Category Archives: Movie Reviews

Movie review: ‘The Hitman’s Bodyguard’

“The Hitman’s Bodyguard” (R)

Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson breathe some much needed life back into the summer movie season with “The Hitman’s Bodyguard,” a high-octane action comedy that isn’t exactly original, but very entertaining nonetheless.

The plot is relatively straight-forward – Reynolds plays Michael Bryce, a down-on-his-luck executive protection agent (which is a fancy name for a bodyguard) who is called upon to transport one of the world’s most notorious hitmen in the world, Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson) to an international court of law to testify against brutal Russian dictator (the always great Gary Oldman). But since the dictator could be put away for life, he’s doing everything possible to make sure Kincaid gets dead before he has a chance to testify.

There’s no doubt that “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” has a “Midnight Run” feel to it – Bryce and Kincaid are constantly squabbling, mainly because the hitman has tried to kill Bryce 27 times before – yet the film still manages to hit the mark on many levels. To start, it has great chemistry between the Reynolds and Jackson and a great supporting cast (including Hayek as Kincaid’s wife and “Daredevil” and “The Defenders” star Elodie Yung as an Interpol agent who has a romantic past with Bryce), to intense action and thrills, and hilarious, mother F-bomb-dominated dialogue.

Interview: Elodie Yung talks ‘The Hitman’s Bodyguard’

While we’ve seen these characters from Reynolds and Jackson before, they’re both outrageously entertaining in the film. Reynolds is great at the wiseass thing and it’s certainly the best thing Jackson has done in a long time (can anyone say the mother F-bomb better?). But as good as the actors are in the movie, the person who nearly steals the show is Hayek, who as Kincaid’s kindred spirit is laugh-out-loud funny as she throws out the mother F-bombs in a fast and furious manner.

Topping off “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” is the expert direction by  Patrick Hughes, whose biggest credit before this was “The Expendables 3.” He really puts together some dazzling, action sequences, sometimes that reminds me of the elaborate chase stuff you’d see in a James Bond movie. All told, the film is hardly a dull exercise in action filmmaking. Everybody is clearly putting effort into this movie, and it shows.

Lammometer: 7.5 (out of 10)

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Tim Burton Book 2
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Movie review: ‘The Dark Tower’

Listen to Tim’s review of “The Dark Tower” on “The KQ Morning Show” with Tom Barnard and Phillip “The Philly Dawg” Wise.

“The Dark Tower” (PG-13)

Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey help build a solid foundation for the long-awaited big screen adaptation of “The Dark Tower,” author Stephen King’s sprawling magnum opus that is spread over eight novels. Surprisingly short at just over 90 minutes long, the film benefits largely from keeping the plot relatively simple, considering that this is the first of several more films and/or television series to tell the story (presuming this first film is lucrative enough to warrant it).

The Dark Tower despite its name, isn’t evil: it’s  a darkened, massive skyscraper located in the center of the universe that protects Earth and other planets within the realm from monsters hell-bent on destroying them. The tower can only be destroyed by the mind of a child, which is why a powerful sorcerer Walter O’Dim, aka “The Man in Black” (McConaughey), is pursuing Jake Chambers (Tom Taylor) – a gifted young teen who has extraordinary psychic abilities – to carry out his plans to bring it down and wreak havoc on the universe. Standing between them is Roland Deschain, aka “The Gunslinger” (

Idris Elba), who in addition to protecting Jake has an old score to settle with his nemesis.

“The Dark Tower” operates with the assumption that fans have already read the books, which explains why the film comes prepackaged with lingo only readers would understand. Fortunately, the terms aren’t too complicated, and some, like “The Shine” (Jake’s said psychic ability) are obviously tied into King’s other works (a la “The Shining”). With its short runtime, fans of the book are bound to be disappointed with by the lack of detail, but on a basic level, the film – a sci-fit/Western mashup – “The Dark Tower” works.

It’s hard to tell how “The Dark Tower” will build out from here, but so long as the charismatic principal actors remain attached, the series should at least have enough momentum to push forward to the next chapter.

Lammometer: 7 (out of 10)

Copyright 2017 DirectConversations.com.

Tim Burton Book 2
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Movie review: ‘Atomic Blonde’

See Tim’s review of “Atomic Blonde” with Adrienne Broaddus on KARE 11.

