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Leonidas vs. 300 North Koreans

You couldn’t have forgotten Leonidas (Gerard Butler) and his brave 300 against the Persian army where every single Spartan is a one-man army. Well, in “Olympus has fallen” Gerard Butler is once again a one-man army in present days. He is an ex-Secret Service agent who happens to be in the right place at the right time and manages to save the world from a nuclear crisis and even more.

olympus-has-fallen“Olympus has fallen” is a pretty decent action flick with many visual effects, shootouts and the one thing missing is maybe a body counter. But please don’t try to think of the numerous plot holes that emerge one after the other because they may turn out to be even more than the people Butler kills in the movie. The story is about some North Korean terrorist group that manages to turn the White House into ruins and take the President of the US as a hostage. Their goal is to launch some “genius” super system that is able to launch a nuclear apocalypse in the US. The one thing standing between this plan and its fulfillment is Gerard Butler. Although for 18 months he hasn’t been a Secret Service agent he seems to have gotten even better and better and while all his currently active colleagues act like stupid targets at a shooting range, he is an indestructible killing machine.

Two things distinguish “Olympus has fallen” from the late 80s action movies all with body counters. The first thing are the killings in cold blood without much talking which seem to become popular in some recent actions/thrillers. The other thing is the presence of famous actors like Morgan Freeman and Aaron Eckhart who manage up to a point to keep up the level of the movie but it’s just not enough. Even the great Morgan Freeman is not persuasive enough.

I think the movie’s biggest flaw and maybe at the same time main source of spectacular scenes is the reaction of all of other Secret Service agents, police, military etc. who act as if they just want to be shot down, just to allow Gerard Butler to be the only one standing. I appreciate though couple of scenes with the participation of the eternal Gatling gun as a part of a concept weapon called “Hydra” which is able to take down half a dozen of helicopters within coupe of seconds.

As a conclusion, “Olympus has fallen” is an excellent action movie for the criteria of the late 80s/early to mid 90s where the one-man armies were very popular. But hey, I thought that concept had its time in the past and it is high time to move on with something more innovative.


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John McClane forever

Die hard with a vengeance” and “Live free or die hard” are the best movies from the “Die hard” sequels. I think Bruce Willis is pretty good in all of them but it is the directing and script that make the difference in those two specific installments. The fifth movie was a pretty good example that Bruce Willis alone can’t make the movie stand out and the end result was pretty shallow.

diehard3Summer in the city

The third movie is almost twenty years old but it is still one of the best action movies of all time. Bruce Willis teams up with Samuel Jackson and I must say they make quite a good team against the villain Jeremy Irons. I think the working formula that leads to the successful result is the constant dynamic of dragging officer McClane and his partner across whole New York so that they can solve some tasks of the twisted plot of Jeremy Irons and prevent bombs from detonating across the crowded city. As usual the goal of the villain is to steal a lot of money and the thing that distinguishes it from other similar stories is the scale. Jeremy Irons steals all the gold in the Federal Reserve which equals some 140 billion dollars. The nice thing is that unlike many contemporary action thrillers where the bad guys steal all the money through some complicated scheme with a computer program or virus, in “Die hard 3” it is just the brutal force approach. Just blow up something, let the cops chase their tales, bring in the heavy hardware and take the gold.

John McClane is an old school tough cop who has seen enough from all sorts of criminals and he is just good at finding them and killing them all with minimum collateral casualties. Watching the third movie you will see the cult crazy taxi driving across Central Park, the great scenery of New York at the beginning of the movie that at once turns into a huge detonation and much more.

Live Free or Die Hard (2007)Timex in the digital age

In the forth movie Bruce Willis is a senior detective and he is just as old school as he always has been. This time the villain is the computer genius Timothy Oliphant (Thomas Gabriel) who is pretty good at his role. John McClane’s side kick in this installment is the computer hacker Justin Long. They both manage to systematically trace and kill Thomas’ villain crew and save the entire country from the so called “fire-sale” where Timothy Olyphant after all is naturally again after all the money.

“Die hard 4.0” is awesome twelve years after its predecessor because it puts against each other John McClane’s old school but effective techniques and the weapons of the digital age where everything is manipulated by computers and is somehow vulnerable if you know how to beat the system. Bruce Willis’ tactics leave as usual a trail of destruction after him in his path of finding and killing the bad guys, but this is the key to the success of the movie. At the end of the movie there is a little cheese in the plot where the bad guy decides to kidnap McClane’s daughter and use her as a bargaining chip but hey, it is a small disadvantage in the overall good impression.

