Movie Reviews 2023


Dream Scenario (R) 

Nicolas Cage plays a mild mannered, college tenured professor. He’s a husband and father of two teenage girls. An everyday man. Nothing special. Then suddenly, for whatever reason people around the world suddenly start seeing him appear in their dreams.

It’s an interesting idea for a story. How many ways could you explore such a scenario, for better or worse, for both the dreamers and the real person featured in such dreams? The strangest thing about the movie is that it’s billed as a comedy. Perhaps a black comedy (dark), but you’re not going to be laughing out loud much. Think of it as a drama and you’ll be more prepared. The Godfather had funny parts to it but it wasn’t billed as a comedy. Hollywood has totally lost its compass.

This is a rather deep psychological movie that eventually covers today’s world of oversensitive Americans to a tee, as well as covering the sad state of affairs in American universities today where even tenured professors have their careers and lives ruined for the slightest controversy. But that’s toward the last third of the movie. A lot going on before that. A lot of food for thought.

The ending could have been 15 minutes shorter. I could explain why but it gives too much info about the outcome. The less you know going in, the better.

Whether or not you’re a Nicholas Cage fan, I think it’s a theater-worthy movie. But it would make a terrific rental too once it hits streaming.
– See it on the Big Screen


Angel Baby (NR) 

The lead actresses (Isabel Cueva) is trying to be an actress, producer, and director in her various real life projects. It would seem she’s struggling to figure out each discipline, though in her defense she did get this turkey made so maybe she has the role of Producer figured out.

Angel Baby starts out with a shocking murder (not graphically but how it comes about). Then it’s a paint by the numbers movie by a first time director (Douglas Tait) where a couple relocates to a rural area to get their life back on track after a painfully tragic miscarriage of their twins. Right after moving in they start to hear and see strange things in the old house.

The acting is substandard throughout. In one unintentionally funny scene the husband lifts his Oprah-sized wife (Isabel Cueva) to walk across the front porch as if she’s a new bride to bring her into their new house “properly” only to have to put her down to unlock the door so they can both walk in without carrying her big ass body over that threshold. What was the point of lifting her at all? An on-set bet on whether the actor could actually lift her? Hilarious. None of the unknown actors shine in any of their scenes.

While sitting at the bar, one of the male characters states that she’s “The prettiest woman I’ve ever seen.” Wow. The very definition of beer goggles.  

Rebecca De Mornay (Risky Business, The Hand That Rocks the Cradle) is listed as a major credit but is only given two brief scenes toward the end of the film as a bar owner/bartender. She’s a seasoned actress but with only 5 minutes total of screen time (seriously, 5 minutes!) there’s only so much she can add to this pitiful mess. The only reason I gave this movie a chance at all is because I haven’t seen Rebecca De Mornay in anything new for 100 years.

As far as the main couple, how many days would you wait after buying a home before you looked through the trunks and belongings that the previous owner left behind in the attic? Days? Not likely. 

The husband sees a rocking chair in that attic that rocks all by itself, and he simply decides not to pay any attention to it. Okay, sure. What planet is this?

The many jump scares that all lead to nothing are B level too. Some of them, like a book scooting off a table to the floor all by itself are something kids were filming with some thread and a Super 8 movie camera/early video camera in the 70’s and 80’s. The budget for this stinker must have been in the low thousands.

The ending does offer a ghostly vibe, but the slog to get there is just too painful. Of course we also get a queer black male nurse at the ending scene to check a couple necessary boxes to get this film released in 2023. He’s there to chastise a white policeman for daring to ask the sole survivor relevant questions about the crime scene.

If this were offered up as free content on the USA Network or the Lifetime Channel, sure. You can’t beat free. But this one’s not with a penny otherwise. In the meantime I guess I’m going to have to rent Risky Business again.
– AVOID!


Condition of Return (NR) 

A woman walks into her neighborhood church during Easter service, pulls out an automatic rifle, shoots the priest dead, then starts shooting as many familiar people as she can in the church pews.

The prosecutor doesn’t care why she did it. He just wants to fry her as quickly as possible, even though that doesn’t happen in real life. It takes many years to execute criminals, after their trial and appeals are exhausted.

Before even a trial can take place there needs to be a doctor’s assessment on whether or not she’s fit for trial. Here, the doctor is the only one that’s ready to sit down and patiently listen to her as she tries to explain why she did it. She sure has a lot of baggage in her life. We soon learn the doctor’s got baggage of his own, but the bottom line is that the doctor really does want to know what motivated her to shoot up a church filled with people she knew.

You’ll want to know why too.

It helps that she’s a pretty compelling storyteller and with the music held to a minimum, the interrogation scenes seem even more real. A good chunk of the story is shot in a single interrogation room so prepare for limited action scenes. At times I was worried I was tricked into watching a skillfully cloaked faith-based film, but that’s not the case.

It’s merely a quirky movie that leaves you wondering where the hell it’s going. At the three-quarter mark I was like, “Oh no, this scene makes no sense. What’s going on?” To the point I almost wanted to give up on it.

Then in the last quarter you’re really thrown for a loop, which explains the previous nonsensical part, and it’s a whopper of an idea. Turns out there’s a lot more going on here than meets the eye. 

So, in the end the script saves itself. There are so many layers to this story that you should refrain from watching any trailers or reading any “other” reviews before watching.

This one went straight to video.
– Wait for Rental


Taylor Swift Eras Tour (PG-13)

Even if you’re not a Swiftie, her songs are plenty catchy and you get to see what all the fuss is about with this “Eras” tour. If you only know three or four Taylor Swift songs, don’t let that stop you from a viewing. She doesn’t perform any songs that “suck.” Hard to say that about many current artists today.  

It is a long film. 2hr 44min. Shorter than the actual concerts, but you can stand up and stretch your legs during a real concert.

This tour is a big production with a lot of dancers and backup singers. I’d bet my bottom dollar that Taylor Swift watched a few (or a dozen) of the Japanese pop mega-star Ayumi Hamasaki concert videos (20 years of them are available) as a guide for this tour. Ayumi Hamasaki could give a masterclass on how to performing a 3-hour show as a solo female singer on stage. Unlikely it was an accident that this Taylor Swift show is so darn similar. Some of the dance choreography is so close as to be a direct ripoff of what Hamasaki was doing with her dancers and backup singers going back over a decade. Some of the performance routines are basically carbon copies, one using old timey chairs as props for Swift and her dancers. No way it’s just happenstance. 

But most people have never heard of, much less seen anything by Ayumi Hamasaki outside of Asia, so it’s first time visuals for American audiences. But if Taylor Swift tours Asia, the obvious similarities will surely be noticed by everyone in the audience. 

