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    • action
    • superhero
    | May 20, 2018, 9:26 p.m.
    With Ant-Man, Marvel plays it safe. Journeyman Peyton Reed replaced Edgar Wright as director and any hope of edginess or hope of a new style went with him. The finished picture wound up being an especially direct representation of Marvel's favorite hobby horse: daddy issues.
    • action
    • crime
    • superhero
    | Aug. 19, 2018, 4:09 p.m.
    Maybe not the strongest of Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy, Batman Begins is the most carefully crafted. Its distinction as an "origin story" keeps it underrated and pleasant surprise to rediscover
    • action
    • comedy
    | Feb. 3, 2018, 6:58 p.m.
    What a strange film this is! Beverly Hills Cop began its life as a Sylvester Stallone actioner. Stallone didn’t last long in the project (eventually he’d make Cobra as the film he wanted this to be) but the film still feels constructed for him in the opening sequences. Eddie Murphy is surrounded by a cast that doesn’t click at all. When Mikey (James Russo) embraces Axel Foley and professes a brotherly love, the acting is fine, but the two actors share no rapport. Paul Reiser’s tack on role never makes any sense within the context of a police station.
    • action
    • comedy
    • low budget
    • martial arts
    | Nov. 24, 2016, 4:16 p.m.
    Hollywood, as life, is never quite fair. The sure fire winners don’t always win. The talent that’s supposed to become huge stars don’t always graduate to their deserved level even if their work becomes appreciated in due time. If there’s a positive to be found, it’s in films like Blind Fury. Rutger Hauer’s performances in his early European output through American features like Blade Runner and Nighthawks proved he had the chops and the presence of a major Hollywood star, but none of these films panned out in their initial release. By the late eighties Hauer was relegated
    • action
    | Aug. 6, 2017, 4:54 p.m.
    After a routine assassination, Jimmy Bonomo (Sylvester Stallone) and young partner Louis (Jon Seda) gets betrayed by their handler. Instead of collecting a paycheck another hitman (Jason Momoa) lays in wait at the rendezvous point. He makes quick work of Louis but Jimmy escapes unharmed. The original hit caught the attention of an out of town officer, Taylor Kwon (Sung Kang). Unlike the whole of the New Orleans police force, Kwon is able to immediately deduce Jimmy’s involvement. It’s takes a special kind of humility to be featured in a Sylvester Stallone movie. Normally buddy cop films
    • action
    • superhero
    | Oct. 10, 2016, 11:02 p.m.
    There were a few vocal members of the audience at my screening that took great umbrage with Robert Redford. To be fair his Secretary Pierce is a plot contraption who only delivers lengthy exposition coded in politician-speak. Nothing tests the patience of an action film’s audience more. If anything though Robert Redford brought this on himself. Like contemporary Warren Beatty, he was much too selective in choosing roles when a certifiable A-Lister. If you’ve spent the past two decades sporadically appearing in safe and forgettable films don’t expect audiences to come you. I’d love to see Redford role the
    • action
    • crime
    • thriller
    | Jan. 30, 2018, 4:15 p.m.
    Ah... to be trapped in a decades-long crime spiral. Violence increasing every day and the authorities are powerless to prevent it. Music teacher Andrew Norris returns to teaching after a brief absence, taking a job at an inner city school. He’s shocked to find metal detectors for the students and that his fellow faculty are carrying guns for protection. It’s soon clear that violence and lawlessness are endemic in the halls. Student gangs fight for real estate to deal drugs, while coddled by feckless school administrators and ignored by police who won’t act on any crime without a witness.
    • action
    • low budget
    • western
    | Feb. 25, 2017, 7:16 p.m.
    Ennio Morricone knows more about effectively building suspense than director Giulio Petroni in Death Rides a Horse. Where the camera lingers on a scene two beats too long, the score murmurs, pulses and chants in sort of futile compensation. It joins Superfly among the films where the score is the main saving grace. There’s a boy, Bill, who watched bandits shoot his father dead and then murder his mother and sister after a gang rape. He only sees the face of the leader, but glimpses tell tale clues for the others: a tattoo of four aces; a spur;
    • action
    • crime
    • thriller
    | Sept. 3, 2018, 4:27 p.m.
    Dheepan arrived at the right moment as a fully-formed look at the refugee experience in Europe as the migrant waves threatened European Union like nothing else in peace time. It follows at a battle scarred Tamil Tiger who assumes a new identity and family while searching for safety in France. Conflict again threatens his new existence and calls on him to act.
    • action
    • superhero
    | Aug. 19, 2017, 3:37 p.m.
    At a certain point even formulas for success become just formulaic. Of all the metaphysical worries surrounding the plot of Doctor Strange, the production is clearly concerned with becoming just another Marvel movie. It doesn’t help that Strange the character is noticeably similar to Iron Man, Tony Stark. Both learned to sublimate their egos and work for the greater good only after a life-threatening injury forced them to reevaluate their existence. They are even groomed similarly with matching goatees. The leading portion of Doctor Strange has to be yet another comic book origin story and its treated as almost
    • action
    • fantasy
    | May 7, 2017, 1:10 p.m.
