A new feature from from ctvnews.ca! The Crouse Review is a quick, hot take on the weekend’s biggest movies! This week Richard looks at “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” withRyan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson, the Steven Soderbergh heist film “Lucky Logan” and the social commentary on social media of “Ingrid Goes West.”
Richard and CP24 anchor Jamie Gutfreund have a look at the weekend’s new movies including “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” withRyan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson, the Steven Soderbergh heist film “Lucky Logan,” the social commentary on social media of “Ingrid Goes West” and the down ‘n dirty grit of the ironically named “Good Time.”
Richard sits in with CTV NewsChannel anchor Marcia MacMillan to have a look at the big weekend movies including the Ryan Reynolds/Samuel L. Jackson buddy comedy “The Hitman’s Bodyguard,” the Steven Soderbergh heist film “Lucky Logan,” the social commentary on social media of “Ingrid Goes West” and the down ‘n dirty grit of the ironically named “Good Time.”
“The Hitman’s Bodyguard” mixes and matches all the usual action movie flourishes—exotic locations, violence, jokes and romance—but succeeds because of the match between its leads, Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson.
Reynolds is Michael Bryce, former executive protection hot shot. He was a man who handled security for the world’s richest and most dangerous people until one of his clients didn’t make it home alive. Losing his AAA status affected him personally and professionally. “I don’t really do high-value anymore,” he says. “These days I’m more in the coked out attorney business.”
Jackson is contract killer Darius Kincaid. With hundreds of notches on his belt he is one of the world’s most deadly killers, but makes a deal with Interpol to testify at The Hague against a former Belorussian dictator (Gary Oldman) in exchange for the release of his wife Sonia (Salma Hayek) from a Dutch prison. Trouble is, there’s a leak at Interpol and the transport, lead by Interpol agent and Bryce’s ex Amelia Roussel (Elodie Yung), is attacked.
Kinciad and Roussel escape, but to sidestep any more leaks and get to The Hague they realize they must bring in someone, “completely out of the loop.” Enter Bryce, who takes the gig because he wants his elite status back. “You’re not good at anything except keeping people alive,” says Roussel.
Cue the bullets, explosions and one-liners.
They say casting is everything and in the case of “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” it’s hard to disagree. The story is a clichénado, a swirling mish mash of countdown clocks, car crashes and a hitman with a conscience, that feels like we’ve seen it before and better in other movies. Then there’s a romantic subplot—apparently without love all the killing and mayhem have no meaning—that gets in the way of the fun stuff.
What changes things up is some clever casting. Reynolds’s crack comic timing and Jackson’s swagger are well tested commodities that reap benefits here. Add to that Selma Hayek’s foul mouthed but funny Sonia and Oldham’s scowling dictator and you have an all-star cast that transforms the so-so material.
“The Hitman’s Bodyguard” is a silly but entertaining movie. It works when it shouldn’t and just when your attention starts to wander it draws you back in. A philosophical twist—”Who is more wicked he who kills evil m******f*****s or he who protects them?”—doesn’t go anywhere but the final shot before the credits marries romance and ultra violence in a way that made me forgive the film’s previous transgressions.
Richard sits in with CTV NewsChannel anchor Marcia MacMillan to have a look at the big weekend movies, the great ape flick “Kong: Skull Island,” the Shirley MacLaine dramedy “The Last Word” and the animated “Window Horses.”
Richard sits in on the CFRA Morning Show with host Bill Carroll to talk about the weekend’s big releases, the great ape flick “Kong: Skull Island,” the Shirley MacLaine dramedy “The Last Word” and the animated “Window Horses.”
Only two things are sure about Skull Island. First, it is home to Megaprimatus kong a.k.a. King Kong and a menagerie of prehistoric creatures. Second, as Mason Weaver (Brie Larson) says in this weekend’s Kong: Skull Island, “We don’t belong here.”
The latest adventures of King Kong take place almost entirely on the island but what, exactly, do we know about the place?
Not much, because Skull Island is uncharted and changes from film to film.
In the new movie, a digital map image suggests the island derived its intimidating name from its gorilla skull profile shape but originally the isle wasn’t called Skull Island. The best-known versions of the Kong story, the original 1933 Merian C. Cooper film and the 1976 Dino De Laurentiis production, never mention Skull Island.
The first movie and its subsequent novelisation describe a “high wooded island with a skull-like knob” called Skull Mountain while the ‘76 film refers to Beach of the Skull. It wasn’t until 2004’s Kong: King of Skull Island illustrated novel that the name was first used. Since then the moniker has stuck.
The same can’t be said for its location.
Over the years it’s been pegged everywhere from the coast of Indonesia and southwest of Central America to the Bermuda Triangle and the Coral Sea off the east coast of Australia.
In reality many places have subbed in for the island. In 1933 several locations were pieced together to create Kong’s home.
