Tag Archives: Anthony Mackie

Review: Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Captain_America_The_Winter_Solider-PosterWe’re talking about a hero with superhuman powers and a weapon with the ability to pinpoint villains via satellites capable of reading DNA and identifying a propensity to attack. It’s a downright outrageous scenario, but, dare I say, “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” still feels like one of the most grounded Marvel movies out there.

After the destruction in New York in “The Avengers,” Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is attempting to lay low to a degree in Washington, D.C., by continuing to try to acclimate himself to the modern world while lending a hand at S.H.I.E.L.D. when necessary. However, when Steve comes to learn of an initiative to wipe out terrorists via enormous helicarriers that can detect evildoers before they even strike, his faith in the organization waivers. When Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) himself has cause to believe that something isn’t quite right at S.H.I.E.L.D., it falls on Captain America to figure out who to trust so that the technology doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.

First and foremost, Evans is just an absolute natural as Steve Rogers/Captain America. There is a cringe worthy throwback to skinny Steve, but otherwise, Evans sells him as an exceptionally capable, believable and thoughtful hero with an honest heart. Whether you’ve seen “Captain America: The First Avenger” or not, in “The Winter Solider,” Captain America experiences an arc that rocks the power to resonate regardless of how many times you’ve seen him in action.

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Review: Pain & Gain

Pain-and-Gain-PosterIt’s a moderately funny, largely deplorable narrative with entirely unlikable leads, but thanks to “Pain & Gain’s” true roots, it gets away with it.

Danny Lugo (Mark Wahlberg) loves his job as a personal trainer and is practically singlehandedly responsible for turning Sun Gym into one of the hottest spots in town. Trouble is, the job still doesn’t pay well enough and Danny is desperate to start living the good life. In an effort to make the big bucks quick and easy, Danny recruits his co-worker, Adrian (Anthony Mackie), and an ex-con, Paul (Dwayne Johnson), to help him kidnap his über wealthy client, Victor Kershaw (Tony Shalhoub), and torture him into signing over all this finances.

Had “Pain & Gain” not stemmed from true source material, we’d be left with an absolutely outrageous film driven by wholly detestable protagonists and nothing more. However, not only does the true story come with intrinsic intrigue, but then Michael Bay takes it two very effective steps further to ensure you never forget it. At the onset we’re informed, “Unfortunately, this is a true story,” and then, when the absurdity of the scenario hits a peek, he reminds you, “This is still a true story,” forbidding you from writing off all the abysmal behavior and enticing you to actually appreciate it.

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Review: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

If you’re going to make a movie about Abraham Lincoln and call him a vampire hunter, the first order of business needs to be a convincing script. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, step one? A definite failure and that initial travesty sucks the life out of what could have been an intriguing concept. Then again, even if the story had been rock solid to start, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter has so many trouble spots, something would have dragged the production down eventually.

Abraham Lincoln (Benjamin Walker) isn’t just the 16th President of the United States; he’s also a vampire hunter. Even as a young boy, Abe fought for equality. When his free black friend, Will Johnson, is whipped, Abe lashes out at his attacker, Jack Barts (Marton Csokas). When Barts turns his whip on Abe, Abe’s parents step in. While they manage to quell the situation, Barts threatens the family and shortly after, while Abe watches, his mother is killed. However, it isn’t the Barts Abe saw early that snuck into their home late at night; he looked different.

Years later Abe is all grown up, but still carrying around the desperation to avenge his mother’s death. Gun in hand and belly full of booze, tonight’s the night Abe puts a bullet through Barts’ head. But taking down a vampire requires much more than that and, should Abe honor all of his rules, Henry Sturgess (Dominic Cooper) agrees to teach him the ways of the vampire hunter.

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Review: Real Steel

This is a movie about futuristic robot boxing that’s eager to please the widest audience possible. As long as you don’t walk into Real Steel with your fingers crossed for something that feels as real and gritty as, let’s say The Fighter or Warrior, it’s impossible not to enjoy it.

Charlie Kenton (Hugh Jackman) is a former boxer turned robot fighter. In the near future, when human boxing isn’t brutal enough for spectators, the sport displaces those fighters with massive and ruthless robots, offering unrelenting destruction. When Charlie’s ex passes away, leaving their son, Max (Dakota Goyo), homeless, Charlie takes advantage of his aunt’s (Hope Davis) desperation to adopt him and gets her wealthy husband (James Rebhorn) to give him a hefty chunk of cash in exchange for Max. The only catch is that Charlie has to keep an eye on Max himself until they return from a European excursion at the end of the summer.

Charlie uses the money to buy a new robot, Noisy Boy, but his desperation to make the big bucks causes him to make a hasty decision that results in Noisy Boy’s destruction. With no money, Charlie has no choice but to visit a scrap yard to find the parts to build a new fighter. However, while there, Max spots something better, Atom. Atom’s an old sparring bot, making him far less capable in the ring, but Max insists that together, they can turn him into a champion.

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Interview: Night Catches Us Writer-Director Tanya Hamilton

Considering Night Catches Us is just her first feature film, odds are, you aren’t very familiar with writer-director Tanya Hamilton. Hamilton was always an artist, but made a natural transition from painting to filmmaking turning her ability to create a story on the canvas to creating one on the big screen and after over a decade of work, Hamilton brings us Night Catches Us.


The film stars Anthony Mackie as Marcus, an ex-Black Panther who mysteriously left town, leaving his family and friends behind without any explanation. Now it’s 1979 and Marcus is back. While everyone he’s ever known is eager to turn their backs on him, embarrass him and attempt to run him out of town, his best friend’s widow, Patricia (Kerry Washington), and her daughter, Iris (Jamara Griffin), welcome him into their home and lives with open arms.

Night Catches Us is a monumental accomplishment on a number of levels. Not only is it the result of a lengthy and trying process, especially in terms of financing, but Hamilton also captures the time period in an impressively sincere fashion. In honor of the film’s December 3rd release, Hamilton took the time to explain every step of her journey from changing artistic mediums to recruiting her top-notch leading duo and even a little about her next project. Check out all of that and much more in the video interview below.

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Review: Night Catches Us

Ten years is a very long time to be working on just one film, but that’s just how it goes for most up-and-coming filmmakers. However, in first time feature writer-direct Tanya Hamilton’s case, I’d imagine she looks back fondly on every minute she spent working on Night Catches Us, for the final product truly represents not only the time she put into the project, but her passion for it as well.

It’s 1979 and Marcus (Anthony Mackie) is returning home to Philadelphia after having left town for quite a while without an explanation for his departure. When he arrives, everything has changed and nearly all of his friends and family have turned their backs on him. Marcus’ brothers, now ex-Black Panthers, are eager to humiliate him, threaten him and do just about anything to drive him out of town for they blame him for the slaying of their former leader years ago. However, Marcus finds a surrogate family in his best friend’s widow, Patricia (Kerry Washington), and her young daughter, Iris (Jamara Griffin).

Night Catches Us is rich in every facet. The story is gripping, the characters are enthralling, the performances are honest, the set is vivid, the camerawork is powerful and, to top it all off, the music really makes you feel as though you’re part of the film. There are very few movies that achieve such a level of greatness in so many areas that it’s easy to forget how much stronger a film can be when every layer gets its due attention. Hamilton has a firm grasp on every aspect of the filmmaking process and it shows.

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