THE PROTEGE (2021)

Directed By: Martin Campbell

Written By: Richard Wenk

Cinematography: David Tattersall

Editor: Angela M. Catanzaro

Cast: Maggie Q, Michael Keaton, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Patrick, David Rintoul, Ray Fearon, Patrick Malahide, Ori Pfeffer 

Rescued as a child by the legendary assassin Moody, Anna is the world’s most skilled contract killer. However, when Moody is brutally killed, she vows revenge for the man who taught her everything she knows.


This film is fun as long as you take little of it seriously. As it is under an action espionage blanket. 

The film feels like a smarter THE TRANSPORTER sequel/spin-off/reboot franchise that feels less exploitive. Only under a revenge tale origin 

This is what more action films should feel like taking themselves seriously enough for the story but also knowing they aren’t rewriting a formula. 

The film is plain yet pretty and has enough of a big-name cast of big-name actors in it. Who are in mroe of the film than expected. Not necessarily cameos or brief supporting roles. 

This is clearly mroe of a paycheck job for most. As they are better than the material and their presence seems to be the main draw. I mean where else are you going to see Michael Keaton seduce a woman and be a prime romantic partner for the lead.

It’s nice to see actress Maggie Q, finally catching up to an action career that had been previously laid out it seemed at first with the second adaptation of LA FEMME NIKITA. As a television show. She has been in many types of film roles since then but usually seems to return to action films. Though usually as a villain or sidekick. 

Director Martin Campbell has been Doing These types of action thrillers for a while. That his direction excels with. Making general material all the more thrilling. Just look at what he manages to do with Jackie Chan in the movie the foreigner. Making him less comic releif acrobat and a more dangerous fighting machine out for revenge. 

The story is the motivation for the actors but the film is more thrills, action, intrigue, and a bit of flirtation. Until the third act which is more captivating. Once the cat and mouse angle Presents itself it becomes intriguing.

The fighting sequence is a sex scene. Shows psychopaths in love and a kind of release from all that first-act flirtation. Which showcases strength, enthusiasm, energy, physicality, and consumption.

Though Michael Keaton Almost steals the film with his charm and his impressive fighting skills in the action sequences. Where by the end you are rooting for both His character and hers. 

Grade: C+

THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7 (2020)

Written & Directed By: Aaron Sorkin 
Cinematography: Phedon Papamichael 
Editor: Alan Baumgarten

Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Sacha Baron Cohen, Jeremy Strong, Alex Sharp, John Carroll Lynch, Yahya Abdul-Manteen II, Mark Rylance, Joseph Gordon Levitt, Ben Shenkman, Frank Langella, Michael Keaton, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Caitlin Fitzgerald 

What was intended to be a peaceful protest at the 1968 Democratic National Convention turned into a violent clash with police and the National Guard. The organizers of the protest–including Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, Tom Hayden, and Bobby Seale–were charged with conspiracy to incite a riot. The trial that followed was one of the most notorious in history.


This is a film that comes with a certain pedigree so that no matter what happens it constantly comes off with a certain pedigree.
It’s Certainly an eye-opening history lesson and recreation. That does feel like it was a film always planned as a live-action version of an animated documentary that tells the same tale. Only here the film filled with recognizable actors came in a vital time of the United States being in a personal political uproar. That not exactly was a repeat of the times that the film depicts but in a similar situation. Proving that history has a way of repeating itself. 

This film seemed to want to send a message of hope, faith, and belief or democracy and the power of individuals United in belief to hope to change the system and stand up for their rights and everyone’s.

The actors are all good. Even if some come off more like they are playing virtues and beliefs (Eddie Redmayne) rather Than characters. While others seem to be going more for impersonations. Then again some characters are written more vividly than others. As like the characters’ personalities some Are more dramatic some are more comedic.

Mark Rylance, certainly stands out amongst the cast. Even if his role isn’t as showy. Even as everybody here wants and deserves a Pat on the back for what they bring to the film and their roles. Ultimately at times like the film, it feels a bit self-serving. 

The script is good, it feels like it is more meant to say something about the then-current political times while going over historical events. 

The direction by screenwriter Aaron Sorkin is fine. No big flourishes, only wish that it might have been a bit stronger visually and made more of an impression in scenes. Especially those where there are action or powerful moments. 