Atomic Blonde (R)
Charlize Theron mixes a bit of James Bond espionage and a lot of extreme “John Wick”-type action in “Atomic Blonde,” an energizing spy thriller that despite its thrills, still falls short of the wickedness of “Wick” and the intrigue of Daniel Craig’s 007 outings.

“Atomic Blonde” certainly the potential of, at the very least, being another “Wick.” David Leitch, who co-directed the first Keanu Reeves revenge thriller is at the helm of “Atomic Blonde,” and Theron has already well-proven that she has an incredible handle on the action genre with her kick-ass turn as Imperator Furiosa in “Mad Max: Fury Road” and recent turn as the villain in “The Fate of the Furious.”

Set in 1989 in the waning days of the Cold War and the fall of the Berlin Wall, “Atomic Blonde” stars Theron as MI:6 spy Lorraine Broughton, a no-nonsense field operative whose myriad of skills includes a lethal form of hand-to-hand combat. When one of her fellow MI:6 agents turns up dead in Berlin, Lorraine is dispatched to the city to not only recover his body, but join the city’s top operative (James McAvoy) to ferre

t out a double agent betraying the agency and most importantly, recover a list that names several undercover agents and vital personal details about them.

The biggest problem with “Atomic Blonde” is in its pacing, since the film is rooted in a debriefing of Lorraine by her MI:6 superior (Toby Jones) and an American CIA authority (John Goodman), and told almost entirely in flashback scenes.

Hear Tim’s review of “Atomic Blonde” with Tom Barnard on “The KQ Morning Show” on KQRS-FM.

Yes, while Theron’s charisma commands your attention every second she’s on film, “Atomic Blonde” suffers as Leitch builds intensity in scenes with pulse-pounding action (usually though encounters of hand-to-hand combat or car chases), only to suck the energy out of the air by continually reverting to the debriefing.

The “Wick” chapters, on the other hand, had linear narratives that escalated in intensity throughout the film, creating burning anticipation for whatever the end game was going to be. The hopping back and forth in “Atomic Blonde” only lends to confusion.

Lammometer: 7 (out of 10)

Copyright 2017 DirectConversations.com.

Tim Burton Book 2
Click book cover for info on how to buy!

Movie review: ‘Dunkirk’

Hear Tim’s review of “Dunkirk” on KQ92 with Tom Barnard.

“Dunkirk” (PG-13)

Acclaimed filmmaker Christopher Nolan continues to amaze with “Dunkirk,” a World War II epic that is spectacular from filmmaking standpoint yet strains itself with the way the narrative unfolds.

A story most certainly unknown to most American audiences, “Dunkirk” isn’t so much a war film than it is a harrowing tale of survival. Set in May 1940, the film recounts the miracle evacuation of more than 300,000 Allied troops on the beaches of Dunkirk, France, where German forces have the soldiers trapped. With Allied ground forces unable to penetrate the enemy’s stronghold, fighter planes attempt to ward off the enemy while every naval and civilian vessel available attempt to cross the English channel to reach the soldiers before they meet a most certain cruel demise.

“Dunkirk” is told from three points of view — by land, by sea and by air, in three different time frames in a non-linear manner. And while it’s fascinating in the way the film eventually comes together, “Dunkirk” will no doubt confuse audiences if they’re not paying rapt attention.

While the film features stellar performances by Kenneth Branagh, Tom Hardy and Mark Rylance, there’s no real star in “Dunkirk” – in fact the attention is more focused on the plight of the ground soldiers, including newcomers Fionn Whitehead and One Direction singer Harry Styles (a great move by Nolan that will surely get younger audiences interested who would have ignored the film otherwise).

An ensemble film with far less dialogue than Nolan’s previous efforts, “Dunkirk” feels more like a docudrama than a narrative feature; so despite the extraordinary story that inspired it, the film ultimately doesn’t have nearly as much emotion as last year’s true-life World War II drama “Hacksaw Ridge.” Faults aside, you still have to applaud a filmmaker with as much clout as Nolan to inform audiences of important stories like “Dunkirk” that have been buried in history, especially smack-dab in the middle of the summer movie-going season that’s generally packed with mindless drivel.

Copyright 2017 DirectConversations.com.

Tim Burton Book 2
Click book cover for info on how to buy!