FlixChatter Review: ANGEL HAS FALLEN (2019)

I’m not the biggest fan of the FALLEN franchise. In fact, I hated the first one and I thought the second was tolerable but still not very good. Both weren’t huge box office hits yet somehow Gerard Butler was able to convince a studio to produce another adventure of his mean-spirited hero character Mike Bannon.

After a battle simulation at his old army pal Wade Jennings’ (Danny Huston) private military facility, Mike Bannon (Gerard Butler) starts having migraine and almost passed out. As it turns out, his heroic antics from saving the President and the world have consequences. He’s constantly popping pain killer pills because of the migraines and has aches all over his body. Yet he’s still thinks he can be a field agent and was hesitant to accept the role of Director of Secret Services when President Trumbull (Morgan Freeman) offered him the job.

When Bannon and his team took the President on a fishing trip, they were attacked with drones equipped with explosives. The ambush killed everyone on Bannon’s team except him and the President. Now in the hospital and being handcuffed, Bannon is being accused of attempting to assassinate the President and he’s being interviewed by FBI agent Thompson (Jada Pinkett Smith). Thompson wants to know why he’s the only survivor during the attack and why his bank account now contains $10mil. Of course, Bannon denies being involved in the attack but since Trumbull is in a coma, no one can back up his innocence plea. When the FBI decided to move Bannon to jail, they were attacked by the people who’s behind the assassination attempt and Bannon was able to escape during the chaos.

Now on the run, Bannon needs to use not only his physical skills but also his wits in order to save the President and prove his innocent. He can’t do it alone, so he decided to visit his long-lost father Clay (Nick Nolte) who’s been living in the forest to avoid being monitored by the government. While back in DC, Vice President Kirby (Tim Blake Nelson) is being sworn in as a temporary President and wants to avenge Trumbull’s assassination attempt by starting a war with Russia. Kirby believes the Russians is behind the attack and that Bannon is their secret agent.

The screenplay is credited to three writers, Matt Cook, Robert Mark Kamen and Ric Roman Waugh who’s also the film’s director. Their story is pretty simple and has been seen in other films before like THE FUGITIVE & AIR FORCE ONE. The audience can pretty much figure out what’s going on before the hero does. I mentioned earlier that Bannon is mean spirited in the previous films but I’m glad the writers tone down his love of violence and he seemed to not enjoy killing the bad guys so much in this film. Maybe because of our current political climate, they decided to make him more likable and not some jerk who loves killing people.

With a reported budget of $80mil, the highest in the series, the film looked like it’s super low budget. I’m not sure what sort of look cinematographer Jules O’Loughlin was going for, but the film looks like it’s a 90s direct-to-video movie. It’s inexcusable for any film to look this cheap from a major studio in today’s world of filmmaking. It’s full of bad compositions and I don’t think they even give much thoughts to color corrections during post production. I’ve seen films that looked great with half the budget. Director Waugh didn’t do much better, the action scenes were underwhelmed and very generic. Compared to the first two films, this one lacks the big action set pieces. With a bigger budget, I would assume it’s going be non-stop action, but the biggest action took place in the film’s climax at a hospital.

Performances by the actors were pretty decent. Butler decided to give a more “realistic” take on his character. He’s worn down and actually didn’t look like a super-agent killer like the previous films. Nolte’s character somehow became the comedic sidekick, which is a welcome in this series that takes itself too seriously. I’ve always like Danny Huston but his antagonist role here is pretty one dimensional and his motivation towards the end of the film is kind of moronic; that’s not his fault of course since it’s written that way. Jada Pinkett Smith’s FBI agent role could’ve been played by an unknown actor, not sure why she even accepted this role since she didn’t have much to do and hardly has any screen time. I can only assume her role was bigger in the script but was trimmed down during the editing process.

Despite my not-so-great review, I still think this one is the “best” in the series. But then again, the first two films set a pretty low bar and I actually enjoyed this one and the story kept my attention. While the last two films, I only wanted to see the shootouts and explosions. If you’re a fan of the series, then you might enjoy it, or you might be turned off by the lighter tone and less violence on Mike Bannon’s latest adventure.

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So have you seen ANGEL HAS FALLEN? Well, what did you think?

Character Actor Spotlight: Powers Boothe Part II – Meeting and Exceeding Expectations

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Greetings and all sundry!

