Mini-Reviews of Movies I Watched In 2018 – Part 2

Even more movies! Continuing off from Part 1, or movies 1-10, this has the next 10 movies I watched that were new-to-me during 2018. Buckle up, because I needed a pun to tell you that this time around there is a LOT of Fast and Furious.

2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)

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Not sure on this one, I probably saw this when it came out but I absolutely don’t remember seeing ANY Fast & Furious aside the first and Tokyo Drift before. After re-watching TFATF (2001) with Film & 40s I decided to keep watching some more so I ended up here with another Film & 40s to go with it.

2F2F continues Paul Walker’s journey of being a cop, not being a cop, maybe being a cop, and not being sure if he’s a cop while absolutely being sure he needs to tell everyone how much he is definitely not a cop while acting like he’s a cop because he’s a cop but also technically sometimes he isn’t. It’s said to be the worst of the franchise and yet it still managed to be a whole lot of VERY STUPID fun – stupid that even for F&F seems extra stupid. Without the addition of Roman (played by yet another actor who hates working with The Rock because there are MULTIPLE in this series!) this probably would have been pretty bad, but the dork who wants to be scarface as a villain and the relationship between Roman and Paul Walker (does he have a name in these movies?) is fun and even the STUPID SHIT like cops with future-guns that EMP your car with giant harpoons comes off as so bad it’s good, and otherwise the movie is totally alright in a genuine way. Definitely a huge step down from the original, but it doesn’t help that Vin Diesel (the other actor who hates working with The Rock) isn’t here and everyone knows that him and Paul Walker are the core of this franchise.

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It’s stupid, but it’s still fun. They launch a muscle car onto a boat.

Fast & Furious (2009)

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Contrary to what you may expect, Fast & Furious is actually the fourth film in The Fast and The Furious franchise. It’s also probably the best one of the first four. Well okay, Tokyo Drift is, but that aside as a spinoff of the main canon three, up to this point Fast & Furious is the best one. It’s both a good TFATF movie as well as an actually pretty good action flick that stands on it’s own even outside of the franchise, much like the first one which is probably my second favorite (again, not including Tokyo Drift).

This time around I really liked the mix of good cop Walker (not technically a cop) and bad cop Diesel (not actually a cop in any capacity, actually a man wanted by every agency possible) both pursuing the same thing while Diesel holds a huge grudge against Walker for most of the film. Diesel wants revenge for the death of someone very important to him and who was a main character in the first film – they got killed by a guy working directly under the leader of a drug cartel. He figures this out by literally becoming a Witcher, he smells some dirt at the crash site and LITERALLY SEES THE ENTIRE SCENE TAKE PLACE INCLUDING THE BAD GUY’S CAR AND THE BAD GUY HIMSELF. For some fucking reason, I’m not sure why still, he also wants to kill the main boss of this cartel, not just the one who did the murdering. Walker on the other hand is out to arrest the cartel head because he’s an FBI agent (not a cop).

There’s an over reliance on some very blatant CG this time around for a lot of the cars and racing to the point it almost looks like a later-season Initial D sequence at times but it really didn’t damage the movie aside making those parts a little less cool.

I liked it, and having Vin Diesel back definitely raised the quality. Paul Walker who I really think is great at being Paul Walker, well was (RIP, really it’s pretty sad he’s great in these films and seems like he was a cool dude), does it again this time around and manages to be a much more believable human being instead of the near turbo-autism of the driver in Drive without the stoicism. Though I almost liked him in 2 better because he was such a fucking california dude bruh the whole time and it was hilarious.

Kill the Irishman (2011)

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Despite being just over an hour and a half, this movie feels at least 2 and a half hours. It goes on way too long but overall it’s alright. There’s some good authenticity to the way it was shot, the set designs, the clothing and actor choices, and even to the actual events that took place being surprisingly close to reality – at times even using real actual old news footage (sometimes fake old, but most of it real).

Two things kept it from being better than just alright to me – a very big fan of organized crime in real life and in fiction.

