REVIEW: RUN ALL NIGHT

Starring

Liam Neeson (Taken)
Joel Kinnaman (Robocop)
Ed Harris (Westworld)
Common (Terminator: Salvation)
Vincent D’Onofrio (Daredevil)
Boyd Holbrook (The Predator)
Bruce McGill (Ride Along 2)
Genesis Rodriguez (Tusk)
Holt McCallany (Justice League)
Malcolm Goodwin (Izombie)
Beau Knapp (Southpaw)
Lois Smith (The Nice Guys)
Aubrey Joseph (Cloak & Dagger)
Nick Nolte (Hulk)

Liam Neeson and Joel Kinnaman in Run All Night (2015)Haunted by his past, former Irish mob enforcer Jimmy “The Gravedigger” Conlon has become an angry drunk. His son Mike, a retired professional boxer who mentors at-risk kids at the local gym, is disgusted by his father’s actions and refuses to call him “Dad” or involve him in the lives of his daughters.Liam Neeson and Joel Kinnaman in Run All Night (2015)Jimmy’s old boss and closest friend, Shawn Maguire, rejects an offer to allow the sale of Albanian heroin in his territory. His son Danny, who received a large fee to arrange the deal, is told to return the money or suffer the consequences. Mike, working as a chauffeur, takes the two Albanian creditors to Danny’s house. The deal goes bad once Danny reveals that he does not have the money, and a brief shootout ensues which kills one of the Albanians. The other Albanian, wounded, stumbles out of Danny’s flat and attempts to escape, only to be shot dead by Danny. The events are witnessed by Mike and his mentee Legs and are captured on Legs’ phone. Danny spots them and attempts to kill Mike, but he escapes.Joel Kinnaman and Genesis Rodriguez in Run All Night (2015)Jimmy has Mike promise not to expose Danny, but Mike refuses to listen. As Mike is leaving, Jimmy spots Danny trying to kill his son and shoots him before he can fire. Shawn sends two corrupt police officers to pick up Mike and kill him, but Jimmy rescues him and shoots and kills one of the corrupt cops before taking Mike him to his family. Mike still distrusts his father, but agrees to give him that night to fix the situation. Jimmy meets Shawn and tells him that Danny was about to kill Mike, and that he might have to speak to the N.Y.P.D. about his criminal past. Shawn furiously says that the cops care nothing for Jimmy’s information, and tells Jimmy he will kill Mike and his family, only then letting Jimmy die.Liam Neeson in Run All Night (2015)Jimmy sends Mike’s family to a remote cabin and takes Mike with him to retrieve proof of his innocence, but Andrew Price, an assassin hired by Shawn, intercepts them before they can collect the evidence. Jimmy is able to subdue him, but is wounded. Jimmy later contacts Detective Harding, a cop who has not been able to prove Jimmy’s responsibility for a long list of homicides. Harding says that witnesses claim Mike was the shooter, not Danny, but Jimmy makes a deal with him: he will prove Mike is innocent and then turn himself in with a list of all the people he murdered in his mob career. The two hide at the house of Jimmy’s brother Eddie. An incensed Eddie reveals that Jimmy is loyal only to Shawn — he once killed his own cousin to prevent him testifying against Shawn and will do the same to Mike. Disgusted and unwilling to trust his father, Mike returns to his family. Seeking to end the blood feud, Jimmy attacks Shawn’s hideout and kills him and his gang. At the same time, Legs visits Harding with the video he shot of the murder of the Albanians. Convinced, Harding has the police check the ballistics on Danny’s gun.Liam Neeson and Joel Kinnaman in Run All Night (2015)Mike arrives at the cabin and alerts the police to his location. Jimmy soon arrives, and Mike finally introduces him to his grandchildren. Suddenly, Price returns and attacks the cabin, fatally shooting Jimmy and then hunting down Mike. Mike is cornered by Price, but Jimmy kills him at the last second. Mike runs up to Jimmy and finally calls him “Dad”. The police arrive and confirm Legs’ evidence has cleared Mike as Jimmy dies, holding the list of his past victims as promised. In the film’s epilogue, Mike is back working as a boxing trainer and chauffeur and living happily with his wife and daughters. He looks wistfully at a photo of himself and Jimmy from long ago on his dresser before he heads out to his shift.Liam Neeson and Joel Kinnaman in Run All Night (2015)This is a very enjoyable film,  The replay value seems to be high with not only the great visuals from the directing angle, but also from the great performances from the actors. Fans of films in general should put this film on on your list to watch, certainly a must see film.

