American Made Review

American Made movie posterSynopsis
Barry Seal (Tom Cruise), an American airline pilot, is approached by a CIA agent named Schafer (Domhnall Gleeson) who offers him a job taking covert pictures of insurgent operations in Central America for the US government. Seal is soon approached by Pablo Escobar (Mauricio Mejia) and his crew and is recruited into smuggling drugs into the US.

I’ll admit, the only reason I really went to see American Made was because of Tom Cruise. Biopics aren’t normally my type of film and there haven’t been very many that I have greatly enjoyed. However, I was hoping that with Cruise at the forefront, this might actually be a biopic that I’d like. While it does contain several of the aspects of the genre I don’t care for, there was plenty more to enjoy than other biopics.

As I thought would be the case, Cruise’s charisma is one of the driving forces of the film. He plays Barry Seal in such a way that you like him, even though you know he is a terrible person and that you should detest him. It creates a very interesting experience. With Cruise’s infectious grin, you’ll be rooting for Seal all along the way.

Another actor who I thought did a great job was Domhnall Gleeson as the CIA operative Schafer. He was just as charismatic as Cruise except we don’t get much information about him. I supposed this works out alright because since he is CIA, this helps to build that air of mystery about him. I just wish I was able to see more of him and Cruise together because they both had an energy about them that was fun to watch.

The subject matter of American Made is actually pretty dark but you might have a hard time seeing that with the way it is presented. I’m sure part of it comes from Cruise’s charisma I brought up earlier but there is a lightheartedness to the film that was unexpected in a movie about a drug dealer. I think its unique tone made it more enjoyable for me because there are plenty of movies about criminals and drug dealers that are very grim and to see one that wasn’t was a breath of fresh air.

In the film Inside Man, the movie sporadically jumps into the future with interviews with the hostages to set up the upcoming scene. This film makes use of a similar technique. Throughout American Made, commentaries about what Seal was thinking and doing are interjected between scenes to prepare the audience for the scene ahead. I thought Inside Man should have made more use of this approach to telling its story, whereas here I think it is used the right amount. It never takes away from the experience too much and gives the audience a better insight into Seal’s character. Since this is a movie about Seal, it only helps better our understanding of him.

I thought American Made was GOOD πŸ™‚ Most biopics have a hard time keeping my attention it seems but I didn’t have that feeling during this movie. The lighthearted nature of such a dark movie and the energy from Tom Cruise and Domhnall Gleeson makes it enjoyable. While I don’t think I will go out of my way to see it, I won’t shy away either if I happen to come across it.


Cast & Crew
Doug Liman – Director
Gary Spinelli – Writer
Christophe Beck – Composer

Tom Cruise – Barry Seal
Domhnall Gleeson – Monty ‘Schafer’
Sarah Wright – Lucy Seal
Caleb Landry Jones – JB
Mauricio Mejia – Pablo Escobar
Alejandro Edda – Jorge Ochoa
Fredy Yate Escobar – Carlos Ledher
Jesse Plemons – Sheriff Downing
Jayma Mays – Dana Sibota
Benito Martinez – James Rangel
E. Roger Mitchell – Agent Craig McCall
Jed Rees – Louis Finkle
Robert Farrior – Oliver North
Alberto Ospino – Manuel Noriega
Daniel Lugo – Adolfo Calero
Jayson Warner Smith – Bill Cooper (Snowbird #1)
Mark McCullogh – Pete (Snowbird #2)

Lightning Review: The Mummy (2017)

The Mummy (2017) movie posterSynopsis
Nick Morrison (Tom Cruise) and his friend Chris Vail (Jake Johnson) accidentally uncover the tomb of Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella), an ancient Egyptian princess who had been buried for fear of her supernatural powers. When Ahmanet’s powers begin to return, Nick is chosen to finish the ritual Ahmanet started before she was entombed and he is thrust into an unknown world of monsters and dark creatures.

As a cinefile, it is usually very easy to say whether or not I liked a movie but sometimes it can be hard to determine the why. This is the case for me with The Mummy. On the surface, it has many elements that I like in a film. Tom Cruise brings excitement to the action scenes. Jake Johnson, one of my favorite actors from New Girl, is a good comedic relief character, even if he does seem slightly out of place. The gorgeous Sofia Boutella as the titular mummy has an air of terror around her and gives a horror factor to the movie. So there are all these film elements that I enjoy, so why didn’t I enjoy this one? Maybe the issue is that I didn’t know what kind of movie I was watching. There were action pieces, humorous moments, and horror situations. There were all of these components that I couldn’t figure out what this movie was trying to do. Was it trying to be exciting? Scary? Funny? Individually, these parts are good and enjoyable here but when put together, they lose their strength and make for an inconsistent experience.

