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Monthly Archives: January 2018

12 Strong (2018)

DIRECTOR: Nicolai Fuglsig

CAST: Chris Hemsworth, Michael Shannon, Michael Pena, Trevante Rhodes, Navid Negahban, William Fichtner

REVIEW:

In some ways, 12 Strong is a bit of a throwback to war flicks of the ’50s and ’60s, rollicking adventures with more emphasis on creating a testosterone-fueled adrenaline rush than going into graphic details of the horrors of war (this slightly “old school” vibe is accentuated by the fact that our heroes spend much of the movie, including the climactic battle, on horseback).  To that end, it is strongly successful.  12 Strong doesn’t completely ignore or brush aside the grim realities of war, but it’s an action movie first and foremost and a substantially less downbeat experience than darker war films such as Platoon or Fury, and for fans of this kind of war flick, it represents an invigorating, solidly engaging couple of hours. Continue reading

The Commuter (2018)

DIRECTOR: Jaume Collet-Serra

CAST: Liam Neeson, Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Sam Neill, Jonathan Banks, Elizabeth McGovern

REVIEW:

Another year, another Liam Neeson action flick. Once a “serious thespian”, Neeson has recently reinvented himself as starring in as many disposable thrillers as Steven Seagal. This time, the big guy reunites with Jaume Collet-Serra, who attempts a variation on their previous project, Non-Stop, a wannabe Hitchcockian thriller set within the confines of an airplane and serving up paranoia with a planeload of suspects and red herrings. This time, in what passes for variety on Neeson’s filmography these days, it’s a train. If you enjoyed Non-Stop, you may also find The Commuter intriguing, but while Non-Stop was able to distract from its plot holes and implausibilities “in the moment”, the convoluted mess going on in The Commuter isn’t able to achieve the same effect, at least not to the same extent. This is the kind of movie that defines “flash in the pan”: compulsive viewing in the moment, and immediately disposable.

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The Post (2018)

DIRECTOR: Steven Spielberg

CAST: Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks

REVIEW:

The Post won’t appeal to everyone—it’s a predominantly dry, talky affair full of scenes of stressed-out people in smoky rooms and stacks of papers debating the course of action—-but for those who appreciate docudramas celebrating the triumph of investigative journalism over power, it’s a stirring spiritual brother to movies like All the President’s Men (to which it serves as a sort of direct prequel) and Spotlight.  In its portrayal of the free press versus an American President skirting the limits of his authority, The Post feels timely and relevant, and stresses the importance of an independent press.  The Supreme Court’s 1971 ruling that “the press exists to serve the governed, not the governors” is worth recalling today. Continue reading

Proud Mary (2018)

DIRECTOR: Babak Najafi

CAST: Taraji P. Henson, Jahi Di’Allo Winston, Billy Brown, Danny Glover, Xander Berkeley, Neal McDonough, Rade Sherbedgia

REVIEW:

One strongly suspects Proud Mary would have been straight-to-video fare if not for the presence of multi-Emmy and Oscar nominee Taraji P. Henson in the title role, and that’s where the quality level lies.  Proud Mary is an enjoyable enough diversion in the moment, but a generic and uninspired shoot-em-up that doesn’t offer anything memorable. Continue reading

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