‘Red Notice’ Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

In a world where there are plenty of blockbusters and well-known action stars, Red Notice feels like a mixture of everything. Many of these blockbusters feel like they are recycled with the same actors and it is starting to get a bit dull. There are fun moments because we, as fans, would love to see certain actors work together, but if the story isn’t decent enough to keep our attention, then what are we even watching new ones for? We can all go back and watch the ones we already have and gain the same kick from it. There is star power at the front with Gal Gadot, Dwayne Johnson, and Ryan Reynolds in a heist film built for Netflix. It feels very generic, a bit messy in its execution and the chemistry between the three of them was off at times.

The opening of the film explains everything that is about to happen in this movie but it doesn’t give away the twists in the third act. The twists may have been a bit excessive but it still added some zest to a fairly bland script. As we dive into this adventure, an Interpol agent, Inspector Urvashi Das (Ritu Arya) attempts to hunt down and capture the world’s most wanted art thief, Nolan Booth (Ryan Reynolds). Accompanying her on this mission is FBI agent, John Hartley (Dwayne Johnson), who is very intuitive and reads Booth like an open book. After that encounter, Booth and Hartley both get acquainted and they start this budding bromance that never fully works.

Hartley and Booth end up working together to take down The Bishop (Gal Gadot), who actually is the world’s greatest thief. Gadot really shined in this role and the villain role suits her. It was a nice change of pace considering the banter between Reynolds and Johnson went stale halfway through the film. The main issue with this movie is that Johnson and Reynolds play the exact same character they always do but it’s just a different action film. It has gotten to the point where people just hire Reynolds to play Wade Wilson in their movie over and over again because he is a draw. Meanwhile, all we want is a Deadpool 3 and it’s very frustrating to sit through. It does have some fun dialogue, but the quippy banter got repetitive, and sadly Johnson did not work with Reynolds in the way I was hoping.

Red Notice is a generic, flashy heist film that uses its star power to carry us through. Unfortunately, the weak script and poorly executed action scenes can’t hold this film together. The twist at the end, in a way, didn’t really work and just made it more confusing. The trio worked well together but when Gadot wasn’t in the mix, Reynolds and Johnson were both stale, which made the first act feel like a struggle. If you want a mindless action film this weekend then definitely give this a go. You’ll laugh with Reynolds trying to get these jokes to land or else it’s a pretty forgettable film for Netflix. Sometimes star power can’t save a weak script.

‘The Harder They Fall’ Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

Good Westerns are hard to come by. The genre has had a difficult time being modernized because those stories are considered outdated and an inaccurate representation of America for some. Westerns continue to be made, but it’s up to the director to add something different in order to entertain the general audience; an audience conditioned to only enjoy action movies in this particular climate. Director Jeymes Samuel fills The Harder They Fall with his style and makes something so unique in the process. It’s all about taking the conventions that came before and improving upon the genre itself.

The film begins with this family eating dinner at the table, when there is a knock on the door. The father opens the door and let’s the well-known outlaw in. His son was seated at the table, when some terrible things happen in front of him. That little boy grew up to be Nate Love (Jonathan Majors), who eventually becomes an outlaw himself. Nate Love finds out that Rufus Buck (Idris Elba) has been pardoned and released from prison. Nate gets his band back together to go serve some justice in Redwood. Samuel set up this story, so the audience could understand the characters and their backstories without over explaining their past.

Samuel sets the tone from the very beginning with his punchy opening credits and wicked soundtrack. You get a sense of who these characters are and what being an outlaw is all about. The Western genre can get generic and a bit dull, but Samuel made this so entertaining and engaging. Thanks to his wonderful, charismatic cast, their chemistry is what made this film complete. We have Jonathan Majors, who has such a presence on-screen and he has this kinetic star power rarely seen today. Idris Elba is an older, more ruthless outlaw, and it was great to see him in this role. Then the badass women of the cast, Regina King, Danielle Deadwyler and Zazie Beetz brought such fun, complex characters to life. To round out the main cast, Delroy Lindo, LaKeith Stanfield, Edi Gathegi and newcomer RJ Cyler all brought something different to the table.

