Film Review: TRIPLE FRONTIER (USA 2019) ***

Triple Frontier Poster
Trailer

Five former Special Forces operatives reunite to plan a heist in a sparsely populated multi-border zone of South America. For the first time in their prestigious careers these unsung heroes… See full summary »

Director:

J.C. Chandor

Writers:

Mark Boal (screenplay), J.C. Chandor (screenplay) | 1 more credit »

Written by director J.C. Chandor (A MOST VIOLENT YEAR, MARGIN CALL) and Mark Boal, TRIPLE FRONTIER is an American action thriller filmed in Hawaii but set in Colombia where drugs and drug lords rule.  Mark Boal also wrote the Oscar winning THE HURT LOCKER which explains Kathryn Bigelow serving as executive producer for this film.  The film involves a drug money heist from unseen drug lords.  The film is not so much a robbery caper but an escape caper and more than half of the film involves the gang trying to escape from Colombia with the money.  TRIPLE FRONTIER is a Netflix original movie.  Netflix movies have the reputation of having scenarios that Hollywood studios are afraid to touch.  There are reasons that can be imagined studios would not touch this none.  It is not the conventional action film but the less said is better so that no spoilers may be revealed.

Five former Special Forces operatives reunite to plan a heist in a sparsely populated multi-border zone of South America.  For the first time in their prestigious careers these unsung heroes undertake this dangerous mission for self instead of country.   But when events take an unexpected turn and threaten to spiral out of control, their skills, their loyalties and their morals are pushed to a breaking point in an epic battle for survival.

The film looks at both greed and sacrifice, the former coming across more convincing than the latter.  In fact it is greed for money that accounts for the major part of the group’s problems.  As expected, loyalties are tested with  big fights resulting from the clash of personalities.  As stated at the start of the film when one of the Special Forces claim, as he lectures a new class of recruits on what it means to be a warrior; “We are trained to achieve an aim at the expense of any human being.”   The script ensures that this is reasoning behind how the five robbers behave and act during their escape.

The script, story-wise is nothing spectacular and leaves many holes in terms of credibility.  But the script leads to a few excellent action setups, most of these leaving the audience at the end of their seats.  The cinematography by Roman Vasyanov is stunning, especially the shots from the helicopter of the jungles and mountains.  The big crash of the chopper in the middle of the Colombian countryside in the midst of panicking horses is truly well executed.  The other action segment where the mules passing along a narrow mountainside path carrying large bags of money is cliff-hanging suspense.

Music is by Disasterpeace and contains few neat songs that suit the action of the film.

The five stars playing the Special Forces include Ben Affleck, Oscar Isaac, Charlie Hunnam, Garrett Hedlund and Pedro Pascal do a fair job and could be replaced by any other.  Oscar Isaac fares the best paying the lead character that keeps everything in check, while Affleck plays the wild card asshole in the group effectively.

The film scores strong points on the authenticity of the setting especially in the scenes set in Colombia even though the film was shot in Hawaii.  But why would these Colombian villagers go chasing after the 5, risking their lives in the process?

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fo3yRLLrXQA

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Film Review: JUSTICE LEAGUE (USA 2017) ***

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Justice League Poster
Fueled by his restored faith in humanity and inspired by Superman’s selfless act, Bruce Wayne enlists the help of his newfound ally, Diana Prince, to face an even greater enemy.

Director:

Zack Snyder

Writers:

Chris Terrio (screenplay by), Joss Whedon (screenplay by)  »

 

JUSTICE LEAGUE is the d.c. comics team of superheroes (conceived by Gardner Fox and first appearing in the 1960 comic) who join together to battle super villains. The seven original members were Superman, Aquaman, Flash, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, Batman, and Wonder Woman.  These members rotate and have also included lesser known action heroes like Atom and Plastic Man.

In JUSTICE LEAGUE the film, the league is made up of the leader, Batman (Ben Affleck) , Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), The Flash (Ezra Miller), Aquaman (Jason Momoa)and Cyborg (Ray Fisher) formed to honour Superman (Henry Cavill) after his death.

