Mr. Deeds

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 12, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Preston Blake, hoping to be a disc jockey as a young man, slowly worked his way up and founded Blake Media, a major corporation running hundreds of television and radio stations with 50,000 employees. After 82-year-old Blake freezes to death on the summit of Mount Everest with a triumphant smile on his face, a search for his heir begins.

It is found that Blake has a living nephew named Longfellow Deeds (Adam Sandler), who runs a pizzeria in New Hampshire and also writes greeting cards in the hopes that Hallmark may be interested in one. Deeds is contacted and brought to New York City by businessman Chuck Cedar (Peter Gallagher), who is temporarily in control of Blake Media. Plans are made for Deeds to sell his shares in the company to Cedar and return home $40 billion richer, but he must remain in New York for a few days while all the legal details are worked out.

The story is major news, and reporter Babe Bennett (Winona Ryder), who works for a tabloid show called Inside Access, has a co-worker pretend to steal her purse in sight of Deeds, because their research indicated that Deeds wanted to meet a girl by “rescuing” her, the same way his father had met his mother. Deeds does so, and beats up her “robber”, and Babe goes out with him under the disguise of Pam Dawson, a school nurse from a made-up town called Winchestertonfieldville, Iowa (which later turns out to be a real town, which Babe is flabbergasted to find out).

Though Babe initially hopes to just get a good story on the new heir, she eventually falls for the unfailingly kind-hearted Deeds, and decides to tell him that she is not who she says she is, but Inside Access, in concert with Cedar (who was fed the truth by the fake robber and was smitten with Babe) reveals it to Deeds first. Heartbroken and upset, Deeds decides to return home to Mandrake Falls and makes plans to donate his $40 billion inheritance to the United Negro College Fund. After returning to Mandrake Falls, he learns from Crazy Eyes (Steve Buscemi) that Cedar intends to sell off the company, which will cause thousands of people to lose their jobs (Cedar had convinced Longfellow to sell his shares by lying that he will work commanding the company in honor of Preston’s lifetime of work). Babe follows Deeds to Mandrake Falls to win him back, but after saving her life when she falls through the ice over a lake, he rejects her, saying he does not really know who she is.

At a shareholders meeting, Cedar has everyone convinced to sell the company, until Deeds (who has bought a single share) arrives and manages to convince everyone not to sell. But Cedar claims control of a majority of the shares and the sale is approved. Bennett arrives and reveals that Blake’s butler, Emilio (John Turturro), is Preston Blake’s illegitimate son and the true heir as a result of a younger Preston having an amorous affair with his maid in 1958 (at one point he had told Deeds that Blake treated him “like a son”). Realizing Emilio is Longfellow’s cousin, Deeds convinces him they must stop Cedar and that he is the rightful CEO. As a result of Emilio supplanting Longfellow as the heir, Deeds’ sale of shares are retracted and Cedar is fired.

Emilio immediately takes control of Blake Media and fires Cedar. Babe then reconciles with and kisses Deeds after professing her love for him. As they leave the meeting, Emilio thanks Deeds for his support and offers him a billion dollars, some of which Deeds spends on red Corvettes for everyone in Mandrake Falls. When he returns to the pizzeria with Babe, he learns that Hallmark is interested in buying one of his greeting cards: the one he wrote for Babe when he professed his love for her. They both share a kiss as the movie ends with Crazy Eyes crashing his Corvette and coming out unharmed.

REVIEW:

We’ve all met that one person that just seems to be “too good to be true”. Some of us may even be that person, as a matter of fact. Well, Mr. Deeds has Adam Sandler playing a character in that vein, rather than a manchild, but does it work?

What is this about?

After inheriting a media empire, humble Longfellow Deeds moves to the Big Apple — where a reporter and a company bigwig are waiting to pounce on him.

What did I like?

Different shade of Sandler. I don’t know when it happened, but somewhere along the line people became divided on Adam Sandler and his movies. There are those like me who love them because they allow one’s brain to just turn off for a couple of hours and then there are those that want him to do more serious, thought-provoking stuff. Well, Longfellow Deeds appeals to both audiences, but the film itself seems to step more in line with what the latter group wants. Is this “different” Sandler good? I can’t really answer that question, but it is nice to see him do something a little more subdued that what we had been seeing from him up to this point.

