REVIEW: RUNAWAY JURY

CAST

John Cusack (2012)
Gene Hackman (Superman)
Dustin Hoffman (Hook)
Rachel Weisz (The Bourne Legacy)
Jeremy Piven (Mr. Selfridge)
Bruce Davison (X-Men)
Bruce McGill (Timecop)
Marguerite Moreau (Wet Hot American Summer)
Nick Searcy (The Dead Girl)
Leland Orser (Taken)
Lori Heuring (8mm 2)
Joanna Going (Nixon)
Dylan McDermott (Texas Rangers)
Stanley Anderson (Red Dragon)
Celia Weston (Hulk)
Bill Nunn (Money Train)
Cliff Curtis (Blow)
Nora Dunn (Bruce Almighty)
Rusty Schwimmer (The Perfect Storm)
Jennifer Beals (The Prophecy II)
Guy Torry (American History X)
Orlando Jones (Sleepy Hollow)
Gary Grubbs (Angel)
Luis Guzmán (Traffic)

In New Orleans, a failed day trader at a stock brokerage firm shows up at the office and opens fire on his former colleagues, then kills himself. Among the dead is Jacob Wood. Two years later, with attorney Wendell Rohr, Jacob’s widow Celeste takes Vicksburg Firearms to court on the grounds that the company’s gross negligence led to her husband’s death. During jury selection, jury consultant Rankin Fitch and his team communicate background information on each of the jurors to lead defense attorney Durwood Cable in the courtroom through electronic surveillance. In the jury pool, Nick Easter tries to get himself excused from jury duty. Judge Frederick Harkin decides to give Nick a lesson in civic duty and Fitch tells Cable that the judge has now given them no choice, and that he must select Nick as a juror. Nick’s congenial manner wins him acceptance from his fellow jurors, but Frank Herrera, a Marine veteran, takes an instant dislike to him.A woman named Marlee makes an offer to Fitch and Rohr: she will deliver the verdict to the first bidder. Rohr dismisses the offer, assuming it to be a tactic by Fitch to obtain a mistrial. Fitch asks for proof that she can deliver, though, which Nick provides. Fitch orders Nick’s apartment searched, but finds nothing. Marlee retaliates by getting one of Fitch’s jurors bounced. Nick shows the judge surveillance footage of his apartment being searched, and the judge orders the jury sequestered. Fitch then goes after three jurors with blackmail, leading one, Rikki Coleman, to attempt suicide. Rohr loses a key witness due to harassment, and after confronting Fitch, decides that he cannot win the case. He asks his firm’s partners for $10 million. Fitch sends an operative, Janovich, to kidnap Marlee, but she fights him off and raises Fitch’s price to $15 million. On principle, Rohr changes his mind and refuses to pay. Fitch agrees to pay Marlee to be certain of the verdict.Fitch’s subordinate Doyle travels to Gardner, Indiana, where he discovers that Nick is really Jeff Kerr, a law school drop-out, and that Marlee’s real name is Gabby Brandt. Gabby’s sister died in a school shooting. The town sued the gun manufacturer and Fitch helped the defense win the case. Doyle concludes that Nick and Marlee’s offer is a set-up, and he calls Fitch, but it is too late. Nick receives confirmation of receipt of payment and he steers the jury in favor of the plaintiff, much to the chagrin of Herrera, who launches into a rant against the plaintiff, which undermines his support. The gun manufacturer is found liable, with the jury awarding $110 million in general damages to Celeste Wood. After the trial, Nick and Marlee confront Fitch with a receipt for the $15 million bribe and demand that he retire. They inform him that the $15 million will benefit the shooting victims in Gardner.This was a movie that wasn’t over-hyped, filled with talented actors and kept you watching all the way through.  Hackman was flawless as usual as an actor and once again maintained his great screen presence. Hoffman really portrayed the idealistic lawyer character well. Weisz played the female lead with the right mix of the strong and vulnerable.  The plot twists were not overdone but did offer some slight surprises which were hinted at along the way if you payed attention. Overall I’d recommend this movie to anyone, especially those who take their movies seriously

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REVIEW: THE KINGDOM

CAST

Jamie Foxx (The Amazing Spider-Man 2)
Chris Cooper (The Bourne Identity)
Jennifer Garner (Alias)
Jason Bateman (The Gift)
Ashraf Barhom (Paradise Now)
Ali Suliman (Lone Survivor)
Jeremy Piven (Mr. Selfridge)
Richard Jenkins (The Mod Squad)
Tim McGraw (Tomorrowland)
Kyle Chandler (Super 8)
Frances Fisher (The Host)
Danny Huston (Wonder Woman)

