockpiled by any of the G8 nations, a fill arsenal of destruction, capable of flattening any major capital city in the globe, from London to Tokyo.

Fun to watch, without much thought behind it, GI Joe Retaliation will definitely find a following in its target audience and is not as good or slick as the original film, the slightly more sophisticated GI Joe, Rise of the Cobra. GI Joe: Retaliation has some fantastic sequences in it especially the ninjas on a Japanese mountain and the odd quirky dialogue naturally involving Bruce Willis, but the script is a bit too outlandish to be taken seriously and should really be viewed in the context of a some fun Saturday afternoon entertainment. Definitely recommended mainly for bored teenage boys and young men who like the action thick and fast without much thought.

 

Mother Russia Explodes

A Good Day to Die Hard

Yipee Ki-Yay not another one!

Yipee Ki-Yay not another one!

Bruce Willis’s fifth attempt to resuscitate the Die Hard franchise 25 years after the original Die Hard, is very thin on plot and big on action. A Good Day to Die Hard features an explosive and riveting car chase sequence through the streets of Moscow and is perhaps the film’s only redeeming feature. The rest of the film through a very light story line attempts to reconnect Willis’s bad-ass New York cop character John MacClane with his slightly inexperienced son Jack MacClane  played by Jai Courtney last seen in the Tom Cruise thriller Jack Reacher.

A Good Day to Die Hard is pure action and lacks some of the witty one liners or plot twists of the previous Die Hard films, most notably Die Hard and Die Hard 3 failing to make the most of its best asset that of the location of Moscow in Russia, the first film to be set outside the United States.  A Good Day to Die Hard also does not feature a convincing villain and if the success of Skyfall is to go by, an evil villain really makes a truly successful hero.

Unlike Alan Rickman (Die Hard) or Jeremy Irons (Die Hard: With a Vengeance)  playing notable villains in the previous Die Hard films, this Russian mastermind Komarov played by German actor Sebastian Koch bent on robbing Chernobyl of a stockpile of uranium is entirely implausible. The only character to cast in depth of feeling is MacClane’s daughter Lucy played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead, but her part is minimal as the main focus shifts to explosive father, son male bonding enough to make Mother Russia cry as buildings, cars and half of Moscow are randomly destroyed.

Bruce Willis looks a bit old to be flying off exploding buildings and carry enough artillery to wipe out a small Caribbean nation, but then that said that is half the appeal for him appearing in such films as Red, The Expendibles 2 and the upcoming G I Joe sequel, GI Joe: Retaliation. Jai Courtney is marginally good as a CIA operative who is caught way out of his depth in a Moscow prison hostage negotiation which go completely awry.

The narrative gaps are just too great to make any real sense of what the purpose of making A Good Day to Die Hard other than milking an already average Die Hard Franchise way past its expiry date. This is baseless action, which is albeit entertaining but not deeply meaningful and should be treated as a great popcorn sequel, an inevitable money spinner that Hollywood is good at churning out despite the diminishing appeal by Willis as the main character John MacClane.

A Good Day to Die Hard is an idiots guide to making a sequel, with an obvious visual clue of MacClane leaving an American airport with a travel handbook, the Idiots Guide to Russia boarding an Aeroflot flight for Moscow. This film is only for real action fans and will definitely appeal to the male teenage target audience.

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