REVIEW: TRAINING DAY (2001)

CAST

Denzel Washington (The Taking of Pelham 123)
Ethan Hawke (The Purge)
Scott Glenn (Daredevil)
Tom Berenger (Platoon)
Harris Yulin (Ghostbusters 2)
Raymond J. Bary (Alias)
Cliff Curtis (Jubilee)
Snoop Dogg (Scary Movie V)
Eva Mendes (2 Fast 2 Furious)
Raymond Cruz (My Name Is Earl)
Fran Kranz (Dollhouse)
Terry Crews (Get Smart)

The film follows a day in the life of Los Angeles Police Department officer Jake Hoyt, who is scheduled to be evaluated by Detective Alonzo Harris, a highly decorated LAPD narcotics officer, for a possible promotion. Riding around in Alonzo’s car, they begin the day by catching some college kids buying cannabis from a street gang. Alonzo confiscates the drugs and tells Jake to smoke it – Jake refuses at first, only to comply when Alonzo threatens him at gunpoint, with the explanation that refusing an offer on the street could get him killed. After smoking it, Alonzo informs him that the weed was laced with PCP. They then pay a brief visit to Roger, an old friend of Alonzo’s who is also a drug dealer and former police officer. Back in the car, Jake notices a teenage girl being sexually assaulted and runs out to subdue the attackers while Alonzo watches. Alonzo tells the girl to leave and allows the men to go free, despite Jake’s disapproval. Jake finds the girl’s wallet on the ground and takes it.
Alonzo and Jake later apprehend a wheelchair-bound dealer named Blue, finding crack rocks and a loaded handgun on him. In exchange for his freedom, Blue reveals his associate: Kevin “Sandman” Miller, who is in prison. Alonzo takes Jake to Sandman’s home in Watts, where he uses a fake search warrant to steal $40,000 from the premises. However, Sandman’s wife realizes the scam and calls out to nearby gang members, who open fire. The two officers barely escape.
For lunch, the duo visit Alonzo’s Salvadoran mistress, Sara, and their young son at Baldwin Village. Afterwards, Alonzo meets with a trio of high-ranking police officials dubbed as the “Three Wise Men” – they tell Alonzo that they know the Russian Mafia is hunting him for an incident over the weekend in Las Vegas and suggest that he leave town, but he insists that he has control of the situation and gets permission to “cash in an account”. Alonzo thus gives them Sandman’s drug money for an arrest warrant.
Alonzo takes Jake and four other narcotics officers back to Roger’s house – using the warrant, they seize $4 million from underneath the floor of his kitchen, but Jake refuses to take his share of the cash. Alonzo then kills Roger and arranges for the scene to appear like a justified shooting. Jake refuses to cooperate and after being threatened, seizes Alonzo’s shotgun, prompting a Mexican standoff. However, Alonzo calms his associates and claims that the LAPD will run a blood test on Jake (identifying the PCP he smoked), the result of which he can falsify in exchange for Jake’s cooperation. Jake reluctantly gives in.
Alonzo drives Jake to the home of a Sureño named Smiley, allegedly to run an errand. He furtively abandons Jake as Jake reluctantly plays poker with Smiley and his fellow gang members. A tense conversation ensues in which Smiley reveals Alonzo’s situation: by midnight, Alonzo must pay $1 million to the Russian Mafia for killing one of their men in Las Vegas, or be killed himself. Jake realizes too late that Alonzo had paid Smiley to kill him, and is beaten and dragged to the bathtub for execution. The gang search Jake to find the wallet dropped by the teenage girl, who is revealed to be Smiley’s cousin. Smiley calls her, who confirms that Jake risked his life to defend her. In gratitude, Smiley lets Jake go.
Jake returns to Sara’s apartment and attempts to arrest Alonzo, but a gunfight and chase ensues, which ends with Jake subduing Alonzo in his escape vehicle. The local gang members and residents begin congregating to watch. Alonzo tries to get the crowd on his side by offering a reward to whoever kills Jake; but instead, they allow Jake to walk away with the money. Alonzo attempts to flee via Los Angeles International Airport, but is found and killed by Russian Mafia hitmen in a street shooting. Jake returns home with Alonzo’s money (having said earlier that the money will serve as his evidence corroborating Alonzo’s crimes of the day), and Alonzo’s death is broadcast over the news, touting him as a heroic officer serving a high risk warrant.The end result is nothing less than a brilliant thriller. Hawke and Washington make for a phenomenal double act and the pace only occasionally lets up to allow the characters time to breathe and establish the depth that makes you care for them more. Highly recommended.

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REVIEW: MAN ON FIRE

 

CAST

Denzel Washington (The Equalizer)
Dakota Fanning (War of The Worlds)
Radha Mitchell (Pitch Black)
Marc Anthony (Hackers)
Christopher Walken (The Prophecy)
Giancarlo Giannini (Hannibal)
Rachel Ticotin (Total Recall)
Jesús Ochoa (Only God Knows)
Mickey Rourke (Iron Man 2)

In 2003, burnt-out ex-CIA (SAD/SOG) Paramilitary operations officer and former U.S. Marine Corps Force Reconnaissance officer John Creasy (Denzel Washington) visits his old comrade Paul Rayburn (Christopher Walken), who runs a security firm in Mexico. Because of the extremely high rate of kidnappings in Mexico City for ransoms, wealthy businessman Samuel Ramos (Marc Anthony) hires Creasy through Rayburn to guard his nine-year-old daughter “Pita” (Dakota Fanning). However, Samuel is having money problems and intends to keep Creasy on only long enough to satisfy the requirements to renew his kidnap and ransom insurance on Pita. Creasy suffers from alcoholism, depression and severe guilt as a result of his former black ops work. Drinking heavily, Creasy attempts suicide with his pistol, but the cartridge fails to fire when he pulls the trigger. He calls Rayburn, who says that “a bullet always tells the truth.” At first, Creasy distances himself from Pita, but soon he becomes a surrogate father to the girl, allowing him to stop drinking and find a purpose in his life.One day, while Creasy is escorting Pita from her piano lesson, a group of gunmen try to kidnap her. Creasy kills four of the kidnappers, including two corrupt policemen, in a shoot out, but he is shot multiple times and collapses from his wounds, and the abductors escape with Pita, who Creasy had commanded to flee, but returned to the collapsed Creasy. Creasy is hospitalized, but is moved to a veterinary hospital by Miguel Manzano (Giancarlo Giannini), a senior agent of the Agencia Federal de Investigación (AFI), who suspects Creasy will be killed by rogue police. Meanwhile, the Ramoses agree to deliver a dead drop ransom of US$10 million per the instructions of “La Voz” (“The Voice”) (Roberto Sosa), the mastermind behind the kidnapping ring. Samuel’s attorney, Jordan Kalfus (Mickey Rourke), and police detective Victor Fuentes (Jesús Ochoa) arrange for the ransom money to be collected from Samuel’s kidnapping insurance policy, then delivered to the kidnappers. The drop, however, is ambushed by members of “La Hermandad”, a powerful crime syndicate composed of corrupt police officers, who steal the money and kill The Voice’s nephew in the process. The Voice notifies the Ramoses that Pita will be killed in retribution.Creasy leaves the hospital before fully recovering, swearing to Pita’s mother Lisa (Radha Mitchell) that he will kill everyone involved in her daughter’s abduction. Rayburn helps Creasy purchase black market firearms, a rocket-propelled grenade launcher and explosives. Mariana Guerrero (Rachel Ticotin), a journalist investigating kidnappings, and Manzano also offer their support. Creasy tracks down low-level operatives involved in various stages of the kidnapping, torturing each for information about other operatives, then killing them in brutal ways, eventually learning from Fuentes, who is revealed to be the “president” of “La Hermandad”, that the bags they stole at the ransom drop contained only $2.5 million of actual currency while the rest was blank paper.Creasy finds Kalfus murdered and then finds evidence of his questionable financial dealings with Samuel. He confronts Samuel and Lisa for the truth behind the kidnapping. Samuel confesses to Creasy and Lisa that he agreed to Kalfus’ plan to stage Pita’s kidnapping, so he could pay off business debts by fraudulently collecting the insurance money. He planned to keep $5 million for himself and split the rest between Kalfus and the kidnappers. He was told that Pita would watch cartoons for a couple days and be returned after the ransom was paid, but Fuentes, who had been promised a cut of the money by Kalfus, became greedy and betrayed him and Samuel to try and take the entire ransom for himself. Samuel held Kalfus responsible for the botched drop and confesses to killing him after learning that Kalfus knew about Fuentes’ corruption. Creasy then leaves Samuel with a pistol and the misfired round, which works for Samuel when he commits suicide.Using the information provided by Creasy, The Voice’s identity is revealed by Manzano to be Daniel Sánchez, who Mariana exposes on the front page of her newspaper. Creasy sneaks into the home of Sánchez’s ex-wife and children, and is shot by his brother Aurelio (Gero Camilo), whom Creasy then captures. Creasy calls Daniel Sánchez and threatens to kill all of his family unless he gives himself up, but Sánchez reveals that Pita is still alive, and offers her in exchange for Aurelio and Creasy. Creasy and Pita share a tearful goodbye before he surrenders himself to Sánchez’ men, as Pita is released into her mother’s arms. Creasy dies peacefully from his gunshot injuries. Daniel Sánchez is later killed by Manzano during an AFI arrest raid.Style trumps substance in Man on Fire, a slick, brooding reunion of Crimson Tide star Denzel Washington and director Tony Scott. Prolific screenwriter Brian Helgeland (Mystic River, L.A. Confidential) sets a solid emotional foundation for Washington’s tormented character, and Scott’s stylistic excess compensates for a distended plot that’s both repellently violent and viscerally absorbing. Man on Fire is roughly on par with Scott’s similar 1990 film Revenge, efficiently satisfying Washington’s incendiary bloodlust under a heavy blanket of humid, doom-laden atmosphere