For a film that seems to reach for so much and paint a bigger picture, it feels restricted or smaller than expected. Which works somewhat as reminding us that this was a microcosm of the country where so much was being decided. It also achieved letting it feel more personal and intimate. Though it feels different than what we are used to with historical films feeling epic and as big as the decisions and landmark history they bring forth. 

This is a crowd-pleasing tale of constant injustices that unfortunately seem to keep happening and have to be seen to be believed. 

Even if some might say that it Is mostly liberal infighting against injustices and a corrupt system that has sought fit to target them. As political leaders. 

Even as Bobby Seale’s story is so strong and fascinating than seems cut off at a certain point and out of the rest of the film. As in love he seemed lumped in with the rest randomly. 

The film stays entertaining. A s a smooth feel-good movie. It just never feels close to blowing you away. Though it is a story that needs to be told and shared. 

Grade: B-

ROBOCOP (2014)

Directed By: Jose Padilha
Written By: Joshua Zetumer
Based On The Original 1987 Screenplay By: Edward Neumeier & Michael Miner Cinematography By: Lula Carvalho
Editor: Peter McNulty & Daniel Rezende

Cast: Joel Kinnaman, Gary Oldman, Michael Keaton, Michael K. Williams, Jay Baruchel, Jackie Earle Haley, Samuel L. Jackson, Jennifer Ehle, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Aimee Garcia

In RoboCop, the year is 2028 and multinational conglomerate OmniCorp is at the center of robot technology. Overseas, their drones have been used by the military for years – and it’s meant billions for OmniCorp’s bottom line. Now OmniCorp wants to bring their controversial technology to the home front, and they see a golden opportunity to do it. When Alex Murphy – a loving husband, father and good cop doing his best to stem the tide of crime and corruption in Detroit – is critically injured in the line of duty, OmniCorp sees their chance for a part-man, part-robot police officer. OmniCorp envisions a RoboCop in every city and even more billions for their shareholders, but they never counted on one thing: there is still a man inside the machine pursuing justice.


Though a sanitized version of the original. This film retains some of the original aspects of the film. While managing to care about its own identity that is somewhat noteworthy and is better at being a reboot than something like TOTAL RECALL which tried too hard to be a virtual remake with all the greatest hits they try to change it around.

The film tries to be somewhat satirical with a lot less bite. It is strangely more on point and cynical though takes the time to explain as feels more Of the time whereas the original always felt futuristic.

The film allows the director Jose Padilha (ELITE SQUAD) to keep his hand-held style of filming and guerrilla, you are their filmmaking skills.

The original ROBOCOP was more memorable as it looked accomplished for a film with such a low budget. In this film, you see the big-budget onscreen. No one essentially embarrasses themselves. The film just feels basic by the end. Nothing really to give it an identity or make it memorable. Especially when it already has so many naysayers against It just for being made as the film is still relevant and remembered. At least this film tries to be an honest reboot.

The changes really hammer home some points. The revealing scene of what is left of him is really a gripping scene aided by impressive special effects.

The film is more excessive in price and scope than the original which was more excessive In Behavior, violence, and action. Now of course the studio wants the film to appeal to broader demographics. So it is softened torn a hard R to a pg-13 rating aim end more at a younger audience.
Director Jose Padilha and actor Joel Kinnaman fought hard for an R rating, but due to the ever-expanding budget, which went from a modest $60 million budget and ballooned to a $120 million budget, studio executives were forced to deliver a PG-13 rating in hopes to recoup the budget they had spent on the film. Throughout the course of filming, studio executives kept a close eye on Padilha, making sure he was going to deliver a PG-13 rating. At least this film comes off as more questioning the ethics of the situation. Which is either modern-day or futures

This version of ROBOCOP feels more like a comic book version that would have been understandable for popularity amongst kids in the 80’s. Whereas the original first two films from the ’80s were seen by a generation who were probably too young to see the film and despite its rating still managed to become an iconic hero mostly to kids. While being so jetted I gross violence on screen. Featuring drugs and having a more graphic satirical cynical nature.

