Mitch Rapp and his girlfriend are on vacation in Basque, Spain, when a radical Islamist jihadist cell lands on the beach and begins to attack the civilians with assault rifles. Amid the carnage, Rapp frantically attempts to find his girlfriend, but is unable to prevent her death at the hands of the terrorists.
Eighteen months later, Rapp, now consumed by his desire for vengeance, frequents an internet message board where the terrorist responsible for his girlfriend’s murder quizzes Rapp on aspects of Islam and jihad. Having secured an invitation to meet him face to face, Rapp prepares to take his vengeance on the man responsible for his girlfriend’s death, but before he can kill the terrorist, the cell is suddenly ambushed by U.S. Special Forces. Upset over the perception that he has been denied his vengeance, Rapp repeatedly stabs the terrorist he was after before being dragged out by the U.S. forces. In a CIA safe house Rapp undergoes 30 days of debriefing before being offered a chance by CIA Deputy Director Irene Kennedy to join a black operations unit codenamed Orion. Its head, Stan Hurley, is a former U.S. Navy SEAL and a Cold War veteran who trains Rapp and the other potential recruits in asymmetrical warfare.
Elsewhere, word comes down through intelligence channels that weapons grade nuclear material has gone missing from a decommissioned Russian nuclear facility. The material in question appears to be heading to Iranian hardliners, who are upset with the Iranian government’s recent nuclear deal with the U.S. While verifying the sale of the nuclear material in Poland the plutonium is intercepted by a third party, who eliminates the sellers before vanishing into the crowd. In Virginia, Hurley sees news reports about the incident in Poland and tentatively ID’s the perpetrator as a former Navy SEAL and Orion operative believed to have been killed in action and now going by the codename “Ghost”. Hurley’s team is sent into Turkey to intercept the buyer “Ghost” is working for.
In Istanbul, Hurley’s team is made, and the attempted intercept of the trigger device fails. Rapp pursues the buyer to his apartment, and after a protracted fight kills the man and retrieves his laptop. The information leads the team to Rome, where Orion operatives ID a nuclear physicist needed to craft the nuclear material into a functional nuclear weapon. While in Rome, Rapp’s female companion Annika accidentally lets the name “Ghost” slip despite the fact that Rapp had not given her that name, leading Rapp to correctly ID the woman as a foreign intelligence agent. After a confrontation and her subsequent capture, she explains that she is working for the mainstream Iranian faction which is attempting to stop the hardliners from acquiring nuclear material, which Iran believes is to be used against Israel to start a war. During a meeting between Hurley and an Iranian contact to discuss Annika and the nuclear material, who happens to be Annika’s uncle, Hurley is ambushed by “Ghost”, who kills Hurley’s contact and captures Hurley.
At the CIA safe house in Rome, Annika is being moved under guard by two Mossad agents when Rapp intercepts the car and frees her. Working together, both locate the subterranean headquarters “Ghost” is using to build the nuclear device. After infiltrating the tunnels, Rapp locates and frees a badly injured Hurley, however Annika is captured by “Ghost” and subsequently killed before “Ghost” escapes onto a boat with the nuke. Based on an earlier conversation, Hurley deduces that “Ghost” intends to make a kamikaze attack against the U.S. Navy’s Sixth Fleet. Rapp chases after “Ghost’s” boat, while the Sixth Fleet, alerted to the impending nuclear attack through CIA channels, assumes battle formation and nuclear attack protocol.
Aboard “Ghost’s” boat, Rapp and “Ghost” engage in hand-to-hand combat for control of the boat and the nuclear weapon. After a grueling fight, Rapp gains the upper hand and kills “Ghost” with a knife attack to the throat. Rapp attempts to divert the boat away from the Sixth Fleet to shield the ships from the blast, however after a conversation with Hurley, he instead jettisons the nuclear weapon into the sea before escaping the boat aboard a U.S. Navy helicopter. Seconds later the device detonates, creating a massive sink hole and subsequent tidal wave that inundates the Sixth Fleet vessels, however the underwater detonation prevents the heat of the blast from reaching the ships. Having successfully ridden out the blast and shockwaves, the Sixth Fleet ships initiate nuclear decontamination procedures.
