Movie Review: Bad Times at the El Royale (2018)

I was gonna do a joke about a priest walking into a bar, but I couldn’t come up with a good punchline. So let’s just get into the review.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Bad Times at the El Royale”.

The late 1960s. On the border between California and Nevada lies the El Royale, a snazzy-looking motel. And on one fateful day, a group of strangers all decide to book rooms there, all of them carrying some secret. And we follow them as they get tangled up in the most insane night of their lives. The plot here jumps around a lot, partly in showing how all the characters got to the El Royale, and partly to show all the different perspectives on certain events that go down at the motel. And this could get messy and convoluted if put in the wrong hands. But I think that it was handled very well here. I like that they really took their time to tell this story. It’s intriguing, suspenseful, fun, pulpy, and just overall entertaining.

The characters here are colorful, unique, layered, flawed, and just overall really interesting. And that’s all you’ll get out of me. I won’t go any more in-depth on any of them, as that would be really tough without accidentally spoiling stuff. So let’s just list the cast. Jeff Bridges, Cynthia Erivo, Lewis Pullman, Jon Hamm, Dakota Johnson, Chris Hemsworth, Cailee Spaeny, all great in their respective roles.

The score for the movie was composed by Michael Giacchino, and it was really good. It does lean into the pulp angle I mentioned earlier, which really helps sell the movie’s vibe while still adding to the sense of tension and drama. There’s also a fair bit of licensed tracks used throughout, and not only are they really good on their own, but they also work incredibly well within their respective scenes.

“Bad Times at the El Royale” was written and directed by Drew Goddard, who I think did a great job with it. He gives the movie a very slick style that makes it feel somewhat unique, without sacrificing any of the pulpy suspense that is built up through the story, characters, and music. And the cinematography by Seamus McGarvey is pretty stellar, giving us some really great looking shots throughout the movie.

This movie has gotten some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 75% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 60/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,1/10.

“Bad Times at the El Royale” is something that I can easily tell will polarize audiences. But I thought it was great. It has a great plot, really good characters, great performances, great music, and great writing/directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Bad Times at the El Royale” is a 9,71/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Bad Times at the El Royale” is now completed.

Good times, bad times, you know I had my share…

Movie Review: Avengers: Endgame (2019)

Can you guys believe it? 11 years and 22 movies. The Marvel Cinematic Universe’s ultimate culmination is finally here. It’s kind of mindblowing and impressive, regardless of one’s opinion on the movies themselves. So let’s get into it.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Avengers: Endgame”.

After the horrifying events in “Avengers: Infinity War”, the team feels somewhat defeated. But they still rise up to the occasion to find a way to fix what has been caused by Thanos (Josh Brolin). And I was scared going into this. Would they stick the landing? Well, guess what, they fucking did. It’s dramatic, tense, fun, emotional, and a perfect sendoff for this entire cinematic universe. And that is all I’m saying about that. I guess you could nitpick stuff, but I don’t want to. This is great. #DontSpoilTheEndgame

A shitload of characters return. Most of their development came from the other movies, but they did also get a little from this, and it just works really well. These are fully developed characters that I love. And the performances are great. Not gonna say all who are in this because there’s far too many. But holy fucking shit, there is not a weak link in this cast. All the actors do wonder with the great material they’re given.

As with “Infinity War”, the score was composed by Alan Silvestri. And in my review of that movie, I didn’t give the score enough credit. Yes, I had positive comments about it, but on subsequent rewatches of that movie, I’ve grown to love it a lot more. And the man somehow managed to fucking top himself with “Endgame”. The score manages to encapsulate all the epicness, emotion, and energy that the story needed flawlessly. Silvestri, I salute you.

They started with “The Winter Soldier”. They came back for “Civil War”. They took over the main mantle for “Avengers: Infinity War”. And they came to tie the bow on the gift that is “Endgame”. So yeah, their direction was great here too. These dudes know how to do big, epic action in a very human way, and it feels so great that they got the task to wrap this entire shebang up for now. Trent Opaloch’s cinematography is also absolutely amazing. And it goes without saying that the visual effects in this are absolutely spectacular. Hell, let’s give the visual effects crew some extra credit here for giving us some of the most impressive effects in movie history. The package is incredibly well put together.

