Archive for the Thrillers/Mystery Category

The Sixth Sense

Posted in Movie Reviews, Thrillers/Mystery with tags , , , , , , , , on February 9, 2018 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

In this chilling psychological thriller, eight-year-old Cole Sear is haunted by a dark secret: He is visited by ghosts. A helpless and reluctant channel, Cole is terrified by threatening visitations from those with unresolved problems who appear from the shadows. Confused by his paranormal powers, Cole is too young to understand his purpose and too terrified to tell anyone about his torment, except child psychologist Dr. Malcolm Crowe. As Dr. Crowe tries to uncover the ominous truth about Cole’s supernatural abilities, the consequence for client and therapist is a jolt that awakens them both to something harrowing — and unexplainable.

What people are saying:

“M. Night Shayamalan’s The Sixth Sense is a twisty ghost story with all the style of a classical Hollywood picture, but all the chills of a modern horror flick” 3 1/2 stars

“M Night Shyamalan has fashioned a modern classic here, a chilly, intelligent, emotional ghost story that relies not on the obligatory gore and knifeplay for its many shocks but on glimpses of an afterlife that’s anything but angels and harps.” 5 stars

“Everyone raves about the twist ending in this movie and how it is so unpredictable. For me it was the exact opposite, the ending was exactly how I predicted it (Like all Shyamalan films). This didn’t detract from the story in any way, in fact I think it added to it. There are subtle yet obvious clues throughout which cause me to be surprised at all the people that couldn’t see the ending coming. All that aside, this is a fantastic movie and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys psychological thrillers with “twist” endings.” 5 stars

“Refreshing to see a 2-HR movie for a change without 30 minutes of filler. Haley Joel Osmet was very good. Twist at end surprised me, which earns it points. See too many movies to be surprised very often. This was good, but not Best Picture fodder. It was not better than The Talented Mr. Riley. Guess it was the box office talking. Also not better than The Hurricane.”

“With fantastically scary moments and an amazingly well done double-twist ending, it’s hard to top the horror of Sixth Sense… regardless of your feeling for M. Night Shyamalan. Though many dislike his movies, this one is masterfully plotted, suspenseful and emotionally powerful. Perhaps most impressive about this 1990s horror classic is it’s thought provoking take on the afterlife, a realistic depth not typically seen in the genre. Well acted and intellectually scary, this is one horror film most will love.” 4 stars

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The Canyons

Posted in Drama, Movie Reviews, Thrillers/Mystery with tags , , , , , , on January 4, 2018 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

While calculating young movie producer Christian makes films to keep his trust fund intact, his actress girlfriend, Tara, hides an affair. But a chance meeting thrusts them into a violent, sexually charged tour through the dark side of human nature.

What people are saying:

“Film noir, absolutely, although in mix of styles that mainly go back to the eighties Michael Mann movies. I don’t understand why anyone would be complaining about the acting, it’s minimal with a dash of natural. The awkward conversations could have done with a slower pace. S*x is the currency of power and trust is the currency of love of what people believe it is. That’s as far as this film goes thematically, it’s neither superficial nor deeply layered. The film starts and ends with shots of derelict abandoned places, like cinema theaters. The world as a rotten stage, and people playing sad parts. And still, this is a chill film, for when you don’t need to remember what you were watching the night before. ” 3 stars

“A tale of young, vapid, sexually insatiable Z-listers in Hollywood had the credentials to be deliciously awful fun but almost every time something tawdry (and potentially interesting) is about to happen, the film pulls its punches and leaves the action.” 3 stars

“This film was doomed from the start when they cast James Deen in the lead part as some kind of cool tough guy when he comes across as a wimp and a geek. He looks a lot like Anthony Weiner former politician from New York. Face the facts the only reason anyone rented this film is because they were told they would see Lohan nude. The most shocking thing about this film is that Paul Schrader directed it, why? This is really a story about nothing!” 1 star

“A perfect depiction of the underbelly of the entertainment industry & Hollywood. Actors doing anything for work, people saying they’ll do something when they never actually do…boring, sad, disturbing, and dull are the elements The Canyons combines perfectly into a raw and deeply meaningful film. Also, the best performance Lindsay Lohan has ever had. She’s better in this than in The Parent Trap, I’m not kidding.” 5 stars

