REVIEW: TRUE GRIT (2010)

CAST

Jeff Bridges (Tron)
Hailee Steinfeld (Batley Lethal)
Matt Damon (Jason Bourne)
Josh Brolin (Planet Terror)
Barry Pepper (Battlefild Earth)
Dakin Matthews (Child’s Play 3)
Domhnall Gleeson (Star Wars: The Last Jedi)
Elizabeth Marvel (Lincoln)
J.K Simmons (Justice League)

Matt Damon and Hailee Steinfeld in True Grit (2010)Mattie Ross’s father was murdered by Tom Chaney when she was 14 years old. While collecting her father’s body in Fort Smith, Arkansas, Mattie asks the local sheriff about the search for Chaney. He tells her that Chaney has fled with “Lucky” Ned Pepper and his gang into Indian Territory, where the sheriff has no authority, so she inquires about hiring a Deputy U.S. Marshal. The sheriff gives three recommendations, and Mattie chooses Rooster Cogburn. Cogburn initially rebuffs her offer, not believing she has the money to hire him, but she raises the money by aggressively horse-trading with Colonel Stonehill.Jeff Bridges and Hailee Steinfeld in True Grit (2010)Texas Ranger LaBoeuf arrives in town, pursuing Chaney for the murder of a Texas State Senator. LaBoeuf proposes joining Cogburn, but Mattie refuses his offer. She wishes Chaney to be hanged in Arkansas for her father’s murder, not in Texas for killing the senator. Mattie also insists on traveling with Cogburn but he leaves without her, having gone with LaBoeuf to apprehend Chaney and split the reward. After being refused passage on the ferry that conveyed Cogburn and LaBoeuf, Mattie crosses the river on horseback. LaBoeuf expresses his displeasure by birching Mattie with a stick, but Cogburn eventually allows Mattie to accompany them. After a dispute over their respective service with the Confederate Army, Cogburn ends their arrangement and LaBoeuf leaves to pursue Chaney on his own. Cogburn and Mattie meet a trail doctor who directs them to an empty dugout for shelter. They find two outlaws, Quincy and Moon, and interrogate them. Quincy insists they have no information about the Pepper gang, but eventually Moon divulges what he knows; Quincy fatally stabs Moon, and Cogburn shoots Quincy dead. Before dying, Moon says Pepper and his gang will be returning for fresh horses that night.Jeff Bridges in True Grit (2010)LaBoeuf arrives at the dugout and is confronted by the Pepper gang. Cogburn, hiding on the hillside with Mattie, shoots two gang members and accidentally hits LaBoeuf, but Pepper escapes. However, Cogburn and LaBoeuf argue the next day, and the latter departs again. While retrieving water from a stream, Mattie encounters Chaney. She shoots him, but he survives and drags her back to Pepper, who forces Cogburn to leave by threatening to kill her. Pepper leaves Mattie alone with Chaney, ordering him not to harm her or he will not get paid after his remount arrives. Chaney tries to knife Mattie, but LaBoeuf appears and knocks Chaney out. They watch from a distance as Cogburn fights the remaining members of Pepper’s gang, killing two and wounding Ned before his horse is shot and falls, trapping his leg, whereupon LaBoeuf snipes Pepper. Chaney regains consciousness and knocks out LaBoeuf, but Mattie seizes LaBoeuf’s rifle and shoots Chaney in the chest. The recoil knocks her into a deep pit, where she is bitten by a rattlesnake. Cogburn cuts into her hand to suck out as much of the venom as he can, then rides day and night to reach a doctor, carrying her on foot after her horse collapses from exhaustion.Jeff Bridges and Hailee Steinfeld in True Grit (2010)Mattie’s left forearm is amputated due to gangrene from the snakebite. Cogburn stays until she is out of danger, but leaves before she regains consciousness. She never sees Cogburn or LaBoeuf again, despite writing a letter inviting Cogburn to collect the money she owed him. Twenty-five years later, she receives a note from Cogburn inviting her to a travelling Wild West show where he now performs. She arrives, only to learn that he died three days earlier. She has his body moved to her family cemetery. Standing over Cogburn’s grave, she reflects on her decision to move his remains, and about never having married, as well as the possibility of seeing LaBoeuf again.Josh Brolin and Hailee Steinfeld in True Grit (2010)The movie actually surprised all the hype I had, what an incredible film. The atmosphere, clothing, and the buildings reminded me of the old classic Hollywood westerns they used to make. I had a feeling of nostalgia watching the movie through the end. I felt transported to another time period of the old western. Hailee Steinfeld was amazing in the movie, I truly believe that this is her breakout performance. Matt Damon and Josh Brolin were as usual amazing. But the true star of the film has to be Jeff Bridges, in all respects. His performance showed much more experience, strength and power, the performance was pretty much unforgettable. Jeff Bridges handily reinvents the iconic role of Rooster Cogburn in the Coen brothers’ back-to-the-book-remake. I congratulate the Coen for bringing back the western genre, that Hollywood has ignored so much the last decade or so.

