REVENGE IS SOMETHING THAT IS NOT easily mastered; I should know. Not only have I done my share of acts of revenge, I have seen so many others attempt it. There was a family that suffered a tragic loss when a relative of theirs was shot dead. The victim was a shop owner who was killed during a botched robbery of his store. His relatives understandably were devastated. At some point their sadness turned into anger which they focused to the robber’s nationality. They became mistrustful of anyone of the same nationality. If they could I believed they would have acted on their sudden hatred and do bodily harm to the person if the opportunity presented itself. I remember listening to a few of them when they were talking about the things they wanted to do to get revenge. Gratefully, they were more talk than action; so, I did not have to interject myself into their discussions, to diffuse the situation. What happened to them was quite sad. Instead of seeking help with their feelings of anger they disintegrated into a level of dysfunction where their ambition, happiness and empathy melted away from the heat of their raging feelings. They took no pleasure in things they used to enjoy. NOT THAT I AM NECESSARY PROUD of this; but I was more successful in seeking out revenge against those that had harmed me. I know that sounds ominous; let me try to explain. In past reviews, I have shared that I am the survivor of bullying and abuse. During my high school years, I spent a lot of time fantasizing about all the things I wanted to do against my perpetrators. Drowning by water or burning in a fire were popular themes for me. In reality, I did only a few minor irritating things to annoy those bullies; some acts involved itching powder and glue. From my initiation in school, I was better prepared to handle bullies in the work world. With one person who caused me harm, I started to lock file drawers that they needed, knowing they did not have a key for them. One of the things I mastered was to ignore the person. If it was business related, I would talk to them; if not, I would not acknowledge them. I know this sounds childish, but it was a method that worked in keeping me calm and focused on what I was being paid to do. This was a safer option compared to what the main character chose to do in this dramatic, action mystery movie. LIFE SPIRALED OUT OF CONTROL FOR Stephanie Patrick, played by Blake Lively (A Simple Favor, The Age of Adeline), after her family died in a plane crash. She had no purpose in life until a journalist found and told her his theory about the crash not being an accident. With Jude Law (Closer, The Grand Budapest Hotel) as B, Sterling K. Brown (Hotel Artemis, This is Us-TV) as Mark Serra, Daniel Mays (The Bank Job, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) as Dean West and Max Casella (Blue Jasmine, Jackie) as Leon Giler; this was a new type of character for Blake to play. I thought she was decent in the role; but it did not help the trajectory of this picture. The script was beyond loony. First, buying Blake as an “action hero” was a stretch, I grant you that. However, nothing made any sense in the transformation of her character. And if that was not enough, throw in a quick love interest scene. I could not get over how incredibly boring this film was for me. There is nothing more I would rather do than tell you about the ludicrous things that took place here; but they would give away part of the story. I could not do that to you, but maybe a revengeful person would think differently.
1 ½ stars
UGH, THERE GOES THAT ACQUAINTANCE telling us what he would do if he was in that type of situation. I was telling my friends about my recent experiences with the cable company. One of the pieces of equipment they gave me turned out to be faulty. After waiting on hold forever to talk to a customer service representative, I finally got someone on the line to explain my situation. Long story short, if they came out to swap out the equipment I would be billed a service charge. Before I could complete the story to my friends, this friend of a friend interrupted to tell everyone what he would have done if the same thing happened to him; well it did not happen to him so I did not care what he had to say. I hope that doesn’t sound rude, but I do not take kindly to people telling me what I should do or what they would do while I am in the middle of telling people what was happening to me. THERE IS SOMETHING TO SAY about that phrase, “…you do not know until you take a walk in my shoes,” or something similar to it. Unless I am asking someone for their advice, I do not see any real purpose in having someone telling me what they would do if they were in the same situation that I was in. Here is an example of what I am talking about: Sitting down with the teacher and vice principal to discuss the issues I was facing in a particular class, I tell them about a particular bully who was picking on me. Before I could finish telling them everything the gym teacher looks up at me and tells me not to let the bully do it; I should tell him to stop. That was all the advice he had for me. Gratefully the vice principal had other ideas for the short term. The thing that amazes me, not only for that gym teacher but essentially anyone else, is how someone can give advice when they are not part of the experience. It is like that person who tells you if someone tried to pick their pocket they would beat up the offender after you just got done saying someone took your wallet or purse. I guess people like to imagine themselves as superheroes or maybe just like to brag. However in the case of the three friends in this biographical thriller, they did exactly what they meant to do in this crisis. CHILDHOOD FRIENDS ALEX, ANTHONY AND SPENCER; played by Alek Skarlatos, Anthony Sadler and Spencer Stone; while on vacation found themselves in the middle of a terrorist attack. Directed by Clint Eastwood (Gran Torino, Million Dollar Baby) this film also starred Judy Greer (27 Dresses, Ant-Man) as Joyce and Jenna Fischer (The Office-TV, Slither) as Heidi. I unequivocally admire the courage of these three men; their story deserves to be known. Now that I have stated that I have to tell you their acting was so poor that it was a major distraction in watching this dramatic movie. Clint wanted to cast the actual men which was fine, but if you want to tell a story you need to have someone act it out. The script was elementary like a 5th or 6th grade level elementary; that is how rough it was sitting in the theater hearing these non-actors speak. Also there was so much back story that the main event felt secondary to me. I was so stunned at how bad this film was that I joined a group of viewers afterwards who all voiced their negative reactions to this picture. One can assume the movie studio wanted to honor these heroes, but they did no such thing.
