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Review of “Rings”

Julia and Holt (Matilda Lutz and Alex Roe) are young lovers now separated as Holt has gone to an out-of-town college while Julia stays home to take care of her ailing mother. The pair keeps in touch with nightly Skype calls but after a few months, Holt stops calling. After getting a frantic Skype call from a girl named Skye (Aimee Teegarden) on Holt’s account, Julia decides to go find Holt. She stops first at a lecture given by Gabriel (Johnny Galecki), a professor for whom Holt had expressed admiration. Gabriel initially pretends to not remember Holt and Julia follows him to a room filled with students and images of others that appear warped. She overhears a conversation between Gabriel and Skye. Skye is upset and concerned for her safety. Gabriel assures her everything will be alright and to make a copy and find a tail. Confused, Julia follows Skye to her car and asks about Holt’s whereabouts. Skye tells her she knows where he is but she has to come to her home and see something. At Skye’s house, Julia notices text messages coming from Holt. She tells Holt where she is and he tells her not to watch any videos Skye might show her. Julia locks herself in a room of the house and hears odd noises coming from the other side of the door. When it quiets down, Julia opens the door to find Skye sitting in a chair dead with her face contorted in an unnatural way. Holt shows up at Skye’s house and the pair checks into a motel where Holt explains about the video of a little girl in a well and after you watch it your phone rings with a little girl on the other end that says “seven days.” At the end of the seven days, you die. Gabriel believes the video is proof of the existence of a soul and of the afterlife. He’s seen the video and passed it along to other people. As long as you make a copy and someone else watches it your seven day deadline is postponed. The person you show it to is called a “tail.” The last person that sees it needs to find a tail before their seven days is up to stop their countdown. Concerned for Holt’s life, Julia decides to watch the video. While on the phone listening to the girl say “seven days,” Julia begins to see visions of a room with a bolted metal door. The handset overheats and burns a pattern into her hand. Holt and Julia then go to Gabriel and explain she has watched the video. He says she needs a tail but Julia refuses to show the video to anyone; but she agrees to make a copy of the video just in case. When she tries to copy the video she discovers the video she watched has more information embedded in the frames. Gabriel is able to make the information available and Julia watches it. From the extra video the group discovers there is a mystery that needs to be solved that might possibly save their lives.

As with most film franchises, the more entries there are the worse they become. “Rings” continues that sorry tradition with a convoluted story, bad acting and a monster that has far too many rules and requirements in order to collect victims.

The basic premise of “Rings” is rather complicated: Watch a video, get a phone call, try to get more people to watch the video to postpone your death, try to get those people to get more people to watch the video, etc., etc., etc. It strains the even tenuous credibility of a horror movie. Add to that the outdated VCR/video cassette technology that apparently must be the original point of infection and you see how “Rings” is nearly dead on arrival (pardon the expression).

A good story and compelling characters might have saved the movie but writers David Loucka, Jacob Aaron Estes and Akiva Goldsman only manage to come up with a mystery about the backstory of Samara, the girl at the bottom of the well. It’s not necessarily a bad choice to make as there’s only so much you can do to freshen up the third installment of a film franchise. Sadly, the mystery isn’t very well conceived as it requires a great deal of correct guesses and coincidences to solve. I appreciate the effort but the execution comes up lacking.

The acting in “Rings” is largely amateurish. Both Matilda Lutz and Alex Roe only stretch their acting muscles in one direction, nailing the “deer in headlights” look over and over again as insanity presents itself before them.

Johnny Galecki doesn’t seem to have a tight grasp on his character’s motivation. He never plays the role of the college professor that starts off the video infection as smarmy or callous enough to be effective. He is fine in the role but doesn’t work nearly as hard to sell the part as he does his character on “The Big Bang Theory.”

The only actor that seems to truly pour himself into the role is Vincent D’Onofrio as the blind cemetery groundskeeper Burke (yes, you read that right). D’Onofrio always looks for little bits of business to flesh out his characters no matter how small the role. He does the same here. It is a small but pivotal part that proves to be the singular shining light in an otherwise dreary film.

