Today (yes, today — December 8, 2013) I finished reading Vince Flynn‘s Extreme Measures, the ninth book in Flynn’s main series of novels.
Once again, Extreme Measures takes readers into the world of Muslim extremists and terrorism. It’s up to Mitch Rapp to solve the puzzle and save the day. But does he succeed in this book, or do the terrorists win?
Let’s take a look and find out.
Extreme Measures begins at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan.
CIA operative Mike Nash arrives at Bagram to interrogate two high-profile prisoners: Abu Haggani and Mohammad al-Haq. Abu is a senior Taliban commander who used to be in charge of suicide operations in Afghanistan. Mohammad was the Taliban’s liason with al-Qaeda, a trusted man in the organization. The only problem is that neither man is willing to give up an information, and the air base was recently visited by several U.S. Senators on a fact-finding mission. Should the prisoners be tortured in any sort of way, then there will be hell to pay.
Fortunately, CIA man Mitch Rapp doesn’t care about regulations when it comes to withdrawing information from terrorists. That’s especially true when two terrorist cells have been recently captured, and evidence is quickly pointing towards a third cell. Both Mitch and Mike beat and extract some information from the captured terrorists, and they make a deal for one of them to reveal even more information.
Those talks are stopped when Captain Trevor Leland alerts the air base commander, Brigadier General Scott Garrison, about the presence of the men from the CIA. The interrogation is halted and, after noticing the injuries on the prisoners, Captain Leland insists that Mitch Rapp be placed under arrest. General Garrison isn’t too sure, but he’s convinced when Captain Leland convinces him to basically cover his ass. He’s aware of violations in place. He should at least temporarily detain Rapp until somebody higher in the chain of command gives him a different order.
The biggest problem occurs when Captain Leland gets pushy with Rapp. He makes a threatening move to his sidearm and Rapp reacts, disabling the captain and knocking him to the ground. The move injures the captain’s arm and he gets a black eye after hitting his face against a table. Now we’re talking about a charge of striking an officer, a major crime in the military.
Rapp is taken into custody at the air base. He’s later released after promising to apologize to Captain Leland. Unfortunately, Leland does not accept the apology and decides to press charges against the CIA operative. General Garrison tries to talk Leland out of doing so, and even offers him a promotion in rank and relocation to a base of his choosing, but Leland insists on his legal route. Rapp is going to have to deal with that back in Washington, D.C.
Meanwhile, the third terrorist cell is training at Ciudad del Este, a small compound outside of a remote town in South America. The leader of the terrorists is Karim Nour-al-Din, and he’s determined to make a name for himself in al-Qaeda. Read more…
A lot of visitors have been e-mailing and asking about the sudden flood of book and movie reviews on this website.
The reason is that I’m in the process of closing one of my websites — www.ChamberOfReviews.com. This website really isn’t developing as I originally intended. After being on the Internet for two years, I’m closing it for good.
All of the reviews are being transferred here to www.RellimZone.com. As some of you have noted, this was the website where I originally started writing the reviews. The reviews were then transferred to an independent website, but that just didn’t work very well in the end. So they’re all coming back here and many, many more reviews are still on the way.
Many of the book reviews begin with the phrase, “Last night I finished reading . . .,” or “The other day I finished reading . . .,” or “Today I finished reading . . .” Obviously I’m not reading a book a day. That’s just how the articles were originally published over the past couple of years. The same is true if a movie review begins by referencing a specific event, whether it’s a holiday or other occasion. Those statements were accurate at the time of the articles’ original publishing on the other website.
On a side note, so far this year I’ve read 31 books. These next few weeks are going to be busy (football bowl games & LOTS of beer), but I’m hoping to finish reading at least another book or two by the end of the year.
Back in the 1950s and 60s there was a boom in science-fiction films.
These films covered everything from exploring the Moon, Mars, and outer space to battles with alien invaders to horrific monsters destroying cities. It was just a matter of time before that theme was combined with Santa Claus and the Christmas theme.
Released in 1964, Santa Claus Conquers the Martians was directed by Nicholas Webster. As far as the cast, take note that Santa Claus Conquers the Martians is a relatively low-budget B-film. The only semi-famous names that you may or may not recognize would most likely be those of Bill McCutcheon, Pia Zadora, and Ned Wertimer.
Santa Claus Conquers the Martians begins on a musical note with children singing “Hooray for Santy Claus.” The sound quality and vocals sound just as you would expect for a children’s song from the early 1960s.
Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964) – (c) Embassy Pictures Corporation
After that a news station, KID-TV, sends reporter Andy Henderson (Ned Wertimer) to the North Pole to interview Santa Claus (John Call) at his workshop. The elves are all busy making toys in Santa’s workshop, but Santa is confident that everything will be ready for delivery on Christmas Eve. Two of the latest toys are that of a toy rocket and a doll that looks like a green Martian.
