REVIEW: PAIN & GAIN

 

CAST

Mark Wahlberg (Contraband)
Dwayne Johsnon (Fast & Furious 8)
Anthony Mackie (The Hurt Locker)
Tony Shalhoub (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Ed Harris (The Truman Show)
Rob Corddry (W.)
Rebel Wilson (Grimsby)
Ken Jeong (The Hangover)
Bar Paly (Non-Stop)
Michael Rispoli (Kick-Ass)
Tony Plana (Tony Plana)
Emily Rutherfurd (Van Wilder)
Peter Stormare (Arrow)
Brian Stepanek (Young Sheldon)

Mark Wahlberg, Tony Shalhoub, and Dwayne Johnson in Pain & Gain (2013)In 1995, schemer Daniel Lugo (Mark Wahlberg) is a recently released convict who had served time for Medicare fraud. Sun Gym owner John Mese (Rob Corddry) hires him to increase membership and make the gym more fitness-based. Lugo increases the gym’s membership by 75% within six weeks and befriends trainer Adrian Doorbal (Anthony Mackie), a bodybuilder rendered impotent due to his steroid use. Lugo soon lusts after the earnings and lifestyle achieved by Victor Kershaw (Tony Shalhoub), a sleazy new member he begins to train, who Lugo believes is a crook. Inspired by motivational speaker Jonny Wu (Ken Jeong), Lugo decides to be a “do-er” and hatches a plan to extort Kershaw for his assets by kidnapping and torturing him.Mark Wahlberg and Anthony Mackie in Pain & Gain (2013)Lugo recruits accomplices Doorbal and Paul Doyle (Dwayne Johnson), a recently released, cocaine-addicted convict who has turned to Christianity. Though Doyle is reluctant to join the team, he soon acquiesces after a violent altercation with his priest. This “Sun Gym gang” unsuccessfully attempts to kidnap Kershaw at home, and a second time in public, but later incapacitates him with a taser outside his deli and takes him to a small warehouse he owns (which is stocked with sex toys). The kidnappers wear masks and Lugo disguises his voice, but Kershaw identifies Lugo from his distinctive cologne. The scheme goes as planned otherwise: Kershaw makes calls, under duress, to provide false explanations for his disappearance, gets his family to move out of state, and signs the documents that transfer his assets to Lugo. Lugo even bribes John Mese to notarize documents in Kershaw’s absence, by presenting documents signed by Kershaw and using Kershaw’s money to sponsor the Sun Gym.Dwayne Johnson and Bar Paly in Pain & Gain (2013)The Sun Gym gang is able to collect Kershaw’s money and assets, but they realize releasing him is a bad idea. Therefore, Lugo concocts a plan to kill Kershaw by forcing him to drink liquor and crash his BMW, making it appear like a drunk driving accident. When Kershaw survives the crash, the gang burns the car with Kershaw in it. Kershaw escapes the blazing vehicle, so the gang runs over his body, twice, and leave him for dead. Unbeknownst to them, Kershaw survives and is hospitalized. The Sun Gym gang members spoil themselves with Kershaw’s riches. Lugo takes over Kershaw’s car and his home in a ritzy Miami suburb; Doorbal marries the nurse who has been treating his impotence, Robin (Rebel Wilson), and uses his cut to purchase penile erection treatments; and Doyle abandons his restraints of religion and sobriety, and blows away his money on cocaine and his new stripper girlfriend. Kershaw reports what happened to the police, but they are turned off by his unpleasant manner and do not believe his bizarre story even when he gives them Daniel Lugo’s name, particularly because of Kershaw’s blood alcohol level, and the fact that Kershaw was born in a South American country well known for its involvement in the drug trade. He then contacts Ed Du Bois, III (Ed Harris), a retired private investigator – who declines to take the case but warns Kershaw to quickly leave the hospital before the gang returns to kill him. Kershaw takes his advice and hides in a cheap motel. Upon reflection, Du Bois takes Kershaw’s case and tails the Sun Gym gang. He visits the Sun Gym and meets with Lugo, who becomes suspicious after Du Bois mentions Kershaw’s name.Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, and Anthony Mackie in Pain & Gain (2013)When Kershaw furiously calls Mese about his stolen money, Lugo, Doyle, and Doorbal *69 the call, thereby identifying where it originated, and go to the motel to kill Kershaw; however, they arrive too late, as he has checked himself out and is hiding at an abandoned baseball stadium. When Lugo and Doorbal discover that Du Bois is paying for Kershaw’s room using his own credit card, they plan to kidnap Du Bois at his home. They arrive at the house, but the plot is thwarted when the police stop by to drop off Du Bois. In order to evade arrest, Lugo and Doorbal run and jump off Du Bois’ dock into the water. Du Bois gets a message from Kershaw and goes to the stadium to take him home. Meanwhile, Doyle (who has wasted all of his share of the spoils) attempts to rob an armored car. However, dye packs planted in the money bag explode, and he narrowly escapes the police, getting his toe shot off in the process. He and Doorbal (who depleted his share on payments for treatments, his and Robin’s wedding, and a new home) explain to Lugo they need more money, and the gang plans another kidnapping.Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, and Anthony Mackie in Pain & Gain (2013)They target the wealthy Frank Griga (Michael Rispoli), who owns a phone sex operation. After a promising discussion at Griga’s mansion, the gang invites Griga and his wife Krisztina Furton (Keili Lefkovitz) to Doorbal’s home to propose an investment scheme. Griga insists on meeting with someone more senior and questions Lugo’s amateurish business savvy. This angers Lugo, who attacks Griga and accidentally kills him. Krisztina discovers this and tries to shoot Lugo, but Doorbal injects her with a potent horse tranquilizer. Lugo and Doyle try to use the combination obtained from a heavily sedated Krisztina to open a safe at her and Griga’s home, but the combination does not work. When Krisztina rouses and tries to escape, Doorbal gives her a second injection, accidentally causing her to fatally overdose. Lugo and Doorbal purchase equipment to dismember and dispose of the bodies and dump the parts in oil drums (which they sink in a secluded swamp outside Miami), while Doyle incinerates their hands on a barbecue grill to eliminate their fingerprints. Doyle, perturbed by the violence he committed, leaves the gang and returns to the priest’s church. The police learn of Griga and Krisztina’s disappearances, and with evidence from Du Bois, they set a plan to arrest the Sun Gym gang.Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, and Anthony Mackie in Pain & Gain (2013)The film returns to June 17: the police arrest Doyle at the church, Doorbal at home, and Mese at the Sun Gym. Lugo, also at the gym, spots the approaching police force and flees. Although struck by a police cruiser, he escapes and heads out by sea in Kershaw’s speedboat. Kershaw and Du Bois deduce Lugo is going after the former’s hidden bank account in Nassau, Bahamas and accompany the police to capture him. Lugo’s pursuers catch up with him, and he attempts to escape. Du Bois shoots Lugo, Kershaw chases him in a car and incapacitates him, and the authorities arrest him. Lugo is brought back to the United States and stands trial with Doyle, Doorbal, and Mese. At the trial, Doyle rolls over on Doorbal and Lugo with a full confession, and meanwhile Robin has divorced Doorbal the night before and testifies against him. Ultimately, the four are convicted.Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, and Anthony Mackie in Pain & Gain (2013)

The end credits reveal the fates of the main characters:

Daniel Lugo was sentenced to death, plus 30 days for “being an asshole” to a guard.
Adrian Doorbal was sentenced to death.
Paul Doyle, for his full confession, was sentenced to 15 years, served seven years, was released, tried to apologize, and converted back to Christianity.
John Mese was sentenced to 15 years and died in prison.
Victor Kershaw’s name was changed in the film to protect the survivor.
Sorina Luminita’s name was changed in the film to protect the survivor. She’s currently not a movie star.

