Tag Archives: Bryan Cranston

Breaking Bad: 504-“Fifty-One”

In the fourth of episode of Breaking Bad‘s final season, much of the season’s plot has been put on hold to take a moment and focus on the dynamic between Walter and Skyler. Their rapidly deteriorating marriage is the major focus of this episode. Words are exchanged, things are said, and Walter continues to be the most intelligent man on the entire show. Meanwhile, Mike, Walt, and Jesse are looking to find a way to handle Madrigal, who may or may not have betrayed them.

What could have been this episode’s strengths end up being the major weaknesses. The emphasis on how much of a raging bitch Skyler is, versus how much of a controlled family man Walt is – makes itself apparent within the first five minutes of the episode, where Walt gets himself and his son extremely expensive cars. The sequence is oddly hilarious and I’m not sure how much I was supposed to laugh, but I’ll admit I was definitely cracking up.

I never liked episodes that focused on Skyler, and here we see everyone in a panic because of her. She’s really the only reason everything isn’t going according to plan, and what she says to Walter at the end of the episode is unforgivable and wrong. She may have proved herself momentarily a couple seasons back, but she’s just reverted to her old nosy, selfish, and frankly unintelligent ways. On the other hand, Marie is proving to be a valuable addition to the White family. She and Hank (who’s losing weight faster than a cancer patient, ironically enough), are definitely stepping up to the plate as both siblings-in-law to Walt and Skyler, but also as aunt and uncle to Walter Jr. and Holly.

Stepping away from all of that, though, another major issue I had with this episode was the mild usage of Jesse and Mike, and the complete absence of Saul. Breaking Bad works mainly because of the chemistry between Walter and Jesse (I swear, these [Breaking]bad puns are completely unintentional), but the lack of that here is really apparent. That is, of course, until the end.

*SPOILERS*

Jesse buys Walt a watch for his 51st birthday. In fact, he’s the only person to get him a gift and it’s a beautiful watch that Walt genuinely likes. He wears it, brings it back to Skyler and explains to her that the watch was given to him by someone who was pointing a gun at his head just a couple weeks ago. They’re now good partners and friends, so if their relationship can be mended, so can Walt and Skyler’s marriage.

He then leaves and takes the watch off, putting it on his nightstand. It ticks, and ticks, and ticks, and as the seconds get closer to the next minute, the ticking becomes louder and more intense until the end where it sounds like a gun cocking or the minute hand changing (or both).

I’m thinking that the watch is either bugged (unlikely) or that it’s merely a visual representation of Walt’s literal ticking clock. It’s possible that the cancer may come back and kill him since, as of this point, there isn’t anyone on the street who serves as some kind of imminent danger. But I guess we’ll have to wait until Sunday to find out.

3/5 Bears


TV TRIVIA: This episode, titled ‘Fifty-One’ in reference to Walt’s 51st birthday, aired the same night as the latest episode of HBO’s Newsroom, which was titled ‘5/1’. Weird. Right? No. Whatever.

Grizzly Review: Total Recall

I find it ironic that Douglas Quaid (Colin Farrell) is so bored with mundane life in Total Recall that he seeks the key to the secrets in his dreams; a longing for a better, more spectacular life with more substance. Better and more spectacular – this remake had the potential to be that, to build on the Philip K. Dick story that was originally immortalized in the Arnold Schwarzenegger 1990 flick. However, it seems to run into the same issues Quaid does in his (fake) life. Everything from the plot, to the characters, to even the visuals are redundant and generic during Len Wiseman’s reboot. It is at least – for the most part – a fun, if forgettable escape before we step out of the theater into our own reality.

Farrell plays Quaid as he is haunted by the same dream of escaping capture with a mysterious woman (Jessica Biel) that gives him a longing of a higher purpose. He works on an assembly line, in a factory with his friend Harry (Bokeem Woodbine) building synthetics, robot soldiers in the vein of the Clones in the Star Wars prequels or the NS-5’s in I, Robot. He lives a nondescript life with a beautiful wife (Kate Beckinsale) and while going through the motions, he is driven to find the answer to the emptiness he feels.

Quaid and his wife live in the Colony, a dark, industrial-like slum, and they commute via The Fall, a transport that goes through the core of the Earth in order to reach Great Britain, the only other habitable place on the planet, where the rich get richer. The world is comprised of these two regions as the rest is uninhabitable due to the plaent’s earlier chemical warfare. The Resistance has been fighting with the elite over equality ,while the controlling government class declares them as terrorists trying to disrupt the system that works for all involved. Quaid feels connected to these stories and needs answers to filling the void and lack of purpose in his life that his dreams allude to.