    Dragonslayer begins with a view of magic that’s equal parts hookum and fantastic. A small party has arrived at the home of a sorcerer to plead for him to kill an especially ornery dragon. For decades their kingdom’s kept the dragon at bay by offering ritual sacrifice of a virgin maiden, the participant determined by a rigged lottery. After agreeing to hear their case, the sorcerer sends out his young apprentice to “warm up the crowd” and build up his entrance. The apprentice works an array of pots and metal slabs like the sound effects man for
    • action
    • thriller
    | Jan. 14, 2018, 2:03 p.m.
    Perhaps the greatest television movie ever produced, which for the standards of the day meant the most cinematic. So much so that Duel demanded a theater release. For at least a decade as of this writing television has become the refuge of prestige projects, where serious filmmaking thrives and an exciting laboratory to experiment with narrative structure and form. In the days of Duel however, TV was at best a thankless stepping stone to film work. Dennis Weaver plays the lead and perhaps more difficult than fending off a homicidal truck driver he is tasked with carrying
    • action
    • Science Fiction
    | Jan. 7, 2018, 3:22 p.m.
    Tom Cruise’s character Cage is a military spokesman, a draft dodger who found the best way to avoid combat was to enlist. He smugly puts a positive spin on five years worth of failed conflicts with an alien race that’s methodically captured much of Europe. After the humans miraculously win their first battle in Verdun, the military plans an all-out assault around a landing on the beaches of Normandy. How then to read Tom Cruise in “Edge of Tomorrow”? It’s tempting when dealing with an actor who’s actively shaped his films around his desired screen persona to
    • action
    | Aug. 26, 2018, 1:41 p.m.
    A surprisingly effective action film send up of the prison-industrial complex starring Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Did they know what kind of film they were making?
    • action
    • comedy
    • horror
    | Nov. 25, 2018, 4:01 p.m.
    The victim of a concentrated smear campaign during its release, the Ghostbusters remake is fine entertainment, very eager to please and extremely deferential to the source material. The film does pull away from its roots in some notable ways though. Through the eyes of its new protagonists its world is less realistic and less forgiving than previous entries.
    • action
    • drama
    • Science Fiction
    | July 22, 2017, 5:47 p.m.
    At its core Gravity is a classic survival fable. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) is no astronaut, but NASA sends her into orbit as a matter of necessity. She’s the only person who can fix a key component on a telescope. While performing the repair, the detonation of a nearby satelite causes a debris field to leave Ryan stranded thousands of miles above the Earth. In describing his 1971 film, Get Carter, Mike Hodges remarked on his good fortune to have Michael Caine at his disposal. At last he was working with a real movie
    • action
    • Science Fiction
    | May 11, 2017, 10:32 p.m.
    The Marvel process is very familiar by now: hire critically acclaimed directors to add flavor to the scenes between the CGI battles. Hire as many best supporting actor nominees as possible, rounding out the cast with a winner or two for good measure. Center the film around a good looking guy starved until his abs show, and have everyone play it safe. Through these simple steps Marvel has become the premier studio of the day. They aim low--I seriously doubt any of these films will get awarded for their acting, direction, or screenplays--but the quality is so consistent at the
    • action
    • crime
    • thriller
    | May 5, 2018, 7:28 p.m.
    Every era had its superhumans. If we’re currently in the arc of the superheros, the 80’s had its impervious action heros, the mid twentieth century had its sharp shooting cowboys, and the dawning decades of the twentieth century had their master criminals and vigilantes. The Germans had Dr. Mabuse. The Americans had the Shadow. The French had their Fantomas, Lupin, and Judex. The particulars are often similar. The resourceful detective every bit the foil of the protagonist, the masked figure attacking the elite whether seeking justice or just their wealth. Judex is pure vigilante, operating in an
    • action
    | Dec. 17, 2017, 3:57 p.m.
    Matthew Vaughan’s Layer Cake was a pleasant diversion, destined to rise to the top of the $5 Walmart DVD bin. His Kick-Ass worked, but was a rare case of the parts being worth more than the whole. With “Kingsman” he gains full admittance as one of the premier action directors of this generation. First there’s a secretive organization, the Kingsman. Unaffiliated with any government or private enterprise, they spy out of philanthropy. Their agents are fearsome fighters though imbued with a wonderfully British sense of restraint. All of whom are impeccably dressed creatures of means.
    • action
    • drama
    | Aug. 5, 2017, 10:57 a.m.
