Tag: Denzel Washington

The Little Things

The Little Things, if I do say so, was probably the most hyped up movie coming out in January, 2021. Sometimes it is hard to say that with certain, but for movies that hit theaters and online at the same time, I think I saw more advertisements for this on social media than any other movie this month. Heck, I was excited to see it. But the more ads, the worse some of them look.

For example, most ads ended up looking something like this. Great, cool, advertising the three leads, looks suspenseful, that is what it is going for.

But I also saw an ad like this for Cinemark. In teacher land, sometimes we ask questions to get students to discuss, usually “What do you notice, what do you wonder?” And well, I found the Cinemark ad odd, given that it focused on two thirds of the leads, leaving out the one who happens to be black.

Is it to highlight academy awards? I hope not, because Denzel has two for acting, compared to the others having one each. (And arguably those single Oscars are pretty debatable for each of their roles). It is just something I notice and wonder. You know. The Little Things.

Yes, yes, I was in Suicide Squad. Please, please. No Autographs.

Joe ‘Deke’ Deacon (Denzel Washington) is small town sheriff far outside of the city of LA, working where things are calm most of the time, but still good at his job. He is asked by his superior to head to the city though, to pick up some evidence they have for a case.

Turns out, Deke used to work at that same precinct about 5 years back before an incident. He became transferred from the area, and accepted his new life of solitude. He does minimal snooping around, because he’d prefer to be there and out and not stay and hang with his former coworkers. But, there is an interesting new case. And Jim Baxer (Rami Malek), a young hot shot detective who wears suits and has a family and charisma, who got the job with Deke being ousted. Jim just finds Deke interesting and wants his input.

There’s a serial killer afoot it turns out. They might have a live witness too. And some bearings of the kills and bodies might be connected to what Deke was investigating years earlier.

So of course, Deke puts in some vacation days and decides to hang out longer. He will find this guy, damn it. Also they think it is a person played by Jared Leto.

Also starring Chris Bauer, Michael Hyatt, Sofia Vassilieva, and Terry Kinney.

Don’t cross the tape they say. Don’t murder they say.
Acting. Acting is important. And the advertisements for this film really wanted to make sure you knew that for the main three roles of this movie we had three academy award winners for acting. That way the viewer can walk up and go, “Hot damn, look at all that acting talent, I am in!” at the theaters or, more likely, on HBO Max.

And sure enough, Washington, Malek, and Leto, act pretty darn good. Washington doesn’t just play a serious good cop, you can tell he is also obsessive and willing to skirt the law. Malek normally plays more serious characters, or friendly characters, I don’t think I’ve seen him play the young hot shot charismatic type before. (Yes, this is very different than Freddie Mercury). Leto just has to play a mysterious and smart normal person who may or may not be a serial killer. Seems like that is in Leto’s normal wheelhouse.

So if you want to see two hours of some cop drama and investigating with some pros (mostly Denzel is the driving force here), then sure, go for it.

But damn do I hate the overall plot and final act of this movie. It throws in some surprising (ish) moments and it leaves some things up in the air, but not in a satisfying way. Prisoners, for example, was a long cop drama, with questionable actions along the way, with an ending that wasn’t fully explained or finished, but still extremely satisfying and fulfilling at the same time. This ending feels hollow and absent. This ending doesn’t make me want to see the movie again. It just leaves me disappointed.

And you don’t want to leave a movie feeling unfulfilled and disappointed, even if the acting was top notch. Jut the mystery wasn’t worth the time.

2 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.

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.

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.

The Magnificent Seven

I didn’t watch The Magnificent Seven before now, because it is from one of the studios that I don’t get invites to. But despite that, I did WANT to see it, and then never got out to the theaters. And now it has been out for awhile and I still dicked around.

My bad. I wanted to see the movie because yes, I knew the story. It is a remake. But I liked a lot of the actors involved and wanted to give it a shot. A whole lot of shots. A village full of shots.

Basically now I just find myself in a gun mood, and want to watch fake cowboys shoot other fake cowboys. They have theme parks with that theme.

Let’s see…One…two…three…uhh, um…yeah seven. Looks like seven people here.

In the late 1800s, the town of Rose Creek is getting besieged! Or maybe just hoodwinked a little. A big time robber dude, Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard), is trying to buy out an entire mining town for his own profits. He is not giving them a good deal, using threats and intimidation and actually killing to get his way.

