action

Tenet – Christopher Nolan (2020)

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Nolan made a 007-type movie with a super agent, a Bond-girl and an arch villain who wants to destroy the world. Of course he had to come up with a ‘mind-blowing’ theme as well.

So we have bad guys who found a way to manipulate time. This seems mostly in order to make the final scenes in which two times are shown simultaneously allowing Nolan to present pretty far-out CGI which in some ways are as awe-inspiring as in “Inception” (2010).

To get to this, Nolan had to come up with a way too complex theory to explain how that last scene can come to be. Throw in another complex story about how the bad guy makes his money and how he means to end the word and you not only have a vague concept, but a downright hard-to-follow film. At times I got a bit of a “Primer” (2004) feeling. Things may just have gotten a wee bit too complex.

For the rest you can expect some over-the-top action with plane crashes to get to a painting, shootouts, fistfights, romance and everything that you expect from a 007. The film makes an amusing circle towards the end that does make that I want to see this film again some time to see if I can make more sense of the complex story.

Good, entertaining, but after a first watch, a bit too much.

Watchmen (series) – Damon Lindelof (2019)

A quite original mini series this is. It is based on a graphic novel of the same name which has been turned into a film by Zack Snyder 10 years earlier.

“Watchmen” plays in an ‘alternative’ past and present. The Ku Klux Klan has mutated into the Seventh Kavalry and they are so powerful and dangerous that the police started wearing masks to prevent their identities becoming known and the Kavelry attacking them in their private lives. These masks became action-hero type clothing giving the series the action-comic feel.

Initially we follow a few of these police officers fighting the bad guys, but as the series continue, the focus shifts to a larger story that becomes increasingly strange. There are ‘off-elements’ such as a guy playing with clones, stories of a “Mr. Manhattan” that for a long time remain but stories.

Towards the end the series become pretty vague, yet interesting. The pre-last episodes brings a lot together. Unfortunately the very last episode is too explanatory and sentimental.

“Watchmen” make a very interesting series which brutally displays the racism of the imaginary and real past and present.

Ghost Rider – Mark Steven Johnson (2007)

This is quite a corny Marvel, a fairly amusing one though.

Johnny Blaze is a stunt motorcyclist who sells his soul to the devil so that the latter can cure his father of cancer. The devil plays a trick on Johnny. Also it takes a while before he comes pick up Johnny for his task: he will be a contract killer.

In a very over-the-top way, Johnny turns into a burning motor driving hitman during the night. In the meantime he runs into the love of his youth.

Not without reason Nicholas Cage was hired to play Johnny Blaze. I find some of the other actors less convincing for their parts. Overall the film is mostly cheap entertainment, but somewhat entertaining.

The Defenders (series) – Petrie & Ramirez (2017)

A while ago I felt like watching a bit of a gritty action series and ran into “Gotham”. As the title suggests, this is a “Batman” series. Well actually the series are from before Bruce Wayne became Batman. The series are alright, but there is a lot of drama, little action, soap and Hollywood moralism (like in the films). I wanted something with more action and started looking for Marvel series. Something amusing, action, superheroes. I found “The Defenders”.

Extra plus: there is but one season (Netflix does have a season two trailer). I had hoped for more over-the-top action with humor and funny villains. That did not entirely work out.

There are four people with “abilities” all working to make the city of New York safer on themselves. Circumstances bring the four together to fight a common enemy.

After a while it started to dawn on me that the four characters are action heroes in their own right. Indeed, each has a series of his/her own. “Daredevil”, “Jessica Jones”, “Luke Cage” and “Iron Fist”.

There is a lot of ‘kong fu fighting’, but it all remains a bit ‘teen’. The story is a bit thin, but there is something to laugh here and there. No superheroes flying from one building tot the next, running up and down walls, but there is the Matrix-like action and the occasional dress-up party.

Not boring, but not what I hoped to find.

The Dark Knight Rises – Christopher Nolan (2012)

Last week I was checking how/if I could watch titles on my wish list. I checked if Netflix already had Nolan’s latest (“Tenet”) and I was suggested the present title. I do not even know if I knew that Nolan made two “Dark Knight” films.

