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Legends & Lies: The Patriots - How Freedom Was Won
(2017)
Episode 12, Season 2

Retrospective
This episode serves as a highlight reel of key moments in the American Revolution. Such figures as the "smuggler" John Hancock were influential in taking a strong stand against what were perceived as unfair British taxation of the colonists.

But the program argues that the American Revolution was about much more than taxation. Instead, it was a "class war" that eventually led to an American identity. One figure that stands above all others in that identity is George Washington.

With two episodes devoted to Washington, this final program expands the lens to the first great era of the new republic that may be called the Age of Washington. A turning point is surely the 1787 Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia over which Washington presided and was subsequently elected the nation's first president.

The passing of an age occurs with the program's concluding scene that recalls the deaths of two of the Founding Fathers, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, who ironically died within hours of each other on July 4, 1826, exactly fifty years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Their lives serve as bookends for the first era of the grand dramatic experiment of the United States of America.

The Provocateur
(2022)

Steamy & Sultry
"The Art of Passion" (a.k.a., "The Provocateur") may be summed up in one line when an extremely eager couple step into the shower with each other: "May I soap your back?"

The film is structured around a set of steamy scenes with Dr. Hope Williams and Mr. James "Casanova" Sosa. Hope meets James at a showing of his art. She was an aspiring artist in high school, prior to pursuing an M. D. Almost instantly, the sparks begin to fly between Hope and James.

The omnipresent character named Arnie, who is stalking Hope is nothing more than a mechanical plot device that helps to fan the flames of the passion between Hope and James, as they move from chic place to chic place to avoid Arnie's predation. It wasn't very convincing that the police were unable to locate Arnie while Hope made a bee-line to his apartment to retrieve the phone Arnie had stolen from her.

At one point in the film, Hope's bestie Nina wants to know all the details of the love life of Hope and James. By that point, however, Nina was asking a purely rhetorical question since Arnie had already shot a film through a bedroom window of Hope and James in all of their glory demonstrating the art of passion.

While well-photographed and with elegant interior settings, "The Art of Passion" required exactly what the Queen told Polonius in "Hamlet": "More matter and less art!"

Legends & Lies: The Patriots: Forgotten Heroes
(2016)
Episode 10, Season 2

Great Heroes Remembered
Five thousand Americans of African descent fought in the Revolutionary War. There was an implied quid pro quo that by enlisting, they would be freed from servitude in their households. Unfortunately, it didn't entirely work out that way.

Jack Sisson was a Zouave in Rhode Island, who distinguished himself in battle on the side of the Colonists. Running away from their masters to join the war effort, the slaves used what George Ruffin called "leg bail."

After Sisson's escape, Major William Barton conscripts him as an asset to win the release of General Charles Lee currently held in captivity by the British. In a daring plot, Sisson as a skilled boatman will prove invaluable in the capture of the British General Richard Prescott, who will be dangled in exchange for Lee,. The mission is successful and the exchange is completed!

Other Africans who distinguish themselves in battle are Peter Salem, Salem Poor, and Prince Estrabrook. One key encounter is at Fort Mercer in New York, which pits the Colonists against Hessian mercenaries. Some American slaves have joined the Brits in the so-called Ethiopian regiment. The colonists score an impressive victory.

The Rhode Island regiment will play pivotal roles both in the Battle of Rhode Island and at the final battle at Yorktown, where the Rhode Island regiment will be on the frontlines. The capturing of Redoubt No. 10 will essentially mark the final battle of the war.

The contributions of these great heroes were not rewarded, as only about a third of the veterans were granted their freedom. Their stories must be remembered.

Her Obsession
(2022)

Pilates is Good Exercise, Fun, and Exciting!!!
Amélie Didot has just moved from Montreal to Florida, where she has opened a new Pilates center. There is instant chemistry between Amélie and Pierce Dalton, the "hunk" who is taking one of her classes. In their first private lesson, it becomes clear that Pilates is not only good exercise, but it is also fun and exciting!!!

"A Dangerous Affair" (a.k.a., "Her Obsession") is structured as a Harlequin romance. Whenever Amélie and Pierce are alone, the sparks begin to fly. The only problem is that Pierce has some baggage in the form of an ex-girlfriend who is also a stalker.

It soon becomes apparent that Amélie has a target on her back due to the resourceful Fran Gibbons. Amélie is not only harassed but hospitalized with four stitches and a concussion courtesy of Fran.

