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Kim Yoon-seok and Jo In-sung try to extricate themselves from a war zone in "Escape From Mogadishu." Courtesy Well Go USA

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Escape From Mogadishu (NR) The title doesn’t sound like it belongs to a Korean film, but the movie dramatizes the real-life ordeal over two weeks of 1991 and 1992, when the country of Somalia collapsed into civil war and South Korean diplomats not only had to extract themselves from the war-torn nation but also North Korean embassy workers who had taken refuge with them. Director Ryoo Seung-wan (The Berlin File, Veteran) is an experienced hand with action thrillers, and he executes a dazzling tracking shot through four cars containing diplomats as they make a climactic dash through gunfire toward the Italian embassy. The message about the brotherhood between the two Koreas in the worst of times will necessarily mean more to audiences from there, but the director turns this into an effective thriller. Starring Kim Yoon-seok, Jo In-sung, Huh Joon-ho, Koo Kyo-hwan, Kim So-jin, Jung Man–shik, and Kim Jae-hwa. (Opens Friday at AMC Grapevine Mills)

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John and the Hole (R) Charlie Shotwell stars in this psychological thriller as a teenager who, for unknown reasons, holds his family prisoner in a hole. Also with Michael C. Hall, Jennifer Ehle, Taissa Farmiga, and Tamara Hickey. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

Nine Days (R) This philosophical drama stars Winston Duke as a man in the next world who interviews souls to determine whether they should be born on Earth. Also with Zazie Beetz, Benedict Wong, Tony Hale, Arianna Ortiz, and Bill Skarsgård. (Opens Friday at AMC Grapevine Mills)

Notorious Nick (PG-13) Cody Christian stars in this sports bio as Nick Newell, a one-armed MMA fighter who struggles to win a title. Also with Elisabeth Röhm, Kevin Pollak, Barry Livingston, and Samuel Evan Horowitz. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

Sabaya (NR) Hogir Hirori’s documentary follows the efforts of a group of Syrian women to save sex slaves held captive by ISIS. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

She Ball (NR) Nick Cannon stars in and directs this drama as a man who runs a women’s street basketball league. Also with Rebecca DeMornay, Marla Gibbs, Faizon Love, Luenell, Evan Ross, Chris Brown, and Cedric the Entertainer. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

6:45 (R) Craig Singer’s supernatural thriller stars Bobby Reed as a man forced to repeatedly relive the last 24 hours in his and his fiancée’s life. Also with Augie Duke, Thomas G. Waites, Armen Garo, Allie Marshall, Sasha K. Gordon, Remy Ma, and Sabrina Friedman-Seitz. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

 

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Black Widow (PG-13) The film doesn’t bring much closure to the story of Scarlett Johansson’s character, and it feels like Marvel never appreciated her. Even so, this thriller works well on its own. The film delves into Natasha Romanoff’s backstory and sees her reunite the members of her fake family of Soviet agents (Florence Pugh, Rachel Weisz, and David Harbour) to liberate an army of brainwashed assassins from the control of a Russian general (Ray Winstone). The idea of a male villain who can rob women of their ability to consent is a tantalizing idea that goes unexplored, as does Natasha’s past as a minion of evil. The better parts of the film are the ones dealing with the family getting back together, with a scene-stealing and hilarious turn by Pugh. Australian director Cate Shortland (Lore) assimilates well into the Marvel house style, too. If this doesn’t fit well into the Marvel canon, it’s still proudly female and the best blockbuster of the summer. That’s not nothing. Also with Olga Kurylenko, O-T Fagbenle, Ever Anderson, Violet McGraw, William Hurt, and an uncredited Julia Louis-Dreyfus.

The Boss Baby: Family Business (PG) This is seriously just insulting. The filmmakers acknowledge that the original 2017 animated film didn’t make any sense and wasn’t funny, then they throw the exact same lazy crap at us as the last time. The Templeton brothers (voiced by Alec Baldwin and James Marsden) are now grown-up and estranged from each other when Tim’s kids inform them that they need to take a magic potion so they can temporarily turn back into babies and infiltrate an evil corporation run by a bad baby (voiced by Jeff Goldblum). Plot developments and action sequences are thrown at us with zero regard for logic or continuity. Additional voices by Eva Longoria, Amy Sedaris, Ariana Greenblatt, James McGrath, Jimmy Kimmel, and Lisa Kudrow.