Swift uses dancers/singers of all shapes, sizes and colors. Even plus-sized dancers so as to alleviate any complaints about inclusion/representation. You’ve probably heard about and even seen the short shot of Swift diving into a hole in the stage (as if it’s water) then “swimming” down under the long catwalk back to the stage. I was looking forward to that scene. Regardless of the image you have in your head, it’s mighty anti-climactic in this film. Maybe you have to be there to really enjoy it.

If you’re a musician, you might be disappointed by how much Swift keeps her extensive band hidden behind the scenes for most of the show. Perhaps her particular fan base doesn’t really care about the musicians working their craft for 3 hours a night. Swift does play acoustic guitar and grand piano for a number of songs, basically just strumming on her guitar and pounding out a couple simple tunes (right-left, right-left, right-left) on piano like a teenager might for friends in the basement. She’s not gifted on either instrument by a long shot. But then Michael Jackson never learned to play any musical instrument over his 45-year career so she’s earned some bonus points there. 

This concert film was shot over multiple nights and edited together, so eagle-eyed viewers will catch the continuity errors that always crop up when a movie is assembled over multiple shows where humans make different physical moves from night to night, including Swift. As the cameras switch angles, you can see discrepancies from what you were just seeing.

I would even go on to say that many of the close-up shots were filmed in the darkened arena without an audience present. Throughout the show, the audience is using their lit cellphones and colored lit wristbands to light up the arena stands, but some of the close-up shots suddenly show inky darkness in the background. It would make sense to record the close-up shots without an audience because it’s disruptive for the paying crowd to have a cameraman running around on stage doing close-up of the star during an actual performance. U2 did the same thing (empty stadium close-up shots) for their IMAX concert film during their 2006 tour. 

I’ve seen a hundred concerts over my lifetime and most build to a crescendo at the end, often to the point of inducing goosebumps. Not here. I’m no aficionado of her music, so perhaps Taylor Swift doesn’t have any songs that can build up to a rousing conclusion. But I would call that a missed opportunity and it gives her something else to work on going forward to improve her show.

If you’re a fan and you didn’t snag tickets to the live show, this would be right up your alley. As a casual onlooker, she puts on a pretty low-key show overall. YMMV.

As the credits roll, extra footage of fans at the arena and bloopers by Swift and her dancers are shown in small squares beside the scrolling credits, again mirroring exactly how Ayumi Hamasaki did it with every one of her dozens of concert videos over 20 years. Déjà vu.

Rated PG-13 because of a few explicit lyrics and lots of suggestive attire/dance moves onstage.
– See it on the Big Screen


Saw X (R)

Jigsaw is back for another round of gruesome life or death games. I haven’t seen all the Saw films but this one stands on its own regardless.  

In this story, Jigsaw (John Kramer (Tobin Bell)) has terminal brain cancer and in a last attempt to cure his cancer he flies to Mexico to undergo expensive radical treatment by a pretty blonde woman who claims miracle cures. The setup is well written and filmed and makes for a great intro to the story.

The treatment turns out to be a total fraud and this time it’s not Elizabeth Holmes because she’s in prison. So it’s another blonde female hustler pushing false promises. Unfortunately for everyone involved in the fraud, Jigsaw rounds them up and teaches each of them a lesson in a Mexican abandoned warehouse. It gets really gnarly.

With better editing they probably could’ve cut 20 minutes of fluff, but it’s still a worthy film in the franchise.

For those unacquainted, it’s not a horror movie. It’s basically torture porn on the same level as the Hostel series of films. The biggest difference between the two is that the victims in the Hostel movies are entrapped innocent people, while the victims in the Saw movies are bad people who are punished by being forced to choose between two terrible (painful) choices as the clock ticks.

You know if this is for you or not. (There is a mid-credit scene that you need to wait for.)
– See it on the Big Screen


Barber (NR)

A private investigator (played by Aidan Gillen) who was fired (or quit) the police force is hired by a wealthy widow to find her missing granddaughter. It all seems like a seedy tale leading to her disappearance and it’s played in a gritty way. So far so good. 

Right away I need to point out that everyone in Ireland calls the police “the guards.” Short for guardians. Unless you’ve spent some time in Ireland you’ll also want to turn on the English subtitles to help with the thick Irish accents.

This storyline also takes place during the lengthy Wuhan virus pandemic. Note to Hollywood – it’s too soon. We all lived it – for years. We don’t want to watch any more of it. Perhaps cover it in movies forty years from now.

Then suddenly out of nowhere in the first ten minutes of the film our investigator kisses a man and then takes him to bed. Et tu, Ireland?

It’s not just one scene of queer life. It turns out these are two married men (with kids) who are queers on the side. There’s no doubt extra points for bisexual storylines in 2023. One of the wives divorced her husband when she eventually found out years after their daughter was born.

There’s actually a line in the movie where the one queer man says, “This new WOKE Ireland sure is working out for me.” He’s bragging that he’s finally able to freely get a lot of action with numerous gay men. A healthcare system nightmare.

In another scene our private investigator admits to a woman he’s met (just prior to taking her to bed) that he’s bisexual. Oh, joy. Nothing like spreading gay diseases to the female population. But of course when he tells her he’s bisexual she replies, “Who isn’t?”

Who isn’t? How about 90% of the population.

The worst part is how far the producers of this film went to hide this pervasive subplot. Not one inkling in the trailers for this film that this story has strong gay content or even a LBGTQYXYZ label on the rental page. We’re simply force-fed this fringe crap without notice. And Hollywood wonders why viewership is way down.

There are so many awful distractions going on here that it doesn’t really matter if he finds the girl and the kidnappers are punished or not. The overwhelming majority of people searching for a movie to watch will want to give this one a hard pass.
– AVOID!


Beaten to Death (NR)

This follows in a long line of raw Australian flicks where life goes off the rails for the hapless souls that find themselves in the wrong place (usually off-the-grid areas of the Outback) at the wrong time. This Jack guy suffers immeasurably. By the title, you can pretty much guess how the movie starts out. 

The Good:
The story is told piecemeal, with the viewer shown back and forth timelines that only reveal the puzzle pieces a bit at a time to keep us guessing as to the entire picture. Questions like, why was this guy in the wrong place at the wrong time? Why is he being beaten so badly? Did he provoke it? That keeps it somewhat interesting.

The Bad:
Almost every other aspect of the film is terrible. It’s gore just for the sake of gore. I haven’t seen eyes being poked out since the 1979 movie Zombie and then in Hostel in 2005. Kill Bill 2 had an eye quickly plucked out, but that was much less graphic and quick as a snake bite. The previous two were much harder to sit through. So add Beaten to Death to the list of movies with hard to sit through eye poke scenes.

