Tony Scott’s Spy Game unites Brad Pitt and Robert Redford, two gorgeous actors who became known just as much for their acting as their looks as their careers progressed onward.
Redford is CIA Case Officer Nathan D. Muir and Pitt is an agent he mentored, Tom Bishop. Bishop has been detained in China along with his lover, relief worker Elizabeth Hadley (Catherine McCormack), a civilian asset that broke up the friendship between the two men.
Even though Muir is retiring, he feels that he must atone for the way that he and Bishop came to stop being so close by rescuing him, even if he must put his long career and accomplishments on the line to make it happen.
This movie was very important to the people who made it: Pitt turned down The Bourne Identity while Scott felt that a helicopter was so necessary to the Berlin scene that he paid for it himself.
I don’t think this movie would have the same impact without the two stars, but I’m also a big fan of Tony Scott’s films. He could make something that would be total junk by anyone else yet would find so much personal art within it that you couldn’t help but watch the final film.
Directed by Harald Zwart (Agent Cody Banks) and written by Stan Seidel — who died before the movie came out and based so much of the story on his friend’s bartender stories from Humphrey’s Restaurant & Tavern near St. Louis University — the real title of this movie should be “Everyone wants to fuck Liv Tyler.” I mean, yes, that’s crass, but that’s the point of the movie. Her character Jewel has destroyed the lives of Randy (Matt Dillon), Carl (Paul Reiser) and Detective Dehling (John Goodman), the details of which they explain in Rashomon-like fashion.
Even Andrew “Dice” Clay — in the dual role of Utah and Elmo — can’t escape her or the men in her orbit, dying twice in the same film. At least Michael Douglas’ character seems to be able to win her over; Douglas was the king of these roles where he’d somehow be the one man who can tame the wildest of women.
If you’re looking for a movie that has the Tarantino influence and makes fun of the other romantic crime films of the late 90s, well…you could do worse.
Director Johnny To (The Heroic Trio) has created two different tales of criminal masterminds going up against the Hong Kong Police Force, led by Inspector Ho Sheung-sang (Lau Ching-wan).
The Arrow blu ray set comes with both Running Out of Time and its sequel, Running Out of Time 2. Both films appear with high-definition blu ray presentations that have been scanned and restored in 2K. As always, the packaging is incredible from Arrow, with original and newly commissioned artwork by Lucas Peverill plus an illustrated collectors’ booklet featuring new writing on the films by David West.
Running Out of Time has new commentary by Hong Kong film expert Frank Djeng, as well as a second commentary by writers Laurent Cortiaud and Julien Carbon, moderated by Hong Kong film expert Stefan Hammond. There are also interviews with Carbon and Courtiaud, Johnnie To, Lau Ching-wan and Raymond Wong. Plus, there’s a feature entitled The Directors’ Overview of Carbon and Courtiaud, the trailer and an image gallery.
Running Out of Time 2 also has commentary by Djeng, a making-of, Hong Kong Stories, a documentary by director Yves Montmayeur about Hong Kong cinema mythology via Julien Carbon and Laurent Courtiaud’s experience as writers in the HK film industry, the trailer and an image gallery.
Running Out of Time (1999): Cheung Wah (Andy Lau) has been diagnosed with cancer and given four weeks to live. One night, as he eats at a diner, he takes notice of the way that Inspector Ho Sheung-sang handles a bank robbery. Impressed, he decides to play a game against the cop, giving him 72 hours to catch him for a series of increasingly daring crimes. Cheung will admit defeat if Ho can take him to the police station before three days are over.
Generally, Hong Kong cop movies are so deadly serious. This has some moments of that, as the disease killing Cheung is no joking matter. But by the end of the film, the two men have somehow earned each other’s respect, even if Cheung keeps outsmarting his police adversary the whole way to the very end.
Lau is an incredibly popular actor but rarely gets any respect. He’s a populist favorite, but this is the movie that finally won him Best Actor at the Hong Kong Film Awards. From stealing diamonds to repeatedly faking his demise, he’s the heart of this film.
Running Out of Time 2 (2001): Co-directed by Johnnie To and Law Wing-cheung, this sequel finds Inspector Ho Sheung-sang returning to match wits with another criminal mastermind, the unnamed man played by Ekin Cheng.
