“I’m Paul Barlow, and this is my daughter Jo.”

“Malone.”

“You got a first name?”

“Yeah.”

Posts Tagged ‘Benicio Del Toro’

Sicario: Day of the Soldado

Monday, July 2nd, 2018

SICARIO: DAY OF THE SOLDADO, like its predecessor SICARIO, is a bleak, uncomfortable peek into a hellish world of violence depicted near our southern border. Cartels go about their business with savage brutality. U.S. agencies blur and push and blatantly leap across every legal or moral line they ever heard of. The Americans hire a Mexican lawyer turned killer to do the dirty stuff because he wants revenge on those who murdered his family. But they also seem pretty okay with doing the dirty stuff themselves.

Criminals, cops and soldiers all ride on the backs of humvees or pickup trucks or in helicopters, some of them caravanning across the border with impunity, wrapped in armor, strapped with high capacity rifles, hiding behind their sunglasses and gritting their teeth until something pops off and then they pound hundreds of rounds through glass, metal and meat, leaving the wreckage of vehicles and their inhabitants to bake under the hot sun on the pavement or in the dirt. (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2018

May 19, 1998

Fresh off of the hard-hitting journalism of Tea Leoni in DEEP IMPACT and Maria Pitillo in GODZILLA, summer of ’98 offered an alternative approach. Johnny Depp (A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET) plays Raoul Duke and/or Hunter S. Thompson in Terry Gilliam’s adaptation of Thompson’s 1971 Rolling-Stone-two-parter-turned-book about covering the Mint 400 desert motorcycle race for Sports Illustrated. You do see a glimpse of dirt bikes (well, mostly dirt), but the real story is his crazed debauchery while “searching for the American Dream” with his lawyer (who we never once see doing legal work) Dr. Gonzo (Benicio del Toro, SICARIO), ingesting much of the contents of a briefcase containing “a serious drug collection,” turning hotel rooms into Vietnam War movies and barely avoiding death or prison like some silent film clown accidentally dodging a series of falling objects.

And the movie itself keeps ducking dangers with miraculous precision. This is 118 minutes of what mostly feels like aimless madness, depraved variations on bad behavior and hallucinations, but to me it never gets old. I actually feel more exhausted at the end of Gilliam’s more polite movies like BRAZIL, THE ADVENTURES OF BARON MUNCHAUSEN or TWELVE MONKEYS. Somehow I’m endlessly amused by Duke and Gonzo’s deadpan craziness as they live out the type of lifestyle where you’d only be a little surprised to wake up with an alligator tail growing out of you, a microphone taped to your face and a giant smoking hole in your hotel bed. (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Monday, December 18th, 2017

This is an ALL SPOILER review, written assuming that everybody has seen THE LAST JEDI before reading.

* * *

If you’re not familiar with my take on the Star Wars, I’m a devout follower, but a heretic. I’m out of step with the mainstream because I hold George Lucas in high regard and I prefer the innovation, ideas and idiosyncrasies of his prequels to Disney’s more polished and socially acceptable continuations (though I like those too).

I’ve also been pretty alone in my skepticism about director Rian Johnson. That might be overstating it – I thought BRICK was very well made and I did like LOOPER – but some of the ideas are a little corny to me, and I never related to the effusive praise from my friends and colleagues. So I wasn’t over-the-forest-moon about him doing a Star War.

After THE LAST JEDI, though, I’m sold. And worried about him not doing the next one. In his capacity as the first sole-writer-and-director on a Star War since Lucas, Johnson succeeds in so much more than I could’ve hoped: continuing and deepening the characters from THE FORCE AWAKENS, bringing back Luke Skywalker for a powerful completion to his arc, thrillingly upending some of our expectations, putting a personal mark on the world of Star Wars, and saying new things about the meaning of the saga as a whole and its application to the world. Also there are some weird new creatures, and Luke milks one of them. (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

Sicario

Monday, October 19th, 2015

tn_sicarioHere we go yo, here we go yo, so what’s a what’s a what’s a sicario? In Mexico, the onscreen text tells us, it’s a hitman. And the movie SICARIO is a nightmarish portrait of the byzantine conflict such a hitman would be in the middle of. Literally that would be the War On Drugs but metaphorically, it’s easy to think, it could be about the War On Terror, or any number of seemingly intractable cycles of violence. This is, after all, Canadian director Denis Villeneuve (PRISONERS, ENEMY) making an American movie about Mexico. It’s international and cross-cultural.

Our guide into Hell is Emily Blunt (EDGE OF TOMORROW, LOOPER) as Kate Macer, a new but talented FBI agent who raids a drug house in Phoenix and accidentally finds where a cartel has been stashing bodies. Next thing you know a meeting room full of mysterious higher-ups recruits her to aid in a vaguely defined interagency mission they say will lead her to the people responsible. She finds herself at an Air Force base with a couple dozen macho CIA, Delta Force and US Marshal tough guys who all seem to go way back and know exactly what’s going on and do this kinda mission in their sleep. And next thing you know they’re cruising over the border meeting up with militarized Mexican police forces and God knows who else. Nobody tells Kate anything. She just has to stay quiet and keep up. (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

The Usual Suspects

Tuesday, August 18th, 2015

tn_usualsuspects

RELEASE DATE: August 16th
RELEASE DATE: August 16th

Do you guys know about these “Usual Suspects”? They’re this group of criminals who get rounded up one day for a line up for some crime none of them had anything to do with, and it pisses them off so much that they decide to pool their resources for a job that will get them some diamonds and humiliate the police by exposing their corruption. As a bonus it will also allow them to terrorize an uptight Paul Bartel and blow up his car. But when they go to fence the jewels they realize they’ve been pulled into this whole other thing with an infamous boogie man super-criminal who now says they owe him and have to do a job for him or their loved ones will be assaulted and killed. Or at least that’s what this lawyer Kobayashi (Pete Postlethwaite, INCEPTION) tells them. Or at least that’s the story that Verbal Kint (Kevin Spacey, MOON, The Equalizer) tells Customs Agent Kujan (Chazz Palminteri, BERRY GORDY’S THE LAST DRAGON) when he wants to know what led up to the burning ship full of dead bodies discovered last night.

