The episode opened up with Peter Burke (Tim DeKay) meeting Neal Caffrey (Matt Bomer) outside a dry cleaner, with the FBI agent holding a freshly-pressed suit. He was having dinner later with his wife Elizabeth (Tiffani Thiessen) to celebrate the anniversary of their first meeting. He mentioned that he remembered all anniversaries, including the day that he first arrested Caffrey. He then showed him the FBI pen that he'd found in the last episode. Caffrey played dumb. What, you thought he was going to blanch and say, "Oh man, you caught us"? Burke dismissed him so that he could get ready for his date with Elizabeth.
Later on, the Burkes were eating dinner at a restaurant. Suddenly, the waiter came up with three drinks. Puzzled, Burke said that he didn't order them. The waiter pointed to a woman sitting at the bar. It turned out to be Jill from Peter's days at Quantico. She was also his ex. Awkward. Jill came over and sat down, though she did immediately realize that Peter and Elizabeth were on a date. They insisted that she sit with them. Jill told them that she was in town on a case. They then drank the bourbons Jill had sent over, though Peter knew he was in trouble by Elizabeth's immediately sipping wine afterwards.
Rebecca, the unemployed museum curator, went to Caffrey's place. He gave her wine and showed her the sole chapter of the Mosconi book he had pilfered. They were puzzling it out and he thought to put the pages, which contained a lot of illustrations, like puzzle pieces. They were flirting with each other the whole time. Finally, it turned out to look like a stained glass window. Flushed with excitement, she kissed him. Of course, enter Mozzie (Willie Garson), in the role of the FBI agent to interrupt the kiss. She left and Mozzie expressed that he thought Caffrey was getting too emotionally involved.
At home, Burke was at explaining himself to his wife. When Jill was at Quantico, she pushed him hard, but he said overall, Elizabeth was the one one who really got him through the past year, which mollified her. She reminded him that it was still their anniversary. Bow-chicka-wow-wow.
The next day, Burke and Caffrey were talking at the office. It turned out an FBI badge had flashed somewhere and it could have been the late Agent Siegel's. Jill then walked into the FBI office and headed toward's Burke's office, which made him get nervous and try to usher Caffrey out before she came in, telling him that she was no one important. While Jill and Burke talked in his glass-paneled office, Agent Clinton Jones and Caffrey were trying to look like they were working, but were actually watching the conversation. They immediately sussed out that she was Burke’s ex. Inside the office, Jill explained that she was looking for a guy who had made a chip for a defense contractor and was then going to sell it on the black market. She had set up a sting and she needed Burke to come in, since he apparently was the only agent in NY she trusted. On the way out, she muttered, "This is going to be fun." Caffrey and Jones couldn't get enough of watching Burke practically flop sweat in his office.
Later on, Burke and Caffrey were talking on the street, with Burke still swearing that Jill meant nothing, though he was going to tell Elizabeth about the going undercover later at night. Still dubious, Caffrey changed the subject and said that he needed a new wardrobe to get the people who were using Siegel's badge. That meant the keys to the nice car. Later, Burke was at home and was about to tell Elizabeth the situation when, but of course, Jill just dropped by unannounced, saying that she had to do the recon right then and there. She dragged him off and hit Elizabeth with a "It's classified" when asked what was going on. This raised the hackles of Elizabeth, who usually talked about all aspects of cases with Burke. Burke had to back up his partner, though he looked clearly uncomfortable. Nice. Nothing that would set up any suspicions, right?
Burke and Jill were sitting in a car on stakeout and she told him that he didn't need to put on a strong front - she knew he was still hurting from losing Siegel. After a brief interlude of Jones and Caffrey driving in a car making Cagney and Lacey jokes, she told about her experience of losing an agent and then held his hand to comfort him. Mercifully the seller showed up and the two agents went to the hotel that the seller was staying in.
