July Movie Releases

Hello!

It’s July everybody! The Summer Movie Season is almost over, but it’s not going down without a fight. July has some great movies coming out, especially some anticipated movies for some. I’d also want to apologize for putting this up late. I started a new job and it’s completely messed up my schedule for everything (you may have notice there’s been no podcast for a few weeks now). So let’s get to it.

 

4th

The First Purge

Written by series creator James DeMonaco, the prequel will focus on the lead up and show the very first Purge event. The Purge movies started out as a small-scale house invasion thriller that had the potential for open-world sequels. Thankfully, that’s what we got and now after three movies, DeMonaco is finally giving us the prequel he’s talked since The Purge: Anarchy. The movies have also always had a political theme to them – at least in some way – and The First Purge looks to fully be embracing that which could be good. The First Purge stars Y’Ian Noel, Luna Lauren Velez, Lex Scott Davis, Melonie Diaz and Marisa Tomei.

 

6th

Sorry to Bother You

In an alternate present-day version of Oakland, telemarketer Cassius Green (Lakeith Stanfield) discovers a magical key to professional success, propelling him into a macabre universe. As soon as I saw this trailer I was immediately hooked. What’s better, is I don’t know how this movie will turn out in the end, and that’s what has me excited. Sorry to Bother You also stars Tessa Thompson, Armie Hammer, Jermaine Fowler, Omari Hardwick, David Cross, Patton Oswalt, Steven Yeun, Terry Crews and Danny Glover.

 

Ant-Man and the Wasp

As Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) balances being both a Super Hero and a father, Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) and Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) present an urgent new mission that finds the Ant-Man fighting alongside The Wasp to uncover secrets from their past. After what happened in Avengers: Infinity War I think we need a good balance of a comedy with Ant-Man, and now we have the long awaited introduction of The Wasp on the big screen. What’s not to be excited about? The sequel co-stars Michael Pena, Laurence Fishburne, Hannah John-Kamen, Randall Park, David Dastmalchian, T.I., Judy Greer, Walton Goggins and Michelle Pfeiffer.

 

13th

Limited Release: Don’t Worry He Won’t Get Far on Foot

A biography about John Callahan. On the rocky path to sobriety after a life-changing accident, John Callahan discovers the healing power of art, willing his injured hands into drawing hilarious, often controversial cartoons, which bring him a new lease on life. The rest of the cast includes Jonah Hill, Rooney Mara, Jack Black, Carrie Brownstein and Udo Kier.

 

Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation

Mavis (Selena Gomez) surprises Dracula (Adam Sandler) with a family voyage on a luxury Monster Cruise Ship so he can take a vacation from providing everyone else’s vacation at the hotel. Once there, romance arises as Dracula meets the ship’s captain, Ericka (Kathryn Hahn). Little do they know, Ericka is a descendant of Dracula’s ancient nemesis, Abraham Van Helsing. The rest of the voice cast includes Kevin James, Steve Buscemi, David Spade, Fran Drescher, Keegan-Michael Key, Molly Shannon, Andy Samberg and Mel Brooks.

 

Skyscraper

FBI Hostage Rescue Team leader and U.S. war veteran Will Ford (Dwayne Johnson), who now assesses security for skyscrapers. On assignment in Hong Kong he finds the tallest, safest building in the world suddenly ablaze, and he’s been framed for it. A wanted man on the run, Will must find those responsible, clear his name and somehow rescue his family who is trapped inside the building. As much as I love Dwayne Johnson on the big screen being our modern day action hero, Skyscraper’s trailers have been rather mixed. I’m sure the movie will be entertaining as hell, but the trailers just aren’t selling it for me right away. The cast includes Neve Campbell, Pablo Schreiber, Roland Moller, Byron Mann and Chin Han.

 

 

20th

Limited Release: Blindspotting

A timely story about the intersection of race and class, set against the backdrop of a rapidly gentrifying Oakland. The film stars Daveed Diggs, Rafael Casal, Janina Gavankar, Jasmine Cephas Jones and Tisha Campbell-Martin.

