Movies

Outside the Wire

Major spoilers ahead

This is one of those movies immediately off the bat you can tell it’s gonna be a propaganda puff piece for the US military. And off the bat, a movie about how the Balkans are a volatile mix of nations that breed violence. To that end, it starts the movie off about how war has broken loose in the Ukraine and that a violent warlord controls an army intend on establishing new relations with Russia and that the US is sent in as peacekeepers. The irony of that word is incredibly rich, “peacekeepers” as if bombing nations and homes, families and friends, is a way to keep peace. The movie starts off with our lead character, Lieutenant Thomas Harp (Damson Idris), a drone pilot that disobeys chain of command to bomb a vehicle involved in a firefight with US soldiers that results in the loss of life for two men. He is disciplined for his actions and sent to the frontline to see the results of his work first-hand. There he is paired up with Captain Leo (Anthony Mackie) to complete a mission past the demilitarized zone, starting with delivering vaccines in exchange for intel. Their real mission is stop former Russian nukes from falling into the hands of the warlord and his men.

This movie takes place in 2036, and with it being science fiction, the US military also employs the use of robots called gumps to help establish order. Our dear Captain Leo is shown to be an android himself on a top secret mission. The ending of the movie happens so abruptly and it completely throws every message the movie was trying to portray and be critical of, into the trash. There were some good topics discussed and some real attempts at trying to be outside the box, however despite its namesake, Outside the Wire fails to do that. The message it was trying to state is that all lives matter, and that we should have compassion for humanity and those trying to survive even if they might be our enemy. It says that the US is stuck in a never-ending cycle of war that it itself perpetuates and that the only way to stop the cycle is to show there are real consequences to the actions of the military.

Here follow major spoilers

To that end of the above, the android known as Captain Leo wishes to use the nukes and bomb the mainland US to show the military that creating a fully autonomous AI and android only continues the cycle of war. When you create machines to fight machines, there is no humanity left in it. This is where I say in regards to the ending, that those involved with this movie, the director and producers, they took the cowardly way out. The movie should have ended with the nukes launched and on their way to the US mainland. Harp would have been arrested for insubordination again, and before the military realized he was doing so for the right reason, that it would be too late. Instead, he miraculously shows up to the command center for the nukes in time despite having a severe time disadvantage and despite being choked out by Captain Leo, manages to stop him, and destroy the nukes. Then he drives back to the base and starts walking back when the credits roll.

Some additional problems with the story are that drone operators are shown to be cold, and heartless at what they do. So when Harp sees first-hand the devastation that is wrought by the bombs dropped by drones, he is heartbroken at such chaos. Yet, what saves the day, is a drone dropping another bomb. Talk about a conflicting message. There is a scene near the middle where Harp is being interrogated by a resistance leader, and she reveals that she knows what Captain Leo is up to and that the US military deserves to know that their lives can be collateral as well. That their bombs injure far more than the target they aim for. Yet, again, the ending dismisses that notion and firmly shows that all that matters are US lives, that American lives are worth more than other life. Like I said at the start, this is a puff piece for American propaganda.

Spoilers done

As for the acting itself, it was okay. Anthony Mackie shows that he still can’t be taken seriously as an action star, that he lacks charisma and that intimidation factor. I used to think that it was the script, due to his previous works, but I can see I was mistaken. It’s him, he does not have that spark. Damson Idris was alright at being an idealist soldier, a drone pilot that knows little at how an actual battlefield is like compared to his cushy life behind a screen. The supporting cast were mere caricatures of a Colonel or a Sergeant, of a resistance leader, an arms dealer, and a warlord. The action itself was very well done and were the only interesting parts that kept the story moving forwards. It’s clear that John Wick has had quite the effect on action movies and their stunt work with combat.

