Movie Review: “Like Sunday, Like Rain”

sunday

With “Like Sunday, Like Rain,” sturdy character actor Frank Whaley (“Pulp Fiction,” TV’s “Ray Donovan”) steps behind the camera to present an elegiac, sweet romance between a boy and his nanny.
No, not THAT kind of romance. This is a relationship dramedy about a spoiled, smart but considerate little rich boy and the struggling young woman impulsively hired to be his substitute mom.
Leighton Meester is Eleanor, and when we meet her, she’s tossing her feckless boyfriend’s (Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong) guitar out the window of his apartment. She is now homeless, he gets her fired from her waitress job, but there’s hope. A friend hooks her up with a temp firm that doesn’t do much background checking, and next thing you know, there’s distracted, lazy rich mom (Debra Messing) asking a question or two, and giving her the job.
Reggie (Julian Shatkin) is a distracted student, a math prodigy, an accomplished cellist. And he’s 12.
Where Whaley flips the script is that Reggie, who pays off drivers, camp counselors and others just so he can avoid being distracted from his reading and study, isn’t obnoxious.
“I’m just trying to navigate a course toward safety and sanity the best way I know how.”
He humors the cook, speaking Spanish because it’s easier for her, and is nothing if not solicitous to Eleanor. He takes her out to dinner, asks her about her life, makes suggestions (involving his mob-connected driver) about what to do with her stalker ex-boyfriend. He’s kind.
He memorizes poetry, and is dismissive about his own talents for the cello.
“Art, as a language, is dead.”
Whaley keeps this odd relationship on the up-and-up, and Meester effortlessly steps into a sweeter, more vulnerable role than the movies generally give her. Eleanor has problems, growing pains of a different sort  from Reggie’s. Young Shatkin does OK by a role that has him reciting a lot of words he’s not that comfortable with.
“Like Sunday, Like Rain” is never broad. It punctures cliches and aside from a couple of swear words, has no reason to wear the idiotic R-rating that the MPAA saddled it with.
The tear-inducing musical finale to this simple and intimate movie will touch you, even if it didn’t get through to the tin-eared ratings board.
2half-star6

MPAA Rating: R for language
Cast: Leighton Meester, Julian Shatkin, Debra Messing, Billie Armstrong
Credits: Written and directed by Frank Whaley. A Monterey Media release.

Running time: 1:44

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Weekend movies: “Chappie” gets bombed, Vince Vaughn is nuked, “Marigold” passes muster — again

chappieTake away an early barrage of fawning, Guiness and G & T enfeebled Brit critics, and Neil Blomkamp’s insipid “Chappie” would have experienced the consensus slaughter it so richly deserved.

I loved “District 9,” and was enthusiastic about “Elysium” in metaphoric Occupy politics and execution. But this was, as I said in my review, “Excruciating.”  Cutesie robot, carnage galore. It takes on “What the hell was he THINKING” overtones more than once. There’s a time-honored Hollywood law, I call it “The Elizabeth Berkley Rule.” Always announce your NEXT big project before a flop comes out. So Blomkamp’s attachment to direct the next “Alien” was timely and career-preserving.

Sony knew this POS was a POS, which is why they only screened it late Wed. Pity the Brits didn’t pick up on that. What a bunch of Empire Fanboys.

Perhaps French Canadian critics stuck up for Canadian Ken Scott’s latest team-up with Vince Vaughn. Probably not. “Unfinished Business” is an appallingly laugh-starved marriage of “Family Man” dramedy and “Hangover in Berlin” raunch — full frontal nudity, gay fetishism, all joked about, badly, by grinning Dave Franco. A nightmare. Tom Wilkinson saves a little dignity, Nick Frost, not so much. Vince gets beaten up a lot, unfairly I think. Scott did the wonderful “Starbuck,” it’s inferior Hollywood remake “Delivery Man” and the lightly charming “The Grand Seduction” (can’t remember if he did its antecedent, “Seducing Dr. Lewis,” also French and Canadian.

But he has no flair for Hollywood comedy, and Franco is an infuriating performer, a better looking Rob Schneider.

“The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” is weak tea, indeed. They made Maggie Smith NOT a racist and stripped whatever other edge the first one packed in from it. It earned passing grades, again built on fawning Brit critics, who are to movies what “Top Gear” is to cars — jingoistic in the extreme.

