Tag: Crime

The Gentlemen

Let’s start this review with a little bit of a confession. Later this year we are getting a Kingsman prequel movie called The King’s Man. That makes a lot of sense to be the title of a Kingsmen prequel film. No one should get that confused.

Enter me. Movie reviewer. Reviewer who tries to not watch trailers or too many other notes about films before seeing it. I remember that the Kingsman prequel had a really obvious name for the series, but didn’t remember exactly what.

So, when I saw I had a screening upcoming for The Gentlemen? My mind went only one place. Ah yes, the Kingsman prequel.

And let’s just say, this movie had me pretty confused for about 20 minutes about how the heck this was at all related to those other films. When they started making a lot more modern references and talk about cell phones, I knew I must have just been a dumb fuck at that point. Anyways, that movie comes out in September. This one is an original and it comes out now.

grant
But wait, there’s more!

Mickey Pearson (Matthew McConaughey) is a weed dealer on a grand scale in Great Britain, and he isn’t even a citizen. Damn Americans. He has so much weed, making so much money, no one knows how he does it. Where does he hide his crops?

Well, he wants out of the game. He is getting older, less likely to go killing people and defending his territory. If he can sell out his whole operation to someone else, he will have enough money to retire the rest of his life with his comfy and rich friends.

But a simple idea dealing with illegal things will never be that easy. We have a very good and nosy reporter (Hugh Grant), the owner and operator of a gym for formerly bad people to make them better (Colin Farrell), Pearson’s number 2 man (Charlie Hunnam), and an ambitious Chinese gangster looking to make a break in the business (Henry Golding) that are all going to make things more complicated.

People will turn on everyone if it means survival in the end.

Also starring Jeremy Strong, Michelle Dockerty, Eddie Marsan, and Tom Wu.

swag
Success is always measured in dollars, nothing else.

The Gentlemen is definitely a return to form for Guy Ritchie, and is definitely not a prequel to that one franchise I will stop talking about.

This film felt like his previous great works that people think about when they say Guy Ritchie. Snatch, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, and sure, RocknRolla, This is not like most of his trash from the last decade.

We get twists and turns, hard to understand accents, shocking moments, extra action when necessary, and surprises. A lot of what I said could be considered the same thing, and I don’t care about that.

It was very entertaining, if not hard to follow at the beginning [Editor’s note: That could be because this viewer was a dumbass, see the beginning of the review.] of the film. I did get annoyed at the seemingly excessive racist Asian language that happened at multiple times, although I accept that as bad people going against other bad people, it makes sense for the characters to be…racist. That was hard to type. Still can be frustrating as a viewer.

I give the most praise to Hugh Grant. He went really out of his normal style for this role (except for his general flair for the dramatics that he always carries) and killed it. I also quite enjoyed Farrel and Golding, Golding in particular is on the rise out of seemingly nowhere.

The Gentlemen is just going to be a fun time, with a little bit of death and mayhem.

3 out of 4.

Uncut Gems

Benny Safdie and Josh Safdie (or The Safdie Brothers) released a movie called Good Time in 2017. And it was way better than anyone expected it to be.

Robert Pattinson was a great lead, it was high energy with a banging edge of your seat soundtrack. It made quite a few best of lists and was nominated for some of the more independent film awards.

And yeah, it caught me by surprise, but didn’t elevate itself to my best list. However, I was very intrigued with Uncut Gems, going in knowing nothing about the plot except it was their movie and Adam Sandler starring. After all, Adam Sandler is actually known for acting good in movies he had nothing to do with production or direction. Like The Meyerowitz Stories or Reign Over Me (I haven’t seen Reign Over Me, I’m just assuming).

Bring on the almost Bear Jew.

sandler
This looks like a man who could collect many Nazi scalps. 
I don’t think anyone would disagree that Howard Ratner (Adam Sandler) is a fuck up. Sure, he has his own diamond/jewelry shop in a classy part of NYC and deals with high figures and big clients, lives in a nice fancy house and has a family. But his judgement is questionable.

For one, he owes a lot of money to various people. One guy about $100,000, but smaller amounts to others. He likes to gamble money away in hopes of getting rich. He likes to pawn peoples items to secure funds to gamble them away. Don’t worry, he will pay it back.

