Posts Tagged ‘Yahya Abdul-Mateen II’

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.

Choice is an Illusion

The Matrix: Resurrections

Director: Lana Wachowski

Cast: Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, Neil Patrick Harris, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Jonathan Groff, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Christina Ricci, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Jessica Henwick, Chad Stahelski, Lambert Wilson

Film Rating 7 out of 10

Running time: 2 hours and 28 minutes

Firstly what audiences have to realize is that director Lana Wachowski transgendered from being a man to a woman and in the original Matrix film made in 1999, her directorial credit was as Larry Wachowski. Secondly the original film won four Oscars back in the year 2000 mainly for visual effects and sound editing.

So after nearly twenty years, Neo and Trinity are back in or out of The Matrix depending on which pill you took. For Choice is an Illusion.

Superstar Keanu Reeves has had a hugely successful career ever since he first caught my eye on screen playing the young lover to La Marquise de Merteuil expertly played by Glenn Close in director Stephen Frears Oscar winning costume drama Dangerous Liaisons back in 1989.

The release of the original The Matrix film back in 1999 was utterly ground breaking, but this new reboot with The Matrix: Resurrections is equally flamboyant, visually challenging and downright entertaining.

Smith played in the original trilogy by Priscilla, Queen of the Desert star Hugo Weaving is now played by Jonathan Groff who looks like a Tom Ford model, handsome, sleek and drop dead gorgeous.

In an alternative reality we find Thomas Anderson working as a computer programmer in San Francisco where he accidentally meets Tiffany aka Trinity in a Silicon Valley coffee shop.

Through a thoroughly reflexive narrative, Thomas Anderson aka Neo gets sucked into the Matrix by Bugs with the Blue hair played by Jessica Henwick. Down the rabbit hole he goes and he reconnects with an updated version of Morpheus brilliantly played quite flamboyantly by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (Aquaman, The Trial of the Chicago 7).

Neo soon discovers that Trinity is back in the Matrix and that his shrink The Analyst is actually a villain wonderfully played by Neil Patrick Harris (Gone Girl, A Million Ways to Die in the West).

Through impressive visualizations and awe inspiring production design, Neo is guided by Sati played by Priyanka Chopra Jonas (The White Tiger) while meeting some digital exiles including The Merovingian played by Lambert Wilson (The Belly of an Architect, Catwoman, 5-7).

The Matrix Resurrections can only be enjoyed if audiences have brushed up on the original films particularly The Matrix made in 1999. From a semiotic point of view, The Matrix Resurrections is rich in film symbolism and digital versions of alternative realities from a sleek San Francisco skyline to a pandemic era ride on a bullet train in Tokyo. Director Lana Wachowski makes full use of her semiotic skills which is her uncanny ability to manipulate images to tell a story using film language.

Extremely entertaining, The Matrix Resurrections gets a film rating of 7 out of 10 and is definitely made for the fans of the original trilogy but most significantly Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss are back as the digitally fated coupled and they are both kicking ass.

The highly anticipated The Matrix Resurrections is highly recommended viewing strictly for sci-fi fans only. And there will definitely be a sequel…

The Radical Left

The Trial of the Chicago 7

Director: Aaron Sorkin

Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Sacha Baron Cohen, Jeremy Strong, Frank Langella, Mark Rylance, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Michael Keaton, Ben Shenkman, Alex Sharp, John Carroll Lynch

Pacifists, Hippies and Black Panthers converge on Chicago in the summer of 1968 during the Democratic National Convention and are confronted by the police and naturally riots break out. Are the police to blame? Are the protesters to blame? It is the summer of love, anti-Vietnam protests and significant social upheaval worldwide.

This is the premise of West Wing and The Social Network Oscar winning screenwriter Aaron Sorkin’s new film in which he directed and wrote. The Trail of the Chicago 7 was originally set for a theatrical release in October 2020 but due to the coronavirus pandemic, Paramount sold the rights to the streaming giant Netflix for a cool $56 million dollars. Which explains the reason why this great film can only be found on Netflix when in fact it was best suited to a proper cinematic release.

Especially with Sorkin’s witty dialogue and his fantastic cast that he managed to assemble for The Trial of the Chicago 7.

The cast includes Oscar winners Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything) as liberal pacifist and anti-war activist Tom Hayden, Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies) as defence attorney William Kunstler, Oscar nominee Frank Langella (Frost/Nixon) as the non-nonsense but bigoted judge Julius Hoffman, Emmy winner Jeremy Strong (Succession) as hippie Jerry Rubin and a stand out performance by comedian Sacha Baron Cohen as the fast talking defiant hippie leader Abbie Hoffman.

Also in the cast are John Carroll Lynch as David Dellinger, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Black Panther leader Bobby Seale who also got charged along with the original seven for incitement to start a riot and public disturbance.

While the first half of Aaron Sorkin’s film is confusing and needs to be anchored, the second half is brilliant as he clearly shows you what actually happens even if as a screenwriter he does get historically creative with the real facts.

Speaking of the real facts, as a viewer it is best to look up the actual story of the Trial of the Chicago 7 and the context in which the riot occurred. As Sacha Baron Cohen’s character Abbie Hofmann so eloquently says, “Everyone was in the Haymarket Tavern at the Chicago Hilton like the Sixties never happened until it came crashing through the window.

The Trial of the Chicago 7 is a great film, very dialogue heavy but it stands together through some superb ensemble acting especially from Mark Rylance, Eddie Redmayne and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the prosecuting attorney Richard Schultz and a fine performance by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Bobby Seale who actually lands up getting bound and gagged in an American courtroom.

Nominated for 5 Golden Globes in 2021 including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Song, Best Supporting Actor for Sacha Baron Cohen and Best Screenplay, Catch The Trial of the Chicago 7 now on Netflix. This courtroom drama gets a film rating of 7.5 out of 10.

King of the Seven Seas

Aquaman

Director: James Wan

Cast: Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Willem Dafoe, Nicole Kidman, Patrick Wilson, Dolph Lundgren, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Temuera Morrison, Julie Andrews

DC Comics highly anticipated Aquaman floods onto the cinema circuit in all its technicolour luminescent glory. Hawaiian actor Jason Momoa embodies the role of Aquaman with a muscular charm that clothes the gorgeous actor throughout this odyssey from his origins as the son of a lighthouse keeper and the Queen of Atlantis wonderfully played by Oscar winner Nicole Kidman who channels a blonde sea creature glow reminiscent of Daryl Hannah in Splash, to his showdown with evil younger brother King Orm of Atlantis.

Nicole Kidman as Queen Atlanna

As Aquaman grows up he learns that there is great turmoil below the seas as his wicked younger half-brother King Orm played with a camp villainy by Patrick Wilson (Watchmen, Lakeview Terrace, Little Children) is about to wreak havoc on the surface people.  

Patrick Wilson as King Orm

Luckily Aquaman has the fiery red head Mera wonderfully played by Amber Heard to assist him as they embark on an epic oceanic adventure which takes them from Sicily to the depths of the hidden ocean where he must retrieve the Golden Trident so he can rightfully claim his title as King of the Seven Seas.

Fast and Furious director James Wan directs Aquaman with flamboyance and panache clearly making it an exceptionally lavish and startling superhero film aided by stunning visual effects and fabulous costumes by Kym Barrett.

Willem Dafoe as Vulko

Aquaman is equally well cast with an array of established stars including Oscar nominee Willem Dafoe (Shadow of a Vampire, Platoon, The Florida Project) as Vulko, Aquaman’s mentor as well as Dolph Lundgren as King Nereus. Yahya Abdul-Mateen II plays the ferocious Manta out to avenge his father’s death against Arthur Curry aka Aquaman.

The onscreen chemistry between Jason Momoa and Amber Heard sizzles especially during the Sicily sequence and Nicole Kidman adds some maternal reasoning as the gorgeous Queen Atlanna who aims to restore peace between her warring sons as their battle for the supremacy to become Master of the Oceans.

DC Comics did everything right with Aquaman and the neon underwater cities add a gorgeous sparkle to the glow of this superhero universe which has seen the likes of Wonder Woman, Superman and Batman appear. Aquaman can rightfully take his place as one of the stronger and coolest members of the Justice League.

Dolph Lundgren as King Nereus

Audiences should be prepared to embark on a cinematic odyssey complete with menacing sea creatures and a ripped and muscled superhero as they watch a story laced with metaphor about rising pollution which is destroying the earth’s oceans.

This is a socially conscious and relevant superhero film with a very likeable star and no doubt there are plans for a sequel to Aquaman as we all want to see more of the tattooed Jason Momoa.

DC’s Coolest Superhero by Far – AQUAMAN

Aquaman gets a film rating of 7.5 out of 10 and audiences should suspend their disbelief as they get dazzled by the city of Atlantis and the hidden treasures of the seven seas.

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