This movie just came out, but it has already been incredibly well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 96% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 77/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 9,1/10 and is ranked #5 on the “Top 250” list.

Yes I’m keeping it vague and brief here, but that’s what I have to do to not accidentally spoil it. Still, with that said, “Avengers: Endgame” is an absolutely marvelous movie and a perfect way to end the Marvel Cinematic Universe as we know it. It has a great plot, great characters, great performances, great music, and fantastic direction/writing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Avengers: Endgame” is a 9,90/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Avengers: Endgame” is now completed.

I’m not saying that I cried, but I cried.

Series Review: Line of Duty – Season 4 (2017)

That’s right, another “Line of Duty” review. But don’t worry, it’s the last one… until season 5 makes its way over here.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Line of Duty” season 4!

AC-12 is back, this time investigating the recent, slightly suspicious actions of a highly decorated detective chief inspector (Thandie Newton). Twists, turns, and “holy shit” abound. Yeah, it’s another season of “Line of Duty”, the edge-of-your-seat police procedural that I still have no way of predicting where it would go each season. The threads brought back from previous seasons are tied wonderfully into some stuff here, and the new plot is great too. Really, there’s not much else that I can say without repeating what I said the last three times I reviewed this show. It’s more “Line of Duty”… and it’s great. Not season 3 great, but still great.

The characters here are as flawed, unique, layered, and interesting as always. To avoid repeating myself, I will not go over the three mains again, as I can’t say anything new about them here without going into potential spoilers. But the three of them (Martin Compston, Vicky McClure, Adrian Dunbar) are still great characters complemented by great performances. So let’s get into the new part of the core cast (for the season), that being Thandie Newton as DCI Roseanne “Roz” Huntley, a tough-as-nails policewoman who’s worked hard to get where she is. Not only is it interesting seeing her dealing with AC-12 and their inquiries, but she also has her own dealings (for lack of a better word) that she tries to handle throughout the six episodes, and that stuff is pretty engaging as well. So yeah, Huntley is an interesting character, and Newton is great in the role. And in the supporting roles we find people like Lee Ingleby, Paul Higgins, Maya Sondhi, Jason Watkins, Scott Reid, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

As per the first three seasons, the music here was done by Carly Paradis, and once again it is great. Most of the time it’s a subtle piano piece that sneaks the main theme in a bit, but it does also know when to get a bit more tense, exciting, and loud. It’s probably my favorite iteration of the score so far. It doesn’t do anything overly new or groundbreaking, but it’s probably the most polished and balanced version we’ve gotten so far, and that’s an A+ in my book.

As per usual, all the episodes were written by series creator/showrunner Jed Mercurio, who even took on directing duties for the first two episodes, with John Strickland taking on the remaining four. And like with the score, this is probably the most polished version of the show so far. That’s not to say that they shy away from some of the gritty stuff… ’cause they don’t. It’s just that you can tell that they’ve come a long way since the first season in terms of both budget and storytelling confidence. Remember how I mentioned the “edge-of-your-seat” thing from before? Yeah, that applies to the direction too. In terms of suspense in television, few do it as well as “Line of Duty”.

This show/season has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 100% positive rating. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,6/10 and is ranked #158 on the “Top 250 TV” list.

So yeah, as expected, season 4 of “Line of Duty” is fucking great. Great plot, great characters, great performances, great music, great writing/directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Line of Duty” season 4 is a 9,92/10. Which means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Line of Duty” season 4 is now completed.

This show is too addictive for my own good.

Movie Review: You Don’t Know Jack (2010)

Oh dear. How do I make a fun intro to this? I mean, I don’t need to, and probably shouldn’t because of the heavy subject matter… but I like making fun intros. What a dilemma.

Disclaimer: I know this thing is based on a true story, but I will not base my review on how perfectly accurate to the real situation it may or may not be, but I will instead judge it as a movie… which it is. Disclaimer over.

Ladies and gentlemen… “You Don’t Know Jack”.

