Category Archives: Movie Review

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Movie Review – Get Smart

Category : Movie Review

Director: Peter Segal

Starring: Steve Carell, Anne Hathaway, Dwayne Johnson

Year: 2008

The greatest thing about Get Smart, at least now, is knowing how incredibly famous the three stars of the film will become, and how legendary some of the veteran side actors still are to this day.  It’s the cast that makes the film, because it’s definitely not the comedy.  The old TV show was fun, silly, good for its time, but probably shouldn’t have been made into a modern feature film.  Oh well no one leaves well enough alone these days, so here we are with  a mostly unfunny film version, which we needed about as much as a third nipple.  Still, it isn’t all terrible, and now we can look back ten years in the past on the earlier parts of the careers of these superstars as smile.

Secret Agent Maxwell Smart is tired of working behind a desk as an analyst, he wants to get into the field as an operative, where he knows he can really make a world of difference in Control’s fight against the evil Chaos organization.  His skills are unquestionable, but he’s a bit of a screw up, and would probably be as likely to shoot himself as his enemy if a confrontation even came to a firefight.  But sometimes you work with what you’ve got, and when Control HQ is attacked, Max is paired up with sexy Agent 99 to head to Russia and discover Chaos’ secret plans.  Max knew he’d have to face his fears and step up to the plate in order to make Control proud, but he never dreamed he’d fall in love on the mission as well, a sticky situation that he has no idea how to resolve.

The show was entertaining, if you’ve ever caught a rerun, but it was a far cry from exceptional.  The movie version doesn’t really compete or even do the program justice, barely registering as funny and mostly bordering on stupid.  I can only think of one laugh-out-loud scene, when Max is in the airplane bathroom shooting himself with tiny, painful darts, and that’s only funny in the way that 40-Year-Old Virgin already was.  The rest is mostly stupid and never super original, resulting in a film that you could describe in the same way.  Carell is naturally gifted, he doesn’t lose that, so that’s always hovering over the movie.  And Hathaway is one of my favorite actresses, a chameleon who is also stunning, a true Hollywood megastar.  The Rock is pretty terrible in his role (he was still learning), but the side guys make up for it: Alan Arkin, Terence Stamp, James Caan, Bill Murray.  There’s really no need to watch Get Smart if you missed it a decade ago; you didn’t miss too much.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆

 

 


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Movie Review – Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot

Category : Movie Review

Director: Gus Van Sant

Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Jonah Hill, Rooney Mara

Year: 2018

Joaquin Phoenix took a swing at an Academy Award earlier this year with You Were Never Really Here, and he’s back for a second at bat, with a stellar character in the true story Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot.  Phoenix went from a hitman on the run to an addict in a wheelchair, proving once again that he really can do it all, and that fact should shock exactly no one.  Phoenix is a master, a current top dog, and every time he appears on screen we ought to take notice.  And this role is no exception; it might just win him an Oscar.

John Callahan is a recovering alcoholic, an illustrator, and is confined to a wheelchair, venting his frustrations through his comics and attempting to live sober one day at a time.  He was in a car accident that paralyzed him from the waist down, the result of a drinking binge that ended with John testing his luck one too many times.  He can’t stand being in his wheelchair, and has been depressed for so long he doesn’t know how else to feel.  But an AA meeting might be the thing he needs to turn the corner toward a happier life.  His sponsor, Donnie, is independently wealthy and dying, but his advice is sound, and he encourages John to find a higher power to give over control to, whether that be God, Buddha, a lightbulb, or a cloud.  That step might be the hardest one for John to take, but it’s standing in the way of his recovery, and his only other choice is death.

Surprise surprise; Joaquin Phoenix is amazing.  I think we could be talking about an Oscar here, and it’s high time, his filmography is among the strongest you’re ever likely to see.  He was nominated for Best Supporting for Gladiator, and Best Actor for Walk the Line and The Master, but has never won an Academy Award; that could change now.  His character is layered with grief and Phoenix weaves his way upward so deftly, giving us so much to take in and to think about, that the story becomes about the audience and what we can take away.  The film itself is very laden, never lets up, focuses very specifically on addiction and the steps to defeat it, so those of us who have never really been able to identify with substance abuse plots might have a hard time relating in the way that is necessary in order to fall in love with the movie.  But Phoenix’ performance is more than enough reason to pay attention.  Jonah Hill is solid, Rooney Mara is unnecessary, and a cameo by Jack Black almost steals the show; that guy is underrated.  He Won’t Get Far on Foot might not be a film we remember for years to come, but I think the lead role is, and we might be hearing about it more come Oscar time.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

