Entries in Bruce Willis (2)

Sunday
Jan202019

BROKE, BROKE AND AWAY // A FILM REVIEW OF "GLASS"

BY MATEO MORENO

To say that M. Night Shyamalan’s career has had its ups and downs is really putting it mildly. Since exploding into the mainstream with The Sixth Sense in 1999 (which received almost universe love), M. Night has released one project after another, each one dividing audiences into a pure frenzy. Talk of “he’s lost it” and “he’s back to form” has been said throughout his entire career. But one thing that can be said is that he’s been consistently original. You may not like what comes out of his brain (cough, cough… The Happening… cough, cough), but it is purely his own vision being transported onto the screen. His follow up to The Sixth Sense was Unbreakable in 2000 and that film is still my favorite property of his. It told the story of David Dunn, an ordinary man who slowly finds himself to be “unbreakable.” It was a superhero story in a very non-superhero world. Samuel L. Jackson played his nemesis, Elijah Price, a man whose bones were so brittle that he was nicknamed “Mr. Glass.” Slow and powerful, and I’ve often thought of it ever since.

 

In 2016, M. Night “returned to form” once again with the unassuming Split, featuring James McAvoy as Kevin Wendell Crumb, a man who has 23 personalities inside of him and the most dangerous one is threatening to overtake them all. It was a fun, original, and very well told film. The surprise was that in the final moments of the film, we were reintroduced to David Dunn, and realized that the two films took place in the same universe. Now, the long-awaited follow-up to Unbreakable has arrived, now less of a sequel and more of the final piece of a trilogy. GLASS is the third part of the puzzle, bringing together David Dunn, Mr. Glass, and all of James McAvoy’s personalities. It also brings back Anya Taylor-Joy from Split and a grown-up Spencer Treat Clark from Unbreakable. M. Night’s three main characters are sent to an asylum and treated by Dr. Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson) a woman who specializes in the very specific delusion of grandeur where people believe they are actually superheroes

 

What follows is a lot of great build up and promise that fizzles so fast that it’s actually enraging. The mood and slow building dread of his earlier films fill the first half of GLASS expertly. Sarah Paulson is stoic and sharp, Anya Taylor-Joy and Spencer Treat Clark are great supporting players, and James McAvoy is utterly brilliant (and he stays that way up until the end). However, for a movie named after Mr. Glass, Samuel L. Jackson’s presence is largely under utilized here, as he’s catatonic for most of the film and when he springs, rather wheels, into action, it’s pretty unremarkable. Most disappointing is the treatment M. Night gives David Dunn and the sleepwalk performance Bruce Willis performs it with. David Dunn is a fascinating character who’s reduces to getting thrown around and has the weakest of all storylines. The final act, which is teased to be a giant superhero showdown, is all smoke and mirrors and actually takes places somewhere else entirely, somewhere far less exciting. And the writer/director either doesn’t trust the audience to know the beats of a superhero story or doesn’t actually understand them himself, because suddenly near the end of the film, every character starts to explain out loud how this action is part of an origin story or this action is how the hero triumphs, etc, etc. GLASS had me engaged for the first half and completely nosedived into ridiculousness in the second. But I do admire the world, and the risks that M. Night took here. I just wish he knew how to land it.

 

MATEO'S GRADE: C+

WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY M. Night Shyamalan STARRING James McAvoy, Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson, Anya Taylor-Joy, Sarah Paulson, Spencer Treat Clark. Now playing in select cinemas.
Tuesday
Oct022012

GOTTA GET BACK IN TIME // A film review of "Looper"

BY MATEO MORENO

When you think of a great time travel, or I should say, “When I think of a great time travel” I think of a movie like Back to the Future.  A movie so good that you watch it now and STILL can’t find anything wrong with it.  It’s a comedy, sure, but the effects are great, the time travel is handled superiorly, and you want to keep watching it again and again.  When I think of a great mind bending film I think of movies like Memento, The Game, or almost anything David Lynch has produced (except Lost Highway.  I STILL can’t get behind that one).  Mix those two genres together, and you’ve got a hell of a concept film.  And if you’re Writer/Director Rion Johnson (Brick, The Brothers Bloom), you’ve got the thrilling new film Looper.

Joseph Gordon Levitt, fresh from about a dozen or so great performances, plays Joe, a “Looper” in the year 2044 who kill people sent back in time from an organization lead by a shadowy person named “The Rainmaker.”  Time Travel in 2074 has been invented, but it’s highly illegal.  So it’s with a very secret agenda that this organization sends criminals back in time to be killed instantly.  Their bodies can now be dumped and burned in a time period that won’t ever miss them and in their own time line, they’ll just disappear.  However, things get complicated when a Looper’s contract is up because they’re eventually sent back to be killed by their younger self, which happens here to Joe (in the form of Bruce Willis).  So begins a whizzing, frantic, and exuberating smart sci-fi that brings 2044 Joe with 2074 Joe in the same time period, both eventually trying to find the same person, one with a much darker reasoning.

Gordon-Levitt, lying under a prosthetic nose, fake eyebrows, and contact lenses, is magnetic, and yes with the prosthetics he looks like Bruce Willis.  But he also “acts” like Bruce Willis, nailing his mannerisms and facial expressions down to a “T.”  Here Gordon-Levitt creates a complex, complicated character who has no idea how to fight this overwhelming world but is learning real fast.  Bruce Willis lies into his intense and darker self with ease, showing real layers of sadness within his eyes.  A moment when he kills one of his intended targets is especially grueling, and Willis’s pained eyes tell the entire story inside of them.  Jeff Daniels does great subtle work as the man brought back from the future to run things, and Emily Blunt shows up midway for a doozy of a plot twist, and even though Blunt’s role is set up to support the plot here, she finds some great and beautiful moments as she deals with everything that has now been laid in her path.

Rian Johnson backs up his incredible promise he brought with 2005’s Brick and directs a powerhouse of a thriller.  The cinematography (by Johnson’s usual DP Steve Yedlin) is thrilling and Johnson’s script is packed tight with great dialogue, fast paced action sequences, and just the right amount of time travel explanation to help you along but not too much to over explain it (as one character says, “this time travel crap, it’ll fry your brain like an egg.”  It’s an incredibly hard subject to explain and every movie has their own version of it, so Johnson smartly has the character acknowledge that you don’t need to know exactly how it works, just enjoy the ride.  And enjoy you will.  Looper is the continuation of a new breed of big action films; smart, dialogue driven, wonderfully acted films that challenge you as much as they entertain you.  Now THAT’S a night out at the movies, if you ask me.

Written and Directed by Rian Johnson Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt, Jeff Daniels, Piper Perabo, Pierce Gagnon Rated R Content Disclaimer (Adult Situations, Adult Language, Graphic Violence, Nudity) Now playing

Mateo’s Grade: A-

Bottom Line: Great action, tense action, and an original concept to boot.  Let the twists and turns happen.  Don't try to guess it.  Just enjoy.