REVIEW: WONDER WOMAN (2017)

CAST

Gal Gadot (Fast & Furious)
Chris Pine (Star Trek)
Robin Wright (Blade Runner 2049)
Danny Huston (30 Days of Night)
David Thewlis (The Theory of Everything)
Connie Nielsen (Basic)
Elena Anaya (Point Blank)
Ewen Bremner (Trainspotting)
Saïd Taghmaoui (Conan The Barbarian)
Samantha Jo (Mortal Kombat: Legacy)
Lucy Davis (Shaun of The Dead)
Ann Ogbomo (World War Z)

In present-day Paris, Diana Prince, curator for the Louvre’s Department of Antiquities,[8] receives a World War I-era photographic plate couriered by the Wayne Enterprises and recalls her past.Diana was born and raised on the hidden island of Themyscira, home to the Amazon race of warrior women created by the gods of Mount Olympus to protect humankind. In the distant past, Ares, the god of war, slew all his fellow gods, but his father, Zeus, struck him down. Before perishing from his injuries, Zeus left the Amazons a weapon capable of killing his renegade son: the “Godkiller”, which Diana believes to be a ceremonial sword. Queen Hippolyta, Diana’s mother, believes that Ares will never return and forbids Diana from training as a warrior, but Diana and her aunt, General Antiope, defy the queen and begin training in secret. When the two are discovered by Hippolyta, Antiope convinces her sister to allow Diana’s training to continue.As a young woman, Diana rescues Captain Steve Trevor, a pilot with the American Expeditionary Forces,[9] after his plane crashes off the coast of Themyscira. The island is soon invaded by the landing party of a German cruiser pursuing Steve. The Amazons engage and kill all the German sailors, but Antiope dies intercepting a bullet meant for Diana. Interrogated with the Lasso of Truth, Steve reveals that World War I is raging in the outside world, and that he is an Allied spy. He stole a notebook with valuable information from chief chemist Isabel Maru, who is attempting to engineer a deadlier form of mustard gas under the orders of General Erich Ludendorff. Believing Ares is responsible for the war, Diana arms herself with the ceremonial sword and leaves Themyscira with Steve to find and destroy Ares.When the two arrive in London, they deliver Maru’s notebook to the Supreme War Council, including Sir Patrick Morgan, who is trying to negotiate an armistice with Germany. Diana translates Maru’s notes and reveals that the Germans plan to release the deadly gas at the warfront. Although forbidden by his commanders to act, Steve, with secret funding from Sir Patrick, recruits spy Sameer, marksman Charlie, and smuggler Chief to help prevent the gas from being released. When the team reaches the Western Front in Belgium, they are halted by the enemy line, but Diana pushes alone through No man’s land and rallies the Allied forces behind her to liberate the village of Veld. The team briefly celebrates and takes the group photograph from the beginning of the film. Later that night, Diana and Steve bond and share a kiss.The team learns that a gala will be held at the nearby German High Command. Steve infiltrates the party, intending to locate the mustard gas and destroy it. Diana, however, believes Ludendorff is Ares and that killing him will end the war. Steve stops her to avoid jeopardizing the mission. Ludendorff unleashes the gas on Veld, killing its inhabitants. Diana blames Steve for the deaths and pursues Ludendorff to a base where the gas is being loaded into a Zeppelin-Staaken R.VI bound for London. Diana fights and kills Ludendorff, but is confused when his death does not stop the war.Sir Patrick appears and reveals that he is Ares. He tells Diana that although he has subtly given humans ideas and inspirations, it is ultimately their decision to cause violence as they are inherently corrupt. After destroying the ceremonial sword, Ares reveals that Diana is the true “Godkiller”, as she is the daughter of Zeus. Ares attempts to convince Diana that she should help him destroy humankind to restore paradise on Earth. While the two battle and the rest of Steve’s team destroy Dr. Maru’s laboratory, Steve pilots the bomber carrying the gas to a safe altitude and detonates it, sacrificing himself in the process. Ares tries to harness Diana’s rage and grief by telling her to kill Dr. Maru, but Diana’s memories of Steve inspire her to decide that humans have good within them, and she spares Maru before destroying Ares. Back in London, the nation celebrates the end of the war.In the present day, Diana sends an e-mail to Bruce Wayne thanking him for the photographic plate of her and Steve and reaffirms her mission to protect the world as Wonder Woman.The film is well rounded, the plot never leaves you bored, the humor is fresh and relatable, and the actors are so good! The costumes are realistic and the fight choreography is some of the best I’ve seen in a while!  It’s an awesome entry for the DC film universe.