REVIEW: INSIDE MAN

CAST

Denzel Washington (The Equalizer)
Clive Owen (Sin City)
Jodie Foster (The Brave One)
Christopher Plummer (The Sound of Music)
Willem Dafoe (American Psycho)
Chiwetel Ejiofor (Doctor Strange)
Kim Director (Blair Witch 2)
Ken Leung (Lost)

A man named Dalton Russell sits in an unidentified cell and narrates a story of how he has committed the perfect robbery. In New York, masked robbers, dressed as painters and using variants of the name “Steve” as aliases, seize control of a Manhattan bank and take the patrons and employees hostage. They divide the hostages into groups and hold them in different rooms, forcing them to don painters clothes identical to their own. The robbers rotate the hostages among various rooms and occasionally insert themselves covertly into the groups. They also take turns working on an unspecified project involving demolishing the floor in one of the bank’s storage rooms.Police surround the bank and Detectives Keith Frazier and Bill Mitchell take charge of the negotiations. Russell, the leader of the robbers, demands food and the police supply them with pizzas whose boxes include listening devices. The bugs pick up a language which the police identify as Albanian. They discover, however, that the conversations are in fact propaganda recordings of deceased Albanian communist dictator Enver Hoxha, implying that the robbers anticipated the attempted surveillance.When Arthur Case, chairman of the board of directors and founder of the bank, hears of the robbery taking place, he hires “fixer” Madeleine White to try to protect the contents of his safe deposit box within the bank. White arranges a conversation with Russell, who allows her to enter the bank and inspect the contents of the box, which include documents from Nazi Germany. Russell implies that Case started his bank with money that he received from the Nazis for unspecified services, resulting in the deaths of many Jewish people during World War II. White tells Russell that Case will pay him a substantial sum if he destroys the contents of the box. Frazier demands to inspect the hostages before allowing the robbers to leave and Russell takes him on a tour of the bank. As he is being shown out, Frazier attacks Russell, but is restrained by another of the robbers. Afterwards he explains that he deliberately tried to provoke Russell and judges that the man is not a killer. However, this is disproven when the robbers execute one of the hostages.The execution prompts the ESU team into action. They plan to storm the bank and use rubber bullets to knock out those inside. Frazier discovers that the robbers have planted a listening device on the police; aware of the police plans, the robbers detonate smoke grenades and release the hostages. The police detain and question everyone but are unable to distinguish the identically dressed hostages from the robbers. A search of the bank reveals the robbers’ weapons were plastic replicas. They find props for faking the execution, but no money or valuables appear to have been stolen. With no way to identify the suspects and unsure if a crime has even been committed, Frazier’s superior orders him to drop the case.Frazier, however, searches the bank’s records and finds that safe deposit box #392 has never appeared on any records since the bank’s founding in 1948. He obtains a search warrant to open it. He is then confronted by White, who informs him of Case’s Nazi dealings. She attempts to persuade Frazier to drop his investigation, but he refuses, playing a recording of an incriminating conversation that she had with him. White confronts Case who admits that the box contained diamonds and a ring that he had taken from a Jewish friend whom he had betrayed to the Nazis.  Russell repeats his opening monologue, but with the revelation that he is in fact hiding behind a fake wall the robbers had constructed inside the bank’s supply room. He emerges a week after the robbery with the contents of Case’s safe deposit box, including incriminating documents and several bags of diamonds. On his way out, he bumps into Frazier, who does not recognize him. When Frazier opens the safe deposit box, he finds the ring and a note from Russell. Frazier confronts Case and urges White to contact the Office of War Crimes Issues at the State Department about Case’s war crimes. At home, Frazier finds a loose diamond, slipped into his pocket by Russell.It’s not a flawless film by any means: the last reel doesn’t quite match up to what preceded it, and the script doesn’t really get you near the skin of the characters (even if it does serve up some delicious, not entirely expected moments). Yet as heist movies go, this is one of the better examples of recent times, with plenty of reasons to recommend it.

