Category Archives: Thriller

Gravity

Bill C’s Review – 4 out of 5

Gravity is a visually stunning movie with great special effects.  The movie very effectively used 3D and I’d definitely recommend to see it this way.

Anyone who has seen the trailer knows the basic plot: George Clooney and Sandra Bullock are involved in an accident during a space walk and are struggling to survive.  The director effectively switches the viewpoint of the action – sometimes being third person and sometimes being Clooney or Bullock including the view from inside their masks.  Bullock has the bigger role and gives a very effective performance.

I won’t give away what happens.  The plot isn’t as strong (or complicated) as the special effects  but the tension is strong throughout and this is definitely worth seeing.

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Graceland

Bill C’s Review – 3.5 out of 5

Graceland is a very good thriller set in the Phillipines.  When the daughter of the chauffeur of a politician mistakenly gets kidnapped the chauffeur will do whatever it takes to get his daughter returned safely.  He needs to deal with the kidnappers, police (who suspect him of being involved) and his boss (to getthe ransom paid).

The movie deals with the seedy, corrupt side of Filipino society – child prostitution, corrupt politicians and police. The story is well written with good plot twists and things are not always as they seem.

This one might be tough to find in theaters (it’s no longer in Austin) but is worthwhile if you can find it.

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Side Effects

Bill C’s Review – 2.5 out of 5 

Side Effects is a crime thriller with a lot of plot twists, a good director, and a very good cast.  I  expected to like it a lot. Despite all of that, the plot just seemed unrealistic to me, and despite the fun of trying to follow the twists and turns, I was disappointed. If there’s a lawyer is reading this entry who saw this movie, I’d love your view on whether some of the plot is realistic or if there are legal checks and balances that make this unrealistic.

The cast included Rooney Mara (from the American version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo), Jude Law, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Channing Tatum. Tatum’s role is very small, so don’t go see this film just because you are a big fan. Rooney Mara was excellent. Most reviews seem to like Jude Law’s performance, but I thought he was a little over the top.

I seem to be in the minority on this review, so while I didn’t really like this movie, you shouldn’t let my cynicism about the plot stop you from seeing it.

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Looper

Bill C’s Review – 4 out of 5

Looper is a smart sci-fi thriller that starts with the interesting premise of future mobsters  sending their murder victims back in time to get hit and then be disposed of. Sometimes the loop is closed by sending an old hit man to be hit by his younger self. Parts of this film are reminiscent of the Terminator and one character’s mother, played by Bill and Bill movie favorite Emily Blunt, is even named Sara.

Looper has some good plot twists, is well-written and deals with themes of loss, love, regret and redemption. All the main performances were good including Joseph Gordon-Levitt (despite some prosthetic on his face to make him look like the younger version of himself as played by Bruce Willis), Blunt, Willis, Jeff Daniels (very entertaining as a mob boss), and Pierce Gagno as a freaky kid.

Definitely go see it.

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Killer Joe

Bill C’s Review 3.5 out of 5

Matthew McConaughey gives a very good performance as Killer Joe, a policeman by day and a hit man by night.  He is hired by a family that needs the insurance money from knocking off the mother/ex-wife.

Killer Joe is rated NC-17 due to violence and the rating is well earned.  This is a dark comedy with much of the comedy coming in the final third with McConaughey’s very polite but ruthless character. There are also good performances by Thomas Haden Church, Gina Gershon and Juno Temple.  The excellent  screenplay was written by Tracey Letts based on his play (he also wrote August Osage County) and is well directed by William Friedkin (The French Connection and The Exorcist)

It’s a good story with some good twists and surprises thrown in and if you don’t mind the violence you should check this out.

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Savages

Bill I’s Review – 3 out of 5

Reminiscent of the movie Traffic, this is a tale of surfer dude/drug kingpins having their Laguna paradise bubble burst by a dose of Mexico cartel reality. Shades of Tarantino when you see the great Travolta as a corrupt, scheming, sleazy DEA agent, and the wonderful Salma Hayek as the ruthless, but motherly, cartel leader. Blake Lively is excellent as the muse and key to the menage a trois with the surfer/dealers, who are  very believable and fun to watch. Benecio del Toro is Salma’s captain gone wild, and kills the role; he should get a best supporting actor nomination. Some brutal scenes of violence but it moves fast and holds your interest. Nothing groundbreaking here, but a good summer action movie.

Bill C’s Review – 3 out of 5

Overall I agree with  Bill’s review and assessment of the performances.  In addition to the good performances there were some good plot twists and it kept you guessing to the very end.  I was disappointed with the ending as Oliver Stone manipulated the audience down the stretch and the final ending seemed to be a bit of a cop out.

For those looking for additional drug related movies in addition to Traffic (Benicio Del Toro was in that one too!) and Breaking Bad (TV) here’s a list of some guys top 10 drug related movies.

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Prometheus

Bill C’s Review – 3 out of 5

Prometheus is Ridley Scott’s long-awaited return to science fiction. His previous iconic sci fi movies were Aliens and Blade Runner. This film is an indirect prequel to Aliens and focuses on a space mission to find the civilization that planted life on earth and the ensuing struggles to survive.

This is a gorgeous movie to watch. The special effects are excellent and I thought the 3D was extremely effective. While most movies hit you over the head with things coming at you unexpectedly, this 3D usage was much more subtle, especially the great planetary 3D landscape.

I thought the second half of the movie, when the action picked up, became somewhat muddled. The plot could have been simplified and the movie tackled too many themes, including the beginning of life on earth, faith, and eternal life.

Michael Fassbender as the robot David and Charlize Theron as the company representative that financed the expedition were both excellent. Interestingly this was her second evil role in a row (see Bill I’s review of Snow White and the Huntsman). I also really liked Idris Elba as the ship’s captain.

Overall I’d say this was an ok sic-fi movie but it did not quite live up to my expectations.

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Snow White and the Huntsman

Bill I’s Review – 4 out of 5

I saw this as an allegory about how much our culture values youth and beauty, to the extent that people will do anything to stop time’s damages. For example, how does Jane Fonda look better now at age 74 than she did 25 years ago? Is she sucking the life force out of young girls like Ravenna the evil Queen does in this movie? Actually, this film is very well done, with excellent acting (Charlize Theron gets an Oscar nomination for sure), cool storyline and wonderful special effects. Check out Ravenna’s special finger-fitted fork.  For me, this beats all of the Lord of the Rings movies. This ain’t no Disney fairy tale, so don’t bring the little kids!

 

Headhunters

Bill C’s Review – 3.5 out of 5

I really enjoyed this Norewegian thriller.  Roger (Aksel Hennie) is one of the leading corporate headhunters.  Due to his exorbitant lifestyle he needs to moonlight as an art thief.  When he decides to rip off one of his clients after discovering he owns a major piece of art the real action begins. His client, Clas Greve is played by Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (who plays Jamie Lancaster in Game of Thrones).  Both give good performances, as does Synnøve Macody Lund  who plays Roger’s wife.

This is a taut thriller with a lot of plot twists that will keep you fully engaged right to the end. In retrospect a couple of the plot twists and action were a little bit questionable or over the top and make for a good post movie discussion.

The subtitles seemed pretty quick at the beginning and I was having trouble keeping up but either they slowed them down or I started reading more quickly!

It might be hard to find this film near you (I saw it at the Violet Crown in Austin).  Butt if you get a chance to see it it is worthwhile.

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