All posts by Tarek Fayoumi amateur film critic in Chicago!

I am someone who strives to become a professional critic. I watch and review many movies. I view the eyes of movies as something as an art form. I have followed many critics over the years, but once I was thirteen I knew writing film reviews was going to be my passion. I learned from watching multiple episodes of Ebert And Roeper in my teen years, and then in middle school I began writing film reviews for a newspaper club. I am also an avid fan of the arts of Chicago including Theatre, Comedy, and music. Films, however, are my primary focus.

Creed 3 Review

In this the third installment of the Creedfranchise, Creed III, directed by Michael B. Jordan, who also stars as Adonis, there is no Sylvester Stallone as Rocky Balboa, and the film shifts the storyline from the previous two films. Adonis has made his mark and his money with his boxing championships, and it appears he is set to live life to the fullest. But the past is not through with Adonis. He may just have to put his gloves back on for true resolution and redemption from his past.

In Creed III, Adonis is living his best life with his wife and daughter, being a millionaire from his boxing success. He has the mansion, the fancy cars, everything a rich man can ever imagine, although his family is still his biggest priority. His wife Bianca Creed (played by Tessa Thompson) and his daughter Amara Creed (played by Mila Davis-Kent) make his life shine. His mother Mary-Anne Creed (played by Phylicia Rashad) is still a big part of his life. It is obvious that boxing has benefited Adonis because he has has earned enough to retire, live off his royalties and sponsorships, and just feel like everything is right in his life. But this all starts to change when his old friend Damian Anderson (played by Jonathan Majors) comes back into Adonis’s life. Damian and Adonis go way back, getting into all kinds of trouble. Damian has done time behind bars. Adonis got out of the streets and worked his way up with boxing. Damian wants a shot to be a pro boxer. Adonis is against that, but their past though leads to one choice—to settle their differences in the ring.

The boxing takes a back seat in Creed III, and the conflict between Adonis and Damian is the real deal. The boxing ring becomes a circle of vengeance between the two. With Damian having been in prison for many years, he may have some anger built up that comes out in his fighting. And with Adonis having retired, he needs to take his training on a new level to avoid sustaining serious injuries. Can the ring settle everything between Adonis and Damian? With Adonis fighting without Rocky as a mentor, is his lifestyle and family is at risk? Who has more to lose in the ring? Creed III is a nailbiter of dark pasts, and realizations of how boxing can hide the anger and emotions one has while in the ring.

Even though there is no Rocky in Creed III, the film still heads in the right direction. With Jordan in his directorial debut as well as the star, Creed III succeeds in continuing the boxing film legacy. A most exciting continuation in fact, especially with Adonis having to face consequences from his past.

So who will be the champion—Adonis or Damian? Does Adonis still have the skills and agility to succeed in the ring? Creed III is a wild ride of rampage and boxing adventure. Three and a half stars for Creed III.


Pacifiction Review

The setting is ominous. The city and the country have all kinds of infrastructure conflicts. The man in charge of improving the problems has ego issues. In Pacifiction, the negatives are in the brilliance of the film itself. Director Albert Serra knows how to utilize ego and personality to serve as a conquering power over other elements in his projects. Pacifiction demonstrates that there is better environment to live in, but politics, culture, and the big boss often prevent anything new.

In Pacifiction, the focus is on De Roller (played by Benoit Magimel). He is a French government official with a mind of his own who cares about his image and success as well as what profits his own name. He is sent to oversee the French Polynesian island of Tahiti. His responsibility is to bring resources to the Island to benefit its people, its environment, and its business infrastructure. De Roller consistently rejects what he is asked for. A business acquaintance named Matahi (played by Matahi Pambrun) pushes De Roller to take some strides to improve the infrastructure of the island. Matahi wants nuclear testing for the island. From De Roller’s perspective, this is a negative, because his actions could cause a news outbreak. The crazy part is that De Roller already has operations that many would deem inappropriate. With shady venues and many singles mingling nightly on a poor island, Pacifiction proves that it is about De Roller wanting his business ventures to benefit him and only him.

