Friday, December 28, 2007

Juno: The Cheese to your Macaroni


Release: 12/25/2007
Rated PG-13
1 hour, 32 minutes


Ellen Page (Hard Candy) stars as Juno MacGuff, a quirky sixteen-year-old student at Dancing Elk High School. Juno has always endeavored to set herself apart from the high school drones and, thanks to an afternoon with her best friend Paulie Bleeker, played by Michael Cera (Superbad), she is more different than ever from her classmates. Juno never planned to get pregnant, but since there’s never a DeLorean around when you need it, she has to decide what will be best for the two of them.

“Juno”, written by newcomer Diablo Cody, is as atypical as the story’s title character. Juno’s dialogue and that of her supporting cast is steeped in the parlance of our times, adding an air of truthiness to this modern fairytale. No coward to colloquialism, director Jason Reitman (of cleverly written “Thank You for Smoking” fame) creates a film that is funny, involving and endearing.

Cody and Reitman don’t deserve all the credit; surprisingly, all the actors do. I should rephrase; I never fretted that Page would be a dud having witnessed her skills in 2005’s “Hard Candy,” nor did I waver in my adoration of Michael Cera’s humorously matter-of-fact delivery and the continually unexpected talents of Jason Bateman (Smokin’ Aces). Heck, I even knew Allison Janney (Hairspray) and J.K. Simmons (Spider-Man) rarely come to a set without packing the acting heat. But seeing Jennifer Garner give a tolerable performance demands kudos all around (granted, I am basing my opinion of her film skills on the likes of “Elektra” and “Catch and Release”). In all honesty, I thought the hype about the award-deserving performances was just that, with the exception of Page, but having seen “Juno” I stand corrected.

Dirty Undies
Let’s talk about legs. One of the early scenes shows off Page’s and Cera’s gams. But time and time again, the director revisits Cera’s smooth appendages. Don’t believe how attractive they are? Here’s a testimonial:

Despite having obvious sexual situations, “Juno” isn’t overly sexual, graphic, brutal, or harsh on the lobes. It’s really a film worth watching for its merit…and Cera’s thighs.

The Money Shot
Witty, eccentric, amusing; these are just a few words to describe “Juno.” Ellen Page will have you laughing and quoting dialogue for months. A lot happens in “Juno” and aficionados may not be satisfied with its conclusion, but if you and enough friends go see it, then you will have someone to talk about it with while you quote those great lines.

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Friday, December 21, 2007

Good Tidings to you, Stargazers!

Before we all slip away from our PCs to spend time with loved ones, I want to wish everyone a very joyous holiday, Happy Kwanzaa, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, etc. In honor of the season, I’d like to tell the tale of three men who come bearing gifts. The gifts are blood, music, and weapons, and those men, of course, are Sweeney Todd, Dewey Cox and Charlie Wilson, the focal characters of the three reviews I have scrawled below. Sally forth and enjoy reading about these movies that may give you a release from the more stressful aspects of the upcoming holidays.

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Let's Give War a Chance

Charlie Wilson’s War

Release: 12/21/2007
Rated R
1 hour, 37 minutes


One of the shortest (and shortest-titled) films opening this holiday season is this inspired-by-a-true-story flick. Tom Hanks (Forrest Gump) plays the title character, a six-term Texas Congressman in the late eighties who used his charisma and connections to influence various committees into covertly backing the Afghanistan people in their war against the Soviet Union.

Writer Aaron Sorkin (*The American President) adapted the George Crile book based on these true events and director Mike Nichols (*Primary Colors) molded the story into a mesh of memorable scenes and historical footage. These scenes center on Hanks who seems to vie for the title of Scene Chewer Numero Uno against Philip Seymour Hoffman (Punch-Drunk Love). Julia Roberts (Closer) is good, as always, but her role as the highly influential Joanna Herring is little more than a glorified cameo. The frank discourse between Hanks and Hoffman is chock full of great lines, and the matter-of-fact honesty in their dialogue reinforces the emotion and inspiration behind this covert war.

