Browse Category: Crime

RECAP: The Kingdom

The Kingdom (2007): Peter Berg

Saudi Arabia is the kingdom. Let’s get that out of the way. In case you were wondering.

What happens when local terrorists kill dozens of Americans in Saudi Arabia? You get…Jamie Foxx Investigates.

ONE SENTENCE PLOT SUMMARY: Homegrown Saudi terrorists attack a compound of American oil workers and their families, and the FBI flies in to investigate against the will of many in the Saudi government.  Continue Reading

RECAP: The A-Team

The A-Team (2010): Joe Carnahan

ONE SENTENCE PLOT SUMMARY: Framed for a crime they didn’t commit, a quartet of Army Rangers seeks to clear their names by blowing up a lot of stuff and making a lot of folks mad.  Continue Reading

RECAP: Frank Miller’s Sin City 2: A Dame to Kill For

Frank Miller’s Sin City 2: A Dame to Kill For (2014): Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller

A rant: Let’s stop the trend(?) of enshrining a director’s name to a movie’s title. Frank Miller did it here. Lee Daniels tried the same trick with The Butler. We’ve already succummed to auteur theory; why hammer the nail further?

A Dame to Kill For uses the same storytelling technique as its predecessor: interconnected stories of down-and-out folks in Sin City. This time around, some of the characters we know, and some we don’t.

There’s also a time-skip. For some characters this film is a sequel, for others a prequel. Sounds confusing, but the aspect actually works.

ONE SENTENCE PLOT SUMMARY: Sin City is full of a lot of bad people, and they do bad things to each other, and it’s mostly black and white, and there’s nudity and murders and stuff, and some of the colors pop out, and there’s a lot of scenes.  Continue Reading

RECAP: Sin City

Sin City (2005): Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller

An homage to crime noir, the Sin City comic series earned numerous awards throughout its early 1990s run. Frank Miller lived through a dark time in New York’s history, and he poured that pathos into his black-and-white-and occasional-color comic series.

The film adhered to Miller’s aesthetic in tone and visuals. Perhaps no film has come as close to its source material as Sin City.

ONE SENTENCE PLOT SUMMARY: Three flawed but mostly good guys fight corruption, kidnapping, and murder in the you-don’t-want-to-visit-there town of Basin City, better known as Sin City.  Continue Reading

RECAP: Hardcore Henry

Hardcore Henry (2015): Ilya Naishuller

The video game industry has spent the last decade making its games more cinematic. It follows that the film industry would return the favor.

Hardcore Henry is a film shot entirely in first person, using GoPro cameras attached to stunt actors’ heads, with limited editing, to show us the violent route of a cyborg lover to rescue his wife.

The film was released in 2015 in Russia and 2016 in the US.

ONE SENTENCE PLOT SUMMARY: Henry, newly raised from the dead and part robot, fights through Moscow to reach Akan, the man who kidnapped his wife, Estelle. Continue Reading

RECAP: Red Heat

Red Heat (1988): Walter Hill

Buddy cops were all the rage in the 1980s. Beverly Hills Cop, 48 Hrs., and Lethal Weapon are three examples of genre-defining hits that resonate today.

Red Heat is decidedly in a second tier. It grossed $35 million, less than half of cop parody movie The Naked Gun.

The film has one iconic moment, a shot in which Arnold Schwarzenegger’s body is loving filmed from the ground up. Only the great statues receive better filming.

ONE SENTENCE PLOT SUMMARY: A Soviet cop tracks a Soviet drug dealer through Chicago while a local cop attempts to ruin the investigation.  Continue Reading

RECAP: Heat

Heat (1995): Michael Mann

More than 20 years after appearing in The Godfather: Part II, Al Pacino and Robert De Niro finally appeared together on screen. To drive home the point, both were credited on screen in the opening titles.

Heat hit theaters between Mann’s The Last of the Mohicans and The Insider. Each film is memorable for its uniqueness and Mann’s particular brand of camera work.

And yes, this movie nearly reaches three hours, but three compelling hours, wrapped around an all-time great gun fight.

ONE SENTENCE PLOT SUMMARY: A cop and robber find themselves more alike than not, try to kill each other anyway.  Continue Reading

RECAP: Sicario

Sicario (2015): Denis Villeneuve

What’s more dangerous, more convoluted than policing the drug trade? That question is raised by the 2015 drug update Sicario. What does “sicario” mean? According to the intro, it’s what the Jews called people who actively opposed Roman leaders. In Mexico, a sicario is a hitman.

Acclaimed cinematographer Roger Deakins picked up his 13th overall and fourth consecutive Oscar nomination, all of them losses. The visuals were terrific, but I found Johann Johannsson’s Oscar-nominated score the movie’s real star.

Deakins and Josh Brolin both worked on another movie focusing on the drug war around El Paso, 2008’s Best Picture winner No Country for Old Men.

ONE SENTENCE PLOT SUMMARY: The US wages secret war against the Mexican drug cartels.  Continue Reading

Blackhat

Blackhat (2015): Michael Mann

Subsumed in the Oscar wake of January 2015 came another Michael Mann camera shaker. Critically and commercially, it was a dud. The onscreen action, while explosive, didn’t come enough, and a strange editing choice derailed any chance of hitting with the people.

ONE SENTENCE PLOT SUMMARY: Superhacker Nick Hathaway can get out of jail free if he catches the superhacker who blew up a Chinese nuclear plant.  Continue Reading

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