ORBzine - C21st Techno-Thriller Remakes Movie Reviews

TITLE & REVIEW

Annie (2014)

Annie (2014) Annie is a young black girl who lives in New York City with a group of foster-siblings. Their foster-mother, Miss Hannigan ( Cameron Diaz ), is mean-spirited because she is lonely ... and she also regularly rejects the local grocer (David Zayas - Skyline ).

Annie escapes from poverty when she is adopted by a rich man. The White Saviour, AKA Daddy Warbucks, is William Stacks (Jamie Foxx - Django Unchained ). They are not the only race-bent characters. Instead of a Sikh chauffeur like in the original, Stacks has Mister Eko from Lost .

Although this remake was produced by Will Smith ( I Am Legend ) and his wife Jada Pinkett , it does not have an all-black cast. Stacks' white servants include his business manager Grace ( Rose Byrne ) and his election campaign manager (Bobby Cannavale - Ant-Man ). Although Byrne married Cannavale in real life, here she is Stacks' love interest. This could be considered problematic by some, since it implies a black man must be a billionaire in order to date Rose Byrne. Worse, it also validates workplace dating.

Stacks, the African-American billionaire, is running for election as the Mayor of New York. This makes him a cross between Obama and Trump, although he does not have the perceived negatives of either. Cannavale decides to bring Annie aboard the campaign, then later arbitrarily decides to hand her back to her birth parents. By incredible coincidence, Tracie Thoms turns up claiming to be her mother.

The original is a period piece with a thriller climax. This has a contemporary setting, and the thriller aspect is completely toned down. Instead of an exciting car chase, this time Annie is located through social media postings. Also, the female antagonist has been toned down and redeemed - which is fair enough, since two-dimensional villains are no more acceptable than Mary Sue protagonists - but the main villain is predictably a CIS Het White Male. Zero diversity in that department, to be certain.

Assault On Precinct 13 (2005)

Assault On Precinct 13 (2005)

This is a remake of a classic 1970s thriller by John Carpenter .

Bewitched (2005)

Bewitched (2005) Rather than just do a straight-up remake of the show, this has the original Bewitched as a story within a story. Basically, egotistical actor Jack Wyatt (Will Ferrell - Land of the Lost ) is hired for a remake of the original series. In a meta scene, an interviewer asks whether this is A cynical ploy by the Network to sell Nostalgia rather than taking chances on original material.

The twist is that Isabel ( Nicole Kidman ), the woman hired to play Samantha in the show, is a real-life witch. She has led a very sheltered life, since her magical powers give her anything she wants - the equivalent of being unbelievably rich. Now she has decided to live as an average human, and not use any of her magic powers - although she can turn back time to undo the outcome of any spells she regrets.

The theme of the movie is romance. For some inexplicable reason, Isabel is obsessed with Jack - probably because he is the first human man she speaks to. Her father (Michael Caine - Jaws 4 ) is stalked by her cow-orker Iris ( Shirley Maclaine ), while Jack's manager Ritchie (Jason Schwartzman - ) is targeted by Isabel's neighbour Maria ( Kristen Chenowith ).

The Box (2009)

The Box (2009) The original was a one-off story in a TV anthology show, over thirty years previously. This version is set in Virginia in the early 1970s. Well, a lot of twenty-first century thrillers are set in the pre-Internet era because suspense is harder to maintain if the characters can just google for exposition. However, this time and place is relevant to the story itself, which concerns the US space program of that era.

Cameron Diaz is approached by a strange man (Frank Langella - Masters of the Universe ) who gives her a box. Inside is a button, and if she presses the button then her family will get a million dollars. At the same time, someone she does not know will die. Will she press the button?

The protagonist gives in to temptation. Her husband (Matthew Marsden - ) starts to investigate the people who sent the box. Gillian Jacobs knows something about a conspiracy.

Death Wish (2018)

Death Wish (2018) Paul Kersey (Bruce Willis - Fifth Element ) is a surgeon who must obey the Hippocratic oath - first do no harm. He is happily married to Elizabeth Shue ), and they live in an upper-class suburb of Chicago. One day their house is burglarised, and Dr Kersey goes on a violent revenge spree.

The tone of this movie is quite uneven. In one scene, Kersey is an amateur who does not actually kill the suspects - they fall victim to incredibly unlikely fatal accidents like in Final Destination . In the next scene, Kersey performs torture-porn like something out of Hostel . Likewise, at times the film seems condemnatory of gun violence and the culture of gun proliferation that spawns it ... but the climax completely glamourises that same gun culture.

This was directed by Eli Roth from a script by Joe Carnahan , and it is a great disappointment. Especially when you consider that this is the last Bruce Willis film. After all, we cannot really count the dozen or so straight-to-video efforts he churned out in the months before his retirement.

Departed, The (2006)

Departed, The (2006) Ray Winstone ( Robin of Sherwood ) is a gangster in Boston, USA.

Martin Scorsese delivers a remake of Hong Kong thriller Infernal Affairs . The original may be regarded as obscure in the USA, but this remake won Academy Awards. However, this version alters many things - such as making the two rival traitors much closer in age - and this twists a lot of the meaning.

Edge of Darkness (2010)

Edge of Darkness (2010) Ray Winstone ( Robin of Sherwood ) is a British secret agent.

Equalizer, The (2014)

Equalizer, The (2014) Robert McCall (Denzel Washington - Virtuosity ) is a retired man who hangs out with night-shift workers. He befriends a local street-walker ( Chloe Grace Moretz ), and when she gets slapped around he goes after her pimp (Marton Czokas - Timeline ). Of course, the pimp works for the head of the Russian mob (David Harbour - Hellboy (2018) . Yes, this escalated quickly.

This is not the McCall of the 1980s TV show, who prefered a non-violent solution whenever possible and always worked within the confines of the law. This new version is more like Creasey in Man On Fire , a vengeance-fueled psychopath with a love for ultra-violence. Denzel is like the African-American version of Bruce Willis in R.E.D. , without that movie's light-hearted approach.

Equalizer 2, The (2018)

Equalizer 2, The (2018) Robert McCall (Denzel Washington - Virtuosity ) is a proud Black man who reads books by Ta-Nahesi Coates, but he spends his time playing at being a White Knight. When he is not beating up Turkish thugs in revenge for a woman losing custody of her daughter, he is beating up privileged White frat-boy types in revenge for a woman getting a suspected date-rape. To have one such scene is useful so that people who have not seen the original movie can understand the character. However, two such scenes in a row seems repetitive. If anything, the second one is just filler because the movie is very light on plot. There is even a sub-plot where McCall helps a local teenager who has fallen in with a street gang.

