Category Archives: Uncategorized

Miscellaneous Post: Batman v Superman v Captain America

****Spoilers for both Dawn of Justice and Civil War below!***

I love Batman and the Bat-family.

Let me clarify that at the beginning of this little essay.

It’s hard, sometimes, to choose who I like more, out of Bruce, Dick, or Tim, and by extension their associated cohorts (such as Clark Kent, Roy Harper, or Conner Kent).

When I first heard that Ben Affleck was to portray Batman in the sequel to Man of Steel, I was highly skeptical. And I don’t dislike Affleck, like so many people seem to do. I was just… underwhelmed by the casting choice, I suppose.

And then he turned out to be the highlight of the disaster that is Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

…Let me start from the beginning.

I knew that Man of Steel was going to be terrible from the very first trailer that I ever saw for it. It looked gloomy, with a washed-out color scheme. It looked overly dramatic, and not in a superhero movie sort of way. Then of course came the ultimate stamp of impending doom: it was a Nolan/Goyer-written production. The team that brought you a growling Batman in a city that is clearly Chicago despite the wonderful world-building in their first movie, among further travesties to canon, logic, and the passage of time in the third installment of the Nolanverse trilogy. And it was to be directed by Zack Snyder, the man that brought us a fairly faithful rendition of Watchmen, or so I’m told as I’ve never read it, yet had one of the most horrifically awkward sex scenes ever.

Fast forward to actually seeing Man of Steel, and all of my fears–and then some–were realized: it was boring, barely had any Clark in it, had a stupid-useless death of Pa Kent, hideous dialogue (evolution does not always win!), and more “destruction porn” than you can shake a stick at, if you were prone to shaking sticks at ridiculous, over-the-top things.

So, when I heard that the inevitable sequel to Man of Steel was to have Batman in it, I was less than pleased. We had just suffered through Nolan destroying the character; did Snyder really need a chance to do it, too?

And gradually it became much more than just an extension of a personalityless Superman glowering and a potentially miscast Batman arguing with him. The film was to introduce Wonder Woman. And Lex Luthor. And somehow Aquaman and Cyborg. And then the Flash. Most of whom seemed to have questionable casting choices–Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor? A woman I’d never heard of but who is apparently underwhelming for Wonder Woman? Jeremy Irons as Alfred Pennyworth?

My fears–or perhaps skepticism is a better word–were realized when the first ten minutes or so of the film were spent on Batman’s origin story. You know, the story that makes up a good chunk of Batman Begins, which came out a mere eleven years ago. The story retold in countless cartoons and books, and previous Batman movies. The story that pretty much EVERYONE going to see the movie is familiar with, and really served no purpose in the overall film, especially considering Batman is not a young man just starting on his quest at the beginning of BvS.

Oh wait, without the retelling of the story, we might not know that Bruce’s mother is named “Martha.” Like the camera doesn’t focus on her gravestone quite obviously when Bruce is moping there.

You know what they could have spent that runtime real estate on? Explaining why Bruce Wayne is living in his guest house, with his mansion burned to the ground. Or perhaps giving Wonder Woman a better introduction; she isn’t even NAMED ON-SCREEN except by a flight attendant. Maybe developing the actual Lex Luthor and not some weird knock-off version of the character? Maybe they could even give Superman–or better yet, Clark–a personality. Or maybe use those precious minutes spliced throughout the film to tie together the next two hours into an actual cohesive narrative, rather than a bunch of unrelated scenes that happened to have Bruce, Superman, or Lex in them?

But no.

Oh, no.

The viewers were not allowed nice things.

The film began with an unnecessary backstory, and ended with an utterly unconvincing death.

Mixed in were too many dream sequences to count, unearned deaths of canonical characters (I didn’t even realize the photographer at the beginning was Jimmy Olsen until later on), an awkward bathtub scene, needless fighting, the ultimate Superman big bad villain shoehorned in for no conceivable reason other than to facilitate that needless and unconvincing death, and a Lex Luthor that has the same haircut as Black Widow.

All of it overlaid by the color gray, a visual representation of the depression the overly-serious film caused. Canonically Batman and Superman are snarky with each other–Batman isn’t always grim, the same way Superman isn’t always the Boy Scout. There can be a level of humor injected into any film, no matter how serious; there has to be to break the tension. It’s a movie, a comic book movie in fact, not a documentary or breaking news.

And I didn’t even yet mention some of the utterly infuriating parts, like where reporter Clark Kent doesn’t know who businessman Bruce Wayne is (despite the fact Bruce owns the Daily Planet). Or how rather than talk with Superman, Batman just wants to kill him, especially when it’s clear that Superman has something important to say about MARTHA. Or how Superman doesn’t use his powers to find his mother, or find the bomb in the courtroom, or save Jimmy, yet when Lois manages to fall from a building, he’s right there.

One of the criteria I use to analyze action movies for this site is “M is for… Motivation.” Most of the time the villains want money, or power, or revenge, while the hero wants revenge, or to save a loved one, or to stop the destruction of a particular region or group of people. One of the biggest problems in BvS is that the characters’ motivations are unclear. Why is Lex building a Kryptonian monster (that, yes, turned out to be Doomsday, but why is he doing that?)? Why was Batman just SO ANGRY with Superman that he saw murder as the only way out, considering they’re barely shown interacting the entire film? Why didn’t Superman do anything to make himself memorable or interesting in his own movie, so that he wasn’t overshadowed by the weirdo villain(s) and his…nemesis? Was Batman even Batmanning at all during Superman’s Supermanning? Do they know each other well enough to hate each other the way they do?

It was all just a mess, and not one where I think, “Well, I should see it again so it’ll make more sense.”

Please, don’t make me sit through the travesty that is Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice again.

It’s as if the sole purpose of the movie was to get the Justice League started so DC could finally compete with Marvel on the silver screen, a goal for which DC is so woefully unprepared it would be funny if it weren’t so sad.

Actually, it’s still pretty funny, transparently shoving a handful of extraneous characters into what should be a Superman movie in order to launch a team. Why not just… do a movie that develops the team? Just do a live action version of the first episode of Justice League, or something similar. The cartoon is proof that it works.

I know that once upon a time, BvS was supposed to open the same day as Captain America 3: Civil War. The powers that be wisely chose to not have that happen. Instead, BvS opened first, to lackluster reviews (my favorite of which makes me laugh out loud at a particular line), and a precipitously dropping box office. Confirming with Box Office Mojo, the total box office haul as of May 12th for BvS is $868,185,193. That’s an impressive total for a movie that hasn’t even been out for two months, right?

Sure, until it’s understood that in less than a week, Cap 3 has grossed $765,868,509.


I don’t normally care about box office, considering the way ticket prices are highway robbery and sales don’t at all reflect the quality of a movie, but I thought it an interesting comparison here, with similar movies with presumably nearly identical audiences coming out only a few weeks apart. People aren’t seeing BvS for a second time. I’m going to see Cap 3 again tomorrow.

In almost any category, at least in my opinion, Cap trumps Supes. It’s not fair to discuss casting, because everyone in Cap 3 was already established, but that’s related to one of the strong points in the film–all of the characters exist, and the film develops them even more than they were already. The film successfully juggles 10 existing heroes and a new villain, while introducing two new heroes, and also moving the overall universe’s story, while also having a coherent plot and a villain with clear motivation.

In Cap 3, my heart went out to everyone–Cap, Tony, Bucky, all of the former friends fighting each other. Towards the end, when Tony watches his life flash before his eyes, if you know what I mean… Ouch. He really thinks Cap is going to smash his face in with that shield.

In BvS, I was bored by Supes’s death (especially knowing there’s no way he was going to stay dead for keeps), and still confused by what Doomsday was doing in a movie where the main draw–Batman fighting Superman–was so poorly written that the whole “Martha” thing was just hilariously awful, and awfully hilarious. Why not do a better job writing the actual story, and spend less time shoving a major villain into the last fifteen minutes? Was it just to give Wonder Woman something to do? Didn’t anyone learn from the franchise-ruining catastrophe that was The Amazing Spider-Man 2?

Also, if I were a Superman fan, I’d be pissed that Batman clearly won their fight. Especially considering it was theoretically Superman’s movie.

I seem to be digressing again.

Cap 3 has heart, and agony, and a hell of a lot of humor that is in no way misplaced despite the gravitas of the main storyline. The characters’ motivations are clear, and there aren’t any obfuscating dream sequences or oppressive gloom.

It’s a film that can be watched many times and enjoyed for what it is: a solid superhero movie that delivers on its promises, without raising major questions about simple things like the plot.

It’s actually almost unfair to compare and contrast Dawn of Justice and Civil War, considering the former is the second film in a seemingly forced multi-movie universe, and the latter is the thirteenth film in a giant universe that just keeps expanding. But how does Cap 3 balance all of those characters and history, while BvS can barely keep interest in the handful of characters it has and doesn’t have to worry about continuity across a dozen other films?

All of the special effects and gimmicks in the world can’t compensate for the basic foundation of a film: its story. It needs a cogent plot, well-developed characters, and a reason to care about them, and BvS just doesn’t have enough of any of them.

I love Batman.

But Batman v Superman simply can’t compete with Captain America 3, other than illustrating that being an orphan is the first step to becoming a superhero.

The lack of ability for comparison really is almost embarrassing.

Maybe they should let Affleck direct the rest of the Batman/Superman/Justice League movies. I think everyone can agree he’s a much better director than he is an actor.

Just think of that when remembering that his Bruce Wayne is the highlight of BvS…


F is for… Faster

I came upon Faster recommended on a list of the 100 best action movies. It’s a bit confusing because even though the DVD case itself quotes a review calling it “…the best straight-up action film of the year,” the film isn’t really what I’d call an action movie. It’s not a bad movie by any means, it’s just that there are a lot of other much better movies out there that are true action movies. Faster is more of a revenge movie, which is fine. I guess I was just expecting a little more from the list, and the DVD cover.

