Monday, September 30, 2013

Scary Flick Time!

Well folks, it's that time of year again. It's time for my fourth annual 31 Days of Horror!!! Sure, it's a bit of a cliche to spend the entire month of October with ghosts, goblins, and all other creatures of the damned, but that's precisely what I'm going to do. As usual, we'll kick things off on the 1st and roll right through Halloween day. We'll start with a classic, and get into a few more. There will also be plenty movies of recent vintage. We'll definitely sneak in a horror based comedy or two (or three). And I'll try to fit a list in there somewhere. Oh, almost forgot, this year, for the first time we're even going to touch on a it relates to cinema, of course. I'll get things cranking tomorrow. Today, I have to double check my house's history to make sure it's not built on top of an ancient burial ground. Been hearing some strange noises lately. Get...out. Wait...what...did you hear...never mind. Leatherface willing, I'll catch you at the flip of the calendar.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Jack Reacher

Directed by Christopher McQuarrie.
2012. Rated PG-13, 130 minutes.
Werner Herzog
Alexia Fast
Josh Helman
Dylan Kussman
Joseph Sikora

Our movie begins with a seemingly random shooting spree. From a parking deck across the street, sniper James Barr (Sikora) picks off five people, gets back into his van and speeds away. Through some crack police work, Det. Emerson (Oyelowo) figures out who the bad guy is, takes the SWAT team over to the guy’s house and arrests him. While awaiting trial in prison, some fellow inmates lay a beat-down on Barr. Before falling into a coma, he requests that Emerson, and District Attorney Rodin (Jenkins) get Jack Reacher (Cruise). They have no idea how to get a hold of Mr. Reacher since he’s been missing for the last few years. Luckily for them, Reacher catches wind of the shooting on the news and just strolls into the police station on his own. In a strange move for both parties considering Reacher’s feelings on the matter, he winds up working for Helen (Pike), Barr’s defense attorney, who also happens to be the daughter of the DA. Reacher investigating the crime ensues.

If you’re a Tom Cruise hater, there is no reason for you to watch this movie or read beyond this point. You've already decided not to see this movie. And yes, he more or less plays Tom Cruise. This character feels no different than Ethan Hawke from the Mission: Impossible flicks, or from his character in Knight and Day, or any number of films where he’s tasked with saving the day. On the other hand, if the mere mention of his name does not make you physically ill, then stick it out. By this point, he seems to have become a one trick pony. Thankfully, it is not a terrible trick.

Fortunately, our supporting cast is solid. Pike does fine work as Barr’s lawyer. She’s delightfully defiant in her willingness to defend an apparently guilty man. The drawback is that her chemistry with Cruise is a bit off. This is, at least partly, due to the script. It can’t figure out if it wants there to be sexual tension between them or not. Things initially head down that path, but the trip is abandoned. Richard Jenkins is great, as always, albeit in brief bursts of screen time. During the movie’s latter parts it is completely stolen by Robert Duvall and, surprisingly, famed director Werner Herzog. The two find themselves on opposing sides, but neither is any less enjoyable than the other. We just enjoy them differently. Duvall brings us comic relief while Herzog creeps us out.

Since we follow him around much of the time, we must get back to our hero. Reacher goes all over town chasing down leads and, as expected, this gets him into the occasional scrape. We focus more on the following of the clues than the violence. The movie is successful with this as what’s going on becomes increasingly interesting. There are just enough twists within the narrative to keep us paying attention to what’s between action scenes. This is very important because there really is not that much action. That fact, plus our expectations, for those of us who have seen the trailer, help create an identity crisis for our feature. It never seems sure if it’s a procedural or an action flick. As the former, things tend to come a little too easily for our hero. As the latter, as I've mentioned, there’s not quite enough of it. Of course, our finale is one where bullets and fists fly. While that’s not terribly original, it is entertaining. For some, however, it may be too little too late.

