Without Remorse

 

What is the movie about? :: A group of US Navy SEALs are led by Senior Chief John Kelly (Michael B Jordan) through Aleppo in Syria, while the Syrian Civil War is at its peak, and ISIS has a considerable presence in the country. In between all the destruction that they see around them, their mission is to rescue a CIA agent who was earlier taken hostage by ISIS members. But they are shocked and surprised as they come across what seems to a Russian arms depot and not an ISIS safehouse, and the people they were fighting seemed like experts. It turns out that Deputy Director Robert Ritter (Jamie Bell) knew that the mission involved fighting the Russian military, and the team, without knowing what they were facing, only manages to survive and escape with the hostage before an airstrike is called on the location. But only three months later, the military officers who were involved in the operation are murdered one after the other, while John spends his time at home with his pregnant wife Pamela M Kelly (Lauren London) after retiring from the force.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: It turns out that John’s home is also attacked at night, and even though he is able to kill one of the attackers, his wife and the unborn baby are killed, while he ends up in critical condition at the hospital. It turns out that it was a group of Russian FSB operatives who attacked them, and it turns out that it is a retaliation for what happened in Syria. But, Robert is not interested in going through the investigation, as even though it is a foreign attack on the US soil, CIA considers the scores settled, with no need to escalate it as an international problem between two nations and their allies around the world. There is also nothing to link the FSB members to the Russian government either. Lt Commander Karen Greer (Jodie Turner-Smith) helps John with the needed information, and he takes matter into his hands, as he tracks down the Russian diplomat who issued the passports to the FSB operatives He forces him at gunpoint to provide the name of the surviving assassin, before killing him.

And what else is to happen here? :: John does get the escaped name as Victor Rykov (Brett Gelman), but is sent to prison for what he had done. He also has a fight in the prison, but gets himself in control as he is given an audience with CIA and the rest of the US Department of Defence. United States Secretary of Defense Thomas Clay (Guy Pearce) decides that he would send John with the other operatives to find Victor, as his anger, determination and need for vengeance can be used effectively even though nobody else is certain about it. But even though they travel to Russia in a cargo plane undercover, they are discovered by a Russian fighter plane which shoots them down. This leads to the relation between the United States and Russia reaching a new low after Cold War. They just manage to escape as the flight lands in the sea, and John’s doubts about Robert gets to a new high as he hadn’t taken the same flight with them. Even though he repeats that he knows nothing, there is the feeling that there is something clearly wrong about this particular mission.

The defence of Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse :: We always love to have a movie with a high revenge element turn into something with an international conspiracy. There is enough suspense being built here, and we have some twists to add to it, as many things here are not exactly as what they seem. The action is good, and it is mostly focused on shooting, with the support of some explosions, and the feeling of war is always there, even when it is not really on the screen. The sequences are nicely done, not just with the fights, but also with the settings, reminding one of those nice first person and third person games which we have played in the past – after all, the gamers of early 2000s will surely remember games like Rainbow Six and what followed, including Rogue Spear, Take Down, Raven Shield and others which are also based on the works of Tom Clancy, and took the shooters to another level during the time of release. The movie version is quick and keeps up the pace throughout its run-time here.

The claws of flaw :: The movie doesn’t add that much new as one would have expected. It could have managed to get rid of some of its predictability here, and there doesn’t seem to be an attempt to add more to the plot, as a deviation from the book has happened as the makers have tried to change the setting to contemporary times. The hero is also a little bit too strong for this kind of a movie, even though he is still not seen as a superhuman as some of our good old blind fans would have liked – they still have Bollywood to have such dumb movies of non-acting megastars. Some of the twists that await us can be sensed, and we have a number of moments when things could have gotten much better. Also, if you are looking for the usual kind of full of action or full movie, that is not going to happen – it is a trend among the viewers from this part of the world. This is certainly the movie which we would have wanted to see as a better one.

The performers of the soul :: Michael B Jordan with his strong performance leads the way here, even when the character does make us feel that there was much more deserved rather than following the safe path. The action as well as emotional side seems to work well for him here, and gets some fine battle scenes to work in his favour. You are often reminded of Will Smith in Gemini Man too. It is said that Keanu Reeves was also offered the main role here, and that would have been nice too, considering what he has been doing in the John Wick series as the hitman without limits. Beyond the protagonist, the one person who makes a big impact is Jamie Bell, who is the kind of person that suits this kind of films, and if a sequel is being made, he deserves to be there. Lauren London doesn’t have much to do in here, and the only female character who gets any importance is Jodie Turner-Smith who plays Commander Karen Greer, and it is played well. Guy Pearce does his job in a neat manner too.

