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
GETTING AN EDUCATION was more important than the living arrangements. Her child had special needs that the local school district could not adequately provide. The decision was not easy since they had settled into their home almost 10 years ago. After much discussion, investigation and planning they packed up everything and moved to a location in a new school district in a different state. If you thought it would be easy it was not. The mother was considered an outsider, since the rest of the mothers had known each other for a few years and they were all much younger in age. The new mother did not care; her child’s well being was more important than trying to fit in to any group. Over the next school year there was an inkling that her child was improving in a couple of key areas. She felt she had made the right decision and over the years marveled at her child’s progress. THERE IS NO manual on how to raise a child; you simply bring them into this world and do your best, hopefully producing good results. Listening to parents talk about their “trials’ in childrearing I am always impressed by the amount of sacrifices a parent endures in raising their children. I find it encouraging because I have seen the ramifications of not participating in a child’s upbringing. There was a boy in my old neighborhood who my friends and I tried to avoid playing with because he liked to punch and bite people. When we were at his home we saw how his parents rarely disciplined or even reprimanded him. It was like his parents could not be bothered with him. It was so odd to me because I was familiar with some parents who were ferocious when it came to looking out for the well being of their children. In fact I still remember walking by the principal’s office and the parents of a boy who had been punched by that boy in our neighborhood were demanding actions that would protect their child along with the other children in the school. They may not have had to go to the extremes the mother did in this thriller but they were just as intense. DISTRACTED FOR ONLY a moment was all the time needed for Karla Dyson’s, played by Halle Berry (X-Men franchise, Cloud Atlas), child to get separated from her. Nothing would stop her from finding her son Frankie, played by Sage Correa (Tempting Fate, Uncle Buck-TV). Along with Chris McGinn (My Own Love Song, Sight Unseen) as Margo and Lew Temple (Lawless, The Devil’s Rejects) as Terry, the story would hit home for most people; even those without children could still relate to the sense of loss. Both Halle and Chris were the standouts for me; each one was able to draw me into their character. As for the film some of the action scenes were exciting and nerve wracking. By having so many similar scenes however, I was getting a bit bored or found them farfetched. When the story got closer to the ending is when my interest perked up once again, but by that time I wanted everything to be done. In my opinion I would have preferred having more back story and interaction with Chris’ character. This film did not need to be on the road so long.
We had no choice we had to go up. I was not happy with the rented van; the sides of it had peeling paint and the tires looked too small to bear the weight of all the furniture we were going to pack up. My friend said he got a good deal on it so I kept quiet. It was still light out when we started our route up into the mountains but I have to tell you it was a slow ride. Whenever the road would be on the decline he would have to ride the brakes because the weight of the van plus gravity would push the truck down faster. A burning smell would appear in the cab; it came from the brakes that my friend said they felt like they were slipping. It was scary enough but adding in the lack of guardrails along the side of the roads only made me freak out more. All of this was a surprise to me since my friend had not given me much detail on how I was going to help him move. Because of our slow passage through the mountains my biggest fear was doing this route in the dark and that is exactly what we had to do. Gratefully a full moon added a little depth to the blackness all around us. At one point while we were just coming out of a long curve in the road, the headlamps spotlighted several mountain goats crossing the road right in front of us. The sudden shock made my friend slam on the brakes which caused the furniture to groan as we could feel it pushing into our cab, trying to propel the truck further forward. By sheer luck we did not hit any of the goats or careen off the road. When we finally realized we made it through the mountain range, when we caught a glimpse of the highway below us, it was the first time I was able to relax. I had a similar reaction as I watched this crime thriller. DANNY and Vic, played by Martin Compston (Filthy, Red Road) and Eddie Marsan (The Illusionist, Sherlock Holmes franchise), had everything planned down to the smallest detail. All they needed to do was kidnap Alice Creed, played by Gemma Arterton (Quantum of Solace, Unfinished Song). Written and directed by J Blakeson (Pitch Perfect, The 5th Wave), this film festival nominated movie presented a straight forward story. Right from the start it grabbed me with its tight focused scenes. I thought the acting was good and enjoyed the way the characters expanded as the story moved forward. What especially sold me on this DVD were the surprise twists and the way the director built up the tension in several scenes. Now I will say there were a few scenes that did not ring as true as the others, where I just sat there and said to myself, C’mon.” Despite that I still enjoyed watching this film. If nothing else, it was easier getting shocked and surprised knowing I personally could not get hurt. There were a couple of scenes where blood was shown.
