REVIEW: SALT

CAST

Angelina Jolie (Maleficent)
Liev Schreiber (The 5th Wave)
Chiwetel Ejiofor (Serenity)
Daniel Olbrychski (The Deluge)
August Diehl (Anatomy 2)
Hunt Block (The Lonely Guy)
Andre Braugher (Glory)
Gaius Charles (Batman: Bad Blood)

Evelyn Salt (Angelina Jolie) is being tortured in a North Korean prison on suspicion of being an American spy. Her boyfriend, arachnologist Mike Krause (August Diehl), generates so much publicity that the CIA is forced to arrange a prisoner exchange, despite the agency’s policy against it. Salt’s CIA colleague Ted Winter (Liev Schreiber) greets Salt at the border. As they drive away, Mike proposes marriage, despite Salt’s admission that she is in fact a CIA operative.

Two years later, on Salt and Mike’s wedding anniversary, a Russian defector named Oleg Vasilyevich Orlov (Daniel Olbrychski) walks in to Salt’s office. Salt interrogates him, with Winter and CIA counterintelligence officer Darryl Peabody (Chiwetel Ejiofor) observing. Orlov claims that, on “Day X”, highly trained Russian sleeper agents known as “KAs” will destroy the U.S. Orlov tells them that Agent “KA-12” will assassinate Russian president Boris Matveyev (Olek Krupa) at the funeral of the American Vice President. Orlov reveals that KA-12 is named Evelyn Salt, and lie detectors confirm his entire story. Peabody orders Salt be detained, but Orlov kills two agents and escapes. In the confusion, Salt is able to escape as well, running barefoot through the street. While she is being chased, she discovers that Mike was kidnapped.

Later, at the funeral, Salt appears to succeed in killing President Matveyev, and then surrenders herself. Matveyev is declared dead. Salt escapes again and heads to a barge where Orlov is hiding with other sleeper agents. In a series of flashbacks, Salt recalls growing up in the Soviet Union and being trained with other children. On the barge, Orlov welcomes her back and has Mike killed in front of her. When Salt shows no reaction, Orlov is convinced she is loyal and begins briefing her on her next mission. She is to rendezvous with another KA who will help her assassinate the American president. Salt then kills Orlov and all of the other agents on the barge. She then meets with KA Shnaider (Corey Stoll), who uses his cover as a NATO liaison to get Salt into the White House. Once inside, Shnaider launches a suicide attack to force agents to move the President (Hunt Block) to an underground bunker, accompanied by Winter. Salt follows them and manages to enter the bunker before it is sealed.

The US President learns that Russia has mobilized its nuclear arsenal in response to their president’s death. He orders American nuclear weapons readied in response. CIA Agent Winter then suddenly kills everyone except the President and introduces himself as Nikolai Tarkovsky, another KA. Winter incapacitates the President and begins aiming nuclear missiles at Mecca and Tehran to incite millions of Muslims against the United States. Salt tries to persuade Winter to let her inside the sealed room, but then he sees a television report that President Matveyev is alive and well: Salt had used spider venom to cause a simulated death of Matveyev. Winter refuses her entry and reveals that Mike’s kidnapping and her blown cover were his idea. Winter plans to place full blame for the nuclear attacks on Salt. Salt breaks into the room before he can launch the missiles. The two wrestle for control of the nuclear football, with Salt aborting the missile strikes before being captured.

As Salt is being led out in chains, Winter grabs a pair of scissors, apparently to attack her or to defend himself if necessary. She unexpectedly hooks her chain around Winter’s neck and jumps over the stair railing, choking him to death. On the helicopter ride to be interrogated, Peabody questions her. Salt explains that she killed Winter because he orchestrated the death of her husband, and promises to hunt down the remaining KA agents if freed. Peabody is convinced after receiving a text that Salt’s fingerprints were found on the barge where the sleeper agents were killed, supporting her story. Salt is allowed to escape, jumping out of the helicopter into the river below and escaping into the woods. In an alternate ending Salt jumps out of the helicopter and arrives in disguise at the place where she was trained as a child in the Soviet Union, she is then seen by the water as the place blows up and Salt smiles.Salt is full of action film . Angeline Jolie surprisingly performs a pleasant heroine. Despite the twists, the story is predictable and flawed, but the action scenes make it worth seeing.