Having covered the early career (read Part I on Mr. Boothe) of this exceptional character actor. Allow me to proffer a bit more than a glimpse at this tradesman’s ascent from better than standard fare. To the comfortable position of being a rising “Go To Guy” when a solid character. Either charmingly charismatic and varying shades of evil demanded exposition.

To that end. I ask a few moments of your time for elucidation and exploration of.

Powers Boothe: Meeting and Exceeding Expectations

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I’ll begin this segment with a film that reintroduced to the spotlight. After a surprising Emmy nomination for his giving creepy life to charlatan turned Reverend and New Age Messiah, Jim Jones in the CBS mini-series, Guyana Tragedy: The Jim Jones Story.

Returning once again to safe harbor and rising master’s talents of Walter Hill. And his little known, though richly rewarding drugs across the border, “Guy Flick.

PowersBootheExtremePrejudiceExtreme Prejudice (1987)

Having reviewed and critiqued this character and Testosterone driven middle budget masterpiece earlier.

And predominantly from Nick Nolte‘s second generation Texas Ranger, Jack Benteen’s perspective. It’s time to give equal, if not greater credit to the film’s white suited and Stetsoned nemesis, Cash Bailey.

Mr. Boothe has the presence. The voice and connections and wherewithal to send large amounts of cocaine and even larger amounts of money to be laundered in the small bank of Benteen’s one streetlight town and those beyond in major cities.

Which raises Benteen’s eyebrow. And those of a team if infinitely “deniable” and “deceased” Special Operators led by Michael Ironside and Clancy Brown. Who may want Bailey either arrested and brought back across the border from Mexico. Dead. Or waylaid enough for Ironside to possibly take over.

That’s the cool thing about this gem. Far more questions are proffered than answered.
Is Mr. Boothe’s Cash Bailey a real, honest to God, bad guy. Or is he an undercover operator? Not enough information or actions are presented to give credence to either. Though, no matter the answer. Mr. Boothe’s Cash Bailey is in way over his head. And in this finite, claustrophobic arena. The actor excels!

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Feeling the walls closing in and options evaporating under a sheen of anxious sweat.Drinking too much and talking too loud before a showdown. Or possible “Suicide By Cop” with Nolte’s Benteen before an epic “Shoot ’em Up!” that would do Sam Peckinpah proud!

Overall Consensus:

Mr. Boothe opens his tool box and adds silk and honey to his voice early on when trying to find out how much Nick Nolte’s Benteen knows and how far he will go. Slowly letting that fall apart while adding facial expression and harsh bravura as his empire begins to crumble and fall apart towards the film’s violent finale. Creating an enigmatic heavy who is afraid to say too much and accidentally speed his demise by the law. Or though under his command.

Creating a breather for some stage work before signing on as Navy Chief Petty Officer, John A. Walker. Who had been selling high grade military secrets regarding electronic communication, cryptology and high precision screw designs for various types of submarines to the Russians for more than a decade. In the Stephen Gyllenhaal directed, two part television movie for CBS:


Family of Spies (1990)

FamilyOfSpiesCBSPosterIn this offering, Mr. Boothe plays a rather complicated, turmoiled and kind of unlikeable John Walker. Career NCO and communications and cryptology specialist assigned to the Pacific Fleet’s “Boomers” (Mobile, Submerged Missile Silos”). Married, lecherous, with young son and daughter. Unable to hold onto a dollar while constantly looking for a “Get Rich Quick” scheme.

The failure of his recently purchased bar in Charleston, NC sends Walker to the Russian Embassy in Washington, DC for an obliging ear for his proposition. Selling the Navy’s most coveted secrets for “A thousand dollars a week”. Seriously major money in the mid 1960s.

Emboldened by the Navy’s lax security, Boothe’s Walker delivers code making and breaking documents. That pay off nicely. Though hit a snag moths later when North Korea captures the intelligence gathering ship, USS Pueblo. An internal FBI and NIS investigation starts moving towards Walker, who is unaware. Teaching Crypto and Comm classes at San Diego. And recruits a bright student, Jerry Withworth (Graham Beckel) to pick up slack and widen horizons. Telling the new addition that all that he finds, acquires or steals will be going to the Israelis. Not Moscow.