“Buzzard” is an overpraised film fest character piece about a nasty, weaselly petty thief office worker whose thievery is matched with a delicious paranoia. Good, not great, but others were more enthusiastic.

“Road Hard” is a fairly conventional but nasty comedy about a cynical, aging comic struggling to get one last break. Or realize it’s never going to happen. I am not a fan of Adam Carolla, but I dug it. Others were less generous.

“Kidnapping Mr. Heikeken” is a caper thriller about the kidnapping of the Heinken Beer Kingpin, a good cast wasted in an otherwise feebly executed action pic.

A couple of docs of note — “Merchants of Doubt” ties Big Tobacco’s Big Lie tactics to the global warming deniers, some of whom used to also lie about tobacco.

And “A Year in Champagne” is an informative but dry doc about how the bubbly is made.

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Next Interview: Questions for “Insurgent” star Octavia Spencer?

octaviaLove that Octavia Spencer. And since I’ve interviewed Shailene Woodley so much her mom is getting suspicious, I pitched The Only O I Adore as someone I’d like to talk to about “Insurgent,” the sequel to “Divergent.”

We last spoke before she won her Oscar for “The Help,” and Spencer has made the most of her victory, stealing scenes in otherwise-bad big budget comedies (“Dinner for Schmucks”), getting a TV series (“Red Band Society”).

And then there was that whole effort to rescue Neil Patrick Harris on Oscar night.

And now she’s getting sci-fi franchise, OK, “Young Adult Sci-Fi Franchise” money.

Questions for Alabama’s Oscar winner? Post a comment, and thanks for the suggestions.

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Movie Review: “The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”

ex1

The clash of cultures has been rubbed off the marigolds in “The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.” Most of the characters are back — those who didn’t die off — in this sequel comedy about British retirees lured to India where their money goes further and the elderly are, as a general rule, revered rather than cast aside. But they’ve all turned so…nice.
Maggie Smith’s once racist retired maid has become the sweet mouthpiece for Exotic Marigold Hotel operator Sonny (Dev Patel) as they pitch their idea of outsourced old folks’ homes to an American conglomerate (David Strathhairn is the CEO).
Gentle Douglas (Bill Nighy) is finally rid of his shrew of a wife (Penelope Wilton). But he still hasn’t the nerve to confess his love for Evelyn (Judi Dench). Madge (Celia Imrie) is still flirting and dating with a mercenary eye toward being taken care of, Carol (Diana Hardcastle) is still carrying on with Norman (Ronald Pickup) at The Viceroy ex-pats club, though Norman has been thinking about commitment.
But the artifice shows, the cuteness strains to not become overbearing in this sequel, an overlong film filled to the rim with pithy advice from the elders.
“The distance between what we want and what we fear is the width of an eyelash.”
“You only make progress when you stick your neck out.”
That’s what Sonny is doing, sticking his neck out. He needs backing to buy a bankrupt second hotel, allowing him to expand. He is closing in on his long-planned wedding to Sunaina (Tina Desai). But a dashing, rich friend (Shazad Latif) of her brother’s is thwarting him at every turn. Sonny needs to impress someone the Americans have sent to inspect his operation. And Sonny is sure this secret inspector is the “writer” who checks in. He’s played by Indo-phile Richard Gere, which is probably why this writer immediately sets his cap for Sonny’s mom (Lillete Dubey).
The film is all contrivances, as Norman worries that he’s accidentally put out a hit on Carol with a confused tuk tuk (auto-rickshaw) driver, Sonny “pimps out” his mother and mistaken identities worthy of farce, but not that funny, are introduced.
The pall of death is cast aside for this sequel, as Evelyn considers a late-life career as a textile buyer, and Douglas, Madge and others keep their eyes on the future — future love, future security and the like.
Director John Madden and his crew make India the most alluring, scrubbing any hint of squalor from Jaipur, and filming in the cooler months. Nobody sweats.
That means that this time, this “Exotic” hotel is more a place to check into briefly, in passing, and not the sort of place you’d want to lose yourself in.

2stars1
MPAA Rating: PG for some language and suggestive comments
Cast: Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Dev Patel, Bill Nighy, Richard Gere, Lillete Dubey

Credits: Directed by John Madden, script by Ol Parker. A Fox Searchlight release.

