Brawl in Cell Block 99, review

After becoming a drug-runner, former boxer Bradley Thomas gets imprisoned in a maximum security facility to complete a violent task.

Until a few years ago, Vince Vaughan was primarly seen as a comedic actor. Starring in movies such as Wedding Crashers, Dodgeball and Old School, he made his mark on the industry by making people laugh. More recently however he’s been pushing his serious actor status after working on various projects such as Hacksaw Ridge, True Detective and now Brawl in Cell Block 99. Whilst he’s an interesting presence, the film isn’t quite the role Vaughan was probably hoping for. 

He stars as Bradley (not Brad) Thomas, a former boxer who is fired from his job at a garage. Feeling desperate to provide for his wife, he turns to drug dealer Gil to become a driver in order to make a living. When a deal goes wrong, he’s arrested and thrown into prison. During Bradley’s stint, his wife is kidnapped and he’s tasked with killing a fellow inmate in order to get her back. 

The film rests on Vaughan’s fighting skills and that is something which is worth seeing, at first. Besides his anger, he’s relatively emotionless, only breaking down once. A straight talker who tells you what he’s thinking, it seems he’s always on the lookout for trouble, even before prison. Furiously smashing a car with his bare fists, breaking bones of those who get in his way, even becoming aggressive with his own associates, it’s clear that he’s been like this for a while. It’s a heavy weight to carry and Vaughan doesn’t quite manage it. His fighting style becomes quite dull as it’s the same thing over and over again. He’s easily the best thing but when he’s up against several mishandled supporting characters such as the warden pretending to be a sheriff  (he may as well literally have said “I’m the sheriff in this town”) and a few slimey bad guys, it’s not that difficult. The prison guards were pretty funny though, you can imagine the sense of humour you need to work in a place like that.

This is a messy, brutal and fierce film looking to make Vince Vaughan into a bigger brute than he seems. It’s certainly commendable but falls flat due to it’s clunky dialogue, over the top gore and a terrible supporting cast.

2 out of 5.

Keep. It. Reel.

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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.

Walking Dead, colouring things……..and stuff

The Walking Dead TV show is a gruesome hit with all sorts of zombie fans, but now it seems they are trying to corner the kids market, and why not? Get them started young! They are releasing a brand new colouring book, it’s of The Walking Dead. Weird right?  Well it’s not that odd, Harry Potter have on, there has been a rise in adult colouring books in recent years and there is collection of celebrity faces you can add your unique touch to. They really are a thing of wonder. Plus you get to see recognisable images without the colour you’re used it. Very interesting and of course not for kids!

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The Walking Dead might be the last thing that needed more colour but it works out quite nicely when you think about it. There is still colour in this lifeless world they live in, plenty of blood and guts to add a splash of red and darker red to and you can create your own look as well.

Check out these images, frankly if I had the time and patience I’d love to try these out, they do look like so much fun. There are friends of mine who have been using these adult colouring books lately and they say that it’s a form of therapy. Apparently it’s a very well cornered bit of the market.

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Keep. It. Reel.

Django Unchained trailer

The latest film from Quentin Tarantino looks like a return to his more traditional films such as Pulp Fiction. Don’t get me wrong, I thought Inglorious Basterds was a very good film and a long worth while wait for his war flick that had been in the making for 10 years or so. But there was something un-Tarantino about it. Either way, Django, with it’s excessive violence, superb cast and brilliant soundtrack (2 songs are played in the trailer, I hope the rest are just as good) looks like another winner for the God of Violence. Watch and enjoy, it’s all we have until Christmas!