During a softball game at an American oil company housing compound in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, al-Qaeda terrorists set off a bomb, killing Americans and Saudis. While one team hijacks a car and shoots residents, a suicide bomber wearing a fake police uniform blows himself up, killing everyone near him. Sergeant Haytham of the Saudi State Police kills the carjackers. The FBI Legal Attaché in Saudi Arabia, Special Agent Fran Manner, calls his US colleague, Special Agent Ronald Fleury, to advise him about the attack. Manner is discussing the situation with DSS Special Agent Rex Bura when an ambulance full of explosives is detonated, killing Manner, Bura, and many others.At FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C., Fleury briefs his rapid deployment team on the attack. Although the U.S. Justice Department and the U.S. State Department hinder FBI efforts to investigate the attack, Fleury blackmails the Saudi ambassador into allowing an FBI investigative team into Saudi Arabia. Fleury gathers Special Agent Janet Mayes, a forensic examiner, FBI analyst Adam Leavitt, an intelligence analyst, and Special Agent Grant Sykes, a bomb technician, to go to Saudi Arabia. On arrival they are met by Colonel Faris al-Ghazi, the commander of the Saudi State Police Force providing security at the compound. The investigation is being run by General Al Abdulmalik of the SANG, who does not give Fleury and his team permission to investigate.The FBI team is invited to the palace of Saudi Prince Ahmed bin Khaled for a dinner. While at the palace, Fleury persuades the Prince that Colonel al-Ghazi is a natural detective and should be allowed to lead the investigation. With this change in leadership, the Americans are allowed hands-on access to the crime scene. While searching for evidence, Sergeant Haytham and Sykes discover the second bomb was detonated in an ambulance. Fleury learns the brother of one of the dead terrorists had access to ambulances and police uniforms. Colonel al-Ghazi orders a SWAT team to raid a house, managing to kill a few heavily armed terrorists. Following the raid, the team discovers clues, including photos of the U.S. and other Western embassies in Riyadh. Soon afterward, the U.S. Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission Damon Schmidt notifies Fleury and his team that they have been ordered to return to the United States.On their way to King Khalid International Airport, their convoy is attacked and incapacitated. Leavitt is dragged out of the wrecked car and kidnapped while Fleury manages to wound one attacker. Al-Ghazi commandeers a civilian vehicle to chase the fourth SUV and the other car holding Leavitt into the dangerous Al-Suwaidi neighborhood of Riyadh. As they pull up, a gunman launches rocket-propelled grenades at them and a fierce firefight starts. Leavitt is tied up inside a complex.While Sykes and Haytham watch the entrance to the complex, al-Ghazi, Fleury, and Mayes follow a blood trail and kill many gunmen inside. Mayes, separated from the others, finds Leavitt and his attackers, preparing an execution video of Leavitt. She kills the remaining insurgents, and al-Ghazi and the team start to leave. Fleury then realizes there is a trail of blood leading to the back of the apartment, and al-Ghazi sees the grandfather and inspects his hand. When the old man gives him his hand, al-Ghazi sees that the man is missing the same fingers as Abu Hamza al-Masri in the terrorist group’s many videos and confirms his suspicion that the grandfather is the terrorist leader. Abu Hamza’s teenage grandson walks out of the bedroom and shoots al-Ghazi in the neck, then he starts to point his gun at Mayes, prompting Fleury to kill him. Abu Hamza then pulls out an assault rifle and Haytham kills him. As Abu Hamza dies, another grandchild hugs him and Abu Hamza whispers something into his ear to calm the child down. Al-Ghazi dies in Fleury’s arms.At al-Ghazi’s house, Fleury and Haytham meet his family. Fleury tells his son that al-Ghazi was his good friend, mirroring a similar scene earlier in the movie wherein he comforted Special Agent Manner’s son. Fleury and his team return to the United States, where they are commended by FBI Director James Grace for their outstanding work. Leavitt asked Fleury and Mayes what he had whispered to her to calm her down. The scene cuts to Abu Hamza’s daughter asking her own daughter what her grandfather whispered to her as he was dying. The granddaughter tells her mother, “Don’t fear them, my child. We are going to kill them all,” a similar line to what Fleury had whispered to Mayes.The Kingdom is a straightforward action flick with enough critical undertones to not be propaganda. It’s a very exciting thriller to watch, but except for the final scene there’s nothing really thought-provoking here.

REVIEW: THE PIRATES! IN AN ADVENTURE WITH SCIENTISTS!

