REVIEW: RED 2

CAST

Bruce Willis (Cop Out)
John Malkovich (Burn After Reading)
Helen Mirren (Woman In Gold)
Mary-Louise Parker (Weeds)
Anthony Hopkins (Westworld)
Catherine Zeta-Jones (Entrapment)
Lee Byung-hun (G.I. Joe)
Brian Cox (Rise of The Planet of The Apes)
David Thewlis (Wonder Woman)
Neal McDonough (Arrow)
Titus Welliver (Bosch)

Three years after the previous film, while trying to lead a normal life with girlfriend Sarah Ross (Mary-Louise Parker), Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) is approached by Marvin Boggs (John Malkovich), who claims people are still after them, but Frank dismisses him. After appealing a second time, Marvin drives off, and his car explodes. Although Frank does not believe Marvin is dead, Sarah convinces him to go to Marvin’s funeral where he delivers a teary-eyed eulogy.After the funeral, a group of government agents approach Frank and take him to be interrogated at a Yankee White Facility. During the interrogation, Jack Horton (Neal McDonough) appears with an armed SWAT team, kills most of the facility’s personnel, and tells Frank that he will torture Sarah until he gets information out of Frank. Frank escapes from the room, evades Horton’s assassins, and with the sudden timely help of Marvin, who turns out to be alive, goes on the run with Sarah.In a diner, Marvin explains that he and Frank are being hunted because they were listed as participants in a clandestine operation codenamed Nightshade, conducted during the Cold War to smuggle a nuclear weapon into Russia piece by piece. Horton has convinced world agencies that Frank and his crew are terrorists and must be stopped. Victoria (Helen Mirren) calls, telling Frank she has been contracted by MI6 to kill the three of them. Meanwhile, top contract killer Han Cho-Bai (Lee Byung-hun), whom Horton knows is seeking revenge on Frank, is also hired.Frank, Marvin, and Sarah steal Han’s plane and fly to Paris to find a man nicknamed “The Frog” (David Thewlis), with the Americans and Han in pursuit. As they arrive in Paris, they are stopped by Katja (Catherine Zeta-Jones), a Russian secret agent with whom Frank had a relationship earlier in his career. Katja is also in search of Nightshade, and joins them to find The Frog. When he sees them, The Frog flees. Frank and Katja catch him and bring him back to his house, where Sarah seduces him, both to help them and to prove she is a better girlfriend than Katja.The Frog gives them the key to his security box, which Katja apparently takes from Frank after drugging him; but Marvin, anticipating this, had handed a similar-looking key to Frank before his meeting with her. Marvin, Frank, and Sarah later find documents in The Frog’s security box which point to Dr. Edward Bailey (Anthony Hopkins), a brilliant physicist, as the creator of the Operation Nightshade bomb.They find that Bailey is alive, held thirty-two years in a maximum security asylum for the criminally insane in London. Victoria (alerted by Marvin) unexpectedly confronts the trio, but helps to fake their deaths and then gain access to the asylum, in which Victoria feigns insanity, while Frank and Sarah poses as the facility staff, (having tied up and gagged the real staff with duct tape). Frank and Victoria meet Bailey, who is hyperactive and cannot rationally respond to their questions thanks to mind-fogging drugs the asylum had been giving him, so they take him to one of Marvin’s safehouses. After the drugs begin to wear off, Bailey remembers the bomb is still in Moscow.They travel to Moscow, and Bailey concludes he hid the bomb in the Kremlin. They break into the Kremlin, and Bailey locates the suitcase-sized bomb, which is powered by red mercury, which has no radioactive signature and causes no fallout. As they are about to leave, Katja stops them. Frank persuades her to switch to their side. After they escape and are celebrating, Victoria, who has escaped MI6 imprisonment for failing to kill him, calls Frank from London and tells him that Bailey was locked up because he had wanted to detonate the bomb, not sell it. Bailey quickly holds Frank at gunpoint and confirms Victoria’s message, revealing that he made a deal with Horton and the Americans to give them the red mercury. He shoots Katja, making it look as if Frank killed her, and leaves with the bomb case. Horton reneges on his deal with Bailey, intending to interrogate him until all his secrets have been tortured out of him, but Bailey escapes during air transit using a nerve gas he created, administering the antidote to both himself and Horton. Bailey then moves to the Iranian embassy in London. Before Frank can follow him, Han attacks. Reaching a standoff, Frank urges Han to join sides with him and stop the bomb. Han finally relents, and the five enact a plan to recapture Bailey and the bomb.Sarah first seduces the Iranian ambassador, then takes him hostage. Marvin poses as a person seeking to defect to Iran, causes a diversion with the embassy plumbing, and the disguised team comes to “fix” it. They discover in the ambassador’s safe plans disclosing the location of the bomb, but find that Bailey has already triggered the bomb’s countdown timer and killed Horton (after disclosing he also remembered how his family had been killed by people like Horton). When they are discovered by embassy guards, Bailey seizes Sarah and flees to the airport to escape the imminent explosion.Frank, Marvin, Victoria, and Han, taking the active bomb case with them, give chase, but Marvin, in his attempts to disarm the bomb by cutting wires, causes the timer to speed up and count down thrice as fast. Frank, holding the bomb case, boards the plane and confronts Bailey who releases Sarah and forcefully insists he take the bomb off the plane with her. They rejoin Marvin, Victoria, and Han and wait for death as Han’s plane takes off. As it disappears high in the sky it explodes in an immense fireball. Frank reveals that he had covertly placed the bomb from the case into a compartment near the plane’s exit and confronted Bailey with only a closed empty case. Han angrily tells Frank that Frank owes him “$30 million for the plane and $20 million for not killing you (Frank)”. The closing scene shows Sarah enjoying herself on a mission in Caracas with Frank and Marvin.RED 2 is massively entertaining, surprisingly witty and superb fun. A perfect case-study in pure entertainment and even better, if that’s possible, than the first movie. Simply brillian.

