Archive for Crime

Outrage

Directed by: Takeshi Kitano(Beat Takeshi)

Written by: Takeshi Kitano

Produced by: Masayuki Mori, Takio Yoshida

Starring:  Takeshi Kitano, Kippei Shiina, Ryo Kase, Tomokazu Miura, Jun Kunimura,  Tetta Sugimoto, Takashi Tsukamoto

Language:  Japanese with English subtitles

Run Time: 109 minutes

 

Finally Beat Takeshi has returned, much to the excitement of his fans, to the dark and shadowy world of the Yakuza in his latest film Outrage.  This isn’t your typical Yakuza film where the characters are disciplined, classy and somewhat respectable; instead, Outrage is a louder movie where the characters lack all subtlety, are cold and embrace their inner asshole (the way Takeshi says asshole is one of his trademarks).  Outrage experiments with a different sort of style where there isn’t a single protagonist but a group of villains selfishly misleading each other in order take control of the wealth that organized crime has offer.

 

Outrage does a lot of things well, such as the photography or some of the creativity in the way the characters are killed, but does some things extremely badly.  For instance, there doesn’t seem to be a coherent plot due to the fact that there is no main character.   At some points it seems like more of a soap opera geared towards men where one sneaky man pulls the strings of other characters much in the same way a cunning woman character would; using a manly version of that he said she said type of manipulation.

 

Now that the main problem with the movie is covered we can get into all of the good parts like the violence.  Everybody knows that gangsters are supposed to be extremely ruthless and the characters reflect that as they act more like psychopaths without remorse than productive members of society.  The lack of human decency leads to some very innovative ways for the characters to maim and kill each other.  Some of the action is cold, some of it makes you cringe, and some of it leaves appreciating the ability of Takeshi to do hurt people in creative ways.

 

The acting is superb and there’re a lot of familiar faces in the cast.  Jun Kunimura has appeared in close to 100 films and TV shows including Kill Bill vol 1, Ichi the Killer and Audition.  Musase is played by Renji Ishibashi who also had a role in Audition, Dead or Alive and over 200 other roles.  When listing actors in the film, you can’t forget to mention Beat Takeshi who’s stared and directed in many of his own films and television shows.  In fact all of the actors have quite a long resume which isn’t surprising since all of the characters are fun to watch, especially some of their facial expressions.

 

Outrage is a hit or miss film, it’s a hit if you like Japanese gangsters and gratuitous violence but a miss if you want a movie with a deep plot and likeable characters.  Sometimes it’s best to sit back and enjoy the show and that’s exactly what Outrage is good for.  It’s violent, silly, has big stars and there’s no excuse for Takeshi fans to miss it.

 

(6/10)

Brooklyn's Finest

Brooklyn's Finest

Directed by: Antoine Fuqua

Written by: Michael C. Martin

Produced by: Elie Cohn, Basil Iwanyk, John Langley, Avi Lerner, John Thompson

Starring: Richard Gere. Don Cheadle, Ethan Hawke, Wesley Snipes

Run Time: 132 Min

The best way to accurately describe Brooklyn’s Finest is every bad cop movie rolled into one film, with all of the personality, intrigue, comedy and likable characters sucked out of it. Brooklyn’s Finest offers nothing but stereotypical characters, bad dialog and a story that’s so predictable that the ending wouldn’t catch a 5 year old off guard. Now some people would describe this story as a tragedy but in all of those memorable stories and plays there’re actually characters that the viewers like. When you make a movie it’s important to remember that in every story you need to have a protagonist that the audience can identify with but that basic fact was forgotten by the writer Michael C. Martin. You’d think that since this really is a story about 3 police officers, that at least one aspect of the story characters would be interesting but Brooklyn’s Finest strikes out each time.

The story starts out with Sal, the bad cop, talking to a man who explains the “righter and wronger” reasons why people do the bad things (which may be the plot of the whole movie). The writer of this movie would like you to believe that Sal is a good guy who’s in a bad position in order to justify his actions but that doesn’t really stick. The problem with Sal is that he’s just a dumbed down version of an interesting character. His whole story revolves around his poor family that lives in a house with wood mold in the walls which endangers their health. Sal already has 2 children and has twins on the way because he isn’t smart enough to use birth control when he already can’t support the kids he has. Since a police officer can’t make money by taking side jobs or working overtime; the only solution to Sal’s problems is for him to rob drug dealers and to buy a new house with the fruits of his labor.

Things to look for in Sal’s story:

His confessional, he talks to a priest about how he needs help from god.

The lamest poker game scene in a movie ever made.

Next we’re introduced to Tango, the undercover cop who’s in way over his head. Tango is the closest we have to a likeable character but he still falls short in that department. After a short stay in prison, where he gains street cred, Tango’s back on the street tasked with infiltrating the cities inner city gangs posing as a drug trafficker. The stress of working undercover starts to effect his view of the world and his job to the point where he’s worried he’ll become a criminal himself. His boss gives him a deal where he can get off the street but he has to get evidence about a man who saved his life while he was in prison, leaving him struggling between loyalty and his desire to leave the undercover life behind.

Things to look for in Tango’s Story:

He’s in too deep maaaannnnnn.

The shady FBI woman.

His friend dies as a result of their drug dealing.

His supervisor gives him a “This is what you wanted” speech.

