Once upon a time I had only known police officers to be friendly and helpful. There was a relative’s relative (you know, from the other side of a marriage) who was in the police force. The few times where we would be together for an occasion they were simply kind and quiet. I was told they were tough at work but I never witnessed it. In high school there was a narcotics officer who stationed himself in the cafeteria during all of the lunch periods. I remember him kidding around with the students as he patrolled the large lunchroom. He was always at the entrance first thing in the morning to greet all of us; though I always wondered if he was looking for something in particular. There was only one time where I saw him interacting with a student in a forceful way. It turned out the student was high on something and tried to resist the officer’s request to come with him to the principal’s office. That was my only contact with police officers. Sadly when you hear people talking about the police these days it tends to be with disdain and mistrust. The use of video cameras, installed on the officers and in police cars along with bystanders’ cell phones, has changed the general public’s opinions about the police. With the altercations that have been recorded and shown on the news these days, I cannot imagine someone not being affected by it in a negative way. The one reason I am not surprised by the things I have seen is because I have always had this philosophy for every occupation: someone has to graduate at the top of the class just as there has to be someone who graduates at the bottom. UNDER pressure to commit a criminal act a group of crooked officers have to set up a code 999, which means an officer is down. This crime thriller had an amazing cast of actors that included Chiwetel Ejiofer (The Martian, Z for Zachariah) as Michael Atwood, Casey Affleck (Tower Heist, Gone Baby Gone) as Chris Allen, Anthony Mackie (Ant-Man, Our Brand is Crisis) as Marcus Belmont and Kate Winslet (Steve Jobs, Titanic) as Irina Vlaslov. Now you would think with such a group of actors this movie would be stellar, wouldn’t you? The action scenes were absolutely intense but the story went nowhere. I felt no connection to any of it; none of the scenes flowed together, it was disjointed. Sitting here and recalling the characters reminds me I knew nothing about them. It felt as if I had only seen a portion of the film; the part that had the blood and violence in it. The actors did what they could with the script but the only one that stood out for me was Casey. Kate was wasted on her role and I felt I had wasted my time watching this picture. Maybe the people involved with making this movie graduated at the bottom of their class.
1 3/4 stars
Everyone was having a good time as things continued to go smoothly at the reception. The top reason for this was due to the main attraction, the bride and groom. They were each outgoing individuals that were able to create memorable times no matter the situation. Now as a couple their chemistry only accentuated their fun qualities. All the guests were mingling and chatting during the cocktail hour, telling each other memories they had shared with the bride and/or groom. Dinner was announced as the large padded doors along one wall were folded back, revealing a room glowing in a soft palette of white, burgundy and gold colors. There was an orchestra playing music as the guests headed to their seats. After everyone was seated the orchestra leader announced the newly married couple as they entered in to the sound of cheers and applause from family and friends. Once they were seated the first toasts of the evening were given by each of the parents. They shared personal fun stories about their children, giving the crowd a good laugh. The next toast came from the best man who was the groom’s best friend. Since they had known each other since 1st grade, there were intimate tales the best man felt for some reason were okay to tell the crowd. One embarrassing story led to another with a running joke that was only cute the first time. The lukewarm reaction to the joke did not stop the best man; his speech dragged out to a point where the crowd was dulled into boredom. JUST like the best man overstayed his welcome, so did the main characters in this action comedy. Reese Witherspoon (Wild, Walk the Line) played uptight police officer Cooper who was assigned to protect Daniella Riva, played by Sofia Vergara (Chef, Modern Family-TV), the wife of a drug lord. Cooper’s training did not prepare her for Daniella and all the bad guys after her. I was surprised by this movie’s story. Sure there was humor to mine when the two main characters were total opposites of each other; however, the writers did nothing new with them. The running joke about Daniella’s accent and not being understood got old very fast. I found Reese’s character, which was the blander of the two, annoying after a short time. As the movie went on it dawned on me that it was similar to the film, The Heat with Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy. The difference being this was a very poor version of it. I read afterwards that Reece and her production company want to bring out strong women driven films which I am all for; but if this was an example of what is in store for the movie audience, I think it will push back the limited gains that have been made already.
