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On Blu-ray/DVD, Special Universal 1440 "Wait, What? These Movies Have Sequels?!" Edition: INSIDE MAN: MOST WANTED (2019) and JARHEAD: LAW OF RETURN (2019)

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INSIDE MAN: MOST WANTED
(US - 2019)


Hot on the heels of gems like THE CAR: ROAD TO REVENGE and BACKDRAFT 2, Spike Lee's hit 2006 bank heist thriller INSIDE MAN becomes the latest unlikely Universal catalog title to be belatedly sequelized by their "1440" DTV division (bring on Scott Eastwood in HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER 2!) with the South Africa-lensed INSIDE MAN: MOST WANTED. Of course, no one from INSIDE MAN--Lee, Denzel Washington, Clive Owen, Jodie Foster, Christopher Plummer, etc--is back, though some characters are mentioned. And you can't help but admire not only how the production designers try to pass Johannesburg off as NYC (at least it's more convincing than Bulgaria) but also the way a character exclaims "It's a copycat heist!" to justify more or less remaking INSIDE MAN with a cast of cable and streaming actors with varying degrees of recognizability. BETTER CALL SAUL's Rhea Seehorn will probably be the most familiar face as hard-nosed FBI agent Brynn Stewart, summoned to work point on a robbery taking place at the Federal Reserve in NYC. She's joined by NYPD hostage negotiator Remy Darbonne (SENSE8's Aml Ameen) as they try to meet the rigid demands of the robbery team's masked leader, who calls herself "Most Wanted" (Roxanne McKee, who's logged time on GAME OF THRONES, DOMINION, and STRIKE BACK). She's after a stash of gold hidden in a secret vault, and both Stewart and Darbonne notice (not quickly enough) that Most Wanted's methodology mirrors that of Dalton Russell, the brains behind the now-infamous "Nazi diamond heist" depicted in Lee's film (and played there by Owen, whose photo is seen numerous times throughout). So instead of diamonds, we've got gold bars, and instead of Plummer's aging Nazi sympathizer--who's passed on in the interim--we get that character's pissed-off son (Greg Kriek) pulling the strings because he wants the rest of his late dad's riches.





There's been flimsier foundations for a sequel, and INSIDE MAN: MOST WANTED is hardly the worst of these 1440 titles. Busy TV director MJ Bassett (ASH VS. EVIL DEAD, STRIKE BACK, ALTERED CARBON) began her career as a second-string Neil Marshall with 2002's supernatural WWI chiller DEATHWATCH and 2007's underseen gem of a survivalist thriller WILDERNESS before going on to SOLOMON KANE and SILENT HILL: REVELATION, and she keeps things moving briskly. Seehorn and McKee turn in solid performances, and British Ameel does a decent job of masking his accent by spending the whole movie doing a two-for-one impression of Will Smith and Kevin Hart. The South African supporting actors fare much worse, none of them even remotely convincing as New Yorkers and all of them sounding like Leonardo DiCaprio in BLOOD DIAMOND. INSIDE MAN: MOST WANTED is completely forgettable, but maybe worth a half-attentive glance if you liked Seehorn on BETTER CALL SAUL or have enjoyed Bassett's earlier work (definitely seek out WILDERNESS). Just don't think too hard about it, or else you'll be asking questions like "If the original Nazi diamond heist is such a legendary case in law enforcement, and they know it's a copycat case, then why don't they see any of the same shit coming long before it happens?"(R, 106 mins)


JARHEAD: LAW OF RETURN
(US - 2019)


Hey, remember that 2005 Jake Gyllenhaal movie JARHEAD? Did you know it's spawned three DTV sequels so far courtesy of Universal's 1440 division? There's no real connection between any of the films, though Dennis Haysbert's JARHEAD character made a brief appearance in 2016's JARHEAD 3: THE SIEGE. The only sense of continuity offered by the latest stand-alone installment, JARHEAD: LAW OF RETURN, is the return of JARHEAD 2: FIELD OF FIRE writer/director Don Michael Paul, a former B-movie supporting actor-turned-DTV specialist, whose other credits include three TREMORS sequels, two SNIPER sequels, LAKE PLACID: THE FINAL CHAPTER, KINDERGARTEN COP 2, DEATH RACE: BEYOND ANARCHY, THE SCORPION KING: BOOK OF SOULS, and the upcoming BULLETPROOF 2, a sequel to the 1996 Damon Wayans/Adam Sandler action comedy BULLETPROOF that will not in any way involve Damon Wayans or Adam Sandler. Like JARHEADs 2 and 3, JARHEAD 4 is more Bulgaria-shot jingoistic military porn, just more forgettable than usual. JARHEAD 3 at least had Scott Adkins. This offers PRISON BREAK's Amaury Nolasco as Sgt. Flores, a career Marine who's a month away from retirement (uh-oh) when he ends up in a covert mission to extract pilot Ronan Johnson (Devon Sawa) when he's shot down and taken prisoner by a Syrian terror outfit headed by the nefarious "The Ghost" (George Zlatarev). The catch: Johnson is the son of a Catholic US senator (Robert Patrick) and a Jewish mother. He married an Israeli woman (Shanti Ashanti) five years ago, obtained dual Israeli citizenship, and joined that country's military via Law of Return, which gives all Jews the right to come to Israel and become Israeli citizens. The Israeli government declares "He's ours!" and assigns the rescue operation to a Mossad agent (Yael Eitan), but a bloviating American general (Ben Cross) yells "This is Benghazi all over again!" to get your Hillary-hating uncle all riled up, and demands US military special ops be involved because of the political ramifications involving the package's father.





What follows are a bunch of dull firefights and a lot of hardass Marine bro-downs, filled with witty dialogue like "Fuckface? He called me a fuckface! Hey, I'd fuck your face!" and "This ain't our first time swingin' at the pinata, lady!" when the female Mossad agent in charge gives a final run-through of the assignment. Because, you know, this is...what they do. Also note how some stock news footage early on shows Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaking English, followed by some footage of Iran's prime minister with an English translator speaking over him, yet the slightly-accented translator's words are accompanied by subtitles like it's all pops and buzzes and we can't understand a word with these people. JARHEAD: LAW OF RETURN: come for the formulaic, by-the-numbers action, stay for the bonus One America News Network-pandering xenophobia. (R, 103 mins)


Note: Universal 1440 also released the DTV sequel DOOM: ANNIHILATION this week, directed by Tony Giglio (writer of the three Universal 1440 DEATH RACE sequels), but life's too short.


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