So Emma Cullen (Haley Bennett) and her friend (Luke Grimes) go out in search of help, eventually finding a warrant officer, Sam Chisolm (Denzel Washington). He doesn’t want to until he hears about Bogue, which causes him to agree and start looking for other people to join his crew.

We got a gambler (Chris Pratt), a Mexican outlaw (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo), a Comanche warrior (Martin Sensmeier), a tracker (Vincent D’Onofrio), a guy good with knifes (Byung-hun Lee), and of course a famed sharpshooter (Ethan Hawke).

Needless to say, they don’t have a lot of people. But they have some townsfolk, who are miners and farmers. Their lead villager (Matt Bomer) is pretty good too. If they set up defenses, put the towns people in easy areas to defend, they can probably stop a pretty big force of asshole outlaws from taking over. But it is a gun fight, so some people are going to get scared, and a lot of people are going to die.

Also starring Jonathan Joss in pretty intimidating role.

Main 2
With lights that bright, there must be an angel or something in that corner.

The point of The Magnificent Seven is to watch some famous people act like cowboys, shoot each other, hopefully have some really cool skillful tactics, and be a bit enjoyable. And sure, it did feel pretty enjoyable.

I know I was hoping for a lot more to happen during the final siege. Or maybe a secondary skirmish after the initial one to give us more shenanigans. The big siege just didn’t live up to my expectations and hype. Some cool moments, sure, and I cared what happened to the characters, but it was just overall a little bit disappointed.

The good news is with a diverse cast of characters, it plays out like an RPG. Everyone has their own little bit of plot and characterization, it isn’t just 3 people and 4 “guys who shoot good” or anything. No, they said these seven people were magnificent, so they made them all really talented and different. Which is another major point of this film.

But you know what? It ended with a narrator describing their story and referring to them as magnificent, then credits. My eyes physically left my head to do a bigger roll at that moment. It is so…dumb. Just ugh.

Hopefully there is no sequel to this movie, but hey, just give me another reboot and do it better and I will be happy.

2 out of 4.


I do love it when a play becomes a film, assuming the play is a good one of course. I am a huge fan of dialogue, and plays usually give me good dialogue.

But what about a play I actually know? I don’t own a lot of plays, but I do own Fences. I never read the whole thing, but I had to read parts of it for a college level drama class. And the parts and themes that I saw I really enjoyed. So needless to say, I was pretty excited to see this coming out as a film.

And here is an even bigger reason to get excited. This play was actually given a revival in 2010 on Broadway, starring…Denzel Washington and Viola Davis! They both straight up won Tony awards for their portrayals. That means this film is them reprising a role they already kicked ass at, for the world to enjoy, six years later. That is pretty darn gosh nice of them.

And here are some other cast members because it is awfully hard to find pictures of anyone else.

Set in the 1950’s, we get to meet Troy Maxson (Denzel Washington) and his friend, Jim Bono (Stephen Henderson), getting done with work. It is Friday, pay day, they work on the back of a garbage truck, and Troy might be getting fired for asking about why no black men get to drive the garbage trucks.

But Friday means pay day, and drinking day, so it is a good day. Even when his old son Lyons (Russell Hornsby) comes to visit to borrow money. Even when his wife, Rose (Viola Davis) gives him an occasional hard time. Even when his son, Cory (Jovan Adepo) is seemingly throwing away his future by wanting to go to college for sports instead of getting a real job.

And his poor older brother, Gabe (Mykelti Williamson), who went off to World War II and got injured. Now Gabe has a metal plate in his head, isn’t all there, and receives a government check.

Nah, but Troy loves his life. No reason to mess it up, people respect him, and he will live out the rest of his life care free, assuming he ever shuts up.

Also featuring Saniyya Sidney.

And I didn’t even talk about the fence.

For those that didn’t know Fences was based on a play, I’d hope they’d realize in the first ten minutes. Characters just hanging out in the back yard, telling stories, giving long lines, and talking, talking, talking. For those who hate excessive dialogue, you will not enjoy this movie.

Not all play movies feel like a play, but this one certainly does. Over 90% of the film takes place in or around a single house, with characters walking in and out. I was a bit surprised how many different cuts and angles they threw into the film. These are people who have rehearsed these roles and done them many times over, so they could have done entire scenes in one long go, but Washington decided to embrace the movie aesthetic and let us get emotional shots and not just artistic long shots.

