Movie Review: Texas Killing Fields (2011)

Murder is bad. Don’t do it.

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 gents… “Texas Killing Fields”.

Brian Heigh (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and Mike Souder (Sam Worthington) are a pair of detectives investigating a series of unsolved murders in Texas. So we follow them as they try to untangle this web of who and why. So now we have our crime-drama. And is the plot here any good? The premise is actually quite intriguing, but the execution is quite average. It’s not bad, with the initial setup being good and some pretty solid moments being spread throughout, but overall it doesn’t do a whole lot to stand out from other thrillers out there. I can say though that I wasn’t ever bored… I just never found myself fully invested in the story of this movie. It’s just… fine.

The characters here are surprisingly layered and interesting. Sure, they’re not the deepest ponds in the county, but I was genuinely surprised at how interested I was in them. Jeffrey Dean Morgan plays Brian Heigh, a New York detective who had been transferred down to Texas to work with them. He’s a tough but caring man, being what you’d probably call “good cop” in an interrogation. And Morgan is great in the role. Sam Worthington plays Mike Souder, a local Texas cop who is Heigh’s partner in this investigation. He’s a bit of a short-fused asshole, and the “bad cop” of the two. And I have to say that Worthington was good in the role. The two also share some okay chemistry, not Riggs & Murtaugh levels of chemistry, but they do work pretty well together. Jessica Chastain plays another detective in this movie, though working in a different precinct, and she’s really good in the role. Chloë Grace Moretz plays a young girl named Ann. She’s neglected by her mom and she in general doesn’t seem to have a great life. But she’s pretty interesting and Moretz is really good in the role. You also get some solid supporting performances from people like Jason Clarke, Annabeth Gish, Sheryl Lee, and Stephen Graham. So yeah, this is a well acted movie.

The score was composed by Dickon Hinchliffe and I have mixed feelings about it. There are tracks in it that are very atmospheric, adding to the scenes they’re used in, perfectly fitting the setting. Then there are also tracks that feel out of place, sounding like something you’d hear in an episode of “Justified”. And while that isn’t an inherently bad thing, it just sounds a bit off in this movie. I’ll at least give the score this: It heavily features acoustic guitar, which is something I always enjoy hearing. But yeah, overall the score here is… mixed.

This movie was directed by Ami Canaan Mann, daughter of Michael Mann. And I think she did a pretty good job here. There’s a good amount of solid camera work here, and some overall neat visuals at times. There are also a couple of mediocrely directed moments, mainly stuff that is shot in the dark where you can’t see shit. But for the most part this movie is well directed. There are also like two, small-ish action scenes in the movie and they were okay, not great, not bad. Mann even man(n)ages to get some pretty good suspense out of a couple of scenes in the movie, which is something I didn’t exactly expect. So the directing here is good. Still, I’m a little bit disappointed, mainly because Danny Boyle was supposed to direct it at one point but then dropped out. Oh well, c’est la vie. Good job, Mann.

This movie hasn’t been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 36% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 49/100. Roger Ebert gave it 2/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 5,7/10.

While “Texas Killing Fields” isn’t a great movie, it’s still a pretty solid rainy day thriller. It has an okay plot, pretty good characters, really good performances, good music, and good directing. Flaws with the movie are that the plot is just fine, and the music being a bit off at times. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Texas Killing Fields” is a 6,99/10. So while quite flawed, it’s still worth a rental.

My review of “Texas Killing Fields” is now completed.

Loosely based on real events.

Movie Review: The Insider (1999)

vlcsnap-2011-11-28-22h49m27s753

Whistleblowing is a topic that has been very relevant these past few years, especially after the whole Snowden ordeal in 2013. For those of you who don’t know, whistleblowing is when you expose secrets about a company or something of that nature that they would like to keep secret. In other words, blowing the whistle on them, hence the name “whistleblowing”. I can give you two examples of well known whistleblowers; Erin Brockovich who blew the whistle on a company that was the reason for people getting sick in a small town in California. And then we have our second example, Edward Snowden who leaked secrets of CIA/NSA spying on regular civlians through the internet as fecently as 2013. Okay, this intro became longer than expected… shit.

Ladies and gentlemen… “The Insider”.

In this movie we follow real life whistleblower Jeffrey Wigand (Russell Crowe) who was convinced by producer/journalist Lowell Bergman (Al Pacino) to go on the show “60 Minutes” and give confidential details and expose a huge tobacco industry. And from that we get an excellent plot. The plot is filled with fantastic suspense and drama that keeps you on the edge through the entire 2 hours and 37 minute runtime. While some events have been fictionalized for dramatic effect, most of it is actually accurate. But the blend of the real and the fictional is so fantastic that it will keep you guessing which is which. And that is what I loved about the plot, the seamless combination of real and fake, suspense and drama.