The action became predictable and even turned into a near farcical romp towards the end. From Pilates, we move to wrestling in the seaweed on the beach. Still, there was some excellent film footage from Florida and many chic interior settings. There were also good supporting roles in the neighbor Margaret, the heiress Barbara, and Buster the dog.

The strength of the film was the performance of Aubree Bouché in the role of Amélie. Everyone will look forward to Aubree appearing in more Lifetime films.

1BR
(2019)

Dystopian Drama or Pure Horror Film?
"1BR" was a film that juggled the horror genre with a dystopian message about totalitarianism. In the end, the filmmakers were caught in the middle without making a clear social statement.

There was a strong performance by the lead actress in the role of young Sarah. Unfortunately, she could not carry a film that relied on too many clichés.

A shortcoming of the film was in the excessive violence. The scene with Sarah and her father was heartbreaking. My favorite character was Sarah's sassy friend Lisa. It was especially gratuitous to see her make a mortal exit from the film.

In sum, there was little that was innovative in this unpleasant film. Rod Serling could always find the right balance between suspense coupled with a strong social theme in his Twilight Zone series. This film needed his creative thinking.

Legends & Lies: The Patriots: Alexander Hamilton & Aaron Burr - Deadly Division
(2016)
Episode 9, Season 2

Deathbed Scenes Galore
This episode morbidly portrays the last breaths taken by George Washington, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson, each expiring on their beds. In another grisly scene, Alexander Hamilton is dragged off the New Jersey dueling field after being mortally wounded by Aaron Burr.

These lugubrious scenes underscore the changing of the guard as new nation experiences growing pains. The Founding Fathers wanted to avoid political parties. But before the century was out, the Federalists and the Democratic Republicans were locked in a bitter struggle of conflicting visions for the nation.

The political rivals made extensive use of the press to undermine and slander their rivals. The nation that was built on "virtue" was severely lacking in that human trait due to the mudslinging. The Hamilton-Burr duel was especially ugly. Commentator H. R. Brands argues that the duel was fought because both men's careers were in decline. But neither man benefited fro the duel. Hamilton died, and Burr's career in politics was essentially over. Later, he was accused of treason by Jefferson for his adventurism in the West. He was acquitted due to his skills as an attorney.

Ironically, Burr likely saved the life of Hamilton at Harlem Heights during the chaotic battle of New York in 1776. He had unlimited promise as a political figure in the new nation, but his lack of a moral compass was at the heart of his amoral and unprincipled life. Hamilton absolutely refused to retract any of his public criticism of Burr. As one of the tragic footnotes to American history, the Hamilton-Burr duel demonstrated that Hamilton exemplified the virtuous traits of a political leader that the Founding Fathers wanted to embody in the new nation. His death was a great loss for America.

Below the Fold
(2021)

Cold Case Drama is Bitter Cold
It would be an understatement to suggest that this murder mystery was unsatisfying. Two top-notch newspaper reporters get deeper and deeper into a pair of cold cases only to have the plug pulled on them, not by their newspaper editor, but by their screenwriter!

David Fremont and Lisa Johnson are the two reporters for a small town paper whose stock in trade is the latest story on a local tractor pull. But David and Lisa tenaciously pursue a pair of ten-year-old murder cases in which two young women were brutally killed with no conclusive evidence about the killer.

The drama was moving along at a brisk pace with some excellent location footage and an effective period style of the late twentieth century. But the filmmakers curiously opted for an ambivalent ending that offered no effective conclusion to their film. For the film audience, this was not a case of hitting "below the fold," but hitting "below the belt!"

Was the artistic goal to leave a sense of uncertainty that the cases would never be solved? Was the intent to portray a wilderness of mirrors in the area of true crime? Or, was the budget exhausted and the film had to be brought to an abrupt conclusion?

Legends & Lies: The Patriots: President George Washington - Forged in Conflict
(2016)
Episode 8, Season 2

The Great Compromise
The fledgling United States faced multiple crises following the victory at Yorktown. The country labored under an enormous debt, and the currency was in a shambles. Facing foreclosures, Daniel Shays and his fellow farmers in western Massachusetts rose up against tax collectors.

Four years into the new republic, it was clear that the Articles of Confederation could not serve the country. The burning question was how to balance states rights with a strong centralized federal government.

