26.  Keanu


Ahh, another R-rated comedy.  It wasn’t too long ago that these had almost completely fallen out of fashion.  And the The Hangover hit big and almost every comedy is now rated R.  Of course, each movie hits or misses based on its own merits and circumstances and the rating has very little to do with it (as was the case with Deadpool).

I was unsure about what those merits would be regarding Keanu.  Key and Peele are hit-and-miss with me and I generally find them amusing but not hilarious.  And I really only chose to see this one, this weekend, because I couldn’t get to a theater that was showing Green Room (that’s going to be a tough one for me to get to, with my upcoming schedule, but I’m going to try!).  So, I was ready for this one to go either way.

A fish-out-of-water buddy comedy, Keanu didn’t break too many conventions or reinvent the wheel.  And that’s okay.  Audiences go into these types of movies with certain expectations and those need to be met, at the very least.  I can confidently say that the marketing campaign was spot on for this one and you’re getting exactly what you signed up for.

As did I, for the most part.  Like I alluded to above, I was certainty amused for the duration of Keanu even if I wasn’t finding myself laughing hysterically.  Amusement is good, though.  I’ll take that.  There have certainly been many movies that in no way amused me and that’s rarely fun.  For what it’s worth, the crowd as a whole seemed to be laughing pretty consistently.

What I was surprised to find was that, as I was watching the film, I was becoming increasingly invested in the characters.  The two primary protagonists are likable and relatable and easy to root for.  At one time or another, we all find ourselves lost and searching for a direction in life.  Like a piece of a jigsaw puzzle that can’t find its hole.  And that’s the motivation behind both Key and Peele’s characters.

In addition to that, the movie subtly makes the point that we are all complex human beings, capable of good and bad – capable of surprising not only others, but ourselves, if we are just willing to take the chance.

Seeing the characters discover more about themselves as the story progresses adds an unexpected layer to Keanu.  What I’m especially impressed with is the fact that the film manages to mix in these complexities without ever sacrificing comedy or momentum.  It never slams on the brakes to make a point or to pound an idea into the viewer’s head.  These ideas are present if you want to see them.  If not, the light tone never dissipates and the laughs keep coming.

Often funny, occasionally hilarious, and surprisingly deep, Keanu is a nice little gem of a comedy that supplies a strong alternative to the big-budget blockbusters that are poised to flood the marketplace through August.  I’m curious to see what Key and Peele do next and they’ve earned my ticket money for their next outing.

26.  Keanu

25. A Hologram for the King

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Tom Hanks is my favorite actor.  Period.  There is a handful of actors for whom I will head to the theater to see anything that they’re in, but Tom Hanks tops them all.  He is so talented and versatile and open-minded and ambitious and intelligent and personable and down-to-earth and fun and on and on and on.  I had originally planned on seeing Hardcore Henry, this weekend.  But when I saw I would have to go to an entirely different city to see the new Tom Hanks movie (and Midnight Special as a bonus), my plans changed.  And there are no regrets (though I still hope to get to see Hardcore Henry on the big screen.  It’s looking unlikely, though.) because I will always see Tom Hanks’s films in the theater.  Every time.  He’s the best.  That’s why I drove for almost ninety minutes to catch A Hologram for the King, this weekend.  That was the closest it came to my house.

This film also marks the quarter-way mark on my march to seeing 100 2016 movies in the theater.  What better way to hit that landmark than with my favorite actor?  I (deliberately) knew very little about the film’s content going in.  What may be Tom Hanks’s most famous movie quote is also a very description of his career: you never know what you’re gonna get.  Comedy?  Drama?  A mix?  Something else entirely?  He can do it all.  And he does.  He’s the in-front-of-the-camera version of Steven Spielberg in the sense that he mixes fun, mainstream projects with deeper, more layered films.  It’s one of the many things that makes him so great.

