ORBzine - Techno-Thriller 2007 Movie Reviews


The Tuxedo

The Tuxedo Jimmy Tong (Jackie Chan - Armour of God ) is a cab driver who winds up as sidekick to an English Secret Agent (Jason Isaacs - Event Horizon ). Jimmy ends up replacing his boss, and partners with beautiful lady spy Jennifer Love Hewitt to save the world. Luckily, Jimmy borrows his boss's tuxedo - a super-gadget that allows him to act like, well, like Jackie Chan. Kung-Fu comedy ensues!

This is a parody of the James Bond films, among other things. There is a villain out to conquer the world, and a bumbling fool cast into the role of Secret Agent - just like in Cody Banks , a similar parody which came out around the same time. However, The Tuxedo is carried by its incredible cast. Jackie Chan excels at this kind of work, and Ms Hewitt is very pleasing to the eye!

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  • Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Cradle of Life

    Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Cradle of Life Lara Croft ( Angelina Jolie ) is ambushed by SCUBA-diving Chinese bandits. The British Government hires her to retrieve a magic orb that will lead her to Pandora's Box. Not only is she the only one with the necessary skills, but she is also on first-name terms with most of the persons involved.

    Lara recruits an untrustworthy ex-lover, Terry Sheridan (Gerard Butler - Dracula 2001 ), as a guide - he knows many of the players too. However, she tends to ignore his advice. He wants to take the slow way into China, whereas she has a high-tech alternative already lined up. If she does not listen to him or even trust him, why does she bother to bring him along?

    Evil billionaire Mr Rice (Ciaran Hinds - Ghost Rider 2 ) is after the artefact, knowning it will lead him to Pandora's Box. The box contains a deadly disease, which is why Alexander the Great had it hidden in a magic cave guarded by supernatural monsters. Rice wants to sell it to the highest bidder as a bio-weapon, like the villain of Mission Impossible 2 . Naturally this would end in a Zombie Apocalypse, but Rice does not seem to care. He has forgotten the saying there are no pockets in a shroud.

    In modern times, many Hollywood blockbusters are filmed in China for financial reasons - to secure a spot in the Chinese market. This film, released in the year 2003, evidently got its funding from product placement. The Chinese setting seems purely because it is glamourous and exotic. At least there is some nice cinematography, courtesy of director Jan De Bont .

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  • Tomb Raider (2018)

    Tomb Raider (2018) This is a reboot of the series originally featuring Angelina Jolie . The story is a lot more simplistic, but what really stands out (no pun intended) is the new Lara's physique. The actress worked out to the level of peak fitness, but this meant she lost all her body fat. Not exactly what one associates with the notoriously buxom heroine.

    Lara Croft ( Alicia Vikander ) refuses to acknowledge that she is an orphan, and instead leaves the family fortune in the hands of her step-mother ( Kristin Scott Thomas ) and her lawyer (Derek Jacobi - Dead Again ). The orphan earns a living as a bike messenger, like in Dark Angel (1999) , and practices extreme sports to keep herself busy.

    Lara's father (Dominic West - John Carter ) has been missing for seven years, so rather than just declare him dead in absentia she goes off to find him. She ends up on an island that is basically Lian Yu from the Arrow TV show, which is run by rent-a-villain Walton Goggins ( Django Unchained ). He manages a slave labour camp, which has spent seven years trying to dig into an ancient tomb.

    Lara soon develops a taste for killing, and wipes out a lot of hard-working guards. The McGuffin is an ancient bacterium that can be weaponised, a bit like the one in Cradle of Life . This could potentially destroy all life on Earth, unless someone could whip up an antidote in time.

    The somewhat cheesy and predictable ending is setup for a sequel.

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  • Die Hard Franchise

    Die Hard (1988)

    Die Hard (1988) John McTiernan , veteran director of action movies like Predator , delivered this effort which not only spawned four sequels but also changed the nature of the action movie genre itself.

    A NYPD police officer named John Maclane (Bruce Willis - ) flies into Los Angeles to see his ex-wife, Holly Gennero ( Bonnie Bedlia ). He visits her office at Nakatomi Tower, where the company's Xmas party is underway. Unfortunately, Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman - Harry Potter Franchise ) and his dirty dozen gun-toting terrorists take over the building. Maclane must single-handedly defeat the villains and save the day.

