Posts Tagged ‘thriller’

‘Money Monster’ explores what happens when terrorism, business journalism and live TV collide

June 15, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
June 15, 2016

Money Monster is a competent, modest thriller about a terrorist — sorry, a white man beset by financial difficulties and other troubles — who hijacks a live TV show. The show is called Money Monster; its host is the fatuous Lee Gates (George Clooney), who likes being on television but doesn’t trouble himself with any of the ethical issues that normally attend an enterprise with journalistic (or even quasi-journalistic) airs.

The story plays out almost in real time over the course of a few hours on a Friday afternoon. The plot is triggered by the abrupt crash of the stock of a company called Ibis; only a few days before the movie opens, it lost $800 million in value due to what executive Walt Camby (Dominic West) opaquely describes as a computer “glitch.” Shortly before Money Monster goes on the air, producer Patty Fenn (Julia Roberts) learns that Camby has broken his promise to appear for a live in-studio interview about the situation.

But disgruntled — and now financially bereft — janitor cum amateur investor cum gunman Kyle Budwell (Jack O’Connor) doesn’t know about this late cancellation. That’s why he shows up on set waving a gun and lugging two boxes, which he says contain suicide-bomber vests fitted for Gates and Camby. By threatening to shoot Gates, Budwell blackmails the network into airing the TV-jacking live and uncut. The New York Police Department shows up quickly, but the world is captivated by this life-and-death drama that threatens to go on indefinitely…

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Whimsy and seriousness: Connecting the threads, comparing World War II vs. the Los Angeles riots

May 2, 2015

By Matthew E. Milliken
May 2, 2015

Since I can’t stop, won’t stop making connections between different things

and since I want to keep my weekly posting tallies as high as is reasonably possible…

I just wanted to point out that one of the subjects of Friday’s post, the 1992 Los Angeles riots…

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Veteran Los Angeles homicide detective Harry Bosch gets a second shot at justice in Michael Connelly’s ‘The Black Box’

September 17, 2014

By Matthew E. Milliken
Sept. 17, 2014

Michael Connelly is a best-selling mystery author who’s written more than two dozen books. The Black Box, Connelly’s 2012 novel, is the 16th entry in the Harry Bosch series, which chronicles the exploits of a hard-bitten Los Angeles homicide detective.

I’ve read a few Connelly works, including Nine Dragons, the 14th of Bosch’s adventures. In The Black Box, the detective is working on a cold-case investigation of the murder of a Danish journalist and freelance war correspondent on the final night of the 1992 L.A. riots, which broke out after not-guilty verdicts were rendered against the four police officers accusing of beating Rodney King.

Bosch originally investigated Jespersen’s killing two decades ago, but the riots afforded him only a matter of minutes to search for evidence. With the 20th anniversary of the riots fast approaching, he gets another crack at providing justice for the victim, as this early expository passage shows:

Bosch specifically asked for the Anneke Jespersen case and after twenty years returned to it. Not without misgivings. He knew that most cases were solved within the first forty-eight hours and after that the chances of clearance dropped markedly. This case had barely been worked for even one of those forty-eight hours. It had been neglected because of circumstances, and Bosch had always felt guilty about it, as though he had abandoned Anneke Jespersen. No homicide detective likes leaving a case behind unsolved, but in this situation Bosch was given no choice. The case was taken from him. He could easily blame the investigators that followed him on it, but Bosch had to count himself among those responsible. The investigation started with him at the crime scene. He couldn’t help but feel that no matter how short a time he was there, he must have missed something.

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Danger propels Connelly’s ‘Nine Dragons’ at breakneck pace

August 22, 2012

I have not been a true mystery fan for quite a while, but I have read and enjoyed a number of Michael Connelly novels over the years. This American crime novelist is in peak form with his 2009 entry in the Detective Harry Bosch series, Nine Dragons.

The book opens near the end of a dull early September work day in the Los Angeles Police Department’s special homicide squad room. Bosch has been idle for a month and is itching for a case.

The call comes on the second page. Bosch and partner Ignacio Ferras are dispatched to Fortune Liquors in the city’s dodgy South Normandie neighborhood. Owner John Li has been shot to death behind his counter; footage from the store’s security camera has been stolen, but clues suggest gang involvement.

Unfortunately, the immigrant victim’s family — a Chinese-speaking mother and her daughter and son — do very little to point the police toward a specific suspect. Bosch, chafing at the lack of progress, takes his frustration out on his regular partner and on Detective David Chu, who is drawn into the case. It doesn’t help matters that the slow-moving investigation appears to have developed a serious leak. Read the rest of this entry »

Army detective unravels drama and danger in ‘Zero Day’

August 11, 2012

Novelist David Baldacci has sold more than 100 million books, but I mainly knew him from viewing the covers of his books. I was happily surprised, however, by his 2011 thriller about a murder investigation in rural West Virginia that is tied to a sinister plot.

Zero Day revolves around John Puller, a former Army Ranger who saw combat in Afghanistan and Iraq. As the book opens, Puller is a special agent in the service’s Criminal Investigative Division.

He is dispatched to the remote town of Drake after a Pentagon intelligence officer and his family are slaughtered there. Bodies pile up quickly after Puller’s arrival, but clues are scarce. The deaths seem to be connected, however, to a very successful locally owned coal mining company.

With the aid of a whip-smart local police sergeant named Sam Cole, who has close ties to the mining mogul, Puller eludes multiple assassination attempts and begins penetrating the deceptions that have been strewn across his path. And he discovers that tiny Drake has drawn the attention of the Department of Homeland Security, who may be gambling with the lives of its residents. Read the rest of this entry »

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