The Loft

“The people you love, they’re the only ones who can hurt you.” -Anne Morris

According the “The Loft” movie, it’s every man’s dream to have a cave or a loft where he can do whatever he wants, including cheating on his wife (or girlfriend). I say no thanks, even in a movie. The idea of cheating is only somewhat interesting to me. “The Loft” explores it. Then again, maybe the movie is meant to show us the consequences of such actions.

The Loft (2014)
Cast
Karl Urban

as Vincent Stevens

James Marsden

as Chris Vanowen

Wentworth Miller

as Luke Seacord

Directed by
Erik Van Looy
Written by
Bart De Pauw (based upon the film written by), Wesley Strick (screenplay)
Other Info

Mystery, Romance, Thriller
Rated R
1h 48min

My favorite aspect of this movie isn’t the subject matter but rather the mystery woven through. In the first scenes we see a body fall out of the loft onto a car. The viewer is given clues but the key to the mystery about that body takes a real sleuth.

For me, this was almost a good tv movie but it shouldn’t be a cinema film. It had all the trappings of an Zach Galafinakis/Bradley Cooper drunken comedy ony there aren’t any jokes and we certainly aren’t meant to shake our fists and say “Hell yeah, have another shot.”

While I’m on that subject of men partying, I want to share with you I feel so disenfranchised from films like this. I don’t have friends who are pouring vodka down my throat and hooking me up with centerfolds. Why do we see this so much in movies like this?

The concept here is that a group of men share the rent on a secret loft penthouse style apartment. The understanding is that they can cheat on their significant other without being caught. Well, there is a murder and seemingly another death that may be suicide (the falling body onto the car). You get a lot of clues, some are obvious the others more cryptic. Nonetheless, it is a well woven mystery and I would recommend it on that basis alone. The characters, their lines, the story besides the mystery, unbelievable for me anyway. I don’t know what kind of dudes you run with but these ‘aint my peeps. If you liked it, let me know why? Like I said, it was an alright mystery.

The Super

The Super is pretty super but not super duper a ghost I know says. There’s some great creepy footage in this film. An old building is a great setting to build creepiness into suspense. As is with most mysteries, things are not as they seem. I’ll leave it up to you to decide if you like how they look when the mystery is revealed. There’s pros and cons for me. Regardless, it’s a dark, foreboding horror/thriller/mystery that keeps you guess all the way through. Discovering the answer may be more difficult for some rather than others. It’s a good one though and I think this film delivers based on its popularity score on IMDb.

The Super (2017)
R | 1h 30min | Horror , Thriller | 19 October 2018 (USA)
A man becomes the superintendent of a large New York City apartment building where people mysteriously go missing.
Director: Stephan Rick
Writer: John J. McLaughlin
Stars: Patrick John Flueger, Val Kilmer, Louisa Krause

Director Stephan Rick has done a lot of stuff in German. The one I recognize the most in his bio is “The Good Neighbor” which I have not yet seen but want to.

This film focuses on intruders and peeping toms inside your home. There are some great shots that pan down hallways and enter into clickety clack unlocked doors. It’s an average film, not amazing but the scares that takes place in the apartments are truly creepy. Kilmer is great as always. His voodoo obsessed character isn’t the only supe though so keep that in mind. I think the story takes an odd turn but then again, most the film consists of small and large turns throughout the runtime. I might have preferred a straight ahead story without so many twists that focused on the creepy nature of others having access to ones private living space. It isn’t that at all. It’s much more convoluted than that but on some level, I found it very fun and spooky. I can’t tell you why really or it would spoil the plot. Have you seen it? Let’s talk about it in the comments. I welcome spoilers there.

Searching (incl audio)

This film reminds me of any cutting edge upgrade that truly wows consumers. It’s also a great story told in a highly effective, suspenseful way. All this with the screen never shifting from a laptop display.

