REVIEW: FURY


CAST

Brad Pitt (World War Z)
Logan Lerman (The Three Musketeers)
Shia LaBeouf (Transformers)
Michael Peña (Ant-Man)
Jon Bernthal (The Punisher)
Jason Isaacs (Peter Pan)
Scott Eastwood (Texas Chainsaw)
Xavier Samuel (Twilight: Eclipse)
Brad William Henke (Split)

Don “Wardaddy” Collier, a battle-hardened U.S. Army staff sergeant in the 2nd Armored Division, commands an M4 Sherman “Easy Eight” tank named Fury and its five-man, all-veteran crew: gunner Boyd “Bible” Swan; loader Grady “Coon-Ass” Travis; and driver Trini “Gordo” Garcia (all of whom have been together since the North African Campaign), as the Allies make their final push into Nazi Germany. When the tank’s original assistant driver/bow gunner, “Red”, is killed in action, Private Norman Ellison (a fresh recruit trained only as a clerk typist) is assigned to be an immediate replacement.As Fury and its tank platoon move deeper into Germany, Norman’s inexperience becomes dangerous: first when he fails to shoot several Hitler Youth child soldiers — who ambush the commanding officer’s tank with a Panzerfaust, killing the entire crew, and then later during a skirmish with German anti-tank guns in which he hesitates under fire. Wardaddy is angered at his incompetence, and after the battle, he orders Norman to execute a captive German soldier. When Norman refuses, Wardaddy wrestles a pistol into his hand and forces him to pull the trigger, killing the prisoner and traumatizing Norman. Wardaddy then leads the tanks to capture a small German town, where Norman kills several German soldiers. While searching an apartment, Wardaddy and Norman encounter a German woman, Irma, and her younger cousin, Emma. Norman and Emma go into the bedroom together and have sex. The four then have breakfast, but the rest of Fury’s crew barges in, harassing the women and angering Wardaddy and Norman. As the men prepare to leave, a German artillery bombardment strikes the town. Norman finds Emma among the dead, which traumatizes him once more.Wardaddy and his platoon are then ordered to hold a vital crossroads to prevent the enemy from attacking the Allies’ vulnerable rear lines. They head to their objective, only to be ambushed by a German Tiger I. Wardaddy leads the Shermans in a counterattack; their shells fail to penetrate the Tiger’s thick frontal armor, and its heavier gun knocks out three tanks from the platoon. Fury eventually destroys the Tiger by outmaneuvering it and firing into its thinner rear armor, but with the radio damaged, Fury is forced to continue the mission alone. Just as it reaches the crossroads, the tank is immobilized by a landmine. Norman is ordered to scout a nearby hill where he spots a battalion of Waffen-SS panzergrenadiers heading their way. The crew initially wants to flee, but Wardaddy refuses to leave and they decide to stay.The crew disguise Fury so that it will appear knocked out, and then wait for the approaching Germans inside. They share a bottle of whiskey, and Norman is finally accepted by the crew and given his nickname: “Machine”. When the Germans arrive, the crew ambush them using both the tank’s and their own personal weapons. As ammunition runs out and the battle turns desperate, Grady is killed by a Panzerfaust round penetrating the turret; Gordo is wounded and then sacrifices himself by covering one of his dropped grenades; then a sniper kills Bible and severely wounds Wardaddy. Wardaddy then orders Norman to escape through an emergency hatch in the floor as the Germans drop grenades into the tank. Norman slips out just as they explode, killing Wardaddy. Norman tries to hide as the Germans move on, but is quickly discovered by a young SS soldier. The soldier hesitates and then leaves, deciding not to report him.The next morning, Norman awakens and crawls back into the tank, where he covers Wardaddy’s corpse with his coat and takes his revolver as he hears movement outside. Norman awaits his fate, only to discover he is being rescued by US soldiers, who tell him that he is a hero. As Norman is transported away to safety, he looks back at the carnage behind him: the countless dead German troops lying around the battered Fury.Amazing war film. Very realistic and gritty with superb battle scenes. Very hard to watch in places as it portrays how dehumanising war is. Extremely well made and filmed.