So, what about his newest film, A Hologram for the King?  If I could sum it up in one word, that word would be “charming”.  The film definitely leans towards being a comedy with dramatic leanings, rather than the other way around (which is what I was guessing it would be).  And this is the second film this year that has featured a scene-stealing cab driver (remember Dopinder in Deadpool?) and the film is worth seeing for those scenes alone.

Beneath the funny bits lies a film about an aging man trying to feel relevant, again, which is something that most of us can either relate to already or will relate to, in the future.  While the movie contains a fair amount of heart, it never beats the viewer over the head with it.  This might be a boon in some people’s eyes but for me, it lacked a resonance that the story should have easily communicated.  This is clearly a choice by director Tom Tykwer because all of the necessary elements are there to pull some heartstrings.  But there was a decision to be made about whether the film was going to prioritize drama or comedy and the choice was made for comedy.  I’m not criticizing that choice, seeing as how the comedy works.  It might have been a missed opportunity in some places but then again, I often complain about when comedies get too serious, so I guess I’m being a little hypocritical here.  So, never mind; can’t have it both ways.  Anyway, to manage expectations, let me say that it’s not a gut-buster type of comedy, but rather a consistent-chuckle, down-to-earth style that doesn’t overreach and plays itself perfectly.

What I didn’t expect is the way the film toys with the audience and plays with their expectations and modern-day xenophobia.  Set in the Middle East, Tykwer knows what many American audiences presume the film will be and there are genuine moments of suspense.  I won’t say any more about those but I was surprised – and pleased – to see the way that these moments played out.  This is Tykwer’s film and it’s his story, not yours.

There likely isn’t enough uniqueness to Hologram to separate it from the pack and allow it to be remembered come awards season.  But it’s a nice little film and a worthy addition to Tom Hanks’s filmography.  It’s in limited release, now, but it will hopefully expand, soon.  If it does and you’re looking for a nice pick-me-up with strong acting and a witty script, I highly recommend it.  Tom Hanks delivers, yet again.

25. A Hologram for the King

24. Midnight Special

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Being a movie lover, I make an effort to see both mass-market, big-budget films and smaller, independent movies.  I, personally, would love to be able to see more low-budget independent films in the theater.  But it’s tough.  My local movie theater almost never gets them, so I’m usually required to drive an hour or more in order to see movies like Midnight Special.  Quite frankly, it’s a minor miracle that I’m able to see as many as I do.  Today, I drove nearly an hour-and-a-half to catch a double-feature of this one and my next entry.

Midnight Special has a bit of buzz going for it.  With superb word of mouth and a well-respected cast, this low-budget sci-fi film is being mentioned in the same breath as Close Encounters of the Third Kind.  I’ve been wanting to see it for a little while, now, and have finally managed to get the opportunity.

During the first half of the film, I thought I was going to be walking out and proclaiming it as my favorite of the year, so far.  It didn’t quite end up hitting that level, by the end, but it’s still a thoroughly enjoyable ride that was worth going out of my way to see.

The less the viewer knows before seeing Midnight Special, the better.  So, I’ll keep my thoughts vague.  The film has a way of presenting itself which is in direct opposition to some other films that I’ve seen recently.  Those films relied on the tell-don’t-show method and that is counterproductive to the art of filmmaking.  Thankfully, Midnight Special shows rather than tells.

The film picks up in the middle of the story and fills the audience in as it goes.  Now, admittedly, we are told rather than shown some of the past events.  But anything that occurs during the timeframe of the film is presented directly to us, whereas any past events or character points we need to be aware of are delivered in a natural, organic way.  There are no scenes filled with forced, exposition-laden dialogue like it’s a DC TV show.  These characters are written with respect and the audience is treated in the same way.  (Speaking of DC, the boy in the film earns points with me for reading comics featuring Superman and Starfire – two of my favorite DC characters.  If someone else tells me their favorite comic character is Batman, I might just yawn in their face.)

Dropping the viewer into the middle of the story allows for the development of a mysterious element that wouldn’t have been possible if a more traditional structure had been employed.  This adds a lot to the film, replacing what might be lost in some casual audience member’s eyes due to the low budget.