Searching (2018)
PG-13 | 1h 42min | Drama, Mystery, Thriller | 31 August 2018 (USA)

After his 16-year-old daughter goes missing, a desperate father breaks into her laptop to look for clues to find her.
Director: Aneesh Chaganty
Writers: Aneesh Chaganty, Sev Ohanian
Stars: John Cho, Debra Messing, Joseph Lee

It’s being compared to Hitchcock in its Thriller presentation. It’s the type of Maverick “laptop screen genre” we saw in the “Unfriended” franchise, “The Den,” “Open Windows,” and “Friend Request.” Of those, I only like “Unfriended” and “Open Windows.”

This film is something powerful. I like it best of any in this genre. I should note, director Aneesh Chaganty has not made a horror film here. It is a PG-13 narrative about a father who breaks into his daughter’s laptop once she goes missing. He finds clues to begin a search for his daughter who has gone missing irl.

Jon Chow as Dad and Debra Messing as police detective are stellar. Once again, everything is seen through the view of a laptop computer screen. This is the best film of its genre to date.

To avoid spoilers, I will leave my review at that. and with the invitation to listen to my podcast episode of “Searching.” I will say it is possibly my best film pick of 2018!

Below is a player and Link to my podcast episode where I review this film.

Below is a transcript excerpt from the show. I hope you listen and enjoy!

Here is an excerpt from the episode:

I’m gonna talk about 3 films in this episode but mostly just 1, “Searching.” Well, I just saw this and it’s a drama/mystery/thriller. So when I first looked at this and some of the ads and trailers I didn’t know what to think. I saw a solid choice of casting with John Cho and Debra Messing. The Director is Aneesh Chaganty. He is a first time director. He really took on a lot with this film. I can’t imagine all the little technical notes and screens that needed to be used in the direction of this film. The actors were good so that likely it helped his to do list but still, I think directing this required a lot of extra skills and talents.

[…]

If you want to say something spoilerish in the comments, go for it and I always respond to comments as well.

We see John Cho’s character go from a loving but somewhat distant dad to a highly dedicated Dad searching for his daughter. His daughter’s name is Margot and she is played by several “as she grows up” actresses. The final Margot is played by Michelle La, she is very beautiful and does an excellent job.

[..]

Diabolique (1955)

Header image
An abused, neglected wife and her husband’s jaded mistress plot the perfect murder.



The biggest pat on the back for this film goes to the writers. The way the characters are developed turns the screw of intensity until finally the ending is revealed. If you haven’t seen it, let me say it is not like other endings, it is a magnificent one, set apart.

Many writers were involved in starting and completing this film. After the final scenes’ power, you will likely agree with me it shows! The director is Henri-Georges Clouzot. He is known for other intensely dark yet compelling thrillers like this one. The films he has done as listed in his IMDB bio are: “Le Corbeau and “The Wages of Fear.” I admit to not seeing these films, but I want to after seeing “Les Diabolique.” He is compared in the bio to Hitchcock except with films that “do not have as much light relief.”

Le Corbeau got Georges in a lot of trouble. The French government thought he presented France in a dark and bad light so he was banned from making films for several years. Though there are many other stories about this director, I feel that one is the most telling about his honesty and integrity as a filmmaker. Thank goodness I don’t live in a censored state like he did. I don’t think I would be able to stand for it. Inevitably, this made him tough and thoughtful about his craft.

The brutal scene pictured here is a good followup to the director who crafted this amazing film. By today’s standards, it’s tame but for 1955 it was more brutal & mysterious than Hitchcock and that’s why people still love it to this day.

This film takes place in a French boys’ school where most the characters work. The Headmaster has been cheating on his wife for years and his mistress as well as the wife, work at the school. This is where the story is told and the exquisite tension begins.

You see a far different school than ours in America today. The teachers are smoking in the presence of the students, the kids food fight regularly, although it is smart how they just don’t feed them for the malfeasance. It seems to be ameliorated the next day. Funny what a schoolmaster hunger can be right? The headmaster is a womanizer, a rapist (in theory), and an all around unlikable guy. We start to see right away he needs to be killed, or at least we hope. As the two women drive together, they discuss a plan to get rid of this guy once and for all. For all intents and purposes, it seems like a perfect plan for murder.

