Goodbye Killing!

The final season of The Killing is currently available on instant Netflix (and only there).

The Killing

 

The Killing (2011-4) – Rated TV-14

It all comes down to this: the fourth and final season of the critically acclaimed crime thriller is a six-episode Netflix original that wraps up loose ends and reveals long-buried secrets. Detectives Linden and Holder return to investigate a gruesome mass slaying that exposes a dark family history, while trying to cover up a crime they committed.

It certainly is nice that some abandoned series have found their final chapter at Netflix. Arrested Development’s final season was not as laugh out loud funny as the earlier series (“There’s always money in the banana stand”) but its Rube Goldberg plotting was a marvel to behold. The Killing is the latest series to receive a temporary reprieve.

The Killing was not really an underrated show. It had major flaws and the two leads, while quite good, certainly don’t fit the classical TV actor look. The first season ended on a cheat and I suspect this is where audiences lost interest. The series limped along for two more seasons but never reached its potential.

I would heartily recommend re-watching the final episode of season three before delving into the final season. Events pick up immediately from there. There is a new case but the ramifications of season three’s case interweave through these final six episodes.

The new case is very interesting. Joan Allen’s commander makes a very good counterpoint to Detective Linden. She is a very structured, rules-oriented person and a surrogate mother whereas Detective Linden is her usual maverick self and once again a winner of the mother of the year award.

Linden and Holder have to fight their personal demons as The Killing reaches its conclusion. This six episode arc is a worthy final season in spite of…

MILD SPOILER AHEAD

 

Unfortunately, in an effort to wrap up the series, the writers provide not only a cheap Deus Ex Machina but also a final coda that feels false. These serve to demean what would have been a very good and fitting ending if they had just left it alone.

Sabotage & Arnold Schwarzenegger

 

 

Conan the Barbarian

 

I like Arnold Schwarzenegger as a star. I grew up with him as Conan the Barbarian, one of the best fantasy movies we had in the pre-Peter Jackson era. He was so iconic as Conan that he revisited it two years later in Conan the Destroyer. This version was toned down for the kiddies and mixed with a fair amount of Dungeons & Dragons but still very Arnold. He essentially reprised the role the following year as Kalidor in Red Sonja.

The Terminator

He IS the Terminator. Another iconic role that played to his strengths, the first two are in my favorite films list and the third is at least fun. Predator is another of my favorite films and Schwarzenegger leads a testosterone-heavy cast being stalked by an alien predator. True Lies reteamed him with James Cameron to great effect.

In the 90s, his films became very hit or miss and gradually began to decline in quality and box office receipts. I was looking forward to his return to movies after his detour into politics.

He did nice cameos in the first two Expendables movies. I really looked forward to his return to a starring role in The Last Stand. It was directed by Kim Jee-woon, whose The Good, The Bad, The Weird was a wonderful homage to American Westerns. Sadly while it wasn’t terrible, it wasn’t very good either.

His next shot was co-starring with Expendables star Sylvester Stallone in Escape Plan. If you thought The Last Stand was ludicrous, Escape Plan takes it to another level. This brings us to his latest film, Sabotage.

Sabotage

 

Sabotage (2014) – Rated R

Members of an elite DEA task force find themselves being taken down one by one after they rob a drug cartel safe house.”

One Line Review: A world of no or, as they would say, “#%$# my $@%#, #%$^*&^%^$#@”

This time Arnold turned to writer/director David Ayer for a comeback role. David Ayer penned U-571 which, apart from the grievous insult of changing the British heroes who pulled off the actual mission into Americans, was a pretty entertaining World War II saga. He went on to write Training Day which was a gritty and wonderful tale of police corruption. Ayer apparently found that to be his niche and wrote Dark Blue and S.W.A.T. before wiritng and directing Harsh Times and End of Watch.

