Tag Archives: heist

Wrath of Man

9 May

‘Wrath of Man’: Ritchie and Statham reunited, heist with their own petard and angry about it

By Tom MeekFriday, May 7, 2021

Guy Ritchie launched a lot of careers back in 1998 when he churned out the quirky crime drama “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels,” one being his own as an auteur of hyper-stylized violence in 3D slo-mo – something the Wachowskis would seize upon and elevate to an art form the following year with “The Matrix.” Menacing footballer turned actor Vinnie Jones is another; taciturn can-do strongman Jason Statham may have cut the biggest swath. Ritchie and Statham haven’t worked together since 2005’s “Revolver”: In between Statham had his hit “Transporter” series and joined the “Fast & Furious” franchise, while Ritchie made the live-action “Aladdin” (2019) and the tepid Sherlock films with Robert Downey Jr. Last year’s release of “The Gentlemen” signaled something of a return to form for Ritchie, even if the film couldn’t rise above its own self-aggrandizing cheekiness.

The pair’s latest collaboration is more of a straight-ahead Statham revenge flick like “Parker” or “Homefront” (both 2013) than an amped-up Guy Ritchie production – and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Here in “Wrath of Man,” Statham plays H, a mysterious sort who barely shoots or drives well enough to make it as a guard with an armored car company that’s been targeted by a ring of thieves. What Ritchie and his phalanx of writers have cooked up is something like Steven Soderbergh’s “The Underneath” or Michael Mann’s indelibly furious “Heat,” both made in 1995 and about armored car heists.

To be certain, “Wrath of Man” is not on par with either. It’s not even close. But it does have its merits. The back-and-forth narrative between a heist in the recent past and one about to go down deepens the intrigue, as does a “Rashomon,” multi-angle view of a singular event, and there’s a score by Christopher Benstead that bristles with a sense of foreboding and goes far in defining the atmosphere and driving the action. The main reason to see “Wrath of Man,” however, is to see Statham’s enigmatic antihero with a hidden agenda do what he does best, and that’s pick apart those evading justice with cold, calculating efficiency. If you’re here for anything else, that’s on you. Also in the vast cast we get Holt McCallany, so good in David Fincher’s “Mindhunter” series, as Bullet, H’s higher-up; Josh Hartnett in an odd turn as Boy Sweat Dave, the armored car company’s big mouth who shuts down under fire; Ritchie regular Eddie Marsan as the company bean counter; and Scott Eastwood and Jeffrey Donovan as well-organized jarheads on the opposite side of the bulletproof glass from H.

“Wrath of Man” gets better as it goes on, something that can’t be said for “Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse,” a similarly straight-up revenge flick released last week. It’s doesn’t have the big production values of that Michael B. Jordan vehicle, but it does have Statham’s no-nonsense avenger, and that’s good enough to make it the better choice to waste two hours of your day on.

Museo

5 Nov

‘Museo’: Robbing the museum is one thing, getting rid of the haul afterward is impossible

 

Image result for museo

The title in English means “museum,” where one of art pair of thirtysomething slackers works. Hard up for cash and a new lease on life, the burgling duo pull off a heist of Mexico City’s National Museum of Anthropology on Christmas Eve, absconding with priceless artifacts that include a beloved Mayan mask. Based on true events from 1985, Alonso Ruizpalacios’ “Museo” cuts an eerie parallel to the Isabella Gardner Museum heist here about five years after. As in our infamous crime, the rub becomes what to do with the booty – it’s impossible to unload due to its indelible notoriety and the efforts to secure its return.

When we meet Juan (Gael Garcia Bernal) and Benjamin (Leonardo Ortizgris), it seems highly improbable they could pull off the lifting of a 10-cent candy bar, let along priceless art under heavy security. These guys are so tethered to their boyhood base that they have to borrow Benjamin’s father’s car for the caper; afterward, sitting around with him watching the breaking news, he berates the culprits not knowing it was his son and friend.

That’s largely how Ruizpalacios’ film unfurls – in surreal wisps of comedy, gonzo happenstance and meandering circumspect. Shot in lush, wide frames by Damián García (who also shot Ruizpalacios’ debut feature,“Güeros” in 2014), “Museo” has a wide-eyed feel. These lads are in over their head and, to complicate matters, are arrogant – well, Juan is, and Benjamin would follow him off the edge of a cliff without even looking down. The best evidence is the relentless negotiation with an uninterested art dealer (Simon Russell Beale) in the middle of entertaining mucky-mucks on a posh veranda overlooking the sea.

Everything becomes a near fiasco, but the pair seem to be imbued with near unlimited luck as they head on to the next new means to pawn the art. Their relationship becomes frayed along the way, and as they fall apart so do their prospects. The two actors sell it, too, forging a chemistry that spans the gamut from mutually shared hope and camaraderie to jealousy, blame and contempt. Bernal, best known for “Y Tu Mamá También” (2001) and other crossover works, anchors the film with his commanding charisma as a man on edge who wants so desperately to be in control, while Ortizgris, who starred in Ruizpalacios’ earlier effort, serves up the vulnerable offset. They nail a character study that rewards, even if the characters don’t necessarily.

One of the beauties of “Museo” is its rambling nature. It might not fit into any traditional classification, but it is a wondrous work of art, from frame one to finish.

Logan Lucky

22 Aug

It’s only been four years, but feels much longer, since director Steven Soderbergh last treated filmgoing audiences to one of his quirky, deconstructive gems. Granted, “Side Effects” (2013) was something of a disappointment, but the director’s HBO biopic of flamboyant performer Liberace that same year generated plenty of heat, as did his previous feature, “Magic Mike” (2012). Soderbergh, an against-the-grain filmmaker, has always been one to toss the dice, be it his casting of a martial arts expert or a porn star in character-driven lead roles (“Haywire” and “The Girlfriend Experience”) or being one of the first to deliver a film simultaneously into theaters and on-demand (“Bubble” in 2005). For his latest, the American auteur taps into the skin of some of his more commercial fare – “Ocean’s Eleven” and “Out of Sight” – while farming fresh territory.

So it’s no surprise “Logan Lucky” is a heist caper – though not nearly as hip as the “Ocean” films. It’s set at a massive Nascar speedway in North Carolina, with the bulk of its protagonists down-on-their-luck West Virginians. Glitz and glamour are scarce, but arrive in the form of Riley Keough (so wickedly good in “American Honey” and adding to her stock here) as one of the Logan clan in on a plot to drain the speedway’s vault, and Katie Holmes as the ex-wife who’s traded up in social class and occupies a sprawling McMansion. At the center looms lovable Jimmy Logan (Channing Tatum, who’s been in several of Soderbergh’s more recent projects, including the Mike in “Magic Mike”) a golden-armed QB who never made good his promise to play at the collegiate or professional level because of a bum knee; as a result he toils as a second-string laborer, and a prideful one at that, refusing financial help from the ex who’s constantly offering to buy him a cellphone so they can better coordinate handoffs of their beauty pageant-obsessed daughter. Continue reading