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) 

Movie Review: Rememory

There are some things you’d like to remember in life and some you wouldn’t, this movie wouldn’t be one of those that you’d want to remember. Rememory is actually a fairly forgettable movie, not because it’s that awful, but more because it doesn’t do anything to keep your attention. Here is the full breakdown of the movie.


The film’s plot revolves around the murder of inventor Gordon Dunn (Martin Donovan), who created a device that can trace back and replay a persons memory. Peter Dinklage stars in the leading role, playing a man named Sam Bloom, who is determined to find the killer, while also going back to relive and make sense of a past family tragedy. For the most part Bloom has a motive to get hold of the device, but no legitimate reason to figure out Dunn’s killer or befriending Dunn’s widow throughout this investigation. There are countless people that pop in and out of the film as potential suspects and witnesses, most of them claiming that their memories have been damaged due to the experiment. Too many to matter.


Dinklage was solid all-around. If anything he proved that he’s capable of being in a leading role. Although this might not have been the ideal film to star in. Anton Yelchin, in one of his final performances, plays in a supporting role. He’s not featured much though. The acting wasn’t a problem in this film, actually it was one of the stronger points of it.




It was okay. Many of the scenes are during the night so it fits with the story. The sound was presentable, nothing that stood out. Neither the sound or look were distractions or issues. Which leads me to the following..


For a movie that has a fairly decent concept, it falls flat. Too much of the film is just a revolving door of conversations between Bloom and Dunn’s wife Carolyn (Julia Ormond). The web of suspects and people affected by the memory device is too long and unexplained to keep track and care enough for. This film had potential to be compelling just be the subject matter of it. A device that brings back memory, but at a longer-term cost? That sounds interesting. Unfortunately it wasn’t written in a way to make you care with all the drawn out dialogue and little action.




As a rental, maybe? (It’s free on Google play for the time being). Fans of Dinklage will get to see him in a leading role and perform well at it. If you’re into a slow-burn of a plot then you may find this watchable enough to stick through the end. The trailer could draw you in with the unique concept, but the end result leaves a lot to be desired.


Simply, it’s a boring movie. The pacing is slow. The story gets spun too much to keep any feasible interest. In the end I just didn’t care about the memory device, the murder or Bloom trying to rediscover his past. At 110 plus minutes it’s way longer than it should be. Cut out 20 minutes and nothing would be missed.

  • Movie Rating: PG-13
  • Runtime: 1 hr 51 min
  • Genre: Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi
  • Release Date: September 8, 2017
  • Available in select theaters, Google Play

‘REMEMORY’ SCORE: 30% (Potential Rental)

Movie Review: The Only Living Boy in New York

Going into it I had little expectation or idea of what this movie was going to be like. Coming out of it, I feel I saw one of the best movies of the year. The Amazing Spider-Man films, 500 Days of Summer and this years Gifted, director Marc Webb brings The Only Living Boy in New York to life. Time to delve straight into what makes this movie a must-see.


Where do I start?! The film has many moving parts and characters that contribute to the twists and turns in the plot. Try to follow me on this. Callum Turner plays a college aged guy named Thomas Webb (is that a wink and nod from the director?) who is smitten with a girl named Mimi (Kiersey Clemons) who may or may not be into him, but definitely has a boyfriend. At home there are marital issues between his parents. The mother Judith (Cynthia Nixon) is on the edge of a breakdown and his fancy publisher father Ethan (Pierce Brosnan) is interested in anything but his wife, while discouraging Thomas from pursuing his passion for writing. Meanwhile, Thomas has an odd, yet, interesting new neighbor that’s played by Jeff Bridges, that befriends him.

Things get spicy quickly when Thomas catches his father cheating with a stunning lady named Johanna (Kate Backinsale) that becomes the eye of Thomas’ affection. Needless to say there is a lot going on, but that’s not even touching on half of what’s to come.

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The casting and acting is outstanding. I couldn’t see many others playing the parts that were individually cast. Turner has this charming nerdy and confident thing going for him. One moment he seems like “aww shucks” out on his luck kinda guy, next moment he’s a ladies man and you’d think that he is the James Bond in this movie, not Brosnan, an actual former Bond. Either way, you can’t help but root for the character.

Brosnan fits his role great. He plays the stern and disappointed father, that appears to be emotionally unavailable for his family. He definitely turns on the playboy charmer side when Ethan is on-screen with Johanna.

Beckinsale surprised me. I must have seen her in too many Underworld movies lately and got used to her just kicking ass, but she really turns on the heat. Her character is sexy and seductive, but possesses this cunning wisdom and knowledge. Not to mention the aura of mysteriousness she presents. She’s the ideal slick and sexually charged mistress type.

