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 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+

SPIRAL: FROM THE BOOK OF JIGSAW (2021)


Directed by: Darren Lynn Bousman
Written by: Josh Stolberg & Peter Goldfinger
Cinematography: Jordan Oram
Editor: Dev Singh 

Cast: Chris Rock, Samuel L. Jackson, Max Minghella, Marisol Nichols, Dan Petronijevic, Richard Zeppieri, Patrick McManus 

Working in the shadow of his father, an esteemed police veteran, brash Detective Ezekiel “Zeke” Banks and his rookie partner take charge of a grisly investigation into murders that are eerily reminiscent of the city’s gruesome past. Unwittingly entrapped in a deepening mystery, Zeke finds himself at the center of the killer’s morbid game.


This film feels like a script that was written to be a thriller and then was rewritten to throw in some horror elements and connect it to the saw movies. Which it barely does.

The film is predictable and while like previous saw films it seems to like to play around with time or reveal certain elements to the audience when it needs to explain certain things.

The twists don’t feel as shocking, truthfully they never even feel earned. 

Amazing that this film was filmed before last summer’s racial political upheaval surrounding the murder of George Floyd. As this film seems almost like a kind of giving the audience what it wants. In a tale of dirty cops being the victims. As only one non- cop is killed throughout.

The surprise is making an African American cop The leading character. Now this film is built around Chris Rock as the star. As he supposedly also helped come up with the story. His character seems to be the only truly innocent person throughout and the film comes off as cruel. As the film seems to want to keep punishing him.

The acting throughout the film is spotty and Chris rock as hard as he tries is miscast. At times he tries too hard and his delivery sounds more comedic or non believable in his inflections. Not trying to rain on anyone’s parade he is a talented person and one of my favorite stand-up’s but here in this role, he leaves a lot to be desired. 

Samuel L. Jackson plays a supporting role in the film, but his part is integral. It also feels like he is barely in the film. 

Also, the film looks cheap. Know that these films are usually limited in the budget and tend to stay small and in a few locations, but watching the film you can tell. As it keeps making itself obvious. Which hampers the enjoyment of it.

The special effects are still top touch and the film is gory. Maybe not trying as hard as the previous films. 

All of this is a shame as this film seems to be more aimed at African Americans and starring them with representation horror. Which Could definitely use more of, but this is not the right project. 

Grade: F

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+

187 (ONE EIGHT SEVEN) (1997)

Directed By: Kevin Reynolds
Written By: Scott Yagemann
Cinematography: Ericson Core
Editor: Stephen Semel

Cast: Samuel L. Jackson, John Heard, Kelly Rowan, Clifton Collins Jr., Karina Arroyave, Tony Plana, Lobo Sebastian, Jack Kehler, Jonah Rooney, Method Man, Richard Riehle, Antwon Tanner 

15 months after being stabbed 9 times by a student at work as a high school teacher in NYC, Mr. Garfield is working in LA as a substitute teacher come full-time. He refuses to be a victim anymore.


This is the story of a man, a teacher pushed over the line. A vigilante tale that shows the bloody aftermath. Rather then it just solving everything. That revenge can make some things worse m. As there will always be someone else to take the place of the initial problem. 

It seems in the end all this was meant to teach his tormentors enemies a lesson. One way or another. To make characters who were actually willing to see past all of this and understand this is not a lifestyle.

By the end even in death, there seem to be everlasting enemies.

The film seems to want to make a point but by the end. The lesson seems kind of empty 

The film seems to have a dry and saturated style and film style. That keeps things interesting and vivid. At times it makes the look seem all the More desperate and offers a kind of stuck-in-the-dumps look for the character’s surroundings.

The film shows not all the Villains are criminals but also the so-called do-gooders. It plays it’s morality like a modern-day western. Where once the hero has let the villains get to him that he behaves like them he has been infected with their propensity towards violence and menace. While trying to show that some hope can grow in the middle of nihilism.

Though this is more of a character study with Star Samuel L. Jackson in the starring role. One of his first. It also is a character study of two characters bound to clash. As each raises the stakes against one another.

This also allows him to be an orator and raise his voice which is one of his strengths as an actor.

Though the film is filmed and treated more as a thriller. Most of the time it speaks more through emotions and moods rather than physical. 