REVIEW: THE GOOD SHEPHERD

CAST

Matt Damon (Jason Bourne)
Angelina Jolie (Maleficent)
Robert De Niro (Joy)
Alec Baldwin (Mission: Impossible 5)
William Hurt (The Host)
Joe Pesci (Home Alone)
John Turturro (Transformers)
Billy Crudup (Watchmen)
Tammy Blanchard (Into The Wood)
Michael Gambon (Harry Potter)
Timothy Hutton (Secret Window)
Keir Dullea (Black Christmas)
Gabriel Macht (Suits)
Lee Pace (The Hobbit)
Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything)
James Faulkner (X-Men: First Class)

A photograph and an audio recording on reel-to-reel tape are dropped off anonymously at the home of Edward Wilson (Matt Damon), a senior CIA officer, after the 1961 Bay of Pigs Invasion of Cuba fails due to an undisclosed leak. In 1939 Edward is at Yale University and is invited to join Skull and Bones, a secret society. He is compelled to disclose a secret as part of his initiation: he reveals that as a young boy in 1925 he discovered the suicide note left by his father, Thomas (Timothy Hutton), although he says he never read it. After the ceremony, a fraternity brother tells him that Edward’s father, an admiral, was to be chosen as Secretary of the Navy, until his loyalties were questioned. Afterwards Edward is recruited by an FBI agent, Sam Murach (Alec Baldwin), who claims that Edward’s poetry professor, Dr. Fredericks (Michael Gambon), is a Nazi spy, asking Edward to expose his professor’s background. Edward’s actions result in Dr. Fredericks’ forced resignation from the university.

Edward begins a relationship with a deaf student named Laura (Tammy Blanchard), but while on Deer Island, Edward meets his friend John Russel’s (Gabriel Macht) family and is later aggressively seduced by his sister Margaret ‘Clover’ Russell (Angelina Jolie). General Bill Sullivan (Robert De Niro) asks Edward to join the OSS, offering him a post in London. Later while Edward and Laura are at the beach, Margaret’s brother privately reveals that she is pregnant, so Edward marries her. At the wedding reception Edward accepts the London OSS office position, while his new wife remains in the United States. In London he meets Dr. Fredericks again, who is actually with British intelligence. An intelligence officer in the British SOE, Arch Cummings (Billy Crudup), tells Edward that Fredericks’ indiscriminate homosexual relationships pose a security risk. Edward is asked to deal with his mentor, who refuses to protect himself by returning to teaching. Shortly afterwards, he is brutally killed and his body is dumped into the Thames, all while Edward watches.In post-war Berlin, where both Allies and Soviets are recruiting German scientists. Edward encounters his Soviet counterpart, code named “Ulysses”, for the first time. After learning from his son, Edward Jr., during a phone call home that his wife is having an affair, Edward has a one-night stand with interpreter Hanna Schiller (Martina Gedeck); the same night, he realizes she is a Soviet agent and she is killed. Edward returns home to his wife and son. His wife confesses her adultery, and Edward confesses his. General Sullivan approaches Edward again to help form a new foreign intelligence organization – the CIA – where he would work with his former colleague, Richard Hayes (Lee Pace), under Phillip Allen (William Hurt). Edward accepts, hiding the details of his position from everyone but his wife.Edward’s first assignment deals with coffee in Central America where the Russians are trying to gain influence. Edward spots Ulysses in the background of footage of the country’s leader, but doesn’t disclose this. Edward arranges for airplanes to fly over and release locusts during a public event where the Russians (including Ulysses) are present in order to intimidate the Central American leader. An American agent’s severed finger is sent to Edward in a coffee can. At a Christmas party, Edward’s son wets himself. At the same party, General Sullivan tells Edward that Phillip Allen was going to be on the Mayan Coffee Company’s board of directors, prompting Edward to ask Sam Murach to look into Phillip’s finances.A Russian man requests asylum and claims to be high-ranking KGB agent Valentin Mironov. While attending the theater with Mironov and Cummings, Edward encounters his former sweetheart, Laura. They begin seeing each other again. Sometime later, Margaret receives photos of Laura and Edward getting into a taxi together and kissing. After she confronts him, Edward ends the relationship with Laura. Another Russian defector appears, claiming that he is the real Valentin Mironov, the other man being an impostor called Yuri Modin, a KGB operative working for Ulysses. Thinking he is lying, agents torture him, and administer liquid LSD believing it to be a potential truth serum. The second defector does not break, instead telling them how the Soviets’ power is just a myth, before hurling himself through a window and down several stories. The first man claiming to be Valentin Mironov, who has watched the entire ordeal together with Edward, offers to take LSD to prove his innocence, but Edward does not take him up on his offer. Edward visits his son, who has, like his father, joined the Skull and Bones society at Yale, and been approached by the CIA, which he joins despite his mother’s misgivings, widening the rift between his parents. Edward Jr. overhears his father and Hayes discussing the imminent Bay of Pigs invasion. His father warns him to be silent. Margaret leaves Edward.