The Harder They Fall dives into the world of these outlaws and what they represent. This wasn’t a true story but these characters were real at some point throughout American history. Their story being told in such a vibrant, modernized way really breathed life into a rather outdated genre. It has some great moments between characters and it is also funny at times. Everything about this movie was interesting to watch and it all comes down to the Jeymes Samuel who had a clear vision of what he wanted to do with this Western. Majority of the cast had their time to shine but Majors and Elba stole the show for me. Do not miss this movie on Netflix; it’s one of my favourite movies of the year.

‘Army Of Thieves’ Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

Don’t worry; no zombies were harmed in the making of this prequel. We all loved Ludwig Dieter (Matthias Schweighöfer) in Army of the Dead, but we never really expected a prequel with his character. Zack Snyder’s film was a fun zombie flick and we were all happy to see him go back to his roots. However, Army of Thieves was lacking the Snyder touch and it felt completely different in tone. This one is more of a heist film to highlight Dieter’s expertise in safecracking and it does work for the most part. The issue is that the pacing was a bit slow for my liking in between the heists and the secondary characters apart from Gwendoline (Nathalie Emmanuel) were forgettable.

This prequel comes before the zombie apocalypse, so we see the early stages of what transpires in Las Vegas. Our favourite German safecracker, Dieter leads a group of aspiring thieves on a top-secret heist, attempting to crack as many safe’s as he can. The most impressive thing that Matthias Schweighöfer did as a director was completely understand Dieter’s character and make the entire atmosphere of the film feel like him. From the music choices, to the fourth wall breaks, and the actual safe cracking, it was all about Dieter. For a prequel that is solely character based, the essence of Dieter was evident and worked for what the film was.

For the most part, it is a standard heist film with some hints to zombies attacking them in the near future. But that is about the only link to Army of the Dead. The Snyder-isms are definitely missed but Schweighöfer’s magic behind the camera came with the attention to the safecracking. He really went into the gears of the safe and every single aspect that goes into opening it. The special effects that were used to show the dimensions of the safe and the actual locks were a very nice touch. There are some strong choices made, some solid action sequences but it’s more style over substance. Which is also a good thing for Schweighöfer to show off his directing chops.

Army of Thieves is a fun prequel for Army of the Dead and it is because of Schweighöfer. If it weren’t for his comedic timing and absolutely brilliant physical comedy, this wouldn’t have worked. He is talented, when working with the right material but he did get the chance to show it off. Dieter is a wonderful character and the movie will make you love him even more. Really glad that Netflix decided to actually go forward with the Snyder, zombie-verse because we can get some fun one-offs like this. If you just want to watch some good old safecracking and some funny physical comedy, then this is a solid watch this weekend.

‘You’ Season 3 Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

Hello, you.

If you haven’t watched the first two seasons of You on Netflix, then I suggest you stop reading this and start binge-watching.

In season three, Joe Goldberg (Penn Badgley) and Love Quinn-Goldberg (Victoria Pedretti), are now married and raising their baby, in the balmy Northern California enclave of Madre Linda. They are surrounded by privileged tech entrepreneurs, judgmental mommy bloggers, and Insta-famous biohackers. This suburban lifestyle would drive anyone crazy. Joe is now committed to his new role as a husband and dad, but fears Love’s lethal impulsiveness.

This series has always explored what the meaning of love actually is. Majority of the time it’s through a toxic, borderline psychotic angle, but it still does assess relationships from every side. The violent, lethal side is definitely an exaggeration of the passion shared between two people. It works for the stalker-esque persona that Joe has locked inside him. It also works in favor of Love’s jealousy and territorial nature. The way this season sets up Joe and Love’s relationship, as a couple, and as individuals makes for an interesting finale.

you season 3  penn badgley as joe goldberg
Courtesy of Netflix

Joe and Love had a very unique love story in season two. We see Joe’s obsession turn into something wholesome and normal. Until, Love turns out to be the exact same as Joe, maybe even worse. In this season, there’s an exploration of past trauma and how it can affect every single aspect of one’s life. The show will always have Joe as the central focus, so his flashbacks are integrated during crucial moments. Joe knows that the violent, animalistic nature of his relationship with Love isn’t that energy of a soulmate, but a very toxic union involving a murder spree.

