25 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: MONEY TRAIN

CAST

Wesley Snipes (Blade)
Woody Harrelson (The Hunger Games)
Jennifer Lopez (Jersey Girl)
Robert Blake (The Restless Gun)
Chris Cooper (The Kingdom)
Joe Grifasi (The Deer Hutner)
Scott Sowers (Under Siege 2)
Skipp Sudduth (The Cherry Orchard)
Vincent Pastore (Revolver)
Jeremy Roberts (The Mask)
Enrico Colantoni (Veronica Mars)
Flex Alexander (One on One)
Dean Norris (Breaking Bad)
José Zúñiga (The Dark Tower)

Image result for money train (1995)On Christmas, we meet foster brothers John and Charlie. They work as transit cops patrolling the New York City subway. When a mugging occurs, John and Charlie chase the mugger into a subway tunnel, and all trains traveling in their direction are halted. But their harsh transit captain Donald Patterson, allows the money train to continue. John and Charlie avoid getting hit by the train; however, when transit police at the next station witness the mugger running toward the money train, they shoot him dead. The mugger is revealed to be a young teenage boy, which triggers a brawl between John, Charlie, and the other transit officers. Patterson blames the two for causing his money train to arrive late.Image result for money train (1995)Charlie asks John to borrow $300 to buy a Christmas present, but Charlie instead uses the money to pay off some of his gambling debts to the sleazy night club owner Mr. Brown. Brown intends to have Charlie killed by throwing him off a building, but John bursts in and interrupts, telling Brown that he has the money Charlie owes him. Brown reveals to John that Charlie is $15,000 in debt, so John offers to have the money delivered in a few days. Brown accepts and lets Charlie live. During their night shift, John and Charlie are introduced to Grace Santiago, a decoy transit officer newly assigned to their unit. Both brothers immediately take a liking to her. During their patrol, a serial killer known as the Torch robs a token booth and sets it on fire. John and Charlie rescue the booth worker and put out the fire, but the Torch manages to escape.Image result for money train (1995)At a local bar, Charlie reveals a plan to rob the money train in order to pay off their debts, but John, judging the caper impossible, rejects the idea. Later that night, the two brothers and Grace are assigned to patrol the money train. As Charlie discovers a grate in the floor and a ladder leading to Central Park, a brawl breaks out between John and another officer, quickly involving the entire squad. Patterson again blames the two for the incident and also accuses them of taking some train money, but even after it is found that a collection agent miscounted, Patterson continues to insult them. At the bar, Charlie tells John that the best time to rob the money train would be on New Year’s Eve because of looser subway security and because the subway makes the most money on that date: up to $500,000. The plan involves entering the train through the metal grate when the train has stopped, driving it to the maintenance ladder, and escaping into Central Park. John remains reluctant to attempt the theft. John gives Charlie the $15,000 he needs to pay back Mr. Brown, but on the train, Charlie loses it to a thief. He goes to Brown to explain but is brutally beaten by his men. When Charlie comes back home, he looks at John’s house from his window and he sees Grace and John sleeping together. Charlie later tells John that he’s happy for him, but he’s clearly saddened by Grace’s rejection. To nab Torch, an ambush is arranged for which Grace is disguised as an attendant at a station token booth. Torch notices this and, to distract the police, pushes a man in front of a moving