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Set Your Expectations Appropriately
Keeping in time with their streak of completely unnecessary remakes that offer nothing new other than admittedly spectacular special effects to the legacies of their predecessors, Disney has now set their sites on Aladdin. It is essentially the original, but with Will Smith, and slightly subpar acting. So keep that in mind the whole time.
There was, honestly, no need for this. The film adds nothing new to the Aladdin legacy, and doesn't really bring anything new to the table, which is kind of what I expected. On its own as a film, it works, and it does respect the original and stays true to the source material. But that's the problem. It's almost a shot for shot remake, but in live action. So there's really no point to it, other than the millions of dollars to be made from it.
Guy Ritchie is directing here, which is interesting, considering his particular style and what he's known for. Mainly known for his quirky crime/comedy/action gangster movies (Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels (1998), Snatch (2000), Revolver (2005), RocknRolla (2008)), and his other quirky action movies (Sherlock Holmes films, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (2015)), this did not really seem like something that could work. Almost like Quentin Tarantino directing a Marvel movie. But I have to say, he in no way let his track record pull strings here, and he went completely against type and tried something different, and it turned out pretty well.
The screenplay was concocted by Ritchie, and John August (Charlie's Angels films, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), and the two really did a nice job. The story is fairly engaging, and they have the advantage of acclaimed material to work with, and when you follow that as closely as they did here, it's hard not to have a good story.
The story moved along pretty well, and there was a surprising amount of character development, though obviously not as much as the original. I didn't feel quite connected with the characters near the end, but I guess I was entertained.
The acting was alright, and for being a family-oriented, over-the-top musical, it's what you'd expect. Ok sometimes, cringeworthy at others, it managed to be mostly consistent. The high point of the film for me, besides the special effects, was without a doubt Will Smith and his performance. He threw himself into his role and made the Genie character his own, and honestly kind of saved the movie for me.
The special effects were awesome, probably even up there with the Marvel movies. The music numbers were ok I guess, but Will Smith's were the best.
All in all, it's exactly what you'd expect; a live action remake of the original Aladdin, without much to set it apart from the original. It's not bad, but it doesn't really do enough to justify its existence. If you want a safe movie for the family, then by all means, watch and enjoy this. Otherwise, just set your expectations appropriately and know what you're getting into.
Wild Wild West (1999)
Believe the Negativity. There's a Reason No One Likes it.
Wild Wild West is a strange movie. The concept, the execution, everything about it is just so out there and not quite right. And people don't like it. It's considered to be almost universally bad, and many people would probably put it up there with Batman & Robin as one of the worst movies ever. I don't know if I'd go that far, but it's definitely bad (below average, hence my 4 * rating). Here's why.
It's just bad. That's the reason. It doesn't work, at any point at any point during the runtime, and it never seems to find its way. I mean, the initial idea sounds so crazy that it's immediately compelling. Come on, a "western sci-fi buddy action comedy"? How could that even work? Well obviously it can't. It's just an attempt to take everything smart and cool about Men in Black and exchange that for bad, lazy writing, and more special effects. The movie just coasts along on autopilot, indulging itself, and the plot moves weirdly, and things will just suddenly happen onscreen.
The acting doesn't help either. Will Smith is the only person who doesn't make you cringe when he delivers his lines, but not even him or his charisma are enough to save the movie. Kevin Kline's lines are just hard to listen to, and he himself is often hard to watch, and the same can be said for Kenneth Branagh. Everything about the film is over the top. The acting, the special effects, the action sequences, and the comedy. The whole thing is just cartoonish and overdone, and it just seemed like it struggled to both pick a demographic and recapture what made Men in Black special, and it failed at both. Many of the jokes fall flat, either being too obvious or slapstick to be in an adult-aimed film, and others too inappropriate and seedy to be in a kids-aimed film. At the same time, it also tries to rehash what made Men in Black special (the buddy formula with crazy science fiction and action elements thrown in), and it's just not the same.
Director Barry Sonnenfeld worked with what he had, and I guess this was the best that could have come from what he had to work with. He's mostly famous for doing the Men in Black movies, and his obvious style is apparent here. But the Men in Black films used their setting and crazy effects and let the actors work and be themselves within all that. Here, the actors are smothered in the CGI and story. Will Smith is barely even able to shine, although he manages to a few times. Sonnenfeld's big problem is that he didn't try to make this its own movie. It's supposed to be Wild Wild West, not Men in Black in Wild Wild West. He didn't make it its own thing. Another problem is that he was working with the legacy of an entire TV show. Unless someone had told me this was based on the original Wild Wild West show, I'd probably not've been able to tell, aside from the "gadgets in the old west" theme, and the title. Much like the I Spy movie with Owen Wilson and Eddie Murphy (also based on a show), this film pretty much disregards its predecessor and tries to work on its own. And unlike I Spy, this did not work.
Aside from Sonnenfeld, we have four (yes, four) writers to thank for this mess. Because apparently something this nonsensical and bad was just too much for just one person to screw up. S.S. Wilson (Tremors), Brent Maddock (Tremors), and screenwriting duo Jeffery Price and Peter S. Seaman (Doc Hollywood, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?) all wrote the screenplay, and the story was crafted by Jim and John Thomas (Predator, Executive Decision). Jim and John have proven themselves before as writers with the aforementioned examples, however, the screenplay writers, who all essentially worked on all the same films, came up very short here. The plot was thin, bland, and uninteresting, the characters were one-dimensional, but at least Will Smith was able to make us care about his character by giving it his best shot and just being himself. Bland characters in a bland story make for a bland experience. And this wasn't helped by a barrage of cringeworthy and/or unnecessarily inappropriate jokes (for such a child-oriented film). All the humor was too obvious and over the top. The script never allowed the leads to just banter and argue, and the development of their relationship was forced the whole time, and there was nothing natural about it, unlike other, more competent entries in the buddy genre.
It never seemed, at least to me, like there was a time in the story where things clicked and there was at least some believability. And usually, with genre movies, or especially large hybrid genre films like this one, should fall into two categories.
A. The story is told and executed so well that no matter how far fetched or unbelievable things are, it works because it's just so interesting and cool.
B. It knows it doesn't work and just rolls with it, but still manages to make the believable points believable, without dragging everything down into the unbelievability (if that makes sense).
The film misfired on both fronts. It failed to properly acknowledge just how preposterous it is, and it tried too hard to make fun of itself at other times. And at the most outrageous moments, it barely stopped to poke fun or be meta, but instead tried to become realistic all of a sudden. I mean, seriously, when your big finale is a giant robot spider shooting fireballs at an old west town, you better be ready to make fun of yourself. But the film wasn't. Instead, it either tried too hard or too little to make fun of the semi-believable parts leading up to the finale, then treated the finale as if it were completely realistic. And even if something is far-fetched, it's always nice for there to be at least some reality. But not here. Here, the characters act irrationally and say weird things, have a small variety of emotions, and fit right in with the completely insane narrative. In no way is the film grounded in reality, and in no way does it even acknowledge it.
This is an action comedy, and I guess on the action end, it did ok. There were some pretty entertaining fight scenes, and usually if the action is good, I'm ok, because it's a genre movie. But this is different. It's a hybrid of 5 different genres, and I was promised more than just some good action. But anyway, there were some cool moments, like the water tower fight, the saloon brawl, the office shooting scene where Will effortlessly kills several assassins, the train fight, and the final fight aboard the giant spider. Don't expect brutal or hard-hitting action though, the violence just plays out like every other aspect of the movie. However, there some surprisingly violent and out of place moments that greatly departed from the tone of the film, and made it even harder to understand it. For example, the massacre of the group of soldiers by the main villain, and the off-screen decapitation of a man in the beginning. Moments like that just confused me, and again I wondered, who was the target audience?
Now, *sigh*...the comedy. It's bad. I don't even need both hands to count the times I chuckled. And the most painful moments went on forever. Mainly two instances where a main character was disguised as a woman. Yes, believe it or not, BOTH main characters are forced into cross dressing scenarios on two separate occasions. And both are immensely painful and hard to watch. Aside from that, there were lots of slapstick and stale moments where the script tried way too hard to be funny, and the actors tried even harder, and the result was one large face-palm. Maybe little kids will think it's funny. Or really desperate adults. Either way, I definitely recommend staying away from this if you want to laugh.
As for the other genre elements, desperate genres like the western and sic-fi ones can be mixed well, but this one just didn't do it quite right. Everything seemed off, and the script almost didn't let the genres go together. It was just so obvious that it was a movie the whole time, and I was never so engrossed that I wasn't aware I could leave, or that life was going on around me. And other movies have sucked me in like that before. But not here.
Honestly, the best thing about this movie was the theme song Will Smith made ("Wild Wild West"). The song honestly deserved better than to be attached to this movie.
All in all, stay away from this one. Unless you're a Will Smith fan, but even then, I recommend caution. There are some things not even the best actors can save.
The Foreigner (2017)
Jackie Chan's "Taken"
The Foreigner was without a doubt one of the coolest and most surprising films of 2017, as well as one of the most entertaining action thriller films I've seen. The film is a lot of fun, but even if it's not touching any new action movie territory, this film is highlighted for being Jackie Chan's first actual foray into doing a straight action film. There's no comedy, the acrobatics and use of environment as a weapon are definitely toned down, and the fight scenes have a brutal and realistic feel to them, and the action sequences in this film wouldn't look out of place in a Liam Neeson or Denzel Washington film. This is a completely different and new Jackie Chan.
The story follows Ngoc Minh Quan (Jackie Chan), a businessman and restaurant owner with a (no surprise here) mysterious past, who leaps into action when his daughter is killed in a ruthless terrorist bombing, dishing out all manner of brutal vigilante justice. His quest for vengeance brings him into conflict with Liam Hennessy (Pierce Brosnan), the Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland, who Quan believes is protecting the people responsible for his daughter's death.
