By Shane Sellar
The worst thing about whistleblowing is that it tells everyone you just finked on your exact location.
And while the informant in this thriller doesn’t directly toot a horn, he does squeal.
A failed soldier and amateur computer-hacker Edward Snowden (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) finds work with the CIA – later NSA – where he’s tasked with conducting cyber-espionage on foreign governments, terrorist cells and the public.
Eventually his unease over the ethics of his actions causes him to release top-secret files to the press. This decision ultimately threatens his girlfriend’s (Shailene Woodley) and his own safety.
This composite of separate Snowden biographies recaps the folk-hero’s journey in a surprisingly subdued style, atypical of its director Oliver Stone, but it remains serviceable on account of its unbelievable facts concerning counter-surveillance and Gordon-Levitt’s bizarre intonation.
On the bright side, if you ever forget any of your online passwords the government can always help.
The Magnificent Seven
Typically, when you unite seven cowboys you get a humdinger of a cowboy choir.
But, in the case of this western you get a posse of hired killers.
When a bloodthirsty businessman (Peter Sarsgaard) arrives in town with his armed associates looking to exploit the settlement’s mining operation, a recent widow (Haley Bennett) seeks out assistance.
She eventually convinces a warrant officer (Denzel Washington) to help, and he recruits six more to join the resistance, including an explosive expert (Chris Pratt), a sharpshooter (Ethan Hawke) and a tracker (Vincent D’Onofrio).
While preparing the townsfolk for battle, each gunslinger struggles with demons.
A well-acted redesign of John Sturges’ 1960 reimagining of Akira Kurosawa’s 1954 Seven Samurai, this 2016 upgrade is more or less a predictable replica of its predecessors but with less pathos and more violence.
Plus, the best way to deter unwanted cowboys is to dress the cacti as prostitutes.
Any landing that you can walk away from is one that you can later sue the airline over.
Fortunately, the survivors in this drama are likely looking at a class action.
Forced to crash-land his plane on the Hudson River after both engines disengage, Captain Chesley Sullenberger (Tom Hanks) and his co-pilot Jeffrey Skiles (Aaron Eckhart) later face the good and bad repercussions of those action.
A hero to the public, a suspect to his superiors and a PTSD sufferer to himself, Sully challenges the flight simulator that deemed his motives pilot error in order to save his reputation.
An in-depth and insightful look at the reluctant hero’s post-crash world, this Clint Eastwood-helmed biography based on Sully’s own book is a captivating account of that ill-fated day with an award worthy performance from Hanks.
Incidentally, all of the corpses recovered from the Hudson that day were preexisting.
The key to winning at Roman chariot racing is distracting the officials with underage boys.
Unfortunately, the competitor in this historical drama doesn’t even have that.
Ben-Hur (Jack Huston) takes the rap for an assassination attempt on Jerusalem’s new Roman representative Pontius Pilate (Pilou Asbæk) and ends up rowing on a galley until it’s destroyed in battle.
Newly exonerated, Ben-Hur is taken in by a sheik (Morgan Freeman) and taught how to race chariots. He eventually uses those skills to compete against his former friend and betrayer (Toby Kebbell), who sent his family away to live amongst the lepers.
Lacking a qualified actor to portray the resilient Jew and a director able to expound the parable’s virtue beyond its climactic race, this latest effects-laden adaptation of Lew Wallace’s biblical bestseller can’t even be redeemed by its obligatory JC cameo.
Moreover, Roman chariot races got really creepy after Caligula took over.
When assembling a team of suicidal soldiers always ensure they wear parachutes when freefalling into a mission.
Oddly, the miserable crew in this action movie is more inclined to kill others.
When an ancient evil (Cara Delevingne) transforms the inhabitants of Midway City into ferocious monstrosities, military high-up Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) orders the formation of an elite taskforce of super criminals.
Under the authority of Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman), and the control of explosive body-implants, marksman Deadshot (Will Smith), psychopath Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) and others (Jai Courtney, Jay Hernandez, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) are dispatched to defeat the threat.
A hodgepodge of hokey fantasy, low-rent super-powers and innumerable shootouts, DC’s film adaptation of its obscure comic book is yet another misfire from the company’s second-rate canon. And while Robbie does embody Harley, her performance is reduced to eye-candy.
Ironically, most soldiers who do see military action end up suicidal.
The best thing about odd-looking children is never having to worry about them being kidnapped.
The weirdoes in this fantasy are doubly safe as they also reside inside of a time loop.
Obsessed with visiting the magical institution his grandfather (Terence Stamp) told him of, Jake (Asa Butterfield) travels to England.