    This is based on a book, Nothing Lasts Forever, and was originally intended to star Frank Sinatra. As with Dirty Harry, Sinatra declined the opportunity and let someone else take a career-defining role. Schwartzenegger was also considered, making this film a direct sequel to Commando . However, luckily this did not take place.

    Maclane is not a one-man army like Rambo, the archetypical 1980s action hero. Instead he a blue-collar everyman. While he has a police-issue handgun, the villains have sub-machineguns. This is another break with tradition. Most villains in action thrillers only carried civilian hand-guns, but in Die Hard the bad guys carry military-grade fully-automatic weapons. The next big switch would be in the Bond movie Tomorrow Never Dies , which features villains in SWAT-style body armour for the first time.

    The one-man-against-hijackers storyline is not entirely original. Alistair MacLean wrote The Golden Rendezvous in the 1960s, but the earliest example of this sub-genre is probably a 1940s film noir called Quiet Please, Murder, which featured a private detective in a library that had been taken over by gangsters.

    The film is a masterpiece on many levels. Each role, no matter how small, has the perfect cast member. There are even a couple of villains from the Bond movies. FBI Agent Johnson is Robert Davi ( Licence to Kill ), and one of Rickman's team is the assassin from The Living Daylights .

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  • Die Hard 2: Die Harder (1990)

    Die Hard 2: Die Harder (1990) It is Xmas Eve, and John MacLane (Bruce Willis - The Fifth Element ) is at Dulles Airport in Washington DC to pick up his wife. Unfortunately it is not his day. His wife's flight is delayed, and his car is towed by the local cops. Worse, there are gun-toting bad guys running around the airport.

    The villain of the piece is Colonel Stuart (William Sadler - Roswell ). He is a parody of Colonel Oliver North, here portrayed as a mercenary hired to save a General Noriega figure (Franco Nero - Django Unchained ) who is being extradited to the USA. Strangely the extradition plane will arrive at the civilian airport, rather than at a military Air Force Base, but that is the least of the film's flaws.

    Stuart and his men seize control of the airport's control systems. It all seems quite ridiculous today, in the post-9/11 era. However, the story is set a decade earlier when it was almost believable that security would be more lax.

    There are a few familiar faces in the supporting cast. A very young-looking Robert Patrick ( Terminator 2 ) gets a line of dialogue and a death-scene in a shoot-out. Yes, this is the film that established him as a rent-a-villain before he got to take on Schwartzenegger. Later, Colm Meaney ( Under Siege ) attempts an English accent as the pilot of a passenger jet.

    Denis Franz ( ) is the airport's chief of police, and has an adversarial relationship with MacLane. This is necessary to maintain the situation of MacLane being a one-man army, with minimal assistance from the authorities. MacLane is pushed even further out of the loop when a US Army Special Forces Unit, Blue Light, arrives to deal with the terrorist threat.

    There is a sub-plot about journalists being bad people. Thornburg (William Atherton - Ghostbusters (1984) ) is on the same airplane as Holly Genero, even though he still has a restraining order against her for punching out two of his teeth at the end of the first film. The stewardesses are resentful of him because he made a TV documentary highlighting unsafe practises in the airline industry. Meanwhile, MacLane resents a nosy lady journalist in the airport although he is more than happy to accept her assistance when it suits him.

    The dialogue actually lampshades the unbelievable coincidence of the same thing happening to the same guy twice. However, this is just not as good as the first one. We never really feel that MacLane is in any jeopardy. In the original film, John McTiernan made MacLane into an everyman character. This time round, Renny Harlin turns MacLane into an unstopable one-man army who can easily defeat a team of Special Forces soldiers.

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  • Die Hard 3 (1995)

    Die Hard 3 (1995) Simon (Jeremy Irons - Dungeons And Dragons (1999) ) uses a series of bombs to hold New York City to ransom. He starts to play a game of Simon Says over the phone with the police. This involves humiliating John MacLane (Bruce Willis - Fifth Element (1998) ), who has quit the LAPD and returned to his old job in the NYPD.

