Anthony Mackie

TV News

Anthony Mackie Starring in ‘Twisted Metal’ Series

Anthony Mackie will be starring in Sony’s Twisted Metal series, which is based on the popular video games of the same name. The details include that the high-octane comedy series featuring an original take has been written by Deadpool writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick. Mackie will play the lead role of John Doe in

Marvel Movie News

‘Captain America’ 4 Is A Go With Anthony Mackie

Captain America 4 is a go with Anthony Mackie set to star which follows the news from April that the flick is in development. It’s reported by Deadline that Anthony Mackie has closed a deal to star in the flick, though Disney and Marvel have yet to announce anything official. Details also include Captain America

Marvel Movie News

Captain America 4 Villain Rumors Include Sin

The Captain America 4 villain happens to be rumored to be Sin, the daughter of none other than the Red Skull. The fourth flick was greenlit following The Falcon and the Winter Soldier airing on Disney Plus and will star Anthony Mackie (it’s said a separate project starring Chris Evans is in the works). According

Marvel TV News

Captain America Anthony Mackie Poster Released By Marvel

Marvel has released a Captain America Anthony Mackie poster which follows the conclusion of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier series on Disney Plus. The poster features Mackie wearing the new Falcon costume with the Captain America shield. Marvel also lets it be known that The Falcon and The Winter Soldier: Volume 2 soundtrack arrives later this

Marvel Movie News

Captain America 4 in Development

Captain America 4 is in development at Marvel which follows the final episode of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier airing Friday on Disney Plus. The episode reveals that Sam Wilson becomes Captain America with the shield and a new suit (pictured below). The end of the episode also saw an apparent title change as

TV News

Anthony Mackie Captain America Falcon Costume Leaks

Ahead of tonight’s final episode, the Anthony Mackie Captain America costume has leaked online from The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. The suit looks like the previous toy leak so this shouldn’t come as a shocker and it’s been known Falcon would eventually don the red, white, and blue, as the end of The Avengers:

Marvel TV News

Captain America Costume Leaks For ‘Falcon Winter Soldier’

Thanks to merchandise, we get a look at the new Captain America costume that will be used by Anthony Mackie in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier series by Marvel on Disney Plus. A user on Twitter posted a pair of images which includes art featuring Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson sporting the Captain America

Movie News Reviews

Movie Review: Pain & Gain (2013)

Mischief.  Mayhem.  Steroids.

A Film Review of Pain & Gain

By: Lawrence Napoli


[Readers, please humor me by reading the following paragraph]

You’ve just finished a 3 hour work out and you’re sore all over.  You’ve put in the work, but now you want to max out on a final bench press before you call it a night.  You start off real slow, just to make sure what’s left of your muscles can take it and then you speed it up.  Just as you start to pick up the pace, the gym manager shouts out 5 minutes to closing; you keep going.  That babe you were trying to impress all night finally cuts you a look and a smile and your adrenaline spikes; you go faster.  You notice some fed up mother dragging her screaming children out of day care and then she curses out loud, calling her kids rotten bastards.  It all pisses you off and you go even faster.  The cleaning crew starts making their way to the main area of the gym, but while one talks the other doesn’t notice the free weights left out on the floor; he trips and falls flat on his face which gets you to snicker.  You’re feeling a good burn now, but the manager shouts your name to get the hell out and he stomps over to your direction only to collide with a six foot blonde, taking both to the ground.  Turns out she’s a transvestite (because mesh shorts + no underwear was too revealing as she went down) and she proceeds to spill a giant bag of dildos she was smuggling out of the gym (where did she get them in the first place?).  Everything just got weird, but you’ve never felt stronger or lifted more in your life so you still keep going.  A homeless man then stumbles through the front doors, drops ‘trow and defecates right there on the spot.  The lactic acid rushes over you, you’re way past pure exhaustion and you feel the dry heaves of vomit curdling up only to realize your arms have already given out.  The weights crash down on your chest and roll to your throat, effectively choking you out.  The paramedics revive you and you feel lucky to be alive, but you don’t feel particularly good right now.


We’re here to pump you up!

I just spoon fed the entire experience of watching Michael Bay’s Pain & Gain, a true crime story of muscle heads turning to kidnapping, torture and murder in Miami in pursuit of the American dream.  Of course, there are no spoilers here, but imagining someone’s final set of the day with all the distractions I mentioned combined with an ever increasing pace is exactly what the viewer will see, hear and feel when they buy a ticket to ride this crazy train.  Every aspect of the filmmaking process: the camera movement, the soundtrack, the dialogue, the action and the lighting mimics the relentless pace of “the final set” in such an undeniable way that I have to admit that this film is Michael Bay’s most artistic film.  Please understand, however, that Bay has always been the stereotypical “Hollywood Guy” that could only tell a story if there were explosions here, explosions there; explosions everywhere!  I am certain this film takes several liberties with some of the facts regarding the exploits of Daniel Lugo, but in moments where viewers couldn’t possibly believe what they were seeing was true, the film reminds the audience that this all still happened.  Bay shelves his love for pyro with a slight over-abuse of the slow motion visual effect, but there is no mistaking the “bigness” of this film as anything other than a Michael Bay production even without the presence of giant robots or Sean Connery.


