Archives for posts with tag: Javier Bardem

gunman

Sean Penn, who co-scripted, plays an ex-mercenary haunted by his assassination of a Congolese mining minister. Eight years later, now a damaged man in more ways than one, Penn discovers that someone with knowledge of his past has put out a contract on his life. Penn spends as much of the movie as possible shirtless so as to show off his impressive physique, and in one scene even taps into his inner Spicoli and catches a few African waves.

Less incendiary than one might expect for a Joel Silver production, The Gunman is an action movie that wants desperately to be an art film, aiming for poetic moments like that in which a battered and dying assassin is juxtaposed with a matador’s speared bull. The action, once the movie gets around to it, however, should be brutal enough to compensate for the more pretentious material. There is also a love triangle to keep the women interested.

4 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that The Gunman is:

6. Anti-tobacco. “That’s really healthy,” Ray Winstone says sarcastically on seeing Penn light a cigarette.

5. Anti-marriage. Penn’s love interest (Jasmine Trinca) regards her creepy husband (Javier Bardem) as a creditor, her loveless wifely duties the repayment of an obligation.

4. Multiculturalist and pro-immigration. European-accented non-white professionals put in a good word for immigrants’ ability to assimilate into western societies. London and Barcelona appear as peaceful and orderly multi-ethnic metropolises. Penn atones for his sins by working to improve the lives of Africans.

3. Ostensibly anti-war. Rape and machete attacks are noted as weapons of war in the Congo. Penn’s combat experience has left him with brain damage.

2. Anti-capitalistic. Corporatocracy is behind the world’s evils, with the “growing demand of the western world” to blame for the Congo’s sufferings.

1. Globalist, giving the false impression that NGOs (non-governmental organizations) are strictly humanitarian and apolitical entities. In reality, NGOs are frequently the unconventional tools of Zio-American foreign policy and therefore have been dubbed “missionaries of empire”. Brit-accented television reporters – still more tools of Zio-American globe-grasping – are presented as reliable sources of information. That the poster has the chutzpah to say both “armed with the truth” and “from the director of Taken” probably says all that prospective viewers need to know.

Rainer Chlodwig von Kook

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Director Sam Mendes made his fortune with American Beauty, one of the most overrated films of the 1990s.  He did something to begin redeeming himself with Road to Perdition and now continues his foray into legitimately earned accolades with Skyfall, a solid entry in the Daniel Craig James Bond series.  The action set pieces are top-notch or close, with the opening sequence being a particular doozy; and the writing team has injected a valuable uncertainty into the story by presenting a battle-damaged Bond somewhat past his prime and perhaps in over his head in confronting a foe of similar background and prowess.

Javier Bardem has fun as Silva, a quirky, almost Batman-style supervillain and hacker extraordinaire with a private army.  Silva, a former MI6 agent, has a bone to pick with M (Judi Dench), holding his ex-boss responsible for torture he endured at enemy hands.  She is also the subject of his unhealthy mother fixation, so that 007’s current favor with her irks Silva as a kind of sibling rivalry.  M is closer to the action than usual in Skyfall and gets to play with the boys a little.

Packed with lovely ladies, unusual perils, and several exotic locations, Skyfall is a film that should satisfy spy action fans.  It also functions as an interesting character study, with Bond’s psychology and backstory receiving more attention than in most of the films.  Unfortunately, this is where Skyfall strikes its few false notes, with the masculine mystique of the character done something of a disservice in overly generous revelation.  Have any Bond fans been clamoring, for instance, to see 007’s childhood home or to meet his parents’ old groundskeeper?  Happily, Skyfall‘s many merits more than make up for the few missteps, and build solidly on the previous groundwork, ensuring future adventures.

4.5 stars.  Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Skyfall is:

8. Anti-family.  “Orphans always make the best recruits,” M confides (cf. no. 1).

7. Drug-ambivalent.  Bond has become an alcoholic and pill addict, but cigarette smoke retains its sexiness as blown by Severine.

6. Mildly xenophobic.  The Orient and the Middle East are, as always, the lands of mystery, danger, and intrigue.  (The Turkish government must be offering discounts on licenses for filmmakers to run roughshod over Istanbul rooftops, as Skyfall is, along with Taken 2, one of two recent movies to enjoy that privilege.  Not one, but two Third World produce stands are overturned during the opening chase.)

5. Pro-slut/pro-miscegenation – a James Bond tradition.  007’s new girlfriend, fellow agent Eve (Naomie Harris), is black.  In addition to some lucky Turkish babe (Tonia Sotiropoulou), Bond’s other conquest of note is sultry Eurasian maneater Severine (winner of Tastiest, Scariest Seductress of Year 2012, Berenice Marlohe), who, particularly as costumed and colored in the Floating Dragon sequence, is exquisite.

4. Pro-gay.  Computer genius Silva is a mean one, admittedly; but gays have come a long way when they can give James Bond a run for his money.  Skyfall thus has its cake and eats it as well with regard to glorification and vilification of homosexuality.

3. Macho minus.  Craig plays Bond as the alpha male who can outrun a fireball, but the screenplay occasionally seems to want to undermine this familiar characterization, implying that Bond may have dabbled in homosexuality and that he is motivated partly by unresolved childhood trauma.  Oy vey . . .

2. Multiculturalist.  Skyfall acknowledges the contributions to international security of minorities, women, the elderly, and the nearsighted.  Javier Bardem’s hair has been dyed blonde (blonde being the color of evil) to mitigate the insensitivity of portraying a Hispanic homosexual as a villain.  London appears as a representative orderly multiracial society.

1. Statist.  After MI6’s headquarters are attacked, their operations move into the underground command center from which Winston Churchill’s war effort was directed, thus establishing a parallel between the “good war” and superpower intelligence agencies’ struggle with fourth generation adversaries today.  Now terrorists and hackers, not the Soviet Union or SPECTRE, are the primary threats to civilization, so that Julian Assange replaces Blofeld or Goldfinger as governments’ primier bogeyman.

State enterprise and covert intelligence agencies bring mankind salvation.  MI6 achieves its apotheosis when one of its worthies is martyred in a Scottish church, effecting a spook-as-self-sacrificing-savior conceit.  Bond has earlier referred to his own “resurrection”.

Gun control gets an endorsement when Bond is shown at a disadvantage in having to change clips when pitted against a terrorist’s high-capacity magazine.  Also, MI6 has invented for Bond a handgun that is palm-programmed so that only he can fire it – unlike the common firearm or “random killing machine”.  (Are mandatory consumer models next?)  The government-media complex receives a nod when we see that Bond gets his news from CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.  Picturesque Shanghai, meanwhile, puts in a good word for state capitalism, depicting in its futuristic architecture and technology the new type of society on the rise.

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