WITHOUT TRAILERS: 2 ½ STARS
If you took the entire gun game out of “No remorse,” Michael B. Jordan’s new Amazon Prime Video thriller, the movie would only be about 10 minutes long. Tom Clancy’s adaptation is a ballet ballet that plays out like a throwback to 80s morning action movies.
When we first meet John Clark (Jordan), he leads an elite team of US Navy SEALs on a dangerous top-secret mission to Syria to free a CIA agent held hostage by ex-Russian military forces.
Cut three months later. Back in the United States, the quiet life Clark and his pregnant wife Pam (Lauren London) have created for themselves is shattered by Russian assassins invading their home. Seeking revenge, the Russian hitman team kills Pam before Clark can take out three of the four hitmen. The fourth shooter retaliates, leaving Clark for dead, riddled with bullets.
As Clark recovers at the hospital, his colleagues Lt. SEAL Karen Greer (Jodie Turner-Smith), CIA Agent Robert Ritter (Jamie Bell) and Secretary of Defense Thomas Clay (Guy Pearce) , determine the best way to respond to a Russian attack. on American soil.
Not satisfied with the official way of doing things, Clark becomes a one-man army, seeking revenge and answers. He’s the very definition of a man you don’t want to mess with. He’s a killing machine, especially when you take away the one thing he had to live for. He tracks down a Russian diplomat whom he believes is responsible for the murder of his wife and extracts information from him in a spectacular and completely illegal manner.
“They brought the war to my house,” he says. “The contract is broken. They will play by my rules now.
His act of retaliation takes him to jail, but he is able to trade the sensitive information he has gathered in his individual mission for a second chance for revenge. This time with the cooperation of the CIA and the military.
A secret flight to Russia later signals the carnage and the plot.
“Without remorse” is an extremely violent film with more bullets than brains.
Director Stefano Sollima stages intense action scenes and isn’t afraid to drop bodies where they can. Unfortunately, it is in the management of other things, the plot, that the film fails. Between the explosions of bullets, a conspiracy slowly takes shape, but it is never developed.
Buried under an ever-growing body of bodies is the larger and more interesting picture of the government’s falsification of world politics. Countries need enemies from outside, it is suggested, or people will turn on their neighbors in search of someone to hate. It’s a timely message, a bit of questionable ideology, that could have been the basis of a rich subplot. Instead, “No remorse” is a standard shoot ’em up.
Jordan brings charisma and physique to the role, but is grappling with Steven Seagal-level dialogue. “Death follows me everywhere,” he says in a phrase that could have come from any number of direct-to-DVD action films of the past thirty years.
“No remorse” begins with a bang – a lot of them, in fact – but ends with a regression to Cold War paranoia fueled by bullets and muscle.
THE MARKSMAN: 2 STARS
“The Marksman,” a new action shot from Liam Neeson now on VOD, doesn’t aim high enough to hit the mark.
Neeson is Jim Hanson, a former Marine, now living on the Arizona border with Mexico. He enjoys a drink and calls the border patrol when he sees migrants entering the country on foot.
His life changes when he gets close to a woman (Teresa Ruiz) and her son Miguel (Jacob Perez) who are on the run because of a drug cartel. Despite warnings from his cop daughter (Katheryn Winnick) to stay put, he hits the road, confronting Mauricio (Juan Pablo Raba), a bloodthirsty cartel soldier with a personal score to settle. Why is Jim doing it?
“I don’t scare easily,” he says.
Director Robert Lorenz has a proven track record of working as an assistant or first unit manager for Clint Eastwood and it shows. “The Markman” looks like Eastwood Lite; a grizzled badass with a special set of skill thrillers that have sat on Clint’s slush pile for years. All that’s missing is a cool take-away quote like “Get me off my lawn.”
Neeson has the seriousness to make you believe he isn’t easily scared, but the story seems inert, like a series of sets skillfully staged and held together by the presence of the lead actor and not much. something else. What is missing is the forward momentum.
“The Marksman” is a road movie but it takes winding roads to get where it’s going.
