Posts Tagged ‘Bruce Willis’

Once Upon a Time in Venice Movie PosterAn ex-Los Angeles detective turned PI seeks out the ruthless gang that stole his dog.

Director, writer Mark Cullen’s entertaining beach bum action caper which sees Bruce Willis as Steve Ford return to centre stage instead of small cameos. Thankfully Willis isn’t just there to just pick up a pay cheque, its very much his own film, and he’s as cheeky and charming as ever.

The on location feel captures the heat of Venice Beach and Cullen offers plenty of colourful locale visuals. The characters are all quirky and larger than life including humorous Jason Momoa as mumbling gangster Spider and Steve’s heartfelt troubled friend Dave (excellent John Goodman). Things get more and more outlandish as Steve tries to solve a number of weird cases. Sadly, Famke Janssen is wasted as Katey Ford.

With echoes of the recent The Nice Guys (2016) there’s a few shoot outs and double crosses with hints of watered down Tarantino thrown in for good measure, Cullen like the moments of comedy set these up with perfect timing thanks to some effective staging and Matt Deizel fine editing.

Overall, while not Willis’ best it’s an almost return to likes of Last Boy Scout form rather than Die Hard, still it’s good fun and worth a viewing.

The ultimate resort: VICE, where customers can play out their wildest fantasies is shaken up when artificial inhabitants becomes self- aware.What starts off as a respectable sci-fi thriller never really explorers or develops its interesting premise turning into a chase picture with guns being uninspiringly fired left right and centre poorly imitating The Matrix’s (1999) modish feel in the latter half.

It’s reminiscent in part of Michael Crichton’s West World (1973) and Future World’s (1976) concept that then delves into the realms of a staged The Purge: Anarchy (2014) mixed with a pleasure park gone wrong and carbon copied Blade Runner dialogue scattered though out. What sits uncomfortably in Andre Fabrizio and Jeremy Passmore’s dialogue and Brian A Miller’s depiction, is that the park goers fantasies are either excessively sexual or sick and awfully violent in contrast in tone to the exaggerated gun play action.

With great physique not even Ambyr Childers’ look and performance as Kelly lighting up each scene as the park’s on the run self-aware artificial robot can help the clumsily action and expository sequences. With a lack of back story Thomas Jane tries his hardest with a clunky script and given his performance in the comparable Surrogates (2009) Bruce Willis is flat and looks bored. Bryan Greenberg’s Evan and Brett Granstaff’s James feel miscast and actors Charlotte Kirk and Johnathon Schaech are sorely underused.

As well as the classics there’s The Machine (2013), Automata (2014), Impostor (2001) and other quality low-budget movies or the Almost Human TV Series to name a few which have tackled the themes in a superior fashion.

Even the sequel enticing ending feels forced. Aesthetically Vice looks great and the score is fitting to the well-lit sterile environments. If only Vice we’re half as good as the actors cast, lighting and locale it could have been an entertaining A.I film to add to the shelf.

A New York cop John Mclane and his son Jack finds themselves caught in a dangerous Russian conspiracy.

Thankfully director John Moore delivers an exceptionally fun ride, which goes from one breathtaking action set up to the next.

Although in wrong the place, at the wrong time element has been imitated countless times as one of the henchmen say, “It’s not 1986 anymore” and the franchise has had to move with the times. As a result the subtleties and focus on John’s character as in the first two Die Hards has been lost with Willis having a hand full of lines and comedy quips albeit why we fell in love with him and what brought Roderick Thorp character Joe Leland (renamed and reworked John Mclane) from novel “Nothing Lasts Forever” to life. The action packed sequels drifted away from Maclane with him prominently having Samuel Jackson and a hacker sidekick respectively arguably diluting the Die Hard ‘feel’.

 A Good Day to Die Hard writer Skip Woods doesn’t give Willis enough meaty dialogue, but its not just a case of the Hollywood star picking up his pay cheque, to Willis’ credit he gets plenty to do as he chews on a few great one liners with one or two genuine laugh out moments. Of course Woods gives the obligatory Die Hard twist but at least some effort had gone into adding another surprise.

