Tom Sizemore

Passenger 57

Year: 1992
Directed By: Kevin Hooks
Written By: Stewart Raffill, Dan Gordon, and David Loughery

RYAN’S REVIEW

This is one of my favorite action movies of all time and specifically my favorite of all the Die Hard scenario spin off films. I suppose that calls for explanation though, as most of the time when I mention this movie I get that befuddled look like I’m speaking a different language. I am alone in the world where this movie is indisputably awesome and I got here in the simplest of ways.

This was one of the first R-rated movies I was “allowed” to watch. The film that introduced me to both Wesley Snipes, and the word “motherfucker.” How can I not love it right? I imagine the first time I saw it some light shined around my head as I soaked in all the profanity and witty dialogue. I can’t remember specifically when it was that I saw this movie but I imagine it was sometime in the 94-96 era. This movie created a domino effect for my film watching life because after I was allowed to see one, and it was this one at that, the window had opened for so much more. It was hard to bar me seeing films like Die Hard, Terminator 2, and Braveheart when I had already stepped over such a line. The world got so brilliantly exciting and vulgar in my movie watching life that followed.

I am a big fan of Wesley Snipes, and this is my favorite of all the characters he has played. So much that I heard from him in this movie stays with me today. Phrases like “always bet on black” and “gotta go gotta go” are literally uttered by me on a regular basis. Sometimes when the opportunity presents itself I’ll look to one of my siblings and ask “what did we learn from Wesley Snipes?” The answer always being “always bet on black.” Snipes has played many great characters in the past, Simon Phoenix and Blade among his best, but John Cutter is always my favorite. For me it goes no farther than when the country sheriff asks him,” I don’t know Mr. Cutter what would you do if you were me?” To which Snipes responds in a tone of confidence and aggression, “KILL MYSELF!” Gotta love John Cutter and the jazzy music that overtones his ass kicking and smooth talk.

I am also a big fan of Tom Sizemore, on screen only. He has an unsavory and uncouth personal life that I choose to ignore because it is so disappointing. I rarely see him in a movie role that I don’t like him in and that all started in this movie. In this film he plays Sly Delvecchio, that’s D-E-L….VECCHIO, John Cutter’s best friend and comic relief for the film. His name Sly was actually a pun because Sylvester Stallone turned down the role of John Cutter when it was first offered.

Charles Rane is not insane……Charles Rane is not insane. Bruce Payne is not a star. Yet I still to this day think he was awesome as the ruthless and monotone British terrorist in this movie. Actually, Bruce Payne has a long filmography that includes over 73 credits yet this is the only one I have ever seen, or heard of for that matter. Nevertheless when you do something memorable it can live on forever and regardless how this movie is remembered it will always live on with me in some capacity as I will never forget it. I love Charles Rane as a bad guy. A man who isn’t afraid to simply jump out of a sixth floor window to get away from police, and then get up and keep running as if he is super human. I love the scene when every one on the plane is frantically buckling their seat belts and Rane simply grips the corner of a wall. He doesn’t even grip a reasonable handhold and he doesn’t have to because this man is fearless, and impossible to be injured by something as simple as the lack of a seat belt.  Rane is a bad guy who will shoot his own man rather than have him used as leverage against him. He is calm, cool, in command, and utterly relentless in his desire to create pointless havoc. He also turns out to be quite the quiet badass when it comes to throwing punches with the karate savvy John Cutter. Rane is only dispatched after a furious number of kicks to the balls as he holds on with seaming ease to an open door frame on a flying jet. This no name villain/actor from a no name film sets the bar high for bad guys and that as much as all the other reasons is why this movie is one of my favorites.

It’s worth noting that this was one of the first film appearances by Elizabeth Hurley. Who does little more than carry a really large gun and look really hot. She is so young in this movie it took me a while to realize it was actually her. When I saw the movie for the first time I didn’t know who she was and when she blew up in the later 90s I felt like she looked altogether different than she did in this film.

I love this movie and I have so much fun every time I watch it. Despite how ridiculous the Die Hard scenario is on an airplane there have been so many made. Off the top of my head I can think of two other films just like this one although they both suck in comparison. Air Force One featured Harrison Ford as President John McClane and Executive Decision gave us an awesome surprise early death for Steven Seagal but made Kurt Russell an unlikely John McClane in the same scenario. It’s so silly to have this Die Hard scenario play out on an airplane anyway. Where there are so few places to hide and a very real danger should a gun actually be fired while in flight. Despite all this it keeps happening, i.e. Air “Taken” that came out recently with Liam Neeson as that guy with a “specific set of skills.” I didn’t see that one and won’t because the whole thing is so stupid. These movies are for amateur film watchers who watch movies to turn their brains off and see lazy story telling.

