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Django Unchained, Jack Reacher, and Gangster Squad reviews – no spoilers

Ah, Django… you know, I love Quentin Tarantino because he tells a good yarn and doesn’t care who the hell he pisses off in the telling of it. He writes what he wants and whatever moves him. That’s the kind of writer I try to be, only I’m not nearly as fearless. I read an article, can’t remember where now, that said black writers were pissed that he had the nerve, being a white man, to write a “black story,” but really? I think that’s sour grapes. You know who has the “right” to tell a story, ethnic or not? The person who has the nerve to see it through and the talent to pull it off.

As for the movie itself, well, like every other Tarantino flick, it’s not for the easily offended. I don’t know how many times they said the “N” word, but it was a damn lot. There’s blood. There’s violence. There’s cursing. There’s more violence. And there’s humor. Oh my God there’s humor! I about died laughing in a few different places. The acting was just perfect all around. Sam Jackson, Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leo DiCaprio, and Kerry Washington were all just awesome. Really, his only mistake was in casting himself and trying to pull of an Australian accent. I know, that’s a spoiler, but come on. You knew he was going to put himself in it somewhere. I liked this movie a lot. Not to read too much into an action flick, but there’s a lot more going on in this movie under the surface that I think will keep people talking for a long time. And that’s what a movie should do.

Another good one was Jack Reacher, Tom Cruise’s latest action movie. The story was pretty straightforward – he’s an ex-MP out to bring justice to the bad guys however he sees fit, regardless of the law. It’s about a vigilante with a code and a surprisingly good sense of humor. It was the acting and directing on this one that really got to me. Tom Cruise was perfectly cast and brought a surprising touch of wryness to the role that I didn’t expect. And all the action sequences were just great. The weak spot, imo, was the female lead. The chemistry between her and Cruise seemed forced to me; like just because there’s a pretty girl, there has to be some kind of spark between them. (You know, just once I’d like to see a movie where the male/female leads become best buds in the end. Heh. Maybe I’ll write that.) I haven’t read the books, but this movie makes me want to do so. It’s a lot of fun, but you don’t have to see it in the theater, imo.

Gangster Squad, on the other hand… you know, there was nothing technically wrong with this movie and the rest of you may love it to pieces. It wasn’t bad, it just… didn’t quite reach me. There was something too detached about the film for me to be invested in the characters. The acting was on par across the board, not great but steady, and the story was fine, if unsurprising, but I think the directing fell down somewhere because when a movie doesn’t work on that level, there’s no one else to blame. If it just doesn’t come together in the end, then it’s the person who’s supposed to be tying it in a gorgeous package complete with ribbon who didn’t do their job. Eh. That’s okay. I don’t have to be all a-squee over every movie, I guess. It’s just too bad that this was one of the movies that didn’t do it for me because I love gangster and vigilante movies.

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About Nancy M. Griffis

Author and screenwriter who loves scifi/action/adventure/urban fantasy genres. I have two published novels, Mind Games and Eternal Investigations, as well as a short story published for charity called "Home Fires Burning." All are available through amazon.com and barnesandnobles.com.

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Nancy at the Tim Burton exhibit in L.A.

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