Tuesday, 27 October 2015

The Thin White Dude's Reviews - Jurassic World

Directed by: Colin Trevorrow

Produced by: Frank Marshall
Patrick Crowley

Screenplay by: Rick Jaffa
Amanda Silver
Derek Connolly
Colin Trevorrow

Story by: Rick Jaffa
Amanda Silver

Based on: Characters by Michael Crichton

Starring: Chris Pratt
Bryce Dallas Howard
Vincent D'Onofrio
Ty Simpkins
Nick Robinson
Omar Sy
B.D. Wong
Irrfan Khan

Music by: Michael Giacchino

Cinematography by: John Schwartzman

Editing by: Kevin Stitt

Studio(s): Amblin Entertainment
Legendary Pictures

Distributed by: Universal Pictures

Release date(s): June 11, 2015 (United Kingdom)
June 12, 2015 (United States)

Running time: 124 minutes

Country: United States

Language: English

Production budget: $150 million

Box-office revenue (as of publication): $1, 665, 727, 701

Okay, so there's less reviews going out than there should be. I admit that. The pace may not exactly be quickening, but it sure is going nice and steady. It's nice to be able to go back to my roots as a writer with the film reviewing. As I'm busy with both work and pursuing my own interests, it is a pleasure to take a step away from it all and just bask in the sheer enjoyment of sitting in a dark room watching something unfold. It would be amiss for me to make any great promises regarding this blog, as I've only managed to watch a dozen films so far from 2015 (easily my lowest number since this blog's inception) and have been so far removed from the general scheme of things, but I can say that I'll do my best to cover as much as I can. So, with that being said, for, if not all, at least some of the latest and greatest in the movies, keep your eyes posted.

Today's film up for review is Jurassic World, the fourth entry into the Jurassic Park film series. Returning to the big screens after a fourteen-year gap involving a long period of development hell, Jurassic World opened right in the midst of blockbuster season and became an astounding box-office success, standing right now as the highest-grossing film of 2015 and the third highest-grossing film of all-time. I for one was expected it to do relatively well, but I don't think many could have predicted the final outcome, and it just shows how much love there is this franchise. As a boy I saw the first film and instantly fell for it all: there was something just so wondrous and brilliant about those dinosaurs, and it amazed me that these beasts once walked the earth. For a long time, way before I started styling myself as an artistic enfant terrible, it was my great dream to become a palaeontologist. Yep, I wanted to earn a living and live my life on archaeological campsites digging up dinosaurs. I don't look back with hindsight and scoff at my younger self's ambitions. Indeed, I admire them, because I'm still to a degree digging up dirt, exploring and looking for answers to all of life's great mysteries. The first Jurassic Park (and the 1997 sequel The Lost World) have a special place in my heart, so thank you Mr. Spielberg (and of course Mr. Crichton for his terrific novel). Now, let's get on with the synopsis: twenty-two years after the events in Jurassic Park, a fully functioning dinosaur theme park under the name of Jurassic World has been operating successfully for ten years on the island Isla Nublar. Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard), the operations manager of the park, is a workaholic who is too busy to recruiting new sponsors with a new attraction, the genetically modified synthetic dinosaur known as Indominus Rex, to spend time with her visiting nephews Zach and Gray (Nick Robinson and Ty Simpkins). Before the attraction opens, park owner Simon Masrani (Irrfan Khan) wants resident Velociraptor expert and trainer Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) to evaluate the enclosure. However, when it seems that the Indominus has escaped, Owen and two staff members are ambushed by the dinosaur, which then escapes further into the island. With Zach and Gray having ignored the evacuation order while on a gyrosphere ride, it is up to Owen and Claire to save the boys from the rampaging beast, whose escape has had a tumbleweed effect causing all sorts of havoc, and restore some semblance of order to the park. Got it? Good!