Meanwhile on Mars, the Martian children are becoming more overstressed. They’re not eating or sleeping like they should, and they’re spending their days watching too much Earth television. This trend is making Kimar (“King Martian” — Leonard Hicks) more concerned about the future of the Martian race. Read more…
The Griswold family is back for another crazy vacation!
Instead of going cross-country to visit a theme park, or embarking on an all-expenses-paid trip through Europe, this time around the family is spending some quality time at home. It’s Christmastime and Clark Griswold has some wild ideas about how to spend the holiday with his family. It’s not just the immediate family this time. Cousins Catherine and Eddie are back, and this time around we get to meet Clark and Ellen’s parents, too.
Chevy Chase is back in his role as Clark Griswold, along with Beverly D’Angelo playing his faithful wife, Ellen. Supporting them are Juliette Lewis and Johnny Galecki as their children, Audrey and Rusty. Randy Quaid returns as the wacky Cousin Eddie, and Miriam Flynn plays his wife, Catherine. Look for Brian Doyle-Murray playing the role of Mr. Frank Shirley, Clark’s boss, Doris Roberts as Ellen’s mother, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Margo Chester, a snotty and upscale neighbor to the Griswolds.
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation was released on December 1, 1989. While parts of the movie are dated and some of the jokes don’t really work because of today’s technology, Christmas Vacation is still regarded as a modern Christmas classic.
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989) – (c) Warner Bros.
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation begins with the Griswold family on an expedition for their Christmas tree. On the road Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) gets harassed by some local country boys. Ellen (Beverly D’Angelo) doesn’t want him to provoke them, but he ignores her advice. Clark tries to pass them but gets his station wagon stuck underneath a tractor trailer. Clark escapes but his car crashes into a giant pile of snow at a Christmas tree store.
Clark drags his family through the frozen wilderness as he searches for the perfect Christmas tree. He finally finds it as his daughter, Audrey (Juliette Lewis), is nearly frozen stiff. All seems well until Rusty (Johnny Galecki) asks his dad if he brought a saw. Naturally, Clark forgot it back at home. The family somehow digs the massive tree out of the ground with their bare hands, and then lug it back to their car. Read more…
Next we’re reviewing Act of Treason, the eighth book written by Vince Flynn and the seventh book starring his main character Mitch Rapp.
In the previous book, Consent to Kill, it was revealed that President Hayes was suffering from Parkinson’s Disease, and he would not be seeking re-election. Between that and the death of Mitch Rapp’s wife, Anna Reilly, that’s all we need to know when it comes to events from one story leading into the next one.
Act of Treason begins in October of a presidential election year. On the ticket for the Democrats is the recent governor of Georgia, Josh Alexander. His running mate is Mark Ross, a Senator who will do whatever it takes to win the election. Being vice president is just one step from his ultimate goal of the presidency.
Governor Alexander was a likeable person who initially had a lead in the polls, but that lead was slipping and the candidate was in serious trouble of losing the election. That changed one day as an al-Qaeda-like terrorist bombing attacked his motorcade one day. The bombing destroyed the second limousine in the motorcade, killing Alexander’s wife, a few Secret Service agents, and some innocent bystanders as well. Alexander and Ross were both riding in the first limousine, and they were unharmed.
The general public’s sympathy went into overdrive for Alexander’s loss, and he was swept into the White House by a landslide victory. The terrorist who carried out the bombing made a clean getaway.
Fast forward to January of next year.
It’s a week before President-elect Alexander is sworn into office. CIA Director Irene Kennedy is expecting to lose her job when the new administration takes over and makes sweeping changes in leadership, though she doesn’t seem to be too upset about it. It’s a high-pressure job and she’s looking forward to having some time off to raise her son before he turns into a teenager.
One day she arranges to have a meeting in her office with Skip McMahon, the director of the FBI. Their meeting is also going to involve a man named Cap Baker, an informant. Neither Irene or Skip know what this meeting is about, but apparently it’s very important. After Baker arrives he makes Irene and Skip sign non-disclosure agreements before he can continue with the meeting. Once they sign the forms Baker shows them a series of photos that shine a whole new light on the terrorist bombing from last fall.
The photos show Jillian Rautbort, Alexander’s now deceased wife, having sex with a man who was certainly not her husband. The mystery man in the photos is Secret Service Special Agent Matt Cash. Matt Cash was assigned to ride in the second limousine on the day of the bombing, and he was killed along with Jillian.