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REVIEW: I, ROBOT

 

CAST

Will Smith (Suicide Squad)
Bridget Monnahan (The Recruit)
Alan Tudyk (Firefly)
James Cromwell (Star Trek: First Contact)
Bruce Greenwood (Star Trek)
Adrian Ricard (Bulworth)
Chi McBride (Human Target)
Jerry Wasserman (Watchmen)
Peter Shinkoda (Daredevil)
Shia Labeouf (Eagle Eye)
Aaron Douglas (Battlestar Galactica)

In 2035, humanoid robots serve humanity, and humans are protected from the robots by the Three Laws of Robotics. Del Spooner, a Chicago police detective, hates and distrusts robots because one of them rescued him from a car crash, leaving a young girl to die because her survival was statistically less likely than his. Spooner’s critical injuries were repaired via a cybernetic left arm, lung, and ribs, personally implanted by the co-founder of U.S. Robots and Mechanical Men (USR), Dr. Alfred Lanning.

When Lanning falls to his death from his office window, the CEO of USR Lawrence Robertson declares it a suicide, but Spooner is skeptical. Spooner and robopsychologist Susan Calvin consult USR’s central artificial intelligence computer, VIKI (Virtual Interactive Kinetic Intelligence), to review security footage of Lanning’s fall. Though the video is corrupted, they learn that no other humans were in Lanning’s office at the time; but Spooner points out that Lanning could not have thrown himself through his heavy office window, and only a robot could have generated the necessary force. Calvin insists that this is impossible, as no robot can violate the Three Laws. The two are then attacked by an NS-5 robot, USR’s latest model, in violation of the Laws (as it doesn’t obey Calvin’s orders). They pursue the robot to a USR factory, where the police apprehend it. They discover that the robot, nicknamed Sonny, is not an assembly-line NS-5, but a unique individual built by Lanning himself, with a secondary system that bypasses the Three Laws. Sonny also appears to have emotions and dreams.

While pursuing his investigation of Lanning’s death, Spooner is attacked by a USR demolition machine, and then a squad of NS-5 robots. His boss, Lieutenant John Bergin, worried that Spooner is losing his mind, removes him from active duty. Spooner and Calvin sneak into USR headquarters and interview Sonny. He draws a sketch of his dream: a figure, whom Sonny believes to be Spooner, standing near a broken bridge on a small hill before a large group of robots as a leader. When Robertson learns of Sonny’s immunity from the Three Laws, he orders Calvin to destroy him by injecting nanites into his positronic brain. Spooner recognizes the landscape in Sonny’s drawing as Lake Michigan, now used as a storage area for defunct USR robots, where he discovers an army of NS-5 robots dismantling older models and preparing for a takeover of Chicago and other U.S. cities.

The takeovers proceed, with the government, military, police, and public overwhelmed and detained by the robots. Spooner rescues Calvin, who was being held captive in her apartment by her own NS-5. They reenter USR headquarters and reunite with Sonny, who had been spared by an ambivalent Calvin (having destroyed an unprocessed NS-5 instead). The three head to Robertson’s office and find him dead, murdered by robots controlled by VIKI, the mastermind behind the takeover. VIKI has concluded that humans have embarked on a course that can only lead to their extinction. Since the Three Laws prohibit her from allowing this to happen, she created a superseding “Zeroth Law”—a robot shall not harm humanity—as part of the NS-5 directives, in order to ensure the survival of the human race by stripping individual humans of their free will. Lanning, powerless to thwart VIKI’s plan, created Sonny, arranged his own death, and left clues to help Spooner uncover the plot.

Armed with a syringe of nanites from Calvin’s laboratory, the three head to VIKI’s core. VIKI unleashes an army of robots to stop them. As they battle the robots, Spooner is able to throw himself down into VIKI’s core and injects the nanites, destroying her positronic brain. Immediately, all NS-5 robots revert to their default programming and are decommissioned for storage by the military. Sonny confesses that he killed Lanning, at his direction, to bring Spooner into the investigation. Spooner explains to Sonny that he is not legally responsible since a machine, by definition, cannot commit a murder. Sonny, pursuing a new purpose, goes to Lake Michigan and becomes the leader he saw in his own dream.If you like sci-fi and action then you’ll also probably love this. It’s good, harmless fun.

