REVIEW: PROOF OF LIFE

CAST

Meg Ryan (The Women)
Russell Crowe (Man of Steel)
David Morse (12 Monkeys)
Pamela Reed (Kindergarten Cop)
David Caruso (CSI: Miami)
Anthony Heald (The Silence of The Lambs)
Michael Byrne (Buster)
Stanley Anderson (Red Dragon)
Margo Martindale (The Firm)

Alice Bowman (Meg Ryan) moves to the (fictional) South American country of Tecala because her engineer husband, Peter Bowman (David Morse), has been hired to help build a new dam for oil company Quad Carbon. Though Alice is unhappy at this most recent move, she agrees to stay. While driving one morning through the city, Peter is caught in traffic and then ambushed and abducted by guerrilla rebels of the Liberation Army of Tecala (ELT). Believing that Peter is working on Quad Carbon’s oil pipeline, ELT soldiers lead him through the jungle.Terry Thorne (Russell Crowe), a former member of the British Special Air Service, arrives in Tecala fresh from a successful hostage rescue in Chechnya. As an expert negotiator in kidnapping-and-ransom cases, he is assigned by his company, Luthan Risk, to bargain for Peter’s safe return. Unfortunately, it is learned that Quad Carbon is on the verge of bankruptcy and takeover, and therefore has no insurance coverage for kidnapping, so they cannot afford Thorne’s services. Despite Alice’s pleas to stay, Thorne leaves the country. Alice is then assigned a corrupt local hostage negotiator, who immediately urges her to pay the ELT’s first ransom demand: a $50,000 “good faith” payment. Not knowing what to do, Alice agrees, but the transaction is stopped by Thorne who (due to his conscience) has returned to help. He is aided by Dino (David Caruso), a competing negotiator and ex–Green Beret. Over the next few months, Thorne uses a radio to speak with an ELT contact, and the two argue over terms for Peter’s release—including a ransom payment that Alice can afford. Thorne and Alice bond through the ordeal, forming an implicit attraction. They eventually negotiate a sum of $650,000.Meanwhile, Peter has become a prisoner at the ELT’s jungle base camp. There, he befriends another hostage named Kessler (Gottfried John)—a missionary and former member of the French Foreign Legion—who has lived in the camp for nineteen months. The two concoct an escape plan, but during their attempt they are quickly tracked by the ELT. Kessler falls into a river after being shot in the shoulder and manages to escape, but Peter steps on a trap and is recaptured. Kessler is found and hospitalized. In the hospital he claims he heard a gunshot at the time Peter was recaptured, and thus believes he is dead. Thorne can not believe this, but his ELT contact refuses to respond to his calls. Luckily, one of Alice’s young maids recognized his voice over the radio and reveals he is a government official. Thorne goes to a parade ceremony and confronts the contact; he confirms that Peter is indeed alive, but because of the ELT’s escalating war with the government and Peter’s knowledge of the terrain, the ELT will no longer negotiate.At Thorne’s urging Alice convinces the Tecala government that the ELT is mounting an attack on the pipeline being built through their territory. This forces the government army to mobilize, thus forcing a bulk of the camp’s ELT troops to mobilize for a counter-attack. Thorne, Dino, and several associates are then inserted by helicopter and raid the weakened ELT base. They overcome the camp’s soldiers, free Peter and another hostage, and then fly back to the city, where Alice happily reunites with her husband. Thorne and Alice share a final intimate moment before the latter departs with Peter on an immediate flight to the U.S.Intense, realistic, and a great work all-in-all.

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REVIEW: ROMPER STOMPER

 

CAST

Russell Crowe (Man of Steel)
Daniel Pollock (Proof)
Jacqueline McKenzie (Deep Blue Sea)
Tony Le-Nguyen (Sword of Honour)
Alex Scott  (Sky Pirates)
Daniel Wyllie (Chopper)
John Brumpton (Red Hill)