McCall is a former field agent for US Intelligence. A couple of his friends, Dave (Pedro Pascal - The Mandalorian ) and Susan ( Melissa Leo ), are sent to investigate a murder-suicide case in Belgium. One of the victims was a CIA informant, and the investigators are targeted for death as well. Then the suspects in the killings are mysteriously killed. Yes, for a supposedly low-key operation there is a massive trail of bodies.

In the first movie, McCall wipes out the entire Russian Mafia - including at their headquarters in Moscow. We see in the first act that he wipes out Turks and White thugs without mercy just to keep himself in practice ... Although he is merciful to Black thugs, which is nice of him. But how can this story have a fitting climax? Well, he is put up against a team of operators who all have the same training and experience as him. Somehow, even though they have better equipment and the weight of numbers, he wipes them out as easily as storm-troopers in Star Wars .

Flight of the Phoenix (2005)

Flight of the Phoenix (2005) This starts at an oil exploration site in the Gobi desert, somewhere in a remote part of Mongolia. A company executive (Hugh Laurie - Avenue 5 ) orders chief engineer Miranda Otto to shut down her operation as a cost-cutting measure. A pilot (Denis Quaid - Inner Space (1985) ) flies in to pick up the team boss (Tony Curran - League of Extraordinary Gentlemen ), the rough-neck (Jared Padalecki - Supernatural ) and the rest of the team. An aeronautical engineer (Giovanni Ribisi - The Gift ) hitches a lift home with them.

The plane is a 1950s cargo-lifter. When it runs into a massive sand-storm it is blown two hundred miles off-course and crashes somewhere over the border in Red China. In other words, rescue is technically unfeasible and politically unlikely. Luckily the hitch-hiker is a man with a plan. He designs a new plane made from pieces of the old one.

This was previously made as a British movie in the 1960s, set in the Kalahari desert in Africa. The new cast and different desert are not the only changes. While the cinematography is quite impressive, the director has chosen to add in lots of fake jeopardy and turn this survival drama into a fast-paced action movie. This change in pace is quite distracting.

Four Feathers, The (2002)

Four Feathers, The (2002) In 1884, Harry (Heath Ledger - The Dark Knight ) is a promising young officer in the British Army. He gets engaged to the beautiful Ethne ( Kate Hudson ), but his unit receives orders that they are to deploy to Sudan. Faced with the faint possibility of death, Harry decides to resign his commission and settle down with his fiance. Of course, things do not work out as he intends.

Harry is given four feathers from his friends - Castleton (Kris Marshall - ), Willoughby (Rupert Penry-Jones - The Strain ) and Trench (Michael Sheen - Underworld ) - as a symbol of his perceived cowardice. His best friend (Wes Bentley - Hunger Games ) does not send one ... but covets Ethne instead.

In order to regain his honour, Harry secretly travels to Sudan in disguise and tries to return the feathers to his friends. To do this he hires Gustave (Daniel Caltagirone - ) to smuggle him across the desert, and befriends Abou Fatma (Djimon Hounsou - Guardians of the Galaxy ).

The military campaign is completely misrepresented, presumably to make a political point. After all, this was made after the western allies liberated Afghanistan although before they invaded Iraq under dubious pretext. In reality, the British Army went to Sudan in order to save innocent muslims from an oppressive fanatic. In this version, the army attempts to relieve a British fort ... and falls into a deadl y ambush due to their inability to win the hearts and minds of the natives.

This is the most recent adaptation of a novel that seems to get a remake every twenty years or so. It was directed by Shekhar Kapur , who brings an impressive visual sense to the film. Certainly, this has been lacking in British cinema since the time of David Lean .

Fun With Dick And Jane (2005)

Fun With Dick And Jane (2005) Dick (Jim Carey - Bruce Almighty ) and Jane ( Tea Leoni ) are a middle-class suburban couple. The good news is that Dick gets a promotion at work, so Jane is able to quit the job that she hates. The bad news is that Dick's new job is to be a scapegoat when the company goes bankrupt.

With no way to earn a legitimate living, and the cost of their middle-class lifestyle now unaffordable, Dick and Jane turn to crime.

The original movie had a lot more for Jane Fonda to do. In contrast, this is basically another Jim Carey vehicle. The other main change is that this film, made in the wake of the Enron scandal, accurately predicts the economic collapse of 2008.

Get Carter! (2000)

Get Carter! (2000) Jack Carter (Sylvester Stallone - The Expendables ) is a top-level enforcer in Las Vegas. When he gets word that his brother died in mysterious circumstances, he returns home to Seattle and attends the funeral. The widow Gloria ( Miranda Richardson ) and her daughter, Jack's niece Doreen ( Rachael Leigh Cook ), do not appear to know anything. However, Cliff Brumby (Michael Caine - Jaws 4 ) refers Jack to a femme fatale named Geraldine ( Rhona Mitra ) who works for a pornographer called Cyrus (Mickey Rourke - Once Upon A Time In Mexico ) who is silent partner of a tech billionaire named Kinear (Alan Cumming - Goldeneye ). Before long, people start pressuring Carter to leave town ... and he knows that he is on the right track for revenge.

Carter has even more problems at his workplace in Vegas. Strangely, he seems oddly out of place with the Vegas mob - he is in a top-quality suit and tie, while they are in leather jackets and t-shirts. Even worse, Carter had an affair with the boss's woman ( Gretchen Mol ), and people are starting to talk. His partner Con McCarty (John C McGinley - ) has been killed off by the likes of Steven Seagal (On Deadly Ground) and Sean Connery ( The Rock ), so this will be another one for his list.

This tries to honour the original movie, by including a bunch of British stars (including Caine himself) but it has so much wrong with it. Why was it transposed to Seattle? The unique cityscape is ignored, and it looks like a generic US city of the type that are filmed in Vancouver or Toronto. Obviously, the city was chosen because it was a cyber-hub, home to Amazon and Microsoft. Perfect for a tech billionaire character, like where Boris from Goldeneye would have ended up. But the original was a grim and gritty thriller. This version is glossy and shiny on the surface, which does not suit the subject material. Carter is a violent psychopath, but this film tries to redeem him by minimising the violence he inflicts on everyone he meets. And the original's incredible ending - perhaps a cliche now when we look at films of that period - has been replaced with a far inferior one.