Jones and Caffrey were in their car, acting as bait in the area where the badge had last been used. Soon a guy rapped the door, flashing a badge and saying that he had to commandeer the car to pursue a criminal. Yeah, right. Caffrey and Jones got out and put him under arrest. They looked at the badge. Yep. It was Siegel's, which made Jones clench his jaw quite tightly to keep from capping the guy right then and there.
In the hotel, Jill and Burke went to the seller's room and managed to plant a gun under a sofa cushion and got out before he saw them. Outside they saw two guys go in ... people they had seen before. This meant there may also be a third interested party in getting to this fellow and his chip. Quickly, Jill took a picture of Burke and herself with her phone to sell that they were a couple and get the guys on film.
Burke and Jones were interrogating the guy with Siegel's badge. He swore he didn't kill the agent and said that he was in a liquor store, waiting to rob it and said that he would be seen on footage. Burke was mad and seemed to not be placated by Caffrey's kind words afterwards. He went to the office and looked out the window after putting Siegel's bag in evidence. Caffrey saw this and knew that he couldn't do anything to help.
Elizabeth was waiting up for Burke when he got home. She wanted to talk to him about the case, but he stuck to it being classified, which ran counter to nearly every other conversation they had had over the past four seasons. She was mad, but said that she understood. Right. Burke tried to snuggle with her, but she was clearly peeved.
The next morning, Jill and Burke were at the FBI office, where they got information on the two guys that they had seen earlier. They figured that the two men wanted to steal the chip. Elizabeth strolled in to give Burke his lunch, which he had forgotten. She started to talk to Caffrey, who was waiting at his desk, having also been cut out of the loop by Jill and Burke. The topic turned to Jill, who Elizabeth saw as being lonely. Inside the conference room, Burke was bringing Jones into the case, something the lone wolf Jill didn't want, but Burke threw his weight around as ASAC, which made her back off. Elizabeth went upstairs and into Burke's own office and of course, this classified file was just sitting out there in the open for her to see, including the posed picture. It was like White Collar meets Three's Company. It's all a misunderstanding, Janet! She stormed out of the office before Burke could talk to her.
Later on, Burke and Caffrey were talking outside about the Elizabeth/Jill situation. Caffrey was trying to explain that Burke should know that marriage can trump classification sometimes, especially here. Burke said that he could talk to Jill about the stress of losing Siegel, she had been through something similar. He also said he didn't want to worry Elizabeth any more than she already had been, what with him being shot before and then arrested. Burke's cell phone rang and he had to run off to the meet.
Elizabeth first wanted Mozzie to follow Burke, but he said for her to follow Jill.
Outside, Burke and Jill were doing a stakeout. The two mercenaries were going into a restaurant, so they decided to go to the hotel. In the surveillance van, Jones wanted to do a walkthrough of the restaurant, since he realized there were no eyes in the back. Jill didn't want him to and told Burke to tell him to stand down. Jones sussed it from Burke's response and decided to go anyways.
After talking to Mozzie, Elizabeth wanted Caffrey to case Jill's hotel, which Caffrey did, if only to keep Elizabeth from charging over half-cocked. They saw Burke and Jill going inside the hotel and Caffrey tried to assure her that it wasn't what it looked like. She snapped that it better not be and they got out of the car to go into the hotel. Remember the TV show Cheaters? At this point, the cameras would have been hustling in behind Caffrey and Elizabeth as they walked towards the hotel, all shakey-cam to show the anger and urgency.
After Caffrey and Elizabeth went into the lobby, with Caffrey going to look for a room number for Burke and Jill. Outside, Jones did a walkthrough at the restaurant and realized that it was an ambush at the hotel and tried to call Burke. In true television plot fashion, just as the phone rang, Jill took it from Burke, saying that protocol called for radio silence. D'oh. The two agents made their way to the seller's room.