Nichols keeps “War” moving along, delivering a tightly packed and quickly paced film. Nichols focuses on the screen-filling presence of the great actors with their witty quips and strays away from them only to show the contrast with the Afghanistan plight or let the audience gander at Charlie’s knack for attracting beautiful women.

Dirty Undies

Speaking of, not in a while have I wanted to see a woman get buck-ass naked more than when I saw Emily Blunt (Devil Wears Prada) parading about in her unmentionables. I always heard the hype surrounding her sexiness, and now I get it. It is a disappointment that she doesn’t bare all, but there are some other topless females and we get a nice butt shot from what I assume to be Hanks’ body double. Sadly, the finest of the ladies; Roberts, Amy Adams (Enchanted) and all of Charlie’s Angels are provocative, but not gratifying in that nude sort of way.

Hoffman talks as sleazy as he looks with the expletives barely slowing as they tumble from beneath his bushy upper lip. Even Hanks tosses about the occasional F-bomb, but he can’t compete in a battle of vulgarities against the Hoff.

This film is surprisingly graphic in its depiction of the destruction and slaughter of the Afghanistan people. It’s not as detailed as torture porn or even a run-of-the-mill action movie, but the violence was more than I had expected to see.

The Money Shot

“Charlie Wilson’s War” offers up a nice perspective on how we (as in the US) got here in terms of our current embroilment. It establishes this perspective amid jokes, beautiful women, and great acting in a way that makes you forget the seriousness of the subject matter. Besides, it has been a rare occurrence of late to discover a dud Hanks film (“The DaVinci Code” not withstanding), so why wouldn’t you give this film a whirl?

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Reilly Takes the Hard Walk

Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story
Release: 12/21/2007
Rated R
1 hour, 38 minutes

Second Run Seats ($$)

Two years ago we had “Ray.” Last year we were treated to “Walk the Line.” Now comes the story of musical legend Dewey Cox. Told in much the same way as the Johnny Cash biopic, the story of Dewey Cox begins before a pivotal concert, and then leads into remembrances of his humble beginnings on the farm, his rise to stardom through his infectious songs, his descent into drug abuse and the constant struggle with his inner demons. This is but a glimpse into the life of Dewey Cox.

This parody of the singer-biopic genre was co-written by Hollywood’s golden boy, Judd Apatow (Knocked Up), and director Jake Kasdan (Orange County). Members of Dewey’s band and the women in his life are portrayed by a slew of Saturday Night Live alums, including Tim Meadows (The Ladies Man), Chris Parnell (Hot Rod), and Kristen Wiig (Knocked Up), just to name a few. “Walk Hard” also includes tons of cameos by a wide range of singers and actors, and even a few Apatow favs like Jane Lynch (A Mighty Wind), Harold Ramis (Ghostbusters) and the incomparable Paul Rudd (The OH in Ohio). However, it is one of my personal unsung heroes, John C. Reilly (Chicago), who plays Dewey Cox.

Reilly gives his all for an earnest portrayal of the pseudo-legendary singer Cox, and the performances by the supporting cast are commendable. It’s the source material that cannot sustain the potential of the titular character’s life. Some truly side-splitting moments are spread between long spans of the story trying too hard to be funny. There’s always a fine line between quirkiness and inanity in Apatow’s films, and this one falls too far into the latter. Because it’s a parody the writers were able to draw many obvious parallels to movies like “Ray” and “Walk the Line,” and even make a few more obscure references to movies like “Coal Miner’s Daughter” and “La Bamba.” The problem is that the parallels barely added to the humor.

