Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The Magnificent Seven: Like Wild Wild West... Only Not Shitty

I never saw the original Magnificent Seven, nor did I ever see the original of that movie 7 Samurai... which is strange, I know, because I like westerns and I like movies. But, even more than that... I like Denzel Washington. Back when the trailers for this movie came out, there were no movies I was more excited for. With Denzel attached to any movie, it's going to be better than most.  Even if it's just... okay (I'm looking at you 2 Guns), he's still gonna bring that Denzel ferocity and grin to every role that makes the rest of the shit seem like gold. So, Denzel in a western that looks like it's mostly a shoot-em-up rather than a quiet, slow, burn... yeah, I'm in. Chris Pratt along side him wisecracking and making up for the monstrosity that was Jurassic World... yeah, definitely in.

So, from what I hear, this isn't exactly a remake of the original.  It's got the same concept-- seven dudes in the old west have to band together to kill some bad guys.  That's pretty much all you need to know.  Yes, there is a bad dude (Peter Skarsgaard) who is some sort of oil baron and he's taken over a quaint little western town and shooting dudes point blank in the street.  What a dick.  So, the widow (Haley Bennett) of the dude killed recruits bounty-ish hunter Chisholm (Washington), who recruits card shark Faraday (Pratt) who goes off to recruit a sharpshooter (Ethan Hawke) and his Asian sidekick (Byung-hun Lee), who then run into an old crazy trapper that hacks people up with a tomahawk (Vincent D'Onofrio), who has problems with a Mexican outlaw that's recruited (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo), who partners up with a Native American (Martin Sensmeier).  The seven of them, plus the widow go to the town to defend it against the evil baron's army. That's a western, folks.  And that's all you need.

I thought the movie was pretty decent. Clearly, we have the two stars that stand out above the rest in Denzel and Pratt.  Their chemistry together is wonderful-- the kind of stuff that almost makes you wish for a buddy-comedy-road-trip-spinoff. The rest of the group are serviceable, but what really sticks out like a sore thumb is that none of these people really have that good of a reason to fight. There's the hint of a shit-ton of gold coming their way, but most of them understand that a fight like this is a fight they won't live to see the end of-- so procuring gold isn't really that much of a motivating factor.  In fact, most of the dudes they recruit aren't even promised a share of the gold. I kept wondering, as they're prepping and training and getting ready to fight... why the hell they were still there.

Then, there's the small issue of not getting enough character from all of the seven. We get Denzel, especially in a harrowingly Denzel-type scene at the end, but we don't really even get Pratt.  No real back story.  In fact, the most fleshed out character is Ethan Hawke's character, and he's not even really an integral part of the story.  Everyone else, we get their introduction, we get a few specific scenes of them whoopin ass and that's about it.  Now, for a western like this-- it's usually not much of a problem.  And it really didn't bug me that much.  But, with a cast as diverse as this one, I would've rather seen a bit more backstory from the smaller characters than having them just be named for the place they came from.

The rest of the movie, including the last half hour, are a blast.  The end fight scene which does last a good fourth of the movie is thrilling to watch.  It's as good of an action movie as you'll see.  Even though it's set in the old west, this fight could happen today with modern technology and gunplay and it wouldn't be any cooler than it already is. In fact, because they don't have access to all the technology of today, some of the action and explosions are very clever in the way they're set up. The movie does have a decent amount of cheese and some 'one-liners' that don't necessarily land.  It does have some awkward set-ups, with strange or non-existent payoffs.  And it's definitely not the best crafted western in film history, but it does its job.  It puts together a ragtag team of violent people against an army of even more violent people to showcase a western battle that is just plain fun to watch.  And it's got Denzel.  Come on.  You know you're already going to see it.