There’s gotta be at least 1 explosion.

The actual plot of Pain & Gain is relatively straight forward and as basic as crime stories get, but screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely apparently binged on Neveldine and Taylor’s Crank franchise prior to writing this script.  As a result, manic characters, perpetuating stereotypes, absurd plot twists, and vulgar tone mixed with pure adrenaline turns the crimes committed by Lugo and co. into one hell of an entertaining adventure.  Comedy is the key element that pushes the plot forward through a combination of ridiculous dialogue and absurd slapstick.  But here’s the catch.  These crimes still happened in reality and they ruined/ended the lives of many real people.  I cannot help but think that making such a spectacle of Lugo’s exploits in this particular way diminishes the real life tragedy.  The counter to this sensation is the fact that Lugo and his crew are depicted as little more than stereotypically dumb body builders who are incredibly high on themselves, extremely gullible and view the rest of the world as somehow owing them more simply for being as awesome as they are. 


This scene was probably more serious in real life than in this film.

Satire is certainly at work here, but as I mentioned earlier, this film never lets up on the single-minded/self-minded nature of the story which disallows the audience to reflect on the utter horror of the crimes thanks to the fact that these meatheads are constantly making themselves look like hilarious idiots.  If Pain & Gain is trying to expose the folly and corruptibility of ego-maniacal behavior, this message gets lost amidst the spectacle.  The main reason for this is that even when the main characters/antagonists fail, they are never depicted as pathetically low as any of their victims.  The audience had more than 4/5 of this film to understand the fact that these men were denser than lead and the fact that the story does not definitively shift to a serious tone pulls back on punches at the end of the film that should be going for a climactic knock out.  For a film to be as true of a story as this was, no other was in more need of reality checks.


I’m as grounded as any character gets in this film.

Pain & Gain is a character driven story and without good performances all around, no film can claim a true cast of “colorful characters.”  The one actor the audience would never expect in a film such as this is Ed Harris who plays P.I. Ed DuBois and his presence exists to lend some of that grounded seriousness I just complained that was lacking throughout.  As great of an actor as Harris is, his character is simply not important enough in terms of screen time to allow his dialogue and demeanor to leave a lasting appeal.  Tony Shalhoub does a solid job as target #1 Victor Kershaw, but he isn’t asked to lift anything heavier than the token scumbag that doesn’t deserve an ounce of sympathy from anyone.  Ken Jeong and Rebel Wilson use their specific talents of awkward/absurd comedy to ratchet up the laughs, but neither are given true moments to perform outside of those boundaries. 


Are you a “do”er?

The one performance I was actually disappointed in was that of Anthony Mackie as Adrian Doorbal.  I’ve made note of his promising performances in films like Real Steel and The Adjustment Bureau, but he easily stands in the shadow of his other two co stars.  A large part of the problem is the fact that he’s playing a body builder and although he’s significantly larger than the skinny body type I’ve always seen him as, he simply doesn’t have the tone and definition of any other muscle head he stands next to (including extras).  This takes a large chunk of credibility away from his character and it could have been compensated with a truly marquee performance, but comedy is not Mackie’s strength; it’s drama.


I look better in Falcon’s armor anyway.

Marky Mark hit the gym a bit more than Mackie prior to filming as his arms certainly showed an upgrade, but the trailers to Pain & Gain made it seem as if Wahlberg was juicing for years.  Much of the film is narrated from Daniel Lugo’s perspective as he is technically the main character of this sordid tale of excess fitness.  What can I say?  Wahlberg knows how to portray flawed confidence, gullible ignorance and absolute absurdity with a straight face.  This is vital to Lugo as a character because communicating his disconnect from any traditional morality/ethics in favor of a fitness/self-help inspired credo of “simply doing = godly” explains how this real person was more cartoon character than carbon based life form.  Unlike the role he played in The Fighter, Wahlberg is not required to do anything more than play up the meathead in this film and I can only give so much credit to what amounts to a type cast.   Wahlberg must have some kind of unspoken/unwritten/unknown connection with Josh Brolin because he has the same tendency of being overshadowed by some (if not all) of his supporting cast.  And speaking of whom . . .


Muscles are my reality. Fitness is my life.

