Entertaining pop fantasy delivers on the action and explosions but could have used a little tongue in the cheek to temper the solemnity surrounding Abe's crusade against the vampires. As with his previous efforts like Wanted and Night Watch, this film proves there is no doubt director Bekmambetov has mastered using visual FX in an action sequence like few others. Michael Bay should hang around him and take lots of notes, as both directors are fond of ludicrously OTT sequences, but where Bay simply doesn't trust the image or staging to fend for itself, Bekmambetov isn't afraid to indulge in the sheer lunacy of it. Case in point is a fight in the midst of a hundred horse stampede where vampire and Lincoln fight each other as they leap, dodge, and even fling the horses around them. It's a scene that would make Bugs Bunny shake his head in disbelief, but Bekmambetov doesn't care. And there is where the fun of the movie lies. The finale aboard a train racing across a burning bridge finally tops Under Siege 2: Dark Territory for most ridiculous train action scene in film history. Rufus Sewell, an actor whose appeal is so under appreciated it's a crime, gives another winning villain turn as the vampire who would rule the South. He's just perfect in balancing the menace and the slight wink to the audience that this story is a bunch fun malarkey. Sadly, the rest of the cast seems to think they are making a new installment to North and South. Benjamin Walker who played a young Liam Neeson in Kinsey, beats his older reincarnation in playing Lincoln (Neeson missed out the part in Spielberg's long gestating bio-pic) and wields the ax in ways that would be the envy of any rail splitter. Walker manages to make Lincoln likable in his scenes courting a beautiful Mary Elizabeth Winstead as the future Mrs. Lincoln and also quite the badass when he's taking down bloodsuckers. However his performance is so straight that it makes scenes of more dramatic weight unintentionally funny. Playing it all as farce would have undone the picture as well; the movie does play it's horror and tension for real which adds to making the picture work as well as it does. However having some nod to the audience that this is a fun popcorn filler and we're not really taking seriously this idea that our 16th president is going to beat back a vampire uprising would have helped. Moments like where Mary Todd Lincoln chastises her husband for not sharing his secret night time activities after their son is killed play awkward. Maybe it's because I'm in the middle of reading Team of Rivals, but I found some of the faux drama unnecessary. A movie with a premise this ridiculous could have used more of the humor and temper of Big Trouble in Little China. Nonetheless, it's a mostly entertaining adult cartoon (plenty of heads rolls, blood splatters and even a breast here and there) that is sadly short on the humor department.
How in the world did Jackson wind up in TWO movies that rip off Oldboy?! I'll say this, its a better movie then the Spike Lee remake at least. But once the twist is revealed, its hard to take the movie seriously anymore. A shame, as Jackson does a really good job and the movie sports some fine cinematography.
Time travel mindfuck based on the French 'film' Le Jete is probably Terry Gilliam's most mainstream film and ranks among one of Bruce Willis's biggest departure from his typical roles.
Channeling the temporal mechanics of Time Bandits, the societal decay of Brazil and the doomed madman quest of the Fisher King, 12 Monkeys proves itself as the rare remake that leaves the original behind. Once again Gilliam explores the theme of madness, quests, and the reactions from society and individuals. He cleverly switches near film's end, juxtaposing the believer/non believer role among Willis and Madeline Stowe, making for necessary jolt to the last third of the film.
The best of the Dirty Harry series following the original classic, stands apart certainly as the darkest entry of the films. Eastwood's direction manages to balance the more crowd-pleasing elements of Harry Callahan's one-man war on crime and bureaucracy with the rather tense and unsettling revenge tale of Sandra Locke's character. The film affords the Jennifer Spencer considerable screen time and Eastwood goes quite far in exploring both her rather psychotic edge as well as the root of her behavior in a gang rape scene that is particularly strong and unsettling. Her character's rage is a perfect counterpoint to Callahan's attitude toward law enforcement and its clear that he finds himself surprised but understanding of the Spencer character. Also noteworthy is Pat Hingle, returning opposite Eastwood from their casting in Hang 'Em High and The Gauntlet.
The film is not all darkness with some rather weak dog humor that proves Micheal Bay is not the only action director obsessed with ugly dogs. Of course the film features the definitive Eastwood line. Its rather amazing to think that its not till the 4th entry that Dirty Harry's most iconic moment arrives in the classic, 'Go ahead, make my day."
The film's final act is quite impressive unfolding almost like a horror movie in its cinematography and editing as Locke is victimized again and Eastwood returns from certain death to exact justice. The silhouetted shot of Dirty Harry coming down the fairway with his massive pistol in hand is akin to any number of slasher movie icons from Freddy to Jason in its fearful atmosphere. Callahan's final decision to cover for Spencer is striking when it happens and is perhaps how the Dirty Harry series should have been left to end.
Rather pedestrian entry in the series lacking much of the thematic or psychological heft of the first two movies, this movie is just an excuse for more action. The subplot with Tyne Daly as Harry's female partner and his reluctance to accept her is very dated now. The villains in the movie don't really stand out much. Eastwood however still commands the screen and actually its his tangles the bureaucracy of city hall that are more entertaining this time out. The foot chase following the bomb attack on police records building is a standout action sequence. The use of Alcatraz is rather hu-hum, recalling other action movies prior (Point Blank) and later (The Rock) with much more impressive results.