Oh, he is going through a divorce with his wife (Idina Menzel) but they are keeping it a secret until after Passover. His new lady (Julia Fox) lives in an apartment with him in the city and works in his store.

But things are finally going to change for Howard. He is getting a package he has waited a long time for in the mail, and Kevin Garnett (Kevin Garnett) is walking in to his shop before a big playoff game. Yep, things might finally start looking up.

Also starring Tommy Kominik, Keith Williams Richards, Eric Bogosian, Jacob Igielski, Jonathan Aranbayev, and of course Lakeith Stanfield.

lakeith
Ah yes, Lakeith, you should be in all of our movies. 
For about two-thirds of the film, I already knew most of my final thoughts. I knew this film made me feel uncomfortable. It made me feel disgusted at points. I was nervous the entire time. And I figured I’d never want to see it again, but I also knew I loved it.

Much like Good Time, once again, the soundtrack has to be experienced with excellent speakers. It almost feels like half the movie. The “action” in this movie is a lot less serious than that in Good Time, but the soundtrack still elevates his stakes and puts us in his ever more and more agonizing shoes.

Sandler is definitely giving it his all in this movie, really diving into the character. Enough to make me forget about Sandler at some point and just think of this crazed diamond dealer. I don’t know if he has ever been better, but I do know this has to be near his best and is worth the agonizing nature of the film.

The level of detail these brothers put into this movie, setting it in a specific period in 2012. The real events, the concerts, the games. I have never cared more about a 7 years ago NBA playoffs match up than this movie, and I was happy I was in a situation where I couldn’t just find out the results of the match on my phone real quick.

Finally, I was wrong with the thoughts I had two-thirds of the way in through this movie. I would totally go through the experience again.

4 out of 4.

Who Killed Garrett Phillips?

Who Killed Garrett Phillips? Is the third out of 3 HBO documentaries about really recent and important court cases involving a dead body. This follows I Love You, Now Die, and Behind Closed Doors.

Clearly the third and final one is removing any sort of clever title behind and getting straight to the point. Garret Phillips is dead, and we have no idea who killed him.

Garrett was a 12 year old boy, son of a single mother and a brother of another boy of similar age. He liked skateboarding. And when he got home alone, at some point someone else was in his house. There was a struggle, a strangle, and eventually when someone can open the door to find him, he is so close to death, he cannot talk and he cannot say who did it.

We know for sure it wasn’t something done on his own, mostly because of a window that was broken out of, where the most likely killer jumped out and ran away. Oh, this all happened right around 5pm in a very white town after school.

deadboy
A story about a dead white kid and I didn’t hear about it sooner?
The main stream media must be slipping.

So who did it? Well, the people who might have been in position to see someone leave the window couldn’t see it, because they came inside due to police presence. It really comes down to one person, according to the local police force. It must be Oral “Nick” Hillary, the local African man! You know, the one who stands out and used to date the mom of Garrett, but they broke up.

And the rest of this documentary, overall a bit over 3 hours, examines the police findings on him and his trial and his defense. And I will be honest, this documentary is extremely compelling on why it wasn’t him and who it likely could have been. It is someone you would imagine really early into it as well, thanks to foreshadowing, before they go out and say it, and it seems like a huge injustice in the world.

This is very dense and full of important information on the trial, but not 8 hour miniseries on Netflix dense. This is a good amount of dense.

I am shocked to not hear about it earlier, and honestly, it made me feel outraged and a little bit scared. And as of right now THEY STILL DON”T KNOW WHO DID IT. Fuck. No wonder this true crime stuff is addicting. It is teasing you up the whole time and no release. Erm.

4 out of 4.

I Love You, Now Die: The Commonwealth v. Michelle Carter

Sometimes a court case comes along that captures the attention of America, either because of how terrible it is, or how silly it is. OJ was the case of the century in the 1900’s. We had the Hot Coffee case that the media ran away with and influenced the public about, without going into the real details surrounding the case. We have courtroom drama shows, courtroom drama movies.

We love the law, but we we love it when people break the law and do bad things to have this drama.

I Love You, Now Die looks at a recent case of which you most definitely heard about and have a strong reaction to. Two teens, one dead boy. Suicide. And on his phone, dozens of text messages for him to kill himself from his girlfriend, including maybe telling him to get back into his truck which was how he eventually went out, when he was having second thoughts.

