Movie Review: Thank you for Your Service


“Thank you for Your Service” is what we all say when we see an army Veteran, regardless of which war he was in. With all of the times I have said this to a War veteran, including even Senator John McCain, who I met in in April 2000, it has always felt like an awkward thing to say. Realizing that this statement that is the title of this movie; while sincere, always seems extremely inadequate compared to what many of these people have gone through. This movie is about the battle scars of war after these men return home and this aspect of the very harsh realities of war, was extremely well portrayed in this film.

Thank you for your Service is set in the year 2007, as the war in Iraq that started in March 2003 still raged on. Just about at the start of this film, 3 soldiers who are now close friends are on a plane returning home and what follows is a the story about the harsh reality of life and PTSD after fighting in a war. What this film did the best was to show the callousness of the Army officers these 3 soldiers encountered at the Veterans Administration that included stupid comments can be summed up by “Oh get over it”. As these 3 men desperately struggled to recover from horror, the anger and the guilt they lived through in Iraq, they were faced with living in squalor when they returned home with no chance to ever get a normal job and the facing the incompetence of an overwhelmed Veterans Administration that seemed was completely incapable of helping any of them.

Very few of us are able to step out of ourselves and identify with a major trauma another person has gone through with the ability to not only relate to their trauma and give them empathy that is in proportion to the damage they have endured. The famous expression “Walk a Mile in my Shoes” comes to mind. This is never more true with War PTSD as compared any other type of psychological trauma. For solders like this, who have gone through hell and might never get over reliving the horrible events they witnessed, hearing something like “Just get over it” just might be the most infuriating and damaging thing they ever hear from anyone. Getting over PTSD is proportional to the severity of the trauma, the length of time involved and the ability of that persons brain to heal and stop reliving the events and the pictures that flash in their brain they can never stop replaying over and over again. Getting psychological help for many of these soldiers, due to the lack of funding and inefficiencies within the Veterans Administration has been inadequate in this country for many years, including they year the true story of this film is set, 2007.

I thought the acting with Thank you for Your Service was outstanding starting with Miles Teller who plays the starring role, Haley Bennett who plays Teller’s wife,Beulah Koale who plays Teller’s close friend from the war and surprisingly, comedian Amy Shumer who is proving that she is a very good dramatic actor as well as an outstanding standup comedian.

I highly recommend Thank you for Your Service.

Movie Review: Suburbicon


While sitting through this bad movie, hoping it would end soon, I could not help wondering what “Suburbicon” was really all about. A black comedy satire about murdering your wife for insurance money or a commentary on bigotry within an all white Suburban community in the 1950’s where a young black family moves into an all white neighborhood and is terrorized by all of the white residents? When it was all finally over, I still didn’t know the answer to this question.

A movie that is trying to be a black comedy, a satire, and a commentary on race relations all at the same time is a very bad idea. Even more surprising was that the screenplay for this film was written by Joel and Ethan Coen, two of the best screenwriters of all time. I thought it was surprising that both Matt Damon and George Clooney read the script for this movie and still decided to make it. My guess is that Clooney and Damon just thought that because the Coen brothers wrote this bad script then it must be good. Very bad decision.

The ratings on Rottentomatoes for this movie are very low, only 26% and for IMDB only 4.7. These numbers are very low and this movie deserves these low ratings. This film is yet another very bad attempt to be very different with a screenplay and movie idea and in the end the most important thing is lost – actually entertaining the audience.

I thought this was a pretty bad movie and it should not be seen by anyone.

Movie Review: Only the Brave


Once again, a Hollywood movie has been released that correlates to recent real life events. This movie is similar to Geostorm that is about curing extreme weather events that we have seen in this country during the last few months and “Only the Brave” is about wildfires and there have been huge deadly wildfires in Northern California in recent weeks. As I watched this movie, I wondered like most people, why anyone would ever want to risk their life doing this job to make a living. As was made very clear within this story many times, putting out forest fires is one of the most dangerous jobs in the entire world. Wild fires that occur in so many areas of this country move extremely quickly, change direction instantly and can kill someone is several different ways including burns, carbon dioxide poisoning, smoke inhalation and even suffocation.

“Only the Brave” is a real life story about the “Granite Mountain Hotshots” where 19 firefighters were killed when they were surrounded by a wildfire. Josh Brolin plays the administrator of the group and Jennifer Connely plays his wife. There are also very good side stories in this movie including a drug addict played by Miles Teller, who is invited to join the group, despite his addiction. I thought the acting and screenplay for this movie were outstanding.

I highly recommend Only the Brave.

Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House


Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House is the story of Mark Felt, one of the leaders of the FBI in the 1960’s and 70’s, who was passed over to be director of the FBI and turned out to be the legendary “deep throat”, who along with the Washington Post and Woodward and Bernstein brought down the presidency of Richard Nixon.

What was very good about this movie was showing what Mark Felt went through, including some threats against his only daughter, the effect of being the main informant for the Watergate scandal and what that meant to his career in the FBI. Unfortunately this film was mostly too boring and too long to recommend. The cast, starring Liam Neeson and several other recognizable actors including Diane Lane who plays Felt’s wife was good, but not very memorable. Unfortunately I cannot recommend this film because of these reasons.

Movie Review: Geostorm


The only remarkable thing about the new film Geostorm is the timing of its release, right after by far the worst Hurricane season this country has ever seen. Real life events and movies like this have correlated in the past but I thought the timing of this movie being made and released was rather amazing and its too bad this movie was not up to its level of coincidental release.

Unfortunately, the problem with this film was taking a great idea that would result in great special effects and having a number of producers and directors trying to add “Hollywood drama” to the story and the end result is an overly complicated and in the end, rather stupid story that involves politics, assassination and a series of events that really have no connection with end of the story. This movie could have been made so much better by just following the simple idea of less is more. How about a computer glitch or something that created a problem with the space station and the surrounding satellites that were built to fix extreme weather conditions? It would have been interesting enough to watch how the scientists were able to debug and fix the software and hardware problems. But some producer or director, who thought it was too risky to create an intelligent story to go with the special effects slapped together a formula story that follows the typical Hollywood paradigm and actually ruined what could have been a very good action movie. This is highly unfortunate considering the budget for this film and the low ratings on Rotten-tomatoes of only 11% backs up my opinion on where the mistakes were made.

Gerard Butler is the main actor of this movie, playing the lead scientist who created a space station and sattelites that control the weather along with Ed Harris and some other actors we have all seen before, but their appearance was not enough to make this any more than a very average movie. See this film for the special effects and for no other reason.

Movie Review: The Foreigner


The acting career of Jackie Chan goes back 55 years to a film called, Big and Little Wong Tin Bar and since then he has probably completed more films, preformed more stunts and has broken more bones and been hospitalized than probably anyone in movie history. Many of Chan’s past martial arts films have elements of comedy in them that for the most part have worked over the years and his collaboration with Chris Tucker in 3 “Rush Hour” movies, with a forth installment recently announced has been very successful.

The movie “The Foreigner” is one of the few purely dramatic roles I have seen Jackie Chan in and his “have nothing to lose” and almost without emotion acting in this movie after losing his last daughter in an explosion by the IRA (Irish Republican Army) I thought was very believable and well done. Terrorism is a very unfortunate fact of life, and due to the Taliban and so many organizations like them, the world has almost forgotten about how many bombs the IRA has set off over the years.

As far as the story of a distraught Chinese man who wants to avenge his daughters death using his skills as Operative, I thought that the plot was a bit overly complicated but Chan’s dogged determination and singular desire for the names of the terrorists who murdered his only daughter was well done throughout. The martial arts scenes in this movie were also well done and believable in their real life stumbling awkwardness, unlike many other fight scenes I have seen that look too choreographed. The actor Pierce Brosnan is also in this movie as one of the head people involved with an IRA organization and I thought his acting was also very good in this film.

I thought the Foreigner was a well made movie and I do recommend it.

