REVIEW: John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum [2019]

Rules and consequences. Like the Purge series before it, John Wick is proving to be a money-making franchise that loves to let its mythology gradually unfold in a way that familiarizes via a personal experience prior to zooming out so the systemic issues beyond one man’s home can be revealed. While we still stay with the titular character as played by Keanu Reeves (an assassin that assassins simultaneously fear and revere who did the impossible to get out of the life only to see tragedy—his wife’s untimely death—start a chain…

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REVIEW: Little Woods [2019]

Your choices are only as good as your options. There’s a great documentary about what life is like in the fracking boomtowns of North Dakota entitled The Overnighters. In it we witness an example of humanity at its simultaneous best and worst. Desperate men seeking an escape from troubles back home arrive to find a different sort of struggle that they may never overcome despite promises sold. Angels prove themselves to be demons and vice versa as director Jesse Moss collects candid interviews that reveal just how bad things are…

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REVIEW: Monster Party [2018]

Simple as a pimple. I have to think writer/director Chris von Hoffmann saw The Purge and wondered what could be born from reversing the good guy and bad guy roles. Those are generic terms of course since both movies ultimately contain bad guys and worse guys, but for the sake of argument we’ll say that the characters we’re supposed to hope survive are “good.” Rather than fear an impending invasion, however, the “good” guys in Monster Party are the infiltrators. A trio of two-bit thieves, Casper (Sam Strike) talks accomplices…

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REVIEW: John Wick: Chapter 2 [2017]

“Are you here for the Pope?” The team behind John Wick achieved success with a formula that distilled the prototypical action film down to its main points of entertainment while leaving the fat on the cutting room floor. This is why we moved back and forth through time for some scenes (the result playing out while the road there is experienced in montage) and why the economy of script successfully conveyed a hyper-real state of danger and malice from all involved. We don’t need elaboration on what we just saw…

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REVIEW: Faults [2015]

“What did you lose?” There’s an inherent paradox to the universally held idea of cults being destructive. So quick to deem what occurs within them unnatural—namely a leader using his charisma to indoctrinate the weak into a “family” that understands them—we forget to acknowledge how much of our own lives follow the same pattern. As children we look up to our parents, grandparents, role models, etc. As adults we seek validation from bosses, peers, and spouses, measuring our success on a scale built upon what a public we hold as…

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REVIEW: The Guest [2014]

“Don’t feel bad” With my enjoyment of You’re Next and resounding positivity on the internet concerning its follow-up, I was excited to finally sit down and watch director Adam Wingard and writer Simon Barrett‘s latest genre hybrid The Guest. Whether this fact tainted my overall enjoyment is a toss up, but it’s not like I can’t wait to watch it again. A bona fide midnight screening cult classic in the making, this thing looks great despite oozing 80s action horror flair. Rather than be poorly made and acted as most…

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REVIEW: John Wick [2014]

“I’d like a dinner reservation for twelve” If ever there was a film you truly cannot judge by its cover, John Wick is it. We’re talking an action flick about a retired assassin played with stoic Zen by Keanu Reeves (the titular Wick) going on a killing spree against Viggo Tarasov’s (Michael Nyqvist) Russian mob syndicate because the crime boss’ son Iosef (Alfie Allen) stole his car and killed his dog. Sure there’s more emotional heft to this catalyzing event to not think Wick is entirely off his rocker with…

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REVIEW: White House Down [2013]

“My father is a very special man!” It’s a shame Hollywood blockbuster fare has a contractual obligation for contrived happy endings with unnecessary and unsurprising “twists” because Roland Emmerich‘s newest disaster porn entry White House Down is a legitimate winner until its cheesy finale. There’s actual suspense, authentic humor, and charismatic leads to hook us into its plausible terrorist attack scenario with plenty of action to sustain our interest over its two-hour plus runtime. But just as James Vanderbilt’s script inches towards the finish—and our government protocols are severely tested—cliché…

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