Angel Has Fallen Recap

Jamie

Agent Mike Banning is back, Jack! And guess what? He’s still saving the President. When an attempted assassination goes wrong, leaving only the President and Banning alive, suspicion lands sqaurely on Banning. Can he reveal the vast conspiracy, stop the bad guys, and save the President (again) before it’s too late? Find out in… Angel has Fallen.

How?! We open on a broken and beaten Banning. He’s popping pills, struggling with the physical and mental trauma from his direct involvement with several national emergencies, and trying to figure out what’s next for him and his family. And it’s not so different for his fellow war veterans, for example check out his friend Wade Jennings who is definitely not a bad guy. Wade is just lamenting the lack of use of private military contractors by the US, NBD. Anyway, shortly thereafter Banning is out fishing with the President when a massive assassination attempt via face recognizing drones is carried out. Only Banning and the President are able to survive, thanks to his quick thinking, but both are seriously injured. When Banning comes to, he’s the prime suspect thanks to an almost comical amount of physical and electronic evidence he’s left behind of his alleged activities. As the definitely-not-evil Vice President takes the oath of office, Banning is taken into custody, only to be freed moments later by a bunch of black ops soldiers. Using his skillz to kill them, Banning discovers that they are employees of Jennings (My god! How unexpected!). He then leads authorities on a multistate chase before disappearing into the West Virginia mountains where he hides out with his *bum bum bum* estranged father (what a twist!). Jennings’ squad continues in hot pursuit and Banning’s dad is a total maniac with the explosives and saves the day. Meanwhile the FBI, finally getting the hint that maybe Banning is innocent, tracks down Jennings and his entire plot hatched with the Vice President (My god! Whodathought!) blows up in his face. Realizing that he really just wants to kill the President and Banning and then move offshore he heads to the hospital where the President is. Banning also heads there in order to warn everyone what’s going on. There is a climactic shootout and Banning totally tricks those dopes and kills Jennings in hand-to-hand combat. It ends with Banning getting promoted. THE END… or is it? It is, for now. Big Question: Why frame Banning? Why not kill Banning and frame someone who isn’t a superhero?

Why?! Interestingly we do get some motivation for Banning. While dealing with the consequences of the concussions and injuries he’s suffered in the line of duty he has to seriously consider whether it’s all worth it (particularly since he’s battling some addiction issues at the same time). Less interestingly this really doesn’t get resolved adequately at the end. As for the bad guys, well they lament to loss of lucrative military contractor work for both monetary reasons and for macho “we’re lions!!!” reasons.

Who?! I mean it goes without saying, crank up that Hail to the Chief. We inaugurate President Trumbull into the BMT Hall of Presidents. Former Speaker of the House and then Vice President, he’s come a long way. I was just really hoping that at the end of the film he would ask our boy Mike Banning to be his VP. The only thing to legit get me excited for the sequel.

What?! You know you have a good product placement when people online are baffled by its presence. In this case Banning uses the cell phone lifted from one of the bad guys and its… Apple? …Samsung? Nope. They have a OnePlus cell phone, a phone somewhat popular outside of the US but rarely seen here. Maybe this is a subtle hint that the mercenary soldiers are not American… or maybe they were just filming in Eastern Europe.

Where?! Obviously a chunk of this will take place in D.C., but I was pleasantly surprised when it was made very clear that our boy Banning heads into the mountains of West Virginia in order to track down his estranged father. I didn’t even remember what we used for West Virginia for the mapl.de.map, but then I checked and it was the greatest film of all time, Silent Hill: Revelation 3D… so that wins. A-, just slightly necessary to the plot.

When?! Couldn’t find anything for the time. Clearly it’s Fall as it’s cold but not that cold. President Trumbull mentions the G20, implying its coming up shortly, but that’s not something that happens at regular intervals. I think we could figure it out, but I didn’t. F.

Either we’ve hit some level of bad movie watching where our beautiful minds can piece together anything remotely trite or cliche, or this film is on some whole other crazy level of predictability. There was a moment early in the film where I thought, “you know what, this isn’t half-bad” but then it veered away from the fun action in order to start putting together the pieces of the overarching plot, which was pretty boring… because I already knew the plot. The bad guys may as well have been twirling their evil mustaches and yet we had to wait for the film to “reveal” them to us. Worse, the final action scene actually looked super silly, which was weird because the other action scenes in the film were pretty good. Obviously not as offensive as the last film but also not as much of an improvement as I secretly hoped. I’d say a little overrated seeing as it qualified for BMT by the slimmest of margins. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! A bunch of baddies want to kill the President and need a fall guy. But who to choose. How about the one that foiled two international plots to kill the president before? What are the chances he’ll do it a third time? Pretty slim if my terrible grasp of probability theory is correct. Let’s get into it!

P’s View on the Preview – Don’t think for a second I wasn’t excited to hear they were going to complete this trilogy. I was only slightly disappointed to hear it was no longer the spiritual successor to Air Force One (it was originally supposed to be set on Air Force One). Fake presidents, explosions, hand-to-hand combat, maybe some light racism? Count me in. What was I expecting? The second film in the series was actually an incomprehensible trainwreck. So … uh, more of that please? I hope the nameless SAS agent returns and still remains nameless during this film as well.

The Good – Ripping off The Fugitive is rarely a bad idea as that film is obviously excellent. We learn a lot about the dangers of concussions, and private military forces, and Russia meddling in elections. There are lots of explosions, only some of which look like CGI garbage. And I like Morgan Freeman. It is actually rather straightforward: this is the kind of shiny action film that mimics (in inventiveness) old straight-to-video trash except with a big budget. Somehow, Gerard Butler just makes these at will, it is incredible.

The Bad – The movie is just kind of trashy. The long lost father, the “twist” of the vice-president being behind the plot (which I guessed while watching the trailer months ago … and don’t tell me it was intentional, they distort his voice during the film to hide the fact), the guy who’s just about to retire, the broken everyman hero. We’ve seen this all before. You can lob as many current messages at me as you want, it doesn’t change the fact that this is a story I’ve seen before, and a story that is more like a bad season of 24 than a $40 million film.

The BMT – We have to complete the BMT Trilogies. There is just nothing to be done about this fact. And that will be its enduring message for BMT. That we do our homework, we don’t skimp, no matter how joyless the money-grubbing sequel they produce. Did it meet my expectations? No, it was not nearly as entertaining as the craziness that is London Has Fallen. The only way something like this is entertaining is if the production really seemed to have been struggling. This seemed easy breezy. So easy in fact that Gerard Butler didn’t even feel the need to get into shape (that will be the one time I’ll body shame Gerard and mention his weight … for real though he looks fat).

