Category Archives: Thriller

Jurassic Park III (2001) | Joe Johnston



Jurassic Park III starts off with a man and a young boy that go paragliding only to have a forced crash landing on the island of Isla Sorna, the infamous second Jurassic Park island.  The boy’s parents, played by William H. Macy and Tea Leoni, travel to the island in hopes of rescuing their son, dragging along Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill, from the first film), who is none too happy about being thrown among the ruthless predators again.  Golly gee, you don’t think their plane might crash causing them to have to deal with dino-angst for 90 minutes, do you? Joe Johnston directs.


The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997) | Steven Spielberg



It’s four years later, and the chief creator of Jurassic Park sends an expedition of four people to check on “Site B”, a secret place where the dinosaurs were developed and which now sports dinosaurs roaming free. The quartet is supposed to document the goings-on, but soon discover they will not be alone on the island, as the creator’s nephew envisions Jurassic Parks across America and wants to capture some dinos to exploit for profit. Jeff Goldblum, Julianne Moore, and Vince Vaughn star. Directed by Steven Spielberg.


Promising Young Woman (2020) | Emerald Fennell



Cassie Thomas (Carey Mulligan) lives with her parents in Ohio while working in a dead-end job at thirty years old, a barista in a small coffee shop. Her parents have been encouraging her to get on with her life in ways that aren’t even subtle. Their latest birthday gift: a suitcase.

Cassie spends her evenings at the local watering holes to the point where she’s in an obvious stupor. Inevitably, someone will offer to do the right thing and give her a ride home. However, temptation gets the better of them and they’ll tell the cab driver to take her to their home instead. There, they reveal themselves as not so good and she’ll reveal herself to be not so drunk, shaming them for essentially trying to rape a woman who is too intoxicated to truly give consent.

At work, Cassie has a run-in with Ryan Cooper (Bo Burnham), a former colleague from medical school now working as a pediatrician. Here we pick up clues learning about how she was once on a fast-track to becoming a doctor, but she dropped out for mysterious reasons involving her best friend Nina Fisher, the victim of a sexual assault that never got justice – until Cassie made it her mission to stop predators in their tracks. Ryan seems different, cracking through Cassie’s tough exterior, offering a bright future. However, when she learns that the person most responsible for Nina’s rape is nearby and about to get married, she has to decide which path she should go down, the path of promise or the path of vengeance on everyone who done them wrong, including the seemingly indifferent school educators and lawyers who downplayed the allegations.

Emerald Fennell writes and directs.


The Little Things (2021) | John Lee Hancock



Set in 1990, Joe ‘Deke’ Deacon (Denzel Washington) is a burnt-out deputy from Kern County, CA, who left working the spotlight of high-profile cases five years ago for quieter pastures, sacrificing the spotlight and his family in the process. Rami Malek is Jim Baxter, a hotshot homicide detective for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department on top of the case to catch a serial killer brutally slaughtering young women. Deke has a knack for visualizing crime scenes and cracking cases by observing ‘the little things’ – the seemingly unimportant clues that lead a serial killer to be caught.  However, his reputation of following his own guidelines rather than the law has earned him a reputation, especially as events of his past have haunted him to ruin.

Deke travels to LA to deliver evidence for a case from Bakersfield but finds himself drawn into doing additional legwork off the clock because of the similarities between the current murders and one he had been working on back when he was last in Los Angeles that precipitated his exile. The arrogant Baxter initially dismisses Deacon as a loose cannon distraction, but eventually finds there’s a method to his madness that could be an asset to cracking the case. Their clues eventually lead to appliance deliverer Albert Sparma (Jared Leto), though they aren’t quite sure if he did the deeds or if he’s merely drawn close to the case because he is a fanatic for serial-killer crimes and intrigued at being thought of as a suspect. However, the demons that plague Deke seem to be infecting Baxter as he too begins to obsess about the case. John Lee Hancock writes and directs.


The Hunt (2020) | Craig Zobel



The Hunt is a violent satire in which liberals kidnap and hunt down “deplorables”, aka Trump supporters. These deplorables wake up in an undisclosed rural area gagged online bloggers and internet trolls claimed to expose online as “Manorgate,” but are left with keys, tools, and weapons to potentially defend themselves and get free. The private jet-flying, caviar-consuming liberal elites hunting them down like giving them a sporting chance, though the odds are heavily stacked against them. However, one of the captives is able to give the hunters a run for their money.  Betty Gilpin, Hilary Swank, Wayne Duvall, Ike Barinholtz, Emma Roberts, Ethan Suplee appear in this film written by Nick Cuse and Damon Lindelof, directed by Craig Zobel.


