Friday, May 21, 2021
Thursday, May 20, 2021
I am so obsessed with movies that I love reading about the behind-the-scenes making of movies. What ideas led to that finished product we see on the big screen in the dark. Back in 1990, Arnold Schwarzenegger starred in a science fiction action film called "Total Recall." The character Schwarzenegger was hired to play was an ordinary that essentially got himself into an extraordinary situation. The thing is, looking at Arnold, he's not an ordinary man. He was built to be an action star, so when he's playing an ordinary man doing action packed things, I don't believe he's an ordinary man. I mean, look at his physic. Its one of the reasons why "Total Recall" has never completely worked for me. Before Arnold was cast in "Total Recall," the studio making the film considered both William Hurt and, oddly enough, Richard Dreyfuss. I have to admit, a "Total Recall" featuring either of those guys would have been something special. William Hurt and Richard Dreyfuss are definitely just regular guys and seeing them throw down in action movie would have been cool.
Bob Odenkirk is an actor I have loved for many years, but he's not a guy who think of when thinking of action heroes. He's superb in things like "Breaking Bad," "Better Call Saul," "Curb Your Enthusiasm," "The Incredibles," "Fargo" and a huge host of comedic material he's done over the years. That's always been his MO, comedy. So its extra shocking to see him throw down in a movie like "Nobody." I want to say that its the best kind of shock though, because "Nobody" is the best pure action movie since "John Wick."
Odenkirk plays Hutch. He's a typical everyman, whose days seem to blur together. He's got a family, and he clearly loves them, but they don't seem to have a close bond. His wife and him barely have time during the week for each other. Hutch seems like he's settled in life but not satisfied and he's barely registering as a human. He wakes up in the morning, makes breakfast, goes to work comes home, eats dinner, sleeps. Rinse, wash repeat. Most of the time too, he forgets to put the garbage out on garbage day. He's also become a passive person. That becomes clear when people break into his home and his teenage son shows more bravery against the thieves.
Hutch has a secret though. A secret he keeps from everyone in his world. This secret though is literally tearing him apart though, because he's living the life of a caged lion and soon his rage is going to consume him. See, before Hutch had a family, and a dead-end job, he was an "auditor," and that's a fancy term for assassin. He broke fools left and right before settling down into a normal life and it seems this is eating at him. Hutch eventually goes back and using some talents of old friends, finds the thieves, they are a regular couple who broke into his home due to desperation though, so he eventually leaves. When some punks get on a bus on his way home, his rage is unleased.
One of the punks Hutch wrecks on the bus happens to have connections to the Russian Mafia, and when the head of the Mafia finds out what has happened to him, they want revenge. As movies like these go, the Mafia will eventually regret that decision.
Let me just say that Bob Odenkirk absolutely slaps as Hutch. I love, love, love it when actors break out of their comfort zones to do something new, and this is easily the best modern example of that. He's a believable fighter in this movie, and the action scenes are full of fun moments. But they work more than that though. During the brawl on the bus, because Hutch hasn't been a killer for awhile, he's slow to really heat up as a fighter. Hutch isn't an invulnerable superhero in this. Each punch and kick he throws seems to cost him something by contrast. It makes the action scenes more visceral, it makes them more believable and it makes the stakes higher.
Did I mention that Christopher Lloyd shows up in this as Hutch's dad. You know Christopher Lloyd right? Doc from "Back To The Future." Yeah, he's in this and let me just say holy shit. Holy shit. That's all I will say about his performance in this.
There is a comedic vibe to some of the scenes in this movie, but Odenkirk plays Hutch honest and authentic all the way through. This could be the best thing he's done so far. There are many great co-stars he gets to bounce off of in this film. Including Michael Ironside, Connie Nielsen, RZA and Colin Salmon, all of whom do great work in this film as well.
"Nobody" is a rich piece of action entertainment. It's filled with actors ripping up scenery. It's got some bone-crunching action scenes. There are bits of believable romance in it. There are a few laughs here and there. It's everything we go to the movies for. There's even a nice set up for spin-offs and sequels and I definitely want more of Hutch. When you see this, you will want more Hutch afterward too. More than anything, you will demand to see your favorite actors in different ways. I want to see actors break out of their comfort zones more often. Odenkirk nailed it. This is one of 2021's best films so far, so check it out.
