This past weekend, Oscar weekend, two trashy but hugely enjoyable films were released. “Death Wish,” starring Bruce Willis, is a cannily updated version of the Charles Bronson classic. It basically tells the same story as the old one. Bruce plays mild-mannered surgeon Paul Kersey, whose wife (Elisabeth Shue) and daughter are shot, the wife fatally. As his daughter lies in a coma, Paul snaps and becomes a vigilante, inflaming the Chicago populace with his behavior. Wearing a hoodie and sometimes being filmed doing vigilante acts, Paul is considered an “angel” to some, the “Grim Reaper” to others. Although he sometimes kills carjackers for the fun of it, his main goal is vengeance on his family’s attackers, which he accomplishes in spectacular fashion. He has so much fun there could be a sequel, just like the original had 4 (!).
“Red Sparrow” stars the extraordinary Jennifer Lawrence as a top ballerina in modern-day Russia who suffers a gruesome accident while performing to a packed house. Caring for her sick mother and low on funds and with no government support, her sleazy uncle (perhaps the sleaziest uncle in movie history!) enrolls her as a “red sparrow,” which is what she calls “whore school.” She gets tutored by the great Charlotte Rampling in how to seduce men and get info from them, with the threat of death if she does not follow instructions. She also has to contend with the mysterious Jeremy Irons and American Joel Edgerton, who she maybe falls in love with. Can she overcome a dodgy Russian accent and a number of seriously kinky scenes?
Look, neither of these movies are any good compared to the films that were up for Oscars this year. But they both remember that we go to the movies to have fun. These films are “guilty pleasures” for me because I got caught up in them despite questionable scripts and acting. I liked seeing Bruce Willis kick ass again, and I REALLY liked the sexy Jennifer Lawrence doing her best to make a trashy script seem compelling. I even liked that both films got poor reviews, since the disappointing well-reviewed film “Black Panther” put me to sleep. If you like Bruce Willis and Jennifer Lawrence, then I recommend both these films as trashy good times.
Incidentally, apparently there really were “red sparrows” in Russia, but probably not since the Cold War. The movie should’ve been set in the Cold War with Russian-speaking character, instead of in English with ridiculous accents.. I still enjoyed it. And Bruce kicks ass as well as anyone still!