In the aftermath of the blast, Hurley is returned to the U.S. to undergo treatment for his injuries. While watching news reports that indicate that the Iranian hardliners will win the presidential election, Hurley observes that Rapp is on vacation. In Dubai, the hardliner candidate and his escorts enter an elevator in which Rapp is already present, and as the doors close, Rapp is observed smiling.
In My Humble Opinion: Halt and Catch Fire being renewed for a second season may be the best news the AMC network has had for a while. Yeah you read that right, I’m more excited about a Season Two of Halt and Catch Fire than I am about the news of a Walking Dead spin-off, because frankly…Halt and Catch Fire is a much better show. Now, before you go all crazy Rick Grimes on me, I will say, The Walking Dead is a good show okay, but if you haven’t checked out Halt and Catch Fire yet, Alt+Tab / switch screens and make it a point to do so. I may be partial because the show takes place during the PC boom of the 80’s, a decade near and dear to my heart but there are plenty of other reasons as well. The writing is great, the characters are complicated, and the pace (yes I mean both the speed of the show and the lead actor Lee Pace) are just spot on. In fact, I will say this here and now, Lee Pace’s Joe MacMillan could easily fill the void once filled by Jon Hamm’s Don Draper. Both characters could sell ice to Eskimos, and have mysterious backgrounds that capture the viewer’s interest from the get go. Hmmmmm, Joe ‘Mac’Millan…little nod to Mac computers? Anyway, in addition to the work by Lee Pace, the rest of the cast turns in superb performances as well. Mackenzie Davis as the young protegé/rebel Cameron Howe can’t decide whether she wants to buy into the system or maintain her counter-culture mentality (though it looks by the season finale she’s definitely leaning towards the latter). Her love/work relationship with Joe MacMillan was a focal point not only her character for in Season One but MacMillan’s as well. Two other fascinating characters are those played by Scoot McNairy and Kerry Bishe. McNairy and Bishe play married couple Gordon and Donna Clark who both realize that they’ve grown up and have responsibilities but long for the days when they were young, adventurous, and the world was theirs for the taking. Side Note: McNairy and Bishe also played a married couple in the film Argo…there go impress your friends. While you’re at it, tell your friends to check out Halt and Catch Fire!
In My Humble Opinion: Dredd, starring Karl Urban was a violent, gritty adaptation that captured the essence of the comic book character. As always, I will be up front and honest and say that I didn’t read much Judge Dredd, but was turned onto the character by the god awful movie starring Sylvester Stallone. The movie was horrible, but the concept was intriguing. Thank goodness my good friend Travis Becker was a Judge Dredd fan and assured me that the movie was so far off the mark it wasn’t funny. This led to many conversations between the two of us and lots of research online with regards to the character.
Once the movie Dredd was announced I was pretty stoked to see what it would be all about. When I first I heard the movie would predominantly take place in one building, a la Die Hard, I was a little disheartened. I wasn’t sure how the movie would be able to keep the suspense going all while taking place in one building. Then of course I remembered that the buildings in Mega City One were referred to as “blocks” and were immense structures spanning an entire city block…not to mention 200 stories high. First viewing I was somewhat split, but upon watching it a second time I really gained an appreciation for it. Karl Urban seemed to have Dredd down to a T, not to mention he had this perfect chin quality that allowed him to fill the characters helmet perfectly lol. Another performance you need to be on the look out for is Ma-Ma played by Lena Headey. If you think she’s bad ass in HBO’s Game of Thrones, you’ll be blown away by her performance in this movie.
The movie was violent sure, but it also had some great cinematic scenes (Ma-Ma being forced to inhale the drug Slo-Mo towards the end of the film springs to mind) The film unfortunately wasn’t a strong performer at the box office, but has found an audience on Home Video and is now being labeled a “cult film.” Despite the underwhelming box office results, Dredd received very favorable reviews and currently sits at 78% on Rotten Tomatoes. Talks of a sequel have been going on since the films release in Sept. 2012 but no final decision has been made as of yet. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that the word of mouth and strong following the film has received since being released on DVD / Home Video will garner another installment. If for anything else, because Karl Urban’s chin is just too perfect to be denied another outing as Judge Dredd!
