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The Predator Movies – Anyway, That’s All I Got!

predator movies

With the debut of Shane Black’s The Predator, we here at ATAIG decided to do what we normally do and take a look back at the entire Predator series leading up to this point. We revisit the original classic, the lesser-known sequel, the notorious crossover, the even MORE notorious crossover, the other lesser-known sequel, and the latest controversial installment in theaters now. There are plenty of agreements and disagreements along the way (some more surprising than others), and we hope you like hearing what we have to say. Enjoy!

Hosted by Sam Noland, Jason Read, and Anthony Battaglia!

Question For You: Which Predator movie is your favorite? Also, where could you see the franchise going from here? Finally, should we supplement this episode with an Alien-centered episode sometime in the near future?

Go on…The Predator Movies – Anyway, That’s All I Got!

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‘Atomic Blonde’ Looks Great But Pulls Too Many Punches

atomic

Atomic Blonde was directed by David Leitch, the stunt mastermind and co-director of the action-favorite, John Wick. Based on the graphic novel The Coldest City, this is a spy film with all the right moves, but does that hold true for the story itself?

Go on…‘Atomic Blonde’ Looks Great But Pulls Too Many Punches

Review: ‘Jason Bourne’ Is a Return to Formula, And Not in a Good Way

jason bourne review

Note: Before you read, it’s important to know that I’ve never been a big fan of the Bourne films. I respect them as important action movies and understand why they’ve had a profoundly positive effect on a lot of people. I’m just not one of them, and I have my reasons. That said, I’m judging this film based on someone who genuinely wants this to be the Bourne film that changes my mind and satisfies existing fans. 

Almost a decade ago, the Bourne trilogy concluded on a somewhat bittersweet note. Jason got all of his memories back, but at a cost — the realization that he volunteered to become an assassin, and he had no one to blame, really, for what had happened to him, except for him.

It’s a great way to end a very popular franchise, helmed twice by Paul Greengrass and beloved for its methodical action and set pieces, with a likable lead in Matt Damon as Bourne. Which is why Jason Bourne, the fifth film after Jeremy Renner’s non-starter role in Bourne Legacy, is a movie that doesn’t even make sense on paper, let alone execution.

Years later, Bourne has not really evolved or changed much since his self-imposed exile. In a way, he’s still a blank slate, as if he still doesn’t remember anything, as evidenced by a lack of motivation behind any of his actions early on. While there should be conflict within him, we only see a begrudging unwillingness to avoid trouble at all costs, that is, until a familiar plot takes hold that prompts Bourne into taking action once again.

jason bourne review

There’s a mystery about his past, yet again, and only Bourne can punch and dropkick his way to the truth. This plays out in a generic retread of past Bourne movies, once again directed by Greengrass, proving that new blood is badly needed to rejuvenate this franchise. Say what you want about Tony Gilroy’s Bourne Legacy, but at least that film was a heroic failure.

Yes, fans of the Bourne franchise will be happy to see their favorite tropes in this new film: frequent car chases, shaky fistfights in dark corridors, shady government officials, an “anti-Bourne” who’s after the hero, and a confident yet sensitive female who illogically forms a deep connection with Bourne, despite having any good reason to do so.

The only problem with all this is that none of it is handled as elegantly as you remember. There’s a noticeable lack of thought put into these formulaic set pieces. There should be tension in a Bourne car chase, but the five or six that take place in Jason Bourne go on for so long, you forget to care, especially when one chase in particular shows a SWAT truck flying through traffic like it’s papier-mâché.

Jason Bourne gets better as it goes along, finding its groove the more Bourne himself is shown in silence, outsmarting the CIA. But it’s still only a serviceable action movie, bogged down by the forced  and laughable topicality of Snowden, Silicon Valley, and hacker culture, along with wooden performances that consistently sound like the actors are reading from their scripts for the first time. In a way, that at least makes the dialogue somewhat consistent with what’s happening onscreen.

Grade: C

Extra Credits:

  • Remember when Matt Damon said he would only return to the franchise if Paul Greengrass directed it again?
  • I mentioned Tony Gilroy, who directed Legacy and wrote every Bourne film except this one. Yeah, it definitely shows.
  • Speaking of Bourne Legacy, Aaron Cross (Renner’s character) is still getting a sequel in 2018. So…there’s that.
  • I really wish they had gone ahead and called this The Bourne: Betrayal, as planned.
  • Alicia Vikander just can’t seem to catch a break with these spy movies. Last year’s The Man from U.N.C.L.E., and now this.

    I’m Jon and thanks for reading this. You can subscribe to my posts by clicking “Follow” in the right sidebar. Or just say hey on Twitter! @JonNegroni

Review: ‘Hardcore Henry’ Lives Up to Its Name, But Not to Its Promise

hardcore henry review

Hardcore Henry is a film shot entirely in first-person view, from the perspective of a silent protagonist. If this sounds a lot like a video game, then you’re on the right track to understanding the appeal — and limitations — of this thoroughly brazen action film.

