Posts Tagged ‘Mark Wahlberg’

Hostages of Fortune

All the Money in the World

Director: Ridley Scott

Cast: Michelle Williams, Mark Wahlberg, Christopher Plummer, Timothy Hutton, Charlie Plummer, Romain Duris, Andrew Buchan

Gladiator and Blade Runner director Ridley Scott returns to the big screen with a true life Italian kidnap drama All the Money in the World starring Oscar winner Christopher Plummer (Beginners) as oil billionaire J. Paul Getty whose 16 year old grandson J. Paul Getty III expertly played with a nuanced vulnerability by Charlie Plummer, is kidnapped in Rome in the summer of 1973, based on actual events.

Paul Getty III known as Paul whose mother Gail Getty superbly played by Oscar nominee Michelle Williams (Manchester by the Sea, My Week with Marilyn) who should have received another Oscar nomination for her role in this film, is caught in a precarious situation when she cannot physically pay the $17 million ransom demanded by the thuggish kidnappers.

Gail Getty desperately pleads with her immensely wealthy father-in-law who categorically refuses to pay the ransom for the reasons that if he had to pay $17 million for every grandchild of his that got kidnapped, it would dent his already vast fortune. Ruthless, selfish and thoroughly frugal, J. Paul Getty made his vast fortune through drilling for oil in Saudi Arabia in the late 1940’s.

Similar to his Oscar nominated performance as Tolstoy in The Last Station, Christopher Plummer adds gravitas and respectability to the role of Oil Tycoon J. Paul Getty who surrounded himself with priceless antiquities and an expensive art collection worth millions on his massive Getty’s estate in England, but did not have the compassion to pay for his grandson’s release which would have secured his safe return from a truly nefarious mafia style gang of kidnappers in Calabria, in Southern Italy.

Gail Getty enlists the help of security broker Fletcher Chace played by Oscar nominee Mark Wahlberg (The Departed) as they both along with the Italian police try to expedite the safe return of Paul Getty. What follows is a tense kidnap drama in the style of Daniel Alfredson’s Kidnapping Mr Heinken.

With cinematic panache, director Ridley Scott makes full use of his Italian locations with extensive shots of Rome and its ancient Ruins along with the frenetic buzz of the Italian capital augmented by the ever present paparazzi as they hound the Getty family in what was to become one of the most sensational kidnap dramas of the 1970’s.

Gail Getty’s ex-husband, J. Paul Getty II played by Andrew Buchan, goes from heading up his father’s European oil empire to becoming a heroin addict in Morocco and is virtually out of the entire negotiation. The negotiation is a fiercely contested battle of the wills between Gail Getty and her ruthless father-in-law. She is desperate to get her beloved son Paul back in one piece.

Supporting actors include French actor Romain Duris as a sympathetic kidnapper Cinquanta as well as Oscar winner Timothy Hutton (Ordinary People) as the Getty’s financier Oswald Hinge.

Christopher Plummer and Charlie Plummer (no relation) are both brilliant as grandfather and grandson. Michelle Williams is fantastic as a desperate mother caught in this prolific dynasty but who conveys increasing helplessness in not being able to rescue her resourceful teenage son.

All the Money in the World is a captivating, stylish and gritty kidnap drama expertly directed by Ridley Scott and receives a film rating of 8 out of 10.  

 

 

Anatomy of a Bombing

Patriots Day

Director: Peter Berg

Cast: Mark Wahlberg, John Goodman, Kevin Bacon, Michelle Monaghan, J. K. Simmons, Themo Melikidze, Alex Wolff, Jake Picking, Jimmy O. Yang

Lone Survivor director Peter Berg likes to stick to actual events when directing films. He is an astute presenter of the horrific tragic events which have occurred recently, deeply embedded in the American psyche.

Whether it’s the explosion of a Gulf of Mexico oil rig as documented in Deepwater Horizon or the chaotic 2013 bombing of the Boston marathon, his films are rather factual, bordering on the docudrama and definitely riveting.

