Run All Night from the Gunman

Yay! After not going to the movies for weeks, I’ve seen four movies in three days. I got to see the delightful revival of Rear Window with my wife, Cinderella with my girls, and a day by myself with Run All Night and The Gunman.

Yay for the return of the R-rated action thriller! It’s not that PG or PG-13 is bad but it often seems like PG-13 films are shoehorned into a tight box. The filmmakers are either constrained by how much they can put in or have to cut out to maintain that rating.

Run All Night

 

Run All Night (2015) – Rated R

Mobster and hit man Jimmy Conlon has one night to figure out where his loyalties lie: with his estranged son, Mike, whose life is in danger, or his longtime best friend, mob boss Shawn Maguire, who wants Mike to pay for the death of his own son.”

You wouldn’t know it from any of the trailers but Liam Neeson starts the movie as a burned out, alcoholic loser. The trailers, of course, highlight Neeson as a tough guy, just like every other one of his movies. The problem with the trailers is that they are fairly indistinguishable from each other.

Run All Night is not great but is miles better than the crapfest that was Taken 3. It is also better than The Gunman. It is very story involved a la The Grey and Walk Among the Tombstones but the script doesn’t quite measure up. Still there is an enjoyable time to be had.

The Gunman

 

The Gunman (2015) – Rated R

A sniper on a mercenary assassination team, kills the minister of mines of the Congo. Terrier’s successful kill shot forces him into hiding. Returning to the Congo years later, he becomes the target of a hit squad himself.

Way back in 2004, Pierre Morel made his directorial debut with the outrageous District B13. District 13 brought parkour to the big screen and the stunts were incredible. It is still an enjoyable romp and is available on instant Netflix so go watch it! It was remade in 2014 as Brick Mansions but skip that very dumbed down and shaky cammed version.

In 2008, Morel followed District 13 up with the original Taken. This was yet another wonderful action film and reinvented Liam Neeson as an action star. After that was the amusing but deeply flawed From Paris With Love. It failed to reignite Travolta’s career.

The Gunman is Morel’s fourth feature film in the directors seat. This one seems tailor-made to reinvent Sean Penn as an action star, though that does not work. Since Penn is restrained by Morel, Morel allows Javier Bardem to egregiously overact. Our love interest is Annie, played by Italian actress Jasmine Trinca.

Supporting them are Ray Winstone as Terrier (Penn)’s friend, Stanley and Idris Elba as an enigmatic Interpol agent named DuPont. The only other actor of note is Mark Rylance as Cox.

Unfortunately there is no real artistry on display here. The Gunman is just fine if you need an action fix but not anything more. It all seems a paint-by-numbers globetrotting, professional seeks revenge for betrayal setup. The cast is good but not well used. Elba only has a few minutes of screen time. Somebody get that man a good role.

RoboNono & Elite Squad – The Enemy Within

I had a FREE ticket (my favorite kind of ticket) to go see the Robocop remake/reboot.

Robocop

 

Robocop (2014) – Rated PG-13

In 2028 Detroit, when Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman) – a loving husband, father and good cop – is critically injured in the line of duty, the multinational conglomerate OmniCorp sees their chance for a part-man, part-robot police officer.

One Line Review: Ho hum Robo redo is a RoboNono.

In spite of its arrival in the February movie dumping grounds, I was looking forward to the Robocop reboot. The director, Jose Padilha, made two police movies, Elite Squad and Elite Squad: The Enemy Within in his home country of Brazil. Both were exciting thrillers that were also indictments of the Brazilian justice system and the inherent corruption in government.

Obviously the first telling sign is Robocop’s February release. Clearly the studio did not believe in the film. The second telling sign is the teen-friendly PG-13 rating. Not only were the original’s dark humor and brutal violence prime selling points but the bad Robocop movie was Robocop 3, the only one not rated R.

There are a number of nods to the original film. Basil Poledouris’ bombastic score from the original is utilized in a couple scenes but is very toned down. The ED-209s do put in an appearance. A few of the original one-liners are present but lack any punch.

Some of the things that made Jose Padilha’s earlier movies fascinating are ultimately what doom Robocop. The Elite Squad films are a cross between police thrillers and documentaries. The documentary nature of the films helps bring the differences between Brazilian and U.S. justice systems to light.

Unfortunately the same approach is applied to Robocop. There is waaaaaaay too much exposition. The film holds your hand and carefully explains everything that is happening. Every time the film starts to get moving, another clunky bit of exposition grinds momentum to a halt.

I have to lay the vast majority of the blame at the feet of first-time writer Joshua Zetumer. He took a wonderfully interconnected original script that was not only exciting but full of incredible dark, albeit sometimes juvenile, humor and stripped out the excitement and humor. In place of the humor, he tried to update Robocop to the current drone age. There are some interesting ideas but he forgot one of the first rules of screenwriting, never state something when you can show it. He also dropped one of the core ideas from the original: that politics, business, and organized crime are all interconnected.

Joel Kinnamon is just fine as Alex Murphy but isn’t given much to do. Samuel L. Jackson’s angry news commentator schtick grows old quickly and is much too on the nose to be funny. Jackie Earle Haley provides the film’s only bit of comic relief via a song. Michael Keaton and Gary Oldman are completely wasted.

Robocop is not awful. It is just drearily by-the-numbers by people who had no understanding of what made the first one a wonderful film. Don’t buy that for a dollar!

Elite Squad: The Enemy Within is currently available on instant Netflix. Go watch that instead (as long as you don’t mind subtitles).

Elite Squad Enemy Within

 

Elite Squad: The Enemy Within (2010) – Not rated

Tenente-Coronel Nascimento, a hardened vet of Rio de Janeiro’s drug wars, is now head of a special police unit. With his new title comes new responsibilities and dangers, which the captain navigates with brashness and resolve.