The first was the casting, sure a lot of them were well chosen, but the two “bosses” were probably the biggest exceptions to that. It’s not that they’re bad actors or did a bad job in their roles, it’s just that they didn’t have enough presence for what they were and were absolutely not intimidating at all so for me they carried no respect. To make it worse, they put them alongside long time mobster actors like Robert Davi, Steve Schirripa, and Mike Starr. You can’t just put a guy who looks like a knockoff Columbo and the fat fuck who kills himself in the first half of Full Metal Jacket as their bosses and expect me to buy it. It also features the current ROTUND version of Val Kilmer as well as Walken (not fat form, he’s never had one) – but while I say features I just mean in the promotional stuff and the way it’s shown on Netflix. The total time either one is in the film COMBINED adds up to maybe 10 minutes. More marketing bullshit.

The second thing about this that I didn’t like was, real or not, the idea that a fucking Irish guy could truly take on the mafia. I’m sorry, this is Cleveland – it was never a big mob spot it was always an afterthought far removed from about 15 other fucking places that were actually focused on. It had the lowest of the low leading even lower people, as far as the mob was concerned it was a shithole that had nothing of merit and was treated like a backwater. So portraying this as some BADASS Irish guy just felt silly, even reading up on the real history it feels stupid how glorified this guy is just because he survived some assassination attempts by petty criminals who wanted the underworld bounty. I don’t have a problem with the Irish at all, not even a tiny bit, but don’t pretend that the Irish GANGS could ever hold a candle to the fucking Cosa Nostra. At the very least that kind of ends up being the point – he fucked with the Gambino family and he got killed for it just like in real life. He could handle the third-rate gangsters in town, but once the ACTUAL mafia, not their “yeah sure whatever go run some shit in your shithole I don’t care” level nobodies, got involved? He was fucked.

And sort of a small third – everything with the directing felt very by the books and just like it was copying every mobster film it could while also just not being nearly as good as them because it was trying to mimic them without the talent to actually do it properly. Beyond that, the director felt it necessary to constantly blare generic Irish music over everything to remind you it’s about an Irish guy. BAGPIPES! IT’S ABOUT AN IRISH GUY!

This was a fine generic crime film, but nothing more than that, and the fact it’s about some real-world wannabe-mobster who got played up in the news purely because he blew things up more often than the mafia did in the area made it suffer a bit as well.

Fast Five (2011)

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Yup, we’re back to more Fast and Furious – this time comes the introduction of The Rock to the series and boy did it ever work out as well as working out does for The Rock. Fast Five is absolutely the BEST movie in the series up to this point, and unlike 4 this will very likely remain the best because it’s genuinely one of the most fantastic over the top dumb-fun action flicks out there. As great as it would be even without context, I have to say you SHOULD NOT watch this without seeing the first 4 because it completely utilizes everything that’s been built up to this point. You wouldn’t expect it but the characters and situations they’ve been in really do matter and make the experience far better coming in knowing those things.

This is the culmination of everything that the franchise set up in the last 4 films and more importantly it gets the tone absolutely perfect and it knows what it is. In-jokes and references aplenty, badass over the top fucking dumb car chases, and this time the action itself goes above and beyond anything you’d expect with things like driving a giant vault tied to two cars through streets while 80 fucking cops chase them, Paul Walker mowing people down with an assault rifle, and The Rock and Vin Diesel beating the shit out of each other – which apparently they want to do in real life too.

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Really seriously fantastic, and yes, yet again I watched with Film & 40s. Luckily the guys were extra fun this time because it made an already really great watch even more enjoyable instead of taking away from it or getting in the way.

At this point in the franchise I can say for sure, Fast & Furious is something I absolutely recommend. It’s not about cars, you don’t need to like cars, don’t get that misconception in your head that it’s for gearheads who watch Top Gear all day. Tokyo Drift kind of is because it’s basically Initial D fanfiction, but aside that the actual main story titles don’t care about the cars really. You just need to enjoy over the top cool shit like car chases, fist fights, shootouts at this point, the overall theme of family above all else, and you need to fully accept the fucking wild ride that this series is every step of the way even at it’s most hilariously stupid moments. That’s not to say it’s “so bad it’s good” – this is a genuinely, unironically, a super fun and cool series that’s extremely enjoyable.

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Unlike 4, almost everything in this was practical effects again and it paid off with some great scenes that would be really fucking stupid if they just used a computer to do it.