REVIEW: WALL STREET: MONEY NEVER SLEEPS

CAST

Michael Douglas (Traffic)
Shia LaBeouf (Eagle Eye)
Carey Mulligan (Drive)
Josh Brolin (Planet Terror)
Frank Langella (Masters of The Universe)
Jason Clarke (Terminator Genisys)
Charlie Sheen (Rated X)
Eli Wallach (The Godfather- Part III)
Susan Sarandon (Tammy)
Natalie Morales (Santa Clarita Diet)

Shia LaBeouf in Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (2010)In 2001, Gordon Gekko is released from prison after serving time for insider trading and securities fraud. In 2008, Gekko is promoting his new book Is Greed Good?, warning about a coming economic downturn. His estranged daughter, Winnie, runs a small, non-profit news website and is dating Jacob Moore, a top trader at Keller Zabel Investments (KZI). Jacob, a protégé of KZI managing director Louis Zabel, has been raising money for Dr. Masters and his fusion research project, which might create abundant clean energy. Jake is also financially assisting his mother, Sylvia, who has quit nursing to speculate in residential real estate.Michael Douglas and Shia LaBeouf in Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (2010)In the early stages of the downturn predicted by Gekko, KZI’s stock loses more than 50% of its value. Louis Zabel tries to arrange a bailout for KZI from other Wall Street banks but is blocked by Bretton James, head of rival firm Churchill Schwartz (Church), which KZI had refused to help during the dot-com bubble years earlier. Despondent, Zabel commits suicide by jumping in front of a subway train. A distraught Jacob proposes marriage to Winnie, who accepts. Jacob attends a lecture given by Gekko and introduces himself. Gekko tells him that KZI’s collapse started when Bretton spread rumors of KZI having toxic debt. Jacob and Gekko arrange a trade: Jacob will try to reconcile Winnie’s and Gekko’s relationship, and Gekko will gather information to destroy Bretton for his actions against KZI and for providing evidence against Gekko years ago. In revenge, Jake illegally manipulates the market by spreading rumors about the nationalization of a foreign oil field which Church has invested in. The company loses $120 million, but Bretton gives Jake a job, impressed by his initiative. Jake further impresses Bretton when he convinces Chinese investors to invest in the fusion project through Church.Michael Douglas, Josh Brolin, and Shia LaBeouf in Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (2010)Jake attends a $10,000-a-seat fundraiser with Winnie, buying a seat for Gekko to facilitate a “chance” meeting. Gekko confronts Bretton about what he did to him and to KZI. Bretton replies that no one cares what Gekko thinks anymore. Gekko also bumps into Bud Fox, and they discuss their shared experience going to jail. Gekko follows Winnie outside, where she explains why she blames him for everything that went wrong, stemming from his affairs and her brother Rudy’s suicide. Gekko claims he worked, from prison, to get the best therapists and even paid off a drug dealer to stop selling to Rudy, who died from an overdose. Winnie forgives him.Shia LaBeouf and Carey Mulligan in Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (2010)As the financial crisis accelerates, Bretton and business mentor Julius Steinhardt advise federal regulators to buy their multibillion-dollar subprime loans. As real estate collapses, Jake helps out Sylvia with his own money. Shortly after Winnie informs Jake that she is expecting their first child, Jake learns that Bretton is diverting the Chinese investment into underperforming solar panels, which are not a threat to his large position in fossil fuels. Gekko soon informs Jake that Bretton had secretly made huge profits betting against subprime loans yet still accepted the feds massive bailout. Gekko proposes using a $100 million trust fund account, which he hid in Switzerland for Winnie in the 1980s, to fund the fusion research. She signs the money over to Jake, not knowing he would entrust it to Gekko to complete the investment. When Gekko betrays them by leaving the country with the money, Winnie breaks up with Jake. Gekko sets up a hugely successful investment company in London, capitalized by the $100 million. Jake visits him to propose a new trade: Winnie gets her money back, and Gekko can participate in his grandchild’s life. Gekko refuses.Shia LaBeouf in Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (2010)Jake pieces together all the details of Bretton’s dealings, from KZI’s collapse through to his unnecessary government bailout of Bretton’s company. He gives the information to Winnie, telling her that revealing it will bring her website publicity and credibility. When Winnie runs the story, Bretton finds himself under intense government scrutiny while his company’s investors move all their money to Gekko’s firm, which recently posted a $1.1 billion return on investment. Jake has successfully reunited with Winnie in New York, when late one night Gekko appears, apologizes and tells them that he has anonymously deposited $100 million into the fusion research account. One year later, Gekko, Sylvia and other family and friends attend the first birthday party of Louis, Jacob and Winnie’s son.29825-001Not quite as good as the first Wall Street, but good enough in presenting a quintessential villain as an expository mouthpiece for the many failings of Western capitalism.