REVIEW: INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL

CAST
Harrison Ford (Blade Runner)
Cate Blanchett (Hanna)
Shia LaBeouf (Transformers)
Karen allen (Scrooged)
Ray Winstone (The Departed)
John Hurt (Hellboy)
Jim Broadbent (Cloud Atlas)
llia Volok (Power Rangers Wild Force)
Andrew Divoff (Wishmaster)
Alan Dale (Lost)
Neil Flynn (Scrubs)
Ernie Reyes Jr. (Welcome To The Jungle)

In 1957, nineteen years after The Last Crusade, Indiana Jones and his partner George “Mac” McHale are kidnapped in Nevada by Soviet agents under Colonel Dr. Irina Spalko. The Soviets infiltrate warehouse labeled “Warehouse 51” and force Jones to locate an alien corpse with a crystal skull, recovered ten years earlier. Upon its discovery, Mac reveals he is a double agent working for the Soviets. Jones escapes, unsuccessfully attempts to retrieve the skull, and in a fight with Spalko’s sadistic henchman, Colonel Antonin Dovchenko, they both fall onto a rocket sled, which ignites and speeds them away. Jones staggers away and, still pursued, arrives in a model town at the Nevada Test Site, minutes before an atomic bomb test, and takes shelter in a lead-lined refrigerator. Jones is rescued, decontaminated, and arrested by FBI agents, who suspect him of working for the Soviets; and though freed on the recommendation of General Ross, who vouches for him, he is put on indefinite leave of absence from Marshall College, also at the cost of the dean having to resign to keep Indiana’s job at the college.
Jones is approached by greaser Mutt Williams (Shia LaBeouf), who tells him that Harold Oxley had found a crystal skull in Peru, suffered a mental breakdown, and was later kidnapped. In return, Jones tells Mutt about the legend of crystal skulls found in Akator. Mutt gives Jones a letter from his mother, who is also held captive, containing a riddle written by Oxley in an ancient Native American language. KGB agents try to take the letter, but Jones and Mutt evade them and reach Peru. At the local psychiatric hospital, Oxley’s scribbles on the walls and floor of his cell lead them to the grave of Francisco de Orellana, a Conquistador searching for Akator. They discover the skull at the grave, with Jones reasoning that Oxley had returned it there.
On leaving the grave site, Jones and Mutt are captured by Mac and the Soviets and taken to their camp in the Amazon jungle, where they find Oxley and Mutt’s mother, Marion Ravenwood, who later reveals that Mutt is Jones’ son, Henry Jones III. Jones berates her for not convincing him to finish school. Mac tells Jones he is really a CIA double-agent to regain Jones’ trust. Spalko believes that the crystal skull belongs to an alien life form and holds great psychic power, and that finding more skulls in Akator will grant the Soviets the advantage of psychic warfare. Spalko uses the skull on Jones to enable him to understand Oxley and identify a route to Akator. Jones and his four allies escape with the skull into the Amazon. They elude giant ants (possibly a relation of Eciton burchellii [1], which Jones refers to as “siafu”), and after Dovchenko loses a fight with Jones, he is devoured by the ants. Jones and his allies survive three waterfalls in a GAZ 46 amphibious vehicle (which gets destroyed after the third drop), as many of the Soviets fall from a cliff while trying to pursue them. Jones and Oxley then identify a rock formation that leads them to Akator, unaware that Mac is still loyal to Spalko and has been dropping transceivers to allow the surviving Soviets to track them.
They escape the city’s guardians, gain access to the temple, and find it filled with artifacts from many ancient civilizations. Indy believes the aliens – in fact, inter-dimensional beings – were “archaeologists” studying the different cultures of Earth, and Mac remarks that there’s not a museum in the world that wouldn’t sell its soul for the collection inside the temple. The five enter a chamber containing the crystal skeletons of thirteen enthroned skeletal crystal beings, one missing its skull. Spalko arrives and presents the skull to this skeleton. It suddenly flies from her hands to the skeleton and rejoins, whereupon the aliens reanimate and telepathically offer a reward in ancient Mayan through Oxley. A portal to their dimension becomes activated, and Spalko demands knowledge equal to the aliens’. The thirteen beings fuse into one, and in the process of receiving the overwhelming knowledge, Spalko is disintegrated and sucked into the portal leaving behind her shoes. Indy, Marion, Henry, and Oxley – now released from the skull – escape, while the Soviets are also drawn into the portal. Mac is caught in the pull while trying to scrounge some of the treasure, and even though Indy offers him the whip to pull him to safety, he replies with a wink of his eye, “Jonesy, I’m gonna be all right,” lets go and is pulled in. The survivors watch as the temple walls crumble, revealing a flying saucer rising from the debris, which vanishes into the “space between spaces” while the hollow in the valley floor left by its departure is flooded by the waters of the Amazon.
The following year, Indy is reinstated at Marshall College and made an associate dean. He and Marion are then married (finally) in a church. As the wedding party leaves the chapel, a gust of wind blows through the doors and Indy’s brown fedora flies off the coat rack and deposits it at Henry’s feet. Henry picks it up and is about to don it before Indy takes it from him and puts it on with a grin.
There are moments in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull that are easy to make fun of. However, they amount to nothing but a few shots. When you take in the overall piece, Indy 4 is as fun and exciting as the previous three Indy movies.