I want to make a comment about the practical effects. Obviously back then it was all they had to work with but they are so much fun to watch. I recently watched “Eyes Without a Face,” another classic horror, and the car scenes were so funny to me. It looks so fake and yet they probably thought it was so real for the time. The scenes in these cars are even more archaic and also more funny to me. It really shows how far we’ve come with effects. Now back to the idea of this plot, with no spoilers.

The film is black and white of course and filmed almost entirely at the house which is the school for boys. The swimming pool that is part of their plan is at the school. They do a great job distracting the viewer with activities of the children. We find that the husband/headmaster has a lot to lose if his wife divorces him. He hits her and treats her miserably. As the viewer it’s hard to not imagine killing him, he’s that bad. BUT as we all know in the civilized world, it’s never appropriate to kill someone. We watch these two women make their plans, as he equally humiliates the mistress though not as badly, and their path takes them to another location: a holiday hotel.

The little couple that manage the hotel are side-splittingly funny. They are innocents and it’s funny how people intending to kill can look at innocents with such jealousy. Once the deed is done, there’ll be no going back.

I’ll leave my summary there for you. I haven’t given anything away except the fact that there is a great ending. I would challenge you to be brave and watch this old film. It’s better than so many modern murder mysteries.  If you’ve seen it, do leave some thoughts in the comments. I enjoy discussing this and other murder mysteries in this genre. Thos eare my thoughts, what did you think of this film?

 

Insidious

This is one of my favorite horror films of all time. It still gives me the chills when I watch it and I have seen it numerous times. Director James Wan uses clever practical effects and a very minimum number of CGI effects to make this film look and feel like a house of horrors you pay a dollar to see at a spooky off-the-path carnival. It’s amazing and I recommend it to all people interested in horror. Oh, and it’s all that AND guess what it’s rated? Only PG-13. Goes to show you a film doesn’t have to be super gnarly to scare the bajeezus out of you. Let’s hear the trailer then look at the plot to see if you agree with me about what makes this horror film work.

Insidious (2010)
PG-13 | 1h 43min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller | 1 April 2011 (USA)
Insidious Poster
Trailer
0:31 | Trailer
5 VIDEOS | 25 IMAGES
Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Prime Video
A family looks to prevent evil spirits from trapping their comatose child in a realm called The Further.
Director: James Wan
Writer: Leigh Whannell
Stars: Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Ty Simpkins

Director James Wan Probably needs no introduction to my audience, however if you don’t know much about him, let me read his BIO for you, because I think in this case, the director makes the film work (among other things):

James Wan (born 26 February 1977) is an Australian film producer, screenwriter and film director of Malaysian Chinese descent. He is widely known for directing the horror film Saw (2004) and creating Billy the puppet. Wan has also directed Dead Silence (2007), Death Sentence (2007), Insidious (2010), The Conjuring (2013) and Furious 7 (2015).

Before his success in the mainstream film industry, he made his first feature-length film, Stygian, with Shannon Young, which won “Best Guerrilla Film” at the Melbourne Underground Film Festival (MUFF) in 2000.

Prior to 2003, Wan and Leigh Whannell had begun writing a script based for a horror film, citing inspiration from their dreams and fears. Upon completing the script, Leigh and James had wanted to select an excerpt from their script, later to be known as Saw (2004), and film it to pitch their film to studios. With the help of Charlie Clouser, who had composed the score for the film, and a few stand-in actors, Leigh and James shot the film with relatively no budget. Leigh had decided to star in the film as well.

After the release of the full-length Saw (2004), the film was met with overwhelming success in the box office both domestically and internationally. The film ended up grossing 55 million dollars in America, and 48 million dollars in other countries, totaling over $103 million worldwide. This was over 100 million dollars profit, over 80 times the production budget. This green-lit the sequel Saw II (2005), and later the rest of the Saw franchise based on the yearly success of the previous installment. Since its inception, Saw (2004) has become the highest grossing horror franchise of all time worldwide in unadjusted dollars. In the United States only, Saw (2004) is the second highest grossing horror franchise, behind only the Friday the 13th (1980) films by a margin of $10 million.