I chose the less graphic thumbnail above for a reason. Most of the photos for this film are mighty gnarly.

It would seem the writers struggled to come up with 90 minutes of gory storyline so toward the end they padded it out with a 20 minute saga of the victim hobbling through the outback in search of help. 20 minutes of him blindly limping along with impressive vistas of Australian wilderness around him like a slow motion version of Forest Gump making his way across the US. I literally fast forwarded through the that entire waste of time section. There’s only so long you’ll watch a blind man stumble around aimlessly, regardless of the cool vistas around him.

There’s also frequent gaps in physics and logic (not more so than any Marvel film, but no one’s wearing colored tights in this one). The worst offense is when Jack is buried in a grave for two bodies and covered under at least a couple cubic yards of soil. Back of the napkin math would reveal that to be about 6,000 pounds of weight. Only a six-year-old would believe you could breathe and burrow your way out of any deep grave.

This one went straight to video. I rolled the dice and lost badly.

(In English with heavy duty Outback accents. I had to watch it with the subtitles on.)
– AVOID!


Inside Man (NR)

This review is for the 2023 movie called Inside Man. There are a lot of movies called “Inside Man.”

Here’s yet another in the endless line of movies that are “Based on True Events!” As you watch any such movie just keep in mind that Hollywood writers are not interested in writing documentaries for the movie screen. TV networks do that.  Other than the fact that the Mafia exists, that these 1982 crimes really were committed and undercover cops occasionally worked their way in to bust the bad guys – all of the fluffy storyline here was written (conjured up for effect) by screenwriter Kosta Kondilopoulos who has one other previous mediocre movie to his name. And no documentaries under his belt. Because “Based on” tag or not, that’s just not his bag.

He and an Israeli director try to copy the feel of other such mobster films such as The Departed, Donnie Brasco, the Untouchables, Serpico, Carlito’s Way, and even the monotone delivered voiceover feel of Goodfellas.

Every one of the above movies is worth a re-watch. They’re all a LOT better than Inside Man.

Inside Man offers nothing new. Even with star Emile Hirsch doing his best as the undercover cop. His failed marital relationship with his wife is so weak and unconvincing that I was tempted to fast forward through their few short scenes together. 

The mob genre has been done to death. We’ve all seen behind that curtain plenty of times before. Move along. There’s nothing to see here.

This one went straight to video.
– Wait for HBO


Sympathy for the Devil (NR)

Nicholas Cage is at it again with another over the top character who’s scary to be around. He’s made a fortune playing that character. This time he’s the scary guy in the back seat making you drive at gunpoint to various destinations. We had a similar plot in 2004 called Collateral starring Tom Cruise and Jamie Foxx. Collateral was directed by Michael Mann and it was an exciting film that still holds up today. Sympathy for the Devil was directed by a nobody Israeli director and will be totally forgotten next week. (It went straight to video so nobody in Hollywood was fooled by it). You just never know with Nicolas Cage. So I took a chance on it. 

The actual plots for the two movies above are completely different, and we have no idea why Cage’s character gets into the back seat and seems so angry. The helpless driver acts so dumb throughout that I wanted to empty a gun into him myself 30 minutes into the movie since Cage wouldn’t do it. A cook and a waitress in a truck stop diner also turn out to be as dumb as a couple bags of dirty rocks. 

Another in a multitude of moviemaking missteps on display here was making Cage’s character a Boston native. If you’re going to try to pull off that accent, you better be from Boston. This was the most pathetic Boston accent ever.

In the end, you won’t give a hoot about the highjacked driver, his wife (who’s about to give birth in the hospital), the cook, the waitress, the truck driver sitting in the diner, or anyone else in this film. This is one mess of a script and a terrible movie from start to finish.
– AVOID!


Fear the Night (R)

This is a tale of eight girls going to a private bachelorette party. From the start they’re annoying, bickering women. Maggie Q is the draw here, if you’re a fan of her genre of “women who dish out justice.”

Maggie Q plays a character that is disliked by all the other women and she seems to only tolerate her younger sister. From the slim storyline offered here it would seem she’s suffering from PTS after serving in the Iraq war. Though the coldness shown seems to have started much earlier than that. 

Early in the story, the women have a run-in with rednecks at the local convenience store. As the women then head off to their rural retreat, we know there’s a clash on the horizon.

There are some questionable script choices that I think the actresses should’ve questioned and had rewritten. But who knows. One head shaker was that these women dress up in their best dresses and heels for the long drive to this private bachelorette party getaway for 8 in a small house in the middle of nowhere. Some even wearing that garb in the convenience store on the way. Really? Does that make sense? Are they twelve?

Some of the women are of course queers because this is 2023, so that’s kinda expected in every movie nowadays. 

Maggie Q’s character just walks right into someone else’s house when she finds they’re not home and the door is unlocked. Like in so many lazily written movies. That NEVER happens in real life unless you’re going to rob the place.

As the action starts it’s a tossup as to who’s dumber, the hapless women or the rednecks. One high pitched shrieking woman in particular was tough to listen to. I’d likely have taken my chances and run from the house rather than listen to that for very long. She survives way too long and it’s tough on the viewing audience.

The most impressive part of the movie would be the multiple kills. On both sides. This is one of the few movies made where the women don’t just injure the bad guys and then try to run away, often falling down in the process. Here, once they get a guy on his heels using household objects to even up the odds, they end him. That’s a welcomed twist from the stereotypical Hollywood film formula. 

At the end of these types of bloodbath movies, we always wonder how the survivors explain all the bloodshed to the authorities. In this film they try to tackle that idea. It doesn’t work well. And it makes it obvious why none of the previous hundred bloodshed movies tried to do it. Better to just roll the credits instead as the survivors stare off in the distance while sitting in the back of an ambulance.

This film went straight to video on demand.
– Wait for Rental


Oppenheimer (R) 

(Screenshot above is a brilliantly acted scene of a wife wanting to rip her genius husband’s head off and kick it into the river.)

Christopher Nolan squeezes a lot of nuance into the race to build the bomb from Robert Oppenheimer’s perspective. There are more big time Hollywood actors in this than you could shake a stick at. Best if you don’t know the list ahead of time so you can be surprised whenever a new star enters of the story.