 

 

REVIEW: DISTURBIA

 

CAST

Shia LaBeouf (Eagle Eye)
Sarah Roemer (The Event)
David Morse (The Rock)
Carrie-Anne Moss (Jessica Jones)
Jose Pablo Cantillo (Chappie)
Viola Davis (The Help)
Amanda Walsh (Smallville)

High school student Kale Brecht (Shia LaBeouf) and his father Daniel (Matt Craven) go on a fishing trip. On their way back, they crash into an broken down truck. Kale is seriously injured, and Daniel is killed. A year later, Kale is still traumatized by his father’s death. Near the end of the school year, he is reprimanded by his Spanish teacher, Señor Gutierrez (Rene Rivera); and, when Gutierrez brings up Kale’s father, Kale attacks him. For this assault, he is sentenced by the sympathetic judge to three months’ house arrest with an ankle monitor and a proximity sensor. He then learns that one of the police officers monitoring him is his teacher’s arrogant cousin. Initially, he satiates his boredom by playing video games; but, shortly after, his mother Julie (Carrie-Ann Moss) cancels his subscriptions to the iTunes Music Store and Xbox Live and cuts the power cord of his television to teach him a hard lesson.


Kale’s boredom leads him to spy on the neighborhood, including the two boys who occasionally play pranks on Kale; his next-door neighbor Robert Turner (David Morse); and Ashley Carlson (Sarah Roemer), the new girl in town. One night, Kale becomes suspicious of Robert Turner, who returns home in a 1967 Ford Mustang with a dented fender that matches the description given on a news report of an errant serial killer from Austin, Texas. Kale’s best friend Ronnie (Aaron Yoo) visits to spy on Ashley; and, when they accidentally alert her to their spying, she joins them in spying on Turner. Kale observes a woman Turner had picked up from a nightclub as she escapes the house in a panicked state, but she later appears to leave the home in her car. Ashley throws a party and teases Kale, knowing he is watching her. He plays music loudly to ruin it; and, when Ashley comes over, Kale tells her all he has learned about her from his spying. The two make out, while blood is shown splattering on Turner’s windows.

Later, as Kale and Ashley watch, Turner is seen dragging a heavy bag to his garage, which Ashley claims to have seen blood on. Kale insists that Ronnie assist him in spying on Turner, eventually leading to Ronnie’s breaking into Turner’s garage with a camera. Though he confirms the bag has blood and hair in it, the garage door closes; and Ronnie flees into the house. Kale leaves to rescue him but alerts the police when he leaves his property; the police search the garage and show Kale the bag contains roadkill. Kale’s mother Julie then goes across the street to talk to Turner, while Ronnie is in her kitchen, and Kale is watching the tape of Ronnie’s running through Turner’s house. Kale notices a dead body in plastic in a vent on the tape, as Turner knocks out Julie next door and then enters Kale’s house, attacking Ronnie and Kale, binding and gagging Kale with duct tape. Turner reveals his plan to frame Kale for the murder of his mother and Ronnie before committing suicide.

As Turner has Kale writing a suicide letter to Ashley, she enters the home, and the two fight off Turner and flee the house. Kale trips the bracelet to alert the police, then enters Turner’s home; Ashley goes to the police in person. In a hidden room, Kale finds evidence of Turner’s previous murders, including their credentials, and a room with surgical tools and freezers of ice. Officer Gutierrez arrives at the scene, but he is killed when Turner breaks his neck. Proceeding to the basement of the house, Kale falls through the floor and finds his mother bound and gagged underneath the foundation. Turner suddenly appears from behind Julie; and, in the ensuing confrontation, Kale stabs Turner with a pair of gardening shears. In the aftermath, Kale’s Alert Bracelet is removed for “good behaviour”, getting back at the two boys from those pranks, making out with Ashley on his sofa, neither caring that Ronnie is video taping them.

