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RUNNING TIME: 121 Minutes
• 7 extra minutes of profanity and *plot*
The Pitch for Con Air
"Crooks on a Plane."
Nicolas Cage. John Cusack. John Malkovich. Steve Buscemi. Ving Rhames. Colm Meaney. Monica Potter. Rachel Ticotin. Mykeliti Williamson.
to burst your bubble after all these years huddled in safety by the warmth of
your love for Con Air. The film is a piece of shit. It’s got its moments,
it’s loaded with familiar faces, and it is shiny and pretty, but it’s a hunk of
drivel that really packs the guilt into ‘guilty pleasure’. It came out around
the same time as the far superior The Rock and Face/Off and somehow
managed to gather a decent chunk of the popular sentiment over those two. It
grossed a tad less, but still managed to cause quite a stir among fans,
possibly even eclipsing them in the long run because of how willing it is to go
over the edge. At times, it’s a lot of fun. It’s hard not to enjoy seeing Steve
Buscemi play a truly vile character and see the filmmakers allow him to hang
out with a little girl and play a game with her. Offscreen he probably carved
her eye sockets out and filled them with gentleman gravy but that’s neither
here nor there. It’s the thought that counts. Plus, she was wearing tight Osh Kosh’s and probably deserved it.
Now you know why they kicked people out of Menudo once puberty took hold.
It’s also cool to see a parade of folks with names like
Chinlund, Trejo, Gainey, and Meany sharing the screen with bigwigs named Cusack,
Cage, Malkovich, and Rhames but it doesn’t change the facts. The movie is to action films what pinball machines are to Jodie Foster.
Nicolas Cage’s ludicrous accent aside, the bulk of this film reeks of lowest common denominator action filmmaking with Simon West doing his best Michael Bay impersonation, something that really shows how talented a visual stylist Bay (and Bruckheimer fave Tony Scott) is in comparison. It doesn’t feel nearly as well-made and polished as I remembered and after seeing Crimson Tide and Enemy of the State in rapid succession to this, it stuck out like even more of a sore thumb. This is a vacuum, worth seeing only for the parade of familiar faces and the sometimes entertaining visual candy offered, like Colm Meany’s Corvette dragged through the air and shattered.
Of course, one of my passions is the saddening of Colm Meany.
Wait, THAT’S why it’s called a fire truck?
John Malkovich is really annoying here, delivering his lines with the most deliberate anunciating I’ve seen since watching pit crews try to read Judy Blume. He doesn’t revel in the cheese of the film like many good actors in bad films do. He just doesn’t seem to care and Ving Rhames has such a vicious character to play it’s a shame he doesn’t follow through. If these villains with the catchy nicknames (Cyrus the Virus, Tough Eddie, etc.) actually felt menacing instead of almost cartoonish it may have worked. Fans of Rachel Ticotin will be pleased, though. She plays a Hispanic woman here.
Many people find this film to be their bad film to champion. Their Torque. Their Mean Guns. On those merits it’s fine. It’s moderately entertaining and it never gets old to see planes smashing through Las Vegas, though there are so many moments that tax one’s resolve and intellect (where did the head smasher come from at the end, by the way?).
What’s it about? Like you don’t know. A convict who acted in self-defense (Cage, hair extensions getting first billing) is released from prison and given a ride with a bunch of really dangerous criminals. The inmates take over the plane, chaos ensues, and our fallen soldier hero takes it upon himself to save the day and rescue the teddy bear. It’s dumb and somewhat fun at times but it doesn’t have the magic that makes The Long Kiss Goodnight and its ilk so much fun and it always feels like the filmmakers are just pushing the buttons of their audience and I won’t stand for it. This film isn’t worth it. Don Simpson is spinning in his grave, but that’s just because he’s still a little buzzed.
Three frames before M.C. Gainey reverted to his old ways and pressed his sidewayspenis against the glass.
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RUNNING TIME: 124 Minutes
• 7 extra minutes of profanity and *plot*
• 2 Featurettes
The Pitch for Crimson Tide
"Deep beneath the surface a war is being waged between two men over the fate of the world as we know it."
Denzel Washington. Gene Hackman. James Gandolfini. George Dzundza. Viggo Mortensen. Matt Craven. Lilo Brancato Jr. Danny Nucci.
Crimson Tide is Das Boot for people who think Sarte is the best way to cook shrimp. It’s a tightly wound, extremely polished, and very moodily lit undersea thriller packed with machismo and high wattage performers. It’s possibly the most solid Bruckheimer flick until Pirates of the Caribbean wandered into our lives and made us its bitch, and that’s actually saying a lot because whether you want to admit it in the morning, the man (and his corporeal ex-partner) has delivered some rather nice chunks of entertainment. When you have Danzel Washington and Gene Hackman anchoring (that’s seafaring humor you see) your movie, you’re in good shape.
"Sir, it appears the U.S. goverment bought us projectors instead of monitors!"
Because there’s only a few ways to showcase submarine combat (though I never tire of those imploding underwater explosions), Crimson Tide focuses much more on words than actions as the legendary and by-the-book commander (Hackman) and his Executive Officer (Washington) come to a head over whether an incomplete message brings with it the use of nuclear weapons. Factions develop, relationships are strained, and cries of mutiny lead to bloodshed. On top of all that is the present of the other threats hovering beneath the waves with torpedoes of their own. Let’s face it; there’s a pretty swank little corner of guy movie heaven devoted to submarine flicks. Run Silent Run Deep was one of the first films my dad showed me, I have considerable love for The Hunt for Red October, and I even enjoyed the Bon Jovi head remover known as U-571. While the best sub film will always be Hoagie: The Movie, you get the point. There’s Das Boot ("The Shoe") and then there’s all other films in the genre.
