THERE WAS AN EERIE GLOW throughout most of the apartment. It was not caused by sunlight or incandescent lightbulbs; the only way I could describe the color, was to say it was a cross between bright fluorescent with bright neon greenish white. We were picking up a friend’s friend at their house which none of us had seen and our friend never warned us. As all of us entered the apartment I noticed an aquarium in one corner with the source of the erie glow perched above it. As it turned out almost every room had 1 to 3 aquariums set up with the same type of light. I did not recall fish tanks having a light above them, but I never had fish for pets. However these fish tanks had no water in them and the top parts were covered with a heavy metal mesh. One of my friends asked about the aquariums. It turned out they were not empty but each of them held a snake. I am not talking worm size or small garden variety; they were jungle sized snakes. I have only seen these type of snakes in a zoo or adventure/horror film. THE OWNER OF THESE SNAKES had them as pets. Pets, I wondered; did he actually take them out and pet them? I was never a fan of snakes and I got creeped out when the owner took one of his snakes out and draped it around his shoulders. A couple of my friends petted the reptile when offered, but I declined. I had to admit I had a bad attitude about all of it, but as the owner explained his reasons and fascination with snakes I realized I had no right to judge him on his choice of pets. When I thought about it more, I came to the conclusion what really is the difference between having fish or snakes as pets? They are not for me but if they provide comfort to someone else, so be it. For many people pets are part of their family. Animals provide unconditional love, affection and even emotional attachments. Some pets are more like family to us than our own relatives. It certainly was obvious in this action, adventure science fiction film. AS THE GORILLA HE RAISED from infancy was growing in unheard of speed and massive height Dave Okoye, played by Dwayne Johnson (Baywatch, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle), would not give up on his friend; even as everyone around was becoming frightened. With Naomie Harris (Moonlight, Skyfall) as Dr. Kate Caldwell, Malin Ackerman (Watchmen, 27 Dresses) as Claire Wyden, Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Red Dawn, The Losers) as Harvey Russell and Jake Lacy (Miss Sloane, Obvious Child) as Brett Wyden; the first thing I have to say is this: there is no way one cannot like Dwayne Johnson. In this role he fits right into his comfort zone of acting. I have seen this exact style in his recent films and I hope he starts mixing it up a bit. Granted I believe he knows his capabilities and limitations, so picks projects that suits his acting abilities. In this big production of special effects set in Chicago, the story had some holes in it as well as the script. I thought the dialog was childish at times and felt the movie was cartoonish. However I was not put off by it because I liked the special effects. This is the type of picture I call a “popcorn film;” one where you do not have to think much, just sit back and watch it. If one can watch “stupid pet tricks” then they will have no problem with this movie.
2 1/2 stars
THE MAJORITY OF US AGREED that in principle social media sites offer people a positive benefit. All around the world individuals have the opportunity to experience and learn about pretty much anything. We were sitting around at dinnertime talking about the recent controversy with a particular social media site; it involved people’s personal information being mined by a consulting firm. It may say in the terms and conditions when one signs up online that our information can be shared, but how many of us actually read all the terms: I know I do not. If I understand correctly the depth of information that was shared by the internet site was startling. Someone at the table was saying the company can keep track of our mobile phone numbers being used since most people are posting comments and photos via their phones. When you think about it, it really does sound invasive. I still cannot get over how I can look at an item at a retail store’s website and the next time I go on my social media account there is an advertisement for the same item. Talk about living in an Orwellian time of Big Brother. AS WE CONTINUED OUR CONVERSATION someone brought up how every good thing that gets created always has a downside due to dishonest people. I had to think about this for only a short time before I agreed. A lot of these internet sites were set up with good intentions but they all are being based on people being honest. I remember receiving a message from a stranger that wanted to connect; everything looked legitimate so I responded back to them. As soon as I did they sent a stream of shocking photos that I had to quickly delete then block the person. On the other hand I am sure there are a multitude of individuals online who believe they are alone, different or feel there is something better for them; who discover like minded individuals. This can have a powerful affect on a person. The reason I say this is because I believe that discovery is the catalyst for one’s imagination to open up and flourish. It all starts with a dream that can lead one to their new reality; just see how this works in this action adventure, science fiction film. IN THE FUTURE EVERYONE TAPS into a virtual world where they can be whatever they want to be. However there were some individuals who saw an opportunity where they could take control of it all for their own gain. Directed by Steven Spielberg (The Color Purple, Catch Me if You Can) this movie starred Tye Sheridan (Mud, X-Men: Apocalypse) as Parzival/Wade Watts, Olivia Cooke (Thoroughbreds, The Quiet Ones) as Art3mis/Samantha, Ben Mendelsohn (Darkest Hour, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) as Sorrento and Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies, Dunkirk) as Anorak/James Halliday. Right at the start this film grabbed me on its visuals. Both its real and virtual world had an assortment of treats; I especially enjoyed the way Spielberg inserted throwback references. The other thing that excited me was the action scenes; they were all well orchestrated with excellent special effects. Now for the bad news; I was somewhat underwhelmed with the story. I found the real world scenes more interesting. The virtual world after awhile seemed like I was watching a video game that I could not participate in it. There was an obvious message that the writers and director wanted to get across to the viewers; it seemed a bit preachy to me. By the end of the film I was not sure if I had just seen what our future could be and if it was going to be a good or bad thing.
