Wesley Snipes

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)

 

 

Advertisements

Major League

Year: 1989
Directed By: David S. Ward
Written By: David S. Ward

RYAN’S REVIEW

When it comes to sports movies they are often looked at on a different level.  This movie for example isn’t really a great one but it still manages to be great in its own way.  It has an interesting story filled with interesting characters and is funny enough to stand the test of time. This movie was actually on my mind quite a bit this past fall during the 2013 NFL season.  I referenced it regularly during football conversations when the Jaguars came up saying that owner Shahid Khan was “pulling a Major League on Jacksonville.”  This appears to be wrong at this point since Jacksonville found some rhythm late in the season and managed to get some wins. There was a point during this past season though that I felt the team was so bad there had to be a driving force behind it.

For the first half of the NFL season the Jacksonville Jaguars weren’t just bad but something far and away worse than bad.  They weren’t simply beaten by other teams but murdered, losing by margins of points unaccustomed to an NFL football team.  I thought all of this was intentional and it was this movie that gave me that impression.  The team has a relatively new owner in Shahid Khan (a guy who knows how to rock a mustache) and a weak fan base within its hometown of Jacksonville.  Coupled with the Commissioner Rodger Goodell’s excessive efforts to build NFL support in London by having games played there I thought it seemed practical.  Jacksonville would finish the season so pathetic they had no fans left and their new owner could simply move the team across the Atlantic and Goodell gets the London franchise he is obviously working towards.  Now that the season is over this doesn’t seem so likely and in truth never did.  They did only muster four wins on the year but three of them were in a row and they ended up not being the worst team in the league.  The state of football in Jacksonville is still pathetic, but they showed just enough life to prove they were at least trying to win games.

I think this is a fun movie but it’s never really been one of my favorites.  I don’t particularly like baseball, although watching a movie about baseball is much more bearable than actually watching baseball.  There are fans everywhere but I just don’t get it.  The game is so slow and so little happens but in a movie about it only the action is caught on film.  I admire the people who have the patience for it and their dedication to the sport is impressive.  This movie in fact was made by one of those fans and David Ward has actually said before his motivation for making the film was simply to actually see his team win.  As a Cleveland Indians fan he spent a long time watching his team lose so he wrote a story in which they actually won despite all odds.

I think the biggest problem with this movie, a problem easily overlooked because it hardly matters in the scope of things, is the relationship between Tom Berenger and Rene Russo.  Sometimes a film just HAS to have a love story element to it and the relationship in this film just seems so forced.  It doesn’t seem to really fit into the story at all and I think it is only in there because some producer probably insisted on it. Speaking of Tom Berenger, does anybody out there know what happen to this guy? He made some great movies during the 80s but just fell off as the years started stacking up.  I thought it was really cool to see him in Inception, but the years haven’t been good to him.  I find it odd that of all the actors in this movie Charlie Sheen is the only one that has been able to maintain success twenty five years later.

Sheen may be crazy but he has made bank on that insanity.  I tend to ignore most of it because I never watched Two and a Half Men and cared little when all the drama went down.  After a while it became too odd not to follow though when it came to tiger blood and the hookers and so on. To make matters more interesting is how Sheen managed to leverage all the attention he was getting into even more money with a new show and deal from FX.  I have never been a really big fan because I don’t think he has ever been that great of an actor with few exceptions, most notably his roles under the guidance of Oliver Stone in Platoon and Wall Street.  He does pull off his role in this movie well enough though.  As Wild Thing he fit the bill given he always had notoriety as a bad boy to begin with.  One interesting tid bit is what he did in preparation for the role. Where there is Charlie Sheen there are undoubtedly drugs somewhere close by and even though it was probably completely unnecessary he has admitted to using steroids for this part.  Why he needed PEDs to simply act at playing a sport I don’t know but he did say he thought the steroids helped him take his fast ball from 80 MPH up to 85 MPH.  I suppose a movie about baseball wouldn’t be quite accurate though if steroids weren’t involved some way or another.  Thanks Charlie Sheen, you brought the whole thing full circle.