1 1/2 stars
They say clothes makes the person, but does it really? Do clothes truly have the power to turn a person into something else? At my last visit to the bank for work I noticed all the men were now wearing sport coats; in the past they only needed to wear their branded shirts. I asked one of the tellers why he was wearing the jacket and he said the bank wanted to present a professional, knowledgeable staff to the public. Yet I did not see a difference since no one could explain why the bank kept pulling out international checks from our lockbox and mailing them to us. I would then have to bring the checks to the bank and deposit them; it made no sense. On a more personal level I have known a variety of people who feel better when they are wearing some new article of clothing. I can understand even though I do not place much importance into what a person wears. As long as it is clean I do not care. However for some individuals clothes can be used as their calling card in making a strong statement. If it is a hazardous materials suit or protective bomb defusing clothing, then yes that makes a bold presentation. UNIFORMS were the catalyst for this comedic movie. Jake Johnson (21 Jump Street, New Girl-TV) and Damon Wayan Jr. (The Other Guys, New Girl-TV) played best friends Ryan and Justin. When the two dressed up as police officers for a costume party, the pair discovered they were being treated quite differently compared to their everyday life. However the fun and perks that came with wearing those uniforms may not have been enough for the friends after they started to take the joke too far. I read an interview that was done with the director, where he said he allowed the two actors to ad lib many of their scenes together because they already had established a relationship with each other on their television show. It worked for this film since I found there was an emotional connection between the 2 men that helped form convincing characters. The humor and funny situations started out strong; but halfway through, the story lost the surprise factor and became repetitive. Part of the reason had to fall on the director’s shoulders; however, the script did him no favors. Having James D’Arcy (Hitchcock, Cloud Atlas) as Mossi and Rob Riggle (The Internship, Big Miracle) as Segars was a plus in getting to the end of this picture without complete boredom. Overall the story was not hard to figure out. This led me to believe several scenes were just done to provide filler, adding enough time to stretch what would have been a sitcom segment into a full length movie.
While the age of 65 is the brass ring the average person strives to reach for retirement, it was not for a majority of my family members. My father worked seven days a week and continued to work beyond retirement age. I had a couple of uncles where one worked every day at a tavern and the other traveled around the country as a manufacturer’s rep. Both worked past the age of 65. The goal was to do whatever was necessary to provide for one’s family. As for myself, I have not given much thought to the idea of retirement. In this powerful drama I was fascinated with the juxtaposition of methods used by two fathers to provide for their families. Ryan Gosling (Blue Valentine, Drive) played stunt motorcycle driver Luke, a single man who found out he was the father of a baby boy. Romina, the woman he had the fling with a year ago and now the mother of his child, was played by Eva Mendes (Hitch, We Own the Night). Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook, Limitless) played Avery Cross, a police officer who worked in a department riddled with corruption. When Luke chose to rob banks as a way to provide for his son, it would set in motion a series of events that would affect his family and officer Cross’ family for generations. Already being a fan of Ryan’s acting, his part of the story was incredible to watch. From the opening sequence, where we follow Luke as he prepares for his motorcycle stunt, everyone did a great job of acting. Ben Medelsohn (The Dark Knight Rises, Killing Them Softly) as auto repair shop owner Robin was terrific. Because the first part of the film was thrilling for me, Bradley’s story was a slight letdown; but not by much. His acting was excellent as was Ray Liotta (Identity, Smokin’ Aces) as policeman Deluca. With outstanding direction and camera work, the span of years the story covered did not seem long at all. Sometimes choices made cause a ripple effect that last a lifetime. A couple of scenes with violence and blood.
3 1/3 stars