Archive for Joe Don Baker

The Living Daylights

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 28, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

James Bond—Agent 007—is assigned to aid the defection of a KGB officer, General Georgi Koskov, covering his escape from a concert hall in Bratislava, Czechoslovakia during the orchestra’s intermission. During the mission, Bond notices that the KGB sniper assigned to prevent Koskov’s escape is a female cellist from the orchestra. Disobeying his orders to kill the sniper, he instead shoots the rifle from her hands, then uses the Trans-Siberian Pipeline to smuggle Koskov across the border into Austria and then on to Britain.

In his post-defection debriefing, Koskov informs MI6 that the KGB’s old policy of Smiert Spionom, meaning Death to Spies, has been revived by General Leonid Pushkin, the new head of the KGB. Koskov is later abducted from the safe-house and assumed to have been taken back to Moscow. Bond is directed to track down Pushkin in Tangier and kill him in order to forestall further killings of agents and escalation of tensions between the Soviet Union and the West. Although Bond’s prior knowledge of Pushkin initially leads him to doubt Koskov’s claims, he agrees to carry out the mission when he learns that the assassin who killed 004 (as depicted in the pre-title sequence) left a note bearing the same message, “Smiert Spionom.”

Bond returns to Bratislava to track down the cellist, Kara Milovy. He determines that Koskov’s entire defection was staged, and that Milovy is actually Koskov’s girlfriend. Bond convinces Milovy that he is a friend of Koskov’s and persuades her to accompany him to Vienna, supposedly to be reunited with him. Meanwhile, Pushkin meets with arms dealer Brad Whitaker in Tangier, informing him that the KGB is cancelling an arms deal previously arranged between Koskov and Whitaker.

During his brief tryst with Milovy in Vienna, Bond meets his MI6 ally, Saunders, who discovers a history of financial dealings between Koskov and Whitaker. As he leaves their meeting, Saunders is killed by Necros (Koskov and Whitaker’s henchman), who again leaves the message “Smiert Spionom.”

Bond and Milovy promptly leave for Tangier, where Bond confronts Pushkin. Pushkin disavows any knowledge of “Smiert Spionom”, and reveals that Koskov is evading arrest for embezzlement of government funds. Bond and Pushkin then join forces and Bond fakes Pushkin’s assassination, inducing Whitaker and Koskov to progress with their scheme. Meanwhile, Milovy contacts Koskov, who tells her that Bond is actually a KGB agent and convinces her to drug him so he can be captured.

Koskov, Necros, Milovy, and the captive Bond fly to a Soviet air base in Afghanistan—part of the Soviet war in Afghanistan—where Koskov betrays Milovy and imprisons her along with Bond. The pair escape and in doing so free a condemned prisoner, Kamran Shah, leader of the local Mujahideen. Bond and Milovy discover that Koskov is using Soviet funds to buy a massive shipment of opium from the Mujahideen, intending to keep the profits with enough left over to supply the Soviets with their arms.

With the Mujahideen’s help, Bond plants a bomb aboard the cargo plane carrying the opium, but is spotted and has no choice but to barricade himself in the plane. Meanwhile the Mujahideen attack the air base on horseback and engage the Soviets in a gun battle. During the battle, Milovy drives a jeep into the back of the plane as Bond takes off, and Necros also leaps aboard at the last second. After a struggle, Bond throws Necros to his death and deactivates the bomb. Bond then notices Shah and his men being pursued by Soviet forces. He re-activates the bomb and drops it out of the plane and onto a bridge, blowing it up and helping Shah and his men gain an important victory over the Soviets. Bond returns to Tangier to kill Whitaker, as Pushkin arrests Koskov, sending him back to Moscow.

Some time later, Milovy is the lead cellist in a known London performance, her music career solidified by newfound cooperation between the British government and the Soviets providing Kara with travel expenses and allowing her to perform in both countries. After her performance, Bond surprises her in her dressing room and they romantically share their mutual success together.

REVIEW:

A new era in the James Bond franchise is upon me, as Roger Moore steps down and Timothy Dalton takes on the mantle of the suave superspy in The Living Daylights. Will this change affect the character? What about the tone of the film? How will this be received? Let’s find out!

What is this about?

In this turbo-charged action-adventure, suave superspy James Bond is tasked with protecting a Soviet general from a beautiful sniper.

What did I like?

Music makes the world go ’round. As a musician, I will always be more critical and notice things having to do with music than the common movie viewer. The Bond films are well-known for the opening themes and the unmistakable James Bond motif, but this film also throws in a bit of class. You can’t have a Bond girl who is a cello player without having her playing some Mozart, can you? I just can’t see a world-renown musician of her caliber playing some hair band hit on her instrument, even if it might have sounded cool.

Time for a change. Roger Moore was nearly 60 when A View to a Kill was finished, and it showed. The man gave us I believe 7 films over 12 years, so he earned his rest. With a new Bond comes new ways to write for the actor. Take for instance when David Tennant left Doctor Who and was replaced with Matt Smith, who has now been replaced with Peter Capaldi. All have different interpretations of the same character, but each is their own, separate entity. Timothy Dalton, who is going for a darker, more realistic Bond is a far cry from Roger Moore, but perhaps that is what’s needed.

Go go gadget. Bond is known for his gadgetry, but in the films that I’ve seen, they haven’t really been a big part of the film, save for submarine Lotus in The Spy Who Loved Me. While nothing as grand as that appears in this picture, we do get to see a few more of the gadgets and gizmos than I believe we have seen before, which is a big plus for me.

What didn’t I like?

Moneypenny. This is the first film in the franchise to feature a new actress as Ms. Moneypenny. I can’t really say that I like her or not, based on her performance, but I can say that I am not a fan of what they have done, or not done with her character. In the previous films, she had a flirtatious relationship with 007, but here everything is business. WTF?!?

Climax. In the supposed climax, a confrontation with Bond and Whitaker, one would expect there to have been some sort of long, exciting battle, complete with witty repartee and such, right? Wrong! What we get is a few shots, gas, a statue falling down, and some more shots. Seriously, how is this the climax? The stuff with opium was more exciting!!!

Ho-hum. I was warned that Timothy Dalton’s Bond films weren’t going to appeal to me, but I at least thought this would be interesting. I had to catch myself twice from falling asleep! Dalton just doesn’t do it for me as a Bond. I think he does his best work as a villain, anyway. Perhaps the next film will change my mind.

Final verdict on The Living Daylights? It is a definite departure from the Roger Moore era 007. We get a darker Bond, more realistic plot, and the return of the Aston Martin. Does this make this a good film? No, but it doesn’t hurt. What does hurt, though, is the fact that there is no real excitement in this picture. For a good chunk of it, things just seem to be going along with no rhyme or reason. How can the audience get invested in that? With that in mind, I cannot recommend this, unless you are a completest who must see all the films in the franchise.

3 out of 5 stars

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The Distinguished Gentlemen

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , on May 25, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

A Florida con man named Thomas Jefferson Johnson uses the passing of the longtime Congressman from his district, Jeff Johnson (who died of a heart attack while having sex with his secretary), to get elected to Congress, where the money flows from lobbyists. Removing his first name and shortening his middle name he calls himself “Jeff” Johnson. He then manages to get on the ballot by pitching a seniors organization, the Silver Foxes, to nominate him as their candidate for office.

Once on the election ballot, he uses the dead Congressman’s old campaign material and runs a low budget campaign that appeals to name recognition, figuring most people do not pay much attention and simply vote for the “name you know.” He wins a slim victory and is off to Washington, a place where the “streets are lined with gold.”

Initially, the lucrative donations and campaign contributions roll in, but as he learns the nature of the con game in Washington D.C., he starts to see how the greed and corruption makes it difficult to address issues such as campaign finance reform, environmental protection, and the possibility that electric power companies may have a product that is giving kids in a small town cancer.

In trying to address these issues, Congressman Johnson finds himself double-crossed by Power and Industry chairman Dick Dodge. Johnson decides to fight back the only way he knows how: with a con. Johnson succeeds and exposes Dodge as corrupt. As the film ends, it appears likely that Johnson will be thrown out of Congress for the manner in which he was elected.

REVIEW:

On my Facebook page recently, a couple of my friends seem to be posting nothing but anti-Obama stuff. No worries, I won’t turn this into a political rant, but seeing all those negative postings made me question whether I should unfriend them or not and got me in the mood to watch a political comedy. First one that I thought of was The Distinguished Gentleman.

What is this about?

A small-time con man (Eddie Murphy) with a big name — Thomas Jefferson Johnson — decides to move from running a phone-sex scam to a more lucrative and legal operation. He sees his chance to weasel into politics when a congressman sharing his name dies unexpectedly in the midst of a reelection campaign. But while the junior lawmaker learns the political ropes, his interests move from money to romancing a beautiful lobbyist (Victoria Lowell).

What did I like?

Before the crash. Much has been made of how far Eddie Murphy’s career has fallen. This is far from best (or worst) work, but it is good to see him in his younger, funnier days. We even get that patented Murphy laugh a couple of times. Watching him makes you wonder what it was that caused his career to spiral downward, at least in terms of quality.

Hope. About halfway through the film, Murphy’s character makes a campaign promise that is eerily familiar to something Obama said when he was running for his first term. He was running on a platform of hope and change. I won’t say I liked or disliked this, but found it a bit of funny foreshadowing. Couple that with the other political slogans he was spurting out and I was laughing out loud.

Truth. If the last 10 yrs or so have taught us anything, it is that the people up in Washington are mostly corrupted individuals who think of nothing but money. Yes, there are a few good eggs, but the bad ones far outnumber them. This film brings to light how bad it was back in 1992. Some 20 yrs later, it has just gotten worse. I guess no one really paid attention.

What didn’t I like?

Quality. There is something about the quality of this film that didn’t quite sit right with me. It was like it was shot on sitcom style cameras, especially near the end, as opposed to movie quality cameras. I don’t know what the budget is on this thing, but if they couldn’t even afford decent cameras, then I really do question why they even bothered to make it.

Two times the not-so-fun. The first half of the film is a great, rambunctious, laugh riot, but when you get to the second half, it seem to get a bit too serious and changes tone. I guess that is what happens when you bring in a soap opera actress (Victoria Rowell). I’m not saying that she ruined everything, but it did seem that she came in and sapped all the fun out of the film.

Location. Is it me, or are all movie politicians from Florida or something Texas? This isn’t a flaw with the film, per se, but rather an observation that I had. Thinking back to something like Striptease, you will see what I mean. Maybe next politician in film will be from some random place like Idaho, perhaps?

If you’re looking for a film that will give you a couple of laughs on a Saturday afternoon, then The Distinguished Gentleman is right up you alley. I wouldn’t suggest it as your main event movie, though. There just isn’t enough to write home about. This isn’t a bad flick, just very, very average.

3 out of 5 stars