As each reveal takes place and each twist unfolds, the tension rises, forcing the viewer to wonder what each character’s role really is and what everyone’s intentions are.

The steam runs out in the third act, just a bit, when the mystery just halts.  As with any mystery, there’s probably no way to end it that will satisfy everyone.  Nonetheless, it was appropriate to the tone of the film and to the characters and the drop in the energy that occurs in the last fifteen or twenty minutes is my only issue and the sole reason it doesn’t sit atop my list of 2016 films, so far.

Also, I understand the comparisons to Close Encounters.  I also felt a little bit of E.T. and some of The Sixth Sense in there as well.  It’s a soft-spoken, character-driven supernatural story that punctuates the nuances with intense moments of surprise, thereby providing a little bit of something for everyone.

I’m again reminded of all the people who complain that there is supposedly no originality in Hollywood and yet they rarely seem to have any interest in seeing a film like Midnight Special.  Put your money where your mouth is and check this one out it it’s anywhere near you.

24. Midnight Special

23. The Huntsman: Winter’s War

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I never saw Snow White and the Huntsman.  I didn’t avoid it, per se, but I wasn’t itching to see it, either.  Kristen Stewart just doesn’t do it for me.  I needed something extra to get me into the theater (or even on my couch) to see that particular film.  The Huntsman: Winter’s War has that extra element: Emily Blunt.

Emily Blunt is one of my favorite actors, today.  In addition to her obvious talent, she has always had a way of choosing quality projects.  I not only enjoy her performances but I always seem to enjoy the films that she’s in, as a whole.  (Did you see Edge of Tomorrow?  You should see Edge of Tomorrow.)  Project selection is important (another expert in that field: Leonardo DiCaprio).  So, when I learned that she was in this movie, I knew I’d be seeing it.

Color me relieved when I discovered it was a prequel and I didn’t need to see the first film (as I had intended on doing) in order to follow this one.  Now, I knew I could go in and enjoy this amazing cast (Chastain, Hemsworth, and Theron are all also top-tier talents) and hopefully the movie, too, without having to watch a Kristen Stewart “performance”.

Or, at least, I thought it was a prequel.  It certainly starts out that way.  Then, it jumps forward and turns into a sequel.  But it was okay!  And it was okay for two reasons: 1. Still no Kristen Stewart and 2. Narrator Liam Neeson filled me in on what little I needed to know.  Thank you, Liam Neeson!  Just to show my appreciation, I’m sending a box of Trix your way.

Anyway, I was expecting this to be a similar experience to the one I had when I saw Criminal, when I liked the cast but disliked the movie, itself.  Nope!  For me, The Huntsman: Winter’s War was the first big pleasant surprise of 2016.

I will say that the pacing is a little slow, but not dreadfully so.  And, as usual, it’s not perfect.  Some events occur just because they need to happen, with no explanation or reasoning given for them, whatsoever.  This isn’t a plague upon the film, but it happens a few times – particularly at the beginning of the film.  And the Magic Mirror is really just a giant gold dish with moderate reflective properties.  But whatever.  It’s magic; it does its thing when it needs to.  And as for the unexplained events, they could be explained; they just aren’t.  So, these things didn’t bother me too much.

The special effects are okay.  They aren’t top-notch at all times and I can’t really figure out where they sunk all 115 million of their dollars.  But, they’re good enough, in most cases, and the action scenes are fun.

As expected, the cast delivers.  Unlike the aforementioned Criminal, they each get their time to shine and exhibit why they’re all so highly sought after.  Theron is deliciously evil, Blunt gets to exercise her entire range, Chastain finally gets to let her heroic side out (and she rocks a killer brogue accent), and Hemsworth turns on the charm.  Zero complaints here.

The biggest surprise is how funny the movie is.  It isn’t a comedy, but there are some lighter moments and they absolutely land, virtually every time.  Hemsworth has already exhibited smooth comedic timing as Thor but he gets more opportunity to show that side of himself, here.  And the dwarves nearly steal almost every scene they’re in.  The humor added a lot to the movie for me and made sure I didn’t zone out during the slower moments.

