Author: Matthew

The Expendables 3 (2014)

We’ve done this dance how many times now? You’ve (presumably) seen two Expendables movies already, so shouldn’t you know exactly how they work? Aging action stars team up to take down another aging action star. Sometimes there’s blood and profanity, sometimes there’s no blood and less profanity, but it all basically works the same. You’re supposed to have fun simply because of the cast. That’s really never happened. The movies just haven’t been good enough so far. Does that change with the third installment? No. No, it doesn’t. The Expendables 3 is just as mediocre as the other two chapters in a series that makes a lot of money but really aren’t any good. This one might be even worse. I know some people like them, and that’s fine. I just don’t see much to like. The action is bland, the cast doesn’t get much to do, there’s little acting involved, and the whole point — to be an homage of dumb, ’80s action movies — gets kind of lost along the way. They’re just dumb, boring action movies set nowadays with actors who should no longer star in action movies. And Jason Statham. The plot this time sees Barney (Sylvester Stallone), the leader of a mercenary group known as The Expendables, tasked with his biggest mission yet, because of course it is. After a mission gone bad, during...

Read More

The Men Who Stare at Goats (2009)

Purportedly based on a true story — yes, really — The Men Who Stare at Goats contains some of what the title promises. Men do, in fact, stare at goats, although they only do so in one scene. Mostly, the film is split into two sections. The first involves a journalist and a former psi-soldier heading into Iraq on “business” while the second is a series of flashbacks regarding a secret military group of psychic soldiers who are dubbed “Jedi Warriors,” because why not? Let’s start with the present day. The reporter is Bob Wilton (Ewan McGregor), a man who is depressed after his wife leaves him. He decides he needs to do something, and heading to Iraq would be a good something to do. He’s unable to cross the border, though, and winds up staying in a hotel for a month. Here, he meets retired soldier Lyn Cassady (George Clooney), who was a member of the New Earth Army — the aforementioned psychic soldiers, although they mostly come across as a bunch of hippies who may or may not even have any powers. They head into Iraq together, and along the way Lyn tells Bob all about his time spent in the army. That story is certainly an interesting one. We learn how the whole movement got started, how the soldiers had to try to hone their powers,...

Read More

Let’s Be Cops (2014)

Let’s Be Cops is a film whose premise is not something that can sustain it for over 90 minutes. That premise — where regular guys pretend to be police officers — is funny for about 20 minutes. After that, it gets stale. In order to keep it fresh, they’re put into a real life police situation. That fuels the rest of the plot and humor. It’s nowhere near as enjoyable as watching the two leading characters goofing off and dressing up as police officers, with people believing them. The leads are New Girls alumni, Jake Johnson and Damon Wayans, Jr., who are playing losers named Ryan and Justin. They’re from Ohio, but living in LA, and they’re struggling. They live together past the age of 30, they’re both single, and they’re both doing really poorly at their jobs — when they even have jobs. For a dress-up party, they go as cops. Walking home after being made fun of, they decide to play the role. And people believe them. Soon enough, this is how they spend all of their time. They’re having fun, and it’s pretty funny, I guess. And then things degenerate. The two find themselves at odds with a real-life mobster, some dirty cops, and … some other things, and have to somehow get themselves out of it. How do they try to do it? By acting...

Read More

Passion (2013)

Isn’t it funny when the title of a film is exactly what it’s lacking? Passion, from director Brian De Palma, is a remake of a 2010 French film called Crime d’amour. It centers on two women at an advertising firm and their desire to move up in the world. It features deception, and lust. It wants to be an erotic thriller, but it’s mostly just confusing. At times, you won’t have a clue what’s going on. That’s intentional, but it doesn’t make for a great watch. The film’s lead is Isabelle (Noomi Rapace), who is trying to make a name for herself in the advertising business. Her boss is Christine (Rachel McAdams), who is hoping to move to New York and gain a higher position in her company. The film takes place in Germany. Christine is in a relationship with Dirk (Paul Anderson), who on a trip to London has an affair with Isabelle. Christine seems to find out, and even seems to want Isabelle for herself. Christine takes credit for an advertisement that was Isabelle’s idea. The two begin a feud that is filled with sexual tension. Or, it wants to be filled with sexual tension, but in reality it just has the two leads stare at each other rather blankly and kiss a couple of times with little reason. There’s a lack of, well, passion to the...

Read More

What If (2014)

What If (released as The F Word in all countries but America, because America apparently can’t handle a title that even hints at profanity) is a funny movie about the friend zone. What is the friend zone? It’s when a guy has romantic feelings for a girl, but she just wants to be friends. It’s said he’s then put in the friend zone. Yes, it seems to be almost exclusively with those sexes in those roles. Why? I have no idea. The internet just paints this sort of picture. In this film, the characters are Wallace (Daniel Radcliffe), a medical school dropout who doesn’t even believe in love, and Chantry (Zoe Kazan), the cousin of Wallace’s best friend, Allan (Adam Driver). Wallace and Chantry meet at a party, chat for seemingly ages, and at the end of the night, Chantry notes that she has a boyfriend, and that Wallace should meet him someday. “Friends?” she asks. “Why not?” he replies. And thus a friendship is born. It’s clear that Wallace wants more than that, but for most of the movie we kind of just watch them do friend-type things. Scattered throughout are moments when it seems like one of them is going to make a move. Yes, Chantry also has feelings for Wallace. I bet you didn’t see that one coming! But she can’t act them because of the...

Read More


Critics Login

Subscribe to MFR

Review Archive