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Blair Witch: Found Footage Foibles

1999's The Blair Witch Project has done a lot of good for the film community.  It was the first ever movie to showcase filmmakers being able to make a memorable and terrifying film, for a minuscule budget, and release it wide for the world to see.  It was able to fool half of these people into thinking that the movie was, in fact, found footage. It has had major staying power in the realm of American horror culture and spawned a "never speak of it again" sequel as well as a remake-quel. It has also spawned the likes of movies on a low budget using handheld cameras that are equally, if not more so, terrifying films like Paranormal Activity. However, the film has also done a lot of bad. It has also spawned such found footage films like Apollo 18, The Devil Inside, A Haunted House, Devil's Due, As Above So Below, Project Almanac, and The Gallows.  So, in retrospect, it's really done a lot more harm than good.  However, with the success of the original and the complete and utter failure of the sequel, it was only a matter of time before a remake or a prequel or a reboot or a sequel or a remake-quel was bound to stumble upon us. And it is not the drones we are looking for.

Coming off the success of highly underrated and very clever horror film You're Next, little known horror director Adam Wingard seemed like the best choice.  His work with You're Next as well as his contributions to the anthologies V/H/S, V/H/S 2, and The ABCs of Death.  He's a director, along with longtime writing partner Simon Barrett, that shows true promise and grit in a world overwhelmed by lousy horror filmmakers.  Even if what he produces isn't a masterpiece, there is always something new and inventive, highly creative, and yes, terrifying. So, his take on the Blair Witch piqued my interest simply from his involvement in the film.  Hell, I was even interested when it was announced that this movie was called The Woods and was yet to be discovered as a Blair Witch film. Unfortunately, through most of this particular film, it appears that the aforementioned inventiveness, creativity, and terror were left on the cutting room floor, because all that we get for most of it is a more expensive, and decidedly lackluster, remake of the original.

I've seen this tactic used before and it has actually worked.  Back in 1981, a group of film students took it upon themselves to make a cheap and gory horror movie in the woods and called it The Evil Dead.  It was cheap, it was hokey, and it was awesome.  Then, when the movie deals and money came pouring in, director Sam Raimi took the original crew back out to the woods to do a sequel... except this time he had a bigger budget.  So, a good third of Evil Dead 2 is a more expensive remake of the first movie with better effects, better gore, and an expanded mythology that lead directly into the sequel. I believe this could've worked for Blair Witch had they focused more on adding to the mythology and expanding the story, rather than rehashing it for a new generation.

This time out we've got James, whose sister Heather was the girl from the first movie was lost in the woods only to have her footage discovered.  He ropes his filmmaking friend Lisa into an idea of going out into the woods to look for her (even though it's been almost 20 years later).  Along for the ride is James' best friend Peter and his girlfriend Ashley.  They head out to the Burkitsville woods to look for clues of Heather and see if there really is a witch in the woods.  Out there, the tale of the Blair Witch is told again. Creepy goings-on in the woods start to happen.  Little wooden figurines hang from the trees and time seems to work differently for the crew.  The group of friends, never leaving a camera turned off, begin fighting with one another and searching for a way to get the hell out of there.  If this sounds a lot like the first movie... you're right.  And it essentially is except this time there aren't any handheld cameras.  Everyone has a camera attached to their ear like a bluetooth (which, to be honest, gives the never-putting-the-camera-down gimmick a bit more credulity), and a drone.

But, here's the problem. Even though it is an updated carbon copy of the original-- it's kinda boring. Nothing really happens other than people POPPING UP from out of nowhere in front of cameras in order to give the audience a cheap jump scare. All the friends do is search the wood and bicker. The terror is slow to build and not in a good way.  Then, there's the logic problems with the idea of found footage that stand out like a gay couple at a Chic-Fil-A. When one of the friends starts to feel a little dizzy-- the picture in the camera gets fuzzy.  When another character loses his hearing-- well, wouldn't you know it-- we lose the hearing from the camera replaced by a slight ringing sound that one might experience when... losing hearing.  And finally, I don't think I'm alone here when I say that found footage films are so obnoxious and the novelty has long since worn off.  The quick cuts and the nauseating shaking that forces the audience to look away for seconds at a time just don't seem to be worth the story. There's really nothing about this movie that NEEDED it to be found footage other than the original was.

