Heist movies have been among the more highly revered genres for decades and it seems unlikely that it will stop anytime soon. In most cases, the audience finds themselves rooting for the person(s) committing the often elaborate heist in the hopes that they may get to walk off into the sunset thus granting a payoff (figuratively and literally speaking) to viewers and the characters. So, what are we getting with Focus?
Focus follows the life of highly experienced con artist, Nicky Spurgeon (Will Smith) who has, obviously, been in the game for a while and has a wildly successful and covert operation with his team in which massive amounts of money is generated from selling ‘hot’ merchandise and other commodities. Enter young, and intrigued Jess Barrett (Margot Robbie) who crosses paths with Nicky and immediately wants to be a part of the operation. As expected, Jess seems to be transforming from high potential apprentice, to someone of high affection to Nicky. Needless to say, things get just a little complicated.
Calling back to the previous point about heist movies in general, is the desire for the successful pull off of the heist. More often than not, movies of this type make the audience overlook the criminal actions of the protagonists due to the fact that the person or group they are robbing has far more reprehensible qualities. In Focus, most of the people being robbed are actually quite oblivious bystanders. In fact, there is a scene (which is well filmed by directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa) in which a slew of random people get robbed blind via slight of hand techniques. To the credit of the scene, and watching the team work, it was a sight to behold and was quite entertaining. On the other hand, imagine being one of those people walking down the street and in startling late fashion discovering something of high value was taken. You would be a little pissed and paranoid would you not? It would be hard to say that there really is a villain to be found opposite Nicky and his crew which can make rooting for them a tad more difficult. Perhaps that is the point here.
They say whats old is new again, and in the case of Kingsman: The Secret Service directed by Matthew Vaughn, this statement rings true. Spy-related movies in general have taken a turn toward the more serious and purely dramatic route. Not to say that it is a bad thing, but for some,spy movies usually entail a certain level of fun to overlap the obviously dangerous particulars that coincide with the job.
Kingsman leads off with a group of the, well, Kingsman conducting a military operation in the middle east which does not end with necessarily savory results. Fast forward a decade and some change and we find Kingsman agent Harry Hart (Colin Firth), looking to recruit a young adult to join the Kingsman initiative. Here we find Gary “Eggsy” Unwin (Taron Egerton) among the a group of his peers training in the hopes of becoming a field agent. Meanwhile, you have eccentric billionaire, Richmond Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson) unveiling his own plans to “save the planet” in the long run no matter the immediate costly consequences.
One of the great things about Kingsman is the fact that it is self-aware. The movie pays homage to the Bond movies of old with the use of gadgets and exciting presentation. In fact a couple of the characters actually do make reference to the old school bond movies in a very tongue-in-cheek fashion. Another series that briefly came to mind was the first Men in Black (no, there are not any aliens present in the movie) in the sense that this clandestine organization brings about a certain intrigue in how they conduct their operations. At the same time it is amusing to watch the new recruits attempt to acclimate to the stresses of field work in their training. Kingsman does not take itself TOO seriously, there is a healthy balance of comedic beats to offset the stylish action scenes.
If Jupiter Ascending were a person, they’d be schizophrenic. The film is a convoluted and disjointed mess that even top-notch visuals can’t save. To say the film is a waste of your time would be an understatement. If that ringing endorsement doesn’t catch your attention, then continue on dear reader.
To start the convoluted story is a convoluted backstory, following Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis), a Russian immigrant who despite her model good looks is stuck cleaning toilets and living with her stereotypical Russian family. Her father was an Englishman (hence the surname Jones) who was shot and killed shortly after Jones was conceived. Presumably this wasn’t a ringing endorsement of why raising a child in Russia is a fantastic idea, so her family immigrated to the United States.
Am I a bit biased here? Perhaps, given that I was one of the few who thoroughly enjoyed Eastwood’s “Jersey Boys.” The director has an eye for great war stories, just look at Letters From Iwo Jima or Flags of Our Fathers.
Critics and moviegoers can say what they want about the top performances of the year, but Cooper is at the top of the list.
The film tells the story of Chris Kyle and his struggle with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after returning from his tour of duty following 9/11. Some of the best scenes in the film involve Kyle trying to cope with the reality of being back at home as a civilian, and more importantly, a husband and father.
First it was on, then it was off, now it’s on again, sort of. The Interview, a comedy starring James Franco and Seth Rogen has been one of the hottest topics in the entertainment world this past week. Thanks to the reaction of many after the film was taken out of theaters, it’s not gotten a new lease on life. It’s now become an act of patriotism to see this film. Looking at it as a way to defy a dictator, I used my debit card and fed my television $6 to do my part in protecting freedom of speech. God Bless America!
Regardless of how funny The Interview is, it will forever go down as the film that upset North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un so much that he declared it an “act of war.”
Now that I have seen the movie for myself, it makes me laugh to think that theaters were scared to show the film, as it’s truly nothing more than a sophomoric comedy.
James Franco plays Dave Skylark, a self-centered celebrity talk show host. Seth Rogen play Aaron Rapaport, Skylark’s uptight producer.