…and yes, I’m aware that several movies I’ve reviewed for this site aren’t quite “action” movies, but those are the ones I hadn’t seen before reviewing them, including this one. This site is a work in progress to expand horizons and see and review a lot of kickass movies that might otherwise not be seen nor reviewed.

All of that being said, Faster, directed by George Tillman, Jr, is an engaging if slightly confused film starring Dwayne Johnson as Driver, a man sent to prison for being the getaway driver during a bank heist. The second he gets out of prison, he literally runs back into town and starts killing people. Through the use of flashbacks, it’s explained that after the successful bank heist, the group of robbers is slaughtered by a second group that steals the stolen money. The initial thieves, including Driver’s brother Gary (Matt Gerald), are all killed, and Driver should have been dead but the bullet shot into his head merely traveled along his skull, not through it. Driver is hunting down everyone in the group that slaughtered his friends and brother.

Investigating the case is Cop, played by Billy Bob Thornton. The case is originally assigned to a tough as nails detective named Cicero (Carla Gugino), but she lets him sort of tag along if he makes himself useful. Cop investigates Driver’s kills with the help of a video taken of the murders of the robbers, while also shooting heroin and dealing with his bossy ex Marina (Moon Bloodgood) and unathletic and lonely son.

Meanwhile there’s also Killer (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), a handsome renaissance man who is hired to assassinate Driver. He seems to be able to track Driver fairly easily, all the while dealing with his own personal demons in the form of marriage.

After Driver kills the first two people involved in the executions, he attacks but doesn’t kill the third one, only puts him into critical condition. When he realizes this he immediately goes to the hospital where the victim is being held and shoots him in the operating room. Cop, who had predicted Driver would come to the hospital, engages Driver in a gunfight, but Driver doesn’t kill him because he doesn’t have a reason to. As Driver leaves the hospital, Killer catches up with him and they also have a brief shootout, and Driver also lets him live.

The big showdown comes at the scene of an evangelical revival meeting, where Driver tracked the last person involved in killing his brother. Despite the man’s involvement, Driver lets him live, possibly because he’s changed his ways and works to help people. Killer finds Driver sitting by himself, and realizes that Driver thinks he’s done getting his revenge. He then points out that there has to be one more person involved–whomever hired him and knew that Driver was hunting everyone involved in the deaths. Enter Cop, who also knew where Driver would be heading next. He then shoots Driver, and it’s revealed that Cop was the other person involved in the murders and had in fact been the one to shoot Driver in the back of the head, and that he had hired Killer, thinking that Driver would eventually be after him. When Cop realized at the hospital that Driver had no idea who he was, he tried to call off Killer, but Killer wanted to complete his job.

Meanwhile, Cicero had put the pieces together–Driver’s victims were all members of Cop’s CRASH unit, comprised of prison snitches. Marina had been Gary’’s girlfriend, so she knew of the bank heist, and told the others about it. Cicero isn’t able to get to the revival tent before Driver is able to kill Cop and Killer escapes. She doesn’t let anyone know what she figured out, so that Cop’s family can receive his benefits.

Driver, mission complete, drives off into the sunset, while Killer returns to his wife.

It’s a simple but fairly well-done story, if a bit heavily focused on developing the characters of Cop and Killer at the expense of properly developing Driver, the guy the audience is supposed to be rooting for despite his actions. Yes, there’s the scene where we learn Driver left a pregnant girlfriend behind when he went to prison, and the scene with his mother where we learn of his difficult childhood, but these moments don’t really add much to the plot, they just sort of slow things down. I suppose I wanted to know more about who Driver is now, rather than who he used to be. On the other hand, Killer was very intriguing, what with his adrenaline rush issues. Cop was the most blah character to me, but that could be due to his introductory scene consisting of him scoring heroin, and I have no tolerance for drug use, which causes me to not like characters who do drugs.

Anyway, let’s move on to the criteria!

A is for… Accents

Faster is a fairly accent-light movie, especially considering the last few I’ve reviewed. The only character with a noticeable accent is Killer, who is British.

B is for… Bad Guys

This is one of those films where the protagonist is just as bad a person as the antagonist, but the viewer knows he has to root for him. Driver is initially seen in prison, and the very first thing he does after getting out is shoot someone, and the viewer doesn’t know who the victim is or why Driver shoots him. Of course everything is eventually explained, but it’s still a little hard to identify with Driver. He’s very matter-of-fact and doesn’t really have much dialogue to soften his actions. I suppose that’s where those scenes with his ex-girlfriend and mother come into play, but I didn’t really know enough about him to find the scenes helpful and not hammy.

Killer is a bad guy, but he’s not exactly a true antagonist because Driver, while he does interact with him, isn’t trying to get anything from him. Driver simply seems to know Killer is trying to kill him, but doesn’t really seem to care why. Killer is simply doing a job that it is ultimately revealed that he does for fun–he only charges a dollar for his kills, and he has the dollars framed and mounted on his wall. Killer was already a successful software pioneer before “beating yoga” and climbing mountains; he is always looking for the next challenge when he becomes bored. He’s sort of reined in by his girlfriend-then-wife Lily (Maggie Grace), who wants him to quit being a killer.

Cop shouldn’t be a bad guy, considering he’s a cop, but he’s clearly a corrupt cop from the get-go, and ultimately is revealed to be the connection between Driver and Killer. He’d been the one to originally shoot Driver when his friends and brother were killed, and he tried to kill him again only to be foiled by the metal plate put in Driver’s skull after the first bullet. As much as he’s a professional screw-up, Cop does seem to be trying to do right by his son, if not by Marina, a recovering addict to whom he provides more drugs.

C is for… Chases

During the bank heist, the cops chase the robbers in a scene designed to show off Driver’s driving skills, though he doesn’t really use them in the rest of the film except when Killer is chasing him after they both leave the hospital.

D is for… Damsels

Lily is Killer’s girlfriend then wife in the matter of the five days during which the movie takes place. She wants Killer to stop working, even though he points out that she used to be attracted to his work. She is beautiful and doesn’t seem to have a job herself, though considering how rich he is, she doesn’t need to work. She seems to be similarly interested and skilled in fast cars and guns, and is heartbroken that he didn’t quit when he said he did.

Cicero is a tough and competent cop who seems to be the only one who puts together all the pieces and reach the conclusion that Cop is also involved in the murders of Driver’s friends and brother. She chooses to keep quiet and let his family inherit his benefits after his death.

Marina is a former drug addict and snitch, though she uses drugs during the film after Cop gives them to her. She wants Cop to be a better father, and seems to entertain the idea of getting back together with him. She had been Driver’s brother’s girlfriend during the initial bank heist, and it was through her that everyone else learned of the score and decided to take it and kill everyone.

E is for… Explosions

There isn’t a real explosion in the film, but during the shootout in the hospital basement, bullets hit an electrical box that then sparks.

F is for… Flashbacks

Flashbacks are used extensively to depict past events from Driver’s point of view, including the bank heist and the death of his brother and friends. Considering the theme of the film and the simplicity of the narrative, the flashbacks are an effective method of telling the story without having Driver talk to himself, considering he’s alone most of the time.

G is for… Guns

Check out the full listing at the IMFDB.

There’s a revolver waiting for Driver in the provided car when he gets out of prison.

Killer, not surprisingly, has an armory in his garage.

The informant crew uses a shotgun on the robbers.

There’s the shootout at the apartment building between Driver and Killer, and then the shootout at the hospital between Driver and Cop.

For some reason Driver chooses his gun over a different weapon every time except in the strip club, where he uses a knife.

H is for… Helicopters

Sadly, there are no helicopters in Faster.

I is for… Improvisation

Considering Driver leaves prison in the first scene and doesn’t seem to have any resources except his car and his gun, he doesn’t seem to have to improvise ever. No one does, really–everyone has actual weapons.

J is for… Jumping Through Solid Objects

Sadly, no panes of glass or weak walls have a person thrown through them.

K is for… Kill Count

Driver’s first victim is the Telemarketer, whom he shoots in the head.

He then stalks the Cameraman at his apartment, and shoots him in the head.

For some reason he doesn’t shoot the guy who actually slit his brother’s throat, preferring to stab him repeatedly. It is unclear why he doesn’t either use his gun or slit his throat, unless he doesn’t actually have his gun because he had to pass the bouncer to get into the club (and then why not wait until his victim is outside?). Regardless, it would have been poetic for him to slit his throat rather than just stab him. When it’s revealed he’s alive, Driver does indeed shoot him at the hospital, multiple times.

He knows better than to kill Cop at the hospital.

He doesn’t shoot Killer when he has the chance, merely shoots out his tire so he can’t follow him.

He doesn’t kill the preacher, though he does fire a shot next to him.

He ultimately shoots Cop after learning of his involvement with everything.

L is for… Limitations

Driver is alone, using his acquired intel to complete his mission by himself. Other than that, though, he’s never really shown to be struggling, just very focused on what he’s doing.

M is for… Motivation

Driver’s motivation is clearly revenge or vengeance for his brother’s murder.

Cop is expecting Driver to eventually target him, and he wants to cover his tracks and take him out.

Killer wants the rush, and the conquest.

N is for… Negotiation

None of the three main characters really talk to each other, so there isn’t any negotiation between them.

R.G. (Mike Epps) tries to negotiate for more money for his intel, but Driver wants nothing to do with it, and ultimately gets the intel and his money back simply by being a badass.

O is for… One Liners

Killer’s therapist: Are you off your meds?
Killer, giddily: Yes.