Overall, Jack Reacher is a fun movie. It’s a popcorn flick with ever-so-slightly more on its mind than the usual. We get an intriguing tale with some enjoyable performances. It’s not a bad way to pass two hours. That said, you must understand that if you’re looking for a non-stop action shoot ‘em up, this is not it.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Best Movies of 2012

Yesterday, I gave you my list of 2012's worst movies. Since you're probably thoroughly depressed at the prospect of watching those movies, I'll go ahead and show you the opposite side of the cinematic coin. Again, I'll note that this list doesn't strictly follow the scores I initially gave them. As I said yesterday, the way I feel about some movies evolves over time. With that said, feel free to click on the titles to see those original reviews. My idea on the score may have changed, but the things I like and dislike about each pretty much remain the same, if that makes sense. And of course, feel free to give your thoughts on the matter. In the (not so) immortal words of Drake...what is this world coming to when I'm quoting Drake...we started from the bottom, now we're here...

2012's 12 Best Movies

This is pretty standard chick-flick stuff, but in David O. Russell’s capable hands it is far better than most of its ilk.

11. Looper
Even though it is science-fiction, Looper is not about showing off whatever futuristic gadgets the filmmakers can dream up or giving us a laser and lights show. It’s a rather human tale that happens to contain time-travel.

It works on multiple levels. Its layers don’t merely cover, but enhance one another. This works so well that despite all the wicked cutlery and pointed or jagged fangs on display, the movie’s wit is sharpest of them all.

It grabs hold of us as it explains the hows of the whats we already know. We’re intrigued by the process. When we get to the last scene, we do as Maya does. We exhale.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is an enthralling movie. It draws us into this young man’s life and lets us love it or loathe it as he does.

Only a few days prior, I watched 50/50 so I was somewhat ready for a heavy drama about sex and illness. What I was totally unprepared for was just how funny this movie is.


Okay, I'm taking a short break here because I wanted to recognize some movies that are not on this list, but were pleasant surprises. Frankly, I wasn't expecting anything from them and still got an enjoyable viewing experience.

21 Jump Street
Killer Joe
Magic Mike
Safety Not Guaranteed

Now, on with the show...

For you action junkies, this is the stuff of your wet dreams. On the other hand, if you’re looking for things like depth, character development, witty dialogue, etc., they are not found nor welcomed here. And it’s still a great movie, just not for the squeamish.

When The Master ends we may be hit by a wave of confusion as we wonder what we just watched. In this case, that’s a good thing. We have much to talk about.

Skyfall is a return to greatness. It continuously questions its own place in today’s world. It questions the way its hero and, by extension, the movie itself goes about its business.

We’re often drawn to the edge of our seat. Then, at the end, our brain gets challenged a bit. Is what we've seen the truth or just a colorful metaphor? Does it really matter which? What proof does it offer of God’s existence? We can have fun with all of those questions after we've had fun watching Pi navigate difficult waters.

By the end, we’ve been through more than enough ups and downs with this family to become fully vested in them. When life throws yet another thing at them, we duck. We root for them and share in their triumphs and heartbreaks.

Django is more interested in getting the attitudes of the times right than the facts and even indulging the most violent fantasies of history’s victims. Sure, this requires some revisionist (or purely imagined) history but a Quentin Tarantino movie is not a fact-finding mission.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Worst Movies of 2012

I have a rule that I very rarely break. Once I start a movie, I'm going to finish it. No matter how bad it gets, or how late it is, even if I should fall asleep on it. Many times, I just couldn't keep my eyes open to watch a movie all the way through only to turn around and watch it in its entirety a day or two later. Even the bad ones.

Why subject myself to finishing a movie I already think is bad? It's simple, really. One of my core beliefs is what I call the law of opposites. We only understand something because we also understand it's opposite. We know what up is because we also know what down is. In movie terms, I can appreciate good movies more, because I know, or think I know, what bad movies are and vice-versa. I keep watching because there are always new levels of badness just as there are goodness. The cycle never ends.

Of course, we movie buffs like to cut those cycles into 365 day sections and grade each accordingly. I'll stick to that program. I'm just 200 and some odd days late getting the report cards out. When viewing this report card, note that the list does not strictly follow the way I scored these movies in my original reviews of them, which you can see by clicking on the titles (except for a couple of horror movies which I've yet to post reviews for). The way I feel about some movies evolves over time, some for the better, some for the worst. At the end, feel free to let me know if I've missed some horrible flick, or tell me how good some movie is that I've deemed terrible, or just share your own list. In my very humble opinion, these are...

The 12 Worst Movies of 2012

Spirit of Vengeance delivers precisely what its predecessor did: a fancy looking mess.