Suddenly this sheds a whole new light on the terrorist bombing. Were Jillian and Matt killed to not only help elect Alexander and Ross, but to also cover a dark secret? Read more…
Today we’re taking a look at Home Alone, a classic Christmas film from 1990.
Almost all of us have had a point in our young life where we thought that we were smarter than everybody else. Sometimes this was added to feelings of invincibility and the ability to take on criminals and other evil people. But most of those were just harmless fantasies and not reality.
The film Home Alone involves an eight-year-old boy who is accidentally left home by himself when his parents and family fly to Paris, France for their Christmas vacation. All of the return flights are booked, so the boy is forced to rely upon himself to survive for a few days. At first it’s fun, but then reality hits. Things are complicated when a pair of burglars have his house set as their next target. It’s up to the boy to prove that he’s smarter and find a way to defend his home.
Directed by Chris Columbus, Home Alone was both written and produced by John Hughes. The film stars young Macaulay Culkin as Kevin McCallister, an eight-year-old boy left home alone. Co-starring in the film are Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern as Harry and Marv, two burglars who intend on robbing the McCallister’s home. Supporting them in the film are John Heard as Peter McCallister, Kevin’s father; Catherine O’Hara as Kate McCallister, Kevin’s mother; John Candy as Gus Polinski, a polka musician; and Roberts Blossom as Old Man Marley, Kevin’s older and mysterious neighbor.
Home Alone (1990) – (c) 20th Century Fox
Home Alone begins in Chicago, Illinois a few days before Christmas as the extended McCallister family is gathering before their morning flight to Paris, France.
The large home is filled with parents as kids as the excitement builds for their upcoming trip. Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin), one of the youngest kids there, is continually picked on by his older brothers and sisters as well as one of his uncles. Nobody has time for the boy, nor do they seem to want anything to do with him.
A local policeman (Joe Pesci) has a brief word with Peter McCallister (John Heard), but it’s just a safety warning about making sure that the home is secure to protect against burglars. Peter assures the police officer that they have lights on timers and the doors will be locked tight while they’re away in Paris. Read more…
Earlier today it was reported by Aviation Week that the RQ-180 is allegedly flying test flights.
The classified unmanned aerial vehicle is being developed by Northrop Grumman for “. . . intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions.” Operated by the U.S. Air Force, the RQ-180 will also carry out missions for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
As one would expect with this being a classified aircraft, right now the details are few and far between. Based on the artist’s drawings, the RQ-180 looks like a smaller version of the B-2 Spirit flying wing stealth bomber still in use by the U.S. Air Force. Allegedly the RQ-180 has a wingspan of around 130 feet while the B-2′s wingspan reaches 172 feet. While the B-2 Spirit carries a crew of two and a payload of up to 50,000 pounds of ordnance or other equipment, the RQ-180 is unmanned and rumored to only being developed for intelligence and reconnaissance missions.
The RQ-180 is scheduled to be in production soon and could be operational just a year from now in 2015.
Could a drone such as the RQ-180 be modified and used for stealth bombing missions? It wouldn’t surprise me at all. Then again, it looks like Northrop Grumman is already focusing on building a bomber version of the RQ-180 drone out of the X-47 project. Read more…
Movies that are based on true stories, or inspired by true events, normally make good movies and stories, especially when it involves warfare or survival.
But as we know, or how we should know, sometimes those movies based on true stories get distorted for one reason or another. Sometimes it occurs to make the lead characters more interesting. Sometimes it occurs to help push a message or political statement.
Sadly, such a thing occurs frequently in the 2012 World War 2 aviation movie, Red Tails.
Red Tails begins in the skies of Europe during World War 2.
We see a group of German Bf 109 fighters making a hit-and-run attack on a squadron of Allied B-17 Flying Fortress bombers. The bombers’ escort fighters suddenly peel off and chase the fighters, just as the Germans intended. One of the B-17 pilots expresses anger as the Allied fighters leave the bomber formation unprotected again, chasing glory instead of protecting the bombers.
Sure enough, the German Bf 109s return and wreck havoc on the unprotected bombers. A few B-17s are shot down. We see crew members get killed while bombers tumble from the skies in burning wreckage.
Gee, if only those white fighter pilots had stayed with the bombers and protected them instead of chasing glory and inflating their egos! It’s hard to imagine that the Allied forces won the won with such arrogant pilots. I hope some other pilots can step up to the plate and actually do their jobs correctly!
Red Tails (2012) – (c) Lucasfilm, Ltd.
