Tag Archives: Thomas Jane

The Punisher (2004, Jonathan Hensleigh)

Considering Dolph Lundgren got famous playing a blond Russian and can definitely act better than Kevin Nash, who doesn’t even have any lines and is terrible, it’s telling Jonathan Hensleigh didn’t bring him back for a small role, an acknowledgment of the far superior 1989 Punisher adaptation.

Whereas that film–and to some extent, the one following this effort–tried to be a senselessly violent action revenge movie, Hensleigh’s Punisher tries to rationalize the comic book character, who’s never been conducive to such analysis. The closest is Garth Ennis’s recently concluded terminating work on the character, which acknowledges the unreality and tragedy of being an unstoppable killing machine.

Hensleigh tries to turn Thomas Jane’s Punisher into a sympathetic hero. He fails miserably and, as a result, gives Jane the worst written role in a movie filled with poorly written roles. When John Travolta, all in all, turns in a better performance than Will Patton, it might very be the end of the world as we know it.

Laura Harring is atrocious. Who else… oh, poor Roy Scheider. Why was he in this one?

The best performance is from Rebecca Romijn. Really. She’s actually totally believable as a regular person with real problems. Ben Foster and John Pinette are both good too, as Romijn’s sidekicks.

Hensleigh is a boring director, but not terrible. His wife, Gale Anne Hurd, probably got him the job. She should have brought in a real screenwriter.

Carlo Siliotto’s music, though inappropriate (it’s heroic), is all right.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by Jonathan Hensleigh; screenplay by Hensleigh and Michael France, based on the Marvel Comics character created by Gerry Conway, John Romita Sr. and Ross Andru; director of photography, Conrad W. Hall; edited by Jeff Gullo and Steven Kemper; music by Carlo Siliotto; production designer, Michael Z. Hanan; produced by Avi Arad and Gale Anne Hurd; released by Lions Gate Films.

Starring Thomas Jane (Frank Castle), John Travolta (Howard Saint), Will Patton (Quentin Glass), Roy Scheider (Frank Castle Sr.), Laura Harring (Livia Saint), Ben Foster (Dave), Jon Pinette (Mr. Bumpo), Rebecca Romijn (Joan), Samantha Mathis (Maria Castle) and Marcus Johns (Will Castle).


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Killshot (2008, John Madden)

It’s hard to say whether Killshot falls apart because of the filmmakers or because of the source material. Killshot changes its mind about what to deliver every three minutes. The script can’t decide on a main character–is it Mickey Rourke’s hit man or is it Diane Lane’s woman in distress or is it Thomas Jane’s estranged husband to the woman in distress.

Rourke’s great, playing a half Native American hit man. It’s implied there’s something more to the character than that description. But there isn’t.

Thomas Jane’s similarly great in a simple role. Killshot‘s filmmakers seem to intend for their scenes to be weighty; they aren’t. It’s not trite, but it is rote.

Diane Lane isn’t bad. She’s competent enough.

Gordon-Levitt, technically, delivers a good performance. But his character’s poorly written. He and Rourke’s relationship is inexplicable. Whenever the film tries to rationalize it, Killshot becomes silly. Maybe some of the worst scenes were cut (apparently, they cut out an entire character–Killshot runs ninety-five minutes).

Rosario Dawson plays Gordon-Levitt’s Elvis-obssessed girlfriend and she’s lousy. Hal Holbook and Tom McCamus show up for a scene each. They’re both good.

Lois Smith has a couple scenes in one of those small, useless Lois Smith roles.

Killshot looks like a Canadian production, providing Madden with a wonderful opportunity to comment on Hollywood North productions. He doesn’t.

Killshot isn’t entirely without qualities–Rourke and Jane. It’s at its best when it’s using either of them as the protagonist.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by John Madden; screenplay by Hossein Amini, based on the novel by Elmore Leonard; director of photography, Caleb Deschanel; edited by Mick Audsley and Lisa Gunning; music by Klaus Badelt; production designer, Andrew Jackness; produced by Lawrence Bender and Richard N. Gladstein; released by the Weinstein Company.

Starring Diane Lane (Carmen Colson), Mickey Rourke (Armand ‘The Blackbird’ Degas), Thomas Jane (Wayne Colson), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Richie Nix), Rosario Dawson (Donna), Aldred Montoya (Lionel), Lois Smith (Lenore), Hal Holbrook (Papa) and Tom McCamus (Paul Scallen).


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Mutant Chronicles (2008, Simon Hunter)

Mutant Chronicles should have been better. I’m not sure it should have been good, but it should have been better. The film’s all digital, which allows for some post-production touches. Ron Perlman’s red robe, for example, appears to be done in post. I think the movie uses miniatures in combination with practical (though not many) and CG. It works to some degree… though I wonder if it would have looked better in black and white.

The reason for that musing isn’t just Thomas Jane’s presence, but also the first act’s setup of the film as a World War I picture. The opening, with trench warfare, owes more to that genre than anything else. As the story picks up–after a very British end-of-the-world section (though most of the dialogue is from John Malkovich, who manages to maintain some credibility even here, and Perlman, who affects a semi-Irish accent to decent effect)–it abandons that genre, going into a strange mix of 28 Days Later (the monsters in this movies are a mix of that film’s zombies and the Borg from “Star Trek”), the second Planet of the Apes movie and… I don’t know… something else. Maybe Hellboy, just for the giant machines.

Lots of the film is interesting to look at, even if the effects are more workman-like than superior, because of the steampunk designs. The coal-powered airships are pretty darn cool. And the special effects aren’t bad. The monsters in this one look a lot better than the video game ones in I Am Legend. The end of this movie does feature a challenge out of a video game for its characters though (I couldn’t help but think of Galaxy Quest).

