From his dissection of the card player’s hands in Rounders, to his dissertation on clubbing baby seals in Good Will Hunting, to his explanation that he knows which vehicle in the parking lot is most likely to have a gun in it in Bourne Identity and more, in just about all of his films Mr. Damon has proven he can memorize and deliver long, dry, and yet convincing speeches that seem like they might trip up other acting professionals. And that’s fine and dandy. I like those movies and I like his characters in those movies. But I don’t know if anyone likes to hear what he has to say after he clocks out, and it seems like the two are beginning to merge. Recently, he’s starred in films that sacrifice entertainment value in favor of agendas, films like the one about fracking. Soooo dramatic. And they’re probably filled with science. Again, whatever.
A year or so ago a couple handed me the book The Martian because they knew I had applied to be an emigrant to Mars. I read it and reviewed it here. This book is now a major motion picture. And all of this is very interesting to me and probably every other independent author, as its author published the book by his own self years before it got picked up by a major publisher and now Hollywood. It looks like Mr. Weir self-published it in 2011, three years before the big boys picked it up in 2014. So it seems that five years after self-publishing a quality book any one of us could watch A-listers act out our story on the big screen. That’s neat. Anyhow, back to the point. The book has nothing to do with making a statement about “every culture” of humans. Anyone that disagrees with this is flat out wrong and I would argue hasn’t read the book. And yet somehow (I picture a lot of whining and temper tantrums and threats to walk out of the room) Matt Damon opens the preview to what looks like a fantastic new space movie with this bogus notion that every culture has a basic instinct to help each other out. I can buy every human does on an individual level. There’s books about that. But the simple fact is there are plenty of cultures who don’t rescue people who find themselves stranded on Mars or mountain tops or the side of the highway. What’s worse is there are plenty of cultures who actively believe in kidnapping people for money or political statements. These cultures are generally those not labeled The West.
I buy and promote the truth that if we’re talking about the level of the soul, then we’re all just people making our way through this world and will more times than not help each other when able. But it is not true that in groups (cultures) we’re all the same and without quantifiable, measurable differences that can be labeled “better” or “worse”–no matter how hard we wish for it.
1. Rocky Balboa (Rocky 6)
2. Rambo (Rambo 4)
3. The Expendables
4. The Expendables 2
5. The Expendables 3 (This time he’s pulled together Antonio Banderas, Wesley Snipes, Mel Gibson and Harrison Ford. And those are in addition to Arnold, Statham, Li, and Ivan Drago. Oh, and Kelsey Grammar, too.)
For any of you who haven’t seen “The Expendables” movies, you’re missing out. Missing out like I thought I was missing out in the late 80s and 90s. I hated that I couldn’t go see rated R movies. It seemed like every good movie was rated R and starred Stallone or Schwarzenegger. When I finally checked those movies out, man was I disappointed. Then Sly shocks the world with “Rocky Balboa” and “Rambo”, only to top them a few years later with “The Expendables”. The movies are over the top in every way imaginable. It’s a formula that can’t lose. Lose the ego, bring the heart, and have a little fun while you’re at it.
Tom–don’t worry. You’re still tops in my book. The easiest way to ensure you never lose the spot is follow Stallone’s lead and give us what we want. You know what I’m talking about TC. That’s right. It’s time for the sequel. (Cue the Anthem.)
The previews looked like someone had re-tooled Hopkins and Baldwin’s 1997 thiller The Edge. Two elderly-ish men trying to survive, and possibly kill each other in the woods. But what we have here is something new. It is at once a simple action flick–kinda B-movie action at that–and a portrayal of one of the most challenging commandments Jesus of Nazareth issued.
The film begins with scenes of the not-so-familiar Bosnian war. We are shown images of genocide which would be striking if they weren’t nauseatingly familiar. Like Shutter Island before it, we are then shown that even the good guys sometimes commit atrocities. While in Bosnia we think we see Travolta killed. Moments later we are introduced to DeNiro’s character and discover he has taken to hunting in the woods…with a camera instead of a gun. Nothing surprising here.
The fact is nothing too surprising happens for the next hour or so of the film. There is a game of cat and mouse that seems to drag on and on with no point. But then something magical happens–the point appears.
Movies which improve with their run-time are few and far between. I grew up on the idea that most movies can be recognized for what they are in the first minute. This one is a rare exception to that rule.
Now Ma–before you think that you’re ready for this film, allow me to offer a word of caution. There are two surprisingly gruesome scenes that even caught me off-guard. So, just ask me about the movie next time you call and I’ll tell you what is so neat about it.
The rest of you, proceed at your own risk. It’s no Saw, but it still isn’t for the faint of heart. Too bad really, because it’s message is so full of heart.