REVIEW: Ambulance (2022)

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II and Jake Gyllenhaal in AMBULANCE — PHOTO: Andrew Cooper / Universal Pictures.

Directed by Michael Bay — Screenplay by Chris Fedak.

At this point, I’m starting to get used to the idea of seeing Jake Gyllenhaal in American remakes of Danish films. In 2009, he appeared in Jim Sheridan’s Brothers, a remake of Susanne Bier’s Brødre. In 2021, he appeared in Antoine Fuqua’s The Guilty, a remake of Gustav Möller’s Den Skyldige. And now, in 2022, he stars in Michael Bay’s Ambulance, a remake of Laurits Munch-Petersen’s Ambulancen. I don’t know what it is that draws him to Danish projects. What I do know is that I think Bay’s remake might be an improvement on the Danish film.

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REVIEW: Prey (2022)

Amber Midthunder plays a young Comanche warrior who goes up against a fearsome, trophy-hunting Predator in Dan Trachtenberg’s PREY — PHOTO: Disney+ / 20th Century Studios.

Directed by Dan Trachtenberg (10 Cloverfield Lane) — Screenplay by Patrick Aison — Story by Patrick Aison & Dan Trachtenberg.

When I was a kid, my father would often want to watch the Alien and Predator films with me. Truth be told, I was probably a little bit too young to watch them when I did, but I didn’t mind and they never gave me nightmares. Instead, for me those films helped to create a love for sci-fi action and sci-fi horror, and I really love watching them over and over again, even though not all of the films are great. As a kid, I vividly remember that, to me, mindblowing moment when an easter egg in Predator 2 revealed a connection between those two franchises.

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REVIEW: The Gray Man (2022)

Ryan Gosling is Sierra Six in the Russo brothers’ THE GRAY MAN — PHOTO: Stanislav Honzik / Netflix.

Directed by Anthony and Joe Russo (Avengers: Endgame) — Screenplay by Joe Russo, Christopher Markus, and Stephen McFeely (Avengers: Infinity War).

Over the years, Netflix has struggled to create a true film franchise. Films like Bright, Extraction, The Old Guard, and Red Notice have been their first attempts to really kickstart a film franchise. Their latest attempt, The Gray Man, is an adaptation of the Mark Greaney novel of the same name. The $200 million-budgeted film is directed by the Russo brothers (of Avengers and Community fame), has a $200 million budget, and features a star-studded cast. Netflix is trying, again and again, to get a real franchise off the ground, and this very well could be it, even though it, admittedly, struggles to set itself apart from other films like it.

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REVIEW: Top Gun: Maverick (2022)

Tom Cruise as Pete ‘Maverick’ Mitchell in Joseph Kosinski’s TOP GUN: MAVERICK — Photo: Skydance Media / Paramount Pictures.

Directed by Joseph Kosinski — Screenplay by Ehren Kruger, Eric Warren Singer, and Christopher McQuarrie.

If there is one thing that the release of Top Gun: Maverick has already proven, it is that Tom Cruise is still a real movie star capable of drawing a crowd even in the Post-COVID lockdown world. Although the 1986 original Tony Scott film, Top Gun, did leave a cultural imprint and is an iconic 1980s film, it isn’t like most people have been crying out for a sequel to the original film that, way back when, received mixed reviews. And yet, when I saw its sequel, people of all ages — including several people over the age of fifty — had such a need for speed that they had flocked to the theater to watch Tom Cruise as “Maverick” take another ride into the danger zone. I’m happy to tell you that — yes, it’s true — Top Gun: Maverick is every bit as awesome as you may have hoped. In fact, I think it’s a much better film than the 1980s classic.

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REVIEW: Chaos Walking (2021)

Daisy Ridley as Viola and Tom Holland as Todd Hewitt in Doug Liman’s CHAOS WALKING — Photo: Lionsgate.

Directed by Doug Liman — Screenplay by Patrick Ness & Christopher Ford.

On paper, this should be a huge hit. It’s a science-fiction action film starring Tom Holland of Spider-Man fame and Daisy Ridley of Star Wars fame, they are surrounded by a more than capable cast including the incredible Mads Mikkelsen (Another Round), and the film was directed by Edge of Tomorrow‘s Doug Liman. And yet this is a film that has been through quite a lot of behind-the-scenes work. It has gone through several rounds of rewrites and expensive reshoots, and it, reportedly, was the victim of poor reception at test screenings. After having had its release delayed several times, Chaos Walking is now here, but while it has all the ingredients of a film made for me, it just doesn’t work as a complete package.