PowersBoothe_FamilyOfSpiesWalker starts to stray, maritally. As his handlers apply pressure to find newer, better and more Classified material. Walker’s wife, Barbara (Leslie Ann Warren) finds out. Hires a private investigator and lawyer. And extorts the highest amounts in payment. Lest she call the Navy NIS. Or FBI. Things start falling apart even more as Mr. Boothe’s Walker tries to get his son, Michael, a Navy technician (Andrew Lowery). His daughter, Cynthia, an Army Specialist (Elena Stiteler) and brother, Arthur (Michael J. Jackson) to join his motley crew.

So, no one is really surprised, except Mr. Boothe; when his John Walker is caught in a Bethesda, MD. motel in a classic “Sting”. While awaiting the arrival of “the other woman”.

Overall Consensus:

Mr. Boothe seems to have dipped back into the well of psychopathy and slow destruction that earned his Emmy Award years earlier as Jim Jones. All the signs are there. Though, a bit less pronounced. Arrogance at pulling the wool over the eyes of his superiors and security personnel. Tinged with annoyance that he is being underpaid by his Russian handlers. The slow creep of paranoia post Pueblo. As his actions start being questioned. Innocently at first. Then more directly after Walker’s retirement and loss of Security Clearance.

Debt is added as a factor. Increasing as Walker spends beyond his means. Bringing in the trembles of desperation as creditors start calling. Then knocking. Whatever family life there had been has long since gone, As Mr. Boothe’s Walker employs decades of tried and true Russian trade craft. While blaming everyone other than himself.

Which creates time for a rather unique, low budget palate cleanser. In the form of an early, not so cleverly disguised attempt to thrust Brandon Lee into the high pantheon of his of his deceased father, Bruce.

RapidFireMoviePosterRapid Fire (1992)

With all the attendant low budget bells and cinematic whistles one would expect with a Bruce Lee martial arts film. Good looking, though breakaway balsa wood sets dressed as expensive restaurants. Rather spartan marble, leather and stainless steel lairs for international and domestic crime lords.Quickly glimpsed stock footage of Thailand city scape, both day and night. Sweetened with some great looking on location, urban cinematography under the elevated trains, alley ways and grimy city streets of Chicago later in this forgotten gem.

The film begins in Thailand. Where veteran of Tiananmen Square, Jake Lo (Brandon Lee) witnesses the murder of a lower tier enforcer, Carl Chung (Michael Paul Chan) for local Thai crime lord, Kinman Tau (Tzi Me) by Chicago thug, Antionio Serrano (Nick Mancuso) in an elegant restaurant.

Jake is noticed, of course. Fights his out and away. And into the arms of the local police. Take his eyewitness statement and whisk Jack into Protective Custody. Courtesy of the Chicago PD.

Once safely ensconced in The Windy City. Jake is visited by grizzled, Detective Lieutenant Mace Ryan. Given wondrous “Been there. Done that” rumpled life by Mr. Powers Boothe. Who has a ten year old hard for the elusive crime lord, Kinman Tau. And is amenable to any way to get at him.

If that way is through Lo and hanging a murder rap on Serrano. So much the better! As Lo is released to Ryan’s care and protection. And young martial arts assassins, amongst them, Dustin Nguyen (“21 Jump Street”). To fight Serrano’s local talent. Kill Lo. Or preferably, both.

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Add an aspiring female Detective, Karla Withers (Kate Hodge) to offer a romantic interest. As Jake and Ryan start finding some of Serrano’s thugs to question and acquire leads. In regards to the arrival of a shipment of heroin to a local laundry. That will draw out the Big Man, tau, himself. Of course, an ambush and fight ensues to a near standstill as Tau and Serrano escapes. A new location is deduced as an expansive mansion among rolling hills. A new strategy is devised. As the film closes. Set up perfectly for a sequel.

Overall Consensus:

It’s nice to see Mr. Booth exercise his ensemble chops. Bringing a weary with The System, stubbled, “Getting Too Old For This Stuff”. Kind of Philip Marlowe on the skids attitude. That lifts the film from the typical “Chop Socky” genre. Mixing action, gunfire and fisticuffs with well choreographed and good looking fights by Brandon Lee.

Is it a perfect film?.. No. But is is a lot of fun!

