“Asylum” – Person of Interest Review (Season 4, Episode 21)

29 04 2015

POI bannerWhat happens when you take all the story arcs of this Person of Interest season and put them into one episode? Well, you get part 1 of the season 4 finale, “Asylum.” All the crap finally hit the fan tonight, and there’s a ton of material to go over- including the most “oh, snap!” moment from Root so far (haha!).

From the beginning it was obvious this was going to be a crazy ride. Control (always played perfectly by Camryn Manheim) has started her own aggressive investigation into Samaritan’s moles inside the government. She kidnaps a school teacher, and after redecorating the wall with another mole in front of her, starts asking questions. Even though it wasn’t revealed until the end that she was indeed a mole, I was pretty sure that Control doesn’t get people wrong. Next week’s episode was partly set up here with the reveal of a “correction” day (May 6th, the day after the finale), to be carried out by Samaritan. After her prisoner starts getting sassy, Control decides nobody’s got time for that and adds another body to her room. She’s sort of on Team Machine’s side at this point (they did tip her off to Samaritan), but she’s clearly not a “good” character yet. I’d say her chances of dying in the finale are substantial.

The next plot line played out what could be the finale of the Elias vs. Dominic war when both their numbers come up. Reese and Fusco come to “help” Elias (Enrico Colantoni)  by arresting him and getting him out of Dominic’s (Winston Duke) crosshairs but instead get captured and tortured by Dominic and his Brotherhood. Yeah, definitely cringed at that screwdriver part. By far the best part of this sequence had to be when Elias fools Dominic into shooting his own best friend/right hand man because he thinks his Number 2 is a mole. And then, he cheerily reveals that no, there was never a mole, and how does he feel now that he’s also killed his best friend too? Twisted, dark, and one more reason why I love Elias.

Finally, why not throw in a search for Shaw in with Root and Harold at an asylum? It obviously was going to be a trap, but did anyone predict that it would actually lead them to Team Samaritan’s control room? The bombs then started to drop. Shaw had told Greer all about them. Greer and Martine planned to somehow access the Machine by slicing Root’s head open. Root decides she’d rather snap Martine’s neck instead. Good gosh, get a light, because it’s getting dark in here! Root’s killed before, but seeing her do that so quickly after so many encounters was a shock- a good one, because lady Terminator needed to go. And then Samaritan gets interrupted by the freakin’ Machine, and suddenly we have one AI offering itself to another in exchange for Root and Finch’s lives. I love how the camera kept switching perspectives between the two AI’s.

Next week is the season finale, and Nolan has promised us even more deaths. Besides Zoe, basically every main character on the show appeared- Dominic, Harper, Elias, Greer, Martine, and Control all have equal chances of dying. I admit, I’d be really bummed if Elias got kicked, because his arc and character have brought some of the best moments of POI. Heck, I got choked up when his buddy Scarface was blown away. Anyway, it’ll be interesting to see what happens, because it looks like both the gang war and the Samaritan war are coming to a climax. Could they really tie up both stories in one hour? And if so, what’s next? Either way, this was Person of Interest writing at its finest.

Root Finch Season 4

Definitely more hipster then homeless.

Points of Interest:

1. “They stole your spaceman!” Awesome moment with Harold.

2. “Looks like somebody shot your shoulder.” “Yeah, they’re dead now.” – Reese being a BA.

3. Does it make me a bad fan that I really don’t care about the Shaw storyline? In my opinion the show has had more focus without her…(braces for incoming hate).

4. Nice foreshadowing with Root’s game of chicken with The Machine, as Samaritan ultimately does the same thing.

5. I’m ready for the Samaritan story to either end or dramatically shift, but it’ll be a shame if the gang war finishes. It’s been too much fun watching Elias and Dominic try to out-think the other.