While waiting in the hotel bar for Caffrey to return, Elizabeth saw the seller sitting at a stool. She tried to stall him from going upstairs by flirting with him and got him to put his number in her phone. While the seller was doing that, he also slid something in the phone's case. When he finished and left, Caffrey walked by the seller only to to see him get led off to the elevators with a gun in his side. Elizabeth and Caffrey followed and determined the floor from the lobby elevator readings. She updated Caffrey what had happened in the bar, including getting his number. Caffrey took the phone and he found what the seller had put in the phone's case - the chip.
Upstairs, Jill and Burke went to the seller's room. While they were outside the door, the two mercenaries and the seller came into the hallway, saw Burke and Jill and pulled guns. After first trying to bluff the mercenaries that they were honeymooners, the bad guys forced her to open the bag to show the money. Soon they were tied up in the seller's room with the mercenaries interrogating them. The seller blurted that he gave the chip to "a woman downstairs." Trying to buy time, Burke interjected that he was a buyer too.
Caffrey and Ellizabeth made their way to the seller's room door. Elizabeth was desperate to get into the room. Caffrey got her in with a modified hotel room card - after making her swear that she never saw the item. Elizabeth burst into the room and was immediately facing a consternated husband and two guns trained on her. Yikes.
After the commercial break, Elizabeth said that she had the chip and showed the phone to the mercenaries, holding it for a few seconds, allowing Caffrey to sneak in through the back door. What then was not exactly the best coordinated or believable rescue that I have ever seen. In sequence, Elizabeth threw the phone towards the mercenaries, putting them off-balance. Caffrey slid behind a sofa to where Burke was and with one smooth motion, managed to slice the rope around the FBI agent's wrists without, you know, severing any arteries. Burke then reached under the sofa to get the gun they had so conveniently left before and shot one mercenary in the arm while Jill, still tied up, was able to stand up and while turning her upper body, smash the other mercenary with her chair. Jones and other FBI agents then flooded in. WWE matches have looked more realistic.
The aftermath saw Burke talking with the departing Jill, who told him to not be afraid to talk to Elizabeth about everything he was feeling. Which he did, that evening, finally opening up to her about the pain and guilt that he felt about Siegel's death. Elsewhere, Caffrey led Rebecca to the stained glass window from the Mosconi illustration and then laid a huge kiss on her, which she gladly reciprocated
Of course, the episode couldn't end on a good note. The next morning, Burke was in his office looking at Siegel's shield case. In the inside compartment, he found a business card that had 'Cooper's?' written in Siegel's handwriting on the back. He narrowed his eyes at that and then looked briefly at the camera. Dun-dun-dun! We'll have to find out what that meant next episode.
There's an allure to imperfection. With his latest drama Lawless director John Hillcoat taps directly into the side of human nature that draws us to it. Hillcoat finds it in Prohibition history a time when the regulations of alcohol consumption were subverted by most of the population; He finds it in the rural landscapes of Virginia: dingy raw and mesmerizing. And most importantly he finds it in his main character Jack Bondurant (Shia LaBeouf) the scrappy third brother of a moonshining family who is desperate to prove his worth. Jack forcefully injects himself into the family business only to discover there's an underbelly to the underbelly. Lawless is a beautiful film that's violent as hell striking in a way only unfiltered Americana could be.
Acting as the driver for his two outlaw brothers Forrest (Tom Hardy) and Howard (Jason Clarke) isn't enough for Jack. He's enticed by the power of the gangster figure and entranced by what moonshine money can buy. So like any fledgling entrepreneur Jack takes matters into his own hands. Recruiting crippled family friend/distillery mastermind Cricket (Dane DeHaan) the young whippersnapper sets out to brew his own batch sell it to top dog Floyd Banner and make the family rich. The plan works — but it puts the Bondurant boys in over their heads with a new threat: the corrupt law enforcers of Chicago.
