Category: Crime

“Hell Ride” Poster [2008]

The red band teaser trailer for Hell Ride is now online. It looks exactly like the kind of movie that we’d see as the second or third feature showing at a drive-in back in the 70’s. It’s a revenge biker flick starring Michael Madsen, Vinnie Jones, David Carradine, Dennis Hopper, that guy who used to be on “24” and presented by Quentin Tarantino. Yeah, I’m in.  And not just because Hell Ride has a cool poster.

Eastern Promises

The Pitch: “The Godfather” with a Russian twist.

The Good: Viggo Mortensen owns every second he is own the screen. Armin Mueller-Stahl quietly demands to be watched and heard in every scene — which is exactly what is needed as the kind restaurant owner, family man and head of a Russian mob. The killings in the public bath — brutal, but believable. The twist near the end — I totally did not see it coming and loved it.

The Bad: The movie is slow to get started and then moves at a steady pace. The violence is there, but not as bad as you may have heard.

The Ugly: “Okay. Now I’m going to do his teeth and cut off his fingers. You might want to leave room.”

The Summary: “Eastern Promises” is a brutal look at the Russian mafia. Viggo Mortensen gives an Oscar-worthy performance as the “driver.” The violence may put some off, but it grounds the movie’s reality. I have a feeling that this one is going to grow on me as time passes.

Harsh Times = Bad Time

I really, really wanted to like “Harsh Times.” David Ayer directed it. Ayer also wrote it. Okay, you ask, “so who is David Ayer?” He’s the talented writer of such films as “Training Day,” “Dark Blue,” and “The Fast and the Furious” among others. Ayer also directed “Street Kings” which I really enjoyed. So even though “Harsh Times” starred Christian Bale, Freddy Rodriguez, Eva Longoria and Terry Crews [in a small role], it was Ayer who was the major selling point for me.

The Pitch: “Training Day” meets “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” without the comedy and where Ferris is an over-the-edge ex-marine.

The Good: The scene when Bale & Rodriguez attempt to sell a handgun in a Tex-Mex bar. The tension throughout the movie — who’s going to die?

The Bad: There’s a lack of redeeming characters. The movie is dark, dark, dark.

The Ugly: How disappointed I am, that I didn’t like the movie more.

The Summary: “Harsh Times” was too bleak for me. Good director, good cast, but without characters that I could really get behind.

Street Kings

There are currently three movies at the local multiplex that I want to see: “Street Kings,” “The Ruins,” and “Diary of the Dead.”Today, “Street Kings” won out mainly due to the outstanding folks behind it.

The screenplay was created by James [novelist and screenwriter – do I really need to list credits for him?] Elroy, Kurt [“Equilibrium” “The Recruit”] Wimmer, and Jamie Moss.

It stars: Keanu [“Matrix”] Reeves, Forest [“The Shield”] Whitaker, Hugh [“House”] Laurie, Chris [“Fantastic Four”] Evans, Cedric “The Entertainer,” Jay [“Suicide Kings”] Mohr, Terry [“Harsh Times”] Crews, Naomi [“28 Days Later”] Harris, and Amaury [“Prison Break”] Nolasco.

It was directed by David [“Harsh Times”] Ayer.

The Pitch: “The Shield” meets “Training Day.” Keanu plays a bad cop falsely accused of killing his old partner who had been talking to internal affairs. His team has a cover-up in place, but Keanu wants to find the killers… no matter the cost to him or the team. Soon no one can be trusted.

The Good: * The story. The action from the opening scenes to the end. * The cast. Chris Evans, Naomi Harris and Cedric the Entertainer need special mention as they made the scenes they were in even better. I was worried that Cedric would be out of place in a serious movie, but he made his character work. * The Tension: The scene in the apartment especially — “I am your nightmare.” The scene in the car when Keanu works the handcuffs and the two scenes that follow — not your typical turn of events. * The ending [as surprising and as bold as the ending of “The Mist.”]

The Bad: everyone.

The Ugly: the two gangbangers after being dug up.

Summary: Although not a classic, “Street Kings” will definitely find a home in my dvd collection. If you’re looking for action in the “Training Day” vein, then “Street Kings” is for you.

Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips’ Criminal [2008]

I‘ve been diggin’ Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips’ Criminal forever. If you haven’t ever checked it out [or even if you have] CBR has an advance look at the latest issue. Two things before you go: 1] Criminal is not for kids due to the violence & profanity and 2] The latest is a complete in one issue story, so it makes a great place to jump on board. Okay now, here’s the link.

Look Out for Femme Noir

Next month, the first issue of Femme Noir: The Dark City Diaries, written by Chris Mills and drawn by Joe Staton, will be listed in Diamond Comics Distribution’s Previews. If you get Previews, I’d like you to check it out. My guess is after doing so, you’ll want to order a copy. If you don’t get previews, then please ask your local comic shop owner to take a look at it.

Femme Noir is a cartoon crime comic inspired by Eisner’s The Spirit, Gould’s Dick Tracy, plus a healthy mix of cliffhanger serials, B-movies, pulp magazines, and more. Each issue will feature a 28 page standalone story [how rare is that!] plus two pin-ups by guest artists!

Issues #1 and #3 are inked by Horacio Ottolini, issues #2 and #4 by Mark Stegbauer. Colors are provided by Melissa Kaercher and Matt Webb. As an added bonus, each issue is offered with two covers: one pencilled by Joe Staton and then digitally painted by Alfredo Lopez Jr, with the second by a guest artist. Those guest artists are Brian Bolland, Matt Haley, Phil Hester, and the late Mike Wieringo. [Some fans will buy the issues just for the guest covers!]

The official Femme Noir website is Check out the website and if you like what you see, help me spread the word. [And no, I’m not getting any kickbacks. I like Chris Mills’ work — especially his crime comic Gravedigger — and I’d like to see Chris and Joe Staton get the audience they deserve on Femme Noir. If it wasn’t a worthy comic, I wouldn’t be talking it up… and you wouldn’t still be reading this.]

No Country for Old Men

“No Country for Old Men” brought to the screen by co-writers and co-directors Joel and Ethan Cohen is being talked up for all kinds of awards. After seeing it today, I’d say it’s going to win a bunch. Based on the novel by Cormac McCarthy and boasting a flawless cast that includes Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, Javier Bardem, Woody Harrelson and Kelly MacDonald, this could be THE film to beat come award season.

The Good: not going Hollywood and changing the story; Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, Javier Bardem, Woody Harrelson and Kelly MacDonald are perfectly cast; the scene where Chigurh
brings the cuffs to the front, strangles the deputy and then calmly cleans his wrists; when Moss stumbles on the drug-deal-gone-bad aftermath; when Chigurh makes the old man “call it”; Moss barely escaping into the river and then coming out to calmly prepare for the “next attack” which is barreling at him; Moss’ dialogue with his wife and later Carson Wells; Sherriff Bell’s dialogue with everyone; the pacing; when Chigurh appears behind Carson Wells on the steps; Woody Harrelson’s scene with Bardem; the direction.

The Bad: Anton Chigurh. Nothing else comes close to being “The Bad.”

The Ugly: Doctoring your own gunshot wound; and when you hear “there’s a bone sticking out of your arm.”

If you haven’t yet, you should read the book and then see the movie. That way, come Oscars you’ll be ahead of the curve.