The key shaper of the new document at the Constitutional convention in Philadelphia in the summer of 1787 was the gifted intellect James Madison. What came to be known as the "Great Compromise" broke the deadlock through the innovation of bicameral legislation in the structure of the two Houses of Congress.

The Constitution was a delicate balance among monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy. In the end, it was not a perfect document, but Ben Franklin felt that it was the best possible result. Franklin glimpsed "a rising sun" in the nation's future. A Bill of Rights was a subsequent refinement of the Constitution that ensures the rights of the citizens.

George Washington is the indispensable man for a strong executive. Yet at his New York inauguration, he felt that he was "a culprit going to his execution." But he will provide the necessary leadership at the head of the troops during the Whiskey Rebellion in western Pennsylvania. He demonstrates magnanimity in pardoning the rebels.

In his time, there was clearly no one comparable to George Washington. Napoleon appropriately quipped, "They wanted me to be another Washington, and I couldn't do it."

Escape and Evasion
(2019)

Into the Heart of Darkness
There could have been a much better title than "Escape and Evasion." The film was derivative of Joseph Conrad's novel "Heart of Darkness" in the mission of the protagonist to put an end to a monomaniacal rogue commander who lost his equilibrium in the heart of darkness of nineteenth-century Africa.

There was an outstanding performance by the lead actor playing Seth, who sustained the intensity of the commander tasked with locating and killing the deranged Carl Boddi. Another intriguing character was the crusty and world-weary Pennyshaw, the mastermind of the Seth's mission.

A shortcoming of the film was the weak grounding in the geopolitical realities of Myanmar where the Seth's mission occurred. At a time when there is a persecution of the Rohingya people, the filmmakers played loose with the facts in the fictionalized tale of atrocities committed by Boddi. The true story needed to be told.

It seemed like a stretch for a romantic relationship to develop between Seth and the journalist twin sister of Josh, who died on Seth's mission. Rebecca was appalled to learn that Seth had essentially abandoned her brother. Then, all seemed to be well again with Seth and Rebecca commiserating at Josh's funeral. At one point, someone should have said the line, "the horror! The horror!", especially when the main intent of the film emerged as a plea to deal with the horrors of PTSD.

There was ambiguity in the character of Seth, whose explosive temper led him to kill a child. His shooting of a member of his team was ironic in that he was PREVENTING his subordinate from killing another child! It was small consolation to the self-loathing Seth that he was the only survivor after a journey into the heart of dearkness.

Legends & Lies: The Patriots: Francis Marion - American Guerrilla Fighter
(2016)
Episode 7, Season 2

The Ol' Swamp Fox
In the early 1780s in South Carolina, a new way of fighting emerged in the tactics of Francis Marion, who learned the art of guerilla warfare from the Cherokee during the French and Indian War. Ultimately, Marion played a pivotal role in the defeat of the British strategy in the South, where there was a large royalist contingent.

Marion became fed up with the elitists in Charlestown. He jumped out a window and severely injured his ankle while making a quick exit from one of their parties. Soon, Charlestown will be captured by the British.

Banastre Tarleton is Cornwallis' chief enforcer, and the result is the heinous treatment of civilians in the South. This will become a rallying cry for the patriots and will inspire many to join Marion. Cornwallis adopted a "divide and conquer" strategy that proved to be misguided. His counterpart, General Horatio Gates, is a power-grabbing opportunist. Gates' traditional approach of squaring off with the more experienced and better equipped British troops has catastrophic results in the Camden fiasco.

Francis Marion was far more disciplined than Ethan Allen, who is now imprisoned in Great Britain. Marion creates fear and confusion under the cover of darkness, and the British have no counter-tactics. George Washington recognizes the potential of Marion to disrupt the British supply lines. Ultimately, this will impede Corwallis' plan for a northern advance.

Outfoxed in the swamps, Tarleton coins the name "Swamp Fox" for Marion. Luck runs out for Marion's beloved nephew, Gabriel, who is shot by the British. When the redcoat who killed Gabriel is brought to Marion, emotion does not cloud his mind. He wants the man to have a fair trial to demonstrate the values and ideals of the Revolution.

Washington's appointment of Nathaniel Greene pays off in the guerilla warfare of Marion alongside the Continental army. Henry Lee is assigned to work with Marion in the attack on Fort Watson. Marion devises a "tower" to shoot downward at the men in the fort. Fort Watson is one of a series of forts serving as supply lines. When this link is cut, Cornwallis will be isolated. In effect, Cornwallis is "driven" to Yorktown where he will be cornered.

