Posts Tagged ‘Lance Reddick’

Symphony of Death

John Wick 3 – Parabellum

Director: Chad Stahelski

Cast: Keanu Reeves, Halle Berry, Ian McShane, Laurence Fishburne, Asia Kate Dillon, Lance Reddick, Anjelica Huston, Said Taghmaoui, Jerome Flynn, Robin Lord Taylor, Jason Mantzoukas

Director Chad Stahelski assembles an all-star cast for the action packed third installment of the John Wick franchise including Oscar winner Halle Berry (Monster’s Ball) as fellow assassin Sofia along with the fabulous Oscar winner Anjelica Huston (Prizzi’s Honour) as the Director. Naturally the superfit Keaun Reeves (Dangerous Liaisons, My Own Private Idaho, The Matrix) reprises his role as the uber cool assassin John Wick who is on the run after committing a sacrificial act by killing a member of the Assassin’s Guild on the grounds of the lavish Continental Hotel in New York City.

In John Wick 3, Parabellum a bounty is placed on Wick’s head and even the shady Russian mafia cannot assist him as the adjudicator comes for his head, featuring a supremely wicked performance by the androgynous actress Asia Kate Dillon who is so brilliant as the mathematical investment banker in the series Billions.

As the rain-soaked atmospheric and hyper-realistic action moves from New York City to Casablanca and then back again, John Wick and his ally Sofia manage to annihilate every assassin which comes for them. There are Ninjas on motorbikes, there is John Wick riding a horse down a Manhattan street. There are vicious dogs which attack a fellow Moroccan based assassin Berrada played by Game of Thrones star Jerome Flynn.

The coolest cast members by far are Ian McShane as the sophisticated unflappable manager of the Continental Winston and Laurence Fishburne who reprises his role as the Bowery King.

Audiences can expect triple the amount of action, unbelievable production design, outlandish stunts and non-stop hyper-realistic entertainment which just continually builds on what the previous two films started. Expect an unbelievably high body count.

John Wick 3 – Parabellum is not for everyone but will certainly satisfy the bloody palate of  insatiable action fans. Keanu Reeves delivers as the muscular non-stop assassin who doesn’t even shed his trademark black suit and tie in the middle of the Sahara as he continually battles the bizarre code of the High Council and the strange Assassin’s Guild where everyone is out for each other’s blood.

The sets are amazing, the action frenetic and audiences will either love or hate the hyper-realism but stylistically director Chad Stahelski out does himself to ensure that the third instalment of John Wick is a symphony of death and destruction which satisfies a broad range of international fans. Audiences should look out for a great cameo by French Moroccan star Said Taghmaoui (Wonder Woman, The Infiltrator) as The Elder.

John Wick 3 – Parabellum gets a film rating of 7.5 out of 10 and is strictly for hard core action fans otherwise anyone else watching might find the film laughable. 

The Man, the Myth, the Mayhem

John Wick Chapter Two

Director: Chad Stahelski

Cast: Keanu Reeves, Riccardo Scamarcio, Ian McShane, Ruby Rose, Common, Claudia Gerini, Laurence Fishburne, John Leguizamo, Lance Reddick

The image of the lone survivor battling against a gritty and unrepentant underworld pervades director Chad Stahelski’s operatic sequel to John Wick, simply titled John Wick Chapter Two set in New York and Rome.

Starring action front man Keanu Reeves as John Wick, the second film obviously has a bigger budget and definitely has revitalized Reeves’s career after his millennial peak in The Matrix Trilogy.

Keanu Reeves has a fascinating filmography first spotted as Glenn Close’s young lover in Stephen Frears’s sumptuous film Dangerous Liaisons and then as a King Henry VI type character in Gus van Sant’s landmark film My Own Private Idaho. Reeves then gained studio attention with the success of the action film Speed opposite Sandra Bullock. Keanu Reeves strengthened his position as bankable star in the Wachowski’s global post-apocalyptic phenomenon The Matrix Trilogy.

John Wick Chapter Two follows John Wick’s attempts to retire after he extricates his 1969 Ford Mustang Boss 429 from a creepy Russian mob boss, a brief appearance by Peter Stormare. The film’s opening sequence features a violent car chase sequence in New York which forcefully grabs audience’s attention immediately and never let’s go.

The plot point of the film comes when John Wick is visited by an Italian mob boss Santino D’Antonio played with psychopathic relish by Italian actor Riccardo Scamarcio (Burnt) who requests Wick, a professional assassin to kill his rival, Santino’s sister Gianna played by Claudia Gerini who has inadvertently inherited the title of becoming the head of an influential Italian crime family much to her brother’s horror. Gianna is protected by another loyal hitman Cassian lethally played by Common as she hosts a decadent party in Rome celebrating her new title.