Have you heard it? I bet you have. And from that, we were all thinking the same thing. “That Bitch!”

However, media blurbs and unresearched news might be the real story here.

nowdie
That’s the woman who you are calling a bitch.

The 24/7 news media cycle is constantly going, constantly searching for clicks and ad revenue, because the newspaper is dying. So anything to get people to click your site is great, anything juicy or disturbing. And yes, the facts about this case are disturbing. The outcome of the death is disturbing.

But what about the history? What about the years before that July 12th, 2014 moment? What is the greater context?

This documentary is in 2 parts, overall over two hours long. The first part goes over the case against Michelle Carter, what was argued in court, the texts, and all of that. The second part focuses on the defense, using the same evidence, the same laws, to argue something very different. And of course the second part includes verdicts, reasoning, and the appeals.

And you know what? This documentary reminded me about Hot Coffee. I went into Hot Coffee thinking one thing, and left with a new opinion. Documentaries that can effectually change your opinions are a magical lamp of desire. Most of the time, I either watch because I agree, or disagree and hate it the whole time.

In attempts to remain unbiased, they didn’t have a voiceover reading texts, adding inflections or sarcasm or anything. So there is a lot of reading of the text messages between Carter and the boyfriend and other people involved.

The only reason I am not giving it a 4/4 is because in their attempts to stay unbiased, they got really biased at parts. During some of the text exchanges, they had somewhat scary background images. The faces of the couples distorted, with lots of distortion and strange background music. It made those aspects feel clearly a lot more “evil” versus the more generic backgrounds used throughout most of it.

This documentary does such an amazing job of showing both sides equally and fairly, it is a bit sad to see it mess up a few times on those details.

Either way, this is an important documentary, and one that reminds us to check things out and not just take a shitty news article for face value.

3 out of 4.

Miss Bala

January being known as a dumping ground for films, so does that include February 1st? I mean, that is barely out of the month, most of the previous week is there!

Miss Bala is actually not an original film, but a remake of a 2011 film of the same name from Mexico. It looks like from casting and rough plot that they aren’t trying to change much, given the lead. This is what I would say is potentially a good example of a time to remake a foreign film. Why? Because I had not heard of the original.

Not that I, Gorgon Reviews, is the final say of what can be made in movies, but remaking something that was met with a lot of critical acclaim and famous is silly. If it is already great and well known, why bother? The things we should be remaking are the films that didn’t do well, or didn’t have a strong word of mouth. Because that means something may have actually gone wrong, and it could be improved on with a new version.

It is a smart way to not worry about comparisons. But for some reason, companies rarely do this, as they’d rather just rely on name recognition to make that money, good or bad. Oh well.

Also, the original Miss Bala did actually reach critical acclaim, but it just wasn’t seen by most of the world.

Pose
This doesn’t look like its in the middle of action, it looks incredibly posed.

This is not a movie about a girl named Bala, but instead a girl named Gloria (Gina Rodriguez), just like that other movie, Gloria. She works in LA as a make up artist, for models and sometimes celebrities, so she is pretty good. And she uses her talents for her friends, like her friend Suzu ( Cristina Rodlo). Suzu lives in Tijuana, which Gloria used to live in for a bit, but always feels a bit weird there. Judged for being an American and not perfect at Spanish.

Suzu is going into a pageant show for Miss Baja California (I have to assume Mexico pronounces it as Bala… and that is where the title comes from. Or its a Spanish pun that doesn’t translate to this film, who the hell knows), and Gloria is going to make her look good.

Unfortunately, the night before auditions really begin, they go to a nightclub to try to get an in with the owner and some dudes with guns bust in looking to kill. Gloria loses sight of her friend when running to safety, and has to spend the night worrying about her safety, since she cant seem to find her any hospitals. And when Gloria goes for help, she ends up getting kidnapped by the gun men who did the shooting, putting her life, her body, and her friend potentially at risk. But…are they really the bad guys?

Also starring Damián Alcázar, Ricardo Abarca, Ismael Cruz Cordova, and Anthony Mackie.

Money
They are trying to sell this movie on sex and dollars, yo.

