Are you an Outlaw or a Regulator? Christian Gudegast’s Den of Thieves (2018) pushes the viewers to choose. The movie premiered at Regal Cinemas of South Beach with noteworthy appearances from stars O’Shea Jackson Jr., Pablo Schreiber, Curtis “50 cent” Jackson, and Gerard Butler. Before the picture began, Butler, who also produced the film, discussed the feature’s six-year filmmaking process. Comedically, 50 cent continued with explaining their two weeks of military and police tactical training. As the laughter and applause slowly diminished simultaneously with the lights, the widescreen lit with the viewer promptly thrown right into the action.
As contradictory as it sounds, it’s difficult to make a film bad on purpose for the sake of parody. On top of needing to be cheesy and ironically bad, such a film needs to be genuinely well-made and well-written to boot. Films such as Airplane! (1981), This is Spinal Tap (1984), and Hot Fuzz (2007) are prime examples of a movie that’s made hokey and awkward on purpose. Similar to these films, Scott Sanders’ Black Dynamite (2009) is a parody of both action movies and the Blaxploitation films of the 1970s, which is not only completely self-aware in its ridiculousness, but has the quality to back it up.
There are times you see a trailer for a film like Martin Cambell’s The Foreigner (2017), and feel you’ve seen it once before. However, seeing such a film being produced feels like a return to normalcy in a cinematic market that attempts to pump out more blockbusters than low-budget films. Some of us here at the Film Studies Program, myself included, were lucky enough to watch The Foreigner a day in advance, and with the film’s star Jackie Chan making an appearance to discuss the film. After confirming Rush Hour 4, Jackie Chan discussed how he produced the film after watching the Taken series with Liam Neeson, wishing he could’ve been in those movies. Jackie Chan also discussed his hope that the role he plays in this film would show that he’s more than just a great martial artist and stuntman, but also a good actor.
Few films ‘based on true events’ feel as ridiculously over the top as Doug Liman’s American Made (2017). Based on the life of pilot Barry Seal (Tom Cruise), the film follows Barry as he becomes a CIA informant taking photographs of communist rebellion groups in Central America, starts smuggling cocaine for Pablo Escobar’s Medellín Cartel, and subsequently smuggles Russian guns to the Nicaraguan Contras on behalf of the United States Government. Let’s not forget that most of Barry’s bizarre smuggling career took place during then-President Ronald Reagan’s infamous “War on Drugs”. It sounds too comical to be true, and yet the story told by the film is closer to fact than it is to fiction.
In an industry abounding with repetitive sequels and generic copies, Edgar Wright’s summer 2017 film, Baby Driver, manages to stand out due to its unexpected premise and positive hype. A young driver, named Baby, constantly listens to music to drown out the noise caused by his hearing impairment. He works for a crime boss named Doc, played by Kevin Spacey, as a getaway driver during criminal heists to pay off a debt, but then he falls in love with a girl who could change everything. Sometimes, you just need a film to simply keep you entertained for about an hour and a half and Baby Driver does just that.