1 ½ stars
CONFRONTING A BUREAUCRACY AND its red tape requires a person to be persistent, strong willed, stubborn and in good physical/mental health. These characteristics can easily be applied to a person preparing for war. From my recent hospital stay I got a taste of what it takes to confront a large corporation. In the scheme of things I realize my few inconsistent encounters there were not major, though I say this without knowing what the ramifications would have been if I did not question the staff’s actions. A nurse came into my room at one point to tell me she was there to give me drops for my eyes. I asked her what was she applying and she said probiotics. This made no sense since I provided the hospital with my bottle of probiotics; they were capsules, so how could they be given in eye drops I asked her. She agreed to go back to the pharmacy to find out the error. I have no idea what was in those drops by the way. ANOTHER TIME A DIFFERENT nurse came in to tell me she had my flu shot. I told her I did not approve a flu shot since my office offers them to the employees. In addition, I mentioned to her that I thought one should not get a flu shot when they are not in good health. She nodded her head and left the room with her medical cart. Since this was my first experience being in a hospital I now realize the patient needs to stay diligent in being aware of everything being done to them. If they cannot do this, then the patient needs an advocate; in other words, someone who will look out for the patient’s best interests. With so many different people coming into my room at all times throughout the day and night, I really got a taste of how not just the hospital but any large entity can wear a person down until they just give up. Granted my energy level was low while in the hospital; however, I am aware of the benefits reaped when one remains determined and steadfast. The main character in this action thriller is the perfect example of such a strong minded person. WHEN HIS DAUGHTER WAS killed in a terrorist bombing Quan Ngoc Minh, played by Jackie Chan (Shanghai Noon, Dragon Blade), was positive certain individuals had to know about it. He would not take “no” for an answer. This film also starred Pierce Brosnan (The November Man, Die Another Day) as Liam Hennessy, Katie Leung (Harry Potter franchise, T2 Trainspotting) as Fan, Rufus Jones (Bill, Hunderby-TV) as Ian Wood and Mark Tandy (Howards End, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason) as Simpson. What grabbed me in this picture were Jackie’s and Pierce’s characters; they did not appear to be similar to the roles they have portrayed in their other films. Jackie was an older version of himself which meant there were less comedic martial arts moves and more age appropriate movements. Pierce was intense in this film which only added to the whole cat and mouse vibe taking place. I thought the fight scenes were exciting and well done; they never seemed out of place or gratuitous. For me this film was good escapism and provided some food for thought about what really goes on in the world.
I DID NOT think my question was that unusual or demanded too much from the sales clerk. If you could have seen their face you would have thought I had just asked something outrageous or personal. All I wanted to know was if the shirt’s material tended to shrink. Besides the “dirty” look and the condescending way they answered me, they did not even bother to look at me in the face. I wanted to tell them if they were that miserable at their job, maybe they should consider changing careers. Now in the past I would have taken that response personally and snapped back something nasty to say to them. To tell you the truth I took most things personally back then. DUE TO THE events I experienced in my earlier days I was wary of most people. My mind would quickly go into attack mode whenever I had an exchange of some kind with a stranger. They could have been a volunteer soliciting signatures or a lost tourist, it did not matter; I would be distrustful of the individual until I saw or could ascertain they were not going to hurt me in some way. I am not exactly sure when I started softening my attitude and not taking things personally, but I think it was during a time I was being fixed up on several blind dates. It did not take me long into the conversation to realize whether the person was interested in me or not. Granted some people showed their disinterest easier than others; but even the ones that kept up a good facade, did not cause me to react negatively. I realized that everyone has likes and dislikes, trigger points that set them off and none of it should be looked at as a good or bad thing. Their qualifications or agenda was not a personal attack on me; I just did not fit into what they were looking for. In a way one could say it was just business. AFTER SURVIVING A terrorist attack while on vacation Mitch Rapp, played by Dylan O’Brien (The Maze Runner franchise, Teen Wolf-TV), could not think of anything else after that date but to hunt down the terrorists. It was something the CIA was doing also. This action thriller also starred Michael Keaton (The Founder, Spider-Man: Homecoming) as Stan Hurley, Sanaa Lathan (Out of Time, The Best Man Holiday) as Irene Kennedy, Taylor Kitsch (Lone Survivor, Friday Night Lights-TV) as Ghost and Shiva Negar (The Art of More-TV, My Babysitter’s a Vampire-TV) as Annika. The highlight of this film was Michael Keaton; he was the most believable out of the cast. I do not know if Dylan was miscast but he did not have much range with his acting and I am afraid to say did not have the physical presence to pull off his character. With decent fight and action scenes the script could not carry the story; there were several situations that did not ring true for me. In addition the story was not only predictable but the premise for it was cheesy and weak in my opinion. A couple of therapy sessions prior to developing this film would have been money well spent.