Joe is clearly unhappy in this marriage and he wonders if Love is his soulmate, or if someone else is out there, who understand him more than she does. Joe is definitely not content with his marriage and is trying to find his actual soulmate elsewhere. While Joe is stalking other women and making poor life decisions, Love is struggling with motherhood and being the perfect wife in a suburban town. It’s almost like a modernized, influencer version of The Stepford Wives for Love. As she meets the other mothers in town, she becomes insecure and loses herself in the ideal perception of motherhood in Madre Linda. She spirals out of control because she feels the need to protect her family, even from her own husband, who seems to be putting in very little effort.

You' Season 3 | Netflix Cast, Release Date, Plot, and More
Courtesy of Netflix

You season three incorporates so much, that it truly exceeds expectations. Love and Joe are an unlikely tag team and they continuously make poor decisions throughout the season. It progressively gets worse for them, as more characters come into play. It is one gigantic game of lust and betrayal. The viewer has no choice but to stick around and watch it unfold. Even though Joe tries to keep his past behind him and attempts to repress his violent, stalkery urges, Love just brings out the worst in him. The pacing of this series is extremely strong and packs a definite punch to the gut at the end.

You season three drops on Netflix this Friday, October 15th and you won’t want to miss it!

‘Midnight Mass’ Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

I really had to sit and think about this one.

As everyone knows, I am a Mike Flanagan supporter. He has captured my heart and I love his work. He brings so much detail and knows how to create tension throughout his pieces. However, Midnight Mass did not do it for me. I left this series feeling a bit underwhelmed.

It is a very different approach to the horror genre. He strays away from his typical ghost stories from Hill House and Bly Manor. Instead of paying close attention to the things that are creeping around the home, Flanagan puts all the focus on the dialogue. I am a fan of dialogue heavy projects BUT it must be engaging. We are rating this show as a whole and not based on a fantastic finale.

Courtesy of Netflix

The arrival of a charismatic priest, brings miracles, mysteries and renewed religious fervour to a dying town. The first half of Midnight Mass is very slow. The character introductions are fine but definitely not strong enough to make me care for any of them. Flanagan started out with Riley Flynn’s (Zach Gilford) story and then it fizzled out halfway through. There were many storylines that didn’t really intertwine the way they should have. Some character stories fell flat. The only interesting character, who held all this together was Monsignor Pruitt (Hamish Linklater). He commanded the screen and had powerful moments during his sermons.

You have a very complex character in Pruitt. There are so many layers to him. Unfortunately, he had no one to bounce off of, that matched his level of intensity during dialogue heavy scenes. There needs to be some back-and-forth for his character to work. Majority of the time, I would be waiting there to see when he popped up on screen because then I knew it would get interesting. I just expected so much more from the characters and the performances. Unfortunately, nothing really grabbed my attention until the final three episodes.

Netflix's 'Midnight Mass' Review: Mike Flanagan's Latest Gothic Horror -  Variety
Courtesy of Netflix

There are still great moments throughout this series. The creature designs are beautiful and there are some great kills with tension-filled moments. The practical effects and use of blood were both lacking at certain times. I appreciate that Flanagan is having a healthy conversation surrounding faith. That people should not blindly follow a system that can sometimes be corrupt. He also showed the fine line between good and evil, especially with the Angel coming into play. The journey that Flanagan takes you on in these seven holy episodes ends up spiralling out of control.

Midnight Mass is an interesting new addition to Flanagan’s body of work. This series just did not hit me in the same way the previous two did. Maybe it’s because I already contemplate all of the questions raised as a Catholic myself? So it felt repetitive for me. I feel like the point Flanagan was trying to make about faith, self-doubt, and corrupt religious systems got lost in translation as the show went on. It also ended up in a very different place and I don’t know if that’s a good thing.