The Hitcher (2007)

Hitcher (2007) Grace Andrews ( Sophia Bush ) and her boyfriend Jim Halsey (Zachary Knighton - ) drive into New Mexico, USA. They wind up giving a lift to a hitch-hiker, John Ryder (Sean Bean - Goldeneye ). Unfortunately he is on a kill-crazy rampage, and plays a game of cat-and-mouse across the desert. Somehow he manages to keep track of them at all times, and constantly attacks them when and where they least expect it. Will State Police Officer Esteridge (Neal McDonough - R.E.D. 2 ) catch the madman before the entire cast is wiped out?

This differs from the original in a couple of ways. It is set in the era of the mobile phone, so that has to be dealt with in the First Act. Also, the presence of a female protagonist means there is greater caution and awareness of red flags. While this is a nice piece of realism that breaks the usual trope of genre-blindness, it is also gone after the First Act.

The greatest difference is in the Third Act. In the original movie, Jennifer Jason Leigh pops up at the end as a love interest and damsel-in-distress. This movie does a gender reversal, so it spends the whole movie building up the male character in order for the audience to be invested in his outcome. Anything less and he would be just another red-shirt. A sad indictment of the value that audiences automatically place upon female characters as opposed to male ones.

The Hustle (2019)

The Hustle (2019) Penny ( Rebel Wilson ) is a low-rent con-woman from Australia who flees New York and ends up in France. She crosses paths with Josephine ( Anne Hathaway ), who is a much more successful high-class con artiste.

Jennifer eventually realises she cannot get rid of Penny, so she recruits her to work on an elaborate con targeting Texas oil billionaire Howard Bacon (Dean Norris - Under The Dome ). However, their partnership is short-lived. They agree on a bet, the winner being the first one to con half a million dollars out of a dorky tech billionaire.

This is a gender-flipped version of classic comedy Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. It keeps the tone light-hearted because it is from the perspective of the comic-relief character. If it was from the perspective of Josephine, the more realistic and grounded character, then the tone would seem a lot more serious.

Italian Job, The (2003)

Italian Job, The (2003) Charlie Croker (Mark Wahlberg - The Big Hit ) has planned a perfect heist in Italy. Not Turin, because that would mean a car chase and they had to save that for the film's third act. Instead the heist is in Venice, so the chase scene uses boats.

Croker's crew is top-notch. John Bridger (Donald Sutherland - Hunger Games ) is the safe-cracker, Left Ear (Mos Def - Hitch-Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy ) is explosives, Handsome Rob (Jason Statham - Hobbs and Shaw ) is the getaway driver, Lyle (Seth Green - Austin Powers ) is tech support, and Steve (Ed Norton - Fight Club ) ... helps out. How Steve passed the background check is not explained, because his goatee beard is proof enough that he is untrustworthy. Rather than take his five-million-dollar share, he gets greedy and wants the whole lot. As a result, the team ends up on a bus hanging over a lake ...

A year later, Croker and his crew have located the thief in L.A. and they set out for revenge. Since they are two men down, Bridger's daughter ( Charlize Theron ) completes the crew as the new safecracker.

F. Gary Gray delivers a competent little heist movie. However, it basically gets lost among the others of the genre. The original had Brits in exotic locations, while this has a bunch of Americans in downtown Los Angeles - the cheapest filming location because every American cop show was set there. Licence To Kill flopped in part because the US audience saw the storyline as an extended episode of TV show Miami Vice. This movie falls victim to the same problem.

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014)

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014) Jack Ryan (Chris Pine - Star Trek ) gets invalided out of the USMC, but marries his doctor ( Keira Knightley ) and gets recruited into the CIA by Kevin Costner ( Waterworld ). Then he gets sent undercover on Wall Street for a few years.

Russian Oligarch Kenneth Branagh ( Mary Shelley's Frankenstein ) is planning to destroy the American economy somehow. Ryan is sent to Moscow to investigate. Unfortunately, his wife tags along to get in the way.

This is a run-of-the-mill thriller. Ryan's Cold War backstory from Hunt For Red October has been updated to the 21st Century.

Ladykillers, The (2004)

Ladykillers, The (2004)

The Coen Brothers deliver a remake of a classic Ealing Comedy.

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (2015)

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (2015) This is a re-imagining of the 1960s TV show. It is quite disappointing. Instead of being the story of UNCLE (United Network Command for Law Enforcement) fighting THRUSH (the Technological Hierarchy for the Removal of Undesirables and the Subjugation of Humanity) it starts with a lengthy briefing on what the Cold War was. Then the story starts, which passes only a slight resemblance to a 1960s TV show.

None of the characters or situations ring true to the original show. Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavil - Man of Steel ) is a CIA Agent who was formerly a looter and con-man. These are obviously references to Robert Vaughn’s roles in Brass Target and Hustle. He is reluctantly partnered with Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer - Lone Ranger ), who resembles the Robert Shaw character in From Russia With Love . The only thing he has in common with any David McCallum character is that he probably enjoys cutting up dead people, like Duckie in NCIS.

Manchurian Candidate, The (2004)

Manchurian Candidate, The (2004) This starts during the First Gulf War, 1991. US Army Captain Ben Marco (Denzel Washington - Virtuosity ) leads his unit - including Anthony Mackie ( Captain America: Winter Soldier ) and Pablo Schreiber ( American Gods ) - on a mission behind enemy lines. Ten years later, Marco explains to a crowd of citizens that Sergeant Raymond Shaw (Liev Shreiber - Scream ) won the Congressional Medal of Honour on that mission - which has since become famous as The Lost Patrol.

Raymond has been pushed into a career in politics by his mother, Senator Eleanor Prentiss Shaw ( Meryl Streep ) - a vicious pastiche of Hillary Rodham Clinton. She has her son replace her rival, Tom Jordan (Jon Voight - Lara Croft ), as nominated candidate for the Vice Presidency of the USA. Since Raymond's love interest is Jordan's daughter Jocelyn ( Vera Farmiga ), this illustrates the lengths his mother will go to achieve her aims.

Marco is confronted by one of his old unit, Corporal Melvin (Jeffrey Wright - Casino Royale ), who has been having mysterious nightmares about the events of the Lost Patrol. Marco denies having nightmares himself, but this is not entirely true. His superiors, Colonels Howard (Ted Levine - Silence of the Lambs ) and Garret (Miguel Ferrer - Robocop ), have him written off as a PTSD case. So are the mission's survivors going insane due to stress, or are they the victims of a conspiracy?

Marco eventually realises that the memories have something to do with Dr Atticus Noyle (Simon McBurney - Conjuring 2 ), a South African - and with Denzel's politics, Noyle's citizenship of the Apartheidt regime is shorthand for villainy.

