Tag Archives: Revenge

Review of Collateral Damage (2002)

18 Sep

Collateral Damage (2002) is an action/thriller/revenge film, following a Los Angeles fireman on a quest to enact his revenge upon Colombian terrorists.

Directed by Andrew Davis (The Guardian (2006), Code of Silence (1985)).

Written by Ronald Roose (The Hessen Affair (2009)) and David Griffiths (The Hunted (2003)).

Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Elias Koteas, John Leguizamo, John Turturro, Francesca Neri, Cliff Curtis and others.

This movie only came out when I was getting over my Arnie-fandom, so I didn’t even bother seeing it and knew nothing about until I actually sat down and watched it recently. After seeing it, I can say that I still know almost nothing about it. The movie is so stripped off any personality, that you can easily not realise you’ve been watching a movie and not a past-his-prime Schwarzenegger-flick.

In this movie Arnold Schwarzenegger is a fireman with a thick Austrian accent. In all his movies Arnold is somebody (insert any macho profession) with an Austrian accent. You are introduced to his family, but after a few minutes with them you get from the somber tone, that they are going to die. Or something. They die. Fuck spoilers, it happens in like the next scene, anyway.

This murder of his family is just thrown in there to have a reason for Arnold to be pissed off and start kicking ass. You don’t feel anything as his family dies and even though, Arnold tries to show us his wacky interpretation of method acting, it is a lot less believable or emotional than, for example, in Commando, where his relationship with Alicia Milano is established a lot better.

I don’t blame Arnold for any of this movie’s flaws, though. There are some other factors, like the script being total shit and feeling like it’s been written back in the early 90’s, but then updated a bit. Also the pacing is crap, since it tries to have some serious political message about terrorism, it layers on a ton of unnecessary exposition, only to become a mindless action B-movie later on. It’s 25 minutes in, when shit finally starts going down.

Also Arnold feels like a horrible anachronism in this. He doesn’t make as many weird faces, has almost no one-liners and tries to dial down his broad-stroke(victim)-acting. We are now faced with the fact, that Arnold has no place in the 2000’s, we feel weird, when people don’t give him suspicious looks, because he’s a god damned 6’2’’, huge Austrian man.

About half-way into the movie John Leguizamo appears, starting to steal his scenes and breathing some fresh air into the movie, but guess what, he’s only there for a couple of scenes and we’re back to the draggy dumb turd-fest, we were enjoying before. Closest we get to one-liners is when the villain says „What’s the difference between you and I?” and Arnold replies „The difference is, I’m just going to kill you!”, sure, it’s kind of clunky and no „See you at the party, Richter!”, but it has to do.

The film is simple-minded enough to seem like a fun action movie, yet stubborn enough to keep jamming internal conflicts down Arnie’s throat, who in addition to never being a good actor, seems to have lost his screen presence. It all amounts to probably one of the worst movies of his career and one of the last leading parts for him. We’ll have to see what he does in The Last Stand. The movie is somewhat summed up by the odd end twist, that you probably won’t see coming, but just because you won’t care enough.

Overall, a very bland and unentertaining movie from one of, if not the biggest action star ever. That’s a big fall, if you ask me. Not recommended.

“So, yeah, mister unsuspicious mechanic guy, go right that way and wait with your back turned to that guy with the gun.”
“I’ll be back!”
“Sure, you will.”

Review of Harry Brown (2009)

30 Aug

Harry Brown (2009) is a thriller/drama/crime film, following a Royal Marines veteran,  living on a housing estate that is rapidly descending into youth crime.

Directed by Daniel Barber (The Tonto Woman (2008 Short)).

Written by Gary Young (The Tournament (2009), The Last Drop (2006)).

Starring: Michael Caine, Emily Mortimer, David Bradley, Iain Glen, Ben Drew, Jack O’Connell, Sean Harris, Charlie Creed-Miles and others.

The first three minutes of the film are probably the most shocking part of the movie. I’m not saying it as a compliment or a put-down to the rest of the movie, it’s just that a few teenagers on motorbikes and drugs shoot at a woman with a baby, while filming it on a cellphone is a disturbingly realistic portrayal of modern senseless violence.

Then we see Michael Caine, whose life doesn’t get better from the point we are introduced to him. His wife is in a catatonic state in the hospital and soon passes away, from his window he can see young people dealing drugs and beating people up. His friend is pretty sick of the scum and tries to stand up to them and gets killed. Caine gets pretty pissed off about all this shit.

I liked that while the justice system is depicted as totally broken and retarded, the police isn’t portrayed as a bunch of incompetent donut eating morons.

Of course, there’s a breaking point, when Caine’s character Harry Brown decides to be a vigilante. He goes to a creepy drug dealer/junkie guy, who has a whole plantation of marijuana in his apartment. The junkies and violent kids are portrayed very realistically, so it’s kind of disgusting to watch and not only on a moral level.

