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Bullet Train – David Leitch (2022)

Brad Pitt returns to the violent action comedy genre as the goofy “Ladybug” who is a former hitman who has retired. He is returning to his old profession though, but he will only do easy jobs, such as picking up a case on a Japanese high speed train (from the title).

But there is also the story of Kimura whose son was pushed off a roof who sets out to find the perpetrator. Also we have Wolf, a Mexican criminal whose family, including his wife, was killed during the wedding. Tangerine and Lemmon are two hip criminals who are also on the train for another job. Needless to say that the storylines get together as the film continues.

“Bullet Train” is a film as we have seen before. Witty dialogues, over-the-top bloody scenes, dark humour, action and a story that unfolds before the viewer. The result is an amusing movie with amusing elements of Japanese culture, Thomas the Train and well-read bad people.

The Gray Man – Anthony & Joe Russo (2022)

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So that he would not be remembered for playing in slow action films, Ryan Gosling plays in a fast one.

In a typical story undercover agent Six has to retrieve a single object that apparently can cause world destruction. Of course his boss turns against him (or the other way around), so not only the enemy, but also his own organisation hunts him down. Unsurprisingly, Six turns out to be an uncatchable one man army.

In spite of the unoriginal and predictable story, “The Gray Man” is a descent over-the-top action film with a lot of fighting and shooting and not to forget Ana de Armas as Dani and Billy Bob Thornton as the bad guy.

The 355 – Simon Kinberg (2022)

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A female version of “The Expendables”? Nah, the ladies in “The 355” are not that old. But it sure is some sort of women actor reunion action film.

In a typical 007 actionfilm story, a group of bad guys has bad plans with the world and some secret service heroes are going to prevent that. Working for different secret services and innocent bystanders form a team to prevent the sale of a device that can disrupt the entire world.

The film is fairly amusing. Pretty women, action, chasing scenes, just your alright action film and certainly not boring.

Knightfall (series) – Handfield & Rayner (2017-2019)

The story of the Knights Templar in a somewhat historical manner.

We mostly follow Landry who quite against his own will, becomes the master Templar of the Paris temple when his predecessor dies. The first season is mostly about Landry looking for the Holy Grail that the Templars lost during a lost battle at Akko in 1291. During that battle the grail was lost, but it appears to have resurfaced in France.

Landry is a friend to the King of France (Philip IV 1268-1314), but also the lover the the king’s wife (Joan I of Navarre (1273-1305) which is basically the start of a lot of problems.

In spite of the lost battle of Akko, the Templar Knights thrive under the protection of the Pope and the King of France, but raptures start to appear in the relationship. First, the King of France is after the Grail as well, thinking it would increase his power. To obtain that power, he first sets up the Pope (Boniface III 1230-1303) against the Templar Knights and then even replaces the Pope with Clement V (1264-1314). Both Popes, especially the former, have their own agendas of course.

The series make a drama with love, drama, brotherhood, honour, fighting and battle scenes and a lot of intrigue. Here and there there are historical elements, but do not see the series as a history lesson.

Of course the Templar Knights eventually loose their organisation and their lives, but not without a fight.

Not boring, but not great either.

The Matrix Resurrections – Lana Wachowski (2021)

The fourth Matrix is both ‘more of the same’ and some elements have been added and left out. Lana Wachowski made some sort of rewind of the earlier films with scenes that are almost exactly alike and with flashbacks. In general, the first part of “Resurrections” is a bit of a summery of the first film and a bit of the next two.

Thomas Andersson is a celebrated, yet plagued game designer who has had episodes of not being able to distinguish reality from game. So the first three Matrix films are now seen as classic games that sprang from the mind of Andersson.

The company he works for picks up the idea for a fourth part so Wachowski could make some jokes about money and franchise. Of course this is also the step up to Andersson wondering what is real and what is not. Basically the story of the previous films in a slightly updated form.

As we got used to, we have the film playing within and without the matrix and Wachowski has brought back a whole lot of the original actors. Some characters are played by new actors though and the story was adjusted accordingly. The familiar actors bring some amusing scenes.

As you can see in the poster, Trinity apparently did not die in part three and the film is mostly about Neo again trying to find her. Naturally for this he has to find old and new enemies and he encounters new and old people on his side.