Jonathan Demme delivers the kind of suspenseful thriller he perfected with Silence Of The Lambs . However, this has been updated a bit. The original novel by Richard Condon was set in the aftermath of the Korean war, and the titular reference to Manchuria was literal. In this new version, the plot is not by Red China but by a Mega-Corp named Manchurian Global. Yes, in the years after 9/11 - when the American public was rabidly xenophobic - the villains are shown as the enemy within. This was a risky choice for the film-makers, and may have contributed to the film's limited success.

Man on Fire (2004)

Man on Fire (2004) John Creasy (Denzel Washington - Virtuosity ) is a former CIA assassin who has fallen on hard times. He accepts a job as a bodyguard in Mexico.

Tony Scott delivers a big-budget remake of a 1980s straight-to-video effort, replacing Scott Glenn with Oscar-winner Washington.

Miami Vice (2006)

Miami Vice (2006) Sonny Crockett (Colin Farrell - Minority Report ) and his partner Tubbs (Jamie Foxx - Stealth ) are undercover cops in Miami, busting mid-level drug-dealers. When an FBI task-force gets out-gunned by a racist gang, the SAC (Ciaran Hinds - Lara Croft: Cradle Of Life ) calls in Crockett and Tubbs to sort things out.

The local problem is a white supremacist gang. Somehow they have elevated themselves above their usual level of swastika-tattooed ex-convicts and drug addicts. These ones have access to military-grade weapons and high-level counter-intelligence. Crockett and Tubbs become transportation sub-contractors, running the local smuggling operation for the international cartel that is behind the skinheads.

Tubbs is hooking up with fellow cop Trudy ( Naomi Harris ), while Crockett seduces gangster's white-collar moll Isabella ( Gong Li ). These love-interest sub-plots are important, because they humanise the main characters so the audience - especially female viewers - can relate to them. Beyond that, this is a grim shoot-out.

Michael Mann helmed this remake of the TV show he created in the 1980s. Unfortunately he has nobody to blame for the outcome. If the story seems familiar, that is because it shares many of the same tropes as Bad Boys 2 . That said, this is a much more serious version - so it comes across as grim and gritty, rather than the more OTT light-hearted approach of the other.

Mortal Kombat (2021)

Mortal Kombat (2021) This starts in the distant past, where a Chinese assassin goes after the family of a Japanese samurai. There are a couple of things we can take from this. The first is that this is the origin story for Subzero and Scorpion. The second is that this is a strange attempt at wokeness. The original story was about a group of heroes that were as diverse as the United Colours of Beneton. This version seems to fall into the racist stereotype of Asian Person equals martial arts expert. Although it was filmed in Australia, they might as well have filmed it in Red China with an all-Chinese cast.

In the modern day, Scorpion's Eurasian descendent is a cage-fighter with the exciting name of Johnny Cage. Since Subzero is still out to kill everyone of Scorpion's bloodline, in an attempt to cheat at the Mortal Kombat tournament, Luckily, Johnny is saved by the token black guy, Jax (Mechad Brooks - Supergirl ), who sends him to the token white woman - Sonya Blade. She provides some exposition, telling us that the Mortal Kombat tournament. For example, apparently it was known throughout all ancient cultures around the world. So do we get an African contestant, or a Viking one? Well, the only two non-Asian contestants that Sonya knows of are men who won the magical seal by killing its previous owner. Yes, the actual official invites are only for Asian fighters.

The other non-Asian fighter is Kano, a caucasian Australian male. He is usually represented as a villain and antagonist towards Sonya. Here he reluctantly cooperates with her, which is good because he is easily the most interesting character. Although he is clearly a strong fighter - he is a mere mortal human, but manages to kill TWO officially invited fighters - it is a simple task for Sonya to best him every single time.

Ocean's Eleven (2001)

Ocean's Eleven (2001) Steven Soderbergh delivers an unnecessary remake to the unnecessary original. Back in the 1960s, Frank Sinatra and his Rat Pack buddies cooked up a mediocre heist movie so they could be paid to hang out together in their favourite party town, Las Vegas. Now, in the era of the reboot, we get this star-studded rehash.

Danny Ocean (George Clooney - Solaris ) gets paroled from prison for getting caught doing a robbery. Once he is out he meets up with his sidekick, Rusty (Brad Pitt - Fight Club ), and they plot the biggest robbery in history. Ocean has a plan to rob a vault that contains the cash reserves of a chain of casinos in Las vegas. To do this, they need a team of nine other men - all of whom are played by recognisable actors.

In a sub-plot, Ocean's ex-wife Tess ( Julia Roberts ) is now shacked up with Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia - ) - the owner of the casino chain they are robbing.

This is the best film of the series. It is hard-nosed enough to work, and nowhere near as up itself as the others.

Ocean's Twelve (2004)

Ocean's Twelve (2004) Steven Soderbergh delivers an unnecessary sequel to the unnecessary remake. While the previous effort was a halfway decent heist movie, this is more over-blown and star-packed.

Danny Ocean (George Clooney - Solaris ) and his sidekick, Rusty (Brad Pitt - Fight Club ), have been tracked down by Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia - ). He gives them two weeks to pay back everything they stole, plus the interest he feels they owe him. Since he already got full compensation from the insurance company, his financial demands are petty and spiteful.

Ocean's Eleven head to Europe, where a Fence (Robbie Coltrane - Harry Potter ) gives them a job. However, they play into the hands of the Night Fox (Vincent Cassel - Brotherhood of the Wolf ), the world's greatest capoeira-dancing cat-burglar. He offers the Americans a contest. If they can steal a specific Faberge egg before he does, he will pay their debt to Benedict in full.

In a sub-plot, Rusty's ex-lover ( Catherine Zeta Jones is now the Europol Special Agent in charge of catching the robbers. Naturally, these plot-threads overlap very quickly.

When things go badly wrong, Ocean's wife Tess ( Julia Roberts ) gets flown in to help out. This allows a scene that technically passes the Bechdel test.

This movie has a lot of celebrity cameos shoehorned in, but that is not the worst thing about it. The storyline itself is absurd, and relies on numerous convoluted twists that make the whole thing ridiculous. Not exactly the untruthful narrator, but certainly a lot of deliberate omission.

Ocean's Thirteen (2007)

Ocean's Thirteen (2007) The previous movies charted Ocean's grudge against Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia - ). Now it is time for a new villain to take the stage. Reuben Tishkoff (Elliott Gould - ), eldest member of Ocean's team, gets ripped off and almost dies because of a crooked hotel moghul named Willy Bank ( ). Now Ocean and the rest of the gang get back together in order to take Bank for everything they can get.

