L.A. Confidential (1997)

L.A. Confidential Movie Review

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L.A. Confidential Movie Review

L.A. Confidential is a 1997 crime film starring Kevin Spacey, Russell Crowe, Guy Pierce and Kim Basinger. It is one of the most overrated films that I have ever seen.

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Go back to Jersey, sonny.

This is the City of the Angels,

and you haven’t got any wings

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L.A. Confidential Movie Review

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The plot is your typical crime storyline. It is dull, uninspired and thoroughly difficult to follow and tedious owing to its too many characters and convoluted plot points that are not complex, but just needlessly complicated and none of them matter anyhow. I was bored endlessly by this film which is so long and so incredibly dull that it was almost unwatchable to me personally.

Yes, it does have a great cast, that is its only evident strength. Danny DeVito is as good as he usually is and the same goes for Kevin Spacey who is very good, but this is far from his best performances. Russell Crowe is the most likable of the bunch in one of his breakout roles, but Kim Basinger is not likable and Guy Pierce is actually very unlikable and annoying here. I really disliked him and his character. All of these characters are rather forgettable or dull or unlikable and all are very weakly developed.

L.A. Confidential is not a noir, neo-noir or whatever. They can call it that as much as they want, but this is a typical modern crime film that never can hold a candle to the noir classics of yesteryear. It is as overly violent as you would expect from these hideous crime films and as boring and as soulless per usual.

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L.A. Confidential Movie Review

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I also found its direction rather uninspired. The same goes for editing, cinematography and everything really is rather mediocre despite the acting which is the only good thing here. How it received its accolades is beyond me. Nine Academy Award nominations is just baffling to me. Thankfully it lost most of them to ‘Titanic’ which is a much better film and that says a lot as that film is far from great. This is a further proof of how the nineties proved to be the driest, worst period ever for the movie industry.

L.A. Confidential is very well acted by its great cast, but otherwise immensely boring and almost unwatchable, weakly developed in characters, so uninspired and needlessly complicated in its storyline and technically not that well made too. It is one of the most overrated films I have ever seen and I am thoroughly baffled at why everyone loves it so much.

My Rating – 2.5

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Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion (1970)

Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion Movie Review

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Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion Movie Review

Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion is an Italian crime film directed by Elio Petri and starring Gian Maria Volonte. It is a solid, but not really a great film.

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Your fingerprints are all over here

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Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion Movie Review

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It follows a top police officer who kills his mistress and then tests whether the police would charge him for this crime. He begins manipulating the investigation by planting obvious clues while the other police officers ignore them. Needless to say, this premise is very intriguing and the film is smart and certainly relevant and important in its subject matter.

I don’t know if the choice to follow the action/plot form his perspective was great, but it did give us an interesting, original for its time narrative and structure. I thought that Gian Maria Volonte’s performance in the lead role was really good and his character is memorable for sure. But others are not nearly as memorable and the women are overly stereotypical and typical female characters from the seventies cinema.

Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion is very well acted and certainly well directed by Elio Petri, but the film doesn’t sound or look all that great as both the score and the cinematography are not the greatest. It won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, but I haven’t seen the other nominees so I cannot comment whether or not it was deserved. To me it is mostly a solid and at times even fascinating film, but far from great and certainly a lost potential as the premise definitely had tremendous promise for greatness.

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Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion Movie Review

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Its main problem was an overly sexual approach and that the film was very much a product of its time in almost every way. The first half was very good, but the second half lost me in some scenes and whereas at first it was quite believable, as it further went on and he got away, I thought that the film became more and more hard to buy and ending up being unrealistic. That is only my opinion, but I just felt like something was off here.

Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion is certainly very well acted, directed and its premise is excellent and it gives us a really interesting angle to a regular crime flick, but it is still a product of its time in some scenes, it is technically not the greatest and it became more unbelievable as it progressed leading to a solid film which had the potential to be much better.

My Rating – 3.5

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The Penalty (1920)

The Penalty Movie Review………………………………………………………

The Penalty Movie Review

The Penalty is a 1920 silent crime film directed by Wallace Worsley and starring always great Lon Chaney. It is a very good, entertaining movie.