“Rings” is rated PG-13 for thematic elements, some sexuality, brief drug material and violence/terror. Not much terror to speak of. The people Samara kills look like they’ve been submerged in water for a few days and have distorted faces. There is a car crash that results in a death. There are a few scenes of violence involving the death of Samara as well as an attack using a heavy cane. There is a very brief scene of a character smoking a joint. The sexuality involves Julia and Holt rolling around in bed both mostly clothed. Child abuse and holding a person prisoner are discussed. Foul language is mild and rare.

“Rings” uses many of the tried and true horror movie tropes in an effort to scare its audience. They are so over used they have become ineffective: Tense music, moments of silence broken by a sudden loud noise, dark settings, squeaking doors revealing pitch black rooms and several more are put to work in the film and none produces more than a slight jump scare. Add in the messy storytelling and high school-level acting and you have a sometimes tedious third film in a franchise that needs to be retired. While I appreciate the history/mystery aspect of the plot it can’t save what is a premise that needs to be thrown back to the bottom of the well from which it came.

“Rings” gets two stars out of five.

Fifty Shades Darker—

John Wick: Chapter Two—

The LEGO Batman Movie—

Follow me on Twitter @moviemanstan and send emails to stanthemovieman@comcast.net.

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Review of “The Magnificent Seven”

Matthew and Emma Cullen (Matt Bomer and Haley Bennett) live in the small frontier community of Rose Creek. The nearby gold mine is owned by Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard) and he wants to force out all the residents of Rose Creek and take over the entire valley. During a meeting at the church of many of the town’s residents, Bogue walks in and offers only $20.00 per property to the remaining families. His cadre of armed men forces everyone into the street and set the church on fire. When Matthew stands up to Bogue, Bogue pulls out a gun and kills him. Since the town’s sheriff is on Bogue’s payroll, nothing is done to stop his reign of terror. Emma rides to the next town and witnesses a bounty hunter named Chisolm (Denzel Washington) wipe out a bar full of outlaws and ask him to help her. Initially reluctant Chisolm agrees when he hears Bogue is involved. His first recruit is a hard-drinking poker player named Josh Faraday (Chris Pratt). Then they find an outlaw named Rulfo Vasquez (Manuel Garcia), Goodnight Robicheaux (Ethan Hawke), Billy Rocks (Lee Byung-hun), Jack Horne (Vincent D’Onofrio) and Native American Red Harvest (Martin Sensmeier). The group heads to town and quickly wipes out all of Bogue’s men. The sheriff is left alive and Chisolm sends him to tell Bogue what happened and challenge him to return to town and face Chisolm. The seven convinces the townspeople to join them and prepare for the coming bloodthirsty hired gunmen that Bogue will lead to town.

“The Magnificent Seven” is a remake of a 1960 film of the same name that starred Yul Brenner, Steve McQueen and Eli Wallach. It was recently named for preservation by the Library of Congress and the soundtrack contains one of the most recognized, used and copied theme songs in the history of film. While this modern version may not be quite the classic of its predecessor, director Antoine Fuqua and writers Nic Pizzolatto and Richard Wenk have delivered an entertaining and, to some extent, thought provoking film.

The cast is full of people (with a few exceptions) you’ve seen in many, many other films and TV shows. From lead actors Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt to character players like Ethan Hawke, Vincent D’Onofrio and Peter Sarsgaard, the entire group of main actors is spot on and firing on all cylinders. Both Washington and Pratt play characters with silent strength and menace but in different ways. While Washington’s Chisolm is a man viewed as dangerous on first meeting, Pratt’s Faraday is more like comic relief until there’s a threat and then he is a force to be reckoned with.