Running time: 2:02

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Movie Review: “Unfinished Business”

biz

The best acting job in “Unfinished Business” is turned in by Vince Vaughn. He spends the 91 minutes of this seriously laugh-starved comedy trying to pretend he doesn’t want to strangle Dave Franco.
Rare is the performance that inspires such instant loathing. But Franco, shorter and toothier (if that is possible) brother of James, plays a maddeningly annoying employee of Vaughn’s character’s metal shavings brokerage. His grinning, mousy-voiced, perhaps “special needs”/ perhaps savant sexual innocent will drive you a little crazy. His upstaged co-stars certainly could be excused for throttling him between takes.
Dan Trunkman (Vaughn) gets tired of working for somebody else’s bonus and quits his insufferable boss Chuck (Sienna Miller) to go into business for himself. He invites, Jerry Maguire style, his colleagues to join him in revolt. Tim (Tom Wilkinson) has just been laid off, so, what the heck? And Mike Pancake (Franco) had a job interview and no prayer of being hired. Any prior experience?
“Foot Locker.”
“Reasons for leaving?”
“I didn’t like…feet.”
A year later, the trio’s new firm is close to “the handshake,” closing a big deal. But the duplicitous heel they need to shake their hands (James Marsden) strings them along, making them the “fluffer” for this contract. Chuck (Miller) may be their undoing. But not if their flights to Portland, Maine and then Berlin — to pitch to the big bosses — pay off.
Vaughn plays it straight, going for a frustrated slow burn here. Franco tests that. His Pancake is meant to wring laughs out of simple, unschooled and inarticulate mispronunciations of simple words. “Exploits,” for instance.  Tim is an old man in the last throes of a bad marriage who just wants to “experience joy” for once. He’s the one willing to drive this business trip into “Hangover” territory, hiring sex workers, trying Ecstasy at the Berlin youth hostel he and Mike board in.
Screenwriter Steve Conrad (“The Pursuit of Happyness”) gives Dan a couple of comically problem kids — a boy being bullied because of his weight, a daughter not happy with public school either. Dan’s been an absentee dad and longs for this deal to change that.
The desperation spills from the characters and this story — a gay fetish festival in Berlin, a rave at the aforementioned youth hostel — and into the filmmaking. “Unfinished Business”, the second film Vaughn has done with the slow-footed and sentimental Canadian Ken Scott (“Delivery Man”) groans under the weight of expected laughs, expectations that are rarely met.
Wilkinson, out of character as broad and randy, is funny, and Franco, as grating as he plays this guy, may wear you down a little. But you can see the fear in Vaughn’s eyes as another gag limps to its payoff, another scene fails to deliver anything but stony silence where the laughs are supposed to be.
MPAA Rating: R for some strong risqué sexual content/graphic nudity, and for language and drug use

Cast: Vince Vaughn, Dave Franco, Sienna Miller, Tom Wilkinson, Nick Frost, James Marsden
Credits: Directed by Ken Scott, script by Steve Conrad. A 20th Century Fox release.

Running time: 1:31

1half-star
MPAA Rating: R for some strong risqué sexual content/graphic nudity, and for language and drug use

Cast: Vince Vaughn, Dave Franco, Sienna Miller, Tom Wilkinson, Nick Frost, James Marsden
Credits: Directed by Ken Scott, script by Steve Conrad. A 20th Century Fox release.

Running time: 1:31

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Movie Review: “Chappie” chafes, and not in a good way

