Taken 2 (2012)

Listen to Me Carefully, Kim.  Your Mother is Going to be Taken.

Taken 2 (2012)It’s been a while since I was last inspired by a RedBox.  You’ll eventually come to find that the two movies I picked on this day were not inspired, but were picked with a shrug.  And that hurts me to admit about today’s movie.  This movie’s predecessor was the tits.  It smacked you in the face with its penis and downright dared you not to like it, but you still could not. At least I could not.  I loved the first movie so much that I instantly became excited when I saw that IMDb said they were making a sequel when I was writing the review for the first movie.  But then doubt began to sink in.  What if this was just a money grab?  This was a dangerous situation, and one that demanded caution on my part.  So I gave it some time after it came out, only to find that fans and critics alike did not seem to be enjoying the sequel.  In despair, I waited until the movie finally found its way to a RedBox before I was willing to give it a shot.  This movie is Taken 2, written by Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen, directed by Olivier Megaton, and starring Liam Neeson, Famke Janssen, Maggie Grace, Rade Šerbedžija (one of few names I’ve had to copy and paste to spell correctly), Leland Orser, Jon Gries, D.B. Sweeney, Luke Grimes, and Kevork Malikyan.

After the events of the first movie, the Albanian mob find themselves a little sore over how many people Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) awesomed all over.  They set their mind on taking revenge, but ONLY if coincidence brings him and his family onto their continent.  Thankfully for the mob leader Murad (Rade Šerbedžija), Bryan is going to Istanbul on a short assignment and he’s invited his ex-wife Lenore (Famke Janssen) and their daughter Kim (Maggie Grace) out for a vacation.  Oh man!  Someone is about to get taken up in this piece!  Hell, maybe two!  …Oh yeah, there’s also some shit about Kim failing her driver’s test, and also she has a boyfriend that Bryan doesn’t like.  That is probably also as crucial to the story as the taken stuff.

What Olivier did to the Taken series really was like dropping a 10 Megaton bomb on it.  I winced when I thought of that.  Then I decided to share it with you.  This movie was disappointing.  It didn’t manage to capture a sliver of the awesomeness of its predecessor.  It tried to compare itself to the original by not really changing the story at all, and did the dumbest version of amping it up I’ve seen in a while.  The story for the first movie was never that complex, but you can’t just say, “This time, TWO people get taken.  That’s why we named the movie Taken TWO!  We are the most clever mother fuckers that ever were!”  But at least the first movie knew to take their simple story and slap some awesome on it to overcome their problems.  In this movie, the dumb daughter is saving Liam?  Fuck that!  Liam does the saving in this family!  They also really seemed exhausted by the possibility of writing dialogue in this movie.  They’d get started strong and then fall asleep before the sentence ended.  Like when Kim was talking to Bryan about what Lenore said about when they met.  She said, “When you met, it was … super special.”  That line was super special.  That’s like fuckin’ poetry.  Emily fuckin’ Dickinson over here!  …Is that a poet?  The biggest problem I had with the movie was, sadly, the premise for the entire movie.  The villain’s motivation made no sense, but it’s also something you see a lot in action movies.  Obviously, if you kill a mobster’s son, he’s coming after you.  That seems logical.  But where’s the logical side of his brain when it comes to the reason this guy killed his son?  He killed your son because your son was going to sell his daughter into the sex slavery trade.  If I had a kid and he was killed trying to do something horrible to someone, I’d say, “Well, that’ll happen.  Now no one will know what a shitty job I did raising the boy.”  I guess that wouldn’t have made for a very interesting movie, and they even point out that break in logic in the movie, but the mobster is having none of that.