How it finishes :: Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse gets its release in Amazon Prime, and this is indeed the right time to be on OTT at least in India, as this is the season of COVID-19 again, and not many Indian films are releasing on any of these platforms anymore. With the novel on which it is based, written in 1993, and set during the Vietnam War, this one takes a move forward in the timeline, placing itself in the contemporary times as it serves as the origin story of John Clark, a character that is repeated in the other works of the series. There seems to be quite a good number of differences which are to be noted. The fans of the book might or might not like them, but as far as most of us around here are concerned, we haven’t read the work. I would consider this one to be an interesting movie with focus on origins. The opportunity for the sequel can also be seen here, and we can wait to see how another film can build on this.

Release date: 30th April 2021
Running time: 109 minutes
Directed by: Stefano Sollima
Starring: Michael B Jordan, Jamie Bell, Jodie Turner-Smith, Luke Mitchell, Jack Kesy, Brett Gelman, Colman Domingo, Guy Pearce, Lauren London, Todd Lasance, Cam Gigandet, Jacob Scipio

<— Click here to go to the previous review.

<— Click here to to go to the previous Hollywood review.

<— Click here to go to the previous big Amazon prime release.

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Balan Vakeel

What is the movie about? :: S Balakrishnan (Dileep) is a lawyer who works under the reputed advocate Pramod Sujanapalan (Arjun Nandakumar). But he hasn’t been able to achieve much in his professional career due to his stammer, even though he was known to be a smart & intelligent person during his college days. His father and mother (Siddique and Bindu Panicker) are concerned about him, but are sure that he can only be a failure in life, with former also being a chain smoker who tries different drugs. His first successful case is that of Ansaar Ali Khan (Aju Varghese), a local goon who is involved in a robbery case. Ansaar doesn’t have the cash to pay as his fees, and therefore provides him with a place to stay at low rent. But this new place has Irumbu Babu’s (Bheeman Raghu) presence, and he considers it to be his own room and wants him to leave. But it will be the smallest of his problems.

So, what happens with the events to follow? :: It is then that his brother-in-law P Mohanan Pillai (Suraj Venjaramoodu) comes up with a plan to make some easy money. He asks Balakrishnan to be a part of it, and she accepts the same reluctantly. He sends a notice to a given address asking for compensation in the name of a woman (Priya Anand) who claims to have been abused by the person at the address. But it turns out that it is the address of the DGP of Kerala Police, KE Eapen (Renji Panicker) who is suprised to get the same. The charge of investigation goes to Indhulekha Marar (Lena) who gets only a limited amount of time to solve the case. Meanwhile it turns out that the person whose name is in the letter is Anuradha Sudharshan (Mamta Mohandas), a woman who is completely unaware of this. There seems to be some conspiracy behind all these. But there is no clue regarding where to begin.

The defence of Kodathi Samaksham Balan Vakeel :: There are the twists in store in Kodathi Samaksham Balan Vakeel for sure, and there is mystery awaiting to be revealed, related to a conspiracy. We also have incidents which seems to reflect reality, but there is the certainty of exaggeration regarding the same. The emotional flashback in the movie becomes effective with the last twist, but otherwise it feels strange, and makes you wait the whole time trying to find something out of it. There is also the presence of a fine cast to support everything out there, making sure that they manage all that this movie can provide. There is some good humour out there, even though not throughout the flick. It is seen more in the initial stages, starting from the introduction of the main character itself. The interval punch is strong enough to make one interested in the second half, even though the first half wasn’t that much there.

The claws of flaw :: It can be seen that there is no attempt to make this movie go through a fully entertaining path, and there is no plan to make this a perfect journey as an investigation thriller either, as this is caught somewhere in between. The jokes are also just partially effective, and we see that the funny side in the name of children hitting older men, people falling on electricity lines and surviving, a drug addict father instead of the usual alcoholic one etc – they are just there for the sake of adding some strange funny side. There is also the presence of some unnecessary mass scenes, and the hero sending people flying around comes in, and the struggling protagonist that we wanted to watch from the trailer is lost. Having such a protagonist beating up people all of a sudden works against the overall mood of the movie, and what we know about the protagonist. The songs are not that good either.

The performers of the soul :: This seems to be a movie nicely made for Dileep, as he has this in control, just like many other movies of the same kind. There is no problem here, as he had played advocate trying to serve justice before in Passenger, and there was Mamta Mohandas there too, with the same name for her character, Anuradha. Well, Passenger is a movie long way ahead of this one, without doubt. Mamta Mohandas is here for a full role unlike what she had in 9. There is not much for her to do regarding the investigation here though, as she is the victim and there is the protagonist to save the day. A little romantic side added there seems to be rather forced though, as this movie could have done without it. The focus on its main idea would have been enough, and trying to play cupid between the main character didn’t do both of them any good.

