21 Bridges

Viewed – 04 April 2019. Online rental

I can’t say I was all that taken by Chadwick Boseman in his star-making turn in the overrated Black Panther, but I was open to seeing what else he could do. So we come to this fairly typical thriller … that has Boseman as a seasoned detective with a bit of a reputation for gunning down bad guys over the years, who becomes involved in a manhunt for two crooks after a group of cops get killed. In order to trap the criminals he makes the unprecedented decision to lock down Manhattan by closing all bridges leading off the island. However it soon transpires there’s more to the situation than what first appears.

Boseman’s character history with his father being killed in a similar way, caused this viewer to get invested in the character’s methods. Support cast including a firm favourite of mine, J. K. Simmons and a barely recognisable Sienna Miller both prove interesting. However it’s how the two criminals are portrayed that delivers the movie’s depth and I’d have certainly liked that to have been explored a bit more. Also, an on-foot chase in the middle I must say was heart-in-mouth exciting.

However the movie’s twist sign-posts itself way too obviously early on, which means where it goes turns out (for the most part) predictable. Which is a shame because overall this is slick, exciting and regularly thrilling with plenty of style and energy. Boseman is a decent lead but at times his line-delivery is a bit ‘what did he say?’ but that’s a small gripe, and I was still gripped by his plight. Not a classic then, but a worthwhile, gritty thriller thats I still had a good time with.

Verdict: Good

American Sniper

Viewed – 01 August 2015  Online rental

Certainly one of the most talked about movies in recent memory that garnered a lot of attention around awards season, even though it was largely snubbed.  A shame as this true story of elite Navy Seal Sniper ‘Chris Kyle’ is powerful and very well acted, and a career best I’d say for actor Bradley Cooper.

American Sniper

During several tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, Kyle and his band of brothers face battles and atrocities as they attempt to track down various targets and get back home in one piece.  A rather unrecognisable Sienna Miller plays Kyle’s wife who is fighting her own battles raising two children whilst worrying about their father, as he becomes more and more traumatised by the horrors he witnesses.  This is a totally engrossing and authentic experience that pulls few punches when showing just how terrible war can get, and with the setting of a present day conflict, the back drop of 9/11 and real-world terrorism, I found this educational and heart breaking.  Cooper is excellent, considerably beefed up and probably more earnest and believable than I’ve ever seen him – he really went for it here, and it pays off.  If I was to nit-pick, I could say some of the other characters, such as Kyle’s brother and the other marines were under developed.  Also Iraqi locales are all portrayed rather one-dimensionally. Yet with a very strong central performance and some well directed action and battle scenes with plenty of tension – this was still a pretty formidable experience, that left me rather shaken.

Clint Eastwood once again proves he’s as much a presence behind the camera as he is in front, and has delivered a very well made, respectful and thought-provoking study of the harrowing effects of war and that of a true American hero.  Essential.

Verdict:  5 /5

G.I. Joe: The Rise Of Cobra

Viewed – 22 Jan 2010  Blu-ray

Over here in the UK, I don’t think the G.I. Joe toys really caught on as well as in the states.  Re-branded Action Force, I was a big fan of them and the subsequent cartoon TV series as a kid.  Yet that seems a long time ago now, and their nostalgia value is clouded at best.  So here we have, much belated I might add, the big budget movie adaptation.  Best approached as a sort of X-Men meets Mission Impossible, this follows a young soldier named Duke (Channing Tatum) who along with his best bud Ripcord (a for once, not annoying Marlon Wayans) becomes embroiled in the search for a missing, high tech warhead after a team of highly advanced super-solders steal it during a routine escort mission.  Soon our naive solder, is drafted into the ranks of a secret government squad known as G.I. Joe; the only guys with the skills, training and the technology to take on this new threat.

Basically, like any movie with aspirations of becoming a franchise, this is mostly an origins story with a few flash backs thrown in for key characters, helping to flesh out the band of likable, colourful characters.  Christopher Eccleston heads up the bad guys as a megalomania arms-dealer, aided by a sultry, dark-haired Sienna Miller and a band of souped up grunts, with the odd white ninja thrown in for good measure.  On the side of the Joe’s we have a very sexy Rachel Nichols and kung-fu genius for hire Ray Park, lead by Dennis Quaid which made me wonder what the hell this once big name actor has been doing for god knows how many years.  Directed by The Mummy’s Stephen Summers, this is a fast, fun and exciting movie, with some great set-pieces (especially the Paris-set chase) and impressive special effects.  At times the story seems a little confusing and I did lose my way at times, but then again, this one was so packed with action, it was hard to ponder the finer points of the plot.  So again, another 2009 summer event movie that knocks Transformers 2 out of the water, and hopefully a sequel is already in the pipeline!

Verdict:  4 /5