Roast-radamus – I think it has a pretty strong Setting As a Character (Where?) game with basically Washington D.C. and the surrounding area, plus West Virginia. It kind of rockets up to the top of the Worst Twist (How?) list for me, because … for real, Vice-President Kirby is so obvious of a villain that I guessed it the instant I saw him in the trailer. The trailer! And then it probably doesn’t really have a shot at, but will be on the short list for, BMT Live! (2019).

StreetCreditReport.com/ – Ah finally, we have some lists. This didn’t make the AV Club list, but it did make the list from The Wrap at number 8. Considering it barely qualified for BMT that is actually pretty good. It’s cred comes from a franchise with diminishing returns though. It doesn’t even sniff Gerard Butler’s personal worst-of list even.

You Just Got Schooled – You know what is a movie I’d never seen? White House Down. It is pretty good if overly long. At least it isn’t as schmaltzy as Olympus Has Fallen. A lot of the jokes landed and a few out-of-nowhere references were actually used effectively. Specifically, although I knew President Jamie Foxx survived, I had forgotten about the pocket watch right up until he pulled it out with the bullet in it. Also the flag waving by Lucy Hale managed to go so far into bad territory that it went back around and became ironically good. The thing is, the entire world they built would never be suited for sequels, unlike Olympus Has Fallen which was already a super agent film set in the terror-around-every-corner world of 24. So while White House Down is fun, it always seemed destined to be a one time adventure. Which is fine. B-, glad I watched it, but I won’t watch it again.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Angel Has Fallen Quiz

Quite literally a huge part of this story is just how many concussions the main character has. I barely remember my own name, let alone what happened in this film. Do you remember what happened in Angel Has Fallen?

Pop Quiz Hot Shot!

1) What piece of legislation does President Morgan Freeman announce at the beginning of the film?

2) What is the vice-president’s (spoilees!) plot to kill the president? And why does Wade Jennings go along with it?

3) Why does the FBI think Mike Banning tried to kill the president?

4) Where does Mike’s estranged father live?

5) What position is Mike promoted to at the end of the film?

Answers

Angel Has Fallen Preview

Jamie stares in shock as Patrick slams the newspaper down in front of him. The headline screams “Cake-Fueled Scandal Rocks Rich and Poe Production” and that’s not the only thing screaming. “You know the immense pressure I’m under, Jamie?” Patrick screams, chowing down on another slice of banana cream pie. But Jamie waves him off, “you know this is nothing. You were there. You saw it all happen.” But that’s not the point. Sure, Patrick knows the truth, but the studio doesn’t and they’re starting to hear words like greedy, arrogant, and unprofessional being thrown around. Worst of all, Jamie is getting a reputation as an all around bad boy character, while Patrick is being called difficult. Difficult! He’s not difficult. Everyone else is difficult! “Why don’t you take a week off,” Patrick suggest, “go to the ski chalet and relax to the max,” and Jamie nods. Besides he can get some b-roll of some avalanches for the big climactic snowboarding shootout. While he’s away Patrick begins production with the new sidekick they wrote, Angel. Overweight, bumbling, and an overall fool they spend the movie totally owning him for his bumbling ways. Patrick and Jamie know the character is a perfect way to show just how cool and rad their own characters are by juxtaposing them against his total lameness. When Jamie returns, the set is abuzz. Everywhere he turns he hears “Angel is so funny,” and “next breakout star.” Confused he confronts Patrick who is also beside himself. Apparently everyone loves the helpful idiot. When a new gossip article links Angel and Leighton Vanderschmidt it’s the final straw. They can’t have his star outshine theirs. There’s only one thing to do: Angel must go down. That’s right! We’re watching Angel Has Fallen. While not the worst reviewed film of the year, it’s a sequel to the terrible London Has Fallen, so that basically made it a shoe-in. It was also helpful that it fit the chain reaction section through Gangster Squad’s Nick Nolte. Let’s go!

Angel Has Fallen (2019) – BMeTric: 17.4; Notability: 33 

AngelHasFallenIMDb_BMeT

AngelHasFallenIMDb_RV

(The IMDb rating is a lot higher that I think I would expect. I guess I don’t really expect people to go to bat for a nothing sequel to a franchise full of nothing … but unlike horror, action films have their staunch defenders I guess.)

RogerEbert.com – 1.0 stars – [K]ey moments, like any scene featuring great character actors like Tim Blake Nelson and Lance Reddick, are raced through with negligible conviction and even less inspiration. If this type of no-brow entertainment is your thing, you may find something to like in “Angel Has Fallen,” but that doesn’t mean you need what these guys are reselling.

(Many other review sites were a bit kinder than this, but I think this is probably accurate. More or less they are saying that it’s bad, without giving in to the “good for what it aims to be” syndrome that we see all over the place nowadays.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5U2AJvU3bl4/

(I remember seeing this trailer and actually thinking “shit, this might actually not be that bad.” In some ways this turned out to be true. But it still qualified and the denizens of the BMTverse rejoiced.)

Directors – Ric Roman Waugh – (Known For: Shot Caller; Snitch; Felon; BMT: Angel Has Fallen; Notes: Long time stuntman. Did the stunts on the likes of Teen Wolf Too, Gone in 60 Seconds, Sudden Death, and Double Dragon)

Writers – Robert Mark Kamen (screenplay by) – (Known For: The Karate Kid; The Fifth Element; Taken; The Karate Kid; The Karate Kid Part II; The Transporter; Transporter 2; Lethal Weapon 3; Bandidas; Kiss of the Dragon; The Warriors Gate; Taps; A Walk in the Clouds; Future BMT: The Next Karate Kid; The Karate Kid Part III; The Transporter Refueled; Taken 3; Transporter 3; Taken 2; Colombiana; Gladiator; BMT: Angel Has Fallen; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Screenplay for The Karate Kid Part III in 1990; Notes: Long time collaborator of Luc Besson. After the success of The Fifth Element he was asked to join him in creating a studio in Europe. I presume this is EuropaCorp.)

Matt Cook (screenplay by) – (Known For: The Informer; Patriots Day; Triple 9; Future BMT: The Duel; BMT: Angel Has Fallen; Notes: Seems to have burst onto the scene with three different films made in 2016.)