His latest film Patriots Day once again features Oscar nominee Mark Wahlberg (The Departed) as the everyday hero, a hero that the average American cinema goer can relate to, and a working class hero who manages to survive under extraordinary circumstances.

Wahlberg knows the drill and in Patriots Day he plays Boston police sergeant Tommy Saunders who is given crowd control duty at the finish line of the epic Boston Marathon. The year is 2013.  An American city is once again under attack by radicalized terrorists.

This time those terrorists are of the non-descript home grown variety, the sociopathic Tsarnaev brothers played with desperation and cool nonchalance by Georgian actor Themo Melikidze and Alex Wolff (My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2).

As the events of April 15th 2013 unfold, from the horrific bombing at the finish line of the infamous Boston Marathon using pressure cooker bombs filled with nails and all sorts of nasty devices aimed at causing maximum damage and pain, director Berg keeps the pace tense and thoroughly absorbing as the FBI Special Agent Richard DesLauriers superbly played by a terse and efficient Kevin Bacon (Black Mass, Frost/Nixon) takes control of the city-wide investigation.

Oscar winner J. K. Simmons (Whiplash) plays Watertown police sergeant Jeffrey Pugliese who would ultimately be the person along with the PD that would apprehend the perpetrators as they make a desperate attempt to flee the greater Boston Metropolitan area. Audiences should look out for a brilliant scene involving the Tsarnaev brothers’ carjacking a Chinese exchange student wonderfully played by Jimmy O. Yang.

Patriots Day is an edge of the seat action thriller, meticulously recreating the week of the Boston marathon bombing from the time of the incident to the dramatic capture in the neighbouring suburb of Watertown featuring some superb sound effects and a suitably tense original score by Oscar winning film composer duo Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross who did the haunting music for The Social Network and Gone Girl.

Highly recommended viewing for those that enjoyed Deepwater Horizon and 13 Hours: the Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, Patriots Day will surely hold audience’s attention while they inadvertently lap up all the Patriotic images of America as Peter Berg drives home his point about the continued threat of urban terrorism as the film ends with the real life survivors accounts of their horrific experience of the Boston marathon bombing of April 2013.

In Patriots Day, director Peter Berg presents the facts in all their visceral details and lets the audience judge for themselves.

The Well from Hell

Deepwater Horizon

deepwater_horizon_ver9

Director: Peter Berg

Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Kate Hudson, John Malkovich, Kurt Russell, Gina Rodriguez, Dylan O’Brein, Ethan Suplee, J. D. Evermore, Jason Kirkpatrick

deepwater_horizon_ver6

Good films often work because of professional partnerships between an actor and director. This is the case in the second collaboration between Lone Survivor director Peter Berg and Mark Wahlberg.

Deepwater Horizon graphically depicts the horrific events which went horribly wrong on the night of 20th April 2010, when the Transocean oil rig run by BP, Deepwater Horizon exploded and eventually caused one of the worst ecological disasters in American history as the coastline states on the Gulf of Mexico were damaged by millions of litres of Brent crude oil which washed up on the beaches from Florida to Louisiana.

As in Lone Survivor, Peter Berg likes to tackle real and recent historical events. His version of Deepwater Horizon is both visually impressive, with stunning sound and visual effects as well as absorbing to watch, without going too deeply into the ecological side of the disaster.

As a director Berg chooses to rather focus on what went wrong at Deepwater Horizon. This is graphically explained in an earlier scene with Wahlberg and his wife Felicia played by Kate Hudson (The Reluctant Fundamentalist), when his young daughter explains to Wahlberg’s real life character Mike Williams as part of a show and tell, what her father does on an oil rig. She illustrates this by using a coke can, punctuating it with a straw then filling the straw with honey. Eventually the pressure builds and the coke explodes all over the dining room table.

Without delving too deeply into the technical aspects of went wrong, basically Deepwater Horizon was a faulty rig, or as one mechanic states this is “The Well from Hell”.

