The promise of '3 Days to Kill': If Kevin Costner can assassinate a laundry list of people in three days, he'll receive the antidote to his terminal illness. The reality of '3 Days to Kill': If Kevin Costner can assassinate an indeterminable amount of people over an indeterminable amount of time while juggling quality time with his estranged daughter, then he'll continue being given treatment to his terminal illness, which he has been receiving since the beginning of the movie. For those who thought 'Taken' needed more filler, this movie.
Casey Affleck loves talking about movies, performance, filmmaking and story. He doesn't love how those conversations can be steered towards and twisted into portraits of his personal life, where gossip about his brother Ben Affleck and childhood friend Matt Damon wind up stealing the momentum of whatever project he's promoting. “Celebrity” often interferes with “actor” and, judging from his tone, it bugs the hell out of Affleck.
Luckily, for those aware enough to appreciate it, Affleck's career offers an abundance of meaty, provocative work worth talking about. The Oscar-nominated actor's recent credits include 'Ain't Them Body Saints,' 'The Killer Inside Me,' 'ParaNorman,' 'Gone Baby Gone,' and 'The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.' His latest, 'Out of the Furnace,' continues Affleck's trend of dissecting modern men as they stumble the throes of classic, dramatic storytelling. His character Rodney is an Iraq war vet struggling in the impoverished Rust Belt. To make ends meet, he bare-knuckle boxes — a hobby that causes friction with his brother (Christian Bale), and puts him and his boss (Willem Dafoe) in the crosshairs of a local gangster (Woody Harrelson). An implosion is imminent from the first time we see Affleck step on screen as Rodney.
I sat down with Affleck to talk 'Out of the Furnace' and the misconceptions that emerge from the never-ending maelstrom of gossip. Which eventually lead us to the actor's directorial debut, 'I'm Still Here,' the Joaquin Phoenix moc-doc that stands as one of the most under-appreciated films of the past decade.
A successful Jason Statham film requires a limited amount of cinematic resources: a stunt budget, a cartoon villain, a script with peppered with goons to punch in the face, and a Jason Statham. Hire a director who has streamed at least three Statham action movies off Netflix to cobble together a thin plot and — boom! — entertainment.
Perhaps because Oscar-nominated screenwriter/painter Sylvester Stallone took on writing duties, Statham's latest film, 'Homefront,' dares to opt out of the formula in favor of a character-driven crime story. A novel idea, but unfortunately, this film is a bore. Like Stallone's own' Bullet to the Head,' 'Homefront' believes it's cut from the same cloth as Walter Hill's 'Southern Comfort,' but it can barely muster up the thrills of an episode of 'MacGuyver.'
Director Nancy Meyers ('Somethings Gotta Give,' 'It's Complicated') is criticized for writing and directing movies tailor made for upper-middle class white people. They're not bad, simply insidious for painting a fantasy world of luxury where the biggest challenges become surviving family vacations in mansion-sized summer homes. Bougie.
Meyers might take less flack if Hollywood made an attempt to diversify in the slightest. “Minorities” (in quotes because they're just as dominant and important to the success of the entertainment industry and country as the “majority”) deserve their schmaltzy, shiny, melodramadies too, and they stand to be watchable. 'The Best Man Holiday' is the answer to this conundrum.
“What can't Justin Timberlake do?” said the internet after the performer dominated 2013 with the release of two albums, a musical turn in Cannes favorite 'Inside Llewyn Davis,' and a handful of Jimmy Fallon late-night sketches that all went viral. 'Runner Runner' suggests there's really one thing: convince us he's anyone but Timberlake.
'Lincoln Lawyer' director Brad Furman directs the middling thriller, another gambling-infused escapade from 'Rounders' writers Brian Koppelman and David Levien that packs the integrity of their previous efforts without any spark. The writing duo can talk the poker talk, this time immersing their script in the seedy world of online betting. Their leading man can't keep up.
Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are serious blokes. Their new movie, 'The World's End,' acts as the finale of the informal "Cornetto" trilogy and once again partners the 'Shaun of the Dead' and 'Hot Fuzz' pair with director Edgar Wright. And while it's a comedy in the vein of those two films, it's tackling material that's significantly more mature than anything they have done before. Alcoholism, drug addiction, the deadliness of adult immaturity, all baked into the mold of a '70s sci-fi allegory — 'The World's End' walks a tightrope between poking fun and bathing in misery. The combination is exhilarating.
That's the appeal to Pegg, who co-wrote the film with Wright, and Frost, who had a great deal of say when it came to the film's evolution. In person, the duo bounce just as quickly between introspection and cracking wise as 'The World's End.' They're not in the business of cheap laughs. They make films and they're considerate of the artistic potential. Even a movie with killer robots can say something, and they're eager to say it.
I sat down with Pegg and Frost to talk 'The World's End,' why the movie has been floating around since 'Hot Fuzz' hit theaters, what they felt they owed fans years later, and why it might be awhile until we see them together again. No, there won't be anymore 'Spaced' (but they aren't afraid of speculating what happened to their TV counterparts).
While explaining his business model to the soon-to-be corporate spy Adam Cassidy (Liam Hemsworth), tech magnate Nicolas Wyatt (Gary Oldman) relays a timeless adage: "Good artists copy. Great artists steal." That puts 'Paranoia' director Robert Luketic somewhere between the two superlatives, constructing his smart phone-enabled thriller out of every existing blueprint in history while winding up with an entertaining, functional finished product. The twists are inevitable, the turns come from a mile away, but a surprisingly charming and humble Hemsworth (no brooding 'Hunger Games' machismo here) becomes a reliable interface for the old mechanics. It makes sense to pair him with the aging Harrison Ford — if Hemsworth was around in the '70s, the two would be competing for all the same roles.
Reverence for comic creator Mark Millar runs through the veins of 'Kick-Ass 2.' The affection is often on the nose: One minute, crime fighting high schooler Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) is seen in front of a poster for Millar's 'American Jesus.' In a later flashback, his Dad hangs a piece of 'Superior' art on Dave's wall. The tips of a the hat are a blockade for writer/director Jeff Wadlow, whose passion for Millar's source material disables him from streamlining 'Kick-Ass 2' into a functional action movie.
There are too many moving parts, from Kick-Ass' attempts to form a DIY Justice League, to vengeful mob son Chris D'Amico's (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) emergence into New York's first supervillain, to the awkward high school story of Hit-Girl (Chloe Moretz). Balancing the schizophrenic story is a chore for Wadlow and the audience, and yet 'Kick-Ass 2' still manages to deliver a smattering of fun, living up to the tonal roller coaster ride of the original.
'Lee Daniels' The Butler' is an eight-course meal of movies served all at once. The entree is a searing racial drama, haunting in its depiction of America's stained history. The other seven courses, delivered without grace, flatten the taste. Fine ingredients — a rousing ensemble and sporadically sharp script — can't make up for a cook's sloppy work. 'The Butler' is a mishmash of prestige qualifiers, unfit to dish out, but plated nonetheless.
'RED 2' is faithful to 2010's 'RED' in that it makes very little sense and maximizes the talent on display. Entertaining without long-lasting satisfaction (seriously, does anyone remember what happened in 'Red' other than Helen Mirren busting up bad guys?). Mirren, Bruce Willis, and John Malkovich return as RED — Retired Extremely Dangerous — operatives, trained assassins who balance daily life with random acts of spy work. Director Dean Parisot ('Galaxy Quest') reaps every bit fun he can out of the concept, pushing Willis harder than he's worked in the last five years. Mirren busting up bad guys is still the highlight, but the sequel easily surpasses its predecessor in terms of pure enjoyment.