 
Jack Reacher’s bad guy Jai Courtney is a good addition as Jack McClane and Mary Elizabeth Winstead returns in cameo as daughter Lucy. Only Holly is missing but this is about an absent father, which is only touched on but do you expect depth from a sequel to a surprise 80s action hit? Cole Hauser has a bit part and Sebastian Koch is exceptional with Yuliya Snigir making an acceptable focal character. Notable is Radivoje Bukvic as Alik who is as memorable as Alexander Godunov’s Karl in the original.

 

Marco Beltrami is on form, with a few familiar music cues and A Good Day’ has plenty of atmosphere thanks to Jonathan Sela’s cinematography of Moscow, this coupled with fantastic stunts and Moore’s slick fast paced direction it ensures a solid visual package. Notably there is an outstanding chase sequence which any action director would find hard to surpass.
 

It may not have the charm of the MTV generation original and clearly panders to high-octane, energy drink, disposable film goer – But that’s the beauty of this instalment and what the critics are overlooking A Good Day to Die hard infiltrates and becomes current, it’s probably no coincidence that old rockers Rolling Stones most recent track ‘Doom and Gloom’ closes the film showing Mclane maybe over the hill but he is just a relevant as ever. 

 
The Die Hard franchise, five action films that began with Die Hard way back in 1988. They are centered around the character of John McClane. The films have been imitated the world over, there’s also been several video games based on them as well as a comic book series.
 
Die Hard (1988)
 
Director John McTiernan’s Die hard is the archetype hostage action flick, often imitated rarely surpassed. It’s the sleeper hit that made Bruce Willis a star and remains sinisterly great fun to this day.
 
 
It captures that Christmas feeling perfectly with a distinguished score from the late Michael Kamen and some fine cinematography by the then unknown Jan de Bont (Speed Director).
 
 
The supporting cast are all first rate and include William Atherton, the late Paul Gleason, Bonnie Bedelia and the excellent Reginald VelJohnson as the typical cop Sgt. Al Powell. Alan Rickman, probably in his finest performance, is the heist leader Hans Gruber. His un-stereotype bad guy has oddly become a stereotype after being copied in countless action films.
 
 
Packed with compulsory 80’s one liners, over the top action and a well written script, Die Hard remains a great piece of entertainment.
 
 
 
 
Die Hard 2 (1990)
 
 
Bruce Willis is back as everyday man and cop John McClane in Die hard 2, Yipee-ki-yay! Renny Harlin follows John McTiernan’s original with the same action packed spirit.
 
 
Willis is again on witty top form and the story quite meaty for an action, wisely based on Walter Wager’s novel “58 Minutes” giving it a back bone. A team of terrorists is holding the entire airport hostage, as they plan to liberate a drug lord. Its an adventure with a a nice little twist. And it’s good fun watching McClane tries to outwit the terrorists.
 
 
There are some great action scenes and admittedly it has some comedy, but what makes Die hard 2 interesting is the snowy night setting, Wilis’ desperation, it’s dark, it’s edgy, there’s a lot of atmosphere, more characters and its not a rehash heist film of the first. In addition, there are some parts where the lead fails, making it a less predictable ride.
 
 
Willis is again on top form as the character that made him a film star. Both William Atherton, sleazy paparazzi and Bonnie Bedelia, as McClane’s wife return for a second stint. William Sadler who is in profound physical shape is the prefect bad guy. He really brings weight to the role. John Amos deserves a mention and the rest of the supporting cast are clearly dedicated, the acting is of a high standard. There’s also cameo from Twinkie eating Reginald VelJohnson (it’s a shame they couldn’t have fit him in the other sequels). Robert Patrick shows up very briefly prior to ‘T2’ fame.
 
 
Once again Michael Kamen provides an excellent and fitting score, Director Harlin delivers as solid well constructed squeal regardless of some dated effects and far-fetched moments.
 
 
All in all it’s a strong follow-up and has been often imitated like it’s predecessor.
 
