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This Means War (2012) review
02/17/12 at 06:36 PM by EvilButters
McG hasn't really been seen in the director's chair since Terminator Salvation hit theaters back in 2009. Audiences were split as to whether they actually enjoyed Salvation or not as critics hated it and the movie failed to make back its budget in its domestic gross. So what's the logical next step after doing a movie about the nuclear holocaust and the ongoing war between humans and humanoid machines? You could probably guess the action bit, but the romantic comedy part would probably throw you off.

This Means War is the story of FDR (Chris Pine) and Tuck (Tom Hardy) two CIA agents who are two of the best agents in their field. FDR and Tuck are partners and best friends, but come to a gentleman's agreement when they both start dating the same woman named Lauren (Reese Witherspoon). Both FDR and Tuck begin falling for Lauren and not only begin breaking the rules that they set for one another, but use whatever means necessary to keep Lauren in their good graces.

This Means War throws you right into one of FDR and Tuck's missions right from the start. The main issue becomes how dizzying the camera work is. The action hits extremely hard and is incredibly fast paced, but you have a difficult time actually following just what is transpiring in these quick cuts let alone trying to keep your wits about you. This is kind of odd since I wasn't a fan of Terminator Salvation, but felt like one of its strongest qualities was how the camera always seemed to be in the right place during the action. Maybe McG decided to regress back to his Charlie's Angels mindset for This Means War.

The action heavy romantic comedy is dragged down by annoying girl talk. Lauren and her friend Trish (Chelsea Handler) do nothing but whine and complain about their lives the entire movie while also revealing they're basically the most promiscuous girls around. This Means War paints this picture of women that they all date multiple guys at once and will put out just to try and make a decision. It's pretty demeaning to women in general. Between Lauren and Trish's talks of the size of a man's private parts or a lightning round involving sex, every inch of dialogue between them is unbearable right from the start. Meanwhile, FDR and Tuck have quite a bit of immature bickering between one another as well. It becomes borderline homophobic at times and just feels very third grade for nearly half of the film. The second half becomes a little easier to digest and the highlight comes when FDR mocks Tuck's British accent.

The storyline is very imbecilic, as well. Using the gadgets, technology, and basically every ounce of intelligence of the CIA to try and win over a woman is just asinine. The actual mission, which is certainly more interesting than the love triangle you're forced to endure, isn't even second fiddle. It's more like the third or fourth subplot of the movie. The FDR/Tuck/Lauren love triangle being the primary, FDR/Tuck's friendship falling apart being the secondary, Lauren trying to mull things over with Trish being the third, and Tuck trying to be a stand up family man the fourth. So that would make the actual mission the fifth subplot of the movie. How lame is that?

This Means War does get a little less irritating as it progresses. The jokes get slightly less offensive and Tom Hardy still manages to be the best part of the movie. While Reese Witherspoon has to make it a point to try and jiggle around while wearing horrible clothes and singing off key and Chris Pine attempts to be the biggest womanizer he possibly can, they still manage to squeeze in Tom Hardy being a complete bad ass. The paintball scene is one of the highlights, but the most original aspect of the movie comes in one of the first (of many) dates Tuck has with Lauren. He takes her to a carnival and at the end of it takes her on the trapeze. It's actually really cool and would be a really fun first date for anyone.

This Means War is a frustrating and awful excuse for entertainment. Its humor is lame and offensive in the way that it insults all of mankind by how stupid and immature it is, its plot is horrible and insulting, and Reese Witherspoon will test every last ounce of patience you possibly have. This Means War gives you the impression that women are easy and that if you've got enough game then everything works out for the best. While it does have a few moments that try to make up for how terrible it really is, This Means War still can't shake the fact that its spewed excrement into your face for over an hour and a half.

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Tags: This Means War, review, comedy, action, Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pine, Tom Hardy
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Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011) review
01/06/12 at 03:35 PM by EvilButters
There was much to be excited about when it came to Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. It may have been a remake, but it also featured the likes of Gary Oldman, Tom Hardy, John Hurt, and Mark Strong in a spy movie. Odds are that you're a fan of one of those actors and who doesn't love a film about spies? Gary Oldman and Tom Hardy are what initially attracted me to the project and Mark Strong was just a pleasant surprise, so the anticipation was very high. Unfortunately, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is basically a waste of two hours.

A press screening for this was held nearly three weeks before the film’s limited release date. Everyone who attended was handed what was referred to as a "cheat sheet," which not only helped describe the film but also went into detail about "The Circus" along with definitions of code names and terms that were used throughout the film. This is being mentioned because unless you've read the book, have seen the original 1979 film, or receive this "cheat sheet" and go over it in great detail then you will more than likely be lost throughout most of the film. Five years ago, Donnie Darko director Richard Kelly released a film called Southland Tales. The unusual thing about it was that the movie was actually episodes 4-6 while a prequel graphic novel contained episodes 1-3. It's an interesting approach that deserves credit for trying something different, but the bottom line is that most people won't and don't read up on a film before it's released.

With that said, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy isn't completely incomprehensible. You still know what's going on, but you just don't care. It's a very slow moving film that relies on dialogue more than anything to tell the story. Its nonlinear sense of storytelling isn't a smooth transition and is a bit difficult to keep track of at times. Didn't this character die earlier? Wasn't he working for somebody else like five minutes ago? Wait wait wait...WHAT? Who the HELL is that guy? These are the types of questions you'll probably be asking yourself. The majority of the characters seem very similar to one another and even share similar hairstyles. So everyone basically comes off as old, bitter people working for the government that are paranoid about a mole and probably should have retired ten years ago, which is kind of odd since the film revolves around retired agents attempting to be pulled back into the service.