Either you know the well-documented and detailed story of the Manhattan Project in Los Alamos, or not. No reason to rehash it here. Nolan does a good job of mixing atomic footage, or animated facsimiles of atoms shown to represent what goes on in Oppenheimer’s head along with very direct conversations between scientists, military, congressional guys and Oppenheimer’s lovers. The R rating is for nudity and sexual content because Oppenheimer enjoyed sex. He had a wife and one lover in particular on the side. His wife (Emily Blunt) finds out the details in a harsh way that is both different from what we’ve seen before and humiliatingly painful. 

With a three-hour runtime you’ll no doubt squirm a bit in your seat, especially after WW2 is won and the US Government commission goes after Oppenheimer for having a history of loving communism. It’s certainly an ambitious film to take on. Whether it’s a theater-worthy movie or not is up to your interest in the behind-the-scenes scientific research to build the Bomb and lots of political jockeying. It reminded me of the film All the President’s Men in 1975. So it’s that kind of thrilling. Don’t go expecting shocking footage of atomic blasts in the desert or over Japan. The single Trinity test blast in the desert is a short segment of the three-hour movie. And there’s zero footage or coverage of the two bombs exploding over Japan.

If the thought of a three-hour procedural film has you on the fence, you should probably wait to rent it instead. Anyone telling you this needs to be seen in IMAX needs to get out more. That’s just silly. And I’m a film buff! 
– Wait for Rental


Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One (PG-13)

The IMF team is back for another incredible mission to save the world from certain doom. To tell you too much would ruin the reveals, so I won’t do that. But I can explain why this is a film that needs to be seen in a big theater, especially in this current era of god awful films.

First and foremost is the fact that Tom Cruise doesn’t care about the Hollywood agendas that are being force-fed to everyone right now. His only agenda is to make enjoyable, thrilling films and truckloads of money. That’s what Hollywood is supposed to be about.

As you can see from the poster above, there are more women involved in the complicated storyline this time. But unlike the silly invincible women of the past few Star Wars films, Marvel movies in general, and the recent bomb, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny starring the insufferable Phoebe Waller-Bridge, these Mission Impossible female leads act like real people and have real world weaknesses. I’d go on to say that Cruise fills his films with good looking actors of both sexes. Imagine that? Like the Hollywood we all remember. You don’t spend money to go watch your neighbors down the street grill hot dogs in their cut off jean shorts.

We all know Cruise likes to do his own stunts. It’s become a trademark of his. This film is no different. Instead of green screens (like the above listed movies) this one features practical stunts, done for real, often by the actors themselves. When things turn upside down, the actors are really turning upside down and dealing with the situation. You’ve probably seen the promotional trailers where Tom Cruise shows us how he managed to jump off a massive cliff while riding a motorcycle at full speed. It’s a crazy scene. But without giving anything away, another scene toward the end of the film tops that by a country mile. Beyond thrilling. It’s the kind of stuff Hollywood used to deliver constantly (here’s looking at you, Arnold) before Hollywood decided to pivot to agenda-preaching instead. I know I’ve cut way back on moviegoing because of it. 

Hollywood, especially Disney/Lucasfilm/Pixar are hemorrhaging money in 2023 and rightfully so. Let’s hope this latest Mission Impossible film quickly makes two billion dollars and finally jolts Hollywood back to reality.

Note – This movie is 2h 45m long. So plan accordingly.
– See it on the Big Screen


No Hard Feelings (R)

Jennifer Lawrence stars in this irreverent comedy where rich helicopter parents run an ad to find a girl to “date” their son in order to bring him out of his shell before he goes off to Princeton. Yeah, that kind of date. If she does it, they’ll give her their used Buick. 

Lawrence plays an Uber driver (and bartender) who just had her car repossessed and her house is next to be taken from her, so she’s desperate for money. The best candidate for the job. The script is funny. Take the premise for what it is and it’s an enjoyable ride. 

It’s been a loooong time since Hollywood had the guts to release a movie reminiscent of the raunchy comedies of the 90’s. There’s even an American Indian joke here! (It’s funny too! Relax, everyone!) You can just imagine the outrage among todays triggered youth! They might storm out of the theater and demand a public apology to the American tribes and start a GoFundMe page. Or start a #NotFunnyMovies tirade. It’s a sad state of affairs.

This movie is like the ones that made a ton of money back in the day when thick-skinned people possessing an actual sense of humor went to theaters. But now such films are seen as no longer fit for today’s Puritan American audiences that are offended by EVERYTHING. That and the recent revelation that young people today simply aren’t into sex anymore and shun anything “pushing” sexual themes on them. 

Little kids used to be afraid of cooties. Now Americas teens and Millennials are afraid of cooties. It’s embarrassing. I’m not saying I dispute the stats, but we can only hope it’s a short-term phase they’re going through. 

Millennials on YouTube are even saying things like – This unfunny trailer gives off “Groomer vibes! Yuuuck!” 

Young Americans are immediately questioning whether Jennifer’s character is “trafficked” into doing it. We’ve trigger-worded our youth with so many false narratives we’re pushing them backward into the 1700’s. If we’re not careful we’ll be back to burning witches again in the US. That’s no joke and shouldn’t be taken as such. American women have lost their long-held right to abortion and are being hunted down by local governments and persecuted (by men AND women!) if they dare cross state lines to get one. Imagine that? History coming full circle right before our eyes.

This movie is funny. Period. Just as intended. Jennifer Lawrence (who also co-produced it) is no doubt trying desperately to slap American youth back to their senses. She actually makes fun of the mindset of today’s youth, extensively, throughout the film. Will they get it? Who knows. I’ve thrown my hands up with the whole lot of them. But I hope this film does well enough at the box office to allow more off-color R Rated films to get the green light.
– See it on the Big Screen


Guardians of the Galaxy VOL. 3 (PG-13)

The goofy gang of misfits is back. If you enjoyed the first two (I did) this one is the least fun of the series but still pretty good.

The problem is the length and the lack of stellar writing between the cast of characters. All of the actors still nail their roles, they just don’t have the same arsenal of witty lines to deliver. Then there’s the tension that has been artificially introduced into the storyline and an over the top Marvel final act that the previous two films cleverly avoided.

Lastly, the addition of a talking dog with telekinetic powers is a complete misfire. It seems to be shoehorned in just to appease dog lovers. That idea should have been the first thing to go once they realized this would be a 2h 30m film.

There are two, tiny mid and after credit scenes that are not worth waiting for. So head for the exits as soon as the endless credits start. There are thousands of people to thank in the credits, mostly in the animation effects industry.

If you haven’t been to the theater in a long time, this might be the movie to get you back into a seat. But it will make an okay rental too. 
– Wait for Rental


The Tank (R)

The film starts out May 2, 1946, at an Oregon beachfront property. A loose plot point that weakly serves to help deliver the ending. Turns out they shouldn’t have even bothered with that. Then we jump to 1978, a nice timeframe for a writer – a world where cell phones are not yet available to call in the Calvary when spotting a sinister monster. 