Returning to the recording at the beginning of the story, detailed analysis points to Leopoldville, in the Congo. Having tracked down the room where the recording was made, Edward realizes that the source of the leak was his son speaking to his lover, revealed to be a Soviet agent by Ulysses when he appears and plays Edward an unedited version of the recording in an attempt to turn him. Edward confronts his son, who plans to marry the woman. Growing suspicious, Edward discovers evidence that Cummings and Mironov (really Yuri Modin) are double agents. Meeting Ulysses in the National Air and Space Museum, Edward finally refuses his offer, but argues that, having won in Cuba, there is nothing to be gained for the Soviets in hurting his son. On their wedding day, Edward Jr.’s fiancée is killed by being thrown out of the plane she was taking to the ceremony. When Edward Jr. asks if his father was responsible, he denies it.

Edward meets with Hayes at the new CIA headquarters still under construction. Allen is resigning under a cloud of financial improprieties, and the President has asked Hayes to be the new director. Hayes makes Edward the first head of counter-intelligence, an entire wing of new building. At home, Edward retrieves and reads his father’s suicide note. In the letter, his father confesses to having betrayed his country. Edward burns the note. The final scene shows Edward leaving his old office for the new position.

Some might wonder how so many actors could be recruited for such small roles, like Alec Baldwin, Michael Gambon, and Joe Pesci, but one only has to see as far as the director to get their answer. Don’t let the big names and the anagram CIA get you. This movie is as edgy as it is intricate with twists and turns that take the viewer through the world of trust and the human element. A man like Edward Wilson is just the perfect vessel for the journey.

REVIEW: TAKING LIVES

CAST

Angelina Jolie (The Changeling)
Ethan Hawke (The Purge)
Kiefer Sutherland (Pompeii)
Gena Rowlands (The Notebook)
Oliver Martinez (S.W.A.T.)
Paul Dano (Looper)
Justin Chatwin (War of The Worlds)
Shawn Ronerts (Resident Evil: Afterlife)

The film opens in early 1980s Canada where teenager Martin Asher (Paul Dano) is seen ambling about a bus station, seemingly uncertain of his destination. He befriends another teen on the bus, Matt Soulsby (Justin Chatwin) and the two talk about their plans for the future. When their bus breaks down, the two acquire a car from a nearby garage. While Martin is driving, a tire blows. Matt struggles to change the tire and Martin comments on how he and Matt are both about the same height, and kicks Matt into the path of an oncoming truck. He is last seen toting Matt’s guitar and walking away singing in a voice similar to Matt’s.
Twenty years later, a successful FBI profiler, Illeana Scott (Angelina Jolie), is summoned to help out Canadian law enforcement in Montreal, to apprehend Asher, who has been killing people for years and assuming their identities as he travels across North America. Scott has to adjust to working in a strange city with a police team that she does not really fit in with. On a ferry to Quebec City, Martin’s mother (Gena Rowlands) recognizes her son. After docking she locates a police officer and tells him that she saw her son on the ferry. Upon telling the officer her son died 19 years ago, she discusses the matter with a city official. She is convinced the man she saw was her son, and exclaims to the officer that her son is “dangerous”. Based on Mrs. Asher’s statement, the body believed to be that of her son is exhumed for an autopsy.
The team meets with art salesman James Costa (Ethan Hawke), an eyewitness who saw Asher kill his last victim. Costa makes a drawing of Asher and, within a couple of days, Asher’s apartment is found. Scott discovers Asher’s next target is Costa, so protecting him is priority number one. During the time they spend together, Scott and Costa begin to develop feelings for each other, though Scott refuses to become involved with him because of the ongoing case.
Asher flees with Costa as a hostage and Scott pursues them. Scott sees Asher die in a car accident and the case is closed. As Scott is packing up, preparing to return home, Costa visits her in her hotel room. Without saying anything, he undresses her and they make passionate love on a chest of drawers and the bed, surrounded by gruesome crime scene photos. The next morning, Scott awakes to find herself partly covered in Costa’s blood. At first, she fears he is dead, but then he awakes and they discover he had merely popped the stitches in his arm that he received after the auto accident.
As Costa’s stitches are repaired in the hospital, Scott is called down to the morgue as Mrs. Asher has come to identify the burned body of her son, killed in the accident. She says the body is not her son. Mrs. Asher and Scott realize that Asher is still alive. Mrs. Asher is shocked, leaves the morgue, and goes to the elevator, and Scott chases after her. Before Scott can reach her, the elevator door closes. Scott descends the stairs, hoping to intercept Mrs. Asher on the ground floor. When the elevator door opens, Scott sees Costa covered in blood, having killed Mrs. Asher – who Scott realizes is Costa’s mother. The police try to capture Asher who escapes the hospital. Scott returns to her hotel room and frantically washes herself, in a state of manic disgust. An investigation shows that the man who died in the car accident, who the real Asher had identified as Asher, was actually Christopher Hart (Kiefer Sutherland), a drug dealer and art thief to whom Asher owed $80,000, and whom Asher murdered. The Montreal police chase Asher, but he escapes in a train station and boards a train headed east of Montreal, meanwhile setting up his next victim, a sports talent scout. After that, he calls Scott on the phone and taunts her. Scott admits to having consensual sex with Asher, and is consequently fired from the FBI.
Seven months later, Scott is living in an desolate farmhouse by herself in Carlisle, Pennsylvania and looking heavily pregnant with Asher’s twin boys. One day as she sits alone in her home, she discovers Asher has broken into her house. She frantically tries to escape, but Asher quickly overpowers her and then reveals he has found all the guns she had hidden throughout the house. Asher makes her tea and tells her they could start over and live together as a family, but a disgusted Scott tells him she does not want to. Enraged, Asher begins beating and choking her and eventually stabs her in her belly with a pair of scissors. Scott, seemingly unharmed by the stabbing, shocks Asher by quickly stabbing him in the heart with the same scissors. As Asher is on his knees looking at her in disbelief, Scott removes a prosthetic pregnant belly, and tells him the past seven months have been a carefully planned trap. He falls over, dead. The film ends with Scott calling the police, saying “It’s over”, and staring out her window.Those of us who see many of these types of movies will probably see most of the twists before they happen. Many of them well before they happen. Some of you will know everything that’s going to happen before it happens, such as I did, but I still think it was a good story and was entertained.