This movie is only endeared to me because it was in my youth that I fell in love with it. I think Wesley Snipes is both funny and badass as John Cutter. No matter what role Snipes has ever played he has brought his own swagger to the role. I have always felt that one of the most important parts for any character in film whether good or bad is the cool factor. People can say whatever they want about Wesley Snipes but the man has cool factor and nobody can take it away from him. Snipes brings his coolness to this movie with John Cutter and by extension the movie is cooler. While this movie is nothing original I do think it has more merit for being made before the countless others that have more or less the same premise. The John Cutter fan inside of me wants you to see this movie. Is it worth your time? The question would have to be is any action movie like this worth your time? Well there is a time and place for everything and if you find yourself with an opportunity to see this movie I think your time will be well spent.

NEXT MOVIE: Patton (1970)

 

 

Natural Born Killers

Year: 1994
Directed By: Oliver Stone
Written By: Oliver Stone, the original screenplay that was picked up off the bottom of a pile of rejections was by Quentin Tarantino

RYAN’S REVIEW

It gives the wrong impression, it’s not something I generally admit to people openly, but this is my favorite movie of all time.  Since the very first time I saw it I was in love with it. It is unlike any movie I have ever seen and I think it is indisputably a work of art, despite its content.

As to the content of this movie. This isn’t violence it’s anger, pure unadulterated anger.  Anger at a world that isn’t right.  Anger that manifests itself in a violent response.  Mickey and Mallory are the response to what this world was in 1994 and still is.  It is a violent and evil world; there is no innocence, even among the good.  Everything is mainstream and we all do as we are told.  Mickey and Mallory came from the worse elements of this world and what they turned into was simply reactionary. The response from the world depicted  by the public in this film isn’t off base either, that’s the sad reality of the whole thing.

I don’t think this is a movie that should be watched by a younger audience and I don’t think it’s wise for unsettled people to watch it under the influence of hallucinogenic drugs.  Both of which have caused unfortunate problems in the past and the consequences were grave.  It is an awful thing when people watch a film and do something crazy afterwards. I like it even less when the film is blamed because the actions that follow are on the heads of the perpetrator and not film.  Those people were and are crazy.  If it isn’t the film or song they were listening to that triggered them then it would have been something else.

I myself watched this movie at too young of an age in truth. I was 15 or 16 the first time I picked it up off the shelf at the video store I worked at.  I specifically remembered that my step-father had watched it with my older brother and found it repulsive; saying that the rest of us were never to see it.  More than anything it was the look on his face I remember, and the tone in his voice. Something about this movie made it different. We were forbidden from in it a way that somehow surpassed other such declarations. It was years later when I broke the rules and tasted this forbidden fruit alone in my room.  I can say honestly that it had me from the opening scene and instantly became my favorite movie of all time. It claimed the spot early and has never been toppled.

I have also, as a matter of fact, watched this movie under the influence of hallucinogenic drugs and I’m not afraid to admit that.  I was in college; a time long long ago in a town far far away.  Oliver Stone was under the influence of mushrooms at times before and probably during the filming of this movie.  The influence of psychedelics is obvious even to someone who has never experienced them. The scene when Mickey and Mallory eat mushrooms and get followed by a cop was actually based on something that happened to Stone and someone else while they were scouting locations.  Seeing this movie on mushrooms was like watching a different film and I have thought since that the movie was made to be seen like that.  Obviously it is not something I recommend to people and it’s not an experience I expect to have again as times are different now and youthful experimenting is a thing of the past.

I think this movie gets a bad rap, but it earned that in spades.  The content of this movie is harsh and it’s not for everyone.  I have just always seen through all of the violence and loved what is beneath.  Underneath it all is a relationship that I have always found inspiring.  Mickey and Mallory are two people completely in love and hopelessly dedicated to one another.  Their actions are fiendish and awful, but the connection they share is a beautiful thing.  When I was in high school I would tell people about this and tell them to look at the love story that was underneath it all.  I love their marriage over the river when they bond their blood and send it into the river.  I also love when they finally reunite in prison during the riot, great scene.  I don’t care for the implied rape of the hostage, and the very real allusion to it in the uncut version of the film.  These are really bad people, and these are the kind of things those types of people do.  I don’t condone any of the actions Mickey and Mallory take in the film. I love the characters but in no way think that anything about them is alright. It’s just a movie though, and rooting for bad guys is always a guilty pleasure. These bad guys happen to share a love that I admire and it is the love that gets me with this movie.  There is plenty to love and appreciate about this movie but for me it’s all about Mickey and Mallory.  They have a love for one another that is special.  Sure they are crazy, but they are crazy for each other in a touching way.