Die Hard: With a Vengeance (1995)
 
 
I missed the Christmas feeling of the first two instalments in this summer set blockbuster and some of the characters of the first two films.However, on reviewing the first thing that hit me was the sad echoes of real life 9/11 and one wonders if the film would ever have been given the green light now.
 
That aside the film is very enjoyable as hungover John McClane and Samuel L. Jackson as Zeus, play witty duo, as they run around New York undertaking tasks set out by Simon played by heister Jeremy Irons.
 
Die hard fans will find the icing on the cake is the direct link to the first film and for everyone else there’s the banter between the leads and action scenes. The story is more complex than most action films and Irons bad guy has a little more depth than the usual villain.
 
John McTiernan proves once again he knows how to direct and pace a film while Bruce does McClane blindfolded.
 
 
Live Free or Die Hard (2007)
 
 
Underworld director Len Wiseman directs the fourth instalment of the Die Hard film series. With a story line that over focuses on today’s technology reliant world we live in, 4 is still an entertaining ride.
 
 
Almost everything is there, witty one-liners, great action scenes, however, like the third it lacks the ‘connection’ to the first two films, even though it includes a picture of Holly Gennaro.
 
 
Marco Beltrami score is fine and despite Willis getting on in years he puts plenty of life into John McClane. Cliff Curtis is excellent as FBI Deputy Director, action starlet Maggie Q is magnificent and the supporting cast include Kevin Smith and Mary Elizabeth Winstead. Justin Long however, appears out of place and possibly miscast.
 
 
Redeemably Timothy Olyphant’s bad guy Thomas Gabriel is perfect. He’s calm and less animated than some stereotypes. I feel that without Olyphant’s performance and Willis efforts the film would have been less fun. There’s some ‘free running’ action and the effects are great, but the jet scene was an unnecessary piece of superciliousness. In addition, it feels preachy, McClane’s son is nowhere to be seen and the end feels very rushed.
 
 
Yeap, it’s a mixed review, certainly watch for Olyphant’s performance, Wiseman’s slick direction and Wilis in his best role. Don’t expect too much and no doubt you’ll enjoy.
 
With my recent blog about Governor Swarzenegger I thought it would be rude not to give a little mention to Stallone.
Ah, the 80’s battle of the box office hero’s, amongst and collection of characters the kings of Hollywood actions had their defining characters, Arnold had The Terminator, Bruce Willis had John McClane (see this blog) and Stallone had John Rambo.
Over the last twenty years Stallone has suffered the same career ups and owns as his boxoffice rivals. What separates Sly from his other ex-Planet Hollywood stars is that he’s an Oscar nominated director and writer (never getting the credit he really deserves as a filmmaker). Rocky aside oddly in comparison to the other aforementioned characters John Rambo his most iconic and significant character that changed noticeably over the course of four films. To sum it up in one sentence Rambo went from a quite realistic war veteran in First Blood, to a totally over the top combat instrument in 2 and 3, coming full circle as a mixture for Rambo.
The movie was officially greenlit by Nu Image/Millenium Films and would be loosely based on a novel called Hunter (a novel to which Stallone had the rights for), it involved Rambo hunting a feral beast. In 2009 Stallone stated that the story had been changed and would feature Rambo searching for trafficked women who disappeared  over the Mexican border. However, in May 2010 he confirmed that Rambo V was cancelled and that Rambo had been “retired”.
So in the meantime sit back and relax, if you’ve never seen them or are a fan, here are my thoughts on one of Stallone’s most memorable collection of films.
First Blood (1982)

John Rambo (BAFTA winner Sylvester Stallone) is a fairly reserved and
sensitive guy, a man who has seen and lived the horrors of the Vietnam
War. He returns to the good old United States of America to find his
only friend has died. You can sympathise with him and when small- town sheriff (Brian Dennehy) takes a needless dislike to him and his heavy handed deputies mistreat Rambo you can see why Rambo is sent over the edge.
In retrospect, unfortunately the sequels turned John J Rambo into
‘Rambo’ the icon who relies more on an M-16 to get him out of trouble.
In First Blood Rambo utilises the teachings from Col. Trautman (Richard
Crenna) his war training and combat skills to stay alive and outwit his
pursuers.

