Welcome to The Mundane Adventures of a Fangirl

I consider myself a Fangirl. What does that mean, you ask? A "fanboy" in the most common understanding is a hardcore fan of 'genre' based entertainment in particular. In my case - science-fiction and comic book based movies and television. Because I'm a chick - it's fangirl, not fanboy. There you have it! I am a big movie fan, however, not necessarily a 'film' fan. And now - I have the forum to present my opinions to the public! These will mainly be movie reviews -that will always be my opinion - repeat OPINION. Just what I think, and in no way do I present my opinion as fact. I hope you enjoy and maybe it will help you decide what to see at the movie theater this weekend!

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Movie Review: Second Act (PG13 – 103 minutes)

Second Act begins by introducing us to Maya, her boyfriend, Trey, and her friends and coworkers at the local Value Mart.  Maya has been working there for several years, has come up with several customer-pleasing projects, and just put in for a manager position.  The head honcho loves Maya’s work, compliments her, but instead decides to bring in a younger outside hire who has just finished up his MBA degree.  Frustrated, Maya vents to her best friend, Joan, and Joan’s son. 

Joan’s son creates a fictitious life online for Maya, and submits her fake resume for several big business consulting jobs.  She gets hired for one and enthusiastically quits her current position.  She then has to maintain the ruse as she tackles creating a new cosmetic cream for her new company with the help of their B team.  Oh, and there’s a bit about how the owner of the new company actually hired her because his adopted daughter is her real daughter.  Hijinks ensue.

The movie is directed by Peter Segal, and it is perfectly fine for a movie of this type. It’s not quite a rom-com, it’s more of a self-realization comedy.  It’s well done, and the cast is terrific. 
  • Jennifer Lopez is in full Jenny-from-the-block mode as Maya, a woman who just wants to be recognized for the hard work she has already done and the capabilities she has rather than for the piece of paper she does not have.  She’s suited for this type of character, and does a great job.

  • Vanessa Hudgens plays Zoe, the adopted daughter of the new boss who is actually Maya’s real daughter that she gave up for adoption years ago. They have some sweet moments of getting to know one another.  Hudgens is far less annoying here than she is as a judge on SYTYCD.  

  • Leah Remini is great friends with Jennifer Lopez in real life, and that really shows through here. I think it is key to the relationship, and makes those scenes have more intensity than they would have elsewise. She is very funny, and really steals the scenes she’s in.

  • Treat Williams plays Anderson Clarke, the new boss who has actually been looking for Maya and is super excited to be able to hire her as a consultant.  He makes it through the whole movie being jovial and supportive of his team.

  • Milo Ventimiglia plays Trey, who is only focused on baseball and having babies.  Really – his character does not have much depth, but that’s fine, he doesn’t need it here.

  • Charleyne Yi plays Maya’s new assistant Ariana. She’s quiet and put upon, but has some good ideas once listened to.

  • Alan Aisenberg plays Chase, another member of Maya’s team, there to help to get things done when needed.
  • Dave Foley shows up as the competitive make-up-scientist who leads the opposing team.
  • Larry Miller plays the head honcho from Value Mart who does not give Maya her promotion.

Overall, the movie is fun and simple, and perfectly fine for a quick weekend watch in January.  I will say, I was disappointed in the end of the movie – spoiler alert – Maya and Trey broke up at the beginning because he was insisting on a family and she was not ready.  The hell with this dude insisting on kids if she doesn’t want them.  At the end, they get back together because he is still insisting on a family and she says she is now ready – admittedly, a lot of her ‘not-readiness’ came from some unresolved issues about having to give her baby up for adoption years ago and not telling him, and by the end of the movie, she’s resolved those issues.  I’ve said this before, but just once I’d love one of these movies to allow the lead to end up single and happy. 

5 out of 10.  Perfectly average.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Movie Review: BumbleBee (PG13, 114 minutes)

I won’t lie to you, I loved the first Michael Bay Transformers movie in 2007.  It was big, loud, and the Transformers were super cool. I was familiar with the Transformers from the 80s cartoons, but the movie updated them in a slick way.  I saw most of the sequels, but not the last one, because Bumblebee was my favorite, and it looked a bit like he might not make it through that last one. 

