Saturday, May 27, 2017

Tonight's Movies: 2 Guns (2013), Die Hard 2 (1990), and Jurassic Park (1993), plus Burn Notice TV Pilot (2007)

Our daughter is visiting for the holiday weekend, and we decided to follow up last summer's holiday weekend action movie marathon with a sequel.

Here are thumbnail reviews of today's action movies:

...2 GUNS (2013) teams Mark Wahlberg, a favorite of mine, with Denzel Washington. They play a pair of hoods who decide to rob a bank to make off with money stashed by a Mexican drug lord (Edward James Olmos). Unbeknownst to each other, they actually work for separate government agencies...and they're both about to be burned by their employers.

As the film began, I commented to my daughter that the small town bank was reminiscent of CHARLEY VARRICK (1973), which I just saw for the first time a couple of weeks ago. And then I noticed the name of the bank: Tres Cruces Savings and Loan. This tickled me enormously, as Tres Cruces is part of the name of the bank in CHARLEY VARRICK! The filmmakers were obviously fans.

There are even more homages to CHARLEY VARRICK in what is essentially a partial "reboot" of the earlier film, including the staging of the bank robbery (right down to a masked robber jumping a counter) and Bill Paxton's hit man paying obvious tribute to Joe Don Baker's Molly from CHARLEY VARRICK.

There's also some nice interplay and buddy humor with Wahlberg and Washington. I enjoyed the movie quite well except for the excessive violence.

Parental Advisory: This film is rated R. The film's biggest drawback, besides the movie's copious bad language, is the aforementioned gratuitous violence. There were four separate incidents which I thought were just too much. It would have been a better and more enjoyable movie if they'd dialed it down a bit. There are a number of good elements, including the VARRICK tribute, and I wished they'd had more faith in their material and not felt a need to go so dark at times.

The movie was directed by Baltasar Kormakur (CONTRABAND) and filmed by Oliver Wood. The supporting cast includes Fred Ward, James Marsden, and Paula Patton.

TWO GUNS is available on DVD, Blu-ray, or via Amazon Instant Video.

...DIE HARD 2 (1990) is a very enjoyable mashup of the original DIE HARD (1988) with AIRPORT-style movies.

Cop John McClane (Bruce Willis) just can't seem to catch a break at Christmastime. Whereas in the previous film he saved a group of people held hostage at an L.A. office Christmas party, this time around his wife (Bonnie Bedelia) is about to arrive home for Christmas at an East Coast airport, but a terrorist takeover prevents her plane from landing.

All the expected set pieces ensue, from McClane fighting it out with a couple bad guys amidst baggage conveyor belts to ejecting from a parked plane to having a helicopter lower him to a plane's wing so he can jam the flaps.

There are all sorts of gaps in logic in the film, so after a while I gave up trying to figure out why certain decisions were made and just sat back to enjoy the ride. My husband described DIE HARD 2 as "completely ridiculous but really well done," and I agree. That's actually my favorite kind of action film, something that's a fun if slightly silly ride; THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS (2017) is a good recent example.

DIE HARD 2 was directed by Renny Harlin. Like 2 GUNS, it was filmed by Oliver Wood. The running time is 124 minutes. The supporting cast includes Fred Thompson (always a welcome screen presence for me), John Amos, Dennis Franz, Art Evans, Tom Bower, William Atherton, and Franco Nero. Reginald VelJohnson of the original film returns for a sequence as Sgt. Al Powell of the LAPD.

Parental Advisory: This film is rated R. Most of the violence is cartoony, but a couple scenes aren't for the squeamish. There's also plentiful bad language.

DIE HARD 2 is available on DVD and Blu-ray. It's also available for rental from Amazon Instant Video.

I'm looking forward to more films in the DIE HARD series.

...I had very young children when JURASSIC PARK (1993) came out and rarely saw films in theaters in that time period, so it came and went without my seeing it. In the years since, I've never felt motivated to catch it, despite it being one of my children's favorite films. I decided to finally give it a whirl today.