At the top of this review I credit Oliver Stone with the writing of this film and I want to explain why.  When Quentin Tarantino was trying to get started he sold two screenplays to earn enough money to get Reservoir Dogs started.  Those screenplays were True Romance and Natural Born Killers.  Both of which turned out to be good films. Good films both of which were about a couple that go on a wild cross country crime spree and kill a lot of people. Yeah the stories are different, but only by variation. Quentin Tarantino has loudly criticized this movie in the past because so much of what he intended was changed, and because…you know, his giant over bloated ego was wounded.  Tarantino is brilliant, but when he starts talking he rarely comes across as anything but an arrogant douche bag. Oliver Stone is an incredible writer in his own rite.  He picked up this screenplay off the bottom of a pile of rejected scripts and redid it in his own way. With all due respect to Tarantino, he is a great filmmaker, but he isn’t even half the talent that Oliver Stone was in his heyday.  I’ll be the first to admit things are dramatically different now and the exact opposite today but in his day Stone was hands down incredible.  He made some outstanding movies that, despite their content or political agenda, were works of art and most of them are absolutely unique in their own way.  This movie for example, is unlike any you will ever see.  If you can look past the surface and see it for what it really is you will see that this is more than a film.  It is the product of an artist who was in his element, with a camera as his brush and an editing room as his studio.

During his heyday Oliver Stone was the type of director that a lot of grade-A talent wanted to work with.  You only need to look over the casts of his films from the 80s and 90s to see that.  This movie was no different and the cast it offers is an outstanding one.  It starts with the lead roles of Mickey and Mallory.  Woody Harrelson is not only an interesting person personally but he is the kind of acting talent that it is hard to not like.  He has seemed to only get better with age and this day in age he is just so flawlessly cool.  He is excellent as Mickey Knox. Mickey is uneducated and ignorant but sly and cunning despite that.  He is vicious in the ways that only a man of lifelong repression can be yet he wins you over with that charming quality that can only be embodied by Woody Harrelson.  Harrelson has the benefit in this film of having an outstanding counterpart in Juliette Lewis. To cast Mallory Knox they had to find someone who could be sexy yet batshit crazy at the drop of a hat.  They couldn’t have chosen better.  Nobody pulls off batshit crazy like Juliette Lewis. She is such a badass, she actually broke Tom Sizemore’s nose while filming their scene in her prison cell. I don’t know what has happened to her lately as she only appears in the most random of films these days and always as a cameo.  She doesn’t capture the big roles anymore and I don’t know why because I have always thought she was an outstanding actress.  Like Harrelson she also has a really interesting back story personally.

Tom Sizemore brings his own element of crazy to this film.  I have always been a big fan of Sizemore but his personal life has loudly been problematic.  He has had significant struggles with drugs as well as anger issues that have led to problems for him before.  I do not condone his personal actions but I have always liked him in the supporting roles he is famous for.  In this movie he fits the part like no one else could have and I think he is really good as Jack Scagnetti.  The name of his character specifically is part of this movie that shows its roots from Tarantino.  Scagnetti is a name Tarantino has used before.  In Reservoir Dogs Mr. Blonde mentions his parole officer is named Scagnetti.

This was one of the last significant acting roles Rodney Dangerfield had as his career came to a close.  That is unfortunate as it was a very unsavory role but like Sizemore he just fit the part so well.  I was never a fan of Dangerfield’s loud style but in this movie he did something dramatic and different.  He plays a sick and depraved man. The type that makes you feel sorry for the daughter that grows up to be a psychotic killer. This was Rodney Dangerfield’s first and only performance in a dramatic film and I think he did an excellent job. Despite the role he plays in this movie Dangerfield deserves the respect and recognition of comedy fans.  He was a one of kind comedian who helped pave the way for those who would follow him.

Rounding out the big names in the cast is none other than Oliver Stone’s good friend Tommy Lee Jones who he shares a birthday with.  Jones is a bit over the top in this film but he did so on purpose.  As a Harvard graduate Jones is a highly intelligent actor who in fact was never schooled in his trade.  Jones never took an acting class but that has never inhibited him.  He has had a long and distinguished career as an actor that he continues to build on.  Jones was hot during the time this movie came out having hit it big winning an Oscar for The Fugitive the year before. This role is a much different part and that only highlights his talent as an actor.  He became a beloved actor playing straight laced types like we saw in The Fugitive or The Client but in this movie he is much more uncouth and heinous. It’s not my favorite role from Jones by any means but I still like what he brings to the table as McClusky.