I thought The Mummy was OK 😐 When I hear β€œThe Mummy,” I always think of the 1999 Brendan Frasier version. What keeps bringing me back to that version is it is adventurous and fun and cheesy and it knows it and embraces it. This movie tries to incorporate some of that but also tries to go back to its horror roots of the 1930s original. The final product is a movie that doesn’t know what kind of movie it wants to be and it hurts the overall experience.


Cast & Crew
Alex Kurtzman – Director / Story
David Koepp – Screenplay
Christopher McQuarrie – Screenplay
Dylan Kussman – Screenplay
Jon Spaihts – Story
Jenny Lumet – Story
Brian Tyler – Composer

Tom Cruise – Nick Morton
Annabelle Wallis – Jenny Halsey
Sofia Boutella – Ahmanet
Jake Johnson – Chris Vail
Russell Crowe – Dr. Henry Jekyll
Courtney B. Vance – Colonel Greenway
Marwan Kenzari – Malik

Here’s Jack Blogathon 2017: A Few Good Men

Gill, from Realweegiemidget Reviews, is a huge fan of Jack Nicholson. To celebrate, she has invited bloggers to review as many Nicholson films as possible.Β A Few Good Men is my entry into her three-day celebration. Click on the banner below to head over to her site to see the rest of the blogathon entries for today.

A Few Good Men movie posterHere's Jack Blogathon 2017 BannerSynopsis
Navy defense attorney Daniel Kaffee (Tom Cruise), along with JoAnne Galloway (Demi Moore) and Sam Weinberg (Kevin Pollack), are assigned to prove that Harold Dawson (Wolfgang Bodison) and Louden Downey (James Marshall), two marines accused of murder, are innocent and were merely acting under orders.

I will begin by saying courtroom dramas aren’t really my type of movie. I don’t find them very exciting and think more often than not they are fairly predicable. A Few Good Men is a perfect example of this. Story-wise, I didn’t feel invested in the case that the three attorneys were working on. And honestly, I didn’t care for Tom Cruise’s character, Daniel Kaffee. He is the skilled-but-arrogant character that Cruise played often earlier in his career but it doesn’t feel like he grows very much by the end of the film. His biggest step is actually taking the case instead of trying to make a deal and that happens fairly early. Which brings me to my next point: this movie feels too long. Although, that might be because I just wanted to get through the movie quicker since I wasn’t very interested.

The only thing that really kept me invested in this film was the cast. The main three, Tom Cruise, Demi Moore, and Kevin Pollak, had such great chemistry. Despite my lack of interest in Cruise’s character, I enjoyed his performance. He brought a lot of energy and emotion to the part. The same goes for Moore. Her performance was so emotionally driven that she made for a good counterpart to Cruise. The dialogue between Cruise, Moore, and Pollak felt very real and genuine. Kudos to Aaron Sorkin for writing such believable, and not too ridiculous banter, between the leads. Despite not being in the film for much time, Jack Nicholson is the standout of this movie. The final scene with Nicholson and Cruise battling it out in the courtroom was absolutely riveting and almost made up for the dullness of the rest of the film.

I thought A Few Good Men was OK 😐 My lack of interest in courtroom dramas aside, I found this to be somewhat enjoyable. Although I didn’t much care for Cruise’s character and felt it ran a little longer than necessary, the performances from all of the actors, especially from the main three and Jack Nicholson, kept my attention long enough to finish watching.


Cast & Crew
Rob Reiner – Director
Aaron Sorkin – Writer
Marc Shaiman – Composer

Tom Cruise – Lt. Daniel Kaffee
Demi Moore – Lt. Cdr. JoAnne Galloway
Kevin Pollak – Lt. (J.G.) Sam Weinberg
Kevin Bacon – Capt. Jack Ross
Jack Nicholson – Col. Nathan R. Jessup
Kiefer Sutherland – 2nd Lt. Jonathan Kendrick
JT Walsh – Lt. Col. Matthew Andrew Markinson
Wolfgang Bodison – Lance Cpl. Harold W. Dawson
James Marshall – Pfc. Louden Downey
JA Preston – Judge Julius Alexander Randolph

Ultimate 80s Blogathon Kickoff: Top Gun

It’s finally here! The Ultimate 80s Blogathon has arrived.Β  Starting today and running for the next four weeks, Kim and I will bombard your news feed with movies that our fellow bloggers have chosen as the best of the decade.Β  If you don’t already follow Kim, go give her a follow so you can read all the entries of the blogathon.Β  If you do miss any, Kim has a running list on her site here.

