Movies

The Gray Man

I’ve been looking forwards to this one for some time, since the movie’s promotional team shared pictures on Reddit. Ryan Gosling as our titular character, a man that’s 007, Jason Bourne, and John Wick all rolled into one. The unstoppable action hero. I love these kinds of movies because you hold no fear for the main character, and you just wanna see the level of carnage that they’re capable of in their quest. And the action sequences do not disappoint.

Ana De Armas was equally capable and badass in her role, as CIA agent Miranda, helping our lead to achieve his goals. In fact, the star studded cast helped elevate this movie especially when it came to our villain. Played excellently as a sociopath, Chris Evans, in a stark contrast to the goody two shoes we know him from in Marvel, was a delight. I enjoyed seeing him playing a bad guy. Hope he tries it out more. The weakest link for me was the agency chief, played by Rege-Jean Page. At no point did he come across as menacing, or coldly intelligent, or anything remotely to a serious villain. He felt like a joke amongst all the rest of them, a complete miscast. I kept waiting for the zinger which never arrived.

Oh, a special shoutout to the character of Lone Wolf played by Dhanush. It’s always fun to see a character that has honor, and scruples. I could see them making a movie outta his character.

The plot itself lends itself a few twists and turns to keep things interesting, and inventive action sequences – at times. Like the tram sequence, I particularly enjoyed when our lead used the reflections of the building to aim his shot. Plenty of scenes can be seen in a humorous light, especially with the quips coming from both hero and villain. The music wasn’t anything special, except for the usage of the song ‘Silver Bird’ in two action sequences. That was nice.

My only major gripe is showing the one torture scene with a bit of explicit detail. That had no reason to be there other than to showcase gore. You can heavily imply what is being done without actually showing the damage through the creative use of angles. Honestly, I just closed my eyes while exclaiming “ah fuck off, Russo bros”. That scene was purely for shock value. Added nothing that you didn’t learn immediately in the next scene. “Oh, why are the bad guys showing up here? Ah, yes, clearly the torture worked. So why the fuck did I have to be witness to that?” Oh and, Joe Russo once again putting himself into his movies, as a small role, don’t think I didn’t notice ya buddy.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this movie except for that one gripe. I loved the charisma that Ryan Gosling always brings to the table. The fierceness of Ana De Armas. The quips of Chris Evans. It is an enjoyable Friday night movie for me. Netflix has finally put out an action movie that has a pulse. I didn’t think it possible, yet here we are.

TV Shows

The Terminal List

It’s been awhile, folks. Of course, a military show with propaganda smelled a mile off would certainly get me back. Chris Pratt as Navy Seal Operator James Reece, with “why are you spending good money on him” Taylor Kitsch as his buddy Ben Edwards, and Constance Wu as the tough but determined reporter seeking the truth. Add a mix of “oh hey, I recognize him/her/them” and a bit of well-executed action sequences with a focus on reloading – oh my!

Naturally, I attempted to view it all in one sitting. It was a fun ride and I’m left with some plot related questions towards the end, but I enjoyed it all. It definitely is a love it or hate it type deal. No overseas baddies here. Nothing but homegrown, domestic greed. A show about a trained weapon shaking up the tree, searching for the snakes that fall out. At first, it feels like a very cookie-cutter generic American military thriller that’s been coming out recently on Amazon Video. Then the hook arrives near the end of the first episode, and I’m all for the murder in the name of revenge. Reminded me of Punisher with Thomas Jane, similar storyline; that is, a man with nothing left to lose and nothing left to live for but revenge.

In a rare twist for me, I enjoyed Jai Courtney’s performance as the pompous rich guy that gets his due comeuppance. Precisely because of that delivered justice. It was worth having to see him act in a movie for once. There’s a dude that I recognized from Banshee (great show, still working on that one), some dude playing an FBI agent I recognized from somewhere. And an actress from older movies I haven’t seen in some time, and older viewers would definitely recognize.