Final Score:

POI four half bear





3 Reasons I Miss Midnight Movie Releases

28 04 2015

Well, as any movie fan knows, Marvel is about to take another swim in the ol’ money pool this week with the new The Avengers: Age of Ultron. And, just as I’ve done with other giant movies like The Dark Knight or Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Lucas, I’ll be right there with the rest of the fans on opening night. And, just like any other fan, I’ll find something to complain about. In this case, it’s nothing more than the now commonplace practice of releasing movies an evening early instead of only midnight. Why is this a big deal? Well, if you read the title, you’ll know I’ve got three reasons to rain on the early release’s parade.

Joker and Two-Face

Judge me not, or I’ll ask why you’re being so serious.

1. The Diehard Fans

To some people, people lining up outside a movie theater at 10:30 PM (and who may or may not be in costume) looks weird. I get that. But, imagine you’re so excited for something that you want to watch it as soon as possible, and not only that, but you’ll be surrounded by other fans as crazy as you who think starting a movie at midnight is worth it. You line up, maybe talk to other people dressed as a Slytherin student or Batman villain about their expectations. And then, when the theater’s packed and the movie finally starts, everyone cheers loudly- for a film. But then, once opening scene rolls? Dead silence. Respectful quiet from people who just want to experience the movie the way it’s meant to be. That’s not to say it’s like a morgue the whole time- expect laughter at comedic moments and even applause at the best parts. It’s almost as if you’re at a live play with all the interaction, including (unless you’re Spider-Man 3) applause at the ending credits. Never experienced that before in a theater? Well, you’ve probably never been to the late showing then. Your movie-going world consists of the casual fans.

2. The Casual Fans

If midnight premieres bring out the hardcore fans, 6 o’clock releases bring out the people who wonder when Batman will show up in The Avengers. This is the stereotypical crowd that people love to hate. Screaming babies? Sure, why not bring two! People lighting up the world with their cell phone screens? Check. Throw in that one stain of a human being who successfully stays being loud and obnoxious during the entire show, and you have what I call “the casual crowd.” Instead of a shared experience with your fellow fans, it’s a prime reminder that yes, you do dislike the majority of the human race. The best way to avoid these people is by attending a later showing that only the dedicated will attend.

3. Event Vs. Activity

However, at the end of the night, haven’t you watched the same movie? Yes, but you sure haven’t had the same experience. When movies open at 5:30 on a Thursday night, you’ve watched a movie. When you used to only have a midnight showing, you’ve gone to a premiere. There may be costumes and giveaways, but mostly it’s just a shared celebrational event. And I’m pretty sure those times are gone forever. Are we really going to wait till midnight when everyone else is watching at 5:30? What’s the point? Studios certainly aren’t going to go back to a more honest opening “weekend” at the cost of early profits. I’ll definitely be more ready for work the next morning. At the end of the day, I just hope Hulk’s smashing is loud enough to drown out the crying infants this Thursday evening.





“Terra Incognita” – Person of Interest Review (Season 4, Episode 20)

15 04 2015

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Detective Carter returned to POI tonight to deliver a stellar episode and make all of us fans have a good ugly cry. Seriously, was anyone prepared for those scenes of isolation and regret? “Terra Incognita” has been heavily advertised as being Taraji P. Henson‘s return, and while this might look like a ploy to boost ratings after her recent success on Empire, it’s clear that the writers had a very specific reason to bring Carter back. Her flashbacks made sense, because Reese as “Detective Riley” is trying to solve a case she worked on, but never solved.

As Reese progressed through the case, the scenes shifted seamlessly between his investigation and Carter’s, years before. The effect was well done and gave cohesion between the two timelines. In the end, the perpetrator’s reveal wasn’t much of a payoff, arriving at maybe the midpoint of the episode. Instead, Reese slowly bleeding out and/or freezing to death became the focus. And that’s where things went from good to mind-blowing, as Reese’s ongoing memory of him and Carter on a long-ago stakeout started to meld with the present.