Which opens up the film that put Mr. Boothe back to the spolight for the fifth or sixth time. As “Curly Bill” Brocius. One of the founding fathers of the red sashed “Cowboys” in a not quite historically correct, but near iconic film of the Old West.


Tombstone (1993)

TombstonePosterArguably, one of the best, if not the best big budgeted ensemble westerns of the 1990s.

Centered around the Earps. Retired lawmen, Wyatt (Kurt Russell), Virgil (Sam Eliott) and homesteader, Morgan (Bill Paxton). Their arrival in next to nowhere, Tombstone, Arizona, And the infiltration of across the border, wedding crashing, pillaging and village burning, Cowboys. Curly Bill Brocius (Mr. Powers), Johnny Ringo (Mostly quiet, near psychotic, Michael Biehn), many lower tier followers. And the land owning through illegal means, Clantons.Ike (Rarely creepier or scuzzier, Stephen Lange) and son, Bill (Thomas Hayden Church).The Earps see opportunities in the small, slowly burgeoning community. Taking and buying an interest in less than prosperous saloon. After an annoying, obnoxious Billy Bob Thorton is marched out through its swinging door.

Life improves with imported fashions and talents. And “Doc” Holliday reintroduces himself to Wyatt before the Cowboys make their presence known. Applying presurre here and there with covert aid from the Clantons. While trying to stake out their claim of the town. An attempt that embarrassingly fails when Ringo disrupts an evening’s entertainment and gambling an exemplar show of quick drawn and trick pistol twirling. That a smiling, drunken and unimpressed Doc Holliday lampoons with a silver cup.

Upping the ante as the Cowboys later “shoot up the town”. And citizens start screaming about the first insidious, incremental steps of Gun Control. Wanting to tamp down, if not defuse an escalating situation. The Earps and Doc respond to the armed and quietly threatening Clantons, assorted Cowboys and Ringo and Bill Brocius at the O.K. Corral.

The volatile situation quickly goes beyond words and lead flies. In a noisy stalemate that sends Ike Clanton cowardly skittering away as the tide and citizens turn against the Earps.Leaving Morgan open for ambush by the later that night. And Virgil luring Ike Clanton and others out for a final tete a tete just outside an outbound train.

PowersBootheTombstone

The gauntlet has been thrown down. And Wyatt, Doc and others turn a stream side ambush against Curly Bill. And Doc takes it upon himself to finally remove Johnny Ringo from his mortal coils. Wyatt arrives late and the two decide to clean up the last of the Cowboys.

Overall Consensus:

In a film that sweats and is perfumed with dust and Testosterone. With a raw, talented cast that most directors today would sell their wife and kids for. Mr. Boothe is content to take a back seat. A step or two away from the limelight. Confident and relaxed.in time on screen. Finding the mystique of being an utterly ruthless bad guy refreshing. Yet always ready to grab and reel in a not afraid to go over the top Michael Biehn to maintain order within the ranks.


Stay tuned for the final entry on Powers Boothe!
Check out Jack’s other posts and reviews


What do you think of these films and Powers Boothe’s performances?

Weekend Roundup: Golden Globes 2012, Henry’s Crime, Water for Elephants

Hope y’all had a fine weekend. I skipped the Golden Globes telecast this Sunday, I only tuned in every once in a while when the winner I was rooting for did get the trophy. So I updated this Golden Globes nominees list with the winners.

Incidentally I only got two of my predictions right:

  • Best Supporting Actor in Comedy/Musical: Jean Dujardin for The Artist Love that last part of his acceptance speech when he gave a silent nod to Douglas Fairbanks. Classy!
  • Best Supporting Actress in Comedy/Musical: Michelle Williams for My Week with Marilyn

But Michel Hazanavicius is definitely snubbed that he didn’t win Best Director! I like Hugo but really, but let’s face it, The Artist is a far better film out of the two. I was also rooting for Viola Davis to win for The Help, but as I said, it’s really a tough call when you’re in the same category as Meryl Streep!!  Her win for The Iron Lady marks for her EIGHTH Golden Globe wins, WOW! A few of my friends have posted their predictions as well, Anomalous Material, The Focused Filmographer, or Impassioned Cinema … you can check out their posts and see how they fared.

