I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

Posts Tagged ‘Liam Neeson’

Battleship

Monday, August 28th, 2017

a survey of summer movies that just didn’t catch on

May 18, 2012

Let’s say you are a pretty decent commercial Hollywood filmmaker and you have accepted the conventional wisdom that you are now living in a “brand” and “i.p.” culture, a world where studios only want to make – and people only want to see – movies based on famous titles of TV shows and comic books and things that they remember from before. And let’s say that the toy company Hasbro has stumbled into running a movie production company after Michael Bay turned their Transformers toys into a gigantic movie franchise. And that now they are convinced they can do the same thing with the classic board game Battleship.

Well, that actually happened one time to Peter Berg (THE RUNDOWN), who had not directed a movie for a couple years after his not-brand-based Summer Fling HANCOCK floundered in 2008, and his response was “Why not?” Or maybe “I guess?” or perhaps “Okay. Fine.” Since the game is very simple, with no story or characters and I’d say less than five identifiable characteristics that would need to be used in an adaptation, he and screenwriters Jon and Erich Hoeber (RED 1 and 2) could just use it as a fake name to slap onto an expensive wannabe blockbuster than any sane person would know was gonna be broadly rejected only because of the board game name that they didn’t need to put on it. But that’s life.

(“The Game of Life” by the way is also owned by Hasbro.) (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.

Run All Night

Monday, March 16th, 2015

tn_runallnightAlthough he’d already done HOUSE OF WAX and GOAL II: LIVING THE DREAM, it was ORPHAN that brought director Jaume Collet-Serra to my attention. I gotta admire a director whose movie I go to thinking I’m gonna be all ironical on it and then it defeats me with its audacity and genuine cleverness. So far that’s the height of his output, but I keep going back.

I guess I’d be watching them anyway, because his ORPHAN follow up has been three Liam Neeson vehicles in a row. UNKNOWN was a somewhat forgettable twisty thriller with some good touches here and there. Apparently I forgot to even post a review of it, but the part I remember liking best was some awkwardness between Neeson and Diane Kruger where they laugh because they’re in her small apartment and hear sex noises from next door, and that turns out to be set-up that her walls are thin enough for him to throw a guy through. NON-STOP was more my speed, a fun take on a confined-location-high-concept with some pretty interesting political subtext. Now the third one, RUN ALL NIGHT, takes the collaboration in a different direction. There’s less emphasis on the thrillery gimmicks and more on the character drama.

Oh, hey, this might explain it: it’s a screenplay by Brad Ingelsby, the guy that wrote OUT OF THE FURNACE. That’s another movie that uses badass genre elements but is more interested in exploring relationships than in satisfying expectations. (Though this one does have shootouts and car crashes.) (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.

Taken 3

Saturday, January 10th, 2015

tn_taken3Unfortunately TAKEN 3 is an uninspired new sausage from the Besson/Kamen factory. Liam Neeson’s ruthless ex-CIA family man character Bryan Mills returns for his first adventure not related to the endless circle of violence caused by his daughter getting kidnapped on a trip to Europe. This time it’s the go-to action movie bad guys of today, the Russian mafia (see also THE EQUALIZER, JOHN WICK, SAFE, DRIVEN TO KILL) who (SPOILER THAT’S IN THE TRAILER) kill poor Lenore (Famke Janssen), Mills’s ex-wife and mother of Kim (Maggie Grace) and who he sort of still has a thing for. The cops show up and it kinda looks like he did it so he beats them up and goes on the run so that he can prove that he didn’t do what it now really really looks like he did.

Even more than part 1 and part 2, part 3 leans heavily on the non-action movie family stuff. There’s a whole lot of time spent showing that he has a good relationship now with his daughter and ex-wife and gets along with his daughter’s boyfriend and tries to help Lenore with her problems with her second husband Stuart (Dougray Scott). I guess at this point I sort of have to admire that Besson cares so much about these characters, or thinks we do, but it’s not like this is real deep observations about relationships. And besides, UNDER SIEGE 2: DARK TERRITORY will always be the definitive action sequel where an old asskicker gives a giant teddy bear to a female relative and it’s awkward because she’s way too old for it. (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.