Battlefield Earth (2000)

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I don’t think I’ve ever gotten motion sick from a normal movie but director Roger Christian, otherwise known by the name “Literally who?”, has managed to achieve one of the most brain twisting pieces of cinematography ever conceived. Every single camera is at a dutch angle and it cuts between shots without any warning and it’s just 2 hours of your eyes and that fluid in your ears that balances you being completely fucking confused by what is going on.

I don’t think there are more than maybe 20 of the tens of thousands of camera shots used in this that are actually properly level, instead it’s an onslaught of everything at all times being at LEAST 20 degrees off, and usually MUCH MORE THAN THAT. Beyond just always being canted for absolutely no reason, the camera is always way too fucking zoomed in and it results in just insanely awkward things constantly. Everyone is not only completely sideways, but when they do something as simple or basic as a handshake you see nothing because neither of their arms or shoulders is even in the shot – you just have to assume that’s what happened because, well, I dunno it probably did and there was a slapping type of sound so it was that or they’re ‘swordfighting’.

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EVERYTHING

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IS

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FUCKING

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SIDEWAYS

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I’m not cherrypicking, you’d have to BE cherrypicking to find scenes that are NOT at an angle.

Mr. Literally doesn’t stop there though, he manages to make Jon Travolta – someone who was one of the most famous actors for practically two decades – be the absolute worst actor in the entire thing. I thought at first maybe it was on purpose because of being an alien, but then every other alien talks like you’d expect and Forest Whitaker even forces himself to sound more gruff to come off as less human. Travolta seems like he is purposefully and actively doing a parody of himself in this role the entire time he’s in the role.

Beyond all the bad, which is basically the entire movie, there are bits – tiny things, sometimes 30 seconds or so, other times literally 1 line – of humor that actually work. It makes it even more confusing of a film. It’s so strange because those moments of self awareness and clarity pop up only to end immediately after they do.

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This is not one of those moments, it’s just a screenshot I wanted to include. KERBANGO!

Does it live up to the status of being the absolute worst movie ever created? Well, it’s definitely ONE OF the worst ever made but I don’t know if it’s THE worst – top 20 or so for sure. If you include indie shit that becomes a lot less true, this movie stands miles above most indie movies – a sad reality. However this is ABSOLUTELY the worst DIRECTED film of all time.

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I can’t let this little mini-review end without mentioning the director is – much like Vengeance in my first part of film reviews from 2018 – someone related to movies but not as a director or writer or actor and who was VERY WRONGFULLY given the reigns to direct something. He’s a set decorator. He’s worked on some classics including the original Star Wars…and yet he delivers much like that stuntman “director” something that is not only complete shit but also fails in the areas he should be good at. That film had no action. This film has horrible sets and hilarious costumes and props.

The ending also has a guy who decides to be friendly with the species that just blew up his entire planet and genocided the entirety of his people because fuck Travolta.

That all being said, this is definitely the PINNACLE of so-bad-it’s-good and is very fun to watch. I can absolutely see myself coming back to it some day.

Heat (1995)

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Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, and Val Kilmer feature in what is pretty widely accepted as one of the best movies ever made. I say those 3 because those are who everyone noticed on the cover – however the movie itself has almost every speaking role, even people who are there for a few moments or side characters who are around kind of often, being portrayed by people who were either very famous already or became very famous soon after. Hell, it’s even got President Palmer AND District Director Mason from 24 – the latter who is in the movie for about 30 seconds, Natalie Portman when she was a teen, Danny Trejo because he’s in everything, my dude Tom Sizemore, and like 30 “I know that guy but don’t know his name” actors who you should be familiar with. Point is this has an absolutely, maybe not at the time for some, star studded cast. Also don’t mix this up with The Heat please, that’s a different movie with zero relation to this and seems like it’s probably complete fucking shit aside that.

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Heat is absolutely one of those movies you’d post in a /tv/ thread about “movies women will never understand”, especially the ending. While many assume Heat is an action flick, there’s almost no action at all – the few times it comes up it’s incredibly intense and has you on the edge of your seat, but those moments are made more meaningful by not being often. Really there’s only one “action scene”, everything else – the majority of the near 3 hours that the movie is in total – is thrill, suspense, and development of these characters.

It’s masculine, but it’s not because of blowing shit up or shooting things, but it’s a surprisingly personal story mostly about the two lead men – who they are, what they are, and the bond that grows between a big time thief and a homicide detective who is after him. The ending of the film perfectly handles this in a way that, had it been even slightly different, just would not have been as good. This is a movie about the people in it, not about the guns or the big exciting moments – both are equally really well done, but the former always comes first and foremost.