Acting of course was amazingly good. Washington gets nominated for Best Actor all the time, and honestly, I wouldn’t mind if he won it again. Casey Affleck for Manchester By The Sea is the favorite I believe, and either of them would be totally worthy of the big prize given their performances. And Washington wasn’t the only good part. Davis is a virtual lock for Best Supporting Actress.

But Henderson and Williamson also were pretty damn good, with a bit more limited screen time. Henderson also was in the Broadway version, so it is nice to see him still acting well. Fun Fact: Henderson was ALSO in Manchester By The Sea. Williamson did amazing as Gabe, a special needs character, but also you might remember him as Bubba from Forrest Gump. Apparently that is just a talent of his.

Fences is emotional and deals with a lot of themes. Despite being set 60 years ago, they all still resonate today. Troy is a terrible person and character, but at the same time, it all just seems to make sense given his upbringing. The Sins Of The Father trope is a strong one in stories, but it is illustrated excellently in this story an instant classic.

4 out of 4.

2 Guns

With The Smurfs 2 and 2 Guns releasing on the same day, I thought I would be clever and do a joint review called “Smurf 2 Guns.” Get it? Hilarious! Too bad Entertainment Weekly beat me to the scoop. Sigh. I will beat those guys one of these days, I swear.

Because of that, instead, we get a regular movie review! Hooray! I will jump right on in.

Running Away
With two stars at their finest, we hope.
Bobby Trench (Denzel Washington) and Michael Stigman (Mark Wahlberg) are about to rob a bank.

Let’s back up. These individuals are working for Mexican Cartel Kingpin, Papi Greco (Edward James Olmos). They just traded him 500 Passports in exchange for $100,000 in Cocaine, but he gave them cash instead. Lame. Now in order to take him down, they will have to rob a bank with his safety deposit box. In that box, there will be $3 million or so in cash that they can use for tax evasion charges, or something. Wait what, take him down?

Let’s back it up again. Bobby is secretly DEA, working undercover to bring Papi Greco in to authorities. He has been working on this case for three years, but his boss is about to pull the plug, and the only one who trusts him is his on again / off again secret lover Deb (Paula Patton), another supervisor.

Stig secretly works for the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. Yes, trust me, that’s a thing. You may be aware of its acronym, NCIS. Why is the Navy doing any sort of investigation into a Mexican Drug Lord, and in Texas? Don’t ask me. Don’t ask Stig either. He is just listening to orders from his superior, Quince (James Marsden).

However, after they rob the bank, they find more than $3 million waiting for them. In fact, there is over $40 million in the small town bank. Damn. Something isn’t right. When they try to reveal their actual identities right after, nothing goes right, and they are left on their own to find out just what the heck is going on. Things take an even bigger turn for the worse when the mysterious Earl (Bill Paxton) shows up in town, questioning just about everyone as to where HIS money ended up.

Upside Down Guys
2 guns. 2 guys. 2 ropes. If you get what I am sayin’.
2 Guns is billed mostly as an action comedy, a genre made very apparent from the trailer. A lot of nice one liners and wise cracks. Good show. While the action element is certainly there, the comedy element is incredibly light and sporadic in the actual movie. Wahlberg’s character makes a few jokes early on, but they quickly seem to disappear once all the betrayal starts. Heck, I found Paxton’s character to be the most humorous, but that was only because he was mysterious and a cowboy.

Speaking of characters, the secondary cast members weren’t used very well. Paxton (as I just described) was at least a bit interesting. The fact that James Marsden is in this movie almost feels like an oversight, with no real reasons for a big star to be in that roll. They also reduced the CIA to mere money hungry meanieheads, without any real explanation at all. In fact, the NCIS, DEA, and entire US government is seen as corrupt and inept, for no real reason at all.

In terms of plot, it is all over the place. They tried (very little) to explain why Stig was even investigating Papi in the first place, but it didn’t make any sense. The actual scene itself was quick too, just in case you wanted to understand the plot.

So half of the movie I am confused, trying to figure out how any of it makes sense. When they did finally explain why it didn’t make any sense, their actual reasons feel unacceptable.

Not a spoiler, but someone was pulling the strings secretly behind all of it, and set them up to rob a larger amount of money than they expected. Surprise surprise. But given how long these men have been working their posts, there is really no way anyone could have orchestrated any of the events that would lead them to rob a bank, without other people finding out.

The factual details are also out of whack. I could only shake my head during the “break into the navy base” scene. It felt comical, in the bad way, how little they cared about accuracy with it.

I initially thought I would forget about 2 Guns in a few months. Now I might forget about it within 2 weeks.

1 out of 4.


At this point, if you mention Robert Zemeckis around movie people you will probably see a strong positive reaction. After all, he brought directed Back To The Future, Forrest Gump, and Cast Away.

So when news came out of his new movie, Flight, one of his first R rated picture which he claims will be his darkest movie ever, it obviously had a lot of hype.

I got this
“Uhh, we seem to be turning. Yep. Gravity is a bitch.”

The hype doesn’t die with the trailer, which makes it seem pretty amazing and dramatic. A pilot, Whip Whitaker (Denzel Washington) is able to use his instincts to crash land a plane with very few casualties. Not only that, but the same conditions were run with different pilots in simulators, and each and every one of them crashed and burned. Whip Whitaker is a hero! However, he had some alcohol in his system, so he might be facing legal trouble. The trailer makes it seem like this is a story about a hero who is being used as a scapegoat by a big corporation, despite saving almost a hundred lives!

Turns out the trailer is very misleading. The movie earns its R rating right away by giving not only full frontal female nudity, but also cocaine use. Whip Whitaker is not only an alcoholic, but an illegal drug user and cigarette smoker to boot. He was very unfit to fly, but it was still not the cause of the eventual accident.

Instead of a false manhunt, this movie is more about doing whatever possible to protect the pilot from getting reprimanded, despite the serious problems in his life. After the crash he decides to quit drinking, bu that only lasts about a day. He feels sorry for himself and pushes away the ones he loves. This movie also features John Goodman as his dealer/best friend, Don Cheadle as his criminal attorney, Bruce Greenwood as his union representative, Nadine Velazquez as a flight attendant, and Kelly Reilly as a heroin addict he meets in the hospital.

Court Room
Band aids are the classiest facial accessory you can bring to a hearing.

Outside of the misleading trailer, the rest of the movie was a big “meh” fest. There was a lot of religious talk in the film, because that is usually what happens after a large disaster. However, the entire focus of the movie is on Whip and his drinking problem. That is literally the only thing people care about (and only because of the legal trouble he faces). Once again, drinking becomes the worst thing to ever a person can do, while completely ignoring his smoking and cocaine use. A similar point was driven home with Seven Psychopaths, but at least then it was in a hilarious way.

Personally, I don’t drink at all, never have, never really plan to. Just never had an interest. I get annoyed when it seems the majority of my friends prefer to drink in every possible social setting, but hey, it’s their choice and I will fight for their right to. The movie is actually a giant walking ad for AA, which I also feel is one of the worst transgressors of Separation of Church and State in America. The 12 step programs all feature acknowledging one’s own weaknesses and putting your life in a higher power.

The film also had a problem in that the ending was entirely predictable as soon as they first went to an AA meeting halfway through the movie. I knew how the hearing would play out, and no longer cared about the him as he continued to dig himself into a hole. Denzel Washington did however act amazingly in this movie, it just wasn’t enough to justify the over two hour propaganda fest that I had to sit through.

2 out of 4.

Safe House

Wooo, action movies.

With a fantastic title like Safe House, how could it be bad?

Ryan Reynolds' House Safe
This is a cheap trick. Dude wasn’t even the bad part of the movie.

Even though I watched this film a few hours ago, I feel like I forgot a lot of the plot. Whoops.

Well Denzel Washington! He is a bad man! He used to work for the CIA, but awhile back became an international criminal instead. Apparently sold a lot of secrets too. After getting some secret files from an MI6 agent, Liam Cunningham, he gets attacked by a mercenary, Fares Fares (what!? I am doing that thing where I just note actor names, not character names. And this guys real name is ridiculous). Blah blah blah, he ends up getting to the American Consulate in South Africa, and taken into a Safe House!