Bank now controls the newest, biggest hotel in Las Vegas. He is backed up by his right-hand-woman Abigail Sponder ( Ellen Barkin ) and technical genius Greco Montgomery (Julian Sands - ). This means the Eleven need an extra member ...

There is also a subplot involving a tourist (David Paymer - Chill Factor ) whose stay at Bank's hotel is sadistically sabotaged by Ocean's team. This pays off wonderfully in the final scene.

Steven Soderbergh delivers a movie that is completely beneath him. It is filled with needless complexities and pointless twists. The entire thing is smug and self-referential beyond belief.

Ocean's Eight (2018)

Ocean's Eight (2018) Debbie Ocean ( Sandra Bullock ) gets out of prison, and visits the grave of her brother Danny Ocean (George Clooney - Solaris ). Reuben Tishkoff (Elliott Gould - ), eldest member of Ocean's team, tells her not to seek revenge. Not on Terry or whoever is responsible for Danny's apparent demise, but on her own ex-lover (Richard Armitage - Robin Hood ) for double-crossing her.

Debbie gets an all-girl crew together to do a heist. Instead of doing a manly target like a Vegas casino, Debbie has a more feminine target in mind - the Met Gala. To do this they need a movie star up front. They get Anne Hathaway , playing an actress who looks like her but has a different name. Totally unlike the idea of using Tess ( Julia Roberts ) to impersonate the real Julia Roberts.

Steven Soderbergh took a back seat on this one, working as Producer while Gary Ross took the Director's chair. The result is a mediocre entry into a less-than-mediocre franchise.

Philadelphia Experiment (2012)

Philadelphia Experiment (2012) A scientist named Richard Faulkner (Ryan Robbins - Sanctuary ) treats his boss, soulless corporate bitch Kathryn Moore ( Gina Holden ), to a display of a new technology he has invented. The good news is, he can make a car invisible. The bad news is, when they reverse the process they also summon the US Navy destroyer USS Eldridge from a temporal warp it has been stuck in since 1944.

The sole survivor, Lieutennat Bill Gardner (Nicholas Lea - X-Files ) teams up with his own grandaughter - a waitress named Molly Gardner ( Emilie Ullerup ). They go on the run together, pursued by Gina's bloodthirsty goon Hagan (Michael Pare - ). Luckily, Professor Salinger (Malcolm McDowell - Clockwork Orange ) - the scientist behind the original experiment in 1944 - helps them put right the mistakes he made.

The ship keeps phasing in and out of reality, appearing at seemingly random areas on Earth and causing untold damage. To stop this happening, they must return the survivor to his ship.

This is a made-for-TV effort, shot for SyFy channel in Vancouver. The plot is a basic disaster movie, but the fact it is an official remake puts it above the usual mock-buster fare. Also, the cast is pretty decent for such a movie.

Race to Witch Mountain (2009)

Race to Witch Mountain (2009) This is a remake of 1970s kids movie Escape from Witch Mountain . Made for a modern audience, it has a great cast and state-of-the-art CGI SPFX. If anything, that might be part of the problem. This is a mega-budget movie aimed at children. The only thing it is remembered for these days is the meme it inspired, showing the first time the main characters meet.

A UFO crashes in the Nevada desert, near Las Vegas. TV reporter Natalie Gann ( Meredith Salenger ) gets there, but the real work is done by MIBs led by Henry Burke (Ciaran Hinds - Lara Croft: Cradle of Life ). With the help of his sidekick (Tom Everett Scott - American Werewolf in Paris ) they try to save the world from alien invaders.

A Las Vegas cab driver (The Rock - GI Joe: Retaliation ) gets an unwelcome fare - a couple of strange children. The girl is AnnaSophia Robb , and her brother is Alexander Ludwig ( Vikings ). They are being pursued by the MIBs, and an alien assassin. Luckily the kids have superpowers. To start with, they can take all the money from an ATM without even using a bank card. They are telekinetic, and have other abilities that are introduced as the plot requires.

Luckily, there is a Science Fiction convention in town. Most of the attendees are portrayed as geeky losers, but the Rock and the kids get help from alien investigator Carla Gugino who is giving a lecture there.

The alien children must go to Witch Mountain, a secret MIB installation where the crashed UFO is stored. This leads up to a climactic encounter of sorts. Just as the alien assassin is infinitely more powerful than the MIBs SWAT team, so the Rock can easily beat up a few nerdy scientists.

Robocop (2014)

Robocop (2014) This is the Robocop story remade as a police procedural tale, with all the familiar tropes. The hero's partner is a Token Black Guy (Michael K. Williams - Flash Forward ). The satire is provided by Samuel L. Jackson ( Kingsman ) as an Uber-right-wing TV pundit. This is PG-13, so there is no swearing. There may be a lot of violence, but much like in Hayes Code films people may get blown up or shot but they never bleed. Robocop himself has a Taser - a Less Lethal weapon, but he still uses it to threaten his victims with torture.

Michael Keaton ( Batman ) and Gary Oldman ( Batman Begins ) create a black-clad superhero who acts as if he were above the law. Only Corporate goon Mattox (Jackie Earl Haley - Watchmen ) thinks this is a bad idea.

OCP builds killer robots for occupation duty in Third World countries (Iraq, Afghanistan, etc.). They are built to military specifications, and are not legally fit for Police Actions. Robocop is built as a prototype, combining the Central Nervous System of Detroit cop Alex Murphy with the body of a robot. However, he still has the conscience (and thus, the reflexes) of a mortal man. The OCP team remove this human element, so Robocop becomes more . well, robotic. Of course, this defies the whole purpose of using a human brain - the conscience! How will this go bad? Just watch!

On the bright side, Murphy's wife ( Abbie Cornish ) has a much bigger role in this version.

Rollerball (2002)

Rollerball (2002) Jonathan (Chris Klein - ) is an American athlete whose taste for extreme sports stunts has ruined his chances of a career in mainstream sports. Instead, he gets himself hired by Petrovich (Jean Reno - Godzilla (1998) ) for a game called Rollerball. This is an extreme sport played in a series of third world countries in central Asia, such as Borat's homeland in Khazakstan.

Our hero discovers that Petrovich is rigging the game, and injuring players for profit. Since the bland white protagonist is unlikely to get hurt, the audience's affections are switched to his more expendable friends. Which one will be the sacrificial lamb - token black guy Marcus Ridley (LL Cool J - S.W.A.T. ) or heteronormative love interest Aurora ( Rebecca Romijn-Stamos )?

