Monday, December 12th, 2022
When I first heard that the trusted manufacturers of sturdy action cinema at 87North Productions were making a Santa Claus movie, I misunderstood. I pictured sort of a BAD SANTA meets DIE HARD – a serious action movie where it’s some deadbeat mall Santa who’s in the wrong place at the wrong time and has to save the day, hopefully using a velvet sack’s worth of seasonally themed methods.
So when I realized that the Santa Claus played by David Harbour (BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN) in VIOLENT NIGHT is the actual Santa Claus, having his Christmas Eve deliveries interrupted by hostage takers and using “Christmas magic” to fight back, I was disappointed at first. Sounded corny, I thought.
I was wrong. I want to apologize to Santa. VIOLENT NIGHT is an admirable and solid take on a type of movie I treasure: the genre mash-up that knows it’s ludicrous to combine these particular types of movies but moves forward trying to deliver on both genres as well as the unique opportunities offered by their combination. So it has the trappings of a DIE HARD/UNDER SIEGE scenario (ruthless mastermind, elite mercenary force, carefully planned heist, hero mixed up in it by mistake, shocking deaths of innocent people, bad guys picked off one-by-one with stolen or improvised weapons) but also a heartwarming holiday tale (little girl wavering in her belief in Santa, family having trouble getting along, lessons about selflessness). It’s a comedy, but not a spoof. It tries to deliver faithfully on the mission of each genre. (read the rest of this shit…)
Tags: 87North, Alex Hassell, Alexander Elliot, Alexis Louder, Andre Eriksen, Beverly D'Angelo, Brendan Fletcher, Cam Gigandet, Christmas, Christmas action, David Harbour, Edi Patterson, John Leguizamo, Jonathan Eusebio, Leah Brady, Mitra Suri, Pat Casey & Josh Miller, Phong Iang, Santa Claus, Tommy Wirkola
Posted in Reviews, Action, Comedy/Laffs, Fantasy/Swords | 21 Comments »
Wednesday, August 10th, 2022
David Leitch’s BULLET TRAIN has plenty going for it. It has a strong ensemble of actors playing colorful characters, like a quippy modernized Murder on the Orient Express, except in this one everybody’s trying to murder each other and/or escape, it’s not so much of a whodunit. It’s a fun idea, it looks good, the action scenes are really well executed, with the actors really putting in the work, as we’ve come to expect from 87North (formerly 87Eleven) productions.
But to me the movie is a disappointment. For the last year or two I knew it was the big 87North movie with the crazy-good cast headed up by Brad Pitt fighting each other on a train, and I just took it for granted it was gonna be top of the line. On the surface it is – it’s colorful, has a sense of style, and mostly avoids that everything-is-green-screen feeling of so many modern movies. It even has a good soundtrack of (until Rare Earth on the end credits) non-obvious songs, from Shuggie Otis to Pussy Riot to a really strong use of “Holding Out For a Hero.” Strong because it’s not the original Bonnie Tyler version from FOOTLOOSE, but a Japanese cover made by Miki Asakura in 1984 as the theme for a show called School Wars (now remixed with some MORTAL KOMBAT-y dance music flourishes). (read the rest of this shit…)
Tags: 87North, Aaaron Taylor-Johnson, Andrew Koji, Bad Bunny, Brad Pitt, Brian Tyree Henry, David Leitch, Elisabet Ronaldsdottir, Greg Rementer, Hiroyuki Sanada, Joey King, Jonathan Sela, Karen Fukuhara, Kirk A. Jenkins, Kotaro Isaka, Logan Lerman, Sandra Bullock, trains, Zak Olkewicz, Zazie Beetz
Posted in Action, Comedy/Laffs, Reviews | 13 Comments »
Tuesday, September 28th, 2021
KATE is the straight-to-Netflix Mary Elizabeth Winstead action movie produced by David Leitch and Chad Stahelski’s company 87North (formerly 87Eleven). As you’d expect from that pedigree, it has excellent action scenes, with JOHN WICK fight coordinator Jonathan Eusebio acting as second unit director and stunt coordinator. He did BIRDS OF PREY too, so I gotta wonder if Winstead asked, “You got any more of those JOHN WICKs laying around?”
The screenplay is credited to Umair Aleem (whose only previous credit is EXTRACTION – no, not that one – the Bruce Willis/Kellan Lutz/Gina Carano one), and the story is admittedly more standard than a JOHN WICK or a NOBODY. Elite assassin wanting to retire, yes, but none of the fanciful stuff. Working with her handler Varrick (Woody Harrelson, DOC HOLLYWOOD), who trained her since she was orphaned, Winstead’s titular character adeptly infiltrates, beats up, parkours and rooftop snipes whoever they send her after (which seems to mean Yakuza bosses, since she seems to live and work out of Japan). The first hit we see is successful, but she has to kill the guy in front of his daughter, which upsets her so much she decides she’s retiring after wrapping up the job. The second one we see she misses, making it much more exciting because we get to see her leap and somersault across buildings to get a second shot and then improvise an escape, stealing some dude’s ridiculously pimped out pink and yellow ride for a SPEED RACER/2 FAST 2 FURIOUS neon-blur car chase. (read the rest of this shit…)
Tags: 87North, Athena Perample, Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, Jonathan Eusebio, Jun Kunimura, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Michiel Huisman, Miku Patricia Martineau, Miyavi, Seng Kawee, Tadanobu Asano, Umair Aleem
Posted in Action, Reviews | 52 Comments »