Posts Tagged ‘Tim Blake Nelson’

The Salient Usurper

Angel Has Fallen

Director: Ric Roman Waugh

Cast: Gerard Butler, Danny Huston, Nick Nolte, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Morgan Freeman, Frederick Schmidt, Piper Perabo, Tim Blake Nelson, Martin Behrman, Lance Reddick

Shot Caller director Ric Roman Waugh directs the follow up to 2013’s Olympus has Fallen and 2016’s London has Fallen with muscular Scottish actor Gerard Butler (Den of Thieves, 300) reprising his role of Secret Service Agent Mike Banning in Angel has Fallen also starring Oscar winner Morgan Freeman (Million Dollar Baby) as President Trumbull and Danny Huston as the ruthless Independent Defence Contractor Wade Jennings.

When Banning is framed for the attempted assassination of President Trumbull in a dramatic drone attack, chaos reigns as Banning fights to clear his name and discover the real perpetrators behind the merciless attack which annihilated all of President Trumbull’s other secret service agents.

In a similar gritty style to Olympus has Fallen and London has Fallen, Angel has Fallen is extremely violent action packed and absolutely thrilling to watch made more enjoyable by the appearance of veteran actor and Oscar nominee Nick Nolte (Warrior, Affliction, Prince of Tides) as reclusive Ex-Vietnam veteran and father to Mike Banning, Clay Banning, who proves just as able as his macho son to ward off any unseen attackers in his West Virginian hideout.

As the action moves from rural West Virginia to the corridors of power in Washington D. C. and to an explosive hospital scene in Maryland, Angel has Fallen is a suitably thrilling conclusion to this violent but enjoyable trilogy. For viewers that saw Olympus has Fallen and London has Fallen, Angel has Fallen follows the same generic pattern of a high body count, tense action sequences and betrayals that shock the audience as Banning realizes that there are few allies in the secret service and that his trusted friend Jennings is his most worthy adversary.

Female stars to lighten the macho cast include Piper Perabo (Looper) as Banning’s wife Leah and Jada Pinkett –Smith (Collateral, Magic Mike XXL, Matrix Reloaded) as the decisive Agent Thompson. Other stars include Tim Blake Nelson as the slimy Vice President Kirby and Frederick Schmidt (Mission Impossible: Fallout) as Travis Cole, Wade Jennings’s second in command.

Angel has Fallen gets a film rating of 7 out of 10 and is recommended viewing for hard core action fans and this film’s rather predictable storyline is saved by a brilliant performance by Nick Nolte who lifts the entire story out of obscurity and makes this action packed thriller worth watching.

Be sure to stay after the opening credits for a very humorous scene….

Zero Superheros

Fantastic Four

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Director: Josh Trank

Cast: Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Bell, Kate Mara, Toby Kebbell, Reg E. Cathey, Tim Blake Nelson

The reboot of Fantastic Four featuring the extras of House of Cards and the stars of That Awkward Moment could have been so much better. Director Josh Trank’s Fantastic Four is stilted, vaguely unimaginative and not even remotely thrilling considering all the acting talent he had at his disposal.

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Miles Teller who was so brilliant in the Oscar winning film Whiplash holds his own as does Kate Mara, but Jamie Bell star of The Eagle and Billy Eliot and last seen in Lars von Triers Nymphomaniac Volume II is lost in this comic book reboot. Frankly Jamie Bell’s unique acting talent is unfortunately wasted.

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Michael B. Jordan as the rebellious Johnny Storm is remarkably better and definitely on the verge of superstardom after his hilarious performance along with Miles Teller and Zac Efron in That Awkward Moment.

Unlike the original more comic Fantastic Four (2005) which clearly did not take itself too seriously, this version is darker more sombre and in parts tries unsuccessfully to emulate Christopher Nolan’s brilliant The Dark Knight Rises.

In this version of Fantastic Four, the superheroes and the actors playing them do not take their powers or their characters seriously enough and that is no fault of the talent involved but rather of a tawdry script, bad directing and general narrative arc which suddenly seems to end too quickly, with a finale that appears rushed and clumsy.

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Unlike the phenomenally clever Antman, which taps into a far broader humour and the Avengers universe, The Fantastic Four seems to be lost which is a pity considering the actors involved. Kate Mara was so exceptional in the Netflix series House of Cards but then again she was acting opposite Kevin Spacey.