REVIEW: COURAGE UNDER FIRE

CAST

Denzel Washington (The Equalizer)
Meg Ryan (Anastasia)
Lou Diamond Phillips (Young Guns)
Matt Damon (The MArtian)
Bronson Pinchot (Lois & Clark)
Seth Gilliam (Oz)
Regina Taylor (Children of The Dust)
Michael Moriarty (Troll)
Željko Ivanek (Heores)
Scott Glenn (Daredevil)
Tim Guinee (Iron Man)
Sean Astin (Lord of The Rings)
Sean Patrick Thomas (Save The Last Dance)

While serving in the Gulf War, Lieutenant Colonel Serling (Denzel Washington) accidentally destroys one of his own tanks during a confusing night-time battle, killing his friend, Captain Boylar. The US Army covers up the details and transfers Serling to a desk job.Later, Serling is assigned to determine if Captain Karen Emma Walden (Meg Ryan) should be the first woman to receive a (posthumous) Medal of Honor. She was the commander of a Medevac Huey that was sent to rescue the crew of a shot-down Black Hawk. When she encountered a T-54, her crew destroyed it by dropping a fuel bladder onto the tank and igniting it with a flare gun. However, her own helicopter was shot down soon after. The two crews were unable to join forces, and when the survivors were rescued the next day, Walden was reported dead.Serling notices inconsistencies between the testimonies of Walden’s crew. Specialist Andrew Ilario (Matt Damon), the medic, praises Walden strongly. However, Staff Sergeant John Monfriez (Lou Diamond Phillips) claims that Walden was a coward and that he led the crew in combat and improvised the fuel bladder weapon. Sergeant Altameyer, who is dying in a hospital, complains about a fire. Warrant Officer One Rady, the co-pilot, was injured early on and unconscious throughout. Furthermore, the crew of the Black Hawk claim that they heard firing from an M16, but Ilario and Monfriez deny they had one.Under pressure from the White House and his commander, Brigadier General Hershberg (Michael Moriarty), to wrap things up quickly, Serling leaks the story to newspaper reporter Tony Gartner (Scott Glenn) to prevent another cover-up. When Serling grills Monfriez during a car ride, Monfriez forces him to get out of the vehicle at gunpoint, then commits suicide by driving into an oncoming train. Serling tracks Ilario down, and Ilario finally tells him the truth. Monfriez wanted to flee, which would mean abandoning Rady. When Walden refused, he pulled a gun on her. Walden then shot an enemy who appeared behind Monfriez, but Monfriez thought Walden was firing at him and shot her in the stomach, before backing off. The next morning, the enemy attacked again as a rescue party approached. Walden covered her men’s retreat, firing an M16. However, Monfriez told the rescuers that Walden was dead, so they left without her. Napalm was then dropped on the entire area. Altameyer tried to expose Monfriez’s lie at the time, but was too injured to speak, and Ilario was too scared of the court-martial Walden had threatened them with and remained silent.Serling presents his final report to Hershberg. Walden’s young daughter receives the Medal of Honor at a White House ceremony. Later, Serling tells the truth to the Boylars about the manner of their son’s death and says he cannot ask for forgiveness. The Boylars tell Serling he must put down the burden at some point and grant him their forgiveness. In the last moments, Serling has a flashback of when he was standing by Boylar’s destroyed tank and a medevac Huey was lifting off with his friend’s body. Serling suddenly realises Walden was the Huey pilot.Truly compelling direction and very special character portrayal make this an extremely enjoyable, very dramatic movie.