Movie Review: The Mountain Between Us


Everybody has seen elements of the movie “The Mountain Between Us” many times before and more than likely on a TV movie on the LIFETIME network. This film is mostly about 2 people who survive a plane crash on a mountain with a dog and I admit that the dog is a slightly different twist on a story we have all seen many times before. At the start of this film I was thinking why anyone would want to fly in a very a small plane over a the snow covered mountains of the Colorado area, no matter how desperate they are to get to where they are going and its obvious that this is something most people would never do. There is no mystery her with this story and from the trailers we all know that this plane will crash and from there, the only thing we are curious about is how they will manage to survive and find their way off the freezing cold mountain. Once you crash and are huddled in the remains of a small plane, freezing to death, its hard to really write a story that is that interesting. The audience will wonder how they would react in a situation like this, but for the most part there is not much you can do, other than hope you are found and rescued, try to find food and water and when all hope is lost of being found, try to walk off the mountain. As a screenwriter I would find it very hard to make an interesting story about a situation like this, but the screenwriter did try a twist in such a way that at first seemed unlikely and then towards the end was somewhat effective.

Several things did not make sense in this story, starting with the dog who seems to be full of energy and running around even after not eating for days and trekking through a very cold mountain as one example. This movie stars Kate Winslet and Idris Elba and I thought that they were both good in their roles despite the weak overall story. In the end I thought this movie was not a bad one but just OK and I give it a very mild recommendation and I did like the ending.

Movie Review: Blade Runner 2049


In order to enjoy a movie like Blade Runner 2049, that is a sequel to the original Blade Runner, released in 1982, you have to either have seen and liked the original Blade Runner or be filled on on what happened in the original so you better understand this film. There are a few sentences at the start of this sequel to the original that talks about replicants and a bankrupt company that makes these replicants but not enough information to know what happened in the last movie.

Additionally, you have to get used to the dark, rainy and very depressing environment of this futuristic world where either a nuclear war, global warming or both have ruined the planet earth forever. For me the constant rain, darkness, bombed out buildings and extremely depressing world of the future offset some of the good special effects. I also thought that the screenplay was pretty hard to follow as the main character of K, played by Ryan Gosling tries to solve a complicated mystery that involves the daughter of the original Blade Runner played by Harrison Ford in the first movie. One bright spot is the virtual character played by Ana de Armas, but overall despite the very high opinions of the critics, over 80% for both Rottentomatoes and IMDB, I cannot recommend this movie, for the reasons I mentioned and for that fact that this movie was too long and boring in too many spots to recommend.

Movie Review: American Made


I always wondered why anyone would want to have a job working for the various Airlines in the world and that includes being a pilot. The pay for an Airline pilot considering the fact that you are never home, living in Airports and Hotels and constantly en-route to somewhere in the world, is definitely not worth it in my opinion. Why anyone would want to be a flight attendant is a whole new question because considering all the huge downsides, that has to be one of the worst jobs there is.

The new movie “American Made” is about an Airline pilot from the year 1978 named Barry Seal, played very well by Tom Cruise, who was married had a few kids and was like so many who had his job back in the 1970’s needed to make a lot more money. What follows in this amazing true life story is a series of events that seemed more like a work of fiction then something that could ever have actually happened. From an opportunity with the CIA to aerial take pictures of a South American country, to drug and gun running followed by an upward and then downward spiral that is hard to believe, this is a story that when you see it you wonder why you never heard who Barry Seal was before this movie.

What happened to Barry Seal in this story is what happens to many people who get very rich quickly and then think they can never make a mistake or get caught because eventually all that money makes them very stupid and it all just goes south. Another recent movie that demonstrates greed and stupidity at this level is last years War Dogs and what is even worse with this story is Seal’s involvement with some very dangerous drug lords in South America. American Made is a big departure from movies that Tom Cruise normally makes with a much lower budget than the big budget Mission Impossible movies and the bad “The Mummy” he made this year.

I thought that American Made is a very well told and amazing story about an American Airline pilot who went bad and I do recommend it.