    Zeke Carver (Samuel L Jackson - ) is a storekeeper in Harlem, who helps out local kid Aldis Hodge (Leverage). He gets roped into helping MacLane, rather than see his neighbourhood destroyed by the bombings. The NYPD team has even more diversity, in the form of detectives Graham Greene ( ) and Colleen Camp .

    MacLane and Zeke drive around the city, accepting clues from Simon over the phone and trying to defuse the bombs before they explode. This is from the last decade that a 1970s-style urban thriller like this could work. When the heroes need to contact the police in an emergency, they need to find a rich man with a car-phone.

    It turns out that Simon has a small army of henchmen, and a secret plan that involves aheist. Luckily for our heroes the villains have an unnecessarily convoluted escape route. It turns out that a lot of things have been dumbed down to make the story smoother. Also, MacLane is a mad-dog killer who shoots first and does not even try to arrest suspects.

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  • Die Hard 4.0 AKA Live Free or Die Hard (2007)

    Die Hard 4.0 AKA Live Free or Die Hard (2007) John MacLane (Bruce Willis - Fifth Element ) is still in the NYPD, but has nothing better to do than hang around a college campus stalking - I mean, protecting - his daughter Lucy ( Mary Elizabeth Winstead ). Then he gets a call, to go and arrest computer hacker Justin Long ( Galaxy Quest, Jeepers Creepers ) ...

    Super-hacker Gabriel (Timothy Olyphant - Hitman ) does not limit himself to a building, an airport or even a city. He has decided to shut down the Eastern Seaboard of the USA. His girlfriend ( Maggie Q ) is also an ass-kicking assassin, which is lucky for him since he can get her to kill potential threats without having to pay her the going rate.

    Kevin Smith tries his hand at proper acting. Let's just say he was better as Silent Bob!

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  • Die Hard 5: A Good Day To Die Hard (2013)

    Die Hard 5 (2013) John MacLane (Bruce Willis - Fifth Element ) gets a lift to the airport with his daughter Lucy ( Mary Elizabeth Winstead ). This could have been the start of a great movie, with a kick-ass female leading the next generation of the the Die Hard Die-Nasty. Will they board a plane to Germany to face Hans Gruber's relatives?

    Unfortunately, Lucy stays home while daddy goes to Moscow alone. He must collect his wayward son (Jai Courtney - Spartacus: Blood and Sand ). Yes, the next generation of MacLanes is just an inferior copy of the original. This makes Courtney the new Sam Worthington. Remember how, a couple of years before this film, Worthington was the Australian who starred in remakes of classics like Clash of the Titans , franchise films like Terminator Salvation and blockbusters like Avatar ? Well, his fellow Australian Courtney has filled his niche with franchise films like Divergent, Terminator: Genesys, Suicide Squad .

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  • R.E.D. Franchise

    R.E.D. (2010)

    R.E.D. (2010) Bruce Willis ( GI Joe: Retaliation ) has taken early retirement from the CIA. He spends all day talking on the phone to helpdesk lady Mary Parker .

    Willis is attacked by trigger-happy goons who do not understand the concept of tactics. He himself does not believe in taking prisoners, so he has nobody to interrogate and thus no leads to investigate. Instead he gets together his old team from the Cold War days. This includes his old partner (John Malkovich - Warm Bodies ) and MI6 hit-person Helen Mirren . Even their arch-enemy, Ivan the KGB Agent (Brian Cox - Manhunter ) is on their side now!

    They take on the entire US Military-Industrial Complex, from their former CIA handler (Richard Dreyfus - Close Encounters of the Third Kind ) to the Vice President of the USA (Julian McMahon - Fantastic Four ). Karl Urban ( Judge Dredd ) is the CIA assassin called in to clean up the mess. The result is a lot of shootouts that owe a lot more to the story's comic-book origins than to any real-world laws of physics!

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  • R.E.D. 2 (2013)

    R.E.D. 2 (2013) Bruce Willis ( GI Joe: Retaliation ) and Mary Parker are living happily ever after in suburban bliss. John Malkovich ( Warm Bodies ) drops by to warn them, in his own inimitable way, that a wikileaks document has linked them to a CIA Black Op from 1968. Somehow this was only THIRTY-two years ago, so something is off with the timescale.

    CIA goon Neal McDonagh ( Arrow: Season 4 ) leads a hit-squad after the good guys. He even hires a world-class Korean assassin to hunt them down. Worse, MI6 send their best hit-person ( Helen Mirren ).

