Zero Dark, Reacher, Django

Movies and Television

Two are Oscar bait; one’s a ‘franchise’ installment. None have me overly impressed.

Reaching for It

Tom Cruise more or less passed his MI action hero mantle to Jeremy Renner (recipient of Matt Damon’s baton in the lesser Bourne Legacy) in Ghost Protocol, so I’m not sure what the point of Jack Reacher is.

Jack Reacher isn’t a character performance or a particularly edgy vehicle ala Collateral. It had a little action, a little mystery, unconvincing darkness – but nothing we can’t see better and faster any night of the week on any number of procedurals. There’s a few interesting and impossible to believe moments, but nothing to relaunch a career as action hero.

Insert [Brokeback] joke here. © 2012 Weinstein Co.
Insert [Brokeback] joke here. © 2012 Weinstein Co.
Kill Leonardo, Volumes I, II, IX

While I enjoyed Django Unchained, I still thought it was an overblown and overlong attempt to connect two different stories for the sake of homage and clever movie-making.

First there’s THEY MEET. Done twice, for love hook up and the buddy team pairing. We see Django get his girl, lose his girl, get tortured all ‘Slavery is Evil’ style. Then he meets Bounty Hunter Extraordinaire, which fuck it, does bring a little funny.

Then there’s THE CHASE. Are we chasing The Girl? No that rescue waits. And waits. For the second half of a three-hour movie.

No we spend entirely too long on Django’s bounty-hunter-in-training sequence, never you mind the McGuffin of going after the Big Bad Evil Slavers – the ones so mysterious and impossible to identify our BHE (Oscar nominee Christoph Waltz) had to go to great links to find and train Jamie Foxx in the first damn place. Then all of 3.4 seconds to take ’em out, thus ending parts I and II.

Part IX, the di Caprio years, are when things both get interesting and make no sense.

Interesting because it’s Save the Girl time, more violence and classic Tarantino humor. Senseless because, with the job done, why the fuck is Waltz putting his money and life on the line for Django like this? Oh right, buddy flick. Whatever.

Samuel L. Jackson was great, I’ll give you that. But too much I think was put into craft, throw back, finding spots for every classical Western actor that was, odd bits just tossed for kicks.. than just making a good – ok this was good, even better – movie.

Chandler, Clarke bring it. © 2012 Columbia Pictures
Chandler, Clarke bring it. © 2012 Columbia Pictures

Zeroing In

While I can’t make comparisons to Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker, I can compare Zero Dark Thirty to many other military-CIA flicks I’ve seen and while this was pretty damn good, I still have issues.

Jessica (The Help) Chastain turned in a hell of a performance as a CIA op, particularly when she was fighting the red tape bullshit of The System. And yet with the whole thing hinging on her gut and a lot of maybe tech-fu, that’s pretty weaksauce. Plenty of other standouts – ignored by critics – which is a shame, because I enjoyed watching Kyle Chandler and Jason Clarke a hella lot.

Plus: The SEAL team wasn’t a bunch of ripped, shirtless bohunks – they looked more like lumberjacks or beer buddies getting ready for some ice fishing. IDK it added a little realism, grounded it in a way that made it seem less Hollywood.

Final Snark: Cruise actually can act – even still ‘lead’ – but needs better material. Tarantino can still bring wicked creativity – but needs a tighter editor. Zero Dark Thirty hits all the marks – but doesn’t rank high on my Re-Watchable Meter.

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