Mini Reviews: October 10
Below are the Mini Reviews from Cineman Syndicate for three movies opening on October 10, 2008.
BODY OF LIES. Ridley Scott expends lots of energy underscoring the startling notion that intelligence work entails deception and spies are a mendacious lot. He takes it a step further by arguing hawkish American spooks (Russell Crowe) comfortably ensconced in suburban Virginia are the biggest liars of all. Of course, anyone would look like a clueless reactionary next to Ferris of Arabia (DiCaprio), the CIA's man on the ground in Iraq and then Jordan. Scott knows how to stage action sequences and his two leads are solid. There's just not much being said. When it comes to novel ideas, everyone gets left out in the cold. (R) FAIR THRILLER. Director - Ridley Scott; Lead -Leonardo DiCaprio; Running Time - 126 minutes. Capsule review by John P. McCarthy.
THE EXPRESS. As subjects for inspirational gridiron flicks go, the story of Ernie Davis is hard to beat. Known as "The Elmira Express," he was the first African-American to win college football's Heisman Trophy, earning the honor at Syracuse in 1961 under the tutelage of Coach Ben Schwarzwalder (Dennis Quaid), who was coming off four testy seasons with the legendary Jim Brown in the Orangmen's backfield. The polished picture adopts a conservative game plan, running right up the middle on every play, stubbornly refusing to take chances and try the unexpected. Davis' legacy has been duly recorded but scores no points for probity or derring-do. (PG) FAIR SPORTS DRAMA. Director - Gary Fleder; Lead - Rob Brown; Running Time - 129 minutes. Capsule review by John P. McCarthy.
ROCKNROLLA. Guy Ritchie dips into the cockney crime well for a third time following Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch. Perhaps inevitably, the denizens of his now-familiar London underworld milieu seem second-string, even though the writer/director has recruited some new faces (Gerard Butler, Thandie Newton, and Tom Wilkinson) and also added (and then unceremoniously dropped) a Russian billionaire to the twisting plot. Still, there are some nifty turns of phrase and the soundtrack, where much of the dynamism has migrated, is pretty boss. One bloke explains how "It's all about the details," a line Ritchie must have interpreted as a license to repeat himself. (R) FAIR CRIME COMEDY-DRAMA. Director - Guy Ritchie; Lead - Gerard Butler; Running Time - 117 minutes. Capsule review by John P. McCarthy.
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(Photo: John P. McCarthy, editor of Cineman Syndicate LLC.)