Mark Wahlberg

Mark Wahlberg in The Gambler

Last year Mark Wahlberg was on a roll. He showed he hadn’t lost any of his comedic chops from I Heart Huckabees in his comically sincere work in Pain & Gain and he delivered a refreshingly unshowy performance in Lone Survivor. What followed those two performances, which displayed what a wide-range he has, was Transformers: Age of Extinction, where Wahlberg played a Texan with a slippery Boston accent. After recently trying to revisit that film — which I gave up on 20 minutes into its 20 hour hour running time — it became noticeably clear that, strangely, Wahlberg isn’t really an action star. He undoubtably has the presence for those roles, but when you look at his track record in the genre — Max Payne, Planet of the Apes, and more — he never delivers the caliber of performances we know he’s capable of. Of course that kind of material generally doesn’t offer the juiciest of characters, but nonetheless, it’s rarely a role he seems comfortable in. Where Wahlberg seems at home is in this red band trailer for The Gambler. The actor plays Jim Bennett, an English professor with a serious gambling problem. Wahlberg is stepping in the shoes of James Caan, who played the lead role 40 years ago in Karel Reisz’s original film.

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Morgan Freeman Laughing

In casting news that really makes you think about the significance of life on this big blue rock hurtling through space we call our world, Morgan Freeman has signed on for a “juicy role” in Seth MacFarlane‘s much-anticipated sequel to Ted, according to Variety. The aptly named Ted 2 will again be scripted and directed by MacFarlane, who will also return to voice the pesky little teddy bear with the loudest mouth. The details of the plot are scarce for the time being, but Freeman was apparently sought for his role — which makes sense, because if you’re going to attempt to go big you might as well go all the way to the top and fight for someone like Freeman. MacFarlane has been searching for high-profile celebrities to nail down supporting roles and cameos (still uncasted) to join the film and step out of their comfort zone for some gross-out humor and casual conversation with a talking teddy bear. What’s clear at this point is that the actor will play an “iconic” civil rights lawyer who steps into the mix when Ted lands himself in some legal trouble that needs to be resolved. To accompany Freeman, several members of the original cast will return, including Mark Wahlberg and frequent MacFarlane collaborator Patrick Warburton. The former starred as Ted’s best friend and partner in crime, John, who wished for the toy to come to life when he was a child and had the wish fulfilled during a particularly generous falling star. 

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Mark Wahlberg in Age of Extinction

It should be no surprise to anyone that there’s a BP oil spill movie in development. It’s primo subject material in that it hits all the necessary check marks for any “based on a true story” event movie. It’s timely – it was a mere four years ago the Deepwater Horizon oil rig blew, seeping a small ocean of oil into the Gulf. It’s exciting – the spill first stemmed from an explosion, which certainly perked up Hollywood’s ears — if Hollywood is a sucker for one thing, it’s non-fiction violence. Exhibit A through E: Twelve Years a Slave, The Hurt Locker, Titanic, Braveheart and Schindler’s List. It’s just as relevant today as it was in 2010 – did you know that the plugged-up well may still be leaking oil into the Atlantic? Deepwater Horizon already has its director in J.C. Chandor (All is Lost) and screenwriter in Matthew Michael Carnahan (World War Z) and what it’s just gained according to Deadline is a potential star in Mark Wahlberg who’s now in negotiations to play the Deepwater Horizon’s number two manager. The man fought to save lives while everything in his general vicinity was covered in crude oil and also on fire. Classic Wahlberg.

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Mark Wahlberg in Age of Extinction

Nobody was waiting to see how Transformers: Age of Extinction performed before deciding to do a fifth movie. Paramount knew it would wind up with the best opening of 2014, even if they had to allegedly lie about just how much it earned. The studio had previously announced Transformers 5 would arrive in 2016, and although that too might be a lie, the point is that it will be made. The question is, what more is there to do with the franchise? Could Chicago take a third beating? Will Mark Wahlberg return, and will his character, Cade Yeager, be able to continue being humorously amazed at finding Transformers and infinite-ammo space guns and other alien technology he wants to hypocritically steal and patent for himself? We aren’t even certain that Michael Bay is returning, though it is likely he’ll be back at the helm, more so if Paramount lets him do another “small” movie, a la Pain & Gain, beforehand. The problem for the studio would be that allowing Bay the passion project definitely means they’d be off track for an opening two years from now. If only there was a way for both sides to get what they want. Well, I think I have a solution for that compromise: Bay should make Transformers 5 his “small” movie.