As I said earlier, the story, though complicated at times, is quite interesting, though some may find it a little dull, which is fair, honestly, although the heavy political aspects of the plot never take away from the true intent of the story, which is Quan's revenge on the villains. That is one thing that I will say for the story, even if it is the same old revenge story once its layers are peeled back, is that this film takes a lot of time, some might even say too much, to develop its characters. For an action film, this movie really takes its time, which was quite refreshing, and though it does take a while for it to really get into gear, once it does, it delivers. The story doesn't make exceptions for the action. Both are here equally, and while some may not get as much as they're expecting, there's still a lot. But the story doesn't dumb itself down to let the action do the talking. Backstory is there, you have to pay attention, and even the supporting cast is on screen a lot to keep the story going. The story is based on the 1992 novel "The Chinaman", and the film appears to stay very faithful to its source material. David Marconi (Live Free or Die Hard (2010) writer) has crafted an excellent, intelligent screenplay here, and it flows very well, racing along at a breakneck pace, while still managing to stop and develop its characters. And come on, what's better than an engaging, quickly-moving story centered around characters you're invested in?
Supporting players are onscreen often, and Jackie Chan isn't actually on screen the entire time (though he is quite often). That's not to say Chan's barely in the film, as he and Brosnan are the two main players, and they dominate the screen when they're on it, and had me eagerly anticipating their next scenes when they weren't. Both delivered smashing performances, and though this is the first film I've seen with Brosnan, I've been interested in him, and I will definitely check out his other stuff. As for Jackie Chan, he owns this movie. I've been a longtime fan of him, and is was incredibly entertaining to see him do such a dramatic, gritty role. I suppose his role in Bleeding Steel was close to this, but it wasn't done with the same amount of energy, and his character here is so much more interesting and developed by the 20 minute mark in this film then his character in Bleeding Steel in the first half hour. This role was definitely against type, and it worked so well. Jackie Chan hasn't done a lot of sequels (Police Story films, Rush Hour films, and The Drunken Master films), but his character here practically demands one.
The action in this film is brutal and hard-hitting, and it chose to go the route of having a few lengthy action sequences instead of action all throughout, which works quite well. The action scenes, when they come, are brutal and relentless, particularly the final fight in the apartment. The action and plot here are definitely reminiscent of other revenge/vigilante action thrillers, specifically, Man on Fire (2004), Taken (2008), and The Equalizer (2014), which were all very good films. It's almost as if Jackie Chan watched Taken and decided to give it a shot himself, and the result here is not a cheap knockoff, but rather a hugely entertaining homage. Some memorable action scenes include the apartment fight scene, the forest fight scene, and the final fight scene. And while that may not sound like much, the aforementioned scenes really deliver, and are worth the journey there. I also mentioned before that the action here is not that of a usual Chan flick, and it isn't. You feel every hit, there are no exaggerated strikes or impact sounds, no jumping or flipping around, and no slapstick moments really of any kind here. Again, it's basically the Taken action sequences, but with Jackie Chan there instead.
Director Martin Campbell, known for the great Mask of Zorro (1998), GoldenEye (1995), and the phenomenal Casino Royale (2006), once again proves his proficiency in directing action and drama scenarios, and this is one of his better, more memorable films for sure, as he deftly brings to life Marconi's masterful script, utilizing both Chan's and Brosnan's acting abilities to their fullest.
If you're a fan of either Jackie Chan or Pierce Brosnan, or just want to watch a gratifying, highly entertaining action thriller, I can't recommend this film enough. Especially if you're in the first category and are a fan of one or both of the main actors, as it's so interesting to see different roles for each. 10/10, go watch this movie now.
The Hitman's Bodyguard (2017)
An Insane Action-Comedy-Buddy Film
At first glance, The Hitman's Bodyguard may look very pedestrian, even stupid and unnecessary. I mean, a hitman needs a bodyguard? It just looks like another mindless action movie, without heart. But it's anything but. This movie is an example of a so-so concept being elevated by the actors and director. And I thought it was elevated greatly.
2017 was a big year for action movies. We got Baywatch (which I didn't see and probably won't), John Wick: Chapter 2 (didn't see it), Kingsman: The Golden Circle (didn't see it), two efforts from Jackie Chan (Bleeding Steel, which was awful, and The Foreigner, which was awesome), and The Hitman's Bodyguard. All of these movies, from what I've seen have some big action, but for me, I'd have to put The Hitman's Bodyguard at the front of all the aforementioned films, except for The Foreigner, and John Wick 2 only 'cause The Foreigner was amazing, and I've seen some scenes from JWC2 and it looks crazy. But The Hitman's Bodyguard is just different. It's special. And it is a lot of fun.
If you don't know the plot, it's about world-class hitman, Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson), having to testify against a ruthless dictator (Gary Oldman), and top bodyguard Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds), must deliver him to the court on time. The two begrudgingly work together to fight through hordes (and I mean hordes) of bad guys in order to reach their destination.
Both Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson are eternally watchable, and both really sell their performances, and look like they have a lot of fun doing it. Both are very likable, and Jackson has immense charisma, even when he's just f-boming, and though Reynolds is extremely likable, he plays the straight man to Jackson's antics, which ends up being equally funny as the quips he became known for after 2016's immensely successful Deadpool (which I also didn't see, though I saw a few scenes, enough to figure out the tone of the film). They both make the film, and Gary Oldman also does a good job as the villain, dusting off his bad guy performances from The Book of Eli (2010) and Air Force One (1997).
Tom O'Connor did an excellent job with the script, and the film ends up perfectly balancing action and comedy, and it doesn't take itself seriously at all. O'Connor hasn't written much else, and actually his only previous work was Fire With Fire (2012), which I did not see, since it doesn't look anything like this movie. Fire With Fire looked like just another in the long line of mediocre disposable action flicks Bruce Willis put out in the 2010s which didn't really utilize his talents at all. However here, O'Connor shines, crafting an excellent, if cliched and familiar, story. And his script is really brought to life by director Patrick Hughes, who masterfully crafts explosive action sequences. Hughes is no stranger to action films, having demonstrated his proficiency in action direction in The Expendables 3, another enjoyable, mindless action film. Both O'Connor and Hughes wowed me, and I'll definitely be looking for their names in the future on other films.
The film's story is very reminiscent of 16 Blocks (2006), a pretty entertaining and underrated action thriller starring Bruce Willis as a cop and Mos Def as a convict, back when Willis was still trying. The plot of that film was much the same, two men forced to work together to get to a courtroom, having to battle their way there. This film is much like that film, except it takes itself far less seriously, and ratchets up the action to 11.
And I'm not kidding. This film is one of the most action-packed, and often over-the-top (and I mean that in a good way) action movies I've ever seen (and I've seen a LOT of action movies). The movie does take a little time to get started, as it actually develops its characters, but once it gets going, it never lets up until the credits roll, pausing only occasionally and briefly for some extra character development, which was refreshing for a movie like this. But the pauses are brief, and this movie is pretty much one non-stop action sequence. The electrifying scenes include the transport ambush, the apartment fight scene, the Amsterdam Canal chase, the construction site car chase, the infamous kitchen/hardware store fight scene, and the large-scale final battle that's nicely topped off with an incredibly over-the-top helicopter crash and explosion, to name a few. There's also a brutal torture sequence in which a man has his face covered with a cloth and water's poured on him, and he's then electrocuted by having jumper cables attached to his ears over the cloth. The scene was surprisingly intense, and though there were some great one-liners during it, it was almost a departure from the tone of the film, as was the case with some other scenes. However, I liked the shift, as it reminded us that it wasn't the movie's world that was funny, it were the characters in the world, and the world is actually brutal and unforgiving at times, which we're reminded of throughout. Not that the film's message is nihilistic, it's just realistic, which is a word I didn't expect to use when describing this film. But I digress, the torture sequence is quite innovative and memorable, and I'd put it up there with the infamous torture scene from Casino Royale (2006).
While this film is a crazy, pedal-to-the-medal action film, it has some great laughs, and as I mentioned before, it rarely takes itself seriously. It knows exactly what it is and what it wants to do, and it achieves its goal. Jackson and Reynolds' comedic chemistry is excellent, and I was almost disappointed whenever the scene changed to one they weren't present in. The humor is definitely smartly written, as its more quick witty remarks and quips rather than slapstick, although there are one or two physical comedy moments which were pretty funny, especially since they abruptly occurred, and surprised me. All this to say, the film perfectly manages to balance its action and comedy portions, giving us heaping piles of both.
I highly recommend this film to action-lovers everywhere, and fans of the two leads. You will not be disappointed. Just turn your brain off for an hour or two and enjoy the ride. I will note the heavy amount of violence and language, so be warned. Aside from that, do yourself a favor and watch what is undoubtedly one of the best and most fun films of 2017.
The Fugitive (1993)
Arguably Harrison Ford's Best Film
The Fugitive is a first-rate action thriller film with an all-star cast and a masterful screenplay. This 1993 film, based on the original 60s TV show of the same name, surpasses its predecessor, at least for me. It also may be Harrison Ford's best movie, competing with Witness (1985), Air Force One (1997), the Indiana Jones films, Patriot Games (1992), and Clear and Present Danger (1994), but if it's not, it's definitely one of his best. It is a wonderful movie, and well worth your valuable time.
So many thrillers often aren't thrilling, and substitute gratuitous profanity, violence, and sex/nudity for a plot of real substance, but this film is different. It's highly suspenseful, with a very thoughtful, intelligent story with few holes, at least for me, and it managed to be that without any really bad language or sex. David Twohy and Jeb Stuart have constructed a really excellent, fast-paced and coherent script that really manages to keep you on the edge of your seat while also developing characters we as an audience can identify with, invest in, and care about. Jeb Stuart has a really impressive resume, having helped write the spectacular Die Hard (1988), Lock Up (1989), and one of my personal favorites, Another 48 HRS (1990). Point is, the story was really well constructed and executed, and as I say often, I never once found myself bored with what was going on.
Andrew Davis also did a tremendous job as director, and he really, really nailed it here. Every scene is shot and executed so well, and he caused the script to flow very quickly and naturally. Davis, known for such films as Code of Silence (1985), Above the Law (1988), Under Siege (1992) and another film I really enjoyed, Collateral Damage (2002), really has a knack for directing action/thriller films, and he really shines here in brutal but realistic action sequences, and intense chase scenes.