I do not want to see the aftermath of a major accident. A car crash, where the vehicles are crinkled and smoking, with the flashing lights of police cars all around is nothing I want to slow down and stare at as I drive by. It is hard for me to watch the news when they show the aftermath of a terrorist attack with people strewn about like limp broken dolls. Even in movies I am not fond of seeing the scenes that show realistic bloodshed. If a character gets shot with a ray gun it does not bother me; but if it is a sawed off shotgun, I would rather not have to see the outcome. Just to let you know as a movie reviewer I never look away from a film no matter how gruesome it may be. When a movie is made about a situation that actually took place there is a distinction that has to be made. If the film is a documentary I expect to hear real facts and see actual footage. Now if the story is done as a dramatization I understand the writers may take certain liberties to enhance the story and make it more entertaining for the viewer. In the case of this biographical crime drama, I understand it may not be exact factual information and for that reason I am reviewing it as an entertainment piece not judging the acts shown or the political statement. First aired as a television miniseries, this tense thriller was about the infamous terrorist Illich Ramirez Sanchez aka Carlos the Jackal. A Venezuelan revolutionary, one of Carlos’ famous acts was the 1975 raid on the OPEC ministers during their annual meeting. Edgar Ramirez (Vantage Point, Wrath of the Titans) was incredible playing the intense, egotistical terrorist Carlos. Even when his scenes required him to speak in a different language he was seamless in the way his character interacted with a variety of foreign individuals. The length of this Golden Globe winning series was 5 hours and 33 minutes on multiple DVDs and I was never bored as I watched it. My remembrances of the actual events depicted in this drama were vague, but due to the tightly written story and excellent direction I found myself staying engaged with every scene. This was an extremely well done, provocative dramatization of a person who, whether he liked it or not, was famous with a larger than life reputation. There were several brief scenes that showed blood. English subtitles were used during the scenes that had Arabic, German, Spanish, French, Hungarian, Japanese or Russian dialog.
3 1/2 — DVD
One of the fastest ways to learn about someone is to take a vacation with them. There are only a couple of friends I would take a trip with because I know they can handle my intensity. If I go with someone I have been dating, I try to dial myself down in the beginning; giving them a chance to get used to my idiosyncrasies. Now I do not want you to get the impression that I am some type of Tasmanian devil that feverishly spins out of control, as I subject the poor individual to nonstop action. Depending on what type of vacation I am on determines my energy level. If I am visiting a new city then I go at a faster pace as I try to see everything the place has to offer; in other words, a total tourist and more. If I am returning to a destination that I have visited before, then I am running in a lower gear. I use vacation time as a way for a person to get to know the real me; however, can someone really get to know someone well enough, their true essence? It is something to think about as the layered story played out in this dramatic film. Highly regarded Arab surgeon Amin Jaafari, played by Ali Suliman (Body of Lies, Lemon Tree), was puzzled when he returned to his Tel Aviv apartment only to find his wife Siham’s, played by Reymond Amsalem (Rendition, Lebanon), cell phone sitting on the table. The first word he would hear about his missing wife was when authorities came to talk to him about a recent terrorist attack. Based on the bestselling novel by Yasmina Khadra, this movie methodically built up the tension in the story. I found it fascinating the way the director and writers evenly presented Arab and Israeli viewpoints. The acting was excellent in this film festival winning movie. There were a few pockets through the movie where I felt the story dragged a bit, but there was still opportunity for me to ponder scenes that had just played out. This film posed some interesting questions, making me wonder if it is really possible to completely know everything about another person. There was a brief scene with blood in it. Arabic and Hebrew with English subtitles.