Tag Archives: jason statham

The Meg

With a budget of $130 000 000(!), The Meg is probably the world’s most expensive watch commercial.

It pretends to be a movie too. It’s about a tough, gruff drunk named Jonas (Jason Statham) who wears watches while bitterly licking his wounds after losing two of his mates during a rescue mission that saved 11. He claims that something very large and unseen crushed a nuclear submarine, but doctors claim he’s crazy. Still, he’s the guy Mac (Cliff Curtis) and Zhang (Winston Chao) call on when only the best will do.

Zhang is the brilliant watch-wearing scientist running a deep underwater research lab, funded by eccentric billionaire Morris (Rainn Wilson), who loves watches almost as much as he loves sneakers. Zhang believes that there is more depth to the ocean the-meg-featurethan even Mariana’s Trench will have you believe – and a sub from their research facility proves him correct as it plunges below what was previously believed to be the bottom of the ocean. There is all sorts of undiscovered life down there (science boner!), including something big enough and antagonistic enough to ground the submarine containing 3 crew members with only their large, expensive watches to keep them company, the fairest of whom is Jonas’s ex-wife. So down he goes.

And then up he comes, but he’s not alone. It seems he’s brought something with him: a megalodon, an enormous shark previously believed to be extinct for millions of years. This time the science-boners are tempered by the fact that this fish (affectionately nicknamed ‘The Meg’) is eating all the people AND their waterproof watches.

Jason Statham is of course the perfect man for the part. His sneer of contempt is so effortless. It’s a quite sturdy cast, on the whole. Bingbing Li plays opposite Statham – not as his ex-wife, but as his future ex-wife. She’s no damsel in distress, though. She is constantly testing the warranty limits on her watch by jumping into wherever danger lurks. Ruby Rose, Page Kennedy, and Ólafur Darri Ólafsson round out the possible choice of appetizer for the shark. Kennedy was likely cast for his wonderful wrists, able to hold cups of coffee at such crazy, awkward angles to better show off the stunning watches on display there – even on the outside of his jacket cuffs, if necessary. Ruby Rose nearly drowned on set, and at one point when her character narrowly survives an encounter with the Meg, she hauls herself out of the water, and lays there heaving, her wristwatch posed for maximum admiration by viewers only tangentially concerned with her fate, probably wondering whether it’ll be an heirloom, and if so, who’s getting it in her will.

The Meg takes itself quite seriously while I expected (and maybe wanted) a campier version. One that embraced the cheese factor along with the blatant product placement. But no. And the thing is, The Meg is definitely menacing, but he’s no Jaws. Jaws is much smaller of course, capable of much less damage, but he was a better villain because he almost seemed to make it personal. The Meg is just a monster with a prehistoric brain. He can’t help himself. You could almost dredge up sympathy for the guy. I mean, he doesn’t even have wrists, how’s he going to wear a watch that lets everyone know he’s a man of distinction, a motherfucker to be reckoned with?

The Meg is a bit of dumb fun. Sean thought mostly fun, I thought mostly dumb. And also very overpriced – for that kind of money, everything should look a lot better. But there’s no amount of budget-gloss or gung-ho casting that could hide the flaws of the script, which veers drastically from its source material. I can’t say this movie disappointed me. It sank more than it swam, which is about what I expected from a story picked from the carcass of another, better shark movie.

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Collateral

It’s probably never a good day to be a cab driver, but Max is having an exceptionally bad day: he’s just trying to put in his time until he can get his own limo business going, minding his own business, when by a stroke of bad luck, Vincent climbs into his backseat.

Vincent (Tom Cruise) turns out to be a contract killer. We know this because he intends to use Max (Jamie Foxx) as the getaway driver in a series of murders across L.A. The first collateralunlucky victim takes Max by surprise when he crashes through his windshield. That fearsome windshield crack will be a thorn in Max’s side, but it’s just a small obstacle in a rather wild ride. Max is a hostage but under surveillance by the cops he looks rather like an accomplice. Good thing Detective Fanning (Mark Ruffalo) is on the case! He’ll save him!

But not before Max realizes he’s the only one who can save Annie (Jada Pinkett Smith), an attractive lawyer who coincidentally gave him her number earlier that day. Turns out she’s working the wrong case, and her name is on Vincent’s hit list. Yikes.

Director Michael Mann once drove cabs; so did his father before him, and his grandfather owned a taxi company.

600px-CollateralUSP-45-3Considered to play the role of Vincent: Russel Crowe, Edward Norton, John Travolta, Leonardo DiCaprio, Colin Farrell

Considered to play the role of Max: Adam Sandler, Cuba Gooding Jr, Robert De Niro, Johnny Depp

I’m glad we got the Cruise-Foxx combo because they made such a great pair. It’s refreshing to see Cruise as the villain and he channels sinister very well. I’m sure Foxx felt it, particularly in those tense scenes in which Cruise is sitting right behind him, leaving Max vulnerable and twitchy. Collateral may be a but formulaic but it’s a highly polished thriller with some great performances. Michael Mann stylishly serves up heaps of tensions, and the performances are great, never overcooked.

The Fate of the Furious

1488423016_80f557346e9c57a769fa41a2b284345aAs a movie franchise adds new instalments, we expect (and even demand) that the stakes get higher, that the setpieces get bigger, and that the payoff be greater when our heroes win in the end. Normally, the need to maintain some level of realism constrains the film in some way. Not so with the latest entry in the Fast and Furious franchise.

The Fate of the Furious is absolutely ridiculous from start to finish. There is only one law of physics in this world, and it is this: our heroes must succeed.  So if for Vin Diesel to win a race, a car needs to go faster in reverse than in drive after doing a 180, then that’s what is going to happen. That is always part of the pact that action movies (and action sequels in particular) make with their audience: accept the rules being bent now and again and in exchange, receive that elevated payoff I mentioned earlier. By and large, we are willing to accept that sort of thing in service of those higher stakes I mentioned. What sets the Fate of the Furious apart from most movies is that it doesn’t bend the rules at the climax; rather, it breaks them in the opening sequence. Right from the start, we know that absolutely anything goes, and it just gets more ridiculous from there.

If, like me, you can accept that in the service of entertainment  then you will enjoy this movie. On the other hand if, like Jay, you have no tolerance for big, loud, dumb action movies then you will want to choose some other form of entertainment. Because Fate of the Furious is among the biggest, loudest and dumbest movies ever made. It is also among the most gleeful, and I thoroughly enjoyed every over-the-top set piece, each of which is spectacular in its idiocy.

The Fate of the Furious is exactly what it aims to be, no more and no less. It was never going to reach the emotional heights of Furious 7, and it was never going to bring something fresh to the genre. It is a fun experience (especially in 4DX, which made this movie even more of a rollercoaster ride) but ultimately it’s a flashy, forgettable movie. Which may otherwise have been enough if I had not just seen Baby Driver at SXSW and been reminded how great an action movie can be when it is truly innovative instead of a formulaic eighth entry in a franchise that was all style, no substance right from the start.

The Fate of the Furious gets a score of six Lamborghinis on ice out of ten, with the caveat that if you have a time machine then jump to June 28 and see Baby Driver instead.

 

Mechanic: Resurrection

mechanicRemember in Spy when Jason Statham played a clueless tough guy to hilarious results?  Mechanic: Resurrection has him playing essentially the same role EXCEPT HE’S DEADLY SERIOUS.  If you’re like me, you will be waiting for this stupidity to turn out to be a farce. But by the end of the movie you will have no choice but to conclude that this film was an honest attempt at a straightforward action movie.

The dialogue is horrible, even by action movie standards.  The worst example is an exchange between Statham and the impossibly pristine Jessica Alba, who works for a super-duper bad guy because he has threatened to harm the children at the third world orphanage where she teaches (thus proving he’s a super-duper bad guy).  Statham’s monotone response to Alba’s revelation?  “I’m an orphan too.”  Naturally, Statham’s orphan status drives him to save Alba and the threatened orphans, and naturally the way to save them is to kill almost everyone he comes across.

[SPOILER ALERT] Besides Alba and the orphans, the only survivor of Statham’s murder spree is a bad guy played by Tommy Lee Jones.  Jones’ resurrected Two-Face routine (i.e., “I’m crazy and happy about it”) from Batman Forever must have been appealing enough to Statham that he lets Jones live.  Between the shitty dialogue and Jones’ appearance, it’s safe to say that if you liked Batman Forever then this movie is going to be right up your alley.  Maybe not even then.  If there’s anyone out there who is a Batman Forever fan, let us know in the comments if this movie worked for you, but then rest assured that Jay will immediately Bat-BAN Forever your IP address from our site for somehow having worse taste in movies than me. [END SPOILERS]

Multiple boats blow up.  Sky-high glass pools are shattered.  People get shot and kicked and punched.  Statham fakes his own death multiple times.  None of it is remotely entertaining.  It’s all unbearably stupid and boring.  This movie truly sucks ass.

