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Tag Archives: FBI

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Black Mass: follows the criminal activities of the notorious James “Whitey” Bulger and his closest conspirators. First off; why the fuck would anyone want to make such a pointless film? One that tells the story of an evil murderer, pointing out that he’s an evil murderer by showing him commit and sanction said evil murders. We get it; but y tho? There’s no arc, no development, no story… it’s just a series of decreasingly effective cold-blooded killings. The pacing is dead slow, full of unlikable characters and shows zero motivation for anyone’s actions; especially the vampiric and despicable lead. If anything, it felt farcical that a FBI would allow such openly compromised detective to continue working on cases they were obviously invested in! Being set in Boston we’re treated to everyone trying (but failing) to nail BAWSTAN accent: Cumberbatch lands poll position with a change in both pitch and hammy accent, that feels like a straight-up comedy voice. The ensemble cast are phenomenal, but nobody is given a credible character to work with, and although he’s as good as he’s been in the last 10 years or so Johnny Depp continues his obsession with distracting dressing up / make up to get in to character. Black mass is well shot, boasts a couple of good scenes, and a decent central performance but it is the opposite of an enjoyable or interesting film.  It’s the film that nobody was crying out for; and a great companion piece for Killing Them Softly.

Score: 2/10

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The Heat Sandra Bullock, Melissa McCarthy, Demián Bichir, Marlon Wayans, Michael Rapaport, Jane Curtin, Dan Bakkedahl, Taran Killam, Michael McDonald, Spoken Reasons, Tom Wilson, Tony Hale

The Heat: a talented but unlikable by-the-book FBI agent is paired with an unorthodox-but-gets-results detective. It’s one film where FBI could mean ‘Female Body Inspector’ like those awesome t-shirts you see guys wearing on holiday (aside: they’re not awesome). Bullock is clearly going through an “I work hard on this body, so will show it off as much as possible” phase… no complaints over here. Joke-wise, it’s got a few good laughs, but unlike Bridesmaids original script the funnies here are much lazier; with Boston stereotypes, racism, vulgarity, and albinos doing all the work. The elongated drunken montage / gratuitous dance scene underlines that this is definitely more humor than humour. At two hours the film outstays its welcome a little; every scene (and joke) feels stretched out to the max, and it feels like there was a lot of ad-libbing that nobody was allowed to cut out. Other than the central pairing being two wimin’, there’s not much here that we haven’t all seen before. The Heat started off quite strongly, but soon went down the well-worn ‘mismatched buddy cop’ path: but you expected something different – or better – given the caliber involved.

Score: 4/10

The Night Manager Cast BBC AMC Roper Birch Pine, John le Carré, Tom Hiddleston, Hugh Laurie, Olivia Colman, Tom Hollander, Elizabeth Debicki, Alistair Petrie, Douglas Hodge, David Harewood, Tobias Menzies, Michael Nardone

The Night Manager: a hotel manager is recruited by the British Gov to infiltrate a ruthless arms dealer’s inner circle. I can’t remember the last time the BBC threw this much money, stars, and talent at one project. Yet for such an accomplished cast, it felt like a faux pas to cast the leading lady as a relatively unknown; she struggles to keep up with the big and entertaining performances of villainous Roper (Laurie), heroic Pine (Hiddleston), and vivacious Corky (Hollander). Style-wise, this feels like a very expensive pitch for Loki to become 007: he even has the audacity to order a Vodka Martini in the final episode (WTF M8!?!) It’s all a bit ‘classic Flemming’, boasting the hallmarks of an old-school Bond film; from the decadent credits through to stellar production values and globe-trotting espionage. The disappointment is that it only dips a toe in the Bond waters: the plot’s far-fetched, but not too daft; the villain is dastardly, but not a megalomaniac; the hero is sufficiently heroic, but not an espionage badass… At six episodes, the setup, ending, and central plot of infiltrating an arm’s dealer feel rushed – sacrificing your belief in the story for as much drama, murder, action and boobs that the run-time will allow. The ending also feels quite spineless – turning its back on the pulpy / hardboiled vibe that the story built and opting for a happy, wide-open-for-a-sequel finale. Overall, The Night Manager looks fantastic, and is completely watchable… because it’s actually more of a saucy and sensational spy romp, than the classy espionage thriller it’s presented as.

Score: 7/10

Danger 5 Season 2 David Ashby, Natasa Ristic, Sean James Murphy, Amanda Simons, Tilman Vogler, Pacharo Mzembe, Elizabeth Hay, Fumito Arai, Robert Tompkins, Nathan Cain, Daniel Becker

Danger 5 (Season 2): the team of global super spies are re-united, this time in the 1980s, to stop another of Hitler’s quests for world domination. It’s soon apparent that this is – paradoxically – undeniably Danger 5, but also quite different to the previous season. The writers tampered with the cocktail recipe a little too much; Pierre has totally changed for no explained reason, another lead was swapped out for a ridiculous brat-character, most of the established running jokes dropped, and 80s throwback has been done to death lately – giving it a less cool / kitsch feel than the 1960s format. On the other hand the show manages to remain funny, wacky, surreal, psychedelic, and a celebration of satire (there’s an episode called “Back to the Führer” – come on!). I hate using the word ‘random’, but the ‘randomness’, madness and surrealism of the gags is the main thing that raises Danger 5 and sets it apart from the mediocrity that you expect of most modern comedies. All of the changes add up to fewer laughs per episode, but despite this Danger 5 Season 2 is still a great show, that is equally bonkers – but has a significantly different look and feel.

