Tag Archives: Don Cheadle

[Review] – Flight

10 Nov

Title: Flight
Year: 2012
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Writer: John Gatins
Starring: Denzel Washington, Don Cheadle, Kelly Reilly, John Goodman, Bruce Greenwood, Melissa Leo, Brian Geraghty
MPAA Rating: R, drug and alcohol abuse, language, sexuality/nudity and an intense action sequence
Runtime: 138 min
IMDb Rating: 7.7
Rotten Tomatoes: 76%
Metacritic: 76

We had heard a lot of things about Flight before actually seeing it. For one thing, it marked the return to live-action filmmaking of Robert Zemeckis, territory that he hadn’t visited since 2000 when he directed Cast Away. Since then he’s been busy tinkering with his beloved motion-capture technology in The Polar Express, Beowulf and A Christmas Carol. So, getting the guy who had given us not only Cast Away, but Back to the Future and Forrest Gump back to making what he made best was already an event of note.

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[Trailer] – Iron Man 3

23 Oct

The first trailer for Iron Man 3 has just been released, and it looks damn good. Check it out below.

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[Trailer] – Flight

7 Jun

Watch the first trailer for Flight, the new film starring Denzel Washington, after the cut.

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The Guard

24 Aug

Title: The Guard
Year: 
2011
Director: 
John Michael McDonagh
Writer: John Michael McDonagh
Starring: 
Brendan Gleeson, Don Cheadle, Liam Cunningham, David Wilmot, Mark Strong
MPAA Rating: 
R, pervasive language, some violence, drug material and sexual content
Runtime: 
96 min
Major Awards: –

IMDb Rating: 
7.8
Rotten Tomatoes: 
95%

 

In Bruges was my fourth favorite film of all 2008 (behind only, in order, The Wrestler, Synechdoche, New York and The Dark Knight), it was a truly masterful film, written and directed by the insanely genius playwright Martin McDonagh, it boasted probably one of the best screenplays of the past decade, full of sensational one-liners and situations and a love for perfectly used curse words, and a couple of superb performances by Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson. I have recommended that film to pretty much everyone I’ve had the chance to, and more often the not they thank me like crazy for it. Now, that undying love I have towards In Bruges is what embedded in me some pretty high expectations for The Guard, a film produced by Mr. McDonagh and written and directed by his brother John Michael McDonagh, and that also had Mr. Gleeson in a starring role and that looked to be a cousin to In Bruges insofar as it seemed to be another masterful black comedy with all kinds of perfect uses of the word “fuck” in great Irish accents.

Now, The Guard ultimately really wasn’t as amazing as In Bruges was over three years ago, but it’s still just so tremendously dark and witty, with all of these terrific crime sequences punctuated by a razor sharp comedy that make you quickly realize this has the McDonagh gene pool all over it, and that’s something I really can’t get enough of. And, really, Mr. Gleeson is a damn fine actor, and he’s becoming a McDonagh staple now it seems after starring in In Bruges and his turn in Six Shooter, Martin McDonagh’s Oscar-winning short film from 2004, but yeah, this guy is just a fantastic actor who just knows how to own a role, his body becomes as much part of a character as the lines and circumstances, he really gets in it, and sells the role to you. And in here he stars as Sergeant Gerry Boyle a garda who’s in charge of patrolling Connemara, a district of the west coast of Ireland.

Boyle is this policeman who we learn all we need to know about in the opening scene, as he witnesses a high-speed crash on a coastal road and then rapidly proceeds to check the victim’s clothes for drugs he can then transfer to his own pockets. This is the sort of law enforcer Boyle is, he gets high on stashes of criminals, he orders up prostitutes in his day off, not because he’s a bad guy, but because in such a quiet town there’s really not a lot of crime to go around, and he needs something to cut the monotony of his life with. And that whole boredom makes the events of the next day pop out even more, as Boyle and another young police officer find a the body of a young man with a bullet in his head and the number “5 1/2” smeared in his blood on the adjoining wall. The young officer says it’s probably a serial killer who only half-killed one of his victims (showing that in Connemara police officers probably learn most of their craft from films) but in fact it’s something bigger, a crime wave tied to a drug ring operation through the area that the FBI is actually investigating. And to coordinate the investigation with the local authorities the FBI sends over Agent Wendell Everett, played by Don Cheadle.

Mr. Cheadle by the way is another seriously dependable actor who has also been quite terrific in past roles, and his casting in this film is as much a stroke of genius as Mr. Gleeson’s, because those two really couldn’t be more different from each other, and that’s the whole point of this film. You see, for one, Boyle doesn’t want someone partnering with him, he drinks on the job and he fears that will keep him from that, not to mention that the guy, if not a racist, is certainly incredibly naïve about black people, and has no sensible tact when approaching Everett whatsoever, his opinion of him being based apparently on whatever he has heard about black people on stereotypical TV shows.

And it’s really great what Mr. McDonagh does with the whole culture clash, he makes fun of the local people, for sure, makes them seem ignorant, but also uses them to make fun of Mr. Cheadle’s character, who can’t really move forward with the investigation of his own because the locals don’t want to speak English to him and instead reply in Gaelic. That’s what pushes him to team up with Boyle, a man who says racism is part of his culture, and that’s really when The Guard, as good as Mr. Cheadle is, really becomes a Brendan Gleeson show. The way Mr. Gleeson plays Boyle is just sheer perfection, his comments, coming from a splendid script, are delivered by him in a way that have you doubting if Boyle is just this really dumb and ignorant guy, as they come with enough hints of wit that you have to think that maybe he’s the most intelligent guy in the room and the only one who really knows what the hell he’s doing.

The film has a lot of formulaic elements, that’s for sure, good cop/bad cop, a guy who’s out of his element, a relationship that didn’t want to happen in the first place, those are all familiar themes in these kind of movies, but the script makes all the familiar things seem fresh. Seriously, this is just really awesome writing which often has characters engaging in a conversation that’s just so wonderfully done and full of black humor delivered by some of the very best that’s impossible to look away. Again, this really isn’t as great as In Bruges, but it’s still a remarkably good film, you just have to sit back enjoy and prepare yourself to laugh out loud many times as Brendan Gleeson shows you how it’s done.

Grade: A-

Iron Man 2

15 Jul

Title: Iron Man 2
Year: 2010
Director: Jon Favreau
Writer: Justin Theroux, based on the comic book by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Don Heck and Jack Kirby
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Scarlett Johansson, Mickey Rourke, Sam Rockwell, Samuel L. Jackson, Jon Favreau, John Slattery, Gary Shandling, Paul Bettany, Clark Gregg
MPAA Rating: PG-13, sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence, and some language
Runtime: 124 min
Major Awards:
IMDb Rating: 7.4
Rotten Tomatoes: 73%

On April 29th I went to the 10.30 showing of Iron Man 2, excited I was getting to see it a whole week before it came out in the U.S. and excited because it really was one of the films I was the most anxious to see this whole year, because, after all, the first Iron Man had been a super cool movie, had started the comeback trail for Robert Downey Jr. and had proven to be not only seriously fun, but also seriously good. Now, while the sequel is still quite good, especially if you like your action sequences by the ton, it’s not as great as the first one was, maybe because we’ve seen it before and it doesn’t feel as fresh, maybe because Terrence Howard was better in the Rhodey role, I don’t know, but still, this one delivers as a great action blockbuster, and I liked it.

What’s especially good about this one, as it was in the first one, is Mr. Downey Jr., he really is a terrific actor, and as Tony Stark more than as Iron Man in this one he makes this one go, superhero films don’t necessarily need good performances, but when they have them it means you’ll remember them, and you will definitely remember him in this one. As we knew from the end of the last film, Tony Stark came out of the superhero closet and told the world he was Iron Man, and this film starts where it left off, and Tony is cockier than ever, and Downey kills it in that scene at his court date, and he kills it when Tony’s alone as well, because Tony Stark is dying in this one, and that’s Iron Man’s kryptonite, his heart is about to go off.

Gwyneth Paltrow returns as Pepper Potts, and I’m a huge fan of Ms. Paltrow (or Mrs. Martin, whichever you prefer), and I really like her in this franchise as well, and her character is running Stark Industries now, and she is running Stark Expo where we see the celebrity Iron Man has acquired, and where we meet the second villain we have, who would be Justin Hammer, another mogul who’s Stark’s rival and wants to build an army of Iron Men to bring him down, the first villain we saw was Senator Stern, whom we met in the aforementioned court scene, who wants to pressure Tony into making Iron Man available for the Department of Defense. Our third and final rival would be Ivan Vanko, the Mickey Rourke character who is a Russian and has a personal vendetta against Tony’s father and is recruited by Hammer, those two, Rockwell and Rourke, give pretty solid performances, not Oscar-worthy or Downey-like, but solid performances because they do what the role requires them to do, and they do it extremely well.