 

REVIEW: JONAH HEX

 

Image result for JONAH HEX UK DVD
CAST
Josh Brolin (Gangster Squad)
John Malkovich (Red)
Megan Fox (Jennifers Body)
Michael Fassbender (Prometheus)
Will Arnett (The Lego Movie)
John Gallagher Jr. (The Newsroom)
Tom Wopat (Django Unchained(
Michael Shannon (Man of Steel)
Wes Bentley (The Hunger Games)
Julia Jones (Twilight: Eclipse)
J.D. Evermore (Cloak & Dagger)
Seth Gabel (Arrow)
Aidan Quinn (Practical Magic)
Rance Howard (Small Soldiers)
Michael Papajohn (Spider-Man)
Lance Reddick (John Wick)
Jeffrey Dean Morgan (The Walking Dead)
Josh Brolin and Michael Fassbender in Jonah Hex (2010)
During the American Civil War, Jonah Hex (Josh Brolin) served as a Confederate cavalryman until his commanding officer, Quentin Turnbull (John Malkovich), a general for the Confederates who is obsessed with the fall of the Union, ordered him to burn down a hospital. Hex refused, and was forced to kill his best friend, Turnbull’s son Jeb. After the war, a vengeful Turnbull and his right-hand man, Burke (Michael Fassbender), a psychopathic sadist, tie up Hex and force him to watch as his house is burned down with his wife and son inside. Turnbull then brands Hex’s face with his initials, “QT”, and leaves him to die of thirst or exposure. Days later, American Indians find Jonah and revive him with their mystical powers. While they did manage to bring Jonah back from the dead, it is stated that they couldn’t bring “all of him back”. As a result, Jonah acquired the ability to, as long as he maintains physical contact with the corpse, temporarily resurrect and communicate with the dead; the corpse physically and mentally brought back to physical condition prior to death (apparently, only Jonah sees them restored like that. To everyone else, they continue to seem decayed and lifeless). It is also explained that the fresher the dead, the quicker that body begins to burn up as they are being touched. Once contact is broken, the corpse instantaneously reverts to its former, lifelesscondition. When Turnbull apparently dies in a hotel fire, Hex satisfies his hunger for vengeance by turning to bounty hunting.
Josh Brolin and Megan Fox in Jonah Hex (2010)In 1876, Hex rides into the town of Stunk Crick with four dead outlaws and demands his bounty, only to realize that the mayor and sheriff have no intention of paying, intending instead to kill Hex for his own bounty. Hex instead kills them and several sheriff’s deputies, collects his bounty from the dead mayor’s pockets, and leaves. In another part of the country, Turnbull, alive and well, orchestrates the hijacking of a train carrying components of a classified weapon, slaughtering its military guards and civilian passengers alike. When informed of the theft, President Grant (Aidan Quinn) surmises that Turnbull is planning a terrorist attack for July 4, during the celebration of the American centennial. Grant instructs Army Lieutenant Grass (Will Arnett) to find Hex and hire him to stop Turnbull. Jonah goes to a brothel and spends the night with Lilah (Megan Fox), a prostitute attracted to the disfigured man for more than just professional reasons. As Jonah prepares to leave the next morning, Grass’ men burst in and tell Jonah that Turnbull is still alive. They show him a captured thug from the train hijacking who told them Turnbull is headed northwest, before dying during interrogation. But Jonah briefly resurrects the man and learns that he has no knowledge of Turnbull’s whereabouts; the best he can do is tell who recruited him, ex-Colonel Slocum (Tom Wopat), who is running an illegal deathmatch pavilion in South Carolina, to the southeast.