This is one of the first movies where Samuel L. Jackson is in the leading roles. Which was one of the reasons at the time that inspired me to see it In Theaters on opening weekend. Where I ended up loving the style of the film but by the end felt mildly disappointed.

Here his character is ambivalent about the danger he faces from his students before he is actually attacked by one. He decides to relocate to what looks like another rundown urban school. Where things are on at first and even has a kind of blossoming friendship/romance until she sees his scars so that rejection eats at him couples with threatening and menaces at school all over again. Triggers him and when the principal is more screwed of being sued then protecting his staff. He feels that he so left with only one other option. 

The film also offers Karina Arroyave one of the biggest roles of her career. As most do her career before this film she had been playing small roles in these types of films where an educator makes a difference. (LEAN ON ME, STAND AND DELIVER) in smaller roles. Here she gets a string vulnerable role where she gets to make a mark as one of the mroe innocent characters. Where her character is treated mroe like property of the gang in a more sexual way. (This might be why as she in real life is older than her character but still looks young. Why she got the role instead of someone who might have been age-appropriate.)  In this battle fo wills between the teacher and Clifton Collins Jr. (in only the second I had seen him in a film) 

I remember him from his first role in THE STONED AGE and then an about-face in this film.  so just him  showing range in his first roles so early was impressive. As soon he would be all over the place in different roles though usually Criminals. Though none ever felt the same as the last. 

He has had a long career, sometimes he can be bland as in light it up where you expect him to do more as it I was one fo the roles he can do easily and bring Charisma maybe not his fault maybe the script or director’s fault 

One of the big calling cards of the movie’s promotion was the casting of rapper Method Man in the film. At the time he was the hot new rapper part of the Wu-Tang Clan at the time. Here he has a small cameo role in the film. The same thing happened when he was cast in the film COPLAND.

The last act of the film that is based around the movie THE DEER HUNTER. Is truly bonkers even as it tries to be run of the mill.

As this is a film that you can easily write off as simplistic or one-note as just another Vigilante thriller but the film is much more interested in the characters, motivations, guilt, and morality behind their actions and decisions.

This was also director Kevin Reynolds follow-up film to WATERWORLD. Where obviously he was trying to make a much smaller and more dramatic film. 

In The end, this comes off as the Los Angeles version of a street movie and a skewered look at the teacher who makes a difference genre. Showing more the dangers they face in the day today. 

Grade: C+

KISS OF DEATH (1995)

Directed By: Barbet Schroeder
Written By: Richard Price
Based on the Original Screenplay “KISS OF DEATH” By: Ben Hecht & Charles Lederer
Based on a story By Eleazar Lipsky
Cinematography: Luciano Tovolli
Editor: Lee Percy

Cast: David Caruso, Nicolas Cage, Samuel L. Jackson, Ving Rhames, Stanley Tucci, Helen Hunt, Michael Rapaport, Kathryn Erbe, Jay O. Sanders, Hope Davis, Anthony Heald, Philip Baker Hall, Paul Calderon, Anne Meara, John Costelloe 

A reformed convict goes undercover with the help of an angry detective to ensnare a psychotic mobster.


When I saw the trailer I knew I had to see this film as soon as possible. I had seen it on the show COMING ATTRACTIONS on the E! Channel when it used to be more devoted to film and film lovers. Not so much gossip. This trailer had me hypnotized so much I taped it and would watch it over and over again. Keep in mind this was before the internet. 

One of my favorite trailers at the time. The cast was seductive so I ended up watching it on opening weekend. 

I know this is a remake but i haven’t seen the original. Which unknown was noteworthy for Richard Widmark’s giggling hitman. There are no signs of that here. Even though Nicolas Cage steals the show as the villain here. Though that might be due to the script trying to make him come off as memorable as Richard Widmark.

This film is supposed to be a thriller though most of the time plays like a dark comedy. One that is central To New York’s character types. Even as it has More thriller elements and framework. 

Everybody seems to speak way too loudly throughout and every sentence or word seems to end and be with an exclamation point. 

This is a modern remake for the 1990’s with what would end up being an all-star cast in the middle of their careers and some just been naming their hot streaks. 