 

Unfriended: Dark Web

A teen comes into possession of a new laptop and soon discovers that the previous owner is not only watching him, but will also do anything to get it back. I never saw the first movie, merely because it didn’t look that great, but the sequel  looks to be upping the ante a bit on the concept. The movie stars Getty Gabriel, Rebecca Rittenhouse, Chelsea Alden, Colin Woodell, Stephanie Nogueras, Andrew Lees and Douglas Tait.

 

Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again

The sequel follows Donna’s (played by Meryl Streep and Lily James) young life, experiencing the fun she had with the three possible Dad’s of Sophie (Amanda Seyfried). Sophie is now pregnant. Like Donna, she will be young when she has her baby. This is where she realizes she will need to take risks like her mother did. The cast includes Dominic Cooper, Christine Baranski, Julie Walters, Andy Garcia, Pierce Brosnan, Stellan Skarsgard, Colin Firth and Cher.

 

The Equalizer 2

Robert McCall (Denzel Washington) serves an unflinching justice for the exploited and oppressed, but how far will he go when that is someone he loves? The Equalizer was one of my surprises of 2014, and seeing Washington and director Antoine Fuqua reunite was great. Now, we have another reunion between the two, but also the first sequel for both men, and it looks like they’re upping the ante in both story – making it personal – and action, which going off the first film’s final act, it should be good. Cast also includes Pedro Pascal, Sakina Jaffrey, Bill Pullman and Melissa Leo.

 

27th

Limited Release: Hot Summer Nights

A boy comes of age during a summer he spends in Cape Cod. This was filmed before Chalamet became a household name after Call Me By Your Name, so I’m sure the studio is hoping that will sell the movie. The film stars Timothee Chalamet, Maika Monroe, Jack Kesy, Alex Roe, Emory Cohen, Maia Mitchell, William Fichtner and Thomas Jane.

 

Teen Titans Go! To the Movies

The Teen Titans are determined to get their own superhero movie, so Robin and the others try to get noticed by Hollywood’s hottest director. Certain they can pull it off, their dreams are sidetracked when a super villain tries to take over world. The voice cast includes Tara Strong, Khary Payton, Greg Cipes, Scott Menville, Hynden Walch, Kristen Bell, Lil Yachty, Halsey, James Corden, Will Arnett and Nicolas Cage.

 

Mission: Impossible – Fallout

Written and directed by Christopher McQuarrie, once again, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his IMF team, along with some familiar allies, race against time after a mission gone wrong. I don’t know how the Mission: Impossible movies do it. They keep getting better with each installment AND they keep looking great in the trailers, so hell yes I am excited for this. Fallout co-stars Rebecca Ferguson, Simon Pegg, Henry Caavill, Alec Baldwin, Ving Rhames, Sean Harris, Vanessa Kirby, Michelle Monaghan and Angela Bassett.

 

What are you looking forward to?

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‘Atomic Blonde’ Review

Director: David Leitch

Writer: Kurt Johnstad

Cast: Charlize Theron, James McAvoy, Sofia Boutella, John Goodman, Toby Jones, James Faulkner, Roland Moller, Bill Skarsgard, and Eddie Marsan

Synopsis: An undercover MI6 agent is sent to Berlin during the Cold War to investigate the murder of a fellow agent and recover a missing list of double agents.

 

*Reviewer Note:  This will be a spoiler free review.*

 

I’ve been sitting on this review for a while, as I was lucky enough to see a free advanced screening of the film at the beginning of the month. Loosely based off the graphic novel titled The Coldest City by Antony Johnston and Sam Hart, Atomic Blonde is the first film solo-directed by David Leitch, one of the co-directors of John Wick. So even before the film was released, we knew that the film would at least have great action scenes, right? Well, yes, it does, but Atomic Blonde isn’t without its faults. However, if anything, it once again proves that Charlize Theron – if you didn’t know already – is a total badass.