With the help of a corrupt Washington aristocrat, Adleman Lusk (Wes Bentley), Turnbull tracks down and steals the remaining components of the weapon he is seeking. When Hex confronts Slocum in South Carolina, Slocum refuses to talk, sarcastically telling Hex to ask Turnbull’s dead son, Jeb, where his father is. Jonah says that is a good idea, then overpowers Slocum’s men and throws Slocum himself into the ring, to be killed by his own fighters. After setting fire to the ring, he frees a dog being tormented by Slocum’s handlers, which starts to follow him around. In a cemetery in Gettysburg, Jonah digs up and resurrects Jeb Turnbull (an uncredited Jeffrey Dean Morgan). Jonah apologizes for killing Jeb, and says that his father has to be stopped before he murders more people. Jeb reveals that his father is at Fort Resurrection, and then returns to the afterlife.
After entering the fort, Hex sees plans for the “superweapon” that Turnbull has stolen and assembled. In another part of the fort, Turnbull explains to Burke that the weapon was designed by Eli Whitney for the U.S. military, but they refrained from building it after realizing it was simply too powerful to ever consider using. Jonah confronts Turnbull, killing several of his men, but Turnbull escapes and Hex receives a near-fatal wounding from Burke, but is able to escape. He collapses in a field, hovering near death for several days. Turnbull, anticipating that Hex will return, sends Burke to bring him “something Hex loves.” Burke kidnaps Lilah from the brothel. Turnbull test-fires the “superweapon” on a small town in Georgia, which is leveled to the ground, killing hundreds of civilians. When President Grant receives the news, his aide reports that they have no idea where in the country Turnbull will strike, and that they do not have enough military manpower to guard every centennial celebration. Hex is found by his Native American allies, who perform a ceremony that heals him. Back on his feet, he relays a message to Lt. Grass that Turnbull plans to attack Washington, D.C., then rides to Independence Harbor alone to stop him.
Josh Brolin in Jonah Hex (2010)
When Jonah attempts to infiltrate the harbor where Turnbull’s ironclad warship is anchored, Burke spots him and attacks him. Hex overpowers and kills him, then uses his powers to bring Burke back from the dead, just so Hex can incinerate his body completely. Jonah prepares to shoot Turnbull but Turnbull holds Lilah at gunpoint and forces Jonah to surrender. Turnbull chains Jonah and Lilah in the hold of his ship and tells Jonah that he wants him to watch as the Union is destroyed. The ship leaves harbor and steams toward Washington, D.C. A monitor commanded by Lt. Grass intercepts Turnbull, but is quickly destroyed with the weapon, which has been mounted on the bow.
In the hold, Lilah picks her handcuffs and frees herself and Jonah. She holds off the guards with two pistols while Jonah rushes up to the deck to stop Turnbull. Turnbull gains the upper hand and orders the weapon to fire. The weapon blankets Washington with a volley of delay-action bomb shells, and Turnbull gives the order for the trigger shell to be launched. But Hex and Turnbull’s fight takes them down into the engine room, where Hex throws his tomahawk into the weapon’s belt feeder, trapping the trigger shell. He then brutally beats Turnbull and traps his neck in a gear, before saving Lilah. The pair jump into the water just as the trigger shell ignites in the engine room, killing Turnbull and all his men. The next day, President Grant rewards Jonah with a large sum of money, a full pardon, and offers him a job as Sheriff of the entire United States. Jonah declines, but assures the president that if they need him, they’ll be able to find him. Lilah is waiting for him outside the White House, and they leave the city together. In the last scene, Jonah visits Jeb’s grave to apologize for having to kill his father, then rides out of the cemetery with his dog.
Josh Brolin in Jonah Hex (2010)
This is another example of a fun movie that doesn’t deserve anything like it’s poor reputation would suggest

