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December 2008 Movie Reviews
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Seven Pounds
Starring: Will Smith, Rosario Dawson
Directed By: Olivier Megaton
Run Time: 1 hr 40 mins

Seven Pounds is about an IRS agent named Ben Thomas (played by Smith) who meets with those who haven't paid their taxes to assess whether or not they deserve an extension. He bases his assessments on these people's character - how decent a human being they are. Those who are good get leniency from the IRS; those who are not... don't.

There's a lot going on in this movie over this simple plot. All of those whom he's investigating seem to have life threatening medical issues. You have to wonder why he's so interested in the personality of those with tax/money/medical issues. I spent a great portion of the beginning of the movie trying to figure out what was going on (in a good way). Most of the dialog is presented as voyeurism - the characters know what's going on so they carry on as such without juxtaposition. It made for great mystery. I kept wondering when the plot twist would come. I knew there was one so I was trying hard to figure it out before it was revealed. I was able to get the essence of some of the twist but was a bit surprised with all of the details. Finally, I kept wondering what was the significance of the title. It took me to the complete very end to get that "aha!" moment. I think the title refers to the sum of the weight of his gifts...

You know from the very beginning how the movie is going to end. I spent it wondering how it would happen. I picked up rather quickly what he was going to give people. It was how he was going to help them. I understood that. I understood that he wanted to help good people. But why? And then I contemplated the logistics of how it would all happen. As the final seconds were falling into place and it became abundantly clear that the end of the movie as drawing nearer, I started throwing out plausible means. "He can't do this because X; he can't do that because Y." And then the ending came. Wow. Such a statement. So scary and sad. And then I had to wonder, "Wouldn't that harm the things he wanted to donate?" Potential spoiler: I must say, I have never been so shocked over a death scene (and I'm not telling you who dies) in my entire life. I gasped. Actually gasped and clutched my chest. Holy cow. Holy freakin' cow. Wow. Never heard so many noses being blown in my life as the credits rolled. True, it is winter so maybe some of them had colds but I don't think so. I think this movie really affected everyone in the audience. It was incredibly powerful.

I read a synopsis of this movie and it mentioned that Ben helps seven strangers. It took me a bit to count them all up because most of the people he helps aren't the focus of the movie. You get a teensy bit of Ezra (played by Harrelson) but most of the movie centers on Emily. I then wondered after the movie if he logistically could have helped more people. What else was left?

I must point out: Duke the Great Dane stole the show. I stayed for the credits but I didn't see who played him. I absolutely loved him. There's a scene where Emily and Ben are riding in a car and Duke's in the back seat, head hanging out the window. Note the drool all over that window! Once you notice it, you can't take your eyes off it. Wow. That's a lot of drool. And was anyone fooled by that fence around her yard? It's a good thing Duke was really so docile because all he had to do was lift a foot up and he would have been over that fence. But the reason she adopted Duke (well, just her note about why Great Danes only live 7 years) was so touching. I had tears in my eyes just for that.

Potential spoiler: I wonder if he intended to fall in love and if it was his plan to give back the life to the woman he loved... I absolutely loved the bath scene where she put her ears under water, listening to the heart beating. I really started bawling at that. How sweet.

I wasn't sure I was going to like this movie. The reason I didn't think I was going to like it was because I kept thinking (oh, the horror) while watching it. I kept trying to uncover the twist, kept trying to figure out what was going on instead of letting the movie unfurl before me. And then it all hit me, moments before the ending. Wow. So good. I bawled at this movie. Such a heartbreaking story. I wasn't expecting that. I loved this movie so much that I had to revise the "Top Movies of 2008" list. When I finalized my list, I didn't think I'd watch another movie this year and I certainly didn't think I'd see one so good. I am so glad I braved the snow to go out to cram one movie into my 2008 schedule. It was so worth it.

