FlixChatter Review: FREE GUY (2021)

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You know what they say… that one shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. Well, I suppose one shouldn’t judge a movie by its trailer either, as the first time I saw FREE GUY trailer I scoffed. I just didn’t care for another movie based on a video game. Oddly enough, FREE GUY is about a video game, but it’s actually not based on an actual video game or even any pre-existing IP. Director Shawn Levy and star Ryan Reynolds concocted the idea, perhaps as a challenge to themselves considering how tough it is to take a brand new concept and make it into a film, as evident in the plethora of franchises, remakes, sequels, etc. in Hollywood. 

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So the movie is set in an open world video game called Free City where Reynolds’ character Guy (the title role, natch!) lives exists as a bank teller, chirpily reporting to work every morning with his bank security guard Buddy (Lil Rel Howery). The opening sequence with the character’s day-to-day routine where he wears the same clothes, orders the same coffee, etc. reminds me a bit of The LEGO Movie. Initially Guy seems pretty happy with how things are, casually reliving the same bank robbery scenario where the shades-wearing criminals look very much like the players within Grand Theft Auto that my brothers used to play.

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But then one day he spots a bad-ass Molotov Girl in faux-leather pants singing Mariah Carey‘s Fantasy and he is immediately smitten out of his wits, rom-com style. Despite Buddy’s plea that he can’t simply talk to sunglasses-wearing heroes, Guy breaks protocol and follows her. The moment Guy puts on her sunglasses, voila! He suddenly becomes aware he’s been in a video game all this life, more specifically he’s an NPC (non-player character for those non-gamers) that isn’t controlled by a human player and exist simply to simply populate a game’s world. 

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Meanwhile, in the real world, we meet Millie (Jodie Comer) and Keys (Joe Keery), a pair of brilliant young game programmers who could’ve been successful in their own right had they not been cheated by a wealthy, powerful game publisher Antoine (Taika Waititi). While Millie can’t take this injustice lying down, Keys just sort of accepts things as it is and still willing to work for Antoine, creating a rift in their friendship. Levy’s direction, based on a script written by Matt Lieberman and Zak Penn, manages to ground the film by interweaving this real-world, relatable predicaments that Millie and Keys find themselves in with the more absurd elements in Guy’s world. I have to admit that without these two characters, I might not be as invested in the story overall.

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Reynolds is definitely in his element here, given his knack for playing a whimsical, likable hero who’s never above poking fun at himself. He’s found an unlikely-yet-effective match in Comer who’s been um, killing it in Killing Eve series. Her incredible accent work is put to good use here as well in the dual role, and she’s equally believable as a nerdy programmer or a bad-ass assassin. She has a playful rapport with Reynolds and seems to have a lot of fun with the role. I love the scene where they were in the Stash House where there were all these fancy cars and all kinds of fancy gadgets. The action is deliberately cartoonish (I mean they are inside a video game after all) but it was a lot of fun. It’s also the moment Molotov Girl realizes that Guy isn’t really a real life human.

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In the supporting role, it’s fun watching Taika be the baddie. The New Zealander is one of those quadruple-threat talents where he’s at home in front AND behind the camera. He relishes the role of a greedy, power-hungry tech exec who doesn’t care where his wealth comes from so long as he can have it all. Given his anti-colonialism stand (that he even inserted into a plot in Thor Ragnarok), Antoine couldn’t be more opposite of Taika in real life. I’ve only seen Joe Keery in Stranger Things season 1, I think he fits the role perfectly here as a cute-but-nerdy game designer. Utkarsh Ambudkar also have some memorable scenes as Keys’ co-worker. There’s even an Alex Trebek cameo in Jeopardy, which made me sad as it’s his last on-screen appearance. There are other fun cameos too but I’ll let you discover them as you watch the movie.

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Prolific director/producer Shawn Levy has tackled comedies in digital age environment before with The Internship where Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson interned at Google. I haven’t seen that one but this one is a high-tech comedy in steroids! Story-wise it’s kind of a mash-up between The Truman Show and Wreck-It-Ralph, oh and apparently Ready Player One, which I haven’t seen as the first 10 minutes made me dizzy. I like that the writers also incorporate scenes of actual gamers. The way they react to Guy verging off from his NPC programming while playing the game, and how most of those too-old-to-still-be-living-at-home guys exasperate their moms, make for some of the funniest bits.

