Category Archives: Thriller

Dragged Across Concrete (2018) | S. Craig Zahler



Dragged Across Concrete is writer-director S. Craig Zahler’s further exploration of the seamy underbelly of American society, particularly through the prism of how that experience causes ripple effects that throw even innocent people into the wake of the criminals.  Most of the action follows the exploits of two cops in the fictional city of Bulwark, the older burnout Brett Ridgeman (Mel Gibson) and his younger partner Anthony Lurasetti (Vince Vaughn), who get suspended from the force after they are caught on camera going a little too far in roughing up a suspect in the current environment that frowns on the perception of racial profiling. The other major story arc in the film involves Henry Johns, just released from prison, going back to a life of crime in order to provide for his mother (a drug user who has been prostituting herself for needed cash) and disabled younger brother, who has aspirations of becoming a video game developer. The two stories converge when the cops decide they’re going to snatch money from a secretive drug dealer named Vogelmann, while Henry, working for that guy, becomes the wheel-man in a bank heist.


Us (2019) | Jordan Peele



As a young girl living in the coastal California town of Santa Cruz in 1986, Adelaide walked away from her parents while at  the beach boardwalk amusement park, into a seemingly empty fun house, and saw something that would negatively affect her the rest of her life.  Flash forward to today, and Adelaide is now married with two kids, and her husband, Gabe Wilson, has a yen to visit Santa Cruz for a family vacation, not knowing about her deep-seated fear of her experience there.  Despite her qualms, she consents to go, and while things appear harmless, she has a bad feeling about it. Her feeling would turn out to have merit, as they are soon visited in their rental by another family of four that looks just like them, except they mostly can’t speak well, and they’re dressed all in red.  The house soon becomes under siege by the doppelgangers, resulting in a battle for survival – a battle for continued existence, really – between the Wilsons and the Others. Stars Lupita Nyong’o and Winston Duke. Written and directed by Jordan Peele.


Triple Frontier (2019) | J.C. Chandor



After a nearly five-year hiatus from writing and directing films, J.C. Chandor re-emerges with Triple Frontier (for Netflix), in which five ex-military special ops soldiers reunite in order to stage a heist of a murderous major South American drug lord.  Oscar Isaac is the de facto leader of the quintet, playing Santiago, who decides to “get the band back together” for one last mission for reconnaissance for the government to take down the elusive drug lord he’s spent years trying to take down, Lorea, but changes the mission once he discovers that they could do the bust themselves, take out the human vermin the world is better off without, and score the millions of dollars in cash within his jungle-hidden, well-guarded mansion.  Each of the men find that their service for the country hasn’t exactly resulted in the country taking care of them financially, so they figure they should get what’s fair for their years of sacrifice, making it worth their salt to commit to. Ben Affleck, Charlie Hunnam, Garrett Hedlund and Pedro Pascal co-star in this action/adventure/thriller.


Greta (2018) | Neil Jordan



Although the film is called Greta, Chloe Grace Moretz’s character, a young waitress named Frances McCullen, is the one we follow most, newly relocated to New York City from Boston after losing her beloved mother.  Frances is perhaps a little too nice and accommodating for her roommate Erica’s (Maika Monroe) tastes to not get taken advantage of by the worst the Big Apple has to offer. That niceness comes into play when Frances finds a lost purse sitting on a seat in her subway car, prompting her to return it its rightful owner, a mature Parisian widow living in Brooklyn named Greta Hideg (Isabelle Huppert).  The two become friends, filling a niche in each other’s lives, with Frances finding a surrogate for her mother in her time of grief, and Greta a surrogate daughter for the one that is no longer in her vicinity. Frances says she’s like chewing gum – she tends to stick around – which is music to Greta’s ears.  However, something feels amiss in the relationship that causes Frances to try to end it, and the less-than-stable Greta doesn’t seem to be taking the separation well. Neil Jordan directs this off-kilter thriller.


