While in the drive from Atlanta to Charleston, SC to see my parents I watched ‘Smokin’ Aces.’ Written and directed by Joe Carnahan , it was a fun if not bizarre take on the hitman action sub-genre. If you want an example of how to create truly unique characters, you should check it out. Carnahan does a great job making sure no two characters in this film feel alike. While some of the twists in the second half get convoluted and confusing, I thought overall it was a fun film. Carnahan is making a name for himself with fun action romps, though his upcoming film ‘The Grey’ should serve as a more serious turn for him.
Driving back from Charleston to Atlanta, I watched ‘A Scanner Darkly’ based on the Philip K. Dick novel of the same name. Written and directed by Richard Linklater, it was a bizarre, plodding, confusing, and ultimately unfulfilling journey. The actors involved gave it their all (though Keanu was your typical Keanu), and the characters were interesting, but the setting and story they were placed in felt wasted. While this was technically a science fiction film, it never truly felt like it knew what it wanted to be. It never felt like there were any true stakes or tension for the characters, just some odd scenes that indicated there might be some problems down the road, but that’s about it. The twist/reveal at the end was solid, and the final ten minutes resolved what was going on to my satisfaction. However, it wasn’t enough to save what was otherwise a lackluster experience. Normally I like Linklater’s stuff, but in this instance it didn’t feel like he was firing on all cylinders.