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Overall Free Guy exceeded my expectations. Who knew a comedy about video games can also be a charming rom-com? When Millie falls for Guy’s charm, Comer made the whole thing so sweet and endearing. The scene where Millie turns to mush, much to the Keys’ bafflement is hilarious! Now, it’s not a Ryan Reynolds movie without the absurd, over-the-top action scene. The bombastic scene between Guy and a ginormous, super-jacked version of himself called Dude is downright silly and ridiculous, but at that point I had been enjoying the movie so much I just rolled with it. The quieter moments between Guy and Millie are definitely my favorite parts.

Well, Reynolds no doubt has another potential comedic franchise under his belt here besides his raunchy, R-rated Deadpool. Unlike the irreverent, foul-mouthed character, Guy’s earnest and aw-shucks-innocent persona is actually quite refreshing. Along with Ted Lasso, I guess ‘nice-ness’ is all the rage post-pandemic and I’m totally cool with that. If you’re looking for the quintessential Summer crowd-pleaser to watch in the cinema, I highly recommend this one. I wouldn’t mind watching this again once it’s out on streaming. 

4/5 stars


Have you seen FREE GUY? I’d love to hear what you think!

FlixChatter Review: The Hitman’s Wife Bodyguard (2021)

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It hasn’t been that long ago that The Hitman’s Bodyguard was released in 2017, and I remember it being quite a pleasant surprise despite its inherent silliness. It’s a spoof of the buddy cop action comedy but with two bodyguards forming an unlikely bond of friendship between Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds) and Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson). While it was enjoyable, I hardly think it’s a story worth revisiting but whaddayaknow, we end up getting a sequel/spinoff no one asks for, this time centering on Kincaid’s wife Sonia.

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Despite having a ludicrous plot involving an Eastern European dictator (Gary Oldman), the amusing hilarity of the Reynolds-Jackson pairing were enough to keep me engaged with the first movie. Well, the sequel makes the first one seems much more sensible as director Patrick Hughes dials up the screwball comedy factor so far it’s off the chart. The tone is far more slapstick this time around with full on action from start to finish.

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At the start of the movie, we see Bryce trying desperately to keep his bodyguard career behind him. His therapist urges him to be on a ‘violence diet’ which includes the no-gun rule, but of course, as soon as he goes on vacation, his past soon catches up with him, literally. The action is always loud, frenetic and violent, and you can practically describe Sonia (Salma Hayek) the same way. She suddenly shows up right in the middle of Bryce’s Greek holiday asking him to help her free Darius who’s taken up by mobsters. The hapless Bryce immediately gets dragged on by the persistent Sonia who does not take no for an answer. On their journey, they end up teaming up with Interpol (Frank Grillo, in his usual intense/angry mode) to help locate a megalomaniac Aristotle Papadopoulos (Antonio Banderas). Papadopoulos is a caricature of a Bond villain meets Onassis meets Liberace who’s hellbent on destroying Europe to avenge Greece for being imposed more sanctions. 

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Reynolds’s self-deprecating humor can be charming and he seems to relish being a suffering fool. He’s tossed around so much like a rag doll by his two co-stars it’s cartoonish. I read on IMDb that Hughes deliberately wants to put him through the wringer which explains the amount of suffering he’s put through here. But of course, much like most fantastical heroes like James Bond, John Wick, etc. Bryce seems to be indestructible as well as he survives multiple car crashes (and worse) and come out virtually unscathed.

Though the first one has some slapstick comedy elements, the sequel is pretty much all slapstick screwball stuff that rivals the Hot Shots or Naked Gun franchise. It’s as if the direction for the lead actors are to be as hammy and over the top as possible. It’s pretty typical to see characters insult each other in these types of comedies, but here Jackson and Hayek are downright mean-spirited at times, mostly directed at Reynolds. Just like the first one, wer’re bombarded by a deluge of F-bombs and bullets + explosions. 