Yes Man
Starring: Jim Carrey, Bradley Cooper, Zooey Deschanel
Directed By: Peyton Reed
Run Time: 1 hr 44 mins

Yes Man is about a negative man who has to say "yes" to everything and anything after following the advice of a self-help seminar. Carl (played by Carrey) has a rather boring life - he ignores his friends and never tries anything - until a friend encourages him to attend a self-help seminar. After becoming the focus of the seminar (he's a no sayer), he feels compelled to start saying yes to everything. As a result, good things start happening to him. When he says no, bad things happen. He realizes he has to say yes all of the time.

I learned one thing by going to Yes Man. That one thing is never go to a movie on a Saturday during the mid-matinee times after a major holiday where families who spent that major holiday together are now sick of each other and need to get out of the house. The theater was packed. My normal movie time is less popular, which means it's me, a couple of senior citizens, some housewives, and some college kids (and a handful of other people I haven't quite pegged as to why they can be at a movie during the day). At most I share the theater with a dozen others. I get a seat and my coat and bag of goodies (blankie, sweater, slippers - particularly useful in the late Spring or early Fall when I'm wearing flip flops but it's a bit rainy and cold out and my feet are wet as a result - popcorn salt, reusable straw, some forks, and my container of tofu) get their own seat. I'm all stretched out and I'm comfortable. And there's enough room between me and the other patrons that they don't have to smell my tofu and broccoli and I don't have to feel weird about eating tofu and broccoli during a movie. This was not the case at a 3:00 Saturday showing of a just released post-holiday movie. Good thing this was my second movie of the day. I had already eaten my lunch (falafel and hummus) during the first. This time I was eating popcorn and Twizzlers... and feeling very self-conscious of how much popcorn and Twizzlers I was eating. And during this packed showing I was constantly reminded how much I see movies (and how little others must get out to the theater). I had watched previews for this movie dozens of times. Apparently all of this movie was a surprise to the two cackling hyenas sitting on either side of me. After the first outburst of rather annoying over-the-top giggle fits, I remarked to myself that it must be nice to be able to laugh so freely and readily. I mean, I wait for something to actually be funny before I laugh. It must be nice to find humor that comes so easily. Jeff always teases me because I am easy to amuse (particularly at myself) but apparently there are people who are easier to humor than I. Much easier. Like wave something shiny or jingle your keys easier. Wow. I loved how they laughed at stuff that was in the previews as if they hadn't anticipated it at all. Did they really never see a preview for this movie? All of the parts these people were dying over were in the previews. I want to move into the cave they must be living in if they hadn't seen some of these bits before (Terrence Stamp bonking Jim Carrey on the head with the microphone at the "Yes" seminar). The most interesting part of this experience was when I was the only one laughing at something. The two cackling hyenas turned and stared at me. Silly me. I get the smart humor, the subtle stuff, the deadpan lines. Even dogs laugh at slapstick. And don't get me started about the audience's reaction to the Tilly scene. Sigh.

Back to the actual review. This movie is a bit funny. I like Jim Carrey when he deadpans his lines rather than goes for broke. There's not much of subtly in this movie. I did like how all things came together - they all were connected somehow. Giving a homeless man a ride to the middle of nowhere, letting him use his cell phone until the battery died, running out of gas, walking to the gas station and meeting Allison, guitar lessons, Korean lessons, cheering up the suicidal man.

One part I must interject: It's perfectly natural for people to take a trip to Lincoln, Nebraska. Really. We did it one Valentine's Day. They have a great zoo. Or was that Omaha? I've been there, too. Oh, and another note: Does Zooey Deschanel own that blue coat with the red trim? I swear I've seen her wear that coat before. It could have been Elf or Almost Famous. It definitely seems to suit her. Very natural looking. Ya gotta wonder if she's that quirky in real-life or she just happens to always play quirky with a tough-ish side.