 

REVIEW: THE EQUALIZER

CAST

Denzel Washington (Safe House0
Marton Csokas (XXX)
Chloe Grace Moretz (Kick-Ass)
Melissa Leo (The Fighter)
Bill Pullman (Independence Day)
Johnny Skourtis (Dying To Kil)
Haley Bennett (The Hole)
David Harbour (Stranger Things)
Vladimir Kulich (Angel)

Robert McCall (Denzel Washington) is a considered KIA black ops operative who lives quietly in Boston, Massachusetts and works at a Home Mart hardware store; McCall befriends many of his co-workers and helps a security guard trainee named Ralph pass his qualification exam. McCall promised his recently deceased wife that he would leave his old life behind. Unable to sleep, McCall spends some late nights reading in a 24/7 diner where he befriends Alina (Chloë Grace Moretz), a teenaged prostitute for the Russian Mafia; McCall regales Alina with philosophical interpretations of the book he is reading (The Old Man and the Sea). One night, Alina is hospitalized following a brutal beating by her pimp, Slavi (David Meunier). McCall enters a restaurant owned by the Russian mob and offers to buy Alina’s freedom from Slavi for $9,800, but Slavi refuses, dismissing McCall as old and impotent. Failing in this approach, McCall considers the room, estimating it would take him 16 seconds to clear it. He subsequently kills Slavi and four of his men with skillful close combat efficiency. To slight dismay, McCall realizes that it took him 19 seconds to accomplish his task and quietly lectures the dying Slavi that his death could have been avoided had he taken the money.In response to the death of Slavi and his crew, Russian Mafia boss Vladimir Pushkin (Vladimir Kulich) sends his enforcer, Teddy Rensen (Marton Csokas), to Boston to find and eliminate the culprit. In the meantime, Ralph withdraws his security guard application and instead goes to work with his mother at the family restaurant; McCall learns that the restaurant was set on fire by corrupt policemen as an act of extortion. McCall confronts the corrupt policemen, beats them, forces them to pay back all the money they have extorted, and threatens to publicize their crimes. Ralph then returns to Home Mart and passes his test, becoming a security guard at the store.Rensen determines that McCall is the culprit in the attack on Slavi and his crew. McCall repeatedly outsmarts Rensen and his pursuers and completes more acts of vigilantism. McCall then visits retired CIA operatives Susan (Melissa Leo) and Brian Plummer (Bill Pullman) in Virginia; Susan helps him acquire intelligence on Pushkin’s activities. It is revealed that Rensen’s real name is Nicolai Itchenko and that he is an ex-Spetsnaz who ran a wing of the secret police; Susan describes him as “a sociopath with a business card”. Brian reveals to McCall that he had a “nice funeral”; the Plummers are relieved, though not surprised, that he is still alive. After McCall leaves, Susan remarks to Brian that McCall was not actually looking for help, but was asking for permission.After returning to Boston, McCall captures Frank Masters (David Harbour)–a corrupt policeman bribed by Pushkin–by trapping him in his car and flooding the vehicle with tailpipe exhaust to force him to cooperate. Masters relents and helps McCall destroy one of Pushkin’s local money laundering operations. McCall confronts Itchenko at dinner, pledging to bring down Pushkin’s criminal enterprise. When McCall destroys a container ship Pushkin used to smuggle goods, Pushkin orders Itchenko to kill McCall; Pushkin adds that until the deed is done, Itchenko may not return home to Moscow.Itchenko and his men go to the Home Mart and take Ralph and several of McCall’s other coworkers hostage, threatening to kill them if McCall does not surrender. McCall enters the store, disables most of the lighting, and tells Ralph to get the hostages to safety. McCall then kills Itchenko’s henchmen one by one using booby traps constructed with items in the store. After a struggle between McCall and one of Itchenko’s men, Ralph comes back to pull the injured McCall out of the store, but is shot in the leg himself. McCall tells Ralph to turn on the electricity at the breaker box in exactly 40 seconds, giving him his digital watch for precision. McCall sets up small containers of propane and oxygen in a microwave oven. The electricity turns it on, causing an explosion that kills the last of Itchenko’s men. Afterwards, McCall confronts Itchenko and kills him with a nail gun.Later, McCall then travels to Moscow, confronts Pushkin, and sets a trap which electrocutes and kills him. McCall returns to Boston and is approached by Alina, who has recovered from her wounds, found a legitimate job, and taken up reading. Alina thanks him for giving her a second chance. McCall is inspired to continue using his skills to help people in need and posts an online advertisement, now identifying himself as “The Equalizer”. He soon receives another plea for help and agrees to answer it.An Excellent remake of a classic TV Show. A Must see for Denzel Washington fans.