The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It (R) The filmmakers lose the plot something serious here. The horror series veers into third-rate courtroom drama as Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) try to prove demonic possession when a young man (Ruairi O’Connor) murders his boss and claims to have mistaken him for a demon. The big tracking shots by director Michael Chaves (who did the bad, English-language movie about La Llorona) are just empty stylistic flourishes here, and the attempts to hang the series on Ed and Lorraine’s matrimonial bond are limp at best. None of this would matter much if the movie had some effective scares, but this one trots out the same oogie-boogeymen (and women) as the previous films. Also with Sarah Catherine Hook, Julian Hilliard, Ronnie Gene Blevins, John Noble, and Eugenie Bondurant. 

Cruella (PG-13) Emma Stone goes into high camp mode, and I’m so here for it. This origin story for the 101 Dalmatians villain follows her from her childhood in 1960s England to her rise to prominence in the face of a tyrannical fashion designer boss (Emma Thompson). The filmmakers are clearly immersed in fashion, Jenny Beavan’s costumes nicely merge traditional looks with a more punk-rock design, and the film shows its protagonist always working at her craft. The main character establishes Cruella de Vil as a supervillain alter ego to strike back at her boss, and her Banksy-like publicity stunts are quite cleverly staged by director Craig Gillespie (I, Tonya). Paul Walter Hauser steals scenes left and right as a Cockney grifter, but Stone owns the show as someone whose genius won’t be kept down. This Disney film’s for all the weird little kids who aren’t well-behaved enough to be princesses and have bizarre creative visions running through their heads. Also with Joel Fry, John McCrea, Emily Beecham, Kayvan Novak, Kirby Howell-Baptiste, Andrew Leung, and Mark Strong. 

Escape Room: Tournament of Champions (PG-13) The best thing about this series continues to be the production design, as the characters are placed in killer environments that look nothing like the settings of other horror movies. Alas, when a movie’s best element is its set design, that’s always a bad sign. Taylor Russell and Logan Miller reprise their roles from the first film, as their characters go to New York to take revenge on the designers of the lethal escape rooms that they extricated themselves from. The Big Apple turns out to have more escape rooms waiting for them, in the forms of a subway car, a seaside crab shack, and an Art Deco bank lobby, among others. Watching these characters try to do math and solve word puzzles or be scalded to death with acid is quite a bit less thrilling than it sounds, and we come no closer to discovering the people behind the curtain. This entire story is a labyrinth that only leads to dead ends. Also with Thomas Cocquerel, Holland Roden, Indya Moore, Carlito Olivero, and Deborah Ann Woll. 

F9 (PG-13) Better late than never that the series goes all the way silly. Dom (Vin Diesel) has to go up against the younger brother (John Cena) he disowned who’s now an international superspy aiming to take over the world. Also, Han (Sung Kang) is brought back from the dead and Roman and Tej (Tyrese Gibson and Ludacris) go into outer space in a Pontiac Fiero. Both of those developments are ridiculous, and one of them is so in a pleasing way. The drama is soft-boiled, and Cena is wasted in a role that doesn’t let him be funny. Then again, the car chases — one involves cars with superpowered magnets that turn other cars into projectiles — are enough to keep the movie fresh for its fans. Also with Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Nathalie Emmanuel, Lucas Black, Vinnie Bennett, Finn Cole, Thue Ersted Rasmussen, Shea Whigham, Michael Rooker, Charlize Theron, Kurt Russell, Helen Mirren, Cardi B, and an uncredited Jason Statham.

The Forever Purge (R) White supremacists in Texas start a violent revolution declaring that the Purge is now every day. It makes for the most watchable of the films in the series, mostly because a descent into total anarchy always made more sense than a system that includes just one Purge day. Director Everardo Gout focuses on one rich white family and the undocumented Mexican couple working for them as they flee the chaos by making a run for the Mexican border. Gout executes a nice one-take tracking shot as the main characters dash across the streets of El Paso with murder and carnage happening around them. The series should have done this sooner, as the ending sets up an interesting situation going forward. Starring Josh Lucas, Will Patton, Ana de la Reguera, Leven Rambin, Cassidy Freeman, Tenoch Huerta, Susie Abromeit, Alejandro Edda, Sammi Rotibi, Will Brittain, and Veronica Falcón. 

