THE KING’S MAN (2021)

Directed By: Matthew Vaughn 
Written By: Matthew Vaughn & Karl Gajdusek
Based on the Comic-Book “THE SECRET SERVICE” By: Mark Millar & Dave Gibbons
Cinematography: Ben Davis
Editor: Rob Hall & Jason Ballantine

Cast: Ralph Fiennes, Djimon Hounsou, Harris Dickinson, Gemma Arterton, Matthew Goode, Rhys Ifans, Charles Dance, Daniel Bruno, Alexandra Maria Land, Valerie Pacher 

In the early years of the 20th century, the Kingsman agency is formed to stand against a cabal plotting a war to wipe out millions.


The third in what can be seen as a franchise or at least a trilogy. 

This one is a prequel that shows the origins of THE KING’S MEN before they became a bit corrupt and needed to be sorted out. 

I will be honest I wasn’t expecting much from this film. It looked like they were trying to beat a dead horse with this series and felt like they might have been going in the wrong direction to prolong it. I have to eat my words because the film ended up being exciting and surprising in how enjoyable it is.

Like the previous films. It is silly plot-wise and the dialogue has a lot of grandstanding. Though it comes across as more well-mannered and tight Than the other films which were more dark-humored and verbose. This one feels a little more grown-up, but not without its own sense of humor. 

Which is not only one of the film’s strengths but also the franchise. 

The film is a period piece that touches on many historical figures and actions. It also has a lot of fun with them. Using them to set the background up.

The action sequences are impressive. Some are quite admirable, especially the Rasputin battle. 

The film also manages to still offer up surprises in a franchise partly built on them. 

Nice to see dramatic actor Ralph Fiennes in a more action-oriented role, but lets him also act. Though he also has a role in the latest James Bond films also. Here he is center stage. 

Djimon Honsou glad to see him also even if given the usual thankless role as more a dangerous sidekick or mentor to characters. Not only in this film but he played a similar role in the last CHARLIE’S ANGELS reboot, but at least here he has more to do and is in mroe do the film.

This film feels more like a guilty pleasure, though an inventive way to keep the franchise going and offer up a new origin story of sorts. That opens up the history of the franchise 

Grade: C+

THE HITMAN’S WIFE’S BODYGUARD (2021)

 Directed By: Patrick Hughes 
Written By: Brandon Murphy & Phillip Murphy 
Based On Characters Created By & Story By: Tom O’Connor 
Cinematography: Terry Stacey 
Editor: Jack Hutchings & Michael J. Duthie

Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson, Salma Hayek, Frank Grillo, Antonio Banderas, Tom Hopper, Caroline Goodall, Richard E. Grant, Morgan Freeman, Alice McMillan 

The bodyguard, Michael Bryce, continues his friendship with assassin, Darius Kincaid, as they try to save Darius’ wife Sonia


This is a movie that seems rushed to make money off the surprise hit of the first film and this time offers more Salma Hayek that the first film. Where she was a memorable supporting character.

This film offers a lot more of her including in her low-cut outfits and even a sex scene that is more comedic than sexy. Though the film gives her a chance to shine. 

The film is more aimed at being a comedy with action in it rather than the other way around and as hilarious as the film is you never take it seriously and just try to have fun. As much as the cast seems to be having.

This film offers up recognizable cast members new to the franchise in surprising supporting roles. Though luckily it seems as soon as they wear out their welcome they either disappear or are dispatched. 

They try to sideline Ryan Reynolds a little. as once again his character is going through confidence problems and here he has decided to not be violent throughout. He is involved in the action sequences. As more the straight man who keeps getting punished violently while all around him kill and fight. Which might be to make room for Salma Hayek to have more to do and be part of the action. He for the most part is abused throughout 

What works for these films is that while they are silly and quite stupid. They stay entertaining and are never boring and come off as guilty pleasures more than anything else. Especially by the end which is just ridiculous.

These films feel like the CRANK movies only not as over the top, campy or low brow. They are dirty And they all feel like they have the energy of an energized bunny or play out like violent love action cartoons more than anything anyone can really identify with. 

