REVIEW: SABOTAGE

CAST

Arnold Schwarzenegger (Maggie)
Sam Worthington (Avatar)
Mireille Enos (Devil’s Knot)
Olivia Williams (Dollhouse)
Terrence Howard (Iron Man)
Joe Manganiello (Justice LEague)
Harold Perrineau (Constantine)
Maritn Donovan (Legends of Tomorrow)
Max Martini (The Unit)
Josh Holloway (Lost)

John “Breacher” Wharton is the leader of a DEA FAST Team, which consists of James “Monster” Murray, Monster’s wife Lizzy Murray, Joe “Grinder” Philips, Julius “Sugar” Edmonds, Eddie “Neck” Jordan, Tom “Pyro” Roberts, Bryce “Tripod” McNeely and “Smoke” Jennings.During a raid on a cartel warehouse, Smoke is killed, the team steals $10 million and hides it in the sewer while blowing up the rest to cover their tracks. The money disappears, and their superior Floyd Demel suspends them while the DEA investigates the team for the theft. After several months without any confessions or evidence of their participation, the team is reinstated. Pyro is killed after an unidentified stranger tows his trailer onto a railroad crossing while he is unconscious and is rammed by a train before he could escape. Atlanta Police homicide detective Caroline Brentwood and her partner Darius Jackson are assigned to the case and interrogate Pyro’s teammates.Brentwood notes Neck is aggressively avoiding interrogation, and Breacher accompanies her to Neck’s house hopeful he will cooperate. When they arrive, they find him nailed to the ceiling and disemboweled. Brentwood recognizes the execution as the modus operandi of the cartels, leading Breacher to assume the cartel is hunting the team over the stolen money.Breacher and Brentwood visit Tripod, who left the DEA after being suspended, and find him dead after a shootout in which he killed an assailant Breacher identified as a cartel enforcer. Monster later visits Brentwood, who is suspicious of Breacher. Monster tells her that Breacher’s family was kidnapped by the cartels, who videotaped their murders and later sent the tape to Breacher along with the severed body parts of his wife and son. Breacher spent months searching for his family’s killers before the team convinced him to move on. Brentwood apologizes to Breacher, and they have sex.Jackson traces the dead enforcer’s cellphone to a cartel safe house, which is raided by Breacher and his team, but the enforcers are not there. They are later found dead at the bottom of a river near Tripod’s house, and Detective Brentwood realizes that they were killed before Pyro and Neck, meaning someone is framing the cartel for killing their team members. Breacher reunites the team to tell them what happened, and Lizzy lashes out and reveals she’s been having an affair with Sugar. Grinder confides in Brentwood that they stole the money. Breacher and Brentwood meet with Grinder in a local restaurant and Lizzy kills Grinder using a sniper rifle. Lizzy and Sugar have been behind the murders of their teammates. Lizzy is putting together her gear to leave the country with Sugar when Monster figures out she’s behind the murders. He destroys Lizzy’s passport to prevent her from leaving the country, and Lizzy attacks him with a knife, killing him.Breacher and Brentwood go to Lizzy’s house and find Monster’s body stuffed in a refrigerator. Lizzy calls Breacher, pretending to be alone, and arranges a meeting at a parking garage. Breacher goes there with Detective Brentwood, who ducks down in the car, unseen. Lizzy and Sugar ambush Breacher, and Brentwood assists Breacher. Lizzy and Sugar drive away, chased by Breacher and Brentwood. Sugar and Lizzy’s car crashes into a tow truck, decapitating Sugar. Breacher and Brentwood confront a dying Lizzy, who accuses the team of stealing the money behind her back, motivating her to seek revenge. Brentwood is puzzled, assuming Lizzy had stolen the money. Breacher tells the dying Lizzy that he took the money. Lizzy tries to reach for her weapon and Breacher kills her. The local cops arrive and Breacher disappears. Weeks later, Breacher is in Mexico, where he uses the stolen money to bribe a corrupt police official into helping him identify Brujo, the man who murdered his family. Breacher finds him in a Mexican bar and kills him and others loyal to him in a shootout and he is shot in the chest. Breacher sits at a table, takes a shot of whiskey, lights up one last cigar and smiles as he hears the sirens.While its not your old school Arnold Schwarzenegger film, it sure provides a deep story, with amazing acting, and while few action scenes, the action we see is done amazingly. Fans of the action genre who like to see real R rated action will likely enjoy this film. Others may be turned off since its not your average 80s or 90s Arnold film.

 

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CHRISTMAS 2017 REVIEW: SAVED!