In any case, in the 2007 Transformers, Bumblebee is already on earth, masquerading as a yellow VW bug in a used car lot owned by Bernie Mac.  He then partners up with Sam Witwicky, calls the rest of the Autobots and fights Megatron and the Decepticons.  This movie begins prior to those events.  Bumblebee is shown with the other Autobots, already in full-on 80s version car-modes, in a war on Cybertron.  The Decepticons are winning, and Optimus Prime scatters his troops, sending Bee to earth.  Once he arrives, he encounters a military group running some training exercises, and just as they are about to turn on him, a pair of Decepticons arrive.

In the ensuing battle, Bee loses his speaking abilities, and his memory as he goes offline.  Having lost track of him, the Decepticons partner up with the military.  Bumblebee ends up hiding in a junkyard until he is discovered by Charlie, a 17-year old who is not entirely sure how to deal with the loss of her father, her younger brother, her mom’s new boyfriend, and her across-the-street neighbor with a crush on her.  After waking up Bee, the two hang out and become buddies, just in time to help each other escape once the Decepticons find out where he has been.

Placing this movie where they do, they could either keep this version going, in effect re-booting the entire franchise. Or, they could stop, and this movie functions as a prequel to the others.  Either way, this is one of the best in the series. It’s a smaller, tighter story, with only a few transformers in it.  Director Travis Knight made a really fun flick with everyone’s favorite Transformer.  Bee’s lack of speech, plus some really cute reactions make him feel like a pet, and he inevitably works his way into your heart. The effects are astounding, and he looks amazing in both robot and car form.  There are still probably too many humans in this robot movie, but they are entertaining enough.
  • Hailee Steinfeld is charming as Charlie. She’s a teenager, so she over-reacts to everything. I enjoyed the aspect of her continuing to work on the car her father left her to feel close to him. I also appreciate that she slowly grows to appreciate her mom’s boyfriend, as he tries to do the right thing for her.

  • Jorge Lendeborg Jr. plays the across-the-street neighbor, Memo. He’s the comic relief, and does a great job at that.  Also, surprisingly muscular for the dude who is supposed to be the ‘nerd’.

  • John Cena continues to be incredibly watchable as Agent Burns, the military dude who begins to realize they are on the wrong side.

  • John Ortiz plays Dr. Powell, who thinks we should partner up with the Decepticons.  Come on, guy, they are literally called Decepticons.
  • Glynn Turman plays General Whalen, who thinks it’s a good idea to take all the information they can from the Decepticons and then turn on them, because that’s going to go well.

Overall, the movie is super fun, and it looks great. If you liked Bumblebee before, you’ll love this. If you were a fan of the 80s Transformers cartoons, you’ll love this.  If you like 80s music, you will sing out loud with the soundtrack repeatedly – which I did. No shame.

8 out of 10 – really fantastic. I particularly love the bit where Bumblebee gets into the house and accidentally destroys most of it.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Movie Review: Aquaman (PG132 – 143 minutes)

Arthur Curry, also known as Aquaman, debuted in DC Comics in November 1941. He was a founding member of the Justice League in the Silver Age, and featured prominently on the Super Friends 80s tv show.  Much maligned as a superhero, he was often belittled for his water powers and ability to talk to fish.  Lately, an effort has been made to re-make Aquaman as more of anti-pollution sea champion, tougher and angrier, as he appeared on the Justice League Unlimited cartoon.  A version of the character also appeared on Smallville, played by Alan Michael Ritchson as a bit of a surfer dude who only wore orange and green.