The cast were all brilliant, with Harrison Ford delivering his usual smashing performance. Ford always manages to sell his roles, regardless of the movie, and he has such a presence and charisma, and he's very likable and believable. Tommy Lee Jones really did an excellent job here, and if Ford wasn't the highlight of this film, then it's definitely Jones. Both are so good that you find yourself wanting to root for both, and neither, at the same time. Excellent performances from the whole cast.
There was some great action in this movie, with the suspenseful house fight scene flashbacks, the bus/train crash scene, the sewer chase, the house shootout, the train fight scene, and the final fight. All of these scenes were skillfully directed and handled, and pretty realistic, aside from maybe the sewer scene, which I'm not sure could really happen, but it was still awesome.
All in all, it's a really great movie, and you really should watch it, especially if you're a Harrison Ford or Tommy Lee Jones fan.
Game Night (2018)
Amid all the remakes and super hero movies, an underrated gem comes to us in the form of Game Night. Game Night really is an excellent movie. It was solid entertainment, with hilarious comedy, hard-hitting, but never overdone action, some romance, some mystery, and all this is only made better by the actors' performances, and an excellent chemistry between the very watchable Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams.
The plot follows Bateman and McAdams as game-obsessed couple, Max and Annie. They're obsession with games is prevalent, but there's more to their relationship then games, and they really love each other. Max and Annie host a game night often, and several of their friends usually come over to participate, aside from their recently divorced neighbor, Gary, a depressed, lonely cop. When Max's cooler, vastly more successful brother Brooks shows up for the latest game night, he invites them over to his house for the next game night. The group goes there on the night of the next game night, and Brooks promising a fun night of mystery and role-play, but the group soon gets tangled in a real mystery.
The only other film I've seen Bateman in was his side role as the high school bully in Central Intelligence (2016), and though he played a jerk in that movie, he was still funny, but he really shines in this film, at least to me. He's just naturally funny and likable, and he really made this movie, aside from McAdams. McAdams is also really funny and likable in this, and she and Bateman make a truly excellent comedy duo.
Mark Perez has written a really great script with this, and not once did I ever find myself bored with what was happening. It doesn't appear that he's written anything else, but if he did, I'd be interested. This was also a valiant, solid directorial effort by John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein. They haven't really directed anything big before this, but I hope they do, as they really demonstrated a mastery, or at least adeptness for scenery, cinematography, and making a film like this work.
I honestly really liked the story, as it seemed pretty original, at least when you look at most of the other stuff coming out now. The plot kept me on the edge of my seat, and kept me interested. I honestly felt invested in the characters, at least, Bateman and McAdams' characters, which doesn't happen often for me with one-off movies like this. The plot was interesting, fast-paced, and intelligent, and it was bolstered by excellent cast performances all around.
There's also some nice character development, which was especially surprising for a 2018 action comedy, as most movies like this nowadays are usually very violent, profane, vulgar, and stupid. While this movie was profane, and at times violent and vulgar, it never took itself seriously, and always knew when enough was enough. The characters are handled well, and the reconciliation between Max and his brother was nice, though the high point was his relationship with Annie. Though they obviously love games, it doesn't dominate their relationship, and they still manage to have real feelings and conversations, and are still able to handle the important things (I won't spoil what).
The comedy is hilarious, with some real gut-busting scenes, and there's also a surprising amount of fast-paced action, such as the house fight scene, the car chase, the mansion fight/chase scene, the bridge shootout, and the final shootout/fight scene on the plane.
Overall, this is a really excellent, pleasantly surprising, hilarious, action-packed comedy that I really enjoyed. Aside from a lot of unnecessary language, and some inappropriate conversations, there's not too much to worry about in the offensive material department, and I'd definitely recommend it.
Air Force One (1997)
This Movie is Awesome
This movie is awesome. Sure, it's a little flawed, and you obviously need to suspend some belief in order to enjoy it, but don't you have to do that with most action movies? I mean, it's 'Die Hard on a plane', you're gonna have to suspend some belief.
The plot centers around US president John Marshall, who has just announced that America will not negotiate with terrorists after a successful kidnapping of a foreign dictator. However, terrorists from the dictator's country seize control of Air Force One during a flight, and Marshall, who is on trapped board, is forced to fight to save his family and the rest of the hostages on board.
Andrew W. Marlowe has written an excellent script, which is greatly complimented by a spellbinding performance by Harrison Ford, and an excellent villain performance from Gary Oldman. Ford usually delivers excellent performances on screen, and really makes us care about his characters and what happens to them, and this is no exception. Ford really draws us in and sells his role as the president. Oldman's performance as the terrorist leader is excellent too, and he is a pretty menacing villain.
Wolfgang Petersen helms the project, directing with style and flare, and he really makes the film work, giving an at times tight, almost claustrophobic feel, which I really liked. He competently handles the action sequences, and I'm surprised he hasn't made more action films, his only other real foray into the genre being In the Line of Fire (1993), another political action thriller starring Clint Eastwood. But nevertheless, wether or not his resume has few action films, he does his best here.
Now obviously, like others have noted, there are flaws, as with a lot of films. Little things, like;
1. How did the terrorists take over the plane? Is that even possible?
2. Even with military training, could the president really defeat an armed group of terrorists?
3. What's with all the weapons on the plane?
4. How could the terrorists so easily overtake all of the secret service guys on board? Etc.
There are things like this that one does have to suspend belief for, and I did, but these things didn't bother me because the movie was so well-written and acted, and I was engaged in the plot and the characters. The good honestly outweighs the bad, and the performances really bring the script to life, particularly (as mentioned earlier) Ford and Oldman.
There's some good action, with some well-made, realistic-looking fist fights, some great gun-battles, and an excellent climax and plane crash (even if the special effects are really dated by today's standards). The fights in particular are really great and brutal, and the action is violent and hard-hitting, and there was a surprising amount for a political action thriller.
I highly recommend this film, since it's such a good action-thriller, and surprisingly safe for an R rated film (no sex or nudity, and only one f-bomb). I would honestly put it my top 5 (or even 3) Harrison Ford films, and highly recommend it to fans of Ford, Oldman, or the action genre, or just if you want to be entertained.
The Negotiator (1998)
I really didn't know what my expectations were going into this, since I'd never seen Kevin Spacey in a movie before, and I didn't really know the plot of this film. But I do really like action and thriller movies, and Samuel L. Jackson, so I figured I'd probably like it. And I did. A lot.
The plot follows top police negotiator Danny Roman (Jackson) as he realizes that he's been framed by one or more people inside the police department, so he takes the people he believes to be responsible hostage, as well as some innocent bystanders who were in the wrong place at the wrong time, and barricades himself and them in an office room. The police are notified, and Roman demands that a negotiator from another force, Chris Sabian, be brought in as an unbiased third party, and an intense negotiation and search for the truth ensues.
Samuel L. Jackson is eternally watchable, and he really throws himself into his roles. He's very convincing and likable, and he has so much charisma that I found myself looking forward to the next scene he'd be in during the movie. Kevin Spacey did a really nice job too, as a more level-headed, normal person, and he played his part very realistically, and I'd've probably acted exactly like he did if I was in that situation.
James DeMonaco and Kevin Fox wrote a really excellent script, and I was disappointed to see that Kevin Fox hasn't written anything else. Looking over his filmography, though I loved this movie, I think the Assault on Precinct 13 remake (2005) that he wrote is the only other movie that he's written that I'd be interested in seeing. But even though he hasn't really written anything else of interest to me, I have to give him props for such a thrilling and engaging story here. I was actually interested in the characters and cared what happened to them, I was really interested in seeing what would happen next every scene, and I never once found myself bored with what was going on. All hallmarks of a really great screenplay.
The plot was really interesting, and it raced along at a fast and excellent pace. This is also an instance where the action really helped move the story along, as it's usually contrived and at times unnecessary in lots of movies. But not this one. I also liked how the story took place all at one time, like Die Hard (1988) or Die Hard 2 (1990), and didn't really span a long period of time. It helped to draw me in and keep me interested.
The action in the movie is slickly directed, top-notch stuff, and while there may not be as much as some might hope, there's still a good amount, and it's more realistic than cinematic. The office raid and shootout, final standoff, and initial hostage takeover scene were all great.
Besides some graphic language (it's pretty bad), I loved this movie, and I highly recommend it to anyone who likes a great action/thriller movie, and especially to fans of the two main actors, as they really make this movie work. 10/10.
One of My Favorites, if Not My Favorite Movie
I can't put into words how much I love this film. My parents had first recommended it to me, and after seeing it, I just really, really loved it, and it changed my opinion of the romantic-comedy ('rom com') genre.
If you don't know the plot, it's about a super smooth date coach, Hitch, who gives under-confident men tips and skills to be able to engage and get together with the women of their dreams. The movie follows Hitch as he works with his new, incredibly shy client, and as he tries to woo a cynical journalist.
Kevin Bisch did a fantastic job with the screenplay, and I think it's the only movie he's done, but I wish he would've done more. It's such a fun, interesting script. Will Smith is such a good actor and a likable guy, and he really sells it and carries it, along with Kevin James. They're both really funny, and they carried this movie. I liked Eva Mendez too, and the development of her relationship with Will Smith's character really seemed genuine and unique. There wasn't a lot of cheesy, "speech from the ground to the bedroom window at night" or "slow dance at a party" stuff or anything like that. The character of Hitch knows exactly what to do, and he pulls most of it off, and it's just really fun to watch. The film achieves its goal of being a fun, memorable comedy, but also encourages insight and observation of people, and takes a moment to stop and appreciate love and relationships, as well as the people who have issues achieving that love and those relationships. It's something anyone can relate to, and it's probably the ultimate "feel good" movie.
