I just had a very exhausting holiday season. I showed up at work more tired than I was before I left! Tons of familial obligations sandwiched by generally pretty uncomfortable and inefficient travel options are to blame, though my self-pity is assuaged by hearing the same complaint from a majority of my co-workers and a quote from the guy next to me on the last leg of my journey who said "sometimes change is as good as a rest" which I think is a valid point.
So instead of ranting about Air Canada's terrible customer service, I am going to focus on the positive, their top-notch audio-visual system. Every seat on Air Canada's fleet has a little TV in it with a choice of movies, tv shows and other goodies. The thing that makes it so great is that the TV shows are quite up to date (and it often has a good and interesting selection, from hits like The Big Bang and Modern Family to more obscure fare and good British stuff, like the In-Betweeners) and the movies even more so. A nice selection of first-run movies that you kind of thought might be worth renting are available. Between my wife and me, we watched The Town, The Social Network, Going the Distance, Never Let Me Go and Takers (more on this later). There is also an excellent CanCon channel and I re-watched the delirious beginning of Fubar II as well as several quite good Canadian shorts.
Once, when flying from San Francisco to Montreal (a direct flight that is inexplicably unavailable over the holiday season; anger beginning to rise again, must. calm. down.) a young American who had just got a job for Ubisoft in Quebec leaned over to me and asked if the movies were free. He was scared to press the Watch button for fear that some charge would be accrued to his credit card. For once in the last decade, I was quite proud of Canada. It was almost like the Chretien or Trudeau years again, when we were the cool, generous country. A fleeting moment, but I savour it.
But let's get on to Takers. What, you haven't seen Takers? Only the best movie of 2010. Well let's say the best old-style guy-focused action movie of 2010. It's basically the story of a mixed-race gang of high-rolling heisters with Matt Dillon in high pursuit. It's not great, but it doesn't annoy or enrage and other than a lame misstep with Dillon's daughter, treats its audience with respect. Instead of a review, I will simply share some bullet points with you.
- Paul Walker began his career as an almost laughably generic movie star, but in the absence of any other cool white guys in action movies, I have to admit that he has grown on me. He makes an effort and even threw in a bit of black humour this time around. I'm going to treat his career with tentative respect going forward.
- These kinds of movies can be seen as career gauges. For actors like Idris Elba and rappers like T.I. or Chris Brown (who seems to know Parcour?!) a movie like this is a fine paycheque. But Hayden Christensen has got to be a little concerned to be consigned to playing the goofy tech guy of the team (though he does have a pretty good fight scene and is quite a gamer despite his small frame). Even more remarkable is the plummet of Zoe Saldana. She was the star of two of the biggest hits of 2009 and here she is playing in an utterly thankless role as the only woman where she doesn't get to do anything but look loving or worried or dead. What happened? She has always been thin, but now seems to be slipping over to the eating disorder or drug abuse side of thin. Worrying.
- You gotta love Matt Dillon. I don't know if he does these movies for the money, or just to be working or because he just enjoys partying it up on the set with a bunch of dudes. But he delivers. I loved him in Armored playing the driven, possibly psychotic heister and he is just as great here as the tired, driven cop. Just him walking down the hospital hallway after learning that his partner died (who was recently revealed to be corrupt, but got himself shot in the line of duty so he'll receive full honours and his wife and kids full benefits), turning back to his chief and saying wearily "yes, sir" after the chief says "Hey Welles, take care of yourself" is one of those moments that remind you of what it means to be a man.
- I love the racial harmony movies like this posit. This isn't the full multi-cultural band, just black and white, but they get along so well! I almost wish I could be part of a club-owning, high-rolling multi-racial team of heisters. But then I learn that most of them end up getting tragically shot and I change my mind back to wanting to be a Hong Kong cop or defensive lineman in the NFL.
- Takers, the Armored of 2010.