The plot is that a husband suddenly finds out from a lawyer that he owns property in Oregon that’s worth a fortune. He knew nothing about it. He soon finds out that the property also has a cavernous hole in the ground, a water tank (thus the title) that seems ominous from the start. 

That hole in the ground is just one of a dozen other big holes in the story. Here’s a list of some of them:
When we first meet the couple they’re running a crazy family pet store with all kinds of wacky animals, many of which make their way out of their cages and run around the store. All hands on deck! More of a Dr. Dolittle scene that anything real. Then they suddenly take an unplanned trip for a week to stay at this hidden property that’s been abandoned for decades. Who’s back there minding that insane asylum of a pet store on a moment’s notice? Those animals have to eat!

After hours of driving, the family (husband, wife and six-ish daughter) find the long rutted dirt road running through dense forest that leads only to the abandoned home. Somehow that road is still viable. So they’re inexplicably able to drive in their mid 70s station wagon for nearly a mile with no road obstructions on this feeble little dirt path. So no storms in 30 years? No trees or branches falling for 30 years? No grass, weeds or debris covering that road for 30 years? Finally they come up to a single fallen tree across the road. But now they’re close enough to walk.

They break into the boarded up creepy old home that’s been abandoned for three decades, and go to sleep in the beds that haven’t been cleaned for that time in a house that hasn’t been cleaned in decades. It’s all good! Probably beats a tent, but still. “Nighty night!”

Halfway through the movie, after days in the filthy little house (it’s not a castle) the wife finds a locked door to a room they’ve never looked in before. Why would they go days without looking in a locked room when they have the keys in their possession? Would anyone do that? Plot hole.

They have a small family dog that they bring with them. The dog is the type of dog that would sleep in someone’s bed, either the parents or the kid. Probably with the kid. Yet inexplicably, as soon as the sun goes down the dog is AWOL. Completely written out of the script. Exactly when you would want a dog around when you hear growling noises and monsters lurking in and out of the house. Where is their dog every night?

The dog is only around once the sun comes up. Every day once the sun comes up. WTF?

The parents are that rare Hollywood breed of humans that walk toward anything menacing, especially low growling noises at night, and they love to approach anything that hints at being a horrific scene. I tend to believe humans survived as a species because we don’t do that. Not sure what Hollywood writers think, but I suspect its something entirely different.

The amphibian monsters have an alligator bite and do some quick, effective damage on everyone except the family members who are able to get away clean after several attacks. I’m guessing a couple Marvel writers were penning parts of the script. They’re used to writing stories where all protagonists are Teflon and armor coated, and can come back to life unscathed after a horrific death with no explanation whatsoever. 

Near the end, that tiny little dog makes a pounding noise against the back door, exactly a sound like the big monsters make. And the wife, who gravitates toward anything that sounds menacing, even when her little daughter is safe next to her, unlocks and opens up the door! LOL! Every viewer will suspect it’s that little 18 pound dog because we’ve all seen 1,000 movies before. And sure enough, that little rascal was making physically impossible pounding sounds on that door.

We end up with two visiting vehicles blocking that dirt road away from the house. Except when the wife decides it’s time to exit stage left, the road is suddenly clear. Did the amphibian monsters enjoy some joyride time in those other vehicles? Or is that dirt road truly self-maintaining?

There’s another Hollywood writer’s strike looming. I say do what Ronald Reagan did back in 1981 when the greedy air traffic controllers went on strike. Fire all of the Hollywood writers, blacklist them from ever working in the industry again and start over. It worked with the air traffic controllers. There’s no reason to believe it wouldn’t be a success here too. Scriptwriting has never been lazier than it is today.
– AVOID!


Guy Ritchie’s The Covenant (R)

Jake Gyllenhaal stars as the sergeant in the US/Afghan war, who has his life saved by his Afghan interpreter when things go terribly wrong. This is one of the few films over the past year or two that doesn’t add, “Based on a True Story!” (Hint, that tag line always means that 5% of a movie is based on the true story and the rest is Hollywood writer filler.) But this is a fictional story.

We spend the first half of this long two-hour film watching Sergeant John Kinley (Gyllenhaal) try to get along with Ahmed, the Afghan interpreter imbedded into their patrols while rooting out the Taliban and trying to find and destroy their weapons caches. It’s well acted by everybody and the story really trots along nicely, until Sergeant Kinley gets shot. 

It’s then that Ahmed, the Afghan interpreter hero has to literally drag his fallen American commander many, many miles over and through multiple rugged mountains in Afghanistan, with the Taliban swarming everywhere to find them. I personally found this long segment of the film a bit monotonous and unnecessary but there’s no doubt it gives us the full picture of just how hard that task would be to drag and push a badly wounded American soldier back to his distant military base. By the end of that task I think I was just as exhausted as Ahmed was.

Guy Ritchie probably thought it was necessary to drive home the idea that this recovered American soldier living back in California would do anything, even crossing the lines, to help get that hero interpreter out of harm’s way and into the US with his family as the military promised all those Afghan advisers from the start. I don’t think we needed to be beat over the head with those scenes of struggle – endless walking in the hot sun. Had Ritchie shaved ten minutes off the film it would have been equally effective and needfully shorter in my opinion.   

Regardless, if you can stand or enjoy military films with a lot of ammunition unleashed and scores of soldiers wiped out, this one has an additional thread of two guys from different worlds who “owe each other” and are men of their word. 

Jake Gyllenhaal plays that role well. And in a surprising performance, Dar Salim (as Ahmed) sells his performance too. It’s worth a trip to the theater, if this is your kind of movie.
– See it on the Big Screen


Ghosted (PG-13) 

Chris Evans and Ana de Armas star in this 2 hr dismal romcom called Ghosted. The whole thing is contrived, terribly written and corny. And just when you think it can’t get any sillier, there’s a fine dining rotating restaurant in a high rise building that tuns into a spinning Round Up carnival ride – by accident.

Before I rip this awful movie to shreds – one thing: An actress named Lizzy Broadway (yes, that’s her real birth name) plays Evans’ younger sister (the voice of reason) and she’s the only believable person in the story. Her observations are hilarious. Unfortunately she only gets 5 minutes of total screen time.

Although it’s not a horror movie, the writers immediately go for the asthma inhaler plot device. (Had the quarter landed on tails they would’ve gone with “insulin shot”). The parents quip in rapid fire cartoon-speak, like Homer and Marge Simpson. Not believable at all.

