"We're still at war, Plissken. We need him alive."

"I don't give a fuck about your war... or your president."

The Old Guard

THE OLD GUARD is a pretty good Pandemic Summer blockbuster, because I’m sure it would’ve felt underwhelming if it had been advertised for months and played on the big screen, but as a movie I read mentioned once or twice and never saw promoted until shortly before it dropped on Netflix, it was enjoyable.

In the opening scenes it almost seems like another one in the tradition of CLOSE and EXTRACTION – militarized elite mercenaries or whatever, all geared up with their guns and armor and headsets, on a mission to rescue kidnapped kids in a Muslim country (South Sudan this time). But there are little hints that something else is up – wait, is that guy carrying a sword? They have a team, too, instead of one burnt out loner who’s messed up about losing a kid. Their leader is Andy (Charlize Theron, with hair and physicality that reminded me she was AEON FLUX), who thinks they should be laying low, but reluctantly agrees to meet with this ex-CIA guy Copley (Chiwetel Ejiofor, TRIPLE 9) for intel.

It turns out to be a trap. They breach the place and the walls close in on them and some guys come out and machine gun them. A minute later is when we get to the real premise – the team wake up, the bullets drop out of their wounds, they heal and they stand up and kill those motherfuckers with that sword and a cool ax and some kung fu and shit. (Fight coordinator: Daniel Hernandez, xXx: RETURN OF XANDER CAGE, AVENGERS: ENDGAME, VENOM.)

It’s based on a comic book published by Image Comics starting in 2017, adapted for the screen by its original writer, Greg Rucka. These guys are all warriors who are immortals. They don’t know why, it just happened that way. They have dreams that lead them to each other, but unlike the immortals in the Highlander universe they don’t kill each other. They team up and go around together and try to put their healing powers and centuries worth of combat practice to positive use.

Andy is short for Andromache of Scythia. If I were her I would use the full name, honestly. Like X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE, they live so long they get mixed up in all the conflicts. At one point we see her in an American civil war photo, fighting for the Union, I believe. Her best buddy Booker (Matthias Schoenaerts, RUST AND BONE, THE DROP) fought under Napoleon. Joe (Marwan Kenzari, BEN-HUR, THE MUMMY) and Nicky (Luca Marinelli, THE GREAT BEAUTY, THEY CALL ME JEEG) fought on opposite sides of the Crusades before they figured out they were soul mates. There’s a great moment where they get captured by shithead mercenaries and one tries to insult him with a “what is he, your boyfriend?” remark. Joe makes a little speech about what Nicky really means to him, far beyond a mere boyfriend, an epic description backed by hundreds of years of profound connection. The asshole has no retort.

(I was surprised just now to realize Kenzari is the same guy who played Jafar in the live action ALADDIN – I kinda liked that movie, but he has much more presence here.)

It’s harder to be immortal these days without somebody figuring it out. For example this Copley guy, who records their death and resurrection and shows it to pharmaceuticals CEO nerd tyrant Steven Merrick (Harry Melling, Dudley from the HARRY POTTER movies). Merrick is immediately hateable for 1) his bug-eyed acting style and 2) wearing a hoodie under a suit. Not my favorite villain, but at least not a bland one. He gets a reaction.

He sends thugs to try to capture Andy and her team to be used as guinea pigs, believing it’s ethical to imprison, torture and even kill them because it might help other people live longer. And make the stockholders lots of money. But Andy and friends are a little preoccupied because for the first time in forever they’re aware of a newbie. Andy has to go to Afghanistan to pick up Nile Freeman (KiKi Layne, IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK), an American soldier who freaks everybody out when she quickly heals from a throat slashing.

They have some fun with their ability to get shot up and maimed and then walk it off. There’s a good compound fracture. Otherwise the story is mostly made of familiar beats, but not bad ones. Andy shows Nile tough love to prove to her she’s immortal, dragging her into a Jeep, shooting her in the head when she runs, fighting her in the cargo hold of a plane, threatening to crash the plane, etc. And by the end they really like and respect and are nice to each other. I like that kind of story.

I have seen some high praise for the action, as well as some pushback. I would say it’s in the middle. Doesn’t excel like EXTRACTION, but above average. It’s shot pretty clearly, and Charlize gets some good moves. Maybe too much emphasis on the upper body without showing their feet.

To me the strength of the movie is the little character moments. I like the bonds shown between these people who share a lonely, weird existence, have known each other almost literally forever, and have died for each other. They meet up in new cities, hug each other, have their own jokes with each other. Without giving anything away, I especially like the way they deal with it when one of them has wronged the others. They’ve been through too much to just switch to being enemies.

Of course this reminded me of HIGHLANDER and some of what’s fun about those stories. There’s some overlap – jokes about what they’ve witnessed throughout history, flashbacks to different time periods, Andy having a Rodin sculpture in her secret stash cave. And the way they get in Netflix’s beloved “haunted by the loss of a child” trope is by using Connor MacLeod’s backstory from the earlier drafts, that he had kids and had to watch them grow old and die. Some sad shit! It’s also different from HIGHLANDER in that it emphasizes their adaptation to modern technology – the sword and ax are there, but they (sadly) don’t default to them.

The similarities made me think oh damn, Charlize would’ve been a good, uh… Connie MacLeod in Chad Stahelski’s HIGHLANDER remake. As much as I enjoyed this, I’m assuming that will be better because undoubtedly the action will be better, and I think Stahelski’s movies are stylish enough that there’s a chance he’ll recognize the importance of flashy technique when following in Russell Mulcahy’s white Diadora Borg Elite trainer footsteps.

Director Gina Prince-Bythewood – who I know from LOVE & BASKETBALL, but she got some hype for BEYOND THE LIGHTS several years ago – isn’t going for stylization like Mulcahy. But she also doesn’t do the yellow tinting some people objected to on EXTRACTION. (There were apparently two cinematographers: HIGH ART’s Tami Reiker, and Barry Ackroyd of THE HURT LOCKER and CAPTAIN PHILLIPS.) It’s a decent looking film, but I think her strengths are more dealing with actors and characters than visuals. I guess I haven’t seen enough Netflix originals to generalize, but of the action ones POLAR is the only one I can think of that’s stylistically playful.

I’m wondering if we should call this category of movies DTV+ or something. They have Charlize Theron and a $70 million budget – doesn’t seem fair to put it in the same category with Jesse V. Johnson, even if most of his are better than this. But they find that sweet spot in between the expectations of a theatrical movie and a TV show. I don’t need to watch this every week, but I’m happy that it’s clearly intended as a series, especially since the next one would likely revolve around the minor character played by the great Veronica Ngo (credited here as Van Veronica Ngo) of the Vietnamese action films FURIE and CLASH.

In addition to the pandemic, this is a summer of upheaval. Snowballing injustices and unrest have forced a long overdue season for us to collectively face and rethink some of the things we’ve been ignorant or complacent about. On that score, good for Netflix putting this budget behind a Black woman director, particularly for something that’s just cool and fun, not looking for prestige. And for having a cool gay couple in it – again, just because it’s part of the story, not because it’s About Something Important.

On the other hand, I’m starting to be more conscious of how comfortable I’ve gotten over the years with the way modern action movies glorify militarism. I struggled with this in my upcoming book, because an effective, traditional way to explain someone’s fighting abilities is to make them ex-military. In the ‘80s you could say they’d been in Vietnam, a war most everyone agreed was a mistake. But now it pretty much has to be related to the vaguely defined “War on Terror,” still in progress, so it’s often treated as a straight forward heroism, not a dark, complicated one.

Nile needs to be a modern day warrior, so she needs to be a soldier in Afghanistan. And she needs to be a good guy, so they make a point of showing that she’s extra empathetic when entering someone’s home (to save them from a bad man), and reminds her team to be respectful. There’s more to it than that, and it’s not what most of the movie is about (the bad guys are Big Pharma, after all), but I think it ends up leaving an impression of don’t worry, there are some good people in there, we’re the good guys. Don’t worry about this neverending occupation. At least when combined with a hundred other movies doing the same thing.

I want to be respectful of veterans and the tricky dynamics of the situation, but maybe a military conflict that’s old enough to vote should have to be depicted with a Verhoeven eye for the infuriating madness of it all. Maybe at some point it becomes immoral to unquestioningly push this assumption that sending our troops everywhere is the only possibility.

So anyway…

THE OLD GUARD is a fun movie. Andy is no Furiosa and this is no ATOMIC BLONDE, but I love that Theron is both a respectable Academy Award winning Great Actress and somebody who gets totally excited to train and do somersaults and look cool in some genre shit that could’ve gone to Milla Jovovich. I like these characters, I like this cast, I look forward to more at some point. My heart says don’t make Ngo the bad guy, because what about friendship? But my fandom says I gotta see that battle. A great screen martial artist who’s also a fine actress vs. one of our finest actresses who’s also a great action star. Straight outta Scythia, into your living room.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, July 15th, 2020 at 3:41 pm and is filed under Action, Comic strips/Super heroes, Fantasy/Swords, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

143 Responses to “The Old Guard”

  1. Not sure if i’ll ever get Netflix. There’s already so many old movies i haven’t seen.

    Wish this, The Irishman and The Night Comes For Us got a theatrical release though. Watching movies in a theater is the best way for me. I get distracted easily watching stuff at home.

  2. Interested to finally sit down and watch this one soon (my mom texted me to tell me how much she liked it, which is usually a pretty good sign, she’s got fun taste in action movies- she’s the reason ERASER was on constant rotation in our house).

    This is actually based on a comic book by Greg Rucka, which I read and thought was ok but not excellent. From the review, it sounds like they stayed pretty true to the source. There’s a bunch of more interesting action comics (as opposed to Action Comics feat. Superman) they could have adapted instead, many of them even written by the same guy who wrote this, but I guess the high concept is what sells these days.

  3. I found this film to be an incredibly boring pilot of a tv show I would give up on after an episode of two. This thing has no life despite it being about immortals. People gave Extraction shit for having no levity but I would argue this is worse. 80% are speeches about how much it sucks.

    If this thing was 20 mins shorter and didn’t spend so much time with monologues how much it sucks to be immortal I may have liked it. It’s way too long.

    The fights didn’t do anything for me beside they had cool choreography that wasn’t performed with much zip.

    I don’t know. It’s well made and the director feels more at home with drama scenes. I really am glad she tried this at least and it’s doing well enough that I pray we get more action films from more than just white dudes.

  4. Thank you for acknowledging the action is only in the middle. On the old ACR I’d give it a 3 at best, which is better than Greengrass but still cut to shit and shakycam. To make 87eleven action look bad you have to really be trying to.

    But I suppose it’s telling about the state of action in the last 20 years that medium blows people away. Still, they’ve seen John Wick and Atomic Blondie, or even Birds of Prey. And as mentioned above, Extraction had good clear action whether you liked the story or not.

  5. Haven’t seen this, but I do think the war on terror has had a few Verhoevenish stories…I don’t remember Jarhead super well but that kind of fits, and Three Kings. And of course they were shot when the war was still relatively new. Now it’s just ind of this thing that’s been happening and no one much pays attention to it unless something big is going on like us going against that huge caliphate a year and change ago. Otherwise it’s hardly even background noise.. pretty weird.

  6. Those were about the first Iraq war though! But my point is not that there should be *some* movies critical of the War on Terror (there are). It’s that I’m starting to feel that *any* portrayal that’s not explicitly critical is pretty much indoctrination at this point.

  7. Holy shit you’re right…They WERE about the first Iraqi war. That’s insane, this war has been going on so long I got them confused. I do get where you’re coming from…don’t totally agree, because it is good shorthand and I know this guy who used it to show why his character had trauma without delving into anything too much, and it IS a good way to show why someone is good at killing people. But it’s not really an unreasonable view either.

    Was a little curious about this, checked out some…wanted to see some of the action. It’s decent but kinda generic…I disagree with people saying it’s cut too much or shakycam. I know what shakycam is and the moves in this are clear. Sometimes if a camera isn’t sitting on a tripod in a wide shot people want to talk about Greengrass but I don’t buy that at all.