The film’s pure adrenaline is within the business and political conversations De Roller has with others associated with the island. All want a form of steady infrastructure to improve the island. De Roller, on the other hand, continues his excuses to not go forward with doing his job. He falls back on not wanting to hurt his image, while he should be ready to take on heat by making changes. Instead, he strives to find ways to prove he is the master in his position, and not to make the island a better place.

There is evidence that poses a risk to De Roller including dirty politics, rumors, and a submarine. De Roller is being watched and the government is out to derail him. De Roller’s ego, his position, and his name may not be able to protect him as much as he anticipates due to the shady behavior going on at the local clubs. De Roller takes part in the wrongful behaviors himself several times. The film’s darkness is within the scoring, the writing, and De Roller’s self-centeredness. Matahi knows that De Roller will do what he can to not make changes. Even De Roller’s local friends Cyrus and Olivier (played by Cyrus Arai and Baptiste Pinteaux), start to feel bridges are burned. The breakdown with even his decent connections does not bode well for the future of the island.

As the risk factors grow as more politics come into play, De Roller’s ruthlessness only grows. He doesn’t want to set aside the pleasure he has in his life and his continued failure to improve the island is due to his corruption. Still, he envisions himself as the philanthropist of his craft and his position and believes there is no one else who can accomplish what he feels he can.

Pacifiction is an artistic and monumental masterpiece. A political ride of enticing factors. It is also a showcase of egotism with a tone that is belittling. Pacifiction is shocking in the way De Roller handles expectations. But can De Roller truly win based on his strategic expertise and conquering mind? Find out in Pacifiction. Three and a half stars.

Luther: The Fallen Sun Review

There are many detective thrillers that the world loves. Many of these movies involve politics, corrupt governments or businesses, and people who want “payback”—for those who betrayed them. There are some, however, who know how to plot their comebacks with an even more punishing effect. When there is someone like John Luther (played by Idris Elba), who many know from the series Luther, Luther can cause irreparable consequences when he is seeking redemption. There is a lot of redemption in Luther: The Fallen Sun.

In this film, Luther is in prison. Disgraced and disgruntled, his anger feeds the destruction that is to come when he makes it out of prison. With the detective’s anger built up inside, he does what he can to remain cool as he spends his days in prison. His tactics come into play sooner because there is a serial killer using all kinds of tactics to label his targets and continue a rapid killing spree. When a killer is using sextortion and blackmailing skills to get what he wants, this is the type of sadistic behavior that Luther is bound to put an end to. The killer is David Robey (played by Andy Serkis). As the strange and dangerous deaths spread through London, Luther breaks out of prison to track down Robey. Luther has assistance, including Odette Raine (played by Cynthia Erivo), Martin Schrenk (played by Dermot Crowley), and Corinne Aldrich (played by Hattie Morahan). The film is full of codes, twists, and suspects that are all good tracks for Luther to take down Robey, but it is deadly. Robey is smarter than Luther thinks, but is he as strong as Luther?

Technology is used in Luther: The Fallen Sun to step up its terror and suspense. Unfortunately, I still felt like the film was just an extended episode of the TV series. It was invigorating in some moments, but the twists seemed repetitive. To an extent, however, repetition is what keeps fans invigorated in both the series Luther and the movie. While the technological aspects are there, they don’t really heighten the experience of having this on the big screen. It felt almost like TV but just a little more suspenseful given a heavier trail of deadly situations.

The writing is almost like someone had overcome writer’s block, or just jumped back into writing after a hiatus. The film starting with Luther in jail and then jumping out to catch a killer is somewhat shallow. There isn’t much evidence to recap why the film takes this approach. Although the TV series came to an end back in 2019, I was surprised that the anticipation and excitement did not hold up in this movie. A recap for the audience would benefit this film. Especially given that some viewers may have watched the series, but others did not. There is no clear structure for this movie’s introduction. In short, the writing could have been stronger to give more emphasis and a more elaborate picture of all the events that happened before this film.

To recap, this thriller is visually stunning. The story flows for vengeance and violence. The story navigates towards trying to blockbuster, but it will not feel like one. The lighting and cinematography are too much like the series. While that is alright, there is no need to push for big picture distribution if the movie is not of that quality. I love British crime series, but Luther: The Fallen Sun struggled to speak to me. Enticing in some moments, but overall, a blur of many catastrophes. Two stars.