*NEW* JACK REACHER: NEVER GO BACK REVIEW *NEW*

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Generic by the book (OR NOT if you’re a fan) actioner that killed the time BUT offered little else.

Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise) must uncover the truth behind a major government conspiracy in order to clear his name. BUT on the run as a fugitive from the law, he uncovers a potential secret from his past that could change his life forever.

I’ve never read the Lee Child novels and I know a lot of fans were not happy to hear that the six foot blonde super soldier was being taken on by the 54 year old hobbit Tom Cruise. BUT I really liked Reacher’s first foray onto the silver screen. It was quick witted, dark, gritty and action packed.

I was actually looking forward to the sequel BUT by the time the credits rolled, I was left feeling disappointed. Reuniting with The Last Samurai director Edward Zwick, I expected so much more from Cruise and co.

The opening delivered with Reacher held up at a diner. A trail of unconscious men welcoming the local law enforcement. “There are two things that are going to happen”. Once that phone rang in the background, I cracked a grin.

It felt like we hadn’t left him. A shame that momentum couldn’t be carried on. While the elongated title sequence and credits flashed across the screen, we watched Reacher finding solace in talking with Major Turner (Cobie Smulders). It was a little too corny for my liking as the pair struck up a friendship and agreed to meet for a date. Awww. Yuck.

However, things did pick up as Reacher finally arrived at Washington only to discover that Turner had been arrested for treason.

The next 30 minutes or so I was engrossed in the cloak and dagger stuff as the military went out of their way to stop Reacher sniffing around. Holt McCallany (Gangster Squad) was brilliant as the slimy Colonel Morgan.

If anything, I wish his character was in it more. He was a better villain than Patrick Heusinger (Black Swan). He may have had a cool title as The Hunter BUT he was too one dimensional to care about. He did his best BUT he was just another stock baddie. It didn’t help that the script didn’t have any clever dialogue. The lines were so flat and dull.

It was missing something. Christopher McQuarrie’s (Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation) direction. The snappy one liners. The suspense. Even the car chases didn’t impress. It was watchable and the shoot out sequences and punch em ups were entertaining enough BUT they soon grew tedious and predictable as the running time staggered along.

Whilst trying to discover the reason for Turner’s incarceration, Reacher was sandbagged with the news that he may have a daughter. Danika Yarosh (Heroes Reborn) played Samatha well and there were moments to be had as the hard man struggled to impose control over a teenager BUT it was cliched to boot.

Cobie Smulders (Yes, she does. What?!) wasn’t too bad as Turner. It was good to see the How I Met Your Mother star finally get a meatier role. A shame that her character was too much like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D’s Maria Hill. She just tried to out-Reacher Reacher for the majority of the film BUT it just didn’t work.

The machismo talk between the pair did spark a snappy little argument on who would protect Samantha. Reacher telling Turner to stay behind on the grounds of being a woman. In a different film, this could have been something BUT it came off hammy and poorly timed.

Even the story line didn’t offer that much. I actually got lost at one point as Reacher and co found a lead out of nowhere BUT it was merely another excuse for another drawn out ultra-violent punch up.

And after all that mystery and build up, the reveal was so disappointing and predictable. Another generic thriller with a bog standard twist. Cruise did his best with the part BUT I have to agree with my mate who said that Reacher has become nothing more than an Ethan Hunt spin-off series.

It wasn’t bad by any means. If you’re in the mood for a frantic shoot em up to kill the time, then give it a go. Just don’t expect too much.

2.5/5

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GONE GIRL REVIEW

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If you haven’t gone. Go!

One of the best films I have seen in a long time and dare I say a contender for film of the year? Can Fincher do no wrong? (Leave Alien 3 out of this!)

With his wife’s (Rosamund Pike) disappearance having become the focus of an intense media circus, a man (Ben Affleck) sees the spotlight turned on him when it’s suspected that he may not be innocent.

After seeing the heavily advertised trailers and endless hype for Gone Girl, I dreaded seeing it. I felt the trailers gave everything away and left little for me to look forward to. I went in expecting to be disappointed, praying that it will at least be watchable.

But not this time. A slow burning, tense, suspenseful murder mystery that keeps you guessing. Dark, clever and, at times, surprisingly funny with some sharp satire on the relentless media manhunt that can consume a nation and remove objectivity where it’s really needed.

The opening hour very much sets up the pieces flicking back and forth from the initial incident. We get a sense of each character. The inevitable finger pointing game begins; “I think they’re hiding something”, “He looks dodgy”, “I think he or she did it”.

Ben Affleck was fantastic and apparently battling his Batman bulk. But the real plaudits will go to Rosamund Pike. A fitting end note for a busy year of movies for her. The Oscar buzz around her performance is completely justified.

Now I will admit that I haven’t read the novel. People have told me that the book is so much better. If that be the case, I must read this book because the film was brilliant. It helps that the screenplay was adapted by the author Gillian Flynn.