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Everything comes to him who waits

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The Penalty Movie Review………………………………………………………

It follows a man played by Chaney who got his legs mistakenly amputated as a kid and now seeks revenge on the doctor who ruined his life. This is an obvious Chaney vehicle and he absolutely killed it in this role. The film itself isn’t one of his very best and ‘The Unknown’ is certainly much better, but it is one of his best performances as he is so great here.

His character is complex and villainous and creepy and crazy but also with a touch of sentiment and sympathy. He had to hit all of those notes and he did it masterfully, not to mention that he was torturing himself physically in order to play a legless man. Such an admirable devotion from one of the greatest actors who ever lived. The other actors here are much weaker in comparison to him.

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The Penalty Movie Review………………………………………………………

The plot is interesting and The Penalty is basically an early all-out crime film and I honestly liked it quite a bit. It should have been more memorable and it never fully utilized on its awesome premise, but still it remains a hugely entertaining, even emotional at times crime flick that is satisfactory and quite modern. Anyone looking for fun and quick silent flicks should definitely watch this one. It perfectly debunks the old, annoying myth that silent films are boring.

My favorite sequences are all of the romantic parts with the two leads and I loved the piano scenes. The secret passage and everything around it was so well conceived. And of course the ending is moving and tragic. The film is interesting for featuring Blizzard as an antagonistic character while also having all of the other characters be absolutely horrible as they show no empathy whatsoever to his condition. That led to such an incredibly dark emotionally and thematically film that it took me by surprise.

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The Penalty Movie Review………………………………………………………

The Penalty features very good intertitles that are never overly abundant or sparse and they explain the plot and fuel the characterization very well. The acting is great, but so is the directing from Wallace Worsley. He isn’t Tod Browning, but he still did a very good job. This was the film that introduced the masses to the power of Lon Chaney and it did that remarkably well. I thought it was solidly paced, but some of the middle parts were much less interesting than the rest of the film. And it is well shot and with a very good eye for detail. Overall, I liked The Penalty a lot, but I didn’t love it as much as I wanted to.

The Penalty has its weaker parts and it isn’t as great overall as it could have been, but the premise is awesome and this crime flick features a crazy, incredibly dark thematically and emotionally storyline and filled with questionable actions by its characters. The reason to see it of course lies in the performance from Lon Chaney which is absolutely phenomenal. He had to physically torture himself while also portraying a very complex character and he still did a masterful job. This is certainly one great vehicle for one the best actors who ever lived.

My Rating – 4

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Midnight Express (1978)

Midnight Express Movie Review………………………………………………….

Midnight Expres Movie Review

Midnight Express is a 1978 crime drama film directed by Alan Parker and starring Brad Davis and John Hurt. It is a deeply xenophobic, but also very powerful movie.

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Catch the midnight express.

It’s a prison word for… escape.

But it doesn’t stop around here

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Midnight Express Movie Review………………………………………………….

Billy Hayes tried to smuggle hashish out of Turkey, but was caught and sentenced to 30 years of prison so that they can make an example out of him. There he encounters horrible conditions and authorities until eventually managing to escape five years later. Now this is a story of a real man and this really happened which brings me to my first negative point – the movie utterly fails as a biopic.

It is difficult to judge this movie as we have a great fictional movie here and an awful biographical one. As a biopic, it is horrendous as it is beyond exaggerated and sensationalized to the point of becoming absurd and caricaturist. Rarely have I seen this high level of xenophobia which is exhibited here as all Turks are portrayed as awful human beings, dirty, lawless and plain horrible as if coming from the Dark Ages. That was so problematic and it took me out of the movie entirely.

But I tried to watch this as a fictional movie and that way, it actually is great. It is great because I rarely do like crime films and they are not my cup of tea, but even I could see how powerful this movie is. The story is well told, the pacing is excellent and the film is frequently brutal, but also very powerful and definitely unnerving, but a in a good way. I loved the prison break scene, but my favourite scene is the ending which is just such a deeply emotional, beautiful scene that perfectly wrapped up the entire film in my opinion.

