Tag Archives: Luke Bracey

Isn’t It Bromantic?

Point Break

by Hope Madden

Just like a shiny new toy waiting to be unwrapped, Point Break is available for your viewing pleasure this Christmas Day.

Kathryn Bigelow’s 1992 MTV Award winning surfing/bank robbing/pathway to enlightenment classic wears some new trunks courtesy of director Ericson Core (Invincible).

Johnny Utah (yes, that’s still his name) was a YouTube phenom thanks to some extreme mountain biking and whatnot, but tragedy and guilt motivated him to change his life. One man-bun later, he’s a fledgling FBI agent with a nose for extreme sportsman heists.

Dude, I totally think those bank robbers are trying to perform the Ozaki 8.

That’s right, they’re not common criminals. They are extreme eco-warriors and poly-athletes.
Well now they’re just making words up.

Luke Bracey seems at times to channel Keanu Reeves, his predecessor in the rich and meaty role of Utah. Indeed, he boasts the sun kissed locks of a young Patrick Swayze as well as the utterly wooden acting presence of Reeves – quite a combination.

In the role of Jedi Master Bodhi is Edgar Ramirez, an actor who, in fact, has talent. You won’t see evidence of it here, though, as he struggles through dialog, such as, “All you see is lines. All we see is truth.”

Heavy.

Replacing the spunky Lori Petty in the role of Utah’s love interest is Teresa Palmer as Samsara. Look how adorably enlightened she is! She climbed a rock pile – yay!

But you don’t come to Point Break (either version) for the acting. If you can make it past the insufferable masculine posturing, the film looks great. Yes, the first two set pieces rip off the Mission Impossible franchise, with a little Fight Club robbery thrown in later, but who has time for originality?

The scenery is stunning, the stunts genuinely impressive, and Core is wise enough to limit dialog and plot to a minimum, allowing plenty of time for filling the screen with sky, valley, waterfall, and mountain top – you know, everything a real man conquers. For enlightenment.

Verdict-2-0-Stars

 

Hopeless Romantic

 

The Best of Me

by George Wolf

 

And lo, the decree came down from the mountain of recycled melodrama:  more Sparks at the multiplex!

There will be an idyllic Southern setting surrounded by water and plenty of pretty white faces. There will be a love story, a couple brought together by destiny but pulled apart by a cruel world. Tragedy. Flashback. Kissing in the rain. Reunion. Then, a final plot twist so over the top and ridiculous it would get laughed out of most creative writing classes.

It’s the Nicholas Sparks formula, and he’s doing all the laughing, every time a truckload of cash backs up to his front door.

His latest novel to hit the big screen is The Best of Me, and it keeps the formula intact with nauseating precision.

Teenagers Amanda (Liana Liberato, spunky) and Dawson (Luke Bracey, bland) promised forever back in the 90s, but couldn’t make it past high school. Twenty years later, they’re brought back to their Louisiana hometown by the death of an old friend.

As the older Amanda and Dawson (Michelle Monaghan and James Marsden) struggle to put the past behind them, frequent flashbacks clue us in to the tragic circumstances that forced them apart.

It’s so much soap opera fodder, with cheap manipulation standing in for actual storytelling.

A look at the writing team responsible for the script reveals Will Fetters, who has not only penned one other awful Sparks adaptation (The Lucky One), but another film that’s even more shamelessly heavy-handed (Remember Me). Hey, they needed a writer who could provide that Nicholas Sparks feeling and apparently, this guy has it in spades.

Director Michael Hoffman (The Last Station/Soapdish) makes sure everything looks dreamily perfect and really, that’s all he was hired to do. There’s a good reason this isn’t a Coen brothers project, after all.  The goal is style over substance, and to make a Sparks movie, not a good movie.

Well done, then.

 

Verdict-1-5-Stars

 

 

Late August Man

The November Man

by Hope Madden

Somehow, it’s easy to lower your expectations in August, and a film that would seem stale and dated in, say, May or even November, can feel almost like a relief. The November Man is one of those movies.

Its lack of digital wizardry – relying, as it does, on old fashioned practical effects – feels like a welcome respite from the summer’s FX bombast. And though this agent-thinks-he’s-out-but-gets-pulled-back-in tale brings very little new to the table, at least it isn’t If I Stay. Or Sin City 2. Or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Oh, August.

At first blush, the film appears to be a James Bond rip off, right down to the lead and his lady (Pierce Brosnan and Quantum of Solace Bond Girl Olga Kurylenko). But this film casts off any interest in smooth, sly espionage, gadgetry, one-liners and one night stands in favor of something a little more brutish.

Brosnan’s ex CIA op retires not long after an incident with a trainee he deems unfit for service. But when a colleague needs a favor and pulls him back in for one last gig…well, when does that ever go as planned? Next thing you know, he’s trying to figure out what went wrong with his op while he plays cat and mouse with that old trainee, now a trained CIA sniper with bigger ambitions.

Brosnan’s grizzled charm buoys the effort, even when he’s pursing his lips like a school marm at his former trainee (a mostly serviceable Luke Bracey). The film falters most in its dual purposes: mentor/mentee cat and mouse versus international conspiracy leading to a puppet Russian president with a pension for under aged war refugees.

The truth is, neither side is especially compelling on its own, and when the two blur together, things feel just silly.

Still, The November Man isn’t bad. It’s no Skyfall – the new high water mark for spy movies – but it’s no Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, either. Remember that one? From January of this year? Yeah, January is another one of those bad movie months. At least in August the bad movies don’t come with snow.

 

Verdict-2-5-Stars