The man introduces himself by faking his suicide by jumping from a roof. He then announces that he has stolen several priceless Chinese treasures and will tell the press, ruining the insurance company that has been hired to protect them. Where Cheung in the first film relied on his brains, this mysterious magician can tightrope walk and seemingly disappear into thin air.
There’s an amazing scene where a chase between the two rivals is paused for water and ice cream. The unnamed man also uses bald eagles to help him steal from people and if that joke means what I think it does, well done.
The follow-up is much funnier than the first film, but it keeps so much of what made me love that movie. It’s definitely worth your attention.
Somehow, someway, Iraqi commandos once broke into a secret American government lab and released the genetically modified rattlesnakes which go under the ground and wait ten years before they emerged in a small town and start biting everyone, which creates a pandemic and man, did I want to watch a pandemic movie when I thought I was watching a snake movie to forget about the pandemic? No, I sure did not.
Santa Mira again gets used in a Fred Old Ray movie and man, this town gets really decimated here and nearly nuked off the face of the Earth so that the government spooks can keep their disease snakes a secret. I can totally see that happening.
Treat Williams and Mary Page Keller play the doctors struggling to stop the disease, all while Marc McClure and Andrew Stevens get cameos.
Give Fred Olen Ray credit. It was once science fiction that the government would totally screw up its response to a pandemic and now it’s science fact.
Colonel John Sykes and his men were sent to save hostages, but when everyone is dead, they go wild and massacre an entire village. They return home to be court-martialed but refuse to go quietly when General Harlan Prescott (Alex Cord, Airwolf) throws the literal book at them. Sykes and his men respond by taking a flight with Prescott hostage.
Who can save them? Matt Marshall (Ice-T) for one. And air hostess Kelly Young (Kimberly Oja). But when Matt gets hurt, anything can happen.
Like you know, Gil Gerard showing up.
Imagine if Executive Decision was made with stock footage.
Imagine a movie where Ice-T shows up nearly forty minutes in and is presumed dead at least twice if not ten times.
Imagine a poster that is so close to Turbulence that I might be watching Turbulence.
Also known as Poison and Midnight Vendetta, this Jim Wynorski film puts together a yin and a yang of enticing female stars with Kari Wuhrer and Barbara Crampton as Ann Stewart and Nicole Garrett.
Ann’s husband Chris will do anything to get ahead, even hot wife her for his clients. Yet when he’s fired — he soon commits suicide — and replaced by Nicole’s husband Scott (Jeff Trachta), you may say that she loses her mind. She starts by blowing up the CEO who fired her husband real good with his entire family collateral damage.
Nicole and Scott barely get along. They’re both too busy with work. Their daughter Darla (Melissa Stone) is coming of age — and doing even more on a washing machine with her boyfriend — while their current housekeeper Karina (Peggy Trentini) is so close to making Scott renounce his marital promises.
That’s when Ann comes on in, kills Karina in the shower, gets hired as the new au pair and starts taking over as wife and mother. Also, she pours raw sugar into diabetic Nicole’s food, which is in no way how you kill a diabetic. You just make them very tired that way. I mean, I guess eventually you could murder someone that way but it feels so ineffective.
Barbara Crampton looks younger than her teen daughter.
Every shot seems to be edited in a way that makes each shot after a closer close-up until scenes cut and paste on top of each other, edits ending before dialogue does, a hamfisted attempt at assembling what one can only imagine are the only takes of each scene with all the coverage of the Little Match Girl on a cold winter’s night.
Then again, Kari Wuhrer and Barbara Crampton go to war.
Remember when Leelee Sobieski read that 9/11 poem on The Tonight Show? Well, this movie has also been claimed as a victim of that attack, as its box office wasn’t what was expected, so everyone instantly used that date as a scapegoat — not just Mariah Carey, who for years has used it to defend the bombing of Glitter.
Ruby Baker (Sobieski) and her brother Rhett (Trevor Morgan) have become orphans and placed in the care of their former neighbors, Dr. Erin Glass (Diane Lane) and Terry Glass (Stellan Skarsgård). For Rhett, it works out pretty well, because he can play video games all night. But for Ruby, it means watching Dr. Glass shoot up and Mr. Glass continually insinuate that they’re all alone if you know what I mean.
