Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Equalizer - DVD Review

          Usually, I’m the first to say that Denzel Washington is always in a great movie but in the Equalizer, although he does give a great performance, the script for the movie is just too predictable and gritty.   

           Washington plays Robert McCall, a man who wants to put his mysterious past behind him in order to work at Home Depot.  By day, he helps people such as an employee who wants to become a security guard  At night, he hangs around a diner and becomes friendly with a prostitute named Teri.  

            Of course, Teri would have trouble with a client which means that she would also have trouble with her pimp, who would be a vicious thug named Slavi.   McCall would get involved which of course would lead to a confrontation with a bigger thug who was Slavi’s boss.  

            The action and suspense is great although most of it is gun fights.  It wasn’t hard to predict how the movie would end.  At times, you could say that the violence was a little too excessive and gritty, bringing the suspense down a notch.  We do learn more about McCall’s past as the movie goes along but it’s hard to blend his background in a story like this which if anything, is somewhat like an old Mickey Spillane novel called Kiss Me Deadly.  

            Since this movie involves Russian gangsters, there is a lot of stereotyping, which doesn’t help the movie, but this is common in Hollywood since this is a world where many people seem to have trouble speaking English.  It’s a great argument against freedom of expression since the writers in Hollywood don’t get it right and if anything offend bright and intelligent Russian men and women who live in this country and have no trouble speaking English.  

             As I said before, Denzel Washington finds a way to put on a good performance even though he can’t save this movie.  Can’t give it more than 3 stars.  

Ron Hummer 

I'll Find You By Nancy Bush - Book Review

        I guess you can say that this book is a blend of romantic suspense along with being a psychological thriller.  Depending on the writer, I think it can be tough to follow a book with multiple viewpoints but in this case, Nancy Bush does a great job in I’ll Find You. 

         The major character in the book is Callie Cantrell, who has distant memories of a car accident that her son and husband didn’t survive.  It is then that she is confronted by West Laughlin, a former LA cop, who thinks she is someone else.   Little does Callie know that Tucker may hold the answers to the other woman’s identity.  

          The book does switch in point of views at that point and we’re introduced to Andre, the leader of a cult of women.  His character does add a lot of suspense to the book but what I really liked about the switch in points of view was that it all made me wonder what the hell was going on here, which in this case was a good thing.  

           Andre as a character brought out a lot of ill feelings of the women who were in the cult and in many ways, made the story believable, considering the fact that the idea would be tough to go along with.  Bush does a good job with this since you have to wonder why people would want to be part of a cult in the first place but my thoughts were that all of it was believable, which would be a challenge to any author.  

            If there was one thing that put me off about I’ll Find You, it was the excessive use of certain parts of the male anatomy.  I have read other books in the romantic suspense genre where the same thing was done so I really can’t fault the author for this since other writers have been successful in doing the same thing.  Nothing wrong with that because not everyone will feel the same way that I do.  

            I’ll Find You has memorable characters, a tremendous amount of suspense that did keep me on the edge of my couch, along with a lot of twists and turns that made for a great ending.  I have no trouble giving this book four stars.  

Ron Hummer 

Friday, January 2, 2015

Heatstroke - Netflix Streaming Review

        In Heatstroke, Stephen Dorf is a professor at a school where he is an expert on Hyena’s.  He is planning to go on a trip with his girlfriend to the African Desert to study them.  His ex-wife is demanding that he take his daughter with him because she is out of control.  

        That is the story in Heatstroke where Dorf is able to watch Hyena’s without being attacked.  Unfortunately, his daughter is not very happy about this trip.  Then again, what parent would want to have their teenage daughter on a trip of this nature.   After a few days, Dorf would take his daughter back to the airport, leaving his girlfriend behind for some unknown reason.   

            You could say that things took a turn for the worst for the Dorf and the movie when he is killed by two men who are arms dealers.  The story becomes a battle for survival as the ex-girlfriend and the daughter team up to try and get away from these men.  How they teamed up was not believable since the girlfriend walked for days in the desert without any food but somehow managed to find Dorf and his daughter by their car.  

           If you like a movie where people are battling the elements of nature such as Hyena’s and snakes and other creatures, then that’s one thing.  Yes, these men are on their trail and the story may seem to have suspense but my feeling was that I was ready just to turn the movie off out of sheer boredom.   

           It wasn’t so much that the movie was predictable as it was more depressing than anything else.  Killing off Dorf seemed to make the movie even worse.  Maybe if he managed to stay alive and was with the daughter and his girlfriend, then it could have been somewhat believable.  

            The only thing I could say about this movie that wasn’t more than an hour and a half and I wanted to turn it off before that.  In any case, I sat through it and felt it didn’t deserve more than one star.  

Ron Hummer 

The Shadow Hunter by Michael Prescott - Book Review

          As a story, you can say that the Shadow Hunter by Michael Prescott starts out with a very disturbing and real since it’s about stalking someone.   The story seems right out of the headlines when you meet Raymond Hinkle, a stalker, who is obsessed with a beautiful local TV news reporter named Kris Barwood.  

          The other part of the story is about Abby Sinclair, who works for an agency that protects people.  In her last job, she was unable to protect an actor named Corbal, who was also shot by a female stalker outside a bar.  It was tough for Abby to get over this but at the same time, the head of her agency felt that she was the best person to help Kris Barwood. 

           While the story does have a lot of action and suspense, my feeling was that there were some problems that made the story convoluted and difficult to believe.  Yes, there are times that you can enjoy a story but certain parts of the story just distracted me because it made it less credible.  

           There was one scene early on where Hinkle was leaving messages for Kris Barwood.  One of the messages was so disturbing that it was hard to believe that no action couldn’t be taken against Hinkle for leaving that type of message.  If the author did not come on so strong with that message, I felt that the rest of the story could have been more credible but considering the fact that this was a threat against a TV News reporter, leaving messages of this type should have been enough to bring charges against a stalker like Hinkle.  

            The shifting viewpoint didn’t help the story either.  I can understand if it’s done with major characters but it seemed to me that there were at least six different view points and it wasn’t consistent.  Having viewpoints not only on Kris, her husband, Abby, and members of her team, didn’t do much for the story other than make it more disjointed.  

             Yes, there were some plot twists but of course, it took the story away from Hinkle and the issue of stalking.  As a result, there wasn’t much of a plot or a mystery.  With the shifting viewpoint, there were no surprises either.  

             While I do enjoy a lot of action and suspense in a story, I also would like to read a story that has a good plot and a compelling theme.  The theme didn’t work well with the story and that’s the reason I can only give the book three stars.  

Ron Hummer