I’m on the fence with this movie. On the one hand, the science fiction part of it is a bit intriguing and the action itself is very good and satisfying. On the other hand, it’s quite clearly nothing more than your usual Netflix American propaganda. I can’t recommend it but if you got nothing better to do, and want to see some action, leave your brain at the door and enjoy the ride. You’ll not remember it in a few days.

Movies

Boss Level

Directed by Joe Carnahan. Starring: Mel Gibson, Frank Grillo, Naomi Watts, Will Sasso, and Ken Jeong, with Michelle Yeoh.

A movie in the vein of groundhog day, and Edge of Tomorrow, co-written by Joe Carnahan, that just absolutely kicks ass. I very much enjoyed this movie and had a blast watching it. The idea of repeating a day over and over until succeeding in whatever mission a hero has is not new, but in the way it goes about it is quite touching. Yes, there’s action and plenty of it. But there’s also soul to be found in it. And like Edge of Tomorrow, it follows an almost video game format. Where our hero gets better and learns new skills each time he dies.

Frank Grillo plays our hero named Roy, a special forces ex-operative who spends his days drinking and hooking up while pining for his ex-wife with whom he has a young son. Due to his career, his son is unknowing that Roy is his father. One day, he visits his ex-wife at her top secret research facility and then our movie unfolds. Smartly our story does not start there, but in the thick of things with our hero on a random number of resets and then shows us how he got to that point.

The action is well done, and easily followed. There is comedy to be found in his attempts to save the day. Frank Grillo is, in my eyes, a full blown action hero. Even got the muscles to boot. Naomi Watts plays the ex-wife who wishes her ex-husband was the man she once knew with a soft touch and we can feel her laments. Mel Gibson as the bad guy in all this, a former Colonel, does well to establish why we don’t want him to succeed. The rest of the supporting cast help breath that brevity that Roy has in his moments between escaping the clutches of death. And there is a touching story within it all of a father trying to reconnect with his son.

The soundtrack is amazing and helps with the aesthetic of it being a video game. Overall, I highly recommend watching this movie. You’ll not regret it.

Movies

The Wolf of Snow Hollow

Written and directed by: Jim Cummings
Starring: Jim Cummings as John Marshall, Riki Lindhome as Officer Julia Robinson, Robert Forster as Sheriff Hadley, Chloe East as Jenna Marshall, with Jimmy Tatro as PJ Palfrey, and others.

An idiosyncratic black comedy that toes the line between horror and thriller that delivers a tale that is quite good. When murders start occurring in the small town of Snow Hollow, Utah, local police are stumped as to the identity of the killer. Local reports suggest a canine, or wolf, is responsible, with rumors circulating that is the work of the Wolfman. Local deputy, and son of the Sheriff, John Marshall is adamant it is nothing less than the work of a man. What follows is a poignant story of an alcoholic who tries to care for his teenage daughter, while circumnavigating the stress of his job as a police officer, and the mockery that comes with it. Mockery in no small part due to the inadequacy of the police in apprehending the killer.

The cinematography of the sleepy town is beautiful, with snow capped mountains and desolate, sparse trees. What little forest there is, is often used to great effect to help invoke feelings of paranoia and fear. It is at once haunting as there is also humour to be found in many situations. Like poking fun at a cop’s tendency to shoot when startled, or even mild corruption when it comes to a father’s dealings with his daughter’s boyfriend. It wrestles with the notion that women have been having to deal with men trying to kill them since the middle ages, and the fear that comes with that.

It was marvelously acted by Jim Cummings as the alcoholic father and deputy, and his mannerisms and quirks kept me enthralled throughout. I wish to see more his work throughout the upcoming years. The supporting cast also did a great job in their roles, from the grieving boyfriend of a murdered woman to the partner (Julia) of the deputy, John. Robert Forster did great, in his final role, as the aging Sheriff dealing with health concerns in his old age while trying to keep at his job.

Overall, it was an entertaining ride with a satisfying conclusion. I recommend it for a watch, and I hope writer/actor/director Jim Cummings keeps his projects coming.

