Robert Rodriguez is finally back directing a movie after his long stint directing Book of Boba Fett and The Mandalorian stuff for Disney+ . In fact, the last time he directed a movie was way back in 2019 (Alita: Battle Angel). This time around it looks like he’s headed into Stephen King territory with a story he co-wrote with Max Borenstein (Godzilla v Kong).
**SOME SPOILERS AHEAD**
Originally written by Rodriguez in 2002, he rewrote it with Borenstein in 2019 with heavy influences from The Matrix, Inception, and a few others. It’s about a troubled Texas police detective named Danny Rourke (Ben Affleck) who, after four long years, is still struggling under the guilt of his little girl, Minnie (Ionie Nieves), who was kidnapped and never found. Back at work with his partner, Nicks (JD Pardo), they are called to a strange bank heist where everything goes very south as the people surrounding the robbery are acting rather peculiar, and the odd guy who is causing all the ruckus is someone who may (or may not) know something about Minnie’s disappearance.
Danny has only a few clues: the odd man’s name is Lev Dellrayne (William Fichtner) and somehow hypnosis is playing a key role in all this. Following a hunch, Danny calls upon Diane Cruz (Alice Braga), a strip mall Tarot reader and hypnotist for answers, but the answers he gets are not what he expects, as Diane and Danny are led down a bizarre rabbit hole of intrigue, unexpected revelations, that end with a crazy chase into Mexico where Danny is introduced to Diane’s friends (Jackie Earl Haley, Dayo Okeniyi) who prove to be not what they seem. Just as you think this movie can’t get any weirder, the third act throws in a Twilight Zone/Black Mirror spin that is mind-blowing and makes you question everything. I can’t get too much into it, as I don’t want to give anything away.
Rodriguez is no stranger to writing the odd, wild, and peculiar–if you ever saw his Spy Kids movies, you’ll know what I mean! But I suppose he must’ve watched a particular Stephen King movie, ’cause this film is very much like the one about the kid who starts fires. It’s full of twists and unexpected events that’ll you have second guessing; not at all like the kind of movies that Rodriguez usually makes with tons of violence and bloodshed. This film had all the earmarks of the old sci-fi movies of the 70’s and 80’s with the characters, plot, style, and creative direction it took. And Rodriguez knows about making that kind of throwback movie, as he made 2007’s Grindhouse, a loving send-up of underground 70’s exploitation films.
The cast is very good with Ben Affleck as the engaging embittered cop trying to piece together the mystery within the mystery. Alice Braga is excellent as his partner in crime, and you just can’t go wrong with William Fichtner as the bad guy; the man has a lock on this. And I’ll take some Jackie Earle Haley any chance I can get, even if it’s a small part. For fun, Rodriguez includes a throw-away joke from his Desperado film! I saw this movie as part of the Regal $5 Monday Mystery Movie screening, so it won’t be out until May 12th.
**Opens in theaters on May 12th
The Woman in Green (1945)
When someone says, “Sherlock Holmes”, many think of Benedict Cumberbatch or RDJ. But the original and the best (for my money) was the pairing of Basil Rathbone & Nigel Bruce, who made a whopping 14 films together! This is #11 in the critically acclaimed series.
Based on source material lifted from author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s two books, The Final Problem and The Adventure of the Empty House, we begin with murder most foul. . . four of them to be exact. And in each case, a women’s forefinger was severed and taken! Why? Scotland Yard Inspector Gregson (Matthew Boulton) seeks help from Holmes & Watson, and the game’s afoot! Meanwhile, wealthy widower Sir George Fenwick (Paul Cavanagh) is seduced by beautiful Lydia Marlowe (Hillary Brooke) and, after a creepy night where she hypnotizes him, he wakes up in a flop house with a severed finger in his pocket and a fresh murder on the news! Oh-no!
After Fenwick’s daughter (Eve Amber) asks for help and, after Sir George is murdered, Holmes theorizes that his old arch-nemesis is behind it all: Professor Moriarty (Henry Daniell)! Well, surprise! He’s back and even pays Sherlock a visit. After a crafty assassination attempt, Holmes figures out the hypnotism angle and decides to track down the mysterious Lydia Marlowe who is behind it all. After faking his failure in solving the case, Lydia tries to hypnotize Holmes into committing suicide, but it doesn’t work (of course!) and, not only is she arrested, but Moriarty falls to his death. . . again! What’s funny is, in all 14 films, Moriarty showed up only three times, was played by three different actors, and they all died at the end! LOL!
If you’re a fan of the series (like me) you’ll notice many things: Roy William Neill directed nearly every single movie, the film’s soundtrack is always the same, and many of the actors are recycled as other characters. Also, Dr. Watson (depending on the script) is either portrayed as a bumbling-stumbling fool or a slightly less-intelligent physician. My favorite is the great Dennis Hoey as the dimwitted Inspector Lestrade who, sadly, isn’t in this movie. Basil Rathbone, who usually plays a sinister villain, made this his signature role as the smartest guy in the room and master of disguise. Oh sure, you got your Cumberbatch’s, RDJ’s, Jeremy Brett’s, Henry Cavill’s, Johnny Lee Miller’s, and even (God help us!) Will Farrell, but Rathbone will forever be the quintessential Sherlock Holmes in my book.