Tag Archives: crime

Taken to Run All Night

Liam Neeson has managed to create an identity for himself as an action hero, following the hugely successful Taken, which was written and produced by Luc Besson.

The first movie was the best by far, a solid rescue/revenge thriller in which Neeson tracks his abducted daughter and wipes out a lot of bad guys. Keying off fears of being a powerless parent whose child goes missing in a foreign country, it was pretty effective.

The second movie was weaker, though the whole family get to participate in running around Istanbul, chased by Albanian gangsters.

The third movie is almost a different show, and by far the weakest, with Neeson tangling with US law enforcement. While his friends join in, it bears very little resemblance to the other movies and seems quite pointless.

Run All Night is like the grimer, alcoholic version of the Taken series, in a universe where no one respects Neeson. It’s a solid action movie, though I had whiplash from Neeson-the-respected-spy to Neeson-the-despised-hitman.

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TV Roundup Fall 2015

My favourite shows this season:

Scream Queens – I love this self-aware over-the-top caricature of the teen slasher genre. It’s satirical and parodies familiar tropes and motifs but obviously loves them too, keeping you guessing as to what’s going on, and alluding to classics of the genre. Jamie Lee Curtis is very clearly enjoying and relishing her role as the calculating, ambitious, sexually voracious Dean, and Emma Thompson captures the dichotomy of a needy girl badly treated by her moronic Preppie boyfriend, and a monstrous, Machiavellian bully with an unending stream of hilarious put-downs. There are fantastic side characters too, Denise the wacky security guard is amazing, and I love Abigail Breslin’s put-upon weak-link of the clique “Chanel Number Five”.

Supergirl – It’s probably aimed at a tween audience and has some cringey chunks of pop-feminism, but Melissa Benoist carries the show with her charm, playing an awkward character finding her way in life, professionally, personally, and in the shadow of her more famous cousin.

iZombie Season 2 – I really loved the first season, which adapted a supernatural comic book into a police procedural (which seems a completely random thing to do, other than the fact that police procedurals keep audiences), with some charming characters, a weird side of gore, some unexpectedly dark turns, and a great underlying storyline. Rose Ivers mugs a little bit for the personalities her character Live Moore (and that’s not the most on-the-nose name) takes on, but the fun she has with the role is infectious.

Gotham Season 2 – I don’t usually watch crime shows, but this mixes with police procedural and pulls in lots of colorful comic-book-like characters. The storyline is interesting – especially this season with an overarching villain, and Gordon’s character is easy to cheer for (even when he bends the rules or goes too far). The Penguin gets less screen time, though he’s still a great character.

Daredevil TV

The Daredevil TV series on Netflix was an amazing superhero drama, much smaller in scope than the big-screen Avengers pyrotechnics (though with nods to them) and more personal.

It’s a gritty, realistic take on the origin story of the blind superhero, tangling with organised crime in New York and ultimately the not-so-supervillain, the Kingpin. But the standout is how fleshed out the characters are, and not only Foggy, or their secretary Karen, but the villains as well, each with their own angle and perspective, each with their part to play in the storyline.

And the plot is great – the battle goes back and forth, through both sides investigating the other, through the media and with the law, with setbacks and triumphs.

Sin City 2

I had been waiting many, many years for Sin City 2 and it was pretty good, though I really don’t like the couple of gruesome scenes it contained. I also didn’t like what happened to Jessica Alba’s character – I suppose this story is intended to close off one of the main elements of Sin City, it must have been in a later graphic novel.

Powers Boothe was amazing as Roarke and Eva Green never lets you down as the aggressive femme fatale.

Durarara 2

If you enjoyed the original Durarara, you’ll probably enjoy this return to Ikebukuro, which follows the same style of the original: a plethora of characters on multiple fast-paced interlacing plot threads that are rapidly cut-between, featuring supernatural and superhuman feats, violence, and anonymous internet chats.

I found the show hard to follow without devoting significant mental efforts; this season concludes with a non-ending, as this series has apparently been split into 3 cours, scheduled for later this year and early 2016.

Police Story 2013 and Firestorm

I am a dozen movies behind in my reviews so here are two Hong Kong action flicks.

Police Story 2013 is about the aged policeman Jackie Chan trying to save a bunch of hostages, including his daughter. It’s a downbeat, more dramatic (sometimes brutal) movie, and it’s made clear that Jackie Chan is no longer a spring chicken – there are several scenes where he’s beaten up pretty badly. The film has several rewinds and flashbacks, when Jackie Chan thinks through what might happen or tries to link the current situation with old cases. I enjoyed it, but it’s definitely not like his carefree older flicks where the plot is secondary and the action is comical. Some of the Hong Kong attitude comes through in lighter moments with the secondary characters, who remain comedically self-interested despite the situation.

Firestorm is a spectacular Andy Lau crime movie, with all the typical Hong Kong touches – an upright cop tempted by the dark side, vicious gangsters, including a childhood friend, corruption, spectacular fights, heavily armed villains, and a finale that destroys half of downtown Hong Kong. I loved the movie, and found it satisfying on several levels: the action is amazing, the plot is twisty (though initially confusing), the protagonist struggles with moral questions, and the villains are threatening. Andy Lau can look so straight-arrow and then utterly malevolent when he wants to.

Prisoners (2013 Movie)

It’s hard to understand how to take Prisoners, or whom to identify with. This crime thriller follow the disappearance of two girls, and the efforts of one of their fathers and a detective to get them back. The father starts going too far, and soon pops up on the detective’s radar.

The characters are well-drawn and the developments in the case and the opposition between Jackman’s and Gyllenhaal’s characters kept me engaged. The ending seemed a bit too much luck-based though, and I wished the villain got more of a comeuppance.