    What IS kind of so-so is the action itself. It’s good, it’s slick, well put together with nice choreography but man is this style getting old. Where everyone is a supreme professional badass always running around in the fucking Weaver stance and then grabbing someone’s arm and doing some kind of move where they roll together, then they stand and fire off a perfect two shots to the chest and one on the head on someone coming at them and everything’s perfect. These 87eleven action scenes just feel like corporate McDonald’s fries at this point.

    If someone really wants to mix things up, give us some sloppier action, or something like The Warriors where it’s just really tough…actually that aspect was great in that London tv show now I forget what it was called. It was slick but not overly produced feeling. Or some martial arts where it feels a little jazzier and not out of the pre-viz factory, like what Jackie Chan or Donnie Yen or Sammo would do (especailly Jackie in his prime).

  8. Probably the most ‘Meh’ film i’ve seen this year.
    It definitely has an interesting premise but it all just feels boring and what action there is it’s not choreographed/filmed well.
    Charlize was the best thing in it by a long mile.

  9. I am guessing you mean Gangs of London, Muh, which was, after all directed by the guy who made THE RAID. I’m not quite ready to say I’m bored with 87eleven action just yet, if only because they’ve raised the bar on what is acceptable as action in these kinds of movies.

    I liked OLD GUARD more than I liked EXTRACTION but less than CLOSE. The cast is very good all the way down, although I might worry that Ejiofor could get stuck with these kinds of roles when he deserves better, and I could’ve used more skinny Dudley Dursley being wild eyed and evil. But it’s not just Theron’s show, as some seem to be suggesting.

    But what I really thought, and I thought it during EXTRACTION too, as did some others here, was “Gee, the good guys surely do kill a lot of people.”, which I think kinda links in to what Vern is saying about us becoming inured to the War on Terror. Maybe if you sign up to the private army of some wild-eyed pharma CEO with no scruples you get what’s coming to you, maybe, but the culpability of a lot of the fodder soldiers and police in EXTRACTION was a real grey area. I know this seems an odd complaint to make against action movies, but it feels like we’re a long way from John Connor’s “You just can’t go around killing people.”

    If our hero is gonna take out the bad guys, I wanna know they killed his dog and so really deserve it.

  10. Really just ok movie and completely forgettable.

    The one moment, though, that will really stick with me: the flashback to the immortal who is put in an iron coffin and thrown in the ocean. Obviously they set this up that she would be a central character of any kind of sequel at the end.

    But that whole idea of someone spending eternity drowning and dying over and over again, never breathing air for centuries, locked in that box. I could not get that out of my head the rest of the movie. I’m actually still thinking about it a bit, just a gruesome, dark fairy tale type scene that really stuck the landing for me.

  11. Man, I think I burned out on “87eleven Action” in the middle of the first John Wick…

    Bad guy, approaches John Wick. John Wick puts bad guy in wrist lock. The John Wick Wrist Lock™ causes bad guy’s entire body to go limp, suddenly his other arm and both legs no longer work. John Wick can then use him as shield, whip him around indiscriminately while shooting other bad guys, or tie bad guy into pretzel causing him to shoot himself in the face with his own gun. Repeat 200x, that’s John Wick 1. 600x, the John Wick trilogy. It gets real old…

    In contrast, Point Blank was on a couple days ago. The fight in the back of the movie house doesn’t even seem choreographed. Like, at all… It seems like Boorman’s only direction was “Beat the fucking shit out of each other. Okay? Action!” The result? A hell of a lot more visceral and memorable than 200 fucking wrist locks.

  12. I did not expect to like this more than most of you. Normally I’m the first to eyeroll an action movie that just wants to mope instead of kicking ass, but I liked the characters (Well, except for the newbie, who strikes a blow for equality by proving just as milquetoast as any of the bland white guys who’ve played the audience POV character in a fantasy movie) and I found the mythology and the film’s take on immortality to be so interesting that I didn’t care how mediocrely the action was covered. It was fine. Like someone said, I’ve seen 87Eleven action scenes before. I’ll see them again. I’m not gonna cry if they’re not 100% clear as a bell in this one case when the action isn’t really the main course for this particular meal. It’s cool to realize that the premise of this origin story isn’t what you think. SPOILER: It’s not the story of a badass immortal and her team: it’s the story of a former immortal adjusting to mortal life with the help of her still immortal team. We still get all the gore and stunts but Charlize has something extra to chew on. I’ll definitely watch a sequel if we’re not all dead by then.

  13. By the by, the best straight-to-Netflix action I’ve seen lately has been LOST BULLET (BALLE PERDUE), which Fred was boosting but otherwise seems to’ve gone largely unremarked.

    To be sure, my expectations were low – I envisaged TAXI with less slapstick – but it really delivers a good time, even if it makes you wait a long time for the car carnage the premise promises.

  14. Yes Borg9! Gangs of London! That had the best tv fight scenes since Banshee, and probably bettered it. And that’s a REAL high fucking bar. It has a few real slick fights, had some brawl fights, a brutal fight, a scary fight with an insane slasher. None of them felt the same.

    And there was that ONE episode, if anyone say the show you know which one I mean…it’s just like holy fuck. I absolutely put it on par with The Raid. It’s not nonstop action, but EVERY scene had suspense or something along those lines, and then totally insane bloody wowsers action. A brilliant episode and Gareth directed that one, clearly.

    I’ve been on a tear with British shows right now. London was very good but sort of petered off at the end, I was hoping it would have had a more real contained END instead of setting up more but that’s okay. And then I saw Inside Number 9 which is easily one of the best tv shows I’ve ever seen. Every single episode is great. I was looking for a horror anthology and there’s not a ton of them and heard about that show…it’s not HORROR, more like Alfred Hitchcock if it were really funny, but it can also get really twisted. But every (short six episode) season does has a straight up horror episode, still with a lot of humor. Amazing writing. Recommended!

  15. I thought this was decent, though I was more interested in the setup than the followthrough. I’ve read complaints that since the characters are immortal, there’s no real threat in the action scenes, but I think we accept that most movie action heroes are immortal. This film’s just explicit about it.

    It played a bit like a vampire movie for me. There are shades of NEAR DARK in the family/group dynamic.

  16. I NEVER get that complaint about there not being a threat in the action scenes or they have plot armor or whatever. It’s like yeah, when I’m watching Arnold or Sly or The Rock or Seagal I don’t actually feel concerned that any of them are going to take a bullet to the head. The closest a pure action movie has gotten to real fear for a protagonist I’d say is Die Hard, where McClane is REALLY put through the ringer. But come on, no one thinks he’s going to slip off that fire hose and fall to his death.

  17. It’s not even a fair complaint in the case of THE OLD GUARD, as the story of Veronica Ngo’s Quynh makes it pretty clear that really very bad shit can still happen to them, immortal or not.

  18. Plus, I thought they did a good job of establishing that any death could be the last. They really worry about each other every time. Other than for training purposes, death is never taken casually, and in many cases would be preferable alternative to the many other fates that could befall them. Imagine getting dissected for decades straight. Isn’t that literally what hell is supposed to be? I honestly felt far more worried for these supposedly invincible characters than do for most traditional action heroes, who are functionally invincible anyway. As scary as death is, there’s nothing scarier than eternity.

  19. ~Possible Spoilers~

    I really liked this one – not quite loved, but it was very enjoyable. My favorite things were the effortless displays of teamwork when the Immortals were fighting, and the fact that Joe and Nicky wound up together after meeting and killing each other during the Crusades. And Charlize Theron continues to be an amazing badass who manages to express herself as well with fight scenes as she does with dialogue (her match with Nile on the plane wasn’t exactly amazing but the expressions on Andromache’s face and her eventual enjoyment made up for it).

  20. Overall I liked this and would watch episode 2, but there’s definitely room for improvement. An action scene that isn’t in an empty, dark room or an office hallway would be nice. I also would have appreciated it if they had put a little bit of effort into Charlize’s ancient flashbacks. But I’d agree that the best thing about the movie is the closeness between Andy and her team and how they all seemed to have GOOD HEARTS. Even the big betrayal is done out of love. Nile is stuck being the hesitant, conflicted character who doesn’t want to accept her new reality for most of the movie, but I was on board with her by the end of the movie.

    Points to the cast for doing most of their own stunts. That’s always nice to see. Like others have said, the action is decent, but not amazing. It felt like the director was dipping her toe in the John Wick style.

    The way they made the immortals vulnerable worked pretty well for me. The iron coffin thing was particularly fucked up.

    All signs point to a big showdown between Charlize and the lead from FURIE, so that bodes well for a sequel. I’m guessing Charlize will get her healing abilities back after she kills the star of FURIE? Maybe? (I’m assuming Charlize will regain her healing at some point if she continues to star in these movies.) And I hope Andy’s world weariness doesn’t go away *completely*. This is a Greg Rucka property, so I want to see a Renee Montoya-esque bar fight in the sequel.

    One more thing– I had to laugh at super innocent, naive Chiwetel’s surprise *every. single. time.* the clearly evil, beady-eyed BIG PHARMA guy didn’t do the right thing. “I-I never agreed to this….”

  21. Yeah I didn’t see the woman in the coffin part but man that would be the most horrible thing ever. Shit just being buried alive would be bad enough, but that? The worst.

  22. I really liked this one. I guess I can see everyone’s complaints about it being boring or the action not that great or whatever, but I don’t agree. I don’t think it was the most exciting or the best action, but I thoroughly enjoyed it all.

    One of the highlights for me was the speech Vern mentions about the love Joe feels for Nicky. I thought they felt like real people. They didn’t feel like mythic, badass, mopey immortals. They felt like a group of people who had deep, meaningful relationships, had been through some serious shit together and were showing some melancholy. I actually didn’t find this to be very heavy on the burned out, cynical stuff. I’m not sure what the difference is, but for me, personally, I didn’t think it near as morose as EXTRACTION or even ATOMIC BLONDE. I also thought they gave Nile just the right amount of “I didn’t sign up for this shit – I want my old life” without making her annoying. I also really like how they handled **SPOILER** Booker’s betrayal. It wasn’t done out of anger. He was hurting and thought this was a solution. He pretty much immediately regretted it. The others were hurt and mad and knew he had to face some consequences, but they weren’t going to write him off completely. And he knew he deserved it.

    Anyway, I liked it. Maybe partly because I had zero expectations but I’d re-watch it and hope there’s a sequel. That drowning over and over fate is truly a nightmare. I hope they don’t make her a complete lunatic bad guy, but could understand if you’d end up that way.

  23. Well I’ll take solace in knowing Franchise Fred and myself agree lol

  24. Maggie – I didn’t want to mention it in the review because SPOILERS but I think that part you mentioned about Booker knowing he deserved his punishment was maybe my favorite part in the movie. Specifically when Andy said she wanted to let him off with a warning and he laughed and said she would learn. (Does the cliffhanger imply that he’ll be holding a grudge, though? It seems to set up for those two to be the bad guys, but hopefully it will be more complex than that.)

  25. I’m LOL-ing a bit at the digs at “big Pharma” here when we are all literally waiting for them to save our lives in the next six months. I wouldn’t mind some immortal blood or whatever right now.

  26. Beyond the Lights is probably in my Top 5 Movies of the ’10s, so this was never going to live up to that, but I still loved it. I mean, it has alot going against it – a plot we’ve seen before in Highlander and vampire movies, Theron playing the same role she played in Hancock, Ejiofor kinda playing the same guy he played in Serenity, etc… All the familiar beats are there but I thought the action was solid and I loved the chemistry of the team. If there’s one glaring problem it’s definitely KiKi Layne, whose cardboard-like line readings stuck out like a sore thumb in a mostly well-acted movie. (I mean, Daisy Ridley and John Boyega’s charisma and likability went a LONG way in smoothing over how poorly defined their characters were in Star Wars – Layne has almost no screen presence, but at least I’m glad the script treats her as just the new Immortal on the block, and not The Chosen One Immortal who immediately has more power than Charlize, etc…)

    Also I really loved the message about Theron’s character being jaded about how shitty the world is, and not realizing that her little victories throughout the years were having a butterfly effect and ended up making the world slightly less shitty. It’s corny and simple but I thought it was kind of a powerful thing to say in a time when the world is undoubtedly in a long stretch of shittiness.

  27. Vern, I think it could go either way. They’ve shown he’s lonely and sad and has it in him to do something stupid and desperate, so to then be even more isolated could be enough to make him side with her. But it could also be that he’s going to be conflicted and trying to be a calming influence. I like how nuanced things were played in this one and I’m hoping they keep that up.

