August 11, 2011

MRQE Rewind: Race Against Time

30 Minutes or Less (coming out this Friday) stars Jesse Eisenberg as Nick, a pizza delivery guy with a bomb strapped to his chest and only a few hours to rob a bank or else.... Sounds familiar yet? Yes, it’s crunch time again, your palms are getting sweaty and the tension is getting unbearable. Sounds like the perfect time (ha!) to revisit iconic storylines revolving around a race against the clock or beating a looming deadline. Ready, Set, Go! The following flicks are guaranteed to get your adrenaline pumping.

48Hrs. (1982) -- MRQE Metric: 66

After surviving a shooting, tough cop Jack Cates (Nick Nolte) must team up with Reggie Hammond (Eddie Murphy), a wise-cracking criminal on temporary parole in order to track down a suspect in, you guessed it… 48 hours.  Ensue much hilarious banter and hectic action sequences. 48 Hrs is often credited as being the first "buddy cop" film and inspired subsequent cinematic odd couple pairings such as Lethal Weapon and Rush Hour. The film also spawned a vastly inferior 1990 sequel, Another 48 Hrs.

Le Prix du Danger (1983) -- MRQE Metric: n/a

Based on Robert Sheckley’s 1958 novel The Prize of Peril, Le Prix du Danger stars the closest to what French people have to a dark, handsome, and taciturn hero: our very own Gerard Lanvin! Lanvin stars as Fran├žois Jacquemard, an unemployed family man who signs up to take part in a game show where contestants must survive for a few hours and cross the finish line without getting killed by bloodthirsty bounty hunters. Fun fact: Le Prix du Danger was heavily plagiarized by Paul Michael Glaser in his 1987 action-packed Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle The Running Man.

D.O.A. (1950) -- MRQE Metric: n/a

Small-town accountant Frank Bigelow gets much more than what he bargained for during a vacation in San Francisco. Feeling poorly after a night out on the town, he is horrified when doctors tell him he has been poisoned with a luminous toxin.  With no known antidote and a week to live, Frank sets out on a frantic search to solve his “own murder"! A tense and bleak film noir complete with a moody jazz score, D.O.A. was critically acclaimed on its release and was remade once in 1969 as Color Me Dead and in a 1988 thriller of the same name starring Meg Ryan and Dennis Quaid. Watch the full movie for free on You Tube below!

True Crime (1999) -- MRQE Metric: 60

Based on a best-selling novel by Andrew Klavan, True Crime is directed by and stars Clint Eastwood as Steve Everett, a womanizing, over-the-hill journalist who finds a chance for redemption when he covers a human interest story about Frank Beachum (Isaiah Washington), a black mechanic accused of murdering a pregnant shop assistant. When Everett discovers that Beachum is due to be executed later that night by lethal injection, he sets on a desperate race against time to prevent the execution and prove Beachum’s innocence.  Eastwood creates a nail-biting finale by cutting back and forth between shots of Everett's desperate search for evidence and of Beachum as he is being prepared for execution.

Panic in the Streets (1950) -- MRQE Metric: n/a

Filmed entirely on location in New Orleans with many local nonprofessionals selected by director Elia Kazan, Panic in the Streets stars Richard Widmark as Clint Reed, a Public Health Service doctor who only has 48 hours to locate and inoculate two killers (Jack Palance and Zero Mostel) infected with pneumonic plague.  Reed teams up with reluctant police captain Tom Warren (Paul Douglas) and the two men set off on a dizzying race to take control of the situation and prevent a catastrophic epidemic. Watch the full movie for free on You Tube below!

WarGames (1983) -- MRQE Metric: 76

"Global Thermonuclear War"? Cool game! That what David (Matthew Broderick), a young computer whizz, thinks when he inadvertently taps into a Pentagon computer. Unfortunately for him and the Soviet Union, this is not a video game and NORAD has given the computer total control over the launching of nuclear weaponry. Broderick and government official McKittrick (Dabney Coleman) must now race against the clock to reverse the computer's resolve to start World War III. Unmissable stuff if only for an enthusiastic performance by a baby-faced Broderick and cool vintage 1980s video games graphics.

Back to the Future (1985) -- MRQE Metric: 91

The year is 1985 and Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) is accidentally transported back thirty years to 1955 in Dr. Emmett Brown's (Christopher Lloyd) nuclear-powered DeLorean time machine. To avoid being stuck in the past forever, Marty convinces the Dr. Brown from 1955 to help him get back to the 1980s, but when Marty accidentally changes the course of history by stopping his parents falling in love, his whole future is in jeopardy. In a hectic and suspenseful climatic scene, the only way Doc can return Marty to the future is by using lightning hitting a clock tower before 10.04 pm.

Buried (2010) -- MRQE Metric: 75

Iraq, 2006: Paul Conroy (Ryan Reynolds) is an American truck driver who wakes up, following an attack by a group of Iraqis, to find he is buried alive inside a wooden coffin. With only a cigarette lighter and a cell phone Paul has ninety minutes to find a way to be rescued before his oxygen supply runs out.  Unfortunately, save for a sympathetic special agent, the outside world proves to be less than willing to help Paul in his hellish struggle for survival. Reynolds gives a strong and desperate performance as an ordinary man caught in a horrific situation and struggling not to panic or slowly go insane. Watch out for the especially grim and haunting twist ending!

Source Code (2011) -- MRQE Metric: 76

Duncan Jones (AKA David Bowie’s son) made an instant cult classic with Moon in 2009. Source Code is more mainstream in its action sequences but no less philosophical than Jones’ first effort. Jake Gylenhaal stars as a soldier who is transferred, without knowing how or why, to the body of an unknown man on a train in Chicago. On the train, he falls in love with Michelle Monaghan’s character only to lose her when the train explodes eight minutes after he arrived on it. He then discovers that he’s been sent on a mission by the military to discover the train bomber and is repeatedly plunged back into those eight minutes in order to discover as much evidence as possible. Gylenhaal has to deal with solving the mystery of the bomber, but also dealing with the fact that he cannot stay with his newfound love. 

Run Lola Run (1998) -- MRQE Metric: 77

Lola (Franka Potente), a young German woman, receives a frantic phone call from her boyfriend Manni (Moritz Bleibtreu) who begs her come up with 100,000 deutsche marks within twenty minutes. He has lost the money belonging to his gangster boss and will have to rob a store if Lola doesn’t find a way to reimburse the money. Of course things do not run things smoothly for Lola as she runs frantically through the streets of Berlin, accompanied by a pulse-pounding soundtrack. In an inventive narrative twist, director Tom Tykwer delivers three alternative endings to the same story: each time, Lola’s adventures are slightly different and so are the results and consequences of her actions. 


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