Now! That being said-- I did say that most of the movie was disappointing. The last fifteen minutes or so are FANTASTIC. While not necessarily adding to the mythology of the Blair Witch it does add a bit more explanation of the house from the end of the first film.  In the original, Heather walks into a creepy house, finds one of her friends eerily standing in a corner, there's a THUD and she drops the camera-- The End. In this film, the same thing happens.  Only we get to see the house. We get to see the house for a good fifteen minutes and this is where the real terror begins, and I mean that-- it's terrifying. The tension I felt in the last fifteen minutes almost made up for the rest of the movie. There's chilling shots of what could be the Blair Witch, there's twists and turns and anxiety and panic behind every door.  It's so good that if Wingard and Barrett had employed this type of filmmaking to the entire movie, it would've been great-- instead of forgettable.

Is the last fifteen minutes worth the rest of the movie? No, probably not.  But the foul taste I had in my mouth for the majority of the film was instantly swept away with the last fifteen minutes and I was able to look back and think, "that kinda sucked... but damn that was a good ending."


Friday, September 16, 2016

Don't Think Twice: A Brutally Honest Improv Dream

I love improv. There's something so magnificent about getting up on a stage with other hilarious individuals and coming up with the most random, off-the-cuff scenarios and committing 100% to the absurdity, doing things you've never done and saying things you've never said until the scene ends for the sole purpose of getting a room full of people to laugh-- to bring joy to someone's life for just an hour. Then understanding that, whatever just happened, whatever divine intervention brought this random sequence of suggestions and events together, was a once in a lifetime fleeting moment.  It can and will never be recreated the same again. Since I was fifteen and first discovered improv games and having the ability to not suck at making people laugh, I knew comedy, and improv, were elements that I always wanted to be a large part of my life. Anyone who has ever graced a stage (whether an intimate community theater located in the landfill behind the burned crack house, or a sold-out crowd of hundreds to thousands) has felt this way as well. Growth of dreams and reaching higher and higher up the comedic and performance tent-pole is a staple of anyone consumed with performance. The reality, however, is that very few "make it". Someone putting together an improv show at their church has the same dreams and aspirations as someone who has made it to Saturday Night Live. The majority of these people will never get to experience the SNL stage.  A majority of these people will never get to sell out Madison Square Garden.  A majority of these people will never get the feeling of walking down the street and getting "recognized".  And it's what you do with that conclusion that defines you not just as a comedian, or a performer, but as a human being. This is what I loved so much about Mike Birbiglia's film Don't Think Twice.

If you've ever had thoughts or aspirations or hardcore dreams about being up in the spotlight making others laugh, then Don't Think Twice will probably not just speak to you personally, but there's a very good chance it will break, nay, shatter your heart into a million pieces. Comedian/Writer/Director/Actor Mike Birbiglia has written a film that's funny, and sad, and heartbreakingly honest. It's about an improv troupe known as The Commune. There's Miles (Birbiglia) the seasoned veteran turned improv teacher who laments about the time he was "seconds" from making it onto an SNL type show known as Weekend Live. After that there's Allison (Kate Miccuci), a background performer slash aspiring writer, Lindsay (Tami Sagher) a grown-up trust fund kid trying to make it on her own, Bill (Chris Gethard), the 'weirdo' of the group dealing with a sick father who expected more out of his son, and Sam (Gillian Jacobs) and Jack (Keegan-Michael Key), a couple who have been given the opportunity of a lifetime-- a chance at auditioning for Weekend Live. Together they're your typical improv troupe, going out every weekend at a small, intimate community theater putting on shows that sell out the crowd of hardly fifty seats. When Jack earns a spot on Weekend Live while the rest are set aside, they all take a good, long look at their own lives and what it means to them to be happy.