Miss Bala is a film with a lot of twists and decisions for the main character. Sometimes too many twists can make a film feel annoying, because at a certain point, you don’t believe the twists any more and you just want it to get to the end to be done. One way to combat the twist fatigue is to have only two outcomes overall, so each twist just makes the viewer change sides. That way you cannot get overwhelmed, which seems to be the strategy with this movie. However, the twists feel extra pointless, because with only two sides, the stakes are low and it is still relatively easy to guess how the whole thing ends up.

If I had to say something nice, I liked that it featured a setting not traditionally given to women led films. It was definitely HER movie and her making a lot of decisions. Now, from these decisions, the audience can get quite annoyed with them and maybe even think they are poor, but they do seem to match the character and make sense for her. For the most part. It also didn’t solve all of its problems with violence. There was some smart moves in there, and a lot of panicked thinking. But this is not a gun toting heroine who is going to rid Tijuana of the cartel influence.

Despite all of that, this film doesn’t go too many new places. All of the side characters are still cardboard cutouts for the eventual resolution of the plot to unfold.

The ending itself is pretty silly and seemingly tries to set up something that no one would want, in a situation that would not happen. Overall, Miss Bala will probably easily find an American audience that loves it, but it still feels rather January.

2 out of 4.

American Animals

American Animals only came up on my radar because the company sent me a link. I almost didn’t watch it. I accidentally had free time because I didn’t feel like leaving the house to watch Incredible 2.

I didn’t know the cast, the story, or anything.

I just knew the shitty title. I haven’t been a big fan of movies American in the front. There are a ton. At this point it lacks any amount of originality. I am not saying that the title makes me hate the film while watching it, but it does make me annoyed. It makes me lose interest before I even start it, which is why I almost decided to skip this film.

And occasionally, I can forgive the film if the title matters.

Old Men
I cannot even confirm all four of these old men are American! Show me your papers!

This story mainly centers around two individuals, Warren Lipka (Evan Peters) and Spencer Reinhard (Barry Keoghan). We are supposed to believe that these friends have are really different people. Warren is more outgoing and reckless. Spencer is reserved and good-natured. Once Spencer met Warren he got into more trouble, but whatever, they are just kids.

And now Spencer is at college, at Transylvania University, hoping to become an artist some day. And while on tour, he is taken with a crowd to the special rare books department, and he sees The Birds of America by John James Audubon, a large book full of very detailed paintings of, well, American birds. And it is incredibly rare and worth millions. So are other books in this tiny room in a library.

Once he mentions this to Warren, Warren wants to steal it. Why not? They just need to get a buyer ahead of time, and work on a plan. It isn’t a very security heavy area, no one would expect it, they could probably get away with it and get super rich. They have to overall bring in two others, Eric Borsuk (Jared Abrahamson) and Chas Allen (Blake Jenner) as their getaway driver. And then they can work on being infamous. Or at least infamous enough to get a movie made about them.

Also starring Ann Dowd as the rare book collections librarian and Udo Kier as mysterious man. Oh, and the real four thieves, narrating the story and telling their point of views as they recall the events.

Gotyasucker
We know they get caught because we know this story exists.

I loved American Animals. It was captivating, and despite knowing the eventual outcome, it was thrilling nonetheless. And of course, the title technically fit the film, but I can’t help they still chose it because they thought American sounded cool like the other movies.

A lot of the time having the real people involved in the picture means bad news. Did you see Act of Valor or The 15:17 to Paris? Both dreadful. But the real culprits of this act were not acting, they were just telling their story. They added a documentary element to this story, making it a sort of hybrid. Having them tell the story, disagree with each other, changing how the story played out was fun. Also adding in the elements of who can you trust from these various point of views was very well done and added a more ominous tone by the end.

Our actors who played the crew did a very good job, displaying appropriate amounts of angst and fear and young stupidity. I was definitely shocked and a bit afraid during the actual heist, heart pumping and on the edge of my seat.

American Animals took a real story, framed it in a unique way, and created suspense in a story where we already knew the outcome. Needless to say, this film surprised me in all the best ways. It makes since that it was directed by Bart Layton, who has only done documentaries in the past, most famously The Imposter, an amazing documentary.

4 out of 4.

Gringo

Gringo had something funny occur with their PR screening ahead of time. Our screening wasn’t until the week of release, like normal, but they actually sent out the real invite for it over a month early. Now, normally, these invites are a week to two max early. If any earlier, we get save the date notes or whatever to let you know it is coming up, but this was just the regular invite to respond to for RSVP purposes.