My favorite actor of this cast is without doubt Wesley Snipes.  I have always been a big fan of his and hate that things have gotten so bad for him in recent years.  His career had already taken quite a nosedive even before going to jail for tax evasion but now that he is out I hope there will be something left for him to salvage.  It didn’t take long for Stallone to help him out with a role in The Expendables 3.  If I’m not mistaken Stallone actually wanted him for the first film but had to cast Terry Crews instead when Snipes’ troubles started.  I doubt a role in the third Expendables movie will do much to get Snipes back into the limelight but it’s a start and I for one hope he gets a chance to make something happen again.  Dennis Haysbert has one of his most recognizable roles in this film playing Cerrano.  I think Haysbert is an incredible actor and specifically loved his role as David Palmer in 24He also has one of the coolest code names ever in The Unit where he is known as “Snake Doctor.” I haven’t seen The Unit since somewhere in season 2 but I thought Haysbert was great in it.  I don’t actually use Allstate insurance but I have to admit every time I get my insurance bill I hear Haysbert’s voice somewhere in the back of my head telling me I should “be in good hands,” and I briefly consider switching companies.    

I don’t think this is a great movie but I do enjoy watching it.  It’s a fun movie and sometimes that’s all that really matters.  I’m sure it is thought of much higher by actual baseball fans so if you enjoy baseball and haven’t seen this then you should check it out.  It spawned at least two more sequels that I haven’t seen but I can’t imagine there is much to another scenario where the team has to overcome being set up to lose again.  This movie qualifies as a classic I think for no other reason than it was well received and it’s about baseball.  There will always be an audience for it and I think that makes it worth your time to see it.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I have been watching this movie since I was a little girl. It’s also one of those movies you watch as a little kid and then watch it again as an adult and go oohhhhh a million times. It is a cheesy but funny movie. My family loved baseball when I was younger, mainly because we all played it, so its no surprise that my this is one of my favorite movies to watch with my brother. We can laugh at it even harder just because.

MPW-16167

This is a cheesy poster. It’s hardly review-able because it is almost a joke. This little baseball dressed as a native american and wearing sunglasses to make him “cool.” The only clever part of the design are the baseball stitches. They positioned it so it looks like he has angry eyebrows and a mean frown. It’s a WILD BALL! (See what I did there?) I tried really hard to see what was going on in the reflection of the glasses, but I couldn’t figure it out. I think its a woman and some kind of animal…small dog or cat. I don’t get it. The typography of major league isn’t that bad. A little cliche but I think it works here. A cheesy poster for a cheesy movie.

NEXT MOVIE: The Maltese Falcon (1941)

Demolition Man

Year: 1993
Directed By: Marco Brambilla
Written By: Robert Reneau and Peter M. Lenkov

RYAN’S REVIEW

It’s movies like this one that led to confusion later in life when I heard about things like due process, warrants, and SWAT teams.  It seemed so understandable as a child that the police just simply sent their most badass officer after the criminal and he arrested him.  You just drop him into bad guy headquarters via military chopper, he wears a beret to look cool, and he runs through the building killing all the bad guys single-handedly.  I also love a movie set only three years in the future with great scientific advancements such as the freezing of prisoners in ice. I still think that is a cool idea though. This movie is ridiculous in so many ways but I still think it is awesome, one of my favorite Stallone films.

I was nine years old when this movie came out, so naturally nearly everything about it appealed to me.  Lots of action and guns, an awesome bad guy that dresses like a member of the Legion of Doom, and lots of cheesy one liners.  Stallone was peaking physically and professionally when this movie came out, it was made the same year as Cliffhanger I say he was peaking professionally but he had recently made Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot! with Estelle Getty. Stallone does well as the hero in this film but I think it is Wesley Snipes who has the better role.  He looks so badass with the bleached hair and I have always liked the name Simon Phoenix.  Sandra Bullock replaced Lori Petty a few days into filming and I think we are all happy with that change.  This was before Bullock blew up, Speed was made the following year in 1994.  Beyond that the film rounds out with a great supporting cast including Denis Leary, Benjamin Bratt, Bob Gunton, and Rob Schneider.

What makes this movie so great, aside from all the action, is the vision of the future it shows us.  While we still aren’t freezing prisoners nearly 20 years later there are a few strange things that came close in the real future.  The film does mention Schwarzenegger as a politician, although he wasn’t President he did become Governor of one of the largest states. Some US Senators did actually propose amending the constitution so he could run for office at the next level (yeah, we elected these bozos). There is also a point in the film where a list of prisoners is shown, next to the name Phoenix, Simon is Peterson, Scott.  This is just coincidental but I happened to notice it when watching the movie back during the Scott Peterson trial.  The other things about the future in this film are what make it so memorable.  Listening to commercials in the place of music, I love the ballroom setting at “Taco Bell” when the piano singer is singing the Jolly Green Giant song. Stallone and Snipes are both ticketed all throughout the movie for using profanity, Stallone at one point even deliberately cussing out a machine to get paper to take to the bathroom.  I think the Seashells thing is hilarious, and the confused way Stallone looks at them.  There are plenty of interesting things going on in this film’s vision of 2032.

