Movie Review: Den of Thieves

If Sicario is widely considered to be one of the best crime thrillers of recent years, then Den of Thieves deserves to be right alongside it on that list. Den of Thieves is one of the most pleasantly surprising films in the past year. It had all the potential to turn into a stereotypical overly predictable shoot em’ up cops vs gangster crime genre flicks, but instead it did everything right.

LA’s top County Sheriff Department goes on the hunt for LA’s top bank robbery crew as they try to be the first to take down the Federal Reserve Bank. Leading the charge for the LA Sheriff’s is “Big Nick” Flanagan (Gerard Butler), who isn’t the kinda guy you would want to cross in any way, as evidenced by Nick’s constant bullying of an FBI agent ‘Lobbin’ Bob’ (Jordan Bridges) that keeps interrupting on his crime cases.

Gerard Butler stars in Den of Thieves

STX Films

On the other end, Pablo Schreiber plays the bank robbers lead dog, Merrimen. He’s exactly the kind of guy you also don’t want to mess with, unlike Nick, Merrimen is ruthless and unforgiving. The man in between linking both of these crews is Donnie (O’Shea Jackson Jr.) who is part-time bartender and driver for Merrimen’s crew, but he’s forced into helping out Flanagan’s team. Jackson Jr. can have the “Jr.” removed from his name because he’s big time and proves that he’s a legitimate actor, not just Ice Cube’s son.

There are a lot of moving parts and plot points, it’s why the two hour and twenty minute runtime is actually fitting. There is a twist midway through that changes the events and adds stake to the impending Federal Reserve Bank heist. Yet, another unforeseen twist awaits at the very end of the movie that will leave you gasping. The twists are a major bonus to a already spectacular film.

Writer and first time director Christian Gudegast crafts a smart and edgy movie that’s loaded with tension filled moments. The main characters have a backstory and home life outside of the crime world. Flanagan deals with marital issues and separation from his two young children. Donnie is stuck in between the law and crime, as he teeters on the edges trying to survive.

One drawback was the lesser emphasis on the supporting characters. I wish 50 Cent’s character Levi Enson was given more emphasis and backstory. There is a hint of his home life in a scene where his daughter is getting ready to head to prom and Enson gives the kid a “pep talk”. It’s one of the funnier scenes in a rather serious movie.

What quickly stands out is the raw gritty feel and look that this movie has. The authenticity that the film projects is uncanny. These characters are tough and living moment to moment on the edge that instill fear from a distance. The gloomy locales of the tough neighborhoods of LA are depicted as areas these characters would undeniably be roaming around.

This is by far a return of Gerard Butler to prominence after a run of bad movies. This is the kinda movie and roles he should be taking on predominantly, because it brings out the best of his talents. His interactions with Schreiber’s character are so slick and convincing that only a look or facial expression say all you need to know. It’s this subtle interaction that’s spot on.


STX Films

There are no moments where the action and plot become stale or redundant. Everything about this movie is gripping and it sucks you into this fascinating dangerous world of high stakes crime. The intensity and tension is on at all times. It’s all you can ask for in a movie of this genre.

Fans of Michael Mann’s Heat will notice some similarities in Butler’s and Schreiber’s characters in comparison to those of Al Pacino and Robert De Niro in Heat. Both strong, though, no nonsense alpha male characters, especially in the “good guy” roles. Seeds are planted early on for the eventual showdown between Flanagan’s men and Merrimen’s crew, that scene is fairly lengthy but in all the right ways, it takes into the “den” to witness the face-off that’s brutal and action filled.

Den of Thieves takes you on a thrill ride from start to its mind blowing ending. It will literally keep you on the edge of your seat and hyped up. Gudegast hits a home run in his directorial debut. He mixes all the elements of action, characters development, outstanding acting, plot intrigue, authenticity, intensity and exciting tension to create this must-see movie. Welshly Arms “Legendary” is the end credits theme song that is perfectly fitting, because this movie has the makings of something legendary.