 

REVIEW: UNSTOPPABLE

CAST

Denzel Washington (Safe House)
Chris Pine (Wonder Woman)
Rosario Dawson (Sin City II)
Ethan Suplee (My Name Is Earl)
Kevin Dunn (Transformers)
Kevin Corrigan (Ordinary World)
T.J. Miller (Deadpool)
Jessy Schram (The Lizzie Borden Chronicles)
Andy Umberger (The Accountant)
Dylan Bruce (Heroes Reborn)
Aisha Hinds (Cult)

While moving a train pulled by AWVR AC4400CW’s #777 and #767 at the Veteran Allegheny and West Virginia Railroad (AWVR) trainyard in the fictional city of Fuller, Pennsylvania, the two hostlers, Dewey and Gilleece, take ill-advised shortcuts and accidentally allow the engine to leave the train-yard on its own power without the air brakes engaged. Initially believing the train to be a “coaster”, yardmaster Connie Hooper orders Dewey, Gilleece, and chief welder Ned Oldham to drive and catch up the train to stop it. When Oldham finds that the train has already passed where it was supposed to be, they realize that the train is running on full power and now poses a dangerous threat. Dewey and Gilleece manage to catch up to 777 using a high railing truck but fail to board the train in time. Hooper alerts Oscar Galvin, director of operations for AWVR, and also instructs the local and state police and sheriffs to secure all the grade crossings to prevent injury. Visiting Federal Railroad Administration safety inspector Scott Werner warns that 8 cars being pulled by 777 contain highly toxic, and highly flammable molten phenol which would be a major disaster if the train should crash or derail in a populated area. Triple 7 is also pulling around 5000 gallons of diesel fuel which also poses a serious threat. News of the runaway train soon becomes a media event.However, Hooper suggests they purposely derail the train, but Galvin disagrees and believes they can safely stop the train by lashing it behind two slower-moving diesel engines helmed by veteran engineer Judd Stewart, slowing it down long enough for AWVR employee and former U.S. Marine Ryan Scott to descend via helicopter to 777’s cab and stop the train manually. Though the lashing initially works, a sudden hard bump knocked Scott out and derailed the two diesel engines, causing them to explode, which ultimately kills Stewart in the process. They realize that 777, traveling at its current speed, will certainly derail on “Devil’s Curve”, a tight, elevated portion of track in the middle of the city of Stanton and would supposedly crash into a large fuel depot near the curve on the eastern side of the state. Plans are made to purposely derail the train outside the town of Arklow using a portable derailer.Meanwhile, retiring AWVR engineer Frank Barnes and conductor Will Colson, a new hire looking to turn his life around after an incident with his now estranged wife, are pulling several cars with SD40-2 #1206 from Stanton. Though originally aware of 777 coasting away from the Fuller train yard, they are ordered at the last minute to pull into a Repair-In-Place track, making it just in time as 777 races by and clipping the last few cars they are pulling. Barnes observes that 777 has an open knuckle, which if they could catch up to the engine, they could use to couple it to 777 and