The movie ends with Lugo’s saying: “That’s the American dream”.Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, and Anthony Mackie in Pain & Gain (2013)Wahlberg and Johnson, what’s not to like! A lot of controversy about this film, but I don’t think they make light of the deaths of those people. It’s quite dark and gory in places, and you kind of feel sorry for Johnson’s character but his character doesn’t actually exist in real life, rather he is a conglomerate of several people. I think you have to remember that its just a movie and that the real people who committed the crimes were sick and very stupid and were given the death penalty. I think it’s an interesting take on a real life story.

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REVIEW: RUNNER, RUNNER

CAST

Justin Timberlake (The Social Network)
Ben Affleck (Justice League)
Gemma Arterton (The Voices)
Anthony Mackie (Captain America: Civil War)
Oliver Cooper (Project X)
Michael Esper (American Gun)
Yul Vazquez (Traffic)
John Heard (Home Alone)
Bob Gunton (Daredevil)

Richie Furst used to have a lucrative career on Wall Street; this history prevents him from receiving tuition assistance at Princeton, so he funds his master’s degree by referring students to online gambling, for which he receives a cut. After the dean threatens to expel him for these activities, Richie tries to win his tuition using his excellent poker skills in online gambling, but he loses all his money to a cheater, something he is able to prove by statistics.Richie travels to Costa Rica to confront Ivan Block, who runs the biggest empire of online gambling websites in the world, including the one Richie lost his money on. After Ivan sees the statistics, he finds coders have coded the software to allow them to cheat. After firing those involved, Ivan tells Richie he’ll pay him millions per year to stay in Costa Rica and assist with the site.Richie slowly begins a romantic relationship with Rebecca Shafran, ex-lover of Ivan, who appears to have no objections. Ivan has Richie blackmail a gaming affiliate with videos of his infidelity to force him to sign with Ivan. FBI agent Shavers kidnaps Richie and threatens to ruin his life in various ways if he does not assist in a conviction of Ivan Block. Shavers cannot do anything legally as he has no authority in Costa Rica, but he takes advantage of this to use tactics that would be illegal and unethical for law enforcement inside the United States. Ivan tells Richie that everyone in the organization ends up confronted by Shavers at some point.Over time, Ivan’s organization is revealed to be less than ethical. He sends Richie to bribe Costa Rica gaming director Herrera with too small a payment, which leads to Richie being beaten. Ivan tells him it comes with the territory of such a lucrative career. When Richie tries to leave the country, Shavers has drugs planted in his bag and offers to overlook it if Richie agrees to cooperate. A local police officer reveals that the police dislike Ivan but that he would buy his way out of any trouble and destroy whoever tried to take him down. Richie’s friend Andrew Cronin, who works on the software design for Ivan, suggests that Ivan is running a Ponzi scheme; the players’ accounts have no actual money, and Ivan uses the money as his own bank account, keeping just enough to allow players to cash out when they need to. Aware that Richie might be wanting out, Ivan buys the massive poker debts of Richie’s father and brings him to Costa Rica, using him as a hostage.Ivan throws Herrera and his bodyguard into the river to get eaten by the crocodiles, but pulls them out before they are eaten. Cronin disappears and is later found nearly beaten to death. Thanks to Rebecca betraying Ivan, Richie finds out that Ivan has been setting him up all along; Ivan is about to move his operations out of Costa Rica, planning to leave Richie behind as the fall guy. Richie gives out massive bribes to local officials, including low-level police officers. When the movement day hits, Ivan calls to sarcastically apologize to Richie, telling him he will be busted, as Ivan flies away on a private jet. When Ivan lands, he finds he has been betrayed: the bribed pilot has instead flown him to Puerto Rico, an American territory. Shavers and other FBI agents move in to arrest him as Richie and Rebecca fly away on the private jet. Shavers says they’re free to go because Richie left a flash drive for him containing sufficient evidence to convict Ivan.This movie was a fictional, largely accurate and very entertaining portrayal of the on-line gambling industry … a wild, wholly and unregulated billion dollar industry. The acting was good, the glitz entertaining and kept my interest from the opening scenes to its end.

