I think we’re wasting money on all the “Just Say No” programs we think are going to keep kids off drugs. Two hours with someone like Dicky Eklund (Christian Bale) should convince anyone that drugs are a one-way ticket to nowhere. The first time we see him in The Fighter, the ex-boxer is living for two things: his rose-colored memories of the time he knocked down Sugar Ray Leonard and his next vial of crack.
Despite the “One Degree of Marky-Mark,” this film is not quite the rip-off of The Departed that it appears to be on the surface, but it’s not different enough to make it worth almost two hours of your time. The first-rate cast gives it an illusion of substance that is slightly deceptive, but great performances do not compensate for the run-of-the-mill cop story with a weak villain.
As an action film, Shooter is made with great professionalism, using top flight actors and superb production values. None of this disguises the fact that the story is assembled out of well-used spare parts from other movies, not all of which fit together neatly. What emerges is a Frankenstein’s monster that photographs extremely well.
If F-words were horses, Martin Scorcese’s The Departed would be a stampede. Of course, it wouldn’t be a Scorcese film without an intensive barrage of R-rated language and this is a prime example of the director in his natural environment, among cops and wise guys and navigating a morally ambiguous urban landscape.
Scorcese has spent the last decade away from his natural milieu, possibly pursuing a level of artsy respectability that would earn him that long denied Best Director Oscar. That makes it someone ironic that he finally won the award with a lurid, violent but insightful crime film that played to his strengths.
It’s easier to get into the story logic of Four Brothers if you remind yourself that your watching a western transplanted to the urban streets of inner city Detroit, and that the original starred John Wayne. This 2005 John Singleton film is an update of 1965’s The Sons of Katie Elder.