“This fecal lump came & went out of circulation quickly and quietly, like a phart in an elevator. “James Deen” is cast strictly for “let’s get an Adult-film dude to give us some street cred” and he does the same eyebrow-lift & smirk schtick that got him a following among emotionally stunted hairy-palm dudes, which he learned at the Sasha Grey Academy of Fake Cool, and Lohan looks one OD away from the pearly gates. And that’s the good news. The script and acting are stillborn on the operating table. Schraeder’s got a track record that can afford him some mistakes, but this one will forever loom the largest and fetid on his resume’.” 1 star

The Third Man

Posted in Classics, Drama, Movie Reviews, Thrillers/Mystery with tags , , , , on September 26, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

American writer, Holly Martins, arrives in post-war Vienna to visit his old friend Harry Lime. On arrival, he learns that his friend has been killed in a street accident, but also that Lime was a black marketer wanted by the police.

What people are saying:

“…an exemplary piece of moviemaking, highlighting the ruins of World War II and juxtaposing it with the characters’ own damaged histories” 4 stars

“A lot funnier than you remember it, Carol Reed’s immortal 1949 film noir seems to exist in the space between two worlds: an earlier time when thrillers were mostly serious affairs, and a future one, when such supremely witty entertainments felt passé.” 5 stars

“Boasted tremendously by a great performance from Orson Welles, The Third Man is an entertaining classic with some cool twists and turns, even though a well-verse modern film fan will find those twists to be extremely predictable.” 4 stars

“The Third Man is one of the finest noir mysteries to come out of the ’40s, however it suffers a bit from its imitators and you’ll be able to predict the big reveal LONG before it arrives. The film stars Joseph Cotten, who I was unfamiliar with, as a pulp fiction writer who travels to Vienna to visit an old friend and is astonished to find that he was accidentally killed a few days prior; or was it murder? The film plays out patiently, as our protagonist begins to dig into what exactly happened to his friend and the mystery elements truly shine, especially when he receives different accounts of what took place in the automobile “accident”. The film also stars Orson Welles as the aforementioned friend, Harry Lime, who receives top billing though he is maybe on-screen for 8 minutes total: which leads into my big problem with this film. Without spoiling too much, the reveal that arrives at about the one hour mark is masterfully done and one of the film’s more iconic scenes, but we’re never given any explanation as to what the motive was and it feels like the filmmakers were trying to be so clever, they didn’t worry about the scenario making sense. The film also incorporates a stringed instrument called a zither to score the music and while I can tell they were going for something unique, the sound is too absurd, especially in the more dramatic scenes, and the music actually sounds identical to the music used in SpongeBob SquarePants! Overall, this is an exceptionally-made film that still holds up today, but there are some questionable moments that stood out to me and it suffers a bit from what’s come out since.” 3 1/2 stars

“Delightful in how it uses the camera and its city to manipulate the viewer’s experience of the story, The Third Man is the height of the cinematic thriller, mainly because it rejects most of what makes a good thriller. Our villain is not exactly frightening and our crimes aren’t exactly disturbing as they are ingenious. In a sense, The Third Man is a tale about someone being forced to acknowledge an inconvenient truth, or a new world or idea. Dazzling music and compelling cinematography aside, really its the films final shot that the viewer will remember. Its the conversations on park rides and the excruciating nature of learning a negative thing about someone that you love and trust.” 4 1/2 stars

The Accountant

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Thrillers/Mystery with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 2, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Christian Wolff (Ben Affleck) is a math savant with more affinity for numbers than people. Behind the cover of a small-town CPA office, he works as a freelance accountant for some of the world’s most dangerous criminal organizations. With the Treasury Department’s Crime Enforcement Division, run by Ray King (J.K. Simmons), starting to close in, Christian takes on a legitimate client: a state-of-the-art robotics company where an accounting clerk (Anna Kendrick) has discovered a discrepancy involving millions of dollars. But as Christian uncooks the books and gets closer to the truth, it is the body count that starts to rise.