The action of the movie was okay, but I never really felt that thrilled about it.  I didn’t even like looking at most of the movie.  For some reason, they decided that the only proper way to display this movie to us was to crank the saturation of it up to 11.  I don’t remember the first movie being so ugly that I didn’t want to even look at it.  They did a few vaguely clever things in the movie – such as Bryan telling Kim to set off grenades so that he could count how long it took for the sound to reach him – but they also did some dumb things.  I know that Movie Making 101 says that when someone hangs up a phone, the other person hears the dial tone so that they can stare at the phone and look morose.  But this is the smartphone generation and iPhones don’t do that.  The fisticuffs in the movie didn’t happen nearly often enough for my liking, but when they did they were mostly fine.  The last fight was the one that caused the most problems for me, but mainly just because I didn’t know how Bryan ended it.  He was fighting what was basically the Albanian version of him, and they were going punch for punch for the majority of the fight, but then Bryan dropped him on his back and slid him down into a seated position.  Did he just knock the wind out of him so well that he never got it back?  ‘Cause that dude was dead from something the Three Stooges used to do every day.  If you want to say that Bryan slammed the dude down on the corner and broke his neck or something, then I’m going to have to ask you to show your work.  Did you learn nothing from math class?

The cast in this movie did a fine enough job, but most of the characters got on my nerves.  Maggie Grace as the daughter most of all.  First of all, her memory is super short term.  Right in the beginning of this movie, she gets all pissy with Liam because he interrupts her boyfriend trying to get to second base with her.  Have you already forgotten that he also interrupted a Sheik making you the Thursday wife in his harem?  I think he’s got a bit of a head start on you ever getting angry at him again for his fatherly duties.  I also felt like she brought a lot of the stuff to the movie that I felt was wasted space, such as her driving test stuff and the stuff about her boyfriend.  Also, at the end when you have your boyfriend come have a milkshake with the family, the line, “Don’t shoot this one,” was maybe in poor taste.  Liam might take it poorly because his daughter thinks he’s a mindless killer, and the boyfriend probably wants to keep the fact that Liam will literally kill the shit out of him out of his mind for as long as possible.  Liam brought as much awesome as he could to the movie, but there really wasn’t much he could do to salvage it.  I did think that a good father and driving instructor would have told his daughter good job on outrunning that train, but that she should never do that again.  Famke had a pretty easy job on this movie because about halfway in she got really drowsy and spent the rest of the movie half asleep.  But the worst performances in this movie were definitely the Albanian mobsters.  They’re trying to sneak up on the ex-CIA guy that killed the shit out of all their buddies, but their idea of incognito is to be the only people in all of Istanbul wearing track suits like they were a uniform.

Taken 2 was not a good movie, but I’m still excited for the possibility of a Taken 3.  Taken was awesome enough to give them a third chance.  The story was the story from Taken, amped up in the most unimaginative way it could be, and it didn’t even have good enough action to counter-balance that.  You could say that the first movie set the bar too high, but I feel like this movie would’ve sucked with or without the comparison.  There’s no good reason to watch this movie.  Taken 2 gets “Hey Dad, please don’t shoot this one” out of “When a dog has a bone, the last thing you want to do is take it from him.”

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Taken (2008)

I Told You So!: The Movie

After the last three movies, I didn’t feel like I needed to clean my brain with a good movie, or a meaningful movie.  I needed to clean my brain with an awesome movie.  I had originally seen today’s movie in the theaters, knowing nothing about it and expecting nothing out of it.  Later, when it came out on DVD, I bought that shit post haste.  I’ve seen it a few times since then, but I have not reviewed it yet.  And I had a hankering for this movie for a little while now so I figured now was the best time to sate my need for it, and knock a review out while I’m at it.  This movie is Taken, written by Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen, directed by Pierre Morel, and starring Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen, Xander Berkeley, Nicolas Giraud, Arben Bajraktaraj, Gerard Watkins, Olivier Rabourdin, Leland Orser, Jon Gries, David Warshofsky, Katie Cassidy, and Holly Valance.

