*NEW* JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 2 REVIEW *NEW*

He’s back! But bigger and better?

After returning to the criminal underworld to repay a debt, John Wick (Keanu Reeves) discovers that a large bounty has been put on his life.

They certainly cranked the gun-fu up to 11 BUT “The Raid 2 of action movies”. I don’t think so.

The opening threw us right into the mix following straight on from the first film with our main man chasing after a motorcyclist to retrieve some medallion or something.

It didn’t really matter what he chasing after because it was all for a car. Remember the car? He didn’t actually get it back.

Does Peter Stormare (Prison Break) even realise he’s becoming a cliche of his own cliched character? Another hilarious generic Eastern European mob boss.

His comical rendition of his last encounter with the Matrix machismo was too much; “He killed a guy with a pencil. A f*cking pencil!”

The scrap yard sequence was ridiculous, OTT but it set up one thing. Old Keanu can still kick ass. It was like something out of a video game. Entrapped in a mosh pit of taxi cabs, waiting for a bigger and nastier villain to deliver the next punch.

The action set pieces were intense enough. BUT the only problem was that the first John Wick came out of the blue and revamped some of the old action cliches and made it into something different.

With the expectations a little higher, Chapter 2 didn’t quite meet up to them this time around. Don’t get me wrong, it still did the job and it is what it is.

A high octane punch em shoot em up but it still toyed aspects of Wick’s past that I wanted exploring. What was this impossible task?! Who decided these rules on territories and why isn’t Ian McShane (Deadwood) in this more?

Riccardo Scamarcio (Burnt) played the smug Santino well. Another unwanted blast from the past. Calling on an old debt to demand one last job from the Boogeyman.

Unfortunately, this was where the pace lagged for me. We had to watch Wick’s inevitable refusal and the predictable outcome that followed. Before reluctantly accepting the task at hand.

The Rome reconnaissance was watchable enough BUT the director stretched out the build up to the point that I was screaming for a shootout.

Less of the flat cryptic dialogue, more of the bang for your buck please!

For the animal lovers, the Boogeyman has a new companion in a loveable blue staffie. Does he suffer the same fate as his furry predecessor?

Well, there’s only one way to find out BUT I’m not saying.

The gun kung fu or gung-fu was brilliantly choreographed. Just when I thought certain scenes were getting a little repetitive, there would suddenly be a new creative and ultra-violent kill that had me wincing.

Stormare wasn’t kidding about that pencil!

Common (Smokin’ Aces) played a worthy adversary. I loved the camaraderie between him and Wick; “Consider this a professional courtesy”.

However, their initial (and incredibly brutal) fist fights soon went on too long and felt more like something out of the Peter Griffin vs Giant Chicken saga. Especially when they were rolling down the stairs. My God!

Ruby Rose (Orange is the New Black) had potential as a mute assassin BUT never really got going. Shame.

Laurence Fishburne was not in this enough. He stole the show in his minute cameo. I was disappointed that we couldn’t get one little Matrix quote from ol’ Morpheus.

A shady friend in Wick’s desperate time of need with an alarmingly impressive army of militant homeless men.

The fiery and frenetic closing act certainly made up for the lumbering middle act. It was everything I hoped from the get go.

Relentless, violent and bloody fun. Especially when the bounty was put on Wick’s head. Everybody in New York given the green light to take out Neo.

Mental. I don’t think it would be a spoiler to say that things have been left open for another.

And despite my grumbles, I will be looking forward to the next installment.

BUT is pace and a little more exploration into Wick’s past too much to ask? Don’t make just another generic shooter.

3/5

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*NEW* EXPOSED REVIEW *NEW*

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Some secrets are better left buried. A bit like this film, really.

Absolutely bloody dreadful.

A police detective (Keanu Reeves) investigates the truth behind his partner’s death.

A case that unearths disturbing police corruption and a dangerous secret involving an unlikely young woman (Ana de Armas).

Or so the synopsis would lead you to believe. Thank God, Reeves has got John Wick to fall on because this coma-inducing effort would have been a career killer.

If you haven’t heard of this film, then GOOD. You’re one of the lucky ones. If you were thinking of giving it a go, I would strongly advise against it.

Maybe Armas and Reeves shouldn’t work together on a project again. Fool me once, Eli Roth’s horrendous Knock Knock. Fool me twice, this monstrosity.

The opening was creepy enough as Armas loitered around an empty subway. An air of unease uncomfortably set. The Shining-esque tunnels. The strange visions. A shame that momentum couldn’t stick.