Under pressure from corporate bosses, and after several negative pressure tests, they attempt to start drilling for oil and soon everything goes horribly wrong and the flammable oil starts shooting up through the rig and with a combination of leaking gas causes a massive explosion and widespread devastation.

deepwater_horizon_ver3

The best part of the film, is the actual explosion on Deepwater Horizon and how Williams and his colleague Andrea Fleytas played by Gina Rodriguez eventually escape off the oil rig, which soon resembles a floating towering inferno. The scene between Wahlberg and Rodriguez as the two have to psyche each other up to escape this disastrous oil rig which is rapidly being engulfed in flames is absolutely riveting.

deepwater_horizon_ver4

Audiences should look out for an impressive performance by Oscar nominee John Malkovich (Dangerous Liaisons, In the Line of Fire) as a pushy corporate boss Vidrine complete with a southern drawl.

deepwater_horizon_ver5

Kurt Russell has an opportunity to act with his stepdaughter Kate Hudson in Deepwater Horizon, both actors playing supporting roles.

Deepwater Horizon is a visually impressive account of the worst oil disaster in American History which led to one of the most devastating ecological disasters planet Earth has ever had to endure. The explosion of Deepwater Horizon, eventually led BP to pay millions of dollars in damages.

deepwater_horizon_ver7

While Peter Berg chooses to focus on the actual event instead of its aftermath, Deepwater Horizon is a gripping film to watch especially considering that this disaster only occurred six years ago in 2010. In the factual film drama genre, Deepwater Horizon is highly recommended viewing, similar to Thirteen Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi.

 

Celebrity Style Bromance

Entourage

entourage_ver2

Director: Doug Ellin

Cast: Jeremy Piven, Kevin Dillon, Kevin Connolly, Jerry Ferrera, Adrian Grenier, Mark Wahlberg, Billy Bob Thornton, Debi Mazar, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Armie Hammer, Ronda Rousey, Haley Joel Osment

It’s not always easy to translate a 30 minute HBO series into a full length feature film but the producers of the hit HBO series Entourage do that with a certain degree of success. For those oblivious to the carousing of the gang in the original series, Entourage focused on four friends in Hollywood, Eric, Vince, Johnny Drama and Turtle as they navigate their way through scoring girls, attending wild parties and the intricacies of the entertainment industry. Naturally it’s Hollywood on steroids.

entourage

Produced by Mark Wahlberg and Doug Ellin, the latter of whom directs the film version, Entourage the film is like a watered down version of Robert Altman’s scathing diatribe on Hollywood, The Player and also uses a similar self-reflexive technique of blending actors playing onscreen characters with real film stars which include Liam Neeson, Armie Hammer and Mark Wahlberg.

entourage_ver3

Most of the action of this celebrity style Bromance takes place in Los Angeles with a brief opening sequence on a yacht in Ibiza, which looks like an offcut from Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street.

As the brat pack make their way to stardom through a series of parties, optimal seductions and behind the scenes Hollywood dealings, Entourage has some extremely funny moments, mostly littered with foul language, less glamour and lots of stuff guys obsess about: sex, money and girls.

entourage_ver7Jeremy Piven as the angry and hilarious film producer Ari Gold, lifts Entourage out of a banal narrative which does not really go anywhere and his brilliant performance is counterpointed by that of Oscar winner Billy Bob Thornton (Sling Blade) as a Texan film investor, Larsen McCreadle along with his buffoon of a son, Travis wonderfully played by Sixth Sense star Haley Joel Osment.

entourage_ver4Entourage is in fact saved by Piven whose unbelievably energetic performance as Gold makes the film worth watching while the rest of the cast drift through the film in a sort of narcissistic American machismo unique to Hollywood, where the only thing that matters besides their egos is their sex lives.

entourage_ver5Audiences should watch out for some fabulous cameo appearances including singer Pharrell Williams, Armie Hammer, Liam Neeson, Jessica Alba, Piers Morgan and Billionaire Warren Buffett playing themselves. Kevin Dillon, younger brother of Matt Dillon and Jerry Ferrara provide the laughs as Johnny Drama and Turtle while Piven’s character of Ari Gold makes the film thoroughly enjoyable.

entourage_ver6Entourage is a B grade film about Hollywood with appearances by some A grade actors as themselves, with a cast that does not have to do much but just be the annoying yet lovable guys they were in the original series, cruising around Sunset Boulevard living the dream. Recommended for viewers who followed the HBO series and natural fans of the immensely talented Jeremy Piven.