Retired CIA agent Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) is trying to build a better relationship with his daughter, Kim (Maggie Grace), but it’s made into an uphill battle by her bitch ass mom, Lenore (Famke Janssen), and her rich, one-upping stepfather Stuart (Xander Berkeley).  Knowing that Kim wants to be a singer, he gets her a karaoke machine for her birthday, and tries to get her in with pop singer Sheerah (Holly Valance) while on a job with his former colleague Sam (Leland Orser), but she shuts him down.  Well, she does until Bryan saves her life with extreme prejudice from a knife-wielding assailant.  She responds by offering to pay for a singing coach for Kim and get her in touch with an agent.  Bryan goes to lunch to present Kim with this good news, but Kim and Lenore confront Bryan with Kim’s desire to go to Paris with her friend, Amanda (Katie Cassidy), to look at some museums.  Bryan’s hesitant, knowing what kinds of dangers face young girls on their own overseas, but they lay the guilt trip on him so thick that he relents and allows her to go, as long as she keeps him up to speed with what’s happening.  When she gets to France, she meets a nice boy named Peter (Nicolas Giraud) who invites her and Amanda to a party, but changes his mind and tells the Albanian Mafia to come and abduct them and turn them into prostitutes.  Kim watches it go down from a window while talking to her dad, and he leads her through the situation, but tells her she will be taken.  But Bryan has a particular set of skills that means a lot of people are going to get injured until he finds his daughter.

This movie is the tits.  The big fat floppy tits!  This movie might not be the smartest movie I’ve ever watched, but it would arguably be one of the most awesome.  The story of the movie is nothing special, but it’s still very satisfying.  The story is a pretty simple situation of someone being abducted and someone going to rescue her, with a little bit of the classic coming out of retirement story in there.  I found some of the dialogue in the movie blunt and unimpressive, like the scene at the barbecue and the scene where Bryan is playing poker with his former colleagues.  These scenes are very obvious exposition scenes, with them saying things along the lines of, “Remember that time when we were in the CIA and you were really good and I’d hate to be someone that kidnapped your daughter.  Remember that, buddy?”  Exposition can be painful to listen to, especially when it’s largely unnecessary because it happens right before the scene of Bryan laying a cold ass-whooping on the guy with the knife that tries to Selena that Sheerah lady.  That’s all I needed to decide this guy was a badass with skills.  That AND the fact that he wraps presents like a champ.  And I felt the biggest piece of dialogue was never used in the movie.  After Lenore had been such a dirty bitch to Bryan the whole movie and acted like he was being an asshole for thinking it was too dangerous for Kim to go to Paris without him, Bryan completely neglected to lay a nice, thick “I told you so” onto the lot of them when he was totally right about the whole thing.  Granted, he would’ve just been an asshole if she had gone and nothing had happened, but he was right, and I would’ve punched her bitch ass vagina clean off!  I feel the same way about the part where Kim is under the bed and he tells her she’s going to be taken.  At first, the bad guys seemed completely unaware that she was there.  I figured that she’d be pretty pissed if they left without her and he had seemed so quickly resigned to the fact that she’d be taken.  It would’ve been a fairly lackluster movie if that had happened though.  If you want some examples of good dialogue, it immediately follows that, when Bryan talks to the kidnapper Marco on the phone.  That speech goes down as one of the most badass speeches ever as Bryan tells Marco basically, “I’m a badass, you don’t want to fuck with me, and I’ll show you why if you don’t let her go.  …But don’t let her go, because the movie would be really short and not awesome if you don’t make me show off my badassness.”   At that point, we had already learned enough to think, “You don’t know what you’re getting yourself into!”  The speech he gives when he does find Marco is pretty good as well.

