Hardcore Henry is a shot of pure adrenalin on top of an urn of coffee, a six-pack of Coke and about a pound of rice krispie treats. It replicates the experience of watching an expert play a first person shooter video game while layering in a love story and several unexpected dollops of wit.
The latest ‘found footage’ film, Apollo 18 suggests a really creepy reason why we’ve never been back to the moon.
Produced by Timur Bekmambetov [Night Watch, Wanted] and directed by Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego, Apollo 18 chronicles the fate of the 1973 moon mission we never knew was sent. Apollo 18 arrives in theaters April 22, 2011.
I apologize for being a little lax on updating this weekly column, but I’ve been busy putting the final touches on the upcoming EM Book. But wow, what a way to come back. The folks at Fox Home Vide are bringing a slew of their Horror classics to Blu-ray (or as they call it Boo-ray, cute) September 9th. It seems weird that they don’t release these titles on, oh, I don’t know…Halloween? They are bringing out the complete Omen Collection – which includes the bad 2006 remake with the goofy (not scary) looking kid (Damn you Fox! I just bought that collection off of Amazon last week) and the Russian Horror series Night Watch and Day Watch. I don’t know if I would classify those two as horror, even though it is about things that go bump in the night. We may try and convince Fox to let us do a giveaway. These are some great titles. Check out the full press release after the break, jump, whatever….
The summer of the Comic-book movie continues this weekend with the launch of Wanted an adaptation of Mark Miller’s over the top graphic novel about a wimp who gets turned into an amoral, masochistic Super Villain. I had never heard of this book until the movie was announced last year. So I saw the film cold. I walked out of the theater being mixed, on the one hand Russia action director Timur Bekmambetov channels his inner Woo to bring us some amazing action sequences on the other the acting is all over the place. No matter how much Hollywood wants it to be true, James McAvoy doesn’t have the “It” factor. He’s ok in small doses but he just lacks charisma. Last year Timur floored me with the amazing, over the top Day Watch – if you are an action fan, you must see this. But all the elements that made Day watch so amazing, don’t work in Wanted.
Remember the scene in Pulp Fiction where Uma Thurman’s character overdoses and John Travolta’s character has to administer a shot of adrenaline directly to her heart? That is, roughly speaking, the effect that Timur Bekmambetov’s Wanted has on an audience.
Wesley Gibson [James McAvoy] is a cubicle slave with an impressive, but meaningless title, and a boss who takes particular delight in demeaning him. He has a surprisingly good-looking girlfriend and a cheery best friend – who are sleeping with each other. Then, one night when he’s in line at a pharmacy to buy medication for his anxiety attacks, a gorgeous, tattooed goddess of a woman informs him that his father was the greatest assassin in the world; the number two guy killed him the day before and is just… over there!
Wesley, it seems, has inherited his father’s skills, but has been blithely unaware – mistaking his hunter’s/assassin’s traits as anxiety attacks. The goddess is named Fox [Angelina Jolie] and he is to become a member of The Fraternity – a society of assassins headed by the dapper, dignified Sloan [Morgan Freeman]. Of course, he’ll have to be trained – by a host of assassins with names Like The Repairman [Mark Warren] and Gunsmith [Common]. Then he will hunt and kill the man who killed his father.
Based on Mark Millar’s graphic novel of the same name, Wanted seems to be little more than a framework to showcase Bekmambetov’s dexterity as a director. Instead, it turns out to be a showcase for McAvoy’s transformation from wage slave to a man in charge of his own life – and for Fox to discover the real meaning of integrity. At the same time, of course, Bekmambetov does, indeed, throw everything he’s got into action sequence that take the work of people like Louis Leterrier and the Wachowski Brothers and ramp it up to a level so high that the bar is no longer even visible.
Except for a very few scenes, Wanted makes the proverbial bat out of hell look like a tortoise on its back. The fight scenes are agile in ways that combine John Woo and the Shaw Brothers with Peckinpah and the Wachowskis; the chases are well into the land that exists beyond ridiculous, and the gun play is beyond even that.
Bekmambetov hits us so quickly with pans and zooms and smash cuts and dissolves and changes of pace that we go along for the ride – even though the whole thing is as insubstantial as smoke [and we get some of that, too]. This is what summer blockbusters are supposed to be – smart and absurd and gracefully jagged adrenaline delivery systems. On that level, it is superb!