Review: The Guest (2014)

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the guest poster1

“I’m a soldier, man. I like guns.”
– David

SYNOPSIS: A soldier introduces himself to the Peterson family, claiming to be a friend of their son who died in action. After the young man is welcomed into their home, a series of accidental deaths seem to be connected to his presence. – via IMDB

the guest

Ryan and Eric were heavily propagating that I get to this movie. Relentlessly. I even dealt with dead-friendship threats, which was insane. Needless to say, we can all still be friends here… I think… right, Ryan?? Can we still be friends??

GRADE 9Wow. Just wow. I mean I know I read a lot of good reviews on this and all, but just wow. I was a huge fan of The Guest. Just about everything in this film worked on so many levels. Dan Stevens gave a simply phenomenal and chilling performance as David, which is so important to the movie that you can almost base it all on that. It is wonderful to watch him transform, how important his whole facade is, and how he handles the ever-changing situations around him.

I thought it highly amusing how Stevens was so intentionally sexualised in the film. I liked that for a change, for science, you know? Also, it just made his character so much creepier. It is not that this premise has never ever been heard of (though there was a pretty cool twist later), it’s just that it was handled incredibly well. The score is something my other half specifically commented on, something he never does, which is why I am mentioning it – to highlight how well it worked itself into the movie, and how important it was. It was so perfectly suited.

the guest hmmm

The Guest has great pacing, starting slowly, deliberately putting all the pieces into place, progressively becoming darker as the time of the film ticks along, and it draws you in. It is so tense, and you get so involved with what was happening. With a solid foundation of story, it really makes the third act that much more fascinating, entertaining and grand. I think this movie is a great mashup of horror meets thriller.

All the actors worked together really well and the movie was littered with performances that were an asset to the picture as a whole. Brendan Meyer excelled at the emo-shift of the hair and was a pitiable but smart character (except when it was important), and Maika Monroe impressed me quite a bit with her portrayal of Anna. The friendship/mentorship that came up between Luke and David was totally worth watching, too. Got a few smiles out of that one. While there are predictable moments, they are handled with style, making this an undeniably entertaining watch.

the guest more hmmmm

I wish I knew how to articulate how much I enjoyed this movie and why anyone should watch it! I loved how they managed to work in the Halloween aspect to this, but that it never became super important or overly-gimmicky, and that a lot of stupid crap was not shoehorned into this movie because why not? Wingard and Barrett nailed that deliberate cheese and the self-aware tongue-in-cheek moments, I must say. I enjoyed Broyles Major Carver dropping everything to rush and to check out the David situation, you know stuff is about to go down, and let me just tell you that you are massively rewarded for it. The Guest is bloody, violent, thrilling, and I love, love, love it. It is definitely going to get numerous repeat watches from me!

Review: Taken 2 (2012)

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Taken 2 Poster

“I have to find them… and bring your mom back. And then I have to make sure these people never bother us again in our lives.”
– Bryan Mills

I actually wanted to watch this right after I finished the first one, and did not realize that so much time had passed in between my two viewings. I did not expect greatness from this, but damn, maybe a bit more than we got?

Retired CIA Agent Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) continues his life since saving his daughter, Kim’s (Maggie Grace), life. His ex-wife, Lenore (Famke Janssen) and her husband, Stuart (Xander Berkeley), are pretty much through with one another since what happened when Kim was almost trafficked. Bryan steps in, trying to comfort Lenore as well as get Kim’s life together so she can get her license. He is unimpressed to learn that Kim has a boyfriend, Jamie (Luke Grimes). What he does not know, however, is that he is a wanted man after all the slayings he inflicted when looking for Kim. The families cry for vengeance, and are led by Murad Krasniqi (Rade Sherbedzija), the father of the man Bryan strapped to a chair and electrocuted.

Payback is a bitch

Lenore is upset when Stuart cancels their trip to China for Kim’s spring break, and Bryan offers that they come and stay in Istanbul with him after he has finished a job. They arrive before he decides to pack up and leave, surprising him. He is so thrilled. Soon, Kim starts playing matchmaker between her parents. On their way out one day, Kim says she will not be joining her folks. They leave together, laughing about how it will be, when Bryan notices a car tailing them. He gets Lenore out, but despite all his efforts, he and his ex-wife are taken. Bryan informs Kim of this via the phone just before it all happens, and urges her to seek safety. After all the slayings to save his daughter, this would have had to happen at some stage I guess…

Rocking that stick

Apparently rocking that stick

Kim becomes instrumental in helping Bryan escape from the people, as well as retrieving her mother. Bryan’s best friend, Sam (Leland Orser), who helped plan the surprise for Bryan with Lenore, needs to step up again and see how he can be of assistance to Bryan, but is not the most elemental in the plot. Bryan’s training kicks in full on and he starts devising an escape, even if the plan is rudimentary at best. Bryan needs to learn to not be so overly protective of Kim, and she becomes his greatest help. They need to recover their family and return home to safety as soon as possible.

