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Review The Gauntlet (1977): Almost a parody!

genre: action, crime, thriller

Clint Eastwood is Ben Shockly, an average cop who gets assigned to escort a witness to court. Seeing as an opportunity to give his career a boost he takes on the job. Not that he has that much of a choice since he is no good alcoholic. However very soon he discovers not all is what his seems and realizes he is in quite the predicament.

The plot is very simple. However it is quite ridiculous. Especially in the way force is used by the police. Apparently none of the officers question the legitimacy of the orders they have been given. So when the higher ups say they should shoot and not even try apprehending the suspects (in this case Ben and Gus Malley played by Sondra Locke) they just do so. If they only had done it once they could have made a case for themselves by saying they got a little carried away. But two or three times? And then the ending. Don't worry not going to spoil it. But it's completely ludicrous. What's even more unbelievable is that Clint himself directed this film. It could be that this was just made to have the two lovebirds star together. Why though? Couldn't they have found other hobbies? 

In any case I really wanted to like and appreciate this film but there is not that much to get too excited about. I must admit that I do remember always being impressed with the shootout in the finale. But in my defense I never had seen the whole film. The biggest flaw is that there is no tension. If Ben truly was in dire straits from the starts and every second could be his last then yes I think this film could have worked. But unloading a million bullets without actually hurting or killing someone is not exactly exciting. Granted the plot itself did lend itself for some seventies paranoia. Who can Ben trust?  Is he truly on his own? Can he rely on Gus? Unfortunately. No real attempt is made to surprise you. 

Overall The Gauntlet is a big letdown. It's basically a chase movie without thrills and tension. One of the worst films Clint Eastwood has made. To make a comparison. The Rookie for example also is flawed but a much more enjoyable film. Better watch that one instead! 

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Filmography Clint Eastwood

Listed here are all the titles Clint Eastwood was involved in as an actor, director and producer. You can understand that with this many titles it takes some time to write reviews for them all. So do consider this a work in progress.

Tarantula  (1955)
Lady Godiva  (1955)
Francis in the Navy  (1955)
Revenge of the Creature  (1955)
The First Traveling Saleslady  (1956)
Away All Boats  (1956)
Star in the Dust  (1956)
Never Say Goodbye  (1956)
Escapade in Japan  (1957)
Ambush at Cimarron Pass  (1958)
Lafayette Escadrille  (1958)
A Fistful of Dollars  (1964)
For a Few Dollars More  (1965)
The Witches  (1966)
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly  (1966)
Coogan's Bluff  (1968)
Hang 'em High  (1968)
Paint Your Wagon  (1969)
Where Eagles Dare  (1969)
Two Mules for Sister Sara  (1970)
Kelly's Heroes  (1970)
Dirty Harry  (1971)
Play Misty for Me  (1971)
The Beguiled  (1971)
Joe Kidd  (1972)
Magnum Force  (1973)
Breezy  (1973)
High Plains Drifter  (1973)
Thunderbolt and Lightfoot  (1974)
The Eiger Sanction  (1975)
The Enforcer  (1976)
The Outlaw Josey Wales  (1976)
The Gauntlet  (1977)
Every Which Way But Loose  (1978)
Escape from Alcatraz  (1979)
Any Which Way You Can  (1980)
Bronco Billy  (1980)
Honkytonk Man  (1982)
Firefox  (1982)
Sudden Impact  (1983)
Tightrope  (1984)
City Heat  (1984)
Pale Rider  (1985)
The 15:17 to Paris  (2018)
Heartbreak Ridge  (1986)
Bird  (1988)
The Dead Pool  (1988)
Pink Cadillac  (1989)
White Hunter, Black Heart  (1990)
Unforgiven  (1992)
A Perfect World  (1993)
In the Line of Fire  (1993)
The Bridges of Madison County  (1995)
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil  (1997)
Absolute Power  (1997)
True Crime  (1999)
Space Cowboys  (2000)
Blood Work  (2002)
Mystic River  (2003)
Million Dollar Baby  (2004)
Letters from Iwo Jima  (2006)
Flags of Our Fathers  (2006)
Gran Torino  (2008)
Changeling  (2008)
Dave Brubeck: In His Own Sweet Way  (2010)
Hereafter  (2010)
Jersey Boys  (2014)
Sully  (2016)
The Mule  (2018)

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Review The Rookie (1990): Immensely flawed but fun buddy cop movie!

genre: action, crime, comedy

The Rookie is one of my Clint Eastwood favourites. As in I revisit this quite often from time to time. I wouldn't classify this as a classic since the pacing at times is problematic. However there are some elements to it that do make it worth your while.