Enter ‘Rekall’, the escapism that the bored need in order to live the fantasy and drown out the routine reality. You can become a movie star, sports figure, or even a secret agent. It is obvious that Quaid goes for the secret agent gig, but before he can get fully immersed, things go bad. Fast. His loving wife, quite suddenly is an evil undercover agent trying to kill him. That girl in the dream? Oh, she’s real and fights for the Resistance. Speaking of the Resistance, yep, he is definitely connected to their organization. And the government led by Chancellor Cohaagen (Bryan Cranston)? Yeah, Quaid is so important to them, that he needs to be hunted down for what he knows. Still following me? Honestly, it doesn’t matter. He is basically Jason Bourne in the future trying to figure out his purpose. That seemed easier than writing those last two paragraphs. Take from that as you will.

It should be known that while there are few Easter Eggs for those that have seen the 1990 version (Three-boobed lady!!), this bears extremely little resemblance to that movie. The Paul Verhoeven film had Mars, Sharon Stone, the idea of reality versus perception. Plus bug eyed people in search of oxygen (note, that ALWAYS freaked me out when I was a little kid, I couldn’t watch that sequence for years). Len Wiseman goes in a direction that only skims the idea of living up to your past versus establishing your own destiny and identity. He has always been a great visual and action director and really takes advantage of the futuristic setting and beautiful actors to establish eye candy and fast pacing for the audience to cover up the lack of depth in the screenplay.

Farrell does a serviceable job as Quaid as he runs around trying to figure out who the hell he is and who he needs to be. I do wish that there was a bit more depth or explanation to the character that delves into Quaid’s past, because his path to the truth seems to run so fast, and the character embraces his rogue fugitive present all too easily. While great for pacing into the action set pieces, which Farrell handles very well, the investment into the character is just on the ‘good guy must beat bad guy level’ as opposed to the ‘I hope he gets closer on who he truly is destined to be’ type of guy.

Beckinsale has fun with largely expanded role of his wife that goes from ‘loving spouse’ to ‘femme fatale-like kiler’ too quickly in her quest to take down her confused ‘husband’. However the increased visibility of the character distracted me as it seems to be more a showcase for her, as opposed to keeping the story on Quaid and developing his journey story arc to find the truth. Granted, I can definitely get over myself and just appreciate Beckinsale owning the screen. Jessica Biel does a good job as well, even if the character is very one note, and merely a directional arrow in order to get Quaid from point A to point B. Cranston should have been in this movie for longer, but during his time on the screen, he owns it and makes sure you know he is the big man in charge, and that he has no problem making sure his agenda is carried out.

Visually, the Colony looks like the world in Blade Runner, mixed in with Toronto’s Chinatown. Apparently Australia, where the Colony is located, is where all the Asian people went during the chemical warfare that engulfed planet Earth. The filmmakers really put the doom and gloom into the movie and capture the oppressed nature of the citizens of the Colony. While visually impressive with the set decoration and CGI, it feels repetitive to stare at the same dull interiors that every bar/apartment/government building this world has. Who knew the future was so listless and unimaginative? However, the action sequences are great and the futuristic car chase scene is fun to watch. I was a big fan of an elevator sequence too because holy crap Beckinsale kicks ass in this movie. I swear they took the sequences straight from Minority Report [Ed. Note – Early Drafts of the Minority Report script were written for Total Recall 2, which obviously never happened], but they still are visually appealing nonetheless. And Kate Beckinsale, again, is a total badass in this movie.

Overall, this is a fun diversionary movie and nothing more. I felt it could have gone deeper into the idea of innate personality versus the expectation/perception of who you were, but I will take a straight up sci-fi action flick that will stimulate the senses for 2 hours. The movie goes fast and it is a ride, but just like Quaid, do not ask me to recall any details about it later, for it will be a distant memory until the next action flick shows up on the silver screen.

