Movie Review: Taken (2008)

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I am honestly not a big fan of modern action movies. There are not that many that I have found that appealed to me. Sure, I have a few that I can call “guilty pleasures” (“Expendables 2” for example). And that is a bit of a disappointment considering I in general like action movies. Anyway… I also like Liam Neeson, the guy’s a great actor. Recently he started to do less dramas and insted do more action oriented movies. You might remember that I did a review for his most recent movie “Non-Stop” about a week ago. Well today we are not revisiting that movie! Today we are taking a look at the movie which launched him into the action movie circle.

Sons and daughters… “Taken”.

The story of “Taken” follows ex-CIA agent Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson). He lives a quiet life as a… retired guy. He retired from the CIA to be closer to his daughter Kim (Maggie Grace) who now lives with her mother Lenore (Famke Janssen) and step-father Stuart (Xander Berkeley). One day Kim asks for his permission to go to Paris with her friend Amanda (Katie Cassidy). So after a little while, Bryan agrees to it… with a few conditions. So then Kim and Amanda goes to Paris… but it doesn’t end well. And by “doesn’t end well” I mean they get kidnapped and it is up to Bryan to get over there and find them… in the most badass way possible. And there we have our story… at least in a basic synopsis-y way. Is it a good premise? Yes. Is the execution of it good? Pretty good I suppose. I’m not saying the execution is bad, I am just saying it is not done in such a way where it keeps me interested. Although I was interested in a different thing about the movie that we’ll talk about in a bit. But back to the point! The drama in this movie was not very engaging and never felt as real as it could. Sure, a few bits struck a small nerve with me, but that’s about it. Not much interest in the execution of the story.

The characters are done in a way that actually keeps this movie going. Not saying they are my favorites in any movie ever… but they work. Let’s start with the only one really worth talking about (Yes, I’ll skip the others), Bryan Mills. He is one of the biggest badasses ever. But he doesn’t only kick literal ass in this movie, but also metaphorically… let me explain. He is very well-written and also carries the emotional parts of the story in this movie. Sure, he doesn’t start crying in this movie, but he really shows emotions compared to every other action hero ever. Also, while he is kicking ass in combat and never seems to lose, you can still notice that he is vulnerable… not just the ultimate killing machine (even though he is that as well). So in general, good characters that work, but we only care for Liam fucking Neeson because he is Liam fucking Neeson.

The music was pretty damn good. It was a mix of a few cold tracks (explanation of cold tracks: Tracks that are calm and used to create a cold and kill-all-the-happiness feeling) and exciting action based tracks. All tracks in this movie comes together to have an orgie and make a great soundtrack for this movie. And that is something I really like! Good job, soundtrack!

Remember when I said I would talk about something that interested me? Yeah, me neither. But time for it to happen! What I meant was the action in the movie… it is pretty awesome. Sure, some of it is obstructed by the curse of shaky-cam, but what you can see is pretty awesome. It is fun to watch and it makes for great entertainment. Also, like I said, this movie really helped launch Liam Neeson into the “action hero circle” which I am so thankful for because he is amazing in action movies (“Non-Stop” is a fine example). Also… camera work (when it isn’t having an epileptic seizure) is fantastic. The shots done in this movie are really great and makes for some real eye-candy.

Reception for “Taken” has been for the most part good…with a few exceptions. Rotten Tomatoes has a score of 58% on it. On Metacritic this movie has a 50/100 rating. And while I couldn’t find a decent quote, Roger Ebert seemed to like it a little bit since he gave this movie 2,5/4 stars. The highest (overall) score has to be on imdb.com since it has a 7,9/10 on there.

“Taken” has fun action, a decent plot, some great music and a great performance by Liam Neeson. So now I will hand out my final score and the movie will take (haha) it. My final score for “Taken” is a 9,52/10 which is just enough to give it the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”
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“Taken” is at last reviewed.

This movie has Taken me in…

My Favorite Scenes: Casino Royale – Opening Credits

How are you guys? Finally we are returning to “My Favorite Scenes”! And today we are taking a look at one of the longest running franchises of all time. To be precise, we are looking at one of the more recent entries in the franchise. That franchise being James Bond and the entry being “Casino Royale” (which for the record is a fucking awesome movie). Every Bond movie has a gunbarrel thing in combination with some opening credits featuring a catchy song and some odd but cool visuals. Enjoy!

Casino Royale – Opening Credits

Movie discussion: Jamie Foxx is the main character in Collateral (2004)

How are you guys doing? Today I felt like starting another “series” here on my blog. In this “series” I will choose a movie related topic that I want to discuss. I will do these every now and then, not just to spit my thoughts out but also to here what you guys think about the situation. I will also be getting into a few spoilers in this “series” about the different movies I will be talking about throughout, so if you haven’t seen that specific movie…then go away, please. And today we are starting off with something that has been pinching me in the back of my head for a while now. And that is about one of my favorite movies; “Collateral”. So let’s begin!

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If you didn’t read the title of this entry, I will be talking about the main character of the fantastic movie “Collateral”. And you might be thinking “But if you say he’s the main character, then he is the main character right?”. Eh, wrong. The story of the movie is about the taxi driver Max (Jamie Foxx) who one night meets the very smart, very smooth hitman Vincent (Tom Cruise). Max is kept at gunpoint by Vincent through the entire movie as he is forced to drive Vincent to all his destinations where he has to kill somebody. Now if you listen to that short (and odd) synopsis of the movie you would automatically assume that Jamie Foxx is the main character, right? But if you go to imdb.com and look at the 2 Oscar nominations this movie got, Foxx was nominated for “Best Supporting Actor”. Do you see now how this is weird to me? Look, I know that Tom Cruise at the time was a slightly more well-known and popular actor…but that doesn’t make him the main guy in this movie. Sure, he is one of the main ones, but if anyone should have gotten the “Best supporting Actor” nod, it should have been Cruise. My guess on this is like I said, Cruise was the more popular actor at the time and therefore he wasn’t the “Supporting actor” in the pair. But I honestly don’t think that is an excuse to put the most prominent actor/character as “Supporting”. Look, I love Tom Cruise as much as the next guy, but I can see who is supporting or not in a movie. In the end, Max is the one still standing out of the two. Let me shortly recap the final(ish) scene of this movie for you. Vincent leaves Max in the street and goes after his final target who is a woman (Jada Pinkett Smith) Max met earlier that very same night. Max goes after him (after Vincent is gone, of course). He goes to the building where she works and Vincent has gone into. Max has gotten hold of a gun, shoots up the glass and gets in. He finds Vincent and Annie in there. Max and Annie escapes and enters the train…Vincent follows. In the end (which is slightly blurry) Vincent dies and Max & Annie lives on. The character you see most in the movie is Max. You see this movie (mostly) from his point of view.  And that makes Max the main character! So why in the hell is Jamie Foxx listed as “Best Supporting Actor”!? If you have a theory, leave it in the comments below and let me know.
Also, since you’ve gotten this far I assume you have seen “Collateral”. And in that case, what did you think of it? Let me know! Like I said, it’s one of my favorite movies of all time.

I hoped you “enjoyed” this little thing. I will be doing more of these later on, so stay tuned!

Now that I think about it, they kind of did the same thing with “Interview With The Vampire”. Ya know, had Tom Cruise being the most prominent actor on the posters/promotional art/DVD covers…odd.

Movie Review: Non-Stop (2014)

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Liam Neeson, one of the greatest actors we got (at least I think so). He truly gained fame back in 1993 with his movie “Schindler’s List” (which I have not seen yet). But a few years back he made a small turn in his career with the movie “Taken” which puts him (for the most part) these days in action movies. And now in 2014, he made another one…set on a plane.

Men and women, boys and girls…”Non-Stop”.

Bill Marks (Liam Neeson) is a drunken(ish) air marshal who’s going on a transatlantic flight. On that he meets a woman named Jen Summers (Julianne Moore) whom he befriends. But while on the flight, something weird happens. He starts receiving these mysterious text messages from an unknown (Liam Neeson pun, haha) person. This person says he/she will kill one passenger on the plane every 20 minutes if Bill fails to transfer 150 million dollars to a certain bank account. So it’s a race against the time to find this mysterious person until every passenger on the plane is dead. But there seems to be more going on than that. And now we have our movie. And I have to say that I really enjoyed the story aspect of this movie. Not only was it well-written, but it was also very suspenseful. And to be honest, this movie is not straight-out action, but it is a bit like “Jack Reacher” in the sense of it being a suspenseful mystery with action parts every now and then. And in that sense…I really liked the story.

The characters…not the best in the universe. Not calling them bad/horribly written…just not too interesting. But it is also difficult to give different characters interesting personalities when they are so many. Sure, a few get a little development, but not enough to keep them that interesting. But we are not here to see people, we’er here to see Liam Neeson…and he delivers. Sure, he stays very similar throughout the movie with little to no change…but I don’t mind. Neeson gives a good enough performance to stay interesting.