    I also totally understand where you’re coming from on the soldier stand point. I thought the same thing when I was watching this. Lately I’ve wondered about how many cop shows I watch. I’m trying to just think of them as complete fantasy. They’re one step short of having elves and magic shit. Maybe that way I can stomach them for awhile longer.

  28. I didn’t particularly buy Booker’s betrayal, nor that Copley would be so naive, but whatever. This stuff maneuvered the players into place, and I liked the interactions they all had when they got there. It was clunky but good stuff arose from it.

    I really loved how calm all the immortals were. None of the short-lifers and their infantile bullshit could get much of a rise out of them, and even Booker’s betrayal—which would require him to pay with his life in literally any other movie—was treated like a dick move, like hooking up with your buddy’s not a heel turn that would villainize him forever. They’d all been together too long to think that a little thing like literally shooting your leader in the back and selling her to a pharmaceutical company come between them forever. It felt adult in a way that most drama—which relies on adolescent passions and childish overreactions to drive the plot—has little use for. With time, nothing is unforgivable, and these characters have nothing but time. Sure, it’s not the kind of whiplash emotional rollercoaster that peak TV relies on, but it felt real.

    I’m sure Booker will play the same conflicted turncoat role in THE OLDER GUARD. Iron Maiden Lady will convince him that Andy abandoned him just like she abandoned her, but then when he sees how far she’s willing to go, he’ll switch sides again. You hate to see a character repeat patterns like that, but what can you do? He’s only 200. He’ll grow out of it when he’s more mature.

    Also, if anybody is interested in the non-comics work of Greg Rucka (one of my favorites from my funnybook-reading days), I would recommend the Atticus Kodiak series. The first three books are about the titular security expert taking different bodyguard jobs, but then in the fourth Rucka seems to get bored, so he viciously tears apart the entire format of his series, which then continues for a few more books with a totally different premise. It’d be like if the fourth season of CHEERS ditched all established locations and cast and suddenly it was about Sam becoming a ski instructor or something. I read that fourth book just before I started my own series, and it was a real inspiration to me. I had previously labored under the impression that a series had to stick to certain tenets: a profession, a milieu, a location, a time period, a cast of characters. The familiarity of it all being the selling point. Rucka’s bold choice to trim all that fat and follow the central character into a new phase of his life gave me the courage to allow my own series to travel wherever it wanted to go, and I’ve been exploring it ever since.

  29. Also, I feel like a gif of Joe saying “You’re a child. An infant. Your mocking is thus infantile” would really come in handy when internetting with at least half of America’s pissbaby citizens so somebody really ought to get on that.

  30. On the note of Rucka’s other work- he also did a comic series called QUEEN AND COUNTRY which is quite good- basically a very gritty, ground-level spy story. It’s often described as “Jane Bond”, since it stars a lady British spy (named Tara Chase) but it’s much more grounded than any but the earliest of the Bond movies. If you’re not into the comic scene, he also wrote a few prose novels following the same character that similarly blow up the premise in an interesting way (mostly by just allowing Tara to age like a normal person).

  31. I concur that QUEEN & COUNTRY, in both graphic novel and prose form, is dope. Rucka’s the fuckin’ man.

  32. Also, how badass is that last name? I want to invite him and his whole family to a barbecue just so I have occasion to say “Bring the motherfuckin’ Ruckas.”

  33. Michaelangelo McCullar

    July 16th, 2020 at 5:30 pm

    I thought it was a cool touch that Nile was a member of the Female Engagement Team. That’s an underseen aspect of the military.

  34. To be fair, what explanation for a character having action movie skills would be acceptable if ‘ex-military’ is out? Cop? NRA member? Please don’t say CIA agent……..

    (And isn’t it a little weird that ‘Mafia hitman’ is apparently okay?)

  35. I will say I kind of like it when sometimes a character has random skills. Like in Hard Target, why is this kickboxing great shooter and flipper just some dock schmo? Movie don’t even care.

  36. I think too many people think cop shows and movies are recruiting white supremacists. I don’t really see how. I feel like cops are portrayed as either idiots or they are portrayed as doing the right thing. I can’t imagine a person seeing a corrupt cop movie thinking how awesome it is to be a cop. I guess I”m able to separate fiction from real life better than 80% of people or something.

    I do think we should get a TV show that pairs up a cop with a social worker so maybe we can normalize that situation more. But portray both as competent and not like cop makes fun of stuffy social worker plot mechanics.

  37. I don’t know that cop movies are recruiting white supremacists (although they have been infiltrating the cops for awhile now). It’s more like cop movies, especially ones people drawn to being a cop would watch, would tend to glamorize or or at least show it’s fine to abuse criminals (only as long as they’re bad though) or shoot people. It’s not about showing a corrupt cop, it’s having Riggs abuse somone in custody for comic relief. Or Bad Boys 2 where they terrorize some kid for laughs.

  38. This movie rubbed me wrong in so many ways.

    Takes itself waaaaay too seriously, and has a mid-section which brings an already lumbering narrative to a crashing halt.

    If you’re gonna take frequent time off from the ass-kicking for weighty world-weary ruminations and regrets on a life long lived on doling out violence a la UNFORGIVEN, then you better have an Eastwood or a Freeman in the bunch to make me give a shit or a Hackman to scare me shitless.

    And for a movie about a bunch of immortals who’ve been around for millenia, where’s the sense of scope? Even largely set in present day NY, you got that epic sweep of Connor MacLeod’s life that told you this dude’s been kicking around in kilts since the days of BRAVEHEART (or ROB ROY) and he gunned down a Nazi in WW2 to save a girl who’s now his assistant not to mention fought a drunken duel in the era of powdered wigs and tights through some nice flashback cut-aways.

    What does The Old Guard give you? Snapshots on a corkboard, ONE flashback of Quynh and Andy and a whole lot of blah-we met during-blah blah- this happened during-blah blah exposition.

    You’re telling me a 70 mil budget didn’t stretch to some mini flashbacks detailing these characters’ backstories , a couple of basic establishing shots, a little green screen recreation of a bygone era, something an average History Channel on YouTube can knock out of the park and which even the otherwise God-Awful X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE aced in it’s credits??

    And..it’s the SECOND high profile Netflix release to criminally waste Veronica Ngo.

    The Old Guard is endemic of the sort of self-important bloviating seriousness that some movies adopt so it’s makers can stroke themselves with the contented smirk that they gave you “more than just an ass-kicking Charlize Theron flick about immortal soldiers”. Listen dipshit, everything from the trailers to the posters sold this as an ass-kicking Charlize Theron flick about immortal soldiers. If you were aiming for “MONSTER” or “NORTH COUNTRY”, ONLY WITH MORE GUNS AND EDGE WEAPONS, then that’s what you should have sold in the promos.

    All The Old Guard succeeded in doing was make me go back and re-watch HIGHLANDER for like the 250th time, and am happy to report, 30 years on, a movie that starts in a wrestling arena, then proceeds to a sword duel in a parking lot before transitioning to medieval Scotland still hits all my geek sweet spots.

    Plus, Clancy Brown’s Kurgan has never dropped out of my Top 10 list of ALL TIME AWESOME SCREEN BADDIES”

    For the no doubt inevitable Old Guard sequel I only have this to say: Can the contemplation and commence with the carnage.

  39. I did not get from the poster that this was anything other than a generic action film. I can see how you’d get it was about immortality if you knew already, but I didn’t and I didn’t. I know it’s not a priority for the world at the moment, but I hope posters get better again at some point in the future.

  40. I don’t think cop shows are recruiting white supremacists. I think they’re creating a false reality that everyone fell for, including myself. Other than maybe being amped up a little for dramatic effect, they think that cops have these super dangerous jobs, but they do them because they believe in justice and being the righter of wrongs, the champion of the little guy. They think they’ve been trained and have a natural affinity for dealing with people and noticing details. They think they’re kept in line because they’re afraid of I.A. and getting their badge taken away by their captain. And if they do step out of line, it’s for the greater good. They’re hampered by a system that favors scumbag defense attorneys who look for loopholes to get their guilty clients off. So, it’s okay when they blur the lines because it’s all in the name of justice and the perps are bad guys who need to be stopped.

    Turns out, none of that is true. Pizza delivery guys have more dangerous jobs and they have bupkis for training or aptitude and no one holds them accountable for any of their actions and the system is set out to screw over the little guy at every turn and other than the very rare occasion, cops are just glorified file clerks. They’re there to blame you for your own sexual assault or give you the correct form to fill out for your insurance, because they aren’t even going to attempt to look for your stolen goods. Or they’re there to give you a ticket. And yet these paper jockeys and violent, untrained, racists somehow need to be kitted out like they’re going up against the goddamn Predator.

  41. Do any of you even know any police officers? I’m friends with one and he’s a good guy trying to do the best he can. He’s from Scotland, thinks Americans are dumb about firearms, votes liberal. Right now, though, I feel bad for him. For example, some people he thought were his friends were filming themselves at the protests calling cops pigs and throwing water bottles at their cars. He likes being a police officer, does a lot of outreach in the community, etc but he’s feeling pretty underappreciated. I can understand his frustration. Whether you like it or not, cops are still an important job in our society. Are there things they do that would be better served to have other people do? Absolutely. Am I for ending qualified immunity? Absolutely (my state did). Do some Cops make poor choices that lead to the death of Black people? Yup. But you can’t just get rid of the police. Heck Black leaders in New York were saying they want more cops back on the street because crime is up over 300%

    It’s also frustrating that the same people who argue that violent video games can’t possibly lead to school shootings are the same pepole who blame Law and Order: SVU for the shit bad Cops do. Give me a break.

  42. Yes, I do know some cops. No, I do not think every single one is bad. I think the majority of them are, or they let others get away with being bad, which makes them also bad. I think it’s a broken system. I think they’re not vetted, trained or monitored properly. I think it’s a toxic environment fomented by bigotry and toxic masculinity and is running out of control with unchecked power which is something that attracts people looking to use that power for their own purposes.

    Was the Law and Order comment toward me? If so, that’s not what I said. If not and you’re just saying in general, okay. I’ve not heard that argument, but agree it’s pretty dumb.

  43. I got a cop friend. And he’s everything you described. And that’s the problem. He got into police work to be a hero, and so he naturally assumes that everything he does is heroic. That makes him pig-headed, self-righteous, manipulative, a terrible listener, and a disingenuous debater. I’d truly hate to be in an interrogation room with him. He’d have his mind made up before he even sat down. He tries be liberal because he’s from a liberal area, but I’ve no doubt that if push came to shove, he’d toe the thin blue line. Because at the end of the day, he’s about being a hero, so if you imply that he or his brethren are not heroes, that makes you the problem. Despite the fact that his own officers have turned on him for some petty fuckshit in the past, I have zero doubt that he subscribes to the “a few bad apples” theory without remembering the rest of that saying. Because it is entirely possible to be a good guy in your personal life and still a tool of an oppressive organization. So no offense, but fuck your one cop friend. Fuck mine too. If they want our respect and gratitude, they need to speak out and clean house and earn it. Of course, if any cops were really in it for us and not just to get their hero boner stroked, we wouldn’t have to explain this to them.

  44. Magggie, that was a general comment based on the countless hours of Twitter I use which I need to cut down on.

    I don’t get that sense but you might be right Mr. M.

  45. I grew up with and am related to several people who are or were cops, and for the most part they’re fine people outside of their job, I get along with them inter-personally, but they’re not good cops because there’s no such thing. It’s impossible to be a good cop and keep being a cop. The good cops are the cops that quit or wash out. The job doesn’t allow for being good. A hypothetical “good cop” would hold other cops accountable when they lie on their reports, or when they lie on the stand, or when they use excessive force but a “good cop” learns very quickly that’s not a smart idea. And if they’re a rare “good cop” that persists anyway, if they ignore all the pressure from their peers and superiors, if they reject the cop-notion that it’s them vs the world (vs not only the bad guys, but the ungrateful public that hates them for protecting them), then they are ostracized and turned against, doing the job becomes untenable, and they quit or are forced out.