Ok so that’s my two cents about the Golden Globes… now we can begin to speculate on the Oscar picks 🙂 The Academy Award nominations will be announced on Tuesday, January 24, 2012 at 5:30 a.m. Pacific Time.


Anyway, here are my mini reviews from this weekend:

Henry’s Crime

Since I’ve done the time, I might as well do the time. That’s pretty much the plot of this film. Henry (Keanu Reeves, in his usual stoic performance) is a lethargic toll booth attendant who somehow got sent to prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Interestingly enough, during and after his prison time is when his new life begins, prompted by meeting his cellmate Max (the inimitable James Caan) and being ran over (literally!) by Julie (Vera Farmiga).

I only rented this ’cause I like the cast and the trailer looked pretty funny. Plus, it got pretty good review from TIFF. Well you know what, it’s actually pretty enjoyable. The tie in between the bank heist and Anton Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard play is quite amusing, not to mention the presence of awesome character actor Peter Stormare as the stage director. The scene where he’s teaching Henry (or Keanu?) how to act is hilarious. Caan’s effortlessly adds comic relief and he’s got quite a nice rapport with Keanu. Judy Greer is kind of wasted here as Keanu’s straying wife though, which is a pity as I know she’s capable of more.

As for the romance, Reeves and Farmiga actually works well together. Even playing a supposedly cold character, Farmiga still radiates warmth, she’s always a joy to watch and playing a stage actress, I could almost picture her on stage performing in such a play! Now Keanu is as stoic as ever, there’s little insight into what’s really going on inside Henry’s head as Keanu didn’t really display any kind of emotion (save for the finale when he’s dressed as Lopakhin, one of the play’s protagonists). But it’s sort of what one would expect from this seemingly ageless actor (could you believe he’s 47 years old?!), and somehow his brand of acting works out just fine here.

Definitely not a bad movie to rent on a Friday night, especially if you’re a fan of one of the cast.

Three and a half stars out of Five
3.5 out of 5 reels

Water for Elephants

I posted the trailer ages ago but haven’t got around to watching it. The thing that appealed to me most is the setting, there’s something beguiling about the world of the Circus. Told from the point of view of a 90-something year-old Jacob Jankowski (Hal Holbrook), similar to how Rose in the movie Titanic reminisces on his life aboard the doomed ship, Jacob is nostalgic about the time he spent as a circus veterinarian during the Great Depression.

Following a tragic accident that killed his parents, the young Jacob (Robert Pattinson) ended up working for the brilliant but brutal head animal trainer August and his wife Marlena (Reese Witherspoon), the star performer. It won’t be long before Jacob falls for Marlena as they bond over their love for the adorable elephant Rosie.

Pattinson is pretty compelling here as a romantic leading man, though there are times his melancholic look reminds me a bit of Twilight‘s Edward at times. Fortunately there’s the fabulous Christoph Watlz to remind me here that it isn’t a dreadful teen vampire flick (thank goodness!) and he naturally steals the show with his performance, teetering between charming and terrorizing, both with the animals and the people around him. In a way not too different from his role as Col. Landa in Inglourious Basterds.

Reese looks the part as a circus star, which is no mean feat, but overall her performance is serviceable. She’s not bad, but not great either. Even her chemistry with Pattinson isn’t all too convincing. I could see how Jacob and Marlena would fall for each other given the circumstances, but the actors didn’t really sell the romance as well as they could. In fact, Holbrook did a better job conveying his love for Marlena in his brief scenes of telling the story about her in the present day.

Water for Elephants is a rather conventional drama, it could’ve been a great film but the way it is now, it’s enjoyable but in the end pretty forgettable. It looks beautiful but somehow the circus world created here lacks the magic and that certain charm that made me go ‘wow!’ the way Moulin Rouge! did the first time I saw it. It’s a pity as the novel by Sara Gruen is so celebrated. Given the intriguing subject matter, this movie could’ve been a classic.

Three and a half stars out of Five
3.5 out of 5 reels


I also saw another one of Gregory Peck’s films called Mirage (1965) which is an excellent noir thriller. But instead of doing a mini review here, I’d save that for one of my classic flix reviews.


So what did you watch this weekend folks? Feel free to share your favorite part of the Globes if you’d be so inclined.