To start off with the good, I have to say that Jurassic World is a blockbuster which delivers it's big-budget spectacle in stacks. Notwithstanding the fact that the film is looks good and is edited well, the special-effects on the film reaches the standard of excellence set by the previous films. Computer graphics have come a long way since 2001, and it's a fitting tribute to the work of the late great Stan Winston that his alumni at Legacy Effects and Industrial Light And Magic, with the likes of Phil Tippett and Dennis Muren back on board to bring the franchise up to contemporary speed. The use of motion capture is also a welcome addition, ensuring the seamless flow of movement in the dinosaurs. With all of these elements of a high standard, it means that we can sit back and wallow in the sheer awe at watching these creatures, but also on the edge of our seats with some of the film's terrific action sequences. There is a brilliant sense of size and scale involved in the scenes, but most importantly, they maintain the essential fear factor involved; these are big, scary beasts, and chances are they the ones doing the hunting, not the other way around. All of this culminates in one of the most outrageously destructive and totally awesome fight sequences I can remember seeing in a film for a good while. There are also other things to admire about Jurassic World. Like the original, it is ultimately a precautional commentary on the ethical question of man playing god. Science and the advancement of technology brings many great things, but there are some stones best left unturned. While it's a tried and tested trope, those behind Jurassic World are smart enough to ensure that the movie has it's own thing going. It's the first post-9/11 Jurassic Park film, and there are clear implications involved with the shadow that that event has left upon our collective consciousness. The idea of the intelligent Velociraptors being trained is a genius bit of thinking (and which reminds me of the turn of the Vortigaunts in Half-Life 2), because not only do you get to have dinosaurs on the side of the humans but you also get the ethical considerations involving InGen's Vic Hoskins designs to see them trained for military use as weapons of war. As regards thematic content, Jurassic World succeeds. Also, while some may mourn the absence of John Williams as the film's composer, we can celebrate the fact that Michael Giacchino is on board here and that he delivers one of his best scores to date. While I'm not usually the man for what I call 'orchestral histrionics,' Giacchino is an exception, and this contains many pieces of work which are quite clearly trademark 'Giacchino' themes, but also are creative, thrilling and at times beautiful. Furthermore, there is a synthesis between this and his homages, echoing the iconic Williams themes, balanced perfectly and never overstepping their bounds. It's a score that works on many different levels, merging sound and vision into moments were time seems to stand still. I wouldn't be surprised if it remains one of the best scores of the year come awards season. It is this synthesis I mentioned, between respectful homage and distinctive creativity that stands out at the heart of Jurassic World. Colin Trevorrow, Derek Connolly, Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver were handed the reigns to bring a much beloved franchise back to the big screen, something which they do successfully. Maintaining a balance between the homages (the Jurassic World employee wearing a Jurassic Park t-shirt being told off for being in bad taste) and taking the property to new places, Jurassic World is a confident, respectful and highly entertaining blockbuster which assures that once again, life has found a way for this franchise.

So, as you can gather, I liked Jurassic World. Scratch that, I really liked Jurassic World. However, much as I found the film a hell of a lot of fun, there is a central problem to it which means that while it is a great movie, it's no masterwork. That problem lies in the characters. Despite the fact that you have quality actors like Chris Pratt and Vincent D'Onofrio playing these parts, they remain themselves two-dimensional tropes with no viable arcs. Pratt can make paint drying somewhat watchable, but his Owen Grady has none of the development or depth that his recent protagonists Emmet Brickowski and Peter Quill have possessed. None more so is this prevalent in Bryce Dallas Howard's Claire, a part which is indicative of the poor state of affairs regarding the lack of viable female parts in major Hollywood films. Claire is a strong and at times intimidating authority figure to her employees at Jurassic World, but all of that cool demeanour goes out the window when it comes to the rugged charms of Chris Pratt. I know that's a spoiler but tell me you can't see that a mile away! I mean, for God's sake, she even acknowledges a previous tryst with the man as "a mistake." Is it really necessary for every major female character in a blockbuster to fall for their leading man? I'm not suggesting a standardisation of platonic relationships or something, but isn't demeaning to suggest that powerful women who are successful are lacking something 'inside' (hint hint, wink wink) and hollow vacuous shells unless they go head over heels for their male co-stars? Whatever happened to the Ellen Ripley's, the Sarah Connor's or the Clarice Starling's? Because of this lack of character development, these arcs weren't appropriately justified, and I found some of the sexual and gender politics involved here to be quite troublesome.

Right so, taking that away my problems with the characters, which I hate to, being the ethical mother that I am, I still think that Jurassic World is a great movie. This is a big-budget spectacle which delivers in stacks. The cinematography, editing, sound and special effects are of a very high standard, and the well-scripted action sequences are among some of the most exciting around. Also, for all the lack of character development, there is still a rich amount of thematic content. Michael Giacchino also gives us one of his best scores, quite clearly his own while steeped with gestures towards the work of John Williams. The same can be said for much of the film. It's quite a step-up for Colin Trevorrow and Derek Connolly, but they succeed in delivering a film that is a synthesis between something that is a respectful homage to the history of the franchise and an original move forward for its future.