I love the original I was one of those who saw the film way too young and loved it. Though didn’t understand it 100%, not the ramifications of what I was exactly seeing. Nick Schenk and James Vanderbilt are among the few uncredited writers who have entirely rewritten Joshua Zetumer’s screenplay.

The satire tries for reaching reactions but brings up a subject we already know to showcase. Though his is all comparative and goes against the film leaving its own identity barren as it is always being compared to its original or a similar film. Like MEMENTO and THE SALTON SEA have similar storylines through different points, direction and showcases its own story and plot in different ways

The film feels more like a video game at times but is kept realistically vivid.

It’s nice when a film manages to surprise you and is much better in quality than it was suspected and I can admit when I was wrong on the first impression. Someone’s the same can be said about people…even me.

Like MINORITY REPORT it is part of the idea that this new technology is good for keeping statistics down a bit at what cost.

Watching ROBOCOP remade and marketed as a machine feels a bit like behind the scenes of how maybe the film was made itself very meta.

I found it interesting how he is seen as a club or in the original design. Though once the new design comes into play the film moves up and a new identity takes off. That the film begins to suffer. The action scenes aren’t anything special and feel basic. Losing the part of the personality a measurement the audience came specifically to see.

I can see why the well-regarded cast chooses to be in the film. Especially Michael Keaton who makes an interesting return to form.

Jackie Earl Haley hilarious in his role wish there was more of him in the film. Other than a small role and a return towards the end.

Gary Oldman has his own Doctor Frankenstein type role starts off the film innocent, but finds himself falling in line with his employers as they give him more than he can ever want and interested to see how his invention plays out and reacts. Which also informs the audience. Though it is nice to see the original film batman in scenes with the reboots Commissioner Jim Gordon

Samuel l. Jackson’s role in this film feels like a more well spoken. J. Jonah Jameson from SPIDER-MAN for this franchise.

Interesting angle as we watch Alex Murphy not only deal with his new life change but also as he pieces together his own murder. Doesn’t seem to be as grand a plan as more random.

There is also a revenge plot that is dropped then brought up and then passes to the side as simple. For bigger machinations. Though leaves no closure as to the details.

Then there is a character change that you kind of know is coming. Though still feels strange once it happens, Once the villain is revealed. A villain more of morals I guess more than actual acts, but supervised to a degree and gave the go-ahead. It gets a little false and generalized not the individual but more what he represents and his ideas.

It tries to impart thy everyone has a price, only those who are truly brave and honest don’t

While they were successful in the making of the film and can understand why the project was greenlit. It would have been great if the film just wasn’t ROBOCOP. And was just an action film under a new name and characters. Redesigning the suit to be more updated and flexible doesn’t help. Though that point is handled well in the film as both an homage and representation. After having his time goes back to the original model. The same we in the audience have known.

I can admit I wondered I they made a sequel where would it head.

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

BIRDMAN OR (THE UNEXPECTED VIRTUE OF IGNORANCE) (2014)

birdman

Directed By: Alejandro González Iñárritu
Written By: Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolas Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris & Armando Bo
Based On The Writings of: Raymond Carver
Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki
Editor: Douglas Crise & Stephen Mirrione

Cast: Michael Keaton, Edward Norton, Emma Stone, Amy Ryan, Zach Galifianakis, Andrea Riseborough, Naomi Watts, Lindsay Duncan, Merrit Wever, Damian Young, Paula Pell, Bill Camp, Stephen Adly Gurgis

Riggan Thomas, once known quite well to movie theater goers as an iconic super hero called “The Birdman” had recently turned down a third installment of the franchise. Now washed up, he attempts to reinvent himself as a director by staging a new retelling of a classic Broadway dramatic play called “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love”. The events leading up to the Saturday night premiere prove to be one disaster after another as the original lead actor is injured while on set and Riggan scrambles to find a replacement, but the replacement proves to be exactly who he needs – a method actor who takes the job way too seriously. But Riggan has a hard time juggling between the set, his replacement actor, his equally washed up daughter, and a host of other disasters that prevent a proper staging of the play. Meanwhile, a New York Times critic who Riggan has to woo threatens to shut down production of the play before it even starts with a scathing review of the dress rehearsal. Does Riggan have a hit on his hands or will he even make it to opening night?

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