This nearly unrecognizable A24 release actually had a pretty fun concept and a competent lead in Hailee Steinfeld but unfortunately leaned way too hard into the teen movie cliches. I did laugh some but this could have been way more up my alley with an R rating and far less of the high school romantic drama. 4.5/10
Samuel L. Jackson Binge: Jackson had a well tailored role here running a top secret government program aiming to turn children into spies and only wish we could have seen more of him at work.
*SLJ January #20
Considering I am a total philistine and have always struggled with all things Billy Shakes, this film did not start out particularly well for me. The only Shakespeare I have ever read by choice was King Lear a couple years back when I was determined, for albeit a short time, to expose myself to more of his work.
Many years ago I tried to learn an instrument and had no trouble quickly saying out loud what each note was on the sheet and what the corresponding movement on the instrument should be, however when it came time for my brain to make my hands actually follow through there was always an extra moment necessary to compute and translate what my eyes saw into what my hands should do. I find hearing Shakespeare spoken to be a similar experience for me as my brain takes just a tad too long to translate and decipher what I just heard before the next line is uttered.
I am not a patient person by nature but it does get much easier as you get more used to the style, though needless to say the first ten minutes of this film was pretty rough. I am now amazed I was able to appreciate it as much as I did by the end.
This felt like a passion project for Coen and definitely felt totally A24 as well with the minimalist sets and black and white color. After being totally turned off at first by the dialogue, I was surprised the film actually managed to engage me for a few long stretches once we got into the action. I had heard such good things coming in but should have known my negative feelings for Shakespeare were likely too strong to override the positive ratings and reviews.
*2022 Theater #2
This often felt bland and generic to me despite an intriguing cast and some fairly gripping action sequences. Maggie Q was convincingly competent and had a role reminiscent of those seen in many of the hyper stylish and graphic, fast paced thrillers getting released quite often these days.
Samuel L. Jackson Binge: I thought I was getting Seagaled* here for a split second until the movie instantly got pretty predictable, and while paying close attention to the bathtub scene I realized we probably hadn't seen the last of him.
*Executive Decision was the first movie I ever saw where a top billed actor died early in the film, feeling like a total fraud for an audience who expected them in a starring role. Anytime I ever saw this happen again it was always a "Seagal" to me.
SLJ January #18
Always remembered this as peak Shyamalan and an example of an amazing concept with a near perfect execution, but this somehow got even better for me with age.
This is such a creative story, and is flawlessly paced, with some really engaging scenes that lead up to a 10/10 conclusion. 8.5/10
Samuel L. Jackson Binge: Definitely one of his better performances and wouldn't even be surprised if this lands ahead of all non Tarantino films for me by the end. This is such an interesting character and Jackson commands the role so authentically that it is now impossible to imagine another in it.
SLJ January #17
I really appreciated some of the bigger themes alluded to and explored in this mystery thriller, while some of the dialogue and technical aspects come off cheesy and low budget over twenty years later.
Samuel L. Jackson Binge: Similar to the movie as a whole, I really liked aspects of Jackson's character and really disliked others. It was great to see him in a solo lead, and especially as a mentally ill homeless person in the role of the hero. The way in which mental illness was portrayed however, was lazy and cliche, and probably a bigger indictment of the era than the individual writers and actor.
*SLJ January #16