Cop: We’ve got a telemarketer and a sex offender. What’s next, a lawyer?

The bouncer, indicating Driver’s arms: You got any weapons on you besides these two guns right here?

Driver, to the preacher: God can’t save you from me.

Driver, to Killer: You’ve got issues.

Cop: I created my own Hell.
Driver: And I’m the demon who crawled up out of it.

P is for… Profession

Driver is… the getaway driver for one of his brother’s bank heists. He’s depicted as being a decent sort of businessman, because he made a lot of money running a contraband ring in prison. The warden describes him as never asking for trouble, but also never turning it down. His mother says that he was never a criminal until he was helping Gary.

It’s unclear why he served ten years in prison for being the getaway driver, especially if he didn’t have a previous record.

It’s also unclear what sort of career he can have after the film if it isn’t murdering or driving, because those are the only two skills he’s shown using. Perhaps salesman or businessman, but it would have to be for something illegal, considering he’s a fugitive.

Q is for… Quagmire

In the revival tent, Killer has his gun trained on Driver. Then Cop comes in, and actually shoots him. Driver actually likely would have died if he didn’t have the metal plate from the first shot to the head.

I believe this is the first film reviewed for this site where the main character actually should be dead, he was in such a quagmire.

R is for… Reality, or the Suspension of Disbelief

It’s a little hard to believe that no one connected the pieces together before, but perhaps there truly wasn’t enough evidence to piece together Cop and his ring of informants.

It’s also really hard to believe that Driver jogged all the way from the prison to the junkyard in the desert heat, even if it was only a few miles. Maybe his determination saw him through.

S is for… Sidekicks

R.G. is the one who left the car, weapon, and first victim’s information for Driver for when he got out of prison. He also provides the complete list of informants that Driver needs to kill.

T is for… Technology

There are an awful lot of surveillance cameras in the telemarketing office.

The Cameraman making his own snuff film is the only information the police seem to have on Driver’s bank heist group execution.

U is for… Unexpected Romance

No unexpected romance in Faster. Unexpected former romantic entanglement yes, but no romance for Driver moving forward.

V is for… Vehicles as Weapons

At one point during the chase from the hospital, Driver maneuvers his car in front of a tractor trailer to the point that the tractor trailer has to merge to the right, cutting off Killer and forcing him to stop to avoid a collision.

W is for… Winning

Driver seems to have completed his mission, until Killer explains that there is one more member of the gang that executed Driver’s friends and brother. Before Driver really has time to process that, Cop shows up and shoots Driver. He and Killer then talk, and he tries to pay Killer for completing the job. Killer turns it down, then goes home to Lily. Cop continues walking, only to be shot by Driver, who’d been saved by the plate in his head.

Killer quits to be with his wife, Driver drives off into the sunset, and thanks to Cicero, Cop’s family gets its inheritance.

X is for… X-Rays, or Maybe You Should See a Doctor

A quite literal example here, considering Driver was shot in the head and survived, and now has a metal plate in his head. He should probably get that thing checked out considering he was shot again. And surely he must have a terrible headache, no matter how diesel that thing is.

Y is for… Yesterday’s Problem Becomes Today’s Problem

This theme is the entire focus of the movie–Cop and his gang killed Driver’s friends and brother, and tried to kill him. Upon leaving prison, Driver made getting his revenge on all of them his number one priority. Had Cop been successful the first time, there would be no movie. Had there not been a snuff film, perhaps the police would never have put the pieces together. If Driver’s brother hadn’t been daring Marina, Cop wouldn’t have learned of the heist in the first place.

Z is for… Zone, In The

Driver is so single-minded that he’s pretty much always in the Zone, focusing on his current or next kill.

In Summation

Faster has a lot going for it, including a good cast and a simple story that allows it to focus on other things, like how to tell that story. That becomes sort of its problem, too, the fact that the story is so simple it needs a little padding to make it long enough. One reviewer on Rotten Tomatoes wishes Faster were either smarter or dumber, and upon watching the film the analysis makes a lot more sense. The plot could be less simplistic, or the action could be turned up to eleven, as a way to apply the sentiment.

Some notes:
It’s extremely nitpicky, but I hated the yellow tone to the whole movie, making it look like it was perpetually sunset. It certainly didn’t do Bakersfield any favors.

Cop mentions several times that he’s only a couple weeks away from retirement. It was a giant smoking gun with neon lights screaming that he wasn’t going to survive the movie.

The yoga fan service…. Yowza! Oliver Jackson-Cohen can do more almost-naked yoga whenever he desires, in my book.

This was the second movie in a row I’ve reviewed that used the theme from The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

There were way too many storylines, and attempts to add character development. Okay, Killer clearly had mobility issues as a child, but obviously worked through them. Are we to assume it was those health issues that led him to become the results oriented, conquer-focused man he became? I guess maybe, but it was unnecessary. As for Cop, hey, the drug addict cop has family issues and isn’t around for his kid? I’m pretty sure that’s part of the character for EVERY COP MOVIE EVER. And the scenes with Driver’s ex and mother, so boring and unnecessary, easily replaced by quick flashbacks.

I hate to say it, but a lot of the scenes with the women made the film drag. Driver’s ex, with the tale of woe of the abortion and having to break up with Driver, and she has a new family and new life… It’s been ten years, it’s expected and boring–there’s got to be another way to make Driver seem more human. And again with the mother, where we have Driver’s childhood with his abusive father and favoritism toward the son that actually belonged to the father, and how he was actually a good boy and never did anything wrong until his brother needed his help… Not interesting enough to warrant the whole scene, when a series of short flashbacks could have been used, especially considering that the film was already using flashbacks. Then Killer with Lily, and wanting to settle down, and they get married and go to their cabin on the lake and she wants him to quit… It’s like the coinciding story to the workaholic cop, the woman who wants him to quit for her. Speaking of which, Marina didn’t really serve a point except to be the connection between Cop and the brother. And of course to yell at Cop for being a terrible father. Normally I’m on the side of the policeman in these scenarios, because the wives should understand the work their husbands have to do, but considering he’s a dirty, drug using cop, I couldn’t really care less.

The only woman whose character deserved to be developed, Cicero, didn’t get developed, I suppose because she didn’t have a connection to the three main men.

How many lines does Driver actually have? He’s pretty much alone and walking, driving, or shooting the entire film.

There are a lot of overhead shots of the car spinning, I guess to look cool and illustrate how good of a driver Driver is.

During the scenes in the tent, especially during the revival, all I could think about what how hot it must have been inside when they were filming. That location for the revival was beautiful, though, with the lake.

So, Faster had a lot of good things, and a lot of negative things, but is certainly enjoyable enough to watch as a revenge story, if not an action movie.

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E is for… The Expendables 2

The Expendables 2 is everything I’d expected from The Expendables except it truly delivered; it was over-the-top action, hilarious in-jokey one-liners, and cameo after cameo. It’s a lot of fun, easily rewatchable, and definitely one “for the history books” (or a museum).

The Expendables 2, directed by Simon West, stars Sylvester Stallone as Barney Ross, leader of a group of mercenaries who right wrongs by committing other (even similar) crimes. His team consists of Lee Christmas (Jason Statham), Hale Caesar (Terry Crews), Gunner (Dolph Lundgren), Toll Roll (Randy Couture), Billy the Kid (Liam Hemsworth), and Yin Yang (Jet Li). Along the way they acquire tech expert Maggie (Nan Yu), and find themselves working with Trench (Arnold Schwarzenegger), Church (Bruce Willis), and Booker (Chuck Norris).

The film opens with the Expendables on a mission to rescue a rich Chinese businessman, which they do by caravanning into the Nepalese camp where he’s being held and kill everyone, pretty much. Also being held captive is Trench, another mercenary, who’d been trying to rescue the businessman as well. After the successful mission the group celebrates, and Billy informs Barney that he’ll finish out the month before retiring to be with his girlfriend. CIA agent Church ambushes Barney and tells him to either pay him the debt owed to him (five million dollars), or go to jail, or complete a mission for him to retrieve a stolen case from a crashed plane in Albania.

Barney chooses the mission.

Church sends tech expert Maggie with the Expendables, much to Barney’s chagrin as he doesn’t want to have to “babysit” the “woman.” She does, however, prove she’s competent and can take care of herself by retrieving the case from the plane. Unfortunately, Billy managed to get captured by villain Vilain (Jean-Claude Van Damme), and after Maggie sacrifices the case Vilain kills Billy anyway. The Expendables pursue Vilain and his men, both to get back the case and avenge Billy’s death.

They eventually learn that Vilain is in charge of an army called the Sangs, and that the Sangs have imprisoned the region’s men and forced them into slavery in a nearby mine housing plutonium left over from the Cold War. The case held blueprints with the exact location of the plutonium, and now that Vilain knows where it is, he can ramp up the digging and also enslave the region’s women and children.

In a fabricated city used as a Cold War training camp, the Expendables are pinned down by the Sangs, only to be rescued by Booker, an old comrade of Barney’s who hunts the Sangs full time. He’s invited to join the Expendables, but Booker explains he always works alone. He does, however, point them in the direction of one of the villages overtaken by the Sangs. The Expendables meet the women there, and the women explain what Vilain is doing in the mine and what he has done to their families.

The Expendables infiltrate the mine by crashing their plane into it, but that doesn’t really seem to do much other than get them and all the slaves trapped after Vilain blows up the mine. Gunner tries to make a bomb but it’s a dud, and everyone seems resigned to dying in the mine. However, a digging machine rumbles its way through the debris. It’s Trench! Trench and Church are working together to help the Expendables kill Vilain and take back the plutonium.