The story takes place months after the events of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, where Superman dies.  As the world mourns Superman’s death, the Justice League is formed by Batman to face the catastrophic threat of Steppenwolf (an unrecognizable Ciaran Hinds) and his army of Parademons, who are on the hunt for three Mother Boxes on Earth.

Considering the (critically not commercially) disaster of all the films so far in the D.C. extended universe excepting WONDER WOMAN, director Snyder plays his film safe so it cannot be crucially panned.  The story is left simple and straight forward so nothing can go wrong.  Batman forms the league, the league fights the villain and wins and the film ends.  The mood is kept relatively serious with humour in the form of a few punch lines thrown in periodically.  Of all the superheroes, Wonder Woman has the most screen time and jokes about her sexiness (kept non-feminist) plentiful.

Of the new superheroes, Ezra Miller (WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN) puts in some fresh life as The Flash with his cute schoolboy looks and humour.  In the other hand,  Cyborh turns out pretty boring, as he complains of his super powers half the time.  Aquaman has little screen time, perhaps the filmmakers just whetting audience’s appetite for the new upcoming AQUAMAN film by James Wan.

The dialogue ranges from good to plain awful.   Good: When Batman is asked of his superpowers, his reply is :I am rich and wealthy.”  The awful:  words to Wonder Woman: “You smell good” followed by  “I have smelt you before.”  But one should expect better writing for a $300 million blockbuster.

The fight scenes at the end are executed with the expected pyrotechnics (nothing really stands out) that likely cost a big bundle.  Of the $300 million, $25 million went into 2 month of re-shoots and into the post-production digital removal of Cavill’s moustache which he had to sport for his MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 6 role.

At a massive cost of $300 million, the film should make a profit considering the success of the other films in the D.C. extended universe and the huge fan base.  Never mind if the film critically bombs.  Anyway, Warner Bros. has already had a swell year with hits like IT, THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE and of course, WONDER WOMAN.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3cxixDgHUYw

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1997 Movie Review: GOOD WILL HUNTING, 1997

 

GOOD WILL HUNTING MOVIE POSTER
GOOD WILL HUNTING, 1997
Movie Reviews

Directed by Gus Van Sant
Starring: Matt Damon, Ben Affleck and Robin Williams
Review by David D

SYNOPSIS:

Will Hunting, a janitor at MIT, has a gift for mathematics which is discovered, and a psychologist tries to help him with his gift and the rest of his life.

REVIEW:

If you can put aside the rumor that William Goldman doctored the Oscar winning script for Good Willing Hunting AND that it features funnyman Robin Williams in a serious role, you are in an excellent two hours of viewing.

Written by a young Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, the story focuses on a young prodigy named Will Hunting. Will (aptly played by Matt Damon and nominated for an Academy Award) is a genius foster kid that works as a janitor in a prestigious university (MIT) in South Boston. Ben Affleck plays his best friend, Chuckie.

The plot focuses on the discovery of Will’s genius and other people attempts to either use or save him from himself. Will Hunting, on the other hand, has plans of his own.

Robin William pulls in a great performance as Will’s therapist (Sean), pushing him past the anger and sarcasm, to discover what his life is really all about.

This film works on couple of levels. As a viewer, we admire Will’s photographic memory and his uncanny ability to solve incredibly complicated math problems with ease, but at the same time resent the fact that he takes these abilities for granted. The audience musters the requisite ‘If I had that kind of ability I would…’ rhetoric but the script and director ask a much harder question ‘How do we define happiness?’

Will wants a simple life; he doesn’t want the complications of his genius. His actions betray his words as he voluntarily studies late into the night on various subjects, espouses classic lines from English texts and solves mathematical problems on a university blackboard without being asked. Inside, there is a person wanting to break free.

The another level is questioning whether a person is chained to their past. Will was shuffled & abuse from foster home to foster home, and because of this, very wary of human closeness and contact. It is akin to the sting we feel when we fall in and out of love. He is chained to his past because of the anger he still feels towards these betrayals.

His session with Sean (Robin Williams) also belies his true desires. With Sean as his therapist, Will is critical, confrontational and always on the defensive. Fortunately, Sean never pushes too far and because of this understanding, a critical bound is formed between them. Will has a distrust of adults because of the abuse he suffered at the hands of a foster father – one of the many reasons he distances himself from figures of authority.

