Looper is another time-shift film that is purposefully hard to follow and is probably the product of Rian Johnson’s presumed hours of misspent youth thinking about time travel and all the possible inconsistencies that make it, indeed, an impossibility. In this case the setup is a touch of Terminator….in search of a young boy (think John Connor) to….terminate…in order to eliminate a terrible tyrant of the future (a bad guy rather than a machine killer). The other setup is about future versions of assassins coming back to face their inner assassin. If it sounds a bit same old same old….it is it is.
What is it with Hollywood heavyweights? I guess it’s the same as with Hedge Fund heavyweights…stay with the arbitrage that everyone knows and likes rather than take a chance on something new and potentially really productive. To pad the trade and try to lock in success, bring in some big name talent. In this case, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt, Paul Dano and Jeff Daniels. This is the Inception of The Adjustment Bureau as we Matrix our way to The Time Traveller’s Wife.
The point is, I found this all simultaneously confusing and boring. That’s actually hard to do all at once with great stars to boot, but this film manages it.
The Expendables 2 is another Stallone-written action film, except unlike the original, directed by Sly himself, this one is directed by Simon West and something gets lost in translation. Don’t get me wrong, seeing every action star you can think of in one place is fun, but that’s simply not enough these days. Take Sly, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture and Terry Crews ….. Take away Micky Rourke (what a shame) and add back Schwarzeneggar, Willis, Chuck Norris (really?) and Jean-Claude Van Damme. Now THAT’S an action-packed cast. I gotta say, one of them is tougher than the next except Norris, who seems like a pussy cat with a beard.
The script is your basic bunch of unruly mercenaries who kick ass around the world trying to get even. Van Damme is tight and believable. Sly is OK, but the snuggle-tooth grin is getting old. Arnold is just not believable any more….too many cigars in his Sacramento tent I guess. Willis has a bit part and he’s not menacing enough any more for a vignette. He was great in RED,but only passable here. Statham is a favorite and always menacing, so he held up his end even though he’s written as hen-pecked.
The biggest problem here is that the action sequences are only so convincing (compared, say, to a Bourne film). RED already did the old guy bit….and did it much better. So the predictable plot and campy old mercenary theme was just plain boring.
Imagine hedge fund managers who outstay their welcome. Some, like Meryl Streep, just keep on going (think Dalio) where others just outstay their audience like Travolta (think Falcone) and still others know when to quit like Damon as Bourne (think Soros) and go out on top.
[dropcap style="font-size: 60px; color: #9b9b9b;"] C [/dropcap] atch .44 is a little known star-studded shoot-out that tries very hard to emulate a mixture of Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs with a portion of Memento and never quite makes it all work. No one I know has heard of this movie despite the star billing of Bruce Willis, Forrest Whittaker and Malin Akerman. This takes place in No Country For Old Men territory and it’s all about a gang of three women who do jobs for Mel, the local crime lord played by Willis. Mel should have been played by Mickey Rourke since it would have required no make-up or wardrobe. Mel is Rourke. And the three women, led by Akerman, are Charlie’s Angels with edge.
Forrest Whittaker is really the male lead here (Ronny), playing the main man that serves Mel. We meet him putting a Malin-abusing hard-ass in his place at a cheesy strip club (owned by Mel). Ronny spends the movie killing his way to a midnight cafe meet that is set up for confusing and unknown reasons. It seems to be a job set up by Mel, but with each player getting a different playbook.
While Ronny is doing his thing, Aaron Harvey, the rookie director is busy trying to find a fancy way to tell us the story of the midnight cafe meet in sequential reverse direction. Why? I guess as MGM likes to say…. Ars Gratia Artis. But as far as telling a story, I prefer real time. Catch .44 is all about the Mexican stand-off at the midnight cafe and figuring out who is both supposed to do what to whom and who will survive to do it all another day.
I’ve lived a Mexican standoff in several lives. Repo counter parties looking for margin cash. First and second lien holders squaring off against mezzanine debt holders. Sovereign debt holders and the IMF against the 99%. It is never fun, always confusing and usually ends badly for 2/3 of the players. Catch .44 is just that…..twice as bad as catch 22…..basically, you cannot win if you play. Just like in War Games, the only way to win is to not play.