Posted in: Blu-ray, by Sean Axmaker, Contributors, DVD, Film Reviews

Videophiled: ‘Run All Night’ with Liam Neeson

RunAllNightLiam Neeson is back in action in the gritty crime thriller Run All Night (Warner, Blu-ray, DVD, VOD), his third and most satisfying collaboration with filmmaker Jaume Collet-Serra (Unknown, Non-Stop). Neeson once again has a very specific skill set—his nickname isn’t Jimmy the Gravedigger for nothing—but he’s been pickling it in booze for years to drown the guilt of his mob assassinations for Irish crime boss Ed Harris. Then Jimmy’s estranged son Mike (Joel Kinnaman), a former boxer turned limo driver, lands in serious trouble when his job takes him to the wrong place at the wrong time where he witnesses a gangland murder. Jimmy sobers up quickly and takes on his former boss and best friend—not to mention the bad cops in his pocket—to do protect his boy.

In the world of high-concept crime thrillers, this is surprisingly down to earth. There’s no superheroics or spectacular Die Hard-style stunts here. It’s all handguns and car chases and blood and broken glass on the urban mean streets at night, and Collet-Serra creates a very turbulent, unstable ordeal. Things move fast and the violence comes abruptly, and the atmosphere is tense and jittery. It lives up to the title. But Collet-Serra also grounds it in actual relationships—a son who has no respect for a drop-out father, a mobster who respects his alcoholic best friend more than his reckless son, who would rather play gangsta than understand the balance of power and diplomacy in the criminal underworld, and two fathers who will do anything for their sons despite the past.

It’s reminiscent of seventies crime picture, with corrupt cops and criminal codes and a new generation of thug that has no respect for the old ways. If it never becomes anything more than a great paperback crime yarn built on coincidence, bad luck, and blood ties, it does the genre proud. Vincent D’Onofrio brings a weary gravitas to an old-school police detective whose sense of justice outweighs his desire to put Jimmy down and Common is enigmatic as a hired gun with his own specific skill set.

On Blu-ray and DVD with two featurettes and deleted scenes. Also on Cable On Demand, Amazon Instant, Vudu, Xbox, and CinemaNow.

More new releases on disc and digital formats at Cinemaphiled

Posted in: Blu-ray, by Sean Axmaker, Contributors, DVD, Film Reviews, Science Fiction

Videophiled: New Model ‘RoboCop’

RoboCop14RoboCop (Fox, Blu-ray, DVD, Digital HD, On Demand) – We gripe about remakes all the time, but when you approach something with the status of the original 1987 RoboCop, Paul Verhoeven’s perversely violent, savagely smart, and wickedly funny science fiction action blast laced with political and social satire, it gets personal for a lot of folks. And for good reason. Twenty five years later, it seems more prescient than ever, which puts the onus on the new film to justify itself: just what does it have to say about a world where unmanned military drones are being drafted into stateside police work?

Brazilian director José Padilha, who delivered both gritty, high-tension action and a savvy social drama in Elite Squad, takes on this remake, and Swedish-born / Texas-tutored Joel Kinnaman is Detroit cop and family man Alex Murphy, rebuilt with military robotics as an urban assault weapon after he’s mortally wounded in an ambush.

This is certainly much slicker than the original, with military robots that look like the Cylons of the “Battlestar Galactica” reboot and mayhem galore, but it’s also much tamer in terms of both violence and satire. Where the original found an insidious handshake between corporate profits and planned obsolescence and design flaws designed to keep contracts full and a cut of the drug and flesh trade around construction projects, this is just about greed on small and large scales, with OmniCorp, the insidious contractor hoping to sell the dubious American public on a mechanical police force, as the big-time crooks. Michael Keaton is despicably good as the instinctively disingenuous CEO and Gary Oldman, Abbie Cornish, and Samuel L. Jackson co-star.

The battle between the human spirit and an operating system offering “the illusion of free will,” a metaphor rife with possibility but lacking conviction, for a film that turns on the struggle between man and machine, this film has less personality than Verhoeven’s. The film ultimately favors soggy sentiment over the cleverness of the original: emotion overrides the system here, rather than taking on the fatal logic of the system itself in the darkly witty twist of the original. The human factor is the wild card. I just wish it was actually more wild and less predictable.

One question that really bothers me in all these future films: how have they managed to create entirely self-contained robot soldiers yet never found a way to make silent servo motors? Every movement comes with the whir and buzz of working parts just to remind us that it’s not just a suit, it’s technology, baby!

The Blu-ray offers the three-part featurette ” Robocop: Engineered for the 21st Century,” an OmniCorp product announcement and deleted scenes, plus a bonus DVD and UltraViolet Digital HD copy. No supplements on the DVD.

More new releases on disc and digital at Cinephiled

Posted in: by Sean Axmaker, Contributors, Film Reviews, Science Fiction

‘RoboCop’: The Bionic Lawman Lacks Much Personality

Joel Kinnaman’s cop meets his creator (Gary Oldman)

The 1987 RoboCop was a perversely violent, savagely smart, and wickedly funny science-fiction action blast, laced with political and social satire. Twenty-five years later, it seems more prescient than ever, which puts the onus on this new RoboCop to justify itself: Just what does it have to say about a world where unmanned military drones are being drafted into stateside police work?

Give the film’s producers credit for drafting José Padilha, a Brazilian director who delivered both gritty, high-tension action and savvy social drama in Elite Squad. You get an idea where this movie might’ve gone in its unsettling prologue, as an American robot force patrols the streets of Tehran circa 2028.

Continue reading at Seattle Weekly

Posted in: by Kathleen Murphy, Contributors, Film Reviews

‘Easy Money’ Pays Off

From the start, you can see why Martin Scorsese championed Easy Money (Snabba Cash, from the 2006 best-selling novel by Jens Lapidus). This Swedish gangster flick blasts out from under you like a high-octane muscle car, swerving through prison breakout to thug violence in a john to rich kids at play in an upscale club. Connections are yet to be made, but that red-line narrative momentum has already propelled us into a toxic world of crime and punishment, haves and have-nots.

Lisa Henni and Joel Kinnaman

Like Scorsese, Easy Money helmer Daniel Espinosa believes “gangster films should always be moral stories,” and this good-looking, tautly told, ultra-smart crime story imbeds big issues in riveting action. Everything’s in a state of metastasizing decay, from national borders to economies to familial bonds to individual identity. It’s a picture of an Old World coming apart, with not much of a New Order in sight. But Espinosa isn’t preaching; he keeps his ideas animated, on the move, in the hotwired lives of colorful native sons and nomads: Swedes, Arabs, Serbians, Russians, Armenians, Chileans, et al.

Our ride through these twisty byways is JW (Joel Kinnaman), a good-looking business major who lives in claustrophobic student housing and drives a cab to pay his bills. His kip is plastered with pictures of male models, for our man JW is nothing if not a chameleon, changing style (and even dialect, though we English speakers won’t catch that) to suit whatever class or ethnicity he’s hanging with.

Continue reading at MSN Movies