REVIEW: ACT OF VALOR

CAST

Jason Cottle (The Wedding Singer)
Rorke Denver (MeatEater)
Alex Veadov (Thirteen Days)
Roselyn Sánchez (Devious Maids)
Nestor Serrano (Runaway Jury)
Emilio Rivera (Sons of Anarchy)

In the Philippines, a terrorist kills the U.S. ambassador, his son, and dozens of children at an elementary school, using a vehicle-borne IED disguised as an ice cream truck. The mastermind, a Chechen terrorist named Abu Shabal (Jason Cottle), escapes to a training camp in Indonesia. Elsewhere in Costa Rica, two CIA operatives, Walter Ross (Nestor Serrano) and Lisa Morales (Roselyn Sánchez) meet to consolidate intelligence about their target, a drug smuggler named Mikhail “Christo” Troykovich. Christo’s men kill Ross and capture Morales, who is imprisoned in a jungle compound and tortured.At Coronado, the members of Bandito Platoon, SEAL Team Seven are at home. Lieutenant Rorke (Rorke Denver) confides to Chief Dave that his wife is pregnant and has the entire team spend time together with their families until their next deployment. A squad from the platoon consisting of Rorke, Dave, Wiemy, Mikey, Ray, Sonny, and Ajay, are then deployed to Costa Rica to exfiltrate Morales. The seven Navy SEALs insert into the jungle via HALO and hold position outside the compound all night. At dawn, they approach the compound, hear Morales being tortured, and decide to enter the compound early. Rorke and Weimy, the team sniper, provide cover for the other five, led by Dave, who conduct room-clearing, engaging several enemy guards. Mikey is shot in the head, blinding him in one eye, and knocking him unconscious, though he survives. The SEALs extract Morales, escaping with her and recovering a cellphone full of the information she had gathered. However, the gunfight alerts the enemy quick reaction force down the road, who drive toward the camp. The SEALs commandeer an enemy truck and exfiltrate. The hot pursuit forces them to revert to a tertiary extraction point where the SOC-R boats extract the team and neutralize the enemy pursuit with miniguns.Christo and Shabal, who are revealed to have been childhood friends, meet in Kiev. Christo knows the CIA is watching him and informs Shabal that subordinates will complete their project, which is to equip suicide bombers with specialized vests. On the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard, Rorke is informed that the intelligence recovered confirms Shabal and Christo were working together. Shabal, an old-school Muslim terrorist, seeks to bring jihad to the U.S., while Christo provides the routes for smuggling drugs and people into the U.S.. Ajay and Ray, are sent to Somalia, where an arms transfer involving Shabal is taking place. The remaining SEALs, comprising Rorke, Dave, Sonny and Weimy, stay in the U.S. in case the terrorists make it in. Miller himself has been reassigned to SEAL Team Four, hunting for Christo somewhere on the oceans. Lieutenant Rorke gives Dave a letter to give to his family in case he is killed.Shabal and sixteen terrorists are found to be on an island off Baja California, where the SEALs act to secure the island, killing eight terrorists. Shabal and eight others escape. Elsewhere, in the South Pacific, SEAL Team Four captures Christo and interrogate him. Christo and Shabal are found to be associates and that there is a plan to detonate vest bombs throughout the U.S., in order to cause panic and economic disruption with the goal to surpass that of the September 11 attacks. The SEALs are informed that Shabal is en route to the U.S. via tunnels underneath a milk factory, and are ordered to link up with Mexican Special Forces and neutralize the remaining targets. Arriving at the factory, the SEALs and Mexican forces launch an assault there. During the gunfight, a combatant throws a grenade, and Rorke dives on it to save his team before it detonates, killing him. Dave pursues the terrorists and shoots them as they try to escape through the tunnels. He is then shot several times and gravely wounded by Shabal, who is intercepted and killed by Sonny before he could execute Dave.At home, Rorke is given a military funeral with full honors, where the SEALs pay their respects. It is then revealed that Dave’s narration throughout the movie was a written letter meant for Rorke’s son. The film ends with a dedication to every U.S. Navy SEAL killed in action since 9/11 along with a listing of their names as well as a photo montage of other everyday public servants (soldiers, police, firefighters, etc.).Those looking for a well constructed war film should look else where. The predicable storyline and patriotic American stance will put most viewers off. However, if HD fire fights, good military realism can be taken with a pinch of salt this film does not disappoint.

