Capsule reviews of films playing the week of Dec. 15 | Film Clips | Creative Loafing Charlotte

Film » Film Clips

Capsule reviews of films playing the week of Dec. 15

by

comment

Page 2 of 6

FAIR GAME By now, it's accepted by all but the most deluded right-wing zealots that the Bush administration took this country to war under false pretenses. There was a point when the vessel of justice could have been righted and a course for a better tomorrow could have been charted, but instead, lies were upheld, misinformation was spread like so much manure, and the moment was gone. Fair Game is a film about that moment. Naomi Watts stars as Valerie Plame Wilson, the CIA operative whose undercover status was blown in retaliation for her husband Joe Wilson (Sean Penn) writing a New York Times op-ed piece in which he revealed that the justification for going to war with Iraq was a fabrication on the part of the war criminals in the White House. The film tracks the lives of the Wilsons professionally and personally, showing how the political fallout was placing a severe strain on their marriage. The most fascinating element of this important picture is the philosophical difference that exists between the couple. Joe is an idealist, honestly believing that he can take on the neocon thugs and win; Valerie is a realist, realizing the futility of any such efforts. It's an interesting dichotomy, because while our hearts side with Joe, our minds know — and our current history proves — that Valerie was right. ***

FASTER The basic outline sounds simple enough, as a taciturn man billed as "Driver" (Dwayne Johnson) is released from prison and begins bumping off those responsible for his incarceration as well as the death of a loved one. As he carries out his mission, he's pursued on one side by "Cop" (Billy Bob Thornton) and on the other by "Killer" (Oliver Jackson-Cohen). But Faster isn't merely interested in upping the body count. Driver spends a lot of time thoughtfully listening to a religious radio program, a plot device far more integrated and effective here than in the recent Stone. Cop is a hardcore drug user who's treated with disdain by everyone from his skilled partner (Carla Gugino) on the job to his estranged wife (Moon Bloodgood). And Killer is a wealthy computer genius who became a hit man out of sheer boredom with his life, only finding satisfaction with a girlfriend (Maggie Grace) whose idea of foreplay is firing off a few rounds in the backyard. An inexplicable close-up of a photograph two-thirds through the picture blows any chance at keeping the twist ending under wraps, and this unfortunate error somewhat tempers the mounting tension. But despite this miscue and a few lapses into illogicality, Faster largely succeeds as an efficient actioner. **1/2

THE GIRL WHO KICKED THE HORNET'S NEST The European equivalent of The Matrix Revolutions, this third chapter in the late author Stieg Larsson's "Millennium trilogy" finds a once-vibrant saga largely coasting on the fumes of its well-regarded predecessors. The raging "girl power" aesthetic so dominant in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and The Girl Who Played With Fire noticeably slips in this so-so entry, as punk protagonist Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) spends practically the entire picture confined to hospital beds and prison cells. Relegated to a subservient role in her own adventure, Lisbeth concedes all the sleuthing to friend and journalist Mikael Blomkist (Michael Nyqvist), who continues to uncover evildoing that reaches far and wide. (Confused? Don't ask, don't tell, just rent the previous two installments.) There's still pleasure to be had from watching the good guys take down all manner of murderers, rapists and other societal scumbags, but this series always worked best when it kept the focus tight. With an expanded array of villains (the scowling old men are moribund rather than menacing) and drawn-out legal proceedings, this eventually loses its sting. **1/2

HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS: PART 1 We won't know until July 15, 2011, whether or not the final book in J.K. Rowling's franchise really needed to be divided into two movies. But until the release of Part 2 on that forthcoming day, the evidence based on Part 1 leads to an inconclusive verdict. This is the first picture in the series that actually drags — it's not a disastrous debit since the majority of the film is so strong, but it does suggest that some judicious trimming might have given us the final chapter in one fell swoop. The coasting comes in the middle, which is fortunate since it leaves the production with a vibrant opening act and a powerhouse final hour. Fans will immediately be swept up in this latest chapter, which begins by killing off one of the good guys and sending Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) on a crusade to locate specific items that might help them vanquish the evil Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes). The movie spends an awful lot of time on the teens as they set up camp in an isolated area, and the romantic yearning between them, usually a highlight of the series, here settles into soap opera mundaneness. Yet once the story leaps past this narrative hurdle, it again gets back to the intriguing dynamics that have long defined this series. ***


Creative Loafing Charlotte Pick

Recover - CBD Roll On by Leef Organics

5% Bitcoin back
Roll-on relief by Leef Organics is a unique roller ball that includes cold-pressed, broad-spectrum whole plant CBD blended with wild crafted herbs, all on a mission to bring relief. Click for product details.
Earn bitcoin for shopping with Creative Loafing Charlotte

Add a comment

Creative Loafing Charlotte Pick

THRIVAL Liquid Superfood - CBD Extract

5% Bitcoin back
The THRIVAL CBD formula by Leef Organics is unlike any other cannabis-based wellness product on the market. A daily dose of this superfood helps bring overall wellness to the body. Click for product details.
Earn bitcoin for shopping with Creative Loafing Charlotte