So of course I accepted, and the only reason it is much later a review is because I was sick that day, couldn’t go, and had to watch it weeks later in the theaters. I wanted to see Gringo, it looked fun, and sure, it had a plug on The Joel McHale Show with Joel McHale. Let that be a lesson for you, advertising can work. Why else would I still be using old spice body wash every day?

Gringo has an interesting name, given what I think I know what it means, and that we had a film awhile ago called Get The Gringo, which was also a bit better than anticipated. I had high hopes for Gringo given it setting, its very fun looking cast, and of course, because of Mr. Copley adding his own weird style.

WHich One
Which one is the gringo though, really?

Our story is about Harold Soyinka (David Oyelowo), a man who never can catch a break. He has a high job in a pharmaceutical company,but he isn’t rolling in the dough like the people in the higher levels. His wife (Thandie Newton) is an interior decorator, but only has one client and is bleeding their money. His boss (Joel Edgerton), is a hardass, a dickwad, and all of the body parts between those two. But he makes that money, he is good friends with Harold, and he got him the job in the first place.

Harold has to work and travel to Mexico frequently for their job, where they have the pharmaceutical factory set up. They are making a weed pill, so to speak, so that when America starts lifting those bans, they will have the product and infrastructure in place to take advantage of the now open market.

Because we are talking about drugs and Mexico, it should be obvious that the Cartel is also involved. Harold doesn’t know about that of course, he is a good guy, but when dealing with his boss’s mistakes, he is about to see how little he matters in the grand scheme of events.

Also starring Carlos Corona, Alan Ruck, Kenneth Choi, Sharlto Copley, Charlize Theron, Melonie Diaz, Amanda Seyfried, Harry Treadaway, and Yul Vazquez.

GOT HIM
Ooooh, looks like they finally GOT THE GRINGO! Oh, wrong movie. Sorry.

Gringo is an example of a story with a lot of separate plot lines amongst the characters, where no one character is sure of what is actually going on, and all the chaos that occurs from these miscommunications and lies. But also, with death, violence, and comedy. So yeah, going for a Taratino film feel.

Out of all the many cast members, the only one to really shine is our star, Oyelowo, who seems to have perfected that scream freak out look that he gets to do over and over in the film as he continues to get shit upon. Because that is the movie. Bad things happening to his character, despite being a relatively good guy, and him never getting out of his situation.

If you hate crazy plot lines, you still might enjoy it for Oyelowo’s performance, where he seemed to show a different side of him. A more excited side, compared to more of his very serious roles recently.

The movie did feel quite long, given the twists and turns along the way. And hey, I didn’t know where it was going most of the time. So it was a surprising thrill ride that did still have me on the edge of my seat. A lot of bad people in this one, and one guy to root for. A good classic film position to be in.

Give Gringo a shot, at least just once.

3 out of 4.

Death Wish

I don’t know a lot about Death Wish. I didn’t see the original, and the story doesn’t sound interesting. The plot of the film is the type that just promises to be a gory kill fest.

But I have seen a decent amount of Eli Roth‘s work, the director of this remake. He is all over the place when it comes to horror, and I will say that I think The Green Inferno is entirely too messed up. I had to pause it several times because of how graphic it was, so I entirely expected this to be just as graphic.

And their choice to put Lord Voldemort as a bad guy makes sense as well.

Car
Tom Riddle could use a finger gun.

Paul Kersey (Bruce Willis) is a relatively successful surgeon in Chicago. He has to surgery a lot of different people, and a lot of them are shot up. Apparently Chicago has a lot of gun violence, who knew! He has a wife (Elisabeth Shue) and a daughter, (Camilla Morrone), about to go to college at the end of her senior year. In NYC. Ugh.

Unfortunately, there is something foul afoot in Chicago. A string of burglaries in their neighborhood that wasn’t super announced. They find out that the family is supposed to be out one night celebrating a birthday, but an emergency at the hospital cancels their plans. Now the burglars end up going into a home that isn’t actually going to be empty, leading to some issues. More gun shots, more pain, more death.

