REVIEW: PREDATORS

CAST
Adrien Brody (Hollywoodland)
Laurence Fishburne (Hannibal)
Topher Grace (Spider-Man 3)
Alice Braga (I Am Legend)
Walton Goggins (Django Unchained)
Oleg Taktarov (National Treasure)
Danny Trejo (Eyeborgs)
Mahershala Ali (The Hunger Games: Mockingjay)
Royce (Adrien Brody) awakens to find himself parachuting into an unfamiliar jungle. He meets several others who arrived in the same manner: Mexican drug cartel enforcer Cuchillo (Danny Trejo), Spetsnaz soldier Nikolai (Oleg Taktarov), Israel Defense Forces sniper Isabelle (Alice Braga), Revolutionary United Front officer Mombasa (Mahershala Ali), death row inmate Stans (Walton Goggins), Yakuza enforcer Hanzo (Louis Ozawa Changchien), and a general practice doctor Edwin (Topher Grace).
Upon landing, they discover that all are armed and lethal killers, with the apparent exception of Edwin, though none know where they are or how they got there. The group follows Royce, who Isabelle suspects is a former black operations soldier turned mercenary. In the jungle they find empty cages, plants with a neurotoxic poison that Edwin collects on a scalpel, and a deceased US Special Forces soldier. Arriving at higher ground, they find themselves staring at an alien sky and realize that they are not on Earth.
The party is attacked by a pack of quadruped alien beasts, and Cuchillo is killed. His body is then used as bait to lure the survivors into a trap, but they avoid it. Royce guesses they are on a planet used as a game preserve, where humans are hunted as game. The group follows the quadrupeds’ tracks to a camp and find a captive Predator. The “hunters”, three larger Predators attack the group. Mombasa is killed and the rest of the group escapes. Isabelle reveals that she has heard of the Predators before, from a report by the only survivor (Major Alan “Dutch” Schaefer) a Special Forces team who encountered one in Guatemala in 1987.
The group next meets Noland (Laurence Fishburne), a lone soldier who has survived on the planet for “10 seasons” by hiding and scavenging from the Predators and their victims. At his hideout, he explains that the Predators sharpen their killing skills by collecting warriors and dangerous beasts from other worlds and bringing them to the planet to hunt. Noland also reveals that there is a blood feud between the larger Predators and the smaller ones. Royce hopes that if the group can free the smaller Predator being held prisoner in the encampment, it may take them home using the other Predators’ spaceship. When the group fall asleep, Noland traps them in a room and attempts to use smoke to suffocate them. Having gone mad, he plans to kill them for food. Royce uses an explosive to break out of the room, attracting the Predators to the hideout. Noland tries to escape, but a Predator kills him. In the ensuing chase, Nikolai uses a claymore mine to kill a Predator, sacrificing himself. Stans savagely attacks another Predator with his shiv, buying time for the others to escape, and is killed. Hanzo duels the third Predator with a katana, killing it at the cost of his own life.
As Royce, Isabelle and Edwin head for the Predators’ camp, Edwin is injured by a trap. When Isabelle refuses to abandon him, Royce leaves them both behind and they are caught by the remaining hunter. Royce frees the smaller Predator and heads for the ship as the two Predators confront each other. The larger Predator kills the smaller one and destroys the ship as it takes off. Meanwhile, Edwin paralyzes Isabelle with the neurotoxic poison on his scalpel and reveals that on Earth he was a murderer, and feels that he fits in on this planet among the monsters. Royce appears, never having boarded the ship, and stabs Edwin with his own scalpel, paralyzing him.
Royce booby-traps Edwin with grenades, using him as bait to injure the Predator. While Isabelle covers him with her sniper rifle, he proceeds to fight the Predator with an axe and eventually decapitates it. As Royce and Isabelle rest, they see parachutes opening at a distance. Royce, surmising that more Predators will soon arrive to hunt the new prey, tells Isabelle they must find another way to get off the planet, and they make their way towards the new hunting ground.
This film does exactly what you would want from a predator film. It takes a little while to get going but once it does it goes at a very entertaining pace. It’s a 15 rating so its not as blood thirsty as the first 2 predator films but there is plenty of action and enough blood to keep everyone happy.
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REVIEW: REDBELT