Weekend Roundup: WARRIOR and ON THE BEACH

As last weekend we got to see quite a lot of films (yes, I’m a bit behind on my reviews folks), this year we skipped the cinema and opted to catch up on films I’ve missed last year. One I’ve been wanting to see is Warrior, and when I read this enthusiastic review on Thursday, I knew I had to see it right away.  The other film I saw was another one from my Gregory Peck marathon, a doomsday drama On the Beach. So here are my thoughts on those:

WARRIOR

Well I’m telling you right off the bat, I wish I had waited to make my 2011 top 10 list as Warrior would surely be in my top 5!

As with The Fighter from last year, Warrior is not just a boxing (or UFC in this case) tale, it’s a family drama wrapped around this popular contact sport that’s as heavy on the fighting as it is on character development. The film opens with the father of the two lead characters, Paddy Conlon (Nick Nolte), getting out of a church in Pittsburgh and finding his long-lost son waiting for him when he gets home. Tommy (Tom Hardy) has not seen his dad in fourteen years. As the conversation between them progresses, we find out that they did not part on amiable terms. The opposite is true in fact, as evident in the way Tommy is distrustful of his former alcoholic dad’s reformed life. At times I feel like Tommy is too harsh with his repentant dad, but at the same time, the film hints of the immense transgression Paddy did to his own family.

Meanwhile in Philadelphia, we’re given a glimpse of a seemingly idyllic family life of Brendan Conlon (Joel Edgerton), Tommy’s brother who’s also estranged from both him and Paddy. Brendan’s in financial trouble – his job as a physics teacher just isn’t enough to support his wife and two kids, and their house is in danger of foreclosure. He’s inevitably drawn to his former life as a UFC fighter. The money is too good to pass up, Brendan reasons, much to the chagrin of his wife who’s obviously concerned for his well-being.

From all of the film’s marketing, we already know that the two Conlon brothers will face each other in the big finale of the championship game. But the journey of how each of them get there is the heart of the story. It didn’t take long for the film to make us care for the film’s key players. Before the first half is done, we’re already fully invested in them, which makes the high octane fights at the end so compelling to watch.

The fights themselves are well-choreographed and despite their ferocity, I couldn’t turn away from them. Mixed martial arts fans no doubt are enthralled by the “Sparta” tournament in Atlantic City, but what fascinates me the most is what’s really at stake for Tommy and Brendan, what this fight means for them as a family. The physical blows are as hard as the emotional ones, aided by the superb classically-tinged score by Mark Isham. Brendan’s trainer Frank likes to use Beethoven’s music and as Ode to Joy blares through the arena it literally gives me goosebumps.

There are so much going for Warrior as a whole, the direction, the script and of course, the performances. Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton are convincing as estranged brothers and both of them are nothing short of electrifying in their roles. The fact that Hardy is a Brit and Edgerton is an Aussie doesn’t matter as both manage to pull off convincing American accent. They both look the part with their ripped physique (Hardy is especially menacing in his pre-Bane look for The Dark Knight Rises), both most importantly, both could handle the emotional parts with aplomb. Veteran actor Nolte’s is outstanding as Paddy, it’s a controlled performance and he nailed his utterly heart-wrenching breakdown scene without being over the top (like he did in Ang Lee’s Hulk). I’m glad he’s nominated for SAG Award this year, hopefully the Academy would be smarter than the folks at the Golden Globes and nominate him for Best Supporting Performance. I’m also impressed by Frank Grillo’s sympathetic performance as Joel’s trainer.

I can’t recommend this film enough to you if you have not seen this. It’s a powerful film that will tug at your heart without being manipulative or overly melodramatic. That ending packs so much emotional punch that I was so drained by the end from crying so much. I think emotionally this will stay with me the longest among other 2011 films I’ve watched.

In the end it doesn’t really matter who won the tournament, but one thing for sure, this film is a triumph!

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ON THE BEACH (1959)

Doomsday films doesn’t get any more devastating than this. Based on a novel of the same name by Nevil Shute, the story takes place in 1964 post a nuclear war that has annihilated the northern hemisphere. Lt. Commander Dwight Towers (Gregory Peck) and his crew aboard the US nuclear submarine Sawfish lands on the coast of Australia which has not been wiped out by the lethal cloud. But of course it’s just a matter of time before they too will perish and the film tells the story of how the last remaining people on the island must come to terms with that.

