REVIEW: MAN ON A LEDGE

CAST

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

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

REVIEW: WESTWORLD – SEASON 3

Westworld (2016)

Starring

Evan Rachel Wood (Frozen II)
Thandie Newton (Crash)
Jeffrey Wright (The Batman)
Tessa Thompson (Thor: Ragnarok)
Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad)
Ed Harris (The Abyss)
Luke Hemsworth (The Anomaly)
Simon Quarterman (The Scorpion King 2)
Vincent Cassel (Underwater)
Angela Sarafyan (1915)
Tao Okamoto (Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice)

Evan Rachel Wood in Westworld (2016)

Recurring / Notable Guest cast

John Gallagher Jr. (10 Cloverfield Lane)
Tommy Flanagan (Sons of Anarchy)
Scott Mescudi (Meadowland)
Pom Klementieff (Avengbers: Endgame)
Russell Wong (Undoing)
Payman Maadi (6 Underground)
Lena Waithe (Ready Player One)
Rafi Gavron (A Star Is Born)
Phoebe Tonkin (The Originals)
Thomas Kretschmann (Jungle)
Gina Torres (Firefly)
Wayne Péré (Cloak & Dagger)
Michael Filipowich (Earth: Final Conflict)
Charmin Lee (Little Red Wagon)
Rodrigo Santoro (300)
Leonardo Nam (He’s Just Not That Into You)
Ptolemy Slocum (Hitch)
Michael Ealy (2 Fast 2 Furious)
Nadine Lewington (Bigger)
Katja Herbers (Suskind)
Hiroyuki Sanada (47 Ronin)
Jefferson Mays (Alfie)
Iddo Goldberg (A Little Trip to Heaven)
Enrico Colantoni (Veronica Mars)
Jimmi Simpson (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter)
Peter Mullan (Braveheart)
Jonathan Tucker (Charlie’s Angels)
Siena Goines (Jada)
Louis Ferreira (Stargate Universe)
Elizabeth Anweis (Batwoman)
Nelson Lee (Blade: The Series)
Clifton Collins Jr. (Star Trek)

Aaron Paul in Westworld (2016)One of the best sci-fi shows of all time and offers deeper thought than a philosophy or religious course. This show is utterly beautiful while also gritty, and even eerie at times. This show is a microcosm that represents what humans are capable of. Unpredictable, the script is intelligently written and pieced together. The filming is memorizing in cinematographic appeal.Among the many themes throughout Westworld, the nature of reality and the nature of humanity are at it’s core. This show’s plot, the logistical details of the AI, and the universe they exist in are well thought out and blend together nicely. Every character has a backstory and motives in such a way that builds interesting character depth. It is fun to see how characters adapt to the world as they learn. While multiple plot lines are intertwined, raw action and twists constantly occur in this crazy universe that is constantly on the verge of catastrophe.Thandie Newton and Simon Quarterman in Westworld (2016)This show addresses questions such as: What does it mean to be human? What does it mean to exist? What is my purpose? This is explored and searched for by the main characters. While these are introspective questions that can be explored internally; parallel to this musing, their search is embedded in the reality they find themselves in externally. Moreover, it is represented by the mysterious prodding and puzzles intrinsic to the immediate world in which they exist.Tessa Thompson in Westworld (2016)The sci-fi elements of the show touch on advanced AI, multiple realities, self awareness, machine learning, big data, and big tech privacy. This show is spot on by metaphorically addressing these concepts. These issues are becoming more relevant by the day in our lives by shaping the future of human society.Evan Rachel Wood in Westworld (2016)Without a doubt, sci-fi has never been done better, making movies such as the Matrix fall to the feet of Westworld and it’s unprecedented splendor.