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REVIEW: TRAITOR

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CAST

Don Cheadle (Brooklyn’s Finest)
Guy Pearce (Memento)
Saïd Taghmaoui (American Hustle)
Neal McDonough (Legends of Tomorrow)
Jeff Daniels (The Martian)
Archie Panjabi (A Good Year)
Alyy Khan (A Mighty Heart)
Mozhan Marnò (Gimmie Shelter)
Lorena Gale (Battlestar Galactica)

Samir Horn (Don Cheadle) is an Arabic-speaking Sudanese-American and devout Muslim. His Sudanese father was killed by a car bomb when he was a child. As an adult, Samir is first seen operating as an arms dealer. While negotiating a deal with Omar (Saïd Taghmaoui) in Yemen he is arrested and thrown into a Yemeni jail. Later, Samir and Omar become friends and when Omar’s people arrange an escape, he takes Samir with them. They meet Fareed (Alyy Khan), a lieutenant in the al-Nathir terrorist organization. FBI Special Agent Roy Clayton (Pearce) suspects Samir has been radicalized and begins tracking him.
Joining al-Nathir, Samir uses the skills he learned as a Special Forces Engineer Sergeant with the U.S. Army Special Forces to bomb the U.S. consulate in Nice, France. It is revealed that Samir is working under deep cover for a US intelligence contractor, Carter (Jeff Daniels); Samir is devastated when he learns that despite Carter’s covert efforts, innocent people perished in the consulate bombing. Impressed with Samir, Fareed introduces him to leader Nathir, who discloses a plot to place suicide bombers on 50 buses in the U.S. during Thanksgiving, and instructs Samir to act as liaison to each of the al-Nathir sleeper bombers. Later, Carter unwittingly interrupts a meeting between Samir and Omar, and is killed by Omar.
Samir reveals his deep cover to Agent Clayton, who tracks him to Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. While on board a cargo ship to Marseille, France, Samir kills Nathir and Fareed, and tells an enraged Omar that by targeting innocents they betrayed Islam. Samir then tells Omar that he switched the bombers’ emails and he placed them all on the same bus so all of them died without victims (except for the driver of the one bus). The Canadian police and the FBI break in, killing Omar and injuring Samir.
Later, underneath the ‘L’ in Chicago, Samir tells Agent Clayton he feels guilty for killing innocent people, and that the Qur’an says that to kill an innocent person is to kill all mankind. Clayton responds by noting that the Qur’an also says that by saving an innocent person, he has saved all mankind, and tells Samir he is a hero.
The story immediately grabs the audience’s attention and dramatizes the dynamics and issues relating to the government’s response to terrorism and provides an interesting take on the challenges associated with police work and undercover infiltration.

REVIEW: VANTAGE POINT

CAST

Dennis Quaid (Movie 43)
William Hurt (The Incredible Hulk)
Matthew Fox (Lost)
Forest whitaker (The Butler)
Said Taghmaoui (Wonder Woman)
Sigourney Weaver (Paul)
Édgar Ramírez (Joy)
Ayelet Zurer (Daredevil)
Eduardo Noriega (The Last Stand)
Richard T. Jones (Terminator: TSCC)
Bruce McGill (MacGyver)
Zoe Saldana (Avatar)
Holt McCallany (Heroes)