CAST
Jena Malone (Donnie Darko)
Mandy Moore (License To Wed)
Macaulay Culkin (Party Monsters(
Patrick Fugit (Gone Girl)
Heather Matarazzo (Hostel – Part II)
Eva Amurri Martino (New Girl)
Chad Faust (Heroes)
Elizabeth Thai (Andromeda)
Martin Donovan (Ant-Man)
Mary-Louise Parker (Red)
Kett Turton (Wrath of The Titans)
Nicki Clyne (Battlestar Galactica)
Aaron Douglas (The Mentor)
Teenager Mary Cummings (Jena Malone), who has “been born again her whole life,” is about to enter her senior year at American Eagle Christian High School near Baltimore. She and her two best friends, Hilary Faye (Mandy Moore) and Veronica (Elizabeth Thai), have formed a girl group called the Christian Jewels. Mary’s “perfect Christian boyfriend” Dean Withers (Chad Faust) tells her, as they’re swimming underwater, that he thinks he’s gay. In her shock, Mary hits her head in the pool and has a vision in which Jesus tells her that she must do everything she can to help Dean. Hoping for a sign, Mary goes to a shooting range with Hilary Faye, who has a “spiritual solution for everything” and tells Mary (not knowing about the situation with Dean) that if all else fails, Jesus could still restore their “spiritual and emotional virginity.” Believing that Jesus will restore her purity, Mary sacrifices her virginity to have sex with Dean in an attempt to restore his heterosexuality.
Despite Mary’s efforts, when she comes by Dean’s house on the morning of the first day of school, Dean’s parents tell her that they found gay pornography under his bed and that they’re sending him to Mercy House, a Christian treatment center. Mary tells her friends, as well as Hilary’s brother Roland (Macaulay Culkin), who uses a wheelchair, about Dean’s homosexuality, and makes them promise to keep it a secret. When they arrive at school, they see Cassandra Edelstein (Eva Amurri), the school’s only Jewish student and a rebel who despises Hilary. In homeroom, Mary meets new student Patrick (Patrick Fugit), the son of the school’s principal, Pastor Skip Wheeler (Martin Donovan), a skateboarder who has been doing missionary work (through skateboarding) in South America. Mary tries to put up a good front at the assembly, in which Cassandra fakes speaking in tongues in order to get under the skins of the other students.
Mary soon realizes that she is pregnant from her encounter with Dean. When she goes to Planned Parenthood to confirm the pregnancy, she is seen by Roland and Cassandra. Roland reveals that he isn’t really a Christian, unlike his fanatically religious sister. Cassandra reveals she’s only at American Eagle after being thrown out of her old school and decided she could “handle the freaks” at American Eagle over being homeschooled by her parents. Roland and Cassandra bond over their shared skepticism. Mary finds out that she’s not due to give birth until after her high school graduation and decides to hide her condition from her friends and family until then. However, she feels forsaken by Jesus and loses her faith, causing her to be ostracized by Hilary and replaced in the Christian Jewels with a previously unpopular girl, Tia (Heather Matarazzo), who’s been struggling to get into the Christian Jewels for years. Later, after Pastor Skip gets word about Mary, he tells the Jewels to help Mary regain her faith, but they seem to misunderstand him and stop Mary in the street and try to exorcise her of demons instead.
By Christmas, Mary is still hiding her pregnancy. Cassandra mocks her about it when they are alone in the bathroom, but when she realizes Mary’s anguish, Cassandra changes her tone and offers her support. They cut school with Roland, and the three of them become good friends. When they run into Patrick and Hilary at the mall, Cassandra distracts Hilary (pretending she wants to be converted) while Patrick and Mary sneak away and Patrick confesses his feelings for Mary. Pastor Skip warns his son when they’re at home together against dating Mary, even as Pastor Skip (still married to his wife, although they live separate lives) has been secretly dating Mary’s mother, Lillian (Mary-Louise Parker).
A few months later, after multiple fights at school between Hilary Faye and Cassandra, Pastor Skip puts Roland, Cassandra and Mary on the school prom committee (chaired by Hilary Faye) to punish them. While working together, Patrick asks Mary to go with him to the prom, which Mary accepts, but as friends. Later that day, Roland and Cassandra get their hands on a picture of a younger, much heavier, and much more awkward Hilary Faye and load it onto the desktop of every computer in the school. The next day, someone vandalizes the school with graffiti. Mary and Cassandra are initially the prime suspects, and to their shock the spray cans are found in their lockers. While searching the lockers with the Jewels looking on, Mary’s homeroom teacher finds a sonogram of Mary’s baby. She tries to hide it, but it drops to the ground in front of Pastor Skip’s feet. Cassandra is expelled from school, while Mary is banned from the prom.
Pastor Skip tells Lillian that he will break off their relationship if she doesn’t send Mary to Mercy House. Lillian decides that she’s going to send Mary away, saying that it’s the best thing for Mary and the baby, but secretly because she doesn’t want Skip to break up with her. Despite being banned, Cassandra and Roland scheme to go to prom and to bring Mary with them, providing her with a dress and inviting Patrick to meet them. Roland also finds that Hilary Faye charged several cans of spray paint to her credit card just hours before the attack—indicating that she was the one who spray-painted the school.
Hilary Faye, Tia and Veronica head to the prom. On their way in, Tia finds a credit-card receipt for the spray paint—signed by Hilary Faye, revealing that Hilary did, in fact, spray-paint the school. When Mary, Patrick, Cassandra and Roland arrive, Hilary attempts to have Mary and Cassandra thrown out, but Pastor Skip decides to let them stay. The four then accuse Hilary Faye of committing the vandalism herself and framing Mary and Cassandra for it as revenge for humiliating her. Hilary Faye attempts to swear before God that she is innocent, but Tia, fed up with Hilary Faye’s lies and hypocrisy, reveals the signed receipt to everyone, exposing Hilary as the true vandal. Veronica turns on Hilary as well, calling her a fake.Eva Amurri Martino and Martin Donovan in Saved! (2004)As the now-exposed Hilary Faye flees with the others in pursuit, Dean suddenly arrives with other teenagers from Mercy House. Dean is surprised, but not upset, by Mary’s pregnancy; he meets Patrick warmly, and Mary is similarly accepting towards Dean’s roommate/boyfriend Mitch. Pastor Skip tries to send the new arrivals back to Mercy House, but they refuse, and Mary and her friends support them. Suddenly, Hilary crashes her van into the school’s huge effigy of Jesus. Realizing what she has done, she breaks down in tears of regret. Cassandra shows some sympathy towards Hilary, feeling sorry for her. As paramedics arrive to the accident scene, Mary abruptly goes into labor and is taken to the hospital.
In her hospital room, Mary’s and Dean’s friends and family crowd around the baby girl, while Pastor Skip waits outside debating whether to come in. In a voice-over, Mary tells the audience how she has returned to believing in a God who loves and helps the ones that love and help others in need.
Jena Malone in Saved! (2004)
It’s a brilliantly funny but also has underlying moral issues about Christianity and acceptance and deals with many different types of problems facing adolescents, from disability to underage pregnancy