Yeah, actually this movie is pretty complicated, and that’s just the basics there. There’s also the whole thing about a Hungarian burn victim survivor of the boat fire and the FBI agent (Giancarlo Esposito, DO THE RIGHT THING, The Equalizer) bringing in a translator and sketch artist before surgery to try to get him to tell what he knows about the mysterious Keyser Soze and trying to get the information to Agent Kujan in time and etc. (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

Guardians of the Galaxy

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

tn_guardiansPeter “Star Lord” Quill (Chris Pratt, ZERO DARK THIRTY) is a wannabe legendary space outlaw, a good fighter with a cool breather mask and ship who takes gigs from unsavory characters retrieving rare objects and stuff. A Transporter, if you will. When he finds something called “the orb” for a scary space guy with the scary space name of Rhonan the Accuser, he learns that it endangers everybody in the galaxy, and he decides he’s against that. So he teams up with an alien lady trying to snatch it from him (Zoe Saldana, but green this time instead of AVATAR blue), two bounty hunters trying to capture him (Bradley Cooper [MIDNIGHT MEAT TRAIN] and Vin Diesel, both voicing cartoons), and a psycho they met in prison (Dave Bautista, RIDDICK) to try to get it somewhere safe, wherever the fuck that would be. I don’t think they discuss throwing it into a volcano like a lord of the rings would do. (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

Savages

Saturday, July 7th, 2012

SAVAGES is the new crime film from Oliver Stone, about two young idealistic pot entrepreneurs taking on a ruthless Mexican cartel (which is one of the most common types of cartels). The tale is narrated to us by O (GREEN LANTERN’s girlfriend Blake Lively) who is the shared lover of botany genius/philanthropist Ben (Aaron KICKASS Johnson) and Iraq vet/muscle-of-the-operation Chon (Taylor JOHN CARTER Kitsch). The two grew up together as surf bums in Laguna Beach and then one day decided to bring home marijuana seeds from Afghanistan and create a new strain. And the shit blew up like Apple. (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

The Hunted (2003)

Saturday, December 8th, 2007

Not to be confused with THE HUNTED (starring Christopher Lambert) or BENJI THE HUNTED (starring Benji)

Early in William Friedkin’s THE HUNTED we are introduced to its hero, L.T. Bonham (Steven Seagal), an expert in tracking, knife fighting and wilderness survival who used to train special ops soldiers in these skills. As he learned that the guys he was training were being sent to assassinate people for purely political purposes he grew disillusioned and quit. So now he’s in the BC wilderness where we see him track an injured wolf through the snowy woods, get the trap off of his paw, chew up a root and rub it on the wound as a homeopathic healing agent. Then he tracks the responsible poacher down at a tavern, bangs his head against a table and tells him never to do it again.

Oh wait, did I say Steven Seagal? Actually L.T. Bonham is played by Tommy Lee Jones. I was surprised how much of this movie reminded me of Seagal, though. The story is about a special ops badass (Seagal– er, I mean Benicio Del Toro) who comes back from Kosovo totally wacked out and kills some guys, and Tommy Lee Jones (UNDER SIEGE) is the guy who trained him so he has to help catch him. So I thought it was gonna be like FIRST BLOOD meets THE FUGITIVE. Not Steven Seagal meets Steven Seagal. (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

Sin City

Friday, April 1st, 2005

There’s alot of comic strip books turned into movies but usually they Hollywood em up alot. They change the story and the super hero clothes and turn brits into americans and alot of the fans are fundamentalists so they get pretty upset. Batman doesn’t have nipples because bats don’t have nipples, Super-man isn’t supposed to wear that shade of blue it is actually a different shade of blue, that kind of thing.

So what Robert Rodriguez did for this comic strip SIN CITY, he actually brought in the writer/cartoonist from the comic, made him co-director, and apparently pretty much used the comic as storyboards and script. He used his cool digital movie cameras and convinced a great cast to come in and fuck around in front of green screens and used computers for almost all the backgrounds. According to my team of expert nerds, there are scenes and lines from the funny pages that they cut out here and there and they mixed things together a little bit at the beginning in order to combine three stories into one. But for the most part the shots are based on the drawings and everything written on the page is said out loud in the movie. An obsessive level of faithfulness never thought possible even by Harry Knowles himself. Maybe the most faithful movie adaptation of anything ever, including plays, novels and trading cards. (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

The Way of the Gun

Sunday, September 10th, 2000

You know what, I got me a new theory. Look out people. If this theory pans out its gonna be in the textbook for Badass Cinematical studies for now on. It is about the difference between ’70s Badass filmmakers and ’90s Badass filmmakers.

The difference is, the ’90s boys went to college. Or read alot of books. Studied alot of movies. The ’70s boys traveled the world, drank alot of whiskie, got in fights and drag races. The ’70s boys had a natural knack for the poetry of Badass Cinematics, while the ’90s boys had a great knowledge of technique and equipment and approaches to witty dialogue. Now obviously there are many exceptions to this rule, but it is a good sweeping generalization to ponder. The ’70s masters like Peckinpah and Leone and Siegel and Mr. Eastwood had an effortless feel to their films, like it was just something that came out of their pores. The ’90s ones, even the really good ones, usually seem like they put a whole fucking lot of thought into it. Drew alot of schematics and diagrams. And figured out how to do it just right. (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.