On the plus side, the music is phenomenal. Reilly performs all his own songs and that in itself is a delight. I see myself buying this soundtrack, if for no other reason than not having to sit through the many unfunny and non-musical moments of “Walk Hard” again. I don’t mean to sound so harsh because when this is funny it’s funny, but it’s not nearly as funny as the commercials made it out to be. Maybe that’s because a majority of scenes shown from the trailers are strangely absent…

Dirty Undies
Dewey Cox delivers more than wild drug-induced antics. An orgy aftermath, complete with a room full of pert chesticles and a flaccid cock (thankfully not Cox’s) is on display to be devoured by audience eyes. Jenna Fischer (*Blades of Glory) plays Dewey’s love interest, Darlene, as a lovely and demure southern belle, but the way she works her ice cream and the words coming from her mouth will have your loins yearning for her ring of fire.

The Money Shot
John C. Reilly sings the songs, fights the demons, and walks the hard walk. His performance is one of the best comedic roles of the year in a film that falls well short of audience expectations. With word-of-mouth like it is, Mr. Reilly may need to journey a little longer before finding the vehicle that’ll make him the theatrical juggernaut I know he can be.

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Gushing with the Burton Family Holiday Cheer

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Release: 12/21/2007
Rated R
1 hour, 56 minutes


Open on an optimistic young sailor putting into port in London. Enter the dark passenger Sweeney Todd, portrayed by Johnny Depp (*Sleepy Hollow), who quickly extols the true virtues of the big city through a musical rendition of his tragic past. He finds refuge with a Ms. Lovett, played by Helena Bonham Carter (Big Fish), above her meat pie shop, who tells him what has happened to his beloved family during his long absence. Filled with wrath, he sets about seeking revenge on the man who destroyed his life and love, Judge Turpin, played by Alan Rickman (Die Hard).

In a season of bright lights and colorful decorations, it’s nice to know there’s a guy like Tim Burton (Edward Scissorhands) around; a director ready to darken the mood and remind us why we should be thankful. “Sweeney Todd” reeks of Burton’s familiar visual style; he has a way of utilizing black and gray tones to an almost vibrant effect (the zigzag stripes and occasional splashes of color help).

I am not familiar with the Stephen Sondheim musical so I’m unclear what influence, if any, writer John Logan (Gladiator) had in establishing this story. The tale of the Demon Barber is told almost entirely through verse, with only a scant amount of non-musical dialogue. The lyrics are clever and cheerfully twisted. The actors’ songs are easy on the ears though I don’t foresee any Grammy nominations for their renditions. Singing aside, Depp is absolutely devoid of redeeming qualities and perverse in the satisfaction attained from his trade. However, its Carter’s twisted portrayal that will leave audiences truly disturbed.

Dirty Undies
Watching the first twenty minutes of Sweeney Todd, it’s obvious to see Burton’s love for Carter lies within the depths of her bosom. Admittedly, she has a certain look about her that makes me want to believe that necrophilia is acceptable, at least in the Burton household. Seriously, you’ve got to admit Helena Bonham Carter and the Living Dead Dolls line were separated at birth:

Aside from Carter’s cleavage, the big draw of “Sweeney Todd” is the reunion of Todd to his beloved friends, the razors. Watching his blades connect with victim after victim, jets of bright red juice spewing from jugulars, heightened by the pulsing score, is thrilling. For an added touch of sweet brutality audiences get the bone-crunching thud of the barber chair ejections with each fatality.

The Money Shot
This holiday season, Burton and the Warner Brothers shield deliver a darkly fun, visually stimulating film that’s also a musical, and it’s drenched in blood. It is a big three-for-three for me to see it, but you will have to decide if the Demon Barber offers up the right trimmings for your holiday spirit.

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Repeat Bidness: The Simpsons Movie

Release: 07/27/2007
DVD Release: 12/18/2007
1 hour, 27 minutes
Rated PG-13


Would it be too obvious to give a resounding “woo hoo!” or “exxxcellent?” How about I just say, “everything’s coming up Milhouse!”

After being a television mainstay for nearly two decades and having nearly every promotional item ever created bearing their image--from key chains to calendars to action figures to bedroom slippers--creator Matt Groening and company decided that the Simpsons were ready for the big screen.

