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Posts Tagged ‘morgan freeman’

Alan Arkin, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine

“GOING IN STYLE”   My rating: C 

97 minutes | MPAA rating: PG-13

The story told in “Going in Style” — three disgruntled old codgers rob a bank — has the makings of a fine movie.

We know this because of the original “Going in Style” starring George Burns, Lee Strasberg and Art Carney.  I saw it just once when it opened in 1979, but the film’s seamless blend of comedy and end-of-life seriousness has hung strong in my memory for nearly four decades.

Minutes after watching the new “Going in Style” its memory already is fading.

Which is a shame, given that it features three Oscar-winning actors — Michael Caine, Alan Arkin and Morgan Freeman — whose combined thespian power should be enough to power a battleship.

Oh, there are flashes of genuine emotion here, but they are fleeting, buried under cheap laughs, grotesque improbabilities, and the jittery pacing of short-attention-span filmmaking.

Joe (Caine), Willie (Freeman) and Albert (Arkin) are Brooklyn neighbors and longtime workers at a steel plant.  Retired for a decade, they’re still best buds.

But getting old isn’t for sissies. The bank is taking the house Joe shares with his daughter and granddaughter.  Willie is dying of kidney disease.  Albert is terminally grumpy.

The final blow comes when their old employer is bought by a European outfit that closes down all American operations and terminates the pension fund upon which our protagonists rely for their survival.

After 50 years of living honest American lives, the three are indignant at this turn of events.  They decide to get even by robbing the bank overseeing the dismantling of the pension fund. That it’s the same institution foreclosing on Joe’s house only makes revenge that much sweeter. (more…)

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Scarlett Johansson is Lucy

Scarlett Johansson is Lucy

“LUCY”  My rating: B- (Opening wide on July 25)

90 minutes | MPAA rating: R

We’ve been repeatedly told that  human beings coast by using only 10 percent of our brainpower.

What happens when we kick that statistic up to 20 percent, 50 percent — even 100 percent — is illustrated in “Lucy,”  director Luc Besson’s giddy, goofy and slickly made sci-fi thriller.

Our titular heroine (Scarlett Johansson) is a young woman studying in Taiwan — though she apparently spends more time partying than cracking books. In the film’s opening moments she is coerced by a former boyfriend into delivering a

Min-sik Choi

Min-sik Choi

briefcase to a high-rise office building. There she finds herself in the clutches of a venal gangster, Jang (Min-sik Choi, the scary/compelling star of “Old Boy” and “I Saw the Devil”), who has a plan to use Lucy and three other kidnapped individuals to smuggle a new superdrug into Europe and the U.S.

The ghastly plan calls for large plastic pouches of the drug CPH-4 to be sewn into the  abdomens of the unwilling mules.  Failure to complete the mission will mean reprisals against the couriers’ families.

Before she can board a plane, though, the bag in Lucy’s tummy ruptures, flooding her system with the potent pharmaceutical and kicking her brain into overdrive.  Not only are her thinking processes given a jump start, but she gains superhuman hand-eye coordination, X-ray vision (a tree comes alive with flowing, glowing dots of energy) and, eventually, control of time and space.

“I feel everything.” she says. “Space, air, vibrations, people…I can feel gravity, the rotation of the Earth.”

All this is presented in a breathless visual style that feels not unlike the mind-blowing head journey that concluded Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey” — although Besson delivers his trip at Mach speed.  Creative visual effects depict the changes in Lucy’s body at the cellular level — and in a couple of gloriously oddball sequences we meet a hairy man-ape in the Pleistocene.  Besson also likes to drop in snippets of cheetahs hunting gazelles to suggest that Lucy is now the top predator in her world.

 

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Now-You-See-Me-01“NOW YOU SEE ME” My rating: C (Opening wide on May 31)

116 minutes | MPAA rating: PG-13

Big, slick and determined to wow us with its amazingness, the magic-themed caper film “Now You See Me” is less a David Copperfield spectacular than a fumbled bit of sleight-of-hand as performed by “Arrested Development’s” Gob Bluth.

The movie starts falling apart as soon as it begins. “Now You See Me” isn’t about the characters and it certainly isn’t about stage magic. It feels like something the screenwriters (Ed Solomon, Boaz Yakin, Edward Ricourt) cooked up on a dare, vying to establish the most outlandish, complicated yarn possible.

What they’ve produced is a towering house of cards that any two-year-old could knock over.

At the outset of Louis Leterrier’s film we’re introduced to four struggling street magicians, each of whom has a magic specialty.  Daniel  (Jesse Eisenberg) is a cocky card manipulator and illusionist. Henley (Isla Fisher) is an escape artist. Jack (Dave Franco…James’ brother) is an accomplished pickpocket. Merritt (Woody Harrelson) is a mentalist/hypnotist.

These rivals are recruited by a mysterious, unseen individual to form a big Las Vegas magic act, the Four Horsemen.

On their opening night the Horsemen “teleport” a French vacationer to the vault of his bank in Paris, where millions in Euros are sucked up into an air vent and end up fluttering over the delighted audience back on the Strip.

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