CAST

Hugh Grant (Two Weeks Notice)
Martin Freeman (The Hobbit)
Imelda Staunton (Maleficent)
David Tennant (Jessica Jones)
Jeremy Piven (The Kingdom)
Salma Hayek (Dogma)
Lenny Henry (Postman Pat: The Movie)
Brian Blessed (Flash Gordon)
Russell Tovey (Quantico)
Brendan Gleeson (Troy)
Ashley Jensen (Ugly Betty)
Ben Whitehead (Wallace & Gromit)
David Schneider (A Knights Tale)

In 1837, the Pirate Captain (Hugh Grant), inexpert in the ways of pirates, leads a close-knit, rag-tag group of amateur pirates who are trying to make a name for themselves on the high seas. To prove himself and his crew, the Pirate Captain enters the Pirate of the Year competition, with the winner being whoever can plunder the most. After several failed attempts to plunder mundane ships, they come across the Beagle and capture its passenger Charles Darwin (David Tennant). Darwin recognises the crew’s pet Polly as the last living dodo, and recommends they enter it in the Scientist of the Year competition at the Royal Society of London for a valuable prize. Secretly, Darwin plans on stealing Polly himself with the help of his trained chimpanzee, Mr. Bobo, as to impress Queen Victoria (Imelda Staunton) whom he has a crush on; the Pirate with a Scarf (Martin Freeman) becomes suspicious of Darwin’s motive after one failed attempt to steal Polly.The pirates disguise themselves as scientists to enter the competition, and the dodo display wins the top prize, which turns out to be minuscule trinkets and a meeting with the Queen. The Pirate Captain hides Polly before the meeting. There, the Queen requests that the Pirate Captain donate Polly for her petting zoo. The Pirate Captain refuses and accidentally reveals his true self, but Darwin steps in to spare the Captain’s life, secretly telling the Queen that only the Captain knows where Polly is kept. The Queen lets the Pirate Captain go and orders Darwin to find Polly by any means necessary. Darwin takes the Pirate Captain to a tavern and coaxes out of him that Polly is stashed in his beard. Darwin and Mr. Bobo are able to steal the bird, leading on a chase into the Tower of London where the Queen is waiting. She dismisses Darwin, and instead offers the Pirate Captain a large sum of money in exchange for Polly, which for the Pirate Captain would be enough to assure his win as Pirate of the Year. He accepts the offer and returns to his crew, assuring them Polly is still safe in his beard, though the Pirate with a Scarf is suspicious of his newfound wealth.At the Pirate of the Year ceremony, the Pirate Captain wins the grand prize from the Pirate King (Brian Blessed), but rival pirate Black Bellamy (Jeremy Piven) makes the Queen’s pardon known to all and explains that if the Pirate Captain has been pardoned, then technically, he is no longer a pirate and, as such, can’t be Pirate of the Year. The Captain is stripped of the prize, treasure, pirate attire, and his pirating license and is banished from Blood Island by the Pirate King, and admits his loss of Polly to his crew who abandon him. The Captain returns to London, intent on rescuing Polly. He reunites with Darwin, learning that the Queen is a member of an exclusive dining society of world leaders that feast on endangered creatures, and that Polly is likely on her flagship, the QV1 to be served at the next meal. The Pirate Captain and Darwin work together to steal an airship to travel to the QV1. Mr. Bobo, meanwhile, goes to find the rest of the Captain’s crew to enlist their help.Aboard the QV1, the Queen locates the Pirate Captain and Darwin and attempts to kill both of them, but together they best her. In the battle, they accidentally mix the ship’s store of baking soda with vinegar, causing a violent reaction that rends the ship in two. The Pirate Captain rescues Polly and they escape safely, leaving behind a furious Queen. With his reputation among pirates restored because of the large bounty now on his head, the Pirate Captain is reinstated as a Pirate, and he and his crew continue to explore the high seas in search of adventure.In a few post-credits scenes, they leave Darwin on the Galapagos Islands, Mr. Bobo joins the Pirate Captain’s crew, the Queen is left at the mercy of some of the rare animals she had planned on eating, Black Bellamy is forcefully stripped of his trophy by the Pirate King because of the Pirate Captain’s new infamy, and the crew present the Pirate Captain with their own homemade Pirate of the Year trophy.The cast itself was one of the film’s main attractions and the voice work is first rate. Hugh Grant shows impeccable comic timing, and Salma Hayak voices Cutlass Liz with lots of sass. Jeremy Piven shows that he can do wonderfully with a character that is strongly-written and provides a good contrast to Grant’s Pirate Captain. Brendan Gleeson and Brian Blessed give rousing turns, David Tennant’s Charles Darwin charms and Imelda Staunton voices Queen Victoria as if she were born to do it. A wonderful family film that anybody could enjoy

