Movie Of The Week

Mortdecai is Johnny Depp's latest endeavor as a strangely odd art dealer working with Mi5 to locate a stolen painting and to uncover clues to a lost vault of Nazi gold.  Starring Gwyneth Paltrow, Paul Bettany, and Ewan McGregor.

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  • Blackhat is the latest thriller to come from director Michael Mann, who is known for creating very realistic, but dry movies.  On the other hand, Mann has been known for getting very gritty and passionate performances from some of Hollywood’s best and brightest.  Recently we can look to Johnny Depp in the biopic crime thriller Public Enemies, Tom Cruise’s villainous portrayal with Jamie Foxx’s Oscar nominated performance in Collateral, and Will Smith’s outstanding Oscar nominated capturing of the heavy weight champion of the world in Ali to know that Mann does the best with what he has in production.  But, Blackhat is just another crime thriller from Mann to go right along with 2006’s Miami Vice and 1995’s Heat.  Mann gets another excellent cast this time around and gets great performances from each of them.  Our #1 hacker currently residing in prison is Nick Hathaway, brought to life by Chris Hemsworth (Thor, Rush, and Snow White and the Huntsman); FBI special agent Carol Burnett, cast to the amazing Viola Davis (the TV series How to Get Away with Murder, Ender’s Game, and Prisoners); and computer engineer trying to help out her Chinese military brother, Chen Lien, coded beautifully by Wei Tang (The Golden Era, Dragon, and Man-choo).

  • American Sniper is Clint Eastwood’s new war biopic about American U.S. Navy Seal sniper Chris Kyle.  The movie itself is based on the book American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History by Chris Kyle, Scott McEwen, and Jim DeFelice published in 2012.  Chris was born in Odessa, Texas; and like so many of us from the state, we were raised in outdoor activities like hunting, fishing, and camping, as well as being brought up in a God fearing society centered around going to church and being a part of the local community.  As portrayed in the film, Chris’ father was a bit stricter than most, punishing his sons with his belt, and he had an Old Testament sense of morality.  In an early scene of the film, Chris’ younger brother Jeff is being beaten up on a school playground, when Chris swiftly intervenes and continues to strike the other boy in his bloody face until the camera pans away.  This puts Chris and Jeff at the dinner table with their mother and hard-nosed father.  Chris’ dad begins to impart some life lessons on his two sons.  “There are three kinds of people in the world: sheep, wolves, and sheepdogs… And I ain’t raising no sheep and I will [punish] you if you become a wolf.”  Later on in the conversation, he looks at Chris after the boys defend their actions, and admonishes, “I guess you figured out your purpose.”  This seems like the perfect point at which Chris would have decided to join the military, but it was not.  As a young man, Chris, portrayed by Bradley Cooper (American Hustle, The Hangover, and Silver Linings Playbook), became a professional rodeo star, traveling all over the region competing for buckles, status, and prize money.  The movie shows Chris becoming disinterested with the rodeo lifestyle and being awestruck by a military bombing against the U.S. and foreign citizens.  This inspires Chris at age 30 to sign up for the U.S. Navy Seal program.

  • Taken 3 is supposedly writer slash producer Luc Besson’s final chapter in the highly successful movie franchise.  The only problem with that is whether or not Luc ended the series the way he promised.  Luc is best known as the creator of The Fifth Element, Leon: the Professional, and the movie slash television franchises of La Femme Nikita and The Transporter.  So maybe Luc just doesn't have the time to wrap up Taken the way it should have been done?  Taken 3 is definitely more story based than either of the first two movies before it and down plays the long extended action scenes for much more concise and effective versions.  But is there something more?  Taken 3 has much more in common with the movie The Fugitive than it does with it's two predecessors after all.  Bryan Mills, reprised by Liam Neeson (A Walk Among the Tombstones, A Million Ways to Die in the West, and Non-Stop), walks down to the corner café to get some bagels for he and his ex-wife Lenore, recast to Famke Janssen (the TV series Hemlock Grove, The Wolverine, and Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters), but then he returns home to find her murdered in his bed with her throat slashed.  Coincidentally the police are already on the scene due to an anonymous caller who heard a woman screaming.  Sure they did.  From this point forward Bryan is on the run trying to solve a murder with a series of clues and leaving behind breadcrumbs for the police to find along the way to prove his innocence.  Does this sound like Taken or Taken 2 to you?  I think not.