The soundtrack by John Ottman is honestly pretty great. It is one of those soundtracks that fit it’s movie so well that it doesn’t matter what I say. It really helps build the suspense of the scenes in the movie. It is also not a too bombastic soundtrack like most modern action movies want to make their soundtracks, but it is a lot mroe subtle than a big ol’ “BWAAAAAAAAAH”. So yeah…I really liked it.

The camera work in this movie is honestly some of the best I’ve seen in a modern movie. Sure, a few parts are hurt by shaky-cam, but it doesn’t ruin the entire movie. Sure, the camera work is not really on par with any David Fincher movies, but it manages to hold it’s own against most other movies. Also, this movie kept me on edge. The claustrophobic feeling it gave really helped build the suspense and really did keep it fresh and interesting. Seriously… try to find a modern action movie that can keep me on edge… that is difficult. Also, this movie was produced by Joel Silver who also helped produce the “Matrix” films and “Die Hard”.

Reception for “Non-Stop” was mixed but for the most part pretty good. It has a 60% score on Rotten Tomatoes at the moment. On Metacritic it has the lovely score of 56/100 (Did you see the sarcasm, or did it just fly by). And on imdb.com it has a 7,1/10. So like I said…mixed, but overall good.

“Non-Stop” is a movie with good action scenes, good acting, great camera work and a good soundtrack but is dragged down a bit by lack of characterization and a little bit of unnecessary shaky-cam. So now it is time for my final score. The final score for “Non-Stop” is an 8,92/10 and a recommendation to buy it. It is not worthy the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!” but it is somethign that is good enough to pick up.

“Non-Stop” is now reviewed.

Where’s Leslie Nielsen when you need him? (Bonus points if you get the reference).

Movie Review: Goodbye Bafana (2007)

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Nelson Mandela (R.I.P) was a great man. He fought for equal rights of black and white people in South Africa. He was imprisoned for 27 years (Damn) and was released in 1990. Unfortunately we lost him in December of 2013. He inspired a lot of people. There have also been a lot of movies and books about his life. One of the books, written by the prison guard who watched him during all these years(ish) got popular enough to get a movie. A movie that got released a few years back. But did this reviewer like it? Let’s find out!

Ladies and Gentlemen…”Goodbye Bafana”.

Like I said, this movie follows the book which told the story of the real life prison guard James Gregory (Joesph Fiennes). This movie like I said is an adaptation. It follows Gregory as he is stationed on Robben Island with his wife (Diane Kruger), his son (played by 2 different actors through out, so I’m not mentioning them because I’m lazy) and his daughter (like the son, too lazy). Gregory gets the mission on the prison to watch over the recently captured Nelson Mandela (Dennis Haysbert). And the story follows these two men’s relationship from “prisoner and guard” to “friends”. Yep, I just spoiled it. But that is because this is a biography which you can look up anywhere. This is truth that you will find out anyway. It’s not like a fictional work which you haven’t seen before. But I found the story and the evolution of the story to be extremely intriguing and gripping. It even made me tear up at one point. Not gonna spoil which moment, don’t worry.

The characters…incredibly realistic (No shit). Not just because they are based on real people, but also because the actors felt so real. They did a fantastic job. And the writing was really solid as well. I was really impressed on the character part.

On the music…it was really good. Not that I wass surprised…just sayin’ it was good. It really set the mood, not jsut for the movie itself but also fit the scenes fantastically well! Loved it!

The camera work in this movie was…great. Sure, it was not the most original and visually stunning that I have ever seen…but it certainly holds its own. The times where you got to see some landscapes in the movie…fantastic. Also, this movie is not always easy to watch…believe me on that. Not saying that it is as disturbing as maybe “Requiem for A Dream”, but it is not always the most fun to watch. Did I also mention that it made me tear up at one point? What? I did? Damn.

Reception for “Goodbye Bafana” is something that is not easy to find, becuase not many people saw this film. But I’ll try my best. There is none of the “Critic scores” which I usually post here for Rotten Tomatoes, but there is at least the “Audience score”. Audiences like it and it has an 82% rating on RT. Next thing is imdb.com which (based on less than 9000 votes) a score of 7,1/10. That is really all I could find for “Goodbye Bafana” when it comes to reception. I’m sorry…I have failed you.

“Goodbye Bafana” is a gripping, deep, thought provoking, incredibly well-acted movie with a great soundtrack and Dennis Haysbert playing Mandela (Seriously, he was born for this role). So…time for my final score on this short review. My final score for “Goodbye Bafana” is a 9,67/10 which gives it the rights to the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.
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“Goodbye Bafana” is now reviewed.

Shame on you people! More people should have seen this amazing thing!