Posts Tagged ‘Action Films’

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QUANTUM OF SOLACE (2009)

March 31, 2009

Quantum of Solace Review

James Bond, Quantum of Solace
James Bond. “Mm, that chocolate cake was delicious”

Adam: Three stars

Length: 106min

Review by Adam:

The latest in the Bond films has what I think is one of the better titles for a film in this franchise. Not that it makes all that much sense, but then again, neither does the film. For those who haven’t seen the first Bond film with Craig Daniels playing the world’s saviour, then you’ll be in for a rude shock. Bond has changed. Gone are the cheesy one liners, the elaborate spy gadgetry, the promiscuity. We now have a brooding, jaded, and rather ruthless spy killer.

This movie picks up where the last left off. Heart broken, betrayed and out for vengeance, Bond is hunting the people who brought this upon him. Turns out there is a highly organised entity called “the organization” that is apparently running wild schemes and the British secret service knows nothing about it. So the hunt is on. Who is a traitor and who isn’t?

The hunt takes Bond to a guy who is using a land conservation charity as cover for an elaborate scheme to overthrow governments and gain control of water resources. There is one great scene where it’s explained to a General who is plotting a coup that if he doesn’t cooperate, then someone else will. Hello corporate hegemony!

As far as a mindless action film goes this isn’t so bad. Bad guys abound (and they’re typically bad shooters!), as do car chases, fisticuffs, tuxedos, and product placements. For anyone expecting more than that, maybe don’t bother. The film falls prey to too many sub-plots. There are two stories of revenge going, one about what the bad guys are planning, and the other about whether or not Bond is off the rails. You end up walking away wondering exactly who x person was and why they did what they did.

Of course, the politics in this movie is very average. But seriously, it’s James Bond, what were you expecting. I would write about the gender representation but really, it’s not too hard to imagine what it was like. It is Hollywood after all. As long as you remember that and leave your political analysis at the door you could find something to enjoy here.

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LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD (DIE HARD 4.0) (2007)

January 13, 2008

Live Free or Die Hard review
Die Hard 4.0

Die Hard 4.0: Just another typical day on the beat. 

Adam: Two and a half stars

Length: 130min

Tagline:

Yippee Ki Yay Mo – John 6:27

Review by Adam:

Men going through a mid-life crisis try and emulate their youth. Some buy sports cars. Some think that they can reclaim sporting greatness. Movie stars, however, return to the franchises that made them famous. We’ve seen Rocky, Rambo and Indiana Jones. Now it’s time to indulge Bruce Willis for Die Hard 4.0. The ‘.0′ is because it’s about computers…

So everyone’s favourite Republican-voting, ends-justify-the means, ‘I blow shit up for a living’, alcoholic cop is back. Gone are the Germans or the other highly organised terrorists. This time it’s cyber-war.

The plot to Die Hard 4.0 revolves around super computer hackers (turns out they’re former government employees) who are intent on causing a ‘fire-sale’. For the non‑geeks out there this basically means completely imploding the country by screwing up the power, transport and other major utilities (and yet another action film has absorbed the administration’s current concerns – the threat of cyber-attacks has induced much Governmental sweat recently, especially since the attacks in Estonia last year). Brucey-Boy ends up being the wrong cop in the wrong place and is drawn into the escapade by a geek he was assigned to escort to DC. Turns out the geek was somehow unintentionally involved in the plan, so now he’s helping Captain America Willis to fix the world (not that he needs help, surely – he is fifty-six and perfectly capable thank you!).

Die Hard 4.0 does have a good pace to it. That is, something either blows up or someone gets shot every few minutes. My friend sold me this movie by saying that it “is so bad it’s good,” and yes, I’ll admit the constant action did satisfy that for me. It does degenerate into farce by the end of it though (think Semi-Trailer vs. Fighter Jet and, yep, the truck wins…).

My problems with this movie (apart from the plot and acting) lie in two areas. Firstly, bad guys seem once again to be amazingly poor shots, particularly when it comes to Bruce and his geek mate. Sure it’s cool the good guy doesn’t die but to dodge 1,000,000 bullets is a little much. I like the much more harrowingly realistic approach adopted by movies such as Children of Men.

My second gripe is the fact that in the space of 36 hours Bruce is hit by a car, shot at, survives an explosion, jumps out of a car, is shot at again, falls multiple stories multiple times, gets beaten up 4 times, survives a rocket attack from a jet fighter and finally is shot numerous times… yet once it’s all over he is sitting in an ambulance with what looks like minor injuries!!! Mm, that kind of machismo really soothes the mid-life crisis.