CAST

Chiwetel Ejiofor (Doctor Strange)
Tim Allen (Last Man Standing)
Alice Braga (I Am Legend)
Rodrigo Santoro (Westworld)
Jose Pablo Cantillo (The Walking Dead)
Randy Couture (The Scorpian King 2)
Caroline Correa (Go Big)
Ricky Jay (Mystery Men)
Joe Mantegna (The Rat Pack)
Max Martini (The Town)
Emily Mortimer (Lars and the Real Girl)
Jake Johnson (New Girl)
Jennifer Grey (Dirty Dancing)
Ed O’Neill (Modern Family)

While closing his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu studio one evening, martial arts teacher Mike Terry (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is approached by attorney Laura Black (Emily Mortimer), who is seeking the owner of the vehicle she accidentally sideswiped. Off-duty police officer Joe Collins (Max Martini), who was receiving a private lesson from Mike, sees that Laura is distressed and tries to take her coat. Startled, Laura grabs Joe’s gun and it goes off, shattering the studio’s front window. To avoid having Laura charged with attempted murder, Mike and Joe agree to conceal the event.Mike’s insurance, however, will not cover his act of God claim that the window was broken by a strong wind. Mike’s wife Sondra (Alice Braga), whose fashion business profits are the only thing keeping the struggling studio afloat, requests that Mike ask for a loan from her brother Ricardo (John Machado), a mixed martial arts champion. At Ricardo’s nightclub, Mike meets with Sondra’s other brother, Bruno (Rodrigo Santoro), and learns that Joe quit as the club’s bouncer because Bruno never paid him. Mike confronts Bruno about the situation but is rebuffed. Mike then declines Bruno’s offer to fight on the undercard of an upcoming match between Ricardo and Japanese legend Morisaki (Enson Inoue), which could potentially pay out $50,000. Mike believes competitions with money as the incentive are not honorable and weaken the fighter.Meanwhile, aging Hollywood action star Chet Frank (Tim Allen) enters the nightclub without security and is accosted by a man with a broken bottle. Mike intervenes and subdues three men in the process. The following day, Mike receives an expensive watch and an invitation to dinner from Chet. Mike gives the watch to Joe to pawn in lieu of his unpaid salary at the nightclub. At the dinner party, Chet’s wife Zena (Rebecca Pidgeon) arranges an informal business deal to buy a large amount of dresses from Sondra’s company. Chet, impressed by Mike, invites him to the set of his current film. As Mike and Sondra leave the dinner, Mike explains his unique training method to Chet’s business associate Jerry Weiss (Joe Mantegna). Before a sparring match, each fighter must draw one of three marbles, two white and one black; whoever draws a black marble has to fight with a handicap.Mike uses his military experience to answer a few technical questions for Chet on the film set and is offered the role of co-producer. That evening, Mike faxes the details of his training methods to Jerry so they can be used in the film. Joe arrives at the studio and informs Mike that he was suspended from duty for pawning the watch, which turned out to be stolen. During their dinner that evening, Mike relays the information to Jerry who excuses himself to handle the matter, but never returns. At home, Mike learns that the phone numbers that Zena gave Sondra have been disconnected. Sondra is panicky, having borrowed $30,000 from a loan shark to order the fabric for the dresses. As he meets with the loan shark to discuss an extension, Mike notices Bruno and Marty Brown (Ricky Jay) on television using Mike’s marble-drawing method as a promotional gimmick for the undercard fights of Ricardo’s match.Mike hires Laura to sue, but Marty’s lawyer threatens that if they do not drop the lawsuit, he will give the police an empty shell casing with Laura’s fingerprints, as proof that she attempted to kill an off-duty cop. He also threatens Mike as a witness who covered up the crime by bribing the cop with a stolen watch. When told of the situation, Joe feels responsible and kills himself. Mike feels obligated to help Joe’s financially struggling wife and, in desperate need of money himself, decides to compete as an undercard fighter in the upcoming competition. At the arena, Mike discovers the fights are being fixed via a magician (Cyril Takayama) using sleight of hand to surreptitiously switch the white and black marbles. Disgusted by this revelation, Mike confronts the conspirators: Marty, Jerry and Bruno who confirm that unknown to the competitors, the fights are handicapped by the fight promoters so as to ensure winning bets. They also reveal that Ricardo is intentionally losing the fight to Morisaki so they can make money on the rematch. Jerry tells Mike that Sondra is the one who told them about Laura shooting the window and Bruno justifies her betrayal by explaining that his sister is too smart to stay with someone who cannot provide for her.As Mike is exiting the arena, he meets Laura. Their conversation is not audible, but it ends with Laura slapping Mike. Mike then re-enters the arena. He incapacitates several security guards trying to stop him and is ultimately engaged by Ricardo. The audience and camera crews take notice as Mike and Ricardo face off in the arena’s corridors. Inspired by the Professor (Dan Inosanto), an elderly martial arts master attending the match, Mike manages to slip a difficult choke hold and defeats Ricardo, making it onto the ring to speak to the Professor personally. He is approached by Morisaki, who offers Mike his ivory-studded belt, previously referred to as a Japanese national treasure, as a sign of respect. He is then approached by the Professor himself, who proceeds to award the coveted red belt to an incredulous Mike, and embraces him, acknowledging his dedication to the art.Red Belt doesn’t fail at being an action flick; it just succeeds more so at being an entertaining drama with an MMA theme. This is an easy movie to recommend.