One of this season’s many themes has been John Reese and his intentional isolation from those around him. Sure, he’s worked with them and shared one-liners, but as Carter says during one of many great moments, there’s friends you talk about the weather with, and friends you share life and feelings with. That’s not the exact quote, but my eyes were a little dusty at the time. Yes, John reveals to past/phantom Carter, his isolation came from the loss of someone he loved, but he ultimately reveals that his unwillingness to connect came before Jessica’s death, back to a battlefield where neither side made it out. Jim Caviezel and Taraji were on fire during that scene, and reminded us just how much the show lost when Henson left.

The last few minutes of her and Reese in the car, as he realizes he never opened up to her, and would never be able to, hit hard. He’d only be able to imagine what it would have been like, had he let her in during that stakeout. And then he almost died because he hadn’t opened up to anyone else. Dang, POI. Are we going to see a new side of Reese now, or are all these foreshadowing moments leading up to a very not asked for departure?

Who was in the car at the end coming to Reese? We’re to assume it’s Finch, Fusco or Root (maybe all of them, road-tripping). I doubt it’s Samaritan agents- there’s no reason they would be following “Detective Riley.” Maybe we’ll never know which member exactly saved John. That’s okay, because it wasn’t the point. The last line, “we made it,” then realizing that no, she didn’t, and he never had that conversation with her, hit hard. This is the Person of Interest that we stick around for. Now go share your feelings with someone.

person of Interest Detective Carter

“And that’s how I got involved with a hip-hop empire!”

Points of Interest:

1. Fusco can’t catch a break. Bring delicious hot dogs for your stakeout friends; get nothing but hate. Root, on the other hand, can be a runaway bride with a giant burrito, and everyone loves her.

2. We need more near-death experiences, just so we can have more dead characters reappear.

3. I really hope this isn’t the last we see of new Carter material. It’s still a shame that the show lost her. Maybe they’ll have something whenever the show nears its final few episodes.

4. So. Many. Feels. Seriously, I couldn’t ask for a better range of emotions from any show than I got from this hour. Period.

5. Nolan called this episode “the calm before the storm” in an interview. After a week’s break (ugh) we’re going to most likely get a crazy two-part season finale, and if it’s like any of the others, some characters won’t make it through.

Final Score:

POI five bear





“Search & Destroy” – Person of Interest Review (Season 4, Episode 19)

8 04 2015

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“A CEO’s Worst Day Ever” would have been an appropriate title for this week’s Person of Interest. Seriously, imagine what the president of Sony went through with losing millions on a cancelled movie release and security breach, and then add a few more layers of suck. At least they didn’t lose (SPOILERS) their marriage, house, and ultimately life. Yep, “Search & Destroy” turned out to be a prophetic name for this hour, as Samaritan hunted Khan (Aasif Mandvi), a CEO of a security company for asking the wrong questions. First though, the AI systematically ruins his life in front of the whole world through leaks and hacking. Don’t worry though, Team Machine is on the job- no wait he ran off at the end and got himself killed by Greer. Finch and Reese haven’t caught a break lately, have they?

A lot of pieces were set in motion over the hour. Martine reappeared for the first time after (not really) taking out Shaw. Old Man Greer decides now’s as good a time as any to sick his crazy chick on the Machine’s crazier chick (more on that below), and Zoe Morgan (!) returned to the team after getting hired for damage control on Khan’s company. Not to repeat myself too much from earlier reviews, but gosh it’s fun to watch her and Reese interact inside their odd relationship. Their quick exchange about his new obsession with red-headed therapists was entertaining yet darkly foreboding. “You know these things end, John.” Are we being set up for another betrayal/death/both? Even Batman Reese can only take so much drama.

Easily my favorite part of the episode was what I’d like to call the family dinner scene. Finch, Root, Reese making awkward conversation while eating Chinese takeout with an unconscious POI was gold, not to mention their bored facial expressions to his terrified panic. It was a fun scene in a mostly serious hour.

The Root vs. Martine fight was an unexpected treat even if it didn’t come close to the coolness of their hotel lobby shootout. It was a little convenient for them both to be out of bullets, but it gave them a chance to fight without their AI’s aiming for them. The choreography worked well, yet I feel as if they could have gone a bit grittier and darker since it was a more intimate fight. I mean, Root was totally choking Martine to death. There should have been more emotion there.