Will Bryan be able to protect his daughter as well as recover his wife with minimal damage? How will he get rid of the Albanian gang if they are so intent on revenge?

With long teeth I am going to give Taken 2 a 4/10. I mean, I knew there was no ways it was going to be as good as the first (sequels rarely are), but I really expected a bit more than this. I don’t know, all of it was a bit wooden. Liam Neeson was, as always, great, but the rest of the movie did not really flow (even with him!). Not the dialogue, not the acting, and the story left a lot to be desired. Not even the action sequences helped this movie out at all. I don’t know, Taken was fantastic, and there was a lot of hype surrounding it, and there must have been much higher expectations for this one, but Luc Besson let us down, and could not live up to his predecessor. I hated how his daughter battled to drive an automatic back in the States but can suddenly rock a manual as if she at the very least has a defensive/advanced driving course under her belt. Pfffff. I could not buy into that logic, sorry. So no, this movie is actually one that you can go without seeing.

Review: Taken (2008)

5

TAKEN POSTER 2009

“You don’t remember me? We spoke on the phone two days ago. I told you I would find you.”
– Bryan Mills

Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) is a retired CIA operative that has moved to California to be closer to his daughter, Kim (Maggie Grace). His ex-wife, Lenore (Famke Janssen), has remarried Stuart (Xander Berkeley), and he seems to outdo Bryan on all fronts. Bryan is trying his hardest, but it seems Stuart is always upstaging him. Kim just turned seventeen and Bryan buys her an expensive karaoke machine because she always wanted to be a singer.

Friends come over to visit Bryan, and Sam (Leland Orser) convinces Bryan to take on a quick and easy job getting a singer to and from her gig. He decides to do it, as it is a few hours work for a decent sum of cash, and scores points with his daughter when she hears her father is looking after Sheerah (Holly Valance). Things go wrong at the show, and Bryan saves Sheerah’s life, and she is now indebted to him, and sets him up with her vocal trainer and manager’s numbers for him so he can take Kim there and maybe realize her dream of becoming a singer.

He thinks he has his foot half in the door when Kim calls him to meet with her for coffee, and unbeknownst to him, Lenore joins them. It eventually comes out that Kim wants him to sign off on her travel documents to let her leave the country for France, seeing as she is under eighteen.

Bryan is very unimpressed, and after arguments and all of that, he finally signs off on her forms with a very strict set of rules. When dropping her at the airport, Kim asks her father what he did for a living, and he briefly explained his position as that of “preventor”, and that it made him very aware of the brutalities of the world. Once at the airport, Bryan finds out that his daughter is in actual fact not going to see the museums around Paris, but follow U2’s European Tour. As upset as he is, his wife makes an issue out of his just letting it go, and against his better judgment, he does.

When Kim and her friend Amanda (Katie Cassidy) arrive in Paris, they are greeted by a man who offers to share their cab with them, and he invites them to a party later. Amanda shares too much information about their living arrangements with him, and he calls his friends up. Bryan establishes that Kim’s flight landed hours before and that she has not called, and so he decides to ring her. Kim only answers on the second call, and in the space of a few minutes, sees Amanda getting taken by some strange men. Bryan’s “preventor” instincts kick in, and he walks his daughter through what is about to happen to her.

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Now Bryan needs to save his little girl in a foreign country, from men that his contacts have discovered to be a human trafficking ring. He has a window of roughly ninety-six hours to recover his daughter before she slips off the face of the earth. Time is against him, and he works rapidly, calling is as many of  his old contacts as he can to track his daughter down and bring her home safely. Lenore finally realizes the importance of what Bryan did and what he gave up. As time runs out, the path of destruction he leaves in his wake grows, and starts setting alarm bells off for the French authorities  who want him out of their country as soon as possible.

Taken scores a definite 7.5/10 for me. I loved the movie the first time I watched it, and I thoroughly enjoyed it again. It has tainted my perception of travelling a little bit, but the world is my oyster and will still be explored in detail! I did, however, come to the conclusion that I need to find a friend with a very specific skill set… maybe I can have my brother trained? Taken was incredibly action packed,  but had enough emotion put into it to bring a sense of realism to it. There was not really an overkill of anything in particular, and the aspects were all brought together very well. The betrayal is potent, and the desperation is tangible. I still think it is great how Liam Neeson plays his roles, and so successfully, too. He is awesome, and plays his hardcore yet emotional roles very well. It is terrifying to think that trafficking happens every single day, and I think that this movie awoke the brutal truth of it all to many people.