chapp

Wrongheaded in conception, eye-rolling in execution, “Chappie” is a childish blend of the cute robot goofiness of “Short Circuit,” and the bloody-minded mayhem of “Robocop.” It never finds its sweet spot and never, for one moment, works.
Neill Blomkamp, the director of “District 9,” has utterly exhausted his supply of South African sci-fi ideas with this disaster, an excruciating two hours of your life you will fear, quite rightly, you will never get back.
A couple of years in the future, robots have taken over a chunk of Johannesburg’s police force, and judging from Hugh Jackman, mullet haircuts have staged a comeback. Jackman, third-billed here, plays a weapons designer whose gigantic, heavily-beweaponed war robot is nothing the local police want anything to do with. They’re happy with the skinny, self-contained Scout robots that Deon (Dev Patel) designed, which has Jackman’s Vincent Moore bitter and resentful.
And Deon’s not done. He is on the verge of a sentient robot, one who can think and feel. If only the boss (Sigourney Weaver) would give him permission.
Blomkamp’s muse, his fellow South African Sharlto Copley, is the voice of Chappie. And a South African white rapper named Ninja plays…Ninja, a low-rent gang-banger who is plainly decades older than everybody he hangs with and those his gang is at war with. He dreams up a scheme to kidnap the chief robot designer so that he can turn off the robocops for a heist. That’s how Deon and his sentient prototype, which Ninja the gangster’s girlfriend (Yo-Landi Visser) promptly names “Chappie” the moment Deon boots him up, fall into their hands.
Cloyingly, Chappie behaves like a shy puppy the moment he comes to life. Amusingly, he picks up some of the profane, violent and guttural Afrikaner slang and accent from Ninja and Yolandi, whom he calls “Daddy” and Mommy.”
Yolandi, armed to the teeth and covered in tattoos, develops an instant mommy bond with the gadget that looks like the armed and armored machine that has been a menace to her and her kind. That’s head-slappingly hilarious. The head-slapping continues when the gangsters — get this — LET their scientist/kidnap-victim go, because he promises to return and “teach” Chappie language and morality and art every day after work.  Kidnappings of the future are a nine to five commitment, I guess.
Ninja tries to overcome the robot’s reluctance to take up violence and crime by showing Chappie that the “real world” is dog-eat-dog. Deon tries to get the mincing machine to master landscape painting.
Blomkamp wrings intentional laughs out of Chappie’s ineptitude at a life of crime, and unintentional laughs at pretty much everything else. How to convince Chappie to kill? Tell him he’s to “Make them go sleepy-weepy.”
This “The Education of Little Chappie” drags on and on, with passing suggestions of how morality is taught and what constitutes “sentient.” Patel (“Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”) is a broad hysteric here, and Jackman a simple burly menace, a military man used to strong-arming wimpy engineers to get what he wants. And Copley? He’s just insipid as the voice of Chappie.
The most valuable player here has to be Blomkamp’s agent, who got him assigned to the next “Alien” movie before this abomination (co-written with his wife) got out and suggested that he’s run out of ideas on just his third outing as director. That’s thinking about the future.

1star6

MPAA Rating: R for violence, language and brief nudity
Cast: Sharlto Copley, Dev Patel, Hugh Jackman
Credits: Directed by Neill Blomkamp, written by Neill Blomkamp, Terri Tatchell. A Sony release.
Running time: 2:00

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Movie Review: “Merchants of Doubt”

mercSpoiler alert . There’s no magic moment of hope at the end of “Merchants of Doubt.”
This documentary, the first to zero in on how and why the global climate change discussion became political and how that led to government gridlock, is just an account of the train wreck and how it happened, and continues to happen.
The “global warming denial” industry — a few well-fed, well-paid faces, amplified by constant TV exposure into a “movement” without numbers, “experts” without scientific credentials, have gotten their way. Decades of increasingly dire warnings and overwhelming scientific consensus — and America lags behind the rest of the world in taking action or even accepting that global warming exists.
As a smirking lobbyist Marc Marono, an acolyte of Rush Limbaugh puts it, “gridlock” means they “win.”
“Merchants of Doubt” has its moments when the professional deniars hem and haw about who pays them to do what they do. But mostly, they’re glib, smug, self-confessed and self-righteous tools of Big Coal, Big Chemical or Big Oil.
The movie exposing them can be glib, too. Director Robert Kenner (“Food, Inc.”) frames this as a big confidence game, inserting magician Jamy Ian Swiss’s card tricks and comments about getting angry when he sees his trade — misdirection, “fooling people” — used for ill. That gimmick doesn’t really work.
But Kenner presents a pretty convincing, utterly damning case that ties Big Tobacco and its decades of public relations chicanery to the “Playbook” — with many of the same players (mouthpieces) — is what got us here.
Kenner, in a not terribly methodical way, ties Big Tobacco to things like carcinogenic flame retardants for furniture, a “solution” to a tobacco-based ill (cigarette fires). “Experts” backing such retardants were exposed by the Chicago Tribune to be paid shills, frauds who lied to state and federal legislators in (not sworn) testimony. The subject has changed, the “playbook” of personal smears, demonizing and teller whoppers has not.
The ever-shifting line of scrimmage of Koch Brothers, Big Oil and Big Coal financed spokespeople are caught in their whoppers. But Kenner fails to acknowledge how much more effective these persuasive, theatrical short-term liars can be in the cable news era (no fact checking, facts framed as “opinion” up for “debate”).
Yes, Greenpeace is heard from. But so is the ultra-conservative South Carolina Congressman (Bob Inglis) voted out of office for suggesting action on climate change, so is “Skeptic” magazine publisher and lifelong Libertarian Michael Shermer, shouted down by angry old men who storm out of a debate over the issue at a convention of Libertarians. “Watermelons,” they’re called. “Green on the outside, red on the inside.”
“Merchants” presents this struggle as a last vestige of the Cold War dogmatic conservatism, “patriotic Americans” vs. “socialist liberals.” Scientists are being threatened, systemically harassed by “Merchants” like Morano, all for a paycheck and the power that comes from being a tiny, dishonest minority whom the media treats as neither.
So why see it? Science historican Naomi Oreskes suggests there’s satisfaction in being right, and loving irony.
As the climate warms and seas rise, conservatives — especially those who live on the coasts, will pay the price — evacuations, forced relocations, subsidies, hand-outs.
“People who don’t like big government,” Oreskes warns with a grin,” are going to get more of it.”

