Posts tagged with "Transformers"

“The Tax Collector”

by Justin Lyons

2020 sure has been an interesting year for movies. We’ve missed our fair share of big releases, but here we are in September with a new film from David Ayer, a director who has seemingly taken nothing but criticism over the past half decade. Maybe some of that has been warranted, maybe some of it hasn’t, but here he stands with a new movie available for rent.

Ayer is re-teaming with Shia LaBeouf, whom he directed in one of the best performances of his career in 2014’s “Fury.” LaBeouf is past the point of only being recognized for the “Transformers” series. He’s truly one of the most gifted actors working right now, and this nice, little roll he’s found himself on since exiting Michael Bay’s billion dollar franchise has solidified him as a top tier talent.

He’s coming off a fantastic 2019 with “Honey Boy” and “The Peanut Butter Falcon,” so it was no surprise seeing him marketed as a co-lead in “The Tax Collector.” It was, however, a shock to see him in a supporting role in the film itself, and that’s the movie’s biggest problem.

It might be better said that the movie’s biggest problem is that none of the characters, aside from LaBeouf’s character, called Creeper, are very interesting. Each and every one is built upon a foundation that we’re familiar with, including those in other David Ayer movies. Their principles and motivations never sincerely stand out.

David, the main character played by Bobby Soto, drives around Los Angeles collecting a percentage of gang profits for his boss, a man called Wizard. He does it to protect and provide for his non-gang-affiliated family, who are in fact good. When Wizard’s ex-rival returns to town, dead set on taking over Los Angeles, David’s allegiances and strength are put to the test.

Again, we’ve seen that before, so viewing it again, in a mostly predictable manner that doesn’t make “The Tax Collector” stand out among memories of other gang movies and stories, doesn’t let it resonate. It never pushes for that emotional connection to the characters or story that I was looking for. Possibly the most unfortunate part is that there’s evidence of potential here. There is potential in these characters and in this world that makes me think there’s a decent movie in here somewhere, but it needed more time to give the characters the life and development they deserved.

The story itself also feels disjointed in an effort to develop the relationships with characters, even though those relationships don’t benefit from the sacrificing of story. Most beats, particularly toward the end of the film, seem to just happen without express purpose. There is a guiding narrative pushing David against the rival gang leader, but most events in the story don’t have the build up that I had hoped for. Things just kind of occur without any rhyme or reason. We have a character whom we’re supposed to immediately latch onto and a character whom we’re supposed to immediately hate, and none of the story beats ever allow the characters to breathe and change.

Each scene is also played at the highest possible level. Subtlety isn’t always a synonym for high quality, but constant high octane sequences never helped David’s character. Despite being a lover of action sequences, I found myself more intrigued by David’s moments with his family. He shows the struggle of balancing his roles as a protector and as a “tax collector,” but it’s never enough to round out the character.

It feels like Ayer is going through the motions, which is disappointing from a director who has obvious talent. He didn’t fall into the screenplay for “Training Day,” and he surely didn’t accidentally direct “Fury” and “End of Watch” with the skill and charisma of those films. That filmmaking talent is in there, but in going back to a story reminiscent of his earlier work, it appears he is recycling his own techniques. Even the visual look of the movie, which Ayer typically excels with, feels bland. He does pull a couple of visual tricks from his repertoire in flashbacks and high-intensity action sequences, but the flashbacks feel played out, and one specific moment of slow motion was enough to pull me out of a movie that appeared to go for gritty reality.

There are positives to take away from “The Tax Collector.” Again, Shia LaBeouf is immensely talented, and that shows in this film. Every single time he’s on-screen, it’s tough to look away. He does take a supporting role in the movie, but he steals the show right out of Bobby Soto’s hands. Some of that is due to the writing as Creeper is a far more compellingly written character than David, but LaBeouf commits so hard to every single word, and he’s an absolute blast to watch.

The scenes in which David and Creeper drive around Los Angeles, spewing mostly throwaway dialogue, are easily the most fun in the film. Creeper is the muscle of the duo, but I enjoyed his humanity. I have to credit LaBeouf because when Creeper is thinking, it’s easy to watch the wheels in his brain spin. He has these survival instincts, and he’s skilled with weapons and intimidation tactics, but he’s not a robot. He diets, meditates and wants to be included in David’s personal life.

“The Tax Collector” isn’t memorably bad. It’s just not memorable at all, and that is the most frustrating thing about the film. There is potential in the story, the characters and the story world, but it’s so easy to think of scenes that should have been cut in favor of scenes that should have been added. There’s also so much inspiration behind Creeper, but he’s not the focus of the film, which I think would have made the movie much more engaging.

There comes a certain point in the film where nothing is left to care about, and the story revisits a relationship that doesn’t feel earned. Had it spent more time developing that relationship, I might have been invested in the final act, but one short sequence and one small show of good faith wasn’t enough to make me believe that some of these characters would show the support they’re asked to show. Nevertheless, I’m happy to discuss Shia LaBeouf in a positive way. Maybe with that tattoo on his chest forever he’d be better suited in a similar role as a lead performer.

“The Tax Collector” is streaming now on Amazon.

Durango SRT 392

By Tara McDonough x Vaughn Lowery

Durango SRT 392

Starting at the base price of $62,995, the Dodge Durango SRT 392 reinvents the idea of what an SUV is capable of. Recently, 360 MAGAZINE took the Durango from LA to Vegas, toting Diesel, a 200 lb English Mastiff with room to spare. This three row truck not only provides enough space for a family of up to seven, but entertainment options to keep kids busy as well. Among the numerous technology options provided in the SRT is an 8-speed automatic transmission and the ability to tow up to 8,700 lbs.

