Posts Tagged ‘liam neeson’

widows

In modern day Chicago, when a team of robbers, headed by Harry Rawlings (Liam Neeson) are killed after trying to escape their latest brazen robbery,  they leave their wives with a mountain of debt, and no way to pay it off.  Harry’s wife, Veronica (Viola Davis) finds a book of Harry’s past robberies and one that he was planning.  The job will score Veronica five million dollars, she’s got to round up the other men’s wives, Alice (Elizabeth Debecki) Linda Michelle Rodriguez) and a potential driver Belle (Cynthia Erivo) and convince them that this is a job worth doing.  Veronica’s got to pull of the heist in the midst of a political campaign where two candidates, Jamal Manning (Bryan Tyree Henry and Jack Mulligan (Colin Farrell) pledge to clean up this part of Chicago, but are both corrupt themselves.  Does Veronica convince her fellow widows to join her?

There’s a certain amount of ironic humor when in the first scene, Liam Neeson is passionately kissing Viola Davis, but that’s not the worst thing about this movie.  There’s the old cliché about one last job or one last case, there’s a totally unnecessary subplot about the corrupt politicians, tangents that don’t belong, and a plot twist that adds nothing to the enjoyment of this film.  In fact, other than the female robbers, this movie has precious little new to say.  The screenplay was co-written by Gillian Flynn of Gone Girl fame, or should I say infamy, that accounts for the unlikable characters.  This film really had a good premise but it was executed terribly.

The acting in a word is awful.  Liam Neeson picks up another check going through the motions as an angry middle aged victim/anti-hero.  Viola Davis is a good actress shoehorned in a bad role and she wears only one expression a deep scowl.  Michelle Rodriguez is not a good actress, who doesn’t do much here except try to out grimace Voila Davis.  Cynthia Erivo gave a wonderfully nuanced performance in Bad Times At The El Royale doesn’t show much subtlety here, she punches a heavy bag here, to show how tough she is.  Only Elizabeth Debecki shows a little ability to modulate her character, but it doesn’t really matter.  Colin Farrell plays a corrupt Irish American politician while trying to hide his Irish brogue.  Robert Duvall yells a lot, and thinks its acting.  He used to be a good actor.

A lot of the blame for the failure of this film goes to Steve McQueen. He directed and co-wrote this film. I loved 12 Years a Slave, but this film has a lot to apologize for.  The pacing of Widows is awful, the action scenes are perfunctory, and the performances are horrid, by the time all the elements of the story came together, it was too late to care.

Widows:  Deserves To be buried.

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a monster calls

Conor (Max Golds, Lewis MacDougall) is a 12 year-old  boy with a lot to cope with, he is haunted by nightmares, victimized  by bullies, who beat him up every day in school, and traumatized by his mother’s (Felicity Jones) terminal illness.  His father (Toby Kebbell) has divorced his mom and lives in America.  Conor doesn’t want to live with his grandmother (Sigorney Weaver) who is a strict disciplinarian .One day, in the midst of all his troubles, Conor sees a giant, tree-shaped monster(Liam Neesen)  in his backyard. The monster proceeds to tell Connor three stories and demands one from Conor.  The first one is about a king, his young wife, and the king’s grandson. A second story about an apothecary, and a priest, the third one is about an invisible man, who yearns to be seen.  What do these stories mean?  What story does the monster demand from Conor?

A Monster Calls is one of the most emotionally honest movies I’ve seen in a long time.  There are no easy answers in the problems that Conor faces, his grandmother is not sweet and loving, Instead, she is is all rough edges and sharp elbows.  His father comes and goes like a distant memory, and the monster who would make everything better if this was a conventional story, only serves to muddy the waters.  There is real compassion coming from Conor’s mother, but she is slowly slipping away from him, so what is Conor to do?  The story that Conor tells the monster holds the key to this movie, and the answer doesn’t shrink at all from its honesty, and that’s what makes this movie so rewarding in the end.  It sugarcoats nothing, and that is rare in a Hollywood film.

The acting is superb. Lewis Mac Dougal conveys so much emotion in this movie, anger, sorrow, regret, pain, these are difficult emotions for an adult to convey convincingly, young McDougal does an outstanding job.  Conor is also not an especially likeable character, but McDougal makes him sympathetic. Felicity Jones is also outstanding, she tries to be a constant source of love and support for her son, but she is also vulnerable because of her illness, it’s a tough balance to maintain, being strong and vulnerable, but Jones pulls it off.  Liam Neeson does another laudable job as the Monster, he is stern with Conor, but also tender when Conor needs some understanding. Sigourney Weaver plays a hard-edged grandmother, she has no time for tenderness, her daughter is dying, and she needs to express the urgency of those feelings to her grandson.  Weaver is also not playing a likeable character, but she makes the audience understand why she is the way she is.

