THE HITMAN'S BODYGUARD. For those who would have assumed — not unreasonably — that the buddy action comedy had become a relic, a memory of two and half decades past, here is this. It's doubtful it will spur a resurgence of that erstwhile genre, enjoyable and disposable as it may have been. But The Hitman's Bodyguard calls back pleasantly to a bygone era of wanton gunplay, witty, gritty ripostes and villains whose motives need not be justifiable in the least.
We are first introduced to Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds), among the world's foremost executive protection agents (he will quickly and often mention his "triple-A rating"), as he and his team seamlessly complete an assignment, or so it would seem. Having successfully and safely conveyed the high-value asset to his private jet, Bryce relaxes into smug certitude. But his face falls when the job spins out, taking his career and prized rating with it.
Two years later, Bryce rattles around the bottom of the European sector of his industry, picking up what little work he can. He blames his Interpol-agent ex-girlfriend Amelia Roussel (Elodie Yung) for his fall, cloaking his broken heart in puffed-up resentment. While Bryce sulks and babysits coked-up lawyers, though, Roussel is tasked with transporting infamous contract killer Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson) to the Hague, where he is expected to give damning testimony against deposed Belarusian dictator Vladislav Dukhovich (Gary Oldman). When the transport convoy is brutally attacked, revealing an obvious internal security breach, Roussel calls on Bryce to ensure Kincaid's safe passage. Of course, the two men have a history of trying to kill one another, so the ensuing road trip proves complicated.
The script (by Tom O'Connor) here is pretty boiler-plate stuff and would feel like a throwback to early post-Cold War paranoia, if not for the fact that, geopolitically, we seem to be moving irredeemably back that way. Director Patrick Hughes (The Expendables 3, 2014, so I guess he knows something about cinematic relics) handles the action with precision, if not any especially exciting new technique. Oldman's despot seethes with classic Balkan despot ego and rage. Reynolds and Jackson carry the affair with the strength of their collective charisma and sharp repartee. Salma Hayek is a delight as Kincaid's vicious, hilarious wife Sonia. The Hitman's Bodyguard contains adequate action and consistent enough jokes to entertain throughout, even if it doesn't contribute anything of substance to the greater cultural conversation. Sometimes, that's more than enough. PG. 91m. BROADWAY, FORTUNA, MILL CREEK.
LOGAN LUCKY. It was a tempered disappointment when Steven Soderbergh announced, however long ago it was, that he would no longer direct features for theatrical distribution. Disappointing, of course, because he has proven time and again to be one the legitimate and fascinating lights of modern American cinema. Ever the experimenter, Soderbergh has enjoyed both critical and commercial success in no small measure, and has built a body of work that eschews repetition and evinces an expansive and abiding love of movies.
The biggest bummer of his retirement announcement might have been that he was on a hot streak: Haywire (2011), Magic Mike (2012) and Side Effects (2013) each subvert genre and show the hand of a master at the peak of his powers. I say that disappointment was tempered because Soderbergh has proven himself a slippery one: He frequently uses aliases in his credits, plays pranks on set and, fortunately, can't be held to his word when it comes to things like quitting. And so he has come roaring back with Logan Lucky, an entirely appropriate addition to his recent canon and one of the most entertaining, artfully and precisely assembled movies of the year.
Jimmy Logan (Channing Tatum, who seems to have become the director's muse), of West Virginia, a divorced father and former high school football golden boy, finds himself out of work. His brother Clyde (Adam Driver), a two-tour Iraq War veteran who lost his left hand to a roadside bomb, pours drinks at a shitkicker bar and fosters his particular quiet brand of rage. When Jimmy's ex-wife Bobbie Jo Chapman (Katie Holmes) suggests that she and her new husband will be moving away, with Jimmy and Bobbie Jo's daughter Sadie (Farrah Mackenzie) in tow, Jimmy is motivated to make some money. Drawing on his recent experience repairing sink holes beneath Charlotte Motor Speedway, he enlists Clyde, sister Mellie (Riley Keough), eccentric demolitions expert and current guest of the state Joe Bang (Daniel Craig) and his dull-eyed brothers to execute an intricately planned heist at said motor speedway. A ridiculous, preening NASCAR team owner (Seth MacFarlane) and his fastidious driver (Sebastian Stan) are drawn into the affair, largely by happenstance.
Written by the assumed-to-be-fictitious Rebecca Blunt, Logan Lucky thrums along with delightful swamp-rock energy, infused with the crooked-smile humor and humanity that have largely defined Soderbergh's late-period work. It is gorgeous, clever, big-hearted and greatly entertaining from first frame to last. A discussion of its contribution to the great body of Heist Cinema will have to be saved for another day; suffice it to say there are twists and turns and cliffhangers aplenty. But Soderbergh so closely controls the material here that the exposition never feels gratuitous, the spooling out of the mechanics of the heist deliberate and brisk; the information we receive comes consistently as a pleasant surprise. Logan Lucky marries craft with entertainment and is a goddamned delight. PG13. 119m. BROADWAY.
