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: 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.