REVIEW: BODY OF LIES

Starring

Leonardo DiCaprio (Inception)
Russell Crowe (The Mummy)
Mark Strong (Shazam)
Golshifteh Farahani (The Upside)
Oscar Isaac (X-Men: Apocalypse)
Ali Suliman (The Kingdom)
Alon Abutbul (Rambi III)
Vince Colosimo (The Great Gatsby)
Simon McBurney (The Conjuring 2)
Michael Gaston (W)
Annabelle Wallis (The Mummy)
Michael Stuhlbarg (The Post)

Russell Crowe in Body of Lies (2008)Roger Ferris (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a CIA case officer in Iraq, tracking a terrorist called Al-Saleem (Alon Abutbul). He meets Nizar, a member of the terrorist organization who is prepared to offer information in return for asylum in North America. Despite the objections of his boss, Ed Hoffman (Russell Crowe), Ferris agrees to shelter Nizar. Nizar is used as a pawn to draw out the rest of his cell; when Nizar is captured, Ferris is forced to shoot him to prevent his exposing the identities of Ferris and his associate, Bassam (Oscar Isaac). However, furious at Hoffman’s refusal to act on the information Nizar provided, Ferris and Bassam go to search the safe house in Balad, Iraq, Nizar had told them about. Ferris observes men burning records and attempts to bluff his way in but is exposed. In the ensuing shootout and chase, Ferris and Bassam’s vehicle is hit by an RPG. Ferris and some salvaged discs are rescued by helicopter, but Bassam is killed in the explosion.Leonardo DiCaprio in Body of Lies (2008)Meanwhile, unknown terrorists in the UK plan to follow up on bus bombings in Sheffield with more attacks in Manchester, but they blow themselves up when the police arrive at their house. Having recovered from his injuries, Ferris is assigned to Jordan to continue searching for Al-Saleem. There, Ferris meets with and negotiates a collaboration with Hani Salaam (Mark Strong), head of the Jordanian General Intelligence Directorate. From the intelligence Ferris harvested from the Balad safe house, Hoffman locates an Al-Saleem safe house in Jordan and orders Ferris to watch it. Simultaneously, Hoffman organizes (unbeknownst to Ferris) a “side operation” via a local agency. Ferris’ CIA subordinate, Skip (Vince Colosimo), identifies the local agency asset as Ziyad Abishi.Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Strong in Body of Lies (2008)Abishi blows his cover with a terrorist from the safe house. The terrorist flees to inform his colleagues of their exposure, and Ferris chases and kills him in such a place and manner that implies the death is a random robbery. Salaam (via “back channels”) corroborates this interpretation of killing with those who remain at the safe house. Ferris lambastes Hoffman for running “side operations” which he feels are interfering with and undermining the operational integrity of the primary operation and tells Hoffman to stop. While going to the hospital to receive rabies shots for dog bites he suffered while eliminating the terrorist, Ferris meets a nurse named Aisha (Golshifteh Farahani) and begins developing romantic feelings for her. In Europe the bombers strike again at an Amsterdam flower market, killing 75 people and wounding hundreds more.Leonardo DiCaprio in Body of Lies (2008)Having recognized one of the men living in the safe house as former small-time criminal Mustaffa Karami (Kais Nashef), Salaam takes Karami into