Monday, August 15, 2016

Dying of the Light

Year 8, Day 228 - 8/15/16 - Movie #2,422

BEFORE: OK, so I've got a road-map to the end of the year, it's a chain that I can live with, except for a 5-movie bit in the middle that might need some shoring up.  And if need be, I can flip the October line-up around, which gives me a few options for how to do that.  It's not perfect, for a number of reasons: first, I can't get the count to equal 78 exactly, it's either one over or two short, and without knowing how it may change, I don't know which way to go.  I'm guessing one over, because it's always easier to remove one film that doesn't quite fit rather than seek out two more that might.

That being said, my planned chain relies on four films that I don't yet have copies of - "The Danish Girl", "Hotel Transylvania 2", "Nightcrawler" and "Kung Fu Panda 3", so I'm counting on some cable channels to run those in the next few months, preferably in that order.  Sure, I could run to the web and stream them, but then where's the challenge in that?  I could also indirectly link between the films on either side of them, but that's no fun, either.  I'm just going to have to review my plan in a few weeks and see if any new linking possibilities have opened up, connections to new films that have been added.  

But I can feel the time slipping away this year - I've worked out a way to link to "Deadpool" and "Ghostbusters", and I'm saving a slot for "Sausage Party", but if I go out next week and see "Suicide Squad", I don't think I could link to it in the time provided.  And this also means that recent acquisitions like "Black Mass", "Chappie" and "American Ultra" have been pushed into 2017's schedule, unless something drastically changes. 

Tonight, Anton Yelchin carries over from "Star Trek Beyond" and completes a three-film tribute.  I don't know how they'll move forward with more "Star Trek" films without him, which seems like a damn shame.   

THE PLOT:  When a devastating illness threatens to end Evan Lake's career in the C.I.A., he goes rogue to hunt down a terrorist who tortured him during a mission gone awry years ago.

AFTER: This feels like a pretty standard "CIA agent goes undercover to take out his enemy" film, except they've thrown a new wrinkle or two into the mix.  The enemy, a man thought dead for 20 years, is believed to be alive after information is intercepted about a request for medical attention for a man with his exact and rare hereditary condition, and the agent himself is suffering from a rapidly worsening mental condition, possibly brought on by head injuries received while in captivity in Beirut.  Do you want to guess the identity of the man who tortured him?  

If the film has a thrown-together sort of feel to it, it could be because the right to a final cut was taken away from its director, Paul Schrader, and the film was re-edited by the studio.  As we've seen before, with films like "Fantastic Four", this tends to create a "sinking ship" phenomenon, where the director and other crew members make public statements about how the end result is so vastly different from what was originally intended.  The person most upset in this case seemed to be the cinematographer, who was denied the right to fulfill his duty, and make the film reflect the vision of the director.  However, as we also saw with "Fantastic Four", there's no guarantee that the director's version would have been any better, we the audience only know that it would have been different.  

For all I know, Schrader's version could have been all over the place, and could have run really long in parts that should have been edited down.  For all I know, the 94-minute version that aired on cable represents a stripped-down, fast-paced version of a story that might have been incoherent before another editor took a crack at it.  For all I know, a coherent plot got salvaged from something that was incoherent before - but we'll never know for sure, all we have is the version that we can see.  

And this version isn't terrible, it's just a little...simple.  If you believe that Nicolas Cage's character can put on a fake beard and mustache, gray up his hair, add glasses, and NOT still look like Nicolas Cage, then this might be believable.  Maybe bear in mind that government cutbacks have really affected the CIA, and perhaps the disguises budget is the first thing to go?

Also starring Nicolas Cage (last seen in "The Death of Superman Lives - What Happened?"), Alexander Karim (last seen in "42"), Irene Jacob (last seen in "U.S. Marshals"), Claudius Peters, Silas Carson (last seen in "Flawless"), Serban Celea.

RATING: 4 out of 10 fake passports 

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