I haven’t seen something so dull and disjointed in a long time. I expected a slow burning supernatural thriller BUT was rewarded (I say rewarded) with a questionable mess that never really got going.

The alluring Armas (What?) did her best with the part BUT it just didn’t work. If it wasn’t for the strange dream sequences and that crazy albino woman, I would have switched off from the get go.

What drove Keanu to do this? He was laughable. His stone cold pallor and incessant mumbling did nothing for his character. A disgruntled detective out on the trail to avenge his murdered partner.

His story line felt it should have been in another movie altogether. It ran completely separate to Isabel’s story. They didn’t even cross paths until the very last frame. And by then, you wondered why he was in it in the first place?

It was so boring, cliched and full of plot holes. His investigation consisted of grunting, slapping some people about and getting jiggy with his partner’s grieving widow (Mira Sorvino).

Sorvino (Mimic) was terrible. Her character’s unhinged and volatile behaviour made her extremely unlikeable and really bloody annoying. She brought nothing to the mix.

Big Daddy Kane’s slimy gangster Jonathan ‘Black’ Jones was completely unnecessary. He swaggered around, bumping people off left, right and centre that had nothing to do with Reeve’s investigation or Isabel.

There was a bizarre and surprisingly violent encounter between Jones and Isabel’s brother-in-law. BUT was there any explanation? Any relevance to what was going on? Nope.

And that was the main problem. In terms of story telling, there wasn’t any. Gee Malik Linton just seemed to throw in any old thing, hoping it would stick and make some sort of movie.

Just question after question with no answers. It just got stranger and more disjointed as it slowly crawled (Bearing in mind, it’s only 98 minutes long) to its abysmal finale.

Isabel immaculately conceived a baby. Weird considering her fella was in the army and hadn’t been back on leave in over a year. The whole religious connotation to the Virgin Mary came off so hammy that even her family weren’t buying it!

Reeves’ Galban just slept walk through this film, blurting some school boy Spanish here and there was one scene that had me in stitches . . .

It was supposed to add a bit of depth to the broken man. Drunkenly calling his son late at night just for someone to talk to. Isolated and alone.

BUT what does our hero do after this failed attempt at emotional bonding? He slaps himself repeatedly with the phone, of course. I wish I could find a GIF for it.

And considering the synopsis suggested corruption. I didn’t see any in this film. Christopher MacDonald (Happy Gilmore) was completely wasted in the generic role of Lieutenant Galway. Repeatedly telling Galban to drop the investigation. I really wish he had taken his advice.

The last 10 minutes finally explained those bizarre visions (which did surprise me). I will admit I didn’t see the twist (I say twist) coming.

A twist that ultimately led to a highly unsavoury scene.

BUT once I got that over initial and shocking scene, the film then capsized even further as everything came to a befuddling and dismal ending.

I actually couldn’t care by the time the credits rolled and will spend no more time after this review looking into it.

I urge you to do the same. Awful. AVOID. Unless you really, and I mean REALLY, have nothing better to do.

1.5/5

*NEW* POINT BREAK 3D REVIEW *NEW*

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What was the point?

A young FBI agent (Luke Bracey) infiltrates an extraordinary team of extreme sports athletes he suspects of masterminding a string of unprecedented, sophisticated corporate heists.

Woah. This was bad. I don’t know why I expected anything else. A needless remake of an iconic action thriller that did nothing to justify its production.

Now credit where’s it due. The opening was actually quite watchable and zipped along. A silly introduction made full use of the gimmicky 3D. Something I haven’t been able to say for the majority of these heavily flogged features. Bracey’s Utah blazing sand and gravel from his dirt bike straight out at the screen.

It was a little corny BUT it set up Utah’s thirst for adrenaline. A necessary skill set. Apparently. A botched stunt soon sets him on the straight and narrow. And we flash forward to the present with Utah now enlisted in the FBI. Woah.

Bracey (The Best of Me) was perfectly cast as Utah. And for the first 30 minutes, I was actually NOT hating it. He looked like a surfer dude and channeled his inner Keanu. Oh, how wrong I was. Like the great (and dare I say, CGI’d?) waves that Utah and Bodhi surfed, the pace meandered along and had little to offer in plot, action or quotable dialogue. Even the little nods to the original came off half-arsed. Okay, the President faces laminated on the motorbike helmets wasn’t a bad touch.

