A handful of seasoned Hollywood action stars got their chance to fight terrorists on a plane including Bruce Willis, Chuck Norris, Kurt Russell, Harrison Ford, Liam Neeson, Samuel L. Jackson (snakes count as terrorists, right?) and in Passenger 57 Wesley Snipes gets to as well in a kind of Coors Lite version of the aesthetic that is a bit more low-key when compared to the others but still fun. The real standout here is underrated Bruce Payne as some sort of super hyper mega terrorist, an ice cold aristocratic mad dog limey bastard who is being transported to execution IN FRIGGIN COACH and only guarded by one ignoramus cop. Why the rampant negligence in the face of such obvious nefariousness? Why, Wesley’s intrepid Air Marshal can step in to beat seven shades shades of shit out of Payne and all his varied cohorts of course, played by everyone from Elizabeth Hurley to Michael ‘Deputy Hawk’ Horse, how’s that for unintentionally eclectic casting. Throw in a reliably twitchy Tom Sizemore as Snipes’s best bud boss and Bruce Greenwood as a smarmy Airline CEO and you’ve got quite the roster. But how’s the action? Decent, yet nothings a standout and even the final villain death feels a tiny bit overwhelming like air being sucked out of the room (mild spoiler). Snipes is always a badass though and holds his own, I just feel like this would have been more impressive with a bigger budget, a longer runtime and some more chutzpah, bells and whistles and over the top carnage in the fashion of.. well what’s an airplane set action film I haven’t mentioned yet… Con Air? That’s a benchmark and hard to top. Anyways this one is a decent distraction while doing chores or whatnot.
In most movies The Devil is a dude, but what if ol’ scratch appeared as a super attractive girl, namely Elizabeth Hurley? The power of persuasion would be given a significant boost as it does for Brendan Fraser’s Elliott, a hapless schmuck with no friends and no girlfriend. Harold Ramis’s Bedazzled is a lighthearted, irrelevant piece of leisure that doesn’t take itself too seriously or think too hard about its central premise, and nor should the viewer. Fraser is a whirlwind of physical comedy, beginning Elliot’s arc as one of those horrifically animated dweebs who everyone in the workplace avoids. When Hurley’s smokin’ hot Satan tags him as the perfect sap, he’s given seven wishes in exchange for his soul and the opportunity to win over a colleague (Frances O’Connor) who he has always loved. Cue a series of increasingly hysterical vignettes in which he tries his best to distill just what it is that girls find attractive while Hurley keeps cleverly sabotaging his efforts and making things go wrong, sardonically commenting on his plight from a female perspective. This is a very entertaining experience because Fraser, ever a cartoonish comic dynamo, gets to play like seven different characters including a ‘sensitive’ ginger, a flamboyant intellectual, Colombian drug lord and, my favourite, a seven foot tall NBA player complete with white dude black guy hair. There’s also a sweet, happy last minute ending that some say is tacked on but honestly Elliott, despite being a bit of a doorknob, is an ultimately very sweet guy who learns along the way exactly what the would might be and that it ain’t worth trading for nothing, he kind of deserves a a kickback after all that. I’m aware this is a remake and haven’t seen the 60’s version but will get to it, but found this quite the fun film!
I love Kathryn Bigelow’s early films from the 80’s and 90’s, she’s such a fantastic storyteller when she sticks to genre stuff, but I’m not quite sure what went down with The Weight Of Water, a muddy, confusing doldrum of a thriller that drifts by heading nowhere, with no real rush to get there either. I’m assuming there’s a level of clarity and coherence in the source novel by Anita Shreve that just didn’t translate onto the screen too well, but what the film lacks in discernible themes and substance it at least makes up for a bit in the production design and visual department. Two stories unfold simultaneously here: sometime in the 1800’s, restless housewife (Sarah Polley is all kinds of creepy) lusts for her brother in a rural township on the blustery New Hampshire Coast. A mysterious stranger (Ciaran Hinds) enters their lives and bears witness to a violent, romantically motivated double ax murder that culminates in a freakish storm and ends their story, becoming infamous throughout the centuries to follow. Meanwhile in present day, a keen photojournalist (Catherine McCormack) peruses that very same coast on a yacht, researching the long past events that led to the horrible crime. She’s joined by her listless husband (Sean Penn), his brother (Josh Lucas) and foxy girlfriend (Elizabeth Hurley). They start to forge an equally tense romantic triangle that is somehow supposed to mirror the past in profound or symbolic ways but doesn’t feel like anything deeper than narrative coincidence. The two stories have little to do with each other beyond happenstance and are constantly at odds in tone and intent. The Sarah Polley one works better but only just, having a more specific atmospheric mood, also because she’s just a terrific actress who puts on a dangerous, unnervingly introverted show. I’d like to read the novel one day and see if there’s more to be found there or some lynchpin of content that missed the boat from paper to celluloid, but as it stands this film is a hollow blast of nothing, and the only weight to be found is in the title.