Run All Night

March 13, 2015 by  
Filed under Cody, Reviews, Uncategorized

Starring: Liam Neeson, Ed Harris, Joel Kinnaman
Directed by: Jaume Collet-Serra (“Non-Stop”)
Written by: Brad Inglesby (“Out of The Furnace”)

Stop me if you’ve heard this before: in order to escape a dangerous situation, a deeply flawed, but stoic and stern Liam Neeson needs to use his kickassery skills that were honed in some vague way to pile bodies and save the day. It’s a formula that has served Neeson well, as he has sustained a newfound action film career as he rolls into his 60s. Still, one can’t help but think Neeson is making the same movie over and over again, an issue which continues in “Run All Night.”

After witnessing a murder, Mike (Joel Kinnaman) finds himself in danger from the ruthless son of a mobster. When Mike’s estranged father Jimmy (Liam Neeson) shows up to try and protect his son, he is left with the choice to kill the man after him. To complicate things further, the man he killed is the son of his longtime best friend Shawn (Ed Harris). With a vow to return the favor, Jimmy and Mike must band together to survive one long night.

There usually isn’t a lot of variance or nuance to Neeson in this particular type of role, and “Run All Night” provides no exception. It’s a typecast that, at this point, he is comfortable in and, to his credit, also pretty adept at. Still, it is no different than any other performance in any other action film he has starred in. As his son, Kinnaman is a little bit of a blank slate, never showing enough emotion to register as a worthwhile character. Of the entire cast, it is the always fantastic Harris who stands out as the most well rounded of the bunch.

The “eye for an eye” driving story behind “Run All Night” is familiar, but is actually heightened a bit by the prior relationship between Harris and Neeson’s character. Unfortunately, those complexities are never fully explored and it feels like an entirely missed opportunity. There is also the case of the father-son relationship between Neeson and Kinnaman, which is intentionally icy cold from the get-go yet never warms up, even when it is meant to.

The requisite violence, narrow escaping in close calls and angry phone threatening that happens in every single one of these Neeson movies is, of course, present and at the forefront of “Run All Night.” It is generic, by the numbers and a clear signal that the Neeson shoot-em-ups are growing tired. Neeson, unexpectedly, has proven himself to be an action star capable of commanding the screen. It’s a shame that filmmakers can’t provide him with more complex roles and juicier storytelling.

RoboCop

February 14, 2014 by  
Filed under Jerrod, Reviews

Starring: Joel Kinnaman, Gary Oldman, Michael Keaton
Directed by: Jose Padilha (“Elite Squad”)
Written by: Joshua Zetumer (debut)

Question: is it fair to judge a remake/reboot by how it compares to the original film? After all, with the near-instant availability of pretty much every movie ever made via streaming or download, its easier than ever to to tick off essential film boxes on your personal movie watching checklist. Remakes don’t exist in a vacuum, especially remakes of beloved modern classics. If we’re being honest, remakes are at least partly banking on the movie-going public having at least a passing knowledge of the original film.

Answer: yeah, absolutely. And when it comes to the new remake of “RoboCop,” the comparison (probably not surprisingly) isn’t favorable.

Like the gory 1987 sci-fi satire, the modern “RoboCop” centers on Detroit cop Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman). As an undercover cop, Murphy and his partner Lewis (Michael K. Williams) are made by a drug lord (Patrick Garrow) they’ve been investigating. After a shootout in a restaurant leaves Lewis hospitalized, the drug lord’s goons go after Murphy by detonating a car bomb in front of his home leaving Murphy comatose and paralyzed.

Meanwhile OmniCorp, a giant corporation responsible for producing robotic drones that keep the peace in war-torn Middle Eastern countries, desperately desires to bring its killbots to U.S. soil. Federal law prohibits robots from conducting law enforcement, however, due to the fact that the ‘bots aren’t capable of human decision-making, a law that is a frequent target of rage for outspoken talk show host Pat Novak (Samuel L. Jackson). The promise of raking in billions of dollars in the American market leads CEO Raymond Sellars (Michael Keaton) to a revelation: put a man inside a machine. After convincing Murphy’s wife (Abbie Cornish) the only way to save her dying husband is to hand him over to OmniCorp’s Dr. Norton (Gary Oldman), RoboCop is born.

Whereas director Paul Verhoeven’s late-’80s “RoboCop” relished in satirizing hyper violence and corporate greed, Brazilian director Jose Padihla’s PG-13 “RoboCop” sets its sights on the ethical dilemma of drone warfare, only with a muddier, more somber tone. The crux of the too-long subplot about the repeal of legislation banning robot cops – what is this, “The Phantom Menace?”- deals with the notion that a man should be the one pulling the trigger seems to ignore the fact that, well, men pull the triggers on robot drone strikes today. The movie also takes too long to get to the RoboCopping, dispensing buckets of backstory that ultimately doesn’t pay off, taking nearly a full hour to show off Murphy’s new cybernetic construction we all came to see.

Speaking of Murphy, the remake lets him keep his humanity from his initial boot up as RoboCop, a decision that significantly blunts the character’s arc. Instead of memory wipes, this Alex Murphy is less of a soulless automaton and instead just gets hyper-focused and emotionless when his dopamine levels are dialed down.

And, in what is perhaps the film’s worst offense, Samuel L. Jackson’s gets to utter his trademark phrase—motherfucker—only to have it bleeped. Which, when you think about it, sums up the mistakes of a straight-faced, PG-13 remake of “RoboCop” better than anything else.