Read More At: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dredd
Travis Becker offers up his Humble Opinion.
Saturday April 5, 2014, legendary San Diego band Rocket from the Crypt wrapped up the east coast dates of their reunion tour in Washington DC in front of a capacity crowd of about 700 fans at Black Cat in Washington DC’s U Street neighborhood. While this may not really qualify as a pop culture event in the broadest sense, Sean and I were in attendance, so here are a few of my humble opinions about how it went down.
Rocket from the Crypt certainly isn’t a household name musically. Formed in the early 90’s, the band released a prolific output of music, much of it on limited edition vinyl singles released on many different independent labels. They almost broke through in the mid-90’s with a pair of releases on Interscope Records (Scream, Dracula, Scream and RFTC), but it was not to be and the band continued on in obscurity until 2005 when they disbanded to allow Speedo, ND, Petey X, Apollo 9, JC 2000 and Ruby Mars to pursue other projects. The band’s influence, however, never really diminished among those in the know. Eventually, the band reunited for an appearance on the children’s television show, Yo Gabba Gabba, a show on which band singer, guitarist and found John “Speedo” Reis had previously appeared as a character known as, “The Swami” . A few dates in Europe followed and then, to the joy of their legion of devoted fans, a tour of the U.S.
Personally, I discovered Rocket from the Crypt around 1996. I was working at a music store while attending college and in one shipment of cut-out product (CD’s discontinued by record labels that are then sold to retail stores at a discount to be sold in bargain bins and such), I found a CD with a gnarly-looking scorpion on the front. I hadn’t heard of the band, but the cover was enough for me. As soon as I played Scream, Dracula, Scream for the first time I was hooked. The power and density of the sound was like nothing I had ever heard. It was a wall of guitars, drums and to my great surprise, even horns. It wasn’t long before I owned all of their records I could find and even had a tattoo of their logo done, my first tattoo experience. The one thing that continued to elude me, however, was the live power of Rocket from the Crypt, and when they disbanded in 2005, I just assumed that seeing them in concert was a dream I would have to put away forever. Until one fateful date last December, that was, when I saw the tour dates for the East Coast come through on an Internet presale. I didn’t hesitate at all, even though the show was a couple of hours away in Washington, I knew I was going, no matter what.
Saturday’s performance did not disappoint the eighteen years’ worth of lofty expectations I had built up. The band hit the stage following a short performance by opener Dan Sartain, an entertaining Rockabilly and Blues singer who recalled Dick Dale, Chuck Berry and the Ramones in equal measure through his set. Resplendent in matching black and white outfits, Rocket from the Crypt wasted no time, launching immediately into a group of songs from their 1995 EP, the State of the Art is on Fire. They segued into many of their better known songs from Circa: Now! right up through their most recent studio offering, Live from Camp X-Ray. Highlights for me included the desperate sounding Young Livers, and the show closer, Glazed, which I half expected them to jam out and extend, but which worked just as well in the tight arrangement they went with. The band played like the seasoned vets they are and the in-house sound was spot-on, but there was a loose, fun feeling throughout. Adding to this was Speedo’s between song banter, which had me cracking up all night.
I hadn’t been to Black Cat in years, and the neighborhood has certainly grown up in the time I’ve been gone. The lonely Domino’s Pizza I remembered was gone, replaced by a Trader Joe’s and at least a dozen restaurants that looked out of my price range and dress code. Perhaps the only disappointment for me was the DC crowd which seemed fairly sedate for the joyous revival happening in their midst. This is, of course, with the exception for the one guy in front of Sean and I for the first few songs who was either the most enthusiastic air-guitar player I have ever witnessed or was having some kind of seizure. All things taken together, in my humble opinion, a great time was had by all, and in Speedo’s words, “Everybody say yeah! Alright, the concert was a success!” Hopefully this little reunion was successful enough to keep Rocket from the Crypt around for a few more tours and dare I dream – a new record down the road sometime.