 

 

REVIEW: ELYSIUM

CAST
Matt Damon (The Bourne Identity)
Jodie Foster (The Brave One)
Sharlto Copley (Powers)
Alice Braga (I am Legend)
Diego Luna (The Terminal)
Wagner Moura (Elite Squad)
William Fichtner (The Dark Knight)
Brandon Auret (Chappie)
Emma Tremblay (The Judge)
Jose Pablo Cantillo (Disturbia)
Carly Pope (Popular)
Ona Grauer (Arrow)
Michael Shanks (Stargate SG.1)
Christina Cox (Mutant X)
Terry Chen (Bates Motel)
Pauline Egan (Sanctuary)
In 2154, Earth is overpopulated and polluted. Most of the earth’s citizens live in poverty, on the edge of starvation, and with little technology and medical care. The rich and powerful live on Elysium — a gigantic, terraformed space habitat located in Earth’s orbit. Elysium is technologically advanced with some of its technology including Med-Bays: medical machines that can cure all diseases, reverse the aging process and regenerate new body parts. A long-running feud exists between the wealthy residents of Elysium and the citizens of Earth, who want Elysian technology to cure their medical ailments.
Max Da Costa (Matt Damon), a former car thief on parole lives in the ruins of Los Angeles, and works at an assembly line for Armadyne Corp, a company run by John Carlyle (William Fichtner), who originally designed Elysium, and now supplies its weaponry as well as the robots that police Earth. During an industrial accident at the factory, Max is trapped in a chamber and is hit by a lethal dose of radiation. After being rescued he is informed that he has five days to live before succumbing to radiation poisoning. Desperate for a cure, he and his friend Julio (Diego Luna) seek help from a human smuggler named Spider (Wagner Moura) to get him to Elysium; his only chance for survival is using a Med-Bay.
Meanwhile, when a trio of ships full of illegal immigrants from Earth attempts to reach Elysium and its Med-Bays, Elysian Secretary of Defense Delacourt (Jodie Foster) orders a sleeper agent, Kruger (Sharlto Copley), to destroy the shuttles. While two of the shuttles are shot down in space, killing everyone on board, the third shuttle makes it but once on Elysium, everyone on board is either killed or arrested and deported. Elysian President Patel (Faran Tahir) reprimands her for her immoral and unsubtle methods, and threatens to fire her unless she tones down her actions. Regarded as a loose cannon, Kruger is dismissed from service. Delacourt, vowing to protect Elysium and her own power, bargains with John Carlyle to create a program that can override Elysium’s computer core to give her the Presidency. Carlyle stores the reboot program in his brain for transport to Elysium and encrypts it with a lethal protection program.