“Resurrections” is not the shoot-out that number two was. There is some action here and there which does not look as groundbreaking as in the original films in their time. As I said, there are a few new elements. Also there is a new twist to the whole matrix theme, but do not expect huge surprises.

“Resurrections” is an amusing film, but I do not think it will be anywhere near the classic the original film still is.

Travelers (series) – Brad Wright (3 seasons 2016-2018)

And yet another Netflix series that is just not boring enough to end watching prematurely. By the time I thought to cut if off, I noticed there were only six episodes left, so I sat it out.

“Travelers” is not really bad or boring, but it is not really good either. Story wise it is at least different from all the serial killer thriller series that have been put out for decades. Mankind caused its own demise and in the future a way of sending consciousness back in time has been discovered. “Travelers” are sent back to try to give history a push in a better direction.

In the future, every detail of our current time is known, so also when somebody historically dies. It is at that moment that a “traveler” consciousness takes over the body of the “host”. Travelers working in teams get missions from “the director”, usually to prevent some sort of disaster.

These travelers -of course- fall in the life of a person who used to live, so they have to try to live with a partner, work, etc. of somebody else and at the same time perform the missions as are given.

So we have the drama of partners not recognising their spouses, the events of the life of the ‘host’, partners from the future whose lives are more or less separated in “the twenty first” and then of course action because of the missions. Also future technology employed in the present. The characters develop somewhat, both the ‘host’ character as the ‘future’ character. There is an underlying story that is worked out a bit. There are also less logical elements. How does the prevention of the collaps of a bridge that would have killed some people help the demise of humanity in the future? You get it, there are ‘filler episodes’.

“Travelers” has a couple of beautiful women, amusing characters, an alright story. All in all just not boring enough to end watching.

Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn – Cathy Yan (2020)

The cover suggests an action comic comedy of sorts and that proved to be true. The film appears to lift on the “Gotham” franchise. Harley Quinn from the title is a weird girl who could do whatever she wanted as long as she was the lady of the Joker. After the two broke up, Quinn finds out she has more enemies than she imagined.

The film is a women-power action with witty dialogues and strange characters. Especially in the beginning, there are a lot of comic-elements which slowly die out as the film continues. The movie itself becomes less interesting as it goes on in general.

The film has some actors who apparently wanted to make something lighter for a change. From the “Gotham” franchise there is one character that I was familiar with: Victor Zsasz, whose character is more interesting in the “Gotham” series.

Should you be interested in the detail. While the series play before the emergence of Batman, this film comes after.

An alright watch for when you are looking for something easy.

No Time To Die – Cary Joji Fukunaga (2021)

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We got to see the ‘corona Bond’ just before evening lockdown. Postponed a couple of times and now when the new 007 plays in the cinemas, they have to close at 5 PM. So we and a few others made it rainy afternoon movie.

Bond is retired, but of course not really. “No Time To Die” brings back many familiar faces, which is pretty amusing. Fukunaga also introduced the follow-up of Daniel Graig. 007 In “No Time To Die” is not only black, but also a woman: Lashana Lynch. Even though a tough girl, she is still a bit of a sidekick to Graig, so I wonder how they are going to make her the hero of the next Bond.

Storywise there are no real surprises. Well, perhaps some small ones. As we are used to, there is a villain with bad plans for the world and Bond sets out to stop him.

The cliffhanger is pretty much over-the-top, but overall “No Time To Die” fortunately did not become a complete shootout. There are some amusing scenes. Of course there are pretty ladies (Ana de Armas presents one of the sexiest fighting scenes of late) and a cunning plan to decimate mankind.

“No Time To Die” is an amusing film. I do not know if it will become a Bond classic, but of course, it being the goodbye film for Daniel Graig, there is something to remember it for. The goodbye is rather lengthy and dramatic by the way.

Gotham (series) – Bruno Heller (2014-2019)

This has been long ‘in the watching’. Some years ago I was looking for a ‘filler up series’. Something to watch when I had 45 minutes to spare. I figured a “Batman” theme series would be nicely gloomy.

“Gotham” is a ‘prequel’ to the Batman franchise. The main character in the five seasons is not really Bruce Wayne, but rather “GCPD” officer James/Jim Gordon. Gordon wants to do everything correct, but this makes him both a hero as an enemy to many. All this shifting between him being the good guy and the bad guy is not really worked out that well in my opinion.