Grade: C+

SNAKE EYES: G.I. JOE ORIGINS (2021)

Directed By: Robert Schwentke
Written By: Joe Shrapnel, Anna Waterhouse & Evan Spiliotopoulos
Story By: Evan Spiliotopoulos 
Cinematography: Bojan Bazelli
Editor: Stuart Levy

Cast: Henry Golding, Andrew Koji, Haruka Abe, Samara Weaving, Iko Uwais, Takehiro Hira, Peter Mensah, Eri Ishada, Ursula Corbero

A G.I. Joe spin-off centered around the character of Snake Eyes.

The other G.I. Joe films were over the top here this film goes more for espionage and action-adventure tone. then towards the the end it becomes a free for all of just action that becomes a little too cartoonish with real weapons. As It becomes a stunt show more than anything 

The film plays serious for the most part early on and then we get to scenes where there are tests to pass to become a member of the clan and one of them involves Other gigantic monster snakes. Those are the more ridiculous components of the previous films. Though here they only come once in a while. Instead of staying constant.

Truthfully this is a film that doesn’t need to be made. Though it Offers a new revision to the rivalry between Snake eyes and storm shadow with a whole new history. Even though it has played out or been hinted at in the previous films.

That you know is coming as soon as you see a heroic character in the all-white suit that is known to the true die-hards. 

Strangely In trying to give snake eyes a full origin story they still never address his vow of silence and not only doesn’t happen but is still never explained. I am guessing they were hoping for a hit and figured maybe a sequel could. Sort of like the studio’s own WOLVERINE franchise outside of the X-Men films of the time. Even setting up a possible love interest.

The film obviously keeps calling for a sequel. Even though most good action films usually have a memorable villain. Here half the time there is so much infighting you forget who the real villain is and when you do he is so unimpressive and more a means to an end. He is instantly forgettable. The only villain of interest here is the baroness played by Ursula Corbero and she is more of a right-hand woman. Left with little to do 

The only star in the film or of any recognizable star is Samara Weaving, Who plays Scarlett and comes in a supporting role, but more an extended cameo and comes off more like Black Widow from the Marvel movies. Here she appears and seems to know mroe than she is letting in and is the coolest in the room.

As before she is even introduced this film plays like a random Asian-themed action-adventure Tale. Once she appears it ties the film more to the franchise and then starts to get a little more ridiculous. As it goes from personal vendetta between clans an all-out global terrorism threat.

As Henry Golding here just seems to be building his stardom from previous films like CRAZY RICH ASIANS which made him a star. Here this is one of his first leading action hero roles.

The film is stylish and tries not to call Too much attention to itself though at times it does feel like overkill as it just comes across as too smooth and ends up feeling dull. 

Understandable why This film was made like Wolverine one of the mroe recognizable characters and popular but also trying to jump-start the franchise which other characters should you choose to have an origins tale that the audience would want to see. This shows mroe of a last grasp for the franchise rather than a reboot.

As it gives the audience somewhat, what they want, but never seems to realize part of the fun of the character was like The Joker never truly knowing their past and making up their back to the story in their head and any clue felt like a new revelation. It is what was both it seemed revolutionary when it came to the FRIDAY THE 13TH reboot and what ruined it for audiences. We like the magic and the tricks and think we want to know how they were done, but once it Is, it is now spoiled and can’t look at it as magical and worse now feels more basic. 

The truly only badass character was the older female head of the family seen as she was the only one who barely needed a weapon to take our horses if enemies only using her fan where everyone else is using blades or guns 

Action movies often have more victims than horror but we believe the horror of being worse for society. Why because in horror the killing seems more personal and we see them in great detail and watch as the film seems to delight in these aspects whereas in action It’s brief but then again in action, it shows more nonchalance towards not only life but individual ones  making them seem more EXPENDABLE 

Both people are more expendable in a war between two characters that is personal. So everybody pays the price for two egos. 

Grade: C-

THE MANY SAINTS OF NEWARK (2021)

Directed By: Alan Taylor 
Written by: David Chase & Lawrence Konner
Cinematography: Kramer Morgenthau
Editor: Christopher Tellefsen

Cast: Alessandro Nivola, Ray Liotta, Leslie Odom Jr, Vera Farmiga, Jon Bernthal, Corey Stoll, Michael Gandolfini, Michaela De Rossi, Billy Magnussen, John Magaro, Joey Diaz, Talia Balsam, Ed Marinaro

Before becoming the notorious crime legend, young and inexperienced Anthony Soprano was under the wing of his father figure and mentor, Dickie Moltisanti. Against the backdrop of racial injustice during the violent 1967 Newark riots in the streets of Newark, New Jersey, and a destructive, all-out gang war with ambitious, mighty challengers, Uncle Dickie shows Tony the ropes, paving the way for a new era in crime.


Not really a continuation, but a prequel to see those who came before Tony Soprano and his crew and a glimpse into the environment she not only grew up in but the character who would surround him And guide him.

The film also offers insight into these characters and the ones we already know from the series. This is fun, As here we see them when they are younger and struggling for power. As some of the actions and treachery will have us looking at certain characters differently.

The film offers mroe of a psychological character glimpse and more examines Christopher’s father and Tony’s uncle Dickie we see how he goes about his business and affairs, especially after his father passed away and he is thrust into more of a leadership position. Who influenced Tony soprano and offers eventually a glimpse of what could have been.

As with the series, the film feels dense and has depth. Some of which are told and have some deeper meanings left unsaid but reflected in reactions and situations. 

There is a femme fatale of sorts who is innocent in her aspirations and character but who up the stakes for dickie constantly and seem to be the cause of bad decisions and downfalls.

As the film does concern itself with race. Especially African Americans. The second half of the film concentrates on a mob war between the Italians and the African American crew run by Leslie Odom Jr’s character who used to work for him.

The film takes full advantage of the uncomfortable race relations of the original show. There I was always on the edges where it is flat out in your face and a plot point

It feels like a natural progression for the film to concern race. As African Americans were largely absent from the series and the few times they were seemed disparaging also the casual racism of the main characters of the show shines through. Here it seems to try and make up for a lack of them on the show by offering a few more characters Of color here. 

Still with racist and insulting language and attitudes. Though with less mention of the N-Word. Though the film offers even if at times feels needlessly done in a classic but new time period.

The film showcases the domino effect of how one act eventually destroys and influences so many. In what could have been positive. Which ends up setting the stage for the show. Even if out of pettiness. 

The film doesn’t feel like a one-off it feels like the beginning of more stories or prequels to tell us the story of Tony’s eventual rise to power. 

Even if beautifully shot, it still feels like two flashback episodes that could have easily been part of the show. Plenty of nuances, Unfortunately for some that include taking It’s time abs not necessarily being that action-oriented or anything too monumental happening. As that was never what the show was truly about but people looked at it for. As anything action-oriented usually came out of nowhere not when you were expecting it in the first place.

The film doesn’t really change or offer too much insight or anything to shock the audience. Especially for those familiar with the show. Who will end up being the most entertained by this film. 

Grade: C

JOE BELL (2021)

Directed By: Reinaldo Marcus Green
Written By: Larry McMurtry & Diana Ossana
Cinematography: Jacques Jouffret 
Editor: Mark Sanger 

Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Reid Miller, Connie Britton, Gary Sinise, Charles Halford, Maxwell Jenkins, Morgan Lily 

The true story of a small town, a working-class father who embarks on a walk across the U.S. to crusade against bullying after his son is tormented in high school for being gay. Meanwhile, he realizes he is instead missing out on his son’s life back at home.


Though based on a true story it’s a movie that feels more ideal in its instincts to produce a message. Even as the exact message isn’t quite so clear and makes the film feel awkward about its own subjects.

As it is definitely a message movie that ends up being about the main character rather than its message. As we follow an all-American mid-west manly man the films seems to take aim at trying to court for the film. As he deals not only with his son’s sexuality but the lack of acceptance he offered which leads to tragedy and guilt that threatens to Tear him And his family apart.

So the film seems aimed at the character trying to Make amends for his past. What the film is trying to do, Spread the message of his cause and humanize it into acceptance. 

Especially with a tough guy action star Mark Wahlberg is sensitive and open emotionally. Learning the lessons of his wrongs while also learning to be accepting. Even learning to fight for it. Hoping to open more audience members eyes and hearts to teach them about being open to others who are not like them, but help and protect them against prejudice. 

Though for as honorable as the character might be. It shows how hypocritical the character can be and how damaged he is by guilt. Allowing for a complex character, but makes the film More about him Then the message.

