Now You See Me 2 (2016)

now_you_see_me_two_ver15_xxlg

One year after outwitting the FBI and winning the public’s adulation with their mind-bending spectacles, the Four Horsemen resurface only to find themselves face to face with a new enemy who enlists them to pull off their most dangerous heist yet. (Letterboxd)
Whyyyeye must there be a second twist at the end again? It’s not a good thing if it’s unfounded and ruins all the fun that came before and NO ONE CARES ABOUT THE EYE THING. The first twist with the plane also isn’t great cuz you know it’s coming and they explain it to death. Also, is it just me or does Mark Ruffalo’s character NOT look like a Dylan? Lots of specific complaints here cuz it’s just more of the same, though that goes for the good stuff too (that card-throwing heist was pretty cool).
6/10 (Mediocre)

Now You See Me (2013)

now_you_see_me_xlg

An FBI agent and an Interpol detective track a team of illusionists who pull off bank heists during their performances and reward their audiences with the money. (Letterboxd)
The end sucks, not just because the twist is nonsensical (flashbacks of the person in a hoodie “there the whole time” isn’t enough explanation), but because the dumb carousal final scene leaves behind the cool Robin Hood-esque motivations of the team for some lame secret club idea–and the cocky characters already weren’t that likeable. Magic and heists are fun though, and fortunately that makes up most of the movie, making it fully watchable when the camera isn’t making you dizzy.
6/10 (Mediocre)

Lucy (2014)

lucy_xxlg

A woman, accidentally caught in a dark deal, turns the tables on her captors and transforms into a merciless warrior evolved beyond human logic. (IMDb)
Terribly heavy-handed, from its pointless visual metaphors (the pursuing bad guy is the cheetah, Lucy is the antelope, wow, nice one) to Freeman’s excruciating presentation (yes let’s hear “cerebral capacity” said one more time, thanks) to its bad plot exposition (see Lucy mind-reading and saying what we already see). All of this said, it’s got a good action-thriller pace, and the extremes it goes to with its concept in the end are actually pretty compelling (if still presented in a cheesy way).
5.5/10 (Poor)

 

RED (2010)

red-poster-7

When his peaceful life is threatened by a high-tech assassin, former black-ops agent Frank Moses reassembles his old team in a last ditch effort to survive and uncover his assailants. (IMDb)
Ocean’s Eleven meets James Bond, only with badass (and slightly terrifying-“I haven’t killed anyone in years”) espionage retirees. The cast is a hoot (Mirren and Malkovich especially) and along with the great uptempo soundtrack, fun editing (love those quick zooms and postcards), and darkly comedic dialogue (see Frank and Ivan’s initial convo about Igor the Butcher) keep things lively amidst the average action thriller plot. Could’ve done without the requisite romance though (Frank’s, I mean).
7.5/10 (Really Good)

 

Evan Almighty (2007)

evan_almighty_xlg

God contacts Congressman Evan Baxter and tells him to build an ark in preparation for a great flood. (IMDb)
The set-up’s predictable (yet another working dad neglecting his kids); the build-up is too (The Santa Clause, anyone?), but the plethora of biblical puns make it fun. The humor is mostly bland slapstick (Hill’s stalker Eugene aside) but Carell’s solid turn (the beard probably helped) as the guy God is seemingly screwing over gives the second act surprising dramatic credibility. Finally, though the CGI boat ride of the third act is cringe-worthy, its environmentalist slant is appreciable.
6.5/10 (Alright)

 

Bruce Almighty (2003)

bruce_almighty

A guy who complains about God too often is given almighty powers to teach him how difficult it is to run the world. (IMDb)
Though Carrey as Bruce is charming throughout, after a compelling first act set-up culminating in him cursing God, the second act has a little too much fun with his newfound powers, lazily letting some inconsistencies pop up (power corrupts, but Bruce’s transformation to douche was very sudden; wouldn’t his tampering with Evan be considered interfering with his free will?). A sentimental third act borders on mawkish at times but ultimately wraps things up with a nice “be the miracle” message.
6.5/10 (Alright)

 

Driving Miss Daisy (1989)

driving-miss-daisy-poster

An old Jewish woman and her African-American chauffeur in the American South have a relationship that grows and improves over the years. (IMDb)
With good acting, charming dialogue, and cute Americana sets over a cozy 20 year span, the film has a mature subtlety to it that makes for pleasant viewing, whether it’s the early crotchety-old-lady comedy or the feel-good fodder later on (see the graveyard scene). Yet as many potential points of conflict come and go without ever really developing you’re left wanting and waiting for some dramatic weight that never comes: The final scene was cute, then, but could’ve been a lot more meaningful.
7/10 (Good)

The Bucket List (2007)

2007-bucket_list-1

Two terminally ill men escape from a cancer ward and head off on a road trip with a wish list of to-dos before they die. (IMDb)
With the bucket list plot failing to stand out (cue the typical tourist spots–Western Europe, the pyramids, etc.–and old people skydiving), all you’re left with is predictable growing-friendship fodder made up of trite sentimental dialogue that fails to ever really catch your interest. However, a moving finale (with a nice little twist at the top of the mountain) proves that there was some good character work done throughout the formulaic script, helped along by solid turns from the two leads.
6/10 (Mediocre)

Last Vegas (2013)

Three friends take a break from their day-to-day lives to throw a bachelor party in Las Vegas for their last remaining single pal. (IMDb)
With questionable chemistry between the four leads, the “old guys partying” schtick here mostly just feels silly and awkward (although Freeman’s drunk ramble at the nightclub is great) and the numerous aging jokes forced. De Niro’s Paddy cuts through the crap in a great reality-check speech midway through, but its themes are discarded seconds later in favour of more generic party slapstick and the brief girl-drama doesn’t really make up for it, leaving us with just another formulaic Vegas flick.
5.5/10 (Poor)

Wanted (2008)

A frustrated office worker learns that he is the son of a professional assassin, and that he shares his father’s superhuman killing abilities. (IMDb)
The set-up in the first half-hour here is terribly contrived and cheesy, but it leads to an exciting premise capped off by a couple of good plot twists near the end. The over-the-top action along with the abundance of f-bombs and unique slow-motion shots combine to make an entertaining in-your-face experience (the “FUCK YOU” in airborne keyboard letters was particularly cool) but it occasionally feels too try-hard. Mostly bad acting regrettably cements this mixed bag of a film in mediocrity.
6.5/10 (Alright)