Dearest Blog: Today it was off to Marquee Cinemas for Flatliners and American Made.
Spoiler level here will be mild, nothing you wouldn't know from the trailers.
First on the docket: Flatliners.
A group of med students experiments with death.
The original Flatliners is a disturbing exercise that leaves an unsettled hangover long after the picture ends. Its perfect cast, gloomy atmosphere, and graveyard humor make it a classic I never mind revisiting. The new Flatliners is a sloppy collection of paper-doll characters, cringe-worthy dialogue, and jump scares...and, oh, James Norton...you deserve so much better! While the remake's premise is basically the same as the original's, it's hard to muster any interest in this unsympathetic group of newcomers. Jump scares are plentiful but far too easy to anticipate, and the "flatline" experiences look a lot like low-rent haunted attractions. Because things weren't going poorly enough, filmmakers also shoehorned in a couple ill-conceived sexual interludes. Lacking any of the original's humor, Flatliners seems to drag despite clocking in well under two hours, building to one of the more eye-rolling endings in recent memory. Among the few positives, James Norton and Diego Luna are both more than watchable, and a couple callbacks to 1990's Flatliners offer a welcome bit of nostalgia. I've heard some folks say this remake wasn't "necessary," but a thing doesn't have to be necessary to be fun, entertaining, or even worthwhile. Sadly, 2017's Flatliners is none of that, either.
Flatliners runs 110 minutes and is rated R for "violence and terror, sexual content, language, thematic material, and some drug references."
While I'm not normally opposed to films being remade--even films I love dearly--I kinda wish they'd left this one alone. Of a possible nine Weasleys, Flatliners gets two.
Next on my agenda, American Made.
An airline pilot is pressed into some shady dealings by the CIA.
American Made sells like an action-comedy in its trailers, so viewers might be excused for forgetting its story is serious as a heart attack and likely to end badly for anyone it makes you care about. The picture is a Tom Cruise vehicle through and through, and Cruise carries it with his usual ease. If you're having a hard time forgiving him for The Mummy, maybe this is a better reminder of how masterful he is in even sub-par projects. The suddenly-ubiquitous Domhnall Gleeson is also brilliant as the CIA mentor who drags Cruise's character into all the hot water. Now...for the hard part. I can't say I didn't like American Made, and I can't say I did. It's action packed, yet somehow I was bored. The supporting cast isn't standout like Cruise and Gleeson, but there are plenty of fine performances to go around. It could have used a small trim, but it's not really all that long. While the tale is no doubt embellished for the big screen, the film remains a sobering reminder of what's considered "acceptable" when you're doing it for the "good guys" (and as long as nobody finds out). And, yes, it *is* quite funny at times. So...where, exactly, does American Made go wrong? I honestly can't say, I can only say that it does, and thus is nowhere near the thrill-ride you'd expect from its trailer.
American Made clocks in at 115 minutes and is rated R for "language throughout and some sexuality/nudity." (Anybody else find it weird that a film about a cartel doesn't get a certification for drug content?)
American Made is a passable way to spend a couple hours, easily digested and easily forgotten.
Of a possible nine Weasleys, American Made gets five.* (*Includes one bonus Weasley for having an actual Weasley in the cast.)
Until next time...