And boy, did I get some. Three Films stood out in this Month filled with stunts, guns and perhaps a little buns.
Or course, they couldn't all be Action Classics. January has been notorious in the past as the Month Film Studios dump their lesser fare as Audiences are either clicking off all the Oscar Bait Films on their To-See Lists or just want something completely mind numbing in retaliation to watch.
Also Exploding At A Theater Near You:
Yet another sequel to the CGI Craptacular Underworld. This one titled: Underworld: Awakening (Jan. 20). There is also the release of Red Tails (Jan. 20), the George Lucas over-produced take on the Tuskegee Airmen. Will it even last at the box office in time for Black History Month? For a better version of this story, see the above-average HBO Movie from 1995: The Tuskegee Airmen. One For The Money (Jan. 27) is a Katherine Heigl Action-Comedy vehicle, so it's destined for endless TBS or LMN play (and the promise of your eyes exploding if you attempt to watch it). Speaking of promises, there's also the promise/threat of high scale Action with the sure-to-be anemic Man On A Ledge (Jan. 27). Would you care to jump off yours and see any of these Movies today?
Thankfully, I don't have to. January's Action Winners are right here:
Contraband - Released on January 13th, 2012
Dir. by Baltasar Kormakur
Contraband finds Marky Mark dropping his pants once again, this time to smuggle various illegal things like counterfeit dough and Pollock paintings to protect his Family from some creeps.
Although the story is fairly stock, Contraband has suspense and a couple of tricks up it's sweaty action sleeves. I was surprised I enjoyed this silliness as much as I did. From the Director of 101 Reykjavík. Grade: B
- Released on January 20th, 2012
Dir. by Steven Soderbergh
Steven Soderbergh has been churning them out lately. He Directed Contagion from last Fall, as well as a Comedy he made in Australia called The Last Time I Saw Michael Gregg, a documentary on the late Spalding Grey titled And Everything Is Going Fine, he's in post-production on his male stripper Film Magic Mike, and a few more films in the works in addition to all the Pictures he produces like We Need To Talk About Kevin. That's pretty good for a Director who said he was going to retire a couple of years ago.
Anyway, as it turns out, Haywire is Excellent. I was enthralled from beginning to end. It's a shame this Film hasn't taken off at the Box Office. It's everything you would want in an Action Film. It's kind of like the Female version of the Jason Bourne Films, but a bit more my speed. The Action sequences are Directed so beautifully. They are quiet, and pull absolutely no punches. This is what Action should look and sound like. None of those lightning fast-cutting and dubious camera techniques to make it seem more energetic then it actually is. Plus, it's star, Gina Carano, was actually a former Mix-Martial Artist. She really knows her stuff and kicks ass with the best of all the men of Action. I hope she'll be kicking more ass in the future.
Like the previous Soderbergh/Writer Lem Dobbs joint effort, The Limey (1999), I was in love. Grade: A
The Grey - Released on January 27th, 2012
Dir. by Joe Carnahan
I think it's absolutely wonderful that Liam Neeson has become an Action Star in his later years. Taken was good Fun. The Grey is harrowing and a real nail biter. You'll really get caught up in Neeson's struggle for survival as he and a few other survivors from a plane crash (a really scary sequence in itself) have to deal with a pack of absolutely merciless wolves in addition to the below zero temperatures and being lost.
The Grey is packed with Action and Suspense, filled with themes you can relate to even if you don't ever find yourself in such an extraordinary situation. It's gut-wrenching stuff at times. Liam Neeson Vs. Wolves. Sounds great to me. Directed by Joe Carnahan. A vast improvement over his A-Team Movie from 2010, and a reminder that he can still make excellent, gritty Movies like 2002's Narc. Grade: A-