  46. Just ask Frank Serpico.

  47. I came across a few things that basically back up what JTS and Majestyk are saying.

    The first is a “one former cop’s story” kind of thing, which makes it a bit more personal and anecdotal, but it’s pretty darn persuasive and lines up to the other data. The second is more systematic. You put these together with some of the actual stats and the anecdotes that we know of, and it paints a pretty compelling picture.

    I’m pasting two links; hopefully, they both come through.



  48. I guess if I had to boil down my thoughts on this movie from a ramble–to the effect of “good enough that I wish it was better”–to an anecdote, it’s that if your premise is that your good guys fight people with both swords and guns, shouldn’t they have an enemy who wields a sword too? For some kind of climactic swordfight? Instead of just Jason Voorheesing through a bunch of guys with Glocks?

  49. Thanks for the links Skani. I read that second one and it was a good read for me. Appreciate it.

  50. No problem!

  51. The TV show Angel did a take on the whole immortal being loaded into a coffin and dumped in the ocean between the end of Season 3 and the start of Season 4 which was done quite well.

  52. Ninja Scroll did the immortal suffocating at the bottom of the ocean forever thing too. It’s haunted me since I saw it in the 90s.

    I wonder if Lazarus is gonna be made into a show? It’s Rucka’s other immortal warrior series.

    Does anyone watch Stumptown? I never see it mentioned anywhere. It’s not bad!

  53. I did, missed a few episodes and haven’t gone back. I wonder how many shows like this won’t come back after the Pandemic.

  54. Muh – Have you seen Cinemax’s Warrior, a period action drama based on a Bruce Lee story idea? Jonathan Tropper, who was one of the creators behind Banshee, also produced it. I thought the first season was excellent and deserved much more attention.

  55. Joe, I was able to see the first episode which I liked, but haven’t had the opportuity to see more than that. I do need to.

    I assume you watched Banshee? It was a great show but the fourth season was pretty rough. The third though…wow!

  56. For sure, agree about Banshee, Muh. Cinemax seemed to have a nice thing going with its genre shows, but they seemed to get overshadowed by so many other big shows out there. There’s a recent article discussing how original programming on the channel has stopped and none of these shows are even available on HBO Max for people to discover. Too bad.

    Gangs of London was going to air there too but got moved to AMC. Haven’t had the chance to see it yet, but I’m definitely looking forward to it.

  57. So weird that two things that rarely bothers me in movies really stood out as major flaws in this: the use of pop songs, and the look of blandness. Ignatiy Vishnevetsky had it right, it looks like a cable series pilot, a tad above dtv movies, that cost $70millions

  58. Is it the use of pop songs in general that bothers you, or is it the way they are used?

  59. Even Megan Fox wants to be Charlize now!

    ROGUE Official Trailer (2020) Megan Fox VS lions, Action Movie HD

    ROGUE Official Trailer (2020) Megan Fox VS lions, Action Movie HD © 2020 - Lionsgate

  60. My money’s on the lions.

  61. No, I’m not usually against songs in movies but in this one they seem to really stick out, feels totally out of place with what’s on screen. I started the movie a second time and noticed they actually had some nice original score.

  62. Hi to everybody. I am a reader and admirer of vern’s work for years. Have bought seagalogy / have contributed via donation in the past. I need to say some words and please guys try to hear me with an open mind.
    I come here because I love movies. I come here because I love Vern’s take on movies. I come here to read the comment of people who love movies and Vern’s take on them.
    But lately in the comments I ONLY read opinions on political & social stuff many times totally unrelated to the movie at hand. And it goes on and on and on.

    EVERY MOVIE is dissected by being seen from a prism of if it’s progressive enough for 2020 even if it is a “blaxploitation” film from the 70’s. Opinions upon opinions on how to change the 40 year term “blaxploitation”. Dissection of the police problems on a movie about immortals.

    OK. I get it. It’s a time of social change. I’m not in the US so I can’t begin to understand how timely this thing is for you guys who live there.

    But there are SO MANY FORUMS for your debates which are not on websights with the subtitle “Vern’s reviews of the films of cinema”. Don’t misunderstand me. I don’t condone or dissaprove views. I am bluntly saying that a site I LOVE and come to decompress from the world and read about MOVIES has been highjacked by political and social commentary. Vern himself feels the need either on his own or by the very change of the comments to “judge” past movies on today’s standards as well, even if it’s lightly (for now).

    The MOVIE DEBATE is dying in here.
    I love you and respect you all you are part of my life for many years. Thank you for letting me speak my mind.

  63. With all due respect, I don’t get this complaint. You had a chance to say whatever you wanted to about this movie or any other and you chose not to. You chose instead to continue the political discussion. Because let’s be clear: Complaining about people talking about politics is STILL TALKING ABOUT POLITICS. By declaring certain topics off limits in certain spaces, you are taking a political stance. I get that the constant barrage of this stuff can be wearying, but the answer is to give us something else to talk about, not berate us for speaking our own minds. You have the exact same rights and abilities to generate discussion as we do. Why not use them? Next time all the political talk gets too much, try steering the conversation back toward the movie by offering your own opinions on it instead of just complaining. If you would like a different topic of discussion, it is up to you to introduce it. No one else is under any obligation to tailor the conversation to your preferences.

    I hope you do not feel attacked. I would be happy to talk movies with you anytime. But you have to SAY SOMETHING about movies first.

  64. I generally agree with Majestyk, which includes that I very much appreciate petrosmt voicing an opinion with kind consideration.

    Another point worth making is that Vern has been an intensely political critic since the 90s. We’re talking about a writer that was forged in the WTO riots here – I really cannot imagine a Vern community that would skew apolitical. Times of intense strife and ruin have always been acknowledged by our host, it only makes sense that his community would follow suit.

    It should also be noted that despite being as welcoming, appreciative and participatory as he is, Vern’s observant, hilarious and unique viewpoints are of such an excellence that they are often greatly intimidating. (This also applies to a great many of the commenters here – particularly you, Majestyk!) I can’t tell you how many times I’ve internally responded with “That’s a really good point, I wish I had something worth contributing.”

    Though we are in a time of serious debate and constant acknowledgement of the world we are in, the amount of in-depth discussion on the internet has greatly decreased from where it was, say, ten or eleven years ago. This is not a solely Vern-centric issue. Where did all the bloggers go? What happened to message-board culture? It is strange to me that substantial writing and debate has to be processed through Twitter threads. Where are half of the outlawvern commenters from 2010? I genuinely would like to know what some of those old names think of the world we are in.

    This was occurring even before the world grew so intensely divisive, and I can’t quite figure out why. Was the novelty of the normalization of internet use still there? Has the malaise of information overload hit us to the point where our minds process words better if they are broken up into tiny, organized chunks? Is in-depth conversation a leisure activity?

    I think the politics have helped the Vern-fan discourse to survive when other less-acknowledging communities have not. Though I agree with Majestyk in that complaining about people talking about politics is still talking about politics, I feel that kindly considering the realities of others lives while admitting the truths of one’s own constitutes a political action too. You’ve done that, petrosmt. Your decency and careful wording are by their very nature politicized.

    It is possible to decompress while acknowledging the realities of our times, because kindness and respect alleviate pressure.

    Escapism isn’t by nature wrong, but sometimes when you try to escape during intense times you go and rent Garfield: The Asshole Cat and it’s weird, you know? And then you gotta tell people about it. The politics have a way of seeping in.

    Anyway, petrosmt, I’ll get the conversation started and we can go from there. What’s your favorite movie, and why?

  65. petrosmt – Thank you for stating that in a respectful way instead of the insulting way people have said it to me over the years. As I have always told those people, I will always be interested in the politics of movies, and the connections between the movies (including old ones) and our lives at the time we watch them. I specifically got obsessed with Seagal because of ON DEADLY GROUND and political themes I noticed in his other movies. I sometimes use movies for escape too, but more often I use them like OMEGA MAN and DAY OF THE DEAD – as ways to process what we’re going through. My recent pieces on those two could only be written during this pandemic, and those are the pieces I’ve been most excited about recently.

    I think The Summer of 1985 series *is* a form of escapism for me, but when these 35 year old movies turn out to be very relevant to today (like DAY OF THE DEAD) I’m going to focus on that, because it’s important to me. I sometimes write reviews that are all just silliness, but I prefer having some thoughtfulness in there. I aspire to both.

    As you noted, we are in a really volatile and transformative period in the U.S., and this stuff is on my mind, so I bring it up when I feel it’s relevant. And I think it’s fair to say that this is a group of people who like to talk to each other, and these sorts of things are on some of their minds also, so it just works out.

    That said, the issue with THE OLD GUARD was kind of an aside that I felt a responsibility to bring up as a lifelong anti-war person who has allowed myself to succumb to some of the glorification of militarism in the movies I like. So I too was more excited about the parts of the discussion focusing on other aspects of the movie. I would be absolutely delighted if you popped in with your strictly-movie-oriented points about the story or the choreography or “the MOVIE DEBATE,” as you put it. Honestly I’m relieved whenever that happens. So please do.

  66. I too would like to give credit to petrosmt for being civil about all this. I hope I responded in kind. I know I write hard and often come off harsher than I intend. I really would appreciate more discussion of this movie, which I seem to have enjoyed more than most, so if petrosmt or anyone else feels like dipping back into it, I’d be amenable.

  67. First of all thank you all who responded for not outright attacking me but in a way “debating” me. Majestic I have read numerous posts from you so I know I can expect a more passionate response!

    Since this is the conversation I started and you guys Vern included chimed in, let me clarify IF I can.

    I am VERY political myself, world politics and off course my country’s included. I read a LOT about US politics, try to see some late night US hosts daily to get some “news” with a little humor in them (I think Hasan Minhaj on Netflix breaks down very well his subjects even for people like me who don’t live there).

    Up until now that side of my reading / viewing did not “blend” with my movie fixation / love and my reading / viewing upon that.

    For a few months now not just here but on ALL the sites I frequent, a sociopolitical “angle” has started to pop up on every article / every review / every column and comment section. It has started in general to rub me the wrong way because I feel that after a certain point, it became a “chicken and the egg” situation where the journalist / blogger etc sees the way people politicize in the comments and starts to try and find the social/political angle on anything and everything because it’s the new “trend”.
    I TOTALLY EXCLUDE our host here from such motives but just wanted to tell you how I experience my everyday reading up on movies changing dramatically and veering off to an endless sociopolitical debate EVERYWHERE.
    Yes, sometimes something inspires or provokes us to go in other discussions of race / police / politics and social issues. I understand that.
    Sometimes it’s also just an action movie. Just saying.

    Seems there is no middle ground for some time now and no matter where a discourse starts, it ultimately becomes a sociopolitical study of some sort apropos of even the movie discused some times.

    And Majestic I understand that by having 2 posts myself talking about this I’m essentially part of it.

    But it’s really how I FEEL and I see you all as my peers and this as our forum. Surely many of you guys will remember that “back in the day” our host here or somewhere else would at one point say “guys I see you really need to talk about these specific things, I’m making a thread to discuss (insert sociopolitical debate here)” to try and make a place for thoughtful discussion on these VERY serious problems of our society.
    Right now what I see happening is almost EVERY article becoming something else in the comments section.

    I won’t talk about this again and I thank you once more for letting me express my frustration even if you don’t sympathize at all.

  68. I don’t think it’s that we don’t sympathize. These times are tough on everyone with a conscience of any kind. I’d imagine all of us would prefer a world where the political scene isn’t so insane that we feel like we can’t take our eyes off of it for a second. But that’s not our world, and I imagine a lot of us survive through some balance of escapism and venting. What’s great about this sight is, you can do both here. You can read all these great filmatistical insights and hilarious jokes from our host and all the commenters, AND you can get into a political discussion with people who aren’t going to haul off and call you a monster (or worse, a Republican) at the first sign of disagreement. So just remember that when what you’re reading is bumming you out, it’s probably also making someone else feel a little less alone. I really do hope getting this off your chest made you feel a little better, and I think I speak for us all when I say that we won’t hold you to your promise not to express yourself on this matter again . I’ve used this community as a sounding board/free therapist more times than I can count and always gotten positive feedback and support. (Well, not always. But mostly always.) I’m sure few begrudge you bring it up if this issue or any other troubles you in the future.