Will spends most of his time with his friends who would ‘lay down their life for him’. They provide the only human closeness that Will feels towards anyone. When a mathematician Gerald Lambeau (Stellan Skarsgard) saves Will from a stretch in prison, Will can only thank him with harsh words and scorn.

During Will’s sessions with Sean, he learns that it is ok to take a chance and falls in love with Skylar (Minnie Driver). This relationship has all the hallmarks of defeat as we learn that Will cannot deal with the closeness that comes from trusting someone.

This last plot point is truly what the film hinges on: Will’s inability to trust because of his past. The final reel is emotional and satisfying. We see the journey that Will takes both on an emotional and physical level; from a wounded, cornered animal to a person that realizes hurt is a part of life. As an audience we feel for Will and participate in his struggle to reconcile his past feelings with his chance at a better future and happiness.

GOOD WILL HUNTING.jpg

Film Review: LIVE BY NIGHT (USA 2016)

live_by_night_movie_poster.jpgDirected by Ben Affleck

Starring: Ben Affleck, Elle Fanning, Brendan Gleeson, Chris Messina, Sienna Miller, Zoe Saldana, Chris Cooper

Review by Gilbert Seah

Ben Afflecks’s fourth film (after ARGO, THE TOWN and GONE BABY GONE) is based on the 2012 novel of the same name by Dennis Lehane which like BURN,BABY, BURN is a novel that contains a lot of plot. But LIVE BY NIGHT contains too much plot dealing with as many issues as there are plot turns. Unfortunately, Affleck’s script is unable to cope and the film fails despite worthy efforts.

Set in the 1920s and 1930s, the story follows Joe Coughlin (Affleck), the prodigal son of a Boston police captain (Brendan Gleeson). Joe is a World War I veteran of Irish decent who is in love with Emma Gould (Sienna Miller), mistress of the notorious gangster Albert White (Robert Glenister), the boss of the Irish Gang of Boston. Joe’s father disapproves of Emma. Joe and Emma decide to move to California escaping the wrath of White, but to their misfortune the head of Albert’s rival Italian Mafia Maso Pescatore (Remo Girone) finds out about their affair and blackmails Joe to kill Albert. The story goes on, leading Joe to finally work for Maso and rising in the ranks. Success comes with a price with a lot of casualties in the process.

The best thing about LIVE BY NIGHT are its impeccable performances. Gleeson at his growling best, plays Joe’s chief of police, who unfortunately dies 20 minutes into the film. The gap, fortunately is filled by Chris Cooper as Irving Figgis, another chief of police, who is as pious as he is crazy. The other supporting cast members are uniformly good from Matthew Maher (as a creepy Ku Klax Klan member) and Anthony Michael Hall as an overconfident lackey for a crime boss.

Affleck’s script is all over the place and tries to handles too many issues like father/son relationship; romance; crime; good vs. evil; racism and loss of innocence just to name a few. The dialogue also includes a fair amount of ‘f’ words including the ‘mother f” words that are out of place in a film set in the roaring twenties.

The handsome mounted production from the vintage cars (in the robbery car chase) to the wardrobe, music and props make the film a memorable period piece. Affleck dresses himself very sharply, always in pressed white suits and hat.

As the story deals with war between crime families, LIVE BY NIGHT will inevitably be compared to Francis Ford Coppola’s GODFATHER films. Joe keeps his criminal activities from his wife, Gracilea (Zoe Saldana) reminiscent of how Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) hid his crime duties from his wife played by Diane Keaton. This is when one can detect the inferiority of of LIVE BY NIGHT. The power and bite are just not there.
LIVE BY NIGHT is well paced with a good speed in the first third of the film. The varying pace from the highly edited car chase to the slow paced meeting a a tea shop between Joe and Loretta Figgis (Elle Fannng)
.
The film also contains dialogue with heavy Irish accent (from Gleesona nd Miller) which is occasionally hard to understand.