There was really nothing left to be desired from the action in this movie.  I found it all very satisfying.  They had great gun fights, hardcore hand-to-hand combat, and even some cool car chases.  I’ve always liked the form of fighting that they use in this movie.  It reminds me of the Bourne movies.  I’m not sure if it’s technically Krav Maga, but it looked like it.  It’s just a no nonsense, no frills type of fighting that makes your opponent unable to be in your way anymore.  It comes down to a lot of neck/back breaking and throat punching, and all of it’s good times for me.  ::SPOILER ALERT::  At the end of the movie, he has to fight this skinny, douchey-looking guard to a sheik.  It bummed me out because he was able to hold his own against Bryan who had, up to this point, not met anyone he couldn’t destroy in a couple of moves.  Though I didn’t like seeing my man challenged by this guy, it made sense for him to have a challenging fight at the end of the movie, and the ass-whipping he laid upon him was very satisfying.  I was also surprised at how his daughter reacted to him shooting the sheik because she seemed shocked by it, whereas I would’ve yelled, “Dad!  You is the fuckin’ tits!”  And, at the very end of the movie, I was surprised to see Lenore thanking Bryan for saving their daughter.  With how much of a bitch she was through the rest of the movie, I would’ve figured she’d say, “Oh what?  You could only save ONE of them?  This is so typical, Bryan!”  I know the last two don’t really fit with the action paragraph, but I wanted to keep my spoilers together.  ::END SPOILERS::   The car chases were pretty standard stuff, and car chases have never really held a lot of interest for me.  What I did like from the first one was how the car ran full speed into a bulldozer’s blade, cutting halfway into the top of the car like it was butter.

All of the performances in this movie really worked as well.  There wasn’t a point in the movie where Liam Neeson really had to get emotional, but that actually works as a good thing for this movie.  We already know he can act; he doesn’t need to show off.  But having his emotions so under control under circumstances where most people would be freaking out makes him that much more of a badass.  My favorite bit of badassness was when he shot a guy’s wife out of nowhere.  LIKE A BOSS!  You’ll know it when you see it, but it was so stone cold badass that I would’ve offered my anal virginity to the guy as a sacrifice.  Maggie Grace had to do a lot of damsel in distress work in the movie.  I couldn’t decide if her character was believable or not because 17-year-old girls only like U2 because they want to seem smart and they haven’t found better music yet.  And people that like U2 don’t also like pop stars like this Sheerah.  I definitely hate-fucked the shit out of Famke Janssen’s character in this movie, but that was what she was going for.  I know some divorced people are like that, but you bitches can at least act like you’re being civil in front of your kid at her birthday party.  And yes, I blame her completely.  I thought Arben Bajraktaraj was cool as the short-lived character Marko, but mainly just because I was really convinced by him as he was being tortured.  In no small part due to the veins in his neck looking like they were going to explode.  And I thought Leland Orser was cool, but mainly because every time I see him I think of him either crying because he fucked a girl to death with a sword dildo in Seven, or crying because there was an alien in him in Alien: Resurrection.

Taken is one of the best movies to just shut your brain off and enjoy.  It’s not a dumb movie, per se, but the story is pretty basic and the dialogue is either nothing special or wicked awesome.  Liam Neeson and the action scenes make this movie a fantastic action flick.  This movie is total fun times that should be enjoyed by anyone.  And you should go and enjoy it right now.  I have it on DVD, I SHOULD have it on BluRay, and you should have it in some form or another.  Taken gets “I have a particular set of skills” out of “Now’s not the time for dick measuring, Stuart!”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook (Robert T. Bicket) and Twitter (iSizzle).  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

Wasabi (2001)

Just Arrived and Already in Deep Shit

I would assume that the greater majority of my audience has not heard of today’s movie.  If I’ve not heard of a movie – with my vast and nearly complete knowledge of movies – then there is no way anyone else has.  Well, in this occasion, someone else had.  A friend made by these very reviews, Kendra, suggested that I review this movie and, though I am a fan of some of the people involved in this movie, I was unaware of the movie’s existence.  Heading boldly into the unknown, let’s see if Wasabi was any good, written by Luc Besson, directed by Gerard Krawczyk, and starring Jean Reno, Ryoku Hirosue, Michel Muller, Yoshi Oida, and Carole Bouquet.

