You are here

Action

Hitman

dir: Xavier Gens
[img_assist|nid=732|title=Killing people is easy. Working your problems out without resorting to assassination is hard.|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=300|height=428]
It’s called Hitman. Use your imagination as to what it’s about, go on. I dare you, I double dare you.

It’s about a guy called 47 (Timothy Olyphant), bald and with a barcode on the back of his head, who travels the world at the behest of The Organisation, killing people for money. He’s very good at his job, as one would expect, since centring an action movie and a game franchise around a hitman who’s actually quite lazy and sloppy would seem to be counter-productive.

Varying from the game, 47’s origins are such that he was picked up as an orphan and trained ruthlessly by some macabre monk types before being unleashed upon the world. Orphans just cop it the worst every time, don’t they?

He is hired to take out the current Russian president, and does so, only to find that he is now a target, and that the Russian president seems to be fine despite having had his head JFKed with a high-powered sniper round.

Rating:

Resident Evil: Extinction

dir: Russell Mulcahy
[img_assist|nid=735|title=And yet I still haven't won the Nobel Peace prize|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=200|height=321]
The first flick in this franchise, based on the popular survival horror game, achieved the remarkable by not being an absolute piece of shit. The basic premise involved a poster child for genetic engineering, Alice (Milla Jovovich), squaring off against legions of zombies and the machinations of the evil Umbrella Corporation that created her.

Had a few stunts, few gory parts, the requisite rip-offs from better flicks like Aliens, plenty of references and in-jokes for the alleged gamer fans, and all in all didn’t represent a completely excruciating experience, despite being directed by Paul W.S. Anderson.

The second flick, RE: Apocalypse, achieved the unremarkable by being a complete piece of shit that made no fucking sense and defied all laws of knowledge, gravity and common decency by being an aggressively, relentlessly stupid experience for all concerned. I’m sure it made audiences dumber just with partial viewings.

This third one, Extinction, is directed by Australia’s own Russell Mulcahy. Russell Mulcahy is a hack of the first order and top rank, so imagine my non-existent surprise when this managed to find an happy medium between the mediocrity of the first film and the utter shiteness of the second.

Rating:

Kingdom, The

dir: Peter Berg
[img_assist|nid=737|title=He thinks he's so cool. Who are you to disagree?|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=300|height=300]
No, not the Danish tv series by Lars Von Triers set in a monstrous hospital, no, not the US remake with a script by shitemeister Stephen King, which was marketed as Stephen King’s The Kingdom, which compounds the unnecessariness. This The Kingdom is an attempt to be current, to show Americans what America is dealing with overseas, to make themselves feel powerful in the pants about their efforts spreading freedom and democracy in other countries, and to act as a sterling appraisal of just what the origin of the problems are that the US faces against the Dar al-Islam, or the Islamic world.

Suffice to say that if that’s an accurate summation of where the flick tries to go, it fails miserably in its intentions and in its execution.

Execution is probably a tactless word to use in this instance. The plot of the thing is as follows: an American-hating, freedom-loathing group of Islamic terrorists in Saudi Arabia orchestrates a horrific terrorist attack upon the American expat residents of an enclave compound where they all thought they’d be safe from the predations of the outside world. Many hundreds of Americans die, and the House of Saud makes solicitous sounds to the Americans working in the oil industry, but doesn’t show any willingness to pursue the perpetrators.

Rating:

Die Hard 4.0: Live Free or Die Hard

dir: Len Wiseman
[img_assist|nid=745|title=So old and sweaty|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=300|height=375]
Oh, Bruce. You are so old. But there’s no reason for you to stop acting. Still, please think about what it looks like when, in a flick where fighter jets blow up freeway overpasses in Baltimore or when a lunatic uses a police car to take out helicopter, the most unbelievable aspect of the film is the idea that you’re still capable of running around and beating people up.

Think of your fragile hips. I know I was for most of this movie’s duration. Not in an erotic way, oh no, but more in a “is he getting enough calcium in his diet?” kind of way.

Bruce Willis joins a list of other well-aged hams who are most recently, reluctantly coming to terms with their aging process. In a desperate attempt to remain relevant, in an even more desperate attempt to convince audiences that they’re still hard men, Willis joins Sylvester Stallone, Harrison Ford and Paul Hogan in reprising a character they played in some cases over twenty years ago in order to earn some beer money.

Rating:

Planet Terror

dir: Robert Rodriguez
[img_assist|nid=751|title=Ain't she sweet?|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=300|height=413]
Now this is more like it…

The essential argument I’m going to put forth here is that Planet Terror gets right what Death Proof got wrong. The great difficulty I’m going to have pushing this barrow is that I can’t really pinpoint as to why, exactly.

Not ‘why’ as in ‘why am I bothering to inflict my thoughts again on an entirely uninterested populace’ but why as in why it works. And it does.

Fully embracing the 70s trashy movie aesthetic that it aspires to, Planet Terror is a balls-out, at times hilarious celebration of the best that trash cinema used to offer. The footage is deliberately grained up, butchered and cut and with all sorts of flaws and imperfections, including fake film burns and ‘missing’ reel segments. It also has the kind of dialogue that is as ridiculous as it is entertaining.

And it has a hot stripper with a gun for a leg taking on legions of zombie enemies with head and chest bursting alacrity.

Cherry (Rose McGowan) is a go-go dancer who cries every time she dances, much to the consternation of the management. She decides to up and quit one night, which works out quite handily.