Now the heists were actually quite good. The special effects were brilliant. A fantastic sequence in which the suspected criminal gang of adrenaline junkies unleash millions of dollars from a plane stopped my griping for a moment. The 3D gimmick flickering dollar bills at my face. BUT the problem was that there wasn’t enough of these moments.

One good scene does not a good movie make. Ray Winstone’s performance as Pappas was dreadful. It didn’t help that he had to drawl out some cliched and incredibly naff dialogue BUT his character had nothing on Gary Busey. Speaking of drawls; was Winstone supposed to be American? His mish-mash accent didn’t work at all. Just keep it cockney, Ray.

Delroy Lindo (Gone In Sixty Seconds) was completely wasted in his role as Instructor Hall. He should have been in it more. His reaction when Utah tries to explain the incredibly hammy plot entertained me more than the rest of the cast.

Edgar Ramirez (The Bourne Ultimatum) was always going to struggle to match Patrick Swayze’s charm BUT he didn’t do a bad Bodhi. A charismatic presence in a lifeless piece. His relationship with Utah didn’t have that natural chemistry like the original. It felt rushed and was cliched to death. The macho street brawls, ridiculous ‘hippy’ mantra and cheesy bro-mantic hugging was too much.

The pace dragged when the heists weren’t taking place. We had to drudge through droll dialogue, cheesy exchanges and a laughable plot line that went no where. Utah’s romance with Teresa Palmer (Warm Bodies) was completely unnecessary. It added nothing to the mix and the pair didn’t even have the same chemistry as Reeves and Lori Petty (Free Willy).

The premise was weak. A group of adrenaline junkies attempting to complete a teaching called the Ozaki 8. Eight ordeals to honour the forces of nature. Yeah, I know right? The whole taking from the rich and giving to the poor spiel was fine BUT it was so obvious that it was Bodhi’s gang doing this and yet our hero couldn’t see it. Even when he was taking part in one of the crimes?!

Ericson Core’s cinematography made this like something out of a Michael Bay flick and there were a couple of decent set pieces BUT otherwise, this remake was terrible. Boring, predictable and thoroughly disappointing.

A washout indeed.

2/5

KNOCK KNOCK REVIEW

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Knock, knock? Who’s there? One of the worst films of the year. That’s what.

So what’s it about? A pair of femme fatales (Lorenza Izzo and Ana de Armas) wreak havoc on the life of a happily married man (Keanu Reeves).

Woah, this was horrific. For all the wrong reasons. At 99 minutes, this film felt considerably longer. I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with Roth’s work. At his best, the backpacking travel terror flick Hostel. At his worst, Hostel 2 . . . Or Cabin Fever. Well, I’ve found a new one to add to his worst list.

The opening was painfully slow. I was prepared to let the tension build before the alluring ladies made their introduction. BUT we were subjected to mindless vomit inducing cliched family chatter.

I thought writer/director Eli Roth made the opening as a joke. The exchanges were so corny. After 15 minutes, I was praying for that knock on the door as Reeves chased after kids with cake all over his gob, calling himself the ‘Cake Monster’. Cringe.

When the ladies finally made their appearance, it didn’t really didn’t pick up. A knock at the door. Some unbelievable excuse about a mix up with addresses and the femme fatales were in.

For another 20 minutes, we had to endure Reeves playing an awkward game of musical chairs as the girls flirted and shared “seductive” stories that he ate up. Because hey, why would strangers lie? “Valiantly” turning down their advances and re-iterating that he is a happily married man.

It was just so slow, uninteresting and unsettling. And not even in the creepy sense. It felt like a badly done porno. The vintage music. The awful pick up lines. The bad interior decor. An eclectic collection of trippy looking items. Reeves trying to woo the ladies with his old record player because . . . Well, would you look at that? He used to be a DJ.

All within 45 minutes of waiting for a taxi cab? Really? Things must have been getting desperate as we had to listen to some rubbish from Reeves about drying the moisture out of a damp iPhone with a bowl of rice? Come on.

When the deed finally happened, I thought “Here we go” (No, not like that). The games will begin. Oh no. If anything Izzo and Armas were really annoying. Acting like spoiled high school kids. Throwing pancakes at the wall and messing up the kitchen while refusing to leave.

Childish and even more boring. When things finally took a darker turn and their real motives finally revealed, there was only a slight improvement.

Armas wearing Reeves’ daughter’s school uniform while riding him and barking like a dog made for bizarre viewing. I’m sure Knock Knock was supposed to be a sexy horror. A cross between Misery with Funny Games with a splash of Hard Candy. Well, that was what I was hoping for.