The direction is visually captivating, not in the way it portrays London because London is always portrayed as gray and dank.  It is stunning because of the way J.A. Bayona seamlessly integrates the Monster’s stories, which are animated, with the live action, so the story never loses its sense of continuity.  The Monster also seems natural, despite his enormous size, because the Monster as Deus Ex Machina is used sparingly in the plot, and only as necessary.  Bayona also gets excellent performances from the cast, especially Lewis MacDougal, it’s not always easy to get a good performance from a young actor, but Bayona brought the best out in MacDougal.  Neeson and Weaver.

A Monster Calls:  Say hello to intelligent moviemaking.

a million ways to die in the west

Albert Stark (Seth McFarlane) is a cowardly sheep farmer from Old Stump Arizona in 1862. His girlfriend Louise (Amanda Seyfried) sees no future in dating a sheep farmer, and so she breaks up with Albert, and starts dating Foy, (Neil Patrick Harris) owner of a mustache accessory store.  A new girl named Anna (Charlize Theron) comes to town, and falls in love with Albert.  Unbeknownst to Albert, Anna is the wife of the most feared gunman in the territory, Clinch Leatherwood. (Liam Neeson) What happens when Clinch comes to Old Stump?  Does Albert find out that Anna is Clinch’s wife?  Does Clinch find out that Anna has fallen in love with Anna?

The running gag in this movie is that the residents in this town keep dying in unusual ways.  To call the humor in this movie juvenile is an insult to juveniles everywhere.  The movie that this movie most closely compares to is of course Blazing Saddles, but the two aren’t even in the same ballpark.  Sure there is the one scene in Blazing Saddles with the cowboys eating baked beans, but every scene in A Million Ways To Die in The West is the baked beans scene, and that gets old fast.  Blazing Saddles is a much more daring and better movie, the idea of a black sheriff in the Old West is much more controversial and frankly funnier than anything McFarlane can come up with.  I don’t like Family Guy, McFarlane’s tv show, it’s an unfunny version of the Simpsons, so I already went into this movie with low expectations, but this movie didn’t even meet those low expectations.  There’s the requisite drug humor because McFarlane is “cool”, unnecessary special effects, an unbelievably unrealistic love story, and Gilbert Gottfied as Abe Lincoln.  If you’re still planning to watch this on cable, unsubscribe to the cable channel that’s airing it, if your friend gives this to you as a present, unfriend him/her right away. You can do better.  If your mom gives this to you as a present, have her take a maternity test, no mom would make her son or daughter watch this movie. Get as far away from this movie as humanly possible.  Please.

Seth McFarlane plays kind of an odd character, he seems to be a 2014 guy in 1860’s Arizona, and so they whole movie has an air of phoniness to it.  There are so many anachronisms in this movie, I lost count.  What the heck is Charlize Theron doing in this movie?  Ruining her career apparently.  She is literally paid to laugh at all of McFarlane’s stupid jokes.  Amanda Seyfried is also taking match and gasoline to her once-promising career.  Sarah Silverman is taking her “shock jock” persona from her stand-up routine to this movie, and it doesn’t translate well. Neil Patrick Harris is simply not funny as the smug entrepreneur.  And it’s official, Liam Neeson is in every Hollywood movie currently being made, his Irish accent and character was much better in The Lego movie.

This movie is too long by at least a half hour, who let McFarlane turn this movie into a 2 hour snoozefest?  Surprise, surprise,  the director is Seth McFarlane, proving he knows nothing about directing a movie.  Pacing, look it up Seth, your movie has none. So this movie limps to an end after 2 hours of a meandering pointless story.