Spider agrees to get Max to Elysium if he can steal financial information from Carlyle. To assist him, Spider’s men surgically attach a powered exoskeleton to Max. With Julio and a team of Spider’s men, Max shoots down Carlyle’s ship, and in the ensuing firefight with Carlyle’s security droids, Carlyle is fatally wounded. Max downloads the program to his suit’s neural implant, but realizes that the encryption makes it unusable. Alerted to the data theft by Carlyle’s medical implant, Delacourt secretly reinstates Kruger and deploys him to recover the program. In the ensuing firefight, Julio is killed, and Max is wounded. He reaches out to his childhood friend Frey (Alice Braga), now a nurse, whose daughter Matilda has leukemia. Frey begs Max to take Matilda to Elysium to be cured, but Max refuses in order to protect them. Soon after Max leaves, Kruger arrives and takes Frey and Matilda prisoner aboard his ship, while his drones hunt for Max. Delacourt orders an airspace lockdown over Los Angeles to buy enough time to recover Carlyle’s program.
Max delivers the program to Spider, who discovers that the program can be used to make all Earth residents Elysian citizens. However, because the lockdown makes it impossible to leave Earth, Max bargains with Kruger to be taken to Elysium, not knowing that Kruger has already found out that Frey assisted Max and is holding her and Matilda hostage on the ship. As Kruger’s ship leaves Earth, Spider and his men take advantage of the lockdown lift and also board a ship towards Elysium. Meanwhile, in Kruger’s ship, a fight ensues and Kruger is grievously wounded by a grenade blast, which also disables the ship’s engines. After Kruger’s ship crashes on Elysium, Max, Frey and Matilda are arrested and taken to Delacourt, who orders the download of the program, despite the fact that it will kill Max.
After being restored in a Med-Bay by his lackeys Drake and Crowe, a defiant Kruger kills Delacourt after she chastises him for his recklessness. On Kruger’s orders, Drake and Crowe exterminate the Elysian political officers in order to seize control for themselves. Meanwhile, having escaped his confinement, Max, knowing that Med-Bays only work for Elysian citizens, resolves to use Carlyle’s program to give everyone on Earth Elysian citizenship. He rescues Frey and Matilda, killing Drake and Crowe on the way. He then meets Spider and heads for Elysium’s core but is ambushed by Kruger, now equipped with a military-grade exoskeleton far superior to Max’s. In the ensuing fight, Max manages to rip out Kruger’s neural implant, rendering his suit immobile. However, Kruger tethers himself to Max’s suit and arms a grenade with the intent of killing them both. Max rips off the tether and hurls Kruger over a ledge to his death.
Spider and Max reach Elysium’s computer core, where Spider realizes that the program’s activation will kill Max. Max personally activates the program, having spoken a last time with Frey via radio. As Max dies, Elysium’s computer core reboots and registers every Earth resident as an Elysian citizen. President Patel arrives with security guards but the robots refuse to arrest Spider, whom they now recognize as a citizen. Matilda is cured by a Med-Bay and Elysium’s computer dispatches a huge fleet of medical ships to begin treatment of the citizens of Earth.
Neil Blomkamp, who dazzled audiences with district nine 4 years prior, does a fantastic job once again with this flick. His vision made the story very real to movie goers everywhere