Jason Momoa debuted his version of Aquaman briefly in Batman v. Superman, and then played him in Justice League, but he gets his full stand-alone treatment here.  The story begins with Tom Curry, a Maori lighthouse keeper in Maine (what?) finding a lady who looks like Nicole Kidman, but dressed in mother-of-pearl armor, washed up on the rocks outside his lighthouse.  He takes her inside, she eats one of his goldfish, and they fall in love.  Eventually, they have a son, Arthur.  When Arthur is about 3 years old, soldiers from her home come to try to take her back. She’s Atlanna, the queen of Atlantis, and was fleeing an arranged marriage.  Afraid they will eventually hurt her husband or son, she heads back, and gets “sacrificed to the beasts of the trench” by her own people.  Arthur is raised and taught to fight by Vulko, eventually learning the truth about what happened to his mother.  Furious at Atlantis in general, he’s fine bumming around the oceans, fighting pirates and polluters.
In Atlantis, Orm (Arthur’s half-brother) is currently ruling as king, but has decided to unite the kingdoms of the ocean to wage war against the surface, and become the Ocean Master.  To do this, he partners up with King Nereus.  Nereus’s daughter, Mera, heads up top to try to get Arthur to come back and claim the throne to prevent the war.  Apparently, in order to do this, Arthur and Mera have to go find a long-forgotten trident, from a previous king, hidden in a secret ocean, and guarded by a leviathan with Julie Andrews’s voice, past the ‘beasts of the trench’. Hijinks and undersea battles ensue.

Listen, it’s all a bit confusing, but it’s brightly colored and action-packed.  James Wan has managed to create the first movie in the DCCU that is fun to watch (second, I suppose – most of Wonder Woman was fun).  The ocean folks and creatures are beautiful, and Atlantis looks amazing. The action is wonderful.  And wow, the costumes look just like they are pulled out of the comics – huge props to Wan for this as most directors insist on changing the iconic looks. Wan insisted they stay true – which is wonderful!  Momoa is incredibly charismatic, and he really does a great job embracing the absurdity.  When he does start talking to creatures, it is done exactly the same way he did it on the cartoon in the 80s, and I loved it.  I will say that the pacing, score, and story were all a little weird.  The score stood out, and not in a good way, it had some weird 80s synth moments that made no sense.  The movie was far too long, and as awesome as Black Manta was, he felt forced into this story, and really needed his own movie.  I will say that the cast all seems to be having a great time.
  • Jason Momoa is a dude who is living his best life. He seems to love being Aquaman, and it shows on screen. He is charismatic and fun, and welcomes the audience into the movie.

  • Amber Heard plays Mera, and while she and Momoa have zero chemistry, she does just fine with her crazy wig and awesome costume. I enjoyed her hand to hand combat sequences.

  • Willem Dafoe plays Vulko, and essentially is relegated to the exposition-duty character. He’s there to tell us what has been, what is going on, and what needs to be accomplished – all while wearing a fancy undersea man-bun.

  • Patrick Wilson plays King Orm, the OceanMaster, and honestly, he does a great job and the costume is fantastic. He’s there to unite everyone by whatever means necessary, and take his giant army to war with the surface world.   His reasoning is sound, he is sick of the pollution and weapons of war that the surface is using to kill the oceans. His demonstration of his power with one tidal wave makes it clear how quickly he could wipe out everyone.

  • Nicole Kidman plays Atlanna, and I will say, I was a bit surprised by how much fun she seemed to be having. She gets an awesome sequence where she beats up a bunch of bad guys. 

  • Dolph Lundgren plays King Nereus, who is conned by Orm into joining his ambitious quest. He’s convinced he’s doing the right thing, even when his daughter, Mera, cautions him against it.

  • Yahya Abdul-Mateen II plays Black Manta, and he was definitely awesome. He was so awesome, that I almost wish he had been introduced in a post-credits sequence in this movie, so that his origin and story could really get its due. He and his father are pirates, and when Aquaman lets his father die, he swears vengeance with the help of Atlantean weaponry.  That’s simple, straightforward, and Abdul-Mateen has the skill to carry a whole movie with that villainous storyline – he’s really shortchanged here.

  • Michael Beach plays Manta senior, and is very cool for the time he has. He and his son clearly have a bond, and a career as pirates. In fact, Beach does such a good job setting up their relationship, that when Aquaman lets him die, you almost want to side with team Manta! 