I can say this: regardless of professional reviews, the audience I saw this film with was absolutely having a good time.  They laughed at the right moments, ooh-ed at the appropriate times, and sat quietly paying attention for the duration of the film.  They had fun.  And so did I.

The Huntsman: Winter’s War is refreshing in the sense that it exists solely to entertain.  It’s not making any sort of statement, it’s not getting political or trying to be smarter than it needs to be.  It just has fun and wants you to come along.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  Variety is important and movies are ultimately made to be entertaining above all else.

I was also surprised by the audience.  Firstly, it was much more crowded than I expected it to be.  We might be looking at a respectable weekend number, here.  Secondly, it attracted all four quadrants equally: men, women, young, and old.  They were all there at my screening and they were all enjoying themselves.

And I’m glad.  I’m finding myself rooting for this one to at least make a tidy profit.  It has heart and it feels like a lot of love was put into it.  That matters more than anything.  So, I’m happy to say that Emily Blunt still has yet to let me down!  Looking forward to her next one!

23. The Huntsman: Winter’s War

22. The Boss

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Real life alert!  This was supposed to be my twentieth movie of the year.  I had planned on seeing this last Monday after work but then I heard a clunking sound coming from the undercarriage of my car and I had to go to the service station, instead.  Then, Friday’s show times didn’t work as well with my schedule so my twentieth film ended up being Criminal.  I had to travel to see The Jungle Book in IMAX, so I needed Saturday for that one.  As a result, this one got pushed back again until I finally got around to seeing it, today.

Other than loving 2015’s Spy, I went into The Boss with no particular preconceived notions of what to expect.  Comedies are very hit-or-miss and I’ve liked Melissa McCarthy’s performances in other films but I wouldn’t say I’m a diehard fan who rushes out to see anything she’s in.  Kristen Bell is much the same way for me.  I like her, but not all of her movies.  But, as I mentioned, McCarthy’s Spy was a fun, clever, and all-around fantastic action/comedy and Bell has my all-time favorite comedy Forgetting Sarah Marshall on her resume (I also thought You Again was very underrated), so I went in feeling more optimism than pessimism.  And this is despite the generally wretched reviews.  I’ve learned to mostly ignore reviews for both comedies and horror films as critics (and general audiences, to be honest) often go into those two types of films not wanting to hurt their own self-perceived credibility by admitting that they liked what they saw.  And many people are way too sensitive when it comes to comedies, failing to grasp the core idea that comedies aren’t typically trying to make political or social statements.  They’re trying to take you by surprise with something witty or shocking and are usually trying to get you to laugh at the characters and not with them.  This was the case earlier this year with Dirty Grandpa, which I liked pretty well, but others found too “offensive” or “crude”.  Well, yes, if you take it seriously.  But by definition, most comedies aren’t meant to be taken seriously and you enter into them without understanding that, you’re failing as an audience member.

I also went in knowing that Forbes’s Scott Mendelson, one professional movie critic whose opinion I respect (even if I don’t always agree), loved it, so that made me feel a little better.

I didn’t love it or hate it.  With a lighthearted movie, I basically just want to be amused for the duration of the runtime.  The more I laugh, the better, of course, but I don’t need to be guffawing for two hours straight.  And I was amused.  I enjoyed both McCarthy and Bell.  McCarthy has brilliant timing and delivery and she can make practically anything work.  I do, however, feel like she’s better used as a sympathetic figure.  Audiences love her and want to love her in every role she takes on.  When she plays a character who is largely unlikable (as she does here), there’s a strong chance that audiences will reject it and spend their money elsewhere.  So, I’m not too surprised that, after a strong opening weekend, The Boss took a steep fall in its second weekend.

