Marc Butan

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Triple 9 Review

Good

After a post-apocalyptic dystopia (The Road) and Prohibition-era America (Lawless), Australian director John Hillcoat brings his edgy Wild West sensibilities to this gritty present-day heist thriller. The film is fierce and stylish, and utterly gripping even though there's the nagging sensation that nothing is happening under the surface. Thankfully, the actors add plenty of terrific texture to their characters.

It's set in Atlanta, where Terrell (Chiwetel Ejiofor) leads his crew of thugs (Anthony Mackie, Clifton Collins Jr., Aaron Paul and Norman Reedus) through a riotously dangerous bank robbery. They're working for the cold-hearted Russian mobster Irina (Kate Winslet), who demands an even bigger heist before she'll pay them. Terrell has a child with Irina, so feels like he has little choice in the matter, but his team is made up of unstable hotheads and corrupt cops who have their own opinions. One of the cops also has a new partner in Chris (Casey Affleck), a tenacious good guy who's the nephew of a cynical detective (Woody Harrelson) who's just beginning to crack this case. So the gang decides to distract the city's police force with a triple 9, code for a downed officer, while they carry out their next elaborate robbery. The question is who will take the bullet.

Matt Cook's script is a bundle of mad twists and turns, usually the result of impulsive gang members who act without thinking. The tension is very high, as each person's morality is warped at every turn. All while Chris tries to remain upright in the middle of a storm he doesn't quite understand. Each character is up against a wall, ready to do whatever it takes to survive in a situation that is getting increasingly out of control. And without more subtext, or at least a sense of these people's back-stories, no one on-screen is very likeable.

Continue reading: Triple 9 Review

We Own The Night Review


OK
James Gray has assembled what looks and sounds like a good, smart thriller with We Own the Night: a strong cast, serious aspirations, a specific time and place (Brooklyn, 1988). The story is shopworn, but not without dramatic potential: Joaquin Phoenix and Mark Wahlberg play brothers on the opposite-ish sides of the law; Joseph (Wahlberg) has followed in the footsteps of their father (Robert Duvall) and joined the NYPD while Bobby (Phoenix) rebels by running a seedy nightclub. With a drug dealer inching into Bobby's territory, he's forced to reconsider his loyalties.

Meanwhile, the movie forces me to reconsider my own, because it spends a lot more time seeming like a good movie than actually being one. For a film with such an ominous, encompassing title, We Own the Night is content to skim the surface of the NYPD, lacking the obsessive attention to detail that distinguishes other crime-heavy glimpses into bygone American eras as diverse as Gangs of New York, Zodiac, or The Assassination of the Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. Even Night's period details feel half-assed and incidental, like background songs that sound more like bits of '90s soundtracks to '80s-set movies instead of 1988 itself. In fact, though an early subtitle says so, the year doesn't even seem to be 1988 in particular but a vague, amorphous "eighties," Wedding Singer style.

Continue reading: We Own The Night Review

Get Over It Review


OK
Get Over It at least has one thing that a lot of other high school movies don't: earnest, affable leads. It also has all of the key flaws that make going to teen movies so risky: an almost unbearable goofy streak, a plot with the strength of a newborn fawn, and bland supporting characters.

The movie makes the same mistakes over and over and eventually drains one's patience, but yet I stuck around because the leads played kids I would have liked to know.

Continue reading: Get Over It Review

Godsend Review


Weak
Watching Godsend compares to eating a gallon of fudge-filled chocolate ice cream minutes before going to bed. You know it's bad for you, but the experience is tons of fun. Soon enough, though, the gooey dessert stops tasting so good. By the time you near the bottom of the container, you can't even justify why you continue to swallow spoonfuls, but you keep eating despite the fact that it doesn't make sense to continue.

That also explains director Nick Hamm's jackhammer approach to his material. He knows he's working with a cheesy campfire story, the kind best whispered to terrified boy scouts in the dead of night. But he's sadly unaware of when enough is enough, and his final act becomes a series of ludicrous scientific explanations offset by cheap jolts to our nervous system.

Continue reading: Godsend Review

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Marc Butan Movies

Triple 9 Movie Review

Triple 9 Movie Review

After a post-apocalyptic dystopia (The Road) and Prohibition-era America (Lawless), Australian director John Hillcoat brings...

We Own the Night Movie Review

We Own the Night Movie Review

James Gray has assembled what looks and sounds like a good, smart thriller with We...

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Get Over It Movie Review

Get Over It Movie Review

Get Over It at least has one thing that a lot of other high school...

Godsend Movie Review

Godsend Movie Review

Watching Godsend compares to eating a gallon of fudge-filled chocolate ice cream minutes before going...

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