A gang of violent neo-Nazis from Footscray, Victoria, Australia, attack three Vietnamese Australian teenagers, in a tunnel at Footscray Station. The gang is led by Hando with his friend and second-in-command, Davey. They meet Gabrielle the day after her sexually abusive, highly affluent father Martin, has her junkie boyfriend arrested, before Gabrielle starts a romantic association with Hando.Friends visit from Canberra; one of whom has joined the Royal Australian Navy. A party at the warehouse follows, the next day two boys go to their local pub. Unbeknownst to them, the owner has sold it to a Vietnamese businessman. Upon seeing the new owner and his sons, they inform Hando and he and his gang arrive and savagely beat the new owner’s sons. A third Vietnamese youth phones for help, before Tiger and several armed Vietnamese men descend upon the skinheads. The Vietnamese outnumber the skinheads and force them to retreat to their rented warehouse, where the Vietnamese ransack the building before setting it on fire.The skinheads find a new base at a nearby warehouse, after evicting a pair of squatters, and plan their revenge against the Vietnamese. Learning that gang members plan to buy a gun, two female friends of the gang depart. Gabrielle suggests the gang burgle her father’s mansion. They ransack the house, beat up Martin, smash one of his cars, and raid his wine collection. Gabrielle tells Martin the burglary is revenge for his years of abuse. Gabrielle reveals to Davey her plan to take Hando away from his violent life. Martin frees himself and uses a handgun to scare away the gang before they can take any of his property. However, Davey begins to have doubts about his violent lifestyle.Gabrielle criticizes Hando’s handling of the robbery, and he abruptly dumps her. Davey announces his intention to leave at the same time and gives Gabrielle his German grandmother’s address, where he will be staying. Gabrielle informs the police of the gang’s location and spends the night with Davey. However, Davey reveals his doubts about his violent lifestyle, having removed the racist patches from his flight jacket out of concern for his grandmother. While Hando is out, the police raid the warehouse and the youngest skinhead is shot in the head after pointing a deactivated gun at the police. The police arrest the rest of the gang. However, Hando watches from a distance and flees.Arriving at Davey’s flat, Hando finds his friend in bed with Gabrielle. Hando accuses her of informing the police, but Davey says they were together the whole time since leaving the squat. Hando convinces Davey to stick by him, and the trio go on the run. They rob a service station, before Hando strangles the Asian attendant to death; and, driving all night, they stop at a beach. The next morning on the beach, Gabrielle overhears a conversation wherein Hando tries to convince Davey to leave her behind. Gabrielle sets their car on fire and admits to phoning the police. Hando attacks her, attempting to drown her in the surf. However, Davey stabs Hando in the neck with his Hitler Youth knife. After the fight, Davey cradles a horrified Gabrielle, watched by a busload of Japanese tourists; and Hando gazes at the ocean as he bleeds to death.The film achieves what it sets out to do. Give the viewer a no-holds barred trip into the destructive lives of social outsiders, and the violence and hatred that follows. Not easy viewing, but I recommend this film to anyone who likes their movies gritty and upfront.

REVIEW: LOVE IN LIMBO

 

CAST

Craig Adams (Ttomro and Juliet)
Rhondda Findleton (Cleverman)
Aden Young (Sniper)
Martin Sacks (Underbelly)
Russell Crowe (Man of Steel)
Maya Stange (XX/XY)

1950’s. Gawky teenager Ken Riddle has a wealth of sexual knowledge, but has yet to lose his virginity. Ken is forced to join the workforce after he’s thrown out of school for selling explicit drawings to students. At work Ken befriends the rowdy Barry and clashes with his uptight superior Arthur. Meanwhile, smooth ladies man Max Wiseman courts Ken’s attractive and available mother Gwen. For the uninitiated, Australian film has a long history of making off-beat comedies about lovable losers, and Love in Limbo is a sterling example of this. Whilst Russel Crowe is the only name actor in it, the rest of the Aussie cast is good- he still steals the show as a nervous, nerdy, virgin loser though. If you enjoyed American Pie, don’t expect this to be the same- but expect the same conventions to make appearances. Love in Limbo isn’t a gross out romantic comedy- but it definitely has its share of laughs