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They also poke fun at themselves in egregious manner, which can be amusing and off-putting at the same time. Hayek’s obviously proud of her large boobs which are played for laugh so much here, as well as her heavy Mexican accent. She certainly looks amazing and looks to be enjoying herself playing the batshit crazy title character. Fans of Desperado would likely enjoy seeing her reunion with Banderas, though the plot is pretty predictable and farcical.

I think the one truly hilarious bit that actually got the entire theater laughing, which involves Morgan Freeman’s character. To say more about his character will be a major spoiler, but let’s just say he plays an important figure in Bryce’s life. During that scene, I thought how fun would it be to see Kevin Costner’s cameo, as the first movie used that Whitney Houston’s famous ballad I Will Always Love You from the 1992 movie The Bodyguard. Speaking of the cast, there are a bunch of good British actors like Richard E. Grant and Caroline Goodall who are thoroughly wasted which are par the course in a bombastic, big-budget action flick like this one.

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The one major highlight for me is the beautiful locations: London, Italy, Croatia… clearly it’s like a free vacation for the cast. I was drooling over the Amalfi Coast scenery… so there’s that escapism factor. Overall though, this movie is pretty much a rehash of the first one, only much dumber with even more senseless violence + raunchy humor. In a way, Bryce’s extremely exasperated reaction to Darius + Sonia’s vulgarity is exactly how I feel about this clichéd + verbose movie. It’s not a long movie but by the end of it, I felt tired from both the non-stop action and the banal plot, which is made worse by a promise of yet another potential sequel [cue eye roll].

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Have you seen The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard? I’d love to hear what you think!

The Flixlist: 10 reasons ‘Deadpool 2’ won us over… again

Post by Vitali Gueron

In February 2016, our own Ruth wrote a review of the movie Deadpool by titling her post “10 reasons Deadpool movie won me over” and she made a top 10 list praising the movie. I went ahead and re-read her post, and then I realized – almost everything she listed in her post applies to the sequel. Deadpool 2 is all that but there are even more laughs and there is even more thought behind its writing.

Here’s my take of Ruth’s top 10 list…

Here are 10 reasons why the Deadpool 2 won me over:

1. The self-deprecating humor

Yes, there is plenty of that in Deadpool 2. Ryan Reynolds, as Deadpool, continues to relentlessly poke fun at himself, the actor playing him, and even the studio that made it. But many things have happened since 2016. Deadpool was very successful for the studio – it shattered the box office record with $150 million domestic gross and $264 million worldwide (not as impressive for 2018 with Avengers: Infinity War topping $500 million in just 15 days domestically). Then 20th Century Fox came out with the another very successful movie Logan in 2017, where the X-Men character Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) dies and was said to be Jackman’s final portrayal of the character on-screen.

The ‘original’ Deadpool w/ Wolverine in X-Men Origins (2009)

That fact is not lost of Reynolds, who co-wrote the script of this movie alongside the first Deadpool writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick. There are many references to the X-Men franchise, the character of Wolverine and living in the Xavier Mansion. Be on the lookout for a hilarious Logan-inspired “musical ballerina” in the first part of the movie.

2. The retro throwback to 80s pop culture

While the first Deadpool relied heavily on 80s pop culture music, including George Michael’s Careless Whisper and You’re the Inspiration by Chicago, the sequel instead brought out heavy-hitter Celine Dion with her new power ballad Ashes, played during the movie’s opening credits.

Just as in the first Deadpool, where Juice Newton’s Angel of the Morning is featured during the hilariously memorable title credits, Celine Dion’s Ashes is featured as Deadpool 2 opens. In the opening scene, Deadpool decides to kill himself by blowing up his apartment while lying atop of several barrels of explosives. Cue Celine Dion!

3. That it IS a love story

Yes, Morena Baccarin returns as Vanessa Carlysle, Deadpool’s fiancée. Unfortunately, she is not featured as much in this movie as she was in the first Deadpool, but when we do see her – she makes it count!

