Jean Reno

Alex Cross Tyler Perry Matthew Fox

You’d think a thriller about a brilliantly dogged detective matching wits with a sadistically smart serial killer would be at least somewhat entertaining. You’d be right in thinking that too, and if that’s the kind of film you’re looking for I recommend Memories of Murder, Copycat or Seven to fill your needs. Because there’s nothing about the new film Alex Cross that comes even close to brilliant, smart or intentionally entertaining. Alex Cross (Tyler Perry) is a homicide detective and doctor (of some kind but probably a psychologist) in Detroit who’s grown weary of his police beat and is considering taking an adviser role with the FBI. Before he can convince his pregnant wife that the move to Washington DC is in their best interest he’s tasked with solving a multiple murder with a tortured woman at its center. Cross’ team includes his childhood friend, Det. Tommy Kane (Ed Burns), and the young but talented Det. Monica Ashe (Rachel Nichols), and their target is a determined and very capable killer whose name changes with the turn of the script’s page. Picasso aka the Four Roses Killer aka Cadillac spokesperson (Matthew Fox) is targeting high-ranking executives, but after he’s almost caught during an attempted hit he turns his focus towards Cross and friends. It doesn’t take long before you’ll start wishing him the best of luck.

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After all these years of Margaret being stuck in legal and release limbo, it wouldn’t have been surprising if Kenneth Lonergan‘s (subtle) post-9/11 film turned out to be a misfire. All the turmoil made it doubtful that we’d ever get the masterpiece that Scorsese and many others claimed Lonergan’s film to be. The final, two-and-a-half-hour cut — which is unfortunately being dumped on a few screens — actually features hints of that masterpiece. Those hints, ultimately, make for a messy-yet-poignant dramatic opera about the power of regret, loss, and worst of all, being a teenager. Lonergan aims high in a way that, even if Margaret was a disaster, it’d still be an admirable (but failed) passion project. This isn’t that film, though. The playwright’s tremendous You Can Count on Me was small-scale, but full of power. His follow-up attempts to operate on a grand-scale, and it contains most of the power exhibited in his directorial debut.

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This year, movies like Battle: Los Angeles, I Am Number Four, Hoodwinked 2 (did anyone even see the first one?), another Tyler Perry movie, Red Riding Hood, and the Justin Bieber documentary all easily made their way into theaters. Know what hasn’t come out this year (or the past couple) while films like Something Borrowed get their big studio pushes?  Margaret. Kenneth Lonergan‘s follow-up to his brilliant debut, You Can Count on Me, has had a notoriously rough time making it to theaters, both due to legal issues and a dispute over final cut. The film was shot almost six years ago. The editing process has been called a nightmare. Lonergan has a three-hour cut that Fox Searchlight isn’t too keen on releasing. Why? Because they won’t release a version over two hours long. Lonergan has final cut, which hasn’t made the situation any easier. Great talents such as Thelma Schoonmaker, Martin Scorsese, Scott Rudin, and Sydney Pollack did passes on the film to get it down to a shorter length. And right now, Scorsese is doing another edit of the film with Lonergan.

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As director/writer/producer Luc Besson has been responsible for a seemingly endless number of slick action films filled with gunplay, heroics, and a clear disregard for the laws of physics. He’s made action stars out of children and women (The Professional and La Femme Nikita), street gymnasts (District 13), and cabbies (Taxi). Hell, he even turned comic actor Jason Statham into a convincing action lead with The Transporter. Recently he’s found a new niche with lead actors approaching their sixth decade of life. Taken saw Liam Neeson demonstrating his very specific set of skills against some baddies, and now Jean Reno is shooting his way throughout the beautiful city of Marseilles in a bloody tale of revenge and family business gone awry. Charley Mattei (Reno) is a happily married father of two who once upon a time was also a mobster. He quit the business to focus on the joys of family, but it seems his past family, the ones that carry guns and horse heads in the trunks of their cars, didn’t like the way he said goodbye. They ambush him one morning and leave him for dead with twenty-two bullets lodged in his blood-drenched body. But they made two mistakes… they killed his dog. And they didn’t kill him.

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