24 Hours to Live- Quick Review

Ethan Hawke’s character in this movie is no John Wick or Chev Chelios and this movie is certainly not Crank or John Wick(1 or 2). I mention these because this movie borrows from both of these movies, John Wick in amount of cinematic gun play and Crank in basically the entire plot premise and it executes on neither of them. The plot is summed up in one phrase and it happens to be the title, Ethan Hawke has 24 hours to live. In between gunshots the movie never really asks the question whether we care about this or not and if it had, I would have said, hell no, he should have died in Training Day so that Denzel Washingtons Alonzo could still be around to prove to King Kong that he ain’t got shit on him. Either way if the premise sounds familiar its because it is, Crank did the exact same thing except better. Crank was so over top, we had Statham using paddles on himself and public sex at a horse race, it did not take itself seriously. This movie plays the concept straight faced and it is as ridiculous as it sounds.  We get scenes where pale old wimpy Hawke is headshotting everybody in site, moments after waking up from what is essentially a complete heart transplant and being brought back to life, complete with 24 hours left arm timer for no discernible reason besides to act as an in-effective, all too intrusive suspense creator later in the movie. Like most time devices in movies, it becomes laughable quickly when 6 minutes of on screen time is actually 20 in the viewers world. If you don’t believe me, watch ” In Time” with Justin Timberlake and pay attention to amounts of times the characters shout out compared to their actions on screen.So plot wise the movie is a rehash, and then we get to the shooting a la John Wick.

Regardless of your view of “John Wick”, Keanu looks like he knows what he is doing and the shootouts are choreographed flawlessly. This film, not so much. Although there are some cool sequences, namely the part of one shootout where Xu Qing’s character is stuck on a little balcony with wooden framing and doors with two other characters, one of which gets roasted by machine gunfire that blows through the wood. A little bit of realism in a movie that otherwise resolves conflicts with incredibly coincidental timing or with everyone being dead. I spoke too soon, in said scene we proceed to see Qing’s character exit through a door below the balcony,  she is shot at and inexplicably missed by Henchman on the balcony she just jumped from. This is presumably the same guy who just shot somebody through wood without being able to see them. Terrible shooting aside, Qing decides to  walk backwards through an door opening( I’m not positive, but walking through a door backwards into a room where you have no idea what is in there is probably not a good tactical move) and the shot lets us see two henchman weapons raised right behind her. Oh no! Certain Doom! Nope, Ethan hawke appears from nowhere in the nick of time and rams both guys with a car, says some inane quip and they all act as if nothing just happened. In a paint by numbers action movie like this, sequences of just random dumb luck pull you further out of the story. Qing is demonstrated to have thick plot armor and Ethan Hawke is a skilled agent who relies mostly on great timing, not skill. It is hard to care about already shallowly crafted characters, but when you know there is no real chance they die, then even a lackadaisical suspense defense like an arm countdown clock accomplishes nothing.

 

Hawke being useless as an action hero aside, the movie just isn’t fun. It plays heavy themes of military commitment and regret for doing violent things for a job against shootouts where Ethan Hawke kills battalions of guys. *Spoiler Alert* at the end Ethan Hawke doesn’t kill his buddy because he is a dad and has a family? Hey Ethan, do you think some of the 40+ guys you killed throughout the movie weren’t secretly family men? Oh, so nameless henchmen can’t have a family, but ultra successful CEO of said murder-for-hire company gets sympathy for having a kid? Like the rest of the movie, Hawke takes himself and the role way to seriously and we get laughable moments where he goes from getting his ass-kicked to then simultaneously wielding two pistols and using said pistols to hold two separate people at gun point. Of course there is all of the multiple, boring gun fights leading up to this to firmly plant in the viewers brain that, yes Ethan Hawke is actually a bad ass. If you stay awake during said gun fights, this final moment with Hawke covered in a ridiculous amount of blood and holding pistols out with both arms like he is being crucified, breathing heavily, biceps blaring in his white tee is still over the top. It does make a fitting final scene for a movie that tries hard to be original and does its best to copy the formula of previous successful movies, but in the end its just another fill-in-the blank action movie.

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Quick Review- Guardians of the Galaxy 2

Similar to the first movie, too much computer animation for my liking. Also, sadly I believe there was a little too much Chris Prattiness in the fist half of the movie, it was trying too hard to be funny and it hit on some  jokes and missed on others. It got to the point where the comedy was too obvious, the banter seemed robotic. Not a fan of Gamora and Pratt’s star lord,  we get it Gamora has attachment issues stemming from having Thanos as an abusive father and having Nebula as a crazy sister. This is the worst dynamic in the movie, it is portrayed flatly and Saldana and Pratt didn’t impress me from a chemistry standpoint.

On the other end of the spectrum, big fan of Drax and Mantis. I like that they both tell the truth and deal with the consequences, time to get heavy, but I think this quality lacks in our society as a whole. We white lie all day long in attempts to remain Politically correct or “nice”. What is nice? I would say Drax saying he likes Mantis because of her personality and how she treats others would qualify as “nice”, but I also think there is an argument to be made that when he says “she is hideous to look at” it works to give weight to his feelings. Yes it is a horrible thing to say to someone, but is it really that horrible when Drax puts it into context by saying he likes her anyway? Now Mantis knows Drax actually likes her and not her looks all because he is incapable of couching his comments as our society demands of us. I digress, but like I said I like the Drax and Mantis dynamic, it rings as true as the comments they constantly throw at each other.

However, my favorite coupling of the whole movie is Rocket Raccoon and Yondu. Michael Rooker is great in his badass to father figure role, not only to *spoiler alert* Chris Pratt, but also to Rocket. Yondu’s unexpected turn to the sensitive side really struck me and was something I did not entirely see coming. Obviously it works as a plot point to motivate Pratt’s Star Lord to fight against his father , Ego, with some cheesy line about piloting his arrow with his “heart”( even though it is connected to his brain telepathically through his fin I believe) not his mind. Yondu’s line to Rocket about, ” I know you boy” brought a tear to my cynical eyes and to me was a much more effective emotional moment because it didn’t have the dramatic “save the galaxy Starlord with this wisdom” backdrop, instead it was Yondu sincerely reaching out to a rough and tumble, emotionally vulnerable cynical character similar to himself just for the sake of doing it.

Overall, the movie hits a lot of the points from the original, good banter sprinkled with good action. Explaining that your main antagonist is a living planet was handled well enough considering not having much precedent, unless maybe you consider the “plants are killing us” reveal from “The Happening” as being of the same vein. That reveal also sucked so still nothing to go off of. Too much computer animation, but that seems to be the way most of the film industry is trending. Another Guardians movie is promised by the ending, I think for the next one the formula will need to be tweaked or audiences will start to get the feeling that we have been tricked into watching the same movie 3 times.  Still a solid movie, sprinkle in some more Yondu bonding moments with any of the characters and it would have been pushed into the great category for me. Also, baby Groot was pretty cute and I thought it was hilarious that it was integral to the plot that he was an idiot. Michael Rooker wins in my book for best performance in them movie, Bradley Cooper voicing Rocket is second for me.