This movie epitomizes how the wise-cracking buddy movie has changed since Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969). From the clean, relatively non-violent fun of Robert Redford and Paul Newman, it has now progressed to terribly violent shenanigans of Mark Wahlberg and Denzel Washington in a film filled with filthy language and F-bombs.
In the olden days (pre-Obama), I could not accept films that showed the U.S. Government as being callous and criminal. Now, with a government that calls the IRS targeting conservative groups and the abandonment of a U.S. Ambassador and his Navy SEAL defenders to their violent deaths “phony scandals,” it’s not hard to accept a corrupt U.S. Navy, CIA, and DEA, all of which is what you get in this film, which was written by Blake Masters, based on a graphic novel by Steven Grant and directed by Wahlberg buddy Baltasar Kormákur (who also directed the excellent Wahlberg sleeper hit, 2012’s Contraband). In fact, according to this film, the CIA and Navy are full of cold-blooded killers who aid and abet international drug traffickers. Since the U.S. supplied international drug traffickers with high velocity automatic weapons in the “Fast and Furious” scandal, this is no longer hard to believe in a movie. Spoiler alert in the next paragraph.
Worse, though, is the gratuitous violence and frivolous depiction of death and shooting. Both stars shoot each other with little or no effect and they do it as a joke. In fact, when Washington shoots Wahlberg at the end of the movie in the leg (because there’s a lot of flesh there and it can’t do much damage, according to the actors), Mark just hobbles off arm in arm with Denzel. In real life, however, there’s a major artery that runs through the leg, the femoral artery, and if a bullet would pierce it, while it might not hit a bone or organ, it could be just as fatal as slitting a throat or a shot to the heart.
Movies are a tremendous influence on how people act, especially naïve, gullible young people. It’s not unreasonable that a scene like this could lead the impressionable to shoot someone in the leg as a joke, relying on this movie. Scenes like this are simply irresponsible. Someone who doesn’t have a frat boy mentality should have questioned this and deleted it from the final cut. I’m disappointed in both Wahlberg and Washington, actors I admire, for participating in something like this. It could have been cleaned up but they strove, instead, for the easy but reprehensible.
So even though this movie is entertaining, I can’t recommend it as highly as I ordinarily would because of its fatuous view of violence and guns.
I haven’t seen a more bilious movie since Lars and the Real Girl (2007). When the film ended I said to the person sitting next to me, “How do they get money to make things like this?” The reply was that they might have made it for a tax loss. My response was that they knew what they were doing because this looked like a real loser.
This is about two spookily weird people, Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch, who are working in a burned out forest to paint road lines. Set in 1988, I don’t know how they painted road lines then, but now it’s all done by machine. It would be hard for me to believe that as recently as 1988 they were painted individually by people who camped out every night to do the work, which is what Rudd and Hirsch do.
Written and directed by David Gordon Green, the entire film is about these two guys and their conversations. After acquiring the rights to an Icelandic film, Either Way, Green says, “As much as I wanted to do a remake, I wanted it to feel unique, to have a personal fingerprint. I began scribbling down ideas, and these characters were really a dialogue between two versions of myself. The way I argue with or play devil’s advocate with myself. So I wrote these characters very intimately, from my own perspective.”
Frankly, this doesn’t say much for him because both of these guys are strange, to give them the best of it. Watching these two psychologically challenged people relate to one another is almost less entertaining than Ryan Gosling having a full-fledged relationship with a blown-up doll in Lars’.
Isolated as they are in the woods with little or no contact with humanity, the cinematography (Tim Orr) is pretty good with many beautiful shots of the backwoods.
This is a long way from director Louis Malle’s and writers Wallace Shawn and Andre Gregory’s My Dinner with Andre (1981), which is the definitive film about a dialogue between two men. The big differences are that ‘Andre is interesting (captivating, actually), and not the least bit boring.