Breaking Bad: 501 “Live Free and Die” Review

This is it, folks. The final season of “Breaking Bad” is underway and fans couldn’t be more excited and devastated at the same time. It’s been a long and hard journey for Walter White, which means it’s been a nail-biting and intense past couple years for us at home. The final season starts with a bang. If you didn’t get a chance to watch “Breaking Bad” last night, here’s what you missed:

The episode begins with Walter White in an unspecified state eating at a Denny’s on his 52nd birthday…alone. He’s looking pretty roughed up and he’s actually sporting a full head of hair for the first time in literally years. He makes small talk with Lisa, the waitress serving him, and she reveals that he’ll get his meal free with valid identification. He reluctantly agrees and hands her a license. She responds with something to the effect of, “New Hampshire, huh? You’re a long way from home.”

They continue talking and a mysterious man enters from the background. He’s out-of-focus but the camera follows him, leading us to believe that he has some importance in this scene. Sure enough, a few seconds later Walt makes his way to the bathroom. He slips the man an envelope and the man slips him some car keys. The unnamed man asks Walt if “it” is leaving the country. Walt replies, saying that “it” isn’t leaving town. He leaves the restaurant quickly, leaving a $100 bill under his untouched plate of food.

In the parking lot, Walt grabs a duffel bag full of something that isn’t revealed. He finds the car to which the keys he was just handed belongs, and in the trunk is an M60 with upwards of a thousand rounds. An instruction manual is placed neatly under the gun, and after staring at it, putting the duffel bag in the trunk, and closing the door, the main credits roll.

Going back to present day, the White family is in a frenzy over the death of Gus, Walt’s former boss. Skyler is on the phone with Walt and asks him what’s going to happen next. Walt replies with, “We’re safe.” She asks if he knows anything about Gus’ death, only to be met with statement, “I won.” Going back to the White household, Walter cleans up everything he used to make the bomb, and puts the Lily of the Valley plant, the one he used to poison Brock, in his trunk just in time for Skyler and Walter Jr. to come home. In the bedroom, Skyler confesses to Walt that she’s relieved he’s alive, but that she’s scared of him. She leaves the room and Walt says, “Oh shit.”

Cut to Hank and Merket in Hazmat suits investigating the remains of Gus’ underground lab, which has now been turned into a big pile of nothing. Two unrecognizable bodies have been left, and after Merket tells Hank that he’s allowed to say, “I told you so,” Hank sees a charred piece of metal and plastic. The two theorize what it could be and Hank ends the scene with, “Maybe a camera?” We then see Mike, who is still recovering from his wounds. He’s being told that Gus is dead and he speeds away in his car.

A few miles down a dirt road, he runs into Walt and Jesse, almost running into them. After planning to shoot Walt, Jesse convinces Mike that he has something important to say. Reluctantly lowering his gun, Mike listens to Walt who says that they’ve all been caught on the cameras. The only way to clear their names completely would be to erase all the memory from the computer. The only way to do that, of course, would be to steal the computer…or would it? In the midst of an argument between Mike and Walt, Jesse chimes in with the idea of a magnet. Magnetic forces usually destroy computer hard drives, but where can they get a magnet big enough to do the job?

The junkyard! The three bald-headed criminals visit Old Joe who says that they can put his car compactor magnet into a U-Haul truck and park it in front of the police station. They can then turn on the magnet, destroy the computer, and be out of there before anyone sees them. Meanwhile, Saul visits Skyler at work to reveal the news that Ted Beneke, who was thought to be dead at the end of Season 4, is in the hospital and has “just woken up”.

She pays him a visit but is shocked to see his condition. He’s attached to a metal head brace that is literally drilled into his head. His head is shaved and he looks like he hasn’t slept in days. In a surprisingly touching scene, Ted promises Skyler that the only thing the police know about is the fact that he tripped and fell. It was a freak accident and he swears that because of his wife and kids, he wants no trouble and won’t ever breathe a word of what happened. Call me crazy, but I don’t see things ending well for Mr. Beneke.

Back to Mike, Walt, and Jesse, they’re able to successfully destroy the computer (at least they’re pretty sure they did), and make it away without being caught, but Walt turned the magnet on so high that they truck tipped over. They’re forced to ditch it and make it away in Mike’s car. When asked why he knows the computer was destroyed, Walt simply says, “Because I say so”.

The next morning the cops go through pieces of evidence piece by piece. They get to the laptop and report it as damaged and in pieces. We see that the frame of one of Gus’ photos was also broken during the incident. It’s revealed that bank account information that had previously gone unnoticed was hidden behind the picture, written in pen in the lining of the frame.