REVIEW: WAR MACHINE

CAST

Brad Pitt (World War Z)
Anthony Hayes (Suburban Mayhem)
Emory Cohen (Brooklyn)
RJ Cyler (Power Rangers)
Daniel Betts (Fury)
Topher Grace (That 70s Show)
Anthony Michael Hall (The Dead Zone)
John Magaro (The Box)
Scoot McNairy (Batman V Sueprman)
Meg Tilly (Psycho II)
Sian Thomas (Vanity Fair)
Alan Ruck (Speed)
Nicholas Jones (Vera Drake)
Griffin Dunne (My Girl)
Ben Kingsley (Iron Man 3)
Reggie Brown (Barbershop: The Next Cut)
Tilda Swinton (The Chronicles of Narnia)
Will Poulter (We’re The Millers)
Keith Stanfield (Get Out)
Josh Stewart (The Dark Knight Rises)
Georgina Rylance (New Tricks)
Russell Crowe (Man of Steel)

In the summer of 2009, Four-star General Glen McMahon (Brad Pitt), having won renown for his effective leadership in Iraq, is sent to Afghanistan to prepare an assessment so that the government can end the ongoing war. He is given wide latitudes to write it, on the sole condition that he not request more troops. McMahon and his staff, particularly his right hand man Major General Greg Pulver (Anthony Michael Hall), are united in their belief that the war can be won, and decide to recommend that President Obama authorize a surge of 40,000 additional troops to secure Helmand province in order to stabilize the country. However, the Secretary of State (Sian Thomas) informs McMahon that his report will not be reviewed until after the upcoming presidential election.Captain Badi Basim (Aymen Hamdouchi), a member of the ANA, joins McMahon’s staff as a “representative” of the Afghan people. Meanwhile, McMahon is informed that, due to alleged irregularities in the counting of votes, a runoff election will have to be held, delaying the review of the assessment further. Fed up, McMahon secretly leaks the assessment to the Washington Post and organizes an interview with 60 Minutes, during which he reveals that, in the last seventy days, he has only been granted one meeting with the president. In response, the government announces that they will send 30,000 troops to Afghanistan, and that all US and coalition forces in the country will leave in 18 months. To gather the remaining 10,000 troops needed for his strategy to work, McMahon and his men head to Paris to negotiate with the other coalition nations.In Paris, McMahon learns that the president is passing through, and wishes to meet with him. The ambassador to Afghanistan (Alan Ruck) warns McMahon that he needs to understand his position: if he continues to anger the president, he will be fired for insubordination. The president ultimately decides to cancel the meeting due to time constraints, and McMahon and his staff attend a dinner in his honor, accompanied by Rolling Stone writer Sean Cullen (Scoot McNairy), who intends to write a feature story about his performance for an upcoming issue. The next day, during their anniversary dinner, McMahon’s wife Jeanie confronts him about how much time he’s spending fighting abroad instead of being with his family back home.While on route to Berlin with McMahon’s staff to continue negotiations, Cullen observes their behavior and concludes that they are arrogant and seem to care little about the growing public perception that the war is costly and wasteful. At a conference to discuss his strategy, McMahon is confronted by a German official (Tilda Swinton) who is skeptical of his approach and suggests that McMahon’s plans would only lead to more losses. Nevertheless, both the Germans and the French agree to furnish the troops needed for his planned offensive, codenamed “Operation Moshtarak”, to begin, with Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s (Ben Kingsley) approval.The operation launches, but soon runs into trouble when several civilians are accidentally killed against McMahon’s instructions. When he holds a public meeting to explain the incident, the crowd grows hostile and demands that he and his troops leave. Worse, McMahon learns that Cullen’s article has been published, and paints a negative picture of him and his staff as openly speaking against the president and mishandling the war effort. Knowing that he will be fired for his actions, McMahon returns to Washington and later takes a job as a civilian consultant. In the aftermath, Cullen ponders the consequences of his article, noting that he wished the fall of McMahon would finally convince the government to stop invading foreign countries and end the war in Afghanistan. Instead, however, the government simply assigns a new general to replace McMahon: General Bob White (Russell Crowe).When a political movie runs the risk of offending both Conservatives and Liberals it’s one we should all see. This movie is hilarious, heartfelt, thought-provoking… bad-ass. And, regardless of your politics, it’ll make you appreciate our troops even more.