Atomic Blonde is set within days the Berlin Wall comes down, and follows Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron), who is introduced after getting out of a tub of ice water with bruises covering her whole body and a black eye. Lorraine then goes to MI6 to get debriefed by her boss Eric Gray (Toby Jones) and CIA agent Emmett Kurzfeld (John Goodman). The film then is told through flashbacks. Lorraine is bought in after the death of fellow agent Gasciogne (Sam Hargave), who Lorraine had a brief relationship with, who was carrying heavy and sensitive information on him when he died. Lorraine’s mission is to go to Berlin, meet her contact David Percival (James McAvoy), find the information and get out of Berlin alive. However, the mission is thrown for a loop when the list actually does go missing, and the only person that knows anything about the list is a defector codenamed Spyglass (Eddie Marsan). Lorraine not only has to get the information, but get out of Berlin alive.

Since the trailers were released, I have been really looking forward to Atomic Blonde. It had a great cast, the style looked cool and more importantly it looked like Charlize Theron was going to kick a lot – a lot – of ass. Thankfully, we get a lot of Charlize Theron kicking ass. The problem with Atomic Blonde is that before we get to the extreme level of ass-kicking, the film trudges along. The film works along the lines of other spy thrillers by being layered and dense with plot and characters that may or may not betray or want to kill Lorraine. However, some of it doesn’t really work too well.

Sofia Boutella’s character Delphine gets introduced, but she doesn’t really do too much in the film other than the promoted sex scene with Theron’s Lorraine. Her character should be more important considering the state of things, but no. Eddie Marsan’s character is introduced early on, but then disappears for the rest of the film until he’s needed again. Although I wish we got a little more of him especially since he’s an important part to everything, but I can see why he’s gone. James McAvoy seemed like he was having fun playing his David Percival. He’s a bit snarky, unpredictable and sometimes straight-out untrustworthy, but he’s still damn fun to watch. It’s also great to see him clash with Theron’s Lorraine, considering their styles are so different.

However, the film belongs to Theron. She’s a force from beginning to end, and never turns it off. Her character is cold and distant, but considering the lifestyle she lives it makes sense. That also makes her a death machine to anyone stupid enough to mess with her, but she also gets hurt like everyone else which is a nice touch. Add that the fact that she did a lot of her own stunts, because you can clearly see her face throughout the fight scenes makes those fight scenes more believable and awesome. Including an amazing ten-minute or so non-stop action scene that feels like its unbroken and probably one of the best action scenes I’ve ever seen on the big screen.

All in all, Atomic Blonde is a worthy action spy thriller worth your time. While the film faces some pacing issues that bring the film down, and loaded a bit too much for its own good, director David Leitch still puts together a great action film with a great lead in Charlize Theron. I wouldn’t personally put Atomic Blonde next to John Wick, but if you’re feeling left out story-wise, the action should hold you over.

Atomic Blonde

4 out of 5

‘War for the Planet of the Apes’ Review

Director: Matt Reeves

Writers: Matt Reeves and Mark Bomback

Cast: Andy Serkis, Woody Harrelson, Steve Zahn, Karin Konoval, Terry Notary, Ty Olsson, Michael Adamthwaite, Gabriel Chavarria and Amiah Miller

Synopsis: After the apes suffer unimaginable losses, Caesar wrestles with his darker instincts and begins his own mystic quest to avenge his kind.

 

*Reviewer Note: This will be a spoiler free review.*

 

Planet of the Apes was a movie that changed the movie scene due to its amazing practical effects, visual storytelling – apes of horses! – and vision of the future. Sure the series went to some crazy places and out there ideas. No serious watch them or look it up, but the series always had a special place in people’s hearts, and after a lackluster attempt with Tim Burton’s version – although credit where credit is due with those practical effects – the series got a much needed shot-in-the-arm with the reboot back in 2011 in Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

Lead by motion-capture pioneer Andy Serkis with WETA Digital helping with the groundbreaking special effects, Rise became an instant hit with fans and nonfans alike. Serkis’ Caesar was a compelling character that made us feel and root for him to win, which meant yes, humans are the bad guys and had to be stopped. We then got Dawn of the Planet of the Apes which added an extra layer, it wasn’t humans vs. apes, it was humans vs. apes vs. apes, thanks to Toby Kebbell’s Koba, who hated what humans did to apes, and Caesar, who saw the good in humans once and believes that there could be peace. Now, of course, we get War for the Planet of the Apes, a great end to a great trilogy.