Hubert Florentini (Jean Reno) is a cop that gets results, but through unconventional, and generally illegal, methods.  Yes, we’ve all seen that exact cop thousands of times before, but we’ve rarely seen a French one.  Hubert is put on suspension for one such unconventional display he’s put on, but he doesn’t know what to do with his free time.  19 years ago, the love of his life – a Japanese girl named Miko – left him with no explanation and he hasn’t let it go.  Just as he decides he should let it go, he gets a call that she’s died and he needs to go to Japan to get the stuff she left him.  One such thing that she’s left to Hubert is her daughter, Yumi (Ryoko Hirosue), who is coincidentally 19 years old.  Well it turns out Yumi is Hubert’s daughter, and Miko left her a large sum of money that she’ll have access to in 2 days when she becomes an adult.  Hubert hides the fact that he’s her father from her for a while as he tries to find out where this money came from and what Miko’s been up to for the past 19 years.

Wasabi was okay.  I was happy enough with it by the end of the movie, but there wasn’t really anything in it that impressed me.  We’ve probably all seen the movie with the awesome cop that doesn’t play by the rules.  We’ve probably even seen that guy find out he has a daughter that he now has to take care of, but it doesn’t go well.  It doesn’t really include any surprises in the story and keeps itself pretty typical.  That could be overcome in this action comedy if the action was awesome or the comedy was funny.  The action in the movie was kind of lackluster.  There were a few occasions when Hubert punched or shot some people and they flew further than you’d think was humanly possible, but it never really escalated past that.  It wasn’t really cool and stylized action, it was just a couple of punches or bullets and then moving on.  I did find some of the dialogue clever, but it never really reached a point where it made me laugh.  The setting was nice though, but that’s more due to Tokyo looking pretty cool.  And I get the feeling, with all of the hot chicks and video games that movies have taught me are there, that I need to just learn Japanese and movie to Tokyo already.  Then again, I do not endorse the idea of getting Jean Reno on a Dance Dance Revolution machine.  That’s a shitty game and you’re killing my image of Jean Reno by making him be ridiculous.  I was also confused by some parts of the movie, and the movie didn’t bother to let the American audience in on things, though I blame my own ignorance to how other countries work.  I was really confused by the fact that they kept talking about what would happen when 19-year-old Yumi was legally an adult, but people are apparently not considered adults in Japan until they’re 20.  I didn’t find that out until about an hour after the movie ended.  Also, why would a person in Japan know how to speak French?  It’s like a person in America knowing how to speak French.  And people act like that was a ridiculous decision for me!  Won’t be so ridiculous when I get to help Jean Reno and his daughter next time they come to town, will it?!

The two main performances in this movie worked out for me, but the bulk of the remaining cast made no impression or got on my nerves.  I love Jean Reno, though.  He can do badass as well as he can do emotion and vulnerability.  He can do comedy too, but that stuff has to be written funny to be able to be delivered as funny.  I found Ryoko Hirosue very cute, but a little exhausting.  She was usually running around and manic and that just wore me out.  She was able to slow down and pull off the emotional parts when she had to, though.  It also occurred to me while watching this movie that apparently Japanese girls think that beauty can be measured by how many colors you’re wearing at one time, or at least by how loud those colors are.  Most of the movie displayed her wearing something with a rainbow on it, or a bright orange jacket and matching tutu.  Even when she went to the funeral of her mother she was wearing something like this.  Some people go with all black, but you do what you gotta do.  Michel Muller got on my nerves through the bulk of the movie.  I don’t know who decided that these kinds of movies needed an annoying comic relief guy, but they don’t.  They just waste time.  He had parts in the movie where he was necessary, but he could have been normal and not failing to make the world laugh every time.

