Need a Way Bigger Boat (The Meg, 2018)

The_Meg_PosterA few years ago deep dive rescuer Jonas made a critical decision that cost him his job. Jump ahead to the present and a deep sea exploration team has become trapped deep in the ocean after discovering a hidden world teeming with life…including giant Megalodon sharks. They bring in Jonas to conduct a rescue…but after the rescue it appears they are not the only ones to return to the surface.

Is the Meg a great film? No. Like the books it is inspired by, it is cheesy.  The film is full of over the top characters (at one point Rainn Wilson’s excitable billionaire notes that Statham’s Jonas has a heroic walk, but seems to have a bad attitude).

This is pretty much…what if Jaws was a big action movie.  And you know what? It is a lot of fun.  I had a whole lot of fun watching this one. It is action packed and has a rather engaging cast. This second part is important because these characters are not particularly deep, but the cast tends to imbue them with enough personality to make for an entertaining and cheesy ride.

No, it is not a great film. The Meg is not a classic, bt it is dumb and goofy fun.

I Hate Mondays Chapter 2 (John Wick Chapter 2, 2017)

john_wick_2_posterWhen we last left John Wick…he was still working to get his car back.  And after a very crazy and intense fight to do so, he heads home.  He buries his weapons, planning to quietly slip back into retirement.  But instead, his actions have come to the attention of Santino D’Antonio, to whom Wick owes a favor…and seeing how John left retirement, he is determined to cash it in.

John refuses and Santino handles it badly.  A visit to Winston lets John know he has to honor the debt…but after the debt? John is in the clear to get back at Santino.  And so John goes off to Italy to complete the mission…and…well, let’s just say his day goes from bad to severely life threatening.

John Wick Chapter 2 picks right up and never lets up.  Even the quiet moments feel like they are a build up to something intense.  As hit men rain down on Wick, he is constantly on guard.  Every corner reveals a new threat.  This gets amusing, such as one scene where Wick and Cassian (played by rapper and actor Common) are walking through a train station, from a distance trying to shoot each other (but carefully missing the people around them).

Many of the hit men are brief roles, yet the film gives them each unique and personal styles suggesting a backstory (we will never get).  Director Chad Stahelski returns with the second installment and it pays off.  John Wick Chapter 2 takes the best parts of the first film and amplifies them.

As before, the action is extremely well choreographed and the story kept very tight.  Rather than start to give the film to much more background, as sequels are prone to do, it follows the rule of “Keep It Simple”.  This really works in Chapter 2’s favor.

And finally, the film is clearly set for a Chapter 3…and the final moments of Chapter 2 hint that it will be quite a thrill ride.

Refueled (xXx: Return of Xander Cage, 2017)

xxx-roxc-poster12 years after the franchise stalled, comes an attempt to revitalize it.  Director D.J. Caruso (Disturbia) takes the reigns as Vin Diesel returns to the role of Xander Cage.  This time around, the idea is…”if one Bond is awesome…imagine if we had nine of them!”  Xander has been presumed dead, but when the CIA is hit by some highly skilled enemy agents who steal a dangerous weapon, they find Xander hiding out.

This time around, Cage sets up his own xXx team.  These are highly skilled extreme types. And they get a government agent assigned to them.  A cute and plucky girl named Becky.  She is also their “Q”.  On their way to retrieve the weapon, Cage and friends end up discovering he is up against other xXx agents that were recruited by Samuel L. Jackson’s Gibbons.  This ultimately leads to all the agents teaming up to take down the real bad guys.

The xXx films are pretty much “What if Bond was on steroids.”  Except this film.  The Return of Xander Cage is really “What if xXx was on steroids???”  It seems like the last 40 minutes were non-stop action and a Gospel Choir.

This film does not totally rewrite the book.  Instead, it is more of a blending of the Bond formula and the Fast & the Furious.  It is exciting and fun, and if you enjoyed the first two films, it is unlikely you will be disappointed by this one.  I would totally be in for the entire cast (those who make it out alive) to return for another round.

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