The basic plot is that the two leads have an extraordinary impromptu 24 hour date and then exchange numbers. He immediately texts her and she “ghosts him” by ignoring his texts for days. A big problem is that the chemistry between Evans and Ana de Armas is as nonexistent as that phone exchange. Then there’s the plethora of bad guys that are cartoonish and then the plot holes you could drive a truck through. If you think Ana de Armas as a killer CIA agent is far-fetched, that’s the tiniest tip of a widening iceberg of issues here.

At one point Evans, who doesn’t like to travel and rarely flies, opens a jet door at altitude to parachute out holding a woman and a doomsday device, among other things. The fact that the door immediately opens outward (jet doors open inward for pressurization reasons and can’t open when the cabin is pressurized for obvious reasons) is the least of the problems with that scene. And the out of control spinning rooftop restaurant? C’mon, man. Not even Mel Brooks would go near that idea.

I know Evans stars in a bunch of Marvel crap where anything-goes-at-any-time-for-any-reason, so the script probably looked perfectly normal to him. He just doesn’t get it. But for the rest of us, this rubbish writing shouldn’t fly.

Apple bought the distribution rights to this movie so it’s playing exclusively on AppleTV for free. It’s not worth watching – even for free.
– AVOID! 


Evil Dead Rise (R)

Finally, a theater-worthy movie hits the screens. It’s been a long stretch. 

Evil Dead Rise follows the tried and true formula of Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead themed films. (Raimi is listed as one of the executive producers here.)

This new version takes place in a dilapidated California high rise that’s just days away from being condemned. That right there makes for a mighty creepy atmosphere. 

A young woman who works for a touring band (just finished a tour in Bangkok, no less) has just found out she’s pregnant and decides to show up at her older sister’s place in that Los Angeles high rise for some sisterly advice. Her sister has three kids, two teens and a cute young daughter. So she knows a thing or two about life. 

After an earthquake shakes the area and rattles some nerves, her kids find an old book of the dead buried under the now crumbling parking garage floor that had covered up an old bank vault. In a new techie twist, the eldest son uncovers the spells from that book and the accompanying old vinyl records. It’s well done, especially for old folks that understand how 78 rpm records work. The director takes his time setting up the story, which is smart. Once the kid accidentally unleashes the demon, things get ugly quick. It’s effective, mostly because the entire cast really sells it.  

For those that enjoyed any of the Evil Dead films of the past, this is right up your alley. It’s pretty scary (not quite as creepy/terrifying as Smile) and features the usual graphic gore that comes with any Evil Dead film. In other words, it delivers on that stuff. And extra points that none of the characters suffer from diabetes or asthma to add fake storyline tension!

Another item worth mentioning is that this is a rare case where the actors were hired based on their acting ability with zero quota hires to check any social warrior boxes. It’s so darn refreshing to see a movie that reflects the America most Americans see every day that I had to pinch myself a couple times to be sure I wasn’t dreaming. Not sure how they got away with that in 2023 but kudos to whoever made that reality check happen.

This was an early screening in Thailand. It opens in US theaters on April 21st. 
– See it on the Big Screen


Renfield (R)

This is another one of those films where you need to decide whether you like the lead star or not. Nicholas Cage stars here as Dracula, set in 2022. If you don’t like Cage, that’s pretty much the end of the matter.

Those that have really enjoyed some of his stuff can totally see him relishing the chance to play Dracula. He does a good (comical) job with the role.

The problem is that he has two co-stars that take up a lot more screen time than Cage does. Nicholas Hoult is the main character playing Renfield, the servant that brings Dracula his meals (people). He’s okay. Then there’s Awkwafina, the Chinese actress that started out as a rapper, then was discovered on YouTube singing a song about her vag. From one low bar of entertainment to another. 

Just as there are those who will steer clear of anything that contains Nicholas Cage, I expect this will be my last consumption of anything with Awkwafina in it. Let’s just say a little goes a long way with Awkwafina, and there’s way too much of her in this barely funny film.

There is plenty of violence and cartoonish gore. Enough that it might be worth a watch in one of your all-you-can-stream plans. But even if you’re a Nicolas Cage fan, I don’t think it’s worth more than $1.50. 
– Wait for HBO   


Linoleum (NR)

Jim Gaffigan is a great stand-up comedian who works clean (very little foul language) and as it turns out, he can act too. He plays the everyman who lives a mundane life in all his films. 

Here Cam (played by Gaffigan) does it again in Linoleum, and he’s totally believable in it. Unfortunately the story is both wacky and slow moving which makes it a struggle to sit through.

Cam always dreamed of being an astronaut. His dad was a rocket scientist so the genes were on his side. But the best Cam could do was star in his own little TV show in the 80’s. A kid’s show that unfortunately aired at midnight. That time slot makes more sense at the end of the movie. (The TV show is actually very cool for it’s time).

Soon the depressing story of his life turns so wacky you can’t make sense of it. Then there’s an M. Night Shyamalan-ish reveal at the end (Shyamalan had no connection to this movie) that’s supposed to clear up the muddy, nonsensical story. Unfortunately if you go back and watch the key scenes again, like the scene in the car with the family arguing, the ending explainer does’t really hold up under scrutiny. So that’s a huge swing and a miss.

To add insult to injury, halfway through the film we learn the high school aged daughter thinks she’s gay. And then the high school boy she’s saying that to admits he likes wearing women’s panties. So we’ve got the whole trans, everyone in America is gender-fluid vibe going on that gives audiences the warm and fuzzies in 2023.

There has never been a shortage of gay characters in TV and films since the 50’s. The examples are endless. Here are three biggies from different movie eras: West Side Story, Dog Day Afternoon and Basic Instinct

The free Tubi app, that gets only a tiny sliver of all the Hollywood movies each month, breaks out LGBTXYZ films and is literally showing 200 of them right now. Same number of offerings as every other month. Hardly a neglected group of people! Except now Hollywood is ramming it down our throats with these latest offerings.   

As far as Linoleum, the whole thing is a bust.
– AVOID!


One Day as a Lion (R) 

Scott Caan (James Caan’s son and star of the modern Hawaii 5-O TV show)  stars as a flunky hitman in this straight to video film. J.K. Simmons (who’s been in over 200 movies) stars as the horse-riding target who refuses to pay the money he owes to the loan shark, played by Frank Grillo (who’s been in 90 terrible movies).

The hired killer (Caan) fails miserably at the diner hit and decides to take the waitress hostage as his plan implodes. The waitress is played by smarty-pants actress Marianne Rendón (who’s been in three previous movies). It’s billed as a comedy, so let the hyjinx begin!

If you’ve seen Scott Caan in anything you know that he basically plays himself in everything. And he’s certainly a chop off the old block, a carbon copy of James Caan. His scenes are fine. J.K. Simmons is a veteran. His scenes are as solid as any he’s ever done. 

Then there’s Grillo and Rendón. Grillo is his usual over the top actor. So he’s as unbelievable as he is in anything. Rendón has nothing going for her so I suspect she’ll slowly disappear from the acting world. Unless she comes out as queer. 

Once Caan and Rendón join forces to solve their life problems there are ten or so really funny lines in some funny scenes. But that’s ten yuks during this hour and half movie. Not a great batting average. The writing just isn’t there. 

A quick shout-out to the actor named Slaine (rapper). He’s been in a dozen films and he’s a solid actor here. He delivers another six or so funny lines. Perhaps he’ll get noticed and get into some better films. But he is a straight, white guy so he’s got that Hollywood demerit going against him.
– Wait for HBO 


John Wick: Chapter 4 (R)

Let’s get right to it. At a 2h 49m runtime your rump will tell you if you’re over 40. And you’ll sit there for the full 2h 49 minutes because the house lights will stay off during the credits for the final 30 second post-credit scene. Yippee!

Editor Evan Schiff must have been sidetracked by a new girlfriend (or new mistress if he’s married) and was too distracted to spend the necessary time at work (where he said he was) editing John Wick: Chapter 4. This should have been a two-hour film – at most.

It’s the same John Wick we all love to watch except this time he travels the world effortlessly, sans luggage, hunting his foes all over the world like James Bond. Then there’s the bulletproof business suits that must have gone on sale last fall, as everyone from Wick to hundreds of foes are all wearing them. They must be made of spare Marvel Universe capes that they found lying around because not even automatic weapons even sting much. Some, like Wick, even duck their heads behind their suit jacket flaps like Batman does to deflect the bullets. (See photo above)

But as mentioned at the top, it’s just too long and worst of all, REPETITIVE. There are times where we watch Wick take out waves after waves of villains in the same way over, and over, and over. The same moves, over and over. One guy, then the next guy, then… Over and over! For 15 minutes straight.

We get it, Wick is tough. 3/4 of that footage should have been left on the cutting room floor. Time to switch the scene, for god’s sake. There are also long scenes of characters walking down a hallway. Walking. Walking. Walking… 

“Sorry, sweetie, I have to go. People are looking at me. I have to a least LOOK like I’m editing today. I’ll see you at lunchtime. Yes, I’ll make it a long lunch with you, just like yesterday.”

There’s even a dull pistol dueling scene that is reminiscent of the boring movie, Barry Lyndon from 1975.

In another long scene Wick repeats his villain-dispensing routine in a massive Russian dance club/mansion with hundreds of customers dancing exactly the same way silly Sims computer cartoon people dance. For real. And they keep on cartoon dancing, by the hundreds as at least 50 bad guys are shot numerous times each (bulletproof suits) and then in the head, with throats cut right in front of these dancing patrons. And they just keep on dancing. 

I’m not super familiar with Russia, but I’m pretty sure they don’t have “Slaughter Night – Two for One Vodka Shots!” promos at their clubs.

There’s a hideous Russian man with tattoos all over his face and lots of piercings going on who emulates the Groot character from Guardians of the Galaxy franchise by only saying his short name over and over for a scene. It falls flat.

Ip Man movie franchise star Donnie Yen (Chinese) stars as well. He plays a blind killer who has to hunt down and kill Wick in order to save his Chinese daughter. So we’re somehow supposed to believe that a blind killer can take out scores of guys in a firefight armed with weapons including automatic weapons using only his pistol, a cane and his hand-to-hand combat skills? And Wick himself is unable to inflict much damage on this blind foe? Really? 

If I could easily take out a blind villain with a gun in my hand, why can’t Wick? Are blind guys his kryptonite? There’s suspension of belief and then there’s cartoons (or Marvel films). It’s just too hard to swallow.  

Not to get too political, but that same Chinese Donnie Yen actor renounced his US Citizenship (that he earned long ago) and joined the Communist Party. He’s so close to Chinese dictator Xi Jinping that he’s seen standing right next to Xi at numerous Chinese events. Do people realize how hard it is to stand next to dictator Xi Jinping at national public events? Can Hollywood stoop any lower? Maybe. They’re probably looking for an actor who is really close to Putin for the next Marvel movie release in friendly Russia. 

If you enjoyed any or all of the previous John Wick films, do yourself a favor and just rewatch one of those instead. John Wick: Chapter 4 is the least enjoyable of the bunch.
– AVOID!


Out of Exile (R)

A greasy-haired thug is released from prison after 16 years, having kept his mouth shut about the bad guys he worked for. Once outside he’d like to start a clean life and take care of his early twenties daughter who hates him because he’s never been around for her. But the lure of a big score has him immediately going back to work for the same crime boss by doing a military style hit on an armored truck with some guys he trusts. Except one of the guys is his coked-up crazy brother who ends up shooting a guard – then becomes a loose cannon.

Add in the fact that this parolee’s daughter gets beat up by her no-good, badass boyfriend and the usual FBI cat and mouse game and you have the same plot you’ve seen more times than you can count. The other movies were better.

This one’s odd because the storyline has us (and the FBI) believing these guys are pros. But the thugs install trackers on customer cars when they come into their shop for repairs so the thugs can find out where the customers live and steal their cars to use for bank heists. I’m no expert, but perhaps it’s easier to just look in the glove box for the car registration with the home address on it? Just sayin’.

Then during the action-free long middle of the film there’s laughable FBI dialogue that elicits a chuckle when it’s meant to be serious. There’s just not enough here to really recommend it. If it’s a rainy Wednesday night and it comes on a movie channel at a decent hour, that might be alright.
– Wait for HBO


Plane (R)

Gerard Butler stars as the captain of a jet that’s scheduled for a trip from Singapore to Tokyo, Japan. They hit bad weather which causes a lot of severe turbulence and severe trauma for anyone who ignores the seatbelt signs. That actually happens a lot in planes. But then lightning strikes the plane so they then have to land within minutes (or else) and do a white knuckle landing on a dirt road on a remote island in the Philippines. Better than the water landing they expected but still not great. The island is ruled by mean Filipino separatists who like to shoot hostages for fun. Some of the hostages deserve to be shot, but I digress. 

Just to alleviate any panic for anyone reading that previous paragraph, if lightning strikes could bring planes down none of us would ever fly. Modern planes are engineered to easily withstand lightning strikes. It’s just one of a baker’s dozen of plot holes you’ll roll your eyes at. But none of that matters.

