Friday, February 13, 2009

Friday Virals!

Well, another week is over and that means another collection of crap that people post on the Interweb. For the record, while watching Infomania last night, I totally knew that the sound was turtles humping. Adam was there, he can back me up. See Brett's latest Viral Video Film School for more details (and animal sex!). Happy weekend everybody!

sick. sick. sick.


Movie Review: Men on a Mission - One Genre, Two Very Different Outcomes

Bryan (Liam Neeson in Taken) and Lou (Clive Owen in The International), two peas in a pod.

It's been quite a movie-filled week and since the state of the economy sort of prevents most of us from actually paying for new releases, here's a quick recap of the two action pics out right now. If you only have $10 sweating up your pocket, luckily you only really have one choice when it come to these two new releases.

Taken, starring Liam Neeson as an ex-government operative unofficially forced back into action after his 17yr old daughter is abducted in Paris, opened last weekend to mixed reviews, but David Edelstein liked it and that's usally enough for me. The International, starring Clive Owen and Naomi Watts, hits theaters tonight and despite the misleading previews, the option of "Murder" is not displayed on an ATM machine at any point during the film. While Taken appears to be the standard man on a mission movie a la Die Hard, The Transporter,'s much smarter than it looks. The International boasts one man vs. global conspiracies, deception and murder all in the name of power veiled by capitalism but after the first 15 minutes it somehow looses it's drive as the enemy is too broad, too big and too replaceable. What's more interesting in the end - a lonely man in a fight to save his only daughter or a lonely man in a fight to shut down...a bank? Lives hang in the balance in both scenarios, but only one is concrete enough to induce rapid heart rate.

Taken is a one track plot, simple, fast, focused, but not lacking smarts. Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) is introduced in blatantly pitty-producing situations, it takes about 4 minutes before we're all on his side and when his hidden talents are revealed, we'll follow him anywhere. Bryan's killer martial art skills are shot brilliantly and it appears that he moves so fast not even the camera's eye can keep up. But, somehow it all retains enough "reality" preventing doubt or disbelief. There aren't many moments when Neeson's character is not on screen and it's easy to assume that under the helm of a less soulful actor this film might not fly as well. Sure, it's a little predictable and the daughter is taken like 25minute after landing in Paris, but everything is riding on this one particularly capable man, every physical risk he takes could mean losing her forever and the weight of that is ever present as he pushes his way through seemingly impassible obstacles and quite a few goons with automatic weapons.

Where Taken succeeds in empathy, The International fails, drowning in cliche-ridden dialogue and lack of suspense. Clive Owen's Louis Salinger isn't unsympathetic, he's just a glutton for punishment and the audience seems to always be one step ahead making it not so much fun to watch him fail. Even a fair amount of globe trotting doesn't really make a difference - the film still feels like it's aching to be smart, trying so hard to be complex, but it's just about a decent guy who's become obsessed with shutting down an evil corporation. It's not going to end well. The International is not without it's payoff and that payoff takes place in one of my most hated spaces in the world - The Guggenheim New York. It's nauseating ramp, the curved lines, the ridiculous admission price - imagine the glee I felt during an extended bloody gun battle that serves as one of the final showdowns of the film. I'm not really sure how long this shootout lasted, but there were 4 good guys and one informant they really really want to bring in and flip up against 5, 8 maybe 12 bad dudes. I seriously lost count and complete track of time. So much blood and glorious bullet holes in the concrete railing, not to mention totally trashing some presumable generic video art.

Couldn't find a shot from the movie, but the scene is just like the poster except more bullet holes, blood, cowering art goers, dead bodies, oh and Naomi Watts is totally not even in the scene.

Simple is sometimes just plain better.


91 min
Dir: Pierre Morel
Screenplay: Luc Besson & Robert Mark Kamen
Produced by Besson and some other Frenchies


The International
118 min
Dir: Tom Twyker
Screenplay: Eric Singer
Produced by an international ensemble of people with money