Monday, January 9, 2017


Year 9, Day 9 - 1/9/17 - Movie #2,509

BEFORE: I fast-forwarded through the Golden Globes last night, but a strange thing is happening with me and this year's nominees for the Globes, and I assume for the Oscars as well - I don't feel very connected to them, or invested in which films get nominated or win.  I've had favorites in past years, even recent past years, like "Birdman", but when you look at the list of films I went to see in the theaters last year, and compare them to the list that's getting critical acclaim during awards season, it just doesn't seem like I'm on the same page as the HFPA, or the Academy.  Sure, I get that I went to see mostly franchise sci-fi and superhero films, but I'm still conscious of this divide, more than ever.  

Do I feel the need to rush out and see "La La Land", or "Moonlight", "Hidden Figures" or "Fences" or "Hacksaw Ridge"?  Not in the slightest - and where are the nominations for films like "Star Trek Beyond", "Nerdland" and "Rogue One"?  Nowhere to be seen.  Maybe they'll get some technical awards during the Oscars, but for now it seems like there are two kinds of films - the kind I like to see, and the kind that gets nominations.  

Now, both of my bosses happen to be Academy members, and they get mailed a TON of screeners - they're meant for Academy eyes only, but I could easily borrow one or ten here and there, and no one would be the wiser.  But I'm not inclined to do that, with rare exceptions  (cough) "Sausage Party" (cough).  Why?  Because it feels like cheating - I enjoy the thrill of the hunt, the anticipation in waiting for a film to premiere on cable or PPV - I guess I'm a masochist at heart.  But there's also the joy in discovering a film on my own, whether other people rave about it or nominate it should be immaterial to the fact that if I think I might like a film, I should watch it.  But the nominated films in particular sometimes feel like they're being forced upon me, like THESE are the 8 nominated films, and you'd better go see them - it's too much pressure, guys.  And it's like putting the cart before the horse, like maybe they should nominate films people (I) like, instead of telling people (me) to like the nominated films.

Stallone carries over from "Creed", and he's back to being a hired killer.

THE PLOT:  Professional hit-man Robert Rath wants to fulfill a few more contracts before retiring but unscrupulous ambitious newcomer hit-man Miguel Bain keeps killing Rath's targets.

AFTER: Much like "The Specialist", I found this film to be mostly moronic, just the thinnest possible storyline to connect the action scenes, which are hired killings here, instead of explosions, but it's all in the same ballpark.  But let me try to explain just HOW dumb this film succeeded in being, and mostly it seems to be due to script problems, either from the situation or the dialogue.  I've got a lot of nits to pick tonight.

I can almost comprehend Stallone's character, he's one of those "just one more job, then I'll quit" guys, but you know deep down that they're probably really in the game until the bitter end.  At least in "The Specialist" he was trying to help the downtrodden battle mobsters, so his heart was in the right place.  But here it seems to be all about the money, and somehow it's never enough, because it's always "just one more job."  When is the payday going to be enough?  

The movie's not interested in letting us find out, though, because on a couple of his "one last jobs" he gets beaten by a younger, up-and-coming hit-man.  The "contractor" who's giving Rath his jobs by stone-age text messages claims to have no knowledge of a competitor, these are supposed to be single-bid jobs that this literal "loose cannon" keeps finding out about.  Yeah, I can see how people would rather hire Miguel, a hitman who's extremely unhinged, the kind of guy who shoots first and forgets to ask questions later.  Because that's really who you want taking care of a professional assassination.  

Miguel's signature move seems to be kicking out the back window of whatever car he's riding in, so he can attack the driver from outside.  Just think about this for a second, you'll realize it's a terrible idea.  It makes him vulnerable to attack or getting knocked out of the car, or scraped against a truck.  And if you're going to attack the guy driving the car, why not do it from directly behind him, where you are sitting?  For that matter, before attacking the guy driving the car, shouldn't you take a second and think what's going to happen to the car if you kill the driver?  Nope, better to act quickly and then deal with the impending crash later, I guess.

(This guy's so off-balance that when they're in Puerto Rico, later in the film, he asks for a beer from some villagers, and it seems like he's forgotten how to speak Spanish.  WTF?)

The third member in this crazy little triangle is a female surveillance expert, who doesn't take any job unless she can bring her cat along.  (Seriously?  You bring your cat to the data exchange, where you know other people might have guns or bombs or whatever?  That's just irresponsible.)  At one point Rath tracks her down by checking out which rooms in a hotel have placed room service orders that include a can of tuna.  Right, because humans NEVER eat tuna fish, people only give them to their cats.  By rights he should have broken the door down on a room with a diet-conscious person in it.  She later brings her cat to Puerto Rico, which apparently doesn't have any quarantine laws about bringing in animals...I guess no cat-sitters were available?

We never really find out what's in the "data files" that she's selling to the Dutch buyers.  You know, it's got "important data" on it - but that doesn't really matter.  I'm more concerned with why she's spying on her neighbors, and this is never explained either.  Are they important people, or is she just obsessed with watching their lives unfold?  Hey, it's kinky, but if that's what does it for you....  She claims to be a "ghost", living off the grid, and she says stupid things like "I don't even have a driver's license" and "I forgot my real name years ago".  But when she gets into trouble, she follows this up later with "I just want to get back to my normal life..."  Oh, the life where you can't remember your name and you don't drive anywhere?  Because that doesn't sound like a lot of fun, or very convenient.  She may not have a driver's license, but we DO see her driving a car - what the heck does she do if she gets pulled over?  Even worse, she later says she has 12 different passports - but still no driver's license?  What the hell? 

At one point, and I swear this is true, Rath and our miss no-name (Electra?) have done a data exchange, and even though she's got no driver's license, she's driving the car, and Rath realizes that his briefcase is ticking - simple, get rid of this dangerous bomb, right?  Nope, instead of throwing it out the window, he decides to hang on to it for another half-mile, because he knows where there's a dumpster up ahead that he can throw it into.  You've GOT to be kidding me. Who does that?

Finally, they all end up in Mexico, because Rath and Electra transfer a bunch of money to a bank there, and apparently they don't understand money transfers, because they think you have to BE there to accept it, or at least withdraw.  Hey, geniuses, if you transferred the money there, you can transfer it to wherever else you're going, too.  You no longer need to go to a bank in person.  But Rath has his heart set up on drawing out Miguel, and when they hit town, he (with the eyes of a hitman, I guess) figures out exactly where Miguel's going to set up his rifle - which is like saying, "I know exactly what he'll do, because I know how unpredictable he is."  

After that, I just didn't care, there was something about a chess game, Rath's old boss, blah blah blah, who cares, just tell me who shoots who and lets call it a day.  Ah, but that ending - there's just no way anyone makes that shot.  Not the best gunman on his best day, because a person's right arm can't make it all they way around their left side, to shoot someone behind them, not without turning around.  So I have to call shenanigans on that too.

Also starring Antonio Banderas (last seen in "The Expendables 3"), Julianne Moore (last seen in "Maps to the Stars"), Anatoli Davydov, Muse Watson (last seen in "Something to Talk About"), Kelly Rowan, Reed Diamond, 

RATING: 3 out of 10 yellow taxis

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