Taylor Sheridan ‘Lawmen’ Series Is Criminally Bad – IndieWire – Armessa Movie News

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In the last two years, Paramount+ has released 13 drama series, six of which have stemmed from “Yellowstone” creator Taylor Sheridan. Some are directly tied to the hit cable (and now broadcast) series, like the timestamped prequels “1883” and “1923,” while others merely bear the prolific writer and producer’s name (“Mayor of Kingstown,” “Tulsa King,” and “Special Ops: Lioness”). All have been considered successful by the nascent streamer (if less so by the culture at large), and thus the Taylor Sheridan Television Universe continues expanding.

Its latest, “Lawmen: Bass Reeves,” is actually built from both sides of the Dutton family’s ever-expanding fence — or it was, at least. While always about the first Black U.S. Marshall west of the Mississippi River, the seasonal anthology series was originally tied to “1883” before redevelopments set its story apart and Sheridan, who was once attached to direct, ended up solely an executive producer. Through four of the 10 episodes, I can’t say it really matters if “Bass Reeves” was directly linked to Kevin Costner’s TV family or not. Perhaps waiting around for a Tim McGraw cameo would make a difference for “Yellowstone” completists, but “Bass Reeves” is far too formulaic, too rushed, and too incurious to be propped up MCU-style by cameos.

Aubrey Plaza and Will Sharpe in 'The White Lotus'

Determined viewers do face a slight dilemma: You could skip the hourlong premiere episode and read the “early career” section of Reeves’ Wikipedia page, or you could slog through the uninspired, point-by-point recitation and be rewarded with Shea Whigham quoting Alfred Lord Tennyson on the battlefield. As a compromise, may I suggest checking out the first five minutes and skipping the remaining 52 — you’ll hear Whigham’s paraphrased poetry reading, yet won’t have to endure the increasingly predictable events that follow. Created by Chad Feehan (“Ray Donovan”) with a pilot directed by “Yellowstone” veteran Chistina Alexandra Voros, “Bass Reeves” picks up mid-combat, after Reeves (Oyelowo) has been dragged into the Civil War — and forced to fight for the Confederacy — by Colonel George R. Reeves (Whigham). Bass is not a soldier; he’s enslaved and acting at the behest of the Colonel, though you’d be hard-pressed to explain the difference once his skills with a rifle prove instrumental to both men surviving an ambush or two.

Despite the historical lack of clarity over how Bass secures his freedom, “Lawmen” sticks to the internet’s summation of events, providing even less context or motivating factors than any thoughtful reader could speculate on their own. Bass’ internal drive, his motivations, are kept as broad as possible. He leaves because he’s fed up and fears for his safety. He goes where he feels safe and he’s needed (a rural farm in Indigenous territory). He adapts quickly, as the series jumps ahead months (and sometimes years) after each commercial break. (“Commercial break?” you may ask. “Isn’t this a streaming series?” Yes, it is! But streaming has ads now, and “Bass Reeves” could follow in “Yellowstone’s” footsteps and end up airing on CBS, should the powers that be want to continue their synergistic release strategies.)

Bass Reeves TV show Lauren E. Banks as Jennie Reeves and Demi Singleton as Sally Reeves in Lawmen: Bass Reeves streaming on Paramount+, 2023. Photo Credit: Emerson Miller/Paramount+
Lauren E. Banks and Demi Singleton in “Lawmen: Bass Reeves”Courtesy of Emerson Miller / Paramount+

It takes two full hours for “Bass Reeves” to reach what should’ve been its starting point: when Bass is sworn in as a Deputy U.S. Marshal. By then, knowing there are only 10 total episodes to this tale, it’s too late. “Bass Reeves” trots through a couple of perfunctory investigations, collaring a couple of criminals, and surviving a few dust-ups. Along the way, he picks up random partners (including Garrett Hedlund, who I can only assume is playing the great, great grandfather of his “Tulsa King” character), but the only parts that stick are thematic (and even those aren’t as striking as Oyelowo, always a committed, immersed performer).