REVIEW: MAN ON A LEDGE

CAST

Sam Worthington (Avatar)
Elizabeth Banks (Power Rangers)
Jamie Bell (King Kong)
Anthony Mackie (Captain America: The Winter Soldier)
Génesis Rodríguez (Hours)
Ed Harris (Westworld)
Kyra Sedgwick (The Woodsman)
Edward Burns (One Missed Call)
Titus Welliver (Gone Baby Gone)
Felix Solis (The West Wing)
William Sadler (Iron Man 3)

In New York City, Nick Cassidy (Sam Worthington) checks into the Roosevelt Hotel under the false name of Walker, goes to his hotel room on the 21st floor, and climbs on the ledge, ready to commit suicide. The crowd below calls the police, with Dante Marcus (Titus Welliver) controlling the crowd, while Jack Dougherty (Edward Burns) tries to talk with Nick. However, Nick will only speak to negotiator Lydia Mercer (Elizabeth Banks), who is on a leave of absence, after failing to save a suicidal policeman. Lydia arrives at the hotel room and manages to acquire Nick’s fingerprints from a cigarette they share. Dougherty has them analyzed and discovers that Nick is an ex-policeman, arrested for stealing the $40 million Monarch diamond from businessman David Englander (Ed Harris). Nick was given a 25-year sentence but escaped from the Sing Sing Correctional Facility one month earlier, after being allowed to attend his father’s funeral. Nick, however, maintains his innocence and accuses Englander of framing him for the theft of the diamond, as Englander lost his fortune and was too proud to sell the diamond.Unknown to the police, Nick is merely distracting them while his brother, Joey (Jamie Bell), and Joey’s girlfriend, Angie (Génesis Rodríguez), break into Englander’s vault across the street, to steal the diamond and prove Nick’s innocence. Meanwhile, Dougherty informs Marcus of Nick’s identity, and Marcus orders the jewelry store’s security to check the vault. Joey and Angie are able to evade them but do not find the diamond. They set off the alarms, tricking Englander into retrieving the diamond and ambush him, stealing the diamond at gunpoint. Meanwhile, Nick’s ex-partner, Mike Ackerman (Anthony Mackie), arrives at the hotel with evidence that Nick is planning something and demands to be allowed into the hotel room. Lydia does not trust him, and Dougherty backs her up. Ackerman claims he has found bomb schematics in a storage unit Nick rented and is convinced that he will detonate an explosive somewhere. While the crowd is evacuated by the bomb squad, Lydia, believing in Nick’s innocence, calls Internal Affairs and discovers that three of the cops employed by Englander were suspected of being corrupt: Ackerman, Marcus and a deceased officer called Walker.Joey and Angie enter the hotel and hand the bag containing the diamond to the hotel concierge (William Sadler). The concierge pockets the diamond. Englander calls Marcus, one of the men who helped him frame Nick, and has him capture Joey and Angie. Nick begins to make his escape through the hotel, at one point being aided by the concierge who tells him “everyone is rooting for you, kid,” while handing him a disguise (and the diamond). Marcus chases Nick to the roof, where he has Lydia arrested for obstruction. Englander brings Joey and Angie, threatening to throw Joey off the roof, if Nick does not give him the diamond. Nick turns it over, and Englander leaves. Meanwhile, Lydia escapes custody and rushes back to the roof. Marcus attempts to force Nick to jump off the roof, but Ackerman arrives and shoots Marcus, who wounds Ackerman. Nick rushes to Ackerman’s side, who apologizes and reveals that he had no idea that Englander would frame Nick for stealing the diamond. Marcus survives, as he is wearing a bulletproof vest, and is preparing to kill Nick, when Lydia shoots him, but does not kill him. Nick jumps from the roof onto an airbag set up earlier by the police, catches up to Englander, beats him and pulls the diamond he had only just recently given him from his jacket, proving Nick’s innocence in front of both the police and public, resulting in Englander being arrested.Later, Nick is cleared of all charges and released from custody and meets Joey, Angie, and Lydia at a bar. There it is revealed that the hotel concierge is in fact Nick and Joey’s father, Frank Cassidy, who had faked his own death in order to help Nick break out of prison and prove his innocence. Joey proposes to Angie with a diamond ring presumably stolen from Englander’s vault. She accepts and they all celebrate together.Man on a ledge is a good film, and if you stick with it & follow it’s threads you will find it worthy of your time.