BUT oh no! This was worse than one of Roth’s intentionally bad B-movie grindhouse flicks. There was no suspense and no tension as Reeves’ character spend the rest of the film effing and jeffing while being strapped to a chair.

His character was so stupid and his endless commentary on what the two girls were doing was highly comical. “You’re going to kill me? You ARE going to kill ME?! You came to my house”. Oh, Keanu. How the mighty have fallen!

He just didn’t even try to make an effort to escape. And when he finally mustered the brain cells to try, the girls caught him easily. One particular highlight being in one of the only tense moments in the film; Reeves looks set to break free . . .  Only to trip over something. Face palm.

What sucked was that this was probably one of Keanu’s most liveliest performances in the last decade. He really went for it. It’s a shame that it came off a whole lot laughable than it should have.

Izzo (Roth’s wife. Funny that) and Armas played the parts as well as they could but it felt like something out of Scary Movie than anything else. Misery had suspense and tension. An atmosphere hanging off every scene. And that was with two people.

And to make matters worse, there were only ever going to be two outcomes with a film like this. And both were predictable and terrible. Seriously, in the cinema, most people were laughing or talking among themselves. Uninterested and rightly so.

Knock, knock? Who’s there? Oh, the Keanu Reeves horror flick? Now, that’s a joke.

1.5/5

JOHN WICK REVIEW

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Woah! If you’re looking for a half decent action flick, I’d pick Wick.

An ex-hitman (Keanu Reeves) comes out of retirement to track down the gangsters that took everything from him.

Reeves’ deadpan delivery and ultra-serious demeanour have finally found its home.

This is probably the best I’ve seen him act in some time. His whispery voice, stone faced pallor and wooden delivery suited the mystery action man.

What I liked about John Wick was that it didn’t mess around. It set the premise up and got down to business. The only gripe I had about the opening was that it was a flashback. We watch Wick collapse to the floor bleeding out while looking at a video of his wife.

It wasn’t necessary and while everything else was entertaining enough, that little niggle kept reminding me that this was all a flashback. The hitman will get hit.

Wick gets the adorable little beagle within the first few minutes. And loses him with fifteen. I kid you not.

We get a sense of the isolated life that John has made for himself straight away. You could relate to his frustration and aggression quite easily. His angry test track burn out on an empty airfield demonstrated that perfectly.

I expected more flashbacks or flickers between him and his wife. Bridget Moynahan (Blue Bloods) had the easiest job going. What is it with directors giving talented supporting actresses meaningless roles? An extra could have played her part.

Now I must reiterate that this is not just a revenge movie over a dog. Apologies to the RSPCA lovers but the dog is merely a symbol of John’s love and grief. The fact he was not allowed to grieve.

That right metaphorically taken from him in the form of a bludgeoned beagle. The death was off screen and done as subtly as possible for anyone who doesn’t fancy seeing a little pup punished. So John seeks out vengeance on the idiots who thought it was funny to cross him.

If anything, it was all over a car. A Mustang. Wick didn’t want to sell and Alfie Allen’s cocky spoilt gangster brat Iosef Tarasov REALLY wanted it. What a fool. He really picked the wrong guy.

Alfie Allen (Game of Thrones) may be getting type cast at the moment with playing creeps but he does it so well. A snarly little toe rag in desperate need of a slap or two.

The mystery surrounding Wick and his past are never really explained or explored. It’s infuriating in one instance but great in another. I loved the respect and code of honour among the gangsters and assassins in this seemingly ruthless and cutthroat business.

Michael Nyqvist (The original Girl With The Dragon Tattoo) was superb. A perfect adversary to Wick. His reaction when his son informs him that he has stolen from Wick. Fear, terror and anger.

The build up was just right. The gangsters preparing for battle. Wick breaking up a hidden briefcase with gold and guns under his concrete floor. You know. The usual.

The gold? Some strange currency that the assassins pay each other off with. Baffling. A gold coin here and there. No questions asked.

I like to have everything resolved. It’s not as if everything wasn’t self explanatory. BUT I wanted to know more about the underbelly and society that Wick desperately tried to escape. Not bad for a shoot em up. I actually wanted to know more about the story.

The hotel was an interesting set up. It added an extra dimension to something that should have been a bog standard actioner. The establishment even has rules. No killing without cause or authority. Mental.

There was quite a good supporting cast. Shame that some weren’t really used to their full potential. Adrianne Palicki (Friday Night Lights) was stunning as the sultry assassin out to break said rules. Ian McShane (Deadwood) was pretty much Ian McShane but played the hotel owner Winston with aplomb. I wanted more of him. Scene stealing at every chance.