2 ¾ stars
I MIGHT BE THE ONLY one who thinks this way, but I would never name a child after their parent. There are some people who will say it is a blessing to name the baby with the same name as the parent; but I feel it is a crapshoot, especially when the males are given the same name with the addition of Jr. If I focus let us say on political figures in history, you could make the argument the same name worked for President John Adams and his son President John Quincy Adams; you would be correct in this case. But let me ask you, how do you think having the last name as their father affected the children of Joseph Stalin and Benito Mussolini? Maybe when their fathers were in power things were good, but I am guessing it did not last long. Now for Margaret Truman she led a successful life as a singer and author, where her last name did not hinder her career; if nothing else it probably helped since she wrote a number of works on United States’ First Ladies and Families. THIS IS WHY I AM not a fan of naming children after their parents because they usually are never judged on their own merits. The same could be said for siblings who attend the same school. If the older of the 2 siblings was the perfect student, the younger one will have a lot to live up to if they wind up having the same teacher. I remember two brothers in school who suffered from that very thing; one was considered the sweet, kind one and the other was thought of as a troublemaker. Each of us is always getting judged one way or another; I do not think having the same name helps a person reach their true potential. Sure it can open some doors for the individual but it can also slam the door in their face. When I find out a successful person I admire is related to a famous person I have to give them credit for striking out on their own. Look at the actress Mariska Hargitay; how many of you know her mother was Jayne Mansfield? Mariska wanted to make it on her own; kudos to her. One of the main characters did not want to be compared to his father; you should see what he did instead in this action, adventure science fiction film. JAKE PENTECOST, PLAYED BY JOHN Boyega (Star Wars franchise, Detroit), could never live up to his father’s achievement in helping to save Earth. So Jake chose a completely different life; however, his life took a turn when he met the homeless girl Namani, played by relative newcomer Cailee Spaeny. With Scott Eastwood (Suicide Squad, The Longest Ride) as Nate Lambert, Burn Gorman (Crimson Peak, The Dark Knight Rises) as Dr. Hermann Gottlieb and Charlie Day (Fist Fight, Horrible Bosses franchise) as Dr. Newton Geiszler; I suppose if you have not seen the 1st movie you may get something out of this one. However I have to tell you I enjoyed the first film and I did not find this current one entertaining. The script was basic with cheap lines of dialog. There was nothing exciting or tense in the story; by the end of the movie I almost wished things would have ended differently to put a stop to this film spawning a sequel. If pressed I guess I could say the special effects were decent in a Transformers type of way. One could say I am judging this picture to the 1st one but that is not the case. Standing on its own 2 feet this film did not capture my interest; in fact, it only stole some time away from me.
