Once Upon a Time in Venice doesn’t quite work either as crime or comedy, but I have to admit to chucking a few times here and there and can appreciate the cast, though the likes of John Goodman and Famke Janssen were underutilized.
Taken 3 is a weak sequel and really the epitome of a money grab with a template screenplay by Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kasen and frenetic direction by Olivier Megaton of some truly generic action scenes. It is disappointing that the series has devolved to this level but I suppose if you like Neeson and can set aside some of the absurd plot points, Taken 3 might make for throwaway entertainment.
Lord of Illusions is an uneven yet admirable little supernatural-thriller-horror that Barker himself described as a cross between Chinatown and The Exorcist, and although in the end I wasn’t that enthralled, the director’s cut is still well worth checking out. The 2-disc Blu-ray set has a good set of bonus materials and the video/audio transfers are both well done.
The Wolverine is a marketed improvement over X-Men Origins: Wolverine in some places, but I felt the story could’ve been tightened up as it dragged in many scenes and took a long and winding path to the same place without muddy character alliances, who hates who and who wants who dead; it doesn’t make much sense and definitely didn’t help the story as a whole. Even so, Hugh Jackman delivers a, prepare for critic’s cliché, tour-de-force performance.
Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunter had an interesting and different premise but from the beginning it never quite found its footing. For one thing, I didn’t buy Renner and Arterton in their roles although the script didn’t help matters so their performances are somewhat forgivable. All told, sadly this is a downright forgettable movie with nothing to offer except for Famke Janssen’s hammy, yet fun, performance.
Taken 2 had so much potential and plenty of goodwill after its amazing predecessor, however what we got instead was a lazy half-assed screenplay that simply did a find and replace combined with uninspiring direction. The main saving grace is that Liam Neeson once again gives it his all and really saves it from being a dud.