Mr Robot: eps1.2_d3bug.mkv (r3c4p and rev13w)

Tyrell Willick from Mr Robot and Evil Corp
Last week’s episode of Mr Robot, esp.1.1_ones-and-zer0es.mpeg had Elliot being pushed off the high pier by Mr Robot and eps1.2_d3bug.mkv starts off not with Alderson, but with Willick. The Evil Corp exec turns out to be a class A predator, a sort of American Psycho clone who uses violence as therapy, he pays a homeless man to be beaten by him when the CTO position looks to be filled by someone else.

Elliot comes to in the hospital to find Shayla and Krista Gordon standing at the foot of his bed. His drug dealer is there as emergency next of kin and he asked for Krista when he was checked in. After a short Q&A with his therapist, he agrees to participate in drug tests on a regular basis. There is a method to his madness, Elliot knows he can hack the hospital data base easily and fake his test results. He also promises to keep off the morphine, something that he proves to be a lie upon his release.

Back at his apartment building he and Shayla stand outside their flats and she asks if he had anything to do with Fernando,her supplier and the man who raped her, being busted. He says no. Shayla then notices that the doorknob on Elliot’s door is missing and when the two enter, they find Darlene inside. She points out that he needs to “spend a bit more scratch” to get a better system for his door and shows him a magazine article that says Jessica Alba wants to join fsociety.

Elliot kicks Darlene out of his flat.

Ollie is under increasing pressure to load the hacker CD at AllSafe; he has a deadline of 100 hours to infect the computer system at work. After a briefing by his boss Gideon, the security team get an invite to dinner and Elliot says no initially. The two men have a private chat and Alderson smooths things over. Heading back to his desk Elliot sees Mr Robot sitting in his chair. After a brusque interaction, the two head to a bar next to the building for a chat.

In the bar, Robot apologizes for pushing Elliot off the pier but the hacker does not believe him. Mr Robot leaves saying that without Elliot, there is no plan. Alderson thinks he has been given a chance at a “normal” existence; drinking vanilla lattes, “hearting” Instagram posts and asking Shayla to be his girlfriend. He goes back to work and accepts the dinner invitation.

At AllSafe, Ollie is about to load the CD when Angela comes up. He quickly takes the disc out of the tray and the two leave work. Willick is having a conversation with his pregnant wife or girlfriend before he goes out. He tells her not to “stay up.”

Elliot asks Shayla to be his girlfriend and learns that despite his hacking her accounts, he really did not know everything about her. The drug dealer is quite creative and seems to be gifted in the area of fashion design. They head to the dinner and during the evening Alderson and Gordon bond further and the man gives Elliot a hug.

Angela and Elliot talk and his best friend recalls wanting to be Claudia Kincaid from The Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler when she was little and he talks about getting lost back when there were no Google maps. Elliot muses that he could get used to the “normal life” when he gets a text.

He turns on the television.

A news report about Colby, the sacrificial lamb set up by fsociety earlier, is now being touted as the man responsible for the many company deaths of Evil Corp employees from leukemia. Mr. Robot has dangled the one bit of bait that Elliot is incapable of ignoring and his short-lived dream of living a normal life is shattered.

Tyrell heads to a gay bar, picks up Anwar and has sex with him in order to bug the man’s phone. Willick is not just a predator, but a sexual predator and omni-sexual creature. It is easy to see that with the “wannabe” CTO of Evil Corp, sex is just another weapon or tool to get what he wants.

Ollie confesses to Angela about the CD and his dalliance with Rebecca. At first she wants to leave him but after a little thought decides to stick with the love rat and infect the company as required. Angela is terrified that if they do not, she and her father will lose everything from identity theft. Ollie is not too keen on the plan and the two decide to work on a solution together.

As the strains of an operatic solo begins Gideon discovers the bug for fsociety that Elliot left on the server and makes a call. Tyrell is forced to have 50 Shades of Grey sex with his wife and she tells him to invite new CTO Scott Knowles to dinner. The opera reaches a crescendo as Elliot heads to the arcade and, with the rest of the team watching, sets up his laptop saying, “Here is the plan.”

In this episode of Mr Robot Elliot discusses bugs, which he equates to secrets or hidden messages. As he ruminates throughout the show about debugging and discovering bugs, he also takes a moment to consider being normal. The scene where he asks Shayla to be his girlfriend and discovers her “bug” or that “hidden maze” that he speaks of during the episode is touching and shows that not everything that the hacker does is all encompassing. The human factor, which he has issues with, eludes him.

The idea that the Christian Slater character Mr Robot is actually Elliot’s invisible friend or a schizophrenic hallucination or another personality of his own making teases the viewer enough to keep things interesting. Tyrell Willick is turing into a very multifaceted bad guy and one to keep an eye on. This young exec wants to win at any cost and if he discovers Elliot’s complicity in fsociety’s plan, things will get very ugly.

Mr Robot continues to be “in the now” and a show that places emphasis on the new reality. Rami Malek still rocks it as Elliot and his voice over makes the show work on so many levels. Christian Slater is excellent as the shadowy Mr Robot and Martin Wallström is suitably disturbing as the Evil Corp baddie. Portia Doubleday is getting into her part as Angela well enough that the character is becoming a favorite and Carly Chaikin is perfect as Shayla. Catch the show on USA network Wednesdays and later on-demand. Simply great TV this and not to be missed as Elliot Alderson and Mr Robot are both addictive as the morphine that the schizophrenic hacker ingests.

Need for Speed (2014): Aaron Paul’s Video Game Film

Aaron Paul as Tobey Marshall in Need for Speed
The 2014 film Need for Speed could be seen as a film made to cash in on Aaron Paul’s Breaking Bad popularity or an effort to capitalize on the video game of the same name. While the movie did make a decent profit, production costs were $66 million and the worldwide box office came to $203 million, critics panned the movie almost universally. The film’s biggest crime seems to have been, apart from starring television actor Paul, not being 2 Fast 2 Furious or part of that long running franchise.

Directed by Scott Waugh, stunt coordinator extraordinaire turned director, and starring Aaron Paul, Brit actors Imogen Poots and Dominic Cooper (Cooper is currently working steadily as Tony Stark’s daddy in Agent Carter on ABC) along with Mr Robot‘s Rami Malik and pre – 50 Shades of Grey Dakota Johnson, the movie is an action film based, very loosely on the video game and features fast cars, a little humor, and some thrills and spills along the way. Michael Keaton has a splendid cameo as Monarch, the former Formula 1 racer with a dickey heart who sponsors the De Leon race.

Paul plays Tobey Marshall, a racer who yearns to win the De Leon and whose small cadre of friends stick by him and help out in his late father’s business. Cooper is Dino Brewster, professional race car driver, rich guy and all around heel. The two do not get on, mainly because Dino stole Tobey’s girl, Anita (Johnson) whose little brother Pete (Harrison Gilbertson) is Marshall’s best friend. After taking a contract to modify a car for Brewster, a Mustang that is later sold to Julia Maddon’s boss for a cool $2.7 million, Dino challenges Tobey and Pete to a race and the heel kills Pete with a pit maneuver during the race.

Tobey is framed for the crime and put away for manslaughter. When he gets out, Marshall vies to get Monarch’s attention and get an invite to the De Leon where he wants to beat Brewster once and for all. Maddon joins Tobey as they drive across country with a bounty placed on their heads by Dino who wants to stop Marshall from entering the race.

That Aaron Paul has got some enormous acting chops goes without question. Just the fact that he held his own against master craftsman Bryan Cranston for the whole of Breaking Bad is proof positive that the man can act. Critics who had their long knives poised to sink into Aaron’s performance in this video game action racer were doing so because he dared to leave the small box. Had they paid attention, these “experts” would have noticed that Paul gave his usual meticulous performance.

Granted the storyline itself had some pretty glaring plot holes and Poots manages to look younger each time she is on screen, and there is not nearly enough Michael Keaton, but…

Malik shows just how he got the part of Elliot in Mr Robot, Poots showed just why she should be in more films and Cooper made a impressively nasty villain. The Brit actor showed just how to make the bad guy a truly nasty bit of stuff and that, in turn, helped to make Paul’s hero look even better.

Waugh did a good job in his second feature length film as director and the film looks great. Everything felt right and while not as glossy or OTT as the 2F2F franchise films, the stunts delivered the requisite amount of oohs and ahhs and made all the scenes crackle with excitement.

Certainly Need for Speed feels a little like a red headed step child to the “Furious” saga but overall, the film delivers. This is a 4 out of 5 star film, earning an extra star for the casting of Aaron Paul and Dominic Cooper. It is Streaming on Showtime at the moment and worth watching despite its rather long runtime of over two hours.

Mr Robot: ones-and-zer0es.mpeg (review/recap)

Mr Robot: ones-and-zer0es.mpeg (review/recap)  Screen Shot 2015-07-02 at 14.29.56
Last week’s episode of Mr Robot, the season one premiere, 0hellofriend.mov ended with Elliot returning to the Coney Island arcade and finding Mr Robot and co gone. On top of that Evil Corp, under the guise of Tyrell Wellick, approaches Elliot prompting him to worry that the game is up before it’s even really started. In ones-andzer0es.mpeg Mr Robot begins with Elliot standing in front of Tyrell and 11 of the companies “most annoying lawyers.”

Wellick offers the hacker a job although, as the new CTO of Evil Corp explains, it is not a legitimate offer as they have an agreement with Elliot’s current employer AllSafe not to poach their employees. Tyrell does say that there is nothing stopping the security specialist from joining Evil Corp on his own. The promise is that within five and a half years, Elliot will be a multi millionaire.

The entire exchange, including the bit afterwards with “Mr X,” aka Mr. Sullivan, is full of threatening gravitas and weighty meaning. There is also the underlying thread of of foreboding, mostly in Elliot’s guilty mind but also the score. The use of music in the show’s opening this week is a goosebumps inducing wave of brilliance. Never has Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 in A Major Op 92. Allegretto been used so effectively.

After his unsettling meeting with Tyrell and all those lawyers, Elliot is let out of the car in front of his apartment. He sees his dealer outside with a “client” who is insisting she allow him upstairs. Elliot’s arrival stops the man in his tracks and Shayla tells Elliot that she only has his morphine. He wants to “re-up” and she reminds him that he made her promise to never give up the morphine without the Suboxone, the withdrawal meds. Once he talks Shayla into handing over “just the morphine,” Elliot goes up to his flat and hacks Tyrell’s personal accounts.

Looking at the social media images and emails in front of him, the hacker realizes that everything is too perfect and that something is not right. Panicking, Elliot believes that Wellick expected him to hack the accounts and he has been set up. Elliot trashes his system, destroying all his equipment and continuing to snort his morphine.

At work later, his boss has just given him a raise when the news shows that fsociety is demanding the release of Colby, whom they framed for last week’s computer hack on Evil Corp, and that if the company do not comply they will “kill them.” Elliot freaks out, this was not part of the plan as he understood it. However, as Mr Robot points out later, he did walk out.

Outside AllSafe, a hip-hop artist is giving away a fee CD since his album has “just dropped” and all he is asking for in return are tweets about his product. Elliot’s best friend Angela and her fiancee stop to invite Elliot out to a “Groupon” discount dinner. He accepts, while still freaking out, and Ollie takes a CD saying he will only tweet if he likes it.

Elliot heads home vowing to cut all ties with fsociety. He finds Darlene, from the organization, in his shower. After borrowing some of his clothes, and telling him that the dog “shat in your bed,” she takes him back to abandoned theme park to see Mr Robot and the rest of the crew who want to congratulate him for what he did. As the two are on the subway, she suddenly pulls him into another car just missing two men in black who are following them. Elliot’s asks himself, “Does she see them too?”

Going into the arcade, he sees the tiny group have assembled to pay homage to his efforts. Mr Robot lectures Elliot on being either a one or a zero, do something or do nothing. Elliot says real life is not that binary. Robot reveals that he wants the hacker to help him blow up a natural gas facility that stands next to Steel Mountain.

The head of fsociety reveals more of their plans to take down Evil Corp. Elliot is hesitant, he asks about the workers and people who live in the area. Mr Robot tells him that it is, in essence, a hard world and that people die every day. After a protracted argument, where the leader accuses Elliot of being a zero, “just like your father.” Elliot leaves the group again. As he walks off, Darlene shouts at him, “We’ll do this with or without you.” She also says that he is culpable regardless of his inaction and Elliot realizes she is right.

Elliot goes to see Shayla and meets the dealer she buys his morphine and Saxopone from Fernando Vera, whom he says is “the worst human being I’ve ever hacked.” The hacker learned that Vera uses his social media to buy and sell drugs and apparently to schedule hits. He also says that he’s thought of turning him in but that would dry up his drug supply.

After a one-sided conversation with the drug dealer, Vera leaves and Elliot picks the lock on Shayla’s bathroom door and discovers her in a bath full of water. It seems that Fernando raped the woman and then dumped her in the tub. Elliot makes a decision to turn the drug dealer in and go cold turkey.

At his therapy session he talks about choice and the real lack of it. While images of Vera’s operation being packed up by the police are on screen, Elliot says that everyone’s choices have been “prepaid” for them. Elliot shouts at the therapist and it turns out that the CD from the rapper/hip-hop artist doesn’t work, except it does. The man has used it to hack Ollie and Angela’s system. As Ollie leaves, the “performer” is watching Angela in the apartment via the computer.

Elliot goes back to the theme park and meets with Mr. Robot. The two sit on a fence at the edge of the pier. Elliot tells the head of fsociety that he can take down Steel Mountain without killing anyone. Mr. Robot reminds Elliot that he told him walking away would keep him out of the organization. He then asks the hacker to tell him about his father.

He tells about his father pushing him out of a window, breaking his arm, when he was eight. Elliot broke a promise not to tell his mother about the leukemia that was killing his dad. His father never forgave him. At the end of the story, he asks Mr. Robot, “Are we good?” Instead of answering, the man responds with “do you ever ask yourself if he was right?” He then pats Elliot on the shoulder and pushes him off the edge of the pier. Mr Robot finishes by saying, “You did not commit to the sacred pact,” and leaves.

The writing on this show is superior and full of the “now.” References to Groupon coupons, beside feeling a little like product placement of sorts, is a nod to the Internet based theme behind the show. Other topical and cultural references abound, Elliot’s David Koresh allusion, the mad leader behind the Waco incident, was another more obvious touch along with the “hip-hop” artist selling his CD for “likes” and social media mentions. Included in this clever topical usage is the exchange between Elliot and “Mr X” at the show’s beginning.

Despite the fact that Christian Slater may have a TV curse, one which makes every television project he works on go down the drain, his Mr Robot works well with Rami Malek’s Elliot. Carly Chaikin as Darlene and Frances Shaw as Shayla are two actors on the show who have jumped fully into their characters and impress each time they appear on screen. Malek sells his schizophrenic drug addicted hacker completely and we are behind him. We believe and support his apparent paranoia and his underlying urge to do good.

ones-and-zer0es.mpeg is all about making decisions, doing something; a one, or doing nothing; a zero. In this episode Elliot is between that proverbial rock and a hard place. Being offered the keys to the kingdom over at Evil Corp and still being wooed, albeit somewhat differently than Tyrell’s approach, by fsociety. This series delivers an intelligent discussion worthy tale that runs deep. Those with short, or deficient, attention spans need not bother with this one. Mr Robot airs Tuesdays on USA. Watch it if you like to think.

Mr Robot: Hello Friend USA Network Equals Falling in Love Again

Still from Mr Robot with Rami Malek
With all the substandard shows on offer across the plethora of television networks, the appearance of Mr. Robot and its premiere episode of Hello Friend on the USA equals falling in love again. This first look at the new series introduces viewers to Elliot, a gifted schizophrenic, who appears to have a bit of autism in his makeup, who works in cyber security by day and hacks users as a past time.

The hero of the piece, played by Rami Malik (Night of the Museum 1,2,3, Need for Speed) is all “deer in the headlights” wide-eyed and spacey. Not all the time, but at the start of the show his look is a bit disconcerting. Despite this socially inept man’s odd appearance and the fact that he is speaking to an invisible mate, Hello Friend, which is the excuse for Malik’s voice over narration of events, thoughts, and plot line directions; Elliot is likable and the audience are drawn to him. While in real life he could be a bit off putting, in the show the character works.

The computer whiz self-medicates by snorting morphine, which he obtains illegally from a “pusher” whom he sleeps with later on after indulging in some “pure Molly” with her. This is one of the more amusing moments in the show. The camera pans back from a close up of Elliot smoking to reveal the bare bottom of his dealer as she sleeps next to him. His line about not making decisions while high is delivered perfectly.

The plot, in the premiere segment, has a mysterious chap dressed in white paint-spattered blue jeans, a work coat and white baseball cap following Elliot around. Carrying a paper cup with change in it, the man (played by Christian Slater in yet another try at television) “bumps into” the computer tech expert several times before finally introducing himself, sort of.

The whole series revolves around a group of hackers whose aim is total anarchy through the mechanization of big conglomerate account tampering. The first step is taking down the E corporation, which Elliot refers to as “Evil Corporation” and each time the logo appears that is how it looks, Evil vs E. Nice touch.

The premiere episode is helmed by none other than The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo director Niels Arden Oplev. This goes a long way toward explaining why the show works so incredibly well. Fast paced, splendidly put together and perfectly photographed by Tim Ives, this first episode goes beyond brilliant in catching and keeping the viewer entertained throughout.

Rami Malek is brilliant as the young challenged man who wants to change the world, punish the wicked and free himself of his delusions. Christian Slater, in his role as Mr. Robot, appears to be almost a McGuffin in this series and as such does what he does best; play himself. Slater is always an infinite joy to watch in anything as he brings much to the table playing various versions of himself.

Portia Doubleday is not allowed to do much. Her character walks around with a “smacked arse” look stamped on her face and has abysmal taste in men. She is also Elliot’s best friend and has been since childhood. Angela does appear to have some romantic inclination towards her pal but does not act on it.

With one filming location at Coney Island, and who wouldn’t want to take their coffee break at a ferris wheel that still works, the show looks very in the “now.” With the plot and the way that Elliot sees the world of the Internet, Mr. Robot may become one of the best shows on television, beating Stitchers, Wayward Pines and Bates Motel as the new “must see TV.”

Mr. Robot premieres properly June 24 on USA network but can be seen now on the Internet. This is one new show to be excited about, it certainly got my pulse racing and made me fall in love with American television all over again.

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