There's a moment in the film when Bill reflects upon his own existence in the world of improv and he says something to the effect of, "without improv, I'm just a loser."  For those with these huge ambitions of "making it" to the top of the comedy spectrum that's exactly how it can feel.  For those very short moments each week on stage, you feel like a king.  Once it's over and real life takes over again, life can seem empty. On the stage, you're the master of the universe-- in real life, you sell samples of hummus and chips at the local grocery store. This can be the dream-killer for a lot of comedians. Bill also says that "in your twenties it's all about achieving your dreams. In your thirties it's all about realizing how stupid your dreams were." But the message of the movie is dreams are never stupid or pointless, but it's what you make of those dreams that make them come true or not. What's the difference between performing on Saturday Night Live for the world to be able to see or having a killer show in front of fifty people at a local community theater? The bittersweet realization of the weight performers put on "succeeding" is truly what makes this movie so great.

Also, the cast. I believed they were an improv troupe and had been for years.  Their chemistry is undeniable and remarkable. I would watch the six of them perform improv any day. Each one has a different sad quirk that is exposed through their abilities to make each other laugh.  We see each member experience true pain and they're able to make it through due to, not just a close unit of friends, but through their abilities to make them laugh. And Birbiglia understands this-- that comedy is mostly about pain. Most comics have had to deal with a lot of heartache and loss, which to them, is only fuel to the comedy fire. You'll be hard-pressed to meet a comic that has had a privileged life with zero  suffering and/or prevalent sadness. However, it's those moments when you're able to use the bad and turn it into something that makes you or someone else laugh that makes a good comic.

Don't Think Twice really spoke to me. When I was in high school, all I wanted was to be a famous comedian. I wanted my face on billboards and girls who rejected me sending me vials of their tears because they could've had someone so awesome.  I wanted my stand-up special to be on comedy central.  I wanted to write and star in the funniest movie of all time. And now, I don't have these dreams of grandeur.  Yes, I still want to write the funniest movie of all time and having my own special (now on Netflix-- it's 2016-- Netflix didn't exist back then) is something I certainly wouldn't turn down... but I can find that happiness I'd feel if I saw my face on a billboard-- into one night of good improv. A night where everything fell into place at the right moments and made that one particular night better than all the rest.  In that small theater, in front of that small, yet devoted crowd, tears in their eyes from laughing so hard can give me that feeling of success just as much as being famous would. And that's what Birbiglia emphasizes in this film. Dream big. It's not impossible to "make it". But, if you don't... never give up doing what you love.  Never give up the chance to make someone's day a little bit funnier. Success is not defined by fame. And if you are one of the very few to make it... don't forget those that helped you get there.

(I realize this was less of a review and more of a personal introspection-- but, whatever, it's my blog, and I really liked this movie.)


Friday, September 9, 2016

Sully: The Hero We Deserve, But Maybe Not The Movie...

Have you ever been watching a movie and about halfway through you realize that, while you are not hating the film, this will probably be the only time you ever watch it?  You're glad that you're sitting down to watch it, but there's just something about it that says 'yeah, once is enough'? That's how I felt about Sully mid-way through the movie. I wasn't having a bad time or not enjoying the movie, but it became clear that there would never be another instance in my life where I desired to watch it again. And Tom Hanks usually never has the effect on me. He's generally a very watchable actor who makes movies you want to watch more than once (forgetting, of course, all about the existence of Larry Crowne).  Sully does a serviceable job of honoring it's title hero, but leaves the viewer with just enough satisfaction of getting his or her money's worth without ever needing a second viewing.

For those who don't know, New York hero Captain Chesley 'Sully' Sullenberger departed from La Guardia airport on January 15th, 2009 with 155 souls on board the aircraft. Minutes after departure, the plane struck a flock of birds that flew into both engines rendering them both dead. Quick to act, Captain Sully made an emergency water landing in the Hudson River just miles from the airport, unable to safely fly the plane back. All 155 passengers (pilots and flight attendants included) survived with only minor injuries sustained to those that didn't escape "without a scratch". It is one of the most heroic moments in commercial aviation history and deserves to be remembered and honored.  But the question that lingered in my mind, both when I saw the trailer, and now having just seen the film... did it need to be a movie?

