John Wick – 300 (Parabellum)

parabellumI use the number 300 instead of 3 – for the third installment of the John Wick, the master assassin. Seeing the film with an action-appreciating buddy, we couldn’t keep track of the bad guys killed by Wick. He commented later that it was the highest body count he’d ever seen in a movie, a bold statement considering other slaughter movies we’d seen, like Rambo 3 or Hacksaw Ridge.

I’ve always liked Keanu Reeves and that includes his John Wick character, but I started to chuckle after his first 30 or 40 kills. The man deserves credit for the way he handles himself in the action sequences – basically a two hour long chase and fight scene. He masterfully handles an assortment of weapons that must have taken hours of practice to successfully operate.

If you don’t mind a few dozen blood-spattering head shots and an overly violent plot, this movie could be for you. I do find it odd though, in this day and age, how movie makers can present us with such mindless slaughter, and add a dry touch of humor to make the film more entertaining. In a way this movie reminded me of the Walking Dead – the bad guys weren’t dead until you shot them in the head, in many cases more than once.

Enough about the violence. The movie has a highly paid all-star cast, perhaps to give the flick some credibility with movie buffs. I have to say I was shocked at the other online reviews I read from sites like Roger Ebert and company. So maybe it was just me…and my buddy, who thought there was enough carnage to call the John Wick movies a trilogy and leave it at that.

Cathryn could never have sat through this movie with her eyes open. I don’t think my buddy was too impressed. For the sake of mindless entertainment I give it 5 out of 10.

Die Trying – Lee Child

die tryingDie Trying (Jack Reacher, #2) 
by

Lee Child (Goodreads Author)

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Edmond Gagnon‘s review

Feb 23, 2019  

 

I’ve read several of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher novels now and I can easily say this was my least favorite. It wasn’t anything in particular that stopped me from a better review and adding a star to the rating. I guess it comes down to personal taste and this story didn’t have the right flavor for me. It’s only the 2nd book in the Reacher series so perhaps it didn’t contain the ingredients I usually find palatable in Child’s writing.
The story is descent, with good characters, but the plot seemed too familiar, maybe lacking enough spice to make a great dish. It was an entertaining read that I ripped through quickly, but only because I had nothing better to do.

Jack Reacher – Night School

night schoolNight School (Jack Reacher #21) 
Lee Child (Goodreads Author),

Dick Hill (Narrator)

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Edmond Gagnon‘s review

Jan 30, 2019

 

I zipped through this one in four sittings, I think. It’s the first Reacher novel I’ve read where the story takes place while he’s still in the army. In this one he’s on a mission to save the world, instead of some anonymous person along the back roads of America.
There’s the usual action and fight scenes and even a couple sex scenes. I like the way Lee Child describes the smutty stuff, almost with military precision, and not like fifty shades of pornography.
The book is well-paced and it steadily picks up speed as the action and story unfold. One of my editors explained a writing trick in which the author uses short or brief sentences to speed things along. I completely understand it, having been caught up to the point where I didn’t want to put the book down. It works.

First Man

first manThere have been many movies made about space exploration, but First Man is unique in that it lets you see and experience the thrills and spills of travelling to outer space through the eyes of those who have done it. None of us mere mortals can even imagine how it feels to do the crazy and courageous stunts that the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo astronauts have done for mankind.

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The Equalizer 2

equalizerWho doesn’t like Denzel Washington? I can think of one or two of his movies I didn’t like, but can’t think of one that I didn’t like him in. Many of us complain about sequels, like I just did with Jurassic World, but it’s hard not to cheer for vigilantes like Denzel’s Equalizer character.

As The Equalizer he has no problem taking on the roll of action hero. Cathryn doesn’t usually go for the shoot-em-up flicks, but she wanted to see this one and was glad she did. It was no surprise to me that they made a sequel to the first movie since they teased us with the option at the end.

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The Foreigner – Jackie Chan

JackieJackie Chan is no stranger to action films, but he is The Foreigner to serious thrillers. I’m not alone in thinking this is one of Chan’s best performances ever. Granted, many of his previous action films were serious, but they had a cheap feel to them, like the old martial arts movies where the voices didn’t match lip movements.

Although the story seems familiar – former military special forces guy seeks revenge for missing or murdered family member, it’s credibility is bolstered by Chan’s humble character. With the exception of one scene where he should have produced a few tears, Jackie’s acting was superb.

Former James Bond, Pierce Brosnan plays a believable bad guy who’s involved with the IRA. Jackie may be older and grayer, and his moves may have all been choreographed, but he’s still got the moves. Mr. Chan is still quick as lightning. The movie moves well and is loaded with lots of action. It’s great entertainment – Cathryn got so excited at one point she tried blocking the kung fu punches from her seat.

We both enjoyed the movie and give it a 9 out of 10.

 

The Hitman’s Bodyguard

hitman body

The Hitman’s Bodyguard is an action movie that allows you to laugh out loud in certain scenes and with certain dialogue, comparable to to Bruce Willis’s Die Hard series. The action is pretty well non-stop throughout the movie, an on-going pursuit plot with a couple of outstanding car chases.

Does anyone know why bad guys on motorcycles think they can somehow stop a speeding car? You know they’re always going to lose. The cinematography showcases Amsterdam and the Netherlands, with a lot of the chase footage filmed along and in the canals and narrow streets alongside.

Ryan Reynolds’s character is a bit of a sap, but it’s a perfect fit with Jackson’s opposite and bad-ass character. Gary Oldman always makes a good bad guy, and doesn’t let us down in this movie. I think Salma Hayek’s character is over the top and a bit ridiculous, but it adds to the comic relief.

Cathryn and I both enjoyed viewing this flick on the big screen, but had trouble rating it. We both settled on a 7 out of 10.

 

Demise at Dunkirk

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When Germany invaded France they trapped 400,000 soldiers (mostly British) that retreated to the beaches at Dunkirk. The film’s director, Christopher Nolan, used Imax cameras and CGI to show us on the big screen just how spectacular that would look from the air. The massive army stood like sitting ducks on piers and open beaches, awaiting the navy for transportation home.

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Wondrous Wonder Woman

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The latest big screen action hero epic from DC Comics introduces Wonder Woman, or Diana, princess of the Amazons, to us useless mortals on planet earth. It seems the Amazons, with their complete woman warrior society, has found a better way to live at peace.

Cathryn and I both like how WW was introduced to the world, near the end of the war to end all wars. Chris Pine is a spy and humorous sidekick to our hero. Neither understands the other’s world, but it’s Wonder Woman who chooses to leave her paradise island to help mankind.

Cinematography, turn-of-the-century costumes, and CGI make this film a big screen delight. It’s also in 3D, but we were quite happy to watch it in two dimensions from the brand-spanking new recliner chairs at Lakeshore Cinemas.

Gal Gadot is about to become the richest female actress in the world with this franchise and the other upcoming super hero movies she’s joining.

Cathryn gives Wonder Woman a 10 and I’m giving it a 9 – only because I thought the story line was a bit sappy at times. It is still a great action flick.