Ric Roman Waugh (screenplay by) – (Known For: Shot Caller; Snitch; Felon; BMT: Angel Has Fallen; Notes: He’s actually written every film he’s directed other than his first, Exit, which looks like a Cinemax film which he eventually went credited as Alan Smithee.)

Creighton Rothenberger (story by & based on characters created by) – (Known For: Olympus Has Fallen; BMT: London Has Fallen; The Expendables 3; Angel Has Fallen; Notes: Met writing partner Benedikt in screenwriting class and they eventually got married. Love is alive!)

Katrin Benedikt (story by & based on characters created by) – (Known For: Olympus Has Fallen; BMT: London Has Fallen; The Expendables 3; Angel Has Fallen; Notes: They are now divorced and will likely not be writing partners now… love is dead.)

Actors – Gerard Butler – (Known For: How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World; Olympus Has Fallen; 300; Den of Thieves; How to Train Your Dragon; The Vanishing; Tomorrow Never Dies; RocknRolla; How to Train Your Dragon 2; Reign of Fire; Nim’s Island; Coriolanus; Beowulf & Grendel; Mrs Brown; Dear Frankie; Harrison’s Flowers; The Cherry Orchard; Future BMT: Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life; Tale of the Mummy; The Ugly Truth; The Game of Their Lives; A Family Man; Machine Gun Preacher; BMT: Movie 43; Dracula 2001; Geostorm; Gods of Egypt; The Bounty Hunter; Timeline; Gamer; Playing for Keeps; London Has Fallen; Angel Has Fallen; Hunter Killer; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Actor in 2011 for The Bounty Hunter; and in 2017 for Gods of Egypt, and London Has Fallen; and Nominee for Worst Screen Couple/Worst Screen Ensemble for The Bounty Hunter in 2011; Notes: One of the greatest actors of all time. Part of the Hollywood A-list as evidenced by his invite to Mark Burnett’s holiday party. So suck on that, Gerard Butler haters.)

Nick Nolte – (Known For: Cape Fear; Tropic Thunder; Warrior; 48 Hrs.; The Thin Red Line; Noah; Hulk; Run All Night; Hotel Rwanda; The Player; The Spiderwick Chronicles; Over the Hedge; Parker; U Turn; The Deep; Paris, je t’aime; New York Stories; Hateship Loveship; A Walk in the Woods; The Company You Keep; Future BMT: Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore; Breakfast of Champions; Return to Sender; I Love Trouble; Arthur; Simpatico; The Mysteries of Pittsburgh; Nightwatch; Blue Chips; Angel Has Fallen; Three Fugitives; Trixie; Mulholland Falls; Everybody Wins; Asthma; Neverwas; BMT: The Ridiculous 6; Zookeeper; Another 48 Hrs.; Gangster Squad; Notes: Has maybe the most famous mugshot in the world. Was also sentenced to 45 years in prison in the 60s for counterfeiting, but the sentence was suspended.)

Danny Huston – (Known For: Wonder Woman; Game Night; The Aviator; Children of Men; Robin Hood; Stan & Ollie; Newness; Leaving Las Vegas; Marie Antoinette; 30 Days of Night; 21 Grams; Big Eyes; The Kingdom; The Constant Gardener; Edge of Darkness; Hitchcock; The Proposition; Made in Dagenham; The Conspirator; The Congress; Future BMT: IO; Stolen; Wrath of the Titans; Clash of the Titans; All I See Is You; Boogie Woogie; Birth; Pressure; The Warrior’s Way; How to Lose Friends & Alienate People; Anna Karenina; The Professor; Fade to Black; BMT: The Number 23; Angel Has Fallen; X-Men Origins: Wolverine; Notes: For a hot second he was a director in the late 80’s and early 90’s. Made The Maddening, an erotic thriller starring Burt Reynolds, which is described as a “creepfest” on Wikipedia.)

Budget/Gross – $40,000,000 / Domestic: $69,030,436 (Worldwide: $133,365,452)

(That actually seems pretty okay. You’d want a bit more domestically, and for an action film you’d hope to punch $100 million there as well. But overall they probably made a bit of money out of it … Angel Has Fallen 2?)

Rotten Tomatoes – 39% (68/174): Cut from the same rough cloth as its predecessors, Angel Has Fallen rounds out a mostly forgettable action trilogy in fittingly mediocre fashion.

(Technically speaking, I think the second film was less than mediocre, making this film more of a return to form than a fittingly mediocre conclusion. I personally was hoping for more offensive garbage, but we can’t all get what we wish for. Fortunately this just snuck in for BMT. Reviewer Highlight: Angel Has Fallen is a film in search of a soul. It doesn’t find it, but the effort is appreciated. – Clarisse Loughrey, Independent (UK))

Poster – Angel Has Sklog-en (C+)

angel_has_fallen_ver10

(Weird. I would think I would like this a lot, but I don’t. The color and the framing are fine, but the font makes this look like an ad for a TV show. I need quality, Angel Has Fallen.)

Tagline(s) – The Hero Becomes the Fugitive (C)

(Not into it. I need it to flow. This is clunky and weird. It’s short and it explains the plot, but that a tagline does not make. I feel like there’s a lot of opportunity here too. Like America’s Greatest Hero is now America’s Most Wanted. Or something like Husband. Hero. Fugitive. Works better for me.)

Keyword – third part

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Top 10: Angel Has Fallen (2019), Terminator: Dark Fate (2019), John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum (2019), Thor: Ragnarok (2017), Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (2005), Avengers: Infinity War (2018), Glass (2019), The Dark Knight Rises (2012), Logan (2017), The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003); 

Future BMT: 82.7 Home Alone 3 (1997), 69.8 Jeepers Creepers 3 (2017), 68.5 The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause (2006), 65.9 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III (1993), 63.5 Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles (2001), 63.4 Poltergeist III (1988), 62.7 Smokey and the Bandit Part 3 (1983), 62.6 Blair Witch (2016), 61.9 The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008), 60.8 The Karate Kid Part III (1989); 

BMT: Angel Has Fallen (2019), Batman Forever (1995), The Expendables 3 (2014), The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006), RoboCop 3 (1993), Superman III (1983), Beverly Hills Cop III (1994), Highlander III: The Sorcerer (1994), Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son (2011), Ernest Goes to Jail (1990)

(I’m now genuinely wondering if we can make a full cycle out of just third part films … and wait … is 1995 to 2000 so weird forgotten time of original filmmaking? Why aren’t they completing those sweet trilogies at that point. Maybe … with the small studios starting to go under in the early 90s a lot of the crap third parts were relegated to straight-to-video / cable maybe? Interesting theory at least.)