Two-hundred and eight seconds the turmoil lasted. Once the plane hit the water the flight attendants and pilots helped passengers safely off the plane and onto rafts in the Hudson.  The Coast Guard and the NYPD took twenty-four minutes to respond, successfully rescuing every passenger aboard the aircraft. This is nothing short of amazing. But did it need to be a movie? Looking at it from Hollywood standpoint, of course it did. Any remotely interesting story that's put into print should 100% be made into a movie if it can make money. But from an audience perspective, I'm not sure it passed muster. The film seemed to strain to put together a solid 96 minute run time.  It lingers heavily on Sully's dreams after the crash.  He constantly sees himself unsuccessfully landing the plane and crashing into buildings and killing everyone on board. It's a stretch to imagine the actual Sully having gone through this, but who knows? We get very unimportant flashbacks of Sully's flying experience both as a youngster with a crop duster and in the armed forces.  Neither scene add greatly to the overall story.  Sully reminds us twice that he's been flying for over forty years.  This information seemed, to me, to be sufficient enough to give the man his credibility.

The moments that make the movie worthwhile, however, are very well done and intriguing, even to the point of thrilling (even though the audience knows exactly what's going to happen each time). We get pieces of the crash throughout the movie from differing perspectives-- from the air traffic controllers attempting to guide Sully in making his way safely back to the airport, to the flight crew, to the passengers, to finally Sully and his co-pilot Jeff Skiles (Aaron Eckhart). This is the heart of the movie where we are able to experience every aspect of the crash and how it really never should've gone as successfully as it did. Yet, there is all this filler and fluff in-between of Sully trying to prove that his actions were the only ones that allowed everyone to walk away with their lives. The board trying to show that he could've made it back to the airport and Sully questioning whether or not he made the right decision.  And while I don't exactly know the entire story surrounding the aftermath of the crash... it seems most of this was created to add to the drama of the film... and not what actually happened to the real hero. Then, there's this strange tension played up between Sully and his wife (Laura Linney) who we only get to see on the other side of phone calls.  There are moments when it seems his marriage is either on the verge of ending or has already ended or is in a bit of a limbo. But it only comes from him. It's never truly explained and it's a sore thumb in a movie that carries with it other sore digits.

Call it old age, call it mind-slippage at its finest, but lately Clint Eastwood has been making very vanilla films. They're the perfect embodiment of the term 'meh'. In fact, aside from American Sniper, in the past eight years Eastwood has only made movies that are the film equivalent of plain toast. From Invictus to Hereafter to J. Edgar and Jersey Boys, his movies all have that strange, quiet vanilla feeling of emptiness and stale monotony. This is how the fluff of Sully feels.  This is how everything outside the aircraft in the movie feels. Nevertheless, when we get the scenes of the two-hundred and eight second crash is where the movie truly feels alive. This is what genuinely honors its hero.

Tom Hanks is great in it, playing Sully with a quiet stoicism we're not all that used to seeing from Hanks. He is deeply troubled and concerned about the future of his career and thoughts on whether endangering so many people was the right decision. Even though personally I believe only about thirty minutes of the movie are worth watching, it's nice to have Tom Hanks leading the thirty minutes. Chances are, you're not going to see this movie in theaters.  In fact, the theater I was in was only half-full and I was the only one in there under the age of 65. So, take your grandmother to see who he probably believes is the greatest hero of the twenty-first century, or wait until it's blasted on the 'Suggestions For You' section of your Netflix home screen. While, personally, I don't believe this movie needed to exist, it is nice to see effort made on behalf of Eastwood and the crew to give Sully the recognition of heroism he absolutely deserved.


