Rosamund Pike

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Movie Review: Gone Girl

Published October 6, 2014 by mrsrag

Starring: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Tyler Perry, Neil Patrick Harris, Carrie Coon, Kim Dickens, Sela Ward, Missi Pyle.

Rated: R.  Drama/Mystery/Thriller.  Running Time: 2 hours 29 minutes.

Wow, I forgot how truly twisted Amy Elliot Dunne is.  Ross and I had read the critically acclaimed bestseller by Gillian Flynn in late 2012 and we were both immediate fans.  Flynn’s writing was edgy, fresh and captivating.  It was one of those books you pick up and absolutely can’t put down.  Each chapter like a breadcrumb leading down a shocking path.  What I enjoyed most about this novel was the fact that Flynn proved that I could still be shocked as a reader.  When Ross told me that he had read about the production of the movie, I was deeply intrigued.  How were they going to pull this one off?  Readers are exceptionally protective of the stories they love and this was so widely adored.  If they screwed this up, they’d be crucified.  The theatre was jam packed, which was quite a treat when certain scenes unfolded on screen.  I was getting a kick out of hearing some of the reactions to things that I already knew were coming.  My final assessment: they pulled it off.  And quite well.  They pretty much followed the book to a tee, which is always a smart approach.  And as a reader I was surprisingly pleased.  The twisted tale translated well to the big screen and delivered some wicked humor along with thought provoking dilemmas.

Nick Dunne (Affleck) is unemployed and aimless.  He owns a failing bar that his wife bought him, and he wakes up on the morning of his fifth anniversary and heads straight for ‘The Bar’.  His sister Margo (Carrie Coon from HBO’s The Leftovers) is the bartender and they each have a mid-morning glass of  bourbon.  Nick returns home after receiving a call from his neighbor that his cat is wondering around.  He finds the front door open, the house in a bit of a shambles and no sign of Amy (Pike) his wife.  So begins the set-up of Gone Girl, the runaway, fantastic best seller brought to the big screen in record time.  We soon find out the marriage was a Grand Canyon away from happy, and that our husband and wife are severely fucked up in the head.  The search begins for “Amazing Amy” and the lead investigator, Detective Rhonda Boney (Kim Dickens from another HBO hit Deadwood) quickly focuses on Nick, because it’s always the husband isn’t it?  Maria and I are always careful not to tell too much of the plot, and out of respect for those of you that haven’t read the book, we certainly aren’t changing that practice here, but suffice it to say there are twists for the ages in Gone Girl.  Well cast, well acted and a very worthy adaptation of Flynn’s novel.

They don’t waste any time getting into the action and weaving a web of deception, lies and drama.  Gone Girl is a literal train wreck at full speed without a dull moment.  I really enjoyed the subtle social commentary on how the media reacts when a tragedy of this kind occurs.  Missi Pyle plays Ellen Abbot, a television personality who is no doubt tailored to be our very own Nancy Grace.  It’s a delight to watch her sensationalize the tragedy and then be flippant with her opinions.  Pike’s performance is incredibly impressive as well.  She fearlessly takes on her first starring role as the fierce and unapologetic Amy.  I’d like to imagine that all the ladies of Hollywood were vying for this one.  Pike was not an obvious choice, but she nailed it.  Great performances and a flawless execution make this a must see.  For people who have read and those who haven’t.

There are a few racy and squeamish moments that might not be for everyone, and at nearly 2 1/2 hours it was just a tad too long, but overall I would agree, go see it.  I mentioned to Maria as we were leaving, that the most sure fire way to ensure box office success is to adapt a mega best selling book(s) for the big screen.  She responded that that’s been going on for years, but I submit with Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Gone Girl and the upcoming 50 Shades of Grey (abysmally rotten yet successful, see our review in the archives of MRSRAG) among others, that it has never been more prevalent than today.  I’m not knocking the practice, just an observation.  Gone Girl really is a well acted film.  There aren’t a whole lot of characters to like here, as a matter of fact the bulk of them are vile, but it’s the great, refreshing, original story that drives this one to the finish.

Maria’s Rating:  4.5 Gummy Bears out of 5.

Ross’ Rating:  3.75 Gummies.

Recent DVD Release: Jack Reacher

Published May 13, 2013 by mrsrag

Starring: Tom Cruise, Rosamund Pike, Richard Jenkins, David Oyelolo, Werner Herzog, Jai Courtney, Robert Duvall.

Rated: PG-13.  Action/Crime.  Running Time: 2 hours 10 minutes.

How can Tom Cruise pull off the most bad ass dudes on screen and be such a fruit in real life?  The guy is a great actor.  Just take a glance at his extensive resume: Top Gun, Risky Business, Cocktail, The Color of Money, Mission Impossible, War of the Worlds, etc.  Nobody does cool, calm & collected, bordering cocky, bad ass like Tom.  Jack Reacher is a perfect example of Cruise’s signature role.  Ross and I recently embarked on one of our long road trips, which seem to breeze by with the help of audio books.  Additionally, we had just heard from one of our trusty film sources, Kevin, that Jack Reacher was worth a look.  I spotted a collection of three Reacher novels by author Lee Child and decided the plots sounded right up our alley.  Especially after our failed attempt at listening to the unbelievably horrendous 50 Shades of Grey.  Arguably some of the worst writing of the 21st century.  Anyhow, I thought it would be cool to get a feel for Reacher as a character prior to viewing the movie.  This was a good move.  Although Jack Reacher is based on the ninth book in the series, One Shot, the three novels we listened to really gave us a feel for the tone of the story and Reacher as a chracter.  I found the film clever, witty and deliciously entertaining.  But then again, as much as I want Tom to disappoint me, he rarely ever does (See ‘Eyes Wide Shut’).

Maria didn’t mention our favorite Cruise role, as Roy Miller in Knight and Day.  Probably because we’re two of the few who’ve seen it.  Trust me on this one, rent it or buy it or watch it on HBO.  Cruise and Cameron Diaz are awesome together, and the movie is funny, thrilling, ridiculous and doesn’t take itself too seriously.  “We should have sex.  I think we’d have really great sex.”  Okay, Jack Reacher.  I had never heard about the character and the series of books until the movie came out.  Maria bought us the first three books on CD and they were very entertaining.  The insight into what makes the guy tick vastly increased my viewing pleasure as well.  In this one Reacher, an ex-Army criminal investigator who now drifts from place to place, has come to Pittsburgh to take care of a sniper who killed five people.  The guy was caught quickly, open and shut case.  Not quite.  Even though he knows Reacher would be coming to kill him (they had a history), he specifically asks for him.  Jack teams up with Helen (Pike), the reluctant defense attorney and daughter of the D.A. (Jenkins), and the truth begins to unfold.  Can you say conspiracy?  Jack Reacher is an honest man, a brilliant investigator and of course, a great fighter.  He is also a vigilante, and he will kill your ass if you deserve it.  In the books he’s 6′ 5″, Cruise is 5′ 6″, but he somehow works in the part.  The guy really is pretty frigging good.  I remember Interview with a Vampire.  No way did I EVER picture him as Lestat, but sure enough, he killed that one too!  

Cruise is definitely surprising.  And although he may not exactly be my cup of tea, he’s good at his craft.  Ross & I do love Knight and Day.  His role as Roy is quite possibly the most lovable character I’ve seen him play.  Charming and still a serious bad ass.  Tom epitomizes the Hollywood guy that you want to hate in reality.  But for some reason, I still find him entertaining on screen.  Jack Reacher is a film you can feel safe about.  I wasn’t thinking what I often do, “Can I have my 2 hours back?”  I felt invested in the story and enjoyed having someone to root for.  A classic tale of right versus wrong always appeals to me.  And this one has sequel written all over it.  I’m game, but I think I can wait for the DVD.

Oh, I’m positive there will be sequels, plural.  There are 17 more Reacher books and counting.  I’m sure there are die hard fans of the series that would disagree with me, but Cruise is made for the role.  $220,000,000 gross box office worldwide isn’t Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or Iron Man money, but I’m guessing it’s enough for at least a couple of more installments.   Robert Duvall showed up late as the character Cash, a kind of Morgan Freeman to Batman-type relationship with Reacher that I enjoyed, and I hope he’s back for the sequels.  Maria and I have two more road trips planned for this summer, and we’ll definitely try to find more Jack Reacher on CD.  It’s not award winning, life affirming or world changing literature; just good old fashioned, American fun.  And he maybe a glazed over, Scientologist nut job in real life, but old mister “Born on the 4th of July” sure knows how to entertain us.

Maria’s Rating:  3.5 Gummy Bears out of 5.

Ross’ Rating:  3.75 Gummies.