The plot is especially ripped out of a fun hybrid between Call of Duty and Dead Rising (if only for the amount of gore), as it follows a day in the life of a newborn cyborg in search of his captive wife, who happens to be the one who put him together.

Throughout the film, you never hear or see Henry himself, save for shots of his tattooed arm and clothed body, which both work to hide the stunt actor portraying him and preserve a semblance of identity that the viewer can shift themselves into. To mix up the narrative, Henry frequently comes across eccentric characters meant to counteract his stoic bravado.

hardcore henry review

Sharlto Copley plays Jimmy, a rogue spy who helps Henry get up to speed on his capabilities and drives most of the early plot points. But his memorable performance is rivaled by Akan, the film’s telekinetic Russian bad guy with red-stained eyes and pale-white hair. Because Henry is such an intentional blank slate, the other key players in this film are far more interesting to watch, making every scene they’re not in noticeably lacking.

Hardcore Henry has a lot of excellent features that help it stand out. The premise is a valid, even admirable attempt at innovating the action genre with massively entertaining pyrotechnics and stunt work. The soundtrack carries a lot of the film’s biggest moments, including Henry himself. Though it makes no sense when you think about it hard enough, the music in Henry’s head is our only real glimpse into what his character is thinking, and that’s probably as novel as shooting this entire film facing forward.

Unfortunately, Hardcore Henry also stumbles as much as it runs. The film borrows a little too much from the video games that inspire it, but also not enough. Unlike a video game, this film lacks any sort of interactivity or sense of discovery that makes the first-person perspective so immersive. Worse, it follows a repetitive narrative that doesn’t deviate much from running to checkpoints and hearing exposition while incapacitated.

hardcore henry review

The same story beats happen so often — yet in such diverse locations — that Hardcore Henry feels more like an extended tutorial to a better movie, rather than a thrilling adventure. This could be easier to forgive if these sequences were at least a little more watchable, but more than half of what you see in Hardcore Henry is either a blur or riddled with insufferable, jerky, shaky cam that would make the Bourne movies shake their head in disapproval.

While the movie has plenty of strong moments, too many of them are crammed in between practically unwatchable action scenes that make you want to turn away from the good content that is sitting right in front of you. All this and a pretty mundane story are just a few reasons why only the most hardcore action fans will enjoy viewing Hardcore Henry, at least on the big screen.

Grade: C+


I’m Jon and thanks for reading this. You can subscribe to my posts by clicking “Follow” in the right sidebar. Or just say hey on Twitter! @JonNegroni

Review: ‘Nightcrawler’ is Jake Gyllenhaal’s Most Memorable Performance Yet

Nightcrawler, not to be confused with a certain X-Men who is yet to get his own movie (not that he should), is the answer to a question you’ve probably never asked:

What happens when a criminal becomes a journalist?

After all, plenty of people already consider the media to be run by criminals. Nightcrawler expands that concept to believable, and unforgettable lengths.

The movie stars Jake Gyllenhaal as Lou Bloom, a driven sociopath who has one basic goal. He wants to make money (illegally if he has to) by doing something he loves. The problem is that when he wants something, he’ll do anything to get it. At his core, he’s ultimately a thief of both possessions and even ideas.

His cold, calculating mind is offset by a nearly convincing extraversion. He smiles as he delivers the lines of dialogue that haunt the audience as his story unfolds. The first act expertly introduces us to Bloom by not just showing that he’s a criminal. He proves to us that he’s a sociopath, for reasons that get into spoiler territory.

Ultimately, his actions lead to business success as a nightcrawler (an offhand term for freelancers who record video from crime scenes late at night). The movie is shot almost entirely from his perspective as we watch him negotiate and force himself into the world of journalism with his suspiciously caught video of violent crimes that cater to a specific audience. You can probably see where this is going, and it doesn’t take much to acknowledge the rampant nods that this is also a satire of modern media.

Written and directed by Dan Gilroy, brother of Tony Gilroy (Michael Clayton), Nightcrawler is an intense, thrilling movie with a dark sense of humor, to the point where you may laugh at just how twisted it frames Bloom up to the “critical moment.”  It warranted more laughs from the audience than some comedies I’ve seen.

I wouldn’t say it’s Gyllenhaal’s best performance ever, but it’s certainly his most memorable in my opinion. Like Matthew McConaughey, he’s had a pretty epic string of great movies these past few years. And Nightcrawler is certainly a highlight.

Definitely worth watching.

Thanks for Reading! You can subscribe to this blog by email via the prompt on the sidebar. Otherwise, be sure to stay connected with me on Twitter (@JonNegroni). I’ll follow you back if you say something witty and awesome.

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