With “The Simpsons Movie” out on DVD today, fans, both casual and devoted, are dying to know:

  • What is it all about?
  • Does everyone in Springfield make an appearance?
  • Which celebs make cameos?
  • Is it true Bart shows his dangle?
  • Is it as funny and random as the show tends to be?
  • Is it more vulgar than the show?
  • Does everything that appears in the commercial really happen in the movie?
  • Do any characters die?

And the list of questions goes on and on. Having the answers to all these burning questions, I would like to say (in my best impersonation of the disturbingly anorexic Brittany Murphy), “I’ll never tell!!!”

That’s right. Being an avid lover of Homer and the crew, you may be expecting me to gush over “The Simpsons Movie,”, but I’m not going to. Did I enjoy it? Heck yeah I did! That’s all you need to know. Trying to summarize the plot would just ruin some of the truly inspired moments from the film, and providing Dirty Undies would only spoil any rude and blasphemous comments that the characters make.

After enjoying over four hundred episodes--some inarguably great, some painfully bad (and usually starring Lisa)-- isn’t it worth your money to see the iconic American family on the big screen? If you don’t think it’s worth the price of admission, I’ll be praying to Jebus for your soul.

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Friday, December 14, 2007

Insert Sarcastically "Perfect" Quip Here

The Perfect Holiday

Release: 12/12/2007
Rated PG
1 hour, 36 minutes

Second-Run Seats ($$)

Released under Queen Latifah’s Flavor Unit Entertainment production plaque, “The Perfect Holiday” also features Latifah (Hairspray) as a narrator, and, evidently, Mrs. Christmas, according to the credits. Mrs. Christmas relates the story of Benjamin, played by Morris Chestnut (Breakin’ All the Rules), a struggling singer-songwriter who works part-time as a mall Santa. After hours of gimme-gimme-gimme pleas from children, his ears prick up when a young girl asks him to send a nice man to give her mommy, Nancy, a compliment. After Benjamin takes one look at Nancy, played by Gabrielle Union (Two Can Play That Game), he is smitten and makes the child’s wish come true with a quickness. But that one small act of kindness leads Benjamin to his perfect life while his many white lies threaten to destroy it all.

It’s hard to know where to begin with “Perfect Holiday.” I could have done without the director’s too-close-for-comfort close-ups of Latifah. For that matter, I could have done without her narrator character altogether. Granted, that would have eliminated Terrence Howard (Pride) and his glorified cameo as her nemesis, Bah Humbug, but trust me; it’s no big loss. The story’s entire premise of Benjamin weaving a tangled web of lies and deceit to uphold his mall Santa-child confidentiality made my head want to explode, and made for a lot of clunky, unnecessary clean up during the final resolution. Maybe this is my social outrage, but couldn’t a family-friendly movie like this have had a few more positive role models than rap moguls, single moms, and broke-ass aspiring songwriters? Let me close my Grinchy commentary by saying the child actors were struggling and in desperate need of some coaching.

All that said, “Holiday” is a movie meant to spread holiday cheer, and it does accomplish that. With their great timing and delivery Faizon Love (*Elf), Charlie Murphy (Roll Bounce), and Katt Williams (TV: The Boondocks) will keep you laughing with their ridiculous and blunt dialogue. While the overall premise is cliché, the interactions between the kids, friends, and budding lovers are earnest and the too-good-to-be-true overtones will ultimately lift your spirits.

Dirty Undies
It’s hard not to see a film that has two of Hollywood’s hottest stars in it. While Union is old enough to have three kids, looking at her makes the setup implausible, especially when she’s clad in that revealing skintight black dress. I believe my idea of a perfect holiday would be waking up to Miss Union wrapped in only a big red ribbon underneath my Christmas tree. If that were to happen, I can tell you the results would make a far more entertaining (though far from PG) Christmas story!