(One of the best crime thrillers in years)

Movie Review: Goodbye Christopher Robin

This is one of the under-the-radar gems of 2017. Goodbye Christopher Robin delivers on strong emotions from multiple angles. It made my cry, be informed and look back on my childhood and relationship with my father. On the surface this film is about the creation of the Winnie the Pooh story, but beneath the surface it’s about that and a lot more.


It’s the real life story of Winnie the Pooh creator A.A. Milne (Domhnall Gleeson) and relationship with his son Christopher Robin (yes, the boy from Winnie the Pooh). The film offers a peek behind the curtain in the life of the Milne’s. It’s not necessarily a picturesque peek into their lives, which makes the film that more compelling. The first act details the inner struggles that A.A. endured with. The PTSD that haunted him, yet, he couldn’t talk about, due to the shame returning soldiers had about their undiagnosed traumatic conditions.


Fox Searchlight Pictures

Milne isn’t given a flawless portrayal as human being, he’s very flawed and conflicted. He doesn’t have any sense of what it’s like to be a father, but neither does his wife Daphne (Margot Robbie), who’d rather just attend lavish receptions and let the nanny take care of the boy. It’s not until the second half of the movie that it starts delving into the Winnie the Pooh stories.


Domhnall Gleeson stars as A.A. Milne, and he encompasses his inner turmoil and brilliance as effectively as possible. His scenes with Will Tilston who plays Christopher Robin are meaningful and emotional. Margot Robbie really surprised me. She does a terrific English accent, particular to the Sussex region. She’s stylish and exudes beauty as always, but this may be her first notably unlikable character she’s played. Daphne is anything but a nurturing and caring mother and loyal wife. Tilston has the best bowl haircut and most incredible dimples that radiate on-screen. Robin is such a cute and likable character, unlike his parents. Kelly Macdonald plays the nanny Olive, and she steals the show with her love and dedication.


Fox Searchlight Pictures

The acting is very good and the casting may not look ideal on paper, but on-screen it makes all the sense in the world. Yes, that means Robbie was perfect in the mother role.


The look is very fitting with the time period the story takes place in, 1940’s-50’s. The English countryside looks gorgeous. The most poignant scene is the one in which Christopher Robbin and A.A. share a touching moment together, it’s s a key point in the movie (don’t worry not a spoiler). The rock they sit on, the hill surrounded by the woods and overlooking a gorgeous landscape below, is just stunning visual work.


Fox Searchlight Pictures 

The score composed by Carter Burwell is outstanding. Not only does it fit with the movie theme, but it’s one that projects the emotions of the scenes.


I didn’t know what to expect of this film. The story of the Winnie the Pooh origins does sound interesting, but is it entertaining? Yes. The movie won’t entertain you with fancy effects, explosions or sex appeal, but it entertains with the most important element—story. It’s engrossing and emotionally fulfilling. Not once did I lose interest or didn’t care about investing further into the story.



Well cast, with terrific performances. A story where it’s easy to invest into. The film honors the origins of the Pooh story and focuses on the relationships and the people behind it, which ends up being more interesting than the Pooh story. Personally, I found it hard to hold back emotions, maybe because I related it to my relationship with my father.


The only question that remains unanswered and touched upon was the Disney connection. There is no mention of Disney, even in the end credits story follow-up. I wish that was addressed at some point, because majority of people are familiar with Winnie the Pooh due to Disney. That’s how I was introduced to it. Heck, I didn’t even know that it wasn’t a Disney entity prior to this film.

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Fox Searchlight Pictues 

Overall, director Simon Curtis manages to capture the emotions of the story and the father-son relationship. Goodbye Christopher Robin tackles some real life issues. The commentary on PTSD and child celebrity parents. Robin may have been the first child star, and his parents pushed him out like cattle, to the boys dismay. The personal family connection is ultimately what this movie is about. The regret, sorrow, joy and emotional vulnerability. By the end of the film I was genuinely teared up. This story got me. The cute bear, piglet, donkey and tiger were just the icing on the cake.