  • The incredible Temuera Morrison, who is “just a simple man, trying to make his way in the universe”, plays Tom Curry. He gives Tom kindness and determination, plus a whole bunch of fun when out drinking with his son.  The scenes of him going to the end of the pier at sunrise every morning just in case Atlanna comes back were lovely.

  • Randall Park plays Dr. Stephen Shin, a man who is convinced Atlantis is real and angry and coming after us. In the post-credits bit, he seems to team up with Black Manta.

Overall, the movie is fun. It is way too long, and it is choppy and uneven, and man, the score is bizarre – but, it is entertaining and there are plenty of stunning CGI ocean-creatures.  Hey – some of them are riding sharks! Momoa is having so much fun, it’s hard to resist having fun with him, especially when he shows up in the iconic orange and green comic outfit.
6 out of 10.
More Justice League Smallville fun -

Monday, December 31, 2018

Movie Review: Spider-Man – Into the SpiderVerse (PG – 117 minutes)

I rarely go see animated movies at this point.  I have to really be interested to make the effort, mainly because the theater is usually filled with children – as it should be. However, some of them are not really old enough to sit through an entire movie.  This is one I was looking forward to for some time and was very excited to check out.

Into the SpiderVerse begins with a version of Peter Parker - I say a version, because it’s not really ours, it’s one from a different universe. If that already confuses you, you may have trouble with this movie.  Peter is fighting the Kingpin and his cronies as the Kingpin attempts to breach the multi-verse to bring back the wife and child he lost. He knows they exist at this same point in another universe and is determined to bring them to ours.  Meanwhile, young Miles Morales gets bitten by a radioactive spider, and develops spider powers.  He finds himself at the site while Peter loses to Kingpin and the universes are breached, even though Kingpin is unsuccessful in his quest and decides to try again.  Miles joins the rest of his New York in mourning Spider-Man. 

Surprising Miles, the breach actually brought several other Spider-People through to his universe from their own.  An older Peter Parker, a Gwen Stacy Spider-Woman, Spider-Man Noir, Spider-Ham, and Peni Parker all come through.  With their guidance, Miles learns to control his own powers, and step into the role of a hero.

If that sounds fairly straightforward, it is, but it is the lovely animation and exceptional action that elevate this movie far beyond standard animated kids fare. Directed by Bob Persichetti and Peter Ramsey, it is an absolutely magical story with an incredible look and is well worth seeing in the theater multiple times.  The movie looks like a comic book come to life and the cast makes every character more layered than you are expecting.
  • Shameik Moore stars as Miles Morales, a kid who wants nothing more than to be normal. He had been excelling at his previous school, and is now just another genius at his gifted school. He spends time with his uncle who understands him and encourages him in his art.

  • Jake Johnson plays the older Peter Parker whose own life is a bit of a shambles, but does his very best to help Miles become the hero he can be.  He also spends some hilarious time in sweatpants.

  • Hailee Steinfeld plays Gwen Stacy, an accomplished Spider-Woman in her own universe, and hopeful to help Miles and get home to her own place and time.

  • Mahershala Ali plays Miles’s Uncle Aaron, a character played by Donald Glover in the last Spider-Man movie, who may or may not show up in the next one. Ali gives Aaron depth and substance when he could have been very one-note or cliché. He wants the best for his nephew, even though he has made his own poor choices.

  • Brian Tyree Henry wraps up the year of Brian Tyree Henry by playing Jefferson Davis, Miles’s father and police officer. He is focused on helping his son excel, and saving the city without the help of vigilantes. Again, his layered performance is heartwarming, touching, and at times, funny.

  • Lily Tomlin plays Aunt May Parker, feisty and Spider-Supporting as ever.  She’s ready to help all the Spider-folk when they show up at her door.
  • John Mulaney plays Spider-Ham, and interjects some really funny bits into some serious parts, who knew he was perfect as an animated crime-fighting pig?

  • Kimiko Glenn plays Peni Parker, a spider version I was completely unfamiliar with, but one who adds some really interesting bits.

  • In what is perhaps one of the most perfect casting choices ever, Nicolas Cage plays Spider-Man Noir, a hero from a black and white universe who is a bit mystified by the color in the other universes.

  • Kathryn Hahn plays Dr. Olivia Octavious, easily one of the best incarnations of Doc Ock that I have ever seen. She’s intelligent and terrifying, and just about perfect.
  • Live Schrieber plays Wilson Fisk – the Kingpin.  In a year where Vincent D’Onofrio’s Fisk on Daredevil season three is exceptional, Schrieber’s version is still amazing – determined to get his wife and child back no matter the cost to everyone else in the city.

  • Chris Pine plays the original blond Peter Parker who starts off the story.  He's popular and capitalizing on it - yes, that's him singing the Spider-Bells holiday song. He’s doing his best, but at one moment in the fight with Kingpin and co., he pauses and says, “I’m so tired.”  For whatever reason, that moment really hit me. It brings a level of humanity to this animated hero that I was unprepared for.
  • Also, there is a Stan Lee cameo, which brought me to tears, because it’s the first one we have without him actually here.  I would imagine there will be a couple more of those in both Captain Marvel, and Endgame, but that might be it, and I definitely had a hard time when it finally hit me that there won’t be more Stan Lee cameos.

Overall, this movie is exceptional. It’s beautiful, it’s funny, it’s action-packed, and it’s inspiring.  Miles is a fantastic Spider-Man.

9 out of 10 – near flawless.

Yes, stay tuned after the credits for a bit of hilarity with a popular meme.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Movie Review: Robin Hood (2018) (PG13 – 116 minutes)

110 years after the first Robin Hood movie was released in 1908 (Robin Hood and his Merry Men), we get yet another version of the classic tale. 

There are just about a countless number of versions of the story, and just about everyone has their favorite.  I have always been partial to the Disney version with the foxes, and I particularly enjoyed the cameo in the TV version of Ivanhoe from 1982.  Big time bonus points if you remember that one.
I will say that I love Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves from 1991.  The soundtrack is pure magic, the look of the movie is beautiful.  It added a super-awesome Morgan Freeman as the Azeem the Moor, who insists on returning to England with Robin after he saved his life during the Crusades.  Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio’s Marian is no-nonsense and capable (to a point), Michael McShane’s Friar Tuck is loud and hilarious, Michael Wincott’s Guy of Gisborne is pure evil, Brian Blessed shows up briefly as Robin’s father, Christian Slater is fun as a very 90s Will Scarlett, Nick Brimble is a large and powerful Little John.  Kevin Costner is just fine as Robin - okay, from time to time, less than fine, but I’ll let it slide because everyone else is so damn good.  And of course, the definitive portrayal of The Sheriff of Nottingham by the exceptional Alan Rickman.  If you haven’t seen it in a while, re-watch it to see how perfectly over-the-top he is. No one has ever been more convincing about cutting out hearts with spoons and canceling Christmas.

Since I love that version so much, it would take something really special for me to enjoy a new version.  The Russell Crowe 2010 version was not, and neither is this new one.
Taron Edgerton plays Robin of Loxley this time around.  He was a young rich noble, having a great time hooking up with Marian in his large manor. He then gets conscripted by the Sheriff of Nottingham and heads off to the Crusades to “free the holy land”.  He does fairly well with his crew, which seems to be led by Guy of Gisborne, but starts to get sick about the war when his countrymen start killing the locals for little to no reason.  He attempts to save the life of a boy, earning the respect of his father.  After being injured and heading back home, the father of the slain boy joins him, and together they hatch a plot to try to stop the Sheriff from continuing his evil plan to keep the war going to make a profit while in cahoots with the church.  I’m not entirely clear on the sheriff’s plan. 

Robin and John (as he tells Robin his name translates to) begin by robbing the rich and giving the money to the common people who are working in the mines…you know, the famous mines of Nottingham.  He starts a bit of a rebellion because he’s playing at being the nobleman Robin back from the war, but “The Hood” after-hours, the thief. The cardinal comes to visit the sheriff, and Robin, John, and not-merry men stage a big coup, and then have to retreat to the forest.

Directed by Otto Bathurst, who is known for Peaky Blinders and Black Mirror, the movie has some interesting action sequences, but an overly-complicated plot. It also suffers a bit from trying too hard to be cool.  The story of Robin Hood is not one that is clamoring for a “flashy” update, so the entire thing feels un-asked for and unnecessary.  The cast is interesting, but are not given much to do.

  • Taron Egerton is certainly charismatic and action-capable. He certainly tries his best, and seems to be having a good time with the daytime noble and nighttime thief versions of his character. He’s better than this material and needs something else.

  • Jamie Foxx as little John seems to be doing a version of Morgan Freeman’s Azeem, which is not really a problem, and Foxx is always watchable.  He does have the most to do emotionally in this story, but that seems to only last one scene.

  • Villain-of-the-moment Ben Mendelsohn plays the Sheriff, and the reality is that it’s not fair to compare his performance to Rickman’s, but honestly, I can’t help it. He seems to just be Orson Krennic in a different location – even the outfit is similar.

  • Eve Hewson plays Marian this time around, and since she believed Robin to be killed in war, she’s remarried and helping organize the folks in the mines.

  • Jamie Dornan plays Marian’s new husband, Will Scarlet, who starts off wanting to represent the common people of the mine at the ‘big table’, and then things get more complicated.

  • Tim Minchin plays Friar Tuck, and, knowing how entertaining he is, I actually wanted a little more for him to do, and for what he was doing to be less restrained.

  • Paul Anderson plays this version of Guy of Gisbourne, he’s basically a military thug who, once done killing folks in Jerusalem, comes back and gets hired to kill folks in England.

  • F. Murray Abraham shows up as the ‘Cardinal’ who is in league with the sheriff to make money off the war.

Overall, the movie is not terrible, but it just feels forced in most places. It tries really hard to update the story and modernize the feel of the characters, but I don’t think anyone was asking for that – I know I wasn’t.
4 out of 10

Bonus, just watch this one again.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Movie Review: Widows (R – 129 minutes)

Let me start out by telling you that the dog is fine.  The dog makes it all the way through the movie just fine – and I really wish someone had told me that prior to seeing this movie. I spent a lot of unnecessary time worrying if the dog was going to make it.  She does.

Widows was originally a British TV series in 1983. Steve McQueen has wanted to remake it into a movie for some time.  He partnered with Gillian Flynn, the writer of Gone Girl, to polish up the screenplay.
The story begins with Veronica, who is married to Harry.  Veronica and Harry lost a son, but we don’t really know how long ago.  Harry is a criminal, but we don’t really know how much Veronica knows about that.  For some reason, Harry steals a bunch of money from Alderman-in-the-running Jamal Manning.  In the process, Harry and his three partners, Florek, Carlos, and Jimmy, all end up dead – caught by the cops as they were trying to escape with the money, which burns up in the subsequent explosion.  Well, burned up money does Jamal and his brother, Jatemme, no good, so Jamal promptly threatens Veronica.  He tells her to get him $2 million in four weeks. 

Veronica finds a key in Harry’s possessions that leads her to a notebook, which then leads her to Harry’s hideout and his next plan.  A plan to steal $5 million from Jamal’s opponent in the Adelman race, Jack Mulligan, ironically a previous friend of Harry’s.  Veronica gets together with the other widows left behind by the explosion – correction, she gets together with Florek’s widow (Alice), Carlos’s widow (Linda), and then Linda’s babysitter Belle.  Jimmy’s widow, Amanda, has some other stuff going on.  The four women set about taking on Harry’s next target in order to get the money to give to Jamal so he can use it to defeat Jack and hopefully leave them alone.

It’s a little difficult to describe this movie, or tell you which genre it best fits.  It’s not an action movie, despite what the trailers depicted.  There’s really only one and a half action sequences in the movie. It’s not quite a drama, because there are a lot of twists and turns.  I think ‘thriller’ comes closest, but it’s a little slow-moving for that description.  McQueen has done a wonderful job assembling some quality pieces and a really interesting story with multiple intertwining characters.  It feels slow at some points, but only to build the drama and the tension.  It is a complicated, layered story that is elevated by some excellent performances.

