Tag Archives: ClassicMovie

Bone Tomahawk

Movie Score: 5 out of 5 (Classic)

Cast: Kurt Russell, Patrick Wilson, Richard Jenkins, Lili Simmons, Matthew Fox, & David Arquette.

Director: S. Craig Zahler

Synopsis: A stranger wanders into a small, western town. His suspicious actions draw the attention of  the town sheriff, Hunt (Kurt Russell), who wounds the man when he tries to run away from an interrogation. That night, Samantha (Lili Simmons), the town’s stand-in doctor, tends to the man’s injury at the jail as Hunt’s deputy stands guard. The next morning, a townsman alerts Hunt that savages kidnapped Samantha, the deputy, and the stranger, which prompts a rescue mission. A four-man search party forms and they set-out after the savages. A lot of fun, death, and fear ensues.

I realize my synopsis might make Bone Tomahawk sound like a rip-off of John Wayne’s 1956 classic, The Searchers, but trusts me, Bone Tomahawk surpasses its predecessor. I think my favorite part of the film is its realness. The movie’s actors skillfully embody the frailty of human life on the west. When the savages attack the town, none of the townspeople run scared or act crazy. Through their actions, the audience can see that such awful occurrences are not uncommon. Also, none of the characters are normal western “heroes” who can shoot from the hip and hit a running man at 100 yards. Each man shoots how a normal, somewhat-skilled cowboy would shoot.

Bone Tomahawk‘s greatest deviation from The Searchers though is its gradual descent from a western film into a horror one.  One of the first indications of such a transition begins with the Zahler’s decision to limit his shots to medium and close-up shots of the search party. At first, this limitation annoyed me because I wanted to see the grand landscapes that often paint western films. However, as Zahler restricts his shots, the audience loses more and more knowledge of what actions occurred outside of the frame, creating a sense of unease. Zahler compounds this feeling by electing not to add a score or soundtrack to the film. Breathing, crickets, and the wind are the only sounds the audience hears, which increased my fear because I felt so alone and lost while watching this movie. Normally, a movie’s score indicates when something is about to happen. Most horror movies have a soundtrack and when it stops, it is hinting that something is about to occur. Bone Tomahawk provided no such signposts leaving me on edge for most of the film.

Zahler also wrote the film and followed a tried and true formula. Place your characters in a bad situation and then make it worse. He did a fantastic job executing this strategy because with each passing moment, the search party fell into deeper and deeper peril. The reason I enjoyed this facet of the movie is because Zahler created believable reasons for each calamity to occur. My favorite was a brief moment of anger from Samantha’s husband, Arthur (Patrick Wilson), one of the four members of the search party. Mr. Brooder, another searcher, made a quip about Samantha that related to an earlier scene. Arthur responds negatively to the joke, punching Brooder. While his punch landed solidly on Brooder’s jaw, Arthur’s broke leg, in splints, lands unevenly on a rock causing the bone to break the skin. This injury forces Arthur to stay behind as the rest of the party carry’s on with its search.

2d8efffec67b68ad17837d440fb3be16-bone-tomahawk-film-industry

Despite all these great facets, the moment that pushed Bone Tomahawk from an excellent film to a classic occurred later in the film when the savages overpower the search party and take them captive. The savages, who are also cannibals, lock the survivors into a cage and take out the previously captured deputy. Up to this point in the film, most violence acts were not shown but only heard. In what was the most grisly scene I’ve ever seen in my life, the savages take the deputy out of his cage, scalp him, shove his scalp in his mouth, take a tomahawk to his genitals, and then devour him. Zahler’s relative restraint in violence up to that point, combined with the high morality of the sheriff and his cohort (except for Brooder at times), the scene was unsettling to the extreme and made hope unreachable for the heroes.

Target Audience: Adults only.

For trailer, see below.

By Hagood Grantham

John Wick: Chapter 2

In this sequel to 2014’s sleeper hit, John Wickthe action picks up where the original ended. John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is still tracking down his 1969 Boss 429 Mustang, the car that Russian thug-prince Iosef Tarasov (Alfie Allen) stole after killing Wick’s puppy. Wick quickly dispatches the remainder of the Russian syndicate and attempts once again to retire from the assassin brotherhood. However, the loathsome Italian mob boss, Santino D’Antonio (played tremendously by Riccardo Scamarcio) recalls a debt from the night of Wick’s “impossible task” that allowed him his freedom. The boss, Viggo Tarasov, alluded to this night in John Wick and how his freedom had a price. In exchange for his prior aid, D’Antonio demands that Wick assassinate his sister, Gianna, who is about to become the head of the Camorra, a title which her brother desires for himself.  

I will stop there because I don’t want to give too much away.

Movie Score: Five out of Five (Classic)

We at Title Roll Reviews, try to reserve this “Classic” ranking for only the most superior movies, but I have to bestow this title on John Wick: Chapter 2. It not only made me incredibly happy, but its director, Chad Stahelski , also kept the action tight while keeping the atmosphere lighthearted despite the gratuitous gore.

My favorite aspect of Wick Chapter 2 was that the producers and Stahelski refused to recycle the first movie for some easy money. Instead, they expanded the world of Wick, adding restraints to the deadliest man on the planet. Wick Chapter 2 also mimicked the exoticism of earlier Bond films.

The first movie’s scale was small: Local Russian mob v. Wick. While its body-count was extremely high, the writers set the movie exclusively in New York. The characters hinted at a larger assassin network and it was this well-established world with smartly funny rules that provided John Wick with a solid foundation that set it apart from increasingly boring action movies like Jason BourneThe Mechanic, and any recent Arnold Schwarzenegger (The Expendables, The Last StandSabotage, etc.) Wick 2 expanded its scope, revealing the intricacies of Wick’s world and some of his past while maintaining Wick’s intrigue (I pray they never make a prequel).

Also, Stahelski and writer Derek Kolstad showed impressive restraint in both John Wick’s resources and in the amount of violence in certain scenes. For example, instead of jumping right into Wick’s famous double-tap, in the first action sequence Wick only uses hand-to-hand combat. This trend of restraint continues throughout the movie. Wick constantly running out of ammunition, adding a sense of realism to the world.  We all know that guns have to be reloaded and ammo is not just laying around downtown NYC, a fact that most action movies seem to forget. The one death that revealed the writer’s greatest restraint was Gianna’s. I won’t spoil it here, but it was quite different and most importantly, it was believable in relation to her character.

john-wick-2-baba-yaga

Finally, Wick Chapter 2 took us to interesting places: the Roman Forum ruins and very futuristic locations in New York. They retained a hint of exoticism that James Bond used to have, with the ruins hosting a strange dubstep group that provided a fun backdrop for a fight. The museum in NYC that hosted the final showdown was beautiful and extremely well shot. It contained vibrant colors and countless mirrors. I have no idea how they choreographed the fighting and camera-work so kudos to Stahelski and his stunt coordinators.

Most importantly, Wick Chapter 2 does not take itself too seriously. There are added moments of humor and winks to the audience that it knows how ridiculous its premise is. I applaud Kolstad for striking this balance between humor and badass badassery.

Please, skip Fifty Shades Darker and talk your significant other into seeing this phenomenal movie. Yes, it is brutally violent, but it is vastly better made than that BDSM garbage.

Target Audience: Teens, adults, gamers, and anyone who enjoys action flicks.

For trailer, see below.

By Hagood Grantham