Not only does the protagonist have to win in the game, he also has to defeat the villain's minions. Sanjay (Naveen Andrews - Lost ) is the brains, while Serokin (David Hemblen - Earth: Final Conflict ) is the brawn.

The original was set in a dystopian future. In comparison, this was set in contemporary third world nations that had more in common with 1970s America than with the future. That is an interesting comentary in its own right, making it seem that the Clinton administration had created such a utopia that it seemed impossible for America's future to take a down-slide.

Stepford Wives (2004)

Stepford Wives (2004) This is a complete mess of a film that fails on almost every level. Well, the cast is impressive – but that is only because the Producers threw money at the project. In fact, the awesome cast just makes it even more obvious what a terrible movie this is. The audience's expectations are raised to unrealistic levels. This was the directorial debut of Frank Oz ( The Muppets ), and suffered from a massive amount of studio interference. Unfortunately these facts just sound like pathetic excuses. The main problem is that the film-makers seem to have felt that the original is so well-known that it was impossible to play the tropes straight, as was done a dozen years later in Get Out! , and instead merely produced a terrible parody of the terrifying original.

Successful career-woman Joanna Eberhart ( Nicole Kidman ) is a TV producer, who works as showrunner for a Reality TV show. Her newest show, Balance of Power , revels in the fact that females now have more power in their romantic relationships than their male partners do ... and thus encourages the women to trade up. This why, a decade later, the Right Wing in the USA would adopt the term cuck (short for cuckold) as a generic slur for any males who oppose their views. The catchphrase is I can do better, although in real-life that turns out not to be the case. A small number of men are deemed attractive and can play the field, but they have no incentive to settle down with one woman. Especially not, as this show indicates, a middle-aged woman who has half a dozen male models sharing her between them. Anyway, the middle-aged ex-husband objects - and the resultant shooting spree means the TV show gets shut down.

The now-unemployed Joanna and her minion/husband Walter Kresby (Matthew Broderick - Godzilla (1998) ) leave the big city and move to a sleepy little suburban town named Stepford. Joanna befriends her new neighbour, the slobbish Bobbie Markowitz ( Bette Midler ), who is married to Dave Markowitz (Jon Lovitz - ). The two women discover there is not much for them to do in the town, except hang out with a gaggle of 1950s-type housewives led by Claire Wellington ( Glenn Close ). Meanwhile, Walter and Dave fall under the influence of Mike Wellington (Christopher Walken - View To A Kill (1985) ) who runs the town's Men's Association. Joanna and Bobbie team up with token gay man Roger Bannister (Roger Bart - Hostel 2 ) to investigate the reason why the town has apparently reverted to 1950s-style suburbanism.

This movie has absolutely no subtlety, and even lacks internal consistency. The most obvious problem with the film is that the male conspiracy is not properly defined. Does it involve brainwashing or robots? Apparently there is a deleted scene which explains that the bodies are robots, but the brains are brainwashed. For some reason this scene was removed, rendering the plot incoherent. All this was made clear in a deleted scene, which proves that the editing made this film worse rather than better.

One of the great ironies of the original film was that, despite its pre-feminist agenda it was derided by actual feminists who assumed that portrayal was the same as endorsement. Decades later, this toxic assumption is still key to the censorship mindset.

Straw Dogs (2011)

Straw Dogs (2011) A writer, David Sumner (James Marsden - X-Men ), and his wife Amy ( Kate Bosworth ) move from the Big City to smalltown USA. Her father has died and left her his old house. In order to fix it up, she reluctantly hires her ex-boyfriend Charlie (Alexander Skarsgard - True Blood ) and his buddy Bic (Drew Powell - Gotham ).

The title of the film refers to Straw Dogs that are used at Chinese festivals. David explains that they are briefly venerated, then cast aside when their purpose is served. Just like men like Charlie and Bic, whose success peaked at High School Football and who have no place in the adult world.

The movie has an impressive cast. The likes of Walton Goggins ( Django Unchained ) and Anson Mount ( ) pop up in relatively minor roles.

The third act is basically a subplot that takes over from the main plot. The town's former football Coach (James Woods - ) is upset because his teenage cheerleader daughter ( Willa Holland ) spends all her time flirting with the town's special needs person (Dominic Purcell - Blade Trinity ). When the Coach leads Charlie and Bic on the warpath, their victim seeks shelter with David and Amy. This leads to a violent conclusion.

S.W.A.T. (2003)

S.W.A.T. (2003) Sergeant Hondo (Samuel L Jackson - Star Wars: TPM ) runs the LAPD's best Special Weapons and Tactics unit. When he has to fire Brian Gamble (Jeremy Renner - Avengers ), he sets up a whole new team. Jim Street (Colin Farrell - Fright Night ) is the star, but the numbers are made up with SWAT rookies. The team needs a token female, and Michelle Rodriguez has a reputation for brutality against suspects, so she is picked for the unit. Deke (LL Cool J - Deep Blue Sea ) rounds out the main cast.

A big-time figure in organised crime, Alex Montel (Olivier Martinez - ), flies into Los Angeles for some personal business. Unfortunately there is a warrant out for his arrest. When he publicy offers a hundred-million-dollar reward for his rescue from police custody, every criminal in the city tries to bust him out. It becomes SWAT's job to transport him across town.

GQ (Domenick Lombardozzi - ) tries a small-scale breakout, but just makes things worse. Despite the plethora of low-level thugs willing to have a go, it turns out that someone with a high level of sophistication is planning a professional assault.

This is the problem with a lot of movies - a man in an iron suit can only fight another man in iron, while a monster can only fight another monster. The SWAT team basically have to engage their foe on a level playing field, in a simple game that can clearly only have one outcome.

Sweeney, The (2012)

Sweeney, The (2012) Regan (Ray Winstone - Robin of Sherwood ) runs a team of cops called the Flying Squad, nicknamed The Sweeney (after Sweeney Todd ). They specialise in catching violent armed robbers, usually by dishing out more violence than the robbers themselves. This is based on a TV show from the 1970s, and Regan inspired the character of Gene Hunt in 1970s-set Life On Mars . Of course, Gene Hunt was played for laughs because a tough-guy copaganda show is unthinkable in the modern day. Until the TV show Luther starring Idris Elba ( 28 Weeks Later ), because a black man can portray a thuggish cop without attracting criticism.

The Sweeney team has been updated from the 1970s. Instead of being all-white and all-male, there is a Token Black Guy ... and a token woman, Nancy Lewis ( Hayley Attwell ). If this was an American movie, she would probably be in the role of a gender-swapped Carter - Regan's sidekick and protege. Instead she is just a love interest, and a way to motivate the male protagonists. The Carter we end up with (Ben Drew) is a former street thug turned police detective - like a version of Eggsy in Kingsman on played straight in a film noir setting instead of a comedy-thriller.