2 ¾ stars — DVD
Being the recipient of unconditional love is one of the most extraordinary events to experience in one’s lifetime. To have a person who loves you, respects you and accepts you with all of your quirks and oddities is like always having a comforting warm hug around you. Most everybody assumes the first exposure to unconditional love comes from our parents and for the most part that is true. However I have seen examples where I had to wonder to myself why that person became a parent. This may sound harsh to some of you but I saw a parent during a team sporting event that spent the entire time yelling at their child, telling them everything they were doing wrong. It was horrifying and frankly disgusting to me. I cannot honestly say that parent loved their child unconditionally. Let me ask you what you think about a parent who informs their child they should have never become a parent; what does that say about them? In fact because they did not want to be bothered by their child they started giving them an allowance at a very early age to stay out of their hair. Unconditional love is not exclusive to one group of people; it goes for everyone. I have had discussions with friends who were in relationships with people who smoked cigarettes. Knowing they were non-smokers I asked how the two worked it out. They said an agreement was made that there would be no smoking in the house or car and they deal with it because they love their significant other. To me that is unconditional love and as I was moved by that statement I was just as moved by the unconditional love I saw in this adventure drama. WITH the government thinking his son could be a threat and a religious group thinking he was a savior, the only thing that mattered to Roy, played by Michael Shannon (Take Shelter, The Iceman), was figuring out how to keep his special little boy safe. This film festival nominee immediately grabbed me at the beginning of its original story, which is listed as science fiction by the way. With Joel Edgerton (Black Mass, The Gift) as Lucas, Adam Driver (Frances Ha, Star Wars: The Force Awakens) as Sevier and Kirsten Dunst (Spiderman franchise, Upside Down) as Sarah Tomlin; I thought the acting was wonderful, adding oomph to the already compelling script. The combination of Michael Shannon as the Dad and Jaeden Lieberher (Aloha, St. Vincent) as his son Alton was powerful enough for me to actually believe they were family. The acting took this story which was essentially a long chase scene and made the movie extra special for me. On another level the script allowed the viewer to come up with their own interpretation concerning the different factions staking out their claims. I feel if one can accept the story they will find this picture a fascinating study. This movie took me away despite falling off towards the end; but it was okay, I still loved watching this indie feeling film treat.
3 ¼ stars
I am afraid it is just like riding a bike; once you have mastered it you will never forget how to do it. Born from the hot sparks of anger and hurt, it can easily dominate all of your other emotions. No matter how expansive your mind may be, it will infiltrate and seize control of the areas that house logic and common sense. For reasons out of my control, I learned at an early age how to harness its energy and retaliate against my perceived enemies. There is that quote that goes,”Revenge is a dish best served cold,” which must explain why in my adult life I am so sensitive to cold temperatures. In middle school there was this kid who would pick on me whenever I was in his eyesight; from knocking my books out of my hand to punching me in the back, there was a variety of things he did to me. Once he was done I would plot these elaborate plans to get back at him. I am embarrassed to say this now but many of my plans involved drowning or fires because I wanted him to suffer before he would expire in my mind. You see I never acted on them, all but one stayed in my imagination. The only one I actually did, after a full week of daily abuse, was when I found thumbtacks in a similar color as the seats in our classroom; need I saw more? They say time heals old wounds and I found out in my adult life it was true. Believing in karma has helped me steer my energy to more positive behaviors, but I enjoyed saying hello to my old friend revenge in this horror thriller. HAVING been kidnapped and chained to the floor of a basement Eve, played by Tina Ivlev (The Devil’s in the Details, Death Clique-TV movie), spent her time plotting revenge against her kidnapper Phil, played by Richard Tyson (Kindergarten Cop, Black Hawk Down). I am guessing most people’s initial reaction to this movie will be similar to mine, regarding why Eve did not contact the police. Once I let go of that thought, I have to tell you I did not mind watching this film even with its bloody scenes. The character of Eve was strong enough to maintain my interest in the story. I really liked her tough stance because it was a switch from similar films of this nature. This was a low budget picture with a simple story that did not pretend to be anything else but a movie about revenge. It was so much better for me to just watch my old friend instead of acting out with it. Several scenes contained violence and blood in them.