  • Movie Rating: PG
  • Genre: Biography, Family, History
  • Runtime: 1 hr 47 min
  • Release Date: Friday, October 20, 2017 (Chicago & Wide)


(Must-See Movie, Take The Family)

Movie Review: The Mountain Between Us

So Idris Elba and Kate Winslet are stuck together in isolation. There are far many worse scenarios than that one. The Mountain Between Us is a tale of two films. First half it plays like a survival adventure thriller, while the second half turns into a sappy romantic drama. While it certainly doesn’t lack on corny moments, there are some good ones also. Onto the full breakdown.


Two strangers come together at the airport to try to catch a flight neither can miss. Who happen to be these people? Well, it’s Elba and Winslet. Elba plays a brain surgeon named Ben Bass, while Winslet is Alex Martin, a photographer. Bass has an important surgery to perform and Martin needs to get back home for her wedding! Clearly the stakes are high for these two. Desperate times call for desperate measures so Martin comes up with a great, and by great I mean horrible idea, to enlist a retired local pilot to take her and Bass to their destination. She happens to overlook the fact that they traveling on a measly little personal plane. You know those that are a flying crash hazard. To make matters worse they are traveling through the Colorado Rocky Mountains.


20th Century Fox

Of course the plane doesn’t make it and they survive the crash. The pilot doesn’t, but Bass, Martin and the pilots dog do. It’s up to them to try to survive the dangers of the mountain wilderness, with no help in sight. Of course a romance brews between them as they fight to survive.


Majority of this movie just consists of Elba and Winslet. It’s a two person show, and the dog. Winslet and Elba are terrific actors, there is no doubt about that. They turn in fine performances in this movie, but the scrip is somewhat limiting. Too many cheesy lines and director Hany Abu-Assad doesn’t help them out with character direction.

What makes Elba so good at what he does is that he can play the intimidating badass cool guy just as well as the soft gentle and caring one. In this film it’s the latter, and he’s just fine doing it. Elba sells you on the fact that Bass is going through inner struggles that he’s hiding from Martin due to the greater purpose of helping them survive. He’s very much the tough guy also. All this toughness and sensitivity takes away a bit of luster from Winslet’s character who is a is portrayed as a damsel in distress that wouldn’t survive a minute without the constant help from Bass. I wish both characters were better balanced where they aide another, and not just having Martin’s mere presence as the main motivation for Bass to move mountains for (no pun intended).

Once the characters connect, Winslet and Elba do a good job making the romance feel genuine and authentic.


20th Century Fox


Since it all takes place on an isolated snow covered mountain, the visuals are a big part of telling the story and relating to the characters. The mountains look grand. The sounds tip-off the incoming dangers the characters are facing. As you’d expect in a movie where the elements and setting plays as a character itself, the mountain is intimidating and looks every part of the danger it presents. The sound goes along with it, with the addition of a frequent scream and dog bark.


Even thought the movie doesn’t have a completely seamless transition from the action adventure to the romance, both parts do have their ways of entertaining. As much of a sucker as I am for anything romance, the first half of the movie where the characters are trying to navigate through the mountain and survive is a lot more exciting. The romance between them is inevitable from the start, and I mean from the moment they enter the airport and before they speak.

I couldn’t happen but wonder how they actually survived and had the stamina with no food in sight. More importantly how did the dog survive and what was he eating throughout. Yes, you’d see them occasionally snacking on ancient stale soup they find or a cookie, but still. There are quite a few inexplicable moments throughout the movie that makes you wonder how they are surviving?


20th Century Fox

When it gets to the end, it really gets cliche. Had the movie made one turn in the unexpected direction, it would have made it a lot more credible and intriguing. It stayed safe, so the result is a bit bland and predictable.



Elba and Winslet are worth the buy. They are very likable actors and can make something out of nothing. Romantics such as myself will find good things about it also. It is intriguing, even if it’s early on, but you still wonder if these characters will make it to the end. Can’t help but also wonder if the dog makes it with them. It’s entertaining enough to give it a chance.


The two halves of the film aren’t fluidly connected, even thought it sets up for the inevitable. Speaking of which it’s ultimately fairly predictable. The few twists instilled don’t pay off. The movie drags on a bit longer than it should. The script is mediocre at best. Luckily the strong actors make something of the bland characters and the dialogue.