Further performers of the soul :: Siddique’s father character is kind of strange, but brings the funniest moments of the movie with ease. There is his comic timing that lightens up the movie really well. Aju Varghese is the next person in the comedy department, and it works well for him most of the time too – he does get some memorable funny ones. Suraj Venjaramoodu also has the comedy working in his favour, even though at parts it seems out of order. Priya Anand gets another smart role after Ezra and Kayamkulam Kochunni, but with lesser time spent on the screen. Veterans like Ganesh Kumar and Renji Panicker right there, doing what they do the best in police roles. Another person who shines so well inside the uniform is Lena, who is also there Varikkuzhiyile Kolapathakam, and mystery-solving journey of puzzles which is also running in the theatres.

How it finishes :: For B Unnikrishnan, this movie comes after Villain, which was a smart one for sure. Kodathi Samaksham Balan Vakeel does take the path of Vikadakumaran and Jolly LLB, a trend related to a struggling lawyer whenever the same is the protagonist. This one has its moments of thrills and twists are brought into the scene, but there is not doubt about the fact that this could have done better. There is the fine premise already set, and the idea that has scope for a lot, but it is not utilized in the best way. Maybe we have to wait to get something better out of a story related to courtroom, and we can do that. Until then, lets watch Kodathi Samaksham Balan Vakeel and enjoy the interesting side. For those who wants the more realistic side, there is always Kumbalangi Nights & June running, and seemingly good enough to keep doing the same for a long time.

Release date: 21st February 2019
Running time: 155 minutes
Directed by: B Unnikrishnan
Starring: Dileep, Mamta Mohandas, Priya Anand, Aju Varghese, Siddique, Ganesh Kumar, Renji Panicker, Bindu Panicker, Suraj Venjaramoodu, Saiju Kurup, Vamsi Krishna, Harish Uthaman, Lena, Arjun Nandakumar, Pramod Sujanapalan, Bheeman Raghu, Veena Nair, Pradeep Kottayam, Thesni Khan, Sajid Yahiya

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Captain America II

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Our own superheroes :: Its been some time since the 2012 superhero movie The Avengers got so much more attention than it deserved and ended up being the highest grossing movie of the year and the third highest grossing film ever. Surprisingly, it even impressed the critics, and even as it was a well made fun ride, I wondered how it managed to do this much just by having some superheroes fighting aliens in the middle of the city. Unlike what some of the fan-boys might say, I have felt that Captain America: The First Avenger was the best superhero movie from Marvel, a title which it takes over from X2: X-Men United and to which Ghost Rider had a distant claim only to be devastated by the sequel. As Thor came so close and yet spoiled the opportunity to be the best, and so did X-Men: First Class and X-Men Origins: Wolverine, I have to admit that Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier is my new favourite Marvel superhero movie, and that title should be safe unless The Amazing Spider-Man 2 comes up with something too good which is rather unlikely. So this sequel is better than the original and all the other movies in the franchise – that should inspire you to read this further!

What is it about? :: Captain America a.k.a Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is called to rescue the hostages from a SHIELD ship under the control of Algerian pirates in the Indian Ocean. There he notices that the mission of Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) is different from that of him, and she is collecting data from the ship’s computers. After telling Steve about the secret weapon of SHIELD to destroy its enemies and a failed attempt to decrypt the data, Fury is attacked, and dies after telling Steve not to trust anyone and giving him the USB data. Hunted by the SHIELD, Captain America and Black Widow got to join forces to find information about the data and stumbles upon a supercomputer which tells them that HYDRA still exists not as itself, but within SHIELD, like a parasite, and Captain had never put an end to it during the Second World War. As they say “if a head is cut off, two more will take its place”, and this time they are choosing a different path of war. With the help of Falcon (Anthony Mackie), they have to stop HYDRA from deploying their secret weapon through SHIELD, but the question remains if they can take on the Winter Soldier, a metal armed expert fighter who is more of a ghost entity coming out of nowhere.

