Donald Woods (Kevin Kline) is a journalist in South Africa. He’s part of the white establishment, but despite his own critical views of the black population’s struggles for equality and freedom, he is professional enough to listen what they have to say. When he meets Steve Biko (Denzel Washington) in person, he is finally convinced of the worthiness of their cause. After Biko is killed in police custody, Woods writes a book about him that brings a lot of trouble to himself and his family.
Cry Freedom is a film about an important and fascinating issue with a great cast that, unfortunately, chose the wrong perspective to tell its story. It could have been so much more if it had actually been about Biko and his activism, and not Biko’s effect on a white man.
Troy (Denzel Washington) and Rose (Viola Davis) have been married for a long time. Their son Cory (Jovan Adepo) is 18 and dreams of starting a football career. When a recruiter is taking interest in him, Cory is overjoyed. But Troy, who narrowly missed a career in baseball due to racist hiring practices, doesn’t allow Cory to meet with the recruiter, causing a rift in the family with his continuous attempts to control everything and everyone around him.
Fences is a beautifully acted film that has a couple of lengths and an ending that didn’t work for me, but definitely a film that drew me in regardless.
Rose Creek is slowly being squeezed dry by Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard). When one of the citizens (Matt Bomer) refuses to cooperate with Bogue, he is shot. His widow Emma (Haley Bennett) decides to go and look for help, somebody to take on Bogue. By chance she finds Chisolm (Denzel Washington) and becomes a witness to his skills as a gunman. She begs for his help and Chisolm agrees reluctantly. But first he’ll have to get together a team and so he gets in touch with a few old friends.
I have neither seen Seven Samurai, nor the old Magnificent Seven, so I was fresh to the story with this film and I really wasn’t particularly taken with it.
Whip (Denzel Washington) is a divorced pilot with an addiction problem. To get over his hangovers – when he’s not too drunk to have one – he usually takes a bit of cocaine. He goes through that same routine before getting on a plane that subsequently crashes. Though everyone agrees that this is due to a technical error and that Whip is solely responsible for saving most of the people on board, an investigation into his life makes him slowly face his drug problem.
Flight was very long. It could have easily been shorter and it would have been better for it. But even if it had been shorter, it just felt tired. Like both the story and the production was just a paint-by-the-numbers thing. Which is not really what you want from a film.
Matt (Ryan Reynolds) is in a charge of a CIA Safe House in South Africa. Which means that he spends most of his time sitting around an empty house and being bored, hoping for a promotion or some kind of action. But that changes when rogue and recently apprehended agent Tobin Frost (Denzel Washington) is brought in. As if an actual guest in his Safe House wasn’t enough excitement, they are attacked right after Tobin’s arrival. And suddenly Matt finds himself in deeper shit than he ever hoped for.
Safe House was amazingly and deeply boring. It’s amazing that a movie with so much actual action can be so unexciting.
Due to the ineptitude of one worker (Ethan Supplee), one of the trains in Southern Pennsylvania kinda runs off. Runaway trains are apparently not that uncommon, so everybody stays rather cool until it’s discovered that the train isn’t a coaster, but is under power and has picked up quite some speed. Now track manager [or whatever the official title is] Connie (Rosario Dawson) has to see to it that the damage stays as small as possible. She gets unexpected help from train-driver Frank (Denzel Washington) and conductor Will (Chris Pine) who are on the same track as the rogue train.
Unstoppable opens with the most dramatic credits I have ever seen: We see still standing trains, but the font, its animation and the frantic cutting suggest that we see the last few secones before an explosion. It is painful to watch – but it all goes downhill from there. Especially the cutting and Scott’s direction just never get any better.
Eli (Denzel Washington) is travelling west through a post-apocalyptic landscape. He is on his own, but well able to take care of himself (which he demonstrates by slaughtering first a cat and then a group of hijackers). He comes to a small town that is run by Carnegie (Gary Oldman), who is looking to expand his power base and is searching a special book that is supposed to enable him to do just that: The bible.
Holy crap [no pun intended]. I knew that I was in for a bumpy ride with this film, but Gary Oldman made me want to watch anyway. Now I wish I hadn’t… There were some very nice shots in the film, but that’s about all the good that comes from it.