Mini-reviews to help you choose
I have to admit I was really excited for the first quarter of 2013, especially late January through Valentine’s Day. The movie calendar showed that in a four-week span ‘solo’ movies from the three greatest action stars of the 80’s & 90’s would be released. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, and Sylvester Stallone would once more take up arms and blow shit up.
I had hoped that after the moderate success of the two Expendables films that these flicks would be an easy sell for a movie audience that had grown weary of seeing Jason Statham, Vin Diesel, and The Rock in pedestrian action vehicles that would be crushed beneath the boot heels of John Rambo, The Terminator, and John McClane in their primes. Box office receipts would seem to indicate I was wrong. Arnie & Sly’s flicks landed with a thud while Bruno’s movie was critically ravaged.
I won’t give up on The Holy Trinity though. And I hope that Hollywood, despite the lackluster response by the fickle movie going public, won’t either.
The Last Stand (C+)
The Governator returns in his first feature role since the third Terminator film in 2003. Of course, he has been busy since then while still occassionally finding time to make a few cameo or smaller appearances in a handful of films. Here he plays Ray Owens, the sherrif of a small Arizona town on the Mexican border. Retired from the LAPD, he had hoped to live out a quiet life, protecting the citizenry of his adopted home. Unfortunately, that small town lies directly in the path of a cartel kingpin who is fleeing California and the FBI at 200 MPH in a desperate but well-planned bid for freedom. Arnie, never the most gifted of actors, seems especially stiff after his hiatus and his classic one-liners feel even more forced then usual. The plot is predictable and some of the acting from the supporting players is downright bad. It’s all harmless fun but it can wait for home video and at this point you may have to.
Bullet to the Head (B-)
Journeyman director Walter Hill (The Warriors, The Long Riders, Southern Comfort) and Sylvester Stallone serve up a curious adaptation of a French graphic novel. Stallone plays Jimmy ‘Bobo’ Bonomo, a gun for hire. He partners with, Taylor Kwon, a DC cop played by Sung Kang of the Fast and the Furious franchise. The criminal and the lawman discover a common enemy in the man responsible for the deaths of their previous partners and decide to work together to take down the criminal overlord. The flick feels a lot like another Hill buddy film, 48 Hrs but is missing a strong comedic presence like Eddie Murphy. There’s plenty of casual nudity and lots of blood so if that’s your thing, you should be very pleased. Bonus points for excellent work by Jason Momoa (Conan, Game of Thrones) as a special forces mercenary. He has more personality and charm on display than either of the two leads.
NYPD Lt. John McClane returns in this fifth outing of wrong place, wrong time physics defying superhuman mayhem. The action has shifted to Mother Russia where the bald man makes haste upon discovering his estranged son, Jack (played by Jai Courtney in a nice bit of casting,) has been imprisoned and is awaiting trial for murder. Stuff goes down, McClane sticks his nose where it doesn’t belong, generic criminals conceal their true motives, people get shot and many, many things explode. The films, never firmly grounded in reality, have abandoned any illusions towards the same. In the last flick, he killed a helicopter with a car. The first major action sequence of this one features one of the most ludicrous car chases I’ve ever seen. But hey, it’s a Die Hard movie. One knows what to expect by now. It is neither the least or the greatest of the franchise which, according to Mr. Willis, will continue into a sixth and reportedly final entry in the venerable series.