Category Archives: Thriller-Crime

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (Crime-Thriller-Action)

Dame“A crisp storyboard aesthetic with a dull and nonchalant ignoramus calling the shots”

Three separate tales all set in the same vicinity; which is that of Sin City. An urban cesspool of degenerates, crooked politicians, and those seeking justice from their those who wronged them fill up this dark place. Meet a gambler who has lady luck on his side until he gets a bit cocky and out plays the corrupt senator with the law in his pocket. Encounter a hired blackmailer and the battle against his kryptonite, which is in the form of a conniving seductress coaxing every man she meets. Last but not least a new chapter is opened in Nancy’s story, a dancer whose savior was killed and now she is seeking revenge on the most powerful man in the city.

Though on paper these stories look as absorbing as the first, this sequels fresh concept was diluted over the decade of its absence. The drawback lies mainly within the stock dialogue and overemphasized character arcs, making the whole experience seem adolescent. When a viewer is captivated with the cameos more than the featured cast, poor writing is usually to blame. This consequently disconnects the audience from the plot points altogether, but on the contrary left due attention to the visually enticing collage of violence and erotic prowess.

The graphical nature and overall ambiance of the film gave an idea where the budget dollars were spent. As anticipated for a graphic novel film, static set design along with lighting and deep contrasts fashioned a sharp pane-like exhibit which back-dropped the mood of every scene.  If the viewer is able to look past the obvious faults and be hypnotized by the plethora of artistically intoxicating effects and hidden ques, they won’t finish the film looking for a dame to kill.

Snowpiercer (Sci-Fi-Action-Thriller)

Snowpier“Social status has a predetermined position and must not be disturbed”

A gifted man by the name of Wilford built a train that travels around the world in 365 days, coincidentally completed during a time of great environmental change. Once an ice age eventually freezes the world over and everyone on the planet is destined to become popsicles, 1,000 lucky survivors were given the opportunity to become the only living civilization left on earth by boarding this locomotive. Having the train cars split into societal classes, a hard 17 years of predestined ranks in the rear brought forth a revolution to disrupt the social order.

Aside from the premise of the actual rebellion and bloodshed, there are also back-stories explained and other mysteries unraveled at every steel-encased venue.  Accompanying the development of the story with every open door, the overall tone became more vibrant and elegant entering each upgraded compartment. This framework took a very unconventional and enlightening turn when they reached the front, obscuring the lines distinguishing the rich and poor.

Taking this very centralized idea revolving around the caste system, a stage was set to proclaim that even after the gift of life a certain level of decency is merited. Over the span of human existence, uprising have taken place revolving around this same situation and many can sympathize and admire this spirited underdog story. Unfortunately, this awareness of discrimination became a bit too overindulged and preachy to the point of ignorance. The main character began to become so consumed with the hatred that good judgment, a clear vision, and common courtesy left him all together. Most audiences will begin to understand the reason the adults don’t invite the children to the grownup table, and in hindsight this revelation made a slight mockery of the entire revolts backbone.

Sabotage (Crime-Drama-Action)

sab“An action film confusingly and abruptly turned crime melodrama”

The action begins with a DEA legend (Arnold Schwarzenegger) leading his team through a raid with the intentions to skim a bit off the top, hide the cash in the sewers, and burn the rest. Tragically when they go to retrieve their informal hazard pay, they notice that someone has taken it. If matters couldn’t get worse in the coming days the FBI somehow manages to count the cash that was blown to bits and notice that some of it is missing, which bring forth an investigation. After being acquitted six months later for lack of evidence, the team is brought back together. After reuniting and shaking out the cobwebs through some weapons training, the members start getting picked off one by one in the night. Could it be the angry cartels, the sour FBI, or someone with a grudge on the inside?

The pace of the film starts off with high intensity action, humorously close camaraderie, and tough bottom of the barrel special ops team. Unfortunately after the first act the action became limited and tediously overindulged layers of delinquency went full force, creating multiple subplots to the point of bewilderment. Within this genre the masses aren’t expecting a best screenplay nomination, but at minimum a plot that is competent, consistent, or at least dangerously explosive to the point of shell shock.

Audiences also aren’t lining up to see a film with a depressed Arnold Schwarzenegger mope around and attempt to flex his saggy acting muscles for a full-length film. Not to mention, the one-dimensional co-stars that made it seem as though they weren’t given a script and asked to just adlib with expletives. Take away the special operations equipment, a couple gunfights, and hard bodies and you are left with first year ROTC cadets synching on each others menstrual cycle, and no one wants to be around for that.

 

 

The Believer (Drama-Crime)

indesdsx“Incomprehensible ancient literature may be a short wick to rebellion for the intelligent and stubborn youth”

Danny Balint (Ryan Gosling) is a fierce and articulate man with the mission to rid the world of the Jewish epidemic plaguing the culture. Everything about this race of people fills him with rage, their irrational convictions, rituals, and even their “sexual habits” he deems regressive to the human species. After meeting with a group of fascists sharing similar ideals, Danny is on the fast track in leading his own revolution. One minor difference that sets him apart from his brethren is that the blood that runs through his veins is that of his greatest enemy.

