Bushwick, review

Dave Bautista gives a brutal and emotional performance, packing several punches throughout this sub-par thought provoking film about a modern day civil war taking place in the New York suburb of Bushwick.

We are introduced to the town via an overhead shot through helicopters patrolling the air above, it’s an almost calming influence before being thrown head first into the chaos below. Lucy (Brittany Snow) arrives at the ordinarily quiet town and becomes caught up in the gunfire, explosions and fires. Running away from the violence, still confused she encounters two men who briefly trap her before Stoop (Bautista) rescues her with a brutal attack. Still in shock, Lucy is full of questions, however neither knows what is really going on.

The pair team up, desperately trying to get somewhere safe, encountering people in similar situations as well as having to fight against the militia several times over. During these scenes, the camera rarely stops moving, whether it’s following characters up some stairs, through a doorway, on a bike. It’s an almost seemingly continuous shot, with two cuts, separating the film into a three act structure. It’s a technique which works out well as it is consistently introducing new characters and problems to solve.

There are continuity errors, as well as low levels of attention to detail and it’s lack of knowing where it wants to go at times. This can be said of the characters too who, at one point, make their way up to the roof of a school just to head back down almost immediately. A couple of times, when a character is supposed to have died, you could very clearly see them breathing and, at one point, blink. It’s errors like these, as well a miscast Angelic Zambrana as Lucy’s sister, which is where the film doesn’t quite live up to its brilliant start.

The film certainly knows what it is, a messy no holds barred brutal action film, with its heart firmly at the centre. It’s superb central performances, incredible camera work and the use of sound (gunfights and explosions often happen to the side but are equally violent as those you see in front of you) can all be credited to the directors Cary Murnion and Jonathan Milott who have done an amazing job one the action with a small budget. However, whilst it’s certainly an enjoyable watch, it isn’t a memorable one.

3 out of 5.

Keep. It. Reel.

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John Wick: Chapter 2, review

When John Wick came out in 2015, it was received with shock. Mostly because no one thought that this generic looking action film would be any good, let alone Keanu would be so badass at 50. However it was met with praise from both critics and fans due to it’s hardcore fight scenes and the stunningly well-choreographed gun battles. The fast paced shooting made for not only entertaining viewing but also showed how slick and smooth an action film can look. It subverted the genre and showed that yes, Keanu CAN act. Well, after the surprise success he is of course back for a sequel in John Wick: Chapter 2.

The film opens almost around the time that the first one ends with a high octane chase involving John Wick in a car going after a man on a motorbike, culminating in a crash. From here until he drives away, it’s business as usual. Using his own car, he goes on an all out attack as he runs over, crashes into and beats his assailants whilst barely leaving the vehicle. Arriving at his home we see what he really wanted; he pulls out a greeting card and photo of his dead wife.

For almost an hour after, most of what we see is set up. John has a marker which he must honour as per the rules of the safe house hotel known as The Continental. Wanting to retire for good, he refuses, however after being attacked at home, he takes on his obligatory and hopefully last job. John travels to Rome to execute his target and thus begins his career as a killer once more. The overly long set up once he arrives at his destination feels baggy and boring after being handed such a stunning and brutal opening. Picking his perfect set of weapons as well as having a couple of suits made feels very James Bond and at times also reminds you of Kingsman. But it’s neither of these films after that.

Keanu isn’t quite as good as he is in the first one, his take on one of his most notable roles second time round seems slightly forced. He’s good with a gun but not much else. His conversations with Winston, and pretty much everyone in Chapter 2, makes it look as if Keanu doesn’t want to be there. Whilst Ian McShane is as cool as ever and carries each scene he’s in with his laid back no nonsense demeanour, the pair just aren’t as playful this time around.

Some fans will be excited for the Matrix reunion but even that’s not particularly interesting. John visits Bowery King, played by the slightly hammy Lawrence Fishburne, whose help he needs. But after revealing a scar created by a bullet shot by John years earlier, why would he help him? In exchange for something he’s offered in return? What is it? We never find out. Perhaps something that’s being saved for the sequel but it’s one of several plot points which is unforgivably overlooked. The addition of the wonderful Ruby Rose should have been a stroke of genius had she been able to speak. She communicates through sign language although it’s never apparent that she’s deaf. Essentially she’s boiled down to a pretty face in a suit with a gun.

Directed by Chad Stahelski, the visionary behind the first film, he seems to have forgotten that the best parts of John Wick consisted of Keanu slickly shooting people. Whilst there’s plenty of that there (I won’t tell you how many people he kills in Chapter 2 but, wow!) there are far too many slow paced sequences which adds to the overlong running time. Setting up a film like this shouldn’t take this long and Stahelski knows that. The rule of a sequel is always to go bigger, and it did. Unfortunately.

Altogether John Wick Chapter 2 is nothing like it’s predecessor. It’s heavier, longer and at times just plain boring. With another sequel in the works also to be directed by Stahelski, it’s yet another film turned into an unnecessary trilogy.

3 out of 5.

Keep. It. Reel.

News from Comic Con: The superheroes are still coming.

Comic Con news just in: new Marvel Comic films are on the way, including second installments of Captain America and Thor, both of which have foregone the usual numbers and opted for full titles. Captain America: The Winter Soldier will be with us on 4th April 2014, whilst Thor: The Dark World will be out on 8th November 2013. The rest include Ironman 3 which is out on 26th April 2013, Guardians of the Galaxy will be released on 1st August 2014 and Ant-Man does not currently have an official date as of yet.

So lots on the way for comic book fans, we’ll see if they can live up to the hype, especially Ant-Man which has had some footage shown at Comic Con. It starts with two agents at the end of a long white corridor, from which we pull back behind an air vent to reveal Ant-Man. Tiny, red and black suit, a mask. Simple. He jumps through the vent, runs along t he corridor and zaps into a normal size. The agents draw their guns. Ant-Man changes back into his small self and leaps into the mouth of one of the agents and knocks him out. He then grabs the tie of the other, flips him through the window and changes back to normal size. He enters an elevator and shrinks back down again.

We’ll see what this holds and how the others do against the magnitude of comic book films that are also in production right now, which includes two more Garfield Spidermans, Man of Steel with Christopher Nolan’s creative input as producer and more from The Avengers. It’s going to be a fun geek-filled few years.

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