1 ¾ stars
ONE OF THE BIGGEST COMPLAINTS I have heard about treadmills is that they are boring. They don’t take the person anywhere is a frequent excuse why a person will not use one. I used to jog outside on the streets until I was almost hit by a car that was making a fast turn. That event was the last time I jogged on the streets. I tried running on sidewalks but I could not handle all the cracks and debris I found. To avoid them I switched to jogging on a treadmill. When this transition took place treadmills did not have video screens attached to them. I would turn on loud music as motivation and off I went on my run. Currently I have seen treadmills with video screens attached for the runner to either follow a programmed scenic trail or television shows. At the clubs I work at there are large monitors suspended in a long row from the ceiling facing the treadmills, so members have further options of what they want to look at while jogging. I can see where this could help or motivate a person to exercise. THERE IS ANOTHER COMMENT I have heard regarding people who jog. Some say the person is running away or to something they have on their mind. I do not know if I would make a blanket statement like that, but speaking for myself I do get lost in my thoughts while jogging. If there is something bothering me I usually focus on it and before I know it 30-60 minutes have passed by. But when you think about it isn’t any leisure activity prone to letting one experience a time of reflection? There are some members at the fitness center I am sure are working on some issue in their head as they go through their paces on the exercise equipment. Jogging, along with any aerobic activity, can produce endorphins which are hormones that get released in the brain to reduce pain and make one feel relaxed or full of energy, according to the dictionary. Knowing this as I do, I had to wonder what the main character in this action adventure film was going towards because she was doing an awful lot of running. FINALLY COMING TO TERMS WITH her father’s death Lara Croft, played by Alicia Vikander (Tulip Fever, The Danish Girl), was about to sign on as heir to the Croft fortune and take over the company’s businesses until she was handed a puzzle by the executor. The puzzle was only the first piece into solving the mysterious disappearance of her father Lord Richard Croft, played by Dominic West (Chicago, The Forgotten). With Kristin Scott Thomas (Darkest Hour, The Party) as Ana Miller, Walter Goggins (The Hateful Eight, Diablo) as Mathias Vogel and Daniel Wu (The Man with the Iron Fists, One Nite in Mongkok) as Lu Ren; this reboot was centered on Alicia’s character and she did not disappoint. She was more than capable to helm this story and in fact she would be the only reason to watch this picture. Some of her action scenes were crazy to watch; but overall they were not enough to support the weak script. There was little development of the characters and to tell you the truth I thought the special effects were nothing special. If I did not know better I could have sworn the writers took their inspiration from the Raiders of the Lost Ark story. The story here did not appear to be well thought out in my opinion; Lara was too busy running all the time to allow the viewers to fully connect with her and her plight.
THOUGH I WOULD LIKE EVERYONE to act in an honest and ethical way, I am sure there is a lot that goes on in the business world that would shock me. Not just big corporations, I am sure it trickles down to small shop owners. I have a couple of friends who ran a medical practice and I used to get surprised by the things they told me they encountered during the average work day. Drug salespeople were constantly dropping in hoping to catch a quick meeting with the doctor. If they could not meet on their first attempt, some would try to bring in lunch for the staff. I assume they were hoping they could entice the doctor to meet them over a meal. There was one salesperson who would stock their cabinet with trial size packages of the drug they were representing; however, they always either pushed back their competitor’s product to the back of the shelf or even took some of it away. Through my friends’ years at the medical practice I was astounded by the amount of free products the drug reps would try to leave at the office. I had to wonder if the drug company eliminated the free trial size portions would they lower the prices of their drugs. THE PAST WEEK A FORMER pharmaceutical executive was sentenced to prison for fraud. I think the verdict is just since he broke the law; but this is the same person who raised the price of a life-saving drug from $13.50 a pill to $750.00. Now I am all for everyone making a profit but gouging the public is simply wrong. The percentage of that price increase covers the price of inflation for centuries. Granted having the product billed as a lifesaver makes it worse, but I would feel the same way if a company increased the price of their bread by some exorbitant price. The difference is they would never do it because one can always buy a loaf of bread from a different company. People in business who only think of themselves and are willing to sacrifice the consumer to get ahead are no different in my opinion to those malicious email attachments seeking your bank information. And as a side note the latest statistics show those emails increased by 300% in the last quarter of 2017. Despite the crooked and unethical things I have mentioned, I was shocked by what I saw in this action crime comedy. WANTING TO BE THE FIRST to come to market with a brand new drug medical executive Richard Rusk, played by Joel Edgerton (Red Sparrow, The Great Gatsby), was willing to do anything to succeed. This would put his employees in a precarious predicament. With Charlize Theron (Atomic Blonde, Mad Max: Fury Road) as Elaine Markinson, David Oyelowo (A United Kingdom, Queen of Katwe) as Harold Soyinka, Thandie Newton (Crash, 2012) as Bonnie Soyinka and Amanda Seyfried (Dear John, Mamma Mia!) as Sunny; I felt the cast choices were way better than the roles they were given to play. The script started out promising to me but as time went on I thought the addition of multiple story lines and the under developed characters bogged it down. I actually do not recall anything funny in this film. Instead I thought the story was a generic version of several “chase” films I have seen before. Even with the acting I felt Charlize was the most authentic; I can only assume David wanted to do something totally different, but it did not work for me. This movie has to make one wonder if all involved producing it were sampling the drug that was coming to market in this story.
