Road to Perdition (2002)

Beautifully ominous but a borderline bore.

Sam Mendes has a unique skill of directing beautifully haunting movies. They have a melodious music, textured like A Calm amidst the Storm. Road to Perdition is a movie similar to “American Beauty” in its existential and emotionally revealing picture of a man’s life.

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Plot

A crime family, headed by Rooney lived far north in the times of Mob enforcement. Michael Sullivan is their trusted gun, leading a quiet and mysterious life with his wife and two young boys. The story is narrated by the elder son, Michael Sullivan Jr when he witnesses his father and Connor Rooney, the heir to the family, murder an associate. In a foul attempt to shut his mouth, Connor kills the younger son and the mother and attempts an assassination of Michael Sullivan. The son, now has to come to terms with his father’s dangerous profession and his tormented life. Ravaged by the news, Michael Sullivan devotes himself to protecting his son and vengeance for his family. Along the Road to Perdition, junior observes a previously unknown side of his father’s sentiments and his existential crisis. Where in, the father’s action however immoral and dangerous for both of them, leads to moment of an inexplicable truth and choice. Where he shall preserve his son’s conscience and redeem his future with the hopes of leading a better life than his.

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Likes and Dislikes

I’ve always had a special liking for movies of Sam Mendes. Be it the intrepid course of existentialism in “American Beauty” or the complex intricacies of a couple’s lives in “Revolutionary Road”, His movies are “Beautifully Haunting”. He displays his signature charms and idiosyncratic direction in this movie too. Tom Hanks is at his usual best throughout the strong events that shape the movie. The movie hooks in a strange way, where the storyline and the plot flow aren’t as important as their hidden emotional manifestations and metaphors.

The story had less of showcasing. Most of the times, the screen seems dull with no apparent use of the ongoing scene. With no elements of surprise or glamour till the end, the movie can come off as uneventful and boring. Certainly not a qualifier for the robust entertainer.

What’s My Point

With its simple plot and well-presented emotional and realistic content, Road to Perdition has a beautifully clear story and message. A good watch for anyone into graceful, story oriented movies with a hint of entertainment and room for afterthought.

 

Gladiator (2002)

An epic story, with an everlasting effect on the senses.

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I was 8 when I first saw this movie in a pirated DVD. And I hardly paid much attention to the craft except for the gore and action. But with time, this movie grew on me and I now realize that Ridley Scott outdid himself with this legendary story of Roman Empire. Winner of 5 Academy Awards, of the 8 nominations, Gladiator stands as a testament to everything altruistic about making a historic drama.

Plot

General Maximus is the epitome of honor and loyalty in the army of Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius. Commanding the allegiance of the hoard, he has lead Rome to its greatest victories and now there are none left for the challenge. When terminally ill, Emperor Marcus tells Maximus about his plans for making Rome a Republic and giving the power back to people. Restoring the vision and dream, on which the now corrupt empire was built upon. But these plans need Maximus to be the protector of Rome. Butat the king’s much dismay,he declines the offer. His wicked son, Prince Commodus, feeling betrayed by his father’s distrust in him, murders him and sentences Maximus to death. Escaping his death, Maximus returns home and finds his family burnt alive, by the tyrant. A series of trials follow, where and after Maximus is taken in for the Gladiator games. Where he shall stop at nothing till he has won the hearts of the crowd with his ruthless skills and complete his revenge on Commodus. In the kingdom of twisted political corruption and noble lives at the risk of the torment, Maximus stands as the only hope for ensuring the Dream that Rome once was, is realized.

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Likes & Dislikes

With the staggering display of Rome’s ancient glory, the movie has the best of visuals one can expect from a historic war movie. Inspite of the vast storytelling and the characters, their lives and actions are plain and easily understood. Russell Crowe as “Maximus” is flawless and Joaquin Phoenix as the tyrant “Commodus” is stellar. The story instantly grips, living upto the resonating words like Honor, Strength, and Courage. The location, the background score are unmistakable and perfectly synchronize with the moods which follow throughout the narration. Ridley Scott’s style of directing war movies becomes very clear and distinct as the violence, gore, old fashioned fights and the politics of ancient times form a perfect cocktail for senses.

I personally can’t think of anywhere the movie went wrong. But for people looking for action and war, 3 hours of intense historic drama might come off as boring.

What’s My Point?

With a story worth telling a hundred times, Gladiator has never failed to entertain me anytime in the past 14 years. With a lot of subtle things it teaches about life, the movie is visually appealing and mentally rejuvenating. Gladiator will always be cherished as an eternal tale of Honor and Strength.

Suicide Squad (2016)

(NO SPOILERS!) A near perfect cocktail of visually stunning action, ironic humor and Will Smith as the deadliest assassin in DC universe.