– IMDb Mini Biography By: Movie Guy

Now let me walk you through the most terrifying house and show you the way Insidious scares the hell out of people! It’s done simply through its story and well made horror. Married couple Josh and Renai Lambert, their children Dalton, Foster, and infant daughter Cali have recently moved into a new home. One night, Dalton is drawn to the attic when he hears creaking noises and sees the door open by itself. He falls from a ladder while investigating and sees a figure in the shadows. Hearing his terrified screams, Renai and Josh rush to his aid. The next day, Dalton falls into an inexplicable coma. The Lambert family is what the beginning is all about. There are no jump scares, just some eerie wandering around. In fact, the movie only has a few scant jump scares and even those are more like letting your eyes adjust to the light and seeing something that startles you. They aren’t overly ambitious and in a way I think of them as … respectful? Yeah, it’s like Wan is respecting the viewer. In this early segment, we do see Renai walking into an attic, exploring dark areas of the house. It’s certainly creepy. I take issue with Josh at one point, he doesn’t take very good care of his wife. She has her hands full with the kids and he is always running out the door, working late, etc. Maybe he makes up for it later? Yeah, he does.

After three months of treatment without result, Renai and Josh are allowed to take Dalton home. Soon after, paranormal activity begins to occur; Renai begins hearing voices over the baby monitor when no one is in Cali’s room. Foster says that Dalton sleepwalks at night, Renai sees a frightening figure of a man in Cali’s room, who vanishes when Josh comes and the burglar alarm is repeatedly triggered for no reason. After Renai finds a bloody hand print on Dalton’s bed, she questions Josh about the house, but he ignores her. That night, Renai is attacked by the figure from Cali’s room, and the Lamberts decide to abandon the house and move elsewhere. This is pretty huge. I’m not sure if you’ve ever uprooted and moved but there is a lot to carry. Even with help, which they have hired, you’re stressing all the time, trying to get your shit moved. In short, it sucks. I hope I don’t have to move again for many many moons. But them again, these folks have a demon stalking them. If he’s in the house, they can escape, so I get why they do. Houses work to scare people. You can do so much with hinges, alarms, hideaway beds, fire escapes, cellars, attics, and the like. AND let me tell you, James Wan fucking uses the house in a way I have not seen. I got more scared by things that weren’t there than by things that surprised me were there. HIgh five on the spooky house work Mr. Wan! I recall one example vividly when the camera pans through one window showing a scary silhouette into another and the figure is gone. I would love to know how he did that. I have a feeling it was a practical non cgi effect. Mr. Wan, I’ll buy the coffee lol let’s hang dude.

In the new house, Renai sees the ghost of a dancing boy who leads her to Dalton’s room. Josh’s mother, Lorraine, visits them one day, and says she had a dream in which a dark figure in Dalton’s room replies “Dalton” when she asks what it wants. At the same time, she sees the same dark figure, a monstrous red-faced demon standing behind Josh and screams, while Dalton’s room is ransacked and Dalton himself is found lying on the floor. Lorraine is played by Barbara Hershey and her looks and moodiness is so perfect for the role. As a well known famous and award winning actress, it would be possible for her to wreck the buzz we have going in favor of thoughts about “Beaches” and Bette Midler but thanks to her incredible belief in the movie that you can feel, that doesn’t happen. Our Insidious universe is only enhanced.

Lorraine calls demonologists Elise Reiner, Specs, and Tucker. Elise senses a presence in the house and upon entering Dalton’s room sees something on the ceiling. Specs draws the demonic, red-faced figure Lorraine saw. At this point we are all in the dark about what it happening but the edges of the plot are starting to become clearer.

Elise explains that Dalton is not in a coma; he was born with the ability to travel mentally to the astral plane, and had been doing so in his sleep, believing his abilities to merely be dreams. He had traveled too far and became lost in a purgatory realm called “The Further”, a place inhabited by the tortured souls of the dead. Without his mental presence, Dalton’s body appears comatose and spirits can use it to enter the physical world. Josh is skeptical until he realizes that drawings in Dalton’s bedroom hinted at his astral projection abilities and the same red-faced demon Lorraine had seen.I’ll call him “Red.” The Red demon is no longer a mystery. He starts to be in scene after scene. He is the dude you want OUT of your home. As if it was that easy. The jump scare where a crescent sliver of his face is sticking out from Josh’s is the stuff that great horror images are made of. I am scared of this guy but I want Red to come back to send chills up my spine and he does, just enough, not too much. Again, the genius of James Wan at play.