Butler. John Turturro isn’t exactly known as a serious actor, but he also isn’t the first person you call when casting a comedy, either. As the butler in this film, I feel he really had a chance to shine, though. A character that has a long line of quirks, as well as a sense of loyalty typically found in butler characters, but not quite a sidekick, is what Deeds needed.

Tone. Aside from the film’s opening, which I will touch on shortly, this is a film that strikes a good balance of silly, drama, and a hint of romantic comedy. Who knew that Sandler was capable of making a film that could accomplish that, right? While I am a fan of the goofier moments, such as Sandler beating a guy nearly to death, or his frostbitten foot, I can understand why some prefer more subdued moments such as when Sandler is on a date with Wynona Ryder’s character.

What didn’t I like?

Attitude toward small town life. Being a military brat, I bounced around a lot growing up, but one of the places that I stayed the longest and have adopted as one of my hometowns (Ft. Worth will always be #1, though), is a small town, perhaps a bit bigger than the places in this film, but the same principles apply. For some reason, this film takes small town life and decides to skewer it. At first, I thought it was just a nice little joke and then we get to Ryder’s “hometown” and I don’t know something just didn’t feel right. Couple that with the way there was a constant reminder of how Sandler’s small town ways weren’t fitting in in the big city and I just wasn’t a fan. Surely they could have done better, right?

Dark beginning. For such a light film, this sure does start dark. Deeds’ great-uncle dies on the top of a mountain…on TV! In some ways, this was funny, but in another light, one has to wonder what kind of sick person would get their jollies off of seeing someone perish on a cold mountaintop. For me, while it set up the plot, it just seemed to be too much. There was just no need for us to see the man die, I’m sorry.

Remake. As has been stated by me many a time on this blog and other places, I hate remakes! There are a few exceptions to this rule, though. The Magnificent Seven, for instance, but that’s a one in a million film. I have not seen the original film that this was based on, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town. However, when I do track it down, I get the impression that I will prefer it to this. Why? Well, the cast for one reason. Cary Grant vs. Adam Sandler…no contest, really. Seriously, I just wonder why this had to be a remake.

Final verdict on Mr. Deeds? When I look at the catalog of Sandler’s films, this actually does seem to be one of the better ones, but I think that has more to do with the source material now that I think about it. Also, while I’m thinking about it, how is it that Sandler gets these incredibly hot actresses to play his wife/girlfriend. Last night, I was flipping through and saw Just Go with It, where he was stuck between Jennifer Aniston and Brooklyn Decker. In other films, he has been with Salma Hayek, Drew Barrymore, Kate Beckinsale, and in this film, Wynona Ryder! What is the secret?!? Anyway, do I recommend this? Yes I do. The few issues that I have with this film are more personal qualms than bad filmmaking. Give this a shot! It may change your opinion on Adam Sandler.

4 out of 5 stars

Trailer Thursday 5/7

Posted in Trailer Thursday with tags on May 7, 2015 by Mystery Man

It’s Trailer Thursday!!!

Well, it’s May, so that means the school year is coming to an end, families are finalizing their plans for summer vacations, and the beaches are getting more and more packed by the day. So, let’s go (snow) skiing!

Take a gander at the trailer for Ski Patrol, and let me know what you think.

Avengers: Age of Ultron

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 1, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In the Eastern European country of Sokovia, the Avengers – Tony Stark, Steve Rogers, Thor, Bruce Banner, Natasha Romanoff, and Clint Barton – raid a Hydra outpost led by Baron Wolfgang von Strucker, who has been experimenting on humans using the scepter previously wielded by Loki. They encounter two of Strucker’s experiments – twins Pietro, who has superhuman speed, and Wanda Maximoff, who can manipulate minds and throw energy blasts – and apprehend Strucker, while Stark retrieves Loki’s scepter.