2 1/4 stars
The further technology advances the less personal it becomes is something everyone has heard. From what I have seen I believe it is true. For example, I have noticed a change in people’s reactions to amber alerts. Though everyone still acknowledges such news with sympathy, the feelings do not last long. Driving on the highways it is not uncommon to see an amber alert posted on the electronic signs hanging over the road. For myself, I will take note of the car’s description listed in the message but once I exit the highway the memory fades. With the immediate bombardment of news we get on a daily basis, the significance of each story bleeds into the next until all of it becomes this obscure sea of information that floats outside of us. That is not the case when it comes to this intense crime mystery movie; it brings the story down to a personal level. Hugh Jackman (X-Men franchise, The Prestige) in one of his best roles played Keller Dover, the father of a missing daughter. With his wife Grace, played by Maria Bello (Towelhead, Secret Window) suffering over the loss and Detective Loki’s, played by Jake Gyllenhaal (Zodiac, End of Watch), perceived inability to arrest a suspect; Keller would take matters into his own hands, doing whatever it would take to find his daughter. I was totally taken by Hugh’s wide-ranging performance; he was incredible. It was funny, at first I did not understand Jake’s character because I thought the acting was odd from him. But then slowly I began to grasp what Jake was doing and found his interpretation to be quite powerful. It was a different type of character for him and I felt he nailed it. Viola Davis (Won’t Back Down, The Help) as Nancy Birch and Melissa Leo (Frozen River, The Fighter) as Holly Jones were outstanding; Viola does suffering better than almost any other actress I know. The story was not simple; in fact, I feel I need to see this film again to really make some connections I thought I was missing due to some twists. This was a tough, emotional, in your face movie filled with raw emotions, prepare yourself. It is one thing to hear or read about a crime; it is another to see it unfold in front of your eyes. There were several scenes of violence with blood.
3 1/2 stars
There is already an innate level of creepiness built in this thriller due to the subject matter. Though any type of kidnapping is awful, when one hears of an amber alert there is a deeper dread for that innocent child. Right at the start I got hooked by seeing all the activity in the 911 call center. Being unfamiliar with the inner workings, I was quickly pulled into the building intensity around veteran operator Jordan Turner, played by Halle Berry (X-Men franchise, Cloud Atlas). On her phone line was a young girl reporting an intruder was in her house. From this scene going forward the level of tension was uneven. There were times I found myself holding my breath, anxious for what was going to happen next. But then there were scenes that fell flat. One of the reasons was because I had already seen several pivotal scenes in the trailers. If you have not seen any of the trailers, I suggest you do your best to avoid them. I understand the movie studio has to market their movie and having trailers only of Halle in the 911 call center would not necessarily translate to increased ticket sales. The other factor that diminished the apprehensiveness was the cheesiness in the script. If the writers would have kept the story as a taut, pressure cooker race against the clock buildup; this film would have been a real heart stopper. Add in a wonderful performance by Abigail Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine, Zombieland) as Casey Welson, along with Michael Eklund (Watchmen, 88 Minutes) as Michael Foster and Morris Chestnut (Boyz n the Hood, Identity Thief) as Officer Paul Phillips; this movie could have had a lot more punch. Also, I thought the ending was not well thought out and unrealistic. Because of this movie I know the next time I see an amber alert flashing across the highway signs, I will have more to imagine now. A few scenes had blood and violence in them.
2 1/3 stars