"When faced with a problem you do not understand,
do any part of it you do understand; then look at it again."
~(Robert A. Heinlein - "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress")

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Friday, August 26, 2011

Ahhnold the Barbarian - version 2.0

Revised Monday 29 Aug 2011 -
In the science-fiction magazine Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact of January 1974, Robert A. Heinlein wrote a guest editorial, "Channel Markers", in which he discussed (among other things) the business in which he made a successful living -- writing.

He laid out this ...
 Five Rules for Success in Writing:
   First:  You must write.
   Second:  You must finish what you write.
   Third: You must refrain from rewriting except to editorial order.
   Fourth:  You must place
it on the market.
   Fifth:  You must keep it on the market until sold

I've yet to make it to Fourth and Fifth, and here I am violating the Third Rule 
(because, one of my rules - not at all original with me - is that 
   "All rules have exceptions, including this one.")

So, because I happen to feel like doing so, I'm modifying (hopefully improving) this post by adding photos (the original had none) and even some more of them "word" things (which I'll highlight by giving them a yellow backgound as I'm doing here.


(You don't have to be psychic to suspect that I checked out the new Conan movie. :-)

But this post ain't really about the new movie (of which Harry Knowles, of Ain't It Cool News, charitably said, "It doesn't entirely suck. There's some pretty cool parts"); the coolest of which is relative newcomer Jason Momoa (new to the big screen; he's done a lot of television work, most prominently in Stargate: Atlantis) as Conan.  Now, if he only had a director and writer who knew what the Hell they were doing. Here he is ...

Sadly, the glasses never made it into the movie, perhaps out of fear that people would think he was doing Conan the Librarian (Guardian of the Shelves).
  From 'Weird Al' Yankovic's UHF (1989) ...
    Timid Man: Can you tell me where I can find a book on astronomy?
    CtL: (in a thick Austrian accent while lifting the man up with his bare hands):
      "Don't you know the Dewey Decimal System?"
    Young book customer: (Whimpering before Conan slices him in half):
      "These books are a little overdue."
To Mr. Momoa: You may have missed an opportunity here.

At least, Arnold had John Milius for the 1982 version, as both writer and director.  Milius considers it his sacred duty to tell a tall story and to tell it well (in The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean (1972), before the opening title, the text scrolling up the screen said something to the effect of, "If this ain't the way it was, it's the way it should have been."), and in his Conan the Barbarian (1982), what he made was nothing less than a legend brought to life.

It took me a while to feel that way; the first time I saw it, I just considered it Ok.  But, over time, I've come to appreciate it more, and notice much more in it than appears on the surface.  I rather doubt that time will give me similar feelings about the remake.

But, my intent here is to focus more on Arnold Schwarzenegger, and that fact may cause a few of you to say "Adios!" right now;  his current problems with zipper-control, his love-child with a former mistress and the resulting break-up of his marriage making a lot of people ready to boycott absolutely anything that has anything whatever to do with him.

My focus is on his rise to stardom and on how consistently he has been underestimated on that journey.

In 2000, director George Butler appeared at the River Oaks theater, here in Houston, to present his new documentary, The Endurance (A retelling of Sir Ernest Shackleton 's ill-fated expedition to Antarctica in 1914-1916), and before taking any questions, he apologized to the audience for putting Arnold on the map with his earlier documentary Pumping Iron (1977),  about bodybuilders preparing for the 1975 Mr. Olympia and Mr. Universe contests.

Arnold featured pretty heavily in it alright, but with all due respect to Mr. Butler, he's simply full of it.  Arnold was a force of nature, and was going to put himself on the map one way or another.  George Butler just happened to be in the right place at the right time.

But, his documentary did show the determination and single-mindedness of Arnold as a competitor, with one scene showing Arnold commenting on his focus before an event,  
"If someone was to tell me that my car had been stolen, I'd just tell my secretary to call the insurance company; I can't be bothered with that just now."

And another scene with Arnold with a bunch of girls in a modeling class, not giving a damn if anyone thought it might look funny, but learning from professionals just how to pose himself most effectively to win.

Arnold had already had a few bit parts in TV and movies for several years prior to Pumping Iron and was obviously exploring career options. 

Conan the Barbarian was his first starring role, and he actually wasn't bad at all (No. I'm never gonna suggest that he should have gotten an Academy Award nomination for it, but within the limited scope of what was required here, he did Ok.)  So, here's Arnold ...
Arnold as Conan - from www.blippitt.com

There's tons of photos showing his physique, but I liked this one because of the eyes.  Momoa plays Conan with fierce exuberance, going into battle with an attitude of "This is going to be fun!".  Arnie plays him as determined, with an attitude of "God help you, if you get in my way".  Trust me, you do not want to get in his way.

Two years later, director James Cameron became perhaps the first to work out how to really use Arnold effectively in a little sci-fi masterpiece, The Terminator (1984).

He originally wanted Arnold to be the hero soldier coming back from the future to save Sarah Conner from the terminator (meant to be played by Lance Henriksen; whom you might remember as the android Bishop in Aliens).  Cameron's original idea for the terminator was someone who could blend into the crowd and come at you from nowhere.
 Lance Henriksen as the android Bishop in Aliens - from gb93.com

He wound up in a small role in The Terminator, as Police Sgt. Hal Vuckovich.  This is the guy Cameron originally had in mind to play the terminator.

But, Arnold was savvy enough to figure, "Who the Hell watches Star Wars to see Luke Skywalker?", that the terminator was who everyone would have their eyes on, and requested that role instead.  Cameron agreed (even though it blew Hell out of "blend into the crowd";  Arnie just doesn't).
 You-know-who as you-know-what - from network.nationalpost.com

Although a robot (Ok! Get it out of your system about how this makes a perfect role for Arnold), it's actually a very interesting character.  Not at all a villain;  it just has a job to do.  If you interfere, it'll swat you like a fly, but if you get the Hell out of its way, you're no longer even in its frame of reference.

I'm not really sure, but I believe it was Arnold who added a subtle touch to the actions of the terminator.  When his eyes are scanning the area around him, his head is perfectly still while the eyes move to their limits at whatever side it's checking, then the head begins to follow; a very efficient and machine-like  quality that's a bit unsettling because it's not really obvious what it is that just doesn't seem natural.

This was two years after Conan, but Arnold was still pretty new to what this business was and what it sometimes entailed.  In the DVD commentary, Arnold and director James Cameron discuss the "guerrilla" film making involved in shooting the movie;  meaning that because of time and budgetary constraints, they were more than a bit casual about getting necessary permits to shoot on the streets in various neighborhoods.

There's a scene in the movie where the terminator acquires some necessary transportation by walking up to a parked station wagon and punching through the side window with his fist to open the door and get in.

So (according to the commentary) they are set up on a side street, watching out for police cars (being in Los Angeles, the film capital of the western hemisphere, I suspect the police pay more attention to and watch out for stuff like this) and Cameron tells Arnie, "Ok, now I want you to punch your hand through that glass.", which Arnie does, not even thinking to ask, "WHAT DO YOU MEAN, PUNCH MY HAND THROUGH THE GLASS?!!!"  I suspect Arnie knows better, by now.

He learns all the time.  Early in his movie career, Roger Ebert had an interview with him, catching him with a bunch of books from night school courses where he was working on his MBA.  When asked about that, Arnold's reply was, "What's the point of having all this money if you don't know what to do with it?".

A few years after Terminator, he was in Predator (1987).  In that one, he was mostly working with other athletes and body builders, including Jesse Ventura and Sonny Landham (a story in himself; the insurance people insisting on a 24/7 bodyguard for Landham; not for his protection, but to protect other people from him; his idea of fun being starting fights in bars.).  Here's the guy we're talking about ...
 Sonny Landham as Billy, in Predator - popstar.com

I hate to confess this, but if I was in a bar and he walked in, I'd probably do my level best to not catch his attention in any way and just quietly slip outside.  The Wikipedia entry on him makes for some very interesting reading.

The most professional actors among them were veteran character actor R. G. Armstrong (who played the General that sent the group in), and Carl Weathers (better known as Apollo Creed in the "Rocky" Movies).

In the commentary on one of the DVD issues of Predator, director John McTiernan noted that when scenes were being shot that didn't involve Arnold,  instead of lounging in his trailer, he would be at the back of the set staying out of the way and just studying Carl, watching and learning from him.
Carl Weathers as Dillon in Predator, and some guy he may have unknowingly mentored.

He has a great sense of humor and an equally great sense of comic timing, but few of his attempts at comedy did well in the theaters.  Kindergarten Cop (1990) and True Lies (1994) were probably the best (and best performing) of those attempts.

So far, his most successful forays were into science-fiction, with Total Recall (1990) and Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991).

He was on his way to really becoming something, and then he took this detour into politics. Now that he's (hopefully) got that out of his system, he already has a few movie projects in the pipeline.

Don't ever underestimate this guy.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Bumper Sticker ...

... seen in Houston this morning, on a Mazda sporting Michigan license plates ...

  In 2008, you voted to prove that you weren't racist.
  In 2012, vote to prove that you're not stupid!!!

I almost never put stickers on my car, but I'll be sorely tempted if I can find this one.
(Blue, with white lettering, if anyone's seen them for sale. :-)

Friday, August 19, 2011

In a very dark place ...

... at the moment.

A little earlier today, I began constructing a draft post of "Death Sentence": a whine about how I felt that I wouldn't survive until the end of the year.

It got inadvertently (?) posted for a few seconds before I yanked it. But those few seconds were sufficient ot enshrine it on Google Reader.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

The Syfy Channel has begun to parody itself.

.. Actually, it's gone way beyond parody.

It's bad enough that it manages to get funding to produce some of the absolutely silliest and most incompetent "science-fiction" movies ever seen (the quotes are because the "science" would rattle around in a thimble), but they also fill the voids in their schedule with stuff that has no conceivable place on such a channel.

Before you reach one of the few shows I like ("Haven", for one), you are treated to "WWE Smackdown" (Wrestling, if you've never seen it - I watched wrestling on TV in the late '50s as a kid; absolutely nothing has changed - talk about remakes.).

WHAT on earth does that have to do with fantasy or science-fiction?!!!

Oh, wait.  Forget I ever asked.

Tonight, Sun 07 Aug 2011, what do I see in the lineup?

Kevin Costner's "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves".

On the Syfy Channel?!!!

(Well, for weeks now, it's been a weekend staple on BBC America;  I suppose while they're waiting for the next episodes of "Dr. Who".  Maybe that's got something to do with it.)

If this was a part of a resurrected "Mystery Science Theater 3000",  I'd be very cool with that.  The movie would be perfect source material for that crew.

But, such does not appear to be the case.  Apparently, they have a void to fill and I'm guessing this was a cheap way to do it.  They can't seriously believe that swarms of viewers will flock to it, generating enormous revenues from the commercials.

If their programming managers truly believed that, they would probably be working for the government.

Kinda says it all, doesn't it?

Seems a long time ago, but it was only back in January when Barack Obama told us that America had reached a “Sputnik moment.”  He was referring to the competition with China to be the Big Dog of the 21st century global economy,...

To encourage innovation, the government-sponsored Smithsonian Institute has launched a new blog called “Department of Innovation”.  The quote above is from their page.

As of today, Sun, 07 Aug 2001, this is their logo ...

Thank you, Michelle Malkin

Update - Sun, 14 Aug 2011 - In that version above, the gears would be completely locked up, unable to turn;  an absolutely perfect example of a government project. 

Sometime in the last few days, they fixed it by separating the two smaller gears thusly ...

Friday, August 05, 2011

The recipe for making a nuke ...

... starts out the same as the recipe for "wabbit" stew.

First:  Catch your "wabbit"!!!

Hiroshima, the atomic-bombing of which occurred 66 years ago tomorrow, was the first of a one-two punch.  It is essential to understand that it took that second blow to finally convince the Japanese (at least, most of those who counted) that it was really all over.

You see, they had engineers and physicists that knew most of what was necessary to build an atomic bomb, and what they understood most was that the resources required were staggering, almost beyond imagination.

The August 6, 1945 detonation over Hiroshima didn't phase them all that much because previous fire raids involving hundreds of B-29s had already inflicted mind-numbing horror upon other cities.  Tokyo had already had the heart burned out of it, with a lot more casualties than Hiroshima suffered

That, this time, it was only one bomb didn't impress their top military people. They were positive that there was not going to be a rain of those bombs because that would simply be impossible for us.

In a way, they were right.  Almost all of the refined Uranium U-235 that the United States possessed was used in that one bomb.  Later T-shirts showing a mushroom cloud and emblazoned, "Built in the USA by stupid lazy Americans. Tested in Japan." were dead on;  we didn't have enough U-235 to test it anywhere other than over the target.

The problem with the Japanese High Command's assumptions was that there were other ways to skin that particular cat.

U-235 is desirable because it's relatively easy to detonate; usually making a cylinder of rings with a large enough hole to keep it below critical mass, making a cylindrical plug that would fill that hole, and putting said cylinder into a tube with a small explosive charge (a gun, in other words) and firing that cylinder onto the plug.

Yes, there truly is a bit more to it than that.  But it's not my intent to give detailed bomb-making instructions here, even if I did know enough of the details.  (Not that it would do a would-be terrorist any good -- remember the first part of the recipe above.)

The problem with catching the U-235 "wabbit" is that U-235 makes up less that 1% of natural Uranium (the other 99+% percent being the U-238 isotope).  Separating that by the gaseous-diffusion method takes enormous time.  Construction of the Oak Ridge facility began in Feb, 1943 and the fact that two years later there was only enough for one bomb would seem to confirm the Japanese skepticism in thinking that with Hiroshima we just may have shot our bolt.

But, there is another way.

Uranium U-238 can be used in a reactor to produce the isotope Plutonium P-239 which can also be made to fission.  Such a reactor was built in Hanford, Washington and it could crank out a lot of usable P-239, and did.

So, what's the catch?

The "gun" detonation technique worked just fine for U-235;  so well in fact that the engineers and physicists were confident that it would work and that they wouldn't be delivering a dud for the Japanese to study at their leisure.

With U-235, I believe a closure rate of around 3000 feet/second would insure a successful detonation.  That is easily achieved in a gun design as the explosives generated an expanding wave velocity of around 5000 feet/second.

With Plutonium P-239, the fission rate is so fast that the closure needs to be around 10000 feet/second or the energy from the fission would blow the pieces apart before the detonation commences, resulting in a fizzle that might release a small cloud of some of the most lethal toxins on Earth, but not the bang you were after.

So, instead of using the gun technique, they used the much more difficult implosion method by surrounding the P-239 with explosives and detonating them at the same time;  a process using klystron krytron switching and wires to each explosive element cut to the exact same length (to allow for the speed of the signal through the wire).

In short, calling it an exacting science doesn't even begin to cover it.  It took a lot of testing to perfect the technique before they used it.

Because the explosives completely surround the Plutonium core, this resulted in a problem.

When the Enola Gay took off, with the "Little Boy" Uranium bomb, it was intended to be already armed before it was loaded into the plane.  As the B-29 was to take off from an 8500 foot runway, laden with a five-ton bomb and all the fuel that could be crammed into it, there was always the possibility of a crash on take-off (the night before, four B-29's had met that fate; this was a dangerous business).  Such a crash, with an armed nuke aboard, could take out half the island.

So, the crew decided, "No F**king Way!", and had part of the bomb's detonation package removed, to be put back (arming it) while in flight.  With the "gun" design, that was possible.

The implosion design, necessary for the Plutonium bombs, was a whole 'nother story.  The "Fat Man" bomb for Nagasaki and its follow ons could only be armed prior to loading into the airplane.

According to the book "Day One: Before Hiroshima and after" (Peter Wyden - 1985), the officer in charge of that bomb was obsessing over the number 50That's how many of those bombs the top generals in the United States Army Air Force thought it might take to compel the Japanese to surrender.  And, with Hanford cranking out P-239, there was no doubt that we could deliver that many if that's what it would take.  In fact, bomb # 3 was already on its way to Tinian.

To that officer, 50 more take-offs without a crash simply wasn't in the cards, and he would be cabling his superiors emphasizing the need for a quick redesign that would allow arming in flight.

Fortunately, that second bomb taking out Nagasaki on Aug 9, 1945 was convincing enough to bring about the surrender. (It's possible that Japanese scientists may have identified Plutonium at the Nagasaki site, telling them that the situation was far worse than any of them had assumed as to our ability to continue the attacks, but that's just a guess on my part.)

To nit-pickers:  You will almost certainly find mistakes and generalizations galore in this post.  I'm only trying to express the gist of things here.  Using any of this in a dissertation will probably get you flunked.  So, be warned. :-)

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Possibly a good movie ...

... or not.  A Tale of Two Books  --  from print to film.
(18 Sep 2011 - Updated at the very end)
(25 Sep 2011 - Final Update  - The bottom line - at the bottom of the post)

When exiting the auditorium of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2"  (yes, I am a fan; especially of the books, although the movies  have been a mixed lot), I spied the following poster on the wall ...

"Oh, Great! ...", I thought, ".... another damned remake."

Sam Peckinpah (probably best known for "The Wild Bunch") made The Killer Elite in 1975, about a group of mercenaries working for the CIA, in which one of them gets shot up and crippled in a double-cross from one of the others.  It was mostly about the revenge of that guy and was not among Peckinpah's best by a long shot; redeemed only by the presence of James Caan, Arthur Hill and Robert Duvall.

The poster above shows Jason Statham (good), Robert De Niro (promising, although he's made some weird  choices lately) and Clive Owen (whom I've liked ever since "The Bourne Identity" and "Sin City").

So far, so good.  But, what's this "Based on a true story"  business below their names?  That doesn't square with it being a remake.

Oh!  It turns out that this is not a remake of Peckinpah's film after all.  Buried in the fine print is "Based on "The Feather Men" by Sir Ranulph Fiennes".

WHOA!!!  Now, it's really starting to look interesting.  I have that book ...

Right there, on the back, you can read why I'm intrigued.

What made me pick up the book in the first place was the name "Fiennes" at the bottom of the cover, wondering if he was related to Ralph ("Rafe", as the Welsh pronounce it -- or so I've been told) Fiennes, whom I first saw as the camp commandant in "Schindler's List", and has lately been Lord Voldemort in the Harry Potter movies.

It turns out that Sir Ranulph (God only knows how that  is pronounced;  "Ran" said to go with the "obvious" pronunciation) is a second cousin, a Polar explorer and mountain climber, and a lot of other things.

From the Trivia section on his Internet Movie DataBase (IMDB) page ...

Born posthumously 7 March 1944.  His father had been Colonel of Royal Scots Greys Regiment.   Fiennes joined the same regiment, and after blowing up the Doctor Dolittle (1967) film set as a prank, left for two more years in the Omani Army. (You might want to keep the "prank"  part in mind on his advice as to how to pronounce his name. :-)

He was in the running to be the next James Bond after Sean Connery. He was in the last six and had a meeting with Mr Broccoli 
(Albert "Cubby" Broccoli owned the film rights and was the producer) but unfortunately Cubby said his hands were too big and he had a face like a farmer!

He suffered a heart attack, Britain's biggest killer, on June 7 2003. Shortly after recovering, he ran seven marathons in seven days on six continents.

   26th October: Patagonia, S. America
   27th October: Falkland Islands
   28th October: Sydney, Australia 
   29th October: Singapore, Asia 
   31st October: London, Europe 
   31st October: Cairo, Africa 
   2nd November: New York, North America

That picture above is from this  article: Fiennes relishes marathon feat.  The article actually says seven continents, but they must have attached the Falklands to Antarctica to pull that off.

Climbed Mount Everest on the 21 May 2009 after his third attempt.
The damned kid is two years younger than I am, so I'm not jealous of him climbing that mountain while I sometimes have difficulty even walking out to the car.  I'm not.  I'M REALLY NOT!!! :(

In short, one Hell of an interesting guy, and worthy of a movie just about him.

A damned fine writer as well; he writes a gripping tale of the events in the book that's supposedly the basis for this movie.

So, why the "... or not." in the first line of my post?

From a synopsis on the IMDB (Internet Movie DataBase) ...
When his mentor (Robert De Niro) is taken captive, a retired member of Britain's Elite Special Air Service (Jason Statham) is forced into action. His mission: kill three assassins dispatched by their cunning leader (Clive Owen).

... which makes me feel that somebody went and paid good money for the rights to a book, chose not to use its title, and then jettisoned most of the story.  Wouldn't be the first time by a long shot, and I've ceased to wonder what goes on in the minds of people who make those kind of decisions.

Because of the three leads, I'll almost certainly check it out, but at present, my feelings are frankly a mixture of anticipation and dread.

You see, this ain't the first time I've been down this particular road.

Around the end of 2001,  I came across a poster for this  ...

Somewhere in the fine print (of the original poster in the theater) is
   "Based on "Taming The Nueces Strip" by George Durham"

Do I also have that book?  What a silly question. ...

A long time ago, when I lived in Michigan, I came across a copy at one of my favorite used-book stores, The Curious Book Shop in East Lansing (they are still in business; I just looked).

This book is still in print, from the University of Texas Press, and of course from Amazon.com (if they don't have something, it probably doesn't even exist).

It is primarily the story of a Georgia farm boy's experience of serving with the Texas Rangers during the period of 1875 and 1876, under the command of Captain Leander H. McNelly, in an outlaw-infested region known as the Nueces Strip.

When Texas was the Mexican state of Tejas, it was separated from Coahuila by the Nueces River, which ran down to the Gulf of Mexico at Corpus Christi.

After Texas won its Independence in 1836, it claimed land down to the Rio Grande River, establishing its border there.  That claim was upheld by the United States when Texas allowed itself to be annexed to the U.S. in 1845, but Mexico repudiated that claim and tried to treat that part of the state as its own, resulting in the Mexican-American War.

The area between the two rivers (the Nueces Strip) became a magnet for local desperadoes, and for cattle thieves from Mexico trying to liberate what they referred to as "Grandma's cattle".

It didn't help things much that the aftermath of the Civil War left most of the Southern states (including Texas) in an unholy, anarchistic mess.  To deal with that, in 1875 newly elected Governor Richard Coke created a special force within the Rangers, to be commanded by McNelly, and tasked with cleaning up the Nueces Strip.

He had some imaginative (but direct) approaches to the problem, as illustrated after a Mexican bandit gang had made a raid on a store in Nuecestown, a bit northwest of Corpus Christi.  Among the things they took were ...

eighteen brand-new Dick Heye saddles, which were what you'd now call the Cadillacs of the saddle world. They were heavily studded with silver conchos in a pattern that you could tell half a mile away, a fact that proved to be the death warrant for many a man.

McNelly was very interested in those saddles.  Upon learning from the store owner that he had some more on order, but they weren't in yet, he studied a moment, and then told him:

"When they come, don't sell a one until I tell you differently."  He turned to Sergeant Armstrong and ordered, "Describe those saddles to the Rangers.  Make sure they understand exactly.  Then order them to empty those saddles on sight!  No palavering with the riders.  Empty them!  Leave the men where you drop them, and bring the saddles to camp."

Among other things on his plate was also dealing with anglo outlaws;  in particular one John "King" Fisher, a friend of John Wesley Hardin and a guy who casually wandered back and forth on both sides of the law, and may have even been responsible for one of the earliest road signs in Texas -- where a road split into two directions,  on one a sign nailed to a tree warned,
   "This is King Fisher's road.
    Take the other."

He was a cattle rancher and also (sometimes) a cattle rustler as well.  Certainly an outlaw by definition, but sometimes also The Law (serving as a sheriff several times), meeting his end by being gunned down, along with his friend Ben Thompson (yet another "been there and done that" as both outlaw and law officer, born in England; his family emigrating to Austin, Texas when he was a kid) in an ambush at the Vaudeville Theatre in San Antonio, Texas in 1884.

A very multi-layered man, he was reduced in the movie to a ruthless killer and nothing more, going out in a blaze of gunfire from the Rangers.  Not a bit of subtlety left and not even Alfred Molina could do anything with the role to make it interesting (and that's saying something, given that Molina is an amazingly good actor;  you'd just never know it from this example).

I truly believe that there is one Hell of a fine movie waiting to be made from this book, but "Texas Rangers" just ain't it. The only things the book and movie have in common are a few names, and that's it.

Look for the book, and don't waste even a dollar on renting the movie.

Whether "Killer Elite" gets as badly mangled remains to be seen, but you should understand now if I'm leery of getting my hopes up too much.

Update - 18 Sep 2011 - When I'm intrigued by a movie, I do my level best to avoid reviews of it before I see it. I accidentally came across a blurb about "Killer Elite" saying that Robert De Niro's performance is much like what he did in "Ronin", Statham is, well, Statham; a force of nature, and that Clive Owen is in full "Sin City" mode here.

Ok! That last part settles it; I am definitely going to give it a look.

Final Update - 25 Sep 2011 - That IMDB synopsis I quoted, way up above, is very misleading, as are some of the trailers for this movie.

While technically accurate, because of cutting, you aren't seeing what you think you are seeing in those trailers.  I recognized quite a bit from the original story, but they made some major spins to certain events and characters (big surprise there, right?).

Biggest surprise to me (as a purist who usually hates changes from book to movie) was how much I liked the result;  probably because of absolutely first-rate work by Statham, De Niro and Owen.

Bottom line:  Amazingly Good!


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