Final Destination 5
This was almost as much fun to see in the theater as “Trollhunter”. I can’t imagine “Final Destination 5” holds up as well on the small screen, and the story is near nonexistent, but watching the elaborate, Rube Goldberg style deaths in 3D was one of the best times I had at the movies in 2011. It’s completely ridiculous, bordering on idiotic, but wickedly entertaining.
Brenden Gleason is awesome, and nowhere is that more on display than in “The Guard”. He plays a crotchety, whiskey-swilling, hooker-banging, Irish cop who teams up with a straight-laced FBI Agent (Don Cheadle) to take down a crew of notorious drug runners. Foul-mouthed, vulgar, and drug-addled, Gleason plays up his character’s buffoonery to camouflage his underlying intelligence that comes through with knowing winks and sly nods. Darkly comic, “The Guard” is one of the most raucously entertaining films of the year, but also functions as a mystery/noir story.
The Yellow Sea
Another Korean revenge movie, you might ask? Of I will reply, of course. Poor choices, lies, and deception pile up until the hero of director Na Hong-jin’s (“The Chaser”) sophomore effort is completely embroiled in a savage world where axe fights and beating people to death with a large bone are perfectly acceptable forms of self-expression. Smoothly escalating tension mounts until “The Yellow Sea” has no choice to explode in violence, and one of the biggest, most insane car chases you’ve seen in years.
Close, but no cigar—Honorable Mentions in no particular order:
What do you get when you take a nice quiet film about people trying to cope with sudden trauma and the tragedy of their daily lives, and throw in a psychotic butt-rocker with a penchant for blowing shit up? The result is Spencer Susser’s indie gem, “Hesher”. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays the titular metal madman, in what film that constantly walks the line between laughter and tears.
Hands down the scariest movie of 2011. Not a horror movie in the traditional sense, “Contagion” will make you poop your pants because it is so entirely plausible. Steven Soderbergh and his big name cast present this portrait of a global pandemic so clinically that it could almost be a documentary. And if you want to see famous people die, this is your movie, since Soderbergh has no compunction about killing off an A-list star or two.
Do you want to watch a pre-teen girl kick the living crap out of a bunch of fully-grown government agents, skinheads, and the most sinister Kate Blanchett you’ve ever seen? Of course you do, why wouldn’t you? That’s what “Hanna” is, and yes, this twisted fairy tale is exactly as much badass fun as that sounds.
Revenge: A Love Story
Who thought you would ever root for a guy cutting babies out of pregnant women? But you do. Brutal, bloody, violent, and genuinely affecting, “Revenge” will make you queasy and sad at the same time.
I may or may not have wept openly in the movie theater during “The Muppets”, but you weren’t there, so you’ll never know.
Also, “Drive Angry” should be on this list, because, holy shit, that movie was insane and amazing.
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