Surprisingly, Murphy and Williams keep the vulgarities under wraps and deliver a bounty of clean jokes for general audiences. The only remotely risqué moment in the film is watching the boy playing Miss Union’s younger son call her “bootylicious” – that was just wrong on so many levels.

The Money Shot
For a film that doesn’t have much substance, I’ve probably squeezed what’s left of it out. All you need to know is that it’s Christmas and “Perfect Holiday” fits the feel-good film bill for the season. With a pinch of good-looking people, a spoonful of comedy and a cup of good intentions you can enjoy this movie…if taken with a grain of salt, or salty popcorn at least.

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Friday, December 7, 2007

Trailer Trash: The December Gang Bang

Another month has passed and the time has come to grab a bucket of ice and participate in the gang bang. The month of December has far fewer and more obscure participants than last month for many reasons. One is that people are feeling the holiday spirit a little too much to enjoy too many outings to the theater. Second, it's the push for gripping award winning drama, i.e. excruciatingly long and thoughtful films, that take over the silver screen.

According to IMDB's December Now Playing List at the time of this posting there are twenty-six films to be released in December and only twelve of those are slated to be wide releases. The majority of the films will be limited releases that will receive wider release during January, assuming audiences find them interesting enough. So, assuming all these films will come to my town (though realizing half of these won't surface here until damn near February) I now present the December Gang Bang.

Moist with Antici...Pation!
The Walker (12/7 ltd.) Woody Harrelson has been making a comeback in recent years and working with a strong supporting cast of Ya-Ya also-rans holds promise. If that doesn't pull you in the character and ambiance of the preview is enough to warrant consideration.
Grace Is Gone (12/7 ltd.) Oh my, our young Cusack is all growed up. He's tackling the heavy roles and looking especially dowdy in his windshield sized specs. He looks all torn up in this film and I have the feeling there will not be a dry eye in the house by the time the credits roll.
Juno (12/14 ltd.) Mention the names Michael Cera or Jason Bateman to me and I'll be first in line to buy a ticket. Throw in the fact that this looks to be an equally funny (if not funnier), less drug-impaired version of "Knocked Up" and why would you not add this to your must-see list?
Charlie Wilson's War (12/21) Yeah yeah yeah, folks are sick of watching films about Afghanistan and war. On the plus side, Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, and Phillip Seymour Hoffman make the idea of sitting through another war story tolerable, maybe even enjoyable.
Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (12/21) Judd Apatow has been known to have his missteps and this may be yet another one. But I'm willing to take that risk for a film that headlines John C. Reilly - truly, the man is due his props and my hope is that it begins here.
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (12/21 ltd.) When dreamy Johnny Depp teams up with creepy Tim Burton it is always quite the spectacle. While I do find it odd that the trailers seem to avoid the musical aspect of this story, I have no fear that this dark tale will inspire thrills and chills...Burton's bizarre arm candy, Helena Bonham Carter, alone will see to that.
Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem (12/25) Remember last year when you were at the movies and you couldn't believe the three people walking into "Black Christmas" while you were going to see "Deck the Halls?" Yeah, well I was one of those people and while "BC" sucked massive donkey balls, I have come to respect this franchise born of a video game born of two disparate film franchises. Now, let's go watch shit get raw.
The Orphanage (12/25 ltd.) If you haven't noticed, I do love me a good slasher film but I do appreciate a quality scary film on the rare occasion one presents itself. "El Orfanato" or "The Orphange" looks like it will terrify the Jeebus out of its audience.
There Will Be Blood (12/26 ltd.) Awesome doesn't even begin to describe Daniel Day-Lewis. Nor does it describe Paul Thomas Anderson and his work behind a camera. Find this trailer, watch this trailer, and get ready to be pissed to have to wait for the movie to be released.