The story follows Jack Kevorkian (Al Pacino), a highly controversial doctor. Why is he controversial? Because he advocates (and leads) for the service of assisted suicide for the terminally ill or severely disabled who no longer want to suffer. So the story is about Kevorkian helping his patients while also fighting the legal battle to have what he’s doing be legal… I told you the themes in this were heavy. But in presentation they’re not overbearingly heavy to just make you depressed every minute of the movie. Not saying that it’s exactly a lighthearted movie, but it knows how to find a tone that emphasizes the drama while keeping it relatively easy to watch. And yeah, the plot here has a lo of nuance and balances tone very well, but it also has some trouble with pacing. I get it, Kevorkian had a long career, and this isn’t a fast-paced action movie, but there are times when the pacing drags a bit. It doesn’t ruin the plot, but it does pull it down a bit in my book. Still, the plot here is good.

The characters in this are colorful, layered, flawed, and overall quite interesting. Al Pacino plays Jack Kevorkian, the man at the center of the story advocating for assisted suicide. He’s a passionate and highly determined man, doing everything in his power to let people (as he puts it) have the choice to suffer or not. He’s also kinda quirky, but it never clashes with his dramatic struggle, as it shows that there’s many sides to him (like with most people). And Pacino is great in the role. We also get supporting work from people like Danny Huston, Brenda Vaccaro, Susan Sarandon, John Goodman, Cotter Smith, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

There wasn’t a lot of music composed for this movie, but the little there is was done by Marcelo Zarvos, and the music was good… not much else I can say there. The use of licensed music worked pretty well in the movie too. Yeah, not much else can be said.

Based on the life of actual doctor Jack Kevorkian, this movie was written by Adam Mazer, and directed by Barry Levinson. And their work together was really good. Admittedly the camerawork leaves a little to be desired, as the tv movie constraints really show at times here. But the overall direction here is still good, getting close and intimate with the characters and their struggles in a wonderful way.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 91% positive rating. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,7/10.

While not perfect, “You Don’t Know Jack” is still a really engrossing movie that should spark some interesting discussion. It has a good plot, good characters, great performances, okay music, and good writing/directing. As previously stated, it does suffer a bit in pacing and camerawork (but nothing major). Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “You Don’t Know Jack” is an 8,82/10. So while flawed, it’s still definitely worth buying.

My review of “You Don’t Know Jack” is now completed.

I have nothing that’s really related to the movie to end on, so let’s just share one of the most profound quotes of all time. “Hoo-ah” – Al Pacino.

Series Review: Line of Duty – Season 3 (2016)

Yes, I know, you’ve been getting a lot of “Line of Duty” content from me in relatively quick succession, but I can’t help if the show is very bingeable. Or, well, technically it is, but also not… Shut up. Let’s just get into it.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Line of Duty” season 3!

When a suspect is fatally shot during a police raid, Arnott (Martin Compston), Fleming (Vicky McClure), and the rest of AC-12 have to look into the possibility of corruption and misconduct within the strike team involved in the shooting. But as they work this case, they soon discover that it isn’t as simple as it might seem at first. And this is how “Line of Duty” weaves its most complex, layered, intense, and unpredictable plot yet… and I loved ever second of it. Not discrediting the first two seasons, they were great… but season 3’s web is so broad and layered with intrigued that it almost puts them to shame. In scope, storytelling, and suspense, it is probably the peak of any police show that I have ever watched, and honestly better than a lot of movies too. It takes the idea of “Line of Duty”, and not only creates a new, interesting plot in it, but weaves in elements from previous seasons too to create this big, elaborate plot… and yet it never feels messy. And at no point could I predict what was going to happen, which is quite nice to see in a police show. So yeah, the plot here is pretty fantastic.

The characters (new and returning) are all flawed, layered, engaging, and overall just really interesting. Martin Compston of course returns as DS Steve Arnott, still being the tenacious  investigator that we know and love. Seeing him do his job would’ve been interesting enough, but then they also give him some interesting development here too to keep it feeling fresh, which is a welcome addition. And Compston is great in the role. Vicky McClure returns as DC Kate Fleming, who as per usual, has to go undercover, this time with the strike team that’s under investigation. And while she doesn’t have the biggest arc this season, she still gets a fair amount of good stuff to chew on here. And McClure is great in the role. Adrian Dunbar returns as everyone’s favorite superintendent, Ted Hastings. Seeing him deal with the complexities of the case while also dealing with some personal things is really interesting. And Dunbar is great in the role. We also get supporting work from people like Daniel Mays, Craig Parkinson, Polly Walker, Arsher Ali, Keeley Hawes, Jonas Armstrong, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

As with the first two seasons, the music here was composed by Carly Paradis, who once again delivers a tense, emotional, dramatic, and just plain great score. It’s probably the best work she’s done for the show up up to this point. The compositions are layered, yet simple, which works incredibly well in creating the sound of the show.