REVIEW: TWO FOR THE MONEY

CAST

Al Pacino (Simone)
Matthew McConaughey (EDTV)
Rene Russo (Thor)
Armand Assante (Judge Dredd)
Carly Pope (Arrow)
Jeremy Piven (Mr. Selfridge)
Jaime King (Sin City)
Ralph Garman (Yoga Hosers)

Brandon Lang (McConaughey) is a former college football star who, after sustaining a career-ending injury, takes a job handicapping football games. His success at choosing winners catches the eye of Walter Abrams (Pacino), the slick head of one of the biggest sports consulting operations in the United States. Walter takes Brandon under his wing, and soon they are making tremendous amounts of money.

Lang’s in-depth knowledge of the game, leagues and players brings in big winnings and bigger clients. Abrams’ cable television show, The Sports Advisors, skyrockets in popularity when he adds Lang’s slick “John Anthony” persona to the desk, infuriating Jerry Sykes (Jeremy Piven), who up to now has been Walter’s in-house expert. Lang’s total image is remade — new car, new wardrobe and a new look with the assistance of Walter’s wife, Toni (Russo), a hair stylist.

Things suddenly go south, however, when Lang begins playing his hunches instead of doing his homework. He loses his touch and is even physically assaulted by the thugs of a gambler (Armand Assante) who lost a great deal of money following Lang’s advice. Lang and Abrams’ once-solid relationship sours. Lang’s new high-rolling lifestyle depends entirely on his ability to predict the outcomes of the games. Millions are at stake by the time he places his last bet, and Abrams grows increasingly unstable. (Abrams is a recovering gambling addict and alcoholic, among other things. Toni tells Lang early on that Walter’s life is “held together by meetings; if there’s an ‘anonymous’ at the end of it, he goes. He has to.”). He secretly begins gambling all of his own money on Lang’s picks and becomes suspicious that Lang is having an affair with his wife.

The film concludes with Lang’s predictions coming true for the last game, both of which he allegedly determines by flipping coins in a bathroom, as he leaves New York and takes a job as coach of a junior league football team.

Not a great movie by any means, but some truly fine acting from the trio of stars. The supporting cast also gives solid roles despite the skimpy script. If gambling of any sort, and sports gambling in particular, is of interest to you, then this is a movie to recommend. Otherwise see it for the actors, not the story.

REVIEW: SIN CITY 2: A DAME TO KILL FOR

CAST

Bruce Willis (Cop Out)
Mickey Rourke (Immortals)
Jessica Alba (Machete)
Josh Brolin (Gangster Squad)
Joseph Gordon-Levitt (The Dark Knight Rises)
Rosario Dawson (Daredevil)
Eva Green (Dark Shadows)
Powers Booth (Agents of S.H.E.I.L.D.)
Dennis Haysbert (24)
Ray Liotta (Hannibal)
Christopher Meloni (Man of Steel)
Jeremy Piven (Old School)
Christopher Lloyd (A Million Ways To Die In The West)
Jaime King (Bulletproof Monk)
Juno Temple (Horns)
Stacy Keach (The Bourne Legacy)
Marton Csokas (Xena)
Lady Gaga (Machete Kills Again)
Alexa Penavega (Spy Kids)

Just Another Saturday Night

Marv (Mickey Rourke) regains consciousness on a highway overlooking the Projects, surrounded by several dead young men and a crashed police car, and with no memory of how he got there. He retraces his steps, recalling that since it’s Saturday, he watched Nancy Callahan (Jessica Alba) dance at Kadie’s Saloon. Stepping outside, he encounters four rich frat boys burning a homeless man alive. When Marv intervenes, the leader of the frat boys shoots him in the arm, calling him “Bernini Boy,” which Marv mishears as “Bernie.” They flee; Marv follows, stealing a Police car on the way, which he crashes into their car, leading to his blackout and memory loss. He follows the two surviving frat boys into The Projects, the neighborhood where he grew up. With the assistance of the deadly residents lurking in the shadows, he dispatches the frat boys. He questions the leader about being called “Bernini Boy” and learns that it is the brand of coat he is wearing. After slitting the boy’s throat, he considers his coat and realizes he can’t remember how he acquired it.