There are other relationships explored in Deadpool 2; Brianna Hildebrand returns to play Negasonic Teenage Warhead and this time she has a girlfriend Yukio, a female ninja of Japanese origin and a member of the X-Men. Deadpool really likes and respects Yukio and clearly lets us know about it. This leads us to number four…

4. There are some bad ass women in this movie

Having already mentioned Morena Baccarin and Brianna Hildebrand, I want to focus on the other bad ass women in this movie – namely Zazie Beetz as Domino, a mercenary with the mutant ability to manipulate luck, who joins Deadpool’s X-Force team. Beetz is a fantastic addition to the movie and could easily start her own franchise if she wanted to – she is that good.

The other is Leslie Uggams, who returns from the first film as Deadpool’s elderly roommate Blind Al. Uggams is hilarious as Blind Al and continue to play the smart-ass, feisty roommate who isn’t afraid to point a gun – even if it does point in the wrong direction.

5.  I actually care about Wade Wilson

Yes, in the first movie we realized why Deadpool is a character worth caring about. But in Deadpool 2, there is another character that is worth caring about – the same character Deadpool teases during the first movie’s post-credit scene, about him being in the sequel – his name is Cable.

The Cable character (Josh Brolin) is a time traveling cybernetic mutant soldier, who returns to this exact date and time from the future to kill Russell (played by Julian Dennison), a young mutant who Deadpool tries to save. This mutant, Firefist, is portrayed as a teenager who possesses fire controlling ability. And he is the key to the storyline in this movie between Cable, Deadpool and Vanessa Carlysle.

6. The awesome opening credit

Having already talked a bit about the opening credit scene, I won’t spot it for you any further. Instead, I will focus on the post-credit scene. While I won’t tell you what it is about, let me just say that yes, it does live up to the hype – and it actually occurs during mid-credits! As previously mentioned in the self-deprecating humor section, Ryan Reynolds isn’t afraid to go after himself or any other X-Men characters.

7. Hilarious supporting characters

Having already mentioned some, there are other new and returning supporting characters that make Deadpool 2 worthwhile. First are returning characters Dopinder, the Indian cab driver (played by Karan Soni) and Weasel, Deadpool’s best friend (played by T.J. Miller).

Both help Deadpool as he recruits for his X-Force team. The other parts of that team are the aforementioned Domino, Zeitgeist (played by Bill Skarsgård), a mutant who can spew acidic vomit from his mouth, and Bedlam (played by Terry Crews), a mutant can generate a bio-EM field that wreaks havoc with electrical and certain mechanical systems. Also returning is Colossus (voiced by Stefan Kapičić), an experienced member of the X-Men with the mutant ability to transform his entire body into organic steel. All supporting characters add a new dimension to Deadpool and make him realize he is part of a team, whether it’s called X-Force of not.

8. Biting wit delivered with fun action sequences

Certainly the protagonist of the first movie – the one who is constantly wise-cracking as he shoots and makes human kabobs out of people – is back. Although director Tim Miller, who helmed the first film didn’t return, director David Leitch (John Wick with Chad Stahelski, Atomic Blonde) does use his experience as a stunt coordinator to deliver some stylish action sequences, as did Tim Miller in the first movie. Also with Reynolds as one of three credited writers, he takes more creative control with the sequel. And he makes good points about the mindless punching and grating of dubstep music cues.

9. Ryan Reynolds is perfect in the role

Ah yes, as much as it was true in the first movie, it’s even more obvious in this movie. While in the first movie we saw what Ryan Reynolds does best — showcase his comedy, Deadpool 2’s greatest strength is its restraint. As co-writer, Reynolds has less of an impulse to go for the obvious joke all the time. That being said, this sequel is funnier and filthier than the first film, and it capitalizes on its plot and supporting characters that make Reynolds shine.

10. The fact that it turns the conventional superhero formula on its head

If you can make the case that the first Deadpool was a raunchy superhero movie, Deadpool 2 is its more refined, more R-rated older brother. The film makes it a point for not taking itself or its humor too seriously, which can be harder than it looks. As Ruth said in her original review:

I think the fact that the movie IS relentlessly hilarious means the humor hits the mark. The “breaking the fourth wall” style also works well for the movie, which apparently is loyal to the comics.

Deadpool 2 continues that tradition of “breaking the fourth wall” and does it even better than the first one. Fans of the first Deadpool will not be disappointed with the sequel and by the looks of it, we have at least several more Deadpool movies to look forward to.