This film is  a far cry from Roland Emmerich’s kind of end-of-the world movies like Independence Day or 2012 where the protagonists somehow manage to save the day and all will be well. It’s not a feel-good film by any means but a thought-provoking one that is still relevant today so long as humans are capable of destroying themselves.

It’s a fascinating piece that relies on the greatness of the script and performances. The cast alone makes this one worth a watch… the third pairing of Ava Gardner and Peck for one (once again romantically), pre-Norman Bates Anthony Perkins and Fred Astaire in his impressive dramatic acting debut. Astaire played Julian, the ship’s scientist in charged of checking radiation levels, and there’s a poignant scene of him telling some crew members on what he thought started this whole war in the first place.

The impending doom makes one re-evaluate what is really important in life. Julian gets to live out his childhood fantasy as a race car driver, Dwight going sailing and trout fishing with Moira, etc. Oh and the scene where Gregory chased Ava with a boat paddle on the beach is amusing though almost as abruptly, we are reminded again that the fun is all short-lived. The cinematography often speaks louder than words ever could, the shots of the usually-bustling city of San Francisco being reduced to a ghost town is killer, and the closing shot of an empty city square under the banner ‘THERE IS STILL TIME … BROTHER.’ There’s also no bombastic scenes of destruction or deformed bodies often depicted in today’s disaster movies, but it doesn’t mean the impact here is in any way lesser.

I highly recommended this for fans of understated but powerful sci-fi classics or anyone who appreciates films that are rich in human drama. This is the kind of film that will haunt you for days… I know for sure I’d never listen to Waltzing Matilda (the unofficial national anthem of Australia) the same way again.


Just a note, I opted not to give a rating to any of Gregory’s films just yet. I will do a blog post summarizing the GP marathon later this year.


So what did you see this weekend? Thoughts on either one of these? I’d love to hear ’em!

Guest Review: Extreme Prejudice (1987)

Special thanks to my pal Kevin a.k.a Jack Deth for another in-depth review!

Make sure you check out his profile page under FC Contributor’s tab and find out more about his love for film.


‘Extreme Prejudice’ is a little known gem directed by Walter Hill and written by John Milius, an updated drugs-across-the border western. Starring Nick Nolte as Jack Benteen, a straight arrow, incorruptible second generation Texas Ranger who doesn’t say much. Lets his silent stare and scowl, when appropriate, handle most situations that his Colt .45 ACP  may be a bit too loud, messy and devastating for. In short, Benteen is Gary Cooper in High Noon, only more so with a larger hat.

Benteen’s jurisdiction cover just one heck of a lot of desert close to the Mexico border, with not a whole heck of a lot in between. Operating out of a small quiet town with a bank, barber shop, hardware stores, school and small businesses, where everyone who hasn’t left knows everyone else. With its usual raining,  miserable Saturday night fights in outlying Honky Tonks and dirt floor bars. One good old boy has the sad misfortune of running afoul of Benteen and his partner and mentor, Sheriff Hank Perason, played by the notably  gruff Rip Torn long before his playing Zed in ‘Men In Black’. The good old boy/drug smuggler pulls a gun on Benteen and Pearson and is killed in self defense, which slowly gets the ball rolling for the the rest of the film.

On the Mexican side of the border is Cash Bailey, Nolte’s childhood friend, a drug Kingpin and possible snitch or undercover DEA agent who’s in way over his head. He’s played flawlessly by Powers Boothe, fresh from his HBO mini-series Marlowe, resplendent in a white suit and Stetson, yet radiating an aura of corrupt sliminess. Cash runs a fair-sized Cocaine smuggling operation that rakes in huge amounts of money that requires laundering.

Cue the crooked Bank Manager and possible degenerate gambler who’s been bought and paid for by Cash Bailey, and whose bank is in the same small south Texas town that contains Benteen’s Rangers station and the table has been set for the entree. A small cadre of US Army special operators who are officially dead enter the mix. Led by Michael Ironside and top kicked by Clancy Brown. They make their entrance at a Municipal Airport with appropriate aplomb and a bit of raunch, before settling down to business. The deliberate destruction of Cash Bailey and his entire operation, through methods legal or extra-legal. I’ll let you do the math.

In the interim, Nolte and Hank Pearson debate a reluctant confrontation with the good old boy’s brother. The tête-à-tête is cut short when the brother and several friends pour out of the clapboard General Store with rifles and handguns blazing. In what should be a lopsided win with shotguns, M-16s and pistols, The Ranger and Sheriff hold their own and more with Benteen’s .45 and lever action Winchester backed up by Pearson’s 12 Gauge pump shot gun. Unknowingly being watched by Michael Ironside’s Col. Paul Hackett and Clancy Brown’s MSgt. Larry McRose.

The two watch Pearson fall and the brother die as the survivors flee, only to be ambushed and dispatched by Hackett and McRose shortly thereafter. A mistake is made and shell casings are not policed up and Hackett’s hand is tipped through investigations later on.

As Benteen plays catch-up, another character is introduced. Maria Conchita Alonso as Sarita. The teenage girl who carried a torch for Benteen and Bailey and probably still does. All grown up and signing at a Cantina and who will figure prominently toward the story’s end.

Comes the dawn and the lesser know special operators have staked out the bank with what would now be less than first generation tactical and spy gear in preparation for a heist. The primaries go in. People are frightened as money is stolen and Safety Deposit Boxes rifled. Hackett confronts the crooked banker and kills him while a faraway barn blows up as a diversion. One of the lesser operators is killed and the getaway is disrupted by Benteen, who locks up William Forsythe at his borderline psycho best as Sgt. Buck Atwater and Matt Mulhern as Declan Coker, their heavy weapons man.

Benteen and Hackett finally meet after the shell casings left that the ambush reveal an Army pedigree. Neither trusts the other as Atwater and Coker report on everything they see and hear to Larry B. Scott’s Sgt. Charles Biddle, their tech guy from their jail cell at the Ranger station.

Deals are made, though Hackett would gladly like to see Benteen dead. Since Benteen doesn’t fit in Hackett’s agenda. As Atwater and Biddle are released and Sarita disappears, Benteen joins Hackett and his crew for a trip south of the border. For a protracted confrontation inside a massive adobe fortress amongst a sizable Mexican peasant army that would would make Sam Peckinpah envious.

Benteen just walks right on in, ready to talk Bailey into returning with him sans Sarita. Though willing to end it all in a  showdown with Bailey if push comes to shove.

Only to have the festivities interrupted as ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE!

Powers Boothe as Cash Bailey

Hackett and his boys open up with everything they have and whatever else they can get their hands on. Many, many of Cash Bailey’s soldiers fall in a modern shoot ’em up to easily rival the best of  The Wild Bunch. Biddle and Coker pick off strays as McRose catches Hackett literally red handed sticking a knife in Bailey’s befuddled book keeper. A deal is offered and rejected as a stooge stumbles by. Shots are fired and Hackett slips away.

Betrayed, the operators are evenly divided in taking out Bailey’s army and Hackett. Who absorbs many, many hits before McRose unloads with his 12 Gauge. The operators are picked off one by one. The smoke clears and Cash returns with a truck full of soldiers ready to pick up where they left off before all of the fireworks. Undaunted, Benteen tries to talk Bailey into coming back to the US, but Bailey is in too deep and fires. Benteen empties his .45 into his boyhood friend. Reloads and listens to an ultimatum from the new Jefe.

Leave and don’t come back. It seems that the locals didn’t much care for or trust the gringo, Cash Bailey to begin with. Better to keep the operation completely Mexican. Benteen agrees and he and Sarita saunter off into the sunset.

What makes this movie good?

A superb ensemble cast of proven character actors driving the story forward between well timed and executed fights, bank heist and the final homage to Sam Peckinpah gunfights inside Bailey’s fortress. Toss in a plethora of great lines for all and sundry as lies stack on top of lies and the Alpha males vie for supremacy. Add the backdrop of a Ry Cooder-produced soundtrack. Conducted by Jerry Goldsmith as a full orchestra and you have the makings of a film not soon forgotten.

What makes this film great?

Nick Nolte, Powers Boothe, Michael Ironside, Clancy Brown and William Forsythe in a film that literally sweats Testosterone. Shortly before ascending into their own reserved niches in the firmament

Walter Hill at the helm directing men in a men’s arena. Allowing time for each cast member to shine and perform some of their most memorable work in what many consider a B- Movie, but is so much more!


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