ActionFest 2012 – Some More Good Movies

Goon (2011)

“Labeled an outcast by his brainy family, a bouncer overcomes long odds to lead a team of under performing misfits to semi-pro hockey glory, beating the crap out of everything that stands in his way. “

Goon is hilarious and actually very good-natured considering that it is specifically about the brutal side of hockey. I am not a huge fan of comedy – I like funny movies but consider much of current comedy to be dreck. I am also not a sports fan – not to get all highbrow but I’ve found sports and fandom to be a substitute for the combat that men crave. For me, I’d rather stick with a good action film.

This combination, particularly with the presence of American Pie’s Seann William Scott as the star, would incline me to skip this movie. The movie is very funny and Seann William Scott is quite charming as a thug who realizes, and accepts, that this is what he will always be.

Sleepless Night (2011)

“A drug heist goes wrong, as one of the drug carriers escapes after stabbing the robbers, gets a glimpse of their faces. The two masked men are actually two police officers, who decided to plan the heist. Vincent, a lieutenant who now has a bad stab wound, ends up with a huge bag of coke. The bag of coke belongs to a powerful mob boss/nightclub owner named Jose, who kidnaps Vincent’s son in hopes to reclaim his property. Vincent has until the end of the night to return the stash and save his son.”

I love French thrillers. Luc Besson thrilled me in the 90s with La Femme Nikita and Leon (The Professional). He then came back this century with a hand in District B13, The Transporter, and Taken but for the most part I now look for French thrillers that he did NOT have a hand in. Last year’s Point Blank (currently available on instant Netflix) was an intelligent thrill ride that didn’t pander to the lowest common denominator.

We elected to go to an Actionfest secret screening. I’m a sucker for what’s behind door number two. The secret was twofold. First we were treated to the first ten minutes of Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning. I really applaud this as I enjoyed seeing the first ten minutes of a film not yet released. Unfortunately it looks awful – the director made the terrible error of filming all of it in first-person. This failed epically in Doom and does not look any better here.

After that we were treated to the French thriller, Sleepless Night. As usual with French thrillers, it is just assumed that the cops are corrupt and the real question is to what extent. The vast majority of the film takes place within a nightclub. There is a fantastic fight in the kitchen and the environs are used to great effect.

I really liked that most of the characters in the film were intelligent and tried intelligent things to get out of their predicaments, some of which worked and some not so much. Normally I don’t comment on a film’s ending as I hate spoilers but I must say that I loved the ending of this movie as it is completely open to your own interpretation.

This was not quite as good as Point Blank, mostly because of a huge overuse of the dreaded shaky cam. That was the only real flaw to the film however as writing was excellent and performances were good across the board.

The Day (2011)

“Open war against humanity rages. 5 survivors; lost and on the run. The pursuit is relentless, the bullets are dwindling and the battle is everywhere. This is a 24hr look into their lives. Fight or die. “

This is a prime example of how to do action on a budget. This is a tense post-apocalyptic thriller that starts a decade after the world ended. Director Douglas Aarniokoski doesn’t waste time on exposition – no prologue, no whys, just an occasional snippet of dialogue to give us a glimpse.

My poor wife was on the edge of her seat, afraid that there were going to be zombies. I love a good zombie movie (okay even a mediocre one) but she hates them. Thankfully it turned out that the bad guys were that other post-apocalyptic trope, cannibals. Just as thankfully, for once, the cannibalism was mostly alluded to rather than shown.

That’s it. The Day is a very simple story of the siege of a farmhouse with our five protagonists inside and a tribe of cannibals outside. The action is filmed quite well and shaky cam is not overused. The young actors all look quite haggard (more tired than emaciated) and acquit themselves nicely. The five characters all have personalities as opposed to personality traits. All together The Day is a solid B-picture.