Luckily all the performances are believable and strong. Which is a particular strength of director Reinaldo Marcus Green in his previous films KING RICHARD and MONSTERS AND MEN he usually Gets grounded performances out of the stars more than expected by burying them so deep that it never feels Like showboating or a stunt. 

The film manages to stay on message by trying to be poignant. It feels heavy-handed but that might be what is needed in trying to send this film’s message. As not to be some kind of saintly or martyred movie or make one of the wrong characters. Instead of trying to make it a character study.

The film is admirable, we see the main character break down and cry. We watch him as he goes downtrodden and even beat up.  

Connie Britton’s character is the strongest throughout. As she is no-nonsense and always feels truthful. She quickly becomes the film’s heart. As she always seems in the right place with most scenes built to get an emotional reaction.

The film shows the horror of bullying and the prejudices you face when being LGBTQ+ in a small and small-minded community and what is going Against them. 

The film also manages to show some good people in the world and that through it all. We are all Messed up and have our own personal problems, but we should try to help and support one another. That maybe you dislike or choose to hate, has nothing to do with them and says something more about you.

The film spells it all out in the third act. If you think it might be too subtle. Those you love let them know you love and support them. Accept them for who they ate or it might forever haunt you literally.

This is a good-hearted film that feels like it is pandering to a degree. As the story is more told in the aftermath. While literally showing is to don’t judge another until you have walked a mile in their shoes.

The film didn’t seem to ah e much attention upon release. It was on my radar to watch especially with mark Wahlberg trying a more dramatic socially conscious role. Which is a kind of relief from his other usual roles where there is always a certain comfort that can feel Smug or overbearing. 

Even if it feels hypocritical and heavy-handed at times. Especially the Ending. Where it really hits home. As a tragedy with flashbacks. Though have to go with the true story and try to inform. What might have happened on the road. As the film ends up being episodic more about dealing with guilt. That strays from

The message. Especially with speeches that seem not that special and just more short homespun wisdom That could be said at group therapy or an AA meeting. As they Don’t Come off enlightening just basic 

Grade: C+

GOOD ON PAPER (2021)

Directed By: Kimmy Gatewood
Written By: Iliza Shlesinger
Cinematography: Giles Dunning 
Editor: Kyla Plewes 

Cast: Iliza Shlesinger, Ryan Hansen, Margaret Cho, Rebecca Rittenhouse, Beth Dover, Kimia Behpoornia, Matt McGorry, Alison Becker 

After years of putting her career first, a stand-up comic meets a guy who seems perfect: smart, nice, successful and possibly too good to be true.


this film has the right premise which is based on a true experience of the star of the film Ilza Schlesinger 

So that the high concept premise works but the scenes feel somewhat flat or trying too hard to be madcap but keep an emotional heft and explore the main character’s mentality that it is trying too hard and too much. 

Which then makes the film also play kind of more like a stupid comedy aimed at a female audience.

The film is obviously a star vehicle for stand-up comedian iliza who plays a version of herself and it explores her issues romantically and professionally. As she seems to always End up with good-looking jerks and this guy charms her more by seemingly being himself but then she discovers he seems To be a pathological liar.

The film then busies itself with her and her friend played by Margaret Cho trying to catch and expose him. Luckily Cho steals all of her scenes and you wish there were more of her in the film.

By the time we get to the third act, the film takes a turn of standing up against toxic masculinity. As the boyfriend character ends up being a fake nice guy and less of a misguided romantic and it has a message of wine supporting one another instead of being in competition in general and worse for the pleasure of men. 

All good messages. One just wishes it was told In a better project. As this one comes off as indulgent and has sparks of humor. That never quite catches fire. So that it feels monotonous and almost like a sitcom. Where you are left wondering. How much evidence do you need to be convinced and why are you still bothering? 

The Jokes and situations fall flat constantly and even the jokes seem more than a little grating and awkward. At least the film seems to know it’s low aiming and not that serious.

Ilza is an appealing actress and a humorous stand-up with a unique point of view but here it feels like the middle of the road, not enough bite or point of view to give it the stakes it seeks, and also the humor is too lightweight to make any kind of impression. It’s like having a Twinkie instead of the big cookie 

As this is a movie where mostly the secondary characters and bit role players are more interesting in their little amount of screen time over the leads who are in most of the movie. 

