RECAP: Fast Five

Fast Five (2011): Justin Lin

Bringing a new edge to the Fast franchise, Dwayne Johnson joins Vin Diesel and his family to steal some cars and avoid the law in Rio de Janeiro.

ONE SENTENCE PLOT SUMMARY: Fast cars and bad men, Dominic Toretto ducks the police in Rio while planning to steal $100 million of a crime lord’s funds.  Continue Reading

RECAP: Pirates of the Caribbean

Pirates of the Caribbean (2003): Gore Verbinski

Yo ho yo ho a pirate’s life for me.

So begins the out-of-nowhere leviathan that became the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. From its start as a fun, water-based ride in Disney’s Magic Kingdom, this movie, the original, spawned four sequels (and counting?), grossed more than $4.5 billion worldwide, and remade Johnny Depp into a Keith Richards clone. Quite the success.

ONE SENTENCE PLOT SUMMARY: A loopy pirate recruits a reluctant blacksmith and a governor’s daughter to help him capture a cursed pirate ship roaming the British-era Caribbean.  Continue Reading

RECAP: Miami Vice

Miami Vice (2006): Michael Mann

Crockett and Tubbs, Tubbs and Crockett. Try finding a cooler, more decade-defining duo than those two Miami Vice detectives in the 1980s. They made Miami cool (cooler), pastels cool, and they made it possible to wear t-shirts with sport jackets.

What better way to adapt this hyper-cool TV series than a gritty filmmaker like Michael Mann? OK, a lot better. Mann makes a different movie, a Mann movie, but a good one. And yes, this Crockett and Tubbs are cooler.

Don’t shoot me!

ONE SENTENCE PLOT SUMMARY: When a federal drug sting goes awry, the FBI calls Miami’s top undercover detectives to bust a worldwide cartel operating in Miami.  Continue Reading

RECAP: Thor: The Dark World

Thor: The Dark World (2013): Alan Taylor

After the world-shaking events of The Avengers, Thor flies around the nine realms cleaning up Loki’s mess. He’s also not seen his girlfriend Jane Foster for two years. How will that reunion go?

With a new director, Thor: The Dark World plays as a denouement for The Avengers and a bridge to the upcoming Avengers sequel. That might explain why it grossed half Iron Man 3‘s total and barely beat the unknown Ant-Man released at the end of Marvel’s Phase 2.

Nevertheless, you enjoyed the family bickering, Hiddleston hair, Hemsworth chest, and Asgard aerials. Get ready for round two of Norse gods, because here we go!

ONE SENTENCE PLOT SUMMARY: The Dark Elves, who predate the universe’s nine realms, try to destroy all of creation with the indestructible Aether, and only Thor can stop them.  Continue Reading

RECAP: Assault on Precinct 13 (2005)

Assault on Precinct 13 (2005): Jean-Francois Richet

Remaking any movie is a troublesome prospect. Assault on Precinct 13 is a good choice, if you’re going to remake a classic. The original is well liked, at least a generation old, and made on a tiny budget.

The 2005 remake upgrades everything. Cast, production budget, cameras, even the besieged precinct station gets a second floor. The movie landed with a thud at the box office, but its cast put in a solid effort.

ONE SENTENCE PLOT SUMMARY: It’s New Year’s Eve, and some very bad, very well armed dudes, mad at Detroit cops, surround a decommissioned police station and try to kill the eight cops, criminals, and civilians stuck inside. Continue Reading

RECAP: Lone Survivor

Lone Survivor (2013): Peter Berg

A mission in Afghanistan in 2005 goes terribly wrong, and only one man survives. He writes a book. Peter Berg reads that books. It becomes an early 2014 hit.

ONE SENTENCE PLOT SUMMARY: One Navy SEAL survives a mission gone wrong in Afghanistan in 2005.  Continue Reading

RECAP: Domino

Domino (2005): Tony Scott

A scene late in Domino shows the main characters imbibe spoonfuls of mescalin. For hours they endure insane hallucinations, emotions, and passions, and survive a horrific RV crash that should have torn their bodies in half.

I bring this up now because I believe the entire movie was made by people on mescaline. An intense, jittery experience for two hours, Domino tells a true story, sort of, about a model-turned-bounty hunter.

ONE SENTENCE PLOT SUMMARY: A lithe bounty hunter is caught up in an armored car heist that involves a casino owner, the mob, Jerry Springer, and Beverly Hills 90210. Continue Reading

RECAP: Man on Fire (2004)

Man on Fire (2004): Tony Scott

One of our more underrated action directors, Tony Scott remade a 1987 Mexican movie called Man on Fire.

Denzel Washington, still basking in his Oscar win for Best Actor in Training Day, embarked on a still-ongoing lone-man action bender.

Man on Fire was as good a movie as any for these two under-the-radar giants to meet and make a movie.

ONE SENTENCE PLOT SUMMARY: A down-on-himself ex-CIA agent takes a job as a bodyguard and avenges a young girl after he fails to prevent her kidnapping, setting some people on fire in the process.  Continue Reading

RECAP: Atomic Blonde

Atomic Blonde (2017): Joe Leitch

The success of 2014’s taut action hit John Wick likely got Atomic Blonde green lit. Joe Leitch was one uncredited half of the directing team behind Wick, and Charlize Theron wanted to work with him.

Armed with punishing martial arts and a relentless soundtrack of ’80s pop hits, Atomic Blonde borrows a few elements from John Wick.

ONE SENTENCE PLOT SUMMARY: In 1989, MI-6’s top agent Lorraine Broughton lands in Berlin to recover a list of Soviet agents before it lands in the wrong hands.  Continue Reading

RECAP: xXx: Return of Xander Cage

xXx: Return of Xander Cage (2017): D.J. Caruso

Sing it with me: What the world needs now/is love, sweet–XANDER CAGE MOTORCYCLE SKI SURFING.

What happens when an actor gets a little bored of his multi-billion-dollar action franchise? He works in his multi-million-dollar action franchise.

Look out, Earth, Xander Cage is back, and he’s EXTREMELY EXTREMER THAN EVER.

ONE SENTENCE PLOT SUMMARY: XANDER CAGE SKIS JUNGLES; XANDER CAGE SLEEPS WITH HOT WOMEN; XANDER CAGE PLAYS GRENADE ROULETTE; XANDER CAGE SAVES EARTH. Continue Reading