 

 


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Movie Review – Mission: Impossible – Fallout

Category : Movie Review

Director: Christopher McQuarrie

Starring: Tom Cruise, Rebecca Ferguson, Henry Cavill

Year: 2018

Tom Cruise must age just like the rest of is; it’s science.  But he obviously doesn’t; that’s either magic, immortality, or vampirism, who the hell knows.  Regardless, this ageless wonder keeps churning out the hits, and taking them too, doing his own stunts, putting his body on the line, and shocking us all with his vitality in every new film he releases.  Cruise is a legend, and that has never been on display more prominently than in the Mission: Impossible franchise, especially the last two, Rogue Nation and Fallout.  These are action flicks at their finest; not quiet Fury Road caliber but close, with enough high-quality thrills to put them at the top of the genre’s list for a long time.

Ethan Hunt and his team took down Solomon Lane and the Syndicate, but now every government and crime organization in the world are fighting to get their hands on the madman, either for retribution or for further destruction.  Meanwhile, the IMF team are busy trying to get their hands on some raw plutonium that will undoubtedly be turned into nuclear bombs, which obviously they can’t let happen.  But Hunt will have a choice to make; either secure the plutonium or hand Lane over to criminals, a conundrum that is exactly what the chaotic world wants.  Trades, deals, attacks, back stabs; it’s just another day at the office.

Cruise and the filmmakers seem to be saying from the beginning to the end of this film, “look what I can do” and “I dare you to stop me”.  What they accomplish here is beyond impressive, a modern marvel of action entertainment that has rarely been matched.  They swing for the fences and connect, creating an adventure that is pure spectacle and entirely awesome.  Did they need every single, long, blood-pumping sequence to tell the story?  Maybe not.  But they were ready, able, and willing, and no one was going to keep them from going over the top.  Lucky for us, the movie never feels out of control, just insanely driven at a high speed that we’re sure isn’t safe, but we can’t help enjoy anyway.

Basically, the movie literally gave me a headache, but I didn’t really mind, I guess because I had so much fun even while my eyes couldn’t keep up.  The action scenes are mind-blowing, beyond impressive, so fun, but at the same time ridiculously frenetic, but somehow always in an acceptable way.  I think what I’m trying to say is that 90% of audiences will absolutely love this film because the action is so incredibly and tightly packed.  But if action isn’t your thing, you honestly might get motion sick and throw up, so stay home and watch something calmer.  As far as the story goes, it’s a little cheesy, a little more convoluted than its immediate predecessor, which I enjoyed slightly more, but it’s still always fun and always true to the franchise.  Cruise is great, Ferguson is perfection of course, Cavill (and his infamous mustache) is a good side character, Simon Pegg was underused, Angela Bassett was a colossal strike out, so the characters are a little hit or miss.  But the experience is not, the actual sitting down in front of a screen showing this feature is most definitely not; it’s a late-summer explosion of intensity that most of us will want to immediately see again, as soon as our heads stop spinning.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

 

 

 


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Movie Review – The Incredible Hulk

Category : Movie Review

Director: Louis Leterrier

Starring: Edward Norton, Liv Tyler, William Hurt

Year: 2008

This was the very last Marvel Universe movie I needed to see, the last of the now twenty films, and that’s ironic because it was one of the very first.  This was back when the MU was just getting started, still experimenting, and boy can you tell.  Edward Norton wouldn’t even continue as the Hulk, Mark Ruffalo would take over, and I think that was a smart choice all around.  Ruffalo is incredible, so talented, but he also fits perfectly into this less-challenging role.  Norton never did, he’s too cerebral of an actor, and even his top tier status couldn’t lend credibility to this flick, so it’s good that he got out.  Otherwise he might not have starred in Moonrise Kingdom or Birdman, and then where would we be?!  Anyway, back to the fledgling film franchise, and this installment was definitely a growing pain.