Obvious bad things happen, putting Paul into a spin. He begins to question everything. He wants to clean up the streets, since he feels that the cops cannot find the criminals until something lucky, maybe happens. So he gets a gun, and he decides to do a little bit of vigilante justice instead.

Also starring Vincent D’Onofrio, Dean Norris, Kimberly Elise, Beau Knapp, and Jack Kesy.

Hoodie
See, if it was a black man in a hoodie, he couldn’t even pretend to be a vigilante without getting shot.

On the surface level, Death Wish is probably a very average, regular, action movie. At no point is it a great action movie, a well thought out action movie, or even an exciting action movie. Just an average one. And normally average regular films get a 2 out of 4.

But you know what, some things really irked me. One, it never really got to a level of violence you would expect from Roth. It was probably tamer than the original in some regards, which is a shock since this one is at least rated R.

Willis as a surgeon never felt believable. His quiet reserved dad look never felt believable. Nor did his awkward transition to a vigilante. This was not a great role for Willis at all, if we wanted it to seem possible. No one really stood out as great acting in the film.

After the “auto mechanic scene”, the movie also went down hill from an entertainment point of view. It felt awkward, forced, and just not good.

And maybe a part of this is just based on the current political climate, one that definitely does not want or need people with guns running around. The movie was incessant about having radio talk show hosts talk about the vigilante (who listens to that much radio?) way too much in the movie. And every time they talked, the same things were said. That was their way of seeming cool and modern I guess, like when characters use emojis.

I guess that after we arm the school teachers, it just makes sense that we start arming the doctors too. The people who should be saving lives needing to take them. Shrug. Bleh. Pass.

1 out of 4.

Roman J. Israel, Esq.

Director Dan Gilroy did something amazing a few years back. He directed for the first time a feature length film. That film was Nightcrawler. And Nightcrawler was bananas good. I am disappointed I did not see it in theaters and I am disappointed it did not win things.

He quickly became a director to watch out for.

This last year, Roman J. Israel, Esq. came out with little fanfair. Very little advertisement, was barely on screens. I did not feel like watching it because of the mixed reviews and figured I could just wait until it was on DVD. Then it had to go and get nominated for an Oscar.

Just one Oscar mind you, an acting one. And it makes sense, because the star who was nominated has been nominated plenty of times, the Academy loves him, even on roles that do not warrant awards. That is when I found out who the director was, once again, kicking myself for not seeing it earlier in theaters.

All good now. It is out, it has been seen, and it is not as good as Nightcrawler.

Baller
But it is certainly more funky.

Roman J. Israel, Esq (Denzel Washington), is a lawyer. He doesn´t go into the court room to grandstand and holler. He is a guy who works in the office. William Jackson is his partner. Jackson handles the courtroom drama and is a professor. Israel handles the memos, gets the ideas, writes the briefs. He is really good at that.

You see, Israel is probably autistic, has a perfect memory of law codes and knows what argument to make and what precedents exist. He just cannot deal with people for the most part. When he sees an injustice he has to comment on it and explain it, which can cause him ire with other workers and judges.

And then Jackson suffers a heart attack, has a coma, and leaves a lot in question. Israel starts to working the cases, not looking for deals and not wanting to delay things further. But Jackson´s daughter becomes the owner of his estate and is looking to liquidate everything, knowing Israel cannot do it on his own.

This brings Israel to a real firm, run by George Pierce (Colin Farrell), who is maybe a good guy, maybe not. Either way, it is change. Change is hard. Change can do a lot to man. It can even make a man go against his morals, thinking his life has lead him to the bottom. It can make a man go against everything he has fought for, just for a quick payout. It can lead to a man becoming his own worst enemy.

Also starring Carmen Ejogo and Amari Cheatom.

Hair
And perhaps, binders of women? Hmm?

Gilroy probably starts his movie ideas thinking of a character who is very passionate about something. In Nightcrawler, that passion is being a sociopath who will do anything to get to the top. In Roman J. Israel Esq., we have someone who has a perfect memory and is autistic who is afraid of coming out of the shadows. He wants to fight for human rights and for equality, but he always had to help other people do the talking for him. An extremely moral man who when put up against tragic events, unfortunately, turned into an immoral man.

An interesting character study and a relatively fun character. It is definitely something different for Washington, who never once felt like a badass in this film. A great surprise for all of us.

