Indian Country Today
Greetings Indian Country Today film review readers. Holy Moley, it’s June, where has the year gone already? I hope you are enjoying your summer.
I have two fun films I watched over the weekend, The Conjuring universe’s new film “The Devil Made Me Do It” and Jason Statham’s “Wrath of Man.” I actually paid the $19.99 for it as I am a big Jason Statham fan and “The Conjuring’s” latest is now in theaters and HBO Max.
The critic reviewer landscape is changing again as some reviewers are headed back to theaters, but I am not willing to do that just yet. There are a few elders in my family and others with sensitive immune systems, I am still being cautious.
I don’t think filmmakers should be too quick to only offer theater review opportunities, some critics aren’t running back to the theaters yet, and admittedly I don’t know why filmmakers don’t want to provide every opportunity to get their films reviewed. I wrote about this recently.
(See related: #NativeNerd: ‘Hey movie companies, don’t get stingy’)
Here we go.
A note about my #NativeNerd scoring system
When reviewing movies, I employ the decimal system to a tenth of a point. So instead of 7 stars, I might give a 7.4 out of 10. Some movies aren’t an eight but deserve a little more than a seven.
The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It
7.4 out of 10
My quick quote: “A truly great horror film with jump scares and creepy content galore, but it's a bit like “The Exorcist” if combined with “The Walking Dead,” thus some horror got left a bit behind.”
Synopsis: Paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren take on one of the most sensational cases of their careers after a cop stumbles upon a dazed and bloodied young man walking down the road. Accused of murder, the suspect claims demonic possession as his defense, forcing the Warrens into a supernatural inquiry unlike anything they've ever seen before.
Before I say anything about this film, please let me say I really enjoyed it. It scared the absolute heck out of me and the seemingly unlimited supply of jumpscares was sincerely appreciated.
Look, I really like getting scared. I like to immerse myself in the moment and I even watched this latest installment of “The Conjuring” world sitting in the dark (my wife Delores was on the phone with a friend in the other room, she interrupted me halfway through and I nearly jumped through the ceiling) so all said, I had a deliciously scary time.
Mild plot reveal (no spoilers)
So in this third installment of horror movies based on the real-life documented cases of Ed and Lorraine Warren—paranormal investigators that documented the most infamous and controversial cases of haunting and whose efforts are lauded as the initial investigators in the Amityville Horror house—stumble upon a family with a child that is supposedly possessed by a demon.
Later in the film, a young man is discovered walking down a road covered in blood, he is accused of murder. His defense? Pleading not guilty due to demonic possession.
The story begins
Ok, I was invested. To me, there is little creepier than demonic possession and “The Exorcist” remains to be one of the most creepy and frightening movies I’ve ever seen.
“The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It” had the potential to foster this kind of creepiness as it traveled down the horror movie highway, but unfortunately, it swerved off into a swamp filled with zombies from “The Walking Dead” franchise.
Now look, I say this with an air of lightheartedness. I am not trying to come down too hard on the filmmakers, because I did like the movie, even the smoky house, priest with a black-rimmed hat standing in the driveway scene. It was an all-around greatly set stage that all came together to scare this Native Nerd.
But I found myself asking, ‘My God, how far away from ‘based on a true story’ did you go?’
But if I do that, am I ruining my fun? Am I really sitting here asking Ed and Lorraine to accurately explain the true specifics of demonic possession? Well, yes, I guess I am.
“The Exorcist” was truly frightening because everything in that movie could conceivably happen. But “The Conjuring” went so far off the deep end It lost some of the “it could happen” horror.
But I still liked it
So maybe that’s the point. Maybe the stories of Ed and Lorraine should be told with a lot of filmmaker flair. I can watch documentaries of what really happened, and assuredly there won’t be the filmmaking tricks and glitter, but there might be the real horror. And aye, there’s the rub.
