Films featuring
Xander Berkley

Taken

While shooting Taken, Liam Neeson thought this movie would be a straight-to-video actioner, but he was getting paid to work in Paris, so it was a fair trade under the circumstances. Based on the crudest outline of the plot, it’s easy to see where he would make that mistake.

What makes this movie work, and elevated it to the cinematic first team, was an emotionally valid setup and an actor with the chops for the important father/daughter dynamic, and who can still credibly bring off the physical requirements the action scenes.

Continue reading

Terminator 2: Judgment Day

Terminator 2: Judgment Day

Now don't take this the wrong way, but you're a terminator, right?

You have to hand it to James Cameron. He knows how to spend money. Not only did he spend $300 million on Avatar without blinking, but he was the first to sink $200 million into a picture, that being Titanic. Even before that, T2 was the movie to break Hollywood’s $100 million cherry. Considering the results, none of that money was wasted, but do we really want to keep encouraging this sort of behavior? What happened to the James Cameron who could make the first Terminator movie for less than the loose change he found in his sofa?

It’s hard to argue with the results when they look like this. Terminator 2 takes the lean, stripped-down muscle car that was the original and straps on a couple of booster rockets from the space shuttle. It’s sci-fi action filmmaking at such a level of relentless professionalism that it just wears you down and makes you hand over your skepticism like it was your lunch money.

Continue reading

Pacino buys DeNiro a cup of coffee

Heat

[/types]]

Poor old Michael Mann. Here he was getting ready to make what was going to be the Lawrence of Arabia/Citizen Kane of cops-and-robbers movies, and he thought he had the legendary Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino working together for the first time. What happens? They pull a switcheroo on him and stick him with the world’s worst Pacino impersonator. Continue reading

Fracture

[/types]]

In this movie, Anthony Hopkins does not rehash his portrayal of Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs, but you could be forgiven for thinking that he does based on the marketing campaign for this entertaining if illogical courtroom thriller.

Don’t get me wrong, this movie features some smartly written scenes and some genuinely clever plot twists, but the success of the villain’s scheme depends on some truly mind boggling coincidences. Vegas hookers have been forced to swallow far less during your average spring break.

Continue reading

North Country

[/types]]

The opening credits for North Country claim that the movie is “inspired on a true story.” That puts in near the lower end of the Hollywood food chain for “true” stories. At the top would be the actual true stories, which are understandably rare. Even the “truest” films tend to employ some level of creative license, compositing characters and compressing events to make the story more “cinematic.” The next level down would be “based on a true story,” which roughly translates to, “We made up some shit to tailor the story to the A-List actor that we busted our ass to sign.”

Continue reading

Apollo 13

[/types]]

”[types
[/types]“]

Don’t come into Apollo 13 expecting a deep, acutely insightful portrait of the inner lives of astronauts Jim Lovell, Fred Haise and Jack Swigert. Tom Hanks, Bill Paxton and Kevin Bacon are basically playing stock Tom Hanks, Bill Paxton, and Kevin Bacon characters, and this is probably a good thing for a big budget summer movie like this one. Real astronauts are invariably cool, hard-to-ruffle, by-the-book kinds of people. Sometimes it seems you could set their pants on fire and it would barely raise their pulse. This makes for successful space missions but not for a particularly exciting movie.

Continue reading