The Rookie is about Nick Pulovski (played by Clint Eastwood) who gets teamed up with a young cop named David Ackerman played by Charlie Sheen. Nick is not really that happy with it since he is in the middle of a case that requires his full attention and has no time to babysit the rookie. Rookie cop David seems to be quite green but he is very adamant to prove himself. The big case involves Raul Julia and Sônia Braga as the villains. They both are just wacky enough to make them compelling. However in hindsight they easily could have been played by other actors and it would not have made much of a difference. The real draw are the dynamics between Clint and Charlie. It is real fun to watch Charlie's character grow in to a fully fledged hard boiled cop who deserves everyone's respect. 

That being said I do think they dropped the ball on deepening the characters. They just barely have character flaws. I mean Clint Eastwood basically plays the same type of cop he always has been playing. Although there is one gimmick that makes is very lovable. Every time he tries to smoke a cigarette he never can find someone or something to light his cigarette. You can't help but feel sorry for him since he often is found in very stressful situations. They did a slightly better job with Charlie Sheen's character. Still it would have been nice had he been a little more stuck up, flawed and being a major pain the ass. 

Action wise The Rookie is very enjoyable but don't expect any real surprises. Like I said the pacing is problematic in times. With that I mean there are some moments where the film slows down a little too much. These slower scenes needed either more action or substance. Overall though The Rookie is a lot of fun to watch from start to end. 

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Review Jay and Silent Bob Reboot (2019): Kevin Smith doesn't know how to make movies anymore!

genre: comedy

There was a time Kevin Smith made good movies. Or at least films that were genuine and funny. Unfortunately he doesn't seem to care anymore!

Some reviewers said that Jay and Silent Bob Reboot was what Avengers: Endgame was for the Avengers. Or that this was Kevin's Smith best film till date. Honestly those statements are incredibly shocking as this film is easily one of the the worst films ever made. It tries real hard to be witty and kind of revisit the older films Kevin Smith has made. Only it's done so lazily I can't even fathom why some of the famous names bothered. Kevin Smith himself admitted he used his heart attack to guilt trip  most of them. Normally that would be funny but in hindsight it might actually be true. I can't imagine any other reason why anyone would want to be part of this project. 

So what exactly is the problem? Well, the premise itself was one of promise. Jay and Silent Bob would go on the road again and would meet up with older friends. Hell, I would not have minded had Kevin Smith reused scenes from older films and add a twist to them. But of course that actually would have required some effort. Instead we just get scenes with the older friends have a dialogue with Jay and Silent Bob where they are reminiscing about older times. Now this could have worked had those scenes be funny. And this is what disappointed me the most. Apart from a few scenes this film didn't deliver the laughs. Sure there are one or two scenes that did feel genuine and were full of heart. But do those scenes make it worth to sit through it all? Not by a long shot!

The last Kevin Smith film I had seen was Yoga Hosers. And I thought that was the worst film he had made. I was wrong. This last one easily is even worse. So avoid at all costs. It's going to be a major waste of time.

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Review Black and Blue (2019): A decent watch!

genre: action, crime, drama

Black and Blue is one of those films you know is trying to say something. However while the intentions are good it oversimplifies things to such a degree that it detracts from the viewing experience.

Not that it's bad. It's a pretty decent watch. But it never leads to uncharted territories. It's far too safe and unrealistic to be taken seriously. And I really wanted to be overwhelmed by the dark truth. Except this film only scratches the surface. Biggest fault of this film it's one cliche after another. Right from the start you will be able to predict what is going to happen and why. It completely breaks the tension and suspense. The only reason I was still invested was because of the characters and their interaction with each other. Naomie Harris did a real good job of carrying the film on her shoulders. Tyrese Gibson started out a little bad and grew on me. Still I have seen him do better. So not sure what was going on with him. Perhaps still a little mad about The Rock venturing into his own side show called Hobbs and Shaw. Frank Grillo at this point should really stop taking these parts. The second you see him you know he is the bad guy. They could have played around with this typecast and have him be the exact opposite. Other than the predicament of the main character there is nothing else going on of note. No sense or depiction of the world. It is assumed that you know the world. But if that world is full of stereotypes and not show what it really is like how do you want me to root for you and your message? 

As a political statement Black and Blue just doesn't cut it. For that to work it needed deeper characterization, a deeper story and more heart. This is just a by the numbers crime film where the main character is a black woman. While she did a good job it's nothing special!