1 ¾ stars
IT WAS ONE OF THE HOTTEST Broadway shows touring the country and I had tickets for it. Because it was so popular a friend of mine wanted to scalp his ticket. Just my opinion, I thought it was rude of him to even suggest it since the group of us had planned to go out to dinner after the show. On the day of the performance we all met up at the restaurant and got seated quickly, so we would not have to rush to get to the theater. After dinner we walked over to the theater which when built was one of those old movie palaces with ornate terra cotta reliefs and large chandeliers. As I entered into the lobby there was a large board set on an easel that listed the actors that were cast for that day’s performance. Right at the top of the cast list on the first line it showed the understudy would be playing the star attraction’s character. I was devastated; the famous actor was one of the reasons I wanted to see this show and now I was stuck with the understudy. Not that he did a poor performance, in fact he was excellent; but I really wanted to see that famous actor perform in this production. IF THERE IS SOME WAY TO avoid feeling disappointed when you are expecting to get what you paid for, I am not familiar with it. Now granted in regards to that Broadway production, all of us enjoyed the show with its excellent cast and incredible staging of the sets. However I could not help feeling letdown because I did not see the main actor that everyone had been talking about being the perfect actor for the role. I guess the feeling is similar to going to your favorite restaurant for your favorite dish and discovering they ran out of it. At that point it is unlikely you would leave; instead you would find something else to eat, just not as satisfying. Now I do not want this to sound like I am a snob, but there have been times where I have tried the generic version of a product and disliked it. There was a dessert I was preparing for a party where I used raisins that were the grocery store’s brand. They turned out to be these tiny, shriveled raisins that still had some stems attached; I never bought them again, wondering why I did in the first place. I asked myself the same question after I saw this action, crime drama remake; why see this when I could rent the original? AFTER HIS FAMILY WAS BRUTALLY attacked in a home invasion Paul Kersey, played by Bruce Willis (First Kill, Die Hard franchise), got tired waiting for the police to solve the crime. He took things into his own hands. With Vincent D’Onofrio (The Magnificent Seven, Ed Wood) as Frank Kersey, Elizabeth Shue (Leaving Las Vegas, Adventures in Babysitting) as Lucy Kersey and Dean Norris (Total Recall, Breaking Bad-TV) as Detective Kevin Raines; there was absolutely nothing new in this film compared to the original. The only difference was there were less thrills, tension and good acting. I found the script odd and not quite believable. If you did not see the original movie then you might enjoy this picture more than I did. The strange thing for me was the audience around me during the film’s showing. I had to wonder if some of the people who were watching this movie were thinking they wanted to do the same thing as Paul; it was creepy. As I mentioned earlier if you never saw the original this may interest you, but not something that one needs to rush out and go see.
1 ½ stars
IT IS A RITE OF PASSAGE FOR MANY, whether they want to go or not. One goes because it is their son or daughter, niece or nephew, cousin or a friend’s child; there is no getting around it. I do not want to make this sound torturous even though there have been times where it has been painful. The school recital or production is hard to refuse when you are connected to someone who is a participant. It is one of those things you do to support the child; one is not going to see or hear a top notch performance necessarily. I have sat through band recitals where if the program did not list the names of the songs I would have had no idea what the kids were playing. It is just the way the dice fall I guess because I was at a high school talent show that had some wonderful performances. Let me admit however the toughest times for me are when the school is putting on a musical production. I sit in those uncomfortable assembly hall seats at the school, watching the miscues and the forgotten lines, waiting for the one line my relative gets to say in the 2nd half of the play. It is a challenge for me. WATCHING STUDENTS PUT ON A play that I have seen before is harder for me to watch than when they do something I have never seen before. Not knowing what to expect makes the evening at the school performance easier because I am curious about the story. For the productions I have seen more than likely I have seen a professional theater production straight from Broadway. Now granted I will still enjoy the music, even if the school orchestra is not as polished as hired musicians; but that only goes so far before I get antsy in my seat. Not that I would ever make a negative comment to family or friends about the school performance. This is why I refer to it as a rite of passage; it is just one of those things you do because it is polite, supportive and the right thing to do. And it is important to be there for the child to commend and praise them. Regarding everything I just said please disregard it when it comes to the retelling of the biblical story in this action drama. HAVING BEEN TOLD HIS WHOLE life that he was a savior for the Hebrews; Samson, played by Taylor James (Christmas Eve, Justice League), did not want any part of it. All he was interested in was to antagonize the Philistines and be with women. This movie’s cast had Jackson Rathbone (Twilight franchise, The Last Airbender) as Rallah, Billy Zane (Titanic, The Phantom) as King Balek, Caitlin Leahy (Queen of the South-TV, Black-ish-TV) as Delilah and Rutger Hauer (Blade Runner, The Hitcher) as Manoah. Being familiar with the story of Samson and Delilah I have to tell you I was not looking forward to this film. I am aware of this movie studio and they did exactly what I expected them to do. They put no thought into the script, the production values or the cast. This picture was so poorly done that I would have preferred sitting through an elementary school production of the story. The acting was atrocious; granted the script was part of the cause. I sat in my seat and as I watched these actors I had to wonder if each one of them was carrying a heavy debt load, causing them to accept their role in this poorly made production. All I can say is I would rather have watched a friend’s daughter cry on stage during their ballet recital than sit through this picture.
