Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014)

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Autobots must escape sight from a bounty hunter who has taken control of the human serendipity: Unexpectedly, Optimus Prime and his remaining gang turn to a mechanic, his daughter, and her back street racing boyfriend for help. (IMDb)
Excepting the increased amount of shameless product placements and flat one-liners, this is the most mature of the series thus far: Wahlberg is a steady lead, the father-daughter central relationship is refreshing, Tucci’s villain gives us an actual dynamic character, and the plot is easier to follow, even if it ends in yet another bloated (but still impressive) final action sequence featuring Transformer dinosaurs of all things (though KSI’s far-fetched tech almost tops them in ridiculousness).
6.5/10 (Alright)
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Daddy’s Home (2015)

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Brad Whitaker is a radio host trying to get his stepchildren to love him and call him Dad. But his plans turn upside down when their biological father, Dusty Mayron, returns. (IMDb)
Mostly painful to watch, partly because of its flat humour (see the lame CG-enhanced slapstick), but mostly because of the excruciating humiliation and loss nice-guy Brad undergoes at the hands of bad-boy Dusty (the halftime disaster was more tragic than comedic). It makes the reconciliatory payoff that much more rewarding though (it was surprisingly mature too–see their airport convo), and the climactic dance scene promoting pacifism and selfless fatherhood was the perfect cherry on top.
6.5/10 (Alright)

I Heart Huckabees (2004)

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A husband-and-wife team play detective, but not in the traditional sense. Instead, the happy duo helps others solve their existential issues, the kind that keep you up at night, wondering what it all means. (IMDb)
A few odd (literally) instances aside (see the mud sex), it maintains a perfect balance between quirky existential comedy (the philosophy also nicely rejects the extremes) and relatable drama, as wildly memorable dialogue-packed scenes (see dinner at Steve’s) craft numerous brilliant character arcs (Dawn’s epiphany is hilarious; Schwartzman’s on the lawn poignant), boosted by outstanding turns (see Law’s face listening to the joke recordings; Wahlberg’s petroleum rants). Nice soundtrack, too.
8/10 (Great)

The Departed (2006)

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An undercover cop and a mole in the police attempt to identify each other while infiltrating an Irish gang in South Boston. (IMDb)

The double-deception plot is almost too perfect, given all the suspense and intrigue it generates, and with DiCaprio’s violent Billy and Damon’s more subtly unscrupulous Colin, offers a nuanced take on good guy and bad guy archetypes that’s further complicated by a smoky love triangle sub-plot and capped off by a bloody, twist-filled final act (the final shot was admittedly a bit much). Colourful dialogue and great gritty music and cinematography round out this impeccably acted crime drama.

8.3/10

2 Guns (2013)

Two hardened criminals get into trouble with the US border patrol after meeting with a Mexican drug lord, and then revelations start to unfold. (IMDb)

There’s an intriguing mash-up of gritty drug drama and shoot-em up buddy cop comedy here, but a slightly convoluted narrative and constant movement between the genres hinders either aspect from gaining enough steam to have a lasting impact–and middling supporting turns for Wahlberg and Washington’s steady leads don’t help. There’s some good moments here (usually more comedic than dramatic) and the double secret identity premise is fun, but the film lacks a solid and steady screenplay.

6.3/10

The Other Guys (2010)

Two mismatched New York City detectives seize an opportunity to step up like the city’s top cops whom they idolize — only things don’t quite go as planned. (IMDb)

The pairing of Wahlberg’s hilariously angry and ultra-serious Terry with Ferrell’s calm and nerdy Allen here makes for numerous laugh-out-loud moments throughout; they have great dialogue in between the outrageous action scenes, and are supported by a consistently funny secondary cast. The great humour here makes the plot incidental, but it ends up being given serious thought (see the end credits) which feels unnecessary and try-hard in what is otherwise just a simple buddy-cop comedy.

6.8/10

The Lovely Bones (2009)

A mixed-bag of a film: The plot leading up Suzy’s murder is full of wonderfully uncomfortable edge-of-your-seat suspense, and the emotion and drama that follow her death in dealing with the loss and looking for the killer is just as captivating, and is captured by excellent camerawork and great performances all around. The mystical afterlife scenes, however, feel fluffy and boring in comparison with the gritty suspense of the scenes on earth. Overall, a good movie that could have been great.

7.1/10