John Matrix's Profile - Rotten Tomatoes

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Rating History

Chernobyl Diaries
5 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

This movie is just terrible. The plot: Four idiots (Leo DiCaprio Lookalike, Gary Sinise Lookalike, Brunette Chick, and Blond Chick) decide to go on an "extreme tour" of a town near Chernobyl. They go with two fellow "extreme tourists" (Australian Dude and his girlfriend, Norwegian Chick) and their tour guide, Uri (the only name you will remember). Once there they are attacked and killed one-by-one offscreen by mutants you never get a clear look at.

This is not a found footage movie, although it looks like it. It's every bit as poorly shot and badly lit as one. This is one of the most poorly made films I've ever seen in theater. It's like they try to apply found-footage principles to a movie that isn't a found footage movie. And what are those principles? Murky, shaky, amateur cinematography. Sorry, incompetent camera work works in a found footage movie (where the footage actually is amateur footage), but in a normal movie, it's just incompetent.

The movie is boring for the first half. They try to establish characters, but they're so ridiculously bland and unmemorable that I don't even know why they bothered. It didn't make me care when they died. The one memorable character is Uri, their ex-Russian special forces tour guide, and he dies first. The film picks up when they get to the city, offering up some unintentionally funny moments such as when a bear turns up in a building (a jump scare that elicited laughter from the audience), and the big "shock ending" had me and my fellow movie goers simply laughing and then asking each other "why did they do that?" The "they" in that sentence can go for the characters or the filmmakers, in case you were wondering.

There are several moments where you will ask yourself "why the hell would they do that?" I know horror movies are sort of known for characters making dumb decisions, but it's reaches some pretty ridiculous levels here. On more than one occasion while the characters are walking in one direction, their Geiger counter starts going off. They realize that they are entering a dangerously radioactive area, but they keep going despite the fact that THEY DON"T NEED TO GO THAT WAY. If anything, more radioactivity is a sign that they're going in the WRONG DIRECTION to get out of the city.

Like I said, the mutants are mostly kept in shadows. "Less is more" can often work (as in Jaws or Val Lewton's movies), but here, it's just an annoyance. There's no real suspense or atmosphere because the characters are so bland and the photography is so amateur, so at the very least they could have supplied us with some The Hills Have Eyes style man vs. mutant action but, alas, they don't.

This is a bad movie. Not exactly a horrible one, but definitely not worth spending any money on. This thing was practically made for Netflix.

The Raid: Redemption
6 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

Forget about the bloodless, ball-less Hunger Games. This is an action flick. A bloody, violent, well-choreographed, bloody, clearly shot, cleanly edited, bloody action flick. Did I mention that it's bloody? This movie reminds you of what American action movies looked like before shaky cam and PG-13 ruined them for the most part.

The plot is actually somewhat reminiscent of such films as The Warriors and Die Hard. A group of police officers raid a fifteen-story building full of gang members in order to take in their leader. Halfway up, they are spotted and ambushed. The film follows the survivors as they try to survive the martial-arts-trained, machete wielding gang, which leads to some of the most impressive fight scenes ever choreographed, ever shot, and ever edited. It's amazing. It's revealed that the main characters brother actually works for the gang, which opens the door for some drama similar to John Woo's classic A Better Tomorrow.

The characters certainly aren't deep, but you quickly get a feel for all of the characters with a minimal of backstory and dialogue, which works very well here. Also worth noting, the soundtrack rocks.

I don't throw this type of praise around lightly, so you better believe me when I say that I think that The Raid will go on to be something of a classic action flick, up there with the likes of Die Hard. It's that good.

Bad Lieutenant
6 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

Abel Ferrara's Bad Lieutenant is a flat-out masterpiece that you will probably hate. If you cannot handle violence, explicit drug use, or sex, do not watch it. If you think that every movie needs to have a clear-cut narrative and likable characters, do not watch it. If you want every movie to to spell out its message for you and not demand any digging on your part, do not watch it. If, however, you are capable of stomaching disturbing material (the film earns its NC-17) and are willing to follow a character who lives up to the term "bad" in every meaning of the word, then check it out.

