Thursday, September 27, 2018

Mile 22

In one of the few, moments in which Milla 22 gives a break to an audience surpassed by scenes of hyper-realistic action and ideological cruelty, the character of Mark Wahlberg looks around him, his pawn-men in a deadly game of who do not know the rules and the keys, and asks who are the good guys and the bad guys? There is no answer for that secret soldier, that mercenary without
Glory, unable to know if he is doing the right thing or not. Mile 22, the film, yes that answers us, to the spectators, but not with something that reassures us or that we shine. On the contrary, nothing he tells us, and how he does it, leaves us with some hint of moral relief: all, without exception, are the dark side of the moon. Does not the film even show a sort of acceptable condescension towards its heroes? trapped in a spiral of state executions, suicide missions and continuous jumps between right and wrong. The notes (forgettable in the end) about the civil life of the characters (some of them directly melodramatic: the issue of separation and custody of a daughter), far from humanizing them turns them into psychopaths, unbalanced who find in violence their way of being.

None of this should surprise us in the cinema of Peter Berg, except in his collaborations (this is the fourth) with Wahlberg. Although systematically accused of promoting a reactionary, individualistic and patriotic discourse, when viewed without prejudice (and without taking into account how many of those films end: documentary images of the real protagonists of the stories he has recreated) his
We are witnessing an unpleasant description of the immense purgatory in which American society has become. The actions that this savage group of mercenary spirit, at the orders of middle managers of government agencies or paragovernmental, are seen by them at first as a crusade in favor of freedom. However, like the troops trapped and massacred in
the Afghanistan of The only survivor or the policemen hunting for two miserable and pathetic terrorists in Day of patriots, ends do not justify the means, and both victims and executioners end up in the same circle of Hell.

Mile 22 provokes you, on an ideological level, a continuous shaking. It loses its cannon fodder in madness (somewhat to the spectators, that is also true) in those incomprehensible maneuvers of current geopolitics. And it shakes them physically. The best thing is again, as is usual in the filmography of Peter Berg, the harshness of his violence. Action sequences, especially close combat, flirt with the gore. But in that pain, that breakdown of bone and flesh, perhaps the message of the film is found.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

The Meg

The Meg has many problems, but perhaps the most virulent, so seemingly anecdotal at the beginning and how terrible it ends up revealing, is that of the referents. Starting from a novel published in 1997 by Steve Alten whose adaptation to the cinema was postponed for years due to the coincidence in the calendar with Deep Blue Sea (1999), the film in question could have echoed precisely that joyous entertainment directed by Renny Harlin, or already put of any of the numerous by-products that would assail the fiction in the following years - the third installment of Shark Attack (2002), in fact, had another Megalodon in the title and it was just the movie that it should be-, but do not. Megalodon had to deposit the scavenging look on Steven Spielberg's Shark. Released in 1975, and considered by many as the first blockbuster worthy of that name.

The historical relevance of this film would be something hard to deal with on its own, but neither is there anyone foolish enough to ask director John Turteltaub - a substitute for Eli Roth once he left smelling the calico - to manufacture a tribute to the height. On the other hand, the most superficial features of the latter are finally replicated, just as The Skyscraper a few weeks ago was based on retaking the stage design and little more than The Glass Jungle (1988): yes, with much better fortune. There is a shark, there is a beach full of bather-bathers -all Chinese, as the distribution forecasts require-, and there is a short guy in words but willing to bask in the warmth of a family home as the only (and unlikely) hero able to face the monster. Of course, that Roy Scheider's boss Brody has mutated into the incombustible Jason Statham should be the motive of cinephile pleasure for all spectators with a minimum of decency, receiving with enthusiastic shouts the one liners of rigor and the timid beats of a heart that does not it fits in the sculptural chest, but it has ended up being that it is not enough, and that the corresponding update should have been carried out with the same intensity in many other aspects.

For starters, as he has internalized Syfy's half catalog - with the Sharknado saga as a tragic example of what The Meg could have been - Tito Steven's strategy of hiding the monster as long as possible to increase the suspense stops having sense in the same moment that you have introduced the CGI in your life. Changing a toy fish by an amalgam of pixels requires being committed to the exhibitionism under pain of looking cheaper than it actually is, and it is an absolute nonsense that the Megalodon of the film of the same name takes so long to leave. Something that is not especially serious because meanwhile Statham is still out there drinking beer nose, but reveals a relentless consequences when it finally does and when you should get biting you find that does little more than ... hit head. And eat other fish. And stalk an underwater cage with another poor human inside - Li Bingbing replacing Richard Dreyfuss - without the slightest suspense. How can there be, if the safest thing is that it does not come out or blood in case it ends up sinking the tooth of truth.

To say it in the lapidary language of our friend Jason, The Meg is unworthy of taking that name, too confused between wanting to be a family film à la Spielberg -and that the primordial Shark was not exactly allergic to gore- and the pimp product and unprejudiced that was screaming for an argument like his. There are hardly any annoying humans that we strongly desire that they end up devoured -something of that they want to sell us with the character of Rainn Wilson, but bah-, they barely eat people -and when the Megalodon does it persists in doing it in a clean and educated way- , and Jason Statham will not even let him punch someone, although the moments when the film struggles to become a kind of deranged Moby Dick bakala have their point. These moments, in combination to a sequence on the beach with several dozens of bathers dead (and a puppy), courageously try to get The Meg out of that hole as inconsequential as suffocating in which the usual cooperation of producers, advertisers and market analysts They have gotten, but still not enough. And to feel the authentic essence The Meg, the black leg and indomitable spirit, the best is still take refuge in the B series, whose latest genius is Sky Sharks, starring Nazi flying zombie sharks. Because sometimes life is not as complicated as Hollywood believes.