I did like this movie. It's good-hearted. It was actually funny. I probably would have enjoyed it more in a less packed theater; I probably would have enjoyed it more with Jeff. I liked the concept. I thought it was going to be too much like Liar, Liar (the first and only Jim Carrey movie I own) but it held its own. The plots are different. Here he at least has control over what he does, even though he doesn't always remember/think he does. And I liked the free will aspect. I liked that Jim Carrey was more subtle in this movie than he normally is (quite a change from The Mask days). It was cute. I liked Allison (played by Deschanel). I liked her quirky songs. I did not really like Norman, although his parties were interesting. And I liked the ending, even though Allison's suit version creeped me out (note the difference between hers and Carl's). It's a good movie. Definitely would be a good trans-Atlantic plane movie. Funny. Nice. Cute. Just see it with fairly mature people.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Starring: Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Julia Ormond
Directed By: David Fincher
Run Time: 2 hrs 47 mins

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is about a man born in his eighties who ages backwards. It's based on a short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald and takes place in New Orleans.

I should really read Fitzgerald's story to see if some of the things I didn't like about the movie were in the original tale. New Orleans wasn't the original setting of the story so was this change Pitt's influence? I can garner that the Katrina ending was not in the original but again, was that Pitt's influence or was that part of the movie as it was crafted? As you may have guessed, I wasn't a fan of the setting, primarily because the accents were annoying. Pitt's was fleeting, which was surprising seeing as how he lives there, and it was different from Blanchett's. Their characters were both born and raised in New Orleans. Why the difference? That bothered me.

Accents and settings aside, the beginning troubled me. I had a hard time connecting why we were watching a tale about the New Orleans clock creation. What did it have to do with Benjamin Button? And then I quickly figured it out. I'm a fast learner. Time moving backwards. Got it.

The beginning, once I understood how it tied into the movie, is incredibly slow (not the part about the clock maker, all of it). It really takes awhile to get into the movie, maybe because I didn't care for really super old Cate Blanchett lying in the hospital bed. It takes awhile for Benjamin Button to make his appearance. And even then it's slow. It takes awhile for Brad Pitt to make an appearance, well, an appearance that's recognizable. He voiced 80 year old Benjamin; his body just wasn't on screen (and he narrated the movie, too). I think I grew a bit impatient for Pitt to emerge as Button because I knew the movie really wasn't going to get rolling until then. Waiting is so hard. It is an interesting tale. Beautifully shot. Colorful characters. I absolutely loved 80 year old Benjamin telling people in a kid's voice that was actually old, "I ain't supposed to do that." So funny. So charming. It was just sweet and oh, so funny.

Once the movie did get rolling, I must say that I was not at all prepared for the unbelievable love story aspect. It was incredibly compelling. I had a lump in my throat for most of the movie (well, once it got rolling).

I was a bit confused by some of the technical aspects to the story of a boy born an old man. Why were some things about him old and yet other parts weren't? As he was nearing the end of his life, why did he grow from the size of an adult to a teenager? When he was born, he was an old man the size of a baby. Why wasn't he a baby the size of an old man when he was in the later years of his life? Didn't anyone wonder why this teenager was now an infant? How can this be? I can get that no one paid much attention to him turning from an old man to a younger man because the people around him changed (and his mother hid his reverse aging well in an old folks home). But when he went into the old folks home at the end of his life, he had caregivers around him that should have noticed this change. No one seemed alarmed by this. And why would an old woman in an old folks home be allowed to care for an infant? She's there presumably because she can't take care of herself anymore by herself. Are we to believe they entrusted an infant to her care? Finally, the clock ending... the clock's destruction (Katrina's wrath) didn't correlate to Benjamin's time. Shouldn't the clock have been destroyed a few years earlier? Or am I mis-interpreting its destruction? Perhaps that last shot wasn't of its demise, but rather a reminder that it was still working, despite being forgotten. It will never forget the reason it was built. Eh...

I was awe struck at how much old Cate Blanchett resembled Katherine Hepburn and then I remembered that she played Katherine Hepburn in Aviator, a film about Howard Hughes. I also marveled at her ballet skills. Was that her or was her face digitally enhanced on someone else's body? She was an amazing dancer.