This movie makes a statement about society, the media, human nature, and American culture in the mid nineties.  I think by and large it is misunderstood, but with good reason.  There is a lot more to this movie than meets the eye at first approach.  If you don’t see anything but the worst in it then you are missing out on what makes it the best.  I love this movie and I have never been afraid to admit it.  I have never been one to broadcast it because it sets the wrong impression but I will gladly mention this movie every time the question of favorites comes up.  This movie is my favorite because it is different, because it is bold, and because it says something about the world.

I don’t generally recommend this movie to people, because it isn’t for everyone and I fear too many just won’t understand.  I don’t argue about it either, the content is too controversial and strong opinions come with it.  A movie like this comes with certain preconceived notions and assumptions that can give people the wrong idea about a fan.  People will think what they think but anybody who doesn’t look deeper into this one is missing out.  It has been my favorite movie of all time since the first time I saw it and I love it just as much every time I see it again.  Watch this one at your own risk, it is what it is and not to be taken for granted.  It’s not like other films but that it part of what makes it special.

 

AMBER’S REVIEW

Ryan made me watch this when we were in college. I wasn’t allowed to see anything like this growing up. I didn’t know a movie like this even existed until Ryan showed it to me. I have seen it many times now over the years, but even today it sucks me in and intrigues me. The story is incredibly different than anything else I had ever seen, and still today is a great take on the media. It’s even worse today than when this movie was made. Imagine this movie set in today’s world, with social media the way it is today. It was ahead of its time, not even knowing what the monster social media would become.

Natural Born Killers PosterThis poster is cool. I don’t think it does the film justice, but for its time in history, I think it’s pretty cool. The image is set in all black and white, with the exception of his glasses, which also have the reflection of Mallory. There could be so many connections drawn here about the color and the image of Mallory, but I feel it’s all too cliché now, and probably wouldn’t work today. I just don’t feel like this poster is memorable or as special as the movie is. It really gives no allusion to what the movie is at all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NEXT MOVIE: Night of the Living Dead (1968)

 

 

 

Heat

Year: 1995
Directed By: Michael Mann
Written By: Michael Mann

RYAN’S REVIEW

When Christopher Nolan made The Dark Knight this was the movie he turned to for inspiration, the bank robbery scenes anyway.  That was a big part of why The Dark Knight was so awesome and it says something about how awesome this movie is in its own right.  Movies about cops and robbers are always popular and this is one of the best ever made regarding the two.  It was made by a great filmmaker, it had an outstanding cast, and it doesn’t fail to deliver on the action.

In 1972 Al Pacino and Robert De Niro were both part of the same movie, The Godfather: Part IIAlthough they played characters living in completely different time periods and never shared any screen time together.  For the next 23 years both of their careers ballooned and they were the go to guys for mobster parts.  Yet in all that time they both made many mobster movies but never collaborated.  After all that time it became a really big deal that they were in this movie together and their first collaboration did not disappoint.  In fact I happen to think the scene in which they meet for the first time is one of the coolest I have ever seen.  There is so much build up, the music is just right, and then they are finally face to face and everything seems so natural and perfect.  I happen to think they did really well working together but they are both grade A professionals when it comes to acting and know how to do their jobs. This movie was almost twenty years ago now and these two men have continued their careers throughout that time.  Not with quite so much success mind you but they still wield a certain level of power in their industry.

I read that this was a movie Michael Mann spent over ten years trying to get made.  When you put that much time into something you really have to make sure you have the right people and I don’t know that a finer cast was ever put together.  The good guys and the bad guys alike could not have been better cast in any part.  I really like Mykelti Williamson and Wes Studi as Al Pacino’s main guys on his side.  Ted Levine has always creeped the hell out of me but he manages to play a convincing good guy in this one.  Val Kilmer plays one of his best roles in this movie. He is a total badass as De Niro’s right hand man. When you are casting bad guys I don’t know that you could have done much better in 1995 than Tom Sizemore and Danny Trejo.  Sizemore is one of the most intimidating guys ever.  He has an absolute look of insanity in his eyes; he fits into this movie nicely. There is one scene where a guy takes notice of the crew and Sizemore just stares him down and the guy quickly looks away. Sizemore wasn’t who the witness wanted having a good look at him.  I am a big fan of Danny Trejo; I have really enjoyed his rise to fame in recent years.  Jon Voight, Dennis Haysbert, and William Fichter are all great as well and bring a lot to the film.  There is a really young Natalie Portman here proving that she was always an exceptional actor.  Ashley Judd is smoking hot in this one and that served her well during the late 90s. I do not like the part that Hank Azaria played in this one but I am a big fan of his and love how often he pops up in different types of movies. He shot his scenes for this movie during his days off while filming The Birdcage, one of the funniest movies I have ever seen.