Built as a revisionist western (that still savors its shootouts), “Lawmen: Bass Reeves” sees its titular star dwelling on what it means to be both a lawman and a Christian. Most of his difficulties center on how his duties conflict with his pacifism, as he has no taste for killing, though Bass also notices ways the supposedly impartial law partially tips the scales of justice. A Black man who steals out of necessity is given the same sentence as white cowboys who act out of greed. A doctor trying to decide which wounded patient to prioritize asks Bass, “Who got plucked? Law or outlaw?” “They both die about the same,” Bass replies. When an atheist cowboy (Dennis Quaid, who chews nearly as much tobacco as scenery) mocks Bass for believing in a God that allows men to suffer in slavery, Bass merely says that his faith “gave me the hope to believe” he could someday be free. Later, he swears to enact God’s will through the justice system, claiming, “Until God say [sic] otherwise, I’m the only law they [sic] is.”

Donald Sutherland plays Judge Isaac Parker, who Wiki informs me will come to see Bass as a “valued deputy.” The seeds of their relationship are planted in Episode 3, but “Lawmen” doesn’t take the time to engage in any debate between an old school adjudicator and a newly hired officer. It just bookends the hour with an unremarked upon disagreement, trusting the audience to take away whatever they want. “Lawmen: Bass Reeves” isn’t interested in the nuanced internal conflicts that must have roiled inside a former slave who chose to protect and serve slave owners, a Black man forced to fight for the Confederate army, or even a pacifist who picked up a gun every single day — at least, it’s not interested enough, soon enough. It solemnly nods at such issues as they walk by, but it does not stop to engage with them.

Instead, it tells yet another tale of a farmer who’s sworn off killing, yet kills again anyway; a husband who loves his wife (Lauren E. Banks) more than anything, yet risks losing her whenever the cowboys come callin’; a father who’s proud of his kids (his eldest is played by Demi Singleton), but who’s rarely around to see them do much of anything. Toss in a few shameless deaths to motivate Bass, and you’ll soon feel like you’ve seen this dark and dour story before. That may be the point. Given how quickly the Sheridan-verse is expanding, it needs easy stories, and fast. But Bass Reeves, no matter who he really was, deserves a more inquisitive case study than this.

Grade: C-

“Lawmen: Bass Reeves” premieres Sunday, November 5 on Paramount+ with two episodes. New episodes will be released weekly.

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Sylvester Stallone & Jason Momoa Gave Us a Criminally Underrated Thriller – Armessa Movie News

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The Big Picture

  • Sylvester Stallone’s performance in Bullet to the Head showcases a vulnerable and nonverbal version of the actor, reminiscent of his role in Copland.
  • The film, directed by Walter Hill, is a gritty and brutal crime thriller that highlights the seedy underbelly of the New Orleans crime world.
  • While Stallone’s character, Jimmy Bobo, may not have the physical capabilities of a young man, he still proves that he can create new action heroes and pass the torch to the next generation, as demonstrated in his fight sequences with Jason Momoa.


It’s easy to dismiss Sylvester Stallone as nothing more than an action star, even if his most iconic roles started rather humbly. It’s easy to forget that both Rocky and First Blood are straightforward character dramas that relied on emotionally nuanced performances from Stallone; they just happened to inspire massive action franchises. Stallone’s work became less exciting within the last few decades, as he began choosing roles that didn’t require as much of him as a performer. However, Stallone proved that he still had a great performance left in him with the criminally underrated 2013 thriller Bullet to the Head. Although it has been exciting to see Stallone return to familiar franchises with Rambo: Last Blood and Creed, Bullet to the Head proved that he still can create new action heroes.

Image via Warner Bros.

Bullet To The Head

After watching their respective partners die, a New Orleans hitman and a Washington, D.C. detective form an alliance in order to bring down their common enemy.