U.S. President Henry Ashton (Hurt) attends a political summit in Salamanca, Spain, to promote an international treaty. Displayed with eight differing viewpoints, an assassination attempt on the president occurs, relayed in a time span of 23 minutes. Each time the events unfold from the beginning, a new vantage point is shown revealing additional details, which ultimately completes the story of what actually took place during the incident.From the first vantage point, GNN producer Rex Brooks (Weaver), directs various media personnel from a mobile television studio as the president arrives at the gathering. Mayor De Soto (Rodriguez) delivers a short speech and then introduces the president, who is shot twice as he greets the crowd from the podium. An explosion outside the plaza soon follows. Moments later, the podium itself is destroyed by a secondary explosion, killing and injuring numerous people. As the smoke clears, GNN reporter Angie Jones (Saldana) is seen lying dead in the rubble.The second vantage point follows Secret Service agents Thomas Barnes (Quaid) and Kent Taylor (Fox). Barnes notices a curtain fluttering in the window of a nearby building that was allegedly vacated. He also observes American tourist Howard Lewis (Whitaker) filming the audience. After the president is shot, Barnes tackles a man rushing to the podium named Enrique (Noriega). Taylor pursues a lead to a potential assassin. Following the second explosion, Barnes barges into the GNN production studio and asks to view their footage. He calls Taylor, who reports the direction of the suspected assassin’s escape route. Barnes then views an image on one of the camera’s live feeds that startles him and prompts him to run out.In the third vantage point, Enrique, a Spanish police officer assigned to protecting the mayor of Salamanca, sees his girlfriend Veronica (Zurer), being embraced by a stranger and overhears them speaking about meeting under an overpass. When he confronts her, Veronica assures Enrique of her love for him as he hands her a bag. When the president is shot, Enrique rushes onto the stage to protect the mayor, but is tackled by Barnes. While being detained, he witnesses Veronica toss the bag he gave her under the podium, causing the second explosion. Enrique escapes as the agents who previously had him in custody mount a chase while firing shots in his direction, failing to subdue him. Enrique confronts an unseen individual at the overpass and asks if he is surprised to see him still alive.The fourth vantage point revolves around Howard Lewis who is chatting with a man called Sam (Taghmaoui), while a little girl named Anna (Zapien), bumps into him and drops her ice cream. Later, Lewis notices Barnes looking at the curtain fluttering in the window of a nearby building, and captures the footage with his camcorder. Following the second explosion at the podium, Lewis chases Enrique and the pursuing Secret Service agents. At the overpass, Lewis views the pair of agents from afar shooting in the direction of Enrique as he greets an individual in a police uniform under the overpass. Seriously wounded, Enrique falls to the ground. Lewis sees Anna who had earlier become separated from her mother, trying to cross a busy intersection. An ambulance races down the road about to hit Anna, as Lewis runs out to save her.The fifth vantage point begins as President Ashton, having been informed of a credible assassination threat, has returned to his hotel room with his aides while his body double proceeds to the gathering in the plaza. The President talks with his personnel about the reason for the terrorists’ plot, the retaliation by the U.S. to the plot, the return of Barnes to active duty, and giving the order for the retaliation to proceed. The first explosion occurs just outside the hotel. Seconds later, a masked assailant bursts into the president’s room, shoots his advisers and then proceeds to abduct Ashton. By the sixth vantage point, terrorist Suarez, previously seen as Sam, shoots Ashton’s body double using a remote-controlled automatic rifle placed in an adjacent window next to the one with the fluttering curtain that had drawn Barnes’ attention earlier. The rifle is retrieved by Taylor, who Barnes sees leaving the scene wearing a Spanish policeman’s uniform on one of the GNN live feeds, even though he tells Barnes that he’s in pursuit of the assassin over the phone. Barnes realizes Taylor is actually part of the terror plot. The man Enrique saw embracing Veronica is revealed to be sharpshooter Javier (Ramirez), whose brother is being held hostage to ensure Javier’s cooperation with the terrorists. The first explosion, at the hotel, is revealed to be a device detonated by a suicide bomber disguised as a bellhop who had previously handed Javier a hotel room key. Javier kills the guards and aides within the hotel, and kidnaps the president. Ashton is later placed in an ambulance with Suarez and Veronica disguised as medics. Javier joins Taylor in a police car to a planned rendezvous at the overpass.Barnes commandeers a car and chases Taylor and Javier. Barnes gets into a collision with a truck, allowing the duo to escape. At the overpass, Enrique, who did not die in the blast at the podium as intended, confronts Javier and Taylor. Enraged, Javier shoots Enrique, mistakenly believing he had knowledge of his kidnapped brother’s whereabouts. Javier is then shot and killed by Taylor when he demands to be brought to his brother, who had been killed earlier by Suarez. Enrique dies of his wounds as Barnes reaches the scene on foot firing several rounds at Taylor, who attempts to flee. After crashing his car, a critically injured Taylor is dragged out by Barnes. He orders Taylor to reveal where the president has been taken, but Taylor dies. Meanwhile, Ashton regains consciousness in the ambulance and attacks Veronica, distracting her and Suarez just as Anna runs into their path. Suarez swerves causing the ambulance to flip over just as Lewis pulls Anna out of its way. Barnes runs to the ambulance where he sees Veronica lying dead. He shoots Suarez dead and rescues the president.This film really gets going right away and there is no time for a break.

REVIEW: HIDALGO


CAST

Viggo Mortensen (Lord of The Rings)
Omar Sharif (Doctor Zhivago)
Zuleikha Robinson (Lost)
Louise Lombard (Stargate Universe)
Said Taghmaoui (COnan The Barbarian)
J.K. Simmons (The Accountant)
Peter Mensah (Spartacus)
C. Thomas Howell (E.T.)
Marshall Manesh (How I Met Your Mother)
Malcolm McDowell (Star Trek: Generations)

In 1890, American Frank Hopkins (Viggo Mortensen) and his mustang, Hidalgo, are part of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show, where they are advertised as “the world’s greatest distance horse and rider”. Hopkins had been a famous distance rider, a cowboy, and a dispatch rider for the United States government; in the latter capacity he carried a message to the U.S. 7th Cavalry Regiment authorizing the Wounded Knee Massacre of Lakota Sioux.
Wealthy Sheikh Riyadh (Omar Sharif) has sent his attaché Aziz (Adam Alexi-Malle) to ask the show to either stop using the phrase “the world’s greatest distance horse and rider” or allow Hopkins and Hidalgo to prove themselves by entering the Middle Eastern “Ocean of Fire” race: an annual 3,000-mile survival race across the Najd desert region. The Sheikh is custodian of the al-Khamsa line, considered to be the greatest distance horses in the world, and traditionally the race has been restricted to pure-bred Arabian horses and Bedouin or Arab riders. In addition to the grueling conditions, prevailing animosity and contempt for a Christian “infidel” and “impure” horse, horse and rider face stiff competition, including the wealthy and unscrupulous British horse breeder Lady Anne Davenport (Louise Lombard).To complicate matters, Sheikh Riyadh has promised his daughter Jazira Jazeera (Zuleikha Robinson), his only surviving child, in marriage to the rider of his horse, should he win. She hopes to prevent this by giving Hopkins advice and information to help him win, thereby resulting in greater danger for them both. Sheikh Riyadh’s outcast brigand nephew, who will stop at nothing to gain control of the al-Khamsa line, raids the race camp, kidnaps Jazira, and threatens to kill her unless he gets his uncle’s prize stallion racer as her ransom. Hopkins manages to rescue Jazira. However, Davenport and the Sheikh’s nephew try to sabotage the race by eliminating the rival riders, but are thwarted when Hopkins kills the nephew.
For Hopkins the Ocean of Fire becomes not only a matter of pride, honor and survival, but of identity as well: it emerges that his father was European American while his mother was Lakota Sioux. The Lakota call him “Blue Child” or “Far Rider.” As a half-breed he feels sympathy and pity for his mother’s people, but does not generally reveal his heritage, especially after the Wounded Knee massacre, for which he feels partly responsible. Jazira compares his relation to his heritage to her desire to avoid wearing the veil, saying that he mustn’t “go through life hiding what God made you….like me.”
Nearing the end of the race, Hidalgo is severely injured and Hopkins is dying of thirst. He considers shooting Hidalgo to end his suffering, but is unable to bring himself to do it. Kneeling, he chants a prayer to Wakan Tanka as a possible death song, and images of Lakota elders and his mother appear before him before Hidalgo suddenly struggles up, and Hopkins rides bareback to come from behind win the race. Hopkins wins the respect and admiration of the Arabs, and becomes friends with the Sheikh, giving him his revolver as a gift. As he bids farewell to an unveiled Jazira, she asks him if he is fulfilling the traditional Western tales’ ending where the cowboy rides away into the setting sun and calls him Blue Child as she smiles kindly at him and turns to go. Returning to the United States, Hopkins uses his winnings to buy a herd of mustangs about to be killed by government order, in what was an attempt by the US government to eliminate mustangs and force Native Americans to convert to farming. Hopkins has the horses released and frees Hidalgo to join them in the wild. The epilogue states that Hopkins went on to reportedly win 400 long-distance races and was an outspoken supporter for wild mustangs until his death in 1951, while Hidalgo’s descendants live free in the wild in and around Oklahoma.The film has powerful overtones along with a basic plot. Overall, it made for a great adventure film. Its ending was certainly bittersweet

