Movies

Extraction

This is how you make a movie about rival drug dealers kidnapping children and the attempt to save them without appearing that you have an agenda against them. Not Rambo Last Blood, a racist fueled exploitation flick. One should take notes on how to make violence tasteful without appearing, as I said, racist. Enough about Rambo Last Blood, this movie is called Extraction and it stars Chris Hemsworth as a mercenary with nothing left to lose. Who takes up a suicide mission to save a drug crime lord’s son from a rival drug lord. Story takes place in Mumbai and Dhaka. Scenery is chewed through by the explosive, frenetic yet easily followed action and set pieces. All the close combat action is well shot and easy to follow. And never did I feel that it was over the top, or that our hero had an extreme hatred for his enemies (ok last time I mention Rambo).

It was a well crafted story that managed to bring some layers to our otherwise static hero vs villain tale. All the characters in such a story are never given enough time to flesh them out and make them feel real. At most, we can identify with our main and see the layers unfold for them. Here we saw that not just our hero is layered, but that his enemies and allies are as well. They managed to make them human, like “somebody’s father” and that is what makes them more compelling to watch. I like knowing my hero’s story, knowing whether they’re tortured by their past, or that they love their son very much but cannot be there for them. I like knowing my villain is a true piece of work, who has no qualms about killing children to achieve his goals. These moments of humanizing the characters to be more than pieces on a chess board, is what helps elevate this movie beyond a simple action tale. There is a message here to be found, even if it may be masked slightly. And what I took away, is that a child’s life is worth saving even if the parents might not be. That although we may run away to escape our problems, eventually those problems will return to haunt us in another shape until we finally face it head on. Until we are free of our demons, and have learned to accept them, we cannot find peace.

Beneath the violence and action that encompasses this movie, there is a surprising humanity and soul to it all. I’d definitely recommend this movie for a watch. If nothing else, you’ll be left entertained. It reminded me of Tears of the Sun. Another movie well worth the watch.

Movies

The Platform

I was repeatedly sought to see this movie for it had a message akin to Joker or so I was so told. Joker was subtle and insidious. This movie beat you over the head every 10 minutes, and not kindly too. I would equate it to torture porn. Wholeheartedly unneeded, and left a bitter viewing experience. I had to mute and block much of the screen, reading only the subtitles at times.

The worst part is you could see the disgusting violence that was about to happen long before it did, therefore why would the movie continue to actually show it for such an extent? It can’t be to reiterate its message that the world is currently run in a such a manner that those who are wealthier leave naught but scraps for those that are poorer while both sets are led astray by the owners of such a system. To show extreme violence with the sole purpose of violence is unsavory. If you can heavily imply the violence, there is no need to explicitly show it. Unless you’re going for shock value; at which point, you’re devaluing your external message. This isn’t John Wick or some other revenge fantasy. This is one of those attempted allegorical art house films. Be tasteful with the gore and violence.

It felt like they were trying to make it feel like Heart of Darkness/Apocalypse Now with our main character’s descent from a moral and good man into madness and then a moment of redemption. Perhaps that was the purpose they sought with the movie, but I digress. It did not feel that way at all. It felt cheap. Somebody’s idea of prison torture porn.

I’d skip this movie. The amount of symbolism and beating you over the head repeatedly is off-putting, having the main bring the book Don Quixote with him is just… Why don’t you defecate in a character’s mouth while climbing to freedom to further iterate that everything is shit? You wait, you do. I feel bad having Joker even mentioned in this review, it doesn’t deserve such disrespect.

Movies

6 Underground

Wow! What an entertaining movie! The action kicks off from the start and doesn’t let down until the very end. It was quite humorous too, at times, and in contrast to the violence that would be occurring on screen. Director Michael Bay does what he does best: cars, guns, hot women, and explosions. I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. It reminded me of movies such as The Losers or Smoking Aces. Just pure fun. Not a whole lot of thinking needed; leave your brain at the door.

Ryan Reynolds is great as the wisecracking, enigmatic One. Mélanie Laurent is kickass as a former CIA spook, named Two. Corey Hawkins does a decent job at playing the honorable soldier and sniper, named Seven. Six was played by Dave Franco as the driver for the opening sequence: a car chase that sets the tone for the whole movie. Ben Hardy played Four, the parkour expert and former thief. Three was basically the secondary comic relief, and done well by Manuel Garcia-Rulfo. And Five was the beautiful yet deadly doctor of the team, played by Adria Arjona.

All of the actors did very well, you could tell they were having fun playing their roles. And they had such a great chemistry too. Many of their interactions brought me to laughter. The villain was also done well because you truly despised him, though that would be more a testament to the writing than the actor – Lior Raz. And speaking of the writing, the movie is quite political. You can clearly see the real life parallels that they tried to accomplish. I don’t like discussing that, so I’ll let you be the judge of what propaganda they are peddling. Outside of that, it’s a solid movie. Except for the cars blowing up upon crashing, but it’s Michael Bay; it’s to be expected.