Stark and Banner discover an artificial intelligence within the scepter’s gem, and secretly use it to complete Stark’s “Ultron” global defense program. The unexpectedly sentient Ultron, believing he must eradicate humanity to save Earth, eliminates Stark’s A.I. J.A.R.V.I.S. and attacks the Avengers during a victory party at their headquarters. Escaping with the scepter, Ultron uses the resources in Strucker’s Sokovia base to upgrade his rudimentary body and build an army of robot drones. He recruits the Maximoff twins, who want revenge against Stark for their parents’ deaths from his company’s weapons. Together, they visit the base of arms dealer Ulysses Klaue in an African shipyard to obtain vibranium. The Avengers battle them, but Wanda subdues the heroes with haunting visions, causing the Hulk to run amok and forcing Stark to use his powerful “Veronica” armor to stop him.

A worldwide backlash over the resulting destruction, and the fears Wanda’s hallucinations incited, send the team into hiding at Barton’s safehouse farm, where they meet his wife, Laura, and children. Thor departs to consult with Dr. Erik Selvig on the meaning of the apocalyptic future he saw in his hallucination. Realizing an attraction between them, Romanoff and Banner plan to flee together after fighting Ultron. Nick Fury arrives and encourages the team to form a plan to stop Ultron. In Seoul, South Korea, Ultron forces Banner’s friend Dr. Helen Cho to use her synthetic tissue technology, vibranium, and the scepter’s gem to create the perfect body for him. When Ultron begins uploading himself into the body, Wanda is able to read his mind; discovering his plan for human extinction, the Maximoffs turn on Ultron. Rogers, Romanoff, and Barton hunt Ultron and retrieve the synthetic body, but Ultron captures Romanoff.

The Avengers fight amongst themselves when Stark secretly uploads J.A.R.V.I.S. – who is still operational after hiding from Ultron inside the Internet – into the synthetic body. Thor returns to help activate the body with lightning, explaining that the gem on its brow – the Mind Stone, one of the six Infinity Stones and one of the most powerful objects in existence – was part of his vision. The synthetic being, now referred to as the Vision, and the Maximoffs accompany the Avengers to Sokovia, where Ultron has used the remaining vibranium to build a machine that lifts a large part of the city skyward, intending to crash it into the ground and cause global extinction. As the city begins to lift, Banner rescues Romanoff, who awakens the Hulk for the battle. The Avengers fight Ultron’s army while delaying Ultron from activating his plan’s final procedure. Fury arrives in a Helicarrier with Maria Hill, James Rhodes, and S.H.I.E.L.D. agents to assist in evacuating civilians, but Pietro dies when he shields Barton from a barrage of fire. A grieving Wanda abandons her post to destroy Ultron’s primary body in revenge, inadvertently allowing one of his drones to activate the machine. The landmass plummets, but Stark and Thor overload the machine and shatter the city into pieces. In the aftermath, the Hulk, unwilling to endanger Romanoff by being with her, departs in a Quinjet, while the Vision confronts Ultron’s last remaining body.

Later, the Avengers have established a new base in upstate New York, run by Fury, Hill, Cho, and Selvig. Believing the Mind Stone is safe with the Vision, Thor returns to Asgard to learn more about the forces he suspects have manipulated recent events. As Stark and Barton also retire from the team, Rogers and Romanoff prepare to train new Avengers: Rhodes, Wanda, the Vision, and Sam Wilson.

In a mid-credits scene, Thanos retrieves the Infinity Gauntlet and, dissatisfied with the failures of his pawns, vows to hunt for the Infinity Stones personally

REVIEW:

The film the world has been holding its breath for since its predecessor’s credits started rolling has arrived! Avengers: Age of Ultron is sure to make a ton of bank, but how is the film, really? Is it worth watching, or are people just enamored with the grouping of all these superheroes on the screen? Let’s find out, shall we?

What is this about?

Returning to action to stem another lethal threat to planet Earth, the cadre of superheroes from the original Avengers takes on the evil and all-powerful Ultron, who’s determined to stamp out humankind.

What did I like?

Teamwork. If you will recall from The Avengers, they didn’t really become a team until the end, as that served as more of an origin story…one that had been building for years. Well, since the first film ended, they have apparently formed a more cohesive way of handling things and work as smooth as a basketball team. It is a thing of beauty to see them in action. It really is like seeing the comic brought to life.

Skynet. Ok, let’s get right down to it. What did I think of Ultron? Well, he is menacing to see and in today’s society that is almost 100% reliant on technology, he is one of the best villains around. James Spader’s voice, which I initially questioned when it was announced, actually works for him, though I believe the guy that voiced him in Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes would have done a better job, at least with the soulless, menacing part. I do have some issues with Ultron, but they are more related to changes in his origin (for those not in the know…he was actually built by Ant-Man as a security robot and then went psycho) and his jovial nature. I don’t have an issue with his being more of a jolly fellow, but a slow descent into madness would have benefitted his character greatly, not to mention Spader’s voice would have helped sell it. All in all, though, I was pretty pleased with Ultron as satisfied with him as the film’s main villain.

Scarlett. There was a time when it was believed that Thor could never work properly on the big screen. We were wrong. There was a time when we though Captain America would never work on the big screen. We were wrong. There was a time when it was believed that the X-Men and/or the Avengers on the big screen would never happen. We were wrong. There was a time when it was thought that Scarlett Witch’s powers were too weird and mysterious to work on the big screen. We were wrong. I think they did an excellent job with her hex powers. Elizabeth Olson is a great actress and I am looking forward to seeing what else she does with the character going forward. One thing I do take issue with, though, is where is her horned head thing that she wears? HAHA!

Hulk and Hawkeye. Bruce Banner/The Hulk actually gets a bit more character development this go around. There are hints of a romantic relationship with Black Widow, you can see the torment that Banner deals with knowing the big guy is lurking, and even with the Hulk, you can see things going on his head. I appreciate that. With Hawkeye, in the first 5 minutes, we get more of him than we did in the entire last film. In the climactic battle, he was cracking jokes and shooting arrows. It felt like Hawkeye! No to mention they changed his costume. Now, just give him the hood/mask and we will have achieved perfection.

The return. I geeked out when the Helicarrier took off in the first film. It was comic geek’s dream to see that come to life. In this film, it came back and I was nearly in tears! Such an awesome piece of machinery, how dare they keep it “in storage”, as Nick Fury says. Hopefully we’ll get more of it and other fantastic machines soon.

What didn’t I like?

Baron von Strucker. Baron von Strucker appeared in a post credits scene at the end of Captain America: The Winter Soldier stating something about experimenting on humans or something, but we also got our first look at the twins (who should be mutants, but because Marvel and Fox are fighting like a couple of middle schoolers, they had to work around that). At any rate, this seems like it should have been a plot for a whole film itself or, at the very least, a few episodes of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. What we get instead is the beginning of what feels like something big, only to be ended by Ultron. I almost think that was symbolic of what the film was going to be and what it ended up being. Still, Strucker is a major villain, especially of Captain America. Didn’t he have deserved better?

Vision. Vision is one of the best characters in the Marvel Universe. He is nearly indestructible, has a vast intelligence, and is always adapting. Do I need to mention that he can phase shift at will, meaning that if you try to hit him, at just the right moment he can shift his density so that you go right through him. Sounds awesome, doesn’t he? I think we will get the full awesomeness in future films, but for now, I have to concentrate on the negative. First, the change in origin to make him and Jarvis one. I get the logic behind this, but I don’t think Paul Bettany was the right choice, after all. Maybe it is the paint, but there was just something that I can’t quite put my finger on that I don’t like. Bettany is a competent actor, and I think he was able to pull of the naïve, but highly intelligent aspects of Vision, but something just doesn’t sit right with me about this character. Maybe when I watch the film again, or when I hit publish on this post, it’ll come to me.

Tease. Anyone familiar with the Marvel Universe knows that vibranium comes strictly from Wakkanda. If you know anything about Wakkanda, then you of course know that it is a land ruled by the Black Panther, who will be making his debut in Captain America: Civil War about this time next year. So, what is my problem with all this? Well, Ultron and the Avengers go down to Wakkanda, meet this villain Ulysses Klaue, get some vibranium, fight, Hulk goes on a rampage, and leave. Black Panther is not only a superhero but also king of Wakkanda. Stolen vibranium and 8ft tall rampaging monster are sure to bring about you awareness. This would have been the perfect opportunity to sow the seeds for Panther, if nothing else than a mention, but alas, we didn’t get it.

Blockbuster. I hate to keep comparing this to its predecessor, but it has to be done. The last film was an event. It had action, story, comedy, character development…everything you can ask for in a film. This time around, everything is here, just not as well executed. The feeling I get from this is more akin to that of a Michael Bay film. Lots of action to cover up other weaknesses. This is not the kind of film that necessarily needs a deep story, but it does need something to set up the action and not just jump in. We’re getting to the point now that more is expected and I’m not sure this formula will work in round 3.

Some really good things are on the horizon in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Avengers: Age of Ultron just showed us that we ain’t seen nothin’ yet! Bringing in new blood with the old guys as a way to keep things fresh, though I still could care less about Don Cheadle as War Machine. As far as this film goes, it is a really fun film, albeit slightly darker than its predecessor. It has its flaws, but those are outnumbered by the positives. I will be counting down the years/months/days until the next Avengers, but in the meantime the focus is on the forthcoming Ant-Man to start the next phase in the MCU. So, do I recommend this? Let me put it this way, I will be in line at the store waiting for the boxes of DVD/Blu-rays to be delivered when this is released. So, hell yeah I recommend it! Why are you even reading this, go watch it right now!!!

5 out of 5 stars

Trailer Thursday 4/30

Posted in Trailer Thursday with tags on April 30, 2015 by Mystery Man

It’s Trailer Thursday!!!

Concluding this month’s jazz related trailers is one of my all-time favorite jazz films (I may actually watch this again today), The Five Pennies

Check it out and tell me what you think

The Man with the Golden Arm

Posted in Classics, Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 29, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Frankie Machine (Frank Sinatra) is released from prison with a set of drums and a new outlook on life, and returns to his run down neighborhood on the North Side of Chicago. A heroin addict, Frankie became clean in prison. On the outside, he greets friends and acquaintances. Sparrow (Arnold Stang), who runs a con selling homeless dogs, clings to him like a young brother, but Schwiefka (Robert Strauss), whom Frankie used to deal for in his illegal card game, has more sinister reasons for welcoming him back, as does Louis (Darren McGavin), Machine’s former heroin dealer.

Frankie returns home to his wife Zosh (Eleanor Parker), who is supposedly wheelchair-bound (but secretly fully recovered) after a car crash some years earlier. Frankie comments on the whistle she wears around her neck, a device she used in Frankie’s absence to summon a neighbor, Vi (Doro Merande), when needed. With Frankie home, Zosh smothers her husband in their small tenement apartment and hinders his attempt to make something of himself. He thinks he has what it takes to play drums for a big band. While calling to make an appointment, he bumps into an old flame, Molly (Kim Novak) who works in a local strip joint as a hostess and lives in the apartment below Frankie’s.

Frankie soon gets himself a tryout and asks Sparrow to get him a new suit, but the suit is a stolen one and he ends up back in a cell at a local Chicago Police Precinct. Schwiefka offers to pay the bail. Frankie refuses, but soon changes his mind when the sight of a drug addict on the edge becomes too much for him. Now, to repay the debt, he must deal for Schwiefka again. Louis is trying to hook him on heroin again, and with no job and Zosh to please, pressure is building from all directions.

Soon Frankie succumbs and is back on drugs and dealing marathon, all-night, card games for Schwiefka. He gets a tryout as a drummer, but spends 24 hours straight dealing a poker game. Desperately needing a fix, Frankie follows Louis home, attacks him, ransacks his house, but can’t find his stash of heroin. At the audition, with withdrawal coming on, Frankie can’t keep the beat and ruins his chance of landing the drumming job. When Louis goes to see Zosh to try to find him, Louis discovers that Zosh has been faking her paralysis and can walk. Zosh, scared of being found out, pushes Louis over the railing of the stairwell to his death, but things backfire when Frankie is sought for murder.

Initially not realizing he is a suspect in Louie’s death, Frankie goes to Molly hoping to get money for a fix. After learning that Det. Bednar and the police are looking for him, Molly convinces Frankie that he must go cold turkey if he is to stand a chance with the police. Frankie agrees and is locked in Molly’s apartment where he goes through a grueling withdrawal to clear the drugs from his body. Finally clean again, he tells Zosh he is going to leave her, start anew and stand trial. In her desperation, Zosh once again gives herself away, standing up in front of Frankie and the police. She runs, but can get no farther than the outside balcony. Trapped, she blows the whistle and throws herself off the balcony to her death. A police ambulance then arrives to remove Zosh’s lifeless body and drives away, while Frankie watches in dismay. He then walks away with Molly.

REVIEW:

With National Jazz Appreciation Month drawing to a close, it was brought to my attention that I have yet to review a jazz film. If you search the archives of this blog, you will notice that I have gone through quite a few of those since the beginning, which makes it hard to find any that are left. I think I found one, though, in The Man with the Golden Arm. Yes, I know it sounds like it should the title of a James Bond film.

What is this about?

Frank Sinatra turns in an Oscar-nominated performance as Frankie Machine, a heroin addict and gifted card dealer trying to kick his drug habit so he can pursue his dream of becoming a professional jazz drummer. But a nagging wife, a high stakes poker game and a suspicious death conspire against Frankie’s desperate attempts to give up the needle once and for all.

What did I like?

Heroin. Today, it seems as if you can see drug addiction as easily as you can find a love story in film, but at the time this was released, that was not the case. As a matter of fact, when this was in the early stages of being adapted from the book, the heroin parts weren’t included because the MPAA would never let it fly. Thankfully, they came down from their high horse and let it slide, because Sinatra’s heroin addiction is such a powerful and poignant plot device.

Ol’ Blue Eyes. Speaking of Sinatra, I’ve seen him in a few films, all musicals, I believe. I’m well aware that along with that great voice, he could sing, but I didn’t know that the guy had some serious Academy Award Nominee acting chops! Holy Cow! This must have been the performance of his career because it was so moving, so powerful, so raw, and so emotional. A supposedly sober card dealer who falls back into heroin, loses everything, and fights to get it back. Sinatra nails every aspect of that description and then some.

Score. The opening scene of the film is pure big band bebop. The animation that goes along with it is hip with the style of the time (watch late 50s/early 60s Bugs Bunny/Coyote/Daffy/etc. cartoons and you’ll see what I’m referring to). Elmer Bernstein is a genius composer, but what is more impressive is that there really isn’t that much music. The opening theme is heard a few times and in the bar you can hear some jazz on the radio, but that’s it. Bernstein’s music makes an impression on the listener, still, even though it isn’t heard that much.

What didn’t I like?

Baroness. Does the name Eleanor Parker ring a bell? No? Well, surely you have seen her in a little film known as The Sound of Music where she plays the Baroness. Truthfully, I wasn’t a fan of her performance there and in this film I get the same feeling. I’m starting to wonder if I have some ill will towards this woman! Her character, who is Sinatra’s nagging wife confined to a wheelchair, is a contradiction. What I mean by that is we’ll see her in one scene and she’s very likable and sympathetic and in the next, she’s downright despicable! Pick a side, lady!

Jazz…or lack thereof. With that jazzy opening, and all Sinatra’s talk of joining a band, you’d think there’d have been some jazz in this flick. Well, we get one scene where Sinatra fails his audition, and that’s it. Being a jazz lover, I’m a bit biased when it comes to this, but to me this was just a cocktease. If you’re going to use jazz in your film, then either play it up in the soundtrack like The Incredibles or Catch Me If You Can (to a lesser extent), or leave it out altogether.

The play’s the thing. With the way this film is acted, I initially thought it was adapted from a play, rather than a novel. It is very stage-like. I was half expecting the lights to dim and to hear sets moving after every act. The stage aspect, could be good or bad, depending on how you look at it. For me, I would have preferred a more cinematic experience, is all. Also, as I mentioned before, the lack of in-scene music added to the play mentality.

The Man with a Golden Arm really disappointed me. Not because it is a bad film, mind you, but because it wasn’t what it was advertised to be. I was expecting something more along the lines of A Man Called Adam. Instead, I get a non-gangster film-noire. At any rate, I can say that this wasn’t a total loss. There is a really good story here told by some fine actors. Do I recommend this film? Yes, I believe it would be worth your time to check it out at some point.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Sabotage

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Thrillers/Mystery with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 27, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

John “Breacher” Wharton (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is the leader of an elite team of DEA agents from the Special Ops Division, which includes James “Monster” Murray (Sam Worthington) and his wife Lizzy Murray (Mireille Enos), Joe “Grinder” Philips (Joe Manganiello), Julius “Sugar” Edmonds (Terrence Howard), Eddie “Neck” Jordan (Josh Holloway), Tom “Pyro” Roberts (Max Martini), Bryce “Tripod” McNeely (Kevin Vance), and “Smoke” Jennings (Mark Schlegel).

During a raid on a cartel warehouse, in which Smoke is killed, the team steals $10 million of the cartel’s money, hides it in the sewer pipes for future retrieval and distribution, and blows up the rest of the cartel’s cash to cover their tracks. However, the heist is discovered, the money disappears, and their superior Floyd Demel (Martin Donovan) suspends them while the DEA investigates the team for the theft. After several months without any confessions or evidence of their participation, the team is reinstated.

Breacher later finds out that Lizzy has become addicted to drugs and that her marriage to Monster is failing.

Pyro is killed after an unidentified stranger tows his trailer onto a railroad crossing and is rammed by a train while he’s unconscious. Atlanta Police homicide detective Caroline Brentwood (Olivia Williams) and her partner Darius Jackson (Harold Perrineau) are assigned to the case and interrogate Pyro’s teammates.

Brentwood notes Neck is aggressively avoiding interrogation, and Breacher accompanies her to Neck’s house hopeful he will cooperate. When they arrive, they find him nailed to the ceiling and disemboweled. Brentwood recognizes the execution as the modus operandi of the cartels, leading Breacher to assume the cartel is hunting the team over the stolen money.

Breacher and Brentwood visit Tripod, who left the DEA after being suspended, and find him dead after a shootout in which he killed an assailant Breacher identified as a cartel enforcer. Monster later visits Brentwood, who is suspicious of Breacher, and tells her that Breacher’s family was kidnapped by the cartels, who videotaped their murders and later sent the tape to Breacher along with the severed body parts of his wife and son. Breacher spent months searching for his family’s killers before the team convinced him to move on. Brentwood apologizes to Breacher, and they wind up having sex.

Jackson traces the dead enforcer’s cellphone to a cartel safe-house, which is raided by Breacher and his team. However, the enforcers are not there. They are later found dead at the bottom of a river near Tripod’s house, and Brentwood realizes that they were killed before Pyro and Neck, meaning someone is framing the cartel for targeting the team.

Breacher reunites the team to tell them what happened, and Lizzy lashes out and reveals she’s been having an affair with Sugar. Grinder later confesses to Brentwood that they stole the money. Breacher and Brentwood meet with Grinder in a public setting to discuss what should happen next when Grinder is shot dead by Lizzy, who is behind the murders along with Sugar. Lizzy then meets with Monster to discuss her escape. Monster destroys her passport to prevent her escape, and Lizzy slashes him with a knife, killing him.

Breacher and Brentwood go to Lizzy’s house and find Monster’s body stuffed in a refrigerator. Lizzy calls Breacher, pretending to be alone, and arranges a meeting at a parking garage. Breacher goes there with Brentwood hidden, and they engage in a shootout with Lizzy and Sugar, who attempt to escape. Following a car chase through the Atlanta’s streets, Sugar & Lizzy’s truck ends up crashing into a tow truck, decapitating Sugar.

Breacher and Brentwood confront a dying Lizzy, who accuses the team of stealing the money behind their backs, motivating her to seek revenge. Brentwood is puzzled, assuming Lizzy had stolen the money. Breacher tells the dying Lizzy that he took the money. Lizzy tries to reach for her weapon and Breacher kills her. Breacher tells Brentwood to be “a good girl and walk away.” The local cops arrive and Breacher disappears.

Weeks later, Breacher is in Mexico, where he uses the stolen money to bribe a corrupt police official into helping him identify Brujo, the man who murdered his family. Breacher finds him in a Mexican bar and kills him and others loyal to him in a violent shootout, during which he is shot in the chest. Having avenged his family, a seriously-wounded Breacher sits at a table, takes a shot of whiskey, lights up one last cigar and smiles as he hears the approaching sirens.

