Browse Tag

Kevin Costner

Review: Hidden Figures

If it were more purely about the workplace and less about the homefront, Hidden Figures might have an even stronger case for shining a light on unknown American history. The history in this case surrounds NASA and the lives of three black women who set a new standard for the status of African-Americans in the space program. The three women only occasionally overlap, but we meet them in an outstanding opening scene as they carpool to NASA’s Virginia site in the early 1960s. A minor problem stops the car, which is really no challenge given the mechanically minded women driving it; the ladies bide their time with jokes and easy, confident banter as they tinker with the engine. Then a police cruiser stops by, and the freeze that descends over the scene is immediate. The cop isn’t especially menacing; but these are black women and a white police officer in the Jim Crow South, and that is enough for instant watchfulness.

A terrific moment, which though defused sets the tone for what is to come. Throughout Hidden Figures the reality of being black and female is presented as a struggle that never ends.

Continue reading at Seattle Weekly

Review: Criminal

Kevin Costner in ‘Criminal’

Criminal is the kind of movie where characters have names like Jerico Stewart and Quaker Wells—big comic-book names meant to impress us with their cleverness. The story that surrounds them is as implausible as their monikers: A dying secret agent’s memory is transplanted into the brain of a hardened criminal, who is then expected to summon the lost memories and lead the authorities to a big bag of money and some dangerous nuclear codes.

Farfetched as it is, I don’t have a problem with the plot. Brain-switching and nukes? Bring it on. That’s not what makes Criminal a bad movie. What makes it bad is the flabbiness of the execution, the absence of storytelling logic, and the spectacle of gifted actors struggling to get something—anything—going.

Continue reading at Seattle Weekly

Film Review: McFarland, USA

Carlos Pratts and Kevin Costner

Disney has really carved out a genre for itself: the underdog sports story as cultural melting pot, complete with the Middle American white coach/scout/father figure whose preconceptions are overturned by scrappy kids who overcome every hurdle with heart and hard work. That guy was Jon Hamm in Million Dollar Arm and Josh Lucas in Glory Road. In McFarland, USA, also inspired by a true story, he’s a high-school football coach whose temper has landed him at an underfunded school in a largely Mexican-American town in the California desert. “Are we in Mexico?,” his daughter asks, as they drive past sad little homes of cracked stucco and sun-parched dirt yards. It gets a laugh, but makes a point: This is a Third World neighborhood within our borders. For that I give the film some credit. It gives a big-screen face to an American culture generally relegated to the margins of mainstream movies. Too bad it belabors as many stereotypes as it challenges.

Continue reading at Seattle Weekly

Film Review: Black or White

Jillian Estell and Kevin Costner

Have you noticed that Kevin Costner gives good speeches? He deftly handled his classic “I believe in …” speech in Bull Durham and his courtroom summations in JFK. He recently got a lifetime achievement award at the Critics Choice Awards, where he spoke pointedly about remembering to be grateful. His Oscar acceptance speeches for Dances with Wolves were pretty good, too.

Costner must like having writer-director Mike Binder create roles for him, because Binder likes to write speeches. Ten years ago in The Upside of Anger, Binder gave Costner a juicy part, and there’s more talk on tap in Black or White, their new collaboration. This time out, the speeches just about wreck it. Or they would, if the movie weren’t already on a wobbly track.

Continue reading at The Herald

Film Review: ‘Draft Day’

Kevin Costner and Jennifer Garner

Now that March Madness is over, that annual ritual in which everybody goes nuts about filling out a bracket with teams they don’t actually know very much about, we need another obsessive- compulsive sports-related activity to occupy our minds. That’s where the NFL draft comes in. Who can resist guessing which players we don’t actually know very much about will go to which team? (I can’t. This stuff is high drama. And if the Seahawks don’t take an offensive lineman this year, they’re crazy—you can get a wide receiver in the second round.)

However, the NFL draft is a month away. In the meantime we have Draft Day, an entire film built around the wheeling and dealing of football’s big countdown. The day dawns with Cleveland Browns general manager Sonny Weaver (Kevin Costner) being handed a stick of dynamite: The Seahawks want to trade him the No. 1 overall pick in exchange for a barrel of future picks.

Continue reading at The Herald

Liam Neeson and Kevin Costner Bring Experience to Action Cinema

Liam Neeson in ‘Non-Stop’

When did Liam Neeson, that Oscar-nominated rock of an Irish actor who starred in Schindler’s List and Michael Collins, become the toughest action hero of the day?

When actors pass 50 they generally transition into, let’s say, less physically demanding roles. You know, fathers and mentors and sturdy authority figures offering sage advice to the younger folk doing all the running around. But at age 55, Neeson took the lead in Taken as a retired special agent who cuts a violent swath through the French underworld to find his kidnapped daughter. He’s since led The A-Team, battled a pack of wolves in The Grey, and gone continental badass again in Unknown and Taken 2.

It turns out that old dogs can indeed learn new tricks and this month he’s got competition. While he takes on hijackers in a transatlantic flight in Non-Stop, a title that could just as easily describe Neeson’s reinvigorated career, Kevin Costner heads back into the field as a veteran Secret Service agent on the trail of a terrorist in 3 Days to Kill.

Continue reading at Today.com