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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Mechanic

Title: The Mechanic

Year of Release: 2011

Date Viewed: January 30th, 2011

MPAA Rating: R

Seeing Jason Statham's name on a movie poster is all it takes for my friends to visit the multiplex. I tagged along because I always love hanging out with them and because Statham's movies are usually a one-note instrument and thereby easy to review.

Statham's character calls himself a mechanic but is really an assassin named Arthur Bishop. You've heard the comedic threat of murdering someone and making it look like an accident. That's actually what Bishop does for a living. In the opening scene, he manages to drown a mobster in his swimming pool while maintaining the illusion of casual exercise long enough to escape the retaliation. No rhyme. No reason. No set-up. He enters, does the job and goes home. This pattern repeats roughly a half dozen times throughout the movie in varying degrees of challenge. Bishop is an enigma. We barely get to know who he is or who he works for.

A pivotal occurrence comes when Bishop is assigned to terminate former mentor Harry McKenna (Donald Sutherland), which leads to what is probably his first ever honorable kill. A new assignment immediately arises, one that Bishop creates for himself. Train Harry's son Steve (Ben Foster) as a sidekick. Steve has a case of Bruce Wayne syndrome. His father's death left a void in his life. His burning need for vengeance inspires him to quell dangerous murderers by killing them first, completely unaware that his teacher was the one responsible for the original life-altering event.

The Mechanic is a reworking of a 1972 film by the same name which had Charles Bronson in the title role. Although I haven't seen that one yet, it's safe to say that Statham made the role his own. All the trademarks are present. He speaks in a calm voice, never at a loss for words. The bad guys always struggle to keep up with his cleverness. He's tough as nails with a side dish of sadism. And there's a standout moment intended to surprise the audience and define his character as the ultimate bad mother-you-know-what. It's very much a typical Jason Statham vehicle for every glossary.

Steve McKenna never really has a chance to come into his own. Quick into his apprenticeship, he becomes an Arthur Bishop clone minus the charm. The assassins' targets do not fare much better. James Bond movies usually offer enough backstory for the bad guys that serve to help strengthen the impact of their eventual demise. This movie doesn't even give a quarter of that effort to its own villains. One such promising character is a televangelist on the verge of becoming a pop culture icon. He has an enormous cult following that believe him to be the sole direct communicator to God. Bishop's employer suspects an abuse of power. Imagine the possibilities here. If he gets involved in...say politics...who knows what might become....never mind, he's dead now. Just like all the other wasted ideas.

It's obvious that this movie was only meant to be a mindless action fest without any character driven drama getting in the way. Fine by me, but why not make it a television series instead and get two for the price of one? The set-up is already tailor-made. Each new episode would feature a new super-villain to eliminate. Sure, the violence would have to be toned down and you wouldn't need Statham, but at least he'll be free to pursue a more challenging project and please his fanbase elsewhere.

My friends and I paid for what we expected to see and we got it. My reception was milder than the rest of the group because I wanted more than what was expected, which wasn't a lot to begin with.

Rating: 4

Sunday, February 20, 2011


Title: Airplane!

Year of Release: 1980

Date Viewed: January 29th, 2011

MPAA Rating: PG

Friend 1: "I just watched a really funny movie. Want to hear about it?"

Friend 2: "A funny movie? What is it?"

Friend 1: "It's a humorous story with actors on a screen. But that's not important now."

Writers/directors Jim Abrahams, Jerry Zucker and David Zucker took the ball and ran with it. Thank goodness nobody stopped them. After thirty plus years of existence, Airplane! is still Class 101 on how to make a spoof comedy. The writing team was able to create something completely fresh out of a product that had gone stale, a fine accomplishment in itself.

The movie's story takes place in some sort of alternate dimension where rationality doesn't always apply and everything is taken in it's literal context. Our hero is Ted Striker (Robert Hays), a disgraced former fighter pilot that must deal with past traumas on a daily basis. During a typical day at his cab driving job, he spots his former girlfriend Elaine Dickinson (Julie Hagerty) at the airport. Ted realizes that he cannot face his demons without Elaine's company. He tries to invite her back into his life but she is uninterested. After learning that Elaine is on stewardess duty for an airplane flight bound for Chicago, Ted buys a ticket for that flight so he can have more time to win back her love.

But an unforeseen disaster strikes. The in-flight meals have poisoned nearly the entire crew, including the now comatose pilots. The life of everyone on board depends upon just one thing. Finding someone who can not only fly the plane, but also didn't have fish for dinner. That man turns out to be Ted Striker. He has no choice but to face his demons where they are strongest; in the air. If he succeeds, he may also win the heart of his beloved Elaine.

One of the best things about Airplane! and what helps it stand out amongst its peers is how the comedy is not always constant. Most movies like this are afraid to go longer than twenty seconds without a gag. Airplane! stays patient, thereby keeping it hard to predict when the silly moments arrive. There are plenty of them, but the movie is smart enough to keep a "story first" mentality all throughout. I wanted to see Striker and Elaine get back together. In a lesser quality script, I wouldn't care in the least. I would just be itching for more jokes.

The casting is brilliant. Far out brilliant. Actors like Peter Graves and Leslie Nielsen had no business being in a movie like this, as they were closely associated with dramatic (often over-dramatic) projects at the time. The script was so unique that the actors probably couldn't figure out how to treat their characters. The dialogue and situations are absurd but everyone acts like it happens every day. So the actors played their roles straight as if they never left the drama genre. It couldn't have worked any better. This thematic contrast between accepted reality and suspended logic is what makes Airplane! such a fun experience. One example is the scene where Ted purchases his plane ticket. The steward offers the option for smoking or non-smoking. Ted chooses smoking and he is handed a ticket that literally has smoke coming from the paper. What purpose this has in the movie's context is anybody's guess, but it's hilarious.

Airplane! was conceived as a humorous nod to the Airport film series, which usually involved lone reluctant ordinary characters called upon to save the day. Robert Hays plays the "Joe Schmo" Ted Striker role so well that it's a little difficult to watch him in other movies without half-expecting him to dance to The Bee Gees' "Stayin' Alive." (One of many classic scenes.)

Not only are the quantity of jokes impressive, so is the variety. We have play on words, funny character names, phrases taken too literally, oblivious caretakers, celebrity cameos, movie references, slapstick, clean humor, dirty humor, cut-away gags, sight gags, repeat gags and enough "blink and you'll miss it" material to warrant repeat viewings. The writers are not afraid to push buttons either. After all, it's not comedy unless someone somewhere is offended.

I was lucky enough to watch this film on the big screen last month when the AMC movie theatre chain gave it a limited run in honor of its thirtieth anniversary. I can honestly say that I laughed harder at this movie than all of my watched comedies from last year combined. I've never been one to insist that the "olden days" were always better. But in the case of movies like Airplane!, it's undeniably true that they just don't make them like they used to.

Rating: 9

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

True Grit

Title: True Grit

Year of Release: 2010

Date Viewed: January 23rd, 2011

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Whenever we reach a point where the Western genre appears to be dead, a gem falls from the sky that promises a new golden age. Leave it to the dependable Coen brothers to present a revenge thriller with top professionalism. It's not stylish nor plain. It simply does what it needs to do and does it with class.

The well-known 1969 adaptation of Charles Portis' novel is given fond acknowledgement, but this offering is more concerned with modeling itself after Portis' original vision. Fans of the John Wayne classic need not worry though. There is still plenty of cigarette smoke and whiskey to go around.

The film begins with an auditory introduction to set up the story of fourteen year old Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld). Mattie's beloved father was murdered by goon-for-hire Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin) over an unestablished dispute. She leaves behind her humble farm roots to find a dependable U.S. Marshal to aid her quest of revenge. She sets her sights on Reuben "Rooster" Cogburn, infamous for his erratic behavior and bad habits. It is his track record that interests Mattie the most. Cogburn has the "true grit" that she is looking for.

Before any arrangements could be finalized, Mattie encounters someone else that wants to find Chaney. Texas Ranger LaBoeuf (Matt Damon) is out for justice in response to a murder committed by Chaney in LaBoeuf's hometown. Unlike Mattie, LaBoeuf wants to capture Chaney alive so he can face trial and execution. Through a series of deceptive events and coincidences, Mattie manages to use both LaBeouf and Cogburn to her advantage, but the differing egos will put the final outcome in question.

The first noticeable thing about True Grit is its desire to get straight to business. There is not a lot of fancy stuff such as establishing shots until the second act. The music score is kept minimal but is pleasant to hear when it does appear. The dialogue sometimes seems wooden because the actors seem unwilling or perhaps were instructed not to make the show about themselves. It's more important to understand what they say instead of how it's said. The exception is Bridges' performance as Cogburn. Most of his lines would benefit from subtitles, but it's part of the charm.

Another interesting thing is how often a character's appearance does not include the expected personality. The scoundrel Cogburn and his clothes are visibly worn. He is not well groomed and probably carries the scent of aged whiskey. Yet he proves to be a far superior gentleman than the professional looking Marshal LaBoeuf, who makes it clear early on that he is not afraid to strike a female. The villain Chaney appears to be more confused than sadistic, a contrarian take over the typical invincible bad guy. Hence, he is just as vulnerable as the heroes.

Since most of the story is seen through Mattie Ross' perspective, there are many camera shots designed to represent her POV. Some of the big confrontations are seen from Mattie's distant position, leaving the viewer to piece together what might have been said before the fight. It also lowers the predictability of the turning points.

True Grit stays confident in its direction through the entire duration. It's not the boldest project produced by the Coen Brothers, but it is one of their finest on an already impressive filmography. The legend of the Coens and Rooster Cogburn lives on.

Rating: 8

Monday, February 14, 2011

Event Horizon

Title: Event Horizon

Year of Release: 1997

Date Viewed: January 16th, 2011

MPAA Rating: R

Humans have come a long way from their naive beginning. Thanks to evolving brains and advancement in scientific research, we have a clearer understanding of our universe now more than ever. Everything from the way our minds work to how long it takes for Neptune to orbit the Sun can be accurately measured through rational terms. But knowledge only goes as far as our longest journey. The question that fuels the mind of all astronomers is "What is beyond that?" As far it can be seen, space has no end. Whatever lies beyond the farthest known galaxy has yet to be explored by mankind. If it can't be explored, it can't be understood. And that is why imagination, just like space, has no limit.

Event Horizon's story imagines what could exist beyond the maps. Furthermore, it explores the possibility that we may be closer connected to this unknown realm than could ever be realized.

Set in the year 2047, we follow the crew of the Lewis and Clark spaceship. They have been sent on a mission from Earth to investigate the Event Horizon, a state of the art spaceship that had vanished near Neptune seven years prior and has now re-emerged in the same general area. Other than a vague distress call, there are no clues as to why the ship and its crew had disappeared. Leading the investigation is Captain Miller (Laurence Fishburne) and the assortment of engineers under his command. Accompanying the crew is Doctor William Weir (Sam Neill), the original designer of the Event Horizon. Weir reveals that the ship's purpose was to utilize a prototype gravity drive designed to create its own "black hole", which would serve as a gateway to faster space travel.

Soon after reaching their destination, an accident damages the Lewis and Clark's means of travel. The crew takes refuge inside the Event Horizon until the ship can be repaired. Once there, each crew member encounters personalized perils and hallucinations related to their deepest fears. The only thing worse than confronting the fear is discovering who or what could be controlling it.

The cheesy opening sequence almost does a disservice to the rest of the film. A stage is set for a visual spectacle but it's far more intelligent than that. It's really a ruse to keep the audience at ease for preparation into this dark twisted prediction of what lies beyond our boundaries..

There was a correlation with the characters' increasing paranoia and my personal unease while watching. In a way, the effect mismatches the setting. There's a high volume of interior space that somehow causes a sense of claustrophobia. A similar effect can be felt in Ridley Scott's Alien, except there is no creature or slasher out to pick off the characters one by one. The only remaining detail I wish to discuss about the plot is that it involves a higher power, its range depending on the strength of mind. There is just enough hints to offer fair conclusions on what this mysterious force could be and just the right amount of ambiguity to leave you thinking about it long after it's over. Truth be told, I didn't sleep perfectly the night I viewed this film.

The pacing couldn't have been much better. When this "power" begins its big push to engulf these characters in fear, it's a series of adrenaline rushes, each one stronger than the last. The movie's depiction of dark despair rivals the vision of some Renaissance artists.