Vincent D’Onofrio steals the film in every scene he’s in. A bear of a man with a disarming high, squeaky voice, D’Onofrio’s Horne quotes scripture as he’s driving a knife repeatedly into the body of one of Bogue’s henchmen. The contrast is disarming and makes anything Horne does a bit of a surprise. I would have liked to see more of Horne in the movie and Fuqua (or someone else) could maybe make a solo film of Horne’s life prior to him joining the seven.

Peter Sarsgaard’s Bogue is a character that does nothing but evil throughout the film and it almost feels like he’s too much of a villain to have lived as long as the character has. Someone that evil must have made more than a few enemies over the years and someone should have taken him out before now. Still, Bogue is a great villain for this movie. He’s easy to despise and impossible to root for. He appears unstoppable with all the wealth and resources necessary to wipe the town and its people off the map. Bogue, like Chisolm and Faraday, is quietly dangerous. He listens to someone’s complaint then quickly makes the decision to take the life of whoever is complaining. He doesn’t tolerate failure or cowardice in others despite letting surrogates do his dirty work for him. He walks into town surrounded by half a dozen or more ruthless killers and shoots an unarmed man. He has succeeded by intimidation, theft and murder. For him, it is simply the way he does business.

Speaking of business, Bogue gives a speech early in the film that implies the writers and director had a political agenda they were trying to get across. Bogue talks about how capitalism is kind of a religion and the townspeople are violating God’s law by standing in the way of Bogue’s empire. If one applies this bit of thinking to the rest of the film, it might seem like Antoine Fuqua and the screenwriters are looking at the story as an allegory for the struggle of the working class against the power and control of big business. The seven fighters brought in to try and dismantle the greedy corporate interest could be seen as labor unions using whatever means necessary to make the company treat the workers with respect and to share the wealth. This might be me putting too much thought into a minor plot point but the sledgehammer-like subtlety of this monologue seemed to have been purposeful.

“The Magnificent Seven” is rated PG-13 for extended and intense sequences of Western violence, and for historical smoking, some language and suggestive material. The shootout that ends the film is probably close to 30 minutes long. There are numerous scenes of people being shot, some bloodier than others. There are also scenes with people being killed by arrows. The suggestive material is very mild and brief. Most of the characters are shown smoking at some point. The language is mild and widely scattered.

Despite what felt like a ham-handed attempt at social commentary, “The Magnificent Seven” powers through to deliver a fun and exciting Western adventure. With massive explosions, huge gunfights, bad guys with bad aim, galloping horses and majestic scenery, the film is a kind of throwback to an earlier time when the good guys and bad guys were easy to identify, the ladies in the saloon were always hookers with a heart of gold and the townspeople needed a good kick in the butt to make them see they needed to fight for their futures. It may not be perfect but it was fun.

“The Magnificent Seven” gets five guitars out of five.

This week a couple of movies based on true stories and the return of Tim Burton arrive in a multiplex near you. I’ll see and review at least one of the following:

Deepwater Horizon—

Masterminds—

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children—

Follow me on Twitter @moviemanstan and send emails to stanthemovieman@comcast.net.

The man with the wigs and sunglasses letting you know his uneducated opinion on the latest movies.

Review of “Juassic World”

For some, older movies are like a warm blanket: Once you’re wrapped up in it you don’t want to move. My wife and I have a personal combined favorite of “Sixteen Candles.” If we are flipping around on the channels and see it pop up we’ll watch it no matter where we come in. We often quote lines from the film to each other when they happen to fit in the conversation. Personally, I have a warm spot in my heart for 1993’s “Jurassic Park.” While computer generated effects had been used in prior films, Steven Spielberg incorporated them both sparingly and perfectly. The scene where Sam Neill and Laura Dern’s characters first spot the three Brachiosaurus gave me the chills as it appeared to be as lifelike as one could have hoped. Many other scenes of dinosaurs were done with giant animatronic puppets and looked as good as the CG. What really sells that movie is the relationship between Neill and the younger characters he is forced to look over when things begin to go wrong. That gave what could have been a fairly average monster movie a bit more heart. In the franchise reboot “Jurassic World” we once again have impressive creatures running amok and a couple of younger characters in need of saving. In this film, the heart comes more from the relationship between a human and four velociraptors and the movie suffers a bit for it amongst other reasons.