All in all, the story and the overall movie are fabulously compelling. I love the idea of aging backwards, however, I think the real point of that concept was missed. Shouldn't Benjamin had more wisdom inherently as a baby? "Life can only be understood backwards but must be lived forwards." The real attraction to this movie is the love story between Benjamin and Daisy. The aging part is just an interesting twist to keep them apart (and bring them together).

I'm not sure Pitt's performance is Oscar worthy. There was a physicality to the role, particularly the old Benjamin, but Pitt didn't play that part. He only voiced it (although there is something to be said for how he blended the old and the young into his voice). His performance was good, not great.

I actually did like this movie, despite all the poo-pooing I seem to be doing about plot points. Like I said, the real attraction is the extraordinary stirring love story. I really did have a lump in my throat for most of this movie (once it got rolling... did I mention that part?). The acting was okay. Not quite worthy of all the buzz. A good movie. Quirky. Sweet.

Starring: Sean Penn, Allison Pill, Josh Brolin, Emile Hirsch, James Franco
Directed By: Gus Van Sant
Run Time: 2 hrs 8 mins

Milk is about the first openly gay politician Harvey Milk's (played by Penn) struggle to get elected in San Francisco in the 70s and what happens after he does get elected. Both he and Mayor George Moscone (played by Garber) are assassinated by San Francisco Supervisor Dan White (played by Brolin). And that's not a spoiler by telling you he dies - it's in history books (by the way, we "won" WWII).

That's right, it's almost Oscar time! This means that I must forgo the silly comedies and suspenseful action flicks in lieu of those that are "good for me." Sigh. On one hand, I do feel as though I should see these movies, but on the other hand, they are just that - good for me. No one likes what's good for them, right? Well, I do like tofu...

Milk is a tough movie. It's tough because from the moment you sit down, you know what's going to happen. The question is when. I had a lump in my throat from almost the very beginning. So sad. Poor Harvey Milk. Trying to make the world a better place. One has to wonder what the state of politics would be like had he lived. Granted, he was just a city supervisor but you have to think he would have risen to higher offices (by election, of course). There was so much good being done by someone trying so hard to make a difference.

As I watched with the lump in my throat, I couldn't help but get goosebumps. Goosebumps from the fact that what was happening in the 70s is eerily similar to what's happening now - a push for "family values." We think we've come so far with gay rights only to see people trying to get a Constitutional amendment defining a marriage as one man, one woman. So many people trying to fix what they think is wrong with family values by taking away other people's ability to call themselves a family. It's sad to think that the things Harvey Milk was fighting for in the 70s would still need his attention today. It was so sad to watch people condemn Harvey and his crew, without really knowing him. I did love one of his rebuttals when debating a fundamentalist who wanted to pass a law that would fire any teacher - or a supporter of that teacher - who was gay. Harvey asked, "If you think that a gay teacher could turn a student gay simply by the nature that his teacher was gay, how come there aren't more nuns?"

I want to like Sean Penn. I'm not sure he's been in anything I've liked him in (Jeff pointed out Fast Times at Ridgemont High but I didn't really like that movie anyway, regardless of Penn's performance... which I didn't like either). I didn't like his gay character (which is not to say I didn't like Harvey Milk). I didn't like that it seemed like he was trying to be gay - you know, the voice thing. I wasn't aware that an effeminate, lisp riddled voice indicated sexual preference. It's a stereotype. Of course, it would help me like Penn's performance if I knew what the real Harvey Milk sounded like. Maybe he did have that cadence and if he did, kudos to Sean Penn for embodying Harvey Milk. But I doubt it. Penn's Milk seemed like a cross between his Willie Stark in All the King's Men (overly gesticulating public speaker) and his Sam Dawson in I Am Sam (oh, wait, I did like that performance). I wanted to like Sean Penn, root for him to win the Oscar, but it seemed like he took the easy way out with the stereotype. The voice really got to me, grated on my nerves.