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Midnight Express Movie Review………………………………………………….

I liked the characters and I especially liked how they interacted as a group in prison and they were such a great group. Brad Davis isn’t as great and a bigger actor was needed for this movie, but he was still pretty solid in this very difficult role and he was quite physical and sensual. John Hurt is excellent as Max and gave the finest performance here.

Midnight Express is phenomenally made with excellent direction from Alan Parker and terrific cinematography. Some scenes definitely were too repulsive such as that beat up of Rifki, but the film is mostly a harrowing and very dramatic and powerful tale that leaves you unnerved instead of disgusted which was great. But I still wanted a message as they almost portrayed his actions of smuggling drugs as totally innocent and minor.

Where Midnight Express shines is in its score. Wow, what a beautiful score. Rarely do you see such a fantastic score in a crime flick, but here I was blown away by it. That is why that ending scene is so majestic as it is accompanied by that Midnight Express Theme which is one of the finest themes of this decade. It is moving and simply gorgeous.

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Midnight Express Movie Review………………………………………………….

So I liked this film a lot. I liked the characters and I also liked the dialogue. It flowed really well and was never at all boring or slow. It was quite riveting and one of the finest prison films for sure. But I still deem it irresponsible as it is basically one giant hate letter to Turkey. But regardless of that, it caught me by surprise how powerful and dramatic it was.

Midnight Express is very difficult to judge. You have two movies here – one is very good and the other one is horrendous. As a biopic, it fails miserably as it is such an exaggerated, sensationalist portrayal of a real story and rarely have I seen such horrible, shameful xenophobia which was certainly portrayed here and the film is basically one giant hate letter to Turkey. But watching it as a fictional movie, it is actually stupendous. The performances are very good, the film is so well made and it is such a harrowing and unnerving movie that is frequently even powerful with many superb and memorable sequences. It is also accompanied by such a phenomenal score with a gorgeous theme. So in the end I’d say this is a good film, but an irresponsible one nonetheless.

My Rating – 4

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Hell or High Water (2016)

Hell or High Water Movie Review………………………………………………………………….

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Hell or High Water is a 2016 western crime film directed by David Mackenzie and starring Ben Foster, Chris Pine and Jeff Bridges. It is an okay movie, nothing more than that.

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You fellas robbin’ the bank? What’s it look like, old man? But you ain’t Mexicans

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Hell or High Water Movie Review………………………………………………………………….

The film follows two brothers who carry out a series of bank robberies to save their family farm. Needless to say, this movie is incredibly derivative. It is basically a rip-off of ‘Bonnie and Clyde’, very unoriginal and immensely uninspired. This plot works and it always will, but it is still nothing new and that needs to be taken into account when reviewing this movie, something most reviewers unfortunately did not do.

Hell or High Water is really well directed and of course well acted by its talented cast with all three of these actors doing a very good job. It is also solidly edited and sometimes even pleasantly emotional. But it hit all the obvious and expected plot points for me to enjoy it more. The family drama is fine, but nothing exceptionally remarkable and that is this movie in a nutshell – okay, but never more than that.

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Hell or High Water Movie Review………………………………………………………………….

What Hell or High Water excels at is its humor which is surprisingly even present and so well done with a couple of really funny moments. It is traditional in the best way possible and it helped this movie a lot and made it much more entertaining than it would have been without it. What I also admired about it is that it stayed away from violence and it gave us more of a crime drama than a crime thriller which is great. But what is not great is that during those crime/action sequences the tone was comedic and lightweight and that was just tonally odd and not fitting in with the plot and totally unrealistic. It is fun, but that is not how these robberies play out in real life at all.

Hell or High Water is definitely an okay movie with its fine moments, good performances, a great approach with less violence and more drama and a surprisingly solid humor, but the overall story is so uninspired and unoriginal as we’ve seen movies like this countless times before and that is why it never reached greatness despite its many positive aspects.

My Rating – 3

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Mean Streets (1973)

Mean Streets Movie Review…………………………………………………………………

Mean Streets Movie Review

Mean Streets is a 1973 crime film directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Robert De Niro and Harvey Keitel. It is a solid film.