Bruce Banner, the brilliant scientist, has allowed an experiment to be performed on himself that will destroy his life.  Jump-starting the old Super Soldier Serum program, General Ross and the US government want to create a new wave of modern militants, and Banner is the lead mind on the team.  But when human trials are needed, Banner injects himself with the serum, sure of its results.  Well, even geniuses make mistakes.  Bruce is turned into a giant, green behemoth, but only when he gets angry, so he runs away from the lab and hides his identity, keeping his heart rate in check so that he never looses control again.  Some time later and close to discovering a cure for his illness, Banner returns to the States and reunites with his lost love, Betty Ross, who will help him banish the monster.  But a second creature, the Abomination, rises to battle the Hulk, in an epic duel that hasn’t been seen on Earth since the time of the dinosaurs, or perhaps the gods.

Here’s the single biggest, stupidest mistake they made when crafting this movie; they skipped the origin story.  They skipped the origin story, just skipped it, totally disregarded it, and pretended like it was a smart thing to do.  During the opening credits we see the entire story of how Hulk came to be; the entire story!  That’s it, on to another adventure, and we didn’t even meet the main characters.  It could not have been done worse, and I can’t think of another Marvel movie that did anything like that again, so they must have learned their lesson.  The Hulk is one of the very weakest of the MU films, and I’m glad Norton stepped away, and I’m also glad they never made another.  Liv Tyler is horrendous, of course, most of the acting is bad all around, Norton is fine but has nothing to work with, and the crushing, smashing battles just aren’t interesting or even entertaining.  It’s a hack job from start to finish, not in keeping with the future MU movies, but at least you can say that they learned and made better.  It’s over now, I’ve seen them all, a prize should be in order; good afternoon, good evening, and goodnight.

My rating: ☆ ☆

 

 


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Movie Review – How It Ends

Category : Movie Review

Director: David M. Rosenthal

Starring: Theo James, Forest Whitaker, Grace Dove

Year: 2018

It’s ironic that the title of How It Ends gives audiences a clue as to what will be the film’s most glaring flaw, like they’re teasing us with the knowledge that the ending of the movie completely sucks and here we are thinking that they were referring to the end of the world.  Irony or mockery, how it ends is the worst part of How It Ends, but it’s definitely not alone at the bottom.  The quote goes something like “it ends not with a bang, but a whimper”, and that’s a powerful, classic line, but with this film, that sentiment could be taken literally; by the finale nothing has banged and you are left whimpering.  This is an example of how NOT to make an apocalyptic flick; watch if you want to be educated, not entertained.

Will & Samantha are a young couple in love who just found out that they are about to be parents.  They are over the moon, ready to start their lives as a happy family in Seattle, but have one little hurdle to overcome first; Sam’s dad.  Tom is ex-military, legendarily hard-nosed, and he scares Will to death.  In Chicago on business, the father-to-be will ask for his future father-in-law’s blessing to marry his daughter, which is not exactly a given.  But before Will can really work up the courage, something terrible happens back on the west coast.  As he’s talking to Sam on the phone, there’s an explosion, and she’s cut off.  Then the power in Chicago goes out, along with cell service, and the military is mobilized.  The threat isn’t clear, no one knows what’s going on, but California and the west seem to have vanished from the map.  Will and Tom will embark on a dangerous mission across a now-barren landscape, encountering unpredictable threats, all to find Sam and protect her, no matter the cost.

The post-apocalyptic storyline is pretty cool, it always is, that’s just an awesome genre, and it’s hard to introduce it incorrectly.  We are designed to enjoy plots surrounding end times, societies that collapse, people living off their wits; I don’t know why, but we love it.  So the story is fine, the characters are interesting, I wanted them to start their cross-country adventure, everything was hunky dory.  But it wasn’t long before the train derailed, and the signs were there early on that it was going to happen.  The acting is plain bad; not horrendous, just bad.  It started quickly and you could tell you were in for it, but hoped maybe the action would just cover stuff up.  Well, it didn’t.  The plot became insane, not in an over-the-top way, but in a way that had no point, no purpose, no goal, it was just events.  And the end, my god, from the moment Will reaches Seattle the whole movie explodes in stupidity, and there’s no forgiving it.  It’s one of the worst climaxes I’ve ever seen, like I did it on my computer in five minutes, not like it’s an actual film with actual money behind it.  Netflix got this one wrong, and they’re making too many mistakes lately, I’m starting to become wary of their products.  They better fix things, and fast; How It Ends was a step in a very wrong direction.

