Review: John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017)

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“You stabbed the devil in the back. To him this isn’t vengeance, this is justice.”
– Winston

SYNOPSIS: After returning to the criminal underworld to repay a debt, John Wick discovers that a large bounty has been put on his life. – via IMDB

I’m pretty sure you all know that I am a pretty huge fan of John Wick, and I have been eagerly anticipating this sequel for quite some time. I trekked off to the cinema opening weekend for this, and I was not disappointed. It is a strong sequel to be sure. This is what most sequels wish they could bring to the table, but fail at more often that not.

Chapter 2 is everything John Wick was, but amplified. Bigger guns, more bullets, more hand to hand combat than you can shake a stick at, just more extravagant everything. It has plenty of throwbacks to John Wick, which is amusing. There is much of the same, but more, if that makes sense. The movie is exciting and the action is engaging, and again it embraces the fact that the story is relatively skinny and rolls with it, and so the viewer is, irresistibly, drawn in all over again. The movie keeps it simple with the story, and indulges with the visuals and the score. I also really enjoyed the humour that was present in Chapter 2 – still my kind of humour. Keanu Reeves dominates as John Wick, and I simply love watching him in character. Ian McShane is, as always, a joy, and Broyles Lance Reddick also brought the goods.

All that being said though, I also had some issues. I felt the movie was a touch long, and while finally getting to see more of this super mysterious, elaborate assassin/criminal underworld, there were some niggles to be had. I am looking here specifically at the end, making it look like every single person in the whole city has ties to this underground organisation. Really? Sometimes the humour also didn’t land quite as quick, fast, and slick and the predecessor.

While Chapter 2 is an entertaining watch that hooks you from the off, I just don’t see how and why it is considered to be the superior of the two films. Totally worth the watch though, and definitely a movie I will be revisiting. It is smooth, well choreographed, exciting, stunning to look at, and is just plain fun. Absolutely recommended.

Rapid Review: The Infiltrator (2016)

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the-infiltrator-poster
“This is what I do. I’m an undercover narcotics agent, I sit with murderers and made men and I lie. I lie my ass off.”
– Robert Mazur

SYNOPSIS: A U.S. Customs official uncovers a money laundering scheme involving Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar. – via IMDB

the-infiltrator-meeting

GRADE 7I was definitely up for checking this out because, well, Narcos totally has us hooked on anything pertaining to Pablo Escobar at the moment, and not to mention Bryan Cranston being a huge draw on his own. Back in the drug game? All aboard! I was pleased to see John Leguizamo in here, as I quite enjoy him, and Diane Kruger provided a solid performance, too. The performances were all quite good, although there were a lot of characters who were skipped over. The Infiltrator gives you the information you need for the movie in the setup, and then runs with the sting. My biggest issue is that, while this was good, it missed its chance to be great. All the potential was there, but the movie played it too safe and didn’t go for the guts. I was a fan of the way relationships were depicted in this, giving the viewer a look at how a situation can get sticky when you are undercover because you really can end up liking the people you are investigating, so situations are not always ideal, and they do have crazy effects. The biggest issue is that, while the cast was good, one would expect more about Escobar and his insane cocaine cartel, and the plot never really went all in, and the vestment of Mazur getting bust were relatively low. The poster makes it look like this guy went up against Escboar and survived, when in reality it was very little of that. The movie had the potential to pack more punch than it ultimately went for. This means that the movie is good, but it never hits the highs you want for it. Worth a look see, at any rate.

Rapid Review: Romeo + Juliet (1996)

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romeo+juliet poster

“Did my heart love ’til now? Forswear its sight. For I never saw true beauty ’til this night.”
– Romeo

SYNOPSIS: Classic story of Romeo and Juliet, set in a modern-day city of Verona Beach. The Montagues and Capulets are two feuding families, whose children meet and fall in love. They have to hide their love from the world because they know that their parents will not allow them to be together. There are obstacles on the way, like Juliet’s cousin, Tybalt, and Romeo’s friend Mercutio, and many fights. But although it is set in modern times, it is still the same timeless story of the “star crossed lovers”. – via IMDB

romeo+juliet couplerome+juliet

Gah! Can we just take a moment to truly appreciate DiCaprio’s beauty…

leonardo dicaprio hot

And then again in black and white because it stays so absolutely delicious:

dicaprio delicious

Just adding this one, too! 