Marion is one of the key figures in the Battle of Eutaw Springs. The defeat of the British here will force them to the sea where they will be greeted by French warships. Arguably, Eutaw Springs is the battle that ends the war.

Francis Marion comes to be known as the "father of modern guerilla warfare." Today, the U. S. Army Rangers honor him as one of their founding fathers.

Legends & Lies: The Patriots: Benedict Arnold - American Traitor
(2016)
Episode 6, Season 2

A Patriot Gone Sour
Benjamin Tallmadge was an unassuming patriot serving the revolutionary cause as a team player in George Washington's spy network known as the Culper Ring. By contrast, Benedict Arnold was a high-profile military commander whose actions were self-serving. Whenever he felt slighted, his personal side always won out over what should have been a dedication to the cause of American liberty.

At the pivotal battle of Saratoga, Arnold's heroics were crucial in turning the tide against the British. But Arnold, who received a serious leg wound, was passed over in recognition for his contributions.

Still, Arnold's greatest supporter was George Washington, who saw to it that Arnold was at least appointed governor of Philadelphia. In this plum of a job, there were allegations of malfeasance, eventually leading to a possible court martial.

While in Philadelphia, Arnold was smitten with Miss Peggy Shippen, the daughter of a judge with royalist sympathies. The partnership of Benedict Arnold and Peggy Shippen had overtones of Mr. And Mrs. Macbeth. After he purchased a 94-acre estate to please his new wife, Arnold found himself deep in debt.

At his military hearing, Arnold was acquitted of all serious charges except for the most frivolous. Yet he still was determined to betray both his country and his great sponsor George Washington. Giving up details for a British assault on West Point and the apprehension of Washington, Arnold was foiled only when his confederate, John André was captured on a 50-mile ride through the Hudson Valley after his ship departed.

Knowing that he faced the death penalty, which was the fate of André, Benedict Arnold decided that discretion was the better part of valor and fled to England.

Legends & Lies: The Patriots: Thomas Jefferson - Independence Declared
(2016)
Episode 5, Season 2

The Plot and the Fog Thickens
In the oratory of Patrick Henry, the question is raised: "Why stand we here idle?" It turns out that the patriots would not be idle, opting against John Dickinson of Pennsylvania's plea to negotiate for peace.

George Washington rises in Congress to assert: "Let us die as a free people, not as slaves to tyranny." Richard Henry Lee calls for independence in the Virginia Resolution.

Thomas Hickey is a pawn as an agent in an assassination attempt on the life of George Washington. Hickey is executed for "mutiny, sedition, and treachery."

Thomas Jefferson, "writer, philosopher, politician, and conflicted soul," pens the Declaration of Independence. The names of those affixed to the document would be judged traitors and hung by the neck until dead, if the revolution fails.

A young Ivy League graduate, Captain Nathan Hale, is sent by Washington as a spy. Hale has only one life to give for his country. A rare fog rolls in at Brooklyn, allowing Washington to retreat, Dunkirk-style, after he is boxed in by the insurmountable British troops. Is this great tactical recovery a sign of divine Providence?

My Stolen Life
(2022)

Mental Asylum Mystery
"Lies My Sister Told Me" (a.k.a., "My Stolen Life") is a gripping mystery about twins whose lives have been filled with tragedy.

One of the great scenes in the history of the cinema is the moment in "Chinatown" when Faye Dunaway's character reveals the hidden truth about the relationship she has with her daughter in the memorable line, "You're my daughter, my sister; my daughter, my sister; my daughter AND my sister!" A similar experience occurs in the climactic moment of this film that could be paraphrased as "You're my daughter, my niece; my daughter, my niece; my daughter AND my niece!"

Jennifer has placed her sister Tracy in a mental institution after a severe mental breakdown following the deaths of her father and her husband. But years pass and Tracy has not recovered sufficiently to be released. During one of Jennifer's monthly visits, Tracy knocks her out with a hypodermic injection, switches clothes, then makes her exit from the hospital.

When Tracy "impersonates" her sister, who has become a famous writer, things go well at first. But there is a fascinating ebb-and-flow in which, after charming her way through a book signing and flirting with her publisher, Tracy begins to revert to her unstable self. By contrast, in the asylum, Jennifer cannot convince the medical staff that she her sister has succeeded in switching their identities, and she would appear to be as unstable as her sister.

The most fascinating moment of the film is the denouement in which one of the twins is back in the mental asylum. But through a clever choice in costuming, the filmmakers make it ambiguous which one of the sisters is institutionalized and which one is walking free. The poor daughter Layla has to be confused about the two women and must be thinking to her self, "My mother, my aunt; my mother, my aunt; my mother AND my aunt!"

Legends & Lies: The Patriots: General George Washington - Commanding Revolution
(2016)
Episode 4, Season 2

The Watchword for General Washington: Discipline!
After George Washington was appointed commander of the revolutionary forces by the Continental Congress, he inherited a ragtag and ill-equipped group of un-trained colonists. Benjamin Franklin inspects the ragged troops and the poor supplies, but the coffers of the Congress are empty.

Washington instinctively realizes that he must impose discipline. He even initiates a spy ring. Henry Knox was a bookseller turned general. Knox oversees the transportation of canon captured at Fort Ticonderoga, moving 43 of them laboriously to Boston.

Clearly, the amateur army of the colonists is a mismatch against the trained and fully equipped redcoats. Washington's daring strategy is to play poker with the Brits. He sets up canon atop Dorchester Heights where he can shell Boston. Washington does not disclose to the troops that they are desperately short of powder. At a camp in Cambridge, Martha prays for George's success. After Generals Gage and Howe notice the canons, they decide to turn tail.

Washington was known as the "father" of his country because he was uniting the colonies in the war cause, not because he was the first president. His first military victory outside of Trenton will come 20 years to the day when was rejected as an officer in the British army.

Lies Between Friends
(2022)

The Little Orphan
Emily Bowser is a young woman who has learned how to play the victim card. Her father Steve got a raw deal when he took the blame for the accidental overdose of a friend when it was his buddy Ollie who had supplied the drugs. Now, Emily has her fangs out and is ready to seek revenge on Ollie, who has become a corporate magnate.

Emily worms her way into the magnificent Seattle home and the beautiful family of Ollie and his wife Claire. There is good dramatic tension developed as the unsuspecting couple is duped by their new house guest.

There was a nice touch by the performer playing Emily, as she conveyed the surface level naivety coupled with the deviousness. Even when she accidentally murders her own father, she is able to play the role of the little orphan to a tee, turning on the tears like a spigot.

A strength of the screenplay was in the genuine remorse and guilt felt by Ollie, who had allowed his friend Steve to go to jail and have his life altered by the lapse on the part of Ollie. The actors made Ollie and Claire into extremely decent people.

There was a convincing sense that the elites of the world may unwittingly do a lot of damage to those beneath them on the social ladder. The character of Steve was a kind man who never held a grudge against Ollie. But, growing up in a world of scarcity, the daughter could not tolerate the way she and her dad were slighted. It led her into the vortex of a deranged outlook on life. Through psychiatric care, Emily may finally receive the help that she deserves.

Legends & Lies: The Patriots: Benjamin Franklin - Inventing America
(2016)
Episode 3, Season 2

Benjamin Franklin: America's Celebrity
Benjamin Franklin played a not insignificant role in the American Revolution, but his contributions were taking place behind the scenes.

Franklin's personal success of a rags-to-riches ascent embodies the essence of the American Dream. Politically, he spent ten years in Great Britain. When he returned home, he was looked on with suspicion.

Previously, Franklin's proposed Albany Plan was a failed attempt to unify the colonies. His "Join or Die" slogan preceded the American Revolution by two decades. As a loyal subject of Great Britain, Franklin built a strong set of defenses in the western part of Pennsylvania.

By the time he accepted his ambassadorial post in London, Franklin was sixty years old and still a faithful royalist. But he slowly came to see that both sides were at such odds that the situation was irreconcilable. He thereby went from being an Englishman to an American.

Franklin's days were numbered in Great Britain after "leaking" the letters of Thomas Hutchinson. This was the salient moment that led to his falling out with the British authorities. It also resulted in a rupture between Franklin and his son that never healed. The son was a staunch supporter of the crown, and the father thought he should be hung.

A three-month standoff in Boston culminates in the Battle of Bunker Hill. The Americans surprise the British by shifting to Breed's Hill and made themselves appear in full view of the enemy. General Thomas Gate ordered the British ships in he harbor to fire on the colonists. General William Howe confronted the colonists on the ground.

