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American Gangster (2007)

 The man I worked for had one of the biggest companies in New York City. He didn’t own his own company. White man owned it, so they owned him. Nobody owns me, though.

— Frank Lucas

I have previously watched American Gangster when an aunt loaned me the DVD of the movie. I watched a third of the movie when I stopped, because it was too long for me to pay any attention to it. I knew that the movie was nominated for two Oscars including a Best Supporting Actress nom for Ruby Dee for her five-minute role and for Best Art Direction. Watching the movie against almost made root for the bad guy… almost.

Harlem 1968. Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington) mourns the death of Bumpy Johnson (Clarence Williams III) who was a surrogate father to him. Bumpy was Frank’s teacher for dealing with the gangster life, especially for a black man in those times. Frank wants to take over in Bumpy’s place, but do things a little better. He wants to get the best product, which was cocaine to give to the people of Harlem. He wants to show his dominance with the other gangsters of the neighborhood like Tango (Idris Elba) who treats Frank like a servant and Nicky Barnes (Cuba Gooding, Jr.) who is all talk and no bit.

At the same time, an undercover cop, Richie Roberts (Russell Crowe) tries to be on the straight and narrow in a sea of corruption in the police department. Richie’s partner, Javier Rivera (John Ortiz) discovered a car that had almost a million dollars in it. John wants to keep some of the money, but Richie wants to do the right thing and turn them all in. he Richie is not the most popular cop in the precinct. He is going to night school to get his law degree and having to pay child support to his ex-wife, Laurie (Carla Cugino).

There is a crooked cop, Detective Trupo (Josh Brolin) who confiscated drugs from busts, water them down and sell them back to the bad guys for a profit. He wants to get some hush-hush money from Frank, but Frank doesn’t want to be another police lackey.

Opium and heroin are on the rise during this time and about goes to Bangkok to get the purest heroin that he could find. He finds it and sells it on the street as “Blue Magic” for dirt cheap. With the money from selling the 100 kilos of heroin, he buys a home for his Mama (Ruby Dee) and the rest of his family. Frank decides to expand his business and include his brothers in the process.

Meanwhile, Richie is hand selected to lead a special group of DEA agents to help bring down the drug trafficking ring. their first target is Frank Lucas.

The movie came with the theatrical version and the unrated version. I wanted to see the theatrical version, because it was short. The movie is 2:45 at least. That is a lot of movie about a bad guy selling drugs to his own people. The unrated version would make it three hours. No thanks. I was able to take the movie. there were some good moments in the movie that was bogged down by filler scene that I could do without.

Judgment: It’s interesting to see a movie about a black gangster, but I wish that it was a tighter story.

Rating: 7/10

The Losers (2010)

I’m warning you, I am a lethal killing machine. It was a secret government experiment. They did stuff to me. Spooky stuff… Anal stuff. It turned me into a dangerous telekinetic. In the words of Ancient Taoist masters, Don’t start none… Won’t be none.

— Jensen

A couple of months ago, I did a “Compare and Contrast” about how familiar the upcoming A-Team movie adaptation is to this movie, The Losers. Both of these films deal with mercenaries that were betrayed and they have nothing to lose. I also want to point out that this sounds familiar to another movie, The Expendables, the new Stallone flick. Not being familiar with the original Andy Diggle comic book series, I went into this movie blind. This film is a huge stink bomb. Let me explain.

This movie starts in Bolivia where a US Special Forces soldiers; pilot Pooch (Columbus Short), hacker Jensen (Chris Evans), sniper Cougar (Óscar Jaenada), the second-in-command Roque (Idris Elba) and leader Clay (Jeffery Dean Morgan) make up the titular team. They are on a search and destroy mission to kill shameless drug and arms dealer, Fadhil (Peter Francis James) who is using children as drug mules. The team doesn’t know this before the air strike is about to happen. When the team tries to call off the strike, the military chain of command proceeds, but the Losers save the kids.