romeo+juliet drugs

Some more…

romeo+juliet sheets

And because I certainly cannot resist one last one…

romeo+juliet leonardo smoking

GRADE 7.5DiCaprio. Need I say more? I suppose you might want some more, so I will give it to you. Romeo+Juliet is such a Baz Luhrmann experience, no two ways about it. It is extravagant, flamboyant, in-your-face and fabulous. I loved this movie when I was growing up, I thought it was a really great modernization of the play, which I enjoyed. Plus there was young, dreamy DiCaprio. We can’t even deny that. And to see a young Claire Danes, pre-cuckoo crazy Carrie Mathison is just wonderful. I think that Luhrmann did a good job bringing this forth in a new way. It was innovative, and to keep the dialogue as it was in the play is disconcerting and refreshing all at once. Grief, but these two kids were melodramatic as hell, I won’t even attempt to deny that. It is one heck of a disturbing and unhealthy relationship, and nobody can tell me otherwise about that. I am not even going to get into all the insanity of this relationship – true love, just sex, respect, what? – because I am sure we have all covered it in school a million times. The camera work was really snappy in the movie, and the way it would flow and then sometimes race and be all edgy was something that worked very well. I think the whole cast gave solid performances and it was great to see Paul Rudd, even though his role was minor. He’s such a sweetie! The costumes were something else in here, outrageous, loud, perfectly suited for the whole affair. I had a few good laughs throughout, and this movie, while not perfect, is definitely something worth spending time on and checking out – though some might need to keep a more open mind in terms of the modernization.

Review: John Wick (2014)

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john-wick-poster1

“John wasn’t exactly the boogeyman. He’s the one you sent to kill the fucking boogeyman.”
– Viggo Tarasov

SYNOPSIS: An ex-hitman comes out of retirement to track down the gangsters that took everything from him. – via IMDB

joh wick bullet dodge

GRADE 9Yes. Yes. Yes. That is all that I have to say. I was super amped to get to this and I must honestly say that it lived up to all my expectations and then some. I’ve watched this multiple times and it doesn’t get old, it doesn’t get boring. John Wick is, quite simply, just immense amounts of fun. Keanu Reeves is an actor that I thoroughly enjoy and will defend, bad movies and all. When he is properly cast, he owns, and that was precisely the case here. Plus, his outfits… hmmmmm.

John Wick is shot beautifully, touting a slightly washed out look but in-your-face neons that coloured it when necessary. It cannot be denied that the movie looked amazing, and had a pretty awesome score to carry it, too. I was a big fan of the action sequences, the choreography was simply stunning and I could not take my eyes off of it. I suppose having stuntmen directing this film gave it all the more oomph. The humour in here was dark and funny, and it certainly spoke to me.

Broyles Lance Reddick is an absolute hoot as the concierge at the front desk of the Continental, and I was so hoping that Ian McShane would get a line containing “cocksucker”, but no such luck (it would not have jibed with his character), it was awarded to someone else later on. Anyway, the plot is simple and straightforward, no silly bells and whistles and nothing to inundate it. The storytelling is deliberate, and within the first ten to fifteen minutes, you have what you need to understand everything and the plot moves on.

Wick is an impressive and enjoyable character, and I had quite a blast watching Bratva boss Viggo Tarasov quaking in his boots just to think of the drama that is about to unfold due to his son’s stupid actions. The cast that made their appearances is very good, too. I was a big fan of the costumes, too, because let’s face it, those suits were amazing. I was thrilled to hear Manson featured in here, finally sounding more like his old self again (let’s face it, Manson’s new album, The Pale Emperor, is his best album in years). 

John Wick is totally the type of movie I love when dipping my toes into this genre: no nonsense, dark, amusing in a smart way, well put together, and engaging. What a ridiculously stylish movie. Go watch it. Now. Really. 

