Rating: R, Time: 1hr 41min, Director: Pierre Morel, Cast on IMDb
How well is the motivation fleshed out?
So, in the movie Riley North, a mother loses her whole family to a Mexican mafia crime boss that thinks her husband was going to be part of a gang that would rob him. The boss, Diego Garcia, sends a hit squad to take out these people to leave a message, leaving the mother as the solo survivor to send a message to the street. She turns vigilante to seek revenge for her family's death. I think the general plot works well, as who wouldn't want to seek justice for her family's murders? So the basics are do you see the transition from loving mother to the vigilante killer?
How believable wast the character of Riley North?
They briefly show excerts of her training to be a vigilante by some type of cage fighting in Europe and a story of a bank robbery. I think here they should definitely have shot the bank robbery scene leaving the scene as this is a major decision on the part of the protagonist, which would start her journey down the road, so this is a miss by just telling vs. showing it. Who wouldn't want to see her show up her stupid boss to robb her place of employment.
The fight scene does show us a bit of the training, but not enough in my view. We should have seen her start shooting, karate training, etc. with maybe 2-3 minutes to really flesh out her character. Another major flaw is that she doesn't really look cut as far as muscle tone. So again some training scenes on the bench press would have been impressive. A good example was in Terminator 2, where Sarah Connor has been locked up in the Psychiatric unit and they show her doing numerous push ups or again the Private Vasquez in Aliens who does numerous pull ups to prove there is a possible female marine aboard. This jells the character. Here we don't see these crucial buildups. I think a major improvement would have been 1/3 of the film on the training at a minimum to show the visual switch in character to make the vigilante possible and then the last 1/3 would be the actual hunt. One of the best examples of dramatic buildup in this manner is Alien. At least the first 30-40 minutes are simply exploring the Alien world, vessel and back to the ship before the Alien comes fully to life. That slow build really makes the character of Ripley and others come to life. Here the director rushed the story to have lots of scenes of action in the hunt vs the gradual build.
What do you think of shooting her as vigilante and then reverse back?
I think this is a bit unnecessary as a scene. It would be nicer to just see her develop over time from loving mother to vigilante with no remorse. In the movie, they retain her pain completely but without really hardening the character. As she goes along, she should get rougher and more ruthless (at least to be believable). A crying mother cannot simple kill multiple gang members without the training. So again, by skipping over the act of training and development, we don't necessarily believe her as a vigilante. Plus they keep playing her as kind of hard core, but still grieving. A bit of remorse here and there is good, but as you kill people you would likely be hardened in the soul each time vs retaining your original character. So in my interpretation, they kind of missed on this evolution of the character.
Do you think they played into the Trump vision of Mexican immigrants?
On one aspect, movies do tend to reflect common viewpoints, such as Mexican gangs as ruthless, but this is the real reality. Of course, minor drug dealers may be soft, but to run a major operation and deal with the cartels, you would have to be hard as steal. A really nice touch in the movie is that the leader Diego Garcia prays to a madonna, which you believe is the Virgen of Guadalupe, but is now a kind of angel of death. This is good symbolism of a man turned down the wrong angle in life to become a drug kingpin. I think they did a great job portraying him and his gang as absolutely ruthless to solve issues. Always using the most brutal tactics to maintain order via fear of retribution.
Likely, due to the timing of the movie and Trump's statements will drive away more moderate voters, but may pick up more Trump voters as viewers. Is this irresponsible? Who is to say? I loved the Dirty Harry and Spaghetti westerns of Clint Eastwood that spoke to nihlism and pointlessness of war commentary. I'm not sure what the message is here about the Mexican mafia other than don't mess with them or expect war.
Have you done any art on the theme of vengeance in the drug trade?
Its the real thing. Coke. - 24 x 48 inches (SOLD)
Actually, I have done a lot of justice themed art in my Political Pop art. One of the themes I tackled was the cocaine drug trade and the movie Scarface with Al Pacino. In my interpretation, I reference Coca-cola, which originally used cocaine in the drink to convert users to addicts with 3 addictive ingredients: cocaine, caffeine, and sugar. Strangely, enough Coca-cola still uses coca leaves (after they decocainize the leaves) in the recipe, so you will never end the cocaine trade with a major beverage company using the raw ingredients. Plus I reference, Pablo Escobar, who took over Columbia's cocaine industry and eventually killed 1000s of police and tried to kill the president of Columbia.
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