REVIEW: THE MUMMY (2017)

CAST

Tom Cruise (Oblivion)
Annabelle Wallis (Annabelle)
Sofia Boutella (Star Trek Beyond)
Jake Johnson (New Girl)
Courtney B. Vance (Flashforward)
Russell Crowe (Man of Steel)
Marwan Kenzari (Ben-Hur)
Javier Botet (Mama)
Selva Rasalingam (Skyfall)

In 1127 A.D., a group of English crusader knights capture a large ruby from ancient Egypt and bury it within the tomb of one of their number. In present-day London, a Crossrail construction crew discover the knights’ tomb and a mysterious man is authorized to investigate the uncovered findings inside the site. In a flashback, the hieroglyphics on a circular mural in the tomb, which date back to the New Kingdom era, tell the story of the ruthless Princess Ahmanet.She was first in line to succeed her father Pharaoh Menehptre only to be stripped of her birthright when his second wife gave birth to a son. Determined to claim the throne for herself, Ahmanet sold her soul to the Egyptian god Set, who gave her a special dagger to transfer his spirit into a corporeal form. After murdering her family, Ahmanet attempted to sacrifice her lover to give Set physical form, but her father’s priests slew him and mummified Ahmanet, sentencing her to be buried alive for eternity inside a sarcophagus surrounded by mercury so that her monstrous form will not escape the tomb. In present-day Iraq, soldier-of-fortune Nick Morton and his partner Chris Vail accidentally discover the tomb of Ahmanet after staging an airstrike on an insurgent stronghold. Jenny Halsey, an archaeologist who had a one-night stand with Nick, arrives and investigates the tomb, correctly concluding that it is a prison. After extracting Ahmanet’s sarcophagus from a pool of mercury, Nick’s superior, Colonel Greenway, places the sarcophagus on a transport plane, headed to England.During the flight, Vail becomes possessed by Ahmanet’s power after being bitten by a camel spider while inside the tomb. After attempting to open the sarcophagus, he stabs Greenway and attacks the group before Nick is forced to shoot him dead. A huge murder of crows then assault the plane, causing it to crash and kill everyone on board except for Jenny, who is parachuted off the plane by Nick. Nick awakens a day later in a morgue in Oxford, and learns from Vail’s ghost that he has been cursed by Ahmanet, who seeks to use him as a replacement vessel for Set. Ahmanet’s mummy escapes from the sarcophagus and begins feeding on rescue workers to regenerate her decomposed body. Turning the workers into zombie minions, she lures Nick and Jenny into a trap, forcing the two to fight off the minions as they unsuccessfully try to escape. Ahmanet also recovers the blade of the Dagger of Set from a reliquary in a nearby church.At the last second, unknown soldiers appear and subdue Ahmanet. Their leader, Dr. Henry Jekyll, explains that Jenny is an agent of Prodigium, a secret society dedicated to hunting supernatural threats whose base is under the Natural History Museum of London and contains such objects as a webbed hand and a human skull with fangs. He confirms that Nick was cursed when he unlocked Ahmanet’s tomb and reveals his intention to complete her ritual and allow Set to possess Nick in order to destroy Set and end his evil forever. Meanwhile, Ahmanet summons another spider to possess a Prodigium technician and frees herself from captivity, wreaking havoc, death, and destruction in the process. Jekyll succumbs to his own dark impulses and transforms into Edward Hyde, his murderous and psychotic alternate personality; when Nick rebuffs Hyde’s offer of an alliance between them, Hyde attacks and nearly kills Nick before Nick manages to stop him with the serum Jekyll uses to suppress his evil side. Nick and Jenny then escape from Prodigium while Ahmanet steals back the dagger, summons an army of deceased English crusaders to serve her, and creates a massive sandstorm that ravages London. The undead knights slaughter the Prodigium soldiers in the tomb, allowing Ahmanet to recover the ruby and set it in the dagger’s pommel, granting her all she needs to free Set.Guided by Vail, Nick and Jenny flee into the London Underground tunnels under London, but are attacked by Ahmanet’s minions. Ahmanet captures Jenny and drowns her, hoping to break her hold over Nick. Nick puts up a fight, but gives up and lets himself embrace Ahmanet, using it as a ruse to steal the dagger and stab himself. His body is possessed by Set, who proceeds to join Ahmanet to uphold his end of the bargain until he sees Jenny’s dead body, at which point Nick regains control and uses Set’s powers to overpower and suck the life out of Ahmanet, turning her back into a shriveled mummy. Nick harnesses Set’s powers to resurrect Jenny, saying goodbye before becoming overwhelmed by Set’s power and disappearing. Soon, Jenny regroups with Dr. Jekyll and they discuss if Nick, now fused with Set, will succumb to Set’s influence. Ahmanet’s corpse is lowered into a locked pool of mercury within the Prodigium base for safekeeping. Later on in the desert, Nick resurrects Vail, and the two set out on an adventure.I was very happy with the Mummy. I didn’t expect a lot, so I was pleasantly surprised with what I got. Not everyone is going to like it, though, The original Mummy movies were classics and some might say a reboot was unnecessary. A movie like this is one that’s best to make your own mind up on.