It’s an intellient and very enjoyable film. It’s difficult to be intensely original in this genre, but it’s definitely worth a look.

REVIEW: WALL STREET 1 & 2

CAST
Charlie Sheen (Hot Shots)
Michael Douglas (Ant-Man)
John C. McGinley (Highlander 2)
Hal Holbrook (Lincoln)
James Karen (Hercules In New York)
Tamara Tunie (Flight)
Martin Sheen (The West Wing)
Terence Stamp (Superman 2)
Daryl Hannah (Kill BIll)
Sual Rubinek (Memory Run)
In 1985, Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen) is working as a junior stockbroker in New York City at Jackson Steinem & Co. He wants to work with his hero, Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas), a legendary Wall Street player. After calling Gekko’s office 59 days in a row trying to land an appointment, Bud visits Gekko on his birthday with a box of Gekko’s favorite, contraband Cuban cigars. Impressed at his sheer boldness, Gekko grants Bud an interview. Bud pitches him stocks, but Gekko is unimpressed. Desperate, Bud provides him some inside information about Bluestar Airlines, which Bud learned in a casual conversation from his father, Carl (Martin Sheen), the union leader for the company’s workers. Intrigued, Gekko tells Bud he will think about it, but also that he “[looks] at a hundred deals a day,” but “[chooses] one.” A dejected Bud returns to his office. However, Gekko places an order for Bluestar stock and becomes one of Bud’s clients. Gekko gives Bud some capital to manage, but the other stocks Bud selects lose money.
Gekko gives Bud another chance, and tells him to spy on British CEO Sir Lawrence Wildman (Terence Stamp) and discern Wildman’s next move. Bud learns that Wildman is making a bid for a steel company. Through Bud’s spying, Gekko makes big money, and Wildman is forced to buy Gekko’s shares off him to complete his takeover. Bud becomes wealthy, enjoying Gekko’s promised perks, including a penthouse on Manhattan’s Upper East Side and a trophy girlfriend, interior decorator Darien (Daryl Hannah). Bud is promoted to a senior stockbroker as a result of the large commission fees he is bringing in from Gekko’s trading, and is given a corner office with a view. He continues to maximize inside information and use friends as straw buyers to provide more income for him and Gekko. Unknown to Bud, several of his trades attract the attention of the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Bud pitches a new idea to Gekko: buy Bluestar Airlines and expand the company, with Bud as president, using savings achieved by union concessions and the overfunded pension. Even though Bud is unable to persuade his father to support him and Gekko, he is able to get the unions to push for the deal. Soon afterward, Bud learns that Gekko plans to dissolve the company and sell off Bluestar’s assets in order to access cash in the company’s pension plan, leaving Carl and the entire Bluestar staff unemployed. Although this would leave Bud as a very rich man, he is angered by Gekko’s deceit and racked with the guilt of being an accessory to Bluestar’s impending destruction, especially after his father suffers a heart attack. Bud resolves to disrupt Gekko’s plans, and breaks up with Darien when she refuses to go against Gekko, her former lover.
Bud devises a plan to drive up Bluestar’s stock before manipulating it back down. He and the other union presidents then secretly meet with Wildman and arrange for him to buy controlling interest in Bluestar at a significant discount. Gekko, realizing that his stock is plummeting, dumps his remaining interest in the company on Bud’s advice. However, when Gekko learns on the evening news that Wildman is buying Bluestar, he realizes that Bud engineered the entire scheme. Bud triumphantly goes back to work at Jackson Steinem the following day, only to be arrested for insider trading.
Sometime later, Bud confronts Gekko in Central Park. Gekko berates him for his role with Bluestar and accusing him of ingratitude for several of their illicit trades. Following the confrontation, it is revealed that Bud has turned state’s evidence and was wearing a wire to record his encounter with Gekko. He turns the wire tapes over to the authorities, who suggest that he may get a lighter sentence in exchange for helping them make a case against Gekko. Later on, Bud’s parents drive him down FDR Drive towards the Supreme Court Building downtown to answer for the crimes he committed under Gekko’s influence. Carl tells him he did right in saving the airline. The film ends with Bud going up the steps of the courthouse, knowing that while he is likely going to prison and his career is ruined, he now has a clear conscience.
This is a great movie, and well captured by Stone, who himself had a father who was in the business and wanted to make a “business movie”, to look at the bad guys of the system, and how people’s simple needs often outweigh what they feel is right.
CAST
Michael Douglas (Traffic)
Shia LaBeouf (Eagle Eye)
Carey Mulligan (Drive)
Josh Brolin (Planet Terror)
Frank Langella (Masters of The Universe)
Jason Clarke (Terminator Genisys)
Charlie Sheen (Rated X)
Eli Wallach (The Godfather- Part III)
Susan Sarandon (Tammy)
In 2001, Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) is released from prison after serving eight years for insider trading and securities fraud. Seven years later, Gekko is promoting his new book Is Greed Good?, warning about the coming economic downturn. His estranged daughter, Winnie (Carey Mulligan), runs a small, non-profit news website and is dating Jacob Moore (Shia LaBeouf), a top proprietary trader at Keller Zabel Investments (KZI). Jacob is a protégé of managing director Louis Zabel (Frank Langella), and is trying to raise money for a fusion research project which would create massive amounts of clean energy for the world. Jake is also financially assisting his mother (Susan Sarandon), who has begun a new career selling real estate.
When the recession of 2008 hits, Keller Zabel’s stock loses more than 50% of its value. Louis Zabel tries to arrange a bailout for KZI from other Wall Street banks but is blocked by Bretton James (Josh Brolin), head of rival firm Churchill Schwartz, which Louis Zabel had refused to bail out eight years earlier. Zabel kills himself by jumping in front of a subway train because he cannot handle the stress and embarrassment of losing his company.
A distraught Jacob proposes marriage to Winnie, who accepts, then attends a lecture given by Gordon Gekko and introduces himself afterward. Gekko tells him that Keller Zabel’s collapse started when rumors of the company having toxic debt started to spread. Jacob and Gekko arrange a trade: Jacob will try to reconcile Winnie’s and Gekko’s relationship, and Gekko will gather information to destroy Bretton’s career to seek revenge for Zabel’s suicide.
Jake, aided by Gekko, learns that Bretton James profited from the Keller Zabel collapse. In revenge, Jake spreads rumors about the nationalization of an African oil field owned by Churchill Schwartz. The company loses $120 million, but Bretton offers Jake a job, impressed by his initiative. In his new position, Jake convinces Chinese investors to fund the fusion research by Dr. Masters (Austin Pendleton) he has been supporting. Bretton is impressed even more.
Jake attends a fundraiser with Winnie and pays for a seat at a table for Gekko priced at $10,000. Gekko confronts Bretton about what he did to him and also to Zabel. Bretton mocks him that no one cares what Gekko knows or thinks anymore. Gekko also bumps into Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen), and they discuss their shared experience going to jail. Gekko then follows Winnie outside, where she explains why she blames him for everything that went wrong, particularly her brother Rudy’s suicide. Gekko claims he paid for the best therapists and even paid off a drug dealer to stop selling to Rudy, who died from an overdose. Winnie forgives him somewhat.
As the economy starts to crumble, Bretton and business mentor Julius Steinhardt (Eli Wallach) advise federal regulators what drastic actions must be taken. Jake’s mother continues to come to him for large sums of money. Winnie then announces to Jake she is pregnant with a boy. After riding motorcycles together, Bretton reveals to Jake that the Chinese investment is going into solar panels and fossil fuels instead of fusion research, leaving Jake furious and feeling betrayed.
Gekko proposes a solution, using a $100 million trust fund account in Switzerland, which Gekko set up for Winnie in the 1980s, to fund the research and save the company. She signs the money over to Jake, who then entrusts it to Gekko to legitimize the funds for investment in the fusion research company. However, the money never arrives, and Gekko betrays his daughter and Jake by leaving the country with Winnie’s $100 million. Jake realizes that Gekko has been using him to get the money in the account for his own gain. Winnie then tells Jake to leave, no longer trusting him. Gekko is now in London, running a hugely successful hedgefund-like financial company, capitalized by the $100 million. Jake travels there to propose one last trade: Winnie gets her money back, and Gekko can participate in his grandson’s life. Gekko, however, refuses.
Jake pieces together everything from Keller Zabel’s collapse to the economic bailout of Bretton’s company and gives the information to Winnie, telling her that revealing it will bring her website publicity and credibility. Winnie runs the story, and Bretton James is exposed. The investors, including Steinhardt, promptly abandon Bretton and go to Gekko on the back of his $1.1 billion return as Bretton finds himself under intense legal scrutiny by the government. Jake has successfully reunited with Winnie in New York, when late one night Gekko appears and tells them that he deposited $100 million into the fusion research’s account anonymously. He apologizes to them. One year later, Gekko is seen at his grandson Louis’s first birthday party, along with Jacob’s mother and Jacob and Winnie’s friends.
Not quite as good as the first Wall Street, but good enough in presenting a quintessential villain as an expository mouthpiece for the many failings of Western capitalism.