‘Bullet to the Head’ Is a Darker Sylvester Stallone Movie

Bullet to the Head ditches the typical New York setting of Sylvester Stallone’s films for the dirty, crime-ridden streets of New Orleans for its opening sequence. Stallone’s character, Jimmy Bobo, doesn’t have any advanced training or combat skills that distinguish him in comparison to other cops. Bobo also lacks the moral altruism that defined so many of Stallone’s roles. In the opening moments, Bobo works alongside his partner Louis Blanchard (Jon Seda) to take out a corrupt cop (Mindhunter’s Holt McCallany). It’s a terrific opening sequence that shows that Bobo is willing to do the sort of “dirty work” that rookies or idealists wouldn’t, since he isn’t either. Bobo has put his life’s work into this job, but not all of that work has been strictly “heroic.”

What makes these opening moments so striking is how radically different they are from a majority of Stallone’s other work. One of the reasons that he became such an iconic action star in the 1980s and 1990s was his moral altruism; Stallone’s characters were super-sized heroes who were always on the right side of the law. Even the violent extremes that John Rambo went to felt justified within the context of the movies; Rocky always fought for his country, his family, and his friends. The motivations of Bobo are completely different. He’s just doing his best to survive in a bitter world.

Bullet to the Head showcases a nonverbal, vulnerable version of Stallone that he hadn’t shown since James Mangold’s underrated crime thriller Copland. An issue with films like The Expendables and Get Carter was the cheap, silly one-liners that Stallone was forced to deliver; they felt completely unrealistic for an actor of such sensitivity. While Bobo is a much different character compared to Rocky and Rambo, he shares their quiet sensitivity. Bobo has a hard time expressing himself, but the rare instances in which he does are quite profound. Bobo has learned to distrust the men around him due to the deep-seated corruption within the ranks of the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia. He can be forgiven for not wanting to form any personal relationships with other members of the organization.

Sylvester Stallone Is Vulnerable in ‘Bullet to the Head’

Bullet to the Head hails from crime movie maestro Walter Hill, a veteran of the genre whose past classics include The Driver, The Warriors, and the bizarre sequel Another 48. Hrs. Hill does a great job at crafting gritty, brutal fight sequences with a film that exudes seediness. Hill focuses on what goes on behind closed doors, and there’s nothing about Bullet to the Head that feels idealized. It was the perfect role for Stallone at this point in his career. While he had revisited franchises like Rocky and Rambo, Bullet to the Head felt like a throwback to his roles in classic crime films like F.I.S.T. and Nighthawks.

Sylvester Stallone’s advancing age meant that his ego had to be in check. Bullet to the Head may have the stamina of a modern action film, but it doesn’t suggest that Bobo shares the physical capabilities of a young man. He’s been burned by a career in the service, and although this gives him experience, it also means that his body has been severely damaged throughout his lifetime. Bobo is often at the losing end of fights, and even the ones that he wins leave him severely scarred. It felt like the complete opposite of what Stallone was doing only a few years earlier in The Expendables; while the geriatric action franchise had asked him to essentially be a superhero, Bullet the the Head allowed him to be vulnerable again.

Sylvester Stallone Passes the Torch to Jason Momoa in ‘Bullet to the Head’

Although he felt more vulnerable, Sylvester Stallone has still passed along a few lessons to the next generation of action stars. In Bullet to the Head, he gets to share a few brutal fight sequences with Aquaman himself, Jason Momoa. Momoa co-stars as Keegan, a mercenary who’s been hired by the crime lord Robert Nkomo Morel (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) to kill Bobo. Bobo’s motivations for taking down Keegan are personal, as he was responsible for the death of his partner Blanchard. While Blanchard and Bobo weren’t exactly “close” on an emotional level, working alongside another cop for so long generated a sense of loyalty. Bobo feels that he owes it to Blanchard to see Keegan face the consequences of his actions.

The battle between Bobo and Keegan is unquestionably the film’s highlight; in many ways, Momoa appears to be giving a performance that resembles one that Stallone himself could have given during the peak of his career. Both characters have a signature nastiness and try to inflict as much pain upon each other as possible. While this felt like a throwback to his earlier work for Stallone, it felt like Momoa was allowed to play things darker than the DC franchise had ever allowed him to. It felt like a “passing of the torch” moment from one action giant to another.

Sylvester Stallone the movie star gets a lot of credit, but Stallone the actor is still underrated. Bullet to the Head showed that the “Italian Stallion” was still capable of giving emotional, dramatically realized performances that shed a spotlight on dark characters. The fact that he also gets to beat up bad guys is almost beside the point!

Bullet to the Head is available to stream on Max in the U.S.

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James Gunn Will Disappoint an Entire Fandom if He Fails To Find Room for the Most Criminally Underused of DCU Heroes- Armessa Movie News

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Image via Cartoon Network

We’re all accustomed to seeing the likes of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman on the big screen, but there are other members of the Justice League who are just as cool but don’t get nearly enough love, and fans are calling on James Gunn to give one hero in particular a shot.

We’ve seen him make a small appearance in the Snyder cut of the Justice League: Martian Manhunter, an alien from Mars with the ability to change his appearance, as well as the ability to fly and use telepathy. He introduced himself to Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) at the end of the Snyder cut, but obviously, that went nowhere. Now fans are calling for him to be given the chance he deserves — and hopefully be given a vital role in any of the upcoming DCU projects.

Although, looking at the roster of upcoming projects in the first chapter “Gods and Monsters,” there isn’t anything dedicated to Martian Manhunter, but that doesn’t mean he won’t show up at some point. The first chapter will likely set up the main players in the DCU, and he is a pretty big player, so it’s likely he’ll show up in some capacity. He could possibly show up in the Lanterns series as it’s been revealed the show will follow a detective-mystery plot with the Green Lantern. Manhunter did disguise himself as a detective when he was first introduced in the comics, so it would make sense to introduce him in such a show.

Fans added their own points to the original discussion, talking about which stories they’d like to see Gunn tackle with the character.

He could even be the chairman of the Justice League if some fans have their way.

If you’re wondering why we haven’t seen a lot of the Martian Manhunter, it’s probably because most recent lineups of the Justice League have replaced him with Cyborg, who arguably is better suited to the Teen Titans. Why he’s been shunned by the mainstream is a mystery when he’s very well known and even a favorite among readers of the comics.

Some were quick to point the finger at Zack Snyder’s version of the character who was wasted in the films.

Hopefully, Gunn will do the character justice and answer fans’ prayers. The Justice League without Martian Manhunter is like the Avengers without Captain America; he’s a mainstay of the team, and it’s about time he finally got the mainstream attention he deserves. Luckily, Gunn has teased New Frontier, a story that heavily involves Martian Manhunter in the comics, so we know the character is definitely on his radar even if it’s a long wait before we ever see him on our screens.

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Angie Everhart is one of the most criminally underrated SI Swimsuit models ever! Before Christina Hendricks became popular with Mad Men, Angie was the gold standard for redhead goddesses and still is in my book! – Hotties, Heartstoppers & Babes

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Angie Everhart is one of the most criminally underrated SI Swimsuit models ever! Before Christina Hendricks became popular with Mad Men, Angie was the gold standard for redhead goddesses and still is in my book!

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Hotties, Heartstoppers & Babes

A Criminally Underrated Superhero Movie Luxuriates in Cult Glory- Armessa Movie News

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There’s a widespread belief that 1999’s cult classic Mystery Men was the right movie at the wrong time, with the superhero comedy arriving at a period where the genre was nowhere near as popular as it is today.

Sandwiched in between Wesley Snipes’ game-changing Blade and Bryan Singer’s boom-launching X-Men, director Kinka Usher’s offbeat ensemble effort didn’t quite have the appeal to entice fans of comic book adaptations or broad studio-backed comedies, leading to a disastrous performance at the box office.

via Universal

Budgeted at a hefty $68 million, Mystery Men tanked hard after failing to even recoup half of that amount from theaters, before home video eventually saw it welcomed into the hearts and minds of audiences everywhere. These days, it’s in the position to state a strong case as perhaps the single most underrated superhero film ever made, a sentiment that’s being shared on the forums of Reddit as we speak.

