Tag Archives: mark wahlberg

Movie Review – Spenser Confidential (2020)

“Hawk is the name of a motherfucker with a cool gun.  Spenser is the name of the guy who does your taxes.”

I might have mangled that line, but it’s the closest approximation I can remember from a scene in the new Netflix movie.  Mark Wahlberg is reviving the 1980s Boston based private detective TV show based on the series of novels by Robert Parker.  Winston Duke of Black Panther fame plays his trusty sidekick, and the line above is from a part where the dynamic duo squabble over who gets to wield the coolest gun in a shootout with nefarious ne’er-do’wells.

The setup?  Spenser went to prison 5 years ago for kicking his Captain’s ass.  So frustrated was he with his captain’s corruption and unable to prove anything that would stick, he resorted to violence and paid the price.

5 years later, he’s been released and is trying to get his life back on track.  His friend, Henry (Alan Arkin) who trained him in his gym, gives him a place to stay, allowing him to room with Hawk, a fighter he is training.

Spenser is about to leave Boston for good, saying goodbye to his old life of fighting crime, choosing to be a truck driver instead when the captain whose ass he kicked is murdered and a good cop is framed for the deed.

Unable to put himself over his need to do the right thing, Spenser recruits Hawk to help him on a quest to bring down the baddies and clear a good cop’s name.

There’s action.  Thrills.  Dogs.  Lots of dogs.  Marc Maron stops by as a blogger willing to spread tales of Spenser’s daring do.

Comedienne Ilza Schlesinger doesn’t just steal the show as Spenser’s perpetually angry ex-girlfriend, Cissy  She hijacks it and comes back for more and more.  Angry at Spenser one second for his refusal to think of himself and let crimes go unsolved one second, loves him and wants to support him the next.  A scene where she points out that Spenser, Hawk and Henry are basically three grown adults trying to play Batman is particularly funny.

The movie is worth watching and it also sets up a formula.  Spenser can step into the role of a private eye now, being a man who really wants to settle down and have a normal life, yet knows how to solve crimes and can’t sit by while injustice is afoot.  Hawk provides the muscle while Henry and Cissy stop by for comic relief.

Hopefully, this will be the start of a series.  I could seeing it being a TV show, though perhaps Wahlberg is too big for that.  A film series that builds on the formula could be interesting.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

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Movie Review – Mile 22 (2018)

Say hello to your mother for me.

BQB here with a review of “Mile 22.”

I’ve been watching Mark Wahlberg’s acting career since the 1990s and inevitably, he always plays that same charming South Boston tough guy in every film – literally every film from serious roles in “The Departed” to silly throwaway stuff like “The Transformers.”

Here, he tried something different and made an effort to become someone else.  I’m not sure he achieved it or if he just came across as MW trying really hard to be someone else but at least he tried.

In this movie, Mark plays James Silva a clandestine special agent who is…well, I don’t know if we find out what exactly his problem is.  He’s hyperactive, highly intelligent, he might have some kind of personality disorder but at any rate, he’s brilliant when it comes to strategy but on a personal level, he’s a dick.  He speaks rapidly, blurting out facts and stats a mile a minute, bogging his subordinates down with info and orders and lacks diplomacy, insulting and berating them into submission.

I almost wanted to call it “Rain Man Meets Homeland” except Carrie was never this mean or testosterone fueled, and he is more functional than Dustin Hoffman’s character.

The plot?  A foreign government agent comes to an American embassy with information on where a weapon of mass destruction is located.  The catch – he’ll only tell if he is allowed to defect to America and freedom.  Thus, Mark and his elite special ops unit must fight their way through 22 miles of mayhem to get the operative to safety and away from the various baddies trying to kill him.

This movie is Lauren Cohan’s  (she of “The Walking Dead” fame”) big break to shine on the silver screen.  Though she has had others, this is probably the most memorable.  She plays Wahlberg’s number two, an agent struggling between her desire to do what she does best (fight international baddies) and what she wants to do (i.e. be a mom.)

Her husband, seen through various Facetime chats, is portrayed as a Dick Cheeseburger for moving on with his life and marrying another woman who takes an active role in step-mothering their daughter while Alice is traveling the world on one mission or another.

Cohan acts the crap out of this and you feel her pain so I’m not knocking her, but it just seems like there’s an ongoing film industry double standard.  If a male character chooses work over family, he’s usually portrayed as a dick and the woman who dumps him and moves on is a hero.  On the other hand, if the man gets tired of being alone and finds someone who will be there for him, he’s made out to be a total Turd McMuffin.

SIDENOTE:  I think at some point we, men and women, were sold on this sham that we can “have it all.”  Marriage. Kids.  Family.  High level career.  A rare handful of people make that happen and they are usually the lucky ones who find that special supportive someone willing to be alone, sometimes months at a time for the greater good.  Most can’t make it happen and inevitably, time is in short supply and we all must choose between career and family.