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REVIEW: THERE BE DRAGONS

CAST

Charlie Cox (Daredevil)
Dougray Scott (Mission Impossible II)
Wes Bentley (Ghost Rider)
Golshifteh Farahani (Exodus: Gods and Kings)
Olga Kurylenko (Oblivion)
Rodrigo Santoro (300)
Derek Jacobi (The King’s Speech)
Lily Cole (The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus)

A young journalist long ago rejected by his now aged and dying father finds himself investigating one of his father’s former friends, a candidate for canonization. Uncovering the two men’s complicated relationship from childhood through the horrors of the Spanish Civil War unveils a compelling drama filled with passion, betrayal, love and religion. An action packed story set during a murderous time in history that ultimately serves the present by revealing the importance and timeless power of forgiveness.The film explores the senseless nature of war and its consequences, the spiral of hatred that slowly engulfs men, the repentance for terrible mistakes and the struggle to forgive them. Each character follows a path filled with dilemmas and suffering at the end of which they must fight themselves and their dragons. Do not expect an action packed war film. For those who have interest in the roots of Opus Dei, this film will not help you there. It deals with the repercussions of war and strife in people, it does not deal with the grander scale of things. there Be Dragons is a deeply personal and spiritual film. It is very intense and reflects unapologetically the worst side of humanity.

 

 

 

 

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 SIEGE OF JADOTVILLE

CAST

Jamie Dornan (Marie Antoinette)
Mark Strong (John Carter)
Mikael Persbrandt (The Hobbit 2 & 3)
Danny Sapani (Hotel)
Jason O’Mara (Ahents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)
Michael McElhatton (Game of Thrones)
Emmanuelle Seigner (The Ninth Gate)

The film opens with the assassination of left-wing Congolese Prime Minister Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba and the outbreak of civil war. As the mineral rich State of Katanga secedes under the leadership of Moise Tshombe, United Nations Secretary General Dag Hammerskjöld assigns Conor Cruise O’Brien to head up a UN peacekeeping mission. Privately, Hammerskjöld tells O’Brien that the Katanga crisis could trigger World War III and orders the Irish diplomat to take offensive action.Meanwhile, Irish Army Commandant Pat Quinlan commands an infantry company of Irish peacekeepers who arrive at the UN compound near Jadotville. After examining the compound, Quinlan decides that it is wide open to attack and orders his men to dig trenches. hile buying food in the nearest town, Quinlan meets French mercenary Rene Faulques, who has been hired by the mining companies allied to Tshombe’s Government. Afterwards, he visits the estate of a Belgian colonist, Madam LaFongagne, who tells him that Jadotville contains the world’s richest uranium deposits. eanwhile, O’Brien orders UN forces to launch an attack against Government buildings held by the Katangese in Elizabethville. While Indian peacekeepers are attempting to seize the city’s radio station, thirty unarmed Katangese are killed by gunfire and grenades. O’Brien orders the incident to be swept under the rug.In retaliation, Faulques receives orders to attack Jadotville. Katangese forces and mercenaries under Faulques, attack and besiege the Irish. During a brief ceasefire, Faulques vainly demands Quinlan’s surrender. uinlan refuses, and his company is attacked repeatedly in separate waves by the Katangese/mercenary forces. They kill a total of 300 enemy soldiers, and wound 1,000 enemy soldiers, with zero Irish deaths and only 16 Irish wounded. After many extended waves of battle, the Irish company is forced to surrender to Faulques’s troops after running out of ammunition. They are held in a Katangese prison for about a month, then are freed in a prisoner exchange deal and are allowed to go home.Based on true events, this film is a shock to the system because what it reveals had been meticulously covered up for over 40 years. The film highlights one of the most important roles ever played by the Irish Defence Forces as United Nations peace keepers. This massively impacting film would be well worth seeing again , if only to focus next time on the drama itself without the distraction or initial shock of the unfolding historical events portrayed