the desert and coerces him into working for Jordanian intelligence, threatening to set him up as a collaborator if he does not co-operate. Hoffman asks Salaam to use Karami, but he refuses, believing a greater return will come later. Unbeknownst to Ferris and Salaam, Hoffman tells Skip to follow Karami and kidnap him. Karami escapes and notifies the terrorists in the safe house that it is being watched, and they abandon it. Ferris’ partner is caught. Salaam accuses Ferris of having had knowledge of the move on Karami, blames Ferris’ duplicity with him for the destruction of the safe house, and exiles Ferris from Jordan.Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Strong in Body of Lies (2008)Ferris returns to Hoffman in Washington, and they devise a new plan to find Al-Saleem. Suspecting he is motivated more by pride than ideology, they stage a fake terrorist attack and set up Omar Sadiki (Ali Suliman), an innocent Jordanian architect, as its instigator, hoping Al-Saleem will come out of hiding and attempt to contact him. Al-Saleem sees TV news coverage of the attack and takes the bait. Salaam invites Ferris back to Jordan and shares his suspicions that Omar Sadiki is a terrorist, although Ferris feigns ignorance. Ferris later tries to save Sadiki from being kidnapped by Al-Saleem’s henchmen but fails and sees his partner nearly killed in the subsequent car crash. Under interrogation, Sadiki denies any knowledge of the attack, although he is later found beaten and killed.Russell Crowe and Leonardo DiCaprio in Body of Lies (2008)Ferris goes back to his apartment and discovers that Aisha has been kidnapped. He desperately asks Salaam for help, admitting he fabricated Omar Sadiki’s terrorist cell and the attack. Salaam refuses to help because of Ferris’ having lied to him earlier. Ferris offers himself in exchange to Aisha’s kidnappers and is brought to the middle of the desert, with Hoffman watching everything via a surveillance drone. Ferris is surrounded by a group of SUVs, which circle him to create an obscuring dust cloud before picking him up. The dust cloud blocks Hoffman’s view, so that he cannot determine which of the SUVs, now headed in different directions, is carrying Ferris. Ferris is taken across the border to Syria, where he is to be interrogated by Al-Saleem. When Ferris asks Al-Saleem about Aisha, he is told that someone has lied to him and that he has been double-crossed. Ferris tells Al-Saleem that there is an infiltrator (Karami) in his organization who works for Ferris, and that, by association, Al-Saleem works for Ferris. Al-Saleem does not believe Ferris, beats him, turns on a video camera, and orders his execution. Salaam and his agents arrive at the last moment, saving Ferris’ life. Al-Saleem is shown arrested in his own SUV by Marwan Se-Kia, Salaam’s security officer.Russell Crowe and Leonardo DiCaprio in Body of Lies (2008)Salaam visits Ferris in the hospital, and reveals he had faked Aisha’s abduction and orchestrated Ferris’ capture by Al-Saleem using Karami as a go-between. Having lost the will to fight in this particular “war”, Ferris goes off the grid and goes to see Aisha again.Russell Crowe and Leonardo DiCaprio in Body of Lies (2008)All in a it’s certainly worth the time to see, but ultimately a good popcorn flick rather than a more substantive film.

REVIEW: X-MEN: FIRST CLASS

CAST

James McAvoy (Wanted)
Michael Fassbender (Prometheus)
Kevin Bacon (Friday the 13th)
Rose Byrne (Bridesmaids)
Jennifer Lawrence (The Hunger Games)
Oliver Platt (2012)
Alex Gonzalez (Tierra de Lobos)
Jason Flemyng (Hanna)
Zoe Kravitz (Divergent)
January Jones (American Pie: The Wedding)
Nicholas Hoult (Mad Max: Fury Road)
Caleb Landry Jones (Contraband)
Edi Gathegi (Beauty and The Beast)
Lucas Til (Battle Los Angeles)
James Remar (Mortal Kombat 2)
Ray Wise (Robocop)
Brendan Fehr (Roswell)
Michael Ironside (Terminator Salvation)
Hugh Jackman (Real Steel)
Rebecca Romijn (Ugly Betty)
Matt Craven (Sharp Objects)
Glenn Morshower (Transformers)
Rade Serbedzija (Batman Begins)
James Faulkner (Gameof Thrones)
Annabelle Wallis (The Mummy)
Jason Beghe (Home Alone 4)

In 1944, in a German concentration camp in occupied Poland, Nazi scientist Dr. Klaus Schmidt witnesses a young Erik Lensherr bend a metal gate with his mind when the child is separated from his mother. In his office, Schmidt orders Lensherr to move a coin on his desk, and kills the boy’s mother when Lensherr cannot. In grief and anger, Lensherr’s magnetic power manifests, killing two guards and destroying the room. Meanwhile, at a mansion in Westchester County, New York, child telepath Charles Xavier meets young shapeshifter Raven, whose natural form is blue-skinned and scaly. Overjoyed to meet someone else “different”, he invites her to live with his family as his foster sister.
Jennifer Lawrence in X: First Class (2011)
In 1962, Lensherr is tracking down Schmidt, while Xavier graduates from the University of Oxford with a thesis about mutation. In Las Vegas, CIA officer Moira MacTaggert follows U.S. Army Colonel Hendry into the Hellfire Club, where she sees Schmidt (now known as Sebastian Shaw), with mutant telepath Emma Frost, cyclone-producing Riptide, and teleporter Azazel. Threatened by Shaw and teleported by Azazel to the Joint War Room, Hendry advocates deployment of nuclear missiles in Turkey. Shaw, an energy-absorbing mutant, later kills Hendry.
MacTaggert, seeking Xavier’s advice on mutation, takes him and Raven to the CIA, where they convince Director McCone that mutants exist and Shaw is a threat. Another CIA officer sponsors the mutants and invites them to the secret “Division X” facility. MacTaggert and Xavier find Shaw as Lensherr is attacking him, and rescue Lensherr from drowning, while Shaw escapes. Xavier brings Lensherr to Division X, where they meet young scientist Hank McCoy, a mutant with prehensile feet, who believes Raven’s DNA may provide a “cure” for their appearance. Xavier uses McCoy’s mutant-locating device Cerebro to seek recruits against Shaw. Xavier and Lensherr recruit stripper Angel Salvadore, cabbie Armando Muñoz, Army prisoner Alex Summers, and a conceited Sean Cassidy. They all create nicknames, and Raven dubs herself “Mystique”.
James McAvoy in X: First Class (2011)
When Frost meets with a Soviet general in the USSR, Xavier and Lensherr capture Frost and discover that Shaw intends to start World War III and trigger mutant ascendency. Azazel, Riptide and Shaw attack Division X, killing everyone but the mutants, whom Shaw invites to join him. Salvadore accepts; when Summers and Muñoz retaliate, Shaw kills Muñoz. Xavier takes the mutants to his family’s mansion for training. In Moscow, Shaw compels the general to have the USSR install missiles in Cuba. Wearing a helmet that blocks telepathy, Shaw follows the Soviet fleet in a submarine to ensure the missiles break a US blockade.
Raven, thinking McCoy likes her in her natural form, tells him not to use the cure. When she later attempts to seduce Lensherr by taking the forms of various women, Lensherr tells her she is beautiful in her blue mutant form. McCoy uses the cure on himself but it backfires, giving him blue fur and leonine aspects. With McCoy piloting, the mutants and MacTaggert take a jet to the blockade line, where Lensherr uses his magnetic power to lift Shaw’s submarine from the water and deposit it on land. During the ensuing battle, Lensherr seizes Shaw’s helmet, allowing Xavier to immobilize Shaw. Lensherr tells Shaw he shares Shaw’s exclusivist view of mutants but, to avenge his mother, kills Shaw—over Xavier’s objections—by forcing the Nazi coin from his childhood through Shaw’s brain.
Fearing the mutants, both fleets fire missiles at them, which Lensherr turns back in mid-flight. MacTaggert tries to stop Lensherr by shooting him but he deflects the bullets, one of which hits Xavier in the spine. Lensherr rushes to help Xavier and, distracted, allows the missiles to fall harmlessly into the ocean. Parting with Xavier over their differing views on the relationship between mutants and humans, Lensherr leaves with Salvadore, Azazel, Riptide and Mystique. Later, a wheelchair-bound Xavier and his mutants are at the mansion, where he intends to open a school. MacTaggert promises never to reveal his location and they kiss; later at a CIA debriefing, she says she has no memory of recent events. Elsewhere Lensherr, now calling himself “Magneto”, frees Frost from confinement.
X-Men: First Class” is a top notch film with a heck of a lot of plot packed into it’s 2 hour and 12 minute running time. Part of the success of the film certainly can be attributed to director Mathew Vaughn’s (who, interestingly, was originally to direct “X Men: The Last Stand” after Bryan Singer departed but before Brett Ratner stepped in) unique take on the material as well as Bryan Singer’s involvement again with the series.

REVIEW: ANNABELLE

CAST

Annabelle Wallis (X-Men: First Class)
Ward Horton (The Wolf of Wall Street)
Tony Amendola (Stargate SG.1)
Alfre Woodard (Star Trek: First Contact)
Kerry O’Malley (The Happening)
Brian Howe (Deja Vu)
Eric Ladin (The Killing)
Ivar Brogger (Andromeda)
Gabriel Bateman (Child’s Play)

The film starts with the same opening scene from The Conjuring, in which two young women and a young man are telling Ed and Lorraine Warren about their experiences with a doll called Annabelle which they believe is haunted. In 1969, John and Mia Form live in Santa Monica and are expecting their first child. John gives her a doll that she has been trying to find. At night, Mia hears a murder occurring at their neighbors’, the Higgins. When Mia calls the police, she is attacked by a woman holding the doll and a male accomplice. John and the police arrive and kill the man while the woman kills herself by slitting her own throat. A drop of her blood falls on the face of the doll in her arms. A news report shows that the assailants were Annabelle Higgins and her boyfriend. They are said to have been part of the Disciples of the Ram, a satanic cult, in which they worship a demon with horns.
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Since Annabelle was holding the doll while dying, Mia asks John to throw it away. Later, after a fire caused by the doll, Mia trips over furniture escaping from the fire and goes into labor. Mia gives birth to a healthy baby girl named Leah. The family moves into a new apartment and Mia finds the doll they thought they had discarded. More strange activity plagues Mia and her new baby. She contacts the detective, who informs her of Annabelle’s history in a cult that seeks to summon a demon by claiming a soul. Mia goes to a bookstore run by a woman named Evelyn and determines that the presence haunting her wants Leah’s soul. Evelyn tells Mia that she had a daughter named Ruby who died in a car accident caused by Evelyn. She was so guilt-ridden that she attempted suicide. However, she claims to have heard Ruby’s voice telling her it wasn’t her time.
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The couple contacts their church’s priest, Father Perez, who tries to take the doll with him to church. Annabelle’s ghost attacks him, and the doll disappears. Perez warns John that it was Annabelle’s spirit that caused his injuries. During another attack, Annabelle appears to levitate, but Mia sees the demon holding Annabelle, manipulating its actions. Mia attempts to kill Annabelle and asks him if there is another way, and it says that she can offer him her soul. John and Evelyn break open the door to find Mia ready to jump out the window with Annabelle. John saves Mia; Evelyn takes hold of Annabelle and decides to make the sacrifice, knowing this is the way she can atone for Ruby’s death. Evelyn then jumps out of the window to her death. However, the Annabelle doll disappears. Six months later, the Forms have moved on and have not seen Annabelle since then. Elsewhere, the mother of one of the girls in the opening scene purchases Annabelle as a gift for her child. The ending text states that the real Annabelle doll resides in a case in Ed and Lorraine Warren’s museum and that it is blessed by a priest twice a month to keep the public safe from the evil that the doll possesses.

Annabelle film still

A good movie. The start goes back to the start of the movie The Conjuring and is set a few years before. It is supposedly based on true events, though the Anabelle doll in the movie is much creepier than the real life one was. It is a good storyline and there are a few scary moments. If you liked the Conjuring you may like this movie.