However, this film version of Entourage is a far cry from the more subtle Hollywood parody expertly done by Robert Altman in The Player back in 1992, but worth watch purely for the entertainment value.

 

Glossy Carnage

Transformers: Age of Extinction

transformers_age_of_extinction_ver10

Director: Michael Bay

Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Stanley Tucci, Nicola Peltz, Jack Reynor, Sophia Myles, Titus Welliver, Kelsey Grammer

Director Michael Bay extends his cinematic repertoire with the fourth instalment of the Transformers franchise – Transformers, Age of Extinction and this time goes a different route by centering the action on a more mature hero inventor Cade Yeager, played by Mark Wahlberg (2 Guns, The Fighter) who along with his daughter Tessa played by Nicola Peltz and her speed racer boyfriend played by Jack Reynor must battle out the brash and glossy war between the Deciptcons and Optimus Prime along with a band of Nefarious government agents represented by Kelsey Grammer and Titus Welliver.

transformers_age_of_extinction_ver2

Interestingly enough with the exception of megastar Wahlberg, the rest of the cast are little known character actors, which works well for the general feel of Age of Extinction as the cast is secondary to the dazzling and superb special effects which make this sci-fi Hasbro fantasy watchable and in parts even enjoyable.

transformers_age_of_extinction_ver16

Director Bay makes use of the fabulous and extensive locations in the film as the plot unfolds from the Arctic to Texas, from Chicago to Hong Kong. The Transformer action gets a bit much and whilst the narrative is deeply rooted in suspended disbelief, Age of Extinction is gorgeously shot with cinematic aerial shots of Chicago and Hong Kong, along with the plains of Texas and even Beijing, clearly showing a significant Chinese influence in mainstream Hollywood.

transformers_age_of_extinction_ver7

The classic father and daughter narrative featuring Wahlberg and Peltz makes a fresh change from the Sam Wikity trilogy with various gorgeous supermodels such as Rosie Huntingdon-Whitely and Megan Fox as his impossibly beautiful but vacuous girlfriends. Besides Shia LaBeouf wants to be taken seriously as an actor now and has thus starred in Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac.

transformers_age_of_extinction_ver4

Transformers, Age of Extinction is a pastiche of all former iconic Hollywood blockbuster movies from Jurassic Park, yes there is even a dinosaur sequence, to Aliens, to the more successful 007 films such as Tomorrow Never Dies and Skyfall, which is the film’s greatest asset but also detracts from a tighter more controlled narrative. With the duration at over two and a half hours at least 30 minutes of Transformers, Age of Extinction could have been swiftly edited although the Chicago and Hong Kong action sequences are impressive, outlandish and awe-inspiring.

transformers_age_of_extinction_ver3

Clearly director Michael Bay revels in the Hasbro universe and was given a massive budget to play with, for he is in his element recreating the fourth instalment of Transformers in a much slicker and glossier version with less focus on the human element but more on lavish spectacle of these digital machines which transform from cars and helicopters to giant menacing robots battling each other in equally spectacular urban locations like Chicago and Hong Kong.

*
Look out for great performances by Stanley Tucci (The Devil Wears Prada) and with Sophia Myles (Tristan and Isolde) as the more sophisticated characters who work for a shady industrial organization based in Chicago which is out to hone the power of the Transformers and create untamed malleable matter. Transformers, Age of Extinction has superb location settings, gripping action sequences but if cinema goers hate sci-fi fantasy its best to avoid this clunky two and a half hour orgy of glossy carnage.

*
Watch out for loads of neatly shot product placement in the film from Budweiser Light to Armani Exchange, Victoria Secret and Goodyear definitely proving that Transformers is aimed at the younger adult male target audience.