REVIEW: APPALOOSA

CAST

Ed Harris (Westworld)
Viggo Mortensen (Lord of The Rings)
Renée Zellweger (Jerry Maguire)
Jeremy Irons (Justice League)
Lance Henriksen (Aliens)
Adam Nelson (The Abyss)
Timothy Spall (Harry Potter)
Ariadna Gil (Talk of Angels)
James Gammon (Urban Cowboy)
Tom Bower (Out of The Furnace)
Rex Linn (Young Sheldon)

Ed Harris, Jeremy Irons, and Viggo Mortensen in Appaloosa (2008)In 1882, the small town of Appaloosa, New Mexico, is being terrorized by local rancher Randall Bragg (Jeremy Irons), who killed the town’s marshal, Jack Bell, and two deputies when they came to Bragg’s ranch to arrest two men. The town hires lawman and peacekeeper Virgil Cole (Ed Harris) and his deputy Everett Hitch (Viggo Mortensen) to protect and regain control of the town. The pair agrees on one condition: that the town follow Cole’s law and essentially cede control to him. The lawmen begin by confronting four of Bragg’s men who are causing a disturbance in the saloon. Three men refuse to allow themselves to be arrested, forcing Cole and Hitch to kill them. The fourth man surrenders and leaves the saloon. Bragg has a meeting with Cole and Hitch, initiating a standoff.Viggo Mortensen in Appaloosa (2008)Hitch sees a woman, Allie French (Renée Zellweger), who just came to the town and immediately takes an interest in her. He follows her to the diner where Cole is having a breakfast. They make acquaintance with her and observing Cole and Allie are getting together well, Hitch keeps his silence. Soon, Cole and Allie begin a romantic relationship and buy a house together. However, Allie attempts to seduce Hitch when they are alone but Hitch refuses her advances out of his loyalty to Cole.Ed Harris in Appaloosa (2008)When one of Bragg’s men tells Cole and Hitch that he will testify against Bragg on the triple murder case, they arrest Bragg and keep him locked up until the trial in spite of the attempts of Bragg’s gang to free him. The trial finds him guilty and sentences him to death. Cole, Hitch and several deputies transport Bragg via train to the prison where he was to be hanged but when they stop for refueling over a bridge, hired guns Ring and Mackie Shelton (Lance Henriksen and Adam Nelson), old acquaintances of Cole, appear with Allie at gunpoint, forcing Cole to release Bragg to them.Ed Harris and Jeremy Irons in Appaloosa (2008)Cole and Hitch catch up with the outlaws and see Allie and Ring Shelton frolicking naked together in a stream. When the outlaws are attacked by Chiricahua Apache, Cole and Hitch force the Indians away. Hitch tells Cole that Allie’s promiscuity is the result of her insecurity and she really likes Cole. They then turn Bragg over to the sheriff of Beauville; unbeknownst to Cole, the sheriff is a cousin of the Shelton brothers. Knowing that Cole is determined to bring Bragg to the gallows, the Sheltons and the sheriff free Bragg and engage Cole and Hitch in a gunfight. Cole and Hitch are wounded but manage to kill Ring, Mackie and the sheriff. Bragg escapes on horseback and Cole and Hitch return to Appaloosa with Allie.Renée Zellweger and Ed Harris in Appaloosa (2008)After some time, Bragg is granted a full pardon by President Chester Arthur (whom he previously claimed to have known) and returns to Appaloosa in an attempt to publicly reform himself. He buys the hotel and ingratiates himself with the locals. Privately he brags before Cole and Hitch to infuriate them over their failure to hang him. Cole tells Hitch that he still wants to be with Allie, despite her fickleness. Hitch decides to leave the town to make some money and resigns as deputy. Later he discovers that Allie is having a relationship with Bragg and challenges Bragg to a duel. Cole attempts to stop him, but Hitch remains steadfast and asks Cole to permit the gunfight to occur. Hitch manages to fire first just before Bragg fires but Bragg’s shot misses, and Hitch hits Bragg in the throat, killing him. Hitch leaves town, seeing that Allie and Cole are together; his parting thoughts express his hope that Cole can find happiness with Allie and for him, he gladly walks into uncertainty in hope of finding adventure and fortune.Renée Zellweger, Ed Harris, Jeremy Irons, and Viggo Mortensen in Appaloosa (2008)Appaloosa is a subtle film, both in story and as a technical production. Beal’s score is unobtrusive, while Semler’s photography manages to deliver that old fashioned feel that Harris was after (the low lighting for the interiors is particularly on the money) . Harris’ direction is smooth and unhurried in pace, with the odd inspired bit thrown in for good measure (check out the up-tilt camera work during a train on a bridge sequence). While the production design can’t be faulted. All that and you got the likes of Henriksen and Timothy Spall in the support cast too. A lovely film that is as tight as the friendship at its core.