REVIEW: BEOWULF

CAST

Anthony Hopkins (Westworld)
Angelina Jolie (The Changeling)
Ray Winstone (Elfie Hopkins)
Crispin Glover (Alice In Wonderland)
Robin Wright (Forrest Gump)
Sebastian Roche (The Originals)
John Malkovich (Red)
Brendan Gleeson (Troy)
Costas Mandylor (Saw V)
Dominic Keating (Heroes)
Alison Lohman (Big Fish)
Fred Tatasciore (Hulk Vs)

Set in 507, Beowulf is a legendary Geatish warrior who travels to Denmark with his band of soldiers, including his best friend, Wiglaf. They meet King Hrothgar, who needs a hero to slay Grendel (Crispin Glover), a hideously disfigured troll-like creature with superhuman strength. Grendel attacks Heorot, Hrothgar’s mead hall, whenever the Danes held a celebration, and Hrothgar has been forced to close the hall. Upon arriving, Beowulf becomes attracted to Hrothgar’s wife, Queen Wealtheow, who reciprocates his interest.Beowulf and his men celebrate in Heorot to lure Grendel out. When the beast attacks, Beowulf engages him unarmed and naked. During the fight, Beowulf discovers that Grendel has hypersensitive hearing, which is why he interrupts Hrothgar’s celebrations – the noise they make is physically painful to him. After his eardrums are ruptured by Beowulf, Grendel attempts to escape. Beowulf restrains Grendel and severs his arm with the door. In thanks for freeing his kingdom from the monster, Hrothgar gives Beowulf his golden drinking horn, which commemorates Hrothgar’s victory over the mighty dragon Fafnir.In his cave, the dying Grendel tells his mother what was done to him, and she swears revenge. She travels to Heorot and slaughters Beowulf’s men while they are sleeping. Hrothgar tells both Beowulf and Wiglaf, who had been sleeping outside the hall during the attack, that it was the work of Grendel’s mother. She is the last of the Water Demons, who were thought to have left the land. Beowulf and Wiglaf travel to the demon’s cave to slay her. Beowulf enters the cave alone and encounters the demon, who takes the form of a beautiful woman. She offers to make him the greatest king who ever lived, in exchange for a son to replace Grendel and Hrothgar’s drinking horn.Beowulf agrees to the deal and returns, claiming to have killed her. Hrothgar, however, realizes the truth. He indirectly tells Beowulf that, much like him, Hrothgar was seduced by her, and Grendel was the result of their tryst. Hrothgar crowns Beowulf king, much to the dismay of his royal advisor, Unferth, who was hoping to take the throne. Hrothgar then commits suicide by jumping from the castle parapet onto the beach below. A wave momentarily engulfs Hrothgar’s body, there is a golden flash underwater, and the body is gone.Years later, the elderly Beowulf is married to Wealtheow. Over the years they had grown apart, husband and wife in name alone. Beowulf takes a mistress, Ursula, but his tryst with Grendel’s mother has left him sterile. One day, Unferth’s slave Cain finds the golden drinking horn in a swamp near Grendel’s cave and brings it back to the kingdom. That night, a nearby village is destroyed by a dragon, which leaves Unferth alive to deliver a message to King Beowulf: the dragon is Beowulf’s son born to Grendel’s mother. Removing the horn has voided the agreement between Beowulf and Grendel’s mother, who has now sent their son, the dragon, to destroy his kingdom.Beowulf and Wiglaf go to the cave once again and Beowulf enters the cave alone. When Grendel’s mother appears, Beowulf gives her the golden horn, but she refuses to stop the attacks. The dragon flies straight towards Beowulf’s home, threatening Wealtheow and Ursula. Despite his age, Beowulf goes to great lengths to stop the monster, even severing his own arm. Eventually, he kills the dragon by ripping its heart out. A mortally wounded Beowulf watches the dragon transforming into a humanoid body and being washed out to sea. As Wiglaf approaches him, Beowulf tries to tell the truth about his affair with Grendel’s mother, but Wiglaf insists on keeping his legacy intact. Beowulf then dies.As the new king, Wiglaf gives Beowulf a Norse funeral. Grendel’s mother appears and gives Beowulf a final kiss before his burning ship sinks into the sea. Wiglaf sees the golden horn in the sand while Grendel’s mother floats in the sea, looking at him seductively. The movie ends ambiguously with Wiglaf holding the horn and staring back at her.The plot isn’t much to write home about. The acting is variable – Robin Wright-Penn is fine, Hopkins is his usual reliable self, Ray Winstone is suitably heroic as the heroic, self-aggrandising Beowulf, and Crispin Glover is just brilliant as Grendel. Grendel is a lovely creation, oozing slime and blood, and wracked with pain. It’s entertainment. And I was royally entertained.

