Straight From a Movie

Pensive Thoughts on Paper | Movie Reviews and Quotes Website

Tag: michael keaton

American Assassin Movie Review (2017) | Every Rebellious Child’s Dream

American Assassin movie can’t be taken seriously. It feels like every child’s dream when they are growing up, wishing to revolt against something, everything, and against everybody. Not listening to anybody, doing things as one pleases, being the sole hero, to stopping everything bad without bothering for consequences.

Mitch Rapp (Dylan O’ Brien) is a one-man army with absurd unrealistic dialogues in his mouth, who calls the shots himself and acts upon them all by himself. He doesn’t  need a system to work. He has his own. Mitch is a dangerous man put on the field by an authority, and he acts like he doesn’t give two rats about anything or anyone.

American Assassin movie is bloating for attention, seems to be clearly aimed at teenagers who are secretly heroes, fighting the terrorists and defying the government, in their heads.

Plot of American Assassin Movie (Spoilers)

One of the best things about American Assassin is its opening scene where the tragedy happens.

still of Dylan O' Brien as Mitch Rapp in American Assassin movie

We see Mitch proposing to his girlfriend Katrina (Charlotte Vega) on a beach in Ibiza and then heading off to get some drinks to celebrate. Terrorists appear out of the blue and start shooting randomly at the crowd. The struggle in Mitch’s eyes is real, as he heads out to check on Katrina even though he is shot at numerous times. That feeling of not being concerned about one’s own life and placing someone else above you is beyond compare. They both get shot but our hero survives. It saddens you terribly and your eyes manage to hit tears then.

It is like a single most upending moment in one’s life that defines everything thereon. Like something insanely huge we can’t forget. Unfortunately, American Assassin movie doesn’t milk that fact properly. We know the guy’s shattered but the poetry in Michael Cuesta‘s frames never ooze out. The movie takes that angst and then tries to carve a story out of it but fails at it terribly.

Vengeance

As we see a vigilante mission in progress, where Mitch is trying to hunt down the terrorist responsible for his girlfriend’s death, we observe CIA closely monitoring his acts. As he secures a meeting with the leader of the terrorist, US Special Forces swoop in killing all the terrorists in the room, including the one Mitch wanted to kill badly himself.

In a CIA safehouse meeting, Rapp is being questioned by Irene Kennedy (Sanaa Lathan), who is the CIA Deputy Director. She offers him to be a part of special black code ops Orion. It is a downhill ride from that point onwards and you know then you can’t take the movie seriously with Mitch being overtly smug for a guy who was so serious and taciturn moments ago.

Orion is headed by a former US Navy Seal Stan Hurley (Michael Keaton), another gem of an actor who ended up in a bland movie. The time we see the duo meet is the time you begin to see the true kiddish colors of American Assassin movie.

American Assassin movie still

When the dialogues  become as childish as this:

If you and I go hand to hand you could probably figure out inside 20 seconds whether I have what it takes to make it through your selection process. So what do you say?

Then the training begins which seems to be as absurd as failing to use the insanely gifted fighting skills of Scott Adkins. He plays Victor, a fellow teammate who gets killed even before we could see him in action. Wasn’t this supposed to be an action film? Then why not use available resources, Michael Cuesta?

Taylor Kitsch as Ghost

As Orion trains the already talented Mitch with a couple of cliches like this:

He is not ready.

There’s a villain wading through covert deals trying to get all nuclear.

Ghost played by Taylor Kitsch is our villain for the movie, who we find out once was trained by Hurley himself. We see him stealing Plutonium and then disappearing into the crowd.

Hurley’s team goes into action on a mission to intercept the buyer but the whole plan goes kaput with Ghost’s intervention. But Mitch, the badass hero he is supposed to be, doesn’t follow orders and chases the buyer to his apartment, and retrieves his laptop after a brief fight. With the information on the laptop, CIA figures out that Ghost needs a nuclear physicist to turn the plutonium into a nuclear weapon.

Rome

The mission then switches to Rome as the team gets made by Ghost, but Hurley comes in just the nick of time to save the team. However, Ghost manages to escape.

still of Annika and Mitch from American Assassin

Mitch figures out his companion agent Annika to be an Iranian intelligence agent and captures her. She later explains that she was a part of an Iranian faction trying to stop nuclear material to change hands.