REVIEW: ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER

CAST

Benjamin Walker (The War Boys)
Dominic Cooper (Dracula Untold)
Anthony Mackie (Captain America: Civil War)
Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Swiss Army Man)
Rufus Sewell (Hercules)
Marton Csokas (The Bourne Supremacy)
Jimmi Simpson (Westworld)
Joseph Mawle (Game of Thrones)
Alan Tudyk (Powerless)

In 1818, Abraham Lincoln (Benjamin Walker) lives in Indiana with his parents, Nancy (Robin McLeavy) and Thomas (Joseph Mawle), who works at a plantation owned by Jack Barts (Marton Csokas). There, Lincoln rushes to the aid of his friend, a young African American boy, William Johnson (Anthony Mackie), being beaten by a slaver. Because of his son’s actions, Thomas is fired. That night, Lincoln sees Barts break into his house and attack Nancy. She falls ill the following day, and dies shortly afterwards. Thomas tells Lincoln that Barts poisoned Nancy.
Nine years later in 1827, a vengeful Lincoln tries to kill Barts at the docks, but Barts, who is actually a vampire, overpowers him. However, before Barts can kill him, Lincoln is rescued by Henry Sturgess (Dominic Cooper). Sturgess explains that vampires exist, and offers to teach Lincoln to be a vampire hunter. Lincoln accepts and, after a decade of training, travels to Springfield, Illinois. During his training, Sturgess tells Lincoln that the vampires in America descend from Adam (Rufus Sewell), a vampire who owns a plantation in New Orleans with his sister, Vadoma (Erin Wasson). Sturgess also tells Lincoln of the vampires’ weakness, silver, and presents him with a silver pocket watch.
In Springfield, Lincoln befriends shopkeeper Joshua Speed (Jimmi Simpson), and meets Mary Todd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). Though Sturgess warned him not to form any close relationships, Lincoln develops romantic feelings for Mary. Lincoln successfully finds and defeats Barts. Before dying, Barts reveals that Sturgess is also a vampire. Lincoln confronts Sturgess, who reveals that, several years ago, he was attacked and bitten by Adam. Because Sturgess’ soul was impure, he became a vampire, and that prevented him from harming Adam or any other vampire (since “Only the living can kill the dead”). Sturgess has since been training vampire hunters, hoping to destroy Adam.
Disappointed, Lincoln decides to abandon his mission. However, Adam learns of his activities and kidnaps Johnson to lure Lincoln into a trap at his plantation. Adam captures Lincoln and tries to recruit him, revealing his plans to turn the United States into a nation of the undead. Speed rescues his friends, and they escape to Ohio. Lincoln marries Mary and begins his political career, campaigning to abolish slavery. It is at this time in the movie Lincoln symbolically puts on the top hat which he dons the rest of the movie. Sturgess warns Lincoln that the slave trade keeps vampires under control, as vampires use slaves for food, and if Lincoln interferes, the vampires will retaliate. After Lincoln’s election as President of the United States of America, he moves to the White House with Mary, where they have a son, William Wallace Lincoln (Cameron M. Brown). William is later bitten by Vadoma and dies.Confederate President Jefferson Davis (John Rothman) convinces Adam to deploy his vampires on the front lines. Lincoln orders the confiscation of all the silverware in the area and has it melted to produce silver weapons. Speed, believing that Lincoln is tearing the nation apart, defects and informs Adam that Lincoln will transport the silver by train. On the train, Adam and Vadoma, who have set fire to the upcoming trestle, attack Lincoln, Sturgess, and Johnson. During the fight, in which Speed is killed, Adam learns that the train holds only rocks. Lincoln reveals that Speed’s betrayal was a ruse to lure Adam into a trap. Lincoln uses his watch to stab Adam, killing him, and the three escape the train before it explodes. Meanwhile, Mary and the ex-slaves have transported the silver to Gettysburg through the Underground Railroad.The now leaderless Confederate vampires stage a final, massive assault and are met head on by the Union. Armed with their silver weapons, the Union soldiers destroy the vampires and eventually win the battle. During that battle, Mary confronts Vadoma, the vampire that killed her son, and kills her. Nearly two years later, on April 14, 1865, Sturgess tells Lincoln that the remaining vampires have fled the country. Sturgess tries to convince Lincoln to allow him to turn Lincoln into a vampire, so that he can become immortal and continue to fight vampires, but Lincoln declines. In modern times, Sturgess approaches a man at a bar in Washington, D.C. as he once approached Lincoln.This is a surprising, clever story that includes just enough historical facts to make it almost plausible. A lot of blood, but still recommended.