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You don’t make up for your sins in church.

You do it in the streets. You do it at home.

The rest is bullshit and you know it

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Mean Streets Movie Review…………………………………………………………………

As crime films go, this one is actually pretty solid. It is still far from great, but having in mind my usual dislike for the genre, this is as far as I could like a gangster film, I guess. The story itself is solid and I really enjoyed the theme of religion in it as well as the relationship between the two men as well as the romantic relationship. Truly all of the character interactions here are quite good and sometimes the film could be quite tender which I didn’t expect at all.

The acting is one of its strongest suits. Robert De Niro and Harvey Keitel both gave truly great performances in one of their first roles. The directing from Scorsese is as great as always and the editing is also pretty solid. But I was still bored by the movie at times and somehow the structure didn’t work for me as the entire middle act should have been reduced a bit as the ending should have been more emphasized and the beginning isn’t the most memorable.

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Mean Streets Movie Review…………………………………………………………………

But it is well made and really well scored. It has a terrific score to be honest with many great hits from the sixties and seventies and its soundtrack is one of the highlights. But I’ve had some problems with the script. Yes, it did have its great emotional and dramatic moments and that ending is so great in its ambiguity, but it still had its typical crime trappings such as excessive violence and some very annoying dialogue in it. Not one of the characters was even remotely likable to me and they all talked and acted in a way that I find extremely insufferable. But that is the problem all of these films have and Scorsese is definitely a master of the crime/gangster genre as he at least managed to make some meaningful entries and this one, although flawed, is still quite solid and at times even great.

Mean Streets has annoying characters as well as a boring second act, but as crime films go, it is as good as it can get with some pretty dramatic scenes with even some tender moments in them, excellent performances from Harvey Keitel and Robert De Niro and a great ambiguous ending.

My Rating – 3.5

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Los Olvidados (1950)

Los Olvidados Movie Review……………………………………………………………………..

Los Olvidados Movie Review

Los Olvidados is a 1950 Mexican crime film directed by Luis Bunuel. It is a very good and important film, but not without its flaws.

The film is a depiction of poverty and crime in the slums of Mexico City and it focuses on children in particular. I found its subject matter to be very important and it is a great history lesson as the film is realistic and depicts everything as it really was back in the day in Mexico. Also, this is one of the rare crime films that I actually enjoyed as the film isn’t violent and it is pretty engaging to watch.

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Just now you remember that I’m your son

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Los Olvidados Movie Review……………………………………………………………………..

Pedro’s character is a deeply tragic one. Everything about him is heartbreaking from his relationship with his mother to his reluctant involvement in a crime to his evident doom. His mother is also an interesting character and of course El Jaibo is despicable, but well depicted. The acting is also pretty good and all of the children gave quite stupendous performances for their age.

Los Olvidados is far from a great movie and now is the perfect time to pinpoint some of its obvious flaws. Let’s just say that this is the type of film that is great in substance, but lacks in style which is weird having in mind the director here is Luis Bunuel. But unfortunately the technical aspects are pretty mediocre and they significantly reduced the quality of this movie.

The cinematography is weak, there isn’t anything remotely memorable here in terms of the imagery and the directing from Luis Bunuel is also quite troublesome. I particularly fault his willingness to go into surrealist territory here. The film is realistic for the most part, but there are some scenes including that prolonged dream sequence that are surrealist in the director’s typical fashion. But the problem is that this movie did not need any of that and that just becomes a bit of a distraction. Those scenes felt like they belong in an entirely different movie.

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Los Olvidados Movie Review……………………………………………………………………..

But thankfully the editing in Los Olvidados is really good and the film is entertaining from beginning to end and its three act structure is well executed. The tone is suitably serious and mature and the dialogue is very good and grounded in reality. I would have liked a more emotional approach, but the movie still has its tragic tone. And I liked its almost documentary like approach as it is essential in painting this real and important issue. Overall, it isn’t great, but I still liked it a lot.