Elise performs a seance to communicate with Dalton, but they contact the demon who uses Dalton’s body to attack them until it is stopped by Elise. Elise reveals that her acquaintance with Lorraine is decades old, because she previously performed the same service on Josh when he was eight years old. Josh was terrorized by night terrors that always included the parasitic spirit of an old woman. Lorraine dismissed his nightmares until the spirit showed up in her photos of Josh, progressively getting closer each time. Josh also possesses the ability to astral project, though he had suppressed his memory of the ability years prior with Elise’s help. Dalton has inherited this trait from him. Elise tells Josh that the only way to rescue Dalton is for him to go into the Further. This is the best part of the movie for me. The scares work because the dead and the killer are still. We do hear a gunshot but the creepy people in their living room. one ironing, others bringing food, simply remain still. The face of the female shooter is the essence of horror to me. I really love this part they call “The Further.” Again, I want to reiterate and remind you this got a PG-13 rating. I find it scarier than some R’s.

Elise puts Josh in a trance and he is able to project himself to their previous house. He goes to the attic, but is attacked by the same figure that attacked Renai. After defeating him, Josh enters the Demon’s lair, where Josh finds Dalton chained to the floor. Josh frees him, but they are caught by the demon while the spirits of the Further invade the real world and terrorize Elise, Renai, and the others. After managing to escape, Josh confronts the old woman that haunted him as a child. The old woman dissolves into darkness after Josh shouts at it to leave him alone. When Josh and Dalton return to their bodies, they wake up in their new home and the spirits seem to disappear.

As they celebrate the apparent end of their ordeal, Elise starts packing her equipment with Josh, when she senses that something is wrong, noticing Josh’s hands look old and dirty, she takes a photo of him. Josh, enraged by this, strangles Elise to death. Renai is horrified when she discovers Elise’s dead body and searches for Josh. Renai picks up the camera and sees that the image Elise took of Josh is the old woman that haunted him as a child, implying that Josh has been possessed. Josh suddenly puts his hand on her shoulder, says “Renai, I’m here”, and she turns around and gasps.

So now, we are set up for sequels and prequels which for me does not make a film work. This one works as is and I sort of wish as I do with Star Wars, they would never have made a prequel or sequel. …

Still Waiting for First Reformed and Some of My Predictions

If you are a fundamentalist Christian who puts the Bible before humanitarianism and reason, you may be offended by my article below. You’ve been warned. That’s not to say it will offend all Christians. I am a person raised Christian but somewhat dissatisfied with the current state of it in my country. It still lives in my heart.

I’ve been really interested in this movie, it sounds like a challenge against modern Christianity. Challenge breaks up the soil and either kill the weak crop or make it stronger through reform. Most Christians making headlines and faith-based social media statements fear challenge. I say: you’re killing people and even worse, people’s inspiration to live, be challenged.

I still haven’t seen the film but it sounds like a story of a weak preacher played by Ethan Hawke who is a small part of a large mega-church machine. When people really need help, he is like “I got nothing.” Amanda Seyfried is part of his choir and her husband wants her to get an abortion because the world is doomed and they shouldn’t bring a baby into it. There are some explosive moments and religion is challenged. The director Paul Schrader is legendary for a 40 year career in writing and directing films. He wrote the script and story for Taxi Driver in the 70’s.

This is the first preview I’ve written in quite sometime. I feel our world needs a “come to the table of sanity” rebuke film towards Christianity. Some of these Christian films that have come out like “God is Not Dead 2” are borderline embarrassing to our human race. I don’t think this mass of Chrstians running around blessing each others’ day are healthy for the world. Things could change of course, when free thought outweighs the dusty black book.

The best rule is to expect nothing, some of my favorite movies were seen that way. When it does come out you can expect to see my review right here at “Riley on Film.”

21 Grams

No, this film isn’t about drugs as the title hints. It’s a people study. In this heroic film by Alejandro G. Iñárritu, a handful of characters are under the microscope for us to try to analyze. Their lives intersect in odd ways but that really isn’t the amazing thing to watch for. It’s their drives and why they do things that should captivate the viewer. I know it did that for me.

21 Grams (2003)
R | 2h 4min | Crime, Drama, Thriller | 16 January 2004 (USA)

A freak accident brings together a critically ill mathematician, a grieving mother, and a born-again ex-con.
Director: Alejandro G. Iñárritu (as Alejandro González Iñárritu)
Writer: Guillermo Arriaga
Stars: Sean Penn, Benicio Del Toro, Naomi Watts

Sean Penn, Benicio Del Toro, & Naomi Watts are the top stars in this dramatic film about what drives people. The writer Guillermo Arriaga has done a fantastic job giving us a dollhouse type view of these normal people engaged in their lives. I first became interested in the director when I saw “Birdman,” another film that puts regular people right up to the screen larger than life. In watching what they do, we can quietly and privately look at ourselves. These films cause us to question our motives.He is an excellent director but I find some of his formulaic conventions unnecessary to make us introspective.

If you like deeply portrayed characters, look no further. I greatly enjoyed this film but personally didn’t need all the “coincidences” to make it powerful for me. I give this film an 8/10.

Secret in Their Eyes

“Jess: Life Sentence Ray Kasten: For you as well.” When you catch murderers for a living, it must bite that much harder when they murder your child. When you know the wheels of justice grind slowly, it must be hard not to take the law into your own hands. Secret in Their Eyes (2015) Cast … Continue reading

Jess: Life Sentence
Ray Kasten: For you as well.”

When you catch murderers for a living, it must bite that much harder when they murder your child. When you know the wheels of justice grind slowly, it must be hard not to take the law into your own hands.

Secret in Their Eyes (2015)
Cast
Chiwetel Ejiofor

as Ray Kasten

Nicole Kidman

as Claire Sloane

Julia Roberts

as Jessica Cobb

Directed by
Billy Ray
Written by
Billy Ray, Juan Jose Campanella
Other Info

Mystery, Thriller, Crime
Rated PG-13
1h 11min

Secret in their Eyes is a mystery thriller that started advertising far before it was released. The Julia Roberts factor was likely the reason there. Her movies almost always draw in the minions but sometimes they do fail to convince them. I wonder if her being listed at #3 on the IMDB cast page has to do with that. In the days of “Erin Brokovich,” “Pretty Woman,” et. al. the list goes on, she would likely have appeared first. Now, the two above her are a much hotter commodity.

It’s a great thriller! I don’t understand exactly why the critics have been so hard on it. It has a strong backbone of a story that was adapted from a 2009 Argentine film, “The Secret in Their Eyes.” That film won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film at the 82nd Academy Awards. As I watched this film I felt empathy, revulsion, anger, and so much more. I felt I was among the characters, not just in the audience. I think it’s a universal theme of revenge.

There’s a twist at the end some may not see coming. The movie is made very well but it was a little predictable for me. Some viewers will enjoy the thriller aspect of this film as it unfolds while others will find the locations limiting and the events unbelievable. Takes on face value, this is an excellent thriller. I definitely enjoy watching it to the credits even though there were times I could clearly see what was going to happen next. After all, Jess Cobb’s daughter is brutally murdered and she becomes a basket case. I knew for sure some sort of retribution would happen, and it does. The manner and details of that retribution are what they hope you’ll go to see after the trailer. It’s a very cool thing, I recommend it!

‘Star Trek: Beyond’ – Don’t Blink on This Ride

startrekbeyond-poster

Starring: Chris Pine, Zoe Saldana, Anton Yelchin, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, John Cho

Genres: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi, Thriller

Directed By: Justin Lin

Studio: Paramount Pictures

MPAA Rating
PG-13

I saw Star Trek: Beyond last night on its second night after release. When I see Star Trek films, I usually miss some secret winks because I am not much of a “Trekkie” and therefore don’t know the labyrinth of secret passageways that many others I meet new. In fact, my wife, who is not a film critic, explains a lot to me when we go to see these films. Last night had a few parts I couldn’t figure out but I’ll avoid those.