Sunday, September 4, 2016

Blood Father: Had This Been Made Before We Saw The Real Mel, It Would've Made A Ton Of Money

Do you guys remember Mel Gibson? No, I mean really remember him? I'm not talking about Mel Gibson whose voice we heard ripping his wife a new asshole full of racism, sexism, hate, and just overall being a contemptible human being.  I mean on-screen Gibson.  Yes, Mel Gibson in real life is, unfortunately, a piece of shit.  It's getting worse and worse to know that on-screen presences of actors we truly adore turn out to be monsters behind the camera. But, I've always had a soft spot for Mel. I don't think I'd really like to get to know the guy or hang out or anything, but Mel Gibson in his movies is my favorite Mel. Do you remember that Mel Gibson? Do you remember Lethal Weapon Mel? Ransom Mel? Maverick, Payback, The Patriot, Signs, Braveheart Mel??? He's not just one of the best action stars of our lifetime, he actually makes good action movies because he's a likable screen presence. However, due to being a human pig shit, his career has essentially gone kaput. No one wants to actively give Mel Gibson their money, not matter how much they can't deny that the dude makes really good movies.  I had a small glimmer of hope that Blood Father would be the movie to get Mel to movie theaters so I could watch it on the big screen.  Unfortunately, people have still not been able to forgive and forget as Blood Father hit three theaters within a 100 mile radius of me (and I live in L.A.).  However, because I have such a hard-on for Mel Gibson revenge killing people in a grungy desert setting, I coughed up the $6.99 to watch it On-Demand and I have to say the only disappointment I have with the movie... is that I didn't get to watch it on the big screen.

Most of you probably haven't heard of Blood Father. And chances are those that haven't heard of it aren't even reading this review. The few that are, let me tell you how awesome this movie is.  First off, we get crazy Mel Gibson with full tattoos and menacingly long grey beard. He's got a lot of hurt behind those eyes and could crack at any second.  He plays Link, an ex-con who has been in and out of prison his entire life.  He's finally decided to quit screwing up his life and everyone else's.  He's on parole, he's sober, and he's living in trailer on the beach doing tattoos.  His life is going fine (hanging out with his AA sponsor William H. Macy) until his estranged 17-year-old daughter calls him up to tell him she's in some deep shit with the Mexican cartels. Now, the cartels are sending low-level guys to kill her all the way up to some terrifying Sicarios to kill her and the only one who can save her... yup... Mel fucking Gibson.

What makes this movie isn't just the charisma that Mel Gibson still retains.  It's hard to remember just how watchable of an actor he really is because he hasn't done a lot in the past decade, but once you get into the movie, it's like he never left (or said and did awful things in real life).  But, what makes the movie is that it's not just your typical revenge thriller action movie.  There is a serious amount of depth to each of the characters. Gibson isn't just this hardened ex-con turned killer now that his daughter is in trouble.  He's a man who has had to face the fact that his past, the majority of his life, has been wasted in prison and drunk.  He never got to be there as a father for his daughter and the sins of his past has washed off onto her.  He experiences real pain as he watches her go down the same paths he did when he was younger.  He's tough, but loving.  He's a badass, but he's human. He's cunning, but impulsive. It's a great character.  Liam Neeson's writers should watch this movie and take note of everything that's been missing from his action films lately.

There's also a very necessary grit to the movie that separates it from standard action fare.  It's got the outer appearance of a Saturday afternoon shoot 'em up, but the spine to be able to stand out above the rest. I watch these movies to see Gibson killing people in inventive and brutal ways (and he does) but what elevates it above the rest is that I actually care about these characters. They're humanized beyond the standard action fare. By the end, I am actually rooting for them to succeed not just because I've been told to understand they are the protagonists but because I actually care about them as characters. And also because there's a lot of shooting and stabbing and killing and blood and Mel Gibson dropping F-bombs like an insane person and literally calling almost anyone on the bad-guy-side a 'cocksucker'.  It's a thoroughly enjoyable film. 


Mechanic: Resurrection: Tropes Trump Reason, But It's Jason Statham So Who Cares?

I feel like studios get Jason Statham to sign contracts for movies that don't exist yet. They get him to say he'll do an action movie for them, they pay him a decent amount of money, then they find someone on the cheap to write a script with the description: Jason Statham (and nothing else). This is not necessarily a bad thing, especially to me.  He's one of my go-to action guys whose movies I make sure not to miss.  These movies don't have to be good movies (and most of the time they're not), they just have to have an essential amount of Jason Statham killing people. However, one could see how this set-up might not work because most of the time the movies are lazy, regurgitated from other good movies, and slapped together quickly without focusing on character, plot, and especially reason. And even though I had a great time watching Mechanic: Resurrection and loved all of it, I can objectively say that it is not a good movie.