My rating: ☆

 


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Movie Review – Leave No Trace

Category : Movie Review

Director: Debra Granik

Starring: Thomasin McKenzie, Ben Foster

Year: 2018

Director Debra Granik’s latest film will inevitably be compared to her biggest, and I don’t think that’s unfair.  Winter’s Bone wasn’t her first feature, it was her second, but it put her on the map and made Jennifer Lawrence into a star, so it was a pretty big deal.  Granik then waited 8 years to direct another drama, and she made it about a teenager who must deal with her father’s problems while surviving her family’s poverty.  That’s pretty much the same plot, minus the crime element, keeping Dale Dickey, who appeared in both films.  Anyway, my point is that Leave No Trace will be compared to Winter’s Bone, and it will live or die by that comparison.  But I think that’s fair, unless the only options are “better” and “terrible”.  Because this film isn’t better, but it also isn’t bad at all, its largest flaw being its inability to live up to its predecessor.

Will is a Veteran with PTSD who was never able to return to his former life, choosing instead to stay off the grid in the woods of Oregon where his dreams might have a harder time finding him.  His only companion is his daughter Tom, a girl he raised and taught to read and shared his knowledge of survival with, his only partner in life.  When Will and Tom are discovered illegally living on state property, they are forced to adapt to modern living; jobs, schools, bungalows, forms to fill out, decisions to make.  Will simply can’t do it, he isn’t ready, but Tom wants to try to lead a “normal” life for once, to make friends, to have a future.  Running away again might mean that they never come back, which isn’t a path that Tom wants to travel.

In theory, this is Thom McKenzie’s breakout role like it was Jennifer Lawrence’s, and there’s a chance that is might really be.  In this heavy character drama, she carries her weight, and her voice is very captivating, she’s got a quality that draws you in.  The part was written very well too; I don’t know Granik’s backstory, but she seems to be creating these stories from deep places, and they come across as very honest.  Ben Foster is great too; man, he’s great every time.  He’s one of the most underrated actors in cinematic history; the guy can do anything.  Compared to Winter’s Bone, Leave No Trace isn’t AS impacting, isn’t AS powerful, so I can’t rate it as highly since it’s very similar in a lot of ways.  But completely on its own, it’s still a fine film, a really riveting narrative, and you should definitely see it because it will at least be in deeper discussions come awards time next year.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

 

 


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Movie Review – The Death of Stalin

Category : Movie Review

Director: Armando Iannucci

Starring: Simon Baker Beale, Steve Buscemi, Jeffrey Tambor

Year: 2017

Director Armando Iannucci is best known for two television shows; Alan Partridge and Veep.  I’ve never seen either, but I have seen the Alan Partridge movie, which I enjoyed.  I wonder if Death of Stalin leans more toward Veep, that kind of humor, because I didn’t enjoy the film as much as I had hoped, I think he may have taken the comedy in a direction that simply wasn’t my style.  It’s dark all the way through, satyric while giving us true history, and off-kilter in a way that I should have found hilarious, but just didn’t.  I was looking forward to this movie very much, I had high hopes for it, not just as a comedy but overall, and I’m sad that it didn’t win me over.

In the 1950s, Josef Stalin ruled the Soviet Union with an iron fist.  Arrests every day, death lists every evening, plotting in between; it was a time of terror and of shattered dreams, as the utopia that was supposed to be fell apart in its infancy.  Even Stalin’s party members and officials lived in fear of his violent whims, and never knew whether tomorrow might mean their own death.  But they did not die; he did, in a dramatic twist of fate and of fortune.  With the Boss out of the picture, a power vacuum was created, with every high-ranking fiend scrambling for control.  This was the rise of Nikita Khrushchev and the Russian army, but their plan to take over didn’t seem so flawless in its beginning stages, and much was in the air before the fate of the world was decided.

Beale, Buscemi, Tambor, Michael Palin, Jason Isaacs, Paddy Considine, Olga Kurylenko; the cast is the strongest part of The Death of Stalin, really the only element that was always consistent and never let audiences down.  The story is insane but true, or mostly true anyway, a look at the bumblings of giants that are guaranteed to crush the lives of countless ants underneath.  It’s dark, it’s morbid, it’s hard to swallow, but this is history, and events don’t always shake out evenly or smoothly or intelligently, sometimes the lord of chaos rules.  Now, that’s just one element, this film is mostly a comedy, but one that I didn’t find as funny as I had hoped.  Early on I did, but the plot became more muddled while the laughs become too few, and I found myself bored more often that not.  I didn’t want to feel that way about this movie, I wanted to roll in the aisles.  But the humor just missed me, or it fizzled too quickly in all the conniving, and I was left with a very depressing look into the history books without much saving grace.  I’m sure there is a certain group that this comedy will strike a chord with, it just wasn’t me, and I can’t predict whether it will be you.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆

 

 


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Movie Review – Road to Perdition

Category : Movie Review

Director: Sam Mendes

Starring: Tom Hanks, Tyler Hoechlin, Paul Newman

Year: 2002

Sam Mendes’ first film was American Beauty and he followed that up with Road to Perdition; that’s one hell of a start.  He has a way with mood and with music, he can paint a picture flawlessly, and he knows how to form a cast; this is why his movies are successes.  Now, he’s not perfect, no one is, and watching these two films right in a row makes it easy to see his flaws.  One is casting youngsters in pivotal roles that they don’t yet have to talent to support.  Or, really, in the case of Thora Birch and Tyler Hoechlin, kids who will never be as special as we first thought that they might be.  Another is his penchant for ending movies with speeches, and that’s usually a bad idea.  Those two things were the only real problems with American Beauty, and he didn’t fix them in time for Road to Perdition, so we get a feature that’s incredible but that also couldn’t possibly be perfect.

In the winter of 1931 near Chicago, a boy from a family with connections to the mob is forced to grow up faster than any twelve-year-old should be made to do.  His name is Michael, and his father, Mike Sullivan, works for Mr. John Rooney, an Irish crime boss who practically rules an entire town.  Everyone is connected to Rooney, or to his son Connor, who isn’t as sharp as his old man but is twice as brutal.  When Michael accidentally witnesses Connor killing a mafia member who might rat out what the prince has been doing behind the king’s back, Michael and Mike are forced to run for their very lives.  The next six weeks on the road with his father attempting some sort of revenge for the destruction of their happiness will teach Michael about the mob business, his old man, and himself, as choices will be made that alter the future of Chicago crime and of a young kid who never wanted to live by way of the gun.

It’s too bad that Mendes makes the exact same mistakes here as he has before, because otherwise this film might have been one of the historic best.  But the kid simply isn’t great, can’t stand up next to the likes of the rest of the cast, and then is asked to give this laden monologue at the end of the film, which just feels forced and should have been left on the cutting-room floor.  It was Mendes’ second feature, it’s phenomenal for being a relative amateur’s project, but I still wish he had made changes faster, because this really is something special.  The music alone is reason to watch and weep, it’s so good, and then there’s the cast: Hanks, Newman, Ciaran Hinds, Daniel Craig, Stanley Tucci, Jude Law.  As a villain, Law is other-worldly, something you have to see to believe.  The action, the father-son, the time period, the cool darkness, the anger; the film was nominated for six Academy Awards, winning for Best Cinematography, and it deserved it all.  I watched this movie with my dad and it meant something, still does; it’s a powerful message wrapped in a consumable package, a true stand out that’s still tall today.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

 

 


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Movie Review – American Beauty

Category : Movie Review

Director: Sam Mendes

Starring: Kevin Spacey, Annette Bening, Thora Birch

Year: 1999

I’m just going to buzz right by the Kevin Spacey issue, because this movie already exists and there’s nothing we can do about who starred in it 20 years ago.  Other people made the movie, other people acted in the movie, it’s alive independent of one man, so I’m just gonna leave that scandal to the side and move on.  For anyone else in there 30-somethings, American Beauty was a powerful film to stumble upon when you were a teenager and your film taste was being formed.  It’s strong enough to make a very lasting impact, and it definitely did for me.  And I don’t think I’m alone, I think it resonated among Gen-X/Gen-Y/Xennials because we saw our parents living what we took for meaningless existences and we promised ourselves that we wouldn’t do the same.

Lester Burnham starts every day with a nice, warm masturbation session in the shower, and it’s all downhill from there.  He hates his wife Carolyn, a small-potatoes real estate agent who is obsessed with image.  He hates his job, working at a magazine for bosses he can’t stand.  And he is hated by his daughter, an only child teenager named Jane.  Lester can’t remember when he started dreading facing every, miserable day, but he knows that once he was happy, once upon a time.  When his life hits rock bottom and he realizes that he needs to start living for his own contentment before his own, inevitable death, his eyes are opened to the possibilities around him and the chances he has to say exactly what’s on his mind to anyone who might cross his path.