Irreverent, ridiculous, and hilarious in equal measure, a cabal of ragtag crimefighters (including members who can only turn invisible when nobody’s watching, an expert marksman with every from of cutlery except knives, and a very angry dude) banding together to stop the nefarious threat of criminal mastermind Casanova Frankenstein is borderline genius in the way it subverts the tropes of superhero cinema while also lovingly embracing them.

A legacy sequel has been mooted on the odd occasion, but we wouldn’t be in the position of wondering what might have been had Mystery Men managed to ride the renewed wave of interest in spandex and superpowers first time around, but the summer of 1999 was hardly ideal positioning.

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10 Criminally Underrated Gangster Movies, According To Reddit – Armessa Movie News

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Fans of gangster movies might have the impression that there aren’t any major offerings in the genre in 2022, but that’s only because a couple of releases have flown under the radar. Among the best ones are the Allan Ungar biopic, Bandit, which explains how the gangster managed to rob 59 banks in a row, and How I Fell In Love With A Gangster, which covers the life of one of Poland’s most notorious criminals.


Like the two movies, there are a couple of other gangster flicks that are appreciated by critics as well as the few fans that watched them but aren’t widely known to the public. Luckily, Redditors have pointed them out. And with all of them being available on streaming services, modern-day fans can get to see what they missed.

SCREENRANT VIDEO OF THE DAY

Gotti (1996)

Stream On HBO Max

When speaking of Gotti, Redditor Ghettobx admits they were “so happy to come across that movie.” In it, mobster John Gotti becomes a celebrity Don after rising through the ranks of the Gambino crime family.

The HBO TV movie is often overshadowed by the one starring John Travolta, which got way more press, yet it was panned by critics. The former is the superior movie and the difference all lies in the performances. While Travolta got a Razzie nomination for “Worst Actor,” Armand Assante received an Emmy nomination for “Outstanding Lead Actor In a Miniseries or TV Movie” (via Emmys). Gotti also shines because it isn’t just a standard shoot-em-up flick. Instead, much emphasis is placed on Gotti’s legal troubles and his Capone-like thirst for superstardom, which went against the traditional Cosa Nostra need for privacy.

Sonatine (1993)

Stream On Amazon Prime Video

A couple of Yakuza members decide to hide at a beach house when a mob peace-keeping mission in a different territory goes wrong. JoePesci2246 calls it a “somewhat realistic gangster film.”

The majority of gangster movies suffer from the trope of the seasoned criminals being in control for most of the movie but here, things go south very quickly. No one always operates from a position of strength, which explains why the Redditor thinks of the movie as more realistic. For most of the runtime, the Yakuza drifters are vulnerable, and it’s constantly hinted that more doom is still coming. And that feels like how things are more likely to play out in real-life.

Eastern Promises (2007)

Stream On Amazon Prime Video

Redditor shalala1234 says “If you’re going gangster, Eastern Promises does not disappoint.” In it, a midwife finds herself in trouble after delivering the baby of a teenage girl who happens to be part of a prostitution ring run by the Russian mafia.

There are many unusual things about the movie and one of them is the lack of guns. But that doesn’t mean there’s no violence for gangster movie fans to chew on. Eastern Promises has one of the most iconic movie fight scenes where Chechen assassins attempt a hit at a bathhouse using linoleum knives. Away from the brutality, sex trafficking is dissected, analyzed, and condemned in a satisfactory manner. The plot unfolds in an engaging manner, which is to be expected from a movie whose script was written by Peaky Blinders creator, Steve Knight.

The Drop (2014)

Stream On Disney+

A barman gets caught up in an investigation after the mob-owned bar he works at gets robbed. In a thread about underrated gangster movies, Jerryswolf names The Drop and simply refers to it as a “great movie.”

