Archive for the ‘Michael Bay’ Category

The Downtown Heist

Ambulance

Director: Michael Bay

Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Eiza Gonzalez, Garret Dillahunt, Keir O’Donnell, Jackson White, Moses Ingram, Colin Woodell, Cedric Sanders

Running Time: 2 hours and 16 minutes

Film Rating: 6.5 out of 10

Transformers and Armageddon director Michael Bay returns to the big screen with a California heist film Ambulance set in downtown Los Angeles and features to foster brothers Danny and Will Sharp played respectively by Oscar nominee Jake Gyllenhaal (Brokeback Mountain) and Emmy winner Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (Watchmen).

Danny lures Will into helping him with one last heist job at a Federal building in downtown Los Angeles and soon everything literally goes pear-shaped and amidst a massive shootout, Danny and Will escape in an ambulance transporting a wounded police officer played by Jackson White and accompanied by a beautiful headstrong paramedic Cam Thompson played by Eiza Gonzalez last seen in Baby Driver.

Captain Monroe, played by Garrett Dillahunt (12 Years a Slave, No Country for Old Men) and his band of armed policemen try to pursue the Ambulance until Danny Sharp unwittingly calls in the assistance of the Mexican gang to distract the police as the chase continues through the myriad of freeways, off ramps and roadways of downtown Los Angeles.

Director Michael Bay frames the city shots of Los Angeles with some sweeping takes including all the downtown skyscrapers whilst also managing to capture the trauma and anxiety of what is happening inside the Ambulance including keeping police officer Zach alive while the vehicle is being shot at and chased incessantly.

As the situation becomes increasingly desperate, the outlandish narrative takes too long to wrap up even though the action keeps audiences glued to the screen. At 2 hours and 16 minutes, Ambulance could have been edited by at least half an hour.

If audiences enjoy a good action, car chase bank robbery film, then Ambulance is just for you. It’s filled with crazy car chases, sweeping road carnage and enough plot twists to keep audiences guessing right up until the medical vehicle reaches its intended destination.

Jake Gyllenhaal and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II both are very good in their respective roles particularly the latter as he realizes how crazy his estranged foster brother really is. Let’s face it, Jake Gyllenhaal can play crazy in a cool kind of way!

Ambulance is an entertaining heist action film, big on flashy images of a city scape twisted by glass skyscrapers and fast cars on freeways featuring some desperate characters trying to get out of a really tense situation.

Ambulance gets a film rating of 6.5 out of 10 and while not entirely plausible, it certainly is a perfect popcorn action flick.

Benghazi Backlash

13 Hours: Secret Soldiers of Benghazi

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Director: Michael Bay

Cast: John Krasinski, Pablo Schreiber, James Badge Dale, Toby Stephens, David Denham, David Costabile, Matt Letscher, Alexia Barlier, Max Martini, Dominic Fumusa, Pablo Schreiber

Bad Boys and Transformers director Michael Bay turns to more recent geopolitical turmoil in the excellent and absorbing film 13 Hours: Secret Soldiers of Benghazi about the deadly attack on an American temporary diplomatic post in Benghazi in Libya on the night of 11th September 2012. This attack had such devastating consequences both diplomatically and politically that the Americans were forced to re-evaluate the postings of their diplomats abroad.

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Comic actor John Krasinski beefs up in his first action role as Jack Silva a married man who does one last security mission abroad for a contract security company in Benghazi only to survive a horrendous night in which the worst possible attack occurred.

Other security personnel in 13 Hours include James Badge Dale as Tyrone Woods, Pablo Schreiber from Orange is the New Black as Kris Paronto along with David Denham as Dave Benton and David Costabile last seen in Showtime’s Billions as the commander of the security forces, Bob. Audiences should also look out for Toby Stephens (Die Another Day) as a Global Response Staff officer Glen Doherty.

What becomes apparent in 13 Hours, is that the Americans grossly underestimated the security situation in Libya post the fall of Gaddafi, who was toppled in a civil war in October 2011, the result of which was a sweeping tide of change across North Africa and the Middle East, now referred to as the Arab Spring. The American ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens, played by Matt Letscher in the film, was actually killed in the attack on the Benghazi compound by a group of heavily armed extremists.

Director Michael Bay sets the scene in Libya post Gaddafi as a powder keg, a dangerous power vacuum which occurred following the Libyan dictator’s death resulting in a stock pile of weapons being seized by warring militia groups who constantly battled each other on the streets of Benghazi and Tripoli.

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi is based upon the book 13 Hours by Mitchell Zuckoff and is a riveting and controversial account of what actually took place in the chaotic events which lead to the vicious attack on the American Compound and the adjoining annex by a group of Islamic militants.

As a visual documentary of recent history, 13 Hours naturally comes off as an American tale of bravado and patriotism against a foreign enemy which is far more complex, lethal and indistinguishable. What the film does point to especially concerning the current conflict in Syria and the collapse of an ordered government in Libya is the cause of the dramatic influx of migrants to Western Europe from war-torn countries in North Africa and the Middle East mainly due to their geographic proximity.

In the tradition of the excellent Lone Survivor, 13 Hours is a riveting action film retelling a very recent historical event whose geo-political ramifications go far beyond the borders of Libya.

As 13 Hours points out, the Benghazi attack was a tragic American diplomatic event questioning who was really responsible for the security of American citizens in such a dangerous city when the threat matrix had been severely under estimated. Recommended viewing and sure to provoke ample discussion.

Source: Libya

 

 

 

Glossy Carnage

Transformers: Age of Extinction

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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