REVIEW: HACKERS

CAST

Jonny Lee Miller (Elementary)
Angelina Jolie (The Changeling)
Jesse Bradford (Swimfan)
Matthew Lillard (Scream)
Laurence Mason (The Crow)
Fisher Stevens (Short Circuit)
Alberta Watson (La Femme Nikita)
Penn Jillette (Sabrina: TTW)
Felicity Huffman (Desperate Housewives)

In 1988, 11-year-old Dade “Zero Cool” Murphy is arrested and charged with crashing 1,507 computer systems in a single day and causing a single-day 7-point drop in the New York Stock Exchange. His family is fined $45,000 for the events and he is banned from using computers or touch-tone telephones until he is 18 years old. Seven years later, Dade (Jonny Lee Miller), is now living with his divorced mother in New York City. On Dade’s 18th birthday, he receives a computer and uses social engineering to hack into a local television station’s computer network, changing the current TV program to an episode of The Outer Limits. However, Dade’s intrusion is countered by another hacker (handle “Acid Burn”) on the same network, and they briefly converse, with Dade identifying himself by a new alias: “Crash Override”.Dade enrolls in a local high school (for which Stuyvesant High School is used as the filming location) where he meets Kate Libby (Angelina Jolie) who pranks Dade by claiming that there’s a pool on the roof of the school. Ramon “The Phantom Phreak” Sanchez (Renoly Santiago) observes Dade accessing the school network during computer class to put himself in the same English class as Kate, and invites him to a hacker nightclub, Cyberdelia, where Dade beats Kate’s high score in the Wipeout arcade game. Soon after, Dade exacts revenge for the earlier prank by scheduling a test of the school’s sprinkler system the next day. Dade begins integrating himself into Phreak’s circle of hacker friends: Emmanuel “Cereal Killer” Goldstein (Matthew Lillard), Paul “Lord Nikon” Cook (Laurence Mason) (so named for his photographic memory), and Joey Pardella (Jesse Bradford), an aspiring novice hacker without an alias. At a party, Dade learns that Kate is “Acid Burn”, the hacker that kicked him out of the TV network earlier.Meanwhile, Joey, out to prove his skills, successfully breaks into “The Gibson”, an Ellingson Mineral Company supercomputer. He attempts to download a garbage file as proof of his feat, but his mother disconnects his computer so he’ll sleep, leaving Joey with a fragmented file. However, prior to Joey’s disconnection, the company’s IT employee Hal (Penn Jillette) detects this unauthorized entry and summons computer security officer Eugene “The Plague” Belford (Fisher Stevens), a former hacker. While going through the files, Plague realizes the garbage file being downloaded is a worm he inserted to defraud Ellingson. The Plague pretends the hackers are to blame and enlists the US Secret Service to recover the file, claiming it is the code to a computer virus (named “Da Vinci” for an image of the Vitruvian Man that accompanies it) that will capsize the company’s oil tanker fleet. In fact, The Plague had inserted the virus as a red herring to cover for his worm.Soon after, Joey is arrested and his computer is searched, but the Secret Service doesn’t find anything, as Joey had hidden the disk containing the files. In response, Dade and Kate decide to settle their disagreements with a bet, with Dade choosing a date with Kate as his prize and Kate electing to have Dade perform menial computing tasks. The hacking duel focuses on harassing Secret Service Agent Richard Gill (Wendell Pierce), “Hacker enemy number one”, who was involved in Joey’s arrest. After various pranks including canceling Gill’s credit cards, creating a fake embarrassing personal ad in Gill’s name, fabricating a criminal record, and changing his payroll status to “deceased”, the duel remains in a tie status.After being released on parole, Joey reveals the disk to Phreak in a public park; but they quickly realize that they are being followed by the Secret Service. The next day, Phreak is arrested and uses his phone call to inform Kate that he hid the disk in a boys’ bathroom at school. That evening, Kate and Cereal Killer ask Dade for his help; but he declines, stating he has “a record”. Kate then asks Dade to copy the disk so that, if anyone else is arrested, they have the disk as un-tampered evidence. After determining that Dade is not the one who hacked into Ellingson, The Plague attempts to enlist Dade’s help to find the one who did. First, he sends Dade a high-powered laptop that displays a video message from The Plague encouraging Dade to join him. Later, he threatens to have Dade’s mother incarcerated with a manufactured criminal record. At this, Dade agrees to deliver Kate’s copy of the disk.

