12 Strong (2018)
Besides what I saw in the trailer, I was not aware of the true story that this film depicts. How was this not more widely publicized?
12 Strong is a true story about 12 Special Forces soldiers sent on a covert operation in Afghanistan, following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. They are the first boots on the ground. The group teams up with an Afghan leader, and together on horseback, they try to take down the Taliban.
The movie is based on the book “Horse Soldiers” by Doug Stanton. It is directed by Nicolai Fuglsig.
The noteworthy cast includes Chris Hemsworth, Michael Shannon, Michael Pena, Navid Negahban, Trevante Rhodes, Geoff Stults, Thad Luckinbill, Austin Stowell, Rob Riggle, William Fichter, Fahim Fazli, Numan Acar, and Taylor Sheridan.
12 Strong is the best war movie that I have seen since American Sniper (2014). It is done in a similar style as Lone Survivor (2013). It is an amazing untold story that everyone should know about. It tells the story about America’s immediate response after the 9/11 attacks.
This is easily Chris Hemsworth’s best film. His role as a soldier was quite believable.
Michael Shannon and Michael Pena also give very likable performances.
The flow to the story was very fluid. I credit the film quality to the unknown director Nicolai Fuglsig. A film with such epic proportions cannot be easy to direct. Especially one this good.
The convincing sets and realistic battle scenes make you feel like you are watching on the battlefield. It is a war movie, so there is a lot of quality brutal violence. The special effects are good, but not overdone.
The story itself, was what was most surprising to me. The U.S. sends twelve men into Afghanistan to respond to the 19 terrorists that took out the World Trade Center. The covert operation sees those twelve men joining forces with Afghan soldiers on horseback to try to systematically takedown the Taliban. Horses against tanks, rockets, and other heavy artillery. Who would’ve thought?
That is fascinating to me. It’s the 21st century. The greatest country in the world is attacked with their own planes. And, their response is on horses in the desert. Reading that out loud sounds pretty harsh. But, that is why this is such an interesting and incredible story. This is not me talking down about the story it all. That is me praising it. If you have not seen it and it sounds interesting to you, go see it now!
I rate this movie a on a 9 on a scale of 1-10.
If you liked this film then you might also enjoy:
American Sniper (2014)
Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Letters from Iwo Jima (2006)
The Pianist (2002)
We Were Soldiers (2002)
American Hustle (2013)
Back in August of 2013, when I first heard about American Hustle, this was my viewpoint on it:
David O. Russell has taken 3 stars from his film Silver Linings Playbook (2012) and 2 stars from his film The Fighter (2010), and brought all 5 of them together to make a movie. If The Fighter and Silver Linings Playbook had a baby, it would be named American Hustle.
Not only is this film a guaranteed Oscar contender, but it will likely be amazing.
I have been excited about seeing American Hustle ever since.
What do you get when you cross two conniving con artists, a crazy FBI agent, corrupt politicians and the mob? The answer, American Hustle. Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) and his girlfriend Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams) have developed an excellent partnership of swindling desperate people out of their money. Everything is going great until one day, a power hungry FBI agent (Bradley Cooper) catches the couple in his web. In order to keep from going to prison, Irving and Sydney are forced to work with the FBI to try to help bring down other criminals. One thing leads to another and they find themselves butting heads with the mafia. The beauty of it all is that you can’t tell who is conning who.
The rest of the noteworthy cast includes Jeremy Renner, Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Pena, Alessandro Nivola, Louis C.K., Jack Huston, Robert De Niro, and Paul Herman.
I have to say that I loved the trailer for this movie. It tells you what the movie is about without telling you much about the movie at all. They leave a lot to the imagination. It was refreshing. You get excited to see the movie because of the cast of characters and how they are acting, but you are dying to know what the movie is really about. In this day and age, this is a risky concept because there are multiple movies out there that appear like they are about nothing because their trailer does not tell you much, and when you go to watch them they are pointless. Their secrecy sucks you in, but in reality they weren’t keeping a secret. They just really suck and you just wasted your time. American Hustle is not like that, at all. There is far more to this film than the trailer leads you to believe.
I did not expect there to be as much humor as there was. The movie was laugh-out-loud hilarious. It was very smart, well thought out dark humor.
The film oozed with elegance. Everything about the movie seemed classy. It was clean and crisp. The colors were so clear and bright. From a filmmaking aspect alone, the movie was perfection. Picture that, but then throw in some of the best actors in the business into a flawlessly put together movie.
So, now you have a diamond of a movie with a cast that is worth its weight in gold. What do you get now? Fireworks. American Hustle recreates the 70s believably and the soundtrack is there to prove it. The actors play the game like the all-stars that they are. The chemistry was electrifying between everybody. The actors kept one-upping each other.
