TV Shows

The Purge Season One

After a series of movies about the so called Purge, where all law is suspended for 12 hours and everything is legal including murder, comes a television show about the said events. I was hoping for a real in-depth exploration as to what such an event would mean, and the impact it would have on the lives of people after such an event took place. Unfortunately, season one is merely yet another torture porn scenario where the politics are glazed over in favor of showcasing brutal violence. There is quite a bit of societal comparison to current events and political climate, and some allegory to be had, but not nearly as much as there should have been.

Season one focuses on an interconnected story of several individuals that culminates in an explosive finale with all parties involved, but the steady rise to get there is not worth the journey of all involved. Only one of the stories was truly interesting, while the rest merely served as allegory on current events. We have a couple, Jenna and Rick, that make a deal with the devil, a founding father/billionaire to invest in their company so that they can help change the world. We have a finance manager, Jane, and her struggles to make it in the world as a professional, black, business woman. We have Joe, an iron worker who feels misplaced and angered at the treatment of his kind in the world, and his solution to it all when Purge night comes. And finally, the best and most captivating story, a brother, Miguel, trying to save his sister, Penelope, from a cult and the entire night of the Purge.

The main story, and that which you root for most, is that of the brother trying to save the sister. It also brings the most emotional impact. The couple serves to narrate how billionaires run the world and their funding is what keeps events such as the Purge going. Similarly to real world events, and how politicians are kept funded by similar entities. Jane speaks volumes as to how all professional women have to bide their tongues and wag their tails, so to speak, while being passed on for promotion and ridiculed by small time jokes about their “ass”. To put it more eloquently, they have to bide their tongues while being the brunt of sexism and gender jokes, bide their tongues while men make small racist jokes, and have to apologize when they don’t feel interested in a man as if it’s somehow their fault and not the man who should simply learn to move on. Joe is the antagonist of the story and the reason why everyone connects in the end. He is angered at being replaced by foreign workers, and by machines. He is angry for being played by legal loopholes that screw over the common man while ensuring those above continue to line their pockets.

Besides these characters, we have minor characters that help develop such a world. Such as Pete the cop, who runs a bar during Purge night to help ensure there’s a safe haven for all. We have the Matron Saints, a collective of trained women that go around saving and protecting other women found in dangerous situations. We have the Stanton family, the aforementioned people that are the deal with the devil, and their socialite lifestyle. We have Lila Stanton who provides an intimate experience with the couple and helped rekindle their marriage. We have Rex the collector, so called because he collects people on Purge night to be given over to a sadistic carnival that allows for bidding of humans to be massacred. And we have Henry, the ex-boyfriend of Penelope and hardcore drug user that provided the reasoning as to why Penelope joined a cult – run by a social worker by the name of Tavis.

It was well acted by all, and I particularly enjoyed Lee Tergesen as Joe. He had quite the charisma as to what basically amounted to as an incel. The camerawork was well done and helped capture an uneasy attitude with crooked angles and rotating the picture to appear upside down. Overall, I recommend it if you’re a fan of the Purge series. And if you’re not, and torture porn/brutal violence is not your thing, give it a pass. You’re not missing anything.

Movies

White House Down

“If you feed a man, you take away his propensity for violence.” This is what immediately sets this movie apart from all other Presidential movies, because the president is a legitimate good guy who wishes to improve the state of poverty within the United States. Secondly, it’s established that the war in the middle East is a massive waste of money that could have been spent bettering the people of that area. And that they’ve established peace talks with Iran in addition to removing all troops. This is within 10 mins of the movie starting. Could you imagine how much better the world would be?

The best part is the news stations talking about how American companies who do business with the military wouldn’t like that one bit. A nice bit of foreshadowing. “All they wanna do is keep the cycle of war going” and “these corporations have been in bed with radical regimes for years.” And another goodie, “those bases are just for show, we could launch a drone off any carrier in the gulf and hit any target we want.” Another gem “The military industrial complex. Those are the manufacturers of the weapons. They think the own the system and they will do anything to keep that power. They profit off your sacrifice.”

With those political leanings out of the way, the movie gets into the nitty gritty with a bomb set off inside the White House and soon armed men take over. What follows is quite enjoyable action scenes with rewarding fights that see our hero, John Cale, played by Channing Tatum, kick ass and taking names. Baddies just fall to his guns, and he essentially is John McLane (even the name is similar). It’s basically Die Hard but inside the White House. And going with that comparison, the jokes are similar and the tone is as well. Jamie Foxx plays the president and he did a good enough job. I mean there’s no standard for it given the current president in the US is far below standards, so if anything, this is quite a great job by Jamie Foxx.

James Woods does a fantastic job of a bitter head of secret service because his son, a marine, was killed during a black ops mission orchestrated by Mr Foxx’s character. He tends to chew the scenery around him, and makes the mercenary head bad guy pale in comparison (played by Jason Clarke). I enjoyed this movie because the bad guys weren’t international but good ole homegrown Americans that wish to keep the status quo going. It feels reminiscent of the times. The director, Roland Emmerich, did a great job at navigating his story. Several scenes are done with his signature style of CGI and explosives, and he even gets his own movie mentioned, Independence Day.