I find myself referencing a lot of other films in this post simply because Mutant Chronicles is so derivative. There are a couple moments of storytelling ingenuity. Well, maybe one. The other really good moment is just because of the filmmaking. But the one well-conceived scene–no one can hear anyone, in a crisis situation, because it’s so noisy–works really well, establishing Mutant Chronicles–along with the filmmaking creativity–as a film not to dismiss outright.

The acting from Perlman, Jane (who could do better, but is solid) and Sean Pertwee is good. Benno Fürmann seems very underused. Steve Toussaint and Luis Echegaray are both all right. Devon Aoki and Tom Wu are atrocious. They have lots of lines together and trying to figure out who is worse does provide some amusement through a bad CG period.

The problem with the movie is the approach. The filmmakers go with an expository narration from Perlman, who can deliver narration just fine, but it’s stupid. It treats the viewer like an idiot… the details of the setting and the political yada yada behind it are sci-fi genre nonsense. The story’s a film standard (group of assorted people go on a suicide mission) and doesn’t require a lot of malarky attached to it. Had director Hunter–who can definitely mix film tools to decent effect, even if his direction of actors is poor and his composition is mediocre–kept with that war tone of the first act… it would have been something interesting.

Instead, Mutant Chronicles plays like something one would watch in a motel in the middle of the night, ignoring it the first time through the channels as a “Sci-Fi Original Movie” only to stop on the second time through because there’s something compelling about it….

Compelling enough for insomnia at the La Quinta anyway.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by Simon Hunter; screenplay by Philip Eisner, based on the game by Target Games; director of photography, Geoff Boyle; edited by Sean Barton and Alison Lewis; music by Richard Wells; production designer, Caroline Greville-Morris; produced by Stephen Belafonte, Tim Dennison, Peter La Terriere, Pras and Edward R. Pressman; released by Voltage Pictures.

Starring Thomas Jane (Maj. Mitch Hunter), Ron Perlman (Brother Samuel), Devon Aoki (Cpl. Valerie Duval), Sean Pertwee (Capt. Nathan Rooker), Benno Fürmann (Lt. Maximillian von Steiner), John Malkovich (Constantine), Anna Walton (Severian), Tom Wu (Cpl. Juba Kim Wu), Steve Toussaint (Capt. John McGuire), Luis Echegaray (Cpl. Jesus de Barrera), Pras (Captain Michaels) and Shauna Macdonald (Adelaide).


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The Mist (2007, Frank Darabont), the director’s version

It’s rare and relatively modern to come across the film where the ending can ruin it. The surprise ending as opposed to the natural narrative progression. They rarely work. I’d read The Mist had a controversial ending, which, watching the last minutes of the film, I assumed referred to the incredibly bold thing Darabont does. Instead, he cops out at the last second. Well, not the literal last second, but close to… the last two minutes maybe. It’s one of those films, somewhat common these days, where cutting it a few moments before would make all the difference.

These idiotic endings, it seems, rarely happen in films I don’t care about. The closest comparison for The Mist, in terms of damage done to an otherwise excellent and–if it weren’t so cheap–important film, is Vanilla Sky. Both films endings make them more palatable to mainstream audiences, something The Mist–most of which is a condemnation of modern American–shouldn’t really have cared about. Darabont managed an incredibly different balance at the end between horror, science fiction, and wonderment at horrors. What he managed was very good, then he flushed it all down the toilet to be cheap. It’s funny there’s a reference to John Carpenter’s The Thing at the beginning. I just wish Darabont had watched that film and looked at how the ending there worked.

The acting is all stellar, with Thomas Jane turning in a singular leading man performance. Marcia Gay Harden is good as the religious zealot, a role another actress wouldn’t have been able to imbue with the occasional–and necessary–humanity. Darabont standard William Sadler, good as always. The real surprise is Toby Jones, who brings the film some wry humor and a lot of sensitivity. Both Andre Braugher and Frances Sternhagen, no surprise, excellent. Jeffrey DeMunn’s also quite good. Laurie Holden, who I guess Darabont’s been trying highlight since The Majestic, is also good. She has the least to do, but she does well with it. Sam Witwer, in one of the showier roles, is good too.

Darabont’s director’s cut doesn’t feature any additional scenes, but is in black and white (he couldn’t get the studio to go for black and white for theatrical). The light grey mist, the wash of emptiness across the frame, is perfect. Darabont’s got some great shots here (some where it’s clear he wasn’t composing for black and white and some where it doesn’t make sense he’d be doing it for color).

The majority of the film is very smart, which is another reason the idiotic ending hurts so much. It’s not an all-encompassing blunder, which is why it doesn’t tear the film down completely… but it comes real close.

Jane’s the one who saves what’s left.

1/4

CREDITS

Directed by Frank Darabont; screenplay by Darabont, based on the novella by Stephen King; director of photography, Rohn Schmidt; edited by Hunter M. Via; music by Mark Isham; production designer, Gregory Melton; produced by Darabont and Liz Glotzer; released by Dimension Films.

Starring Thomas Jane (David Drayton), Marcia Gay Harden (Mrs. Carmody), Andre Braugher (Norton), Laurie Holden (Amanda), Toby Jones (Ollie), Jeffrey DeMunn (Dan Miller), Frances Sternhagen (Irene), Nathan Gamble (Billy Drayton), William Sadler (Jim), Alexa Davalos (Sally) and Sam Witwer (Jessup).


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