3stars2

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for brief strong language

Cast: Robert Hansen, Frederick Singer, Naomi Oreskes, Jamy Ian Swiss, Bob Inglis, Marc Morano
Credits: Directed by Robert Kenner. Liv Corfixen. A Sony Pictures Classics release.

Running time: 1:36

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Movie Review: “A Year in Champagne”

champagne_sd2There aren’t many bubbles in “A Year in Champagne,” an unfussy, unadorned infomercial for the product of that one magical region in France, the only place in the world that can produce sparkling wine that calls itself “Champagne.”
David Kennard’s documentary, framed by the 2012 growing and harvest season in Champagne, visits big operations such as Bollinger and Moet & Chandon, and smaller winers such as Maison Gosset. And he hangs out with Stephane Coquiellette, a younger vintner who leads him, and the viewer through the bare essentials of bubbly wine-making.
We learn how English tastes and English Industrial Revolution technology made champagne what it is today, how this northeastern corner of France, bisected by the Marne River, has been “bathed in blood” by centuries of invasions.
We see the threats to the 2012 grapes (chardonnay, blended with pinot noir and others, makes champagne), from chilly weather to constant rain (grape rot) and caterpillar infestations.
Most fascinating, other than the six miles of wine cellars the region boasts, might be the “rules” governing how vines are trimmed, how fermentation is achieved and how bottles are turned as the wine ages.
But Kennard’s film is never much more than Champagne 101, from its shots of the manufacturing process to the choice of trite classical music warhorse tunes (Boccherini, Straus and Mahler) to underscore the backlit scenes of grapes ripening on the vine.
“A Year” won’t tell aficionadoes anything new, and even novices may grate at its superficiality, a brief whiff of bouquet when more of a sip or two was called for.

2stars1

MPAA Rating: unrated
Cast: Martine Saunier
Credits: Writte and directed by David Kennard. A Samuel L. Goldwyn release.
Running time: 1:23

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Movie Review: “Two Men in Town”

twoThe crime happened eighteen years ago. William Garnett has paid his debt to society in a New Mexico prison. He converted to Islam, cleaned up his act and learned to control his temper.
That’s his hope. And his generally no-nonsense parole officer is willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.
But sending Garnett home to the border county where he grew up isn’t a good idea. There are  old associations to worry about. And then there’s the sheriff.
“The state granted him parole,” he snarls. “I didn’t.”
“Two Men in Town” is a stark modern day Western about a confrontation that we know is coming, a showdown we can feel from the opening moments as we glimpse, from a distance, a man smash another one’s skull in the desert along the Mexican border. Whose skull and who is smashing it is who this movie is about.
Oscar winner Forest Whitaker gives a tense, button-downed performance as Garnett, a guy who keeps his Koran with him, even at the stockyards, the only place that will hire him.
Oscar nominee Harvey Keitel is the sheriff who hasn’t forgotten the deputy Garnett murdered. Brenda Blethyn is the parole officer who just moved to the sunshine of New Mexico from Chicago.
And Luis Guzman is the local gangster Garnett used to run with, a guy who insists on renewing old ties with a devout Muslim who keeps politely refusing to let that happen.
Writer-director Rachid Bouchareb directed the 2006 Oscar nominated best foreign language film “Days of Glory,” about Algerian soldiers fighting for France in World War II. His “Two Men” is adapted from an Alain Delon 1973 French thriller of the same title. He’s given this updating a Western feel, a Muslim/Christian culture clash undertone and a border country illegal immigration subtext.
All of which should only enrich the minimalism of the drama.
But he rubs edges off the characters, giving everybody a reasonable tint. The sheriff cracks down on militias that want to hunt and capture illegals crossing the desert. The ex-con wants a new start, but still has the remnants of a violent temper.
And yet somehow, the pretty Catholic accounts manager at the bank (Dolores Heredia) lets herself fall for the new killer who charms her, in Spanish. Somehow, the indebted gangster won’t take ‘No’ for an answer to his entreaties and the parole officer and the sheriff, squaring off over harassing this ex-con, both seem in the right.
Characters turn into convenient plot contrivances.
The shades of grey here may mimic real life, but that doesn’t really work for Western showdown pictures. Bouchareb gets fine performances from several wonderful, under-utilized actors, including Ellen Burstyn and Tim Guinee in smaller roles. But his morality play is too muted to work, too muzzled to have any bite.