Hurley, meanwhile, is meeting with an Iranian contact of his. A guy who was Annika’s father too. The latter gets shot as Hurley is captured by Ghost.

The Final Volley

Mitch helps Annika to escape and asks her help to find the whereabouts of Ghost. Hurley is tortured by Ghost as he arms the nuke. Mitch arrives into the tunnels. A fight ensues. Annika gets killed as Ghost escapes on a boat.

Hurley figures out Ghost’s intentions to use the nuke against the US Navy’s Sixth Fleet. Mitch, the hero, then fights Ghost killing him in the process, and then flying away in a helicopter as the nuke explodes in the sea.

The damage is reduced considerably with the nuke jettison as the fleet goes on to carry on the nuclear decontamination protocol.

As an epilogue we see Hurley recovering as Irene pays him a visit in the hospital. They talk about the whereabouts of Mitch as the TV in the backdrop implies Iranian hardliners’ sure-shot win in the elections. Later we see the hardliners’ leader entering the elevator as Mitch smiles at him. The movie shuts to a closing elevator.

You can order American Assassin from here:

The Good and the Bad

One of the good things about the movie is hands down, Dylan O’ Brien. Never for a second do we find him letting his guard down. He doesn’t flinch while he acts. It is just that his dialogues were too cocky that made everything sound stupid. Michael Keaton is good too. He stretches the movie for a considerable amount of time as a trainer but the fact that a guy like Mitch always does something defiant makes his character appear really insignificant.

The screenplay has nothing out of the box in it or even something that forces you to think. It isn’t cleverly written. There isn’t even a morsel of good dialogues for us to feast on.

Then there is that absence of energy you feel at all times. Stunts aren’t really eye-popping or even close to something that will make your heart stop. The only visually appealing and attractive scene is holed up at the very end where we see the Nuclear Bomb actually exploding, and its titanic wave uprooting masts from ships. That’s the only scene I think that might force you to dilate your eyes in the entire flick.

The Final Verdict

American Assassins story has nothing new to offer. Things are quite cliched if you watch a lot of action movies. There are tons of movies out there made on similar lines. The best parts of the flick are located at the starting and the ending. While Dylan delivers a great performance, its poor preparation makes it really insipid.

In short, there is just too much of child written on it.

Check out other reviews of Dylan O’ Brien movies.

Check out the trailer of American Assassin Movie here:

Spider-Man Homecoming Review (2017) | Importance of Being Ready

Spider-Man Homecoming portrays a very realistic view of how our friendly neighborhood Spiderman should be like. He is vulnerable because he is just a kid. He is trying to make his mark to be recognized as one of the big ones (Avengers) and yet he has so much to learn. Spider-Man Homecoming is like that realization of Spiderman about himself, his powers, his capabilities and his limitations. He faces danger head on and narrowly escapes death so many times, that it has him doubting his abilities. And it’s a good thing for his character that’s trying to become something huge.

For those who have already watched Captain America: Civil War movie they know how effortless he had made it all seem in the flick. It was almost like Spidey could beat anyone any day. And that’s probably what he was thinking too. He became smug, too confident of his powers, and in that desperation started to get ahead of himself. To be given an opportunity to tag shoulders against the elite that was really something, but to consider yourself worthy of a seat alongside, now that was too much for a teen to ask.

The movie is all about a kid trying to prove himself that he is something more, and that he be considered for future missions since he could handle it. But he faces one of the most challenging villains in the form of Vulture (Michael Keaton) who makes him believe that he isn’t yet ready for it. That forms the real basis of the tale of Spider-Man Homecoming.

Direction of Spider-Man Homecoming

The direction of Jon Watts is pretty cool and is on the lines of all Marvel movies. It is subtle at many occasions, cuts in at just the right time to keep the story chugging forward. The best part is that unlike The Amazing Spider-Man series it doesn’t rush into anything. It shows us just one rad villain, letting us retain as much focus as we want. Jon Watts lets us connect all the dots with the Avengers and Civil War so as to let us know that Spidey era was all along happening alongside. He chooses to show some of the bits cleverly using Spidey’s very own personal camera. It is very satisfying to watch.