I’m sure many of you have heard the twist talk. Yes, there is a big twist. That is revealed quite early on. I will not be revealing any plot points because I want people to see this. However, I did find that the twist transformed the film for me and took it to another level.

The first half of the film had chugged along quite well and certainly played on the paranoia and suspicions fantastically with the endless red herrings. But once the twist is revealed, it changes everything and how everyone was initially perceived.

My main quip with films (of late) was pace. At 165 minutes, I thought this film would test me. BUT for once, I found myself hooked and actually turning my phone off to avoid interruptions. Transfixed by the story, the acting and suspense.

The trademark cinematography (and regular Fincher stalwart) of Jeff Cronenweth certainly adds to the murky undertones flowing through the film. Fincher also has a fantastic supporting cast at his fingertips.

Tyler Perry was surprisingly good, delivering some unexpected but hilarious one liners as the ruthless smooth talking lawyer. To be honest, I wanted more to see more of his character. Sela Ward (House) and Missi Pyle (Dodgeball) were perfectly cast as the silver tongued media mouthpieces thriving on the attention focused on Affleck’s Nick.

Flynn couldn’t be any more accurate with the representation of the media surrounding the missing; the social media in particular. How a simple picture can be manipulated to mean so much more than was originally intended.

Gone Girl allowed some smaller actors the opportunity to step up. Kim Dickens (The Blind Side) was very good as the relentless detective hell bent on persecuting Nick. Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother) went completely out of character. A breath of fresh air. He played the part to perfection.

Kathleen Rose Perkins was wasted in her role. Anyone could have played her. A real shame after her performance in Episodes. The real scene stealer, second to Pike, was Carrie Coon as Nick’s twin sister Margo. Coon has already made an impression after her turn in the bizarre but strangely hypnotic The Leftovers. Performances like this will certainly keep her very much on the watch list.

I felt the ending fitted the film perfectly but others may find it a little too abrupt and open. It is always a risk when everything pieces together that the final unravelling may disappoint. BUT there is certainly a lot more to this than meets the eye.

A film that very much lives up to the hype. Tense, suspenseful, dark, engaging. GO SEE NOW.

4/5

Yes, a 4! Finally a film to break the endless ranting and raving from this reviewer.

A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST REVIEW

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A Million Ways to Die Laughing! Unfortunately not. MacFarlane takes on the Wild West and comes out more battered and bruised than his heroic counterpart. Applying his Family Guy spiel, this cowboy comedy yields mixed results this time round.

Now for the record I am a big Family Guy fan and thought Ted was a return to form from MacFarlane as Family Guy teetered on lacklustre but watchable.

His second feature to hit the big screen and a western. My hopes were high. The trailers signed me up from the get go. Job done as always. However, it seems a case of ‘best bits in the trailers’ syndrome. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not all bad but it’s not all great either.

The main issue, two hours? Too long. It was only after the first 30-45 minutes that the film got into its stride. The story line is hardly original, merely a rehash of a classical western storyline. Probably one of the reasons why westerns are no longer plaguing our screens.

Local coward finds bravery and confronts nastiest gunslinger to win the town and the girl. Yadda, yadda. I really hoped for a demented Blazing Saddles but only got mildly hot flip flops. The lovely Charlize Theron and McFarlane were fantastic together. Good chemistry. You could see where they were improvising which made the banter all the more entertaining.

However, the main jokes and punch lines are few and far between. The bigger, better gags have been heavily advertised to get you to watch this mildly entertaining affair.

Seth MacFarlane’s rants felt, at times, like nothing more than him trying to do improvised stand up. Some parts fall flat on its backside, other bits bring the odd laugh. His speech on the law and order of the town was very good; “There is the mayor. He is dead”.

MacFarlane manages to carry enough charisma to keep his stocky character going. The funniest moments in the film for me were the unexpected blink and you’ll miss it cameos, containing the likes of Ewan McGregor, Ryan Reynolds and . . . my God, two brilliant cameos that were nearly worth the ticket. I won’t say for once.

Cameos you would have expected from MacFarlane but still manage to surprise and get a laugh.

Considering the number of musical montages in Family Guy, there is only one song and dance number. An irritatingly catchy one, at that. A missed opportunity in my opinion. I kept expecting Mr Conway Twitty to appear. Alas to no avail. Of course not literally as the poor man passed away some time ago.

I admit I did have to check Google on that. My bad.

In all fairness, the supporting characters bring the better jokes but they are barely in it. You feel that they are brought in to help the slackening pace or when MacFarlane and Theron have stopped messing around.

Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother) was very funny as the mustached lothario Foy with his ridiculously cringeworthy but hilarious pun based insults.