  69. I agree with you petrosmt, turning every discussion about everything, not just here but everywhere, into some big political thing is really getting old. Sometimes, sure. It comes naturally. But usually you get people and all they want to do is talk politics so they have to throw it in no matter what. They’re on Twitter fucking 24/77 and reading the news and just can’t think about anything else.

    Oh shit, I totally missed Joe’s last comment…Joe if you’re still reading this thread, Gangs of London was pretty great. Storywise it could maybe have been a wee bit better, there’s a twist that I HATED and it comes early. But there are fights in there that are some of the best on tv, better than Banshee, which until now was tops. But there’s a fight with the lead character and a guy with an axe that I thought was fantastic, they’re doing some really unique stuff there.

    And there’s one episode in particular, directed by Gareth Evans himself, that I’d put on par with The Raid. It gets THAT crazy and intense. Not so much in terms of hand to hand combat, but the overall meatgrinder nonstop feel of it. The first half is slow but even still, every scene has some cool suspense in it, then it goes apeshit. Totally recommended.

  70. I’m sick and tired of talking about politics but I think this is a good place to read political views because of how civil everybody is.

  71. Muh- That’s a big claim for Gangs of London, since the fights on Banshee were *fucking insane*. I still occasionally just binge as many as I can on youtube, so I’ll have to check it out!

  72. I am so hyped for Gangs of London to air in the US. Not sure when it’ll happen; supposedly it will be on AMC at some point?

  73. Vern is my favorite reviewer and its a pleasure reading you all here debate movies.

    I am from Singapore, so i try to stay out of the political discussions here for the most part.

  74. I saw Gangs on some British site where I got a one month subscription. Totally forget what it is though.

    Kurgan, Banshee DID have some great fights, I think London’s hold up. And to be honest I think the choreography of the axe fight outshines anything on Banshee. They’re not all necessarily that great, in fact don’t expect a fight-a-thon. In the whole series there’s maybe only four real hand to hand combat scenes. I was disappointed in that, I would have liked more, but they do a lot of gun stuff. The fights in Gangs are very “Raid” like, where it’s constantly like “oooooh fuck what he just did to that guy.”

    Banshee had the great fight between the MMA dude and Hood, and a few with Chaton the giant villain which were awesome, the obvious great one with the Native American woman and Burton which was so fun, and the one where Carrie and the goon fought for a full fourth of the episode. The rest were all good, but nothing super memorable to me. I HATED the big finale fight, talk about waiting for this shit for four seasons and THAT’S what we got? The whole last season was pretty daggone weak.

  75. Yeah, unfortunately the lead actor broke his hand the previous season and didn’t want to do any big fights anymore. That’s a pretty tough hurdle to overcome when a big part of the appeal of the show is how crazy and brutal the action is and how much of a DGAF-badass the lead is. Combine that with the total misfire of the devil-worshipper serial-killer storyline and you get a weak final season.

    Banshee’s still the best, though. Gangs of London’s, like, four total fights are more impressive in comparison… but otherwise it’s not a comparison. Banshee’s greatand Gangs of London isn’t very good. Banshee is really fun and awesome for three seasons. Gangs of London has an intriguing pilot and one amazing action episode that’s barely related to the rest of the show, but the rest is pretty bad.

  76. GANGS OF LONDON was a huge disappointment. It looked great but it turned out all the awesome stuff in the trailer was just the first episode. It had some good moments but honestly nothing that came close to BANSHEE. I don’t think I even watched the last episode because I didn’t give a shit what happened. And it did not have hot naked chicks every episode like BANSHEE did.

  77. I should also point out that SPARTACUS is way better than both of those shows combined. I’m not sure if everyone already knows that?

  78. Going to bat for GoL here. Am not sure what’s prompting this comparison with Banshee. An operatic, gangland epic about a power play rife with betrayals, double-crosses and counter-moves needs to be like ….an Action drama about a bank robber impersonating a dead small town sheriff who then turns out to be an even better law enforcer??? Warrior would be a far more apt “apples-to-apples” comparison to Banshee.

    The “created by Gareth Evans” tag likely turned out to be a double-edged sword for GoL, heightening expectations of a “The Raid as a TV Show” when what you got was a pretty cool and stylish Mob Drama sprinkled with a few Raid-style beatdowns. Sure it was formulaic, but the acting and action sold it for me and I binge-watched it across 2 evenings.

    My gripes about GoL would be in it’s frequent and mean-spirited wallow in torture sequences (almost an entire episode is dedicated to the systematic brutalizing of a young woman chained in a basement) and the fact that it could have been wrapped up as a 9 episode self-contained mini-series, instead of leaving threads unresolved for a second season.

    And lest my comment above be misconstrued as a dig on Banshee…Au Contraire, I join the chorus here to say Banshee is all kinds of AWESOME!

  79. The Undefeated Gaul

    July 29th, 2020 at 2:15 am

    I haven’t been commenting much on here lately (it’s been limited to the occasional Scott Adkins fan post, pretty much) but I can’t just NOT reply to HALLSY on his very important question.


    Hell yes. In fact I was so happy when I discovered BANSHEE because there was finally a show that came somewhat close to delivering the same type of thrills and entertainment value as SPARTACUS.

    (Controversial opinion though: I thought VENGEANCE was the best season)

  80. You know how petrosmt feels about politics taking over every conversation? That’s how I feel about TV shows.

    Fucking TV shows. Let me save you all the time and sum up what you’re going to say about each and every single one of them: “It started out great but then it started meandering around the middle of the season and I kept watching for some reason but then I lost interest even though I hear it picks up again around season four.” You know this is true because, deep in your hearts, you are all movie people. You’re not TV people. TV people just want something to fill the hours, so they will sit there and watch 45 hours of tedious subplots with occasional nudity and only notice that they’ve wasted their time when it’s all over. Movie people demand results. If you’re not consistently entertaining the balls off a movie person, you can get the fuck out of here. I am a movie person and this is why I know that every time a great movie director makes a TV show, an angel gets its wings and knees broken and is left to die alone in the snow. You guys are better than that. Don’t contribute to the maiming of angels. Watch movies.

  81. KayKay, not saying that GOL is necessarily like Banshee in all ways and tone. The comparison is that it’s a tv show with highly involved gritty action, especially hand to hand combat like Banshee had…and you don’t get a lot of those. Plus they’re both modern day crime shows. So its a very simple comparison I think.

    Kind of like after watching Spartacus I wanted something similar like that, or like Game of Thrones, so I stared Vikings. Clearly none of them are at all the SAME, in that one is a fantasy, one is technically historiacal but treats it like fantasy and it was more stylized, and Vikings is a realistic drama show. But I’m getting the same basic thing from them, and they all have scenes of dude storming the casting with swords and shit.

    I didn’t want to mention how GOL ended because of the people who haven’t watched it. But I agree I thought it was a one off and would have preferred it that way, I think. I do agree by the 9th episode I was like what’s going on, why is this becoming such a drama? I’m here for ass kicking. So it’s not one for the books or anything. But when it’s really kicking, it REALLY kicks, I think.

    Hallsy, as a Banshee fan what did you think of that last season? I thought it was damn rough but at least was looking forward to the inevitable Hood/Burton showdown. And then THAT sucked. The previously unstoppable Burton is suddenly stunned by being punched in the face? Jesus Christ he fought the Native American chick for five minutes after getting stabbed eight times, and a punch in the face was his weakness? It’s pretty bad when the big last fight of the entire show was between two bland Nazis.

    But I do agree out of the three shows, Spartacus is clear and away the winner. That show was AMAZING. And I HATED it the first time I tried to watch it. I made it through the first episode and it was so transparently trying to be 300 with no money cheesy, trying soooo hard to be cool, and it was pathetic. Stopped watching. Someone later told me you gotta get through the first few, and it gets really good. And I had been watching GOT and was between seasons and wanted something like that, so tried again. And again that first episode was hammer SHIT. And the second was still good, but kinda lame. Third…hmmm? And THEN it really kicks in. They had to figure it out, but when the more plotting and scheming and stuff starts, it all clicks. I might have also liked the second season best, that one was really good. But then the third was so great too. I’d have to see it again. But it’s a fantastic show.

  82. Another thing that makes GOL similar to the historical shows…the tone. Banshee is basically serious. Sure it’s fun, but it’s not goofy. GOL is less fun, not a lot of humor, but it’s a serious show too. Just like all of those other shows are similar in that no matter the fantasy or whatever context, they are playing it straight and present things relatively realistically (Spartacus takes it furthest but even then, they have rules).

    But you couldn’t compare GOL or Banshee to, say, that Lethal Weapon tv show…hey watch a wiseceracky goofy formulaic show with simple car chases and fun! They gotta FEEL the same.

  83. The Undefeated Gaul

    July 29th, 2020 at 8:14 am

    I agree to a certain extent. I love a good TV show but they are incredibly rare, certainly ones that remain good all the way through. But it can be nice to just hang for a bit longer with characters you enjoy. You get invested, then get hit that much harder if something happens to them somewhere along the way.

    However, in many, many cases I would greatly prefer a film telling me the same story quicker, with more intensity and a slightly bigger chance of having an actual, well thought out ending. Certainly when it comes to action nothing beats a 90 minute roller coaster that doesn’t force you to wait through 3 x 45 minutes of boring crap before it gets to the point again.

    But it’s also a case of being hungry, and simply having to go where the food is. R-rated action films are in short supply, certainly ones that are filled with the excellent gleeful carnage that we crave. I can only name a handful of movie titles that came out during the last decade that really scratch that particular itch, so who am I to turn down a TV show that provides exactly that – albeit on a lesser scale than a movie would be able to. I’d have rather had a great BANSHEE movie and a couple sequels instead of the tv version, but I’ll take what I can get.

    BTW, certainly there’s plenty of films that are also not consistently entertaining the balls off us. Plenty of action films too that only have one big scene and the rest is wasting your time. You gotta find the good stuff wherever you can find it, even if it’s small nuggets buried in the shit.

  84. Oh, Mr. Majestyk’s comment just popped up here. And to that I say NAY. Majestyk, you are incorrect. And actually your complaint about tv show kind of matches most movies “It started out great but like most movies couldn’t figure out how to do a second act so they thought a lot of uninteresting backstory fill in scenes would get the job done, and then we got to the uninspiring ending.”

    For me, tv is where it’s at now, it’s where the adults go. I mentioned this to a friend and he was shocked because before, I was always the movie guy. “I thought you loved movies?” Yeah, back when fucking DePalma could get financing, or Scorsese could make his epic, or any of these other grand gestures could be made. Now it’s mostly cartoony horseshit. What movies has anyone seen recently that were great, or at least super interesting? There are some for sure.

    But I feel like few movies at the end get to be as satisfying as the ending of Spartacus. Or Sopranos. Or my favorite show, Justified. I just saw maybe one of the best things I’ve ever seen, the writing was always off the charts excellent…Inside Number fucking Nine. You don’t get writing in movies that good that often. And they’ve done it for five seasons now.

    One of the things I always liked best about movies are the few scenes you might get before the story really kicked off…where characters are able to talk about whatever bullshit was going on that didn’t have to do with the plot, or are just doing something interesting with their day. Tarantino has figured out a way to make entire movies out of those scenes. And I feel like tv allows more time to stretch and get into the stuff I enjoy, that’s not just trying to connect the plot.

    Plus movies might do some cool stuff, but I don’t think I have seen a fight scene as fun and crazy as the one in Banshee where Burton fights the woman with a hatchet in and out of a car…not since then. There have been some great fight scenes, but not as inventive. There were actually some very cool ones in the Preacher tv show.

  85. I just watched one of the lamest most fucking boring movies in a long time last night…Disappearance at Clifton Hill. Looked like it had all the shit I might enjoy…a solitary person in a weird location in a thriller, I love that kind of shit. Instead I got boilerplate mystery nonsense that was so concerned about getting from point to point they forgot any mood or even a thrill or suspense.

  86. I agree, but if a movie isn’t consistently entertaining, I then don’t watch the next seven sequels in the hope that eventually it’ll pick up again. When a movie drops the ball, it’s over soon. A TV show dropping the ball has the potential to leave you hanging indefinitely. I just don’t have time for that. And I literally have nothing but time.