One big thing that I like in my cinema is character development, and this movie delivers in spades. You see a lot of people, and they don't have the courage or nerve to take initiative with someone they like, which is realistic, as I actually know people like this. Hitch is smooth, but he's also human, and he makes mistakes too, and you see this. You see him trying his best, and he doesn't always get it right. Just about all of the characters start out as one character type at the beginning, and they end up changed and bettered as people by the end. Amber Valletta's character, Allegra is a rich, kind of selfish person who has everything handed to her, and who mostly hangs out with posers, 'fake' people who aren't normal, who are self-absorbed, and who don't enjoy other peoples' company, and being genuine. By the end, after entering a new and foreign relationship with Kevin James' character, Albert, she changes, and by the end, she's still rich, yes, but she's different. She's able to accept Albert because he's real, and he doesn't try to be someone he's not, and he genuinely loves her and doesn't try to put on a mask and be someone he's not, and she becomes a better person, leaving her old, obnoxious and judgmental friends behind. Kevin James' character, Albert, changes and learns to be himself and be confident, and gains the courage to engage Allegra and not worry too much about the consequences, and to take risks for something important. Eva Mendez's character, Sara, who starts out cynical and unhopeful, figuring she'll never meet a genuinely nice guy, is tired of all the faking and smooth talking most guys do, and how little they actually care or are capable of caring. She meets Hitch, and is immediately taken by his style, charisma, likable personality, and his ability to be real and not be fake when it comes to women. She gives him the benefit of the doubt, and eventually grows to like him, and eventually becomes more hopeful, optimistic, and fun by the end. And Will Smith's character, Hitch, starts out by operating and mildly true but overgeneralized and ultimately incorrect presuppositions about women, and eventually releases that they're not just a project, and after finally getting together with Sara, realizes that anything is possible and that it's not all about smooth talking, good lines, style, etc. and that those principles are wrong just as often as they're right, and by the end, he realizes that finding the right person is not a science like he originally believed.
Aside from the great story and characters, there are some great laughs in this movie, and the comedy is on point. Kevin James is hilarious, as is Will Smith, and there are some indescribably funny scenes that I can't do justice to here. Smith and James have some great chemistry, and play off of each other very well, and their scenes feel really natural. Neither of them try to take over the scene or be more than the script allows them. It's great.
This movie probably makes my top 5 of all time, but maybe I might be biased. Objectively, it's a funny, but deep and interesting commentary, and lots of fun. Just go watch it for yourself.
Ji qi zhi xue (2017)
Couldn't Finish It
Let me start by saying that I've been a longtime Jackie Chan fan, having seen many, dare I say most, of his films. When I saw that he was starting to depart from his usual style with more gritty films like Railroad Tigers (2016), The Foreigner (2017), and this film, I was quite interested. Railroad Tigers was ok, but Chan's three efforts of 2017 were really up in the air. The Foreigner was awesome, Kung Fu Yoga was really meh, being cartoony and boring at times and weirdly action-oriented at others, and that film was just too much like his "Indiana Jones-esque" films such as Chinese Zodiac (2012). And Bleeding Steel? Well, it's...not great. And I really did want to like the movie, and I tried, but there are just too many problems to ignore here.
The film opens with Jackie's character in a car, racing to the hospital, and if you really pay attention, you can glean the information that his daughter is sick and in the hospital. He goes there, and this sequence of scenes just flies by, taking no time to develop any characters whatsoever. The fact that Chan's character is a cop is almost a throwaway line, and then another cop character arrives and gives us a brief "for the benefit of the audience" backstory on the main villain, and then out of nowhere, Chan and a squad of cops are shooting it out with bad guys in a parking lot. The script in no way made me care about any of the characters, and it didn't at all take its time before jumping right into the action. All the scenes I just mentioned take place in roughly the first 5-10 minutes, to give you an idea of how little happens before we get to the first action sequence. I barely even knew the characters' names, and now I was suddenly watching them fight for their lives. Why should I care?
There is actually a scene in this movie where a man, a transvestite as he is referred to in one scene, DISGUISES HIMSELF AS A STRIPPER to sneak into some old pervert's house so he can drug the man and get information from his computer. This scene takes itself seriously, and is in all senses of the words, tasteless and stupid. I can't believe the script writers, Leo Zhang, Erica Xia-Hou, and Siwei Cui thought this was ok. One thing is for certain, I will definitely be avoiding any future films by them. The lazy script was bad enough, and then this scene just took me right out of the film. I don't mean to offend anyone, but come on.
As I said in the title, I couldn't finish this garbage, and my brother turned it off and retreated to episodes of Psych, a much more smartly written and produced piece of pop culture. At least in that you can tell what's going on.
A lazy, incoherent script lacking in substance, and not helped by poor acting, is drowned out in mindless, over-the-top science fiction violence. I wanted to like this movie, as I am a huge Jackie Chan fan. But this was just awful. There was a massive, special-effects heavy shootout in the beginning, in which Jackie wields a gun, which is new and pretty interesting compared to his usual style, but this just ends up being an unnecessarily violent, CGI-heavy shootout that doesn't showcase Jackie's skills at all, and which racks up an equally unnecessary body count by the end.
Jackie Chan's career peaked in the 90s, and by the 2000s, his career started to tank, and it has gone downhill ever since. The last movie from the 2010s that Jackie did that I liked was Skiptrace, because that was fun. This movie, is not fun. Jackie's character was barely developed in the first two minutes of the film when the shootout starts, and I found myself having no reason to root for him. I figure the rest of the movie will be like this.
If you want Jackie Chan, go watch the Rush Hour or Shanghai movies, Drunken Master II, Skiptrace, the first four Police Story movies, or Rumble in the Bronx. Those all have the fun, likable Jackie Chan without the bleak, gritty world, underdeveloped characters, and tasteless guy-disguising-as-female stripper scenes. I don't plan on finishing this movie, and I am not excited about Jackie's future movies if this is the kind of rubbish he's willing to attach his name to.
The Presidio (1988)
Don't Expect Lethal Weapon or 48 HRS
This is pretty much just another buddy cop movie in a long line, and it's definitely not as memorable as some of the other, better-remembered classics, like 48 HRS, Beverly Hills Cop, Lethal Weapon, or Red Heat. But maybe it wasn't trying to be like those movies. The aforementioned films were action comedies, focusing on the pairing of two different people, and while this film does pair two very different people, it's not a comedy, and it's not as fast-paced, either. It definitely focuses more on the characters themselves rather than their relationship, and a lot of the action is mostly just to move the plot along, and it seems thrown in just for good measure. Anyway, for what it's worth, it's a pretty good buddy cop movie, and action/drama/thriller.
In case you don't know the plot, two officers, Calden (Connery), a military policeman and Vietnam vet, and Austin (Harmon), a street-smart San Francisco cop, are both drawn into a multi-jurisdictional investigation into a murder at the Presidio military base.
Now, the Presidio doesn't actually have very much to do with the plot, but the characters do appear in it from time-to-time, and the climax does take place there, so I guess it counts, but the film probably could've benefited from a better title, but anyway, this is a tangent, and only a minor critique.
This is the second movie written by Larry Ferguson that I've seen, the first being the awesome Beverly Hills Cop II. Since this movie is more of a somber-toned drama, it's not as fun as 'Cop II', but it's still pretty interesting, even if it is thin and somewhat cliched. I still haven't seen The Hunt For Red October or Highlander, two other Connery movies written by Ferguson, but after this and 'Cop II', I'm definitely interested.
As for the directing, it's pretty great, and I was especially excited to watch this because A. It had Sean Connery, and B. Peter Hyams directed it. After seeing Hyams' previous, and arguably better foray into the buddy cop genre, Running Scared, I was really thrilled to watch this, and although I did like it, there wasn't as much of the 'buddy cop' vibe as I had hoped.
I mean, don't get me wrong, there is the usual uneasy relationship between the two, the constant disagreements and bickering, the lack of respect for the other's authority and experience, etc. but Connery and Harmon's characters are really more developed individually rather than their relationship, and there are actually only a handful of scenes in which the two's relationship is played with. Most of the development goes into Connery's character and how he deals with his daughter growing up and becoming romantically involved with Harmon's character. Harmon's character mostly stays the same up until the end, and the only other visible development is with the romance between Harmon and Meg Ryan, who plays Connery's daughter in this. I felt that their relationship seemed a little rushed, and that there weren't enough scenes to see the stages of their relationship. It seemed like one minute, they're just meeting, the next, they're having sex, and now they're ready to get married, with just the slightest bit of drama in when Ryan tries to scare Harmon's character off with another cadet on the base that likes her, and the situation blows up in her face. Having no other romantic development scenes between the implied sex scene, and the important "I really care about you" scene on the beach, made the relationship between the two feel really superficial, and way less engaging, and with the lack of action, this subplot definitely should've been given more screen time. The conversation between Ryan and Harmon in his apartment was pretty good, and it made sense that she would be this way since she's the daughter of a hardened war vet, but it felt like this was tacked on at the end, and this element to her character wasn't really present up until right then.
I still liked the characters, especially Connery's character (he's the highlight of the film) and they really helped the story. Although I liked Harmon's character, it kind of seemed like Ferguson wanted him to be one character-type at the beginning, the tough, hip cop with the varsity jacket, jeans, and sneakers (i.e. Martin Riggs from Lethal Weapon, Axel Foley from Beverly Hills Cop), when he talks down the criminal with the gun in the police station at the beginning, and another character type from the middle to the end, the washed-up, tough but tired cop (i.e. Jack Cates from 48 HRS, Roger Murtaugh from Lethal Weapon). It would've been nice if Ferguson had just picked one, and, though probably cliched, I was hoping for the former, since Connery already nicely portrays the tough but aging and wiser cop better, and Harmon looked more suited for the reckless, loose-cannon cop role.
All of the cast did well, and I liked Meg Ryan in this better than I did when she was in Sleepless in Seattle (an awful movie). This is the first movie I've seen with Harmon in it, and I thought he did a pretty good job, but as I said earlier, Sean Connery really was the highlight of this movie. His performance was really top-notch, and his just being in the movie made it better. I first saw him in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, like a lot of people, and I was excited to see him in another, more serious role. he really is an accomplished actor, and he really helped sell this film. This is an example of actors helping an otherwise ok script, and I will definitely be on the look-out for more Connery movies.