use their own brakes to slow the train before it reaches Stanton. As Colson unhitches their cars to give them the best chance of catching up, Barnes reports his plan to Hooper and Galvin and warns them that the derailing idea will not work given 777’s momentum, but Galvin threatens to fire Barnes if he continues. Given that AWVR has already given him a forced early retirement notice, Barnes ignores Galvin and sets 1206 on course to catch up with 777. As 777 passes Arklow, police attempt to shoot the fuel shutoff switch on the engine, but fail to hit it. As Barnes predicts, the train barrels go through the derailers without slowing down. Hooper and Werner fully support Barnes’ plan and take over control of the situation from Galvin.Barnes and Colson catch up to 777 and attempt to engage the coupling. Their attempts to connect with 777 cause the grain car seal to break and leak grain at a blinding rate. Colson notices the locking pin on the coupler is not engaged. He attempts to kick it in but the couple again impacts 1206 and Colson gets his right foot crushed in the process. However, he is able to hold on enough to fully engage the locking pin. Barnes works his way across 777 to its cab, manually engaging the brakes on the freight cars along the way, while Colson engages 1206’s dynamic brakes, which initially slow down 777, but would prove to be no match for 777’s speed. They are able to reduce the speed slow enough to clear the Stanton Curve without derailing by using the independent brake, but 777 remains out of control and threatens to crash into the Stanton train yard. Despite attempting to reach the locomotive by jumping on the cars, Barnes finds his path blocked to 777’s cab, but Oldham arrives in his truck with a police convoy and drives on a parallel road to the tracks. Colson jumps to Oldham’s truck, and Oldham drives him up to the front of 777 allowing Colson to get into the cab and engage the brakes. 777 is safely stopped before it reaches the end of the line.Barnes, Colson, and Oldham are heralded as heroes, with Barnes retiring (with full benefits) and Colson reuniting with his wife and child. Hooper is promoted to Galvin’s former position for her leadership, and Dewey goes to work into the fast food industry, indicating he was fired.Perhaps not a classic, but crowd-pleasing enterainment, professionally done and almost guaranteed to leave you with a smile on your face.

 

REVIEW: SAFE HOUSE

CAST

Denzel Washington (Training Day)
Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool)
Robert Patrick (Terminator 2)
Vera Farmiga (Bates Motel)
Brendan Gleeson (Troy)
Sam Shepard (Swordfish)
Ruben Blades (Predator 2)
Liam Cunningham (Game of Thrones)
Joel Kinnaman (Robocop 2014)
Stephen Rider (Daredevil)
Tracie Thoms (Cold Case)
Sebastian Roche (The Originals)

In Cape Town, South Africa, ex-CIA NOC operative turned traitor and international criminal Tobin Frost (Denzel Washington) acquires a data storage device from rogue MI6 agent Alec Wade (Liam Cunningham). After the pair is attacked by a team of mercenaries led by Vargas (Fares Fares), Wade is killed and Frost is cornered by the gunmen, leaving him no choice but to surrender to the American consulate.