    I think the only TV action scene I was ever even moderately impressed by was that one hallway scene in DAREDEVIL, and that show shit itself down its own leg pretty soon after that so in retrospect a single scene in one episode was not worth the time investment. I think those Netflix Marvel shows were what fully killed my interest in TV. If they can’t consistently make R-rated superheroes on the streets of New York entertaining then there’s really not much hope for the medium in its current form. It was probably when a good chunk of the PUNISHER pilot was given over to two sophisticated lady lawyers having cocktails and discussing their careers when I decided life is too goddamn short to sit through shit like that when all you want to see is an angry dude shoot some people. Granted, I haven’t seen the shows you guys have mentioned but it sure seems like they fit the pattern I’m describing. I just don’t have the patience to sift the gold from the shit over that many viewing hours.

  87. Just to be clear, I was agreeing with Gaul, not Muh.

  88. If we’re talking about great fight scenes in TV shows, I think the Daredevil Netflix show deserves a mention. Excellent acting from all the lead actors and amazing fight choreography combined with excellent stories and the introduction of comic book characters from the larger Marvel world that were done very, very well (Jon Bernthal as the Punisher was incredible).

    As far as TV shows vs. movies, I like how The Undefeated Gaul put it – we spend time with a show because there’s something we like about it (sorry Gaul, I’m paraphrasing and probably badly) and we enjoy it, warts and all. Movies and TV shows are equally entertaining to me for many reasons, and I believe that there’s something for everyone. To each their own, I’m not going to try and convert anyone to change their views beyond recommending the stuff I really like.

  89. Your problem M is you watched a tv superhero show and expected it to be worth a shit. You chose wrong.

    I didn’t even think the fights in Daredevil was all that. That one hallway fight was oookay, but not really that interesting.

    I mean saying sometimes there’s stuff not that interesting in tv shows is right, but it’s not like I watch John Wick 3 and think man this story is so interesting and good, I’m just waiting for them to start fighting again.

    TV now is the sort of adult, middle ground movies you used to get and those were my favroties. No one’s going to finance a movie like U-Turn today. But you can get stuff similar on tv. So, I go to tv. I mean what action movies out there are there, mostly more superhero crap or whatever Netflix is making.

  90. Are we not allowed to enjoy movies and TV equally? I don’t have a preference…I get just as excited for the new season of LAST CHANCE U as I do for the next JOHN WICK.

    The shows we’re talking about here are the best of the best, IMO (except GANGS OF LONDON) and do not really have any issues with pacing or filler. On paper, SPARTACUS should not have been able to maintain its greatness for more than one season but it just got better and better. I never wanted that show to end. And even though the ending was pre-determined part of me really wanted them to do a Tarantino and rewrite history. It’s definitely one of my favourite shows ever.

    There are definitely some shows that drag, and unfortunately, once I start watching I usually feel the need to stick it out at least until the end of that season. So I do end up wasting a lot of time. I mean, I spent nearly 8 hours over the last week finally finishing season 1 of TWIN PEAKS even though I found it excruciating….and I haven’t fully written off season 2 yet.

    Muh – it’s been a while so I don’t really remember season 4 of BANSHEE but I don’t remember having any issue with it. Was that the season where they barricade themselves in the police station and are under siege from the Natives? I liked that show all the way through.

    Also Muh – I think we think alike but I strongly disagree with this:

    “Plus movies might do some cool stuff, but I don’t think I have seen a fight scene as fun and crazy as the one in Banshee where Burton fights the woman with a hatchet in and out of a car…not since then”

    See: RAID 2 Kitchen fight, all of THE NIGHT COMES FOR US, RAID 2 car fight, etc. Don’t get me wrong – that Banshee fight is fucking amazing!

  91. MUH, I get your point, but for me Banshee and GoL was tonally different. Banshee seems to exist in this Twillight Zone Alternate Reality Plane, this mythical town that has BOTH a thriving Amish AND Native American community and which exudes such a malevolent aura it attracts Violent Bikers, Deadly Cults, Meth Dealing Crackers, Satan Worshippers, Neo-Nazis, Serial Killers AND Colombian Drug Lords?

    GoL on the other hand seems more rooted in the real albeit exaggerated London-set Gangland Arena which showcases Mob Bosses of seemingly every stripe ( English, Irish, Turkish, Albanian, Nigerian, Pakistani, Pikeys) and tonally far grimmer.

    The amazing fights are probably the only connective tissue I can see between the 2 shows.

    But yeah, I’d binge watch all of Banshee in a heartbeat, but only selected episodes of GoL

  92. Haha jeeze Mr. M really swinging hard for something other people enjoy that he doesn’t.

  93. BANSHEE always sounded interesting to me but I never had any way of seeing it, but SPARTACUS did not look up my alley. It looked like 10% action, 5% tits, 85% palace intrigue. And I fucking hate palace intrigue. You know what I’m talking about. White people in robes with fake Shakespeare accents backstabbing each other and making alliances and seducing each other and holy fuck just fucking stab someone for Christ’s sake. That shit feels like reading the minutes of a board meeting concerning the corporate takeover of a company that doesn’t exist. Movies tend to know those scenes are dull (and so does TV, which is why GAME OF THRONES invented the term “sexposition” in order to alleviate the boredom with gratuitous nudity) so they gloss over it. TV makes you sit through every goddamn PowerPoint presentation.

  94. SPARTACUS is definitely the show I’ve been most surprised by how much I initially disliked it vs how highly it rose in my estimation. It’s just so fucking good. I started rewatching BANSHEE last night after this conversation but now maybe I’ll need to restart SPARTACUS too (and finally drag my wife along for the ride maybe).

  95. Kurgan: I never said anybody was wrong. I never do that. I state my own tastes. I am interested in hearing about yours whether I share them or not. I’m having a great time right now because I do not require anyone to agree with me. My disagreeing with your opinions does not mean you are attacking you personally or devaluing those opinions. It just means we get to have an actual conversation with some meat on it. If we only spoke up when we agreed with each other, this place would get pretty fucking boring real quick. So what you call me shitting on what others enjoy, I call me saving the discussion from turning into a circle jerk.

  96. Haha my man I didn’t say you were wrong. I just noted that you were swinging hard at something other people were talking about because they enjoyed it. In fact, you actually admonished everyone for watching tv instead of movies, saying we should be “better than that”.

    Even so, I don’t feel attacked! I thought it was genuinely funny how venomous that first post was, and of course you’re welcome to your opinions, but please don’t assume I’m mad just because *you* put the pedal to the metal about tv.

    BANSHEE is pretty fun, I think you’d like it!

  97. The Undefeated Gaul

    July 29th, 2020 at 10:00 am

    Gotta admit, Mr M – SPARTACUS does have plenty of what could be considered ” palace intrigue,” and while I could try to convince you it’s done in a really fun way, if you really don’t like that sort of stuff it may be too big an obstacle for you to enjoy it.

    That said, there’s so much else to appreciate. I could write a fucking essay about it (I actually tried twice to do just that in this post, but I keep deleting it because I feel my words aren’t doing it proper justice). Anyways, it’s my favorite show of all time, a fact supported by my username on here and a treasured photo of me and Manu Bennett in the top drawer of my desk.

  98. BANSHEE is definitely not what you would expect from Academy Award(tm) winning writer of AMERICAN BEAUTY. People being blown up with rocket launchers like it is a normal thing to do. Good show and it surprised the hell out of me how pulpy it was.

    I have been guilty of spending time with the recent HBO prestige series PERRY MOPEY, and it is quite the opposite to previously mentionedshow. Beautifully show, but when you look closer , storytelling seem secondary to moping and stuff justnot happening.

  99. Sorry, man. I’d hoped that including the line “Don’t contribute to the maiming of angels” might indicate that I was being somewhat facetious. Watch whatever you want. It’s your eyeballs. But don’t come crying to me when Scott Adkins’ next project is a 13-episode limited series where he gets into two fights and most of the episodes are about his costars getting over a divorce.

  100. Hallsy, I do enjoy movies and tv equally, BUT not necessarily modern movies as equally. I’ve just seen way more shows I like and get more excited for some of these shows than I do for movies coming up. Also usually with an action movie, they all follow the same basic template because in two hours no one’s trying to do anything that interesting storywise. So you can sit there and they essentially coddle you. A tv show though…maybe it works or not, but because it’s longer, by nature that makes it more unpredictible. Who knows where it’s going (unless you’re watching some Marvel crap, then you know for sure). But yeah I was kind of hoping they’re pull a Tarantino with Spartacus too, they easily could have done it…made the Romans THINK he died but he really doesn’t. But no, they stuck to their guns and fucking killed everyone, and some of them hurt (like having several of the characters be crucified). BUT, at the same time they let a bunch of the good characters survive and it still felt overall like kind of a win. What a damn great show.

    But, I must be pedantic and mention that The Raid 2 came AFTER Banshee season 3 so that does not count. Night that Comes for Us was good, but for me that was just really cool fighting, but not doing anything really neat filmmaking-wise which puts it more in the category I’m talking about. The Raid 2 DOES have super cool filmmaking. Night is just mostly meat and potatos…awesome stuff but filmed pretty normal. Plus the one thing that group absolutely SUCKS at is group fights. They’ve never figured out a way to do a real group fight or even a two on one. Even in the end of The Raid for the big 2 on 1, it’s mostly one guy gets knocked down so it can be a 1 on 1, and the second HE gets knocked down the other pops back up. Repeat for five minutes. In Night, you have a group fight where the hero is taking thirty seconds with his back turned to an armed group and no one hits him in the back with a pipe? Bad, bad. Jackie Chan was a master at this kind of thing.

    KayKay I do agree that Banshee and London aren’t really THAT similar, but they are enough that if you’re saying “you liked this action show, then you might like this one” is true.

    Mr Majestyk you have clearly not watched GOT because sexpositon maybe was used for 5% of the intrigue, but all of the glorious rest you got to see. But I love intrigue, it’s kind of why I like film noir and that kind of thing. Backstabbing and all of that is fun.

  101. You’re right. I think I got six episodes in before running screaming into the night. That’s three and a half more than MAD MEN though so not bad, all things considering.

  102. If Scott Adkins made a tv show as good as Avengement I’d watch the shit out of that. Frankly in his movies a lot of times the fights are the most boring part to me. It’s not even that they’re bad, but it’s not like they’re particuarily good either. They’re basically “dad” movies, where you lazy father who wants to watch fighting but not be challenged might check them out and watch them and never have to think a single thought. My dad own all of Statham’s movies, and he still gets confused by the plots sometimes…I’m like how the fuck are you confused by these stories dude?

    Avengement was straight up GOOD. Not even has a low budget movie, or a b-movie, or any of that. Just a really good movie and Adkins is quite a performer, I don’t know why they were so nervous about having him act more, he’s always clearly been talented.

  103. I agree that the Adkinsography has only improved since they started letting him use his conversational skills more. But I still wouldn’t want to watch him talk for hours in between fights. I want all the stuff you say you find in TV, but I want it done at a movie pace. The relative lack of time constraints on TV (particularly in the binge-watch era) leads to some very bad writing habits, in my opinion. It’s the limitations of standard film running time that both leads to formula AND forces interesting storytelling techniques. I’m not interested in stories that feel like they have all the time in the world to get to the point. I got a friend who thinks she needs to stick in every last detail of evert anecdote she tells, and by the time she gets to the moral of the story, I find I just don’t give a shit anymore. The destination was not worth the journey. That’s how I feel about TV. You can do all the drama you want, but do it like there’s a giant boulder rolling right behind you.

  104. I love anecdotes though as long as the details are interesting. Scorsese doesn’t make a movie like the plot matters, also Tarantino. Mel Gibson as a director does that too. And that’s the kind of stuff I revisit. Tarantino’s been talking about doing a miniseries and I would LOVE that.

    I do think some of these shows could be shorter. I was surprised at the brisk pace of Chernobyl, but maybe shouldn’t have because it was the first show done by a movie guy. And origianlly it was supposed to be six episodes, and when doing it the guy said no, it should only be five. And that is correct. Do the right length. Some of these shows they mandate 13 episodes or whatever and on the more generic ones like Daredevil which is doing long form stories, that’s a real issue. Justified was always great because they’d put in more one-off stories that get resolved by the end of the episode. Sopranos too. That;s becoming a lost art with tv and I think it’s important. Sopranos was actually excellent at telling three types of stories…they had their long form story that was the entire show, then they’d have the season arcs that always had some sort of resolution, then they were great at telling a particular story every single episode that had it’s own theme and resolution. And THAT’S how you make a master show.