All around, this was a solid Person of Interest episode that focused on an interesting number while advancing the Samaritan plot towards the finale. Samaritan actually on the path to discover The Machine’s location effectively raised the stakes, and don’t forget about the bio-chips storyline being picked up again. Will we see all Samaritan operatives linked up to the AI like robots? Will Shaw return a season (or two if you believe interviews) later as a completely brainwashed Samaritan asset?

Amy Acker Jim Caviezel POI

Just don’t hit any bumps, or it’ll go all ruh-roh.

Points of Interest:

1. “I didn’t know this was Zoe Morgan bad.” – I like how they already knew about her.

2. “Shotgun.” – A terrible pun that somehow sounded BA.

3. Favorite quote- “Wanna blow his mind and tell him there’s two AI’s?!” – Root

4. I think it’s safe to say the Dominic vs. Elias war will transfer over to season 5. That’s probably a good thing, since there’s a good bit of ground to cover still with Samaritan if we’re going to get any sort of resolution.

5. How about that preview? What the crap is going on with Carter’s supposedly resolved murder case? Who is Reese meeting? Would Taraji P. Henson appear as Carter in a flashback, or is this the season’s biggest twist yet?

Final Score:

POI four bear





Run All Night- Review

3 04 2015

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Run All Night is one of those films Liam Neeson fans will flock to, but maybe not other moviegoers. That’s a doggone shame, because it has a surprising bit of emotional weight, and is better than some of his latest offerings (looking at you, Taken 2 and 3). Speaking of which, no it’s not Taken 4, all you haters. Neeson plays a bit against his everyman hero type this time as Jimmy Conlon. Honestly it’s almost hard to root for him at times. Jimmy is a guy who’s hasn’t just become an alcoholic or lost touch with his family- he straight up murdered innocent people for his  “best friend” Shawn Maguire (Ed Harris) for years, and now he’s a pathetic shell of a man, wavering between apathy and regret. So, not quite an ex-CIA family man. Along the way, he delivers the “best” worst party Santa ever, but that’s another story.

 

Joel Kinnaman Conlon

At least they haven’t taken his son.

 

It’s little layers like this that help the film rise above the average action flick. Ed Harris and Liam Neeson work well together, helping sell their (soured) friendship. They’ve been through bad and good together (mostly bad), and even though it’s obvious the relationship has been a bad influence on Jimmy (and maybe even Shawn), they cling to some sense of loyalty even to the end. The conversations they have about having to kill the other strike an odd tone, and highlight how lost the two criminals are in their own actions.

 

Shawn Maguire

The friend your mother warned you about.

 

So blah blah story, how is the action, you impatiently inquire? Well, let’s just say that once the plot gets moving Liam starts Neeson-ing everything and everyone and doesn’t let up. There are several standout moments, including close combat inside a burning inferno, and a slick slow-motion rifle scene that reminded me of Non-Stop‘s crazy climax. Neeson is still fun to watch as an action hero, and Joel Kinnaman fills in nicely as his son Mike Conlon. While Mike coaches boxing, ultimately his character ends up watching or running while Papa Jimmy clears the room. Rapper “Common” brings a formidable opponent as hitman Andrew Price. My only issue with his character is the ridiculous laser that remains on and brightly pointing the entire movie. What’s with that? I get it’s there to look cool in the fog and darkness, but would an elite hit man really give his presence away like that? It’s not even a sniper, just a sidearm.

Common Rapper Andrew Price

Sweet laser tag arena.

 

Finally, amidst the chaotic firefights and chases, we get a wonderful introspective moment where the weight of his choices (and life) finally hits Jimmy. It’s not played off in a corny way- instead it becomes a surprisingly emotional moment that stuck with me a little longer after the credits. The ending may or may not be surprising to the audience, but let’s say there’s more to think about than a typical guilty pleasure Neeson action flick. Don’t take my word for it- check this one out for yourselves. Or else, Jimmy will come for you.