The response has been overwhelming and we can’t thank you guys enough for participating.Β  We hope you have as much fun reading these reviews as we have.Β  The submissions have covered a wide range of genres and styles from the 80s so I think you will find something you will enjoy.Β  Kim gave her choice earlier today, now it is my turn.Β  Be sure to be by tomorrow for the next entry in the blogathon.

Top Gun movie posterSynopsis
United States Navy airmen Maverick (Tom Cruise) and Goose (Anthony Edwards) are chosen to go to the Navy’s premier school for Navy fighter pilots: Top Gun.

I’m going to go about this review a little bit different than my normal reviews. Since this is my entry for the Ultimate 80s Blogathon, I’m going to list the reasons why I think it is the ultimate 80s movie.

  1. Tom Cruise. Tom Cruise’s career started in the early 80s. Risky Business is where he began to get some traction but Cruise didn’t really become a household name until Top Gun. It would be a little bit longer until he became as popular as other action stars of the era, such as Sylvester Stallone or Arnold Schwarzenegger but he definitely was on his way and it began here.Tom Cruise in Top Gun
  2. The Music. You could say that the entire decade of the 80s was defined by hair bands and the rock guitar. The Top Gun Anthem immediately invokes feelings of a different era.

    Kenny Loggins was at a career high in the 80s as well. He did songs for films such as Caddyshack and Footloose. His single, Danger Zone, is almost as iconic as the film itself.
  3. The action. I really like action films of the 80s because of the camera work during the fight sequences. Despite most of the action taking place in the air, the camera allows you to see what is going on. I don’t think shaky-cam was really a thing back then, but the setting would be ripe for the technique in today’s cinema. Thankfully, the movie is filmed in a way that doesn’t become too disorienting.
  4. The script. I don’t know what it is about action films but they have some of the cheesiest lines, especially when trying to throw a romantic sub-plot into the mix. The thing with Top Gun is the action sequences will make you jump from your seat with excitement but the dialogue will leave you scratching your head.
  5. The mustaches. Seriously, you only find mustaches like those on police officers, porn stars, and pictures from the 80s. If you don’t know anything about the setting of the movie and you see a screen shot like these, you instantly know it’s from the 80s.

I thought Top Gun was GREAT :-D. Tom Cruise and Anthony Edwards make such a fun pair. The high octane action was very well shot, keeping the camera tight and focused, even while filming fighter planes roaring through the sky. Kenny Loggin’s β€œDanger Zone” and Harold Faltermeyer’s rocking score just make you want to tap your foot and bang your head rock-n-roll style while watching the film. Top Gun is undeniably corny, from the script to the action. It is the epitome of an 80s movie, thus being my pick for the blogathon.

Favorite Quote
Maverick: I feel the need…
Maverick and Goose: …The need for speed.


Cast & Crew
Tony Scott – Director
Jim Cash – Writer
Jack Epps Jr. – Writer
Harold Faltermeyer – Composer

Tom Cruise – Maverick
Anthony Edwards – Goose
Kelly McGillis – Charlie
Val Kilmer – Iceman
Rick Rossovich – Slider
Tom Skerritt – Viper
Michael Ironside – Jester
Tim Robbins – Merlin
John Stockwell – Cougar
Whip Hubley – Hollywood
Barry Tubb – Wolfman
Meg Ryan – Carole
Randall Brady – Lt. Davis

Valkyrie Review

This review was originally posted for MovieRob‘s war-themed genre grandeur.

Valkyrie movie posterSynopsis
Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg (Tom Cruise) is recruited by a secret organization trying to overthrow Hitler’s Germany and end World War II.

Valkyrie‘s trailer makes the film seem like it is more of a thriller than it really is. The film starts with an action scene on a German military base in Africa that gets ambushed. It is during this attack that Stauffenberg sustains his injuries. Before hand, we get a glimpse into his character and the angst he feels towards Hitler’s Germany. After this initial action sequence the movie slows down. A lot. Although the next hour and a half may move slowly, this time is used to great effect, building the major characters.

When the coup finally begins, it is the most exciting part of the movie. That’s when the movie becomes a thriller. Since this is based on a true story during World War II, the final outcome of the events is known, but the film still manages to keep me on the edge of my seat, wondering if Stauffenberg and his crew can somehow pull it off. When the movie is in the midst of the excitement, it just fizzles and all of a sudden the action is over. For as dramatic as the actual coup is, the action abruptly ends. It’s pretty jarring.

Part of why Valkyrie is ends up being fun despite its pace is because of the cast. I recognized many faces from the Pirates of the Caribbean series (Bill Nighy, Kevin McNally, Tom Hollander, and David Schofield) and most of the cast from other films. There were only a handful of the main cast I had not seen before. The entire cast does well with their parts, but I think the stand out is Carice van Houten as Nina von Stauffenberg. Although she doesn’t have much screen time, she shows a great range of emotion to her character in what little time she is on screen.

