Category Archives: thriller

The Watcher – Joe Charbanic (2000)

A descent serial-killer-thriller in which Keanu Reeves is the bad guy playing his sick game with FBI agent Campbell (James Spader).

The story may not be too surprising, but it is worked out well and the predictability adds to the tension in some scenes. The film contains some tense scenes and some action. The acting is good, the ending perhaps a bit too sudden.

Spartan – David Mamet (2004)

Here we have a fairly standard, but descent, action thriller. The opening is a bit confusing. Is Scott (Val Kilmer) some elite soldier, does he work for a secret service or both? We find him (helping) recruiting people and immediately after he is recruited himself for a job in which the daughter of a candidate for presidency is kidnapped.

From then on, “Spartan” is more straightforward. Scott and his team set out to investigate the kidnapping. It soon appears that some women’s trafficking group took a blonde not knowing who she is and the circle for investigation becomes wider and wider and people’s purposes become vaguer (or not).

The film has nicely built up tension, descent action, a good parts of Ed O’Neill and William H. Macy (both I know for very different roles).

Not a must-see, but not a waste of time either.

River’s Edge – Tim Hunter (1986)

I found this film when I was checking what else directors of the original “Twin Peaks” series have made. Keanu Reeves and Tim Hopper’s names further caught my attention. “River’s Edge” is one of Reeves’ first full-length films.

The film follows some troublesome kids in a small community. When one kills a class-mate, the group is tossed between loyalty to friends and the memory of the class-mate.

Hunter made an alright film about youngsters who care little about what their parents think, but who eventually have to ‘give in to real life’.

Get Out – Jordan Peele (2017)

I guess I have missed why this film is so well-received. It is a very predictable thriller with horror elements. I guess it is because it points towards contemporary (latent) racism.

The white Rose brings her black boyfriend Chris for a weekend with her parents. Soon there proves to be a big family party in the same weekend. It is immediately clear that something is wrong in the family and the film takes no unexpected turns. Perhaps that is even a good thing now every film puts in as many plot changes as possible.

Besides a few descent scenes, the atmosphere is not too good. “Get Out” remains a less than average horror thriller.

Basic – John McTiernan (2003)

I usually have some ‘spare films’ for when I did not receive my rental films yet. A while ago I bought a box with four thrillers from the early 00’s. “Basic” is the second that I watched.

John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson, that could be something, right? “Basic” certainly is not a boring film. A group of rangers disappear during a training. They appear to have attacked each other. Hardy (Travolta) is sent to investigate the matter, mostly the role of West (Jackson), a brutal trainer. The story is told in flashbacks as the survivors are interrogated and while Hardy and Osborne (Connie Nielsen) try to reconstruct the events.

The conclusions twist and turn until the viewer no longer has any idea ‘who dunnit’ and then comes the knockout.

Not bad, but not much better than similar films from this period.

Wind River – Taylor Sheridan (2017)

“Fargo” without the humour makes a pretty heavy watch. Not that there is nothing to laugh in “Wind River”, but this film is mostly a gloomy thriller with quite some drama.

Both “Fargo” and “Wind River” are based on true events and play in the icy lands of North America.

A native American girl is found frozen on a hill. The local police calls in the FBI and a somewhat green FBI agent arrives unprepared for the harsh climate and for the local people.

The story unfolds slowly which is well done. The film also features some great music that goes well with the long shots of snowy mountains. The director manages to show the hard life in an extremely cold climate.

A good film indeed.

Sleuth – Kenneth Branagh (2007)

An elderly man living in an extremely modern house has his wife’s lover as a guest. He decides to play a game with him.

What unfolds is a minimalistic film that plays mostly in one house and has only two actors: Michael Caine and Jude Law, whose characters try to outwit the other. This makes an alright film.

What makes the film somewhat better is that it is a remake of a film from 1972 in which Michael Caine played the wife’s lover. Caine certainly has a sense of humor.

Antitrust – Peter Howitt (2001)

An older film with a still contemporary story. In the early scenes we follow a group of computer geeks programming open source. There is one big software company buying all good ideas thus trying to create a monopoly while their ambitions for integration of software and devices become bigger and bigger. The privacy issue is not really addressed yet, but for the rest the film shows much of the dangers of integrated software that we know today.

One of the nerds goes to work for the big company and a nice discussion about open source versus big money unfolds. Along the line the young many of course starts to get an idea of what the big company is up to and creates a plan to unmask them.

“Antitrust” is a not too great thriller with a descent story that still makes sense today. And of course it is funny to see what were the hippest devices back then.

Mother! – Darren Aronofsky (2017)

There was so much attention for this film, that I did not think it would be so strange.

Aronofsky made a couple of great films in a variety of genres. “Mother!” is hard to put a genre on though. It starts as a drama with slightly weird elements, but it slowly becomes a thriller or maybe even horror and the story gets stranger and stranger too. Where some other Aronofskys are very strong emotionally, “Mother!” did not work for my like that. It is entertaining though. The film gets so weird that I need to watch it again some time to figure out what the director actually wanted with it.

The story in short. A young woman lives together with a much older man in a gigantic and remote house that she is refurbishing while he is trying to revive his career as a writer. He is a very social person, continuously inviting people to the house, much to the demise of his wife. This inviting of people runs out of hand and then Aronofsky comes with a strange twist at the end.

Certainly not bad. Perhaps a bit too odd to already say if it is really good or not.

Il Cartaio – Dario Argento (2004)

Argento has been one of the big names in the Italian horror genre “giallo” for a couple of decades. I have seen a few of those. The films are mostly marked by beautiful women, over-acting and bright-red-blood-splattering. With “The Card Player” I saw a more recent film from the genre.

The acting is still awful. The Italian actors try to speak English and Argento still seems to try to shock with brutality and weeping women. I am afraid it all is unconvincing to me…

The police from Rome has to play online poker against a kidnapper who kills his victims when he wins the game. The story unfolds with no surprises and the film only gets interesting in a vague scene about halfway.

Not my type of film I fear.