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Flash Movie Review: Red 2

There is an easy camaraderie created when a group of people have a singular purpose. Whether one is an employee, volunteer or teammate; when personalities blend together a relationship is formed of shared experiences. When I have done volunteer work I notice there tends to be a quick connection made between all the volunteers. The same happens when new fitness instructors come on board at the health clubs, where I teach. An added benefit to these types of connections is the ability to have fun. Yes, even at one’s place of employment there can be times of fun when everyone is supportive of their fellow employees. Well okay, let us say at least bearable. This sense of fun is what I appreciated most about this action comedy. It was obvious the actors were enjoying both their roles and each other in this sequel. Joining Bruce Willis (Looper, Moonrise Kingdom) as Frank, John Malkovich (Burn After Reading, Dangerous Liaisons) as Marvin, Helen Mirren (The Debt, Hitchcock) as Victoria and Mary-Louise Parker (R.I.P.D., Weeds-TV) as Sarah were Catherine Zeta-Jones (Chicago, The Terminal) as Russian agent Katja and Anthony Hopkins (Thor, Hitchcock) as mad scientist Bailey. The story was far-fetched about Frank and the team trying to retrieve a megaton explosive device that was smuggled into Moscow during the cold war. Being a fan of Helen, I got a kick out of her role being more physical this time. The script was uneven where some lines were humorous while others fell flat. Bruce has been doing the same type of character for so long, he tended to be a bit cartoonish for me. In the case of John; since I have seen him perform live on stage and know what he is capable of doing, I thought he was excellent in his role. Anthony was exceptionally good with his character. This was not the type of movie where one needed to think much; there was nothing deep about it. Honestly, I think the success of the first movie gave these actors the opportunity to hang out again and share some good times, while filming took place all over the world.

 

2 1/4 stars

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Flash Movie Review: Side Effects

This past summer I was prescribed an anti-inflammatory drug due to an injury I had on an amusement park roller coaster. That turned out to be my last roller coaster ride. The drug wreaked havoc with my digestive system to the point I never finished the prescription. I decided to take matters into my own hands. Just as I tell my fitness classes, when it comes to our bodies, I believe in the use it or lose it philosophy. I see the body as a medicine cabinet stored with antidotes to a a variety of ailments. When I sense something is different, such as a stuffy nose or scratchy throat; I begin a battle plan of tried natural remedies to combat the invading bugs. I prefer taking the least amount of drugs as possible; but that is just me. After seeing this movie, you better believe I will stay with my methods. In this psychological thriller Emily Taylor, played ┬áby Rooney Mara (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Social Network), was prescribed a new antidepressant with side effects that drastically altered her life and the lives of the people around her. Channing Tatum (Magic Mike, 21 Jump Street) was Emily’s supportive husband Martin Taylor. Jude Law (Sherlock Holmes franchise, Cold Mountain) played Dr. Jonathan Banks, whose methods came into question for prescribing the antidepressant. Catherine Zeta-Jones (Chicago, Broken City) was Emily’s former doctor, Victoria Siebert. It has been reported that director Steven Soderbergh (Ocean’s Eleven franchise, Traffic) has said this would be his last movie to direct. Based on this film, it would be a shame if audiences were to be deprived of his keen sense of pacing and layering of a story. This movie had a few twists along the way that swelled into a a dramatic turn of events. I thought the cast did an excellent job, especially Rooney and Jude. If anything, I wished Soderbergh had pushed even more intensity out of his actors. This film may not be the ultimate pinnacle of Steven’s career; but he certainly can leave with his head held high for this spiraling mystery of a thriller. Brief scene with blood.

 

3 1/4 stars

Flash Movie Review: Broken City

Greed is that insidious demon that once fed will forever more be hungry. Through the years it seems as if there has been an increase in the amount of corruption and greed in the world. Living in a state that has had an over abundance of corrupt politicians, I find it absolutely despicable that the men and women who have been elected into public office have so little regard for the people who elected them. I guess having the adulation and support from the masses is not enough to support their egos. In this crime thriller corruption became a deadly business. Private investigator Billy Taggart, played by Mark Wahlberg (Ted, The Fighter) was hired by Mayor Nicholas Hostetler, played by Russell Crowe (Les Miserables, Robin Hood), to follow his wife Cathleen, played by Catherine Zeta-Jones (No Reservations, Entrapment). But when Billy discovered he was set up for a more diabolical reason, he would need his years of police training to seek out revenge. The idea behind this story was solid enough to have built an exciting, tense drama. Unfortunately the writer and director were ill equipped to make this happen. The acting was dull; Mark Wahlberg was beyond generic, having acted the same way 100 times before. There were fringe characters that popped in and out as the story tumbled into a mess. The only character I found interesting was Police Commissioner Carl Fairbanks, who was played by the underrated but always excellent actor Jeffrey Wright (Source Code, Quantum of Solace). I kept looking at my watch throughout this film; never a good sign. The only pleasure I received was from the quick ending, even with its cheesiness. I am afraid the real crime being done here was me buying a ticket to see this poorly done movie.

 

1 2/3 stars

Flash Movie Review: Playing for Keeps

I am more comfortable with diversity, whether it is in my classes or in my neighborhood, than everyone being the same. There is more opportunity for learning with a diverse group in my opinion. For example, I am uncomfortable with a group of people who all act as if they are part of the Stepford Wives. This is one of the reasons why I lost interest with the characters in this predictable movie. I found the soccer mom characters to be simply icky. The message coming across was that soccer moms were unsatisfied, desperate to find physical affection. Catherine Zeta-Jones (Chicago, The Terminal) as Denise and Uma Thurman (Pulp Fiction, Gattaca) as Patti would be examples of the poorly developed characters in this dull film. Gerard Butler (Chasing Mavericks, Law Abiding Citizen) played George, a former soccer star who was down on his luck. Divorced and having been an absentee dad to his son, George decided to coach his son’s soccer team in hopes of getting back into his son’s life again. Jessica Biel (The Illusionist, Total Recall) played George’s ex-wife Stacie who had moved on with her life and was about to get remarried as George came back into her life. Besides the story being silly, I felt the characters were one dimensional. Dennis Quaid (The Day After Tomorrow, Pandorum) was ridiculous as smarmy character Carl, cheating husband to Patti. The acting was not memorable and came across as being stilted. I could appreciate the idea of Gerard’s character wanting to be a responsible father to his son, but the writers veered off from it by filling scenes with silly filler. Relative newcomer Noah Lomax was very good playing the son Lewis. I felt bad for this character; not as much for having an absentee father as for being stuck in this loser of a movie.

1 2/3 stars

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