Film News: Taken II

When will the bad guys just learn to leave Liam Neeson and his family alone? I mean really, this guy is a one man wrecking crew, and giving him a reason to be pissed is just a bad idea.

Well, some people are stubborn and underestimate the man’s sheer bad-assedness, so we have a sequel to the 2010 hit, Taken, titled as, well, Taken 2.

In Taken II, Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson), his ex-wife (Famke Janssen) and his daughter (Maggie Grace) go to Istanbul, Turkey for what appears to be little more than R&R. However, unbeknownst to them, Bryan has a bounty on his head, placed by a vengeful father of one of the men who perished in Mills’ initial slaughter in the first movie. When the family comes to Turkey, Mills watches as his wife is kidnapped, and warns Kim to get the hell out of dodge.

Once he hangs up the phone, the ass kicking begins. In what few clips of combat we see, it is clear that Mills has not gotten rusty when it comes to kicking ass and taking names. Even from what we see of Kim, it appears that daddy may have given her a few lessons in how not to get caught, as we see her leaping from building to building. Well either that, or she simply doesn’t want to be a hooker again.

Critics expressed concern over how a successful sequel could be framed for the first film, which was a huge success. Well, I am impressed by the potential that this sequel’s story holds. While there is still the element of kidnapping, the story has switched Mills from being on the offensive of finding his daughter, to the defensive of evading and taking down his hunters. All the while, he is still painfully aware that his wife is being held captive and his daughter is also being hunted.

While with the first film, Mills incentive to rescue Kim was natural, as a father would wish to defend his daughter, yet in this movie I wonder what is encouraging him to rescue Lenore. Is it rekindled love? Love for Kim? Or perhaps there is something more to this story? Well either way, this is definitely a film that I plan to watch, and I can’t wait to see if it out does it’s predecessor.

Taken 2 is scheduled to come out on October 9th of this year, avoiding the potential of being buried under Summer Blockbusters. I will be sure to keep you guys posted on this.

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Film Review: The Grey

Are you in the mood for a movie? Is there nothing that interests you out in theaters at the moment? Perhaps you should rent a DVD from Redbox or Blockbuster. If you are looking for a good movie to rent from one of those venues, I suggest you set your sight on the action-thriller “The Grey” starring Liam Neeson.

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Information

Title: The Grey

Film length: 117 minutes

Genre: Action/Adventure/Drama/Thriller

Staring: Liam Neeson

Average online rating: 7.0-8.5

Rating:   R

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Synopsis

This film takes place in the arctic wastes of Alaska. John Ottaway is a sniper employed by a large oil company to protect its workers from wolves and other hazards as they work in the freezing plains. We see from the very beginning of the film that Ottaway is a very troubled man. Unlike the common camaraderie we see among other employees Ottaway is socially withdrawn and often silent. Within ten minutes of the film starting, the depth of this man’s troubles are revealed, as he tries to kill himself.

Obviously he doesn’t (or else that wouldn’t be much of a movie), and the next day, when it comes time for vacation, Ottaway boards a small jet-liner with various other roughneck employees from the company, due to fly to Anchorage. Unfortunately, the plane never reaches its destination, as a snow storm causes it to crash somewhere on the edge of the tundra. Ottaway and seven others survive the crash, and are forced to rally together and find a way to make it back to civilization, as the option of being rescued seems unlikely.

On the very first night, the men find out that their troubles are far from over, as they managed to have crashed in an area that is prowled by a vicious pack of wolves. After the death of a watchmen, Ottaway, who is well learned about wolves and their habits suggests that they head to the tree line where they might have better defense from the wolf pack. Armed with nothing more than a few bullets, the men cross the treacherous environment to seek solace. Faced with deadly cold, deadly terrain and even deadlier hunters, the men are pitted to survive, resorting to primal instincts with the hope that they might leave the wolves 30 mile kill zone and make it back to the family that is waiting for them on the other side of the wilderness.

This is a film that shows how a group of strangers can unify and fight to the death. Towards the end of the film, the audience will question which is the fiercer animal: the wolves, or the men.

Review

This epic film boasts brilliant cinematics that never fail to highlight the sense of doom that surrounds these men in their hostile environment. With a good script and great actors, The Grey is a need-to-see movie. However, I will extend a word of caution to those who are weak of stomach, as the film does not hide the ferocious gore that hunting wolves summon.

The studio did an amazing job with the visuals; the environment and the wolves came together as a masterpiece. Much like Rise of the Planet of the Apes, while the actors’ performances were note-worthy, it was the depiction of the animals that were truly amazing. While on one end of the spectrum, this film is a portrayal of the human condition in times of desperation, the other end looks at the wolves.

There are several scenes in which the nature of the wolves are spoken of. The complexity of wolf society and psychology comes through in this film, as it touches on the protectiveness of home, as well as the various levels of wolf culture, ranging from the Alpha-wolf, to the Omega-wolf. The combination of animatronics, complex puppets, CGI and actual wolves makes for a very convincing portrayal of these great beasts.

The film deftly combines aspects of horror, action, drama and even poetry to create a brilliant work of art that makes for an action packed two hours of biting, running, jumping, praying and preying. This combination of an epic story, gripping social dynamics (in both man and wolf), great actors and breath capturing visuals makes The Grey a ground-breaking film that is definitely worth watching. If you haven’t seen the movie yet, go watch it, and if you have seen it already, watch it again to catch subtleties.

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