REVIEW: THE MOD SQUAD (1999)

CAST

Claire Danes (Stardust)
Omar Epps (Scream 2)
Giovanni Ribisi (Ted)
Dennis Farina (Get Shorty)
Josh Brolin (Men In Black 3)
Steve Harris (The Rock)
Richard Jenkins (The Cabin In The Woods)
Michael O’Neill (Bates Motel)
Holmes Osborne (Donnie Darko)
Michael Lerner (Elf)
Monet Mazur (Blow)
Mariah O’Brien (Halloween 6)
Eddie Girffin (The New Guy)
Sam McMurray (L.A. Story)
Toby Huss (Rescue Dawn)

The Mod Squad has an intriguing cast, a director who knows how to use his camera and a lot of sly humor. Shame about the story. When you see this many of the right elements in a lame movie, you wonder how close they came to making a better one. The director, Scott Silver, co-wrote the script himself, and has to take some of the blame: This is a classy production and deserves better.
The premise is from the old TV series. Three young screw-ups are interrupted at the beginning of criminal careers, and recruited by a police captain to form an undercover squad. Their assignment: Infiltrate a club where prostitution and drug-dealing seem to be happening. The mod squad doesn’t carry guns (officially, anyway), doesn’t have badges, and I’m not sure if they can make arrests; maybe they’re more like high-level snitches. The members are described by a Rod Serling-type voice over the opening credits. Julie (Claire Danes) was “a runaway–an addict at 18.” Pete (Giovanni Ribisi) “went straight from Beverly Hills to County Jail.” Linc (Omar Epps) “doesn’t blame his crimes on anything.” (He’s black, and so the implication, I guess, is that this is worthy of comment.) In the good-looking opening sequence, filmed by Ellen Kuras, they’re intercut with dancers at a club, get into a fight, and then find themselves being debriefed and lectured by Capt. Greer (Dennis Farina), who orders them to stand up when they talk to him, quit sitting on his desk, etc. Of course their bad manners are a curtain-raiser to bravery, heroism and astonishing crime-fighting skills.Claire Danes and Josh Brolin in The Mod Squad (1999)The skills, alas, are astonishing because they’re so bush league. The main investigative technique in this movie consists of sneaking up on people and eavesdropping while they explain the entire plot and give away all the secrets. Julie falls for a former lover, follows him to a rendezvous with a drug kingpin (Michael Lerner) and overhears choice nuggets of conversation (“None of them have any idea I know they’re cops!”). Then she follows him home and hides in his closet while the faithless louse sleeps with another woman.

Pete, meanwhile, is even more clever. He creeps up on a hideout and hides behind a wall while tape-recording a full confession. It goes without saying his tape will later be played over a loudspeaker in order to incriminate the bad guys. He uses one of those little $29 microcassette recorders–you know, the kind that can record with perfect fidelity at 20 yards outdoors on a windy day.As the mod squaders were creeping around, eavesdropping and peeping through windows, I grew restless: This is the kind of stuff they rewrote the Nancy Drew books to get rid of. Too bad, because I liked the pure acting touches that the cast brought to their roles. Ribisi (from “Friends,” “Saving Private Ryan” and “The Other Sister”) has a kind of poker-faced put-upon look that’s appealing, especially when he gets beat up and goes back to Beverly Hills and his dad chortles heartily at the claim that his kid is now a cop. Danes (“William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet”) has a quick intelligence that almost but not quite sells the dumb stuff they make her do. Epps (“Scream 2,” “Higher Learning”) is the dominant member of the squad, who tries to protect the others from their insane risk-taking.And there’s a small but indispensable supporting role by Michael Lerner as the crewcut evil kingpin, who intimidates his enemies by dancing with them (“I’m not a fairy–I just like to dance”). He delivers his dialogue indirectly, as an ironic commentary on the horrible things he always seems about to do. So all of this is a good start, but the screenplay just doesn’t provide the foundation. Consider Billy, the Josh Brolin character, who is Julie’s once and future boyfriend. We know from the first moment we see him that he’s no good. We’re tipped off by how suddenly Julie goes for him; if the point were romance, the movie would let them take longer, but since the point is for her to be deceived, she has to rush in heedlessly. No girl meets a guy who dumped her and broke her heart, and immediately drags him into a toilet stall for sex. Especially not now that she’s clean and sober, as Julie is (although the movie repeats the tiresome cliche that all recovering alcoholics immediately turn to drink after a setback–preferably swigging from a fifth). What I’d love to know is how the screenplay got green-lighted. This is a top-drawer film with a decent budget and lots of care about the production values. The cast is talented and well-chosen. The movie is even aware of potential cliches.

REVIEW: GANGSTER SQUAD

CAST

Sean Penn (Mystic River)
Josh Borlin (Men In Black 3)
Ryan Gosling (Drive)
Emma Stone (The Amazing Spider-man 1 & 2)
Holt McCallany (The Losers)
Wade Williams (The Dark Knight Rises)
Lucy Davenport (Alice In Wonderland)
Nick Nolte (Cape fear)
Robert Patrick (Terminator 2)
Michael Pena (American Hustle)
Giovanni Ribisi (Some Girl)
Anthony Mackie (Captain America 2)

John Aylward (Armageddon)
Michael Papajohn (Spider-Man)
Jack McGee (The Fighter)
Mireille Enos (Hanna TV)
Jack Conley (Angel)
Josh Pence (The Dark Knight Rises)
Jon Polito (The Crow)
Lance Barber (Young Sheldon)
Michael Bacall (Death Proof)
Anthony De Longis (Masters of The Universe)
Derek Mears (The Flash)
Frank Grillo (Mother’s Day)