  105. I’m definitely not gonna watch Madmen that’s for sure. I don’t care what anyone says about it.

  106. On an unrelated note, I finished the De Palma novel ARE SNAKES NECESSARY and unfortunatly it was a pretty bad book. The best parts of it, which I can’t talk about, but has to do with Hitchcock and VERTIGO had worked much better in film on a metalevel.And the writing felt like just a reworking of a screenplay. The rhytm to it took me out of the story, which took 130 pages before the plot started. And in a slim 230 pages book that isway too long.

  107. DePalma’s a sad case. After Snake Eyes, it’s been downhill. He just lost it. A shame, that guy, even when making a movie one might call bad, like Raising Cain, was still fucking great.

  108. Honestly I feel like most of the still-living New Hollywood directors haven’t been able to sustain an interesting career into the 2000s. Spielberg and Scorcese are probably about it. Hell, even my main man John Carpenter tossed out a couple stinkers before calling it a day.

  109. Yeah…honestly with a guy like DePalma it’s not a surprise. When you build a career out of more or less imitating another director and being a stylist, eventually your style gets old. And Carpenter, as being a horror guy, didn’t really have room to stretch…and he wasn’t adept enough to transition and make regular action stuff cause he tried to get too clever with it. Spielberg is just a good old fashioned director who seems interested in a a number of subjects so he can keep going, and Scorsese also changes things up a lot. He may be knows as a mobster director in a lot of ways but hell, he’s also a religious epic filmmaker. I mean who makes three of them?

    And unlike DePalma and Carpenter, they don’t write their own material, at least not outright. If anything it’s an adaptation. But if you’re a writer/director and REALLY like one kind of thing, it gets old.

    I love Tarantino but unless he changed his style, he may very well have gotten old had he plans to go past 10 movies. But maybe not, I thought Hollywood was pretty great. But I didn’t love the ending, that felt like Tarantino leaning too much on his old bullshit.

  110. Muh: “I love anecdotes though as long as the details are interesting.” Bam. Exactly. Distinguishing between interesting details and dead weight is the very essence of storytelling. Knowing what to leave out is as important, if not more so, than knowing what to put in. I used to rewrite and edit Letters To Penthouse style porn for a living, and my main job was to cut out all the incidental crap the original writers threw in because they were getting paid by the word. But even in a stroke story, a certain amount of setup is necessary. You couldn’t just jump right to the fucking. Readers want to know who’s fucking, why they’re fucking, where they’re fucking, etc. You had to show discretion in what you chopped out or the reader wouldn’t be able to get invested enough in the reality of story to jerk off to it. I had a colleague who had no idea what was a crucial detail and what was filler, so his stuff would have pages of blow-by-blow descriptions of parking and meal prep before the fucking even started, while mine would take it as a given that the reader would get the gist of the situation with just a few telling lines. The difference was confidence. He lacked it, so he treated the reader like an idiot and second-guessed every step. I do not lack for confidence and I respected the reader’s intelligence enough to know he’d keep up if I elided over the banalities. That job basically sapped my will to live but it taught me a lot about how to just get the fuck on to the part of the story you can jerk off to (metaphorically).

    Good conversation, guys. I hope I wasn’t too much of an asshole about it.

  111. I always remember the Elmore Leonard line (which I’m paraphrasing), where he said his goal was to cut out all the stuff readers skip.

  112. This is something Lawrence Block excels at in his Scudder novels. Anecdotes. They fully realize the world for the reader without taking too much time. One of my favourites is the one about a guy whose job was to start a mob boss car. He went to the car, started it, went home. That is it. He later complained that nothing much happened on his job. Man, it took lessthan a paragraph to convey that anecdote and yet it is funny as hell.

  113. Obviously DePalma is not at the height of his game, I can’t agree that it was downhill after SNAKE EYES, since FEMME FATALE is one of my favorite movies by him. I also liked PASSION, so it’s not like he’s out to pasture. Still need to see DOMINO, though.

  114. I would think the dude whose job is to start a mob bosses car would be pretty grateful for every uneventful day at work!

  115. That is the pun of the whole anecdote,you jerk!

  116. Sorry,goofball would be more accurate.

  117. I watch a lot of TV and enjoy most of it. I do admit to putting on stuff sometimes with the idea of only half paying attention or something I don’t need to concentrate on too hard. But I think the Netflix Marvel model set the tone for a lot of the streaming TV and has done it a disservice. They spend way too much time on characters and side stories that are stupid and no one in their right mind should care about. I was really excited for Carnival Row. I wanted a steampunk mystery romance with a hint of world building and politics. Instead I got a steampunk political world building with a hint of mystery romance. They seriously sidelined the main character for multiple episodes while dealing with a side character’s crisis in socio/political faith. Doing a long, contained story has good points and bad points, but I really miss the monster of the week and bottle episodes. Those are usually the ones that people loved and wanted to revisit back in the old days. They let the characters shine. They let the writers step out of the comfort zone and maybe try something different. I get that now they have the story that keeps growing and keeps putting up cliffhangers to keep an audience interested, but that’s kind of insulting to viewers, too. You don’t need to keep dangling the hook to keep us coming back if you have interesting characters and good writing. But then again, people can be morons, so what do I know?

  118. DOMINO does not hang together well, and the middle is full of middling crap not worth DePalma’s talents, but it’s got two bang-up suspense set-pieces, one of which culminates in a precisely timed kick to the nuts, so I’d say he’s still got it where it counts.

  119. The finale of ARE SNAKES NECESSARY is somewhat of a literary fizzle of a De Palma climax.It would have worked better in cinematic terms..

  120. “Distinguishing between interesting details and dead weight is the very essence of storytelling.” I am a natural born story teller. When I was little I thought show and tell was show OR tell and if I didn’t bring something that day, I’d just get up and tell a story. My parents were less than thrilled with some of the family stories I shared. One of my best friends used to be the worst at listening to stories. She’d interrupt to finish your sentence or thought if you even paused for a second. It was because her father is one of the worst story tellers. He digresses, he takes long ass pauses, he gets distracted. She’s actually improved at not jumping on your story, but it’s a real boner-killer when trying to tell a story.

  121. Vern I’ll have to check out Femme Fatale again. I remember being pretty so-so on it. I never watched Passion, but I see it’s on Tubi so maybe I’ll check that out tonight if I don’t have to take a bunch of phone calls.

    Kurgan I always liked that Leonard line, but it’s interesting because in Tarantino’s version of a Leonard, he DOES put in a bunch of stuff that would probably be cut out of a regular movie. And that’s the best stuff, when the plot kicks in hard you can tell, and to me it gets less interesting. Still good, just less interesting.

    You know what though, Game of Thrones actually is a very interesting experiment in what Mr M is talking about. Because I pretty much guarantee if it didn’t have that intrigue and details, it wouldn’t not have been a success, at least not like it was. When I first heard about it I figured it was going to be some dull Lord of the Rings shit, which is okay sometimes to watch once but I don’t much care for fantasy stuff, especailly not the “ever so perfect hero vs heartless villains.” I was like who wants to watch that crap. Then I got sucked right the hell in with all of that stuff.

    And THEN, to use Mr. M’s “I just want to jerk off” example, well you got it in that least season, where they packed a season and a half’s events into six episodes. And THAT’S the season people turned on. And it’s true, everything was undercooked. It just wanted to go from setpiece to setpiece, we don’t need character reasons for it, we just want to see the things blow up! My dick is in my hand! And it just seemed half-assed and rushed. The creators of the show were Hollywood guys who were only really doing the detail work because they had the books to guide them, but once they got off they went right to their roots and fucked their show up. They stopped putting in the work.

  122. I’m probably setting myself up for redicule but I really liked Into the Badlands. Pretty fun story with a lot of old school wire Fu fights. Nick Frost also does martial arts and he is awesome in it.

  123. I’d say you’re setting yourself up for redicule by misspelling redicule, but then I commit so many typos I woodn’t have a leg two stand one.

    Sometimes luxuriating in something and giving it time to world-build itself and pay-off can be very satisfying to me. STRANGER THINGS, BARRY, and the Netflix MANIAC series are few examples. I like something lean and aerodynamic that just gets in there and gets er done (a la CRAWL), but I think longer-form storytelling can work well, it’s just a different beast.

  124. Look, I’m not trying to bag on De Palma (PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE is an all-timer!), but FEMME FATALE is 20 years old at this point- not a great argument for his continued high quality output.

    Anyway, I think the most important thing you can do as a creator is understand the strengths and limitations of whatever medium you’re working in. To keep on the example of Game of Thrones, the earlier seasons of the show were able to avoid a lot of the criticisms of the books -primarily that ol’ George spends too much time talking about what people are wearing or eating- because it’s so easy to get across that kind of visual information quickly onscreen. By contrast, as Muh points out, the later seasons falter because they aren’t able to depend on or really portray the well-expressed thought processes and characterizations that are a lot easier to do in a novel. That’s a real danger when adapting something- you have to understand the bones of the story, how that story works and what’s *essential* to its telling, as well as how to translate those things effectively to another medium. L.A. CONFIDENTIAL is one of the greatest film adaptations of all time, but the movie consists of maybe 25% of the book’s content because both Brian Helgeland and Curtis Hanson had a rock-solid grasp of what works onscreen vs what works on the page.

  125. I watched the first episode of Into the Badlands. I thought it was pretty good. Didn’t really want to commit to the series though, but I figure one of these days I may. Bat apparently I think they get more into fantasy/spiritual stuff later on? I’d be less interested in that, but seeing a workable world set in that milieu is interesting.

    Yeah Kurgan, and the thing is, in the earlier versions of the show they DID do that. You’d think they would have cracked the code. Where they REALLY fucked up was, the last season they fell so hard on the Hollywood horseshit idea of “personal choice.” Oh she got mad so she killed everyone. But no, in the previous seasons you would see the societal pressures put on people that forced them to behave that way. Not that there weren’t plenty of breaks. And the problem is in that last season, which I still did like okay…was they wanted to ditch all the character and storybeats to get to the “good stuff.” But that was never the good stuff with GOT. Okay it WAS, I loved the battle stuff and the fights and killing, but it had to feel like it meant something. And the big Dany break, they had the code, they just rushed it. I think they could have actually solved some of their problems by just adding one single episode, they went right from the giant battle with the zombies to the other castle. They needed one in between. One for cleanup, then I would have ended one where one began…spend a whole epsiode heaping stuff on her and END that episode with the dragon burning up Varys. Then you get a full episode dedicated solely to what she’s going through.

    I do disagree with people who say oh the battle of the dead should have been a full season. Ugh, and done what with it? They’re not even characters, and they never stop. All you could do is have characters lose to them and fall back, but horses get tired where the dead don’t so what exactly would they have done? I was perfectly fine with wrapping that shit up in one big fat battle, which I think is one of the best battles I’ve seen in anything. That was SO fucking good.

  126. I’ve seen exactly one (1) episode of GoT. It was over at a friend’s (oh my God, you guys, do you remember hanging out at friend’s houses?!) and I think it was the season finale of the 2nd to last season and it was so boring. It was exactly like Majestyk says, palace intrigue. At one point I said, I thought this was all sex and violence, but it’s just talking.

  127. I remember…friends.

    Season finales are no good, and only watching a single episode of a show with no context like that is just about pointless. They’re usually about cleaning up the ACTUAL finale (which on GOT was always the second to last episode of the season). And then they’re setting up where things are going. But too bad you didn’t see the previous episode, which at the time had me screaming at the screen because it was so cool. The first half was the setup to a battle, where for once you really kind of felt like what waiting around for a castle sacking must be like, on both sides. And then you get a FUCK YEAH moment where I started yelling, and then you pretty much get a half hour of nonstop carnage and slaughtering with all the gory detail you could want. I didn’t think we’d get awesome battles in the show (in the previous season there were a few but you didn’t get to see them). And then out of all the other battles, it ended up being the LEAST awesome. They just ramped up every time.