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Transformers Age of Extinction

 The Transformers franchise has never been about humans – or, at least, it’s never been about Michael Bay’s on-screen humans, who have now proven to be wholly interchangeable even after a seemingly complete trilogy of films. Bay has restarted his weirdest franchise (sorry, Bad Boys, you’re just not strange enough) with Transformers: Age of Extinction, a final-sounding feature (what could possibly come after extinction? Bay’s answer is, of course, at least two other films) that abandons both the human characters that populated the first trilogy and the upbeat conclusion that seemingly wrapped it all up in satisfying fashion. Set four years after the battle of Chicago (billboards declare “REMEMBER CHICAGO!” in locales as far away as Texas), Age of Extinction picks up in a world still reeling from the revelation that there are aliens in the universe who are so technologically advanced that they can turn into vending machines at will (oh, and who can also kill without prejudice). Inventor Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg) doesn’t seem too put out by the news that we’re not alone in the galaxy – he’s too busy trying to program robots that can deliver beers, keeping his teen daughter Tessa (Nicola Peltz) from the opposite sex (like her secret boyfriend Shane, Jack Reynor), bilking his only employee (T.J. Miller) out of his cash and pretending he’s from Texas. The Yeagers may be rich in big ideas, but they’re poor in their bank accounts, so Cade and Tessa need something major to happen in order […]

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Paramount Pictures

There was a question for a brief while as to whether or not director Michael Bay would return to the Transformers franchise he helped create once the initial trilogy was complete. The answer came fairly quickly after his critically successful but lowest grossing film yet, Pain & Gain, came and went at the box office last year. The third film’s $1B+ haul probably had something to do with his return as well, but all of that is filler. Bring on the transforming metallic creatures! Transformers: Age of Extinction features a world where mankind has turned its back on the intergalactic visitors who’ve saved our asses three times now. An Earth without space-born threats is an Earth without a need for Transformers apparently, so our friends Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Snake Eyes, El Beardo, Yellow Stream, Racist Caricature, Ricardo Montalban and others are scattered and in hiding. An all-American farmer (Mark Wahlberg) finds Prime rotting in a junkyard, and soon the semi, the farmer and his “hot” daughter are racing to save the world from Stanley Tucci. I may need to watch the trailer again.

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transformers-age-of-extinction

Perhaps casually tossing the word “extinction” into the subtitle of a blockbuster franchise that was once presumed dead (victorious in death, but still dead in theory!) is a bad idea. The (presumably) first film in Michael Bay’s recently relaunched Transformers franchise is set to hit theaters this summer, and the series is starting to go great guns on this marketing thing, launching a full-scale trailer attack during yesterday’s dismal Super Bowl. While the game may have disappointed, the first trailer for Transformers: Age of Extinction actually looked quite good (well, it does look like a Transformers trailer, but a good one in the context of things), and it featured the arrival of some robotic, transform-y new characters that might just save this whole outing (sorry, Mark Wahlberg). The Dinobots are here! In the Transformers universe (where, yes, we’re betting Shia LaBeouf actually is still famous), the Dinobots are Autobots whose transformational mode makes them appear to be dinosaurs or similarly prehistoric beasts. Basically, no, they are not turning into planes, trains, or automobiles. Dinobots also get to bot out, thanks to their ability to fight in “robot mode” (much like evil Decepticons). Despite being Autobots by nature and literal design (the original origin story for the Dinobots actually holds that they were built by Wheeljack and Ratchet on Earth), they tend to be independent and interested in their own pursuits and aims. They are wild cards. And they are also dinosaurs that are also robots that are also born from […]