The characters in this movie are all compelling, fleshed out and feel like real people. And the actors in the movie do great jobs as them. This is definitely one of the best performances I have ever seen from Russell Crowe, he is excellent in this movie. He shows a lot of emotions in the movie and he has a bunch of little nuances that enhance his performance a lot. And Al Pacino was also great in this movie as Lowell Bergman. This is what I would call one of his more “quiet” performances. Don’t get me wrong, he does some shouting in the movie, but not as much as in a lot of movies. He is definitely less over-the-top and shout-y than in Michael Mann’s previous film “Heat”. Remember Pacino in “Heat” and his “great ass” monologue? Yeah, it was weird.
tumblr_m898tu8hEZ1qj4wsi

The score for the movie was done by Lisa Gerrard and Pieter Bourke with a few tracks respectively by Graeme Revell, Gustavo Santaolalla (yay!), Jan Garbarek and Massive Attack. And despite there being so many different composers/artists working on the soundtrack it all feels very cohesive and not messy at all. All tracks come together to create a very atmospheric and suspense building soundtrack that helps the movie keep you on the edge of your chair/couch/floor/great ass.

This movie was directed by Michael Mann and it shows because this movie is dark, gritty and it all got a great tone. And the cinematography by Dante Spinotti is just as gritty as the overall direction and is therefore fantastic. The shots all look great and it manages to make the movie feel much more tense than if you had used any other director/cinematographer. Also, if you watch this, be prepared with a lot of popcorn and drinks because it is a long movie. Sure, “Heat” is even longer, but “The Insider” is still really long… so make sure you are loaded up on snacks and such. But I guess some of you take that as a challenge with the reaction of:
tumblr_miwmcwmMRP1rylr5to1_400

This movie has been very well-received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 96% positive rating with a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 84/100. Roger Ebert gave the movie 3,5/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,9/10. The movie was also nominated for 7 Oscars in the categories of Best picture, Best Actor (Crowe), Best director, Best adapted screenplay, Best cinematography, Best film editing and Best sound. 

“The Insider” is a suspenseful and dramatic corporate thriller with and excellent plot, terrific acting/character, great music, excellent direction/cinematography and some terrific writing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Insider” is a 9,87/10. It definitely gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.
Seal of Approval

“The Insider” is reviewed.

Two days in a row that I have reviewed a movie with “Inside” in the title… strange.

 

Movie Review: Blackhat (2015)

1280x720-Eno

After over a week of abscence, movie reviews are back! And this time it is for a movie that I have been genuinely excited about for quite a while. Some of you might remember that I put the movie in my “Most Anticipated Movies of 2015” list… on third place to be completely honest. And now it is finally time to review it.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Blackhat”.

In this movie a cyber terrorist is blowing up nuclear plants around the world which brings together an American and a Chinsese agency to try to stop him, but they apparently can’t do jack-shit by themselves. So they bring out hacker Nick Hathaway (Chris Hemsworth) from prison to help them find and take down this cyber terrorist. There is also a romance side-plot involving Hathaway and one of his partners in this adventure. Problem is that none of these plots work very well. There was some excellent potential in the plot for the movie, but it isn’t that interesting. I wouldn’t say that the main plot is bad, but I would say that it isn’t as interesting as it could have been. And the romance side-plot… I didn’t fucking buy into it. It was like “Hey, we just met… want to get unrealistically romantically involved?”. I’m sorry, but that is basically what it was. They met and somehow they fell in love despite it being practically impossible. Hathaway probably just did it because she was the first hot woman he’d seen in quite some time (since he’s been in jail) and his hormones said “Dude, hot chick!”. And she fell in love with him because he’s Chris Hemsworth and I am over-analyzing this way too much! Plot overall was… meh.

The characters in this movie are really dull. And I don’t think it is because of the actors, because this movie got a very talented cast including Chris Hemsworth and Viola Davis, two great actors. The reason all characters are less interesting than slices of white bread is because of the script which if you listen/look closely is pretty bad. Chris Hemsworth is the only somewhat interesting character in this movie because Hemsworth is an actor with an excellent screen presence, he is also generally likeable. But he is still just like I said, a piece of sliced white bread… pretty boring. Also, when does a hacker have time for a five hour gym routine… fucking never, that’s when! Hacking takes time, patience and concentration, it’s not as simple as in “Watch Dogs” where you just click a button and shit happens! *Deep breath* I am over-analyzing again… clam down Markus, it’s just a dumb action movie.