REVIEW: CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR

CAST

Chris Evans (The Losers)
Robert Downey, Jr (Sherlock Holmes)
Scarlett Johansson (Lucy)
Sebastian Stan (The Covenant)
Anthony Mackie (The Hurt Locker)
Don Cheadle (Traffic)
Jeremy Renner (The Bourne Legacy)
Chadwick Boseman (Gods of Egypt)
Paul Bettany (Legion)
Elizabeth Olsen (Silent House)
Paul Rudd (Role Models)
Emily VanCamp (Revenge)
Tom Holland (The Impossible)
Frank Grillo (The Purge 2 & 3)
William Hurt (A.I.)
Daniel Brühl (Inglourious Basterds)
John Slattery (Mad Men)
Martin Freeman (The Hobbit)
Marisa Tomei (The Fighter)
John Kani (Coriolanus)
Hope Davis (About Schmidt)
Alfre Woodard (Star Trek: First Contact)
Jim Rash (That 70s Show)
Stan Lee (Avengers Assemble)

In 1991, the brainwashed super-soldier James “Bucky” Barnes is dispatched from a Hydra base in Siberia to intercept an automobile carrying a case of super-soldier serum. In the present day, approximately one year after Ultron’s defeat in the nation of Sokovia at the hands of the Avengers, Steve Rogers, Natasha Romanoff, Sam Wilson, and Wanda Maximoff stop Brock Rumlow from stealing a biological weapon from a lab in Lagos. Rumlow blows himself up, hoping to kill Rogers. When Maximoff tries to displace the blast into the sky with telekinesis, it destroys a nearby building, killing several Wakandan humanitarian workers.
U.S. Secretary of State Thaddeus Ross informs the Avengers that the United Nations (UN) is preparing to pass the Sokovia Accords, which will establish a UN panel to oversee and control the team. The team is divided: Tony Stark supports oversight because of his role in Ultron’s creation and Sokovia’s devastation, while Rogers has more faith in his own judgment than that of the government. At a conference in Vienna where the accords are to be ratified, a bomb kills King T’Chaka of Wakanda. Security footage indicates the bomber is Barnes, whom T’Chaka’s son, T’Challa, vows to kill. Informed by Sharon Carter of Barnes’ whereabouts and the government’s intentions to kill him, Rogers intends to bring in Barnes—his childhood friend and war comrade—himself. Rogers and Wilson track Barnes to Bucharest and attempt to protect him from T’Challa and the authorities, but all four including T’Challa are apprehended.
Helmut Zemo tracks down and kills Barnes’ old Hydra handler, stealing a book containing the trigger words that activate Barnes’ brainwashing. Infiltrating the facility where Barnes is held, Zemo recites the words to make Barnes obey him. He questions Barnes, then sends him on a rampage to cover his own escape. Rogers stops Barnes and sneaks him away. When Barnes regains his senses, he explains that Zemo is the real Vienna bomber and wanted the location of the Siberian Hydra base, where other brainwashed “Winter Soldiers” are kept in cryogenic stasis. Unwilling to wait for authorization to apprehend Zemo, Rogers and Wilson go rogue, and recruit Maximoff, Clint Barton, and Scott Lang to their cause. With Ross’ permission, Stark assembles a team composed of Romanoff, T’Challa, James Rhodes, Vision, and Peter Parker to capture the renegades. Stark’s team intercepts Rogers’ team at Leipzig/Halle Airport, where they fight until Romanoff allows Rogers and Barnes to escape. The rest of Rogers’ team is captured and detained at the Raft prison, while Rhodes is partially paralyzed after being inadvertently shot down by Vision, and Romanoff goes into exile.

Stark discovers evidence that Barnes was framed by Zemo and convinces Wilson to give him Rogers’ destination. Without informing Ross, Stark goes to the Siberian Hydra facility and strikes a truce with Rogers and Barnes, unaware they were secretly followed by T’Challa. They discover that the other super-soldiers have been killed by Zemo, who shows them footage from Hydra’s archives; it reveals that Barnes killed Stark’s parents during his mission in 1991. Enraged that Rogers kept this from him, Stark turns on them both, dismembering Barnes’ robotic arm. Rogers disables Stark’s armor and departs with Barnes, leaving his shield behind. Satisfied that he has avenged his family’s death in Sokovia by irreparably fracturing the Avengers, Zemo attempts suicide, but T’Challa stops him and he is taken to the authorities.

In the aftermath, Stark provides Rhodes with exoskeletal leg braces that allow him to walk again, while Rogers breaks his allies out of the Raft. In a mid-credits scene, Barnes, granted asylum in Wakanda, chooses to return to cryogenic sleep until a cure for his brainwashing is found. In a post-credits scene, Parker tests a new gadget.

The best Marvel film to date: great, charisma from the leads delivered through fantastic action that’s actually driven, for once, by a tight, believable and interesting storyline.

REVIEW: HALF NELSON

CAST
Ryan Gosling (Drive)
Anthony Mackie (The Hurt Locker)
Shareeka Epps (Aliens vs Predator: Requiem)
Monique Gabriela Curnen (Lie To Me)
Tina Holmes (Shelter)
Denis O’Hare (The Proposal)
Deborah Rush (The Good Girl)
Dan Dunne (Ryan Gosling) is a young middle-school history teacher at a Brooklyn school, with a teaching style that rejects the standard curriculum in favor of an approach based upon dialectics (specifically Engels’ three laws of dialectics, though this is never referred to by name). Though he seems to have it all together in the classroom, on his own time he is found frequently snorting and freebasing cocaine. After a basketball game, Dan’s ex-girlfriend, Rachel (Tina Holmes) turns up, evoking emotions that he cannot handle. A short while later, one of his students (and a player on the girls’ basketball team he coaches), Drey (Shareeka Epps), catches him getting high in the locker room.
Meanwhile, Drey has to deal with a single-mother (Karen Chilton) who is always at work, a brother, Mike (Collins Pennie), who is in prison for selling drugs for neighborhood dealer, Frank (Anthony Mackie) and an absent father. Drey’s lack of supervision makes her a target for Frank’s operation and he encourages her to become involved in his business.
As Dan and Drey begin to get a better understanding of each other as friends, they both know what the other one should stay away from and what they need, but is struggling to get by themselves. Dan perceives that Frank is a bad influence on Drey and tries to intercede on numerous occasions. And Drey tries to get Dan to open up about his drug habit to no avail as he feels uncomfortable talking with a student about it. After a tense conversation with Frank about Drey, Dan goes to Isabel’s (Monique Gabriela Curnen) house, another teacher at the school, with whom he had one previous date. He forces himself on her, trying to right his apparent disinterest in her on their last date, but after she defends herself and runs off, he feels bad and decides to leave. The following day, he further takes his stress out on Drey, telling her to talk to friends her own age when she finds him, hoping to hang out. Drey, a little upset at this, is pushed further into the company of Frank, and he has her do her first drug deal.
Dan goes to his parents’ house for dinner, where his brother, Jeff, and his girlfriend, Cindy, also attend. He says little, and does not enjoy himself much, but a joke of Jeff’s that Cindy tells him makes him laugh. The same night, Drey is out with Frank, dealing. In the film’s pinnacle scene, Drey arrives at a place to deliver some drugs and walks in to a room of stoned drug users. The person revealed to be the buyer is Dan as he walks out of the back room and slumps down at the sight of Drey being the drug runner. There is only a slight shameful nod from him as he holds out the money to hand to her for the drugs. This exchange is the culmination of what each was trying to get the other to stay away from, and is finally brought to its climax by them encountering the other doing just that. The next day, Dan is not at school, and his students are told that he is being replaced by a Mr. Light, without much explanation. This changes something within Drey as she refuses a lift home from Frank, choosing to turn from that path.
She knocks on Dan’s door and he answers. He goes into the bathroom, shaves and cleans himself up, before sitting down to drink a glass of water. Drey sits down and joins him. The film ends with Dan telling the same joke he heard from Cindy, but the timing is all wrong. Drey says, “That was horrible”, and they both laugh.
Half Nelson is a masterpiece film, emotionally purgative and hypnotically realistic; its depiction of people who only experience fleeting moments of happiness in a retrogressive, bleak world is so realistic that it is visually and spiritually and emotionally soul-shattering.