The climax of the film takes place at an airport, where the Sangs and the Expendables engage in an epic gunfight while Barney hunts down Vilain. The two leaders face off one on one while the Expendables slaughter the Sangs. Ultimately Barney prevails, and he, Trench, and Church discuss the mission, the future, and themselves. This final scene is memorable not just for the quippy one liners, but also for the multiple shots of three action greats together at once.

The film ends with a care package being sent to Billy’s girlfriend, and the Expendables traveling together on a new mission while toasting their late team member.

Just thinking of the three greats on screen together is making me smile.

On to the criteria!

A is for… Accents

It would almost be faster to note who doesn’t speak with an accent or noticeable speech pattern.

Statham is of course British.

Li is Chinese.

Schwarzenegger is Austrian.

Stallone is Stallone.

Van Damme is the “Muscles from Brussels.”

Yu is also Chinese.

I’m also going to throw in that Hemsworth is Australian, but plays an American so he hides his native accent.

B is for… Bad Guys

Vilain runs the Sangs, and is trying to find the five tons of weapons grade plutonium hidden in a mine by the Russians during the Cold War. He enslaves the region’s men and forces them to dig in the mine, and is ready to move onto the women and children by the time the Expendables catch up with him. He explains to his second in command, Hector (Scott Adkins), that the plutonium is worth four million dollars a kilo.

Booker describes the Sangs as a robbery, kidnapping, and assassinations cartel for hire.

C is for… Chases

The Nepalese gang chases after the Expendables in the opening, after they’ve rescued the Chinese businessman.

The Expendables can be seen as chasing Vilain, but they’re really more following him to try to find the mine.

D is for… Damsels

Maggie Chang is a technology and martial arts expert Church sends to Barney so she can crack the code on the safe holding the case. She also reveals herself to be a language expert, history expert, and torture expert. She is very much not a “damsel in distress.”

Christmas has his girl Lucy (Charisma Carpenter) that he plans to marry, even though Barney tells him she’s going to cheat on him.

Billy has his girlfriend Sophia.

The women in the village Booker leads them to are doing what they can to protect their families–they engage the Expendables in gunfire as soon as their truck stops, even though the women can’t hit anything. They have their sons locked away so they’re harder to find. They team up with these strange men (possibly because they have a woman with them) and fight the next round of Sangs that infiltrates their village.

E is for… Explosions

At the Nepalese camp the gas pumps are ignited.

There’s of course a rocket launcher.

An explosion is used to break into the room housing the businessman and Trench.

Barney’s plane has torpedoes, used twice to blow up bridges.

F is for… Flashbacks

There’s expository dialogue from Billy to explain his time in the army, but no actual flashbacks.

G is for… Guns

Check out the complete (and long) list at the IMFDB

The vehicles in the Expendables’ caravan are mounted with a ton of guns and other weapons.

The opening scene is a bloodbath as the Expendables mow down just about everybody.

Another shootout occurs in the simulated American town on the abandoned Russian base.

The women in the village have a lot of guns, but don’t know how to use them.

A massive shootout occurs at the airport during the climax; it basically rains bullets the entire duration of the scene.

H is for… Helicopters

The Nepalese villains have a military helicopter.

Vilain has a chopper, of course.

Church (or the CIA) has one at the airport.

During Statham’s fight with Hector, the viewer is just waiting for Hector’s head to connect with the blades on the rear rotor.

I is for… Improvisation

Yang throws his gun at the thugs in the camp. He then uses frying pans he finds as clubs.

Caesar shoots out the legs on a water tank to create a “wet wall.”

Christmas, dressed as a priest, uses his thurible as a club.

To infiltrate the mine, Barney crashes his plane through its doorway.

Gunner tries to make a bomb by scraping phosphorus from the rock in the mine. It doesn’t work.

Barney uses a chain as a weapon in his fight with Vilain.

J is for Jumping Through Solid Objects

Yang knocks a thug through a glass wall that seemed to be there solely for that purpose.

Trucks are driven through the glass windows at the airport.

Various villains are thrown through windows at the airport.

K is for… Kill Count

All of them. They kill all the bad guys. If the bad guys aren’t killed, they’re severely hurt. Booker even says he’s leaving the area because they “killed all [his] business.”

L is for… Limitations

The Expendables are hindered by their lack of knowledge about their adversary until Booker fills them in.

They also have to react as they go, rather than form solid plans.

M is for… Motivation

Church tells Barney to either get him the case from the safe or he’ll be put in Gitmo.

Once the case is stolen by Vilain and Billy is killed, Barney et al want to intercept Vilain from getting the plutonium, and also get revenge for Billy’s needless death. Eventually they want to save the villagers as well.

Vilain is in it for…wait for it…the money!! Four million a kilo for the plutonium!

N is for… Negotiation

Barney can either work for Church or go to Gitmo.

If Maggie gets hurt, Church will ensure the Expendables are never seen again.

Vilain will kill Billy if he doesn’t get the case. Unfortunately, he kills Billy anyway.

O is for… One Liners

Barney: What are you doing here?
Trench: Saving this Chinese billionaire.
Barney: So are we.
Trench: Then we have a scheduling problem, don’t we.

Caesar, to Trench: If I don’t get this back, your ass is terminated.

Gunner: Did you win?
Yang: Of course I win.

Caesar: I got your gang bang right here!

Barney: You missed!
Christmas, half incredulous: You’re aiming!

Barney: Kid’s amazing.
Christmas: Really? So am I. You’re just used to me.

Gunner: Then who am I supposed to pick on?
Yang: You will find another minority.

Barney: Take off, Rover.
Vilain: I’m impressed. Very good use of intelligence.

Christmas: What’s the plan?
Barney: Track him, find him, kill him.

Christmas: What’s she going to do, give them a pedicure?

Christmas: Can you hold them off?
Barney: Maybe with a tank. Oh shit.
Christmas: What?
Barney: They have a tank.

Barney: I’m still alive.
Christmas: That’s a matter of opinion.

Booker: I’ve mellowed.
Barney, looking at the bodies: Not that much.

Villager: Who you are?
Barney: We’re Americans.
Christmas, disgusted: Since when?
Gunner: Swedish.
Caesar: Blackfoot.
Maggie: Chinese.

Barney: Please. Your ego is like the size of a dinosaur. Huge.

Christmas: I now pronounce you man and knife.

Barney: Rest in pieces.

Christmas: You got any ideas that won’t get us killed?

Christmas: You’re going to need a new plane.

Gunner, after his bomb is a dud: The phosphorus must have been wet.
Christmas: Yeah, right.
Caesar: Or you suck.
Gunner: There is that.
Maggie: Don’t cry, Gunner.
Barney: You almost had an idea.

Trench, breaking through the rock wall: I’m back!

Trench: I’m almost out. I’ll be back.
Church: You’ve been back enough. I’ll be back.
Trench: Yippee-ki-yay.

Trench, after seeing Booker: Who’s next? Rambo?

Trench: My shoe is bigger than this car.

Vilain: I’m out of bullets.
Barney: That’s your problem.

Barney: That thing belongs in a museum.
Trench: We all do.

P is for… Profession

The Expendables as a group are hired mercenaries who have special ops or military training.

Billy was a sniper in the Army.

Christmas is the knife expert.

Gunner has a Master’s in chemical engineering.

Caesar is the gun expert.

Toll Road is the demolition expert.

Q is for… Quagmire

Everyone gets trapped in the mine, with no food or water, and no way to get out.

R is for… Reality, or the Suspension of Disbelief

They actually acknowledge running out of bullets, and not necessarily just for moving the plot.

The rest of it is a bit extreme, but not in a ludicrous way.

S is for… Sidekicks

Everyone on the team is each other’s sidekicks.

Ultimately Booker, Trench, and Church become sidekicks.

T is for… Technology

Despite Barney flying a 60-year-old plane, the film features an extremely high-tech safe that has a combination that changes every 120 seconds. If the correct code isn’t put in, it explodes.

Vilain uses a remote detonator on his bombs in the mine.

U is for… Unexpected Romance

Gunner clearly fancies Maggie, but she wants nothing to do with any of the guys. The only exception is some weird tension between her and Barney.

V is for… Vehicles as Weapons

There are a lot of vehicles in this movie. There are tanks, electric bicycles, trucks, jet skis, pontoon boats, airplanes, motorcycles, trams, and helicopters. Most of those are within the first ten minutes.

The Expendables’ vehicles are loaded with guns, battering rams, anything to make them beyond just a means of transportation. One even has a cow catcher to push obstacles out of the way.

When unsure of how to defeat a Nepalese helicopter, Barney throws a motorcycle into it.

W is for… Winning

With Trench’s help, the Expendables successfully free the miners. They then chase after Vilain to the airport, where with Church’s, Booker’s, and Trench’s help, they slay every single last Sang. Barney follows Vilain and engages him in a one on one fight that Vilain insists be done without weapons. Finally using chains, Barney strangles Vilain and stabs him with the knife Vilain had taken from him.

Trench, Church, and Barney talk outside about their past and future, admitting they’re “too old for this shit,” to borrow a phrase from Leathal Weapon.

X is for… X-Rays, or Maybe You Should See A Doctor

Barney is roughed up a little bit, to the point where Christmas tells him he should learn how to fight, but everyone else gets off entirely unscathed.

Y is for… Yesterday’s Problem Becomes Today’s Problem

Barney stole five million dollars from Church, which is why he’s on this mission at all. If Vilain hadn’t killed Billy, the Expendables might have spared his life, even considering his other atrocities.

Z is for… Zone, in the

Any time the Expendables are spraying bullets at a group of men, they are in their respective zones.

In Summation and Other Thoughts

The Expendables 2 certainly picks up where the first film left off in terms of cameos, one liners, and action, and overall it’s just plain fun. I’d’ve liked the final fight between Barney and Vilain to be longer, but I’ll take what I can get.