Series creator Jed Mercurio returned to write all the episodes, and directing duties were split between Michael Keillor and John Strickland. And once again, this crew has really upped their game. The directing is more steady, more confident, and overall more intense, creating a truly electrifying viewing experience. Sure, the writing in itself is already amazing, but the addition of the season’s excellent direction creates a unique and awesome style that I really liked. It also makes the suspenseful bits even more uncomfortable.

This show/season has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 100% positive rating. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,6/10 and is ranked #162 on the “Top 250 TV” list.

Once again, “Line of Duty” has one-upped itself. The plot is fantastic, the characters are great, the performances are great, the music is really good, and the writing/directing is fantastic. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Line of Duty” season 3 is a 9,95/10. Which means it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Line of Duty” season 3 is now completed.

For fuck’s sake, show, stop* getting better and better.

*Don’t actually stop.

Series Review: Line of Duty – Season 2 (2014)

Season 1 got reviewed a few weeks back. Time to finally talk about season 2.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Line of Duty” season 2!

When a super secret police convoy get attacked by some masked assailants, Arnott (Martin Compston), Hastings (Adrian Dunbar), and the rest of AC-12 have to look into the possibility of someone within the police leaking the convoy’s route. So now we have our plot set up. And while there was nothing wrong with the first season’s plot, it is nowhere as layered, unpredictable, and electrifying as what they got going on here in the sophomore outing. In the first season they were trying to find the show’s voice, but here in season 2 they found it, and they had a lot of confidence in the storytelling. The way it engages through clever drama and really tight suspense makes for one of the best seasons of television I’ve seen in quite some time.

The characters in this are flawed, layered, and really interesting. Martin Compston returns as Steve Arnott, the young-ish man working with AC-12 to stop corruption. He is given a good amount of development here, making him even more interesting than he was in the first season, while still keeping the determined nature that made him so engaging to begin with. And Compston is great in the role. Vicky McClure returns as Kate Fleming, AC-12’s resident undercover officer. She gets development here through something in the case that I won’t spoil, but it’s an interesting touch. And McClure is great in the role. Adrian Dunbar returns as Ted Hastings, the likable boss of AC-12. He has some personal problems that he deals with while also trying to be involved in the case, which is quite interesting to see. And Dunbar is really good in the role. We also get Keeley Hawes as Lindsay Denton, a woman/member of the police who is one of the prime suspects of the case, and they do some really interesting stuff with her character throughout the season. And Hawes is great in the role. We also get supporting work from people like Craig Parkinson, Mark Bonnar, Tony Pitts, Sacha Dhawan, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

As with the first season, the score for this was composed by Carly Paradis, and I think that it’s an improvement on the first season’s music. It still has a heavy focus in piano and some strings, but what it improves on is subtlety. Sure, the score is noticeable, but compared to the first season, it never gets overbearing at any point, and just ends up being this emotional powerhouse that makes the show even better than it already was.

The show was created by Jed Mercurio, who also wrote all the episodes here, with direction split between Douglas Mackinnon and Daniel Nettheim. And the craft here is even tighter than in the first season, with plenty more “holy shit” moments throughout, which keeps the show energetic and tense, even in the most subtle and quiet of scenes. A lot of cop shows fail in creating genuine suspense, but season 2 of “Line of Duty” never wavers in that regard.

This show/season has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 100% positive rating. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,6/10 and is ranked #165 on the “Top 250 TV” list.

Season 2 of “Line of Duty” takes what was good about the first season and improves on it in every aspect. It has a great plot, really good characters, great performances, great music, and great writing/directing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Line of Duty” season 2 is a 9,91/10. Which means it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Line of Duty” season 2 is now completed.

I can see now why you Brits keep banging on about this show.

While You Wait: Game of Thrones

Hello there, and welcome to a new thing. Not sure it it’ll be a recurring series, but if this gets a good response, then it might. Any way, hello everyone. With the final season of HBO megahit “Game of Thrones” arriving in less than two weeks, fan are eagerly anticipating it. But until then, some might be asking themselves what they could watch to tide them over until then. Well, I’m here to perhaps help with that in some regard, by giving you some personal recommendations for things that could maybe fill that void in some respect. And if you don’t give a shit about “Game of Thrones”, then you’ll at least have a few recommendations for things to experience. So let’s go.