REVIEW: WAR PIGS

 

CAST

Luke Goss (Blade II)
Dolph Lundgren (Arrow)
Chuck Liddell (Cradle 2 The Grave)
Mickey Rourke (The Wrestler)
Noah Segan (Cabin Fever 2)
Ryan Kelley (Smallville)
K. C. Clyde (Firestarter: Rekindled)

Disgraced World War 2 Army Captain Jack Wosick is given the opportunity for redemption when asked to lead a rag-tag unit of misfits known as the War Pigs on a secretmission to go behind enemy lines to uncover and capture a Nazi developed Super Weapon the V3, a massive artillery canon that would give the Nazis an insurmountable advantage against the Allies. With the help of Captain Hans Picault, a German Anti-Nazi serving with the French Foreign Legion and Colonel AJ Redding, a battle hardened WW1 veteran, Jack must train, lead and earn the respect of his new squad to become a functioning reconnaissance unit.War Pigs is a fun action adventure movie. It’s Pigs is a fun watch.  Dolph Ludgren and Luke Goss give amazing performances as French Foreign Legionnaire Peter Picault and Captain Jack Wosick. Worth a watch for fans of Dolph.

 

REVIEW: AMERICAN SNIPER

CAST

Bradley Cooper (Joy)
Sienna Miller (Foxcatcher)
Luke Grimes (All The Boys Love Mandy Lane)
Jake McDorman (Limitless TV)
Cory Hardrict (Crazy/Beautiful)
Navid Negahban (Charlie Wilson’s War)
Keir O’Donnell (Wedding Crashers)
Kyle Gallner (Veronica Mars)
Sam Jaeger (Hart’s War)
Sammy Sheik (Nikita)
Mido Hamada (Homeland)
Eric Close (Dark Skies)
Brian Hallisay (The Client List)
Leonard Roberts (Buffy)
Marnette Patterson (Starship Troopers 3)
Max Charles (The Neighbors)

Growing up in Texas, Chris Kyle is taught by his father how to shoot a rifle and hunt deer. Years later, Kyle has become a ranch hand and rodeo cowboy, and returns home early, to find his girlfriend in bed with another man. After telling her to leave, he is mulling it over with his brother when he sees news coverage of the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings and decides to enlist in the Navy. He qualifies for special training and becomes a U.S. Navy SEALs sniper.Kyle meets Taya Studebaker at a bar, and the two soon marry. He is sent to Iraq after the September 11 attacks. His first kills are a woman and boy who attacked U.S. Marines with a Russian made RKG-3 anti-tank grenade. Kyle is visibly upset by the experience but later earns the nickname “Legend” for his many kills. Assigned to hunt for the al-Qaeda leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Kyle interrogates a family whose father offers to lead the SEALs to “The Butcher”, al-Zarqawi’s second-in-command. The plan goes awry when The Butcher captures the father and his son, killing them while Kyle is pinned down by a sniper using a Romanian PSL sniper rifle. This sniper goes by the name Mustafa and is an Olympic Games medalist from Syria. Meanwhile, the insurgents issue a bounty on Kyle.Kyle returns home to his wife and the birth of his son. He is distracted by memories of his war experiences and by Taya’s concern for them as a couple – she wishes he would focus on his home and family.Kyle leaves for a second tour and is promoted to Chief Petty Officer. Involved in a shootout with The Butcher, he helps in killing him. When he returns home to a newborn daughter, Kyle becomes increasingly distant from his family. On Kyle’s third tour, Mustafa seriously injures a unit member, Ryan “Biggles” Job, and the unit is evacuated back to base. When they decide to return to the field and continue the mission, another SEAL, Marc Lee, is killed by gunfire.Guilt compels Kyle to undertake a fourth tour, and Taya tells him that she may not be there when he returns. Back in Iraq, Kyle is assigned to kill Mustafa, who has been sniping U.S. Army combat engineers building a barricade. Kyle’s sniper team is placed on a rooftop inside enemy territory. Kyle spots Mustafa and takes him out with a risky long distance shot at 2,100 yards (1,920 m), but this exposes his team’s position to numerous armed insurgents. In the midst of the firefight, and low on ammunition, Kyle tearfully calls Taya and tells her he is ready to come home. A sandstorm provides cover for a chaotic escape in which Kyle is injured and almost left behind.After Kyle gets back, on edge and unable to adjust fully to civilian life, he is asked by a Veterans Affairs psychiatrist if he is haunted by all the things he did in war. When he replies that it is “all the guys he couldn’t save” that haunt him, the psychiatrist encourages him to help severely wounded veterans in the VA hospital. After that Kyle gradually begins to adjust to home life. Years later, on February 2, 2013, Kyle says goodbye to his wife and family as he leaves in good spirits to spend time with a veteran at a shooting range. An on-screen subtitle reveals: “Chris Kyle was killed that day by a veteran he was trying to help”, followed by archive footage of crowds standing along the highway for his funeral procession. More are shown attending his memorial service.This film, contrary to some reviews, does not glorify war nor killing. It doesn’t hide the horrors of war, and certainly doesn’t romanticize it, nor the toll it takes on the man and his life, his relationship with the civil world. It is brutal and ugly, because that’s what war is. Something one forgets about, the reality of it, the real men who fight for everyone’s safety and liberty. Bradley Cooper is remarkable in his portray of Chris Kyle, especially the way he holds his jaws, mouth and lips.

