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.

44 Inch Chest

Okay the mediocrity of yesterday’s Dead Cert left me with an urge for a good British gangster flick. 44 Inch Chest is currently available on instant Netflix.

44 Inch Chest (2009) – Rated R

“After his wife, Liz (Joanne Whalley), cheats on him, gangster Colin Diamond (Ray Winstone) gets his revenge by enlisting his underworld pals to kidnap her hunky French lover (Melvil Poupaud) in the feature debut of director Malcolm Venville. Top British actors, including Ian McShane, John Hurt and Tom Wilkinson, round out the cast of the crime thriller, penned by the screenwriters of another memorable Winstone vehicle, Sexy Beast.”

“Love’s hard work, hard graft. Love can be murder. Love is watching what she wants to watch on the telly, taking her the papers and a cup of tea on a Sunday morning in bed and inquiring to how she might be feeling, “You all right, Liz?” whilst plumping up her pillows. “

Warning: When this says it is rated R for strong language, they mean it. According to imdb, the F bomb is dropped 162 times in this movie and that isn’t the worst of the language. I’ve never heard the C bomb dropped so often in any movie but it means a lot less in Britain than it does here in the States.

Well I liked the British B-list class of actors in Dead Cert. Steven Berkoff and Dave Legeno from that film also appear in this but 44 Inch Chest has much bigger names to throw around. Ian McShane (a favorite of mine since Deadwood), John Hurt (ditto but since Alien), Tom Wilkinson (Batman Begins), and Stephen Dillane (Stannis Baratheon in Game of Thrones) all star here. They are all here to backup Ray Winstone as cuckolded gangster Colin.

The film opens brilliantly with Colin (Ray Winstone) lying amid the wreckage of his living room with the strains of “Without You” playing over the stereo. Most of the rest of the film is just Colin in a room with his mates and Loverboy (I like that we never know his name).

I really don’t mind language. Actually I love language, harsh or otherwise. I don’t use harsh language much myself – I dropped something yesterday, accidentally said ‘crap’ and had it repeated immediately by my two-year-old granddaughter. Whoops! South Park: The Movie used the volume of harsh language to humorous effect. The HBO series Deadwood used harsh language lyrically in a splendid combination of cursing, historical slang, and poetry.

Unfortunately 44 Inch Chest simply throws in language willy-nilly. It is important to throw in enough language to show how salty these friends are, particularly John Hurt’s misogynist character. Sadly they often go over the line into self-parody.

In spite of the nice cast, the movie goes nowhere for the first two acts. The third act has a few interesting revelations but is not terribly well-handled.

Be aware that in spite of the Netflix description, this is by no means a crime thriller. It is meant to be an introspective character study of Colin with some window dressing. It is mildly interesting but could have been really good with a better director and screenwriter.

People Watch: Derek Lea who plays Bumface is normally a stuntman and has worked on Titanic, Saving Private Ryan, Gladiator, Troy and many others,