If this was the 80’s, Arnold Schwarzenegger would play the pilot in this film and you all know what kind of movie this would be. This is an 80’s style action film that stars Gerard Butler instead of Arnold and would fit perfectly in the dusty bin labeled, “Movies for Guys That Like Movies.”

There’s also a large black guy in cuffs that the FBI is transporting back to Toronto on that plane. Once on the dangerous island, Butler frees him from his cuffs so it can become a black and white Lethal Weapon buddy movie as these two get their Schwarzenegger on. It’s plenty entertaining, if action films are your thing. The R rating is for the blood that’s spilled. The harrowing plane footage is well done so there’s actually a lot to like here.

So if you spent money to see the fun, plot hole riddled Arnold movies back in the 80’s, like Commando, this one is of that caliber. If you always waited to rent those movies instead, this will make a terrific rental. 
– See it on the Big Screen


M3GAN (PG13)

Though called “Megan” by all involved, this highly mobile and functional toy doll is really named M3GAN which is short for a Model 3 Generative Android. The advertising for this film has been nothing short of a full on blitz. In case you haven’t seen anything about it it’s about a toy-engineering woman named Gemma (Allison Williams) who’s apparently the best in her field at both hardware AND software (yeah, okay) who creates an amazing new doll to help out her niece named Cody who just lost her parents in a car crash. The advanced AI doll decides it will never let anything bad happen to orphaned Cody ever again. Think overprotective – on steroids. A nicer version of Chucky I suppose.

It was originally supposed to be a scary R rated film but was chopped down to a creepy PG-13 to reap the benefits of a bigger audience. I would have preferred the more horror version instead of the Thriller, Sci-Fi film we get, but I can see the wider audience appeal for this type of offering. The M3GAN doll effects are really well done.

Kudos to the makers of this thing to take the time to set up the story properly with a pretty darn smart script. The pacing will remind you of the 70’s – 90’s when movies took their time to flesh out the characters and ease us into the water, so the speak. Younger folks who have been devouring nothing but Transformers/Marvel paced films most of their lives might get fidgety. I thoroughly enjoyed the pacing and hope the box office success M3EGAN has already shown will start a new trend in moviemaking. Audiences are smarter (hopefully) than Hollywood wants to give us credit for.

Allison Williams is strong in her role as Gemma, the toy developing genius. As a single professional, Gemma likes the nice things in her nice home to be left untouched by careless youngsters. Then suddenly she finds herself the legal guardian of a young girl who has never lived in a hands-off home like that. Gemma (Allison) sells that storyline extremely well. She’s just not ready to be a mother at the flip of a switch. I’m sure many audience attendees totally sympathize with those scenes. She also sells the idea that the crimes being alleged at her family are nuts. Allison Williams was perfectly cast in this movie.

That lack of mothering by Gemma allows the AI M3GAN to basically take over the sole job of raising Cody. There are good and bad point to such an electronic babysitting device and we know for a fact (because of the proper script lead time) that her original parents would have curtailed it. Hints of trouble ahead arise almost immediately and the story hits its stride at the midway point. The “problems” M3GAN solves for the family (mostly for Cody) are pretty satisfying even if they do pull the punches on the killings. An R rated version would make this thing a classic for decades to come. That said, it still works.

An actor named Ronny Chieng plays a cartoonish role (like Charley, straight out of Mr. Magoo) as a Chinglish-speaking foreign boss of the toy company. It’s the biggest shortcoming of the movie and his placement in the film seems only to placate the communist Chinese government to give the movie a green light to show in Mainland Chinese theaters. Hopefully we’ll see less of this as the artificial shine comes off of Mainland China.  

The only other quibble viewers will have is with the physics of the onscreen antics. We know M3GAN is made of strong/light titanium and her motorized fingers could probably do a lot of damage, even choking someone. But we don’t know the weight of the 4 foot doll. We do see a young boy pick M3GAN up and easily carry her around so we can guess 20 pounds or so?

A 20 pound doll isn’t much of a threat, especially without a canine bite. Kicking in doors and holding people down is just not physically possible if you only weigh 20 pounds. Even if a large flock of birds fly into a window, they can’t break the window. They just break their necks. Physics is a bitch and mass matters. But if you can overlook physics as a whole and a couple plot holes here and there, it’s a theater-worthy movie that deserves the praise it has received. 
– See it on the Big Screen


The Price We Pay (R)

The movie doesn’t waste any time getting to the point. Three masked robbers hit a pawnshop in broad daylight while the owner is dealing with a financially down and out woman in the back office. The robbery goes sideways and the woman is trapped in the back room where the safe is. 

Eventually the bad guys with the now kidnapped woman find themselves at a remote farmhouse that has a grandpa who’s more than they bargained for.

It’s a B movie starring Stephen Dorff, Emile Hirsch (who looks a bit like actor Jack Black), Vernon Wells, who’s been in over 200 movies (for real) and Cuban actress Gigi Zumbado who’s done her fair share of TV and films. 

Gigi’s a pretty good actress but unfortunately plays a woman that isn’t good at hiding, getting away when the chances are there for her and she falls down a lot when running for her life. Scripts will do that to even the best of actresses. But the issues do help stretch the movie length to a respectable 86 minutes. 

A good comparison to this one would be the film Texas Chainsaw Massacre. In the Chainsaw film the victims are innocent teenagers who don’t deserve their fate. In this movie the victims are bad guys so there’s less sympathy for them as you’re watching. So there’s that. 

For a weeknight B-movie rental it’s not awful, but two things stick out: 
Unless the fragment is near a vital organ you don’t have to remove bullets when shot. You’ll just do more tissue damage and cause more bleeding if you try to remove them. Even hospitals often leave them in. A lot of inner city thugs are walking around with bullets still lodged inside them. 

It’s a gnarly bullet-removal scene in this film to be sure, but when the armed robber claims he was trained as a field medic in the US military it suddenly makes no sense. He’d know better. 

Anyone who’s ever had broken ribs knows it’s extremely painful to move around at all for weeks. This film depicts something on a whole other level. If your sternum is split wide open with a retractor (a rib spreader to get to the heart) it would take a month to recover. And that’s after your doctor properly wires your breast bone back into place, which is obviously not done here. To see someone get off the ghoulish surgical table after such rib spreading trauma and try to kick someone’s ass after their skin is simply stapled back together by a novice bystander is beyond silly. Not even the Batman writers would try to sell that nonsense.

If you sat through any of the Chainsaw films or the Saw films, like millions of us did, this straight-to-video movie is probably worth a rental.
– Wait for Rental


End of 2023 Movies.

Go to 2022 Movie Reviews