One thing I wasn't prepared for (okay, the second thing I wasn't prepared for; the first was how sad I was going to feel through the whole flippin' movie) was the amount of sex in this movie. Maybe it's just me being immature but it really made me giggle. I couldn't watch it. Let me remind you what this movie is about: the first openly gay politician. Now reflect back to the sex thing. Yeah. There's a lot. And it made me giggle. Bad me. Just warning you.

Another warning: This takes place in the 70s. Be prepared for gigantic glasses and big frizzy afros on white people. Well, a lot of hair in general. Wow. That made me giggle, too. I don't do well with that era. It was a good thing the 70s left.

Some casting notes: It took me awhile to figure out who Diego Luna played, although that should have been obvious (Latino for Latino). He did not look like Diego at all. It struck me as funny after I saw the movie that Emile Hirsch was in another Sean Penn movie - Into the Wild. And he was Speed Racer. The guy with the big dumb glasses was Speed Racer!

This movie does have some good funny lines. I laughed more during this movie than I did at a comedy (cough, stupid Four Christmases!). The funniest moment of the movie was not actually in the movie, it was in the credits. Someone was actually billed as "gay man." Um, which one? Are you kidding me? Could you be more specific? And this movie should be ashamed of itself! Listing someone as "gay man." Did the director learn nothing? "All men are created equal. No matter how hard you try, you can never erase those words." I didn't see a credit for "straight man."

Okay, this is a good movie. I'm one of those who likes to get her history from movies and this did a good job without being overly laborious about it. I have new respect for Ronald Reagan, who helped make sure Prop 6 was passed. Good man for that. The part that infuriated me most was that Dan White only got 5 years for killing two people. Two people! Sad movie, particularly when you realize the parallels to today's world. Very interesting. Good for me movies really can be good.

Four Christmases
Starring: Vince Vaughn, Reese Witherspoon, Robert Duvall
Directed By: Seth Gordon
Run Time: 1 hr 20 mins

Four Christmases is about a couple (played by Witherspoon and Vaughn) who will do anything to avoid their families at holiday time. They make up wild stories about inoculating babies in Kampuchea so that their families will forgive their absence at Christmas. When fog cancels their flight to Tahiti and a local reporter interviews them at the airport dressed in their vacation attire, their families get wise to their predicament and insist that they spend the holiday with them. Since everyone is divorced, this means four Christmases - one with Brad's father and brothers, one with Kate's mother and sister, one with Brad's mother and boyfriend, and a final one with Kate's father.

This movie could have been called the Four Birthdays or the Four Arbor Days because the holiday itself really isn't important. This is not a Christmas movie. Please note that this is coming from the queen of Christmas movies. I love 'em all. And I watch 'em all. I love Christmas movies. Give me Whoopi Goldberg to save Christmas any day. Now that's a Christmas movie. This wasn't. This movie is about family dysfunction. Actually, it's more about the dysfunction in all of us that we choose to ignore.

I'm not a fan of showing all the funny parts of the movie in the previews, luring us in with great expectations of an actual comedy. This is one of those movies that really isn't very funny. You think it's going to be funny because the previews make you giggle, but that's the extent of it. I laughed a bit. Not much. I'm also not a fan of over-the-top humor. Vaughn's reaction to the baby spit-up is an example. It occurs not once but twice in this movie. Wasn't funny the first time. Truly wasn't funny the second time. In fact, it was sad. The poor thing is covered in puke and her boyfriend not only shows no sympathy, but somehow manages to make it all about him. But then, when something pukes on me, I don't tend to hang around for sympathy. I tend to want to get the puke off me quickly and then get sympathy. You get more if you're not stinky... and chunk covered.

Actually, a lot of this movie is sad. At first you think this couple is just made for each other. They seem so connected. And then you realize that Brad's kind of a bastard. He's self-absorbed - the puke, the jump-jump, the stage fright performance. If you've just been told that your significant other has an enormous phobia about something (in this case, the jump-jump), don't you find it alarming that your significant other is engaged in that phobia (in this case, the jump-jump)? Don't you want to go check to make sure she's okay, that it was her decision to suddenly confront her phobia (in this case, go into the jump-jump)? As a result, I didn't like the ending. Well, that dislike is two-fold. Kate didn't learn anything (perhaps Brad isn't the guy for her) and they as a couple didn't learn anything. How frustrating.