The Mountain Between Us has an audience. Even if it’s not a large one, it still caters to the romantics, Elba and Winslet fans and the adventurers who enjoy movies with a perceived high tension and heavy obstacles. In the end it’s just okay.


(A Worthwhile Rental, But Questionable Theatrical Choice)

Movie Review: American Made

Tom Cruise has made it!

Ok, so that happened about 30 years ago, but what he has made (shameless pun) is a comeback from the disaster earlier this year called The Mummy. Cruise is terrific in American Made. Granted, it’s just the sort of film that I’m drawn to, one that’s based on a true story and real individual who overcomes something insanely impossible, lots of action, good cast and director. This movie has all the ingredients to make it a must-see. Here is the breakdown of why you should go out and spend on it this weekend.


Based on a true story of a (crazy) pilot named Barry Seal (Tom Cruise) who became a drug runner for a South American cartel and CIA associate stateside. I couldn’t believe this story hadn’t been told prior to this. Seal’s double dipping journey spanned from the late 70’s into the mid 80’s where the film’s story takes place in. How does Seal get into this peculiar situation? Well, he’s starts out as a domestic pilot, seeking some thrill in his life, so he’s approached by a CIA guy at a bar. Obviously this sort of stuff happens to us all the time in everyday life, right? I think not. Seal gets bamboozled into taking the gig (all it took was a fancy personal plane) and soon after gives into additional temptations, of money from a cartel. Are you trying to put this all together? So did I initially, but it’s not confusing, as the movie does a good job explaining things in simple terms.


Universal Pictures


This is exactly the kind of role Cruise has been made for. A throwback to the days where he used his charm and charisma, instead of his daredevil acts of defiance aka any Mission Impossible movie. Cruise plays a real guy, and boy is it insanely fun watch make the character come alive. Of course he still uses his signature cackle laugh and huge smile along the way. I enjoyed this character because it’s hard not to like and root for him. Even though he’s committing crime and working for and against the American government.

As in most Cruise movies he notoriously surrounds himself with up-and-coming talented supporting actors. Look back at any Cruise movie in recent memory, and ask yourself how many big A-list actors star alongside him? Emily Blunt in Edge of Tomorrow, maybe? Even though she wasn’t a bonafide A-lister back then. I’m not sure if that’s an admirable thing or not that he does that? The supporting actors that stand out in this film are Sarah Wright and Domhnall Gleeson.

Wright is certainly rightly cast to play Cruise’s wife. Thankfully she’s married with kids in real life, so he wasn’t casting her to become his actual wife. That’a a thing also, look it up. Wright, just isn’t some eye candy, even though she’s beautiful and has that Margot Robbie appeal about her. She delivers a lot of cool sweet sassiness in the role of Lucy Seal. Hopefully, this movie and part can open the door for her to other prominent roles. Gleeson plays a fun shady CIA recruiter, ‘Schafer’, a bit of a removal from the characters he usually plays.


Universal Pictures


The look and sets resemble the 80’s nicely. The cars, clothing and style are on par. Unlike the recent,IT, which made me doubt and debate what time period the movie took place in. No worries about that here, it’s definitely the 80’s, looks and feels like it. When it comes to sounds, expect to hear a lot of airplane engines. There is a lot of action that takes place so it’s fast and loud in many ways, especially when Cruise is flying his planes around like a madman.


You’re damn right it was entertaining. This is one of the better movies of the year. I loved War Dogs and Pain and Gain and this film could fit in right alongside those. It has similarities in the outrageous hard to believe plots that are based on a true story and real people. Director Doug Liman has a rapport working with Cruise (Edge of Tomorrow) previously, but even if they hadn’t worked together, the style that Liman tends to incorporate is fitting for a movie of this caliber. He’s done well with action films that project a real sense of reality about them (Bourne movies).

There isn’t really any point in American Made where you can turn away or where it loses your attention. I made the fastest bathroom break possible during the screening, I may or may not have even flushed. There is always something going on, whether they are racing planes or having secret discussions about a drug run, it’s still interesting. I had to catch myself a few times thinking about the possible realities and how could some of these things actually have happened?