It’s a lot like Death Wish, if the Charles Bronson’s Paul Kersey character was older, only Harry exhibits more emotions, while doing these acts of vigilantism. It’s about an hour into the movie, when Harry actually starts being bad-ass. Yeah, you can say that this is a more thoughtful movie than Death Wish, but I don’t think there is that much of a difference. There’s even a scene where Harry is going after a guy and some shots on him chasing him on some stairs by a bridge, that are very similar to a scene in Death Wish. The elderly ex-soldier, who is sick of young violent kids is a theme that showed up in Gran Torino as well.

It’s interesting to put this movie in opposition to Attack the Block, which had a very similar setting, yet the juvenile delinquents were shown in a much more positive light. I’m not from UK, but the lower class occupied living apartment blocks are quite common where I live and the way the aggressive youth is portrayed in this movie, from my experience, seems a lot more accurate.

It is fitting that my last review was of Hobo With a Shotgun, a very different kind of movie, yet having the very same theme. It’s an interesting contrast, Harry Brown is less violent, while more disturbing, which is good, that this movie makes someone think, while Hobo is just dumb entertainment. On the other hand, Harry Brown never seemed to find the right balance of being an examination of youth violence and a bad-ass vigilante-thriller.  It might not be important to most people, but Harry Brown used CG blood effects, which always sort of detract from a movie for me personally.

Overall, nothing groundbreaking, a solid revenge/vigilante crime drama/thriller threading very familiar territory, but rests firmly on the always reliable Michael Caine. Recommended.

“You know I’m buying this gun to shoot scum like you?”
“All I know is that you look like Michael Caine. Where I’m from, you don’t argue with someone who looks like Michael Caine.”

Review of Dead Man’s Shoes (2004)

11 Feb

Dead Man’s Shoes (2004) is a British revenge thriller/drama film.

Directed by Shane Meadows (This Is England (2006), Somers Town (2008)).

Written by Shane Meadows (Once Upon a Time in the Midlands (2002), A Room for Romeo Brass (1999)) and Paddy Considine (Dog Altogether (2007 Short), Tyrannosaur (2011)), who is also the star of the film.

Starring: Paddy Considine, Toby Kebbell, Gary Stretch, Stuart Wolfenden, Paul Sadot and others.

It starts with two men just walking through some country areas and I at first thought that it might be about homeless people. I turned out to be wrong. The two men are brothers, that are walking back to their hometown. One of them is mentally handicapped and I liked that he was portrayed tastefully, thanks to Toby Kebbell. We get some flashbacks in a home video format of the brothers playing around together. And then through the film we get other similarly shot flashbacks of the younger brother being made fun of by a group of people.

Quite a challenge for me was understanding all the heavy accents and the lower-class slang, but once you get used to it, you don’t really notice a few words slipping over your head.

I knew basically nothing about this film when I started watching it, so I was pleasantly surprised when I got that it’s a revenge thriller. I just love those.

The soundtrack makes it feel like a very different kind of movie, almost like some art house film, when it’s actually a very brutal revenge story.

The main character is totally bad-ass, Paddy Considine, is totally amazing. He doesn’t even hide from the bad guys or anything, he just threatens them and then fulfills his threats. He’s as „anti” as an anti-hero gets and at a point you start wondering if he’s really better than the bad guys.

The bad guys are total idiots and kinda cliché, there’s one leader who is a bit cooler and better looking than the rest and a couple of morons.

The flashbacks with the younger brother being abused are just gut-wrenching, I felt bad watching them. They’re basically like that scene in The Elephant Man, where the drunk people just barge in and start having fun „with” Joseph Merrick.

The writing and acting are just perfect, mostly thanks to Paddy Considine.

I remember reading somewhere the film described as „Taxi Driver meets First Blood” and it sort of does describe the film.

I don’t want to say too much about it, because I enjoyed it more by not knowing anything about it.

Overall, a great movie, an unapologetic revenge flick, that is so much more than that. Totally recommended for everyone who wants be both touched by the issue and shocked by the brutality.

"What? Did someone write "tranny clown" on my face again?"

Review of The Last House On The Left (1972)

3 Dec

The Last House On The Left (1972) is an exploitation/revenge thriller/horror film, inspired by The Virgin Spring, a Swedish film, directed by Ingrid Bergman.

Directed by Wes Craven (The Hills Have Eyes (1977), Swamp Thing (1982)). This film is his directorial debut, which led to his highly succesful career as a horror filmmaker.

Written by Wes Craven (My Soul to Take (2010), The People Under the Stairs (1991)). He is one of those directors, who, more often than not, write their own movies.

Starring: Sandra Peabody, David Hess, Fred J. Lincoln, Jeramie Rain, Marc Sheffler, Richard Towers, Cynthia Carr and others.

