‘Deadly Suspects - 5 Movie Collection’
(Brad Pitt, Harrison Ford, Halle Berry, Robert Downey, Jr., Bruce Willis, John Travolta, Billy Bob Thornton, et al / 2-Disc DVD / NR / 2016 / Mill Creek Entertainment)
Overview: Everyone’s a suspect in this star-studded collection of modern day thrillers.
DVD Verdict: The Devil's Own (1997) - Starring: Harrison Ford, Brad Pitt, Margaret Colin, Rubén Blades - After seeing British soldiers gun down his father as a child, Frankie McGuire (Brad Pitt) joins the Irish Republican Army, determined to avenge his father's death, and sails to America to buy weapons from an underground arms dealer. Going by the alias of Rory Devaney, Frankie moves into the home of cop Tom O'Meara (Harrison Ford), who, when he learns of Rory's agenda, must choose between his sympathy for a troubled man and his desire for justice.
‘The Devil's Own’ is one of Hollywood's periodical ventures into the murky world of Irish politics. Harrison Ford, who stars here, had five years earlier starred in another such film, "Patriot Games". There is, however, a difference between the two films. "Patriot Games" is an action thriller which simply uses the Northern Ireland situation to provide a motivation for the bad guys; they happen to be Irish Republican terrorists, but they could equally well have been Islamic militants, or Russian spies, or Mafia hit-men, and it would have made little difference to the film. ‘The Devil's Own‘, by contrast, aims for something more ambitious.
Lonely Hearts (2006) - Starring: John Travolta, James Gandolfini, Jared Leto, Salma Hayek - Todd Robinson's ‘Lonely Hearts’ features John Travolta and James Gandolfini as Elmer C. Robinson and Charles Hildebrandt, a pair of homicide detectives who are on the trail of lovers on a crime spree. The evil duo of Ray Fernandez (Jared Leto) and Martha Beck (Salma Hayek) take advantage of elderly widows, stealing as much money as they can after gaining the victim's confidence, and then murdering their mark. Robinson becomes drawn into the case too deeply in order to help him confront his feelings, as his wife has recently killed herself. The story is based on the real life Lonely Hearts killers of the late '40s, the infamous couple whom the director's grandfather played a large part in bringing to justice.
The performances of all the principal players - particularly Travolta, Gandolfini, Dern, Leto and Hayek - are amazing, brilliant, utterly believable, etc. The set and costume design, and cinematography are by themselves worthy of at least Academy Award nominations. And the story (based on real events, although I'm sure much was fictionalized), is both riveting and repulsive.
Salma Hayek stands out particularly for her portrayal of the seductive, depraved and sadistic Martha Beck, one half of the brutal "Lonely Hearts" killers. She should come with her own tag line, "If looks could kill..." Hayek's interpretation of this character is the polar opposite of Charlize Theron's in "Monster," but no less effective.
One False Move (1992) - Starring: Bill Paxton, Billy Bob Thornton, Cynda Williams, Michael Beach - Prison buddies Ray and Pluto, and Ray's girlfriend Fantasia--all from L.A., commit a series of executions in Los Angeles before heading east to unload a cache of stolen cocaine--only only to be apprehended by a gung-ho sheriff in Louisiana.
Billy Bob Thornton (A Simple Plan, Sling Blade, Astronaut Farmer), Arkansas born himself, co-wrote and starred in this film and really pulls off the psycho robber with such perfection that I really cannot understand how a supposedly intelligent guy like "Pluto" (Michael Beach - Short Cuts, "Third Watch," "ER") could hook up with him, especially since they spent two years in jail after the last job. Joining the duo, was Cynda Williams (Mo' Better Blues) in her second film, as Fantasia/Lila. She did a super job.
Perfect Stranger (2006) - Staring: Halle Berry, Bruce Willis - When her friend's affair with married ad exec Harrison Hill ends in the woman's murder, investigative reporter Rowena Price vows to bring the killer to justice. Suspecting Hill of the crime, she goes undercover by posing as two highly alluring women. Engaging in a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse, both Rowena and Hill begin to realize things may not be what they seem.
Sure, it's not what one might expect from an Oscar winning actress but still, not that bad! People should really give this movie a break, I have seen much, much worse over the last 18 months. This movie is just a nice easy to watch movie. Man, if you're looking for a real bad thriller that tries to be sexy try to watch 'Basic Instinct 2' - and I say try, because that movie is truly THAT bad!
True Believer (1989) - Starring: James Woods, Robert Downey Jr. - The killing. The conviction. The cover-up. James Woods is about to go up against corruption and conspiracy at the highest levels of New York City law enforcement in the action-packed courtroom drama, True Believer. Woods is spellbinding as Eddie Dodd, once an acclaimed civil rights attorney of the '60s, now an embittered cynic who makes a living defending drug-dealing low-lifes. Dodd's passion for justice is rekindled when an idealistic young associate (Robert Downey, Jr.) urges him to re-open an eight-year-old murder case involving a young prisoner serving life in Sing Sing for a gang initiation killing.
This courtroom thriller has a well-crafted pace that keeps you tied to your seat, the kind of acting from James Woods that is hard to find nowadays, and Robert Downey Jr also dons the recently-graduated idealistic law student to a tee. Indeed, the film is reminiscent of a John Grisham novel. Margaret Colin as Kitty Greer is also great. In fact, every actor in this flick does a better-than-average role. Lacking in cheesiness, having the proper pace, the kind of twists that make it just a little less than predictable, and good acting plus a nice mix of occasional black-and-white flashbacks with the present and an original score by Brad Fiedel (Terminator, Terminator: 2) that fits the pace perfectly make for a movie that is clearly lacking in recognition. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.