TURISTAS (2006)

Directed By: John Stockwell
Written By: Michael Arlen Ross
Cinematography: Enrique Chediak 
Editor: Jeff McEvoy

Cast: Josh Duhamel, Melissa George, Olivia Wilde, Desmond Askew, Beau Garrett, Max Brown, Lucy Ramos, Andrea Leal, Diego Santiago, Agles Steib 

A group of young backpackers’ vacation turns sour when a bus accident leaves them marooned in a remote Brazilian rural area that holds an ominous secret.


This film is basically HOSTEL in Brazil. Even though the violence is brutal here it still doesn’t feel as bad, dark, or disgusting as HOSTEL does if only because this feels more like a big studio copy of it. As it seems more aimed at a worst-case scenario film, where privileged white young Americans are the victims. 

As this film has bigger names or at least more recognizable names and faces. It offers up just as much nudity also. As the film has a libidinous sexual vibe that disappears as soon as the carnage starts. It still feels a bit explosive but from a big studio 

Whereas in HOSTEL, the company is more sophisticated, it seems day by night and messy. Essentially this film is a traveler’s worst nightmare come to life. One of those urban legends you always hear about. Being seduced and then waking up and your body parts missing. As it begins everything seems magical, beautiful, and fun, and then it’s Like the characters wake up to a bad hangover and it is all a nightmare. 

For all this paradise’s Natural wonders there is a price to be paid. Whereas most of the characters/victims are caucasian tourists. Who you do feel sorry for, but also come off as annoying ugly Americans and foreigners at times. So while they don’t deserve what they get you do feel they should have some comeuppance. At least they aren’t treated like saints even though the stars Josh Duhamel and Olivia Wilde come off as the nicest and most decent.

This was Duhmel’s first starring role based on his shoulders. Though in the advertising he is really downplayed. 

The villain being caucasian also helps show that he is racist and also that he treats all the dark-skinned people who work for him horribly and like slaves. Even as he tries to make them feel like they are in a partnership.

Even though generally as is life the islanders are being taken advantage of by the tourists and the evil surgeon. But that is their way of making a living also is to entertain them to a degree. Which is the true horror. 

The film is entertaining but instantly forgettable. The island paradise and cast are nice to look at but that is about it as the rest of the film is fairly predictable. 

The only general shock to be had is how violent it gets for a mass audience studio film. Though at least It’s not gratuitous though it does feel liek it is trying hard to have an edge 

Grade: C

AMERICAN ASSASSIN (2017)

Director: Michael Cuesta 
Written By: Stephen Schiff, Michael Finch, Edward Zwick & Marshall Herskovitz 
Based On The Novel By: Vince Flynn 
Cinematography: Enrique Chediak 
Editor: Conrad Buff IV 

Cast: Dylan O’Brien, Michael Keaton, Sanna Lathan, Taylor Kitsch, Scott Adkins, Charlotte Vega, David Suchet, Shiva Negar 

Twenty three-year-old Mitch lost his parents to a tragic car accident at the age of fourteen, and his girlfriend to a terrorist attack just as they were engaged. Seeking revenge, he is enlisted by CIA Deputy Director Irene Kennedy as a black ops recruit. Kennedy then assigns Cold War veteran Stan Hurley to train Mitch. Together they will later on investigate a wave of apparently random attacks on military and civilian targets. The discovery of a pattern in the violence leads them to a joint mission with a lethal Turkish agent to stop a mysterious operative intent on starting a world war in the Middle East.


Director Michael Cuesta has come along way since his debut films L.I.E. And 12 & HOLDING. He has proved himself to be a journeyman director. As he has come from coming of age independent films to studio dramas and nor a full fledged action film. His first which seems to try to become a franchise but works as a one off also.

The film was being planned for a while as quite a few directors were attached such as Ed Zwick, Antoine Fuqua and Jeffrey Nachmanoff. Just as many actors were either offered or considered for the leading role such as Chris Hemsworth, Colin Ferrell, Matthew Fox and Gerard Butler.

The films action sequences are serviceable. They just seem to be violent more in one on one encounters. As the scenes try to be more intimate in the violence but feel broad. As the film truly wants to show blood and guts. So that it plays more like an 1980’a type action film starring an actor you wouldn’t think of or consider for this type of film. Played by Dylan O’Brien Which is what might make his character easy to underestimate or even suspect.

Equally impressive is knowing what the star Dylan O’Brien went through in real life to make a come back the screen in an action film. With plenty of stunts. After suffering a war fatal accident on another movie that left him hospitalized for quite a while.

The film is a mix of espionage and revenge thriller. No one nor any of the story truly makes too much of an impact as the movie pretty much plays by the numbers.