Not to be omitted, Jeff Bridges, the MVP of the film. I’m hit or miss on Bridges. He’s a phenomenal actor, but his roles get too cliche. In this movie that’s not the issue. His character drives the story and serves as a perfect kind of GPS narrator guide. While all the characters have a certain amount of mystery to them, none are as subtly mysterious as his.

The Only Living Boy in New York


It looked and sounded like New York. There is no doubt that this movie was shot throughout NYC, I mean it’s in the title of the movie after all. The look, the feel, the sounds are all tied into the locations that are featured. There is a scene where Thomas and Mimi are having an argument outside in a downpour until a taxi comes and whisks her away, for some reason that moment felt so New York to me. When you see it all, you’ll understand. As far as the look and sounds, this movie is spot on, as if you were tracking a daily life of someone living in New York.


You bet it was. The beginning starts off a bit slow actually, but that’s done to properly introduce the characters and their objectives. If you can stick around after 15 minutes then things start moving, and once they are moving they don’t stop. I was definitely surprised by all the twists, turns and reveals. Best way to describe it is that seeds are planted from the start of the movie and it’s all about following the clues and focusing on the needs and desires of the characters. Once you’re engaged, you’re all in. This isn’t one of those movies that needs to fight for your attention, the script writes itself and you’d be hard pressed not to want to follow. Webb does an outstanding job of keeping things simple and focusing on the characters.



No doubt. One of the best movies of 2017. It’s one of these dramas that delivers across the board with the writing, directing and the acting. It has a smart and well developed plot that’s seamlessly executed among the web (no pub intended) of occurrences. This is a movie about people. It addresses our individual emotional and physical desires and needs in life. While Thomas’ narrative suggests a coming-of-age story, it’s really everyone in the movie that is growing and learning about their desires in life. That’s what makes this film relatable to many people, even if it’s in the slightest of ways. It touches on the inner thoughts and feelings that people have, yet, don’t disclose or act upon. The least of things you need to do is miss The Only Living Boy in New York.


Aside from the slow start of the movie that leaves you trying to figure out the characters a bit, there are no real cons to this film. Just go see it.

  • Movie Rating: R  
  • Runtime: 1 hr 28 min
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Date: August 11, 2017 (August 18 in Chicago and remaining cities)


You can follow me on Twitter @TheJimAlexander & @TheReelTalker

Must See Movies Of The Week

The week of August 15 offers some nice choices. As usual this weeks choices include under-the-radar Blu-ray/DVD releases, select theatrical and VOD. Check these films out and you’ll be happy you did:


There has been a nice run of boxing movies in the past year. The story of Roberto Duran in Hands of Stone, then there was the remarkable story of of Vinny Pazienza in Bleed For This, now comes another true life story of boxer Chuck Wepner in this film. Liev Schreiber stars as Wepner, a liquor salesman turned prizefighter who is famously known for going fifteen rounds with Muhammad Ali and being the real-life inspiration for Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky Balboa. I know I haven’t heard of Wepner till I saw this film. Schreiber is terrific in this role. They way Schreiber portrays the man as he goes through highs and lows and dealing with short-term fame duo to the popularity of Balboa. This is the real Rocky, and he’s not what you expect him to be. Very well written, presented and acted. This is a must see film not only for boxing lovers. Before you run out to see McGregor vs Mayweather on August 26, check this film out.

Blu-ray Special Features: 

  • ‘All About Chuck”

Chuck is out now on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD

Movie Review: Atomic Blonde

What can I say about this movie that hasn’t maybe been said already? Well, for one it’s tries to be many things and never settles on an identity. So Charlize Theron kicks a lot of ass, I mean, a lot. The previews have been pinning her character as a female James Bond, but James Bond didn’t stab baddies in the neck. She’s ruthless in this film. Jason Bourne envies what Theron’s badass Lorraine Broughton (not so badass of a name) does in this film. It’s more violent than I expected it to be. Some parts are even cringe worthy.


Theron plays an undercover MI6, no, not referring to the 6th Mission Impossible movie, it’s a British government spy organization. The time and place is is late 1980’s Berlin, in times of the Cold War. The Atomic Blonde, aka Lorraine, is sent there to investigate a murder of a fellow agent and to retrieve a very important list of double agents. Needles tot say there is a lot on Broughton’s plate and a lot to follow in the film.