John Leguizamo and Lance Reddick (Fringe) were reduced to small roles. They did their best with the parts. Reddick with his stern prowess as The Hotel Manager being a particular highlight.

Considering Reeves is 50, he can still kick an ass or two. Not quite ready for the Expendables scrap heap yet. If a Matrix reboot (Because let’s be honest, it’s only a matter of time) was ever on the cards, he could still do it.

The fight sequences were fast, frantic and furious. If a little repetitive. There are so many hand gun combinations you can do in a fight scene without them being flat out ridiculous or just tedious.

It was a lot better than I expected. Violent, brutal and mental in one instance. Mysterious and intriguing the next. The pace may dither in parts and the end result was always going to be a predictable one but I can certainly commend the writers for trying to do something a little different or at least make it worth watching.

3/5

47 RONIN REVIEW

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The Not so Magnificent 47?

Or as many critics have called it. The 90 million dollar flop?!

Watchable, if a little patchy and predictable, with great visuals that worked well in 3D.

47 Ronin is a fantastical take on an Chushingura (a Japanese fictional account) about a group of samurai who avenged their master in 18th Century Japan.

We watch outcast Kai (Reeves) as he is taken in by the samurai after being raised and trained by demons (Still with me? Good). The obvious ensues, in which Reeves is never really accepted BUT their master Lord Asano still continues to keep him around. To make matters worse, an obvious and cliched forbidden romance brews between Reeves and Asanos’ daughter (the beautiful Ko Shibasaki).

It all got a little bogged down with backstory that wasn’t really interesting and quite befuddling with Asano being tricked into attacking his rival Kira (Tadanobu Asano) by Kira’s own sorceress, the alluring Mizuki (Rinko Kinuchi). Some hoodoo about dishonour and Asano is ordered to commit suicide by the Shogun. Leaving Kira to marry Asano’s daughter.

However, Kai and Asano’s loyal servant Vassal Oishi (Hiroyuki Sanada) team up with the rest of the banished samurai to prevent the wedding and avenge their shamed master. It was all a little by the book relieved by a few outstanding visual pieces. 

A beautiful mess. The Last Samurai with demons. The feudal Japan landscape was visually stunning. The opening sequence in which the samurai hunted down a demon was fantastic. The 3D was impressive with blades, trees and demons flying out at ya!

Keanu was dreadfully wooden in this outing. He looked the part BUT my God. A tree giant from The Lord of The Rings could have done a better job. Luckily, he managed to muster some chemistry in the final minutes with Shibasaki.

Kira’s villain was quite pathetic and very passive. If not for Kinuchi’s sorceress, the pair would have been the worst villains since Bambi and Thumper in Diamonds Are Forever. Sanada was very good. It’s great to see him getting awarded with bigger roles, especially after his supporting roles in Revenge and the epic Last Samurai.

Luckily where 47 Ronin lacks in originality, it redeems itself with animation, special effects and choreographed fight sequences (The little that there was). The props, sets and costumes were stunning. Except for Hiroyuki Tagawa. It was incredibly hard to take the main Shogun seriously when he looks like an angry Humpty Dumpty. 

The slave ship fight sequence was spectacular. Racy, action packed, more please! The visuals on the demon master that trained Reeves? Not so much. Looked more like Eagle from the Muppets :/

The questionable running time did drag in parts and felt like it was building up for a big finale. A big gamble if the finale doesn’t deliver. Luckily, it was a sight to see.

The animation went borderline overkill with Kikuchi’s sorceress transforming into an agitated Japanese Falcor. The Matrix nerd in me was buzzing. That sequence was how I wanted Matrix Revolutions to end with the OZ-esque head made of Squiddies battling it out with Neo.

It was easy to dissect the plot holes BUT what annoyed me was that the filmmakers created this incredible visual world that inhabited demons and sorcery. However, in trying to stay true to the retelling of the Ronin, they didn’t do enough with the fantasy element.

That was it’s secret weapon and what separated it from the numerous retellings of the samurai tale. BUT the demons just made random appearances to break up the monotonous story and the spiritual stuff didn’t really kick off until the finale. Stunning and entertaining but too little, too late?

A watchable BUT eye catching mess. However, for those familiar with the samurai culture, once their objective is achieved, there is only one ending (without spoiling too much).

If you’re a fan of the samurai or fantasy, then give it a go. Not the worst, but certainly not the best.

2.5/5