Even Dr Doom played by Toby Kebbell is not villainous enough and his main motive for sucking the earth into an intergalactic vortex is not sufficiently illustrated beyond pure jealousy for Susan, played by Kate Mara who is infatuated with Reed Richards, the chief scientist, played by Teller, who continuously looks slightly confused in this role.

Fantastic Four is not a brilliant film, and should actually not have been remade as the original colourful films including the sequel Rise of the Silver Surfer was zany and entertaining, everything that this cinematic reincarnation lacks. Not Recommend Viewing despite the initial part of the film showing promise. Unfortunately these superhero’s have zero appeal in a market saturated with reboots and reinventions of comic book films.

 

The Veracity of the Story

Kill the Messenger

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Director: Michael Cuesta

Cast: Jeremy Renner, Rosemarie DeWitt, Robert Patric, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Oliver Platt, Paz Vega, Andy Garcia, Ray Liotta, Tim Blake Nelson, Michael Kenneth Williams, Barry Pepper, Michael Sheen, Gil Bellows, Dan Futterman

Oscar nominee for The Hurt Locker and The Town, Jeremy Renner plays the real life investigative journalist Gary Webb, who while working for the San Jose Mercury News uncovers a complex story involving the CIA, crack cocaine, money laundering and the funding of the Nicaraguan Contra Rebels to topple the Sandinista lead government in a dirty war in the Central American nation – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicaragua.

Gary Webb http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gary_Webb expertly played by Renner was best known for his Dark Alliance series of articles which gained international media attention before the days of Wikileaks, which uncovered the origins of crack cocaine on the streets of South Central Los Angeles and allegedly traces its roots and funding back to the CIA which was using the profits of the drug sales to fund the Contra Rebels in Nicaragua in the mid 1980’s to the 1990’s.

Whilst the crux of director Michael Cuesta’s film Kill The Messenger is about media ethics it also delves deeper into the murky world of career and character assignation when the established media houses included The Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post claimed that Webb’s explosive articles could not be substantiated by credible sources as most of those were shady drug runners, secretive government operatives and vanishing Swiss bankers in Panama City.

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The revelations sparked outrage in many of the African American communities of America’s major cities especially Los Angeles. The drug ring helped escalate a crack cocaine epidemic on the streets of many of these cities and more shockingly the profits were being used by the CIA and also paved the way for the Colombian drug cartels to enter the American market.

Webb’s Dark Alliance series focused on the links between three men, Danilo Blandon; Ricky Ross played by Michael Kenneth Williams and a more elusive Norwin Menezes played by Andy Garcia.

What Kill the Messenger shows is that in the days before instant online information leaks which have characterised the 21st century that the American Intelligence community did anything to discredit the author of the story and in this case Webb’s own career and life suffers tremendously when he directly names the CIA in a complex tale of money-laundering, drug running and political interference.

Webb soon resigns from the San Jose Mercury News and takes up a less prolific post in Cupertino, California, while his relationship with his wife and children suffer immensely, as witnessed by his wife Sue played by Rosemarie DeWitt as Sue wife and teenage son Eric played by Matthew Lintz both whom can see that Webb has become a victim of a calculated smear campaign to basically discredit him as an investigative journalist.

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Throughout the entire disownment of the story by established media houses including an internal investigation into the veracity of the sources by Webb’s own newspaper San Jose Mercury News, Webb is convinced that his Dark Alliance series has truth and merit, which besides any investigative flaws did manage to inflame the African American community to demand answers from the Director of the CIA as to the unrelenting flood of crack cocaine in their neighbourhoods.

There is a fundamental shift in Kill the Messenger, which director Cuesta handles intelligently in that the film ceases to be about the story that Webb has uncovered but more about Webb as a person with all his character defects. There is a line in the film which sums this up – “If you put a man under a microscope then all his life’s flaws and discrepancies will come to light”

Renner acts the part of Gary Webb intensely and passionately as he soon realizes that he has become the story and not what his story was about, something not too dissimilar to what has happened to contemporary whistle blowers such as Edward Snowden and Julian Assange.

Kill the Messenger is a fascinating portrait of an investigative journalist who uncovers an international web of corruption, lies and money laundering only to find himself the victim of his own story. Unfortunately the veracity of the story takes its toll on the storyteller.

Cuesta’s film whilst filled with a sprinkling of character actors including a fabulous cameo by Mexican actress Paz Vega and loads of directorial embellishments is not a perfect film, but certainly a provocative story which at least vindicates Gary Webb’s own personal battle to get the truth out there, despite the costs. Recommended viewing for those that enjoyed The Fifth Estate, All the Presidents Men and The Paperboy.

 

 

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