Avoiding Responsibility: The Firm, Predators, Takers, & Extract


Sometimes life gets in the way (like my cousin graduating and going out with some friends to explore Uptown) and I don’t have 20 hours in a weekend to spend in front of my TV watching bad movies. I still managed to get a few movies in this weekend, successfully avoiding responsibility for at least a few hours! The lineup this weekend was The Firm, Predators, Takers, and Extract. The Firm (1993)

Based on John Grisham’s novel by the same name, The Firm, starring Tom Cruise is one helluva fun ride. I may not agree with Tom Cruise’s religious beliefs, nor have I really liked him in recent films, but movies like Risky Business, Top Gun, A Few Good Men, Jerry Maguire, and of course, The Firm, show why he became a Hollywood super-stud. The man may stand only 5’7″ off the ground, but he commands the screen and is a master of his craft, and this movie only further solidified that. The movie may run just under two and a half hours, but it’s totally worth your time. It has fantastic performances, not only by Tom Cruise, but also by Ed Harris and Gene Hackman,  as well as a fun, if brief, appearance by Gary Busey. Really, I’m quite enamored with this movie. The shots, the performances, the direction, even the sounds impressed me. My roommate this spring raved about the Firm and would watch it whenever it was on TV. It’s one of his favorite movies and now, I’m pretty sure, it’s one of mine too.

Predators (2010)

In 1987, the original Predator came out. Starring Arnold Schwarzenager, Predator became a cult classic and remains a must-see for every guy. Trying to build on the success of the first film, they made a second. Then Hollywood got really creative and made AVP: Alien vs. Predator and AVPR: Alien vs. Predator Requiem. This history lesson is of course supposed to serve as an introduction to Nimrod Antal’s 2010 re-imagining. In the 1987 version, the Predators came to Earth and hunt Arnold’s team of crack-commandos in the jungles of some Central American country. Apparently, in 2010, the predators got lazy and didn’t want to go Earth, instead importing the humans to their planet to play a game of hide and seek. I don’t think Antal’s movie will compare with Arnold’s original when the history books are written, but for the type of film it’s meant to be, I think it does a pretty good job. That is to say, for a movie that is veiled by the thinnest auspices of a plot but with enough action to make some war zones seem quaint. Adrien Brody’s rasp is a bit annoying and Laurence Fishburne, whom I normally love, was the creepy wise man with an invisible friend, though when he said, “I’m the one you don’t f*ck with” I have to admit, I smiled. Topher Grace was by far my favorite character. I have no idea what it is about him, but he always gets me to laugh. So yeah, I’m probably partial, but he’s a great source of comedic relief and was absolutely essential for this movie, keeping it from taking itself too seriously. That’s until the final act at least, which is bad-ass by the way (predator on predator fight? yes please!). Then Topher just goes bat shit and there’s just plot twist and misdirection all over the place. Oh, and Adrien Brody finally uses the information he learned about the predators. Seriously, they were told in like the 20th minute that mud hides his heat signature and the predators see using thermal imaging, but he waits 40 minutes to actually put any on? Smart move their hot shot. Final thoughts? Predators is fun, it pays homage to the original while still bringing something new to the table. It was way better than the disasters that were the AVP movies, and, though it’ll never be made, the ending is a perfect setup for yet another Predator movie. Can someone, anyone, please explain the song choice for the credits though? Where in the world did that come from?

Takers (2010)

Takers may very well be the second worst movie I’ve watched so far (Extract is the worst. I’ll get to that shortly). That being said, if you’re looking for an all-star cast of terrible actors (Idris Elba excluded), god-awful writing, and a paper thin plot, do I have a movie for you! You know those movies where the plot progresses in completely incoherent ways? This is one of those movies. It’s like the writers were intentionally trying to insult the audience’s intelligence.

But anyway, the movie is about a gang of Takers, yes, they call themselves that (“We’re takers gentlemen, it’s what we do” was probably one of my favorite lines). The gang is led by Idris Elba (The Wire), includes Paul Walker, Hayden Christiansen (yes, Anakin), Chris Brown, Michael Early, and their estranged member, T.I., who comes back after getting out of prison early only to get right back into robbing people, but also wants to get back at his friends who had been holding onto his money in a safe place while he was locked up. Throughout the movie they’re chased by Matt Dillon, a seemingly dirty cop, who turns out to actually be the good guy, except for the rampant excessive force, but who is partnered with a dirty cop. See? It makes perfect sense.

I used to watch terrible horror movies with my friends on the weekends to laugh at their absurdity. I think of this movie in the same vein. Terribly entertaining for its awfulness. Enjoy.

Extract (2009)

Extract is terrible. Awful. Easily one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen. It has huge potential. A cast that I love: Jason Bateman (check out the trailer for Bad Bosses), Mila Kunis (That 70’s Show, Black Swan), Kirsten Wiig (SNL, Bridesmaids), and Ben Affleck, and J.K. Simmons and David Koechner (Spiderman and Waiting… respectively). It came from the creators of one of the 90’s best movies, Office Space. And, then the movie started.

Jason Bateman runs an company that makes artificial extract (he’s really passionate about it) who is going through a rough patch with his wife (Kirsten Wiig), so he hires a gigolo to have sex with her to justify his own desire to have extramarital relations. He is also dealing with an employee who lost a testicle in a freak workplace accident. They try so hard to make jokes out of it. I didn’t laugh, once. I didn’t smile, smirk, or grin. I really don’t have very discriminating taste. I find at least some amusement in almost everything. I honestly found nothing enjoyable about this movie aside from Mila Kunis and only because she’s, what’s that phrase, easy on the eyes.

And that wraps another weekend of Avoiding Responsibility. Hope you enjoyed it.

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