Beat The Devil (From “The Hire” Series)

Director Tony Scott is never one to stifle showmanship and this 2002 short from the BMW advertising ploy (a series of heavyweight-directed short films which the car company commissioned), “The Hire,” is no exception. The other 7 shorts in the series were directed by:

John Frankenheimer
Ang Lee
Wong Kar-wai
Guy Ritchie
Alejandro González Iñárritu
John Woo
Joe Carnahan

For now, I’m just reviewing the Tony Scott entry. This site is all about movie review randomness, you know.

The always fantastic Clive Owen plays the Driver in all 8 films; the one constant throughout (other than his BMWs). Scott’s offering is not anything unusual for him, including flashbacks to True Romance’s Elvis-via-Val Kilmer scenes, only this time around it’s James Brown. Brown plays himself and is pretty damn good at it. He’s looking to make a deal with the devil (Gary Oldman, of course) in order to reverse the aging process and become youthful again (if only to be able to do his “splits,” as he puts it – and Scott has it underlined for us in the Scott-esque music video-random subtitling that he does so well). Other throwbacks are the more obvious ones, such as The Hunger, and the fast-to-slow dolly shots seem reminiscent of Bay’s Bad Boys. Mostly though, the whole thing feels precursor to Domino which looked and felt (to many epileptics, too!) like a bad trip.

Scott is a visual virtuoso, there is no doubt; but at the same time, it almost feels as if he can’t break out of the style that he does so well. The style though, sometimes doesn’t always work for the film. He knew how to tone it way down for one that I consider a masterpiece of his oeuvre, Man On Fire, but as with most good commercials, Beat The Devil is really only a must-see because of the cool factor that Scott brings. The Marilyn Manson cameo and coda is very cute, the music is awesome as always, the visuals are striking and jarring, the choice of character actors he uses is always spot on and fascinating (here we have Brown, Oldman, and Danny Trejo!). Check it out below, but warning: it’s gonna be hard not to like.


Machete is Real

Robert Rodriguez has seriously done a 180 on us, the man responsible for starting in low-budget filmmaking and making an awesome first film as a result (El Mariachi), only to eventually get big enough that he could develop his own studio and go on to make summer blockbusting hits (Spy Kids, Sin City), has turned his three-minute fake trailer from Grindhouse into a real-live chop ’em up film.

Yep, if you’ve seen Grindhouse, you know how awesome Planet Terror was (in comparison to the crescendo of a film Quentin Tarantino offered – Death Proof). Don’t get me wrong, Death Proof is awesome too, but not when played after Planet Terror. Those two films should not be played back-to-back. But I digress, if you’ve seen Grindhouse, you no doubt recall the story of Machete and who the titular character is; it was quite memorable for its purpose. Well, Danny Trejo is back for the feature and so are some other familiar faces.*

Hopefully though, before this hits theaters on Labor Day, Rodriguez will spend a little more money on it than it looks like he has, and at least get the post department (wait, isn’t that him?) to apply some more “dust and scratches” filter to this thing, cause right now it’s not looking so grindhousey, it’s just looking poorly made.

*Not to mention: Michelle Rodriguez, Jessica Alba, Robert De Niro, Lindsay Lohan, Steven Segal, Don Johnson, Rose McGowan, Tom Savini and Cheech Marin!