By: Joshua Fargason
A Captain America: The Winter Soldier review written by our very own Captain America, Captain Joshua Fargason
Josh’s Humble Opinion: Like many, I have eagerly anticipated Marvel Studios latest release, Captain America: The Winter Soldier (CA:TWS). I’ve been a diehard fan of Captain America since childhood. Having seen the movie, I have to say Marvel has not let its audience down in the least. The latest installment of their “megafranchise” continues to build the momentum built up thus far by its predecessors.
Bottom line up front for those who are wondering: there are two post-credits scenes. If that’s all you were wondering before heading off to the movie, there you go. You’re set. Enjoy!
For those who want to know more, here we go:
I could go on at length about Evans, Johansson, Jackson, & Redford, but for the sake of brevity I will just say they all turned in excellent performances worthy of their caliber. Casting director Sarah Finn and her team did their job well with the entire cast. Standouts, for me, were two new faces in the franchise. Anthony Mackie delivers a very real and human portrayal of a military veteran who continues to serve, both as a Veteran’s Affairs counselor and later as The Falcon. Emily VanCamp’s part, though small in scope for this movie, sets her up for future work in the Marvel universe and she is also involved in what I deem the most heroic moment of the movie. More on that later. One humorous note: the stand-in for Chris Evans is named Jordan Coulson. Just can’t keep a Coulson out of a Marvel movie, I guess.
Director of Photography Trent Opaloch (District 9, Elysium) and Production Designer Peter Wenham (Blood Diamond, The Queen) and their respective teams deserve mention for excellent work that creates a believable world for this conspiracy thriller. Given that there are fantastical elements to the story, it still looks and feels realistic. I suspect re-watching this in the future will yield some pleasant surprises; I missed some dialogue because I was laughing so hard at an unexpected Pulp Fiction reference planted in a scene (see if you notice it toward the end).
The story itself keeps a great tempo. The production team and editor Jeffrey Ford (The Avengers, Iron Man 3) give enough time for great human moments between Cap & the rest of the cast that establish these characters as people without slowing down the pace. One can tell that the characters give a damn about each other throughout. The various scenes between Captain America and the Black Widow set up the multiple levels of tension in that relationship very well. Evans and Johansson’s chemistry create belief that the two characters have worked together and gotten comfortable around each other since we saw them last. Scenes between Cap and Sam Wilson, meanwhile, have a very humanizing effect on the perception of Steve Rogers: he sees himself as just another veteran and relates to other vets as brothers-in-arms, there isn’t any of the celebrity attitude one finds in Tony Stark. Meanwhile, the bits of character we get from Bucky Barnes really leave me wanting more. While great credit goes to the actors, I feel the directing team and editor deserve accolades for how well they’ve handled these relationships.
I feel great credit for this movie’s excellence goes to fight coordinator Chris Carnel (American History X, Iron Man) and the directing team of Anthony and Joe Russo (You, Me, & Dupree; Community). The fights and action sequences in CA:TWS are BRUTAL. The chief critique I have with hand to hand sequences in movies like the Bourne series is that while they are impressive, they are too fast in action and in the way they are shot to actually follow the story of what is happening in the fight. Not so in this movie: the fight sequences are a completely essential element of character and story development in CA:TWS. One sees from the very beginning just how hard Captain America hits with fist and shield which sets up just how dangerous the Winter Soldier is when they fight. The fights also set up that while Cap is a super-human, he’s still a mortal man who feels a punch and is not bullet proof. There is real danger for the heroes.
Without giving away too much of the story, I do want to mention my favorite moment of the movie had nothing to do with the “supers.” Right at the climax of the story, we see “normal” SHIELD techs & agents (to include Emily VanCamp’s Sharon Carter) faced with having to decide for themselves whether or not to do the right thing in the face of death. One particular technician becomes the biggest hero in the movie in my opinion because he lacks any sort of superpower in a superhero movie yet still decides to risk death for what’s right. This also leads to my chief critique of the movie: after that point the movie is full of regular humans fighting their hardest to do what’s right and sacrificing for it, but in the end none of them are effectual. It still comes down to just the superheroes. I think having those regular humans make more of a difference makes a greater testament to real heroism. That’s just me, though, and this is a movie about a superhero.
Having said that, CA:TWS is an excellent movie full of some very human moments, great action sequences, and heroism on many scales. It certainly changes the Marvel movie universe on a fundamental level. I believe it is a must-see for anyone interested in film for both the handling of the storytelling and to keep track of how this “megafranchise” beast that is likely to become the new paradigm works out. I’m anxious for the next installment.