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A quick note from Ruth:

Having seen this last Saturday night, I definitely agree the sequel is even funnier than the original! I thought the humor would be derivative and his constant fourth-wall breaking and self-deprecating humor would annoy me but I’m glad I was genuinely tickled the entire time. The opening credits was just as hilarious as the first one, too! I like the kinetic action sequences by David Leitch (who gave us the super fun John Wick!) and so fun seeing Julian Dennison who was terrific in Hunt for the Wilderpeople (which I recently rewatched). I wonder if Reynolds even consulted w/ Taika Waititi as Julian’s character referenced some of the humor from that movie.

I also really LOVE Zazie Beetz‘s Domino! The German-African actress lives up to her über-cool name as Domino is so fun to watch and spin-off worthy! I gotta mention another new character that made me laugh: Peter (Rob Delaney) whose lack of superpower is more than made up by sheer enthusiasm! And you know what, despite all the meta zany-ness, the plot actually holds up, imagine that!

Of course, if you’re not a fan of the Merc with a mouth and his raunchy brand of humor to begin with, I’m not sure this one will change your mind.


So, what do you think of Deadpool 2?

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FlixChatter Review: Hitman’s Bodyguard (2017)

Happy Eclipse Day folks! Did you get outside and view it? It’s only partial eclipse where I live, but still pretty cool. Well, at least there’s something fun to do on a Monday. Well, as Summer season is almost coming to a close, I have to say it has been kind of a ho-hum Summer at the movies. There’s nothing that truly wowed me… even Chris Nolan’s Dunkirk which I was impressed with, didn’t really linger in my memory that much after all.

Well, this past week was unusual because I actually saw two new releases that were pretty similar, as in both are action comedies targeted to a similar audience. Well, here’s my quick thoughts on one of them…

I gotta say that in when the trailer of this came on w/ the famous Whitney Houston’s song spoofing The Bodyguard movie, I knew I had to see this. I knew it’ll probably be silly but I also couldn’t resist the pairing of Samuel L. Jackson (Kincaid) with post-Deadpool Ryan Reynolds (Bryce). So Reynolds plays the world’s top bodyguard who reluctantly takes a new client, a hit man (Jackson) who must testify at the International Court of Justice. So in the spirit of Planes, Trains, and Automobiles and other countless road comedies genre, they must put their differences aside and work together to make it to their destination on time.

Despite the rather simple and yes, unoriginal premise, the movie did make me laugh… a lot. I always prefer Reynolds in comedies anyway and he’s pretty hilarious here against the more gregarious Jackson as they constantly hurl insults at each other. The pair have a good chemistry together and look like they had a blast making this. It’s not exactly a fresh buddy cop flick, but it’s got enough humor and fun action scenes for an entertaining escape at the movies. Salma Hayek though, is quite the scene-stealer as Jackson’s sexy-but-deadly wife Sonia.

The journey from London to Hague is marred with shenanigans as a bunch of cops and bad guys are hot on their trail. I thought director Patrick Hughes is pretty decent in filming the action scenes and car chases all over Europe. I especially enjoyed the Amsterdam car/boat/motorcycle chase that’s slightly reminiscent of a Bond/Bourne flick. Sadly, veteran actors in supporting roles (such as Gary Oldman and Richard E. Grant) are always criminally wasted in a film like this. Boy, Oldman’s been cashing out a lot lately, eh?

Given the R-rating, this film is quite violent and foul mouthed. There’s practically F-bombs in every dialog, which is excessive in my book. The plot is familiar but not completely silly. There is an amusing twist as to what happened to Bryce’s high-flying client, as well some philosophical themes to ponder, as Kincaid asked Bryce who’s more evil “…he who kills evil motherf******, or he who protects them?” Obviously each think one is more righteous than the other. I’d say this movie is still pretty fun to watch despite the usual clichés and inherent silliness, but not exactly one to rush to the theater to see.


Have you seen Hitman’s Bodyguard? Well, what did you think?