As if two lackluster characters weren’t enough, enter Eddie, the 22 year police veteran who’s about to retire in 7 days. Eddie is quite possibly the most useless and uninteresting cop character ever created. His own boss tells him that he’s basically a failure and Eddie only proves that to the viewer throughout the whole movie. In his first scene, Eddie wakes up and puts his revolver in his mouth but the gun doesn’t go off as he slowly pulls the trigger back(later we learn that he doesn’t keep his gun loaded). How lame is that? Why would anyone care about a boring, unmotivated depressed police officer who isn’t even man enough to shoot himself? It’s pathetic. You might be thinking to yourself that since he’s suicidal, he’s going to end up proving himself in some blaze of glory that will make up for having to watch him for 2 hours but, even in his shining moment at the climax of the movie he proves himself to be quite frankly, worthless and unexciting. Maybe the audience is supposed to be moved by his staring into space and walking away from conflict. Eddie is one character whose role would be better left in a garbage can next to the writer’s desk.

Things to look for in Eddie’s story:

The stupid look on his face which makes him look like he’s constantly in deep thought but we all know he’s completely useless.

He’s assigned to teach a rookie cop the basics of the job but the rookie course messes something important up like all rookies do.

His only love is from a hooker who doesn’t even want him.

He can’t even kill himself.

The presentation of this whole movie is horrifically bad. Throughout the entire movie there’s always some dramatic music playing which is meant to emphasize the internal conflict that the characters are supposed to have. If you can get past the music, you’ll have to deal with the story itself which is full of holes and defies logic. Even if by some strange miracle you can stand the story, the characters come to your aid and quickly ruin anything that’s likeable left in the movie. Just for a bit of overkill, if you try look past all of the flaws with the music, the main characters and the bad story the writer has an ace up his sleeve: all the supporting actors who are all rip offs of characters in better movies.

Brooklyn’s Finest is the worst cop movie I’ve ever seen. There’s absolutely nothing original or interesting about the characters and while the writers should be sued for plagiarizing every aspect of the story from better movies, they even manage to ruin the stereotypes we’ve grown to love over the years. Even the ending to the movie was disappointing. Why this movie is getting a 7.4 rating with 3353 votes on IMDB mystifies me. We all know how the movie ends, all the characters end up in the same place at the same time. If you want to watch a cop movie you’d be safer going on Netflix and renting Lethal Weapon, where the suicidal cop does something exciting, or Dirty Harry instead of a two hour long bore fest like Brooklyn’s Finest.

(1/5)

Bones


Produced by: Kathy Reichs

Written by: Hart Hanson, Kathy Reichs

Starring: Emily Deschanel, David Boreanaz, Michaela Conlin, T.J. Thyne

What do you get when you cross snarky women forensic anthropologists, a former army sniper trying to make up for his past by working for the FBI and dialog that would make sane any man leave the room?  You get the first few episodes of Bones.

Bones is basically a version of CSI geared towards women.  The main character Dr. Temperance Brennan, nicknamed Bones, is the world’s premier expert on forensics, an expert in martial arts, a famous novel writer and an orphan too which is all made clear within the 20 minutes of the first episode of the series.  With all of the education and knowledge that Bones has you’d figure that she’d have to have some flaws and we aren’t disappointed with her inability to communicate with regular people which leads to hilarious and totally “unpredictable” situations which are totally predictable.

Every strong woman needs a strong man and that’s where Special Agent Seeley Booth comes in.  Booth is witty, cocky, and handsome and of course street smart which makes him the perfect counterpart for the socially inept Bones.  Booth’s past, where he was a sniper, makes him a man’s man but that doesn’t stop him from being sensitive too.  In fact, if Booth was any good at marketing he’d have a picture of himself smiling on a stick of Secret deodorant:  “Booth, strong enough for a man but made for a woman.”  Since he is so charming he’s already got a hot lawyer girlfriend which of course won’t last long since it wouldn’t be a happy ending if Bones doesn’t get her man.

After about five minutes of watching Bones it became apparent that I would have to take notes so I accurately list all of my problems with the characters and writing on the show.  A criminal could only be so lucky to have this team of crack detectives investigate them.  While the gritty stuff behind how the criminal was found was interesting, namely the forensics, the lack of due process and how the evidence was collected would be enough to nullify the cases in the real world.  Bones doesn’t let a meager thing like a search warrant stop her from getting her man but instead adheres to the end justifies the means philosophy.

Here’re some other problems I had with the show:

  1. The use Elmer’s glue to rebuild a shattered skull.  For some reason that doesn’t seem right.
  2. Stereotypical Arab suicide bombers.  This series is released by Fox but they could at least put effort into the terrorists.  Why would one bomber sabotage and blow an accomplice up which would draw attention to their plans before they’re carried out?
  3. Homeland Security officials don’t understand that DNA can be used to identify remains.
  4. One of the forensic team members can’t handle working with freshly dead bodies.
  5. Super forensic holographic technology which can create a perfect image of the victim with the push of a button which only their lab has.
  6. Bones repeatedly tells the suspect before they’re arrested details of the case which should kept confidential.  On one occasion, she lets an entire town know the details of the case.
  7. Did I mention the search warrant thing?  To the credit of the show, they did mention needing one to conduct a search about 7 episodes in.

Needless to say, the only entertainment I got from watching the first few episodes was making my list about the problems with the show.

Luckily by the fifth episode the writers must figured out that men wouldn’t watch the show the way it was and gave more of a focus to the forensic science and shifted away from the characters witty personalities.  Since Kathy Reichs, the producer of the show, is actually a renowned forensic anthropologist her input gives the science behind the show a realistic feeling.  Even though I didn’t care about the characters personal lives the science kept me entertained while I made my way through the episodes.

In the end Bones has a lot of flaws which I personally can’t overlook but I can also see how people, especially women, would like the show.  The scientific aspects of the show are very interesting, but the abilities and knowledge the characters have make them seem less than real.   The stories have many covenant conclusions where the main characters walk in on the criminals trying to cover their tracks because of some hunch they had.  Bones is the kind of show that you would watch because it’s on not because you particularly care about seeing it.  If Bones was a book, I could imagine finding it at a Laundromat next to a large pink laundry basket.

(2.5/5)