What makes an Action Movie Bad?
A Good Day to DIE HARD
It was partly the pairing of Bruce Willis with Justin Long that brought to mind who John McClane could pass the torch to. The idea of him having a son to continue kicking ass was really appealing, so this father-son movie was probably inevitable.
It rang SO completely false that he and Holly would break up after all they had been through and the love shown at the end of the 2nd movie, but, it's Hollywood. They probably thought we could relate more to disfunction. It was just something to have banter about with Samuel Jackson in the 3rd movie. The fact that his daughter was a disrespectful handful in the 4th movie could have been dismissed since she's female—we don't expect a father to discipline his daughter the way he would his son— but when A Good Day to Die Hard started out, the goodbye scene with the daughter at the airport set the tone, and it was just plain stupid. His daughter is alternately nice and insulting. Make up your mind. John McClane's no idiot. What was with the Idiot book joke? I felt sorry for Bruce Willis who seemed a million miles away. You could almost see the thought bubble over his head (When will this be over?) So much for the idea that both McClane's kids should be kick-ass awesome.
When the storyline moved to him calling his son's name repeatedly and being ignored, it was just too ridiculous for me. Somebody with McClane's abilities, career, and all-around Hero-ness would never be the type to tolerate disrespect from his kids. His son would never end up in jail. (I know, I know, the son's really a spy. Whatever.) It was just so pathetic to see McClane standing there, completely ineffective. What the hell was that?! And then, he just jumps into the meaningless chase like that's all we came for. Never has so much done so little for so many. All that smash-em-up and I could have nodded off. SO MUCH ACTION, so little movie.
The minimal chase plot was just SO DUMB! There was no skeleton to hang all that Action on . . . What the hell were we watching?! The file. Oooh the file. Turns out to be weapons-grade Uranium (Russia + nuclear = Chernobyl Zzzz). Someone should answer for green-lighting such a crappy script for an Action Movie blockbuster franchise/beloved classic like that. I now think John McClane's son is a dick, so why would I want to go see him in a movie.
All I could think was: Did a Millenial write this script that nobody wanted to tell them it sucked? But Skip Woods is 43. If he were here I would throw something at him. "Swordfish sucked!" (Yeah, I feel better.) I really loved The A-Team though, and X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which he wrote, so what happened?! Mr. Woods, if you get another opportunity to write for something so classic, think about who you're writing about and make it something people WANT to see. We don't want our Action Movie Heroes to be bad Dads or have ungrateful kids that suck. Duh!
I thought his son was going to be a cop on some secret case in Russia, and have it turn out he was just WAY more important than his father even dreamed (not a burnable asset). That somehow, this time, John would be in the right place at the right time to help him out, and that the help would be welcome! If John McClane was your Dad and you were in ANY kind of situation, you would be SO FUCKING HAPPY to see him show up! Where was that ultimate big-dog entrance/McClane-to-the-rescue moment? It was supposed to be the ultimate pairing. Oh yeah? My Dad is going to KICK YOUR ASS! All that bickering crap canceled the good stuff out. They made one of the greatest Action Movie Heroes ever look pathetic and stupid. Like an old man who's just in the way. "Just a fly in the ointment, Hans, the monkey and the wrench, a pain in the ass" and this time around, that's not a good thing?! McClane does what McClane does, there's even some of his trademark improvising, but there's no JOY to it here.
I watched this movie after watching all the others in a row at the Die Hard Movie Marathon, and the first 4 were just SO MUCH better! They had great Action Movie banter and bravado. This movie had none of that charm. It was a MAJOR DISAPPOINTMENT and all that Action was completely wasted. They just didn't get what made the other movies, the character, great.
A Walk Among the Tombstones
I have to say I am VERY TIRED of watching the victimization of women. I don't care if it's 'necessary' to make us hate the villains. It is not okay to depict women in this way, and I don't want to see it. There is a difference between degrading the victims in a movie for the sake of the dramatics, and debasing them (no reason for that, ever). The rape scene of the blonde woman was so awful, it might as well have been real. All I kept thinking was "What is wrong with the people who made this movie?!" WTF?! We are REALLY NOT that casual now about the portrayal of rape. Are we?! Of the villains, they said "They're not human." Well, where do they draw the line? It's WRONG to show them debasing and torturing someone (real or not). I kept thinking "WRONG! WRONG! WRONG!" The villains were really fucking sick-os. I wanted my money back. Anyone who enjoys all this stupid shit is sick. Are we supposed to watch this shit with no feelings? It seems to have gotten popular (ridiculous "Monster" video) to even glamorize necrophilia. What's a moral person to do with this crap? Rail against it.
As movies go, there's plenty here to talk about. Is that a good thing? No. I still feel slimed. Yes, some of the lines were funny "Corruption get to you, huh?" "I couldn't have supported my family without it." Also: "While you work some get-well job making donuts." But I found most of it strange. Unless, thanks to Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian it's now normal to have a half naked portrait of your wife in the living room (sarcasm) (let's kick it up a notch:) painted by your brother. Why not just have a sex tape of you two playing while you have some folks over for dinner? We see no nipples (like that makes it okay or 'tasteful'), but they come later anyway when we see the brother is obsessed and has painted her many times. So now, we've seen the victim naked. Distasteful. So distasteful! So unsettling. So wrong! The wrong depiction of female victims undoes the redeeming factor of Liam Neeson's character (who we assume) adopts a homeless boy in the end.
The direction was weird. The camera in odd places. The effect was unsettling. If that was intentional—great, annoy your audience. I suspect it was not. Also, they should not have had 3 villains. This is the kind of movie like The Silence of the Lambs, or Manhunter, or Dirty Harry, where there's one really creepy villain role that can be interesting to watch. Here, it was diluted by there being three, killed in different ways at different times, which made it much less satisfying.
All I really got from the movie was that the world is a truly dangerous place for women, and you should have a Plan B/escape route everywhere you go. There's also the idea that if you have something or someone you love, someone's working to take it. And beware of vans. Here's a great line: "Once they're in the van, they're just body parts." They NEVER do this crap to male victims. They try to work in all this redemption stuff based on Alcoholics Anonymous' Twelve Steps, but I didn't get any direct correlation between the specific steps (voiceover) and the action on screen. If we were meant to make a connection, it failed (and I'm really big on that kind of thing). What Liam Neeson's character "Matt Scudder" was doing didn't match the steps.
In the end <<SPOILER>> Neeson shoots the last villain before he can finish his sentence. Really, because no one gives a damn what he was about to say. At least that was satisfying.
Kudos to Betsy Heimann for making Liam Neeson look so bad ass. In the beginning he wears an outfit that makes him look like a cowboy. I guess she's got her cool badge (she worked on Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs, and Almost Famous) and many more!
CRANK: High Voltage
Honestly, if you ever wondered . . . What goes on inside a guy's head, their answer was a look inside his pants! It was a live version of a bad video game. That's probably what they intended. Like Tarantino's Pulp Fiction, how can you fault it when they're aiming low and hitting the mark? If there was any actress who could play a sleazy stripper missing from this one, it was probably because she ended up on the cutting room floor (overkill).
The beginning was cool in a video-game way. Gory death around each corner for whoever came up against Chev Chelios, and then it went south, literally, when he sticks a shotgun up a guy's butt. Need I say more about the film's maturity level or content? Yeah, I do. I paid to see it, so I get to . . .
I really like Jason Statham and the fact that he did all his own stunts in the first movie. If he's having fun and getting paid, can it be all bad? Yeah, it can. I didn't ask for my money back and I stayed right through the end of the credits to see the outtakes, etc., but it's just kinda sad that this is what grown men think is entertainment: violence combined with ugly naked skanks, porn, and sex in public. (Must have been their list of "What gives me a boner?") The one really out of place scene was when Chev and Eve, clothed (!), kiss with a rainbow starburst behind them. Imagine that! Grown men with a 7th-grade-level sexual immaturity have a 5th grade idea of love. Sweet. Sad. Scary.
Their idea of being clever included: a nod to Japanese culture with a Godzilla homage where a giant Chev fights it out with the bad guy knocking over electrical towers, a nod to their (all guys) obvious love of Full Metal Jacket's "Me so horny" girls, giving Corey Haim and Geri Halliwell a job, and the use of a Billy Squier song. All of those weren't enough to redeem this movie for me. Not even an appearance by David Carradine helped—it was just sad to see him sink to the level of playing Poon Dong. Yeah, that's the character's name. Even sadder that it was his last role. And I guess it was just easy money for singer Dwight Yoakam—who was actually good in Hollywood Homicide—to just do the same role again as he did in Crank, just sloppier and stupider. Why Dwight? Get over being bald and short. You're an awesome singer! (By the way, this photo on the left, a man who gets to this stage in how he treats women is probably just a step away from killing them.) The only thing gross thing missing was for a lump of shit to be stuck in the hairs on Jason Statham's ass in the butt shot. How did they miss that opportunity? Was there something Jason actually said "No" to? Afraid to say it but, I think so, and I don't want to know what it was. Even the 8-10 year olds in the audience— yeah, that's right, kids brought in by their fathers, no doubt without their ex-wives' permission or knowledge—commented at the end that the movie was bad.
I saw it because despite the totally gratuitous and tacky sex in the first one,
and the expectation that the second one would only be worse, I
thought the direction in the first one had a really cool look.
The choppy sequences, the odd camera angles, the frenzied
editing, it all worked and added to the 'cranked-up' feeling.
I wish I could say the same for this sequel. They tried too
hard; too many shots together, not delivering the intended
impact. Like a pretty piece of colorful something that
catches your eye as you pass a garbage can, you pick it up with
great expectation, but, on close examination, yeah, it's just
wrecked the two enormous plows but never got to drive one! The
only salvation was that the combat scenes looked gritty/cool, and the
final fight scene (which was a strange West Side Story homage musical number) where
Kable was outnumbered but managed to defeat everyone was bone-crackingly
good, Steven Seagal style. The rest sucked.
• MACHETE MAIDENS UNLEASHED
• RED HEAT
• ROBOCOP (2014)
• The MARINE
More to come: Event Horizon
(not "Action"), Predator
2, DOOM . . .
More to come: Event Horizon
(not "Action"), Predator
2, DOOM . . .
87Eleven Action Design
| Chad Stahelski + David Leitch