Writer /director Peter Berg hits all the marks with this incredibly intense and moving action/drama based on true events in Afghanistan. The film’s story sends a four man SEAL team (Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Emile Hirsh and Ben Foster) behind enemy lines to track a Taliban leader for capture. When an unfortunate encounter with a local family alerts the enemy to their presence, the four SEALS must now fight for their very lives, surrounded and outgunned. Berg delivers drama and action that is equally riveting and even manages to slip in a message that not all perceived ‘enemies’ are bad people. An incredibly well-made, well-acted and nail-bitingly intense thriller that also contains a nice homage and tribute to the real men from the actual mission it honors/portrays. Also stars Eric Bana and is based on a book by author Patrick Robinson and ex-Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell who is the real life soldier Mark Wahlberg’s character is based on and was on the mission the story is taken from. Highly recommended!
Arnie’s newest film is sadly a crude, vulgar and worst of all dull crime thriller that fails on pretty much every level except for a few intense action scenes. The blood-soaked story has Schwarzenegger playing John ‘Breacher’ Wharton, who is head of an undercover DEA unit accused of stealing $10 Million in drug money during a raid. But, now his team are being offed in gruesome fashion and Breacher and FBI investigator Caroline Brentwood (Olivia Williams) must find out if it’s cartel revenge or something else. Director and co-writer (with Skip Woods) David Ayer tries way too hard to make this a gritty, hard nose thriller and thus turns it into a gory, foul-mouthed mess that can’t decide if it’s a cop thriller or slasher movie. The acting is terrible on most fronts, the characters are borderline comic book level and the plot edges close to being a train wreck. I understand Arnold wanting to play a character that wasn’t necessarily a clean cut good guy for once and I liked that aspect of it but, it’s such a bad movie in terms of the script and the ‘trying too hard to be hip’ direction that it sinks the Austrian Oak’s attempt to do something new. Also stars Sam Worthington and current ‘man-babe’ Joe Manganiello. Terrible.
To call this Sci-Fi /Horror 28 Days Later in space is simplifying things a bit but, that is the basic idea and, as such, thats not a bad thing. The Last Days On Mars tells the ill-fated tale of a six month, 8 person expedition on Mars that is in it’s final day before a replacement crew comes and the current group of astronauts may return home. And what an eventful last day it is. With less then 20 hours till pick-up, it is discovered that the red planet harbors a bacterial life form, one that thrives on what little liquid is left on Mars. But, an unfortunate accident claims the life of one of the crew and soon, to the survivors’ horror, it’s discovered that the bacteria can use living… or dead… things as a host to seek more moisture and human contact with the virus-like life form turns those infected into vicious and violent zombie-like creatures who will kill to get at the blood inside the remaining living. Now with their numbers decreasing and the relentless re-animated dead increasing, the remaining crew must somehow figure out a way to stay alive and keep from being infected during what becomes a night of terror millions of miles from home and hours from possible rescue. Despite some very familiar story elements, Mars is well directed by Ruairí Robinson from a screenplay by Clive Dawson based on Sydney J. Bounds’ short story “The Animators”. Robinson knows how to create tension and suspense and gives us some scary moments mixed in with some intense action and it’s entertaining enough to make us overlook that we have seen it all before and, with zombies being very popular right now, quite a lot. The Mars base setting adds a little novelty to the proceedings as the isolation of being on the red planet and the lack of oxygen outside also give the filmmakers some new elements to play with within the familiar formula when putting the characters in tense situations. And as for the characters, we have a good cast representing the international crew including Liev Schreiber as our heroic lead, astronaut Campbell, Romola Garai as the pretty and level headed Rebecca Lane, Elias Koteas as the mission commander Brunel and Olivia Williams as hot headed Kim Aldrich. The actors all perform well and give their characters some welcome personality in the brief time we have to get to know them. Sure they’re a bit cliche’ but, the actors still give them some humanity. The SPFX are really good in both visual effects and the make-up effects representing our transformed astronauts and their carnage and the sets and props all look solid for what is a modestly budgeted film. There is plenty of bloodshed but, very little gore, as this is not the flesh eating variety of zombie though extracting blood from a victim’s body is messy enough. All in all, this is not an original film and we have certainly been down this zombified road before but, Irish director Robinson does a very good job keeping his familiar material effective and has a good cast and an efficient production crew that turn what could have been a routine flick into an entertaining Sci-Fi /Horror that won’t win any awards and won’t really stay with you, when all is said and done, but, should keep one pleasantly amused and appropriately spooked during its 1 hr and 40 min runtime and sometimes that is all one needs. A good, fun Horror flick for an evening on the couch. Also stars Goran Kostić, Johnny Harris, Tom Cullen and Yusra Warsama rounding out the Tantalus Base crew.