The film could have done with some script doctoring. Affleck taking the co-producing, writing, directing and lead acting duties has obviously got his plate full in this $65 million production.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CtFZcAuH-qI

 

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Happy Birthday: Ben Affleck

benaffleck.jpgBen Affleck

Born: August 15, 1972 in Berkeley, California, USA

Married to: Jennifer Garner (29 June 2005 – present) (filed for divorce) (3 children)

[on tabloid coverage of his life] It feels like being in a soap opera that you were unwittingly cast in and you have no choice about it. I get to watch my life like everyone else and think. “I can’t believe they did that”. And, for whatever reason, you become less special for movie audiences. It cheapens the brand if you want to look at it in a really crass sense. But I figure it has to go away at some point. Eventually someone will come along and have a sex tape or someone will play grab-ass with some kids and I’ll be off page one.

ARGO
dir. Ben Affleck
Stars:
Ben Affleck
Bryan Cranston
Dazed and ConfusedDazed and Confused
1993
dir. by Richard Linklater
starring
Jason London
Matthew McConaughey

GoodwillGood Will Hunting
1997
dir. by Gus Van Sant
starring
Matt Damon
Robin Williams
ARMAGEDDONArmageddon
1998
dir. Michael Bay
Starring
Bruce Willis
Liv Tyler
Affleck

DOGMADogma
1999
dir. Kevin Smith
Starring
Affleck
Matt Damon
Salma Hayek
PEARL HARBORPearl Harbor
2001
dir. Michael Bay
starring
Affleck
Josh Hartnett
DaredevilDaredevil
2003
dir. by Mark Steven Johnson
starring
Affleck
Jennifer Garner
PAYCHECKPaycheck
2003
dir. John Woo
Starring
Affleck
Uma Thurman
Aaron Eckhart
HOLLYWOODLANDHollywoodland
2006
dir. by Allen Coulter
starring
Adrien Brody
Diane Lane
movie posterSHAKESPEARE IN LOVE
1998
dir. John Madden
Starring:
Gwyneth Paltrow
Joseph Fiennes
CLERKS IIClerks II
2006
dir. Kevin Smith
Cast
Brian O’Halloran
Jeff Anderson
SMOKIN ACESSmokin Aces
2006
dir. Joe Carnahan
starring
Ryan Reynolds
Ray Liotta
THE TOWNTHE TOWN
dir. Affleck
Stars:
Jon Hamm
Rebecca Hall
Gone Baby GoneGone Baby Gone
2008
Directed by Affleck
Starring
Casey Affleck
Morgan Freeman
HE'S JUST NOT THAT INTO YOUHe’s Just Not That Into You
2009
dir. Ken Kwapis
Starring
Justin Long
Jennifer Goodwin
STATE OF PLAY Movie PosterState of Play
2009
dir. Kevin Macdonald
Starring
Russell Crowe
Affleck
EXTRACT Movie PosterExtract
2009
dir. Judge
Starring
Jason Bateman
Krista Wiig
Affleck
The Company MenThe Company Men
dir. John Wells
Stars:
Ben Affleck
Chris Cooper
Tommy Lee Jones
MOVIE POSTERARGO
dir. Ben Affleck
Stars:
Ben Affleck
Bryan Cranston
MOVIE POSTERTO THE WONDER
2012
dir. Terrence Malick
Stars:
Rachel McAdams
Ben Affleck
MOVIE POSTERRUNNER RUNNER
2013
dir. Brad Furman
Stars:
Ben Affleck
Justin Timberlake
MOVIE POSTERBATMAN VS SUPERMAN
2015
Dir. Zack Snyder
Star:
Ben Affleck
Gal Gadot
MOVIE POSTERMAN ABOUT TOWN
2006
dir. Mike Binder
Stars:
Ben Affleck
Rebecca Romijn
MOVIE POSTERTHE SUM OF ALL FEARS
2002
dir. Phil Alden Robinson
Stars:
Ben Affleck
Morgan Freeman
SEE TOP 100 BEN AFFLECK PHOTOS
2012
Abs
and Alan Arkin
and Blake Lively
and Britney Spears
and Bruce Willis
and Bryan Cranston
and Casey Affleck
and Charlize Theron
and Christina Applegate
and Daughter
and Dianne Lane
and Dog
and Family
and Giovanni Ribisi
and Gwyneth Paltrow
and Halle Berry
and Hillary Clinton
and James Gandolfini
and Jennifer Garner
and Jennifer Lopez
and Jeremy Renner
and John Kerry
and Jon Hamm
and Kate Beckinsale
and Kevin Costner
and Kevin Smith
and Liv Tyler
and Matt Damon
and Morgan Freeman
and Rebecca Hall
and Russell Crowe
and Sandra Bullock
and Tommy Lee Jones
and Uma Thurman
as Daredevil
as Geroge Reeves
as Jack Ryan
as Keith Olbermann
as Superman
at Airport
at Fenway Park
at TIFF
Beach
Beard
Body
Butt
Casual
Close UP
Details
Directing
Ears
Entertainment Weekly
Esquire
Eyebrows
Eyes
Face
Facial Hair
Family Guy
Feet
Film Magazine
Glasses
GQ
Hairstyle
Handsome
Hat
in Argo
in Armageddon
in Boiler Room
in Buffy the Vampire Slayer
in Chasing Amy
in Congo
in Daredevil
in Dazed and Confused
in Electra
in Extract
in Gigli
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Young