REVIEW:

Since returning to acting, Schwarzenegger’s film choices have been…questionable. Some have been good, some just were there so he could spout a few of his catchphrases and others were just plain bad. Sabotage looks like it will fall in the good category, but we will have to see.

What is this about?

A crack team of DEA agents plots a daring heist, making off with $10 million in drug money. They soon find themselves targets of an unknown killer.

What did I like?

Mellow with age. Schwarzenegger and Stallone were huge, over-the-top action stars in the 80s. Fast forward 30 years and you will see they both have mellowed out. I do believe, though, that this is the first time I’ve actually seen Schwarzenegger act. Is he any good? Eh…that’s debatable, but he’s competent enough, I can say that. Fact is, the guy has realized times have changed and he’s gotten older, so bringing it back down a level or two is a good thing. Having said that, I think that if he hit the gym hard, he’s be back to his old shape in no time and then…YIKES!!!

Violence. Let’s see…cops with guns and the Mexican drug cartel. What should we expect at some point? That’s right! Lots of blood to be spilled and shots fired. My expectations were met and then some, especially in the last couple of acts, because this thing just gets crazy at that point. For me, violence, especially of this magnitude, should not just be crowbarred into a film, it has to fit the tone. In this case, it works and works very well, but in another film, perhaps not so much.

Is that a plot? Believe it or not, there is a plot about Schwarzenegger’s family being murdered, stolen money, what it’s for, and the mysterious circumstances under which members of this team are dying. A bit more serious and complex film that what you would expect from a bunch of muscled up guys with guns, but it does work better than it doesn’t. I was invested in the story, if for no other reason than to find out why these cops would risk their careers to steal $10,000, especially none of them seem like the rogue cop type.

What didn’t I like?

Once upon a time in Mexico. In this epilogue of a scene, Schwarzenegger goes to Mexico to handle some business. I wouldn’t have a problem with it, except that it feels like a different film. Before this happens, the plot with the money and the murder of his team is resolved, making this feel sort of tacked on. I feel that they could have merged the two together or just done a montage, rather than having an added 10-15 minutes of film that just didn’t seem connected.

Likable characters? Shouldn’t there have been at least one of these characters that we actually were able to relate to? Well, there wasn’t. The closest one was perhaps Schwarzenegger, but even he was very cold and distant, which was explained later in the film. I don’t know, I guess I just would have liked for there to have been one person that was an avatar for the audience, if you will, rather than just a bunch of assholes.

Comic relief. I am grateful for the moments of comic relief that are sprinkled in here and there. A flick like this needs to lighten up sometimes. Thing is, I don’t think they did enough of it. Seems to me that on this team, there should have been at least one guy that would be the jokester, I nominate Terrence Howard, but there wasn’t. They were all so serious, and I think that took me out of the film. Obviously, these guys love their job, but are we to believe that on a personal level they don’t joke around (other than giving each other penis tattoos on their back)?

Final verdict on Sabotage? It is somewhat decent, but I don’t believe that I loved it. Honestly, I’m not even sure if I liked it more than your average film. Nothing in the picture is going to stick with you and, I believe, if not for Schwarzenegger, this would probably have been a direct-to-DVD or Netflix release. Still, as always, I’m sure some viewers will fall in love with it and others will scorch the earth (or at least the message boards) with their hatred for this film. Do I recommend it? No, this is not a film that is worth going out of you way to see, but if you happen to catch clips of it somewhere, I can’t fault you for that.

3 out of 5 stars

Trailer Thursday 4/23

Posted in Trailer Thursday with tags on April 23, 2015 by Mystery Man

It’s Trailer Thursday!

We all know the Andrews Sisters’ mega-hit song, “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy”, but how many of us know that it was actually first featured in a film? Even with all my jazz knowledge, I cannot say that I was aware of this, but here it is,  Buck Privates

Just a little extra tidbit of info, Abbott and Costello also featured a young Ella Fitzgerald and her song, “A-Tisket, A-Tasket” in their film, Ride ‘Em Cowboy. It appears they liked to feature jazz stars in their films.

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