Score: 7/10

Danger 5 Season 2 3 David Ashby, Natasa Ristic, Sean James Murphy, Amanda Simons, Tilman Vogler, Pacharo Mzembe, Elizabeth Hay, Fumito Arai, Robert Tompkins, Nathan Cain, Daniel Becker Season 5 Season 2 4 David Ashby, Natasa Ristic, Sean James Murphy, Amanda Simons, Tilman Vogler, Pacharo Mzembe, Elizabeth Hay, Fumito Arai, Robert Tompkins, Nathan Cain, Daniel Becker Danger 5 Season 2 2 David Ashby, Natasa Ristic, Sean James Murphy, Amanda Simons, Tilman Vogler, Pacharo Mzembe, Elizabeth Hay, Fumito Arai, Robert Tompkins, Nathan Cain, Daniel Becker

The Last Stand 1 Arnold Schwarzenegger, Forest Whitaker, Johnny Knoxville. Rodrigo Santoro, Luis Guzmán, Jaimie Alexander, Eduardo Noriega, Peter Stormare, Zach Gilford, Génesis RodríguezThe Last Stand: as an escaped cartel leader speeds towards freedom at the USA-Mexico border, his last obstacle is a badass sheriff, and his unlikely crew of deputies. It’s nothing short of jaw-dropping when you see Arnie‘s total lack of acting skill and inability to construct sentences in English, especially given his on and off-screen careers! Still, his presence and entertainment factor are still there in abundance, and far outweigh his shortcomings. The supporting cast all did a decent job, and I love how massive foreign film stars always get drafted in as default action bad-guys. For me, this was missing a lot of director’s signature style and flair, other than the odd jaunty angle, although he really shines throughout the finalé and brilliantly handled action scenes – escape sequence, shoot out – as well as general stunt driving / automotive action. There’s also, a load of funny moments, and one-liners, that are far superior to Arnie’s groan-inducing cheesy quips. A cynic would point out that The Last Stand is a formulaic ‘outumbered & out-gunned’ story, with as many rookie cop / small-town cop / FBI / Cartel tropes that you could squeeze in… but when a world-class director meets an action legend, its explosive entertainment.

Score: 7.5/10

The Last Stand 2 Arnold Schwarzenegger, Forest Whitaker, Johnny Knoxville. Rodrigo Santoro, Luis Guzmán, Jaimie Alexander, Eduardo Noriega, Peter Stormare, Zach Gilford, Génesis Rodríguez

The Fast and the Furious Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Rick Yune, Chad Lindberg, Johnny Strong, Matt Schulze, Ted Levine, Ja Rule, Vyto Ruginis, Thom Barry, Stanton Rutledge, Noel Gugliemi

“I live my life a quarter-mile at a time…Nothings else matters, not the store, not the mortage, not the garage, not my friends or any of their bullshit. For those 10 seconds or less, I’m free.”

The Fast and the Furious: an undercover cop infiltrates an LA street racing scene in the hopes of busting a ring of hijackers with crazy-good driving skills. So it’s not the most ambitious, smartest, or brilliant piece of film-making, but ‘TFATF’ does what it does really well. It’s brimming with bicep-bulging machismo, dangerously-torqued grotesque muscle cars, nearly-nude dance / club girls, thick green wedges of dead presidents and general glorification of the thug life… There’s a pretty cool soundtrack (for the time), but it’s a little dated now – although dance/trance/rave pounding through entire scenes makes it feel like an arcade game. The characters are all fairly stereotypical, the script’s as cheesy as they come, but these are cancelled out by some decent action set-pieces, some serious stunt-driving, and what’s essentially a ton of car-porn. My biggest gripe is that it feels far too derivative of previous undercover action films like Point Break and No Man’s Land. It’s easy to sneer at a film this dumb, but you’ve got to admire how a bunch of car fanatics could get together and turn out a film with a decent story, awesome cars, great stunts and above all – keep it broad and entertaining.

Score: 6.5/10

The fast and the Furious II Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Rick Yune, Chad Lindberg, Johnny Strong, Matt Schulze, Ted Levine, Ja Rule, Vyto Ruginis, Thom Barry, Stanton Rutledge, Noel Gugliemi

The Informant!: follows ADM executive Mark Whitacre, and his turbulent relationship with colleagues and the FBI during a global corporate price-fixing conspiracy. What hits you first is the lo-fi, softly lit yellow hue’d, old-skool, late 1960s TV aesthetic that dominates the style – no film has looked like this for decades, which makes it stand out. To match this there’s a snappy, finger clickin’ jazzy soundtrack with a hint of old spy movie about it – no coincidence there. Damon is superb as the conflicted lead in both his  performance and physical transformation – a tubbier frame, moustache and wig puts decades on him. The supporting cast are interesting choices given the number of out-and-out comedians giving restrained performances – but it works. The Informant! boils down to being a two-man show: one at each side of the camera lens. Soderbergh has taken a massive corporate crime story and turned it into a quirky little white-collar caper – and whilst it’s entertaining enough, the story would have had more impact as a flat-out documentary.

Score: 6/10