 

Movie Review: BATMAN V SUPERMAN (2016) #BatmanvSuperman

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batmansupermanBATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE (USA 2016)

Directed by Zack Snyder

Starring: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Jesse Eisenberg, Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburne, Holly Hunter, Jeremy Irons, Gal Gadot

Review by Gilbert Seah

Before the film starts at the press/promo screening of BATMAN V Superman, director Zack Snyder appears on screen practically begging the audience not to give away plot points and spoilers to the rest of the world in order for them to enjoy the film. True to word, there are a lot of spoilers that could be revealed but this latest multi-million dollar effort is so bad that no spoiler could have made the film any worse.

Snyder makes no qualms at reminding the audience that he directed the Spartan film 300. At the film start, after Bruce Wayne rushes into the dust from the rumble of a fallen skyscraper, a lone horse is seen on the screen. 3/4 through of the movie, a cop and a horse is again shown on the screen. Of course lots of muscled bodies like the Spartans in 300 are on display throughout the film.

One can tell that a movie is bad from its continuity. The car chase segment makes no sense whatsoever. The reason for the chase is zero. When it takes place, there are lots of overturned other vehicles, lots of explosions but the scenes could have be taken out of 4 different streets for all that matters. The editing is awful and continuity is non-existent.

At the promo/press screening the executive introducing the film touted the imax technology involved in the making of the film. 40% more images can be seen in the imax version. But in the in the imax version that I saw, only the last sequence and the Batman Superman fight was in full imax top to bottom presentation.

There is little to enjoy in this film – the main problem being that the film is all over the place and all the filmmakers seem more content with the special effects. Comic book fans will be flabbergasted at the way the filmmakers have taken liberties to change what fans deem unchangeable and a staple to the comic book fan base. The main premise for example, would be that if ever anyone would want to see Superman fight Batman? And who would care which one would win? A true comic book fan would cringe every time anyone of the heroes, Superman or Batman was hurt.

The plot of the film involves Superman and Batman questioning each others tactics in order to save the world. The reasons are superfluous and unconvincing. All this leads to a confrontation and fight at the film’s climax.

BATMAN V SUPERMAN is a very dark film no doubt. So was the recent DEADPOOL. But DEADPOOL was smart enough to be funny and tongue-in-cheek while the latter took itself far too seriously.

And there is the question of the villain and a few other loose ends. Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor is an odd one. Eisenberg seems to have sculptured his role from Heath Ledger’s edgy Joker before his death. Esisenberg does what he does best – speaking his lines at a thousand words per minute but in this film, with creepy twitchings. It is not what is expected from classic Lex Luthor. Eisenberg dons his long hair till shaved off bald when in prison. Aquaman and Wonder Woman make their appearances but for no real reason. It seem a total farce and they should have been better totally omitted from the script.

In one segment of the film, a character says that people hate what they do not understand, referring to the suspicion they have of Superman being an alien doing good but causing destruction of the planet. Audiences might hate this film for it is impossible to understand for its purpose or plot.

*****

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