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Sunday, March 22, 2015

Cindy Prascik's Reviews of The Gunman and Insurgent

Dearest Blog, yesterday it was off to the pictures for The Gunman and Insurgent, a pair of action-packed movies sure to get the blood moving. Or not.

Spoiler level here will be mild, nothing you wouldn't know from the trailers.

First up: Sean Penn in The Gunman.

A former assassin's misdeeds come back to haunt him.

Dear reader(s), if we're being honest, my first reaction when The Gunman's credits started rolling was, "What the hell did I just watch??" Not that it was a bad movie, or even a terribly strange movie, it just wasn't what I expected from the trailer. I went back and re-watched the trailer and, in hindsight, I'm not sure why I didn't get it. Luckily, it's a pretty good movie anyway.

Pluses: Sean Penn is on point in the lead. For me, he's one of those guys (like Tom Cruise) who, when I hear his name I think, "I don't really care for that actor." Then I watch him in something and say to myself, "Self, what were you thinking? That guy is awesome!" Though he's crippled on occasion by awkward dialogue, Penn is solid here, which is a good thing, because it's mostly on him to carry this one. Idris Elba and Ray Winstone are very good with limited screen time, and the movie is noticeably better when they're around. The story is interesting, with plenty of action, and there's an angry sex scene that, while not especially long or graphic, is pretty hot. Finally, at just under two hours, the movie is smart enough not to wear out its welcome.

Minuses: Javier Bardem is a total clown...thinking his mugging may even upstage Captain Jack Sparrow in that new Pirates movie. As for the female lead, Jasmine Trinca, both the actress and the role are entirely forgettable; you could have plopped pretty much any woman of an appropriate age in that slot and she'd have been no better, no worse, and no more important to the movie. A bunch of obvious soap-opera glances in the opening scenes reveal the baddie long before you should have any idea; in fact, the whole thing, while entertaining, is extremely predictable. Finally, Idris Elba appears twice in a two-minute trailer and exactly the same number of times in a two-hour movie. I LOVE Elba, and was really hoping to see more of him.

Distractions: Penn's newfound buff-ness and Trinca's funky front teeth.

The Gunman runs 115 minutes and is rated R for "strong violence, language, and some sexuality."
As is kinda the norm for this time of year, it's a passably entertaining, but ultimately forgettable, afternoon at the cinema.

Of a possible nine Weasleys, The Gunman gets five and a half.

Up next was the second installment in the Divergent series, Insurgent.

Tris and Four continue fighting the good fight against Jeanine and the faction system.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, literally every single review I saw of Divergent, the first film in this series, contained some version of the sentiment, "Well, that was way better than I expected!" It is, perhaps, for that reason that Insurgent is something of a disappointment.

Though it runs about 20 minutes shorter than its predecessor, Insurgent seems slow and long. I was pretty bored with it for major chunks of time. The action is decent, but repetitive, and much of the dialogue just seems silly.

Shailene Woodley remains (for me) nothing more than a poor man's Jennifer with new dopey haircut!! I still have a crush on Theo James (curse you, lady Mary, for your deadly bed!!), and I shallowly found the movie far more interesting whenever he was onscreen. Aside from Kate Winslet, who is always reliable, this series has one of the more boring supporting casts I've ever seen, with a bunch of interchangeable actors who could be swapped out with barely a ripple.

Even having said all that, my chief annoyances were a weirdly made-up and bejeweled Naomi Watts (is that really how you picture the leader of your revolution??) and the awkward giggles drawn from my teenage audience by the non-starter love scene and a single almost f-word. (Hardly the movie's fault, but it still set my teeth on edge.)

Insurgent clocks in at 119 minutes and is rated PG13 for "intense violence and action throughout, some sensuality, thematic elements, and brief language."

Sadly, the middle frame of the Divergent series is exactly what I expect of most Y.A. adaptations. Here's hoping next year's finale is more like part one.

Of a possible nine Weasleys, Insurgent gets five.

Until next time...


Note to filmmakers: More Idris Elba is always better than less Idris Elba.

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