Zach and Gray Mitchell (Nick Robinson and Ty Simpkins) are brothers headed out on an adventure by themselves to visit their Aunt Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) who manages day to day operations at Jurassic World. Claire and the head of the conglomerate that owns the attraction Simon Masrani (Irfan Khan) are preparing to open a new feature with a hybrid dinosaur called Indominus Rex. The combination of T-Rex and other DNA has created a massive beast bigger than the T-Rex. Masrani wants Owen Grady (Chris Pratt), a former military man that now works for the genetics company InGen that created the dinosaurs, to inspect the enclosure and make sure it can hold such a beast. Claire and Owen have a bit of history that makes the thought of working with him unpleasant for her. Owen and InGen’s head of security Vic Hoskins (Vincent D’Onofrio) are working on a project to teach velociraptors to follow commands and that appears to be making progress. Hoskins wants to use trained raptors to replace some ground troops and go on search and destroy missions for the military. Owen thinks it’s a bad idea and unlikely to work. During his inspection of the enclosure, the I-Rex can’t be found on any of the heat sensitive monitors. Scratches on the wall appear to show the animal has climbed out. Owen and two others enter the enclosure and soon discover the I-Rex is still inside. Owen survives but the other two men are killed and the I-Rex breaks down a partially opened gate and escapes. Not wanting to cause a panic and hurt future revenue, Claire begins a partial shutdown of the park closest to where the I-Rex is but Zach and Gray break off from a tour in a rolling geosphere and go where they shouldn’t. Owen needs to know more about the kind of DNA used to make the I-Rex but is told the information is classified. Owen can tell by its behavior the I-Rex is far smarter and more adaptable than any other creature and fears all the measures taken to subdue it will fail.

“Jurassic World” makes a valiant attempt at recapturing the magic and wonder of “Jurassic Park.” Showing us the park through the eyes of young Ty Simpkins’ character along with the soaring music of the soundtrack which recycles John William’s original theme initially establishes a nostalgic connection with Steven Spielberg’s 1993 classic. Using Chris Pratt as a kind of mashup of both Sam Neill’s dino expert and Jeff Goldbloom’s mathematician is also a smart play. The super popular Pratt as the voice of calm and reason in the midst of either cold-hearted business decisions or deadly dinosaur chaos helps keep the audience grounded in at least a realm of reality in this very unreal situation. Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard work well together and have a chemistry that really shines when they are sniping at each other. The more they fall for each other (as inevitably happens in nearly all movies) their spark begins to die a little.

Initially, the idea of Pratt as the savior and protector of the two boys seemed to be a major plot point based on the first film; however, for most of the movie, the boys are on their own even after the park begins to fall into chaos and that actually works pretty well. They show some smarts and bravery that appears to be lacking in their relationship initially. Zach being the older and a teenager shows the prerequisite lack of interest in his younger brother. When the world begins to fall apart they become closer and while it’s cliché it was also nice to see as these two young actors seem to mesh quite well. Unfortunately, that also leaves Pratt’s main character stuck with playing daddy to four velociraptors.

The idea that these animals could be trained in a way that they would never kill someone they shouldn’t is just one of the film’s logical flaws. That even plays out early on when a worker falls in the raptor pen and Owen must save him. Any time watching the “Walking with Dinosaurs” series on the Discovery Channel or streaming it will show the viewer that the smartest dinosaur ever had the IQ of a chicken. It makes for an interesting subplot but it also could cause you to concuss yourself slapping your forehead with your hand. The entire set up of the park seems to be designed to get people killed. One scene shows families in canoes rowing down a stream next to large plant-eating dinosaurs. One slip on a rock and there’s a multi ton creature falling on a boatload of guests. The lawsuits for wrongful death and injury would bankrupt that place in a matter of days. Also, keeping the pterosaurs in a glass building seems like a terrible idea and it is shown to be in the film. Also, the park is on an island that can only be evacuated in mass by cruise ships. While keeping the creatures on the island is a good idea, getting people to and from the island seems like it would be a nightmare in an emergency situation. Everyone is stuck until a boat shows up. They don’t exactly move that fast and take even longer to get docked. While the island is accessible by helicopter they cannot handle that many passengers and we never see a landing strip or airport on the island for fixed wing craft. As much as I would love to see dinosaurs in real life, if Jurassic World actually existed and I could afford it, I’m not sure I’d want to go.