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It’s worth mentioning too that pretty much all the action or suspense-with-guns-involved parts have no music and are just ambiance. This might also be the very best shootout/bank robbery scene ever on it’s own. It goes for awhile and it’s just a crazy shootout down the streets of downtown LA. It gave me a similar feeling to when I was a kid, watching the probably most famous real life bank robbery ever which was also out here – the North Hollywood Shootout which was both not as and WAY MORE intense, though it happened after this movie had already come out so it’s not related at all.

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It’s long, but it’s ABSOLUTELY worth it. The only thing I might have changed is…let’s be honest, I love Al Pacino and all (was for a long time one of my top 3 favorite actors even) but boy does he always come off as an insane person. People make fun of Cage but listen to almost any single sentence of any of Pacino’s lines in any of his roles in his entire career – he talks like a coke-fiend no matter what. He’s claimed that his character was supposed to be snorting lines and it just “isn’t shown”…but he’s this same way in EVERY MOVIE he’s ever been in. Yelling randomly in almost every single sentence at least one word, repeating words or lines for no reason, voice undulating with no explanation, eyes bugging out intensely with no cause. The dude is a fucking freak and having him in an otherwise so fantastically acted movie just makes his awful quirks stand out even more. He’s still very good in it, but he gets out-acted by absolutely everyone else.

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It also makes it hard to see him as his character at times instead of just Al Pacino. Hilariously enough Danny Trejo literally plays a character with no given first name and his last name is Trejo, so he’s only referred to as Trejo…so he’s probably just Danny Trejo.

Now, does the movie stand up to the hype? Is it really “one of the best films ever made”? I’m gonna go with…absolutely – every moment of this movie had me intensely engaged and immersed in it no matter what was happening or who was on screen, something very few films truly manage. Acting, directing, writing, cinematography – all fucking fantastic. This is a classic for a reason and to understand that reason you need to sit down for that near 3 hour stretch and see it for yourself. It’s worth it, so do it.

Vampire’s Kiss (1988)

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Everything I wanted it to be and more. We’ve been over how much I love Cage’s acting abilities especially when he’s allowed freedom…and this is Cage at HIS ABSOLUTE MOST FREE and it’s the best. This is the most Cage thing out there without a single fucking doubt, this is genuinely fucking art – it’s IMPORTANT. This is an important movie because it’s the most defining presentation of a person I’ve ever seen. This movie is Nicolas Cage playing Nicolas Cage in the most literal non jokey non ironic way, it’s just a real actor who absolutely loves his career showing that passion in the most insane fucking weird ass retarded-but-fantastic way possible. That’s what this movie is to me.

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It’s hilarious (on purpose) and fucking stupid (on purpose) but Nicolas Cage really just makes this go from an already weird movie – one where the director himself in the commentary literally says “I have no idea what this movie is” and about various things you might think are meaningful in some way like the mimes in front of Cage’s place “They don’t mean anything I don’t even know why I had them there” – to something that is incomparable to fucking anything else.

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To make it better, due to not being a union film and having an unbelievably low budget, the scenes shot in public are exactly that. The people Cage interacts with or those walking by while he’s being crazy? All real people who had no idea it was a movie – hell, they even purposefully used long lenses to record from a great distance away so nobody would realize he wasn’t just someone out there. This was pre-Giuliani’s gentrification and the exodus of, let’s say “genetically proven to be more likely to commit violent crime” people – so a crazy man yelling to himself while covered in blood was something nobody cared about. It makes the movie all that more interesting and fun.

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Unironically a good Lynch-level-of-fucking-strange movie that is all the more insane thanks to the perfect casting. DEFINITELY recommend. Cage has said this is his favorite role he’s ever done and it really is extremely apparent why from the moment you start this kinography.

This was another movie I watched alongside Film & 40s.