Universal Pictures

People like watching money, literally, in movies. There is a memorable scene where Seal is trying to hide all the money he’s making and he’s running out of room and locations to hide it in! I guarantee half of the audience that will be watching will attempt to picture themselves with all that cash and how they would have handled it. Money is fun and Cruise makes it fun the way he uses it in the film.


I’d be hard pressed to say this movie isn’t enjoyable. The theme is exciting, the subject is intriguing and the execution is top-notch. The acting is strong from top to bottom. Cruise will make you fall-in-love with him again, for those of you who have divorced him after the Oprah couch jumping fiasco. It’s okay to love him again. Hey, you also get to see the rise of some famed criminals, such as Pablo Escobar (Mauricio Mejia), who is featured in the film as one of Seal’s criminal bosses.

You might not like it if you’re..asleep? But why would you be asleep during this? Only real excuse for not finding this movie appealing is if you’re seeing it with a ridiculously hot date and you two decide to start making out? But even in that scenario you’re still at the movies. Point is, this is an awesome film. One of the most entertaining and fun times you’ll have at the movies this year.

  • Movie Rating: R
  • Runtime: 1 hr 55 min
  • Genre: Action, Biography, Comedy
  • Release Date: Friday, September 29, 2017 (wide)


(One Of The Best Must-See Films Of The Year)

Movie Review: Battle of the Sexes

The title may suggest that this is some frat vs sorority driven comedy, but it’s nothing like that. Battle of the Sexes tells the real-life story of tennis legend Billie Jean King and her fight for equality that lead to an epic tennis match between her and retired men’s star Bobby Riggs. The story takes place in the early 70’s, well before my time. I found myself surprised that as a fairly big sports fan I didn’t know anything about this tennis showdown prior to seeing the movie. I learned a lot and was also entertained in the meantime. Here is how the movie stacks up.


As touched upon above, the film depicts the the events that lead to the 1973 male vs female tennis match/public spectacle between Riggs and King. That’s what’s on the surface and promos, but the film has a lot more depth and importance to it, with the match serving as more of a backdrop further into the movie.

It’s really about the struggle to gain acceptance that female athletes and civilians had to endure. From bullying to unfair compensation, this time in society wasn’t pleasant to women and people of color. Aside from the public stance for equality, the film delves into the private life and struggle King has with her sexuality.



Emma Stone and Steve Carell are fantastic. The strong supporting cast is rounded out with very talented actors. When it comes to Stone, it’s clear she’s entered another level in her acting career. She was terrific in La La Land and earned her Oscar, but her role playing Billie Jean King might be an even better performance from her. There is a lot that Stone shoulders. She manages to balance the public version of King and the private one, which appear to be two different people. In public, King appears to be a spokeswoman that flashes her smile and puts on a happy face. In private, she has the weight of the world on her as she tries keeping her marriage intact while attempting to allow herself to explore her interest in women. Not to mention Stone’s uncanny transformation to resemble King makes her the ideal casting for this role.


On the other hand, Carell plays the wacky and volatile Riggs. Carell is a dead-ringer for Riggs. The look is unmatched, but more importantly he captures the spirit of who Riggs was. He is a firecracker in this role. His character is amusing, over-the-top, at times charming and a surefire male chauvinistic pig. He manages to capture all those traits and bring them to light. Riggs isn’t necessarily portrayed like a bad guy, but he sure does appeared to be ignorant. Carell knocks it out-of-the-park. A fabulous performance.

The work of Andrea Riseborough can’t be overstated, who plays King’s not-so-secret love interest Marilyn Barnett. Riseborough subtly delivers a strong performance. She’s the glue of the film, both in her acting and the character she plays. Other notable performances come from Sarah Silverman, Bill Pullman (a character you will despise, at least the audience at the screening did) and Elisabeth Shue.



The look is fitting of the time period the story takes place in. The color palates and projection boasts the grainy 70’s appearance. The costumes and character appearance helped making the era come alive, male mustache and sideburns galore. The sounds come into play once the tennis matches start. Then the sounds of the tennis balls hitting the rackets put you in a drivers seat to witness the action.