The film has female characters who are all attractive but really have nothing to besides that. They give one character an action sequence where she loses the battle and Saana Lathan’s character while one of the authority figures is only there to authorize and put plans together.

This film is pure action with little to no sex and seduction. Though the film does involve a gory torture scene that was too much for me.

Taylor Kitsch as the villain unfortunately has no presence his character is vague and never quite makes an impression and feels very non descriptive. Though he does take his shirt off a lot. Which weakens the film as then it feels like a battle of the heartthrobs. The tough sensitive one and the bad boy. Which then makes it seem more intended for teenage girls. 

Scott Adkins in a supporting role only seem to be late for scenes meant to show us how tough our lead is going toe to toe, skill to skill with him. Where as if that was what is supposed to be meant. Why not just make him the villain? Then again it seems best to have the heartthrobs against each other in the ends for a more violent tiger beat magazine stand off where only one can survive. 

Michael Keaton seem here for star power more than anything. Also to maybe create an iconic mentor for the main character. As he is believable but deserves better. He replaced Bruce Willis who dropped out.

The main character has nothing and no one to tie him down or wonder what happened to him. Which seems more convenient while trying to infuse his characters loneliness and why having someone taken away from him matters so deeply. Though he does live off a inheritance which also seems to be a huge convenience. That seems to give him a Batman type scenario only with taking down terrorist for the government.

Grade: C

HURRICANE STREETS (1997)

Written & Directed By: Morgan J. Freeman
Cinematography: Enrique Chediak
Editor: Sabine Hoffman

Cast: Brendan Sexton III, Mtume Gant, Carlo Alban, Edie Falco, Lynn Cohen, Shawn Elliott, Adrian Grenier, L.M. Kit Carson, Isidra Vega, Jose Zuniga, Heather Matarazzo, David Moscow 

A teenage petty criminal dreams of escaping his increasingly unlawful lifestyle when he meets a sweet girl who hopes to one day travel to Alaska.


This film comes across like a well Made student thesis film. Made all the more gritty for a more realistic feel and street credibility and for the film’s reputation. It comes across simple enough.

The film Has a central love story that is what helped sell the film. That romance actually stays very sweet and innocent. Actually, it’s the only part of the film that feels pure and natural making the film more endearing.

The film starts off with a strong opening though slowly gets duller. As the main character seems to get continuously plain red into a corner and tries his best to get out.

The film’s mindset stays juvenile and onto wales up to stone-cold reality towards the end. Which might be understandable as most of the characters are teens kids really. So we follow them.

How else do you explain that the crew couldn’t tell they had a snake in their midst. As well as a snitch. Though by the end you do feel a certain sympathy for all involved.

The recurring theme of the darts game feels silly and only later it’s importance is revealed.

This seems like the typical Sundance film festival youth crime story that was popular at the time that promised to show the grit that was going down but comes off softer than expected.

The film has an ambiguous ending that is clearly is inspired by THE GRADUATE. As both characters are hopeful but have nowhere to go. Only she doesn’t know it yet. She also stays the only innocent character throughout the whole film As she has done Nothing to deserve her troubles.

She already has to deal with an overbearing father. Who starts out a villain and then turns into a victim.

I remember loving this film when it first came out. Even watching it twice in theaters. Watching it today it’s a film that is very of its time period and doesn’t necessarily age well. Like an embarrassing photo from your youth that brings back memories but also feels a little embarrassed of.

Unfortunately, after that strong opening, we see the rest of the scene play out towards the end that more comes across as a desperate comedy of errors.

The film achieved certain popularity at the time due to a hit song that was featured on the soundtrack SEX & CANDY by Marcy Playground.

I try not to bad mouth it put down any films especially independent ones that have a hard enough time trying to find an audience in the first place.

This is the type of film that was praised as strong and authentic at the time though does feel like a film made for teens made by one of them, again at the time

In the end, the film ties into a carefree youth whereas most of the characters are poorer so that they base their decisions and behavior more on that and have bigger repercussions but more are doing things to fun as well as survival.

Grade: C

BUMBLEBEE (2018)

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Directed By: Travis Knight
Story & Written By: Christina Hodson
Cinematography: Enrique Chediak
Editor: Paul Rubell

Cast: Hailee Steinfeld, John Cena, Jorge Lendeborg Jr., Pamela Adlon, Jason Drucker, Stephen Schneider,John Ortiz, Glynn Turman, Len Cariou, Fred Dryer, Megyn Price 


On the run in the year 1987, Bumblebee finds refuge in a junkyard in a small Californian beach town. Charlie, on the cusp of turning 18 and trying to find her place in the world, discovers Bumblebee, battle-scarred and broken. When Charlie revives him, she quickly learns this is no ordinary, yellow VW bug.


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