What people are saying:

“It’s transparent in its attempt both to pimp a future franchise and give autistic kids their own superhero. There’s a genuine sweetness to the latter that converts me on the former. Headshots, math problems, and pained social interactions? Sign me up. Of the two movies Ben Affleck has been in so far this year, The Accountant and Batman V Superman, The Accountant has by far the most franchise potential” 4 stars

“The Accountant should be a straight-ahead thriller, but the film keeps tripping over its own incompetent feet. Maybe it was made for adults, but it sure doesn’t feel like it was made by them.” 3 stars

“It’s not that often a great story gets translated into a classy script and then benefits from top level acting. Thankfully this film manages to do all that and more. The unique story line combined with some excellent acting and action scenes is a triumph and is not just for those who crave some realistic looking action. Ben Affleck does a great job and makes the unusually talented and afflicted ‘Accountant’ believable. After this performance Ben Affleck must surely be at the top of the list to play ‘007’.” 5 stars

“This movie was sooooooo predictable and terrible. It rips off elements from “Jack Reacher”, “Rain Man” and “Grosse Point Blank”. All three of those movies are way better than this piece of turd. I think the PC crowd want to portray this movie as “inspiring” and about “family” or some other B.S. The movie has a message that autistic people have can live a productive life in a manner of a “normal” person. Meaning, we (the non-autistic people) just mis-understand the very special autistic folks. It’s the same formula as you have seen a hundred times. The Accountant is killing the bad folks for the greater good, but he is not an official law enforcement agent. He has to do things secretly, but with the covert help of a couple of legitimate treasury agents. Sound familiar? Kind of like Batman and Commissioner Gordon. (I did that on purpose btw.) Believe me, I “get” this movie. Wooden acting, (exception: J.K. Simmons) stupid, predictable story, and very slow pace. It’s pure garbage. I just read they are going to make “The Accountant 2″ as well. I guess it’s true, you can’t fix stupid” 1 star

“I thought the film did an excellent job of developing and explaining Ben Afflecks character. I also enjoyed the duplicity of his autism and the fighting skills that his father imbued in him and later how he learned to cope with these abilities / disabilities in adult life (quite the paradox). From personal experience: I know that autistic people have a skill sets, its finding it and making it useful too themselves and society that’s difficult. Too many times these people are written off because they are different than normal expectations and thats kinda of the bottom line of this movie. The previous reviewer is a good example of the herd mentality of people that just don’t get it and never will. (Small people with even smaller minds). I also enjoyed his marksmanship skills with a 50BMG Barret rifle, the one mile shots at cantaloupes and how he took out a pickup truck with it by shooting a hole in the engine block, no doubt also inspired by his Army father. In summary this movie is imperfect by design so that only enlightened people will appreciate and get it.” 5 stars

The Equalizer

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Thrillers/Mystery with tags , , , , , , , on January 20, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

In this action-thriller based on the hit 1980s TV series, former intelligence operative Robert McCall comes out of retirement to help a young prostitute, only to end up in the Russian Mafia’s crosshairs.

What people are saying:

“great, bloody action. it’s always fun to watch Washington get revenge Man-on-fire style. the villain did a great job, Washington did a great job, fight scenes were great, the music was horrible, the ending was too far fetched. over all it was fun entertaining film, but it was nothing g too special” 3 1/2 stars

“Extremely everything you think it will be; extremely violent, extremely clique, extremely predictably ……BUT extremely AWESOME! We loved it! I have noticed that the critics either love it of hate it and I agree that is how it will be with most people. So here goes my opinion. I think in places The Equilizer seems a bit slow at the beginning (better said, it is methodical), but when it takes off it is like a rocket. Make no mistakes this is a extremely violent, vulgar language revenge film . For those who care there is no nudity just a few racy pictures. To say too much about the plot would give too many spoilers. So I’ll just put it this way…If the movie “TAKEN” and the comic “The Punisher” had a child it would be The Equilizer.” 4 stars

“I really did not like this particular Denzel movie and I am a fan. the script was mediocre, the story line- predictable and altogether boring. I love action and it had a lot of it. I like Antoine Fuqua films however, this must have been part of his contract for X amount of films as this one was lackluster and pretty meaningless.” 2 stars

“oh snap! Liam Neeson can suck it Denzel is the man to be! this movie blew away my expectations. it was a little slow in the beginning but with enough pay off that I very much enjoyed it.” 4 stars

“Much more that simply an action film, I particularly liked the character development of Mr. Washington that encouraged viewing him as a real person, most likely an insomniac due to his regrets over performing his former duties as obviously a government agent of some type, who had gone back to a somewhat “normal” life, and was anything but a robotic killer bent upon avenging those abused by the Russian “mafia.” All told, it was a well-told tale and, though violent, occurred in the “formerly” violent world inhabited by his “former” self. A very good portrayal by a very good actor surrounded by all types of likewise good actors, and very well directed. ” 4 stars

Lucy

Posted in Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Thrillers/Mystery with tags , , , , on January 10, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

In this action-thriller set in Taiwan, a young woman forced to become a drug mule for the mob develops superhuman abilities when the narcotics she’s carrying in her stomach accidentally leak into her system.

What people are saying:

“A sci-fi movie that explores the potential of the other 90% of the human brain. It does get a little overwhelming towards the end but that’s the whole point isn’t it?” 4 stars

“Lucy is a combination of science fiction – i.e. what happens if we can use all our brain’s capacity, and hot chick action hero. While I may not remember the details of the movie in a few years time, it was fun to watch for 90 minutes” 3 stars

“Lucy attempts to captivate it’s audience with a pseudo-intellectual premise, fun action, and playful-to-thoughtprovoking imagery. Unfortunately it comes up short on all fronts. The premise isn’t bad, but the whole movie focuses on it and analyzes it heavily. It would be like X-men spending an hour making mutant powers seem plausible instead of moving onto a more clever story after establishing it’s premise. The action isn’t filmed poorly, but it’s completely devoid of suspense. Also, some creative “wild” imagery starts out by adding some flare to the presentation, but that fades away and we get tedious special effects later that are not nearly as thought provoking as they want to be” 2 stars

“Mary-Sue, anyone? She’s pretty but LOOK OUT!…… she’s deadly as well! Scarlett does a decent job at the start of the movie, portraying a drug runner caught up in events beyond her control. Then, the movie turns into a feminist fantasy about being super smart and strong (without the dong). There’s no nudity, so don’t bother fast-forwarding. The CGI at the end of the movie is so common by now, I’m starting to think it’s the default animation setting when you buy the software.” 2 stars

“Nothing about this movie made any sense: – That is not how the brain works. – That is not how embryonic development works. – That is not how learning works. – The flow and plot was incoherent. – Lucy completely lacked character and became a toneless, emotionless, cold-hearted killer once she became amped up. I was almost completely unable to empathize with her. – That is not how the brain works!! Two starts because the CGI and the action were fun to look at.” 2 stars

To Catch a Thief

Posted in Classics, Movie Reviews, Romantic, Thrillers/Mystery with tags , , , , , , , on September 20, 2016 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

John Robie (Cary Grant) is a retired infamous jewel thief or “cat burglar”, nicknamed “The Cat”, who now lives in a hilltop villa in the French Riviera growing grapes and flowers. The modus operandi of a recent series of robberies leads the police to believe that Robie is active again; they attempt to arrest him, but he gives them the slip.

Robie visits a restaurant. The staff are his old gang from his French Resistance days, paroled based on patriotic war work as long as they keep clean. Bertani, Foussard, and the others blame Robie, because they are currently all under suspicion while the new Cat is active. Still, when the police arrive at Bertani’s restaurant, Foussard’s teenage daughter Danielle (Brigitte Auber), who has a crush on Robie, spirits him to safety.

Robie can prove his innocence if he can catch the new Cat in the act. He enlists the aid of an insurance man, H. H. Hughson (John Williams), who reluctantly obtains a list of the most expensive jewelry owners currently on the Riviera. Widow Jessie Stevens (Jessie Royce Landis) and her daughter Frances (Grace Kelly) top the list. Robie strikes up a friendship with them. Jessie’s delighted but Frances offers a pretense of modesty. When Robie and Frances run into Danielle at the beach, Robie keeps up the mask of being a wealthy American tourist, despite Danielle’s jealous barbs about his interest in Frances.

Frances sees through Robie’s cover as an American industrialist. She seduces him, dangling before him her jewels, teases him with steamy tales of rooftop escapades, and offers herself as an accomplice who might share his crimes. Fireworks fill the night sky.

The next morning, Jessie discovers her jewels are gone. Robie is accused by Frances of being merely a distraction so he could steal her mother’s jewelry. The police are called, but Robie has disappeared.

To catch the new Cat, Robie stakes out an estate at night. He struggles with an attacker, who loses his footing and tumbles over a cliff. It is Foussard, who dies in the fall. The police chief publicly announces that Foussard was the jewel thief, but, as Robie points out privately in the presence of the abashed Hughson, this would have been impossible because Foussard had a wooden leg, and could not climb on rooftops.

Foussard’s funeral is marred by Danielle’s loud accusation that Robie is responsible for her father’s death. Outside the graveyard, Frances apologizes to Robie and confesses her love. Robie needs to continue his search for the Cat. He asks Frances to arrange his attendance at the masquerade ball the coming weekend, when he believes the Cat will strike again.