The Sweeney get a case they cannot solve. Their boss, Frank Haskins (Damien Lewis - Your Highness ), tries to protect them. However, the Internal Affairs investigator is the husband of Lewis. Yes, not only does Regan embody everything that epitomises poor policing but he is also having an affair with the investigator's wife. The good news is that, because a detective can only solve a tough case while on suspension, it is only a matter of time before this happens.

At the end of the day, this is a nasty dirty thriller that glamourises police brutality. The people responsible used all the cliches they could find, and avoided every attempt to update the setup. If they had bothered to race-bend or gender-bend the characters, in line with standard procedure in North American reboots like Battlestar Galactica (2003) , this might actually have been a successful film.

The Thing About Charlie (2002)

The Thing About Charlie (2002)

This is a remake of the classic 1960s thriller, Charade by Alfred Hitchcock .

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011)

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011)

This is based on a Cold War novel, and was originally adapted by the BBC in the late 1970s. Although this movie was made in 2011, nothing was really changed or updated so the film-makers basically spent their mega-budget making their movie look like a cheap 1970s BBC TV show.

Total Recall (2012)

Total Recall (2012) This has been slated by fans of the original, which is one of the best films Arnold Schwarzenegger has ever made. But in all fairness, it steals from a lot of other films as well.

Doug Quaid (Colin Farrell - Minority Report ) lives in a dystopia, like in Blade Runner . The whole economy depends on slum-dwellers like Quaid and his best buddy (Bokeem Woodbine - Blade: The Series ) who commute through the Earth's core to the other side of the world. They work in a factory to build Cohaagen's army of killer robots (like in I, Robot ). Of course, Cohaagen plans to use his robots to kill and replace the slum-dwellers. Star Wars I: Phantom Menace , anyone?

The character of Richter does not appear in this version of the film. Instead, he is amalgamated with his wife. This, of course, removes the murderous motivation of the pursuer - but who cares, right? And instead of getting Michael Ironside, who looks like he can take on Arnie, we get a generic action-babe (like in Underworld ).

In the film In Bruges, Farrell's dim-witted Irish hitman proclaims that, in the coming Race-War, I'm fighting for the Blacks! Well, this film actually makes it come true. To American audiences, the villains are the British Empire and the heroes are the Colonial Separatists - the American Founding Fathers reborn in Australia. However, a deeper exploration of the film shows far more disturbing themes. The UK has been taken over by a US President named Cohaagen (Bryan Cranston - X-Files ), a right-wing extremist straight out of the Tea Party. The Al-Qaeda and Taliban have relocated to Australia, where they continue their anti-Imperialist struggle. Hauser (Farrell, with a goatee beard - marking him as an evil twin!) was assigned to kill Matthias Bin Laden (Bill Nighy - Pirates of the Caribbean 2 & 3 ). Instead, he defects - his intent to take out a Pentagon's worth of robots and change the New World Order.

Melinda ( Jessica Biel ) pops up to help Quaid when things get tough for him, and to act as a compulsory love interest. But other than that she has little or nothing to do.

The final climax, of course, boils down to Colin Farrell brawling with the dad from Malcolm in the Middle. Seriously.

  • Total Recall (1990)
  • Welcome To Sudden Death (2020)

    Welcome To Sudden Death (2020) Unusually for a race-swapped remake, this does not star Denzel Washington. The original was a vehicle for Jean Claude Van Damme ( Replicant ), so it is perhaps more fitting that the star should be Michael Jai White ( Accident Man ).

    A group of armed intruders take over a sports stadium in a major US city, and rig the place with explosives. Luckily, one of the security guards is a Special Forces guy with martial arts skills, so he takes the intruders out in a Die Hard type scenario. Yes, this is a remake of what was basically a 1990s mockbuster.

    The big thing about the original was that it was set in a stadium where the roof opened, allowing an impressive climax involving a helicopter. Since this new version is set in a different stadium, the final action scene is a lot less impressive. Seriously, the one thing that the original had going for it is the one thing that this movie actually lacks.

    1990s Remakes

    Eye of the Beholder (1999)

    Eye of the Beholder (1999) The British embassy in Washington DC sends its surveillance expert (Ewan McGregor - Star Wars: Phantom Menace ) to keep an eye on the boss's twenty-something son. He stumbles into a plot by Joanna Eris ( Ashley Judd ), a serial killer. He becomes obsessed with her, and continues to follow her on her murderous spree from State to State.

    This is based on a novel set in the 1950s, and has a certain surreal quality due to the deliberately anachronistic production design.

    The film does suffer slightly from miscasting. McGregor is just too young for his role. Judd seems much more mature and worldly than him, while his character in the original story is much older than her. After all, the whole story is based on him being a father figure to her.

    The Fugitive (1993)

    The Fugitive (1993) This starts with Dr Richard Kimble (Harrison Ford - Star Wars: ANH ) on trial for the murder of his wife ( Sela Ward ). We get a flashback to the night in question, when they were at a charity fund-raiser with their buddy Chuck Nichols (Jeroen Krabbe - The Living Daylights ). Unfortunately, Kimble is convicted on shoddy grounds - his fingerprints are found at his own home - and sentanced to death.

    While the convict is being transported, one of the other inmates gets violent. The vehicle crashes, and the protagonist escapes. US Marshal Sam Gerard (Tommy Lee Jones - Amazing Howard Hughes ) and his team, including Cosmo Renfro (Joe Pantoliano - The Matrix ), show up to catch the fugitive. Well, the old guard (Richard Riehle - ) and Sheriff Rawlins (Nick Searcy - Dark Skies ) are both incompetent.

    Although this is nominally about the fugitive, an innocent man wrongly convicted by an unsympathetic system, this version is more of a copaganda piece. Sam Gerard is a co-equal lead, like the Pacino character in Heat (1995) , thus giving undue sympathy to the side of law enforcement.

    In the original TV series, Kimble works menial blue-collar jobs to survive. This time he becomes a janitor in a hospital, covering for an incompetent female doctor ( Julianne Moore ), in order to track down the one-armed man (Andreas Katsulas - Babylon 5 ) who killed his wife. He uncovers a conspiracy involving Big Pharma, which is still an issue thirty years later.

    While Kimble is on the run, he encounters a few familiar faces. they include Doctor Kathy Wahlund ( Jane Lynch ) and a Transit Cop (Neil Flynn - Smallville ).