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 15) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Gerard Butler is No. 1 billed in Angel Has Fallen and No. 1 billed in Hunter Killer, which also stars Gary Oldman (No. 2 billed) who is in Lost in Space (No. 1 billed), which also stars Heather Graham (No. 5 billed) who is in Say It Isn’t So (No. 2 billed), which also stars Chris Klein (No. 1 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 2 billed) => 1 + 1 + 2 + 1 + 5 + 2 + 1 + 2 = 15. If we were to watch Kingdom Come we can get the HoE Number down to 11.

Notes – Production on the film has been delayed by three months, to allow Gerard Butler time to recover from an injury he received while riding his motorcycle. (Pretty dumb)

Piper Perabo replaced Radha Mitchell as Leah Banning, Mike’s wife, who Mitchell played in the previous two movies. (… I did not realize they had switched actresses, I had just kind of assumed it was Piper Perabo before)

Gerard Butler and Morgan Freeman are the only two actors reprising their roles for this installment. Thus, being the only two actors to appear in all three “Has Fallen” movies.

Gerard Butler stated that this film will be darker and more character driven than either of its previous installments, even going so far as to compare it to “Logan” (2017). He also expressed hope that this will be the final installment in the “Olympus has Fallen” series.

Nick Nolte played the role of an Ex-Vietnam War veteran in this movie. In real life, he never had a chance to go to Vietnam war due to a felony case years before. However, he felt incomplete for not being able to do so since at that time, he felt obligated to fight in Vietnam War as a young man.

In Olympus Has Fallen (2013), Morgan Freeman portrayed the Speaker of the House, and in London Has Fallen (2016), he became Vice President. In between the second film and this one, his character has been elected as President of the United States. This marks the second time of Freeman as President, after he played President Tom Beck in Deep Impact (1998). (Fake presidents are amazing!)

All three films in the series have been distributed by different studios. FilmDistrict distributed Olympus Has Fallen (2013); Gramercy distributed London Has Fallen (2016); and Lionsgate distributed Angel Has Fallen (2019). (That actually seems weird)

Reportedly, there were no plans to have Aaron Eckhart return and play the role of the president, as the first two films are set over the course of seven years and the maximum time for a U.S. president is two terms (exactly eight years, unless the person becomes president in the last two years of the term). So Morgan Freeman took over the role instead. (Always made sense anyways)

Had almost half the production budget of Olympus Has Fallen (70 million) with a substantially smaller 40 million.

Gangster Squad Recap

Jamie

Mickey Cohen is a menace to LA and police officer John O’Mara ain’t letting it fly. No way, no how. He’s tasked with assembling a squad of police officers to clandestinely take apart the evil gangster’s criminal empire. Can they stop Mickey before it’s too late? Find out in… Gangster Squad.

How?! John O’Mara don’t take guff from nobody, especially those that aim to dirty his beloved LA like gangster Mickey Cohen. Unfortunately he also doesn’t take guff from nobody so O’Mara is tasked with creating a misfit squad of gangster hunters (what to call them, though?) whose smarts and toughness will combine to take even less guff than Cohen (if you can believe it). Will they go out and murder Cohen right away? No! That would be too boring. Instead they aim to dismantle his empire while keeping him alive and figure out what his dastardly plot is to take over the West Coast (hint: it doesn’t matter). The squad goes about punching and shooting people to great effect, while also totally getting with Cohen’s main squeeze. Cohen is obviously none too pleased with this and he proceeds to punch and shoot a bunch of people until he figures out who the gangster squad is. After that it’s all out war and they punch and shoot some more until one of the squad is dead and their families threatened. All seems lost, except remember… no guff. O’Mara scrapes together a warrant for Cohen’s arrest and there is a big showdown at the Plaza. Shooting. Punching. Punching. Shooting. O’Mara takes Cohen down and cleans up the streetz. THE END. So the big question: was Mickey Cohen’s downfall because he took too many guffs or maybe, just maybe, he didn’t take enough (yah dig?).

Why?! I mean, Mickey Cohen is a psycho. No need for more explanation on that front. As for our boy John and his gangster squad, well they just want to do good in a world where people too often let money dictate their morals. Other cops are being bought, but they didn’t fight in WWII to let their home descend into crime. No! Not the Gangster Squad™.

Who?! Anyone who’s anyone knows that Ryan Gosling was part of the Mickey Mouse Club and so he’s got those dancing and singing chops for days. Lesser known is that he’s an actor-turned-musician (my favorite) and released an album as part of the rock duo Dead Man’s Bones in 2009. According to wikipedia he performed under the alias Baby Goose… OK.

What?! As I looked at the beautiful chiseled features of Josh Brolin I of course wondered to myself, “Is there a way that I could look like that granite rock of a man?” and the answer is yes. I can wear the very gun holster that he wears. Now if only I can figure out how to sound just like Nick Nolte (hint: it involves smoking cigarettes and gargling whiskey for 5000 years).

Where?! This feels like it’s the most LA movie ever. They are talking all kinds of Hollywood stuff all day. We see the Hollywoodland sign, they are talking about the movie biz, and references to Brentwood are dropped in as if the audience would be like “Jeez, Brentwood, amiright?” and nudge each other whenever it’s mentioned. A.

When?! Secret Holiday Film Alert! In the beginning you’re like “wait… is this set around Christmas?” And then the film slowly becomes more and more christmasy until we have Sean Penn screaming “Here comes Santy Claus!” as he shoots up a christmas tree in slow motion. It’s actually pretty hilarious. B+.

Overly stylized, very dark, choppy at times, and steered heavily into cliche. But I also didn’t think it was all that bad (if that makes sense). I let it wash over me like a sultry LA night and had a fine time watching it. I think the acting was pretty great (other than Penn who legend says is still chewing the scenery) and the story interesting. So all in all: not the worst. As for Future Kick, I actually really liked it. Super weird and fun production involving robots and a colony on the moon and virtual reality and organ harvesting. And there’s really nothing more beautiful than an ending that asks the question, “maybe everything you just watched was meaningless.” I’d gladly watch any film that implies that the whole thing was a dream. My one big critique: we needed more martial arts. Somehow T.N.T. had way more impressive martial arts than this one did. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Jamie and I threw away our official LAPD Cobra Division badges in prep for this film. We’re off the books! Time to murder a bunch of people! Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – I remember when this come out this was a very exciting film for some corners of the internet. It checks off a bunch of boxes: a group of guys smashing up some gangsters, the late-40s/early-50s west coast period piece, and a crazy cast. And then it just fizzled out to rather lackluster reviews. I guess we’ll see if it ages well? What are my expectations – I want Sean Penn to basically be Nic-Caging all over the place. I want him to actually eat some scenery during a scene, like literally break off pieces of the set and eat it.