BRAS D’OR: 3 ½ STARS
“Golden Arm”, now on VOD, is not a Gen X remake of Oscar-nominated Otto Preminger drug drama “The Man with the Golden Arm” or a remake of “Over the Top “minus Sylvester Stallone.
Instead, he’s a laughing charmer about self-discovery and female friendship against the backdrop of female arm wrestling.
Actress Mary Holland is Melanie, a recently divorced owner-operator of a bankrupt bakery. Her clients are rude, she goes bankrupt and she really needs a break.
Meanwhile, Melanie’s best friend Danny (Betsy Sodaro of the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater) confronts Brenda “The Bonecrusher” (Olivia Stambouliah) in a standoff and, true to form, The Bonecrusher breaks Danny’s wrist. In a casting and unable to participate in the women’s arm wrestling championship, Danny wants revenge.
“We need a ringtone,” Danny said.
When it turns out that years of running the bakery on her own have given Melanie a natural arm strength, Danny asks her to replace her at the tournament.
“I’m going to ask you to replace me at the national championships,” she said.
Melanie doesn’t have the killer instinct of an athlete, but the fifteen thousand dollar cash prize would solve a lot of her problems, so she agrees. But first they must train under the tutelage of legendary arm wrestling trainer Big Sexy (former “Glee” star and fifteen world arm wrestling champions Dot-Marie Jones).
“Golden Arm” is a good-looking sports movie that, like all good sports movies, isn’t really about sports. We spend a lot of time talking about arm wrestling and we learn that it takes to win: “Be quick and explosive, you want to take the plunge” and that it takes eight pounds of pressure to break a humerus, the bone. that starts from shoulder to elbow – and, of course, there’s a showdown at the climax of the film, but it’s a film about personal journey, female friendship, and empowerment.
It is also laughing out loud funny, sometimes vulgar, sometimes sweet. Sodaro is like a female Jack Black, a brash artist who takes risks and can deliver a line. Balance is Holland, whose arc extends from soft and soft to badass in ninety minutes. They are the heart and soul of the film and, with a colorful supporting cast, provide enough laughs and emotions to make “Golden Arm” a winner.
WILLY’S WONDERLAND: 3 ½ STARS
Nicolas Cage returns to VOD with “Willy’s Wonderland”, a unique blend of satanic possession and Chucky Cheese.
Cage plays a mysterious wanderer who finds himself stranded in a small town with a dark history. Picked up by a tow truck driver after driving a spike strip on a lonely stretch of highway, he was told it would cost him $ 1,000 to fix his car. Problem is, the mechanic doesn’t take credit cards and there’s no ATM in sight. With no way to pay, a local businessman makes him an offer. Spend the night cleaning up Willy’s Wonderland, a children’s restaurant that has been closed for years, and the next morning the car will be fixed and returned, no questions asked.
Easy concert. Where is it?
As it turns out, the Wanderer is the latest in a series of people sent to the abandoned building as human sacrifices to appease the evil and restless spirits who live there. Do you know these paintings with eyes that follow you in passing? Imagine them except that they are not paintings but scary kids mascots with cute names like Ozzie Ostrich and Tito Turtle. At first, he notices their eyes following him as he wipes the banquets. Soon however, it becomes clear that Ozzie and the others have murder in mind.
Add a bunch of superfluous teens to the cauldron and you’ve got an odd mix of an ’80s slasher movie and a kids’ birthday party gone horribly wrong.
“Willy’s Wonderland” continues Cage’s saga of confusing career choices, but it’s a little fun.
The idea of children’s mascots possessed by the spirit of serial killers is pure Midnight Madness and Cage adds to the unbridled playfulness of the film with a wordless and singular performance that could only have emerged from a determined Oscar winner to let his monster flag fly. He plays pinball, glares, does an orgasmic dance, drinks countless cans of soda, and sends mascots with ruthless efficiency. It’s the kind of work we expect from Cage and the kind of performance that only he can deliver.
It won’t be for everyone, but it fits perfectly in a movie featuring a cuddly mascot growling, “I’m going to feast on your face!”