Drive Angry 3D
Once again Nicolas Cage stars in a thoroughly ridiculous movie. The saving grace of Drive Angry 3D by Patrick Lussier, the maker of My Bloody Valentine 3D, is that it is intended to be ridiculous. Cage plays Milton, a muscle car fanatic who has broken out of Hell to take vengeance on a cult leader who killed his daughter. Hot on Milton’s trail is a demonic “Accountant” (William Fichtner), who wants to make sure he doesn’t get the satisfaction of vengeance. There are lots of guns, cars, explosions and things that fly out of the screen at your face, and the director has his tongue so far in his cheek you fear he might choke.
Built on the same model as Taken (2008), and following a series of less than edifying performances in the likes of The Chronicles of Narnia, Clash of the Titans and The A-Team, Liam Neeson continues to damage his credibility with Unknown, a by-the-numbers big-budget thriller that boasts commendable production values. Unfortunately, the numbers don’t really add up. Gaping plot holes and the lack of any real spark in the performances make this a drab exercise in formulaic filmmaking that might just as well be enjoyed on DVD.
A big cast in a small but interesting movie that seems to have been largely relegated to a straight-to-DVD release. Michael Sheen plays Steven Arthur Younger, a terrorist who has planted three nuclear bombs. He has been captured and is under interrogation, black-ops interrogator H, played by Samuel L. Jackson, is prepared to do the unthinkable to break him, but Carrie-Anne Moss’ Agent Brody will not stand by while unconstitutional methods of interrogation are used. Needless to say, Younger has his own agenda. A countdown to Armageddon, torture porn and an exploration of the morality of counter-terrorism methods give this picture a broad base of appeal.
James Cameron has lent this Australian adventure thriller his imprimatur with an executive producer credit, and while the whiz-bang effects (in this case some impressive underwater photography and CGI, but rather lackluster 3D) are in evidence, the assurance, energy and inventiveness that made Titanic and Avatar such successful films (regardless of whether we liked them or not) are totally lacking. The dialogue is stilted and often ridiculous, the story never makes much sense, and we don’t really care if the characters live or die. The film does have some well-filmed action sequences, but putting up with the ‘Crocodile’ Dundee accents is a high price to pay for these exciting visuals.
A Barefoot Dream (Maen-bal-eui ggoom)
The South Korean nomination for best foreign film at the Oscars, A Barefoot Dream tells the story of an ex-soccer pro who has fallen on hard times, sets up a get rich quick scheme in East Timor, becomes involved in the lives of local kids, takes the rag-tag bunch in hand as a coach, and shapes them into a team that has a chance to play in the International Youth Soccer Championship in Japan. Although this underdog sports movie is predictable from start to finish, solid acting and a decent script, along with the unusual East Timor setting, lift A Barefoot Dream above the common run of such inspirational fare. Based on actual events, though with a big dose of sentiment that ends with an inevitable slow-motion penalty shoot-out.