The Thin White Dude's Prognosis - 8.2/10

The Thin White Dude's Self-Diagnosis - Cool

Sunday, 18 October 2015

The Thin White Dude's Reviews - Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation

Directed by: Christopher McQuarrie

Produced by: J.J. Abrams
Bryan Burk
Tom Cruise
David Ellison
David Goldberg
Don Granger

Screenplay by: Christopher McQuarrie

Story by: Christopher McQuarrie
Drew Pearce

BasedMission: Impossible by Bruce Geller

Starring: Tom Cruise
Jeremy Renner
Simon Pegg
Rebecca Ferguson
Ving Rhames
Sean Harris
Alec Baldwin

Music by: Joe Kraemer

Cinematography by: Robert Elswit

Editing by: Eddie Hamilton

Studio(s): Bad Robot Productions
Skydance Productions
Cruise/Wagner Productions
China Movie Channel
Alibaba Pictures

Distributed by: Paramount Pictures

Release date(s): July 30, 2015 (United Kingdom)
July 31, 2015 (United States)

Running time: 131 minutes

Country: United States

Language: English

Production budget: $150 million

Box-office revenue (as of publication): $679.8 million

Alrighty there children! After a quiet enough week there (aside from the odd twelve-hour shift), a new one begins, and what better way to begin than to write. If there's one thing that I have rediscovered in the past number of months, before I started the blog back up, is that I do derive such a great amount of pleasure in the simple process of writing, creating. Call me mad, but it's at that semi-mystical point now where I refuse to see myself any longer as a sentient being whose thoughts process and put together stories but rather a vessel that channels unharnessed energy around it, and thus guiding these stories to tell themselves. Anywho, getting away from my (possible?) delusions of grandeur, for all the latest and greatest in the movies, keep your eyes posted!

Today's film up for review is Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation, the fifth and latest instalment in the Mission: Impossible film series, starring Tom Cruise as Impossible Missions Force (IMF) agent Ethan Hunt. For those of you who don't know, I'm a big fan of Tom Cruise. Recently myself and my good film compatriot talked about how Cruise is the last of the big film stars, something that doesn't exist quite as much any more (stars don't sell any more, it's franchises that sell). Following his incredible leading role in 1983 as Joel Goodson in Paul Brickman's Risky Business, he went to megastardom with 1986's Top Gun and hasn't looked back since. Rain Man, Born On The Fourth Of July, A Few Good Men, the Mission: Impossible series, Jerry Maguire, Minority Report, Collateral, War Of The Worlds, this is not only a star, but an actor of true range and depth. Right up to the present day, with 2013's Oblivion and 2014's Edge Of Tomorrow, he's continuing to give great performances, and not only that, he has to be one of the few actors who remains credible with leading man status playing roles that could easy have been filled by people twenty years younger. I mean, he's already three years older than Jimmy Stewart was in Vertigo! Does the man ever age? However, since the previous M:I instalment, Ghost Protocol, Cruise's past four films, Rock Of Ages, Jack Reacher, Oblivion and Edge Of Tomorrow, did not exactly set the box-office on fire, leading many to question as to whether finally the Cruiser's star had finally waned. Well, this film has grossed $679 million off of it's $150 million budget, but you have to wonder now can he continue have a hit outside of the M:I franchise and do people want to see Cruise if he isn't Ethan Hunt. The two other major players involved in the production of this film are Christopher McQuarrie, the film's writer and director, who has been a regular Cruise collaborator since 2008's Valkyrie, working on him on both the M:I films, Jack Reacher and Edge Of Tomorrow, and J.J. Abrams. 2015 is going to another one of those years where J.J. Abrams is everywhere. When the new Stars Wars film, The Force Awakens arrives, it will be huge at the box-office, and hopefully it has the same effect that Abrams has had on other franchises, such as Star Trek and M:I, doing the J.J. Abrams thing and reinvigorating them with new life. After years of terrific work on television with Felicity, Alias and Lost, he was selected as director for M:I-3, which is a real blast of a film that remains the best of the franchise, and now that he has come into the fold as a producer, his imprint remains all over them. But enough contextual details, let's talk plot: Ethan Hunt (Cruise) is convinced that he can prove the existence of the Syndicate, an international criminal consortium which the CIA does not believe exists. Hunt is captured by the Syndicate, but escapes from a torture chamber led by member Janik 'Bone Doctor' Vinter (Jens Hulten) with the help of MI6 agent and Syndicate operative Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson). The IMF, meanwhile, faces great trouble, in that without a secretary in charge, Field Operations Director William Brandt (Jeremy Renner), is forced to defend their controversial and destructive methods before a Senate committee. Unfortunately, CIA Director Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin), succeeds in having the IMF disbanded and absorbed into the CIA, while Hunt is cut off from the IMF and follows his only lead: a blond man in glasses. Got it? Good!