Queen & Slim (2019) | Melina Matsoukas



In this potent and socially relevant dramatic thriller, Queen (Jodie Turner-Smith) is a jaded criminal defense attorney and Slim a devoutly Christian retail clerk Slim (Daniel Kaluuya). They’re on a Tinder date in a Cleveland diner. On the way to drop off Queen, Slim gets pulled over by a pushy cop (Sturgill Simpson), then things escalate into an intense altercation that results in Slim killing the cop in self-defense. From then on, the two become fugitives, relying on whatever help they can on the down-low to avoid being caught and find their way to Cuba. Lena Waithe scripts from an idea by James Frey. Melina Matsoukas directs.


Bad Boys for Life (2020) | Adil and Bilall



In this third entry in the long-gestating franchise, Mike Lowery (Will Smith) gets gunned down by up-and-coming Miami crime kingpin Armando Armas (Jacob Scipio) who pops a few rounds into the cop at the direction of his ruthless mother Isabel (Kate del Castillo), getting revenge on all of those cops and lawyers who took down her drug-lord husband years before. Due to Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) making a pact with God to hang up the “bad boys” life if Mike pulls through, he refuses to join forces with his longtime partner on exacting revenge on Armando. To help supplement the cover, loose-cannon Mike teams up with the by-the-book ‘AMMO’ division of the force, a group of young guns with high-tech weapons. Of course, when tragedy strikes once again, Marcus gets off of his recliner for one more chance at the guts and glory of the “bad boys.”


Parasite (2019) | Bong Joon-ho



Song Kang-ho plays Kim Ki-taek, the father in the poor family that has no breadwinners due to the lack of good-paying jobs (the latest gig finds them folding pizza boxes). Poverty has become so pervasive that the family works overtime to find ways to not spend money, hijacking wifi from neighbors and resorting to forgery to gain credentials from schools they couldn’t even dream to be able to afford. They even leave the window open as the bug exterminator draws near to get “free fumigation”, inundating their basement apartment (and boxes meant to carry pizzas) with unhealthy chemicals. Things take a turn for the better when Ki-taek’s son, Ki-woo, gets a temporary job replacing a good friend as the tutor for Da-hye, a teenage daughter of a well-to-do family. In their palatial home, Ki-woo woos the young woman who develops a crush on him, just like she did the prior tutor, and convinces the naive mother that he has the skills necessary for the job. When Ki-woo learns that the young son in the rich family, Da-song, needs an art tutor, he brings in his sister for the job, pretending to be Ki-woo’s old college friend, then his dad, then his mother. But their taste of the high life makes it a place they want to stay for good.


Birds of Prey (2020) | Cathy Yan (aka “Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey”)



The storyline picks up with Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) just following her dastardly dreamboat, The Joker, breaking up with her, with the spinout of their toxic relationship leaving her in shambles. An oft-unhinged club owner named Roman Sionis (Ewan McGregor), whose alter ego is another powerful villain in Gotham City known as Black Mask has secured a rare diamond worth so much that he could afford to up his protection racket operation to become the biggest crime kingpin in Gotham City. That diamond is stumbled onto and taken by a pickpocket extraordinaire named Cassandra Cain, who ends up swallowing it to avoid having to give it up when frisked by police, making her the most sought after person in the city, especially after Roman places a half-million-dollar bounty on her.

All of this leads to Harley forming a ramshackle team of women with grievances with Black Mask to finally put an end to his murderous ways. That team includes Huntress, aka Helena Bertinelli (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), a Punisher-type mafia princess-turned-vigilante who rides a motorcycle and shoots a crossbow – Black Canary, aka Dinah Lance (Jurnee Smollett-Bell). Leading the case for the Gotham City Police Department is Renee Montoya, played by Rosie Perez, and newcomer Ella Jay Basco portrays Cassandra Cain. Cathy Yan directs.


Uncut Gems (2019)



Set in 2012, Uncut Gems is a part crime drama and part character study, following the dealings of Howard Ratner (Adam Sandler), a New York jewelry merchant doing business by appointment in his highly secure private showroom. Not all is peachy-keen in Howard’s life, as his marriage is on the rocks, his mistress has begun to make him feel insecure, his lack of work ethic beginning to sour customers, he just might have colon cancer, and his gambling addiction has gotten him into a lot of debt that he can’t pay back easily. He’s a sucker for get-rich-quick schemes to keep him out of trouble; his latest involved the procuring of a large uncut Ethiopian black opal that may be worth up to a million dollars.

Enter Boston Celtics star, Kevin Garnett, who takes an immediate interest in purchasing the rare jewel upon seeing it, but is denied a sale because Howard already has it set up to auction within a few days. Garnett ends up borrowing the opal in exchange for one of his championship rings and has one of the best games of his career on the basketball court, making it the good-luck charm he has to have at the tail-end of his career. In the meantime, Howard has ended up pawning off Garnett’s ring and used the money to bet big on Garnett’s performance.

Directed by Benny and Joshua Safdie.