Chistian Bale, with a porky belly and the cheapest comb over imaginable stood out among the rest. His performance was not surprising, but it was every bit as good as anything he has ever done before. His performance was not surprising because he has been acting at such a high level for such a long time, that it’s hard to expect anything less out of him. His acting was power and precision. For a long time now, Johnny Depp has been my favorite actor and Bale has been my second favorite. I think Bale just surpassed Depp. Dare I say, lately he is more consistently in better movies. Bale is capable of almost any role and he proves it time and time again. I have not seen all of the movies that are up for Academy Awards, but as of right now, Bale gets my vote for Best Actor, and he should be competing against himself for Out of the Furnace (2013)(that movie was snubbed), as well.
Speaking of Academy Awards, Amy Adams. She was absolutely wonderful in American Hustle. She was stylish and sophisticated. Instead of being dressed down, like she was in The Fighter, her beauty was really able to shine through to her core. She played a woman who was always in control and it was the best performance by an actress that I have seen since perhaps, Hilary Swank in the film Million Dollar Baby (2004). It certainly was Amy’s best film that I have seen to date. It was even better than her performance in The Fighter.
Bradley Cooper had more curlers in his hair than Amy Adams. He pulled it off though and it was funny. He brought a level of insanity to his role in American Hustle that showed similarities to Silver Linings Playbook. He was allowed his moments to shine, but you could tell he was along for the ride in the back seat behind Bale. Amy Adams was riding shotgun and Jennifer Lawrence was in the back seat behind her, sitting next to Cooper.
Jennifer Lawrence seemed to pick up right where she left off in Silver Linings Playbook. She was the broken housewife with an attitude and an appetite for wreaking havoc and turmoil. I thought she played the part about as well as she did in Silver Linings Playbook.
David O. Russell has come a long way since Flirting With Disaster (1996) and I Heart Huckabees (2004). He took a page right out of Martin Scorsese’s book by having multiple narrators in American Hustle. The movie actually was very Scorsese-esque. Russell’s last three films have all been Oscar contenders and American Hustle is as deserving of an Oscar as either of the other two. My only concern is that this movie gets screwed out of the Academy Awards that it rightfully deserves for the sake of diversity.
This film was like the acting all-star game of 2013.
I rate this movie a 10 on a scale of 1-10.
Buy, rent, or run? Buy.
Note: I usually do not rate a movie a 10 after the first showing, but I could not find anything wrong with this movie. I thought that it might drag on a little bit because of the 138 minutes running time, but it didn’t. It was just an exercise in excellence. I am often reluctant to give a movie a 10 rating right away because I think that it should prove the test of time. I think this one already did.
If you liked American Hustle, then you will most likely enjoy the following films:
American Hustle (2013) (Click on the title for my full review.)
David O. Russell has taken 3 stars from his film Silver Linings Playbook (2012) and 2 stars from his film The Fighter (2010), and brought all 5 of them together to make American Hustle (2013). If The Fighter and Silver Linings Playbook had a baby, it would be named American Hustle.
Not only is this film a guaranteed Oscar contender, but it will most likely be amazing.
This film is a definite must-see.
It is set to release this Christmas, 12/25/13.
End of Watch (2012)
End of Watch (2012) is the ultimate buddy-cop drama done in the style of Training Day (2001), Harsh Times (2005), and Street Kings (2008). All of those films share the same type of gritty, blunt, in-your-face intensity and show just how unpleasant rundown areas of Los Angeles can be. Those movies share similarities in style because they were all written and or directed by David Ayer.
In End of Watch Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena are young, up-and-coming brothers in blue patrolling the hellish streets of Los Angeles, California. They are pitted together against pure evil. They take a bite out of crime and crime bites back
A lot of the movie is filmed with smaller handheld cameras which I think helps to make the film seem a little bit more realistic. If the person is shaky then the camera is shaky.
The film takes many of the horrible things that we pretend don’t happen and throws them in our faces so that we cannot deny their existence any longer. It takes dark subject matter and forces you to have an opinion about it. When your eyes are opened to the world that exists in the movie, you begin to wonder if there is some truth to that world in the real world. Does that sort of thing actually happen in real life? Are people really like that? The answers to those questions are what make the movie so chilling.
Gyllenhaal and Pena are both tremendous in the movie. Their characters play off of each other so well that it really makes the film enjoyable to watch.
The language and violence in the film is very potent. Much of the movie is exceptionally rough and harsh. There is some humor thrown in to weaken the blow, but End of Watch is a powerful movie to watch. This type of show is not for everyone.
I rate this movie an 8.5 on a scale of 1-10.
Buy, rent, or run? Buy.