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+

2 GUNS (2013)

Directed By: Baltasar Kormakur
Written By: Blake Masters
Based on the boom! studios graphic novels By: Steven Grant
Cinematography: Oliver Wood
Editor: Michael Tronick

Cast: Denzel Washington,Mark Wahlberg, Paula Patton,Edward James Olmos, Bill Paxton, James Marsden, Robert John Burke, Fred Ward, Patrick Fischler

Two hardened criminals get into trouble with the US border patrol after meeting with a Mexican drug lord, and then revelations start to unfold.


The film is fun though it is always predictable and you know how it is going to turn out. Though luckily the film keeps us on our toes and interested to see how we will get there.

Didn’t know that the film was actually based on a graphic novel. Though Mark Wahlberg is more an old hat at taking on roles originated elsewhere and in graphic novels. Denzel Washington not so much. 

 The twists and turns are appreciated to keep the film lively and drive the story forward.

The action sequences are impressive. You can tell the two stars are having in with the material, maybe even then the audience. As each doesn’t stretch too far in their roles and falls back to their charms and talents.

This is the type of film where the plot comes off as an afterthought. Though complicated this film seems more invested in the chemistry of the two stars and how much they can interact as superstars. As well as an emphasis on action sequences and who comes out on top in them.

A buddy action comedy is only tougher, involving more death and violence. With two Movie stars, you normally don’t see Co-Starring in each other’s Films. Which is really what brings the audience to this film more than the actual story. 

Shocked, the movie isn’t directed by a frequent collaborator for Denzel Washington Antoine Fuqua. As it has the same polish as his films but lacks the drama needed for one of his films. 

Paula Patton seems more here as eye candy with a surprising amount of nudity. She does set the movie forward. Between this and the movie FLIGHT, Denzel Washington being involved with younger women and having nudity brings one back to the films of yesteryear though admittedly gratuitous, but so much of this film already is still stylish. 

This film is almost like a veteran movie as most cast members are recognizable and here more to chew the scenery but at least they come off as they are having fun. That energy extends to the viewer and makes this film entertaining while you take none of it seriously 

It’s not god’s gift to make a decent action thriller with a bunch of intentional laughs. At least the movie offers an intriguing story that does hold the audience’s interest other than having the two stars teaming up or battling one another amongst the more ridiculous elements. It has suspenseful moments. 

Though honestly if you are a fan of either or both of the stars of this movie. You will like it thus making it criticism-proof in the long run. Especially when the film is better down than expected

Grade: B-  

SPENSER CONFIDENTIAL (2020)

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Directed By: Peter Berg
Written By: Sean O’Keefe & Brian Helgeland
Based On Characters Created By: Robert Parker
Based On The Novel By: Ace Atkins
Cinematography: Tobias A. Schliessler
Editor: Michael L. Sale 


Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Winston Duke, Alan Arkin, Iliza Shlesinger, Michael Gaston, Marc Maron, Bokeem Woodbine, Colleen Camp, Post Malone, James Dumont 


When two Boston police officers are murdered, ex-cop Spenser teams up with his no-nonsense roommate, Hawk, to take down criminals.

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RENAISSANCE MAN (1994)

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Directed By: Penny Marshall
Written By: Jim Buerstein
Cinematography: Adam Greenberg
Editor: George Bowers & Battle Davis 


Cast: Danny DeVito, Gregory Hines, Stacey Dash, Mark Wahlberg, Kadeem Hardison, Lilo Brancato, Khalil Kain, Ed Begley Jr., James Remar, Richard T. Jones, Cliff Robertson, Ann Cusack, Greg Sporleder, Alanna Ubach, Matt Kessler, Isabella Hoffman 


A down-on-his-luck businessman desperately takes the only job offered – a teacher in the U.S. Army. His mission: keep a ragtag bunch of underachieving misfits from flunking out of basic training! Be on alert as this unlikely new teacher and his underdog class unexpectedly inspire each other to be all they can be!

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LONE SURVIVOR (2013)

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Written & Directed By: Peter Berg
Based On The Novel By: Marcus Lutrrell & Patrick Robinson
Cinematography By: Tobias A. Schliessler
Editor: Colby Parker Jr. 


Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Ben Foster, Emile Hirsch, Eric Bana, Yousef Azami, Alexander Ludwig, Jerry Ferrara, Peter Berg

Marcus Luttrell, a Navy Seal, and his team set out on a mission to capture or kill notorious al Qaeda leader Ahmad Shahd, in late June 2005. After running into mountain herders and capturing them, they were left with no choice but to follow their rules of engagement or be imprisoned. Now Marcus and his team are left to fight for their lives in one of the most valiant efforts of modern warfare.

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