Monday, May 17, 2021
Tuesday, May 11, 2021
Tom Clancy was a very successful, very popular writer. I never cracked too many of his books, but my dad sure did. My dad introduced me to Stephen King and Tom Clancy, and I became the biggest King fan. My dad spoke very highly of both authors, so I figured Clancy knew his stuff. You wouldn't really gather that from Clancy's movies adaptations. The Harrison Ford Jack Ryan run is mediocre, so was "The Sum of All Fears" 2002, with Ben Affleck playing the titular character. "Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit" seemed like such a generic spy movie that I couldn't really take it seriously. I really love "The Hunt For The Red October" and the Amazon Prime "Jack Ryan" series starring John Krasinski as Jack Ryan.
"Without Remorse" has nothing to do with Jack Ryan, but a different character that lives in Tom Clancy's universe. Michael B. Jordan is playing John Clark, and Michael B. Jordan is destined to be a star. You could tell that from "Creed" and you could tell that from "Black Panther" or any of the indies he starred in before landing in the "Creed" movies. He's got movie stardom written all over him. I love that he is willing to try his hand in directing, producing and whatever else he's choosing to do and wish him luck. I very much like Michael B. Jordan as an actor and I want to make that clear before I start dunking on his latest movie.
Yep. Sorry Clancy fans. Sorry Michael B. Jordan fans. But "Without Remorse" is not a very good movie at all.
"Without Remorse" is essentially a spy thriller action movie. I love spy thrillers. I love action movies. To each their own, right? For spy thrillers to work for me, the movie has to be making a point about the politics they are discussing. A critique, a compliment, just say something. "Without Remorse" is so muddled and so frustrating because it has absolutely nothing to say. It feels like a Cold War movie where we forgot that the Cold War has been over for a couple decades now. When a movie in which politics plays an important role in the storytelling, the politics better make sense. They also better at least try instead of being so ordinary. The United States government is corrupt and has done some shady shit in order to keep freedom and justice ringing? Stop the presses!
Where "Without Remorse" really bites is in the action scenes. If you make an action movie, and the action scenes are not exciting, not thrilling and I don't at least cringe away by how intensely authentic they are. I'm sorry then you've failed in my eyes. The action in "Without Remorse" is not exciting. It is not thrilling. It's pretty generic action. The characters are not totally fleshed out and they don't have exciting backstories, so it feels like there are no stakes. If we don't care about the characters, I don't care about the fight. Sure, John Clark lost his family to terrorists, so he's out for revenge. But, that motive is pretty played out at this time.
The action scenes of "John Wick" matter because the character is brought to life swiftly by Keanu Reeves and they make his backstory thrilling, and they set him up so tenderly before his entire life gets turned upside down. The action scenes in "The Raid" matter because when a group of everyday cops get hurled into an impossible situation, the actors have made us care about the cops enough that we want them to live, even though we know not all of them will. "The Rock" is one of my favorite action movies. Its a movie that can be called mindless entertainment. On a logical level, there are big moments that don't make sense. But that movie works for me because Sean Connery and Nicolas Cage are working overtime to make this very goofy movie matter and it shows. They care, so the audience cares as well. Any and all of this is missing from "Without Remorse."
Jamie Bell, Guy Pierce, Jodi Turner-Smith, Brett Gelman...all wonderful actors. All wasted in this movie.
The Marvel-style sting after the credits? Could have been cooler if the movie we actually watched was better. So many blockbuster franchises are designed like bigger, more expensive television shows. It'd be nice for once if you are making a modern blockbuster franchise to work tooth and nail to make sure that first film works. Reel us in with something great first, then build upon that.
It isn't enough to throw up some action that is cool-looking and for it to be enough. Maybe I'm weird, but "Without Remorse" feels ordinary in every way, and in a world where we have seen some incredibly intense action and meaningful spy thrillers, I need a little bit more than ordinary.
Monday, May 10, 2021