In My Humble Opinion: Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is a ridiculous departure from the Jack Ryan character we’ve become familiar with. If you’re unfamiliar with the character Jack Ryan, he is a character featured in Tom Clancy’s novels as well as their big screen adaptations. If you haven’t seen the films surely you’ve at least heard of: The Hunt for Red October, Patriot Games, Clear and Present Danger, and The Sum of All Fears. Now since I haven’t read the novels I will be referring to the movies because those are what I’m what familiar with. Ryan is a CIA analyst (though I believe he’s retired in Patriot Games) who finds himself thrust into dangerous situations where he’s forced to operate outside of his comfort zone in order to save the day. He’s kind of an everyday man dealing with situations he’s not used to and is generally unprepared for. To me, that’s what always made him a little bit more relatable and realistic knowing he was in over his head; that was always the appeal of his character. This all led me to ask the question after seeing trailers for Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, “Why?”
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit breaks formula and features Ryan as a CIA field agent who must travel to Moscow to prevent an imminent terrorist attack. If you’ve seen the trailers perhaps you agree that the premise looks more James Bond / Jason Bourne than Jack Ryan. It’s just too much of a departure in my opinion. I remember with all the other movies that preceded Shadow Recruit there was a running gag in which Ryan had to remind anyone and everyone around him that he was just an analyst. Alec Baldwin (my favorite Jack Ryan) put it best in The Hunt for Red October when he said, “I’m not field personal, I’m just an analyst. I’m not an agent, I just write books for the CIA.”
So back to my question of why? Why reboot a character that still has plenty of source material to pull from? There are still five other Tom Clancy novels featuring Jack Ryan that haven’t been made into feature films. Why not adapt those and stay true to the character? Why not just start fresh with a brand new character instead of trying to cash in on the name Jack Ryan? I mean if Hollywood really wants to bring a literary figure into the action film genre why not tap into the character Mitch Rapp? Mitch Rapp is a character featured in the novels written by Vince Flynn (awesome spy name by itself right?) that IS a spec ops, black bag, CIA spy type that travels the globe preventing terrorist attacks, keeping America safe, etc. Personally, I think he’d be the perfect character to be brought to the big screen. Sorry for the rant, just doesn’t make sense to me.
THIS POST IS DEDICATED TO TOM CLANCY AND VINCE FLYNN
TOM CLANCY PASSED AWAY ON OCTOBER 1, 2013 FROM UNDISCLOSED ILLNESSES. HE WAS 66 AT THE TIME.
VINCE FLYNN PASSED AWAY JUNE 9, 2013 AFTER A THREE YEAR BATTLE WITH PROSTATE CANCER. HE WAS 47 AT THE TIME.
In My Humble Opinion: Phil Robertson being suspended from his show Duck Dynasty on A&E is an unwarranted punishment illustrating censorship at its worst. Phil was recently interviewed by GQ magazine (still trying to figure that one out honestly) and during the interview he made derogatory remarks about homosexuality and made it very clear that he does not support it at all. Can we all please remember that Phil Robertson is a REALITY show personality and will, heaven forbid, offer up his opinion on certain topics from time to time?
Let me be clear! Do I agree with his views on homosexuality or support his comments? Not at all! Especially comparing homosexuality to bestiality! However, what I do support or believe in (though I’m quickly being proven wrong) is that we live in a society wherein people are allowed to express their views and speak freely about their beliefs without the fear of persecution. I’d also like to point out that while I disagree with his suspension, I understand that Phil is a reality show personality and that A&E has the right to dole out whatever punishment it deems necessary.
However, in reality, there are individuals that support homosexuality and those that oppose it. For those of us that have accepted homosexuality as a life choice, we have the right to express ourselves freely and openly about our beliefs. Do our beliefs and views on this subject offend certain people? I’m sure they do. We live in a world where comments are made every day that surely offend people of a certain race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation. The test that accompanies the right for an individual to freely express his/her opinion is the ability to respect others with opposing opinions and allow those individuals to express their opinions just as freely.