With less guns and explosions director Ted Kotcheff competently builds the tension and suspense and you get the feeling Rambo may not make it till the end. The locations are wonderfully atmospheric – foggy, earthly capturing the true outdoors. Stallone, Crenna and Dennehy are on form and the movie has a strong supporting cast that includes David Caruso in an early role as Deputy Mitch. Underpinning all this is Jerry Goldsmith’s memorable score.
Rambo First Blood is a grounded drama and action must see.
Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985)
Picking up with Rambo doing hard time after the events of the first film, he is given a second chance, however, he is left for dead behind enemy lines and must escape from his Russian & Vietnamese captors and bring some Vietnam Vet’s home.
Where as the first film was credible, the late George P. Cosmatos’ far-fetched First Blood Part 2 metamorphoses Rambo into the memorable gun-touting icon. With a James Cameron and Sylvester Stallone screenplay it plays on Rambo as the loner war machine. Jack Cardiff’s cinematography is worth mentioning, especially the jungle scenes, and rice-fields where Rambo must dispose of an endless supply of solider extra’s using a machine gun and a bow. Comatos’ packs the screen with stunts and explosions and handles the subtler moments with ease. Jerry Goldsmith once again delivers a thriving memorable score, that adds atmosphere to the films proceedings.
Famous writer and actor Steven Berkoff is perfect as the Russian bad guy (although peculiarly similar to his own General Orlov from 1983’s Octopussy). With a distinguished cast including Julia Nickson as Rambo brief love interest Co Bao, Charles Napier and Martin Kove. Richard Crenna makes a welcomed return as Col. Trautman and once again is the mediator between Rambo and the ‘bureaucrats’. Again Sylvester Stallone is in fanatical preposterous physical shape and mumbles through the restrained scenes with Nickson convincingly.
All in all it’s a great 80’s action flick, delivering a larger than life sequel. However, if there were any serious war messages they’re lost in the mist of leeches, explosions and bullets.
Rambo III (1988)
Peter MacDonald’s Rambo 3 is far removed from Ted Kotcheff’s credible First Blood and follows the Rambo icon established in George P.Cosmatos’ First Blood Part II.
What’s notable from the outset is the real life political and conflict shifts since ’88, as the Americans are helping the Afghan rebels achieve freedom from the invading Russians. As the cold war ended overnight this appeared to hamper this Rambo’s already out of date story line box office success. That said, paradoxically it has made Rambo more significant and highlights how quickly an alliance can shift which may stick in some viewers throats satirically or not.
Richard Crenna once again plays Col. Trautman who is captured behind enemy lines and Rambo (Sylvester Stallone) must stage a solo ‘unofficial’ rescue mission. Again, Stallone is in obscene physical shape for this instalment, and is 100% committed to his role as Rambo. There’s a brief appearance by Kurtwood Smith who gives the usual effective performance. Sasson Gabai and Spiros Focás are part of an effective supporting cast. However, the Russians are an array of forgettable extras and Marc de Jonge Colonel Zaysen just can’t escape from the stereotype script he’s been given.
Rambo 3 is very watchable but in retrospect it’s fraught at times by diplomatic changes of the time, even more so in today’s climate and ironically this takes the fun out this instalment.
Jerry Goldsmith’s score is once again excellent and MacDonald who was handed the directing reigns last minute does his best. There are a few stand out scenes all of which display Stallones refined abilities, a stick fight and horse game. Nevertheless, Sylvester Stallone and Sheldon Lettich screenplay is all comic book dialogue. The film looses memento in the second act and by the third you don’t care who lives or dies.
There’s gun’s, helicopters, bullets, explosions, monks and glow-sticks if that’s your thing you’ll love Rambo III.
Rambo (2008)
Now living in  Thailand, Rambo joins a group of mercenaries to venture into war-torn Burma, and rescue a group of Christian missionaries.
While this is another sequel that keeps John J Rambo as ‘Rambo’ the icon who relies more on a gun to get him out of trouble, Stallone is on top form as the heavy, bulky, Rambo – out with ‘don’t push me’ and in with the new catchy saying ‘go home’.
Col. Trautman (Richard Crenna) is sorely missed but he still makes a brief (from the grave) appearance in Rambo’s dream. With this film is there’s no developed bad guy in a cinematic sense but there is however a bad army and silent leader which adds to the realistic tone of the film.
The acting is a mixed bag from the supporting cast, Brian Tyler’s music is fine, the locations and sets are fantastic but what stands out is Glen MacPhersons cinematography and Sean Albertson’ slick editing. Sly is on top directing form, giving a film that is like a war doc at times and you really see what damage bullets can do. Like is predecessors there is a message in Art Monterastelli’s and Stallone’s screenplay but it’s sometimes lost in the powerful gunfire and graphic blood. It’s not as smart as the First Blood but the ending rounds the film off well and Rambo ‘does go home’…
Yes, I’d happily pay to see another Rambo made. Well done Mr Stallone!

