The Italian Job (2003)

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After being betrayed and left for dead in Italy, Charlie Croker and his team plan an elaborate gold heist against their former ally. (IMDb)
The first two acts hit all the right beats for a fun heist plot, including a couple well-timed “wrench-in-the-plan” twists, keeping it engaging through some less-than-stellar humour and characterization (Theron’s Stella is tragically reduced to nothing more than a “got girl” by movie’s end in a vomit-inducing end credits scene). The great car-chase action of the third act, meanwhile, leads to a less than satisfying deus-ex-machina ending courtesy of some unnecessary side characters.
6/10 (Mediocre)

 

Boogie Nights (1997)

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The story of a young man’s adventures in the California pornography industry of the late 1970s and early 1980s. (IMDb)
I dunno, amidst all its characters and plot lines, in the end it lacks a certain, ahem, thrust, with no clear arc or, heh, climax to speak of (the hypnotic back-and-forth between limo and truck came close but didn’t quite land). That said, its “slice of life” structure is certainly done very well, with the majority of its many characters and scenes quite memorable and mull-worthy (Reilly’s earnest Reed and the dramatic/comedic drug deal probably top the list). Great music and camerawork too.
7.5/10 (Really Good)

 

Transformers: The Last Knight (2017)

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Autobots and Decepticons are at war, with humans on the sidelines. Optimus Prime is gone. The key to saving our future lies buried in the secrets of the past, in the hidden history of Transformers on Earth. (IMDb)
The plotting is either incomprehensible or downright cheesy (or both–see the climax at Stonehenge with the staff of Merlin), character movements are difficult to make sense of (see Duhamel’s Colonel and co. chase, then join forces with their target; the Earl suddenly ditching), and besides that, it just goes on too long. The action’s good though, and some surprising and genuinely funny moments of levity (see Merlin’s opening plea; Cogman’s organ playing; Agent Simmons in Cuba) help break it up.
6/10 (Mediocre)

 

Broken City (2013)

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In a city rife with injustice, ex-cop Billy Taggart seeks redemption and revenge after being double-crossed and then framed by its most powerful figure: Mayor Nicholas Hostetler. (IMDb)
Two things stood out to me after the completion of this film, and they were both bad: One was a camera that wouldn’t stop moving around during a simple scene of dialogue; the other was an atrocious slow-motion look-back/wave to end the film. Besides a decent investigative first act, everything else was just average and forgettable-disappointing considering the delicious corruption drama at hand. Extended tangents certainly didn’t help (see Natalie’s film and after-party; the televised debate).
6/10 (Mediocre)

 

Deepwater Horizon (2016)

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A dramatization of the disaster in April 2010, when the offshore drilling rig called the Deepwater Horizon exploded, resulting in the worst oil spill in American history. (IMDb)
The build-up is perfect, right from the chilling opening “spoiler” audio: Excellent foreshadows (see the coke can) and an eerie soundtrack keep you on the edge of your seat amidst the well-crafted sense of normalcy (the jargon-heavy dialogue does a great job here), with the classic tension between money and safety excellently executed (Malkovich’s Vidrine is a chilling adversary). The explosion-heavy scenes that follow start to tire, but an emotionally potent epilogue is suitably cathartic.
8/10 (Great)

 

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)

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 CGI-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.

8.5/10 (Amazing)

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