All that said, I’m making the mistake I encourage others not to by applying too much logic to a movie. It’s a film about dinosaurs eating people and each other and it’s a great deal of fun. Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard work well together in roles that don’t really ask much of their abilities. They breathe a little humanity into their characters when they could have been just Hollywood standard issue action movie leads. Nick Robinson and Ty Simpkins aren’t annoying kid characters but characters who happen to be kids. They are allowed to grow and mature a bit as the story goes along and while it is all stuff we’ve seen before they do it very well. Vincent D’Onofrio is slimy from the first frame of film he’s seen in and you know he’s going to be the cause of some trouble. While not the nuanced performance of his recent work in Marvel’s Netflix series “Daredevil,” D’Onofrio gives the movie a bad guy that isn’t a dinosaur. We see his desire for power and prestige and he believes in his cause with a fervor that borders on religious. We know we shouldn’t like him but it’s hard not to be drawn in to his enthusiasm. All these films must have a bit of comic relief and that’s supplied by Jake Johnson, best known as Nick on the TV comedy “New Girl,” who plays a control room operator named Cruthers. He’s trying hard to be the conscience of the corporate entity that runs the park and he’s constantly ignored. His brief appearances are usually quite funny and his character is the everyman who feels unnoticed and unknown. The only character from the original film that makes an appearance is Dr. Henry Wu played by B.D. Wong. Dr. Wu has largely been an exposition machine explaining about how the dinosaurs were made. Now, his character has been upgraded into a borderline bad guy. Wu is a geneticist with no ethics. He’s constantly trying to build a bigger, meaner dinosaur and doesn’t care about the consequences. He sees his research as a boon to mankind that will have applications outside the park. My guess is he will learn he is merely a pawn to corporate greed as we will see him in any future sequels.

“Jurassic World” is rated PG-13 for intense sci-fi violence and peril. Basically dinosaurs eat people and each other. They chase and attack people and each other. If you’ve ever seen a documentary about crocodiles in Africa waiting for the animals to drink at the river’s edge and then attack them, you’ve seen most of the violence in “Jurassic World.” Foul language is mild and minimal.

While it lacks the awe and wonder of “Jurassic Park,” “Jurassic World” is a perfectly fine summer blockbuster that provides lots of CG eye candy and thrills. Don’t invest a huge amount of thought in what’s going on and the experience will not be spoiled. While ignoring the clichés and some of the sillier aspects of the story might pose a larger challenge, “Jurassic World” will likely provide a couple of hours enjoyment in a cool theatre on a hot summer day or evening.

“Jurassic World” gets four stars out of five.

This week, the trials of being a musical genius, the voices in your head and the making of a 40 year tradition all hit screens and hope you’ll spend your money to see them. I’ll see at least one of them and review it.

Inside Out—

Live From New York—

Love and Mercy—

Follow me on Twitter @moviemanstan and send emails to stanthemovieman@comcast.net.

Review of “Run All Night”

No matter how good your relationship is with your parents, at some point most people have had a rough patch dealing with the authority figures in your life. Whether it was the length of your hair, your choice of friends, a perceived lack of initiative or ignoring your studies, all of us have had arguments with a mom or dad. My father thought I was lazy and he was right. I preferred watching Saturday morning cartoons and eating a giant bowl of cereal over going out to play or help with the household repairs he always seemed to be doing. While we never had an actual argument our relationship was a bit standoffish until I got my first job while in high school. I believe it was then my father saw I wasn’t lazy, just interested in different things. The fathers and sons featured in this week’s movie “Run All Night” are at different points in their relationships; but ultimately it comes down to the love and protective spirit one man has for his son that leads to a great deal of death.