Unlike many stories of crime life Lawless isn't about escalation. The movie drifts back and forth leisurely popping in moments like the beats of a great TV episode. One second the Bondurants could be talking shop with their female shopkeep Maggie Beauford (Jessica Chastain). The next Forrest is beating the bloody pulp out of a cop blackmailing their operation. The plot isn't thick; Hillcoat and screenwriter Nick Cave preferring to bask in the landscapes the quiet moments the haunting terror that comes with a life on the other side of the tracks. A feature film doesn't offer enough time for Lawless to build — it recalls cinema-level TV currently playing on outlets like HBO and AMC that have truly spoiled us — but what the duo accomplish is engrossing.
Accompanying the glowing visuals and Cave's knockout workout on the music side (a toe-tapping mix of spirituals bluegrass and the writer/musician's spine-tingling violin) are muted performances from some of Hollywood's rising stars. Despite LaBeouf's off-screen antics he lights up Lawless and nails the in-deep whippersnapper. His playful relationship with a local religious girl (Mia Wasikowska) solidifies him as a leading man but like everything in the movie you want more. Tom Hardy is one of the few performers who can "uurrr" and "mmmnerm" his way through a scene and come out on top. His greatest sparring partner isn't a hulking thug but Chastain who brings out the heart of the impenetrable beast. The real gem of Lawless is Guy Pearce as the Bondurant trio's biggest threat. Shaved eyebrows pristine city clothes and a temper like a rabid wolverine Pearce's Charlie Rakes is the most frightening villain of 2012. He viciously chews up every moment he's on screen. That's even before he starts drawing blood.
Lawless is the perfect movie for the late August haze — not quite the Oscary prestige picture or the summertime shoot-'em-up. It's drama that has its moonshine and swigs it too. Just don't drink too much.
Widening the thematic scope without sacrificing too much of the claustrophobia that made the original 1979 Alien universally spooky Prometheus takes the trophy for this summer's most adult-oriented blockbuster entertainment. The movie will leave your mouth agape for its entire runtime first with its majestic exploration of an alien planet and conjectures on the origins of the human race second with its gross-out body horror that leaves no spilled gut to the imagination. Thin characters feel more like pawns in Scott's sci-fi prequel but stunning visuals shocking turns and grand questions more than make up for the shallow ensemble. "Epic" comes in many forms. Prometheus sports all of them.
Based on their discovery of a series of cave drawings all sharing a similar painted design Elizabeth (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie (Logan Marshall-Green) are recruited by Weyland to head a mission to another planet one they believe holds the answers to the creation of life on Earth. Along for the journey are Vickers (Charlize Theron) the ruthless Weyland proxy Janek (Idris Elba) a blue collar captain a slew of faceless scientists and David (Michael Fassbender) HAL 9000-esque resident android who awakens the crew of spaceship Prometheus when they arrive to their destination. Immediately upon descent there's a discovery: a giant mound that's anything but natural. The crew immediately prepares to scope out the scene zipping up high-tech spacesuits jumping in futuristic humvees and heading out to the site. What they discover are the awe-inspiring creations of another race. What they bring back to the ship is what they realize may kill their own.
The first half of Prometheus could be easily mistaken for Steven Spielberg's Alien a sense of wonder glowing from every frame not too unlike Close Encounters. Scott takes full advantage of his fictional settings and imbues them with a reality that makes them even more tantalizing. He shoots the vistas of space and the alien planet like National Geographic porn and savors the interior moments on board the Prometheus full of hologram maps sleeping pods and do-it-yourself surgery modules with the same attention. Prometheus is beautiful shot in immersive 3D that never dampers Dariusz Wolski's sharp photography. Scott's direction seems less interested in the run-or-die scenario set up in the latter half of the film but the film maintains tension and mood from beginning to end. It all just gets a bit…bloodier.
