Cassius Green (Lakeith Stanfield) is an African American resident of Oakland who works for a telemarketing company. When he is taught the power of his “White Voice”, he is promoted to a Power Caller and sells arms and slave labor to foreign countries. Meanwhile, his girlfriend, friends, and coworkers are striking for a living wage. Boots Riley writes and directs Sorry to Bother You, his ambitious but not entirely successful film debut.
Sorry to Bother You is a political satire that covers a lot of ground, including race, capitalism run amok, and our obsession with social media, to name a few. While the first hour of this 1h 40m feature is fantastic, it’s when Armie Hammer shows up as Steve Lift, the CEO of the corporation that runs the telemarketing company in addition to selling weapons and slaves, the movie takes a hard dive. Normally, I would lay the blame entirely on Armie whose beautiful, yet vacuous screen presence has ruined more than one film. However, in addition to Hammer, the script and the pacing of the movie goes off the rails, as Riley introduces a sci-fi element, while shifting the focus to the rift that is forming between Cassius and his girlfriend, Detroit (Tessa Thompson). It also doesn’t help that Riley considers Michel Gondry one of his biggest influences. Gondry is a critical darling, but this particular critic finds his films scattered and overwrought, at best.
The pace of the movie picks back up in the third act, but the damage had already been done, and left me checking my watch for the last twenty minutes. It’s a shame, because movies like this aren’t made often. Hollywood has a certain mold for films that feature a black cast that it rarely strays from. Sorry to Bother You breaks that mold and calls it out for the racism it’s rooted in.
Judd: 2 ½ stars
Swanner: Dwayne Johnson plays Will Sawyer, ex FBI now working as a security assessor for skyscrapers. On assignment in Hong Kong, Sawyer finds himself in the middle of a terrorist plot as the owner of the building he’s there to assess holds data that bad guys would kill for. A fire is set to destroy the 200 story building, but little do the terrorists know that Sawyer’s family is in the building, and our hero will do anything he can to save them.
I probably should say that he does everything to save them. As in all big summer action films, there is a lot of over the top stunts and special effects. Director/Screenwriter Rawson Marshall Thurber gives us a film that would have Irwin Allen smiling, not just because of the obvious disaster set up, but more because of the “all in” attitude. A lot of that can also be attributed to Johnson, who never makes us feel that he’s not giving us 100%.
I find myself defending the summer movies a lot because I love them and remember as a kid I couldn’t wait for them to open. After all, summer movies were designed to entertain the youth, as they have three months to kill, and what better way than a cool theatre and the chance to see shark attacks, aliens, and even a dinosaur or two. Neve Campbell gets to play action star as Sawyer’s wife, and she holds her own against Johnson. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still Johnson’s film and why he’s today’s go to movie star.
Swanner: 3 stars
Swanner: As the Mexican cartels have stopped trafficking drugs into our country and started trafficking people over the US border, federal Agent Matt Graver (Josh Brolin) re-teams with for hire assassin Alejandro (Benicio Del Toro). Trying to turn the cartels against each other, Graver’s team kidnaps Isabel Reyes (Isabela Moner), the daughter of the Reyes cartel, making it look like a rival cartel. The Reyes cartel is the same cartel who killed Alejandro’s family.
The film is less confusing than the first one, but with that being said I still don’t understand how these mercenaries and cartels get away with what they do. I do miss the Emily Blunt character because she seemed as confused as I was in the original. So, I did feel on my own this time out. Taylor Sheridan’s script is as tight as ever. He really is one of the best screenwriters working today. Brolin and Del Toro are as good as ever, and Moner holds her own standing up to these movie stars. Italian director, Stefano Sollima, makes his American directorial debut with this film, proving it never hurts to make your debut with one of Sheridan’s scripts. Sollima does make the change of directors seem seamless.
Never a big fan of gangster films, Sicario: Day of the Soldado definitely has that vibe. It’s violent and unapologetic. It’s also very timely watching the cartel moving people into the country, as this issue has become so magnified in the American south west. The film is rated R for the graphic violence, so those who are squeamish might want to skip this film. It is nice to have a non superhero/animated offering during the summer.
Swanner: 3 stars
Swanner: The film starts three years after our last encounter with Jurassic World: where the animals were left to do what they wanted with the island. After the island’s volcano begins to erupt, Owen (Chris Pratt) and Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) are sent to save the remaining dinosaurs from another extinction. As the volcano prepares to blow it’s top, only a few dinos are saved. Even with all this good will, others are looking to profit from the remaining dinosaurs.
J.A. Bayona brings the same kind of intensity he brought to The Impossible, where he made a tsunami scarier than any T-Rex. Much like the original Jurassic Park 2, act one is on the island and act two has us moving dinosaurs. The third act is your standard “dinosaurs get loose and eat bad guys”. I liked that they used the same writers, Derek Connolly and Colin Trevorrow, because it feels like a genuine extension of the last film and not the silliness we experienced in San Diego in that second Jurassic Park.
This is a big ole summer popcorn movie. It’s loud, it’s scary, and there is never a dull moment. It almost feels like an old serial where we can’t go 10 minutes without something major happening. Isn’t that what a true summer movie is all about? A handsome leading man with an equally strong female lead, and of course a screaming girl whenever something unexpected happens…which is about every 10 minutes. My suggestion is to find your nearest air conditioned multiplex, get your concessions, and sit back for some fun.
Swanner: 3 stars