I’ve mentioned many times that I am a big fan of cheesy action films, specifically the ones that I watched when I was a kid.  I remember that after seeing this film I immediately began freezing my G.I. Joes in big blocks of ice in the freezer.  I actually sliced my thumb open once trying to impatiently chop one of them out of the ice. I would fill a plastic cup with water, drop my Joe of choice into the water and put it in the freezer. Once frozen I would pop the block of ice out with my Joe imprisoned inside just like in the movie. Demolition Man is a really fun movie that I encourage everyone to watch anytime it comes up.

AMBER’S REVIEW

Ryan has made me watch a ton of movies that he grew up watching with his parents and his brothers. As I have mentioned before, I wasn’t really allowed to watch many films growing up. My dad thought movies were a bad influence and besides that he didn’t really have time for movies himself. We seldom went to the video store (young readers, I know what you are thinking, but it’s true…there used to be these stores that had V-H-S tapes for these things called V-C-Rs, and you could take them home and then return them to the store, whoa, I know mind blown.) Anyway, having said that…over the years Ryan has made me watch many of these sorts of films from his childhood, including Tango & Cash and The Negotiatior. There are plenty more and I am sure that in time we will get to them.

This movie is special to me because we watched it together when we were dating. And here we are 10 years later and we still do the high-five that is in this film. If you have seen the film then you know what it looks like. I like this movie, it is cheesy to a perfect degree just like every Stallone movie is. I recommend seeing it if you haven’t before. It is no Academy Award winner, but it is fun and will provide you many good jokes about what they thought the future would be like.

NEXT MOVIE: The Departed (2006)

Blade

Year: 1998
Directed By: Stephen Norrington
Written By: David S. Goyer

RYAN’S REVIEW

This movie was made early during a popular trend in good action movies of the time.  Martial Arts, techno music, and stylish black clothing.  It’s a formula that I enjoy greatly and still do, it worked for The Matrix very well but even before then it was done here, with Blade. This movie was also made before vampires became so mainstream, before Twilight and True Blood. I think we are all a little sick of vampires these days and for good reason but they have long since had a place in our culture.  Movies like Interview With A Vampire, The Lost Boys, and this film’ just to name a few really good ones. There will never be any shortage of vampire films coming out of Hollywood.

Blade was also ahead of the game when it came to comic book films.  Blade is a character in the Marvel universe and this came out years before both Spiderman and X-Men. This movie was made in 1998, shortly after Batman & Robin had tanked the Batman franchise, it wasn’t really a good time for the genre.  This movie proved how cool comic book films could be, and while it wasn’t a financial success at first it slowly became a cult hit as time went on.

David S. Goyer wrote the script for this film so of course it is awesome, one of his many good films as far as I am concerned.  Wesley Snipes was also very enthusiastic about the part and you can see that by his portrayal of the lead character. Wesley Snipes is an utter badass in this movie, slicing and dicing with his ninja sword and drop kicking the shit out of vampires and cops alike.  Stephen Dorff is a vile and sinister foe bent on conquering the human race.  It’s one of his better performances, there was talk briefly of a Deacon Frost spin-off but it never materialized. Kris Kristofferson plays a gruff and tough side kick of sorts to Blade. The only problem I have with this movie is how forced the semi-love story is.  N’Bushe Wright is not bad at all in the movie but her relationship with Blade seems out-of-place and she has no chemistry with Snipes.

This movie is dark and cool, full of fighting, hot women, and violence. This is a rare R rated comic book film and that sets it apart from the others.  It’s more dangerous and more fun.  While I didn’t really dislike either of the sequels to this film I definitely didn’t like them.  Something wasn’t right about them, this film was better made, or maybe the other two were just too different from the one I loved.  This is a great movie and definitely worth your time.

AMBER’S REVIEW

Blade. I have seen this movie so many times because Ryan loves it so much. I can never remember that much about it except that Wesley Snipes is in it, he is half vampire and half human, and it was playing one night in high school when I visited Ryan for the first time. I don’t really like this movie, but it is more personal than anything. I know that people love it and it has become a cult classic for people. They don’t make three of them for no reason if nobody likes them. While I appreciate its value, this movie just wasn’t and isn’t my “cup of tea.”

NEXT MOVIE: Blade Runner (1982)