It's Friday, I don't want to be alone.
The Golden Compass (12/7) Finally, this movie will be released. I was not dying to see it mind you, but if I had to sit through another month of trailers, I'd slit my wrists. This looked promising when promotions started a year ago, now I just want to put a bullet through the armored head of every polar bear I see.
Revolver (12/7 ltd.) Jason Statham and Ray Liotta in a Guy Ritchie film that doesn't also star Madonna?! I should be sporting wood over this film but, sadly, I'm not. Maybe I'm turned off by seeing Statham with hair longer and greasier than my fingers at a KFC buffet.
The Amateurs (12/7 ltd.) I don't know what's weirder, the idea that a small town could produce it's own amatuer porn or that anyone in a small town would let someone like Jeff Bridges convince them to do it. I can feel safe knowing that this huge ensemble cast is probably worth blowing my load over.
The Kite Runner (12/14 ltd.) The second tale featuring Afghanistan has the distinction of being adapted from a best-selling novel. Knowing this will be a sure-fire Oscar contender is probably the only thing that will put me in the theater for this...does that say a lot about me or about this lackluster trailer?
National Treasure: Book of Secrets (12/21) I look at this trailer and can't help but think, why? Because the first was a success or because Nicolas Cage's best performance in the past year was in the fake trailer "Werewolf Women of the SS" in "Grindhouse" and he's scrapping for a hit? I mean I'll see this regardless but I have my wagging finger at the ready.
The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep (12/25) Granted, the "Millions" kid is as cute as a button and watching a canine being pestered by CGI is adorable, but I've got to draw the line here. Walden Media is determined to mar the reputation of any half-decent kid's book within its reach. I can't decide whether to stop the madness or just have myself committed.
The Great Debaters (12/25) It's impossible to escape December without at least one biopic, and this one stars not only the brilliant Forest Whitaker but also has the dazzling Denzel Washington (both behind and in front of the camera). If you have to endure at least one big screen made-for-TV movie, why not let it be this one?
The Bucket List (12/25 ltd.) Back in October 2006, Rob Reiner must have thought that the NBC show "Twenty Good Years" was on to something. Taking the concept no one cared about, he tacked on the two all-time scene chewers Nicholson and Freeman and he's prime to rake in the coinage. Damn his soul!
Cassandra's Dream (12/25 ltd.) Sparkly man candy Ewan McGregor shares the screen with skeazy man candy Colin Farrell. Woody Allen seems to have been on a winning streak with his last few movies so why do I get the feeling that his luck is about to run out? Maybe excellent acting by the pretty boys and Tom Wilkinson will keep him afloat a little longer.

Exercise the Right to Cinematic Celibacy.
Atonement (12/7) Movie makers love to shove Keira Knightley into some period pieces and out of period attire whenever possible, but I think James McAvoy will emit the sex appeal in this film. Otherwise this just looks like a British "Cold Mountain" and I don't know if I can sit still for that tale once more.
The Perfect Holiday (12/12) Damned if it ain't Terrence Howard in yet another 2007 movie! But he's not the draw here. Apparently, they're trying to see if the sound of crickets can drown out the audience's response. I mean who in their ever-lovin' mind would hire Charlie Murphy, scratch that, Charlie Murphy and Katt Williams for a friggin' PG movie?!
Alvin and the Chipmunks (12/12) Thanks to the overexposure and saturation of Justin Timberlake throughout 2007, a CGI-version of these nasally-voiced rodents was inevitable. I must admit to chuckling at a couple of moments of this trailer (with great shame) but it'll be Jason Lee who'll be trying to wash the stinkpalm effect of this film off his resume for years to come.
I Am Legend (12/14) Am I the only person who thinks this film looks dull as dirt? "Legend" a remake of the Heston classic "The Omega Man," has all the markings of a sleeper more so than a sleeper hit.
Youth Without Youth (12/14 ltd.) Hmm, Francis Ford Coppola's in the director's chair once again. I watched all the trailers and I still don't get what the hell this story is supposed to be about. This may be a time when having a fast-forward button is a blessing.
P.S. I Love You (12/21) You can say I'm a Grinch when it comes to romantic comedies, but the idea that a dead man plans out his wife's grief recovery and sets her up with a creepily similar new love is more sick than endearing. P.P.S. Only way I'll be in the theater for this one is if Swank is there giving out free handjobs.