Red Tails then cuts to a scene of four black pilots flying a patrol mission. These men from the Tuskegee training program are part of the racially segregated 332d Fighter Group. As we learn, these pilots (“Easy” (played by Nate Parker), “Lightning” (played by David Oyelowo), “Ray Gun” (played by Tristan Wilds), and “Joker” (played by Elijah Kelley)) are bored. Some of them struggle to see the point of their patrol missions as they’re intentionally kept well away from the front lines of the war. Read more…
A couple of days ago I finished reading Vince Flynn’s Consent to Kill, the seventh book written by Flynn and book number six in his popular series starring CIA operative Mitch Rapp.
First published in 2005, Consent to Kill is a story involving payback and revenge. A powerful man seeks vengeance against Mitch Rapp for something that he did a while ago, and when that plan for payback backfires it’s Rapp’s turn to seek his revenge. Rapp transitions from the hunted to once again becoming the calculated hunter, and in no time his enemies are fleeing from one of the most feared assassins in the world.
In Vince Flynn’s previous book, Memorial Day, we read about how Mitch Rapp was able to successfully stop a nuclear attack against Washington, D.C. He had to brutally interrogate some Muslim extremist terrorists in order to gain the necessary information to stop the devastating attack from not only killing thousands of innocent people, but the President of the United States and most of the government leaders as well. One small part of those events would put Mitch Rapp through one of his darkest days in Consent to Kill.
Consent to Kill begins with Saeed Ahmen Abdullah speaking with Saudi Prince Muhammed bin Rashid, expressing his desire to have Mitch Rapp killed. Saeed is the father of Waheed Abdullah, a Muslim extremist terrorist who attempted to attack America with nuclear weapons smuggled into the country. That attack was stopped in the book Memorial Day. To gain critical information about the imminent nuclear attack, Mitch Rapp had to torture Waheed Abdullah.
After torturing Waheed and gaining the necessary information, Rapp had Waheed placed in a secure prison in Afghanistan. However, fake news reports indicated that Waheed was killed so that there wouldn’t be a rescue attempt for the terrorist. Waheed’s father, a Saudi billionaire, took those reports seriously and with the help of Prince Muhammed bin Rashid, a large bounty was placed on Rapp’s head.
Killing Mitch Rapp would certainly not be an easy task. First of all, the man was a lone wolf warrior who killed others with ease and could sniff out a trap or an ambush. Second, killing Rapp would also bring about the fury of not only his colleagues but the CIA and U.S. government as a whole. Only a top assassin is capable of carrying out such a monumental task, especially one who will not leave any connections with the Saudi royal family. Read more…
Our review of Pearl Harbor-themed films concludes with the biggest (and probably most disappointing) film of them all — 2001′s blockbuster Pearl Harbor.
Pearl Harbor is an epic war film that follows two American fighter pilots before and after the Japanese air raid on December 7, 1941. One pilot volunteers to fight with England’s Royal Air Force while the other is sent to a squadron in Pearl Harbor. They’re reunited just prior to the attack, and during the air raid they use their P-40 Warhawks to shoot down several enemy aircraft. Several months later they fly with James Doolittle and his historic bombing of Japan. There’s also a love story involving the two pilots and their affections for a nurse.
Directed by Michael Bay, Pearl Harbor was produced by Jerry Bruckheimer. The film stars Ben Affleck as Lieutenant Rafe McCawley. Co-starring in the film are Josh Hartnett as Rafe’s best friend, Lieutenant Daniel Walker; and Kate Beckinsale as Nurse Evelyn Johnson. Supporting them are a variety of Hollywood celebrities including Cuba Gooding, Jr., Tom Sizemore, Jon Voight, and Alec Baldwin.
Pearl Harbor (2001) – (c) Buena Vista Pictures
Pearl Harbor begins at a Tennessee farm in 1923.
Rafe McCawley and Daniel “Danny” Walker are best friends. Rafe’s father is a crop duster pilot while Danny’s father is a farmer. One day after Rafe’s father returns, the boys climb into the aircraft and pretend to fly it. As they flick the switches and play with the controls, the engine suddenly comes to life. A moment later the biplane is roaring down the dirt runway and it briefly flies in the air. The biplane lands and the boys bring it to a halt. They’re exhilarated by the flight but Danny’s catches hell from his father who witnessed the incident.
Fast forward to January of 1941.
War is raging in Europe and it’s just a matter of time before America finally joins the fight. In the meantime, the American military continues training its pilots and sharpening their skills.
At Mitchel Field on Long Island, New York, both Rafe McCawley (Ben Affleck) and Danny Walker (Josh Hartnett) are first lieutenants in the Army Air Corps and pilots of the P-40 Warhawk. At the end of one of their training sessions, both of the pilots do a little showboating in front of their peers. They aim their aircraft at each other and then suddenly break away at the last second in a game of “chicken.” The maneuver thrills their colleagues but it lands them in hot water with their commanding officer, Major James “Jimmy” Doolittle (Alec Baldwin). Read more…