The Contractor (2007)
Wesley Snipes, Eliza Bennett, Lena Headey, Ralph Brown
This action movie was a direct-to-DVD release and, honestly, I don’t blame the producers. Snipes as James Jackson Dial didn’t act in this film, he moved woodenly and hardly even changed outfits. It’s hard for the viewer to believe that he’s some legendary CIA hitman when he fouls up a simple assignment and fumbles even worse afterwards. Okay, so that may have been the scriptwriter’s fault but that doesn’t excuse the driftwood dance all over the movie.
Eliza Bennett’s character, Emily, was a completely pointless addition. Perhaps they wanted to include a sympathetic character to bring out the softie from within our tough-guy hero. But as a foil, Bennett only succeeds on becoming more irritating as the movie progresses. Her initial interest in Dial’s arrival is never explained, and even her so-called tragic past is so overdone it made me groan to see her agonizing rebel act. Halfway into the film, I wanted to shout “Die Emily!!!” and I was quite disappointed when the Scotland Yard boys didn’t accidentally shoot her or push her from a window.
However, as Inspector Ballard, Lena Headey is as refreshing as always. There is no over-acting and no annoying lines (even when her father, the Superintendent, dies). She serves as the only cool character in the whole movie. I even want to answer my cellphone the way she does: “Ballard here”. No first name, just Ballard.
I fell asleep every five minutes but doggedly made it until the end.
In short: don’t watch it for f#c%’s sake! You may as well waste your time playing patintero with your child molesting neighbor.
Rated -5 stars.
Stranger Than Fiction (2006)
Will Ferrell, Emma Thompson, Dustin Hoffman and Maggie Gyllenhaal
After the mind-torture that is The Contractor, it was such a relief to watch something as artistic, original and wonderful as Stranger Than Fiction.
Will Ferrell stars as Harold Crick, an obsessive-compulsive, extremely ordinary, and unimaginative IRS agent whose day-to-day life never varies. He would have died brushing his teeth 76 times, walking on the painted strips at the Ped Xings, and counting the eternal number of things that he could count… every single boring day, if The Narrator’s voice didn’t come to shake up his life.
The Narrator is Karen Eiffel (Thompson), a gifted contemporary writer who is suffering from a ten-year writer’s block. Little did she know that the “fictional” lead character, Harold Crick, whose imminent death she has been obsessing about for years would turn out to be real and that what she writes directly influences his life.
Maggie Gyllenhaal plays Ana Pascal, Crick’s quirky love interest. Tattoos and comfort chocolate chip cookies are a weird combination but she pulls it off with panache. And, lastly, Dustin Hoffman is just incredible as Jules Hilbert, the professor of literature whom Crick runs to for advice when the psychotherapist couldn’t help him. He has the role down pat–his hair, clothes, little gestures–everything he does screams: Absent-minded Genius Prof!
A definite must-see. 🙂