Legend (2015)

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This was actually pretty good – I went in blind aside knowing it featured Tom Hardy as one of the two co-leads alongside Tom Hardy as the other co-lead. Turns out it’s a story of two apparently real-world twin brothers who were very famous gangsters in the 60s – very specifically just within one small area of London. The staff in the behind the scenes extra all were saying how these guys were THE MOST FAMOUS GANGSTERS IN HISTORY but no. I’ve followed organized crime since I was a child and never once has their name come up or even be alluded to. These are wannabe mobsters living in the UK where there’s not even any police force worth a damn to stop them – and the only rivals are similarly tea-sipping ol’ chaps with pea shooters. They weren’t even famous in the whole of the UK, they were famous in the east end of London only, I even read up on them and they were always nobodies aside from specifically there aside from fiction and documentaries about them being aired in other areas of the UK later on making them “known”.

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This movie is hard to get images off google for because Legend comes up with a billion things no matter if you say movie, 2015, tom hardy, or anything else with it!

Anyway, that’s aside the point. The movie is alright and for only being 90 minutes it feels longer (in a positive way) and is able to get across a full story. It’s not accurate overall (most of it isn’t, and they also just completely cut out the fact these twins had two other siblings also involved in their criminal enterprise) but the bigger moments are pretty close if not identical at times.

The story is fine but fairly basic (just replace the identical twin with any other sidekick in gangster flicks that is overly aggressive and not business minded who works with someone who is the opposite and ends up ruining shit for him), the characters are good, the pacing is good. However, the one thing that stands out is how well they did with the twins.

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For one, they did great camera and editing trickery throughout – but that’s not really that hard. What’s great about it is how fantastically Tom Hardy pulls off both of the brothers and most importantly makes them believable as separate human beings with nothing but personality and voice changes, acting talent, and a slight bit of make-up. It’s not like you can’t tell it’s him, it’d be weird if you couldn’t as they’re supposed to be identical twins, it’s just that while watching the movie you stop really thinking about that fact because he makes them come across as such different entities and also somehow manages to make a genuine bond come across when acting alongside NOBODY most of the time and a stand in who wasn’t saying anything (they played his own audio back to him so he could react more believably to how he delivered the lines as his ‘brother’).

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Real twins (the ones that aren’t Tom Hardy).

Plus he had to do basically twice the work as you would in normal movies and had to ‘become’ two people who the camera was very focused on at all times – and he managed to even change up small details like how expressive they were or how they walked. He was able to be believable as the suave business-minded brother one day on-set and then become the mentally ill much more threatening gay and strange one the next day with ease – and in both cases able to make them feel like they had a real bond, chemistry, and brotherly affection for each other. The movie would probably not break past “alright” if not for him, but he made it worth the time. It’s worth mentioning that it does sometimes get hard to take the retarded one seriously though because Hardy delivers a few of his lines just like he did for Bane and it is hilarious.

Skiptrace (2016)

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I had never heard of this but it was on Netflix and I love both Jackie Chan and Johnny Knoxville, so I decided to give it a shot especially with how long it’s been since I’ve seen Jackie Chan in anything. Skiptrace is exactly what you expect from these two, especially Jackie Chan. It’s a lighthearted comedic-action film with a lot of slapstick and over the top martial arts battles with a moral tale and perfect happy ending, and it totally works. I had a lot of fun watching this and these two make a great pair given they both are very wacky complete madmen obsessed with doing their own stunts and just having fun, and that chemistry works into their acting and builds a quick chemistry between them on-screen.

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It doesn’t do anything new but it’s definitely a very fun “one of those”, it’s very much a typical “straight-laced cop and his complete opposite are paired up to take down the bad guy” set-up and like I said, these two work real well together. In this case Knoxville is basically a conman and through that he’s got the Russian mob after him (sort of as a jokey sub-plot) and he ends up seeing someone be murdered in the VIP area of a Hong Kong casino thanks to a keycard he stole from Jackie Chan’s goddaughter. It just so happens the guy who did the killing is also who Jackie Chan is after because he killed his partner, though nobody around him believes him because this guy is a celebrated and famous man so of COURSE he could never do anything bad! The bad guys want Knoxville so they can kill the only witness to the crime, they know he used Chan’s goddaughter’s card to get in, and so they take her hostage and make Chan hunt down Knoxville with a small time limit and that’s how it ends up turning into a wacky adventure from Russia all the way through Mongolia and back to Hong Kong to face off with the bad guys while building up a camaraderie along the way even though Chan starts off hating Knoxville for getting his goddaughter in danger.