The Rock/Dwayne Johnson/The Brahma Bull is the true star of Pain & Gain.  First, being the only true athlete of the cast, he proved that being built like a tank could indeed be improved upon because he looks to have added 20 pounds of pure muscle on top of his already intimidating frame.  The man is in impeccable physical condition, but I don’t want to know how many chemicals are coursing through his veins.  That aside, Johnson as Paul Doyle is the only character that seems to show any sign of struggling with the jaded nature of the crew’s affairs and this works to his advantage as an actor.  He isn’t a talented enough of an actor to actually display a complete shift in demeanor from clueless athlete to tortured soul, but he can keep a straight face while reciting ludicrous lines of dialogue thanks to his experience in the WWF/E.  The result is a specific hilarity that actually generates sympathy for the simpleton he plays and let’s just say that when his character rediscovers cocaine, the audience will experience a comedy level beyond the peak of The Rock’s most famous rants of the mid 1990s.


My boys can smell it.  Can you?

Pain & Gain was a tricky film for me to digest due to the intense delivery of so much character development & interactivity, action, comedy and absurdity in such a short amount of time.  On a pace rating of 1-10, this film starts at a 9 and exceeds 15 with virtually no time outs.  This film is a constant chain lightning of laughs and grotesquery, so the viewer better beware.  I like that this film seemed to paint the culture of extreme fitness gone way too far as the true culprit, but the script doesn’t do much to address issues like steroid abuse other than in the first 10 minutes of the film.  It appears as though sociopathic tendencies can develop from obsessive devotion to any of life’s sub-cultures and it’s interesting to observe how most involve the “improvement of self” in some way, shape or form.  Had this film shown an ability to shift gears to a more serious drama at the right time, Michael Bay would have had a much better film on his hands than an audaciously entertaining romp through the chemically enhanced purple hills of muscle beach.  Without reading more meaning into it, Pain & Gain is the first comedy of the summer that’s worth your time thanks to decent performances all around, but an inspired effort by The Rock.  That is, of course, if you know what he’s cooking.

Movie News Reviews

Movie Review: Gangster Squad (2013)

Not Quite Noir Enough

A Film Review of Gangster Squad

By: Lawrence Napoli


Who doesn’t like a good crime/cop drama?  Most Americans apparently do.  The majority of our TV programming revolves around this subject matter whose popularity originates from the grittiness of the American film noir genre that began in the 1940s which was best represented by The Maltese Falcon (1941).  Of course, we are well removed from that point in time, but American interest in that era (either on the production or consumer side of the equation) never seems to go away.  Perhaps it is the clothing, style, manner of social behavior, the cars or even the guns that draws us back to the box office, but I personally feel the real reason for our intrigue is the unique allure of the anti-hero that showcases quite nicely in film noir.  Contemporary America has all but fully embraced the idea of the anti-hero since Vietnam.  Our government isn’t to be fully trusted, our political leaders are scumbags, our sports heroes are cheaters and various adult authorities take advantage of children.  The anti-hero may not have the moral high ground of the classic hero, but it also gives the finger to convention and “authority.”  Such symbolic defiance still identifies as uniquely American around the globe.  Perhaps we relish in being the rebels?


Are we as charming as the Rebel Alliance?

That being said, Gangster Squad is a film that attempts to join the successful rank and file of neo-noir classics such as The Untouchables (1987) and L.A. Confidential (1997) while bringing a new emphasis to the table as its calling card: ACTION!  Most crime dramas of any era will feature scenes of suspense, violence and gunplay.  Action sequences (however brief) will be required to communicate these ideas on the screen, yet none have been so brazen as Gangster Squad as to put every other element of this kind of story (plot, character and visual style) in the proverbial trunk as the action drives the film forward at all times.  I enjoyed the action, the explosions and the somewhat asinine gunplay, but the prominence of these elements weakens character development which leads to less sympathy from the audience which produces inconsequential performances from the cast which dilutes the story overall.  As much as this film’s framework as a crime drama and subject matter concerning the Mickey Cohen rackets would classify this film as noir in theory; this film, in practical feel and fact couldn’t have less to do with “hard-boiled” noir.  This film is bright, bold and fast.  It lights up the screen like Christmas.  It’s as if someone contracted Michael Bay to do a Prohibition Era film.


Morpheus showed me how to shoot this machine gun.

However, Michael Bay did not direct this film.  That responsibility was given to Ruben Fleischer whom you’ll remember as directing seminal classics (ahem!) like 30 Minutes or Less (2011) and Zombieland (2009).  I applaud Fleischer for developing a higher proficiency with action from behind the camera for Gangster Squad, but his desire to make the action look nothing like the cheese of his previous comedies comes at a cost.  His cast has extreme time restrictions to actually do some acting.  Being the director, Fleischer’s primary responsibility is for the performances and if he isn’t getting enough from his cast, he needs to get more (somehow) or give more (script alterations to compensate).  In this case, Fleischer would have been better off substituting some dialogue scenes for action so the audience could buy into his characters more easily.  If the assembly and exploits of an anti-gang team is central to the story, why are there so few scenes depicting chemistry amongst them?  We need more campfire scenes!  We need to see these characters giving a damn about each other before we can accept anything else in the story.  Or the scenes the audience observed simply needed to be better.  But this burden doesn’t fall squarely on the director.