Quick Reaction Force

Lone Survivor

lone_survivor

Director: Peter Berg

Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Emile Hirsch, Taylor Kitsch, Ben Foster, Eric Bana, Alexander Ludwig, Jerry Ferrara

Battleship and Hancock director Peter Berg tackles more informative and ferocious subject matter in the excellent adaptation of the non-fiction war story Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell and Patrick Robinson, which details the failed mission of the US Navy Seals counter-insurgency attack in the Hindu Kush, Afghanistan against the Taliban. With superb sound editing and sound mixing, Lone Survivor follows in the spirit of Ridley Scott’s Black Hawk Down and features a tightly knit muscular group of actors playing soldiers led by Mark Wahlberg (Two Guns), Taylor Kitsch (Savages, Battleship), Emile Hirsch (Into the Wild, Milk) Ben Foster (3:10 to Yuma, The Mechanic), Eric Bana and newcomer Canadian actor Alexander Ludwig last seen in The Hunger Games.

The bravado and savagery of war is brilliantly recreated in this tightly directed account of a four man Navy Seals reconnaissance team led by Marcus Luttrell played by Wahlberg and his fraternal band of bearded soldiers which includes Michael Murphy played by Kitsch, Danny Dietz played by Emile Hirsch and Matthew Axelson played by Ben Foster. The harrowing gun battle which follows when the team are ambushed by a Taliban army who clearly know the terrain better than themselves is vividly recreated and the ordeal that Luttrell goes through makes for an outstanding war and survival movie.

black_hawk_down_ver1

Lone Survivor, like Platoon, Saving Private Ryan and Black Hawk Down, does not stint on the violence and fear involved in mortal combat between two enemy forces and emphasizes the bravery and courage that these men faced in battling another American war on foreign territory against a hostile anti-American enemy.

Incidentally Lone Survivor was filmed in New Mexico at the Santa Fe National Forest standing in for the rugged and alien terrain of the Hindu Kush http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hindu_Kush, the rugged mountain range which connects central Afghanistan and  northern Pakistan.

What makes Lone Survivor so watchable and riveting is the excellent sound quality of the mountainside battle which makes up the bulk of the film. This film received two Oscar nominations in 2014 for Best Sound Editing and Sound Mixing and rightly so. With a top notch cast especially Foster and Hirsch playing against type, Lone Survivor is highly recommended viewing for fans of great war films. Supremely entertaining, action-packed and technically unrivaled, Lone Survivor is definitely one of Peter Berg’s best films so far.

 

 

Blowing up Corpus Christi

2 Guns

 two_guns_ver2

Director: Baltasar Kormakur

Cast: Denzel Washington, Mark Wahlberg, Edward James Olmos, James Marsden, Fred Ward, Paula Patton, Bill Paxton

Denzel Washington (Flight, Safe House) and Mark Wahlberg (The Fighter, Contraband) star in the Boom studios graphic novels film version 2 Guns, which is a basically a Tex Mex version of 48 Hours with all the classic formulaic traits of a buddy action film, reminiscent of the 1980’s complete with snappy dialogue and explosive action. Oscar winner Denzel Washington plays tough DEA agent Bobby Trench who unwillingly teams up with sexy and smart Michael Stigman played by former Calvin Klein underwear model Mark Wahlberg as they blow up diners with the best donuts in town in a Texas border town as a means of distraction against robbing a nearby bank packed with loads of Mexican drug cartel dollars.

Muchos dineros in Spanish means lots of dollars and Washington and Wahlberg both get more than they bargained for when they discover the amount of loot, which not only belongs to the shady Mexicans across the border but is wanted by Naval Intelligence and a vicious CIA operative which have been keeping the Mexican drug cartels in business.

Three groups of gangs are on their tail from the CIA in the form of Earl superbly played by Bill Paxton (Titanic, Haywire), a rogue Naval intelligence unit headed by Quince, played by James Marsden (a welcome change from his pretty boy image as seen in Hairspray) and a Sonora Mexican drug cartel headed up by the bull loving Papi Greco wonderfully played by Edward James Olmos (recently seen in the TV series Dexter as the Doomsday Killer).