The Good – I like the period setting. The story is interesting. Emma Stone is excellent as always, and I really like the group of actors they got for the Squad. I really couldn’t ask for much more from what the film promised: a bunch of cops are going to bust up some gangsters, the end. There isn’t really much more to expound on here, but be assured that I actually liked this film quite a bit.

The Bad – I can definitely see why Sean Penn’s performance sunk the film for critics, he is so over the top it is very very distracting. I also think the story ends up pulling a punch or two and just retreating to the safety of what is ultimately a very predictable series of events. The biggest crime is killing off Ribisi which is by far the most obvious choice of how to “shake up” the Squad during the film. The outside shot is to kill off Brolin, and then making Gosling dry himself off to lead the Squad to victory. Apologies if somehow all of these events are part of the “true story” that it is all adapted from … I doubt it. Finally, the film is just kind of directed / structured sloppily with the least interesting bits, somehow, being the bits involving the Gangster Squad.

The BMT – It is certainly a weird BMT. Long ago we were rather insistent that we were going to do Amelia starring Hilary Swank … and then we just didn’t. Straight dramas don’t tend to fit into our traditional cycle genres. So it is nice to do a straight drama that is considered bad. Did it meet my expectations? Not really. I didn’t think Sean Penn was that bad, even though I can see why people hated it at the time. And that is really what it needed. Once you think that is fine … the movie isn’t that bad, so no, I don’t think I’ll be sending this over to people as a bad movie recommendation.

Roast-radamus – I think we have a very strong Setting as a Character (Where?) for Los Angeles (we can’t let Mickey Cohen take our city!!!) and Secret Holiday Film (When?) where the entire end of the film takes place during Christmas complete exploding Christmas display in slow motion. Other than that I could maybe see a nod for Good from me specifically, but I guess we’ll see.

StreetCreditReport.com – Finally! We finally are back in the zone where people actually have lists. And indeed this film is on the AV Club list (number 8) and on the IndieWire list (number 14). And I think it would end up on a worst of gangster film, and worst of films set in the 40s lists if you really pressed it. Pretty good cred, critics really hated this film!

You Just Got Schooled – Lightning quick one as a semi-endorsement of The Flophouse Podcast which did this film all the way back in 2014. They’ve come a long way since then in how the podcast is structured (this was back when they all lived in New York still and Elliott was Dan’s boss at the Daily Show), but overall I thought it was a funny listen. Just the right level of Elliott Kalan random asides to make what isn’t a very interesting bad movie interesting. And ultimately I agree with his assessment: if I saw the film on television I would probably be fine with watching it, and it is actually maybe closer to a good good movie than a bad bad movie (but definitely not a good bad movie).

Bring a Friend Analysis – And as with any Sean Penn film you just have to watch a Chris Penn feature alongside it. This time? It’s the very promisingly named Future Kick, which I know for a fact I’ve seen as a vhs tape on the Red Letter Media studio’s shelves. I think the film throws a lot at you to consume in the first 25 minutes of the film, with a dystopian world with a Elysium-like moon base, and escaped automaton bounty hunters, the last of which is played by Don “The Dragon” Wilson. For a bit there I was kind of barely holding onto the story (which seems to be a trend with 90s straight-to-VHS features, just incomprehensible). But by the end it saves itself with strong and entertaining performances by Wilson and Meg Foster. The end is also very amusing as it (spoilers) goes for the classic “this entire film was a dream” ending. I’m going to give it a B+. I wish it was a bit clearer in premise and martial arts action early, but the back half is, I think, a rather fun balls-to-the-wall ridiculous straight-to-video feature.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Gangster Squad Quiz

It’s time to kill some gangsters, seeeeeee. But the thing is? I kind of got ‘sploded by a stick of dynamite while chasing these gangsters, got a concussion, and can’t remember a thing. Can you remember what happened in Gangster Squad?

Pop Quiz Hot Shot!

1) Let’s start with a straightforward one: describe the Gangster Squad, who is in it?

2) What is the Gangster Squad’s plan to take down Cohen? Like … they aren’t going to go up and shoot him in the face right?

3) What event makes Gosling become a full-throated member of the Gangster Squad.

4) What is Emma Stone’s presumed job with Mickey Cohen? In reality she is naturally just his girlfriend. Why does Emma Stone eventually run away and then turn on Cohen?

5) How does the Gangster Squad get the arrest warrant for Mickey Cohen?

Answers

Gangster Squad Preview

Patrick drags himself, broken and bleeding, onto the highway shoulder. His captors would be back, but he just needs a second to think. Just then a dark limousine pulls up and an intimidating figure rolls down the window. “So you escaped. Good,” the man says, chomping down on a cigar, “that makes our lives a little easier. Get in.” Patrick hesitates, but when he looks back up the highway he sees Lost and Found’s truck driving erratically back down the road in search. Hopping in he asks the man who he is and why he was following him. “We have a mutual friend in Nic… Nic Cage,” he says as Patrick’s heart leaps. “He still holds out hope that you two can save the world. I’m not so sure, especially after you so easily fell into Sticks and Stones’ trap. But you don’t let down Nicky. Not in this world… or any other.” Patrick’s blood has run cold… Sticks and Stones… no wonder they seemed so familiar. “You’re with my squad now, so relax,” he finishes as he and his companions load their guns. That’s right! We’re using Anthony Mackie from Runner Runner to go to Gangster Squad starring… everyone basically. It was a classic style-over-substance critique for the film that dropped it into BMT territory and we pounds like BMT tigers going after BMT prey. Let’s go!