train, killing him. Torch sprays gasoline on Grace, but before he can light it, Charlie alerts the other officers, who shoot at Torch. John pursues him into another station, where they fight. Torch is burned by the gasoline he’s carrying and pushed under a moving train, killing him. Patterson fires Charlie for ruining the ambush, and when John tries to defend Charlie, he’s fired as well.Image result for money train (1995)John then heads to the strip club of the mobsters who beat up his brother and were threatening him for failing to pay up his gambling debts and, after storming inside, beats them all up utilizing his Kung-Fu skills,  including knocking down the criminal boss of the organization, Brown, with a 360-degree kick.Image result for money train (1995)Charlie decides to go ahead with his robbery plan. John is reluctant to do anything about this, but Grace persuades him to save Charlie from trouble. When the money train stops at one of the stations, Charlie enters the train from beneath and drives it to the maintenance ladder, but he can’t escape with the money due to the presence of a group of policemen. Meanwhile, John reaches the train and persuades Charlie to drive further to prevent their arrest. Knowing that Patterson will direct his team to trip the train’s brakes, the duo bleeds the brakes. Patterson then orders a steel barricade erected to stop the train, but John increases the speed of the money train to its maximum so that it smashes through the barricade. Transit control officer Kowalski declares the money train a runaway and starts clearing tracks, but Patterson diverts the money train onto a track occupied by a passenger train to keep it from having a clear path, putting innocent people at grave risk. The money train rams into the passenger train and then slows down, but speeds up again because it’s in full throttle and rams the train again. It repeatedly keeps ramming the passenger train with the increasing risk of derailing it and killing everyone on board.Image result for money train (1995)Since the money train now had no braking power and the throttle lever is jammed at full power, the brothers decide to throw it into reverse, derailing it and killing both of them but allowing the passengers to live. Charlie comes up with an idea and positions an iron bar in such a way that when the money train rams the other train once more, the bar trips the reverse lever. Both of them climb on top of the train and proceed to the front. When the trains collide one more time, the reverse lever is activated and both brothers jump across to the other train as the money train derails tumbles around several times knocking over several support beams (much to the horror of Patterson who witnesses the whole crash) before finally screeching to a stop on its side just before the station.Image result for money train (1995)The brothers try to escape during the commotion but are spotted by Patterson. They pretend to have come to help him, but Patterson rudely insults them. Fed up with his constant abuse, the brothers punch him in the face. As he shouts out to his team to arrest them for assault, Grace comes rushing in and arrests Patterson for endangering the lives of the people on the passenger train. When the two brothers exit the station, they are in Times Square as the countdown for the New Year begins. During the celebration, John realizes Charlie is carrying a money bag containing over $500,000, much to his dismay. The film ends with John and Charlie walking into the distance arguing over the money.Image result for money train (1995)Snipes and Harrelson look like they’re having a ball in this fast paced action caper. It’s a fun ride with plenty of action so I enjoyed it for what it was.

REVIEW: THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2

CAST

Andrew Garfield (The Social Network)
Emma Stone (Easy A)
Jamie Foxx (Ray)
Dane DeHaan (Life After beth)
Colm Feore (Thor)
Felicity Jones (Rogue One)
Paul Giamatti (Sideways)
Sally Field (Lincoln)
Embeth Davidtz (Army of Darkness)
Campbell Scott (The Exorcism of Emily Rose)
Marton Csokas (The Equalizer)
Sarah Gadon (Dracula Untold)
Skyler Gisondo (Vacation)
Stan Lee (Guardians of The Galaxy Vol 2)
Chris Cooper (The Bourne Identity)
Denis Leary (Rescue Me)
Martin Sheen (The West Wing)
Michael Massee (Flashforward)
Max Charles (American Sniper)
B.J. Novak (Saving Mr. Banks)
J.D. Walsh (Two and a Half Men)

In 2000, Oscorp scientist Richard Parker records a video message to explain his disappearance. Later, he and his wife, Mary, are aboard a private jet hijacked by a man sent to assassinate Richard. The plane crashes, killing both Richard and Mary, after he uploads the video.Fourteen years later, Richard’s son Peter continues to fight crime as Spider-Man. He pursues and apprehends Aleksei Sytsevich. Later, Peter meets with Gwen at their high school graduation ceremony and, insisting he keep his vow to her father, ends their relationship. Peter’s childhood friend, Harry Osborn, returns to Manhattan to see his terminally-ill father, Norman, CEO of OsCorp. Norman explains his illness is genetic, and Harry is at the age where it first develops. Norman gives Harry a small device he claims contains his life’s work. The next day, Norman dies and Harry is appointed the new OsCorp CEO.While working in an OsCorp laboratory, electrical engineer Max Dillon shocks himself by accident and falls into a tank of genetically-engineered electric eels. They attack him, and he mutates into a living electric generator. Meanwhile, Peter attempts to maintain a friendship with Gwen, but she reveals that she may move to England for schooling. Before they can discuss it, Dillon wanders into Times Square, accidentally causing a blackout, and is stopped by Peter after a battle. Dillon is taken to Ravencroft Institute, where he is studied by German scientist Dr. Kafka. Meanwhile, the first symptoms of Harry’s illness are showing, and he uses the device Norman gave him to deduce that Spider-Man’s blood could help save him. He asks Peter, who has been selling photos of Spider-Man to the Daily Bugle, to aid him in finding Spider-Man. Peter refuses, unsure of what effects the transfusion would have. Although he later comes to Harry as Spider-Man, he still refuses, and Harry develops an intense hatred towards Spider-Man. The OsCorp board-members, in particular the vice-president, Donald Menken, frame Harry for covering up Dillon’s accident, remove him as CEO, overthrow him and take control of Oscorp. Harry’s assistant, Felicia Hardy, informs him of equipment that could help him, so he makes a deal with Dillon, who now calls himself “Electro,” to get him back inside the OsCorp building. There he finds a suit of armour and other equipment made by Norman, as well as venom from the now-destroyed genetically-altered spiders. The venom accelerates Harry’s illness and transforms him into a goblin-like creature, but the suit’s built-in emergency protocol restores his health and cures his disease.Peter uses information left by his father to locate the video message in an abandoned subway station’s hidden lab. Richard explains he had to leave because he refused to cooperate with Norman’s biogenetic weaponization plans. Peter then hears a voicemail from Gwen, telling him she was offered the British scholarship and is heading to the airport earlier than expected. He manages to catch her and professes his love for her, and, vowing to go wherever she goes, they agree to go to England together. Electro causes another blackout, and Peter heads off to fight him as Spider-Man. Gwen follows, and together they restore power and overload Electro’s body, killing him.The transformed Harry, who now calls himself “Green Goblin”, arrives equipped with Norman’s armor and weaponry. Upon seeing Gwen, he deduces Spider-Man’s secret identity and, swearing revenge for being refused the blood transfusion, kidnaps her and takes her to the top of a clock tower. Peter manages to defeat the Green Goblin, but his webbing breaks during the battle and Gwen falls to her death. Peter, depressed and distraught, mourns over Gwen’s death and ends his career as Spider-Man. Five months later, Harry is coping with the aftereffects of his transformation while incarcerated at Ravencroft. His associate, Gustav Fiers, visits Harry and the pair discuss forming their own team. Harry orders Fiers to start with Sytsevich. Later an unknown team of men break Sytsevich out of prison. Equipped with electromechanical suit armor, Sytsevich calls himself the Rhino and rampages through the streets. Peter, inspired by Gwen’s graduation speech, resumes his role as Spider-Man and confronts him.The Amazing Spider-Man 2 nearly earns an honest emotional response over this pairing. The writing could be better, but Garfield and Stone do an excellent job selling their roles and this movie. I am a big fan of Stone, and she elevates Garfield’s already solid performance. Webb does not quite find the balance between this drama and spectacle, and the film understandably includes a number of rollicking action sequences. The visual effects are strong, but the bullet-time slow motion feels a bit stale. There is a lot of flash to these bits, but not much substance. This is an entertaining film that could be better.