The shot of the caravan of vehicles coming over the ridge and down into the Nepalese camp was weirdly reminiscent of Mad Max: Fury Road, with weaponized vehicles traversing the sand.

The film is really bloody, like surprisingly so, but I read that the blood was added in post, which is disappointing. The “R” rating exists for a reason, so why not use it? I know, I know, they want the revenue from teenagers, but still. The nostalgia trip involved in this film is over the heads of most teens, and is more so for the target audience.

I kept thinking I should know the guy who plays Vilain’s second in command Hector, but I have no idea who he is. It would have been funnier to me personally to cast Robert Davi or Andrew Divoff.

The Chuck Norris cameo, complete with the theme from The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly, is pure gold, omg. Completely epic.

When Trench rips the door off of the smart car, I can’t help but think of John Matrix ripping out the car seat in Commando. Tell me that part doesn’t crack you up in that film.

It’s disappointing that Bruce Willis demanded so much money to appear in The Expendables 3. The series is partially a celebration of his work, and seeing him here is just a reminder that he needlessly priced himself out of the sequel, and for what? What did he gain other than a smear on his reputation?

I wish The Expendabelles would get out of development hell, but it doesn’t seem as if that film is being produced any time soon.

I guess we’ll also see if there’s a fourth Expendables movie made. Seems to be in limbo as well.

D is for… Double Impact

I wasn’t sure where to go with my next “D” movie, and it was suggested I do Double Impact. The suggestion was then followed by a laugh, so I knew it would be one of “those” sorts of action movies, more along the line of On Deadly Ground or Commando than Die Hard or Killer Elite. I enjoy Van Damme, so of course I was in.

If only I’d know what I was in for…

I kid, I kid–Double Impact, directed by Sheldon Lettich, is a lot of fun, and fits almost all of the action movie criteria as outlined in this site. Van Damme does a great job playing twins Chad and Alex Wagner, and Geoffrey Lewis does a good job as Frank Avery, Chad’s guardian and the twins’ sidekick. Also notable is that in addition to Alex’s girlfriend Danielle (Alonna Shaw), there is another female character with lines and a name, Kara, played by Corinna Everson. A lot of these movies have only one woman, often the damsel in distress.

Double Impact opens with the conclusion of a civil engineering project between Paul Wagner (Andy Armstrong) and Nigel Griffith (Alan Scarfe), specifically opening the Victoria Harbour Tunnel between Hong Kong and mainland China. Wagner has his wife Katherine (Sarah-Jane Varley) along with their twin sons, Chad and Alex, and sends his bodyguard, Frank, home for the evening. However, Griffith betrays the Wagners and has them killed by the Triads, led by Moon (Bolo Yeung) and run by Raymond Zhang (Philip Chan). Frank is able to rescue one twin, Chad, while the twins’ nurse (Wu Fong Lung) rescues Alex and drops him off at an orphanage.

Twenty-five years later Alex’s whereabouts are discovered by Frank, and he whisks Chad off to Hong Kong to reunite the brothers. Understandably they don’t like each other much at first, but eventually they grudgingly work together in order to protect their birthright by exposing Zhang and Griffith. Danielle works for Griffith and is spying on him, so she is their man on the inside, so to speak.

Frank, Chad, and Alex hole up in a derelict hotel on an island, which seems like a difficult place from which to launch an attack, but it seems to work, more or less.

Zhang and the Triads try to convince Alex, a smuggler, to join Zhang’s crew, but they don’t realize they’re talking to Chad at the time. Rather than accept the job, Chad tells Alex and Frank about the drop Zhang told him about, and they blow up the factory that appeared to be making drugs. They also infiltrate and blow up a nightclub where Zhang and Griffith are doing business.

Kara, one of Zhang’s/Griffith’s henchmen, lets on that she knows Danielle is up to something, and wears a wire, which has Danielle calling Alex to tell him that her cover is blown. She reaches Chad, who hustles to the mainland to save her. Kara and some other henchmen chase them and follow them via helicopter, and she realizes they must be staying at the hotel. They come back the next morning and abduct Frank and Danielle in order to draw out Chad and Alex.

The plan works, and Alex and Chad follow them to a ship, where Frank and Danielle are held hostage in the boiler room. Chad and Alex fight and shoot their way down to them, killing the henchmen and Moon in the process (and stabbing Kara, but there’s no way she could be dead, if movies have taught us anything about realistic consequences of a small knife wound to the side). They rescue Frank and Danielle, and go after Zhang and Griffith. The film of course ends on a high note, with the twins emerging successful, though how countless murders mean they can get their family fortune back is unclear.

But navigating Chinese homicide and estate law is a topic for another time.


Let’s move on to the criteria!

A is for… Accents

The Wagner parents and Griffith are British.

Chad’s Van Damme accent is explained by Chad having been raised in France.

Alex has a less pronounced version of Van Damme’s accent, sort of, but if he grew up in Hong Kong, wouldn’t he have more of a Hong Kong accent? It’s doubtful English would have been his first language.

Zhang and Moon of course have Chinese accents.

Danielle is…maybe a different region of Britain? It was different from other more common British accents used in films.

B is for… Bad Guys

Griffith worked with the Wagners, and had them murdered when he no longer needed Wagner’s expertise on the tunnel project. He was an equity partner and secured the loan from Zhang’s family. His company is Transworld Exports.

Zhang is a crime lord hired to take out the Wagners. He seems very professional, and always wears a suit except for when his men are infiltrating the hotel, when he wears a camouflage shirt.

Moon is Zhang’s lead henchman. He’s initially seen in awkwardly-fitting suits, but the suits were covering up his massive upper body. His face is scarred during the opening gunfight with Paul Wagner and Frank, so he must stand out among other Triad members.

C is for… Chases

When Alex, his partner, and Frank and Chad are smuggling the two Mercedes, the police discover them, resulting in a relatively slow and drama-less chase on boats through the harbor.

Kara and the other henchmen chase Danielle and Chad on foot through the streets once Danielle’s cover is blown, and they end up climbing from boat to boat.

The ultimate climax of the film (for there are two, it seems, one with the deaths of Moon and Kara, and the other with the deaths of Zhang and Griffith) takes place in a shipyard, with Alex and Chad chasing Griffith and Zhang through the maze of cargo crates.

D is for… Damsels

Danielle is Alex’s girlfriend, who works for Griffith and has been trying to spy on him, though not very successfully, it seems, until now. She’s bottle blonde and beautiful, and Alex adores her to the point of irate drunkenness when she spends time with Chad.

Kara is one of Zhang’s henchmen, and for some reason she dresses like a dominatrix and sexually harrasses Danielle. She’s super tall and is a good fighter.

E is for… Explosions

After Chad tosses the two Mercedes overboard, Frank shoots the gas tanks to make them explode, letting the boat get far enough away from the police.

Alex, Chad, and Frank blow up Zhang’s factory using C-4.

At the Climax Club, Alex and Chad plant crates labeled as “cognac” that are actually bombs.

The flammable drums on the ship during the climax catch fire and explode.

F is for… Flashbacks

No flashbacks, though the probably would have helped explain Alex’s life a little better.

G is for… Guns

For details check out the IMFDB.

When the Wagners get back to their house after the tunnel is opened, they are met with guns. In the resulting shootout, the Wagner parents are killed and Moon is injured.

While smuggling the cars, Alex et al are forced into a shootout with the police.

Alex, Frank, and Chad have quite the arsenal in the derelict hotel.

Before blowing up Zhang’s factory, there is of course a shootout, during which Alex fires two handguns while rolling on the floor, and Frank has a gigantic telescope on his rifle.

At the Climax Club, the fish tank gets shot out.

When storming the hotel, Zhang’s men fire gas grenades through the windows. They then engage in a shootout with Chad and Alex whenever they find one of them.

There are of course various shootouts on the ship during the climax.

H is for… Helicopters

Zhang has one, or maybe it’s Griffith’s. They use it to hunt Chad and Danielle, then transport Zhang to the hotel.

I is for… Improvisation

Chad realizes that their boat is too slow because of the heavy cars on it, so he sends them into the water to make the boat lighter so it moves fast enough that they can get away from the cops.

Chad throws a gun to a thug so the thug reflexively catches it, allowing Chad to fight him.

Moon uses barrels on the ship like he’s Donkey Kong and Chad is Mario.

Zhang uses the fire extinguisher on Alex.

Alex uses huge gears on the crane to crush Zhang’s arm.

J is for… Jumping Through Solid Objects

The long-haired henchman is kicked through a glass window.

K is for… Kill Count

Moon kills his own thug when the thug fails to injure Chad (whom everyone thinks is Alex at that point).

This is one of those films where it’s hard to really count the kills because there’s so many and because it’s unclear most of the time what’s a “kill” versus a “knock out.” Alex and Chad do kill the two guards on the ship when they first get there.

L is for… Limitations

Alex and Chad clearly have a difficult time working together, but anyone would if he or she suddenly learned they had a twin and had to infiltrate the Hong Kong underworld in order to claim their birthright.

It’s unclear what resources are available to Alex, Frank, and Chad. They obviously have a lot of weapons, including guns and C-4, but they are staying in a secluded, rundown hotel on an island. They have a boat and a cellular phone, but don’t seem to have anyone to turn to except the guy who runs the club Alex frequents.

There don’t seem to be any language barriers, but I don’t recall if Alex speaks Chinese in the film at all, even though it should be his first language. (then again, the little kids at the orphanage are singing “Frère Jacques,” so who knows.