Meanwhile, Kate, Lord Nikon, and Cereal Killer attempt to discern the contents of the disk. Dade joins them; and, after working all night, they learn the purpose of its code—a worm designed to salami-slice $25 million from Ellingson transactions. Dade confesses that he knows Plague is behind this scheme, admitting that he gave him the disk and revealing his hacking history as “Zero Cool”. Determined to stop the scheme, the assembled hackers plan to hack the Gibson again. Kate and Dade go dumpster-diving for employee memos with passwords; Cereal Killer installs a phone tap in the Ellingson offices; and Nikon poses as a delivery boy wandering the Ellingson cubicles, memorizing employee passwords as they enter them into their terminals.Reading the memos, they discover that the Da Vinci virus is set to capsize the oil fleet the next day, which would provide the perfect cover to distract from the salami-slicing worm. In need of help, Dade and Kate seek out Razor and Blade, the producers of a hacker-themed unlicensed TV show, “Hack the Planet.” Razor and Blade are at a club where Urban Dance Squad is performing and Dade and Kate manage to convince Razor and Blade to join them in disrupting The Gibson enough that the garbage file can be located and copied. Lord Nikon and Cereal Killer learn through their Ellingson phone tap that warrants for their arrest are to be executed at 9AM the next day.The next morning, after being paged by Kate, Nikon and Cereal roller-blade from Washington Square Park, evading the Secret Service after exploiting the traffic system and using a payload that reconfigures traffic lights and converge on Grand Central station, where they use payphones and acoustic couplers to begin their assault on the Gibson. At first, their attempts are easily rebuffed by Plague, who calls Dade to taunt him to escape before he is arrested. However, Razor and Blade have contacted hackers around the world, who lend their support with virus attacks, hampering the Gibson and distracting Plague long enough for Joey to download the incriminating file to a floppy disk.

Shortly after crashing the Gibson, Dade and company are arrested. As they’re being led away, Dade surreptitiously informs Cereal Killer, hiding in the crowd, that he’s tossed the disk in a trashcan. As Dade and Kate are being interrogated, Razor and Blade jam the local television signals and broadcast live video of Cereal Killer, revealing the plot and Plague’s complicity, along with the account number with the stolen funds. Plague is arrested while attempting to flee to Japan under the alias “Mr. Babbage” (itself a reference to Charles Babbage). Their names cleared, Dade and Kate go on a date at a swimming pool on the roof of a building, their friends showing off their latest hack—the lights in several adjacent office buildings spelling out “CRASH AND BURN.” Confirming that they have had dreams about each other, the two begin to make out.

Director Ian Softley handles preceedings well, and even blurs the line between fantasy and reality by showing how the hackers see the world as a labyrinth of computer connections. The film has a harsh sense of humour too, and demonstrates just how powerful a computer hacker can be. Although the dialogue and plot can be dodgy in some moments, Hackers is definitely an original and well-crafted movie adventure.

REVIEW: THE CHANGELING (2008)

CAST

Angelina Jolie (Mr and Mrs Smith)
John Malkovich (Red)
Jeffrey Donovan (Blair Witch 2)
Michael Kelly  (Man of Steel)
Colm Feore (Gotham)
Jason Butler Harner (Next)
Amy Ryan (Birdman)
Geoff Pierson (That 80s Show)
Riki Lindhome (Million Dollar Baby)
Dale Dickey (My Name Is Earl)
Gregg Binkley (Raising Hope)

In Los Angeles in 1928, single mother Christine Collins (Jolie) returns home to discover her nine-year-old son, Walter (Gattlin Griffith), is missing. Reverend Gustav Briegleb (Malkovich) publicizes Christine’s plight and rails against the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) for its incompetence, corruption and the extrajudicial punishment meted out by its “Gun Squad” led by Chief James E. Davis (Feore). Several months after Walter’s disappearance, the LAPD tells Christine that he has been found alive. Believing the positive publicity will negate recent criticism of the department, the LAPD organizes a public reunion. Although “Walter” (Devon Conti) claims he is Christine’s son, she says he is not. Captain J. J. Jones (Donovan), the head of the LAPD’s Juvenile Division, insists the boy is Walter and pressures Christine into taking him home “on a trial basis”.