A Million Ways To Die in The West.  Shear-ly awful.

nonstop

A United States Air Marshall named Bill Marks (Liam Neeson)  is on  a flight to London, when he receives a text saying in twenty minutes someone will die on this flight, unless 150 million dollars is sent to a secret account . Marks quickly deduces that the perpetrator of the text is coming from Jack Hammond, (Anson Mount) another Air Marshall.  After a violent struggle, Marks kills Hammond, but the texts keep coming.   Twenty minutes after the new texts, the pilot dies, it may be a heart attack, it may be poison.  Another man in Marks’ custody dies, and the secret account is traced to Marks.  The government officials on the ground are starting to suspect Marks, but there are other suspects, a pretty redhead named Jen Summers (Julianne Moore) who switched seats to sit next to Marks, and was in close proximity when the pilot died, a stewardess named Nancy (Michelle Dockery) who was the only one who had a key to the cockpit, an Arab passenger named Fahim Nasir (Omar Metwally) or was it someone else on the plane?

Non-Stop succeeds at being a suspenseful film, even if it’s sometimes redundant.  Every few minutes a new suspect emerges, and undergoes a grilling from Marks.  For 90 minutes, the suspense keeps escalating, but then the who and why are revealed and the suspense leaks out of this movie like air from a balloon.  The movie then proceeds to its predictable ending.

What makes this movie work is a superb performance by Liam  Neeson, in an otherwise unremarkable role.  He gives this Air Marshall an air of vulnerability and humanity that makes the character more complex and therefore more appealing.  There are a few scenes where Neeson really connected with me emotionally, one a soliloquy and a couple of scenes with a child actress.  Neeson is an excellent character actor, he classed up The Phantom Menace, and was excellent in two of the three Batman sequels.   And who can forget his funny turn as Bad Cop in The Lego Movie. I wasn’t sold on this new iteration of Neeson as action star, I didn’t like Taken at all, but he won me over in this role.  Julianne Moore is effective, albeit less so, as the quirky suspicious passenger net to Neeson.  Corey Stoll is also good as another passenger on the plane, but Lupita Nyongo, the heart and soul of 12 Years A Slave, was completely wasted in this film.

The movie is long, and even though the action scenes are well-choreographed and fast paced, there are scenes that lag, the movie could have used some editing. The director is Jaume Collett Serra,  who directed Orphan which I didn’t like, and Unknown another Neeson film.

Non-Stop Marshall Law in the air.

the lego movie

President Business (Will Ferrell) steals the Kragle, an object of unlimited power, from Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman) a prophet who predicts that someone called the Special , will find another object called the Piece of Resistance, that has the ability to stop the all-powerful Kragle from inflicting any harm. An average construction worker named Emmitt Brickowski  (Chris Pratt) is so good at fitting in, and following all the rules, that he doesn’t leave an impression on anyone.

Emmitt is happy listening to his favorite song, “Everything Is Awesome” and watching his favorite show, “Where Are My Pants” both produced by the Octan corporation, whose CEO is President Business.   He follows the blueprints to build everything, and is perfectly content to go on living the way he lives. Emmitt is at the construction site after hours, telling someone to leave because it’s against the rules.  All of a sudden, he realizes that the intruder is the most beautiful girl he’s ever seen.  Her name is Wildstyle (Elizabeth Banks) and she’s after the Piece of Resistance.  While Emmitt is transfixed by Wildstyle the Piece of Resistance becomes permanently affixed to Emmitt, and he can’t take it off.  Now that Emmitt has the Piece of Resistance he becomes a target of President Business and his loyal foot soldier Bad Cop (Liam Neeson) President Business is planning to use the Kragle to immobilize the citizens of his realm on Taco Tuesday, because he is a rigid dictator.  Can Emmitt evade Bad Cop and get the Piece of Resistance to the top of the Octan Tower before President Business uses the Kragle on his populace?  Is Emmitt the Special?  Does he fulfill the prophesy?

This is a wonderful movie.  The Everyman has a chance to rise to the occasion, and become the Special.  That might be a hackneyed premise, it may even be borrowed from movies like Star Wars and The Matrix, but that’s what makes this movie so endearing, it doesn’t take itself too seriously at all.  It’s even subtly subversive, ok obviously subversive, anti-corporate and wackily anti-conformist.  The Lego Movie does lose its focus a bit when it becomes solely about product placement when Emmitt zooms around the different playsets, but unlike Transformers (Similar toy, worse movies) The Lego Movie finds its footing, and has a satisfying ending, which is neither cloying nor saccharine, but heartfelt. More important than all the adult themes kids learn the importance of individuality, and also working together when necessary.  Those themes may seem contradictory, but they are not in this movie.

