Out now is a batch of action dramas. First we have Pay Back. This is an Asian film not to be confused with the Mel Gibson film from years back. It’s also the best film of the bunch. A criminal is sent to prison for something he didn’t do and gets out wanting to avoid that life. Someone tries to kill him and he convinces a cab driver to help him sort things out. There’s a former love interest, a mob boss and the guy who set him up. Plus one character has a huge twist that really makes the film have an extra layer to it. I quite liked it. I can see Hollywood remaking it as well. It’s smart and creative, but doesn’t try to outsmart itself. You understand everything happening and why the characters do what they do. Whether it’s trying to escape that lifestyle or just revenge, you understand what drives every character. It’s just another solid Asian Crime Drama that you should watch if you like those films. I’d watch it again and I’d recommend it to others.
Next we have Dixieland. A prisoner is set free from jail and wants to avoid going back to that lifestyle. He meets a new neighbor and falls for her. Of course he gets back into the mix to help her and her dying mom. Sounds similar to the above film, but it’s not nearly as good. In fact, I feel like I’ve seen this film many times before. The acting is fine, but there’s nothing original about it. There’s nothing new, no twist or turns, it’s just straight forward and feels like a lot of other movies. I didn’t even recognize Faith Hill in it though. It looks fine. The direction is fine, but there’s just nothing about it that separates it from other similar films.
Third we have Identicals. Boy did I not get this at all. It’s a science fiction action film that I’m not even sure what really happens. Allegedly it’s about an organization that finds people who look like others that are living a better life, eliminates them and gives you that new life as an upgrade. I really didn’t understand that part of it. It felt more like clones or surrogates than that. The biggest name in it is Nick Blood from Agents of SHIELD, but even with bigger names, I probably wouldn’t have liked it either. I don’t know if they were going for a Total Recall vibe or a Philip K. Dick type story, but it really didn’t work for me. I didn’t understand it at all. But set design and production was pretty solid so I’ll give it that.
Last we have Stealing Cars. It has some really good performances, but it’s yet another movie I feel like I’ve seen many times before. A promising young man gets into trouble and finds himself in a camp for boys. He has to deal with fellow inmates and a vicious staff. He bonds with some people and tries to get help for a friend. It’s pretty much like every other young person going to jail/boarding school/camp we’ve seen before at least story wise. John Leguizamo is really good in it. I mean really good. And you can’t go wrong with Felicity Huffman and William H. Macy. I just wish the story didn’t feel super familiar. The young man finds who he is in life and helps inspire those around him so it is an uplifting story, but if I thought about it, I probably could name 5 very similar movies. I don’t remember if it’s based on a true story or not, it feels like it could be. If you watch it, watch it for the performances though especially Leguizamo.