Harvey Keitel is our title character - a drug-addicted, gambling-addicted, sex-addicted corrupt cop on the edge. He lets off drug dealers in return for drugs. He takes the loot from a drug-store robbery and tells the robbers to beat it. He's in way over his head in gambling debts. In the films most famous scene, he pulls over two underage teenage-girls driving without a license, He doesn't actually touch either of them, but what he does will stay in your memory for a long time.

A nun is raped. At first he doesn't particularly care ("Girls get raped every day, and now we're putting up 50 Gs just 'cause these girls wear penguin suits"), but soon the lieutenant (a Catholic) is drawn to the case. The nun knows who the attackers are, but refuses to name them because she forgives them. The lieutenant can't believe that. If they can be forgiven for their horrible crime, maybe he can be forgiven.

This movie is gritty. Made on a budget of just one million dollars, several scenes are shot in public areas without permits, to save time and money.

Harvey Keitel gives perhaps the greatest performance of his career. He's raw and honest and makes no attempt to soften the character. He's absolutely dedicated, even to the point of famously doing full-frontal nudity. Few actors would be willing to show themselves in this light. It's a fearless performance. He deserved an Oscar. The fact that he wasn't even nominated is one of the Academy's most ridiculous oversights in my book.

Ferrara co-wrote the film with Zoe Lund, star of his excellent 1981 thriller Ms. 45. Here, she plays a drug connection for our hero. Lund was a real-life drug addict, and she would eventually die because of it in 1999 at the age of 37.

Bad Lieutenant is not for the faint of heart. But those who can stomach it and approach it with an open mind will find it powerful and intriguing. Keitel's performance alone is worth recommending the film. But everything else comes together to make it a hard-hitting masterpiece that asks tough moral questions and resists easy answers. I can't recommend it enough.

King of New York
6 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

Abel Ferrara's King of New York is a stylish, action packed gangster-thriller with an insanely good cast (most of whom were unknown at the time). The story is sort of a modern take on Robin Hood. Christopher Walken plays Frank White, a cool-headed gangster recently released from a lengthy prison sentence. Once released, White takes charge of his old gang, and goes about his old ways, but with the intention of using his profits to build a hospital in a poverty-stricken area of the city.

The cast includes an absolutely excellent Laurence Fishburne (credited as Larry Fishburne) a Frank's right-hand-man, Steve Buscemi in a very brief role as one of Frank's men, and David Caruso and Wesley Snipes as cops bent on taking down Frank.

The movie (which was booed during it's debut at the New York Film Festival and elicited several walkouts, including Ferrara's own wife) deals with a theme Ferrara would explore further in his follow up Bad Lieutenant: a bad man seeking redemption in a hostile world. Frank is a cold blooded killer, but if he can get this hospital built, he feels he can be redeemed.

King of New York is probably Ferrara's most stylish film, and it has some great action scenes and an excellent cast. Absolutely worth checking out.

Ms. 45
Ms. 45 (2013)
6 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

Abel Ferrara's follow up to The Driller Killer is a major step up, and one of his best films. Working on a larger (though still relatively small) budget, Ms. 45 is more stylish and ambitious.

The film stars Zoe Lund (who would go on to co-write Bad Lieutenant with Ferrara) as Thana, a mute woman who is raped twice coming home from work one day. The first assailant (Abel Ferrara himself, in a cameo) gets away, but she manages to kill the second assailant. Traumatized by the experience, Thana takes the second rapists .45 caliber pistol and takes to the streets - using herself as bait to attract would-be predators and kill them.

For a little while, the film is a Death Wish style vigilante flick, with Thana blowing away sleazy guys who try to force themselves on her. But as the movie progresses, it soon becomes apparent that Thana is terrified of all men. At one point, she spots a man on a date with his girlfriend. She follows him home, takes aim at him, and you get the feeling that she really intends to murder this innocent man, until he gets inside before she can take a shot. I won't give away the ending, which takes place at a Halloween party, but I will say that it's a hell of a climax, and Robert Rodriguez paid tribute to it in Machete.

Ms. 45 is first-rate revenge flick and an excellent example of the sleazy 1970s/1980s New York genre of filmmaking. It's stylish, dark, and entertaining. Check it out.