It’s the middle of October and it’s time to celebrate one of the few horror flicks being released this month. But before we get to Happy Death Day, let’s start with…
In The Foreigner, Jackie Chan plays Quan, an aging father who tragically loses his daughter in a terrorist bombing. Grief-stricken, he attempts to go through the proper police and government channels in order to find out who is responsible for the attack. He has a background in all things government secret ops and can do an incredible amount of damage when forced.
Meanwhile, Liam Hennessy (Pierce Brosnan) an Irish government official is attempting to weed out who is responsible for the attacks as well. Yet, he starts to feel the pressure as he knows the attacks could somehow lead back to him and he is constantly threatened by Quan, unless he quickly finds the bombers.
The trailers sell this movie all wrong and create all the wrong expectations. This is billed as Jackie Chan’s entry into the “Old Angry Man Kicks Butt” genre that is a new(ish) thing again because of Taken and other copycat flicks. The trailer would have you believe that Jackie Chan is going to destroy everyone in his path using close-quarter combat to personally bring down the IRA.
Fortunately and unfortunately, the movie isn’t that at all. This should really have been billed as a Pierce Brosnan headlined movie as he gets the majority of the screen time. It focuses more on the inner workings of the former IRA heads dealing with each other and how they interact with the British government officials. As in life, the collateral damage affects innocents around the world and Quan’s family is affected.
His character is tertiary, but a bit unnecessary. Significant fight scenes involve Chan, but these are few and far between. Instead, he gets a chance to highlight his dramatic prowess. Quan is a grieving father, who has seen pain throughout his life, but has reached a point of no longer accepting everyone turning a blind eye.
Without expectation of an action revenge flick, there is some depth to sink into. The unsteady history of the British and the IRA is incredibly interesting. That unsteady alliance is only a few decades old and the unsteadiness of peace is displayed well here.
There is a bit too much of a soap opera angle that dampens the pacing. This would all work well in a movie specifically about modern alliances, but when you haven’t seen Jackie Chan for 20 minutes at a time, you get a bit impatient in a movie where he is the titular character.
When The Foreigner is on Netflix, you should definitely check it out. Jackie Chan and Pierce Brosnan are great in these roles. It’s complex, sometimes too much for it’s own good. C+
Happy Death Day
A young sorority sister named Tree Gelbman (also, no I didn’t make that name up) is trying to quietly celebrate her birthday. However, a baby-faced masked killer wants to make this birthday, her last.
Sounds like a typical slasher flick that can rely on tropes and be passable, right? Well, here’s the twist. When Tree is killed, she immediately wakes up to that very same morning and lives through the same sequential events. That’s right. Tree has to go through a Groundhog’s Day scenario to attempt to solve her own repeated murder.
This repeated day formula has strangely worked out amazingly well in movies like the aforementioned Groundhog’s Day, Edge of Tomorrow and Source Code. Those films have the benefit of amazing writers and clever plotting without the feeling of redundancy. Yet, in Happy Death Day, there is no reason for the time loop. The day just repeats just because and we’re supposed to root for Tree just because…
This is a movie where the theme is “Just Because…”
The killer in the movie wears a hoodie and a baby mask. Why a baby mask? Just because it’s the mascot for the university. Why would Bayfield university have a baby for its mascot? Just because. Why does the killer want to kill Tree? Just because. Actually, when I found out the real reason, I laughed my baby-face off. Also, plot-wise, why did we need to know that Tree’s mom died on her birthday years before? Just because.
This is a terrible movie that wants to leave you guessing and blaming every person in Tree’s life, but within an hour, you’ll just want the time loops to end. The only way for that to happen is for Tree to survive the day. Sadly, you never really care if she survives at all.
This is PG-13 and it’s actually a real missed opportunity. Because Tree tries to be in a different place every time she is chased, the baby-faced killer uses different ways to eliminate her. This honestly could have provided for some shock-scares or clever deaths. Instead, the camera cuts to black every time she dies. In a movie that so badly wants to be a horror-comedy, it misses every chance to capitalize.
Happy Death Day is only ever funny when it’s not trying to be. It badly wants to be Mean Girls + Scream, but it has none of the cleverness. I did laugh several times at the movie, so I can’t hate it. But this isn’t really worth watching. I’m just so happy I can stop writing about a character named Tree. Happy Death Day is D-lightful!