As John Wick arrives in Rome, the film takes on a hyper-realized style and the consequent shootout in the catacombs below the Italian capital are brilliant in their execution and expedient its violent body count. The action in the Roman sequence is frenzied leaving audiences bloodthirsty like spectators at the Coliseum breathlessly wanting more spectacle.

The third act of the film swiftly moves back to New York where John Wick has to not only battle Santino but also seeks counsel from Winston, an enigmatic performance by Ian McShane, who is head of a covert league of assassins who are all governed by an intricate set of rules which is meant to keep killing down to a sort of stylized etiquette. No one is to be killed inside the Continental, an elegant establishment where assassins can check in and rest in between their lethal assignments. Perhaps even grab a cocktail together at the hotel bar.

With a welcome appearance by Matrix co-star Laurence Fishburne as the Bowery King who has a network of homeless people protecting him and assisting John Wick, the third act gets propelled into a vicious cycle of retribution.

John Wick Chapter Two delivers on all fronts, from complex fight sequences, to exotic and memorable locations including the elaborate final shootout at the Lincoln Centre amidst an exhibition entitled Reflections of the Soul, which director Stahelski is surely paying homage to the Bond film The Man with the Golden Gun.

Certainly the mayhem is overkill, yet the man and myth of John Wick Chapter Two lives up to expectations definitely pointing to another bloodthirsty sequel. This film gets a rating of 7.5 out of 10.

Evading the Threat Matrix

White House Down

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Director: Roland Emmerich

Cast: Channing Tatum, Jamie Foxx, James Woods, Jason Clarke, Jimmi Simpson, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Nicholas Wright, Richard Jenkins, Lance Reddick, Matt Craven

Historians have concluded that the decline of the Roman Empire happened from within due to the increasing barbarization of the army protecting its vast borders. In Roland Emmerich’s impressive White House Down, the same can be said for the paramilitary group which attack America’s presidential palace with impunity in retaliation for the President pulling out all US armed forces from the Middle East.

Although this Decline of the American Empire is nowhere near as subtle or brilliant as the Canadian film version by Denys Arcand, White House Down is a more intricately plotted action thriller than Antoine Fugua’s thematically similar film Olympus Has Fallen. Both films, have similar plot points and follow an almost identical narrative except that in White House Down, the enemy is not a bunch of gun totting Koreans, but a right wing American paramilitary group who have slipped through the threat matrix.

What makes Emmerich’s White House Down a better picture than Olympus has Fallen, is that there is more background characterization making the motives for such an attack on the White House infinitely more credible thanks to the inventive screenwriting of James Vanderbilt. Whilst Gerard Butler and Aaron Eckhart do not have as much bonding time in Olympus Has Fallen, the two stars of White House Down, Channing Tatum (Magic Mike, The Vow) as wannabe secret service agent John Cale  and likeable African American president Sawyer, played with a humorous twist by the ever watchable Jamie Foxx (Django Unchained, Collateral), make for the teaming of two brilliant leading men. The rest of the cast consists of the experienced Maggie Gyllenhaal as Finnerty, James Woods as Walker head of the Secret Service and the brilliant Richard Jenkins as the Speaker Raphelson.

Emmerich also manages to capture the historical significance of the White House as Cale and his news savvy daughter are first taken on a tour of the White House, during which the vicious paramilitary group lead by the ubiquitous Australian actor Jason Clarke (The Great Gatsby, Lawless, Zero Dark Thirty) playing ex-special ops strongman Stengz start planning their Coup d’Etat.  In a precursor of what’s install, there is even a painting showed in one scene of the film, showing the newly built 19th century White House up in flames during the Burning of Washington by the British Army in 1812, the only time a foreign power has ever occupied the American capital – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burning_of_Washington.

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Whilst the characterization and historical back story of the first half of White House Down make for fascinating viewing, the second half of the film transcends all sense or sensibility as all the American presidential icons from Air Force One to the famed White House are blown to smithereens. The action is nevertheless stimulating whilst the film does appear to veer towards a very unsubtle level of American patriotism not seen on the big screen since Olive Stone’s Born on the Fourth of July. White House Down is sure to keep audiences spellbound by the fantastic special effects and brilliantly orchestrated bid budget action sequences which is expected from the director of such blockbusters as Independence Day, 2012 and The Day After Tomorrow.

White House Down like Emmerich’s previous films is not without some wonderful comic touches, making the characters human in times of a crisis, despite some of their intentions, from the White House tour guide Donny played by Nicholas Wright to the diabolical techno guru Tyler, played by Jimmi Simpson (Zodiac) hacking into Presidential compound’s mainframe computer whilst listening to Beethoven’s 5th, or the sneaker clad US President Sawyer arming himself with a rocket launcher as they race around the White House’s pristine lawn in one of the film’s best chase sequences. Just imagine Obama doing that?

Recommended viewing for lovers of big budget action films, and unadulterated American patriotism. See White House Down to believe it!

 

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