McCarthy also co-wrote the script so, depending on your perspective, she either shares in the credit or the blame for that.  I have no major problems with the script, myself.  It isn’t as consistently solid or witty as Spy, by any means.  But I laughed at times and had a smile on my face during most of what I saw.  It does fall into a common comedy cliché of pausing for a few moments to attempt and inject some gravitas into the proceedings, often by forcing complexities into the characterizations.  I’ve seen that done well but, more often than not, I would prefer to just keep rolling with the funny business.  I don’t need depth in a film like The Boss.  It feels shoehorned and everyone would have just been better off without it.

Kristen Bell has fallen into being typecast as the straight . . . man? . . . woman?  Okay, she’s usually the person that others bounce the jokes off of.  She does that well, but she can also do comedy, herself.  I hope to see her get to do more of that in the future.  She’s very endearing on-screen and I always like to see her name on the cast list.

So, The Boss was a middle-of-the-road comedy for me.  Better than some (like Bell’s awful When in Rome) but nothing approaching a classic.  If you like McCarthy and/or Bell, go in with tempered expectations and you’ll probably be okay.

22. The Boss

21. The Jungle Book

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I grew up as a Disney kid.  My first crush was Cinderella.  Or maybe it was Smurfette?  It was one of those two.  Regardless, I remember being in shock that Cinderella would choose Prince Charming over little four-year-old me.  I’d like to think that she’d make a different decision, now that I’m a little older (another year older, today, in fact).  Regardless, between that movie and the standard household Disney names (Mickey, Donald, Goofy, and so on), I was hooked on Disney for life.  I’ve seen all of their Animated Classics and each of their live-action adaptations of those animated films that they have chosen to produce, so far.

Disappointingly, I haven’t been a huge fan of those live-action adaptations.  I was didn’t care for 101 Dalmatians.  I hated Maleficent.  I liked most of Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland but I absolutely loathed Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter.  He hijacked that film and he did so in the most absurd, annoying performance of his career.  Worst of all, I didn’t even like the adaptation of the One That Started It All: Cinderella.  It was competent (and I admittedly enjoyed Lucy Punch, as I always do) and it looked nice, but the script was so flat and bland that I was just waiting for it to end.  Lazy dialogue, no contemporary twists or surprises, unmotivated actors . . . it was paint-by-numbers Cinderella and I was immensely disappointed.

In addition to that, I have lost some faith in Jon Favreau, as well.  He’s a funny, talented guy, but his recent efforts haven’t exactly stimulated my imagination.  He jump-started the Marvel Cinematic Universe in a beautiful way with the original Iron Man and became a geek icon.  And then he came back with Iron Man 2, which was . . . well . . . basically Iron Man, again.  It was clear that he had only one concrete idea for that franchise: somebody steals Tony’s tech and uses it against him.  I remember when I went to the pre-Avengers marathon.  It was full of tried and true Marvel fans.  After the second movie, a guy near me got on his phone and during his conversation said, “We just finished The Incredible Hulk.  It was awesome but now we have to suffer through Iron Man 2″.  People laughed and while I thought that was a little harsh and I wouldn’t consider Iron Man 2 to be a “bad” movie, it easily holds the title of the least of the MCU entries, thus far.

After that, he directed Cowboys & Aliens.  That film fell with such a thud that I don’t even remember what it was about.  I remember that it was a waste of a great cast and that I was unflinchingly bored throughout the entire film.

So, the guy who gave us that first Iron Man film (as well as another beloved classic in Elf) wasn’t exactly on a hot streak.  Two unimpressive outings isn’t enough to declare a trend or that someone is losing their touch.  But it’s enough to lower one’s expectations for the next film.

Having said all of that, I thought the trailer for Jungle Book was one of the better trailers that has been released in the last year or so.  The world feels authentic, the animals come off appropriately (whether that be scary or endearing, depending on which one we were looking at), and Neel Sethi looks like Mowgli actually manifested and came to life like Holly in Cool World (let’s hear it for old-school Basinger, everybody!).

In other words, I sat down hopeful, but with realistic expectations.  I’m happy to say that I walked out more than happy with what I saw.

