vice vice vice vice vice… miami!

Another movie. Another set of previews:

The Black Dahlia — oh god, I want this not to suck. I want this to be awesome in the same way L.A. Confidential was. Oh god, Josh Hartnett is so not even Guy Pearce, much less Russell Crowe. Oh god, Brian DePalma’s last great film was almost twenty years ago. Oh god, Scarlett Johannsen is so not Kim Basinger. Oh god.

The Departed — Okay, a great trailer. Jack Nicholson being all… Nicholsony, in a non-self-parodying way he hasn’t been since… god, I can’t even remember. Probably before I was born. The use of “Gimme Shelter” immediately made me think: “Wow, someone’s really channelling Scorcese here…” and then, what do you know, “A Martin Scorcese film.” Leonardo… well, that’s normally not a good sign, but he sucked less in “The Aviator” than I expected him too, so I won’t scoff. But then… about a third of the way into this, my brain started tingling… I’ve seen this film before, haven’t I? Undercover cop, certain there’s a mole in his own department… shifting loyalties, secret codes… holy shit, it’s Infernal Affairs. Martin Scorcese is re-making Infernal Affairs?! Why yes, Martin Fucking Scorcese Is Re-Making Infernal Fucking Affairs, with Jack Fucking Nicholson, Mark Fucking Wahlberg, Martin Fucking Sheen, and Alec Fucking Baldwin. This will either be inhumanly awesome or the end of Scorcese’s career. (It will probably depend on whether he manages to discover the missing second act in the original’s unique “preface… preface… more preface… surprise, denouement!” story structure.) He’s got my $10 either way.

Children of Men — I swear to god, for the first half of this trailer, I thought I was seeing an ad for “Half-Life 2: The Movie”, starring Clive Owen as Gordon Freeman, Julianne Moore as Alyx Vance and Michael Caine as Dr. Eli Vance. And it looked great and I wanted to cheer: they’ve finally made a great movie out of a video game! Then just at the 50% mark, everything ran off the rails: it’s not Half-Life. Blah blah blah, lame SF scenario by obvious first-time SF writer. Blah blah blah, embarrassingly trite racial politics practically wafting off the screen. Blah blah blah, complete waste of Chiwetel Ejiofor. Also complete waste of Alfonso CuarĂ³n in additon to all aforementioned actors. Hope everyone got paid well, won’t be giving you my money, thanks.

Jet Li: Fearless — allegedly Li’s final martial arts film, His Most Utter Expressionlessness returns to save China from, of course, a large roundeye wrestler. It looks verrrrrrrry suspiciously like Drunken Master II with Crouching Tiger’s budget, but… you know, now that I think of it, Drunken Master II with Couching Tiger’s budget sounds like a great idea. Fine, sold.

Oh right, the actual movie:

Um, embarrassingly enough: kinda good. Occasionally even awesome. Probably the most well-crafted dumb testosterone movie since Ronin. It totally channeled the complete silliness, plot-wise, of any given episode of the old TV series into a perfectly formed jewel of lowbrow filmmaking. Fast cars, boats and planes zoomed around. Unfeasibly competent men and women killed each other with grim intensity. Hard-boiled dialog was doled out in bite-sized chunks. Large weapons went boom. Gong Li rocked an Armani women’s suit like it has not been rocked in a very, very long time. Jamie Foxx performed similar amounts of rocking merely with a goatee. The plot made not a lick of sense on close examination and you Did. Not. Care. At. All.

It’s not perfect in the way that Ronin was; there are a couple serious flaws. Foxx and Farrell were good on their own merits, but together never sold their rapport in the same way that Don Johnson and Philip Thomas did. For as little dialogue as the movie had, it had a lot of clunker lines, percentage-wise. Casting Domenick Lombardozzi as Switek was great on the one hand, but bad on the other because it kept reminding you of The Wire and hence (a) making me expect that the plot would make more sense, and (b) making me keep wondering where the heck Carver was. But all in all? A good use of $10.

…except it ended up being free, because some dipshit pulled the fire alarm at the Metreon mid-way through the movie, and we all got to shuffle outside the theater for 20 minutes midway through until the SFFD gave the all-clear. Which could have been a huge pain in the ass but intstead ended up being a perfectly timed intermission — more proof that they need to revive that particular tradition.

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