In 1949 Los Angeles, gangster Mickey Cohen wants to control all organized crime and argues with local mobster Jack Dragna that they should not allow the East coast mafia to run the town. Meanwhile, LAPD Detective Sergeant John “Sarge” O’Mara raids a Cohen-owned brothel to save a woman from being raped, gaining the attention of Police Chief Bill Parker. Parker believes that more drastic measures need to be taken against men like Cohen, and tasks O’Mara to begin waging a guerrilla campaign against the mobsters. He tells O’Mara (a former OSS commando during World War II) to use his special operations training, learned at Camp X during World War II, and to select a small team that will work without badges or official support from the police.
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O’Mara’s pregnant wife Connie suggests choosing unorthodox veterans like himself, as young high-performers would likely already be on Cohen’s payroll. With Connie’s help, O’Mara selects a small squad of cops: black street officer Coleman Harris, wiretap expert Conwell Keeler, gunslinger and sharpshooter Max Kennard, and Kennard’s Hispanic partner Navidad “Christmas” Ramirez. O’Mara also attempts to recruit his partner Sergeant Jerry Wooters, but Wooters has become lazy and complacent in his job and refuses. Wooters keeps in touch with childhood friend Jack Whalen, who provides him with information on Cohen. Wooters also meets and begins a secret relationship with Cohen’s etiquette tutor Grace Faraday.
gangster-squad
The squad’s first mission is to bust up an illegal Cohen casino in Burbank, California, but things quickly go bad as O’Mara and Harris are captured by corrupt Burbank police who were guarding the casino. Wooters has a change of heart after witnessing the death of a young boy he had been helping out and attempts to shoot Cohen. Whalen stops him and tells him that O’Mara is going to be turned over to Cohen, prompting Wooters to rescue the men from the Burbank jail. Deciding that they need more information on Cohen’s operations, Wooters and Keeler break into Cohen’s house and place an illegal wiretap inside his TV. The men are seen sneaking out by Grace, who agrees to keep their secret. Using the information from the wiretap, the group conducts several successful raids on Cohen operations. After a particularly violent raid on a Cohen drug shipment, Keeler begins to question what they are doing but is re-assured by O’Mara. The media begins referring to the men as “The Gangster Squad”, and Cohen pushes his men to find out who they are. Keeler deduces that Cohen is building a large wire gambling business somewhere in town, and warns O’Mara that if they don’t take it out before it becomes operational Cohen will become too big for even them to stop. Keeler uses wire transmissions to locate the building, and the squad wipes it out. An enraged Cohen realizes that the Gangster Squad must be honest cops when he discovers that none of his money was stolen.
Sean Penn, Holt McCallany, Jon Polito, and Emma Stone in Gangster Squad (2013)
Cohen suspects that his house is bugged and begins searching for the tap. Grace overhears Cohen and fears that he knows about her relationship with Wooters. With the help of a maid, Grace escapes Cohen’s house and meets Wooters, who takes her to Whalen and tasks him with getting her out of town. Cohen finds the bug and begins feeding false information to Keeler. Cohen lures the Gangster Squad into a trap in Chinatown, but Wooters arrives in time to alert the men to the trap. While the men are distracted in Chinatown, Cohen hits several targets himself. Cohen’s bodyguard Karl Lockwood finds Keeler’s listening post and kills him while Cohen goes to Whalen’s looking for Grace. Cohen murders Whalen in front of Grace, who hides from him. O’Mara’s house is hit by a drive-by shooting, the stress of which causes Connie to give birth to their son in their bathtub.
Grace agrees to testify against Cohen for the murder of Whalen, and O’Mara uses her testimony to get a warrant for Cohen’s arrest. The squad arrives at Cohen’s hotel to arrest him and an intense firefight breaks out. Wooters and Kennard are wounded, while Cohen and Lockwood escape. O’Mara pursues them down the block, assisted by a mortally wounded Kennard and his sharpshooting skill. Kennard, with Ramirez’ help, shoots Lockwood just before he dies and O’Mara and Cohen engage in a brutal fistfight that ends with O’Mara eventually beating Cohen to his knees. As a crowd gathers, a bloodied O’Mara walks away and Cohen is arrested for Whalen’s murder.
Sean Penn and Josh Brolin in Gangster Squad (2013)
As Chief Parker had told them, the Gangster Squad is never credited in taking down Cohen. Grace’s testimony ensures Cohen is sentenced to 25 to life at Alcatraz, where he is welcomed violently by Whalen’s friends. Grace and Wooters stay together and he stays on the force, while Ramirez and Harris become partners on the beat. Ramirez is shown patrolling with Kennard’s signature Colt Single Action Army on his hip. O’Mara quits to live a quiet life in Los Angeles with Connie and their son.
Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling, and Josh Pence in Gangster Squad (2013)
This is great fun, it isn’t the greatest film ever made, the most original or anything like that but it doesn’t waste a second and that’s the way I like it.

