Currently browsing the "Jeremy Renner" tag.

Review: Tag

Tag pretty much delivers on what the trailer and the promos promise: an entertaining adult comedy action movie featuring a diverse group of guys who spend one month out of the year continuing a highly-competitive game of Tag they started as kids. The movie was inspired by a true story that was featured in the Wall Street Journal and on a segment of CBS Sunday Morning. The stakes and physical gamesmanship are exaggerated for comedic and dramatic effect in the film. But it’s comforting to know that facsimiles of these guys really do exist, and their primary motivation is admirable: it’s not so much about the game as it is about having a reason – and creating the opportunity – to stay in touch (literally and figuratively) no matter where life takes you.

Quickie Reviews: The Glass Castle; Wind River; The Fencer; A Taxi Driver

I’m generally a fan of (or maybe a sucker for) movies based on real people and events, so that could be why I had a pretty good week at the movies with two mainstream dramas and two foreign films. First up: The Glass Castle, based on Jeannette Walls’s best-selling memoir about her unconventional upbringing and coming to terms with the complexities of her relationship with her dysfunctional parents and remarkably normal siblings. The film features a stellar cast that includes Brie Larson (Room), Chandler Head and Ella Anderson as Jeannette (through the years), Woody Harrelson as her fundamentally flawed but occasionally well-meaning father, and Naomi Watts as her eccentric artist mother. The parents are the types to define homelessness and squatting as a ‘lifestyle choice’. I haven’t read the book, but those around me who did seemed satisfied with the way the film played out. Others, however, (while still acknowledging the strong performances) criticized the movie for glamorizing or romanticizing what they saw as dangerous, irresponsible and often cruel parenting. I thought it walked the line fairly well, in much the same way as last year’s well-received indie Captain Fantastic.

Arrival

Arrival is very… cerebral. It’s about a linguist (Amy Adams) who is recruited by the military to help translate communications from aliens that have landed in Montana and 11 other sites around the world. The “action” (such as it were) all takes place in a basecamp set up in a field, and aboard a spaceship that resembles a giant egg or shell-shaped rock. The vessel opens itself up to visitors every 18 hours, and that’s when Dr. Louise Banks (Adams) and her colleague, sciencey guy Dr. Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner), try to figure out who the aliens are, and what they want. It’s like E.T. as a deep, psychological drama. Inception-esque, slow to unfold, mind-bendy. The type of movie that movie nerds will want to see multiple times. I found the movie interesting overall, but a tad boring in parts, especially in the middle. That’s probably because I figured out one of the big plot twists fairly on and was eager for validation. But hey, no spoilers. Here’s what I can tell you:

Captain America: Civil War

I’ve always considered myself an Iron Man gal in the Avengers universe, but man oh man, Captain America is growing on me! So while I understand the marketing appeal of a #TeamCap v. #TeamIronMan rivalry, I am hereby declaring myself Switzerland in this Civil War! I refuse to choose. And as any Avengers fan is sure to guess, you don’t really have to. The marketing gimmick – like the movie itself – is all in good fun. That’s not to say there isn’t a decent story at the heart of this latest entry in Marvel’s Avengers franchise. There is. And that’s why this movie deserves to crush DC Comics’ Batman vs. Superman at the box office. It’s full of action, drama, Stark snark, superhero banter, a few unexpected twists, and good old-fashioned themes about friendship, conscience, and moral ambiguity. Can you tell I kinda liked it?

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation is a thoroughly engaging and entertaining ride, providing just the right mix of drama, special effects, and story to satisfy the ‘summer movie’ crowd… even if you’re not a big Tom Cruise fan. Love him or hate him, or somewhere in between, there’s no denying the guy is aging extremely well and can still carry an action movie (bring on the Top Gun sequel!). In fact, I still think his action-adventure flick Edge of Tomorrow was one of the most under-appreciated movies of 2014. So consider that one for the Netflix queue. But back to MI and the fifth installment of the franchise about a covert ops team tasked with missions deemed impossible for anyone else in the intelligence community…

Avengers: Age of Ultron

Fans of the Avengers – assemble! My guess is they’re already packing the midnight showings and putting this superhero superflick in prime position to knock those Fast and Furious folks from the top of the Box Office. And rightly so. Avengers: Age of Ultron delivers the goods. It’s not as good as the first one, but it serves the purpose of advancing the Marvel mythology and providing pure escapist entertainment by bringing together, once again, the world’s mightiest heroes, including Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), The Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner). Eye candy, sarcasm, action. What’s not to like?

Kill the Messenger

Kill the Messenger is based on a true story, and what a story it is! It is the tale of a journalist/whistleblower who had the guts to publish the truth about the CIA’s complicity in bringing crack cocaine to our inner cities in order to fund a war Congress wouldn’t pay for. And what did he get for it? He was demonized by his peers and hounded out of the profession. It is no All the President’s Men, which you can feel it trying to be at times, but it is another sickening story of people in high places feeling they are above the law, and an intrepid reporter stumbling into the story that blows the lid off their dirty little secrets. Jeremy Renner plays real life journalist Gary Webb, and it is his performance that keeps you watching. It is at times heartbreaking.

American Hustle

“Some of this actually happened.” With that, American Hustle proceeds to take a fair amount of creative license to create a really good movie. The story is loosely based on the FBI corruption sting of the 1970s code-named ABSCAM. It features a schlumpy but successful con man named Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale with a paunch and a comb-over) who, along with his smart and seductive partner Sydney (Amy Adams) is forced to work for a wacky FBI agent (Bradley Cooper) who will let them off the hook, if they help him catch some bigger fish.

The Bourne Legacy

Confession time: I have only seen the first Jason Bourne movie and that wasn’t until it was on basic cable. So I am not fully versed in the Bourne backstory. Take that for what you will but I thought you should know. As for The Bourne Legacy, I was not blown away. For an action movie, it could do with a little less conversation and a little more action. On the plus side, the man in the middle of the action is Jeremy Renner and there’s nothing wrong with that. He plays his part with a focused intensity that is one of the best things about the movie.

Marvel’s The Avengers

I’m no comic book aficionado (far from it), but I really liked The Avengers. And that’s mostly because I really like watching Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark, a.k.a. Iron Man. You’ve got to love a superhero who’s cynical, sarcastic, witty and walks around in tight jeans and a “Black Sabbath” tee-shirt when he’s not suited up for battle.

The movie also features a host of other reluctant heroes from the Marvel Comic Universe, including the Shakespearean thunder god Thor (Chris Hemsworth), the recently defrosted World War Two soldier-extraordinaire, Captain America (Chris Evans), the mild-mannered doctor-turned-green-monster-when-he’s-angry The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), the brooding guy who’s good with arrows, Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), and the psychologically damaged superspy chick in a form-fitting bodysuit, Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson).