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Thumbnails Feb 15

by Tony Medley

Red Army (8/10): The story of the 1980 Soviet Olympic hockey team told through the eyes of captain Viachaslav Fetisov highlights the dismal relationship between Fetisov and the other players on one side and their dictatorial coach, Viktor Tikhonov, on the other. It goes on to tell how all the players came to play in the NHL, how they finally got together on the same team, and the effect it had on the NHL, closing with what became of Fetisov. Itís a fascinating film.

Black Sea (7/10): Despite the fact that itís too long and lacks humor, this Jude Law vehicle still creates a sufficient amount of tension along with the plot twist that make it entertaining. Frankly, though, the plot twist made absolutely no sense to me. This is intended to capture the claustrophobic feeling of being in a disabled submarine of questionable safety in the ocean depths. Unfortunately, good as this movie is, director Kevin McDonald has apparently never seen the inside of a real sub because this one is big enough to play basketball in.

Taken 3 (5/10): Screenwriter Robert Mark Kamen has apparently run out of ideas for this until-now entertaining Liam Neeson franchise. This is a formulaic, often preposterous, excursion into revenge violence. Director Luc Besson has clearly lost his way in this film. Oh, well, all good things must come to an end, and thatís whatís happened here. Too bad; with new blood it could continue for a long time. But this one could be the killing blow.

Wild Card (5/10): It would be hard to believe that it took longer than 15 days to shoot this Jason Statham vehicle, which is a remake of Burt Reynoldís 1986 ďHeat.Ē Thereís no story to speak of, just an excuse for unarmed gambling addict Jason Statham to use his martial arts to dispatch lots of bad guys who need shaves (generally around 10 at a time) and are armed with guns and knives, yet emerging without so much as a scratch. Cameos by Jason Alexander and Stanley Tucci are wasted, although Tucci provides some spark.

Song One (3/10): Anne Hathaway spends a lot of time sitting by her  song-writing brotherís bedside waiting for him to come out of a coma (tick, tock, tick, tock). When it mercifully cuts to scenes of her having a love affair with a folk singer (Johnny Flynn), one realizes how comparatively action-packed it was to watch her sitting by her brotherís bedside. The musicís not bad, though.

Blackhat (2/10): This is the new kind of thriller, one that relies on action without logic. Itís ludicrous, full of guns that fire unending rounds of ammunition without needing a reload, gunfights in crowded areas, chases that spring out of nowhere, well I could go on and on. It seems as if there is at least one plot hole every minute. It piles non sequitur upon non sequitur, defying cohesion or reason.

The Interview (2/10): When Charlie Chaplin made The Great Dictator (1941) satirizing Hitler, his character was named Adenoid Hynkel, not Adolph Hitler. Only the initials were the same. And Hynkelís country was not Germany but Tomainia. If Hitler wanted to protest, heíd have to prove that Hynkel was similar to him and Tomainia was similar to Germany, so he ignored it. Seth Rogen, however, shows a lack of understanding of effective satire, by using the names of a real person and country. Itís no surprise that Rogen once again relies on cheap sex jokes, priapism, and foul language as substitutes for humor in this inept, unfunny film. Since Rogen has both writing and producing credits, there was no worry that the movie would not have a surfeit of F-bombs, a word without which Rogen apparently cannot communicate.