REVIEW: THE RELUCTANT FUNDAMENTALIST

CAST

Riz Ahmed (Rogue One)
Kate Hudson (Gossip)
Liev Schreiber (The 5th Wave)
Kiefer Sutherland (Pompeii)
Martin Donovan (Legends of Tomorrow)

In 2011, Anse Rainier (Gary Richardson), an American professor at Lahore University, is kidnapped soon after he leaves a cinema. A ransom video is sent to the US embassy, demanding the release of 690 detainees from what is described as a Muslim concentration camp in Kot Lakhpat and €700,000 for the children of Waziristan. Bobby Lincoln (Liev Schreiber), an American journalist and undercover CIA informant in Pakistan, arranges to interview a colleague of Rainer, Changez Khan (Riz Ahmed), whom he suspects is involved in the kidnapping.Changez starts off the interview, held in a café, by declaring his admiration for the American equal playing field in economic advancement. He belongs to a class of people who, while genteel and educated, increasingly find themselves left out of economic progress. His father is an elderly poet and man of letters (played by Om Puri), who is respected by all who know him. Nevertheless, money has always been a serious problem in the family and Changez was only able to attend college when he got a scholarship to Princeton University. After graduation, he earned a job position at a top Wall Street valuation firm, Underwood Samson. Meanwhile, he met a young American photographer, Erica (Kate Hudson), and a relationship developed.The World Trade Center attacks take place while Changez is in Manila on business. When he returns to the USA, he is strip-searched at the airport in New York. Later on, he is thoroughly interrogated by federal agents, after being mistakenly arrested in the street as he left the Underwood Samson building. His attitude toward the USA seems to change, as does his relationship with Erica, who has yet to come to terms with the loss of her former boyfriend, feeling responsible for his death. Changez eventually breaks up with her, after she invites him to the opening of her art show: she had used intimate details of their relationship without his knowledge, which he takes as a betrayal.While valuating a publishing house in Istanbul, Changez discovered that the otherwise worthless firm had translated some of his father’s work into Turkish and published them. He realised that the company had preserved culture, something that cannot be measured merely in terms of money. His boss at Underwood Samson, Jim Cross (Kiefer Sutherland), does not see it that way, viewing Changez’s attitude as unprofessional. Feeling an ever-increasing conflict between his desire of success and his sense of loyalty, between the way he saw himself and the way he was now treated, Changez finally resigns from Underwood Samson.During his interview with Lincoln, Changez says that at one point he was approached by a terrorist cell and asked to become a mujahid, and he was tempted to accept, feeling deeply angered and disillusioned by “the arrogance, the blindness, the hypocrisy” of the USA, but he finally refused when he was told about the “fundamental truths” of the Q’uran, echoing a phrase Jim Cross had used during their first encounter, “focusing on the fundamentals”. Elaborating on the similarities, he explains that both groups, Islamic fundamentalists and blind capitalist economy represented by Underwood Samson, share the same reductionist outlook, view people in binary terms, and thus feeling entitled to get rid of those deemed unworthy.157880843_d736f6Being a foreigner without a job, and with his work visa set to expire in two weeks, he returned to Lahore (Pakistan), where he found that foreign professors were leaving the university en masse. He was hired as a lecturer. He voiced dissatisfaction with US intrusions in Pakistan, and this brought him to the attention of the authorities as a suspected Al-Qaida member. They raided his office and family home and threatened his family. Back to present day, while Lincoln and Changez talk in the café, protestors gather outside, and Lincoln gets periodic pressure from his CIA superiors to get information from Changez about the location of the kidnapped Rainier. The protests become increasingly hostile, and Changez says he has heard of a butcher shop. Contact is lost before the information can be phoned to the CIA operatives who are working with Lincoln.image-w448Lincoln becomes suspicious seeing Changez texting, the latter saying he was just communicating with his sister, Bina (Meesha Shafi); suspicions turn to fury after Lincoln receives a picture of Rainer dead, mistakenly linking the two events. Lincoln believes the only way to safety is to use Changez as a shield venturing into the hostile crowded street. Attempts are made to keep the crowd stable but things get worse and Lincoln falls to the ground, his gun goes off and hits Sameer (Imaad Shah), one of Changez’s student interns, who dies from the wound. Another student fires at Lincoln from a balcony, wounding him, after which Lincoln is quickly removed by CIA agents. Lincoln then finds out that Rainer was in fact found dead earlier that day, and that Changez had indeed rejected working with the suspected mastermind behind the kidnapping, Mustafa Fazil. He also told the truth about the text message. Changez delivers a eulogy at Sameer’s funeral, as Lincoln recuperates in a hospital, recalling Changez’s words as he listens to the recording of the interview – “Looks can be deceiving. I am a lover of America… although I was raised to feel very Pakistani.”ChangezOverall, The Reluctant Fundamentalist is an engaging watch with a solid story, music, and acting….one of the best films of 2013!