Jimmy Conlon (Liam Neeson) used to be a feared hit man for mob boss Shawn Maguire (Ed Harris). Now the man who used to be called Gravedigger is seen as a washed up old drunk who is only kept around because of his long-time ties to Maguire. Maguire’s son Danny (Boyd Holbrook) is looking to expand his role in the family business by working out a deal with the Albanian mob to move heroin into the country. Shawn Maguire turns down the deal but Danny has already accepted money from the Albanians and they want it back. Mike Conlon (Joel Kinnaman) is Jimmy’s estranged son. He knows what his dad did for a living and wants nothing to do with him. Mike has a wife and two little girls with a baby boy on the way. To make ends meet, Mike drives for a limo service and tonight his passengers are the Albanian mobsters who are headed to Danny’s house to get their money. Mike is waiting outside in the limo when he hears shots and sees Danny shoot one of the Albanians in the head. The second one is dead inside Danny’s house. Danny, who knows Mike, yanks him out of the car at gunpoint and plans on killing him but after a brief struggle Mike gets away, leaving his wallet behind in the process. Danny calls his father and explains what happened who then calls Jimmy. Jimmy heads to Mike’s house and tries to talk to him about what to do next by Mike doesn’t want to hear it and tells Jimmy to leave. Meanwhile, Danny sneaks into Mike’s house just as Jimmy leaves. Danny has the gun pointed at Mike but Jimmy, who saw Danny’s car parked outside, shoots and kills him. Jimmy calls Shawn and tells him what happened. Shawn tells Jimmy they are both going to die for killing his son. Jimmy knows Shawn is paying off several cops so they can’t call the police for help. Jimmy convinces Mike to trust him for once in his life to keep him alive and try to fix the situation. Shawn is only out for revenge and brings in high-tech hit man Andrew Price (Common) at double his rate to take out Jimmy and Mike.

Once again, Liam Neeson is playing a man with a certain set of skills in “Run All Night” only this one is more used up than his “Taken” character. Unable to sleep due to the memories of all the people he’s killed, Conlon is a man haunted by all of his past, including leaving Mike and his mother many years earlier. While he did it to protect them, Conlon wishes he could have it all to do over again so maybe he could get it closer to right. Since no one gets a second chance, Jimmy must make the best of the situation. Neeson is spot on in “Run All Night.” His pain and remorse added to what is probably a fair amount of self-pity leads Jimmy to look for relief in a bottle. Neeson knows about pain and loss with the tragic death of his wife Natasha Richardson in 2009. Some of that grief must color his acting in more serious roles. Neeson’s world weary face is more than capable of conveying a sense of hopelessness and defeat. It is also able to turn on a dime to show determination and a fair amount of menace. Neeson has cornered the market in the genre of films featuring a middle-aged man still being able to kick ass and take names. While a few others have done it before (Sylvester Stallone and Bruce Willis to name two) none has done it better than or as believably as Neeson.

Ed Harris has the kind of intense gaze that would curdle milk. He puts it to good use in “Run All Night.” His Shawn Maguire tells the Albanians that he is a legitimate businessman who has left his gangster days behind. Considering all the armed men around him and his son in a back room counting up thousands of dollars of cash, his statement would appear to be a bit of an exaggeration. Harris is a great actor and is able to easily pull off his somewhat dual role as both a ruthless criminal and a caring friend to Jimmy and father to Danny. Jimmy and Shawn grew up together running the streets of their neighborhood and are as close as brothers. Even though Jimmy isn’t of much use to Shawn, he keeps him around and throws some money his way out of a sense of loyalty and family. Nothing can break that bond except the death of Shawn’s son. It is this event that turns both men into enemies and brings out their dangerous killer instincts. Harris is like a pressure cooker: While he appears calm on the outside, inside there is turmoil, heat and death waiting to burst forth. Harris plays the part to perfection and is able to deliver menace, hate and fear in his performance.