On the good side we have Nick Fury, the character Marvel has signed Samuel L. Jackson to play on nine films, and he is featured more prominently in this one as the leader of S.H.I.E.L.D. and we also have Black Widow, played by an extremely sexy Scarlett Johansson, and of course Rhodey, the controversial role in the film because Terrence Howard, the actor who played in the first was replaced by Don Cheadle, the actor transition is smooth though, but as you may be thinking just by reading this review, this seems to be an awful lot of characters, bad and good.

And that to me was the bad thing about Iron Man 2, not the excess of action, because this is an action movie, plus the CGI was remarkably great, but the fact that there were so many characters and each one of them with their own little subplot (Russian tough life, business envy, superhero supergroup) made it hard to cram it up all into one film without losing stuff, and it lost a bit of substance, the script is as good as it could be considering that amount of characters, Justin Theroux was recommended to Favreau after he worked with Downey Jr. in Tropic Thunder, and the direction is pretty damn solid in this one, too.

But this is an incredibly well-done sequel, and one can’t really expect all superhero sequels to be The Dark Knight, in fact, one can’t expect any film, superhero-themed or not, sequel or not, to be that film because it’s just too damn good, but still, this is a great sequel, it provides everything it should, and people will definitely knock it down because it’s not as great as the first one, but it has good direction and a still unbelievably cool and sublime Robert Downey Jr. in the lead role.

Grade: B+

Brooklyn's Finest

7 Apr

Title: Brooklyn’s Finest
Year: 2009
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Writer: Michael C. Martin
Starring: Richard Gere, Don Cheadle, Ethan Hawke, Wesley Snipes, Vicent D’Onofrio, Ellen Barkin, Lili Taylor
MPAA Rating: R, bloody violence throughout, strong sexuality, nudity, drug content and pervasive language
Runtime: 132 min
Major Awards:
IMDb Rating: 7.3
Rotten Tomatoes: 40%

Going into this one Ithought it would be kinda bad, coming out I was thinking to myself that not only was it okay, but it actually could’ve been really good. It could have been good because the performances are really decent and Antoine Fuqua delivers that grim tonality he knows how to achieve so well, it ended up being just okay because the script was too full of clichés and it ended up downgrading the whole film by a whole notch.

Fuqua knows how to paint conflicted officers of the law, and that’s the trio we are presented with here, three cops who aren’t bad guys like Denzel Washington was in Training Day, but who are conflicted and who live in such a dark world that they’ll just do whatever it takes, and they’ll meet each other somewhere along the line to less than stellar results.

Richard Gere here plays Eddie, a vet who’ll be retiring soon, he’s conflicted as shit. Don Cheadle is Tango, who’s undercover in the grim drug business of Brooklyn, so deep in fact, that he probably doesn’t know where the line is, and whether he’s crossed it. Ethan Hawke is the final cop, Sal, a narc who has huge trouble at home with a wife pregnant with twins, that will add up to the seven children they already have.

And then there’s the Wesley Snipes character, Chaz, he’s a drug dealer trying to go legit after spending time in the joint. He befriends the undercover cop Cheadle plays and the two tough guys develop a really strong bond. This is Mr. Snipes’ first role in a theatrically released film since Blade: Trinity back in ’04 and he’s quite good.

The acting is actually solid all around, and all four of these guys give tremendous dimension to their characters, Eddie’s trouble with alcohol is nicely acted by Gere even though he’s the weakest out of all characters, the scenes between Snipes and Cheadle are seriously good, and Hawke is spectacular as guy totally devoted to his wife and willing to do anything to give his family the life they deserve, his performances is the one I liked the most out of the bunch.

The level of sheer violence in this film is huge, blood is everywhere and the film doesn’t say sorry even once while it goes on that savage trip, in the ways I’ve described this film could have been just as good as Training Day, which was rather amazing, however, the script lets us down.

The violence is there, the acting is, as well, but what isn’t there is that, unlike Training Day, everything is more obvious, we know how things will most likely turn out, especially in the case of Gere’s character, in Training Day we were so deep into the conflicts of our characters because they were convincing conflicts set up amazingly by the writer, in this one the screenplay is nothing like that, everything is too obvious and the coincidences by which these characters meet don’t seem like fate but rather like necessities.

Grade: C