REVIEW: I ♥ HUCKABEES

CAST

Dustin Hoffman (Rain Man)
Jason Schwartzman (Scott Pilgram vs. The World)
Naomi watts (Insurgent)
Isabelle Huppert (Amour)
Jude Law (Spy)
Lily Tomin (Orange County)
Mark Wahlberg (Transformers 4)
Kevin Dunn (Small Soldiers)
Tippi Hedren (The Birds)
Said Taghmaoui (American Hustle)
Jean Smart (Garden State))
Jonah Hill (Cyrus)
Isla Fisher (Grimsby)
Talia Shire (Rocky)
Kamala Lopez (Total Recall)
Richard Jenkins (The Cabin In The Woods)

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Albert Markovski (Jason Schwartzman) is a young man who heads the local chapter of an environmental group, the “Open Spaces Coalition”. One of their current projects is an attempt to stop the building of a new Huckabees store, a chain of “big-box” department stores. Albert is a rival of Brad Stand (Jude Law), a shallow power executive at Huckabees. Brad infiltrates Open Spaces and charismatically displaces Albert as the leader. Dawn Campbell (Naomi Watts) is Brad’s live-in girlfriend and the face and voice of Huckabees; she appears in all of the store’s commercials.

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After seeing the same conspicuous stranger three times, Albert contacts two existential detectives, Bernard (Dustin Hoffman) and Vivian Jaffe (Lily Tomlin). The detectives offer Albert their optimistic brand of existentialism—they name it universal interconnectivity (which has some tenets of romantic and transcendentalist philosophies)—and spy on him, ostensibly to help him solve the coincidence. Bernard and Vivian introduce Albert to Tommy Corn (Mark Wahlberg), an obsessively anti-petroleum firefighter. Tommy is assigned to Albert as his ‘other’.

Tommy grows dissatisfied with the Jaffes, feeling that they are not helping him. Seeking out other possibilities, Tommy ends up abandoning and undermining the Jaffes by introducing Albert to Caterine Vauban (Isabelle Huppert), a former student of the Jaffes who espouses a seemingly opposing nihilistic/absurdist philosophy. She teaches them to disconnect their inner beings from their daily lives and their problems, to synthesize a non-thinking state of “pure being.” Being lifted from their troubles, they wish to keep that feeling forever, yet she tells them that it is inevitable to be drawn back to the human drama, and to understand that the core truth of that drama is misery and meaninglessness. In order to prove her point, Caterine takes Albert to go and have sex in the woods, leaving Tommy behind. Tommy finds out about the two of them being together and feels hurt. Caterine tells him that they found each other through all of the human suffering and drama. Tommy rejects this idea and leaves them furious and lost. Meanwhile, in Brad’s further attempts to undercut Albert, he and Dawn meet with and are influenced by Bernard and Vivian. In the following days, Brad and Dawn rethink their entire lives: Dawn rejects the modeling world and looks for deeper meaning, and Brad realizes that his whole ascent on the corporate ladder is meaningless, as he has lived his whole life just trying to please others and not himself.

