Tag: denzel washington

MOVIE REVIEW | ***TOM WEEK*** Philadelphia (1993)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “Tom Hanks walked away with the Oscar for Philadelphia, but it’s really Denzel Washington’s movie.”

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“We’re standing here in Philadelphia, the, uh, city of brotherly love, the birthplace of freedom, where the, uh, founding fathers authored the Declaration of Independence, and I don’t recall that glorious document saying anything about all straight men are created equal. I believe it says all men are created equal.”

In my lifetime, the concept of HIV and AIDS has gone from something Eddie Murphy would flippantly joke about people kissing a gay guy and, “going home with AIDS on their lips”, to the cause of pretty substantial panic and discrimination.  From a definite killer, to something that can be somewhat contained with proper care.  And I never really thought about how amazing that evolution of the public consciousness regarding this issue was, until I watched a Philadelphia in a 2016 context.

Andrew Beckett (Tom Hanks) is a young, hot short attorney, working for the largest corporate law firm in Philadelphia.  Coming off a win against the smaller time Joe Miller (Denzel Washington), Andrew is given a promotion by his firm’s cigar chomping, fat cat senior partner, Charles Wheeler (Jason Robards).  The only problem is, Andrew is in the closet and has recently contracted AIDS.  He’s been able to hide it from his employers until the outward, physical signs become too obvious.  One day, when some files mysteriously go missing, it’s the convenient opportunity his bosses need to sack Andrew, while claiming it has nothing to do with his illness or sexual orientation. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | Man on Fire (2004)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “Tony Scott and Denzel Washington are so committed to all of these clichés in such a real, genuine way.  If there’s a joke, they’re not in on it.”

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“Forgiveness is between them and God. It’s my job to arrange the meeting.”

I find myself dismissing action movies a lot.  But when I do watch them, I more often than not really enjoy them.  Until my movie snobbery makes me forget that, and I dismiss the genre again   But I really need to just accept that a well made movie is a well made movie.  Even if its genre isn’t the most cerebral.  Because sometimes all you need is a tight script, well shot action set pieces here and there, and an awesome ass kicker in the lead role.  Sometimes all you need is something like Man on Fire.


Former special forces soldier, former government spook, current drunk, Creasy (Denzel Washington) is in need of work.  His old friend Rayburn (Christopher Walken) is able to help via his security firm, getting a Creasy a gig guarding a family in Mexico.   Specifically, guarding their young daughter, Pita (Dakota Fanning).  Kidnappings in the country are so frequent, it’s common for family’s like Pita’s to take out kidnapping insurance.  But their current policy has lapsed, hence the need for Creasy. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | Inside Man (2006)

Inside Man

“More like taking a shower with two guys named Jamal and Jesus, if you know what I mean.”

Spike Lee has made some amazing movies, like Do the Right Thing, and Malcolm X and The 25th Hour.  He’s also made some real shit bombs, like Miracle at St Anna and Girl 6.  But good or bad, I always think of Spike Lee as a dude who makes “Important” movies.  Spike Lee doesn’t have things he wants to say with his movies, he has things he wants to shout with this movies.  Which is why Inside Man has always struck me as such an anomaly in his filmography.   Without seeing the actual movie, the trailers made it look like too much fun to be a Spike Lee joint.  Too much of a genre, suspense or even action movie to be a Spike Lee Joint.  Too much of an escapist piece of pure entertainment to be a Spike Lee joint.  All of these things make it sound like a really enjoyable movie.  Which is why it’s only taken me nine years to finally watch Inside Man.


Addressing the camera, Dalton Russell (Clive Owen) lets us know that he planned the perfect bank robbery.  A perfect bank robbery that we see played out as Russell and his men invade a bank one morning, dressed in painter’s overalls and masks.  Forcing their hostages to wear matching overalls and masks, the idea of identity and mistaken identity is immediately setup as the key to his plan.  As robbers and hostages are constantly mixed, matched and mingled, the robbers are able to disappear into the crowd in some way before the heist is even complete. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | Courage Under Fire (1996)

“You see that man? You and he are brothers! He depends on you! You depend on him! You never leave a man behind!”

With the last decade plus of Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, there’s probably an entire generation who don’t even realise that the Iraq War of the new millennium was the second Iraq War of the last 20 odd years.  The first Iraq War only lasted a short time and there was little in the way of graphic combat footage to fill new broadcasts.  I guess there was also little in the way of Hollywood friendly spectacle as well, because there has been very little movie love given to the subject.  And the only prestige, award nominated 90s Iraq movie I can think of, is Courage Under Fire.


After a friendly fire mishap sees his best friend dead, tank commander Nat Sterling (Denzel Washington) has his mistake swept under the rug and is put on desk duty.  His first assignment is to investigate an incident involving helicopter pilot Karen Walden (Meg Ryan) and determine if she should be awarded the prestigious Medal of Honor.  If so, she will be the first female soldier to ever receive the honor. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | Devil in a Blue Dress (1995)

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“You said don’t shoot him, right? Well I didn’t; I choked… Look, Easy, if you ain’t want him dead, why you leave him with me?”

To me, Denzel Washington is one of those dudes who seemingly arrived in the world a fully fledged movie star.  In my movie watching lifetime, he’s always just been there and he’s always been awesome.  So it’s odd to think there was a once a time when he was up and coming, making his bones and still scratching around for that first lead role, that first big break out.