Instead, I’ll tell you that Captain Kirk is put in a position to save the galaxy (common theme). The adventurous quest to do that is a rip-roaring ride! Directed by Justin Lin (Fast and the Furious), the spaceships are now the race cars. There is a lot of action in this film but I must disagree with some other critics who are saying it’s too fast and furious. There are moments of suspense as well and moments where the viewers is ban rest, stop, and get cerebral..

The visuals are stunning. Because this is a quick review intended to have “no spoilers,” I won’t describe them to you. I will say that in 1977 when Harrison Ford, Alec Guinness, and Mark Hamill saw the death star for the first time, it had a mind-blowing effect on movie goers. There is actually some stuff in this film that will leave you in “shock and awe” in a similar way. Please note however that the plot is pretty good and special effects are secondary to that, which always makes me happy.

There is so much in this film worthy of the ticket price. There is a side story Spock is dealing with, sense that virtually fill the movie with the now departed Anton Yelchin, a Smokin’ hot Zoe Zaldana, a vaguely funny Simon Pegg (but funny all the same.) I had a blast watching this film. I anticipate Trekkies will like the new villain Krall (Idris Elba). He’s a tortured creature with a lot of hate for the federation which makes for some really juicy fight scenes. I did have some issues with the film. Instead of developing the villain they sort of catapulted him into hate mode. I wanted to know more about him and why he became who he was. It was explained a little in a very rushed fashion in the last 1/4 of the film but I think doing that earlier would have invested me more in his character. For the haziness of the villain, I took one star away. This is an amazing film, I highly recommend it.

‘Good Kill’

Ethan Hawke gives an amazing performance of grounded pilot trapped in a box, unable to escape his fate.

*This review contains spoilers.

This thriller moves a bit slow but builds the suspense until you get the point like a tidal wave: War is hell whether “in theater” or via joystick.

Good_Kill_poster

Good Kill (2014)
Cast

Ethan Hawke, January Jones, Zoë Kravitz

Directed by

Andrew Niccol

Written by

Andrew Niccol

Other Info

R
1h 42min
Drama, Thriller

Writer/Director Andrew Niccol has an impressive resume: 2014 Good Kill, 1998 The Truman Show, 1997 Gattaca, and more. Good Kill is just the latest impressive project he’s done. It deals with the individual conscience amidst a system that goes against it.

Major Thomas Egan, Ethan Hawke, is a grounded pilot. He has become part of a secretive force that controls drones in Afghanistan by controls resembling that of an XBox. He is stationed in Las Vegas and goes to kill every day in a portable room of sorts where the remote equipment is kept. There are many rooms like this. In fact, Egan is not alone in his daily kills. He has a team with him.

In charge of Egan’s team is Lt. Colonel Jack Johns (Bruce Greenwood). Being a huge fan of his, I was glad to see him in this role. I liked the character because he wore his heart on his sleeve. He shared his difficulties with the drone kills they were doing. Still, he never breached his orders and did what he was told from his commander.

Egan starts regretting what he has to do every day. He begs the Colonel to put him back in the plane but that seems like it will never happen. Egan starts seeing rape and murder happening and he is told to stick to the orders. He is told the rapist “is a bad man but not their bad man.” He is ordered to let him be.

Events like this and others like collateral damage he witnesses cause profound strain on Egan. He starts drinking and neglecting his wife and kids. From there we starts to see him crumble and we learn through his story what this sort of remote warfare can do to an individual.

This film is done very well. The obvious comparisons to XBox games like Call of Duty are there but it’s more about real war I think. How many of theirs do we have to kill until they stop killing us? Is this sort of warfare that is going on now in real life actually protecting us from terrorism? So many questions like these are raised in this film. I would have liked it if they gave more background on his type of warfare and showed the connection to video games. It was alluded to that there is a connection but seeing that as part of the story would have sent a stronger message to the young men and women out there who get vehemently into these games. Because that connection was not explored much, it lost a star for me. I still think this is one of the better films of 2014, I recommend it.