Los Olvidados is far from a great movie as the technical aspects are rather mediocre and Bunuel’s direction is troublesome as his inclusion of surrealist scenes was entirely unnecessary for this movie, but this is still an important and very realistic crime film with an engaging, well crafted plot, realistic characters, good acting and such a tragic ending.

My Rating – 4

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Trainspotting (1996)

Trainspotting Movie Review………………………………………………………………………….

Trainspotting Movie Review

Trainspotting is a 1996 crime film directed by Danny Boyle and starring Ewan McGregor. Such an expectedly overrated movie.

As is the case with most of these movies about drugs, I disliked this one too. It is basically just like every other film of this genre and it never has anything that differentiates it. So uninspired, so typical and so dull.

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Personality, I mean that’s what counts, right?

That’s what keeps a relationship going through the years.

Like heroin, I mean heroin’s got a great fucking personality

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Trainspotting Movie Review………………………………………………………………………….

Another problem is the lack of a clear message. Instead of being anti-drugs, the movie never even touches upon that issue in that way. That’s not to say that it glorifies drugs because thankfully it does not, but it also never presents it as a big issue that it is. It is ambivalent and that’s a always a huge problem for me.

Trainspotting’s saving grace is its acting. Everyone here does a really good job with Ewan McGregor in particular being phenomenal. In fact, he did such an admirable job that I bought him in this role which at first I felt was not fitting to him, but he proved me otherwise. The direction from Danny Boyle is also solid as is the editing, but I still continue to dislike his movies as there’s only a couple from his filmography I genuinely liked.

Trainspotting isn’t disgusting all the time, but when it is, it’s just awful, repulsive and plain unwatchable from the last couple of violent scenes to that sickening toilet scene which was just too gruesome too describe. It was a totally unpleasant experience that was made all the more unnecessary given its lack of a clear-cut message.

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Trainspotting Movie Review………………………………………………………………………….

It is well paced and its running time is reasonable. The structure is also solid and those technical aspects are the reasons why I consider it to be mediocre instead of just plain bad. But this is still such a, needless to say, hugely overrated movie and I expected that given its subject matter which is why I wasn’t disappointed in it. But I still continue to find Danny Boyle and his movies too much praised when in reality they are mostly so ordinary.

Trainspotting is technically well made with good editing and a particularly strong performance from Ewan McGregor, but the plot is typical and uninspired and it is so repulsive and plain disgusting in some sequences and that’s made all the more unnecessary given its evident lack of a clear-cut message. Such an overrated, troublesome and unpleasant crime film.

My Rating – 2.5

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Key Largo (1948)

Key Largo Movie Review…………………………………………………………………………

Key Largo Movie Review

Key Largo is a 1948 noir crime film directed by John Huston and starring Humphrey Bogart, Edward G. Robinson and Lauren Bacall. It is such a disappointing and uninspired movie.

A bunch of gangsters are holding some people hostage in a hotel while the storm is brewing outside. Yes, that’s it. That’s the plot of this movie. And needless to say, it is uninspired, unoriginal and lacking in identity. Not only did I find it typical, but also frankly boring as it was filled with not that great dialogue and clichéd characters.

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When your head says one thing and your whole life says another,

your head always loses

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Key Largo Movie Review…………………………………………………………………………

Yes, the characters here are so clichéd and so ordinary and none of them sticks out. Rocco is the most typical and annoying of the bunch and Frank is a solid, but forgettable protagonist. Gaye is the standout, but unfortunately Nora Temple got little to do here.

Yeah, Lauren Bacall has such a short role here that it really caught me by surprise as this is their famous movie, but in reality only Bogart is memorable in it. And Bogart is as great as ever as he is always a great actor and delivering a great performance even in his lesser movies. Edward G. Robinson is also expectedly good. However, Claire Trevor as Gaye Dawn absolutely steals the show here which is very interesting as she’s got so little actual scenes. But her character is heartbreaking as this woman who is poorly treated by her husband and that scene in which she sings that is so incredibly powerful and that basically earned her an Oscar, an Oscar that is rightfully deserved as this supporting performance is the most memorable aspect of the whole movie.