While the plot shouldn’t be too difficult to follow, I found myself lost throughout. There are so many different faces bouncing onto the screen that it was hard to keep track of who is who, much less who is working with whom. The action is too frantic to be able to keep up, they also don’t do a good job of attempting to have you follow and elaborate. I constantly found myself thinking, whose the short quiet wimpy guy? Or who is the clean cut dude assisting in the coordination to Broughton?

Atomic-Blonde-Charlize-Theron-1HOW DID THE ACTORS DO:

Theron really gets it done. Kudos to her for getting down all the choreography training and getting into incredible shape to perform some of the stunts and fight scenes. She’s very fitting in this role, actually, may be the most fierce and intimidating female action character I’ve seen in a while.

Aside from Theron, there is a nice supporting cast to assist her. James McAvoy plays a sleazy Berlin confidant named David Percival. I liked McAvoy’s work here, as always. He plays a untrustworthy sidekick that you can’t necessarily trust, but you kinda want to. McAvoy is the right casting.


John Goodman plays one of the directors that’s conducting the mild interrogation with Broughton. He’s great in these sort of roles. He projects this directness about him that’s both serious and entertaining. To think about this man was mainly known for being on Roseanne for a big chunk of his career. Craziness.

The other supporting actors with significant parts are played by Sofia Boutella, who is rising fast, having already starred in the new Tom Cruise Mummy film. She’s solid in her role in this film, but not sure I get the Boutella hype? I mean she’s not super hot, she’s a serviceable actress, so what’s the big deal? Is it because her name rhymes with Nutella? Must be it. Another Broughton sidekick is Merkel, played by Bill Skarsgard. I swear I’m about to conduct a search as to how many Skarsgard’s are there?! Are they all brothers? Is there a Scandinavian law that forces all Skarsgards to become actors and head to Hollywood? Upon further search, this is what Imdb says on this matter:

So there it is. The Skarsgard mystery solved for you.


For the most part the film looked and sounded good. It really had a 80’s vibe to it. It’s how I imagined Europe to be and look during that time. The background music was fitting and pretty cool. Let’s just say the soundtrack included the very popular Euro mix “Sweet Dreams”. Just check out all of it below:
The look is exactly what I would envision Berlin to be during that time period. Tons of graffiti all over. Dark, brooding, mysterious and exciting. The clothing was timely. I mean Theron wears some interesting outfits and she can make anything look good, including those boots she wears. Theron does show a lot of skin and nudity, she has a steamy sex scene with Boutella, so be prepared, definitely not for kids.


The action was exciting and intense. There is a lot of ass kicking, mainly by Theron. There is one extended scene in a apartment building that sticks out. Don’t want to give it away, but it’s jaw dropping. At my screening you could hear a few excited people cheering and laughing, well mainly one particular woman behind me.
The plot on the other hand was convoluted and tried to do too much. There are so many double crosses that I was lost after the first reveal. By the end I didn’t know who was who and why they were who they were? Twist after twist without much of an explanation.


Atomic Blonde is one of those movies that you need to weigh the pros and cons of paying for a movie ticket. As a rental it’s worth it, but as a theater going experience not so worthy. If you’re looking for pure action then you should go see it. There is a ton of cool action scenes. If you’re a Theron fan, you should also see it mainly because you haven’t seen her in a role like this putting out this kind of menace. The music and look is good also. Those would be the pros.
Now onto the negatives. As mentioned throughout this review, the plot is confusing and hard to keep up with. I would have liked them to spot at various points and explain what is happening. It moves too fast to keep up or invest in any character, besides maybe Theron’s and McAvoy’s. I think I finally understood who was backstabbing who, but I’m still not that sure. Less would have been more when it comes to the twists and surprises the film presented.
Movie Rating: R
Runtime: 1 hr 55 min
Genre: Action|Mystery|Thriller
Release Date: July 28, 2017 


Must-See July Home Movie Releases

July marks the middle of summer and for movie lovers this marks the strongest month of the theatrical summer movie season. As far as the home entertainment movie releases this year has proved to be a strong July. Below is a list of the Blu-ray/DVD, VOD and limited theatrical releases you should see.


This franchise isn’t slowing down. The eight installment is action packed and fun. The stunts are bigger than ever and the stakes are higher. Fan favorite Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) goes rogue and it leaves the rest of the team to go up against him and the villainous Charlize Theron. Jason Statham and Dwayne Johnson electrify (no pun intended, Rock). Sadly Paul Walker is gone, but the franchise is still in good hands with more big name stars coming aboard. There are a couple big reveals also. The franchise fans should love it and any fan of action also. There are a ton of special features on the Blu-ray


‘The Fate of the Furious’ is out now on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD, Digital HD and VOD