War picks up a couple years after the events of Dawn, and we now sees Caesar (Andy Serkis) with the remaining apes living in hiding in the woods from a group of soldiers lead by The Colonel (Woody Harrelson). After two attacks on their home, Caesar has had enough and decides to get revenge. Breaking away from the apes, and sending them to a new promised home, Caesar is followed by his trusted and closest friends in Maurice (Karin Konoval), Rocket (Terry Notary) and Luca (Michael Adamthwaite). Eventually they come across a young girl, played by Amiah Miller, who has lost the ability to speak, and Bad Ape (Steve Zahn), an ape that has learned to talk just be being around humans. What follows is Caesar struggling with his darker side to get revenge, but also still trying to remain the leader to his people

Despite the summer releases of all the films, and the massive – and impressive –special effects, this Apes franchise never really feels like a summer movie. They could have easily turned this into a full-fledged apes vs. humans series, but instead they made every film about making Caesar a fully fleshed out and complex character. The film could be looked at as character study on both sides. Are the apes the heroes, or are the humans. Yes, there are good humans like James Franco’s Will or Jason Clarke’s Malcolm, but for every good few humans, there are extremely bad humans like Harrelson’s The Colonel, who take the extreme.

Caesar fights for his people and to keep them safe, but so do the humans, and in this case Woody Harrelson’s The Colonel has a reasonable case for his actions. Although anyone in that kind of position will probably say their position is right, but in this case, he’s somewhat right. That said, that is another reason why I love this rebooted trilogy. It gives you both sides of the argument and lets you choose, but Caesar is such a great character and seeing his journey for three films now, you have to root for him.

Of course, some of that goes to Andy Serkis. Serkis’ subtle nuances always made Caesar feel more human, if that makes some sense. Here it’s the same, Caesar is still conflicted, but still has his purpose but is stuck figuring out if he wants to continue doing things his way or if he falls for the darkness that Koba told him he would and should do. That’s why his advisory here in Harrelson’s The Colonel is a great one. Like Caesar, The Colonel only has one purpose and will do whatever it takes to complete it.

When it comes to the rest of the cast, it’s hard to really judge all of them considering they are mostly all motion-capture. When it comes to the new characters in Bad Ape, he brings some humor to the otherwise dark toned film, and all of it works and is not forced. Then there’s Amiah Miller’s character who is a huge homage and Easter Egg to the original series that ties in where the future of the series can go, but also do their own version. Also, credit to Miller, who’s still relativity new to Hollywood, on what she was able to pull off here given that she doesn’t talk at all.

Speaking of homage and Easter Eggs, War does have a few more besides Miller’s character, but there is something that I really liked that they added that connects to the original. It was something that feels small, but when you look at past films, and potentially future films, it completely works and makes sense – although part of me kind of wishes they don’t make any more after this.

All in all, War for the Planet of the Apes has it all; action, drama, humor, beautiful cinematography by Michael Seresin and score by Michael Giacchino. More importantly, War is a fitting end to a near perfect trilogy that gave us a great character in Caesar played by Andy Serkis. While part of me would somewhat like to see where this franchise goes from here, the other part of me hopes they leave it at that.

War for the Planet of the Apes

4.5 out of 5

July Movie Releases

Hello!

It’s July everybody! The Summer Movie Season is almost over, but it’s not going down without a fight. July has some great movies coming out, especially some anticipated movies for some. So let’s get to it.

 

7th

Limited Release: A Ghost Story (Drama – A24)

Directed by David Lowery (Ain’t Them Bodies Saints and Pete’s Dragon), in this singular exploration of legacy, love, loss and the enormity of existence, a recently deceased, white-sheeted ghost returns to his suburban home to try to reconnect with his bereft wife. The film stars Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara.

 

Spider-Man: Homecoming (Action Adventure – Sony Pictures/Marvel Studios/Columbia Pictures/Pascal Pictures)

Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Tom Holland) begins to navigate his newfound identity as the web-slinging superhero. Of course, this marks the first Spider-Man film were our favorite web-slinger is now part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The film also stars Robert Downey Jr., Marisa Tomei, Zendaya, Michael Keaton, Jon Favreau, Tony Revolori, Michael Chernus, Bokeem Woodbine, Logan Marshall-Green, Angourie Rice, and Donald Glover.