According to IMDb in 2015 we should expect another movie with the eternal John McClane where he is supposed to die hardest. Stay tuned!


Rambo 4 action scenes

rambo-4cover“Rambo” is the movie sequel that made half of Sylvester Stallone‘s image during his acting career. The other half is the “Rocky” sequel.

Rambo 4 is in my opinion the movie that resurrected the sequel and gave it a proper ending. To a great extent the reason for its success is the harshness and pure brutality of the movie. There is a lot of blood, shootouts, violent detonations and huge dose of Stallone’s stone cold presence and muscle power.

Here is an extract of some of the most spectacular scenes from the movie:

1. River pirates – fastest shootout by a single person in the movie history. Only comparable to the shootouts speed in the “Expendables”, also delivered by Sylvester Stallone.

2. Night sniper – a sniper shootout with the movie industry’s favorite sniper rifle (see more of it here)

3. Bomb chase – this is the scene where Rambo made the run of a lifetime, and he had a reason. He was running away from one of the most spectacular detonations in action movies ever.

4. Grand finale – biggest shootout in Rambo 4 – five and a half minutes pure madness. The one thing missing was a body counter.


Luke Evans – a new rising star?

evansI have seen Luke Evans in couple of his earlier roles in the movies “Immortals” and “The three musketeers”. I have even forgotten those roles since they were of a supporting actor at most and his performances haven’t impressed me at all. That was until “Fast and Furious 6” when he played the role of Owen Shaw – a ruthless international criminal. And “ruthless” is the right word I think describes Luke Evans’ acting style. At least it is something he is good at performing.

 

The ruthless criminal

luke-evans-fast-6-imageIn “Fast and furious 6” Luke Evans (Owen Shaw) is cold, precise and calculating. My personal opinion is that he made quite a good role in the that “Fast and Furious” installment and he must take some of the credits for the overall movie success. Owen Shaw alone managed to stand up to Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson and hold his ground. And he made it with a piercing look at his face that will be remembered.

The psychopath

No One Lives“No one lives” is a horror thriller about a concealed serial killer psychopath whose path is crossed by a “regular” gang of criminals. The “poor” criminals initially have no idea what they have done and very soon they begin to die like flies. This is not a movie I would recommend but still the interesting part is the performance of Luke Evans, this time in the leading role of the killer. What you clearly take out of the movie is the same ruthless but also brutal style of his character who kills his victims in an unimaginable manner. The other specific thing about the movie is that at the end the psychopath comes out alive and ready for new brutal deeds.

So the question that pops up at the end is whether we will see Luke Evans in more and more movies with even bigger roles or that was just a momentary flash of an acting to remember. What we know for sure out of his IMDb filmography reference is that we will have the pleasure to see him in the “Hobbit” films that are still to come. Stay tuned!

Revenge is a dish best served cold

Dead-Man-DownDead Man Down” is a movie about revenge – deserved, long planned and in cold blood. Colin Farrell is a man whose family has been murdered by a criminal boss (Terrence Howard in the role of Alphonse) and his goal to have his revenge has become the new meaning of his life. Colin Farrell’s character Victor has managed to infiltrate Alphonse’s organization and has become one of his most trusted mercenaries. He has even saved his life only to have the chance to kill him himself. Although it is a trivial story of a regular man with military background who seeks revenge for his lost family, it has some strong points and the movie manages to keep the viewer’s attention. I think Colin Farrell made a good but not great role and still deserves most of the credits for the overall good impression.

The movie is split in two story lines. The one is about Victor and the second one is about a woman (Noomi Rapace) who remained with marked face after a car accident with a drunk driver. In this second story branch Noomi Rapace (Beatrice) also wants revenge with the drunk driver because the scars on her face and the car accident have ruined her life. Beatrice wants the other man dead and she also happens to be a neighbor of Victor. After being a witness of a murder committed by Victor, Beatrice uses that and blackmails him to kill the drunk driver for her. This is where the two story lines collide and from that point the two main characters get to know each other and their past.

IMG_2896.CR2The movie makes you think of the sacrifices one man is willing to make so that he can have his revenge. It tries to show how this could give you purpose, discipline, dedication and motivation to commit terrible but still somehow rightful deeds. On the other hand is Beatrice whose will to see the man responsible for her disfiguration dead, could be interpreted as exaggerated. The movie ending makes you ask yourself whether that other man really deserved to die or it would have been too much.

Colin Farrell and Noomi Rapace make an interesting couple of leading characters and I think she was a perfect choice for the role she played. Couple of spectacular action scenes also add up to the good movie impression. As a conclusion it is a pretty decent movie with a few surprising moments which keep the viewer’s interest. It could also make you think for a little longer on the story and the characters involved.


