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Bangkok Dangerous Movie Review

By on May 23, 2017

Nicolas Cage has become the Babe Ruth of Hollywood. When he’s at the plate, you can expect one of two things: a spectacular homerun (Raising Arizona, Leaving Las Vegas) or a groan-inducing strikeout (The Wicker Man, Trapped in Paradise). With Bangkok Dangerous, a remake of a 1999 Thai film, I regret to report that Mr. Cage’s batting average has dipped once again.

Cage plays a hitman named Joe who takes an assignment in Bangkok to kill four people over the course of a month. He hires a local criminal named Kong (Chakrit Yeung) to be his go-between, and his usual strategy is to kill the assistant when all jobs have been completed. Of course, he takes pity on Kong and begins to train him in the ways of a hitman. To further “humanize” Joe, the film also has him fall in love with a deaf-mute girl who works in a pharmacy.

When the last mission doesn’t go as planned, Joe must choose between loyalty and personal safety; since this is a product of Hollywood, Joe’s ultimate decision is never really in doubt. Brothers Danny and Oxide Pang direct the film, and they were the same team who brought moviegoers the 1999 Thai version. In the original, however, it was the hitman who was a deaf-mute. Sadly, we might have been better off if Cage didn’t have any speaking lines. For that matter, setting the film on an alternate Earth populated entirely by deaf-mutes would have really pepped up the production.

The dialogue is listless, the action scenes are mostly paint-by-number, and the behavior of the central character routinely defies logic. Here’s a man who lives by a strict set of rules, but he’s breaking those rules almost from the beginning of the film. While he’s been nothing but a cold-blooded assassin up until the movie begins, he’s suddenly getting all sentimental and falling in love. Maybe there’s some sort of magic in the air in Thailand.

Bangkok Dangerous isn’t really offensive; it’s just mind-numbingly dull. Nothing really stands out, and you may not even remember seeing it the next day. Mowing the yard is more exciting.

I don’t really blame the Pang Brothers, as I’m certain they were willing to make whatever concessions were necessary in order to get more work out of Los Angeles (like any of us wouldn’t do the same). No, Bangkok Dangerous has been given the full-on Hollywood treatment, and the ultimate fault is that of a system which breaks down even the most promising of films into pablum for the masses.

Nicolas Cage will recover. The Pangs will recover. But you’ll never recover the 100 minutes of your life that it takes to watch this movie.

This movie review of Bangkok Dangerous expresses the opinion of the author only. Other Bangkok Dangerous movie reviews are available online, and some of those might or might not express different opinions on the movie. Like those other Bangkok Dangerous movie reivews, this Bangkok Dangerous review is intended for the entertainment and education of the reader. This Bangkok Dangerous movie review is provided as is with no warranty or guarantee implied.

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The Last Station Movie Review

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Remember when I unabashedly admitted to being biased in favor of James McAvoy? I wasn’t lying. What that means is that, for me, The Last Station was about a man (played by McAvoy, of course) with saucer-sized blue eyes, an intriguingly crooked nose, perfect teeth, and a Scottish accent. It may have also been about the last days of Leo Tolstoy.

Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy (played here by Christopher Plummer) was the writer of such literary masterpieces as War and Peace and Anna Karenina. In his dotage, he was also a cult political figure who inspired a throng of followers headed up by Vladimir Chertkov. In this film, Chertkov (Paul Giamatti) hires a young Tolstoyan named Valentin Bulgakov (McAvoy) to serve double duty as Tolstoy’s personal secretary and to spy on the scribe’s wife, Countess Sofya (Helen Mirren).Over a lifetime, Tolstoy’s written and political work have come to support vegetarianism, passive resistance, celibacy, and the abolishment of personal property.

Those last two especially rub the Countess the wrong way. She is convinced that the sycophantic Chertkov is plotting to get her husband to sign over the rights to his body of work to the people of Russia, leaving her and her children without an inheritance. To prevent this from happening, she tries every trick in the bookincluding fainting, eyelash fluttering, chest pounding, hair pulling, cold-shoulder giving and even lustily clucking like a chickento keep her husband out of the clutches of the moustache-twirling weasel.