 

14th

Limited Release: Lady Macbeth

Based on the novel by Nikolai Leskov titled “Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk,” a 19th century young bride is sold into marriage to a middle-aged man.

 

Wish Upon (Horror – Broad Green Pictures, Busted Shark Productions)

A teenage girl (Joey King) discovers a box that carries magic powers and a deadly price for using them. The film looks pretty creepy, but I don’t know if I’m completely sold on it yet. The film also stars Ki Hong Lee, Sherilyn Fenn, Elisabeth Rohm, and Ryan Phillippe.

 

War for the Planet of the Apes (Action Drama – 20th Century Fox/Chernin Entertainment)

Caesar (Andy Serkis) and the remaining apes are left to deal with humanities latest attack from a dangerous and determined leader known as The Colonel (Woody Harrelson). The film look fantastic, and this being the third chapter it looks like it could be the best one yet. War for the Planet of the Apes also stars Judy Greer, Steve Zahn, Amiah Miller, Terry Notary and Karin Konoval.

 

21st

Girls Trip (Comedy – Universal Pictures/Will Packer Productions)

When four lifelong friends travel to New Orleans for the annul Essence Festival, sisterhoods are rekindled, wild sides are rediscovered, and there’s enough dancing, drinking, brawling, and romancing to make the Big Easy blush. The film stars Regina Hall, Jada Pinkett Smith, Tiffany Haddish, Deborah Ayorinde, Larenz Tate Kate Walsh and Queen Latifah.

 

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (Sci-Fi Action Adventure – EuropaCorp/Fundamental Films/Gulf Films)

Based on the French comic by Pierre Christin and directed by Luc Besson, time-traveling agent Valerian (Dane DeHaan) is sent to investigate a galactic empire, along with his partner Laureline (Cara Delevingne). The film also stars Ethan Hawke, Rihanna, Sam Spruell, Rutger Hauer, Clive Owen and the voice of John Goodman.

 

Dunkirk (Action Drama – Warner Bros./RatPac-Dune Entertainment/Syncopy)

Directed and written by Christopher Nolan, Allied soldiers from Belgium, Britain, Canada and France are surrounded by the German army and evacuated during a fierce battle in World War II. I got to see the special preview during the IMAX screening of Rogue One, and I seriously took a deep breath afterwards because it was that intense. So if the film is anything like that, I think we’re in for a great ride. Dunkirk stars Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance, James D’Arcy, Aneurin Barnard, Jack Lowden, Harry Styles and Kenneth Branagh.

 

28th

Limited Release: An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power (Documentary – Paramount Pictures, Participant Media, Actual Films)

A decade after An Inconvenient Truth brought climate change into the heart of popular culture comes the follow-up that shows just how close we are to a real energy revolution.

 

The Emoji Movie (Animation – Sony Pictures Animation, Columbia Pictures)

It’s hard to think that an Emoji movie will have a real plot, but it does. Gene (T.J. Miller), a muli-expressional emoji, sets out on a journey to become a normal emoji. The voice cast includes James Corden, Ilana Glazer, Steven Wright and Patrick Stewart.

 

Atomic Blonde (Thriller – Focus Features, 87Eleven, Sierra/Affinity, Closed on Mondays Entertainment, Denver and Delilah Productions)

Based on the graphic novel by Antony Johnston, an undercover MI6 agent (Charlize Theron) is sent to Berlin during the Cold War to investigate the murder of a fellow agent and recover a missing list of double agents. The film also stars Sofia Boutella, James McAvoy, John Goodman, Eddie Marsan, James Faulkner and Toby Jones.

 

What are you looking forward to?

Spoiler Review Preview for The Movie Pit Podcast

The Movie Pit Podcast Spoiler Reviews is a new feature to The Movie Pit Podcast umbrella, where I – and eventually others (hopefully) – will do SPOILER-filled reviews to some of the bigger films that have been released. I’ve already done spoiler-filled reviews for Snatched, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie, Wonder Woman, It Comes At Night and The Mummy. While I won’t be reviewing every film I see, I will do a good chunk of them – again, hopefully. So here I’ll be giving you a brief preview of what I’ll be reviewing and give a little bit of my hopes for the films.