1 ½ stars
SHE DID NOT LOOK LIKE an average woman, whatever average was supposed to look like. I only say that because I remember hearing the comments made about her appearance. We worked together years ago when aerobic meant doing hard impact body movements. The best way to describe her would be to say she was thick because she was not overweight per se. Her arms and legs were large for her body due to her intense weight training regimen. I would see her on the fitness floor from time to time and was always amazed with the amount of weight she used in her exercises. She was usually the only female among the male weightlifters and it amused me when I could tell some of the men were intimidated by her strength. In the locker room I would hear guys talk about her. They always had something negative to say about her appearance, never about her achievements. I am not going to repeat them here since they were rude and ignorant; let me just say I felt the men had to tear her down to make themselves feel better. They could not lift the same amount of weight as she so of course they had to say something to save face, the cowards. MY HOPE FOR THE CURRENT times we live in is that men and women will get closer to be thought of as equals. Not to be crude or rude, but except for the different plumbing women and men can do similar skills and work; maybe with only some slight adjustments. The notion that one gender is weaker than the other is a dated falsehood that needs to be buried once and for all. I remember the teasing I took for having a female internist and the rude comments that were made about what must have taken place during my physical exams. Can you believe it? I did not care if the doctor was a man or women; I was more concerned if they graduated at the top or bottom of their class. No matter what doctor I go to, I always try to look for a copy of their diploma hanging somewhere up on a wall. This divide that has been around for centuries between the sexes is more about power than gender. Well I am here to tell you it was impressive to see the achievements women made in the African country in this action, adventure film. UPON HIS FATHER’S DEATH T’CHALLA, played by Chadwick Boseman (Get on Up, 42), would have to participate in an ancient ritual to determine who would become the Black Panther and lead the nation. Someone else had already had been working for years on how to seize the throne. This science fiction movie also starred Michael B. Jordan (Creed, Fantastic Four) as Erik Killmonger, Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave, Star Wars franchise) as Nakia, Danai Gurira (The Visitor, All Eyez on Me) as Okoye and Letitia Wright (The Commuter, Top Boy-TV) as Shuri. First off I have to tell you this was not your typical superhero movie. There were no aliens or monsters hell bent on destroying Earth. I was fascinated by the story line and especially the use of women in the script. Black Panther was almost secondary for me compared to the scenes involving women. Michael B. Jordan and Danai commanded the screen with their roles. A majority of the fight scenes were filmed in an odd way; sort of a jerky slow/fast motion type of way. It was not a major distraction since these scenes were not all focal points in the story. The character development along with the juxtaposition of ancient rituals with modern technology kept me fully interested in this picture. Oh and also the great visuals and musical choices for the soundtrack. For those not into superhero movies this one may be worth your time. I enjoyed the different way it told a story and hope going forward that the novelty will wear off in having strong female characters participate in leading a story. There were 2 extra scenes in the middle and end of the credits.