Here is at least a smoewhat redeaming factor, the music in the movie is genuinely good. It is a mix of different artists and composers to create a very mixed soundtrack that help convey some form of emotion despite the script being devoid of any emotion (shots fired?). However there is no real “Original Score” for the movie. There was supposed to be one done by Harry Gregson-Williams and Atticus Ross (Sidenote: I am intrigued by this, please let me listen to it) but it was ultimately scrapped by director Michael Mann for his typical mixed bag of music. And even though I am a little disappointed that we didn’t get to hear that probably great original score, the soundtrack we got was actually pretty great.

Like I mentioned a second ago, this movie was directed by Michael Mann who I am a fan of. I mean, “Heat” and “Collateral”, anyone? Anyway, he directed this movie and once again he has made a very well-directed and pretty unique looking movie. He uses his typical handheld camera style which makes a gritty and real feeling that I love. Again, like “Collateral”. And when a shootout happens, shit gets real! Whenever a shootout in a Michael Mann movie happens it actually feels real, the sound design feels so genuine that it immerses you into the scene and makes you feel like you’re a part of it. There is also a pretty cool hand-to-hand fight scene in a restaurant that I liked. But then we have a type of scene which just didn’t mesh very well with the gritty and handheld Mann style; and that is when they have a camera go through a computer-generated image of the inside of a computer (Computer-ception?). Those scenes look too polished and symmetrical and CGI-ish to actually work well together with the rest of the movie. They just feel distracting. Well… at least the shootouts are awesome.

This movie has not been very well-received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 34% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 51/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 5,4/10.

“Blackhat” is a bit of a fucking mess. It has a meh plot, boring characters, great music, fantastic direction (except for the CGI computer scenes) and some awesome action. It is such a mixed bag that it took me a while to figure out what to say about it. But I finally figured it out and now it’s time for my final score. Got a mail from Jeff. Oh, it’s my final score… guess he’s going digital. *Prints out score* *Computer dies* What the hell? Did he send me a virus? That bastard! My final score for “Blackhat” is a 6,42/10. I’d say that it’s worth renting.
Rent it

Review of “Blackhat” is completed.

Here is a better name for the movie that I found online: “Beefcake Supernerd”.

 

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!

tom_cruise_jamie_foxx_collateral_wallpaper_-_1366x768

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: Collateral (2004)

Image

Don’t we all just love thrillers? No? Then what kind of person are you if you don’t like thrillers. They usually are suspenseful and just create some really interesting scenarios. And right now I am mainly focusing on crime thrillers. Not like…action-thriller even though a lot of crime thrillers have action in them. And today we are taking a look at one such movie. A movie that a lot of people seem to like. I mean, it has to be liked since it got two Oscar nominations.

Ladies and gentlemen, from the Director of the excellent movie “Heat”…”Collateral”.

This movie follows a cab driver named Max (Jamie Foxx). He has a dream to one day make enough money to start up a luxurious limousine company. And he believes he can achieve this dream since he basically is the best at this job. Even though the traffic of L.A can be a bitch. One night he meets prosecutor Annie (Jada Pinkett Smith). They make a little bet. The bet is that if Max can get her to her destination faster than her originally intended way…that’s it really. But if he’d lose, the cab fare would be free. And he wins…so she appararently gives him her number. Oh, and they had some generally good conversation in the car about the fastest ways around. After he had dropped her off, a business man named Vincent (Tom Cruise) enters the cab and offers Max 600 dollars cash to take him to five different destiantions and wait for him at each. Max agrees to it. What he doesn’t know though is that the “business” Vincent is up to is assassinating some people. When Max finds out about this, Vincent pretty much threatens his life. So their journey of getting these people killed starts. There is also an LAPD cop named Fanning (Mark Ruffalo) getting clues about these murders…without all the details of course. And he is on the pursuit after the killer (A.K.A Vincent). Now the story is something that I adore about this movie! It is not only well written, it’s also incredibly suspenseful. The way all characters interact with each other is just so great. Especially the little relationship between Max and Vincent. They are not just like “Killer and Victim”, they manage to find some kind of respect for one another. This story is airtight. It never gets boring, not at any time…something is always going on! I love it!

The characters are fucking sweet. They have a good amount of layers to them. Most of this comes from the fantastic performances in this movie. I especially love the character of Vincent. Tom Cruise delivers a cold, calculating and develops fantastically through the movie. He is not just this “Do as I say or I’ll fucking kill you!”. He is one of the most complex killers and honestly characters in general in recent media. And most of that is coming from the cold and amazing performance of Tom Cruise. This is probably the best I’ve ever seen from him. Jamie Foxx as Max was also incredibly good…hell, he was Oscar nominated for it. So yeah, great characters.