I’ll give some credit to the powers that be for wringing every last cent they possibly could out of this franchise…I mean not taking the easy way out and going an extra step. Disastrous it may be, but it’s a step.

Even the kids in the target audience are likely to have a “been there, done that” reaction to it all.

Underworld: Awakening simply tries to hide its lazy writing with a succession of not-always-so-nicely-rendered battle scenes. That, my friends, should be punishable by two shots to the chest and one to the head with ultra-violet or silver nitrate rounds, depending on which side of the monster ledger you think we’re dealing with.

I’m not sure anyone who has played the game could come up with enough of a storyline to justify a movie being made for it. Sadly, neither could the people actually involved in making it.

To their credit, the performers try valiantly to breathe life into this thing. As we all know, reanimating a corpse is impossible.

Tyler Perry is back in drag, yet again.

What to Expect is a classic case of a talented ensemble given nothing to work with and going through the motions.

Believe it, or not, so much suckiness is thankfully crammed into an hour and a half. However, since I started checking my watch about fifteen minutes in, it feels much much longer. I didn't think the hands of time could move so slowly.

3. Piranha 3DD
Its predecessor was trash of an endlessly and enjoyably repugnant variety. It was like gorging yourself on a gigantic bag of your favorite mini candy bars. The sequel is more like eating directly out of a dumpster.

2. The Innkeepers
Our director, Ti West, also helmed the equally bad and equally overrated House of the Devil. If you see this man anywhere near a movie set, please have the nearest person call 911 then physically restrain him until the cops arrive.

Nothing unexpected happens and almost none of it is funny when it does.

Before I let you go, I have a little more business to get to about '12's rotten flicks.

First up is a special shout out to this man...

Liam Neeson
Aside from Battleship, which clocked in as my eighth worst movie of last year, Mr. Neeson also had prominent roles in three other horrible productions in 2012: The Grey, Taken 2 and Wrath of the Titans. Since he probably made lots of money doing it, I'm not mad at him.

Next, I have to spotlight a couple of movies I thought were bad, but I'm completely in love with. In other words, these two movies were...

2012's Movies So Bad They're Awesome!

Without question, this is a “turn your brain off” experience starring a group of guys who made a pretty good living making stuff go boom.


A sharply written plot and Oscar-worthy performances are not found here. To be honest, don’t even expect it all to make sense within its own context. However, the blood splattering action makes it a package just too cheesy to resist.

Now I'm done.

Friday, September 20, 2013

The Dellies - 2012 Best Director

And now we've reached the last award. Sort of. As I've said before, I will do a best and worst movie list, both this weekend. For now, we'll tackle the people who have painstakingly brought their vision to life in the form of these pictures. Click on the titles of my nominees to read my full reviews.

2012 - Best Director

The Real Nominees: Michael Haneke (Amour), Ang Lee (Life of Pi), David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook), Steven Spielberg (Lincoln), Benh Zeitlin (Beasts of the Southern Wild)

My Nominees:

Ben Affleck, Argo
It’s a masterwork crafted by Affleck, the director. For me, each of his three efforts from the special chair has been brilliant. He may have made his name as an actor and dater of starlets, but it seems his true calling is behind the camera.

Paul Thomas Anderson, The Master
Paul Thomas Anderson directs his movie in a manner that makes it difficult to look away from. The shots are beautiful and Hoffman and Phoenix command the screen. Many of their scenes together are scintillating. The director brings this out with excellent story-telling skills.

Ang Lee, Life of Pi
Including this one, I've only seen five of the twelve full-length features directed by Ang Lee. Until now, I’ve only liked one, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. If you shared my point of view, you’d understand why I wasn't really buying into the hype surrounding Life of Pi. However, I’ll admit that Mr. Lee has crafted a winner with this one.

Quentin Tarantino, Django Unchained
Nothing is so effective in the movie than at several points when we merely think something heinous is about to happen. This is when we’re intrinsically drawn to the edge of our seat while simultaneously trying to sink backwards into the thing. It is at these moments when Django is at its best.

Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild
By the end, we've been through more than enough ups and downs with this family to become fully vested in them. When life throws yet another thing at them, we duck. Beasts of the Southern Wild is just a wonderfully done film.