All the storylines collide when Brad’s house catches fire. While the fire trucks get stuck in a traffic jam, Tommy comes on his bicycle to put out the fire, which incidentally trapped Dawn inside. As he saves her life, the two fall in love. Meanwhile, Brad despairs at the destruction of his house, the symbol of his material success. Albert attains a sort of enlightenment when he synthesizes the two opposing outlooks of the Jaffes and Vauban to realize the cosmic truth of everything. Brad, meanwhile, is fired from Huckabees, leaving him rudderless. Albert reveals to Brad that he burned Brad’s jet skis, and the fire spread to the house. Albert understands that he and Brad are no different, that everything really is inextricably connected, but that these connections necessarily arise from the often senselessly painful reality of human existence. Having realized this, he refers Brad to Caterine, hoping she will help him as she did Albert and Tommy. Albert and Tommy talk later about everything that has happened. As the two talk, Caterine and the Jaffes watch them, concluding that they can close both of their cases.

This film manages the delicate balance of being thought provoking while simultaneously quite funny, as our protagonist navigates the different philosophies that other characters come up with. Aided by a cast of stars, it is really a great film and a must see for all those who like to think outside the box.

REVIEW: AMERICAN HUSTLE

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CAST
Christian Bale (The Dark Knight)
Jennifer Lawrence (The Hunger Games)
Bradley Cooper (Limitless)
Amy Adams (Man of Steel)
Jeremy Renner (The Bourne Legacy)
Louis C.K. (Blue Jasmine)
Michael Pena (The Martian)
Shea Whigham (Agent Carter)
Alessandro Nivola (Jurassic Park 3)
Elisabeth Rohm (Heroes)
Said Taghmaoui (Lost)
Dawn Olivieri (The Vampire Diaries)
In 1978, con artists Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) and Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams) have started a relationship and are working together. Sydney has improved Rosenfeld’s scams, posing as English aristocrat “Lady Edith Greensly”. Irving loves Sydney, though is hesitant to leave his unstable and histrionic[8] wife Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence), fearing he will lose contact with her son Danny, whom Irving has adopted. Rosalyn has also threatened to report Irving to the police if he leaves her.
FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper) catches Irving and Sydney in a loan scam, but offers to release them if Irving can line up four additional arrests. Sydney opposes the agreement. Richie believes Sydney is English but has proof that her claim of aristocracy is fraudulent. Sydney tells Irving she will manipulate Richie, distancing herself from Irving.
Irving has a friend pretending to be a wealthy Arab sheikh looking for potential investments in America. An associate of Irving’s suggests the sheikh do business with Mayor Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner) of Camden, New Jersey, who is campaigning to revitalize gambling in Atlantic City, New Jersey, but has struggled in fundraising. Carmine seems to have a genuine desire to help the area’s economy and his constituents.
Richie devises a plan to make mayor Polito the target of a sting operation, despite the objections of Irving and of Richie’s boss, Stoddard Thorsen (Louis C.K.). Sydney helps Richie manipulate an FBI secretary into making an unauthorized wire transfer of $2,000,000. When Stoddard’s boss, Anthony Amado (Alessandro Nivola), hears of the operation, he praises Richie’s initiative, pressuring Stoddard to continue. Carmine leaves their meeting when Richie presses him to accept a cash bribe. Irving convinces Carmine the sheikh is legitimate, expressing his dislike of Richie, and the two become friends. Richie arranges for Carmine to meet the sheikh, and without consulting the others, has Mexican-American FBI agent Paco Hernandez (Michael Peña) play the sheikh, which displeases Irving.