Rating:

Death Proof

dir: Quentin Tarantino
[img_assist|nid=752|title=Car go boom|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=263|height=400]
I don’t think there are insults left to fling at Quentin Tarantino. The cries of plagiarism, unoriginality, lack of individual inspiration, immature fixation on the films of his youth, awful personal hygiene; all these barbs have been passed around and thrown at him for over a decade since he came to our collective notice.

And they’ve all stuck, because they’re all true. Yet he keeps going on and on, continuing to do his thing without giving a damn…

Death Proof is the Tarantino half of what was one movie when it was initially released in the States: Grindhouse. Grindhouse itself, whilst a wonderful idea that delighted all those shlubs old enough to remember drive-ins and the sleazy c-grade double bills that used to play at them and at grungy old cinemas that were literally called grindhouses, it didn’t set the box office alight.

As such, the Weinstein Brothers, in their infinite wisdom, decided to split the two halves, the other half being the Robert Rodriguez flick Planet Terror, and released them individually outside of America. Thus, we have Death Proof now, and Planet Terror coming out in a month or so.

Rating:

Flash Point (Dao huo xian)

dir: Yip Wai Sun
[img_assist|nid=757|title=Great fighter. Crap actor|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=450|height=300]
This is superficial and pointless even for a Hong Kong action flick, but damn are the fights good.

They’re too few and far between, but at the very least you can rely on Donnie Yen to deliver the goods fight-wise.

Donnie Yen is the current superstar of Hong Kong fight!-fight!-fight! fighting. He’s in the position for two reasons that I can think of that have nothing to do with acting: every other half-able fighter has moved over to Hollywood, and no-one really wants the mantle.

It’s not because of his thespian abilities, that’s for sure. And if you were wondering if Donnie is the best, have no doubt, he’ll tell you himself. The special features on DVDs of his flicks, a term devalued purely by many of the features film producers consider to be special, will often have interviews with Donnie Yen wearing sunglasses indoors and telling the camera that he is the greatest movie fighter around. Humility doth flow from this man’s every pore, yea verily.

Yes, so he’s a monumental wanker. Thing is, though, whenever I watch him fight, I forget for those few minutes all about the sheer magnitude of his wankerishness, and I marvel at just how amazing the guy is when he’s kicking the absolute shit out of some poor shmuck.

Rating:

Bourne Ultimatum, The

dir: Paul Greengrass
[img_assist|nid=769|title=Just keep moving, just keep moving|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=300|height=375]
Jason Bourne gets the job done.

If you sent him to the supermarket, he would power through the aisles, hip-and-shouldering other customers out of the way, strategically rolling cans of kidney beans under the feet of pensioners and somersaulting over the shelves in his single-minded determination to get to the cat food before anyone can stop him. During his manic dash towards the checkout counter, he would be plotting intercept vectors and ambush choke points whilst mentally calculating the savings he’s making versus the current cost of 1400 other brands of cat food that he memorised prior to entering the store.

If anyone got in his way during his exit strategy towards the carpark, he’d kill them, probably with the cat food, even if it was in those soft foil sachets. The cat food would be unharmed and still tasty when he force-fed it to your cat using a funnel and some improvised explosives.

Rating:

Smokin' Aces

dir: Joe Carnahan
[img_assist|nid=785|title=A very stupid and pointless movie. But she does look pretty with a gun.|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=450|height=298]
Some films fill your soul and entire being with joy after you’ve watched them. Others fill you with adrenalin, disgust, dread or relief. Most leave you feeling as much or as little as you did when you walked into the theatre, but at least they distracted you for a while.

A select few movies make you feel so empty inside that you wonder why the fuck you bother anymore.

Smokin’ Aces, which sounds like a cool, hip title aimed at people who think smoking is aces, is stuffed to overflowing with actors with little of importance to do. It has a plot which is meant to be outlandish and anarchic, and whilst it succeeds in being chaotic, it has little more to justify its existence. All these actors aren’t really called upon to do much acting by a schizophrenic script that tries to be equal parts Guy Ritchie (of Lock, Stock and marrying Madonna fame) and Tarantino, and is worse than both. With too many actors and too little for them to do, it doesn’t know where its loyalties lie.

It also insults us with its pointlessness, underlined by an ending no-one could care for. It is mired in a 70s aesthetic that never convinces and never gets beyond looking like a limp parody of a parody.

Rating:

Spider-Man 3

dir: Sam Raimi
[img_assist|nid=786|title=Third trip to the law of diminishing returns well|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=270|height=400]
You know, I'm ashamed to admit this, but maybe George Lucas was right. Lucas delighted the no-talent shlubs who write the entertainment gossip columns by announcing that, in his lofty opinion, Spider-Man 3 was 'silly'. I ridiculed him for it, pointing out that the man who gave the world Ewoks, Jar Jar Binks and nancy-boy Anakin Skywalker was in no position to be telling other people their films are silly.

Thing is, though, he might be right. Just because Lucas is a shitheel doesn't mean his opinion in this instance is wrong. And just as his spite might be motivated by jealousy over the massive juggernaut that is the Spider-Man franchise, which has eclipsed his own 6 instalment
franchise in terms of box office power, he still might be right.

Spider-Man 3 is, in many bits, very silly. Whilst watching the opening battle between the Son of Green Goblin and Friendly Neighbourhood Spidey, I thought I was watching the recent Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles flick. That isn't a good frame of mind to be in when you're watching the supposed blockbuster of this or any other year and the most expensive flick ever made (til now).

Rating:

Pages

Subscribe to Action