Keep in mind that this film, unlike most other buddy cop movies, is an action/drama film and also kind of a thriller. Aside from the bar scene, there's not much comedy, but the drama is pretty good, and I already went over that earlier. The action in this film, while few-and-far between, is good and well-directed, and it was definitely reminiscent of Running Scared, with a big, memorable car chase, and the big final shootout. There's also a nice bar fight scene, the only fight scene in the movie, unique in that Connery effortlessly takes down a much younger man using just his thumbs. There's also a pretty great foot chase scene through the streets of Chinatown, which is refreshing, since you don't see many foot chases in movies. Most of them are car chases, or chase utilizing some other kinds of vehicles (motorcycles, boats, etc.) but this one was pretty dynamic. Don't go into this expecting large amounts of action, that is to say, this isn't on the level of Die Hard, 48 HRS, Lethal Weapon, Commando, or Predator. The action, while well-made and fast-paced barely comprises the movie, and mostly just moves the plot along. As I said, this film is character driven, up until the end.
Anyway, I think I've covered the high and low points of the film, and I definitely don't think it's deserving of the amount of harsh criticism it's received. Not the best buddy cop film, but a pretty good thriller/mystery flick that Sean Connery fans, or anyone else who likes a good thriller, can enjoy.
Men at Work (1990)
I Guess I Expected More
I won't lie, I did enjoy a lot of things about this movie, and there were some pretty funny moments. I like Emilio Estevez, and I think this is the first Charlie Sheen movie I've seen, but he did a pretty nice job too.
The plot follows two underachieving garbage men who dream of opening a surf shop by the beach. They're assigned a supervisor after a series of reckless garbage collecting incidents, and the three eventually find the body of a local politician in a garbage can, and go on the run while trying to solve the murder. They're pursued by a ruthless nuclear waste mogul, two incompetent hitmen, and two equally incompetent police officers.
There were definitely some funny moments, and the film set a nice, quirky tone. Estevez and Sheen's characters are both likable, and they mostly carry the movie. I guess I felt that the slapstick moments were unnecessary, such as disguising the corpse to sneak it past the police, or the kidnapping of the pizza man, or the final sequence in which the villain is subjected to a series of disgusting, painful, and humiliating pranks by the main characters after an out-of-place, slapstick final fight. I'm more of a smart comedy person than a slapstick comedy person, and I prefer witty dialogue, a smart script, and more realism, that is to say, when they take the action seriously in so-called 'action comedies'. And that's what would've saved the movie for me. If the script is about a murder mystery and a battle with a corporate fiend, slapstick comedy becomes unnecessary, and it felt like the movie was trying to be two completely different things, and wasn't really balancing either very well.
Wikipedia and IMDb both say this is an 'action comedy' but it definitely is more of a comedy, save for a few action sequences; the final battle, the car exploding, and the somewhat violent murder, which kind of departed from the tone of the film. It gets interesting when the hitmen come in and strangle the politician, but then all the antics with the corpse and the incompetence of the hitmen really just didn't feel right. This could've been done better, as a good action comedy with some great laughs, but just a smarter, more realistic script. This is more of a comedy with action in it, like Twins, Friday, or Mo' Money. The action feels a lot like Loaded Weapon 1. Cartoony, occasionally slapstick, and not too violent, serious, or realistic.
Sheen and Estevez had the best lines and performances, and except for some completely unrealistic or over-the-top moments, I liked Keith David too. He was an unexpected surprise, and I liked him a lot in They Live and Hollywood Homicide. Aside from these three, everyone else was really meh, and the villain especially, just seemed like another overacted villain in a comedy, really a stock villain. Most of the characters were one-dimensional, and there wasn't a ton of character development. Also, the 'save the environment' message felt pretty forced, and was really kind of overshadowed by the zany comedy and other stuff going on, and it was barely present at all. It could've been handled better, much like this movie.
Anyway, it wasn't abysmal, but there are definitely other movies in the 'action comedy' genre that do better, like 48 HRS, Beverly Hills Cop, Lethal Weapon, Rush Hour, Big Trouble in Little China, etc. This movie is ok at best, although 5/10 is being generous.
Beverly Hills Cop II (1987)
What's With the Hate?
While there are many that like this movie, I've seen a lot of people who hate on it too, and I don't understand it. This movie was awesome. I think it's as good as, if not better than the first one. I mean, it delivers on every promise it makes, and it's especially good in comparison with the third film, so just take it for what it is and you'll have a fun time.
Axel Foley returns as hip Detroit cop Axel Foley, and this time, he's drawn back to Beverly Hills in order to catch the person who shot Bogomil, and he re-teams with Taggart and Rosewood to do it, as well as solve the infamous "Alphabet Crimes".
I thoroughly enjoyed this film, and it's an excellent movie, let-alone a sequel. One of the best sequels of all time. There are sequels that are good, but a lot are not. As sequels go, I really liked "Die Hard 2", "Lethal Weapon 2", "Rush Hour 2", "Terminator 2: Judgement Day", "Another 48 HRS", "Back to the Future Part II", and some others. Anyway, I'm getting off-topic. This isn't about good sequels. This is about "Beverly Hills Cop II".
The film greatly benefits from Tony Scott's masterful direction, and he truly is a virtuoso when it comes to directing action films. I really love some of his other work, particularly his films with Denzel Washington ("Man on Fire", "Deja Vu", "The Taking of Pelham 123", "Unstoppable"), and he crafts some excellent action set-pieces here. While the "Beverly Hills Cop" films have never been accused of being action-heavy, what is here is quite good, particularly the final oil field shootout which was very memorable. I would even go as far as to say that Scott's direction here tops that of Martin Brest, who was responsible for the every bit as good original film.
As far as comedy goes, it's hilarious, and arguably funnier than the first. Eddie Murphy is just as funny here as in the last one, and there are some laugh-out-loud moments. The feel of the original is still there, and the "fish out of water" aspect of Axel in Beverly Hills is still present, even if it's not as apparent as in the original.
As I mentioned earlier, there's not a ton of action, even if some people do say this one's more action-packed than the first one. I'd say both have about the same amount, but even though there's not loads of action, what's here is great. A short shootout outside of a strip club, a cement truck chase, and the final, legendary shootout.
Everyone played their parts well, and the characters are just as likable here as in the first one. There's a lot of character development, probably more here than in the first, and there's a greater focus on Taggart and Rosewood, which I liked. A great script, excellent cast, and skilled director really made this film soar.
A problem that a lot of people had with this one was that it was pretty much just a repeat of the first film, and that very little set this one apart. But honestly, isn't that the point of a sequel? I mean, yes, it would be nice to see a different film, but I don't agree that this is a repeat of the first one. The appeal of a sequel is that, if you liked the first one, then you'll like the sequel. It has the same characters, same plot elements, same actors, but a new situation. It takes everything that people liked about the first one, and adds more to it here. This sequel did have a different situation, although it still had the feel of the first one, which is one of the things that made it so good. But this sequel, instead of focusing on being something different, just decided to build on what made the original so good. It still had the 'average guy in rich Beverly Hills' vibe, it still had the same characters, same personalities, same location, but it developed these aspects more. There's now a greater focus on the lives of Taggart and Rosewood, as well as their relationship with Axel. There's a greater focus on Inspector Todd and the Detroit Police Department. There's more insight into the life of Bogomil. It is a rehash of the original, to a point, but there's more added. Everything that made the original a classic is still here, but there's now more of it. And I think this makes a good sequel. It worked with "Die Hard 2" and "Lethal Weapon 2". Different villains, same characters, same relationships, same action, same humor, different settings.
Overall, this film is, at least to me, under-appreciated, and it does a lot of great things. If you've seen the first "Beverly Hills Cop", than you'll like this one. Watch it, and decide for yourself.
48 Hrs. (1982)
A True Classic
Finally got around to watching this film recently, and man, did I love it. One of the most inventive and interesting movies ever, especially for its time, and also one of the first buddy cop movies ever, as well as one of the best.
You already know the plot, as many other reviewers have outlined it, so I won't get into that here. What I will say is that it is a truly unique and original story, at least, it was in 1982. Combine a dynamite script with two excellent leads and you have one of the most fun rides in cinema ever. The script is really great, and I was especially excited to see that Roger Spottiswoode wrote it, as I'm a fan of the two other films of his that I've seen; "Shoot to Kill" and "The 6th Day".
As far as action goes, this one has more than enough, and is brimming with gritty, brutal action. From the opening prison escape scene, to the hotel shootout, to the interrogation with Luther, to the redneck bar scene, to the legendary alley fight scene, to the bus chase, to the final, climactic battle in the apartment building, this truly is a skillfully crafted, highly entertaining action movie.
The comedy is really great too, and while this is more action/thriller, there is some comedy, but the majority of the humor comes from Eddie Murphy who really makes the movie. Beverly Hills Cop is definitely more comedy, while this one is more action, but in both, Murphy is at the top of his quick-witted, hilarious, and likable game.
This is an incredibly gritty, occasionally dark, movie, and the tone of the film is pretty somber, even when Eddie Murphy is shooting his mouth off. Cops are not particularly liked, African-Americans are treated like second-class citizens and often shunned, racial slurs are often present, there are skin-color-segregated bars, and no one really likes each other. All the guys want is sex, and all the women want is a faithful partner who they can love and trust. Everyone has problems or is flawed in some way, and that's pretty much what the movie is; two very different, flawed men who must work together and put aside their differences, and who both grow to appreciate each other by the end.
Everyone was well-cast and delivers great performances, and Nolte and Murphy really carry the movie. Nolte is the perfect hard-edged, tough cop, and Murphy is the perfect smooth, quick-witted convict. If you want a classic film that really develops its intriguing characters and has great action and big laughs, than this movie is for you. However, this is a pretty rough movie, and definitely a hard R, and if you're willing to tolerate graphic language and skip through some equally graphic nudity, than ok, but just know that that's what you're getting into if you can't stomach that kind of stuff.
Lethal Weapon 4 (1998)
Just as Good as the First
For a film, Lethal Weapon 4 is excellent. For a fourth film in a franchise, Lethal Weapon 4 is spectacular. If you liked the first three, then everything you liked from those is here. The action, the comedy, the thrills, the character development, the bromance, and more.