Jamie zooms through the air, taking his hanglider to the limit. As he skirts the highest building in New Angeles he sees a figure lean out of one of the windows. Jamie happily waves at him, but stops when he sees the crossbow. His beautiful hanglider takes an arrow her majestic wing and only through the immense power of his biceps and pilot skills is he able to land safely. Steam rises from the street and neon lights flash as his hanglider companion slides out of the mist on a skateboard. Jamie’s heart sinks when he sees the gun in his hand. “Welcome to the future,” the man says, “Where you either fight… or you die.” That’s right! We are pairing the Sean Penn Gangster Squad with the Chris Penn futuristic martial arts (?) film Future Kick. It starred one of the best kickboxers of all time, Don “The Dragon” Wilson, and is about kickboxing robots. Don’t think there’s more to say than that. Let’s go!

Gangster Squad (2013) – BMeTric: 14.7 

GangsterSquadIMDb_BMeT

GangsterSquadIMDb_RV

(Ooooo the first one in a while that started really high and is regressing down instead of up. I do know that there are fans of this film, mostly due to the stellar cast.)

Leonard Maltin – 2 stars –  In 1949 L.A., police chief William Parker (Nolte) hires square-jawed WW2 veteran Brolin to assemble an elite team that will work under the radar to bring down ferociously ambitious gangster Mickey Cohen (Penn, in an outlandish performance), who wants to take over California. Garishly colorful but ludicrous, despite a promising start; a comic-book rendering of a fascinating true story as reported by Paul Lieberman in his book of the same name. Worth a glance for Maher Ahma’s stylish production design.

(Well I got my semi-colon so I can’t complain. An absolutely epic review though which honestly mostly just describes the film? Like, the actual review boils down to: Penn is crazy, the film is ludicrous, but worth a watch just for the production design alone.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LlbN5cQKZik/

(I AM THE FUTURE! It does look very stylish, and I like the song. But it also looks a little too badass for its own good. Showing the true story of taking down crooks using their own criminal ways is one thing … but this is arguable the glorification of extrajudicial punishment which is a whole other thing. But we’ll see.)

Directors – Ruben Fleischer – (Known For: Zombieland; 30 Minutes or Less; Future BMT: Venom; BMT: Gangster Squad; Notes: Is married to Emma Stone’s publicist, Emma Stone introduced them. They got married in 2012, so all of that definitely happened prior to Fleischer presumably casting Stone in this film.)

Writers – Will Beall (written by) – (Known For: Aquaman; BMT: Gangster Squad; Notes: Was a story editor for Castle for years, and then developed the Training Day show as well. He is tapped to write the up coming Conan sequel starring Schwarzeneggar.)

Paul Lieberman (book) – (BMT: Gangster Squad; Notes: He wrote for the Los Angeles Times for 24 years, which is where he researched and wrote the book the movie is based on.)

Actors – Sean Penn – (Known For: Mystic River; Fast Times at Ridgemont High; The Secret Life of Walter Mitty; The Tree of Life; The Game; Angry Birds; I’m Still Here; The Thin Red Line; Being John Malkovich; Carlito’s Way; Risky Business; 21 Grams; U Turn; Fair Game; Milk; Bad Boys; Taps; Dead Man Walking; This Must Be the Place; At Close Range; Future BMT: It’s All About Love; The Weight of Water; All the King’s Men; Hugo Pool; Crackers; BMT: Shanghai Surprise; The Gunman; Gangster Squad; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Actor for Shanghai Surprise in 1987; Notes: Somewhat notably gave David Spade a tattoo somewhere outside of New York (he wasn’t licensed) during SNL. Recently he gave Spade a second tattoo as well.)

Ryan Gosling – (Known For: Blade Runner 2049; The Big Short; First Man; Remember the Titans; La La Land; The Notebook; Drive; The Nice Guys; Crazy, Stupid, Love.; Blue Valentine; The Place Beyond the Pines; The Ides of March; Fracture; Only God Forgives; Song to Song; Lars and the Real Girl; Half Nelson; The Believer; The Slaughter Rule; Future BMT: Murder by Numbers; All Good Things; Stay; BMT: Gangster Squad; Notes: Was a child actor, primarily with Beaker High and Young Hercules, and has been nominated for two oscars.)

Emma Stone – (Known For: The Favourite; Superbad; Zombieland; La La Land; The Help; The House Bunny; Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance); Crazy, Stupid, Love.; The Amazing Spider-Man; Easy A; The Amazing Spider-Man 2; Friends with Benefits; The Croods; Irrational Man; The Interview; Battle of the Sexes; Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping; Magic in the Moonlight; The Rocker; Future BMT: Aloha; Unlikely Hero; BMT: Movie 43; Marmaduke; Ghosts of Girlfriends Past; Gangster Squad; Notes: Won the oscar for La La Land. Broke out with Superbad which was genuinely her first feature film.)

Budget/Gross – $60–75 million / Domestic: $46,000,903 (Worldwide: $105,200,903)

(Not good, although that isn’t that far off from the budget for Rambo 4 and the eventual gross, and for some reason Stallone places $100 million worldwide as the market for the success of a “small-ish” film. So maybe this is a success … less opportunity for product placement in a period piece though.)

#24 for the Crime Time genre

gangstersquad_crime

(Weirdly of the now six crime films we watched, this is the highest grossing. This came right at the peak of the post-2008 financial collapse boom in crime based films. You can discuss the psychology of that trend amongst yourselves.)

#9 for the True Crime genre

gangstersquad_truecrime

(The first true crime film we’ve watched. Other potential options: The Black Dahlia, Texas Killing Fields, King of Thieves, and Wonderland (2003). We could just polish those right off.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 32% (64/202): Though it’s stylish and features a talented cast, Gangster Squad suffers from lackluster writing, underdeveloped characters, and an excessive amount of violence.

(Stylish seems to be the name of the game here. And I knew it! Excessive amounts of violence is code for “I feel uncomfortably with how they seem to be glorifying extrajudicial punishments here.” Dollars to donuts.)

Poster – Gangster Sklog (A-)

gangster_squad_ver2

(This is checking off a lot of boxes for font, spacing, and look. A little too stylish for its own good maybe and dark in tone, but I think they are doing an homage to an era of film I’m probably not knowledgeable enough about to really appreciate. Still good though.)

Tagline(s) – No names. No badges. No mercy. (A+)

(Uhhhhhh, yah. This is what I want. All day every day give me that clear, concise, and clever tagline with flow for days. This is pretty much perfect.)