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Review The Room (2019): I did not hit her...oops wrong movie!

genre: mystery, drama, horror

Sorry for my joke. I could not resist. Although to be fair. Had Tommy Wiseau been involved with this project we definitely would have had a classic on our hands.

You might have guessed that The Room has noting to do with Wiseau's masterpiece. And no The Room is not a million in a dime haunted house story. On the one hand that is a shame because I personally like those types of horror films. On the other hand this film does something quite original and within that concept does create terror and horror. In hindsight though it could and should have been far creepier and scarier. So what is this about? In short, a couple move to a new house where a mysterious room is present. One day Matt (Kevin Janssens) is in the room where he wishes for a new bottle of whiskey. This new bottle arrives. Thinking this might be a figment of his imagination he wishes for another bottle. He then realizes that the room is capable of materializing whatever he wishes for. There doesn't seem to be a limit. Or is there? When he tells Kate (Olga Kurylenko) about it they go crazy and have fun with wishing for whatever they want. But of course there is a catch. What that catch is I won't reveal. 

Now I for one would might have done the same and wish for stuff. I mean who wouldn't? However I would wonder where it would come from and how it could be possible? You can bet I would research the hell out of the history of the house and it's occupants. What if the devil was involved? Or some other evil being seducing you to then claim your soul or worse. Kate and Matt aren't really that concerned. Especially Kate takes it to a level that definitely would make me question her sanity. I loved Matt's reaction to her action since it is one that is very outrageous. It's also at this point where the film deals with the issues created by her. Not that Matt is entirely in the clear since he already figured out earlier that something is not quite right. He only tells Kate when she is about to find out about it herself. 

As I said the film has a very interesting concept. And it has a lot of potential for some real horror goodness. Unfortunately The Room gets stuck with one plot line I myself didn't really found that compelling. It could have been had they fleshed it out more. It is asked of you to not be super critical and just go with it even when the film could have been absolutely terrifying had it at least explored where this room came from or who had built it. I also found it troubling that the couple barely communicated with each other about real important decisions. As someone who is very impulsive I certainly wouldn't mess with things I didn't understand. I would make sure that my partner and I would have talked it through completely. In that regard I found the actions and reactions of these people to be a little too convenient. For every action there is a consequence and a price. You have to be really prepared to deal with that.

In any case this film on premise alone will be quite compelling and entertaining. Even if it is a bit slow and too outrageous without actually offering that horror goodness I was craving for.

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Review Don't Let Go (2019): Has dramatic merit!

genre: drama, mystery, horror

If you have seen the trailer you might get the impression that Don't Let Go is a horror. While some of the events sure can be defined as one I can assure you that this is more a drama with a twist!

The twist is obvious since it was already revealed in the film. And it's not even a new twist since some years ago a film named Frequency had the same concept. In essence Don't Let Go is a whodunnit except it's not really that concerned with who but more with the act that is committed. And the impact of that act. To me this is really sold well by David Oyelowo and Storm Reid. Especially in one scene the dramatic impact is huge and intense. That alone was enough for me to be sold on the concept. It was simple but effective. You root for these characters from start to finish. Everything else didn't matter.

Now of course I wanted to be the mystery more compelling or creepy. And they easily could have steered it that way. But without hurting the emotional component? That would be hard to accomplish. Although it has been done before by Peter Jackson in The Frighteners which also added comedy into the mix. So yes Don't Let Go certainly is flawed and perhaps a little light. Still it has heart. Sometimes that is all you need. 

I myself can recommend this, however I am very aware that Don't Let Go very likely won't meet expectations. Especially since it's not really the film that is advertised in the trailer. But does that mean it's bad and not worth your time? No, this film certainly has some merit. Mind you, it's incredibly basic but it's enough.

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Review Shock wave a.k.a. Chai dan zhuan jia (2017): Gripping action drama!

genre: action, thriller, drama

Shock wave is being called an old school action film. If by that they mean it's good then I agree wholeheartedly. But I think it's more than just a simple action film.