Hardly a better sequel resurrection ever

The fast and the furious” is a bright example how a sequel could be brought back to life with the right approach. And I think most of the credits must go to the director Justin Lin. Although he is the director also of the third movie – “Tokyo drift“, up to this movie the sequel was moving headlong to a highly cheesy conclusion. And then something happened – the fourth installment which brought the crew from the first movie together. It turned out that the new model with the original parts was the key to success that continues to work two movies after that.

Fast-&-FuriousThe fans like Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and Bryan O’Connor (Paul Walker) and the air they create around them when they pull off the next job. In the fourth movie the job is to capture the known drug dealer Arturo Braga. Dom wants revenge because Braga is the reason Dom’s girlfriend Letty is murdered. Bryan on the other hand is now working for the FBI and this is his job. As the movie goes Bryan gets back together with Dom’s sister Mia, regains Dom’s trust and everything looks right.

I must say “Fast and Furious” (2009) is one of my “Personal best” movies because as couple of others like it it creates some kind of special air that affects me subconsciously. And I am pretty sure it is Justin Lin’s approach and well directed scenes that are to “blame”. The fifth and sixth installments (“Fast five” and “Furious 6”) are also pretty good and they even have one huge bonus – Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson – as an addition, but to me personally the fourth one remains the best of them all.

One of the main reasons “Fast and Furious” makes me such good impression is that the characters have somehow evolved, they are now more mature, more is at stake if they make mistakes and they feel more confident with their actions. Naturally there are couple of cult scenes that make the movie what it is – the initial scene with the gas tanks, later the race on open streets in L.A. and the chase in the underground tunnels.

It can’t be denied that a lot of credits must go for the two main actors – Paul Walker and especially Vin Diesel. It’s a fact that the success of the whole sequel would have been impossible without Dominic Toretto. A proof of that is the second movie where only “Blondy” (Bryan) was available and the overall result was entertaining but cheesy.

Currently the sixth movie is on the run in theaters and it is quite good too. Can’t wait for the next one next year – with the new addition to the actors cast Jason Statham. Stay tuned!


Saving Morpheus

Here is to your attention another spectacular action scene with the eternal Gatling gun. This time it is from “The Matrix” – when Neo saves Morpheus.

Here is a more extended scene with some more action.

Good Will Hunting

Matt Damon is 27 years old when he makes one of his best performances in “Good Will Hunting” (1997). When I quickly make a review of his filmography in IMDb, this is his earliest movie I have seen so far. And yet it has its honorable place in my “Personal best” selection.

Good_Will_Hunting_theatrical_posterI love the movie not only because of the top performances of Matt Damon (Will Hunting) and Robin Williams, but also because the story is made of layers and layers and layers and every time I watch it I could find new messages, new hidden lines in the dialogues.

It is all about a young man from South Boston, an orphan who had a tough and an unhappy past but turns out to be a mathematical genius. It is a story of whether you are supposed to do what you like to do, what are meant to be or you will choose to follow what your heart says. I managed to extract couple of messages I gave serious thoughts about.

People around us

The first impression the movies gives about Will is that he is losing his time with his friends and is some kind of reckless small-time bully who has difficulties keeping his low qualified jobs. The job he has at the moment is a janitor in the MIT. Is this choice of work accidental? Maybe not. As it quickly turns out he is a mathematical genius and when no one is watching gives solutions to tasks which are difficult even for the most advanced students and even professors in the institute. And that is easy for him. As he describes it himself later in the movie, to him it is as playing the piano for Beethoven. Will has a gift, a unique talent that he secretly wants to use so that he could prove to all other rich kids with their expensive education that an orphan like him, a nobody, is capable of so much. In some way it makes you think of the people we don’t know and see on a regular daily basis and have no idea who they are, what they are capable of. Unfortunately in many cases those people who truly have talents and are truly special in some way, never get revealed.

good-will-hunting1Giving a direction

Will’s talent is found by the Professor of Mathematics Gerald Lambeau (Stellan Skarsgård) who teaches in the MIT. Very quickly Gerry realizes Will’s gift and all he wants is to give him a direction to develop his talent. He is certain that Will is going to be a phenomenon and his work could be compared to the one of Albert Einstein and other famous scientists. According to Gerry’s own words, he can’t stay calm when he knows that someone like Will exists. The professor is one of those people who loves what he does, he even compares finding a mathematical solution to poetry. And this is why he wants to push Will in a direction where he would be able to achieve spectacular things and his contribution could leave huge trails in history.

The right approach

In order for Will to avoid jail time after another fight, he has to visit psycho therapist and here comes Robin Williams (Sean Maguire). To be honest I haven’t seen matt-damon-good-will-huntingmuch of his performances and I suspect I have skipped a lot. I must even say that his role in “Good Will Hunting” made me such huge impression that this and couple of other roles form my entire vision of this actor.
On their first meeting Will manages to very quickly enrage Sean and arrogantly poke in an open wound of the therapist without even knowing his background. Fortunately for both of them Sean doesn’t give up on him and agrees that they meet again. Their conversations to come are quite powerful and meaningful and oppose pure knowledge and theory to real life experience. With those meetings Sean manages to go beyond the barriers Will has put in front of him and teaches the boy important lessons of life.

Do what you feel is right

It is quite interesting how on one hand the professor pushes Will to a great and prosperous future and on the other hand the therapist Sean spares him from that light forWillHuntingm of manipulation. Sean wants that Will finds his own way, without pressure, but also without wasting his talent and continuing with his childish behavior. I personally think that at the end the story is all about how you could overcome a difficult past and find the way in your life. The important thing is that you must feel this is the right way for you, you shouldn’t allow yourself to live according to someone else’s visions and ambitions. And all it takes could be a small push with the right approach in the right direction.


Let’s go make some magic

“I don’t want to be a good man, I want to be a great man!” “Oz the great and powerful” teaches though that in some cases goodness is better than greatness.

oz-the-great-and-powerful_1James Franco is in the role of Oz – a circus magician who has big dreams and anticipations but so far hasn’t achieved much more than tricking beautiful girls to be his assistants in his performances. Very soon though his tricks and lies bounce back and he is on the run from a colleague circus performer. Using his balloon he escapes but very soon is sucked into a tornado and supernaturally gets into the magic land of Oz.

An interesting feature of the movie is that until Oz arrives in this fantasy land the picture width is in half and everything is in black and white. With his arrival though in the land of Oz, the picture expands, it gets for the first time colorful and it delivers an astonishing scenery with even more spectacular colors.

From then on the story follows an already known plot from other similar fantasy and fairytale-alike movies where the newcomer will free the innocent people of Oz from the evil witches and everyone will live happily ever after. I don’t think this is the strong side of the movie, because everything is pretty much very predictable and there are no surprises.

oz-the-great-and-powerful

A strong side of the film are the sceneries it presents and the beautiful rendering of some of the fantasy creatures of Oz. Another thing worth mentioning are couple of scenes with the participation of James Franco which hint at the qualities of the actor and that we should expect a lot from him in the near future.

Overall a nice family movie that all small and grown-up kids will enjoy.


Protect your family

Dwayne Johnson has gone long way from the wrestler known as “The Rock” to one of the most highly paid actors in Hollywood. What I like about him, unlike other WWF/WWE wrestlers who tried to same wrestler-to-actor path, is that from the very beginning of his acting career up to now, he has proved to have the potential and intelligence to participate in big projects with other proven and well known actors. One other thing is that he has a very distinctive acting style, name it macho style if you like, that allows him to always play strong willed characters. His actor development has also allowed him recently to play more serious and dramatic characters.

One of those characters is in “Snitch” where The Rock (John Matthews) is a father whose son made the naive and stupid mistake to smuggle drugs with the intention of making easy money. When John finds out his son faces serious charges and long time imprisonment, he decides to cooperate with the DEA so that he can free his son.

I like Dwayne Johnson’s role here because unlike the characters he has played in other action movies, in this one he is not invincible or unbeatable, he doesn’t knock down ten people at once with one stroke. In this movie he emphasizes on the character qualities and strives to deliver not pure action hero performance but more dramatic and intense one.

SnitchThe movie delivers couple of important messages. The first and most valuable one is that the family is the most important thing in your life and you have to do anything in your power to protect it. In the movie although John is divorced and has started a new family, he has a son from his previous marriage. He is his own blood and he never gives up on him. John is willing to risk his own life without hesitation so that he can protect his son.

If there is a will, there is a way. And with little luck, you will make it through. Use what you have, be smart, apply what you are good at, don’t pretend to be someone else and you will be able to achieve your goals. This is the other message the movie teaches and although it sounds trivial, I am convinced that persistence and measured bravery are always rewarded.

Of course, Dwayne Johnson’s performance is inspiring because it shows again that a regular person could achieve something extraordinary and all it takes is courage, strong will and good dosage of luck.