His first opportunity came with Spike Lee’s Malcolm X in 1992.  But that was some prestige, award baiting stuff.  He followed it up the following year, co-starring with Tom Hanks in Philadelphia.  But in 1995, Denzel the Movie Star burst onto the scene with couple of big ass, big budget, big spectacle blockbusters.   He hit with Crimson Tide and he missed with Virtuosity.  He also took on something a little more interesting, with the noir-tastic Devil in a Blue Dress. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | The Book of Eli (2010)

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“I need that book, I want that book.  I want you to stay but if you make me have to choose, I’ll kill you and take that book!”

I like Denzel Washington as an actor.  But looking at his IMDB, I realise that I haven’t seen all that many Denzel Washington movies.  It also makes me realise that while he makes a lot of popcorn, pay cheque movies, I’ve seen even less of them.  Instead, I tend to have seen the wankier, more highbrow movies.  But he’s a legit blockbuster movie star, making legit blockbusters.  Even the Denzel blockbusters I have seen, like Training Day and Crimson Tide, are all about tension and dialogue, not explosions and fist fights.  So I decided it was time to get some downright, low brow Denzel action into me with, The Book of Eli.


Wandering a post apocalyptic wasteland, Eli (Washington) is attacked by some bandits.  In quick order, he dispatches them all and continues on his badass way.  Coming to what passes for a town in this world, he has another run in to once again prove he’s not someone to be messed with.  He catches the attention of the town’s leader, Gary Oldman as Carnegie.  Carnegie is on the hunt for a very special book in a world where books are rare.  And it just so happens that Eli is in possession of a book that he seems very protective of. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | Glory (1989)

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“And what are you? So full of hate you want to go out and fight everybody! Because you’ve been whipped and chased by hounds. Well that might not be living, but it sure as hell ain’t dying.”

The American Civil War fascinates me.  It blows my mind that the country which fought their own kick ass war of Independence and booted out the Brits in the 18th century, could have declined into their own civil war 80 odd years later.  Then, go on to become the most patriotic, jingoistic country on the world less than another century later when it was time for WWII.  From my outside perspective, the Civil War just seems so antithetical to the story of America, an outside perspective learned almost exclusively through movies.   Which is why it’s weird that I’ve seen so few American Civil War movies.  So I’m trying to fix that, and that starts with Glory.


It’s the height of the American Civil War.  After witnessing battle close up, but spending most if it under the body of a dead soldier, Union Major Robert Gould Shaw (Matthew Broderick) is determined to prove himself a great soldier.  Volunteering to lead the first ever regiment of black soldiers, he’s promoted to Colonel and takes his childhood friend, Major Cabot Forbes (Carey Elwes) with him.  The first to volunteer for this new regiments is another lifelong friend, Thomas Searles (Andre Braugher).  Born a free black man, and the son of a free man, Thomas has enjoyed a life of privilege other black men of the time could only dream of.  Which makes him totally unprepared for the hardship of war, but also the one who feels like he owes the most to the cause. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | ***REMAKE WEEK*** The Manchurian Candidate (2004)

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“I started with nightmares. Rumors and conjecture? That’s a giant leap forward.”

When the original version of The Manchurian Candidate was made in the 60s, it was built on espionage and intrigue and undercover spy games, but in a quaint, Cold War way, it was a lot more out in the open.  Sure, everyone was trying to be covert, but it was a time, and a movie, where the sides were very easily identifiable.  And even while their actions and tactics may have been top secret, their goals were right there in the open.  So when someone (for no apparent that reason I can see) decided to remake The Manchurian Candidate, they needed to replace the Cold War with something a little more relevant to the new millennium.  And it’s those attempts at modernisation that lead to the best and worst parts of the 2004 retelling.


After single handedly saving his unit from an ambush attack in Iraq, Raymond Shaw (Liev Schreiber) is given a Congressional Medal of Honor.  Welcomed home a hero, his overbearing Senator mother (Meryl Streep as Eleanor) pulls stings to make him a vice presidential candidate.  At the same time, Shaw’s commanding officer from the Iraq incident, Ben Marco (Denzel Washington) starts to have a recurring dream.  A dream in which him and his platoon are being brain washed and hypnotised, a dream in which Shaw kills an officer who has since been remembered as a casualty of the ambush. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | Crimson Tide (1995)

Crimson

“God help you if you’re wrong. “

While Ridley might be the one with the prestige career and Oscar nominations, I think Tony might be the more consistent of the brothers Scott. For every great movie in Ridley’s filmography, like Alien, or Bladerunner, or Blackhawk Down, you get a couple of creatively devoid shit bombs. Like A Good Year, or Robin Hood, or GI Jane, or Gladiator. Sure, he scores 9/10 every now and again, but his average is brought down by a few 2/10 and 3/10 efforts.


Tony on the other hand? Tony Scott may have made basic genre pictures, but he made them consistently well. Pretty much everything is a 7/10 or 8/10 across the board. Movies like Top Gun, The Last Boy Scout, True Romance, Man on Fire… They’re B grade fluff, but they’re meticulously made B grade fluff, always bringing infectious joy and excitement to even the most outlandish of action movie premises. And his best example of all of that may just be Crimson Tide. (more…)