Overall, I recommend this movie if you’re in the mood for some light hearted comedy and action. If you enjoy Die Hard, then you’ll enjoy this as well.

Movies

Safe (2012)

Jason Statham plays a cage fighter who after bungling a fight where he was supposed to lose, now finds himself a homeless tramp after the Russian mafia bet on him and lost, and took revenge against him. They killed his pregnant wife and told him they’d kill anyone he ever befriended. After returning to New York, it’s revealed he was a cop who turned in his fellow corrupt officers yet that went nowhere except he got ostracized. About to commit suicide, he witnesses a young chinese girl being pursued by the same Russians that killed his wife, and he intervenes.

What follows is very satisfying action against criminals and corrupt cops. As his character says, “I don’t collect garbage. I dispose of it.” And how very nice of him to help the New York police clean house. The girl that he helps is a young chinese girl with perfect memory that the Chinese mafia uses to replace computers and has memorized a long number which is of much importance to all corrupt individuals and criminals alike. It turns out to be a combination for a safe.

Jason Statham’s character, Luke Wright, is revealed to be more than just a cop but a special favor called in. A killer for the police who helped the mayor of New York clean out criminals. That was his past. It’s great to watch a character with nothing left to lose. The action is visceral, and hard hitting. And did I mention satisfying? I did, didn’t I? Because it is so much so. I will never advocate for violence against anyone but it is so satisfying on a fantasy level, and if you’re a corrupt individual or a criminal, well, you get what’s coming to you. If only the real world was as such, watching videos on reddit of corrupt cops and nothing being done aggravates many. It’s movies like this that allow the population some form of cathartic release. I spoke of this on another movie, Death Wish, and that reasoning is why so many of these movies are popular. Because the common people know that these individuals will not get any comeuppance, such as Tennessee trooper Harvey Briggs. The viral video with the officer in question shows clear signs of a power tripping individual, and as of yet, nothing has happened. Man has not been disciplined. If only they had their own Luke Wright. (Update: As of August 14th, he’s been terminated from his job. Too bad charges have yet to be laid.)

As for the acting itself, Statham delivers. Amidst the violence and grit, he shows off heart. Every single one of his blows packs a rewarding sound of impact, and that power fantasy of revenge gets fulfilled. The villains are honestly a little flat for me, merely simply caricatures of bad guys. However the police captain, played by Robert John Burke, he’s the only one I felt that could be terrifying because of the current political climate regarding cops. Knowing such an individual is overseeing an entire precinct is a bit scary, yet relevant, and probably not too far off from the truth. The head of the Chinese mafia played by James Hong was done well, if again, not as scary as the police captain. Reasoning is you know he’d kill you, whereas you place trust in the police and to have that overturned can be a nightmare.

Ultimately, it’s a fun movie to watch. And the ending is pleasant, our hero lives and the girl has a happy ending. It’s not one of Statham’s better movies, but it is pretty darn good if you fancy watching his movies. And I love watching them, so I might be biased for em.

Movies

The Predator (2018)

This is one of those movies where you can clearly see studio interference. You can see where director Shane Black had his vision and where the studio told him to do contrary to his vision. The first 30 minutes do an excellent job of establishing the Predator mythos and immersing the viewer in the world. There’s clear worldbuilding at play with our mysterious organization that knows who and what the Predators are. And then something strange happens, the last half of the movie is tonally different than the first. And research will tell you that the movie needed massive reshoots to redo the entire last act because apparently, according to the studio, “people want action, not prolonged sequences of talking”. I would have infinitely preferred what Shane Black had in store over what we got.

And what did we get? We got essentially a video game masquerading as a movie. Nonstop action, and violence and gore. If characters are talking for a prolonged period of time, you can bet your butt that a Predator or some violence is about to burst on screen. In a way, it’s like a jump scare. It’s cheap, and tactless. When a director has a unique way of doing things (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, for example), you do not interfere with your gift horse. You let them create art for you, you don’t cripple it.

So let’s think, why did they do that? What message could this movie have, that they want to silence or at the very least, push down so that it seems insignificant. Off the bat, I can safely say this movie is anti-government. The main character, who is an assassin for the military, is immediately untrustworthy of his own government to the point he steals evidence and sends it home knowing how everything gets covered up. Even when being debriefed, he asserts these facts to the puppet masters behind the scenes. And as he expected, he’s going to be shut up and never heard from again. Shipped off to a mental asylum. Fortunately, his little gang of merry misfits are essential to the plot and his fate is not that of the mental asylum.

What I enjoyed most was when the main character’s son asked him, “Dad, what’s the difference between a killer and a soldier?” And he replies, “A killer likes killing. He enjoys it.” And then he tells his son he’s not a killer. Later on, he kills two individuals but not before saying “I hate that you’re making me lie to my son. I am going to enjoy this.” To me, this felt like a message regarding most of the armed forces. Most of them are there because of the opportunity to be. And therein lies a massive problem. Alas, the movie does not deal with it. It’s merely mentioned and moved on, pushed down like I said. I’d bet dollars to donuts, that Shane Black wrote a whole lot more on it, and had a couple more scenes fleshing that particular message out. But the studio immediately put its foot down.