    Man, the last time I was with friends, the very last thing we did together, was watching fucking VEROTIKA. How much of a horrible, horrible waste is that? All the other things we could be doing! At least then I said to get that stink out of our eyeballs, let’s watch Eaten Alive since they were all debating for half an hour about what to watch and I was like this is what Danzig wished he made.

  128. My main problem with GOT was how unfocused and overstuffed it got after season 1. At first it basically boiled down to “Sean Bean tries to solve a mystery, while somewhere else Khaleesi goes from timid sex slave to proud leader”, with a bunch of “Here is a quick look at what other characters are doing. It might be important soon!”. Then it turned into episodes, that were basically just short scenes with all the characters. “Here is a scene with Arya, here are 10 minutes with Tyrion, 25 minutes with Khaleesi, a few minutes of Littlefinger, and hey, here is a brand new character, but he won’t appear again for a few more weeks and then he dies, etc” and by season 4 I was out.

    Which admittedly is a pretty unique problem in today’s TV landscape. Usually it’s just “Nothing happens until the shocking cliffhanger at the end of the episode, which will be quickly solved in the next episode, where also nothing happens until the cliffhanger.”

    During the height of the “golden age of television”, I had way too many discussions about why I happily watch “stupid” procedurals like NCIS, PSYCH or CASTLE, while others would geek out over the “cool” and “intelligent” shows like MAD MEN or GOT. The answer was simple: It’s less frustrating. They only have to tell a story for 40 minutes instead of a whole season. And it’s incredible how few of these story arc shows manage to not just not drop in quality, but even stick the landing. SPARTACUS is something that I totally agree on. And of course BREAKING BAD. I wouldn’t put BANSHEE on the same level, but its self aware pulpiness made it watchable, even in its lower points.

    The only story arc shows that I bother to watch these days are THE BLACKLIST, which has the advantage that even the most arc heavy episodes work by the “villain of the week” concept, BETTER CALL SAUL, which so far comes really close to BREAKING BAD’s quality and I recently started MAYANS M.C., because I remembered how much fun I had in the Shakespearean pulp world of SONS OF ANARCHY.

  129. Loved!!! FEMME FATALE!!! Deliciously underrated DePalma. It’s kind of like THE GAME meets De Palma meets BOURNE meets, I don’t know, US WEEKLY. But De Palma and THE GAME are the main ingredients. The other stuff is more subjective, just vibe and feel. I’m not 100% sure what the term Euro-trash is supposed to me, but if there is such a thing, this is it. And that’s a compliment.

  130. “supposed to mean” !! damnit. Don’t ridikule me. Mean?

  131. The sidelining of Jon Snow, the dumbing down of Tyrion, the swift dispatch of Varys, a 1 episode conclusion to an arc that’s been built up for 7 seasons, LAMEST DEATH EVER for the show’s ONE remaining effective villain and culminating in the series’ single most useless character ever winning the Grand Prize.

    Season 8 dropped the ball so hard, it crashed through 10 floors, created a meteor-sized crater in the streets and kept going till it reached the Earth’s Core.

    The cracks started showing in Season 6 once they ran out of books to adapt, and contrary to what fans of the novels like to claim, I believe if George RR Martin ever finished the bloody Saga of Fire and Ice, they wouldn’t end in any significantly different way to the show. Just that D&D gave you the Cliff’s Notes version of it, rushing the ending like a Virgin on his wedding night, which anyone who’s ever done that Horizontal Tango would tell you, yields satisfaction neither to the Rider nor the Ridden.

  132. As for the Majestyk Lament on TV, can’t add anything more significant by way of a response than what the Gaul & MUH have articulated.

    As a die-hard junkie for Hard-R Action & Hand-2-Hand combat, and seeing Cinematic Franchises like the F&F series increasingly substitute lame CGI for genuine stunts and apart from the odd gems like John Wick and Fury Road, pickings are super slim. Yeah I can enjoy selected MCU or X-Men flicks but a CGI Hulk flinging a CGI Abomination across 3 streets and 4 buildings isn’t exactly my idea of Action (Diverting Spectacle is a more apt term I’d use).

    DTV has been a great alternative, but let’s be honest, there’s a ton of crap here as well unless you’re talking about top-tier Isaac Florentine or Jesse V Johnson and certain selected efforts by James Nunn, William Kaufman and further down the totem pole, Ernie Barbarash, Roel Reine and the rare Keoni Waxman flick when he’s not busy churning out Seagal crap.

    Then you look East…and outside of the Ip Man flicks, Donnie is pretty hit and miss, and the infusion of Mainland China money also means I need to swallow a disgusting amount of Chinese Propaganda along with my kung fu. Even Dante Lam’s (who’s awesome at staging action) recent Operation Red Sea needed to come packaged in some gag-inducing Mainland China jingoism.

    Korean Cinema? Sure there’s some great stuff, but a lot of the action comes packaged with elements of Melancholy, Sorrow, Regret, Tragedy and outright Horror which I need to be in a certain frame of mind to watch.

    Thai/Indonesian/Vietnamese?Sure…still waiting on the next Raid, Ong-Bak,Jailbreak,Rebel & Clash though.

    Bollywood? Bitch please, am being serious.

    And then…TV just kinda exploded with the type of awesome action you craved in your cinematic diet!

    So, what I’m saying is, when I crave an action fix and don’t get enough of the Good Shit from my preferred source, I’m open to alternatives, especially when I get a bad case of the shakes.

    So, after watching Raids 1-2, Ong Baks 1-3, John Wicks 1-3, Ip Mans 1-4, the Adkins/Florentine, Adkins/Jess Johnson collabs, Blood&Bone, early Cynthia, Jackie and Jet for the 575th time and even having exhausted the back-catalogue of Jeff Wincott, if someone comes and tells me:

    – Hey check out this show about a robber masquerading as a Sheriff which features some pretty jaw-droppingly good fights, I’m like why the hell not?

    – Hey check out a couple of Netflix’s Marvel shows, each season is a tad long, but it’s low on CGI and high on amazing fights and action, I’m like, bring it on.

    – Hey, I know you’re an Iko fan and his Stateside efforts like Mile 22 and Stuber left your soul crushed and weakened, but there’s this show called Wu Assassins, not really that good, but features some great fights not Peter Berg-edited into incoherence, I’m like, ok will give it a chance.

    Am first and foremost a MOVIE fan, but Jesus is there a fuckton of flotsam on the Cinematic Sea currently.

  133. “But I still wouldn’t want to watch him talk for hours in between fights”


    Adkins has a pleasant baritone and he’s English, and so can spew reams of dialogue with effortless ease. But I’m not about to trade an Adkins roundhouse kick to the head for an Adkins Monologue.

    Avengement was awesome not because it was Adkins in a pub spinning a yarn, but because said yarn was frequently punctuated by a jagged bottle edge to the throat and a shotgun blast to the head.

  134. Skani, I thought I spelled it wrong. Lol

  135. Stern — haha. I keep telling myself that I’ll get better / more disciplined at proofing, but I’m slowly moving into the acceptance phase. SAD!

  136. The Elmore Leonard line was about prose, not about plot. It’s about skipping long paragraphs that describe the weather or that get too into the character’s head. His stories have lots of digressions and characters spend a lot of time talking (entertainingly) about nonsense, but dialogue isn’t something readers skip.

  137. That’s what I love about hard-boiled prose. By being efficient about descriptions and setup, it leaves room for entertaining digressions and lengthy conversations. Tarantino’s style wouldn’t work if he spent as much time on the plot shoe leather as he did on his dialogue. He cuts all the fat out of his plotting so he can focus his story real estate on the stuff that matters to him.

  138. How To Structure A Fight Scene

    How to Structure a Fight Scene | Video Essay

    Accented Cinema - Episode 39 We loosely talked about how to film a sword fight before, but how to WRITE a fight scene is an entirely different story. Today, ...

  139. I can’t really get into those procedural shows, they’re just so boring and generic. I mean a little bit of them can be all right but after that, eh. At first I was slightly turned off by Justified because it was doing case of the week for awhile. Now the plus side is it’s written by top writers doing great character work, not coming up with the usual stinger zinger for the cop to say before the title credits of Law and Order. “This is going to be a long hard one.”

    Okay that’s NOT from Law and Order, name that movie!

    But Justified kind of splits the difference. And later managed to integrate their cases of the week better into the overall storyline so they didn’t feel so completely out of place. And that show can be dangerous, a few times I wanted to watch some of it but didn’t want to just watch a random episode in the middle somewhere, so I was like well I can watch the first ones since they’re so self contained. The danger is it’s SO good I want to keep watching and THEN I hit the arc and it’s like goddammit now I want to finish this damn season.

    KayKay I totally agree that in GOT they did the ending the way Martin’s going to. But they botched it in their rush to just do the cliff’s notes and have shit blow up. Martin will do the same thing but put in the work to make it all feel like it fits. At first I thought those guys were geniuses because they made a lot of the correct changes to the story, switching characters around, changing some of the fates, etc. Then I hit the end and I was like “fucking hacks.” I actually did like the death of the big villain though. I know a lot of people didn’t, and even she didn’t and Arya didn’t and it seemed like they wanted to have some kind of big cliche tower fight, but I thought she got what she deserved…everything crumbling down around her and it’s basically her fault, and she knows it. That’s poetic justice, not just Arya slitting the throat of yet another main villain, whcih we had already seen several times over.

    I do disagree about Avengement to an extent. Yes it’s good because it has some action to break it up, but at the same time none of the action is particuarily interesting or memorable. It’s just basic punching. Which is fiiine. But not even basic punching done in a cool or exciting way, it was like “well this is a DTV movie so we’d better have some punching in it.” But in that movie I thought the fights were basically something to just kind of get through because I was enjoying the rest a lot. I WOULD watch a show where he talks for an hour before fighting. Put him in some kind of Banshee style show? Hell yeah I’d watch that.

  140. JTS you are correct about Leonard, but he got brought up more or less when we were talking specifically about digressions and stuff like the scheming in GOT, which I’m certain is what people liked about the show. Once they cut down on the schemes and the details is when everyone said the show took a big shit. That is what MADE the show.

    Oh and ps, I just watched Passion by DePalma. It was…fine I guess. But definitely felt like Old Man DePalma going through the motions. It took FOREVER to get anywhere sort of interesting, then it got pretty good, then it was like…I feel like this could have been done better. It was like it was trying to be as batshit insane as Raising Cain and it wasn’t, but should have been.

  141. Well, back on the topic at hand, I finally sat down and watched this whole thing and wound up really enjoying it. A little bit clunky in some places maybe, but overall pretty satisfactory. My favorite part was the chemistry between the various immortals and particularly the way the fights were choreographed when they were all together. I enjoyed how they would just fling guys into the paths of each other’s weapons and no-look handoff reloads and stuff. Really got across the idea that they were a team honed through hundreds of years of experience with each other. I liked it a lot more than the original comic and bring on number two I say!

  142. “I do disagree about Avengement to an extent. Yes it’s good because it has some action to break it up, but at the same time none of the action is particuarily interesting or memorable. It’s just basic punching”

    In that case, MUH, I’d advise you give the latest Adkins joint Legacy of Lies a WIDE berth.

    Kinda reconfirms my nagging suspicion that, like Donnie and Wilson Yip, Adkins without the firm guiding hands of Florentine and Johnson, can be more miss than hit.

  143. I actually haven’t seen a ton of Adkins movies. Whenever I do I’m always vaguely entertained enough on the base level of DTV, sometimes more than that, but never really never that much more. I’ve not been a huge Florentine fan, his movies always come off cheesier, with their super sped up silly fights. Johnson is a lot better and a better director. But still…they made a movie with Iko, Jaa, Tiger Chen, with Adkins and Michael Jai White and I’m watching the fights and feeling like why am I kind of bored? They’re not BAD really, they’re just nothing. Like everyone’s going through some rote motions. Iko did amazing fights even in that horrible piece of shit Wu Assassins show.

    And it’s not like you even need great choreography, you just need a vision for what to do with them. No one did basic punchups better than Walter Hill. Watch The Warriors, there are no super cool movies anyone is doing, but he was able to put things together and the momemtum of things made it amazing. A guy like Johnson just wants to shoot everything in a wide so we can “see the action” which is fine, but can also get stale and just look like he’s pointing a camera. The fight in 48 Hours is nothing in terms of choreography but it’s great.

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