Trailer: Darkman vs. Ghost Dog

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

I like this series. Never as good as I want it to be, but not as frustrating as THE EXPENDABLESes. Neeson gets to be awesome and talk real serious on phones, Besson gets to throw in some ridiculousness, there’s a little bit of interesting subtext. So I’m glad they’re still going (even if implying through the medium of taglines that this is the last one).

It’s kinda sad to see (SPOILER FOR TRAILER) poor Famke getting Kerseyed here, but wise to take the series in a totally different direction. Obviously it’s kind of a play on THE FUGITIVE, complete with a part where he walks through a water pipe in case you didn’t pick up on it. I guess the idea is “what if instead of an everyman or Wesley Snipes THE FUGITIVE happened to the greatest leather jacket wearing black ops badass of our time? WHAT THEN?”

I hope he jumps down from the pipe while talking on a phone! That would be a good mix of FUGITIVE and TAKEN.

The director is Olivier Megaton again, not my favorite. But TAKEN 2 and COLOMBIANA were both much better than TRANSPORTER 3, so I don’t write him off.

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.

A Walk Among the Tombstones

Thursday, September 25th, 2014

tn_tombstonesSometimes a man just has to walk among the tombstones, you know? Stroll within the grave markers. Saunter betwixt the memorials. Seagal did it in PISTOL WHIPPED and now my man Liam Neeson (THE DEAD POOL) is taking a turn. He’s doing it in a mystery thriller based on book #10 in a series by Lawrence Block. The movie version is written and directed by Scott Frank, the guy that wrote OUT OF SIGHT, so it’s more about capturing that crime novel feel than being another Neeson vehicle like UNKNOWN or NON-STOP. That said, he is allowed to be awesome, and there are some scuffles.

Admittedly the opening scene is better than anything else in the movie. It’s a flashback to 1991, but has a ’70s feel. Stringy-haired, racial-slur-using asshole police detective Matthew Scudder (Neeson) walks into an empty bar where cops get free drinks. And this is how you know he sucks: the bartender greets him by name, and he doesn’t even say hi or look at him. He just knocks on the counter and then sits down at a booth with his back to him. Fuck you, man! I guarantee you this prick doesn’t tip either. (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.

Non-Stop

Thursday, June 26th, 2014

tn_nonstopSo far I think I like the idea of Liam Neeson action vehicles more than the actual execution of them. Both TAKENs were fun, but with post-actiony scuffles and not as tight of storytelling as I prefer in a formula revenge movie. UNKNOWN from what I remember was kinda fun, but what was it about again? He was playing an amnesiac I believe? Yeah, that’s about how I feel about that one.

By far my favorite of this cycle is THE GREY, but that’s because it was all about manly drama. Most of the actual action (anything involving wolves) was as indecipherable as they come. So I came to his new airplane suspense thriller (from UNKNOWN director Jaume Collet-Serra) pretty jaded, but I enjoyed it more than expected.

(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 Episode 1: The Phantom Menace (No Baggage Review)

Sunday, May 4th, 2014

tn_phantommenace'I guess now they’re saying May 4th is Star Wars Day. Yet another fake holiday created by Hallmark and Kenner. At first I assumed they chose May 4th because it’s 21 days before the anniversary of when STAR WARS was released and they are planning seven STAR WARS trilogies. But then somebody explained that it’s supposed to sound like “may the fourth be with you.” Get it. From the nerds who brought you Talk Like a Pirate Day: Seriously, A Whole Day of This Would Be Fun Ye Guys.

Well I’m sorry to perpetuate it, but I decided to use this as an excuse to try to finish a project I started last year when the Star Warses came out on the blu-ray and I watched all six of them again.

