Suburban husband and father Hutch Mansell (Bob Odenkirk) lives a typical mundane life, till one night two thieves break into his home. Hutch fails to take advantage, when he has an opportunity to foil the thieves, and his manhood comes under question from some of those around him, including his disappointed son (Gage Munroe). Feeling angry about the criticism, a smoldering Hutch goes out one night to find the thieves. Things don’t go as planned and his evening climaxes with a violent outburst against a bunch of drunken thugs on a bus. One of those thugs turns out to be the brother of Russian mobster Yulian Kuznetsov (Aleksei Serebryakov), who sets out to find the one responsible for putting his little brother in a coma. But Hutch has a past that make Kuznetsov’s efforts at revenge a lot harder than the Russian gangster anticipates.
Film is directed by Ilya Naishuller (Hardcore Henry) from a script by Derek Kolstad (the John Wick franchise). Despite what could have been a fun premise-a simple suburban dad, so enraged over his questioned masculinity, that he violently takes on a dangerous Russian mobster-making Hutch a ‘wolf in sheep’s clothing’ simply turns this into another routine action flick. Giving Hutch a secret past, making him equally dangerous, ruins the chance to take an amusing concept and run with it. It becomes yet another cookie cutter revenge flick; a B or C level John Wick…and those flicks are far better. On the plus side, Bob Odenkirk is convincing as both an angry and embarrassed suburban dad, and a dangerous man unleashed, though Serebryakov is a very routine villain. There are some good action/fight scenes and it does get quite violent, but it would have been simply far more amusing to see some milquetoast suburbanite go ballistic instead of a man with hidden skills and deadly training. Not a bad action flick for a night on the couch, but not nearly as fun or special as it could have been. Also stars Michael Ironside, Connie Nielsen, RZA and Christopher Lloyd as Hutch’s retired FBI agent dad.
PIRANHA 3DD (2012)
Sequel to Alexandre Aja’s Piranha 3D (which is in itself a remake) is not as fun as it’s predecessor, nor is it quite as bad as it’s made out to be. The story, this time, has the prehistoric piranha traveling from the decimated Lake Victoria through an underground river to a sleazy water theme park to continue their feeding.
The problem with this sequel is, director John Gulager seems to take the material a little too seriously despite a script that replaces Piranha 3D‘s wit for blatantly stupid. And stupid would be fine if director Gulager took the ball and ran with it like Alexandre Aja did. The budget for this installment is smaller and thus the film’s scale and carnage lesser, but still, look how fun the low budget 1978 original was without the budget and bloodshed of the 2010 remake. Joe Dante knew to play it serious to a point, but all the while letting the cast and audience in on the fun. When you open a film with Gary Busey and a dead cow that farts piranha eggs, there’s no point in pretending you’re directing Jaws. The gore effects are fine although the CGI is even weaker than it’s predecessor, but despite it’s faults, there is still some entertainment to be had, such as MZNJ Halloween Hottie Katrina Bowden, reciting one of the best lines in the film involving a baby piranha and a certain part of her anatomy.
Gulager’s cast is fine, though only David Hasselhoff seems to really be in on the joke. The rest of the cast, including pretty lead Danielle Panabaker, try really hard to give they proceedings some weight, but probably should have just embraced the goofy material and had a good time. The cameos from some of the survivors from the last entry are fun and there are some funny bits, most involving The Hoff.
It could have been a lot better, but Piranha 3DD did pass the time and I actually feel that with a better script that was more clever than crude, John Gulager might actually have delivered a decent B-movie. An OK time waster when watched in the right frame of mind, but far short of the deliriously fun remake that precedes it.
Rated 2 and 1/2 (out of 4) carnivorous critters
Canadian thriller opens with a young woman named Gwen (Katharine Isabelle) suddenly finding herself in a diner and having no recollection of how she got there. There is also a gun in her bag and an unfortunate set of circumstances find a waitress shot and Gwen being pursued by the police. Now the young woman is on the run trying to remember who she is, how she got in this mess and why the number 88 is apparently very important to her. With some sporadic memories returning to her, the young woman realizes that her past…and future… involve murder, death and a quest for revenge.
I liked this crime thriller well enough. All the flashing back and forth in time does get a bit tiring after the first hour and sometimes it’s a bit too over-stylized for it’s own good but, overall it is still fairly entertaining. The story by Tim Doiron is nothing new. We have seen thrillers involving memory loss before and certainly, in the age of Tarantino, have seen many a quirky, stylish tale of unsavory types and abundant bullets and bloodshed. But, director April Mullen does a decent enough job of keeping things moving and keeping us guessing as Gwen tries to piece her head back together and figure-out why she is heavily armed and missing a pinky finger. Again, nothing trend-setting and nothing we haven’t sat through before but, it is involving enough, though, I did guess where it was heading long before we get there. The biggest reason to watch is to see star Isabelle in a strong turn as Gwen. She does a nice job conveying the current confusion of her character, as well as, the different personas she takes on, as we flash back and forth to the different points in time that lead her to where she is now. Isabelle is a sexy leading lady and she can be confused victim and vicious killer from one scene to the next and it really makes this far more worth watching than it might be otherwise. It was also cool to see Christopher Lloyd in a strong role, once again, as a crime boss name Cyrus who figures heavily in Gwen’s fate and Michael Ironside as a cop on Gwen’s bloody trail. Nice to see veterans like this playing something other than goofy old men.
In conclusion, this is not a great movie. “Hip” crime thrillers like this are a dime a dozen these days, but, a strong performance by it’s leading lady and some stylish direction make it watchable and enjoyable enough. It isn’t very original and it isn’t overly memorable, but, it is intriguing enough to keep one involved. We get strong parts for veterans like Christopher Lloyd and Michael Ironside and there are enough bullets and blood to keep one from getting too worn out by all the jumping back and forth in time. A decent, if unremarkable flick.
2 and 1/2 gum-ball machines.