I definitely recommend this movie to watch. Be advised the violence is quite graphic; in fact, the whole movie played like it was a comic book come to life. I would watch this again with my friends and family.

Movies

Rambo: Last Blood

I went into watching this movie expecting violence. What I didn’t expect were the levels of extremity that were shown. It is downright brutal; it is relentless. This is a bleak movie, with no redemption or satisfying end. It is a movie about loss. And frankly, a movie about the blackest of hearts; a movie about pure evil. The villains are the Mexican drug cartels/traffickers. A wretched hive of villainy, completely deplorable scum who, in this movie, deserve everything that happens to them. As John Milius said, “We need to go down there, kill them all, flatten the place with bulldozers so when you wake up in the morning, there’s nothing there. I do believe if you have a military, you use it.”

Rambo: Last Blood takes this idea to heart in its execution. Our titular hero ends up bringing the full weight of one cartel down upon his head, and summarily kills every last one of them. Though this was not without reason or cause: these villains kidnapped, raped, drugged and inevitably killed Rambo’s niece. It is a story about a man who has absolutely nothing left to lose and we are to be witness to his wrath and vengeance. His brutal killings are almost an artform at this point. And his final kill was actually, while gory and nasty, well deserving for its villain. Personally it was over too quick. But I can’t complain. Our protagonist lost his soul, and our antagonist lost his heart. Who really won? Nobody.

My other gripes are several characters are pointless and they only serve to further Rambo’s story. They have no ending or point to their own selves. Such as Paz Vega, a journalist who saves Rambo and provides him with the intel needed to complete his mission of wanton death and destruction. She herself gets no closure or even writes an article. She’s a journalist in name only. The other gripe I have is 70% of the movie is in Spanish. I thought only 20% of Arizona speaks Spanish, yet there’s a disproportionate amount here. Yea, I understand when they’re in Mexico. But why the need to do it in Rambo’s home. Even he, himself, has a look on his face at times that says “please stop speaking in Spanish”.

The start of the movie has Rambo attempting to save lost hikers from a sudden deluge that leads, somehow, to a river flow down a mountain. It’s supposed to serve as a way to illustrate that Rambo still has PTSD from not being able to save lives but just comes across as corny and laughable.

In short, I don’t recommend this movie at all. Take a hard pass. This is a twisted revenge fantasy that should have remained that, a fantasy.

Movies

Joker – A tour de force of acting by Joaquin Phoenix

As I watched the credits roll on Joker, I felt as if the message of the movie would be twisted by those who think the story is about them. Some call them “incels”, but ultimately, they are self-deluded individuals who, more often than not, share traits with those that suffer from mental illness. I saw the message of this movie as those that suffer from mental illness are abandoned by society, and left to fend for themselves. And when they find they cannot, they break. They become a shell of who they were. Not all do. Some are strong enough to overcome their demons, or at the very least, manage their demons.

Arthur Fleck is a man molded by not society, though it certainly plays a role, but by the actions of the few. These few share in his same pain, they share the fact they have mental illness. It’s a cycle. Much akin to the cycle of poverty vs the rich. It’s a war fought vicariously that benefits only those at the very top. Society is an engine used and tuned by those in control. It runs to their machinations, to their design, and we are enslaved to it. Should we find ourselves outside the engine that is society, we find ourselves cast out and abandoned.

But, this is a story about Joker. About Batman’s nemesis. And to that end, the movie absolutely excels and nails his character. As a villain of the comic book world, he translates perfectly on screen in this one shot as a burgeoning criminal whose acts of violence propagate as symbols in the war against the rich. He becomes an idea. Remind me again who adopts a symbol to become an idea… Oh yea, a guy in a bat costume.

Joaquin Phoenix’s acting here was phenomenal. His mannerism and ticks brought to life the character of the Joker. His laugh perfectly capturing both laughter and pain at once. It’s maniacal. His dancing is a man at joy and happy in his own way, but it comes off as uncomfortable to watch. Like you can feel that there is something wrong with this man. It helps that Joaquin lost weight and his own body helped his performance, often appearing grotesque.

The violence itself wasn’t too strong. You felt it coming. It equated to the anger his character felt, and often matched it. It left you reeling but at the same time, it left you understanding why. It was horrible to watch, as it should be, but it was done with purpose. I didn’t feel as if any scene was done just because. Every act pushed the story forward and took Joker further into becoming the psychopath we recognize him as.

As to the movie itself, I feel as if, perhaps, if he was able to be given a voice before his message was twisted by the media, then he could have turned out different. If he was given a chance to heal, to be helped by those who can, he’d not have ended in a dark place. This is a story about whether the ends justify the means, or do the means justify the end. Did he sow chaos and mayhem because of what happened to him throughout his life and so he reacted? Or was he always this way, and what happened was his own response and the media just ran with it to fit a narrative?

This movie holds a powerful message, and it is entirely subjective to the person viewing it. It can be dangerous. But I wish to see more. Not of the Joker, but of DC comics adapted as one shot/one off stories. A singular story with no hint of a sequel. One message. Yet viewed by many different lenses.

I highly recommend this movie.