David Ayer writes, directs, and produces Sabotage so the ummm sabotage to this movie must be laid at his feet. I remember when dropping the F bomb was shocking. Apparently it is so commonplace now that David Ayer replaced the epithet indicating sexual congress with several indicating the act of fellatio. He was so enamored of this that I think at least a half dozen characters in Sabotage use it. I felt like it was on an audio loop.

Ayer assembled a good action cast to back up Schwarzenegger. Sam Worthington (whose leading man career never took off in spite of Avatar, Terminator Salvation, and Clash of the Titans), Josh Holloway (Lost), Joe Manganiello (True Blood), Terrence Howard (Iron Man), and Max Martini (Pacific Rim) all try to out-macho each other as DEA agents. They are out-machoed by Mireille Enos (The Killing) as Lizzy and Olivia Williams (Dollhouse) as Caroline.

The characters are all cardboard cutouts. Poor Mireille Enos must have been told to act something the opposite of her character in the killing. Her portrayal of an addicted DEA agent is so over the top, it doesn’t just verge on parody, it revels in it. Still at least she seems to be having fun, Terrence Howard just seems embarrassed to be in the movie.

I have heard this movie described as an action version of Agatha Christie’s Ten Little Indians (aka And Then There Were None). The truth is that it is more like a bad slasher film until the killer is revealed. The movie is filled with an unreal amount of nonsense and just about the worst dialogue I have ever had to sit through.

There is a big climactic fight/chase scene that should end the movie. Unfortunately Ayer wants to wrap up the loose ends so Sabotage limps on for another quarter hour or so after the end for another action scene and ending. This final ending is just awful and I don’t mean full of awe. No spoilers but this is the most disappointing ending I have seen since Return of the King decided to have about seven different endings.

World War Z

Upon my return from the Mister White premiere, I promptly met my eldest daughter to go see World War Z.

One Line Review: World War Z isn’t World War Z but is tense and fun.

World War ZWorld War Z (2013) – Rated PG-13

United Nations employee Gerry Lane traverses the world in a race against time to stop the Zombie pandemic that is toppling armies and governments, and threatening to destroy humanity itself.”

I have to stress that this is not World War Z in any significant shape or form. Beth and I decided to enter into this putting aside our preconceived notions. Anyone who has read the novel and seen the trailer immediately suffers from cognitive dissonance. If you love the book, and there is much to love there, then you will need to disconnect or you won’t enjoy the movie.

One of our local critics has argued that it doesn’t matter if the film diverges from the book as long as it is a good movie. On the other hand, it would not be unreasonable to expect that a movie titled World War Z would be based on the book, World War Z.

Due to the trailer, the PG-13 rating (for a zombie film, are you kidding me?) and occasional news reports of how troubled the production was, I walked into World War Z with significantly lowered expectations. As a result, I was very pleasantly surprised.

The book told dozens of individual stories with only a small amount of overlap. Brad Pitt anchors the film as the protagonist everyman, Gerry Lane and is in every single scene. He is resourceful but not superhuman. Pitt has enough cinematic weight to carry the film and thankfully keeps his performance grounded.

The supporting cast is light on names but does well. Mireille (The Killing) Enos does well with a somewhat thankless role as Gerry’s wife. Daniella Kertesz does better with a rather juicy role as Israeli soldier Segen. David Morse steals the show with his brief role as a C.I.A. operative.

The film moves at a very brisk pace. Makeup effects are nice and while there is almost no gore (due to the PG-13 rating), there is still a great sense of urgency. World War Z does a good job of capturing the global scale of the pandemic. I was thankful that characters in this film appear to have heard of the term zombie – I resent movies that take place in a fictional vacuum where no one has ever heard of movies.

Scenes that I thought looked particularly silly in the trailer, namely the zombies climbing the wall, actually work quite well. World War Z is a fun big budget zombie movie – just don’t mistake it for World War Z. The biggest drawback to the movie (besides not adapting the book) is that Pitt has to be front and center in every scene. This would have worked better as an ensemble piece.

People Watch: I didn’t realize that Matthew (Lost) Fox was the parajumper until after the movie.