Not only does he eventually find it tucked away in time, but becomes well acquainted with the shape shifting headmistress (Eva Green) and her extraordinary students, like lighter-than-air Emma (Ella Purnell) or the invisible boy and strong girl, as well as their enemy (Samuel L. Jackson) who desires their eyeballs.
Tim Burton’s adaptation of the YA novel, this dark and dreary adventure is suited to the director’s morose palate. However, the overall story is pretty straightforward and the quirky characters are kind of stock and forgettable.
Incidentally, these exceptional children could make good wages as extras in X-Men movies.
The best part about having a baby when you are old is that you can share diapers.
Mind you, the mature mother in this rom-com can still control her bodily functions.
Bumbling Brit Bridget Jones (Renée Zellweger) manages to get knocked up on her 43rd birthday. Worse, she doesn’t know if the father is her recently divorced ex-boyfriend (Colin Firth), or the dating website magnate (Patrick Dempsey) she copulated with at the music festival.
Telling the would-be candidates while forgoing the paternity tests, Bridget breeds a rivalry between the men, which she fosters until the very end.
The anticipated third entry in the film adaptation of the beloved book series, this second sequel delivers a more familiar Bridget than the previous instalment. Less animated and more grounded, fervent fans will rejoice Bridget’s return to recklessness.
Besides, whoever can afford to send the kid to boarding school should be the dad.
The hardest part of being in the opera nowadays is convincing people that the opera still exists.
Fortunately, the diva in this dramedy lives in an era when it actually thrived.
With all the aspirations of an operatic soloist but none of the vocal talent, socialite Florence Foster Jenkins (Meryl Streep) unknowingly relies on her younger husband, St. Clair Bayfield (Hugh Grant), to grease the palms of her adoring audience beforehand.
Florence’s flaws are duly noted by her new accompanist Cosmé McMoon (Simon Helberg), who is not only baffled by St. Clair’s actions, but also the audience’s admiration over her atrocious arias.
While the fact-based script vacillates between solemn biography and comical musical with varying results, there is no mistaking the magic of Streep’s remarkable turn as the world’s worst opera singer.
Moreover, how can you call yourself an opera singer when you can still stand under your own weight?
Finding a friendly giant is a rare feat; so make sure you safely capture it for financial gains.
Unfortunately, the orphan in this fantasy is the one who ends up being caught.
Nabbed in the middle of the night by the Big Friendly Giant (Mark Rylance) after she spots him scavenging London’s streets, Sophie (Ruby Barnhill) is carried off to Giant Country.
There she learns of a band of man-eating behemoths and devises a nightmare to send to the slumbering Queen of England (Penelope Wilton) to coax her into action against these monsters.
While it excels at setting a whimsical atmosphere and delivering astonishing special effects, Steven Spielberg’s animated live-action adaptation of Roald Dahl’s beloved children’s book, unfortunately, not only star’s one of the most annoying CGI characters, but is boring to boot.
Moreover, the Queen would only send British troops to Giant Country if she wanted to colonize it.
If our pets had secret lives than high-end pet food retailers would already be exploiting that market.
Nevertheless, this animated adventure maintains this clandestine claim.
When his owner adopts a mutt (Eric Stonestreet), Max (Louis C.K.) wants nothing more than to remove the mongrel from his home.
But while attempting to ditch him the pair become embroiled in a string of altercations involving Animal Control, a gang of unwanted pets and a plot to wipe out humanity implemented by a tyrannical rabbit (Kevin Hart).
Lacking the laughs and emotional oomph of the more prominent cartoon creations, this 3-D computer animated Indy tries to emulate all of the big studio earmarks – celebrity voices, maudlin moments and pop music medleys – but fails to reach any real consistency that makes you care about these critters.
Incidentally, the only pets with real secret lives are those currently active on the dog fighting circuit.
The hardest part of keeping a secret is getting all those people you told to keep quiet.
Wisely, the secret agent in this action movie has had amnesia up until now.
With the fog around his mind finally lifted, ex-CIA assassin and wanted man Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) finally resurfaces when an old friend (Julia Stiles) brings him Intel on his father – the architect of the clandestine Treadstone program.
Standing in the way of the truth, however, are privacy hackers, the new director of the CIA (Tommy Lee Jones) and a rival gunman (Vincent Cassel) looking to settle an old score.
The fifth in the series but fourth to feature Damon, this overdue sequel doesn’t live up to expectations. Sure the action sequences are on point, but Damon’s droopy demeanour and minimal dialogue have run their course.
Furthermore, it seems the only successful assassination technique the CIA has is old age.
He’s a Conniption Fitbit. He’s the…