Add in to this crazy mix is Paula Patton (Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol) as the voluptuous Deb another DEA agent serving as some eye candy for the clearly male targeted audience and the usual chaos which ensues when Trench and Stigman decide to trust each other enough to team up together, making the convoluted plot twists more plausible by a fantastic onscreen chemistry between the two Hollywood heavy weights.

Denzel Washington as the tough and elusive Bobby Trench, while Oscar Nominee Mark Wahlberg as the eye-winking younger and sharp-mouthed wise guy clearly makes 2 Guns not just worth watching, but highly enjoyable and humorous, filled with car chases, bull-running and an explosive sequence at a naval base in Corpus Christi, Texas. Watch out for a great cameo by Fred Ward as a Naval Commander Admiral Tuwey.

2 Guns, by Icelandic director Baltasar Kormakur who also directed Wahlberg in Contraband unapologetically takes much inspiration from such 1980’s classic action films as Lethal Weapon, 48 Hours and Beverley Hills Cop, and while there is less comedy and more action, it is a thoroughly entertaining way to spend a Saturday afternoon. Lots of violence, swearing and bull running, this machismo action thriller, complete with a Mexican standoff is a wonderful pairing of these two talented Hollywood megastars.

The likeable talented duo of Washington and Wahlberg effortlessly produce that onscreen chemistry which is casual, cool and funny. 2 Guns is recommended for those that enjoy US-Mexican cross border drug running bank robber films without the insane gore and menace of Savages or No Country for Old Men.

Film Directors & Festivals
Reviews and Awards
Review Calender
September 2018
M T W T F S S
« Aug    
 12
3456789
10111213141516
17181920212223
24252627282930
  • ‘Midnight Runner’ Takes Off at San Sebastian New Directors Premiere
    SAN SEBASTIAN — Swiss filmmaker Hannes Baumgartner’s debut feature “Midnight Runner” headed into its San Sebastian’s New Directors world premiere on Saturday afternoon buzzing off a series of international press screenings held the week prior. The film’s protagonist, Jonas Widmer, seems to have it all together. He’s his country’s most impressive young distance runner and […]
    John Hopewell
  • San Sebastian/Toronto: Simon Jacquemet on ‘The Innocent,’ Frail Faith, Uncertainty
    World premiering in New Directors at San Sebastian in 2014, Simon Jacquemet’s first feature, “Chrieg” (War), a nuanced portrait of disaffected Swiss youth, established Jacquemet as one of the most prominent voices in a new generation of Swiss directors, questioning Switzerland’s status quo and aura of democratic civility. Four years later, Jacquemet is back. But, […]
    John Hopewell
  • India Rolls With ‘Village Rockstars’ as Oscar Contender
    The Film Federation of India has chosen Rima Das’ “Village Rockstars” as the country’s entry to the Oscars foreign-language category. The film follows a 10-year-old growing up in straitened circumstances in a flood-prone village in the state of Assam, with ambitions of starting her own rock band. “Rockstars’ premiered at the 2017 Toronto International Film […]
    Patrick Frater
  • Sam Smith Pulls Out of iHeartRadio Performance Due to Vocal Emergency
    Minutes before Sam Smith was due to take the stage at Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena for his set at the iHeartRadio Music Festival, an announcement was heard from the stage. “Due to unforeseen circumstances which transpired after his rehearsal, it became clear that Sam Smith would unfortunately not be able to perform tonight,” said Ryan […]
    Shirley Halperin
  • TV Review: ‘Into the Dark: The Body’ on Hulu
    The phenomenon of treating anthology series as collections of films is a fairly recent invention — episodes of “Sherlock” and “Black Mirror” have won the past three best TV movie Emmys, beating out genuine-article made-for-TV movies. It’s easy to be dubious about the treatment of these shows, whose episodes share a united sensibility as well […]
    danvariety
  • Article
    Over the past few years, several low-cost carriers have stepped up to offer competition and cheapest prices to customers looking to cut down their monthly bills. Tags: 2gmhass90