Honorable Mention:
Kathryn Bigelow, Zero Dark Thirty
Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Ben Lewin, The Sessions
Sam Mendes, Skyfall
Steven Spielberg, Lincoln
David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook

The Real Winner: Ang Lee, Life of Pi

And My Winner Is...

Quentin Tarantino, Django Unchained
Taking another cue from the Blaxploitation era, director Quentin Tarantino wraps this tale about the barbaric ways of slavery in spaghetti western garb. To drive it forward, we get a screenplay chock full of sharp, often funny, often stinging dialogue. Django Unchained continues the director’s tradition of creating great tension through words. This one has more action between conversations than his normal fare, but the relationship between the two dynamics remains the same. Dialogue, complete with dramatic pauses, creates tension, action releases it.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Directed by John Madden.
2012. Rated PG-13, 124 minutes.
Penelope Wilton
Maggie Smith
Celia Imrie
Ronald Pickup
Tena Desae
Sid Makkar
Lillete Dubey
Diana Hardcastle
Seema Azmi
Paul Bhattacharjee

In rapid succession we meet various Brits all in their golden years, who don’t know each other, all going through a crisis of some sort. Evelyn (Dench) is a widow struggling to cope with the loss of her husband and will need a place to live now that she has to sell the flat they shared. Graham (Wilkinson) is seriously considering retirement and dreading the possibility. Madge (Imrie) is looking for her next husband. Norman (Pickup) is not looking for a wife, but is a horny old dude who keeps striking out. Mrs. Donelly (Smith), a blatant racist, needs a hip replacement. Who knows how long it will be before she gets to the top of that list. Mr. and Mrs. Ainslie (Nighy and Wilton, respectively) are having trouble finding suitable living arrangements after losing much of their life savings. Invariably, all of these people come across an offer to live out the rest of their days at the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for the Elderly and Beautiful. Their trips will be paid for by the hotel itself. All of them decide to take this place up on its offer. By the way, the hotel is in India. Of course, when they get there and meet the energetic, fast-talking, and youthful owner Sonny (Patel), they quickly realize things aren’t quite what they were led to believe. Unable to afford return flights back to England, they try to make the best of things.

We weave in and out of these people’s lives as they have made them in their new home. They deal with culture shock, try to get used to the food and each other, and some long for home. We also watch Sonny try to keep the failing hotel afloat, speak passionately to his girlfriend Sunaina (Desae), and argue with his mother (Dubey) about both his girl and the hotel. Through each of the numerous subplots, the surface is made up of light-hearted humor, but powered by an undercurrent of sadness. These are not happy people, but people in search of what will make them so. As expected, they must also contend with the effect their living situation has on them, not only individually, but also as a group. It’s not completely different than a septogeneric version of “Big Brother.” Though they don’t vocalize this, and no one is voted out of the hotel, we clearly see alliances form.

To the movie’s credit, the veil of comedy holds up nicely. It manages to keep us chuckling most of the way through. The cast, and the script they are working with, is so terrific in this area that it accomplishes this without resorting to making buffoons of its characters. The exception here is Sonny. He is a bit of a nut, but he has purpose. Patel gives off a fun, used car salesman vibe, but one that is somehow earnest even though he’s never sure if he can deliver on whatever has flown out of his mouth. The rest of the cast is brilliant. Credit starts at the top with the always excellent Judi Dench and the equally great Tom Wilkinson. By the way, Wilkinson’s story line is the only one without a hint of comedy. Everything surrounding him is draped in sorrow. However, he’s such a marvelous actor, and his character is written so well, it never feels out of place. Also great is Maggie Smith as Mrs. Donnelly. She does so much acting with facial expressions and makes us laugh with each one.

One of the film’s shortcomings is that it has a little bit too much going on. As proof I offer Madge and Norman. They have separate but intertwining plots forming their own little clique. Unfortunately, they both get a bit lost in the shuffle. While we’re watching the lives of the others turn upside down they disappear from the movie for a really long stretch, almost long enough to make us forget who they are. They eventually get re-introduced, but it feels like their fates are afterthoughts in comparison to the rest of the bunch. This is particularly true of Madge. Nearly everything about her feels tacked on.