Keyword(s) – police vigilantism; Top Ten by BMeTric: 83.1 RoboCop 3 (1993); 58.5 The Mod Squad (1999); 58.5 Alex Cross (2012); 55.6 Leatherface (2017); 54.6 Max Payne (2008); 51.7 The Crow: Salvation (2000); 48.0 Samurai Cop (1991); 46.3 Machete Kills (2013); 45.8 Edison (2005); 42.8 Exit Wounds (2001);

(I’ve actually seen Machete Kills, it is awful. I think I watched it outside of BMT for the Razzies or something. We’ll finish these up at some point )

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 19) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Nick Nolte is No. 3 billed in Gangster Squad and No. 4 billed in Zookeeper, which also stars Sylvester Stallone (No. 3 billed) who is in Expendables 3 (No. 1 billed), which also stars Jason Statham (No. 2 billed) who is in In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Seige Tale (No. 1 billed), which also stars Leelee Sobieski (No. 4 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 1 billed) => 3 + 4 + 3 + 1 + 2 + 1 + 4 + 1 = 19. If we were to watch Stay, The Island, and The Black Dahlia we can get the HoE Number down to 14.

Notes – In the movie, the Gangster Squad is assembled to go after Mickey Cohen. However, in real life Chief W.H. Parker set up the squad to prevent other gangsters from taking over Cohen’s rackets after Cohen went to prison on income tax evasion. Whenever the squad learned that out-of-town gangsters were coming to Los Angeles to try to set up new operations, the Gangster Squad would kidnap them, beat them up (some rumors say torture) and then send them back to wherever they came from with the warning that if they ever returned, they would be killed. (Fun facts)

There are two surviving members of the original gangster squad, and they, along with relatives of the deceased members, came to visit the set.

De’aundre Bonds’ first film role in ten years. He served ten years in prison for manslaughter. (There is no additional information about the killing, but good for him, seems to still be acting a bit)

Two of the reasons Ryan Gosling decided to make the movie was because he wanted to act in a scene with Sean Penn and shoot a Tommy gun. He was disappointed when he found out he didn’t have any scenes with Sean Penn. (I guess that means he shoots a Tommy gun)

Nick Nolte, who portrays Chief W.H. Parker, previously played the leader of the gangster squad in Mulholland Falls (1996). (WHAT)

Robert Patrick lost 30 pounds for the part, in order to look more like a “cowboy”. (Weird, but okay)

The big nightclub in the film was originally an old furniture store that was converted. Bellflower, CA–where this was shot–was hit hard by the 2007 recession, and the production company was able to take over a main street in the city and turn it into period Los Angeles.

The film is based on a series of L.A. Times articles that were turned into a book written by Paul Lieberman. He turned those stories into a book..

Ryan Gosling’s character makes a joke where he pretends that the only famous Mickey he has heard of is Mickey Mouse. As a child, Gosling starred in MMC (1989). (Huh, I wouldn’t have caught that)

Ryan Gosling agreed to join the film in exchange for the studio financing his directorial debut Lost River. (B-b-b-b-b-b-ut I thought he wanted to shoot a Tommy gun!)

Nick Nolte portrays Police Chief W.H. Parker. The real W.H. Parker was in his mid-40’s during the time this movie is set. Nick Nolte was 71 years old when the film was released. (He also sounds like he has smoked all of the cigarettes in the world)

The screenplay for this film was featured in the 2010 Blacklist; a list of the “most liked” unmade scripts of the year.

Body count: 59.

The movie culminates in a giant shootout at the hotel in which dozens of gangsters are mowed down by Tommy guns. The leader of the squad, Jack O’Mara (Josh Brolin) assaults Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn) and arrests him for murder. In real life, Mickey Cohen was arrested for tax evasion. Also, by the time Cohen was imprisoned in 1961, the real Jack O’Mara was retired and watched the trial as a civilian.

Runner Runner Recap

Jamie

Richie Furst is a former Wall Street guru turned Masters student who is cheated out of his tuition on an online poker site. Taking his evidence to the site’s founder he is offered everything he’s ever wanted: wealth and ladies. And he only has to become a criminal to get it! Can he escape his life of crime (and get the girl) before it’s too late? Find out in… Runner Runner.

How?! Richie Furst is a poor widdle former Wall Street guy who, having been unjustly robbed of his wealth due to the financial crisis, is now forced to get his Masters from Princeton (gross). Trying to make ends meet for tuition in the only legal way he knows how, he loses all his savings playing online poker. Given that he’s way too smart to lose he suspects treachery and uses big ol’ computers and his brain to discover that what happened is mathematically impossible. He decides to go straight to the source and confronts the owners of the poker company in Costa Rica and is all like “math, bitch.” The founder, Ivan Block, is impressed by his bravado and big brain and decides to give him a job and everything he’s ever wanted: ladies, money, and power. Richie of course suspects nothing of getting such an offer from an obviously terrible criminal like Ivan and is like “OK,” like a dope. From there he continues to act like a dope by throwing away all his scruples to blackmail and bribe people just like Ivan tells him too. Even when FBI agents are all up in his business he’s like “but Ivan said…” because he’s actually an idiot. However, when his friends start to bail on the company and one discovers that it’s actually a Ponzi scheme set up by Ivan, it finally dawns on him that literally everything is pointing towards him being involved in a terrible criminal activity. Uh oh! When his dad is used by Ivan as a bargaining chip, Richie has had enough and starts to set up an elaborate scheme to get the upper hand on Ivan. So when Ivan turns around and tries to move the company to Antigua, leaving Richie as the fall guy, Richie is already one step ahead and bribes the pilot to reroute his plane to Puerto Rico. Once there, Ivan gets arrested and Richie, with his big ol’ brain and his new girlfriend, fly off into the sunset. THE END

Why?! We can start from the beginning. We know that Richie is motivated mostly by greed. He feels somewhat robbed by having earned a bunch of money on Wall Street and watching all his money disappear while others got away with millions. He again feels somewhat robbed when he loses his tuition money in a rigged online poker game. This double swindling of our boy Richie apparently breaks his brain because this turns him into a criminal motivated only by greed. We even see him blackmail a guy who is about to have a new baby by purposefully tempting him with hookers and filming it. That’s just a shitty move, man. I know the guy is also shitty for giving into the temptation but our main character is just clearly a terrible person for purposefully setting all that up for a business deal. In fact, I’m not sure why I’m making this section so long. The motivation here is greed across the board. We are forced to watch a bunch of greedy assholes for two hours and it sucks. 