Moving onto the good stuff. Acting is pretty darn top notch with the exception of Olivia Munn. Her character is merely plopped in without much explanation and somehow we’re supposed to believe she’s a top most biologist in her field. Yet half the stuff that comes out of her character’s mouth is idiocy. Her talents are wasted here, and if anything she’s the eye candy. Sexist, but that’s what her character boils down to. You could remove her character and the plot wouldn’t change. You could have a random doctor be like “oh hey this fluid is evidence of DNA altering” and that’s all you would need. The two I enjoyed most was the lead, Quinn McKenna played by Boyd Holbrook, and the head of the clandestine agency, Traeger, played by Sterling K. Brown. Both were quite believable in their respective roles, they carried bravado. The other various supporting roles were essentially critiquing how the system treats veterans. Thomas Jane as a vet with Tourette syndrome provided comedy relief, as did Keegan-Michael Key as a tortured vet who via friendly fire killed an entire friendly unit. While they are funny, at the same time it’s sad. Why are you making the ones with mental issues the brunt of the comedy?

To close, it’s worth a watch. Some parts are just unadulterated fun, while others drag. Not sure I liked the whole angle they went with the Predators, and especially that ending. What executive signed off on that? Spoiler, an armor set that makes a human look like a Predator for the purpose of killing Preds. We a video game now boys. Give it a go if you enjoy the world of Predator.

Movies

Death Wish (2018)

When I saw this movie had surfaced on Netflix, I instantly remembered having seen it but I couldn’t quite remember the plot. As soon as I started watching, I remembered why I enjoyed this movie. And that is because it is an apparent revenge porn, for a lack of a better phrase. It’s vigilantism against the perceived wrongs. In the case of the main character, Dr. Paul Kersey, played by Bruce Willis, it’s making sure that criminals have consequences for their actions. It’s a social commentary on the American justice system and on how ineffective police are. As one of the characters in the movie says, police show up after a crime has been commited. They don’t prevent crimes. Only a man willing to defend his family can keep them safe, you have to do things yourself.

With all the issues that are currently being faced in the US and around the world regarding police, I feel this movie is contemporary but I would change it to better suit modern times. The way I’d change it is one that some might call me insane, and probably, nay, most definitely wouldn’t ever get made. I’d change it so that Paul’s family was murdered by a pair of cops responding to a call and being the trigger happy individuals that they are, it ends disastrous for his family. Meanwhile I’d have the other cops covering up this incident and the detective that Paul talks to tries to paint some criminals as the perpetrators. So because Paul is mislead, innocent (well not so innocent, still criminals) individuals end up on the wrong end of his gun.

The problem with such a fantasy is how would you end it? If you’re making a point against the failure of the police system, Paul can’t just summarily execute two cops. I mean he could, and that would be some cathartic revenge porn for a lot of people who are fed up hearing about cops shooting people in the back or in their own homes. These movies are a slippery slope. What I believe this movie is, is not gun porn nor is it revenge porn. It is showing how a man would react to having his family killed and maimed. Then getting fed up with the ineptitude of the police. In a way, it’s almost like the Punisher.

I didn’t watch this movie because I thought it was good, I watched it because it is satisfying. After hearing about so much injustice in the world, it’s cathartic to watch someone dole out their own special brand of justice even if it’s as simple as shooting with a gun. Criminals get their due comeuppance and our hero survives at the end, all is well. It’s why people enjoy subreddits such as justice served. Alas, the real criminals can’t be swiftly dealt with. Most of the criminals are products of their environments, of a lack of education. Of inept government services that merely want to maintain a status quo, the status quo. Those at the top, they are the real criminals. And no movie will be made like Death Wish in which they get their due diligence. The most we will get is that of the criminals they want gone, of how stories should be told so long as nothing upsets the status quo.

In regards to the acting, Bruce Willis tried somewhat here in contrast to his usual of just phoning it in for a paycheck. I can see he had fun with it, and his character came across as anguished. Vincent D’Onofrio as Paul’s brother, did quite well with what little had to work with. He played the angry uncle well. Camila Morrone as the daughter felt a little stiff and out of water, and turned out this was her first time acting in a feature film. Given that, pretty good for a first try. Elizabeth Shue as Paul’s wife was great for the little time she had as well, portraying fear for herself and her child during armed burglary. Lastly, Dean Norris as the detective in charge of investigation for Paul’s family was adequate as well. There was nothing special here needed, just someone that looks and acts the part of an older detective.

Closing thoughts, Eli Roth did a pretty good job with what he had to work with given that this movie is a remake of a series of movies and a book. His trademark bit of gore makes a couple appearances but thankfully nothing over the top, and actually went along with that catharsis for revenge. The villains were nothing special and simply pieces for the plot, no standouts here. I recommend watching this movie. I thoroughly enjoyed it.