The Green Knight (R) David Lowery’s most complete film yet is this strange, mystical adaptation of the 14th-century poem about Sir Gawain. Dev Patel portrays the medieval knight, who beheads a knight (Ralph Ineson) who challenges him and then has to keep an appointment the next year to receive a return blow from the victim, who’s very much alive despite being decapitated. Lowery’s customary brand of mythic fantasy fits this story better than any of his previous ones, and he has a flair for the unexpected visual, like the Green Knight laying his axe down on a stone castle floor and grass immediately sprouting from the cracks. The borderline-abstract interiors and the blasted heaths and moors make for spectacular backdrops. At times Lowery needs to crack on with the story, but the overly long fake ending serves a purpose in tying the poem to the director’s ongoing concerns with human beings’ purpose on Earth. For a movie adapted from a 600-year-old poem, its weirdness is entirely appropriate. Also with Alicia Vikander, Joel Edgerton, Sean Harris, Sarita Choudhury, Barry Keoghan, Erin Kellyman, and Kate Dickie. 

The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard (R) Loud, obnoxious, and unfunny, this sequel to the 2017 comedy stars Ryan Reynolds as a disgraced ex-bodyguard who is engaged to save his former client (Samuel L. Jackson) by the guy’s wife (Salma Hayek). She’s menopausal, which at least gives her a reason for being foul-mouthed, reckless, and violent. What’s the other guys’ excuses? Director Patrick Hughes spends entirely too much time with these loathsome characters, whole absorption in the tiny details of their lives is annoying rather than funny, and not enough time shooting up the place. Also with Gary Oldman, Frank Grillo, Richard E. Grant, Tom Hopper, Caroline Goodall, Rebecca Front, and Antonio Banderas. 

Joe Bell (R) Made from the last movie script written by the late Larry McMurtry, this film doesn’t measure up to his previous efforts for the screen. Based on a real-life story, it stars Mark Wahlberg as the title character, who goes on a walk across America to speak out about bullying and honor the memory of his gay teenage son (Reid Miller), who killed himself because of the harassment he endured in his Oregon small town. The best reason to see this is the newcomer Miller, who isn’t cowed by the big names in this cast and shows toughness as he portrays the boy’s spirit walking alongside his dad, telling him home truths and singing Lady Gaga songs. However, the movie fails to come to any sort of dramatic point, and it fails to convey the message that it wants to. Also with Connie Britton, Maxwell Jenkins, Morgan Lily, Blaine Maye, and Gary Sinise.

Jungle Cruise (PG-13) Thuddingly mediocre Disney entry has none of the technical dazzle of Raiders of the Lost Ark nor any of the bracing weirdness of the better Pirates of the Caribbean films. This adventure film based on one of the Disneyland rides is set in 1916 and features Emily Blunt as a British archeologist who travels to Brazil and engages a rough riverboat captain (Dwayne Johnson) to take her on an Amazon expedition to find a lost treasure. The filmmakers are aiming for something like the Bogart-Hepburn chemistry from The African Queen, but it never materializes, and the only actor here who comes correct is Jesse Plemons as a German military officer who serves as a comic villain. This isn’t bad, necessarily. It’s just overwhelmingly Disney. Also with Edgar Ramírez, Jack Whitehall, Veronica Falcón, Andy Nyman, and Paul Giamatti. 

Old (PG-13) M. Night Shyamalan remains great at putting the camera in the right place and moving it around, and also remains terrible at writing. Adapting Pierre Oscar Lévy and Frederik Peeters’ French graphic novel, the film stars Gael García Bernal and Vicky Krieps as parents of young children who take a vacation on a secluded beach and discover along with a few other groups of vacationers that the place is causing them to age rapidly. As always, Shyamalan creates enviable shots and goes easy on the sentimentality that has marred some of his previous work, but the film goes on too long and the trademark plot twist here (different from the one in the graphic novel) doesn’t pay off well enough. Ranking in the middle of the pack of Shyamalan’s films, this keeps you interested but no more. Also with Alex Wolff, Thomasin McKenzie, Abbey Lee, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Ken Leung, Eliza Scanlen, Embeth Davidtz, Aaron Pierre, Emun Elliott, Kathleen Chalfant, Gustaf Hammarsten, Francesca Eastwood, and Rufus Sewell. 

Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway (PG) The sequel to the 2016 kids’ movie acknowledges the original movie’s flaws, though that somehow doesn’t make it more charming. Peter (voiced by James Corden) settles in with his new human keepers (Domhnall Gleeson and Rose Byrne), but then runs off after a book publisher (David Oyelowo) tries to make him into the villain of the books being published about him. The proceedings pick up a bit when Peter falls in with a hardened big-city rabbit (voiced by Lennie James) who knew his dad, but it’s not near enough to lift this. The book publisher wants to turn the Peter Rabbit stories into some overly hip kids’ adventure, which is what the movie succeeds in doing to Beatrix Potter’s work. Additional voices by Margot Robbie, Elizabeth Debicki, Aimee Horne, Colin Moody, Damon Herriman, Rupert Degas, Sia, and Hayley Atwell.

Pig (R) Nicolas Cage says, “I want my pig back!” That may sound like the setup for a wacky comedy, but this film is actually a moody, elegiac meditation on loss and food. Cage plays a former star chef-turned-loner in the Oregon woods whose beloved truffle pig is kidnapped one night. Director/co-writer Michael Sarnoski treats Portland’s food scene like it’s the Mafia, replete with an underground fight club made up of the city’s restaurant workers. All the major characters are haunted by the deaths of people close to them, and we’re given some lovely lyrical performances by Cage (underplaying for once, and to good effect), Alex Wolff as a truffle buyer, and Adam Arkin as the don who runs the restaurant business. The film is wise in the ways of how food can move us in unexpected ways, making it one of the best — and certainly the weirdest — food film you’ll see all year. Also with Darius Pierce, Gretchen Corbett, David Knell, and Tom Walton.

A Quiet Place Part II (PG-13) A worthy successor to the 2018 horror hit, this sequel expands the world of the original, with the surviving family members (Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds, and Noah Jupe) abandoning their family farm to shelter with a neighbor (Cillian Murphy) and find a sanctuary on an island untouched by the alien invasion. Murphy’s presence is a nice touch, as he recalls his starring role in 28 Days Later and gives a nice performance as a survivor of the apocalypse who’s haunted by his lost loved ones. Besides telling us some things about our core characters that we didn’t know, writer-director John Krasinski also delivers on a couple of bravura sequences, one with a pre-credit extended flashback and another involving a pack of rapist-cannibals. The series continues to build character and suspense with a minimum of dialogue. Also with Djimon Hounsou, Dean Woodward, Scoot McNairy, and John Krasinski.

Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain (R) This documentary’s methods are as troubling as its subject, the famed and tormented chef and travel TV host. Director Morgan Neville (20 Feet From Stardom) interviews Bourdain’s friends and details his addictive personality, which manifested itself in youthful drug use and later transformed into insatiable wanderlust and obsessive plunges into relationships and hobbies. Unfortunately, the filmmaker does not interview Asia Argento, the Italian actress and filmmaker who was Bourdain’s last companion. It’s a shame, because some of the interviewees clearly blame her for Bourdain’s suicide. Neville’s fixation on the circumstances around Bourdain’s death borders on morbid. The film contains some unfiltered reactions by Bourdain’s friends who haven’t yet processed their emotions about him, which is both a virtue and a failing. Also with David Chang, David Choe, Eric Ripert, Josh Homme, John Lurie, Alison Mosshart, and Ottavia Bourdain.

Snake Eyes (PG-13) For once, one of these G.I. Joe movies has an interesting story to tell. Too bad it’s let down by the action sequences. Henry Golding portrays a fighter who is taken in and trained by a clan of Japanese ninjas, only he intends to betray his benefactors to the yakuza in order to further his own personal agenda of avenging his murdered father. The fight sequences are ruined by choppy editing and director Robert Schwentke. The real shame is that Golding (Crazy Rich Asians) looks like he’s in proper fighting shape, so much that you can overlook his wobbly American accent. The ingredients were all here for something special, but the chefs in the kitchen turned them into hash. Also with Samara Weaving, Andrew Koji, Úrsula Corberó, Peter Mensah, Haruka Abe, Eri Ishida, Takehiro Hira, and Iko Uwais. 