Riggs and Murtaugh are back in this explosive fourth film, and this time, they're mixing it up with Triad gangs. Both characters are still fun to watch and still have chemistry, but both are now visibly aging, and both are also getting tired of the job. Riggs is still the lose cannon cop, but he's getting older and wiser, and he's not who he once was. He's now in a relationship with Lorna Cole, and with a girlfriend and friends to think of, Riggs now has other people and things to live for besides himself, and he takes what he does more seriously. Murtaugh is older too, and he also is less reckless and less willing to take risks. Despite both characters having matured, they're still a ball to watch, and the biting wit and often immature humor and banter alone makes for a really fun movie.
The supporting cast is still there, with Leo Getz (Joe Pesci), Lorna Cole (Renee Russo), Murtaugh's family, and the new edition, Lee Butters (Chris Rock). Chris Rock was a great addition to the cast, and he's really likable and fun to watch, as he's pretty much a younger Eddie Murphy. The comedy is there too, with lots of great laughs, from the opening scene, to the scenes in the police station, to the hilarious scene in the dentist office.
As for the action, this film more than delivers, with a great opening shootout, a boat fight scene, a great fight in Murtaugh's house in which almost all of the main characters participate, an intense freeway chase, a large-scale shootout at a harbor, and a lengthy, intense, brutal final fight in the spirit of the first film, and the franchise in general. The action in this film is definitely on-par with the other films, and this may be the most action-packed of the four, but that's debatable. But it really does kick the action up a notch, at least in comparison to LW3, and there are some downright brutal fight scenes and shootouts, and the final fight in this film was, in my opinion, one of the best and most brutal fight scenes ever.
Some say that this film isn't great, and it didn't get great reviews from critics, but I genuinely loved this movie. It was action-packed, it was funny, and it was just an absolute blast up until the credits began to roll. I'm still connected to the characters, I still enjoyed the action, and it was just as hilarious as the others too.
If you want an excellent fun movie, and especially if you've seen the first three, then you have every reason to watch this film, which you should.
Lethal Weapon 3 (1992)
Lethal Weapon 3 is Just as Good as the Others
This movie, while liked, is often recognized as being either not-as-good, or inferior, to the first two, and while I can admit that the first two may have been slightly better, this film is just different, in a good way.
Riggs and Murtaugh are back, this time on the trail of a rogue cop who is working with some nasty men to manufacture firearms, and who is also responsible for the deaths of several cops. This time around, the pair are joined by Lorna Cole (Renee Russo), an internal affairs cop who is almost as lethal as Riggs.
Character development is always present in these movies, and I love that about the franchise. In this third installment, Murtaugh is planning to retire, and the bomb threat that he botches with Riggs at the beginning doesn't help change his mind. Both characters are visibly getting older and changing, and Murtaugh just can't do it anymore. Riggs, after suffering all kinds of loss in the first two films, finally finds someone to guide him and give him something to live for in the form of Lorna Cole, a tough internal affairs cop, played by Renee Russo. The trio are on the trail of corrupt police officer Jack Travis, who specializes in arms dealing, and I found this plot pretty interesting, even if it is a little weaker than the others.
The movie does deliver what it advertises, a third installment that isn't too different from the first two. What is different is that it takes a more lighthearted tone, and pulls both of the lead characters out of the dark, gritty reality of the first two, and surrounds them with some new, colorful, interesting characters. These are still the reckless, intense Riggs and the veteran cop, by-the-book, family man Murtaugh, but they're now in a plot that focuses more on their relationships and friendship, than the hard-hitting, fast-paced action.
That being said, there's still plenty of action, and this film is definitely still worthy of the 'Lethal' in the title. There's a massive explosion at the beginning, an intense car chase/fight scene, a warehouse fight scene, a large-scale subway shootout and freeway chase, and a final fiery shootout.
This film is also the funniest in the series so far, and comedy is definitely more of a focal point here than in the first two. Riggs and Murtaugh joke with each other and banter most of the time they have on-screen, and there's really never a dull moment.
While the film is definitely safer and more toned-down than the first two, it's just as good, and well worth a watch.
Lethal Weapon 2 (1989)
What More is There to Say
This really is just a truly awesome movie, let alone a sequel. I loved this film as much, if not more, than the spectacular first installment, and whatever the first film was lacking, this film more than made up for. Sequels aren't usually this good, and I can only really say, as sequels go, that I loved this, "Beverly Hills Cop II", "Die Hard 2" "Rush Hour 2", "Another 48 HRS" and "Terminator 2: Judgement Day" as much as I did the first films. Still haven't seen "Mad Max 2 : The Road Warrior", or "Rambo: First Blood Part 2", but anyway, I'm getting off-topic. The point is, lots of sequels just aren't as good, some worse than others. But this film delivered, and it is arguably better than the first one, though I haven't yet decided that for myself.
Riggs and Murtaugh are back, and this time they're on the trail of a group of British-Columbian diplomats who double as drug traffickers and cop killers. After they threaten Murtaugh's family and murder several fellow cops, Riggs and Murtaugh leap into action, dishing out brutal vengeance. This time, they're joined by Leo Getz, a weaselly mob accountant trying to go straight.
"Lethal Weapon 2" essentially takes everything you loved about the first film; the action, the friendship, the interesting story, the breakneck pacing, the character development, the humor, and it pretty much just builds on these qualities. The story is new, and it's as good as the first one in my opinion, just with a less menacing villain, but that's a small price to pay. It's pretty much the first one, but with some more comedy, and if you saw the first one, than I think you will enjoy this one. It continues to develop the characters of Riggs and Murtaugh, as well as their friendship, to the point where they're now best friends and would take a bullet for each other, and the relationship that the two have is really fun to see, as they're pretty much all but brothers (no homo though).
The film opens with an intense car chase, which is, in my opinion, one of the best car chase scenes in movie history, and doesn't let up from there. There's a truck chase, a standoff inside of the British Columbian embassy, and a final, sensational, explosive, brutal final fight/shootout. This film packs all the action from the first one into the sequel here, and turns it up a little.
As I said, there's definitely more comedy, as Riggs is now a class clown as well as a killing machine, which adds an extra, really likable element to his character, further adding to the already complex personality that Shane Black has presented us with. Murtaugh is still there as well, with his family, and the scenes with Riggs and the family are really great, I can't describe it.
All in all, I can't recommend this and the first film enough. There's no reason not to watch this, so go do it. 10/10, wish I could give it more.
Lethal Weapon (1987)
One of the Ones That Started it All
If you have to see an action movie or buddy cop movie from the 80s, and you've already seen "Die Hard", then you absolutely must see "Lethal Weapon". It's one of my all-time favorites, if not my absolute favorite, and everything about is so watchable and memorable, and it never gets old no matter how many times you watch it. An absolute classic. The film is just so influential, and it spawned a whole host of copycats, such as "Red Heat", "Tango & Cash", "The Glimmer Man", "Bad Boys" and "Bad Boys II", and others.
You already know the plot: Two very different cops (Mel Gibson, Danny Glover) are assigned to work with each other, to take down some drug dealers. Matters are complicated however, when they kidnap one cop's daughter.
This movie was perfect, especially for its time period, it still holds up today. The characters are still engaging, everyone delivers wonderful performances, there are great action sequences, and this movie is pretty much the epitome of character development. Amid the bullets and fighting, you get to see two very different characters, who are both in a way, the same character. Both cops have been on the force for a while, both have seen action, both are getting tired and looking for a way out. Both are good cops and people, but Murtaugh is tired of putting his life on the line, which is all Riggs knows how to do. Riggs and Murtaugh are two sides of the same coin, and they are one of the best on-screen duos ever to be seen. Both
Gibson's character, Martin Riggs, really brings most of the action, and when he's not dodging bullets or beating the crap out of someone, he's joking around and being cocky. Glover's character, Roger Murtaugh, is a skilled cop, but one who's tired of being a cop. Riggs is just tired of living. The two become embroiled in a drug investigation, and the pair engage in many antics along the way, such as a shootout at a Christmas tree lot, a death-defying jump off of a building, an intense chase along Hollywood Boulevard, and one final, brutal, legendary final fight scene that really compliments the tone of the whole film, and it really expresses the intensity and craziness of Riggs.
Many refer to this as an action comedy, which is fair, but it really is more generous to the action genre than the comedy genre. There are some comedic moments, but this, and the second film are definitely more action-thriller oriented than comedy-oriented, but 3 and 4 are much more lighthearted. This film barely scrapes by as an action comedy, which is one of the things that makes it so good. It's just really brutally action-packed, probably as much as "Die Hard", but not to the point where it's over the top. Probably the perfect mix of action and storytelling, honestly.
Shane Black, a truly gifted script writer, has written some excellent films, and this is definitely one of, if not his actual, best. He establishes a really cool, dark, and gritty mood, and it compliments the character of Riggs so well. The film is really about two different, flawed characters who try to do the right thing, and succeed. I should also note that Gary Busey delivers a pretty great performance as a villain, and he and Jet Li were probably the best of the four villains from the franchise.
Richard Donner also delivers incredibly with the action sequences, adeptly staging and pacing the scenes, and swiftly moving us from one nail-biting scene to the next, while also using the lead actors' talents to the fullest, and Donner also handles the dramatic scenes quite well here, proving that he can capably handle just about any scenario he has to direct.
Overall, I HIGHLY recommend this film, and except for a few brief instances of unnecessary nudity, and a lot of strong language, this film is just too good not to watch, and you owe it to yourself to give it a shot, at least once.
Blue Streak (1999)
It's No "Beverly Hills Cop", But Hey, What're You Gonna Do?
As buddy cop action comedy movies about fast-talking, hip, likable cops stopping bad guys and getting into hilarious shenanigans go, this film doesn't have any special qualities that really set it apart, and it doesn't touch any new ground either, but I liked it, and I guess I'd watch it again, and in the end, that's what matters for a movie, isn't it? I mean, it's not bad, it's just not that memorable.
The plot follows jewel thief Miles Logan (Martin Lawrence) and his cohorts as they rob a large building and steal a priceless diamond. When one of Logan's pals turns on the gang and botches the operation, Logan and the man are the last ones standing, and he manages to barely escape the encounter, getting arrested in the process, but he manages to hide the diamond inside a construction site. years go by, and Miles gets out of prison, but when he reaches the site, he finds that it is now a snazzy new police station. With help from a friend, Miles manages to fabricate a badge and a record, and gets inside. Over the course of the film, he is caught up in his attempts to retrieve the diamond, while getting embroiled in actual police work and going up against drug dealers, and an ultimate showdown with the traitor that almost killed him and made off with the diamond.
This is the second Martin Lawrence film that I've seen, the other being National Security (2003), and as buddy cop movies where Lawrence PRETENDS to be a cop go, this is probably better than National Security. Unlike the aforementioned film, this one focuses less on racial jokes, as Lawrence's character is not nearly as racist as his character in National Security, and this film focuses more on universally funny comedy, with comedic situations and the antics of Logan as he tries to keep up appearances for the police. I haven't seen Bad Boys (1995) yet, and as buddy cop movies with Martin Lawrence go, I feel that I would enjoy that more than either this or National Security, but I have few complaints with this.
This movie feels a lot like Beverly Hills Cop (1984) in that a likable guy is thrown into a situation where he's out of his element, and in this film, he's even paired with two cops, like Beverly Hills Cop, both of whom strikingly resemble Taggart and Rosewood, from the aforementioned similar film. Aside from that, the movie manages to find its own identity as Logan meets unique characters, is thrown together with one of his other jewel thief buddies, and manages to actually become a good cop.
The story is alright, although the script probably could've been both funnier and more action-packed. With the writers, I've not seen anything else that Stephen Carpenter has done, and the only other thing from his work that I'd probably see is The Man (2005). It's unfortunate that Michael Berry hasn't written any other movies, and interesting that John Blumenthal helped with this. Overall though, it's a pretty good script.
The movie is primarily funny, with comedy first and action second, but the comedy does deliver and is pretty funny at times, and Lawrence is able to capably carry a moderately interesting script. As far as action goes, there's not much to speak of, at least not until the end in which a large shootout-turned truck chase ensues, and ultimately ends with Logan engaging in a standoff with the main antagonist. The lack of constant action does fit the tone of the film more, and it seems more realistic, and it also helps add finality and thrills to the climax.
Overall, I'd recommend this film, especially since it's a mostly safe, PG-13 buddy cop action comedy movie, and it has Martin Lawrence, two things that are rare for a movie with this rating. If you haven't already seen it, there's no reason not to.
They Live (1988)
They Live is a Documentary
They Live is an excellent sci-fi action thriller film, and it still holds up today, as an action flick and as a culturally significant commentary on consumerism in society. Even though many consider this to be a horror film, I hesitate to categorize it as a horror film, as it's not exactly scary, and it's really more action science fiction than anything else. I absolutely love this movie, and it is never given enough credit. This film has garnered a worthy cult following, and rightfully so. As Roddy Piper said, "They Live is a documentary".
You probably already know the plot, but it follows a drifter, John Nada (Roddy Piper), as he walks into town looking for work. He gets a job at a construction site, and befriends Frank Armitage (Keith David), another worker, and he takes Nada back to the community home for the homeless that he lives in. Over time, Nada notice some strange things,and eventually becomes aware of a sinister conspiracy, and takes matters into his own hands to put a stop to it.
The film's plot is already pretty interesting, and John Carpenter is at the top of his game here, both directing, and scripting, and I was especially excited to see this after seeing Big Trouble in Little China, which I thoroughly loved. The pacing is excellent, and the story is well-told, and I never lost interest in what was going on. I cared about what happened to the characters, and I was engaged in the story all the way up until the very end.
Carpenter creates a bleak, engaging, often dark and gritty world, where poverty reigns among the lower-class, and the rich and affluent lead oblivious lives. Two very different worlds are shown, one of decay and hopelessness, and the other of money, power, and greed, and that, ultimately, is what the film is about; greed. The poor are shown to be the only ones who truly know what's going on, and they are not given a voice. Rather, they're stopped at every turn from sharing what they know with the world. The character of John Nada is a likable underdog, and all-round American tough guy. As soon as he realizes what's going on, he acts in one of the most rational moments in movie history; he grabs the nearest weapon and goes to town on the bad guys. Carpenter is an expert at satirizing, or at the very least, exaggerating, especially when it comes to action hero stereotypes. We already see much of this with Kurt Russell's character in the aforementioned Big Trouble in Little China here, but Carpenter establishes an even more capable, memorable action hero here that the viewer can root for. The gritty, bleak vibe is maintained right down to the very end, and Roddy Piper's positive, extreme, ready-for-action character fits perfectly into the story and becomes the hero that the world needs.
The action, which I personally liked has been criticized by some, as cheap and not very well-made, but I found it to be hard-hitting, high-octane, and very enjoyable. A criticism of the film in general is that it's low-budget, cheesy, and overall of the 'B-movie' variety, but none of these facts, which may be true, stop it from telling a unique story. I personally found the action to be great, such as the bank shootout, the legendary alley fight scene, and the final shootout. The alley fight scene is honestly amazing; 5+ minutes of two guys beating the crap out of each other. It's actually one of my personal favorite fight scenes ever, it's just so brutal and over-the-top, it has to be seen to be believed. Just when you think it's about to end, it continues.
Everybody's performances were good, especially Roddy Piper's, who is just fun to watch, as he, like most wrestlers, is larger-than-life. Keith David surprised me, and I didn't learn exactly how many movies he was in until after I saw this film, but I look for him now.
Overall, an awesome movie, with plenty of action, one-liners, and thrills. 10/10, highly recommend it.
Beverly Hills Cop III (1994)
Not Abysmal, But Definitely the Weakest of the Three
It is actually funny to me whenever I read reviews of this movie. It's hard to believe just how much people universally hate this film. There are some that say it's good, but they're greatly overshadowed by the vast majority, and I agree with the majority, to a point.
Eddie Murphy is back for round three as Axel Foley, a hip Detroit cop who leads a bust on a chop shop, which erupts into a massive shootout, and his inspector, Todd, gets fatally shot in the process. The culprits get away, and Axel learns that they're actually residents of Beverly Hills. He drives out there for the third time, and again teams-up with Rosewood to take down the bad guys.
Ok, was this a terrible movie? Not to me. Was it bad? Somewhat. Was it good? Sure. Was it great? Meh. It really falls around a 5-6/10 for me, and I'm being about as generous as I can. I mean, it just wasn't amazing, but it also didn't feel like a "Beverly Hills Cop" movie. The first two were beautiful and I love them about as much as one can love a movie, but this really had nothing to do with the first two. It had three connections to the previous installments (Axel's character aside): Rosewood, Inspector Todd, and Beverly Hills. And Inspector Todd is killed in the beginning. So now we have only two things that tie this movie to the first two, unless you count Serge. It just didn't have the feel of the "Beverly Hills Cop" movies. It didn't retain the 'middle-class detective in rich and affluent Beverly Hills' vibe, that is to say, Axel wasn't the fish-out-of-water character, and it didn't pursue this plot line very much at all. In fact, the Beverly Hills element is barely even there. Beverly Hills has now just become merely a setting where Axel can shoot and fight bad guys. Another problem is that Taggart isn't here, and as a result, the character of Rosewood doesn't seem to have as much of a purpose. He's not even there for comedic relief, and he doesn't seem to have any defining qualities at all. He's really just there, to be someone to help Axel. The relationship between Axel and Rosewood isn't really developed anymore, and the script doesn't allow either of them to really click. Had the script writers been able to tap into the same Rosewood from the first two, then the absence of Taggart might be less noticeable, but Rosewood's character appears to have matured, which is fine, but now he doesn't really do anything. Even Eddie Murphy appears to be held back by the script. He's never allowed to really cut loose and be himself. No monologues, way fewer jokes, less overall banter and more straight dialogue just to move the plot along. Apparently the character of Axel was supposed to have matured, and that concept is interesting to me, but that's no excuse to entirely do away with what makes his character so great in the first place.
And the plot it seems, is really just there for Eddie Murphy to run through as Axel. Axel finds out that the bad guys are the managers of a theme park, Wonder World, and that's pretty much it. So the whole film is really just an Eddie Murphy vehicle, executed more poorly than the first two. Because if it is a vehicle for Murphy, then he should be allowed to be himself and make it fun, but we only get short glimpses of this throughout. It's a vicious cycle, and had this been corrected, I'd probably have given this a 10/10. Believe me, I desperately wanted to like this film as much as I did with the first two, but it just didn't measure up. The theme park angle was interesting, and had it been handled better, it would've been more interesting. It really just seems like a change of setting for Axel to fight bad guys. So really the only thing even remotely messed with here was the theme park, and that gets old after a while. Now Eddie Murphy is only allowed to be an action hero here, but what made the "Beverly Hills Cop" (1984) and "48 HRs" (1982) movies so great was that Eddie Murphy was able to be an action star and a comedian at the same time. We want to see Eddie Murphy fight bad guys AND joke around, but he only gets to do one of those things here.
This is billed as an action comedy, but aside from one or two scenes, there's not a ton of comedy to speak of. A lot of the comedy comes from Eddie still managing to inject s bit of his regular self into otherwise dull lines. As for the action, this is without a doubt the most action-packed of the three, and while I greatly enjoy action, that was one of this film's fatal flaws. It didn't adequately balance the action and the comedy like the first two did. It seemed like this film wanted to be something else that the franchise could not, and it tried to do its own thing while still trying to remain a "Beverly Hills Cop" film. I would not change any of the action, but more comedy and just more Eddie Murphy would've been nice. This film lacks substance, and it tries to cover this oversight with a boatload of shootouts, punches, and explosions, but to no avail. The action is good though, with lots of great shootouts, and a nice final battle inside the theme park.
Overall, I really wanted to like this film, and I didn't really mind it. But as a "Beverly Hills Cop" movie, it sucked. Really hoping the fourth installment will make up for what didn't happen here.
Central Intelligence (2016)
It All Depends On What You Like
As with so many other films like this, I went in expecting to like it, but also prepared myself for the fact that it may be disappointing, as The Rock and Kevin Hart both often put out hit-or-miss films, but this one greatly surpassed my expectations, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
But I have to say, I was surprised at how much I liked this, especially since I ended up liking it more than I expected or wanted to going in. This really just looked like another raunchy, foul-mouthed, shoot-em-up movie that the 2010s so consistently produce, and while this film is no exception, it does all of the aforementioned elements with style. It really is just another fun, buddy action comedy that really soars because of the chemistry and gravitas brought by the two main stars.