I think the biggest problems with this film come from the ending. It brought a great twist of events to us and it just did not seem to follow through. I thought it was ramping up to turn into an almost completely different genre, but instead it petered out. If this was based on true events it could be a fun movie as there is at least some conclusions after the fact that we can see. But to bring about these ground breaking ideas and then do nothing with them? The film just runs out of steam.

Again, Washington is totally find in this movie. I can see why it was nominated, while also still wanting to give nominations to several other actors above him.

The film is better than I imagined it could be, but several parts will easily turn other watchers off and possibly lower their overall opinion accordingly.

3 out of 4.

Brawl in Cell Block 99

Brawl in Cell Block 99 is a great title. It is descriptive, while also leaving enough mystery to make you wonder. It highlights a single fight, which means it is a fight that should stand out in a movie that probably has a lot of fights. And it just has good letters. Those B’s are powerful, not a lot of B’S in movies lately, let alone multiple Bs.

This is brought to us by S. Craig Zahler, who gave us Bone Tomahawk recently. It was well known and received for being a slow, well acted western, with also one really gross death scene that really rattled people.

And this one is about prison! I am sure it will be perfectly quaint, although, not your average action film. Its run time is over two hours, so it better have a lot of story to tell in between punches.

Not99
This is not the titular brawl, just the Brawl in the Prison Yard.

Bradley Thomas (Vince Vaughn) is an honest working man, a bit of a tall muscular freak, but hard working. He is a tow driver, which makes below average pay. But he has been fired from that. And at home, he found out his wife, Lauren (Jennifer Carpenter), was cheating on him. He deals with his anger the only way he knows, and not on her. They agree to work through it, to go for a baby, and Bradley will go back to being a drug dealer (not a user), where his size and strength can come in handy.

And now, a year and a half later, everything is fine! They have a bigger house, a baby girl on the way, life is looking up!

Until Bradley gets a job he does not want to do. The thugs involved with the deal look like users. They look like no good people who will try and kill and steal and put him in the line of fire. He agrees reluctantly only because if he does that he will get three months off paid once his baby is born. See, even if the drug business has better parental leave than the USA!

Bradley takes the deal, things go south, and sure, Bradley is in prison. He is blamed for the deal going south of course, so he is told that unless he kills another prisoner, they will get someone to perform a very late term abortion on his wife, and his not yet born baby girl will, well, stay that way. The only issue is, this guy is in a much more extreme prison, so he has to “earn” his way there by going against his own morals and code and hurting people to save the ones he loves.

Also starring Dan Amboyer, Don Johnson, Geno Segers, Marc Blucas, Tom Guiry, and Udo Keir.

Prison
This is not the titular brawl, this isn’t a brawl at all!

While watching Brawl in Cell Block 99, I had two main thoughts: One, when are we getting to this brawl that they needed to emphasize in the title? and two, Vaughn is really carrying this power and weight in this role. I was intimidated by him and awed by him. They made his character smart, strong, and oddly moral. When you expected domestic violence, you got instead a calm rational human, who didn’t even yell. It was odd and satisfying.

Anyways, there are a handful of action scenes pre-brawl to entertain those who ned punching. Of course some of that is just people straight up beating up one person, some of it is Vaughn seeming like a super hero.

Okay okay, at this point I am stalling. Once the brawl started to happen, it got really tense as it first had to involve a breakout attempt. Watching our moral character beat up guards at a level of realizing he is doing wrong, trying not to hurt them too bad, while also doing it for his wife and unborn girl. And then the actual part that matters, well I HAD TO STOP WATCHING ONCE IT STARTED. IT GOT REALLY INTENSE, REALLY QUICKLY AND I COULD ONLY GAG AND COUGH AND SHRIEK TO MYSELF. After that, it wasn’t that bad BUT IT STILL GOT REALLY INTENSE.

I had to type in caps there to properly show just how freaked out this movie got very quickly. It ramped up several notches, and frankly I wasn’t ready for it. The high rating isn’t just for those scenes, but for the whole build up, for seemingly telling a unique story in a familiar location, and just how strong Vaughn was in it.

I should have known what I was getting into with the director, and next time I won’t be caught unawares. After all, the next film is called Dragged Across Concrete, which is extremely descriptive and I am already gagging in anticipation.

4 out of 4.