This is While You Wait: Game of Thrones edition.

The Lord of the Rings trilogy (New Line Cinema, 2001 – 2003)

This entry should come as no surprise in the slightest. Big, epic fantasy with a grandiose story, a stellar cast, and tons of detail in props and filmmaking. Look, I am aware that this and “Game of Thrones” are very different in tone… style… language… amount of tits, but still, can’t talk about relevant recommendations for a major fantasy thing without mentioning another one.

Westworld (HBO Entertainment, Warner Bros. Television, 2016 – now)

While we’re talking about one major HBO series, we might as well talk about another one. “Westworld”, based on the 1973 film by Michael Crichton, is a series created by Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy, and follows a theme park that is built up like a giant wild west world (Hence, “Westworld”). But as expected, things may or may not go awry (wouldn’t be a show otherwise). Let’s see, big sweeping story (check), A-list cast (check), Ramin Djawadi making music (check), budget higher than what any of us make in a year (check), violence (check), naked people (super check)… yeah, this has a shitload in common with “GoT”, so that’s why I recommend it.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Bethesda Softworks, 2011)

That’s right, there be video games on this list too. Released in 2011, “Skyrim” was the fifth mainline game in the “Elder Scrolls” series. In times of great political turmoil, you play as a character that almost gets executed, but gets “saved” by a giant dragon attacking the city that you’re in. And it doesn’t take long for you to find out that you’re Dragonborn, a mighty warrior destined to slay dragons and steal their souls. Political tensions, various factions doing their own shit within the kingdoms, epic fantasy, DRAGONS. Need I say more as to why a “Thrones” fan might want to play this? It’s not one of my favorites, but I still feel like it’s a good recommendation for fans of “GoT” who might want to get some game time in.

Berserk (OLM Inc, 1997 – 1998)

And now we move into something a bit older, but is a bit more of a recent watch for me. “Berserk” is a 1997 anime series based on a manga series of the same name by Kentaro Miura. It follows a highly capable swordsman named Guts as he joins a mercenary group called the Band of the Hawk, after its leader, Griffith, defeats Guts in combat. And so Guts, along with Griffith, and the other members of the group fight their way through the kingdom of Midland. And we do also get to see how Guts and Griffith’s actions affects the political climate in the kingdom, as well as how their bond evolves over the series. So it has both the big battles and political element of “GoT”, and it has the brutality of it… come to think of it, “Berserk” is probably even more brutal (and the series is allegedly very toned down compared to the original manga). Just a few details first… Skip episode one. I’m not kidding, skip it. It’s not even related to anything going on in the show, as it’s set after everything that happens. Maybe come back to it after finishing the other 24 episodes. And secondly, the ending (which I won’t fully spoil) has been a bit polarizing for people… and that’s all. Other than that, “Berserk” is great.

The Expanse (Alcon entertainment, 2016 – now)

So how do we go from high fantasy to sci-fi? Well, like in “Game of Thrones”, you can find a lot of political tension and character development in “The Expanse”. Set hundreds of years into the future, we follow various characters as they try to deal with their various situations while navigating the very dangerous political tensions between Earth and Mars. Need even more proof that this show is the “Game of Thrones” of sci-fi? It has been called the “Game of Thrones” of sci-fi by a fair amount of people. And I thank Amazon for picking it up after SyFy cancelled it.

Gladiator (Scott Free Productions, Univeral Pictures, 2000)

Epic battles, political intrigue (again), charismatic cast, big budget… do I really need to explain why Ridley Scott’s epic Oscar winner is one of the recommendations on this list? You all know why it is here.

The Dark Souls trilogy (FromSoftware, 2011 – 2016)

More video game goodness, and oh god, the traumatic flashbacks are rolling in. Admittedly I’ve only played the third game in the series, but based on my “enjoyment” of that, and the critical acclaim of the rest of the series, I feel confident in recommending them all. You play as a silent (not counting offs and ahs) protagonist who goes on quests that lead you across dark world where you’ll encounter strange creatures, interesting people, and pain… lots and lots of pain. It’s dark fantasy at it’s most bird-flipping. People love these games for their difficulty, and I do kind of appreciate the challenge from my playthrough(s) of the third game. Funnily enough, as I recommend this for “Thrones” reasons, these games take heavy inspiration from another thing on this list… that thing being “Berserk”.

