Some Girls Just Seem Smart

Every so often, a body of work comes along that is truly a great example of a certain genre or medium. Often the producers of such work cannot recreate subsequent projects with the same quality no matter how much the fans the want it. Luc Besson’s The Fifth Element is a masterpiece in the science fiction genre that combines a fantastic story with brilliant execution. But many of his subsequent movies leave a lot to be desired. Lucy is a perfect example of this.

Scarlett Johansson stars as the titular Lucy, a girl caught up with the wrong crowd. She inadvertently delivers a batch of new drugs to a kingpin who then uses her as a mule to transport them. But Lucy is beaten and the drugs leak into her system overriding her neurons and activating new parts of her brain. She develops amazing powers but learns she must have the drug or her body will literally dissipate.

The move is odd and hard to describe. The goal was to be an intelligent look at something that is often theorized in science. What if humans could use all their bran instead of just 10 percent we currently use? But the movie isn’t as smart as it thinks it is.

The biggest issues are the multitude of plot holes. She can tell what’s going to happen outside a building because she can read everything around her? Great. But then how come she doesn’t know someone a block away is following her? This is just one of the many instances that Besson just changes the facts to suite his plot purposes. Even Lucy’s words ate the end of the film are contradictory to points the made earlier in the movie.j4b3g305e1nl-is-scarlett-johansson-s-lucy-just-going-to-do-this-the-entire-movie

On top of this, the movie is interspersed with other aspects of the animal world to parallel human evolution. They are implanted into the movie jarring you away from the actual action of the movie. The filmmakers throw the comparisons in your face making sure you understand what they were trying to say.  The movie is about as subtle as Shark ado.

The film tries hard to balance humor, action, and dramatic plot line but it can’t seem to handle all three. The climax goes very much into the metaphysical leaving you confused of its purpose. Had Lucy just been cool action flick or a sci-fi drama, think I would have enjoyed it more. And no, Lucy, I don’t know what you are trying to say.

In Brick Mansions

Paul Walker was best known for his work on the Fast & Furious franchise. Most fans didn’t take the time to catch his dramatic work choosing to enjoy the fast paced and fun world of street racing. Brick Mansions is in this similar vein and is extra special because this was Walker’s last completed work before his tragic death last year.

Brick Mansion takes place in the near future after the worst part of Detroit has been bricked off from the rest of the city. The government thinks that violence and crime cannot be regulated and they leave the citizens to fend for themselves. These citizens include Lino an immigrant who best talent is jacking drugs and jumping through small spaces.  He is trying to bring some justice against Tremaine Alexander the drug-selling, gun0running “leader” of Brick Mansions but this lands him in jail after his girlfriend is kidnapped. Meanwhile, Damien (Walker), a cop with a chip on his shoulder, is eager to get into Brick Mansion to seek vengeance for his father’s death and jumps at a suicide mission that is aimed at taking down Tremaine. The only catch? He must pair up with Lino who can get him around the decrepit city.

Luc Besson wrote the script based on the screen play of his French film Banlieve 13. He also brings in other collaborators. Camille Delamarre, a long time editor for the producer/director, steps into the director’s chair orchestrating jumpy fight scenes. David Belle reprised his role from the original which explains the most obviously overdubbed dialogue since Jackie Chan’s first English films. Belle, actor and stunt man does well with the fighting sequences but not the emotional aspects of acting. Delamarre is m-112bbm4328rv1jpg-e32547opposite slowing the shots down to capture the emotional aspects of the characters.

Never the less, this movie is just plain fun. While there is some philosophical ideas of race, poverty, and government the movies doesn’t focus on these. Instead, it puts the hand to hand combat at the front and watching Belle and Walker work off each other is frantic fun. It’s similar to RZA’s The Man with the Iron Fist, it may not be a great movie but viewers enjoy it and are able to get out of their reality for a couple of hours.

Would I like this movie as much is someone else (say Jason Statham) was in it? Not really. The movie works because viewers believe Walker as the character and can tell he had so much fun in making it. And, yes; there is a bitter sweet happiness to watching his final completed film. Luckily, I didn’t cry until the dedication at the end.

Brick Mansions doesn’t get overly preachy and is much better than Besson’s Three Days to Kill. If you’re an action fan or a fan of the late Walker, this is a must see for a good time.

 

 

Costner vs Neeson

Aging action stars are all the rage in Hollywood right now. But how do dramatic Hollywood stars stack up?

A Movie to Kill

Director McG stays in his favorite genre: spies. Three Days to Kill attempts to add a real storyline to a shoot ‘em up but adds too much cheese for the movie to stand on its own.

amber-heard-in-3-days-to-kill-movie-2Kevin Costner is Ethan Kenner a CIA operative who opts out after he finds out he has brain cancer. He heads to Paris to spend time with his estranged wife and daughter before he dies. But he is brought back into the fold to catch a terrorist only he has seen. When he is promised a magic experimental drub as payment, he can’t turn down.

The cast is a problem. Though I give Costner more credit for this role, he’s not the one that brings the movie down the most. Hailee Steinfeld gets staring credit but her portrayal of a teenage girl is truly one dimensional and stale. Though she has more emotion in 3 Days to Kill than she did in Ender’s Game, she does have the natural talent her Ender Counterpart Abigail Breslin had at an early age. Connie Nielsen as the wife was terrible and, like the daughter, the poorly written and relying on making the mother a nag. The movie does not even use its best character to her best ability. Vivi (played by the fierce Amber Heard) is negated to small roles egging Costner’s character to do her bidding without much explanation.

The movie tries to become a family oriented film but cliché after cliché bogs it down. He teaches his daughter to ride a bicycle, he teaches her to dance, the ex-wife gives in and sleeps with him, and more. The only saving grace in the humor that peppers the movie bringing enjoyment in the dullest or most sappy moments. Luc Besson is often a genius but his basic story is lost in the sap and I want to blame Adi Hasak for that, but I’m sure I can.

Non-Stop Thrills

Liam Neeson has turned into an action star. Many complain that he shouldn’t be. But he is and will continue to be a bad ass. Though critics have a point, he seemed like the least likely action star candidate, he does well with the persona and is always himself.  We love to watch him kick ass.rs_560x415-131016133110-560.liam.cm.101613

Non-Stop seems very out there, but it puts itself together well. An Air Marshal must find out who is killing a passenger every twenty minutes. But things get more complicated as things turn against him. His past and life as an alcoholic works against him as staff and passengers turn against him. But Bill never gives up intent on saving those on the plan.

Non-Stop doesn’t stop. The plot is always twining keeping the audience on its toes. What you think you know you don’t. And while the reasons behind the terrorist attack are lame, the actual process is gripping and exciting. You never know who to trust, even questioning the “hero” himself.

Bottom Line: Non-Stop is one if just plain fun (no pun intended).  It’s soars over 3 Days to Kill focusing on action and not family feel good cheese.