I like these movies. Like anybody I especially like the original versions of the original three. But – I think I mentioned this before – one thing I am sick of god damn ever fucking hearing about is fuck George Lucas, he changed the movie that I like, he made a new movie that had farting in it, he owes me, this is at least equal to child rape, most likely way worse, now I finally understand the type of psychological struggle that a 14 year old molested junkie prostitute is going through, boo fucking hoo, etc. Not that it was not a legitimate topic at one time, and inspired by true incidents, but now it’s a decades old discussion done by everybody always and still people will bring it up as if it’s a fresh wound or, worse, as if it’s some sort of rebellious cry against the system if they point out the same damn thing that everybody of their generation also thinks and always will.

I mean honestly, I don’t know how you could verify this but I bet there are more than a billion words on the internet complaining about George Lucas. They hate that motherfucker so much they saw it as a dream come true when he sold his independent artistic creation to the Disney corporation to be used as a licensed property trademark franchise product. Hopefully now the curse is on some other sucker (J.J. Abrams now and whoever takes the gig after him), ’cause they really gotta give the People vs. George Lucas topic a rest, the same way a comedian would at some point just have to leave it be about the airline peanuts, no matter how strongly he feels about how hard it is to open those bags.

Even around here where we have the best god damn commenters in the world (am I right outlawvern.com? I can’t HEAR you!) it’s risky to bring up STAR WARS or George Lucas in any context. But I was watching those blu-rays and I thought it might be a good challenge to try to write reviews of the star warses that I would consider worth reading. I’m not saying I’m gonna succeed, I’m saying I’m gonna try. I’m watching all of them yet again and they’re in these special editions that tie them all together so I might as well write about them from a perspective few have ever considered: as the guy now intends them. One long six chapter story watched in order from 1-6. (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.

K-19: The Widowmaker

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

tn_k-19Well, I was stupid to write off K-19 all these years. I don’t know why I did. I didn’t even know what it’s about. I think I knew K-19 wasn’t a mountain, it’s a submarine. I knew it had kind of an audacious name but was directed by this year’s #1 Oscar snub, Kathryn Bigelow. That should’ve been enough, but I never heard anything too good about it and didn’t feel the need to see it.

Maybe it’s the submarine thing. I know this is blasphemy to alot of people, but I never even got into that one submarine movie that everybody loves that’s by the director of DIE HARD and PREDATOR. I’ve tried and it’s fine and everything but I just can’t get myself excited about it like everybody else. Maybe I’m subconsciously rebelling against my old man, who worked on subs. I never went that way. I’m a proud surface dweller. Strictly a land man. Vote no on Atlantis.
(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.

Taken 2

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

tn_taken2TAKEN 2 is another Liam Neeson post-action thriller where he gets to be smart and tough and wear a leather jacket and then the camera wiggles around while he cracks some bones or whatever. I tend to like these disposable Luc Besson productions for their absurd gimmicks and shameless lowbrowness, but they were more fun when they also had good action sequences. This one’s from Besson’s acolyte of the moment, Olivier Megaton, who did the joyless TRANSPORTER 3 and the more enjoyable COLOMBIANA. Neither of those have action scenes half as good as the ones in previous Besson joints like LEON, TAXI, TRANSPORTER 1-2, UNLEASHED, KISS OF THE DRAGON or DISTRICT B13.

I didn’t love the first TAKEN. Of course it’s funny to see Neeson as a wrist-snapping black-ops know-it-all, and I love a simple plot about a guy like this saving his daughter from kidnappers, and it was funny how his overprotective father paranoia seemed to become a reality, with her getting kidnapped by white slavers about 5 minutes into her European vacation. But then there’s the wobbly action scenes (a shame coming from the director of DISTRICT B13) and it doesn’t exactly have the momentum that makes this type of premise sing. It’s fun, but should be better.
(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.

Kingdom of Heaven (director’s cut)

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

I remember when this movie came out everybody said it was terrible, then the longer director’s cut came out and it started to build up a reputation as underrated. Just to be safe I wanted to allow some time for that rep to foam over and then dry up and harden into a solid surface. The effects of oxygen on the polished surface create the ideal viewing circumstances. So I watched it 7 years later. (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.