Back to the action, Ronda Rousey rounds out the cast as MW’s number three agent and I’m going to assume that it’s because action movie fans love RR and not because it’s 2018 and that means for every male character taking charge, there must be two females taking charge – a ratio of 2 vags for every 1 peen, as it were.

Overall, the movie mimics MW’s character’s style – it moves fast, very fast, sometimes too fast.  You barely have a second to breathe, eat popcorn, or pick your nose.  Blink and you might miss something.

STATUS:  Shelf-worthy but it’s more character driven than plot driven.  There are a lot of fancy, pretentious lines thrown out suggesting that the writers are like, “Hey we watch cable news and we worked in some buzz words we heard so that makes us smart and witty.”  At any rate, it’s a good movie but I think it might have worked better as an HBO series as the film quickly sets up the characters, how their special ops unit operates, and from there, they could face a new threat each week.  Oh well, maybe now that I put that idea out into the Cosmos, HBO might pick it up.

Plus, there is a message how war has changed, how it’s more often ops working behind the scenes rather than uniform wearing soldiers meeting on the field of battle.  The rules of warfare we once knew are over and it’s every man and/or woman for him/herself.

DOUBLE SIDNOTE:  Ladies, I love you.  It’s not that I don’t want you to pick up guns and shoot bad guys it’s just that…eh, I wish you didn’t want to.  I get that you felt left out for many years and men got to do things you wanted to do but men weren’t right about everything and I don’t know, maybe I’m a sexist pig but seeing Lauren and Ronda fight bad guys like barroom brawlers, getting all messed up and bloody and battered and so on…I don’t know.  I’m not telling women they have to get back in the kitchen but not everything men traditionally did is something to aspire to and violence isn’t one of them.

That isn’t to say Lauren and Ronda aren’t fun to watch on screen doing their thing but just, you know.  OK, I’ll shut up now.

Sheesh.  It’s a good thing only 3.5 people read this blog or else I’d get a lot of angry letters.

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Movie Review – Patriots Day (2016)

Wacky Boston accents.  Explosions.  Mark Wahlberg wants you to say hello to your mother for him.

BQB here with a review of Patriots Day.

It’s not easy to make a movie about real, tragic events.  First, there’s the possibility that people might be offended by the idea of Hollywood making a buck off of other people’s misery.

Second, real life often does not provide cookie cutter storylines.  Thus, movies like these often come across as well-acted documentaries instead of an actual cinematic story.

Mark “I’m From Boston So I Have to Be in All of the Boston Movies that Ben Affleck Isn’t In, Kid” Wahlberg leads the cast as Sgt.Tommy Saunders, a chronic pain sufferer forced to work crowd control on the Boston Marathon as a punishment.  Saunders is in the dog house with the department for unspecified reasons, but he’s assured this assignment will return him to good standing.

What begins as a fun event quickly turns tragic when bombs go off.  Scenes of mayhem, carnage, responders assisting people who have lost limbs, blood, body parts etc.  Personally, I could have done without seeing that, though I understand the overall goal was to explain to the viewer the pain, both physical and mental, that people experienced due to this attack.

Throughout the film, we are introduced to various people from all walks of life, from a young studious couple who end up losing their legs, to the poor unfortunate MIT police officer who is in the wrong place at the wrong time, to the dude who’s just checking his text messages when he gets kidnapped by a pair of terrorists and forced to go on a scary ride as their hostage.

Things get more interesting as the hunt for bombers/terrorist brothers Tamerlan and Dzhokar Tsarnaev gets underway.  Kevin Bacon and John Goodman are among the actors who play the assorted suits in charge.

One part that caught my attention was how technology made a big impact on the investigation.  Officers collected cell phones from the scene and were flooded with emails from citizens who had been recording footage.  Based on all that data, the authorities were able to find images of the two suspects.

It all concludes in a frightening chase/stand-off in Watertown, where the Tsarnaevs shoot at and hurl homemade bombs at police officers.  The scenes rival any action packed summer blockbuster.  Intriguing to watch until you realize…this actually happened.  Dun dun dun.

Overall, I felt the film treated the event with respect, though there has been some controversy.  For example, there have been some reports that Dennis Simmonds, a black police officer who was injured during the Watertown shootout, then died a year later from his wounds, was not granted any screen time.  Way to go, Hollywood.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.  It runs long.  You could wait to rent it, though the Watertown shoot out scene is pretty intense on the big screen.  Again, I do say that reluctantly, as this stuff actually happened.

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Movie Review – Deepwater Horizon (2016)

A real life oil rig catastrophe is turned into a movie.