I do want to mention that limited release films, aka indie films, are not included on the list due to, well, their limited release schedule. However, I will review some of the indie/limited released movies I do watch.

Finally, you can see the list only runs until the end of August. I’ll do another list for the rest of the year when we get to that point. Of course, this won’t affect the written non-spoiler reviews, as they will come out as well.

 

The Rest of June

Confirmed Reviews:

Transformers: The Last Knight

To be honest, I’m not looking forward toward The Last Knight. At this point, I couldn’t care less about Transformers anymore. This is a shame, because these movies should have been good, but instead they have transformed (no pun intended) into utter nonsense that I can’t bare with anymore. To be honest, the only reason I continue to torture myself with these movies is because I feel like I have to, and because my sister still loves these movies and drags us out to watch them. Finally, let’s face it, I started a podcast reviewing big films – I’ll torture myself for you guys.

 

Baby Driver

I love Edgar Wright. Everything he’s done I’ve either liked or loved, and Baby Driver looks like a different beast although, with Wright’s signature touch. It also has an incredible cast, looks damn good, and has been getting nothing but awesome reviews from fans – and celebrities – lucky enough to watch it already.

 

Potential Reviews

Despicable Me 3

The House

 

 

July

Confirmed Reviews

Spider-Man: Homecoming

Let’s face it, this was always going to get reviewed. Spider-Man became an instant with his short appearance in Captain America: Civil War, but now we get to see him in his own film and stretch his legs out a bit more with the character. I like Tom Holland, so far, as Peter Parker/Spider-Man, and the fact that we get to see Michael Keaton play the villain – Vulture – is pretty damn awesome and worth the price of the ticket alone.

 

War for the Planets of the Apes

I’ve really enjoyed the two rebooted Planet of the Apes’ films. I think what Andy Serkis has done with Caesar is nothing short of incredible and I can’t wait to see what the potential last chapter of his story has in store for us.

 

Dunkirk

Christopher Nolan is back with this war drama that jumped to my must-watch list when I saw five minutes of the film in front of the IMAX screening of Rogue One. Everything about this movie, based on a real event, looks tension-filled, dramatic and an all around great film. You really can’t go wrong with Nolan.

 

Atomic Blonde

I was already looking forward toward Atomic Blonde when the cast came together. However, what sold me on the film was that first trailer that showed Charlize Theron kicking everyone’s ass John Wick style – the film is directed by one of the John Wick directors David Leitch. Oh, were you expecting me to write more? Well, I won’t, because that’s it. I want to see Theron kick people’s asses John Wick style.

 

Potential Reviews

Wish Upon

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

 

 

August

Confirmed Reviews

The Dark Tower

This has been a project I’ve always read about on the movie news cycle since I started keeping up with the movies news (circa 2005). So finally seeing it become a real thing is great, and with a great lead in Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey playing the villain, The Man in Black, I can’t wait to finally see The Dark Tower on the big screen.

 

Detroit

Kathryn Bigelow returns to the big screen and is tackling the notorious Detroit Riots. Although the film itself won’t be about the actual riots, it does set interconnected stories during those dangerous days.

 

Annabelle: Creation

While Annabelle lacked a certain punch, the sequel – which is a prequel – looks like it will make up for that. The film will see the titled creation of the Annabelle doll as it begins to terrorize a family and children from an orphanage. Oh, and the trailer is scary as shit.

 

The Hitman’s Bodyguard

The quintessential Samuel L. Jackson movie where it seems like he’ll be saying “mother fucker” every two seconds, this looks pretty damn hilarious. And you can’t go wrong with Jackson and Ryan Reynolds together.

 

Logan Lucky

Steven Soderbergh returns to the big screen with this pretty funny looking heist film. I’m sure seeing Daniel Craig play this goofball will be worth the price of admission alone.

 

Potential Reviews

The Glass Castle

Kidnap

 

So what are you looking forward toward the most this month?