2stars1

MPAA Rating:  R for language

Cast: Forest Whitaker, Harvey Keitel, Brenda Blethyn, Luis Guzman, Ellen Burstyn

Credits: Written and directed by Rachid Bouchareb, based on a 1973 French film written and directed by José Giovanni. A Cohen Media release.

Running time: 1:56

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Movie Review: “Kidnapping Mr. Heineken”

heinyAnthony Hopkins ferments a fine rage, perhaps at the “dying of the light,” in “Kidnapping Mr. Heineken.” As mega-rich Dutch brewery mogul Alfred “Freddy” Heineken, his quicksilver flashes of temper are worthy of other Hopkins creations, even the demigod Odin in the “Thor” movies. Freddy Heineken was a man used to ordering people around, used to firing people, used to getting his way. He might labor to present calm, unworried face to his kidnappers. But inside, he was seething, plotting and trying to reason his way out of the fix he found himself in back in 1982.
Hopkins’ Heineken is the most interesting character in this entirely-too-straightforward caper picture from the Swedish director Daniel Alfredson, who helmed the last two “Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” movies. It’s a shame the film isn’t really about Heineken, but about the generic, younger and in-over-their-heads building contractors who nabbed Freddy and demanded the highest ransom ever paid up to that time.
Jim Sturgess, in one of those unflattering mop tops of the day, is the ringleader — Cor — a man who lost the business he shared with three other guys (played by Sam Worthington, Ryan Kwanten and Mark van Eeuwen) in a recession. The bank won’t lend them money, the authorities won’t let them lawfully or unlawfully evict the squatters who have taken over the one building they own together as collateral.
But that attempted eviction hints at the violence they’re capable of. Cor pitches a kidnapping scheme to tide them over, and the others, with varying degrees of reluctance, sign on. Cor is a gambler.
“That’s all a crime is, a wager. You bet your liberty against the payoff.”
Early 1980s Europe had terrorist gangs pulling jobs just like this, so Willem (Worthington) insists that they “look professional” about it. They’ll hit a bank first to finance the kidnapping. They’ll speak German in front of their victims and make like the whole thing is a Red Army Faction of Baader-Meinhof Gang heist.
Alfredson stages the bank robbery and the kidnapping that follows with verve — WWII vintage machine guns blazing, a chase along Amsterdam’s canals. The script elects to not spend much time on the planning, hiding the details of what they’re trying to pull as a way of ratcheting up the tension and surprising us with the action. That almost works.
What comes later, though, dominates the film — a long waiting game, with the occasional nakedly cunning moment when Heineken promises them a clean escape if they’ll let him and his driver go. Tensions mount, fissures open in the gang.
“What’s wrong with him?”
“What’s RIGHT with him?”
All routine elements to thrillers like this, with Sturgess gamely suggesting an ordinary guy, in over his head and in love — which we know means trouble — and Worthington (“Avatar”) somewhat convincing as the gang’s hothead — capable of going down in a blaze of glory.
It’s a good looking film, just a tad on the dull and predictable side. But the occasional flash of Hopkins threatens, at several moments, to turn this formulaic true-heist tale into something more psychological, more pathological or at least allegorical. He isn’t really given the chance.

2stars1

MPAA Rating: R for language throughout

Cast: Jim Sturgess, Anthony Hopkins, Sam Worthington
Credits: Directed by Daniel Alfredson, written by William Brookfield, based on the Peter R. de Vries book. A Millennium release.

Running time: 1:34

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