Carmine brings the sheikh to a casino party, explaining mobsters are there and it is a necessary part of doing business. Irving is surprised to hear that Mafia overlord Victor Tellegio (Robert De Niro), right-hand man to Meyer Lansky, is present, and that he wants to meet the sheikh. Mafia man Tellegio explains that the business needs the sheikh to become an American citizen and that Carmine will need to expedite the process. Tellegio also requires a $10,000,000 wire transfer to prove the sheikh’s legitimacy. Richie agrees, eager to bring down Tellegio, while Irving realizes the operation is out of control.
Richie confesses his strong attraction to Sydney but becomes confused and aggressive when she drops her English accent and admits to being American. Irving arrives to protect Sydney and tries to stop their deal with Richie, but Richie says if they back out, Tellegio will learn of the scam and will murder them all, including Rosalyn and Danny. Rosalyn starts an affair with a mobster, Pete Musane (Jack Huston), whom she met at the party. She mentions her belief that Irving is working with the Internal Revenue Service, causing Pete to threaten Irving, who promises to prove the sheikh’s investment is real. Irving later confronts Rosalyn, who admits she told Pete. She agrees to keep quiet but wants a divorce.
With Carmine’s help, Richie and Irving videotape members of Congress receiving bribes. Richie assaults Stoddard in a fight over the money and later convinces Amado that he needs the $10,000,000 to get Tellegio, but gets only $2,000,000. A meeting is arranged at the offices of Tellegio’s lawyer, Alfonse Simone (Paul Herman), but Tellegio does not appear. Richie records Simone’s admission of criminal activities.
Irving visits mayor and friend Carmine and admits to the scam, but says he has a plan to help him. Carmine throws Irving out and the loss of their friendship hits Irving hard. Irving and Sydney meet with Amado, Stoddard and Richie. The feds inform Irving that their $2,000,000 is missing, and that they have received an anonymous offer to return the money in exchange for Irving and Sydney’s immunity and a reduced sentence for Carmine. Richie accuses the duo of theft. Irving suggests Richie either has the money or is incompetent for losing it. In fact, he reveals, they never met with Tellegio’s lawyer. Instead, Irving had a friend, Edward Malone (the host of the party where he met Sydney) pose as Simone to con Richie. Amado accepts the deal and Stoddard removes Richie from the case, which effectively ends his career, dropping him back into obscurity. Irving and Sydney move in together and open a legitimate art gallery, while Rosalyn lives with Pete and shares custody of Danny with Irving.
David O. Russell has had a good record of making extremely enjoyable films, and many of them display a great sense of artistic achievement. in “American Hustle” he excelled himself in juggling his superb cast in a perfectly integrated ensemble. This is certainly a film that no film lover should miss.

REVIEW: CONAN THE BARBARIAN (2011)

CAST

Jason Momoa (Game of Thrones)
Stephen Lang (Avatar)
Rachel Nichols (Alias)
Ron Perlman (Hellboy)
Rose McGowan (Planet Terror)
Nonso Anozie (Cinderella)
Said Taghmaoui (American Hustle)

Conan is the son of Corin, chief of a barbarian tribe. The youth is a skilled but violent warrior, who his father believes is not ready to wield his own sword. One day, their village is attacked by the forces of Khalar Zym, a warlord who wishes to reunite the pieces of the Mask of Acheron in order to revive his dead wife and conquer Hyboria. Thousands of years ago, the Mask, crafted by a group of sorcerers and used to subjugate the world, was broken into many pieces, which were scattered among the barbarian tribes. After locating Corin’s piece of the mask, and murdering the entire village, Zym leaves. Conan is the only survivor, and swears revenge.