M is for… Motivation

Zhang and Griffith killed the Wagners for the money. It seems that Zhang and Griffith didn’t even know that Alex, whom they seem to know, was one of the twins, though why would they? Once they realize there are two Alexes and thus one of them must be Chad, they want to kill him to get them out of the way and stop any further attacks.

Alex and Chad are prodded by Frank to take back what’s theirs. They want to collect the dividends earned on their father’s blood.

N is for… Negotiation

Zhang wants Alex to work for him and gives him time to think about it (though he’s talking to Chad at the time).

When it’s clear during the climax that Alex is going to kill Zhang, Zhang offers him half of everything to join him.

O is for… One Liners

Chad, during the goods exchange interrupted by the police: I almost got killed! …And by the way the cops are still chasing us.

Chad, at the derelict hotel: Can you show me one spot on the floor without bird shit on it?
Alex: Oh, sorry, we forgot to call the maid.

Chad, proud of his brother: I love Alex!
Alex, thinking Chad is sleeping with Danielle: I’m gonna kill him!

Alex: Now I’m drunk. Tomorrow I’ll be sober. But he’ll always be a faggot. (the line is funny because Alex is upset that he thinks Chad is sleeping with Danielle, which wouldn’t happen if Chad were gay.)

P is for… Profession

Chad is a fitness/aerobics/karate instructor in Frank’s business, and is perhaps a partner as well.

Alex is a smuggler and criminal in the Hong Kong underworld.

Q is for… Quagmire

Zhang and Moon abduct Frank and Danielle, and at that point the twins are not only fighting the thugs alone, they want nothing to do with each other. They must learn to set their differences aside in order to rescue their friends.

R is for… Reality, or the Suspension of Disbelief

There aren’t any unbelieveable stunts. However, it’s hard to imagine that Chad, a fitness instructor in Los Angeles, becomes a killer in a couple of days. It’s even harder to comprehend the plan: let’s kill everyone so we can claim our birthright! I know nothing about Hong Kong law, but I have to assume that if two guys come to me claiming to be lost twins owed money from twenty-five years ago, and that they can prove it because they killed a couple dozen people and caused some property damage, I’m more inclined to throw them in jail than have a sit-down about how to get them their money. It’s unclear how much evidence they have about anything at all, and certainly killing everyone involved can’t help.

S is for… Sidekicks

Frank Avery was the Wagners’ bodyguard, and when they were killed he raised Chad as if he were his nephew. He’s the one who finds Alex and brings Chad to Hong Kong, and provides necessary sniping and fighting.

Danielle is Alex’s girlfriend, and works for Griffith. She does eventually find information linking Griffith to the Wagners, but not before she raises too much suspicion. After that she gets abducted.

T is for… Technology

Alex uses a gigantic cellular phone, the kind that looks more like a radio than a phone.

Kara wears a wire when she tries to get Danielle to confess to espionage.

U is for… Unexpected Romance

There’s never any romance when the main character already has a woman, but Alex’s utterly irrational jealousy and fear has to be pointed out. Danielle never shows any interest in Chad once she understands that he’s not Alex, and Chad doesn’t seem like the type of guy to steal his brother’s girl. But rather than have faith in his lover and brother, Alex gets himself worked up into a jealous, violent fit by assuming Chad sleeps with Danielle. It’s ridiculous.

Unless, of course, the writers were trying to manufacture a way to have Chad and Alex fight, ensuring the audience got a Van Damme vs Van Damme fight that may have been promised in a trailer.

V is for… Vehicles as Weapons

There really aren’t too many vehicles in the film other than Alex’s boat.

W is for… Winning

Zhang abducts Danielle and Frank, and takes them to his ship. Once they follow them to the ship, Chad and Alex work their way through several henchmen while trying to reach the boiler room, until Chad electrocutes Moon by knocking him into an electrical box and Alex stabs Kara while she’s trying to strangle him.

Zhang and Griffith flee to the docks, but Alex and Chad chase them down until Alex lets Zhang fall from a crane, and Chad crushes Griffith with a shipping container.

Cue the camera freeze-framing on Chad giving the “okay” symbol.

X is for… X-rays, or Maybe You Should See a Doctor

No one really gets severely injured here, beyond some bumps, scrapes, and cuts.

Y is for… Yesterday’s Problem Becomes Today’s Problem

Obviously if Zhang’s hit on the Wagners had been completely successful, the twins wouldn’t have survived to come back. They wouldn’t have survived if Frank hadn’t chased after the Wagners once Paul knew they were being followed–had Zhang’s men not tried to copy Frank’s car to blend in, Paul wouldn’t have noticed because he’d told Frank to go home. It was seeing the identical car that piqued his suspicion.

During the shootout, Frank saw Griffith with Zhang. Why didn’t he go to the police then? Instead he abducted a baby and sat around for twenty-five years, letting the case get colder and colder, and giving Griffith more time to conceal the evidence?

Z is for… Zone, in the

Chad and Alex didn’t really seem to be in any sort of zone at all. Chad by his nature wouldn’t be, because he’s out of his element entirely. Alex is obviously comfortable with fighting and guns, but he’s never really shown to be making the plans, thinking through strategies, or executing flawlessly.

In Summation and Final Thoughts

Double Impact has a lot going for it, including a lot of action scenes, good casting with Geoffrey Lewis, Alonna Shaw, and Bolo Yeung, and of course the always enjoyable Van Damme. However, it suffers from an illogical plot. It’s easy to buy the twins-reunite-in-a-revenge-story plot, but unless their goal is to simple kill the people responsible for their parents’ deaths, they aren’t going to get anything for their efforts.

The film opens on a parade with a Chinese dragon. The last time that happened, I had to suffer through Year of the Dragon. This was not a good omen.

If the film takes place in roughly 1991, its release date, then the opening scene takes place in 1966, which explains why those infants are riding around in the backseat of the car with I don’t even think a seatbelt on them, let alone a proper child seat. It’s horribly jarring.

Paul Wagner realizes they’re being followed, so he just goes home? If they’re following him, they might know where he lives and have other people lying in wait.

The fake blood used during that opening shootout is a little too red and fake-looking.

Alex was dropped off at an orphanage, with no visible name tag or anything, yet he still grows up with the name “Alex.”

Van Damme’s characters are said to be only twenty-five years old. Even though Van Damme was only roughly 30 at the time of the production, he still didn’t look 25.

The introduction to the adult Chad prominently features a way too long take of his backside. We get it, he’s in great shape and can do splits.

The other karate instructor has a fantastic ‘80s mullet.

Chad takes the news of Frank not being his actual uncle quite well. “I’m not your uncle, even though that’s what I’ve been telling you your whole life.” “Okay.”

Those pink shorts Chad wears in Hong Kong… Clearly he’s wearing them so everyone can make fun of them, and deservedly. They aren’t even flattering. Combined with the shirt/tie combo he’s wearing during the Mercedes smuggling scene… Yikes. The ‘80s attack.

Van Damme and the wardrobe people did a great job of separating Chad and Alex, from the way they dress to their hair, to the way the twins carry themselves and the way Alex is always sucking on cigars. If I were just flipping through channels and not really paying attention, I might not have realized both roles were Van Damme.

Surprising for a movie or show about identical twins, they never do an intentional identity switching gambit. Instead, Chad is merely mistaken for Alex, and at the climax club they just make sure to dress alike and have only one of them visible at at time.

Speaking of cigars, between Zhang and Alex, there are a lot of cigars in this film. It’s very distracting, especially when Alex is speaking while holding one in his mouth. It’s not necessary.

I’d noticed during the scene where Zhang thinks Chad is Alex that Moon was wearing an oddly ill fitting suit, but it became apparent why when he strips down during the climax to display his huge upper body.

The film has one of those weird ‘80s action movie keyboard-heavy scores.

I’m not sure what to make of the lesbian scene where Kara hits on Danielle. Is she merely trying to make her uncomfortable because she suspects she’s spying? Or is she really interested in her? Is the scene simply fanservice?

Chad and Danielle hide out in the club Alex frequents, and constantly look out from the hidden room into the main bar through a fishtank. …it’s a fishtank, not two-way glass–eventually someone will see them if they keep standing there!

Danielle asks what proof they have that Griffith is corrupt, and Frank says they don’t need proof because he was there. Um… Yes, Frank, you do need proof. You get nothing without proof on a 25-year-old crime, especially when you eventually kill everyone involved.

Both Van Damme and Yeung eventually get shirtless, so there’s fanservice in the other direction.

The climax taking place on a ship and in the shipyard is sadly reminiscent of Wake of Death, a Van Damme venture that was not as entertaining as this one.

The film would probably be a minute or two shorter except there are many slow motion shots during the fighting. Kicks alone accounted for 16 slow motion shots.

The end credits credit the actors as portraying thugs, smugglers, and guards–not a lot of the characters have real names.

The end credit music–“Feel the impaaaaact,” by Gen. Classic.

N is for… The Negotiator

The Negotiator, directed by F. Gary Gray, is more of a thriller than an action movie, but it does have content for most of my categories, and stars Samuel L. Jackson, so it has to be included. I’m learning I may have an interest in hostage negotiations, as the film made me think fondly about Hostage (which I may review here at some point as I love that movie and it stars Bruce Willis), the short-lived but highly enjoyable Fox drama Standoff, and, oddly enough, Airheads (yes, the movie where Brendan Fraser, Steve Buscemi, and Adam Sandler take over a radio station).