We’re not a team.  We’re a time bomb.  Or are we just a bomb?

Screenwriter Will Beall is a veteran writer for the TV show Castle, but has no feature film screenwriting credits before this adaptation of the book by Paul Lieberman.  If we are to take Gangster Squad as Beall’s approach to team dynamics in an action oriented film, then I have IMMEDIATE concerns for his script of the Justice League movie set for release in 2015.  Gangster Squad is a movie that is constantly trying to have its cake (lots of action) and eat it too (while staying true to noir).  In many respects, this film follows an often tread plot for crime drama: There’s a marquee criminal organization in town, a team has to be made to fight it and conflict ensues.  Simply connecting these bullet points with explosions doesn’t make this kind of movie work.  It works even less when an ensemble cast is to be featured rather than 1 or 2 characters.  If there’s a team, we need to see their interaction and THAT dynamic needs to be featured above anything else (see Marvel’s The Avengers).  Too much action and effects means less plot and dialogue and any film will suffer when these aspects are not in balance.  The only character that was rounded out in Gangster Squad was Ryan Gosling’s Jerry Wooters: a charming anti-hero who isn’t technically the main character.  That honor was meant to be Josh Brolin’s John O’Mara who was written as a white knight with anger management issues and zero complexity beyond him dealing with the fact that being a tough guy is the only thing he’s really good at.


The cops only discover the use of machine guns at the end of the film.

Overall, the cast’s performance was good, but very inconsistent as a result of the aforementioned screen time limitations.  Sean Penn brings textbook intensity being the most accomplished member of this cast as Mickey Cohen.  He delivers characterization that is stereotypically menacing, but not much beyond that seeing how the story strictly focuses on the cops. 


Ask the paparazzi!  Don’t F*CK with Sean Penn!

Josh Brolin seems determined to take roles in films where he is constantly being overshadowed.  He is meant to be the leader of the squad, yet whenever Ryan Gosling’s character makes an appearance, Bolin is forgotten.  He isn’t a bad actor, nor does he produce an ineffective performance in Gangster Squad, but his character is easily the least interesting.  John O’Mara was meant to mirror Eliot Ness in that he’s a family man while leading a small crew against an army of hell.  This would be interesting if Brolin actually showed some internal struggle with this situation.  Rather, Brolin takes a very flat approach to the tough guy character that is quite matter-of-fact about the situation and fully accepts his limitations as a meat head.


Why does everyone like you better than me?

So many actors were tragically underused beginning with Emma Stone whose only function in this film is sex appeal.  I believe the director was counting on some residual chemistry from Crazy, Stupid, Love (2011) between Stone and Gosling because the three scenes they share don’t come close to producing a decent romance.  Anthony Mackie, whom I enjoyed thoroughly in The Adjustment Bureau (2011) and Real Steel (2011), and will be featured in Captain America 2, has a combined screen time of about 10 minutes.  Giovanni Ribisi, an excellent actor with a very diverse filmography is an afterthought.  Nick Nolte is only present because the cast needed a dirty, old man; so who else you gonna call?  The real problem is that none of these characters have a moment to actually shine on screen, which would effectively validate their existence. 


Falcon better not be the token black guy in the Captain America sequel!

Gangster Squad is Ryan Gosling’s film.  His character’s profound apathy seems second nature to the man which accounts for just about every effective moment of comic relief for the entire movie.  He is the only actor to show an effective arc that justifies and motivates change in his character.  Of course, he’s the only actor to have the opportunity to actually do this.  The trick is that Gosling makes it look so easy.  The audience loves his charisma, cool and collectiveness.  However, I feel remiss to praise Gosling too much for the simple fact he plays the best character in the script.


This is my movie.  MINE!   

Gangster Squad doesn’t look, sound or feel like a noir/crime drama.  This fact is made perfectly clear in the very first scene which reveals some unexpected gore in a very graphic manner.  The slow-motion visual effects that run wild towards the end of this film need to stay in The Matrix.  Chemistry amongst all characters seems flaccid.  The plot is a cookie-cutter mash-up of every mobster related film you’ve seen from the past.  Overall, this first film of 2013 fails to impress yours truly.  It’s decent fun if you want to see someone punched in the face, but if you’re expecting more, you’ll just get a donkey kick to the groin.

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