Joel Kinnaman is somewhat disappointing as Mike. His performance is rather one-note. Mike is constantly angry at his father even as he’s risking his life to save him. Kinnaman, who is so good in the former AMC show “The Killing” as a police detective, appears to have his hands tied as far as his performance. Kinnaman plays Mike like a spoiled brat who didn’t get what he wanted for Christmas. While I certainly understand the initial anger at his father, Mike should have come around to at least a begrudging respect for his old man. Unfortunately, every discussion they have about the past is filled with Mike’s anger over Jimmy not being there and his disgust at the things Jimmy has done. Again, some of this is understandable to a point; however, Kinnaman keeps the anger turned up to 11 for far too long. Of course, this is more of a complaint about the script than the actor; but I still thought Kinnaman was probably the weakest character.

A character I’d like to have seen more of is Det. John Harding played by Vincent D’Onofrio. D’Onofrio, who is always interesting to watch, is underutilized in the film. While the movie isn’t about him, Det. Harding does play a pivotal role and is something of an ally to Jimmy despite being on the opposite side of the law. D’Onofrio is an actor that makes you pay attention to his character. His intensity and focus draws in the audience and we hang on his every word. D’Onofrio will play King Pin on the Netflix and Marvel “Daredevil” series. Aside from the stunts, he will probably be the most interesting aspect of that show.

There are a few stylistic things about the movie that both struck my eye and struck a nerve. First, as the film moves from one scene to the next, we are given a graphic depiction of the change of location with Google Earth-like zoom outs and zoom ins of buildings. If you have vertigo or are easily made motion sick, this might trigger an episode. While the first few times were interesting, it quickly began to felt like a visual gimmick that had overstayed its welcome. Also, the movie has a strange fascination with elevated trains. Several scenes start and end on the mass transit system. We also get scene transitions that show the trains moving through the city. Again, this is alright a time or two but after that it seems like the New York transit authority must have paid the movie makers to show off the trains as much as possible. It struck me as a bit odd.

Also troubling is the level of coincidence required to start the plot in motion. The Albanians have to rent a limo that is driven by Jimmy’s son. These same Albanians are doing business with Shawn’s son. Given the number of car services in New York City, the possibility of Mike getting the job seems like a statistical stretch. I’m willing to accept lots of things in movies but this seemed like a step too far.

Of course, a movie like “Run All Night” lives and dies by the action scenes. The movie does a great job of building up tension during a scene like a car chase in downtown New York. There is also the cat and mouse aspect of the police and Common’s hit man searching an apartment building for Jimmy and Mike. “Run All Night” is full of scenes like this and that makes it a very good action movie.

“Run All Night” is rated R for Strong Violence, Language Including Sexual References, and Some Drug Use. There are numerous beatings, shootings, strangulations and stabbings in the film. Nearly all are shown clearly. There are at least two scenes showing a powder being cut with a razorblade and then snorted. The only sexual material is a couple of scenes where a character describes what he would do to another’s wife. Foul language is common but not overwhelming.

Liam Neeson could be accused of making the same movie over and over again; however, there are enough differences between the “Taken” films and “Run All Night” to make that latter film unique. It takes a good look at the sacrifices fathers are willing to make for their children. It also shows how the past can come back to life in an instant to make the present difficult to navigate. While it doesn’t invent a new type of movie, “Run All Night” is able to do most of the things it attempts well and creates a world of interesting characters doing interesting things.

“Run All Night” gets four stars out of five.

As always, new films open this week. I’ll see and review at least one of them and you can check out their trailers below:

Divergent Series: Insurgent—

The Gunman—

What We Do In The Shadows—

Follow me on Twitter @moviemanstan and send questions or comments to stanthemovieman@comcast.net.