REVIEW: THE BOURNE SUPREMACY

CAST
Matt Damon (Good Will Hunting)
Franka Potente (Blow)
Karl Urban (Red)
Julia Stiles (A Guy Thing)
Brian Cox (Rise of The Planet of The Apes)
Gabriel Mann (Josie and The Pussycats)
Joan Allen (Manhunter)
Marton Csokas (Alice In Wonderland)
Michelle Monaghan (Mission Impossible III)
Karel Roden (Hellboy)
Chris Cooper (American Beauty)
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Two years after the events of the first film, Jason Bourne and Marie Kreutz are now in Goa, India. Still experiencing flashbacks about his former life as a CIA assassin, he records them in a notebook. In Berlin, CIA agents subordinate to Deputy Director Pamela Landy are paying US$3 million for the “Neski files”, documents on the theft of $20 million in allocation money seven years prior. Kirill, an agent for Russia’s Federal Security Service, plants Bourne’s fingerprint to frame him, kills the agents, and steals the files and money for delivery to Russian oil oligarch Yuri Gretkov. Kirill travels to Goa to kill Bourne, but Bourne spots him and flees with Marie. As the couple drive away, Kirill attempts to shoot Bourne, but kills Marie by mistake. Their vehicle goes off a bridge and into a river; Kirill assumes that Bourne is dead.Matt Damon and Julia Stiles in The Bourne Supremacy (2004)Bourne survives and leaves for Naples, Italy, with money and passports. After finding the fingerprint Kirill planted, Landy learns that it belongs to Bourne and subsequently asks Deputy Director Ward Abbott about Operation Treadstone, the defunct CIA program to which Bourne belonged. Landy tells Abbott that the CIA agent who stole the $20 million was named in the Neski files. Some years previously, Russian politician Vladimir Neski was about to identify the thief when he was supposedly murdered by his wife in a Berlin hotel. Landy believes that Bourne and Treadstone’s late supervisor, Alexander Conklin, were somehow involved. She also believes that Bourne killed her two agents. Both Abbott and Landy go to Berlin to capture Bourne.

In Naples, Bourne allows himself to be identified by security. He subdues his CIA interrogator, copies the SIM card from his cell phone, and learns from a subsequent phone call about Landy and what she thinks Bourne did. Bourne goes to Munich to visit the only other remaining Treadstone operative, Jarda, who informs Bourne that Treadstone was shut down after Conklin’s death. Jarda tries to incapacitate Bourne before an incoming CIA team arrives, but Bourne kills him, blows up his house, and escapes. Bourne follows Landy and Abbott as they meet former Treadstone support technician Nicky Parsons to question her about her past experience with him. Believing that the CIA is hunting him again, Bourne calls Landy from a nearby roof and is told that he is being pursued because he killed two people in Berlin. He demands a meet-up with Nicky and indicates to Landy that he can see her in the office, shocking the entire CIA team.
Matt Damon and Franka Potente in The Bourne Supremacy (2004)
Bourne kidnaps Nicky at the Alexanderplatz, and learns from her that Abbott was the head of Treadstone, not Conklin. He remembers that he murdered Neski in Berlin, but Nicky knows nothing about it, so he lets her go. Bourne then visits the hotel where the killing took place and remembers more of his mission—he killed Neski on Conklin’s orders, and when Neski’s wife showed up, he shot her to make it look like a murder–suicide. Abbott kills Danny Zorn (Conklin’s assistant) when he suspects a conspiracy against Bourne; he (Bourne) breaks into Abbott’s hotel room and records a conversation between him and Gretkov that incriminates them in the theft of the money. Abbott confesses to ordering the assassination in Goa, Neski’s murder by Bourne, and the murder of the agents by Kirill, for which Bourne was to be framed. When Landy suspects Bourne’s innocence and confronts Abbott, he commits suicide by shooting himself in the head. Bourne sends the tape of the confession to Landy, vindicating himself.
Bourne goes to Moscow to find Irena Neski, the daughter of Vladimir Neski. Kirill, tasked once again by Gretkov with killing Bourne, finds him and shoots him in the shoulder from a distance. Bourne steals a taxi and Kirill chases him. A long high-speed chase also involving many police cars ends after Bourne forces Kirill’s vehicle into a concrete divider. After finding that Kirill is mortally wounded, he lowers his gun and walks away. Bourne locates Irena Neski and confesses to murdering her parents. Gretkov is arrested.
Some time later, in New York City, Landy receives a phone call from Bourne; she expresses her thanks for the tape of Abbott’s confession before telling Bourne that his real name is David Webb and he was born 4/15/71 in Nixa, Missouri. Bourne then says “Get some rest Pam, you look tired”, indicating once again that he can see her, before hanging up and fading into a New York crowd.
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This really is an excellent spy thriller, with plenty of high quality car chases and escapes included too. The storyline is believeable within the context of the world of global espionage,, the film moves at a great pace and nicley sets up the third installment, The Bourne Ulitimatum.