REVIEW: AGENT CODY BANKS

CAST

Frankie Muniz (Malcolm in the Middle)
Hilary Duff (Cheaper By The Dozen)
Angie Harmon (Law & Order)
Keith David (Pitch Black)
Ian McShane (Hercules)
Arnold Vosloo (The Mummy)
Martin Donovan (Ant-Man)
Daniel Roebuck (Lost)
Cynthia Stevenson (Dead Like Me)
Connor Widdows (Battle Galactica)
Darrell Hammond (Scary Movie 3)
Peter New (Antitrust)
Noel Fisher (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Chris Gauthier (Watchmen)

Cody Banks (Frankie Muniz), a 15-year-old high school junior, applies for a junior field ops position at the Central Intelligence Agency’s SAD (Special Activities Division) after completing a training summer camp. Answering to his handler Agent Ronica Miles, Cody is called upon a mission to find information about a scientist named Dr. Albert Connors. Connors is employed by a SPECTRE type organization named ERIS led by Dr. Brinkman, and his henchman François Molay. As all CIA agents are known to Brinkman’s organization, the CIA uses the unknown Banks, who is placed into the prep school of Dr. Connors’ daughter Natalie (Hilary Duff), the William Donovan Institute.
Cody soon finds he has no social skill with girls and has no time to do this while balancing his chores and homework. The CIA decides to help by doing his chores and homework, trying to build his status, and going into the school to set him up with Natalie. The CIA also assemble a varying team of “experts” to train Cody into how to talk to girls, and issue him with a variety of gadgets with various functions. Eventually, Cody befriends and falls in love with Natalie after saving her from falling off a ladder while putting up a banner, and he is invited to her 16th birthday party, where he goes undercover to her father’s lab. Cody finds that Dr. Brinkman is planning to use nanobots — which can destroy any carbon or silicon-based substance — to destroy the world’s defense systems so he can threaten anyone who opposes him. Since the nanobots are inactive in the cold, he plans to use ice cubes to distribute them. After Connors, Dr. Brinkman, and François leave the lab, Cody tries to take one of the ice cubes, only for it to melt when in his possession.
Shortly after this, Cody gets into a fight with a number of bullies, at the party. The fight makes the school newspaper, and the CIA suspends Cody from the mission. Meanwhile, with Connors refusing to aid him in his plans, Dr. Brinkman sends François and some men to catch Natalie and bring her into his base in the Cascade Mountains. Meanwhile, disobeying orders to leave her out of it, Cody and Natalie eat ice cream at a restaurant. Cody attempts to explain things to Natalie but François and a group of men come over to their table and fight with Cody, knocking him unconscious and taking Natalie. Cody is removed from the mission, and his parents ground him for staying out past his curfew.
Cody gets his brother Alex to make sure his parents do not find out that he is gone by giving him the $5,000 the CIA gave him. Knowing Natalie’s location via a tracking device in a necklace he gave her as a birthday present, Cody breaks into the CIA weapons hold and steals a rocket powered snowboard and other devices to rescue Natalie. Cody gets a ride to the top of the mountain and snowboards to the factory where Natalie is held. On the way, he gets caught in a grove of trees as Ronica finds him using a SoloTrek XFV. After convincing her that they need to rescue Natalie, the pair infiltrate the laboratory and Cody rescues Natalie, also explaining the truth about why he went out with her.
However, the trio are captured by Brinkman’s men, although Cody quickly manages to escape. Natalie is held hostage by Dr. Brinkman, who puts an ice cube with a nanobot inside on her forehead to make her father program the system. Cody sets off a series of explosive charges he and Ronica planted throughout the base, and in the ensuing battle, Ronica fights off several of Dr. Brinkman’s men and Natalie kills Dr. Brinkman by placing the ice cube with the nanobots into his mouth, causing it to melt, and the nanobots to devour him from the inside out. Cody later defeats François and sends him to the CIA using the SoloTrek XFV, before fleeing the facility with Ronica, Natalie and Dr. Connors before it explodes. Back at headquarters, the CIA welcomes Cody back to the team and congratulates him for completing the mission. The CIA Director asks Cody if there is anything else he needs and Cody asks them if they could help Natalie get her driver’s license, which she receives. Cody and Natalie are now a couple and the film ends with them sharing their first kiss.Agent Cody banks was absolutley great. Both Frankie Muniz and Hilary Duff were excellent and the rest of the cast supported them very well. A great overall movie.