The film seems to borrow part of the cast of PULP FICTION. As the dialogue also tries to be loose and have criminals have odd yet funny conversations emblematic of that  film. It even has a few actors from that movie in it’s cast but it has an overall style of cool. A violent cool with bits of dark comedy thrown in. Where it again always feels like the characters are playing types more than real human beings for the most part.

This movie was supposed to help make a movie star out of David Caruso after being a lifelong character actor and being on a hit Television show. Which pulled him to fame and leaving that show after two seasons to be a movie star. Here is a role he was used to just not being at the center of attention.

Nicolas Cage here is off-kilter as always. Muscle bound and hilarious. As he plays an over the top mobster’s son who Caruso is trying to take down or more like the cops are forcing him to. He is murderous yet childlike at instances 

In the end the most despicable character and true villain of the film is Michael Rappaport who causes all this trouble and is taken down early and quickly.

While the film tries to feel realistic. You are always aware that it is a production. As it even feels thoroughly always like cinema. Never like any kind of reality or relatable. 

For all the violence and tough talk by the end it seems a little too cut and dry. Where it ends up feeling lightweight by the end. No matter how far it has taken us. 

GRADE: B- 

FORMULA 51 (2001)

Formula51

Directed By: Ronny Yu
Written By: Stel Pavlou
Cinematography By: Hang-Sang Poon
Editor: David Wu

Cast: Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Carlyle, Emily Mortimer, Meatloaf, Rhys Ifans, Ade, Sean Pertwee

Elmo McElroy is a streetwise American master chemist who heads to England to sell his special new formula – a powerful, blue concoction guaranteed to take you to ‘the 51st state.’ McElroy’s new product delivers a feeling 51 times more powerful than any thrill, any pleasure, any high in history. But his plans for a quick, profitable score go comically awry when he gets stuck in Liverpool with an unlikely escort and his ex-girlfriend and becomes entangled in a bizarre web of double-dealing and double-crosses.

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KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE (2015)

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Directed By: Matthew Vaughn
Written By: Jane Goldman & Matthew Vaughn
Based On The Graphic Novel “The Secret Service” By: Mark Millar & Dave Gibbons Cinematography By: George Richmond
Editor: Eddie Hamilton & Jon Harris
Music By: Henry Jackman & Matthew Margeson 

Cast: Colin Firth, Taron Egerton, Samuel L. Jackson, Mark Strong, Michael Caine, Sophia Boutella, Jack Davenport, Mark Hammil, Fiona Hampton, Anna Halstrom

Agent Harry “Galahad” Hart from the Kingsman Secret Service helps troublemaker Gary “Eggsy” Unwin, who is the son of an Agent that saved the lives of Harry and his team, sacrificing himself seventeen years ago. Harry invites Eggsy to be a candidate to the vacancy of a new Agent in the agency, and he is trained by Agent Merlin and competes with other candidates. Meanwhile, the Kingsmen investigate the industrialist Valentine, an insane genius of technology who is plotting a deadly plan with his assistant Gazelle to save the Earth from global warming, eliminating most of the population with a chip and saving only those that he has chosen. Continue reading “KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE (2015)”

SHAFT (2019)

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Directed By: Tim Story
Written By: Kenya Barris & Alex Barnow
Based Upon the character John Shaft from the novel by: Ernest Tidyman
Cinematography: Larry Blanford
Editor: Peter S. Elliot 

Cast: Samuel L. Jackson, Jesse T. Usher, Regina Hall, Alexandra Shipp, Richard Roundtree, Avan Jogia, Luna Lauren Velez, Issach De Bankole, Cliff “Method Man” Smith, Matt Lauria, Tashiana Washington 


JJ Shaft, a cyber security expert with a degree from MIT, enlists his family’s help to uncover the truth behind his best friend’s untimely death.

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THE SAMARITAN (2012)

THESAMARITAN

Directed By: David Weaver
Written By: David Weaver & Elan Mastai
Cinematography By: Francois Dagenais
Editor: Geoff Ashenhurst 


Cast: Samuel L. Jackson, Ruth Negga, Gil Bellows, Luke Kirby, Tom Wilkinson, Deborah Kara Unger

After twenty years in prison, Foley is finished with the grifter’s life. When he meets an elusive young woman named Iris, the possibility of a new start looks real. But his past is proving to be a stubborn companion.

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