Rapid Review: Kick-Ass 2 (2013)

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kick ass 2 poster

“You don’t have to be a bad-ass to be a superhero, Dave. You just have to be brave.”
– Mindy Macready

SYNOPSIS: The costumed high-school hero Kick-Ass joins with a group of normal citizens who have been inspired to fight crime in costume. Meanwhile, the Red Mist plots an act of revenge that will affect everyone Kick-Ass knows. – via IMDB

kickass chin upskickass and hitgirl

GRADE 7After loving Kick-Ass so much, I was wondering if this was going to reek of sequelitis (thanks Tom). I was surprised. It was by no means as good as the first one for me (though my other half preferred the oodles more action in this one), it was not a flop, either. I had a good time with it. There were plenty laughs, but I found this one to be so much less awkward and embarrassing than the first (something I thought was excellent for it), but more forced at other times. Big Daddy may be gone, but it seems that Colonel Stars and Stripes was there to take up the mantle of father figure. He was by no means as organised or as odd as Big Daddy, but it works on some level. I didn’t like the fact that Evan Peters didn’t come back to play Todd (but I can deal, American Horror Story was way more important), and I found Augustus Prew (his replacement) to be really bland. What I did like, and it had me in stitches for hours after, was McLovin Christopher Mintz-Plasse putting all that bondage gear on, and not having the boobs to fill out the rack space (bwahahahaha, it looked hilarious). I was really glad that this one scene that could have potentially ended in rape didn’t go there. It would not have gelled with the movie, and would definitely have left a sour taste in my mouth. There was definitely far more action in this one, definitely some more cheese. I had a good time watching John Leguizamo here, he had his head more together than most, though he humoured Chris way too much. The inclusion of so many superheroes didn’t really work all too well, but they had their moments, and the plot was a little all over the show at times. I think I am being significantly less harsh on this than most people (I don’t get the really bad rap this film has), but maybe because I saw these movies directly after one another over two nights, I didn’t have time to forge expectations, and I knew that no matter what, it was going to be lame, silly, over the top and not as good as the first. Maybe that’s why I still had fun.

Rapid Review: Chef (2014)

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chef poster

“I may not do everything great in my life, but I’m good at this. I manage to touch people’s lives with what I do and I want to share this with you.”
– Carl Casper

SYNOPSIS: Carl Casper is an acclaimed chef with a family life that seems as decaying as his artistic freedom. Those frustrations boil over into a raucous viral-videoed public confrontation against a restaurant critic who panned his cooking of food that his boss ordered him to make against his instincts. Now with his career ruined, Carl’s ex-wife offers an unorthodox solution in Miami: refit an old food truck to offer quality cooking on his own terms. Now with his young son, Percy, and old colleague, Martin, helping, Carl takes a working trip across America with that truck to rediscover his gastronomic passion. With Percy’s tech savvy and Martin’s enthusiasm, Carl finds that he is creating a traveling sensation on the way home. In doing so, Carl discovers he is serving up more than simply food, but also a deeper connection with his life and his family that is truly delicious in its own way. – via IMDB

chef food

GRADE 8This is something I have been waiting a while to look into (sounds like so many of the movies I have been watching recently), mainly because I really enjoy Jon Favreau’s work. Plus a food flick? I was not sure  how this was going to work, but it came back with solid reviews, and let me tell you, with good reason. I think Favreau is actually a pretty damn good actor, and his skills were out on display here. I thought he was a fantastic chef, and his character made me laugh and exasperated the hell out of me because he was relatively miserable (by his own choice), and really did not focus on his son.

Granted, there is nothing revolutionary about this story whatsoever, but Favreau pulls it off, making it sweet, heartwarming and funny. The performances all round were so good. Scarlett Johansson again managed to not work on my last nerve (she is really going back to where I used to like her), John Leguizamo delivers such a likable character that gave me plenty of laughs, the friendship between him and Carl really was something to check out, Emjay Anthony was adorable as Carl Casper’s son, Robert Downey Jr had a great little cameo and Dustin Hoffman really was not a very nice guy – though I loved his Stones quote, of course.

chef dancing

One thing Chef did super successfully was the social networking integration (specifically Twitter in this case). Usually that is something that is never pulled off properly in movies and instead adds to serious annoyance levels, but in the case of this it was done properly, adding to the story and not taking away from it. It was a wonderful journey to undertake with Favreau and his portrayal of Carl Casper, moving from depression to losing everything to working to get his life centred again, repairing his life, so to speak.

I would highly advise, however, that you eat something prior to viewing or have a magnificent mean/sandwich/whatever when you are watching it because just watching that food the whole way through really got me hungry. Serious food porn going on here.I thoroughly enjoyed the story, the direction, the score and camerawork for this. Again, while predictable in places and nothing we have never seen before, Chef carries itself well, and is definitely something to see!