This film sets out to illustrate a young man eagerness to prove the invalidity of the Jewish ideologies, though in reality his motivation is only to somehow justify his own self-loathing. This drive was instilled in him from adolescence, finding his rational and subjective interpretations of religious studies frustrating, especially since no one else was able to understand his near sided viewpoint.

When the time came for any honest retribution, it came off as purely manufactured due to the formula character arcs and playbook storytelling that led up to this point. Reaching far and wide for actual artistic expression fell into a cyclic over-dramatized score paired with black and white reenactments of the main protagonist morphing into the creator of decade old pain. This imaginary event clearly being the main driving factor and epiphany, shaped the sophisticated yet somehow malformed brain to understand even the slightest sympathy.  With this small angel whispering in his ear, the events leading to the third act were countless demonstration of bipolarity, yet instead of climactic thrill you were given jumbled chaos.

The Raid 2 (Foreign-Action-Crime)

index“Battles are won by conquering a single stronghold, but destroying an enemy may take diluting the integrity of the prince”

After being the sole survivor of a raid on one of the key drug-lords, Rama is approached by a high-ranking officer in an underground task force. He is asked to go undercover in prison and befriend Uco, the son of the Bangun who is the leader of the most powerful gang in the region. Once he has served his jail-time, Rama will become a debt collector for the gang as well as provide much needed intel to bring down the corruption that is polluting the streets and police force.

With an adrenaline boost from its predecessor, this sequel earned a higher budget providing the film with smoother edges to a very dark and rigid environment. The camera work never failed to impress during the fight sequences, but also became surprisingly creative in capturing the ambiance of the world through vibrant colors and mystique. Every suspenseful moment was uniquely defined using clever techniques such as introspective angles, unexpected dialogue, and an abundance of temperamental characters.

One obvious critique would be the much more involved story in essence limited the action sequences, but in no way was the storyline out of its borders or reaching for something it was not.  The plot progressed as fluid as the action that was layered between, and at no point will the audience be lead to a place without intention.

Absentia (Suspense-Horror)

absnet“There are always rational scenarios to any unfortunate mystery, as well as supernatural tales for those unwilling to let go”

Tricia is an expecting single mother whose husband went missing several years ago.  In the process of obtaining her husbands death certificate and moving out of her apartment, Tricia’s troubled sister Callie offers to stay and help as well as provide companionship.  As the stress and guilt builds, Tricia begins seeing frightening apparitions of her husband, which begin as dreams but then venture out into her reality.

This mindfully crafted indie horror film goes against the grain by delivering a film that actually provides insight to possible logical explanation, instead of leaving a supernatural viewpoint as the only option.  These possibilities not only provided the viewers with a choice, but also gave credibility to the characters promoting them as more than just another idiotic horror film victim.

The elements used to provoke terror can also be seen as fairly unconventional.  The bombardment of chilling projections at unexpected moments instead of using the predictable Hollywood formula of high pitched eerie music, false alarm, pop out, brought a new level of suspense that was suffocating.  This technique was absolutely terrifying since the audience is left with no fair warning of the next scare.

Half way through the film the subject matter and tone changes dramatically, which some will find amusing while others slightly annoyed.  Nevertheless, the unrelenting fear inducing elements keeps a consistent pace which will make most heart beating humans skin crawl.

Under the Skin (Sci-Fi-Thiller)

index“Once tempted by the flesh, all men will lose their inner being to a dark and unrelenting abyss”

After changing into the clothes of a young lifeless woman found in a ditch on the side of the road, a beautiful creature (Scarlett Johansson) begins driving around Scotland in a large white van. After a few minutes of consciously observing with the demeanor of a lioness on the prowl, she picks up a man on the street and begins to effortlessly flirt with him. Once she has him under her spell, she leads him to a dark and empty room with a floor that begins devouring him with each willing step into a murky pool of goo.

The search for the right man became harder as the film progressed, slightly slowing the pace of the film down along with it.  This ingeniously had a mostly positive effect on the overall tone, since it built up the anticipation and importance for the inevitable hypnotic capture to follow.

Using the vehicle of an obscure and alluring sci-fi film, the exemplification of a modern day man-eater is depicted. Within this possible interpretation, an oversimplification of the sexual nature of men is bluntly exhibited, along with the mindless behavior they adhere to within an erotic encounter.

These powerful and captivating scenes of seduction brought the anticipation to an arousing level, paired with a tantalizing score that orchestrated a sonata of desires encapsulating the mesmerized viewers without shame. One of the most powerful scenes occurs when one of these men encounter a previous victim within this liquescent chamber, only to bear witness to his eventual demise.

After this theme is explored another is introduced, involving the main protagonist and the evolution within herself. Her apparent aspiration to become more human than her restrictive mission allows, which unfortunately only brings more confusion to a climactic final scene that goes up in smoke.