Starting off with the good, I do have to once again mention Tom Cruise. While the Ethan Hunt in this film does not go to the depths which we have seen previously, Cruise is still a delight in the part. He's convincing in portraying the grit and determination of the lead character's idealistic pursuit of unveiling the truth. Furthermore, it is a wonder that the man at his age is still able to perform in such a physical level of film. I mean, the man must be mad in the head, doing some of the things that he continues to do in these films. That opening sequence, used in the promotional material for the film, that's Cruise legitimately hanging five-thousand feet in the air! This brings me to the stunts, which once again are of a very high standard. The previous instalment, Ghost Protocol, featured that already iconic Burj Khalifa climb in Dubai, and while nothing quite reach that level of awe, there's still genuinely nerve-wracking and great stuff here. A fight scene in the swinging rafters of a Viennese opera house, a silent sequence in an underwater turbine tank, followed by a ludicrously bombastic car chase, M:I-5 has plenty going for it in that regard. All of these sequences, and the movie as a whole, look terrific, with DP Robert Elswit working on the film. Certainly one of the best contemporary cinematographers, his trademark crisp quality which makes everything he works on look good, but not only that, he gives the action sequence a real classy kind of flair. Although some of these scenes feature wanton destruction, there is a certain level of elegance with what Elswit does here. The final thing I'd like to praise here is Chris McQuarrie, as regards his work both as a screenwriter and director. The Cruiser obviously used his clout to get his regular collaborator on board, and quite clearly it was the right choice. McQuarrie writes some of these sequences right down to a tee, with an eye for detail and little things to make them memorable. He understands the pulpy humour and sensibilities involved with the franchise, delivering a film which is at times very funny, and is also successful with film's central antagonist(s), building the Syndicate over an extended period of time as a powerful organisation that exists almost as a superpower with enough weight behind it to topple governments. It feels like a legitimate threat to Ethan Hunt and his IMF team. As a director, McQuarrie handles with care, but is not afraid to go out there and do something interesting with it. This was McQuarrie's first film as a director on this scale or production level, so it's great to see that after Cruise and Abrams (plus their producing partners) put their faith in him he was able to back it up. No doubt because of this film's success, McQuarrie will get another gig or two in major films as a writer-director, which is something I'd be quite happy to see. Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation is an exciting actioner which is solidly entertaining popcorn fare. 

Now, as no doubt you've already gathered I enjoyed myself with M:I-5. But now comes the time of the proverbial 'however,' because despite this I do not feel that this is by any means to be considered a great movie. The only real flaw in the classical sense that could be pointed out to the film is that the turns of the plot later in the film end up in the realm of the overly convoluted and at times border on preposterous. Yes, we get the whole 'who's conning who' and double-agent routines of intrigue which are so much a part of the spy film genre, but here it all starts to get a bit silly, and to use a tried and tested term, it did start to jump the shark. The other problem with the film is one of those ones that is more about my own personal feelings than anything in particular. While it's a pulpy thrill ride, it contributes nothing of real importance or value. This is something that has always been a recurring issue with the Mission: Impossible film series. Just because it's a genre film doesn't mean you can't do something with meaningful depth and resonance. It doesn't have to be one or the other. Just take a look at Chris Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy or some of the recent James Bond films with Daniel Craig (namely Casino Royal and Skyfall) and you see that it is quite possible to do both successfully. Mission: Impossible III was the closest this franchise has got to achieving both. Rogue Nation only succeeds in one of them.

Even though I think that the plot becomes overly convoluted and that the film as a whole is of no major importance or significance, I still had a good time and think that M:I-5 is a very good bit of popcorn fare. The Cruiser shows no signs of stopping and is on fine form here, proving once again that he is more than adept at keeping pace with the film's meticulously crafted action sequences. All of this is shot with elegance and classy flair by Robert Elswit and Chris McQuarrie does a solid job at the helm in both capacities as writer and director. Solidly entertaining popcorn fare.