David Ayer’s movies are exactly what they call “A Calm before the Storm” kind. The visual array of combat skills follow right after intense emotions and epiphanies. His directorial streak after “Fury” continues and it establishes his mastery in the direction of warfare amidst subtle interpersonal feelings.

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Plot 

After Superman changed the course of warfare of soldiers and meta-humans, Amanda Waller, a high profile functionary in the pentagon puts together Task Force X. A team of the most ingenious assassins & supervillains who are incarcerated. Among the inducted are the world’s deadliest mercenary Deadshot, Joker’s psychotic queen Harley Quinn and the Killer Croc. Armed with the most advanced arsenal at the disposal of US government, the group’s objective is to save a superior target from the city. However, the city has been laid waste to, by the forces of ancient mystic “Enchantress” and her brother. Forging their ultimate weapon of destruction, they will stop at nothing till the world has faced their wrath. The last hope of the mankind will live or die, with the Suicide Squad.

Review

David Ayer maintains his skillful direction of a prime action movie. Yet he doesn’t fail to pitch in the exact amount of background and their sentimental aspects. In spite of a weak story and more than few plotholes, the movie doesn’t quiver your attention at any time. Thanks to the plethora of blazing gun fights, vibrant madness and good visual effects. Will Smith was an unconventional choice for Deadshot, since the expert marksman is a Caucasian in the comic universe. But nevertheless, Will Smith delivers a striking performance and is a wonder on-screen. His ironic humor with the sociopathic remarks of Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) are spot on and are hilarious. But this does seem pretentious at times and loses its charm, but the wisdom still holds. The low on screen time for Joker is an anticlimactic letdown. Apart from his love crazed psychotic self, there wasn’t anything of substance and much less “the Agent of Chaos”. David Ayer has his own distinctive style of directing War and Action movies. The action always bonds with the emotional state and vulnerability of the character. In Fury, the state of deprived hope and yet the solace they find in their tank add to the sentimental reciprocity of the great battle sequence in the end. Just like A Calm before the Storm. The movie inflicts vague perspectives in different people, but definitely appeases the craving for power packed entertainment.

The Recruit

A gripping, well paced thriller with good twists and spot on action.

I remember the first time I saw this movie. It was a pleasant change from the other thrillers i had watched then. With the right amount of flair, drama and deviousness, The Recruit is a fine choice for a well paced thriller and a story that’ll keep you at the edge of your seat.

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Plot

James Clayton is an expert hacker and a grade A cryptographer. He and his friends are into building server hacking softwares, which are retailed to interested companies at conventions. He makes a modest living as a part time bartender where he meets a mysteriously sharp witted man called Walter Burke. Walter introduces himself as a recruiter of CIA and invokes the interest of James to join CIA. After the preliminary elimination, the selected candidates are taken into the training institute of the agency. After a series of tests in both psychological and physical aspects, an unexpected bond develops between him and an ambitious woman Layla. After a grueling torture where James succumbs and gives out Walter’s identity in a CIA’s test for terrorist info extraction, he is terminated from CIA. But his life takes an unexpected twist, when Walter reveals to him that he is the chosen NOC(no official cover) agent and his assignment is to get close to Layla who is a double agent and retrieve a deadly computer virus which breaks down the entire system and results into a national emegency. The plot is thickening and James will realize he cannot trust anyone or anything he sees or hears except his own instinct. Nothing is what it seems like.

Likes & Dislikes

The well developed storyline is gripping and avoids major cliches which are evident in other thrillers. Al Pacino is devious and at his quick witted best. Colin Farell has a given a commendable performance which adds to the air of uncertainty and mis-judgement throughout the plot. The movie offers a set of great visuals and twists which set a mood for the exact action sequences. The movie takes the depiction of the Agency seriously and the story runs along the high tech, priviledged system of Langley accordingly.

The main fault i found with this movie is the absence of any room for further speculation. The movie once watched, hardly has much different opinions or perspectives to be offered during the next watch. The suspense fades along the repeated viewing. Something unlike other cult thrillers like Fight Club and The Departed. While the story might prevail, background score doesn’t accentuate the thrilling effects and often is dull and uneventful.

What’s my Point?

The movie comes off as a fairly complex suspense thriller without any redundant factors. A thrilling watch, where the plot provides a lasting memory and effect of the unique storyline and charisma the movie has to offer.

Be Back Hungry!

 

Body Of Lies

With good thrills and action, comes an obscure depiction of terrorism in the middle-east.

With Leonardo DiCaprio in the lead cast and Russel Crowe as his boss, this movie was a green light for me. Ridley Scott has made his own mark in the Hollywood with some exceptional stories and direction. The director of 1979 Sci-fi blockbuster “Aliens” and 2000’s legendary drama “Gladiator”, churns out a movie on the impending terrorism & war crisis in Iraq and the the immobilizing forces, with certain thrills and realism. Body of Lies.