It certainly hit the right notes with me drama wise. In another review I read that someone said that the deaths of certain characters didn't affect the reviewer. I couldn't disagree more. It is true that there are quite a few characters of significance and that not all them get real time to have long arcs. However I think director Herman Yau managed to make you sympathize with these characters through simple but effective ways. And honestly if you aren't affected by some of the deaths of these characters you basically are a sociopath. The main villain and his gang definitely are among the most ruthless and despicable ones put on the film screen ever. Most of the acting is superb. Do I really need to state yet again how good Andy Lau is? Jiang Wu also impresses as the main villain. Mainly because he never is over the top or ridiculous. I mean the events certainly are but despite this he is very believable as a bad guy with a major grudge. Philip Keung also is incredibly likable and charming as the super cop. The one person who I found bothersome was the love interest, Song Jia as Carmen. I get that they wanted to deepen Cheung J.S. (Andy Lau) as a character but it didn't do that much for me. There is no real chemistry between her and Andy. Andy does his best to sell it but she constantly looks like either a reindeer who is about to be shot or someone who is bored. I personally could have done with this romantic sub plot. 

What really surprised me was the scale of this film. The set up of the main event and the aftermath is incredibly epic. The action is hard hitting and relentless. The way the film is paced also adds to the tension. There are times when you think the film slows down somewhat. To then suddenly ramp up the action and drama to such extent that you will need some time to recover from it all. 

Shock Wave is a must watch for sure. And I definitely am looking out for the sequel.

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Review Line of Duty (2019): Roller coaster ride of action and thrills!

genre: action, thriller, crime

Honestly I was expecting the worst. But had faith that Aaron Eckhart still would make it interesting. To my surprise though it was far better than anticipated and yes if this doesn't confirm that Eckhart  deserves a better career then I don't know what will. 

He alone elevates this B film into something more. That and the (tight but flawed) direction by Steven C. Miller. However there is one thing you have to keep in mind. Most of the events are a bit unrealistic and unbelievable. While in the moment it provides hard boiled action it also makes you realize it's a bit far fetched. The way I see it this is all done to keep the thrill ride going. And as far as I am concerned I was game all the way. Especially since it was pure fun to watch Aaron kick ass. or get his ass beaten. At first I had some trouble with his side kick Ava Brooks played by Courtney Eaton since she clearly represents a generation I have very little to no connection with. But then I and Aaron's character Frank Penny warmed up to her. She earned our respect. 

Then there are the villains. The Keller Brothers. One of them played by Ben McKenzie. These brothers are a bit much. They are like super men who seem invulnerable. You really have to go with it since while ridiculous does help make events super exciting. Now Ben's character is a little underdeveloped at first but did get moments to show there was another side to him. Although very briefly. It's something I appreciate since it made him more human. And he clearly was having fun to play a villain instead of cop like he usually does (Gotham, Southland).

I read somewhere that you need to shut of your brain in order to enjoy this. Perhaps to an extent that is true. However I was so drawn into the events I just went with whatever was presented to us because of how Aaron and Courtney were acting. They make you root for them. Even the obvious political messages didn't annoy me. 

From start to finish this is a real blast to watch. 

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Review Heist (2001): What is up with the dialogue?

genre: crime, heist, thriller

Strangely enough I couldn't remember that much about Heist except for the fact that I had seen it but did not write a review for it. After having watched it again I think I know why.

If you haven't seen too many heist films then maybe you will get a kick out of this film. Granted even knowing it's ending it will make you chuckle. People who have seen David Mamet films before will get an idea what is coming to and perhaps therefore might be better equipped to enjoy it more. Still the one thing that bugged me the most was the weird dialogue. Almost everybody who has reviewed or critiqued David Mamet films is praising him for his wonderful dialogue. And I just don't get. Sure some of the lines will stick with you especially if they are delivered well. However that doesn't automatically mean the whole language is good or fun. I for one got real annoyed by the way they talked. Why? Because no one talks like that. Ever! It feels like these people are in a different world or dream than ours where they spout out one liner after one liner. That would be fine if it helped you connect with these characters. But I would say it does the exact opposite. No one is likable. Not a single person. The only reason you are rooting for  characters like the one played by Gene Hackman is because of Gene Hackman. He is such a damn good actor that he is able to transcend the ridiculous dialogue with non verbal communication and his verbal delivery. You might not quite understand what is being said exactly but you will know what is meant or intended by the way he speaks. 

Therefore in my opinion it's not David Mamet who is deserving of praise but Gene Hackman and Delroy Lindo. The story also wriiten by David Mamet is quite lazy. Already from the start when you see how the characters interact with each other you will know what they are about. There is no real surprise here. I fail to understand why Mamet and many of his fans think it's compelling. If a character acts in a way that is out of character then that would be very interesting. If everyone acts the way they are supposed to that simply sucks out the joy and fun of the viewing experience. 

As heist movies go it's not bad. For fans of the genre this will be a very predictable affair even it's presented in a convoluted way. Much Ado About Nothing!

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