The Long Bad Night (Part I)

Johnny (Joseph Gordon Levitt), a cocky young gambler, arrives in Sin City and heads to Kadie’s place, where he immediately hits the jackpot on multiple slot machines. Taking a young waitress, Marcie (Julia Garner), with him as a good luck charm, he buys into the backroom poker game led by the all-powerful Senator Roark (Powers Boothe). Johnny repeatedly wins in the high-stakes game, and cleans the senator out. One other player, the corrupt police lieutenant Liebowitz (Jude Ciccolella), warns him to flee the city, but instead Johnny takes Marcie out for a night on the town. He walks her home when Roark’s goons suddenly attack him. He fights them off and tells Marcie to meet him at a hotel before he is escorted into the Senator’s waiting limousine. In payment for the humiliation he suffered at the card game, Roark takes back his money and uses a pair of pliers to break the fingers of Johnny’s playing hand. They toss him from the car and the Senator shoots Johnny in the leg. Roark then reveals that he recognized Johnny as his illegitimate son. However, he remarks that he only considered his dead son Roark Jr. his flesh and blood. He leaves Johnny alive, preferring to let him suffer, and Johnny swears revenge.

A Dame to Kill For

Years before “The Big Fat Kill”, Dwight McCarthy (Josh Brolin) attempts to put his violent past behind him, working as a private detective and leading a life of complete sobriety, struggling daily to refuse his inner demons. After saving the life of Sally (Juno Temple), young hooker, who is nearly murdered by her businessman lover (Ray Liotta), he receives an unexpected phone call from his former lover, Ava Lord (Eva Green), who left Dwight four years prior for a wealthy tycoon, Damien Lord (Marton Csokas). She begs him to meet her at Kadie’s saloon, and despite his embittered feelings, he agrees. When Ava arrives, she begs forgiveness for leaving him and implies she is afraid for her life before her massive chauffeur, Manute (Dennis Haysbert), arrives to escort her home. Unable to get her out of his mind, Dwight sneaks into Damien Lord’s estate, where he observes Ava swimming, but is caught and beaten. Dwight is returned home, where a nude Ava waits for him. He tries to throw her out, but can’t resist her and they make love. She tells him that Damien and Manute torture her physically and mentally, and she knows Damien will kill her soon. Manute arrives and viciously beats a naked Dwight, sending him out the window with a single punch.

Determined to rescue Ava, Dwight recruits Marv to help him, and they mount an assault on Lord’s compound. Marv attacks Manute, putting him in traction and tearing out his eye. Dwight confronts Damien Lord, who denies Ava’s accusations, and an enraged Dwight beats him to death. As he reacts in horror, Ava appears and shoots Dwight several times, taunting him and thanking him for helping her murder her husband and take over his fortune. She shoots him in the face and forces him to fall out of a window, where Marv rescues him and takes him to Old Town. Dwight’s old flame, Gail (Rosario Dawson), recognizes him and saves his life. With the help of Gail and the deadly assassin Miho (Jamie Chung), Dwight undergoes reconstructive surgery on his face and plots his revenge.

Meanwhile, two detectives, Mort (Christopher Meloni) and Bob (Jeremy Piven), investigate Damien’s death. Ava claims Dwight was an obsessive ex-lover, and he killed her husband in a jealous rage. Bob is skeptical but Ava seduces Mort, who believes her every word. They begin an affair and Ava pressures him to find and kill Dwight. When Mort, obsessed with Ava, attempts to track Dwight down in Old Town (an action that would break the truce between the police and the prostitutes), Bob attempts to stop him. An enraged Mort shoots Bob in the face, then commits suicide afterward. Out of options, Ava reluctantly partners with the mob boss Wallenquist (Stacy Keach).

Dwight (with his reconstructed new face), accompanied by Gail and Miho, poses as Wallenquist’s man from Texas. Inside Ava’s estate, however, Manute sees past the new face and captures Dwight. Gail and Miho strike from Dwight’s car, and Dwight shoots Manute with a hidden .45 he had up his left sleeve. Six bullets fail to kill him, and Manute aims shakily at Dwight as Ava unexpectedly grabs one of Manute’s guns, shooting Manute several times. She attempts to convince Dwight to pair with her, and that the pain he suffered revealed his true intentions, but Dwight shoots her mid-kiss, and she dies in his arms.