I'm all for suspending plausibility for the sake of movie enjoyment. I actually believe a bus can jump a missing section of a bridge even without a ramp. It can be done. Somewhere. But when the implausibilities scream with every moment the movie blips on the screen, I just can't suspend belief. Now before you say, "It's a comedy. How can it be implausible?" let me explain. It is. It so is. First, let's start with the fact that this couple is surprised that their flight is cancelled. They live in San Francisco, home of the fog days. When they left their apartment that morning, they had to have noticed the fog. Surely, true San Franciscans know what fog does to flight schedules. It shouldn't have surprised them. They should have been more surprised if their plane had taken off. Second, if Brad was truly so close to his mother that she raised him while his brothers were raised by his father whom he can't stand, why isn't his relationship with her closer? The stories she tells suggest that he actually likes his mother. Next, if Kate and Brad have been dating for three years, are we to believe that they haven't met any family? Three years and no family introductions (although it did seem as though Brad's father had met Kate before as he called her "Tiny," which is another implausibility right there. Brad's father met Kate before Brad's mother did? Huh). Fourth, Kate and Brad drive to each of their families for Christmas in one day. This means that their families live fairly close to Brad and Kate. I accept the fact that Kate and Brad haven't gone home in years. Why is it then that no one in their family apparently went to visit them? It's a two way street. You can't give someone grief about not having seen them in awhile if you haven't gone to see them, either. If the mountain won't come to Mohammed, Mohammed goes to the mountain. Particularly if the mountain is just a short drive away. Seems silly not to enjoy the mountain then. Finally, I didn't buy the fact that they didn't share personal things with each other. In three years, it never came up that Kate was fat in high school? She never looked at a slice of cake and said, "No, I can't eat that. I don't want to get fat again" ? And Brad never told Kate that his real name is Orlando? "Oh, I don't want to go to Orlando. That's where I was conceived and it freaks the heck out of me to go there" or "Hey, Orlando Bloom isn't such a great name. That's my real name. Well, the Orlando part." I just didn't buy it. These are the things that make us us, whether we like it or not.

I didn't like this movie. Can you tell? I didn't hate it. I just didn't like it. Perhaps truly if it were renamed to the Four Memorial Days I might have liked it better. It ain't no Christmas movie! I did laugh a little. Not as much as I had expected (people really should stop labeling their movies as comedies) but I did laugh. I did enjoy some moments - the safe word was really for Brad. Most of the moments I didn't enjoy. I didn't even care for Kristin Chenoweth, regardless of how perky and cute she was. Oh, was it just me or was Tim McGraw totally unrecognizable? Perhaps it's because he wasn't wearing a cowboy hat. Perhaps I really just don't know what he looks like (I'm not a Country fan). Perhaps he just blimped out (more like 'roided out) for this role. He just didn't look like what I think he's supposed to look like. I do love it when Jon Favreau is in a Vince Vaughn movie. I know I'm going to like those moments he's on screen (and I truly did like those moments). So... not funny, not Christmasy. Can't even say this would be good for a snow bound day. Stay away. You're better off teaching orphans in Laos to type.

Transporter 3
Starring: Jason Statham, Natalya Rudakova
Directed By: Olivier Megaton
Run Time: 1 hr 40 mins

The review for Transporter 3 is coming soon. There's a lot of action. Jason Statham looks very serious throughout the movie (doesn't even crack a smile). Some good fight scenes. Russian chick sucks big time.

It's been almost a month since I watched Transporter 3 and yet I hadn't written the review. It's been so long that I'm not sure I have too many details in my head that would be worthy of a good review. If you've seen the first Transporter, you won't like this one as much. If you've seen Transporter 2, you will like this one better. Two was a stinker; the original was a gem; three is pretty good considering... Considering it's an action movie with little plot starring B movie star Jason Statham (who is incidentally one of my favorite B movie stars, which probably explains all the B movies I watch... if they star Jason Statham, I'm there. Who cares about plot?).

