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A look at fall's most promising flicks

Mystery at the movies

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It's murder most foul at the multiplexes this fall.

While the roster of films that will be debuting in September and October — the calm before the year-end holiday storm — includes the usual comedies and romances, it seems to be the thrillers that for the most part hold the most promise. Here, then, is a checklist of 10 major titles heading our way in the weeks ahead.

The Drop. The final completed film for the late James Gandolfini, this adaptation of a Dennis Lehane short story centers on two cousins (Tom Hardy and Gandolfini) who work at a mob-friendly Brooklyn bar and the circumstances that arise when the joint is robbed. (Sept. 12)

Liam Neeson in A Walk Among the Tombstones - UNIVERSAL
  • Universal
  • Liam Neeson in A Walk Among the Tombstones

A Walk Among the Tombstones. A private eye (Liam Neeson) decides to help a drug dealer (Dan Stevens) locate the men who murdered his wife in this thriller based on Lawrence Block's novel. (Sept. 19)

Denzel Washington in The Equalizer - COLUMBIA
  • Columbia
  • Denzel Washington in The Equalizer

The Equalizer. Denzel Washington headlines this takeoff of the popular 1980s TV series (starring Edward Woodward) about Robert McCall, a mysterious man who helps the weak stand against their oppressors — in this case, a young girl (Chloë Grace Moretz) terrorized by Russian gangsters. (Sept. 26)

Gone Girl. David Fincher directs Ben Affleck in this mystery about a husband who becomes the primary suspect in the disappearance and possible murder of his own wife (Rosamund Pike). (Oct. 3)

Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Duvall in The Judge - WARNER BROS.
  • Warner Bros.
  • Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Duvall in The Judge

The Judge. An all-star cast powers this drama about an attorney (Robert Downey Jr.) who defends his father (Robert Duvall), a former judge, against a murder charge. (Oct. 10)

Fury. Who's your Wardaddy? Brad Pitt, as he essays the role of a sergeant with that moniker, leading his men on a harrowing mission behind German lines toward the close of World War II. (Oct. 17)

Birdman. A has-been actor (Michael Keaton), best known for once playing the superhero Batman — err, Birdman — attempts a comeback on the New York stage in this seriocomedy co-starring Edward Norton and Emma Stone. (Limited; no Charlotte date set.)

Kill the Messenger. The true story of Gary Webb is related in this film about the journalist (played by Jeremy Renner) whose life became a living hell after he revealed that the CIA flooded the U.S. streets with cocaine to help fund Nicaraguan rebels. (Limited; no Charlotte date set.)

Nightcrawler. No, this isn't a movie about the X-Men member, but rather a drama about an opportunistic journalist (Jake Gyllenhaal) who loves covering murders, car crashes and other sordid nightly-news fodder. (Limited; no Charlotte date set.)

The Two Faces of January. Adapted from the Patricia Highsmith novel, this finds a vacationing couple (Viggo Mortensen and Kirsten Dunst) striking up a friendship with a con artist (Inside Llewyn Davis' Oscar Isaac) in Greece. A subsequent murder understandably muddies the relationship. (Limited; no Charlotte date set.)

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