In the film, Jackson plays Danny Roman, a hostage negotiator in Chicago. He is framed for the murder of his partner Nate (Paul Guilfoyle), who had just told him he had details about who was stealing money from the disability fund. Evidence against him includes he was seen standing over the body, the murder weapon can be traced to him, and there are receipts from an offshore bank account in his house. After realizing he has the support of no one as he argues his case, Danny takes the inspector for the Department of Internal Affairs (Niebaum, played by J.T. Walsh) hostage, along with his assistant (Maggie, played by Siobhan Fallon), a former thief (Rudy, played by Paul Giamatti), and his own boss (Frost, played by Ron Rifkin). Danny obviously knows how to shred his department’s training and get them all confused due to his familiarity with them, and he demands to speak only with the hostage negotiator for the other section of Chicago, Chris Sabian (Kevin Spacey).

As Danny negotiates with Sabian, it becomes clear that Danny isn’t lying or crazy; there is indeed something going on with his department, and so he may in fact be innocent (the audience knows he is, but no one in the film does). Sabian fights an uphill battle against Danny’s coworkers, including Beck (David Morse) and Chief Travis (John Spencer), and stops trusting them entirely once he realizes that there is a lot more going on than a disgruntled cop, especially considering the department seems intent on killing Danny rather than saving the hostages. His orders against full-on assault are entirely defied.

With Maggie and Rudy’s help, Danny is able to get the evidence he needs against Niebaum, but can’t act on the information before Niebaum is shot during an attempted infiltration. After realizing Danny was right and Niebaum’s death is the next step in someone covering up evidence, Sabian “allows” Danny to escape. He helps Danny get evidence to his department as Frost admits to stealing the money with three other cops in the department, and using part of it to frame Danny. The film ends with the guilty cops arrested, Danny free and clear, and a federal building in shambles on the 20th floor.

To the categories!

A is for… Accents

While there aren’t any actual accents in The Negotiator, certainly not any foreign ones at least, there is Jackson’s unique speech pattern and inflection.

B is for… Bad Guys

The film is a true mystery story, because the viewer has no idea “who the killer is” and only learns as Danny does. As such it’s kind of hard to label the “bad guys.” However, Niebaum, the Internal Affairs inspector whom Danny targets right away, just plain looks sleazy and bored and awful. Danny was right all along about him, as Niebaum eventually admits to “losing” his recordings with evidence of the guilty cops—Argento, Hellman, and Allen—when offered bribe money.

Throughout the entire negotiation, all of Danny’s coworkers are presented as sketchy and downright unlikeable as they try to get Danny to confess, except for Palermo (Michael Cudlitz) and Eagle (Carlos Gómez), and of course the fumbling Farley (Stephen Lee). Clearly this was to keep the audience in suspense, as I thought the suspicious-acting Beck was clearly in on the scheme and he actually had nothing to do with it.

Frost explains to Sabian that he used the stolen money to frame Danny, and that there isn’t much left. He names names, and overall seems rather unpleasant and self-righteous. Truth be told, I kind of suspected him from the beginning of the hostage takeover.

C is for… Chases

The film takes place mostly in one building, so there isn’t really any room for chases. There is one brief shot of a civilian helicopter that the police helicopter tells to move out of the air space, and it looks like a set up for a helicopter chase, but the civilian helicopter is never seen again.

D is for… Damsels

Linda, Nate’s wife, played by Rhonda Dotson, seems very nice and is friends with Karen, Danny’s wife. However, after Danny is blamed for Nate’s death, she is horrid and cold to him, which I suppose is to be expected. However, it’s frustrating that after he worked with Nate for so many years, she could so easily believe Danny killed him.

Karen (Regina Taylor) is Danny’s wife, and like every other movie wife married to a cop, she gives him grief about his job and how he performs it. She’s legitimately worried about him making it home alive every night, but their marriage is depicted as new and clearly she had to know what he did for a living before agreeing to marry him. She tells him not to be stupid.

Maggie is Niebaum’s assistant, and while intentionally not a ray of sunshine, so to speak, she’s an interesting character who must choose a side: support her boss, or help out the strange man keeping her locked up against her will. She seems very strong as she doesn’t cry or shy away from Danny, and later helps him unravel what a jerk her boss is.

E is for… Explosions

There aren’t any true explosions in the film, but there are many instances of flashbangs. Danny takes them from the vests of SWAT guys who tried to storm in and take him down, and uses them on his coworkers who try to infiltrate the office. He also uses one to start a fire that distracts everyone and allows him to escape.

F is for… Flashbacks

At one point there’s a brief flashback to Nate being shot, but that’s it.

G is for… Guns

There are plenty of guns in the film, though most of them are police weapons. Check out the full listing here at the IMFDB.

The film opens with Danny trying to talk down hostage-taker Omar (Tom Bower), and Omar has a shotgun. The same opening scene has a crowd of SWAT guys with their own assault weapons. Across the street, Palermo has his sniper rifle at the ready, awaiting Danny’s signal to fire.

Nate is shot with a handgun that is thrown into the lake. Danny is attached to the crime because the gun was one of a set of three, and he’d found and handed in the other two previously.

During Nate’s funeral, there is a 21 gun salute carried out by ceremonial rifles.

Danny takes a handgun to take Niebaum hostage and start his standoff.

Danny makes everyone in Internal Affairs hand over their guns, and a lot of them have revolvers.

The guns belonging to the SWAT guys that try to take down Danny have flashlights on them.

Shootouts include the two-SWAT-guy breach while Danny is out of Niebaum’s office, and the infiltration done by Argento to shoot Niebaum.

H is for… Helicopters

There are either multiple police helicopters flying around, or just one that keeps getting shown. Usually it’s shown depositing SWAT guys or holding SWAT guys as they try to take out Danny.

There’s the lone shot of the civilian helicopter that does nothing.

I is for… Improvisation

It’s somewhat unclear just how much prior planning Danny did versus making things happen with what he had. Either way it works, because there’s no shortage of guns for him to use nor non-lethal tools to work into his plan such as the flashbangs.

He also—after pretending to shoot Scott (Dean Norris)—is able to strip off Scott’s clothes and wear them himself to sneak out of the building to get to Niebaum’s house.

It’s also unclear as to whether or not he knew Maggie and Rudy were in Niebaum’s office at that exact time, or if he just got lucky that they were there and were also the key to him finding the evidence he needed.

J is for… Jumping Through Solid Objects

When Scott and his partner enter the office to try to get the hostages out, it’s unclear whether they shoot the windows out first or just smash through them.

K is for… Kill Count

Danny obviously tries very hard not to shoot and kill anyone, considering he’s a good cop that’s trying to prove his innocence. However, it’s unclear whether the SWAT guys trying to infiltrate the office are all either stunned, called off, giving up, or if Danny does actually shoot one or two. There’s a lot of chaos in those moments.

L is for… Limitations

Danny is fighting an immense uphill battle:

-He only has one day before he must choose to take the court’s deal or likely go to prison.
-Everyone thinks he’s guilty except for his wife.
-The people setting him up are cops, so they know all the tricks.
-He has to get his hostages to help him, which takes a lot of talk and work.
-Just as he knows the personal details of his coworkers and can manipulate them, they can do the same to him.

M is for… Motivation

Niebaum thinks Danny wants money, but the audience knows Danny wants to clear his name and save his life, avenge the death of his partner, and find out who stole the money.

Frost and the other cops, and of course Niebaum, just want money. It’s unclear why Danny is the one set up.

N is for… Negotiation

As Danny is a hostage negotiator, there’s a lot of negotiation in The Negotiator. (I know, you’re shocked.)

In the opening scene, Danny tries to negotiate with Omar: “I show you your wife and you let the girl go, but let me in first.”

The judge overseeing Danny’s case tells him he has one day to make a deal rather than go to court.

Danny argues with Niebaum, “You don’t feel like talking? We’re going to stay here until you do.”

Danny also says that if Sabian doesn’t arrive on the scene in 20 minutes, Rudy dies.

Sabian is introduced as he tries to negotiate with his wife and daughter—his wife to come out of the bedroom and his daughter to get off the phone. He fails on both accounts.

Danny, trying to both bust Farley’s chops and show he’s serious, argues, “You say no again, I’ll kill somebody.”

Rudy plays the “I’ve changed so don’t hurt me” card, and says he found a woman with a great kid.

Danny offers to his hostages, “We’re not leaving here until we find out who set me up.”

He also challenges, “I know the rules of engagement, so don’t test me.”

Danny tells his coworkers that he won’t give up until he gets back his badge, if he dies he gets a departmental funeral, he learns the identity of Nate’s killer, and learns the identity of Nate’s informant. He continues to say they have eight hours until he kills one hostage an hour, and he wants to talk to Sabian face to face.

Sabian argues, “We’re gonna do it my way, or I walk.”

Danny is told that if one more gun is fired, the SWAT guys are coming in.

After Sabian starts making the calls to force things along, Danny offers him one hostage if he gets the electricity turned on and brings food and blankets for the hostages.

Later he offers to Sabian that if Sabian can get the name of whomever Nate spoke to the night before he died, he’ll surrender one hostage.

Sabian argues, “Make one wrong move, I’ll take you down myself.”

After Danny vacates, Rudy and Maggie are interrogated, and when Maggie refuses to give up Danny’s next move, she’s told she needs to speak up or go to jail.

Argento and Danny tell each other to make a deal.

Sabian demands, “You want to deal? You deal with me.”

Frost and Sabian negotiate what cut of the stolen money will be given to Sabian to keep his mouth shut. They work down from 60% to 50% to 30% to 45% to 35%.

O is for… One Liners

Danny, illustrating how good he is at lying and sweet-talking hostage takers, after talking about being in the Marines and loving his pet dog: I was in the army and I fucking hate dogs.

Guy interrupting Nate talking with Danny: You girls blowing each other?
Danny: I was about to get a blow job till you showed up.

Beck: He’s one of our guys. We got this.
Fed: That’s fine. For now.

Sabian, failing to placate his wife after their daughter makes a remark: That’s not the word she used. She used a… much worse word.