    Of all the business ruts to get stuck in, there’s a particular frustration with casting your lot with an organization that struggles with success. As a company distinguishes itself in the marketplace, everything around it continues to grow. More press, more employees, more customers, more parasites looking to milk a few dollars. The principles that led the organization in its earliest days are tested. Ownership paradoxically will need to cede control, its just not possible for a leader to perform all the tasks required. Eventually responsibilities are divided amongst a management class. This transition is often incredibly difficult for
    • action
    • black comedy
    • fantasy
    | Nov. 10, 2018, 2:52 p.m.
    In John McTiernan and Arnold Schwarzenegger's second pairing, the sheer bloat of the feature suffocates its merits. What is sold as a wish fulfillment for a lonely boy who finds escape in action films curdles into bitter rebuke for the genre and its fans, wedded to a midlife crisis parable. Last Action Hero ultimately marked the beginning decline of action films.
    • action
    • crime
    | May 12, 2018, 5:53 p.m.
    Two scenes best personify Johnny Mak’s “Long Arm of the Law”. In one the “O Gang” perform a hit in a crowded Hong Kong mall. They execute their mark and throw him off a skybridge. The body lands hard onto a skating rink below, and then springs into motion, darting through the crowd of skaters and ricocheting off the rink walls, a blood trail traces the trajectory of the body. Mak takes incredible glee in this sequence, using POV shots of the body separating the screaming crowd of skaters and multiple establishing shots just emphasize the full extent of
    • action
    • crime
    • thriller
    | Sept. 15, 2018, 3:06 p.m.
    Another strong feature from Villeneuve, who once again conjures a nightmare world out of the familiar. An FBI agent is drafted into a extra legal war against Mexican drug cartels. Even if the twist is announced in the title, it still mars an otherwise effective genre thriller.
    • action
    • crime
    | Sept. 2, 2016, 9:55 p.m.
    Duane Johnson’s casting as John Matthews first comes off as a misfire. He’s an alpha male, a father, a successful blue collar business owner, who happens to look like the Rock, swagger like the Rock, and even cock his head abruptly during conversation as if to smell what is cooking. John Matthews spends the first thirty minutes of Snitch as a typical action hero waiting for glorious combat. When the feds frame his pampered son as a drug dealer, Matthews is not content to let the legal process play out. The boy faces a mandatory minimum of 10 years
    • action
    • Science Fiction
    | May 28, 2017, 2:53 p.m.
    Snowpiercer is promoted as a dystopia. That’s partially correct. More accurately, this a dystopian sci-fi in the vein of 80’s direct-to-video dystopian sci fi. These begin with a ridiculous premise and double down, heaping on more outrageous twists where a more self conscious film would try to justify its conceit. They build their cast from a rainbow of ethnicities, awkwardly assembled. Ultraviolence punctuates the plot, lest the wooden monologs drive away the intended audience. Snowpiercer’s true forebears are films like Trancers, Escape from New York, Eliminators, Day of the Dead, and The Terminator, not Metropolis or 1984. In one
    • action
    • Science Fiction
    | Aug. 25, 2018, 3:11 p.m.
    Justin Lin leads the fifth or sixth revival of the Star Trek franchise, taking the reigns from JJ Abrams. His physics defying antics are deployed to mixed results, but the final product is strong genre entertainment
    • action
    • horror
    • military
    • thriller
    | June 17, 2018, 2:08 p.m.
    The sins of endless, overseas war come to roost when a former comrade of the Peterson's fallen son visits their home and becomes a fixture in their life. This is as far into critique of military-culture The Guest is comfortable with but its enough to fashion an solid genre-horror/thriller.
    • action
    • crime
    • martial arts
    | Aug. 9, 2016, 12:17 a.m.
    Comparing a film to a video game is generally a slight made by critics who couldn’t even turn on a console. Being marked as such doesn’t mean the production set out to pay homage to video games, instead that they let their excesses overwhelm the production in terms of violence, thin characterization, or sexuality. However, what if a movie really took its cues from a genuine video game experience? The narrative frameworks that grown and evolved with the successful medium? Even the films based on game properties cherry pick pieces from their sources and graft them onto typical Syd
    • action
    • Science Fiction
    • thriller
    | June 30, 2018, 1:12 p.m.
    In the greatest example of VHS sci-fi, a cyborg assassin from the future relentlessly hunts the mother to-be of a resistance leader.
    • action
    | Jan. 5, 2017, 11:49 p.m.
    By 1985 Miami Vice was a year old, a runaway sensation that codified all of the 80’s action genre signifiers: pastel mood lighting; John Carpenter-patented propulsive soundtrack interrupted by the contemporary rock hit; urban neon landscapes; and a snarky, too tough to care leading star. This was a breezy, stylish world that lobotomized the paranoid 70’s thriller, and instead of a corrupt government bearing down on the hero, it was now career criminals made rich off of victimless-crime empires. Their biggest sin was confidently inhabiting a life of privilege that the hero could only intrude upon through the law.
    • action
    • drama
    • mindfuck
    | Oct. 14, 2018, 1:32 p.m.
    A disgraced former detective must wrestle with the darkness that grew in his daughter as he searches for her