Tag Archives: Columbus Short

Armored (2009, Nimród Antal)

Antal’s composition is so strong, I would have thought Armored could get away with almost anything and still be a solid diversion. The action direction is good but not anything special–the chase sequences are boring, for example. But Antal’s composition for conversations? It’s amazing; sort of a cross between Michael Mann and seventies Steven Spielberg. It’s just stunning.

Armored‘s ending is rather weak. They close fast instead of spending forty seconds to make the resolution make sense. This incomplete ending comes after a particularly perfunctory action sequence. It’s a gimmick picture–Die Hard in an armored truck–and writer Simpson maybe has enough script for seventy-five percent of the film’s ninety minute running time. They can pad, but not enough to cover.

The acting is good–the cast is better than one would think, especially Columbus Short. Simpson’s script is just good enough Short can deliver a phenomenal performance. It’s too bad it wasn’t better though, since the role should have gotten Short some recognition. It’s not a dumb action movie, it’s a flawed heist movie with a lot of potential.

Matt Dillon and Larry Fishburne are both solid in supporting roles. These days, both are playing world weary heavies. Armored is not different. It’s interesting to see former teen heartthrobs Dillon and Skeet Ulrich in this one, playing unglamorous “regular” guys. Ulrich is fine. He’s finally learned to act.

Milo Ventimiglia is unexpectedly good. Fred Ward and Jean Reno are wasted. Amaury Nolasco barely makes an impression.

So, Armored is nearly mediocre.

1.5/4★½

CREDITS

Directed by Nimród Antal; written by James V. Simpson; director of photography, Andrzej Sekula; edited by Armen Minasian; music by John Murphy; production designer, Jon Gary Steele; produced by Joshua Donen, Dan Farah and Sam Raimi; released by Screen Gems.

Starring Matt Dillon (Mike Cochrane), Jean Reno (Quinn), Laurence Fishburne (Baines), Amaury Nolasco (Palmer), Fred Ward (Duncan Ashcroft), Milo Ventimiglia (Eckehart), Skeet Ulrich (Dobbs), Columbus Short (Ty Hackett) and Andre Kinney (Jimmy Hackett).


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The Losers (2010, Sylvain White)

A friend of mine (colleague might be the better designation, but friend first, I suppose) has given up on punishing slash hating films for having bad endings. I disagree. Otherwise, I’d give The Losers four stars and scream recommendations for it from the rooftops. Because the end of The Losers, an exceptionally problematic action revenge picture, is the greatest thing ever. It might actually be the best ending of a film ever.

I’m even calling it a film. Literature is nothing but good fiction writing and the end of The Losers is nothing but good film.

The Losers fails for a lot of reasons. Mostly because it utterly wastes an excellent cast. Chris Evans might be taking on the only great role left in adapted fiction (he’s due to be Captain America) but The Losers almost completely wastes him. Almost. It’s nice it doesn’t, because it certainly wastes its other exceptional cast members.

Columbus Short, a fantastic character actor, is reduced to a nothing role; his finest moments are basically when he directly echoes his role on “Studio 60.”

Óscar Jaenada has like ten lines. They’re all good. It’s too bad the film doesn’t do anything with him. (Look at me, still calling it a film).

In case you’re counting, The Losers doesn’t get four stars because of its exceptional, wonderful, better than Ocean’s Twelve ending, but it does get 500 words instead of the usual 250.

Idris Elba is fantastic throughout–like Short and Evans–but Elba gets the most screen time of the three actors. He doesn’t get the best material (Evans does) but he’s so good, even when the script fails on him.

Because, really, The Losers ought to be about him and Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s relationship. It’s more than a friendship, more than a partnership, it’s about men working together and relying on each other. But The Losers isn’t about any of that thoughtful nonsense. Instead, it’s a modified adaptation of a really mediocre comic book.

The comic has really good art and really paltry writing, until the writing gets plain stupid. The film doesn’t go as stupid as the comic, but it gets pretty bad. The comic, however, never thought of having Zoe Saldana’s mercenary be a complete joke. Saldana’s performance probably knocks The Losers down a full star. Between her and Morgan (he’s too passive as the ostensible lead), there’s just no way for the film to recover.

Though having nineties guy Holt McCallany is nice; he plays Otis to Jason Patric’s Lex Luthor. Imagine if Gene Hackman had played Lex Luthor with total derision and visible loathing for the role and you’re about a tenth of the way to how awful Patric’s performance gets. He’s clearly upset he’s in this film. I hope he put in a nice pool.

White’s a mediocre director. He’s unimaginative and shoots an action movie like Tony Scott would. Terrible lighting from Scott Kevan (probably White’s fault). Okay music from Ottman.

But greatest ending ever. Don’t stop believing.

1/4

CREDITS

Directed by Sylvain White; screenplay by Peter Berg and James Vanderbilt, based on the comic book by Andy Diggle and Jock; director of photography, Scott Kevan; edited by David Checel; music by John Ottman; production designer, Aaron Osborne; produced by Joel Silver, Akiva Goldsman and Kerry Foster; released by Warner Bros.

Starring Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Clay), Zoe Saldana (Aisha), Chris Evans (Jensen), Idris Elba (Roque), Columbus Short (Pooch), Óscar Jaenada (Cougar), Holt McCallany (Wade) and Jason Patric (Max).


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Whiteout (2009, Dominic Sena)

I spent a lot of Whiteout wondering why Dominic Sena, whose first film is Kalifornia, didn’t go crazy stylizing the film. It’s relatively stylized as thrillers go, but it’s not at all extreme. And it didn’t even occur to me until the last shot of the film, which lots of people probably don’t have the patience for, to realize what Sena was and wasn’t doing with Whiteout. Whether he realized it or not, he’s created the first mainstream film noir with a female lead (and set in Antarctica).

With the constant use of flashback (but not narration, which is strange, since the comic was heavily narrated and the film takes breaks for it then doesn’t fill them, resulting in frequent white spaces), the tortured protagonist and the suspicious members of the opposite sex, it’s the first film with Kate Beckinsale where I’d ever say she was playing the Sterling Hayden role.

The film does stumble through its first act. Until the cast is established, it’s awkward, as the pacing isn’t quite right for such a large cast. But then, once everyone is introduced, it’s all of a sudden this wonderful experience, watching these people act together.

Beckinsale’s good (though the film’s early objectifying of her is problematic), but without wowing. This role isn’t a hard one (Whiteout‘s about as much of a feminist blockbuster attempt as Sheena). Gabriel Macht’s excellent as are Columbus Short and Shawn Doyle. Tom Skerritt and Alex O’Loughlin are both solid too.

It’s a fine film.

3/4★★★

CREDITS

Directed by Dominic Sena; screenplay by Jon Hoeber, Erich Hoeber, Chad Hayes and Carey Hayes, based on the comic book by Greg Rucka and Steve Lieber; director of photography, Christopher Soos; edited by Stuart Baird and Martin Hunter; music by John Frizzell; production designer, Graham ‘Grace’ Walker; produced by Susan Downey and Joel Silver; released by Warner Bros.

Starring Kate Beckinsale (Carrie Stetko), Gabriel Macht (Robert Pryce), Tom Skerritt (Dr. John Fury), Columbus Short (Delfy), Alex O’Loughlin (Russell Haden) and Shawn Doyle (Sam Murphy).


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