Grade: D+

THIS IS THE NIGHT (2021)

Written & Directed By: James DeMonaco
Cinematography: Anastas N. Michos
Editor: Keith Fraase 

Cast: Naomi Watts, Frank Grillo, Lucius Hoyos, Madelyn Cline, Chase Vacnin, Bobby Cannavale, River Alexander, Max Casella, Steve Lipman, Method Man, Lenny Venito, Jonah Hauer-King

A teenager living in Staten Island during the summer of 1982 embarks on a quest that draws in his family members.


This is a sweet coming-of-age film. It is earnest and tries to give you an overview of the neighborhood, families, times, and atmosphere. So that it feels more natural. Which in a way only exposes how false it is at times. The problem is that it feels way too familiar for the audience.

It tells the tale of a family throughout two days that will come to define them. Each member of the family has to deal with a challenge and we see how they deal with it and overcome it.

Even if most of the film is the adventure of the youngest son and his mission to tell the girl of his dreams happy birthday and that he loves her. With plenty of traps and roadblocks along the way.

The film works as far as nostalgia taking us to STATEN island during the 1980s and while that is fun. Even putting at the heart of the film is the debut of ROCKY III. Which inspired and ties the films and its character together.

The film still feels way too familiar. It’snWorth watching if not necessarily a film fan or for a younger audience, but it offers no surprises nor any reason to really stay invested.

As even when young ladies are willing to sneak them into a bar and give them plenty of drinks out of nowhere. You can tell something is not right and it feels too much of a scene from the warriors.

So that by the end this feels more like an Italian American inspired television movie and while it might be more autobiographical for the writer-director James DeMonaco

It also feels more like a movie that has a checklist and makes sure it goes through the list one by one and on schedule. As the teen adventures Seem a bit like an homage to THE WARRIORS.

Even when it comes to the bully getting their comeuppance you can’t wait. Even if the film makes you wait a bit too long and his girlfriend gives him up a little too easily. It just makes her seem that much more innocent despite her father being the local heavy 

Even in the part that involves a character coming out of the closet while it’s Appreciated that the character is confused and not sure about who they are exactly. Was it necessary for them to do it in drag? Maybe that was the truth for the character and how they choose to express themselves, but it offers up a bonding Experience. It also feels a bit stereotypical.  Especially when it comes to acceptance from others who are just a little too quick. So the true film feels cookie-cutter. As everything is resolved in the end a little too neatly and finally.

The cast is impressive and the bigger names get a chance to show off in certain roles we might not expect. Especially Method man who seems like he is playing a minor role but is one of importance later on and as a known resident of STATEN island it is nice to see him represent. 

It could easily be seen as ironic that the film in question At the center of this film is ROCKY III, but it shows no matter what might be universally thought of Something. If you can identify with characters that bring you peace, pride, or inspiration that is all that matters, and how some characters are icons to communities and bring them together on the same wavelength. 

Though Bobby Cannavale is left with a more stereotypical role. That can be said of half the cast. Though Frank Grillo gets to play a more dramatic role it still has him involved in a fight scene. 

In the end, the film can be entertaining. It just feels like you have seen it before and has been built off of other films you have seen and never quite feels itself or fresh. Even if it has its heart in the right place.

GRADE: C

BENEDETTA (2021)

Directed by: Paul Verhoeven
Written By: Paul Verhoeven & David Birke
Based on the book: “IMMODEST ACTS: THE LIFE OF A LESBIAN NUN IN RENASSINCE ITALY” By: Judith C. Brown

Cinematography: Jeanne LaPoirie
Editor: Job Terburg

Cast: Virginie Efira, Charlotte Rampling, Daphne Patakia, Lambert Wilson, Olivier Rabourdin, Louise Chevillotte, Herve Pierre, Clotilde Courau 

A 17th-century nun in Italy suffers from disturbing religious and erotic visions. She is assisted by a companion, and the relationship between the two women develops into a romantic love affair.


I used to hate period piece films for the most part.  Now I appreciate them for their artistry and attention to detail of the time.

That makes watching them feel so enriching if done well. 