The naïve and virginal Bulgakov is there to witness the sometimes amusing, sometimes heartbreaking love story between Sofya and her Levushka, while discovering a first love of his own. He falls hard and fast for a free-spirited beauty named Masha (Kerry Condon), who also lives on the commune that Bulgakov calls home, after she sneaks into his room one night, bringing him tea, jam, and something a little sweatier.

Adapted by screenwriter/director Michael Hoffman from a novel of the same name by Jay Parini, The Last Station features realistic Russian countryside estates, historically accurate costumes, and non-intrusive camera work and editing. But it is the kind of esoteric, Merchant Ivory-esque period drama that depends entirely on the abilities of its cast. Thankfully, those talents are considerable and put to good, exuberant use.

Whether the writing is farcical and melodramatic (a scene that has the Countess climbing through windows in her bedclothes to eavesdrop while photographers snap photos up at her fits both bills) or downright Russian in its austere paucity, as in the final moments of the film, Mirren is masterful. Her sense of humor and sense of self are the very essence of the character. Meanwhile, Plummer’s Tolstoy is part-Gandalf, part-Dumbledore, and part Santa Claus in Miracle on 34th Street (none of whom he played. I double-checked): at once jolly, wise, old, and kind of magical. You simply can’t help but being sucked into their playful, endearing, and downright sexy chemistry.

And then there’s my McAvoy, whose knack for playing characters with a quiet sweetness nicely balances all of the older couple’s histrionics. Also, did I mention the Scottish accent?

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Severance Movie Review

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Modern horror movies don’t get much better than Severance. The problem with the genre is that too often they re mired in ultraviolent schlock on par with the Saw franchise. The memorable horror films, however, have always gone beyond the gore, blood, and guts to offer something beneath the surface. Remember the first Halloween? While it was a slasher flick, it was also suspenseful and earned the audience’s investment through the depiction of Laurie Strode as the brave heroine. Or, more recently, Drag Me To Hell?

The Sam Raimi film managed to rise above the pack due to the humor interwoven into the terror. It’s fun to see scary movies, but only if theres something other than people being mindlessly hacked to pieces (a big reason I hated The Strangers). By adding suspense or comedic elements, any horror film becomes a more interesting watch. That’s what happens in Severance.After a gory prologue that actually takes place near the climax, the film begins in a bus on a country road. On board, several corporate types are embarking on a team building exercise to be held at a lodge deep within the woods. However, a fallen tree trunk interrupts, and, after a harsh exchange with the bus driver, they are left in the middle of nowhere. The group makes their way to an empty lodge nearby and believes it’s their would-be destination. At first, everything seems normal, but soon a tooth is found in a pie and shadowy masked figures seem to be lurking just beyond the treeline. Things arent what they appear to be, after all, and the carnage springs from there.

The strength of the characters allow the soon-to-be victims to work effectively. In many modern slasher movies, we initially meet a group, but theres nothing interesting about them (Wrong Turn or Dark Ride). It’s like meeting cattle destined for the slaughterhouse, totally bereft of any real personality. However, all the characters from Severance have identifiable and humorous, relatable traits. Richard (Tim McInnerny) is the pain in the ass boss weve all had, trying to keep focused on the company and the team building exercise rather than acknowledging the real peril at hand. Gordon (Andy Nyman) is the second fiddle kiss-ass. Harris (Toby Stephens) plays the self-centered prick who doesn’t care about the company or team building, but still remains the guy youd most want on your side in a fight. Maggie (Laura Harris) and Steve (Danny Dyer) are the unlikely heroes. We meet Steve as he pops hallucinogens and orders sexy escorts to meet them at the cabin. And Maggie is the lone American of the mostly English bunch.

Directed by Christopher Smith, Severance has the necessary balance of gore, horror, and laughs. It can be quite funny at times, even when heinous things are occurring. Tonally, it’s reminiscent of another well-crafted horror-comedy favorite of mine, Cabin Fever. The pacing is terrific, with no scenes dragging on for too long, and the gory special effects will have many viewers squirming in their seats.Severance is a contemporary horror film thats perfect for watching with a large group of friends, with a loved one, or alone with a big tub of popcorn. It features a witty script, sharp direction and intriguing, unique characters. If only all horror movies were this fun. Then the genre wouldn’t have to depend so heavily on remakes or bland, lifeless gorefests.

 

 

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