  • It is absolutely Viola Davis’s movie and she owns the entire thing top to bottom. She’s incredible watchable, even when Veronica is at her weakest.  Pulling herself up, learning more about her husband than she bargained for, and begrudgingly stepping into his shoes even if she is not completely prepared gives this role a huge range of emotions and qualities, and I don’t know if any other actress could have pulled it off as well.  Because she is such a standout, the other three women didn’t get as much to do as I wanted.

  • Elizabeth Debicki’s Alice gets some key scenes that define her relationship with Florek, and her complete unpreparedness for a life without a domineering husband.  In a way, Alice is the most interesting character because she changes the most throughout the story. 

  • Michelle Rodriguez plays Linda Perelli, and she was running a quinceanera store which her husband seemed to take all the money from, so once he dies, she’s left with nothing. She does a good job of playing a woman who is focused on her kids, but also determined to ensure their comfort.  It’s a little one-note, and I wanted a little more for her to do, having been a fan of hers for so long.

  • Cynthia Erivo plays Belle, who starts out as Linda’s babysitter, but then becomes the group’s driver and runner. She’s build like a 100 meter sprint specialist and spends a good deal of time running in the movie.  I particularly liked her introduction to Davis’s character and how they quickly went toe to toe.

  • Carrie Coon plays Amanda, Jimmy’s widow who doesn’t get the first round of widow messages, and doesn’t join in on the escapades.  She has some other stuff happening.

  • Bryan Tyree Henry continues his run of showing up in everything by playing Jamal Manning. He is both crime boss and aspiring politician, and seems to be not great at either. He is suitably terrifying when he shows up to ‘request’ the money from Veronica.

  • Daniel Kaluuya plays Jatemme Manning, Jamal’s enforcer and is absolutely and completely terrifying.  He shoots a couple of dudes in the early part of the movie just to establish how violent he is, and then threatens some other folks all the way through. 

  • Collin Farrell plays Jack Mulligan, a different crime boss and politician who doesn’t seem to want to be alderman but is running because his father and grandfather were both in the position before him. His father seems to be demanding he run. Farrell seeps into the role, creepy and racist.

  • Liam Neeson plays Harry Rawlings, who at first glance seems like a loving husband and father. Until he gets blown up and Veronica keeps discovering things he had hidden.

  • Jon Bernthal plays Florek Gunner, a scumbag sidekick to Harry who beats his wife and gets shot.

  • Manuel Garcia-Rulfo plays Carlos Perelli, a scumbag who steals from his wife and works with Harry.
  • Coburn Goss plays Jimmy Nunn, Harry’s other scumbag partner.
  • Garret Dillahunt briefly shows up as Bash, Harry and Veronica’s former chauffeur. He’s there to give her some clues, and help establish how horrible Jatemme is.
  • Jacki Weaver plays Alice’s horrible mother. She’s there to help explain why Alice is so damaged.
  • Robert Duvall plays Tom Mulligan, the former alderman who had a heart attack in the position, forcing him to step down – which he clearly did not want to do – so he is forcing his son to run.

  • Lukas Haas shows up as a real estate developer named David who Alice encounters after the death of her husband.  How did I get so old that 80s “it” kid Lukas Haas is now a grown man?  Time to watch Solarbabies again.

  • Kevin J. O’Connor plays a former associate of Harry’s, who is there to just continue to establish how crappy Harry was, and how horrible Jatemme is

  • The dog, Olivia, is played by the same dog from Game Night earlier this year. That dog is getting a lot of work.

Overall, the movie is excellent, but quieter than I expected, and slower than I expected.  I think I was counting on an action thriller – a sort of higher-level Set It Off - and instead it’s a drama thriller.  Still, very good and well worth a viewing. 

8 out of 10.

Bonus – in case you forgot about Set It Off.