The estate and trust fund lawyer Alvin Begleiter (Bruce Dern) is called in, but even a social worker is fooled. Meanwhile, Terry is paying off loan sharks with the kids’ inheritance instead of putting them through private school. And for some reason, Ruby is still dumb enough to allow him to write one of her papers, which he plagiarizes because she has no idea what gaslighting or being a junior quasi-giallo heroine entails.
Things get worse — Dr. Glass fatally overdoses, the loan sharks come to get their money or kill everyone, Chris Noth shows up — and Rita Wilson refused to even be credited for being in it. Director Daniel Sackheim produced and directed four episodes of the third season of True Detective, as well as plenty of other TV shows, so he’s recovered nicely. Writer Wesley Strick also wrote Wolf, The Saint, Doom, the remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street and Final Analysis, yet people allowed him to keep writing movies. Maybe it’s because he also wrote Arachnophobiaand Cape Fear, right?
Perhaps most importantly, the sequel — Glass House: The Good Mother — has none of the actors or characters from this movie or even the house.
In the near future — 20XX? — every girl between the ages of 14 and 16 years old begins to experience NDH — Near Death Happiness — a period of immense joy before dying and becoming a Stacy, or a zombie, which must be chopped into pieces in a process called Repeat-Kill by the garbage truck driving Romero Repeat-Kill Troops, so you know exactly where this film’s tongue is at.
Loved ones are also the only people legally allowed to Repeat-KIll a Stacy and they’re being marketed to by companies who make a chainsaw that fits right on your hand, the Blues Campbell’s Right Hand 2.
This movie has way more heart than I thought it would. It also has barrels full of body parts.
Directed by Jim Wynorski, produced by Roger Corman and starring Eric Roberts and Corbin Bernsen, all based around the footage from the Carnosaur movies and new reaction shots? Man, if a movie has been made for the purpose of ending up on this site, it’s Raptor, which may as well be Carnosaur 4.
Sheriff Jim Tanner (Roberts, who has made a Faustian bargain with us where we must watch all of his movies if we want to keep our souls and blu ray collections) and his assistant Barbara investigate a series of mutilations which leads them to ex-military scientist Dr. Hyde (Bernsen) who is cloning dinosaurs.
I kind of love that film stock changes, lighting changes, dinosaurs change and everything looks completely put together with chewing gum and some masking tape. Yet the end fight — again ripping off Aliens — has Eric Roberts in a forklift battling a giant rubbery dinosaur and you know, these are the kind of moments where life ever so fleetingly makes sense.
We’ve mentioned this influential film series in the context of a few of our other reviews this week. And it is “influencial,” as it certainly had an effect on David. A.R. White and his Christian Apoc-science fiction adventures through his PureFlix shingle: his first was Six: The Mark Unleashed (2004), followed with The Moment After and Revelation Road franchises, In the Blink of an Eye, and Jerusalem Countdown. And the producers behind his debut film, TBN, Paul and Jan Crouch’s Trinity Broadcasting Network (through their son Matthew), jumped into the apoc frays with their own, The Omega Code (1999).
The Apocalypse franchise’s roots date to 1994, when the brothers LaLonde, Peter and Paul — inspired by Hollywood’s A-List glut of films concerned with the world’s post-apocalypse survival*, such as Waterworld (1995), Independence Day (1996), Escape from L.A. (1996), and The Postman (1997), along with the “Lucifer’s Hammer” one-two punch of Armageddon and Deep Impact (1998), and Peter Hyams’s End of Days (1999) — formed Cloud Ten Pictures in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada, to self-fiance their own, wholesome, family-oriented “end times” Christian films.
As they should: God invented the apocalypse, after all, in The Book of Revelation in The Holy Bible. It’s just not fair that the Somdomites and Gomorrahites of Tinseltown have the secular market cornered on what rightful belongs to Christians in the first place. Estus Pirkle has whole films (If Footmen Tire You, The Burning Hell, and The Believer’s Heaven) based on the Christian belief that God-hating Communists will jam sharpened bamboo shoots through our ear canals, cut people down from trees onto buried pitch forks, and dump the bodies of those who will not deny the Christ, into freshly bulldozed mass graves. Oh, and the child stealing and indoctrination centers where children will praise Fidel Castro.
Hey, don’t be scared, ye philistine. For the LaLonde’s are not as bibically crazed as Pastor Pirkle and a bit more subtle in frightening you into believing. Sure, with the same, faithful vigor as Christian apoc-progenitor Donald W. Thompson with his A Thief in the Night tetralogy franchise, but only with A-List (well, let’s just say, better) production values backed, not by church volunteers and “saved” community theater actors: but by real, actual actors.
Oh, what a cast these movies have!
The LaLonde brothers’ films have nothing on the early Revelation-based apoc’ers Six-Hundred Sixty Six (1972), and the Gospel Films (studios) 1981 double-whammy of the non-sequels Early Warning and Years of the Beast. Oh, yes, ye B&S About Movies Sadducees: If the subject matter’s rhythm doesn’t get you, the off-the-A-to-B List thespians surely will.
Prior to delving into the feature films business, the LaLonde brothers produced their own television series: a syndicated series that dealt with the very subject matter of their films: This Week in Bible Prophecy. That lead to their creating a series of hour-long documentaries between 1994 and 1997: The Gospel of the Antichrist: Exposed, Final Warning: Economic Collapseand the Coming World Government, Startling Proofs: Does God Really Exist, Last Days: Hype or Hope?, and Racing to the End of Time. Courtesy of the ratings and retail response to those early products, it was time for a (low-budget) sci-fi thriller based on upon their TV/video teachings. That first film became Apocalypse (1998), which spawned the tetralogy franchise: Revelation, Tribulation, and Judgement.
So successful the franchise that, by the time of the release of third film and before the fourth film, Cloud Ten Pictures was able to option the very book that inspired their film series: the 1995 worldwide best-seller Left Behind by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins. Their 2000 – 2005 film trilogy based on that book series, which starred Kirk Cameron (Saving Christmas), culminated with a bigger-budgeted, crtically derided theatrical reboot, Left Behind (2014) with Nicolas Cage.
Okay, enough with the back stories. . . . Lets throw away the melon rind on the way to Eden and unpack the prophe-verse of Franco Macalousso and his deadly O.N.E. (One Earth Nation) squads. (In Donald W. Thompson’s franchise, it was known as U.N.I.T.E. – United Nations Imperium of Total Emergency, if you’re keeping an apoc track of the proceedings.)
Apocalypse I: Caught In The Eye Of The Storm (1998)
Unlike the rest of the films in the series, we’re dealing with a list of no-name (Canadian) actors fronted by the “leads” of Leigh Lewis and Richard Nestor (that’s them, disembodied floating-headin’ the cover, by the way) and Sam Bornstein, each with limited-and-fades-away resumes; Leigh Lewis’s Helen Hannah character is the lone throughline of the series.
As with Kurt Cameron’s Cameron “Buck” Williams in the Left Behind trilogy, Helen Hannah and Bronson Pearl (Richard Nestor) are award-winning journalists who stumble into the deadly plans of Franco Macalousso (Sam Bornstein), the President of the European Union. When the prophesied Rapture occurs and throws the world into chaos, Macalousso proclaims himself the true Messiah and enforces his will upon the world.
You can watch this one Tubi. And we have to note that the video suggestions link to all three of Kirk Cameron’s Left Behind films and Casper Van Dien’s The Omega Code duet, if you’re up to the challenge.
Apocalypse II: Revelation (1999)
What a difference “three months” after the last film, makes: Satan has transformed Franco Macalousso into (wait, he is Satan) . . . Nick Mancuso, of Nightwing and Death Ship?
This time, the tale centers on the exploits of Thorold Stone, a counter-terrorism expert . . . played by Jeff Fahey of The Lawnmower Man? A non-believer hellbent to prove The Rapture is a conspiracy, he stumbles into an underground, Christian resistance movement led by Helen Hannah, from the first film. But since actress Leigh Lewis is way out of her thespin’ element, here: bring in (not much better) supermodel Carol Alt as part of the resistance.
Oh, and Alt’s character is blind. And the European Union, now ruling the world as One Nation Earth, watched John Carpenter secular They Live one too many times, since O.N.E distributes virtual reality headsets to everyone on Earth to celebrate the “Messiah’s Day of Wonders.”
So, to make sure you’re following along: Satan, and not aliens, are doing the VR brainwashing of the puny humans. You got that?