This is Sam Mendes’ first film, which is almost unbelievable.  The guy who wrote it, Alan Ball, has only ever done terrible television otherwise, so you gotta believe that Mendes had a heavy hand over this plot.  American Beauty was nominated for eight Academy Awards (Best Actress, Best Editing, Best Original Score), winning five (Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Cinematography), and without looking back and comparing every category, I’m sure it deserved every one.  It’s a phenomenal and very personal expose on the fallacies of happiness, of hidden desires that we never expose and so let eat us alive from the inside.  There’s so much being said in every scene that it quite literally blew my young mind, and it continues to impress as I watch it as an adult.  The cast is incredible, so varied, but so strong: Spacey, Bening, Birch, Wes Bentley, Mena Suvari, Chris Cooper, Allison Janney, Peter Gallagher, Scott Bakula, John Cho.  The only real weak point is Birch, who I cringe watching now that I look with a more critical eye.  The music though, the mood, the messages, melodrama that is far too close to reality for comfort; this is a movie that has the power to move you in a direction you never thought you would go, and that’s the mark of something truly original and awesomely inspiring.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

 

 


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Movie Review – Sicario: Day of the Soldado

Category : Movie Review

Director: Stefano Sollima

Starring: Josh Brolin, Benicio Del Toro, Isabela Moner

Year: 2018

It might have worked for the Alien franchise to have different directors take on the same plot structure, to extend the story beyond the original in an original way, but that has to be the exception to the rule.  Scott did horror, Cameron did action, Fincher did dark introspection, all did it right in certain ways, although for my money Aliens is the superior film.  My point is, that’s a once in a lifetime accomplishment, making an entire series of films, not even including the newer ones, that all had different directors and all worked.  Sicario might have been incredible, but to think that another, random filmmaker could simply make a different one is ludicrous, and then I swear it feels like they’re going to make a third, which won’t have a chance in hell at being good.  Soldado didn’t either, really, but it just avoided being dumb, coming in as watchable by a nose.

The war on drugs and on terrorism doesn’t ever really end, it just shifts, and the American government must constantly shift with it, or lose their tentative control.  After a bombing in the heart of the Midwest, the US turns its eyes to the Southern border; apparently the men who blew themselves up crossed over from Mexico into Texas on their way to their evil deed.  In order to shake things up and make the border naturally tighter, special operative Matt Graver is tasked with creating a team and starting a war between the drug lords of Latin America, keeping them busy fighting themselves so that America can catch its breath.  His idea; kidnap the teenage daughter of the Cocaine King, who also dabbles in a new and lucrative industry, human transportation.  But this plan has its weak points, especially when the Mexican government joins the fray, and all bets are off when you find yourself in a shootout in the dessert versus men with nothing to lose.

Sicario was stunning, from the action to the cinematography, with Emily Blunt as our vehicle through the chaos, our bulletproof Humvee.  That was when we realized that Taylor Sheridan was a tremendous writer (Hell or High Water, Wind River) and that Dennis Villeneuve was a master (Arrival, Blade Runner 2049).  But to think that they could replace Villeneuve with a relative unknown, that they could reproduce a few scenes, that they could bring back a few characters, that they could copy the music, that we would just fall on our knees and bow; please.  I can’t blame anyone for trying to make a quick and easy buck; this movie must have seemed guaranteed to make money.  But I can fault filmmakers and companies who come up with nothing unique and expect us to fall in line because they recycled a title.  That is something I will not do, and it’s something I wish audiences would take a stand against more often.

First, here’s what I liked about the film, despite my negative, anarchist comments.  I liked Brolin and Del Toro; they were almost as good as in the first episode.  I enjoyed the action; it seemed duplicated but was solid nonetheless.  The story was OK, the music was haunting, there were a few strong images throughout, I jumped a couple times, and I didn’t mind the ending, when so often films simply collapse.  But the picture wasn’t perfect, that’s for sure.  Catherine Keener and Matthew Modine were absolutely horrendous in their small roles; Modine won’t be a shocker, but Keener is talented, and I thought I might burst a blood vessel every time she spoke.  The whole US Government set up was dumb, it made very little sense, and just felt slapped together.  Also, the parallel plot on the other side of the border was far too similar to the first film, it wasn’t inspired at all, a complete phone in.  That sums up most of the movie, it was simply a minor effort from all involved because they knew their product couldn’t possibly be as good, that they were only there to pick up the paycheck.  The general quality of Soldado wasn’t terrible, there were points to enjoy, it just should not have been made.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