Sabian: I once talked a man out of blowing up the Sears tower but I cannot talk my wife out of the bedroom or my kid off the phone.

Danny: You’re goddamn right this is serious. So why don’t you take me seriously?

Danny: I’m relaxed. I’m very fucking relaxed.

Rudy, to Farley, after Farley fails Danny’s “no” test: We’re all okay, just don’t be saying ‘no’ no more, motherfucker!

Sabian: So what’s this then, the exception that disproves the rule?

Danny, to Sabian: You’re much better at this than Farley.

Sabian: Mrs. Roman, you bring tension and emotion to a scene that already has too much of both.

Rudy: Do I look like I’m okay? I have a gun pointed at the back of my head.

Danny: When your friends betray you, sometimes the only people you can trust are strangers.

Sabian, angry with the department for not listening to him: Your chain of command just gave Danny Roman two more hostages!

Sabian: You want to shoot him on national television now?

Rudy: I’m very disappointed in all of you.

P is for… Profession

Danny, as depicted in the opening scene, is a hostage negotiator. Right away the audience sees how the process works and what tools are available to him, such as a list of the taker’s likes and dislikes, and cameras and mirrors being used for visibility. Danny smooth talks by necessity, and thus is very good at it. He’s also somewhat of a rogue, evident by the way in which he chooses to go in and talk with Omar face to face and unarmed, rather than storm in with the SWAT guys. At the chief’s party his coworkers say he’s “on the news again,” and the news says he “saved the day again,” so clearly he’s high profile and good at what he does. He is immediately vilified by his coworkers, which lends credence to the idea that some of them are in on the framing—there isn’t anyone at all willing to stand up for him?

Again one has to wonder if he planned to take additional hostages, those particular hostages, or if he just got lucky. He of course knows all the tricks used in negotiations, so he seals off the vents and exits, destroys the cameras (which is coworkers seem so disappointed about; obviously he’s going to find and destroy them!), and shuts the blinds to ensure zero visibility for anyone outside.

He’s also described as being an expert in explosives and tactics, and one of his coworkers uses “Stockholm” as a verb to describe Danny using his familiarity with everyone to get them on his side.

He’s been working there for twelve years, but Frost has known him for twenty years.

Q is for… Quagmire

The only time Danny seemed to be in true danger was during the fire fight where Niebaum gets killed, but he does a good job of defending himself anyway. Niebaum was the immediate and primary target.

R is for… Reality/Suspension of Disbelief

The Negotiator is an example of one of those tight but thrilling, high stress/stakes films that can actually happen. The theft itself is loosely based on a theft in St. Louis.

As far as the actual hostage negotiation process as depicted, there’s a featurette on the DVD in which an actual hostage negotiator is filmed talking about his craft, so clearly research and care went into how everything was put together.

S is for… Sidekicks

While seemingly tricky to collect sidekicks while taking people hostage at gunpoint, Danny manages.

Sabian, as the other negotiator, can be counted, for even though they’re on opposite sides, they ultimately want the same thing: everyone to get out alive. Sabian is also described as never forcing tactical action, meaning he prefers to talk out the situation rather than go in guns a-blazing. In five years he has had zero casualties on a case. He once negotiated for 55 hours. It’s unclear how Danny knows Sabian or how well, but it’s obviously better for Danny to negotiate with someone unrelated to his department. Sabian, once he starts getting suspicious, points out that even though he has nothing invested in what’s going on with Danny, he seems to be the only person not interested in shooting him.

Palermo can be counted as a sidekick because while he doesn’t actively help Danny, he refuses to shoot him when ordered to.

Maggie is brave and sides with Danny over her boss—or perhaps just knows giving Danny the information she has will get them all out of there faster and alive. She tells Danny about the files on Niebaum’s computer, and helps Rudy navigate the computer’s security system. She also tells Danny that Niebuam worked from home a lot and probably has the recordings Danny needs at his house.

Rudy is a ‘former’ criminal Danny apprehended. He’s able to use Maggie’s information to navigate Niebaum’s computer to find and play the audio files of tapped phones that Niebaum had been storing. He also—while knowing he will remain a hostage by providing the information—points out that Sabian is lying when he says he has Nate’s informant, because Nate himself is listed as the informant.

T is for… Technology

Remote cameras are used to provide visibility inside hostage scenes.

It is very distracting when Danny looks at his beeper, because in today’s age beepers seem to be associated with doctors and the mid-late ‘90s.

The files on Niebaum’s computer are wire taps.

Sabian “has” the evidence stored on two floppy discs, which surely can’t hold all that many taps.

Simple handheld radios are the final tool used to reveal Danny’s innocence, as Frost spells everything out for Sabian like a Bond villain.

U is for… Unexpected Romance

Fortunately, as Danny is married and Maggie is strong and rightfully angry, there is no romance at all in the film.

V is for… Vehicles as Weapons

There aren’t many vehicles at all, because most of the film takes place on one floor of a building and the police camp outside the building.

But, considering the police helicopter(s) has SWAT guys leaping out of it and brandishing weapons from it, it counts.

W is for… Winning

After Danny gets the information off of Niebaum’s computer and Maggie tells him there’s more at Niebaum’s house, Danny escapes the building (with Sabian’s help) and makes his way to Niebaum’s home office. Two of the guilty cops get there and try to talk Danny down. Eventually Frost shows up, and he shoos the cops out and locks the door behind him. It’s finally revealed that Frost was also involved in the theft.

Sabian reveals himself to be there, and says he wants part of the stolen money. Frost explains that there isn’t much left because he’s been spending it, and a lot was used to set up Danny. Danny comes out, and Sabian shoots him in the gut after trying to signal him by referring to a movie they’d discussed earlier. Sabian hands over the floppy discs with the evidence, and Frost crushes them.

Frost exits the house and informs the collected arsenal of police that Danny is dead. He then realizes that everyone had heard his confession of involvement in the crime on their radios, because as Danny and Sabian exit the house behind him Danny reveals he was using Sabian’s radio to broadcast Frost’s confession. The guilty cops are arrested.

Now clear, although shot, Danny is taken to the hospital, and given back his badge by Sabian.

X is for… X-rays, or Maybe You Should See a Doctor

Danny gets shot in the arm during the hostage scene, but is just fine.

Sabian shoots him in the gut to trick Frost into confessing. Somehow Danny seems okay enough to dramatically hand over his gun once Frost is down, and Sabian half drags him to the stretcher. Why the stretcher wasn’t brought to him, I don’t know.

Y is for… Yesterday’s Problem Becomes Today’s Problem

Literally if a day or two before Nate had been honest about what was going on, the entire framing situation could have been avoided. Danny could have pushed harder to get the information.

Z is for… Zone, in the

Throughout most of the film Danny is in his element; he’s a professional hostage negotiator who is just working the other side as the hostage taker. Because he knows everything that will be tried, he can easily sidestep and use whatever happens to his advantage. He also knows when to fold them, so to speak, such as offering Frost back in order to get the electricity turned on.

In Conclusion…

The Negotiator was very enjoyable, and while long it didn’t seem to drag like other films I’ve reviewed (Executive Decision, I’m looking at you). The concept is really interesting, and the execution is very good. Jackson and Spacey are great, and the supporting cast of hostages is excellent. The situation is very tense, but Rudy with his attitude and Farley with his hilarious inadequateness help to add some humor.

As I mentioned in my intro, the film is reminiscent of other films, but I neglected to refer to the film that kept popping into my head: Die Hard. Perhaps I’m unfairly associating Jackson with Die Hard because of his role in Die hard With a Vengeance, but I think the comparison is warranted.

-The film’s setting of one office and one trailer makes it very claustrophobic, which was intentional on the part of Die Hard.
-There is talk of western movies, though not of Roy Rogers.
-I found myself recalling the bits of conversation related to Hostage Terrorist, Terrorist Hostage.
-There’s reference to “the man upstairs,” an expression Gruber uses to describe McClane, and which McClane uses to describe God.
-There’s the inevitable “city versus federal” power struggle.
-Interestingly, there’s no mention of shutting off the heat in Die Hard, but that may be because it’s Los Angeles. It would still get chilly at night at Christmastime, though. And while off topic, there’s a lot of sweating going on in The Negotiator, considering it’s supposed to be cold out enough to need heat.

There’s a reference to AMC showing old westerns, which served as a reminder that AMC once upon a time actually aired American movie classics, not anything that fit the definition of a “movie.” And remember when it didn’t have commercials? /soapbox

The Negotiator is definitely something I’d recommend to people, even if it’s not a true “action” movie. The suspense and genuine mystery, however, and the chemistry between Spacey and Jackson, make the film really entertaining and not in need of more explosions or chases. There are plenty of guns, clever bits of dialogue, sidekicks, and negotiation to round it out.


H is for… Hidden Agenda

G is for… The Glimmer Man

F is for… Faster

E is for… The Expendables 2

D is for… Double Impact

C is for… Crank

B is for… The Bourne Identity

A is for… Air Force One

I is for… Interceptor

Z is for… The Zone (Dogfighters)

Y is for… Year of the Dragon

X is for… XXX

W is for… Wake of Death

V is for… Vehicle 19

U is for… Under Siege

T is for… True Lies

S is for… Sudden Death

R is for… Rambo: First Blood

P is for… Predator

O is for… On Deadly Ground

N is for… The Negotiator

M is for… Machete

L is for… Lethal Weapon

K is for… Killer Elite

J is for… The Jackal

I is for… I Don’t Have an “I” Movie

H is for… Hard Target

G is for… G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra

F is for… Face/Off

E is for… Executive Decision

D is for… Die Hard

C is for… Commando

B is for… Bad Boys

A is for… Assassins

26 Criteria

Welcome to the ABCs of Action