Key Largo is admittedly well acted, well directed and mostly well edited. All of its technical aspects are good and some of the imagery here is quite striking owing to a very interesting setting. The hotel and the storm provided some great scenes visually and I really enjoyed that sweet ending. But the dialogue is so annoying that it made me bored. The movie is so dull to watch as it never has anything truly interesting or unique in it.

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Key Largo Movie Review…………………………………………………………………………

Key Largo also bothered me with its classification. Just because the movie is made in the forties doesn’t mean that it is a noir flick as it isn’t. Yes, it is partly noir, but it is above all a gangster flick and that’s one of the reasons why I didn’t like it as much because I dislike that genre. I admired its emotion and its technical aspects, but everything else is so subpar. And the movie unfortunately comes way behind the classic Bertie Higgins eponymous 1981 song that is inspired by this movie and which is one of my favorites. It was such a shame that the movie didn’t live up to it, at least for me it didn’t.

Key Largo is very well made, visually pleasing, sometimes emotional and it has such a great performance from Claire Trevor who deserved her Oscar here, but the movie is so dull, so uninspired and typical and filled with really forgettable characters that it disappointed me a lot.

My Rating – 3

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The Departed (2006)

The Departed Movie Review……………………………………………………………..

The Departed Movie Review

The Departed is a 2006 crime film directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon and Jack Nicholson. It is a very entertaining, but clichéd film.

The Departed’s plot is very formulaic and I’ve seen this type of story countless times before. You have a mole from each side, one in the gang and one in the police. And that theme of mistaken identity is done do death by now. However, whereas I found its plot to be clichéd, I still found it to be incredibly entertaining and fun to watch. And that is a rarity for me because I usually strongly dislike gangster flicks. But this one was mostly engaging.

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One of us had to die. With me, it tends to be the other guy

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The Departed Movie Review……………………………………………………………..

The characters are good, but they are still archetypes. Billy is probably the strongest character here, the one audiences can relate to most. Colin is the opposite, very unlikable, but he serves his purpose. Frank is a typical mobster character who doesn’t differentiate himself from others of the same type. Dignam is very annoying, Madden is quite good and all of the others aren’t memorable.

The acting is particularly good with Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon being the standouts, both giving great performances. Jack Nicholson is also quite good as is Vera Farmiga, but Mark Wahlberg’s performance is very overrated.

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The Departed Movie Review……………………………………………………………..

The Departed’s main problem has to be its length. It never makes a case for it, ending in a very prolonged, overlong film with a particularly dragging third act. I just felt that the entire movie could have been shortened by at least half an hour and it would have been much better. In terms of storytelling, it is well crafted, but as I said, standard. But its entertainment value is strong. I found the pacing to be very bad as it is too long, too dragging and sometimes it contains some unnecessary sequences.

It is well directed by Martin Scorsese and very well acted. It is also well shot and solidly scored, but its use of various popular songs bothered me as most of those songs were highly annoying to me. The movie is also never as emotional as it could have been and it is also not as dramatic. It is mostly intense and dramatic, but if it were shorter, the effect would have been stronger.

I respect this movie for not going into overly repulsive and violent territory and that is one of the reasons why I liked it despite me not liking the genre. Its structure is also solid with a very strong first act and the film does have some terrific action sequences.

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The Departed Movie Review……………………………………………………………..

The Departed is famous for being the film that finally garnered Scorsese his Oscar, both for directing and best film. And I agree that both are undeserved as that year had some particularly strong Best Picture nominees. Its wins for screenplay and editing are also not fair. And the fact that Mark Walhberg was the only actor here nominated is just ludicrous to me when his performance is both overrated and forgettable. DiCaprio and Damon should have been nominated as they were much better. Overall, The Departed caught me by surprise how entertaining and solid it is, but it is still too clichéd to be enjoyed more.

The Departed is a very entertaining movie with a fun story, terrific performances from its great cast and some quite memorable sequences, but it is still an incredibly clichéd gangster flick with typical characters and a very formulaic plot. It is also overlong as it should have been shorter for at least half an hour. But it is still surprisingly solid and entertaining.

My Rating – 3.5

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