The screenplay is brilliantly penned and there is humour almost at every corner. Jon makes sure you thoroughly enjoy the flick and all of its other aspects. He ropes in a fun character Ned (Jacob Batalon) as a sidekick making the Spidey story very much relatable.

Tom Holland as Spidey

Tom Holland absolutely nails Spiderman. People might have come to know him when he bagged his first Spidey project, but I remember him playing the kid in The Impossible. And he played his part so convincingly that I knew he was going to climb the ladder to success real quick. And lo, he is already at the peak of his career at such a young age.

still from Spider-Man Homecoming movie

His acting prowess is a delight to watch. He puts the word “amazing” in the Spider-Man owing to his perfect size, a mouthy mouth and a perfect physique. Holland is also brimming with emotions and you can see them ooze out whenever something huge is about to go down. He is a wonderful actor and has a bright career ahead. There’s not a morsel of doubt there.

Michael Keaton as Vulture (Spoilers Ahead)

It was a great decision to cast Michael Keaton as the infamous villain Vulture. He proves himself really worthy in those bird shoes yet again. He is a great actor who makes every act really convincing to watch. His character’s introduction is done pretty smartly. We are shown that he is a circumstantial bad guy. His operation is cut off when Stark’s DODC shows up at his gates taking away his job leaving him in a huge debt. He ends up selling Chitauri technology to create weapons of mass destruction and selling them on the black market to earn a livelihood. Eight years later we see him reeking of villainy as the badass Vulture.

Marvel is fond of stories that poke a finger at the politics and the government that create villains out of simple men. It is a beautiful satire that leaves us wondering on how a huge disaster could have been avoided in the first place. Also, it is a slap in the face of all those high-seated personnel who create monsters out of men. It only compels us to be more considerate and humane towards each other.

In the end, we see him protecting Spiderman’s true identity that shows us that the good still pervades in him.

If I knew who he was, he’d already be dead.

The Iron Man Angle

There is just the right amount of Iron Man in Spider-Man Homecoming to make you understand the importance of responsibility and why Iron Man thinks that it is crucial for Peter Parker to complete his education. He drops in more than once to save his ass, and teaches him life’s valuable lessons by being a fatherly figure.

If you are nothing without the suit, then you shouldn’t have it.

Even though Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) doesn’t act like one he is an idol to Peter. Peter looks up to him a lot. Even though nobody says it loud and clear, “with great power comes great responsibility” it is flung around in situational plots. A job beautifully performed by the writers.

still of tony stark and peter parker in spiderman homecoming

Eventually, when Tony is immensely impressed by Peter for capturing Vulture single-handedly, he wishes to introduce him as an Avenger. But Peter turns him down realizing that he isn’t ready yet. And we see it throughout the movie on how many times he screws up.

There are tons of times he narrowly escapes death. He even skips ahead on his Suit lessons and ends up paying the price. It is this realization that makes him understand the importance of “one step at a time”. It is overwhelming for any man to directly skip to the final lesson because he wouldn’t be prepared for surprises. And no one has succeeded ever by going unprepared.

Spidey finally understands why it is important for him to be “ready”, and focus on his studies to take baby steps into the men’s world.

You can order Spider-Man: Homecoming from here:

The Million Dollar Debate

If you would notice closely you would realize Spider-Man got his ass kicked throughout the movie. There was hardly a time when he didn’t screw up. Now that’s a weird idea for a superhero even though how sick his moves were or how cool he appeared in action, it complements the story beautifully. Besides, it was never about him being dope and not making mistakes, the movie was entirely about him making mistakes. So that he understands the value of being truly “ready”.

Nevertheless, we see the villain kicking his ass too much throughout. The final fight leaves you with a sour taste because it ends so quickly, too quickly for a boss fight. Also, figuring out his true identity wasn’t at all tough for Vulture which kind of poses a question why it is hard for people to figure out Superman‘s true identity even though the bloke just wears specs.

The way the movie ends opens a jar of villains waiting to be unleashed at the poor lad. The topmost contender is Mac Gargan. Let’s wait and watch!

The Final Verdict

Spider-Man Homecoming is brilliantly written and directed. Tom Holland simply takes it to a whole new level. With MCU trying to spin related webs to keep all the dots connected, watching this flick becomes even more exciting. With him signing 6 MCU movies the future of Spidey looks all the very more bright. Can’t wait to watch more of him.

Check out the trailer of Spider-Man: Homecoming here:

The Founder Movie Review (2017) | The Gruesome McDonald’s Story

The Founder movie jumps into the detailing of how one of the most successful American dreams was built, pampered and then snatched. Did you ever stop to think that McBurger you have been devouring voraciously was once greased in dreams, fried in resilience and then eventually toppled over by a spatula of greed? That a man named Ray Kroc coveted for someone else’s dream, and then swept it away from right under their nose. No! You just want to eat that burger!

It is a biography of the journey of McDonald’s and the big role Ray Kroc plays to make it into this humongous fast food chain. But his path to success would repulse you because it plays unfair games.

Plot of the Founder Movie (Spoilers)

The Founder movie begins with Kroc trying to sell his Milkshake Makers always pushing for that one shot that would change his destiny. Always on the lookout for that big thing! That’s when he comes across the place that were to change his life forever.

A small diner serves extraordinary burgers and amazingly fast too. He gets smitten with their idea of serving food so fast and decides to pay the owners a visit. McDonald’s is run by Maurice McDonald portrayed by John Carroll Lynch and Richard McDonald played by Nick Offerman. They let him in on their secret and tell him how they run things. It’s one of the cardinal stories of how McDonald’s was dreamt and built from scratch. It is beautifully run, a tad lengthy to be honest, but crucial given the theme of the flick. You can sense how much energy, time and effort was spent in their moulding of a dream.

image of Nick Offerman and John Carroll Lynch in The Founder Movie

When that bit gets over, we see Kroc rooting for them, beseeching them to run a franchise. When they tell him they  tried and failed at it miserably, he reassures them that this time they won’t. With that he signs a contract with them, and expands. The expansion rakes in more moolah and suddenly he is at the top of the world. The franchise grows however so does the dispute between Kroc and the McDonald’s. The former used to earn a meagre percentage off the benefits reaped in, which forces him to consult someone who changes his life. In comes Harry J. Sonneborn played by B. J. Novak who flings an idea that makes a wolf out of Kroc.

The Real Estate Bolster

The ravenous Kroc as suggested by Harry starts buying chunks of land by creating his own company thereby not falling under the radar of the brothers. Thus the real money begins to flow as he keeps expanding the company all over states. He names the company “The McDonald’s Corporation” without consulting the brethren and rips them off paying them 1.35 millions each taking the reins of the company entirely in his hands. He shakes on 1% of future earnings to be given to them as well however doesn’t sign on it.

With that he announces himself as the “Founder” justifying the titular movie name, gloating his win with a trophy wife Joan Smith played by Linda Cardellini by his side, who he steals away from one of his business associates Rollie Smith played by Patrick Wilson.

We see his gradual decline into this monstrous image that we expected him to be the opposite of. Business is a vile thing. It creates fiends out of human beings. That’s what the Founder proves to. The final moments see the brothers changing the name of their diner as per the contract. It’s a sad sight watching their dream tumble down like that. Also since that 1% was never actually written down in a contract, they are never really paid for it as well.

The Unscrupulous Precinct

When you try to pay attention to what Ray Kroc was all about, you cannot really blame him for what he did. He was a businessman who tasted success. He abided by the laws of business wherein he was ready to take desperate measures to stay at the top. In his own words:

“If I saw a competitor drowning, I’d shove a hose down his throat.”

If you were to justify his decisions, he seems right on a lot of points. McDonald’s lacked vision until Ray Kroc walked in. If it weren’t for him, people all across the globe might not even have heard about it. So even though his steps seemed kind of desperate and immoral, ultimately it helped in getting the job done.

But then again, he brought the original brothers to his knees which makes him demonic in a way. Building an empire by stepping on someone’s chest. It is unscrupulous of any human being to do such an inhumane act, and that’s why you can’t really come to terms with it too.

I am afraid the movie shows Ray Kroc in a little bit of bad light, but that’s the beauty of John Lee Hancock‘s project. It leaves us with questions on what we should call fair, and what not.

You can order the Founder movie here:

Screenplay and Drama

The movie scores a tad low in the drama front. The primary reason for that being that half of the time you are made to believe that it’s actually comical. But what’s happening is far more grave. It is the brothers Mac and Dick that make it sound like that, but slowly the movie steps into ghastly waters when things start looking up for Ray. With the tone of the flick it was hard to tell however.

Laura Dern is shown in a bleak light, with dramatic vibes missing in her character of Ethel Kroc. It is sad how Ray picks her out of his life and throws her away like dirt.

Michael Keaton as Ray Kroc in The founder movie

Screenplay isn’t that exciting either except for cliches of success going on in the backdrop that are actually pretty great. The most heartfelt moment of the movie however stays in the struggling moments of Ray when he bends down to pick a fistful of sand, and with all his heart says,

“Just be right this one time. One time.”

It makes his character instantly relatable. All those dreamers who are struggling in life, waiting for their big moment to hit them, for their right decision to happen, would empathize profusely with his state of mind.

The flick might be vexing for some who are not used to watching lengthy biographies. This is however for the visionaries, and those who wish to grasp what really goes down in a business, and also for those who wish to know the actual story behind McDonald’s fame.

The Final Verdict

The Founder movie stays uplifted owing to Michael Keaton‘s mesmerizing performance as Ray Kroc. You can see him transpire into a wicked businessman gradually which suits his persona perfectly. It is a rip off for the original owners, a story that a lot of people don’t know about. Hence, if you wish to know how it all came into existence, whether it was an egg or a hen that led the pack, this movie should not be missed for the world.

Check out the trailer of The Founder Movie here:

 

Spotlight Review (2015)

An eye-opener! Spotlight throws spotlight on the ugly side of faith. An issue lodged so profusely in the streams of religion that it goes either unnoticed or remains unlit. Plot: A team of reporters work conscientiously to bring child abuse by priests into the forefront by illuminating the dark hollows of the ugly tactics of the church.

The movie addresses the issue slyly and then dives into it fully fledged owing to the inclusion of a new concerned editor Marty Baron, played superbly by Liev Schreiber whose words make a difference and reignite the died out flame of Walter Robby Robinson (Michael Keaton) who along with his meticulous and diligent team rush in to address the elephant in the room. Sacha Pfeiffer (Rachel McAdams) and Matt Carroll (Brian d’Arcy James) are both outstanding. They look forever engaged in their pursuit, whilst Mark Ruffalo as Mike Rezendes can’t be ignored. Mark gets into the skin of Mike and creates a new persona altogether, an earnest committed fella who would stop at nothing to nail the molesters. It is almost as he disappears into that stream of acting. Watch him lose it like a maniac!

There are other brilliant characters in the movie that can’t be left uncredited owing to their enthralling acting. Like that of John Slattery as Ben Bradlee, Jr. who fits into the bossy shoes pretty great. Also, Billy Crudup, Stanley Tucci and Jamey Sheridan who were all mesmerizing in their little fleeting acts.

Screenplay of the movie is well written. Becomes very thoughtful at times. The work the people do in the flick will make you feel worthless. So, crucial bringing issues in the dark to the front page! They deserve an ovation.

“That’s why I never got married. I am too busy. What I do is too important.”

The aforementioned is said by Mitchell Garabedian played brilliantly by Stanley Tucci. You could almost read how concerned and thoughtful the guy is from his looks.

Spotlight comes up with a beautiful plot of mind-boggling revelations that will make you hate the religious conventions that hide the truth. It is a dead on collision between the media and the system, which remarkably addresses the church functioning snags. To say that the issue just circles around church would be an understatement. It is a global phenomena, something so ugly that it hardly makes news. This flick beats the odds to come up a victor. Kudos to the thoughtful media on this one!

SPOILERS AHEAD:

Spotlight begins with a hushed conversation and a free priest getting away with a horrendous crime. The prologue is reflective of how untouched and unscathed they feel under the aegis of their religious fallacy. How unfazed they feel around the law! Believing they are closer to God they could get away with anything! The perpetrator walks on to his car, escorted by a bigger authority from the Church as the helpless law (a policeman) watches their car drive through a mist of smoke into the oblivion.

It delves deep into some outstanding reporting too which is well captured by Tom McCarthy that shows us how extraordinary the efforts of Boston Globe reporters really were in bringing out the issue at hand into the limelight. The final result will gratify you and if you are the empathizing kind, you will feel the cold yet comforting gaze of justice from the end credits.