 The Long Bad Night (Part II)

Johnny visits an unlicensed doctor, Kroenig (Christopher Lloyd), who shoots up heroin before trading his services for Johnny’s last $40 and his shoes. Realizing he left Marcie unprotected, Johnny rushes to his hotel but finds the Senator waiting for him, along with Marcie’s dismembered head and hands. Again, the senator lets him go. Intent on taking down Roark, Johnny scrounges a dollar from a sympathetic waitress (Lady Gaga) which he uses to regain enough money playing slots to buy his way into Roark’s game the following night. Playing a card shark’s con, Johnny folds his first few hands, allowing Roark to taunt him about his dead mother. He once again cons Roark into going all in, then reveals his winning hand. Johnny taunts his father, reminding him that tonight’s story of how the same man beat him twice will follow him for the rest of his life. His vengeance completed, Johnny smiles resignedly, a single tear running down his face as Roark shoots him in the head, commanding his men to get rid of the body.

Nancy’s Last Dance

Four years after “That Yellow Bastard”,” Nancy Callahan is in a deep depression over John Hartigan’s death. She is obsessed with getting revenge on Senator Roark for having driven Hartigan to kill himself. As she wallows in despair, the ghost of Hartigan (Bruce Willis) watches over her, unable to reach her but still attempting to help. On the same night that Johnny joins the backroom poker game, Nancy attempts to shoot Roark from the stage of Kadie’s, but she can’t bring herself to pull the trigger.
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Nancy hallucinates a visit from Roark, and shortly thereafter cuts her hair and smashes a mirror…using its shards to cut her face. She decides to get Marv to help her kill Roark by showing him the scars and making him believe that Roark was responsible. As they step out of the club, they meet a motorcycle gang there to shoot up the place. Marv kills two but leaves their leader for Nancy to finish off. The pair mount an assault on Roark’s compound: Marv slaughters Roark’s bodyguards while Nancy picks off the guards with a crossbow. Marv is wounded, but Nancy continues on alone to confront Roark. Roark shoots her first in the side then the leg and is about to finish her off. Suddenly, Hartigan’s ghost appears in the mirror –startling Roark long enough for Nancy to recover and kill him.
sin-city-2-dame-to-fill-for-jessica-alba-bruce-willisThis is as visually stunning and as jaw dropping as the first film. I was thoroughly engrossed for 90 odd minutes, with the comic books faithfully reproduced. Something over and above many comic book adaptations is happening here, with plots stuck to with few liberties taken

REVIEW: BLACK HAWK DOWN

 

CAST

Josh Hartnett (30 Days of Night)
Ewan McGregor (Mortdecai)
Eric Bana (Hulk)
William Fichtner (The Dark Knight)
Tom Sizemore (Dreamcatcher)
Ewen Bremner (Trainspotting)
Hugh Dancy (Hannibal)
Ioan Grufford (Ringer)
Jason Isaacs (Peter Pan)
Brian Van Holt (House of Wax)
Tom Hardy (Mad MAx( Fury Road)
Orlando Boom (Lord of The Rings)
Matthew Marsden (DOA)
Michael Roof (XXX)
Sam Shepard (True West)
Kim Coates (Goon)
Željko Ivanek (Heroes)
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Game of Thrones)
Jeremy Piven (Kiss Teh Girls)
Ty Burrell (Muppets Most wanted)

Following the ousting of the central government and start of a civil war, a major United Nations military operation in Somalia was authorized with a peacekeeping mandate. Following the withdrawal of the bulk of the peacekeepers, Mogadishu-based Mohamed Farrah Aidid militia loyalists declare war on remaining UN personnel. In response, U.S. Army Rangers, Delta Force counter-terrorist operators, and 160th SOAR aviators are deployed to Mogadishu to capture Aidid, who has proclaimed himself president. To cement his power and subdue the population in the south, Aided’s militia, led by Yousuf Dahir Mo’alim (Razaaq Adoti), is shown seizing Red Cross food shipments, killing anyone who get in their way.  A patrolling Black Hawk helicopter (‘Super Six-Four’ piloted by CWO Michael Durant played by Ron Eldard) requests permission to engage the militia after witnessing the massacre but he is told to stand down and return to base as the UN has jurisdiction. Outside Mogadishu, Delta Force operators capture Osman Ali Atto (George Harris), a faction leader selling arms to Aidid’s militia and bring him to their main base at the Mogadishu Airport.

Atto is interrogated by MG William F. Garrison (Sam Shepard) who states that they will not leave Somalia until they find Aidid. A mission is planned to capture Omar Salad Elmi and Abdi Hassan Awale Qeybdiid, two of Aidid’s top advisers, the US force including experienced men as well as new recruits, including the young and naive PFC Todd Blackburn (Orlando Bloom), SPC John Grimes (Ewan McGregor) a desk clerk going on his first field mission. SSG Matthew Eversmann (Josh Hartnett) is given his first command – Ranger Chalk Four – by commanding officer CPT Mike Steele (Jason Isaacs) after his Lieutenant, 1LT Beales (Ioan Gruffudd), suffers an epileptic seizure. In Mogadishu, a paid informant gives the location of Aidid’s advisors to Garrison, who soon gives the code word (Irene) thus commencing the operation. Delta Force operators, led by SFC Norm “Hoot” Gibson (Eric Bana) and SFC Jeff Sanderson (William Fichtner), capture Aidid’s advisers inside the target building, but the Rangers and helicopters escorting the ground-extraction convoy take heavy fire, while Eversmann’s Chalk Four is dropped a block away in error.


