Of all the oddball trends in 2023’s multiplex movies, the strangest has to be Hollywood’s current obsession with films about the origins of familiar consumer lines and products, including Air Jordans, Tetris, and the BlackBerry PDA. The films have been okay—and Air’s genuinely quite good—but even so, when all is said and done, it is hard to shake the sense that what you have been watching is less a movie than an elaborate brand extension designed to remind viewers of the benevolence and vision of our corporate overlords. That is especially true in the case of Eva Longoria’s directorial debut Flamin’ Hot, a film whose story is almost too good to be true (more on that later) but which is, in practice, an ironically bland bit of product placement even more processed and devoid of nourishment than the snack food it celebrates. Continue Reading →
Gerard Butler's CIA-agent-on-the-run thriller aims to be more than a power fantasy, but for all its virtues, it doesn't stick that landing.
There's an expected cognitive dissonance that comes with watching a man-on-a-mission genre piece set in the Middle East. Whether it's a glorified shooting gallery or a power fantasy where the hero stops just short of bleeding red, white, and blue - one needs to practice a mental limbo to either ignore or maybe be pleasantly surprised with the bare minimum concessions to showing the opposite side's perspectives.
Ric Roman Waugh's expertly mounted, ambitiously scattered Kandahar is, at its core, a Stagecoach riff. One where our leading man, career CIA operative Tom Harris (Gerard Butler leveraging his soulful full-time divorced dad essence), has 30 hours to make a mad 400-mile dash across an Afghanistan desert from an impossibly large group of following forces. It's a foolproof premise, yet intriguingly, Kandahar refuses to embrace its conceptual neatness. Continue Reading →