Guest Review: LIFE (2017)

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Directed By: Daniel Espinosa
Written By: Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick
Runtime: 1 hr 43 minutes

I wish I could at least pretend to be as cool as the other writers who sit around me at these press screenings. I wish I could go to a genuinely scary movie like Life and calmly take notes, looking up at the screen dispassionately as I mentally critique some of the lamer dialogue. But I’m not cool, so instead I sit there cringing for an hour and a half, fighting the urge to put my hands over my eyes during a couple especially gag-worthy moments, “ohmygodohmyohmygodohmygod” written all over my face. On the bright side, any movie that can elicit this kind of reaction is pretty impressive.

Life follows a crew on the International Space Station (Hiroyuki Sanada as Sho Murakami, Ryan Reynolds as Rory Adams, Rebecca Ferguson as Miranda North, Jake Gyllenhaal as David Jordan, Olga Dihovichnaya as Ekaterina Golovkina, and Ariyon Bakare as Hugh Derry) that has obtained a Martian soil sample containing a living organism dubbed “Calvin.” While initially thrilled at their discovery of life on another planet, the crew soon has to fight for their lives as Calvin quickly evolves into a terrifying creature that threatens both them and, if they don’t stop it, life on Earth.

While fighting a terrifying extraterrestrial is hardly an original concept for a film, it is still incredibly well done here. Both the pacing of the movie and the soundtrack create a suspenseful atmosphere the whole hour and forty-three minutes. The CGI is impressive, and Calvin is a truly spooky creation; the design isn’t over the top, but it’s still genuinely scary, and the way it moves is so unnerving. The whole cast gives a strong performance, especially Hiroyuki Sanada and Jake Gyllenhaal, who have a couple stand-out moments during some particularly emotional scenes. However, the actors do tend to mumble some of their lines, making them hard to understand at times. There is also some lazy dialogue-clichéd jokes, comments stating the obvious- that falls flat and sometimes distracts from the overall feel of the movie.

Despite the couple issues I had with this film, I really enjoyed Life. I can see myself watching it again and being just as creeped out as the first time, which, for a sci-fi/horror movie, is no easy feat. If you want to be on the edge of your seat for most of the run time, definitely check this one out.

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Have you seen ‘LIFE’? Well, what did you think? 

Five for the Fifth: DECEMBER 2016 Edition

Welcome to FlixChatter’s primary blog series! As is customary for this monthly feature, I get to post five random news item/observation/poster, etc. and then turn it over to you to share your take on that given topic. You can see the previous five-for-the-fifth posts here.

1. We’re now on the last FFTF edition of 2016, wow! Well, just this past week, Netflix Offline was trending on Twitter and it was the biggest news on Flipboard that week. I actually haven’t been desperately wishing to download Netflix movies as even when I’m on the plane where there are no Internet, I usually just watch what’s available on the airline entertainment channel. But I could see that it’s a dream come true for many of you who’ve been wanting to watch movies anywhere on their smartphone or tablet offline. I’d also think it’d have greater appeal in international markets such as Africa and Asia, where internet service is less ubiquitous than it is in the United States.

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Now, not everything on its vast library is available to download, but surely all the Netflix Original series/movies would be available. Just don’t expect any of the Disney stuff to be downloadable anytime soon, or ever.

So which films or TV shows have you downloaded or planning on downloading straight away? 

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2. Boy, James Gunn has been quite busy lately. On top of working on Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2, he actually had time to write the script of this action thriller. One commenter on Youtube dubbed ‘Office Space meets The Purge, yikes! The Belko Experiment isn’t exactly my cup of tea, despite the pretty good cast, but surely it’ll find an audience.

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Now, switching gear to the follow up to yet another reboot of a franchise nobody is really clamoring to see. I gotta admit though, the cast of Tom Cruise AND Russell Crowe, and the fact that Christopher McQuarrie directs it, intrigues me a bit. Behold the first trailer of The Mummy:

It might as well be titled Mission Impossible: Paranormal. Cruise is on the run once again with a pretty girl (half his age) in tow. But is Cruise the mummy?? He’s shown waking up on a morgue after a horrific plane crash with not a scratch on him! That would be a fun twist wouldn’t it? But what is Crowe supposed to be in this story?? Well I’m sure we’ll have more trailers until its June 2017 release.

Anyhoo, thoughts about either one of these trailers?