REVIEW: THE ROCK

51PCG88TDCL

CAST

Sean Connery (Highlander)
Nicolas Cage (Gone In 60 Seconds)
Ed Harris (The Abyss)
John Spencer (The Negotiator)
David Morse (Disturbia)
William Forsythe (Raising Arizona)
Michael Biehn (The Terminator)
Vanessa Marcil (Las Vegas)
John C. McGinley (Highlander II)
Tony Todd (Candyman)
Bokeem Woodbine (Total Recall)
Steve Harris (Minority Report)
Claire Forlani (Mallrats)

Xander Berkeley (Kick-Ass)
Danny Nucci (Titanic)
Jim Caviezel (The Passion of The Christ)
Stanley Anderson (Spider-Man)
Raymond Cruz (Breaking Bad)
Philip Baker Hall (Boogie Nights)
Pat Skipper (Bosch)
Kevin Weisman (Alias)
Stuart Wilson (Hot Fuzz)

A group of rogue U.S. Force Recon Marines, led by disenchanted Brigadier General Frank Hummel and his adjutant Major Tom Baxter, seize a stockpile of deadly VX gas–armed M55 rockets. The next day, Hummel and his men seize control of Alcatraz Island and take eighty three tourists hostage. Hummel threatens to launch the rockets against San Francisco unless the government pays $100 million from a military slush fund, which he will distribute to his men and the families of Recon Marines who died on clandestine missions under his command and whose deaths were not compensated.

The Pentagon and FBI develop a plan to retake the island with a U.S. Navy SEAL team led by Commander Anderson, enlisting the FBI’s top chemical weapons specialist, Doctor Stanley Goodspeed. Goodspeed’s confidence, already shaky as he is a “lab rat” with minimal combat training and experience, is further tested when his fiancée Carla reveals she is pregnant. FBI director James Womack is forced to turn to federal prisoner John Mason, a 60-year-old British national who has been imprisoned without charges for three decades. Mason is the only Alcatraz inmate ever to escape the island, doing so in 1963 through uncharted underground tunnels. While in custody at the Fairmont Hotel, Mason flees. He steals a Hummer H1 and Goodspeed pursues in a commandeered Ferrari F355, resulting in a chase through the streets. Mason seeks out his estranged daughter Jade; Goodspeed arrives with a team to re-arrest Mason, revealing to Jade that he is aiding the FBI.

Goodspeed, Mason, and the SEALs infiltrate Alcatraz. However, Hummel’s Marines are alerted to their presence and ambush them in a shower room. All the SEALs, including Anderson, are killed, leaving only Mason and Goodspeed alive. Mason sees his chance to escape custody and disarms Goodspeed, but Goodspeed convinces him to help defuse the rockets, since Mason’s daughter is also at risk. Mason and Goodspeed eliminate several teams of Marines and disable 12 of the 15 rockets by removing their guidance chips. Hummel threatens to execute a hostage if they do not surrender and return the guidance chips. Mason destroys the chips, then surrenders to Hummel, trying to reason with him as well as buy Goodspeed some time. Though Goodspeed disables another rocket, the Marines capture him. With the incursion team lost, the military initiates their backup plan: an air strike by F/A-18s with thermite plasma, which will neutralize the poison gas but kill everyone on the island.

Mason and Goodspeed escape, and Mason explains why he was held prisoner: he was a British SAS Captain who stole a microfilm containing details of the United States’s most closely guarded secrets, refusing to give it up when captured because he knew he would be killed if he did. When the deadline for the transfer of the ransom arrives, Hummel and his men fire one of the operational rockets. During the launch of the rocket Hummel changes the coordinates and diverts the rocket away from its original target and instead detonates at sea. Hummel then reveals that the mission is over and it was all a very elaborate bluff, as he never had any intention of taking innocent lives. When confronted by two of his men, Captain Frye and Darrow, Hummel orders them to exit Alcatraz with a few hostages and the remaining rocket to cover their retreat, while he will assume blame. Realizing they will not be paid their $1 million apiece, Frye and Darrow mutiny against Hummel and Baxter, killing the latter and mortally wounding the former.