PERFORMANCE

This remote start system is fit with large mirrors and optional blind-spot warning to provide exceptional visibility. While maintaining the heavy feel of a truck, the Durango provides a composed and planted drive, free of any harsh motions or jiggling. It can reach a higher volume at full throttle, but when cruising noise remains at a peaceful minimum due to its active noise canceling system. This allows the Durango to provide a perfect setting for a family road trip. Under its vented hood lies a 475 hp worth of Hemi V-8 driving all four wheels through an eight-speed automatic, permitting the Durango to go from 0 to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds and braking from 60 mph in 125 ft. The Brembo six piston high-performance brakes feel moderate to soft with long-travel strokes. It is precise and weighted, able to perform quick U-turns and maintains a comfortable slack at freeway speeds. The Durango has 7 SRT drive modes which include street, sport, track, snow, tow, valet, and eco. It’s 4-wheel drive, traction control and low-range gearing provide real off-road capabilities as well. With an annual fuel cost of $3,000, the Durango uses 6.7 gallons per 100 miles.

EXTERIOR

In this newest model appearances can be deceiving, similar to a Transformer in its versatility and markings and easily passing as Bumblebee’s cherry colored cousin. While the Durango is a perfect family car, it maintains a sporty and bold exterior. The model is equipped with 20-inch x 10-inch black noise wheels and 295/45ZR20 BSW all season tires. The clean lines and seamless stitching of the Durango are refined and reminiscent of European auto offerings. The style of this SUV is edgy, racy and customizable as well.

INTERIOR

Inside are three rows of leather-trimmed bucket seats with suede inserts. The driver’s seat is supportive and adjustable. The Durango is one of the most spacious three-row SUVs, ideal for children, as well as adults, to fit comfortably in all of the cabin’s seating positions. Second row seats flip and fold in order to gain access to third row seats, which provide a surprising amount of space; optimal for families spending ample amounts of time in the car. Front and second row seats are also equipped with heating and ventilation options.

SAFETY

As for safety, this vehicle offers; Blind-Spot Monitoring, illuminating a light on either of the Durango’s side mirrors; Forward Collision Warning, which helps prevent collisions by sounding an alert when the Durango detects an imminent collision; and Lane Departure Warning Plus, which sounds a warning if the Durango begins to drift from its lane without a turn signal being activated. The Durango received great results when tested for side impact, roof strength, and rear crash protection / head restraint.

TECHNOLOGY

Among the amenities of this vehicle are Uconnect 4C NAV with 8.4-inch display, SiriusXM traffic plus, a 4G LTE Wi-fi Hot Spot, and 9 Alpine amplified speakers with subwoofer. The media hub also comes with Apple Carplay and Google Android Auto capabilities.

A current tech option available for the Durango is an 825-watt Harman/Kardon sound system boasting 19 speakers. The sound system provides a listening experience similar to sitting front row at a concert with your favorite artists singing right into your ear.

Additional options include; rear DVD entertainment center with blu-ray compatible dual screen video and rear seat video system, a power sunroof, a second-row console with armrest and storage including 1 USB charging port, 12-volt auxiliary power outlet, third-row full-console floor mat and illuminated rear cup holders, and a hand-wrapped dashboard and live stitch with real carbon fiber interior accents.

The Durango SRT 392 is a highly successful crossover SUV combining high end speed and design with durability, space and safety for the family. It gives off a muscle-car attitude wrapped in a family-friendly package, causing the model to embody two cars in one. The Durango combines the best of both worlds for parents who want to ride in style and make sure their children are happy and comfortable. With it’s roaring Hemi V-8 and dual-purpose nature, the Durango can do no wrong. The Durango remains one of the most capable and well-rounded three-row crossovers you can buy, making it possible to please every member of the family.

Buy now!

THE COCKTAIL GUIDE TO THE GALAXY

For the first time ever comes a book that unites two of the best things in the world: nerd culture, and booze. Because if anything is true, it’s that nerds are awesome, and many of us like to throw back an adult beverage or two while re-watching Firefly for the seventeenth time. The Cocktail Guide to the Galaxy, by Andy Heidel, the notable owner of The Way Station in Brooklyn, NY; will be on-sale September 26, 2017. A true mecca for nerd culture, The Way Station has found its way on to numerous lists of the best sci-fi bars and is even complete with a TARDIS themed bathroom.

Including over 100 fun and easy to make recipes – these cocktails are simple to make with no crazy ingredients – The Cocktail Guide to the Galaxy features more of the themed cocktails Heidel’s patrons know and love and is filled with pop culture references from Metropolis, to Guardians of the Galaxy, to Star Wars, and everything in between. Some of the recipes include:

·         Doc B’s Wakeup Juice (Back to the Future)

·         Sonic Screwdrivers (Doctor Who)

·         Shirley Temple of Doom (Indiana Jones)

·         Jameson T. Kirk (Star Trek)

·         Blue Milk (Star Wars)

We’re currently at the height of nerd culture! This year alone, we’ll see new Star WarsTransformersMarvelAlien, and Planet of the Apesmovies – all which have at least one cocktail featured in this book.

About the Author

Andy Heidel is the owner of The Way Station, a bar and music venue in Brooklyn, NY. As R. Andrew Heidel he is the author of the short story collection “Desperate Moon” which features an introduction by Harlan Ellison and praise from Ray Bradbury. As a book publicist, he launched the Eos imprint and helped make Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, and Neal Stephenson bestselling authors while with Avon Books and HarperCollins. He turned to bar ownership when he was downsized, and hasn’t looked back since.