REVIEW: FREEDOMLAND

CAST
Julianne Moore (Hannibal)
Samuel L. Jackson (Iron Man)
Edie Falco (Nurse Jackie)
Ron Eldard Super 8)
William Forsythe (The Rock)
Aunjanue Ellis (Sleepy Hollow TV)
Anthony Mackie (The Hurt Locker)
Clarke Peters (Jessica Jones)
Dorian Missick (The Cape)
Brenda (Julianne Moore) walks through a predominantly African American housing project and enters an emergency room, apparently in shock and with cut and bleeding hands. Police detective Lorenzo Council (Samuel L. Jackson) is sent to take a statement from Brenda, who says that her car has been stolen. When Lorenzo gets there, she reveals that her young son, Cody, was in the back seat of the car. The police frantically begin searching for Cody.
Brenda’s brother, Danny (Ron Eldard), a police officer in a neighboring town, calls a massive police presence in to search the housing project for clues. This angers the residents who protest their innocence. Lorenzo begins to suspect that Brenda is holding back details from him and pressures her to tell the truth. She insists that she has told the truth and would never harm her son. With a sketch artist she produces a picture of the man she says stole her car. Danny’s white coworkers arrest a man from the housing project who they think matches the picture. Danny flies into a rage and beats him.
Desperate to find Cody, Lorenzo enlists the aid of a volunteer group which helps search for missing children. He suggests that they search Freedomland, an abandoned foundling hospital nearby. As they search, the group’s leader Karen Collucci (Edie Falco) talks with Brenda. Collucci had lost her own son years before and convinces Brenda to admit that Cody is dead. She leads them to a nearby park where they find Cody’s body in a shallow grave, covered with heavy rocks.
Lorenzo realizes that Brenda could not have moved the rocks herself. Under interrogation Brenda admits to having been engaged in an affair with a man named Billy (Anthony Mackie) who lived in the projects. She would give Cody cough syrup so that he would fall asleep and she could visit Billy. On the night in question she had returned to find Cody dead, having drunk a whole bottle of cough syrup. Billy helped her bury his body. When the police go to arrest Billy, they are confronted by residents angry over previous unfounded police harassment and a riot erupts. Brenda is charged with criminal neglect, and Lorenzo promises to visit her in jail.
On the whole a good movie. Samuel L Jackson gives a good performance.
The film deals with a number of hard topics (missing children, race riots) which wax executed really well.