Space Jam: A New Legacy (PG) A worthy successor to the 1996 movie, which is to say it’s just as loud, stupid, cynical, and bereft of any value (entertainment or otherwise) as the original. LeBron James portrays himself as a crappy dad who pushes his teenage son (Cedric Joe) to play basketball when the kid would rather be designing video games. They both get digitized and forced to suit up against an evil basketball team made up of real-life NBA and WNBA stars as well as a whole bunch of characters from Warner Bros.’ intellectual property ranks. The movie’s too busy name-checking characters from Looney Tunes and the DC Comics universe to attempt a coherent story or even fire off any stray jokes that hit. The only way this could be a bigger disgrace to everyone involved is if it had a soaring ballad by R. Kelly over the end credits. Also with Don Cheadle, Sonequa Martin-Green, Khris Davis, Wood Harris, Lil Rel Howery, Sarah Silverman, Steven Yeun, and Michael B. Jordan. Voices by Zendaya, Rosario Dawson, Gabriel Iglesias, Diana Taurasi, Nneka Ogwumike, Klay Thompson, Damian Lillard, and Anthony Davis. 

Stillwater (R) Matt Damon plays an Oklahoma roughneck whose college-student daughter (Abigail Breslin) is caught up in a murder heavily reminiscent of the Amanda Knox case in Marseille. When he finds a lead toward clearing his daughter’s name, he resolves to stay in France and have her freed from prison. Director/co-writer Tom McCarthy (Spotlight) is best when he focuses on the main character’s efforts to adjust to a new country and become a father figure in a new French family. However, the story takes an unforgivably melodramatic and sensationalistic turn about 45 minutes from the end, one which seems to come from a different film altogether. The film is supposed to be about how living in a new place changes you. Had it stuck to that, it might have been really good. Also with Camille Cottin, Lilou Siauvaud, Idir Azougli, Anne Le Ny, and Deanna Dunagan.

12 Mighty Orphans (PG-13) A real-life Fort Worth story becomes a movie made in our own town. Luke Wilson plays “Rusty” Russell, the legendary football coach who arrives to teach math and take over the team at the Fort Worth Masonic Home for Orphans in the late 1920s. Director Ty Roberts and co-writers Lane Garrison and Kevin Meyer labor mightily to avoid the usual clichés of sports dramas with mixed results. The narrative suffers from too much voiceover narration from a doctor and assistant coach (Martin Sheen) explaining how the team became an inspiration to America during the Great Depression, but the hardscrabble setting of Fort Worth a century ago is well-evoked and the football games look ragged the way you’d expect a high-school game from that era to look. Watch for Wayne Knight, cast well against type and making a big impression as a sadistic school dean who believes in corporal punishment. Also with Robert Duvall, Vinessa Shaw, Lane Garrison, Jacob Lofland, Scott Haze, Ron White, Rooster McConaughey, Jake Austin Walker, Larry Pine, and Treat Williams.

 

DALLAS EXCLUSIVES

The Loneliest Whale: The Search for 52 (PG) Joshua Zeman’s documentary is about the plight of a solitary whale whose calls go unrecognized by any other whales in the world.

Ride the Eagle (NR) Jake Johnson stars in this comedy as a man who inherits property from his deceased mother (Susan Sarandon) on the condition that he complete a weird list of tasks that she left for him to do. Also with J.K. Simmons, D’Arcy Carden, Cleo King, and Luis Fernandez-Gil. 

Twist (R) This modern-day adaptation of Oliver Twist stars Raff Law as the orphan caught up in a life of crime. Also with Lena Headey, Rita Ora, Noel Clarke, Jade Alleyne, Leigh Francis, and Michael Caine.

Without Getting Killed or Caught (NR) Tamara Saviano and Paul Whitfield’s documentary traces the life of Texas musician Guy Clark and his relationships with his wife and Townes Van Zandt. 

 

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