Battle of the Sexes was a lot more entertaining than I expected it to be. The movie balances some important societal themes along with the tennis element. I found myself to be more engaged and interested in the person that King was behind-the-scenes. The inner battle she fought in contrast with the outer public one. King was a feminism activist that happened to love tennis. That’s the message this movie relays. The acting of Carell and Stone make their characters personalities seem larger than life. That in itself was entertaining enough.




Battle of the Sexes is both educational and entertaining, a fine mix that’s isn’t always achieved in a film that sets out to do that. The performances are excellent all-around. The film has a great flow. Even though it’s a biopic that’s set in the 70’s, it uniquely has a timely feel to it in relation to the current political and social landscape. There is a Donald Trump vs Hillary Clinton feel in the Riggs vs King feud. The mean spirited chauvinist Riggs in the role of Trump, while King embracing the more mature and confident role that Clinton seemed to have. Watch it and see if you can take away any comparisons from it.


The biggest drawback this movie may have is the promotion of it. It’s Bobby vs Billie tennis battle of sexes in the promos, but the movie is a lot more than that. The younger generation might find the movie hard to relate to and not invest any interest in the topic due to their unfamiliarity of it. Hopefully Emma Stone is enough of a draw to get everyone to come out and see this.

Battle of the Sexes is a movie that will make you cheer and feel empowered, whether you’re a woman or man. In a time of year where award season movies start coming out, this may be the first one to get some awards consideration. Certainly, Stone and Carell for their splendid work, but also the film itself.

  • Movie Rating: PG-13
  • Runtime: 2 hr 1 min
  • Genre: Biography, Drama, Sport
  • Release Date: Friday, September 22, 2017

‘BATTLE OF THE SEXES’ SCORE: 85% (Mandatory Trip To The Theater, Potential Awards Contender)

Movie Review: American Assassin

The late 80’s and and early 90’s are a thing of the past. That means the golden standard of action stars such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis, Jean-Claude Van Damme are old and can’t cut it as action stars (see: Expendables) anymore. What happens when stars can’t do it anymore? You make new stars. In American Assassin Maze Runner’s Dylan O’Brien gets an opportunity to start his action star-making journey. Does he succeed? Here is the full breakdown of the film and O’Brien’s performance.


It’s not anything you haven’t heard or seen from an action flick. O’Brien plays Mitch Rapp, a young man with a bad rap when it comes to following orders and seeking assistance in his hunt for bad guys. Young Mitch is on a mission to exterminate a terrorist group that took the life of his fiancee along with other vacationing civilians. Rapp’s crusade doesn’t go very far as the CIA embarks on his plan, but offers to give him top-notch training from their best and fiercest instructor, Stan Hurley (Michael Keaton).

The gist of the movie is that O’Brien’s character is on a mission to take out a chain of terrorist groups in order to avenge his fiancee, while getting help from an expert mentor. It has all the makings and hints of movies such as Karate Kid and Death Wish, with a modern spin.


As far as O’Brien’s leading action man potential, well it neither bad or good. He’s capable and does well with the fight sequences and choreography. That’s the good part. The issue is that his acting isn’t very believable. He just has one tone, the stoic too cool for school schtick. There are plenty of emotional levels that O’Brien could have tapped into, but doesn’t.


Action star or Backstreet Boys band member?

O’Brien doesn’t have to necessarily look like a tough guy, but when you see how scrawny he looks, well, that doesn’t help his believability of being an ass-kicker. Yes, you don’t have to look tough to be tough. Bruce Lee conquered most people twice his size, but he had this quiet intimidating presence about him, and you believed he could kick ass. Not the case for O’Brien who looks more like a boy band member that’s trying too hard to grow a few strands of facial and chest scruff.

As far as Keaton goes, he’s basically doing his own thing. Some reactions will make you think of Beetlejuice Keaton, there was even a little bit of Batman, it just all depends on the scene he’s in. Even though he’s playing up a gimmick, he’s still fairly entertaining and fun, especially considering he’s playing a stereotypically dull character type.

Taylor Kitsch plays the main villain in the movie, but I couldn’t help but think that a few years ago he would have been pegged to play the role O’Brien has. He went from being a guy with a lot of promise to be a leading man, to being forgotten and relegated to villain side roles. That’s what happens in Hollywood when your movies bomb at the box office and you’re the leading man. Unfortunate for Kitsch. What’s even more unfortunate is his attempt at speaking Polish. As someone who is of Polish descent, I could have offered Kitsch some pointers.


