Here’s something I mean with all the generosity of spirit that I hope I possess in my heart: Den of Thieves, a new—well, newly released—crime movie, is not as bad as one might expect the directorial debut from the screenwriter of A Man Apart and London Has Fallen to be. That’s because writer-director Christian Gudegast has taken the greatest Los Angeles cops-and-robbers movie ever made and replicated it as closely as one can while filming in Atlanta, with a growling Gerard Butler standing in for an ad-libbing Al Pacino.
My NPR review of Den of Thieves is here. I believe the phrase “coffee-table action flick” is a Klimek Original.
Pablo Schreiber and Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson cover their tracks. (STX)
Vera Farmiga makes Liam Neeson an indecent proposal in The Commuter, Neeson’s latest January-release throat-puncher. Here’s my NPR review.
Good news: Guillermo Del Toro’s new movie is the best one he’s made in English! Even if it doesn’t kick quite as much undead ass as Blade II. Here’s my NPR review.
Early in Justice League, while director Zack Snyder abuses yet another Leonard Cohen song, we see a glimpse of a Metropolis Post front page with a headline about vanishing heroes that puts Kal-El in the middle of a triptych with Prince and David Bowie. It feels like a joke from Men in Black (another comic book-derived movie) 20 years ago. Anyway, it’s good to see that Metropolis is still a two-paper town.
Here’s my review of Justice League, where I did not really have room to complain that J.K. Simmons, the J. Jonah Jameson of Sam Raimi’s no-longer-canonical Spider-Man trilogy, is now Commissioner Gordon, which feels like double-dipping, or that Gordon has once again been demoted to empty trenchcoat after being a vibrant, fully-developed character in Christopher Nolan’s no-longer-canonical Dark Knight trilogy. These movies, man.
Up until now, Martin McDonagh’s best plays and movies have all been set in rural Ireland, or in an unnamed fictional totalitarian state, or In Bruges. That changes with the superb Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri, his first U.S.-set story that doesn’t feel like the work of a tourist. Here’s my NPR review.
Thor: Ragnarok is the best Thor movie by an Asgardian mile, but don’t let that backhanded compliment stop you. With dual villains played by Cate Blanchett and Jeff Goldblum plus a Mark Mothersbaugh score, it’s a stealth The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou reunion. Lo, here’s my NPR review.
I’m an admirer of all the principals involved, so it brings me no joy to report to you that Suburbicon—cowriter/director George Clooney’s deeply misguided retread of a Coen Bros. script from 30 years ago—is the biggest embarrassment to Hollywood’s liberal piety since Crash. At least Oscar Issac is having a good time.