BLACK HAWK DOWN (2001)
They should’ve just sent Eric Bana in solo; Ain’t nobody shootin that Chopper down.
Based on a harrowing, real life battle, you have these poor kids fending for their lives hour after hour during a merciless onslaught. I’m sure that it must have been an extremely exhausting experience, because it certainly was exhausting to watch.
I keep waiting for the movie to “break it down”, and have some really intense action, or at the very least showcase the horrors of war. There certainly are guns shooting, and intestines splayed about, but there doesn’t seem to be any sense of urgency to any of this. Take any scene from this, and watch a scene from Saving Private Ryan immediately after to understand what I’m trying to get at.
I come up with little mini-games to keep the boredom at bay. Like; Which of the several nationalities playing American soldiers have the worst accents? (Answer: The Scots)
Again, much like Gladiator, people seem to like this, but it functioned as a sleep inducing agent for me.
5 out of 10
MATCHSTICK MEN (2003)
The whole story is such an odd mixture of cute and sad. It’s like the opposite of some schmaltzy shit like Lars and the Real Girl, because instead of being about a damaged person that everyone rallys around, it’s about a damaged person who doesn’t have a friend in the world. He’s managed to carve out a little bit of happyness for himself, but the world will take that away from him at the first opportunity it gets.
Having that sort of tragic backdrop makes the comedy funnier. It’s not dark humor. We’re not laughing at this guy, and reveling in his pain. We want him to succeed, but every setback just makes him that little bit more human.
Sure, it’s kind of predictable, but it’s really a character piece more than anything else. I enjoyed it a lot more the second time around.
8 out of 10
MAN ON FIRE (2004)
Sometimes, a director will have a broad range of styles that they bring to different projects, until they do one film that solidifies their style for some time. Soderbergh did it after Out Of Sight, for example. And every film Tony’s made after this has a little Man On Fire flavor to it.
Storywise, this is completely his MO. You’re got dirty, brutal violence and operatic dialogue. The thing that sets it apart from some of his previous movies is in the editing. The shots are almost subliminal now; Flowing, popping, twisting. Jumping with the music. It’s dreamlike in a way that almost crosses over into Ridley territory.
But for all the intensity and violence, it’s the quiet moments that really make it work. You’ve got a scene where Denzel is waiting for a car to drive by, so that he can shoot a rocket into it. While he’s waiting, he’s making a puckering sound with his lips. It’s the strange little details that make the world real.
8 out of 10