 

25 DAYS DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: THE BOURNE IDENTITY

BOURNE 1

CAST

Matt Damon (Oceans Eleven)
Franka Potente (Creep)
Chris Cooper (The Muppets)
Clive Owen (Sin City)
Brian Cox (Manhunter)
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Lost)
Gabriel Mann (Josie and The Pussycats)
Julia Stiles (10 Things I Hate About You)
Jimmy Jean-Louis (Joy)
Walton Goggins (The Hateful Eight)
Josh Hamilton (Dark Skies)
In the Mediterranean Sea, Italian fishermen rescue an unconscious American man (Matt Damon) floating adrift with two gunshot wounds in his back. They tend to his wounds, and when the man wakes, they find he suffers from dissociative amnesia: he has no idea of his identity but is aware of advanced combat skills and fluent in several languages. The skipper finds a tiny laser projector under the man’s skin that, when activated, gives a number of a safe deposit box in Zürich. Upon landing, the man heads to investigate the box. Arriving at the bank, the man finds the box contains a large sum of money in various currencies, numerous passports and identity cards, and a handgun; the man takes everything but the gun, and leaves, opting to use the name on the American passport, Jason Bourne.
A bank employee contacts Operation Treadstone, a CIA black operation program after Bourne’s departure. Treadstone’s head, Alexander Conklin (Chris Cooper), contacts CIA Deputy Director Ward Abbott (Brian Cox) about the reappearance of Bourne. Abbott warns that Bourne, a CIA agent, had been assigned to silently assassinate exiled African dictator Nykwana Wombosi (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), but the attempt failed, and Bourne must be dealt with. Conklin activates three agents to take down Bourne: Castel (Nicky Naude), Manheim (Russell Levy), and the Professor (Clive Owen), while also issuing alerts to local police to capture Bourne.
Bourne attempts to get more information from the U.S. consulate, but he is discovered by guards. He evades capture, leaves the embassy, and gives a German woman, Marie Helena Kreutz (Franka Potente), $20,000 to drive him to an address in Paris listed on his French driving license. At the address, an apartment, he hits redial on the phone and reaches a hotel. He inquires about the names on his passports there, learning that a “John Michael Kane” had been registered but died two weeks prior in a car accident. Castel ambushes them in the apartment, but Bourne gets the upper hand. Instead of allowing himself to be interrogated, Castel throws himself out a window to his death. Kreutz finds wanted posters of Bourne and herself, and agrees to continue to help Bourne.
Meanwhile, Wombosi approaches the police about the attempt on his life. Conklin, having anticipated this, had planted a body in the Paris morgue to appear as the assailant, but Wombosi is not fooled and threatens to report this. The Professor assassinates Wombosi on Conklin’s orders. Bourne, posing as Kane, learns about Wombosi’s yacht, and that the assailant had been shot twice during the escape; Bourne now considers himself to have been the assailant. He and Kreutz take refuge at the French countryside home of her ex-lover Eamon (Tim Dutton) and his children. Conklin tracks their position and sends the Professor there, but Bourne is able to mortally wound him. The Professor reveals their shared connection to Treadstone before dying. He sends Kreutz, Eamon and his children away for their protection, and then contacts Conklin via the Professor’s phone to arrange a meet. From a rooftop near the arranged location in Paris, Bourne sees Conklin has brought backup, so abandons the meeting but uses the opportunity to place a tracking device on his car, leading him to the Treadstone’s safe house.
Bourne breaks in and holds Conklin and logistics technician Nicolette “Nicky” Parsons (Julia Stiles) at gunpoint. Bourne starts to fully recall the assassination attempt through successive flashbacks. As Kane, and working under orders from Treadstone, Bourne infiltrated Wombosi’s yacht but could not bring himself to kill Wombosi while Wombosi’s children were present, and instead fled, being shot at during his escape. Bourne announces he is resigning from Treadstone and not to be followed. As agents descend on the safehouse, Bourne fights his way free. Meanwhile, when Conklin goes to leave the safe house, he is killed by Manheim, who was ordered to terminate Treadstone by Abbott.
Abbott reports on the dismissal of Treadstone before an oversight committee but announces a new project codenamed “Blackbriar”. Some time later, Bourne finds Kreutz renting out scooters to tourists on Mykonos, and the two reunite.
This edition is the best one to have.  Well acted, well scripted, and filmed at real European locations make this movie really enjoyable