REVIEW: WESTWORLD – SEASON 2

Westworld (2016)

Starring

Evan Rachel Wood (The Ides of March)
Thandie Newton (Crash)
Jeffrey Wright (The Batman)
James Marsden (X-Men)
Tessa Thompson (Thor: Ragnarok)
Fares Fares (Chernobyl)
Luke Hemsworth (The Anomaly)
Louis Herthum (What/If)
Simon Quarterman (THe Scorpion King 2)
Talulah Riley (Bloodshot)
Rodrigo Santoro (300)
Gustaf Skarsgård (Kidz in da Hood)
Ed Harris (The Truman show)
Ingrid Bolsø Berdal (Hercules)
Clifton Collins Jr. (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood)
Angela Sarafyan (The Immigrant)
Katja Herbers (Sonny Boy)
Shannon Woodward (Adult World)
Anthony Hopkins (Hannibal)
Zahn McClarnon (Doctor Sleep)

Thandie Newton in Westworld (2016)

Recurrin / Notable Guest Cast

Betty Gabriel (Unfriended: Dark Web)
Jimmi Simpson (White House Down)
Ben Barnes (The Punisher)
Peter Mullan (Hostiles)
Jonathan Tucker (Pulse)
Leonardo Nam (He’s Just Not That into You (film))
Ptolemy Slocum (Hitch)
Martin Sensmeier (Yellowstone)
Tao Okamoto (Batman v Superman)
Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad)
Neil Jackson (BLade: The Series)
Fredric Lehne (lost)
Currie Graham (Agent Carter)
Rinko Kikuchi (Pacific Rim)
Hiroyuki Sanada (The Wolverine)
Kiki Sukezane (Heroes Reborn)
Masayoshi Haneda (Edge of Tomorrow)
Lili Simmons (The Purge TV)
Erica Luttrell (Stargate: Atlantis)
Sidse Babett Knudsen (Inferno)
Gina Torres (Firefly)
Julia Jones (Jonah Hex)
Booboo Stewart (Descendants)
Sela Ward (Gone Girl)
Jack Conley (The Cell)

Evan Rachel Wood in Westworld (2016)The first season of Westworld, and maybe the second, can be encapsulated by an exasperation-inducing exchange in Sunday night’s premiere, in which William (Ed Harris, but Jimmi Simpson plays him, too) encounters an android boy (Oliver Bell) modeled after Ford (Anthony Hopkins, whose character died last season). The boy, in quaint pedal pushers, speaks in digital tongues to William, teasing and prodding him to participate in the park’s games now that the stakes are real. When William grouses about his riddles, the boy reproaches the man in the black hat: “Everything is code here, William.” Soon after, bullets fly.Thandie Newton and Simon Quarterman in Westworld (2016)Maybe I’m being too harsh. Yes, it’s obvious—but for the viewer, his words have deeper implications than they do for ol’ Black-Hat Bill. It’s true that everything in Westworld is code—artificial, semiotic, programmed, significant. In the first season, the audience was introduced to an adult playground, populated with fleshy androids designed for human gratification. As the hosts gained sentience and found a path to liberation, they became stand-ins for human fears: the silent omnipresence of technology, the exploitation of the oppressed, the struggle for self-actualization, and/or the horrifying immortality of creation. They are also, in Season 2, scattered across time and space, broken into contingents of unlikely pairings and shaky alliances, trying to survive within the parameters of the sandbox created last season.If a prestige drama is a complex machine, what’s unique about Westworld is how willing the show is to depict that machine without explaining the processes that comprise it. It’s committed to the endpoint of its fantasies, and surprisingly vague on process, which is one of the reasons Season 1 could be so frustrating. It often feels as if Westworld works backwards—first presenting a scenario, then spending endless future scenes explaining how that scenario came to exist. (I await an explanation for why Evan Rachel Wood’s Dolores is clearly wearing cream foundation and blush in her initial close-ups this season; perhaps we’ll learn that the robot women, freed from their masters, have started experimenting with lipstick feminism.)