After Christine confronts Jones with physical discrepancies between “Walter” and her son, Jones arranges for a medical doctor to visit her. He tells Christine that “Walter” is three inches shorter than before his disappearance because trauma has shrunk his spine, and that the man who took Walter had him circumcised. A newspaper prints a story that implies Christine is an unfit mother; Briegleb tells Christine it was planted by police to discredit her. Walter’s teacher and dentist give Christine signed letters confirming “Walter” is an impostor. Christine tells her story to the press; as a result, Jones sends her to Los Angeles County Hospital’s “psychopathic ward”. She befriends inmate Carol Dexter (Ryan), who tells Christine she is one of several women who were sent there for challenging police authority. Dr. Steele (O’Hare) deems Christine delusional and forces her to take mood-regulating pills. Steele says he will release Christine if she admits she was mistaken about “Walter”; she refuses.

Detective Ybarra (Kelly) travels to a ranch in Wineville, Riverside County, to arrange the deportation of 15-year-old Sanford Clark (Eddie Alderson) to Canada. The boy’s uncle, Gordon Northcott (Harner), has fled after a chance encounter with Ybarra, who mentions his business there being a juvenile matter. Clark tells Ybarra that Northcott forced him to help kidnap and murder around twenty children, and identifies Walter as one of them. Jones tells Briegleb that Christine is in protective custody following a mental breakdown. Jones orders Clark’s deportation, but Ybarra takes Clark to the murder site and tells him to dig where the bodies are buried. Clark hesitates, but soon uncovers body parts. Briegleb secures Christine’s release by showing Steele a newspaper story about the Wineville killings that names Walter as a possible victim. Under interrogation by Ybarra, Walter’s impostor reveals his motive was to secure transport to Los Angeles to see his favorite actor, Tom Mix, and says the police told him to lie about being Christine’s son. The police capture Northcott in Vancouver, Canada. Christine’s attorney (Pierson) secures a court order for the release of other unjustly imprisoned women who the police wanted to silence.

On the day of the city council’s hearing into the case, Christine and Briegleb arrive at Los Angeles City Hall, where they encounter thousands of protesters who are demanding answers from the city. The hearing is intercut with scenes from Northcott’s trial. The council concludes that Jones and Davis should be removed from duty, and that extrajudicial internments by police must be stopped. Northcott’s jury finds him guilty of murder and the judge sentences him to death by hanging. Two years later, Christine has not given up her search for Walter. Northcott sends her a message saying he is willing to admit to killing Walter on condition that Christine meets him before his execution. She visits Northcott, but he refuses to tell her if he killed her son. Northcott is executed the next day.

In 1935, David Clay, one of the boys assumed to have been killed, is found alive in Hesperia, California. He reveals that one of the boys with whom he was imprisoned was Walter. David, Walter, and another boy escaped, but were separated. David does not know whether Walter was recaptured, but he says Walter helped him escape, giving Christine hope he is alive.

In the epilogue, it states that after the hearing, Captain Jones was suspended, Chief Davis was demoted, and Los Angeles Mayor George Cryer chose not to run for reelection. California’s state legislature made it illegal to forcibly commit people to psychiatric facilities by mere words alone of authorities, and Rev. Briegleb continued to use his radio show to expose police misconduct and political corruption. Wineville is said to have changed its name to Mira Loma, and Christine Collins reportedly never stopped searching for her son.

This movie was based on a true story and directed by Clint Eastwood in a gritty, no-frills style. There isn’t a lot of action, but it definitely holds your interest until the very end. Jolie gives a strong performance as the mother who wouldn’t stop looking for her son, even when she battled the corrupt police chief. Jolie is on-screen just about every minute and is a formidable screen presence. She and the rest of the cast, including John Malkovich, are all good in this very somber and intense piece

REVIEW: SHARK TALE

CAST

Will Smith (Suicide Squad)
Robert De Niro (Joy)
Renee Zellweger (Jerry Maguire)
Jack Black (Goosebumps)
Angelina Jolie (Salt)
Michael Imperioli (Goodfellas)
Vincent Pastore (Revolver)
Peter Falk (The Princess Bride)