The team is betrayed by their handler, Max (Jason Patric) who thinks that the helicopter that his blows up had the rescued kids, instead of them. Feeling the ultimate betrayal and presumed dead, the team are not soldiers anymore and decide to find a way to get back to the US legitimately. They take small jobs at local doll factory to scrape some money together.

At a bar one night, Clay meets a beautiful woman, Aisha (Zoe Saldana) who informs him after a rough and tumble fight in his hotel room that she has a way to get the guys back into the States and get revenge on Max. The rest of the team are not too keen on the plan, especially Roque would thinks that Clay loses his edge when a woman is involved in a mission. Clay goes against Roque’s wishes and aligns himself with Aisha.

Meanwhile, the “evil” Max hatches his plan for world destruction contract a couples of scientist from Dubai to get him an environmentally friendly bomb called a snuke to start a war that would benefit the United States. Sidebar—a green terrorist? That is ludicrous. I laughed my ass off when that phrase came out of his mouth. He is joined by his right-hand man, Wade (Holt McCallany) to carry out his master plan.

The Losers go to a rendezvous point in Miami which they think that Max is being transported, but it turns out to be a high-tech safe deposit box. They think that it could be the leverage they need to take Max down once and for all.

The movie is insipid. I thought the cast was fine with the exception of Jason Patric. What movie do he come from? He was laughable as the “bad guy” with that fucked up left hand of his that was never explained. Did he try to channel Hannibal Lecter there? It was cringe-worthy to say the least. The action was fine for a PG-13 flick. I have to say, do we need to subplot about Jensen being heavily into his niece’s soccer team, The Petunias. There is some glaring plotholes that had me scratching my head.

Judgment: Just another subpar action flick.

Rating: **

28 Weeks Later (2007)

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It all makes sense. They’re executing code red. Step 1: Kill the infected. Step 2: Containment. If containment fails, then Step 3: Extermination.

— Scarlet

The slick-looking 28 Weeks Later is a slight departure from the gritty goodness of Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later. I actively avoided seeing this at the theater, because I thought that it would be a retread of a movie that I thoroughly enjoyed. Juan Carlos Fresnadillo took over the director reigns with Danny Boyle serving as executive producer. This movie is a worthy follow-up.

This story follows a different group of survivors from the outbreak than the previous film. Donald (Robert Carlyle) and his wife, Alice (Catherine McCormack) are hiding out in an older couple’s house when the infected bust into the house. He cowardly leaves his wife behind with the infected in order to escape.

Over the next 28 weeks, the infected with the rage virus have died from starvation. American forces resolve the situation in London. It is declared free from the infection. The rebuilding begins with the survivors.

Fifteen thousand survivors are allowed back in London before they go into quarantine, then the refugee camps. The survivors are living on the Isle of Dogs, a safe haven for the survivors aka District 1. The surrounding areas are contaminated for the dead infected that hasn’t been cleaned up yet.

Donald’s kids, Tammy (Imogen Poots) and Andy (Mackintosh Muggleton) are reunited with them. They wonder where their mother is at and Donald bends the truth about what happened to her.

After having a nightmare, Andy fears that he might forget what his mother looks like. The kids sneak away from the island where a sniper, Doyle (Jeremy Renner) spots them. They go back to their old house. In the process of getting their, Andy finds his mother hiding in the upstairs. She appears not to be an infected.

She is quartered in a special area of the Island where Scarlet (Rose Byrne) examines her. She determines that Alice contains the virus, because of her genetic mutation is immune to the infection, but she is a carrier of the virus. Unbeknownst to Donald that sees her later on when the virus is reignited.

This movie is more schizophrenic that it’s predecessor. Some sequences were too jarring and frantic for my taste. I didn’t like at the last half of the movie. The texture is a little off trying to make midday into night. There are some inconsistencies and plot-holes that bothered me. I will discuss them in the spoiler section.

There were some interesting ideas in this movie about Andy and how his same mutation could help contain the rage virus.

Judgment: A solid installment in this franchise that does have its flaws.

Rating: ****

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