I just re-watched the original Transporter this weekend. Ah, now there was good B movie. Great character development. Really. Seriously. You really get a sense of how rigid and orderly Frank Martin is. Rules. The foundation of life. And look what happens when he breaks his own rules. Utter mayhem. That great house gets destroyed. I almost cried at that scene. Great action sequences. The fight at the bus depot is just awesome. Spilling the oil so his abundant attackers can't get the better of him through shear numbers? Oh so smart. And then he goes and douses himself with the oil so they can't grab on to him. And watching them slip around in it - the part where he slides across the floor on his butt is phenomenal. And breaking off the bike pedals to get the advantage of traction was pure genius. Such a great fight scene. Fabulous car chase scenes. I mean, afterall, that movie was all about the car chases. Loved it, loved it all - the rules (ha!), the fight scenes, the car chases. All but the girl. I read somewhere that she didn't speak a lick of English when they did their table read. When she came back a couple weeks later to start filming, she could do her lines. I find that incredible. I admire people who can speak multiple languages because I surely can't. And I admire that they try. I won't knock that. But you could tell she had just learned English and parts of this movie are pretty tough to watch because your neck gets stiff as you believe your physical movements will help try to coax the next line out of her.

Strangely enough, the third movie mimics the first - female lead with thick accent who can't act very well and for whom English is just learned. Well, that's not true. I think the chick in the first movie was probably a good actress in China in her native tongue. It must be hard to act in a language that you don't know. She tried. The chick in this movie (the 3rd movie) was not an actress. It was incredibly painful to watch her. I read something that mentioned that the director saw her walking down the street and her look alone made him cast her for this part. Wow. He must love freckles. I've never seen so many freckles before on one face! Even her lips were freckle covered! So apparently acting skills are superfluous. And speaking the language you're acting in is just a bonus. If you can, okay. If not, no biggie. We'll fake it. We'll fake all of it. No one will notice. Is it coincidence that movies starring Jason statham seem to have incredibly bad actress side-kicks? Is that to make him look better?

This movie (the 3rd movie) is all about the car. There is no character development. And the character development from the previous movies is thrown out the window. Frank Martin is no longer a by the book kind ex-military guy. He talks! He actually cares to strike up a conversation with his traveling companion (the Russian chick who can't act). This is not the Frank Martin we all know and love. That Frank Martin would make it rule #4 - don't get too involved, regardless of whether or not you have a bomb attached to your arm. I would have preferred they not talk. Argh. Asking about food passes as witty banter these days? So trite. But at least they had the good sense to tie it to the ending. Yay! We get to hear trite, forced conversation again, but this time it's supposed to be familiar and fun... But someone forgot to tell the actress that.

I liked the action sequences, even though I think most of them were featured in the previews. I didn't understand the whole bribe thing - more due to the logistics of what the ship was carrying. How was it that it was contained inside the ship but not within the ship (those two idiots who broke into a container)? Those containers ain't airtight, particularly on such a deteriorating vessel. I didn't understand the opening footage. Was it supposed to be so raw looking or did they not have the time or money to finish it in post production? I get that raw, grainy footage is supposed to seem more real, but that particular scene didn't seem to require reality.

That's the extent of my memory of this movie - bad acting Russian chick, good car traveling scenes, some good action scenes, confusing plot points. I did like this movie, aside from the acting, some of the plot points, the inexplicable finishing style. It's a B movie. It's got some good action scenes. The car is nice... It's actually one of my top movies of the fall. Hmm... maybe that says more about its competition (The Haunting of Molly Hartley, anyone?) than the movie itself... It's a good movie for when you need a little adrenaline, a little pick-me-up (or if you want to feel better about your conversational skills in another language - you HAVE to be better than the Russian chick speaking English!).