Cert: 15 Runtime: 125 mins Director: Richard Linklater Cast: Bryan Cranston, Steve Carell and Laurence Fishburne
Every generation has their war. Men make the wars and wars make the men. It never ends!
Richard Linklater has gone back to his smaller origins after the critical success of Boyhood. Last Flag Flying is his latest and allegedly one of his most powerful of films. With a strong trio of actors leading his latest venture what could go wrong? What is Last Flag Flying all about you ask? Larry “Doc” Shepherd (Steve Carell), a former Navy medic, has had the type of year that no one deserves. It’s 2003 and he has just been notified that his Marine son was killed in action while on duty in the war in Iraq. He embarks on a mission to ask his Vietnam buddies Sal Nealon (Bryan Cranston) and Richard Mueller (Laurence Fishburne) accompany him to claim his son’s body at Arlington National Cemetery. The three men share the burden of a war secret that each has tried to forget, and they begin what’s basically a road trip movie of middle aged men bonding during what is the absolute low point in life for one of them.
Last Flag Flying was subtly delicate and original, mixing comedy with sensitive subjects is what Richard Linklater does best. Richard Linklater has the ability to tell a story with a certain warmth. You feel that and you feel what these actors portrait. Even though this movie deals with marines and serving your country it is not about that. It is about friendship, about forgiving about loss and so much more. The execution was careful and on point and bringing on some huge names excelled in both comedy and drama. Steve Carell shines quietly throughout and continues to show his stellar acting chops. While Bryan Cranston is a lot more showy and Fishburne keeps the trio glued together. Unfortunately, the contrivances are too many and too frequent to allow the film and characters to breathe and achieve the greatness of a true message movie. It teases us with flashes us brilliance and then pokes us in the ribs with another goofy sidebar as if to say “just kidding”. It seems this would have been better served as an intimate portrayal of these three ageing men who were willing to die for their country than as a giant political anti-war statement and an accusation of how evil the government is.
Cert: 15 Runtime: 122 mins Director: Chad Stahelski Cast: Keanu Reeves, Riccardo Scamarcio, Ian McShane, Ruby Rose, Common and Laurence Fishburne
You stabbed the devil in the back. To him this isn’t vengeance, this is justice.
John Wick was the resurrection Keanu Reeves and the world needed! It became an instant hit and re-established Keanu in mainstream cinema. For me it was a breath of fresh air and probably the most invigorating action films for sometime. So what is John Wick: Chapter 2 about? John Wick (Keanu Reeves) isn’t having much luck staying retired. Now a former associate of the unstoppable hitman is planning to take over the shadowy international assassins’ guild. John is bound by a blood oath to assist him and reluctantly travels to Rome to fulfil this obligation. Matters are complicated by the fact that someone has ‘opened an account’ on John himself, which means that every bad-ass on the planet is now closing in!
John Wick: Chapter 2 is a very enjoyable. I think the first one had the more emotional impact as we got to see a terrible thing done to him and him returning to his deadly past, but this one kind of shows you how his job probably was before he decide to settle down and get married. Almost an equal trade off. The movie is definitely a sequel and feels like it is in the flow of the first film. There have been a few sequels in the past that have kind of felt off. This one had plenty of action and featured a lot of bloodshed. It did do some computer blood, which I wish they did not do as practical effects as far as blood goes looks a lot better. Did not look bad, but you can tell it was computer generated. I like Keanu Reeves, I find him to be an enjoyable actor. I know a lot of people do not care for him, but I like his work. I like that they brought back Ian McShane as his character is very interesting and I like the whole world that they set up in these films. It almost seems like these characters are part of some established world, like a series of graphic novels or something they way that the two films have played out. There is definitely an opening for a third film and I hope it gets made as if it does not, we fans of the two films will really be kept hanging! Overall, though, my complaints are few and far between while my praise is early and often. I also know that if I was an assassin in this world and I saw John Wick as the hit, I would text back, “No amount of money is enough!”