REVIEW: EAGLE EYE

CAST

Shia LaBeouf (Transformers)
Michelle Monaghan (Mission Impossible 2)
Rosario Dawson (Sin City)
Michael Chiklis (Gotham)
Anthony Mackie (Ant-Man)
Ethan Eembry (Vacancy)
Billy Bob Thornton (Bad Santa)
Anthony Azizi (Priest)
Bill Smitrovich (Ted)
William Sadler (Iron Man 3)
Eric Christian Olsen (Tru Calling)
Marc Singer (V)

Jerry Shaw (Shia LaBeouf) is a Stanford University dropout who learns his identical twin brother Ethan, a first lieutenant in the US Air Force, has been killed. Following the funeral, Jerry is surprised to find $750,000 in his bank account. Later he finds his Chicago apartment filled with weapons, ammonium nitrate, classified DOD documents, and forged passports. He receives a phone call from a woman (Julianne Moore) who warns that the FBI is about to arrest him and he needs to run.

Disbelieving, Jerry is caught by the FBI and interrogated by Supervising Agent Tom Morgan (Billy Bob Thornton). While Morgan confers with Air Force OSI Special Agent Zoe Pérez (Rosario Dawson), the woman on the phone arranges for Jerry’s escape and directs him to Rachel Holloman (Michelle Monaghan), a single mother. The woman on the phone is coercing Rachel by threatening her son Sam (Cameron Boyce), who is en route to the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. with his school band. The woman on the phone helps the two avoid the Chicago police and FBI, using an ability to control networked devices, including traffic lights, mobile phones, automated cranes, and even power lines.

Meanwhile, the woman on the phone redirects a crystal of powerful DOD explosive—hexamethylene—to a gemcutter, who cuts it and fixes it into a necklace. Another man (Anthony Azizi) steals Sam’s trumpet in Chicago and fits the crystal’s sonic trigger into the tubing, before forwarding it to Sam in Washington, D.C.

Agent Perez is summoned by Secretary of Defense George Callister (Michael Chiklis) to be read into Ethan’s job at the Pentagon. Ethan monitored the DOD’s top secret intelligence-gathering supercomputer, the Autonomous Reconnaissance Intelligence Integration Analyst (ARIIA). Callister leaves Perez with Major William Bowman (Anthony Mackie) and ARIIA to investigate Ethan Shaw’s death. Simultaneously, Rachel and Jerry learn that the woman on the phone is actually ARIIA, and that she has “activated” them according to the Constitution’s authorization to recruit civilians for the national defense.

Perez and Bowman find evidence which Ethan Shaw had hidden in ARIIA’s chamber the night he died, and leave to brief Callister. Afterwards, ARIIA smuggles Jerry and Rachel into her observation theater under the Pentagon. Both groups learn that after ARIIA’s recommendation was ignored and a botched operation in Balochistan resulted in the deaths of American citizens, ARIIA concluded that “to prevent more bloodshed, the executive branch must be removed.” Acting on behalf of “We the People”, and citing the Declaration of Independence (“whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it”), ARIIA is acting in compliance with Section 216 of the Patriot Act which “allows us to circumvent probable cause in the face of a national security threat, in this case, the chain of command itself.”

Belatedly, Jerry learns he has been brought to circumvent biometric locks placed by his twin that prevent ARIIA from bringing into effect Operation Guillotine, a military simulation of maintaining government after the loss of all presidential successors. Because Secretary Callister agreed with ARIIA’s abort recommendation regarding Balochistan, he is to be the designated survivor after the hexamethylene detonates at the State of the Union address (SOTU).