Perhaps if this movie had caught me back in my teen days of Steven Spielberg "thrill ride" productions like RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK (1981), E.T. THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL (1982), and POLTERGEIST (1982) I would have enjoyed it more. Instead it struck me as a well-done film which just wasn't my thing.

I liked Sam Neill and the John Williams score, and I also appreciated the "practical" special effects, but two hours and seven minutes of man-eating dinosaurs chasing (and sometimes eating) humans, including children, was exhausting.

Michael Crichton and David Koepp's screenplay was based on Crichton's novel. Spielberg directed, with cinematography by Dean Cundey. The cast includes Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Richard Attenborough, Samuel L. Jackson, and B.D. Wong. Fave Richard Kiley provided the "Jurassic Park Tour Voice."

Parental Advisory: JURASSIC PARK is rated PG-13 for "intense science fiction terror." It's not bloody but it's plenty scary for those who immerse themselves in the story. For my part, I sort of held the movie at a distance, observing it but not willing to become emotionally involved.

JURASSIC PARK is available in multiple DVD and Blu-ray editions.

...We also watched the pilot for the TV series BURN NOTICE (2007-2013). Jeffrey Donovan stars as U.S. government spy Michael Westen, who finds himself stranded and broke in Miami when he suddenly and inexplicably gets a "burn notice," spy lingo for being fired and cut off from all resources and contacts.

BURN NOTICE had the jaunty feel of a Universal detective show of the '70s or '80s like THE ROCKFORD FILES or MAGNUM, P.I., right down to the jocular MAGNUM-like narration, the balmy beachfront setting, and the presence of longtime Universal contract actress Sharon Gless playing Westen's hypochondriac mother. Bruce Campbell and Gabrielle Anwar costar.

I enjoyed the pilot very much and plan to continue watching the series. BURN NOTICE ran for seven seasons.

Season 1 of BURN NOTICE is available on DVD from Amazon for a low price. Season 1 can also be rented for streaming from Amazon Instant Video.

It was a fun lazy day enjoying movies together! Of the above titles, my favorites were DIE HARD 2 and BURN NOTICE, with 2 GUNS conditionally recommended to fans of the stars and CHARLEY VARRICK.

Classic film reviews will be coming later in the weekend!


Blogger DKoren said...

What a fun marathon! I have not seen 2 Guns, but it sounds like I might enjoy it, so I'll add that to my netflix queue. I agree with your Die Hard 2 and Jurassic Park reviews, and I love Burn Notice! I bought my favorite seasons on DVD. I kind of binged on the series when it was streaming on Netflix a few years ago.

It's funny that you reviewed Jurassic Park, as my family went and saw it on the big screen this past Tuesday (our local Harkins plays older movies ever Tues). Now when it came out, I really enjoyed it and saw it more than a few times in the theater. Mostly that was because Sam Neill was already my favorite actor. Haven't really seen it since, except to complain about the continuity errors. But this time? My sister and I both came out and were like, wow, that was the most boring and stressful movie. Then we puzzled over how it could be a clockwatcher and still be stressful at the same time. I think we just know this one way too well at this point, and there's no emotional connection for us to anyone in it, and so... it just hasn't held up over time for us. I still love Sam Neill and I find Jeff Goldblum very amusing in this movie, but I think I finally found a movie that I used to love, and just don't anymore. The rest of my family loved it and had a great time, but they have not seen it nearly as many times as my sister and I have. Weird!

8:26 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hi Deb! I hope you enjoy 2 GUNS, except for wishing a few minutes had been excised it was a good film. Let me know what you think! Was very interested you agreed with my other reviews, it seems like we are often "in sync"!

Very interested in your JURASSIC PARK experience this week. I totally get your reaction having now seen the film myself. How interesting this one diminished in interest for you over time. (That movie for me has been THE BIG CHILL. Loved it when it came out and saw it multiple times but now I find all the characters so shallow!)

At least it was nice spending some time with Sam Neill! And I'm glad now I know the movie firsthand.

Best wishes,

9:16 AM  

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