The other drawback is the easy ending. Everything is wrapped up in neat little bows just in time for the credits. No one we like is left unhappy while those we don’t merely clear the path for the “good guys.” For a movie that shows it can effectively deal in grays, it’s a bit disappointing for it to separate itself into clearly delineated sections of black and white. Then again, this is a comedy so I cannot rightfully expect some hard hitting and/or ambiguous finale. It just would have been nice for it to test us just a bit. Therefore, instead of being something that truly resonates, it becomes a cute and harmless picture.

Both of my complaints with The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel are minor. They’re things an already good movie could have done better. As it stands, it’s an enjoyable experience. Our ensemble is an absolute delight and enables us to see all of the heart in the material. In return, we’re glad to share ours with them.

MY SCORE: 7.5/10

Wednesday, September 18, 2013


Directed by Taylor Hackford.
2013. Rated R, 118 minutes.
Michael Chiklis
Emma Booth
Wendell Pierce
Patti LuPone
Carlos Carrasco

Parker (Statham) is a professional thief who run big-time burglaries. With the help of a crew run by Melander (Chiklis), a group he’s never worked with before, he successfully robs the Ohio State Fair of about one million dollars. Instead of splitting the money as previously agreed to, Melander suggests they put all the money toward a bigger score that will net them a few million bucks each. Parker balks at the notion and winds up in a roadside ditch with several bullet holes in him. Thanks to some good Samaritans who happen to be driving by, he makes it to the hospital. Of course, as soon as he opens his eyes he escapes and goes looking for Melander and the rest of his cronies. A broke and lonely real estate agent played by Jennifer Lopez figures into things later.

While watching that setup, I am immediately reminded of the Mel Gibson flick Payback. Gibson’s character there, and Parker in this movie, are essentially the same guy. Indeed, the two movies play out in much the same manner as far as major plot points go. The biggest difference between them is in tone. Payback strikes a darkly comic one, quite brilliantly in my humble opinion, while Parker plays it as a straight up action flick with the usual small doses of humor, here and there. This is where the movie’s biggest problems are. No, it’s not a terrible picture. It’s just that with little or nothing to truly call its own, the conventionality of its frame is laid bare. Surprises are minimal.

It doesn't help that our hero is a pretty flat character. We get that he’s been wronged and he’s incredibly focused on getting his just due. Unfortunately, that’s it. We understand that he loves his girlfriend Claire (Booth) and her father Hurley (Nolte). However, the depth of that love is summed up in the fact that whenever he does something to piss off another bad guy, he calls them on the phone to tell them someone’s going to be coming for them. Gee, thanks.

On the other hand, J-Lo’s Leslie is much more fleshed out with a good deal less screen time. The movie pushes the sympathy envelope hard with her, and simultaneously uses her for comic relief. However, it’s an up and down role that Lopez struggles with. Unlike many, I actually think she’s a fine actress. It seems to be at least as much an issue of presentation and writing as it is of her. How we’re supposed to take her changes from scene to scene and the jokes she’s given aren't funny. Besides, as good as I think she is, comedy has never been her strong suit.

All is not lost. Remember, this is an action flick. It’s a Jason Statham action flick, at that. Most people will watch to see our hero beat the crap out of and/or kill lots of bad guys. That’s precisely what he does. True to form, it’s brutal, bloody, and exciting stuff. His first fight, inside a moving SUV, and one he has later in a hotel room take top honors. Both are just plain fun to watch, no matter how preposterous they may be. Speaking of preposterous, even though the idea that Park is affected by all the damage done to his body is a fraud, I’ll at least give the film credit for trying in that department. The point is, if you’re looking for a testosterone fueled popcorn flick you could do a lot worse than Parker.

MY SCORE: 6.5/10

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Dellies - 2012 Best Animated Feature

Today we dive into what is probably the most fun category. Every year tons of kiddie fare hits the theater. Truthfully, much of it is annoying and overly simple. That said, when one of these movies gets it right it can be a truly wonderful viewing experience. The movies below got it right. Click on the titles of my nominees and honorable mentions to read my full reviews.

2012 - Best Animated Feature

The Real Nominees: Brave (Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman), Frankenweenie (Tim Burton), ParaNorman (Sam Fell and Chris Butler), The Pirates! Band of Misfits (Peter Lord), Wreck-It Ralph (Rich Moore)

My Nominees

Directed by Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman
Brave is a beautiful looking film. Beginning with our heroine’s expertly rendered hair, it’s a wonderful mix of photo-realistic scenery and cartoonish people. Nearly every frame has a touch or two that are a treat to lay eyes on.