Spy

We had a busy weekend out-of-town but slid back just in time to make it to the drive-in and give this one the eyeball.

You know what I liked about this movie? A lot, actually. First, it’s not a spoof. Don’t call it a spoof. It’s a legit action movie that happens to also be funny. Second, it’s not funny because Susan Cooper (Melissa McCarthy) is bad at her job. She’s a top agent, extremely competent if rs_600x600-150401084422-600_Spy-Movie-Jason-Melissa_jl__040115somewhat reluctant. It’s funny because she’s not quite got that James Bond suaveness down pat – she still gets a kick out globe-trotting and being upgraded to premium economy. She hasn’t let the whole spy thing go to her head. Third, it’s not just the hero who’s a female – so is her sidekick (Miranda Hart) and her adversary (Rose Byrne), and they’re all great.

Its highest gear isn’t quite comparable to what Daniel Craig is doing over at Spectre, but there’s a kitchen knife fight that’s pretty intense and you can tell that a lot of work went into its choreography. McCarthy gets to stretch some muscles she hasn’t used in a while with a versatile performance rather than a crude caricature. But the greatest treat is that she’s isn’t funny alone; Feig has this great trickle-down effect where he expects everyone to get laughs, and they do, even the cutaway character reaction shots. The best laughs, though, probably come at the expense of Jason Statham, who welcomes them. Nobody else  75could have played it so well because the jokes don’t just hit back at the manly superagent type, but also specifically at Statham’s career, and he’s game. Obscenely game! And while McCarthy is undoubtedly the star, Feig gives everyone a chance to shine, because if funny is good, then very funny is very good.

Big applause to Paul Feig for being the only one who can truly write for Melissa McCarthy – and that includes McCarthy herself. In anyone else’s hands she turns into a clown. A big, crass joke who’s too obnoxious to appreciate. Feig doesn’t need to humiliate her. He elevates her with the right element, the right foil, and with good writing and the right context, she makes the movie sparkle, and she led this one right to the top of the box office this weekend, smoked right by those Entourage boys like the badass she is.

 

Furious 7

I loved Furious 7 from start to finish. I wasn’t sure at all how it would turn out, or how I would feel about it given Paul Walker’s death, especially since he died in a car crash. But it turned out to be a very sweet tribute to him that felt genuine rather than exploitative.

So we should get this out of the way early: this movie has no real plot. If you described the plot to me next week I would probably struggle to tell you which number was attached to the title (I’m honestly not sure whether I have seen #5, #6, or both). But if you like action or cars or explosions or all of the above, the lack of plot won’t matter one bit. Really, a plot or character development would just slow the movie down, so it works out for the best!

I am being slightly faceteous. There is a thread that ties the movie together from start to finish, and it is the theme of family that the trailers have been good enough to hammer into my head. It really works though as it sets up the ending perfectly. For that reason I would be interested to see what the movie was originally intended to be, because I was truly surprised how seamless the movie is.  I was expecting something disjointed as a result of them trying to write out the Brian O’Conner character at the last minute and instead I got a cohesive, thoroughly enjoyable movie with a great ending. I cannot say enough how satisfying it is to get an ending that is true to the characters in the face of the real-world death of one of the stars. It was perfect.

There will inevitably be more of these (#8 at least must be a sure thing) and I kind of wish they would stop. I am sure I will enjoy the next one but these movies were best when they had both Vin Diesel and Paul Walker. Those two were the heart of the franchise and since we will never see that again, I suspect the instalments to come will feel a little bit empty.  But I can’t blame anyone for keeping the franchise going, and looking back it is a complete mystery how it has survived for seven movies (#2 and #3 were the weak links,  and the series probably should have died there). Not coincidentally, those weak ones are the only two that Paul and Vin do not both appear in. So that does not bode well, but if this indeed the end of the franchise as we know it, it is a glorious finish.

Ten “quarter miles at a time” out of ten.