3. On Saturday mornings my hubby and I usually sleep in a bit and would watch some stuff on our iPad in bed. We ended up watching the entire episode of Variety’s Actors On Actors series featuring Taraji P. Henson and Ryan Reynolds. 

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It was really fun to watch these tête-à-têtes as various actors get candid about their struggles and triumphs in the business. There’s quite a lineup in this year’s series, so I plan on watching a bunch of them later.

Have you watched these? Which episode and/or actor pairings are your fave?
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4. Ok, for the fourth question, let’s discuss about cinematic discoveries. It’s up for debate whether 2016 has been a good or mediocre year for movies. But every year I’m always grateful for new talent discoveries… actors who either have been acting for a while (Mahershala Ali) or those who’ve made their debut (Julian Dennison).

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As you can see, I’m eternally grateful to Moonlight for introducing me to SO many great talents! I have to mention the trio of actors portraying the protagonist as well. I might do a full post on this topic later, but for now I’d like to know…

Who’s your favorite talent(s) you discovered in 2016?

5. This month Five for the Fifth’s guest is Cindy from Cindy Bruchman’s Blog! It’s about a show on Netflix I’ve been curious about… and its leading man (Alexander Dreymon) sure looks very crush-worthy 😉

So here’s Cindy’s question:

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While a fan of Game of Thrones, I’m impressed with ‘The Last Kingdom.’ It simulates the historical culture of Britain circa 800 A.D., and I love the authentic touches of the filming, the plot, and the acting. It doesn’t have the magical realism of GoT, but I have to say I prefer it.

So have you seen “The Last Kingdom”? What do you like about and/or who’s your favorite character?


Well, that’s it for the DECEMBER edition of Five for the Fifth, folks. Take part by picking a question out of the five above or better yet, do ‘em all! 

FlixChatter Review: CRIMINAL (2016)

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For the last couple of years, Hollywood is giving Kevin Costner another shot at being a box office draw. Unfortunately all the films he starred in as the lead mustered very little box office returns and looks like that trend will continue with his new action thriller.

After a botched mission, CIA agent Bill Pope (Ryan Reynolds) was killed and his boss Quaker Wells (Gary Oldman) needs to know what happened. Pope was going to bring in a hacker named Jan Stroop (Michael Pitt) who has the possession of a very powerful technology that can destroy the world. In order to find out what happened and locate Stroop, Wells contacted Dr. Franks (Tommy Lee Jones) who’s an expert at transferring memory cells from one being to another. Dr. Franks decided to choose a very dangerous criminal named Jericho Stewart (Kevin Costner) to receive Pope’s memory.

After the brain operation, Stewart told Wells and Franks that he doesn’t have Pope’s memory inside him, this of course was a lie since Stewart has own agenda after seeing flashes of what happened to Pope before he died. Wells was furious and told his men to take Stewart back to prison. But Stewart was able to escape and he’s on the run not only from CIA agents but a very powerful man named Hagbardaka Heimbahl (Spanish actor Jordi Mollà) and his assassins.

With the successes of the Jason Bourne films, seems like many spy action films have tried to copy those films. And this one is no exception, we get the usual CIA folks tracking our hero through surveillance cameras, car chases and hand to hand combat. I did like the script by Douglas Cook and David Weisberg, they tried to bring some new ideas to a familiar genre. Unfortunately the pacing of the movie is a bit uneven and I think the blame should go to director Ariel Vromen. He doesn’t seem to know if he wants to make a gritty action thriller or dramatic thriller. Also, this may not be his fault because of the movie’s very low budget but the action sequences were poorly staged and ended way too quickly. I did appreciate that he didn’t shy away from making the violent scenes very bloody, I miss seeing R-rated action films.

Performances wise, the movie belongs to Costner and he’s quite good here. At first his character starts out as a very despicable person but of course he becomes the hero and saves the world as the movie progresses. Oldman and Jones didn’t have much to do and same can be said of Gal Gadot.

This is the kind of action movie that probably best-suited for a TV movie of the week or straight to home video. It’s too bad though, with a cast like this, you’d think the final product would be something special.

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Have you seen CRIMINAL? Well, what did you think?