The battle is essentially a standoff. But the British lose 1,000 men, the Americans four hundred, one of which is Dr. Warren. The Continental Congress places General George Washington in command of a ragtag force. As for the American "celebrity" Ben Franklin, he will put in an appearance at the Constitutional Convention in 1787, and his greatest legacy will be as a role model for the American Dream.

Souvenir
(2019)

Soap Opera
There was an outstanding performance by the actress playing the lead of Isabel, a young mom so desperate to get back to her son that she decides to become a surrogate in order to earn the money.

Unfortunately for Isabel, the two prospective parents, Sara and Joaquin, as well as the professor named Bruno with whom she is having an affair, were some of the most insensitive characters imaginable.

Throughout the film, there is the feeling of a soap opera in which Isabel finds herself at the center. There is virtually no warmth from the two parents and grave concerns about whether they could even pay her because of their financial problems. As for the professor, Bruno was callous to the degree that he would not even listen to her when she wanted him to know that he was the child's father.

The film's ending was so full of pathos that it was difficult to discern any order in this world without the sparkling presence of Isabel.

Legends & Lies: The Patriots: John Adams - Ready for War
(2016)
Episode 2, Season 2

"'One' if by Land; 'Two' if by Sea"!!!
As articulated by the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, the expression "'one' if by land and 'two' if by sea" was the secret signal of Paul Revere to place either one or two lanterns in the Old North Church, in order to alert the colonists about the impending British attack.

In the wake of the Boston Massacre, an enormous propaganda campaign ensued, as apparent in the exaggerated effect of Paul Revere's famous engraving of the incident. John Adams, the most brilliant legal mind in Massachusetts, is the defense attorney for Captain Preston and the British soldiers. Adams' character is defined by principle and ambition.

At the trial, Adams calls Dr. Palms as a key witness on King Street. And Patrick Carr's deathbed confession (hearsay evidence accepted in colonial law) to Dr. Jeffries is crucial: "Hew fired to defend himself." It cannot determined with certainty who cried "Fire" to begin the shooting.

The British Tea Act requires the colonists to purchase the tea from a single source. The Dartmouth and two other ships sit in Boston Harbor. Disguised as Mohawk Indians, the colonists dump tea valued at $2 million in today's dollars. There follows the Coercive Acts.

John Adams is becoming radicalized when Boston is placed under blockade and the capital moved to Salem. After Sam Adams calls for a conclave, the First Continental Congress convenes in Carpenters Hall in Philadelphia from September 5 to October 26, 1774. The British strategy of intimidation has backfired, and George Washington, the colonist with the most military experience, provides encouragement to the delegates of Massachusetts at the Congress.

In Boston at the Old South Meetinghouse, the deaths of the five gunned down in the Boston Massacre are memorialized. Dr. Joseph Warren is gathering correspondence from all quarters. John Adams and John Hancock flee Boston, which is no longer safe.

Paul Revere is summoned by Dr. Warren. Along with Patrick Dawes and other riders, Revere sneaks out of Boston to ride to Lexington with the warning "the regulars are coming out!" En route, Revere is detained by the Redcoats and might have been executed were it not for the sounds of gunshots outside a nearby tavern.

In an extremely confined space in Lexington, there is the "shot heard round the world," possibly ordered by Major Edward Mitchell, who interrogated Revere the previous evening.

The Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia unites the colonists in the decision to go to war. It convened on May 10, 1775. Colonel George Washington of Virginia is nominated by John Adams to be commander of the military. In Washington, there is the symbol of resilience of the colonists as a whole.

Ambulance
(2022)

Ambulance Chasers
It would be difficult to fault the technical side of "Ambulance," a film with non-stop action and a virtual tour of the city of Angels.

Danny Sharp has robbed 27 banks in his shadowy career, and the 28th promises a haul of $32 million if it is successful. On the human side, the film explores the relationship of two brothers, Danny and his adopted brother Will, who have taken different paths in life.

It is unfortunate for Will that he accepts Danny's offer to join his team in the heist of Federal Bank in downtown Los Angeles. Everything goes wrong, and Danny and Will hijack an ambulance in an attempt to make a getaway. The majority of this long film is the chase through L. A.

There was a dizzying quality to the camera angles and photography that involved drama both inside and outside the ambulance. The most dynamic character in the film was the skilled medic Cam Thompson, who is enlisted to perform surgery on a wounded cop during the chase.

Cam is good at her job, but she has a troubled past that is not entirely explained in the film. There was a nice touch at the end when Cam visits little Lyndsey in the hospital. Instead of her typical detachment, Cam now expresses compassion for the child whose life she helped to save.

This was first and foremost an action picture with character development taking a back seat. Be sure to buckle up for safety prior to watching this edge-of-your-seat film because the action is fast and furious.

Legends & Lies: The Patriots: Sam Adams & Paul Revere - The Rebellion Begins
(2016)
Episode 1, Season 2

Stand Up and Fight for Liberty!
Stand Up and Fight for Liberty!

The time is 1770. The place is Boston. A "warning shot" kills a little Liberty Boy named Christopher Seider, signaling a call to arms for colonial patriots.

The early seminal figure in the American Revolution is Samuel Adams, all-around unifier and architect of rebellion. He organized the Sons of Liberty, bringing in silversmith Paul Revere and Dr. Joseph Warren.

Guy Fawkes Day is celebrated, and Boston becomes the epicenter of the struggle. To avoid taxes, smuggling is developed. John Hancock is the richest man in Boston, and he begins working closely with Sam Adams.

The dreadful Lieutenant Governor Thomas Hutchinson is answerable only to the British crown. Writs of Assistance allow the British the search of property. The Green Dragon tavern is the site of the early planning of a response from the colonists. Through the efforts of Sam Adams, Sons of Liberty groups appear throughout the colonies. Paul Revere recruits Ebenezer Macintosh to the group.

General Gage cannot abide deserters and rebels. His executions promote fear that in turn results in hate from the colonists. Five years before Lexington, the first truly consequential shot of the revolution is the one that kills young Christopher Seider, one of the Liberty Boys. It was intended as a shot of warning by a British loyalist.

Sam Adams' idea is to boycott British goods. An elaborate funeral is given for young Christopher with poet Phyllis Wheatley memorializing the event in verse.

On March 5, 1770, tension boil over and reach a climax during the evening outside of the Boston Customs House. The British want to demonstrate that they have the power. Just days after the funeral of Christopher, a crowd grows and tempers flair. The tensions that result in the Boston Massacre find a lasting place in American history as the moment when it is felt that it is necessary to stand up and fight for liberty!

Legends & Lies: Butch Cassidy: "The Last Man Standing"
(2015)
Episode 10, Season 1

The "Non-Violent" Criminal
Robert LeRoy Parker (1866-1908) took the name of Butch Cassidy from his mentor in crime, Mike Cassidy. Butch went on to become a criminal mastermind, a genuine Western godfather presiding over the colorful group known as The Wild Bunch (or, The Train Robbers Syndicate).

Butch linked up with his famous partner the Sundance Kid long after he began his career in crime. For Butch, the stick-ups were not penny ante affairs, but major robberies. The program makes it clear that Butch's group netted over a $1 million dollars in today's currency.

An early sidekick of Butch's was the hothead Elzy Lay. Butch and Elzy were a study in contrasts as Butch never resorted to violence in his robberies. Elzy killed a man and was sentenced to life in prison.

Ironically, Elizy's sentence was later commuted when he showed bravery during a prison riot. While Elzy marched out of jail a free man, Butch and Sundance were eventually tracked down by the efficient Pinkerton Agency in Bolivia. In San Vicente, the infamous duo met their end in a shootout.

The Murder of Nicole Brown Simpson
(2019)

Sultry
It was a curious choice on the part of the filmmakers to paint a picture of Nicole Brown Simpson that was not very flattering. The centerpiece of the film was tawdry one-night-stand with her house painter. Nicole did the seducing, knowing only that it was "Glen" she was sleeping with. Unbeknownst to her, this was Glen Rogers, a serial killer!

Another wild, convoluted sequence involved a delusional dream of Nicole in which she became spider woman, crawling on the walls and ceilings of her condo, prior to dropping to the floor battered and bruised. Then, she wakes up from the nightmare in her bathtub. Yet, she still retained the bruises from the dream, which she duly conveyed to her psychiatrist, Dr. Tierney.

In formulating a number of hypothetical, ahistorical scenes, the filmmakers shape a whodunnit around two suspects, Glen Rogers and O. J. Simpson. It was not a very credible scenario. Nicole's relationship with Faye Resnick was also sensationalized with romantic overtones.

The attempt at a docudrama style with archival footage interspersed through the film also did not succeed. The one redeeming feature was a noble effort by actress Mena Suvari to recreate Ms. Brown. Overall, however, the film was flat, and it played loose with the facts of this tragic case.

Love Triangle Nightmare
(2022)

The Prize
There is a very revealing moment in "Love Triangle Nightmare" when Dr. Jake Rich has rented out an entire restaurant for the special occasion of proposing marriage to Brittany Conrad. At the end of meal, the doctor tries to pay Brittany a compliment when he refers to her as a "prize." Brittany is taken aback, as she did not view herself as anyone's prize and she starts to realize that Jake may not be the perfect gentleman she had assumed him to be.

The film was rather predictable in the "psycho on the loose" theme. It was also disappointing that there was so much collateral damage, such as the kind restaurant owner Eva, who made a quick exit due to strangulation. Also, the flighty character of Thea was really starting to get interesting when she was bumped off.

One of the most interesting developments was the intervention of young Emma Conrad, Brittany's daughter. The quick-thinking Emma moves into action to visit the bestie of Jake's ex-wife, whom he unceremoniously pushed down the stairs.

The actress playing Brittany also turned in a solid performance. Brittany was a character who liked to move slowly. She was reluctant to make a snap decision in considering to give her alcoholic husband Austin a second chance. Jake should have recognized that she wouldn't marry him without her divorce papers signed. It was only surprising that Brittany agreed to spend the night in Jake's bedroom during their weekend retreat. If she had done so, she would have been in for the surprise of her life to see the candles, flowers, and shrine devoted to the mother of a psycho mama's boy.

The Terminal List
(2022)

A Force of Nature: Commander James Sullivan Reece
A doting father and devoted husband, Commander James Sullivan Reece is also a force of nature in his work as a trained SEAL. With the devastating loss of his small troop on a dangerous mission in the Middle East, Reece senses from the outset that something was amiss. He and his team were set up in the so-called Odin's Sword mission.

With Reece's wife Lauren and daughter Lucy killed in collateral damage, Reece spends the balance of the series planning and carrying out revenge on his enemies. The "terminal list" of the film's title is the list of names written by Reece on the back of a painting made for him by his daughter.

One of the most intriguing secondary characters is investigative reporter Katie Buranek. One of the best scenes in the series is the long conversation of Katie with the Secretary of Defense, Lorraine Hartley, leading up to Reece's home invasion. The quick-thinking Katie is able recreate the chronology of events that does not fully exonerate the secretary from the Odin's Sword fiasco.

The villains of the film are typically greedy corporate executives and rogue military personnel. They must all face a reckoning with Commander Reece. Another interesting character is Reece's sidekick, his old pal Ben, who now works for the CIA. Their relationship is a complicated one, and the viewer wonders why Ben is so loyal to Reece. The answer comes in a twist at the end.

The final episode was superb with great action scenes and crisp dialogue. The filmmakers gave the audience a sense of closure at the end, while keeping the door open to another season of action-packed adventures with the formidable Commander.

The Terminal List: Reclamation
(2022)
Episode 8, Season 1

Truth and Consequences
Following the harrowing experience of terror in Coronado in which both Pillar and Howard died in the "vest" explosion, this concluding episode focuses on the large lake home of Secretary Lorraine Hartley. It is there that a reckoning will occur between the Secretary and Commander James Sullivan Reece.

With assistance from Ben, Reece is able to penetrate the compound and confront Secretary Hartley. One of the best scenes in the series is the long conversation of Katie Buranek with the Secretary, leading up to Reece's home invasion. The quick-thinking Katie is able recreate the chronology that does not fully exonerate the secretary from the Odin's Sword fiasco.

After confronting Hartley, Reece leaves the scene without killing her. She has taken her own life out of a sense of guilt and disgrace. There now remains only one item on Reece's list, which is Oberon Analytics. Someone at Oberon was a player and decision-maker in the Odin's Sword ordeal and the deaths of Lauren and Lucy. Thanks to Katie, Reece learns that the trail leads to Mancora, Peru, where Ben has fled.

The series' ending moments allowed both a sense of closure to the eight episodes, yet kept the door open for a second season on this thrilling and well-acted set of eight programs.

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