By: Hawk Ripjaw –
Kindness is as simple as calling Domino’s after you placed your order to warn them that there’s some shit in the driveway and to be careful to go around it in the dark of night.
Ben Wheatley, a magnificent creature of a director whose childhood hobbies probably included gaslighting his authority figures and slipping shrooms into his classmates’ lunches, appears to to be stepping off the crazy bus for at least a couple of hours with Free Fire, which, according to reports, is literally 90 minutes of Brie Larson and a bunch of angry British men shooting at each other. That’s it. No deeper themes (that we know of), no agendas, no fat. Just funny dialogue and a ton of bullets. This is a great thing, especially since Wheatley has yet to make a bad movie and each new attempt at a different subgenre continues to yield positive results.
There are many ways you could fuck this up, but I don’t expect Ben Wheatley to commit any of them.
On the pubcast, Ken asked me what Phoenix Forgotten is. I said “It’s a found-footage movie about the alien sightings in ‘97. Responding like any normal human being in 2017, Ken responded “You lost me at found footage.” That’s the current zeitgeist. It’s hard to be excited for found footage movies for most folks because they’re hard to follow and can’t evolve past the “Hey, the guy holding the camera isn’t Roger fucking Deakins” gimmick. Personally, my biggest hangup is the fact that somebody apparently stumbled across a goddamn VIDEO of this super secret urban legend what-have-you. Remember The Bay? It was kind of creepy at parts, but that was completely ruined by the whole “Hey, life is fine now but apparently this creepy thing happened a few years ago.” How is that tense? Where are the stakes? And if people got abducted, did the aliens just politely leave the video camera lying around? These aliens sound like they don’t really have their shit together.
It’s produced by Ridley Scott, but every movie that man is involved in makes him less of a worthy candidate for trailer cards. “Presented by Ridley Scott, director of Exodus: Gods and Kings and Prometheus” just doesn’t ring.
The Promise seemingly takes two freight trains. On the one train is For Greater Glory, the bombastic, bloated, and absolutely horrible period piece starring Andy Garcia. On the other train rides The Promise, with Christian Bale and Oscar Isaac at its flank, yelling “Witness me!” as the trains barrel straight towards each other. Now, I’m going to be honest, I started workshopping this joke two days ago, and then I had to deal with some bullshit at work and get some new carpet laid at the house, so in the midst of all of that I kind of lost track of where I was going. But I DO like the idea of post-apocalyptic Christian Bale and Oscar Isaac as two pals on a train. Regardless, this movie looks like it might be in the similar vein of shit as For Greater Glory, which–check it out–Oscar Isaac also starred in. On the other hand, that movie was directed by a special effects supervisor, while this is directed by the guy who made Hotel Rwanda, which is enough to shave at least one beer off of the prediction.
Bonus round, Christian Bale gets to have a weird beard again, which at this point has to be the fourth or fifth question he asks when trying to decide whether to be in a film.
Unforgettable looks like it may be continuing a trend I am very interested in, that being each year gifting us with another stupid erotic thriller. It began in full force with The Boy Next Door, a fucking classic of shlock in its own right, and continued with When the Bough Breaks, which was less erotic but still had the trappings of the subgenre with laughably stupid tension and bombastic, violent finales. Unforgettable stars Rosario Dawson with her new man, which makes said man’s old flame (Katherine Heigl) really upset. And if you’ve ever watched Grey’s Anatomy or any interview with Katherine Heigl, you know you’re about to deal with some shit when she gets mad at you. As it goes, the climax appears to feature Heigl and Dawson fighting to the death and breaking a number of very expensive set dressings in the process, which is really one of the main things I ask for in this genre.
Sadly, everything I’ve heard states that this is not the movie I’m looking for.