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REVIEW: The Suicide Squad (2021)

David Dastmalchian, John Cena, Idris Elba, and Daniela Mechior in THE SUICIDE SQUAD — Photo: Jessica Miglio / Warner Bros.

Directed by James Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy) — Screenplay by James Gunn.

Over the years, I have certainly not tried to hide the fact that I think 2016’s Suicide Squad, which was directed by David Ayer (though he has repeatedly made it clear that the film was essentially taken away from him as a result of studio interference), is, to put it mildly, one of my least favorite films ever made in the superhero genre. That 2016 film certainly reeked of studio interference, it was an almost incoherent mess, it was needlessly grimy and at times quite ugly, it used a decent soundtrack as a crutch and in a way that became incredibly tiring, all the while failing to get you to care about the characters or the relationships they were building. There were some decent things about it, but, on the whole, it felt like someone had tried to turn Ayer’s vision into a shameless imitation of James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy, and that just didn’t work for the film that Ayer had envisioned.

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REVIEW: Gunpowder Milkshake (2021)

Karen Gillan as Sam in ‘Gunpowder Milkshake.’ Photo: Reiner Bajo / Netflix / StudioCanal.

Directed by Navot Papushado — Screenplay by Navot Papushado & Ehud Lavski.

While the Chad Stahelski and David Leitch’s John Wick from 2014 was a fantastic and emotionally involving revenge action film, I didn’t initially like the idea of making it a franchise. Eventually, though, I warmed to the idea and grew to really appreciate the Keanu Reeves-led stylized action franchise, and I became invested in the films’ epic underworld which was surprisingly complex. With the success of Stahelski and Leitch’s action franchise, similar films were produced to varying results. Unfortunately, in spite of its impressive cast, Navot Papushado’s Gunpowder Mikshake feels more like an imitation of Stahelski and Leitch’s impressive world-building than a successful original film.

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REVIEW: The Tomorrow War (2021)

Still image — Chris Pratt in ‘THE TOMORROW WAR’ — Available now on Amazon Prime Video.

Directed by Chris McKay (The LEGO Batman Movie) — Screenplay Zach Dean.

Several years ago, there was a time when me and my father would watch and rewatch science-fiction films so much so that we knew the dialogue by heart. I can’t possibly tell you the amount of times that I’ve seen, for example, Stargate, which I have a lot of love for. When I was a kid, my father would always steer me towards horror or science-fiction films, and therefore it was a great joy for me to be able to watch this film with my father. Although I had some problems with the film, I genuinely had a lot of fun with it, and I know that if I were still a kid today, then he and I would watch The Tomorrow War over and over again.

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REVIEW: Shorta (2020)

“Shorta,” Still Image — Photo: Tine Harden / Jacob Møller / Scanbox.

Directed by Anders Ølholm & Frederik Louis Hviid — Screenplay by Anders Ølholm & Frederik Louis Hviid.

Shorta (which is apparently an Arabic word for ‘police’) is a Danish action-thriller about the so-called blue wall of silence, i.e. a tendency for police officers to withhold information and not report on their colleagues’ misconduct. The film follows two police officers — Jens (played by Simon Sears) and Mike (played by Jacob Lohmann) — who are on patrol. In the film, law enforcement has been asked not to go into the fictionalized ghetto ‘Svalegården’ since the last significant encounter between police officers and the inhabitants of Svalegården led to officers kneeling on the back of the neck of a young man, Talib Ben Hassi, who is, at the beginning of the film, in a coma. Continue reading “REVIEW: Shorta (2020)”

REVIEW: Outside the Wire (2021)

Outside the Wire Image
‘Outside the Wire,’ — Photo: Jonathan Prime / Netflix.

Directed by Mikael Håfström — Screenplay by Rob Yescombe & Rowan Athale.

In 2020, Netflix found some success by placing a Marvel star in a fast-paced action movie with a somewhat forgettable plot with the Chris Hemsworth-led Extraction, which I liked. Now, in 2021, Netflix is hoping that they can do the same thing again with Outside the Wire, a science fiction action film starring Anthony Mackie, from the director of the John Cusack-led 1408, which I actually also like quite a bit. Unfortunately, Outside the Wire is nowhere near as effective of an action film as Extraction was, and they forgot to make it as fast-paced as the aforementioned film. Instead, we’re left with a serviceable but incredibly forgettable and generic science fiction flick. Continue reading “REVIEW: Outside the Wire (2021)”