Over the weekend, the Mrs, Mason, and I like to hit up the Redbox for movies to watch. This week, we caught ‘Prisoners’ and ‘Runner Runner’.
First up, ‘Prisoners’ – Staring Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), Jake Gyllenhaal, Terrence Howard, Viola Davis, and Melissa Leo. This kidnapping thriller was directed by Denis Villeneuve, but more importantly it was photographed by Academy Award nominated cinematographer Roger Deakins. Roger is a once in a generator photographer who has been nominated for 11 Oscars filming Coen brothers movies and most recently Skyfall. Regardless of acting and plot, this film is beautiful and smartly shot. There is a particular car chase at the climax that is simply spellbinding. Hugh Jackman and Melissa Leo are incredible here and Jake is very layered and subtle in his performance as the downbeat detective Loki. There are heartbreaking scenes of parents searching for missing children, and brutal scenes of torture in a rigged shower. Strong Recommend. 4.25 out of 5 Boxes
Second, we saw ‘Runner Runner’ – staring Justin Timberlake, Ben Affleck, Gemma Arterton, and Anthony Mackie (aka the cast I really wish wasn’t in this movie). Not to spoil how I feel about it, but boy… this thing is a mess. There are so many things about it that make me angrier about the movie than the movie itself. On its face, the movie is FINE. Maybe a little less than fine, but it’s short and… well there are moments. On the list of disappointments, first is Ben Affleck and Anthony Mackie. I have to think they must have been signed to this picture at a different time because both of them are actors whom I know can bring the heat. Hell, Affleck is an Oscar winning screen writer and director. He’s a brilliant film MAKER. Anthony Mackie is coming off of Pain and Gain and Captain America: TWS, both of which I loved and loved him in. These are the types of movies that keep talents character actors like Mackie relegated to this kind of garbage and it makes sure Ben Affleck is still associated with bad movies (which by this point, he shouldn’t be. He’s going to be AWESOME as Bruce Wayne, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise) Second, is Justin Timberlake. Hate on JT as much as you like, but the kid’s got some chops. Plenty enough charisma to pull off a role like this in a better movie. Again, movies like this keep up-and-comers from really breaking through into good productions. So far, only David Fincher has really taken a chance on JT to cast him in a heavy-weight film, and more directors need to take notice. Third, Gemma Arterton (rounding out the cast I really wish wasn’t in this movie) – I like her a lot (especially in Hansel and Gretel) and she is kind of bad in this movie unfortunately. She’s poorly written for starters, but she just seems like she’s on autopilot here. Fourth, this director Brad Furman. I’m not so disappointed in him because this is only his second film, but I really like Lincoln Lawyer, and thought that film was a much more compelling thriller than this. All in all, this movie is not poorly set up or acted. It’s mostly under-written and un-confidently shot. Ben Affleck has a chance to be a real three dimensional character and a compelling Villain-You-Don’t-Want-To-Hate. But they turn him into a Bond villain and put some terrible ‘House always wins” lines in his mouth. Otherwise, it was good to see the dad from ‘Home Alone’ again – thought he might be dead. This movie was tough to get through with a cast of people I love or have liked before. I really wanted this to be passable, but it is not. Slight NOT Recommend. 2.25 out of 5 Boxes.
Have a good week folks. I hope you got the sense of what this column will entail. You may notice I wrote way more about the movie I DIDN’T recommend. Well, I write a lot about what either excites me or disappoints me and ‘Runner Runner’ was definitely the latter. I will be back later this week with my May Movie radar and a review of Amazing Spider-Man 2!!