Tag: Action

“Tiring” Spectre spells a sour end for Daniel Craig’s Bond.

craig 2When I left the latest James Bond adventure, Spectre, I felt like its star, Daniel Craig. I felt tired and worn out by this particular 007. During recent interviews, Craig seem detached and ready to call it quits playing the famous British intelligence agent. I feel the exact same way after the exhausting overcooked 2 hour and 28 minute film. Enough.

The story is a British spy film press kit. In the wake the death of M(the beloved and missed Judi Dench), a new division is making a move to take over MI-6 and close down the 007 program. They have a new technology that can track anyone anywhere. Why? It’s Bond’s world, where anything is possible. Women fall in love with you within a couple days, beautiful sports cars are wrecked continuously, Bond’s suit never gets wrinkled and a lot of people die. With a clue from the departed M, Bond tracks a group of assassins whose group is called…..SPECTRE.

Car chases come every 20 minutes, like room service to a hotel room full of guests who already had a plate full. Bonds meets a woman who connects back to a face from his past, and that brings him to Christoph Waltz’s bad guy who may know James a bit. If he didn’t, he would just be another slick rogue in a suit with shoes not wearing socks. Who needs that?

Maybe it’s getting tiring to see these spy films every year. Filmmakers are either mocking Bond or duplicating him. Seeing Matthew Vaughn rip off Q’s weaponry and tech geekness in Kingsman last year may have kicked over the glass. Paul Feig’s Spy gave the story a sense of humor. Maybe this fourth go around with Craig’s Bond shows how long in the tooth this tortured incarnation really is.

In Skyfall, director Sam Mendes made it feel fresh after a just good enough Quantum of Solace. Javier Bardem was a clever villain, the story was fresh, Craig was wounded yet cool and the castle shootout at the end left a shiny tint on this aging Aston Martin. In Spectre, Mendes and a team of FIVE screenwriters tie all the Craig Bonds together in a sloppy way. It just feels rushed, overdone, a bit bland and not interesting enough. Like a steak that isn’t dry but looked better in the packaging at the store.

The best part of the film was Dave Bautista, a monstrous presence who gets a single word of dialogue yet owns every scene he is in with his ferocity alone. When he enters the film, the little film fan inside you starts to get excited. He is a special breed of villain that Bond hasn’t seen in a while. A villain that can go toe to toe with Bond and create excitement that lifts an otherwise dull film up. Bautista gets warmed up with a couple chase scenes but the best scene in the film involves a high speed empty train, Craig and Big Dave crashing through cars beating each other up. The choreography is kinetic yet not complicated or too quick. Bautista smashes things and Craig takes a licking and keeps on ticking.

The fight reminds you of the first scene in Casino Royale. That wonderful black and white bathroom brawl that introduced us to a blond haired hero with a pitbull mentality and some push. The train scene is excellent. Bautista is fantastic, ferocious and I wanted more of him. When he departs, the film goes back into “been there, seen that, please reload” mode.

Waltz is wasted in a thanklessly dull bad guy role that never really gets going. He’s the limp noodle to Bautista’s filet. Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris and the luscious Lea Seydoux come and go without leaving a great mark. Ben Whishaw has a few good lines as Q but doesn’t register much more than what you expect. Monica Bellucci has a brief role that gets forgotten by the midway mark. The supporting cast has quality actors that are wasted.

Spectre is a disappointment because of the level Mendes brought the Bond franchise to with Skyfall. It isn’t a bad film and it is gorgeously shot and has exotic locales like Tangier, Austria, Rome, and the always striking London setting. Maybe the tip off was five different screenwriters. Always gives me the feeling that they just kept passing the laptop around in a circle until something good came out.

Craig is still my favorite Bond, but he feels old in the role here. You can see the lines in his face and the role all at once. For the first time in years, he is simply going through the motions. For the first time in a long stretch, a Bond film feels like it was one too many. There will never be a bad Craig Bond film, but this one comes awfully close.

For a little while, this movie wasn’t going to happen. Mendes nearly didn’t come back and Craig was hesitant. Watching the film, I can see why. They are scrapping the bottom of the jar.

Spectre isn’t a bad movie, but it’s a disappointing finale for Craig’s Bond.

Spend your hard earned cash and time on better films like Bridge of Spies, The Martian, The Walk or Steve Jobs. Save this Bond flick for home.

*Seriously though, give Bautista his own spy adventure. His own movie. I’d pay for more adventures with his Hinx.

Jason Statham: Furious 7 Game Changer

Jason Statham is the epitome of badass. The Fast and Furious film franchise is the epicenter of ridiculously thrilling action. It’s about time these unstoppable forces met.

In case you have been stuck in an art house film gallery for the past 13 years, The F&F films have taken Hollywood and its audience by storm, turning improbable stunts into a viciously kinetic artform. People try writing them off as childish, hollow and pointless, and they miss all the fun in the game. These are action showcases and if you don’t mind a little family values with your hot rod cars and testosterone packed punches, you may be “furious” enough for Dominic Toretto(Vin Diesel) and his adventures. Jason Statham walking into this pleasure town of chaos is icing on the cake and could make Furious 7 the best in the series.

The 47 year old action star made a blood thirsty cameo appearance at the tail end of Fast & Furious 6 as Deckard Shaw, the revenge seeking older bro of Luke Evans’ crippled baddie Owen Shaw. I don’t know about you but the moment Owen spouted off to Dom about “my brother said you live by a code”, I immediately thought of Statham and his Transporter films. That was the cookie crumble hint being dropped at your feet.

Statham’s cameo also tied the franchise together, placing the Tokyo events in their proper spot and lighting a match on the seventh edition, which takes matters back to Los Angeles before jumpstarting the engine to luxurious places like Abu Dhabi. Director James Wan,taking over for Justin Lin after four films, walked into a treasures chest of action heroes. A buffet of kickass lethal enough to challenge the Persian army(minus the skirts, add tank tops). Why Statham? Well, why the hell do you drink coffee every morning? A dose of Statham is perfect for this world.

Let’s look at the prerequisites to enter the Furious world:

*Bald.

*Badass.

*Muscle bound.

*Good in a fight.

*Cool voice full of one liners.

*Looks good in a suit and tank top

*Very Bald.

Statham passes all tests with flying colors and adds something else. An authentic action star. With no offense to the Rock and Diesel, Statham does this shit for a living and can throw a kick with a smile as fast as he hosts Saturday Night Live or growls for the fans. Statham is the guy who works out with stunt crews in an LA gym and has a framed bullseye in his kitchen. Statham is working out while you are thinking about working out. He is working out while you eat donuts and while you gobble up fast food. He is working on his martial arts when you are thinking about enrolling for a green belt at the local karate class. He lives, breathes and shits action hero bravado. His head is the shape of a bullet and his voice is charming yet sinister.

The juiciest part of his dive here into the fast cars zone is he has never played a villain before. His characters have been far from gracious good souls, but he’s always fought the good fight on film….until now. Statham steps into the action in a big way here. Judging from the eye watering trailers, he gets to tangle with Dwayne Johnson in an office and Diesel on a roof with steel car parts. He also gets to walk into a party in a high rise building and fire a gun into the air ala The Joker in The Dark Knight. Statham is a show stopping presence on film. When I left a Statham film last year and had to use the restroom, I ran into an older film fan as I washed my hands. I asked him about the action banger we just watched in the same auditorium and regarding the British actor, the man simply said “He is something else”. You’re damn right he is. Statham is a special member of the No Bueno Crew.

Furious 7 is special for many reasons, many of them surrounding the late star, Paul Walker. “Pablo”, as Diesel calls his deceased friend, has starred in all seven films. Losing him was the equivalent of a heart losing a fair amount of blood. The engines running dry without as much oil and the transmission failing a few times on a Nissan Skyline. Walker wasn’t the guy you left the movies talking about, but he was also something the films couldn’t live without. The innocent action hero at the center of chaos who also happened to be a great guy in the real world. This film will be a celebration of his work on the film and his life in general. It will also be a celebration of glorious action hero nostalgia, with Statham walking around kicking over trash cans of lighter fluid and lighting the streets with mayhem.

The specialty of the franchise is getting bigger with each film. This stunt crew goes big or stays home. The Fast Five entered Johnson’s hulking agent, Hobbs. Statham was teased in the following film and makes a grand entrance in Friday’s clash. When fanboys talk about wet dreams and cinematic collisions, Jason Statham and Fast/Furious franchise ranks near the top of the list. This is the thing that rolls off the tongue at 130 in the morning as you finish an order of tacos and blurt to your friend, “Bro, it would be mad sick if that Statham did one of these movies.” The Furious team is fearless and turns dreamy scenarios into realities.

Show some self respect and check out Furious 7 this week on Blu Ray or DVD. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t seen the previous six films. This about true action appreciation. If you want realism, turn on the Sundance Channel. If you want balls out visually wasted cinema, buy a ticket for this movie. This is a stand alone adventure and will be given the proper tasting when Toretto answers that phone on his porch and hears a familiar British voice.

“Dominic Toretto. You don’t know me..but you’re about to.”

Jason Statham has arrived, ladies and gentlemen. He was born fast and is furious when he sleeps. Jason Statham. Those two words alone should get your ass in a seat.

Michael Fassbender makes Assassin’s Creed interesting

When it comes to adapting a massively popular video game, filmmakers and actors have their work cut out for them. It’s a dangerous walk. The last thing professional make believe players want to do is offend the 24/7 video game binge addict who drinks more Mountain Dew’s and Red bulls than humanly possible and calls a Big Gulp cup his spouse. I am NOT a video game addict or player. So when I see the first look at the December 16th, 2016 film Assassin’s Creed and see Michael Fassbender in armor sporting a menacing look, I am intrigued.

michael fassbender assassin's creed

The game could be about whatever you desire, but Fassbender instantly hooks me. Respected, talented and always watchable performers do that for a film-addict. We see, decide if this is for us and then wait for something else. This film is still a year away, but that doesn’t mean a picture can’t speak 365 words.

What’s it about? The film introduces a new character into the game’s world, Callum Lynch, a rogue assassin who finds out his ancestors provided him with quite substantial powers and he uses those to fight the evil Templar organization in the modern sophisticated world. Sound interesting? Well, that’s all you got to run on right now. Just keep staring at that picture. Pretty cool right?

The film co-stars the beautifully talented French actress Marion Cotillard, and is directed by Justin Kurzel(Snowtown, Macbeth), a name you may not recognize but has been given a decent two headed cast to push this adaptation forward.

The recent failure of Agent 47 rings doubt across the waters that spell success or not for Assassin’s Creed. As I say with any movie, it depends on the script and the care put into the production. If it’s there, there’s always a chance.

What do you think of this first look? Good, bad, or forget about it?

What else is new at the moment?

*More coffee is always a good thing, but espresso is best.

*Politicians aren’t robots in suits because they get caught having sexy time with wrong people too often.

*The St. Louis Cardinals are very good.

*The N.L. Central will have three playoff teams so suck it league colleagues.

*Just because a person goes on a murderous rampage doesn’t mean he or she is insane….they could just be evil. It happens.

*Staying fit is a well known plan. It’s just not easy to follow through with. You are either a shape or in shape.

Goodnight,

Buffa

BIG GAME is a huge Samuel L. Jackson mistake

I need to speak with Sam L. Jackson’s agent. It won’t take long.  I am going to ask him why he passes on these dreadful scripts to his popular client. Jackson has done some drivel in recent years, but Big Game takes the cake. It’s a riff on Air Force One with Jackson’s President being stranded in the woods after his plane is blown out of the sky and it’s up to him and a young kid to survive and defeat the bad guys.

Jalmari Helander writes and directs a movie that may have been digestible in 1987, because back then trash dialogue and kindergarten special effects weren’t frowned upon yet swallowed whole like a McDonald’s double cheeseburger at 11 o’ clock at night.

Hey, there’s cool bad guy Ray Stevenson(Rome and Dexter) slumming it as a man who wants a piece of the Executive Chief. There’s highly respected actor Jim Broadbent, the man back home in the Pentagon who knows what is going on and chews on an apple for the entire film. Felicity Huffman and Victor Garber show up as well. Onni Tommila is the Finnish kid who helps our guy but he can’t even work a bow and arrow. How did so many good actors find their way into this film? Was it code named “Marvel spinoff” and they got duped?

There’s one cool shot of a man diving out of a plane and as he falls to the ground missiles fly past him up into the sky. That’s it. Everything else is bad music, lazy editing, laughable dialogue, corny action and slow motion amateur hour. I’m getting tired of the President in duress plots as well. It’s been done, overcooked, deep fried and saturated in muddy cinematic waters. Let’s can it.

Is there any delight here to be had? Sure. If you ever wanted to watch a movie while typing away on your phone or while cooking dinner in the other room, this is the one for you. It’s only 90 minutes and doesn’t stay on your mind long afterwards. All you will think about as this film concludes is why all these fine actors partake in this mischief. What was the catch? It didn’t cost much to make but it reined in some big names. Did it get lost in the editing room? Did the Cliffhanger/Air Force One aspect get lost quickly? I am not sure.

I can tell you this. Big Game is a big waste of your time.

Tom Cruise makes “Rogue Nation” feel fresh

Mission 5Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation‘s sign outside reads like this. Welcome to the Tom Cruise show. Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to walk into Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation without an ounce of cynicism or pre-existing opinion of Cruise’s off screen persona and just enjoy a good old fashioned spy flick.

Let me tell you right now. The reason these films work so well, no matter the director, is the star. The face on the poster. The man carrying all the marbles and the boulders of pressure on this summer blockbuster scale. Cruise doesn’t just do his own fight scenes. He also hangs off the side of departing airplanes as they take off. He also rides motorcycles around roads hanging off steep cliffs. He also dives into large bodies or water and does all this at the ripe age of 50. When I think of Cruise and Mission Impossible films, the pursuit of authenticity comes to mind. He wants to make it as real as possible and he wants the audience to have as much fun as he did filming it.

The plot isn’t too distracting and has just the right amount of juice dripping from the grill at this cinematic barbecue. Cruise’s IMF team(Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames) are being hunted by a rogue “Syndicate”, who wish to destroy the unit and also make a lot of money in the process. This is a film where the bad guy isn’t really noteworthy. He’s got an accent, a nasally voice and an ability to tuck the bottom part of his face into a snarl. He wants to take Cruise’s Hunt down and do it all flashy like, which makes for amazingly rendered action sequences.

You don’t come to a Mission Impossible film to be wooed by Oscar caliber acting. You want to see what these guys do this time. They didn’t disappoint. Writer/Director Christopher McQuarrie(who wrote a past Mission film and is the creator of Usual Suspects) ups the ante here with Cruise and company. Leading up to the release, the scene where Cruise literally hangs off the side of a plane carried all the energy of the marketing campaign. That stunt is pretty cool and sets off the pre-credits sequence. It pales in comparison to the other stunts.

The sequence that takes the cake is a scene where Hunt dives into a government facility that is guarded by 100 feet of concrete and protected by a pool of water that whips around like a hurricane when you are in it. Hunt’s desperate plea to extract a chip, card or whatever is revealed slowly and raises the stakes as the three minute timer on his watch counts down. Folks, we all fear drowning but what the filmmakers do here is create a truly harrowing yet fun experience. We are sucking the oxygen out of our own lungs watching Hunt try to dangle.

The motorcycle chase is filmed extremely well, and all the gun fights sound authentic, ringing off a Michael Mann like echo in your ears. It’s almost as if the Fast and Furious gang challenged Cruise and company to create the most outrageous action set pieces, and the veterans just winked and went to town. I’m sorry, Vin Diesel, but when it comes to real action stunt work, Cruise has you beat big boy.

Rogue Nation is just smart enough to make us forget about the outlandish stunts, plot threads and somewhat uneven pacing at times. It’s alert, confident and delivers the goods you come to expect when seeing the trailer.

The cast is cool as silk, with Renner and Baldwin providing some levity with biting one liners and humor. It’sRebecca Ferg good to see Rhames back and Pegg is always a reliable comedic presence. The steal here though is newcomer Rebecca Ferguson, a gorgeous Swede who takes turns helping and betraying Hunt’s crew. Ferguson isn’t just a pretty face. She’s athletic enough to fulfill the action duties and has a naturally beautiful body that doesn’t seem anything overly fancy or anywhere near ordinary. Whether she’s climbing up her opponents to wrap her legs around their neck and stab them in the chest or she is racing on a motorcycle, Ferguson holds her own and then some and her co-stars know it. There’s something about a pretty lady with an European accent who can throw a punch and take one as well that just knocks me out. You’ve been warned, Emily Blunt and Kate Beckinsale.

While it’s not as polished as the first one or as slick as the last, this 5th round of Mission Impossible daredevil work is a worthy piece of summer entertainment. Whenever the plot starts to spin out of control and everybody is wearing fake masks and throwing kicks and shooting all over, Cruise grounds it all with his hard work and dedication to the character and the series. He’s a thinking man’s action hero and is all the fuel this Mission needs.

Also, Rebecca Ferguson doesn’t hurt.

The Rock Returning for “Furious 8” is Vital to its success

The Rock and great action films go together like coffee and donuts. Like pizza and breadsticks. Like salty potato chips and french onion dip. Dwayne Johnson’s presence as a beastly hero type is a huge chunk of the reason the Fast & Furious films were kicked up a notch when he decided to shit on Vin Diesel’s day in Fast Five. The news of Johnson returning for the eighth film is the first sign the movie may work as well as the previous three.

Think of that first confrontation between The Rock’s Agent Hobbs and Diesel’s Toretto back in 2011.

Hobbs: “You’re under arrest.”

Toretto:”That’s funny. I don’t feel under arrest.

Hobbs: I don’t give a shit. I’m just here to bring two assholes whose names hit my desk.”

For those of you who have been hanging out in too many stinky French theaters for the past decade, that’s hardcore macho man preemptive asskicking talk. The kind of words shared between two bald sweaty tight t-shirt wearing lions who aren’t going to back down. The Rock changed the franchise, giving it something the first four films had lacked. A true adversary for Diesel. Someone who could lock horns with him(sorry Rick Yune and John Ortiz but you two simply didn’t cut). Diesel couldn’t sneeze and knock out Johnson, and that created problems for our favorite family oriented group of criminals.

There was also the big fight. The clash of the titans, as Chris Ludacris Bridges called it during the promotional tour. The Rock and Diesel going toe to toe and beating the crap out of each other. This is the rare movie event where the hype was matched and maybe exceeded by the actual result. An extended three room battle between two big men. Diesel, a former nightclub bouncer in New York taking on the real life Hulk himself, the former wrestler/college football defensive lineman turned movie star war mammoth, Johnson. Dwayne may have tried to shed the label of the Rock at times, but it’s hard to do when you see how huge he has gotten since he filmed Faster a few years ago.

The beginning of the Rock’s movie career saw him carry his wrestling weight into the cinematic universe. After a little while, he decided to supersize the muscle build, putting on 25 pounds for the underseen and quite enjoyable Faster. Since then, he has redesigned how Under Armour makes their outerwear. His F/F wardrobe consists of black work pants and a large supply of UA shirts that bulge out like a huge rubber band stretching and bending with each curl from a bodybuilder at a gym.

Since the Rock showed up, fought Diesel, and eventually joined his team, the Fast/Furious films were taken to a whole other level. Critics started to take notice. The box office gross went up. When The Rock joins the party, the circus comes to town in a big way. He isn’t just another bald headed menace. He is a whole other dimension.

Remember when Diesel’s Toretto saved him after their fight in Fast Five? Which action film junkie could not? Gunfire, carnage and exploding cars all around Diesel as he walked across a street in a ridiculously clean white t-shirt, extending his meat hook arm down for a wounded Johnson to grab onto and run for cover. It was like a wrestling match tag team action packed induced orgasm for fans of the two guys. An orgasm without a cigarette in sight so all you could do was dry yourself off.

The last two films have seen the Rock and Diesel hook up in different parts of the world and save the day, with the seventh edition showing the entire crew say goodbye to the founding father of tough guy talk and nitroglycerin, Paul Walker. With the blonde haired gent’s passing, the group will soldier on and make more loud, over the top yet wildly enjoyable spring thrill rides. They wouldn’t be complete without the Rock kicking ass in extremely tight fitting sports shirts. It’s like baking a batch of cookies without greasing the pan first. It’s like making decaf coffee. A Fast and Furious 8 without The Rock Says covering the poster in fiery menace would be like passing up a chance to marinate a 20 ounce ribeye.

After Furious 7 grossed a lazy billion, Fast and Furious 8 will ride into theaters on April 14th, 2017. Get ready by revisiting Fast Five, Fast & Furious 6, and Furious 7. Or you could just listen to the sound of a souped up Dodge Charger kick its horse legs out nearby.

The countdown to Bald Guy Mania has begun.