When we get together we not only come up with solutions to each of our problems, but we can provide the same for most of the world’s issues. There is something about getting together with friends on a regular basis to hash out anything that is troubling one of us at the time. I am part of a small group who has gotten together every three months for many years now. It is a time for us to take a break from the daily treadmill of our lives to catch up with each other and share a meal. I wish I could say I can solve any problem I am experiencing; but the fact remains, extra opinions can provide different pathways to a solution that I am not wired to come up with on my own. Because I feel every single person has a unique set of skills (doesn’t this sound like the beginning of a Liam Neeson movie?), there is always an opportunity to learn something new from other people. Another great aspect of getting together with friends is the sense of community and support. I am a person who needs down time, where I remove myself from the outside world. Having a re-occurring date to mingle with friends energizes, enlightens and relaxes me among other things. There is someone I know who leads a support group for like-minded individuals; they meet once every 4 to 8 weeks with the purpose to share their experiences on that night’s topic. I know what I am about to say is a cliché, but there is some truth in the phrase, “strength in numbers.” The people at this barbershop are the proof. WITH the neighborhood changing business partners Calvin and Angie, played by Ice Cube (Ride Along franchise, 21 Jump Street franchise) and Regina Hall (Scary Movie franchise, Think Like a Man), came up with an idea they hoped would start a change in the residents. This dramatic comedy sequel took me by surprise. It is difficult to blend comedy and drama in a story, yet I felt the writers did a real good job with this script. The movie was relevant as it tackled the issue of violence in a major metropolitan city. A tough topic to be sure; but the actors such as Cedric the Entertainer (The Soul Man-TV, A Haunted House franchise) as Eddie, Common (Selma, Now You See Me) as Rashad and Nicki Minaj (The Other Woman) as Draya provided a balanced mixture of humor and seriousness. All the actors I found created a believable sense of community. I know I saw the previous films but honestly I do not remember them; it was not an issue in viewing this picture. Where Spike Lee’s film Chi-Raq tackled the same topic, I liked seeing the contrast in the way this movie handled it. Who knew one could learn so much from one small barbershop in the city of Chicago.
During one point of the movie I felt I was watching an extreme episode of the Iron Chef. There was so much slicing and dicing, I almost had to take a motion sickness pill. The story was simple: a small swat team of police officers, on a mission to bring in a ruthless drug lord, got trapped in his compound. Vastly outnumbered, the team had to fight their way through an endless amount of the drug lord’s minions. There was nothing to the story, it only had sparse dialog and practically non-existent acting. The key element here was the action scenes. The main star was Rama, played by Iko Uwais (Merantau). My guess is the studio was hoping to market Iko as the next martial arts superstar. He was a national champion in silat, a traditional Indonesian martial art, which he has been studying since he was 10 years old. The fight scenes were choreographed down to the millisecond. The actors moved so fast I wondered how many real injuries took place while filming. After several battles, they all seemed to be the same to me except for the level of violence. If you play violent video games, you would be okay with this movie. Though I could appreciate the intricate fight scenes, I did not enjoy viewing this movie. Ginzu knives missed a great marketing opportunity here. Warning: extreme violence. Indonesian with English subtitles.
1 3/4 stars