I’m Richard Roeper and coming up next, Academy Award winners Sean Penn and Javier Bardem star in the international action thriller “The Gunman.” I’m pretty sure it’s not a musical! My review right now.
The most shocking thing in “The Gunman” might be that 54-year-old Sean Penn seems to have taken out a membership at The Sylvester Stallone School of Insanely Rippled and Veiny Muscles. With free bronzing sessions thrown in!
No wait. The most shocking thing: two Oscar winners giving maybe the worst performances of their respective careers in the same movie.
Penn plays Jim Terrier, a military contractor and special ops gunman in strife-torn Congo in 2006. It’s dangerous work, but Jim’s having the time of his life, what with all the male-bonding drinking–plus he’s shacking up with the beautiful and exotic Annie, a saintly doctor at the local clinic.
Ah, but Javier Bardem’s Felix is obsessed with Annie. He arranges for Jim to be the triggerman and take out the country’s Minister of Mining. That means Jim has to leave the continent and Felix can swoop in on Annie! Bahahahaha.
Cut to eight years later. Jim’s trying to make amends by working for a relief organization in the Congo. Some of his former colleagues are now businessman in London. Felix and Annie are married and living in Barcelona. Then someone puts out a hit on Jim, and all hell and violence and muddled intrigue breaks loose.
Shootouts, car chases, “Bourne Identity” combat sequences shot with hand-held cameras in extreme closeups.. Where have we seen this before? I know! In a HUNDRED OTHER MOVIES.
Bardem’s Felix is such a wasted opportunity. Instead of being a worthy adversary, he’s a drunken, insecure fool. And the great Bardem hams it up to the point I thought he might grab his chest and keel over.
Meanwhile, Jim keeps finding excuses to take off his shirt and casually flex his pecs. He’s also suffering from post-concussion syndrome, which Penn portrays by grabbing his head in agony and screaming, as his vision goes blurry and his ears ring while he has horrible flashbacks. It’s a cheap and obvious way to portray a very real and very serious condition.
Filled with gruesome violence in which the camera lingers on victims after they’ve been stabbed in the throat or gored by a bull (I’m not kidding) or shot in the heart, “The Gunman” veers dangerously close to camp in the final scenes. If you make it that far without walking out. I give it a big fat D.
I’m Richard Roeper and coming up next, Liam Neeson has to go “Non-Stop” before he’s “Taken” and he’ll have to take a “Walk Among the Tombstones.” It’s my review of “Run All Night,” right now.
At 62, Liam Neeson is arguably the baddest tough guy in all of movies. (I’d say the 60-year-old Denzel Washington is his main competition). And even though it feels as if we’ve seen this movie before, “Run All Night” is a stylish and kinetic thriller, with Neeson at his gritty, world-weary best, some of the coolest camera moves in recent memory and a Hall of Fame villain in the great Ed Harris.
Neeson’s Jimmy Conlon, once the most feared hit man in the New York underworld is now a broken-down, booze-soaked joke. He’s allowed to hang around only because of his lifelong friendship with Brooklyn mob boss Shawn Maguire, played by Ed Harris, in a perfectly modulated performance.
When Jimmy’s estranged son Mike happens to witness Shawn’s no-good son Danny gunning down an Albanian heroin dealer, relationships change with the crack of a gunshot.
From that moment, it’s a 16-hour marathon, with Mike reluctantly teaming up with his father to avoid the army of thugs trying to kill them, and the scores of cops who believe Jimmy and Mike have committed murder.
This is one great-looking film. An extended sequence shot in the projects is expertly choreographed. A car chase becomes almost darkly funny when a civilian car is chasing a squad car with its lights flashing. The hand-to-hand fight scenes are brutally effective. A Rangers-Devils game at Madison Square Garden becomes the setting for an innovative escape scene.
Joel Kinnaman was wasted in the unnecessary reboot of “Robocop,” but he shows big-time movie star chops as Jimmy’s son. Vincent D’Onofrio is terrific as a veteran detective who has been trying to nail Jimmy for decades. Genesis Rodriguez does fine work in a smallish role as Mike’s pregnant wife.
Front and center, of course, is our man Liam, who is bloodied, bruised and battered, but keeps on coming. Neeson doesn’t try to win us over or make us believe Jimmy is experiencing a come-to-Jesus moment. He’s a killer at the end of the road, doing whatever he has to do ensure his son doesn’t become his last victim. I give “Run All Night” an A-.
I’m Richard Roeper and you can get all my reviews at richardroeper.com and on YouTube!
I’m Richard Roeper and coming up next, on the eve of March Madness, it’s the original “Cinderella” story. My review next!
Disney’s new live-action “Cinderella” movie is not some reboot filled with irony-laden dialogue, and that’s just fine. Not that your humble male reviewer isn’t a thousand percent in favor of well-told, cleverly updated takes on old-fashioned stories, e.g., “Frozen.” But there’s nothing wrong with a straightforward, beautifully done retelling of this classic tale.
It’s OK for your little girl to see this movie and to identify with Cinderella. She’s six. There’s still time for her to become a doctor and the president of the United States AND wear a fabulous dress on her wedding day.
Director Kenneth Branaugh and screenwriter Chris Weitz have fashioned an enchanting, exhilarating romantic adventure with gorgeous scenery, terrific sets, first-rate cinematography and Oscar-worthy costumes.
Of course, none of that brings the story home if the acting isn’t there. “Cinderella” has a wonderful cast, including Lily James (“Downton Abbey”), who has a marvelously expressive face and sparkles in the title role…Richard Madden (“Game of Thrones”), who takes the rather thankless Prince Charming role and actually gives it a little depth…;the great Stellan Skarsgard as the scheming, manipulative Grand Duke…and Cate Blanchett, who plays the evil stepmother as a cross between Maleficent and Joan Crawford in “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?” She’s deliciously terrifying.
You know how the story goes, from the death of Cinderella’s father to Cinderella braving the endlessly cruel treatment at the hands of her stepmother and stepsisters, to the pumpkin and the slipper and yada yada yada. It’s all in the telling of the tale, and on nearly every account the live-action “Cinderella” of 2015 is a worthy companion to the classic Disney animated feature from 1950. I give it an A!
I’m Richard Roeper and you can get all my reviews at richardroeper.com on the free RR app available on iTunes, and on YouTube and elsewhere on those Interwebs.
7-year-old Alex was born with his right arm partially developed but that’s no challenge for Limbitless. It’s a group Albert Manero started. They create 3D printed bionic limbs for kids around the world. In this video Robert Downey Jr., aka Iron Man surprises Alex with his bionic arm.
MORE ON LIMBITLESS: http://www.limbitless-solutions.org/
MORE ABOUT THE COLLECTIVE PROJECT:
Paramount Pictures announce ZOOLANDER 2, will open on February 12, 2016 (wide).
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