365 Film Challenge Part 29: Action Movies

Film #106: G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra

I’ve seen the sequel to this but somehow the original totally passed me by, which is weird because I loved GI Joes as a kid, and I love a big dumb action movie, so this would seem to be right up my street.

Channing Tatum stars as Duke, an American soldier who is part of a convoy who are attacked and have their new, extremely dangerous warheads stolen. Duke manages to save the trigger, thanks to help from a group of mysterious agents. He’s then introduced to the GI Joe team, an elite international unit. Can they defeat the bad guys and get the warheads back? And can Duke deal with the fact his ex is fighting for the bad guys?

This movie has some fun parts, and the tone is kept light, but there are some failings on show. The Joe characters I think should have been more diverse in look and styles, and giving Channing Tatum a super suit kinda robs the whole idea that he’s a badass soldier. Less gimmicks, more brawn might have been better. But it’s a fairly entertaining blockbuster and an easy watch. 6/10.

Film #108: Jason Bourne

Matt Damon returns for the fourth time in this, the fifth film of the series. It’s been a few years since he exposed the programme that made him a super spy and went missing, but when former ally Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles) discovers a link between the CIA’s Blackbriar initiative and Bourne’s father, she alerts him and he’s drawn back into the world of espionage as he looks for answers.

What follows is a tense thriller as Bourne has to evade assassins and agents, while the CIA has it’s own problems as agents clash over how to proceed and try to keep their secrets.

I kinda liked this movie, but it feels a bit unnecessary as I felt the third film provided a better ending for the character. Also, without the amnesia aspect of the character one of the things that made the first movie so interesting has been taken away. Similarly, while the first movie was one of the first to use close quarters, fast, no frills fights with bone crunching realism this has become such an industry standard now that this doesn’t stand out as much. It’s solid, and Tommy Lee Jones is on fine form in a supporting role, but it’s the weakest of the series for me. 6/10.

Film #109: Robin Hood (2018)

Taron Egerton dons the hood for this fun, anachronistic take on the familiar tale. Robin of Loxley is a rich kid who gets drafted to fight in the Crusades, where he grows tired of the killing and disillusioned with the cause. During an intense street battle he crosses paths with a Saracen fighter who loses a hand in the battle, later on the man’s son is due to be executed and Robin attempts to stop it, but fails.

Injured, he is shipped home, where he finds his estate in ruins having been taken by the Sheriff (Ben Mendelsohn) due to debts and no tax being paid and everyone thinks he has been dead for two years. In that time his girlfriend Marian (Eve Hewson) has moved on and that the Sheriff taxes the people hard, using the Crusades as an excuse and the threat of Saracens coming to England to induce fear. Those who can’t pay are forced to work in the mines, a dystopian setting full of fire, pain and death.

Robin discovers the Saracen fighter has followed him, and names him John (Jamie Foxx). John has a plan, that Robin become a thief and hamper the Sheriff’s attempts to raise money for the crusades, which are causing too much death and seem to be being manipulated as part of a plot by the church, and the Sheriff, to overthrow the king. Posing as a rich lord by day, and thief by night, Robin begins his campaign and begins giving his loot to the population, quickly becoming a hero to them.

I really dug this movie, particularly the way it sets out its stall early in an opening narration that basically says “this isn’t historically accurate, this isn’t the traditional version, this is our version so you may as well enjoy it”. And it continues from there to be daft fun. Egerton and Foxx are charismatic leads, Mendelsohn keeps his Sheriff just shy of ham and convinces as an evil, power hungry foe.

The action sequences are pretty cool, with fast pace and slick visuals, and it’s got an good energy throughout. It won’t be for everyone, but I dug the choices it made and the fun it had with the well known story. I especially liked how the section set on the crusades was clearly informed and designed by recent wars.

It’s silly but fun and I really enjoyed it, while understanding why others might not get on board with it. 8/10.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.

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