December Releases not included:
Flakes (12/19 ltd.) Though no trailer was available for this film, Zooey Deschanel is a nice bit of eccentric eye candy and in the hands of the director of the "Hudson Hawk" who knows what heights (or depths) this story could reach.
Persepolis (12/25 ltd.) I've watched the trailers several times and I don't think I have the proper frame of reference to judge this. If we even get this film in my neck of the woods, I gotta check it out if only to see if the whole film will make me understand it better.

I think that's about all the celluloid one person can take. Was it good for you?

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Hitman's Good For Killin' Time

Hey Hey Stargazers!

I know many of you have been anxiously anticipating a review of a theatrical release and not a DVD release. Maybe it's the chill of the winter winds nipping my brainflow, or maybe I ingested a toxic amount of tryptophan over the Thanksgiving holiday that's just now wearing off. Heck, it could be the mounting depression (stemming from the ongoing writers’ strike) of knowing that I will only be able to staunch my film addiction at the loving hands of Netflix in 2008. All I know is my slackness is a mystery all its own. But no one cares about that; you just wanna hear about the movie!!

The Hitman

Release: 11/21/2007
Rated R
1 hour, 40 minues

Matinee ($$$)

Everyone's favorite skeevy Pete, a.k.a. Timothy Olyphant (The Girl Next Door), cleans himself up (somewhat) to portray an assassin known only as 47 in this adaptation of the popular video game bearing the same name. If you've never seen an assassin action film, there's pretty much two basic plots; either the assassin is embroiled in a deadly têtê-a-têtê with a younger colleague out to make a name for himself, or the assassin is pursued relentlessly after finishing a job because his paranoid client wants him killed to sever their implication in the dirty deed. "The Hitman" falls into the latter category.

Agent 47 is running for his life after being stiffed on the job. He latches onto a young escort, Nika, portrayed by Olga Kurylenko, who is the only link to the client now trying to kill him.

Olyphant does a commendable job playing the callous, calculating hitman. His expressions, the glint in his eye and pursing of the lips remind me of Eastwood except without all that, you know, commanding presence. But slap a few polished guns in his hands and strap a half-naked Ukrainian babe by his side and you’d almost never know the difference.

The Hitman says little and kills a lot all for the sake of evading his pursuers. One bloodhound is an obnoxious, headstrong Interpol agent who’s always this close to capturing 47 - adeptly played by Dougray Scott (Enigma). Another is Russian secret service agent Yuri Marklov, played by Robert Knepper (Hostage), who wants to keep Interpol out of his city and his business. Of course there are the innumerable villains with their shiny guns and knives who all do an excellent job of falling and screaming on cue.

Dirty Undies
Let me continue on a bit about the guns and knives. What would an assassin movie be without a substantial amount of killing? “Hitman” passes muster with flying colors. There is nary a room that 47 enters, a corner that he turns that does not unfold into rivers of bloodshed and deafening gunfire and explosions.

And let me not forget sexy and lithe Kurylenko whose piercings, tattoos, and blatant disrespect for wearing concealing attire is all too welcome. Her hotness overshadows Olyphant’s steamy glare. Kurylenko makes me rethink my position on mail-order Ukrainian brides (though I think my wife’s position still remains firm).

The Money Shot
“The Hitman” is a fast-paced excuse for a body-count. It delivers a decent enough story with solid direction and it keeps the characters’ lines to a minimum to avoid any undue suffering. In a time of year when heart-wrenching dramas reign supreme, it’s comforting to know audiences can find refuge amid a hail of heart-bursting gunfire.

Large Association of Movie Blogs