It was great to see Liam Neeson as the villain. Unfortunately he plays it very dead pan. So serious, in fact that his character is just a stocky and highly unmemorable clichéd cowboy killer. I expected at least a Taken parody or something. Nope. At least he didn’t try and do an American drawl again after Seraphim Falls.

The same could be said for Amanda Seyfried who was nothing more than a bland caricature used as a plot device to spur our protagonist. Shame. A joke about her eyes brought an unexpected titter.

Sarah Silverman and Giovani Ribisi were hilarious together. However, they are only resorted to a drawn out gag about having a prostitute as a girlfriend and not sleeping together before marriage as it is not very Christian. The gag gets a little stale but the characters were funny enough to warrant more screen time than they got.  Inevitably, there would be a meeting with the Indians, I mean, Native Americans and a certain taking of various substances, leading to a trippy and surreal sequence that reeked of desperation, more than creativity.

Inevitably it all ends very . . . predictably which leaves you somewhat disappointed (if it hadn’t already).

It’s watchable at best. But I have later series of Family Guy for that. It kills the time, brings the odd laugh but hardly must see viewing. If you are looking for a laugh out loud rowdy riot of a western in the style of Mel Brooks’ Blazing Saddles, then I recommend . . . Blazing Saddles 2.5/5 for me.

Currently ranks #130 out of 179!

Delivery Man Review

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Well, it didn’t deliver as many laughs as I expected (What? Tut away) but beneath it’s surface is something much more and better than I could have expected.

An easygoing, lighthearted comedy drama with some actual acting from leading man Vince Vaughan, which we all knew he could do but had just forgotten.

Vaughan plays David, an incompetent meat truck delivery driver who finds out he’s fathered 533 children (what?! That’s right) through anonymous donations to a fertility clinic 20 years ago. Now he must decide whether or not to come forward when 142 of them file a lawsuit to reveal his identity . . . and you thought you had a bad day.

It all starts off very slow and by the book, setting the usual slacker spiel with David trying to set up a weed farm in his apartment, clocking up massive debts, as well as forgetting and messing up deliveries.

His partner Emma, played straight faced by Coby Smulders (yes, she does. What? Don’t judge) announces she is pregnant and does not want him to be a part of the child’s life. Smulders (of How I Met Your Mother fame) is wasted (not literally drunk) in this movie, playing such a minor passive supporting role. Anyone could have played her.

A highly unfunny set up and surprisingly serious, which was contrary to the impression I got from the trailers. However, it soon picks up once Damian Young’s (Who? Bill from Californication! Still who? Never mind. Watch Californication) Attorney Williams drops the bombshell.

A ridiculous but intriguing premise. It turns out this is a remake of a French comedy, Starbuck. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen it but I am very tempted to see it to make comparisons. A funny, if drawn out, overreaction from Vaughan (No Soy David!) soon leads to him doing some reconnaissance on the 142 children, keeping his anonymity in check, leading to a good movie.

As soon as David seeks advice from his useless lawyer friend Brett (played by the brilliant Chris Pratt), the jokes come in thick and fast, especially when Brett introduces the joys of parenting with his monstrous children. Vaughan and Pratt work well off each other and makes up for a stuttering start and once the kids come into it, there comes genuine humour and good drama.

Considering this is a Hollywood remake, Delivery Man wasn’t afraid to branch out, providing a variety of different outcomes and, more specifically, children that David has procreated and the situations in which David attempts to be their “guardian angel”.

Some situations are funny, Vaughan relentlessly attempting to get his lifeguard son to save him and one of his daughters parading herself in skimpy clothes for blokes to ogle (yeah, it’s a word. I’m bringing it back). Other scenarios were surprising, one (without spoiling) was done very well.

The supporting cast were actually quite good including such talented up and comers as Josh Raynor (who will soon feature in the new Transformers movie) and Britt Robertson (she’s been around, you could say and not in that way, well who knows. Anyway, you may know her from The Secret Circle and Under the Dome). 

Once we get introduced to David’s family, at first irritating, you soon warm to them as home truths are shared, providing some engrossing scenes. I don’t know where the critics have got the notion that Vince Vaughan has lost it and should give up.

I actually enjoyed The Internship, it may be have been OTT and ridiculously corny but it was funny. The most important factor in a comedy. Well you would have thought so. Vaughan brings a vulnerability and sincerity to David’s character. He didn’t really scream and pull stupid faces through this and he actually acted and acted well.

Apart from a slow start, the film was quite enjoyable. The only other hindrance was the introduction of Viggo (Adam Chanler-Barat), one of David’s sons. At first, funny as he battles to find anything in common. It soon goes on for too long and just gets a little weird.

Apart from that . . .

At times, endearing and engaging, it can also be incredibly corny and a little predictable but overall, the film delivers a pizza that has a really overdone cheese topping but get underneath it and it’s better than you think and quite enjoyable.

3/5

Currently ranks #44 out of 131