Overall, I liked it. The somewhat strong religious overtones outlined in the opening episode made it go off to a great start. I could also see why the devout Chris Pratt would be drawn to the role, and why nepotism would get one of the actors in the movie a role (brother in law). Thankfully, just a minor role. And the world wouldn’t run without it. Nice callouts plot wise to the plight of veterans, and how easily they could theoretically turn to taking action against elements of the government. And with the recent events of the pandemic in the world, having a plot element of testing medication to an unknown mass of individuals… Well, ain’t that just dandy!

Movies

One Shot and Black Site

Oh look, two movies with very similar plots released within a year of each other. A common occurrence, like Armageddon and Deep Impact. The movie, One Shot, is a smaller budget movie than Black Site due to the actors involved. One has action B-stars, and the other has formerly A-list stars.

One Shot was a fun experiment in a long continuous take, with much of the action showed with as little cuts as possible. Often using misdirection to make it seem like one continuous take. It starred Scott Adkins as a Navy SEAL, Ashley Greene as a CIA analyst and Ryan Phillipe as the station chief of the black ops detention facility. When it falls under attack by hundreds of insurgents, they must work together to get a high priority target out safely into order to find a nuclear bomb hidden on US soil.

The action was definitely B movie tier, but it was fun to watch. It was relentless, and enjoyable for if you’re in the mood for an hour and a half of non-stop action. The plot was minimal, it was merely a vehicle to deliver the action. Of which it came in spades. Minor issues with bad guys having unlimited ammo while the good guys had to reload, but good sound quality overall. I liked it.

Black Site goes the other direction, with a focus on story and development over action. Even then, it suffers the same issue as One Shot did which is the unbelievability of how the main bad guys enter the place. At the same time, it’s quite enjoyable to see American intelligence and military as being incompetent. And the slight digs at the CIA and Mossad are a nice little treat. We have Michelle Monaghan as a CIA analyst with personal ties to the bad guy, Jai Courtney as soldier Miller (he’s good at playing bullies), and Jason Clarke as the sadistic bad guy called Hatchet. We also have a relative newcomer, Phoenix Raei as the Israeli Mossad agent called Uri.

When incompetent delta forces fail to interrogate Hatchet, the base goes on lockdown and they have one hour to restore communications lest they be hit by a drone strike by their own nation, the United States. What follows is hilariously bad attempts at re-securing their own base, while Hatchet goes around brutally killing the inhabitants.

In both movies, the target of the bad guy(s) is a businessman with alleged ties to terrorist organizations and we do not know if he’s a head honcho or merely just a puppet.

Somebody needs to tell the action choreographer or the guy in charge of effects for Black Site, that guns have recoil. It is a sad attempt to not have any when the blood effects were on point. Also if you’re supposedly a trained soldier or ex-soldier, you’d know when picking up a gun to check ammo/that it works right.

Overall, I’d recommend Black Site for the story because it has threads of truth to it. While I would recommend One Shot for the action.

Movies

Russian Raid

This is one of those action movies where the story is not the focal point, just an element to carry the action from one scene to the next. Given that, there is a message to be found buried underneath the superbly executed fight sequences and action choreography. About honor, soldiering, and the deep corruption that can be found in both military and police. That the only answer to such crime is to take it out by the root, killing it at its core.

I loved the frenetic combat, both close quarters hand to hand and gun action. Everything carried weight, and felt almost real. Like Ong-Bak, I wouldn’t put it past these Russian stuntmen that some got too into it. Some of those hits didn’t look like they were pulled. It was glorious. The inclusion of the track suit gangsters was great, and they provided mild comedic relief at the absurdity of some of the situations. And in the end, there is even a sense of honor and loyalty amongst hoodlums. The soundtrack fit in perfectly with the fast paced nature of the fights. The camerawork was top notch, every fight was easy to follow and to see the outcome. No shaky cam here with a thousand rapid cuts. Acting was pretty good all around except for the blond actress, she felt sorely out of place.

Overall, I recommend this action movie. The fights are great to behold, and a good watch for a Saturday night type with the boys.

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.