 

REVIEW: SPOTSWOOD

CAST

Anthony Hopkins (Westworld)
Ben Mendelsohn (Rogue One)
Alwyn Kurts (Tim)
Bruno Lawrence (The Quiet Earth)
Rebecca Rigg (Jerry Maguire)
Toni Collette (Krampus)
Russell Crowe (Man of Steel)
Angela Punch McGregor (Double Deal)
Daniel Wyllie (Peter Pan)

005CKE_Heather_Graham_164

In late 1960s Melbourne, Errol Wallace (Anthony Hopkins) is a financial business consultant who we meet in the course of his being hired by the board of Durmack, an automotive component manufacturer, where he assesses a large work force redundancy and recommends major layoffs. Balls, a moccasin factory located in the Melbourne suburb of Spotswood, is his next client. Mr. Ball (Alwyn Kurts), the owner of the company, is affable and treats his employees benevolently. Wallace on a factory tour finds the conditions wanting with shabbiness, old machinery and the workers lackadaisical. A young worker at Balls, Carey (Ben Mendelsohn), who is finding his place in the world and life, is asked by Wallace to assist in his review, compiling worker condition and performance information. Carey is reluctant until he learns that Mr. Ball’s daughter Cheryl (Rebecca Rigg), whom he fancies, is part of the review staff.005CKE_Heather_Graham_126Wallace learns that there is an instigator in the midst, his colleague Jerry (John Walton), who leaks the Durmack report, inflating the quantity of sackings as a means to demoralize the union. Kim (Russell Crowe), a salesman at Balls who also has his sights set on the boss’s daughter, shows his ruthlessness and ulterior motives when he comes to Wallace’s home one night with a complete set of the company financial records that detail non-existent profit for years and reveal that Ball has been selling off company assets to keep the outfit afloat. Wallace realizes that whatever productivity improvements have been implemented are not enough to save the company even with an elimination of workers and yet that is his recommendation. Mr. Ball responds, “It’s not just about dollars and cents. It’s about dignity, treating people with respect.” Wallace’s mind set starts to change when his car is vandalized and some Ball workers come to his aid, workers who then start to include him in their off-hours activities. Mr. Ball announces the work force redundancies and Wallace is clearly uncomfortable seeing them, knowing that it was his recommendation that sealed their fate.005CKE_Heather_Graham_096The union at Durmack capitulates and management celebrates with a party at which Wallace becomes disenchanted by rash sackings and realises that product diversity can potentially make the company profitable since the skills set is in the workers. Carey realises he has feelings for his work mate and friend Wendy (Toni Collette) and together they climb up onto the roof of the factory and hold hands as they look out over Spotswood. 309670_originalThis Australian comedy features early roles for future stars Toni Collette and Russell Crowe. Many well-known Australian actors appear in this film. It is a gentle and sympathetic look at the effects of economic change. The film also has comic moments where adolescent boys try to ask out a good-looking girl without much success. The movie leaves you smiling !!

 

REVIEW: GLADIATOR

CAST

Russell Crowe (Man of STeel)
Joaquin Phoenix (Quills)
Connie Nielsen (Basic)
Oliver Reed (Tommy)
Richard Harris (Unforgiven)
Derek Jacobi (The King’s Speech)
Djimon Hounsou (Stargate)
Ralf Moeller (The Scorpion King)
Spencer Treat Clark (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D)
David Hemmings (Deep Red)
Tommy Flanagan (Sin City)