Movies

Minions (2015)

Directed by: Pierre Coffin, Kyle Balda
Starring: Sandra Bullock as Scarlet Overkill, Jon Hamm as Herb Overkill, Michael Keaton as Walter Nelson, Allison Janney as Madge Nelson, Geoffrey Rush as the Narrator, Steve Carell as Young Gru, Pierre Coffin as The Minions, and other assorted cast

I was recommended to watch this movie because the title characters, so called “Minions” are absolutely adorable, cute, and hilarious. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that was indeed the case. I was thoroughly entertained by a movie that had no subtitles for their Minions’ way of speech, which is an assortment of various words in various languages that for lack of a better term, is merely gibberish. Highly amusing gibberish that manages to convey and let the viewer understand precisely what is occurring on-screen. I was laughing, I was smiling, and I genuinely felt like a kid again. It captured the magic of animation, and remarkably still had heart in its story about finding purpose in one’s life.

It is the story of three minions; Stuart, Kevin, and Bob as they leave their tribe and home in an attempt to find a new boss, a supervillain to which they may lend their expertise and help to. They are recruited as henchmen by the supervillain Scarlet Overkill and her husband, Herb Overkill to help steal the English crown and have Scarlet rule the world. Due to their antics, this severely misfires and somehow Bob is named King. The three only wish to please and through more antics, get Scarlet to be nearly declared Queen of England before stopping her and acquiring the admiration of the people and of Queen Elizabeth. In the final moments of the movie, they come across a young Gru who they decide to follow and declare him as their boss. Gru is a character audiences would know from the Despicable Me series, and is known as the boss of the Minions.

It’s a movie that can be enjoyed regardless of age, and is sure to put a smile on your face. I highly recommend watching it with family or even by yourself; either way, you’ll be sure to have a good time.

Movies

The Devil All The Time

The following review contains mild spoilers, and fair warning, if you like dogs, avoid this movie.

Directed by: Antonio Campos
Starring: Bill Skarsgard as Willard, Tom Holland as Arvin, Haley Bennett as Charlotte, Sebastian Stan as Sheriff Lee Bodecker, Riley Keough as Sandy, Jason Clarke as Carl, Robert Pattinson as the predator Preacher, Harry Melling as the mad preacher, Eliza Scanlen as Lenora and others.

A movie not about God, but as it’s aptly stated in the title, a movie about the devil. God doesn’t ask anything evil of men, men forget that the devil exists. It’s a movie about wicked men who use the Lord’s name as an excuse for their own evil ways. In some matter or way, or another, every male character is so far gone from the light. It’s a movie about sin, and wickedness, and how they all intertwine together. A mad preacher, a flashy preacher who clearly is a predator (spoiler, pedophile), a burgeoning pair of serial killers – a husband and wife team, a dirty cop blinded by ambition whose sister is the wife of the pair of killers, a man suffering from PTSD and his son who’s affected by his father’s actions in his upbringing. The only good that comes out of it is the parents of the war veteran, Willard, that take in Lenora and his son Arvin.

The movie ilicits a feeling of unsettleness and dread. Only when we are with Arvin, and Lenora do we feel a sense of normalcy. Even then, Arvin has clearly developed his father’s sense of morality. His justice is swift and violent but not without purpose. There’s no room for innocence in this world portrayed in this movie. There’s only those with sinister intent, corruption, and brutality. This movie is a satanist’s wet dream.
I could say I had better to say regarding the story, but I honestly don’t. I don’t recommend this movie in the slightest. In fact, I regret watching it. That being said, all the actors and actresses involved did a phenomenal job portraying their various characters, and that might deserve some awards.

One could try and find meaning in the film, but I’ll leave that to others. I don’t wanna find meaning in this movie. I don’t even wanna offer a second passing thought to it. As I said earlier, it’s a satanist movie. Hard pass.