REVIEW: INTOLERABLE CRUELTY

 

CAST

George Clooney (The Ides of March)
Catherine Zeta Jones (Red 2)
Geoffrey Rush (The King’s Speech)
Cedric The Entertainer (Serving Sara)
Bruce Campbell (Ash vs Evil Dead)
Edward Hermann (The Cat’s Meow)
Paul Adelstein (Bedazzled)
Richard Jenkins (The Cabin In The Woods)
Julia Duffy (Scream Queens)
Billy Bob Thornton (Bad Santa)
Stacey Travis (Mystery Men)
Kristin Dattillo (Cornado)

Donovan Donaly (Geoffrey Rush) a TV soap opera producer, comes home early and finds his wife Bonnie (Stacey Travis) with her ex-boyfriend, Ollie (Jack Kyle). Bonnie hires Miles Massey (George Clooney), a top divorce attorney and the inventor of the “Massey pre-nup”, a completely foolproof prenuptial agreement. Miles wins the divorce case, leaving Donaly with nothing.

Private investigator Gus Petch (Cedric the Entertainer) is tailing the wealthy and married Rex Rexroth (Edward Herrmann) on a drunken night out with a blonde. When they stop at a motel, Gus bursts in and tapes them with a video camera. He takes the evidence of infidelity to Rex’s wife, Marylin Rexroth (Catherine Zeta-Jones), whose primary motivation is obtaining wealth and independence via divorce. Rex hires Miles, and Marylin’s friend, a serial divorcée named Sarah Sorkin (Julia Duffy), warns Marilyn that Miles will be a dangerous opponent.
Marylin and her lawyer, Freddy Bender (Richard Jenkins), fail to reach an agreement with Miles and Rex. Bored Miles asks the fascinating Marylin to dinner, where they flirt. The next day he is able to find a witness with his assistant’s help to expose her. In court, Marylin feigns an emotional breakdown over Rex’s apparent cheating on her. However, Miles isn’t fooled by this and gets the Baron Krauss von Espy (Jonathan Hadary) to testify that she had asked him to arrange a marriage to a man who was very rich, easily manipulated, and likely to be unfaithful, proving that Marylin’s testimony was indeed a lie. Marylin winds up with nothing, and Miles’s aged boss, Herb Myerson (Tom Aldredge), congratulates him.
Marylin wants revenge, and finds broke soap-producer Donaly living on the street, still clutching his Emmy statuette. She offers him a chance to reclaim his lost glory if he helps her. Donaly agrees and they begin their revenge on Miles. Soon after, Marylin shows up at Miles’s office with a person she says is her new fiancé, supposedly an oil millionaire named Howard D. Doyle (Billy Bob Thornton). Marylin insists on the Massey prenup, but Miles sees Howard destroy it during the wedding, in a demonstration of love.
Visiting Las Vegas to give the keynote address at a convention for divorce attorneys, Miles bumps into Marylin, who says she is now disenchanted with her wealthy but lonely life, having divorced Howard and received the vast Doyle Oil fortune. Miles is thrilled, and they marry on the spur of the moment. He signs the Massey prenup, but she tears it up. The next morning a disheveled Miles announces at the convention that love is the most important thing, and that he is abandoning divorce suits in favor of pro-bono work. Then Miles discovers that “Howard D. Doyle” was just an actor from one of Donaly’s soap operas. Marylin has tricked him, and now his wealth is at risk. Miles’ boss demands that something be done to save the firm’s reputation, and suggests the hitman “Wheezy Joe” (Irwin Keyes), whom Miles hires to kill Marilyn. Miles then learns that Marylin’s ex-husband Rex has died without changing his will, leaving her millions. Miles rushes to save his wife from the hitman, but Marilyn has already agreed to pay him double to kill Miles instead. There is a struggle and in the confusion Wheezy Joe mistakes his gun for his asthma inhaler, and kills himself.
Later, Miles, Marylin and their lawyers meet to negotiate a divorce. Miles pleads for a second chance and retroactively signs a Massey prenup. She tears it up, and they kiss. Marylin then tells Miles that to get Donaly’s help for supplying Doyle, she suggested an idea to him for a TV show: Gus Petch becomes the host of a big hit, America’s Funniest Divorce Videos.
As entertainment goes this film was laugh out loud at points all the way through. It has a good pace and never drags, and it was visually interesting, unpredictable and clever.

REVIEW: TRAFFIC

CAST

Michael Douglas (Wall Street)
Amy Irving (Alias)
Benicio del Toro (Sin City)
Erika Christensen (Swimfan)
Topher Grace (That 70s Show)
James Brolin (The Amityville Horror)
Jacob Vargas (Get Shorty)
Albert Finney (The Bourne Legacy)
Catherine Zeta Jones (Entrapment)
Dennis Quaid (Jaws 3)
Clifton Collins Jr. (The Bad Pack)
Don Cheadle (Iron Man 2 & 3)
Luis Guzman (McBain)
Miguel Ferrer (Robocop)
Peter Riegert (The Mask)
Benjamin Bratt (Demolition Man)
Viola Davis (Suicide Squad)
Salma Hayek (Ugly Betty)
Emilio Rivera (Venom)
Michael O’Neill (Transformers)
Majandra Delfino (Roswell)
Rena Sofer (Heroes)
John Slattery (Iron Man 2)
Jack Conley (Angel)
Harsh Nayyar (Gandhi)

a Steven Soderbergh Traffic Michael Douglas DVD Review PDVD_004

Scripted by Stephen Gaghan, Traffic is adapted from the famous British miniseries Traffik and takes a hard look at the illegal drug trade from multiple perspectives. All sides of the issue are explored via a series of intersecting storylines. On the front lines, a Mexican cop (Benicio Del Toro) witnesses the rampant government corruption that facilitates the smuggling of drugs across the U.S. border. In the halls of American power, a politically ambitious judge (Michael Douglas) is picked as the new Drug Tsar and quickly runs into obstacles implementing new policies.

In fact, even the judge’s own daughter (Erika Christensen) and her privileged rich kid friends experiment with freebasing and begin the downward spiral of addiction. In the netherworld between these two extremes, a DEA agent (Don Cheadle) in California attempts to take down a drug running ring but finds the effort futile; even if he succeeds all he’s done is clear the way for new competition to move in. Meanwhile, a society wife (Catherine Zeta-Jones) whose husband is indicted on trafficking charges is forced into taking over his smuggling racket to pay their debts and protect her family.

The movie has a huge cast of other recognizable faces (Dennis Quaid, Albert Finney, Luis Guzman, Amy Irving, and Miguel Ferrer among others), but it’s Del Toro who stands out in a star-making turn; he won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor but actually carries a big chunk of the movie and proves he can be an effective leading man. The story has an ambitious reach and a complicated structure. Soderbergh juggles all these elements with masterful control, maintaining a steady tone that emphasizes the tragedy of the situation without overstepping into preachiness, overwrought theatrics, or heavy-handed sermonizing. The movie asks many questions but is frank that it can deliver no answers. It takes no political stance either for or against our government’s policies other than to point out that they clearly aren’t working. The war on drugs is a self-generating, never-ending cycle of corruption, hypocrisy, and hopelessness with seemingly no possible solution.