Richard speaks to “CTV News at Six” anchor Andria Case about the best movies to watch this weekend including the inspired-by-true-events drama “One Night In Miami” (Amazon Prime Video), the Netflix action flick “Outside the Wire” (Netflix) and the young adult drama “Words On Bathroom Walls” (EST, VOD, DVD, Blu-ray).
Richard sits in on the CFRA Ottawa morning show with host Bill Carroll to talk the new movies coming to theatres, VOD and streaming services including the inspired-by-true-events drama “One Night In Miami” (Amazon Prime Video), the Netflix action flick “Outside the Wire” (Netflix) and the young adult drama “Words On Bathroom Walls” (EST, VOD, DVD, Blu-ray).
“Outside the Wire,” a new futuristic Netflix movie starring Anthony Mackie, is a run-of-the-mill action flick with more bullets than ideas.
Set in 2036, as “Outside the Wire” begins there is a violent civil war in Eastern Europe. The United States are there as peacekeepers, using robotic soldiers called Gumps to battle a ruthless warlord called Viktor Koval (Pilou Asbæk), the Terror of the Balkans, who may possess a doomsday device. In the midst of this conflict is Lieutenant Thomas Harp (Damson Idris), an U.S.-based drone pilot who makes the difficult, long-distance decision to sacrifice two Marine lives to save thirty-eight others. Instead of being commended for saving lives, an ethics committee sends him to a demilitarized zone in Eastern Europe to experience real combat up-close-and-personal.
He’s assigned to work with Captain Leo (Mackie), a hardnosed veteran who’ll show him the ropes. “War is ugly,” Leo says. “Sometimes you gotta get dirty to see any real change.” The twist is that Leo is only five years old. And no, before you ask, this isn’t a militaristic riff on “The Boss Baby.” Leo is a biotech android, a one-man militia, designed to be smarter, faster and more efficient than everyone else. “My existence is classified,” he tells Harp as they head off on a mission to deliver a vaccine to a cholera break twenty clicks outside the wire. The operation is partly humanitarian, and partly to act as a cover to meet an informant with intel on Koval’s whereabouts.
“Outside the Wire” is a slick mish-mash of “iRobot,” “Chappie” by way of “The Terminator” and modern war movies like “The Kingdom.” The derivative story is a delivery system for a series of clichés, large scale battle scenes and nifty special effects.
The social commentary on the ethics of using drones during wartime and what constitutes acceptable collateral damage feels blunted by the movie’s propensity to blow away soldiers and civilians alike with what must be the highest body count in a movie so far this year. It’s an important and ongoing discussion in the real world but don’t look for answers here, just giant fireballs and the rat-a-tat-tat of automatic weapons.
When the bodies aren’t dropping, the clichés are. It’s as if Leo’s speech functions were programmed by a bot who had watched a 1000 hours of 1940s war movies. He does, however, occasionally deliver a fun line. “I’m not an idiot,” says the “Falcon and the Winter Soldier” star. “That would make me human.”
“Outside the Wire” is a noisy time-waster that could have used some outside the box thinking to make its shop-worn story more effective.
Mike Enslin (John Cusack) makes his living off of the fear of the unknown.
As the author of a series of books like Ten Nights in Haunted Hotel Rooms he is a professional cynic who doesn’t believe in ghosts, and delights in debunking the supernatural beliefs of others. He’s stayed in hundreds of spooky places, but it isn’t until he checks into room 1408 of New York’s Dolphin Hotel that he experiences true terror for the first time.
Based on a short story by horror specialist Stephen King, 1408 isn’t just a ghost story, it delves into the psychological trauma suffered by Enslin as the result of the death of his young daughter.
At first the only evil thing about room 1408 is the price of the beer nuts in the mini bar, but soon enough strange things start to happen. The clock radio mysteriously turns itself on, and if that isn’t creepy enough, every time it turns on it’s playing a Carpenter’s song. At first he tries to rationalize his feelings of dread— maybe he’s been drugged, the visions he’s seeing are hallucinations, maybe he’s overtired—but soon the terror grips him and he wants out of the hotel. Trouble is he can’t leave. It’s like the Hotel California, except with ghostly apparitions, paintings that come to life and that damn annoying Carpenter’s song. The question is: Will he survive the night? Or will he become room 1408’s fifty-seventh victim?
1408 has some spooky scenes and some OK special effects, but unlike The Body, another King short story that inspired Stand By Me, 1408 doesn’t have enough meat on its bones to warrant a long-form film. Director Mikael Håfström takes a story that might have made an interesting hour-long episode of The Outer Limits and stretched it to a long 94 minutes by inserting lots of filler scenes of John Cusack making scared faces.
The psychological catalyst for the story—the death of Enslin’s daughter and his subsequent loss of faith in a God that would allow a child to die—has been done before, most recently in The Reaping from earlier this year. More interesting is the idea that by debunking the idea of ghosts Enslin is somehow taking people’s hope of life after death away. Neither idea is explored in any depth, but at least the latter concept adds some weight to the paper thin story.
1408 has a great trailer but fails to deliver the spine-tingling goods.