The film does have an overreaching achievement of being and feeling like an epic even though the film takes place in a few locations and in small, close quarters. That no matter the subject matter manages to keep the audience enriched and paying attention. As this is definitely not your typical religious picture. 

This film reminds me of the films as a teenager you stayed up to watch late at night for the promise of sex and nudity, but you might get bored watching at first as you keep waiting for that to be shown and as soon as you are ready to quit you start to get glimpses. That’s films were usually foreign and some were bad. Though some you actually got into while waiting for what you came for. Especially as the characters involved in this relationship are very attractive. Where we see them without clothes often enough.

This is based on a true story and while there is plenty of religion throughout. There is also plenty of violence and while there is certainly exploitation in view. The film never quite feels as dirty or exploitative as director Verhoeven has done in the past. The violence he does show is graphic and suggested at times. 

Here while it is obvious it seems more refined. Even when it gets into the ridiculous it still feels like it is trying to stick to the story above all else. 

The film almost works in two halves as the first part seems to be more about watching the main character serve in servitude in the convent. While slowly being seduced by the wild young woman she convinces herself to be saved from her abusive father. 

The second half involves the main character supposedly having religious visions and Jesus speaking through her. As she starts to have stigmata scars. As she rises through the ranks to be thought of as a saint and believed to be one, the tragedy that befalls those who don’t believe. While also falls into supposed sin with her sexual relationship with the nun she saved.

Though both leads are eye-catching they also offer strong performances throughout 

Throughout the film it shows how power corrupts and leads us to believe that maybe Benedetta is telling the truth while offering evidence that she’s not also. 

The film at times does seem to want to be somewhat of a satire or have a sense of humor, not a strong one, but let’s see some of the far-fetched aspects throughout. 

Watching this nunsploitation epic, there is no doubt if director Paul Verhoeven had made his CRUSADE movie. It would have been a Classic and made Arnold Schwarzenegger a bigger icon.

As it is nice to see directors like Verhoeven do smaller-scale films. Where he is more impressive. As we know he can handle bigger budget movies with panache, but it feels like his smaller films are a lot more memorable and stronger.

Grade: B+

RED ROCKET (2021)

Directed & Edited By: Sean Baker
Written By: Sean Baker & Chris Bergoch 
Cinematography: Drew Daniels 

Cast: Simon Rex, Suzanna Son, Bree Elrod, Brenda Deiss, Ethan Darbone, Brittany Rodriguez, Judy Hill, Shih-Ching Tsou 

Finding himself down and out in Los Angeles, ex-porn star Mikey Saber decides to crawl back to his hometown of Texas City, Texas, where his estranged wife and mother-in-law are living. Just as this dysfunctional family seems to be making things work, Mikey meets a young woman named Strawberry working the cash register at a local doughnut shop. He falls right back into his old habits.


While this is a good film, it is also disturbing and unsettling at times. While offering some humor as it goes along. As it shows no one is not any situation just one thing at one time. It is never quite that simple.

The film offers Simon Rex, in a comeback of a performance. Probably the most dramatic role he has ever had a chance to play. His character is totally unlikeable, a natural-born hustler. He is a smooth talker even though most of the time he is obvious. Though his performance is captivating. As the film more revolves around his character you wish the film was just as lively and unpredictable as his performance and character but needs a kind of normalcy to bounce him off of and compare him to.

He is good at what he does because as soon as you like him or fall for him or even feel sorry for him for whatever reason. He does something that reminds you of how deceptive and selfish he is. As even in the. For comedic scenes of comeuppance, you laugh but then ate reminded how unlikeable he can be. As this is not a film about redemption. Just that most people Don’t change. 

This film is more of a character study than necessarily plot-oriented. As usual with writer-director Sean baker’s films, this is more of a humanistic film to show this man’s life and the people around him from his past.

The film uses non-actors making it feel more lived in and believable. Even as most of the characters are fascinating themselves we get snippets of them. More or less as they move in and out of the main characters’ plans and life. 

At heart, the film offers a twisted love story that is at least one side in a seduction meant for one to prosper through the subjugation of the other. Here in the form of an 18-year-old female high school senior who he romances. It makes the film even more uncomfortable as even though the actress is older she still looks young. So the sex scenes feel uncomfortable. Even if her character isn’t as innocent as she seems. You can still tell she is in over her head. 