Forgotten man Kitsch 


Lots of the movie takes place in Istanbul, Turkey and Rome, Italy. There are some nice touristy sights shown, but it pales in comparison to the Bourne series which moved from one one scenic locale to the next one from scene-to-scene. The visuals aren’t a problem. It fits the genre. Sound wise it’s fine also. Loud as you’d expect intense action scenes to be.


The plot is basic, but the film is enjoyable. It begins to go off the rails towards the end, but through a good chunk of it there are fun and engaging moments. So if you’re wondering if it’s a bore? It’s not. The movie gets off to a fast and exciting start, so it manages to get your attention early on.

What surprised me about American Assassin is how violent and brutal it was. This film doesn’t give a f**k about the gore and making your stomach turn. It’s that in-your-face. The “ear” scene will get a reaction out of most viewers



It satisfies the basic action movie needs. Solid fight choreography. Good pacing. Moderate intrigue. Presentable plot. Keaton is having fun, so naturally it translates to the viewer. Intense cringeworthy action.


Intense cringeworthy action. Some will buy the fact they are actually showing you the gore without cutting away, for others, it will make you turn away and disengage. O’Brien doesn’t establish himself as a legitimate action star. The film doesn’t bring about anything new or unique. It’s basic in most ways.

I wasn’t bored during this movie and I was engaged from time-to-time. This looks like it may be the beginning of a new franchise, but I’m not sure it has enough substance to succeed long-term. O’Brien tried, but he’s better suited for roles he’s previously done. I just don’t see him as leading action man material. American Assassin does offer solid action with occasional humor, but nothing you haven’t seen before.

  • Movie Rating: R
  • Runtime: 1 hr 51 min
  • Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama, Mystery, Suspense
  • Release Date: September 15, 2017 (wide theatrical) 


Movie Review: Mother!

Oh Mother! What doesn’t this movie try to say? Darren Aronofsky’s bizarre horror thriller drama is all over the place. Not necessarily in a bad way though. Now, this is the same man who delivered movies such as Requiem for a Dream, The Fountain and Pi, so strange and obscure is in his wheelhouse, but even those films don’t compare to what Mother! is. Should you see it or pass on it? Here is the breakdown:


Well, that’s the $30,000,000 million dollar question (estimated budget of the movie), because this film is so many different things. The plot revolves around a young woman and her much older significant other’s peaceful isolated existence. The peaceful portion doesn’t last long, as uninvited guests attempt to intervene with their lives and bring personal chaos along with them. Yeah, that’s about right. Add the fact Lawrence’s character “Mother” appears to be the only rational and non self-obsessed human in this remote area. She seems overly polite, submissive, kind, not to mention distraught once all those people start arriving.

Javier Bardem plays “Him” or the significant other to Lawrence’s character. He’s a trip. Bardem plays the best oblivious fool you’ll see in a movie. Not only can’t he say no to all the randoms coming into his home, but his obsessively creepy insistence on inviting them is very amusing to watch. It’s the sort of performance by Bardem that makes you wonder if his character is the second coming of the devil or just a really nice fella.


Basically Bardem’s character is a writer with major writers block, while Lawrence’s just floats around this big home and attempts to appease him at all times. All those uninvited visitors act as a big facial pimple that refuses to clear up, no matter how hard you try to remove it.


See above. Bardem is ferociously fun and creepy, while Lawrence does fine work with the camera jammed in her face throughout the movie. Believe me, you don’t miss any of her expressive reactions. There is a lot of screaming and shouting on her part, which couldn’t have been easy to pull off, bless those vocal chords.

Ed Harris and a dolled up Michelle Pfeiffer, respectively playing “Man” and “Woman”, because no one in this movie gets to have a proper name. They play a husband and wife, although they barely look like a compatible couple. She’s confrontational, he’s distant and tame.