Low level CIA agent Ryan Reynolds is in charge of the Safe House, and has heard many tales of Denzel. Other operatives come in, and end up torturing him. Which sucks. But not as much as when the mercenaries from earlier break in and start killing everybody! Ryan has to escape with Denzel, both trying to keep him a prisoner, while also protecting him from getting killed. He also has a girlfriend, Nora Arnezeder, who of course knows nothing about CIA stuff.

With the “help” of agents Brendan Gleeson and Vera Farmiga, Ryan has to go temporarily on the run, until appropriate back up can be dispatched to save them. But until then he has to try and hide, while keeping a prisoner trying to escape, and watching out for deadly mercenaries. Also, of course, not everyone on the CIA is on the up and up, so trust issues are apparent, and whether or not Denzel is even a bad guy.

Safe Denz
And then they made shadow puppets?

Summing up my thoughts can be pretty weird. Mostly because I am sure you guys know how I feel about a movie based on how I describe the plot. Probably.

Well I didn’t like Safe House. As I said in Caption 1, it is not Ryan Reynolds’ fault! It isn’t a single person’s fault in the movie either. Just the entire thing bored me. I wouldn’t describe any acting as horrible, just, whatever.

Don’t even have much more to say about it. So uhh. Yeah!

1 out of 4.


I will ask the question everyone is thinking first. Does Denzel Washington have a secret train love?

Pretend Train
He probably likes to pretend he is actually part of the trains.

First I reviewed The Taking of Pelham 123, and now this, Unstoppable. Denzel was some NYC conductor like person, and in this one he is just a driver. Been working 20 some years, being forced into early retirement. Almost reminds me of John Q.

Also there is Chris Pine, while not Kirk, he is a Conductor of the train with Denzel, and thus I will now call him Captain. Thanks to a bumbling Ethan Suplee (who the movie makes way too big of a bad guy for “simple mistakes”) a train half a mile long accidentally gets set in motion (with the throttle on, meaning it gains speed, or something) and with no real way to stop it. Breaks out. Shit is going to happen in Southern Pennsylvania.

The movie starts pretty slow, with initial tries to stop the, at the time, slowly moving train. Rosario Dawson is at the command center and only working with idiots. The train also has a whole bunch of bad chemicals on it that could wipe out people. You know normal stuff.

So the movie is about how two normal people end up somehow preventing a train from becoming a big disaster. Based on true events, yet also widely exaggerated. Not a traditional action movie, but more of a suspense action at how they are going to stop the runaway train. And that story is pretty cool.

It was just a great story overall. I was definitely very interested in the outcome, despite knowing what would happen. But how would it happen? Blah blah blah, I’ve said stuff like that before. Also you know, it could have taken out their families. So they had extra reasons to go above and beyond the call of duty.

john q
“I am NOT going to bury my [daughters]! My [daughters] are going to bury me [and all my hundreds of pieces if this goes wrong]”

3 out of 4.

The Taking Of Pelham 1-2-3

You have to ask yourself. In the URL, why is there not double dashes between the 1/2/3 given my title? The world may never know. The Taking Of Pelham 1-2-3 is more or less your typical negotiator + pseudo terrorist hostage situation movie. Of course the negotiator is not trained in negotiating, that way the bad guy wont have mind games played on them. But here is a different twist. This hostage situation takes place underground.

Damn it. Not like that, you hipsters.

By underground, I mean they took a part of a subway in NYC, and have themselves sealed underground where cell phones don’t work in one or two cars (You know, movies have to explain the cell phone stuff now in bad situations). John Travolta plays Crazy McCrazy, wanting 10 million within an hour or people die. People dieing sucks!

But thankfully Denzel Washington is now just working at a station, making sure trains are on time. Like Italy. And because he is the first person to communicate with Travolta, that is the only person he trusts. Basic hostage situation stuff happens, but this time the overall escape with the money scene afterwards seems to take a long time. Normally that is only a short bit of the film, but this thing is planned out and detailed. I found the escape the most boring part of the film. I kind of got lost with it too, as it involved tunnels and other ways of hiding. Since they no longer had hostages, it is kind of just like an action crime movie at the end (if you call Denzel a cop (he isn’t). In case you cannot tell, the ending was pretty meh to me. That makes the overall movie just okay, not great.

There was interesting dialogue too in the movie. When you find out Denzel’s secrets it gets super awkward, and thus interesting. Also, not sure if they answered how a dude got internet underground like that, nor do I think it lead anywhere either.

2 out of 4.