Tony Scott, tucked into a tiny claustrophobic environment, is forced to resort to filters by the assload and smoky, drippy moments where steel and flesh collide with reckless abandon. He also does that annoying commercial director thing where computer screens somehow project the contents of the screen onto its user’s face and forehead, something that might actually not be real though I have met a few guys with "burn in" of CHUD.com’s sex forum on their cheeks. But with a meaty script (complete with out of place Quentin Tarantino pop culture script doctoring), he delivers a really effecive high energy film that transcended the guilty pleasure market and became an actual pleasure.
Best. Mirror. Ever.
The cast is terrific, with recognizable faces around every corner and no dollar left unspent on spit and polish and Steve Zahn hair care. It’s a very entertaining flick and though this extended and unrated edition might as well be called the marketing exercise edition it still does a very good job of delivering the goods. It’s a really intense flick and it’s hard for me still to not get a little too caught up in the struggle between two really solid leading characters played by two immortal leading men.
SOPRANOS SPOILER! Swipe to read: Tony kills Yog Soggoth (who had ben masquerading as Paulie’s cancer) to end the series on a bittersweet note.
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RUNNING TIME: 131 Minutes
• 6 extra minutes of profanity and *plot*
• 2 Featurettes
The Pitch for Enemy of the State
"He’s an innocent man trapped in a whirlwind of high tech espionage. This is a long way from Bel Air for Mr. Smith!"
Will Smith. Gene Hackman. Jon Voight. Gabriel Byrne. Barry Pepper. Tom Sizemore. Jason Robards. Jack Black. Seth Green. Jamie Kennedy. Jason Lee. Scott Caan. Jake Busey. Loren Dean. Regina Hall. Lisa Bonet. JAMES LEGROS!
The Fugitive made more money than Jesus (though nowhere near as much as people who make money by using Jesus’s name), so Jerry Bruckheimer said "Why not me?". With one of his best go-to directors in tow, he put together another gigantic cast and made a mint. It’s Enemy of the State, ladies and gentlemen, where Will Smith gets caught in high stakes intrigue as Jon Voight, Gabriel Byrne, and a whole mess of Hollywood’s freshest faces try to take him down.
"Screw you! I’m the best bodyguard in town and no one, I REPEAT NO ONE is going sneak up and eat Mr. Smith’s head on my watch. OH NO, THE HEAD EATER HAS BESTED ME AGAIN!"
Technology is great. It allows you to have your hair taken off by blasts of concentrated laser fire. You can download porn to your phone. You can take a shit and flush it with your mind. Well, I CAN. I don’t know about you guys. It’s the greatest thing the world has known since granola, but it can be dngerous too! It can be used to watch you when you don’t want to be watched. It can spy on you…
When the murder of a politico (Jason Robards, who is researching the role hardcore these days) is caught on tape by a nature photographer (Jason Lee!) and slipped into the hands of a high end lawyer (Will Smith), the full brunt of the covert teams who committed the act is concentrated on the man. His identity, his family’s safety, and his own life become mere pawns in the hands of these Sun Tsu’s with Blackberries. The chase is on, but luckily our hero has a few tricks up his sleeve including a relationship with a crafty old anti-spy guy (Gene Hackman, wishing he was still making The Conversation). Will the watchers watch the watchmen or will a bunch of fancy editing techniques win the day?
Even Lance Armstrong’s arms ain’t strong enough to repel… MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE!
Enemy of the State is fine. It’s not very good or great but it’s not bad either. It’s an entertaining movie that doesn’t stop to catch its breath that has more guest appearances than Jamie Lee Curtis’s vagina. Everyone is in this film. I had to pause this review to go be in it. The very best thing Jerry Bruckheimer does is that he fills his movies to the brim not only with familiar faces but great actors and actresses. These are people who would never just take the paycheck gig unless they knew they’d be in good company. There’s a magic to that and this film actually has aged better than I remembered it. It’s quite entertaining and Will Smith is at his best when given a forum where his charm and "Will Smithisms" are met with a variety of contrasting styles. He’s obviously a star here, owning nearly every frame he’s in.
It’s also hilarious to see a team of villains populated by all of the members of Young Hollywood who weren’t in rehab. This film would cost $200,000,000 just for the cast alone if it were shot today. Especially if you factor in Herbert West so Jason Robards could participate.
The film falls apart at the end with a horrible True Romance-esque shootout featuring a thankfully clothed Tom Sizemore. It doesn’t just try to tie the loose ends together, it ejaculates crazy glue all around the room in hopes of hitting something. If nothing, it serves as evidence that this film is a prequel to Unbreakable because if Will Smith survived that gunfight by hiding under a flimsy fold-up table he has to be on Mr. Glass’s rolodex.
Don’t get me wrong, this is a fun film. It’s well-made and well-acted for the most part. It’s not as effective as The Rock or Crimson Tide but it works. It just may give you a headache in the process.
"Sniff. Is that Kyle Gas?"
Do not be fooled by these packages as being some amazing gifts of special edition madness dispensed upon you. They have some footage inserted back in, some of it fine and some of it really better off left not on the cutting room floor but in Valkenvania somewhere. They are not glorious DVD releases. The documentaries, though limited, are quite solid and it’s good to have all these films in anamorphic only half a decade late to the party. If you love the films, it’s probably worth upgrading. If you’re casual about them, may I suggest you maintain your cavalier attitude right down the shelf until you reach Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.