Saul tells Walt about Skyler helping Ted to pay off the IRS. He’s upset Saul never told him about her giving away more than $600,000 of his money to the man she was sleeping with, despite Saul explaining that it’s just good business. When Walt starts yelling at him, Saul says “we’re done.” Walt walks behind the desk and gets in his face: “Were done when I say we’re done.” Walt tells Skyler he heard what happened to Ted. She says Ted won’t talk and Walt proceeds to lean in for a hug. In an equally chilling and terrifying moment, he says “I forgive you.”

This is a great and dynamite start to the final season and I’m literally on the edge of my seat waiting for the next episode. The directing is the best “Breaking Bad” has to offer. By not overdoing the innovative shots the show is known for, the suspense is heightened even more than it needs to be due to its gorgeous photography. The music fit the mood perfectly. Specifically, a scene where Walt tries to hide all the bomb-making materials ended with a deeply haunting and fascinating fade out that reminded me a lot of the score for Insidious.

As for the cast, everyone is back and ready to play. Bryan Cranston becomes more and more intense every season, and his voice is close to resembling that of Christian Bale in The Dark Knight. Jesse’s importance to the show is becoming more defined and I feel like he’s going to play a pivotal part in the series’ climactic scenes. All in all, “Breaking Bad” is off to a great start and I can’t wait to see what the rest of the season has to offer.

Breaking Bad Final Season Update, Plus Movie Rumors?


So I’m sure the lot of you are just waiting in anxious anticipation of the new season of Breaking Bad to start, and making the wait even worse is the constant trickle of teasers and tidbits that the show runners keep putting out, making us even more desperate for it to be July 15th already. Speculation about the story, and the shows endgame in general, is something that fans have been doing since it first began, and time and time again its defied the odds and expectations alike. Even the shows star, Bryan Cranston, doesn’t yet know the ultimate fate of Walter White, and makes an interesting suggestion that the show could go on, despite this being the final season.

Vince feels that now we have too much story,” Cranston says, laughing. “We could actually go beyond those 16 episodes…It’s not far-fetched,” Cranston says. “I wouldn’t mind visiting that possibility. And this is coming from a guy who doesn’t know anything of how the show’s going to end. If it doesn’t end up in a total apocalypse, who knows? Maybe we could revisit Walter White a year down the road and see where his life has gone. If he’s still alive, that is.”

 So that at least gives us some info that the season will be densely packed, and that the ending is still up in the air. Many show runners change things on the fly, depending on audience reaction, however I don’t think this is the case with Vince Gilligan, who has clearly planned things out from the beginning, and is following them through to the end. Even if that end does extend beyond the current season itself, which I don’t think is likely. I think that they’ll be able to wrap up everything they have planned the show to be. He even touches on those plans, and reveals a few details about the this seasons plot.

“We can look forward to Walt’s ego growing by leaps and bounds for having killed Gus Fring,” Gilligan says, referring to the late, great Los Pollos Hermanos restaurateur. “To this point, Walt’s been able to lie to himself and reason that he’s done all these terrible things for his family. But that’s a lie that’s harder and harder to maintain as this upcoming season progresses and the money piles up and he’s faced more and more with the badness that he’s done.”

“He’s going to be a harder guy to root for, I promise you that,” Gilligan adds. “The experiment of the show has been to take a good guy and have him transform himself into a bad guy. And we’re committed to seeing that through to the very end.”

So while a movie or continuation isn’t out of the realm of imagination, I don’t think it would be necessary. I remember hearing a podcast interview with Vince Gilligan, who was speaking on where the original idea for the show came from, and he mentioned how his intent was to create a show, where we have a protagonist, who is a perfectly normal, entirely nice guy, and over the course of the show watch him become a wholly corrupt, reprehensible human being. That we’d see what events can happen in a mans life, to break him, and make him a bad person. Hence, Breaking Bad. His quote definitely is in line with that mission statement. Personally, I’ve been rooting for Walter the whole time, but I understand how people could definitely start disliking him in the past season, and with his actions as of the finale, it’s getting harder to defend him. Vince Gilligan’s words are intriguing indeed, and I wonder just to what levels Walter White will stoop to now.

It’d seem that this season seems built from the ground up to hammer home that Walter White as we know him, is already dead. All hail Heisenberg, our new meth cooking king.

Is it July 15th yet?

Bonus: Amazing recap of seasons 1-4.