The Die Hard franchise, four action films that began with Die Hard way back in 1988. They are centered around the character of John McClane. The films have been imitated the world over, there’s also been several video games based on them as well as a comic book series.

In between producing and writing, I’ve put together my thoughts and comments on the Die Hard film series…

Die Hard (1988)

Director John McTiernan’s Die hard is the archetype hostage action flick, often imitated rarely surpassed. It’s the sleeper hit that made Bruce Willis a star and remains sinisterly great fun to this day.

It captures that Christmas feeling perfectly with a distinguished score from the late Michael Kamen and some fine cinematography by the then unknown Jan de Bont (Speed Director).

The supporting cast are all first rate and include William Atherton, the late Paul Gleason, Bonnie Bedelia and the excellent Reginald VelJohnson as the typical cop Sgt. Al Powell. Alan Rickman, probably in his finest performance, is the heist leader Hans Gruber. His un-stereotype bad guy has oddly become a stereotype after being copied in countless action films.

Packed with compulsory 80’s one liners, over the top action and a well written script, Die Hard remains a great piece of entertainment.

Die Hard 2 (1990)

Bruce Willis is back as everyday man and cop John McClane in Die hard 2, Yipee-ki-yay! Renny Harlin follows John McTiernan’s original with the same action packed spirit.

Willis is again on witty top form and the story quite meaty for an action, wisely based on Walter Wager’s novel “58 Minutes” giving it a back bone. A team of terrorists is holding the entire airport hostage, as they plan to liberate a drug lord. Its an adventure with a a nice little twist. And it good fun watching McClane tries to outwit the terrorists.

There are some great action scenes and admittedly it has some comedy, but what makes Die hard 2 interesting is the snowy night setting, Wilis’ desperation, it’s dark, it’s edgy, there’s a lot of atmosphere, more characters and its not a rehash heist film of the first. In addition, there are some parts where the lead fails, making it a less predictable ride.

Willis is again on top form as the character that made him a film star. Both William Atherton, sleazy paparazzi and Bonnie Bedelia, as McClane’s wife return for a second stint. William Sadler who is in profound physical shape is the prefect bad guy. He really brings weight to the role. John Amos deserves a mention and the rest of the supporting cast are clearly dedicated, the acting is of a high standard. There’s also cameo from Twinkie eater Reginald VelJohnson (it a shame they couldn’t have fit him in the other sequels). Robert Patrick shows up very briefly prior to ‘T2’ fame.

Once again Michael Kamen provides an excellent and fitting score, Director Harlin delivers as solid well constructed squeal regardless of some dated effects and far-fetched moments.

All in all it’s a strong follow-up and has been often imitated like it’s predecessor.

Die Hard: With a Vengeance (1995)

I missed the Christmas feeling of the first two instalments in this summer set blockbuster and some of the characters of the first two films.However, on reviewing the first thing that hit me was the sad echoes of real life 9/11 and one wonders if the film would ever have been given the green light now.

