Generally, I think Tony Scott is an intriguing director, but I’ve never got the feeling that he has a definable style or that signature genre which he excels in – other than teaming up with Denzel Washington on 5 different movies. The problem starts immediately with the introduction of Frank (Denzel Washington). He’s the type of guy that we don’t want to spend five minutes with that alone however long this movie is – it feels like three hours. You know the type, the know it all who never lets you forget that they know everything. After five minutes I wanted him to just shut up already.
Official Website Synopsis
Eli walks alone in post-apocalyptic America. He heads west along the Highway of Death on a mission he doesn’t fully understand but knows he must complete. In his backpack is the last copy of a book that could become the wellspring of a revived society. Or in the wrong hands, the hammer of a despot. Denzel Washington is Eli, who keeps his blade sharp and his survival instincts sharper as his quest thrusts him into a savage wasteland…and into explosive conflict with a resourceful warlord (Gary Oldman) set on possessing the book. “We walk by faith, not by sight,” quotes Eli. Under the taut direction of the Hughes Brothers (Menace II Society), those words hit home with unexpected meaning and power. Available on Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD, On Demand and for Download 6/15!
Much has been made of the The Book of Eli as a platform for Christian beliefs as its protagonist carries the last remaining Bible across America, headed west to… we don’t know what. What matters is what Eli [Denzel Washington] believes – and he believes that a voice, a voice as real as any he’s ever heard, told him where to find The Book and to take it west. That, in essence is the film’s plot – along with the obstacles that Eli finds in his path. These obstacles include a band cannibal killers who use a woman chained to a shopping cart as bait; an elderly couple who are full of surprises, and the mayor of a small town who rules with an iron hand.
The Hughes Brothers are back baby and in fine fashion. I really wasn’t in the mood to see a movie today, and certainly not a post apocalyptic one. I’ll admit I was ready to walk out ten minutes into The Book of Eli but the movie’s slow pacing actually sucked me in. As Eli (Denzel Washington) walks this dirty, dank, desolate world we see how low humanity has sunk and the mystery of who this man is deepens. This movie is literally and figuratively about faith on all levels – faith in God, faith in your fellow man, faith in the will to survive. It’s a message movie that doesn’t try to beat you over the head with its religious overtones – ok, it does, but for some reason I didn’t mind it as much and I’m a borderline Atheist.
In a year when every summer film has been directed by some bland, visionless studio hack like McG, it was great watching a movie that clearly had a style and vision to it. At no point in “The Taking of Pelham 123,” you do not know that yes, this is a Tony Scott movie. All of his signature touches are here – the slow-quick motion edits, the fly in transitions, the map of the city with the text overlays it’s all here. Usually, I don’t like it when Directors insert themselves into the movie, but here it works.
For a movie written by a great screenwriter like Brian Helgeland, it’s filled with some draw droppingly bad moments. There were times when things got so stupid that I wanted to walk out, these moments kept taking me out of an otherwise thoroughly enjoyable movie. It’s why I’m having so much trouble with this review, does the good make you forget the bad? Ultimately, yes, but wow the bad moments are really, really bad. Most of them center around New York City’s Mayor (James Gandolfini) and this idiot Girl whose boyfriend has a laptop on the train that happens to have the web cam turned on so everyone in the city can see what’s going on. I got the feeling she cared more about being an Internet star than her boyfriend, there’s this dumb moment when she’s begging her boyfriend to tell her he loves her when one of the Terrorist is right near the computer.
Though it’s a remake, The Taking of Pelham 123 has an intriguing pedigree. It’s written by Brian Helgeland [L.A. Confidential, Conspiracy Theory, and Mystic River among other things] and directed by Tony Scott [Top Gun, True Romance and Deja Vu – but also The Fan and Domino], whose career hasn’t been exactly hot of late. The Talking of Pelham 123 may make Scott an in demand director again and it certainly won’t hurt Helgeland’s career, either.
It doesn’t seem like a particularly bad day for Walter Garber [Denzel Washington]. He’s running a section of dispatch for the New York City subway and things are going smoothly. We know that’s going to change because we see a series of quick cuts with determined looking men boarding a particular train – one of them is Ryder [John Travolta]. An unexpected moment of violence puts their plan into action a bit early, but it goes smoothly and the determined men take control of the train.
“Frank Lucas was one of the biggest drug dealers in the history of America, a black man in 1973 that was worth about half a billion dollars, and no one knew it.” – Denzel Washington
I’ll admit it, I’ve never been much of a fan of Denzel Washington, he’s a great actor but for some reason he just never did it for me. But in American Gangster Denzel captivates and hold the screen. He’s both charming and disarmingly deadly at the same time. I generally love gangster films but hate the over glorification of the lifestyle. Never once in AG did I feel American Gangster glorified Denzel’s Frank Lucas. Continue reading American Gangster is Pure Oscar Bait, but it works! Michelle’s Review