Jon Spaihts' and Damon Lindelof's script doesn't do the performers any favors shuffling them to and fro between the ship and the alien construction without much room for development. Reveals are shoehorned in without much setup (one involving Theron's Vickers that's shockingly mishandled) but for the most part the ensemble is ready to chomp into the script's bigger picture conceits. Rapace is a physical performer capable of pulling off a grisly scene involving an alien some sharp objects and a painful procedure (sure to be the scene of the blockbuster season. Among the rest of the crew Fassbender's David stands out as the film's revelatory performance delivering a digestible ambiguity to his mechanical man that playfully toys with expectations from his first entrance. The creature effects in Prometheus will wow you but even Fassbender's smallest gesture can send the mind spinning. The power of his smile packs more of a punch than any facehugger.
Much like Lindelof's Lost Prometheus aims to explore the idea of asking questions and seeking answers and on Scott's scale it's a tremendous unexpected ride. A few ideas introduced to spur action fall to the way side in the logic department but with a clear mission and end point Prometheus works as a sweeping sci-fi that doesn't require choppy editing or endless explosions to keep us on the edge of our seats. Prometheus isn't too far off from the Alien xenomorphs: born from existing DNA of another creature the movie breaks out as its own beast. And it's wilder than ever.
A kids’ movie without the cheeky jokes for adults is like a big juicy BLT without the B… or the T. Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted may have a title that sounds like it was made up in a cartoon sequel laboratory but when it comes to serving up laughs just think of the film as a BLT with enough extra bacon to satisfy even the wildest of animals — or even a parent with a gaggle of tots in tow. Yes even with that whole "Afro Circus" nonsense.
It’s not often that we find exhaustively franchised films like the Madagascar set that still work after almost seven years. Despite being spun off into TV shows and Christmas specials in addition to its big screen adventures the series has not only maintained its momentum it has maintained the part we were pleasantly surprised by the first time around: great jokes.
In this third installment of the series – the trilogy-maker if you will – directing duo Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath add Conrad Vernon (director Monsters Vs. Aliens) to the helm as our trusty gang swings back into action. Alex the lion (Ben Stiller) Marty the zebra (Chris Rock) Gloria the hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Melman the giraffe (David Schwimmer) are stuck in Africa after the hullaballoo of Madagascar 2 and they’ll do anything to get back to their beloved New York. Just a hop skip and a jump away in Monte Carlo the penguins are doing their usual greedy schtick but the zoo animals catch up with them just in time to catch the eye of the sinister animal control stickler Captain Dubois (Frances McDormand). And just like that the practically super human captain is chasing them through Monte Carlo and the rest of Europe in hopes of planting Alex’s perfectly coifed lion head on her wall of prized animals.
Luckily for pint-sized viewers Dubois’ terrifying presence is balanced out by her sheer inhuman strength uncanny guiles and Stretch Armstrong flexibility (ah the wonder of cartoons) as well as Alex’s escape plan: the New Yorkers run away with the European circus. While Dubois’ terrifying Doberman-like presence looms over the entire film a sense of levity (which is a word the kiddies might learn from Stiller’s eloquent lion) comes from the plan for salvation in which the circus animals and the zoo animals band together to revamp the circus and catch the eye of a big-time American agent. Sure the pacing throughout the first act is practically nonexistent running like a stampede through the jungle but by the time we're palling around under the big top the film finds its footing.
The visual splendor of the film (and man is there a champion size serving of it) the magnificent danger and suspense is enhanced to great effect by the addition of 3D technology – and not once is there a gratuitous beverage or desperate Crocodile Dundee knife waved in our faces to prove its worth. The caveat is that the soundtrack employs a certain infectious Katy Perry ditty at the height of the 3D spectacular so parents get ready to hear that on repeat until the leaves turn yellow.
