Bad Boys for Life
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Poignant, horrifying, outrageous, and all done using almost purely non-artificial storytelling techniques. They tell the story as it is, taking few risks but in this case, no risks were needed. The performances are pitch-perfect all around, ranging from understated from Liev Schreiber to more focused performances from Rachel McAdams and Mark Ruffalo. The film is shot in a very lifelike manner in terms of the way its captured, in terms of what its capturing it is clearly very reverent towards the city of Boston in a way that quickly gets you to relate to these characters as we get to know their hometown. The characters are well drawn not only by its specific performances but also to its screenplay by Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer, which in my opinion does not put a foot wrong anywhere. Here we get proper people to engage with, people who make mistakes and do bad things just like the rest of us, but are doing their best to rectify these mistakes while making sure that justice is served properly. When a character goes off his rocker temporarily, I instantly felt the same way he did and wanted to jump through the screen and join him in his rage. It is everything including sad, scary, white-hot-anger-inducing and ultimately bittersweet as we get a list of all the cities worldwide where these scandals happened right before the credits roll.
What I like most about it is that its a three hour long movie, where the viewer is confined in a small room with the characters but not once did I want to leave. This isn't to say that I don't think there is unnecessary material that should have been cut, but in terms of Tarantino's occasionally indulgent filmmaking tendencies there was much less than I had expected, given the runtime.
Here he yet again demonstrates his collaboration with his actors, the performances are largely very good and Samuel L Jackson's specifically is now my favourite of his, taking over his previous work in Jackie Brown. The movie is obviously beautiful, which is to be expected given the amount of fuss thats been made over its Ultra Panavision 70 format, despite the stagey setting it is still wonderful to just sit back and look at it all whenever you get the chance.
Morricone's score immediately took me to places I hadn't visited in a while, the old sweeping desert plains of the epic spaghetti westerns.
In terms of theme race takes the front seat, and parts of the dialogue make obvious critiques of past, present and future America that you can tell come directly from Tarantino, which is not always to the films benefit.
Also, speaking as someone specifically from New Zealand, the appearance of actress Zoe Bell was immensely jarring, the anachronistic accent and well known personal connection to Tarantino offering further dead weight that should have been left on the cutting room floor.
While it's not completely accessible to someone without prior knowledge of the subject, the film draws on its performances and a lot of the wittiness of the novel to remain funny constantly throughout. Also, despite the complexity of it all, a sense of the terrifying and the outrage still comes through thanks to Adam Mckay and Charles Randolph's impressive screenplay. McKay's direction is predictably quirky and it saturates the film in pop culture, repeatedly using celebrity cameos to explain complicated economics terminology, a comment on our society today that I really enjoyed.
When it isn't ridiculous, cloying or making me ask questions I shouldn't really even be asking in a movie like this, its really worth it. The climax takes its time to find its way to the screen, but this works to its credit due to it being so damn when it gets there.
Lively puts on a sort of aloof, polite-speaking persona that gives her a very ageless quality, in a performance that would have been the highlight of the film if it had been written in a way so wasn't so.. awful, to be honest. At times I really felt like the screenwriter was trying to sabotage the movie, at one point pausing and getting one of his characters to react to the huge plot contrivance that had just occured - "Wow! What a coincidence!" causing me to burst out laughing and the point of the scene to fly out the window. Ford gets good material to work with here, and he makes the most of it in a performance that is the most compelling I've seen from him in a long time. If this project had different behind the camera talent, the fascinating idea at the center would have been much better served.