The soundtrack…oh my god, the soundtrack. It is so damn good. There are a few original tracks, that are incredibly good I have to say. But for the most part the soundtrack is licensed songs, but that is not necessarily a bad thing as long as the songs are good. And here in “Collateral” they are great. They all fit the settings in this movie like downtown L.A, slums, night clubs etc. I really like this soundtrack.

This movie looks like it was filmed in a handheld way. And by that I mean it looks like someone actually held the camera instead of using one of those pole…things. Usually that is not the best idea. But here in “Collateral” it looks fantastic. It really works for everything that this movie is and wants to be. It just fits.

Reception for “Collateral” was overall good. Rotten Tomatoes gave this movie an 86% rating and have given it the “Fresh” ceritfication. Metacritic gave this movie a 71/100 rating. The lovely Roger Ebert gave this a 3,5/4 star rating. Here comes something he said:

This is a rare thriller that’s as much character study as sound and fury.”

Sure, that doesn’t summarize his thoughts all too well, but it works. imdb.com gave this movie the lovely score of 7,6/10.

I have said some things about this movie. And now I will give it my score. “Collateral” gets a 9,6/10. It is a buy and gets the “Seal of Approval”
Image

This has been my review of “Collateral”.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go find a cab and attend to some…”business” matters.

Movie Review: Heat (1995)

Image

Have you also noticed that a lot-ish games contain/are about bank heists? And there are some good ones; Payday, GTA5 and more. But what about movies? I know there are a lot of movies featuring a bank heists, but they are usually the secondary focus (See things like “30 minutes or less”). It is rare to find one where the heist(s) is the prime focus. At least movies that are set in more modern times than westerns. So when I heard about this movie called “Heat”, it pinched my interest a little bit. Especially since it starred both Robert De Niro AND Al Pacino. Oh and Val Kilmer (But I didn’t care too much for Kilmer by the time I heard of this which was before I saw Tombstone). So I finally sat my ass down to watch it. But was it good? Let’s talk about it.

Ladies and gentledicks…Heat.

The story is about a bank heist crew led by a man named Neil McCauley (Robert De Niro). They are the best damned crew in all of Los Angeles. And who knows, maybe even in America? On this team of badasses we have Chris Shiherlis (Val Kilmer), a fucking aced sniper and pony tail wearing badass. Michael Cherrito (Tom Sizemore), I don’t remember his part, I think he was mainly a brute. And there was another guy but I can’t remember/find who he was and who played him, sorry. Anyway, let us continue. On the other side of the law we not only have normal cops. We even have one with a name…Lieutenant Vincent Hanna (Al Pacino). He is basically the one leading the search for the bank robbers that have not only stolen expensive shit, but also killed a few people. There is a slight mind game going on between McCauley and Hanna throughout the game, mostly because of how elusive McCauley is even though Hanna is one of the best at his job. So as the story unfolds, it really shows that it is a really good story filled with plot twists, suspenseful moments and genuine great storytelling. And those things are usually typical for a Michael Mann movie.

So the characters are…well I don’t really want to use a word synonymous to perfect. Because that is not what they are, even though they are fucking awesome. They are flawed…for the most part. But they are so interesting that I don’t mind. But most of the interesting parts come from the fact that they all are so well acted, and I love that shit.

Music is…great. Not perfect, but nothing ever is…mostly. But for what it is and what it does…it’s great. The soundtrack is a nice mix of orchestral instruments for the different types of moments in the movie.

Have to mention the action scenes. They are really fucking good! I love them! That’s all.

The reception for the film was overall pretty good. With scores like 86% on Rotten Tomatoes and 76/100 on Metacritic. And for the first time in a while, I have found a Roger Ebert review on it. And he really liked it. Here is a quote:
“It’s not just an action picture. Above all, the dialogue is complex enough to allow the characters to say what they’re thinking: They are eloquent, insightful, fanciful, poetic when necessary. They’re not trapped with cliches. Of the many imprisonments possible in our world, one of the worst must be to be inarticulate — to be unable to tell another person what you really feel”.

So overall, this movie got good shit going for it. And that is good since that means I am giving it a score of 9,49/10. This movie is worth every dollar/pound/krona/yen that you spend on it. Go buy it. Or rent it. This is probably one of the smartest actions/thrillers ever.

I robbed you of your time with this review (Bank heist pun).

*Sneaking out*