Well, okay . . . so we lost Jeff Fahey and Carol Alt. But we still get a little bit of Nick Mancuso . . . and gain a Gary Busey, a Margot Kidder, and a Howie Mandel. We also get just what we do not need: a non-linear timeline that splits in half across the events that happened before ApocalypseI . . . then we flash-foward — two years — after the events in Revelation, aka Apocalypse II, you got that?
Hey, we feel you, because the plot is bat-crap crazy and all over the place. Gary Busey’s Tom Canbono — from what seems like another movie spliced in — stars as a bitter police detective battling a mysterious group of cloaked psychic warrior-assassins (no, we are not kiddding) after his wife, his sister and brother-in-law (Margot Kidder and a pre-bald/Van Dyked Howie Mandel). However, before Canbono can save them, the psychics take control of his car and cause him to crash. . . .
Then begins the “other” movie: Busey wakes up from a two-years coma to discover The Rapture has occurred, 95% of the world follows Nick Mancusco’s lead, and those who don’t allow themselves to be branded with a “666” on their head or right hand, in the grand tradition of all things Christian, are beheaded. (Yeah, Christians love their broadswords and guillotines in these movies.) As for the “third” movie cut into this mess: Leigh Lewis is pushed even further down the callsheets with her Christian resistance annoyances to expose Nick Mancusco as the Antichrist.
See? Told you it was bat-crap crazy — joke inferring Nick’s Nightwing — which I should be rewatching — instead of this, intended. Yeah, it sure is a long, hard fall from starring with Steven Seagal in 1992’s Under Seige, hey, Nick and Gary? Too bad Steven didn’t star in Jeff Fahey’s role for part deux to really give us something to QWERTY about.
You can watch this on Tubi. You just gotta: Busey battles psychic warriors!
Apocalypse IV: Judgement (2001)
First, we get a gaggle nobody-heard-of-them-or-seen-since Canucks making a Christian apocalypse film. Then we get an Antichrist ruling via virtual reality headsets forced onto Carol Alt by Nick Mancusco. Then we get psychic warrior-assassins after Gary Busey.
What could possibly be left, you ask?
How’s about Corbin Bernsen (The Dentist) and Jessica Steen (the aforementioned Armageddon) starring as a Christian-centric Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn in Adam’s Rib (1949) — itself remade as the romantic rom-com box office bomb Laws of Attraction (2004) starring Pierce Brosnan and Julianne Moore. Only they were battling divorce attorneys. And Tracy and Hepburn argued a case of women’s rights.
So, what are Bernsen and Steen arguing: a copyright infringement case on the VR headsets? Gary Busey’s malpractice suit? Perhaps a copyright infringement over stealing the plot from the Stephen King’s The Dead Zone in the last movie? (No, not 28 Days Later, that’s not until next year.)
Nope to all.
Nick Mancusco — yes, he actually stuck around for three installment of this utter non-sense — is now, officially, the Antichrist and he’s “suing” Helen Hannah — yes, the out-of-her-thespian element Canadian actress Leigh Lewis is still hanging around, making us wish Carol Alt’s hot blind chick signed for the sequel — for her crimes against humanity. Corbin Bernsen is the troped, milquetoast attorney assigned to kangaroo-court our fair jounalist-turned-Christian revolutionist. Jessica Steen is his bitchy, natch, ex-wife prosecutor assigned by Nick Mancusco to railroad the leftover 5% from the last film that haven’t accepted the Mark.
Hey, wait. Mr. T is on the box! What’s he doing, here? We’ll, he’s spliced in from another movie: he’s heading up The D-Team to break Hannah from prison. Does he use one of those nifty VR headsets to pull it off?
Ugh, I just don’t care, anymore. And how come all of these Christian apoc flicks never end with Brother J showing up, in this case, to beat down Nick Mancusco? At least Estus Pirkle — his sharpened bamboo and mass graves, be damned — wrapped it up and took us upstairs to The Believer’s Heaven, while Tim Ormond has Christ arriving on white horseback with a band of angels in The Second Coming.
“The Supreme Court vs. The Supreme Being. Let the Trial Begin,” so says the box copy.
No. Just let this all end. Please. I believe! I believe! I won’t accept the Mark. Anything to makes these movies, stop.
* Hey, we known what we are talking about: we’re self-proclaimed apocalypse experts! So check out these featurettes rounding up all of our reviews of apoc’ers from the ’50s through the ’80s: