Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Taylor Kitsch’

Chadwick Boseman, Sienna Miller

“21 BRIDGES” My rating: C (Opens wide on Nov. 22)

99 minutes | MPAA rating: R

To the extent that it delivers a series of adrenaline-stoked action sequences and a ridiculously high body count, Brian Kirk’s “21 Bridges” should satisfy audiences looking for a thrill.

And that’s about it.

Not even the presence of the versatile  Chadwick Baseman (whose roles range from Jackie Robinson and Thurgood Marshall to the Black Panther) and the eerily transforming Sienna Miller can elevate this piece above “mehhh” status.

The first half of Adam Mervis and Matthew Michael Carnahan’s screenplay (and by far the better half) is a manhunt told from the points of view of two couples — a pair of crooks on the run  and a pair of cops on their heels.

In the opening sequence a couple of well-armed thugs, Michael and Ray (Stephan James, Taylor Kitsch) hit a posh New York City restaurant late at night after closing.  They’ve been told there’s 30 kilos of cocaine hidden in the eatery; they are perplexed to discover it’s more like 300 kilos, way more than they can carry out.

To further complicate matters,  a bunch of cops show up.  Maybe they are looking for a late-night snack.  In any case, there’s a gun battle that leaves eight of New York’s finest headed to the morgue.  The perps take off running.

Stephan James, Taylor Kitsch

The filmmakers at least try for plausible back stories.  Michael and Ray are ex-military; Ray is by far the more ruthless of the two, but Kitsch gives him just enough charisma to keep us interested.  Michael basically finds himself in over his head.

On the other side of the coin are detectives Andre Davis (Boseman) and Frankie Burns (Sienna Miller, almost unrecognizable with no makeup), thrown together to manage a city-wide manhunt for the cop killers.

Again, an attempt is made to provide some depth to the characters.  Davis is himself the son of a slain cop who regularly faces Internal Affairs hearings for his marksmanship (eight fatal shootings in as many years); he maintains he never fires first. Burns is a single mom with a Brooklyn accent.

To keep the crooks from leaving town, Davis imposes a 1 a.m.-to-sunup closure of all 21 bridges leading into and out of Manhattan Island.  He’s got five hours before the quarantine will be lifted and rush hour begins. (Thus the movie’s title…though once the roads are blocked the film never returns to them. Another title would have been “21 Body Bags.”)

An already perplexing case is made even more unmanageable by the dead officers’ revenge-minded colleagues (J.K. Simmons plays their precinct chief). These cops have a bad habit of killing witnesses before Davis can interview them.

In the film’s second half it dawns on Davis that there may be more to this case than meets the eye…we’re talking corruption in high places. (And you can only imagine the paperwork demanded of our hero after personally killing a dozen people.)

“21 Bridges” has been well made.  The acting is OK. The shots of NYC at night are sometimes eerily atmospheric.

On the whole, though, the film is more blah than bad. Instantly forgettable.

| Robert W. Butler

Read Full Post »

Brendon Gleeson, Taylor Kitsch

Brendon Gleeson, Taylor Kitsch

“THE GRAND SEDUCTION”  My rating: C+ (Opening June 27 at the Glenwood Arts)

113 minutes | MPAA rating: PG-13

 

We know exactly what the Canadian comedy “The Grand Seduction” is trying to do.

Only problem is that it’s been done so much better by movies like”Local Hero” and “Doc Hollywood” and the TV show “Northern Exposure.”

The premise has “quaint” and “quirky” scrawled all over it.  For a full generation, the residents of the tiny fishing village of Tickle Head on the coast of Newfoundland have watched their tiny burg deteriorate. The once-busy harbor is now all but empty. Nowadays nobody fishes for a living.  Just about every adult  is on welfare.

There’s a slim chance that a petrochemical company may be enticed to set up a recycling plant there.  One of the requirements, though, is that Tickle Head have a full-time physician.

So the locals, led by the usually inactive Murray French (Brendan Gleeson) — whose totem animal should be a hibernating, grouchy bear — launch a massive deception to lure an M.D.  Their target is Dr. Paul Lewis (Taylor Kitsch), who after a run-in with the law is assigned to do a few weeks of public service in Tickle Head.

Murray and company use the Internet to find out everything they can about Paul. Learning that he’s a cricket fanatic, they create a team of former fishermen and outfit them with makeshift uniforms and equipment (a sawed-off rowboat oar becomes a cricket bat). Even more galling, as long as the doc is in town the menfolk who gather to watch cable TV in the local bar must eschew the hockey championship while pretending to be enthusiastic about reruns of famous cricket matches.

(more…)

Read Full Post »

lone-survivor-wahlberg“LONE SURVIVOR” My rating: B (Opens wide on Jan. 10)

121 minutes | MPAA rating: R

A superior action film based on real events, “Lone Survivor” is a modern update of the classic “lost patrol” movie in which a small unit of soldiers is trapped behind enemy lines and, often, doomed to fight to the last man.

It was inspired by Operation Red Wings, a 2005 mission in which four Navy SEALs were dropped in the mountains of Afghanistan to locate and keep tabs on a Taliban war lord.  As the title suggests, it didn’t go well.

The opening credits of writer/director Peter Berg’s action drama unfold against documentary footage of the grueling (some might say sadistic) training that potential SEALs must negotiate to become part of this elite fighting force. It’s so rough that bodies and spirits begin to break down. For some classes the dropout rate is 90 percent.

The ones who last are tough bastards.

The film proper begins with one of the SEALSs, Marcus Luttrell (Mark Wahlberg), being evacuated by a rescue team. He’s been badly wounded and dies as the medics scramble to revive and stabilize him.

Berg’s screenplay, adapted from the non-fiction book by Luttrell and Patrick Robinson (obviously, Luttrell lived to tell the tale), then flashes back several days as the four members of Operation Red Wings are briefed and make preparations for their mission.

(more…)

Read Full Post »

“THE BANG-BANG CLUB” (Now available)

The movies love war correspondents.

For one thing, it’s an inherently dramatic profession. And then there’s the compelling ambivalence of civil wars without clear-cut rules of combat, of conflicts where it’s hard to differentiate between soldier and civilian.

Two classics of the genre are “Under Fire” (1983) with Nick Nolte and Gene Hackman and Oliver Stone’s “Salvador” (1986).

More recently the upheaval in the Balkans has generated several memorable combat correspondent flicks, like “Welcome to Sarajevo” (1997) and “The Hunting Party” (2007).

These movies always pivot on questions of ethics and mortality.

First, should a journalist (writer, photographer, broadcaster) ever take sides, even if genocide is involved? Second, what are the chances of said journalist getting his/her head blown off?

The latest entry to the genre is “The Bang-Bang Club,” a mostly factual recreation of life in South Africa in the early 1990s (more…)

Read Full Post »