— John J. Bennett
For showtimes, see the Journal's listings at www.northcoastjournal.com or call: Broadway Cinema 443-3456; Fortuna Theatre 725-2121; Mill Creek Cinema 839-3456; Minor Theatre 822-3456; Richards' Goat Miniplex 630-5000.
BIRTH OF THE DRAGON. Based on the legend of pre-stardom Bruce Lee's (Philip Ng) San Francisco throwdown with Shaolin master Wong Jack Man (Yu Xia). You'd better stretch. PG13. 100m. BROADWAY.
GOOD TIME. This title seems misleading. Robert Pattison plays a bank robber trying, in one frantic night, to raise enough cash to spring his brother from Riker's Island. R. 100m. BROADWAY.
LEAP! Elle Fanning voices a would-be ballerina who runs away from her orphanage and sneaks into the Paris Opera in this animated dance off. PG13. 100m. BROADWAY, FORTUNA, MILL CREEK.
WIND RIVER. Thriller starring Elizabeth Olsen as an FBI agent teaming up with a hunter (Jeremy Renner) to solve a murder on snowbound reservation. With Graham Greene. R. 107m. BROADWAY, FORTUNA, MILL CREEK, MINOR.
AIRPLANE (1980). Lloyd Bridges and Leslie Nielsen get into crash position. PG. 88m. BROADWAY.
ANNABELLE: CREATION. Writer Gary Dauberman and director David F. Sandberg give the Conjuring universe a taut, well-realized creepy doll origin story that's scary and fun, even if its moment has passed. R. 109m. BROADWAY, FORTUNA, MILL CREEK.
ATOMIC BLONDE. Stuntman-turned-director David Leitch brings Cold War cool, exceptional fight choreography and a quieter, better paced spy movie than the trailer suggests. Charlize Theron delivers a winking, knife-edged performance. R. 109m. BROADWAY.
THE BIG SICK. Kumail Nanjiani and Zoe Kazan star in a romantic comedy that breaks new ground as boy meets girl and girl goes into coma. Michael Showalter directs this deceptively simple, unassuming movie in which the deeply funny is juxtaposed with the devastating. R. 120mM. MINOR.
BRIGSBY BEAR. Kyle Mooney, Mark Hamill and Jane Adams star in a film about a young man who grows up in isolation and, struggling to adjust to the outside world, searches for his favorite children's show character. PG13. 100m. MINOR.
CITY OF GHOSTS. Documentary about activist citizen journalists and their underground resistance against ISIS. Directed by Matthew Heineman. R. 92m. MINIPLEX.
THE DARK TOWER. In this skimming adaptation of a Stephen King novel about a battle for the universe, Idris Elba's glowering intensity and quiet grief almost carry the dull exposition. And Matthew McConaughey, as a runway strutting villain, is likely having a better time than the audience. PG13. 95m. BROADWAY, FORTUNA, MILL CREEK.
DESPICABLE ME 3. An out of work Gru (Steve Carell) returns to a life of crime, meets his long-lost twin and battles a villain stuck in the '80s (Trey Parker). With Kristen Wiig. PG. 156m. MILL CREEK.
DUNKIRK. Christopher Nolan's focused and intimate telling of this World War II story of pinned troops, outnumbered airmen and hail-Mary civilian rescue effort brings each character to life with the wave-action of hope and hopelessness. PG13. 106m. BROADWAY, MILL CREEK.
ENDLESS POETRY. Chilean filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky's auto-biopic about joining the bohemian scene in his youth during the 1940s. NR. 128m. MINIPLEX.
THE GLASS CASTLE. A big-hearted, well-acted, unpretentious examination of family life in hard times based on Jeannete Walls' memoir. With strong performances by Brie Larson and Woody Harrelson. PG13. 127m. BROADWAY.
LANDLINE. Sisters (Jenny Slate, Abby Quinn) come to grips with their messy lives and their father's affair in 1990s New York. R. 97m. MINIPLEX.
THE NUT JOB 2: NUTTY BY NATURE. Squirrely sequel about animals trying to save their park. Voiced by Will Arnett, Katherine Heigl, Maya Rudolph and Jackie Chan. PG. 91m. BROADWAY, FORTUNA, MILL CREEK.
SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING. Co-writer/director Jon Watts (Clown, 2014; Cop Car, 2015) makes good on a tremendous opportunity here, utilizing a talented cast to great effect and bringing the franchise back to its sweetspot. PG13. 133m. BROADWAY, MILL CREEK.
STEP. Documentary about a high school girls' step dance team in Baltimore. We may have gotten emotional over the preview. Shut up. R. 92m. MINOR.
WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES. Caser (Andy Serkis) sets out on a quest of vengeance after the apes are pulled into war with a ruthless colonel (Woody Harrelson). PG13. 150m. BROADWAY.
— Jennifer Fumiko Cahill