In AD 180, Hispano-Roman General Maximus Decimus Meridius leads the Roman army to a decisive victory against the Germanic tribes near Vindobona on the northern frontier. Now weary of battle, Maximus only desires to retire to his Spanish farm estate. But Emperor Marcus Aurelius tells him that his own son and heir, Commodus, is unfit to rule and that he will appoint Maximus as regent to help save Rome from corruption. When the Emperor reveals his plan to his son, Commodus murders him in a fit of rage.Commodus announces he is the new Emperor and asks Maximus for his loyalty. When the general refuses, he is arrested by his officers and is sentenced to death at dawn. Maximus kills his captors and rides for his farm. However, he arrives too late, and finds it destroyed and his family murdered, by Commodus’ orders. Maximus buries his wife and son, and then collapses from his wounds and grief. He is found by slavers who take him to Zucchabar, a colonia in the Roman North African province of Mauretania Caesariensis, where he is sold to a lanista (gladiator trainer) named Proximo.Although reluctant at first, Maximus fights in local tournaments and makes friends with two other gladiators: Juba, a Numidian who holds onto Maximus’s figurines of his wife and child, and Hagen, a German. As he wins every match because of his military skills and indifference to death, he gains fame and recognition. But Proximo, who reveals that he himself was once a gladiator who fought well enough to be given his freedom, advises Maximus that being a good killer is not enough; a good gladiator is one who can “win the crowd”. Proximo encourages Maximus to go to Rome and fight in the Colosseum, because Commodus has organized 150 days of games. He could then use the power he commands in the arena as leverage against the Emperor.Maximus’ first gladiatorial combat in the Colosseum is a re-enactment of the Roman victory over Carthage at the Battle of Zama. Although the gladiators (portraying the Carthaginians) are expected to be massacred, Maximus leads them to victory over the legionaries of Scipio Africanus. This prompts a surprised and delighted Commodus to enter the arena to offer his personal congratulations. When the emperor’s young nephew, Lucius, also joins them, Maximus decides not to kill Commodus. Instead he reveals himself and vows to have vengeance. The Praetorian Guard is ordered to attack but this angers the crowd. Under pressure to keep the mob of Rome happy, Commodus angrily relents.Maximus’ next fight is a victory against a large undefeated gladiator. Despite Commodus’s orders to kill the loser, Maximus spares his defeated opponent’s life. This defiance earns him the nickname “Maximus the Merciful” and more cheers of adulation. Angered at this outcome, Commodus enters the arena to taunt Maximus about his family’s death. But the gladiator turns his back and walks away, another defiant act that is making him more popular than the Emperor. Maximus discovers from Cicero, his ex-orderly, that his former legions remain loyal. Lucilla, Commodus’ sister, and Gracchus, from the Senate, meet secretly with Maximus. He obtains their promise to help him escape Rome, rejoin his soldiers, topple Commodus by force, and hand power back to the Roman Senate. However, Commodus learns of the plot from Lucilla by threatening her son Lucius. The Praetorian Guard arrest Gracchus while others are sent to the gladiators’ barracks. Maximus escapes after Proximo and his men (including Hagen) sacrifice themselves. But at the rendezvous point, Maximus is captured and Cicero is killed.To win the crowd back, Commodus challenges Maximus to a duel in the Colosseum. However, he secretly stabs Maximus in the side before the match to gain an advantage. Nevertheless Maximus eventually disarms Commodus during their duel. When his Praetorian Guards refuse to give him another sword, the emperor tricks Maximus into disarming and produces a hidden knife, but Maximus drives the blade back into Commodus’s throat. Maximus, however, succumbs to his wounds shortly thereafter.Maximus’s last words are to ask for political reforms, for his gladiator allies to be freed, and for Senator Gracchus to be reinstated. While the body of Commodus is left unceremoniously on the floor of the arena, Maximus is solemnly carried away by his friends and allies to be given an honorable funeral as a “soldier of Rome”. The crowd stands as a sign of respect as Maximus is carried out. Later, a now-free Juba revisits the Colosseum at night. He buries the figurines of Maximus’ wife and son at the spot where he died. He says he is now going back to his own family and promises to see Maximus again, “but not yet”.It’s true that this movie does pretty much follow the Braveheart formula. However, this movie includes some elements, such as the cinematography and the incredibly graphic battle scenes that are spectacular in itself. Overall, a great movie that I highly recommend.