    Luckily, our heroes have a few allies, even if they do have dubious loyalties. These include a femme fatale ( Catherine Zeta Jones ), Ivan the KGB Agent (Brian Cox - Manhunter ) and a mad scientist (Anthony Hopkins - Hannibal ). Yes, the two actors who played Hannibal Lector in the movies have a scene together.

    The McGuffin is a red mercury nuke with a one-megaton yield. Strangely it does not obey the laws of physics - for example, an airburst would normally enhance the destructive power of an explosion, but here it seems to negate it. Also, a major atomic explosion near a major metropolitan area would normally result in a lot of nuclear fallout, but this does not appear to be a problem here.

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  • Hitman Franchise

    Hitman (2007)

    Hitman (2007) We get an expositionary intro stolen from the pilot episode of Dark Angel , as the baldy barcoded children escape from their school. . Basically, this is about super-assassins who can somehow blend in anywhere on earth, despite being bald-headed Caucasian men with barcodes tattooed on their heads. Seriously.

    The protagonist, Number 47 (Timothy Olyphant - The Crazies Die hard 4.0 ) must have been caught, because when he grows up he is a Hitman working for a secret Agency. He kills a Russian politician, gets hunted by the Head of local police (T-Bag from Heroes ), and then gets told he must kill a witness. Naturally the plot takes a couple of twists from there, and the Hitman must go on the run.

    He takes along the witness ( Olga Kurlenko ), a friendly Russian hooker who keeps our hero company and becomes his cliched love interest. Despite being a black-clad baldie with a barcode on his head and Interpol cops after him, he manages to remain remarkably inconspicuous.

    He goes on the offensive, and tracks down Desmond from Lost - the Russian President's wayward brother, an illegal arms dealer who becomes the Hitman's target.

    There are some great action scenes, but it is nothing we have not seen in John Woo films over the years.

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  • Hitman: Agent 47 (2015)

    Hitman: Agent 47 (2015) Agent 47 is back, although he now looks like Rupert Friend. His backstory has been rewritten, and the hitmen were now created by the Soviets rather than the Americans. His mission this time is to locate his progenitor (Ciaran Hinds - Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Cradle of Life ) before the Syndicate can use his knowledge and re-start their super-soldier program.

    Agent 47's first target is a young woman who is believed to be able to find the progenitor. However, a helpful fellow tries to protect the woman. The bad news is, he is Syler from Heroes .

    This is a low-budget straight-to-video effort. Well, the original film was not exactly big-budget either, but this has a cast of virtual unknowns. However, the small budget is well-spent on flashy visuals such as shoot-outs. Not exactly John Woo stuff, but the film-makers knew what their target audience wanted.

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  • Hitman: Redemption AKA Asher (2018)

    Hitman: Redemption (2018) This was directed by Michael Caton Jones , not some flashy action director, so you can expect characterisation and drama instead of gratuitous explosions. It might be shelved with the other movies in the Hitman series, but the killer is not a bald-headed superman with a barcode on the back of his neck. Instead, he relies on brains rather than CGI-enhanced acrobatics.

    The title character, Ashur (Ron Perlman - Season of the Witch ), is a former Mossad assassin who now freelances for the Jewish mob in Brooklyn, New York City. The godfather (Richard Dreyfus - Jaws (1975) ) gives him a special mission. A new gang has started moving in on the mob's territory, and someone has to make an example out of them. Ashur has to complete three kills in order to complete the contract.

    The hitman is past his best, and he knows it. He has a close brush with death - not at the hands of an enemy gunman, but due to a heart attack brought on by climbing too many staircases. Luckily this brings him into contact with a potential love interest - Famke Janssen . A pity that she is now the love interest of older men, instead of being the ass-kicking Xenia Onnatop she was back in Goldeneye (1995) .

    As a drama, the external conflict is somewhat limited. While the gangsters are in the background of the story, the main focus is on the protagonist's human side. In other words, it is all relatively slow-moving.

    Like all the best fictional hitmen, Asher prefers to work buy himself. However, he gets a good offer to team up with Peter Facinelli ( Hollow Man 2 ), and goes along to check out the mission.

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