Dangerous (2021)


Generic tough guy wanted.

(2021) Action (Lionsgate) Scott Eastwood, Kevin Durand, Brenda Bazinet, Mel Gibson, Famke Janssen, Tyrese Gibson, Brock Morgan, Ryan Robbins, Chad Rook, Jayce Barreiro, Emmanuel Addo, Leanne Lapp, Al Miro, Destiny Millns, Atlee Smallman, Brendan Fletcher, Matthew Che’z, Jack Mitchel, Matt Brown (voice), Grant Vlahovic, Alvin Tam. Directed by David Hackl

In general, the apple rarely falls far from the tree. For people with famous parents, that’s less of a blessing and more of a curse as they seek to distance themselves from their progenitors and carve a niche of their own. Once in a while, though, exceptions come along.

Dylan Forrester (Eastwood) – and you’ll call him “D” if you know what’s good for you – has been paroled from jail. A remorseless, emotionless killer, he’s an ex-Navy SEAL who has done some very bad things. Word comes that his brother Sean (Che’z) has unexpectedly passed away. He decides to head to Guardian Island off the coast of Washington State, where Sean was opening a bed and breakfast on the site of an old Naval base, to attend the funeral. But before he can do that, he finds a stranger in his apartment which generally is a pretty unhealthy situation, particularly for the stranger. FBI agent Shaughnessy (Janssen) – who caught D the first time around – arrives to find the bloodied stranger tied up in a bathroom but to her puzzlement, still alive. D was not known for leaving people alive.

She heads off to the coast to get herself to Guardian, but he’s got a serious head start on her. But D arrives to find he’s not welcome, particularly by his mother (Bazinet) who refers to her surviving son as “that thing” and makes it clear she’d much rather that her good son, a former history professor, and D had switched places.

But the happy reunion (oh, how I snark!) is interrupted by the arrival of a band of mercenaries under the command of Cole (Durand), for whom D used to ply his trade (you can tell Cole is the chief bad guy by his really awful haircut). And while his crew poses and preens in generic tough guy poses, Cole is after one thing – a treasure that Sean had discovered on the island – the legendary Yamashita gold trove.

In the meantime, D is on the phone to his hard-drinking therapist Dr. Alderwood (M. Gibson) who assures him that he needs to continue taking his meds (enough lithium to keep the entire city of Seattle singing the Mister Rogers songbook for a week) and doing his exercises so tht he is no longer a cold-blooded killer. That is, until the good doctor figures out that there are bad guys involved, at which time he lets loose the dogs.

The action sequences are pretty generic; executed competently, but not particularly creative and nothing, in the end, to write home about. Eastwood come closest here than any other movie I’ve ever seen him in to channeling his father, down to the Dirty Harry growl and snarl, even including the quips – after stabbing a baddie in the leg, he grunts “Femoral artery. You’ll want to keep pressure on that.” And when said baddie expires a moment later in a pool of blood, he adds “Too late.”

The casting of Mel Gibson is marvelous, considering he basically invented the good guy with serious mental problems in the Lethal Weapon franchise. There’s another Gibson in the cast – Tyrese, of the Fast and Furious franchise, but he is only on screen briefly and is gone a little too soon for my liking.

This is just a cut above mere entertaining and the interplay between Eastwood and Mel Gibson makes it that way. There are an awful lot of B-level action movies out there, and most are pretty forgettable, but this one is just a bit better. Don’t be afraid to give this one a shot.

REASONS TO SEE: Eastwood channels his dad more than in any other movie.
REASONS TO AVOID: Pretty standard by-the-numbers low-budget action film.
FAMILY VALUES: There is violence and profanity in fairly large measures.
TRIVIAL PURSUIT: The Yamashita gold is an actual urban legend, about gold supposedly stolen by the Japanese Imperial Army during the Second World War and hidden in caves, tunnels and/or underground complexes in cities around the world.
BEYOND THE THEATERS: Amazon, AMC On Demand, AppleTV, DirecTV, Google Play, Microsoft, Redbox, Vudu
CRITICAL MASS: As of 11/8/21: Rotten Tomatoes: 21% positive reviews; Metacritic: 30/100.
COMPARISON SHOPPING: Assault on Precinct 13
FINAL RATING: 6.5/10
NEXT:
One Shot

LX 2048


Driving with the top down in a hazmat suit – how very 2020!

(2020) Science Fiction (QuiverJames D’Arcy, Anna Brewster, Delroy Lindo, Gabrielle Cassi, Juliet Aubrey, Gina McKee, Jay Hayden, Linc Hand, Ronin Zaki Moshe, Majus Motiejus Prokopas. Directed by Guy Moshe

 

You can tell the state of a society by how it perceives the way the world will end. Our society, chronically depressed and stressed, turns out apocalyptic movies that have no explosions, no meteors, no heroic astronauts…just a world where everyone plays on a virtual Realm waiting for things to come to a close.