Outdoor scenes were shot at Long Beach, California and the caves at Bronson Canyon near Griffith Park in Los Angeles. Everything else was filmed on a soundstage in Culver City using odds and ends from other sets. The giant Skull Mountain gate was later reused in Gone with the Wind’s burning of Atlanta sequence.
De Laurentiis spared no expense bringing the island to life in 1976, moving the entire crew to the Hawaiian island of Kauai.
The shoot began at the remote Honopu Beach, a place the crew were told was deserted. Arriving in four helicopters laden with equipment they were greeted by a honeymooning couple who, thinking they had the place to themselves, had slept nude on the beach.
The impressive stone arch seen in the film — “Beyond the arch, there is danger, there is Kong!” — was natural and so huge years later when an episode of Acapulco Heat was filmed there a helicopter flew underneath it.
Peter Jackson’s 2005 King Kong reboot used a combination of New Zealand’s picturesque Shelly Bay and Lyall Bay as Skull Island’s “jungle from hell.” In the film’s closing credits the director paid tongue-in-cheek tribute to all the stars of the 1933 movie, calling them, “The original explorers of Skull Island.”
This weekend’s installment was shot in Vietnam, Queensland, Australia and Kualoa Ranch, Hawaii, where giant sets were built near where Jurassic World was filmed.
The scenery, as John Goodman’s character says, is “magnificent,” but there was also a practical reason to shoot in these exotic locations. The Hollywood Reporter stated the production shot in Australia to take advantage of a whopping 16.5% location offset incentive — i.e. tax break — offered by the Australian government.
Kong: Skull Island describes the isle as “a place where myth and science meet.”
On film though, it’s a spot where the imaginations of Kong fans run wild.
Set in 1973, the “Kong: Skull Island” is unrelated to the Kongs that came before. There’s no Empire State Building, no Jessica Lange, no romance between damsel and beast.
John Goodman is Bermuda Triangle conspiracy theorist William Randa, a man with some wild ideas about an uncharted island in the South Pacific. “This planet doesn’t belong to us. Ancient species owned this earth long before mankind. I spent 30 years trying to prove the truth: monsters exist.” With government funding supplied by a senator (Richard Jenkins) Randa leads an expedition to prove his ideas about certain life forms on the planet. Along for the ride are a military helicopter squadron, a handful of scientists, U.S. military commander Preston Packard (Samuel L. Jackson), former British soldier turned mercenary James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston) and antiwar photographer Mason Weaver (Brie Larson).
Arriving at the island they are greeted by the tallest King Kong ever. “Is that a monkey?” gasps Jack Chapman (Toby Kebbell). Some monkey. At over 100 feet he dwarfs his cinematic brothers—1933’s Kong was 24 feet, the 1976 version was 55 feet while Peter Jackson knocked him back to 25 feet for his 2005 adaptation—and easily knocks many of Randa’s helicopters from the air.
The survivors hit the ground running, only to meet up with Hank Marlow (John C. Reilly), a World War II fighter pilot stranded on the island for decades. “You’ve probably noticed a lot of weird things on this island,” he says in the understatement of the century. As they try and brave the treacherous landscape to meet a refuelling team at the north end of the island the motley crew soon realizes Kong isn’t their only or even biggest problem.
At its furry heart “Kong: Skull Island” feels like an anti-war movie. At least half of it does. The opening section, roughly half the movie, suggests the unintentional and deadly consequences that come from dropping bombs were you shouldn’t. “You didn’t go to someone’s house and start dropping bombs and less you’re looking for a fight.” It’s a timely message about unleashing powers we don’t understand in the name of war wrapped in a Vietnam allegory. “Sometimes the enemy doesn’t exist until you show up at his doorstep,” says Cole (Shea Whigham).
Then Reilly enters and with him comes a new shift. What was once a message movie is now a story of survival and giant beasts. Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts pivots at this point, staging a series of action scenes with cool creatures, and it works as pure creature feature entertainment. It’s cool to see Kong tossing military helicopters around as though they were Tonka Toys and another scene will make you think twice about sitting on an old hollowed out log. Fans of bigly beast action will be more than satisfied with the final battle between Kong and a massive subterranean people eater.
“Kong: Skull Island’s” social commentary doesn’t fade away completely but Kong’s mighty roar does drown most of it out. Just below the roar, almost out of earshot, is the idea that displays of force aren’t always the way to deal with conflict, a rare sentiment for an action movie laden with WMDs. Mostly the flick provides a fun romp with some big budget beasts and (secondarily) an Oscar winner or two.
Richard sits in on the CJAD Montreal morning show with Andrew Carter to discuss the weekend’s big releases, the towering “Kong: Skull Island,” the Shirley MacLaine dramedy “The Last Word” and a look back at “Logan.”