Blackburn is severely injured after falling from one of the Black Hawk helicopters, so three Humvees led by SSG Jeff Struecker (Brian Van Holt) are detached from the convoy to return Blackburn to base. With many Rangers occupied by incoming militia forces, Hoot and his Delta Team volunteer to escort the Humvees. SGT Dominick Pilla (Danny Hoch) is shot and killed just as Struecker’s column departs while manning one of the humvees’ M2 Browning .50-caliber machine gun, and shortly thereafter Black Hawk Super Six One, piloted by CWO Clifton “Elvis” Wolcott (Jeremy Piven), is shot down by a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG), crashing deep within the militia-controlled city. Both Wolcott and his co-pilot are killed on impact and both crew chiefs critically injured. Delta Force sniper SSG Daniel Busch (Richard Tyson) pulls himself out of the wreckage and attempts to defend the crash site from incoming militia, but is severely wounded by gunfire. Eversmann and the rest of Chalk Four reach the crash site on foot, providing covering fire while Busch is evacuated by a Little Bird scout/attack helicopter. Meanwhile, a vehicle convoy rerouted to evacuate them is stopped by militia roadblocks. Somali forces inflict heavy casualties, but two more Ranger units manage to reach the site on foot and occupy several nearby houses, awaiting evacuation.
Durant is ordered to Super Six One’s previous position but it is also shot down by an RPG. Having witnessed the crash, Mo’alim leads an enormous mob, consisting of his own militiamen and many angry locals, to the second crash site. Durant, sole survivor of the crash, attempts to exit the downed helicopter, but discovers that his leg is broken and he is unable to escape, so defends himself from incoming militia as best he can with his MP5. With CPT Steele’s Rangers pinned down and sustaining heavy casualties no ground forces can reach Super Six-Four’s crash site, nor reinforce the Rangers defending Super Six One. Onboard Super Six Two, a pair of Delta Force snipers, SFC Randy Shughart (Johnny Strong) and MSG Gary Gordon (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), volunteer to defend the crash site for the time being. Their requests are denied by command, as Mo’alim’s mob has massed into the hundreds and there is no guarantee when reinforcements will arrive. Eventually, their third request is approved and the pair are landed at the site, where they find Durant still alive. Pulling him from the wreckage, Shughart and Gordon hold off the incoming Somali insurgents until Gordon is killed with a shot to the head. Shughart hands Gordon’s CAR-15 to Durant, then kills several more insurgents before he is surrounded and shot to death by the mob when one gets close enough to dump his entire pistol magazine into Shughart. Durant is then found and nearly beaten to death before Mo’alim arrives to have the mob stand down so he can take Durant alive as a prisoner of war.McKnight’s column gives up the attempt to reach the first crash site, returning to base with their prisoners and the casualties. Garrison begins assembling a second convoy to rescue those still trapped in Mogadishu, this time including tanks and APCs from Malaysian and Pakistani UN forces operating with the 10th Mountain Division. As night falls, Aidid’s militia, led again by Mo’alim, launch a sustained assault on the trapped Americans at the first crash site. On route to Super Six One, Gibson receives an update on the status of the second crash site and is given permission to secure it, taking his Delta Team and a single Ranger with him. When he reaches Durant’s crash site, he finds and scares away the remaining members of the mob, who have begun to strip the crashed helicopter of its parts as well as any remaining gear and ammunition on board. While they are unable to find the bodies of Gordon, Shughart and the rest of Six-Four’s crew, Hoot finds a badly damaged Delta helmet and takes a brief moment to mourn his fallen comrades before destroying the remains of the helicopter to ensure the classified equipment on board cannot be salvaged by Aidid’s militia.

Meanwhile, a badly beaten Durant is being interrogated by one of Aidid’s lieutenants, Firimbi (Treva Etienne), who, when Durant insists that the U.S. government will never trade him for Aidid’s captured advisors, tells him even if Aidid himself is taken or killed, nothing will stop the killing. Throughout the night, militia attacks are fended off by strafing runs and rocket attacks from AH-6J Little Bird helicopter gunships of the Nightstalkers. The next morning, a joint Pakistani-Malay-American relief column is able to reach and save the American forces. Hoot and his team eventually regroup with Eversmann’s “Chalk-Four”, finally killing Mo’alim in the process with one of his own technicals. While casualties are evacuated inside the armored vehicles, a handful of Rangers and Delta Force soldiers are forced to run from the crash site back to the Pakistani compound, a sports stadium inside the UN Safe Zone, while under fire from the militia as they retreat back to friendly territory. The closing credits detail the results of the raid. Nineteen American soldiers were killed; over 1,000 Somali militants and civilians died. After 11 days of captivity Durant was released; Delta Force snipers Gordon and Shughart were the first soldiers to be awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously since the Vietnam War, and two weeks later President Bill Clinton withdrew Delta Force and the Rangers from Somalia. Major General William F. Garrison accepted full responsibility for the outcome of the raid. On August 1, 1996, Aidid was killed in a battle with a rival faction. General Garrison retired the following day.Black Hawk Down is a great movie that is both an eye opener that sticks to the facts as well as a quality film. I recommend this movie to any war-film fan, as well as anyone that likes watching movies in general.

REVIEW: KISS THE GIRLS

CAST

Ashley Judd (Divergent)
Morgan Freeman (Along Came A Spider)
Cary Elwes (The Princess Diaries)
Tony Goldwyn (Insurgent)
Jay O. Sanders  (The Day After Tomorrow)
Brian Cox (Manhunter)
Richard T. Jones (Terminator: TSCC)
Roma Maffia (Nip/Tuck)
Jeremy Piven (Old School)
Tatyana Ali  (Jawbreaker)
Mena Suvari (American Pie)
Billy Blanks (Hidden Tiger)
W. Earl Brown (Bates Motel)
Justina Vail (Seven Days)
Tracey Walter (Batman)

Washington, D.C. detective and forensic psychologist Alex Cross (Morgan Freeman) heads to Durham, North Carolina when his niece Naomi (Gina Ravera), a college student, is reported missing. He learns from the local police, including Detective Nick Ruskin (Cary Elwes), that Naomi is the latest in a series of young women who have vanished. Soon after his arrival, one of the missing women is found dead, bound to a tree in a desolate forest, and shortly after that, intern Kate McTiernan (Ashley Judd) is kidnapped from her home.

When she awakens from a drugged state, Kate discovers that she is being held captive by a masked man calling himself Casanova, and she is one of several prisoners trapped in his lair. She manages to escape and is severely injured when she jumps from a cliff and into a river to escape from his clutches. After she recuperates, she joins forces with Cross to track down her sadomasochist captor, who Cross concludes is a collector, not a killer, unless his victims fail to follow his rules. This means there is time to rescue the other imprisoned women, just as long as they remain subservient.

Clues lead them to Los Angeles, where a series of gruesome kidnappings and murders have been credited to Dr. William Rudolph (Tony Goldwyn), a man known as the Gentleman Caller. Cross deduces he is working in collusion with rather than imitating his East Coast counterpart, but his efforts to capture and question him are foiled when Rudolph escapes. Upon returning to North Carolina, he traces up the river and alerted by a gunshot discovers the underground hideaway used by, as well as the true identity of, the man who calls himself Casanova. Rudolph is revealed to be Casanova’s partner. The actual Casanova escapes, while Rudolph is shot by Cross. Cross then rescues the kidnapped women, including Naomi. After all that has happened, Kate invites Cross to dinner at her house to get away from work.

Ruskin drops by Kate’s house, and sends home the two officers guarding her. While Cross is at home getting ready, he discovers that Ruskin’s signature on the arrest warrants matches that of Casanova. Cross tries calling Kate to inform her that Ruskin is the real Casanova, but Ruskin has already disconnected the phone line. While conversing with Ruskin, Kate becomes suspicious of his creepy elaborations. Ruskin then drops his Southern accent, revealing his true self to her. After a fight and attempted rape, Kate manages to handcuff him to the oven. Ruskin slashes Kate’s arm with a kitchen knife. In attempting to free himself, Ruskin pulls the oven away from the wall, breaking open the gas pipe. Ruskin takes out a lighter, which would cause an explosion due to the leaking gas. Cross shows up and tries to talk him down but when this fails, has to shoot Ruskin through a milk carton so the muzzle blast from his pistol does not ignite the gas. Cross comforts Kate as the police arrive.

Brilliant film and so well acted Morgan Freeman and Ashley Judd had such a good energy between them. Would recommend to everyone