3 ½ stars
PEOPLE REFER TO THEM AS their posse, entourage, gal pals, buddies or a variety of other descriptions. I describe them as my circle of friends or inner circle. These are your group of friends you are close with, who you hang out with the most. There is a small group of friends I have a standing date with where we all get together once every three months. We might get together individually or for some special event between the dates, but we at least know we are guaranteed of seeing each other at a set point in time. However you refer to your friends we all experience something in common and that is what I refer to as an easy comfort. When I am with my group of friends we rarely have to explain our actions or feelings about something because all of us know immediately how each one of us would react in a situation. I find this communication shorthand, if you will, keeps the special bond we feel between us on even keel. THE SAME CAN BE SAID about your coworkers who share that same connection you do with them. In fact I recently read a statistic that was surprising for me: 56% of employees say they would turn down a better job offer because they did not want to leave their “work family.” Don’t you find that statistic interesting? I know for some of us we spend more time with our “work family” than our actual one. Now one thing I have noticed in common between the “work family” and your group of friends is how it doesn’t work the same when someone is not there. The analogy I use is that it feels like a three legged stool with a leg missing. There is a certain type of energy a close group of friends or coworkers feel among themselves that assists in keeping the bonds between everyone strong. When one person is missing it can throw the rest of the group off. If you need to see proof, feel free to see the last of this film’s franchise. IF THOMAS, PLAYED BY Dylan O’Brien (Deepwater Horizon, Teen Wolf), and his friends wanted to get back their friend Minho, played by Ki Hong Lee (Wish Upon, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt-TV), they would have to enter into one of the most dangerous mazes they have ever encountered. Chances were they still might not all get back together. This action, science fiction thriller also starred Kaya Scodelario (Now is Good, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales) as Teresa, Thomas Brodie Sangster (Love Actually, Nanny McPhee) as Newt and Aidan Gillen (The Lovers, Game of Thrones-TV) as Janson. Having seen the 2 previous installments I found this one was packed with a lot of action scenes. On the one hand I appreciated the fact the movie studio did not decide to split this story into 2 separate films, but this movie still was overstuffed in my opinion. It needed some editing to reduce the 2 hour and 20 minute running time. Another issue I had was the action scenes; after the intense first one, the others did not quite match in intensity. However the story did its part to keep me interested for the most part, though when there were “gun battles” I was amazed how the “bad” guys were incredibly bad shots. After watching this picture it occurred to me I did not feel I was part of the characters’ inner circle; I was more of an acquaintance.
2 ½ stars
IT IS BEST TO TREAD carefully when you have interactions with a person who has a blurred line between their personal and business life. I am not saying such an individual is a “bad” person; but I have found they tend to react and think differently in social settings and relationships. There are some people whose job becomes their life; the role they play at work continues after hours. At a party I attended there was an individual who was employed in a managerial position. This person was used to having the final say; in other words, they always got their way. If you tried to have a discussion with them they pretended to listen to you, nodding their head up and down at certain points while you talked, but they would quickly make up their mind before you even finished stating your point. Granted this was only one example but I have been a witness to many other similar situations and yet I do not think all managers act this way. It is a particular behavior that I have noticed more than once. DO YOU THINK IT IS safe to say a person who is a control freak or hungry for power would easily change by deferring to another individual? I do not see it happening or at least not easily. Even in a love relationship relinquishing control takes a lot of effort for some people. I admit I am a person who likes to be in control; if for no other reason I have no one to blame for anything that may go wrong. I kid my friends that I wish everyone would follow my rules because it would make life so much easier to navigate. Realistically I know this cannot happen; however, I have been around some individuals who almost desperately try to exert their will on other people. It makes for an uncomfortable situation. These individuals I have noticed tend to compartmentalize all aspects of their daily life, more so at their place of employment. This only feeds into their control issues. And if you want to see an example of this, feel free to view this action crime drama. ONE OF THE MOST SUCCESSFUL group of bank robbers has set their sights on something bigger. Their actions are really getting to Officer Nick Flanagan, played by Gerard Butler (Geostorm, Olympus Has Fallen franchise) and his special unit within the Los Angeles Sheriff’s department. With Jordan Bridges (Mona Lisa Smile, Frequency) as “Lobbin Bob” Golightly, Pablo Schreiber (13 Hours, Vicky Cristina Barcelona) as Merrimen, Evan Jones (The Book of Eli, 8 Mile) as Bosco and O’Shea Jackson Jr (Straight Outta Compton, Ingrid Goes West) as Donnie; this movie had some intense moments throughout the story. The director kept the script going with a decent amount of tension throughout. Gerard was good with his character though it did appear to be similar to some of his other roles. I was trying to figure out why I enjoyed this film more than I expected since the story appeared to be your typical bank heist, good guys vs. bad guys type of story and what dawned on me was the audacity of the crimes. With the steady tension and intense characters this picture kept my interest, though the 2 hour and 20 minute running time was not necessary. There will be a chance some viewers will have a problem with the story’s ending. In a test for control I would lose to either group in this movie.
2 ½ stars