Gary Oldman puts in a fascinating performance as George Smiley, but it fails in comparison to most of the other film characters he's known for. Smiley doesn't even speak for a good while (Oldman is probably shown on screen for at least a good ten to fifteen minutes before he actually says anything) and the fact that Oldman went through such precise detail just to pick out the appropriate pair of glasses for the character is admirable. He has one magnificent scene in the film, which occurs in his office with Peter Guillam (Benedict Cumberbatch) as he tells the story of how Karla never returned his engraved lighter. It's easily the best scene in the film. Tom Hardy is also fairly fantastic in his role as he shows quite a bit of emotion in the film and Mark Strong offers the type of solid performance you'd expect from the English actor.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy does have a few redeeming qualities that mostly lie within the performances of Gary Oldman and Tom Hardy. Its decorative setting and use of unique perspective automatically makes the film appealing to the eye. The film is really bland the majority of the time though and is extremely uneventful. Even when something violent does occur, it fades into obscurity rather quickly and is covered up by the gargantuan amounts of jargon that's constantly regurgitated amongst everyone on-screen. So despite a few semi-decent performances and an experience that's at least visually intriguing, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is a thriller that never really gets thrilling. Your constant uphill battle to stay awake until the film ends is far more exhilarating.

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Tags: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, review, thriller, remake, Gary Oldman, Tom Hardy
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Warrior (2011) review
09/04/11 at 04:03 PM by EvilButters
I'm not a fan of MMA. I don't hate it and I can sit down and watch it, but I'm not a fan of the sport. I'm also fairly certain I've never seen a Gavin O'Connor directed film until now. To be honest, the one thing that made me want to see this movie was Tom Hardy getting top billing. Hardy's been around awhile, but most probably didn't give the guy much thought until he started showing up in Christopher Nolan films. Bronson was the movie that made me admire his talent though. Warrior is fairly outstanding in general anyway, but could also give even more weight to Hardy's name.

Paddy Conlon (Nick Nolte) lost everything when he was a drunk. His wife died without him by her bedside and both of his sons cut him off almost completely. His younger son Tommy (Tom Hardy) shows up on his doorstep one day after being in the army wanting nothing more than a coach for the big Spartan MMA tournament coming up. Tommy is withdrawn and doesn't want to share anything about his life and it turns out that there's a reason for that. Meanwhile Paddy's other son Brendan (Joel Edgerton) is facing a foreclosure on his house and was suspended from his teaching job after being caught fighting in the parking lot of a strip club. Brendan enters the tournament in hopes of keeping his family afloat while Tommy's purpose has something to do with his army brethren. Warrior is more of a story about the Conlon family struggling to find it within themselves to forgive each other rather than who will win this massive MMA tournament.

The cast is really phenomenal in this. Nick Nolte manages to outshine both Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton as far as performances go. While Hardy and Edgerton are off beating the crap out of each other in the cage, Nolte portrays some amazing emotion. You can tell he's a broken man trying to get his life back on track and everything seems to be blowing up in his face. Joel Edgerton really plays up the whole underdog thing. A physics teacher in an MMA tournament? He doesn't stand a chance. Edgerton displays emotion as well, but his performance is otherwise forgettable. Tom Hardy plays the typical tough guy. Nothing is going to stand in his way. He'd rather not talk if he can help it, but he's an absolute beast in that cage. While each lead actor in the movie has their own strengths and weaknesses, they have all the bases covered between the three of them to make everything come together.

Some of the supporting cast is really interesting. This was an intriguing film to follow up leaving "House, MD" for Jennifer Morrison and it's nice to see Kevin Dunn be at least somewhat amusing and not completely irritating like he was in the Transformers movies. It was crazy seeing Kurt Angle in this though, especially as a Russian. It's as if he was playing a modern day version of Ivan Drago who took up MMA instead of boxing and never had anything to say about it.

Warrior did have its shortcomings though. It is a bit cliché and predictable. The whole movie is centered on these two brothers finally fighting in the cage and you can probably guess who's going to win; is it going to be the guy that breaks every rule imaginable with a chip on his shoulder or the kind, warm school teacher with a family that everybody loves? But the whole experience was about more than just who would win that fight though. Thankfully there's a bit of a deeper meaning to it. The camera work got really annoying at times as well though. It was as if it was attempting to go for this gritty, realistic style and it just came off as somebody not being able to hold a camera steadily or terrible perspectives that blocked more of the shot than anything else.

Warrior packs one hell of a punch. Its incredible, emotional, and powerful story is told by a talented cast amongst a flurry of knockout punches and submission holds that'll force you to tap to the spectacular journey you just experienced. Nick Nolte gives a scene stealing performance while Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton pick up the scraps and tend to take pride in delivering what Nolte couldn't follow up on. While Warrior does have its flaws, it's essentially to MMA what The Fighter was to boxing. In the end, Warrior is surprisingly heartfelt and delivers a wonderful message.

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Tags: Warrior, movie review, action, drama, sports, MMA, Tom Hardy, Joel Edgerton
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Last Updated: 02/18/12 (19,640 Views)
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