REVIEW: THE HAUNTING IN CONNECTICUT

CAST

Virginia Madsen (Sideways)
Martin Donovan (Ant-Man)
Elias Koteas (Crash)
Kyle Gallner (Smallville)
Amanda Crew (Sex Drive)
Spohpi Knight (Rookie Blue)

In 1987, Sara Campbell (Virginia Madsen) is driving her son Matthew (Kyle Gallner) home from the hospital where he has been undergoing cancer treatments. Sara and her husband Peter (Martin Donovan), a recovering alcoholic, discuss finding a rental house closer to the hospital. On another hospital visit, Sara finds a man putting up a “For Rent” sign in front of a large house. The man is frustrated and offers her the first month free if she will rent it immediately. The following day, Peter arrives with Matt’s brother Billy (Ty Wood) and cousins Wendy (Amanda Crew) and Mary, and they choose rooms. Matt chooses the basement, where there is a mysterious door. After moving in, Matt suffers a series of visions involving an old, bearded man and corpses with symbols carved into their skin. The next day, Peter learns that the house was supposedly a funeral home; the room behind the mysterious door is a mortuary.Matt tells another patient, Reverend Nicholas Popescu (Elias Koteas), about the visions. Nicholas advises him to find out what the spirit wants. Later, Matt finds a burned figure in his room who begins to move toward him. When the family comes home, they find a shirtless Matt with his fingers blood-covered from scratching at the wall.The family begins to crack under the stress of Matt’s illness and bizarre behavior. The children find a box of photographs, which show Jonah, a young man from Matt’s visions, at a séance, emitting ectoplasm. Wendy and Matt find out that the funeral home was run by a man named Ramsey Aickman. Aickman also conducted psychic research and would host séances with Jonah as the medium. At one séance, all those attending, including Aickman, were found dead and Jonah disappeared.Nicholas theorizes that Aickman was practicing necromancy in an attempt to control the dead and bind them to the house. That night, Nicholas finds human remains in the house and removes them. Matt awakens to find Aickman’s symbols carved into his flesh. He is taken to the hospital, where he encounters Jonah. Nicholas and Matt begin to have simultaneous visions. Everyone in the séance is burnt, after a flash of bright light. The barely alive Aickman told Jonah to get out of the house, concerned that the demonic presence will get him next. Jonah uses a dumbwaiter to escape, calling for help. Entering an unknown chamber, Jonah realizes that he has entered the crematory. The spirit traps Jonah in the crematory, and cremates him alive.Peter and Sara learn that Matt’s cancer treatments have had no effect. They then discover that Matt has escaped the hospital. Back at the house, Nicholas leaves a message telling the family to get out of the house immediately – Jonah’s spirit was actually protecting them from the spirits. Matt breaks through the walls in the front room with an axe, revealing the dusty corpses Aickman hid in the walls. He forces Wendy and the children to get out, barricading himself inside and tearing down the other walls, as corpses begin to tumble into the room. The view switches from Matt to Jonah, who seems to be occupying Matt’s body. Matt lights the bodies and the room on fire.As the fire department arrives, Sara and Peter frantically try to get in to save Matt. The spirits, finally freed, disappear. Outside, everyone watches tearfully as the emergency crew attempts to resuscitate a dying Matt. As Matt slips away, he has a vision of himself standing in the graveyard where he sees Jonah, no longer appearing burnt. He seems about to follow Jonah when he hears his mother’s voice.He returns to his body and Jonah’s spirit leaves him. Matt’s cancer disappears, and the house was rebuilt and resold with no further reported incidents of haunting.While there are some questions that may not be answered, the story itself was more than satisfying. Special effects were kept to a minimum but used effectively and when needed. Acting was not Oscar worthy but good enough to make it all seem real. Fun when you want it and scary when you need it.

