Matt’s Movie Review Roundup

We’ve made it through March and into April, and there are a few films I saw this weekend. Some was playing catchup, and some was a look ahead, including a film opening this week. My thoughts on these new films are below! If you’d like to see more of my scores for films and thoughts, feel free to follow me on Letterboxd here.

John Wick, Chapter 4 (Theaters)
: Keanu Reeves, Bill Skarsgard, Ian McShane, Clancy Brown, Lance Reddick, and Laurence Fishburne
Synopsis: This is the fourth and rumored final installment. Though, with the success of the film, there’s already talk of how the franchise can continue. It’s also the longest of the films, running nearly three hours with rumors the original cut was nearly four hours. By now, we’re familiar with this world. What started as a simple premise in the first film has morphed into something different, a film with lavish and long action sequences connected by the thinnest of plot tissue. Chad Stahelski has directed all four films in the franchise, which find Reeves’ titular hitman battling a bevy of assassins. This one is no different. This time he’s supposed to really, truly be on the path to a final confrontation that will clear his debt with The Table. There is a lot of artistry to the action here, but the film is mostly lengthy and violent action sequences connected with a few bridge scenes. I liked the performances Okay, but it felt overly drawn out, particularly the final act. Once it finally reaches the showdown, we know is coming the ending was somewhat predictable. Reeves has excelled in the role but what began as a somewhat straightforward story has seen his character develop into an almost superhero-like persona. This film came complete with bulletproof suits for everyone who had a name and a spoken line in the film. That was certainly a choice. I liked the film for what it is but I’m ready for the franchise to come to an end. Hopefully this lengthy fourth film really is the end of the story. John Wick deserves a little rest.
Rating: Rated R for pervasive strong violence and some language.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Murder Mystery 2 (Netflix)
: Adam Sandler, Jennifer Aniston, Melanie Laurent, Jodi Turner-Smith, and Mark Strong
Synopsis: In the follow up to the 2019 Netflix original, we get Nick (Sandler) and Audrey (Aniston) working as full-time detectives after their work in the first film. Their business is floundering when they get an invitation from their old friend The Maharajah (Adeel Akhtar), who is getting married. They head to a private island on an all-expenses paid trip. While there, the Maharajah is kidnapped, and his bodyguard is murdered. Soon, Nick and Audrey have another big case to solve to put them back on solid ground. The plot here is fairly straightforward. So, too, are the characters and the story. This isn’t about the mystery in the plot, though part of the fun is trying to figure out who did it. Sandler and Aniston seem to be having fun and there are some decent jokes. Is the movie great? No, but it’s about what you’d expect. I had a few laughs, and it was a breezy watch.
Rating: Rated PG-13 for violence, bloody images, strong language, suggestive material and smoking.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

One Day as a Lion (Theaters/VOD)
Scott Caan, Frank Grillo, J.K. Simmons, Virginia Madsen, and Marianne Rendón
Synopsis: Jackie Powers (Caan) isn’t much of a hitman. He’s a nice guy that wants to do right by his son, so he’s been cajoled into taking out Walter Boggs (Simmons), a man who owes gangster Pauly Russo (Grillo) a lot of money. The problem is, when Jackie tries to accomplish the job, it goes sideways. In the aftermath, he goes on the run with a bored waitress (Rendon), who sympathizes with his plot and hatches a plan to get Jackie some money from her dying mother (Madsen). As you might imagine, things don’t go according to plan for anyone. Pauly has to clean up Jackie’s mess, while Jackie has to jump through hoops to stay out of jail, stay alive and figure out how to save his son. The film harkens back to the kind of crime-gone-awry themes that we’ve seen from directors like Quentin Tarantino and The Coen Brothers, and that was the inspiration for the tale, which was written by Caan. Director John Swab lays out the action well and the film moves at a good pace, clocking in at just 87 minutes. The performances are solid and there’s some good humor mixed in with the action sequences. Caan does well selling the lead role, and his back-and-forth with Rendon was probably the highlight of the film for me. Other aspects of the story, particularly the set up and conflict between Pauly and Walter Boggs felt a bit thin, though the resolution was amusing. In the end, this is a solid little crime story with some good performances and a quick, easy-to-watch hook. It’s worth checking out for fans of the genre.
Rating: Rated R for pervasive language, some violence and sexual references.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Matthew Fox is a graduate of the Radio, Television and Film program at Biola University, and a giant nerd. He spends his free time watching movies, TV, and obsessing about football. He is a member of the FSWA. You can find him @knighthawk7734 on Twitter and as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast.


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