Reading back my review of the other “Dark Knight” film, I was amused by it. Less I can say about “The Dark Knight Rises” though…

Bruce Wayne is old(er) and retired. Quite some people seem to know that he was Batman. Events in Gotham (of course) make Wayne return to his former ‘status’.

We have a very unlikely story with the villain, both his past and his plans for Gotham (mostly the reasons for it). In a bit of a James Bond type of bad guy who wants to ruin the world story with some references to Wayne’s history, a fairly nice, gloomy film unfolds. Too bad that there are boring sentimentalist and moralist scenes and the all-too-human Bruce Wayne is a bit tiring too.

The film is alright, but I do not like the drama much. Towards the end, things get weaker and weaker and what remains is but a pomp Hollywood disaster movie.

Wheelman – Jeremy Rush (2017)

A get-away-car-driver-for-hire is hired for a job within his parole period. He does not like names, so he says: “just call me wheelman”. While waiting outside the bank that gets robbed by his temporary associates, he gets a call, apparently from the man who hired him. A crazy story unfolds.

Wheelman is first told to get rid of his associates and exchange the money. That does not feel right, so Wheelman takes off. He starts receiving calls from different people while his contact proves hard to reach. Not knowing which of the two callers is his biggest threat, Wheelman tries to avoid danger and figure out a plan while driving.

Almost the entire film plays inside the car. Wheelman has to take care of family business (his recently divorced wife and 13 year old daughter), two blackmailers and his contact in order to get out of the situation alive.

“Wheelman” is an alright action film.

Red 2 – Robert Schwentke (2013)

Light Netflix entertainment. Apparently at some point I also saw the first “Red”. Judging my review of part 1, I found it entertaining.

Bruce Willis is again an old superhero. He is approached by his friend and former colleague Marvin (a weird John Malkovich) and talked into another assignment.

Just as with the first film, there is a stack of big actors in this film. One of them is the marvellous Catherine Zeta-Jones, but there are also David Tewlis (always fun) and a highly amusing Anthony Hopkins.

Some bad guys have bad plans with the world, Frank and company set out to prevent it. There is of course action, humour and a little romance.

Light entertainment, but not bad.

Smokey And The Bandit – Hal Needham (1977)

A classic on Netflix. This film is about as old as myself. Of course I saw it some time, probably decades ago. There is one scene that I remembered.

The main character is “Bandit” played by Burt Reynolds. “Smokey” is his buddy, or partner in crime perhaps.

Reynold’s character is a truck driver, or was he a stuntman, who takes an illegal job to pick up a load of beer in a neighboring state. Not only that, he has less time than anybody has managed to make that tour in the first place. Apparently he has done the same before, because he puts his buddy in his truck and he gets a fast car for himself to distract the police so they will not investigate the truck.

So the whole film we see wild boy Bandit being chased by the police, raising his problems by picking up a girl along the way. His hero status comes in handy will all kinds of help.

The film is still very amusing.

Hudson Hawk – Michael Lehmann (1991)

I was looking for something light to watch on Netflix and ran into this classic action comedy with Bruce Willis. Well, this is light entertainment.

Willis is Hudson Hawk, a master thief who immediately when he comes out of 10 years imprisonment is forced into new jobs. The film is a bit screwball, but the promising trailer seems to contain all the jokes.

There is a bit of a Da Vinci Code twist to the story as Leonardo da Vinci hid three parts of a diamond that combined he used for his gold making machine and of course the bad guys are after these parts and Hudson Hawk is forced to steal them in elaborate ways.

Amusing, but not great.

Jack Reacher – Christopher McQuarrie (2012)

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One of these Bourne type action thrillers with an elusive superman, this time played by Tom Cruise.

A man shoots five people, seemingly at random. Easily caught and on his way to death penalty, he asks for Jack Reacher, a man who vanished from the face of the earth.

Of course Reacher shows up, investigates and solves the case, but not without a good deal of action.

13-In-a-dozen, but not bad.