The voice talent is amazing in this movie.  Chris Pratt plays Emmitt as a low key hero.  Morgan Freeman is splendid, just hearing his golden voice as the prophet Vitruvius is worth the price of a rental.  Will Ferrell redeems himself after a string of lousy movies, as the evil President Business, but there’s more to his character than initially appears.  Elizabeth Banks has a great voice, she conveys a sense of innocence, and yet her voice sounds sexy.  Can I say she has a sexy voice in a movie aimed at kids?  Well it’s true.  Will Arnett is hilarious as Batman, and Liam Neeson makes a nice comedic turn as Bad Cop.  There are cameos by a few Star Wars stars, Anthony Daniels and Billy Dee Williams add to the laughs, and professional voice actor Keith Ferguson does a pretty serviceable Harrison Ford impression as Han Solo. Shaquille O’ Neal even shows up as himself.  All the actors understood how much fun this movie was, and joined in the spirit of making a truly entertaining film.

The pacing of this movie is more like an action film than an animated film, so the 1 hour 40 minute length goes by in a flash, rent it and watch it with your kids, or watch it with your friends, it’s that funny.

The Lego Movie:  All the pieces fit to make a very good film.

Catherine Stewart (Julianne Moore) is a wealthy and successful gynecologist.  Her husband David (Liam Neeson) is a beloved music professor.  They seem to be living an idyllic life.  But then, David misses a surprise birthday party thrown by Catherine, and Catherine sees a text from one of David’s female students, thanking him for a great night.  Catherine suspects David of infidelity, and sets out to entrap him with a female escort from nearby, named Chloe (Amanda Seyfried) Chloe tells Catherine of her and David’s first encounter, and each salacious detail of every subsequent meeting.  Catherine seems oddly drawn to Chloe, even while professing her love for David,  But then Chloe forms a bond with Michael, (Max Thieriot), but who is she really interested in, David? Michael?  Catherine?

Don’t bother to find out.  This movie is so predictable, the viewer knows immediately what’s going on.  Despite having a great cast, featuring the likes of Liam Neeson, Julianne Moore, and Amanda Seyfried, this movie is basically a horrible mix of Basic Instinct and Fatal Attraction, and that’s all you need to know.  Hollywood always seems to populate these movies with these psychologically deranged women, Sharon Stone, Glenn Close, and I’ll let the viewers find out who the nutjob du jour is in this movie.  Despite having a hot indie director at the helm, and a hot young actress staring wide-eyed into the camera (no not Julianne Moore), this movie ends up with the same tired clichés that most of Hollywood manages to conjure up every now and again.  Moore looks bored, Neeson looks like a wax dummy at Madame Toussaud’s.   Seyfried does her best vacant stare, to no effect.  They all deserve the horror of being locked in a room to watch this movie.  If you like cheap titillation, dressed up as arthouse cinema, this is your movie .  If you like to think, think again, before watching this movie. Chloe has lots of nudity, one graphic sex scene.  It is too explicit for children, too predictable for adults.  Just skip it.

Chloe.  Cloying.

 

Bryan (Neeson) is a retired CIA agent.  He’s divorced from his wife, Lenore (Jannsen) who remarried an older, richer man.  Brian dotes on his daughter Kim, (Maggie Grace) he buys her a karaoke machine for her birthday, but stepdaddy got Kim a pony, and mom clearly agrees with spoiling Kim rotten.  Now Kim wants to go to Europe to follow U2 on tour, even though she’s only 17.  Kim needs a signed waiver from Brian to let her go, Brian doesn’t like the idea of letting Kim go to Europe with an 18 year old girlfriend, but he relents, under heavy pressure from Lenore, under the vondition that Kim keep in close contact with her dad, via cellphone.  No sooner is Kim in Paris, then she gets kidnapped by a group of Albanians involved in the human flesh trade.  Daddy Brian hops into action and the chase is on, does Bryan rescue Kim?

Don’t bother to find out.  This is a very predictable action film, and Liam Neeson is not exactly the best action star around either.  He looks old and tired most of the time, like Harrison Ford in Firewall.  This is very standard issue hero stuff, bullets fly but Liam never gets a scratch. he just looks like he wants to nap.  And he affects some sort of fake American accent that’s distracting.  I enjoyed watching him beat up on Frenchies though, as they are very annoying.  Famke Jannsen plays a witch on wheels, she gives poor Liam a hard time from the minute they see each other in this movie.  I wish she was the one who was kidnapped.  Maggie Grace just plays stupid clueless victim the whole time, no surprises from her character.  No surprises from any character.

 

Taken.  Don’t get taken.