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Plot

Roger Ferris is a top class CIA agent in a town of Samarra in Iraq. His mission is to gain intelligence on the high profile Islamic terrorist groups responsible for the bombings all over the globe. The movie starts with an unknown terrorist who masterminds an attack and blows up a counter-terrorism operation in Manchester, England. He is later identified by Roger as notorious leader Al Saleem, who wants Universal Caliphate dominating the world. What follows is a thrilling story of the CIA operative in an uneasy alliance with the Jordanian Intelligence director, Hani Salaam and his boss at Langley, Captain Ed Hoffman. After an impatient interference by the captain in the matters of breaching a terrorist safe house, Roger is forced to deport the city of Amman by Hani. After brainstorming, Roger comes up with a devious plan to catch the eye of Al Saleem. Creating a facade of another terrorist activity & blowing up an air base, he tricks an architect from the middle east with unknown links to anarchists using him as the scapegoat for bombing. Just when his plan seems to work, it backfires on him & he’s caught in the crossfires of the Terrorist group & the CIA with his love interest at the brink. All in the while dealing with issues of his guilty consciousness over innocent deaths.

Likes and Dislikes 

The outline of the story, with the terrorism and effects of war crisis in Iraq are shown vibrantly. The political agendas, deception and the ruthless disposition of the CIA are well potrayed by Leonardo Dicaprio as Roger and Russel Crowe in the role of Ed Hoffman. The thrills, the insight into the functioning of terrorist organizations and their idiosyncrasies are well accounted in the show. The cruel torture inflicted upon by the anarchists are shown unabashed. Makes a good sense for the guilty consciousness of the people who serve in the zone.

While the outline of story was good, the depiction of the same on screen was poor. The situation of Palestinian refugee camps and the effect of the crisis on commoners could have been well manifested. The story is unconnected at many places & the insights in to the working of CIA and their political influences could have been shown broadly. Apart from narrow perspectives, the storytelling is obscure and at many points it felt i had lost the point of the whole movie. The thrills aren’t nail biters and action and chase sequences are just above the average.

Whats my Point?

Just another average movie of Ridley Scott with a good story and multiple outlooks at various lives in the field of counter terrorism. Although the movie isn’t completely effective in itself, it was a good watch for the smaller intricacies in the administration and agents in the war zone.

Be Back Hungry!

 

Leon: The Professional

A Professional exemplar for the distinctive action, thrill and powerful storytelling.

Had been meaning to watch this movie for a long time now. Too bad i didn’t. The director of classic action flicks like Taken & Transporter set his own trend of quite storytelling, powerful emotions and gangland style action movies with Leon: The Professional. Thrilling drama, action and socially challenging emotions, there are very few movies in the genre which can match its archetype.

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Plot

Negotiations are something Leon is very good at making happen. One policy. No woman No children, Leon is an expert hitman. His skills become evident as the movie begins and he strikes a negotiation with a drug lord after executing his men in a very “Serious” way. A softer side of him is revealed when he saves a young, mentally troubled girl from getting killed at the hands of a corrupt and maniacal cop and his minions, who have already killed her adopted family and a 4 year brother. Now the girl seeks vengeance. She asks Leon to train her for that and to work his household in return. What follows is a story of an unusual bond which develops between the girl and the assassin. As he prepares her with guns and aiming during his contract kills, she educates him and reinforces his kindred spirit. He finds peace and redemption in the eccentric girl who falls in love with him. Once he told her that revenge should be forgotten, today he will fulfill her revenge by taking on the madman and his force at his front door.

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Likes and Dislikes

With a distinct style of action and quite & emotional storytelling, the movie is as interesting as entertaining. Reality hasn’t been excluded while filming any scene. The association of the cops with the mafia bosses and drug lords in the city are picturesque. The performances delivered by Jean Reno & young Natalie Portman are very intense. The bond, the sexual innuendos and their contrasting yet warm feelings for each other are surreal in the movie.The changing course of a violent life when caring for an innocent spirit are shown momentously. Gary Oldman commands the attention with his substance abusive and maniacal bearing. An emotional yet commanding storyline and thrill are brilliantly directed. Camerawork stands out in a few scenes and are very effective.

A couple of times, it seemed monotonous. The lifestyle, the locality, even the way a few shots are fired. Not a compelling watch at times and fails to constantly hook the attention on screen. There are minor junk scenes in the movie which could have been avoided. But in all other aspects, the movie surpasses the expectations of genre.

What’s my point?

If you’re looking for a hardcore action movie, it’ll disappoint. But if willing to try a powerful storyline, the atypical action and an offbeat emotional drama, Leon: The Professional is an exciting watch.

Be Back Hungry!