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Sunday, March 4, 2018

Cindy Prascik's Reviews of Death Wish & Red Sparrow

Dearest Blog: Yesterday it was off to Marquee Cinemas to kiss Awards Season goodbye with Death Wish and Red Sparrow.
Spoiler level here will be mild, nothing you wouldn't know from the trailers.
First on the docket: Death Wish.
A surgeon goes vigilante after his family is attacked.
Regular reader(s) will not be too shocked to hear I couldn't be bothered to revisit the original Death Wish (which I've seen exactly once) before checking out the the remake/reboot/whatever, comparisons here, sorry.
2018's Death Wish is a by-the-numbers revenge thriller that holds few surprises. With Bruce Willis in the lead, it's passably entertaining, but not really dark enough to be taken seriously nor crazy enough to be much fun. Vincent D'Onofrio is wasted in a cookie-cutter sidekick role, though the silver lining is mercifully little screentime for the annoying Elisabeth Shue. Law enforcement is played as bumbling comic relief, with a standard baddie around every turn. I clocked shout-outs to two of my favorite made/set in Chicago movies, The Dark Knight and Ferris Bueller's Day Off, but I'm pretty sure they weren't on purpose. Ultimately, I enjoyed Death Wish because it's my kinda movie, but I in good conscience I couldn't recommend it to anyone who doesn't share my affinity for witless shoot 'em ups.
Death Wish runs 107 minutes and is rated R for "strong bloody violence and language throughout."
Death Wish is a reasonably entertaining way to give your brain a couple hours' rest, but you'll forget it almost as soon as you exit the theater. 
Of a possible nine Weasleys, Death Wish gets five.
Next up: Red Sparrow.
When a Bolshoi ballerina's career is ended, she's recruited for a secret Russian intelligence service.
Hey you guys, remember that George Clooney movie The American? The trailers sold it as a thriller, but in actual fact it was the slowest, quietest movie in the history of movies?* (*Including silent movies and The Revenant.) Well, welcome to The American's step-sister, Red Sparrow. While Red Sparrow is neither as quiet nor as plodding as The American, it disappointed me in many of the same ways. Red Sparrow runs two hours plus and moves at a snail's pace. Criminally underusing the talents of James Newton Howard, it's often so quiet I could hear the people ten rows behind me chewing their popcorn. The movie spotlights every uncomfortable, disturbing, or just plain gross moment for the sake of it; in more skilled hands it could and should have been genuinely disturbing, but instead it's just sensationalized for shock value's sake. (It hurts me to say that, as director Francis Lawrence masterfully helmed three episodes of one of my all-time favorite TV series, NBC's short-lived Kings.) Though it's pretty tense throughout, Red Sparrow didn't once surprise me; its twists and turns are too easily anticipated. The film is a decent vehicle for showcasing the brilliance of Jennifer Lawrence, and the supporting cast is plenty solid (nice to see you, Ciaran Hinds!), but it's a shame the movie isn't half as smart as it wants to be. Red Sparrow's one real accomplishment is giving me a weird crush on Joel Edgerton, which I'm guessing won't be too rewarding for the creative team. Oh, and, hey...don't forget to make fun of me for hating this in two weeks when I tell you all how awesome Sherlock Gnomes is, m-kay?
Red Sparrow clocks in at 139 minutes and is rated R for "strong violence, torture, sexual content, language, and some graphic nudity." (Movie fans, they're serious. This one is not for the squeamish.)
Red Sparrow is a coulda-shoulda-woulda been thriller that's worth seeing for Jennifer Lawrence, but not for much else. 
Of a possible nine Weasleys, Red Sparrow gets four.
Until next time...

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