That aside the film is very enjoyable as hungover John McClane and Samuel L. Jackson as Zeus, play witty duo, as they run around New York undertaking tasks set out by Simon played by heister Jeremy Irons.

Die hard fans will find the icing on the cake is the direct link to the first film and for everyone else there’s the banter between the leads and action scenes. The story is more complex than most action films and Irons bad guy has a little more depth than the usual villain.

John McTiernan proves once again he knows how to direct and pace a film while Bruce does McClane blindfolded.

Live Free or Die Hard (2007)

Underworld director Len Wiseman directs the fourth instalment of the Die Hard film series. With a story line that over focuses on today’s technology reliant world we live in, 4 is still an entertaining ride.

Almost everything is there, witty one-liners, great action scenes, however, like the third it lacks the connection to the first two films, even though it includes a picture of Holly Gennaro.

Marco Beltrami score is fine and despite Willis getting on in years he puts plenty of life into John McClane. Cliff Curtis is excellent as FBI Deputy Director, action starlet Maggie Q is magnificent and the supporting cast include Kevin Smith and Mary Elizabeth Winstead. Justin Long however, appears out of place and possibly miscast.

Redeemably Timothy Olyphant’s bad guy Thomas Gabriel is perfect. He’s calm and less animated than some stereotypes. I feel that without Olyphant’s performance and Willis efforts the film would have been less fun. There’s some ‘free running’ action and the effects are great, but the jet scene was an unnecessary piece of superciliousness. In addition, it feels preachy, McClane’s son is nowhere to be seen and the end feels very rushed.

Yeap, it’s a mixed review, certainly watch for Olyphant’s performance, Wiseman’s slick direction and Wilis in his best role. Don’t expect too much and no doubt you’ll enjoy.

A New York cop John Mclane and his son Jack finds themselves caught in a dangerous Russian conspiracy.
 
Thankfully director John Moore delivers A Good Day to Die hard as an exceptionally fun ride, which goes from one breathtaking action set up to the next.
 
Although in wrong the place, at the wrong time element has been imitated countless times as one of the henchmen say, “It’s not 1986 anymore” and the franchise has had to move with the times. As a result the subtleties and focus on John’s character as in the first two Die Hards has been lost with Willis having a hand full of lines and comedy quips albeit why we fell in love with him and what brought Roderick Thorp character Joe Leland (renamed and reworked John Mclane) from novel “Nothing Lasts Forever” to life. The action packed sequels drifted away from Maclane with him prominently having Samuel Jackson and a hacker sidekick respectively arguably diluting the Die Hard ‘feel’.
 
Here writer Skip Woods doesn’t give Willis enough meaty dialogue, but its not just a case of the Hollywood star picking up his pay cheque, to Willis’ credit he gets plenty to do as he chews on a few great one liners with one or two genuine laugh out moments. Of course Woods gives the obligatory Die Hard twist but at least some effort had gone into adding another surprise.
 
Jack Reacher’s bad guy Jai Courtney is a good addition as Jack McClane and Mary Elizabeth Winstead returns in cameo as daughter Lucy. Only Holly is missing but this is about an absent father, which is only touched on but do you expect depth from a sequel to a surprise 80s action hit? Cole Hauser has a bit part and Sebastian Koch is exceptional with Yuliya Snigir making acceptable focal character. Notable is Radivoje Bukvic as Alik who is as memorable as Alexander Godunov’s Karl in the original.
 
Marco Beltrami is on form, with a few familiar music cues and A Good Day’ has plenty of atmosphere thanks to Jonathan Sela’s cinematography of Moscow, this coupled with fantastic stunts and Moore’s slick fast paced direction ensures a solid visual package.
 
It may not have the charm of the MTV generation original and clearly panders to high-octane, energy drink, disposable film goer – But that’s the beauty of this instalment and what the critics are overlooking A Good Day to Die hard infiltrates and becomes current, it’s probably no coincidence that old rockers Rolling Stones most recent track ‘Doom and Gloom’ closes the film showing Mclane maybe over the hill but he is just a relevant as ever.