Favreau stays true to the original Disney version of Rudyard Kipling’s book but updates the story with more modern, progressive sensibilities and makes full use of the advantages that come with a big-budget live-action adaptation.  This is what Disney’s 2015 Cinderella completely failed to do.  And, as a result, it ended up as my biggest disappointment of the year.

In recent times, Disney’s animated version of The Jungle Book has come under (anachronistic and retroactive) criticism for having “racist” undertones due to two things: King Louie proclaiming that he “wanted to be like” Mowgli and the climax where Mowgli left his friends to rejoin the humans because everyone is “supposed to be with their own kind”.

This line of thinking is of course simplistic and reductive; a typical example of creating issues where there are none.  (It’s also, quite frankly, piss-poor film analysis.)  Disney in no way intended for that to be the interpretation of the original film.  And, for decades, it wasn’t.

In any case, Favreau and Disney took steps to ensure that the same accusations couldn’t be leveled at the 2016 version.  Firstly, they cast the whitest guy in Hollywood history, Christopher Walken, as King Louie.  Problem A: solved.  Then, they change the underlying theme from “be with your own kind” (which is admittedly questionable advice) to “be who you truly are”.  And that works much, much better.  Sorry, Social Justice Warriors with nothing important to do!  There’s nothing to see here!

The cast is impeccable.  I can’t go without mentioning Neel Sethi, in particular.  This is his very first role and, regardless of how long of a time his career continues on, it will likely remain his most difficult.  He had absolutely no one to bounce off of.  He spent the entirety of the shoot working against CGI characters.  I’m sure they played dialogue for him to respond to and did other things along those lines to help, but none of that is the same as having your other cast mates in front of you and being able to share the scene.  I was beyond impressed with his performance and I hope he gets some sort of recognition from industry professionals, somewhere down the line.

Without saying too much, I’m especially glad that Favreau decides to keep the most iconic parts of the original film and translate those over into live-action.  It would have been easy to argue for cutting those out, but he believes (or trussssssts) in them and I think it pays off immensely in the end.

Surprisingly, the film doesn’t pull any punches.  This isn’t a neutered version of this story, as it has weight and conveys a true sense of consequence.  Favreau doesn’t attempt to convince the kids in the audience that things work out well for everyone, all the time, no matter what.  I think it’s a bad idea to shield kids from reality, anyway, and movies like this can serve as an ice-breaker for parents to breach the tough stuff.  Don’t worry, though; the film is in no way graphic (it’s rated PG).  But it’s honest.

And it’s complex. Shere Khan is undeniably a villain, but his motivations completely make sense, and it’s easy to understand where he’s coming from, even if his reactionary methods are clearly wrong.  And, as Mowgli is pulled in different directions by various characters who all care for him, it’s a challenge because all of their motivations make sense, as well.  This is real.  This is honest.  This is life.  These characters – all but one of whom are anthropomorphic animals who are created inside a computer – are a million times more believable than almost every character in Criminal.  Don’t judge a film by its genre, folks.

If I have any complaint, it would be that I wish the color palette had been brighter.  Everything is slightly muted and – watching this in IMAX 3D – I craved that visual pop that I never really got.  Well, not “everything” is muted.  The “red flower” was bright and powerful, and my guess is that there is a desire for the “red flower” to stand out and carry extra weight, which is why everything else is a little less vivid.  But that’s a minor complaint.  The film was truly beautiful and Jon Favreau has never framed shots better than he does here.  The CGI animals look like real animals who happen to have the ability to speak and in no way resemble cartoonish caricatures.  They are real in body and in spirit and the film greatly benefits.

The Jungle Book is without question the best of Disney’s live-action adaptations, so far.  Granted, there isn’t much competition, but even if there was, The Jungle Book would be right in the hunt.  This is what I’ve always expected from Disney and known they were capable of.  It’s also what expect from them in the future (they have The Little Mermaid and, my favorite, Beauty and the Beast on the horizon).  Now, you have your own accomplishment to live up to!

Anyway, I had a much better time at the movies on my birthday than I did on the day before my birthday, that’s for sure.  So, thank you, Disney and Jon Favreau, for making my birthday just a little better!  I expect you to do it again, next year!

21. The Jungle Book

20. Criminal

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I typically love viewing experiences like this.  I went into Criminal with no idea regarding what I was about to watch, other than the general tone and genre as well as the amazing cast.  In fact, it was the cast that got me into the theater.  It’s hard to argue with Gary Oldman, Kevin Costner, Ryan Reynolds, and Tommy Lee Jones.  And after Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, who doesn’t want more Gal Gadot?  So, the promise of seeing all of these talents in one film was enough to get me into the theater on a Friday afternoon and mark the fifth-of-the-way mark on my March to 100.

I really hate being negative, though.  I look for the good in every movie I see.  And while there was a little good, here, there was only a “little” good.

The main issue is unquestionably the script.  I am not against movie characters not always being the most intelligent people.  Real people aren’t always smart, so not all fictional people should be, either.  But fictional people who should, by necessity, be smart should then naturally be written that way.  The police/C.I.A. in Criminal make Chief Wiggum and the Springfield P.D. look like Seal Team 6.  I’ve never seen such an incompetent group of law enforcement – real or fictional – and am proud to say that I would have been incapable of creating such a group, myself.  This includes Gary Oldman’s chief/lieutenant/whatever-he-was.  I don’t quite grasp why Oldman took this part.  (Come on, man, you were Jim Gordon, once!  Have some standards!)  In addition to that, he was just wasted, here, with no real moments or opportunity for him to do what he does so well.

It doesn’t end there.  The film goes for a Silence of the Lambs tone and vibe but that film had a constant energy flowing through it and the viewer always felt captivated by the story.  Criminal is a Lazy Sunday “thriller”.  There is no energy, no sense of excitement, and no urgency in almost any aspect of the movie.

The score by Keith Power and Brian Tyler doesn’t help matters.  Soft and methodical, the duo tries to create a sense of dread but only succeeds in creating a sense of serenity.  The film really needs them to deliver and it felt to me like they misread the intent of the entire package.

The dialogue tries to be funny at times and fails at every attempt.  How the viewer is supposed to feel comfortable laughing at the plight of the Reynolds/Costner duo, I can’t understand.  But the attempts are awkward, disorienting, and outright discomforting.

And Costner’s Jericho character is supposed to be a threatening maniac but – even when in his own right mind (so to speak) – he seems content to behave like a grownup Nelson Muntz (non-Simpsons fans might be lost reading this post.  Sorry about that.)  (Wait, no I’m not.  Why aren’t you a Simpsons fan?!).

As I mentioned, before, there is a little good and that lies within the cast.  Most of them feel bored and non-committal, but there are two standouts.  Firstly, Costner gives his all to his leading role as Jericho.  The character makes little-to-no sense, but that doesn’t stop him from doing his absolute best to make it work.  He sinks his teeth in and has a blast with it.

Secondly, Gal Gadot just shines, even when given little to do.  After her similarly scene-stealing role in the aforementioned Batman v Superman, I’m coming to believe that scene-stealing is just what she does, even when she doesn’t intend to.  She’s a walking ECP – electrocharismatic pulse.  She sadly is stuck in need of a rescue for half of her time in this film, but her character isn’t without fight or spunkiness, so it’s not a total loss.

And that’s it.  Costner and Gadot were the only aspects of this film that I enjoyed.  I really hate that, too.  I know people worked hard on this movie, as is the case with every movie.  I feel like I’m being dismissive of those efforts and their talents, which is not my intent.  But this particular project simply didn’t work.  Somebody should have learned from Itchy and Scratchy and Poochy and figured it out before it was too late (and there’s the hat trick!).

Notable audience members:

I was literally the only person watching this movie who was under the age of 75.  The only one.  I guess it really appeals to the geriatric Crime Porn demographic.  Also, the guy three seats to my right kept burping.  Gross, but still better than texting.

20. Criminal