Directed by Sam Fell and Chris Butler
The characters on the screen are plenty scared, but their plight is handled with a good deal of levity. And the jokes actually work.

Directed by Peter Lord
Verbally, Pirates prefers subtly inserted punchlines to the obvious or crass. All of this comes together in a solid package.

Directed by Peter Ramsey
It’s possible to see the entire plot as a test of faith and what happens if we don’t have it. No, this doesn't get preachy and it’s not an advertisement for any religion. However, the theme is present. More than any of this, it’s just plain fun to watch.

Directed by Rich Moore
There’s more to this movie than being pretty and loud. It eventually becomes a redemption tale. That much is expected. What’s not is the complexity of the redeeming and how many actually go through it.

Honorable Mention:
Ice Age: Continental Drift
Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted

The Real Winner: Brave (Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman)

And My Winner Is...

Rise of the Guardians
Directed by Peter Ramsey
On the surface, things boil down to that good guys/bad guy stuff. That aspect alone is fun, but there’s more to it than that. It plays on our childhood hopes and fears to create both excitement and dread.

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Devil's Double

Directed by Lee Tamahori.
2011. Rated R, 108 minutes.
Ludivine Sagnier
Philip Quast
Mimoun Oaïssa
Raad Rawi
Nasser Memarzia
Tiziana Azzopardi

We follow the exploits of Latif (Cooper), a young Iraqi soldier hired to become the body double of Uday Hussein, son of none other than Saddam Hussein. Okay, hired isn't the right word. Forced is more precise, as in made to under the threat of harm coming to him and his loved ones. Quickly, we find out what was apparently Iraq’s worst kept secret. Uday is a complete psychopath. Life with him is a never ending stream of sex, drugs, rape, and murder. None of this sits too well with the straight-laced Latif. How can our hero possibly escape the hell he’s found himself in? Complicating matters, there’s a girl. There is always a girl. Based on the life story of the real Latif Yahia.

I meant what I said about the never ending stream of sex, drugs, rape, and murder. The movie wastes no time settling into a pattern of showing Uday snort coke, drink, make a lot of noise, commit a violent and often sexual act, then repeating the cycle. The difference between one set and the next is that whatever heinous act he engages in is an attempt to top the last one. While all this is going on, Latif looks on disapprovingly. Actually, he completes the cycle of events by voicing his disdain and/or refusing to do something Uday has ordered him to, at which point we get a battle of wills between the two. This pattern continues throughout the first two acts. It’s interesting simply for the sheer nuttiness of it all, but is isn't particularly thought provoking. We know what each guy is going to do every step of the way. Everything in this world is distinctly black or white. Nothing either man does even slightly veers from the path they started on before the opening credits were finished.

For the third act, we switch gears into The Bourne Identity territory. Of course, our couple on the run is being pursued by a government nut-job instead of shady bureaucrats. This is when the movie starts to rapidly fall apart. Set up and timing go out the window. Our hero, with girl in tow, show up some place and the phone immediately rings with Uday on the other end. The explanation doesn't jive, given our knowledge of the timeline, and leaves us a bit perturbed because we suspected as much but it feels like an impossibility. When we get to the finale, the bottom totally falls out. The movie lets us know that it is exactly what it has been threatening to be. It is a film entirely about Uday Hussein’s penis. Never you mind that the premise is bursting with possibilities. A picture inspired by the true story of the body double of the volatile son of a ruthless dictator during the days leading up to The Gulf War can do no better than showcase the villainy of the pecker. Sigh.

As shallow as it turns out to be, The Devil’s Double is hard to take your eyes off. The insanity is constant and the performances of Dominic Cooper are a sight to behold. As Uday, he chews scenery with reckless abandon. As Latif, he mostly just scowls, but it’s effective. Unfortunately, neither he nor his antics can carry the rest of the movie’s flimsiness. They struggle under the pressure of being its savior. As a result, Cooper’s histrionics as Uday grow tiresome as they become increasingly cartoon-like. This, in turn, crystallizes the main problem. Two men who share a potentially amazing story are reduced to uninteresting archetypes.

MY SCORE: 4/10