WWW: Weekend Wrental Wreviews 42

Let's see what I saw this week for Weekend Wrental Wreviews in my 42nd WWW:

1) Law Abiding Citizen:
With this film, Jamie Foxx is well on his way to becoming the next Denzel. Foxx plays a hotshot attorney trying a very difficult case, in which Gerard Butler has suffered a great personal loss in the wake of a home invasion. One of the two perpetrators testifies against the other, cutting a deal to reduce his sentence and avoid the death penalty. Butler is crushed, but the way the legal system works, Foxx has to take the deal and make sure they get at least one conviction. If they try to put both away, there's a chance both can go free. Foxx moves on with his life and career, starting a family and getting promoted. Ten years pass, over which time Butler plans his own justice, against all involved. It's a great thriller with some satisfying twists, and some very dark moments. The film manages to be unpleasant at times without being graphic, and shows how any good man can travel down a dark road in the name of good. The performances of the two leads and the supporting cast make for a fast-paced thriller. You're not sure who will be left standing at the end, and it shows how in the legal system everyone might operate in shades of gray.

2) Moon:
I don't want to give too much away, but this really showcases the range of Sam Rockwell, whose Sam Bell we first meet as a lone astronaut stationed on a lunar mining colony for three years with only a robot voiced by Kevin Spacey for company, and the occasional pre-recorded video message sent from home. As Sam starts to hallucinate, it seems as though isolation has taken its toll, but we soon learn that all is not as it seems. I'd recommend going in to the film cold, without watching a trailer, to add weight the film's largest revelation. Rockwell proves he can carry a movie mostly by himself, and it was nice to see a classic sci fi story that didn't involve shooting or aliens, rather a character study of isolation and loneliness that just happens to take place not on Earth. It's a little bit 2001 meets Cast Away, and Rockwell is the key ingredient in making the scenario work.

3) Death Race(2008):
In the future, criminals in prison compete against each other for their freedom. Instead of gladiators in a coliseum, they are drivers on a track, in a controlled environment. Like a video game, driving the cars over certain points in the track unlocks special features from offensive weapons like guns to defensive features like smoke or oil slicks. The basic premise has been seen dozens of times before, and of course this is even less original as a remake. Jason Statham, framed for a crime he didn't commit, finds himself inside prison walls and, due to his established driving ability, is soon behind the wheel competing for his freedom. Maybe the prison officials were fans of The Transporter? In any event, it's not long before we're in one fast paced driving scene after another. The only thing that makes races exciting sometimes, sadistically enough, are the crashes. Throw in a few gatling guns, and you might not have high art, but you do have entertainment. It is what it is.

More reviews to follow next week after I've spun a few more discs!



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