Pitt miscast in runaway Train
I like Brad Pitt. I really don't know anyone who doesn't. He's a talented man, has charm to spare and has been very smart where his career is concerned. However, with his latest, Bullet Train, something occurs in one of his movies that never had before – he's woefully miscast. As the assassin, Ladybug Pitt struggles from minute one, never in tune with the ironic sense of humor director David Leitch establishes, forcing one joke after another, never landing one, the veteran actor one step behind his castmates. It's an odd sight.
It certainly doesn't help that the movie is a bit of a mess, pseudo-comedy with a sadistic streak that finds five assassins aboard the titular conveyance, all trying to snatch a briefcase containing $10 million as they travel from Tokyo to Kyoto. It's a simple story that overstays, bloated by far too many fights that last too long and doses of gratuitous violence that are supposed to be humorous but come off as sophomoric. There is an audience for such things, as evidenced by the popularity of Leitch's Deadpool 2. As for me, I thought it was all a bore, an adventure I wish never had left the station. In theaters.
Tepid Sunday a bore
I was not familiar with the work of Filipino comedian Jo Koy before seeing his semi-autobiographical film, Easter Sunday. I will not be delving into his other work after suffering through this tepid "comedy." Koy is Joe Valencia, a stand-up comic hoping to land a spot on a network television series, who has a great many problems. He's not spending enough time with his son, he has to contend with his eccentric family over the Easter holiday and he's upset with the direction his career is taking.
This is all pretty standard stuff yet, in the right hands, is enough of a premise to build a comedy on. Unfortunately, Kate Angelo and Ken Cheng are all thumbs where putting a solid script together is concerned, heaping one ridiculous situation onto another. Before it's all done, there's a psycho gangster involved, a set of stolen boxing gloves that belonged to Manny Pacquiao being passed around and silly cameos from Lou Diamond Phillips. Over the course of the film's interminable 96-minute running time, I didn't laugh once. That's all you need to know. In theaters.
Familiar Prey somewhat effective
My wife, ironically, is not a movie fan. However, on the rare occasion that she's in the room when I have a film on, she's not shy about offering up some astute observations. Case in point – while watching Prey, the latest entry in the Predator franchise, she said at about the halfway point, "Didn't they get the memo? They've already made this movie!"
There's no getting anything by her. As directed by Dan Trachtenberg and written by Patrick Aison, this is essentially a remake of the 1987 Arnold Schwarzenegger hit with two distinct differences – it's set in 1719, and instead of featuring a brigade of mercenaries taking on the deadly alien hunter, there's a group of Comanche warriors. Obviously, these natives have little chance against the futuristic technology they face, but the fierce female warrior Naru (Amber Midthunder) is determined to prove her mettle and defeat her dreadlocked adversary. To be sure, plot-wise there's nothing new here, and as a result, the film tends to drag at times. However, the fights are well-executed, the effects convincing and Midthunder gives us a heroine I wouldn't mind seeing more of. Streaming on Hulu.