Glass (2019) | M. Night Shyamalan



Glass serves as a sequel to two films from M. Night Shyamalan, 2000’s Unbreakable and 2018’s Split, the latter of which tied itself to the former with the post-end title stinger. Bruce Willis makes his return as the ‘unbreakable’ security company owner David Dunn, who, along with his adult son (and sole employee) Joseph, is trying to track down a crazy roaming the streets of Philadelphia who is abducting teenage girls.  James McAvoy continues his portrayal of Kevin Wendell Crumb, aka The Horde, a conglomerations of split personalities that take over Kevin’s body at various points, including the homicidal brute known as The Beast, who is the one feeding on those girls David is looking for .  Samuel L. Jackson also returns from Unbreakable as the titular character, the brittle mastermind self-named Mr. Glass, aka Elijah Price, who has apparently been laying low for some time under heavy sedation.  The three end up rounded up and subsequently kept separate chambers within a high-security psychiatric facility led by Sarah Paulson’s Dr. Ellie Staple, whose specialty is in rehabilitating persons who believe they are superheroes. From Split, Anya Taylor-Joy returns as Casey Cooke, who survived her terror-filled first meeting with The Horde while in its persona as The Beast, but who finds herself drawn to help him escape his inner demons.


BlacKkKlansman (2018) | Spike Lee



In this Spike Lee joint, we go back to the 1970s, where we find Ron Stallworth, the first black police detective working for the Colorado Springs Police Department.  In one of his first assignments after laboring behind the scenes to test the waters as a file clerk, Ron is hired to go undercover to record a speech being given locally by black activist Kwame Ture (Corey Hawkins), formerly known as Stokely Carmichael, at a nearby college, in which the subject is black empowerment, racist law enforcement, and preparation for the race war they feel will be inevitable. The police thought the speech would incite violence, but Ron saw the speech as just talk in that regard, and inspiring otherwise.


Bullitt County (2018)



BULLITT COUNTY is a small-scale dramatic thriller set in the late 1970s, where a bachelor party trip to Kentucky Bourbon country could prove lucrative when the quatrtet of friends decide to head off the beaten path to search for a cache of buried treasure on Bullitt family private property.  Written, directed and co-starring David McCracken, the film echoes bits and pieces of ’70s character-driven thrillers mixed with more modern film-making takes from the likes of Tarantino and the Coen Brothers.


Halloween (2018)



Jamie Lee Curtis returns as Laurie Strode in this sequel that ignores all others in the franchise after John Carpenter’s 1978 original HALLOWEEN.  Michael Myers breaks from his prison existence to return to where it all started, in Haddonfield, IL, during Halloween. Esteemed filmmaker David Gordon Green directs and co-scripts this intriguing return to look at trauma-survivor Strode and the inevitability that predator and prey will once again battle it out for survival, even forty years later.


Searching (2018)



John Cho stars as a widower father whose life gets turned upside down when his teenage daughter goes missing.  As he goes online to search for clues to her whereabouts, he discovers that the close relationship he thought he had with her may not have been as tight-knit as he was led to believe.  Debra Messing co-stars as the missing-persons detective on the beat in this nifty thriller that sets all of its actions on the screens of a variety of computer devices.


The Happytime Murders (2018) – A Podcast Film Review



In this puppet/human effort directed by Brian Henson, son of Muppets creator Jim Henson, Bill Barretta voices the top puppet character known as disgraced burnout Los Angeles-based private investigator Phil Phillips, who has to get to the bottom of a series of murders among the stars of a decades-old television show with a puppet cast of actors called, “The Happytime Gang”.  Melissa McCarthy gets the top human role, playing police detective Connie Edwards, Phil’s former, now estranged, partner in crime-fighting from his days on the force, who joins in to reluctantly assist.  Even if the characters look like Muppets, it’s a very raunchy, ultra-violent effort not meant for children.