The acting is fine. Talented and proven performers with two Academy Award heavy-hitters (Lawrence & Bardem) leading the way. They must have been pivotal in getting this movie to a mainstream release, otherwise the film would be a hard sell for studio heads without Lawrence and Bardem’s names attached.


The sound and look are two major components that this film utilizes. As far as the sound goes, this movie is loud. It’s not the soundtrack or any music that really stands out, it’s the natural sounds, the screams, shouting, crying and physical destruction that resonates. There is a scene in the movie where hell breaks loose with all the guests in the house and the breaking of items and materials is so loud and chaotic that it actually brings about a genuine uncomfortable feeling. The sound is definitely key to making this film come alive.

The look is another key to making it all come alive. Almost all of this film takes place inside the house. You’d think Mother is on house arrest or something (in theory she kind of is). The house is large but also confined. The ceilings are never ending, but with the insurmountable number of doors all over the house it makes it look small. The house itself looks like it could have been from the Conjuring or Amytiville, creepy wooden mansion with old furniture, appliances and for goodness sake replace that boiler room fireplace.

Naturally the lighting is key in a movie of this genre. The brooding dark shades overtake, even though the occasional ray of light flashes from the outside. If not for some hints of modern devices (cell phones), it could easily be mistaken that this film takes place in the early to mid 20th century. Their wall phone is about 50 years overdue a replacement. Even the supernatural elements look good and don’t come off looking phony.


Well, it certainly wasn’t boring. There is so much going on in the film with so little of the story moving forward. What I mean by that is that the story doesn’t progress much, but the constant frantic action makes it appear as if a decade of changes transpires. Mother! gets you from the start. It grips you and doesn’t let you go. Puts you in a corner and makes you watch as if you were in detention, but the thing is that you can’t really look away even if you wanted to. This film builds tension in a very natural way. Subtle events that turn into chaotic ones in a blink of the eye. It’s this roller-coaster of calm and frenzy that overlap each other. It’s engaging and it’s hard to understand why.

The thing to take away from the movie is that Aronofsky splatters plenty of social commentary into the plot. All sorts of political and social themes are encrypted along the way. There is a definite commentary on religion, speaking of that, this movie is certain to rub religious people the wrong way. The in-your-face depictions (can’t give away the spoiler) can be easily interpreted as offensive and repulsive.

I took away the depiction of the god-like status of celebrity worship as a big emphasis in the message Aronofsky is trying to relay. It appears that his off-screen romance with Lawrence holds a significance in the portrayal of her in the movie. Her treatment by the media is teased in these very depictions of this celebrity worship that’s relayed by the intruding followers in the movie.

Another message that resonates is the control factor in the relationship between the Bardem and Lawrence’s characters. The female submission to the male that plucks every inch and ounce of her soul. She’s more of a servant than a wife/girlfriend to his character. The physical, emotional and mental domination is startling.


Additionally, there is a political message being depicted that resonates with our current political climate of division among the people and administration.



This is unlike any movie out there. It’s twisted, odd, chilling, refreshing, over-the-top, frantic, intense, mesmerizing, intriguing. I can continue with descriptions to fill out the rest of the page, point being it’s a movie that’s sure to garner a reaction from the viewer, good or bad. You’ll most definitely have a thought and opinion once you leave the theater.


For the same reasons it’s a draw, it can also be a pass. This is a movie that will offend, disgust and confuse people. It doesn’t let up. Some things cross the line as far as what’s shown. For someone looking to clear their mind after a long week, this will just add to your mental fatigue.

Mother! is designed to leave you with a WTF reaction. It’s all about the reaction during and after the movie that will have you talking for days. The early word has it being compared to a modern Rosemary’s Baby, but it hardly bears any similarities. Mother! is an original and stands on its own merit. Frankly, I’m still wondering how the execs at Paramount green lit it, but credit them for thinking out-of-the box and taking a risk. It will be up to the moviegoers to see if the risk will pay off.

    • Movie Rating: R
    • Runtime: 2 hrs 1 min
    • Genre: Drama, Horror, Mystery


  • Release Date: September 15, 2017 (wide theatrical) 

‘MOTHER!’ SCORE: 75% (Trip To The Theater Worthwhile For The Experience)