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lone

Editor’s note: Our review of Lone Survivor originally ran during last year’s AFI Fest, but we’re re-posting it now as the film opens tomorrow in wide release. Director Peter Berg made a massive misstep with 2012’s Battleship. There was a decent ninety-minute popcorn movie buried underneath all the bloat, but worst of all, it had no personality. It didn’t feel like a movie Berg had to make. Not every movie has to be a serious passion project, but when the passion is onscreen, it speaks volumes. That theory is proven well by Berg’s latest film, Lone Survivor, his best film since The Rundown. The true life story follows, if you haven’t guessed yet, a lone survivor, Marcus Luttrell (Mark Wahlberg). You could consider that a spoiler, but the movie opens with the rescue of Luttrell. It’s a questionable creative decision because a good deal of filmgoers will discover Luttrell’s journey with this film, but then it becomes more a matter of how Luttrell got there rather than who survived. Berg goes about introducing Luttrell and his team — Matt Axelson (Ben Foster), Mike Murphy (Taylor Kitsch), and Danny Dietz (Emile Hirsch) — with the standard camaraderie and exposition that’s expected. It’s a fine set-up, but it’s forgotten once the four of them are thrust into battle, where we learn more about them through action.

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JACK RYAN

This dreaded dump month is only going to look worse considering all the terrific December releases we just saw: Martin Scorsese, Spike Jonze, and the Coen Brothers’s three incredible films; Ron Burgundy’s hilarious return; and David O. Russell‘s pretty good movie. Even with 47 Ronin kind of stinking up the joint, it couldn’t ruin last month’s holiday filmgoing spirit. December ended a satisfying year on a tremendous note. Of course the start of 2014 can’t live up to all those award contenders, not even with I, Frankenstein going to bat for it. Frankenstein’s monster turned pretty boy action hero should at the very least give us something to talk about, but if the trailers are any fair indication, I, Frankenstein is not one of the five must see movies of the month.

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sloan-28-1024

Entourage gets a lot of flack around the Internet. There’s a lot of talk about how it was just empty escapism, the chance to vicariously live a disgustingly decadent Hollywood lifestyle through its characters for a half hour a week. There’s a lot of criticism about how the show told the same stupid story over and over again, where it looked like the Vincent character (Adrian Grenier) might not do a movie, but then his buddies eventually convince him to do the movie, so then everyone can continue being rich and happy. Heck, people even like to throw around terms like “douchebag” and “bro” when describing the tone of the show. It’s not exactly the best thing HBO has produced, according to most TV/movie geeks. The fact is that a bunch of norms really did like the show though, seeing as it lasted for a ridiculous eight seasons, so even though an Entourage movie is a real head scratcher in the what-the-heck-is-this-thing-going-to-be-about department, it was pretty much bound to always happen. And, if you ask me, anything that promises to give us gloriously huge images of series regular and hot girl from Snow Day Emmanuelle Chriqui projected up on the big screen can’t be all bad. So now that there are reports saying that all of the ts have been crossed and the lowercase js have been dotted in regards to getting an Entourage movie together, probably it’s time we put all of our prejudices about bottle service and self […]

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larson

Though she’s still a spectacularly young lady, Brie Larson has been a presence in the acting world for quite a while now. If you look back at her filmography, her earliest work came in the late 90s, when she must have still been knee-high to a grasshopper. Still, it’s only been in recent years—let’s say since her reoccurring role on TV’s United States of Tara ended—that her career has started to show signs of giving off sparks that are bound to start a fire. Since 2011 Larson has shown potential in head-turning but small roles in things like Rampart, The Spectacular Now, and most recently Don Jon, she proved herself to be likable on a mainstream level by killing it as the main romantic interest in 21 Jump Street, and she proved herself to have the dramatic chops necessary to anchor a film as its star with the small scale drama Short Term 12. Brie Larson isn’t yet a name that many people know, but she’s starting to become a “that girl” that people recognize, and it seems like it’s only a matter of time before she gets that one important role that takes her to the next level and establishes her as one of the hot new faces of young Hollywood. It’s said that cream always rises to the top, after all.

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news wahlberg gambler

It’s been hard for Mark Wahlberg these last few years. He’s starred in both of Michael Bay’s most recent movies: this year’s Pain & Gain and next year’s Transformers: Age of Extinction. Standing near explosions, day in and and day out, and all he gets in return is more money than you or I could possibly dream of? It’s a tough life. But things might just be on the up and up for the former Funky Buncher. Variety is reporting that Wahlberg is in talks to star in The Gambler, an update on the 1974 film The Gambler (which, in turn, was based off a Dostoyevsky novel called – you guessed it- “The Gambler”). As well, Rupert Wyatt, last seen directing Rise of the Planet of the Apes, is in talks to direct.

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Mark-Wahlberg-and-Seth-MacFarlane-in-Ted

Copying and pasting Seth MacFarlane‘s Family Guy schtick into the mouth of a teddy bear was an idea worth a half-billion dollars at the box office. With that in mind, it’s not surprising in the slightest that MacFarlane would be at it again, and thanks to Twitter, we can put an official stamp on things. When asked about a Ted sequel, Macfarlane had this to say: RT @JohnnyMctardo: @SethMacFarlane when is Ted 2? // We’re aiming for a 2015 Passover release date. — Seth MacFarlane (@SethMacFarlane) August 14, 2013 Knowing MacFarlane, it’s easy to assume this was just a cheap shot at members of the tribe, but Screen Crush has confirmed that this is the real release date (in 2015, the first night of Passover is April 3, so that seems to line up). Those who enjoy MacFarlane’s particular brand of mockery are probably high-fiving at this very moment. Those who don’t have surely learned to ignore him at this point, so unless Ted 2 goes on to win a wheelbarrow full of Oscars, this shouldn’t be too painful. Presumably Mark Wahlberg will return, along with a plethora of jokes aimed at every race, creed, and color under the sun.

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review 2 guns

You’d be forgiven for walking into 2 Guns with modest expectations of it being little more than a passable buddy action/comedy. After all, this hasn’t exactly been a banner year for the sub-genre thanks to recent releases like R.I.P.D. and The Lone Ranger stinking up the movie houses, and beyond Paul Feig’s The Heat you’d be hard pressed to name an example that was even pretty good. But regardless of how you enter 2 Guns you’ll be walking out with a big goddamn smile on your face because this is one of the most consistently entertaining buddy cop movies in years. Bobby (Denzel Washington) is an undercover DEA agent paired up with an undercover Navy officer named Stig (Mark Wahlberg), and they’re both working against the clock to take down a murderous Mexican drug lord. Their plan hits a few snags though, chief among them the fact that both men think the other is actually a criminal, but vying for that top position is a robbery that sees the duo on the hook for over forty million dollars in dirty money. Disowned by their respective agencies and on the run from both the good guys and the bad guys, Bobby and Stig are forced to work together if they want to make it out of this mess alive. Look, I didn’t say it was all that original, but that doesn’t stop it from being a hell of a lot of fun.

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lonesurvivor

Mark Wahlberg is continuing his grand tour of racking up macho roles by now playing a Navy SEAL in Peter Berg’s Lone Survivor. Did you know that these men are heroes? Because the very literal, somber rendition of David Bowie’s “Heroes” playing in the background of the trailer that seems to be stuck on the part where he says “heroes” will remind you if you’ve forgotten. Lone Survivor tells the true story of the failed 2005 Navy mission “Operation Red Wings,” in which a four-man team headed to the Afghanistan-Pakistan border to hunt down Taliban leader Ahmad Shah. I hate to be the one to point out a spoiler, but I’m pretty sure only one of them survives. The foursome is played by scruffed-up versions of Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Emile Hirsch and Ben Foster. Eric Bana also stars. For fans of war tales or male bonding to the sweet, dulcet sounds of Peter Gabriel (who isn’t?), Lone Survivor is probably going to be a hit. But otherwise, it seems like just another war movie to add to the pile.

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2-guns

The first trailer released for director Baltasar Kormákur’s (Contraband) upcoming buddy cop actioner, 2 Guns, was one of those trailers you might have been better off not watching. It was a full three minutes of footage, it laid the film’s plot out linearly, basically from beginning to end, and for most people that’s probably enough to get into “spoiling the movie” territory. For people who generally like to preserve the newness of their theater going experience and were too cautious to delve into that first ad, the new red band trailer released for the film might offer up an acceptable alternative, however. This new collection of footage doesn’t say much about the story at all, and it’s such a context-free mishmash of loud noises and macho posturing that it’s unlikely to do anything other than whet your appetite and let you know that the film stars Denzel Washington, Mark Wahlberg, and Paula Patton’s underwear.

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Iron Man Extended Look

Today in life imitating art news, Robert Downey Jr. is one step closer to becoming an actual genius, billionaire, playboy philanthropist. Forbes has released their annual list of Hollywood’s Highest-Paid Actors, and the Iron Man star comes in at a firm number one, having made $75m between June 2012 and June 2013. There is no contesting that Downey Jr. is box office gold. He has starred in six films that have all grossed over $500m, and The Avengers and Iron Man 3 both earned over $1b during their runs. The Avengers, the third-highest grossing movie of all time, featured Downey Jr. once more in his beloved Tony Stark role – and it’s easy to argue that he stole many a scene throughout the blockbuster.

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edgerton

What is Casting Couch? It’s a roundup of casting news, and today it’s a total sausage fest. When the guests at the news party are as charming as Michael Peña and Christopher Plummer though, it’s hard to complain. Unless you’re one of the few people who sat through The Odd Life of Timothy Green and haven’t repressed the memory, it’s not likely you’ve ever seen a Joel Edgerton performance and come away disappointed. And unless you’re just an absolute monster, it’s not likely you’ve ever seen a Jeff Nichols (Take Shelter, Mud) movie and come away disappointed either. Put the two of them together and what do you get? Apparently a “present-day sci-fi chase film” that’s also going to star Michael Shannon. Or, at least, that’s what a Variety report claiming that Edgerton is currently negotiating to join Nichols’ next project says. I probably don’t have to tell you that this all sounds very intriguing.

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The Happening

Like any other type of art, the distinctions between good movies and bad movie are subjective. After all, one man’s nigh unwatchable stinkburger is one internet column’s entire reason for being; our two sugary scoops of raison d’être, if you will.  And then there are those bad movies which only become bad when people commit the heinous offense of…looking at them. Take for example M. Night Shyamalan’s The Happening. No, seriously, take it. Take it far far away from us. Shyamalan is a filmmaker known for his tricky third-act twists, and The Happening is no exception. Of course, the twist in The Happening was that Shyamalan’s brain was slowly leaking out of his ear canals the entire time he was directing; the leak caused by a direct smack on the head with the proverbial coo coo stick. Since The Happening’s release, film pundits and those who don’t use words like pundit alike have been scratching their heads in a mixture of wonderment and disgust. Disgusterment. The prevailing question, for lack of a better writer hired to pen this column, was what happened with The Happening? During a recent conversation/bacon-ingestion with my good friend, and confirmed snarkplug, Will Goss of Film.com, the overly stilted nature of The Happening’s dialogue was dissected. We began to wonder if perhaps the biggest problem with The Happening was merely the medium in which it was exhibited. In other words, was the film suffering from the fact that it was a film?

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Corddry Pain and Gain

The last time we spoke to actor Rob Corddry, he told us how director Michael Bay “kicked his ass” and how he’d tell us about it next time. Now, almost a year after promoting Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, Pain & Gain is finally hitting theaters and Mr. Corddry is here to tell us how Bay went about that ass-kicking. Some actors haven’t always taken to Bay’s blunt style, but Corddry embraced it. A director can’t get much more honest than telling one of his actors they “fucked up,” something Bay would tell the creator and star of Children’s Hospital after a take gone wrong. If Corddry didn’t respond to that approach, then he most likely wouldn’t have done a pool stunt for Bay, considering he isn’t a fan of the water. But Corddry is a fan of Michael Bay’s tireless work ethic, and here’s what else he had to say about him, along with a New York theater experience gone bad and why talking to Ari Fleischer wasn’t the best idea for Oliver Stone‘s W.

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