In Reef City, an underachieving bluestreak cleaner wrasse named Oscar fantasizes about being rich and famous while making his way to work as a tongue scrubber at the local Whale Wash, a job in which he is following in his father’s footsteps. Soon after arriving he is called to the office of his boss, a pufferfish named Sykes, to discuss the fact that he owes “five thousand clams” and has to pay it back by the next day. After explaining this to his angelfish best friend Angie, she offers him a chance to pay back the money by pawning a pink pearl that was a gift from her grandmother. Oscar brings the money to the race track to meet Sykes, but becomes distracted by his dreams of grandeur. Upon hearing that the race is rigged, he places it all on a long-shot bet by the name of “Lucky Day”. Such a million dollar bet is noticed nearby by a beautiful lionfish named Lola, who flagrantly seduces an excited Oscar, but Oscar is disappointed when she leaves upon learning that he is a whale washer. Sykes is furious that Oscar bet the money but nonetheless agrees to see how the race turns out. Moments before their betted “horse” crosses the finish line, he trips and falls on the line.Meanwhile, on another side of the ocean in the wreck of the R.M.S Titanic, a family of criminally-inclined great white sharks has a problem with one of their sons, Lenny, who is a vegetarian and refuses to act the part of a killer, wishing not to have to live up to those expectations. His crime lord father, Don Edward Lino, orders Lenny’s more savage older brother Frankie to tutor Lenny in the family business. After the two sharks depart their father, Frankie sees Oscar being electrocuted by Sykes’ two jellyfish enforcers Ernie and Bernie and sends Lenny off to attack. The jellyfish spot Lenny and flee, leaving Oscar alone with him. Instead of attacking Oscar, Lenny frees him, upsetting Frankie who becomes annoyed and charges at Oscar. However, Frankie is killed when an anchor falls on him. Lenny flees, overcome with grief and guilt. As no other witnesses were present and Oscar was seen near the body, everyone comes to believe that he killed Frankie, an opportunity that Oscar decides to exploit for fame.Oscar returns to the city with a new title of the Sharkslayer. Sykes becomes his manager, Lola becomes his girlfriend, and Oscar moves to the “top of the reef” to live in luxury. At the same time, after Frankie’s funeral, Don Lino has everyone out looking for Lenny. When several sharks get close to Oscar’s neighborhood, Oscar’s neighbors expect him to drive them away so he goes and runs into Lenny. Since he does not wish to return home, Lenny forces Oscar to let him stay with him since he is aware of Oscar’s lie. Soon, Angie finds out about the lie as well and threatens to tell everyone. Oscar and Lenny convince her to keep quiet, though she is heartbroken by Oscar’s dishonesty. Oscar’s situation is not helped by the shallowed Lola, who indicates to him that her interest in him extends only as far as he remains famous. With Don Lino planning revenge, Oscar and Lenny stage an event in which Lenny pretends to terrorize the town and Oscar must defeat him throwing him into the depths of the ocean. Though this further cements Oscar as the Sharkslayer, it greatly angers Don Lino. Oscar leaves Lola for Angie after Angie reveals that she had feelings for Oscar even before he became famous, but this leaves the rebuffed Lola determined to get revengeOscar buys some Valentine’s Day gifts for Angie, but before he can present them to her, he finds that Don Lino has kidnapped Angie to force a sit-down. Lenny comes along now disguised as a dolphin named Sebastian. They arrive at the meeting to find Lola next to Don Lino, while Angie is tied up and gagged and presented to Don Lino on a plate who prepares to eat her if Oscar does not comply. Lenny grabs Angie into his mouth, but later regurgitates her. When Don Lino realizes that “Sebastian” is really Lenny, he chases Oscar through the reef. Oscar heads for the Whale Wash and ends up trapping both sharks. He is given an ovation by the other fish, but Oscar confesses that he is not a “Sharkslayer” and reveals the truth behind Frankie’s death. He then tells Don Lino that everyone likes Lenny for who he is and strongly urges him not to prejudge people before he knows them properly and make the mistakes he made in prejudging his wealth. Realizing that Oscar is right, Don Lino apologizes to Lenny and reconciles with him while making peace with Oscar, stating that he and his gang bear him no ill will. Oscar forsakes all the wealth he has acquired, makes peace with the sharks, becomes co-manager of the Whale Wash (now frequented by sharks, killer whales, and swordfish), and starts dating Angie and enjoys a happy, honest life. During the credits, Lola tries to find Oscar to make amends, but all she finds is a hermit crab named Crazy Joe, one of Oscar’s friends.Although this is a cartoon movie, it suggests it is for children, however, it is most definatly for all ages. I really enjoyed the humour of this film. Will Smith & Robert De Niro as the main characters was an excellent choice for voice overs for their respective characters. Great Film.