SPOILER ALERT? Well, didn’t you have the TV on at all in 2010?

BQB here with a review of Deepwater Horizon.

This movie tells the story of the oil rig explosion that led to oil being spilled into the Gulf of Mexico for eighty-seven days in 2010.

Remember that news story, folks? Every day you’d turn on the TV and they’d have the video of all that oil spouting off into the water?

Yikes. Those days surely sucked.

Interestingly, this movie is all action, yet it also seeks to educate.

 

There’s a lot of science and engineering behind oil rig drilling. Thus, the film’s challenge from the beginning is to take a subject that experts take years to learn about and pass off the basics to the viewer, or at least the info they need to know so the movie isn’t entirely baffling.

At times, I felt like I learned something. At other times, the characters get into the complexities and my eyes glaze over and I’m just like, “Yup. This thing’s gonna blow up. Got it.”

As the film tells it, oil rig boss Jimmy Harrell (Kurt Russell) squares off against BP executive Vidrine (John Malkovich).  The overall implication that comes out of the movie is that BP was cutting corners, ignored Harrell’s advice and blah, blah blah I’ll let you watch it yourself but suffice to say, the whole thing went kaboom.

Here’s the big thing I noticed. This was an action film…but it was a realistic action film.

You know those action films where there’s an explosion and two seconds later the hero is fine?

Yeah. This isn’t one of those.

As the rig comes down, we see bones break, people get burned, thrown around, crushed and badly injured.  People end up running around in pain (and the pain shows) with pieces of glass and debris stuck in them.

In the midst of it all, people are people. Some do great, heroic things. Others get scared and panic.

As a viewer you’re like, “Wait!  Isn’t Arnold Schwarzenegger going to swoop in any minute now and save everyone and never get a scratch on him and then he’ll say a clever one liner?”

Nope. Heck, Mark Wahlberg as technician Mike Williams doesn’t even give us an SNL inspired, “Say hello to your mother for me.”

Gina Rodriguez stars as rig worker Andrea Fleytas and Kate Hudson stars as Mike’s wife.

Mmmm.  Kate Hudson. I’d jump off a burning oil rig to swim to her, by God.

What? Too soon to make jokes? Come on. It’s been six years.

This movie left me with a greater appreciation for people who have rough, dangerous jobs. If you know an oil rig worker, give him/her a hug…well….ask first. Remember, no means no.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

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Movie Review – Daddy’s Home (2015)

Being divorced sucks.

Do I really need to call a spoiler alert for that? Probably not.  But I will for this review.

BQB here with a review of the Will Ferrell/Mark Wahlberg comedy, Daddy’s Home.

Do you remember when Ferrell and Wahlberg crushed it in The Other Guys? That was a comedy about the cops who never get the hot cases with lots of action.  They were the other guys, the guys who get stuck with lame, boring cases, who find themselves in the midst of an action laden case.

I remember laughing my ass off in that one.  This one? While it has a few knee slappers, I have to say, not so much.

I’d never tell someone to stay in a marriage that’s making them miserable.  On the other hand, I worry people don’t have the stick-to-it-tiveness that past generations had when it comes to nuptials.

“To love, honor, cherish, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, till death do us part.” People seem to take those more as general guidelines than hard and fast rules. People get divorced over silly things now. He left the toilet seat up. She uses all the hot water so I can’t take a shower.  He doesn’t give me butterflies in my stomach anymore. She got a little chubby and there’s a girl at work who’s way hotter.

I dunno.  That’s just my complaint. Especially when kids are involved. Like I said, I wouldn’t tell someone to stay in a terrible relationship but on the other hand, don’t pass up someone who’d be good for you just because she’s not perfect because you’re waiting for Angelina Jolie to show up (or Brad Pitt as the case may be.)

I digress. The setup?  Linda Cardellini (Sarah) divorced her first husband, Dusty (Wahlberg), for a good reason – he just wanted to keep living a wild and crazy lifestyle instead of being there for his kids.

Enter Brad (Ferrell). Sarah and Brad get married and while Brad absolutely loves being a stepdad and all that comes with it (volunteering for field trips, helping out with school activities etc.) the kids won’t give him a chance because they miss their biological father, Dusty.

So bottomline. Dusty returns after being away. He wants his wife and kids back. Brad wants to keep them.  The kids won’t connect with Brad but he is like a perfect male homemaker, which makes Sarah happy.  Dusty, with his motorcycle and manliness and fun guy attitude is a hit with the kids, but no so much for Sarah, who doesn’t like being in the situation where she has to be the parent that doles out the rules while Dusty’s the fun guy.

The war is on with Brad vs. Dusty in a battle to win over the family’s hearts.  Hijinx, pranks, and backstabbings ensue.

As a comedy, its more sweet than funny. The takeaway for me came from Brad/Ferrell’s advice on being a Dad to Wahlberg/Dusty – “Being a good dad is about getting shit on.”

In other words, you want the best for your kids.  So you put up with a lot of crap.  You take them to visit their friends even though you might think the friends’ parents are jerks. You get roped into volunteering to do a lot of extra activities and other adults complain about the help you are providing – you’d like to quit because you don’t want to do it at all but you keep going because you love the kids.

Even your kids will say and do shitty things to you.  You can’t let it get you down or give up on them.  They’re kids and they don’t know any better.

And especially, when you’re a stepdad, there are times when the kids hit you one too many times with the “you’re not my real dad” line when you’re trying to get them to do the right thing…and you might feel like, screw it, let the kid be a jerk then but you just have to get back in the trenches and be a good dad anyway.

So as I said at the start, being divorced must really suck.  Sucks for the kids because they miss whichever parent isn’t there.  Sucks for the parent that’s not around as much because he/she misses everyone. Sucks for the new step parent because he/she might want to be a positive part of the kids’ lives but the kids naturally see the new step parent as a replacement of the other parent.

So I guess try not to get divorced but if you have to, try to be as mature as possible about the situation.  The kids aren’t really little monsters.  They just don’t understand.  Be like Brad.  Take their shit and keep being a good stepdad anyway.

 

By the way, I remember Linda Carellini as the teenage girl from Freaks and Geeks.  Why am I so old that she’s able to play a divorced and remarried mom now? And where the hell did all that time go?

STATUS: Not shelfworthy.  You wouldn’t want to rush out to see it but worth a rental.

 

 

 

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Movie Review – Ted 2 (2015)

Oh Ted, you talking teddy bear you, what wacky hijinx will you get into next?

OBLIGATORY SPOILER WARNING – though let’s face it, like its 2012 predecessor, it’s basically one big extended Family Guy episode.

Bookshelf Q. Battler here with a review of Seth MacFarlane and Mark Wahlberg’s latest dip into the sequel well.

It’s strangely poignant that this movie came out on the same day that the U.S. Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling that same-sex marriage is legal in all fifty states.  While I don’t want to offend anyone by comparing the civil rights struggle of a whole group of Americans to that of a fictional teddy bear, the movie does in a big way and at times, it’s surprisingly poetic (well, as poetic as a movie about a bong hitting foul mouthed stuffed animal can get).

Ted and human girlfriend Tammy got married at the end of the last film.  You remember the first film, right?  It was a welcome, well-received smash hit, one that left you rolling in the aisles and busting at the seems with laughter?

This one, not so much, though there were still plenty of moments that left BQB slapping his knee.  In McFarlane’s defense, sometimes it is hard to catch lightning in a bottle twice.

When Ted and Tammy’s marriage starts to hit the skids, they decide to try to revitalize things by having a baby (because that always helps, right?)

Ted can’t biologically father a child because he’s a teddy bear and I’ll avoid spoilers by just pointing out that after various comical attempts at obtaining a kid, Ted ends up being declared “property” by the government.

Turns out, he’s not legally recognized as a person.

It’s up to Wahlberg (Ted’s longtime friend John), and John’s new love interest, freshly graduated and green lawyer Sam (Amanda Seyfried) to save the day and convince the world that there’s more to Ted than fabric and cotton stuffing.

Morgan Freeman who plays a veteran attorney that comes to the group’s aid, puts it best when he informs Ted that his problem isn’t exactly a legal one but rather an emotional one.  Society has a tendency to answer questions like this with its heart rather than with an eye toward the law or a consideration as to what’s fair.

In other words, Ted, who’s spent a lifetime hitting the bong, watching TV, and not doing much else, has to do something to stand out as a valued member of society in order to convince people to see things from his perspective.

Again, not to compare an actual civil rights movement to a teddy bear’s struggle, but when you think about it, Morgan’s on to something.

Massachusetts (Ted’s home state) was the first state whose judiciary declared same-sex marriage legal in 2004.  At the time, people across the country, Democrats and Republicans alike, declared the sky was falling and there was some kind of conspiracy to turn everyone gay.  Eleven years later when that didn’t happen, people softened up, a lot of minds were changed, and the U.S. Supreme Court was able to make a decision that probably would have gotten them tarred and feathered over a decade ago.

In other words, we like to think this is a “nation of laws, not men” (John Adams for the win), but at the end of the day, vexing questions are often decided through emotion rather than reason and sometimes those in a struggle have to wait for emotion to swing their way.

Oh, and also the teddy bear smokes pot.

STATUS:  Shelf worthy, worth a watch for comedy lovers, though does not surpass the first film.

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