 

REVIEW: CONVICTION

MAIN CAST

Hayley Atwell (Agent Carter)
Eddie Cahill (CSI: NY)
Shawn Ashmore (Smallville)
Merrin Dungey (alias)
Emily Kinney (The Flash)
Manny Montana (Graceland)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Daniel Franzese (Mean Girl)
Bess Armstrong (Jaws 3D)
Cassandra Freeman (Inside Man)
Mike Doyle (Green Lantern)
Teri Polo (Meet The Parents)
Tim Guinee (Stargate SG.1)
Susan Hayward (Powers)
Carlo Rota (Stargate Universe)
Matthew Bennett (Battlestar Galactica)
Richard Thomas (IT)
Jordan Hayes (Helix)
Shawn Parsons (Containment)
Martin Donovan (Ant-Man)
Rob Stewart (Painkiller Jane)
Mark Moses (Platoon)

In Conviction Hayley Atwell plays Hayes Morrison, a complex character with obvious flaws. She is the daughter of an ex-President and a politician running for Senator. First an attorney, then a law professor, she was always a rebel and a liability for her parents due to her “extremely controversial lifestyle” and run-ins with the law. She is blackmailed into heading the CIU, a new department in the DA’s office dedicated to investigating possibly wrongful convictions. She has all of the necessary tools, including a dedicated staff, but she lacks the Conviction.The pilot moves quickly, allowing Hayes to experience many emotions. You will not see a finer job of acting in a pilot. Atwell is remarkable. Her character is uncaring, self-indulgent and the product of years of political posturing (by her family) and being in the spotlight. She knows how to paint on a smile, but she shows us so many levels beneath it. Her character might seem unlikable and this might look like just another crime solving drama, but the writers have given the viewer plenty of hints at how this show might develop, along with the characters in it.
The supporting actors are also excellent, including Shawn Ashmore, Merrin Dungey,  Emily Kinney, Eddie Cahill, and Manny Montana. Her team of investigators have diverse backgrounds and very different perspectives.
The twist is that they only have five days to investigate each case–a factor that sounds contrived but it fits the story. In the first episode, they investigate an 8-year old conviction and Hayes has a crisis of conscience, proving she has one. Other Episode Highlights are(2) Bridge and Tunnel Vision

Hayes decides to go after one of Wallace’s career-making cases, the Prospect 3. They were three boys charged with raping and assaulting a woman, Zadie Daniels, on her way from work. Zadie was hit in the head by a brick, so she does not remember the attack, but the media called her a hero. None of the members of the group—Mike, Brian, and Seamus—was a DNA match for the semen in the rape kit, but they confessed after exhaustive interrogations, each one blaming the others. After learning that the timelines did not match up, the CIU discovered that Zadie had sex with a married man the night of the assault, the source of the semen. They also learn that Brian had previously attacked other females, including his foster sister, which is why Wallace was sure that the three boys were the culprits. Hayes gets Brian to admit that he was the only person responsible for the assault, freeing Mike and Seamus. Although she proves two people innocent, Hayes feels depressed, as Zadie’s reputation is now ruined.

(3) Dropping Bombs

To spite Wallace after his comment about “the new Hayes Morrison,” Hayes digs up the case of bigoted activist Rodney Landon, convicted of planting a bomb in a mosque office and killing four men, including the Imam. The CIU team finds Landon was primarily a suspect because of an illegal search by the Counter-Terrorism Unit and that, although he didn’t plant the bomb, he was planning a far more deadly attack. Because the illegal search would throw out most of the evidence against Landon and get him released, Sam talks to a skinhead in prison. Hayes is notified that Landon was attacked due to rumors of his being a snitch and stabbed his attacker with a shiv. By committing a felony on camera, he will remain in prison. The actual bomber turns out to be the wife of the Imam, who was angry because of his multiple affairs. Hayes’ cocaine arrest becomes public when a video of her in jail is released to the media.(4) Mother’s Little Burden

The CIU works on the case of Penny Price, a stay-at-home mom who vlogged about taking care of her violent autistic son, Owen. Penny was charged with second degree murder via leaving a bottle of soy sauce outside, which Owen drank in its entirety. However, Frankie finds out from the case’s toxicologist that Owen did not die from a sodium overdose, but from a lack of sugar due to a deliberately administered insulin shot. They go to Penny’s husband, Greg Price, a pharmacist who was having an affair, as well as Owen’s caretaker, Eduardo, whose sister had dangerously low insulin levels on the day of Owen’s murder. Hayes realizes that the only person with means and motive was Penny’s daughter, Emily. Penny tells Emily to keep quiet and says that she will take the blame, telling Hayes that her daughter deserves a life. Meanwhile, Hayes must juggle solving the case and working with her brother, Jackson, to prepare for a “mea culpa” television interview. Jackson drills her on what to wear (the right suit and her mother’s pearls), what to say, and how to say it. During the interview, she uses her charm and the rehearsed responses, but eventually her lies and the pearls begin to choke her. She then candidly explains that she got her do-over and job as a result of her privilege and that she is now attempting to use some of it to free innocent people. Although this decision earns her immediate public approval, it severely hurts her mother’s campaign and throws Wallace under the bus. The night after solving the case, Hayes goes home to Jackson’s apartment, only to find that he has kicked her out.(6) #StayWoke

After a black teenager is killed by a cop which causes an argument among the team, Hayes decides to choose the case of Porscha Williams, a black activist who was convicted of the shooting murder of Sergeant Kelsey Blake during a protest. Maxine feels conflicted as she is both black with a son and an ex-cop. Meanwhile, Hayes meets with Naomi, Wallace’s lawyer, who flirts with Hayes. Tess tells Frankie about being an eyewitness to her aunt’s murder at age 12 and identifying the wrong man. The man, Matty Tan, was cleared by DNA after five years in prison and that she has been going to his coffee-cart frequently without him knowing her connection. The team finds that one eyewitness lied under oath and that other witnesses may have confused Porscha with another woman. Then they discover that the Medical Examiner’s van was near the scene longer than necessary, and that the entry and exit wounds may have been mixed up, meaning that Kelsey may have been shot from behind. Using the new angle, the team discovers that one of the other witnesses, George Stayner, was responsible. George, when confronted, says it was an accident and then commits suicide. After Porscha is released, Hayes finds Naomi and Wallace kissing each other.(7) A Simple Man

The CIU team investigates the case of a man with a low IQ, Leo Scarlata, who was convicted of setting a fire in his family’s restaurant. The fire killed one man and injured another. Wallace approves a documentary film crew who have been working on Scarlata’s case, to follow the team around. The investigation finds that the fire didn’t start the way previously believed and that, although Leo was responsible, he just “followed the rules”. Those “rules” had been deliberately altered to cause the fire for the insurance payout. Leo is released.bountykiller01(8) Bad Deals

The CIU team takes on the case of Josh Fleck, a teacher convicted of kidnapping and murdering his high school student, Sierra Macy, ten years before. The reason for the case is because Sierra is alive and had just escaped from her basement prison only to find her captor dead. Sam was the prosecutor on the case and though the murder conviction will be dropped, he still insists that Fleck was involved in the kidnapping. The team finds that the waitress eyewitness lied, that the blood evidence could be explained away, and that Sierra was hauled away in a car trunk while Fleck drove a pickup. When Sam visits the waitress, Melissa, he hears the chimes that Sierra remembers. Melissa points a gun at him but the police burst in and rescue him. Fleck is released. The Justice Department drops its case against Wallace after Hayes provides information.bountykiller01(9) A Different Kind of Death

Wallace gives the CIU the case of Earl Slavitt (Richard Thomas), a death-row inmate who was convicted of the murder of Tom Simon, a federal prosecutor and Wallace’s friend. Earl was originally prosecuted by Tom for embezzling money from his job. After he was released from prison he made threats against Tom. Wallace asks Hayes to review the case, as Tom was against the death penalty and Earl is to be executed in five days. While the CIU reviews the case in New York, Hayes and Wallace go to Indiana to try and stop Earl’s execution. They have to deal with Bill Newton, the Assistant U.S. Attorney who was on the prosecution’s side for both cases and who gets in their way. The team finds that an ex-con was hired to kill Tom, and that Earl’s boss was the actual embezzler. Someone in the U.S. Attorney’s office was taking bribes. Hayes, after talking to Earl’s former co-worker, Nina, learns that Bill ordered the hit on Tom to cover his tracks. Hayes tries to contact Wallace to stop the execution but is too late. After hearing the news, Sam catches Maxine taking pain-killers.JORDAN HAYES, HAYLEY ATWELL(10) Not Okay

The team takes the case of Sophie Hausen, convicted of murdering Travis Carter, the college student whom she claimed raped her. Retesting the DNA on the murder weapon shows only a partial match and a recreation of the crime shows a potentially hazardous exit. While checking out other possible suspects the team finds out there were other victims who hadn’t reported the rapes because of Sophie’s treatment by officials. But they had all talked to a rape counselor, Elyse Salmon, who had decided to take matters into her own hands. Elyse confesses and Sophie is released. On a personal angle, Tess finally tells Matty about their connection and he doesn’t take it well. Plus Hayes, with a boost from Jackson, and Wallace decide to attempt their relationship againConviction - Series 01(11) Black Orchid

A current case ties back to an old one. A woman is found beaten to death. Her physical description, the manner of death, and the “Black Orchid” lipstick smeared on her mouth match the M.O. of a convicted serial killer, Clark Sims, from ten years before. The CIU team doesn’t know if Sims is innocent or if there is a copycat. They are able to explain away the fingerprint evidence against Sims. They also find that the man arrested for the recent murder couldn’t have done it. Figuring in the ten-year hiatus between crimes they speculate the killer was in prison. A search of inmates fitting the parameters locates a suspect, Donald Cutler, who was in the vicinity of the recent murder. Cutler goes after the woman who survived his attack years ago and she kills him. Sims is released.145458_5409_feat-770x433(13) Past, Prologue & What’s to Come

Hayes takes on the case of Gerald Harris, a man she unsuccessfully defended in Chicago nine years earlier against charges that he murdered his wife, Claire. Wallace prosecuted the case. As the team struggles to find a suspect who could have committed the murder, Hayes learns that Sam will be forced to testify during a trial for Rodney Landon, which will effectively discredit the CIU and subject all of its cases to review. Sam informs her that he intends to take the fifth, ending his career but keeping the CIU intact. Frankie eventually confirms that Claire died from a heart attack before she fell, the evidence of which was not found at her original autopsy. Although the subpoena against Sam is dropped, Wallace orders Hayes to fire him for going “rogue”. But she deliberately kisses Sam, committing sexual harassment in view of a witness, meaning he can’t be fired without her being forced to resign.EMILY KINNEY, EDDIE CAHILL, MANNY MONTANA, HAYLEY ATWELL, MERRIN DUNGEY, SHAWN ASHMORE

With all 13 episodes aired, this could be the end of the show, with the ratings not doing so hot, the show was not given a back order of episodes. It’s a shame as I really enjoyed the show, Hayley Atwell is as brilliant as ever and the cases were interesting, some were a little political but that was okay. It will certainly be missed if this is truly the end of the show.

REVIEW: THE SENTINEL

CAST

Michael Douglas (Ant-Man)
Kiefer Sutherkabd (Pompeii)
Eva Longoria (Harsh Times)
Kim Basinger (Batman)
Martin Donovan (Saved)
David Rasche (Ugly Betty)
Kristin Lehman (Andromeda)
Gloria Reuben (Falling Skies)
Blair Brown (Fringe)

Pete Garrison (Michael Douglas) is a Secret Service agent and one of the personal bodyguards for First Lady of the United States Sarah Ballentine (Kim Basinger), with whom he is having an affair. He is one of the oldest and most experienced agents, having been involved in saving Ronald Reagan’s life. His close friend and fellow agent, Charlie Merriweather (Clark Johnson), is murdered. Garrison gets word from a trusted informant that the killing of Merriweather is related to an assassination plot against the President. The intelligence provided by the informant reveals the presence of a mole with access to the President’s security detail.

The Secret Service Protective Intelligence Division, led by Garrison’s estranged friend and former protégé David Breckinridge (Kiefer Sutherland), with rookie partner Jill Marin (Eva Longoria), is tasked with investigating the plot. Breckinridge orders every agent to be subjected to a polygraph test. Meanwhile, the mole discovers the discussion with the informant and Garrison’s affair with the first lady, and attempts to blackmail Garrison by luring him to a coffee shop known to be a meeting point for a Colombian cartel. After delaying for some time, Garrison is subjected to a polygraph. The agent in charge of the Presidential Protective Division, William Montrose (Martin Donovan), decides to randomly select the means of transporting the president using a coin toss. As the President and first lady visit Camp David, Garrison’s informant calls, demanding that his payment be made at a shopping mall food court. Garrison goes to meet him, but he disappears in the crowd, and an assassin tries to kill Garrison. The agents pursue the assassin, but he escapes. Simultaneously, the presidential helicopter is shot down by a surface-to-air missile outside of Camp David, though neither the President nor his wife were aboard (due to Montrose’s coin “deciding” to use the motorcade instead).

Garrison failed the polygraph test due to concealing his affair with the First Lady. Breckinredge confronts him at his home and interrogates him, pinning him as the prime suspect. The source of rancor between them comes to light: Garrison supposedly had an affair with Breckinridge’s wife and caused the breakup of their marriage, which he denies. Garrison escapes capture and conducts his own investigation of the assassination plot. He tries to contact the informant who gave him the tip, but finds that he has been killed. In pursuit, Breckinridge gets the drop on Garrison but is unable to kill him, despite having given other agents “shoot to kill” orders. Using his contacts with sympathetic agents and family members, Garrison tracks down the location of one of the assassins, whom he kills in a firefight. He searches his apartment, finding evidence that shows the perpetrators are headed to Toronto to attack the president at a G8 summit. He leaves it in the apartment and tells Marin about it, but the Secret Service find the evidence and body of the assassin were removed before they arrived.

The President’s wife discloses her affair with Garrison to Breckinridge, who now understands why Garrison failed his polygraph test. Together in Toronto, Garrison and Breckinridge discover the identity of the assassins and the mole, senior agent William Montrose (Martin Donovan), who was never polygraphed. Montrose is in charge of directing security at the summit. The leader of the assassins (Ritchie Coster) blackmails Montrose into helping him, threatening the agent’s family. Emotionally torn, Montrose is instructed to jam Secret Service’s radios, and leave the summit with the President via a specific route.

On the night of the President’s speech, Breckinridge and Garrison race to the summit. The assassins, posing as Royal Canadian Mounted Police Emergency Response Team officers, kill several agents and corner Montrose and the President in a subterranean tunnel. Montrose reveals his treason to the President and purposely steps in front of one of the assassins, who kills him. Garrison, Breckinridge and Marin arrive, rescuing the President and the First Lady and killing the assassins. As they reach the ground level, Montrose’s handler comes forward dressed as an RCMP officer to personally perform the killings. He takes Sarah hostage and aims his pistol at the President, but Garrison shoots him dead. In spite of these events, Garrison is forced to take an early retirement due to the disclosure of his affair with the first lady, who looks on sadly from her window as Garrison leaves the White House. He does, however, make peace with Breckinridge, who finally realizes that Garrison did not sleep with his wife. Breckinridge tells Garrison that he has a date with her that evening.When I saw “The Sentinel”, I went in with all the bad reviews in mind. But it turned out to be one of those movies where you go in not expecting much and come away being very pleased with the overall result. Despite the little niggles this is a great movie and I thoroughly recommend it.