*NEW* THE INFILTRATOR REVIEW *NEW*

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Terrible title for a terrible movie. Not even Heisenberg could save this cold and disjointed crime thriller. Watch Narcos instead.

A U.S. Customs official (Bryan Cranston – Breaking Bad) uncovers a money laundering scheme involving Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar.

A meandering and uninteresting crime biopic. Shame. Let’s start with the positives (That will be about a paragraph).

The opening was engaging enough as we watched agent Robert Mazur in play (Even if it was Hal in a badly dyed wig and tash). I couldn’t believe the number of British actors popping up in small (and tragically meaningless) roles; Daniel Mays (Dad’s Army), Leanne Best (Line of Duty) and Joseph Gilgun (Misfits).

I was intrigued as Mazur had to fake a heart attack to cover up the fact that the bug he was wearing was actually frying his chest. You could feel for the chap as retirement reared its ugly head. Desperately seeking one operation, one bust that will truly make a dent on this relentless drug war.

It was interesting to see the strain that the scheme took on Mazur’s wife. Juliet Aubrey (The Constant Gardener) and Bryan Cranston had good chemistry. At first, Evelyn was understanding and supportive as Bob confides in her every detail BUT as he delves deeper into the underbelly and his cover became entwined with his personal life, things began to take their toll.

An uncomfortable anniversary dinner took a turn for the worse as the couple bump into one of Mazur’s targets. A moment involving a birthday cake was probably one of the best scenes in the film. Cranston was able to show why he won all those Emmys and highlight the pressure of keeping two personas.

It was a little disappointing that the momentum couldn’t be carried. The agonizing pace really didn’t help the piece. There were good portions of the film that dragged unnecessarily.

I’m not sure whether it was a case of writer Ellen Sue Brown sticking too close to the original novel based on Mazur’s life BUT it really wasn’t an interesting one. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to establish that Escobar was filtering his money through America and various places around the world. Once we witnessed Bob initiate a few shady deals and droll out some financial statistics, there wasn’t much else on offer.

John Leguizamo’s character was the most interesting one as the unstable Emir Abreu. BUT he still annoyed the hell out of me. The banter and one liners not quite jumping out at you and coming off flat and unfunny. BUT at least his character got things going. Introducing Mazur to the very underworld he wants to bring down.

There were a couple of tense moments as Abreu had to protect Mazur’s cover and deal with his own C.I. that was going out of his way to cause problems. BUT for all the potential trouble it suggested, nothing really came of it. Once Mazur got to the people he needed to, Abreu was pushed into the background and only brought back for the dismal finale.

And that was the main problem. It was all build up with no pay-off. It spent so long setting everything up and then ended abruptly with some mind-numbing disappointing statistics and bio footnotes in the closing credits. BUT by the end I couldn’t care less.

Diane Kruger did her best as Kathy Ertz; Mazur’s undercover wife. The writer teased a growing closeness between the pair BUT it was never really explored. Some much needed drama that could have added to the strain on Mazur’s real wife. However, it was reduced to an awkward encounter between the two ladies that just didn’t work.

Benjamin Bratt did his best with the role of Roberto Alcaino BUT he delivered more gusto and tenacity as El Macho in Despicable Me 2. The promising cast were wasted. Amy Ryan was reduced to playing a stocky CIA operative. Dull. Gilgun wasn’t in it enough as Dominic. He has come a long way from Emmerdale.

Joshua Reis’ cinematography was great to look at BUT there were only so many badly choreographed flashy neon stripper dances to cracking 80s tunes that could distract me from the monotonous clichéd and generic crime drivel that we’ve seen time and time again.

A movie of mere moments that never really took off. It was a little infuriating to see the Breaking Bad star take another foray into the drug business BUT at the same time if anyone could have made it work, you would have banked on Walter White.

You know you’re onto a loser when the main villain is reduced to a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it walking cameo.

2/5

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*NEW* RIDE ALONG 2 REVIEW *NEW*

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The brothers-in-law are back. BUT bigger and better? Not even close.

As his wedding day approaches, Ben (Kevin Hart) heads to Miami with his soon-to-be brother-in-law James (Ice Cube) to bring down a drug dealer who’s supplying the dealers of Atlanta with product.

Kevin Hart stole the show yet again and did just enough to keep things watchable BUT memorable? Let’s be honest, the first Ride Along wasn’t perfect. It was silly, OTT BUT (for a good portion of the movie) funny. Worthy of a sequel? Not so much. BUT a smash hit at the box office meant one thing. SEQUELS, baby!

A promising opening sequence hit the ground running. A vast improvement from the original. Trading cliched cop guff for a hilarious Fast and Furious style stake out. It even came with a Tyrese Gibson cameo. I just wish more was made of it. BUT how was he going to compete with Kevin Hart in a ridiculous low rider?!

It’s just a shame that as this second helping chugged along, it failed to reach any level the original set. It was incredibly patchy and no where near as funny. Hart and Cube did their best BUT it wasn’t enough. Cube’s stone cold pallor got a few laughs and he did seem to lighten up this time round.

BUT the real scene stealer, other than Hart, was Ken Jeong (The Hangover). He wasn’t in this enough. From his nerdy improv to drunken madness, he was brilliant. When teamed up with Hart, they should have been as annoying as hell BUT it was comedy gold. Their stake out debates ranging from ranking Star Wars movies to Biggie or Sir Mixalot being the better artist delivered the chuckles.

Benjamin Bratt’s bland drug kingpin was weak. He delivered more sinister conviction as El Macho in Despicable Me 2. Olivia Munn (Magic Mike) was stunning BUT her character was terrible. Desperate to be the female equivalent of Cube and we all knew where that story line was going to lead. Besides, we already had Cube, we didn’t need another. She only really got to shine in the closing minutes. Too little, too late.