Adam Bird (D’Arcy) sees the end coming sooner. He works for a virtual reality hardware firm that supplies the hardware necessary to enter The Realm, the virtual reality utopia that everyone is plugged into. He can see the company’s future and it is grim – the hardware will soon be rendered obsolete by an implanted chip that will do the same thing faster, more efficiently, and less expensively. Adam is a voice crying in the wilderness – quite literally. He’s the only one to actually go into the office. Most people work from home and attend meetings via The Realm (sound familiar?)

But that isn’t even the worst news in Adam’s day. His doctor (McKee) has informed him that his heart is failing, and soon. But no worries – he has three kids and because he and his wife Reena (Brewster) bothered to procreate (most people don’t) he is eligible for Premium 3 insurance, which in the event of the death of either him or his spouse provides for a clone replacement, with all their memories intact. The two spouses even get to tweak their genetically enhanced replacement mates with characteristics that are more in tune with what they want – more attentive, sexier, less annoying and so on.

It’s a pretty bleak world – one of the reasons nobody goes out to work is because sunlight has become toxic, likely due to the erosion of the ozone. The population copes by taking state-mandated tranquilizers – LithiumX – which numbs them to the fact that life has become an absolute cluster muck. And Adam being something of a rebel, refuses to take his medication. So when Reena catches him having a go at a virtual sex doll, she blows a gasket and tosses him out on his tush. But with the company in danger of failing, Adam knows he has to figure out a way to keep it afloat long enough for the insurance to cash in and support his estranged wife and children.

There’s an awful lot of concepts thrown into the mix here, and one has to give the filmmakers credit for trying to tackle them all. There’s an intelligence to the movie that is more often than not missing from science fiction movies, and that’s refreshing. That doesn’t mean the movie is always successful in what it’s trying to do.

D’Arcy actually does a pretty bang-up job as Adam, and the movie totally rests on his shoulders so that’s a good thing. Often, he is having conversations with people who are online; we aren’t invited to The Realm so mostly what we see is Adam shouting in an empty conference room. It is a bit disconcerting, but I suspect that given the situation we’ve all been in the past several months we all feel a little bit like that’s exactly what we’re doing.

The problem here is that Adam is not really a pleasant guy. There’s a reason everyone’s on Lithium; it’s just too much for the psyche to handle, and Adam with everything going on – his marriage failing, his health failing, his business failing, the world failing – is losing it and not just a little bit. He’s desperately trying to have a conversation with Reena trying to express his fears but she isn’t having it, and so his attempts to reach out degenerate into shouting matches and vicious put-downs. “I can’t believe I ever loved you,” he cries out during one such exchange.

The movie tries to take a sharp left turn late in the movie but this is ill-advised. There really is enough going on to keep the discussion group going for ages without throwing in a final twist. The last 20 minutes virtually (no pun intended) undoes all the goodwill that the first eighty minutes generated. That’s a shame because despite being a low-budget affair, the production design is pretty aces – it looks like it has a budget probably 10 to 20 times what it actually had, and the ideas that it’s grappling with are very relevant right now, with climate change, online addiction, drug addiction, the deterioration of relationships in an increasingly plugged-in world and the ethics of medical technology exceeding our maturity to handle them.

I almost forgot to mention Delroy Lindo who has a small but crucial role as a reclusive scientist, and all I can say is that even his less visible roles are intriguing. Delroy Lindo is undeniably a cool mofo, and we are reminded of that every time he pops up onscreen.

In any case, this is a movie with lofty aspirations that occasionally achieves them, but ultimately shoots itself in the foot when it tries to insert a twist that wasn’t really needed. Fans of thoughtful science fiction will find much to chew on here. Those who prefer their movies a little bit less crammed with ideas might find it indigestible.

REASONS TO SEE: Lots of great ideas – almost too many.
REASONS TO AVOID: The characters are all so contemptible it’s hard to root for any of them.
FAMILY VALUES: There is profanity and some sexual content..
TRIVIAL PURSUIT: D’Arcy is best known for his work in the MCU playing the human Jarvis in the Agent Carter miniseries.
BEYOND THE THEATERS: Amazon, AppleTV, Fandango Now, Google Play, Microsoft, Redbox, Vudu, YouTube
CRITICAL MASS: As of 9/29/20: Rotten Tomatoes: 41% positive reviews, Metacritic: 61/100
COMPARISON SHOPPING: Gattaca
FINAL RATING: 6.5/10
NEXT:
The Artist’s Wife