In summary though, watch the movie only for the eye-candy explosions that it’s known for. Do as I did: ignore the plot and characters and bask in the sheer ridiculous nature of it all. Just remember, that it could just as easily have been called “Die Hard 4-point-Crap.” And don’t forget the good deed you’re doing for poor old mid-life-crisis Bruce.

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DEATH PROOF (2007)

January 2, 2008

Death Proof review
Death proof

Matt: Three and a half Stars

Length: 114min

Taglines:
White-Hot Terror At 200 MPH!
These 8 Women Are About To Meet 1 Diabolical Man!
It’s Going To Be A Wild Ride
A White-Hot Juggernaut At 200 Miles Per Hour!
A crash course in revenge

Précis: Quentin Tarantino’s homage to heroines and smash-’em-up ‘grindhouse’ cinema is half dazzling, half disappointing, and quintessentially Tarantino.

Review by Matt:

In a unique experiment, cinema powerhouses Quentin Tarrantino and Robert Rodriguez each created a film in the jumpy, kitschy style of 1970’s B-grade cinema. They lovingly excised some ‘lost footage’, added reel marks, black and white bits, poor edits, audio pops, and (especially in Rodriguez’s effort) moments of square, exploitative schlock-ness. The result was Rodriguez’s zombie-action Planet Terror and Tarantino’s car-chase thriller Death Proof. In the US the films were released together as a mighty double-feature called Grindhouse. Unfortunately, the experiment had limited appeal, and it crumpled terribly at the box office. Tarantino’s Death Proof crawled from the carnage and lives on now as a solo release, separated from its zombie brother.

Death Proof takes a couple of carloads of sassy girls (who are sometimes in peril, but mostly just showing their sass), a liberal dollop of car-chase action, and smears them onto a B-Grade base to cook for nearly two hours. Its plot is built around two connected stories. In the first, a group of girls hits the town, shoots the breeze, and eventually meets the mysteriously charming ‘Stuntman Mike’ (Kurt Russell). The second story features four different girls shooting the breeze, test driving a stunt car and, while out on the road, also bumping into old Stuntman Mike. What’s this character up to? The plot thickens.

Tarantino has done an outstanding job of presenting the film. Behind the jumpy edits and grainy film, Death Proof is slick and well constructed: it’s glittering, diamond-encrusted trash. In particular the vehicular action scenes are marvelous – surely light years beyond the quality that the old exploitation flicks could achieve. New Zealand stuntwoman Zoe Bell also plays herself in the film and, of course, performs all her own stunts, which lends a unique authenticity to the action scenes. Much of the acting is also grin-inducing and enjoyable. In particular, the scarred and weathered Kurt Russell pitches his Stuntman Mike character right into the odd, fluctuating space between laughable and profound.

Death Proof is an homage, but Tarantino also injects a large amount of himself into the film. It’s stylish in Tarantino’s idiosyncratic way, which also means it contains some indulgent, sensational violence. Tarantino’s also known for his offbeat, riffing dialogue and he’s certainly packed this into Death Proof. In fact, the two lonely ingredients to the film are: firstly, irreverent and irrelevant dialogue and, secondly, car-smashing action. And the action component is fairly small, so be ready for a lot of pointless chatter. In other more successful Tarantino films, the dialogue hangs from a well-formed plot – kind of like Shakespearian comic relief, only the clowns are also the protagonists. In Death Proof, the banter basically is the plot. It does little to enhance the climactic action, and can be tiresome. This is really the weak point of the film. One gets the impression that Tarantino is so revved up about his dialogue, his actresses and his project that he just left too much of it in (although we are seeing the international release of Death Proof which has an extra 25 minutes of footage – the Grindhouse version was edited down considerably).

Death Proof stands well on its own. I found it guiltily entertaining, though admittedly much of my enjoyment actually came from enthusiasm for the Grindhouse experiment and the novelty of watching a cheerfully faulty anachronism (I felt the same forgiving affection for Planet Terror). But I would not really want to watch a film like Death Proof too often. The cinema that Tarantino is mimicking is actually not so great, and he’s adopted its flaws as well. It has limited suspense, some fantastic action, cringe-inducing gore, and a ramshackle plot that would have taken a couple of minutes to conceive. Looking at Death Proof in isolation from its schlocky, fanfilm purpose, it is enjoyable and, in some ways, amazing. But Tarantino’s gleeful revelry as he plays in his beloved genre doesn’t translate into quite as much fun for the viewer.