At the ball, Frances is resplendent in a gold gown, Robie unrecognizable behind the mask of a Moor. The police hover nearby. Upstairs, the cat burglar silently cleans out several jewel boxes. When Jessie asks the Moor to go get her “heart pills”, Robie’s voice tips off his identity to the authorities. Upon his return, the police wait out Frances and the Moor as they dance together all night. Finally, Frances and the Moor go to her room, and the mask is removed: it was Hughson, a switch to conceal Robie’s exit.

On the rooftop Robie lurks. His patience is finally rewarded when he is joined by another figure in black. But just as his pursuit begins, the police throw a spotlight on him and demand he halt. He flees as they shoot at him, but he manages to corner his foe with jewels in hand. Unmasked, his nemesis turns out to be Foussard’s daughter, Danielle. She slips off the roof, but Robie grabs her hand before she can fall. He forces her to confess loudly to the police of the father-daughter involvement, and that Bertani was the ringleader of this gang.

Robie speeds back to his villa, and Frances races after to convince him that she has a place in his life and home. He agrees, but seems less than thrilled when she says her mother will live with them

REVIEW:

One of the films that has been sitting in my Netflix queue for quite some time now is To Catch a Thief. Why did I put it off? Well, at the time when I was originally going to watch it, I noticed that I had viewed a slew of Cary Grant films and wanted a break. News to me is the fact that this is a Hitchcock film. Does it stand up to the other classics in his library? Let’s find out.

What is this about?

Suspected in a series of gem heists in the French Riviera, reformed thief John Robie sets out to catch the real culprit with the help of pampered heiress Frances Stevens. Robie’s plan backfires, but Frances, who believes him guilty, plots an escape.

What did I like?

Location. Ever look around where you live and wonder what it would be like to live in an exotic location of some sort? I tend to do that quite often. For me scenery plays a big part in how effective a film is or isn’t. For instance, the rich people in this film wouldn’t be hanging around some stuffy hotel just anywhere when they could have jetted off to the French Riviera, a truly beautiful location. I found myself getting distracted from the actual film and just watching the background.

Cat-man. When was the last time we heard of a man being called “the cat”? It seems since the character of Catwoman has been growing and growing in popularity we don’t get this anymore. Cary Grant as the retired, world famous cat burglar, “the Cat” is his usual suave, sophisticated persona that we have all grown to love, but with a bit of a sarcastic edge to him that I really enjoyed.

Style, elegance, and Grace. What a beauty Grace Kelly was! They should have cast her as Helen of Troy in one of those moves about that era that came out during her day. Aside from her looks, Princess Grace has a commanding screen presence and is able to go toe to toe with Cary Grant, one of Hollywood’s heavy hitters, and not back down. I was expecting her to be just eye candy or the damsel in distress, but instead it turns out that she is a fully fleshed out character, which I enjoyed more than expected.

What didn’t I like?

What a twist! I won’t spoil the ending, but it should be said that the twist was nice, but ineffective. I say this because it is almost crystal clear who was actually behind the crimes more and more as the movie went along. I would have preferred to be surprised with the revelation. Instead, I felt a sense of the “ho-hums”.

Music. Films today have soundtracks that consist mostly of popular songs, a few lines from the film, and maybe a couple of orchestral excerpts from the score. Back in the day, though, the music was the thing that helped sell a lot of the films. Think about Psycho and how different that shower scene would be without the shockingly effective score of Bernard Herrmann. I wish this film would have had something memorable like that, even if it is just a theme in the score that could easily be hummed along, but it doesn’t. Truth be told, the music for this suspense film is rather forgettable.

English…do you speak it? Unless I missed something, Cary Grant is playing an American who goes to England and then retires to the French Riviera. So, how is it this American talks with a perfect British accent? For that matter, how is it everyone else speaks with their native tongue, as it were, but he has to fake his accent, or whatever it is he’s supposed to be doing, for this character? I don’t know, maybe I’m making too much out of nothing, but something about that really bugged me.

Final verdict on To Catch a Thief? Surprisingly, this is a fairly light hearted thriller from Alfred Hitchcock. In the first few minutes, I thought this was going to be a romantic comedy. That said, I found nothing but enjoyment watching. All the performances were great, the story is well thought out and executed, and there is beautiful scenery all around. The few gripes I have with this picture are minor and shouldn’t keep anyone from watching this classic masterpiece. Do I recommend it? Yes, very highly!

4 1/2 out of 5 stars