Darrow and Frye proceed with the plan to fire on San Francisco. While Mason deals with the remaining Marines, Goodspeed seeks out the last rocket, which Hummel reveals the location of with his dying breath. As the jets approach, Goodspeed kills both Darrow and Frye, disarming the rocket. He signals the jets that the threat is over but not before one jet releases a bomb on the island. Though no hostages are injured, Goodspeed is thrown into the sea by the blast before Mason rescues him. Goodspeed tells Mason that Womack tore up his pardon, then informs his superiors that Mason was killed in the bomb explosion. Mason gives Goodspeed a note that holds the location of the microfilm and the two part ways. Some time later, Goodspeed and Carla recover the microfilm containing a half-century of state secrets, including who actually killed John F. Kennedy.

Directed with vigour by Michael Bay, and featuring a talented cast who get right into the spirit of things, this is an enjoyable romp. With plenty of big stunts, gun fights, explosions, thrills and spills along the way it’s big and loud and a lot of fun.

REVIEW: THE ABYSS

CAST

 Ed Harris (Gravity)
Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio (Limitless TV)
Michael Biehn (The Terminator)
Leo Burmester (The Devil’s Advocate)
Todd Graff (Camp)
John Bedford Lloyd (The Bourne Supremacy)
J.C. Quinn (Days of Thunder)
Kimberly Scott (Batman Forever)
Dick Warlock (Escape From New York)
Chris Elliott (Groundhog Day)
J. Kenneth Campbell (Mars Attacks)
Michael Beach (Aquaman)
In 1988, the US submarine USS Montana has an encounter with an unidentified submerged object and sinks near the Cayman Trough. With Soviet ships moving in to try to salvage the sub and a hurricane moving over the area, the US government opts to send a SEAL team to Deep Core, a privately owned experimental underwater drilling platform near the Cayman Trough to use as a base of operations. The platform’s designer, Dr. Lindsey Brigman, insists on coming along with the SEAL team, despite her estranged husband Virgil “Bud” Brigman being the current foreman. During initial investigation of the Montana, a power outage in the team’s submersibles leads to Lindsey seeing a strange light circling the sub. At the same time, one of Deep Core’s crew, “Jammer”, damages his breathing apparatus in an apparent panic, and falls into a coma. This prompts the admiral in charge of the operation to send Lt. Coffey, the SEAL team leader, to take one of the mini-subs and recover a Trident missile warhead from the Montana, just as the storm hits above. The Benthic Explorer, which Deep Core is tethered to, is rocked by the storm, and the cable crane is torn from the ship. The crane falls into the trench and, without the mini-sub to disconnect the cable, Deep Core is dragged towards the trench, stopping just short of it. The rig is partially flooded, killing several crew members and damaging its power systems. Coffey shows little remorse when they return to the damaged base.
Lindsey is sent in dive gear to retrieve some oxygen bottles from a damaged portion of the rig to give the crew enough time to wait out the storm. While working, she’s accosted by a small, maneuverable pink/purple device, followed by a much larger one. Before she can take a picture as proof, the large craft zooms downward into the trench, leaving her to take fuzzy, smeared pictures of the smaller one following it. She coins the term “non-terrestrial intelligence”, or “NTI”. As the crew struggles against the cold, they find an NTI has formed a living column of water and is exploring the base. Though they treat it with curiosity, Coffey is agitated by it and cuts it in half by closing a pressure bulkhead on it, causing it to retreat. The crew becomes convinced that Coffey is suffering paranoia from high-pressure nervous syndrome. Spying on him through a remote operated vehicle, they find he and another SEAL are arming the warhead to attack the NTIs, and race to stop him. Bud fights Coffey but Coffey escapes in a mini-sub with the primed warhead, and Bud and Lindsay give chase in the other sub. Coffey is able to launch to the warhead into the trench, but his sub is damaged and drifts over the edge of the trough, and he is crushed when the sub implodes from high pressures. The other mini-sub is also damaged and is taking on water; with only one functional diving suit, Lindsay opts to enter deep hibernation when the ocean’s cold water engulfs her, and Bud swims back with her body to the platform. There, he and the crew administer CPR and revive her. Bud and Lindsay reaffirm their lost love.
One SEAL, unaware of Coffey’s plan at the time, helps to locate the warhead, stopped on a ledge several thousand feet down the trench. Bud volunteers to use an experimental diving suit equipped with a liquid breathing apparatus to survive to that depth, though he will only be able to communicate through a keypad on the suit. Bud begins his dive, assisted by Lindsay’s voice keeping him coherent against the effects of the mounting pressure, and reaches the warhead. The SEAL guides him in disarming it, but his only light source is yellow, making two high-contrast striped wires appear identical, forcing him to make a 50-50 choice on which wire to cut. With nearly no oxygen left in the system, Bud types out that he knew this was a one-way trip, and tells Lindsay he loves her. As he waits for death, an NTI approaches Bud and takes his hand. He is guided to an alien ship deeper in the trench. Deep inside, the NTI creates an atmospheric pocket for Bud, allowing him to breathe normally. The NTI plays back Bud’s message to his wife and the two look at each other with understanding.
On Deep Core the crew is waiting for rescue when they see a message from Bud that he met some friends and warning them to hold on. The base shakes and lights from the trench bring the arrival of the alien ship. It rises to the ocean’s surface, with Deep Core and several of the surface ships run aground on its hull. The crew of Deep Core leave the platform, surprised they aren’t suffering from decompression sickness, when they see Bud walking out of the alien ship. Lindsay races to hug Bud.
Special Edition
In the extended version, the events in the film are played against a backdrop of conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union, with the potential for all-out war; the sinking of the Montana fueling the aggression. There is more conflict between Bud and Lindsay in regards to their former relationship. The primary addition is the ending: when Bud is taken to the alien ship, they start by showing him images of war and aggression from news sources around the globe. The aliens then create massive tidal waves that threaten the world’s coasts, but stop them short before they hit. They then show Bud his message to Lindsay, and let the tidal waves disperse without damage, as a warning to humanity.
Excellent film…good quality and being the directors extended version…makes all the difference.

REVIEW: GONE BABY GONE

CAST

Casey Affleck (The Killer Inside me)
Michelle Monaghan (Mission Impossible III)
Morgan Freeman (The Dark Knight)
Ed Harris (The Abyss)
John Ashton (Midnight Run)
Amy Ryan (Birdman)
Titus Welliver (Agents of Shield)
Amy Madigan (Uncle Buck)
Michael Kenneth Williams (The Road)
Edi Gathegi (Beauty and The Beast
Mark Margolis (Breaking Bad)

“Gone Baby Gone” is the first film I’ve seen in some time to confront the veracity of consequences, that unbearable burden of conscience, with fearless authenticity. There are no happy endings here, just life walking despondently down a dark path, making this picture glow with heavy dramatic nuance that’s impossible to flush out of your system. It’s the directorial debut of actor Ben Affleck, and it announces a mighty talent behind the camera to come.

When a little girl is abducted from her Boston home, relatives (including Amy Madigan) hire private investigators Patrick Kenzie (Casey Affleck) and Angie Gennaro (Michelle Monaghan) to help augment the search. Hitting the local dives to rustle up clues to the girl’s whereabouts, Kenzie starts to share information with two cops (Ed Harris and John Ashton) who are working the case. With the coked-up mother (Amy Ryan, in an incredible performance) deceptive and the police captain (Morgan Freeman) seemingly unaware of the details, Kenzie finds his eyes opened by the depth of betrayal, lies, and death that accompany this otherwise straightforward missing child case. What makes “Gone” such a remarkable foray into neighborhood crime is the source material. Adapted by Affleck and Aaron Stockard from Dennis Lehane’s novel of the same name.

Right from the starter pistol, “Gone” drips with the kind of beer-splattered cultural meticulousness that  sucks the viewer into the setting. We are there with Kenzie as he makes his rounds in the seedy bars, grungy drug hovels, and unlit street corners to collect his information. Affleck treats the locations as hallowed ground, retaining the uneasy neighborhood pride that defends even the most derelict of shelters. “Gone” is a place where despair meets fatigued dignity, and Affleck emphasizes every last beat of Beantown bravado with his amazing attention to community detail.

“Gone” is an idiosyncratic tale of crime, told from the perspective of Kenzie and his weary ways, but twisting through a myriad of subplots covering corruption, abuse, and pedophile horrors. Couple that with the screenplay’s machine-gun-like unloading of plot points and character names, and the effect can be dizzying; to counter the weight of the story, Affleck offers rich streams of bruiser dialogue, which rolls off the actors’ tongues with roller-coaster malice. This is sold exceptionally well by Casey Affleck, who defies his beanpole frame to become Lee Marvin Jr., keeping to a strident Boston code of ethics as he pushes himself up into the faces of his enemies and informants. “Gone” contains a rich tapestry of performances that deepen the psychological well of the moment, but Affleck is the anchor, and under his big brother’s watch, he gives a career-best turn as an innocent sent on a mission that will curse his life forever.“Gone Baby Gone” pushes through an incredible amount of left turns in the final act, sorting out the subplots and positioning itself in a manner that explores the shrapnel left behind when steadfast morality is detonated. Throughout the film Affleck cushions the central nightmare with reoccurring images of religious icons and law enforcement camaraderie, leading to a conclusion that places the idea of right and wrong on trial, with Affleck putting Kenzie’s final judgment call into the hands of the audience.