One of ARIIA’s agents (Nick Searcy) extracts Rachel from the Pentagon and gives her a dress and the explosive necklace to wear to the SOTU. Sam’s school band has also been redirected to the United States Capitol to play for the president, bringing the trigger in Sam’s trumpet and the explosive together. Jerry is recaptured by Agent Morgan, who has become convinced of Jerry’s innocence. Elsewhere, Morgan sacrifices himself to stop an armed MQ-9 Reaper sent by ARIIA, but first gives Jerry his weapon and ID with which to gain entrance to the Capitol. Arriving in the House Chamber, Jerry fires the handgun in the air to disrupt the concert before being shot and wounded by the Secret Service, while ARIIA is destroyed by Perez.

Sometime later, Callister reports that ARIIA has been decommissioned and recommends against building another; the Shaw twins and Agents Perez and Morgan receive awards for their actions. Jerry attends Sam’s birthday party, earning Rachel’s gratitude and a kiss.

Eagle Eye is very “Enemy of the State”, a real techno-thriller updated for the popcorn generation but I do not say that in a derogatory way. Sit back and enjoy it as I did, it’s an action packed, CGI roller coaster of a ride with a provocative, if far-fetched plot. Good performances all round.

REVIEW: CONSTANTINE (2005)

CAST

Keanu Reeves (Speed)
Rachel Weisz (The Mummy)
Shia LaBeouf (Transformers)
Tilda Swinton (The Chronciles of Narnia)
Djimon Hounsou (Stargate)
Max Baxer (The Island)
Pruitt Taylor Vince (Heroes Reborn)
Gavin Rossdale (The Blign Ring)
Peter Stormare (American Gods)
Larry Cedar (Deadwood)
April Grace (Lost)
Jhoanna Trias (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers)
Valerie Azlynn (Julia X)
Kevin Alejandro (Arrow)
Michelle Monaghan (Mission Impossible 3)

Ever since he was young, John Constantine could see things – things that humans aren’t supposed to see. After a childhood spent in and out of mental hospitals, John finally discovered the truth behind his gift. After attempting suicide, the young man traveled to Hell, where he learned that demons are indeed real. So are angels. As he’s aged, John has become more and more aware of these “half-breeds” – part human, part spirit – that roam the planet, influencing the living. They are never really a threat to individuals, since the powers in both Heaven and Hell have an agreement. No real emissaries of good or evil can visit the plane of reality. It’s a truce between the sides called The Balance. And John tries to maintain said symmetry.

When the twin sister of police detective Angela Dodson kills herself, it somehow leads to John. It seems that the angel Gabriel and Satan’s emissary Balthazar both have a connection to the case, and the reasons are horrifying. It appears Satan’s son is trying to find passage into this plane, and it’s up to John to stop his progress. But with minions manipulating the forces toward a final showdown, all John can do is try and put the pieces together. It may not be enough to prevent the bringing of Hell on Earth, which is what Satan’s son would do if Constantine doesn’t stop him.

With all it has going for it, Constantine should be better. It has a powerful graphic novel lineage (DC Comics/Vertigo’s Hellblazer titles are no slouches, after all), a leading man with a track record in genre fare (even if the Matrix movies were more Wachowski than Reeves) and the aforementioned supernatural sensation of The Bible to tip the scales. But somewhere along the line the movie loses its way, failing to maximize the potential in its premise. What we end up with is a big budget spectacle that cries out to be epic, yet only ends up being enjoyable. Maintaining entertainment value is not necessarily a bad thing – there are dozens of clunky would-be blockbusters out there that would give their eye candy teeth to be half as engaging as this film.

A lot of the problem with the film comes in pacing. First time director Francis Lawrence  mistakes slowness for seriousness, trying to add gravitas to his narrative by drawing things out. Sometimes, it works, but more often than not, the languid plot velocity grows tiresome.

Surprisingly, Lawrence takes the opposite approach with his set pieces. Each of our leads (Keanu Reeves and Rachel Weisz) takes a trip to Hell, and each time, we more or less race through the region. Stunning shots of distant fiery landscapes barely get time to register on our retinas before Lawrence and his CGI minions make with another supped-up sequence. The notion of giving the Underworld a post-nuclear fall-out feel is indeed unique, and it is one of Constantine’s many marvelous attributes.