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21 Jump Street: Ridiculously Fun & Hilarious Action Comedy
A purely emotional review of this film would consist of a lot of uppercase letters, a bunch of acronyms, hell yeahs, plenty of celebratory swear words and a positive slew of exclamation marks. However, we do have to be a bit more articulate than that, so here goes.
While 21 Jump Street may not be the ’best film ever’, it’s definitely the most fun we’ve had in the cinema this year – by a long shot. Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum play Schmidt and Jenko; a quintessential high school nerd and dumb jock, respectively. The duo manages to get over their mutual high school hatred of each other and bond in the Police Academy where they soon become partners and best friends. Due to their youthful appearances and highly immature ways, they’re stationed as undercover policemen in a high school where a new drug is going round; one that’s already resulted in the death of a student. Their assignment is to infiltrate the dealers and find the supplier before the drug spreads to any of the other schools. On their first day undercover though, they find that high school has completely changed. Nerds are now in, dumb jocks are out and the partners find themselves navigating through completely different high school experiences than their first time around.
What makes this film so much fun to watch is that Hill and Tatum are plainly having a ton of fun onscreen. The story is basically about two dorks who, despite their training in the Police Academy, still harbour a fantasy that being a policeman involves a ton of car chases, explosions and gunfights. They’re fundamentally immature and seem to think Die Hard is an accurate portrayal of an officer’s day to day life, but their attitude is infectious and watching the film is a rather exhilarating experience. The duo play off of each other perfectly; their comedic timing is impeccable and their relationship is so cute that at times, it’s touching. The film also has a solid supporting cast with Dave Franco as an eco-friendly drug dealer, Ice Cube as a pissed-off commanding officer, and a surprise cameo that is just too awesome to spoil!
The film isn’t just a comedy though, it has some pretty sweet action sequences as well. We get car chases, explosions, fist fights and shoot-outs galore. And despite the amount of action in the film, it’s doesn’t feel superfluous in anyway; it really manages to balance the fast pace action and humour – bringing out characters that you really end up caring for and sympathising with.
In conclusion, just go see it. It’s a ton of fun and it’s worth both your time and your money.
Despite its potentially juicy political premise and Nic Cage’s relatively solid performance – more on that later - Austin Stark’s The Runner ends up being a poor-man’s version of politically-charged TV shows such as House of Cards and Scandal.
The Runner follows the story of idealistic Louisiana congressman, Colin Price (Cage) who, in the wake of the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster, is working hard on rebuilding his community, both financially and morally. After giving a passionate speech about the scandal, Colin soon finds himself making headlines and with the encouragement from consultants, Frank (Pierce) and Kate (Paulson), the pathway to a seat at the senate soon opens.
However, his celebrity status and reputation in the community is blemished by the discovery of an affair with the wife of a local fisherman – indiscreetly caught on a CCTV video footage – ultimately, painting the congressman in the worst of lights as he tries to put together the pieces of his shattered life.
The film marks the directorial debut of New York-born indie filmmaker Austin Stark – his producing portfolio includes films such as Happythankyoumoreplease and Detachment – and as far as first-time features go, The Runner is not the worst of its kind.
Playing out like a docu-drama, the plot is intriguing enough and there are plenty of moments of both despair and hope throughout. However, the story’s lack of energy is The Runner’s major flaw, as no matter how interesting its premise may be, there just isn’t enough oomph to get it to the finish line.
Despite its poor pacing and several loose subplots, it’s Cage’s relatively believable performance of a down-in-the-gutter politico looking for redemption that keeps The Runner from falling apart. It’s not an Oscar-worthy performance by any stretch of the imagination, but one can’t help give credit where it’s due with a man that has often found himself a figure of ridicule.
The lingering effect of Sicario’s unrelenting and pitiless sense of anxiety will stay with its viewers long after it leaves the screen. Directed by Denis Villeneuve – see Prisoners – and astutely written by the T.V actor and first-time scripter Taylor Sheridan, this is one beautifully shot and tension-ridden action thriller that captures the reality – and cruelty – of the forever-ongoing war on drugs along the Southern US borders.
The story is centered on Kate Macer (Blunt); a skillful FBI agent who has been working on the agency’s kidnap response task force for the past three years. After successfully tracking leads in a kidnapping case, Kate and her team soon make the shocking discovery of a house full of dead bodies sealed within the house’s walls, leaving Kate and partner, Reggie (Kaluuya) wanting to seek justice for the crime.
The atrocious offence seem to be directly linked to a Mexican drug cartel organization, which Kate is soon tasked to track down and investigate in a covert operation across the border, with Department of Defense head, Matt Graves (Brolin). Unaware of what she’s getting herself into, Kate’s idealistic views on justice are soon challenged when she’s paired with a mysterious – and super silent – special-forces soldier named Alejandro (Del Toro) whose motives in the takedown of the Mexican kingpin Fausto (Cedillo) is unclear.
Boasting striking cinematography – courtesy of the twelve-time Oscar-nominee Roger Deakins – Sicario is one seemingly dark and poetic piece of cinema which has the power to entertain and horrify at the same time. Its far-reaching, bird-view shots of the vast and eerily empty Arizona desert - as well as the precarious and fraudulent streets of Juarez, Mexico – is captivating and demanding of attention; peeling your eyes away from the screen is not so easy to do.
Keeping its intentions well-hidden, the script is complex, twisted and action-heavy; the scene of vehicles whizzing through the streets of Juarez is nerve-racking and intimidating to watch unfold, with Villeneuve using the silence as the base for the startling and sudden bursts of action.
Anchoring the film with an intense and fiercely committed performance is The Devil Wears Prada’s very own Emily Blunt, who is absolutely superb as the idealistic FBI agent whose somewhat naïve and unrealistic views come crushing down right before our very eyes. Watching her unravel beneath all of the cruelty and injustice involved with the underground drug-war, is satisfying and often heartbreaking to watch while her co-stars, including Brolin as the super cocky head of mission and Del Toro as the mysterious war dog, both did their parts with a fittingly unswerving and dedicated attitude.
Exceptionally silent and disturbing, Sicario – which translates to ‘assassin’ – is an outstanding piece of art and an intriguing action-thriller that questions human decency, morality and ethics when faced with a life-or-death situation. It’s a must, must-see of the year.