One of my complaints with this movie is that most of the cast speaks in their normal accents rather than German accents. With several different accents prominent in the film, primarily British and American, it can be difficult to get into the German setting. In movies like K-19: The Widowmaker, the actors use accents of the country their characters’ are from (in K-19‘s case, Russian). I know it’s small but I think it adds that extra special touch to a film.

Valkyrie may not be the thriller it’s advertised to be, but it still manages to shine because of the great cast, particularly van Houten. Even though I knew the final outcome, I found myself hoping that maybe, just maybe, they could still pull it off.



Cast & Crew
Bryan Singer – Director
Christopher McQuarrie – Writer
Nathan Alexander – Writer
John Ottman – Composer

Tom Cruise – Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg
Kenneth Branagh – Major-General Henning von Tresckow
Bill Nighy – General Friedrich Olbricht
Tom Wilkinson – General Friedrich Fromm
Carice van Houten – Nina von Stauffenberg
Thomas Kretschmann – Major Otto Ernst Remer
Terence Stamp – Ludwig Beck
Eddie Izzard – General Erich Fellgiebel
Kevin McNally – Dr. Carl Goerdeler
Christian Berkel – Colonel Mertz von Quirnheim
David Bamber – Adolf Hitler
Tom Hollander – Colonel Heinz Brandt
David Schofield – Erwin von Witzleben
Werner Daehn – Major Ernst John von Freyend
Mathias Schweighofer – Lieutenant Herber
Kenneth Cranham – Field Marshall Wilhelm Keitel

Jack Reacher Review

Jack Reacher movie posterSynopsis
When a sniper kills five random people, the police investigation quickly leads to Army veteran James Barr (Joseph Sikora). But Barr insists he is innocent and tells the District Attorney, Alex Rodin (Richard Jenkins), to bring in Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise) to investigate the case. When Reacher finally arrives, he agrees to help Helen Rodin (Rosamund Pike), Barr’s defense attorney, find out the truth about the murders. After looking at the evidence, Reacher comes to one conclusion: Barr is innocent.

Jack Reacher is based on the book One Shot, written by Lee Childs and the ninth novel in the Jack Reacher series. I haven’t read any of the Jack Reacher novels (Or heard of them until this movie honestly), so I have no idea how it compares to the source material. As a film, however, Jack Reacher had the potential to be a great thriller, but instead it drags its feet and takes its time to get to the climax, and has a difficult time keeping my attention.

Tom Cruise plays the part of Jack Reacher well. I have seen quite a bit of comparisons between Cruise’s Reacher and his book counterpart. My Grandpa has read Childs’ novels and explained to me that Reacher was a guy who sticks out of the crowd but looks like someone you don’t really want to pick a fight with. Or according to the internet, a blonde haired, 6’5” man who is built like a brick house. This is a stark contrast to Cruise’s dark haired, shorter build. But to be honest, I think Cruise’s smaller, less intimidating stature fits the ghost persona described in the movie perfectly. Reacher as an average-sized man can blend in anywhere much easier than a taller-than-normal man can.

We quickly learn who Reacher is within the first few minutes in a quick expose from David Oyelowo’s Detective Emerson. He explains who Reacher is and a little bit of his motive. Then the rest of the movie is used to show why this guy is such a bad-ass. At first I thought this was an indication that the whole movie would move along quickly, but it was a mistake to think that. More on that in just a moment.

There were a few good action sequences throughout the movie, particularly a car chase about two-thirds through the film. However, the final fight, the action sequence that is supposed the be the biggest scene, felt lackluster. The lead-in sequence was pretty cool, but there wasn’t much to the fight itself. But I guess since it was billed as more of a thriller than an action movie that isn’t too surprising.

I felt there was a lot of unnecessary plot that could have been removed. The film tries to stretch out the investigation and final reveal to keep the viewers invested. By doing so, it adds many extra elements that make the plot needlessly bloated. Jack Reacher has a run time of little over two hours, and most of that time feels like it is dragging on. If this movie was closer to an hour and a half or so, it most likely would have been more engaging.

Jack Reacher could have been a fantastic thriller, but instead took way too long to build up to the underwhelming final scenes. There were several plot elements that could have been removed, helping the movie to move along quicker. However, I did enjoy Cruise as Jack Reacher, as he fits into the idea the character is a ghost more than his book version. For all its faults, Jack Reacher is a decent thriller that isn’t a bad way to spend two hours.


Review requested by JavaGirl. Check out her amazing blog at JavaGirl’s Life.