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It’s just simple fun. The drama is simple, the characters are simple, but it’s all done well so none of it feels lazy or cheap – it really does come off like almost every Jackie Chan movie does in how easy it is to just enjoy. If you want something like that it’s worth checking out. Just be prepared to see a visibly older Jackie Chan, you forget about it after awhile but at first you’re reminded of his age once you see him and it’s sad to think that he’ll be gone from acting soon, though with his health he’ll probably be alive for a long while more at least.

Drive Angry (2011)

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I’m not sure why but everyone has jumped on the bandwagon that, clearly, I began as I am such an important and influential person and after my original Cage marathon I began last year suddenly every fucking website, youtuber, and tv station has decided to follow my idea. With that comes the closure of the best of those absolutely certainly for sure copycats – the final Film & 40s of a Cage movie with Drive Angry. Another one I’ve somehow never gotten around to.

Drive Angry starts out with Nicolas Cage very literally breaking out of actual Hell in a muscle car. This sets the tone for the rest of the film perfectly.

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Surprisingly as great as Cage is, William Fichtner is probably the best thing about this movie as “The Accountant” (death/charon/etc). There’s even a point where he rams through a bunch of cop cars in a truck, making them explode inexplicably (even for movies it goes comically overboard like hitting some of them on the bumper making them blow up), getting one stuck on the side of the truck…and then drifting both, getting out mid-drift from the truck onto the hood of the stuck cop car, and posing as if nothing strange or crazy is going on on top of it as it comes to an eventual stop. I mean this might genuinely be one of my favorite scenes in anything fucking ever even with the hilariously bad CG because IT’S JUST FUCKING GREAT.

This is probably my favorite of the Cage movies I’ve seen this year so far and maybe one of my favorites of his in general – again, Cage is great in it but the pair of him and Fichtner is fucking perfect. I hope these guys get together again or have in the past because it was just the best casting possible and it’s the only time I’ve ever seen Cage out-performed in anything he’s starred in and FOR ONCE ACTING ALONGSIDE A BUNCH OF PEOPLE WHO CAN ACT. Fichtner in interviews even lists working on this movie as his favorite experience of all time – and that really shows, you can tell the whole time he’s enjoying the fuck out of it and it makes his character and the movie so much better for it. Actors having fun in a movie that is meant to be fun makes it that much more fun for the end viewer.

I feel like this movie gets misunderstood a lot as some “so bad it’s good” or just plain shitty movie, and I don’t understand at all how it’s possible for people to misread this film so badly. This is PURPOSEFULLY an action-comedy aimed at being a fun stupid thing. That isn’t me guessing, that’s literally the entire fucking point of the movie – to BE stupid and silly while also filled with cool shit happening and it delivers perfectly. I really enjoyed this.


I know I’ve ended up mostly talking about games and films lately, but it’s hard for me to keep up with anime lately for the same reason it has been this entire past year. Hopefully that’ll get fixed with surgery and I’ll be back to needing to spew my opinion on cartoons again and actually being up-to-date instead of always an episode or two behind, plus finding time to watch completed stuff I never got around to like I love to do but haven’t in ages.

I’m gonna keep doing these little film posts because I’m enjoying writing them and am sort of happy with this newfound interest in films I didn’t know I had. I’ve seen more movies now than I usually do over several years, and we’re only nearing halfway through 2018. Hopefully these are fun to read too.

Part 3 is HERE.

Also, I rewatched Face/Off and it’s still fucking fantastic.

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7 responses to “Mini-Reviews of Movies I Watched In 2018 – Part 2

  1. Pingback: MINI-REVIEWS OF MOVIES I WATCHED IN 2018 – PART 3 |·

    • I dunno, the only ones that really have a lot of shooting in them are Fast & Furious 5 and I guess Drive Angry. The rest might have guns but they aren’t very actiony. Heat only has like 2 scenes with any shooting happening, Legend only has a gun fired once I think at the very end, Skiptrace basically has no guns because the whole point is Jackie Chan’s martial arts, Vampire’s Kiss has no guns, Kerbango barely has any shooting of alien guns at human-animals, Kill the Irishman has a lot of explosions but I don’t even remember a single gun but I’m sure someone got shot at some point probably, and the rest of F&F is action but not really violent in the way of shooting.

      Like

  2. Pingback: Mini-Reviews of Movies I Watched In 2018 – Part 1 |·

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