But visual delights and adventurous zoo animals aside Madagascar 3’s real strength is in its script. With the addition of Noah Baumbach (Greenberg The Squid and the Whale) to the screenwriting team the script is infused with a heightened level of almost sarcastic gravitas – a welcome addition to the characteristically adult-friendly reference-heavy humor of the other Madagascar films. To bring the script to life Paramount enlisted three more than able actors: Vitaly the Siberian tiger (Bryan Cranston) Gia the Leopard (Jessica Chastain) and Stefano the Italian Sealion (Martin Short). With all three actors draped in European accents it might take viewers a minute to realize that the cantankerous tiger is one and the same as the man who plays an Albuquerque drug lord on Breaking Bad but that makes it that much sweeter to hear him utter slant-curse words like “Bolshevik” with his usual gusto.
Between the laughs the terror of McDormand’s Captain Dubois and the breathtaking virtual European tour the Zoosters’ accidental vacation is one worth taking. Madagascar 3 is by no means an insta-classic but it’s a perfectly suited for your Summer-at-the-movies oasis.
Theatrics slapstick and cheer are cinematic qualities you rarely find outside the realm of animation. Disney perfected it with their pantheon of cartoon classics mixing music humor spectacle and light-hearted drama that swept up children while still capturing the imaginations and hearts of their parents. But these days even reinterpretations of fairy tales get the gritty make-over leaving little room for silliness and unfiltered glee. Emerging through that dark cloud is Mirror Mirror a film that achieves every bit of imagination crafted by its two-dimensional predecessors and then some. Under the eye of master visualist Tarsem Singh (The Fall Immortals) Mirror Mirror's heightened realism imbues it with the power to pull off anything — and the movie never skimps on the anything.
Like its animated counterparts Mirror Mirror stays faithful to its source material but twists it just enough to feel unique. When Snow White (Lily Collins) was a little girl her father the King ventured into a nearby dark forest to do battle with an evil creature and was never seen or heard from again. The kingdom was inherited by The Queen (Julia Roberts) Snow's evil stepmother and the fair-skinned beauty lived locked up in the castle until her 18th birthday. Grown up and tired of her wicked parental substitute White sneaks out of the castle to the village for the first time. There she witnesses the economic horrors The Queen has imposed upon the people of her land all to fuel her expensive beautification. Along the way Snow also meets Prince Alcott (Armie Hammer) who is suffering from his own money troubles — mainly being robbed by a band of stilt-wearing dwarves. When the Queen catches wind of the secret excursion she casts Snow out of the castle to be murdered by her assistant Brighton (Nathan Lane).
Fairy tales take flack for rejecting the idea of women being capable but even with its flighty presentation and dedication to the old school Disney method Mirror Mirror empowers its Snow White in a genuine way thanks to Collins' snappy charming performance. After being set free by Brighton Snow crosses paths with the thieving dwarves and quickly takes a role on their pilfering team (which she helps turn in to a Robin Hooding business). Tarsem wisely mines a spectrum of personalities out of the seven dwarves instead of simply playing them for one note comedy. Sure there's plenty of slapstick and pun humor (purposefully and wonderfully corny) but each member of the septet stands out as a warm compassionate companion to Snow even in the fantasy world.
Mirror Mirror is richly designed and executed in true Tarsem-fashion with breathtaking costumes (everything from ball gowns to the dwarf expando-stilts to ridiculous pirate ship hats with working canons) whimsical sets and a pitch-perfect score by Disney-mainstay Alan Menken. The world is a storybook and even its monsters look like illustrations rather than photo-real creations. But what makes it all click is the actors. Collins holds her own against the legendary Julia Roberts who relishes in the fun she's having playing someone despicable. She delivers every word with playful bite and her rapport with Lane is off-the-wall fun. Armie Hammer riffs on his own Prince Charming physique as Alcott. The only real misgiving of the film is the undercooked relationship between him and Snow. We know they'll get together but the journey's half the fun and Mirror Mirror serves that portion undercooked.
Children will swoon for Mirror Mirror but there's plenty here for adults — dialogue peppered with sharp wisecracks and a visual style ripped from an elegant tapestry. The movie wears its heart on its sleeve and rarely do we get a picture where both the heart and the sleeve feel truly magical.