    There is a cliche that in every movie set in San Francisco, there is a chase scene through Chinatown that goes through the middle of a Chinese New Year parade. This movie turns it on its head, using a St Patrick's Day parade in Chicago.

    The movie works well as an aid to historical analysis. For example, it seems to mark the point where the shift was made from the long hair of the 1980s to the ponytail of the 1990s. Likewise, the mechanism of Kimble's investigation is updated. In the 1960s, gaining access to medical records would involve accessing a metal filing cabinet with paper files. This 1990s movie has computer terminals using command-line interface to access records stored on a central server. A movie in the twenty-first century would have full Internet access for the server, allowing exposition from a hacker instead of a complicated sequence of scenes showing the character getting physical access to the hospital.

  • US Marshals (1998)
  • Getaway, The (1994)

    Getaway, The (1994)

    John Badham delivers an all-star remake of the 1970s classic thriller. In all fairness there are no real technological updates, either on-screen or behind the scenes, so this film is pretty much entirely pointless.

    Heat (1995)

    Heat (1995) Neil Macauley (Robert Deniro - Goodfellas ) is a specialist in armed robbery. With his team-mates, Chris (Val Kilmer - Willow ) and Michael (Tom Sizemore - Red Planet ), he takes down some big scores. Unfortunately the new guy, Waingrow, is a loose cannon who messes up a simple heist. Yes, this is yet another take on the old bank robbery gone wrong trope that Tarantino pastiched in Reservoir Dogs . That is, QT took it from Hong Kong thriller B>City on Fire - which was no doubt influenced by 1970s American movies. In a meta twist, the Fixer who sets up the deals (Jon Voight - ) is based on the real-life Eddie Bunker - best known as Mister Blue ...

    This was written and directed by Michael Mann . Technically it is a remake of L.A. Takedown, a made-for-TV movie that Mann made as a pilot episode that was never taken up as a TV show. However, the story is more complicated than that. Mann originally wrote it as a full-length cinematic movie, then trimmed the script down for the television version. Finally, six years later he got to make the full-length version.

    Payback (1999)

    Payback (1999) Porter (Mel Gibson - Braveheart ) narrates the story. He is a robber who was double-crossed by his wife ( Deborah Kara Unger ) and partner, Val Resnik (Gregg Henry - Just Before Dawn ). They left him for dead, and now he wants payback.

    Porter interrogates a low-level dealer named Stegman (David Paymer - Chill Factor ), who hangs around with a corrupt cop (Bill Duke - Predator ). Then he teams up with a high-class call-girl named Rosie ( Maria Bello ), who he used to provide personal security for.

    Val has bought his way back into the Outfit, where he works for Carter (William Devane - ) and Fairfax (James Coburn - ), who answer to Bronson (Kris Kristopherson - Blade ). To fit his sadistic inclinations, Val has a bondage relationship with Pearl ( Lucy Liu ), a Chinese-American dominatrix. Yes, the list of opponents for Porter to overcome is growing all the time.

    This is a remake of the classic John Boorman thriller Point Blank, although it is credited as a re-adaptation of the original novel. Even in the 1960s version pointed out that high-value cash transactions were a rarity, and most money transfers of large amounts were done by computer.

    The real problem with the film is that there are no civilians. Everyone in it is somehow involved with The Outfit, which makes them bad people who do bad things to other bad people. In other words, it is a less comic-booky version of Sin City . That said, it is over-the-top in its own way. Porter delivers violence in very dramatic and public ways, and the emergency services only show up when convenient to the plot. All in all, a brain-dead action thriller.

    Reservoir Dogs (1992)

    Reservoir Dogs (1992) A gang of thieves meet up after a robbery that ended in a shoot-out with the police. Yes, this is yet another take on the old bank robbery gone wrong trope.

    Quentin Tarantino kick-started his career with a script heavily inspired by Hong Kong thriller B>City on Fire - which was no doubt influenced by 1970s American movies.

    The Thomas Crown Affair (1999)

    The Thomas Crown Affair (1999) Thomas Crown (Pierce Brosnan - Nomads ), a billionaire playboy, is suspected in the theft of a famous painting. NYPD detectives McCann (Denis Leary -( Demolition Man ) and Paretti (Frankie Faison - Silence of the Lambs ) are stumped until they get help from Catherine Banning ( Rene Russo ), an insurance investigator who will get five percent of the value of any stolen items she locates. Since the missing picture is worth a hundred million dollars, she will be even richer than she already is if she wins.

    Crown spends most of his time with his underlings, like his Lawyer Andrew Wallace (Ben Gazzara - Roadhouse) and his psychiatrist ( Faye Dunaway ). It seems he may have stolen the painting purely for the thrill of the cat-and-mouse game with Catherine. As she plays along, it seems like he might be dragging her into his game.

    John McTiernan delivers a decent heist movie, not a full-on comedy version like the Ocean's Eleven series - but not a hard-boiled film noir either. It hits the right spot, focusing on the romantic relationship between Crown and Catherine. The camerawork is impressive, showing off the exotic locations. Since this was shot in Manhattan a couple of years before 9/11, there are at least two shots with the Twin Towers in full view.

    US Marshals (1998)

    US Marshals (1998) While the convict is being transported, one of the other inmates gets violent. The vehicle crashes, and the protagonist escapes. US Marshal Sam Gerard (Tommy Lee Jones - Amazing Howard Hughes ) and his team, including Cosmo Renfro (Joe Pantoliano - The Matrix ), show up to catch the fugitive. How can the same shit happen to the same guy twice? Well, this is what Gerard does for a living.

    This time the fugitive, Sheridan (Wesley Snipes - Blade ) is accused of killing two Federal Agents. He himself is a secret agent with a deadly skillset, so CIA boss Lamb (Patrick Malahide - Long Kiss Goodnight ) sends along a hitman of his own - Royce (Robert Downey Jnr - Iron Man ). For some reason Royce is nowhere near as good as Sheridan, losing out to him several times throughout the movie. Although Downey is clearly the better actor, his character seems sadly incompetent and non-threatening. That said, Gerard has forgotten how much he supposedly softened in the first movie. Here he is a hard-ass, chewing out Royce at every opportunity and ignoring how Sheridan is not the cold-blooded killer that the CIA has made him out to be.

    It turns out that Sheridan was accused of stealing a briefcase filled with secret documents. This is straight out of the 1970s, but the thriller genre has been slow to update itself. Those secrets were to do with the USAF defences on the Korean peninsula, something that Red China would happily pay for. At least this bit has not aged too badly.