Posts Tagged ‘movie’

Killer Elite: stand by for bad attitude and big side burns

Crimezine loves Sir Ranulph Fiennes OBE. Killer Elite is based on the book Feather Men by this great British adventurer and premier league nut job. Ran, as he likes to be called, has been up more mountains than a goat herding yeti and circumnavigated more poles than an escaped penguin in Krakow. He has also seen a great deal of military service, including time spent in the legendary British special forces unit, the Special Air Service (SAS).

The film Killer Elite is supposedly  based on Ran’s experiences in the gulf state of Oman, just how much of this is true and how much of it is—erhem—artistic licence, is left to the conscience of the individual Crimeziner. Suffice to say, this tall tale incoporates many of the authors SAS experiences.
The movie revolves around gun for hire Danny Bryce (Statham) and his partner Hunter (De Niro).  Danny comes out of retirement to help Hunter, who has been kidnapped by  nasty Sheik Amr. Three of the Sheiks sons have been killed by the SAS and now he wants Danny to avenge them—while he holds Hunter as insurance.
The action is hard and fast moving, the plot clever and entertaining. There is never a dull moment in this movie and there are a plethora of double crosses and twists, that will leave you guessing till the very end. Serious cinema critics never understand action movies like this, so it is best to ignore them–buy a supersized popcorn and enjoy ninety minutes of knuckle cracking action and full auto frolics.
Statham is his usual ebullient self throughout, recieving more damage than a one armed boxer in a UFC final. De Niro is hilariously DeNiroesque, in a return to form that will have fans of the great man cheering in the aisles. And in case you had any doubts, Clive Owen is just wonderful as Statham’s one eyed SAS nemesis.
The movie does have a number of flaws however. Crimezine especially loved the unintentional hilarity of the SAS squad,  who’s cliched toby-jug antics add a degree of levity to this film. Do the filmmakers really think ale sloshing sing-alongs are part of British life? Chortle.
The other gripe is the  fact that this film is supposed to be set in 1980, but the set dressing is off kilter, which is distracting. There is no real reason why this film should have been a period piece, rather than a here and now interpretation.
At one point in the movie, an actor playing Ranulph Fiennes gets shot in the leg by Statham. He doesn’t look that hurt, which is no surprise, as Ran is a man who sawed  off his own fingers in his garden shed with a Black and Decker power saw. Why?  An ill advised DIY surgery attempt, to relieve the symptoms of Antarctica induced frostbite. Ouch. This film is a must, go see it now.

Ryan Gosling Drive

This film is being sold by the Hollywood marketing machine, as a slick Fast and Furious car chase movie. To look at the trailer you would expect explosions and automotive mayhem galore. The reality is quite different however. This is a dark brooding heist movie with  Steve McQueen overtones that transcends movie marketing templates.

Getaway wheelman Gosling is the man with no name, more Pale Rider than Vin Diesel and the plot is paced  like No Country for Old Men, rather than the turbocharged antics of the blockbuster Fast franchise.

Drive was adapted from James Sallis’ 2005 crime novel, by Academy Award-nominated screenwriter  Hossein Amini. It won Danish filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn the Best Director award at the Cannes film festival. Gosling chose Refn personally, after seeing such classics as the Pusher Trilogy and the truely deranged Bronson.

The artful cinematography comes courtesy of Newton Thomas Sigel. His atmospheric camera work makes the City of Los Angeles the voluptuous co-star of this movie, a brooding and unforgiving backdrop to a truly gripping crime story.

The plot concerns Gosling, a stuntman and part time getaway driver and the relationship he develops with his neighbor Irene (Carey Mulligan) and her son. When Irene’s husband Standard (Oscar Isaac) comes home from prison, he finds himself owing a debt he cannot repay. Gosling offers to help out and events quickly career out of control. A special Crimezine shout out also goes to the villainous Bernie Rose (Albert Brooks) and Nino played by Ron ‘Hellboy’ Pearlman.

The film has several very violent scenes, that have come under the scrutiny of critics. Crimezine feels that cinema audiences have been soft soaped for too long. Violence has consequences. A fact that Drive bravely faces up to.

Crimezine saw the screening of this movie at Falbrook Laemlle theatre Los Angeles, just a few blocks from Reseda Boulevard where Gosling’s character works. At one point a local restaurant on Sherman Way is name checked in the movie Do you know where that is? asks the character, to which some one in the audience shouted out Yeah, and the food is terrible. How we laughed.

So if you want to see a movie that is too cool for school this weekend head out for a Drive and when people get hurt remember to duck for cover because the blood and gore spurts high and wide.

Crimezine loves Jason Statham. It is that simple. Jase is more London than the Thames. More East end than a pint of jellied eels in Kray brothers boozer the Blind Beggar. The geezer has a big personality and it takes a special kind of film to accommodate this.

Unfortunately Blitz is not that film. First of all there is the title. For Londoner’s the word Blitz (Short for the German word Blitzkrieg , or lightening war.) means the ariel bombing campaign the Nazis used to attack the city during World War Two. Here it is used to describe a creepy cop killer who decides to go on a murder spree after Jase gives him a well deserved clump over the head with a pool cue. Getting whacked on the noggin with blunt instruments is par for the course in the world of East end villainy, as common place as pie and mash, so it seems a tad unlikely that getting justly thumped in a pool hall rumble would lead to such a long trail of dead cops.

Psychological motivation is not this films strong point quite obviously.

Retro cliche features big however. Jase plays a hard drinking, hard hitting, fast-talking cop, in the Dirty Harry, Sweeney, Life on Mars mould. Although the film is set in the present day, the dialogue and attitudes are straight out of the 1970’s. ( sample dialogue: You’re not bad—for a shirt lifter.) Trouble is, real cops are not like that, and very few were like that even in the hard-partying misogynist seventies. A police department comprised almost entirely of alcoholics and drug addicts takes this film into the world of witless parody. At first this is unintentionally amusing, but soon it becomes yawnsome and annoying.

Then there is the screen play. There are so many holes in the plot that any sense of  reality quickly disappears, into a netherworld of  goofy  set pieces. Like an Ealing comedy gone wrong, we are expected to believe that  London’ s finest  arrest the serial killer, but are forced to release him only hours later, along with a large amount of money stolen from his last victim. This, despite the fact that heroic Jase has established a credible link between the killer and the victims.  Political corectness gone wrong is the heavy handed reasoning here, but by this stage of the game, the stench of bullshit is so bad, it is overpowering the aroma of the mounting corpse count.

Statham plays the outsider far better than the cop, even if it is a maverick cop. The obvious attraction of this film is that Jase is back on the manor in London, rather than chasing racial stereotypes around Southern California in an Audi. Trouble is, this idea is far more engaging than the actuality. No doubt  the hard hitting Statham can return to home turf in a convincing crime film, unfortunately Blitz is not that film.

The enjoyment of Blitz can be improved greatly,  by taking a shot of Scotch every time  a tired cop show cliche tumbles out of someones lips, but be warned,  you will need an iron constitution to see the movie out.

Maybe you should save your pounds sterling governor, go see Killer Elite instead.

Crimezine Lincoln Lawyer

The Lincoln Lawyer

Crimezine likes the Lincoln Lawyer, almost as much as we like Michael Connelly himself. So what if he is living in Florida these days, rather than the Golden City of LA. If a man likes ’gator filled swamps, Hurricanes and flies as big as birds that is his decision.

Levity aside, congratulations to our favorite adopted Angeleno on the success of the film adaptation of his premier Mickey Haller novel The Lincoln Lawyer.

When Crimezine first read this book back in 2005 we assumed this usurper to the Harry Bosche crown was a cunning ploy devised by Connelley’s Agent/ Publishers so that  they could all cash in on the  vogue for legal genre novels. But here at Crimezine we are almost as cynical as Haller himself and we are proud to admit that we are now Champions of the Haller Ouvre.

Bosch fans should check out the excellent novel Brass Verdict which is a Bosch/Haller hybrid. Also check out  The Reversal, which also features Bosch in the investigation of a child murder case. Haller also makes a brief appearance in Nine Dragons  but you already knew that didn’t you Crimeziners, pay attention at the back!

In Michael’s latest Haller novel, The Fifth Witness, a recession hit Haller deals with the defense of a foreclosed client, accused of killing a banker, who is trying to take her house. (Maybe you can read this in the back of your town car, for extra verisimilitude (Snigger)).

Completists will insist that we mention the collection of  Short stories The Dark End of the Street in which Mickey appears in the tale, The Perfect Triangle.

Crimezines spies in Hollywood report that Matthew McConaughey will be appearing in a sequel to the Lincoln lawyer. We wish him luck, parking is hell in Beverly Hills these days.

Jason Statham, Film the mechanic, Charles Bronson

The Mechanic

When it comes to wise cracking crime action films Jason Statham is undoubtably the man of the moment, as fans of  films such as Transporter and Crank will agree. The fact that he has been asked to reprise the role of Arthur Bishop, previously played in the original 1972 film by the legendary Charles Bronson, shows that Hollywood loves his wise cracking charisma and tough guy histronics too.

The new film is similar to the classic version in that Statham plays a super assassin who trains an apprentice in the shape of  Steve (Ben Foster) the son of his murdered friend Harry, played by Donald Sutherland. Youth training schemes are all very well, but duplicity and double cross quickly lead to the kind of Statham  head mashing we know and love.  Expect explosions and plenty of them,  along with strong and brutal violence, as they say in the trade.

After shooting the original 1971 film Director Michael Winner, surely the world’s most flamboyant bon vivant,went on to shoot  Charles Bronson in the The Stone Killer and the Death Wish films.   Crimezine  feels a movie marathon coming on! Why not join us?

Cleveland. The 1970’s. The Mafia. It is time for the Danny Greene story, and let me tell you crime fans, it has been worth the wait. Greene like most racketeers was a nasty piece of work. Former US Marine, former head of the  International longshoremen’s Association and 100% hardcore mobster.

Greene graduated from embezzling union funds to providing muscle  for mob bosses Alex “Shondor” Birns, Frank “Little Frank” Brancato, and John Nardi, where he quickly gained a reputation as a violent and ruthless enforcer, using explosives to spectacular and lethal effect.

As with many high echelon mobsters  power and ego caused  Greene to think he was not only smarter than the cops but the mafia too, a mistake that would cost him dear. Many crime fans will have seen the excellent biography channel documentary on Danny Greene. I urge you to do so if you haven’t already.

A new movie: Kill the Irishman covering the Danny Greene story will be released in March 2011. Loosely based on: To Kill the Irishman: The War That Crippled the Mafia, by former cop Rick Porello. Regarded by many as semi-articulate this book is not to be recommended. The movie however, has a fantastic cast including Ray Stevensen, Val Kilmer and the crimetastic Christopher Walken. Also starring Vincent D’Onofrio, Paul Sorvino, Steven R. Schirripa, Robert Davi and Mike Starr. The film is a who’s who of all your favorite mafia cameo actors. Even professional thug/ soccer star Vinnie Jones makes an appearance, so watch your head when you are getting out of the limo at the premier.

Reckless vanity, the luck of the Irish and the undeniable crime lord charisma that made Danny Greene so popular in the media, will undoubtably make this film the crime hit of the year.

A measure of  Danny Greene ‘the man the mob couldn’t kill’ can be gained from a comment Jimmy ‘sleeping with the fishes’ Hoffa reportedly made to teamsters boss Louis Triscaro, “Stay away from that guy. There’s something wrong with him.” Enjoy the film and don’t forget to check underneath your car…

Ben Affleck anyone? Poor Ben, he has been playing second fiddle to his Oscar winning cohort and distant cousin, (yes really.) Matt Damon for years. There have of course been some marvelous moments, such as his portrayal of Jack Ryan in the Tom Clancy action epic Sum of all Fears. But in recent years it is Damon who has been garnering all the attention. That is about to change

The Town, in which Affleck Acts, Directs and Co-Writes the screenplay, along with Peter Craig and Aaron Stockard, is a Crimezine classic. Dealing with the lives of bank robbers from the Bostonian estate of Charlestown, the film is one of the most cohesive, original and hard-hitting crime films in years. The most refreshing aspect of this film is the way it portrays the tough choices laid out before the small town criminals and inhabitants of The Town and the almost inevitable cataclysm that is coming their way. Seamless realism and believability  course through this film in abundance, delivering a fresh take on the world of the buddy heist movie. The screenplay and the quality of the acting are faultless throughout. Affleck is on the verge of something big beyond anything he has done before, and if he can keep making movies like this, the plaudits he richly deserves must surely be heading his way.