So, you guys remember The Mechanic right? No? Well, you knew this was the sequel to that movie, though, right? No? Okay. Let's start there. Mechanic: Resurrection is a sequel to a 2011 Statham movie.  He plays a hit man for hire whose specialty is making the hits look like accidents. You know... he FIXES things. So, five years later, and an entire country of people who have forgotten the original exits and a 0% of the population who desired a sequel. Statham plays Bishop, the hit man who faked his death at the end of the first movie, living off the grid disguised as a man named Otto (get it? Otto Mechanic??????).  He's found by a dude he used to be orphans with (don't ask) and forced to perform three assassinations (that must look like accidents) or they'll kill Bishop's love interest (Jessica Alba), a woman he's known for like four days and now loves because she looks good in a bikini and, I guess, because she's a sympathetic character-- being that she teaches Cambodian orphans (again, don't ask). So, he plans out these incredibly elaborate kills under time scrutiny (and the timing is all kinds of plot hole-y) and eventually goes after the main villain. Oh, and Tommy Lee Jones pops up looking like Bono for all of three minutes.

The movie is downright stupid. Most action movies, especially ones under the B-movie category are going to have their fair share of plot holes.  Mechanic: Resurrection has the most I think I've ever seen. Bishop has 36 hours to fly from Thailand to Australia, find an apartment, rent it, move in, scale the giant skyscraper apartment wall, and plant a bomb underneath a glass pool that extends past the building so that the person swimming in it falls to his death-- and it still looks like an accident.  All of the kills are like this. Except the plans are so elaborate and Bishop is so good at his job that he's never discovered (dude escapes a Malaysian prison unscathed) that it makes no sense why he didn't just say screw the three kills and go kill the bad guy that his his girlfriend. This was definitely doable. Or how about the bad guy keeping Jessica Alba around so long?  There are so many moments where he should've just walked up to her and shot her in the head because he didn't need her anymore. Most of the movie is this way. Then there are just moments that are downright stupid.  What is Bishop's solution to swimming in shark-infested waters? Oh... there's a shark repellent cream he rubs on his body that keeps the sharks away.

Finally, this movie, through probably zero self-awareness at all, employs every single action trope imaginable. But not, like, contemporary action tropes.  We're talking of all time.  Like, I couldn't tell you how many times we get the point of view of Bishop looking at people or things through a pair of giant binoculars. But, all of that is the draw to me of Statham. Do I wish he was getting better scripts to action movies he could kill people in? Absolutely. But then there would be nothing to laugh at and it might detract from the fun. He was the villain in Fast 7 and he was awesome in it, but it was a better script than most Statham movies and the laughs weren't there (though the fun still was).  The draw, to me, of a Statham movie is watching him pound people into jelly, crack a terrible one-liner or two and then do it several times more. Mechanic: Resurrection has these elements, but failed to totally encompass what it means to make a successful Statham movie. There is action... but not as much as anyone going to see the movie desires. There are a lot of kills... but a good chunk of the middle he's killing people to make it look like an accident... kinda takes the fun out.  And the biggest failure of all... trying to give Statham a love interest.  You don't do that. You take it away from him.  His love interest is killed very early on and his one motivation is revenge.  THAT is what makes a Statham movie. Not Jessica Alba.

But, Statham fans should rejoice because it is still a fun movie to watch.  The action is good.  There are some very gnarly kills.  There's Statham cracking a one-liner or two.  And there's an enjoyable couple of minutes of Tommy Lee Jones (though for the life of me I can't understand why he agreed to be in the movie and what the point of his character actually even was). If you're not a die hard Statham fan at heart-- you're going to think it's a very stupid waste of a movie (if you even remember it still exists only one week after its premiere date).  It's a really terrible movie and I loved it.