Wasabi was a fine enough movie, but I get the strong feeling that I’ve seen parts of it far too many times already.  The story was pretty typical, the action never really succeeded, but some of the dialogue was pretty clever, and I enjoyed both main characters.  Though I did think Wasabi was okay, I also don’t really think there’s any reason for you to see it.  If you could stream it on Netflix, I’d say it was okay if you couldn’t think of anything else.  But since you’d have to wait for the disc to come in through Netflix, you can skip it.  Wasabi gets “I can’t tell you the trouble we made” out of “With him, nothing takes long.”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook (Robert T. Bicket) and Twitter (iSizzle).  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

Colombiana (2011)

Never Forget Where You Came From

The last of the four RedBox movies that I rented, coming at you.  When I picked these four movies up from RedBox, I expected Footloose and Jack & Jill to suck (and was mostly right), and I expected The Thing and today’s movie to be good.  The Thing kind of disappointed me, but I still have one more to go.  I was vaguely interested in today’s movie when it was in theaters.  It looked like sort of a cool action/revenge movie with a hot and talented lead that I’ve liked in the past.  It was even written by someone who’s work I’ve enjoyed in the past.  Let’s see if the collaboration works out in my review of Colombiana, written by Luc Besson and Robert Karm Kamen, directed by Olivier Megaton (is that a real last name?), and starring Zoe Saldana, Jordi Molla, Cliff Curtis, Lennie James, Michael Vartan, and Amandla Stenberg.

A group of Colombian drug mafia guys go to a guy’s house and gun down him and his wife, looking for some special item that is in his possession.  Before getting killed, the dad gave the item to his daughter, Cataleya (Amandla Stenberg).  The leader, Marco (Jordi Molla), tries to get her to tell him where it is, but instead gets stabbed in the hand by her and she escapes, making it to the US embassy.  She vomits the item onto the Ambassador’s desk and it turns out to be a flash drive with valuable information on it.  This is enough to pay for her way to America, where she promptly escapes from the Department of Social Services and makes her way to her uncle, Emilio (Cliff Curtis).  It’s from him that Cataleya learns how to be an assassin.  15 years later, she’s Zoe Saldana.  Not a bad position to be in.  She’s also a pretty damned good killer because she’s good at hand to hand, stealth, good with any weapon, and who wouldn’t let her kill them?  Almost makes me wish I had killed her parents when she was young … oh wait … that wouldn’t help me have sex with her at all!  Well, she spends the rest of the movie trying to get revenge.

This movie pretty much delivered on everything I went into it wanting.  I wanted some cool action, and they gave me that, although it was a little more talkie and could’ve used some more action for my taste.  They had some, but they seemed to focus more on the story (which was a pretty typical revenge plot) and on trying to be a little too stylish with their action.  Some stylized action is nice, but too much of it and you’ve lost focus on the “action” part.  And if you’re not giving me enough action, then you’re relying on the story.  At first, I was a little bored with the movie because they spend too much time with Cataleya as a kid, before she was an ass-kicker.  I don’t care about that!  Give me Zoe Saldana in skintight things with her nipples poking out!  That’s why I came to this movie!  Then she gets to the killing, and that gets a little more interesting.  The first one has her going from a super tight miniskirt into an ultra tight jumpsuit, and I appreciated both.  But then she basically has to make a trip through the entire police office, up to the roof, down through the vents, and ends up at what seems to be the jail cell next door to the one she was in.  The rest of the action scenes were spread out between drama with her boyfriend, drama with her uncle, and the police trying to find out who was doing her killings, which I found completely insulting.  The cops are going through the footage of who was booked at the same time as the guy that got shot in the cell but, when they come across Cataleya, the main cop literally says “We’re not looking for a woman.  It’s not possible.”  Really, dick?  How could you forget that the rest of your line was “How could she possibly kill people while dragging around all of the kids AND still finding the time to get the dishes and the laundry done?”  There’s no way a woman could point a gun and pull a trigger, asshole?  Do their tits get in the way?  Luckily, Zoe has nice little ones so that she can still put her hands together in front of her in order to aim a gun, unlike 99% of the other women in the world.  I wanted that scene to keep going with another cop saying “But sir, she was the only other person in the prison that night” and him saying “Hmmmm… I got it!  He shot himself in the chest 5 times with the gun he didn’t have!  Case closed!  Good work, gentlemen.”  The action in the movie was fairly well done (where it was done at all), but most took the form of big shootouts, which I don’t find that interesting generally.  At the end, there’s a good fist fight that I enjoyed.  It was reminiscent of a fight from one of the Bourne movies because the person with the inferior weapon (in this case, a towel) is able to beat the shit out of a person with a superior weapon (in this case, a gun).  I liked the similar scene in Bourne where he kicked someone’s ass with a towel and a book.  I did think it was weird that she stabbed the guy a few times with a toothbrush, and also stabbed him in the shoulder with the slide of his gun.  I thought the last part was especially weird because (unless the bad guy was made of pudding) I don’t think you could stab someone with a slide.  And if you did, you’d probably want to do it in the heart or something.  You can come back from a shoulder wound.

I honestly can’t remember anyone in this movie beyond the star.  Every performance besides her and possibly Cliff Curtis made no impact whatsoever.  Zoe Saldana was great, and great to look at.  I watched this with my roommate, who decided to make fun of her for being too skinny.  But when she got down into her underwear and he saw her ass, she shut his mouth but good.  Me, I kind of like skinny womens, so I was down all the way.  She goes for a lot of skintight clothing in this movie, and even her loose clothing is kind of sheer and almost see through, so my eyes were fixed on her most of the time.  Oh yeah, her performance was good too.  I was charmed by her when she was masquerading as a drunk girl in her first scene, but that scene kind of lost it’s impact because it was spoiled in every trailer I saw for the movie.  The rest of the time she was a cold hard bitch of a killing machine, except for one scene where she allowed herself to be vulnerable, and she pulled that off as well.  There was one thing about that scene that always bothered me, and that was the way she held her “f” in the word “front” as she said “He killed my parents … in ffffffffffffffffront of me.”  First off, no they didn’t.  They were in the other room when they were gunned down.  Then she held the f in a weird way that’s always stuck in my mind for some reason.  Cliff Curtis was also good in this movie, but not in a way that causes me to have something to say about it.

Colombiana turned out to be a pretty standard action/revenge movie.  The story was fairly predictable, and one you’ve seen before.  The action was good, but spread out too much by the story I wasn’t that interested in.  And the performance of Zoe Saldana was smokin’ hot.  Also good.  I really need to remember that part.  Either way, I don’t feel like I can tell you that you SHOULD see this movie, but I’m alright saying you probably won’t hate it if you do.  It’s entertaining enough, but just a little slow and not very noteworthy.  Colombiana gets “If you want to be a killer and survive, you got to be a smart one” out of “My parents were killed … in fffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffront of me.”

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From Paris with Love (2010)

Wax On, Wax Off

Today’s movie was a total whim-watch. I saw it on Netflix streaming and I said “…Yeah, I think I’ll do that.” I remember it coming out and thought “Meh”, but that was before I was an Indie Movie Reviewer. With my current “job” title, I felt this was a good enough excuse. And that is the very short, fairly pointless story behind my decision to watch From Paris with Love, written by Luc Besson and Adi Hasak, directed by Pierre Morel, and starring Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, John Travolta, Kasia Smutniak, Richard Durden and Amber Rose Revah.

James Reese (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers) is a personal aide to a U.S. Ambassador in France, but he has aspirations to get a promotion in his side job; to go from low-ranking CIA operative to high-ranking CIA operative. He’s also engaged to a French girl named Caroline (Kasia Smutniak). He gets the promotion opportunity in the form of a temporary partner by the name of Charlie Wax (John Travolta). James is a bit of a by the books kind of guy, but Charlie likes killing people. They start in on a drug ring in France and that leads them into a plot to unleash a suicide bomber in a meeting that Reese’s boss, Ambassador Bennington (Richard Durden), will be at. And then they must stop it.