In preparation for this movie Michael Mann did a lot of research.  The story is somewhat loosely based on a real relationship between a high profile cop and criminal that took place in the 70s.  I don’t know much about the real story but it was one that Mann was always personally interested in.  When prepping his actors for their roles he actually arranged for the good guy actors to have dinner and interact with real police officers and also had the bad guy actors meet with real life criminals. This kind of preparation went a long way as we can clearly see by the performances of the actors.

This was a really awesome movie that I always enjoy.  It’s a long movie and has slow points here and there but the action makes up for any boredom that might be incurred. I would recommend this movie to anybody and it is definitely worth your time to see it.

AMBER’S REVIEW

Ryan makes me watch this movie all the time. Well, not really…but since it is so freaking long it feels like forever every time we watch it. It’s a great movie with a good storyline and amazing actors. It takes forever to finally get there, but it can be worth it to sit through the movie. If you like movies like this, go for it.

NEXT MOVIE: Heist (2001)

Enemy of the State

Year: 1998
Directed By: Tony Scott
Written By: David Marconi

RYAN’S REVIEW

This movie came out during my first year in high school. What’s funny is that by the time I graduated four years later it had all but become a reality. The Patriot Act had been passed and the government had the capabilities that are portrayed as too dangerous in this film. This movie was made right before our society changed so drastically.  This was made during a time when the internet was still young, cell phones were young, and the biggest problem the nation faced was the fact that the President was getting blow jobs on the side. The world was so different then and you can see that in this film.  They use strange devices like video cassettes, pagers, and VCRs.  I always enjoy movies like this that remind me of when the world was different, in a way that many of the younger generations will never understand.

The government agencies portrayed in this film are totally fictional but they still bear a representation of what certain agencies became after 9/11.  Some of the technologies used in this film have become big time players in the new society we live in such as facial recognition technology and satellite surveillance.  This movie made for a frightening scenario in 1998 but the realities of it in today’s world aren’t that severe. It doesn’t affect the day to day lives of normal people and most of what we see in this movie is just Hollywood stuff.  One interesting thing I just noticed in the movie is that Jon Voight’s character was born on 9/11/40.  Strange coincidences like that often pop up in films, as I mentioned in our Demolition Man review.

I have never been a fan of Ridley Scott‘s little brother, Tony Scott.  He is the weaker director of the two brothers and I have never liked his coloring technique or his choppy way of piecing sequences together.  I’ll admit that he has made several decent movies though and I have liked many of them, such as this one. Will Smith is, and always has been, one of the coolest guys in the business.  I haven’t always been his biggest fan but I can’t deny his talent.  He had swagger long before it became the thing people talked about.   In this film he plays the part well and I have always remembered it as one of his better movies.  It’s one that I bring up if I need to give someone an example of how good he really is.  Gene Hackman fit his part well and this was another great addition to a long and distinguished career from Hackman.  Jon Voight also naturally fits the role that he plays in this film. Tom Sizemore is another one perfectly cast in his part as a criminal with a big time shoot out ending. The casting department just hit a home run all around by putting together a great supporting cast featuring Seth Green, Jack Black, Barry Pepper, Jamie Kennedy, Gabriel Byrne, Regina King, Jason Lee, Lisa Bonet, and the sons of James Caan and Gary Busey.

This movie is a non-stop thrill ride that really keeps the excitement coming.  It has a great cast, a good story, a lot of action, and a very climactic ending.  I have written many times about how much action films meant in my household growing up. This one was held in high regard all around, and still is by me today.  This movie runs a bit long at two hours and twelve minutes but it is definitely worth that time to see it.

AMBER’S REVIEW

Every time we review a Will Smith movie, I am going to link this video. Watch it.
Jay as Will Smith
For some reason, I got really sucked into this movie last night. We did have a babysitter, so maybe that had something to do with it, but I really found the movie to be really entertaining. I have seen it before, but it had been a really long time, so it was fun to follow along and trying to remember what happens and how. This movie is a fun ride, and Will Smith is always a fun guy to watch. I don’t think that he cries in this movie. Maybe he does, but Ryan has this running joke about how Will Smith cries in every movie he is in. He can make a tear appear at the drop of a hat.

I really like this movie. If you haven’t seen it, it is worth watching. It will keep you entertained and wondering if the government is really like that. Listening to everyone’s conversations. It’s all a little creepy if you ask me.

NEXT MOVIE: Enter the Dragon (1973)