Of course there is Bruce Wayne. Just as in the movies, he is usually accompanied by his “butler” Alfred Pennyworth. In the first seasons, Wayne is a winy little brat, a bit of a drama queen. Actually this remains mostly so as the series continue. In general, his character is not worked out well enough to carry the series.

The series have characters that you will know from the films. The “catwoman” actually has a name in the series: Selina Kyle who develops a bit of a love/hate relationship with Wayne.

The series contain some themes that are (somewhat) familiar. The authors have tried to ‘foreshadow’ elements from the films. To fill up the episodes there are also a whole range of fairly boring bad guys who want James Gordon dead. These storylines are as unlikely or thin as the next and sometimes they appear and disappear when enough episodes have been filled.

A few characters undergo massive character changes, especially Gordons first girlfriend Barbara Kean, which is not always wildly interesting, but which sure brings a red thread to the series. Worked out better is “Penguin” (Oswald Cobblepot). Quite overdone, but sometimes nicely so, “The Riddler” (Edward Nygma).

In any case, way towards the end, the bridge to Batman is made. “Gotham” as a series is about the city where Batman rose before he did. The series are not great, but not bad enough to stop watching either.

Terminator movie series 1984-2019

In 2015 I saw “Genisys” on the big screen. I liked it a lot. Some weeks ago I finally got to watch “Dark Fate” and I liked it even better. I decided to watch all Terminator films in chronological order, as the two latest films refer back a lot to the early movies, so I wondered if there would be some sort of storyline.

Yes and no. Most movies refer to events in the other ones, but as time-travel remains the main part of the stories, films do not have to fit story-wise. In one film Skynet is killed, before it is born, in alternative future there still was a Skynet to send back machines in time. Or Sarah Conner is dead in one film and is not in another. Most films are in chronological time-lines too, but this is not always the casae.

So, in 1984 we had the original “The Terminator” (James Cameron). It is still a fun watch. The special effects are a bit dated (sometimes reminding on Cronenberg body horror though). Schwarzenegger is sent back in time to kill the mother (Sarah Connor) who would later give birth to the leader of the resistance against the machines. It is Connor himself who sends back Kyle Reese who is incidentally also his father. The film has a great 1980’ies feel with 1980’ies music.

In 1991 the same director made the epic “Terminator 2: Judgement Day. This time it becomes clear that again a terminator and a protector are sent back in time and Schwarzenegger is the protector. Of the young John Connor himself this time. A great movie unfolds with a still impressive liquid terminator.

Jonathan Mostow took over in 2003 with “Rise Of The Machines”. Here we have a sexy terminator and Schwarzegger again as protector of John Connor. Just as the previous two films, this film contains brutal violence. The film is pretty much over-the-top and even though amusing, it does not reach the level of the second film.

Again a new director in 2009 “MvG”. “Salvation” is by and far the least interesting film of the series. It plays only in the dystopian future in which the AI that humans developed has calculated that it is better for itself to terminate humanity. After throwing some nuclear bombs, killer machines (terminators) roam the earth to finish off the last living people. A resistance has grown which is led by John Connor. The resistance is after the destruction of the main system. What does not help, is that Schwarzenegger did not join the cast. He is only shown a few minutes in CGI.

Then we have “Genisys” (2015) Alan Taylor and “Dark Fate” (2019 Tim Miller), which are both reviewed. “Dark Fate” is most interesting movie-wise. The whole cast is present, including Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor. Story-wise this one is … alright. A ‘new’ Sarah Connor (Dani Ramos played by Natalie Reyes) is under threat as she is going to give birth to the father of John Connor. It takes a while before Schwarzegger returns, but he is at his best.
“Genisys” has an interesting twist to the John Connor story. Story-wise this one is good, movie-wise I prefer “Dark Fate”.

5 Out of 6 Terminator films are very enjoyable, in spite of the different directors. The cross-references are well done, the brutal violence is still brutal, the humour is usually good. The newer films have a bit too much of the obligatory drama, perhaps the older do too. They are big budget, big audience Hollywood productions of course. Be that as it may, I enjoyed watching all film a lot. It seems there are is a spin-off series about Sarah and John Connor. Perhaps I am going to see if I can get my hands on that one too.