The Thin White Dude's Diagnosis - 7.4/10

The Thin White Dude's Self-Diagnosis - Good

P.S. I have to note that Ving Rhames' totally obese moment of Luther struggling and breathing heavily to get about ten yards through a crowd in the London Underground to Rebecca Ferguson's Ilsa Faust was one of the most unintentionally funny moments in a film for quite some time. I was in stitches for about ten or fifteen minutes.

Monday, 5 October 2015

The Thin White Dude's Reviews - Southpaw

Directed by: Antoine Fuqua

Produced by: Todd Black
Jason Blumenthal
Steve Tisch
Peter Riche
Alan Riche
Antoine Fuqua
Jerry Ye

Screenplay by: Kurt Sutter

Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal
Forest Whitaker
Rachel McAdams

Music by: James Horner

Cinematography by: Mauro Fiore

Editing by: John Refoua

Studio(s): WanDa Pictures
Riche Productions
Escape Artists
Fuqua Films

Distributed by: The Weinstein Company

Release date(s): July 24, 2015 (United States and United Kingdom)

Running time: 123 minutes

Country(s): United States

Language: English

Production budget: $25 million

Box-office revenue (as of publication): $70, 727, 879

As you can see, things got reduced in the reviewing terms there last week, but thankfully I can announce that it was due to the business of getting a number of different pieces of good news. Without giving away any spoilers, I can tell you now that not only will I be working as an extra on a major production, but I have been offered a place for the Cinemagic Short Film Academy. Both of these things came round rather quickly, the gig as an extra being quite unexpected, and I thought if I got at least one of these I'd be doing alright, but to get both is great. I don't want to get too high on a taste of glory, but it's nice to see that the wheels are turning, getting in motion now towards my real goals and ambitions. I don't want to wax lyrical too much, because I think I can leave that to a separate article in it's own right (after all, this is meant to be a review!), so, for all the latest and greatest as regards the movies, keep your eyes posted!

Today's review is for Southpaw, the sports drama directed by Antoine Fuqua and starring Jake Gyllenhaal. While Fuqua is by no means small fry as far as filmmakers go (I actually liked last year's film version of The Equaliser with Denzel Washington, and of course there's Training Day), much of the publicity drummed up around this film has been on the physical transformation of Gyllenhaal. For those of you who don't know (if you're a regular reader here, how don't you?), I'm a big fan of Gyllenhaal, and while he's always been good, the past five years has seen a succession of back-to-back great performances, most notably in Denis Villeneuve's 2013 film Prisoners as the determined Detective Loki and in his unforgettable role as the ruthless career-climbing sociopath Lou Bloom in last year's Nightcrawler. Both of those performances won Gyllenhaal acting awards from yours truly, for Best Supporting Actor (Male) and Best Lead Actor (Male), so we've got on actor on board who right now is on a career high. Another notable member of Southpaw's crew is the late James Horner, the film's composer, who died shortly before the film's release, and it is the first of three posthumous works. There's a nice story involving his last score, as Fuqua is working on a remake of The Magnificent Seven presently, and found out from Horner's crew about a month after his death that the great composer had secretly written the compositions for the score, working off of the script and planning to surprise Fuqua with the finished work. Okay, so story goes that Billy Hope (Gyllenhaal) is a successful,  undefeated boxer and reigning World Light Heavyweight champion, and is convinced by his wife Maureen (Rachel McAdams) to retire while he's still at the top following an eye injury in his most recent fight. However, at a charity event for the orphanage where he and his wife grew up, contender Miguel 'Magic' Escobar taunts him, leading to a brawl which results in Escobar's brother Hector accidentally shooting and killing Maureen. Billy's life spirals out of control as he begins to abuse alcohol and drugs, with his house and belongings repossessed and losing the custody of his daughter Leila (Oona Laurence). This series of incidents leads Billy to try to remain sober and get his life back, getting a job at the gym of seasoned boxer Titus 'Tick' Wills (Forest Whitaker), and eventually convinces him to train him so he can make a comeback. Got it? Good!

