Action Films

Cop movies, revenge films, fisticuffs, martial arts and war movies.

Red Eye

red_eye_2005_film_posterLike Jack Torrance in The Shining, this Jack (OK, Jackson) is manifestly nuts, pre-going nuts in Red Eye. Cillian Murphy plays the sinister Jackson Rippner, obviously up to no good from the get-go, part of a team of hit-men going after the US Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security in South Florida.

And Rippner needs to lean on high-level hotel manager Lisa (Rachel McAdams) to get the ball rolling, threatening to kill her father if she fails to comply with the loon’s request to have the politico change rooms for a more favorable shot.

It’s a devastating premise, with a setting that’s already horrific to many: a turbulent flight. And Wes Craven mines the claustrophobia (close confines he referred to as “compressed”), spate of minor indignities, and discomfort of modern air travel with aplomb.

For the most part, Red Eye will have you summoning the drinks cart to steady the nerves.

The film is Craven’s follow-up to Cursed, a werewolf Miramax mess, and depending on how you view the late auteur, either one of his many post-Scream debacles or a decent, capably made time-waster.

So, is Red Eye the Concorde….Airport 79 of horror-thrillers? Or is it more of an Airport 1975?

Jackson charms future seat-mate Lisa in an airport restaurant before revealing his sinister plans at 30,000-feet, suddenly head-butting her to keep her quiet when she attempts to break loose.

When she comes to, her attempts to thwart him at every turn propel the narrative along for a mostly satisfying in-flight experience.

red_eye_filmWhere Red Eye sags is in its conclusion, almost Commando-esque in its bazooka silliness.

And Lisa’s beleaguered hotel colleague Cynthia (Jayma Mays from Glee), is called upon continually to save the day, despite being a frazzled neophyte who has no business in hospitality management.

The steeliness, drive and dynamite performance of McAdams as a strong female lead is thrown off by the usual trappings of dumb-dumb horror – the “you don’t have to do this” pleading, which never sways psychopaths (they’re psychopaths, remember?)- and unstoppable killer nonsense.

*** (out of 5)

Cyborg Soldier

cyborg-soldierMuch like R.O.T.O.R., which features a Robotic Officer of the Tactical Operations Research, Cyborg Soldier has an I.S.A.A.C., or Intuitive Synthetic Autonomous Assault Commando.

But it’s not as if R.O.T.O.R. is held up as the pinnacle of originality, dismissed at the time (with ample reason) as a cut-rate Terminator or a discount RoboCop.

Cyborg Soldier, is a knock-off of a knock-off of a knock-off, and it’s a pretty precipitous slide from the aforementioned classics (and Universal Soldier too!), and the film’s hampered by a budget that’s not so much shoe-string as flip-flop.

Former UFC middleweight champ Rich “Ace” Franklin plays the cyborg.

He’s “The ultimate weapon,” and this is the ex-Ultimate Fighter’s first acting stint, playing a prototype not surprisingly, birthed from a secret government lab (where the best evil plots are hatched).

He’s a super-being, a genetically modified Ubermensch who speaks in clipped tones, and has never met a contraction apparently: “I DO NOT KNOW, I CAN NOT SAY.” Then again, that’s pretty much par for the course when it comes to robo-speak.

And he’s pretty much indistinguishable from your average human, save for a complete lack of emotion (OK, he shares that trait with sociopath humans) and weirdly, he’s never heard of Jesus: “Who is this Jesus you speak of?” You’d think that his Frankenstein creators would’ve added deities to this nano-tech automaton’s vocabulary for Christ’s sake!

cyborg_soldier_rich_franklinHe’s on the run and kidnaps a lady cop, Lindsay (90201’s Tiffani Thiessen), while evil government ops try and track him down.

It’s up to the cyborg and new ally Lindsay to find out his identity, and this leads to a bunch of exposition from the awesome Bruce Greenwood about a secret plot to turn federal inmates into cyborg warriors.

Sounds like a plan.

R.O.T.O.R. asked the question, “How do you stop a killing machine from going berserk?” And the answer in Cyborg Cop is apparently, get Tiffani Thiessen to humanize him. She does this while draped in a too-big plaid shirt, and looks like at any minute she’ll bust out a Crip walk.

Cyborg Soldier puts two words that when slapped together, should mean action movie gold. It doesn’t measure up, but has one amazing goon-kill, and some serious explosions. Plus, there’s the compulsory bullet self-removal scene.

** (out of 5)