REVIEW: AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON

CAST

Robert Downey Jr. (Sherlock Holmes)
Chris Evans (The Losers)
Scarlett Johansson (Lucy)
Chris Hemsworth (The Huntsman: Winter’s War)
Mark Ruffalo (Spotlight)
Jeremy Renner (The Bourne Legacy)
James Spader (Stargate)
Cobie Smulders (How I Met Your Mother)
Samuel L. Jackson (Snakes On A Plane)
Paul Bettany (Legion)
Don Cheadle (Traffic)
Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Kick-Ass)
Elizabeth Olsen (Silent House)
Anthony Mackie (The Hurt Locker)
Hayley Atwell (Agent Carter)
Idris Elba (acific Rim)
Linda Cardellini (Scooby-Doo)
Stellan Skarsgard (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo)
Thomas Kretschmann (Dracula)
Andy Serkis (The Hobbit)
Julie Delpy (Before Sunset)
Stan Lee (Avengers Assemble)
Josh Brolin (Jonah Hex)
Lou Ferrigno (The Incredible Hulk)
Henry Goodman (Yes, Prime Minister)
Claudia Kim (The Dark Tower)

MV5BMTk4MjI3NzY4OV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwODY4NjA3._V1_In the Eastern European country of Sokovia, the Avengers – Tony Stark, Steve Rogers, Thor, Bruce Banner, Natasha Romanoff, and Clint Barton – raid a Hydra facility commanded by Baron Wolfgang von Strucker, who has been experimenting on humans using the scepter previously wielded by Loki. They encounter two of Strucker’s experiments – twins Pietro, who has superhuman speed, and Wanda Maximoff, who can manipulate minds and project energy – and apprehend Strucker, while Stark retrieves Loki’s scepter.MV5BMTk4NTc1NTc0NV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwNDQ4NjA3._V1_Stark and Banner discover an artificial intelligence within the scepter’s gem, and secretly use it to complete Stark’s “Ultron” global defense program. The unexpectedly sentient Ultron, believing he must eradicate humanity to save Earth, eliminates Stark’s A.I. J.A.R.V.I.S. and attacks the Avengers at their headquarters. Escaping with the scepter, Ultron uses the resources in Strucker’s Sokovia base to upgrade his rudimentary body and build an army of robot drones. Having killed Strucker, he recruits the Maximoffs, who hold Stark responsible for their parents’ deaths by his weapons, and go to the base of arms dealer Ulysses Klaue to obtain Wakandan vibranium. The Avengers attack Ultron and the Maximoffs, but Wanda subdues them with haunting visions, causing the Hulk (Banner) to rampage until Stark stops him with his anti-Hulk armor.1
MV5BMTU1NzA3OTI1OV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwMjg4NjA3._V1_A worldwide backlash over the resulting destruction, and the fears Wanda’s hallucinations incited, send the team into hiding at a safehouse. Thor departs to consult with Dr. Erik Selvig on the meaning of the apocalyptic future he saw in his hallucination, while Romanoff and Banner plan to flee together after realizing a mutual attraction. However, Nick Fury arrives and encourages the team to form a plan to stop Ultron. In Seoul, Ultron forces the team’s friend Dr. Helen Cho to use her synthetic-tissue technology, together with vibranium and the scepter’s gem, to perfect a new body for him. As Ultron uploads himself into the body, Wanda is able to read his mind; discovering his plan for human extinction, the Maximoffs turn against Ultron. Rogers, Romanoff, and Barton find Ultron and retrieve the synthetic body, but Ultron captures Romanoff.
MV5BNjczNjAzNjgwOF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwODQzMTUzMg@@._V1_The Avengers fight amongst themselves when Stark secretly uploads J.A.R.V.I.S. – who is still operational after hiding from Ultron inside the Internet – into the synthetic body. Thor returns to help activate the body, explaining that the gem on its brow – one of the six Infinity Stones, the most powerful objects in existence – was part of his vision. This “Vision” and the Maximoffs accompany the Avengers to Sokovia, where Ultron has used the remaining vibranium to build a machine to lift a large part of the capital city skyward, intending to crash it into the ground to cause global extinction. Banner rescues Romanoff, who awakens the Hulk for the battle. The Avengers fight Ultron’s army while Fury arrives in a Helicarrier with Maria Hill, James Rhodes and S.H.I.E.L.D. agents to evacuate civilians. Pietro dies when he shields Barton from gunfire, and a vengeful Wanda abandons her post to destroy Ultron’s primary body, which allows one of his drones to activate the machine. The city plummets, but Stark and Thor overload the machine and shatter the landmass. In the aftermath, the Hulk, unwilling to endanger Romanoff by being with her, departs in a Quinjet, while the Vision confronts Ultron’s last remaining body.MV5BZDRkOGQwNWItZjQ1ZC00MjU0LWJiZTUtZWIwMjZkMTdhNWM5XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMTI3MDk3MzQ@._V1_Later, with the Avengers having established a new base run by Fury, Hill, Cho, and Selvig, Thor returns to Asgard to learn more about the forces he suspects have manipulated recent events. As Stark leaves and Barton retires, Rogers and Romanoff prepare to train new Avengers: Rhodes, the Vision, Sam Wilson, and Wanda. In a mid-credits scene, Thanos, dissatisfied by the failures of his pawns, dons a gauntlet2 and vows to retrieve the Infinity Stones himself.MV5BZmQ0YmE1MTMtYWQ2ZS00ZDNhLWIzOTctNjk4YTQ1YmQzZDZhXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMTI3MDk3MzQ@._V1_The Avengers: Age of Ultron is solid entertainment and best experienced on the big screen. Long-running trappings of shared movie universe storytelling remain, and the novelty of seeing iconic comic book characters together onscreen is just as impressive as it was in The Avengers.

