Mystery

[7.0] Ron Howard (A Beautiful Mind, Frost/Nixon) directs this crime thriller about a wealthy businessman (Mel Gibson) whose young son is kidnapped and held for ransom. With the boy’s life hanging in the balance, Gibson must decide whether to take the FBI’s advice or go with his gut on the best way to see his son alive again. Ransom moves briskly and offers a few …

[5.0] Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker, Strange Days) co-writes and directs this female cop thriller starring Jamie Lee Curtis. Curtis plays a new cop on the New York streets who shoots a grocery store bandit to death. The film takes a bonkers turn when one of the witnesses hides the bad guy’s gun and starts killing innocent citizens with it. The bullets he uses have …

[2.0] Dennis Quaid stars in this remake of a 1949 thriller about a literature professor who has 24 hours to live, and he spends that time trying to figure out who poisoned him and why. I like Dennis Quaid a lot, but nothing can save this movie from the fact that it was made by pretentious film school hacks with an absurdly improbable screenplay. Quaid’s …

[5.0] A masked killer stalks four teenagers at the prom, six years after they accidentally killed a fellow classmate. Prom Night is part of the slasher boom of the late ’70s and early ’80s. Jamie Lee Curtis stars as the sister of the killed classmate. Leslie Nielsen also appears as her father. Neither of their talents are put to especially good use here, though. The …

[6.0] Elitist liberals hunt and kill redneck conservatives in this satiric take on The Most Dangerous Game. Betty Gilpin heads up the cast as our hunted protagonist (the horror genre’s ‘final girl’, if you will), while two-time Oscar winner Hillary Swank leads our pack of villainous hunters. Gilpin’s droll, reticent, but kick-ass performance reminds me of an old Clint Eastwood anti-hero. We never quite know …

[8.5] With this reinvention of Universal’s classic monster movie, writer/director Leigh Whannell (Saw, Dead Silence) delivers a superbly crafted thriller anchored by a compelling performance from Elisabeth Moss (The Handmaid’s Tale). Moss plays a battered woman who escapes her all-controlling boyfriend only to learn that he has taken his own life. She grows suspicious about his death when a strange presence begins to haunt her. …

[8.5] I think one of the hardest stories to tell is a good murder mystery story. That’s why we see so few of them turned into movies. Rian Johnson’s (The Last Jedi, Looper) Knives Out is a beguiling blend of classic and farce, reminding me at times of both Clue and Murder on the Orient Express. Remarkably, its dark comedy never undercuts its dramatic tension. …

[8.0] Ewan McGregor stars as the grown-up version of Danny Torrance from The Shining. Doctor Sleep is a sequel to that horror classic, both films based on books by the premiere horror writer of our time — Stephen King. Danny is known as ‘Doctor Sleep’ by patients of a hospice facility, where he uses his ‘shining’ ability to provide comfort to people as they transition …

[7.0] The impending apocalypse of Terminator and Terminator 2 Judgment Day was averted, but you can’t stop technological ‘progress’. Enter Terminator: Dark Fate, a direct sequel to the second film (ignoring two or three films in-between) that sets up a new cataclysmic countdown to doomsday, a new victim that needs saving, and a new savior sent from the future to protect tomorrow’s inspirational resistance leader. …

[8.0] On its surface, Joker is an origin story about Batman’s arch-nemesis. So at first glance, you might mistake it for ‘just another superhero’ movie. But writer/director Todd Phillips and actor Joaquin Phoenix have actually made a film that transcends the comic book genre. Joker works as a disturbing character study, an all-too timely allegory, and a provocative meditation on a theme — something we …

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