James Gandolfini might have played one of the greatest TV characters of all time, Tony Soprano, but his last ever project isn’t known by many. That’s a shame because he shines here in familiar territory, and so does Tom Hardy, who has taken on gangster roles before. The two play to each other’s strengths in The Drop, with Gandolfini channeling his usual authoritativeness and Hardy thriving on conversations. Though box office numbers only stopped at $18 million, the movie has positive critic and audience reviews (via Box Office Mojo).

Get Carter (1971)

Stream On Amazon Prime Video

In the British film, a London gangster embarks on a revenge mission after his brother gets killed. Redditor wile_e_canuck thinks “not many movies have the guts to have the main character do the stuff he did.”

A major reason Get Carter is buried in the heap is that it was panned by critics, at first. However, it has come to be viewed as one of the best British gangster movies thanks to stamps of approval from Guy Ritchie and Quentin Tarantino (via Financial Times). As for the “guts” the Redditor is pointing out, it’s all about the amorality of the main character (played by a young Michael Caine). At the time, the brutality and lack of remorse felt a bit too much but all that has come to be seen as normal in modern times.

The General (1998)

Stream On Pluto TV

After conducting various heists Dublin, crime boss Martin Cahill attracts the attention of the IRA and IVF. HacksawJimDGN thinks the movie is perfect for those who “want something away from the usual Hollywood stuff.”

Fans who simply wish to see movies about intriguing real-life happenings are guaranteed to have a blast while watching the general since it stays true to history. And as the Redditor explains, it’s a very British tale, hence most Hollywood tropes don’t appear. And just as the gangsters are formidable, so are the law enforcement officers, with one of them played by John Voight. The casting decision definitely didn’t help boost the movie at the time of its release, but audiences will definitely appreciate its awesomeness now.

State Of Grace (1990)

Stream On Amazon Prime Video

An undercover officer tries to get to a New York City crime boss, but his mission becomes complicated by romantic feelings. About it, BobbyMonetti writes: “Really good movie. Great cast in it too.”

Star names such as Sean Penn, Gary Oldman, and Robin Wright should make any movie popular, but State Of Grace remains unknown because of poor timing. It barely stood a chance after being released in the same year as two of the greatest gangster movies by two of the greatest directors (Goodfellas and The Godfather: Part III). That it was set in the same location as the former didn’t help either. But in terms of storyline and performances, it measures up to the two.

Mean Streets (1973)

Stream On Amazon Prime Video

After getting borrowing money from a dangerous loan shark, a young gangster tries to find ways to free himself. About Mean Streets, DRT034 admits that they “might even prefer it over GoodFellas.”

Mean Streets is possibly the least-talked about of Martin Scorsese’s top movies and part of the reason why is that most of the cast members (including DeNiro and Keitel) weren’t significant stars by then. Nonetheless, the movie has everything one would want in a Scorsese gangster flick. From young and misguided characters to vicious mob bosses, the underworld life is glorified and condemned in equal measure.

Un Prophete (2009)

Stream On Vudu

A young inmate struggles to adapt to life in prison, but things change for him when he is taken under a Corsican mob boss’ wing. ParisTourist3 says they were “left speechless, yet extremely fulfilled.”

In many gangster movies, prison signifies a failure on the part of the criminals. It is hell while the outside world is paradise. However, in the world of Un Prophete, there is no better place for a hardworking criminal than prison. For the protagonist, life becomes even better than it was on the outside, and all that is the product of great character development. It’s what fans will highly appreciate in a movie that initially appears dull.

The Thief (1981)

Stream On Kanopy

A cat burglar hopes to conduct one last heist before settling for family life with his girlfriend, but things don’t go as he planned. Redditor marco1989 calls it their “favorite James Caan movie.”

A collaboration between Michael Mann and James Caan was always going to yield great results. As is the case with most of the director’s movies, there is everlasting tension, leaving audiences unsure of what the fate of the burglar will be. Touching subplots are sprinkled into the criminal activities too, giving audiences many reasons not to turn off.

NEXT: The 10 Worst Gangster Movies Ever Made According To Rotten Tomatoes

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