Tag Archives: Terry Crews

John Henry

John Henry is an African American folk hero. He is said to have worked as a “steel-driving man”—a man tasked with hammering a steel drill into rock to make holes for explosives to blast the rock in constructing a railroad tunnel. According to legend, John Henry’s prowess was measured in a race against a steam-powered rock drilling machine, a race that he won only to die in victory with hammer in hand as his heart gave out from stress. 

The new film recently released on Netflix stars Terry Crews as Henry, and drags this legend into the 21st century. This John Henry lives a quiet and peaceable life after an accident with a gun convinces him to retire from gang life and loaded weapons forever. Now it’s just him, his sweet dog, and his disabled dad (Ken Foree). Until two immigrant kids on the run from his former South Los Angeles gang leader stumble into his life, that is. That kind of puts a bit of a crimp in the old laying low lifestyle. Plus his honour code pretty much forces him to jump back into the fray on their behalf but because of his no gun policy, he’ll have to face off against an entire gang armed only with his big hammer. Yeesh.

I very much enjoyed watching Terry Crews flex his acting muscles for a change but the actors are pretty much the only thing that works in this movie. Director Will Forbes relies too heavily on violence to cover up his uncertainty. His shifts in tone are pretty wild and disorienting, and the editing makes it feel like large chunks of the movie were left on the cutting room floor. This movie is about as subtle as the sledgehammer John Henry carries.

In 2018, Netflix announced that Dwayne Johnson would portray the character in a film intended to be the first installment in a shared universe that centers around heroes of legend and folklore, from various ethnic groups and cultures. This is NOT that movie: it’s a different script and a different director. But that one, titled John Henry and the Statesmen, even had a teaser trailer. In 2018 they claimed it was “coming soon” but no word since on where it’s ended up (to be fair, Johnson and director Jake Kasdan have been making a lot of Jumanjis), but whether or not their Avengers-style folk legend shared universe takes off, it’s probably safe to say that Will Forbes’ is dead in the water.

Sorry To Bother You


I hardly know how to talk about a movie like this.

It’s radical.

Ostensibly it’s about “telemarketing” but that’s like saying Toy Story is about single parenting. It’s really about racism and assimilation and wage slavery and identity – by way of telemarketing, at least to start.

Cassius Green (Lakeith Stanfield) is thrilled to get a shitty telemarketing job, working for commission. There’s almost no way to actually succeed doing this kind of work, but Cassius stumbles upon the secret, magic key: a white voice. A persuasive, approachable, overconfident voice, like Tobias Funke’s, perhaps. Using this voice, Cassius shoots straight to the top, rocketing past his buddies and even his girlfriend Detroit (Tessa MV5BMzNjZTZlZmYtODU0ZS00NzFkLTkyZGEtOTI5M2Q0YTZmNzg3XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNDg2MjUxNjM@._V1_SY1000_SX1500_AL_Thompson) who are trying to organize a union that will help the little guys make a living wage too.

On top, Cassius is of course hypnotized by the wealth and privilege, but now that he’s rubbing elbows with “the man”, he’s finding it’s a little different than he’d imagined. “The man” is of course Armie Hammer, like you ever fucking doubted it. Hammer was literally born to be typecast as a slave owner – his great-grandfather was a legit oil tycoon and philanthropist, and the family is worth somewhere in the neighbourhood of $200M. So yeah, he’s got owning slaves in his blood, and we can all read it in his cheekbones. In Sorry To Bother You, he plays a CEO who is “saving the world” by enslaving all the poor people and making them thank him for it. Signing a contract, they agree to work wage-free for him forever in exchange for housing (which looks surprisingly like prison cells minus the bars but with double the roommates) and food.

And everything is just gently pushing you. Pushing your boundaries, almost imperceptibly. In the beginning, things are near normal but they escalate, asking us to accept just one more inch of absurdity. It is THE best kind of satire, uncompromising but plenty challenging.

First-time writer-director Boots Riley has made a film that is gutsy and experimental. It feels like this is a guy who isn’t sure he’ll ever get to do this again, so he’s not leaving a single idea on the table. He takes huge risks and when they pay off, hot damn. Sorry To Bother you zigs and zags in unexpected places but the super talented cast helps this thing stay grounded. Riley is full of piss and vinegar and a comic outrage that’s infection. This is bold stuff, exciting to watch, fearless, outrageous, and I want more. Not for the faint of heart.