Sam Neill's character is by far the most interesting one. His unpredictable nature is the other big driving force for this story. Most of the others however are formulaic. You're got the usual fearless leader (Laurence Fishburne doing what he does best), the guy with a chip on his shoulder and the guy that always knows the right funny line to say at the right time. Carbon copy characters have no place in psychological thrillers like these.

Despite this weak link, the film manages to hold together really well. The final act is breathtaking. When the credits rolled, it felt like waking from a nightmare; the kind you couldn't wait to tell your friends about.

Rating: 8

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Green Hornet

Title: The Green Hornet

Year of Release: 2011

Date Viewed: January 8th, 2011

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Seth Rogan as a superhero? Good one, but April is still three months away. Nice try. Oh, you're serious. Which superhero is he? The Green Hornet? You mean that old TV show with Bruce Lee? Okay, I'll bite. Who's in the Bruce Lee role? Jay Chou? Who the heck is that? Who is directing this thing? Michel Gondry? The guy who did Eternal Sunshine? What is he doing making an action movie? This is an action movie, right? Who wrote the script? Seth Rogen again? Look, Pineapple Express was one thing, but this? I don't know. Who else in the movie? Cameron Diaz? What is she there for? Eye candy? Okay, that part sounds believable.

I had some justifiable reservations about watching The Green Hornet. Although the results were not as messy as anticipated, I still stand my ground that the project would have likely been better off in more seasoned hands.

Seth Rogan plays Britt Reid, a spoiled slacker who inherits his father's news media company after he dies under suspicious circumstances. Britt's lack of ambition doesn't allow him to effectively lead the organization, so it appears that stepping down is the only option. It's not until Britt meets Kato (Jay Chou), one of his father's loyal servants, that the real possibilities become clear. The pair have nothing in common except that they both appreciate fancy cars and macho weaponry. Kato's knack for creating innovative technology inspires Britt to conjure up an idea. Use the gadgets to do something meaningful for once in their lives; like fight crime. With this, a new media sensation is born. The legend of The Green Hornet; heroes that act as villains. Justice is served and more newspaper subscriptions are sold. A win-win situation for everybody.

Seth Rogen is at least humble enough to recognize that he's not superhero material, neither with image nor skills. So his character had to act as an incompetent klutz that unwittingly sabotages every operation, only to later take all the credit for any success. This kind of character doesn't really work in a movie full of incompetents, which is what we get here. Rogen's character should be lost in a misunderstood world. Instead, everyone (with the exception of Kato) acts like they attended the same school of acting. Most characters are not very likable either. I'm still trying to figure out what drove Britt to fire his entire staff of household servants. For a guy that doesn't care much about anything, he sure acted quick on that button.

Cameron Diaz doesn't do any favors for her typecast resume. Britt acts like her character is vital to keeping his operation under wraps, yet we don't actually see her do anything except participate in slapstick, tease some romance and smile at the camera.

Christoph Waltz, fresh off his recent Oscar win for Inglourious Basterds, is mostly wasted in the head villain role. His character is more concerned over how intimidating he looks instead of actually being intimidating. If you can't get someone like Waltz to keep the crowd on their toes, you're either making a parody or you're not doing your job right. The supporting villains don't add much credibility either. The opening scene features Waltz and an uncredited James Franco trading foul-mouthed insults with comical words. It wasn't funny or amusing, but it was an early indicator that nothing has changed from the usual Rogen and company fare.

That's not entirely true though. The scenes that I thought would face the most trouble, the action scenes, actually deliver. The cliches like random explosions and shaky cameras are not as overbearing as most actions scenes in this modern era. There are car chases and fight scenes galore (including another MTV award nomination), but none borrow too heavily from each other. And to be fair, Rogen's gift of comedic timing is still present. His annoyance factor will vary. Most of the good things are kept interesting enough to make The Green Hornet a worthwhile rental, assuming that your surround sound is up for the job. You'll want to use it. Trust me.

Rating: 5

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Vampires Suck

Title: Vampires Suck

Year of Release: 2010

Date Viewed: January 8th, 2011

MPAA Rating: PG-13

In what should have come as no surprise, someone decided to greenlight a movie that would spoof the popular Twilight saga. And then someone made the fatal mistake of allowing Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer to write and direct the project. Maybe that shouldn't have been a surprise either. After all, why take the time and effort to produce a quality effort when you can just sleepwalk the whole thing, keep the budget minimal and reference everything topical in pop culture? With a formula like that, it's nearly impossible to produce a flop. That's why Friedberg and Seltzer have earned a reputation as entertainment exploiters instead of respected filmmakers.

Vampires Suck is their latest offering. The title was probably bait to lure in the non-Twilight fans that take great pleasure in mocking Stephanie Meyer's fanbase at every turn. More likely though, it will only remind them of how goofy the franchise is and then drive them further away from anything vampire-related. Such a shame too. It used to be cool to like vampires.

The plot is pretty much a carbon copy of all the major events from the first two Twilight stories. Nothing wrong with that, except that it foreshadows a lack of creativity. Our hero is Becca Crane (Jenn Proske), an outcast teenager that moves to a small town named Sporks. She has trouble making friends at first but soon falls in love with two people that are only half human. Vampire Edward Sullen (Matt Lanter) and werewolf Jacob White (Chris Riggi). As casual Twilight followers can probably already conclude, a significant amount of Friedberg/Seltzer's humor revolves around replacing a familiar name with a slightly modified or opposite word. The rest is mainly a series of gags about how dangerous and socially troubling it is to be romantically involved with mythical characters. Of course, you only need to watch the actual movies to see this idea explored. An often overlooked fact is that the Twilight films are already tongue-in-cheek to begin with. To bank on the notion that they aren't is like saying Superman doesn't know he is strong. Case in point: Jacob reveals to Becca that the reason he appears shirtless all the time is because his contract forces him to. This joke doesn't work because Jacob's bare chest has already been a running gag in every humor/satire outlet since New Moon's release, including the movie itself. This script doesn't offer any new perspectives on already existing absurdities, which is the job that parodies are expected to perform. It just points out the obvious and expects people to laugh out of familiarity.

Pointing things out is the biggest fatal flaw of Vampires Suck. It's bad enough that the pop culture references are doomed to be dated. (Will anyone remember Snooki, the Kardashians or the Jonas Brothers ten years from now? I think not and I hope not.) But just in case a reference gets lost on you, the movie is quick to spell it out. As an example, Becca is told to stop singing like Taylor Swift. This hurts the value of multiple viewings. The best parody films work because they keep direct references to a minimum and require the viewer to look between the lines for more rewarding humor. This habit of spoon feeding gags is something Friedberg and Seltzer have yet to learn from.

They also need to learn how to create clever musical numbers. When the werewolf gang spontaneously danced to The Weather Girls' "It's Raining Men", I reached for the liquor bottle that wasn't there.

This part was challenging, but I did manage to conjure up some positive things to say about Vampires Suck. More often than not, the storyline remains tied to its primary target. This is an improvement from the pair's past projects that detoured from the original idea to reference random movies with no clear purpose. Some of the acting performances are quite good. Jenn Proske does an exceptional imitation of Bella Swan's mannerisms. Some media outlets have unfairly classified it as a Kristen Stewart impersonation, even though anyone who has seen Stewart in movies other than Twilight should know better. Unfortunately, Proske seemed to have run out of different face twitches to use twenty minutes in. Then the gag becomes annoying. But kudos is owed to the lead actors for doing their best with what they had to work with.

In the end though, nothing has changed. A pair of hack comedy writers has once again cashed in on ideas that weren't their own. Once again, they're counting money and laughing their way to the bank. And once again, the reputation of the spoof genre takes another blow, increasing audience skepticism. If I was David Zucker or Jim Abrahams, I would do everything in my power to arrange a long conversation with Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer. Preferably behind closed doors.

Rating: 2


Title: Gattaca

Year of Release: 1997

Date Viewed: January 4th, 2011

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Science Fiction movies tend to predict how society could crumble because of our imperfections. Gattaca presents a world that is more productive than ever for the wrong reasons.

In this world, the workforce is in close correlation with genetic makeup. Physicians can accurately predict a person's lifespan, intelligence and motor skills. There exists technology that can optimize these attributes for unborn children via genetic engineering. The rest are left to traditional birth methods or "God's hands." Vincent Freeman (Ethan Hawke) is a young man born without the aid of genetic optimization. He dreams of travelling into outer space. But due to society's demands for only accepting the most promising applicants for high profile jobs, Vincent's wish is impossible. Racism is replaced by a new form of prejudice; separating the "invalid" away from the high social class of the "valid". Such discrimination is illegal by law but common everywhere, much like modern discrimination. Vincent suffers from myopia and heart complications. His life expectancy is only thirty years. This data is a barrier to many career choices. Employers no longer examine the content of a person's character. They are only interested in scientific potential.