The pace and gags, like Kevin Hart’s shooting, were incredibly hit and miss. It didn’t help that we had a complete retread of Ben trying to win James’ approval. James desperate to see the back of him. Secretly hoping Ben will mess up the next mission. The lovely Tika Sumpter was tragically pushed into the background yet again.

The high speed Miami police chase sequence wasn’t bad with Ben having to visualize everything in a virtual Grand Theft Auto video game style. Signalling every direction he was going. Hart kept things above water. From flailing around in a silk kamino to pretending to be a demented foreign dignitary for his cover.

It just felt that for every good gag, there were a dozen duds. Hart’s dignitary spiel was funny BUT it was soon milked to death once he entered the embassy. The joke was dead and buried once a badly CGI’d croc was thrown into the mix.

The action sequences dragged on and failed to grab me. It reeked of desperation as the film rushed to its flat finale. We even had a regurgitation of the same old gag with Ben shooting another person by mistake. Really?

It was watchable enough and fun in places BUT the plot was dull and cliched to boot. And when the jokes fell flat, the film drudged along and the last 20 minutes really fizzled out with cliched speeches galore.

Move along, more like.

2/5

MINIONS MOVIE REVIEW

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Not as despicable as I thought but nowhere near as good either. I know. Whaaatttttt?

This Minion fan was left feeling a little blue. For all the promise and the crazy cast, this lazy offering did enough to keep things watchable for the little ‘uns but failed to really make a mark like its predecessor.

Minions Stuart, Kevin and Bob (all voiced by Pierre Coffin) are recruited by Scarlet Overkill (Sandra Bullock), a super-villain who, alongside her inventor husband Herb (Jon Hamm), hatches a plot to take over the world.

As soon as the Universal logo emerged and those funny little yellow buffoons started humming the theme, I could feel a guilty smile spread across my face.

The animation was brilliant. The pace zipped along. The minions had enough charm and silliness to keep things lively. However, my smile soon faded as the opening 15 minutes were exactly like the heavily flogged and overlong trailers. If you were lucky enough not to see them then it’s fun enough. BUT for me all the best bits were spoiled.

I honestly thought that Gru had made the little yellow money makers. But it turns out they had been on this Earth long before man. The only surprise that I got from the film. That and the fact this script got through editing.

We watch the Minions as they desperately search for the biggest, baddest villain to serve and somehow manage to eliminate them instead. I did laugh at the gang as they knock a T-Rex into a volcano, blow Napoleon Bonaparte out of the sky and wipe out Count Dracula after opening the curtains during the day to surprise him with a birthday cake.

Geoffrey Rush’s voiceover was entertaining. If anything I wished there was more of it BUT there were only so many times the man could pronounce the word, “BA-NA-NA!” in a funny way. Thankfully, all the heavily flogged bits were wrapped up in that opening act.

And things did take a more interesting turn when the Nelson family were introduced. Michael Keaton and Alison Janney were on fine form. To be honest, I wish the Minions had stuck with them. They were mental!

I liked how you were able to tell Kevin, Stuart and Bob apart. Each with their own unique personality. Not bad considering they all sound the flipping same with their helium induced broken English, Spanish and gobbledygook.

Sandra Bullock did her best to bring the notorious Scarlett Overkill to life but her lines were not nearly as funny or memorable enough. She fell short of Jason Segel’s villainous Vector (“Curse you tiny toilet!”) and wasn’t even half as crazy as Benjamin Bratt’s brutish El Macho.

She had the odd one liner, “What are your names? My knights in shining denim”. But as she blathered on about her crusade for the Queen’s Crown Jewels, I realized how much I missed Steve Carrell’s Gru.

I couldn’t believe Jon ‘Don Draper’ Hamm was voicing Scarlett’s hub Herb. Completely out of character and lapping it up. He did his best to steal the show as the dimwitted scientist.

The sixties soundtrack was rocking, man. The Who, The Kinks, The Doors, Jimmi Hendrix. Loved it.

The premise was a little weak with our heroes, I mean villains, tasked with stealing the Crown Jewels. Cue a lazy montage of the Minions minion-ing up London as they breeze through a number of landmarks; The House of Commons, The Tower of London, Trafalgar Square. One little landmark did get a laugh that I didn’t expect.

BUT there just wasn’t enough. The gag ratio was low. Don’t get me wrong. The little devils still delivered in parts. Stuart wearing a thong while bathing in a hot tub with two yellow fire hydrants got a chuckle and the song and dance number homage to Singin’ in the Rain’s ‘Make ‘Em Laugh’ was brilliant.

I just felt that the writers went for lazy gimmicks. Resorting to old stereotypes for a quick titter. The whole British people with bad teeth and constantly drinking tea spiel has been done to death. I’m not just saying that as a Brit but come on! Really?

Not even the legendary Jennifer Saunders could save the day as Her Majesty. It was too OTT and just not funny. The bobbies on the beat running around with tea cups and shouting “Cor Blimey!” just infuriated me and the scene with the Beefeaters was just weird. No, seriously. It was a strange Full Monty-esque moment. Desperation?

The dark undertones were handled well. The macabre bumping off of “leaders” and the torture chamber scene luckily went over the little ‘uns heads. A joke involving Kevin and a noose may not have been the best thing for a kid’s film.

The Minions were always the funny scene stealers in the Despicable films but this movie proved that you can have too much of a good thing. And maybe that there was a reason why they were only minions.

It’s not all bad but it’s not that great. Disney and Pixar have proven time and time again that you can have films that appeal to everyone. This has enough for the little ‘uns but for the bigger kids (at heart) you may be left disappointed.

2.5/5