The defence of Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier :: One of the best fights of the movie is in an elevator, and there are so many more to follow. There is Captain America taking on the advanced machines of SHIELD, and when the Winter Soldier comes up, it goes to a new level, and Black Widow joins the party at regular intervals to boost things up, and so does the new addition – Falcon. The action sequences continue to be strong, and the final battle is incredibly stylish for a movie which was turning into more of a thriller. But the movie doesn’t go on to become that action movie which is expected from any random superhero who possesses the skills that the normal human being lacks, and instead it becomes an espionage action thriller which keeps the viewers guessing, and you can see that the twists are delivered with great punch. The whole conspiracy thing is wonderfully managed, and there is a certain amount of skill involved in doing the same. The dialogues are also cleverly done, and the witty lines are sure to stay in our minds for a very long time. Well, Captain America often becomes self-defending, and you will know about it when you watch.

Positives and negatives :: The movie has turned so much into the thriller genre that the usual superhero fans might find it a little strange. Captain America has turned himself into more of a super soldier rather than a superhero, and it will please a lot as well as disappoint a few, such is this genre. But, yes he is super and there is no denying that. It has successfully become better than its predecessor too, something which only X2: X-Men United could achieve as far as Marvel is concerned. Its intelligence should upset a lot of people who are looking for mindless action too, but those who were looking for stupidity like Dhoom 3 and Krrish 3 are going to be too disappointed. Yes, bring your brains with you – don’t leave them at home like you did while watching some superstar Bollywood movies. Except for the Dark Knight series, I wonder if the viewers are ever expected to use their intellect much in a superhero movie, but now we know that superheroes have moved out of the world of children almost completely. Now they make us thinkers along with entertaining the crowd.

Performers of the Soul :: Chris Evans once again excels in the role of that superhero who is ideologically superior to any superhero of Hollywood. He has become part of the same character and most of us would tend to forget that he was once the Human Torch in Fantastic Four and its sequel – this would always be the role that he would be known for, and this movie gives him more possibilities, and he holds on and improves his performance as the super soldier. When surrounded, he asks “Before we get started, does anyone want to get out?”. Scarlett Johansson remains awesome as Black Widow, and she has a great role to play in this one – she even has some nicer lines like “I only pretend that I know everything” or “Was that your first kiss since 1945?”, and its time her character gets a movie of her own, may be with Hawkeye by her side. Sebastian Stan proves to a fantastic choice for the Winter Soldier too. Samuel L. Jackson is awesome as usual, and the one thing you will know about his car after taking a lot of hits is that the only thing that is left working is the air conditioning, so says the computer. Anthony Mackie’s Falcon comes as another boost to the movie. Cobie Smulders as Maria Hill and Emily VanCamp as Sharon Carter comes up in small, yet significant roles which we can hope to be developed later.

Soul exploration :: Unlike the other superheroes, Captain America is not just a superman or any similar person. He is an idea, something which is more intellectual and not physical, standing for truth, justice and honour. His battles are not against the usual villains who come to take over the world or commit crimes with superpowers or manpower, as his enemies are ideologies, of hatred, fear and slavery; it used to be HYDRA earlier and it continues to be same opponent, but with an outer layer of coating. He is also different that he has to fight war in another age along with belong to that era. Thor and Superman belonged to other worlds, but one can always go back and the other has been here since childhood. But Captain America is a man from the past, frozen both physically and mentally to awaken in another age, nothing less than an alien world. But he adapts and maintains all that he had in the 1940s. The world he comes across as an alien is the same which we have now, as we are fed with lies as truth remains hidden. Forget the wars and the media response; forget the lies concerning politicians and elections; we are told that someone lands on moon or there is water on Mars – and we are forced to believe the same or we are labelled as inferior people – nobody needs proof of that.

How it finishes :: There have been two types of superhero movies, one from The Dark Knight side and the other from The Avengers side. This movie seems to be placed right between them, and at the same time, having a life of its own. This movie has brain, and a lot of it, as it keeps itself out of both the mindless action with the light side as well as the fear generation of the dark side, keeping a bit of both, but not enough to be labelled. The result here is that the latest movie from Marvel can take on both sides, even as I doubt if it can be as successful as any of the two. Captain America is not your typical superhero, and the only thing that should work in favour of him in coming up with a great box-office should be the fact that this is vacation time, both for schools and colleges – most of them to be exact. We watched the movie with a huge crowd and that world was almost full, something which was not visible in the case of the first outing of the same hero or the random wanderings of the rusty vain man in iron. You might want to watch the first movie too so that you can enjoy this without doubts, or may be keep someone who watched it on the next seat. And you may want to choose 2D if there is that option to skip 3D!

Release date: 4th April 2014
Running time: 136 minutes
Directed by: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
Starring: Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Samuel L. Jackson, Anthony Mackie, Cobie Smulders, Frank Grillo, Emily VanCamp, Hayley Atwell, Robert Redford, Hayley Atwell

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.