Vincent's brother Anton (Loren Dean) was born later with the advantage of genetic engineering. Evidence of their uneven potential can be seen early on when the two brothers (as teens) practice their sibling rivalry by competing against each other in physical competition. The older more privileged Anton would triumph almost every time. But it is the few times that Vincent was able to overcome the odds that inspire him to follow his dreams and beat the system.

A few rules need to be broken for Vincent to have a fighting chance. To pass the many oncoming gene tests conducted by the Gattaca Aerospace Corporation, Vincent has to take someone else's identity; that includes both a new name and genetic data. This is where Jerome Morrow (Jude Law) enters the picture. Jerome was a "valid" star athlete that became crippled following a suicide attempt. His reasoning behind that action? Jerome finished second place in a historic competition despite having been genetically groomed to become the best. Vincent surgically alters his figure to match Jerome's data and uses Jerome's superior DNA to avoid detection from the authorities. If Vincent can stay undercover long enough, and if his own natural will remains strong, he may have a chance to embark on a once in a lifetime voyage to Saturn's moon; a mission reserved only for the most promising applicants.

Gattaca is thought provoking from the very beginning. Vincent had barely began to narrate his childhood when I found myself asking questions. Why did perfection become such a universally desired outcome that it became imperative? What gives someone the right to judge potential? Do the ends justify the means? We are not given definite answers. We are expected to accept reality as simply the way things have to be, just as how Vincent was born into it. It's easy to feel sympathetic for Vincent when it seems the entire world cannot care less for him. Even Jerome feels that a day isn't complete without mocking Vincent for his genetic shortcomings.

The American dream was founded on the idea that anyone can be anything if the will is strong enough. Historically, prejudice has been one of the most common barriers for human goals, often committed by individuals that fear unknown cultures or demographics. The aforementioned scientific breakthrough brings a new kind of fear; falling short of expected standards. And with that comes a new American dream. Strengthening overall performance at the cost of individual freedom. The story can be classified as anti-government or perhaps even anti-science. I prefer to think of it as a pro-humanity tale. A cautionary message of what could happen if science is allowed to organize our lives instead of merely enlightening it. Some costs can be measured on a chart. Others, like Vincent's dream, are priceless.

Ironically, the human spirit conquering all turns out to be only an idea in script form. Gattaca takes a flawed approach in sending this message across. In nearly every scenario, Vincent reaches closer to his goal via methods of cheating. The system is unfair, so the cheating is justified. But it's still cheating nonetheless. Every physical attribute needed to be disguised, from Vincent's blood type to his body size and even his writing hand. Much of the drama revolves around Vincent narrowly escaping discovery. There is too little emphasis on the idea of rising above one's own potential, despite how often the characters speak of it. Actions speak louder than words.

On the visual side of things, there wasn't very much funding for special effects, which is okay since the movie is about the ideas rather than the image. Even so, it would have been nice to see more variety in the settings. For a world that's booming in prosperity, Gattaca's preference to maintain a gritty look makes everything look bleaker than it should. Adding to the problem is the music score that seemed more interested in grating on my nerves instead of helping to guide the story. On the other hand, the visual simplicity mirrors the aura of a Ray Bradbury novel. I imagine his work was a notable inspiration behind this.

Most of the characters that Vincent encounters throughout the story are set up well and serve their purpose. There is however one glaring weak link that was given more attention than deserved. Vincent acquires a love interest played by Uma Thurman. She relates to Vincent in a way, because she also suffers from less than desirable genetics. Aside from this fact being revealed, the angle was unnecessary. The romance felt forced and it left me to wonder if the director had watched Casablanca too many times.

Gattaca presents some excellent ideas with a clear opinion, but it doesn't back itself up very well. Still, there is a lot to ponder here and it's sure to renew appreciation for a democratic system that many take for granted. The movie falls short of its own potential, but like our hero Vincent, it doesn't deserve to be counted out.

Rating: 6