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NEWBIES: If this is your first trip here (welcome!), here’s the QT on what these reviews are.
THIS WEEK: Owen Wilson plays it straight as a Texas Dad transferred to an unnamed third-world Asian nation by his water-company employer. Just before he and his wife and two daughters arrive, there’s a bloody coup and the rebels decide to kill every non-Asian they see, especially anyone associated with the US company…and Wilson’s face is on a giant “Welcome” banner in the main hotel! As Doctor Who likes to say, “RUN!!”
(This has nothing to do with the 1994 Ray Liotta film with the same name.)
Screenplay by John Erick Dowdle and Drew Dowdle. Directed by John Erick Dowdle.
- Holey monkey crap, this one gets going pretty early and never lets up. The film opens with the coup and then flashes back 16 hours to the family’s plane ride and arrival at the hotel. Of course, the family has no idea what’s occurred; there’s no news to be found since the country’s communications network is even worse than my phone and cable companies’ combined.
- Casting is superb! Wilson is totally believable, as is his scared-but-strong wife (Lake Bell) and two kids. The girls are perfect for their ages; one disobeys for no reason like kids do, and the other just wants her stuffed bear and something to eat. It takes awhile for both figure out there’s some really bad s***t goin’ down, and the parents have to try to get them on board…and keep quiet!
- Pierce Brosnan, as a fellow passenger, is his usual kind-of-wacky Brit-with-a-secret self, but good as always.
- The cinematography is unnoticeable at the right times; other than some cool angles and such, you don’t really think about it so it draws you into what’s happening even more.
- This may be a “con” for some, but there’s scads of violence, gunshots, blood and brutality as there would be in such a situation. And it ain’t the “boom bam boom!” kind of guns you see/hear in action flicks; it’s more like the blunt “pop pop!” you hear on the news. Again, realism.
- Points for pacing. Once the mayhem starts, it never lets up other than to let the characters sleep for a few hours. (They’re only shown eating once in a 24-hour period.) You are part of the movie from the get-go.
- Thankfully there are some (appropriate) chuckles to relieve some of the tension…but they don’t last.
- Kenny Rogers is apparently famous (and relevant?) everywhere.
- Not everyone in the country is bloodthirsty for dead round-eyes; there’s a couple who are helpful, whether for selfish or other reasons.
- Wilson’s character works for “Cardiff”—that’s either a swipe at Cargill or a tribute to DOCTOR WHO and TORCHWOOD (the city of Cardiff, Wales is where they’re shot). Can’t tell which.
- A very cool and clever irony at the very end (for anyone familiar with the 70s)…sometimes you find salvation in the most unlikely places.
- Because the filmmakers had to get into everything soon, there’s not much character set-up with the family. You feel for them more as fellow humans/Americans than because of their characters. I didn’t care, but critics prob’ly will.
- A (thankfully) short preachy political speech towards the end about big corporate and political interests screwing with smaller countries and their citizens who don’t want or need it. Quote: “These people are trying to protect their families much like you are.” That’s really bullcrap because I don’t see gangs of average Americans blowing Mexicans or Indians away on the streets for taking our jobs, or cutting their throats in posh hotel rooms. We didn’t even do that to the ”one percent” during the Financial Crisis recession.
- There’s a couple scenes with child trauma and attempted rape that might be too intense/hard to watch for some viewers (but not glorified or gratuitous). And it shows how dark a man can get to defend his family. So do NOT take your damn kids!
- Only one scene (a pivotal one, too) came off as one of those “writer needs X to happen so Y does” scenes I’ve ranted about before. Come on: if you’re hiding and trying to draw someone’s attention away from someone else, throwing a rock or other object is sufficient. That’s all I’m sayin’
- If you’re going to have a scene in a brothel, I want dang nekkid boobies and buns! Didn’t really get much if anything…this movie makes you think working in a third-world Oriental whorehouse is a bad thing.
- This will do nothing for Asian tourism. And sure enough, the bitchin’ and bad reviews from the brainless idiot PC bullies are all screaming “xenophobia” like you’d expect. And if they were in Dwyer’s position, those hypocrites would all behave the same way. (I ain’t never been outta Uncle Sam’s arms except for Canada and Mexico, and I aim to keep it that way. And I ain’t goin’ to Mexico again either!)
This is certainly worthy of the big-screen experience, but if you see it at home you can always wash off your mind with a Simpsons or South Park afterward…and trust me, you’ll want to. It’s not the kind of film you’ll want to see over and over, but you’ll be glad you saw it once. Easily the most intense new movie I’ve seen of the year, if not the last few years! [MIKE: My wife felt like walking out a couple times.] Definitely makes you appreciate living in the good ol’ USA!!! (All right, the U.K. and Canada too. Throw in Australia and New Zealand because of Hugh Jackman and Peter Jackson.) God bless America!
P.S.: Get something dramatic, disturbing, funny or sexy in ART. That Pascale guy does some cool stuff fer cheap. Just ask Craig here!
DISCLAIMER: The (racist and sexist) opinions expressed herein are not necessarily those of Wednesday’s Heroes, Mike Pascale, the Asian continent or its people, American corporations, Cargill, guerrillas, gorillas or postal employees. Some call Bru a Xenophobe, but he says he never watched the show and would do Lucy Lawless in a minute.