Monday, August 24, 2015
Rapid Reviews: Straight Outta Compton and No Escape
By now you've probably heard plenty about F. Gary Gray's gangster rap biopic, Straight Outta Compton. I'm here to reaffirm that everything you've heard about the film is correct, Straight Outta Compton is a well executed and massively engaging movie experience.
Although the frequent appearances of corrupt and irrational police officers at the onset of the film seems oddly forced, Gray quickly devotes the focus to his central characters and never looks back. My highest regards go out to the casting director who did a phenomenal job of finding exceptional raw acting talent. O'Shea Jackson Jr., Corey Hawkins and Jason Mitchell are a trio of unknowns who develop compelling characters in the form of rap super-group NWA's own Ice Cube, Dr. Dre and Eazy-E, respectively.
And despite Straight Outta Compton's eye-popping two and a half hour running time, the film possesses excellent pacing and stays loyal to the facts surrounding the rise and fall of NWA and its key members. Considering the group's dissatisfaction with censorship, there is tons of vulgarity (as expected) splashed all throughout the entire affair. However, whether or not you're a fan of rap and hip hop, F Gary Gray and his versatile cast of up and coming actors transform Straight Outta Compton into a worthwhile piece of cinema.
Stars: 3 stars out of 4
If you've seen the (above) trailer for the upcoming thriller, No Escape, then you've probably scratched your head at the casting choice of funnyman Owen Wilson. In all fairness to Wilson, he does a reasonable job in the film's leading role and never feels like a distraction. In fact, he's a bright spot by comparison to the many shortcomings in John Erick Dowdle's No Escape.
After relocating his family to an unnamed southeastern Asian country for financial reasons, Jack (played by Wilson) tries to make the best of his new situation. Yet, to the family's unfortunate surprise, an uprising of local militia result in a coup of the government and force Jack to find any means necessary to survive and protect his family.
Never before have "conveniences" played such a pivotal role in a film. Since there's absolutely zero character development and plot to latch on to, No Escape devotes itself solely to the art of suspense. Thankfully, Dowdle achieves success in this realm through the use of conveniently timed occurences, but building a tense atmosphere is just about the only aspect of No Escape that shines. As I previously stated, a paper-thin script gives Wilson and his usually terrific co-star, Lake Bell, absolutely nothing to work with and the film suffers immensely. Coupling that brutal fact with a cartoon-ish performance from Pierce Brosnan and No Escape comes and goes as a run of the mill thriller that fails to separate itself from the pack.
Stars: 2 stars out of 4