REVIEW: GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY

 

CAST

Chris Pratt (Jurassic World)
Zoe Saldana (Avatar)
Dave Bautista (Riddick)
Vin Diesel (The Fast and The Furious)
Lee Pace (The Hobbit)
Bradley Cooper (Joy)
Michael Rooker (The Walking Dead)
Karen Gillan (Oculus)
Djimon Hounsou (Stargate)
John C. Reilly (Step Brothers)
Glenn Close (Hoodwinked!)
Benicio Del Toro (Traffic)
Lauda Haddock (Luther)
Peter Serafinowicz (Spy)
Gregg Henry (Payback)
Brendan Fehr (Roswell)
Nathan Fillion (Firefly)
Alexis Denisof (Angel)
Ophelia Lovibond (4.3.2.1.)
Rob Zombie (Super)
Stan Lee (Avengers Assemble)
John Brotherton (Fuller House)
Josh Brolin (Jonah Hex)
Seth Green (Family Guy)

Lee Pace in Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)Guardians of the Galaxy stars are a loosely shaped band of intergalactic scoundrels who go from being bad guys to heroes despite their own penchant for greed and self-preservation. Amongst them is a cosmic kidnapping victim who goes by Star-Lord, a terrible alias, which is why most folks call him by his Earth name, Peter Quill (Chris Pratt, Parks and Recreation). Stolen from his parents in the movie’s prologue, Quill has become a spacefaring thief and scavenger. He has recently struck off on his own, betraying his adopted crew to sell a mysterious metal orb and pocket the profits. This action sets off reverberations, angering the orb’s intended recipient, a brutal thug called Ronan (Lee Pace, Pushing Daisies), and landing a rather large bounty on Quill’s head. Ronan dispatches one of his minions, Gamora (Zoe Saldana, Star Trek), to get him the object. Blows are exchanged. Chris Pratt manages the physicality with a surprising ease, while also making it okay for those of us sick of Andy Dwyer to like the perfomer again. Zoe Saldana is at her most badass, continuing to prove that she should be the star of her own action franchise. (She was the only thing good in Colombiana). Further complications arise, however, when her efforts are derailed by the presence of the aforementioned raccoon and tree.Chris Pratt and Zoe Saldana in Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)Rocket Raccoon and Groot (voiced by Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel, respectively) are misfit bounty hunters who intend to collect on Quill’s head. Rocket is a violent little bastard who is the product of some sinister experiments, and Groot is a kindly wood creature who comes from parts unknown. These two steal the movie, I promise you. Cooper’s vocal performance has a glee and abandon I’d like to see from him in the flesh, and those who remember how Diesel tugged at our heartstrings doing similar work in The Iron Giant will be pleased to have him work his magic here, too. Groot can only say one phrase, “I am Groot,” and like Woo shouting out a certain obscenity when talking to Al Swearengen in Deadwood, how he says it is indicative of its meaning. The computer effects team for Guardians easily bests even Dawn of the Planet of the Apes for creating believable, fully realized creatures that simply should not be.Lee Pace in Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)The four bad guys tussle on a peaceful planet, and end up arrested. It’s in prison that they find their fifth Guardian, a shirtless bruiser called Drax the Destroyer (wrestler Dave Bautista) who has a grudge against Gamora’s former employer. He agrees to stave off killing her and go along with their prison break if it means they’ll take him to Ronan. And so an unlikely group of heroes is born.Chris Pratt in Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)The basic plot of Guardians of the Galaxy, which was co-written by Nicole Perlman and director James Gunn (Slither, Super), follows the Guardians as they first try to keep the orb out of Ronan’s hands and then, after they simultaneously lose it and discover what it really holds, get it back before he begins a path of destruction across the universe. The main genre is more adventure than sci-fi, and the tone lighter and more comic than a lot of recent superhero movies, but that’s what makes Guardians of the Galaxy so refreshing.