So where is the line drawn? Do I want the pure unadulterated horrors experienced by Ed and Lorraine? Just like a TV cop show, the audience wouldn’t want to sit and watch an 8-hour uneventful stakeout followed up with a trip to the local cafe for some coffee, but we do want to see the murderer caught and convicted, or the big shoot out.
So in order for me to sleep at night, perhaps a modestly adjusted version of this story might be best, just a few less wandering Walking Dead.
The Wrath of Man
8.9 out of 10
My quick quote: “Simply put, Jason Statham doing what he does best. But interestingly, the movie paves a way for an intriguing Jason Statham future.”
Synopsis: Mysterious and wild-eyed, a new security guard for a cash truck surprises his co-workers when he unleashes precision skills during a heist. The crew is left wondering who he is and where he came from. Soon, the marksman's ultimate motive becomes clear as he takes dramatic and irrevocable steps to settle a score.
Ok, full disclosure, I forked out the 20 bucks to see the film. It was just me, so I am a bit bummed that more people couldn’t have enjoyed the party. But was it worth it? Yes and no. For $19.99, I should have been able to buy the film on Amazon Prime, not just rent it. But enough of VOD drama.
Jason Statham is quite literally my favorite action actor, and he pretty much could film a movie as a pet shop owner breeding chihuahuas and I would have rented it.
So hey Vince, what did you think?
It’s Jason Statham doing what Jason Statham does best. In fact, I really do wonder if Jason Statham really can shoot the flame off of a candle while doing a somersault and punching two thugs who wronged him.
“Wrath of Man” is great in the world of action thrillers, and yes, I will be watching it again. (Did I mention I paid 20 bucks for it?) I only have a few days for the rental, so I am going to get my money’s worth.
So in the film, Statham plays an unassuming man applying for a job at an armored car company. He does decent on the intake exam which involves physical aptitude and marksmanship with a pistol, and manages to scrape by with a 70 percent, narrowly passing and getting the job.
But this is a Jason Statham movie.
You aren’t fooling anyone buddy.
So I can’t get into much of the plot without revealing it and spoiling it. But I will say there is a ton of firefighting, lots of intensity, blood flying and bullets spilled (yes, and vice versa with the bullets and blood thing.) The only criticism is a confusing timeline, but I admit, the jumping timeline was a bit unavoidable.
A new Jason Statham arises
So here is what caught me off guard. Jason Statham did something in “Wrath of Man” I haven’t quite seen before. He set himself up in a way that allows me to see him as more of an authority in where he could conceivably go.
Prior to “Wrath of Man” I saw Statham as the gun-for-hire. But now I see him as someone who could be hiring the gun. I like that. I want more. I want “Wrath of Man 2” Do you hear me, director Guy Ritchie? Please explore this story further. I will drop another $19.99 at Amazon, sir.
Statham is usually a man of few words in his films, but this was even more so. I enjoyed his solemnity so much and felt as if I was watching the countdown of a ticking time bomb, that just might explode at zero, or maybe not.
Statham invests in his character (that goes by "H") and as always, his performance is believable, and in this case, tragically intense.
One thing I do have to say about Jason Statham and why he is one of my favorite actors. Not only is he a powerhouse of presence on the screen, but his characters always bring a backstory with them. Every character has a lifetime of experience behind them, and that to me, adds a world of difference to portraying a believable character in film.
Great job Jason, I appreciate your efforts over the years, and every penny I've spent to watch your work has been worth it. As far as I know, I have seen every one of his films. Even when he had hair. For the record, I like the bald look. It's intense.
P.S. I have a few other memorable performances to applaud. I want to extend a shout-out to Andy Garcia, who does an exceptional job as Agent King. I also want to acknowledge Rob Delaney as Boss Blake Halls, (perhaps you might remember him as the hero without powers by the name of Peter in “Deadpool 2”) Babs Olusanmokun as Moggy, Alessandro Babalola as Stuart and Darrell D'Silva as Mike. They were standouts to me and deserve an appreciative nod.
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