The world’s full of sexual predators. They could be masked as priests too. To look the other way is not the solution. If it is happening in your corridors, speak up. Crime’s after all a crime. Something needs to be done or the world will go blind.

Birdman: Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) Review (2014) | Genius

Exhilarating! Extraordinary performances! Birdman: Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) is an outstanding flick that tries to capture the life of a washed up actor, his continuous battle to prove his mettle in the acting world once again. Michael Keaton, the protagonist plays a character that is miffed by his psychotic split persona, in his endeavour to revive and in the process, get a hold of himself.

Plot of Birdman: Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s riveting drama isn’t just about a lost actor who is trying to find himself through a Broadway play but is also about a broken man trying to justify his relevance to the world. Birdman is an extremely well written dramatic account of Riggan’s life, his tattered relationships, his dream to make it big once again and the alter-ego that literally rules over him. 

still of michael keaton in birdman movie

Direction

Inarittu’s direction is a beauty as he merges several frames subtly to project a continuous shot. The whole movie seems like it has been shot in a single take, and that illusion is worth an ovation. The director also gorgeously masters every frame’s timing quotient. Every act starts with a proper follow through of a character only getting intercepted when it’s someone else’s queue. The flow and rhythm of the movie is simply splendid. 

There is something beautiful about Birdman’s story. The ploy is brilliantly narrated through the messed up head of Riggan with glimpses from his past debacles, screenplay that makes you brood that often cross over for emphasis, an ever ending take that goes on till the climax, and a conclusion that loosely dangles for intense interpretation. Everything has been wrapped up beautifully by an audacious and dark voice in his head, the one big thing he ever was – Birdman, one big success from the past that keeps haunting him, telling him he isn’t dead and that he flies above the meaningless. 

Breaking Birdman Down

With an imaginary backdrop working along with the protagonist, you already know that you are in for a fantasy-world. What is crucial is that you pay attention. There are minute subtle hints that will blow your mind away while trying to connect the dots. 

If we overlook the mind boggling ending for a while, still we are left with some exceptional drama pieces like when Sam speaks up to her father and shatters him with cold, when Riggan takes on a famous NYT critic in a bar and excellent conversations between Mike and Sam and Lesley’s remorse. Things become intense owing to bits of psychotic drama as Riggan inches towards insanity. The climax of the movie leaves you spell bound and is deliberately left open for interpretation.

Final Epilogue Explained (Spoilers)

If you have not seen the movie, please stop reading at once. But if you have, the ending is sure to raise a dozen doubts in your head. 

The flick ends in a surreal epilogue with Riggan jumping out of the window, and Sam reacting happily to her Father’s ‘flying’ act. The one theory that I would like to believe but not stick to is Riggan’s death after he shot himself during the theater act. Reasons that reassure me of this:

  • The plot was one continuous single take but the continuity breaks for the first time right after Riggan shoots himself.
  • In the hospital when Jake switches on the TV it showed people lighting candles for him. You don’t do that for a person who is alive. Du-uh dead! 
  • The hospital scene was probably the next day right after the incident. Sam bringing flowers for him could be at his funeral. This justified by his inability to smell them. His funeral again supported by the fact that her wife was wearing a black dress. 

Riggan jumping out of the window could be a symbolism of his soul transcending, as he finally rejects Birdman to be his only way to stardom. Sam’s smile in the end could be her acceptance of her father’s feat as a true hero.

Contradicting the Above Theory

What contrasts the above ‘dead’ theory greatly is the fact that there were several past failed suicidal endeavors by Riggan which have been subtly inserted into the screenplay. Lesley responding to Ralph once: “He shot himself in the mouth. But he screwed that up, too.” The Jellyfish story goes on to show how Riggan was unsuccessful in killing himself in the past. So shooting the nose seems plausible. Then it takes us again to the hospital part. Taking this theory ahead on the vanguard, we can say that the imagination of Riggan once again begins right from the part he decides to take off the bandages and the rest that follows is once again the imagination bit. In the end he flew fantastically and figuratively with an acknowledgment sign from her daughter. This seals the deal too.

Whatever the case might have been Birdman is truly a rare feat that must be celebrated. Go ahead and watch this movie if you wish to visit some avant-garde style of film-making.

Check out the trailer of Birdman movie here: