Browse Category: Spy

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

RECAP: The Bourne Identity

The Bourne Identity (2002): Doug Liman

Based on the Robert Ludlum series of books, The Bourne Identity came to theaters 22 years its eponymous novel. More importantly, the movie arrived on the heels of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, an event that forced any movie dealing with the US government, terrorism, or Americans abroad and in trouble to be viewed through that lens.

The Bourne Identity was filmed before 9/11, and that probably saved it. Director Liman often battled with the studio, which wanted several reshoots and rewrites, and we can only imagine that a huge terrorist attack would have woven into the story had the timing worked. Somehow, the movie came out great.

ONE SENTENCE PLOT SUMMARY: A man with superior fighting skills awakens in the sea with no memory of who is, and he fights a lot of people until he finds out his identity. Continue Reading

RECAP: xXx

xXx (2002): Rob Cohen

The makers of xXx probably got sick of James Bond movies being so wussy. They wanted an American answer bred in the streets, in the projects, from the best and brightest the non-debonair classes have to offer. They invented Xander Cage.

Capitalizing on his Fast and Furious success, Vin Diesel plays basically the same character. xXx could be a Dominic Toretto origin story until he’s recruited by the NSA.

ONE SENTENCE PLOT SUMMARY: An EXTREME daredevil joins the NSA to hunt Russian anarchists determined to overthrow governments while listening to Rammstein. Continue Reading

RECAP: Jason Bourne

Jason Bourne (2016): Paul Greengrass

Strap on your puke bags, kiddos, because Greengrass and Damon are back to shaky-cam you to oblivion. After a forgettable Bourne outing minus Bourne, Matt Damon returns to the fold for a cool $25 million, and to right a few more wrongs buried in his forgotten past.

ONE SENTENCE PLOT SUMMARY: Jason Bourne returns to the grid to find out what his father had to do with Bourne’s crappy adult life as an assassin.   Continue Reading

RECAP: Kingsman: The Secret Service

Kingsman: The Secret Service (2015): Matthew Vaughn

Perhaps, when you saw the trailer for Kingsman, you balked at the thought of Colin “White Gloves” Firth in an action role. I did.

Turns out that an Oscar winner for Best Actor possesses some skill at acting. The old dandy nearly pulled it off.

Kingsman was enough of a feel-good action movie about murdering billions to earn nearly five times its budget, making it a sleeper success, especially considering its February release date (this film coming one year before Deadpool.

ONE SENTENCE PLOT SUMMARY: A British secret agency, no, not THAT secret agency, recruits a troubled lad to replace a fallen gentleman and help save the world from–gasp–an American. Continue Reading

RECAP: Mission: Impossible 3

Mission: Impossible 3 (2006): J.J. Abrams

After an underwhelming sequel from John Woo, world-class cinematic entertainer J.J. Abrams got the reins of the Impossible Franchise.

It’s hard to believe, ten years on, that hiring Abrams was a bit of a risky proposition. He had never tried a straight action movie before, but he was certainly a god on the small screen.

Felicity, Alias, and Lost were about as big as TV hits got in the 21st century. Still, Abrams directing was not the lead story. Instead, it was, as usual, that Tom Cruise was in the movie.

ONE SENTENCE PLOT SUMMARY: Superspy Ethan Hunt wants to quit the spy game, but a kidnapped former student draws him back to the field.  Continue Reading

RECAP: Clear and Present Danger

Clear and Present Danger (1994): Phillip Noyce

Harrison Ford became the only person to play Jack Ryan twice, when he took another turn capably bumbling through a mission for the CIA.

ONE SENTENCE PLOT SUMMARY: Colombian drug lords pose a clear and present danger to the United States, and the president decides to fight against them, in secret.  Continue Reading

RECAP: The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015): Guy Ritchie

Guy Ritchie’s interpretation of the 1960s TV spy classic was the first of two 2015 films to depict Berlin’s famous Checkpoint Charlie, suspect Number One to be flashpoint of World War III.

You can learn all you need to know about the style of these two movies (Steven Spielberg’s Bridge of Spies was the other) from how they film this checkpoint.

In The Man from U.N.C.L.E. a dapper man confidently walks to the checkpoint in the summer in bright daylight. In Bridge of Spies a car slowly creeps to the checkpoint at night in a snowstorm. Ritchie tells us to get ready for some fun, and style, and that’s what we get.

ONE SENTENCE PLOT SUMMARY: Mr. Solo, a suave womanizer (no, a different Mr. Solo), teams up with a KGB agent and a car mechanic to track a black market atom bomb.  Continue Reading

RECAP: Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014): Kenneth Branagh

Kenneth Branagh descended from atop his mountain of Shakespearean prestige and Marvel money to direct and appear in this tight, Clancy-inspired thriller. He does a bang-up job.

This movie came out in January, a major setback for its box office chances and the future of the character, a shame, because Branagh’s movie is every bit as good as those Bourne movies, and devoid of nauseating handheld cameras.

ONE SENTENCE PLOT SUMMARY: CIA operative Jack Ryan clashes with Russian terrorists, all while keeping his girlfriend from dumping him. Continue Reading

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