Posts Tagged ‘Ashley Judd’

Michael Mann’s complex, sprawling ‘Heat’ is one of the definitive crime dramas of the 1990s

December 1, 2015

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Dec. 1, 2015

Heat, the gritty, glamorous Los Angeles crime drama written and directed by Michael Mann, may be The Godfather of the 1990s.

I make that claim not because the 1995 movie runs nearly three hours, or because it stars Al Pacino, who played Michael Corleone in the Godfather series, or because it co-stars Robert De Niro, who played a younger version of Michael’s father, Vito Corleone (the part played by Marlon Brando in the original), in The Godfather: Part II, although I would maintain all of those facts certainly bolster my case. Instead, I write that because Heat, like Francis Ford Coppola’s Godfather movies, is as focused on its characters’ family intrigues as it is on the criminal (and, in this film, police) activities conducted by many of those characters.

Take Vincent Hanna, the hotshot Los Angeles police detective portrayed by Pacino. He’s been married to his third wife, Justine (Diane Venora), for a number of years, but he remains stubbornly unwilling or unable to talk with her about the depraved crimes and criminals whom he investigates on a daily basis. Hanna’s stepdaughter, Lauren (Natalie Portman), is an adolescent on the verge of a nervous breakdown; in one of Heat’s earliest scenes, her inability to find a hair tie in the preferred color triggers a meltdown.

Neil McCauley, the master thief whom De Niro plays, has no family of his own (other than his crew, that is). One of McCauley’s accomplices, Chris Shiherlis (Val Kilmer) should be rolling in money thanks to the tightly knit gang’s exploits, but he’s gambled most of it away. Now his wife, Charlene (Ashley Judd), wants Chris to find a way to stop hemorrhaging cash and to turn legitimate without stinting on their lavish lifestyle. One of the movie’s key plot points involves both McCauley and Hanna uncovering the Shiherlis’s vulnerabilities and attempting to exploit them.

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‘Olympus Has Fallen’ flies high on fast-paced plot and high-impact violence

April 25, 2013

Director Antoine Fuqua has crafted a hard-hitting action picture in Olympus Has Fallen, the new thriller about a fiendishly complicated attack on Washington, D.C., that results in America’s president being held hostage.

Gerard Butler stars as Secret Service agent Mike Banning, a former military man who manages to infiltrate the White House even as a terrorist group aligned with North Korea finishes a brutal takeover of the president’s residence. His archenemy is Kang, played by Rick Yune, whose extreme cruelty is matched only by his cunning. Kang is backed by turncoat former Secret Service man Forbes (an oily Dylan McDermott) and a gang of anonymous henchmen who put up little resistance as Banning shoots, slashes and chops his way through the increasingly rubble-filled building.

The supporting cast includes Aaron Eckhart as President Benjamin Asher, Ashley Judd and Finley Jacobsen as the other members of the First Family, Angela Bassett, Melissa Leo, Morgan Freeman and Robert Forster as government officials, and Radha Mitchell in a small role as Banning’s wife.

While the plot is clearly derivative of Die Hard, down to the doomed mid-picture intervention by a squad of heavily armed soldiers, the execution is fresh enough and the cast appealing enough to make the endeavor work. A caution for the young and the faint of heart: The picture, scripted by Creighton Rothenberger and Katrin Benedikt, is more than deserving of its R rating. Banning has no mercy for his foes, and the film’s victims of violence include unarmed civilians as well as armed good guys.

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