Movies

The Card Counter

An excellent movie. Goes to show when the material is good, the actor can be good. When the writing is great, everything falls into place. Oscar Isaac was simply gripping in every scene. His performance mesmerizing. He plays a highly controlled man, one of structure and regiment while underneath you can feel a boiling rage. It is a character study into man’s moral responsibilities. Of going down the right paths, and finding redemption wherever it lies. Of the reprehensible acts committed by the American military in the pursuit of “safety”. And it’s all told while playing cards and gambling.

The direction and camerawork was very meaningful, purposeful. Each scene carried a weight to it. The soundtrack was fantastic, and drastically enhanced or added to the mood of the movie. Tiffany Haddish did a good job from her usual comedy routines, and a good job playing it straight. Willem Dafoe is always excellent playing smarmy bad-guys/assholes. And Tye Sheridan is also always on point with his acting. I really felt for his character, trapped in the cycle that abuse brought down on him.

Overall, it was highly enjoyable. A taut tale expertly handled by writer and director Paul Schrader. I’d recommend it.

Movies

The Contractor (2022)

The entire time I was watching this I was waiting for the shoe to drop. The reason why it would have a lower rating than usual action thrillers, and near the end, the plot reveals why. In this day and age, with all the fears around biological warfare, it is perfectly suited. Our hero, played by Chris Pine, is hired to do off the books wet work in the name of national security aka assassins for hire. His flaw comes in the form of a bum knee sustained in active service to his country. After being chewed out by the system, and thrown out with no benefits, he joins the aforementioned wet work mission where things go awry.

In typical fashion, there are twists to be had, and seeing Ben Foster’s name ruined any twists. If the man ain’t in the leading role as the good guy, then he will be playing the character designed to mess with your mind as to his moral code. The drama was good, and raised points and messages about the abysmal treatment of veterans. The action was solid, and carried weight. Soundtrack equally enjoyable.

Overall, I recommend it. It’s a fun watch, has an easy to follow plot, and always a joy to see Chris Pine in the lead role.

Spoilers/Thoughts on the Plot

I really liked the fact that the evil bad guys were stealing a vaccine that would counteract their evil plan of releasing a virus onto the population to make billions off of the untold suffering. Totally not far-fetched. Ben Foster’s character needlessly sacrificed himself which I felt was undeserving of such a fate.

Movies

Moonfall

Everything about this disaster movie fits the typical bill for Roland Emmerich. CGI extravaganza with widespread near total destruction with only a handful of survivors, and long periods spent trying to gain audience sympathy for characters and their families. I came for the aliens and destruction that I expect from his movies.

The opening sequence and the final act regarding our trio of heroes were the best parts for me, and I definitely want a sequel. I want to see where it would lead. Patrick Wilson did a terrific job especially when it counted to get the audience emotionally teared up. Halle Berry was working with what she had, her character didn’t get the same impact as Patrick Wilson’s did. And John Bradley, of GOT’s fame, came off as initially annoying yet became loveable and misunderstood. His character’s arc I wish to see more of in the sequel.

I had to leave my brain at the door to properly enjoy this. It was fantasy up until the final arc where we finally got some sci-fi in the mix. The soundtrack was great; helped increase my heartrate in intense sequences. The actor playing the son of Patrick Wilson’s character was so terrible that I am surprised he got cast. It takes something special to pull you out of a B-movie’s immersion.

Overall, either you’ll find it an enjoyable popcorn or snack-filled movie, or you’ll find it downright dumb and silly. It can be both. If you like aliens and conspiracy theories in your movies, I’d recommend it. Or if you simply like seeing the world get destroyed in CGI destruction.

Movies

Blacklight

When I sat down to write this review, I had to think hard to remember watching this last night. It’s one of those forgettable movies, not passing judgement as to their quality but color me shocked, to say the least, to see it with 8% critical score on popular site rotten tomatoes. Liam Neeson doing yet another grizzled ‘old warrior in a young man’s world’ helped to elevate the movie, and be the trigger that helps you remember you watched it.

The chase scenes were questionable, and downright laughable at times. The action was okay, nothing special. Acting was serviceable across the board. So 8%? Are we sure it has nothing to do with the fact the antagonists are the FBI? That the plot revolved around government agencies using their own hit squads to deal with civilians that can’t be intimidated or bought? Hilarious timing I thought to myself after having reviewed Halo which has similar sentiments. Are American writers trying to say something? Are you okay? Blink twice for help.

Overall, it was one of those late night watches. It lulled me right to sleep as the credits rolled. I would recommend it for a sleep aid. It is very mediocre but undeserving of 8%. I really liked seeing Emmy Raver-Lampman (The Umbrella Academy), it feels a bit of a shame to have this movie rated so lowly. Maybe 20-30% instead.

Movies

Black Crab

I went blind into this movie because I saw Noomi Rapace. I’ve always enjoyed her performances of a stoic tough warrior with a softer side, sometimes motherly. This fit the bill. She stars as Caroline Edh, a young mother turned soldier in a future war that sees prolonged conflict. The enemy’s nationality unknown. She’s recruited for a mission along with several others to deliver a cargo to friendlies deep behind enemy lines with the special premise of having to skate under cover of darkness across an icy archipelago.

The tension was taut throughout the movie, as the party navigated the dangers of their journey. And the story seemed to run its natural course when I noticed there was still 35 mins left in the movie. I wondered what it could do, where it could take us and I was happily surprised in the direction it did take. In today’s political times, it was rather refreshing (more on that in the spoilers blurb). The action had me on the edge of my seat because it felt like the characters were fighting against the rising tide. Sounds of gunfire, and ice cracking with the wind whistling about, the sense of cold desolation came across well.

Noomi Rapace did an excellent job, and during an emotional scene in the later half, she pulled me right in. I couldn’t help but tear up alongside her. Jakob Oftebro followed her lead in that regard. With the portrayal of his character, of a soldier haunted with leadership and the knowledge that comes with it. The rest of the party played to their roles well, as the sniper, the medic, and the inevitable ‘not an idiot on purpose’ soldier.

Overall, I loved the movie. The soundtrack had a futuristic vibe to it, tense when needed, played with your heart, and pumped it up when necessary. I recommend it!

Spoilers

I knew as soon as I finished watching this movie that other reviews will call it poor timing, bland, and a tasteless depiction of war. Some might draw a direct comparison to the recent war in the western media’s eyes, like the refugee camps near the start of the film. They might consider that because the enemy is nameless that it makes the whole conflict not have any impact. They’re missing the point. The bad guys in the movie, the antagonists, were not the invading force but the defending nation. They were going to use biological weapons regardless of the cost on human life. And having a defending nation be the bad guys in a movie was very refreshing. Too often the aggressor is depicted as evil, and rumor and propaganda run rampant. The movie also depicted the defending military using backhanded methods such as lying about a child’s location to a mother to motivate her, or lying to their soldiers that locations have been bombed. They need soldiers focused for their war, properly motivated through manipulation. That is a very brave outlook to show in a movie with the recent turmoil in the political climate.