Wednesday, September 26, 2012


Lawless is the true story of the Bondurant boys who were legends in the bootlegging business in Franklin County Virginia.  The story follows the three Bondurant brothers who could not be more different.  The leader of their group, Forrest Bondurant played by Tom Hardy, was a simple minded, brutal but quiet, businessman.  The middle brother, Howard played by Jason Clarke, was addicted to his own product- the crazy alcoholic.  And the youngest brother, Jack played by Shia Lebeouf is the dreamer that romanticizes everything about their lives but is harmless and shy's away from violence.

The story revolves around these three brothers trying to continue their illegal operation after a special deputy, Guy Pierce, shows up to take his share of all bootlegging operations or shut them down.  Forrest is the only bootlegger who stands up to this insanely violent government official.

This was a great movie with some great acting.  I think this continues to prove Tom Hardy can be Bane, an architect for dreams, or a 1920's bootlegger whose life becomes a legend.  Shia Lebouf also did very well.  Gary Oldman's character of Floyd Banner was great however he did not seem to play much of a role in the movie.  I was surprised that such a big actor would really only have 2 scenes that could have easily been edited out.

I also found it very interesting that the novel this movie was based on was written by Matt Bondurant, the grandson of Jack Bondurant.  It lent a sense or truth to the movie even in it's most outlandish scenes.  The movie was great and very entertaining, but be forewarned- extremely violent!  It's one of those movies that does not need to be so violent and at times it is very disturbing and difficult to watch.  While the movie was incredible, it does remind me of how movies used to simply put the idea of violence in our head and let our imagination go as far as we felt comfortable going.  That may sound weird but I feel like such extreme violence simply targets shock factor which takes away the incredible talent of the actors, writers, director, and the incredible story being told.

Overall I really liked Lawless and would definitely recommend seeing it.  It's one that doesn't need to be seen on the big screen but I would still recommend checking it out in theaters if you can.  Based on the story and acting I give the film 4 stars out of 5.

Movie poster from:

Friday, September 7, 2012

Total Recall (2012)

Colin Farrell, Jessica Alba, Kate Beckinsale, and Bryan Cranston all star in the new remake of Total Recall.  After watching the original 1990 version with Arnold Schwarzenegger, I have to say it does not stand the test of time.  What used to be a decent sci-fi flick is actually quite bad when watching it now.  The new Total Recall will probably have the same effect in 20 years.

The new Total Recall was very entertaining and action packed.  The story is similar but not exactly the same.  Colin Farrell plays a factory worker who is bored and unhappy with his life (even though married to the incredible Kate Beckinsale).  He goes to an underground place called Recall which implants memories into their clients brains so they can experience things they may have not been able to do in their real lives.  He chooses a super spy program with excitement, betrayal, and action.  However after the program, it becomes unclear to him whether he is still in the program or if he really was a spy before in his real life.

The one real surprise for me was how great Bryan Cranston was as the villain.  For me Cranston will always be associated with Malcolm in the Middle.  But after seeing his character here I am sold on him being a late comer to the big show.  For those of you already watching Breaking Bad, you know how great of an actor he can be.  I will definitely start watching this show now to see more of his brilliant work.

As I said the action and special effects were entertaining.  While this is certainly not the best movie of the summer, it was fun to watch.  Nothing was so big and over the top I would say you have to see it in theaters.  But when you are at home wanting to watch a good action flick, this definitely fits the bill.  I give this movie 3 stars out of 5.

The Bourne Legacy

The Bourne Legacy is the fourth installment in the Jason Bourne series and the first one replacing Matt Damon with Jeremy Renner.  Renner plays Aaron Cross, another, more advanced version of Jason Bourne that was a product of the Treadstone project.  As Edward Norton starts to shut down the entire program from the top to bottom, Renner and the scientist that developed the genetic enhancements on him, go on the run fighting to find out who was behind the shut down and find a way into hiding.

While all three of the Matt Damon Bourne movies were good, I really started seeing flaws in each one after the first one and really haven't thoroughly enjoyed one since the Bourne Identity.  The Bourne Legacy is an even further departure from the novels and while Aaron Cross is the main character, it is actually a cover name for Jason Bourne, not a totally different person as in the movie.

This movie had 3 major problems which made it by far the worst in the series.  1) The script.  The script  was not good and did not allow the audience to really witness impressing performances from the main acting team.  It further failed with too much technical jargon.  The story and entire "Bourne" process was totally changed and therefore needed way too much explanation for a 4th installment.  A lot of the explanation was incredibly scientific so that 99% of the audience seeing this movie probably did not understand any of the science behind this whole story.  I am not someone who thinks movies or scripts should be dumbed down for the audience but can indeed actually educate the audience.  But in this instance, we just needed an incredible action movie.

2) This was not an action movie.  There was action, but none of it overly impressive.  Matt Damon's character had some incredible fight scenes that just was incredible to watch.  This movie did not have anything overly impressive.  Some fight scenes were cool, but nothing fantastic.  Jeremy Renner was impressive as the character and did well.  But based on script and directing, he did not have the chance to really become "Bourne".  Even the final chase sequence was not overly exciting.

3) It seemed to really have an end.  Each of the other Bourne movies left the end open for a next installment.  While they all stood on their own and could have ended at any point, I felt that this one had a definite ending which kind of stops the story.

While this was not a good Bourne movie, it wasn't horrible- it just could have been a lot better.  I hope Universal does not stop with this 4th one as the final Bourne movie.  I feel like if they go back to the original story and build off that, it could continue as a lucrative franchise.  I give it 3 out of 5 stars.  I would recommend checking this out on DVD.  Its entertaining and if you enjoyed the first 3 Bourne movies, this will be entertaining as long as you realize, its only loosely a Bourne movie.


So I missed the boat on this movie.  Drive came out last year featuring Ryan Gosling, Bryan Cranston, Albert Brooks, and Ron Perlman.  When it came out, people went crazy over it and commented on how great of a movie it was.  Incredibly violent but in a very indie, quiet way.  While this was not the film that really launched Ryan Gosling's career (girls still oogle over him from The Notebook), but it was his first movie that solidified him as a interesting action hero that could act, kick butt, and look good.
As I said, I somehow missed this movie and while it has been on my list of movies to see, I just now got around to it.  It was not my favorite.  I think the hype definitely does not match the film.  The story revolves around a driver (Ryan Gosling- nameless) who is paid to be the getaway driver for thieves, robbers, and all around bad guys.  He befriends a woman next door whose husband gets sucked in for "one last job".  Ryan's character decides to help by being his getaway driver but through a web of deceit and double crossing gets caught up in a pretty sticky situation with some of the highest elite criminals.
The story was very unique but the film just seemed a little too independent.  There were times that the movie was so slow and I just lost interest.  I also did not find any of the actors all that likeable.  Even Ryan's character seemed very distant and one dimensional.  I did not feel involved in any of the character's development or problems.
Not a bad movie, but I had just been told to expect so much more.  Maybe this rare, bad review of the movie will allow others to enjoy it more than I did.  I give the movie 2.5 stars out of 5.  So many people talked about this movie which is why I watched it, but I definitely could have saved my time and watched something better.