Frost is transferred to a local safe house maintained by “housekeeper” Matt Weston (Ryan Reynolds), a young agent on his first low-level CIA posting and then the CIA sends in a team led by veteran agent Daniel Kiefer (Robert Patrick) to interrogate Frost and bring him back to the US. Weston watches uneasily as Kiefer and his men waterboard Frost. When the power to the safe house is cut, the CIA team realize that they are in grave danger. Vargas and a heavily armed group attack the safe house, killing Kiefer and his team. Weston escapes, taking Frost as his charge. When Weston makes contact with his superior, David Barlow (Brendan Gleeson), at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, Catherine Linklater (Vera Farmiga), another CIA operative, orders Weston to lie low and await further instructions.

Weston hides out with Frost and calls his girlfriend Ana Moreau (Nora Arnezeder), a French medical resident who does not know that he works for the CIA, and tells her to leave the house. Barlow later tells Weston to go to Cape Town Stadium to retrieve a GPS device with the location of another nearby safe house. He retrieves the GPS at the stadium, but Frost creates a diversion and gets away by disguising himself as a policeman. Weston, detained by the police, escapes but is unable to catch Frost. Weston goes to recapture Frost but Frost ambushes him and aims a gun at him as if to shoot him, but then tells him “I only kill professionals”.

Weston is ordered to visit the nearest American embassy for debriefing. Instead he meets with Ana and reveals that he is a CIA agent. He tells her to return to Paris for her safety. Weston tracks Frost to a shantytown in Langa, where Frost is meeting Nicaraguan national Carlos Villar (Rubén Blades), an old contact and document forger. Vargas and his team attack again, killing Villar along with his wife, but Frost eludes him and his men with Weston’s help. Weston brutally interrogates one of Vargas’ wounded mercenaries, who reveals that Vargas is working for the CIA, which is seeking to retrieve the storage device Frost received from Wade. The device contains Israeli intelligence which contain details of corrupt officials and secret money transfers involving American CIA, British MI6, and other intelligence agencies; Weston recognizes the reference to the Mossad because the CIA accused Frost of selling secrets to them before he became a rogue agent. Weston’s own superiors may be implicated. Weston takes Frost to the new safe house, where Weston keeps the housekeeper, Keller (Joel Kinnaman) at gunpoint, because he no longer knows if he can trust the CIA.

Keller attacks Weston, and after a brutal struggle, Weston breaks Keller’s neck, but he is badly wounded in the fight. Frost leaves Weston, who passes out from his wounds. Meanwhile, Linklater arrives in South Africa with Barlow to collect Frost and Weston from the safe house, but on the way is shot and killed by Barlow, who goes to the safe house and reveals that he is Vargas’ employer. He confirms that the file contains incriminating evidence against him, and encourages Weston to lie about what has happened. Frost returns and kills Vargas and his men but is shot by Barlow. Weston then shoots Barlow in the chest, killing him. Frost gives Weston the file and tells Weston he is better than him before he dies from his injuries.
Image result for SAFE HOUSE 2012Back in the United States, Weston meets with CIA Deputy Director Harlan Whitford (Sam Shepard), who informs Weston that unflattering facts about the CIA must be removed from his report, but that he will be promoted. He asks Weston about the file’s location but Weston denies having been told about it by Frost. Whitford states that whoever has those files will have many enemies. Weston leaves, then leaks the files to the media, incriminating personnel from many intelligence agencies, including Whitford. Later on, Weston sees Ana across a street in Paris, France. She reads a note passed to her from him, looks up at Weston, and they both make eye contact and she smiles before Weston walks away.Image result for SAFE HOUSE 2012Safe House is a great action thriller with non-stop action. This is the first mainstream feature for Daniel Espinosa and he comes forth as promising due to his skillful camera work with the action scenes. One of the most impressive is the rooftop chase at night. The editing is pitch perfect as it allows the audience to feel the danger of the situation from each point of view. This film could have been bleak and predictable if the leads were miscast but Washington and Reynolds’ enigma make the film satisfyingly fun and fresh.