This is a fairly typical exploitation film, not really crossing borders too much. It is graphic at times, but mostly it’s not that explicit. Although if it had an NC-17 rating it wouldn’t surprise me and I don’t really understand why they tried to get the R rating, because it is obvious they wouldn’t get it in 1972.

The start of the movie is the worst part. It shows all the worst acting the actors are able to do and the worst writing Craven can do. Wes Craven shows his deep insight into both the hippie culture and female psychology. He shows us that there is no greater purpose in the life of a young hippie woman than to be amazed how her breasts have grown. They have grown big enough for her to stop wearing bras and go around saying “tits”. Also important is their enjoyment of ice-cream and trying to buy drugs. At this point the movie takes a dark turn.

Well, at least half of the movie does. The two hippie girls walk into an apartment, where a bunch of criminals are hanging out. So now they are screwed and can’t leave. But then there’s the other part of the movie that takes place at the same time, but at our protagonists house. There we see her parents messing around with a cake, while some silly music is playing. And then we cut back to the criminal apartment where one of the girls gets punched in the gut and Sandra Peabody gives an awful mess of unsure acting, which left me wondering, what emotions were she trying to express.

Further on, I don’t want to get into spoilers, but since it is a revenge thriller, you can guess that something bad happens and then the revenge happens.

Also all the scenes, that don’t have the criminals anywhere near is in one way or another comedic. I really don’t get this decision on Craven’s part. The cops are two idiots, one of them is almost unrecognisably young Martin Kove. They run into different shenanigans, at one point having to sit on a roof of a truck full of chickens, that’s driven by a crazy, old, 4-toothed black woman. Again, there is wacky music in the background, that really seems inappropriate. Most of the music is cool, especially the part when the criminals have done their worst, a slow ballad starts playing. That’s the only part where the good, but out of the place music works.

The acting is not that great for the most part. David Hess is pretty awesome, with his robust, yet handsome facial features, adding to his intimidating performance. Also Fred J. Lincoln is perfect as a despicable, sleazy asshole. No wonder he went on to do porn movies.

They managed to make the fake blood’s color uncommonly realistic for the time.

Overall, I liked the movie. It isn’t great and if I have to recommend, there’s other, both exploitation and revenge, films I’d recommend over this, but this is a decent one too.

And for some reason he's acted in only two movies.

Review of Taken (2008)

20 Nov

Taken (2008) is an action/thriller/drama film, produced by the well-known French director/producer Luc Besson, mostly known for his stylistic action movies.

Directed by Pierre Morel (From Paris With Love (2010), District B13 (2004)), who has worked as a cinematographer and in camera department on quite a few Besson produced movies.

Written by Luc Besson (Taxi (1998), La Femme Nikita (1990)) and Robert Mark Kamen (The Karate Kid (1984), The Transporter (2002)).

Starring: Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen, Leland Orser, Olivier Rabourdin and others.

It is basically a revenge thriller, except nobody dies at the start of the movie, but the main character goes on a revenge spree while trying to find his kidnapped daughter. And there’s something about these revenge movies that resonates in people. I guess, it’s because most people have at times wished to just go and beat the shit out of the people who have been assholes to you.

The acting mostly wasn’t all that good. Liam Neeson at the start of the movie is pretty awful, there’s something about him playing a normal guy that doesn’t really work, but when he actually starts doing cool stuff, he becomes totally awesome and kicks so much ass. Famke Janssen just doesn’t leave any impression. I had trouble believing that Maggie Grace’s character is supposed to be 17, Grace does try to be convincing, but it comes across a bit too forced. She spends most of her screen-time crying, thankfully, she’s not in the movie a whole lot.

The writing isn’t the greatest asset of this movie either. If the action wasn’t so great, the cheesy writing would have killed the movie. There’s some things that just don’t stand logic, but work because of Neeson’s performance, he can convince that he means all his cheesy lines. I can even forgive that photo zooming they do on CSI, where it is all pixellated and then easily cleared or the movie’s xenophobic tone, just to see Neeson being angry and karate chopping people’s throats. And he does those quite frequently.

Speaking of action, it is pretty great. Liam Neeson just going around and in this matter of fact way punching and shooting bad guys. And it has one of the best torture scenes in years. Luc Besson just knows how to make these testosterone filled high-quality popcorn trash movies. Yes, they’re stupid, but unbelievably entertaining.

How come that in movies, there’s always enough perverts among the high-society rich people to have these organisations, where they do this sick stuff?

I was surprised, when after watching this, I found out this is rated PG-13, it is quite odd for a movie about sex trafficking and a guy killing a bunch of criminals, so it isn’t overly graphic, but still pretty violent and unapologetic about it.

I definitely recommend this movie, because I had a lot of fun watching it. Don’t expect anything intellectual and when watching try not to analyse it too much and just enjoy Liam Neesonbeing a bad-ass. It got me pumped up and wanting to go out and punch some throat’s myself.

This is what Liam Neeson's character reads every night before falling asleep.