The Revenant (Regency Enterprises, 21st Century Fox, 2015)

Ah yes, the 2015 movie that finally gave Leo his Oscar… and all it took was dragging himself through the dirt after getting his shit kicked in by a bear. Betrayal, brutality, cold, stellar acting, a gritty tone, these are things that make this movie good and also help make some of the “GoT” comparison a bit more valid.

The Godfather trilogy (Paramount Pictures, 1972 – 1990)

Now, how can I compare possible the most prolific gangster series of all time to one of the biggest tv shows of all time? Well, both are grand, sweeping, epic stories about family, legacy, and ruling over a kingdom of sorts. Some from an uncomfortable and pointy chair, and some in dark rooms in the mid-century United States. And yes, I am recommending all of them. The third movie is a huge step down from the first two, but it still has its moments.

Castlevania (Powerhouse Animation, Netflix, 2017 – now)

And for our final entry, let’s go a bit lighter. Don’t get me wrong, this show is dark, but at least it is allowed to get a bit over the top with its action. Based on the hit video game series, “Castlevania” follows Trevor Belmont (Richard Armitage), the last member of a long line of vampire hunters, as he reluctantly has to try to kill the king of all vampires… Dracula (Graham McTavish). Start with an epic fantasy, end with another. The animation is stellar, the plot engaging, and the characters very well realized. And to any stubborn people out there: This is a cartoon, not an anime. It may have some anime stylings, but it was entirely produced in the United States… so it’s a cartoon. But for those not stubborn: Watch this show, it’s great.

So those were some of my personal recommendations for those “Game of Thrones” fans wanting something to tide them over until April 14th, or maybe if something’s needed to fill the gap after the show ends. But I also ask of all of you, what other recommendations do you have that could fit this thing? Movie, show, book, game… any of them, I’m all ears.
Have a good one.

Great Music #30

Hello and welcome back to Great Music, the thing where I talk about music I like. And we’ve now reached the 30th one of these. And it only took us… three and a half years, hot damn. Not saying that number 30 in itself is an important milestone, just wanted to point out that I am slow when it comes to these things. Anyway, let’s get into it.

So what song do I wanna talk about today? And one rock track? Something from a movie? Nope. Today I wanna talk about something that was composed for a video game. Now, I am sure some of my followers here don’t really care about video games that much, and that is fine. But I just wanna take a second to talk about my favorite song that was made for one of my favorite games. Today we are talking about “Tears” from Max Payne 3.
In the third Max Payne game, our endearingly moody Max (voiced by James McCaffrey) is at the lowest point he’s ever been, but he get a new chance at life when he gets hired by a Brazilian businessman to be the bodyguard of his family. Max’s journey will lead him through hell and back, from the alleys of New Jersey to the favelas of Rio de Janeiro. Near the end of the game, Max has tracked down the person responsible for so much of the trouble he’s gone through, which has led him to a Brazilian airport. Max finds himself in the airport lobby, heavily armed bad guys all around. While giving up would be easy, Max knows he has to give it one more push if he wants to stop the big bad guy. Max sprints out of cover and the music starts blasting. The score for the game was composed by American noise rock band HEALTH (yes, the capitalization is part of the band’s name), who created a score that evokes the dark moodiness of the series while also adding their own flavor to it. And “Tears” is their masterpiece (for me at least) in that regard. A heavy track with a driving beat, perfectly suited for the “one more push” feel of the scene it plays in. But it also has lyrics that are a direct reference to the character himself. Many have interpreted it as Max’s long dead wife and daughter telling him to finally let them go and find his own path. And looking at the lyrics, that seems very likely. So long, Max has been stuck in the guilt of losing his family at the start of the first game, and finally it seems like he’s able to move on. It’s beautiful, poetic even. And when encased within the heavy and driving noise rock beat, it creates a unique musical feel and makes for one of the most memorable parts in any game I’ve ever played.  And even discounting the game for a second, I just love the song. It is very clearly not for everyone, but I absolutely adore it and wanted to talk about it today.

Have a good one and enjoy.