Force of Nature

Not to be confused with the Sandra Bullock movie Forces of Nature.

Recently rented a DVD of Force of Nature about a heist that happens during Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.  Entertaining and brisk, well contained and efficient, script not lacking in humor or tension. Plenty of critics damn the movie with such faint praise before whining that there is disrespect using the Puerto Rico storm as a backdrop for a caper.  The same argument could be made about Titanic being a backdrop for a romance.  The critics or crickets then pad their word count with hostile asides about Mel Gibson who has a supporting role as a crusty old cop being looked after by his daughter, Kate Bosworth, who is a doctor.

Most of the movie is contained around an apartment complex and concerns a crook played by David Zayas (Dexter, The Expendables) and his accomplices trying to get at a stash of paintings.  A pair of cops – one who still believes in the job, Jess, Stephanie Cayo who is excellent and seems to be new to English-language movies and the jaded cop with tragedy in his past, Cardillo played by Emile Hirsch are the center of the movie as they have to urge a few residents to vacate the building due to the hurricane.  The cynical arguments have a ring of truth to them.  The blatantly foreshadowed ending may be predictable but it is also fun to anticipate. The director of this film, Michael Polish, does an effective job without drawing attention to himself.  I believe the storm is happening though it is mostly implied as the focus is on characters.

Apparently Hirsch has some scandal in his own career recently, which I only know about because of busybody critics dutifully keeping dirt alive.  But the digs against Gibson are especially annoying.  Like his colleagues and friends who support him, Robert Downey Jr., Jodie Foster, Danny Glover, Darlene Love, Whoopie Goldberg, and Richard Donner to name a few, I want to see Mel continue with his current slate of movies as an actor and also as a director. I know The Passion 2 written by Randal Wallace will be crazy, as will his Wild Bunch remake.  The man was bashed and fell off the wagon and babbled whatever was in his unconscious after a couple of rabbis and others campaigned to have Apocalypto shelved by Disney.  The Passion resulted in zero antisemitic violence and was a success after being rejected around the town. So a lot of people were fuming over their own failure. Luckily, Disney relased Apocalpyto and it was a hit.  I would not have expected to like a movie about Mayans.  Jaguar Paw is a unique and compelling character.

A butt-hurt cop James Mee allegedly leaked the police report. When Gibson battled alcoholism, and bi-polar disorder, just as he was pulling his career back together, his ex-girlfriend Oksana recorded his phone rants and exploited his condition either caused by his meds or from not taking enough of them. Her sister leaked those audio files to RadarOnline, which was a disgrace. That cost us all a Viking movie written by Randal Wallace and directed by Mel Gibson, because Leonardo Dicaprio had to drop out after all of the heat caused by the rants.  That was around 2010, and that was about when Winona Rider shared a party anecdote from the Nineties about glib jokes made by Mel to her and a friend.  They read as mere jokes.  They were also denied at the time and then ten years later when someone at Variety decided to re-publish that old report to take advantage of the pandemic and racial sensitivity to really stick it to Mel.  Whoever had that brainstorm should be fired.  At the low point ten years ago, at least the first person to hire Mel was Robert Rodriguez for Machete Kills.  Then Stallone used him for Expendables 3.  He is still quite good on screen and few actors can get away with saying to an empty room, “I’m an asshole” quite the way Mel does in Force of Nature.

While on the subject, maybe go back and look at the first movie he did as a director, Man Without a Face.  It is odd that at the height of his fame and popularity he chose to do a movie about the town pariah.


Shaft (2019) Is Better Than SJW Critics

If you want to see de-aging FX of Samuel L. Jackson, skip the over-rated and cloying Captain Marvel and just go see Shaft currently in theatres. The opening scenes set up the premise in 1989.

Just finished catching a matinee of the new Shaft film, which is either the second if you don’t recognize any movie before the year 2000 or it is number Five if you count the original Shaft, Shaft’s Big Score, and Shaft In Africa.  Richard Roundtree plays the same character in all of them, as well as a TV series indicated on imdb which few have heard about.  This time around, one throw-away line of dialogue corrects a bad call from the 2000 film in which Roundtree’s John Shaft was the uncle of Samuel L. Jackson’s iteration. There is a reference to him being a better father once he stopped, “pretending to be my uncle.”  I think they were being too logical when they did the 2000 reboot, factoring in Jackson’s age.  Now they place Jackson at age Sixty and presumably Roundtree is still a sharp-witted man of his Eighties.  The repository of all knowledge, rottentomatoes, has 89 critics giving it a green rotten splotch of 34% and yet it has a vetted, verified audience rating (3, 146 people who provided proof they have seen the movie) at 94%.  So who do you trust more?  89 critics who saw it for free and are focused on identity politics and whether Shaft adheres to the behaviour code and attitude of…. Twitter, Salon, and The MarySue or anyone who believes if you are not draped in a rainbow flag you are a Nazi? Or do you believe the three thousand, one hundred and forty-six people who rated and maybe commented for free? By now you know what kind of thing is your cup of tea, in any case.

Boxofficemojo today has it only ranking in #7 of the weekend’s movies with $9, 703, 744 domestic. So it has recouped at least what Netflix paid for it already.  Netflix will start showing it June 28, so it will have a short window to make whatever it can theatrically.  It was worth seeing with an audience, but partly for the reassurance that others are laughing at the same frank talk that some critics refer to as “dinosaur.”  The movie itself can feel like an episode and a procedural in that you get what you expect from a sequel. But the refreshing part is its willingness to embrace the point of view of the street wise elder Shafts and have fun with that somewhat at the expense of the more modern-thinking son.  The millennial does have his moments of dignity and the chance to kick ass, without the elders are not the butt of the joke.  They can humorously point out the absurdities and contradictions of modern sensibility.

Below, if you have the time, is an example of a sometimes entertaining pundit of fandom on the internet relishing the audience reception of this new Shaft and the fact that it is not politically correct which demonstrates perhaps that there is a demand for Hollywood to ditch its fake progressiveness and be more down to earth.