‘Jason Bourne’ Review

jason_bourne

Director: Paul Greengrass

Writers: Paul Greengrass and Christopher Rouse

Cast: Matt Damon, Tommy Lee Jones, Alicia Vikander, Vincent Cassel, Julia Stiles, Ato Essandoh, Scott Shepherd, Riz Ahmed, and Gregg Henry

Synopsis: The most dangerous former operative of the CIA is drawn out of hiding to uncover hidden truths about his past.

 

*Reviewer Note: This will be a spoiler free review.*

 

I’ve always been a fan of the Bourne films. There was something about them that made them different from all the other spy films at the time. It helped that Matt Damon completely evolved into the amnesiac CIA operative that went against the people that created him. Also, having a director in Doug Liman and then Paul Greengrass also helped. So when the films decided to go the spinoff route, it was understandable that fans were a little disappointed, but when Damon and Greengrass said they would return fans rejoice and waited for the next chapter of the Jason Bourne series. What we ended up with was a mixed bag of what makes the franchise great, but also a film that could arguably be considered a sequel we didn’t need.

Jason Bourne follows Jason Bourne (Damon) now living off the grid making money but street fighting. However, when former CIA analyst Nicky Parsons (Stiles), who now works for a Wikileaks-type organization, hacks into the CIA and finds a new program called Ironhand, and also finds out Bourne has been connected to the CIA’s deadly programs longer than he thinks, she takes the information hoping to get help from Bourne one more time. The hack doesn’t go as smoothly as she thought because it puts her in the crosshairs of new CIA director Robert Dewey (Jones), and CIA cyber ops head Heather Lee (Vikander). Dewey seemingly thinking Bourne is behind the whole thing sends a new asset (Cassel) to take out Bourne. What follows is Bourne doing this thing of punching, shooting and causing chaos everywhere he goes.

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Jason Bourne seems like it has a lot going on, but at the end of it all the film goes for the action rather than the subplot of political themes. The film looks like it is going one place in a post-Snowden world, but instead just puts it in the back burner after the first act of the film. It’s a bit of a shame considering the films have never shied away from tackling political themes in the past. Jason Bourne tries to go there, but instead chooses to elevate the action sequences – which personally I don’t mind, being an action guy – but knowing what this franchise was built on, it is a bummer to see the film go in that direction.

We even see Bourne finally looking like he’s broken down. He’s not hunting down people from Treadstone or Blackbriar, he’s fighting people for a living – easily winning – but when his memories starting to come back, it does look like it’s having a bigger effect on him. Sure we’ve seen Bourne hurt before, but that is all physical pain, and what we see early on in the film is mental. When Nicky finally finds him and brings him into the fold all that is pushed aside.

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So while it sounds like I didn’t like Jason Bourne, I actually did. The series did always have great action, but it wasn’t just built on it. This film has arguably a couple more action sequences than the other films. Not that it’s a bad thing since the scenes are great. The riot in front of the Greek parliament building really puts you into the action, and the final act of the film in Vegas is non-stop once the action starts and is topped off with the typical brutal and hard-hitting fight between Bourne and the asset.

The cast is great as always. Damon can play Bourne in his sleep at this point, but he never phones it in. Julia Stiles who returns for the opening of the film is a cool sight to see, but something seemed off about Stiles this time around, maybe it was me, but I don’t know. Tommy Lee Jones, who is known to phone it in a lot, looks like he’s there for the most part. It’s hard to tell, considering he plays the old time agent that knows all about Bourne. Alicia Vikander is a great addition to the series, but it hard to get a read on her character for most of the film until the end when we finally know where she stands.

jason-bourne-2016-movie-vincent-cassel

Vincent Cassel plays the asset aka the hit-man. Cassel’s asset is different from the other assets we’ve seen in the other films like Clive Owen, Karl Urban and Edgar Ramirez. Cassel does have connection to Bourne, and has another aspect to his character that seems rather too convenient, but Cassel is a great actor that it doesn’t almost matter because at least more people will get to know him. Finally, Riz Ahmed plays Aaron Kalloor, who does play a factor into the film, but is forgotten for most of the film, and doesn’t really leave in impact which is a shame because Ahmed is a fantastic actor.