Westworld this season is a story about games. The park is supposed to be a hermetically sealed playground that allows participants to safely pursue anything without consequence, but the series itself emphasizes that this notion is actually impossible. Season 2 introduces two new parks; one, as hinted at in the trailers and in details of Season 1, is a facsimile of shogunate Japan, starring Hiroyuki Sanada and Rinko Kikuchi. The other, which I won’t spoil, is such a pointed fantasy of white male entitlement that it leads the viewer to see all of Westworld’s illusions as fantasies designed for that exact viewer. Both underscore one of Westworld’s most disturbing details: practically every female host has been designed to be some kind of whore.Ed Harris in Westworld (2016)The series is not subtle with these thematics, even as it revels in the fantasies it presents. When we get to Shogun World, it’s hard to tell if the show means to comment on orientalism, or if it’s just showcasing samurai and geishas because they look cool. All of its portentous conversations between hosts and humans about android consciousness exist somewhere in the space between an aha moment and an eye roll—without fully committing to either. The spoken discourse is a red herring that distracts from what’s really at play in the show. The hosts aren’t human, and the human characters aren’t interesting. What instead pulsates with life is the sandbox itself: the potential energy of this playground, with its unexplored easter eggs yet to be discovered.James Marsden, Evan Rachel Wood, and Talulah Riley in Westworld (2016)Which is why it is so satisfying—if still rather confusing—that in Season 2, the show has committed to spinning out, sending its sprawling cast on side quests as though they were Dungeons and Dragons campaigners. And as it unfolds, this iteration of Westworld becomes less a story about games than it is a series of games about story. Stakes, climax, and continuity are just tools to be tweaked and adjusted; characters’ personalities and motivations are little more than quirks, drawn from a deck or determined by a die. As the show posited in its first season finale, the hosts’ backstories—the things they keep forgetting and remembering—are both pre-programmed methods of control and pathways to deeper meaning. Westworld follows both avenues, simultaneously. As a result, it’s a scrambled, tabletop R.P.G. of a season, in ways that are both supremely satisfying and incredibly frustrating. Many adventures in Season 2 have the quality of a dungeon master inventing a plotline on the fly, after a few rolls in a row have landed the campaign somewhere unexpected.Evan Rachel Wood and Jeffrey Wright in Westworld (2016)It’s a feeling that other shows might try to avoid. But Westworld is instead embracing it, leaning into chaos, actively doing all of the things that it’s sowing distrust in: producing a mythology, playing a game, telling a story. Its deep ambivalence toward the stuff it’s made of is ultimately what matters about the show, more than the thing itself. Just as Arnold (Jeffrey Wright) installed reveries into the hosts to provide them with a pathway to self-consciousness, Westworld itself is a collection of reveries, seeking to locate its own center. This might be why Bernard (also Wright)—the host version of Arnold—becomes the viewer’s surrogate in the second season. Wright is a criminally overlooked performer in general, but in Season 2 he is the emotional register that the rest of the show is calibrated around. A human consciousness turned digital, he is a part of both worlds—both the watchmaker and the watch. Through him and characters like him, the narrative takes on the structure of the maze metaphor from Season 1—a convoluted, repetitive path towards the middle.Ed Harris in Westworld (2016)Westworld encourages the viewer to see its animated puzzles from every angle. It seems less and less that the show knows what it wants to be about, which will always be a knock against it. But with much more centripetal force than last season, it also draws the audience towards its own center, in its own vivid journey toward self-consciousness. It’s easy to get sucked in to Westworld’s reveries. It’s harder to convince yourself that its dark fantasies are just a game.

HALLOWEEN OF HORROR REVIEW: MOTHER!

CAST

Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle)
Javier Bardem (Vicky Cristina Barcelona)
Ed Harris (Westworld)
Michelle Pfeiffer (Batman Returns)
Domhnall Gleeson (Star Wars: The Force Awakens)
Brian Gleeson (Assassin’s Creed)
Kristen Wiig (Girl Most Likely)
Stephen McHattie (300)

Javier Bardem and Jennifer Lawrence in Mother! (2017)In a house recently burned by fire, Him, an acclaimed poet struggling with severe writer’s block, places a crystal object on a pedestal. The house then suddenly morphs to look newly renovated. In bed, Mother wakes up, wondering aloud where Him is. She starts seeing things around the house that unsettle her, including visualizing a beating heart within the walls.Jennifer Lawrence in Mother! (2017)One day, Man turns up at the house, asking for a room. Him readily agrees, and Mother reluctantly follows suit. During his stay, Man is seen with an open wound in his side. The next day, Man’s wife, Woman, also arrives to stay. Mother is increasingly frustrated with her guests, while Him begs her to let them stay, telling Mother that the guests are fans of his work and that the male guest is dying, and wanted to meet Him. However, when Man and Woman accidentally break and shatter the crystallized object, Mother decides to kick them out.Jennifer Lawrence in Mother! (2017)The couple’s two sons arrive and start to fight over the will left by their father. The Oldest Son, who is willed nothing, mortally injures his Younger Brother and apparently flees, while Him, Man, and Woman take the injured son to get help. Mother is left alone in the house, where she discovers the furnace’s oil tank hidden behind the basement walls. Upon returning, Him informs Mother that the son has died. Dozens of people begin arriving at the house following the death of the son. More people arrive, and behave in a way that bothers Mother; she becomes angrier and eventually snaps when they flood the house. She kicks everyone out. Angry with Him for allowing into the house so many people for his pleasure and ignoring her, she berates him before the two engage in sex.Jennifer Lawrence in Mother! (2017)The next morning, Mother announces that she is pregnant. The news leaves Him elated and inspires him to finish his work. A few months later, Mother prepares for the arrival of their child and reads Him’s beautiful new poem. Upon publication, the edition immediately sells out. In celebration, Mother prepares dinner. Meanwhile, a group of fans arrives at the house. As she barricades herself, more fans arrive and begin to enter the house to use the bathroom. Their behavior devolves into disrupting the environment and stealing their belongings as keepsakes. An increasingly disoriented Mother makes her way around the house as each room devolves into chaos. Him’s publisher, the Herald, takes part in the madness. Military men with guns arrive to help Mother, but a cult of devoted fans forms around Him; they start to engage in rituals.Javier Bardem and Jennifer Lawrence in Mother! (2017)Mother goes into labor and finds her husband. Him takes her to his study, where she gives birth. The havoc outside subsides as he tells Mother that the massive crowd wants to see the baby. Refusing, she holds on tight to her son. When she falls asleep, however, he takes the baby outside to the crowd. The crowd proceeds to pass the baby around recklessly, breaking his neck. Devastated, Mother makes her way to the front of the crowd where she sees the hacked corpse of her baby and witnesses the crowd eating his flesh. Furious, she begins stabbing at them with a shard of glass. They turn on her, beginning to strip and beat her until Him intervenes and stops it. Calling Him and the crowd murderers, Mother escapes their hold and makes her way to the cellar and the furnace oil tank. Her husband pleads but Mother alights the oil, destroying the crowd, the house, and the surrounding garden and trees.Jennifer Lawrence in Mother! (2017)Both Mother and Him survive. However, Mother suffers horrific burns while Him remains unscathed. He asks her for the love she has left for him, and she allows Him to take it. He tears open her chest, and removes her heart. As his hands open the heart, a new crystal object is revealed. He places the object on a pedestal. Once again, the house changes from a burnt-out shell to being renovated. In a bed, a new Mother forms and wakes up, wondering aloud where Him is.Jennifer Lawrence in Mother! (2017)I find the film to be amazing in scope, like Cloud Atlas or A’s The Fountain. Like I said earlier, if you don’t appreciate films like these, or even Black Swan don’t bother. It’s simply not your brand. I feel the film is an amazing encapsulation of our existence performed in very unique fashion. The message here is strong. I prefer the avant-garde probably because I’ve seen so many films. I need to view films that present something new, and this one certainly does. For me, it is a masterpiece. Aren’t artists allowed to target their audience? They all can’t have happy endings.

 

 

 

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: A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE

CAST

Viggo Mortensen (Lord of The Rings)
Maria Bello (The 5th Wave)
Ed Harris (Gravity)
William Hurt (The Incredible Hulk)
Ashton Holmes (Revenge)
Peter MacNeill (Crash)
Stephen McHattie (300)
Greg Bryk (Bitten)
Kyle Schmid (The Covenant)

Ryusoulger-Max-Ryusoul-RedTom Stall (Viggo Mortensen) is a diner owner who lives in the small town of Millbrook, Indiana, with a loving wife Edie (Maria Bello), teenage son Jack (Ashton Holmes), and daughter Sarah. One night, two men attempt to rob the restaurant. When a waitress is threatened, Tom deftly kills both robbers with surprising skill and precision. He is hailed as a hero by his family and the townspeople, and the incident makes him a local celebrity. Tom is visited by scarred gangster Carl Fogarty (Ed Harris), who alleges that he is actually a gangster named Joey Cusack who had dealings with him in the Irish Mob in Philadelphia. Tom vehemently denies this, but Fogarty remains persistent and begins to stalk the Stall family. Under pressure from Fogarty and his newfound fame, Tom’s relationships with his family become strained.
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Following an argument with his father over the use of violence on a bully at his school, Jack runs away. He is caught by Fogarty, who, with Jack as his hostage, goes with his men to the Stall house and demands that “Joey” return to Philadelphia with them. After the gangsters release Jack, Tom is slow to join them in their car, so they attempt to force him to cooperate. Tom kills the two henchmen with the same precision he used against the robbers, but Fogarty shoots Tom as Tom is aiming at him. As Fogarty is standing over Tom, preparing to kill him, Tom finally admits he is indeed Joey. However, before Fogarty can deliver a coup de grâce, Jack kills Fogarty with a shotgun.
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At the hospital, Edie confronts Tom, claiming that while he was attacking Fogarty’s men, she saw “the real Joey” that Fogarty was talking about. Tom shocks Edie by admitting that he is actually Joey Cusack, and that he has killed for both money and pleasure. He tells Edie that he ran away from Philadelphia to escape his violent criminal past. This admission deepens the tensions in their marriage.
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After Tom gets out of the hospital, Sam (Peter MacNeill), the local sheriff, pays a visit. Sam expresses confusion about everything that has happened. He tells Tom and Edie that these mobsters wouldn’t go to all this trouble if they weren’t sure they had the right man. Just when Tom is about to confess, Edie lies to Sam, claiming that Tom is who he says he is, that their family has suffered enough. At a loss for words after Edie breaks down into tears, Sam leaves. Edie and Tom then start slapping and hitting each other, their fight eventually culminating in violent sex on the stairs; this is in contrast to the tender and romantic sex they were shown having in the beginning of the film. Afterward, Edie and Jack continue to further distance themselves from Tom, leaving him isolated. He receives a call from his brother Richie Cusack (William Hurt), who also demands his return to Philadelphia, or else he will come to Indiana to find him. After traveling to meet his brother, Tom learns that the other mobsters whom he had offended in Philadelphia took out their frustrations on Richie, penalizing him financially and delaying his advancement in the organization. Tom offers to make peace, but Richie orders his men to kill his brother. Tom manages to kill most of the guards and escape. As Richie and his last henchman are hunting for him, Tom surprises and dispatches both.
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Tom returns home, where the atmosphere is tense and silent as the family sits around the dinner table. The future of his marriage and his life as Tom Stall are uncertain, but Jack and Sarah indicate their acceptance of their father by setting a plate for him and passing him some food. The film ends as Edie looks up at Tom, leaving their future in question.

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There is violence, and there is sex, but all tightly controlled and more tense than graphic, and all carefully crafted to service the story. The ending will disappoint you if you tackle this as a mere action movie.. but if you want a real kick off into the whole subject of the influence and effects of violence, then this is a perfect place to start.