“Come out to the coast, we’ll get together, have a few laughs…”
Die Hard: European terrorists hold up a skyscraper and are issuing a lot of bogus demands; unbeknownst to them, NYPD’s biggest badass is crawling around in the air-ducts. John McClane is undoubtedly one of cinema’s greatest action heroes – the cheeky chap with so many timeless quips that have been ingrained into the general consciousness. For some reason, against all of the cut/paste Communist/Russian terrorists in 1980s movies the fact that the Die Hard baddies are German feels inspired. The film contains everything that was great about that era’s action films – right down to the male toplessness, black/white cooperation, violence, and a boss-fight within a perilous industrial setting. Most interestingly, although you couldn’t imagine anyone else playing the lead roles, this was both Willis’ and Rickman’s first big movies – and McClane had previously been offered to Arnie, Sly, Ford, Gere, Reynolds, Eastwood – so the casting director is an absolute hero. Decades later, this is still one of the best examples of a timeless action movie; and the re-watchability factor alone makes this an instant classic. Not just the best Christmas movie ever, but one of the best movies ever. If you don’t like this, I don’t like you!
The Other Guys: when New York’s most badass detectives come to an untimely end, two unlikely schmucks try to step up and fill the gap. Didn’t expect much from this one but was pleasantly surprised by how funny the film was, with Wahlberg and Ferrell both flexing their comedic muscles with ease. The script and scenarios do a great job of mocking every buddy-cop-film scenario you could think of; and there’s a few amazing running gags about Ferrell’s past and Keaton‘s chief detective unknowingly quoting TLC songs. Story-wise, it follows the classic up-down-up relationship you see in these movies, but it loses its way a little by the end when the jokes thin out and the story needs a-wrappin’ up. Didn’t really understand the random narration from Ice-T, and despite the film being entertaining enough the infographic credits were one of the most interesting parts of the film! The Other Guys isn’t a masterpiece by any stretch but it’s absolutely carried by all of the jokes – especially the delivery by Will and Marky – which make it funnier and more quotable than your average buddy cop comedy.
Black Rain: a NYPD officer escorts a known Yakuza back to Japan; when the criminal escapes the mulleted cop must find him to prove his innocence, and serve up some justice-flavoured sushi! First off, this is a visual fantasy / offensively stereotypical Japan; there’s neon signs, neon trucks, neon clubs, neon everything (in Osaka there’s only a handful of streets lit like this), doesn’t matter though, it looks great. I’m also sure that not everyone in Japan is efficient with a katana, is a gangster, writes Kanji, wears traditional robes, or sings karaoke… but I’ll let that slide too. For the sake of equality Garcia plays a dumb, loud New York schmuck stereotype. Being a Ridley Scott flick, there’s a lot of manliness in every frame; motorbike races, fighting, broody man hero, all culminating in a laughable / ludicrous fight at the end. The one woman in the film is there purely to be lured at. Technically it’s good to watch, poppy/distracting visuals, despite ageing quite badly, but there are a few ill-judged scenes like the Garcia karaoke debacle. If you want a Japanese culture on steroids, ‘man film’, with motorbikes and a whole lotta mullet – this is the film for you! For being so highly regarded Black Rain is just feels like another terminally cheesy, typical 1980s, cop-out-of-water action flick – with a bit more budget than most.
24 – Season 8: Quite a strange season. The episodes seemed to alternate between good and boring; but when it was boring it centres around the political aspect of the story, which bogs the entire season down and doesn’t have shit on the Palmer years. Because all the good people get killed off for dramatic effect the acting roster’s diluted beyond recognition. In the crap corner we have President Taylor. Dana Walsh, Rob Weiss, Charles ‘the human scrotum’ Logan, Kim Bauer, Meredith Reed… Most of the others are in the middle of the ring, sketchy at best – exceptions being rock solid Ethan Kanin, Michael Madsen super-typecast cameo and Dailia Hassan; who single-handedly blows the rest of the cast away with her intense performance. Jack’s looking older, but still talking ridiculously fast, and if there ever was a moral line he’s been treading for the past 7 years he finally flies over the edge – which sees his story change from the familiar risque agent to a full-on revenge rampage. Story-wise the plot-holes were more like black holes; Rene (real or fake?) infiltrating the Russian mob for five years… mmmmm, that wasn’t mentioned before, and the token mole was so rubbish and predictable. Given all of the memorable twists, turns, highs and lows through all eight seasons the ending was a very, very disappointing cop out, leaving the scope of the upcoming movie wide open. There were a few great scenes and turning points but in general we had seen everything here before.
Note: I’m actually relieved that it’s finally been axed because the show and format had ran out of ideas around season 3. It was like to watching a new pet grow up, have its glory days, then become lamer and lamer to the point where it needed to be taken into the garden and smashed over the head with a brick, for its own sake.