REVIEW: AGE OF HEROES

CAST

Sean Bean (Game of Thrones)
Danny Dyer (Severance)
Aksel hennie (The Martian)
Izabella Miko (Clash of The Titans)
James D’Arcy (Agent Carter)
William Houston (Dracula Untold)

The film follows the exploits of Corporal Bob Rains (Danny Dyer) as he is inducted into the newly formed 30 Commando unit in the Second World War, after being freed from a war prison for cowardice and striking an officer during operations in France. Rains and the rest of the platoon are put through intensive training under the watchful eye of Major Jack Jones (Sean Bean), where their skills and endurance are pushed to the limit as they prepare for their first highly classified and dangerous mission: to parachute into occupied Norway and capture new radar technology from the Germans which could change the outcome of the war.The newly formed band of brothers are joined in their task by Norwegian immigrant Steinar Mortensen (Aksel Hennie), now a US Marine Lieutenant with vital knowledge of the terrain, and beautiful spy Jensen (Izabella Miko). All their lethal commando skills are put to the test as they attempt to escape fierce gun battles and attain the German radar technology. The mission objective bears much resemblance to Operation Biting. Their plan is thrown into crisis when their extraction is delayed and they must fight their way to the border of Sweden. With the Nazis desperate to hunt them down and stop them, the commandos realise how important their mission is to the war effort.After a long trek in the snow, the commandos try to resupply by returning to a previously visited farm. Its inhabitants had been shot by German units after they refused to collaborate with them. To make things worse, the Germans catch up with them at the farm, bringing the one commando captured alive during the earlier fire fight. The Germans urge the commandos’ surrender in exchange for the life of their captured comrade. The commandos refuse, and instead open fire on the Germans. Jensen and radar specialist Roger Rollright are ordered to make a run for the Swedish border, while the rest of the commandos provide cover for them.Major Jones realizes that there are too many German soldiers pouring into the fire fight. He orders Rains and Steinar to run for the border, while two others stay to cover them. Those who remain at the farm are last seen firing on and suppressing the Germans. The Germans catch up to Rains and Steinar retreating; Steinar is shot and killed. Out of ammunition, and with several enemy soldiers advancing on him, Rains prepares to cut his own throat. But before doing so, Jensen and Rollright kill the two Germans, thus enabling them to escape overland to Sweden. The last scene shows the two surviving team members and Jensen standing on a hill looking down into a snow-covered valley that leads to Sweden.Unfortunately as it nears towards the end, the story seems to have been “chopped off” with a somewhat quick ending to a nicely built up story. I believe this could have been better done with a proper ending to the story.