A pair of NYC cops in the Narcotics Bureau stumble onto a drug smuggling job with a French connection. (IMDb)
A hard-boiled NYC cop thriller that’s a little dry–especially in the beginning–but has a second half that’s loaded with patiently crafted scenes brimming with tension (see the subway station battle of wits, wild car chase, car dismantling drug search). Hackman’s brash and bold Doyle, meanwhile, is the perfect protagonist for the gritty urban setting. The ending leaves something to be desired though, with its anticlimactic “gotcha” moment (you’d think the cops could’ve planned that better).
An estranged family of former child prodigies reunites when their father announces he is terminally ill. (IMDb)
Enjoyably quirky narrated character set-ups lead into a melancholic family reunion drama artistically crafted (memorable costumes and an excellent soundtrack stand out) but saturated with so much deadpan dialogue that it gets a little tiresome at points. Not all of the characters connect (Raleigh is inconsequential; Eli feels out of place) but Royal is a strong lead in his flawed quest for redemption, and Chas (see his guard let down; “I’ve had a tough year”) and Richie eventually hit home too.
A group of passengers struggle to survive and escape when their ocean liner completely capsizes at sea. (IMDb)
Five trivial character set-ups converge at a fancy New Years cruise ship party as scenes with the captain and crew increase in frequency as the foretold disaster (see the opening story summary) draws near: It’s a straight-forward and effective opening act that leads naturally to the “rag-tag group of survivors” disaster adventure plot. The pace is slow (realistic, but tiresome at points) but it’s offset in part by the well-defined characters (marred only by Hackman’s eye-rolling macho overload).
A lawyer is asked to come to the police station to clear up a few loose ends in his witness report of a foul murder. This will only take ten minutes, they say, but it turns out to be one loose end after another, and the ten minutes he is away from his speech become longer and longer… (IMDb)
With its main plot set in a limited time and place, this film takes interesting dips into the past as a detective “enters into” a suspect’s memories as he recalls them in real time. Interesting visual and musical montages add to this unique screenplay that skillfully increases the intrigue and emotion, leading up to a regrettably anti-climatic ending that deflates instead of explodes. Freeman and Hackman are charismatic in their roles, however, and highlight an overall solid mystery-thriller.
A man tries to transport an ancient gun called The Mexican, believed to carry a curse, back across the border, while his girlfriend pressures him to give up his criminal ways. (IMDb)
A thoroughly enjoyable quirky crime-comedy, calling to mind 2008’s Burn After Reading: Each have an eclectic cast of characters (two of whom are played by Pitt and Simmons, the former playing an inept yet brash character in both), and a chaotic plot full of twists and mishaps that revolves around a single object desired by many. In The Mexican, touches of surprising romance and emotional drama (see the great Winston-Samantha duo) are added to the comedy to make it a truly entertaining watch.