The movie doesn’t judge any of the characters or situations. It remains neutral, leaving it up to the audience to decide how they feel.

What works for the film is that by the end you will feel some kind of reaction. Good or bad it definitely will make you feel something and I am betting not happy. 

Grade: B

CHERRY (2021)

Directed by: Joe Russo & Anthony Russo 
Written By: Jessica Goldenberg & Angela Russo-Otstot 
Based On The Novel By: Nico Walker 
Cinematography: Newton Thomas Sigel
Editor: Jeff Groth

Cast: Tom Holland, Ciara Bravo, Jack Reynor, Forrest Goodluck, Jeff Wahlberg, Michael Rispoli, Michael Gandolfini, Damon Wayans Jr. Kelli Burland, Daniel R. Hill, Pooch Hall, Thomas Lennon

Cherry drifts from college dropout to army medic in Iraq – anchored only by his true love, Emily. But after returning from the war with PTSD, his life spirals into drugs and crime as he struggles to find his place in the world.


It might be that one really wanted this film to succeed. As it is the first film for the Russo brothers directing after THE AVENGERS  movies and a starring role for Tom Holland in a more dramatic role. Not to mention actress Ciara Bravo in a leading female role after the streaming Series WAYNE was unfortunately canceled before it’s time and she was so good on it. That the film’s problems might’ve taken a little more personal. 

While I never read the book. I know it was critically acclaimed and had its fair share of fans. 

This is a clear case of style over substance. As the film gives us a story adapted from the book of the same name.

Though throughout the film flirts with so many different genres a mind types that it never has time to settle into any of them flirting but never quite sealing the deal. As they are just escapades that help us get to the next part of the story.

The film mainly revolves around two characters and at heart is a love story of two people trying to find themselves in one another. While dealing with constant mistakes that seem to get bigger whenever trying to solve the last problem.

It is also a drug addiction story. While the two leads are capable Tom Holland and Ciara bravo they look so young which might be the age of the characters, but they look Ike they are playing dress-up half the time. Especially as their characters get older and for Tom Holland especially the later scenes where he grows a mustache Looks more like make-up than a naturally grown character. Though Ciara bravo tries very hard with her character. Her more adult scenes just never hit home. As she is a good actress.

When it comes to the direction of the film. It is overly stylized which can be appreciated when done with just enough panache. The problem here though is that the story never quite earns it so it usually feels over the top. Though it does give the film an operatic presentation. It feels overdone and at times like it is taking suggestions from other films but is never quite as sharp as those other films. So that even in some scripted scenes that are more comedic it still falls flat.

Even as it tries to base itself on the book and present each new time period in their lives as a new or different chapter. Trying to elevate the material higher.

Even the bank robbery scene has no flair. We get that they are trying to show it’s not like the movies are glamorous or necessarily well thought out, but they just feel lifeless. As the film goes on everything feels familiar but the film keeps trying to present it in a different way that ends up going overboard and not actually adding anything to the overall experience or film. Be

The film seems to go out of its way to show that life isn’t fair as the good moral characters have a way of always having hardships or dying. While the characters who showcase bad moral behavior sometimes are punished but at other times seem to succeed or at least survive. At least In our time with them.

One of the problems is that throughout the movie the scenes feel melodramatic and examples of emotional beats you have seen done bigger and better and more deserved in Other films. Making the film again feel like it is more trying to be like films of this type instead of just being itself. It’s let’s put on a show rather than let’s stay true and tell a story.

It’s not a bad film but like the main character, it feels full of ambition but never quite makes it to where it wants to go or wants to be. Though it is a nice try. It ends up feeling like it is trying to show off to prove it belongs and in doing so showcases why it doesn’t.

It might be that the film feels more like a dramatic graphic novel with its style and with the filmmakers behind it. It just feels like a movie of moments that might have been handled better emotionally,  gritty and dramatic rather than grand and so visual and surreal. 

There is a plan here it just doesn’t match the story or material 

It’s an interesting try that in the end doesn’t quite stick to the landing. By the end, you have a film that will keep your interest but you might not have anything to really grab onto to remember or even truly feel.

Grade: C