To start off with the good, there are a number of solid performances at the front. In her small role as Maureen, Rachel McAdams is believable, and I think that Oona Laurence, who plays Hope's daughter Leila, carries herself off rather well, showing real promise for future prospects, and Forest Whitaker brings to the part of the stereotypical boxing trainer gravitas and credibility, elevating it beyond a cliche. However, if we are to talk performances, we have to talk about Jake Gyllenhaal. The publicity drummed up surrounding his physical transformation wasn't wrong, because he is absolutely shredded for this film. Gyllenhaal has got into shape before for the not-inappropriately forgotten Prince Of Persia film, but this is a whole other level altogether. This level of physicality suits the purpose of the Billy Hope character, as opposed to being a purely designer thing to indulge one's vanity. Just taking a look at Gyllenhaal as Hope, without opening his mouth, even though we see him in moments of real tenderness, we know from his shape and expressions that this is a man capable of extreme violence. There is a tension and energy that Gyllenhaal brings to this character that is palpable, and seeing those tendencies clashing with his true will and intent to rebuild his life makes for some of the film's best moments. I'll get to this more in a bit, but some the material here isn't particularly interesting, but watching Gyllenhaal and the possibilities of where he could take the character intrigued me, keeping me interested in the drama. His role serves the same purpose as Woody Harrelson's in Rampart a few years back, an Atlas holding the entire project upon his shoulders. In ten-fifteen years time, we're going to look retrospectively and realise just how hot of a streak Gyllenhaal's has been on in the 2010's. There are other aspects of the film which I liked. Some of the pieces of music in the film, namely Horner's score and the tracks from Eminem, Phenomenal and Kings Never Die, add to the flavour of the film. Also, technically it's a sound bit of work. Mauro Fiore is more often than not a DP who's always on form, and here, working in conjunction with John Refoua once again as the film's editor, the two compliment one another. The two both worked together previously on Avatar and The Equaliser, and I think that this chemistry comes across well in the final product. Finally, I thought that the sound design on the film was impressive. From the standpoint of depicting realistically some of the more brutal moments in the boxing ring whilst maintaining the subjective standpoint of Billy Hope's mental state(s), the film succeeds at both.

Now, it has to be said that while there are these things to the film's credit, I cannot say it is a great film or even a very good movie, because it is deeply flawed at it's heart. Screenwriter Kurt Sutter, most famous for creating a little show on FX known as Sons Of Anarchy, and has worked in the past on The Shield as a producer, writer, director and actor. So that's quite a CV, and however much I love The Shield, it could never bring me to acknowledge that this script has nothing new to offer the sports drama genre, or film as a whole, which is a shame considering The Shield changed cop shows forever. For all of it being written around and based upon Eminem's personal struggles, it has none of the unique and distinctive flavour of the rap artist's work. The film has been, perhaps unfavourably, been compared to Raging Bull, but instead feels like a mish-mash between Scorsese's picture and Rocky. What made those films so distinctive was that they both had authorial drive, in the case of the former the collaboration of Scorsese and Robert De Niro, the latter the semi-autobiographical tale of Sylvester Stallone, and although both went in very different directions, one a dark exploration of violent rage and masculinity, the other a social-realist fairy tale, they were equally admirable. They had an identity that was wholly theirs. Southpaw unfortunately comes across as something in between, striving to do Raging Bull but not being able to go all out and compromising to also Rocky's feel-good story. Do one or the other, not both. Also, none of the characters that were written on paper were anything more than a trope. I mean, the main character is called Billy Hope. Hope. That says it all. The reason I was interested was because of Gyllenhaal. Rachel McAdams' Maureen is the supportive wife whose only purpose to back up her husband, Forest Whitaker is the film's equivalent to Mickey Goldmill, even Fiddy, who the moment you see onscreen as a manager/promoter/shyster to Billy Hope, you know he's a shark that means trouble. The characters are dull and the plot moves in predictable ways. Also, I won't lie that I do wonder whether or not this is the right project for Fuqua. He's a solid director, but who knows if someone else couldn't have tended this project a bit better.

I have to say that if ever there was a script doctor needed, I'm calling Dr. Love right now! Kurt Sutter may have Sons Of Anarchy under his belt and worked on The Shield, but this is a script with dull, uninspiring characters, the plot moves in predictable ways, and as a whole there's a bit of an identity crisis going on, in that the film doesn't seem to know quite what it is. That said, warts and all, I still there's enough going on to give this film the proverbial thumbs up. Messy, yes, but there are a number of solid performances in the cast, and Jake Gyllenhaal continues on his roll, proving just how much of an acting powerhouse he is that he can almost single-handedly elevate this film into something of quality. Also, James Horner's score and some of Eminem's tracks for the film are good, and technically, particularly in the photography, editing and sound departments, it's an astute bit of work. Troublesome, but still a good watch. 

The Thin White Dude's Prognosis - 6.7/10

The Thin White Dude's Self-Diagnosis - Rolling