The story follows Kevin Hart as a high school jock/heartthrob who grows up to become a boring accountant who married his high school sweetheart. Dwayne Johnson was an overweight, geeky high school student who had one, embarrassing encounter with Hart's character, and he eventually reaches out and contacts Hart's character through Facebook years later. The two meet up at a bar, and they hit it off, but both realize how different the other is. It turns out that Johnson's character is a rogue CIA agent who was framed, and now he's running from his own people to stop the and guys and prove his innocence, but he needs Hart's accounting expertise to pull off his plan. What follows is a string of well-directed and edited action set pieces, along with often uproariously funny comedic moments, with some character development in between.
This is a certain kind of movie for certain kinds of people, and not everyone will like it...not everyone has to. It really comes down to wether or not you like at least one of the two main actors, and wether or not you're ok with Hart's loud, at times obnoxious motormouth character who is unprepared for the intense, fast-paced action-packed scenarios that Dwayne Johnson's intense, likable character throws him into. If you're not a fan of loud, sometimes annoying, sometimes slapstick comedy, or over-the-top, fast-paced and occasionally brutal action sequences, then this movie isn't for you.
There's a surprising amount of slick action in this film, although I shouldn't have been surprised since The Rock's in it. Several memorable scenes include the bar fight scene, office shootout/fight, garage fight scene, compound shootout scene, parking garage shootout, and final fight. I honestly expected less, but this film gave me so much more, and as an action fan, I was quite pleased. I often find that low expectations make for better enjoyment.
About the comedy, this is actually a hilarious movie. I laughed out loud many times, and still do, when I rematch certain scenes (they were that entertaining). The bar and airport scenes in particular still make me crack up, and I find that not many comedies manage to achieve consistently funny jokes throughout, let alone jokes that make you laugh just as hard upon rewetting them. Even if you're not a huge fan of Kevin Hart screaming and talking really fast, the Rock is funny and charismatic enough to make it watchable.
This is the first Kevin Hart movie that I've seen, and I've only seen The Rock in one or two other films where he wasn't a main character, but if both of them are making movies like this, I would like to see them then.
Running Scared (1986)
Why No One is Calling This a Classic is Beyond Me
I honestly really enjoyed this movie, it's probably even one of my favorites, and I still can't believe I had to go looking for movies like this to find it. Everyone who talks about buddy cop action comedies says "48 HRS", "Beverly Hills Cop",
"Lethal Weapon", "Red Heat", "Stakeout", "Tango & Cash", "Rush Hour", and then new ones, like "21 Jump Street" and its sequel, "2 Guns", and the "Bad Boys" movies. But really, this movie predated all of the aforementioned films except for the first two, and it's still not receiving the kind of credit it deserves.
This 1986 action comedy features Billy Crystal and Gregory Hines as Danny Costanzo and Ray Hughes, two Chicago cops who are looking to retire. The two are on a stakeout when they see a drug dealer they recently put away, Julio Gonzales, on the street, and this leads to the eventual bust-gone-wrong, where the two unwittingly blow the cover of two cops trying to nail Gonzales, but they do end up catching him. Gonzales makes bail however, and Danny and Ray are instructed to take a vacation, and they head to Key West, Florida. Once they get back, they put in gear and pull out all the stops to and Gonzales.
Peter Hyams did a great job directing here, and he really let Crystal and Hines carry the movie, and didn't rely on an overabundance of action to make the film work. Letting the two leads have fun really made the film both more enjoyable and memorable, but when the action did come, he directed it pretty well, and nothing was ever too far-fetched, the train track car chase aside. I'll definitely be on the lookout for future works from Hyams, and I also enjoyed his 1988 buddy cop film, "The Presidio", though this film was much more enjoyable in my opinion, both as an action film, and just a film in general.
As far as comedy goes, it's excellent, and there are some great laughs. Crystal and Hines have legendary chemistry, and they play so well off of each other it's insane.
There is, honestly, little to offer in the action department, but what is there is slick, well-made, memorable sequences that seem at least somewhat realistic. There is a small shootout in an alley near the beginning, a shootout on a boat on a dock, a shootout in an apartment, a fast-paced car chase on train tracks, and a final, explosive shootout in which Danny and Ray head into a large building, armed to the teeth and aided by two other cops, to get Gonzales and save Danny's ex-wife.
I would definitely recommend this film, and it's such a classic, well-made example of a buddy cop film. 10/10.
Not as Bad as People Say
Honestly, I've never understood the hate for this movie. Is it the best buddy cop or action comedy movie? Obviously not. Have both Eddie Murphy and Robert DeNiro made better movies? Of course. Does that mean this movie sucks? Not in my opinion.
Most of the people who watched this probably came for three reasons:
1. They liked either one, or both, of the two main stars.
2. They like buddy/buddy cop action comedy films.
3. They came because of both of the first two reasons.
Now, as I said, obviously it's not the best movie, but it was originally intended as a satire, or at least as a little jab, at the 'buddy cop' genre, so naturally it's not going to take itself incredibly seriously. Some have made the case that the film ends up becoming the kind of movie it's supposed to be making fun of, and while that's true, it still ends up being enjoyable.
If you like the loud, potty-mouthed, confident, hilarious, charismatic Eddie Murphy from the 48 HRS or Beverly Hills Cop movies, you will get a little of that, but not as much as you're probably hoping for. Now, obviously, Eddie will have some funny scenes just because he's Eddie Murphy, but he is still limited by the script, and it doesn't seem like he ever is able to really cut loose or be himself, and some of his lines can feel forced at times.
Now, while I didn't find the main plot to be that bad, it is still not the best, and it's not super-engaging. The plot is that two very different police officers (Eddie Murphy, Robert DeNiro) are approached by a TV studio who are looking to make a hit buddy cop show, and the two are coerced into going along with it as the stars. This does prove for some interesting moments, but it's not enough to carry a movie on.
The other main plot, which one could argue, devolves the movie into becoming just like any other buddy cop movie, is the suave, sophisticated, nefarious, foreign arms dealer who rolls into town selling high-powered weaponry. It's not incredibly interesting, but it serves its purpose, and it does take a back seat to the TV show plot, at least until the third act.
As for comedy, this flick did have some funny moments, but it just didn't seem to really try, and other times, it didn't try at all. Overall, it is funny, but not as funny as a lot of the films that it's trying to be.
The action, at least what's there, ends up being pretty well-done, at least the large-scale car chase about halfway through, the bar fight, and the final climax. I'm glad that the movie didn't focus solely on action, as the action wasn't the point of the movie, but the action that is there, while fine, did't feel entirely realistic, or just not super engaging, but I did like it.
I did enjoy the disagreeable chemistry between the leads, and I definitely think that Eddie Murphy saved this movie, even if he wasn't at the top of his game.
Director Tom Dey hasn't done much, but he does have "Shanghai Noon" as one of his credits, which is honestly a much more enjoyable film. I'd definitely recommend that one over this film.
Overall, I did like it, but it didn't need a sequel, and I'm glad one never came. 6/10.
The Hard Way (1991)
Arguably One of the Best Buddy Cop Films Ever
Well, I absolutely love buddy/buddy cop action comedy films, and that is what I expected going in, and believe me, this film delivered.
Michael J. Fox stars as Nick Lang, a famous action star (this is a great jab at action stars and Hollywood as a whole), who wants to add more realism to his roles. He gets permission to temporarily become a police officer, and he is assigned to follow super cop John Moss (James Woods), who begrudgingly agrees to let Lang shadow him. The chemistry between Fox and Woods' characters is really, really great, and the two seem pretty convincing, especially Woods' performance as the determined, and often very, very annoyed cop who wants to do the right thing. The camaraderie and friendship between the two slowly develops over the course of the film, and by the end, the relationship between the two had been developed quite well, at least for my standards.
The film opens with a high- octane car chase as Woods' character tries and fails to catchy the infamous Party Crasher, a psychotic serial killer. This sequence is really slick, and done quite well, but after this, the film starts to slow down and focus on the characters. But towards the end of the second act, the film heats up, and races along at a break neck pace, only stopping occasionally for some extra character development or emotional scenes between Woods and his girlfriend.
John Badham is a good director, and he really proves his proficiency in action direction here. Would've been nice to see him do some more action movies besides the few he's known for. Every action sequence is well executed and edited, and it really went with the tone of the movie. The film also had a really nice, glossy look, and it actually felt like a Tony Scott movie, which is saying a lot.
The action in this film works really well, and is really nicely directed, from the opening car chase, to the theatre and subway shootouts, to the final, brutal fight scene atop a billboard for Lang's newest movie. I enjoyed the balance of action and comedy in this movie, and it seemed like there was just enough of each. I think it's worth noting that the shootout in the subway was really well-directed, and Fox handles his part here perfectly. He really sells his character, and it genuinely seems like he's a pretender caught-up in a real action scenario, but he still manages to capably and confidently fight the Party Crasher at the end, which I thought was realistic, and for this I was grateful. Woods also really sells his character, and he genuinely seems like a burned-out cop who is good at his job, but not much else.
As for the comedy side of things, this film also delivered some great laughs, at least for me, and Michael J. Fox is such a good actor, and he can make almost anything good. After seeing him for the first time in the first three Back to the Future movies, and then in his excellent romantic-comedy Doc Hollywood, I was really excited to see him in another movie, especially a buddy action comedy, and he really made the whole thing worth it. This film was good as a regular action thriller, don't get me wrong, but without him, it really loses a lot. Most of the funny scenes and lines come from him and his character, and he really seems like he's having a lot of fun on set.
All in all, I was really, really surprised by this movie, and John Balham did an excellent job. This is one of my favorite movies, and I highly recommend it to anyone, wether you're a fan of the genre, or you just want a good popcorn flick.
I will say though, as a warning, that there is a lot of coarse, heavy language in this film. Aside from that, 10/10.