All in all, Jason Bourne could arguably be labeled as an unnecessary sequel, but it’s great to see Damon and Greengrass back in this world, that is may not matter to people. The action is great as always and the cast all hold their own. While the film delves away from its political undertones, Jason Bourne has enough for fans of the franchise to enjoy.

Jason Bourne

3.5 out of 5

‘The Purge: Election Year’ Review

purge_election_year_ver2

Director: James DeMonaco

Writer: James DeMonaco

Cast: Frank Grillo, Elizabeth Mitchell, Mykelti Williamson, Josepeh Julian Soria, Betty Gabriel, Terry Serpico, Edwin Hodge, Kyle Secor, Brittany Mirabile, and Raymond J. Barry

Synopsis: Years after sparing the man who killed his son, former police sergeant Barnes has become head of security for Senator Charlie Roan, a Presidential candidate targeted for death on Purge night due to her vow to eliminate the Purge.

 

*Reviewer Note: This will be a spoiler free review.*

 

The Purge films have evolved since the beginning. The first film was set within a home, with Anarchy opening up to the streets, and for the better. Now, with Election Year the action is back on the streets, but this time with political overtones, and arguably fit into today’s political field. But, Election Year doesn’t forget what it is, and goes back to the streets in a gritty and violent fashion.

The Purge: Election Year takes place two years after the events in Anarchy, and brings back hero Leo Barnes (Grillo), now as the head of security for Senator Charlie Roan (Mitchell), who is running for President, and a Purge survivor, on the platform to eliminate the Purge. Of course, this makes her a target for the New Founding Fathers of America – or the NFFA – that want to use the Purge to kill her. Meanwhile, a grocery store owner Joe Dixon (Williamson), his co-worker Marcos (Soria), and friend Laney Rucker (Gabriel), who runs a triage van that helps people during the Purge, get sucked into the mix after purgers go after Joe’s store, and revolutionary Dante Bishop, from the past two films, is leading a charge to put an end to the Purge as well.

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I have to hand it to director and writer James DeMonaco, who constantly changes the world with every film. Anarchy opened the world up and was a great addition to the series. Election Year keeps the action out on the streets, but puts more of the story into the political side of things. That might drive some people away, and it is heavy-handed at times, but DeMonaco does a descent job of not letting the two stances – the Purge being bad and, well, keeping the film true to itself – in check. It does make the film battle itself, but overall Election Year is a good addition to the series.

When it comes to the characters, Frank Grillo’s character doesn’t have the same great arc like Anarchy, but he’s still an unstoppable killing machine when need be to protect Roan. Elizabeth Mitchell’s Senator Roan is the idealistic one that wants to change the world for the better, even after finding out the NFFA wants her dead. Mykelti Williamson and Joseph Julian Soria are arguably the best part of the film. Their chemistry is great together and once they get into the fold with Leo and Roan, it adds a great deal of levity and fun. Betty Gabriel’s Laney has a history that is mentioned in passing, but nothing really happens with the exception of one quick scene.

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Edwin Hodge returns to the series, this time with an actual name in Dante Bishop. For those that don’t remember, Hodge was the Stranger that was in the first film, and had a brief role in the second film at the end. Now, he’s here essentially taking over the Michael Kenneth Williams’ role from Anarchy as the revolutionary trying to stop the Purge, but in a more grand fashion. Terry Serpico plays the leader of a militia group set to kill the Senator. Another interesting cast tidbit, is this is the first time we see the New Founding Father’s of America. They’ve been mentioned in the past, but this is the first time we actually see them, and they are about what you suspect.

The cinematography is great once again, and the Purge events in the film are horrifying as ever with the crazy character costumes and production design. I won’t say that Election Year is better than Anarchy, but with this film going back to more of its horror genre roots, Election Year does set itself apart.

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All in all, The Purge: Election Year is another great addition to the Purge films. While its political tones get a bit heavy handed at times, and get a bit mudded with the overall tone of the film, Election Year is still a hell of a lot of fun.

 

The Purge: Election Year

4 out of 5