Quick Hit Movie Reviews #4: 'Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit,' 'The Protector 2,' 'Rage' & 'Open Grave'

"Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit" (2014)

Chris Pine takes on the title role of Jack Ryan in this poorly formulated action-thriller. From one ludicrous action sequence to the next, plausibility is thrown out the window as Jack performs one hard to believe rescue after another. In the minor role of Jack’s loving paramour is Keira Knightley, who is wasted in a cliché jaded girlfriend arc, looking in from the outside on Jack’s professional travails.

Seeing Knightley underutilized when the trailer hinted at a meatier role for her is one of the most disappointing aspects of the film. Another major problem plaguing this over-the-top actioner is the sound mixing, which gives the proceedings an exceedingly garbled and hazy vibe. To its credit, it approaches its high tech marveling and cheesy bravado with abandon.  

Rating: 6/10


[Image by Sahamongkolfilm International]

"The Protector 2"

The standards set by an outstanding original film are always difficult to live up to and in the case of “The Protector 2”, this sequel comes nowhere close. Tony Jaa’s highly anticipated comeback, finds the action star struggling to take down villain after villain, in exhausting fight sequences that trend more towards lethargic than energetic. In this struggling sequel, Kham (Jaa) must once again save his beloved elephant from capture.

Instead of handily dealing with his nemeses (as he did in the first film), Kham struggles with each and every adversary. It is a startling descent when you consider the spectacular spectacle the first installment offered to dazzling effect. There is nary a standout sequence in “2”. As one splashy scene attempts to embroil viewers in a motocross-inspired standoff, it only serves to further crush the action under its gears.  

Rating: 5.5/10

[Image by Image Entertainment]

"Rage"

At first glance, Nicolas Cage’s latest is an awkward endeavor. Getting past its obvious surface flaws (low production values, poor editing, and abysmal cinematography), there is an almost redeemable script. “Rage” is an exploration into living by the sword and the self-destructive path that can come from living a retched self-induced past.

Paul Maguire (Cage) is a reformed criminal living a good life until his teenage daughter is kidnapped. Gathering the resources of his former colleagues, he sets out on a quest for justice. While there are many clichés; a desperate wife begging for peace and countless warnings to let go of vengeance, there is also a unique storyline that bucks tradition. There’s no question Cage has made better movies but judging it for what it is, there have been worse.  

Rating: 5.6/10

[Image by Tribeca Film]

"Open Grave"

Waking with amnesia in a grizzly scene, Sharlto Copley’s mystery man attempts to put the pieces together with a fellow group of amnesiacs at a remote house. Together they work to unravel the connections between them as suspicion and paranoia simultaneously take hold. The gruesome violence and disturbing imagery that permeates the film makes it difficult to watch and the characters are not likable enough to make it worthwhile.

The idea that everyone assumes the worst about themselves and their fellow man is a concept that’s unspoken fatalism speaks volumes. As the slow pace unfolds the truth, the anxiety for a payoff grows intolerable, only to have it drag on further. The dilemma it digs isn’t all that complicated and figuring out the explanation isn’t particularly engaging. To Copley's credit, his performance is a redeeming factor for the movie. For those interested, the 2006 film “Unknown” tackled a similar subject with superior results. 

Rating: 5.5/10

[Featured Image by Paramount Pictures]

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