Years later, Conan has become a pirate, but still seeks revenge. He encounters a slave colony and frees it, killing all of the slave handlers in the process. In the city of Messantia, he encounters Ela-Shan, a thief being chased by a man whom Conan recognizes as Lucius, one of Zym’s soldiers from years before. He allows himself to be captured alongside Ela-Shan. Conan escapes imprisonment, kills several of the guards, and confronts Lucius, forcing him to reveal that Zym seeks a girl, the pure-blood descendant of the sorcerers of Acheron; sacrificing the descendant and using blood from the body of the girl will unleash the mask’s power. Conan helps the rest of the prisoners to escape, and, in gratitude, Ela-Shan tells Conan that, if he ever needs him, Conan will find him at the City of Thieves, Argalon. Lucius is then killed by the prisoners.

Zym and his daughter, the sorceress Marique attack a monastery where they hope to find the pure-blood descendant. Sensing something is wrong, Fassir, an elderly monk, tells one of his students, Tamara, to run away and return to her birthplace. When Fassir refuses to reveal his knowledge of the descendant, Zym kills him. Marique also slays several of the priestesses. Tamara’s carriage is chased by Zym’s men, but Conan rescues her, kills three of her pursuers, and also captures one of Zym’s men, Remo. After forcing him to reveal Tamara’s importance as the pure-blood, Conan catapults Remo into Zym’s nearby camp, killing him.

Zym and Marique confront Conan, who pretends to be interested in exchanging Tamara for gold. Conan attacks Zym, but Marique assists her father by invoking soldiers made of sand, and then poisons Conan with a poison-laced boomerang sword. Tamara rescues him and they return to Conan’s ship, stationed nearby, where his friend Artus helps Conan recover. The boat is attacked by Zym’s men, but although they kill several of Conan’s men, they are defeated. Conan orders Artus to return to Messantia with Tamara and departs to confront Zym in his kingdom. Artus tells Tamara that Conan left a map behind and she follows him, meeting with him in a cave, where they strip naked and copulate. The next day, as she is returning to the boat, Zym’s men and daughter capture her.

Conan learns of Tamara’s capture and departs to Argalon, where he asks Ela-Shan to help him break into Zym’s castle unnoticed. Zym prepares to drain Tamara’s blood, mending the mask. He then plans to use the girl’s body as a vessel for his wife. After confronting an octopus-like monster, the Dweller, that guards the dungeons and killing its four handlers, along with Ukafa, Conan infiltrates Zym’s followers, kills a guard and steals his robe, and watches as Zym puts on the empowered mask. Conan releases Tamara, and she escapes as he battles Zym with the castle falling around them. Marique attacks Tamara, but Conan hears Tamara’s scream and defeats Marique, cutting off her hand. Tamara kicks her into a pit, where her body pierced by a large spike. Zym comes and, finding his daughter’s body impaled by the spike, he swears revenge upon Conan.

Conan and Tamara become trapped on an unstable bridge as Zym attacks them. He uses the mask’s power to call forth the spirit of his deceased wife, Maliva, a powerful sorceress who was executed by the monks from Tamara’s monastery for attempting to unleash occult forces to destroy Hyborea, and Maliva’s spirit begins to possess Tamara’s body. She begs Conan to let her fall, but he refuses, and instead stabs the bridge before jumping to safety with Tamara. The bridge collapses, taking Zym along. The power-hungry ruler falls to the lava below the immense precipice screaming the name of his wife, implying his demise.

Conan and Tamara escape and he returns her to her birthplace, telling her that they’ll meet again. He then returns to Corin’s village and tells the memory of his father that he has avenged his death and recovered the sword Marique stole from him, restoring his honor.

This remake has plenty of action, thankfully so as it takes some of the attention away from the few dubious acting talents & casting decisions on show. As the lead, Jason Momoa is not built quite like Arnie & doesn’t have a whole load of facial expressions, but he is a slightly better actor. Seasoned thespian, Stephen Lang, makes this a bit more worthwhile during the almost 2 hour run time, playing the baddie role very well. Also, Morgan Freeman’s (The Shawshank Redemption) deep rich voice adds some strength to the narration of the opening dialogues.