Who?! There is a very brief cameo by the DJ Deadmau5, who is DJing Ivan Block’s very exclusive party. It’s funny to think that in Hollywood you can be like, “hey we need a bunch of money to get Deadmau5 to DJ the fake party for the movie in order to lend credibility to the scene,” and then they just have a massive party and Deadmau5 is shown for less than a second. Also Laurence Mason (aka Lord Nikon and the reason we watched this terrible film) goes uncredited because his scene as the Governor of Antigue got cut… but don’t worry I saw it on the DVD extras. And indeed, totally unnecessary to the film.

What?! Lots of the classics in this one: cars, TVs, phones. I do like JT being like “no thanks” to the expensive stuff people are drinking because he can’t get enough Bud Light. Also they hide all of the evidence of Ivan Block’s nefarious deed in boxes of cereal, but mention that they use cereal that no one wants to eat… always makes me curious why companies would agree to have their cereal used in a film where the main character is like “that cereal is gross.”

Where?! Fantastic fantastic fantastic setting film. We start in Princeton and jump straight over to Costa Rica, which plays a prominent role in the plot. I’d have to look around but this almost certainly will be the top Costa Rica film we’ll get for BMT. Add it to the (imaginary) map! A

When?! The beginning of the film takes place in December most likely as it’s somewhat cold in Princeton and our boy Richie leaves just before finals (but don’t worry, he got extensions). From there it’s all lost to time. He could have been working for Ivan for a few months or over a year. Hard to tell. D.

I haaaaaaaaaaaaaated this film. I actually found it hard to watch. Despite being an objectively nice looking film (can’t go wrong with an exotic locale), I couldn’t understand how they wrote a film where I never cared what happened to any of the characters. I didn’t care whether he got the girl. I didn’t care how Richie was going to get out of the clusterfuck he got himself into. I just didn’t care. He was a criminal and a terrible person and I’m supposed to care about whether he gets out of the jam he’s gotten into through his own greed? No thanks. I’m not even sure whether the plot was coherent (probably not). And I’m not sure the acting is all that good (almost certainly not). I didn’t care. Because this movie sucked and I didn’t want to watch it. Not since Mile 22 have I had a collection of bozos I cared less about. Patrick?  

Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! This film had too little exciting poker action, and a little too much garbage people doing garbage things to each other and making me hate them … you know? Let’s get into it!

P’s View on the Preview – I didn’t have much hope for this film to be honest. Here’s the thing, we always kind of get forced into films in the chain reaction category towards the end of the year. Regardless, I suppose I was most excited for the Costa Rican settings, I want to see those vistas! What were my expectations? Again, low low expectations, but if there could be some thrills and the film didn’t make me hate the main character and gives me something to root for I would have been delighted.

The Good – Not much. I mean, it looks good. They do a lot with the interesting setting. It certainly focuses on a unique subject as far as a film goes. Online gambling doesn’t get much play in Hollywood. I like Affleck and he does a good amount with the role in the end. And he gets his comeuppance. But otherwise it is pretty rote nonsense.

The Bad – JT is genuinely awful and it is kind of no wonder he doesn’t get a lot of leading man roles. He’s a decent second banana, but he isn’t a very good main character. Speaking of which the main character is a garbage person, and I did not care for a moment whether he lived or died. He did so many bad things in the end he kind of deserved everything he was getting. The glorification of these terrible people exploiting gamblers and living glamorous lives in the Central America doesn’t really make a compelling movie in my opinion.

The BMT – Naw screw this movie. I have no intention of ever watching this again. It does have the setting going for it. We would have watched it either way eventually I imagine as it is far and away going to be the best Costa Rica movie ever released. Plus it got actually destroyed by the critics, and it isn’t the worst goal to watch every sub-10% Rotten Tomatoes film ever made … there aren’t really that many of them. Did it meet my expectations? No, JT is a terrible person in this film and I didn’t care if he lived or died. That’s all I wanted with this film and it did the exact opposite.

Roast-radamus – I actually think this has a decent shot at the Bad section of the awards as I think both Jamie and I really didn’t like the film. I initially couldn’t remember a good Product Placement (What?), but then Jamie reminded me that JT guzzles Bud Light throughout which is awesome. I think looking through the rest of the things the only obvious one is Setting (Where?) and honestly it could win it. It is such a Costa Rica film it is amazing. Every country should get such a terrible film made in / about it in my opinion.

StreetCreditReport.com – Incredibly despite being a relatively rare sub-10% Rotten Tomatoes film it gets nary a mention on the year end lists. Only a small dishonorable mention on IndieWire. I would think this is maybe like … the second worst gambling film available. I’m of course referring to 21 as being the worst. It may not have gotten as bad of reviews, but I can assure you it is terrible. It didn’t help that the book that movie is based on (Bringing Down the House) is fantastic, and they just completely throw it out for … again, wait, it just ends up being a weird techno-thriller with a love story. It is the same movie! Two peas in a pod showing the evolution of gambling from Vegas card counting to online fraud … great.

Sklognalysis – Ohhhhhhh shiiiiiiiiiiit. It’s back. You see I have like 40 films to watch over the next few weeks so I couldn’t really be bothered to go with my original plan of watching Rounders. Instead I’ll go through some thoughts I had on thrillers after watching Swimfan and Runner Runner. With Swimfan I was rather upset. You see, in that film a high school student cheats on his girlfriend with a psycho who then proceeds to frame him for murder, dope him with steroids, and generally destroy his life. In Runner Runner you have a greedy garbage person getting stuck in a jam because of his greed and terrible behavior. You see the difference? In Runner Runner the consequences were proportional to the misdeeds of our protagonist. Which made me think of how thrillers like these are often morality tales of a sort. You commit a sin (lust in Swimfan, greed in Runner Runner), you get punished, you find redemption. But the punishment has to be proportional to the crime. You blackmail a family man and bribe some officials, you get framed for drug trafficking in response. You cheat on your girlfriend in high school and … fill in the blank, but the answer isn’t that your friend is killed, you get framed for his murder, and you get doped with steroids to ruin your life … that isn’t proportional, you see? This could, perhaps, be something fairly common in many genres across the board, but thrillers seem the most appropriate. The tension of seeing someone succumb to base desires, acts often left unknown and unpunished, getting punished in a spectacular and terrifying way, and narrowly escaping to find redemption is thrilling. I guess that is where Runner Runner fails … Timberlake doesn’t just succumb to base desires, he dives head first into a pile of money like Scrooge McDuck and just expects to get away with it like a goober. It just makes you feel gross. I’ll leave it at that, but I’ll be looking at other movies for such desires going forward for sure.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs