Kevin Costner

Kevin Costner in DRAFT DAY

Meatballs, Stripes, Ghostbusters and Dave are four of Ivan Reitman‘s films that have stood the test of time. When Reitman was on top of his game, the now 67-year-old filmmaker hit grand slams. I’m not using these sports metaphors because his latest film, Draft Day, includes the NFL Draft, but because, like athletes, some directors have hot streaks and cold streaks. For an array of reasons, slumps happen. Reitman’s lasted 18 years. After Dave he directed Junior, Father’s Day, Evolution, My Super Ex-Girlfriend, and Six Days, Seven Nights. A few of those films had glimmers of hope that Reitman hadn’t lost his touch, but during those years, only as a producer was he making quality movies. People generally focus on the films that proceeded Dave, not Old School, Up in the Air,  I Love You, Man and Private Parts, and one of those acclaimed films he came close to directing. “It was stupid,” Reitman says, on why he didn’t direct Private Parts himself. “I was doing three movies at once: Space Jam, which I was sort of directing, but I wasn’t officially directing; Father’s Day, which I shouldn’t have directed, because we never got the script right; and Private Parts. Private Parts was the one I gave up, and I shouldn’t have.”

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Draft Day Movie

Anyone who follows sports knows that being a fan of the Cleveland Browns can be a heartbreaking endeavor. Of all the teams in the NFL, the Browns seem to pull the short straw the most. They have never been to the Super Bowl, let alone won the big game. (Of course, any good Browns fan will tell you that they won plenty of national championships in the 50s and 60s before the creation of the Super Bowl, but that only makes it sting a little less.) Sure, three other teams share this distinction with the Cleveland Browns, but two of them were recent expansion teams (the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Houston Texans). The other is the Detroit Lions, and that city gets more bad press than Cleveland. (Sorry, Detroit.) Having a go at Cleveland teams and their often unfortunate records has become a bit of a tradition in Hollywood. Back in 1989, the film Major League poked some fun at the then-terrible Cleveland Indians, seeing the team fictionally win the pennant. Now, cinema history seems to be repeating itself with the film Draft Day, in which Kevin Costner plays the general manager who tries to wheel and deal a winning team during the NFL draft. Though it may be a bit more Moneyball than Major League for football, Draft Day is striking a chord with Cleveland fans. As one die-hard Browns fan said to me at my press screening for the film, “Yeah, it’s fictional, but this may be the […]

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Kevin Costner and Jennifer Garner in DRAFT DAY

It’s NFL draft time, and the Cleveland Browns’ general manager Sonny Weaver (Kevin Costner) is in a tight spot. The pressure is on from the public, the team’s owner (Frank Langella), the coach (Denis Leary) and the rest of the organization to build the best team possible. He manages the unthinkable early on and gets his team the first pick, but it was a panicked move that actually does more harm than good. Now he’s on the clock and running out of time — it’s the ninth inning, he’s in the end zone, and there’s blood on the ice —  oh, and his girlfriend (Jennifer Garner) just told him that she’s pregnant. This is the kind of crazy day that can only fully be captured with split screens. Lots and lots of split screens. Thankfully director Ivan Reitman is happy to oblige. It’s almost as if he just discovered the technology or is trying to win a contest. Draft Day is a poor man’s Moneyball in the sense that the screenwriters probably watched Moneyball at some point and thought to themselves “what if a rogue personality went against the grain to build their, wait for it, football team?” In addition to changing sports though they also swapped statistics and logic for gut instinct and contrivance, replaced character depth with daddy issues and removed any semblance of dramatic suspense by setting the story entirely on one day and off the field.

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mcg shooting 3 days to kill

Imagine a med student with orange dreadlocks down to his ass during the early 1990s. Do you have that horrifying mental image yet? Any takers on who that now-famous man might be? That’s right, it’s Joseph McGinty Nichol from Kalamazoo, Michigan. Like plenty of driven young filmmakers, Nichol one day dropped out of school, packed his things and moved to Hollywood. Without any connections, he pushed his way into the industry with the help of a pizza delivery service. He put a copy of one of his music videos in a pizza box and had it delivered to an executive, who was tickled enough to give it a watch. That box of pizza gave birth to the man we all now know as McG, the director behind Charlie’s Angels, We Are Marshall, Terminator Salvation and his newest film, 3 Days to Kill. Nichol has had that nickname ever since he was a kid. In some ways, it is representative of his career: a little silly, but self-aware and unapologetic. “It’s never been fun to critically praise a ‘McG movie,’” he jokes. “It even begins with my ridiculous name. My name is who I am. My movies seem to further that difficulty. I try for drama, humor and action and yet try to make well-rounded movies.” General audience members could care less about Nichol’s nickname, but it’s turned him into a punching bag on the Internet, for both fanboys and, sometimes, critics.

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3 days to kill 21

One of the first things answered in 3 Days to Kill is that this isn’t in fact a Taken retread. Maybe it’s a parody of the Liam Neeson-starring action movie — self-parody given that both movies are written and produced by Luc Besson — but the tone is surprisingly closer to the delectably cartoonish hitman movie Shoot ‘Em Up mixed with the frustratingly dumb fourth and fifth Die Hard installments. With bits of The Visitor thrown in for pretty much no reason at all. It is a bizarrely stylish yet broadly comic pulp thriller more interested in the familiar trope of an absent father trying to reconnect with his estranged teenage daughter than the spy plot it’s primarily sold on. In playing with genre and narrative expectations the movie becomes extremely silly, maybe intentionally so, but also filled with plot holes and unanswered questions — also maybe intentionally without concern. If Besson does mean to make fun of what he’s been doing with the Taken franchise (and maybe some of his early success with action heroines) the result is quite cheeky but still rather unmemorable considering we’ll still always favor Neeson and his very particular set of skills to Kevin Costner and his overly non-particular talent as the best worst (or worst best) cleaner for the CIA. This may be the kind of movie that doesn’t warrant going over unanswered questions, especially if the filmmakers meant for little thinking on their or our part at all, but below I’ve highlighted […]

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3 Days to Kill Review

14 years ago McG successfully transitioned from music videos to film with Charlie’s Angels, but his films that followed varied in quality. For the most part, he’s tagged with the less-than-flattering title of a “hack.” A director only invested in a buck wouldn’t have made We Are Marshall, but there’s no denying he generally aims for a broad audience. Sometimes that means he make the most obvious choices instead of the most inspired, but the same cannot be said for his newest movie, 3 Days to Kill. Screenwriters Luc Besson and Adi Hasak have finally given McG a well-rounded script to bring to life. 3 Days to Kill is mostly lean, often funny, and its central character, Ethan Renner (Kevin Costner), is a respectable addition to Besson’s long line of bad-asses. Ethan is a top operative ready to quit so he can have more time with his wife (Connie Nielsen) and his estranged daughter, Zoey (Hailee Steinfield). His plans hit a snag though when he discovers he’s dying. The only way he can buy more time is by taking an experimental drug, offered by Vivi Delay (Amber Heard), in exchange for his services. So, yes, this is another “one last job” and father-daughter issues action movie.

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If in the past few weeks, you’ve gone to the movies, watched TV, surfed the internet, or tried to divine the future from a mug of tea leaves, you’ve probably seen Kevin Costner‘s face. That guy is everywhere. Seriously. Costner went from an infrequent film actor and a guy whose glory days seemed almost certainly behind him, to an actor with no less than five major films coming out in 2014 alone. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. 3 Days to Kill. Draft Day. Black and White. McFarland. Every one releases this year, and of the five, Jack Ryan is the only one where Costner isn’t in the lead role. So if you’re seeing movies, you’re seeing Costner. If you’re watching TV, you’re watching ads for Costner. And if you’re online, you’ve no doubt come across at least one of these articles, all with the same general thesis:

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Jack_Ryan_Shadow_Recruit_Trust

The thing that separates Jack Ryan movies from the James Bonds and the Mission: Impossibles and the Bournes, etc., is that Ryan is an analyst for the CIA. That means they should be smarter than your average spy thriller. Sometimes they’re at least as smart. However, the latest, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, is one of the dumbest, more cliched entries of the genre. It’s an embarrassment of plotting and exposition, with so many instances of presumed circumstances that fortuitously turn out to happen that it may as well be called “Jack Ryan: Lucky Duck.” To put it in modern context, it’s like a bad episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. yet has a lot less interest in characters and the logical choices they’d make. Questions I had leftover at the end of Shadow Recruit may be explained in Tom Clancy’s Ryan novels, but that shouldn’t matter. This isn’t even an adaptation so much as an “original” story inspired by those books and featuring a character with the same name. I wouldn’t be surprised if fans of Clancy find it no more a true Ryan installment than Die Hard fans found A Good Day to Die Hard recognizable as a movie fitting into that series. Feel free to give me clarification or suggestion of an answer to any of these, and remember that, though it should be obvious, this post is full of SPOILERS if you haven’t yet seen the movie.

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JACK RYAN- SHADOW RECRUIT

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit isn’t an action movie. Sir Kenneth Branagh‘s reboot of the Tom Clancy-based franchise is a straight-up thriller, and that’s an important distinction to make. The film may have a globetrotting story, which goes from New York to Moscow, but Branagh’s set pieces are all contained, even the motorcycle chase at the very end. If you counted the amount of bullets fired in this movie, it would be drastically less than most spy thrillers. That fact likely spoke to Branagh, who was more invested in Jack Ryan’s quick thinking than the character’s skills in combat. If you asked him about Thor a few years ago, he would’ve expressed more interest in the themes of brotherhood than Thor swinging his hammer around. Branagh has always been a character-driven filmmaker. When you make a juicy four-hour version of Hamlet, you have to be. Everything from that Shakespeare adaptation to even Peter’s Friends seems to play a part in Branagh’s blockbuster filmmaking. The director and co-star (he plays the Russian villain, Viktor) recently discussed his progression towards tentpole filmmaking with us, along with the excitement and education that comes with it.

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waterworldtruth-2

As the year comes to a close, many people are assembling their best and worst of the year lists. This can also inspire people to look back at some of the best and worst of previous years. While Kevin Costner’s infamous 1995 box office behemoth Waterworld is fondly remembered by some (evidenced by the possibly surprising RottenTomatoes score of 43%), most people remember it for its cost overruns and ballooning budget that threatened to break Universal’s bank. (Spoiler alert: Even though Waterworld was famous for its massive budget that wasn’t even remotely recouped at the U.S. box office, it eventually broke even with international numbers, home video sales, and other ancillary revenue streams.) I fall in the column of people who thought the film was a bit of a turkey. Sure, it was impressive in some respects, but the story and characters weren’t enough to keep me interested. There was also this little thing called “science” that bothered me throughout the film. This wasn’t a sticking point for other famous flops from the 90s like Cutthroat Island, The 13th Warrior, and Costner’s other albatross The Postman. Those really weren’t science fiction per se. But Waterworld was. And looking back almost twenty years, that got me thinking: How realistic were the events of Waterworld?

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3 days

As the old saying goes: the more Kevin Costner, the better. At least that’s what the saying should be, as Costner brought a ton of heart to Man of Steel and will soon appear in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. It’s unclear whether he will get to smack some thugs around in that movie, and if that’s not the case, he’ll have the opportunity to do so a month later in 3 Days to Kill. Costner plays Ethan Runner, a dying ex-secret service agent who, in service for one last mast mission, is handed an experimental drug that’ll give him more time with his estranged daughter (Hailee Steinfeld). Since the movie is directed by McG and co-written by Luc Besson (The Fifth Element), it’s not as serious as it sounds. The first trailer for the film gives a clear sense of what they’re aiming for. Take a look:

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JACK RYAN

Fathers everywhere may have lost their favorite novelist recently with the passing of author Tom Clancy, but the man left a multitude of parting gifts on his way out the door. At least two new Clancy-branded videogames hit shelves in a couple months, and his most memorable fictional character is getting a big screen reboot. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit brings the famed C.I.A. analyst back to his rookie days and his first real adventure after he discovers a Russian plot to upend the U.S. economy through deadly terrorist attacks. This is the first of the Ryan films to not be based on one of Clancy’s novels, and that’s fitting as it’s once again an attempt at building a future franchise for the character. Chris Pine, already no stranger to franchise characters previously played by others, steps into the title role and follows in the big footsteps of Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford, and Ben Affleck. This is particularly impressive for an actor of Pine’s miniature stature (see above). Check out the first trailer for Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit below.

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horovitz

What is Casting Couch? It’s a daily news column that compiles the biggest casting scoops from all around the Internet. Today’s edition is absolutely bursting with news, so let’s jump right in. Due to his being a member of The Beastie Boys, Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz is a legend in the rap game. Many don’t know that he has a little bit of a history in the acting world though. Of course, many don’t know that because his career consisted of a couple small roles in the late 80s and early 90s, and then he seemed to forget about his little hobby. The Wrap has a report that Horovitz might soon be making a big acting comeback though, because apparently he’s in talks to join Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts in Noah Baumbach’s (Frances Ha) next film, While We’re Young. In it Horovitz would be playing a new father who can no longer relate to Stiller and Watts’ characters because they don’t have kids, which is pretty much the most frightening notion ever for those of us who remember Ad-Rock as being a beer-swilling teenager on MTV’s spring break.

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cage

What is Casting Couch? It’s a gathering together of the industry’s casting news, a collection of that last little bit of work agents are doing before they abandon their desks for the extended holiday weekend. Today we’ve got new Woody Allen players, new Beach Boys, and new jobs for Mary Elizabeth Winstead. A deal is currently on the table that may lead to Nic Cage starring in director Terry Zwigoff’s (Bad Santa) next sure-to-be-crude film. The project is called Lost Melody, and if the negotiations with Cage go well it will see him playing a man who decides to give up hope regarding his shrew wife in order to fall in love with a prostitute (that old mid-life crisis cliche again?). Zwigoff co-wrote the script with Melissa Axelrod, who seems to have worked doing odd jobs for the director going all the way back to Crumb. [The Wrap]

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Man of Steel

We first meet Kal-El exiting his mother’s alien vagina. It’s no different from an Earth woman’s vagina aside from, presumably, its reinforced structural walls, but the birth is of extreme importance on the dying planet of Krypton. The infant’s father, Jor-El (Russell Crowe), has accused Kryptonian politicians of dooming the planet and its people through short-sightedness and ignorance. General Zod (Michael Shannon) agrees with Jor-El, but instead of talking it out with those in power, he orchestrates a violent coup to seize control. It’s amid the ensuing chaos, both natural and man-made, that the baby boy is shipped off to Earth. More than two decades later Clark Kent (Henry Cavill) is a quiet loner, traveling the world anonymously in search of answers to who he really is and performing amazing feats of rescue along the way. His lack of identity never gets in the way of his desire to help people, but when an alien ship is discovered frozen beneath the ice, his curiosity triggers a chain reaction of events that provides him with answers while simultaneously leading to the brink of mankind’s destruction. Man of Steel is every inch a Zack Snyder/Christopher Nolan production, and there’s both good and bad in that statement. Snyder’s directorial hand ensures the film is a visual powerhouse filled with real spectacle while Nolan uses his producer powers to find the traditionally bright and colorful superhero’s darker, grittier and more angst-ridden tones, but they also bring with them a shared preference of imagery and […]

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costnerdrunk

What is Casting Couch? It’s a gathering together of casting news from all across the Internet. Today we finally, finally know who Disney has cast as the lead of their new version of Cinderella. It seems like just yesterday Kevin Costner was playing sleazy baseball players and checking little girls for tattoos of the map to dry land, but now he’s going to be a grandfather. Deadline is reporting that the veteran actor is all set to re-team with his Upside of Anger director, Mike Binder, to star in a new film called Black and White. The story will see Costner’s character taking care of his bi-racial granddaughter after both his daughter and his wife die due to tragic accidents. If all of that isn’t already bad enough, more trouble comes along when the baby’s paternal grandmother comes along and wants to take the kid away from him. Sounds like he’s going to have to lay on some of that patented Costner charm to get through this one.

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Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Today was basically Godzilla day on the Internet. All sorts of news regarding Legendary Pictures’ reboot of the big green guy’s film series broke, and some of it involves casting. THR broke the news that Joseph Gordon-Levitt was being looked at to star, but one of their writers, Borys Kit, was then quick to point out that his potential involvement in the film is long dead. Variety writer Justin Kroll then jumped in with the news that a few names that are still possibilities for the project are Henry Cavill, Scoot McNairy, and Caleb Landry Jones. All of this news comes with a special thanks to /Film, who compiled all the chatter into a tight little narrative. Even though things between Gordon-Levitt and Godzilla didn’t work out, don’t let that make you think that he’s going to go an entire week without being attached to a high profile project. In more Gordon-Levitt news, Deadline has word that the in-demand actor has just signed on to play a big role in Robert Rodriguez‘s Sin City sequel, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For. Apparently he’s going to be playing Johnny, a role that was meant to go to Johnny Depp at one point, and that is said to be a core character in the overlapping parts of the film’s story lines. This comes at the same time as news that Gordon-Levitt’s possible involvement in Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy isn’t going to end up happening, which is essential information if you happen to be exhaustively journaling all […]

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Jackie Chan

What is Casting Couch? It’s a column that has a lot of new casting news today, so settle in. Even after only two movies, the number of aged action stars who have yet to appear in Sylvester Stallone’s Expendables series has dwindled down to a select few. So, given his age, his lengthy resume, and the way he’s linked almost exclusively to the action genre, Jackie Chan has to be seen as one of the biggest fish out there that Stallone has yet to catch. It looks like that’s going to change in The Expendables 3, however, as Chan has told Cinema Online [via Coming Soon] that Stallone has invited him to join the cast of the film, and he has agreed to appear as long as it’s in a featured part and not just a cameo. Looks like we might finally get our chance to see Dolph Lundgren get beat up with a ladder.

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What is Casting Couch? It’s starting to wonder how many times Hugh Jackman can play Wolverine before his sideburns start to stick that way. Hot on the heels of the announcement that the original Professor X and Magneto, Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen, would be joining Bryan Singer’s X-Men: First Class sequel, X-Men: Days of Future Past, comes word that yet another actor from the original X-Men trilogy, Hugh Jackman, is also negotiating. This makes sense, of course, because Jackman’s brief cameo in First Class was the first indication we got that Matthew Vaughn’s reboot and Singer’s original films might actually exist in the same universe. Now that Singer has Stewart, McKellen, and Jackman on board, the only other actors he needs to poach from those first X-Men movies is…well, no one. It’s kind of amazing how well those movies cast these three guys and how poorly they cast every single other character. Hopefully this is the end of the colliding of worlds. [THR]

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Whoever Kevin Costner‘s agent is deserves the most ostentatious, wallet-busting, heart attack-inducing gift basket on the planet because they are working hard for the money. Let’s recap. Costner, who, as of a year or so ago, everyone had pretty much sort of forgotten about other than to mention in passing, “oh, yeah, Kevin Costner, I liked that guy” came smashing back into the collective Hollywood consciousnesses with last summer’s rumor that he would co-star in Django Unchained (though that proved fruitless), used that zing to get cast in Man of Steel, then grabbed an Emmy-winning role in Hatfields & McCoys, a major part in Jack Ryan, and a starring role in McG’s next thriller. Is Costner done yet? Not by a mile. Vulture reports (via The Playlist) that Costner will now topline Ivan Reitman‘s Draft Day, an NFL-centric film that follows the manager of the Buffalo Bills (Costner’s new role) on one heck of a day: the day he’s trying to land the number one draft pick in order to make all sorts of nutty trades, made all the more complicated by personal drama (you know, draft day). Sounds fun and all, but now it seems like Draft Day may have another feather in its cap, and not just of the Costner variety.

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published: 04.19.2014
A-
published: 04.19.2014
B+
published: 04.18.2014
C-
published: 04.18.2014
C

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