It didn’t take very long to get through the story of this movie, mainly because it’s not super plot heavy. It’s pretty much just a big dumb action movie, but it also seems to try to use the fact that they cast John Travolta in it to try to hardcore swagger jack Quentin Tarantino. And they try to do that a pretty good amount, so much so that I wonder how they got away with it. I assume Travolta is why they get away with it, but it could also be because they did a piss poor job of it and it flew under the radar. I had heard Travolta’s character compared to his performance in Pulp Fiction, and there are similarities, but it’s more like Vincent hopped up on Red Bull through the entire movie. They try to emulate Tarantino’s dialogue style, but you can only talk about things that have nothing to do with the movie if it’s well-written and interesting. No one told them this. They did totally throw a couple of “Royal with Cheese” references in the movie, which I would normally think was funny that they referenced another of an actor’s really famous performances, but when I had already been thinking that they were trying to rip off Tarantino, that joke only served to cement it. The rest of the story was no more interesting than the dialogue. It’s pretty simple and the only surprise they go for I thought in about the first 10 minutes of the movie. It happened in a similar way as I predicted the end of The Village when I leaned over to my friend in the very first scene of the movie and said ::DIFFERENT MOVIE SPOILER ALERT:: “I bet it’s going to turn out to be 1998 outside of the village”, and then I was right.::END SPOILER:: I thought that as a joke! Why would you actually make it a plot point?! Well, that’s how I did it here too. I thought it was too obvious to happen, but it did. And, because I like to, let’s talk things that didn’t make sense to me. There was a huge plot point in this movie about Rhys-Meyers trying to charge his phone. After it first died from low battery, he took the battery out, rubbed it against his sleeve, and tried it again. Do you think this shit charges from static electricity?! You’d have to do it a lot longer than that! Also, the last big speech to talk the suicide bomber out of getting in on all those sweet, sweet virgins in heaven did not work for me at all. The dialogue seemed rushed and crappy/sappy, but the actual end of that scene did catch me off guard. It was not as I expected at all.

There were only about 3 notable performances in this movie altogether: Rhys-Meyers, Travolta, and maybe a little Smutniak. All of them pretty mediocre. Rhys-Meyers never really did anything to make me pay attention to him. He had a little love story going on, a little trial and tribulations with love and work, a little bit of rising to the call when you’re needed, a little bit of reaching a breaking point with something, but none of which really worked for me. Travolta’s performance was mediocre, but in a different way. There were parts of this movie where Travolta was a badass, usually around the fighting and shooting scenes. He worked in these scenes. But then the character would just get on my nerves in the rest of the scenes. And when you’re half good, half bad, you come out just mediocre. Speaking of which, Kasia Smutniak. Her character was important to the story, but rarely featured in person. She shows up in the beginning as the girlfriend, pops up briefly in the middle, then is a big part in the end. The rest of the movie she’s just on the phone or being talked about. I found her character arc to be fairly predictable and I wasn’t interested.

The only real reason I can think of to watch this movie is the action scenes. They’re mostly well done. There are a couple of good shootout scenes, a couple good fist fights, and at least one decent car chase. The best of them was probably the fist fight where Travolta single-handedly whoops up 8 dudes with melee weapons. That scene was pretty badass. I could’ve used some more good action, but the scenes that were there were well done.

This is a thoroughly okay, perhaps forgettable, movie. The story of the movie is a bit straight forward, and dialogue either attempts to rip off Quentin Tarantino or just straight out sucks, but it’s got some solid action that might make the movie good enough to look at. I don’t think I’d recommend it to anyone, but it is available on Netflix streaming, so if you’ve got nothing better to do and just wanna see some punch face and shoot things, you could do worse. From Paris with Love gets “Shoot the fucker” out of “Did you save the world again, baby”.

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